Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Apparently, Stephen Colbert is right. The Free Market Fairy seems to be punishing us:
In a September 25th blog post titled 'The Nation Will Right Itself If It Fixes Sex', Christian Civil League of Maine Executive Director Michael Heath writes that the financial crisis facing Wall Street is a symptom of America's sinful sexual culture, including the acceptance of gay unions.So, since the market failure is benefiting Barack Obama's poll numbers, does this then mean that the self-loathing Free Market Fairy is pushing for an Obama presidency?
Somebody should get out the Ouija board because we clearly need some answers here.
Nothing New byslag at 3:22 PM
Former Alberto Gonzales helper elf has joined Facebook's legal staff:
Accused of permitting unwarranted spying on citizens, torture, helping to blow a CIA agent's cover and firing non-political appointees for political reasons, former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales left the White House shrouded in ignominy. Facebook just hired his former right-hand man, Ted Ullyot, as its general counsel. The privacy advocates who plagued Facebook during its Beacon controversy might not be pleased, but Washington insider and top Facebook flack Elliot Schrage is giddy. "He has an extraordinary combination of private legal practice and public sector experience. So many of the legal issues we face touch on both of those arenas,” Schrage told the Los Angeles Times.I just deactivated my Facebook account...relieved I never got around to using it much.
And then there's Santa Gonzales, himself:
U.S. Atty. Gen. Michael B. Mukasey wisely has accepted a recommendation by two watchdog agencies that he name a special prosecutor to determine whether laws were broken in the firing of nine U.S. attorneys. But even if there is no finding of criminality, the report released Monday by the Justice Department's office of inspector general and office of professional responsibility is a devastating judgment on one of the worst attorneys general of modern times: Alberto R. Gonzales.To put it mildly.
Sure, that's where they are, but what about Yoo?
Nothing New byslag at 12:37 PM
John McCain's victory...Help yourself sleep well tonight by:
1. Registering to Vote
2. Donating to Obama
Nothing New byslag at 8:54 AM
The Economic Mess Meets the Bozo Bit Dilemma
Monday, September 29, 2008
Jim McCarthy on the Bozo Bit dilemma:
Someone once asked me, "What's the hardest thing about softwareWhile I'm not a software developer, I have flipped the Bozo Bit on enough people to know what the ramifications look like in other arenas, including political ones. For the Bush Administration, the Bozo Bit was no doubt flipped by many on Mission Accomplished Day. For John McCain, my guess is that the Bozo Bit was flipped by many on the day he picked Sarah Palin for his VP. Beyond that, the Bozo Bit has been flipped on Republicans by a lot of liberals (and vice versa) many, many times. The result as it pertains to the economic bailout?
I didn't hesitate. "Getting people to think."
Believe it or not, most people don't want to think. They think they want to think, but they don't. It's easier not to and to instead flip the bozo bit--that's what we call it at Microsoft: "That dude's a bozo!" Then nobody pays any attention to anything the putative bozo says or does forevermore. And as far as his making a contribution is concerned, he's just dead weight, a bozo.
A bozo, of course, is not to be trusted with anything. The best you can hope for is that the bozo will be paid to do nothing of consequence and therefore won't screw up the works. This is, to say the least, too modest an ambition for anybody who occupies one of those valuable slots on your team.
There was a lack of trust, a loss of confidence, a popular revolt.And from a liberal perspective, atrios says:
Nearly every major political leader in America supported the bailout bill. The President of the United States. The Vice President. The Treasury Secretary. The Chairman of the Federal Reserve. The Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Democratic and Republican nominees for president. The Democratic and Republican leadership of the House and the Senate. All of them said the same thing. Vote yes.
But the leaders anointed by the U.S. Constitution to most reflect the will of the people voted no.
The bailout bill is currently failing in the House, though potentially they could hold the vote open for another few minutes and twist some arms to switch some votes. Still, I hope we have all learned our lesson here:The only problem I can see with this conclusion is that, sometimes, we have to play football with Lucy.
Don't play football with Lucy.
When we have a task before us, we need to get people to think. In an interdependent society, there's no way around it. Situations like this economic crossroads are where diplomacy and innovation are key. When we know where people are willing to give, we can work with them to make it happen. And when we know where people are unwilling to give, we can innovate a solution to work within those constraints (often, an even better solution than we would have had without the constraints). It's no secret that when you have no responsibility for solving a problem, it's easy to criticize the solution (this seems to be pretty much the only thing Republicans actually know how to do). But at some point, development must ensue and progress must be made. At that time, I put my money on the diplomatic innovator to make it happen. Because there will always be Bozos in our midst when we are in need of change.
That said, having already flipped the Bozo Bit on this administration, myself, I wouldn't trust them with my lunch money.
Nothing New byslag at 2:57 PM
According to the McCain campaign's preferred narrative of last week's unusual events, the GOP nominee swooped into Washington to rescue the rescue plan. And he did that, supposedly, by bringing rebellious House conservatives to the table and getting their concerns addressed. As Bill Kristol wrote this morning, "Assuming the legislation passes soon, and assuming it reassures financial markets, McCain will be able to take some credit."Just how many missions can John McCain accomplish within a three-day period? And is there any mission too mavericky for the self-proclaimed maverick?
Since the legislation failed and the markets are anything but reassured, should we assume the opposite -- that McCain will be assigned some of the blame for not bringing along those House Republicans?
Nothing New byslag at 2:23 PM
Nothing New byslag at 12:53 PM
I generally don't pay much attention to celebrity deaths because, honestly, I don't really consider them to be any more devastating or poignant than the thousands of other deaths that probably also occurred that same day. But in the case of Paul Newman, I did take a moment this weekend to reflect on his work and found myself thinking it would be great if he could have been around at least a little while longer. The reason for this reflection had nothing to do with Newman's acting career (which was exemplary) and everything to do with Paul Newman's propensity for dispensing karmic justice. Specifically, I'm referring to his Newman's Own foundation and some of the good things it has done.
