Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Five days out: the math
The latest early vote and absentee ballot numbers are absolutely stunning, and great news for the good guys:

Democrats are ahead in terms of turnout by 205,205 voters out of the nearly 3 million votes cast. For the first time that I can recall, Republicans are below 50 percent in absentee ballot returns. Taht has never happened, in my memory. And the advantage that Dems have in early vote is nearly two to one.

Total Ballots Cast





Thursday, October 30







Voted Early







Dem

%

Ind

%

Rep

%

Total

894049

53.22%

276494

16.46%

509371

30.32%

1,679,914


Returned Absentee Ballots





dem

%

ind

%

rep

%

Total

464325

35.64%

194859

14.95%

643798

49.41%

1,302,982


Total Ballots Cast






dem

%

ind

%

rep

%

Total

1,358,374

45.54%

471,353

15.80%

1,153,169

38.66%

2,982,896


2006 Comparative







Voted Early (2006)






Dem

%

Ind

%

Rep

%

Total

244688

45.48%

76044

14.14%

217246

40.38%

537,978


Returned Absentee Ballots (2006)





dem

%

ind

%

rep

%

Total

177049

30.90%

81406

14.21%

314582

54.90%

573,037


Total Ballots Cast (2006)






dem

%

ind

%

rep

%

Total

421,737

37.96%

157,450

14.17%

531,828

47.87%

1,111,015

The electrifying Democratic turnout is being driven in large part by black voters, although it does appear that so far, younger voters are underperforming according to an Orlando Sentinel analysis:

A Sentinel analysis of the record 1.4 million ballots cast during the first nine days of early voting compared the age, race and party affiliation of those who voted early against a list of Florida's 11.2 million registered voters. It showed:

*More than one in five early voters -- 22 percent -- was black, though blacks account for just over 13 percent of the electorate. Obama is the first black person running for president as a major-party nominee, and his campaign has made an effort to turn out the black vote early.

*More than half of all the early voters were 55 or older, with a bit more than 29 percent of them 65 or older and 22 percent ages 55 to 64. Combined, those in this group comprise about 40 percent of the total electorate and are considered the most reliable voters.

*Nearly 54 percent were Democrats, a group that makes up 42 percent of the electorate. And just 30 percent were Republicans, whose registrants total 36 percent of registered voters.

*Young people are turning out in disproportionately low numbers. Though major registration efforts this year boosted their totals to nearly 25 percent of the total electorate, voters younger than 35 represent only 15 percent of early voters, making them the worst-performing demographic group in the analysis.

Quipped University of South Florida political scientist Susan MacManus, an expert in Florida voting demographics: "It could be that college students will do like they do everything else: cramming for a test, or whatever, and procrastinate."

20% of state electorate has voted

The challenge for Team Obama will be to get those younger voters out. Pronto.

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posted by JReid @ 1:45 PM  
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Barack and Bubba, together at last
The Barack Obama-Bill Clinton convergence in Kissimmee is airing live now on MSNBC. It's something else. These two men have given about the strongest cross-endorsement by formerly bitter rivals that I've seen in politics (with the exception, of course, of Hillary.) Nice work on both men's parts.

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posted by JReid @ 11:55 PM  
Mr. Obama's neighborhood
Barack Obama began his closing argument tonight with a one-two-three-four punch. First, he appeared with Bill Clinton this afternoon in Orlando ... second, he traveled down to Broward County to speak to a packed BankAtlantic Center arena (I went to drop off tickets for some media guests at around noon today and there was already a line, including people who clearly looked like they had camped out...) third, he debuted his much-anticipated 30 minuted infomercial, which brilliantly laid out not only his vision, but Obama's most important quality given the metrics of this election: his regular guyness. Obama in the video, and indeed, in real life, was measured, calm, friendly, approachable and even. He was fatherly, intelligent, youthful but not too young, and above all, totally, completely, unswervingly normal. Kind of a black Mr. Rogers (with amber waves of grain and regular people instead of puppets...)



And fourth, the campaign released this hilarious online ad, which reminds us all that the race, though it seems destined to fall into Obama's hands, is not over. Not for six more days. Here's the ad:



I love this freaking campaign!

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posted by JReid @ 9:45 PM  
From blue, blue New England
Chris Shays, co-chair of John McCain's Connecticut campaign and the last remaining New England Republican Senator, damns the "maverick's" campaign, without the faint praise:

Locked in a tight congressional race, Rep. Chris Shays of Connecticut’s 4th district is the latest in a slew of Republican incumbents, including Sen. Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, to concede a near-certain victory to the Obama camp.

“I just don’t see how [McCain] can win,” Shays said in an interview here on Sunday.

Shays, the Connecticut co-chair of McCain’s campaign, said he was disappointed by the standards of McCain’s race, which has increasingly relied on mudslinging.

“He has lost his brand as a maverick; he did not live up to his pledge to fight a clean campaign,” Shays said.

But Shays — who is famous for never running a negative campaign ad, even when behind — said the negativity in the presidential race has nevertheless been flowing both ways. He said that though they have been diluted by positive ads, Sen. Obama’s campaign has empirically run a greater number of negative ones.

“Obama has four times the amount of money McCain has, so for every negative ad he runs he can balance it with an upbeat one,” Shays said. “McCain, on the other hand, has been nearly 100 percent negative.”

Shays laid much of the blame on the far right, which, he said, has “hijacked” the Republican Party, threatening to walk out if its demand are not met — despite being in the minority.

More on Shays' comments, from Newsday:

"He's taken the thing that is most valuable, his (maverick) brand, and he's not staying true to it," Shays said. "I admire John McCain more than you can imagine. He would make a great president."

But, Shays added, "I don't see how he wins if he isn't true to who he is ... a straight shooter talking about the issues."

And the heart of Shays' problem:
An Oct. 20 UConn-Hearst Newspapers poll shows Himes and Shays each supported by 44 percent of likely voters. The same poll showed voters in the district prefering Obama over McCain, 54 percent to 34 percent.

Democrats outnumber Republicans in the district 146,000 to 103,000, while nearly 157,000 more voters are unaffiliated.
Uh-oh... So, what about McCain's other Connecticut co-chair, Joe Lieberman?

Well, he's taken to modifying his comments about Barack Obama, surprise surprise, as his committee chairmanship begins to fade slowly into the distance.
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, one of John McCain’s closest political allies, said Friday he does not believe that Barack Obama is unprepared to be president.

“I’m saying he is less prepared than McCain,” Lieberman said.

But what about Sarah Palin?

Is she ready?

“If, God forbid, an accident occurs or something of that kind?” Lieberman said. “Um, she’ll be ready. You know, she’s had executive experience. She’s smart and she will have had on-the-job training.”…

“[McCain] is ready to be our president at this very difficult time,” Lieberman said. “And Sen. Obama is not as ready. It’s as direct as that.”

By the way, the writer of the New Yorker post including that "modification," Hendrick Hertzberg, goes on to lay into Holy Hypocritical Joe:

That little word—“as”—is supposed to be Lieberman’s life jacket, I guess, now that the SS McCain looks like it’s going glug glug glug and may not, after all, be seaworthy enough to deliver its chaplain to that big corner office in the Pentagon. Google “lieberman obama ‘not ready’” if you need a few thousand samples of the unqualified way Joe talked about Barack’s readiness before the ship hit the iceberg.

Admittedly, I have strongly disliked Lieberman ever since he cemented his bogus reputation for “integrity” by denouncing Bill Clinton’s supposed lack of family values during the Lewinsky fiasco. I thought the denunciation was—what’s the word?—inappropriate, coming from a man who not only divorced his first wife while their children were at highly vulnerable ages (just past puberty) but also had the gall to attribute the divorce to the insufficient piety of his wife. In other words, he was too good for her.

Oh, Joe... By the way, the old "hey, maybe he's just not AS ready is kind of an official campaign tactic...





The idea, of course, is to court undecided voters who actually like Barack Obama, by telling them that maybe after four years of McCain's stewardship of the country, he'll be (less of a terrorist communist socialst America hater...) and more ready! Warm, and fuzzy!

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posted by JReid @ 9:33 PM  
An early vote surge, fueled by black voters
With a hat tip to FiveThirtyEight.com, Michael McDonald of George Mason University has compiled early voting numbers across the country, and they are crushing 2004 totals, with the black vote doing blockbuster numbers. In Florida, for instance, more than 35% of the early voting total is black voters. And that's with blacks making up just 14 percent of the state population. Nearly a third of Florida's votes had already been cast as of yesterday -- astounding in any election year. In Georgia, 36% have already been cast and 35% of the voters are black. In North Carolina and New Mexico, more than 39% of the vote is already in. Extraordinary.

I've seen it for myself here in South Florida, where the lines at polling sites in black neighborhoods are literally spilling onto the sidewalk. True, lines are long everywhere, but for majority black areas to have the longest lines is a change from recent elections, in which the black vote has steadily declined.

If you want more, refresh the site often. Back to the black vote. Nate Silver of 538 writes:
... there are three states in which early voting has already exceeded its totals from 2004. These are Georgia, where early voting is already at 180 percent of its 2004 total, Louisiana (169 percent), and North Carolina (129 percent).

Hmm ... can anybody think of something that those three states have in common?



The African-American population share is the key determinant of early voting behavior. In states where there are a lot of black voters, early voting is way, way up. In states with fewer African-Americans, the rates of early voting are relatively normal.
History in action, and shades of 1960...

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posted by JReid @ 12:05 AM  
Once more, under the bus
Sarah Palin aide Nicole Wallace apparently taking friendly fire over divagate

According to ABC's Jake Tapper, Palin handler Nicolle Wallace, is getting hosed over that $150,000 Sarah Palin wardrobe malfunction:

Palin has taken to blaming the entire incident – as well as her introduction to the nation – on her “handlers,” presumably meaning Wallace, who was a key part of the team that handled Palin's successful announcement speech, her successful convention speech, and her interviews with Charlie Gibson, Sean Hannity and Katie Couric.

McCain allies say that Palin allies talked to Fox News commentator Fred Barnes to further throw Wallace under the bus. Barnes yesterday said, “the person who went and bought the clothes and, as I understand it put the clothes on her credit card, went to Saks and Neiman Marcus...the staffer who did that has been a coward” for not coming forward and accepting the blame for the $150,000 shopping spree. Barnes clarified that he was talking about Wallace.

And Nicole didn't even buy the clothes. Jake Tapper has the long list of previous wheel well residents...
... some Republicans are starting to now say they should have seen this coming, since Palin has a reputation for making friends who can help her and then screwing them over.

The list is long:

* Former Wasilla Mayor John Stein says he mentored Palin during her 1994 run for City Council. Then she decided to challenge him and run for Mayor. “Things got very ugly,’ Naomi Tigner, a friend of the Steins, told Salon.com. “Sarah became very mean-spirited.” Palin allies suggested she would he “Wasilla's first Christian mayor,” even though Stein is Protestant. Palin allies also whispered that Stein and his wife – who hadn’t taken his name - were not legally wed. “We actually had to produce our marriage certificate,’ Stein said. His wife died in 2005 without ever reconciling with Palin. “I had a hand in creating Sarah, but in the end she blew me out of the water,” Stein told Salon. “Sarah's on a mission, she's an opportunist.”

Tapper's conclusion:

... all I can tell you is that some McCain allies are now quite suspect of Palin and worried that Sen. McCain is going to become just the latest Palin ally whom she uses – and then discards -- in her rapid ascendance to power.

Oooh, barracuda...

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posted by JReid @ 12:02 AM  
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Let her win, we will rule
Richard Cohen unmasks the truth behind neoconservative Palinophily:

Contrast the praise for Palin with the back of the hand given to the lamentable Harriet Miers. Nominated to the Supreme Court by George W. Bush, she encountered fierce resistance from, of all people, conservatives. They questioned her ideological fervor and wondered about her legal acumen. "There is a gaping disproportion between the stakes associated with this vacancy and the stature of the person nominated to fill it," wrote a certain Kristol in the Weekly Standard. As luck would have it, he was right.

But why such keen objectivity regarding Miers and not Palin, for whom the phrase "gaping disproportion" would seem to have been coined? The answer is obvious. It is not "the stature of the person nominated" that matters, it is the person's ideology. Miers not only had questionable credentials but questionable ideological purity as well -- what the National Review called "the substance and the muddle of her views." Palin is a down-the-line rightie, so her inexperience, her lack of interest in foreign affairs, her numbing provincialism and her gifts for fabrication (Can we go over that "bridge to nowhere" routine again?) do not trouble her ideological handlers. Let her get into office. They will govern.

Aha. There's the rub.

Like George W. Bush: Sarah Palin is seen by the neoconservative coterie as the simple-Simon (or is that Simone...) faux populist rube whom they hope to set up as the popular vessel through which they will govern. She mollifies the "crazies" (the religious right, the rural right, and the more self-determined fiscal right,) and they get to keep foisting their Middle East think-tankery on a hapless public. The payoff to the fiscons is that they get to loot the Treasury and hoard the money through obscene tax cuts for the rich. Sadly, the religious right and the rural "real American" Limbaugh listeners get nothing but jingoistic cheerleading, empty promises (I'm sure the GOP is gonna get right on that federal banning of gay marriage and abortion thing... any minute now...) and frightening tales of shotgun confiscation and scary brown people lurking at the Mall of the Americas! to keep them in line...) As for Sarah, in the neocons' estimation, like George, they need only flatter her and promote her and suppress opposition to her within the Republican Party, and it's a go. In that sense, it is she, and not John McCain (the neocons' original candidate in 2000 and again this year) who truly is Bush II.

Unfortunately for the neocons, I think ... gulp ... Sarah thinks she's smarter than them... (and she actually thinks she should be president... seriously...)

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posted by JReid @ 11:50 PM  
Poor Shep Smith
He really is better than the network he finds himself on ...

The Fox News anchor forced to live through yet another strange Joe the Plumber interview as the Average Superstar bungles more precious moments of his 15 minutes of fame with Palinite babbling. Here's a bit of Joe's eternal wisdom. Asked if he really meant it when he "went ahead and agreed with" a McCain supporter who suggested a vote for Barack Obama would mean the death of Israel...
PLUMBER: No, that is just my personal opinion that I've come up with by looking into different facts and what I think. That is what my message has been about. I haven't been telling people to go out and vote. Listen, you don't want my opinion on foreign policy. I know just enough about foreign policy to probably be dangerous.

SMITH: That is what I was wondering. I wonder if you think it is dangerous at all for people to say that a vote for Barack Obama is the same as a vote for Israel, if you think that is dangerous for people to start believing. What happens if the polls are right and he becomes President of the United States and people start thinking that this means the death of Israel. Are you worried about what people might do if they actually believe something like that?

PLUMBER: That goes back to what I just got done saying. Some people believe it wholeheartedly. This gentleman I spoke to is Middle America. Therefore...it is very important to him -- important to me, but especially important to this gentleman. He is Middle America and he was able to get on there and make his point, and I agreed with him. I have no idea where John McCain's position is on that. John McCain is his own person, just like I am.

JTP is all McCain's now -- he's campaigning for him, dontcha know! Which should work really well with swing voters ... did I mention that he doesn't want his Social Security checks when he retires? Maybe he could sit next to "Jomama" on the bus and keep her company, since apparently, John McCain has fallen for Joe, and out of love with her.

Watch Shep work:

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posted by JReid @ 11:28 PM  
More on the Crist decision
Apparently, Charlie Crist's decision to extend early voting came after he got a letter from the nine Democrats in the Florida Congressional delegation, though I'm told the state party and statewide elected officials also put pressure on him. Jeb Bush used a similar order to keep polls open after voting problems broke out in 2002 when the second or third iteration of new voting machines was being implemented in the state.

Not everybody is happy about the decision. Take this guy:
"He just blew Florida for John McCain," one plugged in Florida Republican just told me.
The "me" in this case is not me, of course, it's Politico's Ben Smith. So, why so glum, Mr. Republican? (who is apparently the former state party chairman...) The polls, for one thing:
Barack Obama is leading Republican presidential rival John McCain in two battleground states, Florida and Ohio, where voters have more confidence in his ability to handle the troubled economy, a new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll has found.

... In Florida, a state that was considered a likely win for Republicans not long ago, McCain is trailing, 50% to 43%.

In both states, Obama, a Democrat, has opened commanding leads over McCain among women, young people, first-time voters and blacks and other minorities.
Well there you go.

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posted by JReid @ 10:13 PM  
The Blackberry blunders again
Come on, Douglas ... you can do better than this:

(CNN Analysis) ... Some 74% of companies said that eliminating the tax exclusion would have a "strong negative impact on their workforce," according to a September survey by the American Benefits Council.

Estimates vary, but the Tax Policy Center estimates that 20 million people would lose their employer-based coverage by 2018. Roughly the same number would gain insurance through other means. But, overall, McCain's plan would do little to reduce the number of uninsured.

Also of concern, experts say, is the fact that the $5,000 tax credit would be indexed to inflation. As a result, it would not keep up with the swiftly rising cost of health care, which was soaring as much as 13% a year in the middle of this decade.

McCain advisers counter these concerns. Changing the tax treatment wouldn't hurt the employer-sponsored system and would allow more of the uninsured to buy their own coverage, they say. Also, his advisers say a McCain administration would keep an eye on the credit to make sure it didn't lag behind the cost of coverage, while also working to lower the rate of medical inflation.

Younger, healthier workers likely wouldn't abandon their company-sponsored plans, said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, McCain's senior economic policy adviser.

"Why would they leave?" said Holtz-Eakin. "What they are getting from their employer is way better than what they could get with the credit."

Was that in the talking points???

Well, at least he's being honest, because if McCain healthcare were to ever become law, most Americans would be screwed.

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posted by JReid @ 9:18 PM  
Whack job?
The wheels continue to fly off the McCain-Palin straight talk express... Politico's Mike Allen reports:
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, on a “demoralized” McCain campaign: “Palin is going to be the most vivid chapter of the McCain campaign's post-mortem. … Those loyal to McCain believe they have been unfairly blamed for over-handling Palin. They say they did the best they could with what they got.”

***In convo with Playbook, a top McCain adviser one-ups the priceless “diva” description, calling her “a whack job.”
Ouch!

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posted by JReid @ 9:12 PM  
Attack of the Palinites. part 2
When you unleash the crazies, you get the crazies...



If you missed Gov. Palin rebuking the shouter like she does those darned protesters, it's because she didn't.

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posted by JReid @ 9:03 PM  
A Democratic victory in Florida
No, not that one (yet) ... the Florida Democratic Party, and Democratic members of Congress and the state legislature push Charlie Crist to do the right thing:

Long lines at the polls prompted Gov. Charlie Crist to sign an executive order on Tuesday, extending voting times to 12 hours a day.

Effective immediately, early voting sites statewide will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Oct. 31. Sat., Nov. 1 and Sun., Nov. 2, polls will be open a total of 12 hours, to be determined by the supervisors of elections in the individual counties.

“I have a responsibility to the voters of our state to ensure that the maximum number of citizens can participate in the electoral process, and that every person can exercise the right to vote,” Crist said.

The Obama-Biden campaign in Florida released the following statement:

TAMPA – Obama-Biden State Director Steven Schale issued the following statement regarding the extension of early voting:

“We applaud Gov. Crist for responding to the overwhelming enthusiasm shown by Florida voters during this election season. To this point, an estimated 2 million Floridians have already cast a ballot over the last eight days.

“It is critical that everyone who is eligible and eager to vote be able to participate and have their voice heard. And now with the extended hours, thousands more will have that opportunity.

“We encourage Floridians to continue casting their votes before Election Day, either at an early voting location or by mail, and to participate in this election – because voting is democracy in action.”

And state Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen Thurman added this:

"With a record number of voters across the Sunshine State turning out to early vote, Governor Charlie Crist did the right thing today by extending early voting hours. I want to thank the members of our Congressional Delegation, who after witnessing long lines throughout Florida, worked with the Governor to make it easier for Floridians to cast their ballots by expanding early voting. This action will help ensure that a record number of Floridians can participate in this historic election and should ease the lines that have been seen across Florida at polling places. We will continue to work with election officials throughout Florida to make it easier for every eligible voter to cast their votes. It is now incumbent on our Legislature to permanently ease the restrictions on early voting moving forward."

Dems are already winning the early vote, so this is GREAT news. In case you forgot, first four days of voting:

2008

Total Ballots Cast

Voted Early


Dem % Ind % Rep % Total
336720 53.57% 96530 15.36% 195253 31.07% 628,503


Returned Absentee Ballots


Dem % Ind % Rep % Total
316,853 35.13% 127,606 14.15% 457,395 50.72% 901,854


Total Ballots Cast


Dem % Ind % Rep % Total
653,573 42.71% 224,136 14.65% 652,648 42.65% 1,530,357

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posted by JReid @ 6:01 PM  
From the wilderness: Barbara West
Having pushed her television station into right wing news exile (and probably boosted her chances of becoming the next Fox News babe ... blonde ... check ... former beauty queen ... check ... right wing talking points ... check, check and double check... at 60, she's a bit long in the tooth for the folks at Fox, but I'm sure with enough hair dye she can work that out...) during her now infamous Joe Biden interview, WFTV's (or as the Guardian UK calls them, WTF??? TV's) Barbara West explains herself to the Orlando Sentinel's TV News guy:

Many readers are wondering if Barbara West was hoping to snag a national job with her oft-seen interview with Sen. Joe Biden.

"This is the most insane thought of all," West told me Monday. "If I were intending to do that, wouldn't I have done that years ago? I love Orlando. I love Channel 9. It's not my goal to land a network job."

West, who is 60, said that she was stunned that the Biden interview had become about her. But it has, in a big way. She was a guest on Monday's "O'Reilly Factor." Bill O'Reilly wondered if she had gone into the interview with the mindset to go after Biden.

West said no. She said she had "some serious questions" that "need to be answered and we're running out of time."

... [MSNBC's Keith] Olbermann wondered where she got the questions and added, "Surely, it's just a coincidence that her husband is GOP media consultant."

Not true, she told me. "Let me clear this up," she said.

West said her husband, Wade West, used to do media coaching for Republicans during the Clinton administration. But he's out of that line of work and running America Fundraising Auctions, which stages charity auctions.

Oh, and she's doing the full FNC circuit today. Go figure...

West also appeared on CNN this morning, and called the Obama campaign reaction "silly":



Really? Let's have a look at Ms. West interviewing ... oh, I don't know ... John McCain:



Chummy! And here's a split screen of Barbara, for the prosecution with Joe Biden, and for the defense with John McCain:



Best of luck to Ms. West in her future as an FNC star. On the up-side, Biden, as Monsters and Critics puts it, gave as good as he got. And he proved that he's as good on the parry as anybody in the business.

Last, but not least, watch Barbara's interview with Bill O'Reilly, in which she actually admits that the toughest question she asks of McCain was why his campaign is so disorganized. Seriously. She asked Biden if he's embarrassed by ACORN, which has nothing to do with the Obama-Biden campaign, and if Obama is a Marxist, and she asks McCain why he's disorganized. ... um ... okay... here it is:





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posted by JReid @ 10:21 AM  
Skinheads plot on Obama
Oh yeah, these guys look reeeeeal superior...

Unfortunately, this is some of what has come out of the woodwork during this campaign. Big up to the feds for catching these guys before they bungled their way into something awful.

Good coverage at Hot Air. The Smoking Gun has the criminal complaint against the two men, Daniel Cowart and Paul Schlesselman. Their apparent plan:
Daniel Cowart, 20, and Paul Schlesselman, 18, began discussing the murder plot after meeting online about a month ago. In the ATF affidavit, a copy of which you'll find below, Cowart and Schlesselman "discussed the killing spree to include targeting a predominately African-American school, going state to state while robbing individuals and continuing to kill people." The pair's "final act of violence" would be an attempt to kill Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee. In separate interviews with investigators, the men said that they planned to speed their vehicle toward Obama while "shooting at him from the windows." Apparently befitting the historic assault, Cowart and Schlesselman "stated they would dress in all white tuxedos and wear top hats during the assassination attempt." Cowart and Schlesselman were arrested last Wednesday night by Tennessee sheriff's deputies soon after the pair used chalk to write "numerous racially motivated words and symbols," including a swastika, on the exterior of Cowart's automobile.
Luckily, they'll be wearing their tails behind bars.

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posted by JReid @ 10:11 AM  
Tragedy in Chi-town
Singer/actress Jennifer Hudson had to identify her nephew's body, which a neighbor discovered in the once-missing white SUV yesterday.

Officers questioned William Balfour, 27, the estranged husband of Julian's mother, on Friday night, but he stopped talking when police suggested he take a polygraph test, law-enforcement sources said. Balfour has not been charged in the slayings.

Although the sources say Balfour remains the focus of the investigation, the motive remains murky. Police say there have been ongoing disputes between him and his estranged wife, Julia Hudson, and her family.

Hudson's mother and brother had thrown him out of their Englewood house in the past, sources said. Julia Hudson also told police that Balfour had threatened the family. A source said Balfour told Julia Hudson he would kill her if he found out she had a boyfriend, despite the fact that he had other girlfriends.

In another incident, sources said, Julia Hudson arrived Friday morning at Sunrise Bus Co. on payday and discovered her wages had been garnished because of unpaid car payments. Sources said Balfour had taken her car months earlier but promised to make the payments on the vehicle. After seeing her pay stub, Julia Hudson called Balfour to complain about the unpaid bills, sources said.

Police believe that Balfour went to the Hudson family home Friday and shot through the front door, striking Hudson's brother, Jason. Hudson's mother, Darnell Donerson, came into the living room, screaming, and Balfour shot her as well, sources said. Shell casings were also found in the child's room, but there were no bullet holes or other signs of violence there. Much of the account of what police believe happened that day came from an interview with a girlfriend of Balfour's, sources said.

The sources also said Balfour's girlfriend contradicted his alibi and told police that he was involved in the slayings.

Police have not ruled out the possibility that more than one person was involved, though Supt. Jody Weis said Monday that Balfour was currently their only "person of interest."

More on Balfour here.

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posted by JReid @ 9:30 AM  
Thanks for nothing, Hughley
DL Hughley's new CNN show isn't funny ... and that's just half the problem

See, this is what happens when the suits try to figure out what "the young folks" are into -- you know, like when your parents try to dress like you...?

DL Hughley got a show on CNN and Roland Martin didn't. Go figure. And not surprisingly, white critics love it, black critics don't. Why? One word: buffoonery. It's the last thing black people want to see at a time when we are about to elect our first black president. It's "Amos and Andy" at a time when we want "Hardball":



The fight to be taken seriously -- not just cast in slapstick crap comedies or as crack addicts, is as real as rain for black actors; just as the fight to make and release music that isn't about guns, money and hoes is real for black musicians (not to mention those of us trying to convince program directors that black people can do talk radio for non-black audiences...) The corporate execs still don't get it -- maybe because ... wait for it ... there's not enough diversity up there.

Paul Porter (of IndustryEars) gets it exactly right:
CNN, over the weekend debuted "DL Hughley: Breaks The News", the only African American hosted cable news program. Hughley, reverted back to his early BET "Comic View"days, lacking the intellectual clarity he often displays on Bill Maher or even recent CNN appearances. DL's material was immensely stereo typical, but calculated programming that continues to stifle mainstream media perceptions. CNN's attempt of a Flava Flav style of African American entertainment is an alarming step backward for a respected news organization.

It's easy to point the not funny finger at DL Hughley but the real story is who's behind the camera. While this election cycle has shown a diverse collection of analyst and pundits, media ownership and equity of power in television and radio are far from equitable.

While people of color make up 33% of the American population, less than 7% are owners and even fewer are in decision making positions.Yes, there are plenty of Black anchors and reporters on cable and network news but the content they report continually falls short. Perception has replaced reality, millions of Americans are yearning for more, while receiving less.
Yep.

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posted by JReid @ 8:53 AM  
Monday, October 27, 2008
The red shoe diaries

One McCain aide describes Sarah Palin as "going rogue," and going off script, perhaps on purpuse, on everything from her $150,000 wardrobe to whether the campaign should have pulled out of Michigan. Meanwhile...

A second McCain source says she appears to be looking out for herself more than the McCain campaign.
And this anonymous tipster goes further:

"She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone," this McCain adviser said. "She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else.

"Also, she is playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party. Remember: Divas trust only unto themselves, as they see themselves as the beginning and end of all wisdom."
Not ever her own family??? Oh, those small town values!

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posted by JReid @ 3:20 PM  
Attack of the Palinites

Is the Republican Party destined to become the dunce party? Maybe so... having spurned "big city America", science, and intellectual elitism in favor of small-town, "real America", the Party of Palin is losing the major metropolitan areas that Ronald Reagan once coopted. Worse, by courting anti-intellectualism and pandering to the worst instincts in American life: jingoism, racism, tribalism and regionalism, including questioning the patriotism of whole coasts, how does the party grow, especially since Hispanics (especially non-Catholic Hispanics,) are running away from them in droves, turned off by the race-baiting, "whites in the White House," anti-immigrant rantings of the right; and African-Americans barely give the GOP a second look? I think it's clear which way the tide in this country is turning, and it's not in the direction of the Limbaugh-Buchanan-Hannity party.

More on election demographics here. You don't even have to click on the link to figure out that Palinism, which appears to be the dominant element within the GOP right now, is incredibly destructive to the Republican Party.

Meanwhile, some in the GOP are arguing that maybe conservatives need some time in the wilderness to get themselves together. Feel free, fellers.

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posted by JReid @ 11:06 AM  
Sunday, October 26, 2008
How (not) to lose an election, by David Frum
A damning assessment from former Bush adviser David Frum (of "Axis of Evil" fame,) in today's Washington Post:
... McCain's awful campaign is having awful consequences down the ballot. I spoke a little while ago to a senior Republican House member. "There is not a safe Republican seat in the country," he warned. "I don't mean that we're going to lose all of them. But we could lose any of them."

In the Senate, things look, if possible, even worse.

The themes and messages that are galvanizing the crowds for Palin are bleeding Sens. John Sununu in New Hampshire, Gordon Smith in Oregon, Norm Coleman in Minnesota and Susan Collins in Maine. The Palin approach might have been expected to work better in more traditionally conservative states such as Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia, but they have not worked well enough to compensate for the weak Republican economic message at a moment of global financial crisis. Result: the certain loss of John Warner's Senate seat in Virginia, the probable loss of Elizabeth Dole's in North Carolina, an unexpectedly tough fight for Saxby Chambliss's in Georgia -- and an apparent GOP surrender in Colorado, where it looks as if the National Republican Senatorial Committee has already pulled its ads from the air.

The fundraising challenge only makes things worse. The Republican senatorial and congressional committees have badly underperformed compared with their Democratic counterparts -- and the Republican National Committee, which has done well, is directing its money toward the presidential campaign, rather than to local races. (It was RNC funds, not McCain '08 money, that paid the now-famous $150,000 for Palin's campaign wardrobe, for example.) This is a huge mistake.

In these last days before the vote, Republicans need to face some strategic realities. Our resources are limited, and our message is failing. We cannot fight on all fronts. We are cannibalizing races that we must win and probably can win in order to help a national campaign that is almost certainly lost. In these final 10 days, our goal should be: senators first. ...
The title of the piece is "Sorry, Senator. Let's salvage what we can. Wow.

Read the rest here.

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posted by JReid @ 3:11 PM  
The Arnone assessment: Obama 291, McCain 247
William Arnone, who was an informal adviser to Hillary Clinton, has been doing a monthly assessment of the presidential race to which I have contributed analysis about Florida. Here are his latest numbers, including the updated numbers of registered voters in each state:

State Obama-Biden McCain-Palin Registered
Voters




Alabama (AL)
9
3,000,000
Alaska (AK)
3
479,000
Arizona (AZ)
10
2,713,000
Arkansas (AR)
6
1,642,000
California (CA)
55

16,100,000
Colorado (CO) 9
3,200,000
Connecticut (CT)
7

2,022,000
Delaware (DE)
3

578,600
District of Columbia (DC)
3

Unknown
Florida (FL)
27
11,248,000
Georgia (GA)
15
5,749,000
Hawaii (HI)
4

691,000
Idaho (ID)
4
711,000
Illinois (IL)
21

7,200,000
Indiana (IN)
11
4,260,000
Iowa (IA)
7

2,111,800
Kansas (KS)
6
1,659,000
Kentucky (KY)
8
2,900,000
Louisiana (LA)
9
2,800,000
Maine (ME)
4

993,700
Maryland (MD)
10

3,400,000
Massachusetts (MA)
12

4,000,000
Michigan (MI)
17

7,470,000
Minnesota (MN) 10
3,145,000
Mississippi (MS)
6
1,873,700
Missouri (MO)
11
4,000,000
Montana (MT)
3
663,300
Nebraska (NE)
5
1,140,400
Nevada (NV) 5
1,453,500
New Hampshire (NH) 4
850,800
New Jersey (NJ)
15

5,200,000
New Mexico (NM)
5

991,000
New York (NY)
31

11,245,000
North Carolina (NC)
15
6,200,000
North Dakota (ND)
3
Unknown
Ohio (OH)
20
8,160,000
Oklahoma (OK)
7
2,169,000
Oregon (OR)
7

2,146,500
Pennsylvania (PA)
21

8,730,000
Rhode Island (RI)
4

665,100
South Carolina (SC)
8
2,478,000
South Dakota (SD)
3
508,200
Tennessee (TN)
11
3,100,000
Texas (TX)
34
12,752,400
Utah (UT)
5
Unknown
Vermont (VT)
3

422,000
Virginia (VA) 13
5,021,000
Washington (WA)
11

3,609,000
West Virginia (WV)
5
1,200,000
Wisconsin (WI) 10
3,437,000
Wyoming (WY)
3
233,000




TOTALS 291
247
176,322,000

Two things I disagree with William on:

First, I think Barack Obama will win Florida, which will add 27 electoral votes to his total. The metrics in this state, including superior voter registration numbers for Democrats, the blighted economy and real estate bust, the fact that many middle and lower middle class white voters in South Florida have left the state in recent years, and the fact that Obama is commanding something like 98 percent of the black vote, and Democrats are dominating the early vote, bodes well for his candidacy. Also, Dems are doing better in absentee returns, which Republicans always dominate. Here are the latest numbers as released by the Florida Democratic Party:

2008

Total Ballots Cast

Voted Early

Dem % Ind % Rep % Total
336720 53.57% 96530 15.36% 195253 31.07% 628,503

Returned Absentee Ballots

Dem % Ind % Rep % Total
316,853 35.13% 127,606 14.15% 457,395 50.72% 901,854

Total Ballots Cast

Dem % Ind % Rep % Total
653,573 42.71% 224,136 14.65% 652,648 42.65% 1,530,357

2006

Voted Early - 2006

Dem % Ind % Rep % Total
86633 44.04% 25545 12.99% 84533 42.97% 196711

Returned Ballots - 2006

Dem % Ind % Rep % Total
65,427 29.56% 26,005 11.75% 129,879 58.69% 221,311

Total Ballots Cast

Dem % Ind % Rep % Total
152,060 36.38% 51,550 12.33% 214,412 51.29% 418,022

Second, I think Indiana will wind up in Obama's column, in no small part because much of the state shares a media market with neighboring Illinois, which Obama is going to win by huge margins. If that happens, Obama gets another 11 electoral votes, for a grand total of 329 to McCain's 209, a landslide by any measure.

