Thanks to all of you who followed me on this platform for the last few years. If you still find me palatable, and do not fear change (c'mon, you know you love living dangerously), please go to my new, and still a work-in-progress website:
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
Thanks to all of you who followed me on this platform for the last few years. If you still find me palatable, and do not fear change (c'mon, you know you love living dangerously), please go to my new, and still a work-in-progress website:
Friday, February 13, 2009
Politico.com is often insightful beyond its years. Today's headline is as much about politics as it is about psychology:
"Hardened Obama Plans New Fights"
How character-driven of them. As someone who has followed Obama for over 4 years, read about even the most minute details about him (did you know he is fan of the political theorist and philosopher Reinhold Niebuhr?), and am intrigued at how his meteoric rise pairs with his steady, reformative nature, I can know this is an Obama truth. He changes, he regroups, he adapts.
One of the things he was praised for during the campaign was his uncanny ability to be self-aware and self-reforming. Early on in the primaries, after his campaign staff told him he needed to do find a way of articulating his positions in easy to digest morsels, he would say, "I know, I'll get better." One misstep or challenge after another, a new, refined version of Obama would come out as a result. This time it's no different.
Washington have Obama a honeymoon that looked more like a dry and bitter 29th year wedding anniversary (sorry married folks). One frown after another, Republicans and some Democrats were not too impressed with the new president. They hemmed, hawed, and finally gave him what he was looking for, a stimulus package, after they tore it up to their own liking. Three appointments to his cabinet have embarrassed themselves, and him for choosing and not properly vetting them, on a national level. His Treasury Secretary has been received with mixed reviews, when the economy needs a boost of self-esteem. He is, in 2009, not the perfect Obama of 2008.
That is great news for him. In 2007, as the underdog in the primaries, he tested his wits and his will. This is another opportunity to do the same. Seeing what the White House really entails, and molding it around his lifestyle, not the other way around, he is Obama, President-mode.
Friday, January 30, 2009
Judging by the strictly party-line vote the House had over Obama's stimulus package, you would think few things have changed in Washington. You are right and wrong.
As many newspapers and political analysts have noted, this was hardly expected. The Republicans are finding their niche in being the stubborn roadblock the Democrats never could become when Bush held a majority in Congress. They squeezed Obama to see how much he could bare, and then played Washington nice by applauding his efforts to reach out to them and then denying him of any of their support.
This, unfortunately, is nothing new. When Reagan entered office, his greatest concern was the economy, but he had many pet projects he wanted to implement as soon as he set foot in the office. These projects were postponed for more than year because he faced a Democratic Congress that would not budge. Until they did.
Obama has not hidden the fact that he admires Reagan. Not as the Republican demi-god he quickly became, but as the transformative political animal he proved to be. A politician with a smaller resume than most in his cabinet, Reagan came into the White House based mostly off of his charisma and calming demeanor.
He never quit being Hollywood, and he made Washington a compelling dramedy. Obama was chided by his Democratic opponents early in the primary by respectfully acknowledging the "transformative" power Reagan had during his tenure. He can now follow that praise with practice.
Reagan could hardly be considered a bipartisan figure. He was proudly conservative, a loyal Republican, and not afraid to hide or downplay either fact. But he was able to pass most of his agenda despite a Democratic Congress at odds in the most fundamental level. How? He knew the core principle of politics: compromise. You give me this, and I will let you have that. He promised Democrats that he would campaign for any of their Republican adversaries in the coming election if they voted for his stimulus package. He promised abortion issues would be postponed for a year. He scratched their backs, and they rolled over theirs.
This backfired a bit, as Republicans felt like they were being sold out. And, essentially, they were. Reagan was wooing the Democrats to pass his most pressing, and eventually most winning, piece of legislation. When he received accolades for reaching across the aisle when necessary, he used that political capital to catapult his more idealogical agenda.
Yet the core of Reagan's approach is the core of a realistic approach to bipartisanship. Obama should know this. He was raised and educated by the hard knocks of Chicago politicking. He knows what it means to compromise, and is tactful enough to avoid becoming too bareknuckled and do a Blago. This may be a reason why Obama noted Reagan's influence. He knows that in order to see results and win friends in Washington, a tit for tat is the right path to take, instead than arm twisting or chest thumping.
If Obama can be charismatic, calming, and sly like Reagan, he may win over enough votes to have his stimulus package pass through the Senate. Otherwise, he will have a thorn in his shoe, and his celebrity and goodwill will be wasted. The question is, is he as sly as they say he is?
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Now that the primaries, the election, the transition and the inauguration are over with, the next political obsession will be the symbolically important first 100 days of a presidency. The first 100 days set the tone of a presidential term, when a newly minted president takes the reins of the country, has good will and political capital to use, and a Congress willing to make his life easy and ride his coattails.
