Tuesday, September 30, 2008

David Gergen Calls House Republicans “Shockingly Irresponsible”.

“It’s really the House Republicans who bear special ignominy tonight because two-thirds of them voted against it. It was House Conservative Republican members who derailed it."

"This was one of the worst mistakes that I have ever seen Congress make. You always assume that, in a crunch, people will do what is right for the country. And time and again I have seen that. This was shockingly irresponsible."
David Gergen.

McCain is caught with his hands in the till.

It's quite obvious that the Republicans hoped enough Democrats would pass the $700 billion bailout that they could watch the plan being approved but ride on the back of the public's opposition to it by labelling it "Obama's plan". The proof is in the fact that they even produced ads attacking the bill at the very same time as McCain and others were claiming to support it.

The Republican National Committee's new advertisement critical of the the Wall Street "bailout" was produced and sent to television stations in key states before the package failed, officials at two stations said.

The ad taps into deep resentment of the plan, but it comes at a time when the candidate it supports, John McCain, is urging its package, and asking that it not be referred to as a "bailout," but a "rescue."

So, whilst talking of bipartisanship, they were already producing ads attacking the fact that the Democrats voted to support the bill.

The problem? Not enough Dems did. That's why they are so furiously condemning the Democrats now. They wanted to have their cake and eat it. They even produced these gloating ads to emphasise the point.

The problem is that they got the numbers wrong and now they will be held responsible for any financial meltdown which occurs.

And McCain is still claiming that he has always put his country before party? Please. Not since the Smoot-Hawley Act have people gambled so dangerously with their nations well being.

For this lot, despite anything McCain says, party always comes before country. The only thing that makes this moment unusual is that, with their own ads, they have been caught with their hands in the till.

What creeps.

Senator Did You Suspend Your Campaign As A Political Stunt?

Notice how one of the first things McCain does is remind you of how many Democrats voted against the bill, avoiding totally the fact that it was the Republicans who voted against this Republican bill put forward by a Republican president.

And he's still hitting the old number that he always puts his country first, despite the fact that the Republicans yesterday threw the country over a cliff and that, by naming Palin as his VP, he has taken the most reckless decision of any presidential nominee ever. If he pops his clogs as President, Sarah Palin gets handed the nuclear codes, and he puts his country first? Get outta here...

Kristol names the man to save the day. You'll never guess who...

Bill Kristol is without a doubt the most idiotic ideologue in Washington. The man is wrong so often that it staggers me that he is still sought out for his opinion. Here he is talking about the current crisis on Wall Street and how it must be fixed and by whom:

No one wants to take ownership of the task of rescuing the economy right now. The Bush-Paulson plan has failed. The administration, House Democrats, and House Republicans (above all) have all proved unable to deliver. But there is someone who might be able to save the economy--and incidentally the Republican party: John McCain.

He should come back to D.C. But this time he needs to take charge--either by laying out the outlines of his own plan, or presiding over meetings at which a real plan that can pass is cobbled together. He might also insist on the immediate passage of a couple of provisions (raising or removing FDIC insurance limits, for example) that could mitigate the damage that could be done over the next few days.

It’s time for McCain to act decisively, and to lead, as he did with the surge. No one else seems up to it.
It's actually hard to read that without laughing. Does he have no memory of what happened the last time John sailed into Washington to sort this out? He buggered the entire thing up. And what does he mean when he states that:
The administration, House Democrats, and House Republicans (above all) have all proved unable to deliver.
The Democrats did deliver. 66% of them voted to pass the bill, it was the Republicans who voted against this bill. McCain couldn't lead his own troops out of the trenches. And Kristol now thinks that McCain, having failed to deliver the Republicans when they were needed, is now the only man who can make this work?

That's ridiculous. It's frankly the kind of nonsense that Kristol is paid to produce; ignore reality and just keep pumping out inflated Republican propaganda.

Thankfully, even fellow journalists are calling out Kristol's stupidity here:
Per Kristol: John McCain flies back to Washington and finds a way to get the bailout passed. The markets recover; the papers trumpet McCain's heroism, and he's elected by a thin margin in November. Unfortunately, I'd place the odds against this happening at roughly - oh, what the hell, I'll just choose a really large number at random - seven hundred billion to one.
I know that Kristol has a very hard job attempting to apply Republican spin to every single situation, but even by his abysmally low journalistic standards, this is a joke.

Click title for Kristol's silly argument.

Fareed Zakaria says Palin must go.

Fareed Zakaria says that it is simply not true that McCain has, in this instance, put country before party. The problem with Palin as Zakaria sees it is not that she gives the wrong answer but that she clearly doesn't understand the question.

And with Wall Street collapsing, Zakaria argues this is not the time to play games and take such a risk.


Jack Cafferty asked a similar question of his audience and gives their thoughts here.

Chris Matthews: Bailout failed because of McCain's leadership.

I'm glad to see Matthews ignore the Republican spin on this. McCain led the charge and the Republican cavalry retreated. As Matthews says, "Can a Maverick be a leader?"

McCain claims Palin's ignorance is simply "Gotcha" politics.

This is truly pathetic. Now McCain and Palin are doing joint interviews with McCain supplying all the answers and then saying "I'll let her speak for herself".

Not only was Palin's answer about Pakistan very clearly expressed rather than the "Gotcha" journalism which they are both now claiming, it was actually the exact same answer as she gave during her interview with Charlie Gibson.


(Off-camera) Do we have the right to be making cross-border attacks into Pakistan, from Afghanistan, with or without the approval of the Pakistani government?


As for our right to invade, we’re going to work with these countries, building new relationships, working with existing allies, but forging new also in order to, Charlie, get to a point in this world, where war is not going to be a first option. In fact, war has got to be, and military strike, a last option.


(Off-camera) But Governor, I’m asking you, do we have the right, in your mind, to go across the border, with or without the approval of the Pakastani government?


In order to stop Islamic extremists, those terrorists who would seek to destroy America, and our allies, we must do whatever it takes, and we must not blink, Charlie, in making the tough decisions of where we go, and even who we target.

