Saturday, August 30, 2008

Make My Day

On Friday, John McCain named Sarah Palin as the Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican party. Palin is the little known (at least on a national level) Governor of Alaska. Her biggest claim to fame was that she was the subject of a vigorous Online campaign to get her nominated to this post. I had written an article recently about McCain's VP choice and mentioned her as a possibility, but had quickly dismissed her because of the fact that she was unknown outside of Alaska. The idea that John McCain at 72 years old, having survived multiple bouts with skin cancer and lived through five and half years as a POW, would put a complete unknown with no national experience, a heartbeat away from the most powerful position in the world seemed ridiculous. But apparently, I was wrong.

This weekend it was revealed that Sarah Palin's 17 year old daughter Bristol, is pregnant. In a press release, Palin said that she and her husband are very excited and are looking forward to being grandparents and that her daughter will be marrying the father of the baby. McCain's minions were quick to point out that they knew all about this and the news was only released to counter the Internet rumors about Bristol being the mother of Sarah Palin's infant son. So we are supposed to believe that not only did John McCain know about this pregnancy, but they were going to keep it a secret? We also learned this week that McCain had met her only twice and yet is already referring to her as his "partner" and "soul mate". Perhaps if he would have asked his "soul mate" a few more questions, her daughter would have escaped the media frenzy that will now accompany her pregnancy.

I have no reason to attack Sarah Palin personally (I have no idea who the hell she is), but what I can attack is John McCain's reason for picking her for this job. Clearly he wanted to make a big splash in the press and realized that Pawlenty, Romney or Ridge wouldn't quite cut it. He apparently really wanted Lieberman, but the right wing of the party could not stomach that choice. He was basically backed into choosing Palin in order to fulfill his need to grab press attention away from Obama's Convention speech. His second goal in picking her was to try and collect the disaffected Hillary Clinton voters. Of course, he picked someone who stands against everything that Hillary Clinton supports. There were a small number of Clinton supporters who were going to vote for McCain anyway and this choice shouldn't have any effect on those who supported Clinton for her policies. The third reason for picking Palin was to appeal to the Right wing of the party. They are thrilled that he chose a dyed in the wool conservative to be his running mate. So by making this choice, he has achieved two of his three goals. He got the press coverage and he got his conservative base fired up.

I guess two out of three ain't bad, but where does that leave the rest of the country. McCain has constantly said that he has the judgment to lead this country, but the first real test of that judgment, he made a choice based on political expediency. He was not thinking of the good of the country when he picked Palin, he was thinking about covering his ass with his base. In his wildest of peyote induced hallucinations, he could not think that picking someone who two years ago was the mayor of a town of less than 8,000 (who won her election 616-487), who has never articulated any position on foreign policy or domestic policy, who is currently under investigation by her own state legislature, and who two weeks ago said that she wasn't sure what the Vice President did on a day to day basis, was the best choice for the country. It's almost amusing (if it weren't so deadly serious) to watch the right wing pundits talk about what a great choice Palin is and what she brings to the ticket.

John (shoot first ask questions later) McCain is basically daring the American people not to vote for him. The main thrust of his campaign thus far, has been to try to convince the voters that is opponent is too "famous" to make an effective leader. However, he has now made a Vice Presidential choice based on how much press coverage he would get. He has constantly harped on Obama's lack of experience and yet he goes out and picks someone who makes Obama look like Winston Churchill. I know there's a strategy in there somewhere, but what it is, only the man from Arizona knows for sure. So go ahead America, John (Dirty Harry) McCain is daring you not to vote for him. I know what you're thinking, is he crazy or just incompetent? And which one of those are you more comfortable voting for.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Me Generation

Hillary Clinton gave a great speech at the Democratic Convention in which she not only paid homage to all the women who came before her, but gave hope to all those who are surely to follow. She also her her most compelling arguments yet to her supporters as to why the should vote for Barack Obama for President. Immediately after the speech CNN (I believe) interviewed one of Clinton's delegates on the floor of the Convention. She was effusive in her praise of Clinton (which was well deserved) and then she went on to say that while she would not vote for McCain, she was not sold on Obama. She said that he had two months to convince her. I only have one question for that delegate and for the number of Clinton supporters around the country who share her sentiment and that is, Convince you of what???

I don't pose that question to the Republicans who crossed party lines to vote for Senator Clinton. Clearly those people are not committed to a progressive agenda. Their support of Senator Clinton was clearly based on her. Once she was out of the race, they clearly had no use for her agenda. They can be forgiven for their loud and constant clamoring about voting for John McCain. I also don't pose that question to the Low Information Voters out there. LIV's are probably unaware of what exactly it is Senator Clinton stands for. They live in a soundbite world and their filter is accepting every false claim and accusation that is directed toward Barack Obama. I aim that question directly at the large group of intelligent, well informed and Democratic supporters of Senator Clinton who are are now wavering between voting for Obama and not voting at all. I have nothing to say to those in this group who are committed to voting for John McCain. There are really only a couple of reasons why a life long Democrat who supported Hillary Clinton would now vote for John McCain. Either you are seeking some sort of childish revenge or you simply won't vote for Obama because of the color of his skin, because there are simply very few positions, in domestic or foreign policy, on which John McCain and Hillary Clinton agree.

