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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Civil Disobedience for Autonomy

posted by on October 30 at 11:46 AM

One of the toughest things to imagine, if I get married, is making a difficult medical decision for my partner when she cannot do so herself. Intubation or death by asphyxiation? Call in the organ donation team, or the morgue?

It's one of those promises we make to one another, when committing ourselves to a partner. In sickness and health. We agree to take on the horrible responsibility of being the one charged with making those difficult decisions for the person we love, thinking of and for them when they cannot.

Shortly, I'll be returning to the wards, treating patients as a medical student. I'll soon be the person asking husbands and wives for these difficult decisions. Stronger than most who find themselves in medical school, I believe in the autonomy of patients. I believe that everyone competent deserves to choose what happens to themselves in a hospital--when they choose to end their suffering, and to whom they wish to delegate this supreme authority. In these difficult and wrenching decisions, I believe the state, the community and even the doctor should be quiet. As a physician, it is my role to honestly present the choices and implement whatever course the patient or the person he or she loves decides. The churches, the ignorant and intolerant, the meddling sanctimonious crowd should stay silent.

The opponents of Washington's I-1000 and proponents California's Proposition 8 both wish to interject, to restrict choices for others with their notions of what is right and wrong, comfortable and uncomfortable. They wish to impose their narrow moral sense on everyone, using my hands as a doctor to do so. What if I refuse to follow their intolerant and meddling desires?

What if I refuse to ignore the pleas of a patient facing unbearable suffering?

If California's Proposition 8 passes, David could very well get a letter informing him that his marriage is annulled. What if I refuse to listen to this letter, if it should come? David's marriage is as real and as valid as any in my experience. Why should I allow the intolerant, even if it is a intolerant majority of the electorate, to dictate their false moral posturing through my actions.

Why should American physicians be expected to tell a sobbing husband he cannot see his husband in the hospital? To tell a mother in agony she must suffer for a few hours more, in service of those who cling to a medieval notion of the morality of human mortality? It's all too easy to ask for bigotry and coercive enforcement of your faith in a voting booth. It's quite another to the be individual who actually must execute this cruel acts. As a doctor, one of my central duties is to protect the right of my patients to make decisions for themselves, to stand up for their autonomy when they are too weak to do so.

I deeply and sincerely hope that the voters will recognize the right of each of us to steer the course of our own lives, and make our own decisions. If not, I should refuse to acknowledge unethical laws, laws that interject community power into a decision that should be left to our own conscience.

My fellow medical students and doctors should do so as well.

5 Days...

posted by on October 30 at 11:15 AM


Doody Calls

posted by on October 30 at 11:07 AM

The other day a friend came over to my house all in a tizzy. He said that he'd just been listening to NPR, and was fucking positive he heard them interview an Ohio McCain/Palin supporter named "Moose Doody."



It turns out, after some careful Googling, that Moose Doody does exist. He's the head of the Lawrence County Republicans, and his name is actually Ray "Moose" Dutey. Well, sorry for the misunderstanding, dude(y). But if you don't like being called Moose Doody (especially during an election in which actual moose doody has become strangely relevant), maybe stay off the radio. Because on the radio, no one can see you spell. On the radio, you are Moose Doody.

Attacking Obama With Arab Music

posted by on October 30 at 10:45 AM

McCain again hits the Ahmadinejad panic button, this time with a one-minute ad that features images of Obama with ominous-sounding Arab music playing in the background:

Joe Klein:

It's all inflammatory nonsense, of course. Obama has said that he would meet with the Iranian leadership without "preconditions"--namely, the Bush Administration requirement that the Iranians stop processing uranium. Of course, the Bush Administration doesn't seem so set on that precondition anymore, either. Again, this is a purposeful effort to mislead on Obama's actual position: he would begin lower-level negotiations with the Iranians, and see how much progress could be made. That is a position supported by many of McCain's own diplomatic supporters.

