Archive for: October, 2008

Palin Gets the First Amendment Wrong

Oct 31 2008 Published by under Featured News

Once again, Sarah Palin showed her fragile grasp of the Constitution when she claimed that media attacks on her violate her First Amendment right to attack Barack Obama. The problem is that the First Amendment deals with Congress passing laws regulating speech, not the media.

According to ABC News, Palin asserted to WMAL-AM in Washington D.C. that the media is protecting Obama, “If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations, then I don’t know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media.”

Palin kept up her attack on what she called the mainstream media and elites, “It’s sort of perplexing to me, because I’m a practical person and plainspoken also, but just cutting to the chase and calling things like I see them, just like most Americans. But this has not left a bitter taste in my mouth, the bitter shots taken by the mainstream media and by some of the elitism there in Washington.” Let’s start with the obvious, the media has nothing to do with supression of speech in the First Amendment.

Here is the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Someone really needs to sit Sarah down and explain to her that the First Amendment is about government suppression of speech, not media commentary.

Palin has no idea what is in the Constitution, yet she wants to run for president in 2012. She should not even be running for vice president. Anybody who doesn’t know what the vice president does, can’t name any Supreme Court cases, and then gets the First Amendment wrong, does not belong in national politics. Heck, she probably isn’t qualified to be governor of Alaska. Look long and hard Republicans, and remember when this buffoon was supposed to be your savior.

10 responses so far

Rahm Emanuel To Be Chief of Staff?

Oct 31 2008 Published by under Featured News

Many newspapers (and other news sources), including the Associated Press, the Chicago Sun-Times, and the Denver Post reported last night that the Obama campaign has reached out to Illinois representative, and a veteran of Bill Clinton’s White House, Rahm Emanuel to feel out interest about becoming Obama’s Chief of Staff.

The Emanuel camp was quick to respond. Sarah Feinberg, a Congressional Aide to Rep. Emanuel sent out an email stating, “[he] has not been contacted to take a job in an administration that does not yet exist.”

That sure sounds like a non-denial denial, common in politics, to me. At this point, there is a good chance that Emanuel could be Obama’s Chief of Staff. Emanuel has White House experience, has presidential counsel experience, has Congressional experience, and has risen quickly in notoriety since he was elected to the House back in 2002. Emanuel, the fourth ranking Democrat in the House, was the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for the 2006 elections and was widely credited for the electoral success the Democrats enjoyed two years ago.

Thus far, it would seem the job is Emanuel’s if he so chooses. The only other name that has been floated is former Senator Tom Daschle.

4 responses so far

Obama Expands Television Advertising into Georgia, North Dakota, and Arizona

Oct 31 2008 Published by under Featured News

The presidential campaign of Barack Obama announced today that they are expanding their television advertising into Georgia, North Dakota, and John McCain’s home state of Arizona. This strategy is designed to put as many red states as possible into play, and force McCain to defend them.

The campaign said that they will be running the optimistic, “Something” ad in Arizona:

They will be running the harder hitting ad “Rearview Mirror” which focuses on the economy in Georgia and North Dakota:

The Obama campaign doesn’t really expect to win any of these three states, although of the three, Georgia is their best chance. This is a strategy that is designed to make John McCain spend his resources defending more red states with television ads, and it seems to be working. According to a story in today’s Washington Post, McCain and the RNC and scaling back their get out the vote efforts, so that they can run more TV ads in swing states over the next four days.

It is mystifying that the GOP would scale back their successful ground operation of the last two presidential elections, when this seems to be their only chance of winning. They are not going to win the ad war, so why not focus on getting out the vote? The problem for the Republican Party this year is that they have too much ground to defend, and Obama keeps expanding the front. I think the other motivation for the Obama ads is to get out as much Democratic vote as possible to help Democrats in other races. It looks to me like Obama is trying to lengthen his possible coattails.

