Thursday, October 30, 2008

Stupid People Alert

This morning, as I was still basking in the afterglow of the Phillies' (!) World Series championship, I got on the train to go back to the city.

I had this morning's Philadelphia Inquirer - which screamed "CHAMPS" in bright red letters on the front - in my hand as I took my seat. A middle-aged, blue collar "Joisey" guy and his wife saw the paper and said something about how they weren't able to find a copy. I explained that my parents get the paper delivered to their house, and I had just picked it up on my way out the door.

I chuckled to myself as I opened the paper, not really believing that I had just a chat with Phillies fans - strangers - the morning after their world championship.

After a few minutes went by, and I had submerged myself in the Inquirer, I overheard those same two people talking about something else that I take very seriously:

"Yeah, he was in Miami last night, saying 'I'm gonna save the world, I'm gonna save the world," the woman sneered as the men shook their heads in disgust.

"He's a scary fucking guy," the man said. "And all these stupid fucking people, these uninformed people, are gonna vote for him."

My ears immediately perked up. I know who they're talking about, I thought. They're talking about Barack Obama.

You know, it's one thing to not like the guy. That's fine. That's your right. Disagree with him all you want, hate him all you want, fear him all you want. Whatever. And, by all means, feel free to trash what he says at his rallies. But if you're going to do this, and you're going to do this LOUDLY on a 7:36 train to New York City, at least get your fucking facts right.

You see, I've been to a Barack Obama rally, and I've watched many on TV. The standard ending for his stump speech - and the one he used last night - is "We can change this country, and we can change the world." Not "I'm gonna save the world," like this idiotic woman was shrieking about.

I listened to these people spew their fury some more until finally I decided I couldn't take it anymore. I turned to them and said:

"Ma'am, with all due respect, that's not what he said."

A third guy they had been traveling with immediately whirled around, waved his hand dismissively and growled "Thank you" to me. The woman immediately shushed him, before she and her husband muttered:

"That IS what he said!"

No it wasn't. I'll say it again: crap on the guy all you want. That's your constitutional right, and I would never deprive anyone of that. But, once more, get your fucking facts right!

The tragedy of the McCain campaign has been that they have done NOTHING to stop the vicious, dangerous smears and rumors their conservative base has been peddling amongst one another. They have been enablers to a community of people who really, truly believe that the man who may be the next President is some kind of Muslim/terrorist/communist/anti-Christ/cult leader. They really believe this, and the McCain campaign has done nothing to say, "Hey, you know what? That's not true, and that's dangerous shit to be peddling. Don't say stuff like that."

These people are out there, and Lord knows the Republicans won't do anything to stop this crap. We have to defeat these people - soundly - and put an end to the disgusting ignorance that is threatening to deprive America of this moment. These people are awful, and they have been harming our country. We cannot let them win - or steal a victory - again.

The kicker in all this? After I stepped in, they stopped talking. After a while, they went at it again, albeit much more quietly than before. I still was able to hear a little bit, though, and distinctly remember this one final little sound bite:

"And you know what? It's not all George Bush's fault."

And on that note, I say: God help us all.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gold Star Winner: October 29, 2008

Philadelphia Phillies
2008 World Series Champions

Come on. Could it have gone to anyone else?

I love my life, and I count my blessings as much as I can, but in two of things I love most dearly - baseball and politics - I associate first and foremost with losing. My entire experience in my two greatest passions has been colored by a long, laughable legacy of losing.

Not anymore.

Tonight, the Philadelphia Phillies, the team of my childhood, the team of 10,000 losses, the team from a city that had not won anything in a quarter-century, won the World Series.

The Philadelphia Phillies, 2008 World Series Champions.


I was terrified that I would never see this day. I mean, the Red Sox went 86 years in between World Series victories. The White Sox went 88. The Cubs are 100 years and counting - in fact, they haven't even been there in 63 years! Even the law of averages, I assumed, would somehow not include a World Series victory for the Fightin' Phils.

Like many other times, of course, I was wrong, and I have never been happier to be wrong. The Philadelphia Phillies are today's Gold Star Winner, for winning their first World Series in 28 years, for ending Philadelphia's 25-year drought, for making me scream longer and louder than I ever have before... and, most importantly, for making my wildest, wackiest, most wonderful dream finally come true.

Philadephia Phillies, 2008 World Series Champions. Unbelievable.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Gold Star Winner: October 28, 2008

Anonymous McCain Staffer

Why am I giving today's Gold Star to an anonymous McCain staffer?

Because someone in the McCain camp referred to Sarah Palin as this:

"A whack job."

It's exactly what she is, of course. Er, congrats, guys.

Thoughts From the Field

So I've been volunteering for Obama as much as possible during October, first in Philadelphia and now in Bristol, PA (just north of Philly). It's been great fun, a lot of learning and an almost therapeutic experience for me, as I finally am involved in a political campaign.

Today, a couple staffers were fretting over the polls - worried that they're too good to be true - and it started to make me nervous. Like I've said before, optimism isn't really in my nature. So I probably wouldn't be positive even if I had all the reason in the world to behave as such.

So, yeah, I'm nervous about this thing. Cautiously optimistic is about as far as I'll go. But as I've spent time in Obama offices, met voters face-to-face and over the phone, I can't help but think: there's no way the McCain campaign can match our effort. No way. In Bristol, we have a woman who is here from California, and has been here for four weeks already! We've got people from every walk of life, every shape and size, every color and ethnicity, all working for little or no pay because they believe so passionately in Barack Obama's candidacy.

It's a beautiful thing to be a part of, and I just don't see how the McCain campaign could have anywhere near the number of people, anything close to the organization, anything remotely approaching the enthusiasm that we have. The Obama campaign, from top to bottom, in a million different ways, is an absolute miracle. I repeat: a miracle. We've got to finish the job, and that will be simply the icing on the cake, but to be here... wow.

As Tim Russert would say, what a country.

Good for us.

Al Qaeda's Endorsement of McCain

“From their perspective, a continuation of Bush policies is best for recruiting,” said Professor Nye, adding that Mr. McCain is far more likely to continue those policies.

Early Voting

In record numbers - particularly for African Americans.

Good sign?

You be the judge.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Wacky North Carolina Ballots

If you vote for a straight party ticket, it doesn't include the president.

Weird. And it was like this back in 2004, too. According to a study, about 90,000 people did not end up voting for president because of this ballot. Why the fuck would they not change it???

Stevens Indicted

Sen. Ted Stevens, the dean of Alaska politics, has been convicted on seven counts of corruption. Stevens allegedly got gifts and favors from an oil contractor and then lied about it. This is, of course, illegal on many levels.

Stevens is running for re-election and, believe it or not, has been running a pretty tight race with Democrat Mark Begich, the former mayor of Anchorage. In fact, there's been some speculation that Stevens' candidacy in Alaska is the one place in the country where Sarah Palin being on the ticket has actually helped a Republican.

Well, even Mrs. Moose can only do so much.

Hopefully, both Stevens and Palin will get to spend looooots of time in Alaska starting next week.

The Truth Behind Earmarks

McCain has spent much of his campaign railing against earmarks and pork-barrel spending. By the way he goes on and on and on about it, you'd think that it was the country's biggest problem. It's not, and Matt Yglesias makes the case that McCain is missing the actual problem when it comes to earmarks:
The issue with earmarking isn’t that the money generally goes to total waste. The problem is that allocating funds for basic infrastructure or scientific research according to the relative clout of different politicians is inefficient. West Virginia and Alaska wind up with a disproportionately large amount of pork, while New York, which has a low number of Senators per capita both of whom are relatively junior, winds up with disproportionately little. It really would be better if you could take all the money spent on earmarked transportation projects and instead spend that money according to some kind of neutral formula. Similarly with scientific research projects. Reforming the process would, in this sense, be a good idea. But you shouldn’t assume that the projects funded by earmarks are per se wasteful and you certainly shouldn’t assume that procedural reform would or should naturally lead to a reduction in overall spending. In general, we spend too little on basic infrastructure and research and the case for spending more would only be made more compelling by the development of a better process for allocating resources. The National Institutes of Health, for example, is generally regarded as a well-functioning organization. But that’s not a reason to slash the NIH budget, it’s the reason NIH spending is relatively easy to gain support for.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

One Win Away

The Phillies beat the Rays 10-2 in Game 4 and lead the best-of-seven series three games to one.

A win tomorrow night, with Cole Hamels on the mound in Philadelphia, would make the Phillies world champions.

