Friday, October 17, 2008

Good news, bad (but not surprising) news

The good news is that the rumors of a Colin Powell endorsement of Obama have come down to a specific time and place - Meet the Press, this Sunday. (Source CNN Political Ticker).

The bad news is the incredibly tasteless (and, yes, racist) link made by Faux News between that rumor and Powell's hip-hop dancing at the Africa Rising event at Royal Albert Hall in London. The Washington Independent reports this latest faux pas by Faux news (sorry, I could not resist, though it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue) and provides the link to FN (which I will not). The good news out of the bad news that is that if Fox is already ahead of the story, the rumors of the endorsement may well be true.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Life is hard, we dig in, we spot deceit

Thus far I have refused to find any solace in opinion polls. It's not just that the methodology is, well, hardly foolproof, it's also a life-long conviction that shit happens, most likely when you least expect it.

Last night I did my civic duty and watched the last debate. Nothing really new, but, in terms of the usual measures of debate performance, McCain did far better than he did earlier, pack of lies and distortions notwithstanding. That led Bill Bennett to wax enthusiastically and other post-debate commentators to suggest that McCain did, indeed, do far better, especially in the first part, although he may have put people off a bit with his bizarre fixation with Bill Ayers. Then the polls came in (yes, only of debate watchers and some of only Undecideds), but it was clear that most people were not buying the McCain bull.

And then I woke up to this refreshing column by Garrison Keillor (HT seekingspirit), "Life is hard, we dig in, we spot deceit." It begins:

We are a stalwart and stouthearted people, and never more so than in hard times. People weep in the dark and arise in the morning and go to work. The waves crash on your nest egg and a chunk is swept away and you put your salami sandwich in the brown bag and get on the bus. In Philly, a woman earns $10.30 an hour to care for a man brought down by cystic fibrosis. She bathes and dresses him in the morning, brings him meals, puts him to bed at night. It’s hard work lifting him and she has suffered a painful hernia that, because she can’t afford health insurance, she can’t get fixed, but she still goes to work because he’d be helpless without her. There are a lot of people like her. I know because I’m related to some of them.

Low dishonesty and craven cynicism sometimes win the day but not inevitably. The attempt to link Barack Obama to an old radical in his neighborhood has desperation and deceit written all over it. Meanwhile, stunning acts of heroism stand out, such as the fidelity of military lawyers assigned to defend detainees at Guantanamo Bay — uniformed officers faithful to their lawyerly duty to offer a vigorous defense even though it means exposing the injustice of military justice that is rigged for conviction and the mendacity of a commander in chief who commits war crimes. If your law school is looking for a name for its new library, instead of selling the honor to a fat cat alumnus, you should consider the names of Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, Lt. Col. Mark Bridges, Col. Steven David, Lt. Col. Sharon Shaffer, Lt. Cmdr. Philip Sundel and Maj. Michael Mori.

Amen and read the rest at the Star-Tribune.

Telling "Joe Plumber" how it really is

Update: "Joe in the Spotlight" at the NY Times. It, like many articles, points out what I would have liked to have seen mentioned in the debate -- the difference between gross income and taxable income.

Update 2: "Joe the Bumbler." Celtic Diva has gathered information from ABC, CBS, and other news sources, including the following:
Joe Wurzelbacher is employed by Newell Plumbing owned by Al Newell. They live in the city of Holland in Lucas County, Ohio, near Toledo. . . . [Joe] The Plumber acknowledged that he wants to purchase the plumbing business for $250-280,000, not that he would net that much in profits. He would make much less, he said, according to ABC News.

In other words, Joe The Plumber would not be subject to the 3% tax increase, from 36% to 39%, which Obama plans to impose on those making more than $200,000 per person, or $250,000 per family. In fact, Joe The Plumber would be eligible for an Obama tax cut. Newell Plumbing would also be able to take advantage of tax savings from the new federal health care system planned by Barack Obama.
See also the updated report from CBS News, which indicates that Joe doesn't have any concrete plans to buy out his boss's business and that he owes more than $1,000 in back income taxes.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pup would be proud

Remember back when conservatives personified charm, wit, and intelligence? Well, Christopher Buckley recalls those golden days in both his recent essay endorsing Barack Obama for President (see "A first class temperament and a first class intellect"), and now the follow-up recounting his gallant offer ("briskly" accepted) to resign from the National Review, which his father founded.

An excerpt:
So, I have been effectively fatwahed (is that how you spell it?) by the conservative movement, and the magazine that my father founded must now distance itself from me. But then, conservatives have always had a bit of trouble with the concept of diversity. The GOP likes to say it’s a big-tent. Looks more like a yurt to me.

While I regret this development, I am not in mourning, for I no longer have any clear idea what, exactly, the modern conservative movement stands for. Eight years of “conservative” government has brought us a doubled national debt, ruinous expansion of entitlement programs, bridges to nowhere, poster boy Jack Abramoff and an ill-premised, ill-waged war conducted by politicians of breathtaking arrogance. As a sideshow, it brought us a truly obscene attempt at federal intervention in the Terry Schiavo case.

So, to paraphrase a real conservative, Ronald Reagan: I haven’t left the Republican Party. It left me.
Read it all at The Daily Beast.

[A yurt, courtesy of Wikipedia]

The L-Word

Call me obsessed, but this story continues to flabbergast me. Yes, there are a few people, like Rachel Maddow and the Village Voice (not to mention the Alaska bloggers), hitting this hard, but for the most part it is just a side show to the big news on the financial crisis and the rest of the election campaign news. Maybe this is because the part about an elected official using his or her office for personal benefit, to reward friends or punish enemies, is as old as the hills. The fact that Sarah and Todd Palin were so brazen and clumsy about it also can be swept away on the basis of, well, it was just Alaska, where we are led to believe that most politicians do far worse and, besides, how were they to know that they would be receiving national scrutiny. And what politician does not spin uncomfortable truths as far away from them as possible?