But that's not really what this is all about: this ad--with its Middle Eastern music--is all about implying that Obama isn't one of us, that he's one of them. It is shameful, in the extreme. It's also really bad policy.

"What More Do You Want Before You're Gonna Vote For a Black Guy? What More Do You Want?"

posted by on October 30 at 10:30 AM

Chris Matthews goes there. (Beginning at 2:55.)

Via Jack & Jill Politics.

America's Next Top Porn Title

posted by on October 30 at 10:23 AM

Larry Flynt busted out Nailin' Palin in record time. It seems to me that a gay porn company needs to do its part and get Joe the Plumber's Crack out before that douchedribble's 15 minutes are over.

I thought John Stewart's takedown of Joe the Plumber last night was a lot better than his interview with Barack Obama. The Joe the Plumber bit starts around 4:15.

Not Getting 100 Percent of the Black Vote

posted by on October 30 at 10:15 AM

The latest from Let Freedom Ring:

The Ratings

posted by on October 30 at 9:50 AM

The Obamamercial, about which you all had quite a bit to say, beat Ross Perot's ratings for his similar 1996 infomercial and also beat the evening's ratings for Pushing Daisies on ABC (the network may have been trying, in vain, to score a ratings coup by refusing to air Obama's spot).

Via The Caucus:

More than 20 percent of American households watched Barack Obama’s 30-minute campaign commercial on Wednesday night, according to preliminary ratings.

In the top 56 local TV markets, the household rating for Mr. Obama’s message was 21.7, Nielsen said. The rating indicates the percentage of homes that watched the program. While it will be impossible to judge how many undecided voters the infomercial reached, Mr. Obama’s message clearly reverberated across the country, drawing more viewers than most prime time programs.

The commercial was particularly high-rated in several battleground states. According to Nielsen, 29 percent of households in the Philadelphia media market, 28 percent of households in the West Palm Beach/Ft. Pierce, Fl. media market, and 27.2 percent of households in the Greensboro/High Point/Winston Salem, N.C. media market viewed the ad...

“If Barack Obama fails to win the election, perhaps the networks should hire him to entertain viewers on Wednesday nights,” The Hollywood Reporter suggests.

Where's Joe?

posted by on October 30 at 9:39 AM

Looks like Joe the Plumber has gone rogue too.

Via Kos.

The Closer

posted by on October 30 at 9:01 AM

Two new television spots from Obama, one negative and one positive, as he ends the race by drowning McCain in ad buys:

Via Ben Smith.

Obama Rally Set Up

posted by on October 30 at 8:56 AM

OK, things are getting interesting here in Obama's adopted home town. The outfit that runs Lollapalooza is in charge of the Grant Park rally, and, besides the lucky 70,000 or so who will be inside the fences and through Secret Service checkpoints, the city is bracing for a million people to head downtown. This is making lots of folks very nervous, since the last few big downtown events--Fourth of July fireworks, the Taste of Chicago--had lots of gang violence and several murders.

And, of course, pinheads are trying to scam the non-transferable tickets on Craigslist.

And no beer. One more reason I'll be on the outside, phoning it in.

A Good Sign

posted by on October 30 at 8:46 AM

Uh... right?


Via Sullivan.

Stuck With Palin

posted by on October 30 at 8:31 AM

What's that?
We're here to stay, that's what.

In an interview with US network ABC set to cause more consternation within the McCain campaign - which already thinks of her as a rogue diva - Ms Palin said losing the election would not send her packing back to Alaska. "Absolutely not," the northern-most state's Governor said in an interview to be aired today. "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, that, that would bring this whole ... I'm not doing this for nought."

Apparently This Happened.

posted by on October 30 at 12:01 AM

Or will happen. Or something.


(As my friend Meagan said, "BTW Hasselbeck is supposed to be Reagan--NOT Christian Bale from Newsies.")

I am starting to resent how much of my attention The View demands these days.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Up Next

posted by on October 29 at 9:21 PM

Obama on the Daily Show. I'll be watching...

