As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Fourthbranch Primary

I think this could be a bigger October surprise than anything else.

DICK CHENEY: And in three days we'll choose a new steward for the presidency and begin a new chapter in our history. It's the biggest decision that we make together as Americans. A lot turns on the outcome. I believe the right leader for this moment in history is Senator John McCain. John is a man who understands the danger facing America. He's a man who has looked into the face of evil and not flinched. He's a man who's comfortable with responsibility and has been since he joined the armed forces at the age of 17. He's earned our support and confidence, and the time is now to make him commander-in-chief. I'm delighted to support John McCain and I'm pleased that he's chosen a running mate with executive talent, toughness and common sense, our next vice president in Sarah Palin.

Of all the times for him to come out of the bunker...

I LOVED the Obama campaign's response.

President Bush is sitting out the last few days before the election. But earlier today, Dick Cheney came out of his undisclosed location and hit the campaign trail. He said that he is, and I quote, "delighted to support John McCain."

I'd like to congratulate Senator McCain on this endorsement because he really earned it. That endorsement didn't come easy. Senator McCain had to vote 90 percent of the time with George Bush and Dick Cheney to get it. He served as Washington's biggest cheerleader for going to war in Iraq, and supports economic policies that are no different from the last eight years. So Senator McCain worked hard to get Dick Cheney's support.

But here's my question for you, Colorado: do you think Dick Cheney is delighted to support John McCain because he thinks John McCain's going to bring change? Do you think John McCain and Dick Cheney have been talking about how to shake things up, and get rid of the lobbyists and the old boys club in Washington?

Colorado, we know better. After all, it was just a few days ago that Senator McCain said that he and President Bush share a "common philosophy." And we know that when it comes to foreign policy, John McCain and Dick Cheney share a common philosophy that thinks that empty bluster from Washington will fix all of our problems, and a war without end in Iraq is the way to defeat Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda terrorists who are in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

So George Bush may be in an undisclosed location, but Dick Cheney's out there on the campaign trail because he'd be delighted to pass the baton to John McCain. He knows that with John McCain you get a twofer: George Bush's economic policy and Dick Cheney's foreign policy – but that's a risk we cannot afford to take.

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The Leaked Surprise

I don't know if these 11th-hour smears are going to work at a time when the total financial meltdown tends to focus the mind a bit. But if undecideds were looking for an excuse to vote against Senator Obama, they've been handed it. It appears that Obama has an aunt from Kenya who is living in Boston illegally after her request for asylum was denied four years ago. Illegal!!!1! By the way, Barack Obama doesn't seem to know this aunt well or have any sort of relationship with her.

The interesting part of this is how the asylum denial was discovered. The quoted portion is from this AP story.

"Information about the deportation case was disclosed and confirmed by two separate sources, one of them a federal law enforcement official. The information they made available is known to officials in the federal government, but the AP could not establish whether anyone at a political level in the Bush administration or in the McCain campaign had been involved in its release."

To quote Josh Marshall:

That's about as transparent a red flag as an outfit like the AP is usually willing to give. And there you have it. Quite likely working in concert with the McCain campaign, a Bush administration official is leaking details on an immigration case to try to help McCain three days before the election. It's shades of Bush I's riffling through Bill Clinton's passport files just before the 1992 election in a desperate last minute gambit as they were swirling down the drain.

Guess what? THAT'S illegal. And unlike some random relative who has no relationship to Obama, it's likely this was carried out at the highest levels of either the Bush Administration or the McCain campaign.

We'll see if it has any impact - I think it will be minimal. But the circumstances of the leak ought to be investigated as well.

UPDATE: Things that could have driven the news cycle as last-minute revelations about McCain that were ignored by the larger media:

1) A mysterious donor who gave $70,000 to John McCain in one day and $269,000 over the course of a year.

2) John and Cindy used military jets for vacation trips to Bermuda back in 1993.

3) A potential fatal car crash back in 1964.

4) McCain pushed regulators to approve a land swap for a key contributor.

Any or all of these could have been in the genre of these last-minute smears, but you know, that wouldn't be sporting.

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Senate Picture

Here's what we're looking at heading into GOTV weekend. Virginia, New Mexico and Colorado are going to be walks - score two for the Udall family in the US Senate. New Hampshire and Alaska look good - I'm still worried about a Stevens backlash, but the polls are showing strong late movement against the convicted felon. Oregon is moving away from Gordon Smith, and I think Jeff Merkley's going to take that race.

So that's six seats, with 9 needed - really 10 due to the Lieberman factor - to get to the magic 60 votes (which isn't all that magic, as I've explained). There's North Carolina, where Elizabeth Dole has debased herself by releasing a second ad harping on Kay Hagan's fundraiser with "Godless Americans". It's really absurd, but she's going with it. And it appears to be backfiring.

As Elizabeth Dole released her second attack ad trying to use Kay Hagan’s faith to attack her, it’s clear that North Carolinians are not buying it. Every major newspaper in the state (listed below), her fellow Republicans and the North Carolina Council of Churches (letter below) agree – Elizabeth Dole’s ads are “indecent,” a “gross misrepresentation,” “worse than dishonest,” and “beyond the bounds of acceptable political disagreement.”

“The overwhelming reaction to this ad has been disgust – directed at Senator Dole – for stooping to this low and attacking a fellow Christian,” said Hagan Campaign Communications Director Colleen Flanagan. “Senator Dole knows Kay is a strong Christian, a former Sunday school teacher and a member of Greensboro’s First Presbyterian Church, and she knows that her advertisements are lies. But what North Carolinians know is that these kind of political attacks won’t create one good job or help turn our economy back around. These are the issues folks here are concerned about and looking for leadership on, and these are the issues that will decide this election.”

Yesterday the North Carolina Council of Churches sent a letter to Senator Dole asking her to remove her ad, saying, “As you no doubt know, Sen. Hagan is a faithful and active member and leader in the First Presbyterian Church of Greensboro. To say or even to suggest that that outstanding congregation has chosen a lay leader who doesn’t believe in God is appalling and should be offensive to churches and church leaders throughout the state.

I think this is going to hurt Dole enough to put a nail in her coffin.

Then there's Minnesota, which has had a crazy last week. Norm Coleman sued Al Franken for defamation of character (Hagan actually did the same to Dole over the "Godless" ad), while court documents showed that a CEO was pressured to give $75,000 to Coleman and his family. Coleman has shows flashes of being fabulously corrupt in this campaign (having his DC rent, his utilities, and his suits paid for by lobbyists and contributors), and this is part and parcel. There's more evidence on this particular case here. The presence of former Sen. Dean Barkley (he was appointed by Jesse Ventura to replace the late Paul Wellstone for his final two months in office) on the ticket as an independent makes this completely unpredictable. This is going to be the closest race of the night.

And finally, we have the race in Georgia, where a huge African-American turnout would appear to help progressive Democrat Jim Martin. But Saxby Chambliss says that can be a rallying cry.

The Republican is outwardly confident, but there's urgency in his voice as he tours North Georgia, trying to boost turnout in his predominately white base: "The other folks are voting," he bluntly tells supporters.

Just in case anyone was confused about who those "other folks" are, Chambliss gave this quote to the New York Times:

The development is not lost on Mr. Chambliss. "There has always been a rush to the polls by African-Americans early," he said at the square in Covington, a quick stop on a bus tour as the campaign entered its final week. He predicted the crowds of early voters would motivate Republicans to turn out. "It has also got our side energized, they see what is happening," he said.

Nice to see a sitting United States Senator all but yell "race war!"

The thing about Georgia is that the winner must get past 50% or there's a runoff. With a Libertarian and a couple minor-party candidates on the ballot, that's entirely possible. So we could have an election between Martin and Chambliss in December, with the prize of 60 votes in the Senate hanging in the balance.

Kentucky, Nebraska, Maine and Texas may also surprise, but it's unlikely. I think the above represents the top level of competitiveness.

...regarding Kentucky, this is disgusting and sleazy and I hope it backfires, even though Mitch McConnell is a scumbag in his own right.

