Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Monday, March 16, 2009
The changeling: Meek becomes Obama
Meek's campaign says: when you think Kendrick, think Barack.

If he (and many other Black pols) had gotten his way, Hillary Clinton would have been the Democratic nominee for president in 2008. But politics is about the future, not the past, and Kendrick Meek's future has a whooooole lotta Barack in it.

Meek, who I hear plans to raise $25 million or more for his Senate run, already has Obama's deputy campaign manager Steve Hildebrand, who parked in South Florida for the final stretch of the campaign, on the payroll. Combine that with the Clinton fundraising machine in Miami and beyond (including Timbaland neighbor Chris Korge,) and longtime union friends like SEIU (who surprise! have endorsed him already) and Meek just might pull off that $25 mil and run away with the primary (recent polling here and here). But this campaign solicitation with Hildebrand's name on it might make some die-hard Obamaniacs chuckle:

Dear Joy-Ann,

I was fortunate to spend the final weeks of Barack Obama's campaign in Florida. The experience is one I won't forget -- the inspiration I felt from voters there was unique. My time in the state also gave me the chance to meet great leaders who worked tirelessly to help elect our President.

One leader in particular stood out, and that is Congressman Kendrick Meek. [Emphasis added] He inspired me. His commitment and dedication to helping Barack Obama win the presidency made a real difference. I owe a debt of gratitude to Kendrick for all that he did to help win those 27 critical electoral votes.

The Florida victory was long overdue -- you all know it better than I do. The results of the November 4 elections give Floridians the chance to capitalize on the momentum it provided. So when Kendrick decided to run for the U.S. Senate and make the bold move to get out there early, I asked myself, "Where do I sign up?" ...

... and can they afford my fee!? (spoiler alert: "yes they can.") Okay, maybe that's too cynical. Politics, after all, is the art of the possible, and its possible that Obama supporters no longer care who supported whom during the primary. In fact, most people probably don't. And by Obamatizing his campaign, Kendrick hopes to capitalize on the excitement of the 2008 campaign, particularly among black voters, which is smart. He's also hitting up Obama donors early, the better to raise that $25 mil. Smart times two. And he's going big early to get his name recognition up. Smart move number three.

Still, the idea that Meek was the bestest of all the pro-Obama leaders will likely come as a surprise to Robert Wexler, who was the first politician to endorse Obama in Florida, or to State Sen. Fredrica Wilson (now running for Meek's House seat) who worked tirelessly for Obama dating back to 2007, when she pointedly asked me in August of that year during an interview, how any Black elected official could fail to support an intelligent, qualified candidate like Obama; or to State Sen. Dan Gelber, Meek's main primary opponent at the moment (unless Pam Iorio or Ron Klein get in,) who also endorsed Obama during the primary, and whose campaign manager, Steve Schale, ran the Florida for Obama campaign, or to Manny Diaz or Miami Gardens Mayor Shirly Gibson or all the other pols who stumped for Obama for like, ever.

Then again, it's possible that nobody remembers or cares about any of that stuff, either.

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posted by JReid @ 12:16 PM  
Friday, January 09, 2009
The Friday funnies: Sarah Palin, also too...


It's all part of a media busting "documentary" being filmed by a guy named John Ziegler, who according to a caller on the Stephanie Miller Show today, was seriously picked on in high school, poor thing. He wants you to know that Sarah is not an idiot! It's the evil liberal media that's making you THINK she's an idiot... Also there too, she tells Ziegler that the media bias there, and also too Keith Olbermann, that guy's evil!

Anyhoo, gotta sign off now, cause it's time to practice my fancy pageant walkin'!

Update: Sarah says the mainstream media elite are taking her Ziegler interview out of context. No seriously, she's really saying that...

And U.S. News' Robert Schlessinger says that for her own good, Sarah needs to just go away.

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posted by JReid @ 1:41 PM  
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Guess who's running a surplus?
The Obama camapign. Now all that's left to do is figure out what to do with all the leftover campaign cash. (And yes, I know what the Clintonistas would like him to do with at least $7.5 million of it ...)

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posted by JReid @ 9:11 PM  
William Ayers, in his own words
Bill Ayers today: not a terrorist so much as a college professor.

Now that one of the ugliest political campaigns in memory is over, Bill Ayers, the man demonized as an "unrepentant terrorist" by John McCain and the Palinites, and turned into a sinister "association" in order to try and bring down Barack Obama (clearly without success) finally speaks for himself in a NYT op-ed. On his actions during the Vietnam war:
... I never killed or injured anyone. I did join the civil rights movement in the mid-1960s, and later resisted the draft and was arrested in nonviolent demonstrations. I became a full-time antiwar organizer for Students for a Democratic Society. In 1970, I co-founded the Weather Underground, an organization that was created after an accidental explosion that claimed the lives of three of our comrades in Greenwich Village. The Weather Underground went on to take responsibility for placing several small bombs in empty offices — the ones at the Pentagon and the United States Capitol were the most notorious — as an illegal and unpopular war consumed the nation.

The Weather Underground crossed lines of legality, of propriety and perhaps even of common sense. Our effectiveness can be — and still is being — debated. We did carry out symbolic acts of extreme vandalism directed at monuments to war and racism, and the attacks on property, never on people, were meant to respect human life and convey outrage and determination to end the Vietnam war.

Peaceful protests had failed to stop the war. So we issued a screaming response. But it was not terrorism; we were not engaged in a campaign to kill and injure people indiscriminately, spreading fear and suffering for political ends.



I cannot imagine engaging in actions of that kind today. And for the past 40 years, I’ve been teaching and writing about the unique value and potential of every human life, and the need to realize that potential through education.
And on whether or not he "palled around" with Obama:
... The dishonesty of the narrative about Mr. Obama during the campaign went a step further with its assumption that if you can place two people in the same room at the same time, or if you can show that they held a conversation, shared a cup of coffee, took the bus downtown together or had any of a thousand other associations, then you have demonstrated that they share ideas, policies, outlook, influences and, especially, responsibility for each other’s behavior. There is a long and sad history of guilt by association in our political culture, and at crucial times we’ve been unable to rise above it.

President-elect Obama and I sat on a board together; we lived in the same diverse and yet close-knit community; we sometimes passed in the bookstore. We didn’t pal around, and I had nothing to do with his positions. I knew him as well as thousands of others did, and like millions of others, I wish I knew him better.

That enough for you, Palinites? How about you, Hannity? Likely not, but then, the country has demonstrated what use they have for your opinions.

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posted by JReid @ 7:32 PM  
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Richardson claims the boobie prize
... or did he really make out like a bandit? New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who endorsed Barack Obama at great political and personal risk (those Clintons are pretty scary, man) during a crucial moment in the campaign, went before the press to accept Obama's offer to become his commerce secretary. Only everybody -- and I mean everybody -- knows he really wanted State, the prize that went to his former boss' wife, and the woman whom he had jilted during the campaign.

So if you're Richardson, are you thinking to yourself, "man, did I shave off my cool beard and get called a Judas by James Carville for THIS crappy job?" Or ... you're asking yourself, what is going to be THE focus of the new administration's attention at the start ... foreign policy? Yeah, that'll be there. But the real answer is: it's the economy, stupid. So maybe being commerce secretary won't be so bad ... but I'll still bet he's thinking "damn, the bruja still got the better of me!"

To the New York Times:

President-elect Barack Obama named Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico as his choice for secretary of commerce on Wednesday, pointedly denying that the job was a “consolation prize” for the two-time cabinet officer who had been considered a candidate for secretary of state.

“Commerce secretary is a pretty good job,” Mr. Obama said, after being asked by a Hispanic reporter about the appointment of Mr. Richardson to a post not considered among the cabinet’s more prestigious or influential.

The president-elect said that his nominee would be dealing with the economy, the most significant issue facing the new administration, and added that “his mixture of diplomatic experience, hands-on experience as governor, experience in the cabinet, experience in Congress, means that he is going to be a key strategist on all the issues that we work on.”

“I think the notion that somehow commerce secretary is not going to be central to everything we do is fundamentally mistaken.”

In addition, Mr. Obama — who has filled about half of his cabinet and White House staff jobs — said that by the time he was done his administration would be seen as among the most diverse ever put together.

Mr. Richardson was the first cabinet nominee to be presented on his own by Mr. Obama rather than as part of a group, which some saw as a gesture of consolation.

And there was another nugget during the presser that hints at why Obama may have thought Richardson, who has been energy secretary, among many other things, right for the particular job he got:
With Mr. Richardson at his side, Mr. Obama underscored his nominee’s capabilities, saying that the governor had the background to help create “green” jobs, support U.S. exports and “start laying the groundwork for long-term prosperity.”

“Bill has seen from just about every angle what makes our economy work and what keeps it from working better,” Mr. Obama said as the two stood on the stage of a Chicago hotel ballroom where the president-elect has spent the last two weeks introducing members of his new team.

And there's the very real fact that the commerce department is going to have to work hand in hand with extranational governments and multinationals, including in the now long-neglected region to our south: Latin America. Richardson is uniquely positioned to get that done.

So maybe it's not such a boobie prize after all, but rather a strategic move on Obama's part, that makes more sense than just giving Richardson the ego boost of heading the State Department.

Next up: Obama will likely soothe the National Latino Congress by tapping Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, either for HUD or for an as-yet unformed "urban czar" position. Diaz spent a lot of time stumping for the campaign, and likely charmed his way into a decent job. Put money on it.



Meanwhile, watch the announcement:




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posted by JReid @ 7:14 PM  
Friday, November 28, 2008
10 Things to be thankful for
Well, the bird has met its demise (even without Sarah Palin looking on,) the tryptophan has kicked in (I overslept and had to do my radio show by phone this morning, but Roland Martin was great! And those two glasses of wine didn't help!) ... and I'm going to make it through Black Friday without having to tramp through a mall (I refuse. Sorry, kids.) So now, since I've been skipping out on my blogging duties of late, here are ten things I think we can all be thankful for:

#1. Sarah Palin. She brought so much joy and laughter during the campaign, with her kooky vocab and inability to articulate her thoughts in anything resembling adult English. And she put the nail in John McCain's campaign coffin (sorry if that sounds like an age joke,) ensuring, even if he really couldn't have done so anyway,) that he wouldn't win. Thus, Sarah helped spare the country from four more years of Bush-like policies, along with the spectacle of herself playing a Bizarro World, Hilbilly Princess Di to McCain's doddering Charles. You betcha!

