Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

So, I decided to dress up as a Phillies Fan for Halloween -- and decorated my computer at work to match.

Now (as I've mentioned a million times before), I'm not a sports fan, but I'm condemned to live my live among sports fiends -- from my father and brothers to my husband and daughter. To the shock of my colleagues at the office (the LLWL), I even watched the winning game of the World Series the other night. First, I watched Obama's Campaign Show (which I thought was very well done), then my daughter IM'ed me from Miami to tell me I had to watch the game. So I did and we IM'ed at bit (and she called my husband a few times on the phone) to share this bit of Philly sports history with us. She was so excited -- hype, as she called it -- that it made it so for me too.

She was devastated that she couldn't be here for the parade. In her honor, I dressed up for Halloween as a Phillies Fan & emailed her a picture.

It's Terminal Alright

The Phillies may have won the World Series on Wednesday, but another Philly tradition didn't fare so well that day.

I wrote about the great steak controversy before, where the owner of Rick's Steaks was evicted from the Reading Terminal Market. Rick Olivieri fought the eviction, but the ensuing litigation ended up being settled out of court.

As a result, Rick’s Steaks has officially closed up shop at the Reading Terminal Market on Wednesday. He cleaned out his stuff today. After 25 years at the Reading Terminal, Olivieri was evicted from his sandwich stand after a lease battle with the nonprofit board that manages the Market. Rick's Steaks serves its last at terminal. The legal ordeal cost Olivieri over $310,000 in legal fees, and still resulted in his having to leave the Reading Terminal. A recent Philly Magazine piece describes the epic battle, that ended up being a clash between the market staples, like Olivieri, and the new face of managment who wants to turn the Market into the same vanilla-type eatery that you would find in the food court at the mall. Icons: A Volatile Market.

The only good news is that it appears that no one is planning to take Olivieri's spot for the foreseeable future. At first, it looked like Tony Luke’s would take over the spot, but the future is now is unclear. I hope the ghost of Rick's Steaks lingers for a while.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Penn's Phillies

Of course the Phillies were going to win the World Series, and it had to be today.

After all, Billy Penn landed in what's now Chester, Pennsylvania on this day in 1682 to take ownership of the tract of land granted to him by King Charles II, which he called Penn's Woods.

Now that the brim of Billy Penn's hat has been restored to its rightful place above the top of the highest building in the City of Brotherly Love, the curse has been banished. And it was only fitting that it happened on the anniversary of his arrival in Pennsylvania.

Go Phillies!!

Cartoon of the Day

Tony Auth, Philadelphia Inquirer

The White Vote is the Right Vote

New York. Philadelphia. The New York Times. The Philadelphia Inquirer. The contrast between the two cities/papers is crystallized by the op-ed page of last Sunday's paper.

Frank Rich wrote a thoughtful piece on the upcoming presidential election and the impact of race in the outcome. Comparing McCain to my favorite racist, George "Macaca" Allen (the former Senator from Virginia), Rich notes the an electorate that dismissed Allen is likewise rejecting the similar tactics of McCain, In Defense of White Americans:

As we saw first in the Democratic primary results and see now in the widespread revulsion at the McCain-Palin tactics, white Americans are not remotely the bigots the G.O.P. would have us believe. Just because a campaign trades in racism doesn’t mean that the country is racist. It’s past time to come to the unfairly maligned white America’s defense.
Despite the best efforts of the media to stoke the racial flames by trying to "ratchet up this election cycle’s prevailing antiwhite bias," Rich suggests that the public isn't performing according to script. There is no evidence of a lingering "Bradley effect" in the voting booth, where the voter says yes to Obama until he pulls the lever behind the curtain, according to Rich. And, as Hillary Clinton found out during the Democratic primary, racial appeals no longer have the quite the return on investment that they did in the good old days:
So do all those deer hunters in western Pennsylvania. Once Hillary Clinton whipped Obama in the Rust Belt, it’s been a bloviation staple (echoing the Clinton camp’s line) that a black guy is doomed among Reagan Democrats, Joe Sixpacks, rednecks, Joe the Plumbers or whichever condescending term you want to choose. (Clinton at one low point settled on “hard-working Americans, white Americans.”) Michigan in particular was repeatedly said to be slipping out of the Democrats’ reach because of incorrigible racism — until McCain abandoned it as hopeless this month in the face of a double-digit Obama lead.

The constant tide of anthropological articles and television reports set in blue-collar diners, bars and bowling alleys have hyped this racial theory of the race. So did the rampant misreading of primary-season exit polls. On cable TV and the Sunday network shows, there was endless chewing over the internal numbers in the Clinton victories. It was doomsday news for Obama, for instance, that some 12 percent of white Democratic primary voters in Pennsylvania said race was a factor in their choice and three-quarters of them voted for Clinton. Ipso facto — and despite the absence of any credible empirical evidence — these Clinton voters would either stay home or flock to McCain in November.

The McCain campaign is so dumb that it bought into the press’s confirmation of its own prejudices. Even though registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by 1.2 million in Pennsylvania (more than double the 2004 gap), even though Obama leads by double digits in almost every recent Pennsylvania poll and even though no national Republican ticket has won there since 1988, McCain started pouring his dwindling resources into the state this month. When the Democratic Representative John Murtha described his own western Pennsylvania district as a “racist area,” McCain feigned outrage and put down even more chips on the race card, calling the region the “most patriotic, most God-loving” part of America.

Well, there are racists in western Pennsylvania, as there are in most pockets of our country. But despite the months-long drumbeat of punditry to the contrary, there are not and have never been enough racists in 2008 to flip this election. In the latest New York Times/CBS News and Pew national polls, Obama is now pulling even with McCain among white men, a feat accomplished by no Democratic presidential candidate in three decades, Bill Clinton included. The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey finds age doing more damage to McCain than race to Obama.
And then there's the Philly version on the issue. Unlike Rich's optimistic opinion of the white voter, Jonathan Valania of Phawker takes a darker view and suggests that whites have so muddled the country that they don't deserve the right to vote. Rather than mounting an appeal to the better nature of the white electorate, Valania opines in the Inky, White people shouldn't be allowed to vote:
As a lifelong Caucasian, I am beginning to think the time has finally come to take the right to vote away from white people, at least until we come to our senses. Seriously, I just don't think we can be trusted to exercise it responsibly anymore.

I give you Exhibit A: The last eight years.

In 2000, Bush-Cheney stole the election, got us attacked, and then got us into two no-exit wars. Four years later, white people reelected them. Is not the repetition of the same behavior over and over again with the expectation of a different outcome the very definition of insanity? (It is, I looked it up.)

Exhibit B is any given Sarah Palin rally.

