Sunday, August 31, 2008

He's skinny but he's tough

The major event of last week was Senator Obama's acceptance speech at Invesco Field. All through the Democratic primaries, his toughness was repeatedly questioned: would he stand up to the mud-slinging Republicans? Or is he just a Kumbayah-chanting Kerry (of the 2004 vintage)?

In recent weeks, the GOP was throwing everything at Obama - calling him a vacuous celebrity, not ready to lead, inexperienced, etc. And the Obama campaign was not exactly hitting back as it should, said many observers. His "new politics" would fail when faced with the old politics. Some of this could be seen in the early days of the Convention, when not many attacks were made on John McCain.

But on Thursday, all those questions were answered. Obama showed that he is skinny, but he's tough. He went after George Bush. Tied John McCain to W and questioned John McCain's judgment and temperament. Proclaimed his goals (an aim-for-the-moon "freedom from foreign oil in 10 years"), laid out his economic agenda (e.g. tax cuts for 95% of American working families, eliminate capital gains tax on small businesses) and emphasized (libertarian) personal and mutual responsibility. He also made clear areas where people could find common ground: Surely, people could agree on the need to reduce unwanted pregnancies? Surely, people could hunt, while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals? And surely, everybody could agree on hospital visits by loving partners of gay patients, even if they could not be married? [That last list is for those who say unity is hogwash.]

As either Tom Brokaw or Brian Williams (I forget who) pointed out at the end, the "bring it on, John McCain" attitude was taken straight from Andrew Shepherd's call-to-arms in The American President. The country has been going in the wrong direction for the last eight years, and some liberalism could well help set it straight again.

Each time Obama delivers a major speech, I am compelled to call it The Speech. Whether it was The Speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention, The Speech on Race this March, or The Speech delivered earlier this week. Yes, Obama is not perfect, yes, he has faults. But the man is a genius, intelligent, and truly, as someone said, the question is not whether he deserves to be President, but whether we deserve him.

The Speech:

Sarah Palin: lying already

When Governor Palin proudly proclaimed in her acceptance speech that she told Congress "Thanks, but no thanks" about funds for the Bridge to Nowhere, she was being less than truthful. Mudflats, a blog out of Alaska, quotes the Ketchikan Daily News (via dkos, I think):

“People across the nation struggle with the idea of building a bridge because they’ve been under these misperceptions about the bridge and the purpose,’ said Palin, who described the link as the Ketchikan area’s potential for expansion and growth.

Palin said Alaska’s congressional delegation worked hard to obtain funding for the bridge and that she ‘would not stand in the way of the progress toward that bridge’.

‘We need to come to the defense of Southeast Alaska when proposals are on the table like the bridge and not allow the spinmeisters to turn this project or any other into something that’s so negative,’ Palin said.”
Ketchikan Daily News 9-28-06

[Ketchikan is the sparsely-populated destination of the Bridge.]

A report from the Anchorage Daily News (via Mudflats) also has a Ketchikan campaigner for Palin's gubernatorial run, Mike Elerding, saying he would not vote for the McCain/Palin ticket "because of Palin's subsequent neglect of Ketchikan and and her flip-flop on the "Ralph Bartholomew Veterans Memorial Bridge.""

Sarah Palin: For the Bridge to Nowhere before she was against it.
[Lifted from the ADN report!]

More: Slate's Timothy Noah points out that Alaska gets back $1.84 for each $1 it pays into the Federal Treasury, ably aided by the great Guv'nor, and other hypocrisies.

Women react to Sarah Palin

Alkibiades, a Clinton supporter who backed Obama once the primaries were over, says:
"Personally, I am laughing my ass off that he and Rove think this anti-choice, pro-creationist will sway our votes! I swear, everyday they insult my intelligence more."
[See comments to this.]

Newly-revived Kossack MyOwnClone, a self-described ex-PUMA says, "Don't you dare patronize me, John McCain!"