If Obama's first day is any indication of what sort of president he will be for the next 4 years, his term will be marked by a blinding workpace, ambitious projects within and outside of Washington, and a refusal to adopt any particular ideology as truth incarnate. On January 21st, 2009, the first full day in office, Obama signed an executive order to stop impending cases in Guantanamo Bay and close the camp within a year, close all secret interrogation sites the CIA established around the globe, asked leading generals and commanders in Iraq to draft a plan to withdraw troops within 16 months, froze all White House salaries above $100k, and shortened the reach of lobbyists into members of the White House. Next up for Obama is to take a breath.
Being the academic that he is, Obama knows the importance his deeds between today and April 29th have on the rest of his term. A languid set of months will translate into an even steeper uphill battle for his administration. Members from both parties seem to lack any sort of animosity toward Obama, even if he is not of their party or their agenda. This is the sort of good will Obama will need to catapult him into a milieu of problems his administration inherited. Again, if Obama manages to gain momentum, his mettle will still be tested, but with more strength to answer back.
Friday, December 05, 2008
The news that the current recession the United States is in actually started in 2007 was bitter-sweet. On the sweet side, it alleviated some people's fears that this debacle was barely starting, and that this would be a storm that would linger well into next year. It gave some investors hope, and so they, with that hope as currency, bought stocks thinking they were getting a bargain now, and sunnier skies later. The bitter side, however, overrides any of the sweet aftertaste.
The recession is already 12 months-long and with no sign it will end soon. If it continues into, at the very least, the first and second quarter of 2009, as many predict it will, it will have been the longest recession ever. The longest recession after our current one is the pair of ebbs the economy weathered in the late 70's, early 80's., which were 16 months-long. Come April, we will be making history.
The government reported a 6.7% jobless rate today, after over 500,000 jobs were shred in the month of November, increasing the Sept-Oct-Nov job deficit to over 1.9 million, and taking our underemployment rate (where people who want to work full-time can only find part-time work) from October 8% to November's 12.5%. We are gonna party like its 1929.
With great crisis come great opportunities. Obama's team are wringing their hands, thinking of ways to use the $500 billion (or more) stimulus package they plan to send Congress as soon as they warm up their White House desks. One of the most praised proposals is to use nearly half of it on infrastructure, such as highway renovation, electric grid refinement, and water system upgrades, among others. This would effectively create 2 milion federally financed jobs.
Obama is also focusing on using some of that money on propping up a currently private-sector industry: green energy. Either ethanol, biodisel, wind, solar, or new-kle-ur, an investment in sustainable energy will again kill (or revive, in this case) two birds with one stone: create federally financed jobs, and promote long-term economic stability. There's a reason why Obama is being compared to FDR in magazine covers, pundit's columns, and in the minds of beleaguered Americans uncertain about their futures. Obama may be from the land of Lincoln, but he is standing on Franklin's turf.
Most economists will minize the importance of a president's proposals in time of economic crisis. Directly, they do little to influence the health of the economy. Most will admit, however, that what a president does, or doesn't do, can help it recover or send it to the emergency room later on. Clinton knew not to meddle with a good thing; Bush was not so wise. Obama will now have to face a situation that pits him against a momentous decline with few tools to fix it.
If Obama wants to make his mark, next to Lincoln, FDR, and Reagan, he has an opportunity. He has been given a crisis, and with that crisis he can become great rather than good enough.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
The dust is settling, the polls are dimming, and the election junkies are going through withdrawals--we are, believe me. What to do with the ashes of this election and the seeds of the upcoming Obama presidency? What else, but speculate!
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
It's election day. I know I am not the only one with their stomach tied three knots and a half. But I am sane enough (at the moment) to give my take on what are some of the keys things to look out for as the results roll in tonight. So lets look at the trees, AND the forest:
- Virginia, North Carolina, and Indiana--oh my!: These may be the earliest predictors of what type of election this will be: a landslide, a cliff-hanger, or a reasonable rout. If Obama wins Virginia, expect at the very least, at reasonable spanking of McCain; this goes the same if he manages to win Indiana. If he wins North Carolina, then expect a landslide of at least 8 pts in the popular vote, and 100 electoral votes, against McCain. However, if Obama loses all three, then we may be in for the long-haul.
- State of Brotherly Love: McCain is betting the farm on this state...that and Sarah Palin's wardrobe. If he wins PA, his campaign will feel reinvigorated, and he will be as spry as a spring chicken.
- Men, Men, Men: How will Obama do with the male vote? Especially, white men? A big lead means a major shift in electoral demographics that have been in place since LBJ.
