You Got to Be Kidding Me!

On Obama’s Election

Posted in 2008 Election by Stacy McMahon on November 5, 2008

I have a lot of thoughts, but just due to the sheer number of people talking and writing about the election none of them are original. In a nutshell, Barack Obama is my president, whether I voted for him or not. There will not – at least not here – be any “Obama Derangement Syndrome”. I think the Facebook comment exchange between myself and a friend says it fairly well:

L is content, but will always question authority…no matter who it is. 9:08am – 2 Comments

Stacy McMahon at 9:30am November 5 via Facebook Mobile
Me too – I am loving the final death of racism as a political force though 🙂

L at 10:55am November 5
As am I 🙂 As am I! I’m thrilled he won. I am. I mean…I *did* vote for him! I just don’t see him as a savior like others. That’s one of the things I couldn’t stand about all the Bushies out there.

Yep – enough of this personality cult stuff. What I and others have wanted for a long time now is a competent, reality-based President. I think we just might have that in Barack Obama. My favorite line from his victory speech (emphasis mine):

In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.

Exactly.

Election Not-Live Blogging

Posted in 2008 Election by Stacy McMahon on November 4, 2008

I thought about liveblogging the election results for a hot five minutes before I realized it would make me want to stick nails in my eyes. I checked in with a couple of networks around 8:15 and was:

1.) Not surprised the BBC had a crew of commentators sitting around chortling about the poor dumb Republicans trying to cheer themselves up by listening to choir music (ok, choir music – but still, can the BBC at least try to avoid outright self-parody?) Well, I was a little surprised to see Christopher Hitchens at the table. Hey guys, a British accent doesn’t make up for being an asshat. Particularly hilarious – the poor guy with the election return graphics trying to read the tiny numbers on the computer monitor offstage while pointing at the huge ones behind him that only viewers can see.

2.) Fox News …are you serious? Reporting multiple state returns with a miniscule percentage of precincts reporting in. No shit, they were reporting IL and MO with “<1%” and several others with 2, 5, 9, 14… And they’d called at least a dozen states and were posting electoral vote totals, apparently based on those kind of numbers. Doesn’t anyone remember all the people who called Kerry the winner without bothering to look at how much of the vote was still out?

Liveblogging the 2nd Presidential Debate

Posted in 2008 Election by Stacy McMahon on October 7, 2008

10:34 – That’s all, folks! Next debate, October 16th (?) Didn’t quite catch that. McCain and Obama both doing what they do best – glad-handing the audience. And wow, McCain comes up and pats Obama on the back, Obama turns and …ignores McCain while giving McCain’s wife a quick hello and then walking briskly away. Unsportsmanlike conduct? Anyway, goodnight all!

10:27 – Obama thinks the question is about Iran getting nukes, which in some sense it is. Then he says we can starve Iran by cutting our energy consumption. As far as I know, we don’t buy Iranian oil. But he says these talks are “understanding that we’re not taking military options off the table”.

10:26 – McCain wouldn’t wait for the UN to approve a US response if Iran attacks Israel. And he brings up the “no preconditions” canard about Obama again. Even if it wasn’t a canard, seriously, it’s just old at this point.

10:24 – Is Russia a new evil empire? Obama: no, but they’ve done evil things. McCain: this is a trick question! He thinks we can do business with the Russians. I wouldn’t have expected Obama to have the better answer on this one…

10:23 – Oops, Obama slips and says the last 8 years “have actually made us more safe”. More?

10:22 – Ignoring the repetitive, uninteresting discussion on Iraq. How to pressure Russia without starting a new cold war? McCain repeats his “I looked in his eyes and saw three letters” (K-G-B) and vaguely states that Russia needs to know we’re serious. Fair enough – right now Putin knows damn well we’re not serious. Obama suggests …moral support. Did he really say that?

10:15 – Obama says he’ll have a more coherent voice for the US government in the world when he’s president. He probably will; his campaign has been very good at putting on a unified face.

10:11 – Obama promises to kill bin Laden, crush Al Qaeda. McCain’s ideas are better (more nuanced) in this area, but Obama can articulate himself better, so he sounds relatively more like he’s got the answers.