Case in point: One day, I walked into 826 (the non-profit tutoring center for kids I volunteer with) to hear all about how Dave Eggers had popped in for a visit the day before with Paul Newman in tow. Apparently, they toured the center, met with some volunteers, and talked with the staff. At the time, I didn't think much of the event because...well...I just didn't. But when we received a $25,000 check from Newman's Own a few weeks later, I remember observing that I was glad that we had people like Paul Newman around. Sure, that $25,000 probably wasn't a lot of money for his foundation, but it was definitely a lot of money for us. And it wasn't the last of their donations to the center.
I don't pretend to understand what drives people to do the things they do. Whether Paul Newman was a publicity hound, a pure-of-heart do-gooder, or just some guy trying to make up for being a jerk from time to time, I neither know nor care. But what I do know is that he put at least some of his vast resources into helping to educate some kids (many of whose parents have no education themselves). And by doing so, he deserves more than a little bit of thanks and recognition. He did good work.
Nothing New byslag at 8:34 AM
GOTV Madness in a Foreign Land
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Yesterday, MFP and I spent the afternoon at a college football stadium participating in one of our final GOTV efforts for this election (last one will be this Friday!). The only thing I dislike about doing these events is the apprehensive feeling I get at the beginning of each one when I doubt whether or not we'll pick up even a single new voter. And because we were at a college football game and, consequently, utterly out of our element, that apprehensive feeling was intensified. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful autumn day, so the repellent swarms of tailgaters garishly dressed in tinny school colors were offset by the lovely reds, golds, and greens of the changing leaves on the trees, and we quickly found ourselves eager to make the most of the afternoon.
Clipboards in hand, we toured through the crowds, starting off at the main entrance and working our way toward the north parking lot. It didn't take long before we encountered another Obama volunteer who told us that he had just worked that parking lot and other volunteers were already there as he was leaving. So, we headed back in the other direction where we soon found that our best strategy for getting new voters was to chat up the folks actually staffing the event (or, as MFP called them, "the working man"). Whether the football tailgaters sensed that MFP and I weren't exactly their kind or not, we weren't sure. But we had an intuitive sense that interjecting ourselves into their smoked meat-laden reverie really wasn't going to be very productive for us. So, it was the parking lot and gate attendants and the program and t-shirt sellers who eventually became our primary focus.
After getting a few new registrations from them, we quickly encountered several more campaign volunteers and realized that this event was pretty well-covered. So, we headed around the back of the stadium for the path less travelled. There, we encountered all kinds of foreign life-forms that we had never taken the time to talk to before. Working the marching band, the cheerleaders, and even the school mascot, we soon accumulated another handful of new voters and changes of address. It was shaping up to be a pretty good day.
After a couple of hours work, the two of us had netted 13 new registrations and changes of address. This was by no means an exemplary haul from our point of view, and we weren't thrilled with the idea of leaving before we garnered a few more. Nonetheless, the game was about to start and things were getting more chaotic. People were less and less likely to stop and talk as kickoff time (if memory serves, that is the correct term) grew near. So, reluctantly, we decided to head back but would continue our efforts as we walked along the trail several blocks from the stadium. While, in the end, we weren't able to snag any more registrants that day, we did walk away with a deeply important observation: age, appearance, and social circle can be surprisingly unreliable when trying to surmise someone's level of social engagement and savoir faire.
Several times that afternoon, I had chatted with groups of people I almost never encounter in my daily life. Even in college, though I kept meaning to attend a game just for the experience, I somehow never got around to going. So, when I found myself in a lively political discussion with a young football fan wearing a big puffy coat, dark sunglasses, and "bling", I was more than a little surprised by his level of engagement (incidentally, he thought Obama "waxed" McCain in the debate). And when a cheerleader with a fake tan and a temporary tattoo on her cheek expressed to me how thrilled she was to finally get her voting address changed because it had been on her mind for a while, I shrugged. Who knew someone who spent her time spelling out words with her arms would be so socially conscious? And when one of the tailgaters happily set his plastic beer cup aside in order to fill out his voter registration form, I found myself thinking: "'c'est la vie,' say the old folks, 'it goes to show you never can tell'."
Nothing New byslag at 2:34 PM
Friday, September 26, 2008
McCain: Cranky old dude; clearly antagonistic; mildly pathetic
Obama: Quick young upstart; largely unflappable; profoundly earnest
Bizarrely, I'm in agreement with the majority of undecided voters:
Thirty-nine percent of uncommitted voters who watched the debate tonight thought Barack Obama was the winner. Twenty-five percent thought John McCain won. Thirty-six percent saw it as a draw.I think the main reason Obama did better was that voters who haven't been paying close attention until now were probably surprised to see how smart and competent he actually is. Sans teleprompter and even on McCain's turf, Obama held his own and then some. To people who bought into the whole "empty suit" narrative, this debate was probably a bit of a wake-up call. Nonetheless, the Republican hissy fit machine is already revving up, so I'm sure undecideds will be talked back into their ambivalence soonly. No reason we can't enjoy the short moment of relative optimism though.
UPDATE: (from 538)
McCain’s essential problem is that his fundamental strength – his experience -- is specifically not viewed by voters as carrying over to the economy. And the economy is pretty much all that voters care about these days.Totally makes sense to me.
EDIT: The CBS poll of undecideds has more confirmatory detail. Obama went from a +18 on "understanding your needs and problems" before the debate to a +56 (!) afterward. And he went from a -9 on "prepared to be president" to a +21.
UPDATE 2: Andrew Sullivan's picture says it all.
Nothing New byslag at 10:15 PM
Claiming to have won a debate before you even agree to participate in it...
uppity presumptuous mavericky!