There is an incumbent senator, Chambliss, in trouble in Georgia, and I think that the potential to pick up McCain’s home state was too good to pass up. These ad buys dispel the idea that Obama will sit on his lead and play defense. Democrats have learning in 2000 and 2004 that in order to win, they must stay aggressive until the very end. Both Al Gore and John Kerry didn’t do this, and paid for it on Election Day. The Obama campaign seems determined not make the same mistake.

5 responses so far

What Happened to John McCain? Part II: The Republican Party

Oct 30 2008 Published by under Featured News

Hijack: (v) to steal, to rob, to seize by force or threat of force.

Americans, especially since 9/11, have become all too familiar with the word and the notion of hijacking. This is so true that if we were ever on a plane and someone stood up and shouted “We’re hijacking the plane!”, many passengers would rush the man and give him a thorough beating.

Since the hijacking of planes wrought 9/11 on us seven years ago, Americans have developed a potent disdain for the word and the act.

So why then did the Republican Party, and the folks who consider themselves Republicans not stand up and “rush” those who hijacked their party?

Back on October 18, I wrote the the first part of this series with a focus on his VP pick, Sarah Palin. I think Palin’s self and McCain-sabotaging actions in the past two weeks have only lent more credibility and power to my argument that Palin was absolutely the wrong choice, picked on the fly as a gimmick and has now roundly turned about to bite McCain in the keester.

This week, however, the focus rests squarely on the Republican Party (RP) itself…at this in its current incarnation.

Besides Palin’s nosedive in favorability, McCain has had the unfortunate charge to go to war (run for president) while carrying the incredibly crazy RP on his shoulders. Republicans love to harken back to Ronald Reagan; they love to tell everyone that Abraham Lincoln, widely considered the best president in US history, founded their party and core values. Both of these assertions are nothing more than delusional nostalgia.

Lincoln freed the slaves, pushed his party to move away from discriminatory practices and to unite the country. Do either of these traits sound remotely similar to the core of the RP?

Reagan stood down the Soviet Union without ever firing a single shot (hence the term “cold” war), used our military sparingly in foreign entanglements, and though he held strong views, always sought to work across the aisle. Ask politicians who worked with and under Reagan, Democrats and Republicans, and most of them tell tales of heated but civil debates at work, and great collegiality after work. People argued on the floor of the Senate/House, then went to a bar and laughed together.

Does this sound like the current incarnation of the RP?

So what happened? Frankly, the RP let itself get hijacked by two particularly poisonous strands of their constituency–the crazy, nutjob Jesus freaks (the Christian Right, not Christians whose politics fall on the right), and the “uber patriotic” (more like Fascist) NeoCons (FNC).

Sure, appealing to these two sectors helped the RP win some elections here and there. Appealing to the CR certainly helped get George W. Bush into office back in 2000; and subsequently, appealing to both the CR and the FNC got him reelected. But that “appealing to” led quickly to appeasement and then appeasement swiftly gave way to goose stepping in lock march.

The end result is the single-issue (God, guns or gays), super paranoid McCarthyists took hold of the party and ran it like their own private, religious compound full of witch hunters. The current RP has lurched too far under Christian cross and taken us “back to the future,” into the stifling, hypersensitive 1950’s.

The RP not only let, but silently applauded, people like Jerry Falwell characterize national tragedies like 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina as God’s punishment for homosexuality. They secretly grin when Palin quietly encourages the rally crowds to demonize Barack Obama and the Democratic left as America-hating socialists/communists/terrorists (take your pick).

Just take a look at the “fine example” of Minnesota Republican Representative, Michelle Bachmann-McCarthy (yes, I just went there…because she went there herself):

And of course, here’s audio of Palin’s “wonderful speech honoring all of America:”

Now compare the basic concepts, the subtle (and blatant) accusations, and the ambience of Bachmann-McCarthy and Palin’s words to this excerpt from Joseph McCarthy from a red-baiting speech he delivered in Wheely, West VA in 1950:

“The reason why we find ourselves in a position of impotency is not because our only powerful potential enemy has sent men to invade our shores . . . but rather because of the traitorous actions of those who have been treated so well by this Nation. It has not been the less fortunate, or members of minority groups who have been traitorous to this Nation, but rather those who have had all the benefits that the wealthiest Nation on earth has had to offer . . . the finest homes, the finest college education and the finest jobs in government we can give.