McCain can bleat all he wants about "Gotcha" journalism, but Palin was merely repeating a stance which she has previously stated on national television.

The truth is that Palin didn't understand that Obama and McCain had both already collided on that issue. Now they are trying to claim that words were somehow put into her mouth or that she was caught off guard. She wasn't. She simply didn't understand, in the interview with Gibson, that she was being asked a question which had caused friction between both campaigns.

She blatantly hadn't been following the election until McCain decided to insert her into the middle of it. That's why she doesn't know the McCain position on bin Laden and Pakistan.

Crisis derails McCain's fightback.

One of the most astonishing things about the Republican failure to pass the emergency bill to bail out Wall Street is the fact it utterly undermines John McCain. It was McCain who chose to dramatically insert himself into the middle of the crisis, no doubt hoping to take the credit for having "fixed the markets" should an agreement have been reached.

The failure of Republicans to step up to the plate leaves him horribly exposed.

McCain instantly attempted to push the blame towards the Democrats, but there can be few who will take that claim seriously, as 66% of Democrats voted for the bill with only 35% of Republicans following suit.

However, it may be Mr McCain, the Republican nominee, whose campaign is in greatest peril following his extraordinary gamble last week to suspend his campaign to thrust himself into the delicate negotiations about the financial crisis.

Republicans in the House ignored him yesterday, just as they ignored George Bush's appeal to pass the legislation. Many are more concerned about losing their seats in the November polls, as evidenced by just eight of the 38 lawmakers from swing states voting for the bailout.

Mr McCain lashed out at the Democrats, saying: "Senator Obama and his allies have used unnecessary partisanship... Now it's time for all members of Congress to go back to the drawing board. I call on Congress to get back immediately to address this crisis. The challenges facing our economy could have a grave impact on every American worker... if our leaders fail to act."

McCain can attempt, as many Republicans are doing, to push the blame for this towards the Democrats but it was McCain who clumsily inserted the presidential race into the delicate negotiations and it is McCain who stands to lose the most from the failure of the bill to pass, especially as the bill was voted down by a Republican majority.

The latest figures from 538.com are as dramatic as any that I have seen at any point in this electoral process, giving Obama a win percentage of 83%.

And these figures are simply a reaction to last week's debate, they do not yet include the reaction to the failure of the bill to pass.

Now the Republicans might succeed in passing the blame from their own shoulders on to those of the Democrats but I would be surprised if this was possible.

What is certain is that, traditionally, economic matters favour the Democrats and, the longer the economic troubles persist, the worse it is for McCain and any chance he has of making a comeback here.

That is why the Republican refusal to vote for their own president's bill so caught me by surprise yesterday. I really didn't see that one coming. The only chance McCain has of ever mounting any kind of a fight back is to put the financial crisis to bed. As long as that remains at the forefront of everyone's mind then he is doomed.

He is well aware of this which is why he and the Republicans are stretching credibility by trying to push the blame towards the Democrats.

Even Obama didn't expect what took place yesterday as he had already released a speech in which he said:
"Today, Democrats and Republicans in Washington have agreed on an emergency rescue plan that is our best and only way to prevent an economic catastrophe."
His faith in bipartisanship, like my own, didn't reckon on the Republicans wish to put their own re-election before the good of the country. Or even before the election of their candidate.

If yesterday's vote sets off the financial Armageddon which has been predicted, it will be a disaster for all for all of us, but what has already transpired is a catastrophe for McCain.

Click title for full article.

Panic grips world's markets.

When President Bush told us that an urgent financial package was needed to prevent the entire collapse of the American financial system, there were very few of us who were happy with the idea that, once again, profit was private but any financial loss became public debt.

However, angry as the idea of bailing out Wall Street made me, there were people who knew far more about economics than I did arguing that the choice was this or the complete financial collapse of the markets. In my mind I came to the conclusion that it was better to save the markets and vow that no company should ever again be allowed to become "too big to fail".

Both the presidential candidates delivered the same message with McCain going further than Barack Obama by suspending his campaign and flying to Washington to make sure the deal went through.

Yesterday the Democratic caucus delivered 66% of it's members to support a Republican bill and the Republicans, despite McCain's dramatic dash to Washington, delivered only 35% of it's members. 140 Democrats voted for the bill, despite it's unpopularity amongst the electorate, with only 65 Republicans also putting their necks on the line.

Astonishingly, despite the fact that this was a Republican bill, pushed by a Republican president, voted down by a majority of Republicans, that same party sought to push the failure of the bill to pass on to the heads of Democrats.

As recriminations began, Republican leaders blamed the Democratic speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, for framing the crisis as a consequence of recklessness by the Bush administration. "The speaker had to give a partisan voice that poisoned our conference," said Republican leader John Boehner. This drew ridicule from Democrats. Barney Frank, chairman of the House financial services committee, said: "Somebody hurt my feelings so I'll punish the country? That's hardly plausible."

Don't get me wrong, I was only willing to support the bill once oversight had been inserted into it. I had no idea, and as I write this I still have no idea, whether or not the entire $700 billion would ever have had to be used, but the important thing we were told was that the markets needed to see urgent action to prevent imminent financial collapse.

At that moment, appalling as bailing out these people was to me, I thought that we couldn't take the risk that the markets might collapse and that we should put a clothes peg over our noses and vote for this thing. With oversight assured, we would only see the spending of what was necessary to calm the markets and avoid financial Armageddon.

The Republicans, fearful of voting for an unpopular bail out so soon to an election, have put their re-election in front of the country's good, despite the dramatic intervention of McCain into the middle of this negotiation.

The markets have reacted swiftly.

The Mortgage Bankers' Association reacted by warning of job losses as banks curtail credit to small businesses. Larry Fink, chairman of a leading US investment management firm, BlackRock, said critics had been wrong to characterise the plan as a bail-out of Wall Street. "This is a bail-out of Main Street," he said. "Banks have no ability to lend at the moment because their balance sheets are so gummed up."