To those who are considering sitting this one out, I would ask you to reconsider. If the threat to the nation of four more years of the same policies as this administration isn't scary enough, then think about what that might mean to you. I have heard every reason for not voting for Obama from rabid Hillary supporters, from the DNC stealing the nomination (why on earth would the DNC decide to give their nomination to the one person running that would actually have a harder time beating McCain than Hillary?), to Hillary is the better candidate (actually I would hope that Hillary supporters believe this, just as I hope the Obama supporters believe it about their candidate), to Hillary should have been chosen as Vice President (I happen to agree), to Obama's supporters are disrespectful (I think there's been enough mud slung on both sides, but to make a choice based on the words/actions of people not affiliated with the Obama campaign in any way is ridiculous). None of those reasons should be enough to make an intelligent and informed person vote for someone who is diametrically opposed to what Hillary Clinton stands for. Let's take a look at what a McCain presidency would mean; More tax breaks for the rich (yep), more wars (check), trample the Constitution (you said it partner), no universal health care (absolutely), overturn Roe V. Wade (you betcha), civil rights rollback for minorities and women (without a doubt)!

This election isn't about one person and it certainly isn't about Barack Obama making a special appeal to disappointed Hillary Clinton supporters. Barack Obama is the standard bearer for the progressive agenda in this election. Period. He's far from a perfect candidate, but he is the one left standing. John McCain is not a secret moderate, he's not going to get into office and turn into the legislative equivalent of Hillary Clinton. Make no doubt about it, a vote for McCain is a vote to continue what the current administration has begun. I remember how upset I was when Bush won re-election because I was afraid of the damage that he could do. However, I never imagined, in my wildest nightmares, that he would be allowed to get away with taking an absolute wrecking ball to the Constitution (with the aid and consent of a Democratically controlled House) and that the American people would just sit back and watch it happen without demanding that he be removed from office. The American people now have a chance to turn away from those policies, but some Democrats are withholding their votes because they somehow feel slighted. When do they wake up (as Rep. Kucinich stated so well yesterday) and realize that this election isn't about them, this election is about WE, THE PEOPLE. This election is about taking back the country and defending the Constitution from the sustained attack that it has been under for eight years. This election is about what kind of tomorrow we turn over to the next generation.

But of course if you're disappointed or your feelings are hurt and Obama doesn't "convince you" before the election, then by all means dont listen to the words of Hillary Clinton ("You haven't worked so hard over the last 18 months, or endured the last eight years, to suffer through more failed leadership...No way. No how. No McCain. Barack Obama is my candidate. And he must be our president.") and vote for McCain or don't vote at all. After all this election is all about you.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The High Road

I wrote an article about Obama's Vice Presidential pick on July 17th and said this about Joe Biden,

I believed then, as I do now, that Joe Biden is probably the most qualified person that Obama could have chosen for the position. I also think that he's the wrong choice for the position as well. I also wrote in that same article,

"That being said, I don't think picking the "best qualified person" for the job is what is required here."

I stand by that statement today. Obama picked the person who he thought would make the Vice President, not the person who gave him the best chance to actually win the White House. The Democrats are beginning to build themselves a wonderful tradition of doing the right thing. Al Gore did the right thing in 2000 when he didn't challenge the Supreme Court ruling that gave the election to George Bush. John Kerry did the right thing by not answering the ridiculous charges of the swift boaters in 2004. And now Obama has done the right thing by picking the most qualified person for the VP spot.

The question that has to be answered by the Democratic leadership at this point is whether they would rather win or be right. Unfortunately, I believe (at least recently) that they have shown that they would rather be right. The reason that the Republicans have been so successful at the Presidential level, over the last 40 years, is because they never question what the ultimate goal of the campaign is. The Republicans have been willing to use "any means necessary" in order to defeat their Democratic opponent. I honestly believe that without the interference of Ross Perot, we would be facing this election having elected only one Democrat in the last 40 years. The Republicans successfully exploited the backlash against the Civil Rights movement in the sixties to turn the South into a solid base of support. The solid South combined with the various means of personal attacks and innuendo they have employed have turned into a practically unbeatable combination at the Presidential level. It took the scandal of Watergate for Jimmy Carter to win (just barely) in '76. And it took Ross Perot stealing a large percentage of votes from George Bush Sr. to propel Bill Clinton into the White House in '92.

Picking Joe Biden as a running mate, does allow Barack Obama to fill in some of the gaps on his resume for the top spot. It does not however, fill in any of the holes in the electoral map. I previously mapped out two strategies for Obama to actually have a chance to win the election in November. One was to try and flip Virgina and the other was to try and flip the "big states", Florida or Ohio. The first strategy would have required that he pick someone from Virgina as his running mate. While I don't think that VP can deliver a state, Virginia is basically a toss up and the few voters who might be influenced to vote for a ticket that has a native son on it, might have just been enough to tip the state. The only VP choice that could have affected the big States was Hillary Clinton. She has a lot of support in both of the states, but I think her presence would have made an especially big impact in Florida. Older, female voters would have felt much more comfortable voting for an Obama-Clinton ticket than they probably feel voting for an Obama-Biden ticket. Hillary Clinton's supporters were not only treated to Obama picking someone other than her as VP, they also got the news that she wasn't even vetted by Obama's VP committee. Do you think that this slight (whether real or imagined) will make her most ardent supporters more or less likely to vote for Obama?

