Saturday, November 01, 2008

Halloween party


Too cute. Or horrifying.

You be the judge. [Ace]

Just returned

from a prayer service at a mosque. More later.


I know that no one's defending Palin on her stunning amendment views, but I just can't get over my horror, so I'll offer more on on the topic. This is A. Serwer writing at Tapped who says it better than I can:

"If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations," Palin told host Chris Plante, "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."
This understanding of the First Amendment, not as freedom of speech, but as freedom of speech limited to me and those who share my political views, coupled with a freedom from criticism of those views, is the most frightening interpretation of the Constitution I've ever heard in my life. Those "attacks" from the MSM are protected under the Constitution, Palin's "right" to be "free" from such "attacks" (read: critical coverage) is most definitely not.

But this bizarre interpretation is at the core of the right's complaints about unfavorable media coverage. Rush Limbaugh typically invokes this "understanding" of the First Amendment when criticizing groups like Media Matters, accusing them of being "Stalinist" for recording his nationally broadcast programming and calling him out on inaccuracies or flagrant bigotries. In Limbaugh and Palin's minds, the First Amendment protects not only their speech but shields any criticism of said speech.

And as Ben Smith points out, the First Amendment exists to protect people from government, not the other way around, which is what makes Palin's interpretation of the Constitution so deeply alarming.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Worse comes to worst - 4 votes

I was intrigued to read a blogger we know and admire write "worse/worse." Did anyone get an answer?

Update from Stephanie: Apparently, there's more than one acceptable version:

Posted without comment

AP-Yahoo! News poll, “Changeable voters … 1 in 7 voters still persuadable,” By
AP’s Alan Fram: “a stubborn wedge of people, … somehow, are still making up their minds about who should be
. One in seven, or 14 percent, can't decide or back a candidate but
might switch, according to an Associated Press-Yahoo News poll of likely voters
released Friday. Who are they? They look a lot like the voters who've already
locked onto a candidate, though they're more likely to be white and less likely
to be liberal. And they disproportionately backed Hillary Rodham Clinton's
failed run for the Democratic nomination.”

Well, a little comment. "Told you."

My serious question

Why is Sarah Palin so frightfully clueless about the 1st amendment?

I have a serious question

Why are Barry's aunt and brother living in poverty?

Ok, I've voted

What a weird town this is. I had at least ten slots in which Democrats were unopposed.


UT’s endowment down a cool one this year.

Happy Halloween!

Let’s make this the scariest ever! Oh, wait, it already is.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Undecided voters

Should watch Obama's interview with Rachel Maddow.

Now I don't have to drink to vote next Tuesday....

Just heard Senator McCain on Hugh Hewitt. He acknowledged his differences (humility) with HH and, therefore, the base (me, more base than HH). I know, shoring up one's base at this late hour is a sign of weakness, but maybe not this time.


23% of Texans think Obama is a Muslim.

More Scooter's VDH lovefest

Some nice thoughts heading toward the weekend:

Fourth, the war in Iraq is no longer even a war in a traditional sense…. The cost of deploying American troops in Iraq is nearing the expense to station them elsewhere abroad. As Iraqis continue to take over additional provinces, the American presence will shrink further.

There are also long-term reasons to believe the United States will better weather the current storm. We are a transparent society that blares out problems, affixes blame, and then fights publicly over solutions. Japan’s real estate meltdown of the 1990s took years to correct, given the emphasis on secrecy and shame within Japanese financial circles.

American banks are subject to uniform national policy and are forced to act in concert. In contrast, British, French, and German lending institutions are often unwilling to bail out other countries, and compete with each other to attract scarce capital in times of crisis.The United States military remains far stronger — and more battle-hardened — than the rest of the world’s armed forces combined. Rogue nations and terrorists try to take advantage of economic uncertainty, but America remains the best-defended democracy in the world.

The current financial crisis has startled America from a hypnotic trance of self-indulgence and irresponsibility. But as we return to American fundamentals, we may discover that our political, social, and economic system — despite all the current election-cycle hysteria — is still by far the most resilient in the world.