10:04 – Brokaw adds in the Darfur questions e.g. do we intervene for strictly humanitarian reasons? Obama says it would have been nice if we’d intervened in Rwanda, but since all the world’s people love to murder each other and we can’t be everywhere, we need to restore our foreign alliances so they can take care of some of the problem children for us. McCain says, in effect, only if we’re sure we’ll win.

9:59 – Last (?) question – how will the financial crisis affect “U.S. ability to achieve peace in the world”? McCain doesn’t answer by saying only someone with military experience can judge when to intervene or not. Obama repeats all his talking points about McCain and Iraq, and says “we need that ten billion dollars a month here in the United States”. That’s a strong point, even if you support the Iraq war. My answer: we’ll be just as unable to “achieve peace in the world” when we’re broke as when we had a surplus.

9:57 – Too late, but the best debate drinking game would have been to take a shot anytime either candidate says “what he doesn’t mention is…”

9:55 – Direct question; is healthcare a right or a responsibility. Huh? Well we know what he means. McCain says responsibility. Obama says right. I watch the debate so you don’t have to…

9:54 – Apparently neither McCain nor Obama have heard of Google Health “let’s put health records on the computer!”

9:50 – One of the dumber things the candidates are arguing about is whether expanded oil drilling is worthwhile. Of course it is, but as nobody is denying, it’s not an answer by itself.

9:46 – Obama reminds me of a former coworker who had the gift of simplifying an explanation and casting it in a comedic light so that it entertains you and also gets through.

9:44 – I think McCain plays best when he plays as a curmudgeonly old grandpa. “we forced votes [on increasing environmental protection] – that’s the good news … the bad news is, we lost!”

9:41 – McCain suggests a BRAC-like approach to reforming Medicare. Not a bad idea, but is he just making this up off the cuff? He’s also giving an inspiring speech comparing his reforming record to Obama’s alleged many votes in favor of tax increases.

9:40 – Obama is beating on the tax cuts for the rich theme, while saying his plan only hits “a few percent” of small businesses with higher taxes. So have fun, few percent!

9:37 – Tom Brokaw cuts Obama off to go to the next question because “you guys agreed to the rules”, then immediately makes up a new rule himself and adds in his own question!

9:35 – Finally a good question: how do we break the habit of spending and easy credit? Obama sensibly interprets it as referring to government spending. There’s probably no way to break the public’s habit of living above their means. McCain meanwhile calls Obama a tax-and-spend liberal.

9:31 – Obama: “that includes telling the oil companies that currently have 68 million acres [of oil rights] they’re not using, that either you use them or you lose them”. That’s the second time tonight he’s suggested expropriation. Double-plus Ungood.

9:29 – McCain is talking about cutting not just Obama’s planetarium projector, but some good and nice programs too, because we just can’t afford it. You don’t hear that everyday, and we haven’t heard it sofar from Obama. But Obama does have a tendency to respond to things like that…

9:25 – McCain is really pushing nuclear power, but I didn’t and don’t think it’s realistic to “build a whole bunch of” nuclear plants. The NIMBYs haven’t gone away, and oil prices are drifting downward again.

9:21 – McCain: “the system in Washington is broken”. And he uses McCain-Feingold as an example of his bipartisan cred. Ugh. Interestingly, he’s naming several center-right government watchdog groups and suggesting people check them out. Now the Obama earmark total (per McCain) is up to $1 billion.

9:19 – The questions aren’t very interesting sofar. “How can we trust either of you with our money, when both parties got us into this global financial crisis?” Huh? Obama reminds the audience that Bill Clinton left office with a surplus, therefore the Democrats aren’t at fault…

9:18 – McCain wrote to people about the impending crisis too!

9:16 – The list of big names liveblogging the debate (via Instapundit)

9:13 – Obama does a good job of connecting credit markets to main street (no commercial paper = no payroll) He’s also making a lot out of his letters to Paulson and others saying the housing market was in a bubble, and that McCain was in favor of deregulation all this time.

9:12 – McCain blames Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on “Senator Obama and his cronies”. By all accounts, that’s a fair shot.

