Monday, September 29, 2008


Say It Again!

"If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself."

Kathleen Parker, National Review Online

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday With Dianne

DIANNE REEVES sings "My Funny Valentine" at the 1989 Jacksonville Jazz Festival.

Singing in the Rain, Before 26,000

Barack Obama greeting supporters in the rain in Fredericksburg, Va. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)

REMEMBER last month, when a conservative group prayed for rain to disrupt Senator Barack Obama’s stadium-style acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver?

That night, it didn’t rain. And for months, at outdoor rallies across the country, Mr. Obama’s campaign events have escaped repeated bouts of rain and stormy weather – even if it was in the forecast.

But the run of good luck with Mother Nature ended here on Saturday night, as a steady rain began to fall shortly after Mr. Obama began speaking at the University of Mary Washington. After keeping his supporters waiting for nearly an hour, Mr. Obama went forward with his speech as a crowd estimated by campus officials at 26,000 grew soggy.

"I’m sorry for those of you who are wearing that special outfit," Mr. Obama said. "I’d like to cover everyone’s dry cleaning bill tonight, but I can’t because I’ve got to use it on the campaign. So consider it one more modest contribution to our efforts to change the country."


But the Obama supporters, who were already wet from a rain shower before Mr. Obama arrived, didn’t seem to mind the soaking. They cheered throughout the remarks, raising their voices even more as Mr. Obama unleashed a string of weather-related metaphors about the country’s current state.

"The storm hasn’t quite passed yet. Sometimes the skies look cloudy. And it’s dark," Mr. Obama said. "You think the rains will never pass, but here’s what I understand: As long as all of us are together, as long as we are all committed, then there’s nothing we can’t do."

New York Times


Local News Coverage

More recent campaign coverage.

Hurricane Kyle Headed Toward Maine

A TORNADO ripped right by our farm a few years ago. Bent the birch trees down into the pond, their rubber-band trunks almost snapping.

Now Kyle, a Category 1 hurricane, is going to slam the coast before sunrise.

It feels tropical up here, raining since Friday. The atmosphere is thick, the late-summer foliage lush with a last hoorah of bursting green. Mosquitoes all over the place.

We're too far inland to feel any major effects when Kyle washes ashore.

I hope.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Obama Is Right: McCain Was Wrong

Veterans for Obama

Paul Newman, 1925 - 2008

By The Associated Press
Published: September 27, 2008
Filed at 10:16 a.m. ET
Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

WESTPORT, Conn. (AP) — Paul Newman, the Academy-Award winning superstar who personified cool as an activist, race car driver, popcorn impresario and the anti-hero of such films as “Hud,” “Cool Hand Luke” and “The Color of Money,” has died. He was 83.

Newman died Friday after a long battle with cancer at his farmhouse near Westport, publicist Jeff Sanderson said. He was surrounded by his family and close friends.

In May, Newman he had dropped plans to direct a fall production of “Of Mice and Men,” citing unspecified health issues.

He got his start in theater and on television during the 1950s, and went on to become one of the world’s most enduring and popular film stars, a legend held in awe by his peers. He was nominated for Oscars 10 times, winning one regular award and two honorary ones, and had major roles in more than 50 motion pictures, including “Exodus,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “The Verdict,” “The Sting” and “Absence of Malice.”

Newman worked with some of the greatest directors of the past half century, from Alfred Hitchcock and John Huston to Robert Altman, Martin Scorsese and the Coen brothers. His co-stars included Elizabeth Taylor, Lauren Bacall, Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks and, most famously, Robert Redford, his sidekick in “Butch Cassidy” and “The Sting.”

He sometimes teamed with his wife and fellow Oscar winner, Joanne Woodward, with whom he had one of Hollywood’s rare long-term marriages. “I have steak at home, why go out for hamburger?” Newman told Playboy magazine (NYSE:PLA) when asked if he was tempted to stray. They wed in 1958, around the same time they both appeared in “The Long Hot Summer,” and Newman directed her in several films, including “Rachel, Rachel” and “The Glass Menagerie.”

With his strong, classically handsome face and piercing blue eyes, Newman was a heartthrob just as likely to play against his looks, becoming a favorite with critics for his convincing portrayals of rebels, tough guys and losers. “I was always a character actor,” he once said. “I just looked like Little Red Riding Hood.”

Newman had a soft spot for underdogs in real life, giving tens of millions to charities through his food company and setting up camps for severely ill children. Passionately opposed to the Vietnam War, and in favor of civil rights, he was so famously liberal that he ended up on President Nixon’s “enemies list,” one of the actor’s proudest achievements, he liked to say.

A screen legend by his mid-40s, he waited a long time for his first competitive Oscar, winning in 1987 for “The Color of Money,” a reprise of the role of pool shark “Fast” Eddie Felson, whom Newman portrayed in the 1961 film “The Hustler.”

Newman delivered a magnetic performance in “The Hustler,” playing a smooth-talking, whiskey-chugging pool shark who takes on Minnesota Fats — played by Jackie Gleason — and becomes entangled with a gambler played by George C. Scott. In the sequel — directed by Scorsese — “Fast Eddie” is no longer the high-stakes hustler he once was, but rather an aging liquor salesman who takes a young pool player (Cruise) under his wing before making a comeback.

He won an honorary Oscar in 1986 “in recognition of his many and memorable compelling screen performances and for his personal integrity and dedication to his craft.” In 1994, he won a third Oscar, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, for his charitable work.

His most recent academy nod was a supporting actor nomination for the 2002 film “Road to Perdition.” One of Newman’s nominations was as a producer; the other nine were in acting categories. (Jack Nicholson holds the record among actors for Oscar nominations, with 12; actress Meryl Streep has had 14.)

As he passed his 80th birthday, he remained in demand, winning an Emmy and a Golden Globe for the 2005 HBO drama “Empire Falls” and providing the voice of a crusty 1951 car in the 2006 Disney-Pixar hit, “Cars.”

Paul & Joan, Part 1

Paul & Joan, Part 2

Cat on a Hat Tin Roof

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

The Hustler

Obama Wins First Debate

BY ALL ACCOUNTS, Barack Obama won last night's debate at Ole Miss.

John McCain tried his hardest to demean and belittle his opponent. He didn't look at him once throughout the entire debate.

It was the most striking image of the night. And it's going to harm the Dangerous One. The visual of McCain not looking at Barack even once during the debate will crystallize in people's minds and standout more than what they heard.

I had wanted Barack to throw more punches. When the debated ended, I felt disappointed. It was like watching a tennis match when one of my favorite players is on court. All I do is criticize them, even when they're winning. I'm overly harsh. But when I watch the match again, after I know the result, of course, I can see the play for what it is, not what I wanted it to be.

So went my critique of this political sport called debate. Barack fared better with his more gracious, more statesmanlike presentation. At the end of the night, Barack took away his detractors' biggest attack: his otherness.