#2. John McCain. When he wandered in front of that camera during the town hall style debate, he made my year. Serioiusly. And by so debasing himself during the campaign, McCain has all but ensured that his rehabilitation will involve helping Barack Obama get much of his domestic agenda through the Senate. Thanks, Grandpa! (And thank Joe the Plumber for us when you see him next. Oh, that's right, you're not gonna see him again, because he's irrelevant.)

#3. Steve Schmidt. What a maroon. See #s 1 and 2 above.

#4. Right wing talk radio. Those of us who already thought you were irrelevant blowhards just weren't getting through until you called the Senator from Illinois a terrorist, Marxist Socialist and America elected him anyway. Thanks guys! By the way, Glenn, are you serious about seceding? If so, let me know what the rest of us can do to help you along.

#5. American voters. Well, 52 percent of them, anyway.

$6. Barack Obama. Yes we did.

#7. Tina Fey. See #1 above.

#8. David Letterman. See #2 above.

#9. Fox News. See #4 above. And what will you do at those press conferences now?

and last, but not least...

#10. George W. Bush. No, seriously. Had he not been such a rotten president, we might not be here, on the brink of positive change. And he's been damned funny to listen to over the last eight years, even as he was screwing up the world.

Oh, wait! One more thing! I'm also thankful for this video. Enjoy!



Happy Thanksgiving!!!

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posted by JReid @ 12:14 PM  
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Does listening to Sarah Palin talk make you dumber?

A Facebook commenter on CNN said she feels dumber every time she hears the Wasila Queen speak. Here, listen to the titular leader of the Republican Party (smirk) speaking to fellow GOP governors in Miami and see for yourself:



According to CNN's Rick Sanchez, netowork reporter Dana Bash was at the Intercontintal Hotel for the earlier, awkward press conference during which she was flanked by a smattering of unhappy looking conservative fellow governos and which was abruptly cut off after a few minutes by Rick Perry (heretofre to be referred to as Ellie Mae and the Socially Conservatie Pips.)

Not a lot of clapping went on during what sounded an awful lot like Sarah's campaign stump speech. Hell, she even mentioned Joe the Plumber, Tito the Builder, (What? No Bob???) Jack the Dishwasher, there, Pip the pit bull trainer, Jack the Janitor and not to be forgotten: Sweetie the laid off teacher turned call girl. Okay, maybe not ALL of those, also.

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posted by JReid @ 3:53 PM  
You can't do that: convicted felon re-election edition
The latest on the Alaska Senate recount: Mark Begich has pulled ahead of convicted felon Ted Stevens by 814 votes. Sorry, Sarah, there...

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posted by JReid @ 11:01 AM  
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
... and talking, and talking, and talking...
... and talking ...

The Alaska governor said in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer that she would be willing to help if Obama asked her for assistance on some of the issues she highlighted during this year's campaign, such as energy or services for special-needs children.

"It would be my honor to assist and support our new president and the new administration," said Palin, whom Sen. John McCain chose as his running mate in August.

"I speak for other Republicans and Republican governors, also," she said.

"They would be willing also to seize this opportunity that we have to progress this nation together, in a united front."
... and talking in the exact opposite manner as she was just talking:
BLITZER: Because, you know, during a campaign, every presidential campaign, things are said, it's tough, as you well know, it gets sometimes pretty fierce out there. And during the campaign, you said this, you said: "This is not a man who sees America as you see it and how I see America."

And then you went on to say: "Someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect that he is palling around with terrorists who would target their own country."

PALIN: Well, I still am concerned about that association with Bill Ayers. And if anybody still wants to talk about it, I will, because this is an unrepentant domestic terrorist who had campaigned to blow up, to destroy our Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol. That's an association that still bothers me.

And I think it's still fair to talk about it. However the campaign is over. That chapter is closed. Now is the time to move on and to, again, make sure that all of us are doing all that we can to progress this nation.
Hey! Sarah! That thing ... that Wolf handed you there ... it was a SHOVEL. Stop using it!

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posted by JReid @ 6:28 PM  
Forgive McCain, punish Lieberman
If I had to sum up what I hope Senate Democrats' operating principle would be, that would be it. To my way of thinking, John McCain ran a dispicable campaign, allowing himself to become a captive of the very right wingers he used to despise, and handing his reputation over to the same Bushites and neocons who proved, via Collin Powell, what they thought of lofty reputations. His pick of Sarah Palin (or his agreement with the pick) proved that he really was oblivious to what most Americans were concerned about, or that he had started listening to too much right wing talk radio.

That said, John McCain was, after all, a Republican running against a Democrat for president. A certain amount of dirty pool isn't unexpected. More importantly, McCain could be an important partner for the Obama administration going forward, if he can manage to put aside his personal disdain for the incoming president, and his bitterness over the election, and return to his "gang of 14" roots. McCain could provide, and deliver, key votes from the few remaining moderate Republicans (like Miss Lindsey Graham) on everything from immigration to healthcare. Democrats should try to put aside his awful, gutter campaign, and embrace him once again.

Joe Lieberman is another matter.

Lieberman's betrayal of his supposed party and future president were so total, and so slimy, he should face swift and merciless retribution. He went beyond just endorsing his friend, McCain, to become a right wing hatchet man. His desperation to pursue the Iraq war until the end of time is so total, that the difference between him and your average neocon is immaterial. (Before McCain, his previous hug-buddy was none other than George W. Bush.) And his endorsement of Sarah Palin, a completely unserious choice whose elevation as vice president would surely have jeopardize both the standing and the stability of the country, was unforgivable. He ought to have known better, and should now be ridden out of the Democratic caucus on a rail, and if he chooses to caucus with the GOP, so be it. I'd like to see him try to get re-elected in Connecticut in four years if he starts voting the way he warbled during the election. Oh, and the GOP is going to repay his whoring by running a strong candidate against him in 2012. Happy holidays, Joe!

There's also a pragmatic reason for punishing Lieberman, at the least, by taking away his gavel on the Homeland Security committee, and to prevent him to ascending the throne at Armes Services: okay two. One is that Lieberman could very well use his position to try and force Obama to cleve to the neocon line on national security matters, including Iraq, or to undermine him in other ways. The other is that Harry Reid, who doesn't enjoy universal respect out here in Demland, needs to establish both his authority, and the precedent that if a Democrat strays that far out of bounds, there are consequences. Otherwise, what's to stop other conservative Dems from doing as Joe did, in 2012, or even to campaign against Democratic Senators two years from now? Hell, what's to stop JOE from doing so???

Meanwhile, TPM's Greg Sergeant reports that Harry Reid has decided to put Joe's fate up for a vote:

The full Democratic caucus will vote on whether Joe Lieberman is allowed to keep his chairmanship of the Homeland Security committee at its caucus meeting next week, a leadership aide confirms to us.

Previously, Reid's office had held this possibility out but hadn't made a final decision on whether to throw Lieberman's fate to the full Dem caucus for a vote.

In the wake of Obama's statement today that he doesn't hold any "grudges" against Lieberman and his decision not to take a position on whether Lieberman keeps his chairmanship, I emailed a leadership aide to ask whether the vote would definitely go forward. His response:

"Yes -- this is a decision that will be made by the caucus next week. Absent a stunning series of events there will be a vote next week in the caucus on whether to strip Senator Lieberman of the chairmanship."

That would appear to make it official.

Meanwhile, the reporting of Sergeant, the Huffpo and others suggests Joe is losing support in the caucus, and he may only hold on to the six Democratic members of the gang of 14. Chris Bowers at OpenLeft (who has personal familiarity with Harry Reid's office,) offers a handy guide to the whip count.

Now would be a good time to call your Senator. Here in Florida, it looks like Bill Nelson, one of several conservative Senate Dems, is in the tank for Lieberman. Not a good look, but he's only one vote. Contact him here:

Washington, D.C. Office
United States Senate
716 Senate Hart Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-5274
Fax: 202-228-2183

Or you can email him here. Or find your own Senator here. If you do call or email, be respectful. You catch more flies with honey, and all that...



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posted by JReid @ 12:41 PM  
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
The new heart of darkness


Barack Obama won 29 states in the November election, but he won something more important: he improved Democrats' performance in all but 22 counties nationwide, among white voters, urban and suburban voters, Catholics, low income and high income voters, and among more educated voters all over the U.S. His remarkable success among a coalition of better educated white voters, Hispanics, African-Americans and young voters not only propelled him to victory, and helped secure 2012 (the demographics are moving even more his way,) his successful campaign marginalized and isolated a region of the country that used to rule it electorally: the American south. The New York Times reports today:
What may have ended on Election Day, though, is the centrality of the South to national politics. By voting so emphatically for Senator John McCain over Mr. Obama — supporting him in some areas in even greater numbers than they did President Bush — voters from Texas to South Carolina and Kentucky may have marginalized their region for some time to come, political experts say.

The region’s absence from Mr. Obama’s winning formula means it “is becoming distinctly less important,” said Wayne Parent, a political scientist at Louisiana State University. “The South has moved from being the center of the political universe to being an outside player in presidential politics.”

Why is that so?

One reason for that is that the South is no longer a solid voting bloc. Along the Atlantic Coast, parts of the “suburban South,” notably Virginia and North Carolina, made history last week in breaking from their Confederate past and supporting Mr. Obama. Those states have experienced an influx of better educated and more prosperous voters in recent years, pointing them in a different political direction than states farther west, like Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, and Appalachian sections of Kentucky and Tennessee.

Southern counties that voted more heavily Republican this year than in 2004 tended to be poorer, less educated and whiter, a statistical analysis by The New York Times shows. Mr. Obama won in only 44 counties in the Appalachian belt, a stretch of 410 counties that runs from New York to Mississippi. Many of those counties, rural and isolated, have been less exposed to the diversity, educational achievement and economic progress experienced by more prosperous areas.
Many people in these more rural, less educated and less progressive parts of the South and Appalachia remain deeply suspicious of Obama (they form the core of what I call the Palinites -- anti-Washington, anti-government, anti-big city and anti-intellectual, not to mention anti-not-white...) people like this guy, for instance ... (sorry, Lee County. Just try not to get pulled over if you're a Democrat... or if you have a Middle Eastern sounding name...) But for them, and for the country, that doesn't really matter much anymore, at least not electorally or in terms of the exercise of federal power:

Less than a third of Southern whites voted for Mr. Obama, compared with 43 percent of whites nationally. By leaving the mainstream so decisively, the Deep South and Appalachia will no longer be able to dictate that winning Democrats have Southern accents or adhere to conservative policies on issues like welfare and tax policy, experts say.