Campaign Spending

I haven’t followed this subject with much interest so I’ll side with Michael on the substance but trust Stephanie that Senator Obama left himself an out on the issue. I’ve also got no problem with Senator Obama having raised so much money so long as done properly (another subject). Having said that, I wonder if VDH is right about future campaigns. I don’t think the issue is dead. If it comes up again in four or eight years and the financial shoe is on the other foot, the media will still howl:

The $600 million that Obama amassed and abject rejection of public campaign financing. There are three problems: (1) the breaking of one’s word; (2) the creation of such a vast treasure chest; (3) and the complete destruction of the principle of public financing. Never again, will one on the Left make the credible argument either that there is a poisonous nexus between big money and big politics, or that the government should step in to ensure that special interests do not exercise an inordinate influence. So Obama essentially destroyed the idea of public campaign financing of national elections. It’s dead, kaput—over with for good. And the media simply skipped that latter story. (Again, imagine the media’s reaction should McCain have flipped on the issue, rejected public financing, raised a $600 million war-chest, outspent Obama 4-1, and now was airing 30-minute infomercials unanswered by the poorer, and public financed Obama.)

American Breadlines and the Big Three

I didn’t watch the infomercial but have had this thought a lot lately though less about Senator Obama and more about some of the things coming from others on the left.
From Mark Hemingway at the Corner:
Whatever our problems are right now, America is not one big breadline. To be fair, all politicians exploit these anecdotal cases but I think Obama's special really pushed the boundaries of my bile duct here.

Just as one particular example, I was struck by the guy at the Ford plant; it noted that his father and grandfather had worked at Ford and retired with full benefits. And now he's only paid to work every other week. Is he suffering currently because of the state of the economy and George Bush's economic policies, or because his dad and grandad's union extracted exorbitant benefits and retirement packages that mean Ford is now saddled with crushing financial obligations?

I've heard it said that with GM, at least, something like $1000-$2000 of each vehicles price goes to the benefits of GM retirees. As for the "extraction" of "exhorbitant benefits" by the unions, the big three are as equally to blame. The writing has been on that wall for much longer that the subprime grafitti.

More right-wing talking points

"There has been a complete and utter smear job of our fellow citizen, Sarah Palin, who is only trying to serve her country.”

Oh wait a minute. No it's not. [Allah]

Unmarked small bills

"The Obama-Biden campaign might just as well have set up dumpsters all over the world into which illegal donors could dump shopping bags full of cash donations made in unmarked small bills."

Bill Dyer is on the case.

L'il Obama!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

This is what I've been saying and why the polls are undercounting McCain

by a margin that means McCain wins. If you have any interest at all on why I thought that McCain would win (but became convinced when I saw the Tipp poll for October 21), read the whole thing:

"The Bradley Effect is merely a subset of the 'socially desirable answer' phenomenon. People tend to tell pollsters the socially desirable answer."

Correction: Having read more carefully, let me amend: I don't know anything about the latter stuff in that post. My knee-jerk agreement was with the first few paragraphs. Call it Bradley or something else, the polls don't reflect what's going to happen when the curtain closes and Joe voter needs to make a decision about the fate of his country.

Princess Leia pillow fight

You know you want to look. [Ace]

What the LA Times doesn't want you to see

"Saw a clip from the tape. Reason we can't release it is because statements Obama said to rile audience up during toast. He congratulates Khalidi for his work saying 'Israel has no God-given right to occupy Palestine' plus there's been 'genocide against the Palestinian people by Israelis.'"

If this description is true, would that bother anyone? [Ace]


Just in case anyone's worried about Obama having connections to the PLO via Rashid Khalidi, you should know that "McCain distributed several hundred thousand dollars to Khalidi's Center for Palestine Research and Studies while he chaired the International Republican Institute." Tapped, citing Seth Colter Walls at HuffPo.

Anyone concerned about Barry's credit card fraud fundrising?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Senate makeup by party

Since 1901, the makeup of the Senate, by party, has been as shown:

Data is from here.

Update 11/1/10: Here is a chart that is more current and shows both House and Senate


Focus groups showed that this ad works?!