Spoiler here, and Slog's Obamamercial thread here. Oh, and here's the other big TV moment of the night: Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, on stage together for the first time, in Florida.

National Review Watches the Obama Special

posted by on October 29 at 9:09 PM

Some favorite bits of the Republican response:

I half expect to look over and see Karo syrup dripping down the screen.
If any undecided voters are moved by this nearly unwatchable garbage, then we will get what we deserve. But I guess if people buy the super absorbent car sponge, with bonus wax applicator, for $19.95, they may buy this horrid stuff.
They cut to Obama live at a rally, just so he could hold chin-aloft and deliver the usual platitudinous boiler-plate about "change" for a few minutes? Seems like a waste.
As for the format of the special itself, aesthetically it was a bit nauseating with all the soft focus and generically uplifing music constantly swelling in and out...Whatever our problems are right now, America is not one big breadline. To be fair, all politicians exploit these anecdotal cases but I think Obama special really pushed the boundaries of my bile duct here.'
Univision, BET ... what, no Lifetime? Ignoring the "women's vote"?
Just as one particular example, I was struck by the guy at the Ford plant; it noted that his father and grandfather had worked at Ford and retired with full benefits. And now he's only paid to work every other week. Is he suffering currently because of the state of the economy and George Bush's economic policies, or because his dad and grandad's union extracted exorbitant benefits and retirement packages that mean Ford is now saddled with crushing financial obligations?

I think National Review has completely taken on the position of "snotty sarcastic kid in the back of the class." And I fucking love it.

Blogging the Obamamercial (For Real This Time)

posted by on October 29 at 8:00 PM

Ok, let's try this again, this time respecting our time zone. (Here's what happened when I tried to make an end-run around Pacific time earlier today.)

Consider this an open thread to talk about the Obamamercial in real time, play spoiler for the rest of us if you've seen it already, and weigh in on whether these thirty minutes change everything or nothing.

I've managed not to read any east-coast reviews of the spot, so I'm looking at it with fresh eyes and will be back after it's over to give you my two cents. But going into it, I'm wondering: Will it seem sort of 1984 (Obama's version of this) to have the 30-minute spot playing on most major networks and several big cable channels at once? How will the live feed from an Obama rally in Florida at the end come off? What's the ratio of white people to non-white people over the course of the 30 minutes?

Here we go... I'm watching on CBS.

And it's over.

My thoughts: Once again, Obama's communications and advertising team shows how pitch-perfect they can be with their messaging (and how much it helps to have plenty of millions to spend on the best and the brightest making the longest commercials).

This spot was slick without feeling slick, highly political but somehow very real, and an extremely smooth mix of lofty Obama (shown speaking at his rallies); presidential Obama (shown in front of that giant desk in his office); daddy Obama (shown pallin' around with his daughters); husband Obama (pictured with somewhat stern-looking Michelle); middle class Obama (pictured at the kitchen table with white, working class folks); grateful Obama (speaking at some length about the influence his mother had on his education); respected Obama (the subject of testimonies by Bill Richardson, Kathleen Sebelius, Ted Strickland, Joe Biden, Deval Patrick, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and more); and hard-working Obama (shown flipping through briefing materials, deep in concentration, on his campaign plane).

The unmissable focus was on the economy and the middle class—and, visually, on Americans who clip coupons, who shop at (and even, in one case, work at) Wal-Mart, who stretch the family budget to fill up those prescription bottles and that empty fridge, and who still find time to go to a football game at night to cheer on their son.

The people whose stories Obama was narrating were clearly picked for their locations in swing states—New Mexico, Ohio, etc.—but they were so average, with their worn t-shirts and plus-sizes, that the shock of their unvarnished American-ness drew the focus away from the political calculation and toward the personal tale of economic troubles. And they were quite compelling tales. These Obama advertising people don't mess around when it comes to reaching for your heartstrings.

