Saturday, November 01, 2008

Throwing an Election, Part 2

Have you noticed, as I think I have, that every time McCain appears to be getting a little traction, another heavy weight Republican endorses Obama? Why do they do it at this point in the game? It seems to me they have the option of silence.

I'm fully convinced that the Republican Party gave McCain the nod in exchange for his backing Bush policies ... they gave him the nod to run ... not to win. I believe they went into the election seeing the hand writing on the wall, that it simply wasn't going to be a Republican year. Even if there was a chance to win, it wouldn't be a very good political move to win this one. Whoever takes the office is in for a rough ride. I speculate that the thinking went something like this:

Lets let the Democrats win this one. It is a virtually impossible task to manage the foreign relations issues, oversee two wars AND fix the economy after the fiasco of the last eight years. When the wheels come off, and there's a good change they will, come back in 2012 with a bag full of "We told ya so". In the meantime, they get to make an object lesson of McCain and his maverick ways. Let him run into a crushing defeat. If he looks like he's going to get up from the mat during the fight, give him a swift kick in the jewels. If he looks like he's getting some traction, send out another Republican to make headlines endorsing Obama. It kills two birds with one stone. It leaves the Democrats holding the bag with the added advantage of demonstrating what happens when you buck the party line. They've hung McCain out to dry.

I wonder who really pointed McCain at the Caribou Barbie? She has certainly proved to be a political boat anchor.

I think the Congressional races have been a surprise but still ... "We told ya so" in 2012.

Maybe I'm being paranoid but elephants are reputed to have a long memories.

Notes on Lessons Learned

Voter Apathy: When candidates are inspirational, voter apathy ceases to be a factor. Both Obama and Palin are inspirational and charismatic candidates. Granted, they each appeal to different sides of the human psyche - Obama appeals to our better instincts, seeks to unify the country and appears to sincerely hope to do the greatest good for the greatest number of Americans. Palin, on the other hand, is satisfied with a strategy of "divide and conquer", focusing on Real America (implying some parts of the country aren't really American), name calling (accusing those on the left of being "Socialists", or "terrorists" or "unpatriotic") and emotional appeals rather than positive programs. The common thread between the two is their ability to inspire segments of the electorate. It remains to be seen if it is hope or fear that is the greater motivator.

Undecided Voters: I'm beginning to think, particularly at this late stage of the game, that the "Undecided Voter" is a myth. News reports of 8-9 hour waits in early voter lines in Atalanta (specifically) and in other places across the country (in general) are a great deterrent to any voter who isn't at least a little committed to their choice. If one doesn't have a clue who they're voting for at this point, there really isn't a lot of time to get emotionally involved enough to put up with the wait to vote. Anyone who says they're "undecided" at this point is either a liar or they're a non-voter.

Polls and Weather Reports: ... have a lot in common. I wonder if pollsters weren't invented to make weather reporters look good.

Republican Senate Candidates Abandon McCain

Republican candidates for the Senate in Oregon, Louisiana, North Carolina and elsewhere have de facto given up on John McCain and are urging voters to support them as a counterweight to President Obama. They say that one-party rule is bad for the country. Interestingly enough, in 2004, when Republican control of Congress was assured, few Republicans were advocating a vote for John Kerry in order to prevent the dreaded one-party rule. In 2000, 85% of the people voted for the same party for the Senate as for President, so in practice, people do not really split their tickets just to give each party some power. In fact, when Congress and the White House are controlled by different parties, everyone bemoans "the gridlock in Washington."

Sourced from

My comment: I was wondering when someone was going to ask the question. Bush, Rove, DeLay and the rest of the crowd (that drove our collective bus into the ditch) thought a 100 year Republican reign was a wonderful idea. Suddenly, Republicans have taken the other side of the argument. Perhaps they DID learn something from their try at that 100 year dynasty thought. I don't think so. I think it's an argument of convenience for them. I fully expect they'll forget all about the argument if the pendulum ever swings in their direction again.

Friday, October 31, 2008

No! ... Really!

Check it out!

Sarah Palin's War on Science

The GOP ticket's appalling contempt for knowledge and learning.
By Christopher Hitchens / Slate

In an election that has been fought on an astoundingly low cultural and intellectual level, with both candidates pretending that tax cuts can go like peaches and cream with the staggering new levels of federal deficit, and paltry charges being traded in petty ways, and with Joe the Plumber becoming the emblematic stupidity of the campaign, it didn't seem possible that things could go any lower or get any dumber. But they did last Friday, when, at a speech in Pittsburgh, Gov. Sarah Palin denounced wasteful expenditure on fruit-fly research, adding for good xenophobic and anti-elitist measure that some of this research took place "in Paris, France" and winding up with a folksy "I kid you not."