That could spell the end of the so-called Southern strategy, the doctrine that took shape under President Richard M. Nixon in which national elections were won by co-opting Southern whites on racial issues. And the Southernization of American politics — which reached its apogee in the 1990s when many Congressional leaders and President Bill Clinton were from the South — appears to have ended.
Florida (along with Virginia and North Carolina, and very nearly Georgia,) managed to escape the hold of the old Confederacy, and emerged as a shaky in parts, but fairly solid, part of the New, Suburban South. That's a good thing for Florida, which along with the North Carolina research triangle, is fighting to be a part of the high tech future, and to gain a foothold as a tech hub for Latin America. It's also good news for moderate Republicans like FL Gov. Charlie Crist, who is no Palinite, and who needs a progressive, moderate coalition to beat back what will surely be an aggressive Democratic challenge for his seat in 2010.

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posted by JReid @ 12:15 PM  
Monday, November 10, 2008
70
Sorry, wingers. Obama's approval rating is damned good going in. Your guy? Not so much...

PRINCETON, NJ -- Monday's White House meeting between President George W. Bush and President-elect Barack Obama presents a remarkable contrast between one of the least popular two-term presidents in modern times at the close of his administration, and one of the most popular candidates to win the presidency.

According to Gallup Poll Daily tracking from Nov. 6-8, only 27% of Americans approve of the job Bush is doing as president. This contrasts with the 70% of Americans holding a favorable view of Obama.

6pnw_gvme0m8pokhjojj0q

Meanwhile, consumer confidence is also up slightly following Obama's election.

And about that Bush-Obama meeting... and the crowds gather...

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posted by JReid @ 6:31 PM  
Throw him overboard
Joe Lieberman stumps for his candidate of choice: John McCain

Jane Hamsher, blogging at at the Daily Beast makes as good a case against Revoltin' Joe as I've read, including his penchant for lying, back-stabbing, race-baiting, and self serving threats to become a Republican. I say, let him. Here's Hamsher:
Where to begin? Well, let’s start in 2000, when Senator Joseph Lieberman, the Democratic candidate for vice president—in response to pressure from the Bush campaign and without checking with his own campaign—conceded hundreds of fraudulent overseas ballots supposedly from military voters that cost Al Gore the election, the notorious "Thanksgiving Stuffing."

Let's skip lightly over Lieberman’s part in the culture wars, his sanctimonious rebuke of President Clinton on the floor of the Senate at the start of the impeachment charade, and his critical role as part of the so-called “Gang of 14” breaking Democratic resistance to putting Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court. Let’s jump straight to Lieberman’s December 6, 2005 speech where he rebuked his party:

It is time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be Commander-in-Chief for three more critical years, and that in matters of war we undermine presidential credibility at our nation's peril.

While Lieberman was quick to denounce Clinton for a private matter he leaped to the defense of Bush as even Republicans realized his strategy in the Iraq War was disastrous. Criticize George W. Bush and his conduct of the war and you're a traitor.

Lieberman subsequently told the New Haven Register that he opposed legislation that would have required all publicly funded hospitals to provide Plan B contraception to rape victims, saying "it shouldn't take more than a short ride to get to another hospital" (for which he earned himself the sobriquet "Short Ride.")

The 2006 Democratic primary campaign in Connecticut was in some respects a warm-up for Lieberman’s negative attacks on Barack Obama, ironic given that Obama endorsed him. Lieberman had been assigned to show the freshman the ropes in the Senate and Obama called him his “mentor.” Obama rushed to the state to deliver a ringing endorsement of Lieberman at the annual party dinner. No good deed goes unpunished.

Lieberman’s opponent, Ned Lamont, was a wealthy banker from Greenwich, an antiwar activist and gentlemanly. Supported by the Democratic establishment, Lieberman claimed he would abide by the results of the primary. But when he lost he ran as a member of a new political party, called the “Connecticut for Lieberman Party.” He blanketed cars in parking lots of African-American churches with flyers suggesting Lamont was racist. (Lamont had resigned from a country club, not because it practiced discrimination but because he felt it was not diverse enough.) Meanwhile, Lieberman stoked racial tensions by telling Jewish groups in Connecticut saying that Lamont had surrounded himself with people like Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Al Sharpton "who are either naïve or are isolationists or, frankly, some more explicitly against Israel."

Lieberman also declared himself a "non combatant" in the 2006 congressional races and refused to say which party should have the majority. The Bush White House and Karl Rove openly lent him support, winning him a vast majority of Republican votes and the election.

It goes on. Read the rest of the story here.

Lieberman asks for his knife back. Cartoon by Mike Lukovich

Meanwhile, Politico empanels the panel on whether Joe should go. And over at the Guardian, Michael Tomasky writes:
I think Reid and the Democrats do want to strip Lieberman of his chairmanship of the Homeland Security committee. That's a powerful and important committee. And remember, committee chairs have subpoena power. If Democrats are less than anxious to hand that power to a guy who supported the GOP nominee and repeatedly said that Obama wasn't qualified to be commander-in-chief and so on, can you blame them? I can't.

At the same time, I can see why Reid wants Lieberman to keep caucusing with the Democrats. First of all, three Senate races are still up in the air. Wins in all of those three could bring them to 59, and Lieberman would then become that precious 60th senator. Of course this doesn't mean that Lieberman would vote with the Democrats all the time, and clearly he would not most measures having to do with Iraq withdrawal. But on many domestic matters I'd assume he would.

Another question: What exactly do the Republicans have to offer Lieberman? They have no power -- no committee chairs, no nothing. If Lieberman jumps, it would be bad for his state and constituents. Also, one could well wonder how Nutmeg Staters (people from Connecticut; as far as I know there is no such word as "Connecticutters" or anything like that) would feel about suddenly having a Republican senator on their hands. Every county in the state went for Obama, by strong margins, too. There's little doubt that a recall petition would be commenced. I don't know how far it would get, but surely someone would try, and it would get lots of attention.

... and he concludes that whatever nice-making he's doing now, Reid has little choice but to show Lieberman the door, as regards his chairmanship. (So get it done already, Harry.)

Meanwhile, Steve Clemons offers more well deserved harsh words, and a possible compromise:

Joe Lieberman wants to keep his status and committees and caucus with the Democrats. He has been a fear-monger and someone who has promoted a dangerous, reckless false choice between American relations with Israel and other parts of the Middle East. He is a devout neoconservative who has been a key enabler of many of the most nefarious groups that promoted the Iraq War and who want a series of new wars in the region.

But more than that, he strongly supported someone a heartbeat away from the presidency who knew virtually nothing about America's place in the world, who knew nothing of American history and its leaders and conventions and founders.

Lieberman is dangerous on so many levels -- and he has not apologized for any of his positions or offered any explanation that should make Americans feel comfortable with this Senator in the next four years as Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security.

If Dems would like to keep Joe Lieberman in the caucus, give him responsibility for education policy, telecom policy, health care -- but the price for the Dems keeping this fearmonger is that he be removed from any position with key responsibility for national security or domestic security matters.

To which Tim Starks blogs from Deutsche Welle:

There is, however, one major problem with the idea. Lieberman, by committee seniority, is not very well poised to take over some of the panels The Note's Steve Clemons recommends giving him. He already has a couple subcommittee chairmanships, one of which would be stripped under this compromise because it's on the Armed Services Committee. Would the chairwoman of the Environment & Public Works Committee step aside to make room for Lieberman, or would the other senator more senior on the panel do so? It's hard to imagine they'd relish the idea of being robbed of authority that would result in anything nice happening to Lieberman. The one committee where Lieberman is best positioned to take over without any intramural fights is the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee -- not the most glamorous assignment, but maybe enough for Lieberman to save face and maintain some power in the Senate.

Or they could just strip him of his chairmanship and let him caucus with the GOP. Be well rid of him. On domestic matters, he'll still vote Democrat, if he wants to keep his Senate seat and not be turned out like a two-dollar whore by the voters of Connecticut.

UPDATE: Obama's vote? Spare the traitor. (I disagree, but I understand why he'd make that gesture.) But if the comments on this Hartford Courant thread are any indication, the voters of Connecticut may not be feeling so generous. Can they wait four years to get rid of Joe Double Cross? They may have to. There are no recalls for U.S. Senators under current law. Impeachment may another matter, though I'm not certain. Could be worth a stroll through the good old Constitution...


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posted by JReid @ 12:17 PM  
Dear Republican Party: Please nominate this woman for president in 2012
Sarah defends herself also...



Yours sincerely, the Democrats :)

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posted by JReid @ 8:45 AM  
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Whiplash
For many former critics of Barack Obama, now that he's president-elect, he's A.O.K.

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posted by JReid @ 3:37 PM  
What the butler saw
Eugene Allen served in the White House for three decades.

The LA Times has a moving, beautifully written account of Eugene Allen, a black man who served as White House butler to eight presidents. An excerpt:
President Truman called him Gene. President Ford liked to talk golf with him. He saw eight presidential administrations come and go, often working six days a week.

"I never missed a day of work," Allen said.

He was there while racial history was made: Brown vs. Board of Education, the Little Rock school crisis, the 1963 March on Washington, the cities burning, the civil rights bills, the assassinations.

When he started at the White House in 1952, he couldn't even use the public restrooms when he ventured back to his native Virginia. "We had never had anything," Allen, 89, recalled of black America at the time. "I was always hoping things would get better."

In its long history, the White House -- note the name -- has had a complex and vexing relationship with black Americans.

"The history is not so uneven at the lower level, in the kitchen," said Ted Sorensen, who served as counselor to President Kennedy. "In the kitchen, the folks have always been black. Even the folks at the door -- black."

Read the rest here. You'll be glad you did.