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Do It For Studs

When I lived in Chicago about a decade ago, I would hear Studs Terkel often on the radio and on the local PBS station. He was a serious scholar in the way that Alan Lomax was a serious scholar; his "field recordings" offered an oral history of work, of the middle class. It was impossible to find a hint of irony or cynicism in him - he gave the working man value. As it turns out his family emigrated from the same area of Poland as my family, which may be why I found him so comfortable and familiar. And more than anything, he was a listener, allowing the opinions and life experiences of others to inform his own - in fact, just the focus on the dignity of work told you all you needed to know about the man.

Ezra Klein, who actually met Studs, had this appreciation.

A few years ago, when it was fashionable for folks on the Right to accuse liberals of lacking a canon, I used to bring Studs up in reply. His books were as authentic and fundamental texts as liberalism could ever desire. He understood that the school of thought meant little if it could not understand the struggles of life as it is lived, because then it could not ease them. He understood that to be a decent movement, we had to listen. And no one did it better than him. Read Working and Race. Read The American Dream. Hell, read Will the Circle Be Unbroken? In the introduction to that book, Terkel reveals an odd superstition: He never sleeps with his arms crossed before him, because that is how the dead are lain to rest. After I read that, I never slept with my arms crossed, either.

You hear that, Studs? I listened.

As we get out the vote this weekend and attempt to create a progressive wave, we now have someone to point to, someone who never forgot the building blocks of public service - the regular person and their challenges. This new economy that we're going to have to create must have that philosophy embedded inside it. Fortunately, I think Barack Obama is as good a listener as his fellow Chicagoan.

So this weekend, do it for Studs.

[ Find Your Polling Place | Voting Info For Your State | Know Your Voting Rights | Report Voting Problems ]

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Chuck Todd Catches Up

If he were still at the Hotline this would be more specific, but unlike so many of the California punditocracy, he knows what a wave election means.

California: As unpopular as Bush supposedly has been in California, he only lost the state by 11 points in both 2000 and 2004. So what happens with McCain in '08? I think Obama's margin in this state will tell us a lot about Democratic enthusiasm among the base. Anything above 15 points for Obama probably means he will have some coattails down the ballot. And frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if some two to four GOP incumbents go down, shocking folks in Washington (Reps. Mary Bono-Mack? David Dreier?) No one is safe in this Blue state.

As we know, the latest Field Poll had Obama up by 22. And that big a spread is going to cause some disruption.

I hear that Dana Rohrabacher dropped a last-minute mailer to Republicans, imploring them to turn out. The latest registration numbers show that Dan Lungren is in serious, serious trouble. This is not going to be a normal election year in California. And it's going to put the lie to the primary rationale for redistricting that Arnold Schwarzenegger is peddling to reporters.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said the Kremlin in Russia sees more turnover than the statehouse in Sacramento, as he made the case for Proposition 11 Thursday in a conference call.

"We have to make our politicians responsive to the people, not to the party," Schwarzenegger said, joined by state AARP president Jeannine English and national AARP CEO Bill Novelli.

Well, the Kremlin is going to see some shakeups this year. I don't know if people are going to make the connection between all that turnover and the inherent fallacy that re-gerrymandering would allow for more competition, but maybe some of that late money flowing to No on Prop. 11 can make that case. Because the facts are that the Yacht Party is on the verge of being wiped out, at the state and federal level. And no redistricting had anything to do with it.

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Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Random Ten

I'm feeling really good about our chances across the board. I'm doing a lot of GOTV this weekend, so I may not be checking in as much as normal, but I'll try to do what I can. As for now, some tunes.

Good Fortune - PJ Harvey
Die Gedanken Sind Frei - Brazilian Girls
Blues From Brother George Jackson - Archie Shepp
mighty healthy (Nobody remix) - Ghostface Killah
Hands Away - Interpol
Elephant Stone - The Stone Roses
My Humps - Alanis Morrissette (OK, go find this and download it. Awesome.)
Gone For Good - Morphine
Don't Get Lost In Heaven - Gorillaz
Someday - The Strokes

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New Voter Registration Stats - 17.3 Million Californians Registered To Vote

Congratulations to Debra Bowen. Under her leadership, a record 17.3 million Californians are registered to vote in the November election. That is 74.56% of total eligible voters, which isn't too bad. Bowen released the statistics today, and there are lots of interesting numbers in there.

Here are the county stats. Democrats have a 2.25 million voter lead on Republicans, and represent 44.40% of the electorate, as opposed to 31.37% for the Yacht Party. Riverside and Imperial Counties are still below the average for eligible voters (both around 65%), but well up from earlier in the year, a great boon for Manuel Perez' efforts. Orange County is among the best for percentage of eligible voters registered, with 86%. Democrats have taken control in San Bernardino County, with a 10,000-vote lead. And in San Diego County, the spread is an incredible 400 votes (539,560 for Democrats, 539,939 for Republicans).

Let's go to the Congressional stats.

CA-03: Republicans outnumber Democrats now by just 9,000 votes, a difference of only 2.19%. If Bill Durston doesn't pull off the win, this is the #1 targeted seat for 2010.
CA-04: Still a hefty lead for registered Republicans, 45.94% to 31.06%.
CA-11: Registered Republicans still outnumber registered Dems here, but by only 3,800 votes (about 1%).
CA-26: Now a 20,000 vote spread (around 5.5% lead for Republicans).
CA-45: Republicans outnumber Democrats by 16,000 votes (4.6%). This seat also needs to be targeted heavily now and in the future.
CA-46: 31.91% for Democrats, 44.07% for Republicans.
CA-50: 31.35% for Dems, 40.55% for Republicans.

Here's the Assembly.

AD-10: Literally 100 votes separate Democrats and Republicans here. But you know, it's hopelessly gerrymandered.
AD-15: Democrats have 12,000 more votes than Republicans (3.5%).
AD-26: Democrats outnumber Republicans by 5,000 votes (2.4%).
AD-30: A 13,000 vote lead for Democrats.
AD-36: Again, 100 votes separate Democrats and Republicans. I didn't realize it was this close. Linda Jones has a real shot.
AD-37: Republicans have the advantage by 16,000 votes (around 6%).
AD-38: Republicans have a 9,000 vote advantage.
AD-63: That's only an 8,000 vote lead for Republicans.
AD-78: Democrats have fully 26,000 more registered voters than Republicans (a lead of 11%).
AD-80: It's a 15,000 vote lead here, 44.99% to 37.17%.

Six seats flipping, given the expected big turnout, is definitely a possibility.

The State Senate shows gains in SD-12 (47.33% Democratic, 33.41% Republican), SD-15 (40.86% Democratic, 34.82% Republican) and SD-19, where Democrats hold the registration advantage by a thin 1,058 votes. 2/3 is within reach by 2010.

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Prop. 5: The Sad Legacy Of Bipartisan Failure On Prison Policy

Yesterday, every living governor in the state stood together at a news event to oppose Prop. 5. The Yes on 5 campaign had exactly the right response - this shows what a bipartisan failure prison policy has been in California, and continues to be. Arianna Huffington has a stellar post about this today.

Here is picture that sums up much that is wrong with American politics. Five governors of California, Democrats and Republicans, joining forces to oppose something that is indisputably in the public interest.

This is an image that could be repeated, with different faces, in region after region of our country, involving issue after issue. Public officials standing against the public good, with the disastrous results on display from Detroit to Wall Street. All suffering from the same destructive force: the power of entrenched special interests to cloud the vision of our leaders, causing them to thwart good sense, good legislation, and the will of the people

Huffington rightly points out the horrific state of California prisons.

California's prisons are a budget-busting debacle. There are currently more than 170,000 inmates crammed into prisons designed to hold 100,000 people. Around 70,000 of these prisoners are nonviolent offenders, with over half of them incarcerated for a drug offense.

