Friday, October 31, 2008

Kristol on The Daily Show.

This is slightly creepy. Kristol seems to have accepted that McCain will lose on Tuesday, but it's disturbing to watch him appear to say that he knows that Obama is not a Socialist but that during elections it's okay to lie.

And Stewart is on good form pointing out just how often Kristol gets it wrong. "You can't look at past performance as a predictor, otherwise you wouldn't be, obviously, still a pundit."

My favourite moment is when Kristol comes out with the cliched, "You are reading The New York Times too much, Jon." Stewart scores a beautiful goal by reminding Kristol, "You work for The New York Times, Bill."

Stewart sums up the entire campaign in one sentence, "McCain and Palin are running on a platform of theoretical damage that could be done to the country. Obama is running on a platform of actual things that have already been f@cked up!"

That's why he's Jon Stewart and I'm just writing a blog. He got in one sentence what I've spent eighteen months trying to write about. He's good.

Can You Get Nine Votes?

One of the things that most impressed me about Obama during his epic battle with Hillary was his ability to organise. All those years as a community organiser clearly taught him something.

This video shows the formidable organisational skills, at a local level, that are going into this campaign. A young organiser informs us:

"118,601. That's a number you should know. That's the number of votes John Kerry lost Ohio by. That breaks down to 9 votes per precinct. Nine votes in your neighborhood."

"So can you get nine votes?"

I have the feeling that's not going to be allowed to happen a second time.

De Menezes 'was killed without warning'

Witnesses who were on the tube train on which Jean Charles De Menezes was shot have contradicted police claims that they verbally issued the warning "armed police" before firing.

Both of the policemen who shot De Menezes have claimed in court that they shouted this before they fired, but the witnesses who watched as De Menezes was killed say that the police issued no warning at all before they shot him. Their evidence seems to strengthen Michael Mansfield's claim that the police have "embellished", "exaggerated" and "lied" in their telling of what took place that fateful day.

Ralph Livock and his girlfriend Rachel Wilson were sitting opposite Mr de Menezes, 27, in the Tube carriage at Stockwell station in south London on 22 July, the inquest heard. Mr Livock recalled that the train was held up at the station, when four men, casually dressed and carrying guns, got on board and shot Mr de Menezes seven times in the head at point blank range. Asked by Nicholas Hilliard QC, counsel to the inquest, whether the men had said anything about being police officers before opening fire, Mr Livock said: "No, certainly not.

"And I remember that specifically because one of the conversations that Rachel and I had afterwards was that we had no idea whether these were police, whether they were terrorists, whether they were somebody else. We just had no idea."

When Mr Hilliard asked Ms Wilson, "Did you ever hear anybody shout 'armed police'?", she answered, "If I had heard that, I would have thought they were police, so no". Asked the same question later, she again insisted that no one had shouted "armed police" adding: "That's one of the things I recall the most – the silence."

The couple said they initially thought the officers were pranksters playing a game. Mr Livock said: "One of my initial thoughts was it was all a game and they were a group of lads who were just having a laugh – a very bad taste laugh, but just having a game on the Tube, because they were just dressed in jeans and T-shirts but with firearms. The thing that made me realise it wasn't a group of lads playing around or something else happening was when the first shot was fired." Ms Wilson added: "I thought they were messing around. Then I thought they were terrorists and it was only when I left the carriage and somebody moved me gently out of the way that I figured they must be good guys. Apart from that, I just didn't know who they were."

And then there is their description of De Menezes's actions:

Mr Livock described the moments just before Mr de Menezes was killed. "He looked as if he was expecting somebody to say something but he didn't look frightened," he said. "He looked as if he was waiting for somebody to tell him what was going on."

But no-one told him what was going on. Instead, they shot him through the head. Executed him on the spot.

The police have given many tales that De Menezes came towards them, that if he hadn't done so he would never have been shot, but that's not what comes from the evidence of the witnesses on the train.

"He looked like he was waiting for someone to tell him what was going on". "As if he was expecting somebody to say something." It sounds as if he simply couldn't have been any more passive.

Then there's the strange uniformity of the police statements:

Delta9 (firearms officer): "I could hear people shouting 'armed police'"

Ken (surveillance officer): "I heard 'armed police' shouted loudly"

Ivor (surveillance officer): "I could hear shouting"

Geoff (surveillance officer): "I then heard shouting from the direction of the open doors which included the word 'police'"

C5 (firearms officer): "I heard shouts of 'armed police'"

C12 (one of the two firearms officers who shot Mr de Menezes): "I did challenge 'armed police'"

C2 (the other firearms officer who shot Mr de Menezes): "I shouted 'armed police' and I held my handgun to the head of the subject and I fired"

Somebody, somewhere, is not telling the truth.

Click title for full article.

McCain's Disgrace.

It's astonishing to see just how many scholars and political pundits are describing this as the dirtiest campaign of all time. In this video John Judis of The New Republic concedes that, in his argument with Josh Marshall, he was wrong to say that the worst campaign was Bush and Dukakis, and that McCain has actually gone further than Bush ever dared.

The latest McCain smear concerns the relationship between Rashid Khalidi, a Middle East expert, and Obama, which McCain is citing as further proof that Obama would be anti-Israeli if elected.

McCain makes these ludicrous claims despite the fact that John McCain served as chairman of the International Republican Institute during the 1990s which provided grants worth $500,000 to the Center for Palestine Research and Studies which Khalidi co-founded, so McCain is on very thin ice here, but it's simply another indication of just how desperate and immoral the McCain campaign has become.

Palin, as always takes it further, lacking the knowledge to know just how offensive she is being. Here she talks of a dinner Obama attended in Khalidi's honour. The Los Angeles Times have a video of this dinner which the wingnuts have demanded must be released so that it can be examined for any traces of anti-Semitism:

"Among other things, Israel was described there as the perpetrator of terrorism rather than the victim," Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin said at a rally in Ohio. "What we don't know is how Barack Obama responded to these slurs on a country that he professes to support."