- Turnout: So much is hanging on how many first-time, young, African-American and independent voters come out to vote. All of these groups are typically Obama supporters, so a large turnout from them means a lot of support for Obama. In Indiana, for example, Lake County, where the predominantly African-American city of Gary is located, is still very within Obama's reach if that county votes in high numbers.
- What about a landslide? A popular vote and an electoral vote landslide is a possibility for Obama. If these happens, this will be the first time since Ronald Reagan in 1980 that a such a landslide has occurred, without an incumbent president in the race.
Monday, November 03, 2008
Less than 24hrs from now, a new page in history will be written. If either McCain or Obama win, the Bush presidency will be writing its final paragraphs, and the new president will try to right the wrongs of its legacy. In less than 24hrs, the whirlwind election year(s) will come to a close, and the victor will hopefully raise up the energies of those of us who are a little drained from this electoral marathon.
It was a year and a couple of months ago when I first signed up to be a part of this election. Back in August of 2007, I signed up to help Barack's longshot campaign surge against the Clinton juggernaut. At that point, I knew Barack fairly well. I knew he was not a liberal diety, like Kucinich; he was not a populist warrior, like Edwards; and he was not a veteran of Washington powerplays, like Hillary.
I was involved in the Kerry campaign, but for peculiar reasons. In 2004, Kerry ran away with the Democratic nomination, not because he was the best, most liked, or coolest candidate. He won because he was the luckiest. And after that, he grew in popularity in large part because he was "not Bush". I signed up to help him out mosty out of that negative trait: he was not the guy currently in office. I campaigned for him out of my hate for the Bush years and the wreck it was making out my country. I know I am not the only one who was fueled by that passion when supporting Kerry. Being not Bush took Kerry so far. As Truman once said: given the choice between a real Republican and a fake one, people will go for the real one. Kerry failed to make the case he was neither. When I signed up to Barack's campaign, my motives were not out of hate, at all. He was unique, and he was inspiring. I can't remember the last time I heard myself or anyone say that about anyone, much less a politician.
I first heard of Barack shortly before the 2004 Democratic Convention, when I heard from friends in Illinois about this skinny black dude who was really smart and likable. Then I heard his speech, loved it, saw Kerry lose, felt depressed for awhile, and forgot about this Barack fellow.
As part of my recuperation process, I started looking forward to 2008. 4 more years and he is out of here, I kept telling myself in 2004. I remembered the guy who won a Senate seat in Illinois and was a fresh new face in Washington--for more than the fact that he was the only black Senator in the whole damn place. I started doing research on him. And kept reading about him. And on and on.
Barack. What a funny name, I remember thinking. Too bad he probably will wont run until 2012, I thought. GOD! That is so long from now. Deep down, I hoped he would run in 2008, but feared that his slim Washington experience (a good and bad thing all at once) would hurt his chances of going against the likes of Hillary, or Al, or John, or other party elders.
But he did. And I followed. Carefully at first. I knew I disagreed with him on a few issues (death penalty, some immigration policies), but heard him and liked what I heard. His views have always been pragmatic, following no particular doctrine, and never trying to make one of his own. As I heard him, campaigned for him, and he campaigned for himself, I found him to be very human. He avoided pitching anything like a salesman with catchy soundbites and easy to digest answers. He took his time and when you saw him talk you knew he was always thinking. If I had to summarize why I found him so compelling, it would be because I saw his insatiable curiosity and I saw him evolve everyday. Like me, he expected the best of outcomes, but prepared for all the others.
Despite my faith in him as a person and as a candidate, I was a sober-enough thinker to understand the obstacles he was up against, even back then during the politica honey-moon . The first was a Hillary campaign that seemed to have no holes, no weakpoints, and no lack of ambition. Soon enough, this machine became rusty, tired, and outmaneuvered by the powerful flexibility of the Obama campaign. Barack, having assembled an amazing political team, stood his ground, maintained his message, and never returned the low punches Hillary threw. She wanted a dog fight, he wanted a brutally honest comparison. Keeping his cool like he always has, Barack irritated, and eventually disrupted, the Hillary campaign.
The unrelenting sense of 'cool' Barack exudes has torn down more than one political heavyweight. First Hillary, and along with her, Bill, then the punditry that fenced his campaign away from blue-collar and women voters, and then, hopefully, if tomorrow turns out to be a culmination of a two-year buildup, McCain and the old Right. McCain's ire and Palin's snarky divisiveness, have been unable to dent Barack's cool. It is almost impossible to take down an opponent that never really lets you see him sweat. Like Joe DiMaggio used to say, never show them the butterflies.
