Monthly Archives: October 2008

More On Palin’s Constitutional Scholarship

Hopefully you've heard by now Palin's blunder.  It boils down to this:

Media Criticism of My Criticism of Obama = First Amendment Violation

Brian Beutler says that Palin has a "third grader's understanding of Constitutional rights" and asks:  

If the conservative media convinces enough voters that Barack Obama is a Muslim, does that violate his right to freedom of religion?

Very true.

By the same token, the First Amendment also protects the "freedom of association".  Doesn't Palin, under her own reasoning, threaten Obama's First Amendment rights, when she criticizes his "associations"?

Jonathan Schwarz has the audio of Palin, issuing her constitutional warning, here.  It's actually more painful to hear it than read it, because you can hear her thinking about the analysis she's making as it leaves her mouth, and she clearly believes she's actually making an important and profound point about First Amendment rights.


And here's Palin's Constitution from a commentor at Washington Monthly:

Amendment 1: Congress (nor the states, the media, George Soros, or liberal bloggers) shall make any law (or defamation suit, elitist editorial, blog post, or Keith Olbermann special comment) abridging (or criticizing or even fact-checking) the freedom of Republican speech, or the right of racists and other violent, ignorant mobs to assemble. Democrats, well, that's another matter.

Sarah's whining about the media threatening her First Amendment rights is very "Help! Help! I'm being repressed", isn't it?

Winston-Salem Journal Endorses…. McCain

All the other major NC papers — from Charlotte to Raleigh to Asheville to Greensboro to Fayetteville, and more — have already made their endorsements.  All of them went for Obama.

Yesterday, the Winston-Salem Journal finally made its endorsement (after saying it was going to sit this election out).  It went for McCain.

It's one of the saddest mealy-mouthed endorsements I've ever read.  The article praises Obama effusively.  One of my collegaues told me that he stopped reading the piece a few paragraphs in, having assumed that he was reading an Obama endorsement.

The article goes on to lament McCain's campaign. 

But it eventually endorses McCain, because it believes (based on…..?) that after the election, the "real John McCain" will emerge and do good for the country and not be like Bush at all and be able to work with Democrats yada yada yada.

Shorter Winston-Salem Journal endorsement: "We endorse McCain because he's a Republican and we don't endorse Democrats."

Some selected readers' comments (most of which hate the endorsement).  Many of them note that WSJ, being owned by a company in Richmond, doesn't reflect the views of the immediate community.  There may be some truth to that — Winston-Salem voted against Bush in 2000 and 2004, but the paper endorsed Bush both times.

What angers many of these readers is not the McCain endorsement per se, but the flawed rationale behind it.

My husband and I just canceled our subscription to the Winston-Salem Journal due to the paper's endorsement of John McCain for President. Your endorsement runs counter to your own logic. You proclaim that McCain's campaign has not been as strong as Obama's but then say that the "real McCain" will re-emerge once he is elected president. Don't you think we saw the real McCain in the last year? The bumbling, erratic politician who will go against his own principles to say or do anything to be elected? The nomination of Sarah Palin didn't convince you that his decisions were not to be trusted? Any newspaper that sees the truth, but then twists it to present a flawed argument to its readers is not a newspaper I want to read every day.


How sad, and how very disappointing that the Journal editorial page–which at times in the past has been a clear voice for reasoned progress–now has revealed itself to be completely ideological and unfettered by reality in issuing this very wrong-headed endorsement.


I am truly proud to live in the city of Winston Salem, NC. It is really wonderful to be a part of such a diverse and inclusive city. I am equally disappointed in this endorsement by the WSJ. Obviously, you did not consider the population which you represent when you endorse such a pathetic campaign, which is a reflection of the person at the top of the ticket. Today will be the last day that I patronize the WSJ.


After being assured that the Winston Salem Journal would not endorse either presidential candidate imagine my surprise to read in this morning's paper that you gave a lukewarm endorsement to Senator McCain. The rationale was confusing…. you believe that the McCain we are seeing in the campaign is not the real McCain but if he becomes president he will morph back into the smiling, laughing nice guy he has always been? Have I got it right?…

BTW, I may cancel my subscription. The Journal is owned by an out of state person and managed in Richmond. I want to support those journalists and employees who need their jobs and the businesses that advertise in the paper, but I am so dismayed by this endorsement and the flimsy rationale for making it that I don't know if I can continue to support you.


The Journal is asking readers to take them seriously when the entire endorsement is based not upon facts, but upon wishful thinking.

Jesus F*&*!&@ing Christ!! For The Love Of God, Will Someone Please Hand Sarah Palin A Copy Of The United States Constitution?!? (Part XXIV))

2008251945 Here's her latest bizarre quote, from today:

Palin told WMAL-AM that her criticism of Obama's associations, like those with 1960s radical Bill Ayers and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, should not be considered negative attacks.  Rather, for reporters or columnists to suggest that it is going negative may constitute an attack that threatens a candidate's free speech rights under the Constitution, Palin said.

"If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations," Palin told host Chris Plante, "then I don't know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media."

Dear Sarah:

All I'm going to say about your continuing screed about "Obama's associations" is this: you're married to someone who was a member of a political party that wanted to secede from America

So, you know, shut up, Sarah.

But as for the Constitution (the document that you wrongly think would give you the power, as Vice President, to be "in charge" of the Senate) — well, lets go to the text again….

No, no!  Don't go anywhere Sarah.  It only takes about ten seconds to read.  I promise.

The First Amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Now Sarah — I know there are a lot of multi-syllabic words, and no accompanying pictures, but really — a Vice Presidential nominee should be able to parse the First Amendment and discern its meaning. 

Just try.  Try real hard.


*sigh*  Okay, I'll help.

You see, the First Amendment protects your (and my) freedom of speech from acts of Congress.  Meaning that Congress cannot pass laws that abridge your freedom of speech.  That's what the words "Congress shall make no law…." mean!

The First Amendment doesn't limit the "press" at all.  It does not say, for example, that the press can't beat up on you for making stupid comments.  And it certainly doesn't protect your (or my) "ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media".

In fact, you've got it backwards, hon.  The "freedom of press" clause specifically recognizes and protects the right of the press to call you an idiot for the embarrassing crap that comes from your mouth.  Or my mouth.

Sarah, can you name a country – past or present — that attempted to stifle the press from being critical of those in power?


Ok.  Never mind.  I was going to say Communist Russia.  You see, the First Amendment is what keeps us from being like Communist Russia.  But you apparently believe that the First Amendment not only does, but ought to, stifle a free press.

Sarah, my love — THE CONSTITUTION is the document that, when you get sworn in as Vice President, you take an OATH — on the BIBLE — to uphold.  Don't you think you might want to — oh, I don't know — learn what the thing SAYS?????