The financial fallout was swift and brutal. Shares in leading US banks slumped: Bank of America by 16%, Citigroup by 12% and Goldman Sachs by 11%. Oil plunged by $10 a barrel to just over $96 as traders bet on a slump reducing the need for fuel. The dollar fell sharply and the price of gold surged close to record territory.

Peter Morici, professor of business at the University of Maryland, said: "Things are going to get so bad something will have to be done in the next few weeks. Banks will sink, credit markets will seize, the economy will go into something much worse than a recession."

When I listen to every complaint that the Republicans make about this bill, their main objection is that this is "socialism". That is what they object to. Democrats who object tend to do so because they question whether or not this intervention will work or whether or not it is necessary. Republicans fear that this will work and fear that this is necessary because it undermines their entire ideological belief system.

To that end they really are prepared to take the risk that the entire financial system might collapse, despite McCain's dramatic intervention to steer the bill through.

McCain's intervention is now revealed as the empty political gesturing which we always suspected it was and those same Republicans who worried about losing their seats now face even more weeks with the economy at the forefront of the American electorate's minds.

It is to that end that the Republicans yesterday sought to feign outrage over Nancy Pelosi's comments in a pathetic attempt to duck responsibility for whatever happens next.

Make no mistake, the Republicans voted down this bill and they are now going to make an awful lot of noise in an attempt to disguise that brutal fact.

Neither Bush nor McCain could persuade them to put country before self. The Democrats delivered, under threat of dire financial consequences, 66% of their caucus to vote for a bill which appals all of us, but which we were told was a necessity to avoid financial meltdown.

I would be delighted if the threats turn out to be overstated, but - lacking the financial knowledge to know whether or not that is true - I would choose not to take the risk, deeming it, in the same way as we call for action on global warming, better to find out that I was wrong further down the road than to wait for the disaster to hit us before I had got myself up to speed.

The Republicans made the opposite call. And, having been too cowardly to vote for an unpopular bill which we were told was needed, they are now going to try and push the blame for that towards the Democrats. They must not be allowed to do that.


Even David Brooks gets it:

House Republicans led the way and will get most of the blame. It has been interesting to watch them on their single-minded mission to destroy the Republican Party. Not long ago, they led an anti-immigration crusade that drove away Hispanic support. Then, too, they listened to the loudest and angriest voices in their party, oblivious to the complicated anxieties that lurk in most American minds.

Now they have once again confused talk radio with reality. If this economy slides, they will go down in history as the Smoot-Hawleys of the 21st century. With this vote, they’ve taken responsibility for this economy, and they will be held accountable. The short-term blows will fall on John McCain, the long-term stress on the existence of the G.O.P. as we know it.


Taking partisanship to new levels, McCain says it's not the time to attach blame; but that he blames Obama.


Click title for full article.

Monday, September 29, 2008


I'll say more about this in the morning. For now, I'll just pass it on.

The House on Monday defeated a $700 billion emergency rescue package, ignoring urgent pleas from President Bush and bipartisan congressional leaders to quickly bail out the staggering financial industry.

Stocks plummeted on Wall Street even before the 228-205 vote to reject the bill was announced on the House floor.

When the critical vote was tallied, too few members of the House were willing to support the unpopular measure with elections just five weeks away. Ample no votes came from both the Democratic and Republican sides of the aisle.

Bush and a host of leading congressional figures had implored the lawmakers to pass the legislation despite howls of protest from their constituents back home.
I didn't see that coming.

Hat tip to Huffington Post.

Olmert Says Israel Should Pull Out of West Bank.

Well, well, well, as he steps out of office Olmert has said things that he has never said before, indeed, he went further than any Israeli Prime Minster has ever gone in the past.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in an interview published on Monday that Israel must withdraw from nearly all the West Bank as well as East Jerusalem to attain peace with the Palestinians and that any occupied land it held onto would have to be exchanged for the same quantity of Israeli territory.

He also dismissed as “megalomania” any thought that Israel would or should attack Iran on its own to stop it from developing nuclear weapons, saying the international community and not Israel alone was charged with handling the issue.

In an unusually frank and soul-searching interview granted after he resigned to fight corruption charges — he remains interim prime minister until a new government is sworn in — Mr. Olmert discarded longstanding Israeli defense doctrine and called for radical new thinking in words that are sure to stir controversy as his expected successor, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, tries to build a coalition.

“What I am saying to you now has not been said by any Israeli leader before me,” Mr. Olmert told Yediot Aharonot newspaper in the interview to mark the Jewish new year that runs from Monday night till Wednesday night. “The time has come to say these things.”
It actually pains me to think that this guy was elected to do that very thing and his idiotic decision to invade Lebanon after the kidnap of Israeli soldiers, and his country's consequent defeat in that war, left him politically unable to pursue the very thing he was elected to do.

And I put some of the blame for that at the door of Bush and Cheney who encouraged him every inch of the way in a war against Hizbullah that they were always destined to lose.

I have lamented many times that Olmert didn't simply engage in a prisoner swap, which we all thought he would be forced to do in the end anyway, but rather than go down that route Olmert decided on a war which killed thousands and failed in it's objective.

But now, at the end of his career, he is rejecting the right wing nonsense which he embraced for most of it.

He said traditional Israeli defense strategists had learned nothing from past experiences and seemed stuck in the considerations of the 1948 Independence War.

“With them, it is all about tanks and land and controlling territories and controlled territories and this hilltop and that hilltop,” he said. “All these things are worthless.”

He added, “Who thinks seriously that if we sit on another hilltop, on another hundred meters, that this is what will make the difference for the State of Israel’s basic security?”

Over the last year, Mr. Olmert has publicly castigated himself for his earlier right-wing views and he did so again in this interview. On Jerusalem, for example, he said, “I am the first who wanted to enforce Israeli sovereignty on the entire city. I admit it. I am not trying to justify retroactively what I did for 35 years. For a large portion of these years, I was unwilling to look at reality in all its depth.”