As far as McCain goes, he has a chance to show that he understands that this is about winning in November. Mitt Romney would put him in a position to win both Nevada and Colorado and perhaps be competitive in Michigan. If Romney could help swing those "up for grabs" states in his direction, he would have landed a significant blow to Obama's electoral strategy. I think Romney may hurt him in some of the deep South states, but his leads are unassailable in that region (with the possible exception of Georgia). I think that Romney does more good than harm. Of course if he would like to go for a landslide, he could make the bold choice of picking a woman as his VP. While Romney would help provide him with a tactical victory, putting a woman on the ticket may provide the road to a huge victory. It's a much riskier strategy than picking Romney but the rewards could also be much greater. However, unlike the Democrats, he has fewer women of prominence to chose from. The best pick would be Condoleezza Rice, but that would tie him too closely to the polices of the Bush administration. Kay Bailey Hutchinson is the senior Senator from Texas, but she doesn't seem to be interested in the job. Sarah Palin is the Governor of Alaska, but practically no one knows who she is outside of her home state. And Carly Fioria is the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and has been a very vocal support or McCain, but doesn't have any Washington experience. McCain could go the for the brass ring by trying to appeal to Hillary Clinton's supporters. If his VP pick were able to make a compelling case to those disaffected voters, it might just lead to a landslide on election day. In the end though, I think he'll end up with Romney (they'll both hold their noses), because even though they personally can't stand each other, they understand that winning is more important than their feelings.

I am convinced that Barack Obama is a man of principle. I know that attacking others makes him uncomfortable (see how uncomfortable he was using the Wal-Mart line against Hillary Clinton in one of their debates). He would never question John McCain's loyalty to his family (considering McCain's behavior during his first marriage), or his honesty (considering McCain's entanglement in the Keating Five scandal), regardless of how many times McCain questions his loyalty to America. I know that he probably considered picking Hillary Clinton as merely a politically expedient choice. He probably felt that she was simply not the best person for the job. I can respect his integrity, I can admire his fortitude. However, by taking the high road, he may just have conceded the winning road to the Republicans once again. I have nothing against Joe Biden and I actually admire what he done over his 36 years in the Senate. As I stated earlier, he would have been my choice too if all things were equal. Unfortunately, all things are not equal and his selection does not help to tip the scales in Obama's favor. Joe Biden was the wrong choice for all the right reasons.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

High Stakes Card Game

I wanted to throw my two cents in on the state of the race before the conventions begin. I have said here many times before that I don't think Obama can win in November, but that doesn't mean that I can't analyze what he and his campaign team are trying to do. Obama's strategy heading into the election was to run in all 50 states, which sounds nice, but is impractical at best. Obama's 50 state strategy essentially involves trying to flip 12 states. He is counting on maintaining the Kerry states (equal 252 electoral votes) and trying to pick up the needed 18 from this list (EVs in ()):

Iowa (7)
New Mexico (5)
Colorado (9)
Virginia (13)
Ohio (20)
Florida (27)
Indiana (11)
North Carolina (15)
Nevada (5)
Montana (3)
North Dakota (3)
South Dakota (3)

Obama is currently tied or leading in states with 34 EV's which would be more than enough to put him over the top if he were to win them all, however that is extremely unlikely to happen. Here are the states he currently has the best chance of flipping:

Iowa (7)
New Mexico (5)
Colorado (9)
Virginia (13)
North Carolina (15)
Nevada (5)

Iowa and New Mexico seem like they are solidly in his column. However they only have 12 EV's between them and cannot put him over the top. I really can't predict what will happen in Colorado. The state has voted for Bush by fairly healthy margins in the past two elections but they do have Senate race that is currently being led by the Democrat. I have no idea whether the coat tails will extend up the ballot in this case. North Carolina is an interesting case. NC went for Bush by double digits in both elections, but Obama is currently polling within a couple of points of McCain and Elizabeth Dole is in a dead heat for her Senate seat. The Obama campaign has focused heavily on voter registration in this state and perhaps that is starting to show dividends (although newly registered voters are not likely to be polled). I can't say for sure what's going on there, but I have little faith in a state that sent Jesse Helms to the Senate for decades. That leaves Virginia, which has voted Republican in every election since 1980. Does Obama have a chance there? Well they have a Democratic Governor, and two Democratic Senators, Obama did extremely well in the primaries there and he is tied with McCain in the current polls. This probably represents Obama's best chance to get over the 270 threshold (assuming he holds on to the Kerry states and picks up Iowa and New Mexico). I've always said that no one votes for Vice President, but given the numbers, the Obama camp may believe that they have no other choice but to pick someone from VA. as the number two on ticket and hope that he can deliver the state. It hasn't worked in the past (see Kerry/Edwards, although I do believe that Cheney was able to deliver the Hell vote in both '00 and '04), but the Obama team may think that it provides them with their best chance to win. Like the 2000 election when it was all about Florida, Florida, Florida, the 2008 election may be all about Virginia, Virginia, Virginia.
The Nevada race is also up for grabs (although I believe if McCain picks Mitt Romney as VP this race will probably swing in his direction) and if Obama were to be able to win it along with New Mexico and Iowa and hold all the Kerry states then we would end up with a 269-269 split. Obama would probably then win the Presidency based on the Democratic majority of the House of Representatives. This has never happened, but there's a first time for everything. Of course adding Hillary Clinton to the ticket may (may) also put Ohio and Florida into the up for grabs column and either of those two states would be more than enough to put Obama over the top (but Clinton is a very long shot at this point, however slipping poll numbers could force the campaign to strongly reconsider her).

