Friday, October 31, 2008

A one man "Southern Strategy"

For all the McCain campaign's talk last week about how they're supported "real America"--and real Americans like Sam "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher--when I would suggest to my Republican friends that it was not-so-subtle coded language for "white people," an attempt to "otherize" Obama and churn up racial fears, my friends would get very angry with me and suggest I was being paranoid.

This morning, I played them this story from NPR and they had to admit I had a point. Joe the Plumber, it seems, doesn't "do" code very well.
Don't listen to talk show hosts, don't sit there and listen to papers, I mean, get out there, get the information. Learn it. You know, the facts are out there. Once you find out the facts, it becomes quite obvious...

Get out and vote and, as far as my vote, it's going to be for a real American, John McCain.
Ross Douthat lost his shit yesterday when a lot of this stuff started to become clearer, writing, with dripping irony, as he began a long long rant that, fine, "Maybe the "Joe the Plumber" line is a super-coded attempt to play the race-and-welfare card...." Gee, Ross, you think?

"Political barbarian"

Look, people, Markos already rules the left blogosphere (don't forget, Sadly, it's your turn to bring doughnuts to the meeting this week), do you really need to give him all the cool nicknames too?

Krauthammer's imaginary America

At the end of a pro-McCain domestic policy column (made up in large part of actions he predicts Obama will take with no basis in fact) Charles Krauthammer writes the following:
McCain is the quintessential center-right candidate. Yet the quintessential center-right country is poised to reject him. The hunger for anti-Republican catharsis and the blinding promise of Obamian hope are simply too strong.
You expect Krauthammer's melodrama, of course, it's his thing. But I'm getting sick of conservatives simply stating that the country leans conservative without the slightest nod to the reality of the American views. Michael Gerson makes a related case, suggesting that a rejection of McCain wouldn't be a rejection of conservatism and an embrace of liberalism, per se, but includes this twisted bit of logic.
Still others are eager to translate a loss for McCain as a national rejection of conservatism. This would, of course, require McCain -- the author of campaign finance reform, the supporter of comprehensive immigration reform, the proposer of a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions -- to actually be a conservative symbol. Initially it was McCain's heresies, not his orthodoxies, that made him a plausible candidate.
In other words, a McCain loss wouldn't be a referendum on conservatism since McCain isn't really a conservative and he only had a chance in this election because he's not a conservative.

If you bought this argument, wouldn't you have to read McCain's selection as the Republican candidate as the first of several rejections of conservatism, a rejection came from Republicans themselves?

The truth is that Americans, when one looks at individual issues, are actually left-of-center. For example, a Gallup poll conducted in April did find that small majority of Americans--52 percent--feel that their taxes were too high, which would seem to validate the "conservative America" thesis. But, when you look at the rest of the poll, you find that 60 percent of those surveyed felt the amount of taxes they paid were fair, compared to the 35 percent who called them unfair. And, when asked if "different groups" were "paying their fair share in federal taxes, paying too much, or paying too little," the respondents answered thusly:
Judging these economic views by the standards set by McCain "economic ideas" man Joe the Plumber, the United States is not only not conservative, it's downright commie. Of course, this chart clearly shows that Obama's plan to have people who, like him, make "a lot more than $250,000 a year, pay[] a little bit more so that the waitress who is surviving on minimum wage can put a roof over her head" is in line with the beliefs of most Americans.

And we haven't even touched on cultural issues, another area where large majorities of Americans agree with the policies of the left. Only by defining conservatism in the squishiest terms--"(T)o be conservative is...to be driven by a fundamental human impulse to preserve what one has and loves," wrote Jon Meacham in the the October 27th Newsweek--can conservatives claim to have a majority of Americans on their side. I'd bet even Hugo Chavez wants to preserve what he has and loves. How, in fact, could any human being not be described in this way?

It is true fewer people self-identify as liberals, but, as Rick Perlstein points out in Meacham's article, "There's been a concerted 30-year propaganda campaign to make the word 'liberal' synonymous with all that's distasteful and alarming." In the process, the word has come to simply mean bad for many people who actually agree with liberal policies.

I'm not the first to make this argument and I won't be the last, because Republicans will argue after the election that voters either chose Obama because McCain wasn't conservative enough or chose McCain because he really was a conservative all along.