“A decision has to be made,” he said. “This decision is difficult, terrible, a decision that contradicts our natural instincts, our innermost desires, our collective memories, the prayers of the Jewish people for 2,000 years.”
And then he turned to the Palestinian crisis and spoke more sense than he has ever previously spoken.
“We face the need to decide but are not willing to tell ourselves, yes, this is what we have to do. We have to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, the meaning of which is that in practice we will withdraw from almost all the territories, if not all the territories. We will leave a percentage of these territories in our hands, but will have to give the Palestinians a similar percentage, because without that there will be no peace.”

Elsewhere in the interview, when discussing a land swap with the Palestinians, he said the exchange would have to be “more or less one to one.”

I'm enough of a cynic to find it highly suspicious that he says all this at the very moment that he is walking out the door. If only I hadn't been charged with corruption you might all be living in peace appears to be the subtext, but it is nevertheless important that he has said.

Should Tzipi Livni take over and Barack Obama assume the American presidency, there is every chance that great progress could be made towards solving this intractable problem.

The solution, as many of us on the left have always said, lies in following UN Res 242. Now, at last and too late, even Olmert has said it.

But, we should be thankful that he has.


There is a very interesting interview with Robert Fisk over at TruthDig. Unfortunately, he doesn't agree with me that the election of Obama will make any difference. Click on the links to watch.

Part 1.

Part 2.

His best quote is: "The Middle East is not a complex place. What people want is justice. If we dealt with justice in the Middle East, instead of trying to flog them our human rights packages, al Qaeda would cease to exist."

Click title for full article.

Damned with faint praise...

From the fawning title, "The Mac is Back" one knows that Roger Simon was trying to be helpful, pointing out that in his opinion, McCain won the debate. However, as he was heaping on the compliments he also cited this as a reason for why we should all agree that McCain did well:

Sure, McCain is a pretty old guy for a presidential candidate, but he showed the old guy did not mind mixing it up. He stood behind a lectern for 90 minutes without a break — you try that when you are 72 — and he not only gave as good as he got, he seemed to relish it more.
That seems to me to be a very good reason as to why he shouldn't be the next president. We've now to applaud the fact that he can stand for ninety minutes? Has the bar ever been set so low?

As I say, I think Simon is trying to be helpful, but with friends like that....

Click title for full article.

Head of Skate.

This things gone viral.

Obama Is Right: McCain Was Wrong

I've put up a video of Obama's "You were wrong" moment before, but the Huffington Post have brought out a new video which proves just how correct Obama was by showing the very clips of McCain making his inane predictions at the time of the conflict.

It strikes me as insane that McCain can be campaigning on a war in which almost every prediction he ever made turned out to be 100% wrong.

The only thing he can point to is the surge. However, the surge is now over and McCain has no answer for, "Now what?"

Why McCain needs to keep pulling out rabbits.

Daniel Finkelstein over at the London Times has made an astute observation based on this chart from Real Clear Politics.

As you can clearly see, despite the fact that the press continually refer to this contest as neck and neck, it has actually been nothing of the sort and Obama has consistently been in the lead throughout with the odd blip in which McCain goes ahead.

The only time McCain ever goes ahead is when he produces shocks, like the announcement of Palin. The bounce he gets from these shocks is usually short lived, but he's hoping if he can time it right, that one of these shocks might just take him over the finish line.

His strategy therefore will not be the long grind of building a message and winning trust. It will be to pull rabbits out of hats. He has to keep turning the race to keep himself in it.

And then hope he has kept one bit of reckless surprise back big enough to win, to be timed right for the end of the race.

His actions yesterday fit entirely with that.

I have to say, though, that looking at the long term polling trend, you have to conclude that McCain is a long shot.

If it wouldn't anger his base so much as I'd say he could fire Palin in the last week of the election. However, sadly, McCain is now actually holding on to her coat tails rather than the other way around.

But what's clear is that the Maverick is going to keep throwing hissy fits and making reckless gambles because, as the chart clearly shows, that's his only way of hoping to pull this off.

And, as he can't fire Palin, what are the odds that the shotgun wedding of the century will take place before election day?
“It would be fantastic,” said a McCain insider. “You would have every TV camera there. The entire country would be watching. It would shut down the race for a week.”
Rule nothing out. These buggers have already shown that they will do or say anything to win.

Click title for full article.

Candidates vie for credit over bail-out.

As news begins to trickle out about a possible $700 billion deal to rescue Wall Street it is inevitable that both candidates in the election are going to try and put their spin on things.


"It is an outrage - an outrage - that we are now being forced to clean up their mess. But we have no choice," Obama told a rally in Detroit. "This administration started off by asking for a blank cheque to solve this problem. I said absolutely not. That's why I laid out a few a conditions for Washington when this began."

Earlier, the Democrat told CBS television he had daily phone conversations with Hank Paulson, the treasury secretary, as well as congressional leaders. Obama also took credit for proposals by fellow Democrats that added protection for families in danger of losing their homes and limited pay packages for Wall Street executives to the plan.

"None of those were in the president's provisions. They are identical to the things I called for," he told CBS. "That I think is an indication of the degree to which when it comes to protecting taxpayers, I was pushing very hard and involved in shaping those provisions." He went on to attack McCain, who suspended his campaign last week ostensibly to help steer through a bail-out deal. Asked whether the Republican had been helpful, Obama replied: "No".

Now we all know that McCain made a great deal out of suspending his campaign to fly off to Washington and that, whilst there, he sat silent for forty minutes and then introduced a plan which effectively wrecked the negotiation process. You won't be surprised to hear that this is not how John's camp are spinning it.

After last week's drama , which saw the deal unravelling with McCain's arrival in Washington on Thursday, the Republican has been on the defensive against charges that he tried to exploit the crisis for political gain. He has also been trying to distance himself from his record in the Senate as a supporter of deregulation of the financial industry.

