Friday, October 31, 2008

Ooooo... bama!

Mikaela says:
Loving all the Barack O'Lanterns. Thanks, Maggie, for the heads up.

See more fun pumpkins here:

They've got lots of fun stencils, too. Woo-hoo!

New entry in the NC tradition

Maggie says:
My home state of North Carolina is known for a few things: barbecue, college basketball, and... horrific political advertising? Yep.

Back in 1990, Jesse Helms famously skewered challenger Harvey Gantt in the infamous "White Hands" ad. That ad is now the classic example of an egregious racist ad, and is largely credited with helping Helms win.

Enter incumbent Senator Elizabeth Dole, who's not nearly so lucky this year. The economy sucks, much of NC's industries have been shipped off thanks to trade policies, more folks are moving to NC all the time, Dole barely spends time in NC anyway, and Barack Obama could pull off a major upset there on Tuesday. Dole has been trailing her challenger, state senator Kay Hagan, for months. Dole's strategy to gain a last-minute edge? She went straight to the tried-and-true NC playbook with an unfair attack ad. (From Hagan's website: "Somewhere, Jesse Helms is laughing and clapping in glee.")

Watch the new standard-bearer for NC attack ads, "Godless," and a skewering courtesy of CNN's Campbell Brown:

Hagan fought back with a direct repudiation of Dole's claims in a new ad of her own, demanded that Dole remove "Godless," and filed a defamation suit. Dole has refused to budge on "Godless," even as the largest newspapers in NC have both condemned it in editorials. The Charlotte Observer wrote, "It has no place in N.C. politics. Unless she admits this egregious, shameful mistake and acts appropriately, Elizabeth Dole has no place in N.C. politics, either."

Right now, Hagan's up by 2-6 points in the latest polls. Obama's in a nail-biter - the poll average is just +2.6. Over 1/3 of all registered voters have already voted early. There are 15 electoral votes at stake.

Time (tick tock tick tock tick tock, running out) will tell.

All together now, one more time...

Maggie chants:

"Google, we love you!!!"

Again, and again, and again.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Maggie says:
I must confess, I am absolutely incapable of coherent writing right now, as this blog currently attests. My brain is so full of what's about to happen that it's consuming me. Nothing productive is happening in that head space, and certainly not at this work desk, either. So while I'm pretending to do real work and tapping my feet for November 4 (and getting back to Albuquerque!!!), here are the other random things going on:

  • Bethany included me in her fun "Know Your Blogger" series... thanks, Bethany! You all know Bethany from her brilliant participation in our debate live-blogs this fall. We love Bethany.

  • My Halloween costume. Enough said.

  • For a kind of non-TV girl, I'm really loving quality television right now. The second season of Mad Men just wrapped, and I'm hooked. I'm also obsessed with True Blood and its Alan Ball-esque take on the politics of a vampire society, plus the bigger dramas happening between everyday people. Finally, the third season of Dexter continues to feel new, as it digs down into the violence of humanity that we inflict every day, either by design or just by being who we are.

  • I'm afraid my Rachel Maddow crush is a cliche now that everyone loves Rachel Maddow. But you know what? I don't care. I want everyone to love this dorky, cheerful policy wonk like I do!

  • I could not stop laughing at clips of McCain's rally yesterday where he thought Joe the Plumber was in the crowd and kept calling out for him... awkward. Also: I think Palin's voice now activates something painful in my brain. She must be muted.

  • Speaking of: I know three Halloween Sarah Palins!

  • M&M: Will you guys take photos of the Forrester madness tonight and share?! It's my favorite Halloween tradition ever!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

WooHoo, Comments are Back!

...because we just know you all were going to go all out commenting yesterday when you were denied. :-)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Change is coming

marjorie says...

Let's give the bickering a rest and go read Heath's column today. It's a fabulous read on non-partisanship and the importance of young people and the grassroots to social change.

Here's an excerpt:

Most Americans want us to reach the same goals, such as reducing the number of abortions and increasing the number of people with health care. We just disagree about how to get there. We’re all trying to find our way through this life with different perspectives based on our unique experiences. We’re all human, which means we’re capable of both horrible mistakes and great deeds. We all deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. When we sit down at the same table and honestly try to resolve our differences, we are capable of great accomplishments.

Change comes from the bottom up

Beginning with the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the last several years have already led to dramatic changes in America. We’re shifting from a focus on building institutions of great power -- whether they be megachurches, political organizations or huge corporations -- to building relationships, which are the true foundation of any effort to solve the world’s problems.

Comments sick today :-)

Apparently Haloscan is mad at us, because we can't get our comments to show up today. Sorry, folks! Back up as soon as we're forgiven, apparently.

Obama odds and ends

Maggie says:
I'm not very wordy today - I'm anxious and we're getting close. And... breaking!... I decided to spend Election Day in New Mexico working for Martin and Obama there. As exciting as Texas' returns will be compared to Election Nights past, I had to get outta Dodge for this one. So I'll see many of you around town getting out the vote!

I was so struck by the photo of Obama on the cover of the NY Times this morning. Here's a similar one from the Guardian.

Campaigning in the rain

Chester, PA

On a random note, watching Recount a week before the election is bad for Democratic nerves. Man, did that movie take me back. I'd forgotten so many of the details surrounding Florida in 2000. Watch with caution until Florida, Ohio, New Mexico, and others have turned in their results with confidence next week.

But... Staying strong! Feeling optimistic!

