Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Sarah Palin Poll

A few days ago, I received this email from a very Right member of my extended family:

PBS Poll on Sarah Palin - Takes 2 seconds !


I am not what the author of this email would call one of the "clear thinking people" (and doubt he/she realized that leaving out the hyphen that should be between "clear" and "thinking" transforms the meaning of that phrase to "people who think and are also translucent"), because I think Gov. Palin is woefully underqualified, dogmatic, abrasive and easily-manipulated. So, I went to the link and clicked the button signifying my feeling that no, Palin is not qualified to be VP.

But the thing stuck in my craw for a while. I told TBO about it last night and conjectured that the desire to influence the results of the poll was particular to the right. I even went so far as to call the manipulation of this unscientific measure of reality part-and-parcel of Right ideology, as well-versed in reality-avoidance as they are, and suggested that this was something the Left, with our many tribes of focused interests, is less susceptible to. Such email campaigns wouldn't work on the Left, I ventured, because too many Letfies would have reservations about passing the thing along, and then made some drunken analogy to PC and Mac users and viruses.

Now I find that this was not the case. In fact, there were mobilization efforts on both sides, with wild swings in the results as either side crashed the servers before it settled into a 50/50 split (which should have been a tip-off).

And this saddens me, not because I find the effort to skew the poll results a silly waste of time that apparently my compatriots on the Left have accepted. It's what the desire to change affect the poll says about our political system. That this uncontextualized, issue-less metric would be given so much weight as to actually encourage mobilization efforts speaks to how shallowly much of the electorate actually engages. We have learned that presidential elections aren't about substantive issues but which side effectively projects their view of reality into the world.

I mean, really, a fucking yes/no/maybe online poll? It has about as much bearing on anything as that Sorting Hat quiz I took that kept putting me into Slytherin.

Palin Abused Powers

Not a surprising outcome of the Troopergate investigation, given what we've seen and heard of this woman so far: the investigation finds Palin abused her powers and created conflicts of interest in her and husband Todd's efforts to get their former brother-in-law fired (though not in firing the troopers boss, as she is empowered to do so without cause).

This I did find, well, if not surprising at least laughably disgusting:

In an e-mail statement, [McCain-Palin campaign spokesperson] Ms. Stapleton said the report showed that the investigation was a “partisan led inquiry run by Obama supporters and the Palins were completely justified in their concern regarding Trooper Wooten given his violent and rogue behavior.” (emphasis mine)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't this investigation already a month in when Palin was tapped for the VP nomination? Meaning that the investigator was in place well before Obama and his supporters gave a flying flip about Palin, or likely even knew who she was.

Seriously, does that campaign care at all about the truth? Even a little? Or is reality just a plaything to be molded to their preconceptions and desired ends?

New York Times: Alaska Inquiry Concludes Palin Abused Powers

Friday, October 10, 2008

What About The Trains?

There is one thing that is basically being ignored by both campaigns that has been burning me up.

People who know me know I love trains, though my reasons for loving trains are usually misunderstood. I'm not a guy who has a train set in his basement where he spends his evenings. I have no model trains and I don't belong to any train or train hobby clubs. I'm not like Peter Dinklage from The Station Agent checking under a locomotive for the kind of trucks it has.

I do subscribe to Trains magazine and I rip through any kind of passenger rail and urban transit articles while kind of flipping through any of the stuff about coal cars, freight, cab signals, and most any other technical things that lots of train geeks love and I get a little bored by.

My love of them comes mostly from the fact that they are still the best way to move people that we have ever come up with. You can move more people on less energy than any other way, outside of pure human propulsion.

So it is killing me that nobody is talking about public transportation during this campaign.

There is a lot of talk about hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric and fuel cells followed by the word "car."

You know, we have got to give up this fascination with individual transportation. There are a hell of a lot more environmental problems with cars than just greenhouse gasses. Cars are the most to blame for the disease known as suburban sprawl. We continue to expand the amount of land that is paved over, which leads to water run-off and polluted drinking water.

Beyond the environmental factors, let's not forget what the biggest cause of preventable death is in America or the main obstacle to quality of life in our cities. So little of any city's space is given over to pedestrians and bikes rather than cars. Even in New York, where we pride ourselves on our subway and how much we walk, we are squeezed in to sometimes very tiny sidewalks while the road next to us has 2 to 5 lanes for traffic and parking on both sides.