Also on dkos, Angry Mouse says, "No, Senator McCain, I am not an idiot!" Quote:
"You think I will forget every single one of my personal and political values just because there's a vagina on your pro-war, anti-woman, anti-science ticket. You, Senator McCain, are wrong."

[But as a true-PUMA would say, those posting on kos are not feminists. Just like those women and men who didn't support Senator Clinton. See, there are certain litmus tests to be accepted as such...]

A PUMA calls the Palin pick "F*cking wow." A commenter agrees and says the Democrats calling Palin inexperienced are sexist, as the Dems chose Obama.

Sullivan digs into Rasmussen internals and finds that among undecided voters, 59% think Governor Palin is unready to be President; 8% say the pick made them more likely to vote McCain while it made 31% less likely; and 69% view Palin as conservative, with 37% as very conservative.
[On the other hand, what about the ratings among women? How many of them vote with their vaginas, or want to spite the sexist Democrats by voting in someone who'd return us to the good old pre-1973 days?]

My own take is here. Crucial point: the pick of Sarah Palin takes the "experience" issue off the table, undercutting McCain's best argument against Obama. I'd add - being Mayor of a town of 6000 people, and leaving the place $20 million in the hole perfectly fits the Republican idea of success.

And from The Best F*cking News Team on TV:

Oh yeah.

Friday, August 29, 2008

[UPDATED 9/1] Hail Sarah!

I can’t believe a guy that handsome wouldn’t have some impact.” - John McCain on George Bush picking Dan Quayle in 1988. (via Wiki)

I wonder if that tells us all we need to know about John McCain's own VP pick, apart from the fact that she's a woman. I am a little surprised the news didn't leak out sooner - no news about Secret Service details, etc. Guess the McCain camp has better control over its secrets.

More seriously, on its face, the pick reinforces the "maverick" tag, as Governor Palin was elected on a reform platform. As a commenter pointed out on dailykos, Biden might also not go hammer-and-tongs at Governor Palin during the VP debate - that would turn off some more women (remember the NH Dem debate, after which Clinton won?)

The Democratic response has been to hit the "do you really want this person to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency?" theme, emphasizing that McCain is 72. The GOP comeback is to say "if you want a debate on experience, let's have it!" However, the Democratic approach may be backwards - what we need to emphasize, as kos points out, is that the Palin pick takes McCain's "Obama is inexperienced" argument off the table (something also picked up by Ramesh Ponnuru). Bill Burton, Obama's spokesman, appears to be picking this up in his later comments (I get this impression from his appearance on one of the TV shows) after the initial campaign reaction which Obama apparently didn't like. A better argument is made by Paul Begala, who says the pick calls into question McCain's judgment - as someone who has "always put country first," how could McCain have picked someone so unqualified to be VP?

UPDATE: Michael Kinsley (via dkos) does a fine job, saying

The whole "experience" debate is silly...
That's why the important point about Palin's lack of experience isn't about Palin. It's about McCain. And the question is not how his choice of Palin might complicate his ability to use the "experience" issue or whether he will have to drop experience as an issue. It's not about the proper role of experience as an issue. It's not about experience at all. It's about honesty. The question should be whether McCain -- and all the other Republicans who have been going on for months about Obama's dangerous lack of foreign policy experience -- ever meant a word of it. And the answer is apparently not.

[Emphasis added - RS]

While it is true Palin has not been Governor for long (20 months!), the same "experience" argument made against Obama may not hold - people could look at the VP as a President-in-training, the same way Clinton supporters wanted a Clinton-Obama ticket to "season" Obama. And McCain does not need that many Hillary supporters - just enough like Debra Whassername who believe McCain won't overturn Roe v Wade.

