Friday, October 31, 2008

I’m going to make him do some squats

Today McCain called Obama “more liberal than a senator who calls himself a socialist [Bernie Sanders].” For somebody who’s so concerned with labeling people’s ideologies, McCain really doesn’t understand where “liberal” and “socialist” are on the political spectrum (of course he also refers to himself as both a conservative and a reformer, sometimes in the same sentence).

Today McCain finally brought out the big gun: Arnold the Terminator. The one man with the credentials to criticize Obama on the most important issue of the campaign: “he needs to do something about those skinny legs. I’m going to make him do some squats.”

ALL KIND OF ACTION: “I only play an action hero in the movies but John McCain is a real action hero. And when John McCain is elected you will see all kind of action.” Somehow, that’s not reassuring.

Let God protect Bosnia and Herzegovina

Robert Fisk: charges against 6 Algerians, some with Bosnian citizenship, held at Guantanamo that they planned in 2001 to blow up the American embassy in Bosnia have been dropped. According to the Bosnian prime minister, American Deputy Ambassador Christopher Hoh threatened to withdraw NATO peacekeeping troops from Bosnia if they were not handed over, and “then let God protect Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

How is it that the only mentions of Hoh on the interwebtubes are about this story?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Defiant One

Well, I watched the Obama infomercial last night, and here is the sum total of what I took away from it: I never noticed before how much he talks with his hands.

“SPREADING THE WEALTH” REPUBLICANS CAN BELIEVE IN: Banks spending all that government bailout money (all right, half of it anyway) on dividends rather than loans: everyone grab your pitchforks and torches and head over to one of these banks.

Bush went to the graduation ceremony for the FBI Academy in Quantico, you know, the place Jodie Foster jogged through in The Silence of the Lambs. He said, “The FBI has inspired generations of children to dream of joining the force. (Laughter.) Sounds like I inspired one or two myself. (Laughter and applause.)” Oh, George, I don’t think they joined the FBI just on the off-chance that they’d be the ones leading you off in handcuffs one day. (Actually, they may be laughing at his calling the FBI “the force.”)

McCain campaigned today in Defiance, Ohio, just so that this picture would be taken:

Or possibly so that this picture would be taken:

The Daily Telegraph has a photo tribute to George Bush, 29 pictures (of which long-time readers will have seen about 25 here).

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

99 and 44/100 percent of the American people are going to make a decision on who is best to lead this country

John McCain was interviewed by fellow decrepitudinous oldster Larry King today. Judging by the transcript, he fumbled rather a lot, and lost track of exactly whose guilt-by-association he was accusing Obama of, saying that the LA Times had a tape of Obama and William Ayers. He meant Rashid Khalidi. I guess all the insinuations run together after a while.

Oh O!

He said he hadn’t expected Palin to be so controversial but “I got to tell you, every time I’m around her, I’m uplifted.” Eww.

He said that the government should not do the only thing that governments do: “But it is not the job of government that I believe in, that would take a group of Americans who have some money and say, we’re taking your money, and we’re giving it to others.”

How will he eliminate the deficit in a single term? “By growing the economy. By growing the economy. You know, when Ronald Reagan came to office, inflation was double-digit, interest rates were double-digit, unemployment were double-digit, and everybody said, you can’t do it by cutting taxes and by increasing wealth and having our economy improve.” So his model for reducing the national debt is... Ronald Reagan.

HE WAS ONLY A HUMBLE ADMIRAL’S SON: “You know, I’m a guy that’s had a little bit humble beginnings, who only wanted to be a Navy pilot.”

IT FLOATS!: He doesn’t think racism will play a role in the election: “It -- look, there is racism in America. We all know that, because we can’t stop working against it. But I am totally convinced that 99 and 44/100 percent of the American people are going to make a decision on who is best to lead this country.” 99 and 44/100ths is of course how pure Ivory Soap advertises itself to be. Ivory, as in, well, white.

Took godless money

An Elizabeth Dole ad you’ve probably already seen:

Isn’t all money pretty much godless?

Or, alternatively, how can money be godless when money is in fact God?

Palin, a few days ago: “Friends, now is no time to experiment with socialism.” But you’ll tell us when it is a good time, right?

Caption contest

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

About time

Sarah Palin: “It’s about time we had a dude in the White House.”

John McCain makes a campaign promise: “No one will delay a World Series game with an infomercial when I’m president.”

Another “Proposition Hate” commercial, featuring adorable miniature musical homophobes (can anyone read what her shirt says?).

Monday, October 27, 2008

But did someone think to take a picture? No they did not.

Headline of the Day: “Man’s Arm Trapped in Train Toilet.” A mobile phone was, naturally, involved. “The man was carried away by emergency services, with the toilet still attached to his arm.”

Syria is claiming the American raiders also seized two men. They’re not best pleased.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Of rubber bands, cats and killing Syrians

Did I really just wash off a rubber band my cat dropped on the bathroom floor, rather than throw it out, because it’s her favorite rubber band?

Okay, who had “war with Syria” in the October Surprise office pool? Launching this splendid little war from Iraqi soil should make any status-of-forces agreement with Iraq impossible.

Anti-abortion propositions

Did a quick trawl for ads for anti-abortion ballot initiatives in California, South Dakota and Colorado, because that’s what my Saturday nights are like.

This ad for California’s Prop. 4, for parental notification for minors seeking abortions, is a dramatization based on actual facts!

The proponents of Measure 11 in South Dakota are pushing the claim that it would only ban abortions performed for the purposes of birth control. However they also claim that 99% of all abortions are performed for the purposes of birth control.

The initiators of Colorado’s Prop. 48, whose website’s banner

for some reason features the profile of Alfred Hitchcock,

have this ad, which I think you’ll agree proves with impeccable logic why “human life” must be defined as beginning at conception:

The rather anodyne ads opposing Prop. 48 all say, more in sorrow than in anger, that 48 “goes too far,” a phrase I find obnoxious because it suggests that there is some acceptable compromise with the anti-choicers.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

What the stories of Albania and Croatia will be

Today Bush held a signing ceremony for the accords for Albania and Croatia to join NATO, saying, “May the stories of Albania and Croatia be a light to those who remain in the darkness of tyranny.” Yes, I’m sure people who remain in the darkness of tyranny comfort each other by whispering tales of Albania and Croatia.

