links, commentary, toons, pics, fun!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Barack Obama doesn't know how to use a phone!!!
And he wants to be President???

Classy. (vid)
Get ready for a long campaign

Also classy:
They loved to hate Hillary Rodham Clinton. They loved to hate Teresa Heinz Kerry. And now, it appears, conservative voices are energetically taking on Michelle Obama.

"Mrs. Grievance" bellowed the cover of a recent National Review, which featured a photo of a fierce-looking Obama. The magazine's online edition titled an essay about her stump speech "America's Unhappiest Millionaire."

Michelle Malkin, the popular conservative blogger, called her "Obama's bitter half."

Even the relatively liberal online magazine Slate piled on. In a piece subtitled "Is Michelle Obama responsible for the Jeremiah Wright fiasco?" the contrarian Christopher Hitchens blamed her for her husband's pastor troubles since she was a member of the church first.

The would-be first lady does not make pronouncements about policy and has insisted that her priority in the White House would be her two young daughters. But Obama has an earthy sense of humor that sometimes gets her in trouble.
Fox News jumps into the fun: They're describing MO as "Obama's Baby Mama"

And speaking of Michelle, here's a profile of her by the New Yorker. It's from back in March, but I had missed it.

Dick Morris is kind of a, uh, dick, but in this column he makes the (correct, I think) point that this election will essentially boil down to if Obama can convince the country that he's "one of us:"
he comes from a world few white voters know or understand and the fear lingers that he is some kind of latter-day Manchurian candidate, a sleeper agent, poised to take control of the United States government.

What makes all this particularly difficult to fathom is that Barack Obama is a mild mannered intellectual, with a marvelous sense of poise and decorum, who handles himself eloquently and with dignity and comes to politics with a style and grace we have not seen since JFK. His pedigree includes Columbia University and Harvard Law where he was editor of the Law Review. He taught constitutional law. In his manner and his appearance he is as far from his controversial background and associates as one could possibly imagine.
I doubt that this election will be close. Either Obama or McCain will probably win it in a landslide, depending on whether or not Obama can fulfill his existential mission of explaining to the American people who he really is.
That certainly jibes with this polling anamoly:

Sen. Barack Obama begins the general election campaign against Sen. John McCain with a 47% to 41% lead in the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, "but not so great an edge as might be expected given the gale-force political headwinds against" Republicans.

When asked without candidate names, Democrats hold a 16-point advantage, 51% to 35%, on which party they want to win the White House.

Along those lines, Obama's got a new "fight the smears" page. Karen Tumulty has the backstory:

As long as there have been rumors in politics, there has been one widely accepted way for a candidate to deal with them. Basically, it's not to. Otherwise, according to prevailing wisdom, all a candidate achieves is to elevate the rumors to a legitimate story for the media to feast on. That don't-go-there approach was Barack Obama's plan for months until, on the candidate's first full day of campaigning as his party's presumed presidential nominee, a reporter from McClatchy Newspapers who was traveling aboard his plane asked him about a particularly toxic bit of hearsay that was zooming around the Internet about his wife Michelle. Obama lost his cool. "We have seen this before. There is dirt and lies that are circulated in e-mails, and they pump them out long enough until finally you, a mainstream reporter, asks me about it," Obama said, bristling. "That gives legs to the story. If somebody has evidence that myself or Michelle or anybody has said something inappropriate, let them do it."

That night, in a conference call, Obama told his top aides it was time for a more aggressive solution to the rumors that have been popping up on the Internet about him and his family for months. And so the Obama campaign has built what might best be described as a Web-based rumor clearinghouse, located at, in which it hopes all the shady stories about Obama's faith, his family and his rumored connections with controversial figures can go to die.

Interestingly, Obama already had a "fact check" site, but there may be a reason for creating a new page:

Wired's Thomas Goetz emails to make a great point about Obama's big rollout today:

By putting their own website out there front-and-center, and then getting everybody to link to it (starting with all the media covering the launch of the site), the result will be to drive towards the top of a Google search on, say, "obama muslim" or "michelle obama whitey". Ideally, if enough of the pro-Obama network links to, it'll drive the sites that peddle in the rumor-mongering, which are now the first results on said searches, off the top of the results list. Ideal long term result: any curious low-information voter who eventually bothers to google these pesky rumors will immediately be led to the debunking rather than the rumor.

My take: Did the Obama campaign create to game Google? If so, they're even more net-savvy than folks give them credit for.