And McCain told a radio station, "If there was a tape of John McCain in a neo-Nazi outfit, I think the treatment of the issue would be slightly different."
This is such manufactured nonsense that it quite makes your head spin. They are demanding the release of a tape so that they can check "how Obama responded" to anti-Israeli remarks and McCain makes the comparison that Obama's response - which the McCain team haven't by their own admission seen - might be akin to McCain "in a neo-Nazi outfit".

Josh Marshall's outrage is more eloquent than mine could ever be:
The McCain campaign has been throwing around so much mud and smears in recent weeks that it's easy to miss just how ugly and shameful their character assassination of Rashid Khalidi is. This is an entirely respectable, highly respected scholar. To go further into making a case for him would only be to enable and indulge McCain's sordid appeal to racism. For McCain, personally, to compare Khalidi to a neo-nazi, it's just an offense McCain should never be forgiven for. It's right down in the gutter with Joe McCarthy and the worst of the worst. Khalidi is in this new McCain set piece for one reason -- as a generic Arab, to spur the idea that Obama is foreign, friendly with terrorists and possibly Muslim.
The fact that McCain is trailing in the polls disguises to some extent the disgraceful mud slinging and character assassination which he has been indulging in. But this is a new low. As was clear in this video Khalidi is being used to imply that Obama has a long list of anti-Semitic friends, despite the fact that Khalidi is not anti-Semitic.

This is simply shameful and, as Josh Marshall says, it is something which McCain should never be forgiven for.


It really says something about how far over the line McCain has gone when The Washington Post feel the need to condemn him publicly.
To suggest, as Mr. McCain has, that there is something reprehensible about associating with Mr. Khalidi is itself condemnable -- especially during a campaign in which Arab ancestry has been the subject of insults. To further argue that the Times, which obtained the tape from a source in exchange for a promise not to publicly release it, is trying to hide something is simply ludicrous, as Mr. McCain surely knows.

Which reminds us: We did ask Mr. Khalidi whether he wanted to respond to the campaign charges against him. He answered, via e-mail, that "I will stick to my policy of letting this idiot wind blow over." That's good advice for anyone still listening to the McCain campaign's increasingly reckless ad hominem attacks. Sadly, that wind is likely to keep blowing for four more days.

This is another part of this story which I find reprehensible. McCain knows that the LA Times cannot release the tapes, so he seeks to imply that someone has something to hide. It really is the worst gutter politics. Seeking to tar your opponent through baseless name calling and creepy insinuation.


Taylor Marsh has a good take on this.
Let's start with Juan Cole's "McCain Racism, Hypocrisy on Khalidi Issue." He gives an explanation that is continually ignored no matter how many people point it out.
The rightwing American way of speaking about these issues is bizarre from a Middle Eastern point of view. Lots of real living Israelis have close ties to actually existing Palestinians. There are 12 Palestinian members of the Israeli Knesset, and they have helped keep the Kadima government in power. Here is PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas with current Israeli Prime Minister Tzipi Livni; Livni has repeatedly negotiated with the PLO as foreign minister of Israel. McCain's entire line of attack assumes that Palestinian equals "bad" and ignores Israel's and the Bush administration's support for the PLO against Hamas.
This line of attack is even too much for Lou Dobbs for God's sake.

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McCain Spokesman Can't Name Obama's "Anti-Semitic" Pals.

This particular McCain spokesman could be the poster child for the way that this campaign has been run.It's a campaign of insinuation and innuendo, with no facts to back up their more lurid claims.

This guy's silence and his repeated, "You know who I mean" really perfectly captures the tone that has permeated the McCain camp for weeks now. Imply that Obama is "dodgy", "un-American", "not like the rest of us" and hope that the viewer will fill in the blanks with whatever prejudice they happen to hold.

This campaign has been spectacularly cynical.


Sullivan is not impressed:

Michael Goldfarb, McCain spokesman, accuses Barack Obama of hanging around with anti-Semites – plural – on CNN. Asked to name one other anti-Semite other than his allegation about Rashid Khalidi, he can’t. He won’t. But he leaves it hanging, refusing to disown or retract the charge. This is pure McCarthyism. And it is the rotten core of McCain.
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Growing Doubts on Palin Take a Toll, Poll Finds.

As McCain tours a town, aptly named Defiance, and Rick Davis spends all his time telling anyone who will listen that the comeback is happening:

"We're still fighting; we're still behind; we still think we've got plenty of time to close the gap enough to make this election competitive and win it."
Another poll recently released says that one of the main reasons for McCain's woes was his disastrous choice for VP.

A growing number of voters have concluded that Senator John McCain’s running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, is not qualified to be vice president, weighing down the Republican ticket in the last days of the campaign, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

All told, 59 percent of voters surveyed said Ms. Palin was not prepared for the job, up nine percentage points since the beginning of the month. Nearly a third of voters polled said the vice-presidential selection would be a major factor influencing their vote for president, and those voters broadly favor Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee.

I think McCain and the Republicans will look back and shudder at the choice which McCain made, although to be fair to him, it is reported that he actually wanted Joe Lieberman, which would have enabled him to claim that he was crossing the aisle and that his ticket was less partisan than Obama's.

The problem for McCain, and the Republicans in general, is the extent to which their party has become hostage to the religious right, who utterly rejected any talk of Lieberman - who favours abortion - and instead have rallied around a candidate who shares their views on a narrow range of issues whilst appearing almost utterly ignorant on a huge range of other issues which many people might feel are actually highly significant.

Faced with a loss that can be directly attributed to Palin's presence on the ticket, the Republicans really will need to reconsider their reliance on the Christian right.

The choice of Palin was made entirely with them in mind; although, in fairness, had McCain been younger his VP choice might not have assumed the importance that Palin's has done with the public.

But, when the obituaries of this election are written, Palin's name will be pretty near the top of any list which discusses the reasons for a Republican loss. But she will not be the only reason. A negative campaign which told lies to a shocking degree and a lack of any substantive theme for the campaign should also be among the reasons discussed.

