Tuesday, September 30, 2008
What I hate is vacillation, much like what you get now on CNN, which can't decide if it wants Fox viewers or MSNBC viewers. It appears that NBC wants the ratings we lefties bring, but not the apparent stigma we have with a certain semi-retired newsreader's friends.
Once upon time, I was an unpaid intern at CNN's Washington DC bureau. One of my jobs on Saturdays was to wait on guests for The Capital Gang program (hosted by Pat Buchanan, who is actually an incredibly nice man despite his politics). The guest who made the biggest impression on me was Newt Gingrich.
Newtie, as his mom calls him, was still a minority backbencher at the time with a penchant for camera hogging. Being a news junkie, I knew of his work, which consisted of throwing molotov cocktails at the Democratic leadership and trying desperately to pass himself off as an intellectual. I remember him holding court in the green room, giving the most half-assed, comp-lit undergrad assessment of John Wayne that I had ever heard.
A few years later, Newt got his chance to show just how Churchillian he could be. He decided he would be Prime Minister (just like ol' Winston) and use his new Republican majority to invalidate Bill Clinton. Putting on his best defiant-in-the-face-of-the-face-of-the-Luftwaffe pose, he let a funding resolution expire that forced a government shutdown in 1995. He expected Clinton to capitulate to all of his idiotic demands, only to watch ol' Bill laugh his ass off when the American people rose up en masse against Winston Jr.
Then, in 1998, Gingrich took time off from getting blow jobs off secretaries in his car to orchestrate Clinton's impeachment. Bill laughed even harder this time, knowing the Senate would never remove him and watching his polls numbers spike to record highs.
Since leaving the House in disgrace, Newt has published books and given speeches extolling his own Churchillian virtues. He snagged a regular gig as Fox News's pseudo intellectual, sort of like George Will without a bowtie. He wisely passed on running for president this year, not having the money or national organization to get the GOP nomination.
I believe Gingrich was keeping his powder dry for 2012. "Why?" you ask. Well, it turns out Newt was busy behind the scenes lobbying Republicans to vote against the Wall Steet bailout. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) told MSNBC this morning that the Republican leadership assured him they had their quota of votes to pass the measure, only to discover Newt was burning up the phone lines trying to sandbag the vote.
Why would Newt care about this vote? Two reasons: 1) voting no on the bailout is great politics for House members, all of whom are up for reelection; 2) It's an issue he can hammer Obama with for the next four years as he travels the country raising money for his nomination fight in 2011-12 against Mitt Romney (forget Palin).
I, for one, am heartened by this development. Obama is every bit as capable as Clinton and appears to be much more of a natural born leader. Newt was in over his head back in 1995 and, from what I can tell, hasn't appreciably changed since. Combine that with the beginning of the end of the Republican Party as a national presence and you have the makings of one King Hell Daddy ass-whuppin' in four years.
I can't wait.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Wall Street, the Federal Reserve and the US Treasury want to use at least $700 billion to pump cash back into banks and other domestic and foreign lenders sucking hind tits now because they overpaid for tens of billions of dollars of worthless mortgages. The Dems and GOP haggled, agreed to some token oversight of how the money is spent and I'll-believe-them-when-I-see-them restrictions on executive pay at the firms receiving federal money.
McCain and Obama both support the measure, albeit reluctantly, but that's now academic. The members of the House of Representatives have been flooded with calls from their constituents who oppose the plan. Being fond of their jobs, 227 Congresspersons voted today according to the wishes of voters rather than the lobbyists who feed them blow, hookers and unmarked bills.
To better understand the ramifications of all this, check out Paul Krugman and Barry Ritholtz.
McCain's efforts paid off handsomely in this presidential election cycle. The aforementioned chorus carried him when his campaign sputtered in late 2007. Republicans eventually realized he was their only candidate with enough stature to beat Hillary Clinton.
Then came Hurricane Obama. This handsome, self-made young man swept onto the national scene and captured the media's attention, taking away the unquestioned adulation that McCain and his supporters expected to carry him to November.
The public wanted someone new, a leader who recognized that the economy is fundamentally fucked and that the occupation of Iraq was a huge mistake; in other words, a candidate who stands for everything McCain doesn't.
So McCain did the only thing he could do: he gave up any pretenses of nobility or honesty and bared his fangs. He picked a self righteous dimwit for his running mate and committed to bald-faced lying on a daily basis. He foresook everything he claimed to believe in.