It's time now to quit conceding this argument to conservatives; to quit allowing them to simply slip the "America leans right" meme into their conversation (and the subtext of their assumptions) unchecked; to quit letting them say Obama is winning just because he has run an excellent campaign. When they win, America has endorsed their principles, when we win, we just ran a better campaign. The truth is, Obama is winning not just because he's a skilled, natural candidate, but because, at their core, Americans and he share a belief system.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Random Catholic connections

Barack Obama:
People are struggling just to get by. We just went through the first economic expansion during George Bush in which family incomes actually went down by a thousand dollars. So people are seeing less income, fewer wages, jobs being shipped overseas. And when people lose their jobs, when the plant closes, you don't just lose your job. You lose your health care and you lose your pension. And more than that, you lose your sense of who you are and your place in your community. Your sense of dignity, your ability to support a family.
Pope John Paul II:
It would appear that, on the level of individual nations and of international relations, the free market is the most efficient instrument for utilizing resources and effectively responding to needs. But this is true only for those needs which are "solvent", insofar as they are endowed with purchasing power, and for those resources which are "marketable", insofar as they are capable of obtaining a satisfactory price. But there are many human needs which find no place on the market. It is a strict duty of justice and truth not to allow fundamental human needs to remain unsatisfied, and not to allow those burdened by such needs to perish. It is also necessary to help these needy people to acquire expertise, to enter the circle of exchange, and to develop their skills in order to make the best use of their capacities and resources. Even prior to the logic of a fair exchange of goods and the forms of justice appropriate to it, there exists something which is due to man because he is man, by reason of his lofty dignity. Inseparable from that required "something" is the possibility to survive and, at the same time, to make an active contribution to the common good of humanity.
Barack Obama:
This country is more decent than one where a woman in Ohio, on the brink of retirement, finds herself one illness away from disaster after a lifetime of hard work.

This country is more generous than one where a man in Indiana has to pack up the equipment he's worked on for twenty years and watch it shipped off to China, and then chokes up as he explains how he felt like a failure when he went home to tell his family the news. [snip]

For over two decades, (John McCain has) subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy - give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is - you're on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps - even if you don't have boots. You're on your own. [snip]

I intend to win this election and keep our promise alive as President of the United States.

What is that promise?

It's a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have the obligation to treat each other with dignity and respect.

It's a promise that says the market should reward drive and innovation and generate growth, but that businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs, look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road.
Pope John Paul II:
Besides wages, various social benefits intended to ensure the life and health of workers and their families play a part here. The expenses involved in health care, especially in the case of accidents at work, demand that medical assistance should be easily available for workers, and that as far as possible it should be cheap or even free of charge. Another sector regarding benefits is the sector associated with the right to rest. In the first place this involves a regular weekly rest comprising at least Sunday, and also a longer period of rest, namely the holiday or vacation taken once a year or possibly in several shorter periods during the year. A third sector concerns the right to a pension and to insurance for old age and in case of accidents at work. Within the sphere of these principal rights, there develops a whole system of particular rights which, together with remuneration for work, determine the correct relationship between worker and employer. Among these rights there should never be overlooked the right to a working environment and to manufacturing processes which are not harmful to the workers' physical health or to their moral integrity.

Funniest correction ever

Politico's Jonathan Martin, wrote a must-read story about the many, many smear e-mails "story suggestions" they receive and, for one reason or another, choose to not cover. Unfortunately, he made a mistake in the first published draft, which he was forced to correct. After fixing the copy, he added this hilarious correction.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story conflated two non-existent audio tapes of Michelle Obama.
Beautiful, that.

More on the right's current views on race

Noam Scheiber, in a post I referred to earlier, wrote:
(T)hough I have no evidence for this (nothing new there), I worry that (McCain's racially-tinged) insinuations are reinforced in the minds of working-class whites by the millions of African-Americans lining up early to vote for Obama. How sad for the country if McCain ends up jujitsuing something (i.e., record turnout) that should be a source of pride.
Ross Douthat was incensed!
Maybe if you have "no evidence" for worrying about a McCain victory on the basis of a racist backlash, you shouldn't speculate publicly about it!
Ross has a point. There's always some crazy out there in the blogosphere, right, who's stupid enough to try to claim Barack Obama is really the Saddam-funded, Svengali biological son of Malcolm X*, but no actual Republican officeholder is cynical (or stupid) enough to suggest that the party could actually benefit from "racist backlash." That would be just crazy, I mean--

Wait. What's that?
In Georgia, where Mr. Obama’s organization worked hard to register new voters but did not mount a full-blown campaign because the state seems beyond his reach, black voters in Atlanta and the surrounding areas have been standing in line for hours. Many are among the tens of thousands of newly registered voters.

New registrations of black voters ran more than 25 percent higher this year than four years ago, with especially high registration among black women.

