October 2008 Archives

What if things were switched around?

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This is from a commenter at Margaret and Helen's blog post for today and just adds onto Helen's advice for "undecided voters" which is priceless all by itself.

What if things were switched around?

  • What if the Obamas had paraded five children across the stage following the debate, including an unwed, pregnant teenage daughter?
  • What if John McCain was a former president of the Harvard Law Review?
  • What if Barack Obama finished fifth from the bottom of his college graduating class?
  • What if McCain had only married once, and Obama was a divorcee?
  • What if Obama had met his second wife in a bar and had a long affair while he was still married?
  • What if Michelle Obama was the wife who not only became addicted to pain killers but also acquired them illegally through her charitable organization?
  • What if Cindy McCain graduated from Harvard?
  • What if Obama had been a member of the Keating Five? (The Keating Five were five United States Senators accused of corruption in 1989, igniting a major political scandal as part of the serious Savings and Loan crisis of the late 1980s and early 1990s.)
  • What if Obama had trouble reading from a teleprompter?
  • What if Obama was the one who had military experience that included discipline problems and a record of crashing seven planes?
  • What if Obama was the one who was known to publicly display a serious anger management problem?

You could easily add to this list. If these questions reflected a reality, if the tables were turned, do you really believe the election numbers would be as close as they are?

This is what racism does. It covers up, rationalizes and minimizes qualities in one candidate and emphasizes negative characteristics in another when there is a color difference.

And, think of this - the candidates' educational backgrounds:

Barack Obama:

  • Columbia University - B.A. Political Science with a Specialization in International Relations.
  • Harvard - Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude

Joseph Biden:

  • University of Delaware - B.A. in History and B.A. in Political Science.
  • Syracuse University College of Law - Juris Doctor (J.D.)

John McCain:

  • United States Naval Academy - Class rank: 894 of 899

Sarah Palin:

  • Hawaii Pacific University - 1 semester
  • North Idaho College - 2 semesters - general study
  • University of Idaho - 2 semesters - journalism
  • Matanuska-Susitna College - 1 semester
  • University of Idaho - 3 semesters - B.A. in Journalism

Education isn't everything, but this is about the two highest offices in the land as well as our standing in the world.

You make the call.

A snippet of Barack and Bill's rally last night

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Via WaPo's The Trail blog, comes this report of the late-night Florida rally with Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

It goes along with this snippet of the rally that the Obama campaign has posted:

UPDATE: Found another snippet of Barack and Bill's appearance at The Daily Beast. My guess is that it goes first chronologically.

And if you had to miss it, here's the pre-recorded part of Obama's 30 min TV piece from last night.

Margaret and Helen

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I have a new favorite blog that I'm going to be checking in on, thanks to Sully. It's called "Margaret and Helen" by two women who met in college and have been friends for almost 60 years. Helen, who does most of the writing, puts it this way.

My name is Helen Philpot. I am 82 years old. My grandson taught me how to do this so that I could "blog" with my best friend Margaret Schmechtman who I met in college almost 60 years ago. I have three children with my husband Harold. Margaret has three dogs with her husband Howard. I live in Texas and Margaret lives in Maine.

This Thanksgiving Letter to the Family will give you an idea of Helen's writing style. I think thanksgiving dinner at Helen's house would be a lot of fun.

But Helen's fame has come about as a result of the 2008 campaign, specifically by McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate. Helen has some pretty concise opinions about Gov. Palin and she doesn't mince any words.

She is a weak, pathetic woman who thinks big hair, winking, baby talk and self deprecation is somehow becoming of a woman who wants to lead the free world. My god, where is Margaret Thatcher when you need her!

That's just a snippet from her first post on Palin and I'd add that Golda Meir and Indira Gandhi would have brushed Palin off their shoulders like the fluff she is.

If you've got the time I suggest that you go here and scroll to the bottom and read her posts in the order they were written starting with "Sarah Palin is a Bitch... there I said it." And do take the time to appreciate her choice of titles for specific posts. And I must add that Harold is a saint -- it's that or he has a great sense of humor. Maybe both.

I found myself laughing so hard I was afraid I'd wake other family members up. More bits of Helen's wisdom:

You just can't teach an old dog a new trick... even if you put lipstick on it. Change is needed. I know because I am a fat, old dog. For too many years I've been eating more pie than I should. Jenny Craig had me doing pretty good for a few years but eventually I started eating pie again. John McCain has been part of the Republican party in Washington for 26 years. It doesn't matter what he has been saying the last few months, eventually he's going to eat the party pie again. He's old. I'm old. That's what we do. We don't suddenly switch to salad.

On the final debate:

Well, I thought it was a good debate. My hats off to Bob Shieffer... and my blouse too if he plays his cards right. (Just don't tell my husband.) But who the hell is Joe the Plumber? Seriously. What the hell was that all about? Joe the Plumber? Joe Six Pack? The new McCain strategy seems to be banking on a lot of guys named Joe with a beer in one hand and a pipe wrench in the other. Is this a political campaign or a dating service for the Palin women?

Anderson Cooper has a fan:

I was just watching CNN and I couldn't believe what I heard. Even if McCain loses this election, many in the Republican party will see Governor Moose Meat as the candidate who almost saved McCain. In other words, it wasn't her fault - he would have been nothing without her. The reporter then took that to a horrifying conclusion - Palin in 2012.