A large part of the problem is a parole system the New York Times recently called "perhaps the most counterproductive and ill-conceived" in the U.S.. California's recidivism rate is 70 percent -- twice the national average. This stems in no small measure from the state's insistence on treating paroled murderers the same way as paroled nonviolent drug offenders. They all spend 3-5 years on parole. This overburdens parole officers, who end up spending very little time with any of their charges -- violent or nonviolent (According to the Times, 80 percent of California parolees have fewer than two 15-minute meetings with their parole officer per month.) Wouldn't it make more sense to keep a closer watch on rapists and killers than on nonviolent drug offenders?

As a result of this dysfunctional system, prison costs have risen 50 percent since 2000, to over $10 billion a year -- close to 10% of the state's budget (and roughly the same amount California spends on higher education). It costs $46,000 a year to keep a nonviolent prisoner in the state behind bars. Is it any wonder California is gushing red ink?

And as bad as this sounds, she leaves something out. The health care system is so substandard that California is systematically violating the Constitutional rights of everyone it incarcerates, subjecting them to cruel and unusual punishment. And even after they have been forced by court orders to remedy the situation, the state has refused to do so, setting up a showdown and a possible contempt-of-court order against the Governor himself. This is how big the failure of leadership is on our prisons. The only thing politicians can agree on is that we must keep scaring the citizenry into warehousing prisoners over and over, without trying to actually treat and rehabilitate them.

Huffington then describes Prop. 5.

Prop 5 is structured to build on the proven success of Prop 36, a law promoting drug treatment over incarceration for nonviolent drug offenders. It was approved by 61 percent of California voters in 2000, despite almost unanimous opposition from public officials. Since being enacted, Prop 36 has saved California taxpayers $2 billion -- and graduated 84,000 people who, according to studies, are far less likely to become repeat offenders [...]

Yet Prop 5 is struggling because of a very powerful special interest: the prison guards union. It has funneled $1.8 million into the campaign to derail Prop 5.

For the guards, prison overcrowding means more overtime pay. So the state's prison industrial complex has unleashed the full force of its financial power -- funding an array of ads that blatantly mischaracterize Prop 5. Truth has gone out the window, replaced by overheated claims that the initiative is a "drug dealer's bill of rights," "a get out of jail free card" for meth dealers, and a law that will allow parents to abuse their kids and escape punishment.

Goodbye reform, hello fear. The special interests are, once again, overwhelming the public interest.

The prison guards are powerful enough that everyone who might want to be Governor - Jerry Brown, DiFi - would rather break with the stated position of the Democratic Party than defy them. And so these tough on crime Democrats want to jump back into the rabbit hole and further the absolute and utter failure - maybe the biggest failure in the state, demonstrably so - to stay on the good side of a union who can lavish them with campaign contributions. It's utterly disgusting and shameful.

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Don't These Conservatives Know They Are Violating The First Amendment?

Here's Sen. Jon Ensign (R-NV) saying that Sarah Palin is not qualified to be President.

GILLAN: do you think she’s qualified to be President?

ENSIGN: well, I do not think that Barack Obama or her are experienced enough to be President of the United States - neither one of them, and Hillary Clinton was much more qualified to be President than Barack Obama was, but that who the nominee is. John McCain is much more qualified than Barack Obama and certainly Joe Biden is much more qualified than Sarah Palin is. I’d rather have the most qualified person at the top of the ticket, not number two.

Ensign joins Chuck Hagel (R-NE), who said "There is no question that this candidate is arguably the thinnest-résumé candidate for Vice-President in the history of America.” And he joins former Republican Secretary of State and McCain supporter Lawrence Eagleburger, who said "I don't think at the moment she is prepared to take over the reins of the presidency." And Colin Powell. And Reagan official Ken Duberstein.

Now I know a lot of these guys, at least the ones who have endorsed Obama, are just jumping on the bandwagon. But they are all using Palin as the pivot point, and in particular pointing out that she's not qualified. Well, the Alaska Governor has news for them. "You're violating the First Amendment!"

HOST: Is the news media doing a good job—are you getting a fair shake, are the Republicans getting a fair shake this year?

PALIN: I don't think they're doing their job when they suggest that calling a candidate out on their record, their plans for this country, and their associations is mean-spirited or negative campaigning. If they convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations, 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.


I wish these Republicans - as well as Republican media figures like David Brooks, Peggy Noonan, and George Will - would have checked their pocket Constitutions before criticizing Palin. Now they're all going to have to go to jail. Sad.

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The Last Bit Of Bile

This attempt to trump up an association between Barack Obama and Rashid Khalidi, as if it's a problem for a politician to know a world-renown scholar, is really sickening. So much so, in fact, that even the Washington Post editorial board disapproves.

For the record, Mr. Khalidi is an American born in New York who graduated from Yale a couple of years after George W. Bush. For much of his long academic career, he taught at the University of Chicago, where he and his wife became friends with Barack and Michelle Obama. In the early 1990s, he worked as an adviser to the Palestinian delegation at peace talks in Madrid and Washington sponsored by the first Bush administration. We don't agree with a lot of what Mr. Khalidi has had to say about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the years, and Mr. Obama has made clear that he doesn't, either. But to compare the professor to neo-Nazis -- or even to Mr. Ayers -- is a vile smear [...]

Perhaps unsurprising for a member of academia, Mr. Khalidi holds complex views. In an article published this year in the Nation magazine, he scathingly denounced Israeli practices in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and U.S. Middle East policy but also condemned Palestinians for failing to embrace a nonviolent strategy. He said that the two-state solution favored by the Bush administration (and Mr. Obama) was "deeply flawed" but conceded there were also "flaws in the alternatives." Listening to Mr. Khalidi can be challenging -- as Mr. Obama put it in the dinner toast recorded on the 2003 tape and reported by the Times in a detailed account of the event last April, he "offers constant reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases."

It's fair to question why Mr. Obama felt as comfortable as he apparently did during his Chicago days in the company of men whose views diverge sharply from what the presidential candidate espouses. Our sense is that Mr. Obama is a man of considerable intellectual curiosity who can hear out a smart, if militant, advocate for the Palestinians without compromising his own position. To suggest, as Mr. McCain has, that there is something reprehensible about associating with Mr. Khalidi is itself condemnable -- especially during a campaign in which Arab ancestry has been the subject of insults. To further argue that the Times, which obtained the tape from a source in exchange for a promise not to publicly release it, is trying to hide something is simply ludicrous, as Mr. McCain surely knows.

Which reminds us: We did ask Mr. Khalidi whether he wanted to respond to the campaign charges against him. He answered, via e-mail, that "I will stick to my policy of letting this idiot wind blow over." That's good advice for anyone still listening to the McCain campaign's increasingly reckless ad hominem attacks. Sadly, that wind is likely to keep blowing for four more days.

In other words, Khalidi actually listens to and comprehends multiple sides of a debate, which in conservative politics is strictly verboten. This is nothing more than slander toward a man who is being singled out for little more than, yes, the color of his skin. It's shameful and reminiscent of some of the worst eras of American politics. And it's sadly typical in this campaign for John McCain, who as Ezra Klein notes is "a leader who decided to stop leading."

Imagine, then, what would have happened if Barack Obama had ended up running against the senator who brought the first cap-and-trade bill before the Congress, passed one of the most important campaign finance reform bills in history, voted against Bush's tax cuts, championed the Patient's Bill of Rights, fought for comprehensive immigration reform, and was the Senate's most effective opponent of torture. Catastrophe, right?

Luckily, Obama didn't run against that guy. John McCain, who did all that, spent this election refusing to mention any of his accomplishments. He argued the virtues of experience without pointing to its fruits. He bragged of being a maverick without explaining how his independence had resulted in tangible achievements. The reality of his record is that he was an ineffective Senator until the aftermath of the 2000 election, when his anger with the Republican Party led him to construct odd-bedfellows coalitions with Democrats and his national celebrity -- yes, celebrity -- helped him pass the legislation, or at least get press for breaking with his party. The resulting achievements proved deeply unpopular with the conservative base. So when he ran as the Republican nominee, he clammed up about global warming and flip-flopped on immigration. He stopped talking about campaign finance reform and started supporting tax cuts. His resulting criticisms of Obama fell flat: Unable to detail his own record, he couldn't connect with his critique of Obama's history. Unable to explain why it was good to be a maverick, he came off like a pro-wrestler trying to promote his new nickname.