McCain has a different strategy. He starts with a winning hand (Bush's 286 EV's from '04). His goal is to hold on to as many of those as possible and strike at the few toss up states from the Kerry stash. The most vulnerable states are:

New Hampshire (4)
Wisconsin (10)
Minnesota (10)
Michigan (17)

New Hampshire has always been very kind to John McCain. In 2000, the state launched his campaign and in 2008, it saved his campaign. The state has a very independent streak and a recent history of close presidential elections (Kerry won by a single point in '04, as did Bush in '00). If we assume that Obama can flip Iowa, New Mexico and one other state (VA or NC) then McCain must take some out of the Kerry '04 column. New Hampshire probably provides him with his best chance, but he will still need one more state to win. Where does he get that? Wisconsin might be a good bet. Gore and Kerry each won this state by literally a few thousand votes each. They both won by less than one percent. If I were McCain, I would spend a lot of money in this state. I think McCain should and probably will focus a lot of his efforts on Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan. If he were to win any of the three, he would practically guarantee himself the election. However, as stated above, Hillary Clinton may be able to put Ohio and Florida in play, which would require McCain to spend more of his time and resources trying to protect those states.

McCain is definitely in the better position. While Obama will be trying to pick up 12 states, McCain can concentrate his efforts in a very few. Also if he can defend both Virginia and North Carolina, the odds grow exponentially against an Obama victory. Obama would have to then rely on the likes of Montana, South Dakota and North Dakota (Bush won these states by an average of more than 20 points) to pull off a victory. If this were a hand of Texas Hold 'em, McCain would be the one holding the Aces while Obama would be a couple of cards short of a straight.
UPDATE ***************************************************************************
Here are my thoughts about Obama's VP pick. If his strategy is to go after the bigger states (Ohio & Florida), then Clinton will be his choice. If his strategy is to go after the smaller states (Colorado, Virginia, Indiana, Nevada), then his choice will be one of the Virginia guys (Kaine, Warner or Webb. I think Webb makes the most sense although he supposedly took himself out of consideration a while back). You will be able to tell exactly which one of those scenarios his campaign thinks is most likely by their choice. Anyway, those are really the only choices that make sense to me. Of course, I reserve the right to change this prediction once he actually announces his running mate on Saturday.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Babbling Brooks

I have always been fairly neutral about David Brooks. He can at times seem insightful, but sometimes he leans toward some partisan rhetoric. His latest column, however convinced me that he is an idiot. Yesterday he wrote an article claiming that the press is the reason that McCain is running a negative campaign (which is absolute and complete bulls%%t!). The reason that McCain was running behind couldn't have been the fact that he offered more of the same and that people weren't interested in hearing that. No, apparently the reason he was running behind was that the press wasn't giving enough attention to his message and they were actually reporting his mistakes. How dare they! McCain wanted to run a good campaign, a new style campaign, but that no good Obama wouldn't agree to his town halls and then the press just didn't cooperate, so he had no choice but to go negative. No choice, you see! It's not his fault. Don't blame the messenger, blame the people who forced him to deliver the message.

So in one simple article, Mr. Brooks has forgiven Senator McCain for anything that he has or might throw at Obama, because Obama and the press made him do it. He's also forgiven him because, damn it, it's working! He adds,

"As the McCain’s campaign has become more conventional, his political prospects have soared."

So apparently, according to Mr. Brooks, the ends justify the means. That's just fantastic. The old Malcolm X "by any means necessary" quote seems perfectly reasonable now. Perhaps Mr. Brooks would like to suggest that McCain supporters start wearing "X" t-shirts to show their solidarity with slain leader. Get those Swift Boats ready, it's gonna be a long campaign.

Of course Mr. Brooks couldn't help but add a couple of "political" observations that transformed the article from just merely ridiculous to the land of absolute fantasy. And I quote,

"Everyone said McCain would be down by double digits at this point. He’s nearly even. Everyone said he’d be vastly outspent. That hasn’t happened. A long-shot candidacy now seems entirely plausible."

First of all, I never heard one person say that McCain would be down by double digits. In fact the last presidential campaign that had a 10% difference was the '84 campaign between Reagan and Mondale. Perhaps in Brooks' vivid imagination he came up with the double digit scenario and is now crediting himself as "everyone". I don't remember anyone saying that he'd be vastly outspent either. The reason that Obama needed to turn down public financing was because McCain was going to have a significant advantage from the the 527's and RNC. Obama is the one who was trying to level the playing field and not the other way around, but I guess Brooks knows best. And anyone who thought that McCain was a long shot to win the election is either living in a fantasy or is David Brooks.

I want to thank you, Mr. Brooks for allowing me to see the idiotic, partisan "journalist" that you are. I will now be able to add all of your commentary to the "I'm just talking out of my ass" file.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Black and White

This weekend I was talking politics with someone when they mentioned that Barack Obama shouldn't bring up his race. They were speaking specifically to the incident where Obama said that he didn't look like the presidents on the US currency. I responded by saying that Obama doesn't have to bring up his race. His race is clearly evident. People have to come to the understanding that there is a huge difference between being white and being black in our society. I can understand that most intelligent people would like to think that our society is in a place were we can look beyond the color of someones skin when making a decision as important as who will lead us for the next four years. I would like to think so too, but I don't have the luxury of living in a world where skin color doesn't matter. As I've written here before, there's a big difference between saying people should have equal rights and believing that they're equal. The biggest lie that our forefathers put in the Constitution was that "All men are created equal". They didn't believe it when they wrote it (because it only applied to a certain type of White male) and most people today certainly don't live by it. The line should have read, "All men are created equal, but some are a little more equal than others".