Nothing New byslag at 4:03 PM
Nothing New byslag at 12:12 PM
Nothing New byslag at 11:32 AM
Like, Such As (#2): Healthcare?
Thursday, September 25, 2008
UPDATE: Just to be clear, the fact that this particular Palin humiliation is labeled #2 is in no way intended to imply that she's only had two utterly humiliating incidents recently. It simply indicates that this is the second one that has made me laugh myself to tears so far. The many other incidents have resulted only in a mere eye-rolling and head-shaking and have not necessarily risen to the level of a Like, Such As moment, in my opinion.
Nothing New byslag at 8:12 PM
Final day of jury duty today. My experience reinforces what I've always intellectually understood: justice (karmic or otherwise) is a negotiation. In it, there are no "balls and strikes" and the phrase "activist judges" has virtually no meaning. Justice is all about applying inadequate guidelines while assessing an inadequate amount of evidence in the hopes of adequately solving an unsolvable problem. But hey--at least it sometimes involves 12 people instead of just one. I'd hate to be a judge.
Nothing New byslag at 4:59 PM
1. John McCain, Concerned that Actual Issues are Creeping into Election, Asks for Timeout
2. Attempting to Re-instill Public's Confidence in America's Leadership, John McCain Drops from Sight
3. Hoping to Woo Voters, John McCain Promises National Nap Time
UPDATE (via Atrios): Letterman Speaks
Nothing New byslag at 6:30 AM
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
In the mold of our very serious and experienced presidential candidate--John McCain, I will be suspending blogging until this economic crisis is over. Because when the country is in trouble, the last thing people want to do is to think and talk about it.
UPDATE: Apparently, McCain doesn't have time to debate, but he does have time to woo former Clinton supporter baronesses:
The McCain campaign's new urgency about the financial crisis didn't entirely clear his schedule this morning.
My colleague Amie Parnes reports that he made it to his scheduled morning meeting with Lady Lynn de Rothschild, a Clinton backer who recently came out in support of him.
All while Obama was waiting by the phone for a returned call.McCain's new slogan: Town & Country first!
Nothing New byslag at 5:09 PM
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
John Cole, former Republican:
Following the lead of the folks at Calculated Risk, I am temporarily calling myself Comrade John Cole in honor of our new found appreciation of the socialist state.Rupert Psmith, fictional character from PG Wodehouse's Psmith in the City:
Long live the People’s Republic of Wall Street.
'Work,' said Psmith, with simple dignity. 'I am now a member of the staff of this bank. Its interests are my interests. Psmith, the individual, ceases to exist, and there springs into being Psmith, the cog in the wheel of the New Asiatic Bank; Psmith, the link in the bank's chain; Psmith, the Worker. I shall not spare myself,' he proceeded earnestly. 'I shall toil with all the accumulated energy of one who, up till now, has only known what work is like from hearsay. Whose is that form sitting on the steps of the bank in the morning, waiting eagerly for the place to open? It is the form of Psmith, the Worker. Whose is that haggard, drawn face which bends over a ledger long after the other toilers have sped blithely westwards to dine at Lyons' Popular Cafe? It is the face of Psmith, the Worker.'Thanks to the Bush Administration, we're all Comrades now.
'I--' began Mr Rossiter.
'I tell you,' continued Psmith, waving aside the interruption and tapping the head of the department rhythmically in the region of the second waistcoat-button with a long finger, 'I tell you, Comrade Rossiter, that you have got hold of a good man. You and I together, not forgetting Comrade Jackson, the pet of the Smart Set, will toil early and late till we boost up this Postage Department into a shining model of what a Postage Department should be. What that is, at present, I do not exactly know. However. Excursion trains will be run from distant shires to see this Postage Department. American visitors to London will do it before going on to the Tower. And now,' he broke off, with a crisp, businesslike intonation, 'I must ask you to excuse me. Much as I have enjoyed this little chat, I fear it must now cease. The time has come to work. Our trade rivals are getting ahead of us. The whisper goes round, "Rossiter and Psmith are talking, not working," and other firms prepare to pinch our business. Let me Work.'
Nothing New byslag at 9:00 PM
War on Arachnids
Monday, September 22, 2008
Nothing New byslag at 10:42 PM
Now, along with Iraq, Iran, Paris and Britney, "Obama-Biden Democrats", SEC Chairman, Chris Cox, and the Prime Minister of Spain, John McCain adds the New York Times to his enemies list. Maybe he's still irritated that they didn't show up for his tasty barbecue.
Nothing New byslag at 7:56 PM
Day 3 of jury duty. Sitting in the jury box reminds me of sitting in class in college. A lot of attempting to memorize mundane details, engaging in real-time analysis, and forcing myself to not look bored when things start to get repetitive. Mostly, I try to prevent myself from laughing out loud when somebody says something I find funny. Today, the use of the word "odyssey" almost broke me. But I bit my tongue*. Nobody uses that word in real life unless they're intentionally being either hyperbolic or humorous. Nobody except for lawyers, I guess.
Nothing New byslag at 12:19 PM
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Apparently, our Treasury Department has acquired WMD and we need to invade. Now!
Nothing New byslag at 6:14 PM
Friday, September 19, 2008
I mentioned earlier this week that I appreciated the fact that Obama was running an ad hinting that McCain's recent fear and smear campaign tactics were coming from a place of weakness. The weakness issue is closely related to something I got excited about back in May when I wanted to see Obama call McBush out for being "afraid" to engage in diplomacy. And here (via The JedReport), Obama is calling McCain's campaign out directly as being "sad" and a result of panic:
I still see this strategy of showing off his opponent as weak and fearful as being Obama's most direct path to victory this election.