What Barack did last night was to nullify any future racist and nasty attack.


Because the man who was presidential, accommodating, incisive, and confident presented a picture of a man that need not be feared.

And the image, the stark brutal image, of McCain not even looking at his worthy opponent will make him seem, well, racist and nasty.

In a live interview on one of the cable networks with voters after the debate, one woman said McCain couldn't look Barack in the eye because he was embarrassed. Another, because he was afraid he'd get angry.

But the woman who thought that McCain focused too much on sentimental stories about himself and his past and not enough on regular people struck a chord with me. McCain is the most narcissistic candidate I've ever seen, and that includes Bill Clinton. He thinks he's entitled to the presidency simply because he was a POW.

He can't stop living in the past. Can't stop competing with his father and grandfather for status. If he becomes president, he bests their rank as naval admirals. But McCain engages in far too much navel admiring to be taken seriously as a president who puts country before personal ambition.

John McCain is a petulant, self-obsessed adolescent in the broken down body of a 72-year-old former POW and cancer survivor. He's not too old to be president. He's too damaged.

For the umpteenth time, McCain chose to use the troops as an emotional weapon. He told again the worn-out anecdote of the New Hampshire woman who last year gave him a bracelet in memory of a son who was killed in Iraq. She wanted to make sure her son didn't die in vain. McCain presents this as a reason to fight the Iraq war (any war we start, really) till victory, whatever that means, is won.

Barack's reply might have been the best punch of the night.

"John, I've got a bracelet, too."

That's right. A woman in northern Wisconsin gave Barack a bracelet in memory of her son who was also killed in Iraq. She asked Barack to make sure no other mother would suffer the loss of a child in this war.

Barack, looking squarely at McCain as he did most of the night, told McCain that no soldier dies in vain because they are following the mission of their commander-in-chief. And the commander-in-chief must possess the wisdom and judgment to only put our soldiers in harm's way with good reason.

The contempt in McCain's face rose like bile.

A debate is a popularity contest. Whoever comes across as the most likeable is often considered the winner. Especially when your opponent is a sneering, grumpy old man.


A CNN poll breaks it down:

Thinking about the following characteristics and qualities, please say whether you think each one better described Barack Obama or John McCain during tonight's debate:

Was more intelligent: Obama 55%, McCain 30%

Expressed his views more clearly: Obama 53%, McCain 36%

Spent more time attacking his opponent: McCain 60%, Obama 23%

Was more sincere and authentic: Obama 46%, McCain 38%

Seemed to be the stronger leader: Obama 49%, McCain 43%

Was more likeable: Obama 61%, McCain 26%

Was more in touch with the needs and problems of people like you: Obama 62%, McCain 32%




Saturday Morning Reactions:

Media Curves found that 61% of Independents believed Obama won the debate, while 38.89% favored McCain as the winner. On each of the eight topics, Obama was a clear winner among Independents, with his highest score coming on the Iran issue - two-thirds of Independents thought he won this question. And, it's hard to argue with these three post-debate polls at RCP- they all have Obama outperforming McCain.

Mary Beth Schneider in the Indianapolis Star, Hoosiers: Debate moves 4 voters toward a decision:

Before the debate, Colleen Hoover, a 52-year-old Avon billing clerk for a physician, said she was undecided -- and not very interested, frankly, in watching this debate at all.

After the 90-minute give-and-take, however, Hoover said she was looking forward to the next presidential debate, on Oct. 7, as well as Thursday's vice presidential debate between Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. And, she added, if she had to vote today, she'd back Obama.

McCain's stance on war is what has Jim Ramsey, a 56-year-old Anderson man who manages a mail room and copy center for a law firm, also leaning toward Obama. Neil Allen White, 41, Indianapolis, came leaning toward McCain. But he left open to voting for Obama -- and again, Iraq is a big reason why.

Kansas City Star (MO) Editorial, Obama has narrow victory in debate:

Americans looking for a warrior in the White House surely warmed to GOP Senator John McCain’s scrappy debate performance Friday night.

But Democrat Barack Obama turned in the more statesmanlike effort. He was unflappable even under McCain’s often condescending attacks. While McCain went for punches, Obama scored points with sound arguments.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Editorial, Clear differences:

The topic was foreign policy, with undercurrents of the financial crisis now consuming the attentions of the U.S. Congress. This main topic, woven as it is with national security, was one in which John McCain was thought to have an edge over Barack Obama. He made every attempt to paint the Illinois senator as naïve. He mostly failed.

John Baer, Philadelphia Daily News:

The much-touted, long-awaited debate that almost didn't happen was a mixed bag, but helped Barack Obama more than John McCain.

I say that because on the issue gripping the nation - the state of the economy - Obama seemed better focused, better armed and more aggressive than McCain.

Detroit Free Press Editorial, No knockout, but McCain shows strength in experience:

Both candidates took some liberties with the facts, particularly in characterizing each other's statements and positions. But neither scored a knockout and the debate did not produce any of the dramatic or telling moments of debates from past campaigns.

CBS Channel 8 Las Vegas, Local focus group watches presidential debate:

"The war in Iraq. I agreed more with Obama on," Daniel McGuire is an independent who leans libertarian. "I actually thought McCain was a little bit better on the bailout."

Maryann Brothers went in mostly undecided and came out clearly supporting Obama, "I'm sorry to say, I expected McCain to really come out with a change and I didn't hear that."

One debate down with two to go and so much can change.

"If we were voting today, I'd vote for Obama," said Jay Needleman. This lifelong Republican is supporting Obama, for now. "It can be changed until I walked into the polling place."

Among the group of voters sampled Friday, Senator Obama won the debate.

Now for some non-battleground reaction, Peter Canellos at the Boston Globe calls it a Good night for McCain, better one for Obama:

John McCain last night tried hard to make the first presidential debate a test of Barack Obama's fitness for office. McCain succeeded in his framing of the test - but Obama passed it.

Both candidates came off well. But Obama had more to gain, and he did.

Dallas Morning News Editorial, Debate yields White House-worthy performances:

This debate, with its emphasis on foreign policy, was supposed to be Mr. McCain's time to shine. But Mr. Obama matched him score for score, fending off any sort of game-changer.

Mr. McCain held his own, but that may not be sufficient on his home field.

Joe Klein at Time gives it to Obama:

Toward the very end of tonight's debate—which was quite a good one, I believe—John McCain laid out his rationale in this election in just a few words: Senator Obama, he said, lacks the "knowledge and experience to be President." The presidency will turn on whether the American people agree with McCain on that—but on this night, Obama emerged as a candidate who was at least as knowledgeable, judicious and unflappable as McCain on foreign policy ... and more knowledgeable, and better suited to deal with the economic crisis and domestic problems the country faces.

And finally, McClatchy is reporting (as published in the Miami Herald) that McCain misstates some facts in debate on foreign policy:

McCain made the most notable misstatements and stumbled over the names of the leaders of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose name he couldn't pronounce, and of Pakistan, referring to the latter as "Qadari" instead of Asif Ali Zardari.