And so he resorted to baseless smears and insults, without giving one voter a compelling reason to choose him rather than reject his opponent. And at a time of such tremendous challenges, small-ball like that falls flat.

I also agree with Ezra that you should maybe buy Khalidi's book and decide for yourself what you think of his scholarship.

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SD-15: Maldonado's Dishonesty

After running as a write-in candidate on the Democratic ballot line in June, Abel Maldonado is now buying spots on Democratic slate mailers, even though he is facing only token opposition from independent Jim Fitzgerald. This guy REALLY doesn't want to self-identify as a Republican.

Independent state senate candidate Jim Fitzgerald accused incumbent Sen. Abel Maldonado (R-Santa Maria) of wanting to have it both ways, running as a Republican but appearing on slate mailers for Democratic and independent voters.

"I wonder if John McCain would have let him speak at the RNC if he knew that Abel would be paying for flyers that tell voters to vote for Barack Obama," said Fitzgerald, a retired UPS worker who is self-financing his campaign, in a press release. "I wonder if the Republican Party would have contributed over $50,000 to Abel's campaign if they knew that he was going to pay $12,000 to appear on literature that promotes the Democratic ticket."

This is another reason why Don Perata's bullying of Democrats to keep them out of the race against Maldonado was such a failure. He wouldn't have an opportunity to buy his way onto these slate mailers if there was a Democratic candidate. And so he gets to position himself as an independent-minded reformer instead of the down-the-line Yacht Party Republican he is, for the most part. This enhances Maldonado's public image at precisely the time when he is likely to run for statewide office (I know he lost the controller's race in 2006, and afterward claimed that he'll never run for office again, but I don't buy it). He spoke at the RNC this year, a clear sign that the party views him as a rising star. The proper move for opposing parties is to try and cripple the other side's rising star. You don't enable them when they can come back and beat you years later.

Thanks a lot, Don Perata, don't forget to pick up your parting gift in a month...

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Years In The Making - The Ground Game Hits The Road

Chris Bowers says that Obama has already won the election. Thanks for depressing turnout, Chris Bowers! But looking at his methodology, he may well be right.

However, I know that the Obama campaign is not going to bask in the glory and all go for spa treatments this weekend. They're going to work their tails off right through till the last polls close on the West Coast on Tuesday.

To close the deal, Obama and his campaign must, in some ways, work opposite of one another.
The campaign’s ground forces, the likes of which this country has never seen, must make sure that the millions they helped register actually get to the polls. They have to continue knocking on doors to ensure that complacency doesn’t set in. Obama’s workers, paid and voluntary, have not traveled all this way to come up short.

As for Obama himself, he must maintain his steady, cool demeanor, which, ironically, was once viewed as a political liability. But now it has come to symbolize the candidate’s sure hand in the middle of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression.

“It’s extraordinary,” said Dee Dee Myers, a former Clinton White House press secretary and now a political analyst for CBS. “If you look back, there have been so few incidents where he’s been drawn off message, or resorts to getting involved with the attack of the day. He responds — but he does so in a rational, not emotional, way.

“He’s almost boring,” Myers continued. “He never takes the bait. He never gets into a good side fight for a couple of days. Think how many times Clinton got off course. Think how many times McCain makes news because he has to get something off his chest. Obama never does that.”

Obama will not get in the way of his campaign in these final days. There will be tens of millions of phone calls, millions of houses canvassed, millions of rides to the polls, seeking to extract every last voter and get them to their polling place. And it's going to happen in every state in America. The ground game, which has long been Obama's big bet, is bolstered by a strong union presence, which will do their own work to reach their membership. There are new media initiatives on Facebook and Twitter. But this starts and ends with the Obama campaign recruiting over a million volunteers for these last four days. As opposed to blowing your cash on attack ads and not bothering to expand turnout.

Sen. John McCain and the Republican National Committee will unleash a barrage of spending on television advertising that will allow him to keep pace with Sen. Barack Obama's ad blitz during the campaign's final days, but the expenditures will impact McCain's get-out-the-vote efforts, according to Republican strategists.

McCain has faced a severe spending imbalance during most of the fall, but the Republican nominee squirreled away enough funds to pay for a raft of television ads in critical battleground states over the next four days, said Evan Tracey, a political analyst who monitors television spending.

The decision to finance a final advertising push is forcing McCain to curtail spending on Election Day ground forces to help usher his supporters to the polls, according to Republican consultants familiar with McCain's strategy.

Wow, is that stupid. Especially in a year where turnout will mean everything. We don't live in a culture where the electorate collectively watches TV and experiences the campaign in a one-way manner anymore.

This whole thing, the Democratic resurgence, the Obama campaign, is the realization of something started about five years ago in Burlington, Vermont, of all places.

His hypothesis was simple: To be a national political party, you have to compete everywhere. It was called the “50 state strategy,” and it was unveiled in 2005.

Remember 2005?

That’s when Karl Rove was building a permanent Republican majority, and when President George W. Bush was going to save Social Security by privatizing it.

In 2005, Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont, campaigned among grass-roots activists to become chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Campaigned to be head of the DNC? That’s an establishment job, hand-picked.

Howard Dean? What a loser.

But politics is all about a little prescience and a little luck. Dean had both. He had the wisdom to know Democrats could win in a lot of places if they bothered to show up and make an argument. The lucky part: The public has turned on the Republican Party.

It's a simple formula, but this article doesn't fully capture what Dean did. He put paid staffers into those 50 states so he could capitalize on any opportunity. He revitalized moribund state parties and created the neighbor-to-neighbor tool that can make Democrats a presence in people's lives all year round, not just before Election Day. He helped build a voter file that now rivals Republicans' vaunted data bank. He laid all the groundwork for Obama to build on and surpass.

In many ways, Tuesday could be Howard Dean's victory as well.

...Sean Quinn at 538 has more on the McCain campaign's ground game FAIL. They aren't funding it because they don't have anything to fund.

[ Find Your Polling Place | Voting Info For Your State | Know Your Voting Rights | Report Voting Problems ]

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FAIL Of The Century

Bill Kristol: "You're reading The New York Times too much."

Jon Stewart: "Bill, you work for The New York Times."


I haven't seen someone walk into a punch like that since the early days of Mike Tyson.

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AK-Sen: I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

To Ted Stevens, being convicted on seven counts of making false statements means that you haven't been convicted of anything.

"I've not been convicted yet," Stevens said Thursday in a meeting with the editorial board of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. "There's not a black mark by my name yet, until the appeal is over and I am finally convicted, if that happens. If that happens, of course I'll do what's right for Alaska and for the Senate. ... I don't anticipate it happening, and until it happens I do not have a black mark."

Stevens reiterated that position during a televised debate late Thursday night, declaring early in the give-and-take with Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, "I have not been convicted of anything."

Here's the deal. You can appeal, but as of right now, you actually have been convicted. The part where the jury came into the courtroom and found you guilty? That was part of the whole conviction thing.

In other news, apparently Saddam caused 9/11. But it's a secret!

MODERATOR: Knowing what you know now, do you think that the country of Iraq and Saddam Hussein played a role in the 9/11 attack on the United States?

STEVENS: I know more than you think I know, and I believe they did.

BEGICH: I don’t believe they did.

At least he's not only deeply in denial about his own conviction.

Support Mark Begich.

...The Anchorage Daily News, which has been a great paper on the Palin/Troopergate affair, endorsed Begich today.

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Raising Arizona

What's best about John McCain and Barack Obama running neck and neck in Arizona is that McCain probably feels his honor is besmirched by having to defend his own backyard. Obama is going up on the air there, and McCain is going to spend his final night as a Presidential candidate campaigning there.

If Kos wasn't such an out-of-state political barbarian, Obama might even win there!