As Barack goes, so will his movement. They say there is no second-act in politics, and that may be true--if you keep acting in a political theater. Barack has a movement behind him the likes of Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez. People are mobilized and ready for involvement. He may not run again, but his influence in American politics will not fade away soon. The day I signed up to be a volunteer coordinator for his campaign over a year ago, I remember calling everyone I knew and telling them to meet with me to talk about Barack. Most of them sympathized with me, but let me know Hillary was the obvious choice, Barack had no chance. I pushed on and kept the faith. As Hillary pushed, and McCain growled, and Palin bullied, I believed more and more in Barack by how he responded, by taking the high-road. Now, at the very least, people I know respect Barack.
He is not flawless. He is, in the end, a politician, and he knows you must flex muscle in order to get gains. He is apt at finding people that help make him a better candidate, and hopefully a more skillfull executive. He has flaws, like his delayed decision-making, his thickening, but still fairly thin skin, and his reserved character. He can empathize with you, but he can make it very hard for you to do the same for him. He comes off as emotionally detached, aloof of his own pains and unwilling to show you the sweat. He is more of a general than a brother-in-arms. He wont cross the street to greet you, but he will wait for you to come to him. He may, in the end, be a tad cocky. At the core, however, he stays the same. It is this value system and character that makes his stand out.
At recent Barack rallies, when he mentions McCain or Palin, or their tried an failed policies of the past, people boo. Unlike the hateful heckling that has gone on in McCain/Palin rallies, where people yell "Terrorist" and "Kill Him" when Barack's name is mentioned, and neither McCain or Palin do anything to reprimand them, Barack does. Shushing the boos, he reminds his supporters what should substitute rancor: civic duty.
"You don't need to boo; you just need to vote"
This is why I still have faith in Barack.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
With less than a week away from the election, and the weekend being the blackhole that it is, this is a prime time to make your election bets. Unless Obama slaps a baby on television, or McCain cures cancer over the weekend, the dynamics of the election will be unchanged from now until Nov. 4th. So lets get on to predicticatin'.
- The West Coast will be all Obama's. The East Coast as south as Virginia will be all Obama.
I don't see North Carolina going for Obama unless a higher than expected young voter turnout is seen--but it would have to be incredibly high.
- Florida, much to the chagrin of Obama, Biden, and the Clinton's hardwork, will be McCain's. The argument there has rested on the hands of older jewish voters and Cubans. I don't see those two groups picking Obama over McCain at this time, but it will be closer than most think.
- Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada will all go to Obama, making tremendous inroads into Red territory. Virginia was quickly seen as a potential newcomer to the Democratic column soon after Obama did so well in its exurbs and high-tech ally, but these three Red states have been inching toward Obama throughout the summer, and now remain solidly on his side.
- Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, the working-class, manufacturing belt, will all go to Obama. Michigan and Ohio will probably show the widest margin of victory, with Pennsylvania being closer than expected due to Murtha's dumbass remarks and McCain's persistent presence there.
- Minnesotta will go to McCain, but only barely, and because of the presence his Convention, and the unveiling of the Palin pitbull that stills linger in the cold, pragmatic air.
- Iowa will turn Blue, and Missouri will be close enough to be considered a gimme-state come 2012.
- Indiana will go to McCain, and by wider margins than in other states in the region.
Monday, October 27, 2008
When you have neo-nazis trying to kill you, you know you are causing a stir. A disrupted Obama assassination attempt is just another drop in the flood of assumptions that he will win come November 4th.
Will he? I hope so--but I cannot say with certainty. Polling shows him ahead in almost all swing states, a handful of previously certified Red states, and nationwide by a comfortable (and sometimes surprisingly wide) margin. McCain has no more than a couple chances to turn this thing around, but even then he will be trying to stop a hurricane with some heavy puffing. Obama is poised to become the next president of the United States--maybe.
An Obama victory is what pollsters and pundits assumed many times over during the primaries, only to be slapped back by Hillary's never (neeeeeever) say die attitude. The margin of victory in most states was either slimmer than expected, suprisingly off, or wrong all over in favor of Hillary. Polling this year has not been consistently proven.
This is not to take back from Obama's pristine campaign. Try to think of a handful of mismanagements, gaffes, or bone-headed decisions made by his campaign. Hard to do so. Try to do the same with McCain, and you have just a handful coming from Palin in the last month.
The possibility that McCain is bound to lose in a landslide is indeed a possibility. It is even a probablitiy. But McCain is of the Hillary ilk. He fights his best when cornered, when he has nothing else to fight for. Do not be surprised if he manages to land a few roundhouse kicks in the next 8 days.