McCain incorrectly asserted that former Gen. Pervez Musharraf rescued Pakistan from being a "failed state" when he seized power in a 1999 coup.

This was from last night, but I had to add it. Even Dick Morris can't spin this for McCain! Via Politico:

"Unfortunately, I think Obama won this debate," said Dick Morris on Hannity and Colmes.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ole Miss

FROM TIME Magazine:

Friday, Oct. 05, 1962

It was recognized as the gravest conflict between federal and state authority since the Civil War. It hovered at the edge of violence and was filled with the potential of tragedy. Yet at times it seemed that the whole story was a farce being played out by sad-faced puppets.

The great gold eagle atop the State Capitol in Jackson, Miss., glistened nobly in the afternoon sun. Down below, a green automobile pulled up at a sidewalk packed with a rumbling crowd. Out stepped a dapper Negro, James H. Meredith, 29, native son of Mississippi, veteran of nine years in the U.S. Air Force, and would-be student at the University of Mississippi. A feeble smile flitted across his face as the crowd started booing.

Accompanied by two white men, Meredith entered an office building and boarded an elevator. As the three disappeared from sight, the crowd fell silent and broke into smaller groups, clustering about portable radios to listen to broadcasts of what was going on inside the building.

At the Doorway. Escorted by state troopers, the three visitors got off at the tenth floor, stepped into a smoky corridor jammed with newsmen, TV cameramen, and cops. "Get back!" the troopers shouted. "Get back! Everyone out of the way!" They pushed through the crowd, clearing a path to the door of Room 1007, the office of the state college board. Just as the newcomers reached the door, it swung open with theatrical timing. In the doorway stood Mississippi's greying, frosty-eyed Governor Ross R. Barnett.

"Governor Barnett," said one of the two men accompanying Meredith. "I'm John Doar of the Justice Department, sir. These papers. Governor, I'd like to present you with these papers." The other man, James McShane, Chief U.S. Marshal, fumblingly tried to hand Barnett a sheaf of court orders. In a sonorous drawl, Barnett said that as a matter of "policy" he could not accept any court orders. Doar, the No. 2 man in the Justice Department's civil rights division, persisted. "I want to remind you," he said, "that the Court of Appeals of the Fifth Circuit entered a temporary restraining order at 8:30 this morning enjoining you from interfering in any way with the registration of James Meredith at the University of Mississippi. We'd like to get on now, Governor, to the business of registering Mr. Meredith."

Barnett's reply was to draw a typewritten sheet of paper from a pocket and read off a "proclamation" addressed to Meredith. To "preserve the peace, dignity and tranquillity" of the state, rumbled Barnett, "I hereby finally deny you admission to the University of Mississippi." The palaver went on for a while longer, with Doar getting more and more plaintive. Finally, he made one last, limp try. "Do you refuse to permit us to come in the door?" he asked.

Barnett: Yes, sir.

Doar: All right. Thank you.

Barnett: I do that politely.

Doar: Thank you. We leave politely.

As the three men left the building and walked back to the car, the waiting crowd erupted in gleeful yells. "Goddam dirty nigger bastard," a teen-age boy shouted, "get out of here and stay out!"

Continue reading...

Fast forward 46 years.

Barack Obama, the first Black nominee for president of a major political party in the western world, will debate John McCain in the first presidential debate of this historic election at the University of Mississippi in less than four hours.

The Ku Klux Klan will not be allowed.

Not in hoods, anyway.

Not this time.

We've come a long way.

We have a long, long way to go.

An Obama administration will keep us headed in the right direction.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Answer

WHY DID Dangerous One pull that stunt last night when his pick was being prodded by Katie Couric?

Scared yet?

Saying It Again

AFTER watching your idiot-as-president take no responsibility for the mess on Wall Street and his rhetoric to panic the people in his 13-minute address to the nation last night, I want to reiterate my outrage that a taxpayer bailout is even on the table.

And I'm not even going to talk about that desperate stunt by that idiot-as-republican-presidential nominee, except to quote congressman Barney Frank:

"That was the biggest Hail Mary in the history of football or Marys."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Israelis for Obama

GIVEN all the scare tactics floating around trying to scare Jewish voters about Barack, this documentary short is simply breathtaking.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What All That Taxpayer Money Can Buy

LET the unregulated excesses of the free market collapse it. Let the chips fall where they may.

We'll survive. We always do.

These criminals wanted to gamble like greedy addicts with cotton candy assets, then they should suffer the consequences.

Who do they think they're kidding? Emergency? Please. They planned this bailout as a contingency months ago. Now, 40-odd days before a huge election, they want us to close our eyes and grab our ankles while they rob and rape us blind.


If we've got $700,000,000,000 to throw around, then set up an emergency fund and infuse it with cash so that when the bottom falls out and the Second Great Depression hits the hardest, the folks who need the most assistance to stay alive can get it. Do you know what all that taxpayer money can buy?

The next congress, not this one, sullied by Bush's bullshit, can get to work on legislation for some real reform under President Obama. We grow from there.

This entire crisis was orchestrated by a chain of fools, bought-and-paid-for politicians and the lobbyists who own them, who are spitting out one dying gasp before they go home and have their criminal asses voted out of office.

FUCK. Them.

They can pool together an "emergency" fund from all those off-shore bank accounts busting with money they NEVER PAID TAXES ON and bail out themselves.

I refuse to commit a penny of my taxes to welfare for Wall Street.

What Leadership Looks Like IV

Opening Statement

Q & A

Senator Obama’s Plan To Protect Taxpayers and Homeowners
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Tampa, Florida

Yesterday, the President said that Congress should pass his proposal to ease the crisis on Wall Street without significant changes or improvements.

Now, there are many to blame for causing the current crisis, starting with the speculators who gamed the system and the regulators who looked the other way. But all of us now have a stake in solving it and saving our financial institutions from collapse. Because if we don’t, the jobs and life savings of millions will be put at risk.

Given that fact, the President’s stubborn inflexibility is both unacceptable and disturbingly familiar. This is not the time for my-way-or-the-highway intransigence from anyone involved. It’s not the time for fear or panic. It’s the time for resolve, responsibility, and reasonableness.

And it is wholly unreasonable to expect that American taxpayers would or should hand this Administration or any Administration a $700 billion blank check with absolutely no oversight or conditions when a lack of oversight in Washington and on Wall Street is exactly what got us into this mess.

Now that the American people are being called upon to finance this solution, the American people have the right to certain protections and assurances from Washington.

First, the plan must include protections to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used to further reward the bad behavior of irresponsible CEOs on Wall Street. There has been talk that some CEOs may refuse to cooperate with this plan if they have to forgo multi-million-dollar salaries. I cannot imagine a position more selfish and greedy at a time of national crisis. And I would like to speak directly to those CEOs right now: Do not make that mistake. You are stewards for workers and communities all across our country who have put their trust in you. With the enormous rewards you have reaped come responsibilities, and we expect and demand that you to live up to them. This plan cannot be a welfare program for Wall Street executives.