9:10 – McCain wants to name Meg Whitman (eBay) as SecTreas; Obama isn’t sure who he wants.

9:08 – McCain wants to fix the economy by stopping “the spending spree that’s going on in Washington”, but doesn’t mention that most of that is for the war he supports. He wants the government to buy the worst mortgages and hold them into the eventual recovery, which is at least more reasonable than sending the government after rich CEOs.

9:06 – Obama is blaming the financial crisis on deregulation, and deregulation on Bush. Executives should be fired and their bonuses and golden parachutes confiscated, apparently by the government. And uh, tax cuts for the middle class. Wait, what?

9:03 – First question: where’s my (senior citizen) bailout??

9:02 – I like the Town Hall format, but the burning question …will anyone ask what kind of undies they wear?

And here we go…

Factcheck.org Whoppers of 2008

Posted in 2008 Election, Politics by Stacy McMahon on October 7, 2008

Factcheck.org has their “Whoppers of 2008” feature out early, since they’ve “already seen such a large number of twisted facts, misleading claims and outright falsehoods”. Sounds about right to me. So besides the obvious (Palin’s disingenuous claim that she was a voice in the wilderness opposing the bridge to nowhere) what’ve they got for us? Some of my favorites:

  • Obama’s misleading claim that McCain wants to give a tax break to Big Oil. “…these tax cuts are the result of an across-the-board decrease in corporate tax rates, which would also benefit companies that provide alternative energy.”
  • McCain’s claim that Obama canceled a visit with injured soldiers because there weren’t going to be any cameras. “Obama had previously visited wounded soldiers at Walter Reed and in Baghdad – both without cameras in tow. He did cancel a visit to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany after the Pentagon told him that […] an Obama foreign policy adviser, would not be permitted to accompany him. Obama said afterward that he had ‘a concern that maybe our visit was going to be perceived as political.'”
  • McCain’s figure of $700 billion paid for oil, to “countries that don’t like us very much”. “That’s an exaggeration. In fact, we actually pay more like $536 billion for the oil we need, and one-third of those payments go to Canada, Mexico and the U.K.” Of course that’s still $175 million more than I’d prefer to pay to subsidize terrorists.

The VP Debate

Posted in 2008 Election, Politics by Stacy McMahon on October 2, 2008

“This is the most important election any of you will have voted in, since 1932

Did Biden just Godwin the debate?

Aside from that, I’m not seeing anything from either candidate to make anyone change their minds about them.

Liveblogging the Presidential Debate

Posted in 2008 Election, Politics by Stacy McMahon on September 26, 2008

Since one of the big topics tonight was alternative energy, check out the discussion at PickensPlan.com (once it recovers from the traffic spike)

10:37 – Closing statements: Obama says children around the world need to see America as that shining beacon again. McCain says he came home from Vietnam to work for a better world. McCain and Obama don’t spend any extra time on the “good game” handshake. They don’t like each other. Now for the media BS

10:34 – Obama: “that sense” of broader strategic vision is what he wants to restore. But I think that’s the issue a lot of people have with him – he’s more interested in giving people a certain sense of things than of the substance behind that sense. Have to say, though, he’s put on a VERY impressive show tonight. Obama almost seems more grown up than McCain.

10:30 – McCain is avoiding the standing-in-the-world question, a sign of the circles he travels in. Liberals care a lot about that. Conservatives have to be reminded that some other people think it’s an issue.

10:29 – Obama: we need missile defense, Al Qaeda has to be top priority. He will “restore America’s standing in the world” – a sign of the circles he travels in. Lehrer asks if McCain agrees with that

10:26 – Last question: what’s the chance of another terrorist attack on US soil? McCain: less than on 9/12/01

10:25 – McCain: drilling is “a bridge” to the energy future. Obama smirks – I bet he’s thinking there’s a bridge-to-nowhere joke in there.

10:23 – Obama admits offshore drilling is part of the path to energy independence, says McCain voted 23 times against alternative energy. Now McCain looks annoyed.

10:21 – Not really apropos of the topic, but McCain gives a nice little rather scary (because accurate) assessment of Russia’s motives and intentions in eastern Europe. Obama says he agrees.