Overall, there was a tremendous amount that this commercial accomplished. It discretely plugged Obama's website, his get-out-the-vote operation, and his text-message campaign, while less discretely going over the major points of his economic proposals and a few major themes of his foreign policy posture. It portrayed him as being as comfortable commanding the military as sharing a meal with a working family. It made his unusual story and background feel familiar, safe, and even a huge asset. It cast him as a champion of the middle class. It sold his deep, smooth, empathetic voice as the one you want narrating the next four years.

The live-feed at the end was, I thought, a bit much. I don't know how they timed it just right, the cut from the commercial to Obama closing a speech at a stadium tonight in Florida. That was impressive. But the stadium closing felt a little uncomfortable—on Obama's end and the viewer's—and will probably reignite the "celebrity" attack from McCain.

Still, I'd say that for the Obama campaign, this was without a doubt millions and millions of dollars well spent.

Here's the full spot, in case you missed it:

And here's the McCain campaign response:

As anyone who has bought anything from an infomercial knows, the sales-job is always better than the product. Buyer beware.

They're Such Attractive Children

posted by on October 29 at 5:19 PM

But you're going to crush their dreams on November 4th—and crush them utterly, you're going to make these children cry...

...or at least the asshole parents that put their kids up to this. I predict that all three will be registered Democrats by age 18, which will really make mom and dad cry.

Via Slog tipper Eli.

Obamamercial Open Thread

posted by on October 29 at 5:11 PM

The Stranger doesn't have cable. So I bought myself cable for the last month of the election so I could watch and blog stuff like this. But today, of all days, MSNBC is screwed up on my cable service. Sorry. If you're able to watch the commercial, here's your open thread. I'll try again at 8 p.m. Pacific.

Reagan Endorses Obama

posted by on October 29 at 4:58 PM

From beyond the grave...

Mavericky As All Hell

posted by on October 29 at 4:44 PM

Sarah Palin is so gosh-darned mavericky that she'll just go right out there and talk about how she'll run for President in 2012 if/when she and McCain lose next week. Because it's so outsider to talk about losing six days before the election. SHE DON'T FOLLOW NO RULES, YOU STUPID ELITES!

If John McCain were as patriotic as he says he is--if he had as much honor as he claims--he would drop out of the race right now just to keep this maniac away from power.

Blogging the Obamamercial

posted by on October 29 at 4:10 PM

Join me here on Slog, in this sixth-to-last day before the election, and let's watch the Obamamercial together, shall we?

5 p.m. Pacific. See you then.

And here's the preview, just released by the Obama campaign:

Why not 8 p.m. Pacific? Because I believe that, while the networks will presumably delay the ad on the west coast so that it shows at 8 p.m. local time, the cable networks (MSNBC et al) will not. Maybe I'm wrong. In which case... see you at 8 p.m. Pacific.

UPDATE: Well, it's playing on MCNBC at 5 p.m. Pacific, but it's all screwed up on my cable service. Unwatchable. Maybe a Comcast conspiracy? I'll try again at 8.

My New Favorite Blog

posted by on October 29 at 3:49 PM

Please, God, please, please let this pair of little-old-lady bloggers be real. Please don't let this be a hoax. Please.

I am surprised that some of you are up in arms about my calling Sarah Palin a bitch, or John McCain an ass or even George Bush a jackass. I read your comments about how I should be more respectable and not call Sarah Palin a bitch. Some of you are actually praying for me because I called John McCain an ass....

I will stop calling George Bush a jackass when he stops calling me a terrorist: Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.

I will stop calling John McCain an ass when he stops calling Barack Obama a socialist at every dog and pony show on the Straight Talk Express tour.

I will stop calling Sarah Palin a bitch when she stops calling Obama a terrorist sympathizer. And I will stop calling Sarah Palin a bitch when she stops calling the parts of the country where I don’t live more Pro-American than the part of the country where I do live. And I will definitely stop calling Sarah Palin a bitch when she stops acting like a bitch.