Johnathan Chait of The New Republic sums it up best:
"The pattern here is perfectly clear. McCain has contempt for anybody who stands between him and the presidency. McCain views himself as the ultimate patriot. He loves his country so much that he cannot let it fall into the hands of an unworthy rival. (They all turn out to be unworthy.) Viewed in this way, doing whatever it takes to win is not an act of selfishness but an act of patriotism. McCain tells lies every day and authorizes lying on his behalf, and he probably knows it. But I would guess--and, again, guessing is all we can do--that in his mind he is acting honorably. As he might put it, there is a bigger truth out there."In other words, the end justifies the means. McCain likes to call himself a maverick. He used to brag about standing up to clowns like Donald Rumsfeld. In his desperation to win the presidency, he has shown himself to be no better.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
In the intervening election years, conspiracy sympathizers have always wondered what that campaign season's October Surprise would be. There is much hand wringing among lefties about what McCain/Bush/Rove have in store for us next month. Case in point:
I pulled this from Huffington Post, but have chosen not to link to it because I think the whole idea is ludicrous. "Why?" you may ask. Well, short of declaring martial law, the Republicans have no more cards to play.
What are your predictions about the inevitable ''October Surprise''?
Here's one of mine: In the final debate, McCain will have his big penitential moment. He'll confess his sin -- his hunger to become President -- and apologize for the unpalatable things his ambition has made him do.
And he'll say that it no longer matters to him whether he wins or loses, just so long as he reclaims his soul, and that's what he prays that ''Warshington'' will do too, for the sake of America.
And swing voters will eat it up and vote for him, because who better to be President than a man who says he doesn't want to be President?
Over the last three decades, the conservative Republican movement has gotten everything it wanted: neanderthal federal judges, repeated tax cuts, the end of federal oversight over just about everything, the right to harass and arrest political opponents, and a national media that trusts Republicans and is wary of Democrats.
Workers were forced to trade pay raises for credit cards, in order to make the inflation rate appear lower. Housing costs were removed from the inflation formula as another way to get phony inflation numbers. Having a pulse became the only requirement for getting loans to keep the economic activity going.
And it has all turned to shit.
The silent majority that Nixon, Reagan, and the Bushes pandered to so effectively for years is done with conservatives. In short, McCain's constituency this year is limited to Joe Lieberman, Lindsay Graham and a million or so evangelicals who think Sarah Palin was sent by God to do their bidding.
If you are looking for the unexpected in the next few weeks, try this prediction on for size:
This year's October Surprise is much more likely to be the disintegration of the GOP as a national party.
The story confirms what many people, save hard core Republicans, suspected from the moment that McCain announced his campaign suspension and intention to go to Washington and fix the financial crisis: it was all a political ploy to get Sarah Palin off the front page and halt Obama's surge in national polling. McCain contributed nothing to the bailout negotiations. He agrees philosophically with Wall Street welfare but it smart enough to know that he has to appear to be on the side of the little guy.
The senator from Arizona has pandered to Main Street for years, always safe in knowing the national press would never bring up his pro-corporate record or the Keating Five. He is facing a skeptical press corps for the first time in nearly 20 years and has no fucking idea what to do about it.
Say whatever you want about Obama, at least he does his homework and had the balls to admit that he believed the bailout to be necessary no matter how it plays on Main Street. He showed no fear Friday night because, as the linked story above will illustrate, he has nothing to fear from his opponent.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Last week, I posted a thought about my favorite band in the whole of human history -- The Who. The above video takes about an hour to make my case for me.
Keith Moon was in the very early stages of his decline as The Best Fucking Drummer Ever, losing his place from time-to-time but still incredibly powerful and able work brilliantly off Pete Townshend. John Entwistle's bass rig takes up half the stage as he ably carries the rhythm duties whilst Moon and Townshend have some fun.
Roger Daltrey often gets neglected in discussions about vintage Who. He was able to fill the room with very strong voice in the midst of the very loud and powerful work of his bandmates, all of whom rank at, or very near, the top of live rock musicians. His voice asserts itself well and properly without getting in the way of the energy of his backing band.
The Who were like a lot of British bands that came in the wake of the Beatles, with just one properly trained musician (Entwistle) and incredibly varied influences like Eddie Cochran, Mose Allison, Stax and Motown, and too many more to list here. The Who were on the crest of the developments such things as using feedback and distortion and the Marshall stack, which made it possible to play over huge crowds in basketball arenas and football stadiums. In fact, Entwistle and Townshend bought their gear from Jim Marshall's shop and commissioned the first big cabinet amplifiers. Clapton, Hendrix and others quickly caught on and the big rock and roll concert sound was born.
Anyway, by the mid-70s, The Who was generally considered without peer on stage (sorry Zepplin fans; it's true). Hit the video and tell me later if you don't agree.