His Irrelevancy also went to the National Security Agency today. “We have been here at NSA, which is on the front line of protecting the American people.” If by “front line,” you mean a building in Maryland where they listen to your phone calls and read your emails.

Thandie Newton is Sarah Palin, in the performance you didn’t know you were waiting for:

Thandie, it’s called eating, you might want to look into it.

Finally, what’s the point of having a blog is you can’t run pictures of baby pandas whenever you feel like it?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I don’t know if you’re gonna use the word terrorist there

Daily Telegraph headline: “McCain Turns to Elderly in Drive for Votes.” Twenty miles under the speed limit, with the turn signal blinking the whole way.

This week, McCain has repeatedly brought up his bit role in the Cuban Missile Crisis to show that he has been “tested”: “I had a little personal experience in that. I was a navy pilot on board the USS Enterprise. We were training to go into combat at any moment. I know how close to a nuclear war we came.” Is it my imagination, or is he trying to con us into thinking he was one of the guys who would have dropped the nukes?

I read the People Magazine interview with Sarah and Todd Palin, so you don’t have to.

VULNERABLE: Todd: “When she’s working for me out there in my fishing boat, she’s pretty vulnerable. It’s my element.” Sarah: “He’s the boss out there on the boat while we commercial fish. Yeah. That’s a different story then.”

I ARE A INTULEKSHUAL: Sarah, do you think you’re an intellectual? “Yessss.” “You have to go with what the foundational knowledge is that you have on issues in front of you”.

WHAT INTELLECTUALS NAME THEIR CHILDREN: “I always wanted a son named Zamboni.”

BRISTOL AND LEVI WILL BE LEFT ON AN ICE FLOE: “they’re not going to be looking for anybody to hand them anything.”

In the second part of the Palin-McCain NBC interview (video here), Palin said that William Ayers is a domestic terrorist “on his own admittance,” but abortion clinic bombers, “I don’t know if you’re gonna use the word terrorist there.” She did add that bombing abortion clinics was “unacceptable.” No, “unacceptable” is when Piper leaves her Louis Vuitton bag just lying around; blowing up clinics, that’s terrorism.

Brian Williams asked Palin to define “elite”: “just people who think that they’re better than anyone else.” So they’re not people who live in the anti-America parts of America. McCain disagreed, saying they live in New York City and D.C. Sarah wouldn’t know, he said, because she’s never been invited to a Georgetown cocktail party. McCain is oddly obsessed with Georgetown cocktail parties.

Are you a feminist, Governor Mooseburger? “I’m not gonna put a label on myself.”

Speaking of designer labels, in an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Sarah says of the $150,000 in clothes and whatnot, “that is not who we are. ... Oh, if people only knew how frugal we are.” Well, no one’s accusing you of spending your own money. She says the clothes weren’t really worth that and were just a loan anyway – “that’s not even my property” (otherwise known as the Ted Stevens defense).

I see all these attacks on Governor Palin. I don’t live in a bubble.

Last night NBC aired part I of an interview with McCain and Palin.

Asked whether she’d release her medical records, Palin said people, who she called “curiosity seekers,” would be reassured “if” she released them.

They’re trying to make hay over Joe the Biden’s stupid comment about foreign countries creating a crisis to test Obama, although McCain was remarkably unprepared to respond to being confronted with Joe the Lieberman’s similar remark that “Our enemies will test the new president early.” McCain: “I -- look, I don’t know when Joe Lieberman said that. [WIIIAI: June] Joe Lieberman is supporting me.”

McCain did make a guarantee of his own: “And when I’m president, there’s not going to be an international crisis that he can -- that Senator Biden can guarantee.” Elect John McCain, nothing can go wrong can go wrong can go wrong.

Palin added that Biden’s was “the most telling comment that has been made yet on this campaign trail in all of these months.” She didn’t say what it told.

Addressing Colin Powell’s remarks about Palin being totally unqualified, McCain testily dismissed them as ill-informed, saying that Powell hadn’t even bothered to meet Palin and “obviously... does not know Gov. Palin’s record.” In fact, everyone who criticizes her “obviously are either not paying attention to, or don’t care about, the record of the most popular governor in the United States of America.”

McCain and Palin are showing increasing exasperation with anyone who dares to question them or otherwise show less than the deference they feel due them. People who want medical records are “curiosity-seekers,” people who think Palin unqualified are “obviously” ignorant. The Chimperial Presidency lives.

Tom Toles:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

You got anybody who says they’ve changed their mind and they support me?

John McCain was interviewed by Wolf Blitzer today.

PRESIDENT MCCAIN WOULD GO BACK IN TIME AND DO BATTLE WITH SENATOR MCCAIN IN A FIGHT TO THE DEATH, MY FRIENDS: “I would have vetoed literally every spending bill, even those that I voted for, if I were president of the United States”.

Blitzer had a question from a viewer who no longer supports McCain because of his negative campaigning. McCain asked, “You got anybody who says they’ve changed their mind and they support me? You got a question from them, Wolf? I’d just love to hear that.” Ha ha, John, that’s very funny. There are no people like that.

WILL THIS BE ON THE TEST? “Look, I’ve been tested. Sen. Biden referred to the Cuban Missile Crisis. I was there.”

Will he honor a Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq that requires pull-out by the end of 2011? “With respect, Wolf -- and you know better, my friend. You know better. It’s condition-based. It’s conditions-based.” I guess that’s a no.

The funnest part of the interview was Blitzer repeatedly asking if McCain still thinks investing Social Security in the stock market is a good idea, and McCain filibustering and firing off desperate attacks in all directions.

MCCAIN: The reason why the talks collapsed is because the Democrats insisted on agreeing to tax increases before we sat down. So let’s understand history.

BLITZER: What about Social Security investments ...

MCCAIN: That’s what they wanted to do. And all this other stuff was worth negotiating. And I will protect as president of the United States the Social Security benefits of retirees and future retirees. I will protect those benefits, and I’ll do whatever’s necessary to protect those benefits, and I’ve said that time over time. Every even-numbered year, Democrats run out, scare the senior citizens, say they’re going to raise your taxes, they’re going to destroy Social Security. Same old stuff. I’ve seen it for more years than I can count. I’m not scaring any senior. I’m going to preserve their -- protect their Social Security benefits, despite what ads may be run. And the senior citizens, as well as all citizens in this country ...