It's some indication of how rudderless McCain's campaign has been that he has spent the past few weeks clinging to Joe the Plumber, a man who isn't called Joe and who isn't a plumber.

Joe has become indicative of just how desperate the McCain camp are and just how lacking the entire campaign has been in a overarching storyline which Americans could relate to.

Joe was seized upon with the same desperation which caused the campaign to grab at Palin and, like Palin, Joe was elevated to his position of Everyman without any proper vetting of his claims ever having been made.

That's why McCain now finds himself holding Joe aloft as an example of all that is good in the working class whilst the rest of us simply see a guy who made false claims about wanting to buy a plumbing business (that he couldn't afford) in order to make a cheap point in front of Obama.

But neither Joe nor Palin are actually to blame for being plucked from obscurity and suddenly thrust into the national spotlight, despite how they have both appeared to enjoy it.

The blame for this, in both cases, is the erratic way John McCain operates. From his 2002 book:
“I make them (decisions) as quickly as I can, quicker than the other fellow, if I can,” ...furthermore... “Often my haste is a mistake, but I live with the consequences without complaint.”
In both of these cases McCain's haste has been a mistake. I dread to think what kind of president he would have made. Reckless, rolling the dice just to see what would happen, gambling all on a gut feeling. It really doesn't bear thinking about.

Click title for full article.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

82 year old gold dust...

Every so often you come across a blog that makes you sit up and pay attention. Like this one:

My name is Helen Philpot. I am 82 years old. My grandson taught me how to do this so that I could “blog” with my best friend Margaret Schmechtman who I met in college almost 60 years ago. I have three children with my husband Harold. Margaret has three dogs with her husband Howard. I live in Texas and Margaret lives in Maine.
Well, Helen got herself into the trouble the other day because she called Sarah Palin a bitch and people started telling her that she should show more respect and avoid calling "John McCain an ass or even George Bush a jackass". Well, Helen thought about that and came back with her reply:

I will stop calling George Bush a jackass when he stops calling me a terrorist: Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.

I will stop calling John McCain an ass when he stops calling Barack Obama a socialist at every dog and pony show on the Straight Talk Express tour.

I will stop calling Sarah Palin a bitch when she stops calling Obama a terrorist sympathizer. And I will stop calling Sarah Palin a bitch when she stops calling the parts of the country where I don’t live more Pro-American than the part of the country where I do live. And I will definitely stop calling Sarah Palin a bitch when she stops acting like a bitch.

Isn't that worth it's weight in gold? Put Margaret and Helen in your bookmarks immediately.

Click title for full article.

McCain Now Running Robocalls Attacking Obama In Home State Of Arizona.

One of the most amazing things as we approach the election has been the confidence which John McCain continues to exude. I personally put this down to the fact that he really believes that he is an underdog who does best when he's coming from behind, even if that optimism is not shared by the rest of his campaign team as evidenced by the civil war now breaking out in it's ranks.

However, even McCain must have never thought he'd see the day when he had to run robocalls in his own state of Arizona because Obama is sniffing on his tail there. Some polls have placed Obama within two points of McCain in Arizona. So it's time to roll out the slander machine:

I'm calling for John McCain and the RNC because Barack Obama is so dangerously inexperienced, his running mate Joe Biden just said, he invites a major international crisis that he will be unprepared to handle alone.

If Democrats win full control of government, they will want to give civil rights to terrorists and talk unconditionally to dictators and state sponsors of terror. Barack Obama and his Democratic allies lack the experience and judgment to lead America. This call was paid for by the Republican National Committee and authorized by McCain-Palin 2008.

"Give civil rights to terrorists" is an extraordinary phrase, but I presume he's referring to the fact that Obama would obey the Supreme Court ruling which ordered Bush to grant prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay habeas corpus and either try them in a civilian court or set them free. Is McCain telling us that he would not do this?

The court has ruled twice previously that Guantanamo inmates could go into civilian courts to challenge their continued detention. But each time, the Bush administration and Congress, then controlled by Republicans, changed the law to keep the detainees out of civilian courts.

Brushing aside arguments that the suspects were enemy combatants held at a time of war, the court said yesterday that the detainees had, "the constitutional privilege of habeas corpus", the right of detainees under the US constitution to have their cases heard by an independent judge or be freed. Justice Anthony Kennedy said: "The laws and constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times."

So, for all McCain speaks of change we, once again, find that he would not be in any substantive way different from the policies of Bush which the Supreme Court have already condemned.

So, like Bush, he would refuse to negotiate with any other nation until they agree in advance to everything the US wants, which was the successful strategy which brought us a nuclear North Korea and an Iran suspected to be on the brink of acquiring such weapons.

And now we find that Guantanamo Bay will be safe within a McCain administration as those "terrorists" won't be getting no civil rights no matter what the Supreme Court says. So another president who disobeys the law and governs as if his word is the law.

With those as his selling points I'm not remotely surprised that Obama is gaining on him even in Arizona.

Change? There's no change on offer here.

Click title for full article.

Obama with Jon Stewart.

He finished his media blitzkrieg with a visit to Jon Stewart.

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CNN: Palin Talks 2012, McCain Aide "Speechless"

A McCain aide is reported to be rendered "speechless" by Palin's statement that, if the Republicans don't win on Tuesday, she intends to run for the presidency in 2012. Leaving aside the fact that she is supposed to hit the party line that she isn't even thinking past next Tuesday, it says a lot about the monster that John McCain has created here. I think we should simply refer to him as Mary Shelley from here on in.

What's hysterical about this woman is the chasm between her confidence and her ability. It was what made her debate performance and her interviews such a source of comedic gold. She can sit in front of the nation and talk utter twaddle whilst winking away, immensely pleased with herself and utterly ignorant of the fact that her grasp of the facts is so tenuous as to be almost non-existent.

She has yet to realise that there will come a day of reckoning and, insanely pleased with her as the crowds attending the rallies have been, one day soon the Republicans will sit down to work out just what went wrong. On that day polls will be produced and fact sheets analysed, and Palin's effect on the Republican tickets chance of being elected will be exposed.