I’m old enough to remember the Republican party of Barry Goldwater—when the party stood for fiscal responsibility, small government and personal freedoms. I remember when I could talk with friends about politics and just agree to disagree. And then religious nut cases decided that if you didn’t agree with them you were immoral. So they went and elected George Bush President so he could take the Republican Party from being a party full of respectable people to a party filled with asses, jackasses and yes—bitches like Sarah Palin....

Oh… and one last thing. Elisabeth Hasselbeck is still a moron. There is just no way around that, Folks.

Via Sullivan.

Another Video That'll Make You Tear Up

posted by on October 29 at 3:40 PM

Well, it made me tear up: Obama supporters in Alaska gather in downtown Anchorage—in freezing cold temperatures—to make a giant Obama logo.

Via Mudflats.

Surprising Pocket of McCain/Palin Support Discovered...

posted by on October 29 at 3:33 PM Ballard. First, this is in the window of Elephant Gerald:


This sign could be read as a slam on McCain/Palin. On the other hand, it could be an attempt to appeal to Ballard hipsters with some of that self-deprecating humor the kids go for these days. And you'll never guess what the password is to get on WiFi up the street at Miro Tea. Palin. The nice woman behind the counter assured me that they're not Palin fans, not at all, and that the password is meant as a joke. She tells me they needed a five-letter password and they figured, hey, why the fuck not? Why not Palin? (Which is pretty much how John McCain figured things.) But she would say that, seeing as I was standing there wearing an Obama button.

And wearing an Obama button in Seattle? That's a waste of time, per me, seeing as Obama's got Washington state locked up; I should probably be wearing a Yes on I-1000 or Gregoire button if I want to make a difference. Or, if I wanna wear an Obama button, I should go wear it in a swing state like Colorado or Florida or North Carolina.

But maybe it's not a waste of time. Maybe Obama needs a little help here in Ballard. I mean, Miro Tea needed a password with five letters... and they chose Palin... and not... Obama. Or Biden. Or the traditional Jewish spelling of Obama's first name—Barak—which also has five letters.

I Need a Bar and a TV, Stat!

posted by on October 29 at 3:31 PM

Slog Tipper Melissa asks:

Do you know if any bars are showing the Obama infomercial and/or Daily Show tonight?

Why no, Melissa, I don't know. But I'm in your no-TV boat too, and I'd be interested to find out.

Does anyone know of a bar that's showing the politics tonight?

The Return of the Palin Dudes

posted by on October 29 at 2:08 PM

Remember the "Palin dudes" the New York Times wrote about a week and a half ago?

It is not unusual for fans of Sarah Palin to shout out to the Alaska governor in the midst of her stump speeches. It is noteworthy, however, that the crowds are heavily male.

“You rock me out, Sarah,” yelled one man, wearing a red-checked hunting jacket as Ms. Palin, the Republican vice presidential candidate, strode into an airplane hangar here on Thursday. He held a homemade “Dudes for Sarah” sign and wore a National Rifle Association hat.

The story ran with this photo of a bunch of half-naked Palin dudes...


The first thing I thought when I saw that photo was—well, the first thing I thought was, "Man, I'd like to fuck some sense into letter V." And the second thing I thought was, "Hm.... A, C, E, I, K, M, V, R... we're just 16 letters short of a font." I mentioned the idea of a "Palin Dude" font to a graphic designer buddy of mine and ta-da! The Palin Dude Font. You can download it here. And once it's on your computer you can make the Palin Dudes—including scorchin' hot letter V—say whatever the hell you want. So goodbye "MAVERICK," hello...


Download the Palin Dude Font now!

"Charles Meets Barack"

posted by on October 29 at 1:48 PM

Having repeatedly posted heart-crushing crap like this, it's only fair that I share this glass-half-full-and-then-some video making the rounds.

"You'll need a Kleenex afterward!" warned Slog tipper Janet, but I didn't think it was that sexy.

Just kidding! I'm uncomfortable with emotion! Three cheers for Charles!