UPDATE…  Greenwald echoes me:

According to Palin, what the Founders intended with the First Amendment was that political candidates for the most powerful offices in the country and Governors of states would be free to say whatever they want without being criticized in the newspapers.  In the Palin worldview, the First Amendment was meant to ensure that powerful political officials such as herself would not be "attacked" in the papers.  Is it even possible to imagine more breathaking ignorance from someone holding high office and running for even higher office?


Yeah, I'm a lawyer, who writes and occasionally specializes in constitutional law.  And no, she's not.  (She just has a journalism degree — a degree for a profession which is engaged in finding out the truth).

So yeah, I get worked up over this.

But it should be a concern to everybody.  Because this woman purports to be a "real American" who "loves America" and who supports wars which send young Americans overseas, ostensibly to protect our Constitution.

Shouldn't a person who claims to have those "pro-American" characteristics and values have at least a rudimentary understanding of the very document upon which America is based?  I'm not talking about a presidential candidate; I mean any person.  Shouldn't a self-professed "real American" have an inkling about the ideals of America?

The Constitution.  What we're talking about here isn't abstract Americana history; what we're talking about is the ideological foundations upon which this country still stands.

How can a person love America, if they can't even articulate correctly what the fundamentals and ideals of America are? 

That's not patriotism; that's faux patriotism.

Immigrants seeking to enter this country have a better understanding of these things than Ms. Palin.  As do 6th grade civics students.

And yet, she wants to be elected to a position which is one 76-year-old, cancer-stricken heartbeat away from the presidency.  She could conceivably appoint judges to the Supreme Court who will "strictly interpret the Constitution", even though that's a document with which she clearly lacks any passing acquintance.  She wants to raise her right hand and swear an oath to God to uphold a document that she is absolutely clueless about.

That is simply frightening.

Dole’s Second Attack Ad On Hagan

Dole unconvincingly asserts she is not attacking Hagan's faith, but then she attacks Hagan again for, uh, not being bigoted against atheists.  Or something.

This second ad is only slightly less disgusting than the first.

The ad purports to just be "giving the facts", but this ad, like the other one, actually skews the fact:


On Sept. 15, Hagan attended a fundraiser in Boston hosted by author Wendy Kaminer and her husband, Woody Kaplan.

Both are leaders of the Secular Coalition of America, which advocates for atheists and humanists in public policy. Kaplan also sits on the advisory board of the Godless Americans political action committee, which advocates for nonbelievers.

Kaplan was listed as one of 10 chairs of the Hagan fundraiser, along with Sen. John Kerry, former U.S. ambassador to Austria Swanee Hunt and several other Boston-area businesspeople. Another 25 people were listed as hosts.

The fundraiser was advertised on the Democratic Web site ActBlue in August. After Dole criticized Hagan over the fundraiser in late August, Kaminer and Kaplan's names were removed from the invitation on ActBlue.

The Godless Americans PAC Web site says that it supports candidates who are atheists and supports the separation of religion and government, including a “Godless pledge.”

The news clips are of other members of the Godless Americans PAC on MSNBC's “Scarborough Country” in 2004 and 2005 and Fox News' “The O'Reilly Factor” in 2004. The unidentified woman's voice at the end is Johnson's from a Washington rally in 2002.


It is true that Hagan attended the fundraiser in question, but the ad is misleading in several ways. The fundraiser was not a secret. The people shown in the news clips were not involved with the fundraiser. And some viewers might be led to believe that the unidentified female voice at the end of the ad is Hagan's.

I have one question for Liddy Dole:  Are you accepting campaign donations from atheists?

Unwanted Teen Pregnancies: Blame Evangelicals

Sarah Palin's out-of-wedlock pregnant daughter isn't all that uncommon.  In fact, evangelical teenagers lose their virginity earlier than most other demographics.  Even after their sexual debut, evangelical teen-agers are more sexually active than Mormons, mainline Protestants, and Jews.

And because they don't believe in contraception, they are more inclined to get pregnant (compared to other demographics).

And what about these Christian movements which try to get teens to pledge abstinence until marriage?  Well, they don't achieve those goals (although the pledgers do delay sex eighteen months longer than non-pledgers, and have fewer partners).  And what's more:

according to the sociologists Peter Bearman, of Columbia University, and Hannah Brückner, of Yale, communities with high rates of pledging also have high rates of S.T.D.s.

Another interesting finding regarding "pledging" programs: in some cases, if it becomes too successsful, it falls apart and becomes unsuccessful:

[I]f too many teens pledge, the effort basically collapses. Pledgers apparently gather strength from the sense that they are an embattled minority; once their numbers exceed thirty per cent, and proclaimed chastity becomes the norm, that special identity is lost…. once the self-proclaimed virgin clique hits the thirty-one-per-cent mark, suddenly it’s Sodom and Gomorrah.

And while there are (of course) exceptions to the rule…

…the states with the highest divorce rates were Nevada, Arkansas, Wyoming, Idaho, and West Virginia (all red states in the 2004 election); those with the lowest were Illinois, Massachusetts, Iowa, Minnesota, and New Jersey. The highest teen-pregnancy rates were in Nevada, Arizona, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas (all red); the lowest were in North Dakota, Vermont, New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Maine (blue except for North Dakota). “The ‘blue states’ of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic have lower teen birthrates, higher use of abortion, and lower percentages of teen births within marriage,” …. [P]eople start families earlier in red states—in part because they are more inclined to deal with an unplanned pregnancy by marrying rather than by seeking an abortion.

Read more in Red Sex, Blue Sex at The New Yorker

Election Bites

* North Carolina has extended its early voting hours.

*  Former Sec. of State Larry Eagleburger, who McCain often cites as an endorser of his presidency, is no Palin fan.

*  Elizabeth Dole's attack ads on Kaye Hagan  — and specifically, on Hagan's lack of faith (Hagan is a church elder and Sunday school teacher) — is still being soundly denounced nationwide.  But Hagan isn't taking it lying down.  She's filed a lawsuit.  Normally, you can't sue another candidate because they make false statements in a political ad, but Dole's ad comes awfully close to being defamatory and crossing that legal line.

* The Washington Post exposes the McCain campaign's latest desparate attempt to link Obama to extremism.  The problem is that McCain himself has "ties to" that same "extremist", who, not surprisingly, isn't all that extremist.

* The fact that McCain has to spend campaign money to launch robocalls to get support in his home state of Arizona is a sure sign that he's in deep doo-doo come Nov. 4.

* I can't believe the McCain campaign is still campaigning the "Joe the Plumber" card.  They think that Joe is the iconic typical American.  While that is true, is that going to sway anybody?  "Look, here's someone just like you, and he's voting for McCain."  The problem with this is two-fold: (1)  Every American can find an America "just like them" by looking in the mirror.  Joe's no more special than anybody else.  So why will HIS vote influence OTHERS' votes? (2)  Joe the Plumber is no longer just a typical American.  How many "typical" Americans have a press agent, and are working on a record contract, and are considering running for Senate, ALL by virtue of his 15 minutes of fame?

* McCain to appear on SNL this coming weekend.  Can't hurt at this point, I suppose….