An Obama presidency is already being taken as a given, and analyzed before it even begins. This celebrity adoration has followed Obama for the last 4 years, but it has never truly phased him. This is one of the reasons the celebrity attack line didn't stick; he might know he is a celebrity, but he is able to sober-up his message enough to bore you to death and make those fickle independents think he is dull enough to be good.
McCain has never been able to brush off many of his obstacles. He is still an untrusted figure within his party, and not because of his maverickness, but because of his persona. He has never truly convinced his followers that he is the best man for the job--proof being that he only excited his campaign after picking a right-wing hockey mom . He has even caused some of the most fervent GOP supporters to beg him to throw a hail-mary, not trusting his campaign's strategies. McCain has put himself in a position George Bush never did: he has everyone, including his own party, doubting his competence as president.
Is it too early to take McCain out of this race? No. Is he likely to win? No. Does this mean Obama will lose? Doesn't matter. McCain will not soon disappear.
Monday, October 20, 2008
It is easy to forget anything that isn't Obama, McCain, Palin, Bush, Afghanistan or economy-related. The focus has been kept on the most pressing, immediate storylines and threats. However, this monomania has put us in binds before (Iraq, dismissing Aghanistan; trade deficit and unemployment, looking away from the mortgage debacle; Saddam over Osama; and Palin over every other possible option). In the case of foreign policy, the inability of our President and national conversation to multi-task efficiently between equally important topics has left us jumping from one to the other, leaving behind a pile of unaccomplished missions and torn alliances.
This could soon be the case with Latin America. As far back as the Monroe Doctrine, the United States has treated Latin America like its little brother, ready to be taught and tussled with when we deemed it necessary. "Our backyard" has a long history of American interference, for the better (the 1994 bailout of Mexico amidst a financial crisis) or for the worse (the 1954 coup of Guatemala's Jacobo Arbenz because of the financial interests of United Fruit and our government officials' stake in the company). Like the bruised little brother, Latin America has gotten used to the heavy hand of American surveillance.
These days, it looks like it needs it. The complexities of Latin American continue to grow, as do its conflicts and turbulence. In Mexico, drug wars are pitting narco-dealers against cops, cops against the military, and civilians against the government. The bloody headlines involve the latest "ajuste de cuentas" (settling debts between drug cartels) on a daily basis. In Venezuela, Hugo Chavez rules with half of the country against him, and half of the country in devotion to him. The rise in oil prices has given him unprecented power, and he is wielding that power to tarnish the American image and begin to build an Anti-American coalition of Latin American nations. In Colombia, President Alvaro Uribe is consistently being linked to far-right paramilitaries that are entrenched in a violent war with far-left revolutionaries (the FARC), jeopardizing his legitimacy to rule and killing innocent civilians in the meanwhile. Across the region, the recent financial meltdown has made things worse, laying off millions, and leaving a part of the world that has disliked George Bush's patronizing presence from the moment he set foot on their land with the most bitter of after tastes.
The American government, however, has decided to practice a hands-off approach for the first time in a long time. It has mostly stayed out of the way of Latin American trainwrecks, and only decides to intervene when its own honor (barking back at Chavez) is at stake.
This will bite them soon enough.
The other half of America may not be at the same level of turmoil as the Middle East or West Africa, but it is still our neighbor. The repercussions of an ambivalence toward their tumultous reality will be felt much quicker than coming from anywhere else. Our decision to take a quick fix approach to the Mexican economy's troubles in the 60's by introducing the 'braceros' program did very little to help Mexico, and instead was partly to blame for the increasing stream of undocumented workers that have come to the US ever since. Our ambivalence toward Argentina's financial mismanagement led to a crisis they are barely getting out of, one that many Argentinians feel is as much the US's fault as their own government's. These are only a few examples of what American monomania has produced. The inability to look at issues in a more comprehensive manner has made our future that much more vulnerable.
America has many disgruntled customers, some of which have threatened the security of the country. Latin America is not one of those. But the constant brush off they have put up with over the last 8-10 years has made them suspicious of America, the big brother. Little brother is tired of being pushed around and paid attention to only when big brother has no one else with who to yell at. Soon enough, little brother will grow and start fighting back.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
The newest CBS poll:
Saturday, October 11, 2008
By definition, a conservative is a reactionary, a person that harkens back rather than embrace forth. Turning back to look at history is necessary, but when it is used as the only guide for ideology, policy, and personality, it creates, as Marx called it, a "nightmare on the brains of the living."
Monday, October 06, 2008
The AP reports:
Ms. Palin, the Republican nominee for vice president, is the focus of a legislative inquiry into whether she abused her office by firing the public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan. Mr. Monegan says he was dismissed because he would not fire the governor’s former brother-in-law.