Election night

If Obama wins Ohio and Virginia (and holds Pennsylvania and the other usual suspects), then he doesn't need Colorado or New Mexico. Essentially, election night drama will be over when Ohio and Virginia are called, if they go to Obama. Here's how that electoral map would look, giving all the other states to McCain (and noting that this map is far more favorable to McCain that current polling suggests):

Created using the RCP create-your-own-map thingee.

RCP Projections in 2004

This shows how closely the RCP polling averages predicted results in the 2004 Presidential election:

Hawaii was bad because there was little polling and it stopped mid-October. In the rest of these states, the results matched the predictions within 4.5%, with only three states being more than 3% off. (Note, though, that I've used actual results rounded to the nearest full percent, while the predictions are rounded to the tenth. So the differences may be off by up to almost one percent. The orange ones indicate where the polls predicted the wrong guy as winner.)

Looking at these results reminds me how we Democrats thought, in 2004, that Bush and Republicans would surely understand that he hadn't been given a mandate. Out of about 46,000,000 votes in these states, Kerry lost by just 270,000 votes (about 1/2 of one percent).

Burge on MOE in political polls

It's not scientific or accurate.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Book club book picks for 08-09

My book club had determined that we'd read only award-winners this year. Here's what we've picked:

Nov: The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts, Louis de Bernieres
Dec: One of Ours, Willa Cather
Jan: All the King's Men, Robert Penn Warren
Feb: The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway
March: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke
April: Watership Down, Richard Adams
June: The Human Stain, Philip Roth
June: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon
July: Snow Falling on Cedars, David Guterson
August: To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
Sept: The Echo Maker, Richard Powers

I've read 75 pages of Kavalier & Clay, just enough to see that I liked it, so I stopped reading and pitched it and will read it with the book club.

Fine, you just lost one suburban vote...

“I’m not interested in the suburbs. The suburbs bore me.”

Ezra on McCain's campaign against liberalism

But conservatives may end up ruing this descent into ideological war. Two months ago, it wasn't exactly clear what an Obama win would "mean." But as McCain has worked to transform this election into a referendum on liberalism, it's increasingly becoming...a referendum on liberalism.


If Obama wins, it's going to be very easy for folks to claim that the old conservative pressure points of taxes and government have dulled, and we're entering an era in which economic instability and widening inequality necessitate a more assertive role for progressively-conceived governance. Indeed, one of my long-running criticisms of the Obama campaign was that they weren't campaigning so as to build an ideological mandate. John McCain, helpfully, has solved that problem. My hunch is conservatives will not end up thanking him.

Tax plan

Obama's tax plan here:
Middle class families will see their taxes cut – and no family making less than $250,000 will see their taxes increase. The typical middle class family will receive well over $1,000 in tax relief under the Obama plan, and will pay tax rates that are 20% lower than they faced under President Reagan. According to the Tax Policy Center, the Obama plan provides three times as much tax relief for middle class families as the McCain plan.

Families making more than $250,000 will pay either the same or lower tax rates than they paid in the 1990s. Obama will ask the wealthiest 2% of families to give back a portion of the tax cuts they have received over the past eight years to ensure we are restoring fairness and returning to fiscal responsibility. But no family will pay higher tax rates than they would have paid in the 1990s. In fact, dividend rates would be 39 percent lower than what President Bush proposed in his 2001 tax cut.

Obama’s plan will cut taxes overall, reducing revenues to below the levels that prevailed under Ronald Reagan (less than 18.2 percent of GDP). The Obama tax plan is a net tax cut – his tax relief for middle class families is larger than the revenue raised by his tax changes for families over $250,000. Coupled with his commitment to cut unnecessary spending, Obama will pay for this tax relief while bringing down the budget deficit.


Tax Cuts to 95% of Working Americans

Does allowing the ‘01 and ‘03 tax cuts to expire count as raising taxes? Or, is that just a return to something that was more fair and just? Or, would a President Obama only allow the pre-‘01, ‘03 levels to return for the top 5% of earners?

As an observer from the right, Senator Obama seems to be in “read my lips” territory. Unfortunately from my perspective, I don’t think he would be held to account the Bush père was because I don’t think the issue is that important to the left.

Anybody concerned about the WBEZ interview?