This is glaringly true in the State Department. There the bright young men who are born with silver spoons in their mouths are the ones who have been most traitorous. . . .

I have here in my hand a list of 205 . . . a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department. . . .

As you know, very recently the Secretary of State proclaimed his loyalty to a man guilty of what has always been considered as the most abominable of all crimes—being a traitor to the people who gave him a position of great trust—high treason. . . .

He has lighted the spark which is resulting in a moral uprising and will end only when the whole sorry mess of twisted, warped thinkers are swept from the national scene so that we may have a new birth of honesty and decency in government.”

Luckily, after 20 years of subtle movement, and eight years of blatant movement towards this type of Christian-Police state, the American people are beginning to stir. This kind of hateful hegemony is being tolerated less and less by many who have begun to smell the percolating coffee of objectivity.

The RP needs to drastically move away from, and dramatically denounce, people like Bachmann-McCarthy, Palin, Falwell, Cheney, Rove, etc, and start going back to their more sane roots by embracing, once again, people like Colin Powell, Chuck Hagel and Scott McClellan. These are folks who are not ideologues hell bent on Rapture or Party Domination, which ever comes first.

McCain has been heavily burdened with running a campaign while trying to run away from this version of the RP and simultaneously paying it lip service.

McCain’s best chance was to renounce these people and their practices, to be honest and break from the unrecognizable RP of today and run as his own man, a true maverick.

But that straight talk never came to light.

Comments are off for this post

Polls: Obama Leads McCain in Colorado and Virginia

Oct 30 2008 Published by under Featured News

Two new Marist polls of Virginia and Colorado were released today, and each poll shows Barack Obama leading John McCain. In Colorado, Obama leads McCain 52%-43% with registered voters and 51%-45% with likely voters. In Virginia, Obama leads 49%-43% with registered voters and 51%-47% with likely voters.

In Colorado, 44% of those surveyed said that they already have cast their ballots. Obama’s lead with is mostly due to the early voters, when they are taken out of the numbers, the candidates are tied at 46% with likely voters. Independents are behind Obama in a big way in state. By a margin of 58%-35%, Independents are supporting Obama. Eighty four percent of those surveyed said that they are strongly committed to their candidate.

Eighty eight percent of Obama supporters and eighty four percent of the McCain supporters described themselves as firmly committed. Both candidates have positive approval numbers, Obama’s is 56%, and McCain’s is 51%. Joe Biden has a 51% positive rating, and Sarah Palin is still the least popular candidate in this race with a 46% positive rating.

In Virginia, the race is closer because Independents are supporting John McCain. Independents are favoring McCain 54%-42%. However Obama is offsetting some of this advantage, by picking up 11% of the Republican support in the state, compared to 6% of Democratic support for John McCain. Only 2% of registered voters who were polled said that they might change their minds before election.

Eighty five percent of registered voters said that they are firmly committed to their candidate. Eighty eight percent of Obama supporters and eighty two percent of McCain supporters describe themselves as firmly committed. Obama has a high positive rating of 61% compared to 54% for McCain. Joe Biden has a 53% positive rating, while Sarah Palin splits those surveyed, 47% positive, and 46% negative. However, Independents give Palin a 52% positive rating.

I think Colorado is likely to go to Obama, but McCain must have Virginia, and that race looks like a dead heat. There are positives in the numbers for both candidates. Like North Carolina and Florida, the results in Virginia will probably hinge on how well Obama gets his vote out. Without an influx of new Democrats, this is probably a 50/50 race. The built in advantage for Obama is in demographics, but he could win or lose the state depending on turnout.