Lawmakers subpoenaed seven state employees to testify in the inquiry, but they challenged those subpoenas. A judge rejected that challenge last week. Because of that ruling, the Alaska attorney general, Talis Colberg, says, the employees have decided to testify.
There has been talk that this case may be decided before election day. This could end up tipping things over.
Friday, October 03, 2008
Two things could be ascertained about the characters involved in last night's debate:
- Sarah Palin's got IT. Not sure what IT is, or what IT means, but IT annoys the hell out of me...but I can see how IT appeals to middle-America voters. IT is all about "you betchas" and adorable pronounciations of "washington" and "alaska". IT is all about connecting with your inner-hockey mom (because that is such a popular sport in the mainland), and IT is all about being fiesty and cutesy at the same time.
- Biden is good. Damn good. He even surprised me. He was possibly the best at constructing an argument attractive to the undecided voter out of the two. His grasp of the facts, his succinct arguments, and clear debating style made him stand out and turn this into a best-case scenario. He was calm, and even a little sentimental. I believe, he had a better performance than Obama did last Friday.
- NYTimes: Palin did very well, but not well enough to help McCain keep this ship afloat.
- WSJ: Palin held her own; Biden was aggressive in attacking McCain, not Palin.
- Washington Post: Debate will help Palin for now, but her vagueness raises questions.
- AP: Palin's low expectations helped Palin. Biden's strong performance kept momentum on Obama's side.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Wise words often came out of Jedi Knights. One I rhetorical question voters in 2008 should heed to is one Obi-Wan offered us a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away: “Who is the greater fool? The fool, or the fool who follows the fool?”
This is a time to be judicious. This election is not all about change. It is about who will bring the change we need, the good change. It is not a battle between change agents, Obama and McCain, but between a change agent, Obama, and an extension of the current norm, a referendum on the Bush administration, McCain.
Why should voters see it this way, and not be led by ‘fools’ telling them otherwise? Senator McCain continually claims that he is a ‘maverick’, a rebel within his party, and would not win a Miss Congeniality vote in the senate. But his record voting by party lines is too long to dismiss, and his partisan worldview is too ingrained in him to set aside. Over 90% of Bush’s policies have been accepted with an Aye vote by McCain; he has only disagree with the president and the GOP at large when it favored his immediate constituency, Arizona, more than it favored his party or country. Immigration, environmental issues, pork-barrel spending, these are all issues that are favored in Arizona, leading McCain to vote for them in order to keep his job, but even then, he has flip-flopped when pressure from his party been too much to bare.
He was pro-choice, now he is pro-life; he was for renewable energy, now he is for offshore drilling; he was for immigration reform, now he is for militant border security; he was against pork-barrel spending, now he added to his ticket a governor with one of the worst pork-barrel spending records in the country; he was a straight-forward politician who was the victim of shameful, disparaging, and untrue negative ads, now he has become George W’s 2000 campaign in worse ways.
As far as his record and priorities are concerned, John McCain is as much a Republican as George W Bush, Trent Lott, and Newt Ginrich. He has always been Red, but teased with being Purple. With Sarah Palin, he is not just Red, but beet Red.
The problem with being in charge, as the Republicans have been for 14 years in Congress, 7 years in the Supreme Court, and the last 8 years in the Oval Office, is that whenever a set of problems as we have seen during the last week, month, year, dominate the forefront, then they engulf those who created them. They bite the hand that fed them. The disastrous situation of the economy, foreign policy, environment, and partisanship, are not creatures of serendipity, but your own. They are you and you are them. And you, Senator McCain, are part of them.
So when Senator McCain, or Sarah Palin, or any other Republican with a microphone in their face, start to talk about ‘change,’ or ‘reform,’ or ‘fixing Washington,’ or blame Obama, then they are living in the ridiculous. It is as if I borrowed my dad’s car, wrecked it because I was drinking, and then blamed the guy on the sidewalk who saw me crash into the tree.
You, Senator McCain, ARE the
This is not an election between two Jedi Knights. It is not between Obi-Wan and Yoda. It is between Luke and Senator Palpatine. And, yes, Senator McCain, you are the former.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
As true as that the sun will rise, the post-debate debate will do so also. Who won? Who looked presidential? Who looked awkward? Who had the best one-liner?
- Dick Morris begrudgingly gives it to Obama.
- Thinkprogress.org:"ABC's Charlie Gibson and PBS's David Brooks and Marks Shields note that McCain never looked at Obama during the debate."
- CBS Instant Poll gives a slight edge to Obama overall, but a slight edge to McCain on Iraq.
- CNN gives debate to Obama.
- Run of the entire mill reviews.