*  Aside from an Obama win, one of the nice things to come from this election includes the collapse of influence on the national discussion from the religious right, the death of neo-conservatism, the death of the theory that "negative advertising works", and the dethroning of of Matt Drudge as an influence on the media (If I were more ambitious, I could do a post on each of these….)

What I Won’t Miss After November 4

  • blogging about the election

  • campaign surrogates (advisors, consultants) speaking on my tv
  • Sarah Palin
  • manufactured outrage as a campaign tactic
  • all of the following phrases:

  1. socialist
  2. communist
  3. share the wealth
  4. redistribute the wealth
  5. you betcha
  6. joe the plumber
  7. "first dude"
  8. william ayers
  9. reverand wright
  10. "in the tank for"
  11. maverick
  12. wall street vs. main street
  13. ACORN
  14. "associations with…." and "ties to…"
  15. "pallin' around with…"
  16. "my friends"
  17. "real american"
  18. hockey mom
  19. change (sorry, but it IS tiresome)
  20. elitist/elitism
  21. kitchen table
  22. "speaking directly to the American people…"
  23. Bradley effect

Best Wingnut Theory Of The Election Cycle

2nia0xy Obama is winning because… you ready?… he's hypnotizing us.


And here is a 67 page, 192 footnote pdf file entitled “An Examination of Obama’s Use of Hidden Hypnosis Techniques in His Speeches.” which proves it.

It's a remarkable piece of work, in its breadth, as the author analyzes Obama words (the pacing and inflection) and gestures from various speeches, all of which have — literally — hypnotized the electorate.

A screenshot from the PDF offers a typical example (click to enlarge):



Let's hope that Obama will be using his magic powers for the cause of good, and not evil.

UPDATE:  Here's a runner-up theory for why McCain is losing.  For those too lazy to follow the link, I'll summarize. 

You see, Obama has a cousin in Kenya named Odinka.  Odinka and his "tribe" of satanists, witches and warlocks "get up daily at 3 a.m. to release curses against McCain and Palin".  These occultists are:

 "weaving lazy 8's around McCain's mind to make him look confused and like an idiot"

Uuuuuhhhmmm, yyyyeah.  Seems to be working, too.

And just to stack the deck, Obama's Kenyan grandmother sacrificed a white and black chicken so that blacks and whites would vote for Obama.

Don't doubt this!  After all, could a website with the word "jesus" in the url be lying???

UPDATE:  Oh, how could I forget?  The wingnut theory that Obama is really the secret love child of Malcolm X.  (Malcolm X was a scary black man, don't ya know… are you picking up on this theme?)

Curt Throws An Ironic Curveball

Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling:

"I guess what I am saying, or asking, is that if you are undecided about who to cast your vote for, don't vote for someone a celebrity tells you to vote for. That's lame, lazy and disrespectful of the rights you've been given," Schilling wrote. "Take the time to listen and see these people. I don't doubt for a second that if you listen to these men and women, if you hear what they are saying, if you look at what kind of people they are, I don't think you can come to any other conclusion than John McCain is far and away the best human being alive to be the next President of the United States of America."

"Don't listen to celebrities, vote for McCain." says the celebrity

Joe The Plumber

AmericaBlog nails it:

Let me get this straight. John McCain finds a guy to be his mascot for Americans who will be hurt under Obama's tax plan, when in fact Joe Mascot does better under Obama's plan than he does under McCain's. And to add insult to injury, Joe doesn't really pay all his taxes anyway – he's delinquent. But somehow that makes him a "hero" to Republicans, and it makes him John McCain's perfect mascot for the campaign – a guy who doesn't pay his taxes and who will benefit more from an Obama presidency. And now, "Joe" has hired a personal manager (read: agent) who hopes to get Joe doing Home Depot commercials and maybe even running for Congress (seriously). What's next, $150,000 outfits and $8,000 make-up jobs? Are there any Republicans left who appreciate the debasement of their party that is happening before their eyes?

RIP Estelle Reiner

Mother of actor-director Rob Reiner, wife of writer-actor Carl Reiner, Estelle was best known for utterance of a single movie line, which appears at the end of this clip:

I Have A Question….

From the L.A. Times, regarding their recent poll:

Among poll respondents who already have voted in Ohio, Obama has a big lead: 57% to 35%. But McCain is slightly ahead in Florida among early-voting respondents, 49% to 45%.

Note the sample population.  These are people who already voted.  In Florida, 6% voted for someone other than McCain or Obama.  In Ohio,  that's 8%.  Now, I know there are third party candidate (Bob Barr, Ralph Nader), but come on…..


The quote:

"I just don't see how [McCain] can win… He has lost his brand as a maverick; he did not live up to his pledge to fight a clean campaign."

That's pretty harsh, since it comes from Rep. Chris Shays, the only Republican in the House, and the co-chairman of the McCain campaign in Connecticut!!

Tonight’s Obama Infomercial

It'll be on CBS, NBC, MSNBC, Fox, and a few others (not, however, ABC)

I guess I'll watch it, seeing as how my show was cancelled. 

But the infomercial, taped last week, sounds kind of dry and dull, the kind of pablum that they play at the national party conventions.  It'll focus on the stories of four American families, with Obama's narration, and him speaking driectly to the camera.

Listen, I'm the one who decries "politics as entertainment", but — man, if you're going to soak up the TV for half an hour?  In this era of short attention spans?  You just gotta have more pizazz than that.  I mean, even a really good Powerpoint presentation sounds more exciting (and probably more informative, too).

But far be it for me to give advice to the Obama campain.  They seem to know what they're doing.

Here, by the way, is McCain's "response ad" to the half-hour Obama infomericial

I can't, for the life of me, think why the McCain campaign figures this ad will help. McCain is harkening back to an old theme he tried back in September — i.e., that Obama is a "celebrity". Then, as now, the meme seems to acknowledge — even embrace — the fact that the majority of Americans have warmed up to Obama.  It reinforces that notion.

Oh sure, the main message of the ad is that Obama needs more experience, but that hasn't worked for McCain in the past either.  (Pssst — didn't work when it was tried on Bush in 2000 or Clinton in 1992 either).  Americans DO want change, and McCain's "experience" in Washington hasn't brought it about.  To the extent that Obama is wet behind the ears, some might even see that as a GOOD thing.

Most importantly, the ad says nothing about McCain will do if he were President.  A bad counterpunch to an Obama informercial which, I assume, will talk specifics about what Obama will do.  I suspect more people would prefer a presidential candidate, even an "inexperienced" one, who has a clear plan for change, than an "experienced" presidential candidate who offers no plan but merely retorts, "But he doesn't have experience".

At least Obama has the experience to know that the American people want solutions, and the experience to lay out his ideas.

Perhaps the most curious part of the ad is the tag line — the final statement saying that Obama is "not ready…. yet".  It's the "yet" that makes me tilt my head aside like a dog hearing a high-pitched whistle.  Who stuck that word in there?  It's almost like McCain is saying, "Yeah, Obama is great — really he is — but vote for him in 2012.  Not now." 