I am cherishing this moment, as being a Phillies phan has taught me that these occurrences are few and far between. And while a much larger event looms just over a week away, a possible Phillies world championship would truly be one of the most joyous - and long-awaited - moments of my life.

A legacy of losing breeds bitterness even among faithful fans like me. But it also makes winning much sweeter, and when good times come along, it's a beautiful thing.

One win. One more win and I'll officially know what it feels like. I have imagined the moment for years. I hope I don't have to much longer.

Alaskans for Obama

The Anchorage Daily News endorses Obama.

Keep in mind that these are people who obviously know Crazy Moose Lady very well.

Stupid Lieberman

Joe Lieberman is now making a point of saying that he "respects" Obama:

"When I go out, I say, 'I have a lot of respect for Sen. Obama. He's bright. He's eloquent.' Someday, I might even support him for president," Lieberman told a conference call of Connecticut reporters. "But now in the midst of this series of crises, John McCain is simply so much better prepared that that's who I am proud to support."

Lieberman also said that if McCain doesn't, "I'm going to do everything I can to be bringing people ... together across party lines to support the new president so he can succeed."

This seems like a serious change of pace, to say the least, for Lieberman to be talking about how much he likes Obama and how he could potentially support him for president down the road. Indeed, it invites questions about what might have prompted Lieberman's change of tone.

Lieberman, Lieberman. I have had about enough of Joe Lieberman. I find him to be so completely full of it that I don't even know what to say anymore.

It started with Iraq, I guess. I'll always respect a person's right to believe what he or she chooses to believe, even if it's something as toxic and terrible as the Iraq War. But Joe Lieberman is a smart guy. He ran as the Democratic nominee for VP in 2000, and it made me proud that, as the product of a Jewish family, he had ascended to such a high place in our society.

I suppose that, because I once felt some kind of affection and connection with him, I am more disgusted with him now. His continued support of McCain - and his outwardly negative treatment of Obama, no matter what he says - has enraged me. He's still a Democrat on everything but Iraq, and has decided to base his 2008 presidential endorsement entirely on the basis of foreign policy. But McCain's judgment regarding Iraq was and is so wrong, and his behavior regarding everything in general is erratic and frightening, and yet Lieberman has refused to budge.

For crying out loud, Obama now has Colin Powell, Doug Kmiec, Michael Smerconish, Christopher Buckley, Susan Eisenhower, Christopher Hitchens, Ken Adelman and God knows how many other conservatives in his corner. They all cite the same reasons: temperament and Palin. But Lieberman, stupid Lieberman, still bases his decision solely on Iraq. If you're gonna make a choice for president based on one sole criterion, fine, that's your prerogative. But if that's the case, at least get it right. And Lieberman is just flat-out wrong.

Frum's Advice

Former Bush speechwriter David Frum rails against McCain's "awful" (his words) campaign and makes the case that it is hurting the GOP's already-tenuous holds on its Senate seats up for re-election. He advises Republicans to essentially give up on the White House and devote their energies to salvaging as many Senate seats as possible:
The best bulwark for a nonpolitical finance system and a national culture of open debate will be the strongest possible Republican caucus in the Senate. And it is precisely that strength that is being cannibalized now by the flailing end of the McCain-Palin campaign.

Al Gore Syndrome

Al Gore Syndrome (n.): a condition in which the presidential candidate from a major political party fails to win his home state in the general election and that perhaps contributes to his loss in the Electoral College.

Apparently there's a poll that shows McCain losing ground in Arizona - his home state. Gore lost Tennessee in 2000 and, with it, the presidency. Could the same happen to Johnny Mac this year?

A Series Worth Watching

The Phillies-Rays World Series is sure to be a snooze in the ratings, but in the three games thus far, it has made for some really, really good baseball.

Wacky, Wonderful

Jayson Stark recaps last night's incredible Game 3 of the World Series, which gave the Phillies a 2-1 series lead:
The Phillies now hold a 2-1 lead in this Series. They lead it even though they're hitting .061 (2-for-33) with runners in scoring position. They lead it even though neither of those two hits left the infield, and one of them didn't even score a run.

They lead it even though their late-inning defensive replacement has produced more runs than their leadoff hitter. And they lead it even though they've allowed that team they're playing to score eight consecutive runs, over two games, on plays that included either an out or an error.

"It's a funny game," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said when this insanity was over. "That's how the game goes."
It is indeed a funny game. And it'd be downright hilarious if the Phils not only win the Series, but win it while continuing their team-wide ridiculousness of the first three games. 2-for-33 with runners in scoring position?!? This is arguably the best offensive team in the National League!

Of course, the only thing more incredible than 2-for-33 is the fact that, despite it all, the Phillies are winning.


I've waited a long time for this, and this Series is certainly not disappointing in terms of sheer entertainment value. Everything has been unpredictable and exciting - just the way it should be, in fact.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Lautenberg for Senate (NJ)

So says The New York Times:
Mr. Lautenberg has been an effective champion of banning smoking on domestic airlines and in other public places. He continues to push for reasonable restrictions on gun ownership and improved protections against terrorism at chemical plants. After years advocating for public transportation, Mr. Lautenberg scored an important victory when his bill nearly doubling Amtrak’s inadequate annual $1 billion subsidy became law.
Lautenberg, a Democrat, will win easily. Again. And the alternative is a Republican named Dick Zimmer, so Lautenberg probably should win. (Ouch. I take it back. Kinda.) But the fact remains that Lautenberg, at 84, makes John McCain look like as young and spry as a Chinese gymnast. If elected to another six-year term in the Senate, he'll be 90 by the time it ends... if he even makes it.

I am not a fan of having old-as-dirt politicians hanging out in the Senate for life. I'm not talking about guys like Joe Biden, who's been there for 35 years but in his mid-60s, or McCain, who's 72. I'm talking about guys like Lautenberg and Bob Byrd, legend that he is, who are past 80 and still getting re-elected. It's crazy! For what job other than one of the most important jobs in government would an 84 year-old person even be considered? It makes no sense, people. No sense.

Then again, it's the United States Congress, so the fact that it makes no sense actually makes perfect sense. Or something like that.

McCain's Uphill Battle in PA

"If you look at cold hard numbers, in order for McCain to win Pennsylvania, he is going to have to win at least 15% of the Democratic vote, 95% of the Republican vote and 60% of the independent vote. We believe McCain is losing independents by about 20 points right now in Pennsylvania, so he would need a 40 point swing." -David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager.

Mac Pissing Off Undecideds

A great anecdote from an undecided, formerly Republican couple in New Mexico:

"Bush has been very disappointing and I thought maybe there was some hope in McCain but quite frankly it's the same saber rattling, just a different century, and it's disappointing," said Mr. Kochansky. "I want to hear about what he can do for us middle class people. I want specific ideas. I want some specificity to a political plan. Right now it's more negative. It's what Obama's going to do to us but not what he's telling us. He votes for this package for the congressional bailout but then he blames the Democrats."

The pair also said they were surprised that the turnout for today's event, attended by less than a thousand people, was so small.
McCain is running solely on a platform of "Obama sucks," and not on his own merits. He can't; he has none. It is refreshing that people from Albuquerque to Akron seem to be embracing hope over fear this time around.

How She Nails It

Tina Fey glues her ears down in order to effectively portray Sarah Palin.

