Dover Bitch

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Definition of selfishness

From a comment at Corrente:

Palin is enough to get me to vote for McCain instead of just voting downticket. I doubt I agree with a single thing she believes in, but this time, I just don't care. Women have been offered a chance to prove we can swing an election in a big way. If we can, neither the DNC nor the RNC will take us lightly for the next couple decades. If we can't, well... It's been 24 years since Ferraro was on the Dem ticket. 24 years from now I'll be 72, and I want a woman in the White House before I die. If the BB et al. don't think that's a good enough reason, they can suck me.

I'm glad you want to see a woman in the White House, but I'd like my daughters to have the same rights (and more) you've enjoyed your entire adult life. Those rights aren't yours to trade away.

Seriously, who the fuck do you think you are?

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Go long

(Cross-posted at Hullabaloo)

Like most of America, I can't say I know much about Sarah Palin. But here's a few instant (yes, you could say knee-jerk) reactions to today's news that she's on the ticket with John McCain.

  • McCain has definitely concluded that he wasn't going to win without doing something dramatic. Just like his surge in Iraq, McCain has decided to "Go long."

  • McCain got what he wanted and needed the most: Nobody is talking about the magnificent speech Barack Obama gave last night.

  • John "never surrender" McCain just gave up on trying to attack Obama's experience. It was a calculation he was willing to make. Interesting.

  • Palin is already benefiting from extremely low expectations. Really can't get much lower than a complete unknown. Biden will have to realize that winning a debate against her is pointless. He will need to share a stage with her, but win a debate against McCain.

  • Palin has already started blowing the dogwhistles:

    Now, no one expects us to agree on everything, whether in Juneau or in Washington. But we are expected to govern with integrity, and goodwill, and clear convictions, and a servant's heart.

  • She said Nook-yoo-ler.

  • Whether this pick is just another gimmick in a long line of McCain's gimmicks, it is striking to me that a man who told America that Obama is a big risk in an uncertain world has chosen a running mate who said this in her introduction:

    If our state wanted a bridge, I said we'd build it ourselves. Well, it's always, though, safer in politics to avoid risk, to just kind of go along with the status quo. But I didn't get into government to do the safe and easy things. A ship in harbor is safe, but that's not why the ship is built.

    It's been noted that McCain likes to roll the dice. He is now asking America not just to gamble on an unknown, but to gamble on a pair of gamblers.

  • Palin has an interesting personal story and in our superficial national discourse, that will be a plus for her. As much of a dull blade as Rep. Eric Cantor can be, I was actually worried that he would be the surprise pick. I'm less worried about Palin, but going with somebody other than Mitt or Lieberman was a good move.

  • I think we're going to see a lot more of Hillary Clinton over the next two months than I thought yesterday.

  • The fact that there are only a couple months before the election might help Palin quite a bit. Everybody knew Arnold Schwarzenegger already, but his initial victory in California was facilitated by the extremely short campaign allowed by the special election. There's less time for something really embarrassing to happen.

  • The vice presidential selection is not as important as everybody will make it out to be today. (UPDATE: As was pointed out in comments, in the case of McCain's age, it is a big deal. Good point. Damn, knee-jerk reactions.)

  • Even though Palin comes with a scandal in progress, I wonder if the Obama camp will get drawn into making a big deal about it. I think it will help blunt her claims to be a big reformer, but as I wrote above, the person they really need to defeat is John McCain.

    UPDATE: That didn't take long. Palin's big reformer talking point is already falling apart. Really, really falling apart.

    We've already heard all the great things that we're going to hear about Palin. Everything from here on out is going to be stuff they didn't want to talk about. This could get good.

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  • Thursday, August 28, 2008

    Post-speech analysis

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    Alons enfants de la patrie

    Because I'm "probably French," I'm going to find whatever Francs are in my sofa and didn't get converted to Euros, so I can give them to one of the finest satirists on the intertubes. Join me in keeping Jesus' General riding to Armageddon in his gold-plated Abrams M1 tank.


    This is not a blog post

    (Cross-posted at Hullabaloo)

    Another day, another McCain advisor thrown under the bus for accidentally telling the truth about his candidate's indifference to the struggles of ordinary Americans. John Goodman "said anyone with access to an emergency room effectively has insurance."

    "So I have a solution. And it will cost not one thin dime," Mr. Goodman said. "The next president of the United States should sign an executive order requiring the Census Bureau to cease and desist from describing any American -- even illegal aliens -- as uninsured. Instead, the bureau should categorize people according to the likely source of payment should they need care.

    "So, there you have it. Voila! Problem solved."

    This is nothing new, of course. Just a year ago, Bush made the same argument:

    The immediate goal is to make sure there are more people on private insurance plans. I mean, people have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room.

    Ronald Reagan pioneered this art when he justified his lack of decent funding for school lunches by redefining ketchup as a vegetable.