Chuck Todd said someone pointed out to him a 20-year-phenomenon - the GOP picks a newbie for the VP, the Dems ridicule it, but the GOP wins. See Nixon/Agnew '68; Bush/Quayle '88. McCain/Palin '08?
There are differences, though, that could be key to ensuring that is not the case:
First, as Obama showed in his acceptance speech (my take later), he is no Dukakis, Gore or Kerry.
Second, Democratic registrations, I believe, are up this year while Republican registrations are down. So to win, Obama needs to first unify Democrats, maybe cut the 25% or so of Clinton supporters who as of now support McCain for whatever reason by half - the Clintons' and Obama's own speeches should go some way toward accomplishing that goal. Also, Sarah Palin is no Hillary Clinton, as Representative Wasserman-Schulz said in an interview with NBC (via TNR) - Palin is strongly anti-abortion, a creationist, etc. - a traditional, dyed-in-the-wool Conservative. So if Hillary Clinton supporters were really in it for the issues, they should not vote for Palin.
Third, Obama just needs to stay even among independents, and get enough Obamacans - there is always some support bleed across party lines, and this needs to - and likely will - continue. So he should be reasonably Centrist, but not necessarily aggressively so - most people realize that the country is going in the wrong direction, so some leftward swing wouldn't hurt.
Fourth, Obama, from his days as a community organizer and the massive Chicago voter registration drive, puts a lot of emphasis on the ground game - registration and GOTV. With Palin on the opposite ticket, the GOP GOTV could improve - which makes new voter registration crucial.

Though the McCain campaign storyline says the offer to Palin was made on Thursday morning, I have a strong feeling that T-Paw was the pick till right before Obama's speech. After all, Governor Pawlenty abruptly canceled his press interviews on Thursday. However, after Obama's speech - with the "bring it on, bitches!" 'tude - the McCain campaign took a collective dump in their pants, and decided to throw a Hail Sarah.

Coda: Here's where I wrote Sarah Palin could be a future President (based on an NYT article), and here I say she could be a strong adversary as VP.
Coda 2: McCain probably took Palin as VP to provide "education and training" so a woman could be POTUS...
Coda 3: McCain's acceptance speech is scheduled for next Thursday, when the Giants open the NFL regular season against the Redskins. They might just finish in time for the speech... But that means the rest of the day won't be seen by many! I just wish the NFL had scheduled the Monday Vikings @ Packers game on Thursday instead... would have been beautiful!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Democratic Convention: Day 3

This was a good day - partly because I watched it on C-SPAN (though there were some audio glitches during Joe Biden's speech). No talking heads interrupting or (worse) replacing the speeches!
There were plenty of good people in-between the Big People. CSM Michele Jones, Lt Gen. Claudia Kennedy (first female 3-star General), Rear Admiral John Hutson (lifelong Republican) (the last two retired), Rep. Patrick Murphy, Tammy Duckworth, Beth Robinson (wife of a Marine, VA activist and MS patient).
Senator Kerry came out firing, comparing Candidate McCain to Senator McCain ("before McCain debates Obama, he has to debate himself!"), and getting the crowd to weigh in on Obama's judgment on Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Georgia vs McCain's erroneous acts/proclamations on the same issues. Kerry even came out and said the candidate who wanted to raise the discourse uses only personal attacks and questions Obama's patriotism. Where was this guy in 2004?!
President Clinton got a huge ovation that last a few minutes - he's easily one of the most popular Democrats. More importantly, he strongly endorsed Senator Obama's candidacy, from his (self-described) unique perspective as one of two Democratic Presidents alive. He trumpeted Obama's policies (not generic "Democratic" policies) as superior to McCain's, which I think was very good and effective. Clinton also said Obama is Ready to be President. Now I only hope Clinton doesn't make any more ambivalent statements going forward.
Finally, Joe Biden. He seemed to stumble occasionally, but that appears to be audio glitches in C-SPAN's transmission. Biden's son did a nice introduction, and Joe continued in the personal-story-vein, describing his childhood and his relationship with his mother ("if a bigger boy knocked me down, my mother told me to bloody his nose so I could walk the street the next day!") Described ordinary people worrying about their situation, immediate and future concerns. He also attacked John McCain, on his continuation of the Iraq War, on his (lack of) understanding of the economy, his support of the Bush tax cuts, his opposition to raising the minimum wage, and contrasted McCain's record with Obama's:
"...on the most important national security issues of our time, John McCain was wrong, and Barack Obama was proven right."
The speech might have been delivered better (which would have really brought the house down), but the content seemed quite good. And the NYT has picked up this impression - that Biden did what was needed - which will be good in driving the narrative.
It was great to see Mama Biden and Obama-Uncle Charles Payne. And the ending visual of Obama with the Family Biden was beautiful.
Some people (like Pat Buchanan on MSNBC!) criticize the Convention for not attacking McCain enough. However, the Convention is keeping Obama's promise of a relatively clean campaign, while still drawing a contrast with McCain and tying McCain to Bush (repeated Freudian slips of "George - I mean, John McCain!") And most importantly, I think Party Unity might have been achieved, except for a small minority of recalcitrant Clintonistas (aka PUMAs).