UPDATE: The meme is emerging today that Obama=Kennedy and McCain=Nixon, circa 1960. I am biased to agree with this view, but I do see genuine logic in it. Obama was confident and assertive; McCain was stand-offish and prone to regurgitating talking points. I'm sure the 1960 debate is up on YouTube; watch it and tell me what you think of this analysis
The bad news for John, however, is that his VP choice is going up against Joe Biden next week.
Friday, September 26, 2008
UPDATE: McCain held up better than I expected. His persistence in telling the same lies over and over again probably helped sustain him. Obama did well, probably winning by split decision.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
McCain's proposal to postpone Friday's debate is already an epic fail.
Barney Frank nails it: "It's the longest Hail Mary pass in the history of either football or Marys."
Obama's going to Mississippi to debate an empty chair if need be: "Presidents are going to have to deal with more than one thing at a time. It's not necessary for us to think that we can do only one thing, and suspend everything else."
There's a basic law of physics here: Objects in motion stay in motion. This juggernaut of a campaign, the millions of volunteers and small donors, the media budgets lavished on it, a year of meticulous and fair planning by the national debate commission... no one man, not even a candidate, can stop that by unilateral fiat. I'm impressed by how quickly McCain's gambit crumbled in the course of two afternoon hours (and take back my previous statement that it didn't seem like a bad move).
Wow. Just, wow.
If this were chess, McCain would be in check right now.
Monday, September 22, 2008
I won't summarize her work here, as she does it very well herself, but I know how it will read to most people. Please suspend your disbelief for a few moments and read it. I really think our form of national governance is in danger of going away.
I generally pooh-pooh most conspiracy theories. I think they the reflect intellectual laziness of their adherents, generally, and some kind of sublimated need for faith for people who can't seem to find a religion that suits them. I do believe that Oswald had help in killing Kennedy, but I really think 9/11 wasn't an inside job so much as it was a mistake by the Bush administration in thinking that a handful of religious zealots couldn't actually fly planes into buildings; however, I do think the hijacked United 93 was shot down by the military after it recognized what said zealots were in the process of pulling off. The official story, while way too politically convenient for Bush, is certainly understandable and probably defensible.
Having said all of that, something is going on now in Washington and on Wall Street that cannot possibly be defended by anyone but Bush, McCain, and their wealthy patrons.
This, my friends, is bullshit. There is nothing in the proposal for the average taxpayer. The plan the Bush administration is pimping calls for nearly a trillion dollars of your money to be spent buying up paper that Wall Street and foreign banks don't want anymore. The whole point is to let the greedy idiots who caused this mess off the hook with no consequences. Their mistakes go away and they get cash to resume running their companies and the economy into the ground.
Congressional Democrats are starting to speak out about this. Sen. Obama appears to be slowly laying the groundwork for coming out the proposal. The GOP and Sen. McCain will begin shrieking that the Dems are trying to destroying the economy. They will allege that Obama is connected to FannieMae and FreddieMac, two badly run funds that helped created this mess. Not only is that crap, but it obscures the fact that McCain's campaign is run by lobbyists who made millions of dollars advocating for the regulatory changes that allowed this whole mess to happen.
Click above for more.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Monday, September 8, 2008
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
Your musings about clutter struck a chord with me, Kim. My dad was a linotype machinist and his dad retired out of the composing room at the Star. I actually remember when printing was a trade, rather than hacks like me being just proficient enough with Photoshop and Quark to do the work of five people. I spent a lot of Saturdays at work with my dad watching the old timers dig through hundreds of yards of big stand-up cases looking for fonts, as well as stripping negatives and hand manipulating the exposures on the big cameras to get just the right look on the plate. I love my MacBook, but it does hurt to know that its forebears killed such a neat (and good-paying) trade.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
But she went further to take the same tired, not terribly sharp, swipes at Barack Obama. Republicans, especially mediocrities like Palin, always try to sound witty next to Dems and come off looking like dunderheads. The GOP wins when it attacks with an army of meth-addled dunderheads carrying dull axes in one hand and the Reader's Digest version of the New Testament in the other.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
This is what happens when you pull an unknown Northern Exposure Karen Walker out of the rabbit hat for the second most powerful job in the nation. Had Sarah Palin been on the rubber-chicken circuit for years, as Ronald Reagan had, we would have become familiar with her and her family, much as we did with (say) the Romney fraternity over the long course of the primary campaign. But she was sprung on the country out of nowhere, and just about the first thing we learn about this family-values matriarch is that her unwed teenage daughter is pregnant (then we learn that the governor used the line-item veto to slash funds for teenage mothers--what a monster).