Riding a bike in pretty much any east coast city as an actual mode of transportation is a joke. If there are bike lanes people use them for double parking or deliveries.

But with all the talk about the energy crisis and the high price of gas I hear nothing about expanding the public transportation system outside of Biden's one remark that an Obama-Biden administration will be "friendly" to Amtrak.

A lot of talk about making cars run on different stuff (some of it, like ethanol, not any better for the environment than oil) but nothing about how to get people out of their cars altogether.

A massive investment in our local public transportation systems and our national rail network around the country could do so much for us. Bring down the cost of traveling, make our drinking water cleaner, control sprawl by focusing development around transportation instead of the other way around and save a lot of young lives as car accidents kill people under 30 more than anything else.

We could also get some of the clutter out of the sky by pulling people out of planes (the worst carbon footprint of all transportation methods) and onto a real high-speed rail network.

The economy could be helped as well. It has been said by many business groups that traffic congestion in cities causes billions of dollars of losses every year (I've read one estimate of $68 billion).

But we seem stuck on this idea of appeasing the people that need to have their own little capsules to get around. Ones that for some unknown reason we think is important that it can go from zero to 60 in 5 seconds.

We need a real plan to improve our transportation infrastructure. This is an incredibly mobile world we live in now, and I love it like that. But we need to stop doing it in the most inefficient ways we can find.

I guess my call for the candidates to talk about this more is really a call for Obama to talk about it more. McCain is hopeless since he has a long record of hostility to Amtrak and public transportation.

There is some hope. Congress just passed a bill called the Federal Railroad Safety Improvement Act that Bush said he will sign, probably because it passed by veto-proof margins. The bill will include a doubling of Amtrak's current budget over the next five years as well as providing the start-up money for creating high-speed rail corridors.

This is encouraging. People are flocking to Amtrak in droves right now, and it is basically a crappy system. Imagine what they can do with a real budget and with, hopefully, smart management.

(One thing I do like about Biden as VP is that I think he'll have the biggest influence on choosing who gets to run Amtrak)

Congressman Jim Oberstar from Minnesota thinks they can have the first high-speed line between Chicago and Minneapolis-St. Paul up and running in five years. That may be optimistic but that's the kind of thinking we need on this issue.

It's a start. We need to do more and we need to do it now. This is a lot better way to spend our money than giving some guys from Silicon Valley grants to try to invent a car that runs on hemp.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Little Night Music, And A Decision

Up too late again, getting a churning stomach from watching the news.

There is a song that I just can't get out of my head right now, for some pretty obvious reasons.

These are the two best versions I've ever heard:

After my public hand-wringing a few days ago (sorry if that seemed so damned self-important) about whether or not I could vote for Obama, I can say that I've settled that argument with myself.

I will be voting for Barack Obama without reservation or hesitation.

It is that important and, despite some of my disagreements that are still there, I do believe he will be great for this country.

Not that this brilliant revelation to myself matters to any of you. But there it is.

About Time

At long last, a Federal District Judge decides to stand up for the Constitution and call the bullshit for what it is.

Not going to dwell on the fact that it has taken this long, however.

My New Favorite Campaigners

I just read this story about a couple of guys who started a group called Rednecks For Obama.

If I had heard that name without reading the story I would have thought it was someone trying to be ironic or doing a sketch comedy show. But these guys are for real. Real gun-loving, NASCAR fan rednecks who are out there trying to convince their own kind to vote Obama.

They have a website and everything.

A group of southern, pick-up truck with a gun rack-driving, cheap beer-drinking, good ol' boys are out there working to get a black man elected President.

There may yet be hope for this country...

Razor Sharp

Racially tinged slander du jour:

"[Obama] ought to admit...'You know, I've got to be honest with you. I was a guy of the street. I was way to the left. I used cocaine...'"
-- McCain camp co-chair, Frank Keating on Dennis Miller's radio show

It should be noted that Miller did manage to go out of his way to call the cocaine use a non-issue.

Gotta love the Obama response to all of the negative campaigning against him.

"I am surprised that, you know, we've been seeing some pretty over-the-top attacks coming out of the McCain campaign over the last several days, that he wasn't willing to say it to my face..."