Thoughts From the Alternate Universe

Mark R. Levin at The Corner:
I've been thinking this for a while so I might as well air it here. I honestly never thought we'd see such a thing in our country - not yet anyway - but I sense what's occurring in this election is a recklessness and abandonment of rationality that has preceded the voluntary surrender of liberty and security in other places. I can't help but observe that even some conservatives are caught in the moment as their attempts at explaining their support for Barack Obama are unpersuasive and even illogical. And the pull appears to be rather strong. Ken Adelman, Doug Kmiec, and others, reach for the usual platitudes in explaining themselves but are utterly incoherent. Even non-conservatives with significant public policy and real world experiences, such as Colin Powell and Charles Fried, find Obama alluring but can't explain themselves in an intelligent way. There is a cult-like atmosphere around Barack Obama, which his campaign has carefully and successfully fabricated, which concerns me. The messiah complex. Fainting audience members at rallies. Special Obama flags and an Obama presidential seal. A graphic with the portrayal of the globe and Obama's name on it, which adorns everything from Obama's plane to his street literature. Young school children singing songs praising Obama. Teenagers wearing camouflage outfits and marching in military order chanting Obama's name and the professions he is going to open to them. An Obama world tour, culminating in a speech in Berlin where Obama proclaims we are all citizens of the world. I dare say, this is ominous stuff. Even the media are drawn to the allure that is Obama. Yes, the media are liberal. Even so, it is obvious that this election is different. The media are open and brazen in their attempts to influence the outcome of this election. I've never seen anything like it. Virtually all evidence of Obama's past influences and radicalism — from Jeremiah Wright to William Ayers — have been raised by non-traditional news sources. The media's role has been to ignore it as long as possible, then mention it if they must, and finally dismiss it and those who raise it in the first place. It's as if the media use the Obama campaign's talking points — its preposterous assertions that Obama didn't hear Wright from the pulpit railing about black liberation, whites, Jews, etc., that Obama had no idea Ayers was a domestic terrorist despite their close political, social, and working relationship, etc. — to protect Obama from legitimate and routine scrutiny. And because journalists have also become commentators, it is hard to miss their almost uniform admiration for Obama and excitement about an Obama presidency. So in the tank are the media for Obama that for months we've read news stories and opinion pieces insisting that if Obama is not elected president it will be due to white racism. And, of course, while experience is crucial in assessing Sarah Palin's qualifications for vice president, no such standard is applied to Obama's qualifications for president. (No longer is it acceptable to minimize the work of a community organizer.) Charles Gibson and Katie Couric sought to humiliate Palin. They would never and have never tried such an approach with Obama. But beyond the elites and the media, my greatest concern is whether this election will show a majority of the voters susceptible to the appeal of a charismatic demagogue. This may seem a harsh term to some, and no doubt will to Obama supporters, but it is a perfectly appropriate characterization. Obama's entire campaign is built on class warfare and human envy. The "change" he peddles is not new. We've seen it before. It is change that diminishes individual liberty for the soft authoritarianism of socialism. It is a populist appeal that disguises government mandated wealth redistribution as tax cuts for the middle class, falsely blames capitalism for the social policies and government corruption (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) that led to the current turmoil in our financial markets, fuels contempt for commerce and trade by stigmatizing those who run successful small and large businesses, and exploits human imperfection as a justification for a massive expansion of centralized government. Obama's appeal to the middle class is an appeal to the "the proletariat," as an infamous philosopher once described it, about which a mythology has been created. Rather than pursue the American Dream, he insists that the American Dream has arbitrary limits, limits Obama would set for the rest of us — today it's $250,000 for businesses and even less for individuals. If the individual dares to succeed beyond the limits set by Obama, he is punished for he's now officially "rich." The value of his physical and intellectual labor must be confiscated in greater amounts for the good of the proletariat (the middle class). And so it is that the middle class, the birth-child of capitalism, is both celebrated and enslaved — for its own good and the greater good. The "hope" Obama represents, therefore, is not hope at all. It is the misery of his utopianism imposed on the individual. Unlike past Democrat presidential candidates, Obama is a hardened ideologue. He's not interested in playing around the edges. He seeks "fundamental change," i.e., to remake society. And if the Democrats control Congress with super-majorities led by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, he will get much of what he demands. The question is whether enough Americans understand what's at stake in this election and, if they do, whether they care. Is the allure of a charismatic demagogue so strong that the usually sober American people are willing to risk an Obama presidency? After all, it ensnared Adelman, Kmiec, Powell, Fried, and numerous others. And while America will certainly survive, it will do so, in many respects, as a different place.
This is, simply put, the most ludicrously untruthful thing I've ever read. It's stranger than fiction.

Obama a "hardened ideologue?" A "charismatic demagogue?" Colin Powell can't explain himself "in an intelligent way?" "Misery of his utopianism?"

It's sad to see intelligent, otherwise normal people continue to be married to the lunacy of the Republican agenda even in the face of one disaster after another. They cannot accept that they might lose, that they might get crushed, to the skinny black guy with the funny name, a guy who has been proven right again and again by events here and abroad, a guy who in 10 days might symbolize the catalyst for the epic fall of American conservatism.

Republicans can't defend their failure, so they try to bash Obama. It has yet to work. They have 10 days left to make it work. And assuming it doesn't, they will go down in defeat, and it will be richly, richly deserved.

Lieberman on Palin

"Thank God she's not gonna have to be president on day one."

True, but what a douchebag.


That's how some of the Phillies' reserve players feel, after only the starting lineup was announced before Game 1 of the World Series.

It's tradition that both starters and reserve players and coaches get announced and line up on the field before the first game of the Fall Classic. Guys like Matt Stairs, who's in his 40s and is playing in the World Series for the first time, were bitterly disappointed - even angry - to find out their names wouldn't be announced.

FOX says they don't want to push back the start time of the game any further. Fine. Then don't spend half an hour on the lame-ass pre-game show with Jeanne Zelasko and Kevin Kennedy. I don't think there's a soul alive who would complain if FOX scrapped the pre-game BS. Give guys like Matt Stairs their due. It's about the players, and they deserve to be rewarded for the accomplishment of reaching the World Series.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Through the Ages

The New York Times chronicles each of its presidential endorsements, starting with the very first: Abraham Lincoln in 1860.

The Times endorsed Obama yesterday.

Gold Star Winner: October 24, 2008

James Carville
Democratic Political Guru
CNN Contributor


"The reason the Republicans found Joe the Plumber was to find someone hanging around a toilet other than Larry Craig."

So funny I'll spell it out for ya: LAUGHING. MY. ASS OFF.

Bachmann Begs for a Second Chance

I obviously find this woman to be a complete monster. But I'm also a conscientious and forgiving person. This kind of ad, if done correctly, could go a long way towards rehabilitating Bachmann's image. It's pretty simple, actually: just say "I'm sorry."

Bachmann, wild-eyed, Bush-loving wacko that she is, is of course unable to do that. She only vaguely acknowledges her disgusting words - this after her statement earlier this week blaming Chris Matthews for somehow forcing her into saying stupid things.

She should have gone a lot farther. If she had done so, I would have given her credit for it. But without some kind of decent, humane acknowledgment that she regrets her vile behavior, she will get no credit from me, nor does she deserve any.

Bachmann's Losing

A new poll from Minnesota's Sixth District has her down 47-44 to Mr. Tinklenberg.

All I gotta say is, karma's a bitch, baby!

You can donate to her challenger here.

Times Have Changed

So have you noticed how the Republicans' hysteria over "OBAMA IS A SOCIALIST AND HE WILL RAISE YOUR TAXES!!!!!!!" is not only fake, but ineffective? Yeah, I've noticed too.

In the NBC News/WSJ poll out earlier this week, it showed Obama - a Democrat - winning on the issue of taxes by 14 points. Remarkable. And now here's this Dan Balz article from today's WaPo about this phenomenon.

By most accounts, Obama has a huge lead on the issues of the economy, jobs and health care, and has basically pulled even on taxes and the "strong leader" metrics. If that holds, this could be a blowout, my friends.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Scenes From "The West Wing"

Early Birds Get the Worm...

...and, if conventional wisdom holds, they're voting for Obama in big numbers:
So far, it appears that the Obama campaign's drive to get people to the polls in October is paying off, at least according to data from several swing states that track voter demographics: More than 55 percent of early voters in Georgia were female, for instance, and more than 35 percent were African-American; in North Carolina, fewer than a third of those who voted early identified themselves as Republicans; and more than 60 percent of first-day early voters in Clark County, Nev., were Democrats.

"These numbers are really astounding — they defy all the patterns of early voting we've seen in this modern era," McDonald said. Based on past elections, he explained, "the early electorate tends to be more Republican in their character than the Election Day electorate."
Fingers crossed.

The Sarah Palin Show?

Depending on the outcome of the election, it could be on television soon:
But as more and more polls cast doubt on the McCain-Palin ticket, producers and agents across the entertainment world are discussing possibilities for capitalizing on her fame, ranging from an Oprah-style syndicated talk show to a Sean Hannity-like perch in cable news or on radio.

"Any television person who sees the numbers when she appears on anything would say Sarah Palin would be great," said veteran morning-show producer Steve Friedman, citing the double-digit ratings gains her appearances on "Saturday Night Live" and "CBS Evening News" generated. "The passion she has on each side, love and hate, makes television people say, 'Wow, imagine the viewership.' "
I have no doubt the show would be an immense hit, especially in that oft-romanticized land known as "middle America."

Over here in Latte Land, however, you couldn't pay me enough to watch that woman on her own TV show. Give me a break. I'd rather watch paint dry.

Well, actually, I'd rather watch Barack Obama hold news conferences in the White House Rose Garden, but you know what I mean.