Exhibit C would be Ed Rendell and John Murtha, who in separate moments of on-the-record candor they would come to regret, pointing out that there are plenty of people in Pennsylvania who just cannot bring themselves to pull the lever for a black man - no matter what they tell pollsters.
So what does Valania do? He stereotypes the white voter:

These people are ruining things for the rest of us white people who are ready to move on. Sure, they have their reasons, chimerical though they may be: He's a Muslim. He's a terrorist. He's a Muslim terrorist. He's going to fire all the white people and give their jobs to blacks.

But those are just the little white lies these people allow themselves to be told, a self-induced cognitive dissonance that lets them avoid saying the unsayable: I cannot pull the lever for a black man.

And then he proposes that all white people be treated alike, by being denied the right to vote:

That's why this ban on white people voting I'm proposing has got to be statewide. And I'm sorry to say, it's going to have to include all white people, even those who would vote for Obama, because you can't just let some white people vote. That would be unfair.

By this point, you either think I am joking or are calling me an elitist. I assure you I am neither. OK, maybe a little of both. But it wasn't always like this. I come from the Coal Belt, from that Alabamian hinterland between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, as per James Carville's famous formulation.

* * * *

So, understand that I am saying all this for the good of the country and, in fact, for the good of those hard-working white people that Hillary used to pander to.

See also, EDITORIAL: Why Whitey Can’t Vote. And there's another take that Valenia wrote during the primary, during Clinton's racist phase, describing various voter flavors, such as The Angry Male Voter and The Values Voter/The Flag Pin Voter. My favorite:

The Undecided Voter
Their vote is like throwing stones in a pond on a moonless night. You hear the splash but you don’t know where it went in. Anybody who tells a pollster on the eve of an election that they are still — STILL, after endless debates, 24-7 media coverage and non-stop dueling campaign ads on TV — undecided is either stupid or lying, and probably both. After being reminded that a LOT of people died to ensure their right to vote and the very LEAST you could do is make up your fucking mind, these people should be slapped across the forehead with a wet mackerel until they leave the polling place.

And here's an expanded video version of Valania's essay:

Not surprisingly, not all white people agree with Valania's proposal. See DEATH OF PRINT: Inquirer Circulation Plunges In The Wake Of Outrageous Phawker Guest Editorial and HOT DOCUMENT: London Calling.

I guess some people just see everything in black and white.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Still Crazy After All These Years

I finally read the John McCain Rolling Stone piece by Tim Dickinson that a number of people sent to me. It is no secret that I have never been enthralled by John McCain, unlike some of my more moderate (or even, heaven-forbid, Republican friends and colleagues). I always thought that he was a fake and a fraud. But many pundits (and friends) have expressed surprise and dismay over the course of this campaign and the John McCain that has emerged.

The Rolling Stone article should put to rest any lingering doubts about the Real John McCain. It's long, but it's a must read. As the piece notes, Make-Believe Maverick:

This is the story of the real John McCain, the one who has been hiding in plain sight. It is the story of a man who has consistently put his own advancement above all else, a man willing to say and do anything to achieve his ultimate ambition: to become commander in chief, ascending to the one position that would finally enable him to outrank his four-star father and grandfather.

In its broad strokes, McCain's life story is oddly similar to that of the current occupant of the White House. John Sidney McCain III and George Walker Bush both represent the third generation of American dynasties. Both were born into positions of privilege against which they rebelled into mediocrity. Both developed an uncanny social intelligence that allowed them to skate by with a minimum of mental exertion. Both struggled with booze and loutish behavior. At each step, with the aid of their fathers' powerful friends, both failed upward. And both shed their skins as Episcopalian members of the Washington elite to build political careers as self-styled, ranch-inhabiting Westerners who pray to Jesus in their wives' evangelical churches.

In one vital respect, however, the comparison is deeply unfair to the current president: George W. Bush was a much better pilot.

This, of course, is not the story McCain tells about himself. Few politicians have so actively, or successfully, crafted their own myth of greatness. In McCain's version of his life, he is a prodigal son who, steeled by his brutal internment in Vietnam, learned to put "country first." Remade by the Keating Five scandal that nearly wrecked his career, the story goes, McCain re-emerged as a "reformer" and a "maverick," righteously eschewing anything that "might even tangentially be construed as a less than proper use of my office."

It's a myth McCain has cultivated throughout his decades in Washington. But during the course of this year's campaign, the mask has slipped. "Let's face it," says Larry Wilkerson, a retired Army colonel who served as chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell. "John McCain made his reputation on the fact that he doesn't bend his principles for politics. That's just not true."

After reading that expose, I searched my archives to see when I first began writing about McCain. It was not long after I began this little adventure back in the fall of 2005. In fact, one piece that was posted on November 27, 2005 (a month shy of 3 years ago), Not the Real McCoy, is just as true today as it was then:

What you see isn't always what you get. As a follow up to this recent post, The Company You Keep, this month's Nation has an article on John McCain, aptly titled The Real McCain:
Speaking of the misimpression McCain has promoted on both the right and the left, author Ari Berman says that "the senator they saw projected a far more conciliatory image than the trash-talking maverick portrayed in the national media. Before the event he had endorsed teaching "intelligent design" alongside evolution in public schools, and he had expressed support for a rigid state ban on gay marriage that denies government benefits to any unmarried couple. . . . McCain [addressed a conservative right wing group], referring to Reagan as "my hero," invoking the support of other conservatives on issues such as stem-cell research and immigration, and strenuously defending President Bush's Iraq policy."

* * * *

"In fact, McCain has always been far more conservative than either his supporters or detractors acknowledge. In 2004 he earned a perfect 100 percent rating from Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum and a 0 percent from NARAL. Citizens Against Government Waste dubs him a "taxpayer hero." He has opposed extension of the assault-weapons ban, federal hate crimes legislation and the International Criminal Court. He has supported school vouchers, a missile defense shield and private accounts for Social Security. Well before 9/11 McCain advocated a new Reagan Doctrine of "rogue-state rollback."

""He's a foreign policy hawk, a social conservative and a fiscal conservative who believes in tax cuts but not at the expense of the deficit,' says Marshall Wittmann, a former McCain staffer and conservative activist who now works at the Democratic Leadership Council. McCain's ideology resembles an exotic cocktail of Teddy Roosevelt, Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan--a conservative before conservatism was bankrupted by fundamentalism and corporatism. His centrist reputation simply proves how far right the center has shifted in Republican politics. 'The median stance for Senate Republicans in the early 1970s was significantly to the left of current GOP maverick John McCain,' write political scientists Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson in their book Off-Center. 'By the early 2000s, however, the median Senate Republican was essentially twice as conservative--just shy of the ultraconservative position of Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.'"
It is truly breathtaking when you think of how far the Republican Party has shifted things in this county. Issues affected range from things such as how policy has become politics, dissent has been silenced and the media has become propaganda. The Republican Party has become entrenched in many areas of many states through extreme gerrymandering in various political districts. And the center has moved to the right in a significant way.

