Oct 16, 2008

Tyra to John McCain: Smile with your eyes!

It's harder to do than you think. But Tyra? She's got that look down.

NOT fierce.

Props to Rich Juzwiak at FourFour for another funny clip.

Caption Contest

C'mon. Bring it.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Jim Bourg

Obama and Joe the Plumber

Much was made about Obama's conversation with Joe the Plumber during last night's debate. McCain's constant references to this man, came off as a somewhat disingenuous ploy to assert his connection to "Joe Six-Pack American."

When you watch the clip, I don't really see how the McCain campaign thought that this ---constantly invoking the name of Joe the Plumber---would have been a good tactic in undermining the feasibility of Obama's tax plan. What you see here instead is a civilized and engaged discourse between the candidate and a voter who has a legitimate concern. I think Obama did a really good job at explaining how his tax plan would affect small business owners and his rationale behind it.

Obama is great at establishing common ground ("I may not get your vote, but I'm still going to be working hard on your behalf, because small businesses are what create jobs in this country, and I want to encourage it") and treating others with respect. Obama didn't talk down to Joe; he didn't condescend by offering him empty platitudes. Instead, he addressed Joe's concerns logically, intelligently, and specifically.

I guess we won't know how Joe will vote on Election Day, but my guess is that he walked away from his five-minute conversation with Obama better informed about his policies.

UPDATE, 3:10 p.m.: Isn't this interesting? (Props to Maryam for the link.)

UPDATE, 11/2, 10:44 A.M.: Since his debut (and subsequent invokings by John McCain on the regular), Joe the Plumber is hired a PR team, is trying to get a book deal, holds news conferences, and is considering running for Congress.

Are Samuel Wurzelbacher's 15 minutes of fame over yet?

The GOP: Racist, or clueless?

You decide.

Exhibit A:

Sacramento County Republican leaders Tuesday took down offensive material on their official party Web site that sought to link Sen. Barack Obama to Osama bin Laden and encouraged people to "Waterboard Barack Obama" – material that offended even state GOP leaders.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has pushed the party to try to broaden its appeal, took issue with the site. "In the governor's view, it's completely and totally inappropriate," said Julie Soderlund, a Schwarzenegger spokeswoman.

Hector Barajas, a California Republican Party spokesman, said Democrats have been playing the race card, but that the local party went too far in this instance.


Taking credit for the site (sacramentorepublicans.org) and its content was county party chairman Craig MacGlashan – husband of Sacramento County Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan.

The Bee asked MacGlashan about the content after seeking his reaction to hate-filled graffiti that was spray-painted over an Obama display on a fence at Fair Oaks Boulevard and Garfield Avenue.

In recent weeks, MacGlashan, an attorney, joined local Democratic party officials in condemning vandalism to political displays.

The vandalism to the Obama display appeared to have been done overnight Monday. A racial epithet, profanity, "KKK" and the words "white power" were clearly visible from the roadway. Six of the nine fence panels were defaced.

"What you are describing to me is not free speech, it's vandalism. We don't condone it," MacGlashan said.

But he defended his Web site. "I'm aware of the content," he said. "Some people find it offensive, others do not. I cannot comment on how people interpret things."

MacGlashan said he would "consider people's complaints" before taking any action.

By Tuesday night, much of the questionable material – which ranged from depicting Obama in a turban to attacking Michelle Obama – had been removed, replaced with political cartoons attacking Obama.

Exhibit B:

The latest newsletter by an Inland Republican women's group depicts Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama surrounded by a watermelon, ribs and a bucket of fried chicken, prompting outrage in political circles.

The October newsletter by the Chaffey Community Republican Women, Federated says if Obama is elected his image will appear on food stamps -- instead of dollar bills like other presidents. The statement is followed by an illustration of "Obama Bucks" -- a phony $10 bill featuring Obama's face on a donkey's body, labeled "United States Food Stamps."


The group's president, Diane Fedele,
said she plans to send an apology letter to her members and to apologize at the
club's meeting next week. She said she simply wanted to deride a comment Obama
made over the summer about how as an African-American he "doesn't look like all
those other presidents on the dollar bills."

"It was strictly an attempt
to point out the outrageousness of his statement. I really don't want to go into
it any further," Fedele said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "I absolutely
apologize to anyone who was offended. That clearly wasn't my attempt." Fedele
said she got the illustration in a number of chain e-mails and decided to
reprint it for her members in the Trumpeter newsletter because she was offended
that Obama would draw attention to his own race. She declined to say who sent
her the e-mails with the illustration. She said she doesn't think in racist
terms, pointing out she once supported Republican Alan Keyes, an
African-American who previously ran for president.I didn't see it the way that
it's being taken. I never connected," she said. "It was just food to me. It
didn't mean anything else."