If most of Hillary Clinton's supporters, both women and senior citizens, come back to the fold, and I think Joe Biden can really help with the 65+-group, then Obama will have a much easier time ahead. Obama repeatedly gave shout-outs to the Clintons, which should have helped. Now it's entirely up to Obama - we will see how his speech goes tomorrow.

Still, as for a post-convention bounce for Obama - McCain's VP announcement and the Republican Convention next week would likely dampen it. But we will see... Though as David Plouffe says, the Obama campaign doesn't care about the horse-race, but are focused on 18 battleground states.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The case for Biden over Clinton as VP

As I wrote earlier, I had mixed feelings about Senator Joe Biden as VP. But the more I see, the more I like. His personal life story is strong - first sworn-in at his son's hospital bedside, takes the Amtrak almost every night to be with his kids, one of the least-wealthy Senators (his net worth is less than $200,000). Despite 35 years in DC, apparently no enemies. Author of the Violence Against Women Act ("the greatest breakthrough in civil rights for women in nearly two decades" according to NOW). And just one house!
In addition, Biden can speak with authority on foreign policy, and attack McCain/the Republicans with ease - allowing Obama to remain above the fray.
[Obama/Biden vs McCain/Romney? - two houses, $2 million net worth vs 20 houses, $350 million net worth. Bring on the foreign policy and tax policy debates, bitches!]

Now, Senator Clinton can attack McCain well - as she did a little while earlier ("no way, no how, no McCain!") I have already stated why she would have been a good pick - but also why she'd have been bad, as seen this week with McCain's numerous ads featuring her primary comments.

I just had another thought, though. Biden can make the charge that Republicans are wrong on national security, foreign policy, women's rights, other domestic issues with a lot of credibility. Yes, his 1987 campaign imploded after charges of plagiarism, and there have been other gaffes, but 1987 was two decades ago, and the gaffes are much less serious than McCain's.
On the other hand, the main problem with Senator Clinton is the public perception that she has a troubled relationship with the truth - see Bosnia-gate, for instance. Given her serious charges against Obama - that he does not have the required experience (two decades of public service notwithstanding) - in an official, very public role as the VP, she might not possess the same credibility as "everyman" Joe, as she might be seen as someone who will say anything to get elected. Clinton's main task, if any, over the next two months will be to get her supporters - part of the Democratic base - to back Obama. This is not such a visible role, and is limited to people who trust her.

Coda: I think Senator Clinton's speech tonight was very good, particularly her challenge to her supporters - "are you in this for me, or are you in this for the young Marine and others like him?"
Hopefully, folks look to Hillary more than to Bill, who continues to be publicly ambivalent toward Obama - in the latest instance, President Clinton will apparently not attend Obama's speech at Invesco. Maybe it's as TPM reader JM writes - the old President/new President relationship is always fraught with difficulty. Update: Apparently, departing early is "standard practice" for President Clinton, who did likewise in 2000 and 2004.
Coda 2: Governors Mark Warner and Brian Schweitzer also gave excellent speeches, as did Rep. Nydia Velasquez. Lilly Ledbetter's story was also quite touching, and an example of the injustice that John "women need training and education" McCain will enable (link via Women on Business).