BLITZER: And the notion of using 10 percent in the stock market?

MCCAIN: ... They know about how I’m going to fix Social Security. And I’m going to make their Social Security the best I can, and we’ll preserve the benefits that they have, and I’ll protect Social Security.

BLITZER: And the 10 percent?

MCCAIN: And I’ll protect Social Security, and I’ll sit down at the table with the Democrats. And by the way, we can keep -- you know, this is -- I’ll give you -- I’m telling ...

BLITZER: This is an important issue.

MCCAIN: ... I’m going to protect Social Security, and that’s what I’ve done my entire career. And I will do what Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill did, and that is save Social Security and make Americans aware that, unfortunately, present-day retirees have -- working Americans today are not going to receive the same benefits as present-day retirees unless we fix it. And I think I can convince the American people that we’ll sit down together.

$150,000 on Palin’s wardrobe, and poor hobo John McCain owns only one shirt.

Sarah Palin and the Prayer Warriors of Doom

Sarah Palin was interviewed today by James Dobson (audio at the link).

Dobson said he and his wife are praying for the McCain campaign. She said that she could “feel the power of prayer” and thanked him and other “prayer warriors” for their intercession with, you know, God.

She spoke of the need to “seek His perfect will for this nation and to, of course, seek His wisdom and guidance in putting this nation back on the...” wait for it... “right track.”

He thanked her for not aborting Trig. In her response, from about 6:40, she called herself a “hard-core pro-lifer,” said something about “walkin’ the walk,” and suggested that she was “chosen” by God to have a baby with Down Syndrome in order to advance the “greater good” of the pro-life political agenda.

Meanwhile, her running mate was hanging out with naked painted men.

You ruffle feathers and you have the scars to prove it afterwards

Afghan journalism student Pervez Kambaksh, convicted of “insulting Islam” for downloading material about women’s rights from the Web and sentenced to death in a four-minute trial, has had his sentence reduced to a mere 20 years in prison. So really, the invasion and seven-year occupation of Afghanistan has all been worth it.

Speaking of setbacks in women’s rights, Sarah Palin was interviewed yesterday by CNN.

She was asked whether Obama is a socialist, and wouldn’t answer herself, but did defer to a distinguished economist: “I’m not gonna call him a socialist, but, as Joe the plumber had suggested, in fact he came right out and said it sounds like socialism to him and he speaks for so many Americans who are quite concerned now”.

She was asked what her role as veep would be: “You take on the special interests and the self-dealings. Yep, you ruffle feathers and you have the scars to prove it afterwards”. If you have scars from ruffling feathers, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Should she have let Todd use the governor’s office to try to destroy her ex-brother-in-law? Yes indeedy. Todd did “what any reasonable husband and father would do”. Also, Frank Murkowski’s wife sat in on meetings when he was governor so clearly there’s “you know, kinda, of a double standard here.”

She insisted that when she talked about pro-America parts of the US, and the true America, she certainly did not mean to imply that there were anti-America parts of the US and a false America. Really, she doesn’t know how anyone could even get that idea. It’s just that at the rallies she goes to, “we see the patriotism just shining through these people’s faces and the Vietnam veterans wearing their hats so proudly and they have tears in their eyes as we sing our national anthem,” and at Obama rallies virgins are sacrificed to Satan.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I refuse to accept the development model that says, oh, these people are doomed forever, let’s just throw money at the problem

Today Bush held a White House Summit on International Development, or as he called it, “a summit to herald the outstanding work being done to lift up souls in need.”

WHAT POWER TO SAVE LIVES COMES WITH: “We believe that power to save lives comes with the obligation to use it.”

IT DOES SOUND LIKE KIND OF A CRAP DEVELOPMENT MODEL: “I refuse to accept the development model that says, oh, these people are doomed forever, let’s just throw money at the problem.”

WHAT THERE’S NOTHING MORE BASIC THAN: “In the new era of development, America and our partners are helping to meet basic human needs like food and clean water. There’s nothing more basic than food and clean water.”

OR THEY WOULD, IF THEY COULD HEAR IT OVER THE SOUND OF THE POTATO CHIPS THEY’RE EATING: “The American people care when they hear people are going hungry around the world.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “I believe that as the United States moves forward, we ought to purchase up to a quarter of our food from local farmers. In other words, of all the food aid we get we ought to take a quarter of that, Donald, and purchase the food directly from local farmers.”

WHAT LAURA DIDN’T THINK OF: “I want to share with you an interesting program -- for two reasons, one, it’s interesting, and two, my wife thought of it -- (laughter) -- or has actually been involved with it; she didn’t think of it. But she thought of it for this speech.”

That idea? Something called PlayPumps Alliance, in which children are chained to water pumps which they’re told are really merry-go-rounds and that they’re having fun endlessly turning the contraptions and are certainly not slaving away in Dickensian satanic mills. “And as my good wife says, PlayPumps are fueled by a limitless energy source -- (laughter) -- children at play.” Limitless, he says. Those poor, poor children.

TOO MANY PRESIDENTS: “Yet too many people can’t read.”

AN INTERESTING STATISTIC: “For developing nations, the value of trade is 40 times the value of foreign aid. Isn’t that an interesting statistic? What should that tell you?” Er, that the value of foreign aid is one-fortieth the value of trade?

WE JUST NEVER SEEM TO GO ON VACATIONS AS A NATION ANYMORE: “I’m just so sorry that not every American could have been with Laura and me to see what we saw in our trip to Africa last year.” Next summer, let’s all 300 million of us go to Tahiti. I call dibs on that nice spot on the beach by those rocks.

WHAT WE MISSED BECAUSE WE DIDN’T ALL GO WITH GEORGE AND LAURA TO AFRICA LAST YEAR: “Schoolchildren sang songs about America’s generosity.”

CONTEST: What might the titles of those songs about America’s “generosity” be?

Condi on top

Tom Toles (click for larger):

An insight from an interview of Condi Rice by Girl Scout Magazine: “when I want to feel really on top of things, I wear red.”