Even if the current crew in the White House and Congress gets indicted (and convicted) from one of the many criminal investigations currently underway or voted out due to voter backlash from an assortment of reasons, from the war, the economy, the lies and misrepresentations, the replacements aren't necessarily going to be a substantial improvement.

As Nathan Newman observed in a post on TPMCafe, The John McCain Scam, "One of the danger signs for Democrats that a Bush collapse doesn't necessarily mean much for progressive gains in policy are the polls showing that John McCain could step up and poll almost twenty points more than either Hillary Clinton or John Kerry in 2008."

And whenever you think McCain's not so bad, just remember that the Center for Republicans is not that far removed from Rick Santorum.


It's interesting to see that the names Clinton and Kerry were the only Democrats then on the horizon for 2008 -- no Barack Obama in sight.

And then there was PA's own Rick Santorum. Hopefully, John McCain will go the way of Santorum in the next week.

The Existential Wardrobe

In the scheme of things, I realize that that the Sarah Palin wardrobe story isn't the most important issue in the campaign. However, a few of the recent comments made by Palin (& her cronies) has raised a few questions and even made me wonder about -- and perhaps reconsider, Palin.

First of all, it seems as though the "sexist" card is being played with the whole $150,000 wardrobe matter. Apparently, "The View" co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who is campaigning with Palin, accused Palin's opponents of being "fixated on her wardrobe" and "deliberately sexist." See Palin and Hasselbeck blast ‘ridiculous’ wardrobe story. Now, I'm glad she has raised this issue and although I don't follow The View (so I don't know who Hasselbeck is), I assume that she raised the same issue on behalf of John Edwards when he was being pilloried over his $400 haircut. Surely, it was just as sexist to criticize a male for caring about his appearance as Palin over her clothes and makeup.

Then, there was the statement by John McCain that some of the clothes that were bought by the Republican National Committee for Palin were returned after they were purchased. McCain campaign says Palin returned much of clothing GOP bought for her at high-end stores. So, what's up with that? Surely, they don't mean that they pulled that old trick of wearing an outfit once, putting the tag back on & returning it to the store? Or, do they mean that Sarah, a la Meryl Streep in the Devil Wears Prada, rifles through the racks, rejecting clothes with a withering sneer.

But, there is yet another possibility. As the Political Ticker notes:

Ensuring that news of the Republican National Committee's sartorial spending spree will remain in the headlines for at least one more news cycle, Sarah Palin on Sunday sounded off on the $150,000 wardrobe that was purchased for her in September, denouncing the report as "ridiculous" and declaring emphatically: "Those clothes, they are not my property." (Emphasis added)
Could it be that I have seriously underestimated (as many have) Sarah Palin?

When she said that those clothes "are not my property," could she have been speaking existentially?

That is, the nature of the individual and her relationship with others is one of the most important questions in philosophy. Is the individual solitary, outside of society? And does (or how does) the individual relate to the whole of society? And what of the interplay between individualism and freedom and property? More importantly, what is "property" after all in the existential sense? What about the right to private property? Or communal property rights?

Pope Leo XIII wrote "It is surely undeniable that, when a man engages in remunerative labor, the impelling reason and motive of his work is to obtain property, and thereafter to hold it as his very own."

This is similar to the libertarian and conservative view, which holds the belief that all property ownership is justified either through labor or fair exchange, and any wealth distribution that contradicts this principle is immoral. Yet, Palin seems to suggest that ownership of property is not necessarily an absolute individual right, but must yield to the common ownership and I would hesitate to apply a label to that line of thought.

Could these have been the source of her deep thoughts on the fallacy of wardrobe ownership?

(Cartoon via Jerry Holbert, Boston Herald)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hope in the Field

Despite my occasional grousing about Pennsylvania, I am fond of the state (which is why I've spent my life here). We enjoy each of the seasons, we have history galore. We have tradition and gorgeous terrain, from the Mummers, to Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, to Hershey and Lancaster County, to the Pocono mountains to the Great Lakes of Erie.

We also have wonderful, funny and funky names of cities and towns. Intercourse. Paradise. Blue Ball. Bird-in-Hand. Slippery Rock. Conshohocken.

Growing up in Scranton, there were names of towns in the surrounding area that I just loved. One of my favorites was Shickshinny (along with Mehoopany, Tunkhannock, and Promised Land).

Shickskinny is in the news for the work of a group of local artists, who painted a 100-foot poster in a field on the land of a couple, who are artists and Obama supporters. As the Times Leader reports, ‘Hopeful’ painting:

Shickshinny residents Hilary Ross and Jim Lenox believe in hope and in Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s vision of hope.

* * * *
Thinking bigger is better, Ross and Lenox decided to use their artistic talents to create a 102-by-70-foot painting of Obama on their lawn based on the artwork of Los Angeles artist Shepard Fairey .

* * * *

After borrowing a friend’s copy of the Fairey poster, the couple spent 10 days laying out the 7,000-square-foot grid and outlining the painting.

Then it was time to paint. The couple held a painting party at their home on Sunday, inviting 15 artist friends and Obama supporters to come “color by numbers” as Lenox, 47, called it.

They used a water-based athletic field paint. After more than seven hours, they still weren’t finished so Lenox and Ross completed the work on Monday afternoon.

Inspiring indeed.

(Photo above via the Barack Obama and Joe Biden campaign website, which also has a slide show of the Making of the Field of Hope. Photo below via AP).

The Pennsylvania Shuffle

Many years ago, James Carville famously said that Pennsylvania was made up of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between, which has long been part of the lore of the state's politics, with the two larger cities seen as more progressive, with the mix of suburbs, rural communities and small cities and towns that lean more Republican and offer far less racial diversity.

The PA GOP is apparently trying to change that image. That is, they don't want Pittsburgh or Philly excluded.

First, there was the McCain volunteer who falsely claimed to be attacked & mugged by a black male, who was provoked by the sight of a McCain bumper sticker on her car. See McCain volunteer admits to hoax. Despite denials by the party, the hoax, with its racial overtones, was pushed by the McCain campaign in the media. Time for Answers.

Then, Philadelphia decided to get in on the act, by sending an email to 75,000 Jewish voters in the state, warning that electing Obama could lead to a second Holocaust. As noted by the Caucus, Pennsylvania Republicans Send False Anti-Obama E-mail:

A new e-mail making the rounds among Jewish voters in Pennsylvania this week falsely alleged that Mr. Obama “taught members of Acorn to commit voter registration fraud,’’ and equated a vote for Senator Barack Obama with the “tragic mistake” of their Jewish ancestors, who “ignored the warning signs in the 1930’s and 1940’s.”