    Still, before Bush became president, the idea you could solve problems simply by calling them victories was a concept reserved for satirists. Or something only a governor would get away with.

    George Bush and his sidekick, John McCain, have really taken it to a new level. They redefined "hunger" as "very low food security" in order to salvage their domestic record. They redefined squirting guacamole at Taco Bell as a "manufacturing job" to salvage their jobs record. They are trying to redefine contraception as abortion.

    They redefined what a stream is in order to open them up to the coal industry. They've tried to redefine carbon dioxide in order to allow more pollution. They redefined "privacy." They redefined "overtime." They tried to redefine toxic sludge to justify defunding Superfund. They redefined the Vice President as a fourth branch of government. They redefined "organic." They redefined "torture" and the Geneva Conventions.

    They prevented NASA from talking about global warming or even mentioning the Big Bang. They don't want irradiated food labelled. They even fought to prevent meatpackers from testing their own cattle for Mad Cow disease.

    And I haven't even started on all the people who were kicked to the curb for predicting the costs of the Iraq War would be tremendous. Or the way they hid the real costs of the GOP's health care bill.

    That's how they solve problems. Two plus two equals four? No problem! "Two plus [redacted] equals five!"

    McCain's plan is to deliver the exact same prescriptions for the "whiners" in a "mental recession:" Out of sight, out of mind.

    I'm sure you all may be getting speeched out this week (with so many more to come), but if you get a chance and you haven't read it before, check out Mark Danner's 2007 commencement address to a group of Department of Rhetoric graduates at UC Berkely.

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    (Cross-posted at Hullabaloo)

    The McCain team is ready for their close up.

    DENVER (CNN) – John McCain has decided on his running mate and will officially reveal his pick on Friday in Ohio, multiple sources tell CNN.

    A knowledgeable Republican source says there the matter was settled at a major meeting of McCain's advisers Wednesday.

    The Arizona senator's choice has not yet been told of the decision, but the plan is to call tomorrow. A handful of names of dominated VP speculation in recent days, including former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, independent Senator Joe Lieberman, and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.

    The presumptive Republican nominee will appear with his prospective running mate at a massive rally on August 29, the day after Barack Obama formally accepts the Democratic presidential nomination.

    The McCain campaign is hoping to have 15,000 people at the Ohio rally — roughly five times the size of his largest crowd to date.

    That massive rally is sure going to look daunting after Barack Obama electrifies a capacity crowd at Invesco Field tonight. Of course, you know this will probably be leaked today to change the subject away from Obama's big speech. That's the card you play when you simply cannot compete on the same playing field (literally). Oh, but I forgot... McCain's inability to draw big crowds is simply a reflection of his vast experience.

    When you think about it, Obama actually has more experience than McCain. Sure, a guy named "John McCain" has been in the Senate since 1987, but he's not the Republican nominee.

    There was a guy by that name who supported Roe v. Wade, but the new John McCain replaced him two years ago.

    There was a guy by that name who called Jerry Falwell an "agent of intolerance", but the new John McCain replaced him two years ago.

    There was a guy by that name who proposed comprehensive immigration reform, but the new John McCain replaced him in February.

    There was a guy by that name who was against waterboarding, but the new John McCain replaced him in February.

    There was a guy by that name who was willing to talk to Hamas, but the new John McCain replaced him in May.

    There was a guy by that name who was against offshore drilling, but the new John McCain replaced him in June.

    There was a guy by that name who supported affirmative action, but the new John McCain replaced him in July.

    The new John McCain running for president has only really existed for a couple years, max. Parts of his brain have been replaced as recently as this summer. Really, the list of his reversals is staggering. We're going to hear a lot next week about his huge advantage on experience, but they're really not going to be talking about the same person they nominated. What happened to that guy? Where did the world's oldest freshman come from and how did he get keys to all of John McCain's houses?

    They're also going to throw around their favorite tired zingers, like "Blame America First." This from the crowd that nominated a guy who reacted to 9/11 by leading the Blame Iraq First brigade. This from a guy who abandoned his principles to cozy up to the extremists who really did Blame America First, while real Americans, the majority of Americans, were coming together, united, the way we have defeated every threat in our history.

    It's certainly useful for Obama that people are starting to notice that John McCain is playing the POW card with increasing frequency. I find that it never justifies the mistake he's trying to excuse with it or the position he's claiming he supports because of it. But the repetition honestly doesn't diminish, in my mind, the sacrifice he made years ago.

    However, there is a vast -- you might say "massive" -- difference between the images of honor in his biography and the undignified campaigner he has chosen to become, the bottom-feeders with whom he has associated himself and the swiftness with which he has dispatched so many of the principled positions he has taken previously. The more he describes what a big man he was in the past, the smaller he looks today.

    If he weren't perilously close to running the country, it would be just another tragedy of Washington D.C. that I'd just as soon forget.