His camp pushed back hard against those charges yesterday, with Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, telling Fox TV that McCain had been crucial in engaging House Republicans on the bail-out. "I think it was decisive in regards to the house getting involved," said Graham.

However, even McCain - who has so far proven that he is not above telling straight out porkies - couldn't go as far as Graham in distorting what actually occurred.
McCain, in his TV interview, did not claim credit for the deal. But he denied charges that he was a spoiler, telling ABC television: "It wasn't because of me that the Republicans in the House of Representatives got into the negotiating and bargaining. They did it themselves."
He did however make one hysterical charge:
In a speech delivered by satellite to a hunters' convention in Ohio, he also turned the tables on the Democrats, accusing Obama of trying to use the credit crisis for political gain.
Isn't that wonderful? The man who dramatically suspended his campaign to rush off to Washington, whilst threatening to postpone the presidential debate in an attempt to stop the rot that this whole crisis had visited upon his campaign, is accusing Obama of using McCain's proven incompetence on this issue to his advantage.

How dare Obama do this during an election? Why can't he pretend that he is as incompetent as McCain is when it comes to economics?

McCain's anger is however totally understandable. Two weeks ago he was enjoying a small lead in the polls brought about by the Palin bounce. However, the past fortnight has been a daily disaster with McCain scrambling to appear on top of an ever changing economic landscape that he blatantly didn't understand. He tried grandstanding but everything he attempted only made his own situation worse.

He has now revealed himself as a reckless gambler, as a guy who will literally do anything for short term gain. It's a trait we witnessed with the hiring of Palin and that we saw repeated with the suspension of his campaign.

He's obsessed with gimmicks, with being seen to be doing something, anything.

The $700 billion bailout deal might take the economic card off the table for a while, which would suit McCain enormously. When people said that economics weren't his thing I think few of us were prepared for just how true that was to prove.

The overwhelming image left after the last fortnight is of a calm Obama - some have argued too calm - reacting in a measured way to an escalating crisis whilst John McCain ran around with his head on fire shouting, "Turkey-Lurkey the sky is falling, the sky is falling".

Lindsey Graham and Steve Schmidt and others can spin this as much as they like, but we all know what we saw.

Click title for full article.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sarah Palin contradicts McCain’s Pakistan position while ordering some cheese steaks.

It's easy to tell when McCain is lying. It's usually when his lips are moving.

Here he is confronted over comments he made to Obama:

During Friday’s debate, Obama criticized the Bush administration for sending billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan without ridding the border region of terrorists.

McCain fired back hard, arguing that newly elected Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari has had his “hands full” and suggesting that Obama’s tough talk was na├»ve.

“You don’t say that out loud,” McCain said. “If you have to do things, you have to do things, and you work with the Pakistani government.”

He is then shown a video of Palin making the exact same claim that the US should enter Pakistan from Afghanistan if necessary.

McCain then claims that Palin shares his view and then pretends that she has been caught out by a young man in a bar and that this does not represent her true position.

The only problem with this argument is that Palin gave the exact same answer during her first TV interview with Charlie Gibson:
Gibson then asks her if the US have the right to cross the Afghanistan border into Pakistan to pursue terrorists without the permission of the Pakistan government. It's about as obvious a trap as he could possibly lay for anyone who has paid a moment's notice to this election. Does she agree with McCain or Obama? She put forward what Gibson described as "a blizzard of words" in an attempt to avoid answering, but eventually concluded that America has to do "whatever it takes", which put her on the side of Obama rather than McCain.
McCain must know this because it is unthinkable that he didn't watch her first ever TV interview. What's astonishing is that she is still publicly stating this, either because she hasn't been told by the McCain team to stop saying it, or she is too stupid to remember what the McCain position is.

And it's interesting to hear McCain now pretend that his objection is about Obama saying out loud what he would do regarding bin Laden. Apparently, it's simply naive to let an enemy know what you would do in advance.

Times Online, January 26, 2006:
[McCain] would make clear to the American people that military action against Iran is an option. Bombing? He nods. . . . .. Military action must always be the last option, but he warns: "There is only one scenario worse than military action in Iran and that is a nuclear-armed Iran."
Jackson Diehl, The Washington Post, January 29, 2006:
The debate on Iran is drifting toward the ugly question that the Bush administration would most like to avoid. That is: Is it preferable for the United States to live with the consequences of a nuclear-armed Iran, or with those of a unilateral American military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities?

President Bush has never answered that question; instead, he and his State Department have repeatedly called an Iranian bomb "intolerable" while building a diplomatic coalition that won't tolerate a military solution. But two of our more principled senators, Republican John McCain and Democrat Joe Lieberman, have this month faced the Iranian Choice -- and both endorsed military action. McCain was most direct: "There is only one thing worse than the United States exercising a military option," he said on "Face the Nation." "That is a nuclear-armed Iran."

So, it's okay to threaten other Muslim nations with attack, just don't do it to the one which actually houses bin Laden. Because that's being naive.

Hat tip to Crooks and Liars.

McCain's ever changing logic.

We are told that McCain is in Washington today, but that he won't be heading for Capitol Hill and will be working out of his campaign HQ as the final touches are being put to the $700 billion bailout plan. Why?

"Because he can effectively do what he needs to do by phone."
Then why did he have to suspend his campaign last week, threaten to delay the debate, and rush to Washington if he could have done what needs to be done by telephone?

You couldn't make this shit up.

Click title for source.

Obama's new ad about the debates.

Again, the difference between the two campaigns could not be drawn more starkly than by the ads they have both brought out since the debate. Obama here sticks to the issues and points out an essential truth; McCain made no mention of the middle class at any point during the debate.

McCain produced an ad after the debate which was actually insulting to anyone with enough intellect to operate a TV remote.

Obama on the debate.

McCain is campaigning on change whilst telling us that change is dangerous.

What was, for me, astonishing about McCain's performance last night was that he was essentially making the arguments of George W. Bush. He may have decided to campaign on change, but he showed last night that he doesn't have a single new idea or a single substantive policy difference from Bush.