Excuses, excuses

Most Insultingly Implausible Excuse of the Day: Zimbabwe’s opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was supposed to go to a regional summit in Swaziland for negotiations to save the doomed power-sharing deal that Robert Mugabe signed but never intended to honor, but he has not been issued a passport because... Zimbabwe is running out of paper. That’s what the government said. Because of sanctions, it said (and possibly because these days you now need a dump truck full of Zimbabwean currency to buy one peanut).

Second Most Insultingly Implausible Excuse of the Day: Ted Stevens, testifying at his trial, on why an expensive lounge chair given to him seven years ago should not be considered a (unreported) gift: “We have lots of things in our house that don’t belong to us”. Indeed, “I don’t know how it got in the house.”

Monday, October 20, 2008

I would call it near panic

Today Bush spoke to the Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce about the economy.

HE HAS AN MBA, YOU KNOW: “And then the question I’ve asked here is, what are the attitudes like? And I have heard that people’s attitudes are beginning to change, from a period of intense concerns -- and I would call it near panic -- to being more relaxed and beginning to see the effects of changes and the liquidity that is being pumped in the system, that we got a long way to go.” Near panic, more relaxed, liquidity being pumped in the system, long way to go... should you really be making with the dirty talk to the Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce, George? For shame.

You set yourself up just to continually be mocked

Sarah Palin was interviewed recently by the 700 Club (it airs Tuesday, clips at the links below).

She supports amending the US Constitution to ban gay marriage.
I’m not going to be out there judging individuals, sitting in a seat of judgment telling what they can and can’t do, should and should not do, but I certainly can express my own opinion here and take actions that I believe would be best for traditional marriage and that’s casting my votes and speaking up for traditional marriage that, that instrument that it’s the foundation of our society is that strong family and that’s based on that traditional definition of marriage, so I do support that.
How is banning them from marrying not telling people what they can and can’t do?

She says that she would certainly condemn those people shouting violent sentiments towards Barack Obama at her rallies if she ever heard them, but she’s never heard anyone do that. She has heard Obama tell people to “get in their face, argue with them,” which is “kind of inciting and a bit negative” and presumably is the exact moral equivalent of cries of “terrorist” and “kill him,” just as arguing with someone is exactly the same thing as assassinating them.

What does she pray for? She prays “that my kids will not be adversely affected by some of the political shots of course that, that we’ve been taking the last couple of months.”

Obama, she says, is trying to “pretty up” his extreme views on abortion.

She says she avoids interviews with the mainstream media because “I mean you set yourself up just to continually be mocked” by the “filter.” Sarah, do you mean there are people so low that they would mock you? The effrontery! Names, I want names.

And that, she says, was why she couldn’t respond to Katie Couric’s question about what newspapers she reads: “it was, I guess my being such an outsider from the Washington elite and the media elite is the questions she kept asking me were, I kept thinking why aren’t you asking me things that really, really matter right now”.

So the 700 Club guy asked about something that really, really matters right now, her baptism in middle school in... wait for it... Little Beaver Lake. “Well, it was a neat thing to be able to do.”

Finest moment

Juan Cole (and others) have dubbed Colin Powell’s endorsement of Obama Powell’s “finest moment.” Er, doesn’t that imply that he has had other fine moments?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pie fight

McCain at a campaign rally today: “Senator Obama is more interested in controlling who gets your piece of the pie than he is growing the pie.” Mmm, pie.

At another rally he said he was campaigning “on behalf of Joe the Plumber and Rose the Teacher and Phil the Bricklayer and Wendy the Waitress” and other gender-based occupational stereotypes.

A lot of strange things going on in this campaign

This morning John McCain was interviewed on Fox by Chris Wallace.

WHAT JOHN SENSES: “I’ve been in too many campaigns, my friend, not to — not to sense that things are headed our way.”

Much of the interview seemed to be a preview of his excuses for losing the election, with many dark insinuations about scandalous money-raising practices by Obama. “$200 million that — that we don’t know where the money came from — a lot of strange things going on in this campaign.” Let me help: it comes from contributions under $200, too small to trigger the legal requirement for reporting. Perhaps if you’re a Republican, following campaign laws seems like a “strange thing.” He brought up Watergate a lot: the flood of contributions to Obama are, he said, “completely breaking whatever idea we had after Watergate to keep the costs and spending on campaigns under control — first time, first time since the Watergate scandal.” Yes, this is just exactly like Watergate, except for the burglary and breaking the law part.

Just like Watergate, it will create a scandal: “And I can tell you this, that has unleashed now in presidential campaigns a new flood of spending that will then cause a scandal, and then we will fix it again.” Er, what exactly is this scandal of which you speak, John? “The dam is broken. We’re now going to see huge amounts of money coming into political campaigns, and we know history tells us that always leads to scandal.” So a hypothetical future scandal.

LEAST BELIEVABLE LIE YET: “But what I worry about is future elections, too, not only mine.”

He said his robocalls linking Obama and terrorism are “legitimate and truthful.”

MEET JOE THE PLUMBER: “And Joe the Plumber — of course, Joe the Plumber is the average citizen, and Joe the Plumber is now speaking for me and small business people all over America.”

GET TO WORK ON THAT, JOE THE PLUMBER: “redistribution of the wealth? I don’t believe in it. I believe in wealth creation by Joe the Plumber.”

The bailout of the financial sector, however, just isn’t the same thing as the socialism or redistribution of wealth McCain is decrying: “That is reacting to a crisis that’s due to greed and excess in Washington.” So that’s okay, then.

WHAT SARAH PALIN IS: “She is a direct counterpoint to the liberal feminist agenda for America.” Sadly, he did not elaborate.

SARAH PALIN IS A FLOOR WAX AND A DESSERT TOPPING! “She’s a reformer. She’s a conservative.”

MR. HAPPY IS AROUSED: “And when I see the enthusiasm and I see the passion that she has aroused, I am so happy.”

WHAT AMERICANS ARE BEGINNING TO LEARN ABOUT SARAH PALIN: “And the fact is Americans are also beginning to learn that she ran a state.”

Saturday, October 18, 2008

First they came for the talk radio hosts, and I did nothing, because I was not a talk radio host...