Has everybody gone mad? Dear Lord she is like a cockroach. We'll never be rid of her! I tell you after the scare of that report my hair went from a lovely silver, just like that sweet Anderson Cooper's, to stark white... completely devoid of color (my hair not Anderson Cooper).

About those clothes:

What really gets my goat is that I could have put that same wardrobe together at JC Penny for about $300 with enough money left over for a piece of pie and coffee. Are you telling me THAT is the best they could do with $150,000?

Beverage alert -- swallow before reading. This one is in response to a letter she received asking advice on how to talk to the letter-writer's grandparents who are refusing to vote for an African-American.

But remember we grew up in a different time. We grew up during a time when this country didn't understand the depths of its hatred. Don't blame them. They don't know any better. It is a part of who they are. But if they ignore you, you have my permission to do what I do when Harold doesn't listen to me. Put laxatives in their pudding.

There's more. Do look for her "New Rules" and hang onto your panties. She said it first. And do be careful about drinking and eating while you're reading. You're likely to to burst out laughing unexpectedly. Don't say you weren't warned.

Helen, you're my new hero.

West Virginia Voters Get It

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This video clip from the Washington Times helps illustrate why Barack Obama is doing better than conventional wisdom suggested he would do in West Virginia.

Patrick Powell who is featured in this video was one of a number of voters that Washington Times reporter Christina Bellantoni wrote about in her article, "Hard times in Barrackville are hurting McCain".

Patrick Powell is an unlikely Obama voter, and said he doesn't even like the man. His wife is frustrated that Mrs. Clinton didn't win, and his good friend blasts Mr. Obama as unpatriotic and refusing to recognize the American flag.

But all three of them say they won't be voting for Mr. McCain.

"There's no hope for West Virginia," said Mr. Powell, who is 40, unemployed and unable on his wife's Applebee's wages to afford costly medicine for regular violent seizures that have left him with deep scrapes and scabs on his hands and face.

So much for the common wisdom on white small town voters in Appalachia. I'd say that Mr. Powell demonstrated a pretty thorough understanding of what's at stake. If you haven't watched the video, do so. Mr. Powell is impressive. David Brooks should take a lesson or two.

Bellantoni also wrote a blog post about how they identified Barrackville and a couple elements that she had wanted to cover but didn't have time to follow up on.

Obama as we knew him -- Interviews via The Guardian

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The Guardian has put together a fascinating assortment of interviews of people from Obama's past that is well worth reading. For those who haven't read either of his books, this is an excellent synopsis though it doesn't replace his introspection on his relationship with his mom and his grandparents.

Schoolfriends remember his love for comic books, basketball and teasing the girls. A former boss recalls him as a young man running a community project in Chicago. A fellow senator remembers being beaten by him at poker. Gifted student, quiet persuader, charismatic speaker, loyal friend... We speak to the people who knew Barack Obama best, revealing an intimate, often touching, portrait of a man on the brink of greatness.

Interviewees included are:

    Indonesia 1969: Rully Dasaad
    Hawaii 1975: Tony Peterson
    Los Angeles 1980: Margot Mifflin
    Chicago 1980s: Auma Obama
    Chicago 1985: Gerald Kellman
    Jakarta 1980s: Julia Surakusuma
    Harvard 1989: Larry Tribe
    Illinois 1996: Senator Terry Link
    London 2008: David Lammy

Andy Griffith, Opie and The Fonz all endorse Obama

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Ron Howard and his friends, Andy Griffith and Henry Winkler, got together to do a couple very unique endorsements of Obama.

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

They served the United States of America...

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Obama's speech in Richmond, Virginia had another one of those inspirational moments which is such a delightful contrast to the hate-mongering rhetoric of the opposing campaign. Take a listen.

In tracking down a transcript for the speech, I found this post by Jason Guard who attended the rally. He has a unique perspective.

Via Crooks and Liars, here's a partial transcript:

There are no real or fake parts of this country. We are not separated by the pro-America and anti-America parts of this nation - we all love this country, no matter where we live or where we come from. There are patriots who supported this war in Iraq and patriots who opposed it; patriots who believe in Democratic policies and those who believe in Republican policies. The men and women from Virginia and all across America who serve on our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America - they have served the United States of America.

We have always been at our best when we've had leadership that called us to look past our differences and come together as one nation, as one people; leadership that rallied this entire country to a common purpose - to a higher purpose. And I am running for President of the United States of America because that is the country we need to be right now.

This country and the dream it represents are being tested in a way that we haven't seen in nearly a century. And future generations will judge ours by how we respond to this test. Will they say that this was a time when America lost its way and its purpose? When we allowed the same divisions and fear tactics and our own petty differences to plunge this country into a dark and painful recession?

Or will they say that this was another one of those moments when America overcame? When we battled back from adversity by recognizing that common stake that we have in each other's success?

This is one of those moments. I realize you're cynical and fed up with politics. I understand that you're disappointed and even angry with your leaders. You have every right to be. But despite all of this, I ask of you what's been asked of the American people in times of trial and turmoil throughout our history. I ask you to believe - to believe in yourselves, in each other, and in the future we can build together.