The notion that a 72 year old man could be an agent of change was always going to be a hard sell, but McCain didn't even attempt to sell it. You can call yourself a "Maverick", as McCain is want to do, and you can talk about "bringing change to Washington", but at some point the candidate has to spell out what those changes are going to be.

From the debate, the only thing that I could detect which McCain wants to end are earmarks, a portion of the US budget which is so small ($18 billion) as to be laughable when compared to the tax cuts which McCain would like to give to the US's richest citizens and corporations ($300 billion).

Now, leaving aside the fact that McCain has been part of the Republican administration which presided over the past eight years of fiscal mismanagement - and the fact that he voted for 90% of the Bush policies which resulted in America's largest ever deficit - it was really striking that the only thing which appeared to rile McCain was this puny part of what has been wrong over the past two Republican terms.

When the debate turned to foreign affairs McCain, not only failed to offer any substantive change, but he was utterly patronising towards the very notion that the US should change how it relates to the rest of the world at all. McCain berated Obama's ideas of changing how the US should relate to country's like Iran and North Korea by defining them as "not only naive but dangerous".

McCain is actually arguing that change would be a bad thing. McCain thinks that the US must continue a policy which has manifestly failed because it would be "dangerous" not to. He is seriously putting forward the notion that you can do the same thing, with the same people, in the same way, and hope to get a different result. It's almost the textbook definition of madness.

So, McCain's "change" is a change that would effect Washington by reducing pork barrel spending, but McCain made clear that his change agenda ends there.

And he also makes clear that any change beyond that would be , "not only naive but dangerous."

McCain's campaign has been a dreadful one with no unifying theme. He began by hoping that he could run on "experience" but quickly abandoned that when it failed to have any real resonance. He then decided to kill it stone dead by appointing Palin as his VP and running on Obama's theme of change.

However, during last night's debate he managed to define change, the very thing he is supposed to be running on, as dangerous. His campaign is now rudderless. God knows what he's for now.

Letterman slams McCain for second night

Letterman has now discovered that, far from racing off to Washington, McCain actually delayed leaving until the next morning. His description of how this has left him feeling - like an ugly date - is very funny.

Obama opens a six point lead.

Obama's lead in the polls is now solidifying with the Rasmussen Tracker taking him to +6, and the Gallup Tracker placing him at +5.

Both of these results were taken pre-debate and obviously people can be influenced by the subsequent media reaction, but with most media outlets agreeing that Obama had, at the very least, held his own on McCain's strongest debating area, then it is unlikely that McCain will have made much of a dent in those figures.

The Palin factor now appears to have died a slow death with many regarding her as a liability to McCain's ticket rather than a strength.

There's still a lot that can happen between now and election day but, for the first time since this whole process began, the polls are starting to look the way that many of us have thought they should look for a very long time.

Obama had great success during the debate in tying John McCain to the policies of the Bush administration by pointing out that McCain had voted with Bush 90% of the time which made him an unlikely agent of change.

McCain's campaign remains an odd mixture, a rag tag collection of random thoughts with no theme to tie the disparate elements together. One of the oddest moments in the presidential debate was when he sought to portray Obama as a continuation of the policies of George Bush, a thought which was so utterly preposterous that it produced a gasp of spontaneous laughter from Obama.

That laugh was, apart from Obama's "You were wrong" section, my favourite thing in the debate. It highlighted just how desperate McCain has become as he seeks to accuse others of sins which he himself is guilty of.

I worry as to where the McCain campaign will go next once they realise just how serious is the situation in which they now find themselves.

This is the least honourable election campaign that I have witnessed in my lifetime, with McCain's campaign being run by a group of people who appear willing to do or say anything to gain victory. Even normally sedate newspapers have been forced to use the "L" word to describe the orgy of untruths that the McCain camp have indulged in.

Once they realise that their campaign is headed south, there is literally no knowing just how low they are going to go.

So, Obama supporters can leave the first debate pleased at where we find ourselves, but we are going to have to fasten our seat belts, as the McCain camp are going to throw everything but the kitchen sink at Obama in the weeks to come.

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I have always argued that the McCain campaign is being run on the assumption that the American people are stupid, but this latest ad takes it even further and assumes that the American people must be moronic.

Here he takes a collection of moments during the debate where Obama showed a grace which McCain notably lacked and he thinks he can string them together into an ad to prove... what?

I mean, seriously, who is this ad for? Who would be dumb enough to watch this and think "Obama thinks McCain is right, so he must be right!"

It says an awful lot about what the McCain camp think of the intelligence of the average American voter that they could ever insult them by producing this nonsense.

Truly pathetic. And they wonder why they are behind in the polls?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Don't Blame Palin, Blame McCain.

More and more Repugs are waking up to reality.

Cue Rich Lowry:

I've been swamped with other stuff, but just for the record: I thought Palin was dreadful. She obviously didn't have the reaction to the Charlie Gibson interview that I had hoped. She had better be better prepared for next week or she risks damaging her political brand forevermore.
I strongly disagree. Palin has never had "a political brand" to damage. She was a regional politician who John McCain decided was ready to be second in command for the most powerful nation on Earth.

The only reputation that can be damaged here is McCain's.

It's foolish to even attempt to place the blame for this on Palin's head. She was chosen. The blame lies with the guy who made the choice.

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RIP Paul Newman.

The world is a little darker tonight. A great light has gone out.

Biden: McCain Lost and It'll Be Fatal.

Since being named as Obama's choice for the VP, Biden has been on fire every time I have found a clip of him. This is no exception. He simply takes McCain apart here.

And what a stark contrast Obama's choice for VP is to McCain's choice. Apparently, they decided that she couldn't be trusted to even speak tonight so they passed the baton to Giuliani.

Judgement. Biden proves that Obama has it in spades.

Early Polling Suggests That Obama Won the Debate.

I think it was tight; but the very fact that Obama held his own, on what was supposed to McCain's strongest subject, will have impressed people.

