Friday, October 31, 2008

One Landslide, Please

This image pretty much sums up the "ground game" for McCain.

This is from the must-read Go read the whole post. The lack of actual enthusiasm on the ground is killing these guys.

This is us in Alaska:

The enthusiasm gap is going to pay significant dividends.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wow. Just, wow.

From The Hartford Courant, via Dkos:

A little more than a month earlier, teacher Joyce Ben-KiKi had Aron and his classmates each send letters to a famous person as part of a language arts lesson. Ben-KiKi wrapped the exercise around well-known children's book character "Flat Stanley," so along with the letters, the children each tucked a Flat Stanley figure they had made into each envelope.

"I told them not to expect a letter back," Ben-KiKi said. "I told them these people are very busy and most likely will not write back."

The list of recipients was impressive: Yankee third basemen Alex Rodriguez; Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Olympic gold medalist Mark Spitz; Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. John McCain.

Obama was the only one to write back. Two other boys, Avshalom Drescher and Zachary Goldberg, both 8, also wrote to him, but Aron was the first to get a reply.

Obama's three-page letter to Aron described Flat Stanley's visit with him and his staff in Washington, D.C. It chronicled their busy day together, which included coffee with constituents, a Senate committee meeting and a trip to the gym. It also had historical facts about the U.S. Capitol, details of Obama's job and a confession from Obama.

"Sometimes I get a little nervous before talking in front of a crowd, but Flat Stanley helped me practice the speech," Obama wrote. "He made me recite it in front of him and then even gave me some advice so the speech would go smoothly. Flat Stanley is really a great coach."

To any parent who has dealt with a Flat Stanley project, this is impressive. Obama so gets it.

A Happy GOP Halloween

A hilarious Top 10 List from comedy-writing legend Frank Santopadre, moored for now at VF.

Happy Halloween --

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

So, How're We Doing, Election-wise?

We are in as good as a position as a party could hope for. The other side is on the ropes, and the trends all seem to favor our side. I think in the national polling numbers there will be some tightening as we get into the final couple of days. But I think that's more than offset by the gains in key states. Not too long ago, Pennsylvania was thought to be a swing state. No more. Florida was out of Obama's reach - the media thought old Jews couldn't get past their racism. Then Ohio was a firewall for McCain. All of these states will, I believe, come over to our side on Tuesday. And who would have thought that Virginia -- Virginia!! -- home of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and hordes of bible freaks -- would be on our side. I think there's even reason to be hopeful about Indiana and North Carolina.

If Obama does as well as I think he will, the Republicans will suffer an unmistakable rebuke. I have long thought that there would be a sudden collapse of the Republican movement, a sort of "emperor-has-no-clothes" moment, and I think it's here. A perfect storm of events have come together to throw those drowning bums anvils. First is the large generational shift in party identification that seems to occur about every 35 years or so. Then, the election of a moron who screws up everything he touches, and manages to bankrupt the government, sink us into not one but two endless wars, destroy an iconic American city, and on his way out drop a nuclear weapon into the gears of our economy. Throw into the mix the arrival on the scene of a once-in-a-generation leader like Obama, add in the empowering effect of new technologies, and top it all off with a Republican field the least-bad of which was John McCain, a man of whom someone said, "even his friends don't like him."

We are in the midst of one of history's turning points, like the onset of the Great Depression or the bombing of Pearl Harbor. And while it seems like what we are seeing is the end of an era (which we are), we are also witnessing the very earliest stages of the next. Our future is likely to be marked with widespread economic hardship, a frustrating inability to improve our lots, and no real end in sight. But it will also be marked by a renewed spirit of unity, a re-focusing on the good things that make America one of the "good guys," and finally an economy poised for sustained growth while not also killing the planet simultaneously.

The greatest challenge for us all is how to create jobs that pay a living wage, and I'd very much like to solve at least enough of that puzzle to employ some folks and earn enough for myself. But for now it's like trying to peer through think fog -- the outlines of something are there, but I can't quite tell what. I do know that my current situation if not altered will lead me through an existence which will bring me nothing but regret.

