Monday, September 29, 2008

Banned Books Week 2008

Thanks to Amanda over at Pandagon for reminding us that it is once again Banned Books Week.

Keep stokin’ that fire, maw! We got us some Alice Walker, commie-lovin’ screed to roast!

Prep School

After her logical train wreck with Katie Couric last week, rumor has it that Sarah Palin will be spending the next two days cramming in Arizona for Thursday’s debate whereby her handlers will be trying a new strategy of giving her broader liberty to be herself.

Not a bad idea.

But there’s a problem: if Palin comes across as too slick and cocky in debate (as she did in St. Paul; remember, she won’t be preaching exclusively to the choir here), I suspect many voters will see her as the equivalent of Saran Wrap: thin, transparent, and disposable.

In order to do her boss any good, Palin must have a detailed knowledge of domestic and international issues.

And so far, she has demonstrated no signs of doing so – as shown in an unaired portion of the Couric interview wherein Palin reportedly blanked when asked to cite a Supreme Court case other than Roe v. Wade.

The Beginning of The End

The greatest risk (or folly) about making political forecasts is that they are solely dependent on what is happening today – not to mention subject to virtually anything that pops up tomorrow throwing one’s election year strategy into a thresher – such as, say, a surprise indictment, or the press finding out about that dead hooker in Barbados last spring.

Still, although my own predictions about which presidential candidate will win this cycle has evolved with time and polling trends, I am beginning to feel that John McCain’s presidential goals may be on a permanent slide.

The reason why is because I’m seeing today in Team McCain mistakes similar to those made by George H.W. Bush in 1992 when running against Bill Clinton – that is, engaging in petty, spitball-like attacks versus offering voters actual solutions for what the nation is going through, which today--as it did 16 years ago--is leaning heavily on the economy.

Further, like Bush The First, McCain is doing a poor job of learning from his mistakes, and repeatedly making kneejerk decisions (e.g. Georgia, Palin, obstructing the bailout plan) which are backfiring on him.

And as what could be argued as a result, McCain’s polling numbers—both nationally and in key states—are dropping steadily, which poses the natural question of what the hell McCain’s gonna pull out of his ass this time to hog the election spotlight.

My guess is nothing. Well, either that or a handful of pocket lint.

McCain has already played (and re-played) his trump cards, and unless that proverbial shot of a dead hooker in Obama’s bed surfaces (and awfully soon), I think his candidacy will begin to flatline.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Setting The Table

So the National League post-season schedule has finally been set.

This Wednesday, the Cubs begin their five-game series versus the LA Dodgers, and Philadelphia plays Milwaukee, which today clinched Wild Card berth after the Mets and Carlos Voltron died.

Forecasting the MIL-PHL series is easy--the Brewers will be swept in three—but I think the Cubs will have a challenge with the Dodgers.

Still, I’ll say the Cubs win in four games--perhaps five--and go onto the NLCS versus PHL.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

More Bad Mojo for Palin

This time, via CNN's Jack Cafferty....

The Bloom Is Definately Off The Rose

The footage above was taken last night outside a Philadelphia pub where Sarah Palin had stopped in to view the first presidential debate on TV.

Yikes. The only things missing from the crowd are pitchforks and torches.

Elsewhere, via Ed Schultz and HuffPo, there are rumblings on the interwebs today that Palin was recently put through a mock debate and press conference by Team McCain, and did horribly in both -- prompting some to begin guesstimating when Palin will resign as McCain’s running mate for “family reasons.”

(If so, Palin were to drop out, it would have to be very soon so her replacement (some say Rudy Guliani, who was with McCain last night) could take over in time to debate Joe Biden on Thursday. Also, bear in mind that Tina Fey is supposed to be on SNL tonight doing another Palin sketch; even money says it will be one mocking her interview with Katie Couric.)