The one thing McCain has going for him is that both he and Obama remain below 50 percent in most polls, which means he has a chance to close strong with undecided voters, but because he is behind, McCain has a longer road to run.

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posted by JReid @ 12:56 PM  
Indelicate questions
Jennifer Hudson (left) pictured with her mother, Darnell Donerson (center)

At this time of tragedy, all we can do is pray for the Hudson family, which is grieving the loss of Jennifer Hudson's mother and sister, and the disappearance of her nephew. But while we're at it ... um ... is it fair to ask why Hudson's family was still living in the hood, given all her success? CNN this morning reported that Hudson at some point asked whether her mother would like to move someplace safer, and her mother declined. Okay ... maybe, she could have insisted?

Meanwhile, Chicago police have questioned, but not charged, this guy:

... William Balfour, who is the estranged husband of Jennifer's sister, though not the missing 7-year-old's father. Looks like a real winner. Balfour is a recent parolee. My bet is he is the main suspect, and is probably free to be watched by police.

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posted by JReid @ 11:30 AM  
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Righties try for 'television that decides elections' in Florida
Check out Joe Biden's unbelievable interview with Fox News anchress wannabe Barbara West at WFTV in Orlando, Florida:



See what the redstaters are consuming? Talk about media bias... More about Ms. West, from her station bio. Here are the first two graphs:
I have covered stories of people, politics and medical breakthroughs. My work has taken me across the country and around the world. From Washington, D.C. I covered the inauguration of President Bush and the impeachment of President Clinton.

When Hillary Clinton attempted to reform our health care system, I traveled to Canada to examine the Canadian national health care system as a possible model for the U.S.
Uh huh... Ms. West also used to be an assistant to Peter Jennings, and she's a pageant girl, just like Sarah Palin! The last two paragraphs of le bio:
Prior to working in television news, I was an assistant professor at the University of Vermont and represented Vermont in the Miss America Pageant. I hold a Master's Degree from the University of Vermont.

I am married to Wade West, an international media consultant to politicians, professionals and organizations. Together we often serve as auctioneers at various fundraising events throughout the state.
In her previous incarnation she might have been Barbara Ann Schmitt, Miss University of Vermont, 1969, who repped the state in the Miss America pageant that year.

And the hubby? If he's this Wade West, he's one of the guys who's been serving up Pentagon propaganda to U.S. TV news outlets under the guise of "actual news" for the last several years. From the desk of: MediaPower, the company for which West serves as director:

As a television news anchor with experience in the "major leagues" at both ABC and NBC in New York, Wade West's interviews with business, professional and political leaders give you a unique insight into what really brings increased results, profits and performance. Your group will benefit because his programs and books focus on what works in the REAL WORLD. He provides you with simple, proven strategies for applying this information to benefit your group and situation.

Experience:

  • Television News Reporter and Anchor
  • Media Trainer for high level public figures including political office holders, leading professional athletes, prominent physicians and attorneys, as well as the president of a major television network
  • Faculty, AMA Physician-Reporters Program
  • Infomercial Producer; Senior Media Briefer for U. S. Department of Defense
  • Coach for on-air broadcast television reporters and news anchors
Mr. West has been a small-time donor to Republicans, nothing major. But his company? It's got a lot on its plate:
Television establishes buying trends, creates public preferences, and drives public opinion. Television news sets the national mood, links important political and commercial centers around the world and is even so powerful it decides the outcome of elections long before the first voter steps into the voting booth. Television earns billions of dollars a year ... and it earns even more for the people who know how to use it wisely.

The MediaPower Group is the leader in debunking the myth that the power of television is reserved for huge companies located in global power centers. Television's profits, decision making process and its strength are diversified into local markets throughout the country and around the world. As a result, the people and firms that profit from television are primarily small and medium sized entities located throughout the world too.

MediaPower creates free television coverage, commercials and infomercials that make tremendous profits for their clients. They also produce television that decides elections, creates trends and even saves lives. MediaPower's work has increased some professional practice profits more than 800%. They work with clients throughout North America, Europe and Asia.

(Emphasis added.) So, is it crazy to think that Mrs. Webb also is trying to "create television that decides elections? It's worth asking...

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posted by JReid @ 10:18 PM  
Pray for Jennifer Hudson
Police in Chicago are searching for a suspect in the shooting deaths of Oscar winning actress/singer Jennifer Hudson's mother and brother, and the kidnapping of her 7-year-old nephew, and it looks like it's someone close to home:
The Hollywood star's older sister, Julia Hudson, discovered the victims after returning home from her day shift at a bus company and summoned the police, reportedly telling them her son, Julian King, was missing.

Law enforcement agencies immediately issued an all points bulletin for the boy, who remained missing today.

The shooting victims were Hudson's mother, Darnell Donnerson, 57, and her brother, Jason Hudson, 29, in what police described as domestic violence.

Mr Donnerson suffered a gunshot wound to the head. Ms Hudson was shot in the chest, according to the Cook County Examiner's Office.

News reports and neighbours identified the suspect as William Balfour, Julia Hudson's estranged husband and the step-father of her son.

Neighbours reported hearing gunshots at Donnerson's home in the gritty Englewood neighbourhood on the city's South Side, but no one raised the alarm for several hours, authorities said.

"I just can't fathom something like this happening," Ethel Grisom, a longtime family friend, told the Chicago Tribune.

"The entire family were just real friendly people who enjoyed being together. This is going to be devastating for them."

There were no signs of forced entry to the home, according to Joseph Patterson, deputy chief of patrol of the Chicago Police.

On his MySpace page, Mr Balfour described himself as a "proud parent" and played up his links to Jennifer Hudson.

"I might as well let you all know that Jennifer Hudson is my wife's sister. I'm proud of her and wish her nothing but the best in what she do. But don't hit me up asking 'bout her, other than that it's on!" he wrote.

A slide show on the same site featured family snaps of Jennifer alongside shots of a bare-chested Balfour flexing his muscles for the camera.
Sad story.

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posted by JReid @ 10:02 PM  
John McCain's Tawanna Brawley moment
McCain volunteer Ashley Todd made it all up

Should John McCain have to spend the next ten years or more answering the question, "should you apologize to America for the Ashley Todd hoax?" I'll bet Al Sharpton is asking himself that question with no small amount of irony tonight. Todd, of course, is the Pittsburgh, PA McCain campaign college Republican volunteer who made up a story about being attacked, robbed, and sexually abused by a "6 foot 4 black man" at an ATM, and then having a backwards (mirror, anyone?) "B" carved into her face with a knife. The right bought the story hook, line and sinker, and between Matt Drudge (and his pals at Politico), talk radio and Fox News, it became a winger sensation, while threatening to touch off new racial tensions in the process.



Like the McCain-Palin rallies, it was ugly, and focused on "us" versus "them," in which "they" are alien, scary, and "not white." And like much that emanates from Camp McCain, the story was a complete and total hoax, for which Ms. Todd now faces legal jeopardy.



Brawley, you'll recall, was the New York City teenager who in November, 1987, claimed that she was abducted for four days, repeatedly raped and smeared with feces by a band of white men, including a cop named Daniel Pagones. The incident happened when I first moved back to New York (from Denver, Colorado) on my break from college. Like Al Sharpton, I believed Tawanna Brawley, so I'll forgive John McCain believing Ms. Todd. (Even 20 years later, Brawley's family still believes her story, and by the way, I've interviewed one of her attorneys, who does too.) But like Sharpton, McCain did more than believe. Not only did the Senator and presidential candidate call the young woman, his campaign in Pennsylvania actively pushed the story around to reporters, ramping up the spectacle of ogrish, black Obama supporters on the rampage, looking for young, white women to ravage, by supplying -- not passing on, but supplying -- the media with the lie that the "B" on Ms. Todd's face stood for Barack. If that reminds you of the bad old days of false rape accusations, followed by the lynchings of black men, you're where I am. But there have been other outrages that ended short of lynching.

Ironically, Ms. Todd's hoax comes almost 19 years to the day after a Boston man, Charles Stuart, shot his pregnant wife to death in their car and told police a black guy did it.

And who can forget Susan Smith, the North Carolina woman who in 1994 drowned her two adorable children by leaving them strapped into her sinking car, and then blamed the ubiquitous black carjacker?

But back to the McCain campaign. Per TPM, it turns out only two entities had custody of the now famous photos of Ms. Todd's alleged injuries:

The photographer who took the photos of Ashley Todd's self-inflicted injuries, only gave copies of the digital photos to the Pittsburgh police, and to her employers, the College Republicans.

This means there is no way the College Republicans and the McCain campaign was not involved in pushing this story, because Matt Drudge was up with the photo before the Pittsburgh Press even had access to them.

Here's the quote from today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (emphasis mine):

Mr. (Dan) Garcia took the widely published picture of Ms. Todd with her injuries. He said he took several photographs with a digital camera to document what had happened. He said he only gave copies of the photos to police and Ms. Todd's employer, the College Republicans. One photo appeared on The Drudge Report on Thursday, setting off a storm of media attention.

Which means that the College Republicans, who are working on behalf of the McCain campaign, passed the story to Drudge. The rest, as we say, was history. The level of involvement that has been revealed regarding the McCain campaign puts the lie to the notion that they were simply hapless dupes, wanting to believe a young would-be victim. They were active participants in this hoax, and I return to my original question: should John McCain have to spend the next decade answering for that, as Rev. Sharpton did with Tawanna Brawley? After all, had police behaved in this case they way they did in the Stuart and Smith cases, hundreds of black men might have been rousted across Pittsburgh, some even harassed, because of this young woman's story. Some crazed Palinite might have decided to take matters into his own hands, and hurt somebody out of racial animus and a quest for revenge. This incident put lives in danger, though thanks to the professionalism and skepticism of the Pittsburgh police, it was quickly exposed as a hoax. And it added one last sickening chapter to the sorry end of John McCain's political career. (CNN gets kudos for ignoring it, too.) I'll let Fox News honcho Ron Moody sum it up for me:
"If the incident turns out to be a hoax, Senator McCain's quest for the presidency is over, forever linked to race-baiting."
Amen.

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posted by JReid @ 8:56 PM  
Friday, October 24, 2008
The GOP sideshow continues
When I heard the story about the McCain volunteer who was supposedly attacked (by a "tall, black man," no less) and had a "B" carved into her face just because she had a McCain sticker on her car, my BS detector definitely went off. First off, the old "big black guy attacked me" meme is always shady. Second, was the attacker using a mirror to do his handiwork? Because the "B" is "B"ackwards. How did that happen? Well, as it turns out, the old BS detector is working just fine:
A McCain campaign volunteer who reported that a tall black man robbed her and then cut a "B" onto her cheek after seeing a McCain bumper sticker on her car has been given a polygraph test because of "inconsistencies" in her story, police said.

Among other things, police said photos and bank card information from an automated teller machine where the college student claimed she was robbed do not show her using the machine at the time, police said.

Pittsburgh police spokeswoman Diane Richard wouldn't release the polygraph results, but said, "we're still looking at some inconsistencies" in the woman's story.

Police said the student, Ashley Todd, of College Station, Texas, who is white, told them she was attacked by a 6-foot-4 black man Wednesday night.

Richard said police have not ruled out that the woman was attacked as she claimed, and said inconsistencies deal primarily with how she described the attack.

"We're just trying to judge the validity of some of the information we received from her," Richard said. "We understand when you are under duress that sometimes you can't recollect things. We're just looking at all the angles."

Mm-hm...

Among the differences in her accounts are whether she lost consciousness, whether she remembers handing over money and how the man assaulted her, police said.

The report of the attack Thursday prompted the Republican presidential candidate and his running mate, Sarah Palin, to call Todd expressing their concern. Barack Obama's campaign also issued a statement wishing Todd well and hoping the attacker would be swiftly brought to justice.

And speaking of people seeking their 15 minutes of fame, how about that Joe the Plumber?

Joe Wurzelbacher, a.k.a. "Joe the Plumber," said Friday he may consider running for Congress in 2010, challenging longtime Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D) in the Toledo-area district.

"I'll tell you what, we'd definitely be in one heck of a fight," Wurzelbacher said during an appearance on the Laura Ingraham show Friday, "but, you know, I'd be up for it."

"There is a movement afoot to draft you to run for Congress," Ingraham said. "Joe, let me tell you something: you decide to run for Congress, and I'll help you with your PR, I'll help you do your ads, I mean, I'll volunteer to help you."

Ingraham's producer, Brian Feldman, said that during the break after the segment, Wurzelbacher told Ingraham that his statements today represent the first time he has acknowledged considering a bid for Congress in public.

Wurzelbacher said he did agree with Kaptur's vote against the bailout, and touted his support for a flat tax on income.

And his run-up on Barack Obama was toooootally spontaneous, right? Riiiiiight...

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posted by JReid @ 1:49 PM  
Thursday, October 23, 2008
The empress' new clothes
Shop-a-haulogate shows no signs of letting up, as the McCain campaign careens to an ugly finish.

First up, the tarted up hockey mom's $150,000 makeover: it's now the subject of several complaints, one anonymous and damning from a Republican insider:
A senior Republican strategist, speaking with authority about the view of the party’s establishment, issued a wide-ranging critique of the McCain high command: “Lashing out at past Republican Congresses, … echoing your opponent's attacks on you instead of attacking your opponent, and spending 150,000 hard dollars on designer clothes when congressional Republicans are struggling for money, and when your senior campaign staff are blaming each other for the loss in The New York Times [Magazine] 10 days before the election, you’re not doing much to energize your supporters.

“The fact is, when you’re the party standard-bearer, you have an obligation to fight to the finish,” this strategist continued. “I think they can still win. But if they don’t think that, they need to look at how Bob Dole finished out his campaign in 1996 and not try to take down as many Republicans with them as they can. Instead of campaigning in Electoral College states, Dole was campaigning in places he knew he didn’t have a chance to beat Clinton, but where he could energize key House and Senate races.”
... others from angry donors, and another, very, very formal one.
ORMOND BEACH, Fla. (AP) - A private watchdog group has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission over Sarah Palin's new wardrobe.

The complaint alleges that the purchase of clothing for Palin and her family violates the Federal Election Campaign Act.

It was filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, and it names Palin, the Republican National Committee and several political operatives.

The watchdog group notes that the regulations clearly apply to clothing -- but not to items donated by the candidates to charity. The group says that exception might apply to Palin's clothing, but doesn't appear to apply to clothes for her family.
Oh, and apparently, people inside the McCain campaign are already hacking each other to pieces, and looking for jobs. Not a good look.

And now, for something completely different: John McCain has yet another new strategy: attack George W. Bush. No, seriously. Maybe he should drop Sarah and run with his obsessive love object, Joe the Plumber? Or he can do like this guy and just support Obama himself.

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posted by JReid @ 9:25 PM  
Republican values explained
Brad Blakeman summarizes GOP values as well as anyone this century: he defends the RNC's spending the cost of a single family home in some states on a Saks and Neiman Marcus shopping spree for Sarah Palin (and her kids) while sneering at Barack Obama flying home to Hawaii to visit his ailing grandmother. Here you go:



That about sums it up.

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posted by JReid @ 9:02 PM  
Obama leads in the Big Ten
The latest Big Ten battleground poll is all good news for Obama:

Head-to-head results for individual states

IllinoisObama 61%McCain 32%
IndianaObama 51%McCain 41%
IowaObama 52%McCain 39%
MichiganObama 58%McCain 36%
MinnesotaObama 57%McCain 38%
OhioObama 53%McCain 41%
PennsylvaniaObama 52%McCain 41%
WisconsinObama 53%McCain 40%


What's next, Arizona? ... oh, dear...

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posted by JReid @ 8:56 PM  
Return of the yellow truck guy
I saw the yellow truck guy again this evening, while picking up my daughter from piano lessons near an early voting site. I pulled up beside him and we had a brief conversation. Turns out he's a father of four, grandfather of six, white, maybe in his 50s or 60s. Very nice fellow. I asked him if he gets a lot of attention in his truck, and his response was, "yeah, and a lot of bullets, too." Damn, right wingers are scary... I wish this guy godspeed.

He also added that he doesn't want his grandchildren growing up in the kind of world the Republicans have begun to create. Hence, the truck, and its emphasis on ending the war in Iraq.

Good guy. Good truck.

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posted by JReid @ 8:49 PM  
30,000
That's how many turned out in Miami for the rally on Tuesday. I didn't write it up, because while you, dear readers, were enjoying your day, I was spending 12 hours at Bicentennial Park juggling black press events. One kind of cool thing: BET's College Hill dropped by and filmed a segment for the reality show, which will air in January. The College Hill kids did some fundraising and voter registration stuff, so they wanted to film them attending Obama's speech.

The big issue from where I sat during the speech was the crowding, and the complicated logistics. That was unfortunate, but we managed it as best we could. I didn't get to hear much of Obama's speech, which apparently went hard at John McCain, but afterward, we did a press clutch with African-American and Caribbean press, and I got to sit in the audience for Barack's appearance on "Ellen" (due to my poor seating choice, I wound up directly behind him, so no camera time for me! It was fun anyway.)

Apparently, a Hialeah fire chief was arrested for jumping a fence. Who knew? I was loving the Secret Service that day, because not only were they extremely nice and professional, a group of them also found my lost car keys. Can't beat that!

Meanwhile, the polls in the Sunshine state are tightening, and not in a good way.

That's all I've got on that for now. On to the day...

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posted by JReid @ 8:09 AM  
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Don't believe this poll
Sorry Drudge, but your AP "shock poll" is a crock. Where to begin?

First off, the IBD tracking poll's outcome makes no sense:

Obama - 44%
McCain - 43%

What is wrong with that picture? The McCain number looks about right -- comparable to the numbers he's pulling in the NBC/WSJ and every other poll, including the often loopy Zogby poll. But look at the Obama number: it has dipped not just below 50 percent, but six points under. How? Obama passed the 50 percent threshold weeks ago. What would account for a 6-8 point downward swing? In a word: nothing.

Next up, the poll sample, which way, way overcounts evangelicals. John Aravosis explains:
45% of this poll's respondents are evangelicals or born-again Christians ... The
problem? In 2004, evangelicals/born-again Christians made up 23% of voters. But
that same group makes up 44% of likely voters in AP's poll released today.
That's almost double the number - it's totally implausible.
Pew's findings back that up, with this most comprehensive survey of American religious life putting the percentage of the country that are evangelical Protestants at a much more modest 26.3%.

In other words, the poll is a crock. Disregard it starting ... now.

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posted by JReid @ 7:41 PM  
The Barbie Chronicles
So ... let me get this straight ... Joe the "plumber" has $250,000 lying around to buy a plumbing business worth $150,000 less than that, even though he only makes $40,000 a year ... and Sarah the Hockey Mom gets paid by Alaska voters to stay at home, lets her constituents pick up the tab for her kids' travel, and has a $150,000 clothing allowance? Boy, those small town values sure are expensive... either that or all those poor GOPer shlubs slumming it out in the heartland are some kind of suckers... (hmm... given the new valuation of small town America, I wonder how much the Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber Halloween costumes cost? I'm sure I can't afford them...)

Yes, I did listen to the John McCain appearance with his pal Don Imus this morning (on the purportedly liberal AM 940 down here in "Flawrida..." or as much as I could stand, anyway. And his defense of Palin not going on "Meet the Press" was basically laughter. He laughed, and laughed, and laughed, and still didn't explain why C.B. couldn't do the show.

There will be a Sarah Palin deposition in the Troopergate case on Friday, which I'm sure Team McCain is looking forward to. And it turns out the Alaska governor may have tried to cover up state spending on her kids:

An investigation has revealed she charged the state for her children to travel with her, including to events where they were not invited, and later changed expense reports to indicate that they were on official business.

The charges, which totalled more than £10,000, included costs for hotel stays and commercial flights for three daughters to watch their father in a snowmobile race.

Other expenses included a trip to New York, where Mrs Palin attended a five-hour conference and stayed with 17 - year- old daughter Bristol for five days and four nights in a hotel.

The investigation, by Associated Press, found that Mrs Palin had charged the state of Alaska for 64 oneway and 12 round-trip commercial f lights since she took office in December 2006. In other cases, she charged the state for hotel rooms for the girls.

Alaska law does not address expenses for a governor's children, but does allow for payment of expenses for anyone conducting official state business.

The latest allegations come soon after an inquiry found that the Republican vice-presidential candidate had violated ethics laws in attempts to get her former brother-in-law, a state trooper, fired after an acrimonious divorce from her sister.
And the latest NBC/WSJ poll finds that Keith Olbermann may have been right back in September about the McCain campaign being better off ditching Sarah altogether:
Fifty-five percent of respondents say she’s not qualified to serve as president if the need arises, up five points from the previous poll.

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

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

Now, Palin’s qualifications to be president rank as voters’ top concern about McCain’s candidacy - ahead of continuing President Bush’s policies, enacting economic policies that only benefit the rich and keeping too high of a troop presence in Iraq.

Even women aren't feeling her, which was part of the point of picking her, no? More details on the poll data for the wonky types here.

Meanwhile, how does Tina Fey do such a dead-on imitation of Sarah P? Two words: ear glue...

And lastly, not to put too fine a point on it, but can you really become the vice president if you still don't know what a vice president does?

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posted by JReid @ 10:02 AM  
Monday, October 20, 2008
Our prayers are with you, Senator
Sen. Obama will travel to Hawaii to be with his grandmother in Hawaii on Thursday, where she is ill. The prayers of millions of Americans will go with him and his family. Let's hope the wingers manage to have a little class, at least for one day...

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posted by JReid @ 11:41 PM  
Best truck ever
I saw this truck in Pembroke Pines this afternoon, and thought it was brilliantly against type:

If you can't see the signs clearly, the one on the left shows a McCain choice leading to the destruction of the earth. A bit over the top, but hell, it's the election end game... The round bumper sticker on the bumper reads "yes we can."

Update: I edited the original image to keep the nuts at bay. Hat tip to Shara.

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posted by JReid @ 11:38 PM  
First day of early voting in Miami
I took these pics at the North Dade Regional Library in Miami Gardens today, where the lines were long, extending along the building and onto the sidewalk, all day. Unbelievable turnout, and a beautiful thing.

Long lines at the polls extended onto the sidewalk.
The library is out of camera shot, to the upper right.

The gentleman second from the right is Matthew Miller, a Republican (and personal trainer) from North Carolina who switched his registration to Democrat to vote for Obama in the primary. The gentleman to his right is a new citizen, who was registered by the woman to HIS right, former State Rep. Dorothy Bendross Mindingall. The woman in blue is Carmen Morris, a PR expert originally from Jamaica who runs a first rate charity project in Benin. More long lines below.

It was pretty hot out there...

And people of all ages were represented, from the old to the young.
posted by JReid @ 11:35 PM  
Can John McCain win without Colorado? Plus: Newsmax buries the lead
In a word ... no. And yet, his campaign is reportedly looking for a way to do so. Meanwhile, none other than Dick Morris releases a new map that shows Obama creaming John McCain, and the good editors at Newsmax manage to completely bury the lead. Their headline?

Breaking News: Dick Morris' 2008 Map -- McCain Is Gaining Ground

Um ... would this be a bad time to mention that Morris' map has McCain losing or Obama getting the lean in Colorado, Florida, Nevada, Arkansas, Missouri, Ohio and Virginia, and beating McCain in the Electoral College 355 to 133? Hell, even Arizona is a "toss-up" in Morris' map. I'm thinking it's time to find a new headline writer...

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posted by JReid @ 11:30 PM  
The woodwork
Toward the end of campaigns, the weirdos start to leak out of the woodwork. Case in point: this 300x300 banner ad running on the homepage of the Miami Herald online:

When you click on the ad, you're taken to FellowPatrioticAmericans.com, a one-page site that leads with the following dramatic headline:

Now is the Time for All Good Men and Women to Come to the Aid of Their Country.

But wait! There's more...
In a world that‘s rushing toward the end times prophecy, God will bless the true Christian leader, if we choose wisely. The Prince of Darkness’ blood runs through the veins of the evil doers.

We have been given the blessing of free will to choose our own path for good or evil. This Presidential election is unlike any we have ever had before. Choose wisely!

Pray for this country and that God gives you the will and wisdom to vote for a leader who has the experience, knowledge and intestinal fortitude to lift these United States up and set it back on the true course of Godliness that it has slipped away from in our homes, schools, churches and, most of all, our government!
The site then quotes a passage from the Book of Luke, and Rev. Samuel Doak, a Presbytarian minister who founded Washington College in Tennessee in the late 1700s. And if you scroll way, way down to the bottom? You finally get the proverbial "reveal"...

You guessed it! This feller's supporting John McCain. You had doubts?

Now, you may be tempted to write this off as just the ravings of yet another kook who's attended one too many Sarah Palin rallies. But I think it's worth looking into who spent good money, in a recession, to buy ads that rave about the end-times, associating Barack Obama with the dark forces of evil, and relating voting for John McCain to scripture. The site's final word:
Consider your children and grandchildren! Their future is in your voting hands. I urge you to vote your heart and conscience.

Vote for Experience and Leadership.
And then it warns ominously:

GOD WILL HAVE THE LAST WORD!

Jeez, I'm scared already. So who is this harbinger of doom? Someone called Wayne Litz, whose address for his electioneering message is in Morristown, Tennessee.

A quick search of campaign contributions finds a scrap metal dealer named Wayne Litz listed as an RNC donor in 2006:
Mr. Wayne Litz (Morristown Shredder Inc./President), (Zip code: 37815) $200 to NATIONAL REPUBLICAN CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE on 07/20/06
Litz doesn't appear to have a duly registered PAC in Tennessee, so he's apparently spending his own money... and more than $200 of it at that! Anyone who knows anything more about the man, please do share...








Certifications like Check Point Security Administration NGX II Rev 1.1 (156-315), HP2-E13 and 1z0-043 Oracle Database 10g Database has became the standard of skill measurement. IT certifications are now so common that everyone with little knowledge can start preparing certificate course. However, some high level 650-180 SMBE SMB, E20-322 and MCSA/MCSE 70-284 require technical knowledge and skill about the product.

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posted by JReid @ 10:45 PM  
'Lection season
If you don't see quite as many posts from me in the next two weeks, it's because I'm doing some campaign work. Feel free to keep feeding me those informative emails, though, and I'll keep the posts coming as much as I can.

Tick, tick, tick e'rybody! We're almost there!

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posted by JReid @ 12:19 PM  
The Empire strikes b(l)ack
Republicans try to minimize the Powell endorsement as being all about race ... and they fail. First off, Collin Powell is about as racial a character as Mr. Rogers. In fact, the only people who have ever hawked Powell's racial characteristics were Republicans, who have for eight years demanded that black people praise George W. Bush for appointing him and Condi Rice. Powell has managed to stand so far above the racial fray, that before Barack Obama came along, he was considered the non-white person most likely to become president. Now that he has made his decision, Republicans can't try to drop him in the Jesse Jackson juice now.

And yet, Powell (and Obama) are emblematic of an emerging problem for the GOP, as articulated by the very fish-out-of-wateresque Reihan Salam:

Obama embodies a younger, more urban, more ethnic America, the America that is taking shape in our elementary schools. As a born-and-bred Brooklynite, this is my America, and it is one that has been largely absent from our national leadership during the long era of Republican dominance. Though Republicans have struggled mightily to look more like America, Colin Powell and Condi Rice can't change the fact that the GOP has increasingly become the party of evangelical Southern white men. It certainly doesn't help that Powell, a self-described Rockefeller Republican, has just endorsed Obama.

Because I share many of the values of evangelical Southern white men--a love of free enterprise and the movie Red Dawn among them--I feel comfortable in their presence, but I've never been under the illusion that I'm one of them.

And that, my friends, is the rub.

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posted by JReid @ 8:23 AM  
Sunday, October 19, 2008
The big one: Collin Powell endorses Obama
Gen. Powell is giving a press conference right now after his "MTP" interview, in which he endorsed Barack Obama, met the press (before it's airtime.) Powell was asked the obligatory "what about your record on the war?" question, and he's talking now about the negativity of the McCain campaign (particularly the Bill Ayers sludge,) and the role that played in his decision. Powell is breaking such orthodoxy china as saying "taxes are necessary for the public good," and he criticized the Bush administration's handling of the war. He said McCain would "follow the orthodoxy of the Republican party" rather than bring change, and said that his endorsement was a look "forward to 2009," rather than backward. Big day for the Obama campaign. So much for Sarah Palin's non-surprise appearance on the lamest "SNL" in weeks perking up that campaign...

... which was going to have a big day anyway, given that it raised a staggereing $150 million last month. Is it too late for McCain to suspend his campaign again?

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posted by JReid @ 9:35 AM  
Thursday, October 16, 2008
New Obama ad: Space
When you're ahead, and flush with dough, you can afford to run ads like this.

ORLANDO – The Obama-Biden Campaign today released a new radio ad for Florida’s Space Coast to highlight the contrast between Barack Obama’s plan to reenergize our nation’s space program and John McCain’s insistence on freezing NASA funding.

The ad features U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, a longtime advocate for maintaining America’s leadership in space, who praises Obama’s pledge to increase NASA funding, reduce Space Coast job losses and maintain America’s leadership in space.
The ad will also appeal to older voters who remember JFK, I'd think...
posted by JReid @ 5:24 PM  
John McCain's African-American cousins
My radio co-host Elgin Jones (one of the finest reporters in South Florida or anywhere,) has an incredible story up about John McCain's black relatives in Mississippi -- the ones McCain apparently doesn't acknowledge. Here's a clip:
When Theresa McCain started the family reunions in the late 1980s or early ‘90s (neither he nor his wife is sure of the exact starting date), only black family members attended. But as word spread about the gatherings, white members of the McCain family got involved. Today, the reunion has expanded to the point where it is becoming a community event.

The reunion’s website, teocfamilyreunion.ning.com has pictures, postings and other information about the family gatherings. While Sen. McCain’s brother, Joe, and many of his other white relatives attend the reunions, family members say Sen. McCain has never acknowledged them, or even responded to their invitations.

More about the family:
William Alexander McCain fought for the Confederacy

Sen. John McCain’s great, great grandfather, William Alexander McCain (1812-1863), fought for the Confederacy and owned a 2000-acre plantation named Waverly in Teoc. The family dealt in the slave trade, and, according to official records, held at least 52 slaves on the family’s plantation. The enslaved Africans were likely used as servants, for labor, and for breeding more slaves.

William McCain’s son, and Sen. John McCain’s great grandfather, John Sidney McCain (1851-1934), eventually assumed the duty of running the family’s plantation.

W.A. “Bill” McCain IV, a white McCain cousin, and his wife Edwina, are the current owners of the land. Both told the South Florida Times that they attend the reunions. They also said the McCain campaign had asked them not to speak to the media about the reunions, or about why the senator has never acknowledged the family gatherings.

In addition to distancing himself from his black family members, John McCain has taken several positions on issues that have put him at odds with members of the larger black community.

While running for the Republican Party nomination in 2000, he sided with protesters who were calling for the rebel battle flag to be removed from the South Carolina statehouse, only to alter that position later.

"Some view it as a symbol of slavery. Others view it as a symbol of heritage,” John McCain said of the flag. "Personally, I see the battle flag as a symbol of heritage. I have ancestors who have fought for the Confederacy, none of whom owned slaves. I believe they fought honorably.’’

Novelist Elizabeth Spencer, another white cousin of John McCain, noted the slaves the family owned in the family’s memoirs, Landscapes of the Heart. Sen. McCain has acknowledged reading the book, but claims to have only glossed over entries about their slaves.

“That’s crazy,” said Spencer, who also attends the reunions in Teoc. “No one had to tell us, because we all knew about the slaves. I may not vote, because I don’t want anyone to think that I have an issue with John, but I don’t want to see him become president because I think Obama is entirely adequate, and it’s time for a Democrat.’’

Read the whole thing here.

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posted by JReid @ 5:10 PM  
Political trends: the right wing bald guy
G. Gordon Liddy (domestic terrorist)


Lee County, Fla. Sheriff Mike Scott (Hatch Act violator)


Joe the faux "plumber" ... he's not an undecided voter, either


The bald guys from the second debate. Are they really undecided???


Bald white guy wanna-be, James T. Harris

I'm just saying, it's a trend...

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posted by JReid @ 4:53 PM  
Ten things you should know about Joe
John McCain's latest obsession (sorry, earmarks,) Joe the Plumber, has a few ... shall we say ... issues. Here are a few things you should know about him:

1. He's not a plumber. According to the Toledo Blade:
Mr. Wurzelbacher told reporters Thursday morning that he worked for Newell Plumbing & Heating Co., a small local firm whose business addresses flow back to several residential homes, including one on Talmadge Road in Ottawa Hills.

According to Lucas County Building Inspection records, A. W. Newell Corp. does maintain a state plumbing license, and one with the City of Toledo, but would not be allowed to work in Lucas County outside of Toledo without a county license.

Mr. Wurzelbacher said he works under Al Newell’s license, but according to Ohio building regulations, he must maintain his own license to do plumbing work.

He is also not registered to operate as a plumber in Ohio, which means he’s not a plumber.
2. He's not about to buy a plumbing business, $250,000 or otherwise:
Mr. Wurzelbacher said he was hired by Mr. Newell six years ago and that the possibility of him eventually buying the company was discussed during his job interview.
3. He doesn't make anywhere near $250,000:
Mr. Wurzelbacher said he objects to Mr. Obama’s plans to raise income taxes on incomes above $250,000. He said he makes no where near that much money but he would not say how much he makes or if he ever expects to make $250,000. Court records from a divorce show Mr. Wurzelbacher made $40,000 in 2006.
4. He really, really doesn't want to pay taxes...
In January, 2007, the Ohio Department of Taxation placed a lien against him because $1,183 in personal property taxes had not been paid, but there has been no action in the case since it was filed.
5. He has ties to both Alaska and Arizona:
He said he was born in the Toledo area, lived until he was 13 in the Florida Panhandle area, went to Springfield High School, and then entered the U.S. Air Force. He was stationed at an Air Force base in Alaska from 1992 until 1995. He said he was honorably discharged.

Mr. Wurzelbacher also said he lived in Arizona from 1997 until 2000.
6. His Alaska ties could include Todd Palin... Wurzelbacher, who has described himself as a Sarah Palin fan, may also be tied to Wasila via
Doug Wurzelbacher, a "31-year-old musher," as described by this Kos diarist, and who lived in Wasila while Palin was mayor. More on the Wasila connection from Progress Ohio:

Is Doug Wurzelbacher related to Joe Wurzelbacher AKA "Plumber Joe"?

According to the census, there are less than 175 Wurzelbachers in the country, and one of them lived in... WASILLA, ALASKA! and was involved in competitive snow racing.