Colorado poll results in PDF

Virginia poll results in PDF

Comments are off for this post

McCain and Obama Offer Different Responses to Shrinking GDP

Oct 30 2008 Published by under Featured News

Both John McCain and Barack Obama put out statements after it was announced today that the nation’s GDP dropped for the first time in seven years, and that consumer spending has fallen to a 28 year low. Obama used the data to highlight the need for change, while the McCain camp pointed to it as a reason not to elect Obama.

Obama said, “This morning, we learned that GDP has fallen for the first time this year, which means America is producing less and selling less and our economy is shrinking. American consumers were especially hard hit, experiencing their largest decline in spending in 28 years as wages failed to keep up with the rising cost of living. The decline in our GDP didn’t happen by accident – it is a direct result of the Bush Administration’s trickle down, Wall Street first, Main Street last policies that John McCain has embraced for the last eight years and plans to continue for the next four. These policies didn’t work then, they won’t work now, and I’m running for President to end them. We need to grow our economy by creating jobs, providing tax relief for middle class families, and helping people stay in their homes, and that is exactly what I will do as President.”

McCain advisor Douglas Holtz-Eakin said that Obama will make things worse, “Barack Obama’s ideologically-driven plans to redistribute income will impose higher taxes on families, small businesses, and investors; expensive, rigid, job-killing health mandates on employers; energy policies that fail to promote domestic oil, natural gas, and coal, and will impose a massive Washington-driven regulation of everything from home furnaces to factories; isolationist trade policies that endanger one out of every five jobs; and massive new spending plans that that will burden the economy and saddle our children with debt. Barack Obama is change Americans cannot afford.”

Barack Obama is running against the economic policies of the past eight years, while John McCain is running against Barack Obama, thus putting him a position of defending the status quo. Obama’s response talked about middle class families, and McCain focused on taxpayers. Look at the McCain campaign’s response. It is all over the place. Instead of sticking with the economy, Holtz-Eakin tried to move the discussion to energy and trade. The McCain campaign doesn’t want to discuss the economy and it shows.

John McCain has not established a personal connection with voters. Unlike Obama, he has not been able to effectively convey sympathy and concern for the problems of average Americans. McCain also suffers from the same problem that plagued John Kerry in 2004. He talks like a senator. While Obama talks about kitchen table issues like jobs, education, food prices, and retirement, McCain gets bogged down in discussing taxes, spending, entitlements, and earmarks. Those are topics for the Senate, not the White House. Why Obama is winning is because he looks like a president. McCain has the look of a lifelong senator, and in politics perception is reality.

One response so far

McCain Admits that Obama Is Not a Socialist

Oct 29 2008 Published by under Featured News

In an interview that will air on CNN’s Larry King Live tonight, John McCain admitted that he doesn’t believe that Barack Obama is a socialist, but he does think that Obama is far left. Once again, McCain undercuts his own campaign’s message.

King asked McCain if he believes that Obama is a socialist. McCain answered, “No. But, I do believe — I do believe that he’s been in the far left of Americans politics. He has stated time after time that
he believes in quote, “spreading the wealth around.” He’s talked about courts that would redistribute the wealth. He has a record of voting against tax cuts and for tax increases.”

McCain continued, “And I don’t think there’s any doubt that he would increase spending and he would sooner or later, we would be increasing taxes. There is no doubt in my mind that that’s what his record — 94 times he voted to cut taxes — against tax cuts and for tax increases. He voted for — and that’s what matters. Not rhetoric. To raise taxes on individuals making $42,000 a year.”

The problem with John McCain is that he keeps undercutting his own campaign’s argument against Obama. His campaign is arguing that Obama is a socialist, so he can’t go on national television and say that he doesn’t believe that Obama is a socialist. It destroys the label that his campaign is trying to create. McCain has contradicted his own message on a weekly basis. I think everyone knows by now that Obama’s tax plan delivers more a tax cut to the middle class than McCain, but since he has to run on something besides the economy, he has chosen taxes.

For all the talk presidential elections are never decided on taxes, even George H.W. Bush lost his reelection campaign, not because he broke his no new taxes pledge, but because the economy was terrible. Presidential elections are usually decided by scandal, the economy, or foreign policy.