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posted by JReid @ 3:28 PM  
Friday, November 07, 2008
The price of voting red
I wonder if the voters of Utah, who favored McCain-Palin nearly two-to-one over Obama-Biden, and who have voted Republican since time immemorial, cherish their parks and lands as much as they cherish the Grand Old Party...
Gale Norton has to be happy. In 2003, Ms. Norton, then President Bush’s secretary of the interior (and now a senior oil executive at Royal Dutch Shell), struck a deal with the governor of Utah that would open about 3 million pristine acres of federal land to oil and gas drilling.

Environmental groups and the courts managed to keep the drillers at bay. No longer. In the last few days, the Bureau of Land Management has completed six long-range management plans for Utah that will expose these acres (and as many as 6 million more) to some form of commercial exploitation.

On Tuesday, the bureau announced that it would soon begin selling oil and gas leases — essentially the right to drill — in some of the most beautiful and fragile areas.

Conservationists are aghast, and rightly so. Apparently without consulting the National Parks Service, one of its sister agencies at the Interior Department, the bureau plans to auction more than two dozen leases adjacent to Arches National Park and very close to Canyonlands National Park, risking the parks’ air and water.

Also on the auction block, among other rare and spectacular vistas, is Desolation Canyon, so named by the explorer John Wesley Powell in 1869 while he traveled down the Green River to the Grand Canyon.

This sort of pillage would be hard to justify even if Utah’s reserves were large enough to make a difference, which they are not. The Energy Information Administration says that Utah has 2.5 percent of the country’s known natural gas reserves and less than 1 percent of its known oil reserves. And even if those reserves were worth going after, it would still be essential to protect areas of special cultural, scenic and recreational value.

The Interior Department’s writ is to manage the public lands for “multiple uses,” a difficult and ambiguous task. The Clinton administration issued many leases but tried hard to balance the competing claims of commerce and nature; the Bush administration heard only the voice of Vice President Dick Cheney and his one-sided mantra of “drill now, drill everywhere.” ...

What would John McCain's supposed hero, Teddy Roosevelt, think?

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posted by JReid @ 6:49 PM  
Thursday, November 06, 2008
The long knives come out, and Frum to the rescue?
The opposition eats itself alive as the post-disaster blame game begins. RedState goes after David Frum for proposing that the GOP jettison the Palinites, and then helps launch a war against anybody who they feel is trashing their girl. First, what Frum said:
In the wake of yesterday’s bruising result, the Republican party faces an excruciating and divisive choice between two very different futures.

The first choice is the choice on display at the excited rallies that cheered Sarah Palin all through the fall. This is a choice to fall back on the core base of the Republican party. The base is almost entirely white, almost entirely resident in the middle of the country, moderately affluent, middle-aged and older, more male than female, with some college education but not a college degree. Think of Joe the Plumber and you see the core of the Republican party. ...

... There’s another. It’s the path that begins by facing up to the arithmetic that says – Joe is no longer enough. God bless him, he’s the GOP base, and no Republican wants to lose him. But he needs reinforcements.
For Frummy, those reinforcements are not Latinos or Black folk ... they're long gone for the GOP. For Frum, the reinforcements are, in two words, smart people:
College-educated Americans have come to believe that their money is safe with Democrats – but that their values are under threat from Republicans. And there are more and more of these college-educated Americans all the time.

So the question for the GOP is: Will it pursue them? To do so will involve painful change, on issues ranging from the environment to abortion. And it will involve potentially even more painful changes of style and tone: toward a future that is less overtly religious, less negligent with policy, and less polarizing on social issues. That’s a future that leaves little room for Sarah Palin – but the only hope for a Republican recovery.
Yeah, good luck with that, Dave. The GOP has made a conscious decision to reject smart people, in favor of blunt-edged jingoism, social issues, and convincing less educated, low income white voters to cheerlead for wealth hoarding by rich people who wouldn't let those same lower income white voters mow their lawns. That's their thing, and they're most likely going to stick to it. ... That and saying "Ronald Reagan" a lot...

Meanwhile, National Review misses the point on the Prop 8 win in California (and the Amendment 2 win in Florida, if they were paying attention to it.) The actual lesson is, when record numbers of Black voters go to the polls, they take their conservative religous values with them. Most Americans could give a damn whether gay people get married.

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posted by JReid @ 4:13 PM  
The Demographic tsunami
Has the presidential race been analyzed to death yet? Probably. So I'll stop contributing to it. Except to say one last thing. The import of what Barack Obama achieved in this election cannot be overstated, as regards the Demographcs. Take a look at the exit polls (the NYT has a fun gizmo for you to play with on this,) and you find a few startling things:

Barack obama won men, beating McCain by one point: 49%-48%, but beating him nonetheless. That's something no Democrat except Bill Clinton has done in 20 years, and he did it only once, in 1996, when he got 52 percent of male votes. By contrast, John Kerry got just 44 percent of men. Al Gore got 42.

Obama got 43 percent of white votes, more than any Democrat since Clinton, who got just 39 percent in 1992 but tied Obama at 43 percent in 1996.

John McCain got just 4 percent of the black vote; not surprising, given Obama's historic run, but still less than half of George W. Bush's numbers in both his runs, and the only time a Republican has been in single digits since Ronald Reagan got 9 percent of the black vote in 1984.

McCain managed to get just 37 percent of Hispanics, to Obama's 62 percent. This despite pundits' rumblings that Latinos wouldn't support a Black candidate.

Obama dominated among young voters (18-29), winning 66%-32%. He also won voters 30-44 year olds 52%-46%, and tied McCain among those aged 45-59. McCain did win voters over 60, but not by much: 51%-47%.)

For all the scuttle about less educated voters shunning a black candidate, Obama swept all educational categories, and his biggest numbers, 65%, were among those who did not graduate high school.

And for all the GOP's dirty tricks in Florida, Obama got 78 percent of the Jewish vote, matching the trend of Democrats since Bill Clinton got 80 percent in 1992, and improving on John Kerry.

Obama got 54 percent of Catholics. You were saying, Chris Matthews? No, actually I love Chris Matthews, especially this year. Obama's worst showing was with Protestants (45%) and frequent churchgoers (43%) meaning that fewer evangelicals voted their pocketbooks. Unfortunately for the GOP, evangelicals are not a majority. And Obama did better among Protestants than any Democrat since Jimmy Carter -- five points better than Bill Clinton, 10 points better than card-carrying evangelical Jimm Carter in 1980, and 13-points better than Walter Mondale in 1984.

The GOP has lost the big cities. Obama got 70 percent there, continuing a 20 year trend that only reversed itself in 2004, on post-9/11 fears ginned up by Karl Rove's Bush campaign. Obama also won small cities and suburbs with more than 50 percent of the vote, and he did surprisingly well in small towns and rural America, picking up 45 percent of the votes apiece.

What does all of this mean? For one thing, it means that the Republican Party can no longer expect to win national elections on the basis of guns, god and gays, Reaganomics or appeals to racial animus and fear. They have to prove to wide swaths of America, including ethnic swaths, that they can govern well, and not screw up the country. And they have to demonstrate competence and empathy -- two things that have been in woefully short supply in the GOP in recent years. Democrats won the 2008 election the way FDR won in the 1930s: by asking America to look at the failed corporation that is the government, and hire a better CEO. As someone smart said online, evangelicals have 401Ks too.

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posted by JReid @ 1:55 PM  
364
I don't mind being wrong (well, very slightly wrong... I had it at 349 with NC as a maybe...)

AP has called North Carolina for Barack Obama. He's now at 364 electoral votes to McCain's 162, and he becomes the first Democrat to win the state since Jimmy Carter in 1976. (Indiana and Virginia went Democrat for the first time since 1964.) That means that Obama grabbed a total (Missouri is still counting votes) of eight states that GWB won in 2004: Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, spreading the map in a way no Democrat has in more than a generation.

The Dems also pick up a sixth Senate seat, as Gordon Smith concedes to Jeff Merkley in Oregon. He seemed like a good guy, but that's the kind of year we're having. The party has also picked up 22 House seats (my predictions had been 9 or 10 in the Senate and 28 in the House) with four races (in Alaska, California, Maryland and Ohio) still too close to call.

Meanwhile, the Huffpo and Matthew Yglesias point to a New York Times map that shows that only 22 percent of counties voted more Republican this year than in 2004, and almost all of those counties are located in Appalachia -- it's the only place where McCain improved upon Bush.

Barack Obama got 40% or more of the vote in every state West of the Mississippi, including Montana in the Great Northwest, which he damned near won, the Dakotas, Kansas and Nebraska, with the exception being the "iron GOP triangle) of Wyoming, Idaho and Utah, where he was in the 30s (though it was a healthy-ish 36% in Idaho.) He even got 43% in Texas (where the Hispanic population is making the state bluer every day, on the Western and Southern sides.) The GOP firewall is now pretty much confined to Appalachia, which is losing population, and losing influence, fast. They will have to find a way to appeal to suburban and urban whites, Hispanics, Asians and Black folk sometimes soon, or they're doomed. Long-term doomed.

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posted by JReid @ 1:21 PM  
44
So here we go. The Obama era begins. And the cabinet is starting to take shape:

Rahm Emanuel has accepted the chief of staff job, just like he did on the West Wing...

The lovable Robert Gibbs will be White House press secretary.

It will be interesting to see where the Davids (Axelrod and Plouffe) wind up, and whether senior campaign ops like Steve Hildebrand (who was with us here in Miami at the end) and whether Patrick Gaspard goes to Washington or back to SEIU. On the Florida side, It will be interesting to see what happens next for Steve Schale, who ran a successful statewide campaign and is now officially a rock star of the Democratic party, and Mark Bubrisky, who led the communications team. The Florida campaign turned out to be highly effective, with a stunning get out the vote effort both in terms of early vote, and on election day. And the campaign's strong performance in the previously impenetrable Tampa/I-4 area, shut critics like me up quickly.

Other potential Obama picks are getting lots of ink, including speculation on which Chicago FOB's (friends of Barack) will get top jobs (Valerie Jarret, a close Obama family friend, will be on the transition team.)

Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense? I'd (heart) it. But Obama could also keep the current man, Robert Gates.

Former Harvard President Larry Summers at Treasury? The left hates it, for many reasons. He's no Keynsian, and most on the left believe a Keynsian, not a "flat-earth," globalism guy, which Summers is, is what we need. (More FDR, less Reagan. Thom Hartmann has articulated the best case on this.)) But the Harvard connection could prove decisive. Obama knows Summers well. And he doesn't come from Wall Street or the financial world, like other mentions like John Corzine (a former investment banker) or even super-investor Warren Buffett. In short, he has a more than good shot at the job.