Senior Republicans are planning to meet at a rural retreat in Virginia within days of the election to discuss how to rebuild a party they expect to be badly beaten in the White House and congressional races.

News of the meeting emerged as a poll in Arizona indicated that John McCain could suffer the embarrassing loss of his home state. The poll put McCain on 46% and Barack Obama on 44%, indicating the Republicans are struggling to hold on in their traditional heartlands.
And Palin will inevitably be part of that discussion.

"It is about what direction the party takes, the proverbial struggle for the soul of the party," Norm Ornstein, an analyst at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, the home of the neo-conservatives, said today.

Personally I hope they identify Palin as the future of their party because it will finally lead them over the abyss. But I feel sure that saner minds than those who shout "terrorist" and "off with his head" at rallies will prevail.

They will realise that the pubic were more than willing to take Sarah Palin at face value as the early poll figures clearly showed. It was actually the more that they got to know her and listen to her quite clearly demonstrating her ignorance that the public decided that Palin was not ready to be president.

That she doesn't know that she's not ready is simply astounding. It takes a curious kind of confidence to think that you are ready to lead the free world at any time in your life, but when you don't even know what the Bush doctrine is or don't have the confidence to state which paper you read for fear of committing a gaffe, then deep down one would hope that some protectionist part of your self would step in and warn you of the dangers of what you were thinking of doing.

But she has no such gene. If she had it would have kicked in and warned her that Saturday Night Live was celebrating the fact that she had become a figure of ridicule, and it would have told her not to attend. But she sat there bopping away as her worst excesses were openly mocked. It's hysterical that McCain used to attack Obama as being a mere "celebrity", because he has unwittingly created an even greater one. That's why she sat there whilst being mocked. She simply couldn't believe that things had changed so much in her life that was asked on to such a show. A more serious politician would have entertained some doubts about the producers motives. She has no such doubts.

Indeed, such is her confidence that she has openly stated her desire to run for the next election before this one is even over. That's breathtaking. And, yes, it does leave one speechless.

Click title for full article.

Hat tip to Balloon Juice for "Palin First" pic.

American Stories, American Solutions.

I must admit that I worried when I heard Obama was airing a thirty minute commercial that he might be about to overreach.

I need not have. He's too canny an operator to make a thirty minute commercial about himself. Instead, he made a mini documentary about America and, more importantly, about Americans. About how they are a hard working people, a resilient people, who have been given a shitty deal by Republicans interested in looking after large corporations and the richest members of society.

The film was a series of personal tales, each highlighting a different problem that ordinary Americans face.

They were chosen with an eye to demographics: a white married mother from Missouri, a black retired railroad worker from Ohio, a Hispanic widow, mother and teacher from Kentucky, and a white male Ford motor worker from New Mexico.

They painted a grim picture. "The pressure is just to keep your head above water, so you don't feel like you're drowning all the time," said Juliana Sanchez, the Kentuckian. "You feel like you can't breathe." Five Democratic governors, two senators, and the chief executive of Google also all appeared to sing Obama's praises.

The film also inter cut with speeches that Obama has made over the past two years and one was struck with the consistency of the theme which Obama has been pushing. Unlike McCain, who appears to change what his campaign is about at a moment's notice, Obama continued a theme which he has been espousing for two years. It's a theme which states that large corporations can look after themselves as they have aways done and that government should concentrate on helping those who need help rather that those who don't.

He also movingly spoke of his mother's death and his wife spoke of his relationship with his children.

So, it hit all the right buttons. It was an audacious risk for a candidate who is leading in the polls to take, in many ways it wasn't even necessary to take such a risk, but Obama seems always to know what he is doing.

When he spoke of never sending troops into battle without remembering that they are someones son, someones daughter, someones father, someones mother, one was struck by the contrast he strikes with President Bush.

Bill Richardson ended the whole thing stating, "This guy is special because I think he can bring people together. Because he is a good decent man who understands the world through his background. That he's a man who can heal this country."

Obama then stated: "I am reminded every single day that I am not a perfect man. I will not be a perfect president. But I can promise you this. I will aways tell you what I think and where I stand. I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you when we disagree and, more importantly, I will open the doors of government and ask you to be involved in your own democracy again."

By that point I was blown away. It was a tour de force. I need not have worried at all.

Click title for full article.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Palin:"Alaskans Share the Wealth Collectively as Socialists."

Palin then:

"And Alaska - we're set up, unlike other states in the union, where it's collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs." She brags about sending $1,200 to every man, woman & child in the state since, quote "Alaska is described as America's socialist state.."
Palin now:
Senator Obama said he wants to quote spread the wealth. What that means is he wants government to take your money and dole it out however a politician sees fit. Barack Obama calls it spreading the wealth.” Palin said, “But Joe the Plumber and Ed the Dairy Man, I believe that they think that it sounds more like socialism. Friends, now is no time to experiment with socialism."
Sharing the wealth is good when it happens in Alaska but calamitous if suggested a Democrat?

This Republican campaign simply can't get more pathetic or hypocritical. Spreading the wealth is okay when it is $700 billion bailouts of everyone's money towards Wall Street in the largest transfer of money from the poor to the rich in human history.

But asking that people who earn over $250,000 should pay the same as they did before the Bush tax cuts - a position which McCain originally supported before he decided to sell his soul to the Republican base - well, that's just socialism. An abomination everywhere in the US... except Alaska.



Obama Ad Uses Winking Palin.

Obama uses Palin's winking to devastating effect in this ad highlighting McCain's lack of understanding of the economy.

The ad isn't about Palin, it's about McCain's lack of knowledge of economics and his statement:

"I might have to rely on a vice president that I select" for expertise on economic issues.
Cue the winking Sarah.

David Gergen on Reagan's Socialist Tendencies.

