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Tag: "2008 campaign"

Adelman? What about Ledeen?

[ 16 ] October 20, 2008 |

The prospect of a McCain presidency is too awful even for Ken “Cakewalk in Iraq” Adelman to contemplate:

Primarily for two reasons, those of temperament and of judgment.

When the economic crisis broke, I found John McCain bouncing all over the place. In those first few crisis days, he was impetuous, inconsistent, and imprudent; ending up just plain weird. Having worked with Ronald Reagan for seven years, and been with him in his critical three summits with Gorbachev, I’ve concluded that that’s no way a president can act under pressure.

Second is judgment. The most important decision John McCain made in his long campaign was deciding on a running mate.

That decision showed appalling lack of judgment. Not only is Sarah Palin not close to being acceptable in high office—I would not have hired her for even a mid-level post in the arms-control agency. But that selection contradicted McCain’s main two, and best two, themes for his campaign—Country First, and experience counts. Neither can he credibly claim, post-Palin pick.

It bears mentioning that no one should draw much joy from the endorsement of someone who was pissing his shorts to invade Iraq; in the event of an Obama victory, Adelman would quickly return his face to the glue-lined paper bag, from which he’s drawn sufficient breath to argue that a less “incompetent” administration would have run a better war. The correct point, of course, is that a more competent administration wouldn’t have invaded Iraq in the first place. Still, as a measure of how objectively awful the Sarah Palin pick has been for McCain, this is one of the more useful, albeit obscure, bits of data.


Powell: John McCain Has A Running Mate of Mass Destruction

[ 10 ] October 19, 2008 |

The Powell endorsement shouldn’t mean much, and probably won’t mean much, but at least he didn’t soft pedal it.

See also Benen.

Mmm… Snarky

[ 7 ] October 19, 2008 |


Gov. Sarah Palin, campaigning, she said, in “real America,” which apparently includes part of North Carolina, Rep. Michelle Bachmann, calling for a media investigation to determine whether Americans are real or not, and today, McCain all-around best surrogate Nancy Pfotenhauer (pronounced — Foe-Ten-How-er, like proton power), said that parts of the state of Virginia, heretofore universally assumed to be in America, were not, in fact, in the country.

Now — the Mainstream Media, typically clueless, has interpreted these remarks conventionally — classically, you might say, as if we live in an Eisteinian universe with three dimensions of space and a quasi-dimension of time: either these women were summoning their inner Nixonian cultural warriors, or they were untethered from reality.

But three utterances of this nature for me lead to an entirely more edifying possibility: that Palin, Bachmann and Pfotenhauer were making a radical new claim about the fundamental forces and constants that compose the background of our universe.

For decades, theoretical physicists have sought to unify the theory of gravity with standard particle model of physics. So far, no dice. The dominant but by no means proven theory is popularly referred to as Superstring theory, or M theory, or some variant. No need to go into the details here. Crucially, though, some of the leading variants of string theory presuppose a universe of ten spacial dimensions plus time.

We cannot rule out the possibility that Palin, Bachmann and Pftoenhauer — let’s call them PBP for short — are somehow about to perceive these extra dimensions, and that there is something fundamental about their physical constitutions that makes such perceptions unavailable to most everyone else.

The McCain-Cuba Connection

[ 2 ] October 17, 2008 |

There’s rather less to this article than I would have liked, or supposed. While I would prefer that John McCain and Joe Lieberman give the same kind of righteous, full-throated denunciation to Cuban terrorists that they give to, say, Democrats, the links that Bardach tries to provide between the two and the Cuban exile terrorist community are kind of weak. Moreover, the most compelling link is to Joe Lieberman, and not to John McCain.

On July 20, while campaigning for McCain in Miami and just prior to speaking at a McCain event, Sen. Joe Lieberman met with the wife of convicted serial bomber Eduardo Arocena and promised to pursue a presidential pardon on his behalf. Arocena is the founder of the notorious Cuban exile militant group Omega 7, renowned for a string of bombings from 1975 to 1983. Arocena was convicted of the 1980 murder of a Cuban diplomat in Manhattan. In 1983, Arocena was arrested and charged with 42 counts pertaining to conspiracy, explosives, firearms, and destruction of foreign government property within the United States. He is currently serving a life sentence in federal prison in Indiana.