More Perfect Union and a Better Ashely

This spoke to me when I heard it, and want to recall it now -- it's from the final part of Barack Obama's More Perfect Union speech on race, March 18, 2008, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that's when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother's problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn't. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.

Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they're supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who's been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he's there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, "I am here because of Ashley."

"I'm here because of Ashley." By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.

Friday, October 24, 2008

This Ain't No "Credit Crunch." This is Total Economic Meltdown

This Ain't no "Credit Crunch." This is Total Economic Meltdown

When the economy is growing, it's because there are a series of cycles that overlap and are re-inforcing an upward spiral. Wages go up and spending goes up. Spending goes up and wages go up. But just as this spiral can continue despite significant obstacles, it can also go down. Which is what's happening now.

Wages stagnate, spending (after borrowing every last available cent) drops. Spending drops, companies lay-off, and there's less income, and less spending. And so on and so forth. Chinese steel orders are cut because the manufacturers perceive that demand for their products is down, so steel tanks (as do stocks as traders think the Chinese manufacturers' point-of-view is an insider's (i.e., accurate and not already in the markets' prices).

Corporate earnings are declining, and that feeds the downward spiral. The question on everyone's mind is, "when do we hit bottom?" My view is that we've still got the worst ahead of us, and that it will take a decade to dig out.

Far too many companies have spent the last 25 years not innovating. Car companies are everyone' favorite whipping boys these days, but the same can be said for many others. From technology to food production, from health care to energy, we have failed as a society to invent the future, instead simply mining the past for current profits.

Almost all our economic sectors have their assets badly misallocated. Many people talk about the need to re-invent energy as a renewable resource not just to replace imported oil but as a sort of jobs program. But the same is true for almost every sector.

I live in NYC so I see a growing retail space vacancy problem. Owners of stores are holding them empty because they cannot find credit-worthy tenants. There are of course lots of people who need jobs and could make a go if it in a storefront, but they lack the credit. So we end up with idle assets: empty stores, which over time will lose their value as the street becomes less vibrant and a poorer retail environment, and the under-utilized people, who will not contribute to society at a level of which they are capable. I give this example as a short-hand way of illustrating what I take to be the central problem in our economy.

We have so mismanaged our assets that we have severely damaged the ability to produce jobs and income. Our leaders have frittered away our opportunities for many, many years. The phrase that seems to come to mind over and over is "eating the seed corn." (See? I did too grow up on a farm!) I have not clearly understood for a decade what, exactly, many companies did. Dell computers makes computers, and for a while will have crazy growth as everyone needs one. It can even extend that growth as they introduce ever-faster machines. But a day arrives when the need for a new computer just isn't there, and Dell is in trouble.

We're not entering a period when there are no jobs, and no business has success. But it will be a period when there are many fewer jobs, many more unemployed, and many businesses will fail. Government has been starved of resources for so long it will not be able to help much. In fact, all of our "safety net" mechanisms have been starved for resources and overburdened with demand, it's hard to see how we don't end up with Depression-like work camps and the like before we're done.

In fact, perhaps just to provoke a bit, I wonder where it's written that the Depressions is some kind of floor of economic misery. Who says it can't get worse than that? Surely not I.

This is going to be an ugly ride, rife with tragedy, suffering and despair. Of course there's a chance that I'm wrong, and of course I hope I am. But when I look at most companies in the US, I don't see a lot of reason to hope.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Conservatives for Change

I found this video quite moving. As someone from a Republican upbringing who still counts many conservatives as friends and family members, this spoke to me. It's a testament to the faith that the Obama campaign is based on that Americans will rise to the occasion and -- perhaps only after trying every other alternative -- Do the Right Thing.

People on the other side are not all venal, are not all ignorant, are not all selfish. Some have been misled; some allowed themselves to be misled, and still others allowed their selfishness a too-prominent place in their thinking. Northerners had to make common cause with the slave-holders in the South in order to break away from England. In doing so, both parties recognized their common interests as Americans.