After all, McCain has been running ads for months now claiming that Obama is not ready to lead; indeed, he kept hinting at that very fact all night. But the truth is that anyone watching could see that Obama was completely on top of his brief when it came to foreign affairs.

McCain may very well have helped Obama with all his nonsensical "celebrity" adverts, because he perhaps lowered people's expectations of what Obama was capable of.

And it's interesting that, on the points where McCain was at his most forceful - like discussing Kissinger's statements regarding Iran - he was actually spouting nonsense.

The Debate: McCain and His Foreign Policy Blunders

Here we see McCain accusing Obama of not understanding a situation whilst showing that actually he is the one who doesn't understand what he is talking about.

Pakistan was not "a failed state" before Musharraf launched his coup as McCain claims here.

He did this with Kissinger as well, insisting with a patronising laugh that Obama didn't know what he was talking about. It turns out that Obama was right and McCain was wrong again.

A Breakthrough Night for Obama.

Madeleine Albright:

Tonight was a breakthrough for Senator Obama, who showed himself truly ready to be president. He responded knowledgeably, thoughtfully and confidently to the toughest questions on the economy, Iraq, and terror. Meanwhile, Senator McCain spent so much time attacking his opponent, he neglected to show how a McCain-Palin administration would differ from Bush-Cheney. As a result, Obama answered the threshold question about his candidacy; McCain did not.
Succinctly and beautifully put. Obama came across as presidential while McCain appeared distinctly grumpy and often resorted to throwing casual insults, as if he was in some way outraged that this young whipper-snapper could possibly be leading him in the polls.

He constantly tried to portray Obama as somehow naive and unready when Obama's grasp of detail was obvious for all to see.

And the fact that McCain couldn't bring himself to ever look at Obama spoke volumes.

Just when you thought, "it can't get any worse..."

She's breathtakingly bad. No constraint should ever be placed on Israel, "because we cannot ever afford to send the message that we would allow a second Holocaust for one."

It's no wonder that panic has now been set off amongst the McCain camp and Republicans in general.

Capitol Hill sources are telling me that senior McCain people are more than concerned about Palin.

The campaign has held a mock debate and a mock press conference; both are being described as "disastrous." One senior McCain aide was quoted as saying, "What are we going to do?" The McCain people want to move this first debate to some later, undetermined date, possibly never. People on the inside are saying the Alaska Governor is "clueless."
I've wondered before why the McCain camp appear to have decided it's preferable to suffer the constant complaints from the press - that Palin is being kept from them - rather than take the risk of allowing her to speak without constraint.

I guess that's the question answered then.

But what's interesting is the incredulity that some of her responses are now getting from respected journalists like Jack Cafferty:

Cafferty can't even hide his anger at the dangerous choice which McCain has made, and made for narrow partisan reasons.

Don't you love America, McCain?

I can imagine the way the wingnuts would behave were this situation to be reversed, but where is McCain's lapel pin?

Kissinger DID call for direct talks without conditions with Iran.

I'm sure the next few days are going to be taken up with stuff like this, refuting claims which McCain made during the debate, but a very good place to start is here.

Kissinger DID call for direct talks without conditions with Iran.

U.S.Secretary of State Henry Kissinger today told an audience in Washington, DC that the U.S. should negotiate with Iran "without conditions" and that the next President should begin such negotiations at a high level.

The former Nixon and Ford U.S. Secretary of State early in the year indicated his belief that the U.S.
should hold direct talks with Iran when speaking to Bloomberg Television.
So, McCain was not only misrepresenting Obama's position, he was actually misrepresenting Kissinger's at the same time.

I feel an Obama ad coming along.

Click title for full article.

Obama lands heavy blows but no knockout punch.

I thought McCain looked slightly nervous at the start of the debate and - from the fact that he never looked at Obama's eyes as they welcomed each other - for the first time, I thought that there might be some truth in the rumours that McCain does not actually like Obama. It was, for example, notable that throughout the debate Obama referred to McCain as "John" whilst McCain would only ever refer to Obama as "Senator Obama". Indeed, it was notable for most of the debate that Obama acted as if he was having a conversation whilst McCain rarely ever looked in Obama's direction.

McCain tried early on to make a great deal out of the fact that Obama requested $932 million in pork barrel spending, but Obama was able to counter this easily by pointing out the enormous amounts McCain would like to give to the rich in tax cuts, reminding everyone that pork barrel spending amounted to a mere $18 billion. In effect, he was saying that McCain is making a big deal about a little matter whilst handing $300 billion to the same people George Bush looked after.

I think he could have hit these points even harder though.

McCain, always a man who will veer towards the dramatic to unsettle his opponent, displayed the kind of recklessness which has come to define his presidential bid by proposing a spending freeze. Obama can't have seen this coming but was quick to counter by saying that this was "using a hatchet where one needs a scalpel". Obama then pointed out that there are education projects that are currently underfunded and also brought up the amount of money currently being spent on the Iraq war. McCain countered with money that the US gives to country's that hate the US which eventually ends up in the hands of terrorists.

I found that exchange particularly enlightening. Obama appeared rooted in reality whilst McCain appeared to be wallowing in Republican talking points. For example, he didn't name any of the country's which hate the US to which this money was being given, nor did he offer any proof of US government money ending up in the hands of terrorists. Nor did he explain why, as his party has been in power for the past eight years, that they have allowed this situation to develop as McCain claims they have done.

This, for me, is the central problem which McCain faces each time he hits these talking points. His party have been in power for the last eight years, so he shares responsibility for all of their actions and inaction's. McCain appears to want to run against his own record, which strains credibility to say the least.

As Obama pointed out, "It's been your president, who you said you agreed with 90% of the time, who supported this orgy of spending. You voted for almost all of his budgets. To stand here and say that after eight years you're going to lead on controlling spending and balancing our tax cuts for middle-class families," Obama said. "It's kind of hard to swallow."

McCain responded with that stupid smirk, which is becoming his trademark, and a claim that he has never been voted "Miss Congeniality". When you've voted with Bush over 90% of the time, I think you've certainly been congenial to both Bush and to his policies. I thought this was a clear goal to Obama.