David Gergen has been the most honest Republican on display throughout this election. Here he takes on McCain and Palin's ludicrous claim that Obama is a Socialist:

Gergen: Now, one of the most effective popular programs we've had in the last three decades. It's called the earned income tax credit. It's a program whereby, if you're a working person, a working couple and you're below the poverty line, the government will actually give you money. That's a redistributed program. It's a program which takes money from the upper classes and gives it to the lower -- to the working poor.

Now who started that program? The earned income tax credit? Ronald Reagan. It was one of the -- it was an achievement of the Reagan administration that Bill Clinton then built on.
Palin probably doesn't know how ludicrous she is being, but it's hard to believe that John McCain doesn't. He's simply stopped caring as to whether what he says is true or false.

Charles meets Barack.

I found this strangely moving.

Charles is a volunteer from Boulder, CO. He signed up to help get Obama elected after his wife of 69 years died. He wins a raffle which allows him to meet Obama, but he's really moving when he talks about realising that he won't be around in five more years but speaks of the hope he takes from the amount of young people who have flocked to Obama's campaign.


Fox interviews Joe the Plumber on Israel.

This strikes me as simply extraordinary. Joe the Plumber is now being interviewed on foreign policy.

Apparently, he thinks the election of Obama would bring about "the death of Israel". To be fair, Fox question the sanity of this ridiculous claim, but they are nevertheless interviewing him anyway.

I simply can't get over the lengths that Fox will go to in order to send the message that an Obama victory could be dangerous, but we are surely at a new low when Fox start interviewing this man who clearly knows nothing about the subject that he is being interviewed on.

He admits himself that he knows "enough about foreign policy to be dangerous", and yet he is being allowed on to a national TV station to spout his ignorance nationwide. Perhaps, it's a secret plan to try make Palin look knowledgeable, as I can't think of any other reason that this nincompoop should be asked his opinion on anything.

Have we forgotten that this man came on to the national stage lying about his earnings and his aim to buy a plumbing business? He's not even a plumber...

It makes you despair... We have reached a new low. Any day now we can expect Joe Six Pack to talk to us about sub prime mortgages and where we all went wrong.

The Times US presidential rankings - the 10 worst to have held office.

The London Times have started a project to name each of America's presidents in order of greatness starting with the worst and working their way along to name who they regard as the greatest.

The poll of American historians have named James Buchanan as the worst for his failure to prevent the American civil war.

But at joint 37th place they have named Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. Nixon for his role in Watergate and Bush for the obvious reason of the illegal invasion of Iraq.

"Bush Jr. invaded Iraq based on faulty intelligence and then catastrophically mismanaged the war, dragging America's name through the mud." Chris Ayres, Los Angeles correspondent.
I have to say that I think this judgement is rather harsh on Nixon. For all his cynicism and manipulation, Nixon opened China, the Soviet Union and, eventually, ended the Vietnam war. If one made up a list of positives and negatives, it was at least possible to list some achievements on Nixon's page in a way that is simply impossible to do when it comes to Bush.

I well remember when Bush announced his Israel/Palestine road map thinking that it would be ironic if we would have to one day sing his praises for achieving peace in the Middle East but, despite being the first ever US president to publicly call for a state of Palestine, his interest in the subject withered and the situation on the ground has actually worsened under his presidency.

I actually can't think of a single positive thing to say about his presidency.

Looking at this period of history from British perspective one can say that Blair at least had the stunning achievement of a Northern Ireland peace treaty which, whilst overshadowed by his disgraceful participation in the invasion of Iraq, will nevertheless give historians one gleaming jewel to point to when assessing his time in office.

There is no equivalent for Bush that I can think of. So I think Tricky Dicky is being treated rather harshly by these historians when they put him and Bush at a tied 37th place. I would say that, bad as Nixon was, he wasn't actually as bad as Bush and he deserves to have Bush one point beneath him in any scale of awfulness.

There is an equivalence to the way in which they both governed, both believing that their presidency rendered any action they took legal simply on the grounds that they were the president, but that's about as far as the comparison goes.

Nixon was a sly, cunning, manipulative and paranoid man, but there can be no doubting that he possessed intellect. Nixon planned, he schemed. He devised great plans meticulously in his yellow legal notebooks.

Bush preferred to eschew thought and rely, instead, on his gut. He looked into people's eyes and flattered himself that he could see their souls. Indeed, he became the perfect representative of the Republican party's war on intellectualism.

Compared to Nixon, Bush is simply a thuggish boor.

I never thought I'd say it, but that's not fair on Tricky Dicky.

Click title for source.

McCain Vs. Palin Fight - It's On!

This is a direct quote from a member of the McCain campaign talking about Sarah Palin:

"Her lack of fundamental understanding of some key issues was dramatic." Another McCain aide quoted on CNN: "It was probably harder to get her up to speed than any other candidate in history."

Those are damning words. And, indeed, even in their public appearance together yesterday McCain appeared to acknowledge that there is a tension between himself and Palin:

Appearing to address reports of tension between his and Palin's teams, McCain, standing only a few feet from her, said: "When two mavericks join up we don't agree on everything, but it's a lot of fun."
But Palin has, nevertheless, decided that it is the McCain camp which have been holding her back and that now is the time for her to "go rogue". Talk about failing to see your own shortcomings?

It's not that in the few appearances she has made in front of the press that she showed a staggering ignorance about world affairs, it's McCain's fault for not allowing her even more opportunities to show how woefully out of touch she is with the world she lives in.
Which meant, as one such adviser said to me: "Letting Sarah be Sarah may not be such a good thing." It's a grim binary choice, but apparently it came down to whether to make Palin look like a scripted robot or an unscripted ignoramus.
But what's really extraordinary about all of this is the extent to which Palin is right. There is a section of the Republican party who have decided that the press asked Palin trick questions, that no-one understands the Bush doctrine, that she did not reveal her ignorance but that a vast left wing conspiracy are seeking to make Palin appear stupid in an act of deliberate sexism.