How fiitting, then, that an African-American is leading us to the common ground once again -- in what may prove one of our darkest hours...

Monday, October 20, 2008

They Asked Nicely

The nice people at asked me to post this for all to see. I'm famously responsive to polite requests. Pass the ketchup?


1. The polls may be wrong. This is an unprecedented election. No one knows how racism may affect what voters tell pollsters—or what they do in the voting booth. And the polls are narrowing anyway. In the last few days, John McCain has gained ground in most national polls, as his campaign has gone even more negative.

2. Dirty tricks. Republicans are already illegally purging voters from the rolls in some states. They're whipping up hysteria over ACORN to justify more challenges to new voters. Misleading flyers about the voting process have started appearing in black neighborhoods. And of course, many counties still use unsecure voting machines.

3. October surprise. In politics, 15 days is a long time. The next McCain smear could dominate the news for a week. There could be a crisis with Iran, or Bin Laden could release another tape, or worse.

4. Those who forget history... In 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote after trailing by seven points in the final days of the race. In 1980, Reagan was eight points down in the polls in late October and came back to win. Races can shift—fast!

5. Landslide. Even with Barack Obama in the White House, passing universal health care and a new clean-energy policy is going to be hard. Insurance, drug and oil companies will fight us every step of the way. We need the kind of landslide that will give Barack a huge mandate.

If you agree that we shouldn't rest easy, please sign up to volunteer at your local Obama office by clicking here:

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Things We All Know(tm): Republican Ideas Are Wrong; McCain Terrible Candidate

The voters for some reason are waking up to something that they already knew: the policies that define the Republican party are wrong. Trickle-down? Wrong. Unregulated businesses and markets? Wrong. Small government? Wrong. And let's not get started with making rape victims take their rapists' babies to term, or the idea that what ails our education system is a lack of competition -- competition which we all know has been disastrous for the health care system.

I heard Brian Lehrer on WNYC this morning discussing the debate. He said, almost as a self-evident fact, that when the discussion turned to the economy it was bad for McCain. He later said that McCain had had limited success moving off of the recession, which was good for him because he can't really talk about the recession. It's not his strong suit.

This elides the truth which Brian knows perfectly well: he disguises the truth -- the Thing We All Know(tm) -- in an effort to appear even-handed. Brian says McCain "can't really talk about' the recession, but what he really means is that Republican ideas about the economy are now widely discredited by huge margins of both public opinion as well as expert opinion.

John McCain is of course a terrible candidate. He is probably the nominee because he was perceived as the least bad alternative in a field rich with disastrous choices. Barack Obama is of course a wonderful candidate, and barely won the nomination in a field with two superstars and several second tier candidates who were strong -- one became his running mate. These are thoughts one will never hear in the mass media, even though We All Know(tm) they are true.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Blogosphere Saves Civilization

The Rise of the Liberal Blogosphere has a valid claim to helping save civilization.

Everyone knows the famous episode in Peanuts in which Charlie Brown prepares to kick a football with Lucy as the ball holder. Charlie Brown runs up to kick, and Lucy snatches the ball away, with Charlie landing flat on his back. And then Lucy promises that this time – this time – she’ll be a good ball holder and that Charlie Brown should try again. And this time – this time – she once again snatches the ball away. This was a running gag over some considerable period of time, with the same result every time: Lucy offers assurances, Charlie Brown is skeptical but finally agrees to trust her one more time, and Lucy invariably betrays that trust.

For a lot of Democratic voters, the party can seem an awful lot like Charlie Brown, with a succession of Lucys: first, of course, Tricky Dick himself, but certainly his progeny like Mike Deaver, Lee Atwater and Karl Rove. So as Democratic voters approach every election, there’s a strong skepticism that this time will be any different. Will the Democrats’ earnest appeal of positions on relevant issues finally be taken to heart by the voters, or will we once again have substance snatched away only to have a campaign revolve around patently silly issues like flag-burning, “law and order,” the Panama Canal, a spouse’s psychiatric treatment, a young man’s experiment with marijuana?