Second, the power to spend $700 billion of taxpayer money cannot be left to the discretion of one man, no matter who he is or which party he is from. I have great respect for Secretary Paulson, but he cannot act alone. We should set up an independent board that includes some of the most respected figures in our country, chosen by Democrats and Republicans, to provide oversight and accountability at every step of the way. I am heartened that Secretary Paulson appeared to be softening on this position in his testimony this morning.

Third, if taxpayers are being asked to underwrite hundreds of billions of dollars to solve this crisis, they must be treated like investors. The American people should share in the upside as Wall Street recovers. There are different ways to accomplish this, including putting equity into these firms instead of buying their troubled assets.

But regardless of how we structure the plan, if the government makes any kind of profit on this deal, we must give every penny back to the taxpayers who put up the money in the first place. And after the economy recovers, we should institute a Financial Stability Fee on the entire financial services industry to repay any losses to the American people and make sure we are never asked to foot the bill for Wall Street’s mistakes again. We can ask taxpayers to make an investment in the stability of our economy, but we cannot ask them to hand their money over to Wall Street without some expectation of return.

Fourth, the final plan must provide help to families who are struggling to stay in their homes. We cannot simply bailout Wall Street without helping the millions of innocent homeowners who are facing foreclosure.

There are a number of ways we can accomplish this. For example, we should consider giving the government the authority to purchase mortgages directly instead of simply mortgage-backed securities. In the past, such an approach has allowed taxpayers to profit as the housing market recovered. This is not simply a question of looking after homeowners, it’s doubtful that the economy as a whole can recover without the restoration of our housing sector, including a rebound in the home values that have suffered dramatically in recent months.

Finally, the American people need to know that we feel as great a sense of urgency about the emergency on Main Street as we do about the emergency on Wall Street. I have repeatedly called on President Bush and Senator McCain to join me in supporting an economic stimulus plan for working families – a plan that would help folks cope with rising food and gas prices, save one million jobs by rebuilding our schools and roads, help states and cities avoid painful budget cuts and tax increases, and help homeowners stay in their homes.

Let me be clear – we shouldn’t include this stimulus package into this particular legislation, but as we solve the immediate crisis on Wall Street, we should move with the same sense of urgency to help Main Street.

It is absolutely wrong to suggest that we cannot protect American taxpayers while still stabilizing our market and saving our financial system from collapse. We can and must do both.

In summary, there is no doubt negotiations over the next few days will be difficult. I will continue to keep in close touch with Secretary Paulson, Chairman Bernanke, and the leaders of Congress to ensure that we can work in a bipartisan manner to get this done as quickly as possible. Our country is being tested by a very serious crisis. We are all in this together, and we must come together as Democrats and Republicans, on Wall Street and on Main Street to solve it. And with the proper spirit of cooperation, I know we can.

Chris Rock on Bill Clinton, Alaska, and Moose

What Leadership Looks Like III

Remarks of Senator Barack Obama
The Change We Need in Washington
As Prepared for Delivery
Monday, September 22nd, 2008
Green Bay, Wisconsin

THE ERA of greed and irresponsibility on Wall Street and in Washington has led us to a perilous moment. They said they wanted to let the market run free but instead they let it run wild, and in doing so, they tramped our core values of fairness, balance, and responsibility to one another. As a result, we are facing a financial crisis as profound as any we have faced since the Great Depression. As a result, your jobs, your savings, and your economic security are now at risk.

This week, we must work quickly, in a bipartisan fashion, to resolve this crisis and avert an even broader economic catastrophe. And as we do act, Washington must recognize that true economic recovery requires addressing not just the crisis on Wall Street, but the crisis on Main Street that so many of you have been feeling in your own lives long before the news of last week. We need a plan that helps families stay in their homes, and workers keep their jobs; a plan that gives hardworking Americans relief instead of using taxpayer dollars to reward CEOs on Wall Street. And we cannot give a blank check to Washington with no oversight and accountability when no oversight and accountability is what got us into this mess in the first place.

But no matter what solution we finally decide on this week, it is absolutely imperative that we get to work immediately on reforming the broken politics and the broken government that allowed this to crisis to happen in the first place.

We did not arrive at this moment by some accident of history. We are in this mess because of a bankrupt philosophy that says we should give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to the rest of us.

We’re here because for too long, the doors of Washington have been thrown open to an army of lobbyists and special interests who’ve turned our government into a game only they can afford to play – who have shredded consumer protections, fought against common-sense regulations and rules of the road, and distorted our economy so that it works for them instead of you.

We are here because an ethic of irresponsibility has swept through our government, leaving politicians with the belief that they can waste billions and billions of your money on no-bid contracts for friends and contributors, slip pork projects into bills during the dead of night, and spend billions on corporate tax breaks we can’t afford and old programs that we don’t need.

And today, even as Congress debates an emergency plan to save our economy from the verge of collapse, there are reports that lobbyists and CEOs are already lining up to figure out what’s in it for them; to find out how they can get theirs.

Green Bay, enough is enough.

I began this race for the presidency as the one candidate who hasn’t spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington. But I’ve been there long enough to know this – if we want a government that puts the needs of middle-class families before the whims of lobbyists and politicians; if we want to grow this economy and prevent a crisis like this from ever happening again, then the ways of Washington must change. We must reform our lobbyist-driven politics. We must reform the waste and abuse in our government. We must reform the rules of the road that let Wall Street run wild and stuck Main Street with the bill. We must change Washington now.

This has been our message from the day we began this campaign. Our opponent, on the other hand, has spent much of the last nineteen months arguing that what qualifies him to be President are the decades he’s spent in Washington.

But with forty-two days left, he’s had a sudden change of heart. An election-time conversion. After twenty-six years in Washington – years where he voted for the same trickle-down, on-your-own policies that got us into this mess – he now claims that he’s the one who can clean it up.

Well let’s be clear. When it comes to regulatory reform, Senator McCain has fought time and time again against the common-sense rules of the road that could’ve prevented this crisis. His economic plan was written by Phil Gramm, the architect in the US Senate of the de-regulatory steps that helped cause this mess. Even knowing what we know now, Senator McCain said in an interview just last night that de-regulation actually helped grow our economy. Well that might be true for the profits of a few CEOs, but it’s certainly not true for America’s prosperity.

When it comes to taking on the special interests, my opponent sounds like Fighting Bob Lafollette. But he acts like a guy who’s spent three decades of his life in Washington. He’s put seven of the biggest corporate lobbyists in charge of his campaign – lobbyists for the insurance industry and the oil industry; for foreign governments and Freddie and Fannie Mac, who paid his campaign manager nearly $2 million to defend them against stricter regulations. I guess they got their money’s worth.

