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McCain asks Obama to postpone debate in order to work on the economy

[ 0 ] September 24, 2008 |

My first reaction is that this sounds like a truly bizarre publicity stunt.

My second reaction is that this is a sign of desperation and Obama should refuse.

Update: This is absolutely nuts: McCain is calling on the Obama campaign to suspend all advertising! The worst thing a political leader can do in this kind of economic climate is to start screaming hysterically about how if we don’t suspend all normal business and do something radical right this instant we’ll all be in the street (or McCain’s version, which I suppose is something like losing your seventh home and being down to nine cars).

Seriously this is crazy, and a lot of GOP leaders must be wondering if their man is actually flipping out.

Update II: Rumor all over DC is that the McCain campaign is seriously considering sending Palin to the debate in McCain’s stead. Two hours ago I would have laughed.

Update III: New Time/CNN poll from last three days shows Obama with leads outside the margin of error in Colorado and Michigan, and a big lead in PA. More evidence if any were needed that this is just panic from the McCain camp.

Update IV: McCain spokesperson on Hardball refused to rule out possibility that McCain would simply not show up. My guess is that when the Obama people privately contacted the McCain people about a joint statement regarding the bailout negotiations (which strikes me as a dumb thing to do FWIW), McCain jumped at the possibility of using this as an opening for getting out of Friday’s debate. Maybe he’s exhausted, maybe he’s having a health crisis, maybe he hasn’t done his homework — but whatever, it’s pretty clear his people are winging this now.

Update V: Letterman gets blown off by St. John of the Perpetually Convenient Crisis for Katie Couric and doesn’t take it well. Ouch!

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Great Moments In Hackery

[ 9 ] September 24, 2008 |

This reminds me of perhaps my very favorite Saint Greenspan moment: his solemn admonition to Congress that if we didn’t pass a massive package of upper-class tax cuts we’d…pay down the national debt too quickly. Yes, what a plausible scenario that was, and how awful it would have been if in the worst-case scenario we could have taken the massive amounts of money we’re wasting on interest payments and used it for tax cuts or needed government programs…

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You know who has a tough job, besides Matt Millen’s successor?

[ 0 ] September 24, 2008 |

John McCain’s makeup team.

I’m serious. Friday’s debate will be the first time a lot of people, and especially a lot of potential swing voters, will have seen him in HDTV for a sustained period. I got HD about a year ago, and if you don’t have it believe me it makes a very real difference in terms of how people look on TV. Almost everybody looks bad under TV lights anyway prior to cosmetic intervention, but the following groups are especially vulnerable to the merciless eye of the HD digital broadcast:

(1) White people, because of generally less even skin tone (this is another of the many HUGELY UNFAIR ADVANTAGES for people of color in our culture).

(2) Old people.

(3) People with facial disfigurements such as surgical scars.

You can’t just trowel on the coverup either, because then you’ll make an old white guy with a big scar look like a zombie.

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Socialism for Billionaires

[ 0 ] September 24, 2008 |

From each according to his abilities, to each according to his socio-economic status.

Update: Matt Millen was just fired. It’s clear that certain trenchant media criticisms in this time of economic upheaval made all the difference.

Update II: From the Detroit papers:

Millen could leave with $50 million by Tom Kowalski Wednesday September 24, 2008, 2:15 PM

Now that the Detroit Lions have fired Matt Millen as president, an interesting detail surfaced about his regime. It had been widely reported that Millen made $3 million per season during his first five-year contract and then got a bump to $5 million per season for his five-year extension. According to a source close to the situation, Millen’s pay has been $5 million per season from the first year he was hired (2001). Millen has already pocketed more than $35 million in his first seven-plus years and is scheduled to make $50 million for the entire 10-year term. Because he was fired, Millen is due the total sum of that money; he would’ve forfeited the rest of his salary if he had resigned. What isn’t known is whether Millen and owner William Clay Ford came to some kind of buyout agreement for the final two-plus years of his contract.

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This Would Be Nice…

[ 12 ] September 23, 2008 |

We can always hope:

Democratic challenger Bruce Lunsford has closed to within a statistical tie with Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell in their U.S. Senate race, according to a new poll by SurveyUSA released Tuesday.

With six weeks remaining until election day, McConnell, the Senate minority leader, now holds a 49%-46% lead over Lunsford, which is within the poll’s 3.9% margin of error. Compared to an identical SurveyUSA poll released six weeks ago, Lunsford is up six points, McConnell is down three.

I’m tentatively scheduled to have a conversation on foreign and security policy with Bruce Lunsford for LGM in a couple weeks; will keep you updated.

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Max Boot: A World of Crazy

[ 16 ] September 23, 2008 |

Josh Marshall notes that Max Boot is “a key advisor and campaign surrogate” for John McCain, which I suppose means that Victor Davis Hanson’s vote has been secured at last. Meantime, Marshall is wondering about all the “completely insane things” Boot has said or written over the years. Since I don’t know what Boot ordered for breakfast yesterday, I’m prepared to say that the answer to Marshall’s question is not necessarily “Everything.”

I would, however, suggest that Boot’s call for the US to arm Stalinist militias in Iran would probably qualify as talking-to-the-squirrels crazy.

. . . this, while qualifying as generic, jingoistic cheerleading, is also self-evidently mad:

Once Afghanistan has been dealt with, America should turn its attention to Iraq. It will probably not be possible to remove Saddam quickly without a U.S. invasion and occupation–though it will hardly require half a million men, since Saddam’s army is much diminished since the Gulf War, and we will probably have plenty of help from Iraqis, once they trust that we intend to finish the job this time. Once we have deposed Saddam, we can impose an American-led, international regency in Baghdad, to go along with the one in Kabul. With American seriousness and credibility thus restored, we will enjoy fruitful cooperation from the region’s many opportunists, who will show a newfound eagerness to be helpful in our larger task of rolling up the international terror network that threatens us.

