Friday, October 10, 2008

More wingnuts in parking lots 

The hate-rally tactics have got to stop.

I know that today McCain made a big show of asking his supporters to show "respect" for Obama, even going so far as to tell people they shouldn't be afraid of an Obama presidency. Great! Swell! Thank you! But that is nothing but a gesture until McCain's campaign -- not just John McCain one time in a single campaign event, but he and all of his surrogates and staff, at all times -- publicly disown and discontinue that tactics they have deliberately used to stoke this hatred. Otherwise he's just trying to have it both ways.

Field trip! 

The Creation Museum, which teaches life's beginnings through a literal interpretation of the Bible, is claiming attendance figures that would make it an unexpectedly strong draw less than a year and a half after it debuted. More than a half-million people have toured the Kentucky attraction since its May 2007 opening, museum officials said.

For creationists — Christians who believe the Bible's first chapter of Genesis is the literal telling of the universe's start — the museum is a godsend. Many have returned with family and friends, some from faraway states arguing it's one of the few with a Christian worldview.

Many scientists say they fear damaging effects on science education when young people tour the museum and fail to square its lessons with what they're learning in school. One display shows humans coexisting with dinosaurs — despite the two species being separated by 65 million years in most science texts.

Interesting insights from body-language experts 

Attitude-Flag #1: The Aggressive Confidence Of The Con-Person

Sarah Palin has mastered one fundamental requirement of a Republican president: she can smile and look you directly in the eye while telling an outrageous lie. At least when John McCain lies, his body screams his discomfort by putting on an eye-catching display of twitches, phony smiles and robot moves. McCain's body language is so strange that it's easily observable; he appears to be operated by a puppeteer who is a couple of triple-espressos over the line. That's a good thing, though. We'd much rather have a presidential candidate who reads like a comic book when he's lying than one who conceals those whoppers under a grin and a wink. Sarah Palin belts out her deceptions and distractions with a radiant confidence we usually only see in sociopaths and infomercial pitch-persons. The last public figure we saw who could grin and lie with that kind of sunny confidence was O. J. Simpson.

And more on McCain's body language.

Betty White on the election 

The view from mid-plummet 

No links. Just a question.

Is Obama missing a chance to put this thing away right now in not responding to the market free-fall?

And of course I don't mean a McCain-like blunder. I mean the construction of an image of care and leadership at a moment in which people are surely freaking the fuck out. I mean a Giuliani moment. Because this is the closest thing we're going to have to the next 9/11, and it's happening right now. It's an enormous opportunity.

I'm not saying I know exactly what he would need to do and say to accomplish this; only that there is -such- a vacuum in just this spot right now. McCain tried to fill it and proved how unfit he was for office.

I think that Barack thinks that his image, as currently constructed, is reassuring enough. But I think that right now would be the ideal time for him to shift into a more directly compassionate and commanding voice.

Again, he doesn't have to propose or do anything policywise. He only has to find the language to reassure-- and in asserting it, claim what's his: the responsibility to fucking put things back together.


This is what I had in mind! Cross MLK with FDR and you get... mothafuckin BHO, bitches!!!!

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio – Welcoming a “wonderful crowd on this beautiful day that the Lord has made,” Senator Barack Obama denounced what he called negative Republican tactics, summoned the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt and called for calm and sacrifice in the face of the growing financial crisis.

“The American story has never been about things coming easy,” Mr. Obama said, speaking to an audience of 5,000 in this southern Ohio city of 22,000. “It’s been about rising to the moment when the moment is hard, about rejecting panicked division for purposeful unity, about seeing a mountaintop from the deepest valley. That’s why we remember that some of the most famous words ever spoken by an American came from a president who took office in a time of turmoil. He said ‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’”

It's cheesily inspiring, it offers no policy solutions-- but it shows that he has the balls to claim FDR's mantle. He should stick with this message: I -am- FDR and you need me!!!!

a proposal 

Berube has a proposal for wingnuttia:

What about all of you who want to spend the next eight years foaming at the mouth every time someone turns up shocking new evidence that Bill Ayers wrote Barack Obama’s autobiography, or that the secret Muslim Flight 93 memorial points to Mecca, or that Rachael Ray wore a scary scarf?


We really just want you to leave us alone. Still, we have our limits. The way you’ve behaved over the past decade or two leads us to believe that you’ll do whatever it takes to make the next decade or two a living hell for everyone who’s sincerely trying to clean up all the messes you’ve made. And we just can’t be bothered with that nonsense right now. This is too important.

Understand, I don’t want to deprive you of your pastimes and your livelihoods. On the contrary: I want you to enjoy them to the fullest extent imaginable—but in a way that doesn’t interfere with sane people. So I have a proposal.