So optimistic, in fact, that I'm also spending the morning perusing the fashion choices of Michelle Obama, who is as accessible fashion-wise as potential First Ladies can be. In other words, when the national party isn't spending a fortune to give you a makeover and you have to buy your own clothes, you head to J. Crew. Just like some of us do. :-)

See Mrs. O for the lowdown on what Michelle is wearing and where to get it.

Also, frequent m-pyre commenter MaryBeth is standing outside in downtown Raleigh right now amidst thousands for the Obama rally there. She'll have a full report and pictures soon!

Loving being from NC this year. Let's bring it home for Obama, Tarheels! That's 15 electoral votes!

Monday, October 27, 2008's the Fist Bump indoctrination! grab your kids & run!

marjorie says...

Oh, but wait. Is that the Wall Street Journal he's holding?

whew! I was getting a little worried there for a minute (she says with a slightly shaky voice).

(many thx you guys, for sending your tips my way)

McCain's Rejected Robo-Call Scripts

Maggie points to:

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha............

A study in contrasts

Maggie says:
I couldn't help but marvel at two items I saw online at the same time this afternoon. They are not related in any way, but seem to me to represent the spectrum of politics we're facing right now. Out of one paradigm and into the other...

  1. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) guilty on seven counts. An 84-year-old legend in Alaska finds out that times have changed. Speaking of...

  2. Take your Election Day off and volunteer for Obama! The campaign's organization just continues to blow me away. All the practices local campaigns and initiatives have perfected for years and years, applied effectively to the national level?! Never would've thought it possible, not to this level of effectiveness, anyway. And wait: you're not actually going to your (non-political) job on Election Day, are you? Barring a really great excuse, I hope no one reading this is sitting behind their desk in eight days.

What is un-American?

marjorie says...

Jim Scarantino is calling Obama supporters "un-American." Here is the reply I gave to his commentary about the large Obama rally over the weekend, which you might want to read for context.

Come on, Jim. First, the marketing of Che's image is as American as you can get, as is wearing t-shirts emblazoned with our mottos, beliefs, and, not least, our mockeries. Your own column in the Alibi about the presidential gear on sale (which was quite amusing) gets at this. Beyond that, having large crowds show up at rally's conducted by charismatic and compelling leaders is actually as American as Apple Pie. Just go back in time and look at our history. If anything, Obama has cut through the marketing B.S. and appealed to the public on that level, which in this era of hyper-managed political campaigns isn't an easy thing to do. What's sad--in actuality--is that we don't have more leaders who are able to spur such political engagement. On any side.

But all this aside, it's disturbing to me that you're now taking up the "un-American" charge. You are seriously implying that all those people who showed up at the rally are un-American. Jeez. I guess I could seriously engage on this...I'd start by asking you who gets to decide what's "American" versus "un-American." And does calling large segments of the American public "un-American" qualify as an "American" thing to do?

Morning freakout

Maggie says:
I confess, while getting ready for work this morning, I actually startled a little bit when NPR said "next week's election."

Next week. NEXT WEEK!


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Political breather

Pausing from politics to celebrate this brilliant SNL skit. Any fellow Mad Men fanatics out there?

"Don Draper's Guide to Picking Up Women"

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Presidential Dance-Off

marjorie says...

It's hard to beat Opie and the Fonz, but let's give this one a shot.

...and check out the last bit in light of the Kathleen Parker column Gene pointed us to.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Nice guys for Obama

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

D'oh! Out-foxed by self-mutilator!

Maggie says:
Well, how 'bout this? Ashley Todd, the exceedingly dumb McCain volunteer (and Texas native!), finally admitted that she beat herself up, rather than falling victim to an angry black Obama supporter. (In case her applied-in-a-mirror backwards 'B' hadn't already tipped you off).

For smirks, get a load of this Fox News blog, posted before Todd admitted the truth: "If the incident turns out to be a hoax, Senator McCain’s quest for the presidency is over, forever linked to race-baiting."


Three for Friday

Maggie points to:

  1. Marc Ambinder, taking on Palin's ambition: "There's a suspicion in some McCain loyalist precincts that Gov. Sarah Palin is beginning to play the Republican base against John McCain... Think ahead to 2010...2011...2012... And if she wants the job, she's easily the frontrunner to become THE voice of the angry Right in the Wilderness."

  2. Vladimir Putin has an admirer... a gay Italian talk-show host! "When I saw his naked torso and a slain Siberian tiger lying at his feet, I almost had a stroke. Won-der-ful!" Believe it or not, I was inspired to find this link based on a conversation I had last night. But I'll never tell... :-)

  3. Sarah Palin and Dubya on SNL! Oh, how I miss Will Ferrell as W... This skit is an instant classic.

Greenspan: Oops! Turns out there is no invisible hand

marjorie says...

Just in case you all missed it, Alan Greenspan was grilled by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform yesterday.

From the New York Times:

“You had the authority to prevent irresponsible lending practices that led to the subprime mortgage crisis. You were advised to do so by many others,” said Representative Henry A. Waxman of California, chairman of the committee. “Do you feel that your ideology pushed you to make decisions that you wish you had not made?”

Mr. Greenspan conceded: “Yes, I’ve found a flaw. I don’t know how significant or permanent it is. But I’ve been very distressed by that fact.”

From the Wall Street Journal:
The 82-year-old Mr. Greenspan said he made "a mistake" in his hands-off regulatory philosophy, which many now blame in part for sparking the global economic troubles. He quoted something he had written in March: "Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholder's equity (myself especially) are in a state of shocked disbelief."