But all nuttiness aside, I’m taking these Palin-to-resign rumors with a block of salt – yet also I can’t imagine that McCain’s staff isn’t very concerned about her ability to cope with the world beyond Alaska. So far, with the exception of St. Paul—which featured her reading a canned speech—Palin's post-convention performance has been dismal.

Either way, barring any sudden news out of Team McCain between now and next Thursday, I still expect Palin will be in St. Louis next week, and perform well versus Biden. Yes, Palin may be in over her head, but I’m not going to make the mistake of underestimating her.

And unless they are very stupid—and it doesn’t look like it--neither will Biden and Obama.

Friday, September 26, 2008


The ebb and flow of tonight’s surprisingly debate was engaging – if a tad dull in the middle.

At the immediate conclusion, I was willing to give McCain a slight edge – yet I was impressed with Obama’s mastery of the issues, and ability to resist his habit of coming across as a professor. As for McCain, his well of experience was clear, but inconsistently applied. McCain’s failure to look Obama in the eye while the latter was speaking to him also struck me as awkward, and frankly a bit rude.

But for the record, I’m going to give both candidates good marks in a debate I’m going to call a draw.

Here He Comes To Save The Day!

Now that John McCain has decided to grace Barack Obama and the American public with his presence in Oxford, Mississippi, tonight for the first presidential debate, I’m curious on what to expect from him.

Doubtless, McCain will be in a feisty mood, but considering how his campaign has been skidding badly amidst Wall Street’s current embolism, I question what he has to offer (beyond endless vows of reform) in terms of actual solutions – because God knows McCain has offered few this year.

The rest of tonight’s debate will address Sarah Palin’s favorite topic: foreign policy, which is McCain’s strong suit. Here, look for him to repeat the terms “surge” and “General David Petraeus” enough times to qualify for a drinking game. As for Obama’s part, he will likely retreat to a defensive position on foreign issues, which will do little to inspire voters already anxious about his ability to lead.

However, Obama is reportedly practicing heavily for tonight’s debate, so I do not expect him to lose per se.

If anything, I’m expecting a draw – but, of course, we’ll see.

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and his wife, Cindy, this afternoon
on final approach to Oxford.


I don’t believe that Sarah Palin is a stupid person.

Woefully inadequate to be vice-president (or God forbid, president)? Hell, yes. But not stupid.

Yet considering how badly Palin has responded in media interviews—a whopping total of four in the past month, including People Magazine—since her debut as John McCain’s running mate I sometimes wonder.

Truth be told, Palin is now languishing under the same condition that some claim hurt Al Gore in 2000 – that is, too many consultants filling Palin’s head with too much advice.

And the results could not be worse for Team McCain.

In her most recent interview with Katie Couric, Palin shared her rambling worldview of a globe beset with “good guys” versus “bad,” and America assuming the role of town marshall. Plus, when given a chance by Couric to backtrack on her public joke of a claim that Alaska’s proximity to Siberia gives her foreign policy experience, Palin happily reaffirmed her imaginary status as would-be ambassador to Moscow (not that she’s ever met with Russian officials).

Given all of the above, it’s no wonder that Palin’s handlers are shading her from the media, as they did while she panhandled for foreign policy tips at the UN this week. As a result, some conservative columnists are openly suggesting that Palin quit, and go home.

(And on Newsweek, Fareed Zakaria is seconding the motion).

Nevertheless, her next big task is to prep for her debate with Joe Biden next week – which I think Palin will hold her own in. Yet by the same token, you can’t tell me that Team McCain won’t be chewing towels backstage, and praying that Palin won’t mortify the public and her boss. The GOP convention may have cast Palin in the minds of many Republicans as a conservative superhero, but in the weeks after, her invisible jet has shown disturbing signs of vapor lock.

Yet no matter what happens in the VP debate, one thing is certain: barring a killer “You’re no Jack Kennedy” moment, both sides will leave claiming their man did a magnificent job – even (or especially) if it’s a fucking lie.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

When Baseball Meets Robots

Wow. This Onion article is absolutely brilliant, and not just because it makes the Cubs look good either.

