Friday, October 24, 2008

Fruit Flies 2, Sarah Palin 0

Hmm … I’m beginning to think the DNC has burrowed a mole deep in the McCain-Palin campaign. We know Palin’s not very bright, but aren’t her handlers supposed to do the thinking for her, vet her “policy” speeches?

Here is clueless Sarah belittling fruit fly research:

And where does a lot of that earmark money end up? It goes to projects having little or nothing to do with the public good -- things like fruit fly research in Paris, France

(I must say, I like the dig at "Paris, France." Nice going, Sarah: definitely un-American!)

From the Washington Post:

As soon as Palin spoke, Democrats issued a long list of examples in which McCain had voted against fully funding IDEA and other special education programs. They also noted that scientific studies involving fruit flies are helping further researchers' understanding of autism, a disorder that both Palin and McCain speak of frequently while campaigning.

The Think Progress blog amplifies:

[S]cientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine have shown that a protein called neurexin is required for..nerve cell connections to form and function correctly. The discovery, made in Drosophila fruit flies may lead to advances in understanding autism spectrum disorders, as recently, human neurexins have been identified as a genetic risk factor for autism.

The study of fruit flies has also been used for other autism research and “revolutionize[d]” the study of birth defects.


So, the rightosphere, desperate for something to change the narrative of this election (John McCain gets throttled by 150 EV), glommed on to the sensational story out yesterday about a 20 year old McCain volunteer supposedly getting attacked by a black man, where first he just robbed her, then noticed that she had a McCain bumper sticker, and just went nuts. Now, of course, such a story feeds into their feverish little vestigial brains because it reinforces the very very very old saw about how the black men will attack our white wimmen if only they had the chance. Stephen Douglas used that same line of attack on Abraham Lincoln, for crying out loud, which proves that conservatives never learn anything.

Anyway, they were all excited and ready to ride racial hatred and fear of DaScaryNaughtyWordsPeople to victory.

Umm, oops.
Pittsburgh police said a 20-year-old woman who originally said she was robbed and assaulted at knifepoint in Bloomfield because of her political views made the story up.

Ashley Todd -- who has a backward letter "B" scratched into her right cheek -- confessed to faking the story and will be charged with filing a false report, Assistant Police Chief Maurita Bryant said at a news conference Friday.

Palin's "Policy Speech"

So Miss Wasilla is going to give a "policy speech" on special needs children.

1) Since when do veep nominees give "policy speeches?"

2) Once again she shamelessly uses her kids as props and

3) Her running mate and her party have not exactly been the greatest supporters of children's health needs. Did they just find religion?

"Go Visit Grandma"?

Keith Olbermann and Sam Seder rightly take down the GOP hack who sneered at Barack Obama for visiting his dying grandmother. There are rational responses to this sicko, but they're all unnecessary.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Good to be back

Tired though.

First, I am never flying again.

I'm on the window in a two-across aisle. Not bad, until Mrs. Jabba the Hut sits down. She had to lift the armrest and needed the belt extender, The whole trip she was eating this huge bag of candy on her lap--and sweating. DIRECTLY in front, a toddler, and her parents apparently mistook me for someone who likes kids. Directly behind me--a dog. No kidding. A little yipping dog.

Second it was a great conference, securities litigation. It's subprime time and that's better than Christmas for the litigators.

And third, I didn't even recognize San Francisco. When I went last year the city was being strangled by the homeless. I don't know what they did (maybe I don't want to know) but the legions of unfortunates sleeping about town were just gone. Even pre-dawn walking from the hotel near Chinatown to the BART on Market Street heading to the airport, not a one.

Time for bed.

McCain Sticks a Fork in Himself...

He knows he's done...

John McCain's election night watch party might be missing John McCain. Instead of appearing before a throng of supporters at the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix on the evening of Nov. 4, the Republican presidential nominee plans to deliver postelection remarks to a small group of reporters and guests on the hotel's lawn.

Who does this? I have NEVER heard of a "victory" or "concession" speech for any significant office (even as small as Tammy Duckworth's unsuccessful 2006 congressional run) given in a vacuum. It stands to reason that McCain's election night party would be attended by several hundred people, and many - if not ALL - of them will have made a signficant emotional investment in the campaign. Doesn't it stand to reason that they should be allowed to view the body at the wake? It seems insanely self-centered to "mail in" a concession via television...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sarah Palin: McCain’s Train Wreck

Remember the fake outrage generated by Bill Clinton’s $500 haircut? At the time it was spun by his opponents as an example of elitist excess by a politician who was said to have the common touch. So what are we to make of the RNC-McCain campaign spending $150,000 to doll up and accessorize Sarah Palin and her family?