And rest assured, those lobbyists who are working day and night to elect my opponent aren’t doing it to put themselves out of business.

When it comes to reforming government waste and spending, Senator McCain talks a lot about earmarks. And while he deserves credit for not requesting many of those earmarks during his time in Congress, what he never mentions is that he voted for 144 billion dollars worth in just six years; or that he voted for four out of the five Bush budgets that have been filled with special interests giveaways and left us with the largest deficit in history.

The truth is, our earmark system in Washington is fraught with abuse. It badly needs reform – which is why I didn’t request a single earmark last year, why I’ve released all my previous requests for the public to see, and why I’ve pledged to slash earmarks by more than half when I am President.

But let’s not pretend, as John McCain does, that proposing the elimination of 18 billion dollars of earmarks will make up for the more than 300 billion additional dollars he wants to spend on tax breaks for big corporations and multi-millionaires that don’t need them and weren’t asking for them – more than 300 billion dollars at a time when taxpayers are being asked to help finance two wars and a historic financial bailout. That’s some pretty creative math, but it doesn’t add up to is change. And change in Washington is what we need right now.

This change will not be easy. It will require reforming our politics by taking power away from the lobbyists who kill good ideas and good plans with secret meetings and campaign checks. It will require reforming our government by taking on the spending habits of both parties and going after the tax havens and loopholes that big corporations use to avoid paying their fare share while you pay more. And it will require reforming our out-dated, unfair regulatory system that favors Wall Street over Main Street but has ended up hurting both.

But I am ready to reform our politics because I’ve done it before. I’ve spent my career taking on lobbyists and their money, and I’ve won. When I was a state Senator in Illinois, if you wanted a favor, there was actually a law that let you give campaign cash to politicians for their own personal use. In the State House, they called it business-as-usual. I called it legalized bribery, and while it didn’t make me the most popular guy in Springfield, I put an end to it. I brought Democrats and Republicans together, and we passed the first ethics reform in twenty-five years.

When I got to Washington, Jack Abramoff and his lobbyist pals had engaged in some of the worst corruption since Watergate. I led the fight for reform in my party, and let me tell you – not everyone in my party was too happy about it. When I proposed forcing lobbyists to disclose who they’re raising money from and who in Congress they’re funneling it to, I had a few choice words directed my way on the floor of the Senate. But we got it done, and we banned gifts from lobbyists, and discounted rides on their corporate jets. And I’m the only candidate in this race who can say that Washington lobbyists do not fund my campaign, you do – with donations of $100, and $10, and $5.

I also joined with one of the most conservative Republicans in Congress to end the abuse that allowed no-bid contracts to waste taxpayer dollars instead of using them to rebuild the Gulf Coast after Katrina. And we worked together to put the federal government’s checkbook online – so you can see how and where Washington is spending trillions of dollars of your money.

For years, I have also pushed for reform of the same loose regulations and lax oversight that could’ve prevented the crisis we’re in. It was two years ago that I introduced legislation to stop mortgage transactions that promoted fraud, risk or abuse. It was one year ago that I called on our Treasury Secretary and our Fed Chairman to bring every stakeholder together and find a solution to the subprime mortgage meltdown before it got worse. In March, when John McCain was saying “I’m always for less regulation,” I called for a new, 21st century regulatory framework to restore accountability, transparency, and trust in our financial markets.

These are the types of reform I will pursue beginning on my very first day in office as President of the United States – political reform, government reform, and regulatory reform.

First, I’ll reform our special interest-driven politics. When I am President, I will start by closing the revolving door in the White House that has allowed people to use their Administration job as a stepping stone to further their lobbying careers.

I’ll make it absolutely clear that working in an Obama Administration is not about serving your former employer, your future employer, or your bank account – it’s about serving your country. When you walk into my administration, you will not be able to work on regulations or contracts directly related to your former employer for two years. And when you leave, you will not be able to lobby my Administration – ever. I will also institute an absolute gift ban so that no registered lobbyist can curry favor with members of my administration based on how much they can spend on a fancy dinner.

I’ll make our government open and transparent so that anyone can ensure that our business is the people’s business. As Justice Louis Brandeis once said, sunlight is the greatest disinfectant. As President, I will make it impossible for Congressmen or lobbyists to slip pork-barrel projects or corporate welfare into laws when no one is looking because when I am president, meetings where laws are written will be more open to the public. No more secrecy.

When there is a bill that ends up on my desk as President, you will have five days to look online and find out what’s in it before I sign it. When there are meetings between lobbyists and a government agency, we will put as many as possible online for every American to watch. When there is a tax bill being debated in Congress, you will know the names of the corporations that would benefit and how much money they would get. And we will put every corporate tax break and every pork-barrel project online for every American to see. You will know who asked for them and you can cast your vote accordingly.

The second set of reforms I’ll make will eliminate the waste, fraud, and abuse in our government.

We are facing the largest deficit in history. We are facing the largest government bailout in history. And we are also facing some of the greatest challenges in our history. All of this will cost money – to fix our health care system, and our schools, and build a new energy economy. And the only way we can do all this without leaving our children with an even larger debt is if Washington starts taking responsibility for every dime that it spends.

We can start by ending a war in Iraq that is costing us $10 billion a month when the Iraqi government is sitting on a $79 billion surplus. We should also stop sending fifteen billion dollars a year in overpayments to insurance companies for Medicare and go after tens of billions of dollars in Medicare and Medicaid fraud. We need to stop sending three billion a year to banks that provide student loans the government could provide for less, and hundreds of millions a year in subsidies to agribusiness that can survive just fine without your tax dollars and use some of the money to help family farmers who are struggling. I will put an end to this waste when I am President.

I am not a Democrat who believes that we can or should defend every government program just because it’s there. There are some that don’t work like we had hoped – like the Bush Administration’s billion-dollar-a-year reading program that hasn’t improved our children’s reading. And there are some that have been duplicated by other programs that we just need to cut back – like waste at the Economic Development Agency and the Export-Import Bank that has become little more than a fund for corporate welfare.

I understand there are parts of these programs worth defending and politicians of both parties who will do so. But if we hope to meet the challenges of our time, we must make difficult choices. As President, I will go through the entire federal budget, page by page, line by line, and I will eliminate the programs that don’t work and aren’t needed.

As for the programs we do need, I will make them work better and cost less. I will create a High-Performance Team that evaluates every agency and every office based on how well they’re serving the American taxpayer. We will fire government managers who aren’t getting results, we will cut funding for programs that are wasting your money, and we will use technology and lessons from the private sector to improve efficiency across every level of government – because we cannot meet twenty-first century challenges with a twentieth century bureaucracy.

I will also save billions of dollars by cutting private contractors and improving management of the hundreds of billions of dollars our government spends on private contracts, and I will end the abuse of no-bid contracts for good. One employee of a former Halliburton subsidiary actually admitted that he was ordered to put his company’s logo on towels provided to U.S. troops because our government – our tax dollars – would pay for it no matter how much it cost. That is wasteful, that is wrong, and that will end when I am President.