She said she also wasn't trying to make a
statement linking Obama and food stamps, although her introductory text to the
illustration connects the two: "Obama talks about all those presidents that got
their names on bills. If elected, what bill would he be on????? Food Stamps,
what else!"

Way to further along civilized discourse about race
relations in America, you fucking morons.

Links courtesy of Political Animal.

UPDATE, 11/2: I tried to fix the wonky formatting of the second batch of block quotes and ended up screwing up the layout further. Sorry!

Oct 6, 2008

Branding: Obama vs. McCain

John Tepper Marlin at The Huffington Post today gives a high-level analysis behind the branding of the Obama and McCain campaigns. Check it out if you're into iconography, brand identity, that kind of stuff. I thought it was pretty interesting.

Rich Lowry to Sarah Palin: SCHWING!

Just when you think things couldn't get any more ridiculous, we got his from the National Review (emphasis mine):
A very wise TV executive once told me that the key to TV is projecting through the screen. It's one of the keys to the success of, say, a Bill O'Reilly, who comes through the screen and grabs you by the throat. Palin too projects through the screen like crazy. I'm sure I'm not the only male in America who, when Palin dropped her first wink, sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, "Hey, I think she just winked at me." And her smile. By the end, when she clearly knew she was doing well, it was so sparkling it was almost mesmerizing. It sent little starbursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America. This is a quality that can't be learned; it's either something you have or you don't, and man, she's got it.

Photo lifted from here.

John McCain and the Making of a Financial Crisis

This weekend was a pretty disgusting weekend in the McCain campaign, with Sarah Palin accusing Obama of "palling around with terrorists," citing a New York Times article that did not corroborate this part of her argument, oddly enough. Essentially the meme, if you will, is that Obama is being judged by the company that he keeps; that he is guilty by association.

If they want go there, then I suggest you look at this list that Steve Benen (formerly of The Carpetbagger Report and now Political Animal at the Washington Monthly) has compiled of McCain's nefarious relationships, for your information.

Just saying.

And let's not forget that McCain was directly involved in the whole Savings & Loan debacle of the late 80s:
Once upon a time, a politician took campaign contributions and favors from a friendly constituent who happened to run a savings and loan association. The contributions were generous: They came to about $200,000 in today's dollars, and on top of that there were several free vacations for the politician and his family, along with private jet trips and other perks. The politician voted repeatedly against congressional efforts to tighten regulation of S&Ls, and in 1987, when he learned that his constituent's S&L was the target of a federal investigation, he met with regulators in an effort to get them to back off.

That politician was John McCain, and his generous friend was Charles Keating, head of Lincoln Savings & Loan. While he was courting McCain and other senators and urging them to oppose tougher regulation of S&Ls, Keating was also investing his depositors' federally insured savings in risky ventures. When those lost money, Keating tried to hide the losses from regulators by inducing his customers to switch from insured accounts to uninsured (and worthless) bonds issued by Lincoln's near-bankrupt parent company. In 1989, it went belly up -- and more than 20,000 Lincoln customers saw their savings vanish.

Keating went to prison, and McCain's Senate career almost ended. Together with the rest of the so-called Keating Five -- Sens. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.), John Glenn (D-Ohio), Don Riegle (D-Mich.) and Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.), all of whom had also accepted large donations from Keating and intervened on his behalf -- McCain was investigated by the Senate Ethics Committee and ultimately reprimanded for "poor judgment."

But the savings and loan crisis mushroomed. Eventually, the government spent about $125 billion in taxpayer dollars to bail out hundreds of failed S&Ls that, like Keating's, fell victim to a combination of private-sector greed and the "poor judgment" of politicians like McCain.

The $125 billion seems like small change compared to the $700-billion price tag for the Bush administration's proposed Wall Street bailout. But the root causes of both crises are the same: a lethal mix of deregulation and greed.
As a result of his involvement, McCain was formally reprimanded by the Senate Ethics Committee for being guilty of public misconduct.

The point here, as Steve says, is that we could go all day playing, "Who knows more shitty people," but with the election coming up in less than a month, I'm more interested in knowing what the candidates can do for me. Are you going to make the streets safer? Are you going to fix the economy? If I want to buy a house next year, will it be impossible for me to get a mortgage?

I've had to sit through eight years of fearmongering, idiocy, and intellectual vacuousness. It's time to get down to brass tacks and fix this country.

The Obama campaign launched a short documentary today on John "Keating Five" McCain at KeatingEconomics.com. Take a few minutes to watch it.