Klondike 300 Final standings and finish times:

1) Mitch Seavey, Sterling, 2:33 p.m. Monday; 2) Tyrell Seavey, Sterling, 5:35 p.m. Monday; 3) Peter Bartlett, Wasilla, 6:37 p.m. Monday; 4) Ellen Halverson, Wasilla, 11:21 p.m. Monday; 5) Chad Nordlum, Anchorage, 11:42 p.m.; 6) Wayne Curtis, Wasilla, 12:21 a.m. Tuesday; 7) Douglas Wurzelbacher, Wasilla, 4:12 a.m. Tuesday; 8) William Borden, Kennesaw, Ga., 5:05 p.m. Tuesday; 9) Perry Solomonson, Plain, Wash., 5:15 p.m. Tuesday; 10) Judy Merritt, Moose Pass, 5:33 p.m. Tuesday.

[Source] "Alaska Sports Digest", Anchorage Daily News (Alaska) January 23, 2002

and what was Todd Palin doing around that time?

Todd Palin and Dusty VanMeter won the 2002 Tesoro Iron Dog Classic snowmachine race Saturday, edging Marc McKenna and Eric Quam by about a minute and a half.

... There were only about 5,500 people living in Wasilla at the time and Palin had already been mayor for 6 years
7. He appears to be related to a leading figure in the Keating Five scandal, Robert Wurzelbacher of Milford, Ohio. Per Martin Eisenstadt, a McCain adviser:
Who’s Robert Wurzelbacher? Only Charles Keating’s son-in-law and the former senior vice president of American Continental, the parent company of the infamous Lincoln Savings and Loan. The now retired elder Wurzelbacher is also a major contributor to Republican causes giving well over $10,000 in the last few years.
Keating himself was born in Cincinnati, and his failed savings and loan, Lincoln, was based in Pheonix, Arizona, where he also had a business relationship with Cindy McCain.

Interestingly enough, according to this record, Robert Wurzelbacher is betting his presidential money on Bob Barr...

8. He may be purged from the voter rolls in Ohio by his party of choice. Per the Brennan Center for Justice:
... many thought Joe was not a registered voter. Turns out there was likely a misspelling in the Lucas County Board of Elections database. From the Blade: "Linda Howe, executive director of the Lucas County Board of Elections, said a Samuel Joseph Worzelbacher, whose address and age match Joe the Plumber's, registered in Lucas County on Sept. 10, 1992. He voted in his first primary on March 4, 2008, registering as a Republican. Ms. Howe said that the name may be misspelled in the database."

Politico's Ben Smith makes the connection that if Joe registered this year, he could be purged from the rolls under a 6th Circuit Court ruling on Tuesday.

That's because on Tuesday, following a lawsuit by the Ohio republican party, the court ordered Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner to disclose to local election officials the names of 200,000 new registrants whose names didn't match with state motor vehicle or federal Social Security databases. This list could be used by local election officials and party operatives to prevent these voters from casting ballots that will count. As Secretary Brunner knows and the Brennan Center demonstrated in the brief, almost all mis-matches are the result of typos and administrative errors—like in Joe's case.

The Brennan Center is trying to help Joe -- and the other 200,000 people the GOP is trying to purge -- to get their right to vote restored.

9. He's not undecided. In fact, he's a conservative, registered (at least he hopes so) Republican who thinks Barack Obama is a socialist:

Mr Wurzelbacher told ABC he was "not even close" to earning $250,000, but worried that Senator Obama would increase taxes for those making less.

In a video interview with the Toledo Blade newspaper after the debate, Mr Wurzelbacher described himself as a man of modest means.

"You see my house. I don't have a lot of bells and whistles in here, really. My truck's a couple of years old and I'm going to have it for the next 10 years, probably. So I don't see him (Obama) helping me out."

He said he wasn't swayed by Obama's health-care pitch, either, describing it as "just one more step toward socialism."

Mr Wurzelbacher said he was pleased with Senator McCain's performance. "McCain came across with some solid points, and I was real happy about that," he said.

He's also against Social Security, pro-Iraq invasion, wants to seal the borders and he's sick of people saying America isn't the greatest country in the world. In other words, he's a typical, right wing talk radio trained winger:



and last but not least:

10. He's the right wing's latest "common man" indulgence. They're absolutely smitten with his absolutely ordinariness. Move over Sarah, and like, also...

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posted by JReid @ 3:49 PM  
Time for McCain to flush 'Joe the plumber'?
So far, the focus groups on CNN and MSNBC and even Fox indicate that for many swing and undecided voters, Joe the plumber, who was the star of last night's debate (along with Bob Schieffer, who was far and away the best moderator of the four we've seen during the general election,) might not be the best poster boy for John McCain's economic principles. Of course, conservatives went gaga over Joe Wurzelbacher, the Ohio man who (totally, completely spontaneously ... ahem ...) confronted Barack Obama at a campaign event about his tax policies, and how they would affect Joe if he went ahead with the purchase of the plumbing business he works for, which by toooootal coincidence, just happens to cost around $250,000 -- the cut-off under Obama's tax plan. The full video below:



For righties, Joe became an instant symbol of can-do capitalism being clobbered by the big, bad government, and Obama's retort that he wants to give tax breaks to people who don't have a quarter million dollars to invest and to "spread the wealth around" was the blood curdling shriek of socialism.

But here's the problem for the right: most Americans, who are struggling and some cases freaking completely out in this dismal economy, wouldn't mind spreading a little wealth around. The idea of everybody doing well isn't socialism to most people, it's opportunity to get ahead and to achieve (and hang onto) the American dream. The reason people felt good about the 90s was not that rich people and investors made money, but that for a time, it seemed that anyone could become a millionaire. The Larry Kudlow philosophy of the rich gwaking up all the baubles they can and to hell with the rest of us was fine for the 1980s, when "Dallas" and "Dynasty" were hot. Now? I doubt very many people are even watching "Cribs."

A very wise man (named Chris Matthews) said four years ago during a presentation for members of the media at Miami's American Airlines Arena (back when I was at NBC 6,) told us that "politics is about where you put the wedge in." If the wedge winds up between the middle class and the poor, such that the middle identifies more with the rich, even aspirationally, Republicans win. But when the wedge is between the rich and the middle class, such that those in the middle feel like they're getting poorer, Democrats win. This year, I think it's clear where the wedge is.

Which brings me back to Joe.

CNN sent a reporter to watch the debate with a family who had recently had their home foreclosed, and they were sour on Joe, mainly because they couldn't relate to a guy who's got $250,000 available to buy a company during these hard times (the father in the family, who is a Republican, also said he couldn't relate to McCain, because the Senator "has seven houses." Actually, I think it's at least eight ...)

In any event, let's take a closer look at Joe's story. First, his estimated earnings. From the Department of Labor:

Pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters are among the highest paid construction occupations. Median hourly earnings of wage and salary plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters were $20.56. The middle 50 percent earned between $15.62 and $27.54. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $12.30, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $34.79. Median hourly earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters were:

Natural gas distribution $24.91
Nonresidential building construction 21.30
Plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning contractors 20.44
Utility system construction 19.18
Local government 17.86

Meanwhile, the median hourly wage for all American workers was $15.10. That's not to say that people like Joe are "rich." I'd actually call $20 an hour middle class. But at that wage level, Joe would be in line for an Obama tax cut next year.

If, on the other hand, he were to earn $250,000 a year plumbing, that would put him in the top 1 percent -- that's ONE percent, of all American earners (and probably the top .0003% of plumbers.) That may not make a person rich, either, but in times like these, it sure ain't poor.

Second, if Joe buys a business that earns $250,000, I can't imagine he'd be paying himself all, or even most of that, which means his own income would again fall within the 95 percent of Americans Obama would give a tax cut.

Third, in order for Joe to buy that business, if that's what he truly intends to do, he's gonna need more than $250K. As former Los Angeles Daily News columnist and post-newsroom budget cuts blogger, Steve Young points out:

... If we’re talking a business that is bottom lining at $250K, a standard business acquisition falls into the 4 to 1 investment area, which would call for Joe

is buying a business that is making a profit of exactly $250K, the Obama tax break minimum. A normal business acquisition falls into the 4 to 1 investment area, which would call for Joe to come up with $1,000,000 to purchase his $250K business. If that plumbing business had assets like trucks, equipment and offices, the cost could be far more.

Add to that Wurzelbacher doesn’t appear in the Toledo Yellow Pages listings, yet has been able to put together at least a million to invest, especially in these dire economic times, you begin to wonder whether Joe is a plumber or did someone in the McCain campaign find him in central casting?

Good question.

Team McCain might want to back off from the new tack that "America didn't become great by spreading the wealth around," which he added to the candidate's stump speech today. Americans don't want to hear that the rich shouldn't pay more taxes, or that big corporations paying their executives tens, or even hundreds of millions of dollars, shouldn't have to provide basic healthcare coverage for their employees. Right wingers may like being hectored about tax cuts by talk radio hosts who sign $400 million contracts, get doped up on prescription pills in their Palm Beach mansions and fly around in private jets, but the rest of us are just not that stupid.

UPDATE: Turns out our friend Joe the Plumber has no plumbing license ... (and he insists he's no Matt Damon, either. Here's his actual quote (not making this up):
"I’m a flash in the pan, I’m not a megastar," Wurzelbacher said. "I’m not Matt Damon. I’m not any of those guys who have droves of women and men who want to be like them, that say 'Yeah, I’ll vote for him, because Matt Damon said so'."
Good to know!

UPDATE 2: Okay, you can't make this stuff up. A winger blogger close to the McCain campaign (or so he says,) claims that Joe the Plumber is related to none other than Charles Keating:

John McCain did great tonight in the debate. But every time John mentioned “Joe the Plumber,” some of us in the campaign banged our heads against the wall. If Steve Schmidt had any hair left, I hear he would have been pulling it out tonight. He reportedly screamed at John’s debate prep team tonight (out of earshot of reporters, of course). “You idiots - he’s related to Charles Keating… of the Keating Five scandal!” They thought they had a real live Joe Six-Pack who’s spurned Barack Obama’s tax plan. But what they forgot to do was check on Joe Wurzelbacher’s background.

Turns out that Joe Wurzelbacher from the Toledo event is a close relative of Robert Wurzelbacher of Milford, Ohio. Who’s Robert Wurzelbacher? Only Charles Keating’s son-in-law and the former senior vice president of American Continental, the parent company of the infamous Lincoln Savings and Loan. The now retired elder Wurzelbacher is also a major contributor to Republican causes giving well over $10,000 in the last few years.

Does any of this make Joe the Plumber a bad guy? Of course not. In fact, after that ill-fated night at the Watergate, he may finally be giving plumbers a good name. But at a debate where John goes full bore on Obama for guilt-by-association with William Ayers (and dodges a bullet by Obama not mentioning Keating Five), the press is going to bring it back front and center by midday tomorrow once they delve deeper into the most popular plumber in America.

Uh-oh...

UPDATE 2: It also turns out Joe, who wasn't at that rally by accident (he told ABC News he was contacted by the McCain campaign and "asked to show up at a rally...") doesn't have to worry about a tax increase under an Obama presidency, he has to worry about getting Wesley Sniped by the IRS because he doesn't pay his taxes.

UPDATE 3: A DailyKos diarist does some digging on Central Casting Joe:

Wurzelbacher had already met McCain, and per his story saw Obama walking through his neighborhood while he was out, and he walked over to get involved as he "always wanted to ask these guys a question and really corner them." On Obama’s answers to his questions, old ‘Joe The Plumber’ felt "unfortunately I still got a tap dance ... almost as good as Sammy Davis Jr."

It certainly made for good anecdotal reference. And the post debate interview made great RNC spin.

Yet something there seemed a bit too standard issue FOX News to me.

So after after some digging I found that Joe is indeed a registered Republican. No surprise.

But then I began wondering if old Joe The Plumber communicated this to the McCain campaign? The McCain camp, I’m sure, would see this as a wonderful way to play off Joe as a common connection during the debaters, and someone who was presumed by many (or at least played up to be) to be the quintessential uncommitted or independent voter in this middle American battleground state. Can you say "shill?"

It turns out that Joe’s dad is reported to be a heavy contributor to the GOP. Maybe Joe’s not quite such an independent voice after all. But again no surprise, this is America the polarized.

An unrelated final note, Joe it seems was at least accused of domestic violence by his first wife Jennifer according to papers filed in their divorce in Tucson back in 1997. Part of the court costs included the County’s charges for the Battered Women’s Shelter. http://apps.co.lucas.oh.us/...

Well, Joe’s just a regular guy all right. All the same fallibilities. And even the same pre-conceived allegiances. Nothing special.

Yep. Just a regular Joe...

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posted by JReid @ 12:05 PM  
Miss Charlie leaves the building
Oh no he didn't! Charlie Crist kills the ACORN meme

If you still doubt that Charlie Crist thinks John McCain is going to lose the election, consider this: the former newly minted "drill baby, drill" governor, who recently found that his schedule couldn't accommodate hanging with John McCain, even though his schedule was empty, has stomped another precious chestnut of the base into the ground: ACORN and voter fraud:

Breaking with the talking points of his fellow Republicans in Washington, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said he does not think voter fraud and the vote-registration group ACORN are a major problem in the Sunshine State.

''I think that there's probably less [fraud] than is being discussed. As we're coming into the closing days of any campaign, there are some who enjoy chaos,'' Crist told reporters.

Crist made his comments as the Republican National Committee hosted a conference call with reporters to tie Democrat Barack Obama to suspicious voter-registration cards submitted by ACORN across the nation and in four Florida counties, including Broward.

In the Broward case, an unknown person attempted to re-register a longtime voter named Susan S. Glenckman. Broward officials caught the error in August when it was brought to their attention by ACORN.

During the Wednesday Republican conference call, national party spokesman Danny Diaz focused more on a case out of Orange County, in which someone used an ACORN-stamped voter-registration card to sign up Mickey Mouse.

But Crist's Republican Secretary of State, Kurt Browning, said he doesn't think ACORN is committing systematic voter fraud. And Crist said that settles the matter because ''I have enormous confidence'' in Browning.

Like ACORN spokesmen, Browning says the false voter registration forms could be blamed on unethical canvassers or on citizens who themselves fill out fictitious voter cards.

... Elections officials point out that while voter-registration fraud is relatively easy, vote fraud is far more difficult because a criminal would have to evade multiple layers of computer-system and identity checks. They also say the system is not overwhelmed with phony registrations, as Diaz suggested during the conference call.

Oops...

Now, the GOP has been working really, really hard to get you to think that massive, egregious voter fraud is sweeping the nation (or at least sweeping the swing states...) and that ACORN is the greatest threat to the Republic since English tea taxes. The ACORN canard was brought up again by McCain tonight. The thing is, these charges are little more than GOP "strategery," since there has yet to be a single major voter fraud prosecution in the country, well ... ever ... much less one against ACORN, which as the above article indicates, regularly turns in the fraudsters (the organization is required to turn in every voter registration they collect, but they do the local governments a service by flagging the "Mickey Mouse" ones.)

On a more serious note, the systematic removal of U.S. attorneys by the Bush Justice Department were all about Karl Rove demanding that the prosecutors go after illegitimate vote fraud cases, and when they refused, they were gone. In the end, this is about using phony charges of voter fraud to deligitimize Democratic voters, and failing that, elections in which a Democrat wins.

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posted by JReid @ 12:35 AM  
Best line of the night
"Beats the hell out of me."
-- David Gergen on CNN, on what he'd tell John McCain if he were running his campaign after the Republican's third straight debate loss.

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posted by JReid @ 12:21 AM  
(The final) presidential debate scorecard
Surprisingly enough, there's nothing in my in-box from the GOP. ... that said, the polls on tonight's debate are in, and they are unanimous:

CBS News umincomtted voters survey:

Obama won - 53%
McCain won - 22
Tie - 25

And:
More uncommitted voters trusted Obama than McCain to make the right decisions about health care. Before the debate, sixty-one percent of uncommitted voters said that they trust Obama on the issue; after, sixty-eight percent said so. Twenty-seven percent trusted McCain to manage health care before the debate; thirty percent said so afterwards.

... more trusted Obama than McCain to make the right decisions about the economy. Before the debate, fifty-four percent of uncommitted voters said that they trust Obama to make the right decisions about the economy; after, sixty-five percent said that. Before, thirty-eight percent trusted McCain to do so, and forty-eight percent did after the debate.

Before the debate, sixty-six percent thought Obama understands voters’ needs and problems; that rose to seventy-six percent after the debate. For McCain, thirty-six percent felt he understands voters’ needs before the debate, and forty-eight percent thought so afterwards.
CNN:

CNN undecided voters:

Obama won - 58%
McCain won - 31

Who spent more time attacking during the debate?
McCain – 80%
Obama – 7%
And:
The poll also suggested that debate watchers' favorable opinion of Obama rose during the debate, from 63 percent at the start of the debate to 66 percent at the end of the debate. The poll indicates that McCain's favorables dropped, from 51 percent to 49 percent.


Pollster Stan Greenberg's focus group:
Stan Greenberg is briefing reporters on his focus group of undecided voters in Colorado. He said the respondents felt Obama "won" and that the results were "more decisive than either of the last two." That's a reference to Greenberg's previous focus groups, which also came away preferring Obama.

The most striking result came on the favorability ratings. Although the focus group was officially undecided, it leaned towards McCain. Here were the favorability-unfavorability ratings for each candidate at the start:

McCain: 54 favorable / 34 unfavorable

Obama: 42 favorable / 42 unfavorable

Here's what the ratings looked like after the debate:

McCain: 50 favorable / 48 unfavorable

Obama: 72 favorable / 22 unfavorable

Apparently, Obama scored most with his answers on education and parental responsibility, which produced strong "shares my values" ratings.

And last but not least, here's yet another Frank Luntz focus group that put a sag on poor Brit Hume's face. This time, from right here in Miami! Aye, dios mio!

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posted by JReid @ 12:04 AM  
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Obama clobbers McCain on 'the Ayers thing'


... after which, John McCain drops the laugh out loud line that his campaign is about the economy. BTW, why does John McCain blink so much? It's just weird, man!

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posted by JReid @ 11:57 PM  
John McCain hates women...
(...except Sarah Palin. He thinks she's a "reformer...")

Perhaps the two dumbest things John McCain did tonight (besides rolling and blinking his eyes like a madman and slurping spit through his clenched teeth throughout the night) were 1) blowing off the Lily Ledbetter "equal pay" question with a quick dismissal (and a pivot back to something he preferred to talk about ... earmarks, maybe?) and 2) his "Dr. Evil" air quotes response to the question of abortion in the case of a threat to a woman's health.

First, the ledbetter answer. It went like this. Obama was talking about what kind of temperament he'd look for in a Supreme Court justice:
I'll just give you one quick example. Sen. McCain and I disagreed recently when the Supreme Court made it more difficult for a woman named Lilly Ledbetter to press her claim for pay discrimination.

For years, she had been getting paid less than a man had been paid for doing the exact same job. And when she brought a suit, saying equal pay for equal work, the judges said, well, you know, it's taken you too long to bring this lawsuit, even though she didn't know about it until fairly recently.

We tried to overturn it in the Senate. I supported that effort to provide better guidance to the courts; John McCain opposed it.

I think that it's important for judges to understand that if a woman is out there trying to raise a family, trying to support her family, and is being treated unfairly, then the court has to stand up, if nobody else will. And that's the kind of judge that I want.

Schieffer: Time's up.

McCain: Obviously, that law waved the statute of limitations, which you could have gone back 20 or 30 years. It was a trial lawyer's dream.

Let me talk to you about an important aspect of this issue. We have to change the culture of America. Those of us who are proudly pro-life understand that. And it's got to be courage and compassion that we show to a young woman who's facing this terribly difficult decision. ...
Way to segue, Mac. Next, on his way to re-cementing the base, again ... on "partial birth abortion," John McCain completely dismisses the seriousness of a woman's health, even in the case where having a baby might kill her.
Watch:



That's the kind of callousness toward women that created the gender gap. And it shows a generational dismissiveness toward women that is one reason McCain is going to have one hell of a hard time catching up by November 4th.

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posted by JReid @ 11:50 PM  
And the winner is ... Joe the Plumber
John McCain may not intend to do squat for you, but if elected, he'll damn sure look out for Joe. ... the plumber. By the way, it's a great day to have a business called "Joe the Plumber," as this guy will probably tell you tomorrow ... or this guy ... or this guy here ... hey, I wonder if those guys had $250,000 in cash on hand to buy their plumbing businesses like "middle class" Joe? (And am I the only one who wouldn't think it's such a bad idea to "spread the wealth around" -- given that the opposite is "keeping the wealth in the hands of the wealthy and telling everybody else to go screw themselves???") That said, the CNN focus group hated all the "Joe the plumber" shtick. After about the 20th time, it was annoying... But Joe did get his 15 minutes of fame (or was that 90 minutes) ... and he'll always have his Youtube. Gnight Joe!

Hey, wait a second ... something about that Joe seems strangely familiar... could it be ... SHUT UP!!

Joe the plumber ... and those bald guys from the second debate!

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posted by JReid @ 11:32 PM  
Dear John: please, please, PLEASE bring up Bill Ayers
John McCain is promising his supporters that he's going to whip Barack Obama's clot in tonight's debate, and he just swears he's man enough to bring up Bill Ayers. Ok, Mac. Do it. Listen to Rush Limbaugh instead of the "pointy headed intellectuals" who actually have ideas in your party, and bring.up.Bill.Ayers. If you do, you'll look even more erratic and miserable and out of touch than you do now. You'll turn off even more swing voters and moderates, who by the way, are what you desperately need right now, not to gain, but to TURN, since Barack has reached the 50 percent threshold and you, in two words, have not. You'll also open the door for Barack to highlight the ties between the people who funded Bill Ayers and the foundation for which he and Barack sat on the board, and the Republican Party, not to mention, to YOU. And it will prove that the last several days of so-called "changing the tone" were another gimmick, like "suspending your campaign."

Worse for you, all your and Sarah P's over the top, slanderous (and yet entirely unserious) Ayers talk has prompted the media to do something reporters don't do so very often in these days of newsroom budget cuts: they're reporting (and posting ... hello, beastie...) and what they're finding is that Bill Ayers isn't some wild-eyed terrorist goon who "still wants to bring down America," he's a rather non-controversial college professor -- and a rather shy one at that, who has had very little to do with Barack Obama. Once normal, non-crazy people get a good gander at him, he will surely underwhelm.

So go for it, "my friend." I'll be watching ... with popcorn.

Meanwhile, new swing state polls (note: Georgia is a swing state...)

Colorado
Obama - 51
McCain - 47

Florida
Obama - 51
McCain - 46

Georgia
McCain - 53
Obama - 45

Source: CNN/Time magazine/Opinion Research Corp.

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posted by JReid @ 3:03 PM  
Enough already, Jesse
Um ... Rev? Sit down for a second. We need to have a talk. ... It's about your role in public life "on behalf of Black America." See, not that we don't appreciate the whole "keep hope alive" thing, which was really cool when those of us in our 30s were kids ... but ... well ... we won't be needing your services anymore. In short: we've decided to "move in a different direction," and have elected to replace "up with hope" with just ... well, hope, plus a belief in ourselves and in this country's ability to rise to the occasion. For that, we won't be needing you. We've got Barack now, and a whole crop of new leaders who plan to change this country for the better, without the baby mama drama.

Oh, and on the whole "Israel" thing? We really don't need to hear from you on that anymore either. You just don't know enough about it, and your credibility on the subject is, how shall we say ... compromised. Besides, all you're doing by making stupid comments about things you know nothing about (such as, Barack Obama's Middle East policy...) is getting that weird old guy's blood up. You're embarrassing your son (again) ... and you're potentially screwing with Florida (which Barack is winning at the moment.) The Obama campaign very quickly set the record straight about you: that you're basically a Lone Ranger barking at the campaign from the outside, but let's not make them have to do it again, shall we? Hey, here's an idea: why not just pretend that whenever you're speaking? Your mike is ALWAYS hot. And then don't talk. Just don't talk ... at all.

So, that's it. And since you're not an adviser to Obama's campaign anyway, it's not like we're firing you or anything. Maybe you could ... I don't know ... take a vacation! I hear Greece is lovely this time of year ... Oh, I know! South Africa! That's far away ... I mean, enjoyable! Anyway, see ya, Rev, and thanks for the memories (except for the bloody shirt thing and the baby mama drama ... those memories we could do without.)

UPDATE: Jesse blames the media

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posted by JReid @ 1:27 PM  
The Mike Scott reader
The Naples News-Press has endorsed Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott, despite his ethical lapse at a Sarah Palin rally in which he used Barack Obama's middle name to disparage the Democratic candidate (while Scott was in uniform.) Well, that's their prerogative, just as it's the feds' prerogative to investigate Scott for possible violation of the Hatch Act. But what Scott said long after the rally, in his own defense, might actually be worse than what he did on stage. Specifically, from an October 14 story in another Naples paper:
Scott, when told by a reporter that some people saw use of the name as an attempt to frighten people, responded, "Well, what is ‘Barack Obama?' That's not ‘Mike Scott' or ‘Jim Smith.'"
Well, what does Sheriff Scott mean by that, exactly? "...what is ‘Barack Obama?' That's not ‘Mike Scott' or ‘Jim Smith.???" If I lived in Lee County and my name were, say, Samir Muhammad or Sebastien Ibeke (my father's name) or ... say ... Barack Obama, I might not be so quick to take the News Press' endorsement to the polls, and I might not be so confident of the police services Mike Scott would provide for me.

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posted by JReid @ 2:00 AM  
John McCain: Palling around with Saddam lobbyists
Murray Waas plumbs the depths of the John McCain "transition team" and finds a lobbyist for the late Saddam Hussein:

William Timmons, the Washington lobbyist who John McCain has named to head his presidential transition team, aided an influence effort on behalf of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to ease international sanctions against his regime.

The two lobbyists who Timmons worked closely with over a five year period on the lobbying campaign later either pleaded guilty to or were convicted of federal criminal charges that they had acted as unregistered agents of Saddam Hussein's government.

During the same period beginning in 1992, Timmons worked closely with the two lobbyists, Samir Vincent and Tongsun Park, on a previously unreported prospective deal with the Iraqis in which they hoped to be awarded a contract to purchase and resell Iraqi oil. Timmons, Vincent, and Park stood to share at least $45 million if the business deal went through.

Timmons' activities occurred in the years following the first Gulf War, when Washington considered Iraq to be a rogue enemy state and a sponsor of terrorism. His dealings on behalf of the deceased Iraqi leader stand in stark contrast to the views his current employer held at the time.

John McCain strongly supported the 1991 military action against Iraq, and as recently as Sunday described Saddam Hussein as a one-time menace to the region who had "stated categorically that he would acquire weapons of mass destruction, and he would use them wherever he could."

Timmons declined to comment for this story. An office manager who works for him said that he has made it his practice during his public career to never speak to the press. Timmons previously told investigators that he did not know that either Vincent or Park were acting as unregistered agents of Iraq. He also insisted that he did not fully understand just how closely the two men were tied to Saddam's regime while they collaborated.

But testimony and records made public during Park's criminal trial, as well as other information uncovered during a United Nations investigation, suggest just the opposite. Virtually everything Timmons did while working on the lobbying campaign was within days conveyed by Vincent to either one or both of Saddam Hussein's top aides, Tariq Aziz and Nizar Hamdoon. Vincent also testified that he almost always relayed input from the Iraqi aides back to Timmons. ...

First of all, is everyone on McCain's team a bloody "Washington lobbyist?" Does he know anyone ... ANYONE ... besides Washington lobbyists? Anyway, there's much more to Waas' story, which you can continue reading here. More on the import of the story from Sky News:

Mr Timmons - a long term Washington lobbyist who has worked for every Republican president since Richard Nixon - has not denied the allegations.

As head of the transition team he would help John McCain fill up to 3,000 full time government posts in the period between Nov 5 and the Inauguration on Jan 20. The process involves intense security checks and heavy vetting, introduced after the September 11 attacks.

Unfortunately for McCain, the Timmons story has already gone international, and domestically, has even been picked up in ruby red North Dakota.

More Murray Waas here.

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posted by JReid @ 1:08 AM  
Fatwahed by 'the base'
Do you know what the translation for the term "the base" is in Arabic? It's "al-Qaeda."

And now for the post. Christopher Buckley has resigned from the National Review, and his resignation was accepted in what might be called a "New York minute" (except that the right hates New York, except that they mostly live there ... so, maybe a "Wasila minute???) His crime: he endorsed Barack Obama, and in doing so, enraged the base. ... And so now, the son of NR's founder, the really, very delightful William F. Buckley Jr., is on the outs. He writes at The Daily Beast (Tina Brown's new blog home):

Since my Obama endorsement, Kathleen and I have become BFFs and now trade incoming hate-mails. No one has yet suggested my dear old Mum should have aborted me, but it’s pretty darned angry out there in Right Wing Land. One editor at National Review—a friend of 30 years—emailed me that he thought my opinions “cretinous.” One thoughtful correspondent, who feels that I have “betrayed”—the b-word has been much used in all this—my father and the conservative movement generally, said he plans to devote the rest of his life to getting people to cancel their subscriptions to National Review. But there was one bright spot: To those who wrote me to demand, “Cancel my subscription,” I was able to quote the title of my father’s last book, a delicious compendium of his NR “Notes and Asides”: Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription.

Within hours of my endorsement appearing in The Daily Beast it became clear that National Review had a serious problem on its hands. So the next morning, I thought the only decent thing to do would be to offer to resign my column there. This offer was accepted—rather briskly!—by Rich Lowry, NR’s editor, and its publisher, the superb and able and fine Jack Fowler. I retain the fondest feelings for the magazine that my father founded, but I will admit to a certain sadness that an act of publishing a reasoned argument for the opposition should result in acrimony and disavowal.

My father in his day endorsed a number of liberal Democrats for high office, including Allard K. Lowenstein and Joe Lieberman. One of his closest friends on earth was John Kenneth Galbraith. In 1969, Pup wrote a widely-remarked upon column saying that it was time America had a black president. (I hasten to aver here that I did not endorse Senator Obama because he is black. Surely voting for someone on that basis is as racist as not voting for him for the same reason.)

My point, simply, is that William F. Buckley held to rigorous standards, and if those were met by members of the other side rather than by his own camp, he said as much. My father was also unpredictable, which tends to keep things fresh and lively and on-their-feet. He came out for legalization of drugs once he decided that the war on drugs was largely counterproductive. Hardly a conservative position. Finally, and hardly least, he was fun. God, he was fun. He liked to mix it up.

So, I have been effectively fatwahed (is that how you spell it?) by the conservative movement, and the magazine that my father founded must now distance itself from me. But then, conservatives have always had a bit of trouble with the concept of diversity. The GOP likes to say it’s a big-tent. Looks more like a yurt to me.

Buckley goes on to say that it's really no biggie, since conservatism doesn't mean much in the wake of eight years of gigantic government, Terri Schiavo intervention and an ill-conceived war in Iraq. Besides, as many conservatives (including George Will, David Brooks, and when he's not being a peevish, duplicitous little prick, even David Frum have admitted, the Republican Party is becoming increasingly a hostile place for intellectuals (except for neocons. They're always welcome.) And so, welcome to the winning team, Chris. We're glad to have you.

Meanwhile, NR's Rich Lowry replies: "Nyeh!"

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posted by JReid @ 12:10 AM  
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Another 'killer' McCain suppoter ... Plus: our most embarrassing Americans
Courtesy of the Politico by way of the HuffPo but really from the Scranton Times Tribune. Timeline of a McCain-Palin rally near Scranton:
1:56 p.m.

Gov. Palin, accompanied by her husband, Todd, walked onstage to a rousing reception by the Riverfront Sports crowd as the theme from "Rocky" played.

After acknowledging "Hockey moms, soccer moms, baseball moms," Gov. Palin introduced Lee Greenwood. Mr. Greenwood noted that the wrong song was playing. He then asked everyone to put their hands on their hearts and help him sing the National Anthem.

The sound crew then cued up the song the crowd expected Greenwood to perform, and he burst into his hit "God Bless the U.S.A."

1:40 p.m.

The press pool has arrived at Riverfront Sports. Gov. Palin should arrive shortly.

1:25 p.m.

Chris Hackett addressed the increasingly feisty crowd as they await the arrival of Gov. Palin.

Each time the Republican candidate for the seat in the 10th Congressional District mentioned Barack Obama the crowd booed loudly.

One man screamed "kill him!"
Well, that's nice. Brave New Films has a compilation of more embarassing McCaniacs and their greatest hits.

Of course, to be fair, there are many different kinds of McCain-Palin supporters, who can be found all around the country...

There's the racist Pennsylvania monkey guy:



The uninformed Ohioans of Strongville (featuring the pushy, bad hair lady):



And of course, the "o little crowd of Bethlehem (PA)":



Um... you guys do realize that people besides your family members are gonna see this ... right...?

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posted by JReid @ 5:05 PM  
Rats .... Ship ...
The Jed Report chronicles the stream of defections from Team McCain. And the list includes a shocker: one of the the absolute GOP sycophants at RedState. My personal favorite:
  1. Mickey Edwards (Mon Oct 13):
    Republican Mickey Edwards, formerly a congressman from Oklahoma, distances himself from McCain, saying "today, thanks to a campaign apparently managed by Moe, Curly, and Larry, he comes across as erratic (Obama's word, but it fits), impulsive, befuddled, and ill-tempered, and apparently unable to utter any words other than 'surge' and 'earmarks.'" Edwards also plays the blame game very explicitly: "If Obama gets a big win, it will be McCain himself, and the Three Stooges calling the shots at his headquarters who will deserve whatever blame is attached for transforming a viable and energetic Obama campaign into a steamroller grinding the Republican Party into the ground."
And as promised, the RedState guy:
  1. Erick Erickson (Mon Oct 13):
    Erick Erickson, "editor in chief" of RedState.com, is giving up on McCain: "With only a few weeks left until election day, let's be blunt: McCain-Palin '08 does not seem to be making headway against the polling." He suggests that McCain needs to choose between himself and senate/house Republicans, and suggests that his readers focus on downballot races: "The Republican numbers in the House and Senate can be salvaged, but in the next few weeks there must be a realistic assessment from the McCain campaign regarding winning his own race versus helping Congressional Republicans mitigate their losses."
Bang, ZOOM!

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posted by JReid @ 3:53 PM  
Geez, now they're attacking each other!!!
Oooh, George Will... are you gonna let that crinkly old has-been Robert Duvall talk to you like that? (On a related note, Tommy Thompson is kind of dull...)

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posted by JReid @ 3:30 PM  
Ayers away!
Rick Santorum: palling around with terrorists???

How sick am I of this silly Bill Ayers shtick coming out of the McCain campaign and their new "my friends" on the right? VERY. And yet, I'm writing another post about it...