RFKJ for EPA? Could be (and would be great).

Meanwhile:

UPDATE: Axelrod will be senior White House adviser.

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posted by JReid @ 12:34 PM  
The deconstruction of Sarah Palin

The myth was born, the myth was hyped by the mainstream media, the myth met Katie Couric and Tina Fey, and the myth was shattered. The unkindest cut of all comes from Fox News, where Carl Cameron reveals behind-the-scenes details about Ms. Palin, including her diva-like behavior, temper tantrums, and the fact that she didn't know Africa is a continent, not a country, let alone which countries are in NAFTA ... the ... North ... American ... Free Trade Agreement. Shep Smith, at the anchor desk, asks the obvious question: "how could they end up with a running mate who doesn't know that Africa is a continent and they don't know that in advance?" Watch:



Hat tip to Foreign Policy's Passport blog.

And then there's the new twist in Wardrobe-gate ... no, not the extra $40 grand for close for the First Dude. This one involves a towel:
At the GOP convention in St. Paul, Palin was completely unfazed by the boys' club fraternity she had just joined. One night, Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter went to her hotel room to brief her. After a minute, Palin sailed into the room wearing nothing but a towel, with another on her wet hair. She told them to chat with her laconic husband, Todd. "I'll be just a minute," she said.

Newsweek also reports she dove into the William Ayers attacks without authorization from the campaign, and that Schmidt vetoed her request to speak during McCain's concession in Arizona Tuesday night.

Palin has pushed back against attempts to blame her for McCain's defeat, including in an interview with CNN"s Dana Bash:
BASH: One more question about the election that just ended yesterday. If you look at some of the polls and you talk to people who are really crunching the numbers and specifically who voted what way and who was swayed one way or the other. Independent voters, suburban voters, some of the people -- women. People who the campaign thought you would be able to help, actually looked at your presence on the ticket and said, I'm going to vote the other way. What do you make of that?

PALIN: Well, you know, I don't think anybody should give Sarah Palin that much credit that I would trump an economic, woeful time in this nation that occurred about two months ago that my presence on the ticket would trump the economic crisis that America found itself in a couple of months ago and attribute John McCain's loss to me.

But now having said that, if I cost John McCain even one vote, I am sorry about that because John McCain, I believe, is the American hero. I had believed that it was his time. He being so full of courage and wisdom and experience. That valor that he just embodies. I believe he would have been the best pick. But that is not the Americans' choice at this time.

But it's just not working. Exit polls show she was, along with George W. Bush and the crappy economy, a serious drag on the ticket:

But among the things that will dog her into 2012, if her political celebrity lasts that long, is the association between her rallies and a particularly vitriolic kind of hate, with a strong racial tinge, that are now linked forever in history. Also from the Newsweek web piece:
The Obama campaign was provided with reports from the Secret Service showing a sharp and disturbing increase in threats to Obama in September and early October, at the same time that many crowds at Palin rallies became more frenzied. Michelle Obama was shaken by the vituperative crowds and the hot rhetoric from the GOP candidates. "Why would they try to make people hate us?" Michelle asked a top campaign aide.



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posted by JReid @ 12:00 PM  
Glenn Beck: shock jock
... in that he shocked the hell out of me today. Beck, one of the better broadcasters on the right but one whose views I usually find completely objectionable, took his own callers to task this morning, telling one guy who tried to bring up Barack Obama's birth certificate for the umpteenth time to "get off my phone!!!" and lecturing another, who said he refused to accept Obama as president, on being a good American. The convo went something like this:

CALLER: I don't accept him as my president.

BECK: Then you're not a good American.

CALLER: I AM an American.

BECK: How do elections work in this country? When one guy wins, is he the Democratic president, the Republican president, or the American president?

CALLER: He's the guy who won for president.

BECK: But is he the Democratic president, the Republican president, or the American president?

CALLER: He's the president, but I don't accept ...

BECK: He's the American president. I want to hear you say the words.

CALLER: Well I don't accept ...

BECK: Then you're not a good American.

It went on like that for a couple of minutes, in which Beck stated that though he did not support Obama, he considered him to now be HIS president, and all Americans should pray for him, and help him to succeed, without compromising their own values. He also took to task Democrats, who after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of George W. Bush in 2000, refused to accept Bush as president, and he very fairly characterized the need for all Americans to accept the results of our elections, and give the new man a chance to govern. He excoriated people who want to protest, and burn down the house because their guy didn't win. He blasted the bloggers and Facebook fiends on the right's lunatic fringe who are already calling for Obama to be impeached (the Spectator has a bit of fun with them here.) And I applaud him. Beck isn't right about everything, but he gets kudos for standing up to the wingers on this one. (Read Beck's "No pity party" post, with a squinty eye on the Marxist crap, here.)

Charlie Gibson, who must be bracing himself for four years of pure crazy at FNC for the next four years, was similarly reasonable on Imus this morning. Yes, I listen so that you don't have to.

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posted by JReid @ 11:23 AM  
The biggest losers
Wink if you didn't win the election

Politico runs down the losers, and leaves two major losers out. First, their list:
President Bush. Not to pile on, but his unpopularity probably doomed John McCain and has thrown the GOP into its worst identity crisis since 1964.

Steve Schmidt. McCain’s main strategist was brought in after a shake-up to hammer Obama hard every day, and he did that with gusto, hatching the highly effective “Celebrity” ad equating Obama with Paris Hilton. But McCain never seemed comfortable being an attack dog, and Schmidt’s mid-campaign testosterone boost turned off independents, young voters and women. Meanwhile, the base never believed the Arizona senator was one of their own — even when Schmidt succeeded in persuading McCain to choose Sarah Palin as his running mate. Schmidt is also largely responsible for cloistering McCain from the media, forcing the candidate to give up the straight talk give-and-take that defined him in his previous presidential run.

Rudy Giuliani.
America’s mayor began the year as the Republican front-runner by making the case for the big-tent GOP approach. He ended it as a caustic Republican attack dog at a time when GOP partisanship has turned off the very independents Giuliani initially attracted. There are rumors he’s mulling a gubernatorial run, but his national reputation has taken a major hit, and his once-thriving consulting business is said to be in trouble. [Sidebar: Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Rudy.]

ACORN. A huge national voter registration effort gave the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now a chance to shine on the national stage. Instead, ACORN’s sloppy oversight of voter registration efforts created a major embarrassment for Obama and other Democrats who had admired the group’s work on behalf of low-income tenants and blue-collar workers.

Sen. John Ensign. The National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman was dealt a lousy hand, but the former casino executive didn’t play it particularly well, according to his fellow Republicans. He struggled to raise cash and sparked a last-minute firestorm by suggesting Palin wasn’t ready to govern.

Bill Kristol.
The former Republican White House aide-turned-New York Times columnist was one of the loudest voices in favor of invading Iraq. And he was among the first to suggest Palin could be McCain’s savior. It proved to be a brilliant move. For about two weeks.

James Dobson. As pollster Peter Brown says, “Even evangelicals have 401(k)s.” Dobson, head of the powerful group Focus on the Family, was a dominant force in 2004 when Bush and Karl Rove fired up the conservative base by organizing around culture-war issues. Dobson’s opposition to abortion rights and gay marriage still resonate with many GOP voters, but he had far less impact in a year when Americans were more focused on the tanking economy.

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman. Loser, with a big caveat. Reid and other Senate Democrats were willing to tolerate Lieberman’s support of McCain — but Reid couldn’t abide the Connecticut independent’s appearance at the Republican convention, where he questioned Obama’s fitness to command. Reid has already called Lieberman to task, and insiders predict he’ll strip him of the chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee. But Democrats can’t go too far in their payback — they still need him on key issues, and his centrist philosophy still means he’s a factor in cloture votes.

Ronald Reagan. John McCain invoked the Great Communicator as his idol — and many in the GOP believe a return to Reagan-era conservative populism provides a path back to relevancy. (His visage still adorns the National Republican Congressional Committee’s home page.) But Democrats claim the economic crisis has called into question central tenets of The Gipper’s fiscal philosophy, including wide-ranging tax cuts, supply-side economics and deregulation. [Sidebar: Replacement winner: FDR...]
But wait, there are a few more lowers that Politico left out. Let's review:

Alaska. Once a place held gauzy for its snow-shoed adventurers, hearty native population and oil wrangling individualists, thanks to the Palins, Alaska is now viewed by the lower 48 as a land of dumb hillbillies charging through Bloomingdales with their newfangled credit cards, staring at Russia from their bedroom windows and not reading much. From Newsweek:
Palin’s shopping spree at high-end department stores was more extensive than previously reported. While publicly supporting Palin, McCain’s top advisers privately fumed at what they regarded as her outrageous profligacy. One senior aide said that Nicolle Wallace had told Palin to buy three suits for the convention and hire a stylist. But instead, the vice presidential nominee began buying for herself and her family—clothes and accessories from top stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. According to two knowledgeable sources, a vast majority of the clothes were bought by a wealthy donor, who was shocked when he got the bill.

Palin also used low-level staffers to buy some of the clothes on their credit cards. The McCain campaign found out last week when the aides sought reimbursement. One aide estimated that she spent “tens of thousands” more than the reported $150,000, and that $20,000 to $40,000 went to buy clothes for her husband. Some articles of clothing have apparently been lost. An angry aide characterized the shopping spree as “Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast,” and said the truth will eventually come out when the Republican Party audits its books.
Oops. More losers:

John McCain's reputation. He used to have a good one. Allowing Steve Schmidt to turn him into a raving Dittohead shattered it. His concession speech was a first step toward self-repair (okay, a second. His SNL turn was the first) but he will have to become the most magnanamous, helpful "maverick" Senator in United States history in order to repair the damage he has done with the press, with moderates, Independents, and Democrats.

Sarah Palin. See "Alaska" above. Her political future might not be completely black (she could even be appointed Senator in Ted Stevens' place should he manage to squeak out a win and then go to prison...) but the caricature of her will live forever. I mean, she didn't know what countries were in NAFTA (think "North America" dear...) and didn't know that Africa is a continent, not a country. I know this, because Fox's Carl Cameron told me... On the up-side, she got a whole buncha nice clothes for her and the First Dude out of the deal! [Corollary loser: stupid people. They can't run the country ever, ever again...]