(By the way, the poll showing Janet Napolitano leading McCain in the 2010 Senate race is great, but I say it doesn't go that far. McCain would rather quit than get waxed again.)

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Jules Winnfield FTW

Two pieces of very good news for No on Prop. 8. First, the latest Field Poll shows the initiative failing:

Prop 8 is down by 5 points, 44% Yes, 49% No. While one would like to see these two numbers further apart, these are pretty good numbers. And as the campaign points out, Field is just about the only pollster that has a good track record on propositions, at about 94%.

All that being said, this is still going to be a tight race. One worrisome indicator is that for those who voted already, Yes is leading. So please, please, do not let up. The progressive position tends to fare better on election day, but that requires we do all the hard GOTV work. Do not quit at 6PM when some LGBT organizations in LA have ridiculously chosen to start their party. Do not quit until that last poll closes.

Absolutely correct. I don't think this proposition will work like traditional ones, where all the undecideds break toward No. It's going to come down to turnout. If you're in the state, you can help with GOTV.

The other good news is this excellent ad, their best of the year, describing the history of discrimination in California for people of all stripes, and imploring viewers not to add to that sad legacy. And yes, that's Samuel L. Jackson.

If you want to shame the Mormons and the Knights of Columbus who would rather write their intolerance into state Constitutions across the country, remember this ad. And help defeat this proposition.

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No One Could Have Anticipated...

That actions have consequences.

The Syrian government has broken relations with Baghdad. It has completely opened its border. This article in Al-Arabiya (Al-Arabiya is generally fairly reliable) says that the Syrians have reduced their forces on the border. That's NOT what I'm hearing from BOTH sides of the border. What I'm hearing from very trustworthy sources whom I've known for years is that the Syrians have completely withdrawn their forces from the border.

• No troops.
• No border guards.
• No police.

While the total number of foreign fighters in Iraq was never that large, they have often been deadly, particularly for US troops. And Syria was actually doing a fair job of tightening the border. But no more. Funny how air-dropping commando units into a sovereign nation can clarify the mind a bit.

So our reward for getting rid of maybe one tiny group of foreign agitators is a target on the backs of 140,000 US troops as well as untold numbers of Iraqis. That's why they call it blowback.

Heckuva job.

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Bunch Of Videos

For your viewing pleasure.

Apocalypse John (NSFW):

People In The Middle For Obama (directed by Errol Morris):

Robots Attack! (from the Obama campaign)

My Republican Party:

The Ol' McSamewich:

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Mental Recession Becomes Physical Recession

So now we have an official start to the recession - the third quarter of this year, when consumer spending finally fell off the cliff. Consumers stopped spending because they stopped borrowing, and in many ways that's a direct result of the housing crisis. The loss of HELOCs (home equity line of credit) meant that people couldn't cash in on their houses anymore. Credit cards are the second option, but people already carry a lot of debt on their credit cards, and with the job losses mounting and economic uncertainty everywhere, consumers are less likely to put so much on credit, which I believe is more real than a HELOC.

So what now? Well, there's finally talk today of a homeowner rescue package, yet another example of the Bush Administration following the lead of the Democrats. In an economic crisis of this magnitude, we're all liberals.

Senior Bush administration officials are discussing a plan that could help up to three million homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages to stay in their homes, three people briefed on the proposal said Wednesday.

The initiative could be the most sweeping government effort directed at mortgage borrowers since the financial crisis began last year. Under the plan, the government would agree to shoulder half of the losses on home loans if mortgage companies agreed to lower borrowers’ monthly payments for at least five years, according to the people briefed on the plan who asked not to be named because details were still being negotiated.

Officials from the Treasury Department and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation are working on the proposal and an announcement may come soon. Sheila C. Bair, the chairwoman of the F.D.I.C., has been the leading proponent of the plan and first discussed the idea publicly a week ago.

This would be a good start and a fair use of some of that bailout money. The fact that banks who have been partially rescued are going to use substantial amounts of that cash to pay off dividends is repugnant. Henry Waxman is attacking these giveaways from the banking industry today, which is hugely inefficient because it takes money out of the greater economy.

Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, noted that before the infusion, the banks had spent or allocated $108 billion on employee compensation and bonuses for the first nine months of 2008, nearly the same amount as last year.

"I question the appropriateness of depleting the capital that taxpayers just injected into the banks through the payment of billions of dollars in bonuses, especially after one of the financial industry's worst years on record," Waxman wrote in a letter to the banks.

Lawmakers across the political spectrum want to ensure that the government's bailout program results in increased lending, not bigger paydays for executives.

Though White House officials are defending the bailout, it's clearly being mismanaged to the point of being a handout from the Treasury to rich bankers. Or maybe the better word is "managed." Not a bug, but a feature.

A real plan for homeowners and a second stimulus that addresses needs in local governments, the poor and infrastructure would be key to helping us sail through expected rough waters. Or, we could lay hands on the bull statue in front of Merrill Lynch and hope for the best.

Did you know that some Christian dingbat has dubbed today the “Day of Prayer for the World’s Economies?” Well here they are, at the Wall Street bull statue thing, praying to Jesus for money. The dingbat has explained, “We are going to intercede at the site of the statue of the bull on Wall Street to ask God to begin a shift from the bull and bear markets to what we feel will be the ‘Lion’s Market,’ or God’s control over the economic systems.”

Sheesh. Stuff like this makes me wonder if I should just move to China, where they're adapting and innovating and understanding instead of praying and wishing and hoping.

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Prop Watch

Five days to go, and while initiatives are notoriously hard to figure, here's what I'm seeing with five days to go. Below are my projections.

• Prop. 1A: I have been hearing some local radio spots for 1A, so they are trying to get the message out. While the Governor has endorsed he won't be much help, however. And unfortunately, there are some zombie lies out there that are making false claims about the high-speed rail project, particularly focusing in on ridership projections and length of travel. The Christian Science Monitor, in its endorsement of 1A, shoots down these claims.

Yearly ridership is predicted at 88 million to 117 million passengers by 2030.

How can that be if last year only 26 million people rode the national rail network, Amtrak? Part of the answer lies in the state's expected population boom. But also, travelers gravitate to high-quality, affordable transport. Last year, ridership jumped 20 percent for the Acela, Amtrak's only fast train (but not as fast as trains around the world).

Opponents also say the north-south ride will take more like 3-1/2 hours, because no bullet trains operate at the plan's projected speed of up to 220 m.p.h. But Japan and France are testing prototypes capable of such speeds. And so what if the estimate is off? Downtown-to-downtown transport that's also independent of much bad weather and gate delays has its advantages.

Although it's wrong to punish infrastructure in a downturn, given the economic times this is not as safe a bet as before. SLIGHT LEAN YES.

• Prop. 2: Despite the opposition throwing the kitchen sink at the measure ("You'd have to buy eggs from illegal immigrants and get salmonella while your family goes broke!"), I don't think they're fooling anyone into believing that allowing chickens to stand up and move their wings and turn in their cages is unreasonable. LIKELY YES.

• Prop. 3: These type of bonds are like catnip. LIKELY YES.

• Prop. 4: It was close the past two times on the ballot, and it's going to be close this time. Both sides seem to agree that Latino voters, who vote often with Democrats but are typically socially conservative, are the key swing bloc. In fact, the Yes on 4 people are trying to find Latino voters in Los Angeles. Um, if they're having trouble with that I don't really trust their targeting efforts. The No on 4 team has revived some popular ads and look in position to repeat their 2005 and 2006 victories, but the likely voter model makes this impossible to predict. TOSS-UP.

• Prop. 5: Every living Governor in the state held an event for No on 5 today, and they join most politicians, living or dead, in their opposition. Of course they're all opposed - they've been wrong on prison policy for 30 years, on a bipartisan basis, so why would they offer anything but more of the same. I enjoyed the Yes on 5 team use the opposition by Bush's drug czar as a reason to support the measure, and their latest ad similarly uses the corrections officers opposition to explain how much they love overcrowded prisons as a boon to their bottom line. I'd like to think that people will come around to the idea that the drug war has failed and nonviolent offenders need treatment and not incarceration, but I'm sadly not hopeful. Too much demagoguing here. LEAN NO.