Flyer Distributed in Dallas the Day JFK Was Assassinated

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From prosebeforehos.com blog comes this handbill which the blogger notes was distributed in Dallas the day JFK was assassinated.


More background on the flyer from D. Wilkes.

Exchange the word communist for the words terrorist and socialist and some of the lines come directly from the rhetoric being spouted by Republican candidates. Outrageous rhetoric which is responsible for the tire-slashing, car-smashing, canvasser-assaulting, baby-bear-killing, spitting, death-threat writing, muslim-children-gassing supporters of right-wing outrage that frequent the McCain-Palin rallies and claim to be the representatives of "real America".

John McCain and Sarah Palin, how far is too far? How will you know when the rhetoric and rage that you're advocating through euphemisms has gone too far? Who has to be injured or killed?

The moral and ethical bankruptcy of the Republican party is revealed.

What if he is?

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Colin Powell in the course of his endorsement of Obama this morning made this point:

And it is permitted to be said such things as, "Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim." Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, "He's a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists." This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

And then he mentioned a picture that struck him.

I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son's grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards--Purple Heart, Bronze Star--showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death. He was 20 years old. And then, at the very top of the headstone, it didn't have a Christian cross, it didn't have the Star of David, it had crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he can go serve his country, and he gave his life. Now, we have got to stop polarizing ourself in this way.

This picture.


Elsheba Khan at the grave of her son, Specialist Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan
New Yorker magazine/photographer Platon

His life story demonstrates like he was just as much a part of real America as anyone who lives in southern Virginia.

Campbell Brown made the same point last week. What would this election season have been like if more leading public figures and eminent journalists had stepped up and clearly made the same point in 2007 or early 2008? We can only imagine. But it didn't happen. And now we have been subjected to a campaign of slurs and hate-mongering.

I cannot say it better than NavyBlueWife did.

The highly charged rhetoric used by McCain and Palin to tie Obama to terrorism and Islam is once again an affront to all Muslim Americans. We saw this type of fear and backlash just after 9/11. We see it also in the McCarthy-like invocations of Michele Bachmann. I challenge Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin to tell this grieving mother that her son is anti-American because of his faith.

The answer to who is evil is NEVER as neat, clean, and easy as a label. Thank you, Colin Powell, for reminding America that those who serve in our military represent the awesome diversity of faithful and patriotic Americans.

Thank you, Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, for your service and your ultimate sacrifice. I am humbled to honor you and your fallen comrades.

And so am I. So are we all.


Barack Obama for President

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Tis the season for newspaper editorial boards to pronounce who they endorse and thus far this season, Obama is sweeping this particular aspect of the race. The Washington Post announced its endorsement of Obama today. Wow. They didn't mince any words, did they?

[Our choice] is made easy in larger part, though, because of our admiration for Mr. Obama and the impressive qualities he has shown during this long race. Yes, we have reservations and concerns, almost inevitably, given Mr. Obama's relatively brief experience in national politics. But we also have enormous hopes.

Mr. Obama is a man of supple intelligence, with a nuanced grasp of complex issues and evident skill at conciliation and consensus-building. At home, we believe, he would respond to the economic crisis with a healthy respect for markets tempered by justified dismay over rising inequality and an understanding of the need for focused regulation. Abroad, the best evidence suggests that he would seek to maintain U.S. leadership and engagement, continue the fight against terrorists, and wage vigorous diplomacy on behalf of U.S. values and interests. Mr. Obama has the potential to become a great president. Given the enormous problems he would confront from his first day in office, and the damage wrought over the past eight years, we would settle for very good. [...]

... Mr. Obama's temperament is unlike anything we've seen on the national stage in many years. He is deliberate but not indecisive; eloquent but a master of substance and detail; preternaturally confident but eager to hear opposing points of view. He has inspired millions of voters of diverse ages and races, no small thing in our often divided and cynical country. We think he is the right man for a perilous moment.

It appears they really like him.

As do some other newspapers. Via Kula2316, here's some of the papers who've issued their endorsements recently.

The Wisconsin State Journal endorses Obama. Obama was endorsed by the SouthCoast Today (MA), the Lehigh Valley Express-Times (PA), the Asheville Citizen Times (NC), the San Bernardino Sun (CA), the Tennessean, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The Boston Globe has stepped up with an endorsement as did the San Francisco Chronicle which notes the candidates' temperament, response to pressure and judgment in choosing a running mate.

[T]he emergence of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression gave Americans an opportunity to see the two major-party candidates under heightened stress. It was a rare chance to see the two senators encounter the type of pressure that comes with the job description of president of the United States.

Even though each ultimately voted for the same solution - the $700 billion bailout - their demeanors could not have been more different. Sen. John McCain magnified the aura of crisis, "suspending" his campaign to return to Washington, where his role in negotiations was at best tangential. Sen. Barack Obama was a portrait of calmness and deliberation, reminding Americans that it is possible for a leader to juggle more than one task at a time.

Obama showed steadiness in a moment of anxiety, with Americans' portfolios withering and policymakers scrambling to do something - anything - to staunch the panic. The Illinois senator was similarly deliberative - in contrast with McCain's quick-draw provocation - when Russia invaded Georgia in August.