Not exactly the strongest response ad.

Very odd.

POST-INFOMERCIAL THOUGHTS:  A little too pre-packaged and heavy-handed for my taste, and he name-dropping of battleground states (state-dropping?) was none too subtle.  But he hit a lot of right notes, especially the parts where he called on Americans to do things for themselves a little (i.e., energy conservation, "government doesn't have all the answers").  The humility ("I'll make mistakes as President") and the biographical stuff should help, too.  

ONE FURTHER THOUGHT:  In retrospect, after seeing the Obama informercial, the McCain response ad (above, which aired on MSNBC eight minutes later as a commercial, and then on the Olbermann's show at 8:42) looks petty and ugly and just too negative.  And perhaps worst of all, really devoid of McCain's idea.  Ironic, in that after seeing both, one is left with the impression that we don't know where McCain really stands.


Obama Had A Good Line In Raleigh Today

Obama added a new zinger to his standard stump speech. 

It comes at around 1:05, but you need to listen to the set-up.

UPDATE: On the other hand, if Obama is going to go off-script, as he did in Raleigh today, he needs to bone up on his T.V. trivia:

Barack Obama, in Raleigh, N.C., was doing a riff attacking John McCain for supporting the idea of putting some mandatory retirement money into the stock market.

"If Senator McCain is elected, we'll have another president who wants to privatize part of your Social Security. Could you imagine if you had your Social Security invested in the stock market these last two weeks, these last two months? You wouldn't need Social Security. You'd be having a — like, what was it, Sanford and Son. `I'm coming Weezie!"

Memo to Sen. Obama:

Weezie was on The Jeffersons. Louise "Weezie" Jefferson — played by Isabel Sanford.

And it was Redd Foxx's Fred G. Sanford who used to feign heart attacks to guilt trip his son, Lamont:

"Oh, this is the big one! You hear that, Elizabeth?! I'm coming to join you, honey!"

Desparate Dole

Rather than type it myself, I'll just let Steve Benen do it for me:

Recent polling shows Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R) trailing in her re-election fight in North Carolina against Democrat Kay Hagan, so it stands to reason that she's getting a little desperate.

I didn't think she'd get this desperate.

Sen. Elizabeth Dole's latest advertisement suggests her Democratic opponent, Kay Hagan, is a godless heathen.

"A leader of the Godless Americans PAC recently held a secret fundraiser for Kay Hagan," the 30-second spot says, showing footage of the group's members talking about their atheist beliefs on cable news.

"Godless Americans and Kay Hagan. She hid from cameras. Took godless money," the ad concludes. "What did Kay Hagan promise in return?"

At the very end of the ad, a voice sounding like Hagan's says: "There is no God."

Seriously, Dole used a Hagan impersonator to make voters think she's an atheist.

It's hard to know where to start with an ad this deplorable. First, Hagan is actually a Sunday school teacher and an elder in her church. Second, the fundraiser in question was co-hosted by 40 people, one of whom is on the board of an atheist political action committee. Third, there's nothing scandalous about non-believers.

And fourth, what the hell is "godless money"?

Maybe "godless money" is money with the words "In God We Trust" etched out — I don't know.

The sad part is that there exists a significant portion of dumbass hicks in this state (is it elitist for me to say that?) who will see this ad and go "fuck yeah" without so much of a thought about whether it is true, or without reflection on its stupidity, i.e., its reference to "godless money".  However, those people are already Dole voters.  I'm not sure (at least I hope) it's going to motivated very many undecideds.

UPDATE:  Here's the commercial, if you can stomach it.  It's already being called one of the most vile in this campaign season.

UPDATE:  Hagan isn't taking this lying down.

Sharing The Wealth

“We’re set up, unlike other states in the union, where it’s collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs.”

It's true, though.  It's true, because the State of Alaska…

imposes huge levies on the oil companies that lease its oil fields. The proceeds finance the government’s activities and enable it to issue a four-figure annual check to every man, woman, and child in the state. One of the reasons Palin has been a popular governor is that she added an extra twelve hundred dollars to this year’s check, bringing the per-person total to $3,269. 

McCain’s Still Running, Right?

These screen captures of Fox News and (the official site of the Republican National Committee), both taken today, are remarkable in that they seem to be obsessed with Obama.  

Rarely pictured, or even mentioned, is their candidate, John McCain.


Oh, my mistake.  McCain IS running, but he's got a new strategy.  According to Faux News, McCain is running as a Democrat


Well, that might help.  If you can't beat 'em…..

The Weather Factor

Yes, the weather plays a factor in presidential elections.  Bad weather leads to lower voter turnout, which affects the outcome.

But it affects the outcome how?

Conventional wisdom and even one scientific study say that bad weather favors Republicans.  This is because:

Democrats are more likely to live in cities and tend to be less affluent than Republicans, they are more likely to walk to polling places or depend on public transportation. So logically, rain might well discourage more Democrats than Republicans from showing up to vote, or from getting drenched while waiting to vote outside crowded urban polling places.

That may be true, but it's too generic to be helpful, particularly in close races.

Nor is it helpful in this particular election, where early voting is setting records throughout the country.  

For example, if Obama is far ahead in North Carolina early voting, bad weather on election day would probably be a GOOD thing for Obama, since it will help cement that lead. (For what it's worth, it looks like Election Day will be sunny throughout all of North Carolina.)

So pray for the rain or sun gods as needed.

Is The Race Tightening?

Nate Silver says "no".  Not in any electoral college-altering way.  He adds:

In order to conclude the Electoral College has tightened to the point where the outcome on November 4 is at least moderately uncertain, I would want to see the following between now and the election. Call it the 2/2/2 condition: 

John McCain polling within 2 points in 2 or more non-partisan polls (sorry, Strategic Vision) in at least 2 out of the 3 following states: Colorado, Virginia, Pennsylvania. 

If this condition is met, then I think there could be some drama on Election Night (though by no means would McCain be the favorite). If not, then it's very hard to imagine McCain winning.

RELATED:  A new Pew survey shows Obama over McCain nationwide by an incredible 18 points (52% to 38%) among registered voters, and by 15 points (53% to 38%).

Perhaps more importantly, among those who have already voted, Obama leads McCain by 19 points (53% to 34%).

Compared to Pew's last survey, the latest one shows the race widening, not tightening.

ALSO RELATED:  The GOP is buying ad airtime in Montana and West Virginia, a sure sign that the McCain is in trouble.  Montana and West Virginia are among the most conservative states in the country.

The Great Escape

If you are, like me, the owner of a beagle or beagle mix, you'll know there are damned determined and clever dogs.  Seriously, you have to admire their cunning and daring-do.  Case in point…


A bootleg video of Kristen Chenowith performing "Popular" for the last time.  She goes off-script; I won't say any more….