Joe Biden came out today with the same message. Brilliant strategy, as it, in essence, puts the spotlight back on the McCain camp's venality. Also, by firmly tying the attacks to their camp it puts them in a double bind. If McCain brings up the attacks at the debates, they lose with undecideds who can't stand the negativity; if McCain doesn't follow through, he looks like a coward AND alienates the base.

All the more important to keep their camp on their toes with all of this anyway. The more they have to tap dance around it, the more they sound like inane broken double-speak Barbie dolls.

If you're at all like me, you end up wondering just who these people are who attend the McCain/Palin rallies and yell out "treason," "terrorist," and "kill him" when they ratchet up the rhetoric. Who is the Republican base? Whose face do I attach to them? Question answered. [More after the video-tbo]


Time for a little introspective reality check.

Todd Palin turned in a written statement regarding his involvement in Troopergate today...For someone who claims not to have been involved too much in this incident, he sure does leave behind a large number of footprints.

Odds are there's more here, and one hopes those in charge will keep digging.

Finally, a couple of military items to bolster the spirits:

First, General David Petraeus (soon to be in charge of the US Armed Forces in the Middle East overall and favored McCain talking point) while discussing strategy in front of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank, came out echoing a lot of what Obama has been saying regarding how to proceed in the area.

Then an encouraging report from HuffPo, describing the upswing of Obama support amidst young military families.

Addendum: The investigation into Sarah Palin's alleged abuse of power releases its findings tomorrow afternoon. (Tip of the hat to PalBrannon.)

Addendum: From Politico's reporting on Palin's appearance on Laura Ingraham's show:

The Alaska governor told Ingraham’s listeners that if those questions were being answered, voters would find Obama “out of the mainstream,” adding that the Illinois senator would diminish “the prestige of the United States presidency.”

Well, she would know...

Addendum: Final YouTube video of the entry. Seeing as we've defined who their base is, what is it they do at these rallies when they're not yelling out epithets or calling for Obama's head?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Letting The Days Go By

Did anybody here catch the Sean Hannity interview with McCain and Palin on Wednesday? If so, could you provide a link. Until then, there's Alex Koppelman's tantalizing recap.

Elsewhere, Cindy "I Was Hooked On Pills Misappropriated From My Medical Charity Foundation" McCain is getting in on the act. Charming. Expect another wave of "Michelle Obama once said 'whitey' in college."

Should Michelle stay out of it? My vote is yes. They're punching below the belt in order to get a reaction. Then again, Michelle is awfully damn charming. At the very least, keep her clean.

Also expect to hear a steady amount of them mentioning O's middle name, along with the same lies and distortions, over and over again.

Despite voter feedback to the contrary, McCain's ad spending is now all negative, all the time; they have a base to energize.

While it is heartening to see OpEd pieces questioning their motives, calling out their anti-intellectuallism, and fighting back in general (see YouTube video below); it is not enough.

Note to media and those of us who consume it: Letting all discourse get mired down in this crap simply should not happen. Not only is there too much time left, there's far too many policy matters left unaddressed by this over-simplification of the issues, and the abuses used to proliferate this same over-simplification too grand to just let it boil down to "negative politics as usual."

Wednesday's most talked about footage on this last front details FOXNews' Sean Hannity airing of an "investigative program" called Obama & Friends: The History of Radicalism; which heavily featured the "findings" of one Andy Martin, a known anti-Semite. Fast-forward to Tuesday, after the debate, Hannity has Obama operative Robert Gibbs on the show, and, predictably, starts trying to tie Obama to William Ayers. Gibbs then masterfully turns the tables on Hannity. Take a look:

Take a point off the tally

One of the things I thought McCain likely scored a point with last night was his plan to buy mortgages and refinance them at their current value. It has a common sense ring to it, and one I imagine plays well to trouble Middle America. The fact that the homeowner won't be bailed out, but rather readjusted to a different expectation of repayment, appeals to their sense of fairness while also solving their individual problems.

But, as I sensed was possible last night before I had looked into it, it won't work. Or at least this is the opinion of Georgetown law professor Adam Levitin, as detailed in Salon's "How the World Works" column.

In fact, the basic premise of the "American Homeownership Resurgence Plan" belies a lack of understanding of the fundamental interconnectedness, or the Gordian Knot is perhaps more accurate, of financial markets. These mortgages aren't quaint notes on parchment stored down at the City Hall; they are complex financial products with complex ownership relationships.