In those crises, and in the hot lights of three debates, Obama demonstrated a presidential depth and temperament. His performance under the unrelenting scrutiny of the past 20 months has helped quell the "experience issue" for a 47-year-old senator who was elected in 2004. [...]

Throughout a campaign that has been intense - and at some points ugly - Obama has kept his composure and maintained a vision of optimism that has drawn an unparalleled wave of young people into the political process. His policies and his persona have offered hope to a nation that is deeply polarized, swimming in debt, mired in war and ridden with anxiety. He taps into that treasured American reservoir - patriotism - with his calls for sacrifice and national service.

Barack Obama is the right president for these troubled times.

Editor & Publisher has a tally of the endorsements which they promise to keep updated. Per the E&P account which was published before today's endorsements by the Washington Post and SF Chronicle, Obama has 39 papers endorsing compared to 15 for McCain. The E&P tally also notes who each paper endorsed in 2004. The number of Bush endorsers who are now endorsing Obama is interesting.

As the Wisconsin State Journal put it:

America is at a pivotal point in its history -- a difficult time that demands talented leadership to renew our nation's spirit and pull us together to meet the incredible challenges ahead.

The right leader for the time is Barack Obama.

The Wisconsin State Journal endorses the dynamic and youthful senator from Illinois for president.

Far more than his opponent, Obama represents a new direction. He has shown he can inspire and lead people to action. And his relatively short time in corrupt, self-absorbed, terribly-failed Washington, D.C., may actually be a key strength. Obama is not stuck in the status quo of the Capitol crowd or its long-failed Congress.

Obama doesn't just give pretty speeches. He speaks to people's best instincts, encouraging them to shine.

Obama is best-equipped this election to make America feel good about itself again. That's a powerful feeling -- one that could go a long way toward invigorating our economy and national sense of purpose.

Obama is convincing in his call for a new kind of politics in Washington. His life story and history-making bid for the White House also have forced the rest of the world to view America in a new and more positive way.

An Obama presidency will immediately give America more clout and credibility around the globe. It will immediately win over and win back allies and friends. As much as other nations may fear American power and influence, they fear our potential decline even more. American must not decline. America must remain a beacon of freedom, democracy, innovation and prosperity. [...]

Obama shows strong signs of being that once-in-a-generation leader who can inspire more people to say "yes" to a better world for our children and grandchildren.

Wisconsin should support Obama on Nov. 4.

Yes it should and so should our nation.


One more notable endorsement came through for Obama today from a newspaper that has never endorsed a Democrat in its entire long history -- the Chicago Tribune.

The Tribune in its earliest days took up the abolition of slavery and linked itself to a powerful force for that cause--the Republican Party. The Tribune's first great leader, Joseph Medill, was a founder of the GOP. The editorial page has been a proponent of conservative principles. It believes that government has to serve people honestly and efficiently.

Nevertheless, this time the Trib has chosen to endorse Barack Obama, and reassure those who are yet unsure about voting for Obama.

We do, though, think Obama would govern as much more of a pragmatic centrist than many people expect.

We know first-hand that Obama seeks out and listens carefully and respectfully to people who disagree with him. He builds consensus. He was most effective in the Illinois legislature when he worked with Republicans on welfare, ethics and criminal justice reform.

He worked to expand the number of charter schools in Illinois--not popular with some Democratic constituencies.

He took up ethics reform in the U.S. Senate--not popular with Washington politicians.

His economic policy team is peppered with advisers who support free trade. He has been called a "University of Chicago Democrat"--a reference to the famed free-market Chicago school of economics, which puts faith in markets.

Obama is deeply grounded in the best aspirations of this country, and we need to return to those aspirations. He has had the character and the will to achieve great things despite the obstacles that he faced as an unprivileged black man in the U.S.

He has risen with his honor, grace and civility intact. He has the intelligence to understand the grave economic and national security risks that face us, to listen to good advice and make careful decisions.

When Obama said at the 2004 Democratic Convention that we weren't a nation of red states and blue states, he spoke of union the way Abraham Lincoln did.

It may have seemed audacious for Obama to start his campaign in Springfield, invoking Lincoln. We think, given the opportunity to hold this nation's most powerful office, he will prove it wasn't so audacious after all. We are proud to add Barack Obama's name to Lincoln's in the list of people the Tribune has endorsed for president of the United States.

Sarah Palin's Fringe Associates

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There have been hints and bits of this story floating around since shortly after Sarah Palin was announced as McCain's running mate. Max Blumenthal and Dave Neiwert have done the investigative reporting that confirms what's what with Sarah Palin and her support of and by members of an Alaska secessionist movement that has strong ties to the white supremacist movement in the lower 48 states.

Rachel Maddow interviewed Max Blumenthal and CNN did a lengthy segment with Dave Neiwert. Rachel and Max's segment is more concise than the CNN segment but the CNN segment has more actual source material in it. Unfortunately, the CNN segment is actually spread across 2 youtube clips because of editing issues. The first CNN clip has material that the second clip edited out. The second clip repeats some of the material of the first but does have the end of the interview which the first clip does not.

Here is Maddow's interview which is a good start if you're not familiar with the topic at all.