At first blush, it was typical of the sorts of e-mails floating around with false, unsubstantiated and incendiary claims this year.

But where most of the attack e-mails against Mr. Obama have been mostly either anonymous or from people outside of mainstream politics, this one had an unusually official provenance: It was sponsored by the Pennsylvania Republican Party’s “Victory 2008” committee.

And it was signed by several prominent McCain supporters in the state: Mitchell L. Morgan, a top fund-raiser; Hon. Sandra Schwartz Newman, a [former PA Supreme Court judge &] member of Mr. McCain’s national task-force monitoring Election Day voting, and I. Michael Coslov, a steel industry executive.
Of course, the PA GOP is trying to distance itself from the email once it was exposed. However, McCain's Pennsylvania communications director, Peter Feldman, is the man at the center of both incidents, see Feldman Speaks -- But Not About Hoax.

It's apparently all part of McCain's new strategy to carry the Keystone state: Racism & Anti-semitism. The GOP's idea of uniting the Commonwealth.

Cartoon of the Day

Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal Constitution

The Rogue Rose of Alaska

As the date of decision draws near in this seemingly perpetual election of 2008, it doesn't look too rosy for the McCain/Palin ticket or the GOP generally.

Having been a part of a number of law firms over the years, both big and small, I've been able to observe firsthand the politics of law firm life. When everybody's "fat & happy" as they say, people are more willing to be magnanimous and overlook slackers and other problematic partners. However, when times get tough, it's every man for himself. Those personality quirks that were mere eccentricities all of a sudden become major character flaws that have caused or at least contributed to the current crisis. An internal battle usually ensues, with ugly accusations and blame, retribution and finally, a purging.

These recollections remind me of the final days of the McCain/Palin campaign.

The blame game appears to be in high gear, even before the election is held, Blame game: GOP forms circular firing squad:

“If you really want to see what ‘going negative’ is in politics, just watch the back-stabbing and blame game that we’re starting to see,” said Mark McKinnon, the ad man who left the campaign after McCain wrapped up the GOP primary. “And there’s one common theme: Everyone who wasn’t part of the campaign could have done better.”

“The cake is baked,” agreed a former McCain strategist. “We’re entering the finger-pointing and positioning-for-history part of the campaign. It’s every man for himself now.”
Every man for himself -- or woman, that is. Sarah Palin has apparently decided that it's time for her to be herself. CNN's Political Ticker reports on the "new & improved" version of Palin, Palin's 'going rogue,' McCain aide says:
With 10 days until Election Day, long-brewing tensions between GOP vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin and key aides to Sen. John McCain have become so intense, they are spilling out in public, sources say.

Several McCain advisers have suggested to CNN that they have become increasingly frustrated with what one aide described as Palin "going rogue."

A Palin associate, however, said the candidate is simply trying to "bust free" of what she believes was a damaging and mismanaged roll-out.

McCain sources say Palin has gone off-message several times, and they privately wonder whether the incidents were deliberate. . . .

A second McCain source says she appears to be looking out for herself more than the McCain campaign.

"She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone," said this McCain adviser. "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." (Emphasis added)

Ben Smith of the Politico also notes the phenomenon, The Palin insurgency, stating:
Even as John McCain and Sarah Palin scramble to close the gap in the final days of the 2008 election, stirrings of a Palin insurgency are complicating the campaign's already-tense internal dynamics.

Four Republicans close to Palin said she has decided increasingly to disregard the advice of the former Bush aides tasked to handle her, creating occasionally tense situations as she travels the country with them. Those Palin supporters, inside the campaign and out, said Palin blames her handlers for a botched rollout and a tarnished public image — even as others in McCain's camp blame the pick of the relatively inexperienced Alaska governor, and her public performance, for McCain's decline.

"She's lost confidence in most of the people on the plane," said a senior Republican who speaks to Palin, referring to her campaign jet. He said Palin had begun to "go rogue" in some of her public pronouncements and decisions.

"I think she'd like to go more rogue," he said.
Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly sums up the "Lord of the Flies climate," in A CAMPAIGN DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF, noting:
According to the piece in the Politico, Palin's people blame handlers for not letting her be herself. McCain's people blame Palin for being unprepared and unable to answer questions coherently. Palin's people don't want the governor to get the blame if the ticket loses, and McCain's people resent the lack of loyalty and discipline.
Gee, what a shock. When Palin was first picked, I did some reading up on her and discovered that she was "a hatemonger with a smile." Fear, Greed & Hate.

In early September, I noted, in Temper, Temper: "Andrew Sullivan writes of Palin in A Wasillan On Sarah Palin, quoting a Wasillan native who remarked that her high school classmates 'call[ed] her “Sarah Barracuda” because of her unbridled ambition and predatory ruthlessness.'" See also, A Wasillan On Sarah Palin.

Palin is a prime example of the old maxim: Be careful what you ask for. McCain picked her to satisfy the extremist conservative base and to savage the Democrats. See Palin's 'going rogue,' McCain aide says. Now that that doesn't appear to be working, she has turned her attention elsewhere. This Rogue Rose of Alaska is in full bloom. As Sarah (Tina Fey) Palin herself said the other night, "I like to think I'm one part practiced folksy, one part sassy and a little dash of high school bitchy." True that! You know, as Jon Stewart put it, She's Terribly Cute.

And so, Sarah speaks, in her own voice. Opining on subjects like fruit flies:

Of course, Richard Wolfe, MSNBC political analyst remarked that her statement about fruit flies "is the most mindless, ignorant, uninformed, comment that we have seen from Governor Palin so far and there's been a lot of competition for that prize." For more of Palin's greatest hits, see The Great Debate.

Reflecting on the GOP handwringing and referring to my favorite "sweet poetic justice" sentiment -- Schadenfreude, Kevin Drum says, Let the Defenestrations Begin:

I am so looking forward to this. Is this schadenfreude? Or does that require at least a veneer of pretending that you're not really taking pleasure in the misfortunes of others? I'm not sure. But I'm looking forward to it anyway.

And you know the part I'm really looking forward to? Sarah Palin's role in all this. I expect her to rip McCain absolutely to shreds. On background, of course, but it will be no less vicious for that. Her future, such as it is, lies with the wingnut rump of the party, and she knows what her audience wants: John McCain's blood. And lots of it. They never liked him in the first place, and I expect them to be howling for his head on a platter starting at about 8:01 pm EST on November 4th.

As noted above, when she was first selected by McCain, someone from Wasilla described the new VP pick to the unknowing electorate, in A Letter About Sarah Palin from Anne Kilkenny. She warned that there were a lot of people who have underestimated her and have regretted it. At the time, it was thought that this would be applied to Obama and the Democrats. Who would have thought that it could possibly be turned on McCain himself (other than anyone who knew her)?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Cartoon of the Day

John Sherffius, Boulder Daily Camera

Hold On

Via The Quaker Agitator, is news of the latest decision to hold off putting Troy Davis to death, yet again.