An email from Orrin Hatch for the National Republican Senatorial Committee warns darkly of the Democratic agenda “to force its radical agenda on American families” should they win 60 seats in the Senate:
  • Crippling new taxes
  • Staggering new government spending
  • Outrageous paybacks to labor bosses
  • Liberal censorship of talk radio
(Update: evidently this is a new campaign line. Newt Gingrich on a Sunday talk show said that Obama will try to eliminate freedom of speech for Hannity and Limbaugh.)

Friday, October 17, 2008

The pro-America areas of this great nation

A sign of the opacity of Barack Obama: I have no real idea what his feelings are about McCain. Contempt? Pity? And is it based on Obama’s reactions to his views, his campaigning style, his intellect, his character? Does he see him as a doddering relic, a tragic hero who has given in to overweening ambition, a reactionary, a threat to the future of the country? You always knew exactly what Gore thought of Bush and what Bush thought of Gore and Kerry, and we’ve got a pretty good idea what McCain really thinks of Obama, which of his attacks he genuinely believes in and which he knows are campaign b.s. Obama, not so much.

I’m making no particular point there, just observing. Obama’s reserve may well prove an asset in actually running the country.

And then there’s Sarah Palin, whose contempt is always right out there for all to see. And just when you think your opinion of her can’t go lower, she talks about the “pro-America areas of this great nation.” I wonder how large a percentage of this great nation, in land and population, constitute the pro-America areas. Just curious.

In an interview with Al Arabiya, Condi Rice points to the many changes in the Middle East which she attributes to the Bush admin. For example, women can vote in Kuwait now, and “You have a situation in which throughout the Middle East, people talk about popular rule”. Oh, sure, these conversations take place in prison cells...

On Iran’s interventions in the US-Iraqi negotiations over a status-of-forces agreement, she said, proving once again that the irony fairy completely passed her cradle by, that Iran “is an external power and it should act as an external power,” and she engaged in some good old fashioned race-baiting, trying to stir up Arab-Persian animosities: “Iraq is, first and foremost, an Arab state. It is a founding member of the Arab League. It is a state that has always had a voice within the Arab world, and that is a voice that is regaining within the Arab world”.

Joe the Florists?

From an email from the McCain campaign: “He’ll fight for the ‘Joe the Plumbers,’ ‘Joe the Florists’ and ‘Joe the Carpenters’ of America to reduce taxes and allow more men and women to realize the American Dream.”

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I don’t think the moose loves it

Sarah Palin, campaigning in New Hampshire (is NH in play?), on why Alaskans are exactly like New Hampshironians: “We all love good moose hunting.”

A John Travolta movie due to start filming in Paris was called off after ten of the production’s stunt vehicles were torched overnight. The movie’s title: From Paris with Love.

In the 1960 presidential debates, famously, people who listened on the radio thought Nixon won while people who watched on tv thought Kennedy won. In 2008, though, we have many more options, and I’m curious about the effect of that balkanization on perceptions. I was doing the blog thing, so I was watching, writing and reading the online CNN transcript simultaneously, which meant I was listening more than watching and managed to miss most of the visuals, such as Sarah Palin’s winks during the veep debate and McCain’s air quotes last night around “health” of the mother, which make his callous, dismissive words so, so much more offensive – let’s look at that again now (20 seconds):

Wow, what a dick.

I watched the first debate on CNN but was so distracted by the constant movement of the audience reaction squiggles on the sides of the screen that I switched to uncluttered PBS for the later ones. I’m thinking now that that was a mistake, because PBS also mostly eschewed the split screen, which means I missed McCain fuming, smirking, twitching and rolling his eyes while Obama was speaking, and failed to get a full sense of just how irritable and petulant, undisciplined and unpresidential, he was being, like radio listeners in 1960 didn’t see Nixon’s flop-sweat and shiftiness. Of course there’s YouTube now, and embedded video clips like the one I just used, but it’s not quite the same as the cumulative effect over the course of 90 minutes.

But how many other versions of the 2008 debates were there? What did CBS or NBC, Fox, the BBC and MSNBC do? What other forms of “helpful” screen clutter were there, and how did they shape how viewers perceived Obama and McCain? What did Obama do while McCain was speaking – and do you think he practiced it? Share your viewing/listening experiences and thoughts in comments.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The last presidential debate: We’re talking about Joe the Plumber


Bob Schieffer opened with a plea to the candidates: “By now, we’ve heard all the talking points, so let’s try to tell the people tonight some things that they haven’t heard.” McCain: “My left ball is bigger than my right ball.” Obama: “My left ball is bigger than McCain’s right ball.”

McCain: “It’s good to see you again, Senator Obama.” Obama: “Dude, you didn’t see me last time. Eye contact, dude!”

Okay, I’ll stop making stuff up now. Maybe.

McCain: “Americans are hurting right now, and they’re angry.” Dude, you are so totally projecting.

Okay, I’ll stop saying dude now. Maybe.

McCain falsely blames Fannie and Freddie for the housing crisis. Wants the bailout to put homeowners first.

Obama: We haven’t seen a rescue package for the middle class.

McCain: “a couple days ago Senator Obama was out in Ohio and he had an encounter with a guy who’s a plumber.” Cue porn music. Evidently Obama wants to raise the taxes of “Joe the plumber,” but “I want Joe the Plumber to spread that wealth around.” “The whole premise behind Sen. Obama’s plans are class warfare”. And that’s not warfare you can believe in, you know, the good kind of warfare McCain likes.

Seriously, how many times can both of them say “Joe the Plumber”?

McCain deployed a statistic: 50% of small business income taxes are paid by small businesses. Er, right.

McCain: “We need to encourage business, create jobs, not spread the wealth around.” Heaven forbid we spread the wealth around.

McCain on the budget: “I would have, first of all, across-the-board spending freeze, OK? Some people say that’s a hatchet. That’s a hatchet, and then I would get out a scalpel, OK?” An angry old man with sharp objects? Um, OK.

Another thing McCain knows how to do: “I know how to save billions of dollars in defense spending. I know how to eliminate programs.” Oh, John, is there anything you don’t know how to do?

Yay, the $3 million planetarium projector makes an appearance! How we missed you, $3 million planetarium projector.

Why does Obama never defend the $3 million planetarium projector?

McCain informs Obama, “I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago.”