It was in 1933 that Thomas Hunt Morgan won a Nobel Prize for showing that genes are passed on by way of chromosomes. The experimental creature that he employed in the making of this great discovery was the Drosophila melanogaster, or fruit fly. Scientists of various sorts continue to find it a very useful resource, since it can be easily and plentifully "cultured" in a laboratory, has a very short generation time, and displays a great variety of mutation. This makes it useful in studying disease, and since Gov. Palin was in Pittsburgh to talk about her signature "issue" of disability and special needs, she might even have had some researcher tell her that there is a Drosophila-based center for research into autism at the University of North Carolina. The fruit fly can also be a menace to American agriculture, so any financing of research into its habits and mutations is money well-spent. It's especially ridiculous and unfortunate that the governor chose to make such a fool of herself in Pittsburgh, a great city that remade itself after the decline of coal and steel into a center of high-tech medical research.

... get the rest after the jump.

My comment: God help us if "these people" ever gain any real power. The first thing on their anti-intellectual agenda would be to build a bridge to the 13th century.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Something's happenin' here ...

If you're a Republican who has lately found yourself questioning the direction the modern Republican Party has taken, the following piece is an absolute "must read":

Moderate Republicans Unhappy With Party's New Principles

by Chuck Lasker

The Republican Party is dead. Yes, I'm saying this before the election. Even if McCain wins, which could happen if Obama supporters stay home thinking the election is in the bag, the GOP still has lost its way along with a substantial number of members. While high-profile Republicans like Susan Eisenhower and Frank Schaeffer have made the headlines, the real exodus is on Main Street.

Contrary to popular belief, a large percentage of Republicans are unhappy not because of the Bush administration itself, but because of the recent clear revelations of what direction the Party is heading. Actually, we've started realizing the problems began all the way back in Reagan's presidency, and the only thing that has remained "Republican" has been the talking points. Let's quickly review the Republican Principles listed on the GOP site itself.

... the rest after the click ...

Some relevant lyrics for the moment:

For What It's Worth
Buffalo Springfield

There's something happening here
What it is ain't exactly clear
There's a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware
I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

There's battle lines being drawn
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind
I think it's time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

What a field-day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly say, hooray for our side
It's time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you're always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away
We better stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

Stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, now, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

* * *

At the risk of being redundant, I think I've seen this movie before ...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Notes from the campaign trail

I found the following on the web site from the crew's notes as they travel around the country observing this election on the ground and visiting McCain and Obama field offices. It moved me greatly and I think I gives some insight into why this singularly American election could prove to be as historic as those of 1932 and perhaps even 1860.

Now I have a confession. Even Brett doesn't know this. I hope it doesn't lessen the professional work we're trying to accomplish in chronicling this historic election on the ground, but if it does, I'll live with it. There is something stirring in America.

Back at the rally, after the march had left MLK Gardens, I'd gone back for the car while Brett took photos, and I spotted a very old black man in a sharp Sunday suit walking slowly at the very back of the huge march. He hadn't yet arrived at the voting center, and I decided to find him when I got back.

I wanted to go talk to him, to ask him what this moment meant to him. He was a guy who you take one glance at, and know, that guy's seen it all. I wanted a quote. I had my journalist hat on. I thought, this will be great.

So when I got back to the voting location with the car, I went to find him in the line. Eventually I spotted him, and was ready to walk up the few feet between us and introduce myself when I stopped in my tracks.

A young black boy, no more than eight years old, walked up to this man, who was at least eighty. The boy offered the man a sticker, probably an "I Voted" sticker, but I couldn't see. The man took the sticker and paused. Silently, he looked down at the boy, who was looking back up at the man. The man put his hand gently on the boy's head, and I saw his eyes glisten.

I didn't ask the man for a quote. I didn't need to. I walked over by myself, behind the community center, and I sat down on a bench next to the track, and wept.

I don't suppose one would see a similar incident at a rally where the audience is encouraged (certainly not discouraged) from shouting "traitor" and "kill him".

You can find the incident recorded at the end of this post on

There is No Such Thing as a Christian Democracy

from Huffington Post by Robbie Gennet

There is no such thing as a Christian Democracy. There is no such thing as a Muslim Democracy or a Jewish Democracy either (or a solely Heterosexual one, for that matter). True Democracy means True Equality and no religion sees itself as equal to all the others (and they feel especially unequal to secularism and atheism). Of all the problems we face in unifying the "United" States of America, one of the largest and most damaging is those who believe that their religion should be the official religion of our Democracy. In this country, the vast majority of them feel that the USA was founded as a Christian nation and should be run like one, which is anathema to the true Democratic ideals of our founding fathers. They never once think how they would feel if they were a minority and another religion was trying to assert its dominance over them in society. Let's look at two quotes from our presidential candidates that expose their feelings about American Democracy:

"Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God's will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all." --Sen. Barack Obama, 6/28/06

"The Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian Nation." - John McCain on video.