Nearly 1.4 million Georgians have voted, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, and more than a third were black. (Blacks make up just over 29 percent of registered voters in the state, which keeps track of racial data under civil rights laws.) Early voting began Sept. 22, and this week the state opened extra polling stations and extended their hours.

The development is not lost on Mr. Chambliss. “There has always been a rush to the polls by African-Americans early,” he said at the square in Covington, a quick stop on a bus tour as the campaign entered its final week. He predicted the crowds of early voters would motivate Republicans to turn out. “It has also got our side energized, they see what is happening,” he said.
It may not be the evidence of a racist backlash Ross was looking for, but it certainly seems to be evidence that some Republicans are counting on just such a backlash.

Update: And here's an excerpt from a scare e-mail forwarded by David Storck, chairman of the Hillsborough County (FL) Republican Party:
THE THREAT:
HERE IN TEMPLE TERRACE, FL OUR REPUBLICAN HQ IS ONE BLOCK AWAY FROM OUR LIBRARY, WHICH IS AN EARLY VOTING SITE.

I SEE CARLOADS OF BLACK OBAMA SUPPORTERS COMING FROM THE INNER CITY TO CAST THEIR VOTES FOR OBAMA. THIS IS THEIR CHANCE TO GET A BLACK PRESIDENT AND THEY SEEM TO CARE LITTLE THAT HE IS AT MINIMUM, SOCIALIST, AND PROBABLY MARXIST IN HIS CORE BELIEFS. AFTER ALL, HE IS BLACK--NO EXPERIENCE OR ACCOMPLISHMENTS--BUT HE IS BLACK.
And check out Storck's initial reaction to this becoming a story: The Democrats are trying to sabotage me by pointing out my actions.


* Please note: While today, 99.9% of people who read The Atlas Shrugs post which suggests Malcolm X is Barack Obama's father would agree she is, as Ben Smith puts it, out on the "frontiers of craziness," those of us who have lurked in the blogosphere for some time know that she's actually a blogger respected by many on the right. In fact, she was, I believe, one of only two bloggers to interview John Bolton one-on-one (insanely) while he was our Ambassador to the U.N. and is sill taken seriously by the supposed conservative intellectuals over at National Review.

"Crazy Joe" the Plumber is not just a joke...

...he's an old joke.

15 years old, in fact.

Still, during an interview tonight on All Things Considered, McCain senior advisor Nicolle Wallace actually interrupted an interview to say:
Oh! Joe the Plumber just got on the Straight Talk Express, speaking--speaking of his words, his wisdom and his economic ideas...
His wisdom? His economic ideas? Really? McCain, the guy who started this campaign talking about his experience in Washington is relying on the "wisdom" and "economic ideas" of Sam Wurzelbacher? A plumber (unlicensed) who doesn't pay his taxes, who doesn't understand the difference between a progressive tax scheme and socialism, who would get a tax cut under Obama's plan, who says he was going to buy a business (but had no real plan to do so), but seems to really, really want to be a congressman, a country singer and, hell, I don't know, a fireman and an astronaut--this is the savior of the McCain campaign?

John Stuart Mill famously called the conservatives of his day the "stupid party." In 1953, Russell Kirk began his landmark book The Conservative Mind with Mill's claim and then spent many pages trying to disprove it. Somewhere, Mill is looking down on the McCain campaign, elbowing Kirk and laughing uproariously.

Premature ejection

It's a problem for men of a certain age.

(Via Atrios.)

A timeline of epiphany

October 16th, the McCain campaign begins talking about Obama's tax plan as "socialism."

October 22nd, John McCain releases an ad calling Obama's tax cut plan welfare and "government handouts", meanwhile suggesting his own such plan is reform.

The socialism charge is really about race, says John Judis on October 29 at 10:01 AM:
It's the latest version of Reagan's "welfare queen" argument from 1980. It if it works, it won't be because most white Americans actually oppose a progressive income tax, but because they fear that Obama will inordinately favor blacks over them.
At 11:41 AM, Noam Scheiber agrees.

Pish posh, says Ross Douthat at 1:34 PM:
I'm sure I'm displaying my immense naivete about the sinister machinations of Steve Schmidt and company here, but if I had John McCain's disposable income I'd happily put up tens of thousands of dollars betting that the "don't let Obama spread your wealth to shiftless blacks" ploy that Judis is describing has not once been a topic of conversation in any McCain strategy session throughout the whole "Joe the Plumber" phase of the campaign.
At 1:47 PM, Marc Ambinder highlights a curious phrase in a McCain radio ad running in Virginia--"Just as you suspected, Barack Obama's wrong for you."
The line is: "Just as you suspected..."