One of these categories will usually dominate with voters. Taxes resonate with conservative ideologues, but not many others. McCain has quite possibly run the most contradictory and inept presidential campaign of the last twenty years, and Republicans have to hope that he doesn’t take the whole party down with him.

Transcript of McCain on Larry King

One response so far

The LA Times, McCain/Palin, and Rashid Khalidi

Oct 29 2008 Published by under Featured News

Trailing in the polls with six days to go, the presidential campaign of John McCain has decided to revive the Obama associates with terrorists line, by criticizing the LA Times for not releasing a videotape of Obama at a 2003 farewell dinner for Rashid Khalidi. I guess this is their version of an October Surprise.

“This associate, Rashid Khalidi, he — in addition being a political ally of Barack Obama — is a former spokesperson for Palestinian Liberation Organization. The twist here is there’s a videotape of a party for this person. A celebration of him. Barack was there. Some very derogatory things were said there of Israel and America’s support for that great nation. Among other things, Israel was described there as the perpetrator of terrorism rather than the victim. What we don’t know is how Barack Obama responded to these slurs on a country that he professes to support, and the reason we don’t know is the newspaper that has this tape, the Los Angeles Times, refuses to release it.”

Palin completely distorted Obama’s association with Khalidi, in fact, this smear originated with a February story by Aaron Klein of the right wing political tabloid World Net Daily As CBS News pointed out, Klein’s articles on Obama are known for their distortions, but this is what the McCain campaign has latched on to. Palin didn’t both to her mention that her own running mate in linked to Khalidi through grants McCain secured for his foundation.

Palin also accused the LA Times of covering for Obama, “‘In this case we have a newspaper willing to throw aside even the public’s right to know in order to protect a candidate that its own editorial board has endorsed. If there’s a Pulitzer Prize category, for excellence in kowtowing, the L.A. Times wins.'” Michael Goldfarb of the McCain campaign also accused the newspaper of suppressing the video, “A major news organization is intentionally suppressing information that could provide a clearer link between Barack Obama and Rashid Khalidi. The election is one week away, and it’s unfortunate that the press so obviously favors Barack Obama that this campaign must publicly request that the Los Angeles Times do its job — make information public.”

The paper’s editor Russ Stanton said, “The Los Angeles Times did not publish the videotape because it was provided to us by a confidential source who did so on the condition that we not release it. The Times keeps its promises to sources.” In fact, the Times did describe the tape in detail in the original story which you can read here.

I think there are three reasons why the McCain campaign is doing this. First, they still think that they can scare voters through the Obama associates with terrorists smear. Secondly, they are trying to move Jewish voters in Florida away from Obama, and thirdly, they are looking to build the excuse that they lost the election because the media was in the bag for Obama. Why they would waste what precious little time that they have left, talking about this instead of the economy boggles the mind, but they seem committed to defeat, and this is the quickest way to get there.

Palin quotes

One response so far

Poll: Obama Maintains His Leads in Ohio and Pennsylvania

Oct 29 2008 Published by under Featured News

According to a new Quinnipiac University swing state poll, John McCain has been able to make up little ground on Barack Obama in Ohio and Pennsylvania. In Ohio, McCain has made up five points, but Obama still leads 51%-42%. In Pennsylvania, McCain has made up one point. Obama leads 53%-41%.

In Ohio, McCain leads with men, 48%-45%, but Obama leads with women, 55%-36%, and Independents, 50%-38%. Obama leads by double digits with people age 18-34 and over 55. Middle age voters, those 35-54, are split 47%-46% for McCain. Among those who already voted, Obama leads 57%-31%. Fifty nine percent of those surveyed said that the economy is their most important issue, and those voters support Obama 58%-34%. The bad news for McCain is that voters are getting comfortable with the idea of Obama as president, 52% thought that Obama would be a good or great president compared to 43% for McCain.