In other words, there is no Invisible Hand. I believe that would be the flaw he's speaking about.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Election sidenote

Maggie offers:
I was at a transit conference all day today, and lots of feds were there. It occurred to me at one point that many of the appointees will be out of a job in a month. Then it occurred to me that for the country and for transit, that's a very good thing. :-)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A.M. election notes

Maggie lists:

  1. I know, I know, I did a little Texas write-up but still haven't done the same for my home state of NC. I'm lazy, but also, I get started and then new polls come out showing even MORE Obama love, so I get sidetracked. Cannot be objective on this one! The latest NC polls waver from a tie to Obama +7. NC is the new Virginia. I LOVE IT. Senate candidate Kay Hagan is up by 1-7 points, too. More to come, I promise.

  2. So the national polls are looking great - an Obama spread of +1-+15 - and we're all thrilled, right? Nope. Politico: Democrats' gloom deepens. "The Democrats are poised on the brink of victory. And they cannot stand it. The news is too good. Something has to go wrong."

  3. Tough news cycle for Sarah Palin: RNC shells out $150K for Palin fashion and Alaska funded Palin kids' travel. Such a maverick, that one.

  4. My favorite Onion War for the Whitehouse headlines of late: "Grandmother tries desperately to have conversation with robocall" and "Southern sheriff pulls over Obama campaign bus for broken taillight"

  5. 13 days to go, folks. 13 DAYS!

  6. Thanks, Google. We love you.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

For the girls

Several years ago on a New Year's Eve in Boston, I was in the same bar as Amy Poehler and Will Arnett. At the time, Arnett had not yet unleashed Gob Bluth upon the world, and the two had not yet produced the seminal pairs figure skating mockery that is Stranz and Fairchild van Waldenberg. She was just the funny girl from "Saturday Night Live" with her cute husband in a bar.

I'm pretty sure I should've hugged her. Not because of the whole fame thing, but because she deserved thanks in advance for any future daughters I might one day have.

Last night I stumbled upon Poehler's latest project, "Smart Girls at the Party." It's so plain good that I got teary just watching it. Poehler is producing an online show for girls with the tagline "Celebrating girls who are changing the world by being themselves."

Poehler's conversations with girls on her show are so real and great - showcasing fantastic kids and what they think and what interests them - that it makes me less afraid to raise girls when kids' Halloween costumes look like stripper outfits, the national consciousness on gender is lopsided and strange, and tv shows featuring high-schoolers are horrifyingly adult. In a 2006 interview about the oversexualization of entertainment, Poehler said: "I get worried for young girls sometimes; I want them to feel that they can be sassy and full and weird and geeky and smart and independent, and not so withered and shriveled."

You know, I was one of those "sassy and full and weird and geeky and smart and independent" girls. So are my cousins. I see the girls that my friends have and I know it will be okay. But still, I think about my 16-month-old niece and how much life I want her to soak in, and how strong I want her to be, and I worry. But this trailer makes me feel a little better about it all. Or a lot.

Watch it here to feel better along with me. No really, GO WATCH.

Back to Basics punditry?

Maggie says:
I've spent longer than I care to admit getting routinely riled up by David Brooks. I finally came to the decision that I'd just refuse to read his column past the headline (this is primarily how I treat Maureen Dowd too, by the way). I'd get so annoyed listening to his NPR commentary opposite E.J. Dionne, who makes me smile, that I'd resort to blasts of a CD in between Dionne's observations. But something funny's in the air: either David Brooks has become more tolerable, or I've become more accepting. It's two weeks before the election, so I think we can all agree I'm not becoming nicer to Republicans. What if this election is a unifier in all the ways that 2000 and 2004 were huge dividers?

Disclaimer: I'm blocking out the McCain/Palin socialist/terrorist/scary-unamerican-who's-not-white rallies as I speculate, so you know... Let's stick with overpaid white men who speculate for a living, okay?

On "All Things Considered," which I can now listen to in full, Brooks has been conceding more to Dionne than ever. His talking points actually interest me. He confesses doubt. Doubt, this hateful condition that his party has spent years standing firm against, pounding their chests and spouting confidence at all costs. On air, Brooks has admitted that McCain's ads take political lying to a new level, that Palin was a terrifyingly inept choice for VP, and that McCain himself - a man Brooks has long admired in print - is simply not the same person as a presidential candidate that he was as a senator.

Brooks' disillusionment with the party he once so staunchly defended has never been more evident than after the first fiscal package vote: "It has been interesting to watch [House Republicans] on their single-minded mission to destroy the Republican Party. Not long ago, they led an anti-immigration crusade that drove away Hispanic support. Then, too, they listened to the loudest and angriest voices in their party, oblivious to the complicated anxieties that lurk in most American minds." See, he's palatable again.

Reading Brooks is now possible for me because he seems to be mourning what might have been an honest ideological exchange, a candid discussion of what the U.S.'s role in the world should have been, and what it could be next. He seems to realize all that has been lost in his corner of the world, and now he's calmly waiting for what's next, but doing so more fully than he seems to have done in the past. Brooks predicts an Obama win, and admits that he could be a great at his job. But he also predicts that Dems will overreach in their success and they'll be a political backlash. I can live with that kind of prediction because it's fair, and am happy to take part in that debate. The McCain/Palin rally predictions and debates are not ones I care to engage in. Brooks isn't scared of Republican defeat and what will happen next; in between his lines, I sometimes think he believes defeat will be good for them. Even he is laughing at the Rs now: "They still think the biggest threat comes from socialism and Walter Mondale liberalism. They seem not to have noticed how global capital flows have transformed our political economy."

A more reasonable and fair David Brooks means that I'm able to sample, to understand his position and take what I will through that lens. I can sift the gold from the dirt and appreciate, as I did today, this gem of a lede. So here's me, being kinder than before, appreciating how good a writer David Brooks can be. Enjoy.