Who suspected what? Is this code for something?
The racism charge is rubbish, writes Matt Feeney (who has clearly not been paying attention), later that day (no time stamp):
I agree with Judis that welfare would be more popular and generous in America if it didn't, in its public image, involve white people giving their hard-earned tax dollars to lazy black people. (This is emphatically not to say that critiques of welfare are inherently racist, or that welfare doesn't have the problems critics ascribe to it.) But I still think that Judis and Scheiber have gone a bit loony on this one. Why? Because McCain isn't using the word "welfare." "Spread the wealth" and "socialism" simply aren't "welfare." They muster literally none of its deep associations, not because the tropes don't share substantive features, but because "socialism" and "spreading the wealth" haven't been part of the old discourse of, well, welfare.
Ross Douthat, October 30th, 9:09 AM:
I should note that the design of this last-ditch McCain ad - which actually uses the word "welfare," as opposed to just talking about "spreading the wealth," a distinction that makes a difference - makes John Judis's "race and Joe the Plumber" argument seem at least slightly more tethered to plausibility...
Some day in the future, thoughtful Republicans will feel shame.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Beaten to the punch

Sadly, No! commenter Tom's Cousin Blader reads my mind and posts this take on the ongoing "Whitey Tape" travesty still playing out on the right blogosphere.
I AM HOLDING THE TAPE BUT NOT ITS PASSWORD, AS THE REPRESENTATIVE OF AN INDIVIDUAL IN KINSASHA, CURRENTLY UNDER HOUSE ARREST AND WHO IS THE ONLY INDIVIDUAL WHO KNOWS THIS PASSWORD. GIVEN THE TENUOUS POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT IN OUR CAPITAL, FOR OBVIOUS REASONS, HE MUST REMAIN ANONYMOUS.

MY OWN CREDENTIALS ARE EASILY VERIFIED, SINCE I AM A CIVIL SERVANT WORKING FOR THE NIGERIAN FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN A CAPACITY MANY IN THE WEST WOULD RECOGNIZE AS SIMILAR TO THAT OF A BANKING AUDITOR.

DESPITE MY GOVERNMENT SERVICE, I CAN LEGALLY ACT AS THE AGENT OF ANOTHER, BUT BECAUSE OF POSITION, I AM UNABLE TO PERSONALLY ACCEPT TRANSACTIONAL FUNDS FOR SUCH INDIVIDUALS.

I THEREFORE NEED SUCH AN INDIVIDUAL TO ACT AS AN INTERMEDIARY BETWEEN THE POSSESSOR OF THE TAPE IN QUESTION, AND THE FOX BROADCASTING COMPANY. THE LATTER IS CONTRACTUALLY OBLIGATED TO PAY MY CLIENT THE SUM OF $21,000,000 USD UPON COMPLETION OF THIS TRANSACTION. MY CLIENT WILL CONSEQUENTLY PAY ME $4,400,000 FOR THE CUSTOMARY PRIMARY MEDIATION FEE. I, IN TURN, WILL PAY YOU $2,200,000 WHICH IS THE CUSTOMARY FEE PAID TO ALL SECONDARY MEDIATORS IN THIS TRANSACTION.
There's more.

Strange days have found us

If you're quiet, maybe you can here Robert Stacy "Natural Revulsion" McCain crying softly.














Blatantly stolen from Ben Smith, who has links to similar pics.

We're all Eurpoeans now

It seems that Dennis Prager, who (as people on both the right and left know) doesn't understand what America is all about, well, really doesn't understand what America is about.
Equality, which is the primary value of the left, is a European value, not an American value.
Check out what these dirty fucking hippies wrote:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Truth is, Prager's both right and wrong. While equality is clearly an American value, choosing to separate from England and give individuals rights was just as obviously a decision that only liberals would make. So just look at all those DFHs, with all their unabashed leftistness showing.



Update: Think Progress has video.

Oh, snap!

American Conservative blogger Daniel Larison uses snark like a shiv, taking down two McCains with a single sentence. Neo-Confederate wingnut Robert Stacy McCain wrote:
I've got news for the Christopher Buckleys of the world -- if Sarah Palin is enough to make you decide you're not a Republican, you're not a Republican.

I saw the Republican Party today, standing in line to see Palin at Shippensburg University.
Larison writes that it makes sense to him:
At the rate the McCain campaign is going, pretty soon I wouldn’t be surprised if you could fit the entire party into a single auditorium for one of her rallies.
Ouch.