Friday, August 22, 2008

Biden for VP: Mixed feelings

I am pissed that I didn't get a text message or an e-mail, but instead the news finally leaked out (presumably, after Obama and his capos went to bed). On frickin' CNN - Larry King - and the AP.
Also, Biden is Mr DC - a US Senator since he was 29, and now he's 65. Longer than McCain has been a Senator. More Dick Cheney (WY/DE's 3 EVs) than LBJ (winning TX). Proposed partitioning of Iraq as per ethnic affiliation - India/Pakistan are still suffering the effects of 1947 (as commenter Marshall pointed out on dailykos).
On the other hand - "a noun, and a verb and 9/11." Can be pithy (via Buzzflash) and feisty as needed (when he's not verbose). Georgia (Europe) invited him after the Russian invasion (as opposed to McCain sending Graham/Lieberman unasked).

Still, I hope this is more "Dewey beats Truman", part deux.

UPDATE (8/23, 0811): That was real. Confirmed by the text message I received at 0135 MT. Awoke me, but that's OK - the Obama campaign saved itself by sending out the text at the risk of waking people up, showing they didn't want CNN or other traditional media to break the news. But once it was out, they got on the ball ASAP. Good - I am mollified.

UPDATE 2 (8/25): So some people (PUMAs? Republicans for obvious reasons?) say the text message, sent out close to 3 AM ET Saturday, was a slap in Senator Clinton's face, in response to her "3 AM" ad in the primaries. See my take above (8/23 0811 UPDATE), which is also confirmed by Robert Gibbs, senior Obama campaign adviser.
PUMA counter: Of course Gibbs would say that, seeing the reaction from us!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Mark Warner for VP?

Since I haven't received an e-mail yet, I can repeat part of (my) last night's TPM post here:

Governor Kaine may be the pick, based on my previous post on David Leonhardt's piece on Obamanomics. But...

On the other hand, I just had this idea - others have thought of it (here's a great post). Former Governor Mark Warner is easily coasting to the VA Senate seat, and is enormously popular - more so than Kaine. Could Obama pick Warner? If the Democratic Presidential ticket reads Obama/Warner, it is quite likely that VA will turn blue, giving Obama the election (even without OH). And Governor Kaine would nominate another Democrat to replace Warner, retaining that gain... Is that such a crazy thought?

[Kaine could be given a high administration post once his Governorship is complete...]

Pragmatism as Obama's core economic theory

David Leonhardt has a fascinating piece in the NYT/Magazine on Obamanomics. It is also 8 web-pages long, so here are some interesting tidbits [italics are verbatim quotes]. However, I strongly encourage a reading of the original article.

Obama: “My core economic theory is pragmatism, figuring out what works.

Obama combines the Republican tax-cuts – but for middle class families, families making less than $250k/year – with higher taxes for the well-to-do and investments in infrastructure projects that create more jobs. Combine the higher taxes on the wealthy with a winding-down of the Iraq War, and that makes some headway to reducing the federal deficit (which is lower now at 2.5% of GDP compared to 4.7% in 1992). Still, Obama considers the deficit only one of many long-term problems (“[back in 1993] I probably wouldn’t have been as obsessed with deficit reduction”), with global warming, health care and the aftermath of the housing crisis more important issues. [Shades of “the deficit does not matter”?]
The investment in infrastructure also helps laid-off, ex-manufacturing blue-collar workers who may not be that interested in healthcare or other service jobs even with the option of re-training.