But, I don't think that matters to McCain, because the plan is really a chit being played in a political game. His campaign knew it would sound good, and that would be enough for Joe SixPack. "Details are for elite sissies, or any other rube foolish enough to think I actually believe this plan will ever see the legislative light of day."

McCain's a flip-flopping, disingenuous hypocrite. He's rolling out a loose, detail-less "plan" that will hugely inflate government and demand giant piles of taxpayer money, shredding any notion of him as a conservative or even vaguely competent to help run this economy. Don't hesitate to disabuse anybody that spouts McCain's plan of the notion it is workable or sensible or coherent, and don't doubt this shows just how without ideals McCain is in pursuit of victory.

Salon: The fatal flaw in McCain's mortgage plan

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Obama v. McCain II: The Quickening


Pre-Debate Reading

I’m a little worked up heading into tonight’s debate, perhaps you’ve noticed? Whether an over-reaction to the phrase “lesser of two evils” or a somewhat kneejerk response to a comrade even mentioning possibility of voting for someone other than Obama, however well-reasoned; I think it’s fair to say that I’m fairly close to crossing over the emotional line and getting a little too involved.

Understand, I’ve seen negative campaigning before; my umbrage has been raised numerous times in the past, whether by the obvious race baiting behind the Willie Horton tactic, to the hypocrisy surrounding the Lewinski ferago, to Swift Boaters…For hell’s sake, I was in Colorado Springs at the beginning of Colorado’s Amendment 2 campaign, and that was before the Ted Haggards and the Focus on the Family were housed there.

All the same, this one feels a little closer to home, and if you’ll forgive me for pointing out the obvious, I do believe it is the extra pigment in my skin. I do try not to let that aspect of my person run roughshod over my writings here, but McCain/Palin and their ilk have now made that virtually impossible.

It has gotten to the point where I marvel at the restraint most of the women on The View have when it comes to that scion of “white privilege” Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Have you seen her recently? Makes me want to print out ten copies of Tim Wise’s recent lengthy screed and stuff it down her throat.

All other opinions aside, I have to point out that Roosevelt’s New Deal wasn’t the New Deal until Roosevelt himself was elected. Until then, all it referred to was a then-recently published book that Roosevelt turned into a talking point, to use the modern parlance.

Media wise:

- Joe Klein’s piece in Swampland, Time magazine’s blog, did a lot to calm me down, and echoes my thoughts perfectly on what has become of the John McCain name (all of which is regrettably reinforced by the Rolling Stone piece linked to earlier in the week). Tip of the hat to Swine.

- Only to have that calm disturbed again at the recent on-air shenanigans displayed by Tom Brokaw; which, when added to the revelations brought on by getting to know Steve Schmidt, the architect of McCain’s foray into Dada politics, had me reaching for the immodium. Thanks Los Angeles Times.

- Finally brought to reason again by reading Salon’s Gary Kamiya, who traces the current smear tactics back to their source, Barry Goldwater, the other extreme Republican conservative presidential candidate from Arizona.

How about we finish on a couple of up notes?

Let’s start with Jerome Corsi, one of the original Swift Boaters for Truth, who recently traveled to Kenya in order to find Obama’s half brother so he could give him some money. Some kind of half-baked stunt the results of which I’m not too sure about. Anyway, he was arrested near Nairobi for not having a work permit. A bureaucratic snafu, no doubt; however, the notion does warm the cockles. UPDATE: The AP notes that Corsi has now been deported out of Kenya.

Lastly, here’s last night’s Keith Olbermann on Sarah Palin (tip of the hat to momentofchoice).

One Progressive's Dilemma

I am not a Democrat. I'm not sure since we started this blog if that was clear or not. I'm certainly not a Republican and I have never voted for anyone with an "R" next to their name in my entire 20 years (holy crap!) of voting.

I am a liberal. Or a progressive. Or whatever word we use now that hasn't been successfully demonized by the right-wing attack machine. I'm sitting here right now wearing a red shirt with the words "Godless Liberal" emblazoned across the front.

But I am no water carrier for the Democratic Party. They have been a major source of disappointment in my lifetime and by the time I reached my mid-twenties I got sick of them winning my vote because they happened to suck a little less than the other guys. And they don't always suck that much less, John Murtha is just as corrupt, if not more so, than Tom Delay ever was.