Nothing New byslag at 11:16 AM
McCain in Spain Falls Mainly on his Face
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Well, we've heard the interview now. And John McCain either doesn't know who the Prime Minister of Spain is, thinks Spain is a country in Latin America, or possibly both...McCain's World has already received an update (WTF?), which means that the only thing left for the McCain campaign to do is to sound the Obama is
Nothing New byslag at 9:57 AM
Day 2 of jury duty, and I'm wearing wool socks and had a chance to grab some actual food from the cafeteria this morning. Which means that my Oliver Twist impersonation has been reduced down to: "Please, sir, I want some more Wi-fi."
Nothing New byslag at 9:06 AM
Close Encounters of the Undecided Voter Kind
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Taking the elitist bus home from some of my errands today, I encountered an undecided voter. She saw my GOTV clipboard that I picked up from the Obama campaign after jury duty, and she started talking to me about the importance of voting. A disability impaired her speech and muscular motion, so it was a bit of a challenge to understand her. But I believe she said that she first registered to vote on her 18th birthday and that she was waiting until after the debates to decide who she would be voting for. I said that made sense, and she proceeded to tell me that she leaned toward John McCain or "none of the above". Needless to say, I squinted and asked her why that was. Here is a rough outline of our surprisingly genial conversation:
Nothing New byslag at 7:42 PM
Also, FYI-I ran into a security guard named Al on my way in this AM, and he dug my Obama shirt. We exchanged high-fives, and I asked him if the Elections Office was still in this building so I might pick up some voter registration forms. I want to try to score some new voters over the 1.5-hr lunch break. He said no, but he kindly took me to the law library in the hopes of getting some there. No dice. He said he'd look for some for me and bring them to me if he found some. Nice guy--I gave him an Obama shirt of his very own. But sadly, no registration forms around. Note to self: Bring the stash everywhere.
Nothing New byslag at 10:47 AM
John Cole is right--this ad is a gamble because it's long and fact-based. And because it's fact-based and not stupid-based, it will probably not get a lot of free air time from networks. Nonetheless, it's exactly the kind of gamble I like to see. It's not a "Hey--we're losing so let's pick some incurious, power-abusing theocrat to be one heartbeat away from the presidency in order to improve our poll numbers" kind of risk. It's a "Let's play on our strengths and win this thing so we can go about the business of governing this country" kind of risk. A responsible gamble, if you will.
It worked for me.
FYI-Jury duty for me today. Never done it before. We'll see what happens...
UPDATE: Ezra Klein has a different take on the ad and compares it to an old Bill Clinton ad. One big reason Obama's ad works for me is that it doesn't feel overtly political, while Clinton's ad does. At this point in time, I think that's key.
Nothing New byslag at 8:01 AM
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Whales are having a difficult time navigating the oceans as they become noisier and noisier:
Levels of noise in the world's oceans are causing serious problems for whales, dolphins and other marine mammals, a report warns.People are having a difficult time navigating the internets as they become noisier and noisier:
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw) says undersea noise blocks animals' communication and disrupts feeding.
Naval sonar has been implicated in the mass deaths of some cetaceans.
In some regions, the level of ocean noise is doubling each decade, and Ifaw says protective measures are failing.
The internet needs a way to help people separate rumour from real science, says the creator of the World Wide Web.And as Republicans really rev up their fear, uncertainty, and doubt noise machine, voters will be having a difficult time navigating this election.
Talking to BBC News Sir Tim Berners-Lee said he was increasingly worried about the way the web has been used to spread disinformation.
Sir Tim spoke prior to the unveiling of a Foundation he has co-created that aims to make the web truly worldwide.
It will also look at ways to help people decide if sites are trustworthy and reliable sources of information.
I'm starting to notice a pattern here.
Nothing New byslag at 8:12 AM
Another Elitist Issue: What to do with your money?
Monday, September 15, 2008
Over the last several weeks of economic turmoil, MFP have been toying with the question of what to do with our modest savings. Personally, I think he's darn close to taking up some of the floorboards in our house and burying a tiny treasure chest. Nonetheless, even though we're youngsters, that strategy won't help us with our retirement savings. Sadly, we have found no realistic solutions to our problem.
So, maybe we should just close our eyes to the issue like McCain does. Take the conservative strategy of ignoring problems and hope they go away. Sure, it didn't work for Bush when he ignored a PDB saying Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the US. Or when he ignored the anticipation that the levies would be breached in New Orleans. Or when he ignored the concerns that we would be bogged down in a civil war in Iraq. Or even when he blithely dismissed early warning signs about the flagging economy.
But hey...it might work for us!
Honestly, every time I hear McCain talk about how he's going to "shake up Washington" without taking a single new approach to any issue, I think of this Arrested Development scene.
Nothing New byslag at 8:34 AM
It's no secret that, since the conventions, McCain has been running a typical fear and smear campaign. But what I like about this ad, in particular, is that it indicates WHY McCain has been running that kind of campaign. It illustrates that McCain's lying is coming from a place of weakness. It's a last refuge. Obama has him on the run and dirty campaigning is one of McCain's only ways out. Now, in order to win, Obama needs to close that door for him as well.
I've been around Republicans enough to know that, in spite of all their claims to "values voting", they don't give one whit about values. If they think they're winning on values, they'll take it. Otherwise, they'll take vice and turn it into a Vice President if they think it will get them a win. And winning is an American pass-time. I'm guessing that's why, to me, this Obama ad ends up being more about McCain's weakness than it is about his honor (or lack thereof). Nonetheless, it's a two-fold score for the Obama camp in that it highlights McCain's negatives and once again generates confidence in Obama's approach to this election. Which makes me want to give him money.
Nothing New byslag at 8:10 AM
Saturday, September 13, 2008
As Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, Sarah Palin could scrape together enough taxpayer money to build a hockey rink for the town's residents. But when it comes to paying for medical exams for sexual assault victims, Palin becomes all about saving some cash. I guess that choice says something about Palin's priorities.