10:19 – McCain can pronounce Saakashvili’s name correctly. That’s something.

10:17 – Obama is much more impressive on foreign policy than I expected. Unlike any other Democrat (and half the Republicans) I can think of, he’s spent a combined half hour or so tonight talking geopolitics and hasn’t come up with one single howler.

10:15 – Ok really, McCain needs to drop this obsession with “no preconditions”. It’s lame. Obama did a good job explaining what he means (though his hair-splitting between “preconditions” and “preparation” reminds me of W’s “affirmative access” instead of affirmative action)

10:11 – Obama has a head full of facts, even on foreign policy. Still not clear whether he’s more of a Bill Clinton or a Jimmy Carter in that respect.

10:07 – Obama points out that Iran has been, to some extent, whipped into shape by pressure from US expeditions in the last 7 years. And it doesn’t make sense to refuse to talk to anyone; talking is just talking. McCain somewhat unconvincingly says “there’s gotta be preconditions” or else the world will somehow take a cue that the dictator is A-OK.

10:04 – McCain says he’s proposed a “league of democracies” – I like that idea, have liked it for a long time. Dictatorships shouldn’t get to make decisions. He also says Iran is covertly fighting US troops in Iraq, which by all accounts they are.

10:00 – McCain flogging the (also undeniable) point that a set-in-stone withdrawal date for Iraq will make life a lot easier for the bad guys. Lehrer goes to a new question: Iran

9:56 – Obama does a neat trick for a lefty – he almost seems serious when he’s talking about military strategy!

9:52 – Obama makes the hard-to-deny point that Iraq would (at least in hindsight) have remained quiet if left alone, and we wouldn’t have been stretched nearly as thin in fighting Al Qaeda. “A strategic mistake”.

9:50 – Obama is looking annoyed again. He’s got a good reason – McCain is more or less playing the ‘liberal’ card on him – but looking angry and antsy isn’t presidential (not that McCain’s giggly reaction to attacks is either)

9:47 – McCain says Obama refuses to acknowledge progress in Iraq, but he (McCain) just said a minute ago that Obama is now lauding the progress in Iraq!

9:43 – McCain flogging the fact that he was right about the surge in Iraq, and Obama was wrong. Obama responds that he’s very proud of his VP pick. Obama is hanging the 2003 version of Iraq strategy on McCain.

9:40 – Ann Althouse says something interesting: “McCain says those earmarks corrupt people, and Obama is proposing $800 million in new spending. Obama looks annoyed. He doesn’t know where that number comes from.” That strikes me as potentially a thoughtful response by Obama – he’s worried that might really be the right number and he just didn’t realize it. Bad from the horse race POV, but a quality I like to see in a person.

9:38 – Obama calls Bush “your president” (talking to McCain) …I don’t think the ‘McSame’ line is very effective outside of the cohort that was already voting Obama.

9:37 – McCain: “I know spending can be brought under control. I’ve fought my entire career to control spending” – doesn’t that indicate it can’t be brought under control?

9:37 – McCain mentions prioritizing veterans’ affairs again. He must personally feel we’re not doing enough right now

9:34 – McCain has lots of specifics, especially in alternative energy. Lehrer asks his question a third time.

9:32 – Lehrer asks again. He’s not getting an answer. McCain says spending freeze on everything but defense, veterans’ affairs and medicare. Obama says you need a scalpel, not a hatchet (reminds me of Kerry’s ‘nuance’)

9:31 – Lehrer asks for specific ways each candidate will tighten their policy belt due to financial crisis. Obama says he’s worked with Tom Coburn. But that’s McCain’s name to drop!

9:29 – McCain says he’s against ethanol subsidies. He may have my vote just for that. And he’s against defense contract cost overruns. I know people in DOD contracting and he’s the real deal as far as that goes.

9:27 – Obama sounds good saying “we aren’t going to be able to do everything I think should be done”. What’s high priority? Alternative energy. What’s the difference between these guys again?

9:24 – McCain keeps flogging his record of opposing spending. Obama looks to be getting a little angry. Is he?