Bonus YouTube video…  "Wickeder"

Senator Stevens (R-AK) Who Immortalized “The Internet Is A Series Of Tubes” Is Convicted

As the Wall Street Journal notes, this has some historical significance.  Sen. Stevens is a sitting senator, one of only five in all of history to be convicted of a crime, and the first since 1981.

Stevens is 84 years old — soon to be 85 on Nov. 15 — and is the longest-serving Republican with almost 40 years in the Senate representing Alaska.

He's been running for re-election this year, despite the trial.  His Democratic challenger has been edging ahead by 1 or 2 points in the polls, but Stevens' conviction will, I'm guessing, lock it up for the Democrat.  This means Democrats are one seat closer to the ideal 60 seats.

Here's Stevens from this past summer, pallin' around with a friend of his, who once served as director of the 527 group Ted Stevens Excellence in Public Service, Inc.

A Very Short Rant On This “Redistribution of Wealth” Nonsense

Obama correctly points out that, over the past 8 years, the wealthy in this country have been getting increasingly wealthy, while the incomes of the middle class and lower class have remained a constant (or gone down).  He seeks to rectify that.

Some have come to call this notion "redistribution of wealth", which becomes equated with "socialism" (and from socialism, many take the added leap to "communism").  Hence, "redistribution of wealth" is a baaaaaaad thing (and Obama is a "socialist").

But aren't ALL Americans in favor of "redistribution of wealth", on at least some level?  Social security is a "redistribution of wealth".  Federal law mandating a minimum wage is a "redistribution of wealth".  Aside from the most ignorant wingnuts, who is prepared to call these programs "socialist"? 

If you think about it (and I suspect few do), any "safety net" federal program which seeks to help those in need — whether it be health, housing, education, or wages — is necessarily funded by those who don't have the need.  That represents a "redistribution of wealth".

Even the progressive tax system we have had in places for decades is, by its very nature, a "redistribution of wealth" scheme.  We don't THINK of it that way, but that's what it is.  Democrats and Republicans quibble about the amount that each income bracket is taxed, but the fundamental progressive tax system is accepted.

Yet, with Obama's policies, we hear cries of "socialism".  Well, where were all those people last spring, when Bush decided to send out $600 checks to individuals making less than $70,000 (or households making under $150,000)?  Isn't that a blatent example of "redistribution of wealth"?  Who was decrying Bush as a "socialist" then?

Fortunately, the "socialism" boogeyman simply isn't working this election cycle.  If it was working, if it had any merit to it, then Obama wouldn't be getting the endorsements of The Financial Times and The Economist.

Downticket Gay Fearmongering In NC

TPMCafe looks at some of the downticket GOP ads, and how the GOP resorting to the same tactics as 2004 and 2006.

The post references a mailer being sent out in North Carolina, attacking the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, Kay Hagan:


I'm struck by the graphic.  The guy kneeling.  Is he proposing, or getting ready to do something else?  Maybe he's receiving the holy sacrament from the preacher.

And if they're going to go with figureines, why not the two-men-wedding-cake figurines?

The text is cute, too.  You see, in North Carolina, as in most states, it is unconstitutional to ban gay marriages.  The text of the ad admits this: state laws are not enough; that's why a constitutional amendment is quote — "needed" – unquote.  And it's "needed" because the obstacle to banning gay marriages is this little tidbit within the NC Constitition:

Section 1. The equality and rights of persons.

We hold it to be self-evident that all persons are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, the enjoyment of the fruits of their own labor, and the pursuit of happiness.

You see, that language makes it hard to discriminate against gays.  Poor homophobic bigots.

So really — who is doing the "imposing"?  If social conservatives have to change the NC Constitution, as they admit they need to do, isn't that "imposing"?



The mailer goes on to suggest that Hagan wants to eliiminate "uder God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, and eliminate Christmas.

Neither, of course, is true, but it just shows the desparation and insincerity of the local and national GOP.  (Hagan, by the way, is an elder at the First Presbyterian Church in Greensboro).

Jane The Pooper-Scooper

I understand that candidates try to get the electorate to understand that they, too, are just regular people…. but a campaign ad featuring the candidate scooping up dog poop?

Of course, it's Alaska politics, so go figure….

The Latest Drudge-Driven Attack

Hyped by a Drudge article, the conservative websites and the McCain campaign are attacking Obama over this, a radio interview on September 6, 2001, by then state legislator Barack Obama.  You can hear a heavily edited version on Youtube (this is what the conservatives are drooling over, but if you click on my first link, you'll see access to the entire interview).

According to the conservative spin, Obama said that it was a "tragedy" that the Warren Court didn't engage in redistribution of wealth.  Of course, Obama said no such thing.  Here is what he said — and I apologize if it is dry reading — but Obama was clearly in law professor/wonk mode:

You know, if you look at the victories and failures of the civil-rights movement, and its litigation strategy in the court, I think where it succeeded was to vest formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples. So that I would now have the right to vote, I would now be able to sit at a lunch counter and order and as long as I could pay for it, I’d be okay, but the Supreme Court never entered into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society.

And uh, to that extent, as radical as I think people tried to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution — at least as it’s been interpreted, and Warren Court interpreted it in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties: [It] says what the states can’t do to you, says what the federal government can’t do to you, but it doesn’t say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf.

And that hasn’t shifted, and one of the, I think, the tragedies of the civil-rights movement was because the civil-rights movement became so court-focused, uh, I think that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change. And in some ways we still suffer from that.

A caller then asks: “The gentleman made the point that the Warren Court wasn’t terribly radical. My question is (with economic changes)… my question is, is it too late for that kind of reparative work, economically, and is that the appropriate place for reparative economic work to change place?”

Obama replies:

You know, I’m not optimistic about bringing about major redistributive change through the courts. The institution just isn’t structured that way. [snip] You start getting into all sorts of separation of powers issues, you know, in terms of the court monitoring or engaging in a process that essentially is administrative and takes a lot of time. You know, the court is just not very good at it, and politically, it’s just very hard to legitimize opinions from the court in that regard.

So I think that, although you can craft theoretical justifications for it, legally, you know, I think any three of us sitting here could come up with a rationale for bringing about economic change through the courts.”

Now, I've highlighted some hey parts of the interview.  They are the same parts that conservatives are focusing on.  The thing is, in no way did Obama say that it was a tragedy the Supreme Court under Earl Warren never engaged in "resdistribution of wealth" changes.

What Obama said was a fact — that the Warren Court never entered into the issues of redistribution of wealth.

He then followed it with an opinion about the civil rights movement — i.e., that it was a tragedy that the civil rights movement became so court-focused.  It's a tragedy because that's not where you go to address economic disparity issues.

Obama reinforces that point again in response to the caller, saying (again) that he's not optimistic about trying to bring redistributive changes through the courts because it violates separation of powers, etc.

The bottom line?  Obama was saying that redistribution of wealth cannot — constitutionally — be brought about through the judicial system.  And it is wrong (indeed, "tragic", in the case of the civil rights movement) to even try.