I've written about the case of Troy Davis before, The Quality of Mercy, the Georgia man who has been on death row for 17 years for the murder of a police officer. With compelling questions raised about his guilt or innocence, shortly before he was scheduled to be executed, the US Supreme Court issued a stay, Death is Final.

As noted by SCOTUSblog, Davis’ lawyers urged the Supreme Court to issue a definitive ruling that the Eighth Amendment creates a right of an innocent person not to be executed. The appeal also sought a new hearing to present the new evidence in an effort to spare his life. However, last week the Court declined to take up the appeal, Court clears way for Davis execution, and he was again scheduled for execution this Monday.

A new round of appeals was filed, asserting that the constitution mandates that his claims of innocence be heard before he is put to death, Lawyers launch new appeal effort. For the third time, Davis has successfully put off his date with death.

The Court of Appeals issued the stay on Thursday, Court issues stay of execution for Troy Davis:

On Wednesday, Davis asked the 11th Circuit for permission to pursue a new federal habeas corpus petition รข€” in which an inmate claims he is unlawfully incarcerated. The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 requires a federal appeals court to approve such a request before such a new lawsuit can be filed.

“Upon our thorough review of the record, we conclude that Davis has met the burden for a stay of execution,” the court said in an order issued by Judges Joel Dubina, Rosemary Barkett and Stanley Marcus.

The judges called the stay “conditional” and said they want to hear more from Davis’ lawyers and state attorneys.

Davis must clear two difficult legal hurdles to win a new round of appeals.

First, he must show that his lawyers could not have previously found the new evidence supporting his innocence no matter how diligently they looked for it. And he must show that the new testimony, viewed in light of all the evidence, is enough to prove “by clear and convincing evidence that…no reasonable fact finder would have found [him] guilty.”

The 11th Circuit added a twist. It asked the parties to address whether Davis can still be executed if he can establish innocence under the second standard but cannot satisfy his burden under the first, due-diligence question.

Unfortunately, despite this news, the remaining hurdles that Troy Davis still faces are still overwhelming. Although there is much evidence that brings his conviction into question, even getting approval to hold a hearing where such testimony would be considered is difficult. The legal standard that must be met before a hearing would be permitted is exceedingly stringent.

Barry Scheck, co-Director (and founder) of the Innocence Project, explains, Troubling Questions Surround Troy Davis Execution Set for Monday, the legal conundrum that imperils Davis' ability even to be heard:

What most people don't know is why Davis can't get a full hearing on the new . . . post-conviction evidence of innocence.

The recantation of a witness alone does not and should not automatically result in a conviction being vacated -- recantation evidence is treated with caution by courts because, after all, the witness is saying he or she once lied under oath, so how can one be so sure they are not just lying again? Nonetheless, many wrongful convictions have been overturned because a recanting witness, testifying in person and under oath before a judge, is found to be credible and the reason for the recantation - often a claim that the original trial testimony was coerced - is found to be persuasive. But in Georgia the recanting witnesses don't get to testify because the state's courts have created an extraordinary Catch-22 rule -- the "purest fabrication" doctrine - that arbitrarily denies evidentiary hearings even when extremely persuasive recantation affidavits have been submitted.

The "purest fabrication" doctrine means that post-conviction hearings don't have to be held to evaluate the credibility of recanting witnesses unless the defendant can show, by extrinsic proof before the hearing is held, that the original testimony was absolutely false.
NPR also recently discussed the issues and hurdles involved in the Troy Davis case.

As a lawyer -- someone who parses words for a living -- I can tell you that the standard required by the term "purest fabrication" is nearly impossible to meet from a legal perspective. I've spent plenty of time negotiating the use of "best" vs. "reasonable" efforts language in corporate agreements, so I can attest that word usage in the law can be significant. What may seem to be a simple statement to a non-lawyer is often laden with meaning in a legal setting.

And yet, when a life is at stake, it is unconscionable to impose a standard that impairs the ability to get at the truth. I am somewhat heartened by the fact that the Court of Appeals requested that the parties address the question whether a person who may be able to establish innocence may nonetheless be denied an opportunity to establish his innocence because of a procedural requirement.

In other words, are we as a society willing to permit an innocent man to die merely to satisfy some legal rule that may prevent the truth from ever being discovered? And if so, what does that say about us?

The Voter In Chief

Not all the news is bad for John McCain these days. After all, George W. Bush did cast his ballot for McCain in early voting in Texas. Bush Casts His Vote for McCain. And, with all of the Republicans coming out for Barack Obama, who knew whether Bush would cross the line and endorse him too
-- in a last ditch effort to help McCain.

I realize the SNL skit with Will Ferrell as President Bush endorsing the McCain-Palin ticket has been seen by everyone, but I had to include it as well. It's priceless.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Go Team Go

Sign spotted on my way to work. Gotta love it.

But, was Obama guilty of pandering to the Phillies' fans and then flip-flopping? See Can't lose: Obama backs Rays, Phillies. Then, of course, Jon Stewart has to get in on the act:

Via The700Level, who notes:

Leave it up to the amazing Jon Stewart on The Daily Show to find a way to bring the Mets into this World Series. The entire opening segment of last night's show focused on the ridiculousness of someone campaigning for President trying to throw their hat into the cheering section of either swing state. Mr. Stewart mentions the Rays are from Tampa and then notes -- incorrectly I might add -- that the Phillies are from "the festering soar on the end of my taint."

She's Terribly Cute

The other day at the office, we were discussing whether the selection of Sarah Palin helped or hurt McCain overall. At this point, it seems most people think she's a drag. Palin's Qualifications Now Top Concern About McCain Candidacy. One of the LLWL Gang (our token Republican) observed that, despite all, Palin is effective because she presents herself in a very charming and winsome manner. I responded that I was unable to see the charm past the substance (or lack thereof) that came out of her mouth. See e.g., The Great Debate.

Jon Stewart, during a recent appearance at Northeastern University in Boston, criticized Palin for her divisive remarks. His comment about Palin was the perfect retort to the so-called charm of Palin:

He (McCain) made an interesting vice presidential choice.

I like the woods...I just don't know if I would pull my vice president out of the woods randomly.

She came out again today. She was talking to a small town, she said that small towns, that's the part of the country she really likes going to because that's the pro-America part of the country.

You know, I just want to say to her, just very quickly...Fuck you.

I've never seen someone with a greater disparity between how cute they sound when they're saying something and how terrible what they're saying is.