Okay, so she’s got a big family, but $150,000? Most American families will never spend this much on clothing in their entire lives!

According to financial disclosure records, in September Palin’s clothing stipend included bills from Saks Fifth Avenue in St. Louis and New York totaling $49,425.74. (Wasn’t she supposed to be meeting world leaders in New York?) Then there was an even bigger bill from a huge shopping splurge at Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis for $75,062.63.

And then the RNC spent an astounding $4,716.49 on hair and makeup for Palin and her family.

Here’s what I don’t get: How come after all these astronomical expenditures on her clothing/makeup makeover, Sarah Palin still looks cheap and trashy?

Hell, just the other day as she gave an interview demonstrating once again she knows nothing about the Constitution and the vice president’s role, Palin was wearing a loud red leather (?) jacket that looked like it was right off the rack at Wal-Mart. There's no accounting for taste; that must be it.

The tight-lipped RNC said talk to the McCain campaign about this extravagant expenditure, and the McCain campaign tossed the hot potato right back. These guys have come a long way, baby, from their CREEP break-in days. (Remember when, the nefarious “Committee to Re-Elect the President” was riding high with McCain's pal, G. Gordon Liddy, during Watergate’s heyday?)

I think we can all agree that the RNC’s money would be much better spent had they handed Palin over to the professionals. Hey, the gal pals at Bravo’s hit makeover show, “Queer Eye for the Straight Girl,” could have Palin at least looking the part of (heaven forbid) president for less than $30,000, I’m sure.

So much for Sarah Palin, the Joe Sixpack hockey mom.

John McCain's gamble and why he's doing it

Yesterday, I posted about John McCain's bizarre focus on Pennsylvania given the difficult odds he faces there. The more I think about it, however, the more it makes sense, even though the odds are long. To see this, let's look at his paths to 270:

States he's basically got in the bag - Utah, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Idaho, Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, Kansas, Nebraska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alaska, South Carolina, Arizona, Texas, Georgia, South Dakota (152 EV). He's polling way ahead in each of these states. For argument's sake, let's add Montana and West Virginia and North Dakota - although that's far from a sure thing (11 EV) to his pile, so he's at 163.

States he's got no chance of winning - DC, Vermont, Rhode Island, Hawaii, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, Maine, California, Delaware, New Jersey, Iowa, Washington, Oregon, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota (234 EV).

What's left - being very generous to McCain (in descending order of EV) - Florida (27), Pennsylvania (21), Ohio (20), North Carolina (15), Virginia (13), Indiana (11), Missouri (11), Colorado (9), New Mexico (5), Nevada (5), and New Hampshire (4). Out of that, he needs 107 to win out of a possible 141.

Now, let's look a little more closely at how McCain could put together combinations of states to win.

If he doesn't win Florida, he needs 107/114 available. There are only 3 ways he wins if he loses Florida - losing exactly one of NM, NV, or NH, and sweeping the rest (OH, PA, CO, NC, VA, MO, IN).

If he doesn't win Pennsylvania, he needs 107/120 available. There are only 11 combinations where he wins if he loses PA. First of all, he absolutely cannot lose in either Ohio, Florida, or North Carolina. He could lose PA and either Indiana, Missouri, or Virginia, but how realistic is it to think that Obama wins any one of those states (or North Carolina, for that matter) and Pennsylvania, but none of the other 9 tossup states? In list form, of Obama wins PA, then the only ways McCain wins the election are:
  • McCain wins: OH, FL, NC, IN, MO, VA, CO, NM, NV, and NH; Obama wins: Nothing
  • McCain wins: OH, FL, NC, MO, VA, CO, NM, NV, and NH; Obama wins: IN
  • McCain wins: OH, FL, NC, IN, VA, CO, NM, NV, and NH; Obama wins: MO
  • McCain wins: OH, FL, NC, IN, MO, CO, NM, NV, and NH; Obama wins: VA
  • McCain wins: OH, FL, NC, IN, MO, VA, NM, NV, and NH; Obama wins: CO
  • McCain wins: OH, FL, NC, IN, MO, VA, CO, NV, and NH; Obama wins: NM
  • McCain wins: OH, FL, NC, IN, MO, VA, CO, NM, and NH; Obama wins: NV
  • McCain wins: OH, FL, NC, IN, MO, VA, CO, NM, and NV; Obama wins: NH
  • McCain wins: OH, FL, NC, IN, MO, VA, NM, and NV; Obama wins: CO, NH
  • McCain wins: OH, FL, NC, IN, MO, VA, CO, and NV; Obama wins: NM, NH
  • McCain wins: OH, FL, NC, IN, MO, VA, CO, and NM; Obama wins: NV, NH
  • McCain wins: OH, FL, NC, IN, MO, VA, CO, and NV; Obama wins: NM, NH
Ohio is similar, so I won't bore you here with the details.