Also, were I a Republican party member, I think I would beg Robert Stacy McCain to never, ever suggest again that Sarah Palin is the Republican Party. After all...
Sarah Palin's Unpopularity Grows in Wake of Controversy

At her peak, after the Republican convention, 59 percent of likely voters held an overall favorable opinion of Palin.

Now that's down to 46 percent, while 51 percent see her unfavorably. Majority disfavor is danger for any public figure; so is its intensity -- and an unusually large 40 percent have a "strongly" unfavorable opinion of Palin.

Men now divide about evenly on Palin, 51-46 percent favorable-unfavorable, down from 59-24 percent Sept. 7. Women, though, have gone from 58-33 percent then to 41-56 percent now, currently viewing her unfavorably by a 15-point margin.

Another group in which Palin's rating has fallen especially steeply is among mainline or nonevangelical white Protestants -- a 24-point drop, from 70 percent favorable in early September to 46 percent today.

This is the same usually pro-Republican group that has moved toward Obama, now supporting him by a 10-point margin, enough to counteract his shortfall among usually swing-voting white Catholics.

Palin's also lost ground on her main stake, the common touch -- a 10-point drop in the number who believe she "understands the problems of people like you." (Again, the decline has occurred disproportionately among women.)

And about six in 10 likely voters continue to say she lacks the experience to serve effectively as president. That doesn't help McCain, given the level of concerns about his age.
Larison again:
McCain was right about this much when he said, 'if Sarah Palin is enough to make you decide you’re not a Republican, you’re not a Republican.' Indeed, I am not, never have been and, if Palin is the future of the GOP, I never will be.

Building a better astroturf

According to Jonathan Martin, conservatives plan to meet after the election to figure out how they lost the people.

You know, it's weird, but that word: grassroots--I don't think it means what they think it means.
Two days after next week's election, top conservatives will gather at the Virginia weekend home of one of the movement's most prominent members to begin a conversation about their role in the GOP and how best to revive a party that may be out of power at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue next year.

The meeting will include a "who's who of conservative leaders -- economic, national security and social," said one attendee, who shared initial word of the secret session only on the basis of anonymity and with some details about the host and location redacted.

[snip]

One of the topics of discussion will be how to fashion a "national grassroots political and policy coalition similar to the out Reagan years," said the attendee, a reference to the development of the so-called New Right apparatus following Jimmy Carter's 1976 victory and Reagan's election four years later.
So a "who's who" of right wingers will meet at a fellow winger's "weekend house"--weekend house!--to come up with a new grassroots community.

How could it fail?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"Crazy Joe" the Plumber embarrasses McCain

Yet again, the McCain campaign's vetting process seems to have failed them. Today "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher says publicly and on video that "a vote for Obama is a vote for the death of Israel."

That's some awesome crazy.

Here's the funny bit, though, from Fox News' Carl Cameron.
I talked to the McCain campaign a short while ago and they were hesitant to put too much distance between Joe Wurzelbacher, because he obviously has become such a central part of McCain's argument that Obama's tax cut plan amounts to a redistribution of wealth, which he has called class warfare.
McCain is stuck between bullshit and batshit crazy.

Update: Check out the new video with Fox News' Shepard Smith trying to get "Crazy Joe" to explain why Obama would mean the end of Israel. "Let people go out and find--that's what I've been telling people--get out and vote, but find out the issues. Find out why they would think I would say that or why Obama says what he says of McCain says what he says." In other words, Joe based his statement on nothing. Neat.

Smith ends his discussion with Wurzelbacher by reiterating that Obama has said "Israel will always be a friend of the United States, no matter what happens" and then shaking his head and saying, sadly, "The rest of it, man, it just gets frightening sometimes."

Update: "Crazy Joe" stated this, of course, as he officially endorsed McCain. He also suggested that electing Obama would mean we would no longer be a democracy. Looks like McCain's got the paranoid rabidly-pro-Israel right-wing-Minuteman-like conspiracy theorist plumber vote all wrapped up.

A tale of two buses

There are two stories about covering the presidential election today in the Los Angeles Times. Taken together, they're very interesting.

Maeve Reston, who has followed John McCain, writes an embarrassing piece that seems more like the diary entry of a recently-jilted girlfriend. You should read the whole thing, but I wanted to highlight two excerpts. First, she writes about a moment in the campaign when (referencing a statement by McCain surrogate Carly Fiorina) she asked John McCain whether birth control should be covered by insurance companies, since many cover Viagra. McCain strained for an answer, which stressed Reston out. She writes:
Liberals and late-night comedians would later revel in McCain's on-camera discomfort -- the widening of his eyes, the awkward silence while he clutched his jaw and formulated an answer. But I had come to respect McCain's frankness and his willingness to admit he didn't always have an answer. Watching the question morph into an embarrassing "gotcha moment" for cable television, my stomach churned and my cheeks grew hot.
Now, unless she was invested in his campaign, his reaching for an answer shouldn't have bothered her, I would think. After all, it's not her fault that McCain couldn't think on his feet, right?