    Wednesday, August 27, 2008

    Really proud

    Billmon has written a beautiful diary at Daily Kos.

    I'm so glad billmon is writing again.



    (Cross-posted at Hullabaloo)

    Beyond the usual pleasure of reading one of Digby's dispatches, I was happy to read this morning's anecdote about the Hillary supporter who was ready to work hard to get Barack Obama elected.

    Though I've been greatly annoyed by the relentless reporting of the "rift" in the party, when Hillary gave her fantastic speech last night, I started to wonder if the media's inflation of the magnitude of the perceived internal war might actually turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Clinton so skillfully connected this election and its consequences to the history, sacrifice and struggle of American women for equality and fairness, I began to think maybe John McCain did the Democrats a favor with his ads fanning those flames. Clinton's Harriett Tubman reference last night was brilliant.

    I also thought about Hillary's campaign and how different the outcome might have been had she taken Rachel Maddow's advice early on and focused her attention on John McCain and the GOP, instead of trying to take down Obama.

    But, as Digby wrote this morning, the media narrative is like a piece of Ikea furniture. The holes are already drilled, the dowels already measured out and there's only one way to put it together, no matter how painful it is to assemble it into its catalog-photo orientation. And in the end, of course, there are obviously a few screws loose.

    For the loosest screws, we can always turn to Fox News, where they set the bar low yesterday, explaining that Michele Obama's speech actually re-enforced her negative image -- that is, when you replace her words with completely different words. This will be fun to do with McCain next week. ("The glimmerings of democracy are very faint in Russia America today, and so I would be very harsh.")

    Steve Benen notices today that other media outlets aren't replacing Clinton's words with their own, they're just ignoring them completely and inviting "body language experts" to demonstrate that she was essentially lying.

    On the evening of June 28, a few hours after Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton appeared together in Unity, N.H., for their first post-primary joint appearance, CNN devoted quite a bit of airtime to "body-language experts."

    At one point, one of the "experts" argued that the position of Hillary Clinton's navel carries great political significance: "She angles her belly button toward him. She's treating him with respect. She has her hands in a fig leaf position, which tends to be a passive position, really turning the power over to Obama. We face our belly buttons and the core of our body to people we like, have affinity toward and people we respect. And she's doing it."

    It was, to my mind, some of the worst on-air political "journalism" -- I use the word loosely -- I've ever seen from a major news outlet. And yet, CBS News this morning did the exact same thing.

    I'm disappointed. I was expecting to wake up and learn that anonymous sources leaked word that wasn't even Hillary last night, but an impostor. Maybe even Barack Obama in a Hillary costume.

    I have the undeniable proof right here:

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    Tuesday, August 26, 2008

    Try decaf

    (Cross-posted at Hullabaloo)

    You can always tell an election is nearing. The ads start airing during your shows. The bumper stickers become more visible during your commute. And Joe Scarborough begins his gradual, but inevitable transition from thinly-veiled, independent "journalist" to complete water-carrying GOP hack. It's really the same script every election cycle and it usually blooms like a flower with an episode like today's Morning Joe:

    The only time he shut up during the entire segment (other than during the beginning of Mika Brzezinski's newscast, which he interrupted and ended prematurely) was when David Shuster challenged him: to say "John McCain was wrong."

    SHUSTER: One final point: It's very different to say, "Yes, we ought to take the Iraqis up on their word," and at the same time say, "You know what, when John McCain ridicules that very point, he is wrong." And if you want to say, right now -- we can end this argument -- "When John McCain ridicules the point that we ought to take up the Iraqis and get out of Iraq, and he ridicules that, he is wrong." You can say that right now and that's the end of this.

    SCARBOROUGH: Well, actually, you're trying to pick a fight with somebody that wasn't fighting with you. As a guy...

    SHUSTER: Well, you can end the fight by saying "John McCain is wrong." Go ahead say it. "John McCain is wrong when he ridicules people who call for a timetable."

    [a few seconds of cafeteria din]

    SCARBOROUGH: I.. wha... whuuu... miii... Where am I? Am I on Crossfire? I thought they cancelled that show... John McCain is John... OK... John McCain is wrong for blah, blah, blah, whatever you said. We're not on opposite sides here.

    This smackdown followed seven minutes of schoolyard taunts by Scarborough, including, in the most sarcastic tone he could muster, "Ooooh, you're an independent! Why, I feel soooo comforted by the fact that you're an independent! I bet everybody at MSNBC has 'independent' on their voting cards! Ooooh, we're down the middle now!"

    Truly embarrassing. You can tell the GOP is in trouble this year, because Joe usually waits until somebody mentions Mary Cheney before he percolates completely.

    He's probably still smarting from last night, when Keith Olbermann muttered, "Jesus, Joe, why don't you get a shovel?" while Scarborough was praising McCain's Karl Rove 2.0, Steve Schmidt.