After McCain trots out the “Obama wanted to increase taxes on people with incomes of $42,000” line, Obama says even Fox News doesn’t believe that shit.

McCain: “But it’s very clear that I have disagreed with the Bush administration. I have disagreed with leaders of my own party. I’ve got the scars to prove it.” Somebody should remind him he got the scars from the North Vietnamese, not the Republicans, before there’s an embarrassing incident on the Senate floor.

Schieffer: are you two willing to say to each other’s faces what your campaigns have been saying about each other?

McCain: well, if he had agreed to the town hall meetings... And John Lewis hurt my feelings by comparing me to George Wallace, and Obama didn’t repudiate those remarks, even though, “Every time there’s been an out-of-bounds remark made by a Republican, no matter where they are, I have repudiated them.” He’s done what now?

And the Obama campaign has had the highest spending than any time since... gratuitous reference coming up in 3..2..1... Watergate.

Joe the Plumber again. How we’ve missed you, Joe the Plumber.

McCain says that people have shouted nasty things at Obama rallies too and there are “some t-shirts that are very unacceptable.”

Obama is talking about the shouts of terrorist etc at McCain-Palin rallies, but he is completely incapable of even faking outrage, like McCain just did. Interestingly, he mentions Palin’s remark that he “palled around with terrorists,” which means he brought up William Ayers before McCain did. McCain then says that he doesn’t care about an old washed-up terrorist but darkly demands that he reveal “the full extent of that relationship.” Oo, sinister.

And ACORN is “now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.” Maybe ripping a hole in the space-time continuum, creating a vortex that will consume us all.

McCain on Palin: a “bresh of freth air.” She “understands special-needs families... better than almost any American that I know.” Trig is, what, six months old?

Obama refuses to say if Palin is qualified to be president. Notes that McCain’s across-the-board spending cut would screw special-needs families.

McCain: “why do we always have to spend more?”

McCain on nuclear power: “Sen. Obama will tell you, in the -- as the extreme environmentalists do, it has to be safe.” Oh, those extreme environmentalists, always wanting things to be safe. Fortunately, says McCain, “We can store and reprocess spent nuclear fuel, Sen. Obama, no problem.” For 40,000 years. No problem.

McCain: free trade with Colombia is a “no-brainer,” but you’ve never traveled south of the border, so you wouldn’t know that.

Insurance. McCain: Joe the Plumber doesn’t want to pay a fine for not giving his employees health insurance. Obama tells Joe the Plumber he won’t pay a fine. Joe the Plumber must be very relieved.

Could you nominate any judge who disagreed with you on abortion? McCain: “I would consider anyone in their qualifications. I do not believe that someone who has supported Roe v. Wade that would be part of those qualifications. But I certainly would not impose any litmus test.” Er, right.

Obama brings up the attempt in Congress to overturn the Ledbetter ruling on equal pay. McCain: “It was a trial lawyer’s dream.”

Obama, defending his vote in Illinois: “With respect to partial-birth abortion, I am completely supportive of a ban on late-term abortions, partial-birth or otherwise, as long as there’s an exception for the mother’s health and life, and this did not contain that exception.” Dammit, he just legitimized the medically bogus concept of “partial-birth” abortions. “[N]obody’s pro-abortion. It’s always a tragic situation,” Obama says. I beg to differ.

McCain poo-poos the idea of exceptions for the health of the mother: “You know, that’s been stretched by the pro-abortion movement in America to mean almost anything. That’s the extreme pro-abortion position, quote, ‘health.’” Oh, those extremists.

On education, McCain says vouchers vouchers vouchers. Also, we should reward good teachers. Oh, and we should let people who have served in the military “go right to teaching and not have to take these examinations which -- or have the certification that some are required in some states.”

Obama thinks America’s youth aren’t an interest group, they’re our... wait for it... future.

McCain, in an unwonted display of self-control, managed to say “My friends” only once, although he did address one remark, “if you’re out there, my friend,” to... Joe the Plumber.

This, by the way, is Joe the Plumber.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A lack of confidence that must be conquered

Today Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson announced his latest plan for spending that blank check Congress gave him: buying equity in banks, including more or less healthy ones, in the hope that they’ll use the money for the greater good. What do we get for the $250 billion he’s planning to spend in this endeavour? Confidence! “Today, there is a lack of confidence in our financial system, a lack of confidence that must be conquered because it poses an enormous threat to our economy.” So it’s time for another episode of Everything You Need To Know About How Confident You Should Be In The Economy You Can Tell By the Expression on Henry Paulson’s Face.

I FEEL MORE CONFIDENT ALREADY: “Government owning a stake in any private U.S. company is objectionable to most Americans, me included.” Because the past record of Bush appointees running government programs to whose existence they have ideological objections is just so confidence-inspiring.

REALLY, JUST SO MUCH MORE CONFIDENT: “We are acting with unprecedented speed taking unprecedented measures that we never thought would be necessary.” Because having the people who never saw the problem coming beforehand acting with “unprecedented speed” in responding to it is just so confidence-inspiring.

Meanwhile, George Bush picked out an appropriate cup to fill with tequila to “build mah confidence until ah puke.”

Monday, October 13, 2008

A hundred percent sure and positive

Today, Bush has been hosting Silvio Berlusconi. Normally, as you know, I would be focusing on stupid things Bush said, but the cruise ship crooner said, “And I’m a hundred percent sure and positive that history will tell -- will say that George W. Bush has been a great, very great President of the United States of America.” And nothing even George Bush might say could be as stupid as that.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Unfortunate Metaphor of the Day

McCain told campaign volunteers that he will “whip his you-know-what in this debate”. Yes, senator, we know what. We surely do.

I can marry a princess!

Sarah Palin says the Blanchflower Report cleared her of “any hint of any kind of unethical activity there” and insisted that Todd Palin was merely doing “what the state’s Department of Law Web site tells anyone to do if they have a concern about a state trooper.” So that’s okay then.

Here’s one of the Prop. 8 (anti-gay marriage) ads running in California.

So don’t give upstart commoners like this little oik ideas above their station.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

You got to read the report

The Palin position, at least as enunciated by her lawyer, is the Bushian tactic of defining the concept of “ethics” downwards, just as the Bushies did with “torture”: she did not violate ethics laws because her goal was not personal financial gain. Alaska law defines illegal unethical behaviour as “any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action.” Revenge, evidently, is ethical, unless you consider destroying your enemies utterly to be a personal interest (like stamp-collecting).