While Chicago School thinking affected him, he says his grandmother had the biggest impact, and the existence of competing theories in his formative years made him “ask questions of both sides and… synthesize approaches.
There is plenty of evidence that this synthesis isn’t merely a part of a candidate’s inevitable tack to the center for a general election. In Obama’s memoir, “Dreams From My Father,” he sympathetically recounts a conversation he had with a Kenyan farmer, in which the man complains both about rich people who won’t pay their fair share of taxes and about burdensome government regulations on coffee growing. In Obama’s second book, “The Audacity of Hope,” he goes further: “Reagan’s central insight — that the liberal welfare state had grown complacent and overly bureaucratic, with Democratic policy makers more obsessed with slicing the economic pie than with growing that pie — contained a good deal of truth.”

Obama campaign's interest in behavioral economics/market friendliness:
Companies have to set aside a portion of their employees' earnings in a 401(k), though the employee can choose to either save more or nothing at all. Make health insurance affordable through government intervention, but then let people (the market) buy it without a mandate. On climate change: auction emission permits, so that companies willing to pay more (Presumably, these would be the most efficient companies, the ones able to produce the most energy (and profits) for a given amount of greenhouse-gas pollution.) can buy them via the free market, rather than giving away permits - McCain's plan - that allows influence peddling. They [auctions] would raise billions of dollars for the government, money that could then be returned to taxpayers to offset the higher energy prices created by the emissions cap. [Compare McCain and Obama on cap-and-trade permits here.]

The Tax Policy Center, a research group run by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, has done the most detailed analysis of the Obama and McCain tax plans, and it has published a series of fascinating tables. For the bottom 80 percent of the population — those households making $118,000 or less — McCain’s various tax cuts would mean a net savings of about $200 a year on average. Obama’s proposals would bring $900 a year in savings. So for most people, Obama is the tax cutter in this campaign. [This includes any changes in corporate tax rates that might affect stockholders.]

The second criticism is that Obama’s tax increases would send an already-weak economy into a tailspin.
See Clinton’s tax hike in 1993 and Bush’s tax-cuts, and their consequences.
At the very least, Clinton’s increases did no discernible economic damage. Rubin, citing academic work on tax rates, made the case to me that rates under an Obama administration would not be nearly high enough to stifle innovation.

Since the dawn of the Age of Reagan, the idea that government spending can be a good thing for the economy has been out of favor, even among Democrats. But it’s now making something of a comeback, particularly within Obama’s camp. His agenda calls for about $50 billion in new annual spending on various investments, including infrastructure, alternative energy and scientific research.
I came to think of this part of Obama’s agenda as the Virginia model, thanks to Tim Kaine, Virginia’s governor, who was one of the first Democrats to endorse Obama. Last year, Kaine began making the case to Goolsbee that the campaign should view Virginia as a model for the rest of the country. In just a few decades, the state has managed to transform itself in precisely the way that economists think the United States now must — to a higher-wage economy with a more-educated population, a place that has prospered even while losing many of its old-line manufacturing jobs. And it did so with a crucial shove from the government.
DOD/DARPA investments in the military complex and the Internet, which led to the tech industry. VA’s per capita income is 7% higher than the national average. [Veepstakes alert! Does this mean Tim Kaine is the VP? I think Obama did say he wanted someone furious about the state of the economy and who would help fix it...]

“Two things,” he said, as we were standing outside the first-class bathroom. “One, just because I think it really captures where I was going with the whole issue of balancing market sensibilities with moral sentiment. One of my favorite quotes is — you know that famous Robert F. Kennedy quote about the measure of our G.D.P.?”
I didn’t, I said.
“Well, I’ll send it to you, because it’s one of the most beautiful of his speeches,” Obama said.
In it, Kennedy argues that a country’s health can’t be measured simply by its economic output. That output, he said, “counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them” but not “the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play.”
The second point Obama wanted to make was about sustainability. The current concerns about the state of the planet, he said, required something of a paradigm shift for economics. If we don’t make serious changes soon, probably in the next 10 or 15 years, we may find that it’s too late.