Struggling Mets Combine To Form Carlos Voltron

September 25, 2008

NEW YORK—Facing the Cubs in the midst of a three-game losing streak, the desperate Mets sprinted out to the field Tuesday, launched themselves high into the air above Shea Stadium, and combined their bodies to form a 400-foot tall fielding robot called Carlos Voltron.

According to eyewitnesses, before the Mets players completed the complicated procedure, in which they fused their physical selves and combined their talents to form the 20,000-ton robot, manager Jerry Manuel called the team to the dugout, where he commanded them to prepare their interlock systems for activation, connect the appropriate dyna-therms, charge up the infra-cells to full capacity, engage the mega-thrusters, and give it their best out there.

"After losing eight of our last 12 games, forming Carlos Voltron is our only hope to save our playoff chances," Manuel said. "We really need power this late in the season, and the 2.5 million pounds of thrust in Voltron's solid-fuel boosters should give us the lift we need."

Click here for the rest of the article.


Oh, boy! Lookee what I got! And who’d a thunk Batgirl was such a potty-mouth?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Is it me, or has the current month dragged on horribly - as if six months’ worth of days have been packed into twenty-three (thus far)?

Loose Ends

Today I laughed out loud when I heard the Detroit Lions has finally—finally—fired their General Manager Matt Millen.


Because it should have happened years ago, and that it took Lions ownership so long to pull this trigger should give Chicagoans comfort that their team is not, in fact, the worst-run franchise in the NFL.

But there’s always next Sunday to prove me otherwise.

Also, after last night’s loss at Minnesota, the Chicago White Sox must win three of their last five regular season games to qualify for the post-season. But as much as I’d like to see an all-city World Series, I’m not betting on it.

With due respect to my Sox fan pals, the team just isn’t that good.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Henry V (1989)

Above is Derek Jacobi's performance of Shakespeare's prologue from "Henry V" starring Ken Branaugh; reportedly, Jacobi nailed it in one take.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Where Credit Is Due

Although those closest to me know I’m disenchanted (to put it mildly) with the creative direction of Marvel Comics these days, I’ll give Matt Fraction and Doug Braithwaite credit for their fine work on the “Secret Invasion: Thor” mini-series, in which Goldilocks and Beta Ray Bill repel a nasty Skrull invasion in Asgard, Oklahoma.

Say what you will about Mr. Ed, but I think he rocks.

Sasquatch Mad

Of all the Jack Links commercials, this one is my favorite.

Moment of Truth

In recent days, I’ve been hearing talk about the so-called “Bradley Effect” and its possible impact on the coming election.

In a nutshell, the theory goes that black candidates must poll higher (say by 10 points) in major elections to compensate for white voters lying to pollsters about the person they claim to support – this, to cover up for their latent prejudices, and true intention to back a white candidate on Election Day.

Perhaps naively, I dismissed talk of the “Bradley Effect,” and its possible affect on Obama’s final numbers, believing that greater concerns like the economy would trump racism in most voters’ minds – especially in swing states like Ohio and Michigan.

Then I read the following AP article, based on a Stanford University poll querying white voters, and their attitudes toward blacks in general.

And I realize it’s just one poll, but the results are not good – not just for Obama’s sake, but for the sake of ourselves as a nation.

If people choose not to vote for Obama due to his politics in November, and McCain wins, fair enough; that’s others exercising their constitutional rights.

But if this election turns out to be as close as projected, and is tipped to McCain on a racist mentality, then I will be truly ashamed of this country.

In fact, this country can go to hell.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Bad Week

After his campaign has suffered a brutal week—mostly due to its own ineptitude—I think John McCain and his staffers may be well on their way to irrelevance, as indicated by a stop in Minnesota today where McCain strangely claimed this election is now about voters deciding whether to put “country first, or Obama first.”

