Saturday, October 18, 2008

Better Late than Never

This Sunday, the celebrated Chicago Tribune for the first time in its history is endorsing a Democrat for president, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois.

The Trib, well-known for its relentless conservatism and support for Republicans, gained legendary infamy for its 1948 headline, "Dewey Defeats Truman," which enabled one of the most famous photographs in presidential campaign history: a broadly smiling Truman holding up the hapless newspaper with its egg-in-the-face banner headline.

The Chicago Tribune will never, ever, live this one down.

The Tribune has had a long history of support for reactionary, ultra-conservative causes, with a xenophobic twist. Reaching back to its nativist roots in 1855 of support for the Know Nothing party, during the Great Depression the Chicago Tribune of Col. Robert McCormick was stridently anti-FDR and anti-New Deal. And during WWII, the Colonel's Trib was fiercely isolationist, providing a platform for the America First movement, which had attracted pro-Nazi elements and poster-boy Charles Lindbergh.

But the Chicago Tribune also has had moments of backing progressive causes and of great journalistic integrity. In a return to the better angels of its nature, the Trib was on the right side of abolitionism. The newspaper supported Abraham Lincoln, his radical Republican Party, and the Emancipation Proclamation. In 1974, the Chicago Tribune was the first newspaper to publish the full transcripts of the Watergate tapes.

By endorsing Barack Obama, breaking with a partisan tradition that goes back more than 150 years, the Chicago Tribune adds to its history one of those moments of journalistic integrity, reasserting itself as one of America's great newspapers.

Friday, October 17, 2008

You're gonna have to learn your clichés. You're gonna have to study them, you're gonna have to know them.

I would like to retire two hackneyed phrases from this campaign season.

No more people should be "thrown under the bus." And henceforth policy matters or political questions may not be referred to as "too much inside baseball."

Thank you.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Joe the Plumber? Joe the TOOL

Since McCain brought up “Joe the plumber” in the debate the guy, inevitably, has become a media darling. It seems this is precisely what the McCain plumbers unit wanted. Upon closer scrutiny, though, certain inconvenient facts have emerged to cloud Joe the plumber’s “everyman” image:

1. Though he claims to be “undecided” Joe, whose first name is Samuel, is a registered Republican and voted in the Republican primary.

2. Joe the plumber reluctantly admitted that he’d actually benefit from Obama’s tax cut. Joe the TOOL then went on a tirade that he’d have to buy equipment from other businesses that would presumably be taxed under Obama, thus hurting poor widdle Joe. Aww… either Joe the INGRATE is an economics wiz schooled in the the specious intricacies of trickle-down, or, more likely, he got the TALKING POINTS. Hey Joe, that’s above your pay scale, pal. Literally and figuratively.

3. Joe doesn’t have a plumber’s license, a requirement in Toledo, although he says he doesn’t need one.

4. The state of Ohio has imposed a lien on Joe the plumber for over $1,100 in unpaid back taxes. Seems as if you could use Obama’s tax relief, Joe. That is, unless someone else is picking up the tab.

5. In a call-in to Katie Couric, Joe the plumber said his intention was to get Obama to talk about his tax plan (presumably beyond what Obama had been patiently explaining at the greeting line), and not “tap dance” around the issue. Then he added rather gratuitously that Obama did "a tap dance...almost as good as Sammy Davis, Jr."

This language comes very close to outright racism. Sammy Davis Jr. was never known in his illustrious career simply as a tap dancer. Such references can very easily be interpreted as code for the worst kind of bigotry.

It turns out, according to the AP, Joe the plumber “had something of a debate Sunday as [Obama] walked house to house on Shrewsbury at the start of the candidate's four-day visit in the Toledo area.”

The New York Times reported:

Mr. Wurzelbacher told Ms. Couric that his encounter with Mr. Obama was a matter of impulse.
“Neighbors were outside asking him questions, and I didn’t think they were asking him tough enough questions,” he said.

He went on, “You know, I’ve always wanted to ask one of these guys a question and really corner them and get them to answer a question,” he said, “for once instead of tap dancing around it, and unfortunately I asked the question, but I still got a tap dance.”

He added, “Almost as good as Sammy Davis Jr.”

Here’s a brief history lesson of Jim Crow racist stereotypes, like tap dancing:

“The onset of Jim Crow laws and customs rested upon the racist characterization of black people as culturally, personally, and biologically inferior. This image functioned as the racial bedrock of American popular culture after 1900, especially manifested in minstrel shows, the vaudeville theatre, songs and music, film and radio, and commercial advertising."

Ronald L. F. Davis, Ph. D.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A few debate thoughts

I wish Obama would hit back on the whole $3 million projector earmark. The planetarium must have helped educate millions of children in math and science over the decades.

John McCain's education plan for college is that you can take out as many loans as you want. My sister has lots and lots of loans and will be paying them until she's past 65. That's a crappy plan.

John McCain wants unqualified teachers in schools.

I thought Obama was kind of flat for a lot of the debate, but McCain just looks creepy on those reaction shots.

Why do we care if nuclear power is safe? Go visit the area around Chernobyl, Senator McCain.

Women's "health" as a mocking issue?

Regarding Pete's post below

Here's some data from on early voting patterns.

Completely Anecdotal

As I drove my children home from school yesterday I noticed something exceedingly peculiar. Between school and home lies a municipal park, with the usual playground, along with baseball diamonds a soccer/football configuration, basketball and tennis courts and a field house. I was stopped at a traffic light when I saw it - a line spilling out of the fieldhouse on to the wide sidewalk fronting the building. I had no way of knowing just how many people were standing in line, but it was clearly in the mid double digits. As I sat there waiting for the light to change, I tried to imagine why that many people would be standing in line on a Tuesday afternoon. Had the Fall/Winter programs become so popular that people were waiting in lines to use the limited health club facilities?