Many of us are finally seeing a different outcome, at long last. Finally, this time – this time – the ball is not being moved. Finally, this time – this time – the ball is steady and the kick looks to be good. Our man Obama seems finally to have broken some kind of spell that Republican magicians have had over voters for 40 years.

Obama is a once-in-a-lifetime candidate. He is our Ronald Reagan – a personable champion of our cause who has an uncanny ability to communicate our agenda in ways that appeals to a broad swath of voters on both sides of the political divide. Unlike Reagan, he is also a smart and savvy campaigner, having run a virtually flawless campaign that is not only succeeding on its own terms (i.e., putting Obama in the White House), but is also re-defining political campaigns for all time.

But Obama’s personal qualities – his charisma, his competence, his communications skills, his visions – don’t tell the whole story. Many Democrats believe that Obama alone is the difference – that he is what Kerry, Gore 2000, Dukakis, Mondale, McGovern, maybe even Clinton, were not. While those candidates certainly had negatives that contributed to their losses (or in Clinton’s case, to his inability to enact much of the progressive agenda), there was another powerful force that worked against their success. That worked, in fact, hand-in-glove with the Nixons, the Roves, the Atwaters.

The media was and in many cases still is an eager abettor of right-wing smear campaigns. The right figured out that many reporters simply would not stand up to basic bullying – assertiveness, yelling, name-calling, calls to supervisors, etc. The right was fortunate that the media was becoming corporate-ized, which meant hiring actors to portray journalists rather than journalists. The corporate media was selling likeability, and had no need of credibility. As long as viewers and readers showed up, the only goal was to spend as little as possible on the people producing the content.

But there’s a new kid on the block. With roots tracing back to the right’s vendetta against Clinton, a new generation of writers and thinkers collided with a new generation of publishing tools that gave direct access to viewers. No longer were large capital investments necessary to publish professional-quality work. Even television could be produced with little or no cost. And underlying this happy marriage was the rise of on-line advertising, which allowed the most successful writers and producers to earn their living. And while these bloggers didn’t supplant the actor-journalists, they attracted an audience of key readers and viewers. Political insiders, media, academics, intellectuals, government personnel and opinion leaders of all sorts were attracted to the credibility that these bloggers offered. And that has made a key difference.

Newspaper journalists are less likely to gullibly swallow the right’s smears. Cable “news” readers have discovered that it’s good for ratings to be skeptical. People who work in mass media have discovered that high quality analysis and reporting are now easily available, and that if they spurn it they will be made to feel foolish. Political operatives now understand that things said on video will circulate widely enough that they cannot be ignored. And citizens have discovered that they can participate in an political dialogue that makes sense to them, and more, have discovered that they organize, canvass, donate and agitate for the values that are important to them.

The left has already established the first great stars of the blogosphere. Kos, of course, but also Josh Marshall (now emperor of TPM Media), the writers of group blogs like Americablog, Think Progress and First Draft, and single stars like Digby, Atrios, John Cole, Glenn Greenwald, Juan Cole, Steve Benen, Matt Yglesias, and Kevin Drum. These people have contributed to the triumph not only of the left, but of reason and democracy. (The right’s early stars, Glenn Reynolds, Jonah Goldberg, Katherine Lozez, Atlas Shrugged, NRO, Redstate, etc., have either already crashed and burned, or are about to get swallowed up. The real starts of the right have not, in my view, really emerged yet. Sullivan is sort of an exception, and the “new right” (Douhat, Larison, etc.) may yet emerge. But the serious writers of the right – those that will define a conservatism that is actually helpful to society, rather than to the rich and powerful – have not yet appeared.)

So, like the Irish monks of the late Dark Ages who can reasonably be said to have saved Western civilization, the lefty blogosphere has a claim to civilization-saving. These are golden days – salad days – that will be long remembered as a time when the forces of good finally rose up and vanquished (for a time) the forces of evil. It doesn’t happen very often, and it’s something to be savored when it does. The next three weeks are about as good as it gets.

Talk to Your Parents...About John McCain

A great send-up of those anti-drug ads. Not to be missed.