In other words, hHe's saying that judges will not — and should not — legislate economic redistibrution from the bench.

What's so controversial about that?


As Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton says:

Make no mistake, this has nothing to do with Obama’s economic plan or his plan to give the middle class a tax cut. It’s just another distraction from an increasingly desperate McCain campaign…. In the interview, Obama went into extensive detail to explain why the courts should not get into that business of 'redistributing' wealth. Obama’s point – and what he called a tragedy – was that legal victories in the Civil Rights led too many people to rely on the courts to change society for the better. That view is shared by conservative judges and legal scholars across the country.

But if you cherry-pick the interview, and match of the word "tragic" with other points Obama was making, then (so the Republicans hope) you've ginned up a controversy.

That's how desparate the McCain campaign is.  Manufacturing fake controversies from an interview given (which speaks for itself) eight years ago.

UPDATE:  Professor Bernstein summarizes the entire Obama interview, and explains (as I tried to do) that Obama was actually articulating judicial conservativsm as a proper dead-end avenue to social change/wealth redistribution. bernstein's bottom line: this is hardly anything for conservatives to get breathless about.

Google Street Me

For those interested, the Google Street View people must have swung through my neighborhood this summer.

Check out the Google map of my home address, and then click "Street View".  Then click on the little "yellow man" icon to see the view from my street.  You will see this:


I know, you can't make it out.  The sun was behind my house that day.  The mailbox is barely visible (I replaced that mailbox in August), and the driveway (between the mailbox and the phone utility box thingee) is barely visible.  My house itself is totally obscured by the tree in the center of the photo.

On Google Maps, you can drag the little man around to try to change the view, but the other views aren't any better.

I guess I'm surprised, because there are quite a few areas of the country haven't been Google Street Viewed yet. (See map of the east coast below -covered areas are in blue)


The Financial Crisis Explained

For those who missed it, 60 Minutes did a nice job 3 weeks ago explaining how we got into the financial mess we're in.  It's more than just "the housing bubble burst". 

This 12 minute segment is well worth the watch….

What turned the collapse of the housing and mortage industry into a worldwide economic disaster was this — uh — thing created in 2000, as the result of a rather obscure piece of legislation known The Commodities Futures Modernization Act of 2000.  It was an amendment tacked on to an omnibus budget.  Nobody (including Democrats, or Bill Clinton, who signed it into law) complained about it.

But what that law did was create this thing called credit derivatives or credit default swaps.  What are they?  CBS explains:

[E]ssentially they are side bets on the performance of the U.S. mortgage markets and the solvency on some of the biggest financial institutions in the world. It's a form of legalized gambling that allows you to wager on financial outcomes without ever having to actually buy the stocks and bonds and mortgages.


Ask to explain what a derivative is, Partnoy [Frank Partnoy, a law professor at the University of San Diego, who has written a couple of books on the subject] says, "A derivative is a financial instrument whose value is based on something else. It's basically a side bet."

Think of it for a moment as a football game. Every week, the New York Giants take the field with hopes of getting back to the Super Bowl. If they do, they will get more money and glory for the team and its owners. They have a direct investment in the game. But the people in the stands may also have a financial stake in the ouctome, in the form of a bet with a friend or a bookie.

"We could call that a derivative. It's a side bet. We don't own the teams. But we have a bet based on the outcome. And a lot of derivatives are bets based on the outcome of games of a sort. Not football games, but games in the markets," Partnoy explains.

Partnoy says the bet was whether interest rates were going to go up or down. "And the new bet that arose over the last several years is a bet based on whether people will default on their mortgages."

And that was the bet that blew up Wall Street. The TNT was the collapse of the housing market and the failure of complicated mortgage securities that the big investment houses created and sold around the world.

But the rocket fuel was the trillions of dollars in side bets on those mortgage securities, called "credit default swaps." They were essentially private insurance contracts that paid off if the investment went bad, but you didn't have to actually own the investment to collect on the insurance.

"If I thought certain mortgage securities were gonna fail, I could go out and buy insurance on them without actually owning them?" Kroft asks Eric Dinallo, the insurance superintendent for the state of New York.

"Yeah," Dinallo says. "The irony is, though, you're not really buying insurance at that point. You're just placing the bet."

Dinallo says credit default swaps were totally unregulated and that the big banks and investment houses that sold them didn't have to set aside any money to cover their potential losses and pay off their bets.

"As the market began to seize up and as the market for the underlying obligations began to perform poorly, everybody wanted to get paid, had a right to get paid on those credit default swaps. And there was no 'there' there. There was no money behind the commitments. And people came up short. And so that's to a large extent what happened to Bear Sterns, Lehman Brothers, and the holding company of AIG," he explains.

In other words, three of the nation's largest financial institutions had made more bad bets than they could afford to pay off. Bear Stearns was sold to J.P. Morgan for pennies on the dollar, Lehman Brothers was allowed to go belly up, and AIG, considered too big to let fail, is on life support to thanks to a $123 billion investment by U.S. taxpayers.

"It's legalized gambling. It was illegal gambling. And we made it legal gambling…with absolutely no regulatory controls. Zero, as far as I can tell," Dinallo says.
Ask to explain what a derivative is, Partnoy says, "A derivative is a financial instrument whose value is based on something else. It's basically a side bet."

Think of it for a moment as a football game. Every week, the New York Giants take the field with hopes of getting back to the Super Bowl. If they do, they will get more money and glory for the team and its owners. They have a direct investment in the game. But the people in the stands may also have a financial stake in the ouctome, in the form of a bet with a friend or a bookie.

"We could call that a derivative. It's a side bet. We don't own the teams. But we have a bet based on the outcome. And a lot of derivatives are bets based on the outcome of games of a sort. Not football games, but games in the markets," Partnoy explains.

Partnoy says the bet was whether interest rates were going to go up or down. "And the new bet that arose over the last several years is a bet based on whether people will default on their mortgages."

And that was the bet that blew up Wall Street. The TNT was the collapse of the housing market and the failure of complicated mortgage securities that the big investment houses created and sold around the world.

But the rocket fuel was the trillions of dollars in side bets on those mortgage securities, called "credit default swaps." They were essentially private insurance contracts that paid off if the investment went bad, but you didn't have to actually own the investment to collect on the insurance.

"If I thought certain mortgage securities were gonna fail, I could go out and buy insurance on them without actually owning them?" Kroft asks Eric Dinallo, the insurance superintendent for the state of New York.

"Yeah," Dinallo says. "The irony is, though, you're not really buying insurance at that point. You're just placing the bet."

Dinallo says credit default swaps were totally unregulated and that the big banks and investment houses that sold them didn't have to set aside any money to cover their potential losses and pay off their bets.