• Prop. 6 & Prop. 9: I put the Runner initiatives together because they both serve the same awful goal of warehousing more of California's population in service to nothing but vengeance. The No side on both of these (funded largely by CTA) is doing a good job of painting these as extreme, and Prop. 9 is getting bad press for potentially violating inmates' civil rights. I think they're both going down. LIKELY NO.

• Prop. 7: I'm surprised that this initiative was able to fly under the radar for so long. Usually that means that the No side will probably come out ahead, and I don't think this is any different. While many see the value in a strong renewable energy standard, the coalition that has come out against this will split Democrats and unify Republicans, which should be enough to defeat it. LEAN NO.

• Prop. 8: Well, there's not much I can add to this one. It's going to be as tight as a tick, to quote Dan Rather. The Yes side is creepily committed to denying fundamental rights (that video, exploiting kids for their cause, is a form of child abuse). The No side is committed to preserving them. They got a boost with this letter from 59 Con law professors rejecting the arguments of the Yes side and basically calling them lies.

In short, these legal scholars conclude:

Prop 8 clearly discriminates against gay men and lesbians.
Prop 8 would have no effect on the tax exemptions of churches.
Prop 8 would have no effect on teaching or the protection of parental rights already provided by state law.

“As teachers of the law we feel an obligation to speak out when claims are made about the law that are simply and clearly false,” said Professor Pam Karlan, the Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law at Stanford Law School.

We all know this is going to be a TOSS-UP, coming down to turnout in the most closely-watched race of the night. Here's an easy way you can get involved and listen to some great punk rock music besides. Max and the Marginalized, a great band who posts a new song weekly on the Huffington Post, released their latest, Proposition Hate, and you can buy the track, with all proceeds going to Equality for All.

• Prop. 10. T.Boone Pickens has spent $19 million dollars to try and fleece the state, and even the kids from his ads are starting to reject him. When you put that much money into an initiative you're going to have a chance, but it feels to me like the arguments are falling short. SLIGHT LEAN NO.

• Prop. 11. Well, Arnold will be making a full-court press on this for the next five days. It's his only proposition on the ballot, really. It's telling that they are still trying to push this as a generic cure-all rather than define what the measure would actually do, which is seek to fix a non-existent problem. The very fact that over a third of Republican held seats in the Assembly are threatened this cycle debunks the entire argument that gerrymandering automatically creates safe seats. If Republicans can't manage to make seats competitive, they should be given a life raft by a measure that would seek to re-gerrymander for them. While Bill Lockyer is the lone statewide Democrat lending his name to this farce, Jon Fleischman's FAIL put this into a partisan context and will make it difficult to win in a Democratic year. Still, Arnold's going to work as hard as possible, so I wouldn't put defeat down for certain. SLIGHT LEAN NO.

• Prop. 12. Safest thing on the ballot. Homes for veterans and it doesn't cost a dime? SAFE YES.

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28 Years Apart

A couple people have mentioned this today (most notably David Sirota, but in 1980 the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series and Ronald Reagan took the White House a short time later, ushering in a conservative ascendancy. Now in 2008, the Philadelphia Phillies have won the World Series. Is this the hint of a liberal ascendancy?

For a superstitious nut, Philly sports fan and political junkie, I'll take whatever sign I can get.

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Wherein I Agree With Todd Spitzer

This is not going to happen often, folks, so get it while it's hot.

Republican Assemblyman Todd Spitzer thinks calling California's termed-out lawmakers back to the Capitol after the Nov. 4 election is "absurd."

"With the philosophical differences still firmly in place it is unlikely anything will be finalized" before lawmakers are forced from office on Dec. 1, Spitzer writes on his blog.

"As a termed out legislator, I feel it is absurd that my termed out colleagues and I could potentially be called back to try and fix the ever increasing budget deficit. Both sides have no incentive to reach across the aisle and accomplish anything, especially since Election Day will be in our past."

He happens to be absolutely right. As CapAlert noticed yesterday, a special session beginning on November 5 would have to reach agreement before the December 1 swearing-in of new lawmakers. Throw in Thanksgiving and you're talking about 10, maybe 15 business days, tops, to hammer out a deal. And Yacht Party charter member Spitzer would know - the Republicans aren't likely to agree to anything.

Why not let the will of the people express itself on November 4, and let the new solution to the budget mess flow naturally from that? If the public wants Democrats to hold 2/3 of the legislature, so be it. They would be making the choices on revenue and spending that they wish the legislature to enact. To have a lame-duck session invalidates their wishes. So much for the Governor of the people.

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Kitchen Sink Employed In Last-Minute Smear Strategy

This is the final primal scream for John McCain and the right. After decades of feeling entitled to the levers of power, of shrugging off responsibility and accountability, they are having to deal with the consequences of the failed policies of the conservative era. So as a result, they are going heavily on the attack.

There are the new set of nasty robocalls, now being employed in McCain's home state of Arizona, where multiple polls have now shown the race to be close and where Obama is mounting a last-minute surge.

There's the latest deliberate misinterpretation of Obama's tax policies, pretending not to understand that "over $250,000 gets an increase" and "under $200,000 gets a cut" can both be right at the same time.

Obama has said throughout the campaign that families making less than $250,000 a year will not see a tax increase. Those making less than $200,000 will get a tax cut, he says. "If you make less than a quarter of a million dollars a year, you will not see a single dime of your taxes go up," Obama said during an October 7 presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee. "If you make $200,000 a year or less, your taxes will go down."

The campaign ad McCain refers to, titled "Defining Moment," does have a graphic appear on the screen that says, "Families making less than $200,000 get tax cut." Obama says, "If you have a job, pay taxes and make less than $200,000 a year, you'll get a tax cut," which is, again, consistent with the plan he has
laid out.

Biden was speaking Monday, October 27, in an interview with WNEP in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He said, "(An) $87 billion tax break doesn't need to go to people making an average of $1.4 million. It should go like it used to. It should go to middle class people — people making under $150,000 a year." Biden never says that tax breaks should "only" go to such people. The Obama campaign says he was merely using that figure as an example and that the statement does not represent a change in policy.

The Verdict: False. What McCain is doing here, in part, is comparing apples and oranges. He compares two different aspects of Obama's tax plan as if they were the same. And Biden never said people making less than $150,000 are the "only" people who would get a tax cut under Obama's policies.

There's the latest attack ads basically calling Obama a Marxist-Leninist committed to handing out "welfare," one of which is so rushed that it includes a misspelling and the other clearly spelling out the word "blacks" to answer the question, I assume, of where the money goes.

There's this latest crusade against the media, attacking the LA Times for publishing a story friendly to him several months ago that he apparently just noticed. And by the way, the attacks on Rashid Khalidi are ridiculous, especially considering that McCain and Khalidi have worked together:

Of course, Khalidi has been involved in Palestinian causes. McCarthy ought to ask John McCain about that, because McCain and Khalidi appear to have some joint interests, and that fact speaks very well of both of them. Indeed, the McCain–Khalidi connections are more substantial than the phony Obama–Khalidi connections McCarthy gussies up for his article. The Republican party’s congressionally funded international-networking organization, the International Republican Institute–long and ably chaired by John McCain and headed by McCain’s close friend, the capable Lorne Craner–has taken an interest in West Bank matters. IRI funded an ambitious project, called the Palestine Center, that Khalidi helped to support. Khalidi served on the Center’s board of directors. The goal of that project, shared by Khalidi and McCain, was the promotion of civic consciousness and engagement and the development of democratic values in the West Bank. Of course, McCarthy is not interested in looking too closely into the facts, because they would not serve his shrill partisan objectives.

And of course, at the end of the campaign we are getting the full Jeremiah.

The National Republican Trust PAC, which has been airing an ad attacking Barack Obama's association with Reverend Wright in three battleground states, has now put down for a national buy on five networks that will last from now through election day, a consultant with the group confirms to me.