We will spend $500 trillion and create 150 million new, high-paying jobs creating an alternate reality for you. In a state of your choosing—but preferably Utah, Oklahoma, or Alaska—we will construct a massive VR installation complete with all your favorite obsessions and catering to your every resentment. In this separate, self-enclosed universe, President Palin and Vice-President Tancredo will run things just like you think they oughta be; crescents and croissants will be banned; An American Carol will sweep the Oscars; television will consist of two channels, Fox and Fox Sports; and the ten commandments will be proudly displayed in every classroom and courtroom, together with a Very Angry Eagle if you like. There won’t be any elite universities or sneering college professors, of course, but there will be Mexicans, so that you can call for their deportation and then hire them to mow your lawn and work in your pork-processing plants; there will be gay people, so that your sense of sexual identity can be properly threatened at all times; and there will be a black person, played by Gloria Foster, so that you can prevent her from voting.

It’s totally a win-win. You’ll love it, and you’ll be out of our hair. And all you have to do is lie down in this comfy little pod of pink goo.

How pleasant to be Mr. Brooks 

Here's David Brooks today:

...The Republican Party has driven away people who live in cities, in highly educated regions and on the coasts. This expulsion has had many causes. But the big one is this: Republican political tacticians decided to mobilize their coalition with a form of social class warfare...

Over the past 15 years, the same argument has been heard from a thousand politicians and a hundred television and talk-radio jocks. The nation is divided between the wholesome Joe Sixpacks in the heartland and the oversophisticated, overeducated, oversecularized denizens of the coasts.

Wow, what retard has been continuously promulgating that notion? Here's David Brooks in The Atlantic, December 2001:

We in the coastal metro Blue areas read more books and attend more plays than the people in the Red heartland. We're more sophisticated and cosmopolitan—just ask us about our alumni trips to China or Provence, or our interest in Buddhism. But don't ask us, please, what life in Red America is like. We don't know. We don't know who Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins are, even though the novels they have co-written have sold about 40 million copies over the past few years. We don't know what James Dobson says on his radio program, which is listened to by millions. We don't know about Reba or Travis. We don't know what happens in mega-churches on Wednesday evenings, and some of us couldn't tell you the difference between a fundamentalist and an evangelical, let alone describe what it means to be a Pentecostal. Very few of us know what goes on in Branson, Missouri, even though it has seven million visitors a year, or could name even five NASCAR drivers, although stock-car races are the best-attended sporting events in the country. We don't know how to shoot or clean a rifle. We can't tell a military officer's rank by looking at his insignia. We don't know what soy beans look like when they're growing in a field.

Even though it's been ridiculed thousands of times already, I still can't get over that "don't know what soy beans look like when they're growing in a field" thing.

a glimpse of the future 

Paul Campos outlines the Right's nightmare scenario that could lead them to insurrection.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Daily Tracking Polls 

A word about them.  I too was freaking out slightly yesterday because of apparent movement toward McCage in two of the five major daily tracking polls, Hotline/Diageo and Zogby.  

It was both comforting and informative to read this post from Chris Bowers about ceilings and flux in these polls.  If a poll makes you freak out, I suggest you read it.

And then look.  Today, both Zogby and Hotline/Diageo have widened again.  Yesterday, the composite of the five polls was Obama + 6.5%.  Today it's Obama +7.3%.  

As Bowers points out, in the context of contemporary vote percentages, either of these composite numbers represents a borderline landslide.  But the most important thing to remember is that Obama's "ceiling" is probably around +8% (so, e.g., don't expect Obama to be able to win by 11% or 12% based on what Gallup is polling--it just won't happen), AND that polls don't remain static, so there will be slight downturns and narrowings even when no substantive change is occurring in the campaign equilibrium.  There will be flux, and most of it's noise.

This person is an American voter 

Meet Wade Williams, 75, an American voter in Louisiana:

Angered by a delay in the receipt of his voter registration card, a Louisiana man today threatened to shoot election officials, claiming that he urgently needed to cast a ballot to "keep the nigger out of office," according to police.
These people aren't going away after November 4.

Who will stand up against this? Who will say no to this?

More of our fellow prisoners 

How will Obama govern if this kind of behavior is validated? Who in the media has the courage to condemn this?

Joy and Laughter 

We're definitely approaching the witches-and-goblins zone.

Dana Milbank has a fascinating little portrait of a McCage rally in Bethlehem, PA.

Only the polka band, which entertained the crowd before the speeches, seemed unaffected by the pervasive anger in the arena. "Ha, ha, ha, come join my happy song," sang the man with the accordion. "Clap along!" The crowd clapped. "We're going to party tonight," he crooned, "with joy and laughter, that's what we're after."