Don't ya know, Obama, by golly, he just is a terrorist? What? Oh, you know, he just, gosh, kills babies, you know. (Emphasis added)

See Jon Stewart To Sarah Palin: "F*** You" and Jon Stewart to Sarah Palin: '[Expletive] You.'. (The video (not great quality) and transcript is available there)

Stewart then clarified his remarks about Palin on the Daily Show:

The LLWL Gang also discussed Palin's appearance on SNL, which I thought was much ado about nothing. One of the other gang members, however, thought she would end up with her own TV show when this was all over. Sounds like Lorne Michaels agrees, Lorne Michaels talks Sarah Palin:
I think Palin will continue to be underestimated for a while. I watched the way she connected with people, and she's powerful. Her politics aren't my politics. But you can see that she's a very powerful, very disciplined, incredibly gracious woman. This was her first time out and she's had a huge impact. People connect to her.

* * * *

I think she could have her own show, yeah.

Ok, so I'm not a casting director.

(LLWL Gang = Lady Lawyers Who Lunch, a/k/a my officemates)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cartoon of the Day

Tom Toles, NYTimes

The Voter Gauntlet

I have been angered and saddened by the level of bigotry and hatred that has been encouraged and incited by the McCain/Palin campaign which, despite token protestations by McCain, shows no signs of dissipating as we get closer to November 4th.

Increasing the level of divisiveness certainly does not promote "Country First," since the next President (whoever it may be) will have a difficult time uniting the country after the election in this great time of need. However, the intensity of partisanship and hatred has soared to the point where there have been incidents of violence, which will no doubt increase as election day draws near. John McCain should be ashamed by his conduct and despite his attempts to disparage John Lewis' remarks about the campaign tactics being akin to those of George Wallace, he knows he's right.

The sickness of some McCain supporters is poignantly in evidence by the actions of the vile individuals who shot a bear in the head and dumped it on the Western Carolina University campus, draped with a pair of Obama campaign signs.

However, the real despair that I feel for the future of our country was the jarring sight the protesters lined up like a gauntlet, harassing and heckling those who were guilty of nothing more than trying to exercise their right to vote in North Carolina. And, of course, the southern sheriff monitoring the protest was not bothered by the mob. McCain supporters heckle early voters.

In an excellent piece on this issue, Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly describes the scene (with video) and what it portends, at Heckling Voters:

I've seen comedians get heckled at comedy clubs. I've seen athletes get heckled at sporting events. I've never even heard of voters getting heckled. And yet, McCain/Palin supporters keep finding new and creative ways to undermine democratic norms.

The Washington Times, a self-described conservative paper, reported today on a polling site in North Carolina where "a group of loud and angry protesters ... shouted and mocked the voters as they walked in." The voters were mostly black, and the "angry protesters" were "nearly all were white."

Stop and think about that for a second. In the United States, in the 21st century, we have Republican activists protesting a presidential election. McCain/Palin supporters have taken to heckling, mocking, and shouting at people who want to participate in the democratic process. Literally.

And when they're not trying to intimate voters at polling places, Republican activists are slashing voters' tires, kicking journalists to the ground, attacking middle-aged women going door to door on Obama's behalf, and vandalizing ACORN offices. And, of course, the unabashed racism is common.

The mind reels.

The mind does reel. McCain is definitely channeling George -- and not just George Bush. There's more than a hint of George Wallace in him.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Yo Palin, You're Out

While everyone else is talking about Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama, The New Powell Doctrine, I'm still enjoying the Palin rap from last night's SNL.

As for her appearance, Sarah Palin was Sarah Palin -- a big build up (about her SNL appearance), but a lot of nothing in the end. See Live From New York, It’s Sarah. (The Real One.). On the other hand, as usual, Tina Fey was fabulous as Palin and Amy Poehler rocked during the Week-end Update:

Sing along to the Alaska Rap:

one two three

my name is Sarah Palin you all know me
vice prezzy nominee of the GOP
gonna need your vote in the next election
can i get a ‘what what’ from the senior section
McCain got experience, McCain got style
but don’t let him freak you out when he tries to smile
cause that smile be creepy
but when i be vp
all the leaders in the world gonna finally meet me.

how’s it go eskimos
tell me what you know eskimos
how you feel eskimos
ice cold
tell me tell me what you feel eskimos
super cold

i’m Jeremiah Wright cause tonight I’m the preacha
I got a bookish look and you’re all hot for teacha
Todd lookin fine on his snow machine
so hot boy gonna need a go between
in Wasilla, we just chill baby chilla
but when i see oil, lets drill baby drill

my country tis a thee
from my porch I can see
Russia and such

all the mavericks in the house, put your hands up
all the mavericks in the house, put your hands up
all the plumbers in the house, pull your pants up
all the plumbers in the house, pull your pants up

when I say ‘Obama’ you say ‘Ayers’
Obama. Ayers. Obama. Ayers.
I built me a bridge - it ain’t goin’ nowhere.

McCain, Palin, gonna put the nail in the coffin
of the media elite
she likes red meat
shoot a mull humpin moose, eight days of the week

[three gunshots]
now ya dead, now ya dead,
cause I’m an animal, and I’m bigger than you
holdin a shotgun walk in the pub
everybody party, we’re goin on a hunt
la la la la la la la la
[six gunshots]

yo I'm Palin, I’m out!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sweet Poetic Justice

My favorite philosopher blogger, Steve Gimbel of Philosophers' Playground, has occasionally queried about the ethical and moral issues involved in justice, irony and Schadenfreude.

For example, in Does Size Matter When It Comes To Virtue Ethics?, he explains that generally speaking, from a "virtue ethics perspective there is something vicious about Schadenfreude. Being the sort of person who delights in the pain of other humans." On the other hand, as he notes in the context of baseball, relishing a team's loss is hardly the stuff of great suffering -- unless you are my husband, whose Dodgers just lost to the Phillies & who is enduring great quantities of Schadenfreude from all of his Philly friends (and our daughter, of course).

In other words, does the particular circumstance matter whether you can enjoy someone's misfortune without experiencing undue guilt about it? As Steve inquires:

Does this lack of moral import obviate, even to a degree, the moral problem with Schadenfreude?

Utilitarianism sees the overall effect as morally relevant, but what about questions of virtue? Does being a jerk about something unimportant excuse you at all for being a jerk? Does it make you less of a jerk if people know that morally they can count on you to be serious and upstanding when the chips are really down?
I would certainly like to think so. Of course, sometimes it's difficult to discern where to draw the line. Obviously, in some cases (as with my husband & his Dodgers), it's easy. It certainly wouldn't be OK to cheer merrily when the grumpy old man down the street, who chased the neighborhood kids away, is run over by a car.