- Fox News runs 4 pro-McCain debate stories, one slyly ridiculing Obama, and a non-story.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
According to CNN.com, the gargantuan bailout that has a popularity rating lower than Bush's, has been approved.
What will McCain say now? He had claimed that at this time of 'crisis', he needed to suspend his campaign and postpone the first presidential debate this Friday, in order to rush back to Washington and save our economy! Thank you SuperMcCain!
- This was exactly what he wanted. He is a long-term Senator and has many back-alley connections with everyone in Washington. He might have already known that the bill would have been passed today as early as right before he decided to suspend his campaign. Knowing this, he called off the campaign, hoping to draw attention, surprise, and, hopefully, a sense of admiration from the American public, who would now see him as this selfless political creature (oh what a thing!). Today, the bill is passed, conincidentally right after McCain returned to Washington in his cape and tighties, and TADA! McCain and Co. will casually lay praise on themselves. This could have never been done if he weren't there to save the day!
- He has been dazed and confused since the economic disaster filled the headlines. Rattled again, he pulled a gambit like he did when he chose Sarah Palin after being scared by the successful Democratic National Convention. He suspended his campaign, thinking that would at least give him some much needed press attention, and hope Obama would bite. He didn't. He actually came out with great rebuttals ("A president should be accustomed to taking care of more than one thing at once"), and maitained a firm on keeping the debate schedule as is. Now that the deal has been done, he will go back to the debate podium, like a little rascal that got caught with spray paint on his hands, and do the deed.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Palin gets question, looks to McCain, demurs
This is what happens when campaigns let reporters into photo ops. They get all uppity and ask questions.McCain then looked around the room and gestured as if to welcome questions. The AP reporter shouted a question at Gov. Palin (“Governor, what have you learned from your meetings?”) but McCain aide Brooke Buchanan intervened and shepherded everybody out of the room.
From the pool report account of what happened after McCain and Palin's meeting with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvilli and Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko:
Palin looked surprised, leaned over to McCain and asked him a question, to which your pooler thinks he shook his head as if to say “No.”
Both candidates had their share of a grueling debate schedule this year. McCain clocked in around 20, while Obama had over 26. You would think they are both tired of talking.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Few would believe that the woman dominating this election would not be either a Clinton or an Obama, but a Palin. Hillary Clinton is taking the activist college freshman angle on her support for Obama, limiting it to a pin and a funny bumper sticker on her car that says something like "Obama Said Knock You Out". She is, essentially, half-assing it. As far as she is concerned, she looked and played nice at the convention, quelling any storylines of intra-party feuds, and keeping her in good enough shape for the next election.
But as for Michelle, where did she go? Her appearance at the Democratic National Convention, The View, and her ever improving stump speech made her a force to be reckoned with. She is a woman with keen working class and feminine sensibilities like Hillary; a figure that inspires curiosity and likeability like her husband (and she is far prettier, lovelier, attractive..umm, sorry, I digress). But she is nowhere to be found.
She may be too ready for prime-time. Obama folks may think she is better off as a non-factor than as an x-factor. They rather play it safe and keep her away from galvanizing any side, including the opposing side, than to make her Eva to Barack's Peron, Hillary to Barack's Bubba.
If this is so, the Obama campaign is stepping into familiar marshy terrain. They are playing it too safe. Michelle Obama could be the Sarah Palin Sen. Joe Biden has failed to become. Yes, she could rile up the right-wing, but she will also fire up the rest of the electorate, and even Barack and Joe themselves. If there is anything Michelle certainly is, it is a strong, confident woman. And that is something that will fire up anyone for or against the very idea of one.
Sarah Palin is nothing more than a lighting rod. And that, in politics, has more pros than cons. That is what gave Hillary her die-hard loyal support, and what gave Bush his re-election. Playing it safe, and nice, and too friendly might do Barack in. He needs to roll up his sleeves (even more), trust his wife's instincts, kick Biden in the balls, and come out swinging.
Michelle Obama could be Barack's running mate, more than Joe has. Hey, it worked for Sarah with her First Dude, Todd Palin. Why not?
Friday, September 19, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Not to take any of the heat away from the 2008 election's kitchen, but as Nov. 4th looms, one uncertainty grows: Would either Obama or McCain get re-elected in 2012?
Headlines for the past week have summarized the dire situation that has simmered for years. A 'once-in-a-century [economic] crisis'; a 'fragile' situation in Iraq; an exponentially threatening healthcare emergency; a diminishing American presence and influence abroad; an uncertain relationship with Iran, North Korea, Russia (a member of Sarah Palin's PTA), and Pakistan; and a potentially gloomier scenario if a certain candidate *COUGHoldmanwinterCOUGH* gets elected.