Certainly the crowds who are turning out to see McCain/Palin rallies appear to be there for her and not for him.
In spite of a standing ovation, many in the audience had turned out to see not McCain but Palin, who received the loudest cheers. Some of the audience left after she had spoken and before McCain had a chance to begin.
It's a really extraordinary phenomenon, to watch a campaign split right in front of your eyes, with one candidate fighting the 2008 election whilst the other fixes her eye on the campaign of 2012.

In any sane party Palin's lack of knowledge would instantly exclude her from high office. The people currently attending Republican rallies appear not to care.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Communication Scholars Speak Out About Negative Campaigning.

A group of top American communication professors have crafted and signed a statement calling on the McCain campaign to stop knowingly lying. Whilst noting that "both major campaigns have been criticized by fact-checking organizations for prevarications" they then get to the meat of their complaint:

It would be misleading, however, to imply that since “both sides do it” there is no qualitative difference worth noting.

In recent weeks, the Republican ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin has engaged in such incendiary mendacity that we must speak out. The purposeful dissemination of messages that a communicator knows to be false and inflammatory is unethical. It is that simple.

Making decisions in a democracy requires an informed electorate. The health of our democracy and our ability to make a good decision about who should lead our nation require the very best in communication practices, not the worst.
This is what I have been saying for months now. I've seen many campaigns spin the truth to their advantage but, normally, when they are called on it they stop. They never apologise, they simply stop making the claim.

This is what has made the McCain/Palin campaign such a thing of wonder. Even when it's pointed out to them that they are lying, they simply carry on as before. I've honestly never seen this before in my life.

They are doing it on taxation, on Obama's so called "socialism" and they even continue to quote Joe the Plumber, a man who is not called Joe, is not a plumber, and who has admitted that under Obama's tax plans he would receive a tax cut.

A politician actually standing up and saying something which he knows to be a lie, whilst knowing that you know it is a lie, is actually quite rare. And yet that has been the McCain/Palin election campaign. And it's so blatant that American communication professors are calling it an affront to democracy as it affects the truth needed for the electorate to make an informed choice.

I've never seen that before.

Hat tip to Truthdig.

Click title for source.

The Numbers.

9% of the ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll say they’ve already voted, and if they are any indication as to how this is going to pan out, then McCain is in bigger trouble than we thought.

Their preference: Barack Obama over John McCain, by 60-39 percent.

That leaves 91 percent yet to vote, but more are coming. A total of 34 percent of likely voters intend to vote early, including those who’ve already done so and those who say they will in the next week. This overall early voting group favors Obama over McCain by 59-39 percent, essentially the same as it is among those who’ve gotten it done already.

It's even worse news for McCain in the battleground states where those who have already voted split in a 69-30 percent preference for Obama over McCain.
In the eight toss-ups (Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia) these preferences are 74-25 percent (already voted) and 69-29 percent (including those who plan to do so). (Note, given our sample size there’s a 10-point error margin on this estimate.)
Obama has launched a huge campaign to get the vote out early and it appears to be working.

Now I understand why the Republicans are breaking into open warfare quite so soon. They obviously have had access to these numbers before we have.

Click title for full article.

As GOP anger builds, the thuggery comes bubbling up.

This is breathtaking. Just when you think the Republican campaign can't sink any lower, this happens. It's been bad enough that they have been campaigning based on lies long after their lies have been uncovered but this is now outright assault.

Republican Rep. Frank Wolf is asked to state his position on health care which he has so far refused to do.

Watch, not only the casual way a member of staff attacks the man with a cane, but the fact that Wolf at no point requests that the staffer stop doing what he is doing. He literally silently watches as a member of his staff assaults someone.

The camera then turns a corner to find another man pinned against the wall by another member of Wolf's staff.

This is I suppose the natural conclusion to, not only a thuggish eight years of Bush rule, but to one of the most disgusting Republican campaigns of all time. That it should end with them showing such utter contempt for anyone who stands against them is strangely fitting.

Hat tip to Crooks and Liars.

Struggle for soul of Republican party degenerates into civil war.

As predicted the Republican party are fracturing and it looks like outright war will ensue next week with everyone blaming everyone else for the loss.

"How did we get into this mess?" Newt Gingrich, former House speaker and a driving force behind the Republican dominance for most of the past 20 years, says of the disarray. "It's not where we should be and it's not where we had to be. This was not bad luck."

For the second time this month, Bill Kristol, a leading voice on the party's conservative wing, used his column in The New York Times yesterday to urge the struggling candidate to throw his advisers to the winds. "He might as well muzzle the campaign," Mr Kristol wrote. Senior McCain staffers were now "spending more time criticising one another than Obama, and more time defending their own reputations than pursuing a McCain-Palin victory."

McCain has decided that the way forward is to simply state that the polls are all wrong and to sail blithely forward.

Did you catch that? He prefers to trust his judgement rather than polls. That's McCain's version of Bush's "truthiness" and tendency to "trust his gut". And I love the self delusion in McCain's demand that "Sarah Palin is not qualified because...?"

At this point her lack of readiness can hardly even be in question. The very few interviews she has given have been train wrecks, showing an ignorance which is quite stunning including even an ignorance of what the role of a VP actually constitutes.

But it would be unfair to lay all the blame at her door. The truth is that the Republican policies which John McCain is proposing are essentially the same policies which brought George Bush his record breaking unpopularity.

The entire Republican philosophy, established under Reagan and continued by every Republican since, was essentially an audacious lie. Reagan seriously promoted the notion that the more one gives to the rich, the better the whole of society will be, as that money will trickle down to everyone else. Reaganomics was farcical, and resulted in one of the greatest periods of disparity between rich and poor in American history.

That and the constant refrain of deregulation, deregulation, deregulation meant that McCain had no way to sidestep the financial disaster which has gripped world markets caused by the very deregulation which the Republicans have spent the last thirty years telling us is the only way to economic success.

Of course, McCain did himself no favours by pronouncing the economy to be "basically sound" in the morning but in a state of "crisis" by the same afternoon. It was hard at that point not to take his claims that economics wasn't his strongest suit extremely seriously.