In another discussion on the topic, Me and My Uncle: Justice, Irony, and Schadenfreude, Steve ponders:
[T]he relationship between irony and justice? Indeed, we often hear such ironies referred to as "poetic justice." So is there a connection between poetic and moral justice? Further, when we see someone get their comeuppance, we are often delighted by their suffering, we experience Schadenfreude. How does that figure into the mix?
I tend to think of "poetic justice" as the mere observation of the factual underpinning of what has occurred, without the emotional factor added in. As an example we all can relate to, he observes:
When you see that jerk who passed you on the shoulder doing 85 get pulled over a few miles up the road, there's a guilty sort of pleasure and maybe even a saccharine wave as you pass. Schadenfreude is the pleasure we take in the suffering of others -- say, each time the Yankees lose. . . . We had a student a few years back argue that Schadenfreude was a legitimate delight in justice coming to be. You see someone getting what he deserves and you think that the universe is now a better, more just place, a joy in seeing the cosmic balance restored. Kerry, on the other hand, argued that it was a negative emotion, a sense of antipathy that dehumanizes the other person. I found both arguments compelling, but at least one has to be wrong.
The joy or pleasure -- the emotional reaction to the situation that has occurred -- is what begets Schadenfreude, in my mind. To some degree, I'm not sure whether we can completely control the reaction in the appropriate situation. It's almost a spontaneous emotion that arises without forethought. We can, of course, try to control whether we express the feeling openly or suppress the thoughts. That, however, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Although I am hardly a philosopher, this is a topic about which I have also given some thought. Mainly, because I admit that I have engaged in the sweet satisfaction of enjoying the misfortune of some deserving fool now & again.

I think the distinction (at least for me) depends upon what has befallen the sufferer before I would feel it was inappropriate and cruel to find joy in the misfortune that has occurred. To the extent that it was deserved, based upon prior conduct, the "poetic justice" aspect still applies. If the end result is devastating, there should be no sweet delight. That would be akin to the "I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy" concept.

My latest foray into the realm of Schadenfreude relates to the lot behind our back yard (see picture above). I've written before about the loss of a number of trees the summer before last, when a developer purchased the home behind our house and removed them, see Don't Look Down (which shows before & after pictures). As I said then, not only did he tear down an old stone house to built two big homes on the lot, he also cut down over a dozen trees on the lot, many of which were 100 plus year old. He also cut the branches on the trees on my property that grew across the property line.

As I've also mentioned, the tree loss was also annoying because we have a large back yard, which was enclosed on three sides with foliage from the big, old trees surrounding the area. Our back porch has a beautiful porch swing and I love sitting on the swing on a warm summer night, enjoying the peaceful evening, with the trees providing privacy. We also have a hottub on a deck off the porch, so the privacy was useful for that as well.

I recently noticed some workers cleaning up the property and then saw the "For Sale" sign appear (see picture below for shot from the street, with our back yard beyond the fence). With the downturn in the economy -- and the housing market -- it's obviously not feasible for him to develop the property. I admit that I felt a sense of joy in his misery and only hope that he took a major financial loss in his investment and that he won't be able to recoup it in the sale of the property (and there is a good chance of that in this real estate market). It made my day.

(By the way, for a truly interesting discussion of these issues, read the essays and comments at Steve Gimbel's blog, here and here.)

Cartoon of the Day

Dwayne Booth (Mr. Fish), LA Weekly

Can't Be Topped

I was definitely a child of the 60's. (Of course, some would say that I still am. My brother calls me a "dead hippie" because he says I've never given up my liberal views.)

I talked the talk, walked the walk -- and dressed appropriately. I was for love, peace and understanding. I marched against the war. And I wore flowers in my hair.

And the music was part of my life. I was not so much into hard or acid rock. My favorites were James Taylor, Simon & Garfunkel, Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell and Carole King. And then there was Motown and TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia). Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes. The Temptations, the Supremes, the Spinners, the Delfonics and, of course, the Four Tops. Songs that still fill my iPod today.

One of the great Motown crooners, Levi Stubbs, died yesterday. Four Tops Frontman Levi Stubbs Dies:

Four Tops frontman Levi Stubbs, whose dynamic and emotive voice drove such Motown classics as "Reach Out (I'll Be There)" and "Baby I Need Your Loving," died Friday at 72.

He had been ill recently and died in his sleep at the Detroit house he shared with his wife of 48 years, said Dana Meah, the wife of a grandson. The Wayne County medical examiner's office also confirmed the death.

With Stubbs in the lead, the Four Tops sold millions of records and performed for more than four decades without a change in personnel.

* * * *

Their biggest hits were recorded between 1964 and 1967 with the in-house songwriting and production team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland. Both 1965's "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)" and 1966's "Reach Out" went to No. 1 on the Billboard pop chart.

Other hits included "Shake Me, Wake Me" (1966), "Bernadette" and "Standing in the Shadows of Love" (both 1967).

It's hard to know for sure, memories being what they are, but I wouldn't be surprised if Motown was my first interaction (such as it was) with blacks. At the time I grew up, my hometown of Scranton had a population of about 125,000 (vs. 75,000 today). However, there were probably only about 1,000 blacks (and most likely little or no other minorities).

The neighborhoods were divided by ethnic background and the reality was, there was not much mingling even among the Irish, Italian, German and other ethnic groups. In fact, it is often said that Sunday morning is the most segregated time in America. That was certainly true in Scranton, but not just with respect to race. My neighborhood, for example, was mostly Catholic, but each ethnic group had its own Church. I can recall the Irish Church, the Italian Church and even the Lithuanian Church (where I went to grade school) within a few blocks of my home. There were also the Protestant Churches, such as the Clinton family Church that was up the street from my house. In fact, during the primary, Jason Jones of the Daily Show satirized the pastor at the Clinton's Church as racist because there were no blacks who attended the Church.

The black population in Scranton was largely found on the outskirts of the downtown area. And even though I attended one of the two public high schools in town, there were probably no more than 1/2 dozen blacks in my entire high school (that may have had as many as 1,500 students at the time). My high school, Central, was considered the "college prep" school, and (not so) subtle segregation encouraged the black students to attend Scranton Tech.

So, I not only owe singers like Levi Stubbs for the best music of my generation, but for introducing my to another culture in the best positive way possible. After all, anyone who could sing with such soul was alright with me.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Cartoon of the Day

David Horsey, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

She's Back!

One of the LLWL Gang* had a mishap over the Labor Day holiday -- and ended up with a fractured ankle. Surgery with a metal plate and pins ensued, followed by an extended vacation. Some people can't talk and chew gum; others can't talk and walk the dog.

Well, all good things must end, and so our long, missing colleague is back today. I'm sure it doesn't have anything to do with the fact that our masseuse is coming today (one of the perks of an all female office is our bi-weekly massage).

She claims that she has missed work greatly and won't be complaining about work for a while. We'll see. We're all betting that it lasts about 10 minutes.