Recycling the Garbage

Josh Marshall has a great analysis of these final dark days of the McCain campaign:
As the McCain campaign staggers toward its conclusion, with electoral columns and pediments standing since 1966 buckling under their weight, the party seems to be cycling back through its history of character assassination, McCarthyism and wedge politics flimflam, only now with an desperate and parodic impotence taking the place of punishing rhetorical violence.

Southern strategy race-baiting, check! Hyper 9/11ist 'the Dems are terrorists' character assassination, check! Rep. Michelle Bachmann's neo-McCarthyite manifesto and call for a new HUAC, check! 'The Democrats want to bring socialism to America', check! Who lost Georgia? Aspirational neo-Cold Warism, check! Mix these in with a general stew of 70s-90s soft-on-crime, Dems are pedophile weirdo-freak-loser wedge politics and we've basically got the full ground covered.

It's true. It seems like, every day, the McCain camp has some new and ridiculous thing with which to smear Obama: elitist, inexperienced, celebrity, Bill Ayers, socialism... we've seen a whole litany of crap during this campaign.

But I think Marshall is right in the sense that it does feel like we've seen it all before - only, this time, the shit ain't working. McCain keeps screaming "TERRORIST!" and "SOCIALIST!" and "ELITIST!" at the top of his lungs - but all to no avail (at least thus far). There is no evidence that it is working - in fact, even more incredibly, it seems like it's hurting McCain!

If Obama wins, it will be a total repudiation of these terrible Rovian/Nixonian politics. We may soon have a Democrat in the White House, an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress and a Republican Party, beaten at their own game, out of touch and out of power. In more ways that one, this would be a wonderful thing for our country in this time of crisis.

Gold Star Winner: October 23, 2008

Scott McClellan
Former White House Press Secretary
Author, What Happened

I'm lukewarm at best when it comes to Scott McClellan. I appreciate that he wrote his book bashing the Bush administration for being royally fucked up... but, like, where was he in 2003 and 2004? I, for one, knew they were corrupt ages ago. So did a lot of people. It would have been truly heroic if he had said, back when he was working for Bush, that enough was enough and he couldn't take lying anymore. But he didn't, and I won't forgive him for that, even if he did write a book about it... several years later... which he made a shitload of money off of...

I digress. McClellan gets the Gold Star today for becoming the latest reformed Bush backer to endorse Obama:

"From the very beginning I have said I am going to support the candidate that has the best chance for changing the way Washington works and getting things done and I will be voting for Barack Obama and clapping."

Me too, Scott. Nicely done.

A Bloom For All Seasons

The New York City Council voted 29-22 today in favor of extending term limits to three four-year terms instead of two. This means that Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be able to run again next year.

Okay. I like Bloomberg. A lot, actually. He has done a really good job as mayor of New York City, in my mind, at least. So would I be cool with having him for an extra four years? Yeah, I could live with that. But my problem with these shenanigans really doesn't have anything to do with Bloomberg; it has to do with the precedent.

There is a dangerous precedent we're setting here. Multiple times in recent years, New York City residents have voted - overwhelmingly - against extending term limits. Mike Bloomberg decided he wanted to stay, the City Council decided they wanted to stay, so they decided together to change the law - away from the scrutiny of the ballot box.

We can't have our politicians deciding they want more time in office, ignoring the limits set by their constituents and then just going out and changing laws that allow them to stay in power. It's true that, come 2009, voters could kick Bloomberg out of office - but, again, that's besides the point. It's not Bloomberg, it's the precedent this sets. Even if Mikey loses next November, he will have signaled to other high-profile (and low-profile) elected officials across our country that this is the type of thing that politicians can do in America and come out of it relatively unscathed.

I'm still registered in New Jersey, but if I'm registered in the Big Apple next November, I will be voting against Mike Bloomberg based purely on principle. I'll be pissed off doing it, but he left me no choice. Literally.

Everybody Wants a Daniel

Or, at least, everyone's got one in New York City, or something like that:


Yes, Daniel was 2007's most popular male baby name in New York City. I feel like it's Michael every year, so it's nice to come out on top, for once.

For those of you who are into this kind of thing, Daniel is Hebrew for "The Lord is my Judge" or "God is my Judge."

Meanwhile: Jayden? #2? Really?

Obama Nation? Try Obama World

Here's a snippet of a conversation Nicholas Kristof had with a friend in China (from today's NY Times):

She: Obama? But he’s the black man, isn’t he?

Me: Yes, exactly.

She: But surely a black man couldn’t become president of the United States?

Me: It looks as if he’ll be elected.

She: But president? That’s such an important job! In America, I thought blacks were janitors and laborers.

Me: No, blacks have all kinds of jobs.

She: What do white people think about that, about getting a black president? Are they upset? Are they angry?

Me: No, of course not! If Obama is elected, it’ll be because white people voted for him.

[Long pause.]

She: Really? Unbelievable! What an amazing country!

I never think of Obama as being black, or being mixed, or whatever. For me, race was never a factor. I suspect that's true of most people who will end up voting for him, because here we are with 12 days to go and Barack Hussein Obama, a black first-term senator from Illinois, is the prohibitive favorite to become the next president.

If Obama is elected, I think it's truly one of the most significant occurrences - if not the most significant - in the history of Western politics, at least from a pure symbolic standpoint. Think about it: when Barack Obama was born, segregation still existed in many parts of this country. Obama is 47 years old. 46 years ago - in his lifetime - the University of Mississippi opened its doors to a man named James Meredith, becoming the first university in the South to admit a black man. Last month, that same university hosted a presidential debate in which a black man took part.


For a variety of reasons, these are extraordinary times. From a pure historical standpoint, it would make sense for America, in an unprecedented economic and international quagmire, to pin its fortunes on a young man, running on a platform of hope and unity, who symbolizes that maybe, just maybe, the American Dream is still possible - even in the unlikeliest of places.

This is no longer a Democratic thing, or a Republican thing, or whatever. This is about a huge step that America can take for itself and for the world. The excitement and exhilaration over an Obama victory would reverberate worldwide. A black man as president of the United States?

It could happen. And we'll find out for certain in 12 days.

LOST Season 5 Trailer

Oh sweet Jesus:

The Dream Lives... the Phillies win Game 1.

3 more wins, and the Philadelphia Phillies will be World Series Champions.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Gold Star Winner: October 22, 2008

Leon Wieseltier
Literary Editor of The New Republic

Today's Gold Star came out of left field. Well, actually, it was an article on The New Republic's website, but you know what I mean.

Here was Wieseltier speaking about the McCain/Palin fiasco:

"McCain feels with his heart, but he thinks with his base. And when he picked Sarah Palin, he told the United States of America to go fuck itself."

This is, without a doubt, the best description of the Palin selection that I've heard. Way to go, Mr. Wieseltier.

(Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan)

More Economic Fallout

LinkBecause of the global economic crisis, the EU is considering scrapping its current agreement to scale back emissions 20% by 2020:
The disagreement predates the global financial turmoil that threatens to cause a prolonged economic downturn. But as Hungary's currency crumbles, stocks hover at alarming lows in Poland and real estate prices plummet in Slovenia, the depth of malaise in the east has given greater urgency to New Europe's calls for scaling back planned emission curbs.

Their push worries environmental activists. They question whether eastern Europe's post-communist commitment to the environment is shallow, with leaders happy for the opportunity to rechannel resources into bolstering pensions, boosting employment and lowering inflation.

This distresses me. I get the economic anxieties of the poorer, predominantly eastern European nations. But the climate crisis is something that transcends even the global economy. It is a disaster - and a looming, potentially even-greater disaster - of truly epic proportions, and we must do everything we can to stop it for ourselves and for future generations, even if that means some economic hard times in the present.

No Picnic for Palin in the Garden State

Tom Kean, the former governor of my home state of New Jersey, thinks Palin is hurting McCain there.

I'd be inclined to agree with that. The thing with Miss Wasilla is that she appeals to one type of person: ruby red, Jesus-loving, not-serious-about-foreign-policy-or-national-security conservatives. Here's part of what Kean had to say:
"I don't know whether it's cultural, political or issue-oriented. She seems to not do well in places like New Jersey, New England and California, and very, very well when it comes to the Midwest in the south," he said. "She probably hurts in New Jersey and helps in other states."
I think it's cultural, political and issue-oriented. Palin is extremely socially conservative (almost ridiculously so), was a pure political stunt and doesn't know much about anything outside of how to run Alaska (and even that is stretching it). This is a toxic combination for New Jerseyans, who can be relative moderates fiscally and on foreign policy but are absolutely socially liberal. Remember: New Jersey is one of only five states where gay people can enter into either a civil union or marriage.