The difference here is that there is no spin. Palin flat out contradicts what the Branchflower report says -- that she violated an Alaskan statute (the Ethics Act) and that she abused her power. Yet, over and over again she says to the press that she was cleared of all wrongdoing and that the report found that she did not act unethically. The more she is asked the question, the more she cheerfully and enthusiastically repeats the lie.

This may not be entirely new in the Rovian political world, but it still scares the heck out of me. I am not sure which part bothers me more -- the blatant falsehood or the fact that it was resorted to so unnecessarily. There are so many ways she could have credibly defended herself or skirted the issue without lying. But instead she said down is up, the report exonerated her, period.

Was this a lack of imagination, critical thought, or such a love of mendacity that she just could not resist? I really wish that the die-hard Republicans who still hang on to the belief that any evidence of Palin's falsehoods must be unfounded because of all the "hate" Democrats have for the righteousness of the Republican cause, would just wake up and see what this woman is really like. As long as she is on the ticket, no one, of any political persuasion should be voting for it, because to give Palin any more power, to reward her for her lying, is to cause irreparable harm to our country.

UPDATE: Even the Anchorage Daily News finally weighs in with "Palin Vindicated? Governor Offers Orwellian Spin."

And Gary Kamiya quips in
"Palin family values" (published in Salon), : "The GOP claims to be the party of 'family values.' It turns out they meant Soprano family values."

Monday, October 13, 2008

My kind of hockey mom - NOT!

O.K. This really is trivial in the large scheme of things. However, as the mother of a soccer player (not a "soccer mom" -- in our leagues the dads play that role), who, over the past 12 years, has witnessed increasing violence on the soccer field spurred on by parents, and whose daughter quit a team when her long-time coach said he'd teach them how to hurt people without the ref noticing, here's a few words about our who-me-I-did-nothing-wrong candidate for Vice President of the United States:

PHILADELPHIA (CNN) – Sarah Palin seems to have slipped effortlessly into the role of John McCain’s attack dog — but those aggressive tendencies may have been cultivated many years ago as an “exuberant” hockey mom in Wasilla, where she used to bang her fists on the penalty box glass and demand that her son get tougher with his opponents on the ice.

At least that’s how she described her time as a hockey mom to Comcast SportsNet’s Steve Coates, who interviewed Palin after she dropped the puck at the Philadelphia Flyers’ season opener on Saturday night. The governor recounted how she used to embarrass her son Track by yelling at him from the side of the rink, telling him to play nice. But if he was going to play rough, Palin said, she gave him license to go all out.

“I was telling him be nice, and if you’re going to get a penalty, man, make it worth it!,” she told Coates. “Don’t just be picking on somebody. Grind ‘em into the boards! Do something that’s going to be effective. Don’t just be picking on someone.”

CNN Political Ticker.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Separation of Church and State?

"As governor, Palin at times bonds church and state" By GARANCE BURKE, Associated Press Writer:
WASILLA, Alaska - The camera closes in on Sarah Palin speaking to young missionaries, vowing from the pulpit to do her part to implement God's will from the governor's office.

What she didn't tell worshippers gathered at theWasilla Assembly of God church in her hometown was that her appearance that day came courtesy of Alaskan taxpayers, who picked up the $639.50 tab for her airplane tickets and per diem fees. . . .
Read the rest here.

On a lighter note: Detective Guy Noir tracks down the truth about the financial crisis

Last week's episode of Guy Noir (private investigator, played by Garrison Keillor) had me in tears -- of laughter, for a change. If you missed it, both the audio (best) and the script are now available at the Prairie Home Companion website.

Here's the beginning as a teaser:
TR (ANNC): A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets. But on the 12th floor of the Acme building, one man is still trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions: Guy Noir, Private Eye. (THEME UNDER.....)

GK: It was October and turning cool in Minnesota and for heat I just turned on the news once in awhile—-

TR (ON RADIO): My opponent will tax the shoes off your feet and he has come out in favor of intersections! Imagine it! Right in your neighborhood! Intersections! Your children, forced to cross intersections! (STING).

GK: Me — I was staying out of politics. Not that I don't have opinions — I got a lot of them — but nobody offers to pay me to tell them what I think about the economy — at least they didn't until I got an urgent phone call last Tuesday morning — (URGENT RINGING) — Yeah, Noir here. What can I do for you?
Listen to it all here at PHC.

Don't tell me McCain isn't responsible for rally warmups - Non-Christians for Obama?

CNN reports in "Speaker at McCain rally says non-Christians want an Obama win"
A minister delivering the invocation at John McCain’s rally in Davenport, Iowa Saturday told the crowd non-Christian religions around the world were praying for Barack Obama to win the U.S. presidential election.

“There are millions of people around this world praying to their god—whether it’s Hindu, Buddha, Allah—that his opponent wins, for a variety of reasons. And Lord, I pray that you will guard your own reputation, because they’re going to think that their God is bigger than you, if that happens,” said Arnold Conrad, the former pastor of Grace Evangelical Free Church in Davenport.
CNN Political Ticker

Don't tell me that this statement was supposed to help:
“While we understand the important role that faith plays in informing the votes of Iowans, questions about the religious background of the candidates only serve to distract from the real questions in this race about Barack Obama's judgment, policies and readiness to lead as commander in chief,” said McCain campaign spokesperson Wendy Riemann.

Update: If you can stand it, here's some of what McCain-Palin supporters are saying and doing: McCain supporters in Bethlehem PA and Johnstown PA.