Rush Limbaugh. His tactics of choice (the Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, race-baiting, trailer-rattling flotsam he spews every day from his mansion in Palm Beach) were injected into the bloodstream of the McCain campaign, including in the person of Gov. Palin, and the injection promptly killed the patient. Oops. And where were his gazillion listeners who were going to put this thing away for McCain? Hm? Boy, $400 million sure doesn't buy you what it used to ...

Sean Hannity. See "Rush Limbaugh" above. And he clotheslined himself by giving an avowed anti-semite a one-hour platform on his Fox Noise show.
Fox News. See "Sean Hannity" above. How's that destroying Barack Obama's candidacy thing working out Rupe? And that serious ratings slide versus CNN and especially versus MSNBC in primetime? Not pretty.

The Congressional Black Caucus. More than half of members didn't support Obama in the primary, opting for Hillary instead (including all three black Florida Congresspeople: Kendrick Meek, Alcee Hastings and Corinne Brown) plus Maxine Waters, John Lewis (until he switched sides after getting an opponent,) Charlie Rangel (who shouldn't be faulted because he and the New York delegation had to go with HRC) Sheila Jackson Lee and on and on.) Some did more than others to help Obama in the general, but in the end, the only one who really counted was Obama's pal Jesse Jackson Jr. (who was phenomenal this past Sunday in Miami Gardens.) Now, there'll be no more of that whingeing about Obama not picking a black chief of staff (Rahm Emanuel is Josh Lyman, guys. This one's a no brainer.) He owes you guys only one thing: nothing.
The right wing blathersphere. RedState.com, Michelle Malkin and many other blogs trafficked in the worst sludge available during the campaign, calling Barack Obama everything but a child of God. They failed to stop the train.

Matt Drudge. See "the right wing blathersphere." Even his desperate, eleventh hour headline pushes about Obama's aunt and other crap didn't work. And Politico has replaced him as the unofficial assignment editor in America's newsrooms, not to mention the rising stock of the HuffPo.

Joe the Plumber. More like "Joe the loser." Now that his stealth, then not-stealth, McCain campaign has failed, he can forget running for Congress or cutting a country music album and devote his full attention to getting that plumbing license.

Elizabeth Hasselback. She tried her hand at being Karl Rove, and ended up being Steve Schmidt. Now kindly pipe down and let Joy Behar talk.

Meanwhile, Politico also left off a few key winners from its list. They are:

MSNBC. They out-foxed Rupert and confounded Bill O'Reilly as the election season wore on, and Fox's propaganda victims became down-hearted over the prospects of their guy. And despite the best efforts of Fox and Friends, Hannity and O'Reilly to derail Barack Obama, he won anyway. Meanwhile, MSNBC let Chris Matthews be Chris Matthews, supported Keith Olbermann, and hired Rachel Maddow, and the ratings heavens opened.

Katie Couric. She went from fluffy (overpaid) bunny to Walter freaking Cronkite in one Sarah Palin interview, doled out cruelly over an entire week by CBS. In many ways, she single-handedly dismantled the Palin monster (and accidentally bitch slapped her former colleague Nicolle Walace in the process.) Good show.

Smart people. They're back in fashion in politics. And it's about time.

Tina Fey and "SNL". See "Sarah Palin" above. You betcha!




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posted by JReid @ 7:59 AM  
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Whither Lieberman...
Joe Lieberman will meet with Maj. Leader Harry Reid this week to discuss his future in the Senate, and whether his disgraceful performance during the presidential election will cost him his chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Reports CNN:
This aide says that Reid, who is calling the meeting, has not yet decided what to do. The aide admits that the decision will be determined in part by the final election results tonight — and just how close the party is to a filibuster-proof 60-seat majority — but insists that the biggest factor involved is lingering anger among Senate Democrats over Lieberman's Republican convention speech.

This aide also said that Senate Democrats aren't that upset about Lieberman's constant presence and cheerleading on the campaign trail with John McCain — instead, they've been put off by the things he said about Barack Obama at the Republican convention in St. Paul.

Lieberman stuck with McCain through the end, which isn't a bad thing in itself, but as the unnamed aide said, his rhetoric became increasingly abusive toward Obama on the campaign trail (like telling odious Newsmax that he "fears for America" under a filibuster-proof Democratic Senate) and that's why he should lose his chairmanship. Of course, with 56 seats so far, Democrats may need Lieberman's vote to break the odd filibuster, but I somehow doubt that with the ass kicking handed to them yesterday, Republicans will have the stones to try and block every part of Barack Obama's agenda. If they do, Lieberman may have to choose between standing with the losers and definitely losing his Senate seat in two years, or taking his demotion, voting with the winners (whose ideology he mostly still shares) and going back to Connecticut hat in hand in 2010. Not a good set of choices, but they're the choices he created for himself.

Meanwhile, Lieberman starts the walk-back:

During a prime-time address at the Republican National Convention, the Connecticut lawmaker had rapped Obama as an untested candidate beholden to Democratic interest groups.

But a day after Tuesday's election, Lieberman, a fixture alongside McCain on the campaign trail, congratulated Obama for his "historic and impressive victory.

"Now that the election is over, it is time to put partisan considerations aside and come together as a nation to solve the difficult challenges we face and make our blessed land stronger and safer," Lieberman said in a written statement. "I pledge to work with President-elect Obama and his incoming administration in their efforts to reinvigorate our economy and keep our nation secure and free."

Whatever, Joe.



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posted by JReid @ 12:12 PM  
How he did it
The Obama campaign won Florida with a combination of surging black turnout, significant improvement with Hispanics, and finally capturing the "white whale" of the Florida Democratic Party: the I-4 corridor... From the Miami Herald:

Obama's Florida victory over John McCain came with dominance in South Florida -- particularly in Miami-Dade and Broward counties -- the important Interstate 4 corridor in Central Florida and farther north in Gainesville and Tallahassee.

It was a stinging defeat for Republicans who control the Legislature and governor's mansion and, until just two months ago, were openly questioning whether the Democrat would campaign full force in the nation's biggest swing state.

But hard financial times, McCain's gaffe in Jacksonville, where he said the ''fundamentals of the economy are strong,'' and Obama's juggernaut of a campaign inalterably changed the race.

Obama captured a lopsided share of Florida votes from young people and first-time voters, won comfortably among independents, and managed to best McCain among Hispanic voters by double digits statewide, according to Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International exit poll of voters.

Once a reliable Republican voting bloc, Hispanics have shifted more toward Democrats in recent years as South and Central Americans started swelling the voter rolls statewide and curbing the influence of Miami-Dade's Cuban Americans, who comprise about 70 percent of the county's Republican voter rolls. Obama carried Miami-Dade County by 140,000 votes and Broward County by almost 240,000.

Steve Schale, who ran the Florida campaign, gets a lot of credit for this win, along with a huge team of staff and volunteers (I worked for the campaign for a scant few weeks at the end, but the operation was amazing to behold.)

Turnout in Broward was 693,929, or 69.8% -- still underperforming the state (72.4%) but better than in recent years. Miami-Dade turnout was 68.7%, but that too meant a bucket-load of voters: 854,654. Obama won the state with over 4 million votes: 4,110,174 votes to McCain's 3,910,185 (50.9% to 48.4%). Bob Barr and Ralph Nader were total non-factors.

Florida showed some rejectionism, saying no to taking a provision disallowing non-citizens from owning property (a vestige of the anti-Chinese early 20th century) out of the Constitution and passing yet another gay marriage ban (Florida's constitution already has one.) Proving that Floridians will back anything that looks like a tax cut, the state's voters passed a couple of additional property tax slashers, and rejected a measure that would have boosted community college funding. Go figure. It's Florida. We don't really DO education here...

In Congress, Florida actually LOST ground. Scandal-plagued Democrat Tim Mahoney was defeated, while all other incumbents held their seats.


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posted by JReid @ 11:35 AM  
Change, and no change
For all my excitement about Barack Obama winning it all, and especially, winning Florida, I am disappointed that in Florida, we didn't get all of the change we need. For one thing, all three South Florida Republican Congressional incumbents, Ileana Ros Lehtinin and the Diaz Balart brothers, kept their seats thanks in no small part to the refusal of Democratic South Florida Congresspeople (Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Kendrick Meek) to help, or even to endorse, their fellow Democrats (they have some sort of pact with Ileana and the Balarts.) Wasserman Schultz gets props for going all out for Barack's election, but this was still a huge letdown, particularly since I'm hearing anecdotally that many newly registered Democrats, including many black Democrats in South Florida, undervoted by just bubbling in the presidential race, and leaving much of the remaining ballot blank. With surging turnout in Miami-Dade and Broward, a straight ticket surge among black and young voters could have helped Annette Taddeo, Joe Garcia and Raul Martinez win.

Overall, it was a great night for Florida incumbents, which in my estimation, is not a good thing.

Ironically, the waves of black and Hispanic turnout that swept Obama to victory in the Sunshine State may have contributed to the passage of Amendment 2, which expands Florida's existing ban on gay marriage to straight couples and non-married pairs of all kinds. Religious black voters, who are conservative on social issues generally, were telling me they planned to vote for the amendment. They did.

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posted by JReid @ 10:50 AM  
Morning in America
Wow. I never thought an election could make you feel so good, even on no sleep. Some video clips for this morning.

It all started with hope:



And then amid adversity, yes we can:



Election Day: Obama votes:



President-elect Obama's acceptance speech:



And John McCain's (very gracious) concession:



Yes we can.



Yes, we did.


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posted by JReid @ 7:44 AM  
Yes, we can
What an extraordinary day in the life of America. Barack Obama wins, including Florida, Ohio, Colorado (by a comfortable margin), Nevada and even Indiana (Jackie was right!) and becomes our first black president. By the way, I got my Electoral College prediction exactly right at 349 (still waiting on Congress.) And no, Newton, I hadn't bumped my head. :) Of course, I could wind up being wrong, if Obama hangs on and wins North Carolina ... in which case I'd be LOW by 15 points...