Don't Vote!

Here's another video that we'll want to look back on during the long, cold winters ahead under President Obama.

The Great Schlep

I know this is old news, but I want to have this's a little raw, language-wise. But it might just be moving Florida into the Democratic column.

It also establishes "douchenozzle" as a part of the English language once and for all.

The many contributions of one Sara. Silverman!.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The End of Nothing

The inestimable John Cole at Balloon Juice things this is the end of McCain campaign's honor. Maybe. He suggests that he is now playing princiaplly to a core group of dead-enders.

This won’t be the end of these Republicans (a la the Whigs), nor some kind of retreat to the woods to re-group a la 1964. These wing-nuts are not going to be marginalized. Nor are they going to change their minds. They are fifty million strong. Look at an electoral map and see how much of the US is under their sway.

Everyone is myopically fixated on the election, for understandable reasons. But for the extremists of the right, elections are just bumps in the road. We won’t get to December 1 without the right and the media ganging up on Barack and his "numerous and growing scandals and missteps." If you think that Bill Clinton was hunted, that was Elmer Fudd time. These guys have an army dedicated to the preservation of ignorance, fear and poverty.

We win nothing on November 5. Wait—we win the right to be derailed and abused for four or eight years.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Putting the Knife in - And Twisting. Slowly.

I forget the exact point, but at one point Obama decided to hit back on McCain's charge of "green behind the ears" and "doesn't understand." In a rhetorical one could not teach someone how to do, Obama pivoted toward the camera and said (paraphrasing), "John, you're right. I don't understand. I don't understand ..." And McCain jumped in, in his best boys-on-the-bus how-about-a-dirty-joke manner, and said (paraphrasing), " least we agree on something." And it came off as inappropriate. And Obama gave him a look that said it all. It said, "You is my bitch." (Only in a much nicer, completely unracist way.) Which to me was "sticking the knife in."

And then he began to twist it. Slowly.

Obama resumed his thought the way a parent does when an insolent and ill-mannered child interrupts for the 18th time for no reason at all -- none -- and says (paraphrasing), "I don't understand how someone can look at a deadly serious issue like Iran and joke, "bomb bomb bomb, bomb, bomb Iran. I don't understand how someone can support attacking a country that posed no threat to us..." And so on.

Of course, McCain was dead on arrival. Barring an increasingly unlikely unexpected deus ex machina, we just saw the beginning moments of the Obama administration. Obama took the evening as yet another of the many conversations he has with groups of people about his ideas for moving forward. And his opponent was some kind of automaton "Hall of Almost Presidents" robot-cadaver. Plus, he is... well, him.

I'm starting to be able to write the words "Obama administration" because I am no longer scared that Americans are gonna fall for the GOP crap yet again. We're not out of the woods, but things are looking as "good" as can be expected.

James Wolcott's Wet Dream -- And Mine!

I don't want the Republican Party simply defeated in November, I want to see it smashed beyond all recognition, in such wriggling, writhing, anguished disarray that it can barely reconstitute itself, so desperate for answers that it looks to Newt Gingrich for visionary guidance, his wisdom and insight providing the perfect cup of hemlock to finish off the conservative movement for good so that it can rot in the salted earth of memory unmissed and unmourned in toxic obscurity.

I really don't think that's too much to ask, even in these frugal times.

Reminds me of my own description of the depths to which I'd like these people sunk:

Senator in Hearing Room to Witness: Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Republican Party?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Now What?

Obama has staked the last few years of his life, and his entire political future, on the next 29 days. He has spoken of his campaign as essentially a bet – a bet that enough Americans are ready to vote for their own interests rather than be distracted by irrelevancies like personal smears.

It is a bet that Democrats have made repeatedly, and have lost repeatedly.

If you look back over 2000 and 2004, you can find lots of articles and columns about “Why This Time It’s Different.” Generally, the theme is that –finally! – Americans have had enough, and will ignore the smears and elect the candidate who is truly interested in helping them. The parallels to Lucy and Charlie Brown, and his never-ending belief that this time – this time – Lucy will not yank the football away from his foot at the last second, as she has done the last 27 times in a row – are unavoidable. Are the American people getting ready to yank away from Democrat’s feet the football of electoral victory?