Republicans can win in New Jersey. Tom Kean is a great example. Christie Whitman's another one. And McCain in 2000 would have had a great shot, and could have been competitive this year if he had picked a running mate like Joe Lieberman or Tom Ridge, both of whom are well-known to New Jerseyans as their states are close by and share media markets with the Garden State. If you're moderate on the economy and relatively socially liberal, you can win as a Republican. But it's the cultural issues - that die-hard, no-holds-barred, fanatical obsession with the Bible over all other things - that prevent modern Republicans from winning statewide office in New Jersey (and other places in the Northeast).

For years, the Republicans have been great at exploiting the culture wars. Terrific. That gave us two terms of George W. Bush and, now, Sarah Palin. But the GOP has ceded the Northeast for a generation, and it's because of these social issues. People just aren't motivated by the psychotically conservative religious shit as much up here.

Such elitists, right?

GOP Pulling Ads From Bachmann Race

Yup.  Just a few short days after her appearance on Hardball, Michele Bachmann's own party is abandoning her bid for re-election in Minnesota's Sixth District.

This woman needs to go the way of George Allen, Rick Santorum and other pig-headed, bigoted Americans - OUT of Congress.  The hallowed halls of the Capitol do not deserve to be tainted by Michele Bachmann any longer.

You can donate to her challenger here.  (He's raised over a million dollars since Friday, by the way.)

Al Qaeda Wants McCain to Win

They say so themselves:

In an endorsement that will not be welcomed by Mr McCain's flagging campaign, the group said that if al-Qaeda wants to exhaust the USmilitarily and economically, the "impetuous" Republican presidential candidate is the better choice.

"This requires presence of an impetuous American leader such as McCain, who pledged to continue the war till the last American soldier," the message said.

"Then, al-Qaeda will have to support McCain in the coming elections so that he continues the failing march of his predecessor, Bush."

There should no longer be any doubt that Obama is the candidate who is more likely to keep this country safe.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

So Much for "Tightening"

The new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released tonight:
With two weeks to go until Election Day, Obama now leads his Republican rival by 10 points among registered voters, 52 to 42 percent, up from 49 to 43 percent two weeks ago.

Obama’s current lead is also fueled by his strength among independent voters (topping McCain 49 to 37 percent), suburban voters (53 to 41), Catholics (50 to 44) and white women (49 to 45).

In early September, after the Republican National Convention, McCain was ahead with independents and Catholics, and narrowly trailed Obama among suburban voters.

And what does the survey say about Palin? Well, for one thing, she has become voters' TOP CONCERN regarding the McCain candidacy. There's more:

Fifty-five percent of respondents say she’s not qualified to serve as president if the need arises, up five points from the previous poll.

In addition, for the first time, more voters have a negative opinion of her than a positive one. In the survey, 47 percent view her negatively, versus 38 percent who see her in a positive light.

That’s a striking shift since McCain chose Palin as his running mate in early September, when she held a 47 to 27 percent positive rating.

A complete and utter reversal. I would call it "stunning," but it's not, given that she possesses not one iota's worth of what it takes to serve as President or Vice President. More still:

Forty-eight percent say they have confidence in Obama serving as commander in chief, which is nearly identical to the 50 percent who said the same of McCain.

A month ago, however, just 42 percent said they were confident in Obama’s commander in chief abilities, compared with 53 percent for McCain.

A Democrat running even with a Republican on the commander-in-chief question? Oh, boy. Not good news, Johnny Mac.

There's still time left, of course - time for McCain to come back, time for us to blow it, time for a whole host of things to occur. But right now, at this moment, these numbers - and the numbers from other pollsters - look very, very good.

Cross your fingers. Don't get overconfident. Take action. Volunteer. Vote.

And hope.

Gold Star Winner: October 21, 2008

Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL)
Big John McCain Supporter

Today, Gov. Crist was asked if he thought Sarah Palin would attract undecideds to the Republican ticket.

His answer?

"I think we both know the answer to that. But there's no question she fired up the base."

Honesty! From a John McCain surrogate!

I'll tell ya... you live long enough and anything can happen.

Congrats, Charlie.

Obama Phlip-Phlopping?

On the Phillies?

That's what McCain says.

Once his hometown White Sox were eliminated from the baseball playoffs, Obama decided to root for the Phillies, the favorite team of his campaign manager, David Plouffe (as well as yours truly, of course). But here's Obama in Tampa, home of the AL champions and the team that ousted the White Sox, on Monday:
“I want to just make the point I’ve said from the beginning that I am a unity candidate, bringing people together,” Obama told the crowd. “So when you see a White Sox fan showing love to the Rays, and the Rays showing some love back, you know we’re on to something right here.”
It doesn't sound to me like he's switching horses, though as usual McCain wants us to think something that's not true, even if it's something relatively trivial.

Mac Ain't Got No Ground Game

At least not according to Chuck Todd:
"There is no ground game," Joe Scarborough responded. Todd agreed, adding that Democrats were already doing better in early voting, based on ballot requests. "The ground game, it is just absent from the McCain campaign ... At this point, the only state that I feel good about for McCain is Ohio." He posited that McCain could win that state but lose the election, which would be "very frustrating to Republicans."
Let's just hope there's no GOP voter fraud (or not enough that it sways the election) and no Bradley Effect.

14 days.

Fingers crossed fingers crossed fingers crossed fingers crossed.

Michele Bachmann Responds

In case you missed it, Rep. Michele Bachmann's Democratic challenger raised over $600,000 in the 48 hours after Bachmann's disgusting Hardball appearance Friday night. Today, Bachmann took to the pages of the Politico to respond to the uproar over her comments:
In a matter of 48 hours after I participated in an interview with Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” more than $640,000 from donors across the country flooded into my opponent’s campaign. Almost to a one, these are people who never would have considered voting for me if they lived in Minnesota. In fact, most of them have probably never voted for a Republican. These are strong supporters of Barack Obama who want to see more liberal policies enacted in Washington.
Yes, I suppose this is true. But I really like her choice of wording for the last night: "strong supporters of Barack Obama who want to see more liberal policies enacted in Washington." The Democrats have been in power of Congress for less than two years, and thanks to a stupid and stubborn President, have accomplished, well, nothing. There were some minor victories, like the minimum wage. That's "liberal." And I suppose you could call the $700 billion bailout "liberal" ... even though Bachmann's Republican buddy, President Bush, and his treasury secretary were the guys who came up with such a "liberal" policy. Here's more of Bachmann's statement:
Despite the way the blogs and the Democratic Party are spinning it, I never called all liberals anti-American, I never questioned Barack Obama’s patriotism, and I never asked for some House Un-American Activities Committee witch hunt into my colleagues in Congress.
I guess "the blogs and the Democratic Party" would include Gen. Colin Powell, virtually the entire media establishment and anyone with half a freakin' brain - or two working ears. Bachmann may not have called all liberals anti-American, but she certainly insinuated there were some residing in Congress. She may not have said the words "Barack Obama is not patriotic," but she questioned his associations and worried aloud that he was anti-American. How could one be patriotic and anti-American at the same time? It seems to me that, if one is anti-American, one is not patriotic. Duh. And she may not have used the words "House Un-American Activities Committee" or "witch hunt," but she absolutely, positively called for the media to investigate which members of Congress are pro-America and which members of Congress aren't. That sounds a lot like HUAC to me.
Why isn’t it appropriate to ask about the formative relationships he’s had? The types of relationships that may have influenced Barack Obama’s views on public policy and on government decision making? Why is the media more intent on learning the type of plumbing license Joe the Plumber has than on exploring the obvious questions about Barack Obama’s formative relationships with people such as the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers — people with views far outside the mainstream, where most voters find themselves?
It is appropriate to talk about the formative relationships Obama has had. And you know something? Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers surfaced way back in the spring. People have learned about them, and about their relationships, or lack thereof, to Obama. They have made their informed judgments about them, and they still elected Obama the Democratic presidential nominee, and he is still leading in every single national poll, and in most of the battleground states.

I keep hearing Republicans complain that "we don't know the full story" about Obama's "radical associations." Actually, we do. With Ayers, there was never a close relationship. With Wright, there was obviously a close relationship, but Republicans have chosen to cherry-pick a few outrageous - and, yes, they were outrageous - comments made over decades of preaching in order to demonize a man who has done a lot of good for his country and his community. Wright was a Marine, has done a lot of charity work and has even been invited to the White House. This is not a man who "hates America." This is a man who, unlike Republicans, is an adult and, yeah, he's pissed off at America for not always coming through on its promise to deliver the American Dream to all its citizens, particularly those less fortunate.