Indeed, even that appears to be overstating the case against Lieberman, who on video promised only to convey the pardon request. The article also notes that the McCain campaign has connections with right wing Cubans who have connections with terrorists, but again this is hardly surprising; any Republican running in Florida (and, to be fair, virtually any Democrat) is going to be no more than two degrees of separation away from the genuine anti-Castro psychos.

John McCain is likely to have a terrible Cuba policy, and Barack Obama will very possibly be the first American President in forty years to pursue genuine, positive change in the US-Cuba relationship. I also think that Luis Posada Carriles and his ilk are murderers; they are more deserving (ironically enough) of detention in Guantanamo than most of the people incarcerated there, and they make Bill Ayers look like the raw amateur that he was. Finally, I do hope that somebody is working on unearthing some genuine ties between McCain and the terrorist anti-Castro right, because the American political elite (both Democrat and Republican) has been far too tolerant of people who blow up planes, as long as those planes are full of Cubans. Unfortunately, the Bardach article just doesn’t get us very far.

Who Wants Cheney’s Help?

[ 4 ] October 15, 2008 |

This morning, Vice President Cheney suffered an irregular heartbeat for the second time since 2007. No serious worries; a little shock, and apparently he’ll be fine. The interesting bit of the story is this; Cheney was forced to cancel a campaign event because of the problem. This made me wonder: Who, in these United States, could actually benefit from Dick Cheney’s assistance on the campaign trail?

The answer, it turns out, is Marty Ozinga, who is a candidate in Illinois’ eleventh Congressional district. He’s running against Democrat Debbie Halvorson, currently an Illionis State Senator. The incumbent is a retiring Republican, and the district went Bush+7 in 2004. It’s rated a Republican+1 district by CPVI. lists the race as a tossup.

What’s interesting to me is that Cheney is all over the front page of Halvorson’s website, but not Ozinga’s; perhaps the website was scrubbed after Cheney cancelled? Or maybe Dick Cheney’s heart just did Marty Ozinga a favor. I find it difficult to imagine that, in a close race, the appearance of Dick Cheney at a campaign event is going to do any favors for the Republican candidate. It also seems a bit late in the cycle for useful fundraising, which is the one thing Cheney could probably be counted on for.

Are you now, or have you ever been, a desperate right wing hack?

[ 0 ] October 9, 2008 |

Hilzoy, after spending far too much time reading The Corner:

[The revisitation of the Ayers non-story] is delusional. It would be interesting to ask, for instance, why so few of Obama’s law students have come forward to talk about his attempt to transform them into Maoist cadres, or why the lawyers in his firm have not mentioned his commitment to cultural revolution, or how he has managed to conceal his desire to nationalize the means of production from, well, everyone. Was he secretly plotting to get asked, unexpectedly, to speak at the Democratic Convention, take a chance on running for President, and succeed, back when he was on the Harvard Law Review? That, plus absolutely iron self-control, might explain why no one caught a glimpse of Obama’s secret radicalism: he has been concealing it for decades, the better to bore away at our bourgeois institutions.

Precisely. The success of the Ayers claims — and its filial guilt-by-association narratives — depend upon one’s ability to disregard everything that Barack Obama has said and done for more than two decades in public life. It would require, in the words of Joe McCarthy, “a conspiracy on a scale so immense as to dwarf any previous such venture in the history of man.” Well, maybe not quite so immense as the one orchestrated by George C. Marshall — but still. It’s the sort of thing that will work with these assholes, but few others.

The latest faux scandal involves the claim that Obama was a member of the “Marxist socialist” New Party during his run for the Illinois State Senate. Setting aside the obvious point — which is that the “evidence” for Obama’s membership rests on the testimony of a defunct website and a pair of ambiguously-written 12-year-old articles in a magazine with single-digit readership — the insistence that the New Party represented some sort of burrowing, Trotskyite faction of the revolutionary left is, well, stupid. Unless, of course, you equate revolutionary socialism with living wage campaigns, voter registration drives, or calls for greater vigilance on anti-trust laws, or any of the other issues that animated the various urban-based party organizations. Which I suppose, given the innate deficiencies of the folks promoting this story, is probably the case.