Patio Man Revisited

Patio Man is surprised at how much the bankruptcy of Sharper Image has upset him. In the vast expanse of teenage clothing stores at the mall, Sharper Image at least offered him a moment of interest and delight. The store allowed him to indulge his curiosity in noise-canceling headphones, indoor putting greens and overly expensive toy cars. Now it seems that might all come to an end, and he will have to adjust to life without. He is adjusting to a lot of changes these days.

Brooks ends with this... when I read it I wondered if he's not speaking for himself here, too.

Democrats have done well in suburbia recently because they have run the kind of candidates who seem like the safer choice — socially moderate, pragmatic and fiscally hawkish. They, or any party, will run astray if they threaten the mood of chastened sobriety that has swept over the subdivisions.

Patio Man wants change. But this is no time for more risk or more debt. Debt in the future is no solution to the debt racked up in the past. This is a back-to-basics moment, a return to safety and the fundamentals.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Early Voting Has Begun!

Mikaela says:
County Clerk is reporting "larger than expected turnout" for early voting. Sound familiar?

Hard to believe this election is over for some diligent voters!

Thanks to "Eli" for putting together this Google Map of early voting locations:

View Larger Map

Clerk's Office Annex Downtown:

  • Monday – Friday (thru Oct. 31): 8:00am – 5:00pm
  • Saturday (November 1 only): 10:00am – 6:00pm
All Other Locations
  • Saturday (now thru Nov. 1): 10:00am – 6:00pm
  • Tuesday – Friday (thru Oct. 31): 12:00pm – 8:00pm

Why did Bush the chicken cross the road?

Mikaela reposts:

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Shout Out to the Yamboree!

Mikaela says:

Shamelessly watch the festivities as an armchair traveler here through m-pyre's favorite YamCam.

And say hello to Ms. Yam Queen-elect 2008. Whoa!

And say tootles to the outgoing richest Gilmore Girl in all her queenly (oh-so-pink!) glory...

What other beauties of East Texas small town will the Yam Fest celebrate? Stay tuned for tales from the fair as Marj heads home for this annual treat.

Joe the Plumber a McCain guy

Maggie says:
So, the whole "undecided Ohio voter Joe the Plumber" thing? Not so much what it seems.

Joe The Plumber Admits He Wasn't Undecided After All

A bit interesting that the business he wants to buy qualifies him at the exact level it takes to become a McCain talking point, you know? Plus, he just admitted to Katie Couric that he knew who he was supporting anyway.

I don't have a ton of patience for DailyKos. Too often it's hyping up the hysterics with minor details rather than really talking policy. (I admit that my aversion to it is primarily work-related, because an often hysterical coworker is trolling it pretty much every time I walk into his office, and too often walks into mine ranting about something in a shrill tone.)

I like this piece, though. While everyone foams at the mouth to book Joe on morning talk shows, Politico dug into who he was, and this Kos diary piece connected some of the dots. Clearly McCain thought he'd be able to play a debate-winning card there.

Make no mistake, the Joe the Plumber debate story is still a minor issue. But as a sidenote to an interesting sidenote, I'll take it.

I've just loved reading the debate punditry this morning, btw. A sampling.

caught with his hand in our cookie jar

marjorie says...

Before checking out for a few days to forget about politics, work, and blogging (yam-time is upon me), let me reflect on the downfall of Manny Aragon.

Being a Johnette come lately to New Mexico, I don't have a deep historical memory of Manny Aragon, so I doubt I'm feeling this moment with the same depth that many are. Nonetheless, I get it.

I've heard the stories about Aragon. Some people literally hate him. Others love him, because he's truly done some great things for people. He really has.

Sometimes when I look at some "great" people, I feel that I can see the corruption like an aura around them. It just kind of strikes me. Regardless of what they've done, or how much I like them, I figure...yeah, I bet they've got their hand in our cookie jar.

Too bad the ABQ Journal doesn't let you embed their videos. I'd love to replay the one on their website here for you all. Rather than reflect on how it's the first day of the rest of his life, I think Aragon should have apologized to the public.

There's no glee or joy happening over here. I agree it's a sad day, but for all of us more than him. I would have preferred to believe he really was what he said...innocent.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Oh, it's ON: The final debate

I for one am relieved that tonight is the final debate. I'll miss talking with you all for a few hours every week, but really, can't we just lock this up and make history already?

Part of me thinks tonight will be fiery, since Obama/Biden have been baiting McCain to bring up Ayers or Wright face-to-face for a week now. Plus, there's that whole "I'm going to kick his you know what" promise that McCain (embarrassingly) made the other day. Part of me thinks this is going to be a boring sit down of contrasting details from each candidate's economics plan.

But all of me - all of me - thinks that this will be it. The beginning of the end.

So let's have it, candidates. We're waiting to see what you've got.


Pay attention, pumpkin-carvers!

Maggie loves:

Yes We Carve.

From the intimidating:

To the totally doable:

See yours on Halloween!

America to McCain: Abandon Rovian Dirty Campaign Tactics

Mikaela says:
Race baiting, hate-inciting or no, the referendum comes back from Americans in a new poll, saying:

Give it up; clean it up, McCain: It ain't working!

From Rolling Stone, via White House Watch, this little gem of a quote about Rove's enduring legacy of dirty campaign tricks, embraced by McCain (who knows better than most how they can be used to good effect):

Matt Taibbi writes about Rove in Rolling Stone: "His rise from the ashes is the scariest story of an already scary campaign season. Presidents come and go; they sit in a place where the law can still touch them, and they're subject to the vote once every four years. But Karl Rove is a revolutionary, a man who can't be stopped by anything except death and maybe -- maybe -- prison.