But Bachmann and her compatriots on the right only want people to see the distorted version of Obama's associations that they see. They don't care about the truth - or, at least, Michele Bachmann certainly doesn't. Her pathetic explanation - which came in a statement, not in a press conference (probably too afraid to face that liberal elite media!) - is nonsensical and ignorant. She did say offensive things that were stupid, wrong and despicable. Michele Bachmann and her fanatical, close-minded, let's-not-ever-question-America-for-any-reason view of the world have no place in our political discourse. The least she could have done was say, "You know what? I screwed up, and I'm sorry. My words came out wrong. By no means did I mean to insinuate that some people were less American than others."

But, like John McCain, who preaches "Country First" while trying to scare and deceive his way into the presidency, Bachmann doesn't get it. It's not Country First. It's Bachmann First. And with any luck, come November 4th, Bachmann will come in second.

You can donate to her challenger here.

Good riddance.

14 Days Out

And still plenty of time to worry, and to fuck it all up. Bob Shrum soothes the collective Democratic anxiety:
Perhaps for Democrats, the dark night of doubt is inevitable before victory dawns. But a study of the election state by state reveals McCain has a virtually impossible tight rope walk to victory while Obama has five or six different avenues to win—some of which are veritable boulevards. Not a single one of the states won by John Kerry in 2004 is even close. In addition, Obama leads, in the Real Clear Politics average of the latest polls, in nine states won by George W. Bush in 2004, including Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Colorado and Nevada. Even in Missouri Obama has a small advantage, and he’s only slightly behind in three other Bush states. As former Reagan and Huckabee campaign manager Ed Rollins puts it, McCain has to “draw an inside straight” to win this game.
True, Shrum has never worked on a winning presidential campaign, but he's probably right. Barring something unforeseen or some massive Bradley Effect

(Knock on wood.)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Gold Star Winner: October 20, 2008

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)
2004 Democratic Presidential Nominee

Here's Kerry today, alluding to the memorable question asked to Bill Clinton in 1992, which apparently Obama was asked today.

"Barack got asked the famous boxers or briefs question. I was tempted to say commando."

Prolly. Congrats, Senator Kerry. You finally won something!


Could She Get Any Worse?

This kind of bullshit has no place in our Constitution, and Sarah Palin has no place in our federal government:

Will Republicans Steal Another Election?

It looks like they could.

Scenes From "The West Wing"

The Weirdest World Series in History

About a year ago, I wrote a Facebook note called "The Colorado Rockies are the 2007 National League Champions." And at that point in time, I thought it was the absolute weirdest thing ever to happen during my life as a baseball fan.

Well, shit just got weirder.

The Phillies, the team of 10,000 losses, will play the Rays, the team that used to be the Devil Rays. So basically baseball's historical laughingstock will play the laughingstock of the past 10 years.



How many people foresaw a Phillies/Rays matchup in the World Series before this season began?

Right now, someone in Vegas is filthy rich, I bet. And I can't get over how stunned I am.

The second Papi hit that homer in Game 5, I thought the Red Sox were gonna pull it out. I really did. I'm shocked that they didn't - and shocked that they lost to the Rays. Can't believe it. Ridiculous. Impossible. The only thing that makes it even more insane is the fact that, now that the Rays have won, they're going to play the PHILLIES.

The PHILLIES!!!! Playing the RAYS!!!! IN THE WORLD SERIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, anything's possible, I guess. What's gonna happen next season? My money's on a Nationals/Mariners World Series. And even that wouldn't be as weird as THIS.

But, nevertheless, Phils: I hope you kick the crap out of these clowns. Welcome to the majors, Tampa. Finally.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

News From the Department of "Holy Shit!"

Obama raised more than $150 million in September alone.

That's almost twice as much as McCain has available to spend for the entire general election campaign.

What the Powell Endorsement Means (Updated)

Mark Halperin:
The decision is not only symbolic but, in terms of timing, one of great tactical importance. Powell is a brand unto himself in American politics, and clearly transcends the media's tendency to hype endorsements more than their actual importance to voters. However, the indisputable benefit that Powell brings Obama is that the former Secretary of State and general is sure to block out any chance McCain has of winning the next two or three days of news coverage, as the media swoons over the implications of the choice. It is simple political math: McCain has 15 days to close a substantial gap, and he will now lose at least one fifth of his total remaining time.
Marc Ambinder:
Powell is a "man who I admire as much as anyone in the world," McCain has said. He was an informal adviser to the campaign early on. And the content of the endorsement acknowledges what McCain's accomplished, studies it, and judges that it is insufficient for the modern world. (Powell is closer to McCain than Obama on Iraq.) McCain would be a maverick, Powell says, but America needs a transformation figure.
Andrew Sullivan:
Powell is really taking a stand in defense of decent, inclusive, moderate Republicanism. It's amazing it has taken Powell to say this publicly, to stand up against the Rove machine and say enough. But it is welcome nonetheless. One more thing: Powell's endorsement of Obama is privately echoed by many moderate Republicans across the country and in Washington. It isn't about race. It's about the need to remake conservatism anew, and to restore to fiscal and foreign policy the kind of conservative prudence and restraint of Eisenhower.

Colin Powell Endorses Obama

It happened a short while ago on Meet the Press.

I'm always hesitant to put too much stock into endorsements, because, like, do they really matter that much? I guess the correct answer would be that they do matter - but only sometimes. And this feels like one of those times.

Cynics will say "Oh, he's only endorsing him because they're both black," but Powell himself put that notion to rest this morning. Obama gets the endorsement because of the "transformational" aspect of his candidacy, and because it's clearer now than ever that he is the right man at the right time for America.

Still, though, watching Powell today was really striking. To hear such an eloquent endorsement from a traditional, moderate Republican and well-respected former general is excellent news for the Obama campaign. Powell served under both President Bush and has an admittedly deep affection for John McCain. And he's voting for Barack Obama. What does that say to you?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

John W. McCain

The new Frank Rich column:
Incredibly, McCain has nakedly endorsed the Bush-Rove brand of governance in his own campaign by assembling his personal set of lobbyist cronies and Rove operatives to run it. They have not only entangled him in a welter of conflicts of interest, but they’ve furthered cynical political stunts like the elevation of Sarah Palin. At least Bush and Rove didn’t try to put an unqualified hack like, say, Alberto Gonzales half a heartbeat away from the presidency.

As if the Palin pick weren’t damning enough, McCain and his team responded to the financial panic by offering their own panicky simulation of the Bush style of crisis management in real time. Fire the S.E.C. chairman and replace him with Andrew Cuomo! Convene a 9/11 commission to save Wall Street! Don’t bail out A.I.G.! Do bail out A.I.G.! Reacting to polls and the short-term dictates of 24-hour news cycles, McCain offered as many economic-policy reboots in a month as Bush offered “Plans for Victory” during the first three years of the Iraq war.

Now McCain is trying to distract us from his humiliating managerial ineptitude by cranking up the politics of fear — another trademark Bush-Rove strategy. But the McCain camp’s quixotic effort to turn an “old washed-up terrorist” into a wedge issue as divisive as same-sex marriage is too little, too late and too tone-deaf at a time when Americans are suffering too much to indulge in 1960s culture wars. Voters want policies that might actually work rather than another pandering, cynical leader who operates mainly on the basis of his “gut” and political self-interest.

How Blue is the Golden State?

Ezra Klein digs into the political geography - and the explanation behind it - of California:

The state's political transformation in recent years has been somewhat ideological, but it's been much more demographic. Namely, it's been driven by Latino immigration. Folks think of California and conflate its politics with San Francisco and Hollywood. White, affluent, cultural liberals. But that's not why California is reliably blue. In 2004, Bush had a five percent margin among white voters. Rather, California has a hefty minority, and in particular Latino, population:

In the aggregate, whites everywhere are somewhat conservative. But in other liberal states, they really do swing left. In Washington, Kerry had a six percent advantage among whites. In Vermont, he had an 18 percent advantage. Those are very liberal states. California, by contrast, is a very Democratic state, but somewhat less coherently liberal. It's solid blue because Latinos are solid blue, not because the place is packed with liberals. Nationally, California is defined by San Francisco and Hollywood, but its politics, for better or worse, really aren't driven by that mindset.