There are those that will accuse me of being a whiner or playing the victim card or the race card (whatever the f&^K that means), but until you've had to walk a mile in the shoes of someone else, you shouldn't judge them. The question I would ask is how many indignities does someone have to suffer before they have a legitimate right to complain? How many times does a society have to show that it considers you a less valued member before you can cry foul? How many times do have to be made to feel almost sub human before you say enough? How many times do you have to passed by for less qualified people who just happen to be white before you have the right to make some noise? How many times have I have heard people say that the racial problem would go away if people would just stop bringing it up. That always amuses me because it reminds of the attitude of many Southerners during the civil rights era. There are many quotes from people saying that there was no racial problem in the South. It was those agitators from up North that were stirring up the blacks. It's amazingly easy not to question a system that works in your favor. I have lived in NYC for 30 years and you would be amazed at the number of times that a minority has been "accidentally" shot or otherwise abused by the police. The amazing thing is that during all of the time that I've been here, there has never been an "accidental" shooting or incident of brutal violence by NY's finest against anyone who wasn't "of color". I find that an amazing coincidence. And I might have chalked it up to coincidence if I hadn't been subjected to sub-human treatment at the hands of the NYCPD myself.

There are those that will say that now that Barack Obama has become one of only two people vying for the presidency, it proves that we no longer need affirmative action programs. That is as silly as pointing to Tiger Woods as an example that Golf is now open to everyone, without acknowledging the fact that there are hundreds of private Golf clubs that wouldn't allow Tiger Woods to become a member because of the color of his skin. Or pointing to Oprah and saying that her popularity shows everyone has the same opportunity to succeed. The exceptions are the ones who prove the rule. Obama didn't succeed because of the color of his skin, he succeeded in spite of it. In spite of all the roadblocks that this country throws up at people of color, he has managed to overcome them and rise to an as yet unimagined level.

Barack Obama is constantly being labelled in the press. He's too intellectual, acts too white, too thin, too liberal, too elitist, too inexperienced, too condescending, too... something. He's too something alright. Recently John McCain went to a biker convention and in his nonsensical ramblings, basically said that he'd rather be there than be speaking in front of a worldwide audience in Germany. So basically in front of 50,000 white people (who I think would probably give a bad name to rednecks) he bad mouthed Obama for trying to reach out to the rest of the world. He also offered up his wife to compete in a contest that usually devolves into nudity and swallowing various phallic items. Let's imagine how the press and the American people would have reacted if Obama had done something similar. Let's suppose he appeared at the fictional "Monsters of Rap" tour in Atlanta in front of 50,000 black people and said McCain was wrong for visiting Iraq because he was playing politics. Let's assume that he then went on to say that he'd rather be there addressing the MOR audience of real Americans than being in front of a bunch of well wishing foreigners any day. And then he offered up his wife to compete in the "Miss Bootylicious" contest because he was sure she could win it. Do you believe that the press and American people would have treated that as just "Obama being Obama"? Do you think they would have thought that it was "kind of funny"? Do you think this story would have been forgotten in a day? That is the double standard that Obama is dealing with. McCain is seen by too old as some people, but when he does things that actually shows that his memory may be faulty, those are seen as slightly humorous "senior moments". Being too old is not seen as threatening at all, but being "too black" rings all the alarms among the American public.

The reality of being black in America will not change after November 4th. It certainly hasn't changed because Obama is the Democratic nominee. There is some notion in the press that this is some kind of transformative event, but even if the improbable happens and Obama were to win, the facts on the ground would remain the same. The richest of us will continue to maintain and grow those fortunes on the backs of the poorest of us. Racists and bigots would continue to be racists and bigots. Who you know is still going to be more important that what you know and the police will continue to "accidentally" shoot and abuse minorities. I would hope that the legacy of an Obama victory would resonate with the youngest of us. They would be the ones who would grow up in a country where they wouldn't question whether the highest office in the land can be occupied by a woman or a Hispanic or any person who is not a white male.

This piece is probably a little more rambling than I would have liked it to be, but I'm just God damned tired of people trying to tell me what me what my reality is. or why I shouldn't feel the way I do about the police. Or why we don't live in country where the color of your skin can give you an advantage. I don't live in that fantasy land. The real truth is that America can be deadly if you happen to be in the wrong place and are the wrong color. Do you think that we would have heard of either John McCain or George W. Bush if they were born into the same circumstances as Obama? Comedian Chris Rock tells a joke about the fact that there wasn't one white person in his audience who trade places with him in spite of the fact that he was rich. That may have been intended as a joke, but it is also the reality of America. And that my friends, is the truth.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Future Shock

A little bit of fun for Friday.

Future headlines.

McCain says "Social Security is good enough for me"

After winning the Presidential election, John McCain decides to retire and live of his government check instead of serving in office. "If I could lift my hands above my shoulders, I'd give Social Security two thumbs way up!"

John Edwards opens marriage counseling centers

The former presidential candidate stated that "marriage is the bedrock of society" and "monogamy makes me smile". "I plan to use myself as the best example of a husband in today's society". Elizabeth Edwards had no comment

Dick Cheney is named as the new host of the NBC Today show.