In any event, the New Party allegations — like the Ayers story — have been around for months now. Several bloggers dropped this turd on the sidewalk in May; the usual suspects have now discovered the pile and, after shoving some candles into it, have decided that it’s a heap of birthday cake. Under ordinary conditions, I’d be tempted to assert confidently that this is is a story too pathetic for even the McCain campaign to run with, but since the old man has decided to go the Full Wallace during the last month, there’s really no telling.

Sarah Macarena

[ 0 ] October 3, 2008 |

Each December, the state of Alaska hosts a holiday party. Bubbling with seasonal cheer, the public are invited to drop by the governor’s mansion — where Sarah Palin rarely spends a night — to nibble cookies, sip warm cider, and exchange good tidings with the state’s chief executives. I’ve never gone, but I might have to break with tradition this year. If nothing else, I’ll have to thank the governor for all the extra work her vice presidential candidacy has given me. Maybe I’ll bring her a six-pack of Rainier.

Anyhow, if you’re a connoisseur of howlingly funny comment threads, I have a piece about the debate at the Minnesota Independent. The Reader’s Digest condensed version:

Palin’s advocates are understandably delighted by her performance in last night’s debate, which did not actually produce the widely-expected fiasco. Palin completed a surprising number of her sentences, and she showed evidence of having successfully assimilated lengthy portions of her stump speech. She was clearly excited to discover that she could recite the occasional facts and figures, and she drew attention to these achievement several times. Visibly and audibly nervous through much of the conversation, Palin nevertheless managed to keep smiling and striking the populist dulcimer, using phrases such as “darn right,” “doggone it,” and “heck of a lot” while trumpeting the virtues of “Joe Six Pack” (a strangely inappropriate metaphor coming from the governor of a state with some of the worst alcohol-related problems in the nation). In all, Palin heroically exceeded the lowest performance expectations in the history of vice presidential debating. To point out that Palin committed a number of gross factual errors — on Afghanistan, on the role of the vice president — seems uncharitable somehow.

Kids Can Be So Cruel…

[ 38 ] September 28, 2008 |

No Sympathy Here

[ 30 ] September 26, 2008 |

Unlike Chris Orr, I have utterly no sympathy for Sarah Palin, despite the fact that her interviews and occasional public statements have meandered into the realm of the exquisite corpse. Mike Riggs wonders if some liberals — like Orr — no longer view Palin as a “potent potential threat” and are thus more inclined to “treat her like a human being.” I’ll admit that it’s difficult to watch someone crash and burn in a nationally-televised interview for which she’s presumably had weeks to prepare, but the idea that Sarah Palin no longer represents a source of concern for Democrats is — or should be — nonsensical.

She remains the vice presidential candidate in a closely-contested race that is, politically speaking, a thousand miles from a conclusion. Though I’m temporarily buoyed by the fact that John McCain appears at the moment to be on the downward slope of a dissociative fugue, I’d be an idiot to think he didn’t have a decent chance of actually winning and launching a fake reformer with transparently shitty policy views down the hall from him in the White House. And while John McCain likes to compare himself, implausibly, to Teddy Roosevelt, in terms of his physical health he’s probably more closely affiliated with Konstantin Chernenko. All of which raises the obvious concerns about Palin, who is matchlessly unsuited for high office.

But here’s the thing about Palin that’s worth remembering. She didn’t as Orr puts it, need to “plucked from obscurity” by the McCain campaign. She could have done the sensible thing and refused the offer. She had no shortage of plausible excuses — spanning the personal as well as the political — to maintain a lower national profile and not accept an opportunity for which any Alaskan with half a brain (even, I assure you, her boosters in the legislature) understood she would be catastophically unprepared. She could have remained an immensely (if in my view undeservedly) popular governor who would likely have cruised to re-election in 2010; she might have looked forward to challenging Mark Begich for US Senate in 2014 or, Christ forbid, she could have followed an acquitted and re-elected Ted Stevens into the same office. Or she might have campaigned for the state’s only seat in the US House someday when Don Young either retires or begins a new career as a license-plate presser in federal prison. Or she could have challenged Ethan Berkowitz, who looks like a good bet to defeat Young this year but who is, at bottom, a Democrat in a state that would happily replace him with a Republican if they could find one who wasn’t, you know, a criminal.