Worst Members of Congress

Esquire compiles a list of the ten worst members of Congress. Joe Lieberman, Michele Bachman and Ted Stevens all made the list - and how richly deserved.

Scenes From "The West Wing"

New Feature Alert!

Periodically from now on (translation: whenever I feel like it), I will be posting clips from my favorite television show of all time, NBC's brilliant, beautiful The West Wing. Jed Bartlet is still my favorite president.

Here's an immortal clip from Bartlet's 2002 presidential debate against Florida Gov. Robert Ritchie (James Brolin).

Friday, October 17, 2008

Defeat This Woman

This is Rep. Michele Bachmann, a vile woman who somehow represents the good people of Minnesota's Sixth District. Bachmann is a big fan of President Bush, doesn't believe in global warming and apparently wants to bring back Joe McCarthy's HUAC (the House Un-American Activities Committee that existed in the 1940s and 50s).


You can donate to her challenger here. I just did.

Mac Sinks Even Lower

John McCain is using the same robocall firm that helped smear him in 2000.

Les Misbarack

In case you haven't seen it yet:

Smerc Endorses Obama

That would be Michael Smerconish, a conservative talk radio host in my home city of Philadelphia:
"John McCain is an honorable man who has served his country well. But he will not get my vote. For the first time since registering as a Republican 28 years ago, I’m voting for a Democrat for president.

"I may have been an appointee in the George H.W. Bush administration, and master of ceremonies for George W. Bush in 2004, but last Saturday I stood amidst the crowd at an Obama event in North Philadelphia," says the Republican.

Smerc is one of the only honorable, intellectual conservatives left (Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Buckley, maybe-kinda-sometimes David Brooks are some others). If you find any others, let me know.

Gold Star Winner: October 17, 2008

Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA)
Bad-Ass Mothafucka

Jim Webb is worthy of a lifetime Gold Star simply for unseating the disgusting George "Macaca" Allen in 2006. We don't have those (yet) here at The 'Festo. So, for now, he is simply awarded the daily Gold Star for two quotes he gave today. In typical Jim Webb fashion, they were downright awesome.

Here's Webb speculating that McCain probably regrets the Palin pick:

"I like country music. There was a song about two years ago, 'I knew what I was doing, but what was I thinking?' John McCain is probably singing that song right now."

And here he is talking about the VP debate, in which Palin infamously asked Joe Biden "Can I call you Joe?":

“I was thinking, Joe, what you really oughta do is say, 'Yeah, you can call me whatever you want. In two months, you're gonna be calling me Mr. Vice President.'"

If Romney Had Been VP

It is now clear that Sarah Palin is a national - if not international - joke (Want proof? See this website). It seemed like a good idea when McCain first made the pick back in August, but now I'm 99.9% positive that, even if McCain wins, it will be in spite of Palin and not because of her.

So I started thinking... what if McCain had picked the guy who had been the supposed front-runner in the VP search, Mitt Romney?

Think about how the race has changed since Palin became McCain's running mate: the economy tanked, McCain has lost a ton of ground in hard-hit areas like Michigan and Pennsylvania, and the Republicans have been forced to do major damage control because of the Alaska governor (see Katie Couric, Charles Gibson, David Letterman, etc. etc. etc.). Had Romney been the running mate, McCain may very well have still been tied or even ahead right now. Here's why:
  1. Real experience. Yeah, Palin's a governor, but there were more people in Obama's State Senate district than in the entire state of Alaska. She's also been governor for fewer than two years. Executive experience my ass. But Romney was a Republican governor of a big blue state - Massachusetts - and was the highly-regarded head of Bain Capital and helped save the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. The guy's a douchebag, but that's executive experience.
  2. The economy. Even I couldn't argue that Romney doesn't know what he's talking about when it comes to the economy. Yes, he's so elitist that he makes McCain look like a bum on the street, and like I said before, he's a douchebag. But he can talk about the economy with an ease and comfort that McCain doesn't have (and Palin certainly doesn't have). McCain started losing this thing - big - once Lehman went down in mid-September and people really started realizing just how big of a hole this country is in. McCain proved to be erratic in the crisis and had Palin, a know-nothing, moose-hunting yahoo, as his backup in case something happened. Romney would have been much more reassuring as #2 to McCain, especially regarding the economy.
  3. Michigan. Romney's dad was governor of Michigan in the 1960s and, thanks to his family's strong roots there, Mitt won the state's primary in January. It's hard to imagine the McCain campaign being as many as 16 points down and pulling their apparatus out of Michigan with the state's favorite son on the ballot.
  4. Already vetted. News flash: McCain didn't vet Palin. That was a big deal, because vetting your VP is, like, kinda important, but it would have been less of a deal if Romney had been selected without having undergone much of a vetting process. Why? Because he's already been vetted - by the public. He ran for president for a year and got millions of votes (shudder). People know who he is and, while they might not uniformly like him, they are certainly bound to be more comfortable with him than with Palin.
Let me make this very clear: I think Mitt Romney is disgusting. He is a soulless, hollow shell of a human being who flip-flopped his way into national prominence. But even with all of his flaws, he would have made a vastly superior choice as McCain's running mate - for the Republicans and for our country. If (God forbid) McCain becomes President and (God forbid) something happens to him, you know what happens? President Palin. That thought keeps me up at night. And while Romney is (I'll say it again) a gigantic douchebag, he's capable and qualified. He could handle the job.

I never thought I'd say it, but I want Mitt Romney. McCain will be remembered as being stupid for not having chosen him.

The Vindication of Ed Wade

In 1998, the Phillies hired Ed Wade to be their general manager. Soft-spoken and cautious, Wade was never popular with the boisterous, blue-collar fan base in Philadelphia. It also didn't help that the Phillies routinely stunk. But, from the very beginning of his tenure, Wade paid a lot of attention to scouting, player development and the draft, through which the Phillies would quickly secure future stars like 2007 NL MVP Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell and Chase Utley.

In 2001, following the hiring of Larry Bowa as field manager, the team got off to a fast start, was in first place for much of the season and ended up finishing just two games out of the playoffs. Based on the team's 2001 success, hopes were high with each successive year, especially beginning in 2003, after the signing of All-Star first baseman Jim Thome. Despite Thome, a high-priced payroll and sky-high expectations, the Phils barely missed the playoffs in 2003, 2004 (Bowa's last season as manager), 2005 and 2006. Wade, who was fired after the 2005 season, was blamed for much of the team's failures.

Wade is now GM in Houston, and the Phillies are run by legendary GM Pat Gillick and manager Charlie Manuel. The conventional wisdom is that it's Gillick's craft moves and Manuel's soft touch that enabled the Phillies to finally make the playoffs in 2007 and reach the World Series in 2008. But, believe it or not, the nucleus of the team - Rollins, Burrell, Utley, 2006 NL MVP Ryan Howard, 2008 NLCS MVP Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Ryan Madson - was drafted and developed by none other than Ed Wade. It is thanks to his moves - and some of his non-moves, in which he could have traded away players like Utley and Hamels a few years ago for short-term fixes - that have enabled the Phillies, my Phillies to reach this point. In characteristic Ed Wade fashion, of course, he's not taking much credit:

Wade is busy trying to build a championship club in Houston, and he is far too modest to claim any credit for the success of the 2008 Phillies. His first instinct is to credit the team’s scouts and player development personnel who drafted and developed league MVPs Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, ace pitcher Cole Hamels and All-Star Chase Utley on his watch.

Yet, the 2008 Phillies are an example of what kind of team can build even if he is not willing to take credit for it.

“I just think it reinforces the point that every baseball guy will make if you ask him the same question, (and that’s) that the life blood of any organization is based in player development and scouting,” Wade said.
True. An I never thought I'd say this, but I'm saying it now: thanks, Ed. Phillies phans everywhere owe you a great deal.


The Oscars, Take II

Entertainment Weekly is gathering 7,000 Hollywood bigwigs to re-decide past Oscar races. The thinking is that, much of the time, the Academy gets it wrong (see Crash, 2005). A lot of other bullshit gets in the way - campaigning, politics, etc. - and films that end up becoming classics don't get their just due (see Citizen Kane losing to How Green Was My Valley, 1941). So now they're being redone. I love it:

Last summer, Matt Damon told EW, "The only way to judge a movie is 10 years down the line. I think they should do the Oscars that way. I wish this year we were voting on 1997." Funnily enough, EW's Sean Smith (who used to work with me at Premiere) had been thinking along the same lines: he pitched the idea of an Oscar revote to EW in July, 2007 when he was applying for the job of EW west coast bureau chief. It took this long to get this massive undertaking under way.