Nothing New byslag at 9:45 AM
Accountability: The Next Challenge
Friday, September 12, 2008
Story after story today talks about how John McCain can claim no responsibility for his own campaign. What I, as a voter, desperately want is to see Barack Obama make John McCain be held accountable for his lies (recurring theme courtesy of the Bush Administration). I don't want excuses. I want accountability. (period)
Nothing New byslag at 2:11 PM
McCain's blatant lying about child sexual abuse laws is truly outrageous. In a sane world, he would be held accountable for it. They should broadcast this ad everywhere!
UPDATE: Dan Savage had a similar response. Only he, wisely, provides a donation link.
Nothing New byslag at 9:43 AM
Watch all these elitist women praise Obama:
Sadly, however, Obama only rates these C-list elitists nowadays.
McCain, on the other hand, scores Anne Hathaway and her A-list elitist convict boyfriend. To be fair, maybe when McCain says he's a "reformer", he means that he actually tries to reform professional con-men on an individual basis. Really, hanging out on that dude's yacht in the Adriatic may just have been McCain's way of doing an intervention. Help him, John McCain and lobbyist campaign manager, you're his only hope!
Nothing New byslag at 8:56 AM
It Does Sound Familiar
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Some people keep comparing Palin to Cheney. She does have that element of secrecy and assholishness that smells very Dick-like. But she's more of a believer than Dick is, which in my mind represents the scariest element of Bush. She seems to know she's right. Luckily for her (and Bush), Americans have tended to go for this quality in a President, which is one reason why we've gone wrong over the last eight years.
Until now, Obama and McCain haven't strayed too far from a certain level of intellectual honesty (however, I'm inclined to see Obama as being more intellectually honest). They've both been able to admit being wrong from time to time. What McCain has proven with his VP pick is that any claim to intellectual honesty he may have had has completely gone out the window. And once again, that seems to be what the American people want. Apparently, we want a campaigner, not a leader. A panderer, not a diplomat. In my mind, that's what the success of Hillary Clinton's Hail Mary campaigning at the end of the primaries seemed to show. Luckily, it was too late by then for Democrats to prove her right. Hopefully, at this point, Obama's political savoir faire will actually save him in spite of himself. Or...more accurately...hopefully, it will save US in spite of ourselves.
Nothing New byslag at 9:32 AM
When was the last time McCain gave a policy speech that wasn't lifted from Wikipedia?
I actually agree with Big Think Tank Matt on his take on one part of the speech in which Obama suggests that we need to build a better education system in order to compete with other countries around the world:
If the population of India were to magically become much better educated next week (only 61 percent of Indians are literate) that would be good for the United States. It would be an even bigger deal for India, but everyone benefits from living in a better-educated, more productive world.My perspective on education is mostly based in experience rather than in study. I know that I'm better off when the people around me are better educated. I, personally, learn more when the people around me have a better education than I have. But it's important to point out that more isn't always better. The smartest people I know have little to no higher education. Instead, somewhere along the way, they had developed an amazing level of intellectual curiosity and the wherewithal required to satisfy that curiosity. Nonetheless, even those people can often point to one or more teachers who helped engender that essential level of curiosity and wherewithal.
Nothing New byslag at 8:10 AM
Matt Damon Would Have Been a Better VP Choice than Sarah Palin
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
H/T John Cole:
Honestly, the biggest problem I have with a Palin presidency isn't necessarily that she's a "hockey mom" (whatever that is). I'm actually not a big fan of dynastic presidencies and career politicians, which is one of the reasons I preferred Obama to Clinton in the primaries. But what does bother me a lot is that, not only did she make her entrance onto the national stage with a series of lies and smug insults to the notion of community service, but she has, even now, offered up hardly any positions on any meaningful national issues for the record. If she were ready to assume the vice presidency, she wouldn't be guarded from answering questions right now. If she were ready to assume the vice presidency, she wouldn't have been embroiled in an abuse of power scandal within her scant 18 months of her Alaska governorship. If she were ready to assume the vice presidency, she wouldn't have been introduced to the country as a "hockey mom" even if she were one. We don't need a mom. We need a vice president.
Also, FWIW, if Obama had been introduced to me as my "token mixed-race friend", I wouldn't have been particularly interested in him as a candidate either.
Nothing New byslag at 4:51 PM
So, the Republicans selectively edit evidence to create a phony scandal. Next, members of the media don't blink twice before they turn a lot of hot air into a whirling dervish.
Correct me if I'm wrong...but isn't this exactly how we ended up in a stupid war?
PS With all this talk about pigs, is anyone else concerned that we may just end up invading Hickory Farms?
UPDATE: Obama FTW:
Enough! (Damn it!)
Nothing New byslag at 10:08 AM
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Remember all those John McCain foreign policy gaffes we were going to get to once the over-long Democratic primary finished? What's old is new again:
ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Let's be a little gentle. Look, every elected official in this country works under the system we have, which is you try to get a little bit of your tax money back. You just don't want to leave it all in Washington. The amazing thing about Sarah Palin is when she became governor she actually stood up and said no. And she made it -Ahhh....good times.
BEGALA: That's not true.
CASTELLANOS: She took a strong stand. That is rare and that never happened.
ROBERTS: All right.
BEGALA: That's just not true. You know, John, the facts matter. There's lots of things that are debatable who is more qualified or less experienced or more this or more passionate, whatever. It is a fact that she campaigned and supported that bridge to nowhere. It is a fact that she hired lobbyists to get earmarks. It is a fact that as governor she lobbies for earmarks. Her state is essentially a welfare state taking money from the federal government.
ROBERTS: We still have 56 days to talk about this back and forth.
BEGALA: This is the problem. We have this false debate when we ought to have at least agreed upon facts. [emphasis mine]
Nothing New byslag at 1:25 PM
Apparently, the McCain campaign is offended at the thought of taking responsibility for their positions on issues:
(CNN) — John McCain's campaign hit back hard at Joe Biden Tuesday after the Democratic VP candidate appeared to suggest Republicans who do not support stem cell research — like GOP VP candidate Sarah Palin — are lacking in their support of children with disabilities.But actually acknowledging the potential consequences of our actions is definitely change I can believe in. Go Joe!