Sure, the polling now looks strong. And Americans famously react only to crises, which the media seem to have agreed is what we’re having now. Oh, and the Democrat this time out is not the same unlikable loser who lectures the electorate on why his policies are clearly the better choice. This time, our guy is likable and able to articulate Democratic ideas in non-condescending and quite understandable manner. And their guy is more or less Mr. Burns from The Simpsons.

So one might think that this time – this time! – it’ll be different. In my heart of hearts, I think so too. (That un-killable optimism is likely part of why I incline leftward.) But I am scared that the smear-storm that’s being unleashed in key states will have enough effect to turn what should be a romp into a nail-biter – which gives the GOP the chance to cage enough votes and lose enough precinct tallies to pull off yet another victory.

In a better America, we wouldn’t need to spend so much of our social energy fighting off those whose only goal is domination and plunder of their countrymen. In a better America, we could count on each other not to give in to fear and panic, but to stand up for one another and give each other a hand when we really need it. In a better America, the GOP would nominate candidates who are happy to compete on the basis of their ideas, not on the basis of how awful they can make the other guy seem.

Tick-tock. Lucy is getting the ball ready, and in just 29 days the Democrats will take a run up to her toe expecting to kick the ball to the moon and back. Will fear prevail? Time will tell.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Is There Anything Better Than This?

I can't imagine a more encouraging or more beautiful image. The future will NOT suck. If this doesn't make you proud of your nation, nothing will.

How Quickly We'll Forget

What Debate?

As predicted, the great Veep Debate is concluded and swiftly receding into the forgotten swirls of dim memory – where it undoubtedly belongs. The job of VP is to be ready to jump in if the need arises – both candidates appeared to be in good health, so they met the threshold standard.

I thought the debate was surprisingly on issues, which is a credit to all three participants. I would have guessed that Governor Palin would have spent most of her time on the Smear BandWagon, which is the only logical strategy for the McCain campaign. I’m surprised that she didn’t go on and on about Tony Reszko and Rev. Wright for 90 minutes. (Such an approach has the added benefit of lessening or even eliminating the need for any policy knowledge or even knowledge of the parties’ positions.) Whether it was Governor Palin, Senator McCain or other facts, the fact that the Republican nominee didn’t just wallow in the mud was a surprise.

Joe Biden turned in an indisputably “A+” performance. (The “+” is for the emotional choking up, which I swear to God I believe was authentic.) His opening speech was pedantic, wonky, overlong and dry – which I think set a mood in which the mud-slinging would have seemed jarringly out-of-place (though I doubt it changed Governor Palin’s tactics in any way.) Biden landed any number of solid blows in the form of calmly explaining why Republican ideas were nutty. Fair-minded viewers would have a hard time ignoring the essential logic and truth of his pronouncements, nor could they easily ignore his steady and calm demeanor, contrasted with her chirpy, nervous and screamingly-unready manner. On any number of occasions, she retreated to “local anchor” syntax. I almost expected her to throw it to Joe for the latest on the weather.

Expectations had been lowered by the Couric interviews, so that her rising to the level of, say, the interviews with Hugh Hewitt or Sean Hannity was hailed as victory. But her embrace of non-standard English, her spurning of the norms of conversational logic, her glaring nervousness, her evident lack of both education and intelligence – cannot have served her or her cause well.

Palin’s performance may have been enough to stanch the bleeding of support on her side, though I suspect her principal will soon give voters new reasons to distrust him. And in a contest in which her side is losing, she did nothing to move toward victory, which in the Real World is the relevant standard.

One last thought: how can a majority of Alaskans watch this and think they have a great Governor? My guess is Palin will have her hands full finishing out her term and winning any election again. Getting a show on Fox News, though – well, I think Todd will just love the fishing in Chesepeake Bay when the Palins move to DC.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Easily Forgotten

Sarah Palin and the $700 billion rescue package are both likely to end up in the dustbin of our collective consciousness, and sooner than the current media storm would suggest would be the case.