There are times when this country shows itself to be much better than the caricature of us that often dominates around the world, especially over the last eight years. This is one of those times. We have passed an incredible Rubicon tonight, on the matter of race, and opportunity, and in the way that children everywhere will think about power and possibilities. We have come full circle from this nation's founding amid the stain of slavery, and found a little glory. And while this victory has special poignancy for African-Americans, it reflects brilliantly on America as a whole. Good for us.

Meanwhile, America rejected an ugly, divisive campaign, led by a man who tonight, conceded with class. John McCain also proved that he can be better than the caricature he created of himself over the last several months. Good for him.

And good for Barack Obama. His campaign proved me wrong more than a few times. Including winning this often odd state. His strategy (and David Plouffe and David Axelrod's and the whole team's) was on point. He was on message. And his way was, in the end, the way to win, and win well.

I watched the returns at an upscale soul food restaurant in Miami Gardens, a city that in many ways reflects the Obama way: up from a tough past, now progressing nicely under new and refreshing leadership in the person of its mayor, Shirley Gibson, and its county commissioner, Barbara Jordan, and a team of city leaders that really care and work hard for a community that can see tangible evidence all around them, of that caring. It was wonderful to be in the presence of so many happy people, and even more wonderful to win. Big up to the campaign, for which I worked at the very end, and to the terrific and dedicated volunteers, and to America. God bless us.

Obama's wonderful victory speech here.

Drudge scores it:

OBAMA: 58,581,942
MCCAIN: 52,925,833


Also: Mike Huckabee shows amazing grace over at RedState. And we still don't know the outcome of the Dems' race for 60 seats in the Senate.

And the world is in rapture, including in Kenya, Great Britain, Australia, and well ... everywhere.


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posted by JReid @ 2:36 AM  
Monday, November 03, 2008
Pray for Barack Obama
Photo by Getty Images


The Senator's beloved grandmother passed today, just one day shy of seeing her grandson, whom she raised, elected president.

UPDATE: Sen. Obama commented on his grandmother's passing:
No matter what happens tomorrow, I'm going to feel good about how it has
turned out because all of you have created this remarkable campaign. She is gone
home. And she died peacefully in her sleep, with my sister at her side. And so,
there is great joy as well as tears. I'm not going to talk about it too long
because it is hard, a little, to talk about.

I want everybody to know though a little bit about her. Her name was
Madelyn Dunham. And she was born in Kansas in a small town in 1922. Which means
she lived through the Great Depression, she lived through two world wars, she
watched her husband go off to war, while she looked after her baby and worked on
a bomber assembly line. When her husband came back they benefited from the GI
bill, they moved west and eventually ended up in Hawaii.
She was somebody who
was a very humble person, a very plainspoken person. She is one of those quiet
heroes we have all across America, who are not famous, their names are not in
the newspapers, but each and every day they work hard. They look after their
families. They sacrifice for their children, and their grandchildren. They
aren't seeking the limelight. All they try to do is do the right thing. And in
this crowd, there are a lot of quiet heroes like that, people like that, mothers
and fathers and grandparents who have worked hard and sacrificed all their lives
and the satisfaction that they get is in seeing their children or maybe their
grandchildren or their great-grandchildren live a better life than they did.
That is what America is about. That is what we are fighting for.

And while she won't live to see her grandson become president, she did live long enough to vote for him. And it will count.

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posted by JReid @ 7:29 PM  
The final tally
Ok, I'm going all-in on the predictions. I'm more conservative on this than some, and am calling it as follows:

Obama - 349
McCain - 189

... an electoral landslide by any measure. I give Barack the following pick-ups from Bush 2004:

Virginia
Florida
Colorado
New Mexico
Iowa
Ohio
Indiana
Nevada

... and I say he holds New Hampshire for a solid Northeast.

I'm not so sure about Georgia and North Carolina, although if Obama pulls those off, he's at 379, and if he manages to grab Missouri, he's at an astounding 390. One of the volunteers on the campaign in Miami is married to a former Indiana congressman, so her inside take is that Indiana is very winnable. I agree. Missouri is too, I think, based on the primary turnout for Obama and Hillary, but I'm being conservative, as I said. And my prediction is based on two, I think insurmountable factors in Obama's favor: superior voter registration numbers for the Dems, and exceptional early vote turnout, particularly among black voters.

Make your own electoral map here. Get more electoral math here.

As for the House and Senate, I'm going to guess that the Democrats will pick up 10 Senate seats (9 I'm certain of, Georgia is a maybe...):
  1. Alaska - Begich wins, the other guy's a felon.
  2. Colorado - Udall #1 wins
  3. Maine - I like Susan Collins, but she loses
  4. North Carolina - Bye-bye, Liddy Dole! And take that "godless" ad with you!
  5. Minnesota - The Frankin era begins... (and he makes a return visit to "SNL")
  6. New Hampshire - Bye, Sununu, I hear you're a good guy, but this is just that kind of year...
  7. New Mexico - Udall number two, wins
  8. Oregon - Gordon Smith, another decent guy, goes down
  9. Virginia - Mark Warner. Need I say more?
  10. Georgia - I know, I know, but with black turnout? It can happen.
More fun with the congressional match-ups here. See all the races here.

As for the House, I'll go with a nice round number of 28 seats, including pick-ups in Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico and Washington State, to name a few.

All in all, should be a good night for our side.

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posted by JReid @ 7:56 AM  
The closing polls
I'm not even paying attention to the national polls anymore, even those this one and this one are pretty damned good. It's the state polls that count, and here are a few key polls from Quinnipiac:
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 show:
  • Florida: Obama at 47 percent to McCain's 45 percent, unchanged from October 29;
  • Ohio: Obama up 50 - 43 percent, compared to 51 - 42 percent last week;
  • Pennsylvania: Obama ahead 52 - 42 percent, compared to 53 - 41 percent last week.
More on "the math" from Mark Halperin at TIME.



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posted by JReid @ 6:46 AM  
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Can't you be struck by lightning for stuff like this?
A Detroit-area Palinite turns away trick-or-treaters whose parents support Obama. Seriously. Hat tip to RawStory:
Shirley Nagel of Grosse Pointe Farms gave out treats Friday evening, but only to those who share her support of John McCain and running mate Sarah Palin.

Fox 2 News reports a sign posted outside Nagel's house, about 12 miles west of Detroit, served notice to all trick-or-treaters. It read: "No handouts for Obama supporters, liars, tricksters or kids of supporters."

Nagel told a Fox 2 reporter that "Obama's scary." When asked about children who'd been turned away empty-handed and crying, she said: "Oh well. Everybody has a choice."
Watch:



Mean old Palinite...


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posted by JReid @ 8:26 AM  
Things you really don't want, but that you have to say thank you for anyway
To the delight of the Obama campaign, Darth Cheney endorses the McCain-Fey ... er ... Palin ...ticket:
"I believe the right leader for this moment in history is Sen. John McCain," said Cheney, who grew up in Wyoming and represented the state in the U.S. House of Representatives. "John is a man who understands the danger facing America. He's a man who has looked into the face of evil and not flinched."

Cheney also said he was pleased McCain has "chosen a running mate with executive talent, toughness and common sense, our next vice president, Sarah Palin."

Oh, that'l help...
At an appearance Saturday in Pueblo, Colo., Obama used the Cheney endorsement to underscore his charge that McCain represents a continuation of current policies in Washington.

"I'd like to congratulate Senator McCain on this endorsement because he really earned it," Obama said. "That endorsement didn't come easy. Senator McCain had to vote 90 percent of the time with George Bush and Dick Cheney to get it."


And McCain can't pull a grandpa and claim he "doesn't agree" that the endorsement ever happened, cuz it's on the Youtube:



Joe "O'Biden's" take:
Joe Biden told supporters in Ohio that putting John McCain in the White House would guarantee four more years of “clinging” to George W. Bush’s economic policies.

“I watched on the bus coming over on the television I have on the bus. Just today, Vice President Cheney came out and endorsed John McCain,” said Biden. “Folks, if you need any more proof!”

He walked on stage in the Marion Harding High School gym and held up a white t-shirt he had been handed by the state’s lieutenant governor.

“It says, ‘Obama, O'Biden, Ohio, ‘08’!” announced Biden to cheers from the crowd of around 400 people. “Well, I'm Joe O'Biden!”


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posted by JReid @ 8:15 AM  
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Palling around with: The Economist

From the pages of the thoroughly un-Socialist London weekly:

It's time

Oct 30th 2008
From The Economist print edition

America should take a chance and make Barack Obama the next leader of the free world

T IS impossible to forecast how important any presidency will be. Back in 2000 America stood tall as the undisputed superpower, at peace with a generally admiring world. The main argument was over what to do with the federal government’s huge budget surplus. Nobody foresaw the seismic events of the next eight years. When Americans go to the polls next week the mood will be very different. The United States is unhappy, divided and foundering both at home and abroad. Its self-belief and values are under attack.

For all the shortcomings of the campaign, both John McCain and Barack Obama offer hope of national redemption. Now America has to choose between them. The Economist does not have a vote, but if it did, it would cast it for Mr Obama. We do so wholeheartedly: the Democratic candidate has clearly shown that he offers the better chance of restoring America’s self-confidence. But we acknowledge it is a gamble. Given Mr Obama’s inexperience, the lack of clarity about some of his beliefs and the prospect of a stridently Democratic Congress, voting for him is a risk. Yet it is one America should take, given the steep road ahead.

The most damning assessment?

Ironically, given that he first won over so many independents by speaking his mind, the case for Mr McCain comes down to a piece of artifice: vote for him on the assumption that he does not believe a word of what he has been saying. Once he reaches the White House, runs this argument, he will put Mrs Palin back in her box, throw away his unrealistic tax plan and begin negotiations with the Democratic Congress. That is plausible; but it is a long way from the convincing case that Mr McCain could have made. Had he become president in 2000 instead of Mr Bush, the world might have had fewer problems. But this time it is beset by problems, and Mr McCain has not proved that he knows how to deal with them.

Read the whole thing here.



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posted by JReid @ 11:22 PM  
The return of the black voter
The line at the North Dade Regional Library in Miami Gardens stretched onto
the sidewalk and around three corners, almost surrounding the building. I wish I could
have gotten an aerial shot. Stage two of the line, after the first bend, is pictured above.