My good friend and colleague Jimmy Tuttle has admonished me for my post last night speculating about a pseudo-dramatic surge to sweep Fred Thompson into the second slot on the GOP ticket. He believes my ideas to be crap. He may be right...okay, he is right. Sarah will stick it out, in all likelihood.
Anyway, I am looking forward to her speech tonight. She has a tightrope to walk, with most of her comments about her record from her first appearance having been thoroughly debunked. She can't just attack Obama, as this is her first real introduction to the country. Selling herself will be her primary job tonight, as another hurricane is getting ready to knock her and McCain back off the front page. They can get out of St. Paul with the last impression being that of 10,000 or so crackers wildly screaming her praises.
We'll see how it goes.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
All snark mostly aside, things don't look good for the Republicans' VPILF-in-waiting. The relatively minimal amount of hurricane damage in NOLA has allowed the national press to turn its attention squarely back to Palin today. Unflattering information about her -- trying (and failing) to fire her supposed asshole brother-in-law, endorsing Ted Stevens then condemning him when the FBI showed up with supoenas for all of his files and friends, the pregnant and unwed teenage daughter, the fishy story about her water breaking in Dallas but being able to keep her legs crossed all the way to Anchorage without anyone noticing that she was even pregnant, etc. -- is snowballing down the aisles of the Republican convention.
And the National Enquirer has sent the guys who busted John Edwards up to Alaska to give the Governor a full-body cavity search.
What will happen? Well, I've got some speculations on that and none of them include a happy ending.
First of all, Palin is toast. If she were in good shape with the campaign and the party, she would have spent today visiting live on all of the cable news shows and giving "exclusive" interviews to the network news shows. All we know is that she is supposedly in St. Paul. I'm guessing she is in a hotel suite getting grilled by McCain's handlers about all of the dumb shit she and her husband haven't disclosed yet. They will convince her to come clean about everything, as she doesn't appear smart enough to realize that the handlers will use to send her back to Juneau with her mouth taped shut.
Secondly, every Republican's favorite security blanket, former Sen. Fred Thompson, suddenly bumped Rudy Giuliani out of the prime speaking slot tonight. Thompson, a decent character actor and wildly indifferent presidential candidate, will give Palin a cursory mention before lighting into Obama and Biden. All of the GOP talking heads will immediately hail his remarks in the same light as Lincoln's Second Inaugural.
The fun will start Wednesday morning, I expect the cable news shows to begin crackling with rumors of a "draft Fred for VP" movement taking hold on the convention floor. If that trial balloon is not shot down by the mouth breathing evangelicals and neanderthals like Pat Buchanan by nightfall, look for a dramatic withdrawal announcement by Palin sometime before Thursday morning.
Should my scenario play out, McCain will get a temporary bounce of five or six points and almost draw even with Obama. That "surge" will slowly erode throughout the rest of this month and give way to freefall after the first debate on Sept. 29.
Monday, September 1, 2008
This is the post in which I promise to start posting more, but I won't do that this time. I probably will make multiple posts this week, as I have the whole week off, but we shall see how it goes.
The good news today is that Gustav appears to have been much less destructive than Katrina. NOLA residents learned their lesson a few years ago and got the Hell out of town, the levies are holding and there were enough cops and National Guard troops to handle the situation. We'll see in the next few days how all of those oil platforms and refineries held up.
The better news is John McCain's attempt to piss off the GOP establishment worked brilliantly, so much so that he has effectively eradicated his already slim chances to beat Obama. He wanted Lieberman; the Republican establishment wanted Romney (who just became the party's presumptive nominee to get pounded like a narc at a biker rally in 2012).
Palin is a slow-moving train wreck. She is not at all qualified for the VP job and doesn't seem too bright, at least not thus far. It's a shame that her daughter's aversion to birth control has become a national news story. I believe the governor when she says that she supports her daughter's pregnancy and I give her brownie points for that. I take away points, however, for Palin's decision to accept McCain's offer without consideration for her daughter's privacy. These stories always come out about national candidates and even dunderheads like McCain and Palin should know that. I hope the baby and her teenaged mother are healthy and able to forgive Palin some day for such a selfish decision.
I have trouble believing the national polls that show McCain so close to Obama. From what I can tell, younger voters -- who rely solely on cell phones -- are hardly being sampled. The national media types who use these polls know this, but they use the numbers anyway because their bosses want a seemingly close race in order to pump up viewership and sell ads. Not to beat a dead horse, but this poll business is just another example of how accountants and salesmen have ruined the news business.