Monday, August 18, 2008

[Updated 8/21] The case for party unity

I have previously reacted badly to repeated news stories about PUMAs and other Clinton-supporters wanting to sink Obama. I feel no different now; just a little less intensely so. Having lived for almost eight years under a Republican administration (almost my entire stay in the US), I am just thirsty for some change from the bellicose posturing* that has embodied US policy, both domestic and foreign. And these die-hard Clintonistas (most appear to be women) are not making things any easier.
[*Props to Senator Evan Bayh for putting this term in my head.]
Thankfully, there are people like Kathryn Oberly, a strong Clinton backer, who's now with the Obama campaign. And commenter Alkibiades, who donated to Obama even while grieving for Clinton's loss. But the 25% of Democrats who are now either with McCain or undecided and are likely Clinton supporters, could make a crucial difference to the outcome of this November's election.
I really hope Obama picks Kathleen Sebelius or (even better!) Janet Napolitano as his VP. Folks who think a female VP pick should be Clinton only do a disservice to the many other competent women in this country, or else belong to a cult of (Clintonian) personality - I don't know which is worse.

But whoever the VP pick is, I implore Democrats and Dem-leaning independents to remember all the things that made the past eight years a complete disaster - a rush to war in Iraq, tax-breaks in the time of war, woefully underfunded NCLB, persistently-administration-favoring/anti-civil-rights Justices Alito and Roberts, manipulation of science, pushing of religion under the guise of academic freedom... And the certain guarantee that many, if not all, of these positions and policies, will be continued and even built upon/exceeded, if that is possible, under a McCain administration.
The choice this November is not between the lesser of two evils, as many Naderites thought back in 2000. No - this is a choice between "reasonably right" and "simply wrong."

Coda: (8/21) I just did my bit towards relieving Senator Clinton's primary debt. Despite President Clinton's classically-Clintonian back-handed support of Senator Obama's candidacy and praise for Senator McCain, and hoping that the contribution goes to some small-time vendor, not Mark frakking Penn. And yes, it was legal - I am a permanent resident of the US.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Indiana Senators!

Just saw Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) on Bob Schieffer's Face the Nation, going up against MN Governor Tim Pawlenty. [Is it just me, or do Pawlenty and Bayh look like long-lost twins?]
Bayh was quite good - on-message, repeatedly citing Senator Obama's superior judgment on Iraq, Afghanistan, the budget deficit and even Georgia (the one in Europe). Pawlenty kept recycling The Surge, but Bayh kept going "if we had listened to Obama, we wouldn't be in Iraq in the first place!" And kept calm all through out... Promote his man and attack the other, but with a smile. He reinforced his claim on the Democratic VP slot.
[Pawlenty was decent as well, bringing up McCain's performance during yesterday's Rick Warren forum in comparison to Obama, reaching much the same conclusion as First Read - McCain is direct and knows his values, while Obama appears halting, unsure, etc. - though First Read also called Obama's performance thoughtful and inclusive.]

Then, managed to catch the end of Senator Dick Lugar's (R-IN) appearance on Wolf Blitzer. Lugar - who has collaborated with Obama on nuclear non-proliferation issues - said there were no loose nukes in Georgia, but did say - unprompted - that the US has a long history of engagement on nuclear disarmament with Russia, which is still on-going. So while the Russian incursion into Georgia cannot be excused, the US cannot forget it has its own agenda with Russia:
"These are facts of life in which the United States' relationship with Russia, thank goodness, for 16 years, has worked steadily toward nonproliferation and toward reduction of threats to the U.S. Not to Georgia, but to the U.S. now.
We have got to keep our eye on the ball. This doesn't excuse brutal actions by the Russians. They took advantage of a situation in which we were far away. But at the same time, we need an agenda with Russia, even as we are discussing the agenda with Georgia."