Senator, what the hell are you talking about?

First, you responded to Obama knocking your ostrich-like statement that “the fundamentals of our economy are strong” as Wall Street was short-circuiting behind you by claiming that he was attacking U.S. workers (he wasn’t, just as Obama never called Sarah Palin a “pig”), and now your sense of reality is cruising even deeper into Abe Simpson Country.

Further, your poll numbers are suddenly dropping, and your running mate’s once-powerful bloom is most definitely off her rose.

Either way, were the election to be held next week—and McCain should thank God it’s not—his campaign would be toast on a stick.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I was going to wait until the Cubs clinched this weekend to blog about their back-to-back division crowns, but today’s surreal, late-inning comeback against Milwaukee is cause enough to begin celebrating early.

You can't see it, but this little guy is giving the rest of
the National League the finger right now. Y'know why? 'Cause he kicks ass.

Bottom of The Barrel

No matter who wins the presidential election this fall, I believe I can safely say that no other will ever match 2008 in terms of mouth-breathing insanity from the right.

I’m not even talking about Sarah Palin’s moronic claim (and people like Cindy McCain backing it up) that Alaska’s proximity to Siberia gives her foreign policy cred.

Even better, WorldNutDaily columnists Eric Rush and noted, right-wing transsexual Ann Coulter today tear their proverbial hair out over an admittedly lame quote by Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) claiming that Jesus Christ—like Obama—was a community organizer – prompting Rush and Coulter to mutually flake out, and compare Obama to (wait for it) Adolf Hitler and Satan.


Even if I tried—I mean, really, really tried--I don’t think I could ever be that stupid.

In fact, if nothing else, Rush and Coulter are living proof that someone truly needs to get to work on a time machine, then go back to the 17th century, and mow down the Puritans like grass.

Well, either that, or send them all to Detroit. That place needs some churchin' up, big time.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Leeloo Dallas, Multi-Pass

With my passport application filed today, I’ll soon be legal for my business trip to Germany in seven weeks.

And as I’ll have an open day to explore Munich, I’ve done some advanced scouting via Frommer's to plan an itinerary of sites I want to check out. My basic plan is to take a train downtown, and use Marienplatz as a jumping-off point to make a big circle. I’ll use public markets for meals; they’re a cheaper food source than Munich restaurants (or so I’ve read), plus the authenticity is unbeatable.

Lucky for me, I love goulash and spaetzle.

I’d like to visit Dauchau (which my grandfather helped liberate with US troops in 1945), but won’t have time this trip. Chances are, however, I’ll return to Munich next spring for another business jaunt, at which time I’ll see the camp, or perhaps take a day tour of Bavarian castles.

But we’ll see about that.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Voltron Karaoke

Tune up those pipes, kodomo! Let's sing it like we mean it! An ichi, and a futatsu....!

A Memo To Carly Fiorina (RE: Get a Fucking Sense of Humor)

Somewhere in New Jersey, a girl named Sarah Grace is extremely pissed off (and even money says so is her puppy).

PS: As well as lacking humor, apparently Miss Fiorina lacks political brains as well, as indicated by her embarrassing both McCain and Palin in a recent radio interview.

As a result, Fiorina has been reportedly benched by an angry McCain, and barred from doing future interviews as a campaign surrogate.

Oh well, there goes that sweet Ambassadorship to Micronesia.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Count To Ten Slowly

Whenever you're in a foul mood, try looking at the above shot of a display
of chocolate bunnies in an airport shop. C'mon, look!
How could anyone gaze at those sweet, high fructose-powered smiles
and still be grouchy or pissed off? These guys are pure, unadulterated happiness.

Sick Skies

This weekend in Chicago has been one of those bleak, rainy days which remind me why I should never move to Seattle, or anywhere else in the Pac Northwest.

I’m sure they are lovely places to live, but there’s something about such gray dampness seeping into your bones that makes you feel like the world has turned into a graveyard.