Nothing New byslag at 12:26 PM
(data from 2005 Survey USA poll)
The media coverage of Sarah Palin has had me scratching my head these days. Somehow, I've managed to get the impression that anyone who is not a pro-life, hunting, evangelical beauty queen "hockey mom" is far outside the mainstream. Yesterday, I discovered that hunters represent under 5% of the US population (elitists!). Today, if this Survey USA poll is to be believed, it seems that Sarah Palin's pro-life position is freakishly outside the norm even in her own state, let alone the rest of the country. So, what is it exactly that makes her an average American?
Hmmm...Maybe the average American gets taxpayer money for staying in her own home?
To be continued...
Nothing New byslag at 10:14 AM
Lawrence Lessig Dispenses Karmic Justice
Monday, September 8, 2008
From Lessig's blog:
Summary: Lessig sees wrong and goes out of his way to make it right. The path wasn't a direct one, but he did it anyway--using his own methods. He's teaching by example and making use of the tools available to him. Score one for the internets, and score one for karmic justice!
Nothing New byslag at 5:05 PM
Less than 5% of the US population hunts. It's probable that even less than that prays for pipelines.
But people like Sarah Palin represent middle America while people like Barack Obama are exotic freaks--pass it on.
Nothing New byslag at 1:57 PM
Saturday, September 6, 2008
(as opposed to)
ADDED: Obama's right. They do think you're stupid:
Nothing New byslag at 2:50 PM
1:12 a.m.GOP War Pep-Squadders always seem to have all the answers, don't they? I believe it's called
Two discussions about the war in Iraq suddenly take place.
The first discussion is among a group of young Republicans standing in front of the Hyatt smoking cigars -- party favors from the Giuliani party. The men are all similarly clad in J. Press; some in houndstooth, some in navy blue blazers. The girlfriends, however, wear designer cocktail dresses.
"I'm sick of this chickenshit," says one guy, a sturdy Stanford 2L. "I hear too much apologizing for the war. We should all get behind McCain and stand up proudly and use the 'W' word. We have to tell the voters, 'No, we're not just making gains, we are winning this war.'"
The second conversation takes place between me and Scott, a baby-faced Marine who has served two tours in Iraq (and is expecting to be called up again any day). We're standing 2 feet away from the Republicans. As Scott tells it, his platoon spent almost two years roving around western Iraq doing the bidding of various local tribal bosses, fighting fierce and undefined battles against enemies who had been allies a week earlier.
His take on the war?
"It's bullshit," he says with a shrug. "We got no business there. We get played by all the locals. Guys are dying for nothing. Everyone's losing their minds. It's a disaster."
BTW, here's J Press (don't worry--I didn't know what it was either).
Nothing New byslag at 2:12 PM
Playing Whack-a-Lie with Republicans
Friday, September 5, 2008
A couple of weeks ago, I had the displeasure of taking a taxi cab driven by a complete moron. I got in the cab with my cat who was about as thrilled to be going to the vet as I was, and within 5 minutes of the ride, the guy started telling me that he would let his cat die if it started costing him too much money. Meekly, I suggested that, when one decides to take responsibility for an animal, one has an obligation to provide that animal with the best possible care. He was unmoved.
Immediately, the driver turned the conversation to the weather and how he was "going to write Al Gore a letter" complaining that it was too cold out. I implied that his meaning eluded me, and he proceeded to explain that the cooler temperatures were an indication that "Al Gore's global warming" was a myth. When I suggested that evidence indicates that climate change is not a myth, he proceeded to tell me that global warming happens all by itself without human intervention. No sooner did I start to point out the fact that one couldn't have it both ways--you can't say that climate change doesn't exist AND that climate change is a natural phenomenon--Rush Limbaugh came onto the radio, and I told him to turn it off.
Throughout the rest of the cab ride, I was bombarded with all of the classic neocon fabrications in the book--Al Gore has a private plane, the Chinese are drilling off the coast of Florida, etc, etc. It was clear that my concern about my cat had made me weak, and this neocon, in particular, loved to take advantage of weakness. All through the ride, I felt like I was playing whack-a-lie. As soon as I smacked one down, another lie would pop up to replace it. By the time we got to the vet, he was lecturing me on the Pope's opinion of when life began and how Nancy Pelosi "lied" about that. I confessed my ignorance of Catholic doctrine but exclaimed that the Pope had no jurisdiction over me while I slammed the cab door. Exhausted and stressed out, I walked into the veterinary office in a daze.
The reason I bring up this anecdote is that we seem to have fully embarked on the whack-a-lie portion of this election:
Judging from his public statements shortly after he announced Sarah Palin as his running mate, John McCain thought she had opposed the Bridge to Nowhere. She hadn't. He thought she had sold the state's executive jet on eBay and made a profit on it. On both counts, she didn't. He thought she had cut taxes as both mayor and governor. She hadn't. He apparently thought she had fully explained her part in pressuring the state police chief to fire her ex-brother-in-law. She hasn't. He thought she was an enemy of earmarks and federal pork. In fact, she was a pioneer of both.As Anonymous Liberal points out, Republicans don't just lie about themselves, they lie about Democrats:
The Republicans are allowed to get away with this year after year precisely because they do it so egregiously. If they misrepresented one or two of their opponent's positions, then the press might well notice the discrepancies and point them out. But when they misrepresent them all, it just becomes too much for the press to deal with and they ignore the subject entirely. Bush was the master of this. By the end of the campaigns in 2000 and 2004, his stump speeches were little more than litanies of ridiculous straw man positions that he claimed his opponent believed. McCain has clearly decided to follow the same strategy. As a result, we're going to have yet another election in which the Republican candidate runs against a fictional opponent. Indeed, it's the same fictional opponent that the Democrats always manage to nominate: a guy who wants to raise everyone's taxes and replace their doctors with Kafka-esque bureaucrats. Funny how that works.The obvious question here is: How do we stop playing whack-a-lie and start expanding the reality-based community? Well, it seems the first thing to do is to focus less on each individual lie and more on the liar. Rather than just calling out each lie as it's told (which is still an important thing to do), I like Obama's strategy of asking WHY the liars are lying. I mean, just what are they trying to pull anyway? If they need to demonstrably lie in order to make their case, what does it say about them? Rather than defensively swatting down the lies as they zing by us, maybe we need to go on the offense and publicly dissect only one or two of the big ones in order to make the larger point that needs to be made.