Street Cornered

posted by on October 29 at 1:34 PM

So there's a crazy black dude waving sign and some GOP flags at 4th and Pike in downtown Seattle...


Now I'm not saying he's crazy because he's a black Republican—although I strongly suspect he's being paid to stand there (and, no, he wouldn't talk to me)—but I do think you have to be a special kind of nuts or a special kind of desperate to be a black Republican. Or a gay Republican. I think he's nuts because, if he's sincere about his flag- and sign-waving, the man is wasting his time. McCain isn't going to win Washington state and no amount of flag- and sign-waving—even by black dudes—is going to change that. A man walking by looked up at the the sign and flags and said, "Good luck with that, dude," and laughed. I felt the same way.

Weird that I didn't have the same reaction when I saw this woman a block away, waving an Obama sign at 4th and Pine...


Obama is going to win Washington state, which means, I suppose, that this woman is wasting her time too. But it was all high-fives and hollers of support from passersby for the nice Obama lady. No one told her that she was wasting her time. Which she is. "Can't take anything for granted," I heard her say to someone that stopped to chat. She's right, of course. But still... both campaigns would probably prefer to have these folks out waving signs in swing states, not Washington state.

Kind of a Stretch?

posted by on October 29 at 1:30 PM

Washington State Democrats are attacking an ad aimed at Christine Gregoire, which they call a "clear violation of state law." At issue is the use of Gregoire's face in a circle that resembles the Washington State Seal. The ad is bankrolled by a conservative PAC called That's Just Not Right.

Democrats point out that under state law, "The state seal shall never be used in a political campaign to assist or defeat any candidate for elective office." That statute also prohibits using "any symbol that imitates the seal or that is deceptively similar in appearance to the seal, in any manner that would be an improper use of the official seal itself."

So here's the ad:

And here's the state seal:


Although the ad's implication of a state seal is unmistakable, the actual resemblance is distant. The text and the graphics are different--though Gregoire could make a convincing George Washington--leaving only the similarity of two concentric circles shaded with yellow. This is like when Starbucks said the Rat City Roller Girls' logo had a “very similar look and feel" to the coffee company's logo. Circles and stars were their idea--and mean girls on skates couldn't have them. But Starbucks, probably realizing that circles are pretty common design elements, backed off.

So what do you say: Are the Dems crying foul or crying wolf?

Today in Racist McCain Supporters

posted by on October 29 at 12:08 PM

This one's from Pottsville, Pennsylvania. Thanks for the heads-up, Sullivan.

Someone's Going to Write a Paper on the Li'l Bradley Effect in 5...4...3...2...

posted by on October 29 at 12:00 PM


Here is good news: the Weekly Reader election for under-18 students has just finished. 125,000 kids of all ages participated, and the results have been announced: Obama 54.7%, John McCain 42.9%. "Who gives a flying fuck?" I can hear you say, and I say in response, "Hold your goddamned horses, already! I was just getting to that."

The Weekly Reader election has correctly guessed the outcome of the real election for the past 12 out of 13 elections, missing only the 1992 Bush/Clinton/Perot election (the kids chose Bush). That's 52 years. Some people think the accuracy is due to the fact that most parents talk openly at home about who they're going to vote for, making this one of the most accurate polls of the electoral year.

This article breaks down the results state by state, including the mini-electoral college, and it's interesting stuff. I highly recommend checking it out.

Ryan, Brian, or Tony

posted by on October 29 at 11:56 AM

Over at AmericaBlog, a reader is livid about a mailer he received from Republican Norm Coleman, who is running against Al Franken in Minnesota:

I got a self-mailer from the NRSC [National Republican Senatorial Committee] today.

My wife and I have 3 small boys under 6 years old. So when I saw the cartoon cover that says "Come on in kids..." then talks about rape with a little girl on the opposite page you can guess my utter disgust.




What kind of people would design and write a circular like that? the AmericaBlog comments thread is asking itself.