And the Independent hit on a point which I have been making for weeks now, there has never been a consistent theme which identified McCain or his campaign.
Finally, he has been unable to find a consistent message. One moment, strategists complain, he has presented himself as hero and patriot with experience, unlike his untested "celebrity" opponent. Then he metamorphosed into an agent of radical change, in improbable contrast to "insider" Obama. Next, the man who made a virtue of playing clean politics waded in, low and dirty, against the Illinois senator. Finally, it was a ticket of "two mavericks" to overturn Washington politics. Unfortunately the mavericks – or their teams – are criticising not so much Mr Obama as each other.
The battle now is for which direction the party moves next. There will be many, the Kristols, the Gingrich's and the Malkins who will argue that the party needs a Palin/Bush type of evangelical to stir the base:
Ms Palin is an emblem of the social conservatives, of how that base can be mobilised to win elections, as George Bush did in 2004. "She is playing for her own future," the unnamed McCain aide added, "she sees herself as the next leader of the party."
Personally, I think that way madness lies. The polling numbers for Palin amongst independents is poor, and the Republican base is not enough to deliver electoral victory. For too long the Republican party have been held hostage by this particular lunatic fringe. They would be far better doing what Blair did with lefties like myself, he simply ignored us knowing that on election day we had nowhere else to go. The Republicans need a figure like Colin Powell, someone that everyone agrees that, apart from one ill advised visit to the UN, is basically an honourable man.

The worst thing they could do is unite around a polarising figure like the former beauty queen from Alaska.

Click title for full article.

CNN: McCain Campaign Pushed 'B' Hoax

Further proof that it was the McCain campaign that pushed this false story.

Obama: We Are One Week from Change.

Obama is making his closing argument of the 2008 campaign for the White House. One only has to listen to him to realise why he is the force that the world needs to lead America at this moment in time.

This man is a genuine inspiration.

In one week, we can choose an economy that rewards work and creates new jobs and fuels prosperity from the bottom-up.

In one week, we can choose to invest in health care for our families, and education for our kids, and renewable energy for our future.

In one week, we can choose hope over fear, unity over division, the promise of change over the power of the status quo.

In one week, we can come together as one nation, and one people, and once more choose our better history.

That’s what’s at stake. That’s what we’re fighting for. And if in this last week, you will knock on some doors for me, and make some calls for me, and talk to your neighbors, and convince your friends; if you will stand with me, and fight with me, and give me your vote, then I promise you this – we will not just win Ohio, we will not just win this election, but together, we will change this country and we will change the world.

One week to go. One week until we can say goodbye to the thuggery and intellectual vacuousness of the Bush administration and welcome America back into the world family.

One of his supporters in this video states, "He's not just an American leader, he's a world leader." yet another states, "He's going to bring back what America used to be."

Many people have spoken of the rise of anti-Americanism across the globe during the past eight years, but I've always regarded it as anti-Republicanism. The world had no trouble with America during the Clinton years and the reaction which Obama received in Berlin and throughout Europe when he toured here recently shows that the same will happen again.

When Bush attempted to lead the world the problem was that no-one followed. And by engaging in torture and the holding of prisoners without trial he made a mockery of the notion that the US was the political system which all others should emulate.

Bill Clinton summed up the hope that America represents to the rest of the planet when he said in his speech to the Democratic Convention, "People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power."

That is what Obama will restore.

One week to go...


For those interested, the entire speech:

Barbara West's Audition Reel For Faux News Channel.

I showed Barbara West's bizarre interview with Biden the other day and was astonished at the insane right wing talking points which she tried to pass off as legitimate questions.

Here, someone has made a contrast and compare video of the kind of questions she asked Biden compared to the ridiculous softballs she threw at McCain. There can be no doubt that the woman is simply a partisan little hack.

Police foil plot by white supremacists to kill Obama.

It strikes me as extraordinary that we can have had eight years of the worst presidency any of us can remember and yet the dumb f#cks come out of the woodwork now with plans to kill Obama before he's even been elected.

Two men have appeared in a US court accused of making threats to kill Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, federal agents say.

Paul Schlesselman and Daniel Cowart were also charged with possessing an unregistered firearm and conspiracy to steal from a licensed gun dealer.

The neo-Nazis allegedly planned to assassinate Mr Obama in a murder spree targeting more than 100 black people.

Mr Obama said he was not worried by the news and it was "not who America is".
These people have had no difficulty with a president who took them to war on a lie which resulted in the deaths of thousands of their fellow citizens and tens of thousands of Iraqis but they are enraged because Obama is a different colour from them?

And the plan itself was hardly sophisticated:

Somewhat farcically, the alleged plotters planned to dress in white tuxedos and top hats and drive their car at high speed towards the presidential candidate while shooting at him. They expected to die in the attempt, the authorities said.

I'm unsure of what the top hats and tuxedos added to the plan other than to render them better looking corpses but we are blatantly dealing with morons of the highest order here.
"They didn't believe they would be able to do it but they would get killed trying."
As we get nearer and nearer to the US electing it's first ever black president I suppose stories like this will become more commonplace, after all race is the great scar on America's conscience.

But there is no reason to find these stories particularly worrisome. If elected, Obama will become the most powerful man in the world, and if the authorities can't keep him safe then we would have every reason to ask who they can keep safe if they can't protect him.

But there can also be no doubt that McCain and Palin have been campaigning that Obama is not like other Americans, that he "pals around with terrorists" and that his election will endanger America. I think the message that they have been pedalling is a dangerous one and that their audience is too unsophisticated to make the distinction between "terrorist sympathiser" and "terrorist" that they are trying to make.

The cries of "Kill him" and "Terrorist" which are almost routinely called out at their rallies are a national disgrace and an indication of the fear which they are instilling in their stupid supporters.

McCain affected outrage when John Lewis warned both him and Palin of the fires that they were stoking with this incendiary language but McCain has done nothing to rein it in. Instead he has pretended that he is the aggrieved party and that a terrible insult has been made towards him.