David Foster Wallace (1962-2008)

Although I never knew the guy, I wanted to place a brief post in memoriam of author David Foster Wallace, 46, who sadly committed suicide this past week in California where he had been teaching college English.

The only reason I know who DFW was is due to him having taught at Illinois State University (where I went to school) in the ‘90s, where he had a reputation of being a quirky, brilliant rebel – which prompted me to happily register for one of Wallace’s writing classes only to be disappointed later when he backed out at the last minute, and the course was handed to another, far less interesting instructor.

Either way, his passing—especially under such sad circumstances—merits a note here today.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven Years After

Diana Ascendant

Well, so much for my resolution not to blog about politics for a while....


It’s official: Sarah Palin has become the Republican nominee for President of The United States.

Whether she is atop the GOP ticket or not, John McCain has officially been eclipsed by his running mate. Right now, he’s just a prop--and a dusty one at that—as indicated today by a Northern Virginia crowd of 20,000 (many women) who greeted Palin with mass appeal only to wander off after she left the podium, and McCain began to speak.

And why not?

These women didn’t come to see crusty old Steve Trevor, they wanted Wonder Woman, sworn protector of Paradise Island (which is apparently somewhere in the Aleutians) and little babies everywhere.

While campaigning solo in Pittsburgh yesterday, this “Where’s Sarah?” effect was as noticeable for McCain at a dainty meet-and-greet with local voters. And as a result, the stark public contrast of these event types—those staged with McCain and Palin together, and others with them apart—has prompted a quick decision among McCain’s handlers to put them side by side on as many future campaign stops as possible.

Thus, the new reality of McCain’s political fate could not be clearer: his presidency is riding solely on Sarah Palin’s ability to draw in evangelicals, and married women voters.

Issues, be damned.

Health care costs? Jobs? The weak dollar? Screw it all.

Palin is a majority investor in his future, and McCain knows it. He might as well have wed another beer heiress; Palin’s got his manhood locked in the fridge. And were she to suddenly quit the ticket and flee to Juneau tonight, the resulting black hole among Republicans would instantly destroy any chances for a McCain victory in November.


When one realizes how blindingly fast Palin’s rise to political stardom has come on (based on a single speech), it feels either breathtaking or deeply disturbing.

I’m not sure which.

For the sake of argument, though, I’ll defer to the disturbing side – bearing in mind that Palin’s super-ascension has skipped the traditional electoral process of grilling candidates for almost two years, a routine which is painstaking for a reason: no one wants a person elected to the White House without examining them from all possible angles.

Most vying for the presidency ran this gauntlet for 18 months; Palin (via being a heartbeat away from it) will do it in two.

And while she’s a stranger to national and global affairs, her admirers don’t seem to care because, hell, she’s Princess Diana: sculpted from clay, given life by the gods, and imbued with the power to raise five kids, collect Federal earmarks, plus field a battery of G8 meetings with world leaders before streaking home to put her baby down for the night.

Now that’s multi-tasking.

From any perspective, Sarah Palin is a very modern model of a modern superhero – with a plastic Baby Jesus under one arm, and a 12-gauge under the other. And whether her one Achilles Heel (e.g. kryptonite, the color yellow, knowing dick about foreign affairs) is exposed in the coming weeks or not is anyone’s guess.

However, were I John McCain, I might seriously be concerned about GOP voters ignoring his name on the November ballot, and writing in Palin’s instead.

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

In Repose

I may live to break this vow in 24 hours, but I am heretofore making a resolution not to blog about politics or the presidential election until September 26, which is the night of the first debate between McCain and Obama.

I think the final straw for me was today’s Marsha Brady-esque display from McCain’s people via Barack Obama’s “lipstick on a pig” comment this Tuesday, and then how so many conservative bloggers bought the whole routine, shaking their digital mitts amid outraged cries of sexism.