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    Monday, August 25, 2008

    Transcendental photo op of our time, my friends

    (Cross-posted at Hullabaloo)

    How hard is John McCain trying to keep Georgia in the news? He's sending his wife, Cindy, there for a photo op with president Mikheil Saakashvili.

    SACRAMENTO -- Cindy McCain, wife of Sen. John McCain, is headed to the Republic of Georgia, where tensions between the government and Russia have sparked international concern and have become an issue on the presidential campaign trail.

    McCain announced to a group of fundraisers in Sacramento that his wife was headed to the country, but the campaign did not provide any details about the trip.

    McCain has been very aggressive in his condemnation of Russia's invasion of Georgia, and his campaign has been critical of Obama's more measured response when Russian tanks first pushed into the country.

    You've got to hand it to him. Four years ago, George Bush tried to change the subject by sending his wife and kids to New York. At least McCain's wife is heading to an actual war zone. Even scarier, there are rumors that Dick Cheney may be hunting in Tbilisi.

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    Where there's smoke, there's Segretti

    (Cross-posted at Hullabaloo)

    Digby and dday are in the Mile High City, but here's a view of the convention coverage from closer to sea level. When the news broke last week that the Clinton's formed a "whip team" to handle troublemakers, I immediately realized that any disturbance, no matter how insignificant, would be elevated to a top story. It's kind of like when there's an earthquake and all the helicopters swarm over a burning shack somewhere and people across America get the impression that all of California is engulfed in flames.

    The McCain campaign is smart to put out these otherwise ridiculous Hillary Clinton ads this week. The ads may be easy to mock if you are an Obama supporter (they are easy to mock), but McCain's real target audience is his base, which means the tire-swinging press corps.

    Naturally, FOX News is already leading the way by not just reporting that it's 1968 all over again, but trying to actually stir up trouble for their broadcasts. But the rest of the media appears to be receiving the message perfectly. CNN is spending most of their time this morning talking about the attempts to "paper over" the big divisions in the party. MSNBC just ran a clip of Teddy Kennedy standing with Jimmy Carter in 1980 as NBC's David Brinkley cooed, "This is awkward."

    It's a well-rehearsed GOP strategy and it's going to be monumentally difficult to keep this convention from being turned into a Clinton-Obama civil war -- at least as far as it appears to everybody outside Denver this week.

    UPDATE: As soon as I hit 'publish' for this post, Chuck Todd said the Clinton-Obama story "is like catnip for us." He then explained that the media will get over it soon. Yeah, right.

    LATE UPDATE: In fairness to Todd, as the convention opened, he dumped cold water all over the topic by telling Chris Matthews that it's not a real story and reporters will likely look back and wonder why they wasted time on it. But wasting time, they are.

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    Sunday, August 24, 2008

    Passed Over

    (Cross-posted at Hullabaloo)

    The Rat[Loving] Express is rolling ahead with an ad called "Passed Over," lamenting the fact that Barack Obama didn't select Hillary Clinton as his running mate, despite the fact that she received millions of votes. The McCain camp charges that Clinton spoke the truth and Obama couldn't stand the pain.

    I, for one, cannot wait to celebrate the exciting news that John McCain has selected Ron Paul as his vice president.

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    Old School

    (Cross-posted at Hullabaloo)

    Over at his new base of operations, the Washington Monthly's Political Animal, the prolific Steve Benen (he has to be a robot) brings up the impolitic age issue:

    Interestingly enough, 87% said they were comfortable with an African-American president, but 55% said the same about a 72-year-old president. Moreover, while 11% conceded they were uncomfortable with an African-American president, 45% said the same of a 72-year-old president. Only 6% said they were "entirely uncomfortable" with a black president, while more than triple, 20%, said the same of a septuagenarian.

    Now, I don't doubt that some respondents were being less than honest about their racial prejudices, but even putting that aside, that's a lot of people who are obviously uneasy about McCain's advanced age.

    I continue to think this is something of a sleeper issue in this campaign. There's been enormous interest in exploring the racial angles to this campaign, but there's ample data -- going back to early last year -- that McCain's age actually matters to voters, and it's an issue that raises doubts.

    Absolutely it's a big issue. And there's no way that the Obama campaign can come right out and say it. Fortunately, the McCain camp has already demonstrated how to get a message out there: By ostensibly putting out an entirely different message.

    John McCain stands in front of signs that read "COUNTRY FIRST" and states flatly that Obama wants America to lose a war for his own personal interests. That's clearly a question of judgment! How could anybody think he was questioning Obama's patriotism?

    JILL ZUCKMAN, "THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE": I just want to be a little contrarian here. How do you talk about a war—how do you talk about your opponent's position on the war without it being imbued with the patriotism issue? McCain didn't say, I'm questioning his patriotism. He's questioning his policy. Obama wanted to bring the troops home when things were very, very bad in Iraq. And he wants to bring them home now when things are good.