Rove is trying to finish the work of Nixon and Bush: to achieve the supremacy of a peculiarly American form of Leninism, one that involves the drowning of the electoral process in idiot witch hunts and dirty tricks, the handing over of all policy to anyone with a dollar more than the next guy, and the total aggrandizement of incumbent power at the expense of an entire system of checks and balances.

With Rove back in the mix, there's now a hell of a lot more at stake this November ... Not to sound too alarmist, but Election Day now becomes a referendum on democracy itself."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Bright Side of Alternative Perspectives

Mikaela says:
Trying to look at the bright side of things over here. As a recipient of what might be the last VA loan given out for a while, my husband and I are trying on our own to turn around the American economy with our 1950s-style purchases -- refrigerator, stove, washer/dryer, $500 in Target crap, uncalculated hundreds more at Lowe's for nails and cabinet organizers and ... more crap. The world's on fire, you say? No sweat. We've got Arm & Hammer pet carpet deodorizer! That should protect us from the worst flames...

It's really not as bad as all that. We've purchased a tiny little adobe house -- energy-efficient, just big enough, totally affordable (here's hoping), close to public transit. The washer/dryer is a combo unit that uses 1/3 of the water and electricity of other units. The fridge is a top performer, energy-star rated, blah blah blah.

Still. It's jarring to have personal circumstances so disjointed from the world crumbling around us.

I've been limiting most of my economic news and study lessons to resources from This American Life (of course!). They've done some stunning shows that have really shaped my education about all this craziness. They don't have "experts" or "journalists" or even "pundits" so much as really good questioners. As in: people who question the official story or explanation for some paradox-changing proposals. It's a whole different level of exploration than the necessarily hypocritical and therefore overly gentle perspective of the national media.

  1. The first was a show in May on the mortgage crisis. Great on-the-ground, personal stories from mortgage jockeys riding the roller coaster, benefiting and failing as the bubble rose and burst.
  2. The next was a segment on the SEC head's choice not to enforce regulations, which led to our current mess. That's a doozy.
  3. Then they did a show two weeks ago on the bailout plan before it was passed, which talked about the weakness of Paulson's original proposal to buy toxic assets that can't really be priced and a hidden strength buried in the language for stock injections, which we're seeing come to the fore now as a better idea.

The two main guys who did these shows are now doing a blog and daily podcasts, some in coordination with NPR, so you may have heard snippets. As always, I find these TAL regulars to be so ... accessible, so human-scale, so clear. They may have ulterior motives, but the overarching motive is to understand all this, using whatever information they can put together.

  • Alex Blumberg and Adam Davidson have a new daily podcast and blog applying that same explanatory power to each day's breaking news on the financial crisis -- Planet Money.

This American Life also recommends these resources:

  • A great episode of Fresh Air, in which Terry Gross interviews Michael Greenberger, a former director at the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. He gives a very helpful, lucid primer on the current financial picture.
  • A follow-up Terry did with Greenberger, just as good, when the government bailed out AIG in mid-September.

I so appreciate having these alternative resources to really understand all this stuff and hear alternative perspectives about what’s really a good idea and what’s … ideologically driven (and dangerous).

And to end with a little humorous shadenfreude, take a look at this cartoon featuring a certain Cuban leader looking at the sudden American embrace of nationalizing banks.

Adam Zyglis
The Buffalo News
Oct 10, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

Afternoon listening

Maggie recommends:

Banned By Bands: Tunes Off-Limits to Campaigns

Hilarious, infomercial-style.

Don't be resigned to racism

marjorie says...
Three more weeks. As with most Americans I figure, the economic news is weighing heavily on my mind when I consider the presidential race.
All I really want to do is study this situation, which seems decidedly non-partisan to me. Rather, it’s a failure of capitalism which is as non-partisan as you can get. If only I could focus. But I can’t.
Instead I’m thinking about race in America.
As in, Race.
I’m having a hard time with the gross racism that’s all of a sudden burst into the open during this presidential campaign. Call it the Palin-effect.

Sarah Palin said Barack Obama ” pals around with terrorists,” and further added that he’s “not like us” at a rally last week. That set off a round of Republican rallies that literally spewed racial hatred at Obama.
It’s been well-documented and picked over in the press, with Frank Rich summing the situation up in a New York Times Op-Ed:

At McCain-Palin rallies, the raucous and insistent cries of “Treason!” and “Terrorist!” and “Kill him!” and “Off with his head!” as well as the uninhibited slinging of racial epithets, are actually something new in a campaign that has seen almost every conceivable twist. …
…what has pumped up the Weimar-like rage at McCain-Palin rallies, is the violent escalation in rhetoric, especially (though not exclusively) by Palin. Obama “launched his political career in the living room of a domestic terrorist.” He is “palling around with terrorists” (note the plural noun). Obama is “not a man who sees America the way you and I see America.” Wielding a wildly out-of-context Obama quote, Palin slurs him as an enemy of American troops.
By the time McCain asks the crowd “Who is the real Barack Obama?” it’s no surprise that someone cries out “Terrorist!” The rhetorical conflation of Obama with terrorism is complete. It is stoked further by the repeated invocation of Obama’s middle name by surrogates introducing McCain and Palin at these rallies. This sleight of hand at once synchronizes with the poisonous Obama-is-a-Muslim e-mail blasts and shifts the brand of terrorism from Ayers’s Vietnam-era variety to the radical Islamic threats of today.
Like Rich, this turn of events strikes me as inflammatory and dangerous, awakening our worst nightmares based in an entirely ignoble and sad aspect of our nation’s history. One friend refuses to even speculate with me where it might lead, as though even speaking of it might make something horrific a reality. We speak of it only euphemistically.
The ripple effects of the Republican race-baiting are everywhere, even in the comment section at NMI.
As a writer, how am I supposed to respond to people who in their comments on my articles make it a point to reference Barack Obama’s middle name, Hussein, in their condemnation of him?