The ad will run nationally on Fox, CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC for the next five days, the consultant, Rick Wilson, says -- "all the way until election day."

The ad, which you can watch here, features the now-infamous footage of Wright's livelier sermons, and intones that Obama "never complained" about Wright "until he ran for President," adding that Obama is "too radical, too risky."

The Democratic Web presence has done a good job smacking down and ferreting out these attacks, but it seems like lately there are almost too many to chronicle. The conservative attack machine still has a pulse and they're still going to try and smear Barack Obama. We'll see if it works.

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The Point Is To Delegitimize The Election

TPM Muckraker has a good rundown of the various voter suppression schemes that Republicans have attempted thus far this election season. Fortunately, most of them have failed to this point. Despite pressure from George W. Bush, the Justice Department has decided not to step in and challenge over 200,000 voter registration forms in Ohio that have not been checked against federal documents (in which case something as small as a typo could disqualify a voter). In Pennsylvania, a favorable ruling forces election officials to supply paper ballots to voters if half of the voting machines in a precinct malfunction on Election Day. Without this measure, long lines would have surely deterred people from voting.

And there are many more wins too, some through the courts, some through elections officials who stand up for justice. But as Zachary Roth notes, that's not quite the point from the Republican perspective.

Of course, the whole point of the voter-suppression game is to throw up as many gambits as possible, and hope that just a few succeed. And there's no way to measure the effect that even the unsuccessful ploys have in generating cynicism about the process itself, and thereby reducing turnout, to Republicans' advantage. So in a close election, it's still possible that voter suppression could make the difference -- as it may well have done in 2000.

But it's worth noting that -- thanks largely to Democratic control of the secretary of state's offices in some key states; the skepticism with which many courts have looked on efforts to put obstacles in the way of voting; and the role of voting-rights groups and the press in exposing the bankruptcy of Republican claims -- the nationwide GOP voter-suppression effort appears to have been far less successful than the party might have hoped.

It's true that we've done a better job ferreting this out this year. But Roth, while correct that suppression is often an end in itself, fails to capture the other element of this - the goal to delegitimize the election and create a "big lie" that a potential Obama victory is fraudulent. This will become accepted dogma on the right and will be returned to again and again to sap away at his public support. And if public confidence in elections becomes brittle, they become easier to steal - not to mention that more people become alienated from the process, leading to the very suppression that the GOP seeks.

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Intellectual Honesty

Pretty hilarious to see the same people who cried "Doesn't count! Al-Qaeda using ju-jitsu Jedi mind tricks!" when pro-McCain comments appeared on jihadist websites a week ago now say "Toldja!" when an "al Qaeda leader" claims to want to see the Republican Party "humiliated." Why, it's as if they only take statements at face value when they benefit Republicans!

I've got a better idea - who gives a fuck what Al Qaeda thinks? They're certainly not going to stop plotting attacks depending on who the President is. To them, we're all infidels. So why is their opinion on the US election relevant in any way?

By the way, this is pretty much what I said a week ago, as well.

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AK-Sen: Toobz Banking On The Backlash

Others can speak to their more personal experiences with Alaska, but I'll tell you, this is exactly what I expected to happen upon his (triumphant?) return.

But the crowd at his Anchorage rally seemed to harbor little doubt that Stevens, who showed flashes of both humility and defiance, would beat his challengers. They include Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, a Democrat, who was holding a dueling rally at a union hall at the same time as Stevens' event.

There was undisguised hostility toward the federal government and the FBI at the Stevens event, with people wearing T-shirts that said "F*#@ the feds, vote for Ted."

"Anyone who thinks you can get a fair trial in the heart of liberalism, Washington, D.C., is smoking dope. He was railroaded," said Mark Kelliher, a retired engineer.

Talk radio host Rick Rydell told the crowd he knows Stevens, a D.C. jury doesn't.

"I don't particularly like it when outsiders tell me what to do," Rydell said, before Stevens took the stage. "You can kiss my Alaska moose-hunting behind."

This is just backlash politics played perfectly. The fact that Stevens has spent the bulk of the past FORTY years in Washington as a US Senator is apparently besides the point.

Obviously being convicted of a felony is a strike against your record, but it would probably be more damaging to an unknown back-bencher instead of the guy who the Anchorage airport is named after. Stevens still has a really good chance to win, even though his Republican colleagues are publicly telling him to resign. And we know that there's a credible scenario of electoral victory followed by resignation that could lead us to Senator Sarah Palin.

So help out Mark Begich if you can. He's at the Blue America page.

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Beyond the (Opposite of) Pale

Advertising routinely washes out or darkens or basically makes to look bad the less preferred candidate or product, and gussies up the more preferred one. But this ad against Indian-American Iraq War vet Ashwin Madia (MN-03) goes way too far.

A Republican attack ad invites viewers to "meet the real Ashwin Madia," but the still photos featured in the spot present a noticeably darker version of the 3rd District DFL congressional candidate.

"At least three of the photos of Madia were obviously darkened, using one method or another," public affairs and media consultant Dean Alger told KARE 11.

Desaturation and darkening, as I said, is a standard tactic to make someone look spooky. Here it makes Madia look black. That's the desired effect.

I suppose this means that it is completely within bounds to do the same to potential 2012 GOP Presidential candidate Bobby Jindal?

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The LP Ad

I think the McCain campaign successfully mau-mau'd the media into calling last night's Obama production an infomercial, which has a negative connotation. But I prefer to call it an LP ad. Here it is, directed by "An Inconvenient Truth" auteur Davis Guggenheim:

Basically, the spot was a mirror of Barack Obama's closing argument speech, and a longer version of his closing argument ads that have begun to run today. Hope over fear, unity over division, change over the status quo. The large contours of Obama's argument to the electorate really have never changed. The coherence of message is pretty remarkable for a nearly two year-long political campaign.

But in the specifics, we see an Obama that is a progressive populist, ready to work on the major problems of the day - the financial meltdown, extreme income inequality, health care costs spiraling out of control, catastrophic climate change - with a vision that is unabashedly in the liberal mainstream. There were a number of set pieces in the ad, stories of regular Americans (narrated by Obama in an interesting touch) struggling in the Bush economy. I imagine that a lot of people saw themselves in those stories. And Obama's solution to these problems include middle class tax relief to make the income tax more progressive. It includes investment in clean energy and infrastructure. It includes a health care system that is more accessible and more affordable. It includes a rescue package for the middle class. It includes early childhood education and making college accessible in exchange for community service. These are solutions which could be more progressive, but they come from a very good place and a very good philosophy - that we need to grow jobs, wages and incomes for the broad majority of Americans if we want to continue to have a sustainable economy, rather than hoping that everything trickles down. That's a fundamentally progressive worldview.

My favorite segment was with the Ford factory worker in Louisville, Kentucky. Because here Obama displayed the frankest talk of the entire campaign. There's a long passage about how good manufacturing jobs - good union jobs - drove the economic engine of the country during the mid-century prosperity. How the rise of the middle class lifted the entire nation up. This is the key to restoring America's promise and progress. It was wonderful to see that in there. This is the policy prescription for that issue, from his closing argument speech:

When it comes to jobs, the choice in this election is not between putting up a wall around America or allowing every job to disappear overseas. The truth is, we won't be able to bring back every job that we've lost, but that doesn't mean we should follow John McCain's plan to keep giving tax breaks to corporations that send American jobs overseas. I will end those breaks as President, and I will give American businesses a $3,000 tax credit for every job they create right here in the United States of America. I'll eliminate capital gains taxes for small businesses and start-up companies that are the engine of job creation in this country. We'll create two million new jobs by rebuilding our crumbling roads, and bridges, and schools, and by laying broadband lines to reach every corner of the country. And I will invest $15 billion a year in renewable sources of energy to create five million new energy jobs over the next decade - jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced; jobs building solar panels and wind turbines and a new electricity grid; jobs building the fuel-efficient cars of tomorrow, not in Japan or South Korea but here in the United States of America; jobs that will help us eliminate the oil we import from the Middle East in ten years and help save the planet in the bargain. That's how America can lead again.