As such, the sheer stupidity of this election is making me nauseous, prompting a leap off this civic haywagon for a spell to blather on about other topics.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


While I understand that American politics is a contact sport, there are—or should be—limits on simple decency which should be both expected and adhered to.

However, I have a hard time seeing any decency whatsoever in John McCain’s latest ad titled “Education”:

You might have noticed the Kansas City Star is used as a source for this claim against Barack Obama’s record on education legislation.

Here is the paper’s official response:

A new 30-second TV ad attacks Barack Obama's record on education, saying that Obama backed legislation to teach "comprehensive sex education' to kindergartners." The announcer then says, "Learning about sex before learning to read? Barack Obama. Wrong on education. Wrong for your family."

Why that's wrong: This is a deliberately misleading accusation. It came hours after the Obama campaign released a TV ad critical of McCain's votes on public education. As a state senator in Illinois, Obama did vote for but was not a sponsor of legislation dealing with sex ed for grades K-12.

But the legislation allowed local school boards to teach "age-appropriate" sex education, not comprehensive lessons to kindergartners, and it gave schools the ability to warn young children about inappropriate touching and sexual predators.

Y’know, although I do not support John McCain’s ticket for president this year, I always had a sense of admiration for his sense of patriotism and fairness. However, by putting his name on this ad, in my view, McCain has officially slunk down into the political frogshit with the likes of Lee Atwater and Karl Rove.

It is beyond sickening.

Down To Dayton (And Other Projections)

Now that the DNC and RNC conventions are now blissfully over, I've gone back to the electoral college map to adjust for last week's Palin-related bounce, and its impact on the states.

Last time I did this, I projected a narrow, 10-point margin of victory for McCain 274-264.

But now, after taking into account the GOP bounce gradually easing off, I'm leaning back toward an election year toss-up which again teeters on Ohio where economic issues are king.

So here it is: after all other states are locked in for McCain or Obama, whichever candidate scores Ohio, scores the big prize.

And barring an October Surprise, fatal gaffe, or dead hooker found in someone's trunk, that's pretty much how it's going to play out over the next eight weeks.

But aside from all this, just for fun let's say my original prediction is right, and McCain wins election.

What can we expect his administration to resemble politically?

My guess is that McCain would be a decent president whose duration in office would be questionable—even McCain's supporters ponder the odds of him being able to serve two terms--and his legacy one of political frustration.

Let's be serious, shall we?

McCain and Palin can sell the fairy tale of them gliding into Washington on a golden chariot of reform to give it a kick in the pants, expecting Democrats and Republicans to snap into a newly responsible bunch who suddenly abhor earmarks, as much as they want.

But both reality and history say that little will change in how the Federal government does business.

Pigs will be pigs.

But ultimately, after his time at bat is finished, I'll wager a Cliff Notes version of McCain's presidency (if it happens) would describe him as a glorified chair-warmer whose greatest achievements (in the eyes of his party) will be replacing Supreme Court Justices John Paul Stevens, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg when they inevitably retire.

Quite frankly, I don't think McCain will have time to do much else.

A single term goes by awfully quickly, and McCain's successors will be jockeying positions for his job almost immediately after he leaves his inaugural ball.

American Idol

Judging from how the McCain/Palin ticket is aggressively pushing a campaign of personality over, say, any hard issues impacting the country, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this election year will double as a national IQ test.

If people want to support McCain and Palin for their stances on energy policy, and…well, energy policy (because they're not standing on anything else) that's fair enough.

But if these same voters are only supporting the ticket because McCain was a POW (as we are reminded on a daily basis), and Palin is a fiesty mom of five (ditto) then I question whether they are intelligent enough to vote at all.

Just ask Paula Abdul...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Lock & Load

Continuing to dig a rhetorical hole to China on questions over his running mate’s experience, John McCain claimed this weekend that Sarah Palin’s authority over the Alaska National Guard is another firm example of her foreign policy credentials.