McCain does lead with white men, 51%-42%, and he has a big lead with white evangelicals, 61%-33%. The candidates are split with both voters who have a college degree and those who don’t. Among those without a degree McCain leads, 47%-45%, and those with a college degree are split, 48%-47%. Ninety one percent of Ohio voters say that they have made of their minds, which means that voters are becoming more settled, and they are leaning strongly towards Obama.

It looks like McCain’s big push to flip Pennsylvania has flopped. Obama still leads with Independents, 54%-39%, and women, 59%-36%. McCain does lead with men, 49%-46%, but Obama leads across all age groups by no less than 8 points. White voters are split, 48%-47% for Obama, but McCain’s strength is with white men, who he leads 55%-41%. Obama leads with white women 53%-40%, and Catholics, 49%-47%.

The economy is the most important issue to 54% of those surveyed, and this group supports Obama, 59%-35%. The worst sign is the state for McCain is that Obama leads Southeastern PA, 57%-39%. This combined with Obama’s dominance of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia is more than enough to offset McCain’s smaller 13 point advantage in the central part of the state, which Hillary Clinton dominated by 30-40 points in the Democratic primary. Voters in the state are comfortable with Obama as, 55% think he will be a good or great president compared to 42% who feel the same way about McCain. Ninety one percent of voters say that they have made up their minds.

It has been a mystery to me why McCain is spending time and money in Pennsylvania. There has never been a poll that showed McCain tied or leading. As soon as Obama shifted the focus of his campaign to the economy and jobs, he won the state. The numbers in Ohio look better for McCain. Some polls show the margin to be smaller than 9 points. I think Ohio is going to be all about turnout for Obama. If turnout is huge, he will win the state. If Obama wins both of these states, he wins this election.

Full Poll Results

5 responses so far

Polls: 7% of Voters in Ohio and Florida Think Obama is a Muslim

Oct 28 2008 Published by under Featured News

Two new LA Times/ Bloomberg polls released today of Ohio and Florida show Barack Obama leading John McCain, 49%-40% in Ohio, and 50%-43% in Florida, but the most telling statistic might be that 7% of those asked thought that Obama was a Muslim.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Ohio poll is that McCain’s Joe the Plumber working class argument is not working with registered voters there. Among white, working class voters, Obama leads McCain, 52%-38%. Ninety percent of registered Buckeye State voters said that the economy is going badly, and 50% listed the economy as their top issue. By a margin of 50%-38% they trust Obama more than McCain to make the right decisions on the economy.

What has got to be the most frustrating part of this poll for Obama is that 7% of the registered voters questioned thought that Obama was a Muslim. Nearly fifty percent of those surveyed in Ohio, and 44% in Florida did not know what Obama’s religion was. There are two ways of looking at this. On one hand the Obama camp has got to be somewhat happy that even with these questions about his religion, he is still leading. This is evidence that people are more focused on change and the economy than race and religion.

On the flip side, the McCain campaign probably sees an opportunity to exploit. If they can convince voters through direct mail and robocall tactics that Obama is a Muslim, those people who aren’t certain about Obama’s religion might end up voting for McCain. Should this happen, both of these states are in play. My hunch is that people are more concerned about the economy, than they are about Obama’s religion, but the McCain camp is hoping that if they can manufacture enough fear about Obama, then they may have a chance.

Outside of tattooing I am not a Muslim on his forehead, I don’t know what Obama can do to let these people know that he is a Christian. I think that his religion and race might have mattered in a different election in a better time, but Americans are looking for someone to provide leadership on the economy, and this is an area where John McCain has been a total failure. What Obama has working in his favor is that the more people see and hear from him, the more doubts he erases.

I don’t think that anyone should be surprised if the two candidates split Ohio and Florida. My original prediction was that Obama would win Ohio and McCain would win Florida, but I am not so sure now. McCain has been spending so much time in Ohio, and Obama has stayed solid in Florida, that it wouldn’t really surprise if my prediction flipped. It will be a big night for Obama if he wins both states, but that looks more likely than McCain holding on to both of them.

Poll Results

One response so far

Older posts »