The upshot of all this is that if McCain does not win Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, the electoral maps that lead to victory for him basically go away.

So you don't have to

Browsing the hilarity over at the Corner on NRO, I ran across this question:

Biden vs. Palin [Ed Whelan]

How is it that anyone can believe that Joe Biden, whose national-security “expertise” consists of being wrong on virtually every important question over the past few decades (as my Ethics and Public Policy Center colleague Pete Wehner discusses in this Wall Street Journal essay from last month), is more qualified to be Vice President than Sarah Palin is?

I'm sure he's not asking that as a rhetorical question, so I'll answer it. For starters, Ed, I suspect that Joe the Senator has some idea what the Vice President does, unlike your heroine.
During the Sarah Palin interview, CNN passed along a question from a third grader at a local elementary school.

Q: Brandon Garcia wants to know, “What does the Vice President do?”

PALIN: That’s something that Piper would ask me! … [T]hey’re in charge of the U.S. Senate so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better for Brandon and his family and his classroom.
Just to remind you:
The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

New widget theft

You may have noticed the countdown clock at the upper right. I shamelessly stole it from Schmidlap's "Fuck Off, Chimpy" clock.

Edit: clock modified to reflect that Alaska's polls close later than Hawaii's.

Two weeks out

Crunch time, ladies and gentlemen. The last week has seen the race tighten a bit, but not a whole lot. There has not been a lot of movement state-by-state. Obama is firming up his support - he has no "likely" states anymore, but his "win" states are more solid - every win state has a 90+% chance of going his way (according to 538), and he's got 171 EV's at 100%. McCain's states are similarly solid (although he has fewer) - all of his win or likely states are at 91+% or higher for him to win them.

The big news from overnight, according to CNN, is that McCain is conceding New Mexico, Iowa, and Colorado. If Obama hangs on to every Kerry state plus those, he wins with 273 EV. So what's McCain's strategy? Pennsylvania. He has to take that from Obama and prevent Obama from getting 19 EV's back, in places like Virginia (13), Ohio (20), Florida (27), Nevada (5), Missouri (11), or North Carolina (15) - all states where Obama is polling ahead right now. Can he do that? Well, has Obama up by 12 in PA, 538 has him up by 9.5 with a 98% chance of winning, and if you go to (newly added to the links list), which compiles data from something like 80 projection sites, they've got him polling up by 12.2% and have it in their "Strong Obama" category. Does John McCain have the Warren Zevon cranked up for his election night gathering?

Don Quixote had his windmills
Ponce de Leon took his cruise
Took Sinbad seven voyages
To see that it was all a ruse

(That's why I'm) Looking for the next best thing
Looking for the next best thing
I appreciate the best
But I'm settling for less
'Cause I'm looking for the next best thing

On to the numbers:

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 (unchanged).

McCain likely: Montana, West Virginia. Total: 8 EV (+5).

Obama likely: None. Total: 0 EV (-49).

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, Colorado, Virginia. Total: 286 EV (+22).

Tossup: Missouri, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Indiana, North Dakota, Florida. Total: 92 EV (+22).

Only four states moved this week. McCain put West Virginia back into the likely from the tossup column, while Obama moved Virginia and Colorado to win, but lost Florida from likely to tossup. Combining the "win" and "likely" for each, we'd be at 160 for McCain and 286 for Obama.

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

Monday, October 20, 2008

Just a quick break from politics for a moment

Last night the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays defeated the Boston Red Sox in the 7th game of the American League Championship Series. In doing so, they make my long-standing Cub-fandom that much more pathetic. Now, each of the last four expansion teams into MLB will have appeared in the World Series AT LEAST ONCE - while in the words of the late-great Steve Goodman - "the last time the Cubs won a (National League) pennant was the year we dropped the bomb on Japan." Let's put that into perspective shall we? The four expansion teams [Colorado Rockies, Florida Marlins, Arizona Diamondbacks, and the aforementioned (Devil) Rays] have played a combined total of 54 MLB seasons, and have qualified for a combined FIVE WORLD SERIES. They have won THREE, and have an outstanding chance of adding a FOURTH. 1945 is 63 years ago.... sigh

Do they still play the blues in Chicago when baseball season rolls around?