"Every year we talk about the effect of campaigns, and spending too much money and did they buy the Oscar, especially at the height of the Miramax era," says Smith, who was inspired by Brokeback Mountain's loss to Crash. "Would people stand by that five years later? Was it five years ahead of its time? We have all looked back and thought, 'they picked that?'" If a movie crosses time and generations and all that, does it still resonate? The object is, if you strip away everything, the campaigns, the timing, in terms of pure movie quality and performance, were the right films picked? If you voted again, would you vote the same way? It's voting without buzz."

The fact that Crash - literally one of the worst movies I have ever seen - beat Brokeback Mountain for Best Picture in 2005 will piss me off for the rest of my life. No exaggeration.

More History

For the first time in its 161-year history, the Chicago Tribune has endorsed a Democrat for president:
Many Americans say they're uneasy about Obama. He's pretty new to them.

We can provide some assurance. We have known Obama since he entered politics a dozen years ago. We have watched him, worked with him, argued with him as he rose from an effective state senator to an inspiring U.S. senator to the Democratic Party's nominee for president.

We have tremendous confidence in his intellectual rigor, his moral compass and his ability to make sound, thoughtful, careful decisions. He is ready.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Gold Star Winner: October 16, 2008

Sens. Barack Obama (D-IL) and John McCain (R-AZ)
One Of These Guys Will Be President

Tonight, the candidates spoke at the Al Smith Dinner right here in New York City. It's a white-tie, uber-exclusive charity event that also serves as a roast for the presidential candidates.

Obama and McCain are awarded a joint Gold Star tonight for delivering a series of hilarious zingers. Here are the award-winning favorites:

Obama: "I obviously never knew your grandfather (Al Smith IV), but from everything Senator McCain has told me, the two of them had a great time together before Prohibition."

McCain: "Even in this room full of proud Manhattan Democrats, I can’t shake that feeling that some people here are pulling for me. I’m delighted to see you here tonight, Hillary."

And there ya go. Boo-yeah.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Philadelphia Phillies are the 2008 National League Champions



Believe It.



3rd Debate Recap

I'm gonna make this quick, as I'm still trying to wake myself up from what was easily the most boring of the three presidential debates.

In essence, this was probably a tie, and at this point, tie goes to Obama. I thought McCain actually kinda schooled Obama at the beginning, but after the ACORN/Ayers/you're-more-negative-no-you-are! exchange, Obama really picked up. Obama was incredibly boring at the beginning, and McCain was old and cranky throughout.

In the end, I don't think this debate will do for McCain what he needed to do. He needed that "OMG! I CAN'T VOTE FOR OBAMA!" moment. He didn't get it, so I don't know what he can hang his hat on after this. I don't think McCain turned this thing around tonight. Obama didn't hit it out of the park, by any means, but he didn't fuck up and he came across as a plausible president. Again.

At this point in the game, anything short of a slam dunk for McCain goes to Obama. Accordingly, Obama wins this one. But what a snooze.

Live-Blogging the Debate (and Other Stuff, Too!)

10:31 PM. Obama's closing statement: fundamental change, fuck the last eight years, etc. Obama has an easier closing argument to make. Invokes Reagan by saying "our brighest days are still ahead." Brings up education, energy and the MIDDLE CLASS again. Reminds people that it won't be easy or quick, but that we have to "come together, and renew a spirit of sacrifice and service." It's exactly where his campaign started: hope, unity and change we can believe in.

10:28 PM. McCain's closing statement: He finally brings out "my friends." McCain says he is for a new direction and reform. Hearing about a "new direction" from a really old Republican is kinda tough to swallow, but whatever. McCain comes across here as kinda like the tough, gutsy straight-talker that he used to be. Oh, what could have been.

10:26 PM. IT'S OVER. Halle-freakin-lujah.

10:21 PM. Obama using "unfunded mandate" reminds me of Josiah Bartlet's debate against Robert Ritchie on The West Wing. Now, that was a debate.

10:17 PM. I did okay in high school and I went to a good college, but this question makes me remember how badly we need to reform the education system in this country.

10:15 PM. I am officially really starting to tune out. But whatever Obama just said, the Ohio voters really, REALLY liked it.

10:13 PM. McCain rolled his eyes again. And he kinda stuck out his tongue, too. Gross.

10:10 PM. Obama brings up Lily Ledbetter and the issue of equal pay. "The court has to stand up if nobody else will." Aaaaaand the Ohio women go wild.

10:07 PM. Roe v. Wade... it's not a presidential debate if a Republican candidate doesn't use the phrase "lithmus test."

10:05 PM. McCain: "I'm gonna give them... I'm gonna give them..." He should be saying "you." It doesn't sound like he's talking to Americans, it sounds like he's whining to Bob Schieffer.

10:04 PM. "Joe Six-Pack" is now "Joe the Plumber" ... with a six-pack, as my friend Matt points out.

10:02 PM. In contrast, Ohio women loooove Obama's health care plan.

10:00 PM. Ohio women hate McCain's health care plan.

9:59 PM. The Phillies are now leading 5-0.

9:58 PM. According to the graph, Obama has been doing much better in the second half of the debate.

9:57 PM. Okay... FIRST OF ALL, McCain's "Obama is Herbert Hoover" comparisons are as stupid as they are ineffective. They aren't true, and they only make McCain seem older than he already is. Also, the Phillies are leading 4-0 in the 5th.

9:56 PM. I just want to say that I am shocked I am still awake.

9:53 PM. McCain just rolled his eyes at Obama.

9:51 PM. Hard to believe, but McCain has grown more contemptuous as the night has gone on.

9:50 PM. Obama: "nothing's more important" than ending our dependence on foreign oil. Goes into a bullet-point list again about energy independence. Thank God the Ayers bit is over. The women in the focus group are back on board with Obama now.

9:48 PM. McCain, as usual: Let's build 45 new nuclear power plants.

9:46 PM. Did McCain just snort?

9:45 PM. A thought I had: the better question would have been "Why is the OTHER guy's running mate better than YOUR running mate?" I would love to listen to Obama try to defend Palin.

9:43 PM. LOL. McCain makes the case for a Palin presidency. I direct you to this website.

9:41 PM. HAHAHAHAHA Why would your running mate be a better President than the other guy's running mate? Like it's even a contest. Ah jeez.

9:40 PM. The CNN focus group has totally flatlined during the Obama vs. McCain/you're negative/no YOU'RE negative/ACORN/Ayers section.

9:35 PM. McCain plays the Ayers card.

9:34 PM. Men like McCain, women like Obama.

9:33 PM. Obama speaks very convincingly of the bitter, cynical "same old, same old" politics in this country, and directly confronts Palin's "pal around with terrorists" bullshit.

9:31 PM. Jesus Christ, Obama, stop stuttering.

9:27 PM. McCain: "I want to run a truthful campaign." Really? Well, you have 20 days to make good on that promise.

9:25 PM. McCain: "Senator Obama, your argument of standing up to the leaders of your party isn't very convincing."

9:21 PM. McCain: "Senator Obama, I am not President Bush." Strong line from McCain, and apparently quite effective with Ohio men.

9:17 PM. Still early, but I think Obama is a little professorial tonight, which is not a good Obama.

9:13 PM. McCain is owning Obama on the taxes exchange.

9:11 PM. Obama: MIDDLE CLASS MIDDLE CLASS MIDDLE CLASS. Tax cut for 95% of Americans. The CNN uncommitted Ohio voters graph takes off.

9:10 PM. McCain really does not come across as diplomatic, and has stuttered his way through two answers in a row.

9:06 PM. Obama, as usual: MIDDLE CLASS MIDDLE CLASSS MIDDLE CLASS. This is the third debate in a row in which Obama has started with a clear, concise, bullet-point list of priorities.

9:05 PM. McCain says the catalyst for the economic crisis was Fannie/Freddie. I know this is SUPER early, but McCain really does not seem comfortable talking about the economy.

9:03 PM. Nothing has happened yet. Why is McCain already writing stuff down?

8:54 PM. Tim McCarver: "Cole Hamels doesn't have his best stuff," blah blah blah blah blah. Can't shut up about it. And then Hamels hangs a breaking ball to James Loney, who lines a single into center field. Tim McCarver is jinxing Cole Hamels.

8:27 PM. Jimmy Rollins leads off the game with a home run! Phillies 1, Dodgers 0.