I have continued to vote for many Democrats over the years, the ones I felt earned it. But I have not voted for the Democratic nominee for President since 1992. And yes, so you can get your fist-banging on the desk out of the way, I did vote for Nader in 2000. I know you're probably still mad at me for that. So is my wife. But I lived in a state Gore won, so get off me.

This year, what do I do? The idea of voting for someone who could be the first non-white person to ever be the President of our country is very exciting to me. The fact that it is someone who is smart and articulate makes it all the more appealing. With our relationships with, well, everyone else in the world in the crapper, he just might be what we need right now.

But does he deserve my vote?

My vote is all I've got, it belongs to me and no one else. (Something that has always made me angry about blaming Nader was the claim that those were "Gore's votes" that went to Nader instead. Bullshit, my vote belongs to me until I give it freely to a candidate. Gore didn't lose my vote because he never had it.)

I've never been disillusioned about Obama, he's a major party's politician and I've known for a long time that his claims about not taking any money from lobbyists or corporate interests is, at best, a major stretching of the truth. The two biggest recipients of donations form the health insurance industry this campaign cycle have been Clinton and Obama.

But I know that there are things that need to be done to win elections in this stupid money-driven system that we have. And I've been at the ready to finally vote Democratic again.

But now I'm not sure.

There are a lot of red flags that are making this 38 year-old hear the voice of his 24 year-old self screaming at him to consider what he's thinking about doing. (Something I wish would have happened to John Kerry four years ago, I could have voted for the Vietnam era Kerry, the one who asked Congress how they would ask a man to be the last one to die for a mistake.)

Obama has spoken about expanding programs that give tax money to faith-based organizations and supported the Supreme Court's decision to strike down Washington DCs gun laws, among other things. And then he gave his full support to a $700 billion giveaway to Wall Street without once trying to propose something that helps the economy from the bottom up, a phrase that he has used a lot but seems to only mean giving people a little tax cut and nothing else.

Certainly his health care plan is not as horrifying as McCain's, but it still keeps the power in the insurance industry and gets us no closer to the universal coverage plan that the majority of Americans want.

I am going to be a father before this election happens. What do I want to be able to tell my daughter? That I was one of the ones who voted for the first black man to be elected President or that no matter what I stuck to my principles and voted my conscience?

I don't claim to have figured out the answer to that question yet.

Do I want john McCain to be President? Good god, no. The very thought of that is disturbing, and even worse is the thought of him dying in office and this country being taken over by the court jester.

Admittedly, I have the luxury to be able to consider this. Obama is in no danger of losing New York. I have never had that dilemma during my other presidential elections either, always living in a state that the Democrat wins (IL in '92, WA in '96, IL in '00, MA in '04, the one exception in all my voting-age years was when Daddy Bush won IL in '88, and I voted for Dukakis that time).

Would I be having this argument with myself if I lived in Ohio? I doubt it. I absolutely prefer Obama to be sworn-in on January 20th over the only other legitimate option.

I just don't know if I can go in to the booth and pull the lever for someone I am not convinced is not just as beholden to corporate interests as McCain, Clinton and Bush.

I'm not even sure how good my other options are this time. Nader went off the reservation years ago and it is now about his ego and not building a legit third party in America. The Green Party, who had a great candidate in David Cobb in 2004, have nominated that crazy Cynthia McKinney, who talks a good talk about the working class but has shown she thinks she's better than them.

I'm guessing my only other alternative is to write-in Dennis Kucinich.

But I'm ready to be convinced either way.

I'm ready for someone to have a go at talking me down, much like Rachel Maddow does on her new show. I've discovered that we've got some pretty thoughtful and smart readers in this little corner of the blog world we created here. So if anyone is up to the task...

But right now, I just don't know.

This is what a counter-punch looks like

I have to say, for me, Palin's recent humping of the Ayers dog has been a low point of the campaign so far. Her attempt to paint Obama with terrorist taint because of his acquaintanceship with Ayers, despite that fact Obama denounced Ayers former activities, is sickening, and frankly an attempt to tie into racist leanings that want to connect Obama to every dark-skinned, funny-named monster lurking in Joe SixPack's collective psyche.