For instance: Sarah Palin claims to have opposed the bridge to nowhere when, in fact, she did not. Why lie to us about that? What message is she trying to convey when she makes that claim? And what does the fact that she told this lie actually say about Sarah Palin? Also, what does it say about John McCain when he keeps repeating it after it's been debunked multiple times? Is he ignorant or just lying? Inquiring minds should want to know!
These are the real questions that need to be asked publicly in this election. Not only do they enable us to debunk the lies, they work to defeat the overall strategy of building a campaign based on lies. They are Socratic and simple but can help us extricate ourselves from the many theatrical elements of politics. And for me, these are the kinds of questions I'll be asking next time I find myself in a taxi cab driven by a complete moron. Because I'm tired of my very real concerns turned into a weakness.
PS As of right now, my cat's doing splendidly. No worries there for a while.
UPDATE: More on some of the lies told this week can be found here, here, here (video), and pretty much everywhere else. Maybe the reason John McCain isn't aware that his new vp choice is a serial fabulist is that he hasn't yet figured out how to use The Google.
Nothing New byslag at 10:22 PM
Hope Kicks Fear's Ass
Thursday, September 4, 2008
You're going down, McShame:
ST. PAUL -- One of the most enduring taboos in American politics, the airing of graphic images from the September 11 attacks in a partisan context, died today. It was nearly seven years old.Because you have become a travesty of a human being.
The informal prohibition, which had been occasionally threatened by political ads in recent years, was pronounced dead at approximately 7:40 CST, when a video aired before delegates at the Republican National Convention included slow-motion footage of a plane striking the World Trade Center, the towers' subsequent collapse, and smoke emerging from the Pentagon...
UPDATE: In other words, you've become:
Nothing New byslag at 10:33 PM
First, the Obama campaign checks McCalin's facts:
PALIN: “In fact, I told Congress — I told Congress, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ on that bridge to nowhere.”
REALITY: PALIN WAS FOR THE BRIDGE TO NOWHERE BEFORE SHE WAS AGAINST IT. October 2006” Palin Supported Bridge To Nowhere.
Then, Obama supporters go all in:
...Obama has raised about $8 million from more than 130,000 donors and is on pace to raise $10 million by the time McCain reaches the stage tonight.
UPDATE: Obama spokesman Bill Burton says, "Sarah Palin's attacks have rallied our supporters in ways we never expected. And we fully expect John McCain's attacks tonight to help us make our grass-roots organization even stronger."
Also, Brendan makes a phone call:
So culminating the day of scorn and mockery at John McCain and Sarah Palin’s decision to slag patriotic community organizers, I decided to call the campaign ((703) 418-2008 if you’re interested). To my surprise (ok not really) I learned they are just as thin-skinned and prone to explosive outbursts of rage as Johnny
My first call was to a campaign spokesperson.
“Hello, McCain 2008, may I help you?”
“Hi, my name’s Brendan Skwire. I’m an independent voter calling from Philadelphia. I watched Sarah Palin’s speech last night, and I have to say as a community organizer myself, and as someone whose neighbiors are community organizers, I was pretty offended by her comment that people like us ‘have no real responsibilities’.”
“That’s not what she said, actually,” the woman began.
“Oh really? I have the text here. She said, and I quote ‘I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a “community organizer,” except that you have actual responsibilities.’” That’s not very flattering...[Read the rest. It's hilarious!]
Finally, Yglesias smacks McCalin in the WaPo:
Rather than being the victim of his own post-partisanship, as Continetti argues, today McCain is in a downward spiral of ever-intensifying right-wingery even at a time when the American right has rarely been less popular. Many expected him to try to pull the plane up once the primaries were over, but the decision to re-re-invent himself is not so easily undone.
Keep playing with knives, McCalin. Keep playing with knives.
Nothing New byslag at 6:33 PM
I'm so f'ing sick and tired of hearing the incessant Republican yak-yak about how serious and grown up Republicans are at the very same time they offer absolutely nothing (NO-THING!) by way of solutions to our country's profoundly critical problems. I know this is very "humorless liberal" of me, but when the newest, Bushiest members of the Bush Party try to lecture any Democrat on the notions of responsibility and reform, I find myself anxious to squash them like the pompous little pissants they are. Play time is over, kids. It's time to put the Republican Party down for its nap. And time for the real grownups to clean up the mess...again.
PS If I hear one more talking head claim--after observing this utterly empty shell of a convention--that Obama lacks substance, I'm going to have to dispense some serious karmic justice on his ass.
PSS Dear Republicans, If you want to be taken seriously after all this, you may also want to stop explaining how "this election is not about issues". Really. It makes you look even more ridiculous. If that's at all possible.
Nothing New byslag at 1:20 AM
It's a Matter of Choice
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
I'm with Digby:
This is it. The Obama campaign is going on the offensive with a flat out liberal appeal on a culture war issue. No more mushy post partisan nonsense.I've heard about Obama's Choice-driven ad campaign for a couple of days now, and I've been holding off to see if it's really real. But, given what I've seen from Obama since the convention, it does seem like he's taking a more energetic approach to issues that he's been vague and subtle about in the past. And when Obama mentioned abortion directly in his nomination acceptance speech on Thursday, I suspected he was prepared to do the same with Choice. Republicans have been telegraphing their intent to use this specific wedge issue to drive out their base for several months now. And rather than hedge or play defense, Obama goes directly on the offense. Even before the Republicans completely solidify their rabidly dogmatic right-to-birth platform. An aggressive Obama is a good Obama.