But, as she points out, Reston had been given her marching orders to go easy on McCain--because the American people might misunderstand his mavericky way of speaking--and had accidentally violated them. What's worse is that those orders came not from McCain, her editors or Republican flacks, but, she writes, from a fellow journalist.
On one of my first days covering McCain, another reporter protectively warned me that it was important to be judicious with the material I used from McCain's bus rides to keep the conversations in context.
On the other end of the spectrum, we get an essay from Peter Nicholas, who admits to his own screw-up following Obama:
One day in July, I was the pool reporter at an event in Zanesville, Ohio, meaning I was responsible for writing up for the rest of the press corps Obama's visit to a ministry that was tutoring young students. Again kept at a distance, I watched as Obama chatted with the kids. One boy approached him and held out his fist. Obama drew back. "If I start that . . ." he said. From where I stood, it looked like he was refusing a request for a fist bump -- a gesture that had gotten a lot of attention after Obama fist-bumped his wife at a campaign event the month before. A Fox News host had even suggested that it was a "terrorist fist jab." If Obama was rolling out a no-fist-bump policy, that seemed worth mentioning.

The pool report quickly got around.

Maureen Dowd of the New York Times cited the episode in her column. Obama complained to an aide that it hadn't happened that way. He was right. A videotape of the conversation would later show the boy was merely asking Obama to autograph his hand.
Unlike McCain's camp, though, which took Reston's question as an attack, when Nicholas admits his error to Obama himself, the candidate thanks him for taking responsibility for his mistake.

This would seem to tell you something about the two candidates. One pouts over a perfectly valid question. The other shrugs off a published falsehood.

It doesn't tell Nicholas enough, though. He whines that he doesn't really know Obama, that he wants him to "loosen up." But then he writes the following:
Of course, at Obama's level, there's no such thing as harmless chatter. There's a pattern to these moments. Obama comes to the back of the plane. Light banter ensues, usually about Obama's favorite baseball team, the White Sox. Then a reporter slowly pulls out a tape recorder and turns it on. Obama notices. Now he's more cautious. More tape recorders pop up, and pretty soon we're back to a recitation of his stump speech.
So, while McCain's reporters pick and choose what they let the masses know about the candidate they follow, allowing him room to chat and make friends, the reporters on Obama's bus are quick with the recorders whenever he starts in with the small talk.

I won't argue that the reporters should let Obama talk off-the-record at length. They are, after all, there to tell us about the man, not become his buddy. But, in story after story, I hear the press complaining that they miss the old McCain. Their buddy. The jokester. Well, that guy has turned into a person who delights in taking his opponent's most casual and innocuous statements out of context and use them as cudgels or, in some cases, just intentionally misconstrue the meaning of what Obama said.

Considering the current situation Obama faces--with reporters unwilling to simply talk to him and McCain's nutty need to lie about everything he says--I don't think I'd be all that willing to get chummy with the press either. It's not, after all, their job to mind-meld with the man, but to report the facts.

It's high time for reporters to realize candidates aren't supposed to be their friends and, I would argue, being buddies with the people you cover would seem to me at least unprofessional, if not explicitly unethical. Obama seems to know this and I'd be willing to bet McCain knows it, too. I'm certain he's not sitting around moaning about his lost friends in the press corps. I would even guess that it's likely John McCain only tolerated having them so close and kissing their asses because it garnered him "swooning" coverage for a decade.

For the record: Strippers don't really like you either.

Update: Glenn pulls Reston's article apart.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Shorter Mark Levin

The Obama Temptation:
American democracy doesn't work because the country's full of stupid people. Doesn't my list of statements unsupported by the facts prove that?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Learning a different lesson than I did

So I was talking to a friend of mine about the Ashley Todd deal and he pointed to the statement of Republican propagandist and Fox News VP John Moody, who said, "If the incident turns out to be a hoax, Senator McCain's quest for the presidency is over, forever linked to race-baiting."

Me, I think that's bullshit. It's as ridiculous to blame McCain for this nut's sad attempt at...whatever she was attempting to do as it would have been to blame Barack Obama if someone had actually carved a "B" in her face. Period.