This is in her honor:

* LLWL = Lady Lawyers Who Lunch a/k/a my officemates

I also picked this picture in honor of Quaker Dave's Friday Peace Blogging.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Debate

Somehow I missed a part of the debate last night, but luckily was able to catch it on YouTube:

If I didn't know better, I'd think this was the Batman vs. the Penguin debate rather than Obama vs. McCain. But no, it couldn't be!

Here's To Your Health

I would venture a guess than many, if not most, of the pro-choice advocates were supporters of Hillary Clinton's candidacy for President in the primary. At least that was my experience among my friends and colleagues. A good number of those women have made the transition to Obama at this point in time.

However, after listening to the debate last night, I would expect many (if not most) of the hold-outs are there now. That is, those last few hangers-on (the fence) most certainly hung up on John McCain.

John McCain decided to help them decide last night during the discussion of the abortion issue. The truth of the matter is that during the primary, some pro-choice groups felt that Barack Obama's position on choice wasn't strong enough, see Obama and the Acceptable Abortion, even though now the GOP tries to paint him an abortionist and "baby killer." McCain Repeats Debunked ‘Born Alive’ Attacks in Debate.

However, McCain's extreme anti-choice reaction occurred during Obama's discussion of the issue, as noted by Steve Benen of The Washington Monthly:

McCain had tried to characterize Obama's position on abortion as extreme, and Obama explained that he'd support restrictions on late-term abortions if proposals included provisions to protect the life and health of the mother.
As I watched him speak the words, I couldn't believe it. Jason Linkins of Huffington Post, McCain Mockingly Suggests That Concerns For A Mother's Health Are Extreme, describes it:
The differences of opinion surrounding the issue of access to safe and legal abortion, and a woman's right to choose to have one, have long been a mainstay of political debate. But tonight, I believe, featured a historical moment in that debate, because until tonight, I had never seen the matter of a woman's health given AIR SCARE QUOTES. But that's precisely what John McCain did, sneeringly, as he attempted to portray support for a mother's health as an extreme position, when in fact, it is a mainstream position -- ground that even fervent pro-life individuals often concede. (Emphasis added)
Watch this & tell me he doesn't want to lose:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Clincher

As I said yesterday, see The Real October Surprise?, I've wondered whether John McCain is intentionally trying to throw the election. After all, who would want to take over the godawful mess that George W. Bush has left the country (nay, the world) in?

Last night, Jay Leno, of NBC's "Tonight" show, clinched it for me. As he observed:

At a rally today in Virginia, they played the theme to `Rocky' as John McCain walked on to the stage. Does John McCain seem like Rocky to you? Doesn't he seem more like Burgess Meredith's character?

Why would McCain want to be like Rocky? Did you see the movie? Didn't Rocky get the hell kicked out of him by the black guy?
Need I say more??

(Cartoon via Robert Ariail, The State)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cartoon of the Day

Scott Stantis, Birmingham News

The Real October Surprise?

As I (and many others) have observed recently, see Hatefest, McCain's campaign has unleashed a wave of racial hatred that is despicable. In a last desperate attempt to save himself from possible resounding defeat, McCain has responded as Hillary did at the end of the Democratic primary. Made the race about race.

Despite the vicious virulence shown by his supporters, he and Sarah Palin have, intentionally in my opinion, incited racial and ethnic hatred. His feeble protestations have been woefully inadequate in light of the level of venom that has been exhibited (see poster above for example). They are fully responsible for the conduct that they have incited and encouraged. No plausible deniability allowed, in my opinion.

And yet, despite this, I have begun to wonder if McCain is really trying to throw the race. When I'm wearing my conspiracy theory beret, I wonder whether he is intentionally trying to lose.

I recall reading a conservative commentator some time ago, who said that true conservatives are better as outsiders, exposing the excesses of the party in power. This is especially true now, when whoever assumes the mantle of the Presidency is going to be confronted with some of the most difficult issues we have faced, with painful options being the only options. With our short memory span, the problems will soon be the fault of the Democrats, with the fact that they began during the Bush years soon forgotten.

For some time now, the Bush Administration has been trying to kick the can on a number of disastrous messes it has created.

The Iraq War is a tremendous quagmire that will have to be untangled by whomever occupies the White House in January. As has been suggested by liberal bloggers since it first began, the surge was a stop gap measure to push the day of reckoning to a new Administration. The six month surge has continued for close to 2 years. No matter who is in charge when we pull out, it won't be pretty. Better to be on the outside, criticizing how's its handled, than the party in charge being blamed for what happens.

And, of course, the crisis in the economy is the latest disaster to befall us. A solid majority of the country thinks we're headed for a depression and I'm not sure I disagree. The various bailout measures, I fear, are yet again intended to kick the can forward until the election, so that the new President receives the gift that keeps giving far into the future. And now that it has spread to a world-wide crisis, no one knows where it will lead.

Every once in a while, during the course of his campaign, John McCain has said or done something that has made me wonder, is he really trying to lose this thing?

He can't just say, I quit, after all. So, he carries on, half-heartedly, throwing out little malapropisms to make people wonder if he's losing it. He acts like a grouchy old man, which isn't hard to do at this point, which also gives people pause. He vilifies the press, which has always been his base.

And then, when the poll numbers aren't sufficiently down for him, he does something truly outrageous. He picks Palin. Palin certainly has energized the conservative base. But in the end, the right wing extremists were going to vote for McCain anyway. Like those on the liberal left, they could not envision the other party in power, so they would reluctantly go with the flow. On the other hand, moderates and independents would be expected to reject someone so extreme. And, even without much vetting, McCain had to be aware of her Troopergate investigation. The investigation that was expected to issue it's report shortly before the election. And, not surprisingly, it found Sarah guilty as charged.

During the last Obama/McCain debate, he said something that again made me pause. He said that there would have to be cuts to medicare and social security. Even if true, no politician who wants to be elected would ever suggest that these favored social programs be tinkered with. A few years ago, George Bush almost got run out of town several times when he did his jaunt across the country pushing privatization of social security. And now, with the market in the toilet, no one wants to be reminded of the folly of that plan.

So, when I read that McCain's latest re-tooled speech was "we've got them just where we want them," I chuckled. My first thought was that that was the first honest thing he's said during the campaign. He's losing -- and that's just where he wants to be.

UPDATE (10/15): In yet another move to support my theory, McCain put aside his guilt by association meme between Bill Ayers and Obama to appoint the head of his transition team, William Timmons. As was reported by Murray Waas at the Huffington Post:

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.

What a pal, eh?

(The above poster, via My Left Wing, is from a website called Political Byline. Despite claims that he would not remove it, the poster has been deleted from the site. See Obama Noose Poster New Low In Citizen Propaganda)