…and this isn’t insane so much as it supplies additional weight to the argument that “conservative humor” is mere legend, like the chupacabra, the unicorn, or “Hillary Supporters for McCain.”

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Let Them All Talk

[ 0 ] September 23, 2008 |

I agree that as long as the plan that passes is acceptable, the fact that Republicans will run against Dems for passing it isn’t a big deal. (Just as they shouldn’t even consider Bush’s “give me $700 billion to arbitrarily dispense” plan irrespective of the politics.) The additional thing to add is that if the election is focused on the economy McCain is going to get massacred, so if this is the big Republican strategy I’m not exactly cowering in terror.

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Funny Because True Dept.

[ 10 ] September 23, 2008 |

Yup.

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Now this is impressive

[ 35 ] September 23, 2008 |

Bush’s approval rating has sunk to 19% in the latest ARG poll. That’s lower than Nixon’s the week he resigned. Probably the most telling stat in the breakdown is that Dubya has an 8% approval rating among self-described independents. Basically every Democrat and almost every independent voter in the country hates him. His remaining support consists of slightly more than half the GOP, and Joe Lieberman.

As Matt Stoller points out, you could probably impeach him and nobody would notice.

So the question becomes, is Bush sufficiently weakened for the Democratic leadership in Congress to tell him thanks, but we’ll be drafting any bailout legislation we consider necessary, and you’ll be signing it? After all there are about five GOP senators that are no position to be backing the president on anything if they want to live to fight another day.

This is what LBJ used to refer to as “nut-cutting time.” Somebody needs to remind Pelosi and Reid and the rest of them just who has the knife now.

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Why the polar bears hate us

[ 0 ] September 22, 2008 |

I have an article on Palin’s environmental record at the MI.

There was a lot that I didn’t have time or space to explore with respect to Palin’s environmental record, but I did come across one interesting detail connected to the state’s recent polar bear lawsuit. Among the several pro-development/free market groups that have joined Palin’s efforts to block the polar bear listing, we find the Pacific Legal Foundation, a renowned right-wing legal firm founded in California during the early 1970s with money from the Scaife Foundation. Among its other accomplishments, the PLF rebooted its sagging fortunes in the early 1990s by accepting a massive wad of financial assistance from Phillip Morris, which paid the firm to help make the case that the EPA had been wrong to rule that tobacco smoke was a carcinogen. More recently, the PLF has been waging a non-stop campaign to dismantle affirmative action; among other things, they were heavily involved in the Seattle and Louisville integration cases.

In Alaska, the PLF led the campaign five years ago on behalf of Robert Hale — otherwise known as “Papa Pilgrim” — who wanted to plow a road into Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, where his family of 17 lived on old mining land. Hale lost every round, but the case wound its way to the Supreme Court, which ultimately refused to hear an appeal on Hale’s behalf. Meantime, Hale had been been sentenced to fourteen years in prison for incest and sexual assault; he croaked in prison earlier this year.

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Prop 8 And the Status Quo

[ 20 ] September 22, 2008 |

Opposition to the California Proposition seeking to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry and restore them to second-class citizenship continues to grow, with 55% planning to vote no and just 38% support (a very bad position for an initiative.) [HT: Roger Ailes.] Why, I’m beginning to wonder if predictions that the California courts will hand the state to McCain may not pan out!

I’ve long wondered how opponents of same-sex marriage will manage to portray a grant of rights favored by California’s elected legislature, its elected governor, and its tyrants in black robes elected courts, and the public in a referendum will be portrayed as “undemocratic.” The answer, based on the article, seems to be that it will entail whining about the description of the initiative’s purpose in the summary language: Brown wanted an accurate description, while supporters wanted a vague one. It is true, of course, that the wording of initiatives and their summaries can affect vote totals. But, of course, this is true of any initiative; and precisely for this reason an initiative isn’t some completely accurate measure of a transcendent Popular Will. And this includes the initiative that created the unconstitutional same-sex marriage ban in the first place. The current status quo and the wording of an initiative matter; it’s just these background factors are considered natural when they support traditional exclusionary policies.

The almost certain failure of Prop 8 further suggests that claims that the California courts will instigate a backlash because they overturned the “popular will” remain highly questionable. The “popular will” isn’t static and there’s no entirely reliable way of measuring it, but if Prop 8 supporters want to complain about that remember that it’s equally applicable of initiatives they previously supported too.

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Let Them Draw The Line Here

[ 9 ] September 22, 2008 |

Look, if Republicans want to go to the mat for executives who think that they deserve multi-million dollar payouts for running venerable, profitable companies completely into the ground — “It’s the unassailable product of the Free Market! Now how about that $700 billion in taxpayer money to buy our worthless assets? Gimme Gimme Gimme!” — by all means let them. I know what side I want to be on politically…

In addition, conditional restrictions on executive pay aren’t simply about punishing inept executives who get massive compensation based on an insulated, mutual-backscratching system largely insulated from market forces. Rather, the most important problem with a bailout — even if there’s a plan that, unlike the one Paulson wants, is defensible — is the moral hazard problem. Setting a precedent that, if your firm is big enough, you can expect profits to be yours but major losses to be public is obviously problematic. If executives have to worry that coming to the government Tiffany cup and ivory backscratcher in hand will cost them their golden parachutes, it provides some incentives to act more responsibly.

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