And just for good measure, three quotes from some of our Founding Fathers as shown in Bill Maher's excellent film "Religulous":

  • "Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man." -- Thomas Jefferson
  • "This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it." -- John Adams
  • "Lighthouses are more useful than churches." -- Benjamin Franklin

... more after the jump.

Nigerian Inspiration


(This was forwarded to me by a friend. It's important to laugh, when the only other option is to cry.)

From: Minister of the Treasury Paulson


Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transactin is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully
Minister of Treasury Paulson

My comment: No comment.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

McCain and the Demolition Durby

During his long career, John McCain has battled Detroit and dressed down automakers to demand tougher mileage standards and safer cars. But he apparently has a soft spot for used car dealers. The lovefest started years ago, but was on full display during McCain's stints as chairman of the powerful Senate Commerce Committee in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Back in 1997, McCain cosponsored legislation that would help used car dealers sell rebuilt wrecked cars to consumers, at inflated prices, and without disclosing the damage. The bill, which had the potential to keep millions of dangerous cars on the nation's highways, was a pet project of then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.).

... get the rest of the story on Mother Jones.

My comment: What was all that noise about Mexican truck drivers?

And The Times, They Are a' Changin'

Republican fears of historic Obama landslide unleash civil war for the future of the party

Senior Republicans believe that John McCain is doomed to a landslide defeat which will hand Barack Obama more political power than any president in a generation.

Aides to George W.Bush, former Reagan White House staff and friends of John McCain have all told The Sunday Telegraph that they not only expect to lose on November 4, but also believe that Mr Obama is poised to win a crushing mandate.

They believe he will be powerful enough to remake the American political landscape with even more ease than Ronald Reagan did in 1980.

The prospect of an electoral rout has unleashed a bitter bout of recriminations both within the McCain campaign and the wider conservative movement, over who is to blame and what should be done to salvage the party's future.

More from the London Telegraph after the jump.

My comment: In a way it's terribly ironic that the Republican party is being split over wedge issues, the very weapon they have used to maintain power since the Reagan years. As I mentioned in a previous post, the lines seem to be drawn between the Fiscal Conservatives and the Cultural Conservatives - who, in the final analysis, had very little in common in the first place.

There has been talk among the Cultural Conservatives of forming a third party and I suppose if that's going to happen, now is as good a time as any. The natural consequence would be diminished horse power for both factions, leaving neither with with enough to do much damage for generations. Perhaps there's a certain poetic justice there after 40 years of sustained, unchecked logrolling - but that's the reward for ideological purity in the face of huge challenges that require pragmatic solutions.

The election hasn't even been held and already both sides are up to their ear lobes in the blame game - though few are pointing a finger at the overall demonstrably bankrupt philosophy of unrestricted, unregulated free market capitalism. (I don't mean to suggest that capitalism is inherently evil. It is not. It is merely a tool in the economic tool box and the degree to which it is evil - like any tool - is the manner in which it's used.) Both sides are focused on the campaign tactics - McCain was too dirty - McCain wasn't dirty enough - McCain focused on the personality and character of his opponent too much - or not enough - too much on the issues or not enough.

From my perspective, McCain was the wrong man at the wrong time without an overall strategy and too many tactics that led to no gains, driving people away rather than attracting them. The only solution he offered was "I'm not Bush" and that's not a reason for anyone to do anything. In the end, he came off as an angry old man, shaking his fist at the sky in vain. After the last eight years of disasters - military disasters, foreign relations disasters, economic disasters, ethics scandals, constitutional erosions and hubris that would make any sane person blush - a Republican would have to be the second coming of Christ with fanfares trumpeted from Heaven On High to even come close to winning this round. And McCain is no second coming - nor is Sara Palin, in spite of the fact that she's bought into her early press, believing it to be true.

In all of this, I don't see where the Right has much right to complain. After all, they've done it to themselves. Over the course of the last 40 years, they've had a perfect opportunity to demonstrate that they knew what they were doing. Instead, they gave us asset inflation and called it economic growth. They gave us political maneuvering that demonstrated they were petty in the extreme. They perverted the idea of "bipartisan compromise" to mean "do it our way" and they've once again left our beloved country in a mess while holding up flag pins as the sign of their patriotism.

The Titanic of Newt Gingrich's "One Hundred Year Republican Majority" has hit the iceberg of reality and Tom Delay's ethically challenged lifeboat of ideological purity just won't float. The Grand Old Party is breaking up and sinking fast. But that's what you get when a Bush administration or a McCain campaign is told, "Captain! Captain! she's not answering the helm!" And the reply is "Aye, mate! Full speed ahead!"