    Well done, Jill!

    Even though IOKIYAR is usually the order of the day, the subtext detectors of the chattering classes appear eager to scrutinize Obama's ads for hidden meaning. Here's Chris Matthews, reacting to the Obama ad that points out how out-of-touch John McCain is with his countless assets:

    MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Richard, tough call here, was that an implicit shot at what some people call a senior moment, when a person can't remember what they should remember? Was that another way they thought they were hurting him by jumping on him?

    WOLFFE: The framework they're using—and you can decide for yourself whether this refers to age—is him being out of touch. Now, is he out of touch with his own life or out of touch with the American people and the economy as it is today? The campaign would argue strenuously this is about the economy. But, you know, what's the explanation for someone not knowing how much property they own? It's either his wife was really running things. Their marriage is such that they don't really share these issues with each other. Or he's got too much property. Or he's somehow cut loose from his own life.

    Every "Democratic Strategist" on his show has explained to Matthews that the ad is about the economy and that a guy who believes in "mental recessions" ought to at least understand what it is to have money on your mind. But if Hardball wants to talk about John McCain's age all day, great. Let them think that Obama wants to make age an issue, too. We all know that "journalistic rules" prevent the media professionals from creating a debate unless the Democrats explicitly tell them to. If they don't think that things like the age and Ambien consumption of the president are worthy of discussion without provocation from the Obama camp, then they'll have to be led to believe that provocation is really happening. It would seem they're willing to believe it already.

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    There will be no honeymoon

    (Cross-posted at Hullabaloo)

    On the eve of the Democratic Convention, I think it might be a good idea to remind ourselves what happened after the last one and prepare ourselves for how quickly the Republicans will try to change the subject.

    On Thursday, July 29, 2004, John Kerry had a modest lead in the polls and Democrats were energized as the convention came to a close. Delegates, activists and party leaders returned home, ready to re-engage with their communities. But before Monday rolled around and anybody had a chance to gather at the water cooler, Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge emerged with an important announcement:

    Secretary Ridge: Good afternoon, ladies and gentleman. President Bush has told you, and I have reiterated the promise, that when we have specific credible information, that we will share it. Now this afternoon, we do have new and unusually specific information about where al-Qaeda would like to attack. And as a result, today, the United States Government is raising the threat level to Code Orange for the financial services sector in New York City, Northern New Jersey and Washington, DC.

    Since September 11th, 2001, leaders of our commercial financial institutions have demonstrated exceptional leadership in improving its security. However, in light of new intelligence information, we have made the decision to raise the threat level for this sector, in these communities, to bring protective resources to an even higher level.

    Code Orange!

    It was still 2004, so millions of Americans who know now that the Bush Administration will tell them absolutely anything were still willing to accept that there was a legitimate threat and action needed to be taken immediately. It wasn't just Republicans, after all. When crazy Howard Dean suggested there may be politics involved (YEARGHH!), George Bush's favorite Democrat took to the airwaves with outrage:

    SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: I don't think anybody who has any fairness or is in their right mind would think that the president or the secretary of Homeland Security would raise an alert level and scare people for political reasons.

    Perish the thought. This was "specific credible information" and Sec. Ridge had no choice but to come right out that particular Sunday and deliver the grim news. After all, the information they had was, uh, three years old.

    Ridge hadn't exactly divulged that the information was in their possession for a long time and was more along the lines of surveillance notes rather than attack plans. But any reporter -- or citizen -- with the ability to think rationally when the government screamed "TERROR!" might have noticed that this is a strange thing to see when you bring your camera to a building that's about to be attacked by al-Qaeda:

    Naturally, when there is "specific credible information" that a building is about to be attacked, the Presidential Playbook instructs him to send his wife and children to the target for a photo op with the mayor and governor. Bush's decision was textbook.

    It is as clear in retrospect as it should have been to any observer back then: The Bush/Cheney/Rove operation would play on America's fears to win the election. Keith Olbermann has documented this strategy well with his Nexus Of Politics And Terror.

    It's also important to note that there is a steep cost to us all when this happens. Not just the psychological damage that comes with an electorate whose judgment is clouded by fear and not just the damage done to our nation when a population ceases to trust a government that cries wolf. According to the American Public Transportation Association, "[e]very day on Orange Alert costs transit systems at least $900,000 a day."

    In 2003, New York Governor George Pataki explained that Code Orange isn't free:

    GOV. GEORGE PATAKI (R), NEW YORK: Well, there's no question that being at this heightened level of alert has cost New York State hundreds of millions of dollars.

    MESERVE: Neighboring New Jersey says maintaining threat level orange costs $125,000 a day. And the city of Baltimore estimates its costs at $300,000 a week.