The original Salon article is "Meet Sarah Palin's radical right-wing pals". Be sure to watch the companion video of their interview with Mark Chryson, former chair of the Alaska Independence Party and Palin's political mentor who was largely responsible for her move from the city council to the mayor's office.

After reading this and watching the videos, one is compelled to question again: what was John McCain thinking when he chose Sarah Palin as his VP running mate? A person with her small-town, petty, vindictive approach to use of power and evident ties to an organization that quite literally stands in opposition to the United States of America should never have passed any legitimate vetting process. What must Republicans such as Olympia Snowe or Jody Rell or Mitt Romney or Charlie Crist think after having been passed over for Sarah Palin?

I'm tempted to add Joe Lieberman to the list though, of course, he still pretends to be an independent Democrat. The one benefit to the McCain-Lieberman relationship is that it has finally damaged Joe's relationship with Senate Dems enough that we can say good bye and good riddance.

All of this merely confirms another aspect of what we know about John McCain. His judgment is cannot be relied on. He is erratic, tempestuous, impulsive, and the precise opposite of what this nation needs as a leader at this time.


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In contrast with the McCain campaign, which was clearly against having an economic strategy before they were for it, Senator Obama laid out a plan in Toledo yesterday to restore our economy, reminding us first of his long term plan for growth, which includes:

    - Reforming the tax code
    - Bringing down the cost of health care
    - Providing affordable education
    - Creating 5 million new renewable energy jobs and 2 million new construction jobs to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure

In addition, Senator Obama introduced an economic rescue plan to provide near term relief.

"It's a plan that begins with one word that's on everyone's mind, and it's spelled J-O-B-S."

To deal with our immediate needs, Obama proposed

    - Protections for homeowners including refinancing loans and a 90 day foreclosure moratorium
    - A $3,000 tax credit for businesses for each new job created
    - Allowing withdrawals of 15% up to $10,000 of retirement funds without penalty
    - Low cost loans for small businesses
    - A stimulus package and extended unemployment benefits

Finally, Sen. Obama called for a return to fiscal responsibility and accountability from Wall Street to Washington to Main Street.

  Video Credit: BarackObamadotcom

Yesterday, the McCain camp said this:  
... "We do not have any immediate plans to announce any policy proposals outside of the proposals that John McCain has announced, and the certain proposals that would result as economic news continues to come our way," said a campaign spokesman, Tucker Bounds. Mr. McCain's policy adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, said, "I have no comment on anything, to anybody" ...

before they said this:

A freeze on foreclosures will not be part of a new economic rescue plan Republican John McCain will present to voters Tuesday, a senior aide told reporters Monday.

[McCain senior policy advisor Doug] Holtz-Eakin would not provide details about McCain's new proposals, but told reporters they would be far superior to those offered by Obama on Monday.

In other words, they'll try to find one and 'bring it to ya'.

Pretty erratic, or as former Reagan and Bush economic adviser Bruce Bartlett noted, "At this point I don't think McCain can say anything on the economy that will sound credible."

Cross-posted at Kerryvision.net

Hope in Ohio

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Here's a terrific story of hope, citizenship and patriotism in Ohio courtesy of Connie Schultz at the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Of all the people Dobay met that day, though, there is one man she said she will never, ever forget.

He is an immigrant from Senegal. When she asked his name, he handed her an official-looking document.

Dobay studied the piece of paper, and then it hit her.

"You just became a citizen this morning," she said.

He nodded and smiled.

She congratulated him, and so did her colleagues sitting on either side of her. With each congratulations, the man smiled and said, "Thank you."

A few moments later, Dobay excitedly shared the news with another election official, Irene Lange.

"It was too good to keep to myself," Lange told me later.

She turned to the 100 or so voters in the diverse crowd and announced that the man with the big grin on his face had become an American citizen just that morning and was already registered to vote.

The room erupted into cheers.

"So many came forward to shake his hand," Dobay said. "I get goose bumps just thinking about it."

Nobody knew what country he came from.

Nobody knew how he would cast his vote, either.

And nobody cared.

For just a moment, all anyone cared about was the chance to welcome a new American who is full of hope.

30 Days | 30 Reasons from Lee Stranahan

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Lee Stranahan has come up with a creative series that he titles 30 Days | 30 Reasons which will be released one each day until the election.

Here's the first nine videos.

Health Care (#30)

End The 60s (#29)

Smart (#28)

Computer Stuff (#27)

Republicans Ruin The Economy (#26)

Sarah Palin (#25)

He Writes His Own Speeches (#24)

Iraq (#23)

His Campaign (#22)

Well said, Lee.

I'm looking forward to Reasons 1 - 21.

Paul Krugman - Nobel Prize in Economics

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Just yesterday I was watching Paul Krugman on This Week with George Stephanopoulos in a very interesting discussion with George Will, Dan Balz, Cokie Roberts and, of course, Snuffy. And then I heard this news break bit on NPR this morning as I woke up and I really woke up.

Krugman's reference to it on his blog is understatement itself.


Congratulations Dr. Krugman.

Catherine Rampell of the NYT blog Economix caught up with him as he started off on a very busy day.

"It's been an extremely weird day, but weird in a positive way," Mr. Krugman said in an interview on his way to a Washington meeting for the Group of Thirty, an international body from the public and private sectors that discusses international economics. He said he was mostly "preoccupied with the hassles" of trying to make all his scheduled meetings today and answer a constantly-ringing cell phone.