So, here's the counter-punch, and the Obama campaign ought to go ahead and use it. David Talbot talks in Salon today about the Palins and the Alaska Independence Party. Founded by a continually-armed man whose rhetoric was incendiary to say the least and who spoke at the UN under the auspices of Iran, the AIP held Todd Palin as a member and their tactics were given the old Sarah Palin wink-and-nod when she was governor.

It is time for the Obama campaign to step things up a bit. If they want to fight a personality campaign, let's expose just how wretched, self-centered and hypocritical their personalities are.

In Al Franken's book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, he tells the story of the time Paul Wolfowitz said to him "Fuck you!" at the White House Press Dinner. And Franken concludes the book, which exposed so much Right-wing dissembling and treachery and malice, saying, and I paraphrase, "The next time an asshole like Paul Wolfowitz says 'Fuck you!,' look him in the eye and say, 'No, fuck YOU.'"

It is time to counter-punch, it is time to say to these two ruthless, lying (sons-a-)bitches, "No, fuck YOU."

Monday, October 6, 2008

The New Tone

First, there's the wholly vile and deplorable "article/column" (which will be changed to "Limbaugh-esque satire" soon enough) written by McCain Campaign chair Bobby May from Virginia.

Then there's the footage of McCain at a recent stump speech in New Mexico, where McCain, after asking "who is the real Barack Obama?" is answered "terrorist" by the crowd and follows that up with his traditional "my friends" before continuing.


Addition from JJ:

So, the PitBull, in between blaming Obama for actions of an acquaintance taken when Obama was 8 years old and muttering a subtextual "darkie" under her breath, warns Florida voters that she an McCain are going to be a rough trick the next month.

Exactly what is that going to mean? How much further can they go? They're calling a US Senator a terrorist on a regular basis, and clearly doing some covert race-baiting.

And, coming back to the whole "lay off Sarah's family" shtick, I was reminded of McCain's Clinton joke - "Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because Janet Reno is her father!" - and want to see Obama start taking some body shots on character, with hypocrisy at the forefront. That's what I want tonight.

It Sure Ain't Your Grandpa's New Deal

Sorry for my lack of words for the last few days, since the VP debate. Preparations for the imminent arrival of baby are really starting to take up a lot of time, especially on the weekends.

So we now have a $700 billion bailout plan. What I'm not clear on is if that figure is inclusive of the $150 billion worth of "sweeteners" they added on to win over more members of the House or if what we really have is an $850 billion bill.

I'm so mad about this I can barely stand it. And not for the same reasons as the "fiscal conservative, free market" Republicans that voted against it. They think you should just leave the free market alone and let what happens, well, happen.

The problem with that mindset is that what just happened is what happens.

No, I hate this because it is nothing more than a big giveaway for the people who created this mess and does nothing to help the financial situation for most people in this country. The claims by politicians that the bill includes limits to executive pay is greatly exaggerated as nothing stops these companies form paying their CEOs huge salaries, just a limit to their severance packages.

We missed a great opportunity in this country to create a real economic recovery bill and we blew it. We could have done something to grow this economy from the ground up, as Obama likes to talk about but seems to not have any real proposals for such a thing. Like FDR rebuilt the economy during the Great Depression.

(I wonder if it will eventually become known as National Depression I, the same way that the Great War became World War I when there was another great war, after we finally admit that we will be in another depression just as big soon enough?)

We really had the chance to kill several birds with one stone by forming a new public works program. We already know that the infrastructure in this country is crumbling, or as I heard Rachel Maddow put it one time during the primary season, it is "made of sugar."

$700 billion could have gone a long way to fixing/replacing aging bridges, roads, fixing up our neglected national parks, building clean energy facilities like wind farms, fully funding and expanding Amtrak (including starting a real high-speed rail system), building new public transportation systems in cities without them as well as expanding and modernizing old ones in cities like New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago.

We would have put people in the construction business to work almost immediately, one of the biggest needs right now with almost no new homes being built. So many more jobs would be created with all those people back to work and going out and spending their money in our economy.

This would help a lot of people, though not all, who are behind on their mortgages keep their houses. Combine that with something the feds should be doing, but the states have started to do themselves, forcing the banks to work out new lower mortgage rates for subprime borrowers.

Other primary benefits would be a modernized infrastructure that is not falling apart, cleaner energy sources and more transportation options in a time of higher gas prices and concerns about greenhouse gasses. All of these are things that we desperately need.

If we are going to add another $700 billion+ to our Chinese credit card, wouldn't this be a better use of that money?