The point is, Palin had alternatives. The point is, she made what appears to be a terrible error in judgment by fastening her political future to the clown-stuffed volkswagon otherwise known as “John McCain’s campaign.” Maybe Jesus told her to do this. Maybe she’s incapable of recognizing her limits. I don’t know, and for now I don’t really care. For now, she’s the candidate for vice president on a ticket that’s plainly undeserving of anyone’s sympathy, so I see nothing to be gained by offering it.

Panic buttons

[ 0 ] September 25, 2008 |

In spite of the fact that I teach for a living and have been running my own courses for about 15 years, I experience tremendous, daily pre-class anxiety, enhanced by my chronic inability to manage my time effectively (e.g., as I’m writing this, I’m only half-prepared for the class that begins in five minutes). Not a day passes that I don’t look forward to the possibility that a meteor will crush me as I’m driving to campus; once there, I usually waste several minutes concocting a fallback excuse just in case I decide there’s no way to go on with the day. I never follow through on any of these plans, because it would be too humiliating to concede to my worst instincts. I also usually think of the high school friend of mine who, during college, slept in accidentally and missed a major presentation that comprised 50% of his final grade. Realizing his error, he actually beat himself to a bloody pulp in his dorm room and wound up having to go to the hospital — all for the purpose of concocting a plausible excuse for missing class.

So this this seems about right.

So, let’s see, I can’t moderate the panel because I’ve been called to Washington to give a special briefing on guerilla tactics to be used against the Taliban?

Or maybe, I want to be at the meeting, but as weird as this sounds, all the bridges and tunnels out of Manhattan have been shut for the day. Some counter-terrorism thing probably. I tried renting a helicopter but they’re all booked by people at the UN.

Isn’t this pretty much what John McCain tried to pull today? But actually really did it? And on a national stage? He wants to cancel the debate? And maybe also Palin’s debate. Are you kidding? Why not cancel the election too? And because he has to go back to DC to solve the financial crisis? Really? The topic he knows nothing about and after he’s shown up less in the senate in the last two years than anyone but Tim Johnson, the guy who had the stroke? Which of my employees is going to call from home tomorrow and say they can’t come to work because of the financial crisis?

K-Lo Funny

[ 0 ] September 24, 2008 |

If I’d been severely depressed about something today, reading The Corner would have really helped clear the air. Here, for example, is K-Lo, wondering how John McCain is going to win the election if she can’t get her campaign trinkets:

Try to buy, say, a sign or a button or a t-shirt from the McCain store online and you’ll get a note that it will take 1-2 weeks. I thought we had an election to win. 1-2 weeks could mean the election!

Additionally, if you go to the RNC’s website, you will not be directed to McCain-Palin merchandise but to the George W. Bush store. Now, I love George W. Bush (I do, I still do. Even in these days of Treasury Creep ) … but, priorities, people!

I almost made a purchase …

Perhaps McCain should suspend his campaign activities until his gift shop gets its shit together.

And in the ohpleaseohpleaseohplease department, there’s this:

Many readers relay that they’d like McCain to just offer Palin step in for him.

You know those people who allow their homes to bloat and ripple with undiscarded waste, who stock thirty years of newspapers in their hallway closets, and who load up their cars with old flatware, plastic cups and boxes of clothing they find at random yard sales? Those are the people K-Lo is apparently hearing from today. [Update: Wow. The prosecution rests.]

Meantime, in other NRO news, John Derbyshire and Michael Novak are debating the virgin birth.

These people are weird.

Thanks for the Clarification

[ 27 ] September 13, 2008 |

Shorter Krauthammer:

The Bush Doctrine? It’s forty different things! It’s democracy, whiskey and sexy! It’s John Kennedy! Suck on that, Charles Gibson!

Here’s a testimony to the profound fucktacularity of the Bush years: In defending the the most ill-informed and incurious vice presidential nominee in modern American history, conservatives are reduced to pretty much conceding that they’ve been endorsing an incoherent foreign policy for eight years.

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