Indeed, Obama already had a protype of this page connected to his Fact Check site, and even bought Google ads linking it. But this wave of publicity will probably push the new site to the top of Google to stay.

Michael Gerson sez:

The style and approach of general election campaigns are often conditioned by the method of victory in the primaries. The Obama team ends the season like a battle-worn Army division -- organized, relentless and skilled at fundraising, registering voters and getting them to the polls. Members of the McCain team feel more like survivors of a near-death experience -- convinced that the virtues of their candidate and the blessings of the political gods matter more than the money, phone banks and door-knocking of traditional politics.

that doesn't sound like a great strategy on McCain's part. The more time goes by since the primary ended the more I think it's all the better it lasted so long. Obama's campaign has been tested and challenged, and I think they're stronger for it. McCain got lucky. Sounds like his plan is to get lucky again.

It is a battle between Republican supply-side economics and a Democratic tradition that uses government levers to try to reduce inequality and spur the economy.

Mr. McCain, who once opposed the Bush tax cuts in part because they favored the wealthy, has now made extending those cuts a central plank in his economic plan, which is based largely on the Republican credo that tax reductions stimulate the economy. And he is pushing another strain of fiscal conservatism that has not been much in evidence of late: a call for smaller government and a vow to cut pork-barrel spending.

He often adds a dash of populism, speaking against excessive corporate pay packages on Tuesday, and has pushed for a gasoline-tax reprieve. And while Mr. McCain has portrayed his tax cuts as benefiting the middle class, most of the benefits would go to the wealthy and to corporations, including his calls for the elimination of the alternative minimum tax.

Mr. Obama often speaks of the traditional liberal goal of trying to redistribute the tax burden to reduce economic inequality, and at least in his public pronouncements has not emphasized the market-friendly, deficit-reduction aspects of the economic approach credited to former President Bill Clinton and former Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin in the 1990s. Mr. Obama's plan would raise taxes on those making more than $250,000 by allowing Mr. Bush's tax cuts on top earners to expire, and he has signaled that he would consider increasing the current cap on income subject to the Social Security payroll tax.

He has also proposed, for instance, more spending on providing access to health care, which critics say would widen the deficit when coupled with tax cuts. While Mr. McCain asserted in a speech in Washington on Tuesday that under Mr. Obama's tax plan Americans of every background would see their taxes rise, Mr. Obama's plan calls for cutting taxes on people earning less than $75,000 a year and for eliminating federal income taxes on elderly citizens who make less than $50,000 a year.

The economy has emerged as the top concern of voters in the presidential race, supplanting terrorism and the Iraq war as gasoline prices and unemployment have gone up and housing values and stock prices have gone down.

Their differences on the economy are every bit as stark as the difference on the Iraq war, where Mr. Obama favors beginning to withdraw United States troops while Mr. McCain wants to keep them there until they achieve "victory."

Mr. McCain wants to extend the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy, cut corporate taxes and keep capital-gains taxes low. The tax cuts he promotes as benefiting the middle class include doubling the size of the exemption people can claim for each child. And his call for repealing the alternative minimum tax, while it would still help some middle-class taxpayers, would still largely benefit the wealthy: some 80 percent of the benefit would go to the top 10 percent of earners, according to the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan research group in Washington.

Mr. Obama wants to let the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy lapse, and he wants to raise the tax on capital gains and dividends and to tax the windfall profits of oil companies. He also wants to keep the estate tax, which many Republicans deride as the "death tax," on people with estates valued at more than $3.5 million; Mr. McCain would exempt people with estates valued at up to $10 million and would impose a much lower tax rate. Mr. Obama wants to use some of that money to pay for his middle-class tax cut and for the elimination of income taxes on retirees.

CNN explains how your taxes will be effected depending who wins (vid)

McCain hearts Bush

Two former EPA officials are unimpressed with McCain's energy policy:

The world's leading climate scientists are absolutely clear climate change is real and the time for action is now. Barack Obama has made bold and comprehensive proposals that will deliver the deep emission reductions scientists say are essential. Although McCain once introduced legislation, his current positions on energy, renewables and a cap and trade program are simply outdated; they have not kept pace with the times.

Obama's reaching out to religious leaders:

Folks, I've been telling you for awhile now, the rules of the game have definitely changed during this election. Obama has made religion a very important part of the presidential race. He is reaching out to conservative and liberal religious leaders alike.

The fact that Billy Graham's son, his successor, met with Obama before he met with McCain says a lot about Obama's religious outreach efforts. They are being VERY pro-active.