    The U.S. Conference of Mayors in 2003 (PDF) wrote:

    [W]we estimate that cities nationwide are spending nearly $70 million per week in additional homeland security costs due to the war and heightened threat alert level. If the war and/or threat alert level continue for six months, cities would incur nearly $2 billion in additional costs.

    We stress that these costs come ON TOP OF existing homeland security spending already underway or planned since 9/11. In addition, this survey only asked cities about DIRECT costs, new money that had to be allocated for homeland security because of the war or threat alert. These figures do NOT account for the huge INDIRECT costs cities are experiencing.

    In the case of this "limited" Orange Alert in New York, many of those indirect costs were paid by ordinary citizens:

    ''Anything that slows down the city in general has economic impact, and anything that affects the financial institutions that are still our most important industry also has an impact,'' said Ronnie Lowenstein, an economist who is director of the city's Independent Budget Office. ''It is hard to imagine that these kinds of warnings don't have any impact.''

    Rob Kotch, who runs Breakaway Courier Systems, a business that like much of New York's economy depends on speed and mobility, put it another way.

    ''The cost of all this security is friction to the economy,'' Mr. Kotch said. ''You consider the cost of a driver is $45 an hour. Do the math. If you put a dollar amount on waiting time sitting in traffic for security checks, it can be huge.''

    Millions of dollars for the First Lady and Twins to "reassure" the people working in one building. Millions of dollars to make everybody in America afraid. Mostly taxpayer dollars. That Aug. 1 Orange Alert remained in effect for 102 days, through the RNC in New York City and until after the election.

    And the cost was actually much steeper. It wasn't simply a financial loss America took to change the subject away from John Kerry's convention:

    But what's more disturbing, perhaps even more than the new details of al-Qaida's twisted plotting, is the Bush administration's outing of an undercover al-Qaida agent in its rush to justify raising the terror alert. This move, whether politically motivated or rooted in incompetence has terrorism and security experts shocked and dismayed for the harm inflicted on intelligence operations against al-Qaida. CNN reports today that the administration "may have shut down an important source of information that has already led to a series of al-Qaida arrests" when officials revealed Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan's identity to journalists last week (Khan is the computer expert who "flipped" last month and was operating as a double-agent for the Pakistani government). Do we have so many plugged-in al-Qaida double agents that we can afford to lose one and with him all of his connections and leads? Of course not.

    Juan Cole looks at the consequences: British intelligence agents scrambled last week to arrest 13 members of a London al-Qaida cell before they fled after learning  from the Bush administration!  that Khan had been arrested. "The British do not, however, appear to have finished gathering enough evidence to prosecute the 13 in the courts successfully," Cole writes. And even worse: 5 got away. "If this is true," Cole says. "It is likely that the 5 went underground on hearing that Khan was in custody. That is, the loose lips of the Bush administration enabled them to flee arrest. Of the 13 taken into custody on Aug. 3, two were released for lack of evidence and two others were 'no longer being questioned on suspicion of terrorism offences.'"

    It may be another election, but George Bush is still president, Dick Cheney is still VP. Karl Rove's team is advising John McCain. Joe Lieberman and Tom Ridge are on television every day as McCain surrogates and potential VP picks. The polls are close and all the talking heads believe (as does McCain, evidenced by his reaction to events in Georgia) that anything involving threats to America will help the GOP.

    I'm glad Barack Obama already had a week to have fun in Hawaii. There will be no honeymoon after this convention.

    UPDATE: By popular demand, here is a 2005 USA Today story about the source of Ridge's announcements:

    WASHINGTON — The Bush administration periodically put the USA on high alert for terrorist attacks even though then-Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge argued there was only flimsy evidence to justify raising the threat level, Ridge now says.

    Ridge, who resigned Feb. 1, said Tuesday that he often disagreed with administration officials who wanted to elevate the threat level to orange, or "high" risk of terrorist attack, but was overruled.

    His comments at a Washington forum describe spirited debates over terrorist intelligence and provide rare insight into the inner workings of the nation's homeland security apparatus.

    Ridge said he wanted to "debunk the myth" that his agency was responsible for repeatedly raising the alert under a color-coded system he unveiled in 2002.

    "More often than not we were the least inclined to raise it," Ridge told reporters. "Sometimes we disagreed with the intelligence assessment. Sometimes we thought even if the intelligence was good, you don't necessarily put the country on (alert). ... There were times when some people were really aggressive about raising it, and we said, 'For that?' "

    For the record, I'm not predicting that there will be a terror alert next week. I'm merely pointing out that this crew will go to serious lengths to change the subject and we might as well prevent the element of surprise from being a factor (and bust out the popcorn).

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    Saturday, August 23, 2008

    Fournier, another McCain servant?

    The Associated Press' D.C. Bureau Chief, Ron Fournier, was offered and, apparently, seriously considered a top job working for the McCain campaign.

    It's been well documented, by Media Matters for example, that his columns tend to favor McCain, to put it politely.