The head of NBC programming made the announcement this morning and added, "I can't think of anyone that America would rather wake up to". Cheney was unavailable for comment. His spokesperson said that he was being measured for a new mask.

Barack Obama wins $700 million in the largest Powerball jackpot ever.

When asked what he was going to do first, the Senator replied, "I"m going to Disneyland! and I'm gonna buy it", he also added, "I always thought that Geraldine Ferraro was just blowing smoke when she talked about how lucky I am, but clearly she was right." His wife said,"I guess this makes us regular folks now, just like the McCains."

Cindy McCain wins the Ms. Buffalo Chip pageant.

In an unexpected move, Cindy McCain entered the annual pageant in South Dakota. She blew away the competition with a topless 360 degree spin that ended in the splits while singing the star spangled banner. "I just didn't want to make a liar out of John", she said. "He said that I could win this thing and I just wanted to show the world that he's a man of his word".

George Bush wins the Nobel and Pulitzer prizes in the same year.

The former President pulled off the unprecedented feat for his work in Physics and his comprehensive biography of of his dog Spot. He was unable to pick up either prize in person because he was on vacation, but he did send a telegram. The note read in part, "sorry I can't be there but it's great to win stuff". As most remember, in his last act as President, he replaced the entire selection committees of both organizations with Karl Rove.

Nancy Pelosi attacked at a homeless shelter.

Things got ugly on Thanksgiving as House Leader Nancy Pelosi was attacked as she served meals to the homeless. According to eyewitnesses, the trouble started when the shelter ran out of Turkey. "People kept on coming up, but all she could say was that Turkey was off the table." She was not injured, but a lot of hungry people went without their traditional meal. "Just like a typical politician", one man was overheard saying, "they'll say anything to get you to show up, but then they don't deliver."

Hillary and Bill Clinton are moving back into the White House.

The Clintons are changing addresses again. Bill was very happy to moving back to a place that held such fond memories for him. "I can't wait to get back into the oval office and kick back with a couple of cigars" President Clinton told a packed room of reporters. Hillary was quick to add that she wanted to undo all the damage that Republicans had done since she left. When reached for comment a White House spokesman said that he was unaware of their plans. When asked about the fact that the President usually doesn't share the White House with another family, The Clintons responded that the White House belonged to everyone, but that since they had been there for 8 years already, they had acquired squatters rights.

Have a good weekend everybody!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Barack Obama has been on the defensive since he returned from his trip to the Middle East and Europe. The McCain campaign has taken that time to launch a series of ads questioning Obama's readiness to lead because of his celebrity? It doesn't make a whole lot sense, but the media spent many an hour discussing the relevance of this ad and whether it would have any impact (it really doesn't seem to have moved the needle at all). The Obama camp, however, has taken the bait and fired back with an ad of it's own claiming that McCain has been the biggest political celebrity in Washington for years. I have no idea why they would decide to go down this road because I don't think anyone really cares who is the bigger celebrity of the two is. It doesn't help solve any of America's problems and frankly distracts from the discussion of the real issues of this campaign.

Obama has stated that he would like to run a campaign based on the issues, but John McCain simply isn't going to let him get away with that. The McCain camp knows that their best chance to win is to make Obama seem "exotic" and "different" or somehow less "American" than John McCain. The issues are not really going to be that important in the end. This election is going be decided by the candidate who most effectively paints the opposition in the most negative light. Obama is going to try to do that on the issues and McCain is going to try to do it with everything but the issues. The problem Obama faces is that trying to have a serious discussion about the problems facing Americans isn't nearly as interesting to the media as his being compared to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. The McCain camp will take this sort of nonsense as far as it will carry them. As long as the media continues to focus on the frivolous aspects of the campaign, then the McCain camp will continue to feed it to them.

It doesn't help that some in the media continue to try and paint Obama with the same brush as the McCain camp. On Sunday, Cokie Roberts criticized Obama for vacationing in Hawaii because it was too "exotic". According to Cokie, the fact that Hawaii is actually a part of the United States, he grew up there, and his Grandmother and Sister live there is not enough of a reason to visit the state. Of course the fact that whites are a minority of the population couldn't have been the reason that it was too "exotic". Could it? Perhaps he should have spent his vacation in a less exotic location. According to Cokie, Myrtle Beach (81% white) would have been much more appropriate.

So is the McCain strategy working? If you judge it by the media reaction, it may very well be. Obama has continued to try and talk about the issues, but he has been drowned out by the celebrity talk and questions of his arrogance. He is playing defense, while hoping that his message will somehow break through the clutter. It's the polite strategy and the more honorable strategy, but it is probably not the more effective strategy. In order to combat the nonsense coming from the McCain campaign, Obama needs to put together a more effective media plan. His strength on the ground notwithstanding, the media is where most Americans get their information about the candidates. Certainly the famed "low information voter" isn't going to be particularly impressed that Obama has more campaign offices than McCain does. The American voter needs information spoon fed to them. They need small sound bites that they can digest and understand. Empty headed Britney + empty headed Paris = empty headed Obama, got it. Obama + adoring crowds = anti Christ, got it. Black + Muslim name = Terrorist, got it. Harvard Law School + "exotic" background = arrogant, elitist, got it.