Putting aside what might happen in November, a good question is what might happen in November...2012?
The incoming president will inherit a bundle of problems that would need not one, but a FDR-size four terms to at least assuage them. Either a 73 year-old or a 47 year-old commander-in-chief will have such a heavy workload of titanic implications that I would not be surprised that Obama, not McCain, suffered a mental breakdown.
First off, the overall economic picture is considered anything from shaky to disastrous, depending on who you ask--or 'strong', if you ask McCain before he backpedals.
As history has taught us, the president is not so much judged by what he does but by what happens during his tenure. Bill Clinton was not necessarily an economic genius, but he was smart enough to get outta the way and enjoy the praise afterwards. W. Bush was dumb enough to mess with things when they going awry, pushing them into flammamamable territory.
Either president will have a historic deficit, high rate of foreclosures and unemployment, and thuggish Chinese competition to deal with. Emphasis on DEAL, because they will be asked to do the seemingly impossible: reverse a disastrous 8 years of economic irresponsability, negligence, and overall poisoning. The context wont matter much, since the key question every election is: Are you better off now than you were 4 years ago?
Being as objective as I can be, I have to give Obama a slightly better chance of coming out of his first term in better shape than McCain in terms economic performance of the country. For two reasons: McCain has voluntarily chained himself to the Bush tax cuts, ensuring the disaster of before will come to the fore four years from now. He IS Bush in terms of the economy.
The second reason is more imperical than psychological: Obama's economic plan has received greater praise and support by experts than McCain's 'disaster'. Coming out at least a little better than how he came in is enough to give Obama a 'good try' pat on the back by voters in 2012.
But, what about 2012 foreign policy....
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Call me Nostradamus. Well, not yet, but get ready to.
The Palin novety is done settling in the political arena, and after this fairytale was dissected, it became just another folk's tale.
Now Palin is seeing her number dip. Fast. Her favorability rating is dropping, her unfavorability rating is rising, and she has the smallest gap of all four men in the race.
She will rebound after the debate with Joe, no doubt. Even if she tanks, the McCain campaign will claim a victory for women, or torch Biden for bullying her and women around the world, or call her Joan of Arc with Tina Fey glasses. Either way, Joe just needs to not screw up too bad.
But in the long run, she will not have her shine to ride on. She may be what wins McCain this election, but she also may be on the wrong side of a landslide.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Even Ensler, the playwright, performer, and feminist activist best know for "The Vagina Monologues", wrote the following on Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
I understand Republicans now. Kinda. I am at odds with a cocky, charismatic, and stubborn woman. I have my Hillary Clinton in Sarah Palin.
I must admit, I didn't this hockey mom had it in her. She has shaken things up more than Biden every has, or will. She has galvanized the Right AND the Left. She has re-energized McCain, and put fire back in Obama's belly. She has made this election more about her, than what she stands for. So far.
As the real Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, will prove, the aura of an unbeatable female force only works so far. Issues, past, and associations end up propping you up or eating you down.
Sarah Palin is riding a wave of popularity with (gasp!) women and (double gasp!) men. Polls are showing she is more popular with the men that with her sisterhood. What gives?
She is a novelty. She is experiencing what Obama has riden for the last 4 years: a new, shining promise within the party, a figure to guarantee a future beyond 2008 no matter who wins or loses. If McCain and Palin lose in November, she will be back. Oh yes, she will. As will Barack and Michelle. McCain, however, is riding his last horse to the promised land.
Sarah is supposedly shaking up the divides, and making women McCain McCrazy. According to everyone who owns a microphone, she is successfully courting Hillary voters, men, women, moose, Jesus, and even Malia and Sasha. Or so they say.
The Palin factor is an evanescent political phenomenon. She is big at the moment because McCain is so small. She cannot continue to be this gargantuan figure in the ticket because it aint her ticket. Don't be surprised if murmurs of a McCain/Palin & Bill/Hillary comparison start to arise. He might end up looking whipped if he lets her steal the show.
With the ludicrous Lipstickgate now garnering headlines (sign of a slow news day), the introduction of Sarah Palin is moving this campaign from the historic to the histerical. Soon enough, if Obama and Biden stay on task, and the media does its job, the Palin factor will loose the steam it is riding. Sarah Palin will be revealed to be a woman that shares few, if any, positions on important issues with other women, and as a blowhard, stubborn, enraging political figure with no place in the White House. I truly feel I have found my Republican Hillary Clinton.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
I tried to being objective. I really did. And after the first day, I kept my objective head and gave it a decent grade. They delivered their message of service first and courage and all that good stuff. As a sales pitch, they made me curious enough about the product to listen more.