    It's also been revealed that Fournier had words of encouragement for Karl Rove, when details were emerging about Pat Tillman's death.

    When the AP issued it's first look at Barack Obama's choice for Vice President, here was the headline:

    Analysis: Biden pick shows lack of confidence

    Guess who wrote it?

    Doesn't John McCain have enough people maintaining his pampered lifestyle?

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    Wednesday, August 20, 2008

    McCain: Vote for me, wackos

    Atrios spots a killer Obama ad that takes McCain to task for failing to hold Ralph Reed accountable for his involvment in the Abramoff scandal -- and then for using Reed to raise campaign funds.

    I pray that when the McCain surrogates respond and defend Reed, the Obama camp is prepared and brings out the details of Reed's role in the scandal:

    Reed is also an evangelical Christian, although his writings suggest that politics have always been his true religion. In his book, Active Faith, Reed describes his political epiphany--the moment when he comprehended the electoral potential of the religious right--far more vividly than his spiritual conversion. After he and Abramoff earned their stripes by rejuvenating the College Republicans in the 1980s, Reed joined Pat Robertson's crusade to shape Christian conservatives into a potent political movement. As the director of the Christian Coalition, Reed attracted attention for his political talents more than his ideological fervor; he was a gifted orchestrator of grassroots campaigns. Now, in his new private sector incarnation, Reed effectively rented out his conservative Christian networks to Century Strategies' various clients, for sums that Abramoff described as "chump change."

    Scanlon outlined Reed's pivotal role in an October 2001 memo to the Louisiana Coushatta tribe, explaining how the Christian right's abhorrence of gambling could be harnessed to protect the Coushatta's casino business. For $575,000, Scanlon promised to engineer floods of letters and phone calls from Christian conservatives to political representatives, protesting the operations of the Coushatta's competition. He also promised to have Christian leaders condemn rival operations in radio ads and in letters to key political figures. "Simply put we want to bring out the wackos to vote against something and make sure the rest of the public lets the whole thing slip past them," Scanlon wrote. "The wackos get their information from the Christian right, Christian radio, the internet and telephone trees." In another memo to the Coushatta, Scanlon noted that the quality of Reed's databases and connections would create a "political effort that truly resembles a people's movement" without the telltale marks of a "paid political operation."

    I wonder how the "wackos" will feel about suddenly-incredibly-devout McCain using Reed's databases and connections. Christians already have doubts about McCain. When the McCain camp defends Reed, Obama surrogates should remind everybody how he plainly he exploited people's faith for votes and money and ask why McCain thinks that's just fine.

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    Monday, August 18, 2008

    Mavericks abound

    Mavericks are bold. Unique. Visionary. Difference-makers. That’s why The University of Texas at Arlington is proud to host the Maverick Speakers Series, an in-depth look at the people, ideas, actions, and solutions that impact the world around us, featuring some of the leading voices of our time. More than just speeches on current events or timely issues, these are conversations with a purpose, led by renowned innovators who make change happen.

    Because such important conversations need a variety of voices, the Maverick Speakers Series invites opinions from all sides, with topics that are as diverse and far-reaching as the people who present them. And because unrestricted access to such exchanges encourages insight and enrichment beyond the UT Arlington campus, every lecture in the Maverick Speakers Series is free and open to everyone.

    Hells yeah! Who's the bold visionary up for the 9/11 slot?

    Who isn't a maverick these days?


    Monday, August 11, 2008


    Super lobbyist, McCain donor and loathsome GOP figure Ed Rogers decided to talk to the Washington Post about Barack Obama last week:

    John McCain's celebrity ad was effective. It wasn't uncontroversial and it didn't please all the political scientists, but it sure got noticed, and it made Barack Obama overreact. Questions about Obama's desire for celebrity status will linger. He now has to be very careful about intersecting with Hollywood, pop culture and entertainment. Lee Atwater said the worst thing you can do in American politics is play to your negative stereotype. Well, Obama's negative stereotype now includes the idea that he may be a little too glitzy. (Speaking of negative stereotypes, when Obama was talking about the pictures of presidents on dollar bills, was he introducing the presumptuous notion that his face belongs on American currency? I wonder whom he thinks he should replace.)

    At least he was able to refrain from mentioning Obama's middle name while calling him "glitzy."

    In other news, NBC has just completed the pilot for their new show, POWER HOUSE. In the first episode, we get to see how Ed Rogers and his wife live in their "Republican Shangri-La" -- an 18-thousand square foot estate in McLean, VA.

    Looks just like my livingroom. We must have the same architect.

    The genuine cowhide toilet-seat cover really says "I shit you not" with class. The golden studs around it aren't the least bit ostentatious.

    And finally, we get to see why the lobbyists and hedonists with whom McCain has surrounded himself have proclaimed Americans to be a bunch of whiners:

    That's right. She's standing in front of rows of her designer shoes cutting up sheets of freshly printed U.S. dollar bills with a pair of scissors so she can use them as wrapping paper.