"As the market began to seize up and as the market for the underlying obligations began to perform poorly, everybody wanted to get paid, had a right to get paid on those credit default swaps. And there was no 'there' there. There was no money behind the commitments. And people came up short. And so that's to a large extent what happened to Bear Sterns, Lehman Brothers, and the holding company of AIG," he explains.

In other words, three of the nation's largest financial institutions had made more bad bets than they could afford to pay off. Bear Stearns was sold to J.P. Morgan for pennies on the dollar, Lehman Brothers was allowed to go belly up, and AIG, considered too big to let fail, is on life support to thanks to a $123 billion investment by U.S. taxpayers.

"It's legalized gambling. It was illegal gambling. And we made it legal gambling…with absolutely no regulatory controls. Zero, as far as I can tell," Dinallo says.

Warren Buffet called credit default swaps a "ticking time bomb".  Boy, was he right.

RELATED:  The housing crisis, and bad bank lending practices are detailed in this "Exhibit A" article focusing on Cleveland housing.  In one area, houses that should have been valued at $20,000 to $30,000 became, as a result of "toxic loans", overvalued as high as $80,000 to $90,000.  Now, they are worth about $6,000.

Come Again?

“This vote on whether we stop the gay-marriage juggernaut in California is Armageddon,” said Charles W. Colson, the founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries and an eminent evangelical voice, speaking to pastors in a video promoting Proposition 8. “We lose this, we are going to lose in a lot of other ways, including freedom of religion.”


Can someone tell me how — even theoretically — gay marriage in California in any way threatens the constitutional guarantee of "freedom of religion"?

That statement only makes sense if one equates "religion" with "oppression".  Which I do not, and I don't think anybody else does either.

Educational Resumes

From Pharyngula:

Barack Obama:
Columbia University – B.A.
Political Science with a Specialization in
International Relations.
Harvard – Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude

Joseph Biden:
University of Delaware – B.A. in History and B.A. in Political Science.
Syracuse University College of Law – Juris Doctor (J.D.)


John McCain:
United States Naval Academy – Class rank: 894 of 899

Sarah Palin:
Hawaii Pacific University – 1 semester
North Idaho College – 2 semesters – general study
University of Idaho – 2 semesters – journalism
Matanuska-Susitna College – 1 semester
University of Idaho – 3 semesters – B.A. in Journalism

Just, you know, FYI…..

The Anchorage Daily News, The Largest Paper In Palin’s Home State Of Alaska, Endorses….


Gov. Palin's nomination clearly alters the landscape for Alaskans as we survey this race for the presidency — but it does not overwhelm all other judgment. The election, after all is said and done, is not about Sarah Palin, and our sober view is that her running mate, Sen. John McCain, is the wrong choice for president at this critical time for our nation.

Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee, brings far more promise to the office. In a time of grave economic crisis, he displays thoughtful analysis, enlists wise counsel and operates with a cool, steady hand. The same cannot be said of Sen. McCain.

This has been the latest in "Endorsements That Embarrass McCain"….

Palin Really Screwing Things Up For The GOP

Remarkable story:

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

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

"I think she'd like to go more rogue," he said. 

Sarah palin wink Now, I've been quite critical of McCain's handlers for the terrible campaign being run on the GOP side.  But Palin going it on her own is ridiculous.

First of all, "Palin blames her handlers for a botched rollout…"?!?

Palin's rollout was great!  The convention speech?  Come on!  I mean, I wasn't impressed, but it I wasn't going to be.  But it certainly helped the McCain campaign for a few weeks.

As for Palin's "tarnished public image", that can only be blamed on Palin herself, not her handlers.  That is, unless her handlers told her to give non-answers in the debate, and screw up her interviews with Katie Couric and others.

In fact, I'm willing to bet that this gaffe was probably Palin's doing, and not that of her handlers.

Finally, it says something unseemly about Palin if this is in fact true.  Clearly, she's gearing up for 2012, and trying to save her hide.  So much for helping McCain.  Or even "country first".

A McCain campaign source unloads on Palin in an interview with CNN:

“She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone,” said this McCain adviser, “she does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else. Also she is playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party. Remember: divas trust only unto themselves as they see themselves as the beginning and end of all wisdom.

Earmarks And Ignorance

I get tired of Republicans slamming earmarks, i.e. out-of-control government spending on pet projects and the like.

Granted, a lot of government spending is ridiculous, and it certainly could do better about tightening its belt.  Maybe spend money on one war at a time (Just a suggestion…)

But some of this earmark spending is actually worthy of consideration, and before one blithely mocks all earmark spending, one should look into it a little deeper.

Care in point?  Sarah Palin.

Key segment:

"Where does a lot of that earmark money end up anyway? […] You've heard about some of these pet projects they really don't make a whole lot of sense and sometimes these dollars go to projects that have little or nothing to do with the public good. Things like fruit fly research in Paris, France. I kid you not."

What puts me off is the breathtaking ignorance behind this.  No, not "ignorance"….. lack of intellectual curiosity.

Yes, fruit fly research does sound like a rather silly thing for our government to spend money on, at first blush.  But did Sarah, or anyone in the upper schelons of the McCain campaign (who wrote or at least approved of this speech), bother to think about what that fruit fly research is about?

Fruit flies are used to study genetic research.  In fact

About 75% of known human disease genes have a recognizable match in the genetic code of fruit flies (Reiter et al (2001) Genome Research: 11(6):1114-25), and 50% of fly protein sequences have mammalian analogues. An online database called Homophila is available to search for human disease gene homologues in flies and vice versa. Drosophila is being used as a genetic model for several human diseases including the neurodegenerative disorders Parkinson's, Huntington's, spinocerebellar ataxia and Alzheimer's disease. The fly is also being used to study mechanisms underlying aging and oxidative stress, immunity, diabetes, and cancer, as well as drug abuse.

Fruit fly research has also been instrumental in discovering the source of autism.

There's a HUGE irony to Sarah's speech, which she gave two days ago.  It was her first policy speech ever, and she used that occasion to urge the federal government to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), “a law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation.”  She even mentioned autism, by saying: "Early identification of a cognitive or other disorder, especially autism, can make a life-changing difference."

And then she proceeded to bash  government spending "that didn't make a whole lot of sense".

Like fruit fly research.

Which is being used to discover the source of autism.

Inspiration Of The Day

At the age of 73, the guy still has some game.

Good enough game, in fact, to get on the basketball team at Roane State College in Tennessee.  (Note: he's twice as old as the school itself).  He's making the daily 35-mile commute from his home in Farragut to Harriman (TN) to take the required 12 hours of credits with classes in Spanish, Computer Science, U.S. History and Criminal Justice.

And he plays….

Today’s Embarrassing Obama Endorsement

Embarrassing for McCain, that is.

You haven't heard of the guy, but his endorsement of Obama is particularly embarrassing. 

His name Charles Fried.  He's "a professor at Harvard Law School, has long been one of the most important conservative thinkers in the United States. Under President Reagan, he served, with great distinction, as Solicitor General of the United States".

He was also, until very recently, a McCain 2008 campaign advisor.