And for all his talk about earmark abuse, what Senator McCain doesn’t mention these days is the corporate abuse of our tax system – abuse that has cost far more than earmarks ever have. In 2003, loopholes and tax breaks allowed 28 major corporations to actually have negative tax liabilities. We lose $100 billion every year because corporations get to set up mailboxes offshore so they can avoid paying a dime of taxes in America. Imagine if you got to do that? There is a building right now in the Cayman Islands that is the address for 18,000 corporations. Well that is either the biggest building in the world or the biggest sham in the world, and I think we know which one it is. I will shut down those offshore tax havens and all those corporate loopholes as President, because you shouldn’t have to pay higher taxes because some big corporation cut corners to avoid paying theirs. All of us have a responsibility to pay our fair share. That’s putting country first.

Finally, the third set of reforms I will pursue are the updated, common-sense regulations of the financial market that I’ve been calling for since March; rules of the road that will make Wall Street fair, open, and honest; that will ensure a crisis like this can never happen again.

I’ve outlined six principles that such reforms should follow.

First, if you’re a financial institution that can borrow from the government, you should be subject to government oversight and supervision. Taxpayers who have now been called upon to spend nearly a trillion dollars to save our economy from the excesses of Wall Street have every right to expect that financial institutions are not taking excessive risks.

Second, we need to reform requirements on all regulated financial institutions, investigate rating agencies and potential conflicts of interest with the people they are rating, and establish transparency requirements that demand full disclosure by financial institutions to shareholders.

Third, we need to streamline our overlapping and competing regulatory agencies that cannot oversee the large and complex institutions that dominate the financial landscape.

Fourth, we need to regulate institutions for what they do, not what they are. Over the last few years, commercial banks and thrift institutions were subject to guidelines on subprime mortgages that did not apply to mortgage brokers and companies. This regulatory framework failed to protect homeowners, and made no sense for our financial system.

Fifth, we need to crack down on trading activity that crosses the line to market manipulation. We need regulators that actually enforce the rules instead of overlooking them. The SEC should investigate and punish all market manipulation.

Sixth, we must establish a process that identifies systemic risks to the financial system like the crisis that has overtaken our economy. We need a standing financial market advisory group to meet regularly and provide advice to the President, Congress, and regulators on the state of our financial markets and the risks they face. It’s time to anticipate risks before they erupt into a full-blown crisis.

These are the principles that should guide the reforms we need to establish a 21st century regulatory system – a system that recognizes our free market economy has only worked because we have guided the market’s invisible hand with a higher principle – that America prospers when all Americans can prosper.

To restore this prosperity, we must change Washington. We must reform our regulations, our politics, and our government, but we will not be able to make these changes with the same policies, the same lobbyists, or the same Washington culture that allows politicians and special interests to set their own agenda.

That’s exactly what we will get from John McCain. After twenty-six years of being part of this Washington culture, all that he has changed is his slogan for the fall campaign. And the people in charge of that campaign prove that if we elect John McCain, it’s not a team of mavericks we’ll be sending to the White House – it’s a team of lobbyists.

We can’t afford four more years of that kind of politics. We need real change.

It won’t be easy. The kind of change we’re looking for never is. What we are up against is a very powerful, entrenched status quo in Washington who will say anything and do anything and fight with everything they’ve got to keep things just the way are.

But I feel good about our chances, because I’ve got something more powerful than they do: I’ve got you. In this campaign, you have already shown what history teaches us – that at defining moments like this one, the change we need doesn’t come from Washington. Change comes to Washington.

Change has always come from places like Wisconsin – the state where the progressive movement was born; where laws were passed to regulate the railroads and insurance companies; laws that protected consumers and the safety of factory workers. It was a movement rooted in a principle that was known as the Wisconsin Idea – the idea that government works best in the hands of the people, not the special interests; that your voices should speak louder than the whispers of lobbyists.

That’s the Wisconsin idea. That’s the America idea. And that’s the kind of government we need right now.

So if you want the next four years in Washington to look just like the last eight, then I am not your candidate. But if you want real change – if you want to shine a bright light into the backrooms of Washington; if you want to replace the special interests with your interests, if you want a government that costs less and works better for everyday Americans, then I ask you to knock on some doors, and make some calls, and talk to your neighbors, and give me your vote on November 4th. And if you do, I promise you – we will change America together. Thank you.


See the full 11-page plan The Change We Need in Washington.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Practice of Fools

“TRICKS and treachery are the practice of fools who don't have the brains enough to be honest.”

1 7 0 6 - 1 7 9 0


WHY Palin's right-wing religious extremism matters:

Yes, she believes in [the End-Times]. Of course she believes in them. Her former pastor believes that Alaska will be the refuge for the faithful in the lower 48 states when the Rapture comes. She is a Biblical literalist who denies evolution - who has to deny evolution - to remain in her church. She believes - because she has to believe - that the earth was created 6,000 years ago. And she believes that the Apocalypse will start in the Middle East. Sam Harris sees it clearly, as usual:

Palin's spiritual colleagues describe themselves as part of "the final generation," engaged in "spiritual warfare" to purge the earth of "demonic strongholds." Palin has spent her entire adult life immersed in this apocalyptic hysteria. Ask yourself: Is it a good idea to place the most powerful military on earth at her disposal? Do we actually want our leaders thinking about the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy when it comes time to say to the Iranians, or to the North Koreans, or to the Pakistanis, or to the Russians or to the Chinese: "All options remain on the table"?

It is now 24 days since she was announced as a potential president of the United States next January and she still hasn't given a news conference or has any plans to hold one. This black-out of all serious press access has never happened in modern American political history before.

If that doesn't concern you, what will?
In the video that accompanies the article, she makes it crystal clear that nothing she does as governor to enrich the lives of Alaskans would matter if people's hearts weren't right with God.

One 72-year-old heartbeat from the button?


“I SUPPOSE the McCain campaign's hope is that when there's a big crisis, people will go for age and experience. The question is, who in this crisis looked more presidential, calm and un-flustered? It wasn't John McCain who, as usual, substituting vehemence for coherence, said 'let's fire somebody.' And picked one of the most experienced and conservative people in the administration, Chris Cox, and for no apparent reason... It was un-presidential behavior by a presidential candidate ... John McCain showed his personality this week and it made some of us fearful.”

- George F. Will, This Week.

I Have A Question

A Prescription for Disaster

Sunday, September 21, 2008

What Leadership Looks Like II

Barack's Seven Point Plan

THE ERA of greed and irresponsibility on Wall Street and in Washington has led to a financial crisis as profound as any we have faced since the Great Depression.

But regardless of how we got here, the circumstances we face require decisive action because the jobs, savings, and economic security of millions of Americans are now at risk.