It would be nice to think that this campaign could be decided on the issues (because the gulf between the two candidates is vast), but the Obama camp would be making a grave mistake to believe that it will win the day by pointing out the differences between the candidates on those issues. The people who care about the issues have already made up their minds. All that is left out there are LIV's, and wafflers. Those people cannot be swayed by a clear annunciation of the challenges that we face and either of the candidates' solutions. They will be choosing based on a a variety of factors, from things as varied as their Horoscopes to a flip of a coin. Those people need to be armed with other factoids besides the candidates' positions on off-shore drilling. So perhaps they should try these on for size: Flies around in a private jet + wife worth $120 million = not one of you. Or Father and Grandfather were admirals + 5th from bottom of graduating class + crashed 3 planes in the Navy = free pass McCain. Or $500 shoes + Golf with former President George Bush + thinks people are better off than 8 years ago = 3rd Bush administration. When it comes to the influencing the undecideds, the Obama campaign needs to subscribe to the KISS plan. Keep it simple, stupid. It's time for them to start going on the offensive. You can't score if your opponent always has the ball.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Answer in the Affirmative

There are those in the Conservative world who are disseminating the idea that Barack Obama, if elected, would constitute the first affirmative action President. I have to laugh at the absolute absurdity of this claim because both the current President and the Republican nominee for same office are among the biggest beneficiaries of affirmative action. I'm not talking about the government mandated kind, I'm talking about the fact that both of these men have been given advantages that the rest of us simply do not get.

Let us look at the career of one John S. McCain III as an example. His father and Grandfather were both Admirals. He graduated near the bottom of his class at West Point, but somehow managed to get a prime spot as in naval aviator school. He crashed two planes during training but that didn't stop him from from being given a prime spot as a fighter pilot attached to an aircraft carrier in Vietnam. He spent most of his time in Navy as a POW and his piloting skills were apparently dubious at best, yet still managed to acquire 17 awards and decorations. After coming back from the war, he was named as commander of the largest aviation training group in the Navy. After divorcing his disabled wife he married into a family that owned a large beer distributorship and was immediately named a Vice President. Two years later he ran for and won a set in Congress with a campaign financed in large part by his wife. Clearly there were many actions taken by others to advance the career of Senator McCain.

George W. Bush (as the son of a multi millionaire who was well connected in Washington) was an alcohol abuser, who by his own admission, was a little unfocused in his youth (which he claims extended until he was 40). He had a string of failed business ventures before buying into the Texas Rangers (I won't even go into his valiant service he provided by protecting Texas and Alabama from invasion during the Vietnam war), for whom he served as President. After his father had served two terms as Vice President and one as President, he ran for Governor of Texas and easily won the Republican nomination, even though he has lost in his only attempt at public office in 1978 (unfortunately this was before his father had become famous). After one and a half terms in office, he ran for President and "won" the 2000 election when the Supreme Court decided in a 5-4 decision to halt a recount in Florida.

If either of these men had been born under the same circumstances as Barack Obama, I am quite sure that we would not know their names. McCain, who has recently changed his position on affirmative action to more closely align himself with the base of the Republican party, has stated that he "is all for equal and fair opportunity for all Americans". I would be too if I had been given the GIANT helping hand that he has. Perhaps he thinks that life works that way for everyone or perhaps he just doesn't give a shit. I wish someone would have the opportunity to ask him if he thinks that he could have gotten to his position without being the son and grandson of Admirals or the husband of a woman who is worth over $100 million. The funny thing is that like George W. Bush, he probably thinks that he's a self made man. In Baseball terms, he probably he thinks he hit a triple, when he was actually born standing on third base.

I have no idea if Barack Obama has been the beneficiary of affirmative action during his academic career, but I do know that he was the President of the Law Review at Harvard and graduated magna cum laude. I can say that he certainly has not received the preferential treatment that both George W. Bush and John McCain were privy to in the years preceding their entries into politics. Barack Obama was born with a proverbial plastic spoon in his mouth and has manged to rise to challenge for the highest office in this land. If you are looking for an affirmative action action President look no further than the current holder and the Republican nominee for the office.

Monday, August 04, 2008

I Say No

The latest national polls show Barack Obama and John McCain in a dead heat after two weeks of non stop negative attacks from McCain. The msm has done a very good job of spreading the McCain message by endlessly replaying them every night. The strategy being employed by the McCain camp is right out of the Lee Atwater/Karl Rove playbook. Turn your opponents perceived strength into a negative. This was how the Republicans managed to turn John Kerry's military service against him. It seemed amazing that the American public would somehow question the service of someone who actually volunteered for war and was injured (twice!) when his opponent used his father's influence to avoid serving in the same foreign war, but somehow it worked. Kerry's bravery was questioned, his injuries were questioned, his patriotism was questioned and a majority of the American people bought it hook, line and sinker.

Obama's greatest perceived strength is his popularity at home and abroad. By accusing him of demagoguery, the McCain campaign is hoping to divert the attention of the American people from the actual issues and make this a referendum on Obama himself. According to the McCain campaign, Obama has the audacity to be popular overseas (because why would we want the rest of the world to actually like our leaders), the arrogance to think that he actually might become President (he is one of two people still left in the running for the job), and is suffering under the delusion that he can actually relate to the common man (clearly no one who was raised by a single mother who actually had to rely on food stamps at one point could hope to understand what the blue collar workers are feeling).