Palin will undoubtedly acquit herself acceptably tomorrow night. The expectations for her have been pushed –largely by her own campaign – to the level where if she doesn’t blubber or throw-up she wins. And Biden will say something – almost anything will do – that the media will latch on to to provide balance to the story they want to write: “Both Candidates Make Missteps.”

The NY Times has twin leads today, “Experience, Often Tripped Up” and “Past Debates Show a Confident Palin, at Times Fluent but Often Vague” (which replaces an earlier headline about “Two Personas,” which was pretty close to gibberish. (In fact, the entire Palin piece seems to lack any critical analysis.) So the narrative is already set that will determine the outcome.

And come Monday morning, events will have by-passed the Veep Debate and it will begin its journey to forgotten-hood. Most people will conclude that neither Biden or Palin is their first choice, and will return to focusing on the actual candidates, both of whom can be counted on to make some news fairly quickly after the debate – and in the case of McCain, if it goes really quite badly, probably even during the debate so that the story will be forgotten all the quicker.

But can the same be said of the Big Bail-Out? Surely, it seems, the Bail-Out is The Most Significant Event of Our Time. But my guess is that the same phenomenon will swallow it up before too long. Major economic events are still to come, perhaps even in the next few days if not weeks. The coming months will bring news of the effects of the so-called credit crisis as businesses begin failing in non-financial sectors. (Little discussed because of the Big Bail-out is the Small Bail-out ($25 billion) for the auto industry. I can remember when a much less impactful loan guarantee for Chrysler was thought to be the End of Capitalism As We Know It.) And the stories are coming will make us soon forget the days when we thought all we had to do was give a guy named “Hank” three-quarters of a trillion dollars and all would be well.

The “credit crisis” (which has been ongoing for some time now), and the “Wall St. Meltdown” are simply symptoms of a deeper and more serious problem. The truth is – and this is Something We All Know ™ -- we are experiencing a jobs crisis. The reason mortgage-backed securities (and other “asset-backed” securities like those backed by car loans and credit-card receivables) are losing value is because consumers aren’t making their payments. And the reason is that they do not have the funds to do so. (Of course, the market for these securities is crashing in part due to the fact that everyone is trying to unload them all at once – and the only takers are true bottom-feeders.) It’s not abusive lending tactics, nor pushing too hard to get more people into home ownership, or any of the other proposed “root” causes.

Too many Americans (and others elsewhere in Developed World) have not been earning enough for quite some time. In fact the explosion of consumer debt reflects the fact that consumers have not had other sources of funds, and have turned to borrowing to maintain lifestyles. Surely some have done so improvidently, borrowing for lavish homes, vacations, expensive vacations and schools, etc. But an awful lot of the debt that consumers have taken on has been to cover something fairly close to the basics – food, shelter, clothing, etc.

I believe we are nearing the end of a long cycle of rich and powerful people taking more and more from everyone else. I can recall a time when most companies provided pensions on which one could comfortably live. I can recall a time when most employees earned enough to cover a home, a car or two, a decent lifestyle – all on top of a non-working spouse. I can recall when employers needed to pay their employees enough so afford their products. (Yes, I am nearing “Old Codger” status.)

The consequences of this long decline will be far more wrenching than the $2500 that the government says we need to spend to “bail-out” “Wall St.” (The plan is, of course, not a bail-out at all but rather an expensive recapitalization, and the interests being bailed out aren’t the Wall St. financiers but the equity holders of the financial institutions that will benefit.) We are nearing a time far more like the Great Depression than most Americans now think, with challenges that will absolutely dwarf the current “Wall St. Crisis.”


Really? Is this the guy that some 50+ million Americans think should be our next President? It's bad enough that a majority of Arizonans have supported this guy.

John McCain is not different now than he was. All that has changed is that more people are paying more attention to him and discovering the truth: this is someone deeply unsuited to the Presidency.