John McCain went on the radio with a very solicitous talk show host and responded to Barack Obama's "say it to my face" challenge. McCain said that Obama's comments had pretty much ensured he'll bring Ayers up at the next debate (it's kind of a macho thing, apparently.) Please do, Senator. That should be good for another 5 or 6 points for Barack in the polls!

Meanwhile, from Team Obama, comes the Ayers radio ad:

"Bill Ayers is a professor of education who once served with Obama on a school reform board, a board funded by conservative Republicans tied to McCain," says the ad's narrator. "When Ayers committed crimes in the '60s, Obama was 8 years old. Obama condemned those despicable acts. Ayers has had no role in Obama's campaign, and will have no role in his administration."

"And John McCain? With no plan to fix our economy, smears are all he has left," says the narrator.

The ad is airing in Wisconsin, Colorado, and likely other states.

By the way, while we're on the subject of William Ayers, don't you think it's time the mainstream media told you who ELSE was "palling around" with the terrorist ...s?

In 1995, Bill Ayers was part of a team that helped create the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, an education reform project that worked with half of Chicago's public schools. Barack Obama, then working as an attorney and law school professor, was elected chairman of the eight-member board of the CAC. The board included individuals of diverse political backgrounds, including Ray Romero, the President of Ameritech; Stanley Ikenberry, the former President of the University of Illinois; and Republican Arnold Weber, who had served in the Nixon White House.

In their best efforts to portray Barack as out of the mainstream, some on the right have tried characterizing the Chicago Annenberg Challenge as a dangerous fringe organization. What they do not discuss is the fact that the CAC was funded by a foundation belonging to Walter Annenberg, the billionaire Republican philanthropist who served as Richard M. Nixon's ambassador to the U.K. Annenberg and his wife, Leonore, gave the CAC $50 million in the 90's.

But Walter and Leonore weren't just giving money to educational foundations started by William Ayers. They were also giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Republican National Committee and various other Republican groups, as well as to a whole host of Republican candidates, including the following:

  • George W. Bush $4000
  • Mitt Romney $5000
  • Strom Thurmond $1000
  • Fred Thompson $500
  • Rick Santorum $3000
In other words, most of the people "palling around" with this particular terrorist were ... wait for it ... Republicans, and some darned prominent ones, too! Time to send Rick Santorum to Gitmo! (Oh, sorry, did I type that out loud...?) And by the way, guess which terror loving anti-American flag pin hater endorsed John McCain for president earlier this year?

You guessed it: Lenore Annenberg. See how that works?

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posted by JReid @ 3:04 PM  
The lead
Polls show Obama is ahead in four key swing states: Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, with Colorado being the important turnaround state that went to Bush in 2004.
In Michigan, Obama leads 54-38; in Minnesota, he’s up 51-40; and in Wisconsin respondents went 54-37 for Obama. (The margin of error is roughly plus or minus 3 percentage points in each of the four states.)

Colorado, meanwhile, went for President Bush in 2004. But if this latest number holds, it’s going blue this year. Quinnipiac reports that Obama leads there by 9 points, 52-43. With its nine Electoral College votes, the state is no Virginia, but it’s a big prize nonetheless, one that would by itself put Obama almost over the top if he holds Kerry’s states and adds Iowa — which polls indicate he will — to his column.

This comes on top of the latest ABC/WaPo poll which shows Obama up by 10 points, and ahead in every measure of leadership including taxes, for god sakes, the Iraq war, and "an unexpected crisis" -- everything except for terrorism, where McCain leads by 6 points. I refer you to question number 9:

9. (ASKED OF REGISTERED VOTERS) Regardless of who you may support, who do you trust more to handle [ITEM] - (Obama) or (McCain)?

10/11/08 - Summary Table*
Both Neither No
Obama McCain (vol.) (vol.) opinion
a. The economy 53 37 1 7 2
b. Helping the middle
class 59 31 1 6 2
c. The war in Iraq 48 47 1 4 1
d. Taxes 52 41 1 5 2
e. Protecting the Social
Security system 51 34 2 9 4
f. The U.S. campaign
against terrorism 43 49 2 4 3
g. Health care 59 30 1 6 4
h. An unexpected major
crisis 48 45 2 4 1
Meanwhile, a Politico poll finds that Obama is ahead in 3 out of 4 "bellweather" counties that went for Bush in 2004:
In Washoe County, near Reno, Nev., Obama leads McCain 46 percent to 45 percent , with 6 percent undecided. Obama posts a wider 50 percent-44 percent lead with 5 percent undecided in Raleigh, North Carolina's Wake County, and another 6 point lead in Hillsborough County, Fla., where Tampa is located. There, he edges McCain 47 percent to 41 percent, with 11 percent undecided.

Among the four counties tested, McCain leads in only one: Jefferson County, Colo., a populous Denver suburb. McCain is ahead there by a margin of 45 percent to 43 percent, with 8 percent undecided.

At first glance, these Politico/InsiderAdvantage numbers might not look so troubling for McCain, who trailed Obama by 10 points in an ABC/Washington Post national survey, released Monday.

But these four counties are crucial battlegrounds in four of the most competitive states in the presidential race. In recent years, the Republican path to the White House has run through these areas.

And that, my friends, is called "burying the lead."

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posted by JReid @ 12:50 PM  
Yes, yes and more YES!
The Weekly Standard lays out the "worst case scenario" for next year, and it's all stuff I like: more union protections, universal healthcare, making rich stock traders actually pay taxes, breaking the ideological stranglehold of right wing program directors on talk radio, withdrawing from Iraq... what's the problem, fellas?

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posted by JReid @ 10:54 AM  
When you've lost Roger Simon...
Maybe they're just trying to put down the Karl Rove association rumblings, or maybe they've figured out that it's better to side with the winner in a presidential race, but Politico.com in the last couple of days is trending negative on John McCain. Even Roger Simon -- as pro-McCain a reporter as I've read outside the Washington Times -- is starting to get antsy. Today, he gives McCain the business:
John McCain’s campaign is pretty much a shambles right now.

If you don’t believe me, just listen to John McCain. His chief goal these days is calming down his crowds, not firing them up.

And that is an honorable thing to do. It may not be a winning thing to do. But it is honorable.

Sarah Palin, once seen as a huge plus to the ticket, is now increasingly emerging as a liability.

Forget that an independent legislative panel found Friday that she had abused her power and violated ethics laws as governor of Alaska. Forget that with the possibility of Palin being a heartbeat away from the presidency, McCain gives up the argument that his ticket represents experience and a steady hand on the tiller.

The real problem for McCain is that Palin is running a separate — and scary — campaign that does not seem to be under anybody’s control.
Really? The title of Simon's piece is "Who's in control of McCain's campaign?" And his tortured prose is intended, I suppose, to evoke sympathy for a man looking to lose, if he is going to lose, and retain his honor. The problem with Simon's analysis is that we already know who is in charge of John McCain's campaign, and thus, who is responsible for the shredding of his honor -- something that despite Simon's hand wringing, is already a fait accompli (though Joe Klein suggests today that he may be able to slink back into the Senate with a "few stray threads" of his dignity in tow.) At the end of the day, the blaggard in charge of John McCain's campaign is John McCain. He hired the Bush/Rove operatives, he signed off on the trashing of Barack Obama's character. He has, out of his own mouth, continued to flog the phony Bill Ayers story in order to try and connect his Senate colleague to terrorism. He approved this message, therefore, he owns it.

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posted by JReid @ 10:43 AM  
Crist to Mac: don't call me, I'll call you...
Mac and Charles in better days, just after McCain won the Florida primary in January

After the GOP presidential campaign veers off the rails, Miss Charlie quits John McCain like a bad tanning parlor:
He says he will "try" to help McCain when "I have time."

He didn't have time over the weekend when he skipped a McCain rally before the UF-LSU football game, opting instead for a trip to Disney. The governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, managed to show up.

I was reminded of Crist, during his 2006 gubernatorial campaign, bailing out of an event with George Bush.

Truth be told, Crist will have nothing but time on his hands until after the election. On Monday, his schedule included nothing in the morning and a tour of two small businesses in St. Petersburg in the afternoon. ...
Sure hate it.

Turns out Crist was with Sarah Palin when she made her now infamous "palling around with terrorists" jab at Barack Obama on Florida's west coast, and he was also "palling around" with Sarah (and even introduced her,) at the Germain Arena when Sheriff Mike Scott entered the annals of campaign history. Crist's comments after the rally (the day after last week's town hall style debate) were cool, to say the least, and he was careful to preserve his bi-partisan bona fides, even while playing the good partisan soldier:

“There’s always a back and forth, especially toward the end of these campaigns,” he said. “I don’t know that it’s fun for anyone.”

Asked how much time he would spend campaigning for McCain this month, Crist said it was not his priority.

“I’ll be involved, but my first duty is to the people of Florida, to be their governor and I take that role very, very seriously,” he said. “So when I have time to be able to help, I’ll try to do that but I know where my first loyalty is to and it’s to the 20 million people that live in the state that I love.”

Crist was magnanimous in his assessment of Tuesday night’s presidential debate.

“I thought Sen. McCain did very well. In all fairness, I think Sen. Obama comports himself very well,” said Crist.

It should also be noted that the Florida guvnah also skipped the GOP convention. He probably doesn't enjoy big, rowdy right wing crowds who tend to boo moderate, not exactly completely verifiably straight Republicans like him, if you know what I mean. And Crist has had a good, solid relationship with Florida Democrats, who could also increase their numbers in the state house in November, and with groups like the NAACP, who have been horrified by the goings on at the McCain-Palin campaign. Why would Crist put all of that at risk for McCain, after McCain abandoned the reasonable wing of the party for the kooks?

Oh, and if I were Charlie's fiancee, I wouldn't bet everything I had on that December wedding. Getting engaged was kind of part of the veep marketing strategy, and well ... McCain, as we now know all too well, went another way.

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posted by JReid @ 9:46 AM  
Cribs
Alaska's "First Dude," Todd Palin bragged not too long ago that he and his buddies built his family's dream home off Lake Lucerne himself. Turns out, by "himself," he meant with free labor from the same contractors who built Wasila's brand spanking new hockey rink (millions of dollars over budget) at the behest of the city's former mayor ... Sarah Palin. From reporter Wayne Barret of the Village Voice:

The $12.5 million sports complex and hockey rink that is the lasting monument to Palin's two terms as Wasilla mayor is also a monument to the kind of insider politics that dismays Americans of both parties. Six months before Palin stepped down as mayor in October 2002, the city awarded nearly a half-million-dollar contract to design the biggest project in Wasilla history to Kumin Associates. Blase Burkhart was the Kumin architect on the job—the son of Roy Burkhart, who is frequently described as a "mentor" of Palin and was head of the local Republican Party (his wife, June, who also advised Palin, is the national committeewoman). Asked if the contract was a favor, Roy Burkhart, who contributed to her campaign in the same time frame that his son got the contract, said: "I really don't know." Palin then named Blase Burkhart to a seven-member builder-selection committee that picked Howdie Inc., a mostly residential contractor owned at the time by Howard Nugent. Formally awarded the contract a couple of weeks after Palin left office, Nugent has donated $4,000 to Palin campaigns. Two competitors protested the process that led to Nugent's contract. Burkhart and Nugent had done at least one project together before the complex—and have done several since.

A list of subcontractors on the job, obtained by the Voice, includes many with Palin ties. One was Spenard Builders Supply, the state's leading supplier of wood, floor, roof, and other "pre-engineered components." In addition to being a sponsor of Todd Palin's snow-machine team that has earned tens of thousands for the Palin family, Spenard hired Sarah Palin to do a statewide television commercial in 2004. When the Palins began building a new family home off Lake Lucille in 2002—at the same time that Palin was running for lieutenant governor and in her final months as mayor—Spenard supplied the materials, according to Antoine Bricks, who works in its Wasilla office. Spenard actually filed a notice "of its right to assert a lien" on the deed for the Palin property after contracting for labor and materials for the site. Spenard's name has popped up in the trial of Senator Stevens—it worked on the house that is at the center of the VECO scandal as well.

Todd Palin told Fox News that he built the two-story, 3,450-square-foot, four-bedroom, four-bath, wood house himself, with the help of contractors he described as "buddies." As mayor, Sarah Palin blocked an effort to require the filing of building permits in the wide-open city, and there is no public record of who the "buddies" were. The house was built very near the complex, on a site whose city purchase led to years of unsuccessful litigation and, now, $1.3 million in additional costs, with a law firm that's also donated to Palin collecting costly fees from the city.

Dorwin and Joanne Smith, the principals of complex subcontractor DJ Excavation & Development, have donated $7,100 to Palin and her allied candidate Charlie Fannon (Joanne is a Palin appointee on the state Board of Nursing). Sheldon Ewing, who owns another complex subcontractor, Weld Air, has donated $1,300, and PN&D, an engineering firm on the complex, has contributed $699.

Ewing was one of the few sports-complex contractors, aside from Spenard, willing to address the question of whether he worked on the house as well, but he had little to say: "I doubt that it occurred, but if it did indirectly, how would I know anyhow?" The odd timing of Palin's house construction—it was completed two months before she left City Hall and while she and Todd Palin were campaigning statewide for the first time—raises questions, especially considering its synergy with the complex.

So ... I guess being a maverick involves ... cronyism, enriching oneself through one's office, and getting a brand new hockey rink AND a new house that the taxpayers pay you to live in? Who knew?

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posted by JReid @ 8:17 AM  
Monday, October 13, 2008
GOP of the rings
Gail Collins channels J.R.R. Tolkein:

Remember how we used to joke about John McCain looking like an old guy yelling at kids to get off his lawn? It’s only in retrospect that we can see that the keep-off-the-grass period was the McCain campaign’s golden era. Now, he’s beginning to act like one of those movie characters who steals the wrong ring and turns into a troll.

During that last debate, while he was wandering around the stage, you almost expected to hear him start muttering: “We wants it. We needs it. Must have the precious.”

Remember when McCain’s campaign ads were all about his being a prisoner of war? I really miss them.

Now they’re all about the Evil That Is Obama. The newest one, “Ambition,” has a woman, speaking in one of those sinister semiwhispers, saying: “When convenient, he worked with terrorist Bill Ayers. When discovered, he lied.” Then suddenly, with no warning whatsoever, she starts ranting about Congressional liberals and risky subprime loans. Then John McCain pops up to say he approved it. All in 30 seconds! And, of course, McCain would think it’s great. For the first time, the Republicans appear to have captured his thought process on tape.

The Republican campaign strategy now involves sending their candidates to areas where everybody is a die-hard McCain supporter already. Then they yell about Obama until the crowd is so frenzied people start making threats. The rest of the country is supposed to watch and conclude that this would be an enjoyable way to spend the next four years.

Maybe the Republicans should have picked somebody else. I miss Mitt Romney. Sure, he was sort of smarmy. But when Mitt was around, the banks had money and Iceland was solvent. And, of course, when we got bored, we could always talk about how he drove to Canada with his Irish setter strapped to the car roof. ...
"The black hobbit ... he tricks us! He tricks us and he takes it! He takes the Precious!!!!"

Meanwhile, WaPo editorial page editor Fred Hiatt ponders the campaign a once honor-bound John McCain might have run...

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posted by JReid @ 9:41 PM  
I think he's got it!
Just humor me on this. Read Christopher Hitchens' Barack Obama endorsement (on Slate.com) ... but as you do, imagine it coming out of the mouth of Stewie Griffin. Really, try it! Here's a bit to get you started:
On "the issues" in these closing weeks, there really isn't a very sharp or highly noticeable distinction to be made between the two nominees, and their "debates" have been cramped and boring affairs as a result. But the difference in character and temperament has become plainer by the day, and there is no decent way of avoiding the fact. Last week's so-called town-hall event showed Sen. John McCain to be someone suffering from an increasingly obvious and embarrassing deficit, both cognitive and physical. And the only public events that have so far featured his absurd choice of running mate have shown her to be a deceiving and unscrupulous woman utterly unversed in any of the needful political discourses but easily trained to utter preposterous lies and to appeal to the basest element of her audience. McCain occasionally remembers to stress matters like honor and to disown innuendoes and slanders, but this only makes him look both more senile and more cynical, since it cannot (can it?) be other than his wish and design that he has engaged a deputy who does the innuendoes and slanders for him. ...
See??? Oh, you really have to read the whole thing. But first, just one more taste of what he has to say about McCain:
I haven't felt such pity for anyone since the late Adm. James Stockdale humiliated himself as Ross Perot's running mate. And I am sorry to have to say it, but Stockdale had also distinguished himself in America's most disastrous and shameful war, and it didn't qualify him then and it doesn't qualify McCain now.
... and that squeaky voiced termagant of a running mate:
The most insulting thing that a politician can do is to compel you to ask yourself: "What does he take me for?" Precisely this question is provoked by the selection of Gov. Sarah Palin.
Yikes!

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posted by JReid @ 7:20 PM  
Best Obama Ever
Somebody call "SNL" -- this guy should be hired, stat.



Hilarious!

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posted by JReid @ 6:50 PM  
Krugmanomics
Hey, I've got an idea for who could be Barack Obama's secretary of the treasury: newly minted Nobel Prize in Economics winner Paul Krugman. Congrats, Krugman! (And I guess Princeton is an "okay" school, if you're into that sort of thing...)

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posted by JReid @ 12:51 PM  
A little truthiness: who caused the subprime crisis?
McClatchy does us all a service, by setting the record straight:
As the economy worsens and Election Day approaches, a conservative campaign that blames the global financial crisis on a government push to make housing more affordable to lower-class Americans has taken off on talk radio and e-mail.

Commentators say that's what triggered the stock market meltdown and the freeze on credit. They've specifically targeted the mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which the federal government seized on Sept. 6, contending that lending to poor and minority Americans caused Fannie's and Freddie's financial problems.

Federal housing data reveal that the charges aren't true, and that the private sector, not the government or government-backed companies, was behind the soaring subprime lending at the core of the crisis.

Subprime lending offered high-cost loans to the weakest borrowers during the housing boom that lasted from 2001 to 2007. Subprime lending was at its height from 2004 to 2006.

Federal Reserve Board data show that:

  • More than 84 percent of the subprime mortgages in 2006 were issued by private lending institutions.
  • Private firms made nearly 83 percent of the subprime loans to low- and moderate-income borrowers that year.
  • Only one of the top 25 subprime lenders in 2006 was directly subject to the housing law that's being lambasted by conservative critics.

The "turmoil in financial markets clearly was triggered by a dramatic weakening of underwriting standards for U.S. subprime mortgages, beginning in late 2004 and extending into 2007," the President's Working Group on Financial Markets reported Friday.

Furthermore, though they have become the whipping banks of the right:

Fannie, the Federal National Mortgage Association, and Freddie, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., don't lend money, to minorities or anyone else, however. They purchase loans from the private lenders who actually underwrite the loans.

And...

This much is true. In an effort to promote affordable home ownership for minorities and rural whites, the Department of Housing and Urban Development set targets for Fannie and Freddie in 1992 to purchase low-income loans for sale into the secondary market that eventually reached this number: 52 percent of loans given to low-to moderate-income families.

To be sure, encouraging lower-income Americans to become homeowners gave unsophisticated borrowers and unscrupulous lenders and mortgage brokers more chances to turn dreams of homeownership in nightmares.

But these loans, and those to low- and moderate-income families represent a small portion of overall lending. And at the height of the housing boom in 2005 and 2006, Republicans and their party's standard bearer, President Bush, didn't criticize any sort of lending, frequently boasting that they were presiding over the highest-ever rates of U.S. homeownership.

Between 2004 and 2006, when subprime lending was exploding, Fannie and Freddie went from holding a high of 48 percent of the subprime loans that were sold into the secondary market to holding about 24 percent, according to data from Inside Mortgage Finance, a specialty publication. One reason is that Fannie and Freddie were subject to tougher standards than many of the unregulated players in the private sector who weakened lending standards, most of whom have gone bankrupt or are now in deep trouble.

During those same explosive three years, private investment banks — not Fannie and Freddie — dominated the mortgage loans that were packaged and sold into the secondary mortgage market. In 2005 and 2006, the private sector securitized almost two thirds of all U.S. mortgages, supplanting Fannie and Freddie, according to a number of specialty publications that track this data.

In 1999, the year many critics charge that the Clinton administration pressured Fannie and Freddie, the private sector sold into the secondary market just 18 percent of all mortgages.

Fueled by low interest rates and cheap credit, home prices between 2001 and 2007 galloped beyond anything ever seen, and that fueled demand for mortgage-backed securities, the technical term for mortgages that are sold to a company, usually an investment bank, which then pools and sells them into the secondary mortgage market.

About 70 percent of all U.S. mortgages are in this secondary mortgage market, according to the Federal Reserve.

But what about the infamous Community Reinvestment Act (the CRA)? Isn't THAT Carter-era abomination to blame for the subprime crisis? Why, no...

Congress created the CRA in 1977 to reverse years of redlining and other restrictive banking practices that locked the poor, and especially minorities, out of homeownership and the tax breaks and wealth creation it affords. The CRA requires federally regulated and insured financial institutions to show that they're lending and investing in their communities.

Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote recently that while the goal of the CRA was admirable, "it led to tremendous pressure on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — who in turn pressured banks and other lenders — to extend mortgages to people who were borrowing over their heads. That's called subprime lending. It lies at the root of our current calamity."

Fannie and Freddie, however, didn't pressure lenders to sell them more loans; they struggled to keep pace with their private sector competitors. In fact, their regulator, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, imposed new restrictions in 2006 that led to Fannie and Freddie losing even more market share in the booming subprime market.

What's more, only commercial banks and thrifts must follow CRA rules. The investment banks don't, nor did the now-bankrupt non-bank lenders such as New Century Financial Corp. and Ameriquest that underwrote most of the subprime loans.

These private non-bank lenders enjoyed a regulatory gap, allowing them to be regulated by 50 different state banking supervisors instead of the federal government. And mortgage brokers, who also weren't subject to federal regulation or the CRA, originated most of the subprime loans.

As much as I love the folks at McClatchy, I said the exact same thing a month ago, in this fantabulous video:



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posted by JReid @ 12:36 PM  
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Right on, John Lewis
The McCain campaign is in a huff over a statement from one of the three "wise men" John McCain claimed in that Rick Warren confab that he would consult in the White House if he were to become president: Georgia Congressman, and civil rights icon, John Lewis, who on Saturday ripped into the McCain-Palin ticket, accusing the campaign of "sowing the seeds of hatred and division." Referring to 1960s-era Alabama Gov. George Wallace, Lewis said in a statement on Saturday:
"As one who was a victim of violence and hate during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, I am deeply disturbed by the negative tone of the McCain-Palin campaign. What I am seeing today reminds me too much of another destructive period in American history. Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are sowing the seeds of hatred and division, and there is no need for this hostility in our political discourse.

"During another period, in the not too distant past, there was a governor of the state of Alabama named George Wallace who also became a presidential candidate. George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who only desired to exercise their constitutional rights. Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed one Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama.

"As public figures with the power to influence and persuade, Sen. McCain and Governor Palin are playing with fire, and if they are not careful, that fire will consume us all. They are playing a very dangerous game that disregards the value of the political process and cheapens our entire democracy. We can do better. The American people deserve better."

To which the McCain campaign whinged:

"Congressman John Lewis' comments represent a character attack against Governor Sarah Palin and me that is shocking and beyond the pale. The notion that legitimate criticism of Senator Obama's record and positions could be compared to Governor George Wallace, his segregationist policies and the violence he provoked is unacceptable and has no place in this campaign. I am saddened that John Lewis, a man I've always admired, would make such a brazen and baseless attack on my character and the character of the thousands of hardworking Americans who come to our events to cheer for the kind of reform that will put America on the right track.

"I call on Senator Obama to immediately and personally repudiate these outrageous and divisive comments that are so clearly designed to shut down debate 24 days before the election. Our country must return to the important debate about the path forward for America."

To which Lewis and the Obama campaign added:
Clarifying his remarks later Saturday, Lewis said his statement "was a reminder to all Americans that toxic language can lead to destructive behavior."

"I am glad that Sen. McCain has taken some steps to correct divisive speech at his rallies. I believe we need to return to civil discourse in this election about the pressing economic issues that are affecting our nation."

Obama's campaign said Obama "does not believe that John McCain or any policy criticism is any way comparable to George Wallace or his segregationist policies" but said Lewis was "right to condemn some of the hateful rhetoric."

So here's the thing. The McCain campaign is brimming with fake outrage over Lewis' remarks, but then the same day, what we can now call "the trouble" happens again...

The Iowa Independent reports that a minister who spoke at John McCain’s rally in Davenport, IA today injected a divisive statement into his invocation. Here’s what Pastor Arnold Conrad said:

I would also add, Lord, that your reputation is involved in all that happens between now and November, because there are millions of people around this world praying to their god — whether it’s Hindu, Buddha, Allah — that his opponent wins, for a variety of reasons. And Lord, I pray that you will guard your own reputation, because they’re going to think that their god is bigger than you, if that happens. So I pray that you will step forward and honor your own name with all that happens between now and election day.

Forcing the McCain campaign to "repudiate" again...
"While we understand the important role that faith plays in informing the votes of Iowans, questions about the religious background of the candidates only serve to distract from the real questions in this race about Barack Obama's judgment, policies and readiness to lead as commander in chief." - Wendy Riemann, Midwest Regional Communications Director
Righto...

And McCain has another problem. What Rep. Lewis said isn't even the first time someone has raised the possibility that McCain and especially Sarah Palin, are systematically bringing the nut-jobs out of the woodwork. Chris Matthews has said it, as have David Gergen, Joe Klein, Bob Shrum and any number of commentators and analysts, some of whom I've chronicled here. Just this weekend, right wing talker Mike McConnell compared the McCain-Palin rallies to excursions into "Hooterville," and suggested that the only people still attending, and still interested in Bill Ayers, are people named "Jebediah and Jethro." And McCain has apparently realized himself that he's got to begin walking the crazies back from the grassy knoll. And McCain's troubles with his angry mob of followers are now an international story. No backing away from it now.

Here at home, just today, we have Frank Rich opening his column like this:
IF you think way back to the start of this marathon campaign, back when it seemed preposterous that any black man could be a serious presidential contender, then you remember the biggest fear about Barack Obama: a crazy person might take a shot at him. ...
Is what John Lewis said any more jarring than that? I think not.

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posted by JReid @ 6:31 PM  
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Abuse of power
The verdict is in: 10 Republicans and 4 Democrats on the legislative panel in Alaska investigating "Troopergate" find that Sarah Palin abused her power as governor, and used her husband as her "cappo." From the Anchorage Daily News:
A legislative investigation has concluded that Gov. Sarah Palin abused her power in pushing for the firing of an Alaska state trooper who was once married to her sister, or by failing to prevent her husband Todd from doing so.

The report by investigator Steve Branchflower was made public late this afternoon by a bipartisan 12-0 vote of the Legislative Council, which authorized the investigation.

Branchflower's report contains four findings. The first concludes that Palin violated the state's executive branch ethics act, which says that "each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust."

Branchflower was investigating Palin's involvement in an effort to get state trooper Mike Wooten fired. Wooten was involved in a nasty divorce from Palin's sister. Palin and her husband, Todd, have accused Wooten of threatening Palin's father.

The investigation also looked into whether Palin dismissed public safety commissioner Walt Monegan because he resisted pressure to fire Wooten.

The report says Palin failed to reign in her husband's inappropriate efforts to use the governor's office to contact trooper employees in his attempts to have Wooten fired.

"Governor Palin knowingly permitted a situation to continue where impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda ... to get Trooper Michael Wooten fired," Branchflower's report says.

"Compliance with the code of ethics is not optional. It is an individual responsibility imposed by law, and any effort to benefit a personal interest through official action is a violation of that trust. ... The term 'benefit' is very broadly defined, and includes anything that is to the person's advantage or personal self-interest."

In the second finding, Branchflower says Monegan's refusal to fire Wooten was not the sole reason for his dismissal but that it was a "contributing factor." Still, he said, Palin's firing of Monegan was "a proper and lawful exercise" of the governor's authority.

The third finding says a workers compensation claim filed by Wooten was handled appropriately. Number four concludes that the attorney general's office failed to comply with Branchflower's Aug. 6 request for information about the case in the form of e-mails.

The chairman of the Legislative Council, Sen. Kim Elton, D-Juneau, said he agreed with Branchflower's findings but wasn't ready to suggest there should be any consequences for the governor. ...

The report is in many ways an indictment of Todd Palin, who apparently spent literally years pursuing a vendetta against his wife's former brother in law, in an attempt to get him fired as a state trooper. (Full report here.)

The McCain campaign has issued a response:
"Today's report shows that the Governor acted within her proper and lawful authority in the reassignment of Walt Monegan," said Palin spokeswoman Meg Stapelton. "The report also illustrates what we've known all along: this was a partisan led inquiry run by Obama supporters and the Palins were completely justified in their concern regarding Trooper Wooten given his violent and rogue behavior. Lacking evidence to support the original Monegan allegation, the Legislative Council seriously overreached, making a tortured argument to find fault without basis in law or fact. The Governor is looking forward to cooperating with the Personnel Board and continuing her conversation with the American people regarding the important issues facing the country."
Now where did that darned rabbit go...???

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posted by JReid @ 12:05 AM  
Friday, October 10, 2008
McCain's campaign falls off the wagon (already)
Probably the most damning op-ed yet on McCain's dishonorable campaign. Wonder if this is the kind of thing that made the "maverick" blink:
John McCain: In 2000, as a lifelong Republican, I worked to get you elected instead of George W. Bush. In return, you wrote an endorsement of one of my books about military service. You seemed to be a man who put principle ahead of mere political gain.

You have changed. You have a choice: Go down in history as a decent senator and an honorable military man with many successes, or go down in history as the latest abettor of right-wing extremist hate.

John McCain, you are no fool, and you understand the depths of hatred that surround the issue of race in this country. You also know that, post-9/11, to call someone a friend of a terrorist is a very serious matter. You also know we are a bitterly divided country on many other issues. You know that, sadly, in America, violence is always just a moment away. You know that there are plenty of crazy people out there.

Stop! Think! Your rallies are beginning to look, sound, feel and smell like lynch mobs.

John McCain, you're walking a perilous line. If you do not stand up for all that is good in America and declare that Senator Obama is a patriot, fit for office, and denounce your hate-filled supporters when they scream out "Terrorist" or "Kill him," history will hold you responsible for all that follows.

John McCain and Sarah Palin, you are playing with fire, and you know it. You are unleashing the monster of American hatred and prejudice, to the peril of all of us. You are doing this in wartime. You are doing this as our economy collapses. You are doing this in a country with a history of assassinations.

Change the atmosphere of your campaign. Talk about the issues at hand. Make your case. But stop stirring up the lunatic fringe of haters, or risk suffering the judgment of history and the loathing of the American people - forever.
McCain made a start in returning to sanity today, briefly... but then, his campaign started issuing statements like this:
McCain senior adviser Nicolle Wallace released this statement, NBC's Kelly O'Donnell reports. "Barack Obama's assault on our supporters is insulting and unsurprising. These are the same people obama called 'bitter' and attacked for 'clinging to guns' and faith. He fails to understand that people are angry at corrupt practices in Washington and Wall Street and he fails to understand that America's working families are not 'clinging' to anything other than the sincere hope that Washington will be reformed from top to bottom."

"Attacking our supporters is a new low for the campaign that's run more millions of dollars of negative ads than any other in history."

*** UPDATE *** McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers adds in another statement: “Barack Obama’s attacks on Americans who support John McCain reveal far more about him than they do about John McCain. It is clear that Barack Obama just doesn’t understand regular people and the issues they care about. He dismisses hardworking middle class Americans as clinging to guns and religion, while at the same time attacking average Americans at McCain rallies who are angry at Washington, Wall Street and the status quo."

So what's it gonna be, John?

UPDATE: This is what it's gonna be. The McCain campaign is now broadening it's Ayers attack ... to Michelle.

(TPM Election Central) -- The McCain campaign is now broadening their attack on Obama's past association with William Ayers to include Michelle Obama -- even though McCain has repeatedly said spouses should be off limits during the campaign.

The attack? Bernardine Dohrn, Ayers' wife and fellow former Weatherman, went to work in 1984 for the major Chicago-based national law firm of Sidley & Austin, and three years later, Michelle joined the mega-firm as well.

That's the entire attack. We wish we were joking. But we aren't.

In launching this latest, McCain is ditching yet another formerly-claimed principle as he faces the growing likelihood of defeat. In a statement back in June, the McCain campaign said: "Senator McCain agrees with Senator Obama that spouses should not be an issue in this campaign, and he has stated that position frequently."

The attack on Michelle came on a McCain conference call with reporters this afternoon featuring John Murtagh, who has been hitting Obama over the Weather Underground's attack on his family's home back in 1970. Murtagh noted that Dohrn and Michelle Obama had both worked at the firm starting in the late 1980s.

The firm's Chicago office currently employs more than 500 lawyers.

Murtagh didn't even bother alleging that the two even knew each other, instead suggesting that they might have. If so, he said, the Obamas have known the two longer than suspected.

"If it is true" that the two women knew each other, Murtagh said, "the relationship is almost a decade older than Senator Obama has acknowledged. And that can very easily be resolved by Senator Obama, by Mrs. Obama, by Mr. Ayers and by Ms. Dohrn."

"And incidentally, I would emphasize that we've all been focusing on Senator Obama," said Murtagh. "I think we need to speak to his wife."

In the end, have you no decency, Senator?

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posted by JReid @ 11:23 PM  
Too late? McCain tries to put the pin back in the grenade
At a rally today, John McCain demonstrates that he does read the newspapers (and that he has heard the words of sober, serious people like David Gergen.) He tries to pull back his team's vicious crowds (and gets booed for his trouble.) Watch:



I think McCain's internal polling shows he's losing this thing, and he's trying, at long last, to save what he can of his reputation (not that he won't be bodysnatched again tomorrow by the crazed wingers running his campaign...) The problem is, the right wing doesn't listen to John McCain, and he has unleashed a two-headed monster, one head being these scary crowds, and the other being the pit bull with lipstick.

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posted by JReid @ 6:46 PM  
My healthcare article brings out the kooks
My article about Barack Obama's healthcare plan and how it could impact African-Americans is up and running. And now for a highly intellectual response courtesy of somebody called NorthernDog at Lucianne.com, who said this to me via email:
Rather than bling, KFC, IPods, and 200 dollar Jordans sneakers, why don't blacks buy their OWN health insurance instead of being parasites on the backs of everyone else? Just "axing". JCH
Isn't that brilliant? Read some of the winger commentary here, by people apparently too stupid to figure out that Obama's plan ISN'T JUST FOR BLACK PEOPLE ... (sigh. Are there any smart people over there on the right???) The original article can be found here.

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posted by JReid @ 2:27 PM  
Down, down down
The Dow keeps plummeting, (below 8,000 -- losing nearly half its value this year...) along with the global markets. It's a crisis that it seems no entity, no agency of government can stop. General Motors' stock fell below FIVE DOLLARS for the first time in 60 years. FIVE... Jesus... analysts are projecting that the big three U.S. auto makers cannot all survive. At least one will go away completely, or be absorbed by another company... President Bush is making noises about doing something, but honestly, events have overtaken him, and everybody else... World finance chefs are holding an emergency meeting. Good luck with that.