It just so happens I can tell you who—I met them a few months ago at the Republican National Convention:

"Look, the protesters are deranged," says either Ryan, Brian, or Tony. It's hard to remember who is who. The triumvirate works for Republican senator Norm Coleman (currently fighting a reelection challenge from Al Franken), and we're all a little drunk. "Their stated objective is to kill a cop," says Ryan, Brian, or Tony, thumping the table. "But," he shrugs, "this is America."

The four of us are smoking cigars and drinking Scotch on the deck at Solera, a four-story restaurant in downtown Minneapolis. Solera enjoys a fancy reputation, but its decor is cowardly: generic dark carpet, generic-sleek wood tables, generic-white lighting fixtures.

We are served veal meatballs and gallons of rare Scotch and cognac—one of the Scotches cost $230 a bottle—while young women in black party dresses walk around with boxes full of cigars. Unbeknownst to Ryan, Brian, and Tony, my skin still tingles from the pepper spray (and unbeknownst to all of us, [protester] Elliot Hughes is in jail, being used like a rag doll). I take a cigar from one of the cigar sirens, sniff it, and accept a light. Ryan, Brian, or Tony does the same.

Those guys really hated Franken—they kept slurrily calling him "that ash-hole"—and were dreaming up ways to kneecap his campaign. (The race is close, but some pollsters have Franken pulling ahead.)

I wonder if Ryan, Brian, or Tony wrote that mailer...

Ousting Lieberman

posted by on October 29 at 11:46 AM

Via Kos, who says "it couldn't have happened to a more horrible person."

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.

Can It Just Be Tuesday, Already?

posted by on October 29 at 10:44 AM

The Corner shares an internal McCain memo that says things are looking up for the Republicans:

The race has moved significantly over the past week, closing to essentially tied on the last two-day roll. These gains are coming from sub-groups it should be possible to sustain over the next week, including:

-Non-college men;
-Rural voters, both men and women;
-Right-to-life voters; and most encouragingly;
-We are beginning to once again get over a 20% chunk of the vote among soft Democrats.

Importantly as well, our long identified target of “Walmart women” – those women without a college degree in households under $60,000 a year in income are also swinging back solidly in our direction.

Now I'm not scared by an internal campaign memo quoted on a right-wing blog. But I swear to God, if the next election hinges on "Wal-Mart Women", I'm going to completely fucking lose my shit. All I'm saying is, it wouldn't hurt for everyone reading this to volunteer some time and send some money to Obama as the campaign winds down.

And I know people keep pointing to as the good news, but I've been troubled, lately, by how pro-Obama the site's been. Silver seems to be a great statistician, but it feels as though he wades into the figures looking for good news. If he was a scientist going into things looking for a certain result, he'd be doing bad science, right? Does the same thing apply for electoral projections?

Desperate Measures

posted by on October 29 at 10:26 AM

Republican Liddy Dole is the wife of Bob Dole—Dole was the John McCain of the '96 presidential election, for you youngsters—and a Senator from North Carolina. She's up for reelection this year and she's trailing in the polls. Dole's Democratic opponent, Kay Hagan, is a Sunday school teacher and an elder in her Presbyterian church. So what does Dole accuse Hagan of being? Naturally Dole accuses Hagan of being a "godless American," an atheist who's taking "Godless money." Hagan's got a secret Godless agenda, says Dole.

Hagan, like a modern Democrat, hits back hard:

Furious about a new political ad in North Carolina that suggests she's "godless," state Sen. Kay Hagan said she'd seek a cease-and-desist order against U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole's campaign if the television spot isn't pulled in the next 24 hours.... Her campaign said they'd delivered letters to Dole's Raleigh and Salisbury offices and her Washington, D.C., home giving the campaign 24 hours to pull the ad before they took legal recourse in court.