    UPDATE: I forgot to mention that Digby has written about Surry Hill. Probably because I was too busy remodeling my bedroom after discovering that Ed Rogers has the exact same furniture.

    LATE UPDATE: I eagerly await the swift arm of justice:

    Whoever mutilates, cuts, defaces, disfigures, or perforates, or unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, or Federal Reserve bank, or the Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt unfit to be reissued, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

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    Monday, August 04, 2008

    John McCain's Health Care Plan

    One idiotic and juvenile campaign gimmick deserves another.


    Friday, August 01, 2008

    Southern Strategy 2008

    Cross-posted at Daily Kos (just cuz I felt like it)

    Mike Barnicle on MSNBC is dumbfounded today. He didn't see any of the racial subtext in the Britney Spears and Paris Hilton ad. Why, he asks, would John McCain want to woo crazy racist voters who would vote for him anyway? He should look in the mirror for his answer.

    Let's just get one thing out there that anybody should be able to understand: There is no way -- none -- that the McCain campaign did not know that some people in America would see the racial/sexual subtext in that ad.

    It doesn't matter if the ad "really" is racist. If, like Mike Barnicle, you didn't see the racism that I did, no, that doesn't make you an idiot.

    However, if you think the McCain campaign was surprised that some people did see racism in an ad in which a handsome black candidate was coupled with a pair of young blondes who are famous for not wearing underwear, then, yes, you are an idiot.

    These people get paid millions of dollars for their expertise in putting these ads together. They run everything by a series of focus groups. They have been exploiting racial divisions for decades. It's no secret: Former Republican Chairman Ken Melhman even apologized to the NAACP for it three years ago.

    There is absolutely no way the McCain campaign put these ads on the air without expecting some people -- maybe not Mike Barnicle -- to gasp and point out the racial subtext. No way on earth they didn't know this would be the reaction from a good slice of the left. They knew it and they wanted it.

    But why, Mike Barnicle asks? They already have the racist vote locked up! True, Mike, but there are millions of independent voters who, like you, didn't get the subliminal message. Millions of voters who might have liked Obama because he's not Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson. John McCain wants these voters, independent white voters who don't hate black people, but hate when black people "play the race card."

    John McCain, the honorable John McCain, couldn't possibly have known people would think these ads were racist. right? As concerned as the McCain campaign is that they'll be branded as racists, they had no idea that anybody would get the wrong idea from those images. Nobody could have predicted...

    Of course they knew. They wanted the reaction and they got it, along with the media's obtuse confusion. Now, to a host of independent voters, Obama is just another Jackson or Sharpton.

    UPDATE Josh Marshall flags this must-read article in New York Magazine, which makes my point precisely.

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    Boxing analogies

    So David Gregory just mentioned that MSNBC has a boxing analogy for the McCain campaign:

    To use a boxing analogy, McCain is putting Obama into a bear hug -- making it nearly impossible for the Illinois senator to move (in the polls?) or land a punch. But as a big boxing aficionado, McCain also must realize that the fans often don’t take too kindly to boxers who constantly bear hug their opponent. And at some point, the refs break up the bear hugging and the boxing match is forced. But for now, the McCain campaign appears to have a way to knock Obama off message. The only problem for McCain, he's still not on any message of his own, other than "not-Obama." The campaign believes their energy message did break through. Time will tell.

    I also have a boxing analogy for David Gregory this week.

    GREGORY: It should also be pointed out that embedded in what some may condemn as baseless, negative advertising are some serious questions for debate in this campaign about Obama's judgment and his plans.

    RINGSIDE GREGORY: It should also be pointed out that embedded in what some may condemn as unethical fighting tactics are some serious questions for debate in this sport about Evander Holyfield's judgment and whether somebody with ears as edible as his should be in the ring at all.

    That was the basic media narrative this week. Sure, the claims in the commercial are demonstrably false, but what do they tell us about Obama?

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    The Only Way

    Former Republican Congressman (and original PNAC member) Vin Weber just told Andrea Mitchell that the McCain campaign is fighting back this week because the ad getting all the attention is really just about foreign oil. Weber explained that they don't want to end up in a situation where any talk about any issue would be off limits with John McCain being labeled a racist.

    It's just so unfair. We all know the only way to discuss U.S. energy policy is to create a video montage of a black man and a pair of young blonde girls famous for not wearing underwear.

    You can tell that the people who get paid millions of dollars for their expertise in shaping public opinion with these ads were simply unable to avoid these pitfalls, despite the serious concern in the McCain camp that they might be undeservedly branded as racists. They really tried so hard to create an ad that focuses on the issues. How could they know they were tapping into such a sensitive subtext?

    Why are liberals everywhere trying to stop John McCain from talking about his super-awesome ideas?

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