BTW one astute blogger posted a chart plotting McCain's poll numbers against the S&P 500.

Fascinating. Clearly, this guy is going to need more than Bill Ayers to get back into the race. Or not:
As Pollster’s Steve Lombardo says, “The economic situation has virtually ended John McCain’s presidential aspirations and no amount of tactical maneuvering in the final 29 days is likely to change that equation.”
Meanwhile, Barack Obama slams McCain for "stoking anger and division" at a time like this ... Italy's Silvio Berlusconi walks back from his suggestion that world markets simply be closed.

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posted by JReid @ 1:54 PM  
Can the McCain campaign reign in the mobs?


Anger and frustration, even rage, have become the prevailing emotions at rallies for Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin (not to mention their latest ads.) That's the storyline almost anywhere you look. And it's not a good look for a campaign that at this stage, has to bank on swing voters not being completely turned off by the spectacle of angry, vicious mobs hurling epithets at Barack Obama. From Politico sums it up:
The raw emotions worry some in the party who believe the broader swath of swing voters are far more focused on their dwindling retirement accounts than on Obama’s background and associations and will be turned off by footage of the McCain events.

John Weaver, McCain’s former top strategist, said top Republicans have a responsibility to temper this behavior.

“People need to understand, for moral reasons and the protection of our civil society, the differences with Sen. Obama are ideological, based on clear differences on policy and a lack of experience compared to Sen. McCain,” Weaver said. “And from a purely practical political vantage point, please find me a swing voter, an undecided independent, or a torn female voter that finds an angry mob mentality attractive.”

“Sen. Obama is a classic liberal with an outdated economic agenda. We should take that agenda on in a robust manner. As a party we should not and must not stand by as the small amount of haters in our society question whether he is as American as the rest of us. Shame on them and shame on us if we allow this to take hold.”

But, if it were up to them, such hard-edged tactics are clearly what many in the party base would like to use against Obama.
The anger is spilling over at campaign events such as the one in Waukesha, Wisconsin, where the now infamous "angry man" held forth:
“It's time that you two are representing us, and we are mad,” reiterated the boisterous Republican at McCain’s town hall in Wisconsin Thursday. “So go get 'em!”

"I am begging you, sir, I am begging you — take it to him," pleaded James T. Harris, a local talk radio host at the same event, earning an extended standing ovation.

“Yosemite Sam is having the law laid down to him today in Waukesha, Wis.,” quipped Limbaugh on his show Thursday, referring to the GOP nominee. “This guy, this audience member, is exactly right,” the conservative talk show host said of the first individual.
The problem for Team McCain is that their current strategy only works with the base, which is shrinking, while the spectacle of shrieking, angry ralliers turns off key voting blocks, including suburban swing voters and Hispanics, or even conservative blacks (immigrants in particular) who can't possibly feel comfortable aligning themselves with what looks like a party driven in part by racial fears and animus. With Republican party identification declining, you can't win a national election with lower middle class whites alone (and even if you can pull it off this year, that strategy is clearly, demographicaly, a long term loser.)

Meanwhile, sane conservatives are weighing in:

Columnist Kathleen Parker says, "call off the pit bull":

... Neither McCain nor Palin would dare mention Obama's middle name, Hussein, but they can play up Obama's past associations and let others connect the dots. Terrorist. Muslim. Dangerous. Other.

It is legitimate to question character and dubious associations -- and William Ayers is certifiably dubious. The truth is, Obama should have avoided Ayers, and his denouncement of Wright was tardy. But this is a dangerous game.

The McCain campaign knows that Obama isn't a Muslim or a terrorist, but they're willing to help a certain kind of voter think he is. Just the way certain South Carolinians in 2000 were allowed to think that McCain's adopted daughter from Bangladesh was his illegitimate black child.

But words can have more serious consequences than lost votes and we've already had a glimpse of the Palin effect.

The Post's Dana Milbank reported that media representatives in Clearwater were greeted with taunts, thunder sticks and profanity. One Palin supporter shouted an epithet at an African-American soundman and said, "Sit down, boy."

McCain may want to call off his pit bull before this war escalates.

Former Michigan Gov. Roger Milliken (who endorsed McCain during the primary):

"He is not the McCain I endorsed," said Milliken, reached at his Traverse City home Thursday. "He keeps saying, 'Who is Barack Obama?' I would ask the question, 'Who is John McCain?' because his campaign has become rather disappointing to me.

"I'm disappointed in the tenor and the personal attacks on the part of the McCain campaign, when he ought to be talking about the issues."

Milliken, a lifelong Republican, is among some past leaders from the party's moderate wing voicing reservations and, in some cases, opposition to McCain's candidacy.
Those include former Republican Sen. Lincoln Chaffee, who comes from an old GOP family and whose father was Yale classmate of George W. Bush's father:

McCain campaigned for Chafee's unsuccessful re-election bid in 2006, but Chafee said he is concerned McCain has swung to the right, a divisive strategy that could make it difficult for him to govern.

"That's not my kind of Republicanism," said Chafee, who now calls himself an independent. "I saw what Bush and Cheney did. They came in with a (budget) surplus and a stable world, and look what's happened now. In eight short years they've taken one peaceful and prosperous world, and they've torn it into tatters."

As for McCain's choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for his running mate, "there's no question she's totally unqualified," Chafee said.

Bob Eleveld:

Bob Eleveld is a former Kent County Republican chairman who led McCain's West Michigan campaign in 2000. This year, he has remained mum unless asked.

"I'm not supporting either of them at this point," he said. "Suffice it to say there are a number of people who have been strong Republicans in the past, including party chairs, who feel as I do."

He declined to name them.

In the past, McCain was more of a moderate known for his straight talk, Eleveld said.

"I think the straight talk is gone," he said, describing himself as a member of the party's moderate wing. "I think he's pandering to the Christian right. That's some straight talk from me."

David Frum (who is still voting for McCain):

American voters are staggering under the worst financial crisis since at least 1982. Asset values are tumbling, consumer spending is contracting, and a recession is visibly on the way. This crisis follows upon seven years in which middle-class incomes have stagnated and Republican economic management has been badly tarnished. Anybody who imagines that an election can be won under these circumstances by banging on about William Ayers and Jeremiah Wright is … to put it mildly … severely under-estimating the electoral importance of pocketbook issues.

We conservatives are sending a powerful, inadvertent message with this negative campaign against Barack Obama's associations and former associations: that we lack a positive agenda of our own and that we don’t care about the economic issues that are worrying American voters.

... and he adds this:

Those who press this Ayers line of attack are whipping Republicans and conservatives into a fury that is going to be very hard to calm after November. Is it really wise to send conservatives into opposition in a mood of disdain and fury for a man who may well be the next president of the United States, incidentally the first African-American president? Anger is a very bad political adviser. It can isolate us and push us to the extremes at exactly the moment when we ought to be rebuilding, rethinking, regrouping and recruiting.

I’m not suggesting that we remit our opposition to a hypothetical President Obama. Only that an outgunned party will need to stay cool. A big part of Obama’s appeal is his self-command. It’s a genuinely impressive quality. Let’s emulate it. We’ll be needing it.

David Gergen:

"One of the most striking things we've seen in the last few day, we have seen it at the Palin rallies and we saw it at the McCain rally today," said David Gergen, appearing on Anderson Cooper 360 Thursday evening. "And we saw it to a considerable degree during the rescue package legislation. There is a free-floating sort of whipping-around anger that could really lead to some violence. And I think we're not far from that."

Gergen's remark came hours after John McCain and Sarah Palin held a rally in Wisconsin that saw attendees pleading with them to go on the attack against Barack Obama over his past associations and "socialistic" behavior. Earlier in the week crowd members at other McCain-Palin events have screamed out that Obama is a terrorist, has committed treason, and should be killed.

"I really worry when we get people -- when you get the kind of rhetoric that you're getting at these rallies now," said Gergen. "I think it's really imperative the candidates try to calm people down."

Christopher Buckley (son of William F.) speaking about the hate directed back at conservative intellectuals on behalf of McCain-Palin, and announcing that he's endorsing Obama:
My colleague, the superb and very dishy Kathleen Parker, recently wrote in National Review Online a column stating what John Cleese as Basil Fawlty would call “the bleeding obvious”: namely, that Sarah Palin is an embarrassment, and a dangerous one at that. She’s not exactly alone. New York Times columnist David Brooks, who began his career at NR, just called Governor Palin “a cancer on the Republican Party.”

As for Kathleen, she has to date received 12,000 (quite literally) foam-at-the-mouth hate-emails. One correspondent, if that’s quite the right word, suggested that Kathleen’s mother should have aborted her and tossed the fetus into a Dumpster. There’s Socratic dialogue for you. Dear Pup once said to me sighfully after a right-winger who fancied himself a WFB protégé had said something transcendently and provocatively cretinous, “You know, I’ve spent my entire life time separating the Right from the kooks.” Well, the dear man did his best. At any rate, I don’t have the kidney at the moment for 12,000 emails saying how good it is he’s no longer alive to see his Judas of a son endorse for the presidency a covert Muslim who pals around with the Weather Underground. So, you’re reading it here first.

Then there are the once-McCian-friendly members of the media, including Atlantic's Ta-Nehesi Coates:
The saddest thing about many Republicans isn't just that they disagree with liberals on race--it's they are largely ignorant on race. When the McCain campaign cast the spell of diabolical jingoism, they have no idea of the forces they are toying with. We remember Martin Luther King's murder as a sad and tragic event. Less remembered is the fact that ground-work for King's murder was seeded, not simply by rank white supremacy, but by people who slandered King as a communist.

This was not some notion bandied about by conspiracy theorist, but an accusation proffered by men who were the pillars of the modern Republican Party:
As late as 1964, Falwell was attacking the 1964 Civil Rights Act as "civil wrongs" legislation. He questioned "the sincerity and intentions of some civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., James Farmer, and others, who are known to have left-wing associations." Falwell charged, "It is very obvious that the Communists, as they do in all parts of the world, are taking advantage of a tense situation in our land, and are exploiting every incident to bring about violence and bloodshed."
Falwell was not alone. These men didn't kill Martin Luther King, but they contributed to an atmosphere of nationalism, white supremacy and cheap unreflective patriotism that ultimately got a lot of people killed. Confronted with Aparthied South Africa, men like Helms and Falwell used the same "communist" defense. While Mandella wasted away in prison, they dismissed the whole thing as a communist plot.

Let me be clear--This is the ghost that McCain Campaign is summoning. This is the Ring Of Power that they want to wield. The Muslim charge, the "Hussein" thing is nothing more than today's red-baiting, and it is what it was then--a cover for racists.
And Joe Klein:

But seriously, folks, I'm beginning to worry about the level of craziness on the Republican side, the over-the-top, stampede-the-crowd statements by everyone from McCain on down, the vehemence of the crowds that McCain and Palin are drawing with people shouting "Kill him" and "He's a terrorist" and "Off with his head."

Watch the tape of the guy screaming, "He's a terrorist!" McCain seems to shudder at that, he rolls his eyes... and I thought for a moment he'd admonish the man. But he didn't. And now he's selling the Ayres non-story full-time. Yes, yes, it's all he has. True enough: he no longer has his honor. But we are on the edge of some real serious craziness here and it would be nice if McCain did the right thing and told his more bloodthirsty supporters to go home and take a cold shower. But McCain hasn't done the right thing all year. His campaign is appalling, as the New York Times editorial board said today--and more, it is a national disgrace.

Well said. John McCain must now decide: he can dive in further into the muck and become a political Michael Savage, or he can try to salvage some shred of the integrity that he has mostly shredded during this most inglorious campaign.

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posted by JReid @ 1:05 PM  
Who was that black guy at the McCain rally?
It's so unusual to see a black person at the McCain-Palin rallies (I suspect it might even be a little dangerous to show up to some of the Palin ones, without clear identification proving you're a Republican...) that it caught many people's attention when an African-American man stood up at the John McCain rally in Waukesha, Wisconsin yesterday, declared he'd taken an "ass whooping" for supporting McCain (RawStory has the video) and "begged" him to get down even further into the gutter with his campaign. As reported in the WaPo:
"It is absolutely vital that you take it to Obama, that you hit him where it hits, there's a soft spot," said James T. Harris, a local radio talk show host, who urged the Republican nominee to use Barack Obama's controversial former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., and others against him.

"We have the good Reverend Wright. We have [the Rev. Michael L.] Pfleger. We have all of these shady characters that have surrounded him," Harris bellowed. "We have corruption here in Wisconsin and voting across the nation. I am begging you, sir. I am begging you. Take it to him."

The crowd of thousands roared its approval.
He could only have scored better if he'd ended with "drill baby, drill..."

UPDATE: Here's the video:



So who is Harris (besides the latest contestant to try and steal away Clarence Thomas' "world's most hated black man by other black people" title? According to his WTMJ AM 620 station bio:
James began his career as a professional educator teaching high school history at Brown Deer High School. Throughout his career he has pursued global travel, visiting Western and Eastern Europe, India and West Africa, where he immersed himself in a multitude of diverse cultural systems in order to better understand the culture of his hometown of Milwaukee. Long before getting an opportunity to host his own show, he was known to many WTMJ listeners as the caller named James from Sherman Park.
He also has his own website and blog. Here are some of this thoughts, from just after Tuesday night's debate:
I don't know what else to say. If I were undecided, there was nothing in last night's debate that would flip me to one side or the other. But I'm not an undecided... I have convictions. I can think, reason and discern. It seems to me that in order to appeal to the undecided, one should present a strong ideology.

Moderate Conservatism vs. Socialist Liberalism.

Sigh.

OK... Let's try fear!

I fear socialism. I fear liberalism. I fear a Barack Obama Presidency.

One way or another, things are about to really change. The fate of the free world lies with 20% of Americans who have no convictions.

That's frightening!

Yes, my man. Frightening.

You know, my radio mentor's name is James T, also. Thank God he's sane, and not running around begging John McCain to dive deeper into the gutter. Not saying Mr. Harris doesn't have a right to his own politics ... just that he should be sure to wear his McCain T-shirt if he goes to any more rallies ... best way not to be told to "sit down, boy!" (ahem...)

BTW, if you've seen the "angry man" video, did you notice that McCain seems deeply uncomfortable with the campaign he's running, and the crowd he's in? He answers the "angry man" with an oddly juxtaposed call to "act together as one nation, indivisible..." not what the crowd wanted to hear. Just an observation... Watch for yourself:


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posted by JReid @ 1:10 AM  
Guilt by association? You betcha!
Stop the ACLU leads the right wing charge against Newsweek for ... putting Sarah Palin on the cover without soft lighting (and for Jonathan Meacham's cover story) ... and then commits an illuminating act of truthiness:
Newsweek’s Jon Meacham thinks that Governor Sarah Palin is too much a commoner and too stupid to be allowed to become vice president of the United States of America and apparently his employer agrees with him. The October 13 cover of Newsweek features a close up photo of the Governor with the headline “She’s One of the Folks (And that’s the problem),” and Meacham writes the accompanying cover story. Be clear about what this means: This is a direct attack on Mr. and Mrs. America. We are all too stupid to be president in the elite opinion of Jon Meacham and Newsweek magazine.
Yep. that about sums it up. Most "regular folks" (and just about everybody at Stop the ACLU...) ARE too stupid to be president. We should start electing smarter applicants. STAT. (STACLU won't be liking this gal either, nope, you betcha not!)

The gubernatorial superstar did appear at one of those big ole rallies in Ohio today, where she kinda forgot to mention that the Dow Jones plunged below 9,000 for the first time in years, but she did bring up Bill Ayers, doncha know!

Meanwhile, the TrooperGate probe is back in business following a ruling by the Alaska Supreme Court, with a report on John McCain's little Sancho Panza's nasty little vendetta due to drop tomorrow (which at this point, has become today...) And we're finding out a little bit more about Todd Palin's role, not just as "First Dude," but apparently, also as Alaska's unofficial personnel manager:

Todd Palin campaigned for years to get state trooper Mike Wooten fired, he told the Alaska Legislature's "Troopergate" investigator, in a 25-page response to a list of questions.

Palin provided his answers to special counsel Stephen Branchflower yesterday, according to news accounts and sources familiar with the probe. Palin's lawyer and the McCain-Palin campaign made the document available to reporters that evening, a move condemned by State Senate officials.

"The McCain campaign should not be releasing these documents to you," said Alaska Senate President Lyda Green, R-Wasilla, after learning the camp had offered the document to a reporter, under condition of anonymity. "This is a confidential report," she said. "The campaign should have nothing to do with this."

Silly Alaska guy. The campaign has got something to do with EVERYTHING... (country first!)

Over at the WaPo, we learn about the $31,000 public relations campaign that spawned America's toooootally organic superstar... (who apparently brings out the angry, crazy person in everyone at her and her sidekick's rallies.)

Mother Jones asks: what do Sarah Palin, Ahmad Chalabi and the NRA have in common? Randy Scheunemann! And the magazine totals up the guvnah's many, many years months days hours of foreign policy experience.

Finally, I think we can all agree that it's high time the media began taking a serious look at the nefarious associations of one of the candidates vying to lead this country, because those associations are pretty gall-darned disturbing...

PALMER, Alaska — | On the afternoon of Sept. 24 in downtown Palmer, Alaska, as the sun began to sink behind the snowcapped mountains that flank the picturesque Mat-Su Valley, 51-year-old Mark Chryson sat for an hour on a park bench, reveling in tales of his days as chairman of the Alaska Independence Party. The stocky, gray-haired computer technician waxed nostalgic about quixotic battles to eliminate taxes, support the “traditional family” and secede from the United States.

So long as Alaska remained under the boot of the federal government, said Chryson, the AIP had to stand on guard to stymie a New World Order. He invited a Salon reporter to see a few items inside his pickup truck that were intended for his personal protection. “This here is my attack dog,” he said with a chuckle, handing the reporter an exuberant 8-pound papillon from his passenger seat. “Her name is Suzy.” Then he pulled a 9-millimeter Makarov PM pistol — once the standard-issue sidearm for Soviet cops — out of his glove compartment. “I’ve got enough weaponry to raise a small army in my basement,” he said, clutching the gun in his palm. “Then again, so do most Alaskans.” But Chryson added a message of reassurance to residents of that faraway place some Alaskans call “the 48.” “We want to go our separate ways,” he said, “but we are not going to kill you.”

Though Chryson belongs to a fringe political party, one that advocates the secession of Alaska from the Union, and that organizes with other like-minded secessionist movements from Canada to the Deep South, he is not without peculiar influence in state politics, especially the rise of Sarah Palin.

Sarah Palin!!!??? Heeeey, wait a minute...

An obscure figure outside of Alaska, Chryson has been a political fixture in the hometown of the Republican vice-presidential nominee for over a decade. During the 1990s, when Chryson directed the AIP, he and another radical right-winger, Steve Stoll, played a quiet but pivotal role in electing Palin as mayor of Wasilla and shaping her political agenda afterward. Both Stoll and Chryson not only contributed to Palin’s campaign financially, they played major behind-the-scenes roles in the Palin camp before, during and after her victory.

Well, at least we don't have to worry about John McCain's associations ...

McCain associated with Bitburg defenders

Jewish Telegraphic Agency

John McCain was associated with a far-right group that derided opponents of President Reagan's visit to a Nazi cemetery.

Senator McCain (R-Ariz.), the Republican presidential candidate, joined the U.S. Council for World Freedom's board around the time he was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982.

At the time, the group was distancing itself from the former Nazis and fascists who made up the international group with which it was affiliated, the World Anti-Communist League. McCain's endorsement was a boon to the council, reportedly cited in a 1981 Anti-Defamation League report because of those international ties.

McCain first sought to distance himself from the group in 1984, when the council was named as involved in efforts to support the Contras, the right-wing militias in Nicaragua, The Associated Press said in a report Tuesday. The McCain campaign supplied the AP with a letter he wrote that year resigning his position, but the group apparently did not take note.

It was later revealed that the council was acting as a front for the CIA in Nicaragua, and in 1986, McCain again asked the group to remove his name from its letterhead, and this time it complied, the AP reported. In the interim, however, McCain attended the group's Freedom Fighter of the Year award ceremony in October 1985.

A few months earlier, the group's newsletter had derided opponents of Reagan's decision to mark 40 years since the end of World War II with a visit to Bitburg, a German cemetery that includes the graves of members of Hitler's notorious SS death squads. Jewish groups led the opposition to the visit.

Uh oh... I smell karma...

It has been discovered that McCain may have some connections of his own. In today’s article on the TIME Magazine website, it is revealed that McCain served on the advisory board of the US Council for World Freedom. This group has been linked to Central American death squads that leaned to the far right.

This group was stripped of its nonprofit tax exemption by the IRS. This was due to the group aiding rebels that wanted to take down Nicaragua’s leftist government. Keep in mind, McCain served on the advisory board during the 1980s.

This group was the US arm of the World Anti-Communist League. And yes, this was still during the Cold War. It was the battle between Capitalism and Communism. The US Council for World Freedom was founded by John Singlaub, a retired Army Major General.

It is also revealed that this group is also linked with Nazi collaborators.
The TIME article is here.

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posted by JReid @ 12:50 AM  
Support spy on the troops!
It shouldn't come as a surprise that the U.S. eavesdropped on American citizens. You know that by now, I'm sure. It might, however, be surprising to you that we spied on our own troops, in their most private moments, and then our troop supporting intelligence services stored the ill-gotten recordings on their computers like iTunes. Brian Ross reports:
Despite pledges by President George W. Bush and American intelligence officials to the contrary, hundreds of US citizens overseas have been eavesdropped on as they called friends and family back home, according to two former military intercept operators who worked at the giant National Security Agency (NSA) center in Fort Gordon, Georgia.

... "These were just really everyday, average, ordinary Americans who happened to be in the Middle East, in our area of intercept and happened to be making these phone calls on satellite phones," said Adrienne Kinne, a 31-year old US Army Reserves Arab linguist assigned to a special military program at the NSA's Back Hall at Fort Gordon from November 2001 to 2003.

Kinne described the contents of the calls as "personal, private things with Americans who are not in any way, shape or form associated with anything to do with terrorism."

She said US military officers, American journalists and American aid workers were routinely intercepted and "collected on" as they called their offices or homes in the United States.

Another intercept operator, former Navy Arab linguist, David Murfee Faulk, 39, said he and his fellow intercept operators listened into hundreds of Americans picked up using phones in Baghdad's Green Zone from late 2003 to November 2007.

"Calling home to the United States, talking to their spouses, sometimes their girlfriends, sometimes one phone call following another," said Faulk.

So ... what'd they hear?

Faulk says he and others in his section of the NSA facility at Fort Gordon routinely shared salacious or tantalizing phone calls that had been intercepted, alerting office mates to certain time codes of "cuts" that were available on each operator's computer.

"Hey, check this out," Faulk says he would be told, "there's good phone sex or there's some pillow talk, pull up this call, it's really funny, go check it out. It would be some colonel making pillow talk and we would say, 'Wow, this was crazy'," Faulk told ABC News.

Faulk said he joined in to listen, and talk about it during breaks in Back Hall's "smoke pit," but ended up feeling badly about his actions.

"I feel that it was something that the people should not have done. Including me," he said.

Feel any safer yet?



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posted by JReid @ 12:17 AM  
States say, we're not purging ... they're our brothers!
The states named by the New York Times deny they're purging voters.

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posted by JReid @ 12:09 AM  
Thursday, October 09, 2008
8,600
The Dow got hammered again today. Nothing the Fed or the feds are doing is working... and with credit in seizure, J.D. Powers fears the global automobile market may completely implode by next year. So what's the problem? This from a good old fashioned conservative:
"The crisis we are entering is not due to a lack of credit. The core of the problem was our dependency on credit in the first place. A lack of credit is a symptom of our dependency on it. It is a crisis of Consumer Capitalism, the idea that Consumption can be the major source of growth in an economy. We must somehow transition to Producer Capitalism again. We have an entire economy, almost worldwide, based upon debt and consumption. It could not last because over time every dollar of debt created creates less and less GDP growth in the economy. Therefore, more and more debt must be created just to keep the same rate of economic growth. We are now literally consuming our economy to its death. The efforts to "get liquidity going" and the like, while maybe easing conditions in the very short term, weeks, are only going to make the collapse greater. It is simply adding more kindling to the bonfire of debt that is already raging."

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posted by JReid @ 5:38 PM  
John McCain did offend the brother from the town hall
Politico reports that one of the "undecided voters" at Tuesday's town hall found John McCain's answer condescending...

McCain's rough "town hall" debate just got a bit worse, as one questioner writes about the experience on his Facebook page of hearing a fairly standard McCain line:

How did I feel about Sen. McCain stating “You probably never heard of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac before this"[?]

Well Senator, I actually did. I like to think of myself as a fairly intelligent person. I have a bachelor degree in Political Science from Tennessee State, so I try to keep myself up to date with current affairs. I have a Master degree in Legal Studies from Southern Illinois University, a few years in law school, and I am currently pursuing a Master in Public Administration from the University of Memphis. In defense of the Senator from Arizona I would say he is an older guy, and may have made an underestimation of my age. Honest mistake.

However, it could be because I am a young African-American male. Whatever the case may be it was somewhat condescending regardless of my age to make an assumption regarding whether I was knowledgeable about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
And turns out he wasn't all that undecided. He had told the producers he would probably vote for Obama, but that "anything could happen."

Here's video of the young man, whose name is Oliver, asking his question:



And Daily Kos has more of his thoughts.

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posted by JReid @ 5:28 PM  
Thanks, but no thanks, to Uncle Sam buying the mortgage
A lot of people on the right are howling mad about John McCain's $300 billion housing buy-up idea, which he tossed into the ring during Tuesday's debate (his latest "razzle-dazzle.") And while I'm loathe to agree with the likes of Michelle Malkin on ANYTHING, she and her kind are right about one thing: you don't want the federal government getting involved in your mortgage. In fact, if you're facing foreclosure, and Uncle Sam offers to buy up your loan, slam the door, pack your grip, and let the sheriff come on and get the keys. Then wait ten years, rebuild your credit and start over. You'd be better off.

Why?

Think about your federal student loans. They follow you for the rest of your life (until you pay them off.) You can't even use bankruptcy to escape them (just to delay them a bit.) And if you don't pay up, the federal government can garnish your wages AND appropriate your income tax refund. You want the feds to have the same power to enforce a $300,000 mortgage note? Also, particularly in states like Florida, bankruptcy offers you not just a second chance, but also the protection of a judge, and the ability to remain in your home. Why would anybody in their right mind throw out that protection and place themselves at the mercy of the federal government? Also, under such a plan, if you sold your home, you'd have to hand over the proceeds from the sale to the Treasury Department, and probably pay a capital gains tax, too.

What's the point???

But enough from me. Here's the latest word from McCain's friends at Politico:
John McCain’s surprise policy offering Tuesday night to have the government buy bad mortgages is bold, sweeping and, well, a bit perplexing to nearly everyone.
From economic experts to political pundits, from liberals to conservatives, the proposal has been greeted with a collective sense of puzzlement that is raising questions not only about the substance of the plan, but of the seeming hastiness surrounding its rollout.

The few details available about McCain’s American Homeownership Resurgence Plan give the impression the plan is “half-baked,” according to Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

“If you’re launching a major new initiative, usually you blitz the cable networks and really try to penetrate the public consciousness. I didn’t see that today,” he said Wednesday.

“It would really frighten me if he actually thought this was good policy,” said Dan Mitchell, a senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute. “I assume that it’s nothing but a desperation ploy” to show they are doing something “big and bold,” he said.

“It seems hastily put together … given the lack of detail, specificity and overlap with existing programs,” added a Republican financial services lobbyist.

Indeed, McCain’s announcement was accompanied by a fact sheet that raised almost as many questions as it answered. The campaign did post and e-mail a background document Tuesday night following the debate describing the plan, but it lacked specifics about how the program would work, exactly who would be eligible and how many people would be helped.

... The McCain campaign said the plan did not change and they merely edited out “language [that] was mistakenly included in the initial draft.”

Nonetheless, with the sentence gone, the plan morphed into a shifting of $300 billion worth of losses to the taxpayers. It became clear Wednesday as the campaign talked about the plan that McCain is proposing that the Treasury purchase bad mortgages at face value even though sliding home prices mean many homes are worth far less than what the government would pay for original mortgages.

The plan is to retire the original mortgage and issue the homeowner a new, 30-year fixed-rate loan at interest rates just above 5 percent from the Federal Housing Administration. The shortfall between the new mortgage and the cost of the older, more expensive one would come from taxpayers.

The new detail caused many experts to question whether the $300 billion price tag is too low.

And while the McCain campaign pitched the plan as a fast-acting solution, some experts said that the administration of a homeowner-by-homeowner program would be extremely complicated — and therefore likely slow-moving — and much more cumbersome than dealing with larger institutions.

A campaign conference call with reporters Wednesday morning revealed that the campaign still doesn’t have all the details worked out.

When asked how many people the plan would help, McCain economic adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin responded that it could aid “literally millions” but they didn’t have a precise estimate. “The question is how many people are going to pick up the phone.”

Holtz-Eakin offered only broadest description of who would qualify for the refinancing program.

“They need to be in a position where they’re going to be unable to stay in the mortgage,” he told reporters, saying that includes a homeowner who is “underwater” in their mortgage — owing more than the home is currently worth — or facing a future rate reset that would make their payments unaffordable.

“We’re going to roll out the specific criteria. We’re trying to get sign-offs from the senator on all the details,” Holtz-Eakin told Politico in a later interview. ...
I guess they'll just have to get those details and bring 'em to ya!

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posted by JReid @ 4:56 PM  
Say it to my face
Barack Obama to ABC's Charlie Gibson (with no saucer-eyed stares or "you betchas!"):
"I am surprised that, you know, we've been seeing some pretty over-the-top attacks coming out of the McCain campaign over the last several days, that he wasn't willing to say it to my face. But I guess we've got one last debate. So presumably, if he ends up feeling that he needs to, he will raise it during the debate."


Here's the video:

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posted by JReid @ 4:03 PM  
She does more damage before nap time...
Courtesy of the Masters of Humility, meet Baby Sarah Palin: she's adorable (and staunchly conservative.)

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posted by JReid @ 2:13 PM  
The deep breath before the purge
A New York Times analysis finds a massive, multi-state voter purge going on, which may violate federal law...
Tens of thousands of eligible voters in at least six swing states have been removed from the rolls or have been blocked from registering in ways that appear to violate federal law, according to a review of state records and Social Security data by The New York Times.

The actions do not seem to be coordinated by one party or the other, nor do they appear to be the result of election officials intentionally breaking rules, but are apparently the result of mistakes in the handling of the registrations and voter files as the states tried to comply with a 2002 federal law, intended to overhaul the way elections are run.

Still, because Democrats have been more aggressive at registering new voters this year, according to state election officials, any heightened screening of new applications may affect their party’s supporters disproportionately. The screening and trimming of voter registration lists in the six states — Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Nevada and North Carolina — could also result in problems at the polls on Election Day: people who have been removed from the rolls are likely to show up only to be challenged by political party officials or election workers, resulting in confusion, long lines and heated tempers.

Some states allow such voters to cast provisional ballots. But they are often not counted because they require added verification.

Although much attention this year has been focused on the millions of new voters being added to the rolls by the candidacy of Senator Barack Obama, there has been far less notice given to the number of voters being dropped from those same rolls.

So what's behind this? The Orwellian "Help America Vote Act," pushed through by a Republican congress to satisfy the GOP's constant need to pretend there is massive voter fraud going on in Democratic strongholds -- a mania that was also behind the firing of U.S. attorneys unwilling to embark on Karl Rove inspired witch hunts.

The Times' article takes a while to get to Florida, where our Republican Secretary of State, Kurt Browning, is having the 67 supervisors of elections across the state enforce a 2006 law that sifts voter registrations through the Social Security database, as well as state driver's license records. Initially, there were at least 16,000 people who were stricken from the rolls due to our "no match, no vote," law, though most were restored after a court order last December. Now that the order has been set aside, the Sunshine State purge is back on, and we simply don't yet know how many will face problems on Election Day.

More from the Times' story:

The six states seem to be in violation of federal law in two ways. Some are removing voters from the rolls within 90 days of a federal election, which is not allowed except when voters die, notify the authorities that they have moved out of state, or have been declared unfit to vote.

Some of the states are improperly using Social Security data to verify registration applications for new voters.

In addition to the six swing states, three more states appear to be violating federal law. Alabama and Georgia seem to be improperly using Social Security information to screen registration applications from new voters. And Louisiana appears to have removed thousands of voters after the federal deadline for taking such action.

Under federal law, election officials are supposed to use the Social Security database to check a registration application only as a last resort, if no record of the applicant is found on state databases, like those for driver’s licenses or identification cards.

The requirement exists because using the federal database is less reliable than the state lists, and is more likely to incorrectly flag applications as invalid. Many state officials seem to be using the Social Security lists first.

In the year ending Sept. 30, election officials in Nevada, for example, used the Social Security database more than 740,000 times to check voter files or registration applications and found more than 715,000 nonmatches, federal records show. Election officials in Georgia ran more than 1.9 million checks on voter files or voter registration applications and found more than 260,000 nonmatches.

Officials of the Social Security Administration, presented with those numbers, said they were far too high to be cases where names were not in state databases. They said the data seem to represent a violation of federal law and the contract the states signed with the agency to use the database.

Greg Palast was on with Stephanie Miller this morning talking about his and Robert Kennedy Jr.'s new comic handbook, "Steal Back Your Vote." Download it and use it -- take it with you to the polls. And if you're in Florida, where I am: VOTE EARLY. Using early vote is the best way to find out if you have a problem, while giving yourself time to fix it, rather than being pushed to vote on a provisional ballot on November 4th, which has less chance of being counted.


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posted by JReid @ 12:06 AM  
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Why America hates journalists
I have no doubt that CBS News' Dean Reynolds put down his very real feelings in this "reporter's notebook" posted on the broadcaster's website. But damn, does anybody except Dean Reynolds really give a crap about how the well-paid network reporters covering the presidential candidates are managed? Covering the presidential campaign is a plum assignment, especially this year, and you're beeyatching about Obama's plane not being Febreezed, or the events not being "choreographed" for the convenience of the media? Dude, are you serious?

I've covered some Obama events here in South Florida (for much smaller outlets than CBS), and yes, there's hellafide security and lots of ground rules, ridiculously early press call times and the occasional inconvenient positioning ... but guess what? Barack Obama is a black guy (and the first to lead a major ticket) who's being called a terrorist sympathizer by his opponent's campaign and threatened by angry wingers who want to "kill him" because they think he's a Muslim Manchurian Candidate so they can present the spoils to their Alaskan snow queen! Can you say, "Secret Service"??? Besides, you're complaining that you and other media types had to wait around in Miami, while people are freezing their asses off in cold parts of the country because they can't afford their heating bills. Hold a sec while I break out my violin.