We must work quickly in a bipartisan fashion to resolve this crisis and restore our financial sector so capital is flowing again and we can avert an even broader economic catastrophe. We also should recognize that economic recovery requires that we act, not just to address the crisis on Wall Street, but also the crisis on Main Street and around kitchen tables across America.

But thus far, the Administration has only offered a concept with a staggering price tag, not a plan.

Even if the Treasury recovers some or most of its investment over time, this initial outlay of up to $700 billion is sobering. And in return for their support, the American people must be assured that the deal reflects some basic principles.

1. No blank check. If we grant the Treasury broad authority to address the immediate crisis, we must insist on independent accountability and oversight. Given the breach of trust we have seen and the magnitude of the taxpayer money involved, there can be no blank check.

2. Rescue requires mutual responsibility. As taxpayers are asked to take extraordinary steps to protect our financial system, it is only appropriate to expect those institutions that benefit to help protect American homeowners and the American economy. We cannot underwrite continued irresponsibility, where CEOs cash in and our regulators look the other way. We cannot abet and reward the unconscionable practices that triggered this crisis. We have to end them.

3. Taxpayers should be protected. This should not be a handout to Wall Street. It should be structured in a way that maximizes the ability of taxpayers to recoup their investment. Going forward, we need to make sure that the institutions that benefit from financial insurance also bear the cost of that insurance.

4. Help homeowners stay in their homes. This crisis started with homeowners and they bear the brunt of the nearly unprecedented collapse in housing prices. We cannot have a plan for Wall Street banks that does not help homeowners stay in their homes and help distressed communities.

5. A global response. As I said on Friday, this is a global financial crisis and it requires a global solution. The United States must lead, but we must also insist that other nations, who have a huge stake in the outcome, join us in helping to secure the financial markets.

6. Main Street, not just Wall Street. The American people need to know that we feel as great a sense of urgency about the emergency on Main Street as we do the emergency on Wall Street. That is why I call on Senator McCain, President Bush, Republicans and Democrats to join me in supporting an emergency economic plan for working families – a plan that would help folks cope with rising gas and food prices, save one million jobs through rebuilding our schools and roads, help states and cities avoid painful budget cuts and tax increases, help homeowners stay in their homes, and provide retooling assistance to help ensure that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built in America.

7. Build a regulatory structure for the 21st Century. While there is not time in a week to remake our regulatory structure to prevent abuses in the future, we should commit ourselves to the kind of reforms I have been advocating for several years. We need new rules of the road for the 21st Century economy, together with the means and willingness to enforce them.

The bottom line is that we must change the economic policies that led us down this dangerous path in the first place. For the last eight years, we’ve had an "on your own-anything goes" philosophy in Washington and on Wall Street that lavished tax cuts on the wealthy and big corporations; that viewed even common-sense regulation and oversight as unwise and unnecessary; and that shredded consumer protections and loosened the rules of the road. Ordinary Americans are now paying the price. The events of this week have rendered a final verdict on that failed philosophy, and it is a philosophy I will end as President of the United States.


Take note that Barack delivered the first version of this plan in his address at a rally in Charlotte, North Carolina.

North Carolina.

At this stage of the game, Barack isn't wasting resources in states he doesn't believe he can win. The internals must be good. If we can pick off Virgina and North Carolina, along with Iowa, Colorado, New Mexico, Florida, and Ohio - all possible - McCain can have Pennsylvania.

Vote hope.

Sunday With Billy

Billy Porter tears into "Gethsemane" from Jesus Christ Superstar.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Oh, Snap!

The Trojan Moose?

THE Anchorage Daily News looks at Troopergate through another lens. Instead of focusing on what role the governor had in Monegan's firing, they look at Chris Kopp, the Christianist sexual abuser who replaced him. And the article ties this hiring to bolstering the governor's Christianist credentials so she would be a more attractive veep pick for John McCain, who we now know is a wholly owned subsidiary of the religious right.

On June 30, 2008, David Brody of CBS News reported John McCain met in North Carolina with Rev. Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, director of the multimillion- dollar Samaritan's Place faith-based charitable organization. McCain was courting the religious right who, at the time, were skeptical of his social conservatism and his Christian qualifications. After the meeting Graham issued a statement praising McCain's "personal faith" and added, "We had an opportunity to pray ... for God's will to be done in this upcoming election."

Subsequent events suggest that the price of support for McCain by the fundamentalist Christian leadership would be a vice presidential candidate of their liking. Gov. Palin was a logical choice for Franklin Graham, whose ties to Alaska include a palatial, by Bush Alaska standards, second home in Port Alsworth: a community that has often served as a retreat for Christian fundamentalist leaders.

But Gov. Palin did not promote a socially conservative agenda during her first two years as governor and some Alaska right-wing commentators called her an economic liberal. Send us a sign, national fundamentalist Christian leaders seemingly said, that proves your credentials. In firing Monegan and hiring Kopp, Palin would have gained a controversial measure of revenge in a family dispute and established her standing as a Christian conservative politician.

Kenai City Police Chief Chuck Kopp was a rising star in Alaska's Christian conservative movement. He was a frequent speaker at local religious and patriotic gatherings. He was school board president of Cook Inlet Academy, the fundamentalist Christian high school in Soldotna his missionary-educator father founded. Kopp also was on the board of Port Alsworth's Tanailan Bible Camp, also founded by his father.

Through Samaritan's Place, Franklin Graham has been the chief benefactor of the Tanailan Bible Camp building and rebuilding a church and meeting hall and guest cabins. The evangelical scion of Alaska, Rev. Jerry Prevo of the Anchorage Baptist Temple, is on Samaritan Purse's Board of Directors, so there's a clear connection between Graham, Prevo and Kopp.

Kopp's nomination quickly ran into trouble because of sexual harassment reprimands while Kenai police chief, but Palin's willingness to appoint him to a high state position along with her anti-abortion, pro-creationist beliefs seems to have solidified her position as the one to ignite the base for McCain. Kevin Merida reported in the Washington Post that when Palin met with the Alaska delegation after her nomination during the recent Republican National Convention, Rev. Prevo, a member of the delegation, said Palin asked them to pray for her. Then Prevo handed the governor his cell phone; it was Franklin Graham calling to congratulate her.

I always sensed that Troopergate had a more-than-meets-they-eye feel to it. This reportage doesn't prove anything, but it certainly makes some connections that shed more light on the whiplash the nation experienced with McCain's pick.

I know folks don't think this story matters much to people, but it does. Not just because of this blatant pandering to the wingnuts by the Republican ticket to nowhere, but also because it shows how much the governor's style reminds us too much of Cheney's.

And just how much of a puppet both of these dangerous, dangerous idiots are.

Thank John McCain

CREATED by a concerned citizen.

Another Conservative Wakes Up

THIS is becoming contagious.

THE MORE I LISTEN TO AND READ ABOUT “the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate,” the more I like him. Barack Obama strikes a chord with me like no political figure since Ronald Reagan. To explain why, I need to explain why I am a conservative and what it means to me.