Back to Schieffer - he ended Face the Nation saying the Presidential candidates should not meddle directly with foreign conflicts, forgetting that there is only one POTUS at a time... I wonder if that's a dig at McCain sending his own envoys to Georgia.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Democratic VP pick

Bil Browning writes at HuffPo that Evan Bayh will be named Obama's VP on Wednesday, partly based on the announced schedule of the Obama campaign - an event Tuesday afternoon in Indiana, but departure on Wednesday afternoon without any events in-between. Browning updates his post at Bilerico to later say this may not be the case, while Howey Politics says Obama could just be spending the night at home in Chicago (via Bilerico). Rumors abound...

Evan Bayh could be a decent pick - two-term Governor and two-term Senator in a traditionally Red state, that is a toss-up this year and could turn Blue. But he apparently was front-and-center in supporting the initial decision to invade Iraq. Further, the (possibly re-elected) Republican Governor Mitch Daniels could replace Bayh with a Republican for the next two years, which would reduce the Democratic Senators count by one (but as Sylvia Smith points out, the potential Dem pickup in Alaska post the Ted Stevens indictment could compensate for this loss). I wonder how Susan Bayh's directorship of many companies - in areas where Senator Bayh apparently cast many votes - will play out.

I would personally prefer either Kansas Governor Kathleen Sibelius or Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, both of whom have been re-elected in Republican states with good majorities. Sibelius is apparently personally pro-life, but has repeatedly vetoed legislation banning abortion (after all, this is Kansas). Napolitano has called for federal comprehensive immigration reform, based on her experience as both a US attorney and as the AZ Governor (via Wikipedia). Both were named among five best Governors in America in November 2005 by Time magazine. So they are excellent candidates - who happen to be women. Of course, since both of them endorsed Barack Obama during the Democratic primaries, an Obama/Sibelius or an Obama/Napolitano ticket may not be the "unity" ticket some see in with Obama/Bayh. And Kansas is unlikely to turn blue, while Arizona may well remain red, given recent polls.

Still, I'd love to see either Sibelius or (especially!) Napolitano on the ticket. Probably not Senator Hillary Clinton; this video has Mitt Romney using her words twice to criticize Obama, while an Ohio Republican ad just came out featuring Clinton yelling "Shame on you, Barack Obama!" Not to mention the fact that the Clintons represent Washington-as-usual...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

We are the ones we've been waiting for!

I have heard that quote from Barack Obama being lampooned as a sign of his alleged arrogance and elitism. The refrain runs, "who are we, some specially-privileged upper-crust?"
I always took that as an indication that we, the residents of the US and citizens of the world, need to take charge of our own affairs and our destiny. We can't wait for Government to fix problems; change begins from the ground-up*. In other words, personal responsibility.
Now, that is not a mission usually associated with big government, tax-and-spend liberals, the alleged-champions of welfare kings and queens. That is supposed to be Republican territory, they who abhor affirmative action, government-controlled social security, and (I believe) Medicare.
Yet, in this election, it is the Democrat who says people need to stop relying on Government and instead, the common people should take measures to change the quality of their life. No wonder Republicans refuse to see this interpretation of the refrain (not unique to me), and instead try to paint it as a "we are better than you" theme.
I wonder if Obama should give a speech explaining what he means when he says "We are the ones we've been waiting for." He's good at that.

*That pretty much sums up my interpretation of Jeffersonian democracy (I have never studied political science, but have read Jefferson's autobiography).

Friday, August 1, 2008

The best takedown of McCain's Britney-Paris-Elitism approach

Forget the TV talking heads and media pundits, most of who are too chicken to call John McCain's campaign for the lie-filled, gutter politics it is (honorable exceptions: Joe Klein, and this, via TPM; also Eugene Robinson, via Klein; and Andrea Mitchell on Landstuhl). Here's the best takedown of McCain's recent attacks:

Oh yeah.