However, according to the same Politico article:

[Governors] don’t have any command role in overseas deployments, or in the national security and foreign policy decisions surrounding them. That’s the prerogative of the president.

Governors are commanders of their state National Guard units, but their roles are restricted to deployments of soldiers and airmen within their states, said Randy Noller, a spokesman for the National Guard Bureau, the federal defense agency that oversees the Army and Air National Guards.

Thank you for playing, Senator.

Chad Vader - Day Shift Manager

Friday, September 5, 2008

Let's Do The Time Warp Again

Was chatting today with a woman (named Lisa) about the election on a Christian blog, and she told me about something which surprised me, but didn't shock me either.

Lisa said her mother-in-law (and other middle-aged Christian women she knows) does not to vote because she subscribes to a "neo-Amish" (her word, not mine) ultra-conservative belief that says the man of the house votes for the household, and no one else. Lisa added these women actually support their lack of vote, and feel all Christian women should follow suit vis-à-vis a patriarchal authority from God.

However, a bit more disturbingly, Lisa noted that this same sub-culture also feels that no women or blacks should be allowed to hold office.

Thus, I guess Barack Obama can write off any support from the "neo-Amish" voting bloc this year.

Last Call

On the final day of the RNC convention, a few things occurred to me (other than Republican Party being whiter than Walton's Mountain):

Although I didn't watch the whole thing (it almost put me to sleep), I found John McCain's speech to be sincere and touching, particularly, in that much of it (via a retelling of his POW days) had nothing to do with elections. Instead, it was a first-hand page out of history. And all politics aside, no one can ever say that McCain is not a true American hero.

However, by using the previous night to charge the masses via Sarah Palin's big debut, the RNC con ended on a comparatively quiet note. This provided an emotionally uneven feel to the week for Republicans. After all, in theory, it should be the presidential candidate who brings down the house, not his running mate. But after gorging on the fierce, "community organizers suck" tone set by Palin and Rudy Guliani the night before (which helped generate $10M in new donations for Obama in 24 hours), the emotional contrast via McCain's low-key address left GOP conventioneers in a rhetorical lull when they should have been more excited than ever.

Anyhow, here are the final lessons for John McCain this week: a) never let your running mate upstage you at your own party; b) when the economy is the top issue this election year, instead of platitudes, try sharing a detailed solution voters can refer to, and; c) when co-opting Obama's change mantra, recall that it's Republicans who've been in charge of DC for 20 or the past 28 years.

None of these realities inspire much zeal for McCain's candidacy, nor his party as a whole.

Nevertheless, the clock on the election's final 60 days is running. And Sarah Palin's got a learning curve the size of Mt. Fuji to tackle.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sarah Palin, Who You Crappin?

Some of the feistiness Sarah Palin dished out in St Paul last night was bound to carry over to today, but it doesn’t excuse her campaign from lying about Obama’s involvement (or lack thereof) in the media’s recent scrutiny over her family life.

Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Thursday blamed supporters of the Democratic presidential ticket for spreading "misinformation and flat-out lies" about her and her family.

But her spokeswoman said Obama's campaign was not responsible, even though a Palin fundraising letter named the Democratic ticket with the words: "the Obama-Biden Democrats have been vicious in their attacks directed toward me, my family and John McCain."

The Obama campaign has raised questions about Palin's qualifications based on her six years as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, and less than two years as governor, but Obama himself has said her family should be off-limits. He also said he would fire any staffer who talks about it.

Palin spokeswoman Maria Comella said: "We appreciate the fact that he came out and condemned this kind of personal attack." Asked whether Palin thought Obama or his running mate, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, were personally responsible for the attacks mentioned in the letter, Comella said, "No."

Tell you what, hot pants: until you get your facts straight about your political rivals, please do us all the common courtesy of shutting the fuck up.

Steak Knives

Last night's national debut by AK Governor Sarah Palin at the RNC Convention served notice to Democrats on a couple of points, the most obvious being she intends to fill the role of John McCain's attack dog with backwoods zeal.