The polls show that this tactic is working. It's almost amusing when the msm makes a statement about Independents being turned off by negative advertising. I would like to see the studies that show that. This is clearly a statement based on anecdotal evidence and the misplaced hope that negative advertising has a detrimental effect on the candidate that runs them. Time and time again, campaigns have turned to this tactic for one simple reason, it works. It worked against Dukakis, it worked against Kerry, it worked against Gore (remember the lie that was perpetuated that he said that he invented the Internet. I'd bet that a majority of the people in this country still believe that he said that.)

Is there anything that the Obama campaign can do to counter this tactic? Truthfully the answer is not much. Obama could respond with attack ads of his own, but he probably won't. Once an opponent starts attacking, you are put on the defensive. Your campaign is forced to answer the charges and you have less time to get your own message across. Obama continues to hold meetings and give speeches about the economy, but the msm is in a tizzy over the fact that the McCain campaign ad that compared Obama to Britney and Paris. Even David Letterman carried the McCain message to the people last week with the top 10 reasons that show Obama is arrogant. As the "Obama is a Muslim" lie that has been refuted a million times but refuses to die shows, once you unleash a story to the public, a percentage of them will believe it regardless of the evidence to the contrary. Now a big reason for that is because people want to believe. There are people who want to believe that Obama is a Muslim extremist, there are people who want to believe that he's arrogant, there are people that want to believe that he's out of touch, there are people who want to believe that he's only gotten as far as he has because of his race. There are a lot of people who are just looking for a reason not to vote for him.

The enthusiasm for McCain among the core Republican constituency has never been very high. He almost certainly get a boost after the convention, but his ability to win this election is based almost solely on his ability to demonize his opponent. The Republican brand has been badly damaged by this administration and the Congress is where that will be felt the most. Democrats are poised to gain seats in both houses of Congress in the November election. The big question is still whether those gains will include the White House. As I have stated here before, I don't think that Obama can win in November. I can guarantee that he will make McCain look silly in the debates, but it won't really matter. Most people will come into those debates with their minds made up and they will see what they want to see. John McCain came into this campaign season saying that he would run an honorable campaign. That clearly wasn't working, so although it took some time for them to get to it, the McCain campaign has finally hit upon the winning theme; "My friends, I am not Barack Obama".

Friday, August 01, 2008

The One

According to the McCain campaign, Barack Obama has a big head. How dare he say things like, "We've got a good shot to win", or "We are the change we've been waiting for". Arrogance is what they say it is, sheer arrogance. I mean it's not like he's one of the two people remaining in contention for the job or anything. It's not like even trying to attain the position of leader of free world requires someone with a massive ego. No that's just silly and someone as humble and down to earth as McCain is rightfully upset at what he sees in his opponent. I mean he talked to farmers in Iowa about Arugula for God sake (of course he was talking to arugula farmers at the time, but let's not quibble about the details). He's not the kind of guy you want to have a beer with, unlike John McCain. Obama went to Harvard Law School. You know what that means. He was the editor of the Law Review. John McCain finished 5th from the bottom of his graduating class. Now that's the kind of person that we can all relate to. Someone who strives for mediocrity is exactly who we want running this country. Oh, he may not be the smartest guy in the room, but at least he's not lauding his superior intellect over everybody.

Obama doesn't care about the average man and woman. I mean, how could he. Did you know that his house cost over $1 million! What an outrage. The fact that John McCain and his wife own multiple multi million dollar properties and travel around Arizona in a private jet (because as Cindy says, it's the only way to get around Arizona), doesn't mean that he isn't a man of the people. John McCain is as humble as they come and he cares about people. Look at how he takes care of his disabled wife. Not Cindy, I mean his first wife, who became disabled in a car accident while he was a POW. He cared so much about her that when he got home, he eventually started having an affair with Cindy, got a divorce and married his $100 million heiress a month later just barely after the ink dried. Now if that doesn't show what a man of the people he is, I don't know what does.

John McCain is a war hero. That Barack Obama was probably here getting high and engaging in free love while McCain was a POW. Never mind the fact that during the Summer of Love, Obama was barely out of Kindergarten. Obama is such an arrogant ass that he actually went on a trip to the Middle East and Europe and had the nerve to meet with the leaders of the countries that he visited as if he were already the President. Never mind the fact that McCain took a similar trip and met with essentially the same people earlier this year. McCain did it as a humble Senator and presumptive nominee of the Republican party, Obama did it as a SENATOR and the PRESUMPTIVE NOMINEE of the Democratic party. See the difference. That smug prick.

Obama's got some nerve. Clearly John McCain deserves the presidency. Why is Obama even contesting the point? He's got to learn some humility. He's got to learn that his place is behind McCain. McCain is one of the people. McCain is the real American (even though he wasn't born in America). Obama has to learn that people who look like him and have a name like he does, shouldn't be running for President and they certainly shouldn't be presuming that they actually have a chance to win the job. A chance to win? Ha, ha. I have to laugh at the audacity (that's right I'll use Obama's own words against him) of someone as out of touch with the people as Obama thinking that they have a chance to win. Let's all teach him a lesson this November. Let's show him that WE THE PEOPLE would rather have a President who is humble. We'd rather have a President who finished in the bottom 1% of his graduating class. We'd rather have a President who left his disabled wife for a much younger and much richer model. We'd rather have a President who travels around his home state by private jet. We'd rather have a President who call his wife a c t in public. We'd rather have a President who can't tell the difference between the Muslim factions in the Middle East. But he's definitely not arrogant. Take that Obama! Take that and smoke it along with all your Muslim terrorist buddies! You conceited, condescending, narcissistic jackass.