Taibbi on Hillary:

As a symbol of feminist resolve, Clinton was a smashing success and an inspiration of historical proportions. Generations of young women will grow up remembering this race as a great national lesson in which the country was taught that a woman can succeed in head-to-head combat with men through sheer blood-and-guts aggressiveness and pugilistic resolve, while it is men who sometimes have to resort to good looks and charm to get over in life. As a smasher of stereotypes (not only female stereotypes but male ones as well), Clinton has no equal in modern history. And if that was her thinking in staying in the race, I'd have a hard time arguing with her logic.

But there are two problems with this somewhat heroic interpretation of Clinton's campaign.

The first is that in order for Clinton to continue a campaign whose only logical pretext was as a symbolic campaign against sexism and sexist stereotypes, it appears that she and her supporters felt it necessary to turn Obama into a villain, a symbol both of male iniquity and of the sins of a male-dominated society.

Because turning Obama into a sexist was rhetorically necessary to justify Clinton's scorched-earth campaign, the last few months of the Democratic nominating process became a strange exercise in overinterpretative internet sleuthing and conspiratorial thinking, with the result being that by the end of the process, the use of seemingly suggestive words and gestures began to overtake genuinely regressive policies and the imposition of real barriers as the national definition of what "sexism" is.

Clinton rallied millions of women who were the victims of real sexism behind the cause of her campaign -- and then focused all of their real and really justified anger and frustration at an otherwise progressive candidate, whose biggest crime against women was that he had honestly and fairly defeated a female opponent on the way to the nomination. The beating Obama took for this supposed offense left deep scars not only on him personally, but perhaps on the Democratic Party heading into the fall -- and this was a punishment that, in my mind at least, did not really fit the crime, unless you were willing to argue that the anti-choice, anti-equal pay Republican Party was somehow no more regressive in its attitudes toward women than would be the Democratic Party under Obama.

So that was one problem with viewing Clinton's campaign through that heroic prism, i.e., that of an inspirational female leader refusing to step aside when told by a male-dominated political hierarchy. The other was that I just don't believe it.

I personally believe that had it been Bill Clinton running and not Hillary, he would have behaved exactly the same way. This was probably a story of an extremely ambitious politician refusing to give up the dream of earthly power, nothing more, nothing less. Hillary stayed in the race because she thought that, by hook or by crook, she could keep it close enough, and bloody Obama's nose enough, to convince the party elders to hand her the nomination.

Or maybe not. Maybe I have this all wrong. The beauty of this kind of analysis is that now all we have to do to finally understand what we saw this spring is wait, watch and see what Clinton does from now on. Her struggle fell a hair short, but now she finds herself in a kind of political purgatory, the leader of a massive, angry voter demographic that will likely follow along to wherever she chooses to take this country.

And it really is up to her. If she lets Obama twist in the wind and sits out the fall, she elects McCain -- and we'll know that she doesn't really give a shit about ending the war, or staving off a financial crisis, or keeping the Supreme Court safe for reproductive rights, or anything else beyond getting her and her husband's furniture back into the White House sometime in the next eight years.

But if she turns this thing around and plays loyal soldier for the party, and helps reassure her voters that it's OK to vote for her erstwhile, un-American, inexperienced villain of a young black opponent, we'll know that Clinton's amazingly tenacious campaign wasn't the selfish, indulgent, pointlessly divisive and destructive exercise it seems like right now to skeptics like me, but rather a powerful, inspirational and historically meaningful message sent to the world about the ability of women to compete and succeed in what used to be a man's game. That it can only have been one or the other is without a doubt, at this point. It's up to her now to tell us what the hell it is we just watched over the last five months.

Six years ago, consumer advocate Ralph Nader sent a letter to NBA commissioner David Stern asking him to review the officiating in the now-infamous Game 6 of the Western Conference finals between the Lakers and the Kings.

He was lampooned by some for his foray into the sports arena and skewered by Lakers fans, who questioned whether he's a Kings fan, which he's not.

The Lakers subsequently won Game 7 and their third consecutive championship, and the controversy gradually quieted.

Then came Tuesday's allegations, in a court filing by disgraced former referee Tim Donaghy, that two of the three referees who worked that Kings-Lakers game altered its outcome.

Now, Nader says he feels vindicated.

"There were some suspicions that the referees that were chosen were company men," Nader said. "[Stern] doesn't have to say anything. He doesn't even have to wink in their direction. They know an extra game means more revenue."

If he'd only stop running for f'ing president I'd start liking the dude again.

ps. dorkathon indeed, hehe.

No comments: