Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Time Machine

The past can be so unintentionally ironic and hilarious. I came across an article from 2006 in the Chicago Tribune discussing the possibility of Obama running for president in 2008. My favorite bits are below. The whole thing here.

About the Republican field:

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani might be formidable in the general
election but is too moderate to survive the GOP primary process. Sen. John
McCain's time will have passed.
Ahn-old can't run because he's foreign-born.
There's talk of Bill Frist, George Pataki, George Allen, Mitt Romney, Bill
Owens, Chuck Hagel, Haley Barbour and Jeb Bush, but it doesn't leave Democrats
crumpled in despair and resignation.

The Republican POV:

But quite a few Democrats are unenthusiastic to sickened by the prospect of
another charmless loser at the head of the ticket -- frontrunner in the polls
Hillary Clinton; re-treads John Kerry and Al Gore -- and hold out hope that a
groundswell will change Obama's mind.
Some Republicans, meanwhile, are
licking their chops at the prospect of running against an inexperienced
blue-state liberal.

User comment:

I'd love to see a strong, charismatic Dem lead the ticket after the disasterous
Kerry fiasco, which followed the Gore-Lieberman thrill-a-minute ticket, but
after witnessing how the press savaged Dean, I don't think Obama has a prayer.
"'Obama - Rhymes with Osama.' Obama will be weak on NATIONAL DEFENSE! Save
America! Vote Republican."
I can see it now.

One More:

I voted "I lean Republican and I favor the idea" because I think, if he
were the Democrat nominee, he would be crushed in the election.

Introducing Michael Goldfarb

Perhaps the stupidest campaign spokesman this entire campaign season (although I'd argue not as stupid as the flag pin guy):

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

That Goddamn Liberal Media

I got an email a couple days ago complaining about the "biased" pro-Obama slant of the main stream media, with a link to this editorial.  "It may be an eye opener to some," the email sender wrote, "but I find it to be a scary future if not corrected."  

I partly agree with the article.  Obama does receive better news coverage.  A recent study:
The Project for Excellence in Journalism’s researchers found that John McCain, over the six weeks since the Republican convention, got four times as many negative stories as positive ones. The study found six out of 10 McCain stories were negative.

What’s more, Obama had more than twice as many positive stories (36 percent) as McCain — and just half the percentage of negative (29 percent).  
This morning, Politico published an article addressing the apparent tilt in election coverage.  It's a good read, and I recommend checking it out.  

The argument the article makes is not complicated.  Essentially, there is a bias in the media.  The bias, however, is not for or against any specific candidate.  The bias is for stories.  For narratives, the "horse race."  Or, as Politico describes, a "bias against boredom."  While this does skew the press, it is a prejudice that has always and will always be a part of the media, and it does not skew liberal or conservative.  

The campaigns are aware of this.  Sometimes more attention is paid within the campaigns to being "on message" and creating a "narrative" with which the press and voters will respond rather than creating cohesive policy for voters to evaluate.  So the reason why McCain is getting such negative coverage?  He has failed at framing the story, trying out new story angles multiple times per week, and then lashing out at the press when they do not buy into his preferred point of view.  

So, yes, there is some "bias" in the election coverage recently, but to shove all blame on the media gives them too much credit.  By and large, the McCain campaign is earning the coverage they are receiving.  

Throwing Some Mud

It is kind of fun to turn on Fox News or read a right-wing blog to find out how some people in the Republican Party are labeling Barack Obama today. Blogger, Eric Martin, describes this chaos:
This is the problem. It’s not just the McCain campaign’s problem - although their inability to pick a narrative and stick to it is a special kind of inexcusable - it’s a problem for the entire wingnut noise machine. Obama is a Marxist Muslim Arab Jesus Black White Terrorist Technocrat Racist Do-Gooder Liberal FDR Stalin Hilter Commie Fascist Gay Womanizing Naive Cynical Insider Noob Boring Radical Unaccomplished Elite Slick Gaffe-Prone Pedophile Pedophile-Seducing Liberation Theology Atheist Etc. & Anti-Etc. with a bunch of scary friends from - wait for it! - the Nineteen Hundred And Sixties. It makes no sense.
And don't forget to throw in Celebrity!

No wonder no one is buying this stuff. My guess is that picking just a few of those compatible memes listed would have actually been effective, but the sense that the noise machine is running around like a decapitated chicken grows with each new smear.

All of this plays directly into Obama's best strength: his demeanor. People want to be reassured from their leaders, and McCain has not displayed any stability in this election.

As Andrew Sullivan brilliantly points out about Obama:
And still he's calm. Not too cocky. A little aloof, but very professional. He learnt all of this as a black man in a white country: no sudden moves; no anger. That's how he managed his white mother in adolescence. That's how he manages a white electorate increasingly at ease with him. And, by a massive stroke of luck, that's what voters want right now. In an economy that is melting down, with two wars still raging, they want calm above everything else. They want to know that the man in charge will not panic, will not be flustered, will not blow up.

They need a Valium. They can now vote for one for president.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Closing Time

What were you doing today?

History is happening right now. Obama's rhetoric is soaring, and while part of the Republican strategy is to write off Obama's speeches as empty political drama, watching the clip below is real and inspirational. When has someone been able to move the people of this country to care so much about our future so effectively?


My New Phobia

"Wackophobia" -- The intense fear and anxiety that some nut job will try to do something to Barack Obama.


An Inalienable Right?

Dr. James Dobson of the right-wing, theocratic, anti-gay, Colorado Springs based evangelical powerhouse "Focus on the Family" is on the airwaves and in newspapers throughout the country this week with stories of doom and gloom about America's future after four years under President Obama. Some predictions:
"The Boy Scouts no longer exist."
"Tens of thousands of Christian (public school) teachers either quit or were fired."
"The Bible can no longer be freely preached over radio or television stations."
"Christian nurses, physicians, family counselors, lawyers and other professionals are being stripped of their right to work in those fields."

The common theme for these drastic domestic predictions: the gays. Or, more specifically, our society's successful inclusion of gays and lesbians as equal members of society.

Or, to read between the lines, Dobson is openly worrying about his right to discriminate. How can he still impose his religious beliefs on other people if he cannot force people to live their lives according to the rules of his ancient storybook? Of course, he would not call it "discrimination," but at that point you are merely playing with semantics. In his worldview, my civil rights are at odds with his religious freedom.


But that leaves the question: does Dobson have the right to openly support discrimination in both the private and public sector? In my opinion, of course he does. However, expecting the growing socially-liberal electorate to play along is going to be difficult.

After eight years of theocratic and divisive right wing politics, I think people have rightly developed a "live and let live" social attitude. By and large, people respond less and less to cultural "wedge" issues. They are tired of it. Dobson backfired. And consensus is mounting that supporting people like Dobson and his hateful rhetoric is prejudiced and discriminatory.

Society almost always moves towards inclusion. And reading Dobson cry about his view of the future only illustrates how out of touch he is with the real world.

So Dobson and his followers are more than welcome to their views and are free to pursue them, but they better not be surprised when more and more people call them out on their hate. If you want to behave like a bigot, you have to be comfortable being called a bigot. That's the new rule of the game.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Saturday, October 25, 2008


As this presidential race draws to a close, my favorite part of the election finally draws near: the recount.  No, no, not as in Florida and hanging chads.  The stories from high level advisers and other people "in the room" as they all give their takes on what went down within the campaigns.  

Just as the Democratic primary finally finished this summer, the blame game inside Clinton's campaign furiously took shape as political professionals played the exciting game of "Not My Fault!!"  And now, as McCain's presidential hopes have about the same level of probability as, well, a republican winning the white house after eight years of W, "high level" and "unnamed sources close to the candidate" are covering their collective asses.  Just this weekend we have some great reports of delicious in-fighting and conspiracies.  

This is like having director's commentary to a really good movie.  

The Obama campaign has been a very tight ship, considering this has been the longest presidential campaign in history.  I can't wait for the stories behind Obama's run.  And maybe a movie?  Primary Colors 2?  Where's Mike Nichols? 

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Man of YouTube

Maybe it is because I predominitaly read liberal blogs, but it seems to me like Democrats have a monopoly on awesome and hilarious youtube videos about the election. I do not think liberal are somehow more creative, but in terms of using the aparatus of the most democratizing force the world has ever known (the internet), conservatives are left in the dust. Seriously, have you seen font over at the Drudge Report? Hideous.

Here are a few of my favorite Obama-flavored YouTube clips:

My Hometown

... Is just like every other hometown:


Can we all be in total agreement that Emile Hirsch is really dreamy:

Wake Up Call, starring Emile Hirsch from ace norton on Vimeo.

The Backwards B

Perhaps the most stunning and ultimately ridiculous story about the presidential race of the past couple days is the story of Ashley Todd, a McCain supporter who was attacked by "big black man" who mugged her, beat her up, and carved a B onto the side of her cheek. A lot of right-wing press went nuts over the story about how horrible Barack Obama supporters are getting. I know news cycles are fast, but did anyone take 2 seconds to fact-check this story:

Yes, when you look at that photo, the "B" for Barack Obama is backwards. Perhaps what it would look like if someone with a low IQ mutilated themselves in front of a mirror.

Not even getting into the racist overtones of this story that inflated the sensation, the newly-famous Ashley Todd has admitted to fabricating the story after failing a lie detector test. Big surprise, it was a lie.

Media standards anyone?

Keeping Me Entertained

Recently, I've found myself wanting to post multiple articles and videos per day on facebook, so for the sake of my friends' news feeds, I am going to start posting everything here. I can't promise postings with any regularity, but I hope you at least find it randomly amusing.