9:22 – Obama says business taxes only look high, McCain will tax health benefits “for the first time in history”

9:21 – McCain says tax cuts are needed because Ireland has much lower corporate income taxes and we need to compete. And $18 billion in earmarks really is a big deal.

9:20 – Obama is really flogging the tax-cuts-for-the-rich theme. Lehrer asks McCain to respond to that directly

9:17 – Obama says [total, not his own – Ed] earmarks are $18 billion, but McCain is proposing $300 billion in tax cuts. Continuing the Washington definition of a tax cut as a form of spending is change you can believe in!

9:14 – McCain identifies spending that’s “completely out of control”, brings up Congressional corruption, says Obama has asked for “nearly $1 million for every day he’s been in the Senate” in earmarks

9:13 – And no, they’re not talking to each other.

9:12 – McCain repeats the story about Ike’s letter taking responsibility for the potential failure of D-Day to defend his call for the SEC chair to resign. “We’ve got to bring back accountability”. He’s right. Most of our problems these days seem to be related to people not having to suffer from their bad decisions.

9:10 – Obama: I, the freshman senator who’s never worked in the private sector, called the Secretary of the Treasury two years ago to make sure he knew there was a problem!

9:08 – Lehrer just told them to “talk to each other” …will they? Not sofar.

9:07 – McCain and Obama are both sticking to their joint statement on recovery, and both are long on good ideas (transparency, accountability, main street not wall street) and short – completely lacking, actually – on specifics

9:05 – First question is on the financial crisis. Obama’s position is good, minus the tacked-on McCain = Bush (which isn’t really very true) …and did he really say all that in two minutes?

9:03 – Interesting that Lehrer made up the questions himself with no help or public input

9:01 – I’m here and watching…

Left Begins Preparing Race Excuse

Posted in 2008 Election, Politics by Stacy McMahon on September 22, 2008

Editor and Publisher talks about an Associated Press poll purporting to show that the percentage of voters who may vote against Barack Obama because he’s black could exceed the probable margin in a close election. Besides supporting my theory that this will be uglier the closer it is, it also confirms the blindingly obvious – that “liberals” will loudly, publicly and mindlessly blame racism if Obama should happen to lose. The interesting part is that the poll picks on Democrats:

an AP-Yahoo News poll that found one-third of white Democrats harbor negative views toward blacks—many calling them ‘lazy,’ “violent’ or responsible for their own troubles.

Cynic that I am, I just don’t believe there’s any chance that the focus on Dems indicates that someone noticed the allegedly racist and sexist GOP has serially supported Alan Keyes, JC Watts, Elizabeth Dole and now Sarah Palin for national offices, while the jackass party lamely proclaimed Bill Clinton “the first black President”, apparently because he had some of those pesky personal troubles.

Impressively, Barack Obama continues to be the only person in and around his campaign who doesn’t lean on the race crutch hard enough to compress a titanium I-beam.

No More Palin

Posted in 2008 Election, Politics, Sarah Palin by Stacy McMahon on September 14, 2008

Ok, so I’ve written several posts here about how weird the chattering classes’ reaction to Sarah Palin has been. I’m done with that, though. Not because I’ve said my piece or because the issue is resolved (it obviously isn’t) but because it’s clearly gone past the point of rational discussion. For no reason I can see, this woman has become a love-or-hate lightning rod for half the people on the right and almost everyone on the left (to his credit, as I’ve said before, that 99% of the left doesn’t include Barack Obama, which is encouraging since he’ll probably be our next President)

So, my new plan is to “vet” both presidential candidates based on their stated positions and whatever reliable third-party information I can find. I do have a life, so we’ll see if I get that done. What I am done with, though, is talking about, reading about or thinking about Sarah Palin. A whole lot of people need to take a chill pill.

Debunking the Palin Rumors

Posted in 2008 Election, Politics, Sarah Palin by Stacy McMahon on September 11, 2008

Charlie Martin at PJM has a long and funny list of Sarah Palin rumors debunked (via Instapundit. Note that he sticks pretty close to reality (great humor always does)

A few of my faves:

Yes, she did giggle when someone called Lyda Green a “bitch.” Yes, Lyda Green is a cancer survivor. Yes, it was the same Lyda Green who tried to force a scheduling conflict that would make Palin miss her son’s high school graduation. Yes, this would also be the Lyda Green who complained no one had asked her about Palin during the vetting process.