Mr. Reynolds, you're being paid, I'm assuming, six figures to fly around the country for free, and be a witness to history. If it makes you happy that McCain's press team wipes your nose better and gives you the warm fuzzies, I suppose I'm happy for you. Other than that: Get a life. There's a recession going on and the rest of the ... well, world ... has a lot more important things going on.

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posted by JReid @ 11:37 PM  
D is for 'didn't do much for veterans'
The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) is out with its 2008 Congressional Report Card, and the news for our most prominent veteran at the moment, John Sydney McCain III, isn't good. McCain gets a "D" from the IAVA. That would be the letter immediately after the letter "C," which, incidently, is what Mac's fellow Arizona Sen. John Kyl got.

The scoring was based on the Senators' votes on a number of bills important to veterans, including:
  1. A 2007 bill funding veterans' healthcare
  2. A March 2007 bill funding so-called MRAPS ("mine resistent ambush protected" vehicles for use in Iraq and Afghanistan
  3. A 2008 vets' healthcare funding bill
  4. October 2007 legislation added to the National Defense Authorization Act that expanded veterans' opportunities to seek VA healthcare and for Guardsmen and Reservists to keep education benefits after separating from the military.
  5. An April 2008 bill to improve so-called "adaptive housing" for disabled veterans
  6. A move in may of this year to stop the second rate G.I. bill being pushed by Miss Lindsey Graham to try and kill Jim Webb's stronger benefits bill
  7. The "Post 9/11 G.I. Bill" improving veterans' education benefits
  8. The second vote on the G.I. Bill that passed with an emergency supplemental for Iraq war funding in June of this year
  9. And the final phase of passage of the 21st Century G.I. Bill (Webb version, which McCain opposed.)
McCain declined to become a co-sponsor of the Webb G.I. Bill, despite entreaties from friends of his in the Senate including Chuck Hagel. His low score also stems from the fact that he was absent for 6 of the 9 votes. (Kyle was there every time, but he voted against veterans benefits four out of nine times, including against the enhanced G.I. Bill).

As for Barack Obama? He receied a "B" from the IAVA. The Illinois Senator signed on as a co-sponsor of the G.I. Bill, and voted with veterans all but the four times he was absent from the chamber.

To download the IAVA report card, click here.

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posted by JReid @ 11:16 PM  
Petition calls for reprimand of Sheriff Scott
The petitioners say the following:
On Monday, October 6,2008 Lee County Sheriff, Mike Scott in full uniform, spoke at a political rally for the McCain-Palin presidential campaign. He spoke of Barack Obama, calling him "Barack Hussein Obama". This was a blatant attempt to conjure images of Islamic extremism and the rally attendees took it as such. They began to cheer after the word "Hussein" and before the Sheriff had made his point. It was the name, and its connotations, they were cheering.

Sheriff Scott has said that he will not apologize and if Obama doesn't like being called Hussein, "Perhaps he should have changed his name." I would like to point out that the Sheriff's middle name was not used when he was introduced. Sarah Palin's middle name was not used when the Sheriff introduced her just moments after he referenced the Senator by his full name. This is clearly an attempt to make a racially charged assertion about who Barack Obama is, based upon his name.

Associations like these, are not only inaccurate as Senator Obama is not a Muslim, but they are inappropriate because being a Muslim doesn't equate to being a terrorist. Suggesting otherwise is offensive to Muslims, and others living in the state of Florida. The Sheriff is a public official, whose salary is paid by the very citizens he offends with such a statement.

Central Florida is home to more than 25,000 practicing Muslims according to The Islamic Society of Central Florida and countless other religious and racial minority groups. It is unacceptable to have public officials who display their disdain for these groups so proudly.

We request that Sheriff Mike Scott be publicly reprimanded for his behavior and asked to issue a public apology.
So far they're at 75 signatures. The actual petition is here.

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posted by JReid @ 11:05 PM  
Classy Michelle Obama shines on 'Larry King Live'
Michelle Obama was as cool, calm and collected as her husband tonight on Larry King. And she and Larry were so matchy-matchy with the purple outfits! She was gracious to Hillary Clinton, and even to Sarah Palin and the newest John McCain female pit bull: his wife Cindy, who have been relentlessly attacking the Obamas. Honestly, I don't know if I could be that nice. Here it is:



I never cease to be impressed with how thoroughly the Obama's debunk, with just their personalities, the wild rumors and caricatures of them that are painted by the eye bulging, bile spitting right. They are a class act.

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posted by JReid @ 10:47 PM  
John McCain and his 'fellow prisoners'
John McCain, at a rally in Pennsylvania today, was transported, for a brief moment, back to the Hanoi Hilton. From RawStory:
"You and I together will confront the $10 trillion debt the federal government has run up and balance the federal budget by the end of my term in office," he said. "Across this country, this is the agenda I have set before my fellow prisoners and the same standards of clarity and candor must now be applied to my opponent."

Judging by McCain's pause, he expected that to be an applause line. Silence greeted him from the perplexed crowd.

Standing behind her father, Meghan McCain briefly furrows her brow, apparently recognizing the 72-year-old seantor's gaffe. Vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin also is flanking McCain on stage, but it is less clear whether she recognizes the mistake.

McCain makes no effort to correct his mistake, but he seemed flustered when the crowd didn't erupt at the line. Glancing down at his prepared text, McCain charged on through to the next line in his speech.

Here's the video:



Yikes!

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posted by JReid @ 4:33 PM  
Sheriff Scott flops around in the frying pan
Sheriff Mike Scott gave an interview to the Lehigh Acres News Star in Fort Myers and issued a statement on what will heretofore be known as "Namegate." First, a clip from the statement:
• Everyone seems to agree on the underlying issue…my mention of a Presidential candidate’s full, legal name of record. There were no accusations, innuendos, untruths, or malicious words before or after the candidate’s name; although many others have made inflammatory statements about the candidate’s character, etc. I did not change my tone or otherwise punctuate or repeat the name with any verbal or physical emphasis.

• “Why” did I use the Candidate’s full, legal name of record? Despite varying inferences, interpretations, opinions, and extrapolations; the answer is because I wanted to, much like I wanted to voice my support for the Barron Collier Marching Band.

• The issue of my status as an elected official participating in a political rally has been raised along with the suggestion that this somehow clouds my representation of all constituents. I have not heard similar concern over the many other elected officials that day and everyday engaging in the same activities across our state and country. For example – Governor Crist is the Governor of all Florida’s people and his support of the Republican ticket in no way implies diminished concern for anyone opposing his political choice. Likewise, my political choices against the backdrop of my proven record of service, in no way suggest diminished concern for any individual or group.

• The issue of my appearance at the rally in uniform has been raised. It is noteworthy that I recently completed my primary campaign and continue my general campaign in the same uniform. My practice has been to wear the uniform at all times and as is undisputed, I am on duty 24/7 and 365. It is also noteworthy that I joined my fellow Florida Sheriffs in Tampa very recently for a political rally…all were in full uniform. At no time during this week’s rally did I mention the agency I represent; however, I was introduced by my official title. Given the introduction and my widespread name and face recognition in this area, I am satisfied that my apparel is irrelevant and the same reactions would have resulted had I been wearing a suit and tie.
Now, about that uniform you say you wear "at all times...." when you say "at all times," do you mean "ALL times, all times? Or just at "sometimes" all times...

Mike Scott (second from the right) at an event last summer, sanz uniform...

In the statement, Scott also goes after the local NAACP for criticizing him, saying:
... The strong support these groups have always provided me is rooted in my tireless efforts to work equally hard for all of Lee County. I delivered the Dunbar Community Policing Office and shocked business owners along MLK Jr. Blvd. by regularly stopping in to say hello during my first term as Sheriff. If their support is so shallow as to wane over one (1) word that was legal, accurate, and void of supporting malice beyond dispute, then I will respectfully move on without their political support and without change to my loyalty to them or their constituents.
Well, I mean he did come by and visit...

Scott says he expects to be fully cleared on the Hatch Act charges, and that he won't be making any further public statements. Except for in this intervew, as recounted by columnist Sam Cook, in which Scott appears to leave his body, where the reason and logic purportedly reside...

"I answered a lot of e-mails and signed my middle name (Joseph) on all of them,'' says Scott, 45. "I don't see anything wrong with calling him Barack Hussein Obama.

"That is his name.'' ...

... Scott, in an interview Tuesday with news-press.com and The News-Press, says he doesn't comprehend the commotion his name-calling put in motion.

"I was told to speak three to four minutes and fire up the crowd,'' he says. "Help welcome her to Southwest Florida.

"That's pretty much what I did. I've watched that tape over and over. I don't see any malice. What I said was truthful and accurate. I did not say anything unethical, immoral or illegal.''

That's a matter of opinion.

If Scott didn't believe name-dropping "Hussein'' would create upheaval in Southwest Florida, he isn't the astute politician who captured 91 percent of the vote in Lee County's Republican primary victory last month.

Again, Scott says he won't back down from his comment.

"I'll never, ever, ever apologize,'' he says. "There is nothing in my mind to apologize for. I just can't do it. That's all. It's the principle of the thing.''

Politically speaking - even for a landslide winner - his remark was one dumb move.

Perhaps no one ever told the sheriff that throwing Barack Obama's middle name into a conversation is the most common tool that right wing talk radio hosts, bloggers and such use to deride the Senator as "foreign," an undercover Muslim, and even a friend of terrorists. (In fact, it was just done again less than two hours ago in Pennsylvania...) Maybe he's the one guy in America who despite being a Rudy Giuliani-loving Republican, who I'm assuming has at least heard of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and the like, or even listened to them from time to time, still doesn't know that. Assuming he is that dumb, or that naive, maybe next time, our man with the badge should simply use the names Sarah Louise Palin or to refer to John Sydney McCain III in public conversation, just to balance things out.

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posted by JReid @ 3:07 PM  
RADAR splains...
Why McCain called Barack Obama "that one."

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posted by JReid @ 12:44 PM  
Wingers begin burning down McCain's house plan
Michelle Malkin leads the stampede:
I can’t underscore enough what a rotten idea John McCain’s ACORN-like government mortgage buy-up is. I said it during my liveblog. And I’ll say it again: “HE WANTS TO EXPAND THE BAILOUT. He wants to do what ACORN wants to do. We’re Screwed ‘08.”

This was his supposed “game-changer.” This was the very first thing out of his mouth during the debate tonight — his big pitch right off the bat. The McCain campaign immediately sent out this fact sheet on the proposal, which will cost at least $300 billion. The proposal involves directing the Treasury Secretary to “purchase mortgages directly from homeowners and mortgage servicers.” That’s on top of the trillion-dollar crap sandwich (update - McCain says it would be included in the crap sandwich), the $85 billion to AIG, the $25 billion to automakers, the $200 billion in capital and credit lines to Fannie and Freddie, and who knows what else we’ll be forking over to California, Massachusetts, etc., etc., etc.

He spent the entire debate assailing massive government spending — while his featured proposal of the night was to heap on more massive government spending to pursue home ownership/retention at all costs. If Obama had proposed this, the Right would be screaming bloody murder about this socialist grab to have the Treasury Department renegotiate individual home loans and become chief principal write-down agents for the nation.

And the comments below her post are long and "not helpful."

Stephen Spruill at NRO:

McCain Proposes... What?

... didn't Congress just enact major legislation to address this problem? The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 created a federal mortgage-insurance program for lenders who agree to reduce mortgage payments for struggling borrowers.

How is McCain's plan different? I'll try to explain. Let's say you have a $200,000 adjustable-rate mortgage. Your home's value has declined, your interest rate has gone up and you can no longer afford to make the payments. Under current law, the government will guarantee your mortgage if your lender agrees to work out a deal with you.

Under McCain's plan, the Treasury Secretary would buy your mortgage from whoever owns it and then deal with you directly. In many cases, the Treasury Department would already own your mortgage, because it is about to buy up $700 billion worth of mortgage-backed securities. But under McCain's plan, Treasury would also become your loan servicer.

... If Treasury were also to become the loan servicer for hundreds of thousands of mortgages, it would have to outsource those duties, too. And those jobs would go to a lot of the same people who lowered their lending standards during the housing boom, put people in mortgages they couldn't afford and then sold those mortgages to Wall Street.

McCain's plan is redundant, and it would create significant new responsibilities (and costs) for an already-beleaguered agency. I'm not sure what the campaign was thinking.

Doesn't sound like McCain is bringing too many people (in his own party) together...

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posted by JReid @ 12:32 PM  
Secret Service probing 'kill him' remark
The Secret Service is now investigating the infamous "kill him!" remark hurled at a Sarah Palin rally here in Florida this week, which has so far been a crescendo of pretty scary crowd reactions to insinuations by Palin that Barack Obama -- who I might remind you is a sitting U.S. Senator, and one of those colleagues John McCain supposedly would "reach across the aisle" to work with as president -- is essentially a terrorist (or terrorist sympathier) -- allegations Joe Biden is calling "mildly dangerous" (to put it mildly.)

Apparently, agents at the rally site didn't hear the remark, but people in the crowd did, as Dana Milbank reported in the WaPo. Some people, myself included, are now warning McCain that his campaign is playing with fire, and possibly even endangering Obama's life. There are real nuts out there, some of whom are being whipped into a frenzy of racist and xenophobic hatred against Obama even before Sarah P started aligning him with terrorists. Remember those screwballs in Denver? Well even a screwball can change the world, as Lee Harvey Oswald proved in 1963.

Meanwhile, Andrew Sullivan puts it bluntly: "they know what they're doing."

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posted by JReid @ 12:06 PM  
A New York Times article Sarah Palin won't use in her stump speech
The Times' editorial board takes the McCain campaign to the woodshed:

It is a sorry fact of American political life that campaigns get ugly, often in their final weeks. But Senator John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin have been running one of the most appalling campaigns we can remember.

They have gone far beyond the usual fare of quotes taken out of context and distortions of an opponent’s record — into the dark territory of race-baiting and xenophobia. Senator Barack Obama has taken some cheap shots at Mr. McCain, but there is no comparison. ...

... Ms. Palin, in particular, revels in the attack. Her campaign rallies have become spectacles of anger and insult. “This is not a man who sees America as you see it and how I see America,” Ms. Palin has taken to saying.

That line follows passages in Ms. Palin’s new stump speech in which she twists Mr. Obama’s ill-advised but fleeting and long-past association with William Ayers, founder of the Weather Underground and confessed bomber. By the time she’s done, she implies that Mr. Obama is right now a close friend of Mr. Ayers — and sympathetic to the violent overthrow of the government. The Democrat, she says, “sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country.”

Her demagoguery has elicited some frightening, intolerable responses. A recent Washington Post report said at a rally in Florida this week a man yelled “kill him!” as Ms. Palin delivered that line and others shouted epithets at an African-American member of a TV crew.

Mr. McCain’s aides haven’t even tried to hide their cynical tactics, saying they were “going negative” in hopes of shifting attention away from the financial crisis — and by implication Mr. McCain’s stumbling response.

We certainly expected better from Mr. McCain, who once showed withering contempt for win-at-any-cost politics. He was driven out of the 2000 Republican primaries by this sort of smear, orchestrated by some of the same people who are now running his campaign.

And the tactic of guilt by association is perplexing, since Mr. McCain has his own list of political associates he would rather forget. ...

In a way, we should not be surprised that Mr. McCain has stooped so low, since the debate showed once again that he has little else to talk about. He long ago abandoned his signature issues of immigration reform and global warming; his talk of “victory” in Iraq has little to offer a war-weary nation; and his Reagan-inspired ideology of starving government and shredding regulation lies in tatters on Wall Street.

But surely, Mr. McCain and his team can come up with a better answer to that problem than inciting more division, anger and hatred.

No, as a matter of fact, they can't...

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posted by JReid @ 11:39 AM  
The disengenuous smear (that boomerangs)
The McCain campaign's dishonest, dangerous smear about Barack Obama "palling around with terrorists," (something John McCain didn't have the guts to say to Obama's face last night -- preferring instead to keep letting the girl do his dirty work...) is ridiculous on many levels, not least of which, the fact that Obama was eight years old with William Ayers was in the Weather Underground. Those of us who have sat on boards know how ludicrous it is to call fellow board members our "pals" -- usually, these are people you barely know. And as for fundraisers, I've been to many that were held in well off people's homes. I can personally attest that holding a fundraiser for a politician means you know enough people to raise the campaign's required minimum to get the candidate to show up -- it doesn't indicate a friendship with the pol.

But even if Obama was best friends with Ayers, it would be outrageous and mind-alteringly stupid to make an issue of it. Why? Because Obama's actual association with Ayers was on a board that had to do with helping Chicago kids. And there were good old fashioned Republicans palling around with Ayers, too. Courtesy of NPR by way of The Daily Kos:

Bill Ayers was a commonly acceptable figure in Chicago by everyone--Democrats, Independents, and even Republicans. Are they all America hating, terrorist loving traitors to America?!

First, Obama began working with Ayers and others (Republicans, Independents, and Democrats) at the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. Well, what is the Anneberg Challenge? Who is Annenberg? Well according to NPR,

The Obama campaign says he first met Ayers in 1995, when Obama became chair of the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a $50 million fund that awarded grants to groups trying to implement new programs to improve inner city education in Chicago.

Walter Annenberg, a lifelong Republican and former ambassador who was appointed by Presidents Nixon and Reagan, funded an ambitious program to reform urban education in many cities in the mid 1990s. Ayers was an important member of the group that developed and wrote the grant proposal to the Annenberg Foundation.

Second, there were people of all political persuasions working on this effort with this "terrorist" Ayers and who saw him as acceptable and Obama was no closer than any of the others.

...no one on the board or on the Annenberg Challenge staff remembers Obama being any closer to Ayers than to any other member of the board. The Annenberg board also included several civic, business and education leaders, many of them Republicans...

In fact one person close to the issue states:

"I don't remember ever hearing anyone raise concerns or questions or concerns about [Ayers'] background," says Anne Hallett, who has worked closely with Ayers on the Annenberg Challenge grant and with Obama on education and other community and legislative matters. "And that included everybody I was engaged with," including prominent Republicans, and corporate and civic leaders in Chicago, Hallett adds.

And finally, the author notes:

Hallett calls this attack on Obama's association with Ayers and the Annenberg Challenge by further association, "a smear campaign. It's a political diatribe that has no basis in fact. The Chicago Annenberg Challenge was an extremely positive initiative. It was well-vetted, thorough, and the fact that it is now is being used for political purposes is, in my opinion, outrageous."

... a former Illinois Republican state representative states:

"It was never a concern by any of us in the Chicago school reform movement that he had led a fugitive life years earlier," said former Illinois state Republican Rep. Diana Nelson, who worked with both Obama and Ayers over the years. "It's ridiculous. There is no reason at all to smear Barack Obama with this association. It's nonsensical, and it just makes me crazy. It's so silly."

Meanwhile, our friend John McCain is linked to an actual terrorist group -- and he sat on their board, not decades after they concluded their outrageous activities, but while they were still up and running:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Sen. John McCain served on the advisory board to the U.S. chapter of an international group linked to ultra-right-wing death squads in Central America in the 1980s.

The U.S. Council for World Freedom also aided rebels trying to overthrow the leftist government of Nicaragua. That landed the group in the middle of the Iran-Contra affair and in legal trouble with the Internal Revenue Service, which revoked the charitable organization's tax exemption.

The council created by retired Army Maj. Gen. John Singlaub was the U.S. chapter of the World Anti-Communist League, an international organization linked to former Nazi collaborators and ultra-right-wing death squads in Central America. After setting up the U.S. council, Singlaub served as the international league's chairman.

... In McCain's case, he was a House member and a board member of Singlaub's council when, as a new congressman, he voted for military assistance to the Nicaraguan Contras, a CIA-organized guerrilla force. In 1984, Congress cut off military assistance to the rebels.

Months before the cutoff, top Reagan administration officials ramped up a secret White House-directed supply network run by national security advisers Robert McFarlane and John Poindexter. The operation's day-to-day activities were handled by National Security Council aide Oliver North, who relied on retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Richard Secord to carry out the operation. The goal was to keep the Contras operating until Congress could be persuaded to resume CIA funding.

Singlaub's private group became the public front for the secret White House activity.

There's a lot more. Read the entire piece. The organization has also been linked to ultra-right wing, racist and anti-Semitic activity, including a seemingly pro-Nazi bent and association with Central American death squads (and Sun Myung Moon) and with the "mujehedeen" in Afghanistan, which later became al-Qaida.

McCain should run, screaming, from any more talk about "associations."

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posted by JReid @ 8:27 AM  
McCain's golden oldie

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posted by JReid @ 12:33 AM  
Old man wanders in front of television camera
The funniest moment from McCain-Obama II:

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posted by JReid @ 12:31 AM  
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Who won? 'That one'
Could John McCain have looked any older, any more doddering, or any more like the neighborhood crank than he did in tonight's debate? (Transcript) The Arizona Senator wandered around the stage erratically, told oddball jokes (about hair plugs, and responded to Tom Brokaw's question about who he'd pick as treasury secretary with "not you," and didn't get a laugh either time...) stammered over both Obama and the moderator that if Obama got a follow up, doggone it he wanted one too, did an impression of George H.W. Bush with that geezery "steady hand on the tiller" line, and incredibly, referred to Obama in the way an old codger might have referred to his black house boy back in the 1950s; calling him "that one." (video)

McCain was very aggressive -- he seemed to get almost too close to the audience at times, and he kept doing that weird combination of "my friends" and, as Chris Matthews put it, that creepy, menacing smile. He was also condescending, taking for granted that an African-American questioner wouldn't know what Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were. And he dropped the ball on his signature POW schtick, referring to it so obliquely, it sounded like he was losing his train of thought.

Perhaps McCain's only two solid moments, were the one early in the debate when he suggested that the Treasury buy up bad mortgages -- something any good Democrat might find tempting. Of course, such an idea is exactly the opposite of conservatism, and therefore will strike much of his base as a steaming pile of socialism, and the moment when he shook hands with a questioner who was a fellow Navy man, saying "everything important I ever learned, I learned from a midshipman."

But everything else tonight went Obama's way. He was languid, calm, warm and presidential. He spoke to voters in terms that screamed "kitchen table" (i.e., we have to prioritize in Washington the way families do...) He walked over to the questioner, found a mark, and stuck to it, where McCain wandered around the stage so frenetically, a friend of mine texted me and asked what was wrong with his legs. He shut McCain down twice with authority: once when he said, "McCain keeps saying I don't understand. ... You're right, I don't understand how we got sidetracked from going after Bin Laden and went into Iraq instead," and when he slammed McCain, who had just done a soliloquy on "speaking softly and carrying a big stick," by reminding the audience that McCain is the guy who sung "bomb bomb bomb Iran," called for the annihilation of North Korea and before we finished in Afghanistan, said "next stop: Baghdad." And his call for AIG to give back the $400,000 in bailout money they spent on a luxury junket and fire their executives hit the mark.

And Obama got the question on healthcare right: McCain called it a "responsibility" and Obama said it's a "right," and very affectingly talked about his mother's experience at the end of her life.

Obama also won the aftermath -- he and Michelle stuck around and worked the room for a long time, talking with the undecided voters who made up the audience in the debate, and taking lots of pictures (including with the brother in the goldenrod colored suit who I suspect wasn't really undecided, seeking out the Navy veteran, while McCain was in such a hurry to get out of the room, he actually walked in front of the camera, and Tom Brokaw -- blocking the shot in a most erratic, old man wandering around the neighborhood off his meds kind of way... (video)

The post-debate polls are as follows:

CNN:

Who won the debate?
Obama - 54%
McCain - 30%

Who was more likable?
Obama - 65%
McCain - 28%

Who seemed more like a typical politician?
McCain - 52%
Obama - 36%

Who spent more time attacking his opponent?
McCain - 63%
Obama - 17%


CBS:

Who won the debate?
Obama - 39%
McCain - 27%

More detail from the CBS poll:
Thirty-nine percent of the 400 uncommitted voters surveyed identified Barack Obama as tonight's winner; 27 percent said John McCain won, while 35 percent saw the debate as a draw.

After the debate, 68 percent of uncommitted voters said that they think Obama will make the right decisions on the economy, compared to 54 percent who said that before the debate. Fewer thought McCain would do so – 49 percent after the debate, and 41 percent before.

Before the debate, 60 percent thought Obama understands voters’ needs and problems; that rose to 80 percent after the debate. For McCain, 35 percent felt he understands voters’ needs before the debate, and 46 percent thought so afterwards.

McCain did win the question of who is more ready to be president. But I think you can ask Hillary Clinton how far "ready on day one" gets you with voters scared about their 401Ks.

More reactions:

Taegan Goddard (with an extra zinger for the oddly old guy seeming Tom Brokaw, too...)
Tonight's debate wasn't even close. Sen. Barack Obama ran away with it -- particularly when speaking about the economy and health care. Talking about his mother's death from cancer was very powerful. On nearly every issue, Obama was more substantive, showed more compassion and was more presidential.

... Tom Brokaw was terrible as moderator. His fixation with the rules -- particularly when the candidates were not complaining -- was distracting and a disservice to everyone. The format didn't work very well, but Brokaw made it worse.
Andrew Sullivan:
This was, I think, a mauling: a devastating and possibly electorally fatal debate for McCain... I've watched a lot of debates and participated in many. I love debate and was trained as a boy in the British system to be a debater. I debated dozens of times at Oxofrd. All I can say is that, simply on terms of substance, clarity, empathy, style and authority, this has not just been an Obama victory. It has been a wipe-out. It has been about as big a wipe-out as I can remember in a presidential debate. It reminds me of the 1992 Clinton-Perot-Bush debate. I don't really see how the McCain campaign survives this.
NRO's Andy McCarthy:

We have a disaster here — which is what you should expect when you delegate a non-conservative to make the conservative (nay, the American) case. We can parse it eight ways to Sunday, but I think the commentary is missing the big picture.

Here's what Obama needed to do tonight: Convince the country that he was an utterly safe, conventional, centrist politician who may have leftward leanings but will do the right thing when the crunch comes.

Now, as the night went along, did you get the impression that Obama comes from the radical Left? Did you sense that he funded Leftist causes to the tune of tens of millions of dollars? Would you have guessed that he's pals with a guy who brags about bombing the Pentagon? Would you have guessed that he helped underwrite raging anti-Semites? Would you come away thinking, "Gee, he's proposing to transfer nearly a trillion dollars of wealth to third-world dictators through the UN"?

Nope. McCain didn't want to go there. So Obama comes off as just your average Center-Left politician. Gonna raise your taxes a little, gonna negotiate reasonably with America's enemies; gonna rely on our very talented federal courts to fight terrorists and solve most of America's problems; gonna legalize millions of hard-working illegal immigrants. ....

... Memo to McCain Campaign: Someone is either a terrorist sympathizer or he isn't; someone is either disqualified as a terrorist sympathizer or he's qualified for public office. You helped portray Obama as a clearly qualified presidential candidate who would fight terrorists.

If that's what the public thinks, good luck trying to win this thing.

Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard -- here's the opening and closing paragraphs:

John McCain had a very strong debate tonight. It’s too bad for him that it came on a night when Barack Obama was nearly flawless.

... Obama’s test in the first debate was to present himself as a plausible president, as a guy who didn’t seem out of place on stage at a presidential debate and wouldn’t seem out of place delivering a State of the Union address. Much as I’d disagree with the policies in such a speech, it was clear that he passed that test. Tonight, his job was to persuade voters – particularly independents – not only that he could be president but that he should be president. I suspect polling in the next couple of days will provide evidence that he passed that test, too.

Powerline:

I thought that Barack Obama won the “visuals” of tonight’s debate. He looked younger and more vigorous, of course, but, in addition, John McCain did too much moving around. He seemed focused on addressing a “town hall,” as he has done so well over the years. But in reality, as Obama seemed quicker to appreciate, the audience tonight was in television land. To them, McCain’s movement must have seemed a bit aimless.

... A win on the visuals and at least a draw on substance (if that’s a fair assessment) is a win for Obama at this point. So tonight he moves a little closer to the presidency. I continue to believe that voters will subject him to one more round of serious scrutiny when the debates are over. Tonight’s performance marginally enhances his chance of surviving that scrutiny, which was already pretty good.

Oh, and Obama also won Frank Luntz's Fox News focus group, too, which prompted Brit Hume to make the most undertakery, deadpan facial expression he may have ever produced for a television camera. Hilarious.

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posted by JReid @ 11:21 PM  
Feds probe Sheriff Scott for Hatch Act violations
Lee County, Florida Sheriff Mike Scott isn't talking to the press. So says Lt. Robert Forrest, Commander of the county's Publ ic Information Office. Forrest, the day after Scott delivered a stem winding introduction for Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at a campaign rally in Estero, located north of Bonita Springs on Florida's Gulf Coast.

Scott told a roaring crowd, Monday, that there are three types of people in the world: "the ones who make things happen, the ones who watch what happens and the ones who wonder what happened." Then he added, "let's leave Barack Hussein Obama wondering what happened."

The response from Lee County constituents, and from the media, was immediate.

"We've taken probably 1,000 phone calls during this business day and we've had pretty much a 50-50 proposition," when it comes to callers' opinions of Scott's rhetoric Monday, Forrest said, "with some individuals very passionately stating their opinions, some of them in a calm, well articulated manner and others in a not so articulate, calm demeanor."

Forrest added that Scott has "wiped his hands" of the matter and didn't plan to give any interviews.

Before he stopped talking to the press, Scott was unapologetic, telling local reporters he "absolutely, unequivocally" didn't regret using Obama's middle name, and adding, "frankly, if this is such a hot-button issue, he, as a Harvard lawyer, could have changed it if he didn't like it." Obama's middle name is often used derisively by conservative talk radio and blogs, including by those attempting to imply that Obama, who is Christian, is in fact a Muslim.

"Obviously a lot of folks feel compelled to say something about this," Forrest said, but "he meant nothing by the use of the middle name, he was surprised by all the hoopla and he is moving on."

He might be the only one.

On Tuesday, the Office of Special Counsel in Washington D.C. confirmed to THE REID REPORT that it has opened an investigation into Scott's political activities Monday, which were conducted while he was in uniform. According to the federal Hatch Act, such activities might be prohibited by law. According to the Office of Special Counsel:

The Hatch Act applies to executive branch state and local employees who are principally employed in connection with programs financed in whole or in part by loans or grants made by the United States or a federal agency. Employees who work for educational or research institutions which are supported in whole or in part by a State or political subdivision of the State are not covered by the provisions of the Hatch Act.

It states that covered persons may not "use official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the results of an election or nomination," and that while "an employee's conduct is also subject to the laws of the state and the regulations of the employing agency… employees should be aware that the prohibitions of the Hatch Act are not affected by state or local laws."

"Today we've launched a formal investigation into the sheriffs activity during yesterday's political event," OSC Director of Congressional-Public Affairs Anthony Guglielmi told THE REID REPORT Tuesday. Guglielmi said that the first step would be to determine whether Scott was in fact covered by the Hatch Act, including if the Lee County Sheriff's office has received any federal grants. If violations are found, Scott would be notified and advised "how to rectify" the situation, and could face penalties including dismissal, or forfeiture of federal assistance equal to two years salary.

Guglielmi said his office became aware of the situation through "media coverage and calls from concerned citizens." He said the OSC is "taking a pro-active step" to investigate this and many other Hatch Act related claims "before the election."

On the local laws, at least, Scott appears to be in the clear. According to Forrest, Lee County policy states that "deputies and officers can't campaign in uniform, but a sheriff can because he is an elected official." Forrest added that Scott is always in uniform: "he is the chief law enforcement officer of Lee county regardless of where he is or what he is doing."

Scott's previous statements to the media said he was not speaking for the Sheriff's department on Monday.

Forrest called Scott, a Republican who is on the ballot for re-election in November, "a thorough professional and extremely popular sheriff in Lee County who is well respected and well liked," adding that "his track record speaks for itself." Scott was elected in 2004 after defeating a first-term incumbent, Rod Shoap. His official website states that former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is his "inspiration," and that he keeps a Votomatic Vote Recorder used in the 2000 Lee County election in his office. The site reads in part: "the voting booth is the sheriff's daily reminder to be responsive to voters who elected him to office. At the center of his conference table sits a sculpture with an arrow pointing outward, keeping him grounded and focused on the whole agency. Three framed words sit on his desk: Honesty. Trust. Integrity."

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posted by JReid @ 8:44 PM  
Update: Lee County Sheriff under federal investigation
It's the Hatch Act, stupid. I just confirmed with the Office of Special Counsel in D.C. that Sheriff Mike Scott is being investigated for possibly violating the Hatch Act during his partisan speech in uniform on behalf of Sarah Palin yesterday. My story should be posted to an online news outlet near you, very soon. The Public Information Officer at the Lee County Sheriff's Department says Scott has "wiped his hands" of the controversy and won't be talking to the media. This one's Developing...

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posted by JReid @ 4:11 PM  
Burning questions: can you call a guy a terrorist at a town hall?
The Newsweek "Stumper" column asks whether John McCain's scorched earth campaign strategy will ultimately work. I'm wondering, can McCain call Barack Obama an Ayer's "palling" terrorist to his face at tonight's debate and survive politically? Other burning questions: will Tom Brokaw, the "unofficial liaison" between NBC and the McCain campaign, who has shown a surprising willingness to disgorge McCain talking points lately, including on "Meet the Press", ask McCain about his still-deteriorating campaign tactics? And will McCain attempt to "turn the page" on the economy tonight, or actually attempt talk about it (without doing that creepy laugh...)? The debate starts at 9.

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posted by JReid @ 12:19 PM  
Local: that's the straight ticket!
Everyone is paying close attention to the presidential race, but Democrats should also feel good about their chances of picking up two, and at the outside, perhaps all three contested Congressional seats in South Florida, too. Why? New voters, whom you might, from here on in, refer to as "straight ticket" voters.

Miami-Dade and Broward Counties have added 200,000 and 300,000 new voters to the rolls since the 2004 election, respectively, not including the last-minute October rush. Moreover, Democrats are out-registering republicans by 60/40 or better rates, and registering many more young voters, so that in in both counties, Democrats now out-number Republicans by around 200,000 voters. Add to that the more than 200,000 Independant voters in Broward and more than 275,000 in Dade, and the polls showing indies leaning increasingly toward Obama and the Democrats, and you've got a cyclone whose current path has it aiming directly at heart of the GOP.

Now for the important part: new voters are more than likely NOT politically conversant. They no nothing about Raul Martinez's past brushes with the law, nor do they have a longtime affinity for the Cuba-centric politics of the Diaz Balarts. They are paying attention, but mostly to the presidential race. Therefore the Balart attack ads are probably wasted on them. What most new voters know, particularly at the younger end of the spectrum, is that a Democrat registered them, they want to vote for Democrat Barack Obama (and that's why many of them registered to begin with,) and they are part of the wave that is poised to was Republicans out of the White House and Congress so that "change" can begin.