In 1964, at the age of 16, I organized the Dallas County Youth for Goldwater. My senior thesis at the University of Texas was on the conservative intellectual revival in America. Twenty years later, I was invited by William F. Buckley Jr. to join the board of National Review. I later became its publisher.

Conservatism to me is less a political philosophy than a stance, a recognition of the fallibility of man and of man’s institutions. Conservatives respect the past not for its antiquity but because it represents, as G.K. Chesterton said, the democracy of the dead; it gives the benefit of the doubt to customs and laws tried and tested in the crucible of time. Conservatives are skeptical of abstract theories and utopian schemes, doubtful that government is wiser than its citizens, and always ready to test any political program against actual results.

Liberalism always seemed to me to be a system of “oughts.” We ought to do this or that because it’s the right thing to do, regardless of whether it works or not. It is a doctrine based on intentions, not results, on feeling good rather than doing good.

But today it is so-called conservatives who are cemented to political programs when they clearly don’t work. The Bush tax cuts—a solution for which there was no real problem and which he refused to end even when the nation went to war—led to huge deficit spending and a $3 trillion growth in the federal debt. Facing this, John McCain pumps his “conservative” credentials by proposing even bigger tax cuts. Meanwhile, a movement that once fought for limited government has presided over the greatest growth of government in our history. That is not conservatism; it is profligacy using conservatism as a mask.

Today it is conservatives, not liberals, who talk with alarming bellicosity about making the world “safe for democracy.” It is John McCain who says America’s job is to “defeat evil,” a theological expansion of the nation’s mission that would make George Washington cough out his wooden teeth.

This kind of conservatism, which is not conservative at all, has produced financial mismanagement, the waste of human lives, the loss of moral authority, and the wreckage of our economy that McCain now threatens to make worse.

Barack Obama is not my ideal candidate for president. (In fact, I made the maximum donation to John McCain during the primaries, when there was still hope he might come to his senses.) But I now see that Obama is almost the ideal candidate for this moment in American history. I disagree with him on many issues. But those don’t matter as much as what Obama offers, which is a deeply conservative view of the world. Nobody can read Obama’s books (which, it is worth noting, he wrote himself) or listen to him speak without realizing that this is a thoughtful, pragmatic, and prudent man. It gives me comfort just to think that after eight years of George W. Bush we will have a president who has actually read the Federalist Papers.

Most important, Obama will be a realist. I doubt he will taunt Russia, as McCain has, at the very moment when our national interest requires it as an ally. The crucial distinction in my mind is that, unlike John McCain, I am convinced he will not impulsively take us into another war unless American national interests are directly threatened.

“Every great cause,” Eric Hoffer wrote, “begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” As a cause, conservatism may be dead. But as a stance, as a way of making judgments in a complex and difficult world, I believe it is very much alive in the instincts and predispositions of a liberal named Barack Obama.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Little White Babies

The Campaign-Ending Paragraph

THE TITLE of this post is a bit of hyperbole. But it ought not be. In the September/October edition of Contingencies, a publication of the American Academy of Actuaries, Barack Obama and John McCain put forth their plans for health care reform. The crux of the maverick-cum-neocom-cum-economic populist's health care reform?

Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.

Game. Set. Match.

I saved the PDF just in case it disappears from the website within 24 hours or so.


GOODNESS gracious. McCain blamed Barack for the Wall Street crisis, for job losses in Michigan (I guess that poll that came out today with Barack 9 points ahead is indeed causing panic) and for getting Palin disinvited to an anti-Iran rally in New York.

All in a day's work.

For a man McCain called so new and so inexperienced, so naive and so unprepared to lead, it's amazing how much power he now claims Barack wielded in his first term in the Senate.

Barack is now the Washington insider who's killing American jobs and world financial markets?

Who can still take McCain seriously?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Announcing The Launch Of The Voter Suppression Wiki - Learn, Report, Act

by Jack Turner, Jack and Jill Politics

IT’S THAT TIME in the American political cycle again, when politicians and activists and famous people and your family members tell you how important it is to vote. They tell you this election is more important than ever. They tell you if you don’t vote, you don’t count.

But what about the votes that don’t count? What about the systematic attempts to erect barriers between voters and the ballot box? What about voter suppression?

In order to educate, document and mobilize action, I’m excited to introduce the Voter Suppression Wiki.

Inspired by my fellow blogger, rikyrah, at Jack and Jill Politics, plus input from several online and voting rights activists, the purpose of the wiki is to have a central location to coordinate information and action around efforts to suppress the vote in this 2008 election.

Here’s a video intro I made at a most ridiculous hour this morning.

And a great intro written up by Jon Pincus, who helped a lot with the setup and was one of the main forces behind Get FISA Right.

Read the rest...

Little Brown Girls

In Nevada.

Say It Again!

“IF HE’S the answer, then the question must be ridiculous.”

—New York Gov. David Paterson on John McCain

4 Years in 30 Seconds


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Who Said Barack Isn't Tough Enough?

AL RODGERS, who's traveling with the campaign, has a great diary highlighting Barack's reception in Nevada yesterday as well as some scathing attack ads on John McCain, his friends, and his proposals to sell us out and continue more economic rape and starvation and disaster and debt, not to mention war. Check it out.

Barack's Plan for Economic Growth


In the past few weeks, Wall Street’s been rocked as banks closed and markets tumbled. But for many of you – the people I’ve met in town halls, backyards and diners across America – our troubled economy isn’t news. 600,000 Americans have lost their jobs since January. Paychecks are flat and home values are falling. It’s hard to pay for gas and groceries and if you put it on a credit card they’ve probably raised your rates. You’re paying more than ever for health insurance that covers less and less.

This isn’t just a string of bad luck. The truth is that while you’ve been living up to your responsibilities Washington has not. That’s why we need change. Real change. This is no ordinary time and it shouldn’t be an ordinary election. But much of this campaign has been consumed by petty attacks and distractions that have nothing to do with you or how we get America back on track.

Here’s what I believe we need to do. Reform our tax system to give a $1,000 tax break to the middle class instead of showering more on oil companies and corporations that outsource our jobs. End the ‘anything goes’ culture on Wall Street with real regulation that protects your investments and pensions. Fast track a plan for energy ‘made-in-America’ that will free us from our dependence on mid-east oil in 10 years and put millions of Americans to work. Crack down on lobbyists – once and for all — so their back-room deal-making no longer drowns out the voices of the middle class and undermines our common interests as Americans.

And yes, bring a responsible end to this war in Iraq so we stop spending billions each month rebuilding their country when we should be rebuilding ours. Doing these things won’t be easy. But we’re Americans. We’ve met tough challenges before. And we can again. I’m Barack Obama. I hope you’ll read my economic plan. I approved this message because bitter, partisan fights and outworn ideas of the left and the right won’t solve the problems we face today. But a new spirit of unity and shared responsibility will.