She also has a plain english explanation of the portion of his work that the Nobel committee chose to award as well as more reaction from Krugman.

RR's Personal Story

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[This diary, Why My Republican Father Is Voting For Obama by Relevant Rhino, tells a personal story that is succinct and powerful and representative of so many other personal stories being told in the dkos community and elsewhere. ]

My folks live in Indiana. I've said in numerous comments, and one diary that my ma is now not only supporting Obama, but volunteering for his campaign in Madison County. I can't tell you how amazing that is, considering she works for a private, religious university and has voted Republican since 1976. It reaffirms my belief that anyone can change if given the proper motivation and tools.

My old man has been another subject altogether. He's one of those old school conservatives that vote straight-ticket just because. He only watches Fox News, and listens to Rush on a daily basis. When I told him I was posting diaries here on DKos, he asked me if I was a communist. I replied, no more or less than your President, and that ended that conversation.

So what changed my pops' mind?

I was inspired by a diary which I can no longer find a few weeks ago where the diarist listed some reasons as to why he was voting Obama. I decided to sit down and do the same, and send it to my folks. This is what I came up with:

I'm voting for Barack Obama because his message resonates with me. This is 2008, and we need a President who is capable of dealing with modern day problems. I feel very strongly about the direction this country has gone in eight short years, and would like to elect someone who feels like we're on the wrong track, and need to take massive leaps to gain our global credibility back. I believe in evolution(in all senses, but most importantly in the social sense). I believe in progress. And I believe that is a shared ideal with Barack Obama.

I'm voting for Barack Obama because I oppose the war in Iraq. Surge be damned, we're there for the wrong reasons. I agree with General Petraus when he says that victory is impossible in an occupation. Were it not for the Anbar Awakening, excessive bribery, and brilliantly executed covert operations by US Special Forces, the surge would have failed, and more of our soldiers would have lost their lives. I agree with Barack Obama when he says that Afghanistan is the central front in the war on terror, and that action should be taken in that theater, be it in Waziristan, Afghanistan, or Pakistan. Support the troops is more than a bumper sticker.

I'm voting for Barack Obama because I'm a parent. I want what every parent wants for their child: a better life than the one I had. And I had a pretty damn fine life. I was able to go to college due to scholarships and loans, which I am still paying for today. Barack Obama has a plan to make college more affordable to all families. You can read the bullet points here . Without proper education, and a chance for anyone to go to an institution of higher learning, we will not be able to compete in the global market.

I'm voting for Barack Obama because I believe in Women's Rights. I believe that women should receive equal pay for equal work. I believe that women should be given reproductive rights. While I feel that it should ultimately be a state by state issue, I would rather it be Federally protected than not. I believe that if assaulted, women should be given every consideration for their privacy, and every opportunity to prosecute their assailants. This is a fundamental disagreement I have with John McCain, who has voted against equal pay, and advocated making abortion a Federal crime.

I'm voting for Barack Obama because I want to pay less in taxes. In case you don't feel like wading through report after report, here's a simple chart of the Obama tax plan.

I'm voting for Barack Obama because I'm self-employed. Under John McCain's healthcare plan , families would get a $5,000 tax credit, individuals would get a $2,500 tax credit, and employer based health care would be eliminated. Why am I against McCain's plan if I'm self-employed, you ask? Because health care would be placed on the open market. The average cost of a health care plan is around $12,000 a year, leaving $7,000 by McCain's standards for those with care. If you don't have healtcare, you're screwed. Barack Obama's healthcare plan can be found here.

My dad called me up in tears. And this guy doesn't cry. The only time I've ever seen him shed a tear in my 30 years of life was when he buried his own father when I was eight. He told me that my ma had been working on him for a while to get him to vote for Obama, and that McCain's stunt with the bailout made him less confident in him, but it wasn't until he actually had to sit down and read why his own son felt this way that he started looking into exactly what Barack Obama offered America as a president. He admitted that he had the negative crap on FOX, and had a pretty skewed vision of who Barack Obama was. He said that Sarah Palin didn't represent his brand of conservatism. He said that Joe Biden reminded him of our old neighbor from Kendalville, IN, who he's still very close to. He apologized profusely for being manipulated by someone else's opinion and allowing it to become his own. I don't cry much either, but by the end of it we were both weeping like little girls with skinned knees.

This is why I love our campaign. It's personal, it's real, and it's effective, even if it's one voter at a time.

That's about as real and personal and succinct as one can get about the impact of Barack Obama's campaign. Well-said Relevant Rhino.

Lead Federal Weathermen Prosecutor is outraged

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That's what William C. Ibershof said in his letter to the editors in the New York Times responding to their article on Obama and Ayers which highlights the minimal contact the two had on very legitimate and well-regarded non-profit ventures in the Chicago area, one of which was financed by the foundation of well-known Republican publisher, ambassador and Nixon/Reagan pal, Walter Annenberg.

As the lead federal prosecutor of the Weathermen in the 1970s ... I am amazed and outraged that Senator Barack Obama is being linked to William Ayers's terrorist activities 40 years ago when Mr. Obama was, as he has noted, just a child. [...]