McCain also called for the building of 45 new nuclear power stations, which simply left me open mouthed. Is that a vote winner? Does McCain seriously think that this will be a popular proposal?

When the conversation moved to foreign policy, which we were told was McCain's strongest suit, the debate noticeably livened up with Obama scoring some of his heaviest hits of the evening.

Obama accused McCain of wanting to pretend that the Iraq war began when the surge began and argued that the war should never have been fought in the first place.

Obama landed heavy punches when he stated, "The war started in 2003, and at the time when the war started, you said it was going to be quick and easy. You said we knew where the weapons of mass destruction were. You were wrong.

"You said that we were going to be greeted as liberators. You were wrong. You said that there was no history of violence between Shia and Sunni. And you were wrong."

It was a similar story when they discussed Pakistan. McCain attempted to say that Obama wanted to attack Pakistan, which was a lie that Obama easily blasted out of the water by reminding people that he wanted to go after bin Laden, not Pakistan.

Likewise, when McCain attacked Obama for voting against troop funding. Obama pointed out that both of them had voted against troop funding but that both of their votes reflected their positions on timetables rather than their belief on whether or not the troops should be funded.

At this point McCain started to look as if he was being deceitful and became noticeably patronising.

McCain tried to score points by showing off a bracelet which he wears which was given to him by the mother of a soldier who had fallen in battle. She asked that McCain make sure that he did not die in vain. Obama countered by pointing out that he also wore a bracelet given to him by a mother of a fallen soldier who requested that no other mother went through what she was going through.

Obama also scored by pointing out that McCain had said that the US could "muddle through" in Afghanistan at which point McCain's patronisation went up a couple of notches with him claiming that Obama "did not seem to understand" the issues they were debating.

McCain then ridiculously started talking about Iran and "another holocaust" regarding Israel when asked about how to deal with Iran.

Obama countered by pointing out that the Iraq war, which McCain supported, had done more to strengthen Iran than any other factor. Obama also pointed out that not talking to other nations has not resulted in success in the US's dealings with Iran or in North Korea; that Ahmadinejad was not actually the leader of Iran and that Kissinger, a McCain advisor, was also calling for negotiations with Iran, as was the Bush regime. McCain attempted to make false distinctions at this point about presidential meetings etc, but I thought he came across as overbearing and deceitful in the way he constantly set out to misrepresent Obama's position.

McCain's talking points were exposed as the empty rhetoric that they are. McCain then set out to portray Obama's viewpoint as, "not only naive but dangerous" but by this point he was flogging a dead horse as he was actually wrongly framing Obama's argument, and actually arguing for the Bush administration's policy of never engaging with other country's until they agreed to give you what you want in advance. This policy has been a resounding failure over the past eight years which makes McCain's wish to continue it appear obtuse.

I was slightly disappointed that Obama allowed McCain to get away with the lie that Russia invaded Georgia and that Russia were the aggressors here as even Colin Powell has recently refuted that lie.

The debate closed with Obama talking of restoring America's reputation in the world and McCain telling us that he was once a POW.

All in all the debate appeared to me to lean towards Obama in as much as he was able to defuse all of McCain's attacks on what McCain appears to think of as his strongest suit; foreign policy. Obama landed much stronger punches than McCain landed although, admittedly, there was no knockout punch. But, having listened to both of them, it is inarguable that McCain is offering more of Bush's policies and that, despite all his talk of change, there is no meaningful change on the McCain table.


The Obama campaign have released some facts to refute some of McCain's claims:

McCain: “Senator Obama said the surge could not work, said it would increase sectarian violence, said it was doomed to failure. Recently on a television program he said it exceeded our wildest expectations, but yet after conceding that, he still says that he would oppose the surge if he had to decide that again today.”


Obama Said That With A Surge, “We Might See Some Improvement In Certain Neighborhoods” But That It Won’t Change The Underlying Dynamic. Obama said, “I don’t think there’s been any doubt that if we put U.S. troops in that, in the short term, we might see some improvement in certain neighborhoods because the militias are going to fade back into the community. That’s one of the characteristics of what we’ve seen. The problem is that we don’t see any change in the underlying dynamic which is Shia militias infiltrating the government, Sunni insurgents continuing the fight, that’s the essence of the problem and unless we say that we’re going to occupy Iraq indefinitely, we’re gonna continue to see problems.” [WQAD, 3/11/07]

Obama Said the Purpose of the Surge Was to Allow Iraqi Leaders to Reconcile, But they Were Not Reconciling. Obama” “The stated purpose of the surge was to enable Iraq’s leaders to reconcile. But as the recent report from the Government Accountability Office confirms, the Iraqis are not reconciling. Our troops fight and die in the 120 degree heat to give Iraq’s leaders space to agree, but they aren’t filling it. … This only underscores the point - the solution in Iraq is political, it is not military. Violence is contained in some parts of Baghdad. That’s no surprise. Our troops have cleared these neighborhoods at great costs. But our troops cannot police Baghdad indefinitely - only Iraqis can.” [Obama Speech, 9/12/07]


McCain Supported The Administration’s Military Strategy For Iraq, Saying Only 100,000 Troops Would Be Needed. Tim Russert: “Today, the front page of The Washington Post, ‘War Plans Target Hussein Power Base. Scenarios feature a smaller force, narrower strikes,’ calling for 100,000 rather than the 500,000 we used in the Persian Gulf War, and not taking out power dams and electric grids, but focusing on Saddam and his Republican Guards. Is that what you see?” McCain responded, “Yes…And I believe that this strategy is based on one fundamental fact: Saddam Hussein is dramatically weaker than he was before. And what Iraq-in 1991-what Iraqi soldier is going to die for Saddam Hussein if he thinks he’s on his way out? And so from everything I can tell, that seems to be a very good strategy, and I think we’re going to take great advantage to the precision of our weapons that can be delivered from the air.” [NBC, Meet the Press, 9/22/02]