Then it hit me - EARLY VOTING.

These people were waiting in line to cast ballots. These early voters did not fit the "profile" of early voters that I have reading about - namely young and minority --- the so-called "Obama base." No, these voters were middle-aged and older, lots of women, and all of them were white. As the light turned green, I was thinking that there must have been some kind of organized effort to bring out the early vote, and that I should ask the wife if our precinct captain had been in touch... and I didn't think anything more about it as I drove on.

Two hours later, my wife came home. The first words out of her mouth were, "Do you know that there is a line at the fieldhouse for early voting?" When I told her that I had seen it as well two hours before, she gave me a stunned look.

Immediately, I got on the phone and called my precinct captain, an earnest woman in her late 50s, She is both effective and unobtrusive (no mean feat!). Voter turnout in our precinct routinely hits the 80-85% mark. Our conversation was both brief and stunning. The gist was that she had not made any effort regarding early voting. All of these people had come out on their own. The line had been consistent since early in the morning. She figured that in our precinct alone (the field house is the voting site for 5 precincts) over 90 people voted during the first day! She believed that there were similar numbers in the rest of the precincts. I asked if she had any idea of who was voting, and she said she had -- nearly every single voter was a registered Democrat. I realize that this is (as the title states) completely anecdotal, but McCain is in deep deep shit if middle-aged white people are willing to wait in line to cast an early ballot for Obama. These are "votes in the bank" that no amount of mud-slinging and fear-mongering can undo.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Three weeks out

This last week has been excellent for Obama in the polls, and bad for McCain in the universe.

Italicized states have trended (changed categories) towards McCain, bolded towards Obama.

McCain win: Utah, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Idaho, Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, Kansas, Nebraska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alaska, South Carolina, Arizona, Texas, Georgia, South Dakota. Total: 152 EV (-3).

McCain likely: Montana. Total: 3 EV (-5).

Obama likely: Colorado, Florida, Virginia. Total: 49 EV (+13).

Obama win: DC, Vermont, Rhode Island, Hawaii, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, Maine, California, Delaware, New Jersey, Iowa, Washington, New Mexico, Oregon, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Hampshire. Total: 264 EV (-13).

Tossup: Missouri, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia, North Dakota. Total: 70 EV (+8).

Very little movement this week. McCain lost North Dakota (from the win) and West Virginia (from the likely) to the tossup column (3 EV), while Obama didn't lose any (Virginia went from win to likely). Combining the "win" and "likely" for each, we'd be at 155 for McCain and 313 for Obama.

If you include all states that are leaning one way or the other, you'd put IN, WV, and ND in McCain's column (and barely) and MO, OH, NC, and NV in Obama's. That would give you totals of 364 for Obama and 174 for McCain, same as last week. Stability helps Obama.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Where's Waldo Peggy?

From the picture below, any guesses as to where the lovely wife is?

With a national double-digit lead

And ahead in the battlegrounds--

Is this election out of stealing range?

Breaking: Democrats as stupid as Republicans

Why, Rahm, why?

"Rep. Tim Mahoney, D-Fla., finds himself in some seriously hot water today. ABC News’ investigative team is reporting that Mahoney paid $121,000 in a settlement with a former mistress he fired from his congressional staff. And that’s only the beginning.
ABC reports:

Senior Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives, including Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), the chair of the Democratic Caucus, have been working with Mahoney to keep the matter from hurting his re-election campaign, Mahoney staffers said."

Don't we know that any hint of doing this sort of coverup crap pisses the country off and might be just what the GOP is looking for to stem the tide a bit and prevent us from getting more of them the hell away from our government? On the other hand, if the Democrats are going to coverup things the same way that Republicans do, does it really matter?

Being ahead means never having to say "maverick"

So the traditional media (and their muse, Drudge) are all a-twitter today because the Arizona Maverick and his sidekick, PowerAbuser, are "re-invigorating" their campaign with a *NEW MESSAGE*
Let me give you the state of the race today. We have 22 days to go. We’re 6 points down. The national media has written us off. Senator Obama is measuring the drapes, and planning with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid to raise taxes, increase spending, take away your right to vote by secret ballot in labor elections, and concede defeat in Iraq. But they forgot to let you decide. My friends, we’ve got them just where we want them.

Now, the idea is to make the story about how energetic and innovative McCain is, and that Obama is merely sitting still and resting on his laurels. Of course, the reason Obama could do that is that he is the one with the lead, and McCain is playing a classic loser's gambit. Now, the reason losers try that is that sometimes it works, much like sometimes a Hail Mary pass works.

How is Obama responding? With some tired DLC crap about how he's in the lead or something inane? Nope.
Barack Obama's campaign says their candidate will deliver a major policy address today in which he'll lay out his economic rescue plan for the middle class.The campaign says the Democratic presidential nominee will outline his proposals as he speaks at a rally in Toledo, Ohio. Obama is expected to speak sometime after 1:30pm ET, and CNN will have live coverage of the event.

It can't all be good news

There have been two benefits to the recent economic problems - 1) John McCain's chances of becoming President are dropping rapidly and 2) so are gas prices. If I had to fill my tank today, I could do it by work for under $3.

But the smartest men in the room (ahem) are working on getting the markets under control, and today the futures are up.

And so is oil. Don't expect these prices to last.

The last kicker - OPEC's meeting to "decide" what to do about the drop in oil prices. The only thing they'll "decide" is by how much to cut supply.

W's Lyrics of the Day

Ninety-nine days left in the regime
Ninety-nine days of hell
Chamber a round, kill some more brown (people, that is)
Ninety-eight days left in the regime...