“That IS his middle name isn’t it?”
asked the commenter in parenthesis.
Am I supposed to wade into the muck with that person and actually have what might pass as a discussion but is really an outright war of words bordering on a rhetorical violence exceeding any pretense of civility?
If I did, here’s one question I’d ask:
Since when did being an Arab make someone un-American? That is what you mean when you point out his middle name, isn’t it?
Then there are the quandaries we find ourselves in when we descend into these kinds of conversations. For instance, can I point out that Obama is a Christian without compromising my fairness to the Arab community? Doesn’t doing so imply that there is something wrong with being Arab? I think so. And I just did it—but I know it isn’t fair.
In such no-win conversations, knowing myself, it wouldn’t be long before I simply asked the person, “what freaking planet are you from?”
But then, I’d have to back up and acknowledge, oh yeah. You’re from my white America.
Sure, I’m assuming this particular commenter is white, but from the statements made it’s a bet with good odds. Not to mention, this latest phenomenon strikes me as very much a white thing.
I like to think that we’re better today than we used to be. By “we,” I’m referring to white Americans, no one else. And, yes, it’s a collective “we,” rather than an “us and them.” I’m right there in it, along with everybody else.
It saddens me to realize that I do have to descend into that muck of a conversation–even though I’d rather be talking about the economy–because it’s not good enough to simply write those comments off while thinking, “Well, that’s not me. I’m not like that.”
In his Times Op-Ed, Rich says McCain bears responsibility for the racialized hatred bubbling up. But I think the responsibility is more widespread than that.
It’s not good enough to simply point fingers at the people from whom those impulses bubble up at any given moment in our long history with racism. Don’t be resigned to the worst impulses in our community. Push back on them. And maybe in three weeks we really will see a new day in America.
Cross-posted at the NMI.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Grammar Snob Voter Offended

Maggie says:
Look. I know that some folks aren't big on the whole "grammar" thing, and not keen on spelling. Fine. But if you're running for office, I think you should operate at a higher standard than "some folks."

So I'm not going to name names here, and I will still vote for you because I really don't have any other choice, but please, PLEASE, can you fix the following on your website?

  • "As we approach this election, I offer District 32 an 'Experienced, Effective, Choice for Change.'"
  • "comunnities"
  • "A Veteran of Desert Shield and Attorney".

I'm sure there's more, I just couldn't bear to click anymore out of fear for what else I might find.

UPDATE: A lovely reader of this blog contacted the campaign and is copy-editing their website.

Hang on to your britches

marjorie says...

Good thing we have politics and the Onion right now.

I believe the U.S. government is about to buy into the banks. As in, become owners. I never thought I'd see the day that happened. But then, I never thought I'd see a lot of things that have happened over the past decade.

Krugman has an uncharacteristically dire column in the NYT: it's the moment of truth he says. The time to act is now.

Hang on to your britches.

Oh, and here's a primer for you: Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I will never stop loving The Onion

Maggie points to:


Debate Polling II, Plus a Peek Into my Obsessions

Maggie says:
Well it happened again: Obama scored significantly higher in national polls about his debate performance than we scored him. The CNN and CBS instant polling Tuesday night showed him "winning" the debate 54-30 and 39-27, respectively. Now additional polls confirm that first finding. According to the USA Today/Gallup poll, Obama won 56-23. Rasmussen has the Obama debate win at 45-28.

I'm pretty sure most of us thought the second debate was a draw at best, and that Obama did better the first time around. What gives? Are we really this cynical/hard to please/fearful/worried?

In other polling news... polling isn't something I spend much time writing about here, but rest assured, it's a fairly constant topic of conversation at my homestead. We can tell you the latest national polls, swing state polls, surges, strategies, etc., pretty much whenever you need them. So writing about them feels redundant, even though it isn't for the blog. But I admit to being fairly obsessed with swing state polling.

At any rate, my favorite go-to poll source is Real Clear Politics, where you can see averages and different polls stacked together for a variety of races. Get a load of this poll talk from Politico:

Four large states John McCain once seemed well-positioned to win — Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio and Florida — have in recent weeks shifted toward Obama. If Obama were to win those four states — a scenario that would represent a remarkable turn of events — he would likely surpass 350 electoral votes.

Under almost any feasible scenario, McCain cannot win the presidency if he loses any of those four states. And if Obama actually captured all four states, it would almost certainly signal a strong electoral tide that would likely sweep the Southwestern swing states — Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada — not to mention battlegrounds from New Hampshire to Iowa to Missouri.
Hold on, we need to see that again:
Under almost any feasible scenario, McCain cannot win the presidency if he loses any of those four states.
I'm not a gambler (unlike others), but I gotta say... those are some pretty tough odds.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Texas and the Election

Maggie says:
Although I have to disagree with my DailyKos-obsessed coworker who insists that Texas will deliver for Obama next month, I do believe the final Texas vote will be much closer than in recent elections.