One of my biggest frustrations in observing and working in elections in Florida since I moved here in 1997 has been the inconsistency of the black vote, which turned out in great numbers in 2000, only to be so discouraged by the outcome, that the numbers dwindled every election thereafter. This August, the primary election saw county-wide turnout in Miami-Dade and Broward, the biggest Democratic strongholds and largest black voter bases, stall at pathetic 6-10 point rates.

Not anymore.

This election has energized black voters (including African-Americans and Caribban-Americans) like nothing I've ever seen. The lines are exaggerated, the people happy to be there. It's an incredible outpouring unlike anything I've ever seen. Ever. It's actually moving, to see so many people pouring their hopes and dreams into this election, and to be even a small part of this history-making event. And make no mistake, the time that folks are spending in line is making a difference:

Through Thursday, Democrats cast 46 percent of the 3.4 million early and absentee votes in Florida, while Republicans cast 38 percent.

That's a big shift since 2004, when Democrats were outvoted 44 percent to 41 percent by Republicans in early and absentee ballots, according to a study of Florida voting data.

The recent Democratic gains have been most pronounced in early voting, where Democrats have outnumbered Republicans by 432,000 out of nearly two million voters.

Black voters have made the difference, accounting for 16 percent of the early and absentee voters so far -- with 86 percent of them registered Democrats. In 2004, black turnout for early and absentee voting was a bit more than 10 percent of the total.

Black turnout has been especially high in the state's urban areas. In Broward County, blacks accounted for 39 percent of all early voters at the polls through Thursday; in Miami-Dade County, it was 30 percent. In Orange County, 30 percent of all voters were black; in Duval County, it was 36 percent.

And it's not just black voters. Hispanic voters are also trending Obama (as are a strong, 40-plus share of urban and suburban white voters). On Hispanics, campaign manager David Plouffe says:

''We're doing very well with Puerto Rican voters, Colombian voters. We're doing, I think, surprisingly well with younger Cuban voters,'' Plouffe said in a conference call with reporters Friday. ``We think we're going to carry the Hispanic vote in Florida if the trend lines continue.''

Dario Moreno, a pollster with Florida International University's Metropolitan Center, said Plouffe's description of the Hispanic voting bloc is in line with a poll released this week showing that Obama leads McCain by 20 percentage points among non-Cuban Hispanics and was slightly ahead among Cuban Americans under 45.

More on the Hispanic vote in Florida here. And another note on the black vote from the NY Times:

Growing up in St. Louis in the 1950s and ’60s, Deddrick Battle came to believe that the political process was not for people like him — a struggling black man whose vote, he was convinced, surely would not count for much of anything. The thought became ingrained as an adult, almost like common sense.

But a month ago, at age 55, Mr. Battle registered to vote for the first time.

Senator Barack Obama was the reason.

“This is huge,” Mr. Battle, a janitor, said after his overnight shift cleaning a movie theater. “This is bigger than life itself. When I was coming up, I always thought they put in who they wanted to put in. I didn’t think my vote mattered. But I don’t think that anymore.”

Across the country, black men and women like Mr. Battle who have long been disaffected, apolitical, discouraged or just plain bored with politics say they have snapped to attention this year, according to dozens of interviews conducted in the last several days in six states. They are people like Percy Matthews of the South Side of Chicago, a 25-year-old who did vote once but whose experience was so forgettable that he cannot recall with certainty whom he cast a ballot for or even what year it was. Now an enthusiastic Democrat, he says the old days are gone.

And Shandell Wilcox, 29, who registered to vote in Jacksonville, Fla., when she was 18, then proceeded to ignore every election other than the current one. She voted for the first time on Wednesday.

Over and again, first-time and relatively new voters like Mr. Matthews and Ms. Wilcox, far past the legal voting age, said they were inspired by the singularity of the 2008 election and the power of Mr. Obama’s magnetism. Many also said they were loath to miss out on their part in writing what could be a new chapter of American history — the chance to vote for a black president.

Of course, the most wonderful thing about the Obama campaign is, to quote Bill Clinton, its diversity. This isn't just a movement of black people, but of Americans of all backgrounds, pulling together for a single goal. The increae in black turnout is simply symbolic of the power of the idea of change, and how it can bring people back into the process no matter how long they've felt alienated from it.

And speaking of the campaign, Deval Patrick came down today, and he visited three polling sites and a church in South Florida. The Massachusetts governor is a very nice guy, very down to earth. He's Harvard class of (no comment,) and we chatted about his living in Dunster House (I was Cabot.) Great guy, and he got to see firsthand the incredibly long lines in predominantly African-American and one Caribbean-centric site.

Gov. Deval Patrick addresses a crowd standing behind stage one of the
line at North Dade Library. Pictured here is the part of the line that extended
immediately outside the door of the library.

Gov. Patrick (right) waits to speak as Miami Gardens Mayor Shirley Gibson
addresses the crowd from her crutches. Beside her is Commissioner Barbara
Jordan, whose district includes Miami Gardens. Two of the most outstanding
politicians, and best women politicians, out there, in my opinion.

The Huffpo was there in the form of a guy named John Hood, who filed this report:
MIAMI--Pulling up to the North Dade Regional Library in the inner city suburb of Miami Gardens for one of Florida's numerous early voter rallies, the first thing that strikes you is the line of early voters itself. Not just any line, mind you, but a line that begins at the library doors, folds in two, covers the parking lot, stretches out to the sidewalk, then snakes around a very large block. We're talking thousands here. Literally. All of whom who've come to exercise their right to vote -

Beyond the length of the line though, what might even be more striking is the excitement, which is as palpable as the sun is hot and high. Picture the biggest block party you can imagine, throw in a neighborhood-sized backyard BBQ, a county fair, and a traveling carnival, and you'll get half the idea of the energy of this rally, as well as the cross-section of those in attendance. Young toughs and dressed-up grannies, college students and their proud parents, single mothers, single fathers, entire families, in collars of blue and white, not only having the time of their lives, but having it on behalf of what all would agree was the most important election of their lifetime.

In the thick of it all is Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, here in town at the request of the presidential candidate himself. People receive Patrick with so much warmth it's almost as if he was their governor, and not someone else's. And in many respects he is, not simply because of race, but because of the bootstraps, but because of the example he's set for everyone. And, of course, because Patrick, like Obama, represents a sea change in America, a sea change that everyone here is a part of. ...

Read the rest here. And now for a little video entertainment:



History. You've gotta love it.

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posted by JReid @ 10:27 PM  
Three days out: the math
Gallup's three poll models show the same result:
Gallup's interviewing conducted Wednesday through Friday shows that 27% of registered voters who plan to vote have already voted. The trend in early voting has trended consistently upward on a day to day basis, moving from 7% of registered voters, who had already voted during the period of Oct. 17-19, to the current estimate of 27%. Another 8% of registered voters still indicate that they plan on voting before Election Day itself. The vote choices of these early voters -- all of whom are included in the likely voter pool since they are definite voters -- skew more toward Barack Obama than the sample average. Thus, more and more of these Obama-oriented voters' choices are being "locked in" to the likely voter pool through early voting, benefiting Obama. (To view the complete trend since March 7, 2008, click here.) -- Frank Newport

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Meanwhile, poor Matt Drudge engages in some serious wishful thinking with this headline:

ZOGBY: MCCAIN LEADS BY A POINT IN ONE DAY POLLING...

Let's take a look at Zogby.com:

Pollster John Zogby: "Is McCain making a move? The three-day average holds steady, but McCain outpolled Obama today, 48% to 47%. He is beginning to cut into Obama's lead among independents, is now leading among blue collar voters, has strengthened his lead among investors and among men, and is walloping Obama among NASCAR voters. Joe the Plumber may get his license after all. "Obama's lead among women declined, and it looks like it is occurring because McCain is solidifying the support of conservative women, which is something we saw last time McCain picked up in the polls. If McCain has a good day tomorrow, we will eliminate Obama's good day three days ago, and we could really see some tightening in this rolling average. But for now, hold on."


Week Four

Three-Day

Tracking Poll

10-31

10-30

10-29

10-28

10-27

Obama

49.1%

50.1%

50.2%

49.1%

49.0%

McCain

44.1%

43.1%

43.3%

44.4%

44.7%

Others/Not sure

6.8%

6.8%

6.5%

6.5%

6.3%


Obama is holding his lead in the three day averages, with the exception of fright night, when apparently more Republicans than Democrats were staying at home with their lights off to keep those darned costumed kids off their lawns. Well before you get to excited, Palinites, read the following from Seth Colter Walls:
Zogby has a unique methodology in his polling. He fixes -- or "weights" -- the partisan balance of his respondents, unlike most pollsters. While his admirably transparent and stable practice guarantees a certain methodological sameness from day to day, therefore making any new lead for McCain worth reporting, Zogby's partisan weighting can also raise other questions.

Asked earlier this week what the partisan weighting of their poll currently is, a Zogby aide told the Huffington Post: "Party ID remains at 38 Democratic - 36 Republican - 26 Independent. We have added a point for 18-29 [year old voters], 1.5 for African Americans, and 2 for Hispanics."

Earlier this year, Zogby told me that "party ID is a lead variable, and a major determinant in how people vote. I apply a weight to party ID, and if I see a reason for it to change, I will."

Still, Zogby's two point party ID advantage for Democrats is the smallest of any polling firm. The last four days of the Hotline/Diageo poll show anywhere from a four- to six-point advantage for Democrats -- and a simultaneous seven-point lead for Obama. Gallup's latest surveys indicate that Democrats have an 11-point advantage over Republicans in party ID (including what the firm describes as partisan "leaners").

Zogby's partisan makeup gives even less of a partisan advantage to Democrats than Fox's latest poll, which earned some skepticism, as well.

As for the day-to-day fluctuations in tracking polls, Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz says they are "almost entirely due" to random statistical error, or "noise."
Sorry... or not. Anyway, go to Pollster.com for a nice calm assessment. Their poll average shows Obama 50.1%, McCain 44.0%. Obama is still ahead in Florida, also, though by a slimmer than comfortable margin.

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posted by JReid @ 9:44 PM  
Palin gets punked
Oh, those darned French Canadians!



Hilarious ... and surprisingly un-(vice) presidential...

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posted by JReid @ 9:34 PM  
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  
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  
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  
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  
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  
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...








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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
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.

Previous:

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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  
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  
ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
Listen now:


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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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