Her frequent attacks on Obama—which often bordered on obnoxious—and the Republicans' favorite target, the media, gave the convention crowd exactly what it wanted: buckets and buckets of bloody, raw meat – first doled out as an appetizer by Rudy Guliani who happily mocked Obama, and then laid out as a main course by Palin.

The result was a floor packed with white folks—and a smattering of minorities—utterly unified in their devotion for a McCain/Palin ticket.

So what did we learn last night?

We learned that Palin can rehearse and deliver a good speech—written by McCain's own Matthew Scully—but how she performs in less structured venues will be another matter. We also found that Palin's gaping lack of experience may (disturbingly) not matter in November if her campaign role is to play McCain's muscle taking on one straw man after another while making her boss look as sympathetic as possible.

And finally, above all, we learned that Sarah Palin is an inspiring figure. In fact, this morning she inspired me to make a donation to Planned Parenthood in her honor.

Either way, the Obama-Biden ticket had better find a way to defuse Palin, and yesterday.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Dead Man's Party

After watching post-speech analysis of the RNC convention last night, I was struck by an observation by Newsweek's Howard Fineman that in the Xcel Center in St. Paul he could find no banner or sign with the word "Republican" on it, but tons with the names of John McCain and Sarah Palin.

The reason why, as was obvious all night, is that the GOP is doing its darndest to pretend the last eight years of Bush-Cheney never existed, and that the last "true" presidents in office were (apparently) Ronald Reagan and Teddy Roosevelt.

Also, floor interviews were rife with spin over Sarah Palin's breathtaking resume as a small town mayor, and thus far, brief time as Alaska's governor – so much that in one instance, Newt Gingrich confronted an MSNBC reporter who had the sexist gall to question her qualifications to be VP.

Either way, Palin's keynote speech tonight will be hailed as a titanic success by the GOP (and Fox) tonight, and will be a simple talk on basic American principles like God, mom, apple pie, and John McCain – resulting in Palin being carried triumphantly from the hall on her supporters' shoulders.

Finally, in other comments by Howard Fineman last night, he noted an old saying in American politics: Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line – meaning the latter tend to be very disciplined about supporting their candidates. On the matter of Sarah Palin, I there's no doubt about this; she is being hailed by Republicans as a divine cross between Joan of Arc, Carol Brady, and Nanook of The North (who is never to be questioned on her resume).

But less we forget, before Palin surfaced last Friday in Dayton, OH, McCain's support from his conservative base was not overwhelming.

So I guess Republicans do fall in line, but only under the right circumstances.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Salt Mining

Although I take most election polling with a grain of salt, the following one cited by Andrew Sullivan on public reaction to Sarah Palin’s bid as McCain’s VP.

Here’s the gist of it:

On the critical question, "With Palin As Vice-Presidential Nominee, Are You More Or Less Likely To Vote For McCain," there's a striking result. Among those already for McCain, 68 percent say it makes them more likely to vote for him; only 6 percent say less; and 23 percent said no impact. Among those already for Obama, Palin made only 9 percent of them more likely to switch to McCain, 59 percent less likely, and 30 percent said it would make no difference.

But among the critical undecideds, the Palin pick made only 6 percent more likely to vote for McCain; and it made 31 percent less likely to vote for him. 49 percent said it would have no impact, and 15 percent remained unsure. More to the point: among undecideds, 59 percent said Palin was unready to be president. Only 6 percent said she was. If the first criterion for any job is whether you're ready for it, this is a pretty major indictment of the first act of McCain's presidential leadership.

One other striking finding. If McCain thought he could present Palin as a moderate, he was wrong. A whopping 69 percent view her as conservative (37 percent as very conservative), and only 13 percent see her as moderate.

Yes, it’s an early poll, but considering the election is just two months away, it’s also one that would trouble me (were I Republican).