I attended an Obama rally here in Dallas with 30,000 other folks last winter and saw the energy here for this election first-hand. Contrary to popular belief, Texas has a large number of Democrats who feel fairly neglected by the national party ("stop taking our money and spending it everywhere but here," etc.), a large number of folks in the middle, and a large number of folks who have never before been engaged in the political process (nice story here, courtesy of that Kos-rabid coworker) and plan to vote for the first time this year. This is not really as stark red a state as the rest of the country believes. Don't believe me? Consider these fantatsic women: Ann Richards, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Terrellita Maverick, and MARJORIE!

Texas is currently polling at about +9 McCain, a move that's causing its shade of red to lighten to pink on a couple of national electoral maps (many use a 10-point indicator to determine "strong" or "leaning;" others, CNN and MSNBC included, seem to need to see more of these single-digits spreads before they're willing to move Texas to a pinker category).

Some interesting factors to consider here:

  • Texas likes its own. The largest margin of victory in Texas in the last fifty years was a victory for the Democrats. In 1964, Senator Lyndon Johnson whooped Barry Goldwater by 27 points. In the last two elections, Governor George W. Bush has won by 23 and 21 points.
  • Texas likes third-party candidates. Third-party candidates do really well in Texas. In '92, Bush Sr. beat Clinton by just four points, while Ross Perot took home 22% of the vote. In '68, George Wallace received 19% of the vote, eeking out a razor-thin win by Hubert Humphrey over Richard Nixon. Cut to 2008, where Texan Ron Paul is still immensely popular post-primary. Despite only winning .06% of the vote when he ran as a Libertarian in '88, the strains of libertarianism here provoked by that primary run could certainly play out for Libertarian Bob Barr, which strategically, will play out as Obama votes.
  • When Texas elects a non-local Dem, it's by a hair. The last Democrat to take Texas was Jimmy Carter in 1976, who won by only 3 points. In '68, Humphrey won by just a point (see Wallace, above). And in 1960, Kennedy beat Nixon by just 2 points.
  • Senate's in play, too. There are lots of interesting local races going on, and a lot of campaigning by Republicans that mention incumbency but not their party registration. That's no accident; people are either pissed at the party, or gung-hoers no matter what. Keep an eye on the Senate race between John Cornyn and Rick Noriega. Noriega is a fantastic candidate for Texas - a centrist Dem with a military background (he's active in the National Guard) and an Hispanic surname. Noriega's currently polling seven points behind Cornyn. Given all the new voters and leaning-Dem folks who'll be voting in a month, how might this Senate race be impacted?
As with so many states this year, we really have no way to predict the final tally simply because the turnout of new voters is a mystery. Registering voters and turning out those voters are two different things, and never before will new voter turnout make such a difference across the country. Given the energy and excitement here, I'm hopefully for big numbers on Election Day. An Obama win? Not likely, in my opinion. But regardless, this year's a huge first step toward a new political game in Texas, and that's fantastic.

Next up: Looking home to NC!

Richard on Jezebel again

Maggie says:
So once again, my boy Richard did a piece that Jezebel picked up! Here's the big difference: unlike last time, he didn't completely outrage and offend them!

Check out the Jezebel link Revenge Porn: Hard to Prosecute, Harder on the Psyche, which links over to Details, where Richard delves into the deeper meaning behind guys putting sex tapes of their exes online.

Best part about being Richard's friend: When he calls me asking if I know anyone who might be a source for one of his story ideas. You guys should probably be grateful that you never fit the bill.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Obama/McCain: Debate 2

It's Round Two!

Talk amongst yourselves...

Monday, October 06, 2008

McCain-Obama Assets

Maggie reposts a pretty stark contrast between our presidential candidates:

Via Mollygood.

Bruce Springsteen on Barack Obama

Maggie reposts:
Bruce Springsteen's speech in Philadephia Saturday at a "Vote for Change" rally, before launching into an acoustic set.

"Hello Philly,

"I am glad to be here today for this voter registration drive and for Barack Obama, the next President of the United States.

"I've spent 35 years writing about America, its people, and the meaning of the American Promise. The Promise that was handed down to us, right here in this city from our founding fathers, with one instruction: Do your best to make these things real. Opportunity, equality, social and economic justice, a fair shake for all of our citizens, the American idea, as a positive influence, around the world for a more just and peaceful existence. These are the things that give our lives hope, shape, and meaning. They are the ties that bind us together and give us faith in our contract with one another.

"I've spent most of my creative life measuring the distance between that American promise and American reality. For many Americans, who are today losing their jobs, their homes, seeing their retirement funds disappear, who have no healthcare, or who have been abandoned in our inner cities. The distance between that promise and that reality has never been greater or more painful.

"I believe Senator Obama has taken the measure of that distance in his own life and in his work. I believe he understands, in his heart, the cost of that distance, in blood and suffering, in the lives of everyday Americans. I believe as president, he would work to restore that promise to so many of our fellow citizens who have justifiably lost faith in its meaning. After the disastrous administration of the past 8 years, we need someone to lead us in an American reclamation project. In my job, I travel the world, and occasionally play big stadiums, just like Senator Obama. I've continued to find, wherever I go, America remains a repository of people's hopes, possibilities, and desires, and that despite the terrible erosion to our standing around the world, accomplished by our recent administration, we remain, for many, a house of dreams. One thousand George Bushes and one thousand Dick Cheneys will never be able to tear that house down.