Sarah herself chose not to directly contradict the report, but to misrepresent it, saying, “If you read the report, you will see that there was nothing unlawful or unethical about replacing a cabinet member. You got to read the report.” She isn’t saying that the report says she did nothing unlawful or unethical, although she is hoping that is the implication you take away from her words (she is also hoping that even though you “got” to read the report, you won’t). Rather, she is saying that “you will see” that she did nothing unlawful or unethical if you read a report that concludes the opposite.

Hockey puck

Friday, October 10, 2008

Off the shores of our great, you know, nation (updated)

After addressing the nation this morning, calming the markets and dispelling our economic fears through the power of oratory alone, George Bush was able to wing his way down to Coral Gables and hang out with Cuban-Americans at Havana Harry’s.

BOY THOSE “ELITES” ARE JUST A PROBLEM EVERYWHERE, AREN’T THEY? “our message is to the Cuban people, you’re being repressed by a handful of elites that are holding back your great potential.”

WHAT’S SO SAD: “It’s so sad that right off the shores of our great, you know, nation that believes in human rights and human dignity exists this dungeon.” I wonder if even the most rabidly anti-Castro Cuban exile can hear that sentence without thinking, like all of you did, of Guantanamo?

(Update: He also said that after Hurricane Ike, “my government... offered aid from the United States to the Cuban people. But that aid was rejected by the Castros, which should tell the people of Cuba and the people around the world that the Castro people are only interested in themselves and their power, and not to the benefit and welfare of the Cuban people.” So what did your refusal of the Cuban offer of medical aid after Katrina tell us?

All three Republican Cuban-American congresscritters notably stayed away from the event.)

Meanwhile, at a rally in La Crosse, Wisconsin, John McCain demonstrated his Yosemite Sam impression.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Some in the mainstream media are saying we’re taking the gloves off unfairly

Sarah Palin went on Laura Ingraham today.

She was curiously non-committal about what she’d do as vice president to get abortion banned: “I would just hope that my life can reflect what it is that we will do to usher in that culture of life in our government.”

She argued that Obama’s education policies are tarnished by his sitting with Ayers on that board: “It says that, I think Barack Obama’s position on that, thanks to his association with Ayers and the radicalism there with an education-- an education system that Bill Ayers, anyway, supports, I think shows you too that Barack Obama is so far out of mainstream America.” The logic is impeccable.

WHY THAT DOG WON’T HUNT (BECAUSE IT’S GONE): “Doggone it, he fails to tell the American people with candor and with truthfulness, what his associations are, and we have to know.”

AT LONG LAST, ACORN, WITH YOUR VOTER REGISTRATION DRIVES, AT LONG LAST, HAVE YOU NO SHAME? “It’s- it’s fraud that the connection there to ACORN and fraud has...I mean, that-- that too, it’s another thing that’s absolutely atrocious and you think, ‘Geez, doesn’t anybody have a conscience anymore?’” Funny, I was just wondering the same thing (although I may have used a different word than geez).

TAKING THE GLOVES OFF UNFAIRLY: “some in the mainstream media are saying well, we’re taking the gloves off unfairly.”

Unfortunate Metaphor of the Day

Manhattan Judge Larry Stephen, convicting Al Sharpton and seven others of disorderly conduct in protests at the acquittal of the cops who shot Sean Bell on his wedding day, told
them “My view is, if you decide to take a bullet for the team, you should not complain about the consequences that flow from that act.”

In this case, perhaps the phrase he was groping for was “take 50 bullets for the team.

Have fun

WaPo headline: “Military Justifies Attack That Killed at Least 33 Afghan Civilians.” I think we should all be proud to live in a country with a military that can do the impossible. Because “justifying” the killing of 33+ civilians is fucking impossible. The military inquiry determined that the air strikes that killed 33 civilians that they’re admitting to, including 12 children, were in self-defense and... wait for it... proportional. Proportional to what?

SHE’S THE REMINDERER: (AP): “‘We all need to remind Sen. Obama that Sen. McCain served our nation in uniform for 22 years,’ Palin said during a rally in the Cleveland suburb of Strongsville.”

McCain and Palin were lovingly interviewed by Sean Hannity yesterday.

What advice did they give each other before their respective debates? “Have fun.”

PALIN: And it was helpful though that you called me right beforehand, and you said those two words — you said —

MCCAIN: Have fun.

PALIN: — have fun.
McCain praised Palin: “Second, obviously, she has been a great reformer. I still don’t think a lot of Americans appreciate what it’s like for a Republican to take on an incumbent sitting governor of your own party. It almost never happens. They wait until they retire or whatever it is — so it’s clear that she’s got a great record of reform.” So it’s clear that she has a great record of reform because she... ran against a governor from her own party. See, to McCain, being a “maverick” is exactly the same as effecting reform. And he accuses Obama of being style over substance.

So what role would Palin play in a McCain administration? According to McCain, and I’m not making this up, it would be to “find what’s causing autism, find a cure for it.”

Sarah Palin recited a devastating attack on Obama which somebody got paid good money to write for he: “So, I think last night, coming away from the debate, too, one of the things that I got out of it was, I think Barack Obama was drilling for votes. I don’t think that he’s too keen on drilling for those source of energy that we need.” Get it, get it? Because he’s drilling for votes, not drill- (baby drill) -ing for oil. It’s funny because it’s true.

McCain says that Palin is “so persuasive” that if she ever got him up to Alaska, she might just convince him to drill in ANWAR. Hannity asked if they’d go moose hunting. McCain said, “moose hunting is fine.”

McCain insisted that Obama’s plan to reduce taxes for 95% of Americans must be a lie: “Well, first of all, it’s not truthful in the respect that 50 percent or 40 percent of the American people — of taxpayers — American citizens don’t pay taxes, federal income taxes.” This is a weird lie that anti-tax conservatives tell themselves to justify all their tax cuts going to the rich – you just can’t cut taxes for the poor, why they don’t even pay them. Not only does it ignore payroll taxes, but isn’t even true for income taxes.