It was a jarring juxtaposition: At one moment, those gathered were dancing, clapping and singing along to the polka; minutes later, they were enraged. This paradox called for a social-science experiment.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Time to do like Ernst Bloch and hustle up some hope...

WASHINGTON — The economic upheaval is threatening to topple Republican Congressional candidates, putting more Senate and House seats within Democratic reach less than a month before the elections, lawmakers and campaign strategists say.

Democrats say they feel confidently ahead in five Senate races where they hope to pick up Republican seats, and they believe their candidates are running competitively in seven more.

In the House, Democrats say they could capture a dozen of the 26 Republican seats left open by retirements, and challengers are closing in on Republican incumbents in Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New York and elsewhere.

“The last week has severely damaged Republican candidates,” said Stuart Rothenberg, a nonpartisan analyst who predicts that Democrats could gain as many as six to nine Senate seats and 25 to 30 House seats. “Everything points to warning signals for Republicans.”

If such projections by Mr. Rothenberg and others are realized, it would push Senate Democrats tantalizingly close to the filibuster-proof 60-vote majority that has eluded Senate leaders since the late 1970s.


Brace yourself before watching this video found by Andrew Sullivan.

I thought I could put some humorous spin on this, but by the time the video was finished I was just dumbfounded. The people in this video live in the same nation as we do.


Prison Planet:

internets slowing down? 

Frankly, I'm a little disappointed in the speed. I was expecting this to happen at least before lunchtime.

Allegory of present conditions 

And/or my next career move.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I hope a lot of people watched the debate! 

I just want to say that I feel really good right now.

I watched the whole debate without throwing up or having an anxiety attack.

I thought Obama was very good and in a couple of cases was extraordinary. His answer to the question about asking Americans to sacrifice was really, really excellent.

And the snap polls, focus groups, and dial-meter graphs agree.

McCain had some moments that were comically horrible -- wandering around the stage aimlessly when he thought he wasn't on camera, referring to Obama as "that one," apparently refusing to shake his hand at the end. Plus a number of rambling, incoherent answers.

Most of all, this was his chance to stand behind his new claim that Obama is some sort of crypto-terrorist. But he whimped out. Why just say it behind his back? Why not say it to his face? And does that not make you a weakling if you're not able to say it to his face?

I could be wrong about this, but I don't think any truly uncommitted voter who watched the debate tonight will be very susceptible to the whole "Who is Barack Obama?" slime-wave. It was very clear who he was, what mattered to him, and what he would try to do as President.

Learning from Rio 

In Brazil, where politicians often adopt new names for elections, six candidates had taken the name Barack Obama. Other candidates called themselves Cattle Ana, Jeep Johnny, Big Charlie Knives, Jorge Bushi, Chico Bin Laden, DJ Saddam, King of the Cuckolds, and Kung Fu Fatty.

the general nails it 

Shorter John McCain:

Obama wants my preciousssssss. No! It's mine! My precioussssssssss. My beautiful preciousssssss.

jews and cuban food 

A few good gags. Although maybe I just like watching Tina Fey:

then they go way off the rails:

Original Video- More videos at TinyPic

h/t Tiny Revolution

the weirdness.

We are also America 

OK, the Republicans escalated very fast in the last 36 hours. We went from a somewhat coy and snarky reference to "pallin' around with terrorists" on Saturday afternoon -- I'm not defending it, just saying that this was language that the campaign had obviously carefully crafted as part of some rollout of slime that was at last half-planned (which for McCain's people is like the best planning they've ever done) -- to rallies on Monday evening at which partisans in the crowd replied to the question, "Who is Barack Obama?" with shouts of "terrorist!" and "kill him!"

Then the chair of the Pennsylvania GOP -- not a nut in the crowd, the head of the state party -- issued a press release entitled "Obama -- A Terrorist's Best Friend."

I think a big question is what percentage of the country, like those of us reading this site, feel like vomiting now. Forty percent? Fifty? Sixty? Seventy-five?

It will be impossible to know whether this tactic is working until we see polls at the end of this week. One thing that gives me hope is that I really believe that the Obama campaign's drop of the Keating documentary -- and BTW "keating economics" was the #2 Google search term in the world today -- caught McCain off guard and caused them to spin out of control.

Actually, if you imagine it from their point of view, they are in a real pickle now. What is McCain going to say at the debate tomorrow night? Will he actually say in front of 60 million people that he believes Obama is giving aid and comfort to terrorists, if not an actual terrorist himself? Remember, it's a town hall and the rules permit the audience to react. He would run a real risk of being booed. But on the other hand, if he doesn't press these attacks, then he will come across as a pussy who is afraid to say what he really thinks when the bright lights are on him.