Yes, I know calling Obama a socialist friend of terrorists who is going to end America as we know it does seem to fire up the crazies and it would be great if the McCain camp would stop it, but Ashley Todd's actions seem too much to lay at McCain's feet.

But, in revisiting some of the right wing blogs that put their sleuthing hats on and declared Todd's story all but proven, I found that some people just don't think like me.

Take, for example, Ace at Ace of Spades, who decided, after seeing a photograph, that questioning the girl's story was inappropriate. "Now that I have a name, a face, and a visible black eye it's harder to speculate this was faked. If this happened, which is likely, she needs support and sympathy, not skepticism and speculation."

After all, he argued about the backwards B, "There are so many sensible explanations for this that to cry "hoax" over this one point is silly."

In the end, though, Ace seems to be mad about Todd's hoax for all the wrong reasons.
anyone ever see Malice?

Anyway, the criminal hoaxer got caught there because she insisted on "sweetening" the hoax -- upping the pathos -- to the point where she
got sloppy and then got caught.

Point is-- hey, if you were going to fake this, the black eye was plenty!

Know when to say when. Don't gild the lily.

I really need to put out a manual on this.
And later he writes:
I gotta tell ya, I've never done a political hoax myself but I have to think I'd be a little bit smarter about it than this Krazy Kretinous Kow.

Like, for one thing? I think I'd've been smart enough to get the ATM to take my picture shortly before my "attack."

Check me out, master criminal, thinking of things like that.

It's not just that she's corrupt and crazy. I mean -- obviously.

It's also that she's not even minimally competent at it.
In other words, some crazy lady tries to stir up racial resentment and smear the Obama campaign in the process and Ace wants to know where all of his party's good ratfuckers went.

Unfortunately for him, even the supposed leading lights of his party--the deep thinkers over at National Review--can't figure out how to run a decent ratfuck without publicly encouraging their readers to break the law and then blaring the fact of those violations across the internet.

Sad, really, but what can you expect when you've spent the last 20 years trying to run a party on the power of stupid?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Shorter Dennis Prager

Opposition to California Proposition 8: Hate in the Name of Love
The liberals already made it uncool to be a racist, do we want to give up anti-gay bigotry too?

In cased you missed it

"Blaming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for the financial meltdown is like blaming the dead canary for the mine explosion." - John Rogers of Kung Fu Monkey

Distinctions are for n00bz

Kathryn Jean Lopez, with another example of what's wrong with the National Review:
Why was Nina Easton just on Fox defending CNN against liberal-bias accusations in regard to its Byron quote butchering? They're just sloppy, not biased, she said. I don't know why she'd bother making the distinction.
Of course you don't, Kate. Distinctions are for people who care about the truth, which obviously leaves out the editor of the National Review.

Idiot of the day

Steve Steckler, defending Sarah Palin's $150,000 wardrobe budget:
It is the same misogyny applied to Governor Palin by the "Lifestyle" sections (or in the case of The New York Times, the editorial page) of major newspapers around the country. Senator Obama has millions from the sale of book rights to buy the stylish designer wear in his and Michelle's wardrobe. (Memo to next Congress: add a refundable tax credit for biography purchases.) Sarah Palin has her own and a union oilfield worker's paycheck. I thought the hockey jersey was fine, but it's hard to blame a campaign for wanting to keep up with the Obamas.
Wow. Unfortunately for Steckler, it seems that Michelle Obama could have purchased around 1,000 dresses for what Palin's spent in two months and, considering Obama's well-worn and patched shoes (vice McCain's $500 Ferragamos) suggest Palin could have kept up with Obamas for much less.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Silly kids

They don't understand the difference between the spreading of wealth and the spreading of manure.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Is it just me...?

...or are John McCain's Campaign folks starting to sound like a bunch of wife beaters and child abusers? They seem to they they should be excused for wading knee-deep in race- and red-baiting bullshit due to two arguments:
  • Why do you make us hurt you?
  • This hurts us more than it hurts you.

Don't use bread crumbs

From the department of bad headlines:

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Some McCain fans just can't help themselves

Because they're stupid fucking racists.

Bullshit Corner Comment of the Day

Today at the Corner:
I'm Glad [Ramesh Ponnuru]

I never hear conservatives talking about moving somewhere else if Democrats win elections.
Now, look, I think I may have heard a couple of movie stars say such a thing, so, since no one with any real talent wants to be a Republican (and, considering the financial and critical failure of right wing movies, who can blame them?), I'm sure they just lack people with the wherewithal to head out of town.