You betcha.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


I respect the thoughts that Carlos has about Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama today, but I must say that it means little to me. Hopefully, it will control the media for a while, but Powell is a liar whose words have zero credibility to me. I just want everyone associated with this 8 year long disaster to go away.

Colin Powell: A Deal-Closing Endorsement

It is often correctly assumed that high-profile endorsements are of limited utility to the candidate being endorsed. Such endorsements might fire up the base or, perhaps, further tilt those voters already leaning the candidate’s way.

In the case of General Colin Powell’s extraordinary endorsement of Barack Obama for president, however, its effect could endure through November 4, with devastating results for John McCain's slim prospects of election. This may be the first nail in the McCain campaign coffin as the end game begins.

General Powell’s indictment of the Republican Party and McCain was so wide-ranging that extended excerpts of his interview-endorsement bear repeating here (emphasis mine):

On McCain and the Republican Party:

I have some concerns about the direction that the party has taken in recent years it has moved more to the right than I would like to see it.

I also believe that on the Republican side, over the last seven weeks the approach of the Republican Party and Mr. McCain has become narrower and narrower.

On McCain and the economy:

And I must say that I’ve gotten a good measure of both, and in the case of Mr. McCain, I found that he was a little unsure as to how to deal with the economic problems that we were having. And almost every day there was a different approach to the problem. 

And that concerned me, sensing that he did not have a complete grasp of the economic problems that we had.

On Palin:

And I was also concerned at the selection of Governor Palin. She’s a very distinguished woman, and she’s to be admired, but at the same time, now that we have had a chance to watch her for some seven weeks, I don’t believe she’s ready to be President of the United States, which is the job of the Vice President. And so that raised some question in my mind as to the judgment that Senator McCain made.

On the Republican smear campaign:

And I’ve also been disappointed frankly by some of the approaches that Senator McCain has taken recently, or his campaign has, on issues that are not really central to the problems that the American people are worried about. This Bill Ayers situation that’s been going on for weeks became something of a central point of the campaign, but Mr. McCain says he’s a washed out terrorist—well, why do we keep talking about him? And why do we have these robocalls going on around the country trying to suggest that because of this very, very limited relationship, that Senator Obama has had with Mr. Ayers, now Mr. Obama is tainted. What they’re trying to connect him to is some kind of terrorist feelings, and I think that’s inappropriate.

I think this goes too far. And I think it has made the McCain campaign look a little narrower. It’s not what the American people are looking for. 

And I look at these kinds of approaches to the campaign and they trouble me. 

And the party has moved even further to the right, and Governor Palin has indicated a further rightward shift.

On Republican religious bigotry:

I’m also troubled by…what members of the party say, and 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 7-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 with terrorists. This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who were 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 a Star of David, it had a crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Ushad 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 could go serve his country, and he gave his life. 

Now we have got to stop polarizing ourselves in this way. And John McCain is as nondiscriminatory as anyone I know, but I’m troubled about the fact that within the party, we have these kinds of expressions. 

On Supreme Court appointments:

I would have difficulty with two more conservative appointments to the Supreme Court, but that’s what we would be looking at in a McCain administration.

On Senator Barack Obama:

So when I look at all of this and I think back to my army career, we’ve got two individuals. Either on of them could be a good president. But which is the president that we need now? Which is the individual that serves the needs of the nation for the next period of time? And I’ve come to the conclusion that because of his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities, as well as his substance, he has both style and substance, he has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president.

I think he is a transformational figure, he is a new generation, coming onto the world stage, the American stage,

And for that reason, I will be voting for Barack Obama.

Amen. Thank you, General Powell, for being a voice of reason and candor from the rational, moderate (what’s left of it) wing of the Republican Party.

One parting thought: Having Sarah Palin's frivolous, worst yet, unfunny appearance on Saturday Night Live juxtaposed against the gravitas of a great American hero and the most respected military man of our time give this endorsement of Barack Obama the following day, Sunday on Meet the Press (an NBC twofer!) is doubly devastating for John McCain.

Greetings from San Francisco

I awoke to news of the Colin Powell endorsement, and the front page of the SF Chroniche had the front page pic of the Obama rally in St. Louis.

Un-freakin' believable.

50 cents

That's it. That's what Barack Obama raised in September. From every man, woman, and child in the United States. $150,000,000 in one month. His previous high had been $65 million in August.

Holy crap, that's a lot of money. Those of you in battleground states - you won't see a commercial for anything other than this campaign for the next 16 days.