Also, there is the problem that McCain's "honor" had supposedly compelled him to forbid the campaign from using Jeremiah Wright. And yet, there's Palin, doing just that! I know some people think she is actually following orders, but I really believe that she is off the reservation now. As Frank Rich wrote on Sunday, she really believes she ought to be president now and that she knows better than John McCain how to win an election.

The bottom line is that Obama has anticpated all of this and done exactly what he and his people had obviously been planning to do, whereas the McCain people find themselves in a place they did not intend to get to so quickly, so publicly and in such a disgusting manner.

This might sound naive of me, but where can they go from here? They have literally accused their opponent of being a terrorist? Where else can they go? Have him arrested? Accuse him of being a pedophile? -- oh wait, they already did that a month ago.

A week from now, this election is going to be over. Either these tactics will backfire and McCain will be finished, or they will catch on and Obama will be finished. During this week we are going to learn exactly what America is made of, but remember -- we are also America. We can participate.

Monday, October 06, 2008

A case of the Mondays 

As we hurtle toward Apocalypse, why not put it all on the line?

Is that the temptation here, a collective drive off the cliff? This is what it has been about all along, I think-- just how many Americans are true radicals? And radical today means nothing but death drive.

This is it, the final shit-shower. Wake me in November.

The dam just broke in VA 

Survey USA just released this poll of VA likely voters interviewed Saturday and Sunday (10/4-10/5):
Obama: 53%
McCain: 43%


Suffolk University has this one for VA. Again, likely voters, interviewed Friday-Sunday (10/3-10/5):
Obama: 51%
McCain: 39%

As we are all aware, if McCain loses Virginia he is virtually certain to lose the election.

There I go, looking backwards again 

I just posted this to Roger Ebert's blog, which currently features an interesting aesthetic evaluation of the VP debate (if you scroll into the comments, Ebert also has an impassioned defense of Ayers-- his responses to comments are in bold). Old news, but why not:

I watched both debates in full and was captivated by them in a way I have never been before. I realized that almost every word that is spoken is in code. Thus it not only makes sense to analyze a debate as a kind of filmic language, it is the -only- way to really comprehend its effects.

It is obvious to anyone that the candidates' speaking points are directed, from point to point, at different groups presumed to be watching. As Tina Fey made light of in her SNL routine, Palin's mention of Israel pandered to a constituency, older Jews, who watch in large numbers and make up a significant force in the Florida electorate. I was struck by just how -different- the groups Palin and Biden were soliciting would seem to be. As in the presidential debate, it seemed to me that both sides were speaking to their bases.

The televisual dimension of the debates, as you rightly point out, told a slightly different story. Anyone can memorize words and parrot them out, but one's nervousness, expressed in visual cues and tics or cadence of speech, is far harder to control. Here I would assume that experience is useful; Biden seemed more measured and confident than Palin. His passionate disagreement of the endlessly repeated "maverick" line did not come off as blustery or a loss of cool; it was a carefully timed shift of energy that was designed to stand out, like figure from ground, from the normal warble of his speech.

It is in this light that his momentary outburst of emotion must be considered. I am not sure whether a conversation over this moment's sincerity even makes sense. It was placed so perfectly within the rest of his performance, was so astonishingly effective, that even if he was absolutely overcome with emotion in that moment, it was still directed instantly, with mastery, into his overall self-construction. Biden merely had to place a PAUSE, a "beat," in the midst of the hurricane of speech that had emanated from both candidates up to that point; in all that had been said, it was silence that had not been taken up until that instant. It was this pregnant silence, this sublime -interruption of feed-, that left Palin utterly cold: a level of political charisma that will always elude her, a truly Clintonian synchronizing of true personal feeling and its simultaneous externalization.

I cannot speak to Biden's inner state at that moment. I can say, however, that his anguish expressed something that was welling inside ME, listening to 90 minutes of Palin excretion-- an immense grief at the spectacle of someone who did not deserve to be there being allowed to grandstand and possibly, horrifically, find her way to the most powerful position in our country at one of its darkest moments.

Game on 


Full documentary on McCain's scandal drops at noon EST today.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

McCage in danger 

If McCage is alive, which I reluctantly concede to be possible, he may well be in danger -- and not just from his recalcitrant cancer of the face, which is obviously an active threat that he is concealing with his medical records.

I've assumed since the Palin "nomination" (does "she" have a name?) that McCage would be in danger of being murdered if he somehow were "elected" president. Clearly she is the agent of the death machine, whereas McCage is just dead, or almost dead. The machine, I thought, would have no problem putting him out of his misery soon after the election.

But now it seems that McCage may have to be put down sooner than that. See Frank Rich's recent column for further speculations.

New Ad 

This looks like a pretty good ad.  LOVE McCage in his senior-citizen-shades, grinning awkwardly as he's coming down the steps.  Also the golf cart is a nice touch.


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