Doubting the Vote

posted by on October 29 at 10:25 AM

Dan's heart is breaking (sort of) for the people in this New York Times story. Mine is currently breaking for the people in this one, which explores the widespread (and somewhat justified) fears among black voters in Florida that their votes won't be counted:

Wounds have not healed here in Duval County since the mangled presidential election of 2000, when more than 26,000 ballots were discarded as invalid for being improperly punched. Nearly 40 percent of the votes were thrown out in the predominantly Democratic-leaning African-American communities around Jacksonville, a reality that has caused suspicions of racial bias to linger, even though intentional disenfranchisement was never proved.

Now, in a show of early election enthusiasm, more than 84,200 people have already voted in Duval County, surpassing the number of early votes cast in the last presidential election. Added to 33,800 absentee ballots collected so far, the numbers show that 22 percent of registered voters cast their ballots as of Oct. 27, county election officials said.

But amid excitement over Mr. Obama’s historic candidacy and the chance that the country might choose an African-American president within a matter of days, there is an unmistakable sense of anxiety among blacks here that something will go wrong, that victory will slip away.

“They’re going to throw out votes,” said Larone Wesley, a 53-year-old black Vietnam veteran. “I can’t say exactly how, but they are going to accomplish that quite naturally. I’m so afraid for my friend Obama. I look at this through the eyes of the ’60s, and I feel there ain’t no way they’re going to let him make it.”

Mr. Wesley refuses to vote early. “I don’t believe the machines work properly in general,” he said, “and they really don’t work properly when they think you’re voting for Obama.”

As TIME Magazine's Michael Scherer noted recently:

We can go to the moon, split atoms to power submarines, squeeze profits from a 99 cent hamburger and watch football highlights on cell phones. But the most successful democracy in human history has yet to figure out how to conduct a proper election.

Which is a sad national disgrace.

Obama, Japan

posted by on October 29 at 10:16 AM


Barak Obama seems to be especially popular in the the ancient fishing village of Obama, Japan. Japanese 'Obama Girls' shout "Yes we can!" during a rally to support Barack Obama.

Why for me Obama? Not for color or heritage. It has to do with Hegel's mystical (and more interesting) statements. My favorite of such statements concerns the Weltgeist.

Writes Michael Löwy and Eleni Varikas in Radical Philosophy:

The ideology of progress, born (in its modern guise) during the Enlightenment, finds its culminating philosophical expression in Hegel's conception of history. Here, everything that happens marks a further step in mankind's march towards freedom: watching Napoleon ride into his home town, Hegel is convinced that he has witnessed `the world spirit [Weltgeist] mounted on horseback'.

Obama has about him this spirit, the world spirit. It's not a rational understanding, it's something that's more felt than properly understood. But for sure he marks the realization of (or makes graspable) our situation, the global situation. With him we can abandoned such clumsy but once useful tools as cognitive mapping. Through the new spirit (or mood), the global is comprehend.

6 Days...

posted by on October 29 at 10:15 AM


Attacking Obama's TV Special

posted by on October 29 at 10:05 AM

Tonight's the night for Barack Obama's half-hour infomercial, which will air at 5 p.m. PST on CBS, NBC, Fox, Univision, BET, MSNBC, and TV One at a cost of $1 million per airing.

The New York Times got a look at a one-minute "trailer" for the production. A number of people have jokingly speculated about which performers Obama might be bringing on to fill the time, but it sounds like he's decided not to go the variety show route:

At times he will speak directly into the camera about his 20-month campaign, at others he will highlight everyday voters, their everyday troubles, and his plans to address them.

And at the end of the infomercial, it appears, Obama will speak live from a rally in Florida.

McCain, for his part, has been complaining that Obama is delaying the World Series with this giant ad buy (a charge disputed here) and today released an ad called "TV Special":

One thing that I noticed about McCain's new spot: he's now saying Obama's not ready to lead... "yet." Maybe this is an old change of rhetoric, but I hadn't notice it until now and I wonder if this is some sort of attempt by McCain, perhaps sensing that he's in the twilight of his candidacy and has a legacy to worry about, at offering a kinder, gentler version of the "not ready" attack.