I am very, very impressed:Barack Obama has launched a broadside against John McCain’s opposition to abortion rights and moved one of the most divisive issues in modern American politics to the airwaves on a large scale for the first time in this presidential campaign....Richard Land says that picking Palin has given a shot of Red Bull to the Republican base. Well, Obama has just given me a triple shot of espresso with that ad. Let's roll.
Fired up! Ready to go!
Nothing New byslag at 5:33 PM
Listening to Chuck Todd and members of the McCain Pep Squad--Mike Murphy and Peggy Noonan--unintentionally being honest with the American people for once reminds me of all that I absolutely loathe about the entire political process:
It's a big game in which the only real test of ability is one long smoke-blowing contest. And once I start loathing the process, I immediately start loathing the participants in the process. Too bad it actually leads to meaningful consequences; otherwise, I would be happier turning my attention to the more entertaining outcome of the Hipster Olympics:
(wherein contestants' participation is strictly ironic)
Nothing New byslag at 1:26 PM
Nothing New byslag at 11:54 AM
Behind the Scenes Video of John McCain and RNC Planning Committee
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Nothing New byslag at 10:04 PM
Answer: He has.
Now, maybe Peggy Noonan will explain that the reason Obama is polling better than McCain again is that people have stopped paying attention.
The Republic of Media...I wonder what they're polling at.
Nothing New byslag at 11:04 AM
Excerpt from Obama's Gustav speech to union workers in Milwaukee (via JNS at Swampland):
All across America there are quiet storms taking place. There are lives of quiet desperation. People who need just a little bit of help. Now, Americans are a self-reliant people, we’re an independent people. We don’t like asking somebody else to do what we can do ourselves but you know what we understand is that every once in a while somebody’s going to get knocked down. Every once in a while somebody’s going to go through some hard times. When we least expect it tragedy may strike. And what has always made this country great is the understanding that we rise and fall as one nation, that values and family, community and neighborhood, they have to express themselves in our government. Those are national values. Those are values that we all subscribe to. And so that the spirit that we extend today and in the days to come as we monitor what happens on the Gulf that’s the spirit that we’ve got to carry with us each and every day. That’s the spirit that we need in our own homes and it’s the spirit that we need in the White House. And that’s why I’m running for president of the United States of America.vid:
Because if there’s a poor child out there, that’s my child. If there’s a senior that’s having trouble, that’s my grandparent. If there’s a guy who’s lost his job, that’s my brother. If there’s a woman out there without healthcare, that’s my sister. Those are the values that built this country. Those are the values we are fighting for.
Lately, Obama's been making the case for liberalism in America like no one else can. Is it any wonder that, during his speech in Denver, the crowd expressed their national pride with "USA" chants and flag-waving? Liberals don't get turned on by expressions of American hegemony and exceptionalism like neocons do. We get turned on by expressions of American opportunity and equality. That's because we're elitists.
Nothing New byslag at 8:01 AM
Spotted! Some of Nothing Obama Tees...
Monday, September 1, 2008
in a store window. Truth be told, these shirts have been there for a while. But my neighbor who saw them told me to take a picture because "they won't be in the window forever". Which reminded me that I sometimes forget to take notice of my little accomplishments (okay, I always forget to take notice). I wore Hope Kicks Fear's Ass while MFP and I were registering voters yesterday. It's still my favorite though it surprises me that it regularly generates a lot of nods and laughs.
Strangely, before I started Some of Nothing, I was never a big slogan wearer. Plain t-shirts; plain jeans; no frills. Appearances are not a major focus for me. Many moons ago, I happened to buy a hoodie with a simple little bird on it just to keep me warm on that chilly day. But since then, the fact that the hoodie tends to elicit positive comments when I wear it actually sometimes prevents me from putting it on. When I do, I find myself wanting to ask people what their fascination is with this stupid bird. But then, I figure that maybe people who wear clothes with stuff on them are probably asking for comments, and I restrain myself. This is only to say that all this outward display of attitude/ideology is fairly new to me. Still getting used to it.
That said, I figure if I'm going to do this thing, I'm going to do it. So, today, I'm officializing my heretofore unspoken decision to wear an Obama shirt every day until the election. This decision has nothing to do with an inordinate obsession with Barack Obama and everything to do with the realization that I can't stand the thought of another GOP presidency. And I know that if I don't put all of my resources into making a change now, I'm going to be kicking myself in November if it doesn't happen. No more sitting on the sidelines, fingers crossed. Time to get in the game and get it won. We've got a lot of work to do, and the place to start is by making a commitment. Even if it means getting out of the comfort zone...far out.
A t-shirt isn't much. But it's something. An advertisement and a reminder of where my priorities are. And it's been my observation that a t-shirt can generate some level of excitement and recognition. Even if it's only for a second, I figure that counts. So, between that and using t-shirt sales to pay for at least some of our Obama campaign donations, GOTVing, and doing what little phonebanking I can force myself into, it seems I can be marginally useful. Plus, I often drag MFP along for the ride, which makes him useful too. If you're not being useful yet, please allow me to make a suggestion (and don't forget to drag your MFP along for the ride as well).
Nothing New byslag at 9:28 PM
The only thing that's going to piss me off about Sarah Palin's 17 year-old daughter's pregnancy will be when Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly start blaming it on the liberal agenda.
Oh yeah...Plus, there's this.
No more years!
Nothing New byslag at 8:55 PM
Nothing New byslag at 7:29 PM