Meanwhile, the hate fests which both he and Palin call their rallies continue unabated. Here we hear a cry of "And he's a n-gger" from a Sarah Palin rally, which she, again, doesn't appear to notice and certainly doesn't condemn.

They are both contributing to an atmosphere that Lewis and others recognise as dangerous. I am not for a moment seeking to draw a link between the actions of these skinhead morons and the McCain/Palin rallies, but neither can I say that these rallies have calmed things down.

And when the McCain camp rush to the airwaves to promote stories of black men assaulting and scarring young white women which turn out to be totally false, then they are actually engaging in race baiting.

This campaign has been an utter disgrace and the hatred and fear which McCain and Palin have stirred up is simply shameful. They could have argued with Obama as forcefully as they liked on the subject of policy, but they have chosen not to do so. Instead, they have always chosen to portray him as something "other", as someone who doesn't see America as they do, as someone who endangers America itself.

McCain and Palin are playing with fire, as Lewis has pointed out. And whilst no-one believes they wish to encourage morons like this to act in the way they planned, they have done much to add to the fevered atmosphere in which such plots are hatched.

Click title for full article.

Monday, October 27, 2008

End of Battle Centers on Turf Bush Carried.

100,000 people turned out to hear Obama speak in Denver. As the campaign begins to draw to a close Obama is saying that he is going to turn his attention to how to unify the country after a difficult and long election.

With optimism brimming in Democratic circles, Mr. Obama will present on Monday what aides described as a summing-up speech for his campaign in Canton, Ohio, reprising the themes he first presented in February 2007, when he began his campaign for the presidency.

From here on out, Mr. Obama’s aides said, attacks on Mr. McCain will be joined by an emphasis on broader and less partisan themes, like the need to unify the country after a difficult election.
Both Obama and McCain will spend the remainder of the campaign in states where George Bush won last time which, in and of itself, says a lot about how far Obama has cut into McCain's backyard.
Mr. McCain has settled on Pennsylvania as the one state that Democrats won in 2004 where he has a decent chance of winning, a view not shared by Mr. Obama’s advisers.
I think McCain's Pennsylvania gamble is simply insanity. It is based on the fact that Hillary did much better than Obama there when the two of them were battling for the Democratic nomination, but that's a very different thing from asking them to vote for a Republican, so I think McCain is simply wasting his time on that front.

Obama is making large inroads into Republican territory and McCain's options are seeming more limited with each day that passes.

As Mr. Obama uses his money and political organization to try expand the political map, Mr. McCain is being forced to shore up support in states like Indiana and North Carolina that have not been contested for decades. His decision to campaign on Sunday in Iowa, a day after Ms. Palin campaigned there, was questioned even by Republicans who noted polls that showed Mr. Obama pulling away there. But it reflected how few options the campaign really has, as poll after poll suggests that Mr. Obama is solidifying his position.

Mr. McCain has found relatively small crowds — particularly compared with those that are turning out for Mr. Obama — even as he has campaigned in battleground states.
This is not surprising as McCain has continued to hit points which appear to have no electoral punch, from Ayers to "spreading the wealth", and yet he keeps hitting these same points and imagining that they are suddenly going to have traction.
“We feel good that when people hear the message about spreading the wealth versus raising taxes , they respond,” said Nicolle Wallace, a senior McCain adviser. “It’s just a matter of whether, given Obama’s saturation paid advertising, we can get the message out there.”
Thatcher showed this level of stupidity when she insisted on pushing forward with the poll tax, which eventually cost her her premiership. She continued to believe that all she had to do was get the message out there and people would see her point. This ignored the fact that everyone understood her message perfectly well but that we fervently disagreed.

McCain finds himself in the same place. People know that Obama is going to increase taxation on people earning over $250,000 and that everyone else will get a tax cut. He achieves nothing by telling people something which they already know and expecting them to suddenly be outraged by it.

So, as we enter the final stretch, Obama will start to look for ways to unite the country around his presidency and McCain will talk about taxation.

There are many reasons as to why McCain's campaign has been as ineffective as it has. But one of the main reasons, as even Bill Kristol pointed out, is that they keep doing things even after they have been shown not to work. And Obama, "spreading the wealth around", is a case in point.

Click title for full article.

Were The Republicans Ever Here At All?

I'm with Maher here. The Republican party used to be an honourable bunch of greedy patricians who lost their way when they allowed themselves to be taken over by the Christian right.

When I watch the loons running around now claiming things which are demonstrably false I really think the Republicans are reaping what they have sown.

It's now a party of lunatics and, after this election, there is every indication that the few Republicans left will be even more extreme and insane than the lot that brought us the last eight years. This entire party is now in free fall.

Christopher Hitchens on Hardball with Chris Mathews.

I hate it when I find myself on the same side of any issue as Christopher Hitchens, but I suppose the insanity of imagining that Palin is ready to be President "at a moment's notice" is simply too much of a stretch for even someone like Hitchens to ignore.

Palin Discusses Her Wardrobe at Campaign Rally.

Unbelievable. Talk about too little, too late. Now she wants to "go authentic". This is an example of Palin breaking away from the McCain camp and trying to begin her own bid to be the Republican nominee in 2012.

What she's really saying is that, "They did that to me". The problem with this strategy is that it ignores the fact that the $150,000 wardrobe was only the straw that broke the camel's back. That wasn't what was wrong with the idea of proposing her as VP.

The fundamental wrong with Palin's bid to be VP was her staggering ignorance of politics in general and the role of the VP in particular.


As I suspected this was Palin striking out on her own away from the McCain camp.

A senior adviser to John McCain told CNN's Dana Bash that the comments about her wardrobe "were not the remarks we sent to her plane this morning." Palin did not discuss the wardrobe story at her rally in Kissimmee later in the day.

But in Tampa, Palin happily broached the clothing issue after being introduced by "The View" co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who accused Palin's opponents of being "fixated on her wardrobe" and "deliberately sexist."