Oh, wait, I guess the right does have sad sack actor Stephen Baldwin on their side, but there's no reason to think he'd bail on his country, right?
I just wanna say right now, Laura, it's official, if Barack gets nominated, I'll be moving out of the country.
Damn, so I guess the right isn't filled with stalwarts, after all.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way to your underground lair

Obviously, I've been unable to blog for a while as life has intruded, but I simply couldn't let this hilarious post by the world's stupidest professor's wife (via Sadly, No!) and subsequent idiotic discussion go without comment. She writes:
Do you ever wonder after dealing with all that is going on with the economy and the upcoming election if it's getting to be time to "go John Galt." For those of you who have never read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, the basic theme is that John Galt and his allies take actions that include withdrawing their talents, 'stopping the motor of the world', and leading the 'strikers' (those who refuse to be exploited) against the 'looters' (the exploiters, backed by the government.
Now Gavin at Sadly No! focuses on the pretty obvious hate for America in "Dr. Ole Missus Professor's" post. He's right, of course. If you love Atlas Shrugged, you are expressing hate for America and it's ideals (and the Ole Professor clan loves them some America-hating authors); you are, as the conservative writer Whittaker Chambers wrote in 1957, embracing a novel in which Utopia has "embarrassing similarities between Hitler's National Socialism and Stalin's brand of Communism..."; and you are, in the end, declaring hatred for all religion.

But there are also a couple of very basic problems with the Atlas Shrugged fantasy of the right--and I have found them funny since the first time I read the damn book at 17.

First, there are damn few real industrial geniuses around to run off and make a right-wing, economically laissez-faire Shangri-La in the mountains. Rather, the folks running the companies today are basically MBA-types with good connections who couldn't build a popsicle-stick birdhouse if their lives depended on it. Can anyone picture WorldCom's Bernie Ebbers or Tyco's Dennis Kozlowski decked out in plaid in some Rocky Mountain hideaway, waiting patiently for the time they can return to rule the world?

Second, if these people had even a basic common sense understanding of the rules of supply and demand, they'd realize that putting all the billionaires in one place could only lead to one thing: localized inflation. In other words, if they really ran off to the woods to found their commune of greed, they'd only end up paying their local 7-11 a thousand bucks for a gallon of milk and God only knows how much for gas.

In the end, the "John Galt" fantasy is basically a right-wing version of the stoner classic, "Why do we need money anyway?" It'll never go away because, just like some people gotta get high, some people gotta be dumb.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

In case you missed it

In death, William F. Buckley proved he was an asshole. And as Roger says, when will we fix the problem of white children growing up fatherless?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Manufacturing dissent

The right tries to buy itself some protestors fauxtesters.
In an email obtained by the Huffington Post, Vets for Freedom field staffer Laura Meyer offered a fraternity at St. Louis University a "sizable donation" - plus free lunch - if it could use their pledges to demonstrate outside the VP debate.

"I was emailing you today," wrote Meyer, "because I am trying to find people who would be willing to hold up signs for a few hours in the afternoon this Thursday outside the VP debate site. It's only for a few hours and you can gain a lot from it.... first off, lunch for any guys who agree to volunteer will be on me. Secondly, they will get lots of media attention! My organization did a similar thing in Mississippi last week and a ton of them were on TV. Meaning, the guys could wear their [REDACTED] gear while holding up our signs and get attention for their frat. Also, they will get to hang out with a bunch of really cool Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.

"Lastly, and here's the kicker.... if you guys can get us at least 20 volunteers for those few hours, my organization will make a sizable donation to your fraternity. If you use pledges you could look at it as 'free money and free publicity'. If this sounds like something you may be willing to help us out with, please let me know ASAP!"
Nice.

Of course, we've seen this sort of thing before...

John McCain doesn't support the troops

McCain's timing is as impeccable as ever

First he said the fundamentals of the economy were sound as the economy fell into a pit and then he said he was kickass for helping pass the bailout bill on the day it failed to pass.

Now there's this.



About a minute-and-a-half from the end of this video, McCain gets pissy when a reporter asks him about Americans' concerns about Sarah Palin's readiness to be president. "Really?" he asks, "I haven't detected that and I haven't detected that in the polls, I haven't detected that amongst the base...I think that the American people have overwhelmingly show their approval."

The American people beg to differ.
...opinions about Sarah Palin have become increasingly negative, with a majority of the public (51%) now saying that the Alaska governor is not qualified to become president if necessary; just 37% say she is qualified to serve as president. That represents a reversal of opinion since early September, shortly after the GOP convention. At that time, 52% said Palin was qualified to step in as president, if necessary.
If he could get that Google thing down, he might not step in his own b.s. so much.