That’s small town politics for you. I know, because my parents are involved in small town politics and it’s just like that, i.e. just like high school when, say, anyone who got it in their head that you snubbed them will show up again later with an interesting, off-the-wall and untrue story about you for public consumption.

Yes, it seems unlikely that she’s going to be in hiding for the next two weeks, seeing as she’s been in rallies twice in the last two days. Or at least it’s going to be real rough, given that she has three media interviews scheduled today (September 6) alone.

Having Palin “hiding from the media” is a big meme for Andrew Sullivan and others pushing the theory that she’s a doe-eyed rube nominated without any vetting whatsoever by the McCain campaign. Of course that theory is obviously ridiculous, but it’s clear that only hard proof is going to make the Palin-haters shut up – maybe that’s why Sullivan’s blog has been pretty quiet the last several hours (I wrote this post yesterday – Sullivan’s back now but the focus is conspicuously off of Palin.)

No, she didn’t cut funding for unwed mothers; yes, she did increase it by “only” 354 percent instead of 454 percent, as part of a multi-year capital expenditures program. No, the Washington Post doesn’t appear to have corrected their story.

I can actually sort of see why the Post wouldn’t consider this one a big deal – in DC, it’s common to describe a smaller budget increase as a “cut”. Of course that in itself cuts in favor of Palin’s outsider image.

Yes, she did ask the librarian if some books could be withdrawn because of being offensive; no, they couldn’t; yes, it was “rhetorical,, at least as was reported contemporaneously in 1996 (and thanks to Cecil Turner@ Just One Minute for this); yes, she did threaten to fire the librarian a month later; no, that wasn’t over the books thing but instead over administrative issues; no, the librarian wasn’t fired either; yes, the librarian was a big supporter of one of her political opponents; yes, the librarian was also a close friend of the chief of police mentioned above; no, this is not the first time in the history of civilization that someone has been threatened with being fired over a political dispute.

This is important – the book-banning thing, if true, is a big point against her. It’s also (like a lot of the rumors) a stock caricature of Christians/rural people/anyone else outside Manhattan, so the press needs to dig deeper. So, as with everything else, the press blogs will dig deeper.

Yes, she’s an was an Assembly of God holy roller. No, she doesn’t attend an AoG church now. Yes, she did leave the AoG because they were getting too weird for her.

 

No, she’s not from another planet. No, I haven’t actually heard that one yet, but you wait. Okay, I have now heard it.

Yes, she was vetted extensively, not just in three days — I’ve got links to press reports about people coming to Wasilla on May 29, and we had her on our Veepstakes at PJM from the first day we ran it.

Uh oh, what ever will Sullivan do with this obvious news???

Yes, she did put the governor’s plane on eBay. No, that’s not how it was finally sold. Yes, McCain did say it wrong. Bad McCain.

Isn’t this all the media vetting that the media has been clamoring for? Wait, except it was done by alternative media, while the MSM were .. uh, what were they doing again? Oh that’s right – perpetuating the rumors. Great reporting there, Lou!

Keep Your Shirt On.

Posted in 2008 Election, Politics by Stacy McMahon on September 9, 2008

Josh Marshall (via Stephen Bainbridge):

The TPM email bag this morning is chock of emails saying, in so many words, is it time to panic? I’m actually not taking much summary license here. Most of the emails I’m talking about actually ends with some form of that sentence.

He means, is McCain suddenly going to win because of l’affaire Palin? In a word, no. For sure, Obama needs to get out in front of things. But he has before, and probably will again. The fundamentals – that even McCain needs to run against Bush to get a majority – haven’t changed, though the Palin pick has usefully reminded the country what “liberalism” is really all about these days. That might be the difference between a landslide and a simple majority, but my gut says it’s not enough to bring what most people see as more or less a third term for Bush’s major policies.