Because Senator Obama recently served on a board of a charitable organization with Mr. Ayers cannot possibly link the senator to acts perpetrated by Mr. Ayers so many years ago.

He does mention one other item that just confirms that Republican behavior patterns have remained much the same over the past 40 years.

I do take issue with the statement in your news article that the Weathermen indictment was dismissed because of "prosecutorial misconduct." It was dismissed because of illegal activities, including wiretaps, break-ins and mail interceptions, initiated by John N. Mitchell, attorney general at that time, and W. Mark Felt, an F.B.I. assistant director.

Imagine that. Illegal activities including wiretaps by the Attorney General and his assistant director. Sound like anyone else you know?


Obama and the disdain of McCain

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McCain's debate performance last night will become a teaching example on how not to treat your opponent. It's already garnered headlines around the world. "That one" It's even got a website now. It's become so clear that McCain does not respect his opponent or his right to be on the stage with him. The anger and disrespect is palpable and it was in evidence throughout last night's debate. An indication that McCain is less than presidential in his inability to put aside personal animus and focus on what's best for our country.

obama-debate-smile-reuters-1.jpgObama, on the other hand, affirmed his standing as a calm, collected, thoughtful person who really connects with working people and conveyed a strong vision for where he wants to lead the country. And when he flashed his megawatt smile, he seemed completely comfortable in the spotlight. He did not allow his opponent's demeanor to distract him from communicating with the audience within the hall, on television and on streaming internet.

In the end, the debate will not have a noticeable impact on the race. Its effect will be subtle. An underscoring of McCain's erratic behavior and temperament issue and an affirmation of Obama's intellect, stature and ability to be president of the United States in rocky economic times.

McCain's behavior is consistent though. Rolling Stone's article, Make-Believe Maverick, makes it clear that McCain's behavior should not be viewed as a departure from the Straight Talk Express. Rather it becomes clear that his disdainful manner, erratic behavior, poorly controlled temper, and reckless judgment are all of a piece with his entire life in school, in the Navy and finally in Congress. The Straight Talk Express was the departure, an image carefully nurtured for the benefit of the media. The Keating scandal, outlined by the Obama campaign in this web video, has long been recognized in the Arizona press for what it is. And it's of a piece with the way he conducted himself with fellow Arizonans.

It took awhile but McCain's past has finally caught up with him. I wonder who he'll blame for his loss in November.

Joe Biden

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The undecided voters polls, the pundits, the blogs have given Joe Biden the win and said in one way or another, Sarah Palin stopped the bleeding. Palin's display of rote memory, chirpy little phrases and winks ... winks?? ... refusal to answer questions at all, her mistaken and outright wrong answers, and her "team of mavericks" line just underscored her lack of qualifications for the VP position, much less the office of President of the United States.

Joe Biden, on the other hand, re-affirmed the solidity of Obama's choice. He was very clear and well-spoken with a firm grasp of matters, both domestic and foreign, on display. He was particularly effective in refuting McCain's claim of maverick status in this clip

That's right, McCain voted against any extension of the program which will help low-income and poverty level families stay warm this winter in the face of heating fuel prices which have skyrocketed. Of course, he probably doesn't have to choose between food, heat and mortgage payments with his 11 houses or however many it is that he owns. Some maverick ... not.

There was another notable moment in the debate. Joe's unexpected catch in the throat took us by as much surprise as I think it did him. But he unequivocally demonstrated that he understands what's at stake in this election in a very powerful way.

Biden had a few other outstanding moments in the debate. His performance won him high praise from a number of sources. Kula2316 did a round-up of debate reviews including these two:

John F. Harris and Mike Allen of Politico declare Biden the clear winner:

To the contrary, it is hard to count any objective measures by which Biden did not clearly win the encounter. She looked like she trying to get people to take her seriously. He looked like he was running for vice president. His answers were more responsive to the questions, far more detailed and less rhetorical.

On at least ten occasions, Palin gave answers that were nonspecific, completely generic, pivoted away from the question at hand, or simply ignored it: on global warming, an Iraq exit strategy, Iran and Pakistan, Iranian diplomacy, Israel-Palestine (and a follow-up), the nuclear trigger, interventionism, Cheney's vice presidency and her own greatest weakness.

Scot Lehigh of the Boston Globe, Biden's ready for the job:

You can say this about Sarah Palin: She did better debating Joe Biden than she did being interviewed by Katie Couric.

But that sets the bar very low indeed. So let's pay Palin the respect of treating her exactly as a male candidate would be treated. And that means saying this: She was simply nowhere near as good as Joe Biden

Biden certainly underscored the wisdom of Obama's choice last night and introduced himself in a new way to people who are unfamiliar with him. His ability to speak to the questions raised, his obvious grasp of the issues and his genuineness all marked him as a great VP candidate. In the end, this debate will not change the overall tenor of the race or its outcome but it did introduce the VP candidates to America in a new way, and when all is said and done, it was successful.