Going beyond that, the central argument is that as a society we have to build things that the world desires to make us viable economically again. Pushing paper won't do it. Manufacturing will.

Overall, this was an excellent summary of the main points of Obama's campaign, and it's getting great reviews. I hope he can hold off the politics of fear for just five more days and make history on November 4th.

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CA-46: Long Beach City Councilman Puts His Thumbs On The Scale

Gary DeLong represents the 3rd District of the Long Beach City Council, and he holds a monthly meeting - at taxpayer expense - with constituents. This month he abruptly decided to invite Dana Rohrabacher - his preferred candidate for Congress - to the meeting.

Walking a legal, ethical and political tightrope just before Election Day, Long Beach City Councilmember Gary DeLong has suddenly invited the candidate he supports for congress—conservative incumbent Republican Dana Rohrabacher—to speak Thursday at DeLong’s monthly lunchtime meeting with his Third District constituents.

Debbie Cook, the Huntington Beach mayor who is presenting Rohrabacher with his strongest challenge in his 20 years in the House of Representatives, had not heard about the event when contacted by The District Weekly late Monday night. “I was not invited,” she said.

Long Beach Police Chief Anthony Batts had been scheduled for more than a month to address the Third District Neighborhoods meeting, but DeLong abruptly disinvited Batts so that Rohrabacher could appear.

DeLong has made three financial contributions to Rohrabacher’s re-election campaign in the last 16 months. He donated $200 on June 27, $250 on Feb. 14 and $200 on June 16, 2007. Additionally, DeLong wrote a $1,000 check to the National Republican Congressional Committee on October 1.

But juggling the guest list at the Third District Neighborhoods meeting may constitute DeLong’s most-valuable gift to Rohrabacher, providing the congressman with a late-in-the-campaign appearance before some of Long Beach’s most-affluent and influential residents.

Hilariously, A DeLong spinner explains that the city staffers for the event are going on their lunch hour and the invites weren't sent on city time, so everything's above board. Oh, and where's it being held?

THE LONG BEACH YACHT CLUB. Perfect setting for a Yacht Party get-together.

What's most notable about this is that Rohrabacher is showing up in Long Beach at all. I'd be surprised if he knows where it is. Rohrabacher usually runs up the score in the Orange County strongholds. This year, he has to search for votes everywhere.

Support Calitics Match candidate Debbie Cook.

...oh yeah, if you want more of an incentive, Dana strongly supports Prop. 8. He says that we do not need to change the definition of marriage in order to "make a small number of people comfortable with themselves."

I think that says it all.

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Sayonara Joe

It looks like the Senate drive for 60 votes is going to come down to the wire, with Jim Martin in Georgia being the crucial swing vote. Nate at 538 says his support is being undercounted, and the other crucial factor is that a race ending with nobody reaching 50% in Georgia would go to a runoff. With a Libertarian candidate in the race, that's a definite possibility. So we could see Martin vs. Saxby Chambliss in December with 60 votes on the line. Wow.

Now 60 votes is not a talisman. It breaks a filibuster in theory, but on a vote-by-vote basis you're going to gain Republicans and lose Democrats. Mary Landrieu is not a reliable vote on energy. Max Baucus is not a reliable vote on investment spending. Ben Nelson is not a reliable vote on much of anything. Alternatively, Olympia Snowe is gettable. Susan Collins can be gettable at times. Arlen Specter can be gettable. And there are a whole bunch of Senators who will be threatened in 2010 who will have to vote in a more moderate fashion.

Which is to say that all the focus on whether Joe Lieberman will be the crucial swing vote in a Democratic Senate, because he'd have the power to end filibusters all by himself, is misplaced. There is nothing that Democrats actually need to do to keep him happy. And having him running a government oversight committee when he campaigned against the Democratic nominee for President is unacceptable. Senate Democrats are putting out hints that it's unacceptable to them, too.

Democratic leaders are discussing a major reshuffling of Senate committee chairmanships, according to multiple sources, and the proposed changes include ousting Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) from his coveted chairmanship.

Lieberman, a former Democrat who supports Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for president, is likely to lose his gavel on the Homeland Security Committee he has chaired since January 2007, say the sources who see him being replaced by Sen. Daniel Akaka (Hawaii), the committee’s third-ranking Democrat.

Lieberman spokesman Marshall Witmann dismissed the speculation, saying Lieberman “is focused on doing all he can to elect John McCain as president rather than post-election Washington politics.”

One Democratic source said Lieberman is not likely to lose his position in the Democratic caucus, even if the party picks up several seats in next week’s election. While Democrats could approach or exceed the filibuster-proof threshold of 60 votes, they may still need Lieberman’s vote often.

“There’s no sense in cutting off our nose to spite our face,” one source said.

I think talk about expelling him from the caucus is kind of weird. He's an independent and he gets to make the decision about who to caucus with. He can do whatever he wants. But seniority and chairmanships is something that the Democrats have control over. And he shouldn't have any of them.

But don't be taken in by this idea that he holds the filibuster in his hands. He doesn't. Democrats can ask for his vote, but they don't have to bend over backwards to please him.

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ABC Steps In It?

The initial reports were that Sarah Palin actually started talking about 2012 yesterday in an interview with ABC News, including the line "I'm not doing any of this for naught." After massive amounts of damage control and probably plenty of angry phone calls, ABC revised their own reporting, claiming instead that Palin was talking about this election. An AP story reflects the change.

Asked about 2012, whether she was discouraged by daily campaign attacks and whether she would return home to Alaska, the Republican vice presidential nominee said she was focused on defeating Democrat Barack Obama next week.

"I think that, if I were to give up and wave a white flag of surrender against some of the political shots that we've taken ... I'm not doing this for naught," Palin told ABC News in a taped interview airing on Thursday.

A campaign spokesperson said Palin was talking about being focused on winning the White House this year and is not going to quit despite her critics.

In its initial report on the interview, ABC said Palin was looking ahead to the 2012 election cycle, regardless of the outcome of the November 4 vote.

ABC issued a revised release after the McCain campaign clarified Palin's comment.

This is kind of weird. Are news organizations in the habit of changing their stories completely after campaign aides "clarify" comments? Shouldn't comments speak for themselves?

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Pfightin' Phils

I'll get to Obama's infomercial in the morning, but for now a tip of the cap to the Phillies. The last time they won a championship I was 7. I remember the fireworks going off while I was sitting in bed. When I called home to the folks tonight, the M-80s were going off again.

Philadelphia revolves so much around sports, and they've been continually frustrated and disappointed for a quarter-century. Good to see the local boys win for a change. Although the biggest point of concern for the fans going into the evening was whether or not beer sales would be suspended after the 7th inning, since it was the resumption of a suspended game. But hey, they deserve it.

This has been the obligatory monthly sports post.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Later Ted

Mitch McConnell says bye-bye.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is calling on Ted Stevens to resign from the Senate – and warning that the longest-serving Republican senator in history will face certain expulsion if he doesn’t leave on his own first.

McConnell, locked in a tough reelection fight in Kentucky, did not call for Stevens’ resignation in his initial statement on the Alaskan’s conviction on seven federal felonies Monday.

But Republican Sens. John McCain, Norm Coleman, Jim DeMint, John Sununu and Gordon Smith and Democrat Barack Obama all called on Stevens to resign Tuesday.

And by the time a reporter from the Lexington Herald-Leader put the question to him at a campaign stop Elizabethtown, Ky., Tuesday night, McConnell was ready to say that Stevens must go, too.

"I think he should resign immediately," McConnell said. "If he did not do that ... there is a 100 percent certainty that he would be expelled from the Senate."

I think McConnell's re-election race has a lot to do with this, and after the election quite a few Republicans are sure to go back on their word, but let's say it doesn't look good for Hulk.

At this point, how do you remain on the campaign trail? Isn't that just a total insult to your supporters? I guess it's just garden-variety obstinacy.

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