But he has not only endorsed Obama, he's already voted for Obama (by absentee ballot).

What made him stop drinking the McCain KoolAid?  "The choice of Sarah Palin at a time of deep national crisis."

(To be scrupulously fair, McCain choice Palin before the economic crisis.  But still….)


McCain’s Spending Habits

Q.  Who was the highest paid individual in Senator John McCain's presidential campaign during the first half of October as it headed down the homestretch?

A.  Not Randy Scheunemann, Mr. McCain's chief foreign policy adviser; not Nicolle Wallace, his senior communications staff member.

It was Amy Strozzi, who was identified by the Washington Post this week as Gov. Sarah Palin's traveling makeup artist, according to a new filing with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday night.

Source: NYT

Ms. Strozzi, who was nominated for an Emmy award for her makeup work on the television show “So You Think You Can Dance?”, was paid $22,800 for the first two weeks of October alone.

Is McCain the guy you want running in the economy?

I Was About To Weigh In On The Ashley Todd Story….

You know what I mean, right?

Ashley is a 20 year old McCain volunteer.  In the wee hours of yesterday morning, she stopped at an ATM in Pittsburgh "on the wrong side of town" and was robbed.  Sixty dollars were taken.

The reason it made headlines (asn was HEAVILY promoted by Drudge) was this: she claimed that her assailant (a black man) saw the McCain sticker on her car, and went ballistic on her.  He beat her and even carved a 'B' (for "Barack" presumably) on her face.

Oh, those Obama supporters.  They're so unhinged.

Right away, I smelled something rotten about her story.

First of all, this woman twittered the whole thing.  Her Twitter page has been taken down since then, but The Smoking Gun managed to screen capture it.  Key entries (most recent entry is first):

atodd: Thanks to everyone for your thoughts and prayers- I'm phonebanking so let's all work together and get John McCain elected #litf08
Thu, 23 Oct 2008 18:55:41 +0000

atodd: Oh the blog I will be making soon… Its been a rough night #litf08
Thu, 23 Oct 2008 03:52:58 +0000

atodd: Pretty sure I'm on the wrong side of pittsburgh
Thu, 23 Oct 2008 00:45:59 +0000

atodd: Stubbornly searching for a bank of america to avoid ATM fees.
Thu, 23 Oct 2008 00:23:21 +0000

Now, I know we live in a world where people give status updates, but it is odd that she would that she would give a status update about GOING TO THE BANK as well as her REASONS FOR BEING ON THE WRONG SIDE OF TOWN (i.e., to avoid ATM fees).  People typically don't twitter such insignificant things.

Then, of course, came the picture of her post-crime injuries:


The Obama campaign release this statement: ""This is a horrendous act of violence. Our thoughts and prayers are with the young woman for her to make a speedy recovery, and we hope that the person who perpetrated this crime is swiftly apprehended and brought to justice."

The McCain campaign called the attack "sick and disgusting".

Okay….. but hold on.  Notice anything about the 'B' that was allegedly carved in her cheek?

It's backwards.  Gee, it's as if the 'B' had been carved by someone looking in a mirror.

Undeterred by the obvious fish-smilliness, conservative bloggers went ballistic over this, somehow equating this attack with the kind of nutjobs that Obama supporters really are.

At Redstate, theycomplained about the media — how it covers McCain supports who shout "Kill him", but they never cover the supposedly violent protests of Obama supporters.

Jim Kouri at Renew America:

Once again, the mainstream news media are bending over backwards — except for Fox News Channel, talk radio and the blogospehere — to avoid covering a breaking crime story that occurred in western Pennsylvania that may cause Barack Obama political problems….

….Watch how the news media attempt to discredit and smear this woman with the help of their comrades in the Democrat Party.

Dan Riehl writes (in a post "Thugs For Change"):

Well, I'm sure the Kos Kidz will get some real laughs out of this. Obama's run his campaign just like a street thug out of Chicago. Now we get to see what some of his worst supporters are like.

Over at Powerline, Hindraker writes:

I also think that a great many voters, some of them heretofore uncommitted, will see this incident as symbolic of a race in which every voter who has not jumped on the Obama bandwagon has been subject to various forms of harassment and bullying. Americans, generally speaking, don't like to be bullied. This, as much as anything, explains why the McCain campaign still has a chance.

Some more cautiously, the exectiive VP of Fox News wrote this:

It had to happen.

Less than two weeks before we vote for a new president, a white woman says a black man attacked her, then scarred her face, and says there was a political motive for it.

Ashley Todd, a 20-year-old white volunteer for John McCain’s presidential campaign, says she was mugged at an ATM machine in Pittsburgh (my hometown) by a big black man. She further says he threw her down, then disfigured her by carving the letter “B” into her face with a sharp implement when he saw that she supported McCain, not Barack Obama.

Part of the appeal of, and the unspoken tension behind, Senator Obama’s campaign is his transformational status as the first African-American to win a major party’s presidential nomination.

That does not mean that he has erased the mutual distrust between black and white Americans, and this incident could become a watershed event in the 11 days before the election.

If Ms. Todd’s allegations are proven accurate, some voters may revisit their support for Senator  Obama, not because they are racists (with due respect to Rep. John Murtha), but because they suddenly feel they do not know enough about the Democratic nominee.

If the incident turns out to be a hoax, Senator McCain’s quest for the presidency is over, forever linked to race-baiting.

[Emphasis mine] [UPDATE:  Credit where credit is due –  Michelle Malkin — one of those most fire-breathing unhinged conservative pundits out there never once bought into the story, to her credit.

Anyway, I was in the middle of writing this post on my suspicions about Ms. Todd's claim, when the news came out:

Police: Campaign Worker Admits Making Up Story

A Pittsburgh police commander told KDKA Investigator Marty Griffin that Ashley Todd confessed to making up the story & is facing charges

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) ― Police sources tell KDKA that a campaign worker has now confessed to making up a story that a mugger attacked her and cut the letter "B" in her face after seeing her McCain bumper sticker.

Ashley Todd, 20, of Texas, initially told police that she was robbed at an ATM in Bloomfield and that the suspect became enraged and started beating her after seeing her GOP sticker on her car.

Police investigating the alleged attack, however, began to notice some inconsistencies in her story and administered a polygraph test.

Authorities, however, declined to release the results of that test.

Investigators did say that they received photos from the ATM machine and "the photographs were verified as not being the victim making the transaction."

This afternoon, a Pittsburgh police commander told KDKA Investigator Marty Griffin that Todd confessed to making up the story.

The commander added that Todd will face charges; but police have not commented on what those charges will be.   

Yeah, I saw that coming…

This campaign worker was attempting (I hope without endorsement by the McCain campaign) to create a Willie Horton moment, a political game-changer in the state of Pennsylvania.  It backfired.  It became a Tawana Brawley/Duke rape moment.  And THAT's the story that will be talked about.  Just the sort of things that hurts McCain.