Even in a less toxic election year, new voters tend to be straight ticket voters, and once they start with Obama, most will work their way through the ballot voting D down the line. That's great news for the Democratic Congressional candidates, and for Democrats running for the state house. Of course, straight ticket voting won't help the judicial candidates, and it won't help people decode the legalese that the various statewide and countywide amendments are written in. But at the end of the day, I'd feel pretty good if I were a Democrat running for Congress this year.

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posted by JReid @ 11:36 AM  
Under color of authority: Lee County Sheriff a hatchet man in uniform
Lee County, Fla. Sheriff Mike Scott campaigns for Sarah Palin on Monday

Did Lee County, Florida Sheriff Mike Scott violate the rules of his office (in addition to those of propriety,) when he rallied for John McCain and Sarah Palin, and attacked Barack Obama while wearing his uniform? First, the story from yesterday:
Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott took the stage moments ago as one of the introductory speakers at a rally here for Sarah Palin. After delivering brief remarks in support of Palin, Sheriff Scott flipped the switch and used Barack Obama’s middle name in order to incite the crowd of thousands of people who have already gathered here.

“On Nov. 4, let’s leave Barack Hussein Obama wondering what happened,” the law enforcement officer said.




Sheriff Scott essentially lent the color of police authority to the implication, by him, and by the subsequent speakers (including Sarah Palin,) not to mention right wing talk radio, Fox News, and the McCain campaign itself, that Barack Obama is an undercover Muslim who is aligned with terrorists. And not a few observers have noted that the McCain campaign is subtly dipping into racist sentiment as well, attempting to scare working class white voters about Obama's "exoticism." (There was a time when race baiting in full uniform wasn't all that uncommon for police officers in the American south, which makes the tone of Scott's appearance all the more ... well ... troubling.) Do the people Scott "protects and serves" in Lee County, which includes Fort Myers, Naples, Punta Gorda and other cities on the Gulf Coast, which I'm assuming includes at least a few black people and which does include more than 95,000 Democrats, feel comfortable with the apolitical and fair disposition of his authority today?

And while the campaign attempted to distance itself ever so slightly from the remarks, they aren't much worse than what John McCain's running mate has been saying in her stump speech about Obama "palling around with terrorists," (which is funny coming from a woman who pals around with her Alaskan separatist hubby...) including the remarks she made after Scott and a talk radio host were done introducing her.

A bit about Scott, from the Lee County Sheriff's website:

Small details in Scott’s office are telling. At one corner sits a Votomatic Vote Recorder used in the 2000 Lee County election. The voting booth is the sheriff’s daily reminder to be responsive to voters who elected him to office. At the center of his conference table sits a sculpture with an arrow pointing outward, keeping him grounded and focused on the whole agency. Three framed words sit on his desk: Honesty. Trust. Integrity.

The new sheriff’s first experience with law enforcement came in 1986 as a probation officer. He joined the Lee County Sheriff’s Office in 1988, serving as a public information officer and Southwest Florida CrimeStoppers coordinator until he resigned in April 2003 to run for sheriff. He also served as a motorcycle deputy in the Traffic Unit. His accolades include being named the 2003 Law Enforcement Coordinator of the Year by the Southeastern CrimeStoppers Association.

He didn’t always want to be in law enforcement, though. Scott had intended on becoming a dentist until advanced chemistry classes at University of South Florida made him think otherwise. He earned an undergraduate degree in political science instead. He also considered general contracting, following his father’s profession, but an economic downturn during that time pointed him in a different direction. Scott later earned his master of business administration degree from IMPAC University.

For inspiration, the sheriff looks to former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who Time Magazine named 2001 person of the year for his leadership in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Scott also admires the leadership of Colin Powell and H. Norman Schwarzkopf.

Well, he keeps a memento of the 2000 election (though he wasn't elected until 2004) and callsh Rudy Giuliani his inspiration ... no wonder this guy behaves like a BrownShirt...

Meanwhile, Scott is standing by his comments, and apparently, calls are pouring into the Sheriff's office about them. Regarding his statements and wearing his uniform while attacking Senator Obama, Scott said this:
“I absolutely, unequivocally don’t regret saying it,” Scott said. “In order to be a speaker at this event, I had to give my full name — Michael Joseph Scott — to the Secret Service, even though I’m the sheriff of Lee County. So why would I apologize? Is there some kind of double standard here where I have to give my full name, but I can’t use his?”

... “I just wanted to use his full name,” Scott said. “And frankly, if this is such a hot-button issue, he, as a Harvard lawyer, could have changed it if he didn’t like it.”

Scott, who was wearing his uniform, said he was representing his own views, not his office.

He defended making those comments while in uniform, though.

“That’s what I wear every day,” Scott said. “That’s what I wore to the McCain rally in Tampa with my fellow sheriffs. But at no point did I say I was speaking on behalf of the sheriff’s office.”
I see. Well while I'm waiting for the Lee County Public Information Office to call me back regarding the ruless about campaigning while in uniform, perhaps we should take a look at a little thing called the Hatch Act. What's that, you ask?
The Hatch Act applies to executive branch state and local employees who are principally employed in connection with programs financed in whole or in part by loans or grants made by the United States or a federal agency. Employees who work for educational or research institutions which are supported in whole or in part by a State or political subdivision of the State are not covered by the provisions of the Hatch Act.

Employees of private nonprofit organizations are covered by the Hatch Act only if the statute through which the organization receives its federal funds contains language which states that the organization shall be considered to be a state or local agency for purposes of the Hatch Act, e.g., Headstart and Community Service Block Grant statutes.

An employee’s conduct is also subject to the laws of the state and the regulations of the employing agency. Additionally, employees should be aware that the prohibitions of the Hatch Act are not affected by state or local laws.

... Covered state and local employees may not-

  • be candidates for public office in a partisan election
  • use official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the results of an election or nomination
  • directly or indirectly coerce contributions from subordinates in support of a political party or candidate
So did Sheriff Scott commit a violation? I'm not an attorney, but maybe one should look into it.

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posted by JReid @ 10:45 AM  
Monday, October 06, 2008
Does the McCain camp's 'terror' slur constitute a threat?
When a supporter at one of his vaunted town hall meetings in Albequerque, New Mexico shouted out that Barack Obama is a "terrorist," John McCain reportedly seemed startled, but didn't correct the slur. Far from it. His running mate has been running around the country saying that Obama "pals around with terrorists." His surrogates, including disgraced former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, New Mexico Congresswoman Heather Wilson (who accused Obama of being "unpatriotic" last week, and all of right wing talk radio, sneer Obama's middle name, Hussein, every time they mention him. And the McCain campaign has, in the space of a single general election cycle, called Obama "the candidate of Hamas," a closet Muslim, and a man who wants to "pal around" with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. What is the point of all of this?

After the 9/11 terror attacks, it seems to me that there is no lower slur than to call a fellow American a terrorist sympathizer (many Americans won't make a distinction between the white Mr. Ayers and the world's Muslims, so many of whom are so very, very brown...) Such a charge is far more damaging than what the lying Swiftboat charlatans pulled on John Kerry, and even goes beyond the implications of George H.W. Bush's "Willie Horton" charge against Michael Dukakis in 1988. In those instances, the digs may have been personal, but the "terrorist" charge is also dangerous, particularly to a minority, an African-American like Obama, who needed Secret Service protection immediately upon beginning his run, because of threats to his life from racist nut jobs. By implying, in an America still suffering the after-affects of 9/11, implying that Obama is a terrorist or terrorist sympathizer is tantamount to threatening his and his families' lives.

And it is particularly stunning for such a charge to be leveled by, and on behalf of one Senator against not just a fellow American, but a Senate colleague -- a member of the small club of just 100 people in Washington. For John McCain to countenance such a damning, dangerous slur -- with all the implications for a lone right wing nut who might want to "save" America from the "terrorist" -- is so unbelievable that I almost cannot believe that McCain, who served this country in the United States Navy, is allowing it to happen.

Except that he IS allowing it to happen, including out of the mouth of a law enforcement officer, Lee County, Florida Sheriff Mike Scott, who wearing his uniform, no less, pushed forward the slanderous implication that Barack Obama, an American, a United States Senator, and a man running for president of the United States, is little more than a terrorist.

John McCain, if he has a conscience somewhere inside that brittle, angry exterior, will come to regret the campaign of 2008, if for no other reason than it robbed him, or allowed him to strip himself of, his basic integrity, by allowing him to endanger, really to threaten, a fellow American and fellow Senator's safety, for ambition alone.

A bit of hyperbole? Read on as the WaPo recounts what happened right here in Florida while Gov. Palin was giving her "palling around with terrorists" stump speech:

"I was reading my copy of the New York Times the other day," she said.

"Booooo!" replied the crowd.

"I knew you guys would react that way, okay," she continued. "So I was reading the New York Times and I was really interested to read about Barack's friends from Chicago."

..."Now it turns out, one of his earliest supporters is a man named Bill Ayers," Palin said.

"Boooo!" said the crowd.

"And, according to the New York Times, he was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, 'launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol,'" she continued.

"Boooo!" the crowd repeated.

"Kill him!" proposed one man in the audience.

Remarkably, or perhaps unremarkably, Palin did not correct him.

UPDATE: The Huffpo has more on the increasingly ugly, racist taint of the McCain-Palin crowds, including one incident involving a black camera operator:

Worse, Palin's routine attacks on the media have begun to spill into ugliness. In Clearwater, arriving reporters were greeted with shouts and taunts by the crowd of about 3,000. Palin then went on to blame Katie Couric's questions for her "less-than-successful interview with kinda mainstream media." At that, Palin supporters turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, "Sit down, boy."
Is it just me, or are the McCain-Palin rallies starting to be reminiscent of Klan rallies...?

Meanwhile, New York Gov. David Patterson weighs in on the dangers of calling a fellow American a terrorist sympathizer.

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posted by JReid @ 11:12 PM  
Pass it on: McCain's Keating Five problem
The new documentary from the Obama campaign, counter-attacking the attack dogs at Team McCain-Palin.



Find more on McCain-Keating here.

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posted by JReid @ 5:52 PM  
Keating Five incoming
The Obama campaign will turn the Keating dogs loose in about 1 minute from now. The descriptor:
The economic crisis demands that we understand John McCain's attitudes about economic oversight and corporate influence in federal regulation. Nothing illustrates the danger of his approach more clearly than his central role in the savings and loan scandal of the late '80s and early '90s.
The bipartisan Senate Ethics Committee launched investigations and formally reprimanded Senator McCain for his role in the scandal -- the first such Senator to receive a major party nomination for president.

John McCain was accused of improperly aiding his political patron, Charles Keating, chairman of the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association. At the heart of the scandal was Keating's Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, which took advantage of deregulation in the 1980s to make risky investments with its depositors' money. McCain intervened on behalf of Charles Keating with federal regulators tasked with preventing banking fraud, and championed legislation to delay regulation of the savings and loan industry -- actions that allowed Keating to continue his fraud at an incredible cost to taxpayers.

When the savings and loan industry collapsed, Keating's failed company put taxpayers on the hook for $3.4 billion and more than 20,000 Americans lost their savings. John McCain was reprimanded by the bipartisan Senate Ethics Committee, but the ultimate cost of the crisis to American taxpayers reached more than $120 billion.

The Keating scandal is eerily similar to today's credit crisis, where a lack of regulation and cozy relationships between the financial industry and Congress has allowed banks to make risky loans and profit by bending the rules. And in both cases, John McCain's judgment and values have placed him on the wrong side of history.

See the documentary for yourself here.

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posted by JReid @ 12:01 PM  
What if it's already over?
It's something we nervous Democrats almost don't dare say out loud, but what if ... gulp ... the 2008 election is already over, and the sputtering fury of the McCain campaign is just the last, angry, desperate gasps of a campaign no Republican could win? Consider this by commentrator ... I mean Fox News analyst, Howard Wolfson:

Perpetually fretting Democrats will not want to accept it. The campaigns themselves can't afford to believe it. Many journalists know it but can't say it. And there will certainly be some twists and turns along the way. But take it to a well capitalized bank: Bill Ayers isn't going to save John McCain. The race is over.

John McCain's candidacy is as much a casualty of Wall Street as Lehman or Merrill. Like those once vibrant institutions, McCain's collapse was stunning and quick. One minute you are a well-respected brand. The next you are yelling at the messengers of your demise as all around you the numbers start blinking red and stop adding up.

McCain's road was difficult to begin with: the President of his party has had record-low approval ratings for two years and the number of Americans who say the country is heading in the wrong direction is stratospheric. He also had the misfortune to be pitted against an exceptional candidate running an extremely well-executed campaign.

Still, before Wall Street's collapse Senator McCain was ahead. His approval ratings remained high, his VP pick had generated excitement and interest, and his campaign operatives were capable, on any given day, of winning news cycles and giving their opponents fits. And then the underpinnings of American capitalism begin to sink -- and with them sunk McCain.

An election dominated at its inception by the war in Iraq is now overwhelmingly focused on the economy. More than half of voters in polls say that the economy is their top concern and Senator Obama enjoys double digit leads among voters asked who can better fix our economic mess. Put simply, there is no way Senator McCain can win if he continues to trail Senator Obama by double digits on the top concern of more than half of voters.

Wolfson also says McCain's nasty tactics may help him with right wingers on the margins, but that most voters couldn't give a damn about William Ayers (Mike Murphy said the same thing over the weekend on "Meet the Press.") And he concludes:

Republican philosophies have been discredited by events. Voters understand this. This is a big election about big issues. McCain's smallball will not work. This race will not be decided by lipsticked pigs. And John McCain can not escape that reality. The only unknowns are the size of the margin and the breadth of the Democratic advantage in the next Congress.
Your mouth to God's ear. (Unless of course, God is busy with Sarah Palin...)

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posted by JReid @ 11:54 AM  
Judgment is in part, about who you listen to
McCain's erratic campaign has a father: 38-year-old Karl Rovite Steve Schmidt. (Apparently, he's the one who picked Sarah Palin.) If this is who John McCain takes advice from (and Palin is who he agreed to run with, and to present to the country as ready to be president,) can we trust John McCain's judgment on anything?

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posted by JReid @ 11:44 AM  
Sunday, October 05, 2008
In case you missed it: the complete SNL debate skit
Enjoy!



Hat tip to Queen Latifah, whose facial expressions were priceless!

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posted by JReid @ 4:56 PM  
Two can play at that game
Paul Begala sounds a warning to Team McCain about what can happen when you play the "guilt by association game..."
I think Governor Palin here is making a strategic mistake. This guilt by association path is going to be trouble ultimately for the McCain campaign. You know, you can go back, I have written a book about McCain, I had a dozen researchers go through him, I didn’t even put this in the book. But John McCain sat on the board of a very right-wing organization, it was the U.S. Council for World Freedom, it was chaired by a guy named John Singlaub, who wound up involved in the Iran contra scandal. It was an ultra conservative, right-wing group. The Anti-Defamation League, in 1981 when McCain was on the board, said this about this organization. It was affiliated with the World Anti-Communist League – the parent organization – which ADL said “has increasingly become a gathering place, a forum, a point of contact for extremists, racists and anti-Semites.”

Now, that's not John McCain, I don't think he is that. But you know, the problem is that a lot of people know John McCain’s record better than Governor Palin. And he does not want to play guilt by association or this thing could blow up in his face.
And it gets worse. Not only could the Obama campaign play the Keating card, or the Alaska Independence Party card, but they also might get interested in John and Cindy McCain's mob ties, and Cindy's father's conviction for illegal liquor sales during the 1940s, subjects the Bushies held in reserve to use against McCain back in 2000. The mobster in question? Joe "Bananas" Bonano (and the story also wraps back into the Keating Five scandal.) The story was explored in depth in a February 17, 2000 story in the Phoenix New Times. And it was picked up by no less a right wing outfit than WorldNetDaily this February, back before right wingers were reprogrammed to fully support McCain as the Republican nominee:

John McCain's personal fortune traces back to organized crime in Arizona, through his father-in-law, according to a report published by a multi-news agency team called Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc.

IRE reporters Amy Silverman and John Doherty, writing in the Phoenix New Times, note that the father of McCain's wife, James Hensley, was convicted by a federal jury in U.S. District Court of Arizona in March 1948 on seven counts of filing false liquor records. Hensley also was charged with conspiracy to hide from federal authorities the names of persons involved in a liquor industry racket with two companies he managed, United Sales Company in Phoenix and United Distributors in Tucson.

The umbrella company, United Liquor, at that time held a monopoly in Arizona, organized and managed by Kemper Marley, who was accused of mob ties by a reporter who was murdered in 1977.

Silverman and Doherty report that by 1955, Hensley had launched a Budweiser distributorship in Phoenix, "a franchise reportedly bestowed upon him by Marley, who was never indicted in the 1948 liquor-law-violation case – or a subsequent one – despite his controlling role in the liquor distribution businesses."

... According to Marley's longtime public relations man, Al Lizanetz, the Marley liquor empire was founded by the Bronfman family dynasty of Canada which operated Allied Finance company Northern Export Company and Distillers Corporation Seagrams, Ltd. empire.

As chronicled by the "Rumrunners and Prohibition" video shown popularly on the History Channel, during the 1920s, the Bronfman family made millions in bootlegging, accounting for half the illegal liquor crossing the border, working in a profitable distribution deal with the infamous mobster Meyer Lansky, who later moved on to establish the crime syndicates in the casinos of Havana, Cuba, in the 1940s and 50s.

Arizona in the 1970s drew a "who's who" of organized crime figures seeking to retire in the sun, including Rochester, N.Y., mob boss Joe Bonanno, who spent his last days along the Lake Havasu shores and in a quiet home in Tucson.

In 1977, after Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles was killed when his car was blown up by the mob in a parking lot, a team of 36 journalists from 27 news organizations, known as IRE, published an 80,000 word 23-part series on organized crime in Arizona.

Dan Nowicki and Bill Muller, reporting in the Arizona Republic March 1, 2007, documented that in 1953, Hensley was again charged with falsifying records at Marley's liquor firms.

Hensley was found not guilty after being defended by William Rehnquist, the future chief justice of the Supreme Court, Nowicki and Muller wrote.

In 2000, Hensley, then 80 years old, still controlled the Budweiser distributorship valued as a $200 million-a-year business, with annual sales of more than 20 million cases of beer.

On Feb. 17, 2000, Pat Flannery reported in the Arizona Republic that Hensley's beer-distribution empire was the fifth largest in the nation, "a Budweiser franchise whose bigwigs hold the No. 2 spot on Sen. John McCain's all-time career list of corporate donors."

Since 1982, according to the Center for Public Integrity, Hensley & Co. officials have pumped $80,000 into the campaigns of McCain, Flannery wrote. More than a quarter of that has been donated since 1997.

Then, there's McCain's association with Arizona developer Donald Diamond:

When Mr. Diamond wanted to buy land at the (closed Army) base, Fort Ord, Mr. McCain assigned an aide who set up a meeting at the Pentagon and later stepped in again to help speed up the sale, according to people involved and a deposition Mr. Diamond gave for a related lawsuit. When he appealed to a nearby city for the right to develop other property at the former base, Mr. Diamond submitted Mr. McCain’s endorsement as “a close personal friend.”

Writing to officials in the city, Seaside, Calif., the senator said, “You will find him as honorable and committed as I have.”

Courting local officials and potential partners, Mr. Diamond’s team promised that he could “help get through some of the red tape in dealing with the Department of the Army” because Mr. Diamond “has been very active with Senator McCain,” a partner said in a deposition.

I could go on...

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posted by JReid @ 4:12 PM  
Shock and awe (and race baiting)
If you want to beat a Republican, it's a good idea to know their strategy. We've talked a lot about the McCain campaign admitting that it is going to attempt to "turn the page" on talk of the economy by mounting a scorched earth, personal attack campaign against Barack Obama. Well, an email sent out by Human Events today underscores the strategy. After several paragraphs of boilrtplsyr drivel about the Democratic candidate's "dangerous liberalism", fictional opposition to guns, big spending proposals and fantasized mania for abortion, comes this bit, which starts with a strange, but newly standard, right wing endorsement of Hillary Clinton:

Hillary Clinton was late in recognizing the threat Obama posed to her campaign, but once she did, her strategy worked.

When Hillary exposed Obama publicly, her campaign saw a major turnaround.

Hillary won every major state primary in the nation with the sole exception of Obama's home state of Illinois.

And even though Obama was "anointed" by the media and Democratic elites, Hillary went on to win eight of the last 10 Democratic primaries.

How did Obama beat Hillary for the nomination?

Well, using a loophole in Democratic rules, he was able to rack up large majorities in caucus states where he outspent and out organized her.

But in large, contested states she won almost every time. Why? Because when Democrats heard what Obama really stood for, they turned on him.

Make no mistake about it: If we let Americans know the truth about Obama, John McCain can win this election!

But we must employ Hillary Clinton's strategy.

We must expose Obama for the dangerous radical he is.

... This is why the National Republican Trust Political Action Committee is moving to implement a "shock and awe" strategy against Obama in key states.

We plan to take out powerful television ads, Internet ads and other communications to inform Americans about the dangers posed by Barack Obama.

... As a political action committee, we can accept up to $5,000 in donations per contributor.

A $5,000 donation can help us saturate a key market for a full day with television ads.

Why the Hillary Love? Could it be a not-so-subtle appeal to those the media said Hillary spoke to? In other words, this is about ginning up the fears of white voters -- lower middle class white voters, to be precise. But wait, there's more. The right has another weapon in its arsenal to use to stir up white rage against Obama, and her name is Sarah (my teenage daughter's marrying a f***in redneck) Palin. As the AP's Douglass K. Daniel sums up:

WASHINGTON (AP) - By claiming that Democrat Barack Obama is "palling around with terrorists" and doesn't see the U.S. like other Americans, vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin targeted key goals for a faltering campaign.

And though she may have scored a political hit each time, her attack was unsubstantiated and carried a racially tinged subtext that John McCain himself may come to regret.

First, Palin's attack shows that her energetic debate with rival Joe Biden may be just the beginning, not the end, of a sharpened role in the battle to win the presidency.

"Our opponent ... is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country," Palin told a group of donors in Englewood, Colo. A deliberate attempt to smear Obama, McCain's ticket-mate echoed the line at three separate events Saturday.

"This is not a man who sees America like you and I see America," she said. "We see America as a force of good in this world. We see an America of exceptionalism."

Her reference to Obama's relationship with William Ayers, a member of the Vietnam-era Weather Underground, was exaggerated at best if not outright false. No evidence shows they were "pals" or even close when they worked on community boards years ago and Ayers hosted a political event for Obama early in his career.

Obama, who was a child when the Weathermen were planting bombs, has denounced Ayers' radical views and actions.

So what's a little lying between friends? Well...

Palin's words avoid repulsing voters with overt racism. But is there another subtext for creating the false image of a black presidential nominee "palling around" with terrorists while assuring a predominantly white audience that he doesn't see their America?

In a post-Sept. 11 America, terrorists are envisioned as dark-skinned radical Muslims, not the homegrown anarchists of Ayers' day 40 years ago. With Obama a relative unknown when he began his campaign, the Internet hummed with false e-mails about ties to radical Islam of a foreign-born candidate.

Whether intended or not by the McCain campaign, portraying Obama as "not like us" is another potential appeal to racism. It suggests that the Hawaiian-born Christian is, at heart, un-American.

Most troubling, however, is how allowing racism to creep into the discussion serves McCain's purpose so well. As the fallout from Wright's sermons showed earlier this year, forcing Obama to abandon issues to talk about race leads to unresolved arguments about America's promise to treat all people equally.

Oh, so that's who Sarah was winking at: racist white people ... The desperate McCain campaign has been using a subtly racist argument to take Obama down for months, only now, it's about to get real un-subtle. As a friend of mine said recently, the slogan of the McCain campaign could well be boiled down to: "Forget the economy. Vote to keep the White House white."

Previous:



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posted by JReid @ 3:49 PM  
Miss Nasty
From the beginning, there were two ways the McCain could use Sarah Palin: as the feel good face of an otherwise brittle, old mannish campaign, or as McCain's attack dog -- literally, his pit bull with lipstick. After last week's conference call in which the McCain campaign admitted it was about to go nuclear on Barack Obama, I think it's fair to say they've taken door number two...
CARSON, Calif., (AP) — Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Saturday accused Democrat Barack Obama of "palling around with terrorists" because of an association with a former '60s radical, a harsh attack on his character that she repeated at three separate campaign events without substantiation.

Palin's reference was to Bill Ayers, one of the founders of the group the Weather Underground. Its members were blamed for several bombings, including a pipe bomb in San Francisco that killed a police officer and injured another. Obama, who was a child when the group was active, has denounced Ayers' radical views and activities.

While it is known that Obama and Ayers live in the same Chicago neighborhood, served on a charity board together and had a fleeting political connection, there is no evidence that they ever palled around. And it's simply wrong to suggest that they were associated while Ayers was committing terrorist acts.

Nonetheless, Palin made the comments at three appearances in separate states.

"Our opponent ... is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country," said told donors at a private airport in Englewood, Colo. Palin echoed the line later in Carson, Calif., and Costa Mesa, Calif.

Falling behind Obama in polls, the Republican campaign plans to make attacks on Obama's character a centerpiece of candidate John McCain's message in the final weeks of the presidential race. Coming late in the campaign, Palin's remark could be particularly incendiary, either backfiring on McCain or knocking Obama off his focus on the troubled economy — or both.

On that question, I'm choosing door number one...

By the by, the Obama campaign isn't just sitting around waiting to get doused in slime. They go up tomorrow with a new add calling McCain "erratic in a crisis." Politico, perhaps locking the Palin-loving Roger Simon in a closet, previews the coming war games:

Obama officials call it political jujitsu – turning the attacks back on the attacker.

McCain officials had said early in the weekend that they plan to begin advertising after Tuesday’s debate that will tie Obama to convicted money launderer Tony Rezko and former Weathermen radical William Ayers.

But Obama isn’t waiting to respond. His campaign is going up Monday on national cable stations with a scathing ad saying: “Three quarters of a million jobs lost this year. Our financial system in turmoil. And John McCain? Erratic in a crisis. Out of touch on the economy. No wonder his campaign wants to change the subject.

“Turn the page on the financial crisis by launching dishonorable, dishonest ‘assaults’ against Barack Obama. Struggling families can't turn the page on this economy, and we can't afford another president who is this out of touch.”

Then Obama says: “I'm Barack Obama and I approved this message.”

McCain officials told Politico that the new offensive is likely to focus on Rezko and Ayers. The officials said the campaign will not bring up the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s former pastor, because McCain has forbade them from using that as a weapon. Without being specific, the officials said outside groups may focus on Wright.

Meanwhile, both the NY Times and the Wapo expound on the cause of Team McCain's desperation: the map ... the dreaded, awful, shrinking map. (By the way, I'm not sure how confident I am in Rasmussen, but if this poll is correct, and Obama is pulling away in Nevada, this race is over.)

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posted by JReid @ 12:57 AM  
The Bush Panic of 2008?
The Guardian's Dean Baker accuses George W. Bush of scaring up a panic. Could it be the last bank robbery on the way out the door?

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posted by JReid @ 12:40 AM  
It took 13 years, but they finally got him
An all-white jury does what an all-black jury wouldn't: they convict O.J. Simpson (of stupidity and armed robbery). Raise your hand if you think he won't get the max. Talk about a national vendetta signed, sealed and delivered. O.J. was dumb to go into that hotel room in Vegas to try and get his belongings back in the way that he did, but you'd have to have been living on Mars to believe that this wasn't a golden opportunity for America's majority to pay back that Los Angeles jury.


O.J. is hated for many reasons, but this case was about payback for the death of his wife Nicole and her friend Ron Goldman. He, of course, is an absolute idiot for giving law enforcement the chance to make heroes of themselves at the local watering hole. The difference this time, of course, is that black America doesn't give much of a damn about O.J. anymore.

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posted by JReid @ 12:13 AM  
Saturday, October 04, 2008
How to look (and sound) like a creepy old man
McCain at a rally the day after Sarah Palin's debate debut:

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posted by JReid @ 2:33 PM  
Friday, October 03, 2008
Charles Krauthammer waves the white flag of surrender
... and produces a coherent, damning portrayal of John McCain's haphazard attempts to stop Barack Obama from becoming president.

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posted by JReid @ 12:43 PM  
Jobs, jobs, go away...
Payrolls tumble another 159,000, the biggest drop in five years, and another bank is swallowed up -- this time, Wachovia becomes Wells Fargo's breakfast.

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posted by JReid @ 8:39 AM  
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Early polls show Biden won
The early returns are in, and apparently it's not enough to just show up and spew out talking points.

CBS' undecided voters poll:
CBS News and Knowledge Networks have conducted a nationally representative poll of 473 uncommitted voters to get their immediate reaction to tonight's vice presidential debate.

... Forty-six percent of the uncommitted voters surveyed say Democrat Joe Biden won the debate, compared to 21 percent for Republican Sarah Palin. Thirty-three percent said it was a tie.

Eighteen percent of previously uncommitted percent say they are now committed to the Obama-Biden ticket. Ten percent say they are now committed to McCain-Palin. Seventy-one percent are still uncommitted.

Both candidates improved their overall image tonight. Fifty-three percent of those surveyed say they now have a better impression of Biden. Five percent say they have a worse opinion of the Delaware senator, while 42 percent say they debate did not change their opinion.

Fifty-five percent say they now have a better opinion of Palin. Fourteen percent say they have a worse opinion, while 30 percent say their opinion hasn't changed.

After the debate, 66 percent see Palin as knowledgeable about important issues – up from 43 percent before the debate. But Biden still has the advantage on this – 98 percent saw him as knowledgeable after the debate. That figure was 79 percent before the debate.
MSNBC's unscientific online poll:

Who won the VP debate? * 322833 responses
Joe Biden
53%
Sarah Palin
37%
Tie
4.4%
Not sure
5.6%
CNN:
A national poll of people who watched the vice presidential debate suggests that Democratic Sen. Joe Biden won but also hints that Republican Gov. Sarah Palin exceeded expectations.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey is not a measurement of the views of all Americans, since only people who watched the debate were questioned.

Fifty-one percent of those polled thought Biden did the best job in Thursday night's debate, while 36 percent thought Palin did the best job.

But respondents said the folksy Palin was more likable, scoring 54 percent to Biden's 36 percent.

Both candidates exceeded expectations — 84 percent of the people polled said Palin did a better job than they expected, while 64 percent said Biden also exceeded expectations.

But on the question of the candidates' qualifications to assume the presidency, 87 percent of the people polled said Biden is qualified while only 42 percent said Palin is qualified.

Yup yup.

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posted by JReid @ 11:54 PM  
We are all Katie Couric now
In tonight's debate, Sarah Palin delivered 90 minutes of word salad. She was like a "talking points shooter" you'd purchase on one of those cable infomercials, growing wide eyed and automatic while churning out whatever was locked in her memory banks regardless of whether the verbal lettuce and cucumbers flying out had any relationship to the question being asked. The theme of the night could have been, "and now, for something completely different." Shouldn't you wait for the moderator to ask you about energy before you start spouting off about it?

In 90 minutes, and a blizzard of non-sequitors, I'm honestly not sure the woman directly answered a single question. Gwen Ifill didn't even need to be there! Asked about A, she answered about tomatoes. Asked about B, she declared that she wasn't going to answer the question at all. She was folksy to the point of being a Clampett. But would you elect Ellie Mae president?

Clearly, Gov. Palin was coached to the hilt, crammed with information (some of it off key, like General "McClellan", the non-existent military general in charge of Afghanistan, or the dangerous announcement that a McCain Palin administration would be moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem) to help her get through the evening. But she spit out those memorized talking points like she was anxious to pump them out of her brain before they dissolved. How many times did she say "Ahmadinejad," exactly? Joe Biden, several times, had to keep from visibly laughing out loud!

This is the woman who wants to not only be a cancer recurrence away from the presidency, but who also would like to expand the powers of the vice presidency beyond with Dick Cheney has done??? What's she going to use her newfangled powers for? To blather the Congress into submission on drilling?

Jeez...

On a factual level, Palin declined to defend John McCain's policies, particularly on tax cuts for the wealthy, or on his healthcare plan which would tax health benefits for the first time in history. Instead of defending the assertions made about McCain, she simply launched into her word fusilade and pretended the question never happened. Stunning.

For his part, Biden was coherent, adult, and presidential. That, frankly, is all he had to be. And his personal story about his first wife and sons was moving. His closing was terrific.

The media will pat her on the back because she didn't drool or stare off into space. Expect that. But make no mistake, Sarah Palin didn't help herself tonight with anyone who wasn't already voting for John McCain.

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posted by JReid @ 11:20 PM  
McCain: a 'magician' not a maverick
In this week's South Florida Times, my Friday radio co-host, Elgin Jones, drinks John McCain's milkshake. He drinks it up:
Before now, I believed that anyone would be better in the White House than Bush, so I yearned for the Jan. 20, 2009, Inauguration Day to hurry along.

The damage he has overseen is done, and it will take decades to correct. For these and other reasons, I wanted to bid him farewell back to Texas as soon as possible.

But after paying closer attention to McCain over the past few months, and delving deeper into his past, I now know I was wrong. The American people should be concerned, if not downright scared, of a John McCain presidency and the tricks he is pulling from his bag.

Nearly every position he has staked out in this year's campaign runs counter to those positions he took during the 2000 presidential primary....

... He has taken both sides of nearly every issue. In March, and after the government bailout of Bear Stearns, he vigorously supported loosening more regulation on Wall Street firms, only to state the opposite days later.

Even in our age of YouTube and other electronic information, it’s almost as if he and his advisors thought the people would not catch on.

Nonetheless, the last straw came with his selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, which amounts to an insult being foisted upon the American people. Palin is in no way qualified, and her only asset to the campaign appears to be her ability to throw acid-tongued quips at Obama.

The home schooling the campaign has done on her gets a failing grade, and she is proving to be an embarrassment. There are a number of qualified, sensible women he could have chosen as a running mate, like Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. But what does it say about his judgment when he selected a pleasing face and empty bathing suit, instead of experience and substance?
Read the whole article here.

Meanwhile, Rolling Stone Magazine lights into the McMaverick too, starting with a direct hit on his stint in Vietnam:

At Fort McNair, an army base located along the Potomac River in the nation's capital, a chance reunion takes place one day between two former POWs. It's the spring of 1974, and Navy commander John Sidney McCain III has returned home from the experience in Hanoi that, according to legend, transformed him from a callow and reckless youth into a serious man of patriotism and purpose. Walking along the grounds at Fort McNair, McCain runs into John Dramesi, an Air Force lieutenant colonel who was also imprisoned and tortured in Vietnam.

McCain is studying at the National War College, a prestigious graduate program he had to pull strings with the Secretary of the Navy to get into. Dramesi is enrolled, on his own merit, at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in the building next door.