IF SARAH EXCITES YOUR “BASE,” KEEP IT TO YOURSELF, WILL YA, FELLA? McCain: “But I saw this as a real breath of fresh air that would sweep across America, give people inspiration, which Sarah Palin has, which would excite our base.”

SERIOUSLY, DUDE, NO ONE WANTS TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR KINKY S&M ROLE-PLAY: McCain: “We are glad to be in the underdog role here. It excites and motivates our supporters. It gives independents another look at us and I’m very happy with where we are, Sean. I couldn’t be happier.”

Ana Marie Cox interviewed McCain, eliciting from him a statement I hadn’t expected to hear on the campaign trail: “A lot of those zombie movies are political, you know.”

Speaking of political zombies:

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Presidential debate: There were others who took a hike

There should be more transparency in the process by which debate rules are decided. For tonight’s “town-hall” debate, who was it who insisted on no follow-ups, going so far as to require that the questioners’ mikes be cut off immediately after they ask their question, and that cameras aren’t allowed to show their faces while the candidates respond to their question? Indeed, in previous debates, did the campaigns dictate where the cameras could and could not point?

Well, let’s see how that works.


McCain: “Let’s not raise taxes on anybody today.”

More items on the ever-growing list of things McCain “knows how to do”: “give some trust and confidence back to America,” “get America working again”.

Who would McCain appoint treasury secretary? Not you, Tom. Ha ha. No, seriously, “the first criteria, Tom, would have to be somebody who immediately Americans identify with”. Oh good, another hockey mom.

Some black dude named Oliver asks how the bailout will help the people he knows. McCain corrects him: it’s not a bailout, it’s a rescue. And for a little extra condescension (McCain loves telling black people that they don’t understand things), he tells Oliver that he probably never heard of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae before this crisis. He adds that Freddie and Fannie (which he seems to think were responsible for the Great Crash of Ought Eight) were making risky loans “with the encouragement of Sen. Obama and his cronies and his friends in Washington... There were some of us -- there were some of us that stood up against it. There were others who took a hike.”

Obama actually tries to explain to Oliver how the bailout would affect him, answering his actual, you know, question. Oops, spoke too soon; he quickly changed to returning McCain’s fire in kind, mentioning Rick Davis’s lobbying for Fannie Mae. Then said “but, look, you’re not interested in hearing politicians pointing fingers.” Technically, pointing fingers doesn’t make a lot of sound.

McCain’s new favorite example of pork barrel earmarks, now that we’re all tired of the bear DNA, is an overhead projector for the Chicago planetarium. Who doesn’t like planetariums?

McCain keeps talking about how he reaches across the aisle to work with Joe Lieberman. Dude, if you want to touch Joe Lieberman, you just have to reach under your desk.

Asked what sacrifice they’d call for from the American people, McCain said many good projects – not crap like that overhead projector for groovy astronomy shows for stoned teenagers – would have to be scrapped. Medicare, Medicaid, that sort of thing. Okay, he didn’t specify Medicare and Medicaid, but that’s what he means. Obama suggested we need to save energy in our homes. Oh, and the Peace Corps, “so that military families and our troops are not the only ones bearing the burden of renewing America.” How exactly are our troops renewing America?

McC: Obama wants to raise taxes – just like Herbert Hoover!

Brokaw asks an alarmist question about the “ticking timebomb” of Social Security. McCain says “Social Security is not that tough”: all we have to do is just “sit down together across the table.” And it’s just “a little tougher” to fix Medicare: “have a commission, have the smartest people in America come together.” “And let’s have the American people say, ‘Fix it for us.’” See, and you thought this shit was complicated.

He’s calling for “a whole bunch of” nuclear plants, for the third time this debate. But he accuses Obama of “say[ing] that it has to be safe or disposable or something like that.”

Obama twits McC for voting against alternative energy 23 times, so McC responds about one, which was loaded down with pork, and who voted for it? “That one,” pointing at Obama. That one?

McCain insists his $5,000 tax credit will more than make up for taxing health benefits except for those with “these gold-plated Cadillac kinds of policies, you know, like hair transplants.” Somewhere, Joe Biden sheds a tear.

Is health insurance a right, a responsibility or a privilege? McCain: a responsibility, “in this respect, in that we should have available and affordable health care to every American citizen, to every family member.” How is that a responsibility? Obama: a right, except for the people my plan doesn’t cover.

Both agree that America is a force of good in the world. So at least that’s settled.

Asked about intervening in humanitarian crises where US national security is not at stake, Obama asks, “If we could have intervened effectively in the Holocaust, who among us would say that we had a moral obligation not to go in?” Pat Buchanan? Also, pretty much everyone in power in the 1930s and ‘40s.

Asked about invading Pakistan to get bin Laden, Obama says we have to change our policy to Pakistan, we can’t coddle a dictator. This is his first un-adept response, since I assume he knows that Musharraf is out of power. He adds that “We will kill bin Laden, we will crush Al Qaeda.” McCain accuses him of failing to carry a big stick like Teddy Roosevelt. “Senator Obama likes to talk loudly.” He does?

Obama says that McCain suggests that Obama is “green behind the ears,” which is an interesting image, but that it was McCain talked of annihilating North Korea, and sang of bombing Iran. McCain says that was a joke. A hilarious, hilarious joke.

Obama drops the name Gen. McKiernan, just to prove he knows the name, unlike whatshername.

Is Russia an evil empire? (Brokaw amusingly insisted this question only required a yes or no answer). Obama: they do some evil things. McCain: maybe.

Q: if Iran attacked Israel, would we invade it before or after going to the UN Security Council? McCain: bomb, bomb, bomb... Obama ignored the Israel part, and talked about the unacceptability of Iran having nuclear weapons.

Last question: “What don’t you know and how will you learn it?” Obama: ask Michelle, she’ll tell you what I don’t know. McCain: “what I don’t know is what the unexpected will be.”

Oh, I didn’t mention, Obama came with a prepared response to McCain’s predictable “you don’t understand” theme, a long thing about yes, you’re right, I can’t understand why you’re such a dick. Something like that, I’m tired.

Oh, and evidently we’re not rifle shots here, we’re Americans.

Also, my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends.

And Obama should really see a doctor about that green behind the ears thing.

And that concludes the second McCain-That One debate.