APA Informs Bush -- No Psychologists at Military Interrogations

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Valtin, one of the resident psychologists in the dkos community who keeps us up to date on what's happening on that front, reports that the American Psychological Association has sent a letter to Bush:


Prohibits psychologist participation in interrogations at unlawful detention sites

WASHINGTON--The American Psychological Association sent a letter today to President Bush, informing him of a significant change in the association's policy that limits the roles of psychologists in certain unlawful detention settings where the human rights of detainees are violated, such as has occurred at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and at so-called CIA black sites around the world.

"The effect of this new policy is to prohibit psychologists from any involvement in interrogations or any other operational procedures at detention sites that are in violation of the U.S. Constitution or international law (e.g., the Geneva Conventions and the U.N. Convention Against Torture)," says the letter, from APA President Alan E. Kazdin, PhD. "In such unlawful detention settings, persons are deprived of basic human rights and legal protections, including the right to independent judicial review of their detention."

The roles of psychologists at such sites would now be limited to working directly for the people being detained or for an independent third party working to protect human rights, or to providing treatment to military personnel. The new policy was voted on by APA members and is in the process of being implemented.

Valtin has more details and discusses the implications in the diary. Go read. To see more of Valtin's previous reports on the APA and the torture issue, check here.

Why the Paulson Bill is the Wrong Bailout

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Last week, Prof. Steven Ramirez from Loyola University Chicago contacted me to help him spread his analysis of A Law Professor's View of the Bailout.  

Today, he has further thoughts on the events of the last week, along with his analysis of the Paulson-Bush bailout Bill that the Senate will vote on tonight.  

From Professor Ramirez:


The Paulson approach is still at the core of the recently rejected House Bailout Bill and it still bails out the wrong people, in the wrong way, using the wrong logic.  It must be killed in its entirety so that an appropriate bailout can go forward.

The US Senate is poised to vote on the Paulson-Bush Bailout Bill (.PDF)  tonight.  That Bill is a fraud and seems specifically designed to stuff billions in the pockets of the very CEOs responsible for this fiasco rather than help the economy.

I spent most of Sunday reading the House bailout bill that was rejected on Monday.  Apparently few in the media spent any time reading the text of the bill because the talking heads packaged the bill in a way that was radically different from reality.  

For example, the media consistently suggested that the Bush Administration would have only $350,000,000,000.00 to start with and would need congressional approval for the other $350,000,000,000.00.  Under Section 115, however, the congress must override a presidential veto to stop the second installment--meaning a vote of 2/3 of each chamber must vote against its disbursement.  The game is rigged strongly in favor of the entire $700 billion being spent once the bill is enacted and no media outlet that I have found discusses that fact.  The Senate Bill retains this exact language.  The bottom line is once the Bill is passed Paulson has $700 billion to spend with only the thinnest of limitations.  

Similarly, the bill supposedly limits executive compensation.  In reality, Section 111 empowers Secretary Paulson to set standards on executive compensation, and he has been a vehement opponent of any limitations at all.  In addition, the standards do not apply at all to any company getting less than $300,000,000.00 in assistance, and then apply only to "new" employment agreements.  Even in a situation where the government purchases trash assets directly from a company the standards are too vague to assure any real limit on executive compensation. The Senate has not addressed this problem.

So, without getting into the rest of the gory details, suffice it to say that bill was not portrayed accurately to the public.  But perhaps the grandest fraud is that the Paulson approach is the only approach.

Early on, Paulson and Bernanke stated the Paulson bailout is the only possible bailout.  That is false.  A recent IMF study (.PDF) in fact assesses bank crises throughout history and across the world.  It demonstrates that there many different ways to proceed with a bail out.  

According to NYU economist Nouriel Roubini (the top economist on this entire subprime fiasco)  the Paulson bailout is a "disgrace and a rip-off" compared to alternatives.  More specifically: "the Treasury plan is. . .a bailout of reckless bankers, lenders and investors that provides little direct debt relief to borrowers and financially stressed households and that will come at a very high cost to the US taxpayer."  Worse he states "the plan does nothing to resolve the severe stress in money markets and interbank markets that are now close to a systemic meltdown."  So, it seems like we pay a ton of money for "nothing" under the House Bill.

The beneficiaries of this bailout will be the shareholders of the firms that caused this mess and the directors and officers that manage those firms.  Their firms will be recapitalized with a giant slug of taxpayer funds and the managers who trashed the global financial system will remain in control.  Under the Paulson plan the most inept managers in the history of capitalism get a new $700 billion of our money to mismanage.

There have been many bank crises world wide.  There are many different ways to resolve a crisis.  Almost always current shareholders and managers must also pay up.  Sweden apparently made money from a banking system rescue by taking ownership of problem banks.

The Treasury should take the Warren Buffet approach.  The government should inject capital to save the financial system, which certainly needs saving.  In return we should take a preferred shareholder position and negotiate for preferred dividends, suspend common shareholder dividends, and obtain preferred voting rights to oust the most reckless managers and boards.  The risk to the taxpayer is minimized and the costs to current shareholders and mangers are significant.

As Nouriel Roubini and Paul Krugman each recognize this approach also has the benefit of injecting pure capital, which is the basis of all financial lending.

The difference is simply this: the Paulson plan rescues reckless bankers at great cost to the taxpayer and a government preferred share purchase program rescues the financial system with a much smaller risk to the taxpayer.

Submitted by: Professor Steven Ramirez
Loyola University Chicago
Oct. 1, 2008