There's a distance between the two men that belies their shared experience in North Vietnam — call it an honor gap. Like many American POWs, McCain broke down under torture and offered a "confession" to his North Vietnamese captors. Dramesi, in contrast, attempted two daring escapes. For the second he was brutalized for a month with daily torture sessions that nearly killed him. His partner in the escape, Lt. Col. Ed Atterberry, didn't survive the mistreatment. But Dramesi never said a disloyal word, and for his heroism was awarded two Air Force Crosses, one of the service's highest distinctions. McCain would later hail him as "one of the toughest guys I've ever met."

On the grounds between the two brick colleges, the chitchat between the scion of four-star admirals and the son of a prizefighter turns to their academic travels; both colleges sponsor a trip abroad for young officers to network with military and political leaders in a distant corner of the globe.

"I'm going to the Middle East," Dramesi says. "Turkey, Kuwait, Lebanon, Iran."

"Why are you going to the Middle East?" McCain asks, dismissively.

"It's a place we're probably going to have some problems," Dramesi says.

"Why? Where are you going to, John?"

"Oh, I'm going to Rio."

"What the hell are you going to Rio for?"

McCain, a married father of three, shrugs.

"I got a better chance of getting laid."

Dramesi, who went on to serve as chief war planner for U.S. Air Forces in Europe and commander of a wing of the Strategic Air Command, was not surprised. "McCain says his life changed while he was in Vietnam, and he is now a different man," Dramesi says today. "But he's still the undisciplined, spoiled brat that he was when he went in."

Wow. Read it all.

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posted by JReid @ 8:10 PM  
The re-set
The McCain-Palin campaign IS pulling out of Michigan. And they're hunkering down to defend Colorado, New Mexico and Florida, all won narrowly by Bush in 2004, while pushing for a share of Maine's proportioned delegates, and the lone pick-up: Pennsylvania. That was the bottom line during a conference call this afternoon with senior campaign strategists.

The aggressive call (an AP reporter's question about the campaign having to defend Virginia was dismissed as "ridiculous... Chuck Todd got a much nicer reception when he asked about the campaign's need to defend Indiana) helmed by McCain political director Mike Duhaime and senior advisor Greg Strimple, also included the rather stunning assertion that it is the Obama campaign -- ahead in most of the new battleground and all of the new national polls -- that is "desperate" and "worried," as evidenced by Obama's big spending in places like Florida, and that they're the ones running a "relentlessly negative campaign." That's the spin, but the clear message of the call was that the McCain team is determined to "get past the economic issues," and "put the focus back on Barack Obama and his liberal voting record."

Obama was called "the most liberal U.S. Senator" several times, and it was asserted that because of that liberalism, he can't win states like PA and Florida.

DuHaime said the McCain campaign was going to go forward and "show the American people who Barack Obama really is," and said "he has a big problem now that the dust has settled" on the Wall Sreet bailout. The idea being that the issue of the economy can be pushed aside in favor of restarting the debate about persona and ideology.

We'll see if the strategy works, given the continuing torrent of bad economic news.

For now, the McCain map is focused on Colorado, Virginia, New Mexico (so they say) North Carolina, Ohio, Florida, Maine, Virginia, Indiana and Pennsylvania. The trouble with that is, only one of those states is a take-away.

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posted by JReid @ 6:28 PM  
McCain is pulling out of Michigan
So reports Politico. And the campaign has narrowed the map down to three states, of which he must win one:
ST. LOUIS — Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) now must win Pennsylvania, Wisconsin or Minnesota in order to get enough electoral votes to win the presidency, his campaign says.

Those were considered swing states in 2000 and 2004, but George W. Bush lost them both times.

“Our ability to pick off one of those three states is where our fortunes are largely held,” a McCain official said. “These are states where Barack Obama is on the defense.”

McCain has very limited ways to win, with no room for error. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) still has many routes to the White House and so can afford to campaign on a much broader playing field.
Oh... that explains this. And with McCain now needing PA, I'll bet he wishes he had Tom Ridge by his side right about now...

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posted by JReid @ 5:23 PM  
All worked up over ACORN
The Republican National Committee held a conference call for reporters today featuring their chief counsel, Sean Cairncross, and communications director Danny Diaz, to discuss what they billed as "recent developments in Wisconsin regarding ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now."

ACORN, which was founded by a group of mothers in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1970, has been a favorite whipping boy of the right for many years -- they do irritating things like push for low income housing, helping those icky poor people and registering minorities to vote. As in every election cycle in recent memory, the charge on this call was that ACORN is hiring convicted felons to register people to vote. And while Cairncross couldn't cite a single instance where either an ACORN-registered voter voted illegally, or where a felonious ACORN worker committed identity theft againt a registrant, he said the "worry" of those things is there. Okay, but so is the worry that the earth will be wiped out by an asteroid.

The impetus for the call was this AP story on ACORN's use of felons in Wisconsin. Cairncross said WI felons working for acorn were designated as “special registration deputies," giving them "the power to collect and hold voter registration applications from individuals they were soliciting information from." He said that in the past, ACORN has "dumped thousands of registrations on supervisors of elections" close to election day, meaning that ... they're ... effective felons? And a line in the AP story kind of killed the buzz of the call for me:
State law says anyone who is able to vote can be a special registration deputy. Felons can vote as long as they are no longer on probation or parole.
Oh. So they're not doing anything illegal ... are they? Said Cairncross:
“I'm not making a charge here, I’m raising the point that ACORN has once again used their judgment to use felons to gather information and hold onto those voter registration cards.”
Um. ... okay. The call also floated a theme I've heard often from my GOP friends: that ACORN and Obama are intertwined like white and rice -- or black and rice? Diaz said Obama has funneled more than $800,000 to ACORN for voter registration activities, a figure Cairncross later raised to "over $1.5 million." I'm waiting for confirmation from Team Obama. What's troubling about the constant ACORN drumbeat is the tendency of critics to wander into dangerously racial territory, and what looks for all the world like an attempt to "niggerize" and criminalize Barack Obama by casting ACORN in the light of the legendary "welfare queen." To be fair, in response to a reporter's question about allegations that the McCain campaign in Wisconsin had yet to respond to allegations they sent Democrats absentee ballot applications with the wrong return addresses on them, Cairncross and Diaz emphasized that "both the campaign and the RNC are trying as best we can to bring as many new voters into this process as possible and believe that newly registered voters will vote for us."

Uh ... whatever you say. But I still wondered if the point of the call was to get members of the media to pursue what would be a decidedly race-angled story on Obama, even though there is no evidence that even if ACORN is up to something horrible, Obama is part of it. My experience is that the Obama campaign is incredibly self-contained. They don't use outside consultants or groups to do voter registration, because they have about a bazillion volunteers doing just that, and doing it "the Obama way." Why would they outsource?

Maybe the GOP is just looking for a negative story on Barack. Or maybe they're frustrated that the polls aren't looking good for John McCain in Wisconsin.

Either way, I didn't see much in the call to get excited about.

UPDATE: From an Obama campaign spokesman:
The Obama campaign has no coordination with outside groups for our voter registration activities.
I can attest, in Florida at least, that the Obama team likes to control their own operations. They don't outsource.

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posted by JReid @ 4:12 PM  
Operation Get Ifill
Did she fall ... or was she pushed...?

BUMPED>>>

Was there a right winger in a black ski mask lurking around in the shadows when Gwin Ifill fell down the stairs in her home and broke her ankle? Just asking... BTW the NY Observer observes that a certain Wasila barracuda once played a legendary basketball game on a bum ankle, too...

Ahem.

Having failed in their desperate attempts to get the mainstream media to portray Joe Biden as just as dimwitted as their gal, Sarah Palin, the right wing noise machine is deploying a new strategy on the eve of the most anticipated vice presidential debate in modern history: Take Down The Moderator: Gwen Ifill.

Drudge led the way with a blockbuster headline this morning announcing what many in Washington already knew: that she has a book on black politics in the "age of Obama" that's set to drop on inauguration day. Drudge, of course, links to a reputable and impartial news source: WorldNetDaily, where Ifill is accused by various sources of being "in the tank" for Obama, of hoping he wins so as to boost book sales, and of "giving dismissive looks" following Palin's RNC acceptance speech. Seriously. She supposedly made unpleasant faces. Maybe she and Nancy Pelosi could see the GOP Nanny 911 together...

Meanwhile, over at Fox News, Greta Van Susteren declares a mistrial. The RedState crew accuses Ifill of having a financial interest in the outcome of the election,

On this one, McCain, shockingly, keeps his head, while all those around him are acting ... like John McCain... The GOP nominee says he approves this moderator.

I think the GOPers would have a point ... if Gwen Ifill was either 1) not a serious journalist, but rather a political hatchet carrier, like Jerome Corsi, with whom some of them are trying to draw an analogy ... 2) moderating a debate featuring Barack Obama. Neither is the case. Gwen Ifill's reputation is nearly universal, for those without an agenda, as a serious and respected journalist. And Obama will not be on the stage.

Beside, her book, "The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama," according to the much linked Amazon.com write-up, is about black politicians more broadly, not just about Obama. The write-up reads:
In THE BREAKTHROUGH, veteran journalist Gwen Ifill surveys the American political landscape, shedding new light on the impact of Barack Obama’s stunning presidential campaign and introducing the emerging young African American politicians forging a bold new path to political power.

Ifill argues that the Black political structure formed during the Civil Rights movement is giving way to a generation of men and women who are the direct beneficiaries of the struggles of the 1960s. She offers incisive, detailed profiles of such prominent leaders as Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and U.S. Congressman Artur Davis of Alabama, and also covers up-and-coming figures from across the nation. Drawing on interviews with power brokers like Senator Obama, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Vernon Jordan, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and many others, as well as her own razor-sharp observations and analysis of such issues as generational conflict and the "black enough" conundrum, Ifill shows why this is a pivotal moment in American history.
Nowhere in that write-up do I see an endorsement of, or even a biographical sketch of, Barack Obama. Rather, Ifill is writing about how "black politics" has changed in light of his candidacy, which by the way will be "stunning" whether he wins or not, simply by virtue of its scope, primary success, fundraising, and the fact of an African-American claiming the nomination of not just any major political party, but of the party that for the most part, led the charge to keep black people in chains until about 40 years ago. A book about that doesn't hang on Obama's election, so Ifill can rightly claim to be dispassionate about the upcoming debate, which once again for those in the cheap seats, DOESN'T INVOLVE BARACK OBAMA.

To make the wingers' analogy work, Gwen Ifill wouldn't be allowed to moderate a debate between ANY black politician and an opponent, because of this book. (And Tom Brokaw couldn't moderate a debate about any member of the "greatest generation," including John McCain.)

But of course, that would be ridiculous.

UPDATE: McCain reverses his initial grown-up stance on Ifill, and pouts on Fox & Friends.
“Frankly, I wish they had picked a moderator that isn’t writing a book favorable to Barack Obama — let's face it," McCain said on "Fox & Friends." "But I have to have to have confidence that Gwen Ifill will handle this as the professional journalist that she is. ...

“Life isn’t fair, as I mentioned earlier in the program.”
Also on Fox's ridiculous morning show, Ed Rendell helps the other side game out how best to use Ifill to their advantage:

RENDELL: Well, what we -- what I would advise my people to do is make a big stink about it but not remove the moderator so the moderator would bend over backward to be fair to me...
CARLSON: Exactly.

RENDELL: ... to show that he or she was fair.

CARLSON: Yes.

RENDELL: So we'd use it to our advantage.

CARLSON: Well, and it could be used an advantage for Sarah Palin tonight...

RENDELL: Sure.

CARLSON: ... because all eyes, right or wrong, will be on the questioning of the Gwen Ifill.

RENDELL: Right.
Steve Doocy was in on the conversation, too, but I cut him out because ... well ... he's stupid.

Meanwhile again ... the right is lying through its teeth when it claims no one knew about the Ifill book before the debate was agreed to in August:
In fact, media outlets, including the Associated Press, reported that Ifill was the book's author well before the August 21 announcement that she would moderate the debate.

... Ifill's role as moderator of the October 2 vice presidential debate was announced in an August 21 joint statement from the Obama and McCain campaigns, which is posted on the McCain-Palin website.
And Gwen Ifill reacts to all the sturm and drang over the debate.

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posted by JReid @ 1:20 PM  
Panic at the Pasco
Is the Florida GOP coming apart over the latest polls?
TALLAHASSEE — Florida Republican leaders hastily convened a top secret meeting this week to grapple with Sen. John McCain's sagging performance in this must-win state.
The inner workings of turmoil sound a lot like what you normally hear about Florida Democrats...

One of the concerns has been the relationship between grass roots volunteers across the state and far fewer paid campaign staffers. Complaints range from not getting yard signs quickly enough to knowing who will speak at events and overall manpower coordination.

"The biggest challenge is communication," said state Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, who is involved in the campaign but was not at the meeting. She said the Broward County effort is running smoothly but that her overall impression is that state campaign officials are somewhat limited due to national directives.

This friction and fretting goes on all the time in stressful campaigns, and especially when one side's candidate has hit a rough patch, as McCain has. Buzz Jacobs, the campaign's Southeast regional director, who sat in on the meeting, denied any tension and declined comment.

McCain supporter and former Republican Party of Florida chairman Tom Slade said he's been hearing rumblings over the past few weeks that the campaign is not fully utilizing volunteers, though he said that was not the case in Jacksonville.

"I get the sense that on the statewide basis, the grass roots Republicans don't quite feel like they have a natural fit within the McCain organization," Slade said.

As for the polls, they are alarming for Republicans both because they represent a reversal of just a month ago, and because the GOP goes into this election with 1) a housing crisis in which Florida is Ground Zero, and 2) a growing registration gap with Democrats. The offending numbers:

• Quinnipiac: Obama leads 51-43.

• InsiderAdvantage/Poll Position: Obama leads 49-46.

• CNN/Time magazine: Obama leads 51-47.

• Suffolk University showed Obama leading 46-42.

• Real Clear Politics average of all Florida polls: Obama up by 3 percentage points.

Pollsters are blaming the Wall Street meltdown, which Qpac called a "dagger in McCain's heart," and the seeping of the air out of the Sarah Palin balloon. But unless McCain has a fix for Florida's careening housing crisis up his sleeve, it's going to be a long 33 or so days.


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posted by JReid @ 1:18 PM  
Down goes Footy
Maybe "what's your favorite burger?" wasn't the best daily topic selection ...

The transformation of South Florida talk radio into an all-syndicated affair is nearly complete. The arguably bad, bland, inexplicable and let's face it, unlistenable, and yet refreshingly local, Footy Show has been shown the door by Clear Channel/WIOD. The 'splanation will sound familiar:
WIOD program director Ken Charles, who put Footy on, said he rooted for the show. "Footy is a true pro and he gave it his best but the ratings just weren't there."
Footy, whose real name is John Kross, had come out of retirement after 32 years as the wing-man to a guy named Kenny on FM radio, to do the show (and I hear he got one hell of a payday.) He now joins Jim Defede and his former producer, Nicole Sandler (who was no Randi Rhodes, but who at least was local, too...) in the dustbin of South Florida local talk history. The last man standing is the shrill, GOP hack Tod Shnitt, who technically is a syndicated show too, now that he's with Jones Radio Network.

Don't ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for local talk radio...

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posted by JReid @ 11:55 AM  
U.S. Attorneygate: it's official
The OIG's report confirms that the plan to fire U.S. attorneys who refused to play politics for the administration was hatched in the White House. Don't hold your breath for TV news coverage...

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posted by JReid @ 11:29 AM  
Miss Congeniality
Among John McCain's many problems (and perhaps an under-reported reason why he was so ineffective at moving the bailout bill along when he swooped into the Capitol "like Mighty Mouse" last week) ... is his personality, which according to Washington reporters and even his present and former Senate colleagues, falls somewhere between Norma Desmond and Attila the Hun. McCain's McNastiness was on display again yesterday, when he shooed away a Politico reporter following his vote for the pork ... I mean "rescue" bill ... and also, apparently, inside the Senate chamber. Per CQ Politics, when the two made their joint appearance on the Senate floor, it was Obama who made the first move:

As the two shared the Senate floor tonight for the first time since they won their party nominations, Obama stood chatting with Democrats on his side of the aisle, and McCain stood on the Republican side of the aisle.

So Obama crossed over into enemy territory.

He walked over to where McCain was chatting with Republican Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida and Independent Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut. And he stretched out his arm and offered his hand to McCain.

McCain shook it, but with a “go away” look that no one could miss. He tried his best not to even look at Obama.

Finally, with a tight smile, McCain managed a greeting: “Good to see you.”

Obama got the message. He shook hands with Martinez and Lieberman — both of whom greeted him more warmly — and quickly beat a retreat back to the Democratic side.

Message to Obama: I hate you. Recall that McCain delivered the same performance in last week's debate, and in his testy performance before the editorial board of the Des Moines Register, and on, and on, and on.

McCain likes to own his nastiness, and often brags that he hasn't been elected Miss Congeniality int he Senate. The problem with that is, Americans don't like to elect assholes, and McCain isn't helping himself by acting like one. More important, his central claim -- that he is a consensus builder who can "reach across the aisle" and heal this country's ills through the force of his personality, is starkly at odds with the reality of his history of being a miserable jerk. How does he propose to get an even more solidly Democratic Congress to work with him should he become president, when the only two people he seems to get along with in his current job are Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham (whom McCain regularly belittles)?

Calling himself "the Sheriff" and promising to publicly ridicule members of Congress and "make them famous" for their pork barrel spending, sound more like threats than outreach, meaning that as president, McCain would be fighting like a cat in a paper bag with Congress, rather than working harmoniously with it. Will McCain, who has a history of pissing off his own caucus even more than the Democrats, build consensus like this?

"F--- you," he shouted at Texas Sen. John Cornyn last year.

"Only an a------ would put together a budget like this," he told the former Budget Committee chairman, Sen. Pete Domenici, in 1999.

"I'm calling you a f------ jerk!" he once retorted to Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley.

With Cornyn, he smoothed things over quickly. The two argued during a meeting on immigration legislation; Cornyn complained that McCain seemed to parachute in during the final stages of negotiations. "F--- you. I know more about this than anyone else in the room," McCain reportedly shouted.

... or like this:

February 6, 2006

The Honorable Barack Obama
United States Senate
SH-713
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Obama:

I would like to apologize to you for assuming that your private assurances to me regarding your desire to cooperate in our efforts to negotiate bipartisan lobbying reform legislation were sincere. When you approached me and insisted that despite your leadership’s preference to use the issue to gain a political advantage in the 2006 elections, you were personally committed to achieving a result that would reflect credit on the entire Senate and offer the country a better example of political leadership, I concluded your professed concern for the institution and the public interest was genuine and admirable. Thank you for disabusing me of such notions with your letter to me dated February 2, 2006, which explained your decision to withdraw from our bipartisan discussions. I’m embarrassed to admit that after all these years in politics I failed to interpret your previous assurances as typical rhetorical gloss routinely used in politics to make self-interested partisan posturing appear more noble. Again, sorry for the confusion, but please be assured I won’t make the same mistake again.

What John McCain is promising Americans is more contention, more drama (his campaign is like a circus freak show) and more rancor, even as he's paying lip service to offering more bipartisanship and consensus. Besides, if he wins, isn't one of the Senators he'd have to reach across the aisle and work with named Barack Obama?

Meanwhile, far, far away in the land down under, we're getting a taste of what the world might look like under a McCain presidency. In short: it will look a lot like the world under a George Bush presidency. Not only is McCain being dismissed by the Aussie press -- Rupert Murdoch controlled though it is -- scroll down to the comments under this post and you get the idea that the citizens of the world won't like or respect us any more under McCain than they do under Dubya.

Just for fun, Melissa McEwan has compiled Senator McNasty's greatest hits.


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posted by JReid @ 9:28 AM  
Pork saves the day!
How do you pass an economic rescue plan that gets Republican votes? Pork! Apparently, conservatives love it as much as Dems do. The Murdoch Post points out some of the gimmies:
Stuffed into the 451- page bill are more than $1.7 billion worth of targeted tax breaks to be doled out for a sty full of eyebrow-raising purposes over the next decade.

The special provisions include tax breaks for:

* Manufacturers of kids' wooden arrows - $6 million.

* Puerto Rican and Virgin Is- lands rum producers - $192 million.

* Wool research.

* Auto-racing tracks - $128 million.

* Corporations operating in American Samoa - $33 million.

* Small- to medium-budget film and television productions - $10 million.

Another measure inserted into the bill appears to be a bald-faced bid aimed at winning the support of Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who voted against the original version when it went down in flames in the House on Monday.

That provision - a $223 million package of tax benefits for fishermen and others whose livelihoods suffered as a result of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill - has been the subject of fervent lobbying by Alaska's congressional delegation.

Lots of the breaks and set-asides are designed for "rural communities." Here's just a few from the Library of Congress summary of the bill:
Farm Service Agency
Rural Housing Service
RURAL HOUSING INSURANCE PROGRAM ACCOUNT
RURAL COMMUNITY FACILITIES PROGRAM ACCOUNT
Rural Business--Cooperative Service
RURAL BUSINESS ENTERPRISE GRANTS
RURAL DEVELOPMENT LOAN FUND PROGRAM ACCOUNT
Rural Utilities Service
RURAL WATER AND WASTE DISPOSAL PROGRAM ACCOUNT
... again, aimed squarely at red staters, who by the way, are the biggest consumers of federal pork -- by a long shot.

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posted by JReid @ 7:28 AM  
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
And now, for the funniest Fox News video EVER
Watch for the old couple near the back. Priceless.

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posted by JReid @ 9:52 PM  
McCain shoos Politico reporter
This is hilarious. Check out this testy exchange between our would-be commander in chief and a member of the Fourth Estate:

We just followed McCain down the steps following the vote to ask him about the reaction of House Republicans to the vote.

He didn't appreciate the company.

McCain: "Excuse me, you're bothering me."

Politico: "I'm bothering you?"

McCain: "Excuse me, I have to go."

Why not just tell the reporter to get off your lawn?

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posted by JReid @ 9:49 PM  
74-25
The Senate passes the "economic rescue bill" by a wide margin, after loading it with good old fashioned gimmes (corporate and AMT tax cuts, rural school funding, raising the FDIC limit to $250,000, mental health parity and all the lard that makes John McCain's head spin, but which are the way business gets done in "Warshington." ... am I the only one who finds it ironic that the way to woo conservative Republicans is to give them more pork?) ... and they do it on the day Obama heads back to the Senate and gives a speech in the well. Poor McCain. He wasn't even involved, other than to vote for the package, too. The Senators are gratuitously thanking each other now. The House tries again on Friday. With the goodies packed in for them, they should approve.

UPDATE: The "nos" -- here's the roll call:

Allard (R)
Barasso (R)
Brownback (R)
Bunning (R)
Cantwell (D)
Cochran (R)
Crapo (R)
DeMint (R)
Dole (R)
Dorgan (D)
Enzi (R)
Feingold (D)
Inhofe (R)
Johnson (D)
Landrieu (D)
Nelson (FL) (D)
Roberts (R)
Sanders (I)
Sessions (R)
Shelby (R)
Stabenow (D)
Tester (D)
Vitter (R)
Wicker (R)
Wyden (D)

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posted by JReid @ 9:41 PM  
How to debate Sarah Palin
A bit of free advice to Joe Biden in his debate tomorrow with Sarah:

1. Pretend she isn't stupid -- The available video suggests Gov. Palin is actually a pretty good debater, and a master at diffusing specifics with shiny, pleasant sounding generalities. Besides, you get no points for treating her like an idiot, no matter how dumb she might sound. So no matter how absurdly general her answers, treat them seriously, and treat her like she's a serious politician, and an equal. Refer to her as "Governor," not "Sarah," and try not to make faces when she's talking that translate on television as "oh my god, what a moron!" See Katie Couric's therapist-like interview faces for reference.

2. Don't be snide -- Governor Palin isn't good at putting together complex thoughts, and she isn't in possession of a lot of words, but she does do one thing well: the snide laugh line. She'll probably have one or two zingers rehearsed for Thursday night, and when she drops them, be prepared with a snappy, but jovial, comeback. Let her come off as the nasty one.

3. Don't be a smarty-pants -- Unfortunately, Americans don't seem to like the smartest kid in the room. Even when the country is going down in flames, most prefer someone they like, to someone who seems to know more. Keep your answers short and simple, and not larded up with "I've been theres" and "I know that leaders" -- just ask John McCain. It doesn't work.

4. Don't look at her legs -- One of Palin's key strategies could be taglined, "pretty always wins." Since she's a "conservative" brand of "feminist," she's not above using her looks to her advantage. That's why she wore her hair down in the Fox News interview -- she knows that the geezers who watch that station like a little cake on their plate. And she wears skirts that highlight her lower limbs. So whatever you do, don't look down (if the debate is behind podiums, apply the same advice to her cleavage area.)

5. Don't go easy on her -- A tie goes to Ms. Palin, who will get tremendous credit from both the punditocracy and the public if she literally doesn't drool or fall on the floor. So hit the issues hard, without making it about her. Your target during the debate should be John McCain, and Palin figures in only to the extent that you can tie her beliefs and policies to his, and to the extent that her shortcomings point out HIS irresponsibility in putting her on the ticket. Let the moderator point out her dubious record and odd past performances. One exception: do use the phrase "bridge to nowhere" sometime during the 90 minutes, and feel free to point out Alaska's penchant for earmarks and pork. Those issues are relevant because they expose McCain's hypocrisy.

2. Don't count on her to stumble -- Gov. Palin will be so completely rehearsed and robotically programmed by the Rovites, she almost can't screw this thing up. Besides, to repeat, a tie goes to her, and if she gets through the 90 minutes without spitting up, crying or forgetting who the current president of the United States is, most of the media chattering class will declare her the winner, just for beating expectations.

Make no mistake: Biden (who I believe won a couple of those primary debates, though he didn't get credit for it) can't just turn in a so-so performance and walk away unscathed. He has to actually WIN this debate, by being more knowledgeable than (which is a foregone conclusion) but also just as charming, as Sarah Palin. Otherwise he'll be the one being ridiculed on SNL this weekend, for losing to a dumb girl.

Cross-posted at TPM Cafe.

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posted by JReid @ 1:11 PM  
The debate bounce, and John McCain's last hope
John McCain's teeth are going to fall out if he clenches them like I think he's gonna clench them after this... Quinnipiac's new polling justifies the internal confidence of the Obama campaign about Florida:
No one has been elected President since 1960 without taking two of these three largest swing states in the Electoral College. Results from the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe- ack) University polls conducted before and after the debate show:

  • Florida: Obama up 49 - 43 percent pre-debate and 51 - 43 percent post-debate;
  • Ohio: Obama up 49 - 42 percent pre-debate and 50 - 42 percent post-debate;
  • Pennsylvania: Obama ahead 49 - 43 percent pre-debate and 54 - 39 percent post-debate. Pre-debate surveys ended at 8 p.m. Friday with post-debate surveys Saturday-Monday.
More than 84 percent of voters in each state say the debate did not change their mind. But by margins of 13 to 17 percent, voters in each state say Obama did a better job in the debate. And by margins of 15 to 27 percent, independent voters in each state say Obama won.

"It is difficult to find a modern competitive presidential race that has swung so dramatically, so quickly and so sharply this late in the campaign. In the last 20 days, Sen. Barack Obama has gone from seven points down to eight points up in Florida, while widening his leads to eight points in Ohio and 15 points in Pennsylvania," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

"Sen. John McCain has his work cut out for him if he is to win the presidency and there does not appear to be a role model for such a comeback in the last half century," Brown added.

"Sen. McCain's problem is not with this or that demographic group. Although he still leads among white men, albeit by a smaller margin, his problems are across the electorate.

"Sen. Obama clearly won the debate, voters say. Their opinion of Gov. Sarah Palin has gone south and the Wall Street meltdown has been a dagger to McCain's political heart. Roughly a third of voters, and almost as large a share of the key independent vote, say McCain did more harm than good in trying to resolve the financial crisis, and the share of voters who see the economy as the top issue has risen from roughly half to six in ten."

President Bush's approval rating doesn't crack 25% in any of the three key swing states: Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania, McCain only holds five-point leads with white voters and white men in the Sunshine State, and Obama has opened up a 20 ... that's TWENTY point lead among women in the state.
And yet, John McCain could still win this election. How? It's not pretty, but he has to hope that there are enough of three groups in key states to pull things out for him:

1) Republican partisans
2) Evangelicals who think Obama is the Antichrist; and
3) Racist white people

It's not pretty, but that's what it's come down to. Having demonstrated his erratic temperament, inability to lead his own party, fecklessness with the country's interests versus his own, and his utter recklessness -- in short, his unfitness for the office of president, and with George W. Bush's economy hanging around his neck like an anvil, John McCain has one remaining hope of becoming president: he needs for there to be more racist, than non-racist white folks, plus enough knee-jerk partisans and evangelical believers in the most bizarre conspiracy theories about Barack Obama, out there in the country -- and willing to stand in line and vote -- to win.

It's almost like he's from Mississippi instead of Arizona ... oh wait, he IS...

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posted by JReid @ 12:09 PM  
Don't bail on me!
It's the Senate's turn to take up the bailout, though expect far less drama from the grown-ups in the upper chamber (who are laboring under intense pressure from Wall Street and "big business..." and soon, maybe from Main Street, if you believe the new NBC/WaPo poll...) The Senate also has more cookies for temperamental Republicans in their version:

... The Senate bill would raise Federal Deposit Insurance limits to $250,000 from $100,000, as called for presidential nominees Barack Obama and John McCain only hours earlier.

... The Senate measure will graft the bailout language to a tax bill it approved last week, on a 93-2 vote. It includes: a provision to prevent more than 20 million middle-class taxpayers from feeling the bite of the alternative minimum tax, $8 billion in tax relief for those hit by natural disasters in the Midwest, Texas and Louisiana and some $78 billion in renewable energy incentives and extensions of expiring tax breaks.

In a compromise worked out with Republicans, the bill does not pay for the AMT and disaster provisions but does have revenue offsets for part of the energy and extension measures.

That wasn't enough earlier this year for the House, which insisted that there be complete offsets for the energy and extension part of the package.

The Senate version also may include a measure to require health plans for 51 or more employees to give equal treatment to mental health or addiction if they cover such illnesses. The House and Senate have passed similar mental health parity measures, but none has gone to Bush for his signature.

So its cookies and cream all around! And if Obama and Biden back it, Nancy P will be backed into a wee little corner. This as Pelosi and Harry Reid take the extraordinary step of attempting to come to the rescue of President Bush (a man no one trusts, in or out of his party...)

Other bailout news: two Yale professors say: why not just pay off all the delinquent mortgages? The Financial Times has more global doom and gloom. Meanwhile, in the WaPo, CFR conservative Michael Gerson excoriates Nancy Pelosi for her now infamous "mean-girl" speech, and then says this about House Republicans:
... whatever their provocations, pressures and justifications, House Republicans once again revealed the souls of backbenchers -- spouting their ideological purity from atop the ruins of the financial system. The temporary government purchase of bad mortgage debt is not equivalent to the liquidation of the kulaks. Serious conservative thinkers such as Ryan and Cantor, who chose to work within the legislative process, got many of the improvements they sought. But most House Republicans with ideological objections had nothing better to propose and no intention to try. They chose allegiance to abstract principles over practical reality. It is the political philosophy of Samson: Bring down the entire temple to make a political point. In this case, the president, their own congressional leadership, their own presidential candidate and the world economy are now wounded and struggling amid the rubble. I suppose the point is made. But it is a reminder of why Republicans are no longer trusted as the congressional majority.
Ouch...

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posted by JReid @ 3:25 AM  
The John McCain experience
It's hard to listen to John McCain for any length of time and not come away with the sense that he is, as billed by his Senate colleagues, one nasty son-of-a-bitch. Witness his demeanor when being questioned about his veracity and campaign tactics by a Des Moines Register reporter:



Hat tip to Josh Marshall. The rest of the interview is here. McCain's default positions when questioned are to 1) challenge the "premise" of the question, and 2) play the POW card. In this clip, he actually cites Sarah Palin's stint as a PTA mom as legitimate experience to be vice president. Seriously... and he dismisses conservatives who doubt Palin's readiness as the "cocktail party circuit."



Clearly, McCain gets angry when confronted with his own untruths and inconsistencies, especially when they deviate from his chosen narrative of "selfless hero." But even more breathtaking, his immediate response to his own unhappiness is to lie ... even ... more. The man is literally becoming a factory of constant, almost deviant, lying. What's going on? I half expect him to arrive on Capitol Hill tomorrow and promptly vote AGAINST the new bailout try, just to spite Barack.

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posted by JReid @ 2:59 AM  
Shhh! Heard on the street...
Guess who will be rocking the mike, and the vote, for Barack Obama on Sunday? (If you guessed Beyonce's snotty sister's baby's uncle-in-law, you're on track...!) The celebs have been pouring it on for Obama over the last few weeks, with Tyler Perry, Forrest Whitaker, Cynthia Nixon (from Sex in the City), local baller Alonzo Mourning and out-of-towner Patrick Ewing just some of the celebs passing through. Let's guess who's getting the cool kids' vote this year... (by the way, no swearing, Jigga! Fox News is watching...!)

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posted by JReid @ 2:49 AM  
Bubba eruptions

Is it a good thing ... or a very bad thing ... that Bill Clinton is headed to Florida Wednesday? This release went out to media from the Obama campaign late Tuesday:
Wednesday October 1, President Bill Clinton will host ‘Change We Need’ rallies in support of Senator Barack Obama in Orlando and Fort Pierce. Due to unexpected demand, the event in Orlando has been moved to a larger venue: the Arena Plaza at UCF. At both events, President Clinton will urge Floridians to register to vote before the Oct. 6th deadline.

Barack Obama’s Campaign for Change has conducted a comprehensive voter registration effort that has registered thousands of new voters in Florida over the past few months. The former President’s visit kicks off the final push before the Monday deadline.

Both events with President Clinton are free and open to the public. Tickets are not required, but an RSVP is strongly encouraged. Visit FL.barackobama.com to RSVP. Local rock band ‘Independently Poor’ will play before the rally in Fort Pierce.

So which Bill Clinton is going to show up tomorrow? The one who just oozes with love and praise for John McCain (but little more than chills and schadenfreude for Barack Obama) or the one who gave that barn burner of a speech in Denver? Psychoanalyzing Big Bill and his wife have become the "fantasy baseball" for political junkies, and the betting is, Bill really wants to see Obama lose, but in a way that makes it look like he wanted to see Obama win. ... Tomorrow will tell whether Team Obama erred by bringing him here. By the way, Clinton is headed right into I4 territory -- the part of the state Obama must turn blue in order to carry the state without miracle turnout from Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. His job may not exactly be to "hustle up the cracker vote," as he so inartfully put it last week, but it's something very much like that...

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posted by JReid @ 2:35 AM  
ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
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"I am for enhanced interrogation. I don't believe waterboarding is torture... I'll do it. I'll do it for charity." -- Sean Hannity
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