I'm not delusional about the idea that this kind of bill would have actually gotten through a Congress with too many Republicans and a president who would have vetoed it and called it Socialism.

But I am disappointed that Obama didn't take the opportunity to call for something like this and instead supported the payoff to corporate America. We can't build the economy from the bottom up with just talk and no action.

And then there is John "as president I'll veto every pork-barrel spending bill that crosses my desk and I will make them famous" McCain, who had no problem voting yes on a bill that may actually be the most pork-laden one in history.

I'll be writing my next post, more than likely, about the dilemma, as a progressive, of whether or not to vote for Obama to expand on my statement of disappointment above.

I'm also planning on expounding on the issue of transportation soon, an issue near and dear to me and something I'm not hearing enough (or anything, really) about from any candidate. Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Man Behind the Myth

I've finally escaped from my zombie-enforced seclusion from the rest of the world, and have had a lot of catching-up to do.

First was watching the Biden-Palin debate, or at least as much as I could stomach. How she managed to fool anyone into believing that was a competent performance just because she managed not to fall off stage, stand in utter, uncomfortable silence or shoot Biden with a moose-hunting gun is beyond me.

And then there was this profile of John McCain in Rolling Stone, which puts the lie to pretty much every aspect of his carefully constructed maverick myth. Chilling, really, to hear the opinions of so many in his past - he's called a brat, a bully, a hothead, an opportunist, and none of it comes across as incompatible to what I see in the man.

But that's the thing. It, as a story of a man, fit neatly within my own constructions of him. But I can't imagine handing this article to a Republican in-law and it having any bearing on their opinion. They would dismiss it all out of hand as McCain-hating liberal bias. As I've mentioned before, I believe the Right has built an immunity to cognitive dissonance.

I've concluded, just this weekend, after the debate and this profile and Palin's "palling around with terrorists" remarks, that if McCain-Palin were to win, it wouldn't be the country getting it wrong, it wouldn't be our democracy hijacked. It would time for us to accept that maybe this really isn't the urban-ites' country. That the US really is a country of bullies and dimwits and angry dogmatic indignation.

Because, really, at that point, how would we be able to deny it? They elect this angry, flip-flopping bullshitter and his attack dog/fluffer, and the proof will be in the pudding.

Here Come The Smears

"Our opponent ... is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country..."
-- Sarah Palin, speaking at a fundraiser in Denver suburb, Englewood, CO

And, with that, the Republicans open the smear salvo that, one assumes, they intend to feed the public for a month straight. This smear does the double-job of implanting a subliminal image of that picture of Obama in Kenyan garb sharing a hookah with a similarly attired Osama Bin Laden, all the while specifically referencing convicted Weather Underground member William Ayers.

Never mind that Obama has repeatedly distanced himself for Ayers' prior views, never mind that there isn't any evidence for the basis of the charge, they're gonna make this claim early and often. May I add, with Ayers now in the open, can Tony Rezko and Rev. Jeremiah Wright be far behind? The timing says no, they're not. Expect to hear about them in the coming week or two.

When asked about the tactic, the McCain/Palin camp points to recent Obama ads obliquely referring to McCain's age (i.e. - "[McCain's] erratic in a crisis, out of touch on the economy"). To which the obvious question becomes "how is calling out a 72 year old presidential candidate for his age even remotely the same as saying the black dude with the funny name is chilling with bomb loving terrorists?"

Ever resourceful, today Obama's camp warned, in essence, "two can play that game." Goodness knows both McCain and even Palin, with her minimalistic resume behind her, have several troublesome connections of their own. Not that by pursuing this course the Obama camp could change any minds along their base; as JJ frequently points out, the Republican base has continually proven they are impervious to cognitive dissonance. I'd say it's just important for Obama's side to show that the are willing to go there if necessary, this act alone shows he's willing to stand up to the bullying...

As truth evades the McCain campaign in the same manner sobriety evades Andy Dick, it is this very quality we must demand from those who will undoubtedly spread these talking points. Make comparisons to the Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae lobbyist who is a McCain campaign consultant. And should they fall back on the increasingly tiresome ploy that all they are doing is expressing their opinion, remind them that opinions are not the same as fact.

Either that, or you could emulate Larry Flint, and create a satirically minded porno. (Link to porn script, still NSFW.)