"They will, however, be leaving office, dropping the national tragedies of Katrina, Iraq, and our financial crisis in our laps. Our sacred house of dreams has been abused, looted, and left in a terrible state of disrepair. It needs care; it needs saving, it needs defending against those who would sell it down the river for power or a quick buck. It needs strong arms, hearts, and minds. It needs someone with Senator Obama's understanding, temperateness, deliberativeness, maturity, compassion, toughness, and faith, to help us rebuild our house once again. But most importantly, it needs us. You and me. To build that house with the generosity that is at the heart of the American spirit. A house that is truer and big enough to contain the hopes and dreams of all of our fellow citizens. That is where our future lies. We will rise or fall as a people by our ability to accomplish this task. Now I don't know about you, but I want that dream back, I want my America back, I want my country back.

"So now is the time to stand with Barack Obama and Joe Biden, roll up our sleeves, and come on up for the rising."

Friday, October 03, 2008

Calling a spade a spade

Mikaela says:
So sorry to have missed the online blow-by-blow session last night for the VP debate! I was listening to the debate while scouring a new house pre-move this weekend. Ugh.

Here's what's been bothering me in the last week in all the discussions of the economic crisis and the debate over the right response to it:

  • Where's the acknowledgment of racist lending practices that seemed to have surfaced and been accepted when the mortgage crisis was first in the news?
Does anyone else remember that? Banks weren't just predatory; individuals didn't just make bad choices, as Sarah Palin echoed last night. Banks were out-and-out racist in their lending practices, only offering minority families dangerous, high-interest loans. Because of the red-lining of many neighborhoods still affordable to minority homebuyers, if a minority family wanted to buy a home -- participate in the American dream -- they really didn't have a choice to just "buy a $100,000 home" that they actually could afford, as Palin so glibly chastised them last night.

It's not just Palin that talks this way but commentators, Congress, really everyone I've heard talk about the "trickle down" economic crisis that we're now in. It's as though we just can't bring ourselves to remember this little detail about our current pickle. It's real. It's systemic. It's about prejudice. It continues.

I feel that so much of the talk about solutions is so far beside the point because we refuse to address one of the key underlying problems. How much of that $700 billion bailout will go to retraining lenders and insurance companies to stop raising rates for families that aren't lilly white? Or rich? Or at the very least, creating provisions for accountability on that score?

These are the real questions; the rest is just beside-the-point sound and fury.

VPs shouldn't wink

Maggie points out the obvious.

Plus: The Sarah Palin Debate Flow Chart

Joe Biden: Maverick? Not John McCain

marjorie says...

Biden refused to let the notion that McCain is a maverick stand last night. As many of you know, John McCain as branded himself as the great maverick, and Palin is attempting to do the same. Here is what Biden has to say about that:

BIDEN: I'll be very brief. Can I respond to that?
Look, the maverick -- let's talk about the maverick John McCain
is. And, again, I love him. He's been a maverick on some issues, but
he has been no maverick on the things that matter to people's lives.

He voted four out of five times for George Bush's budget, which
put us a half a trillion dollars in debt this year and over $3
trillion in debt since he's got there.

He has not been a maverick in providing health care for people.

He has voted against -- he voted including another 3.6 million
children in coverage of the existing health care plan, when he voted
in the United States Senate.

He's not been a maverick when it comes to education. He has not
supported tax cuts and significant changes for people being able to
send their kids to college.

He's not been a maverick on the war. He's not been a maverick on
virtually anything that genuinely affects the things that people
really talk about around their kitchen table.

Can we send -- can we get Mom's MRI? Can we send Mary back to
school next semester? We can't -- we can't make it. How are we going
to heat the -- heat the house this winter?

He voted against even providing for what they call LIHEAP, for
assistance to people, with oil prices going through the roof in the

So maverick he is not on the important, critical issues that
affect people at that kitchen table.

Joe Biden: Past is Prologue

marjorie says...

Palin simply didn't like discussion of the Bush administration. She took Joe Biden to task for doing it, as though it isn't relevant. She spent an entire answer during the debate leading with this chastisement and then stringing together words. Then Biden nailed her: Past is Prologue.

BIDEN: Look, past is prologue, Gwen. The issue is, how
different is John McCain's policy going to be than George Bush's? I
haven't heard anything yet.

I haven't heard how his policy is going to be different on Iran
than George Bush's. I haven't heard how his policy is going to be
different with Israel than George Bush's. I haven't heard how his
policy in Afghanistan is going to be different than George Bush's. I
haven't heard how his policy in Pakistan is going to be different than
George Bush's.

It may be. But so far, it is the same as George Bush's. And you
know where that policy has taken us.

To Sarah Palin: polar bears need your support

marjorie says...

Sarah Palin won't come right out and say that climate change results from human activities. She says that we don't need to know the reasons--we just need to fix it. She then goes on to focus on man-made activities in her solutions. Palin has sued the federal government to stop the listing of the polar bear by the feds as endangered. This campaign puts her in a pickle. She doesn't want to admit that climate change is man-made, even when she knows it. She thinks to do so would limit the places in which Alaska can drill for oil and natural gas, which is where it's bread is buttered. And as governor of Alaska, she can spout her science-defying statements (just follow that link above), but as VP candidate she has to try, at least, to get real.

IFILL: Governor, I'm happy to talk to you in this next section
about energy issues. Let's talk about climate change. What is true
and what is false about what we have heard, read, discussed, debated
about the causes of climate change?

PALIN: Yes. Well, as the nation's only Arctic state and being
the governor of that state, Alaska feels and sees impacts of climate
change more so than any other state. And we know that it's real.
I'm not one to attribute every man -- activity of man to the
changes in the climate. There is something to be said also for man's
activities, but also for the cyclical temperature changes on our

But there are real changes going on in our climate. And I don't
want to argue about the causes.
What I want to argue about is, how
are we going to get there to positively affect the impacts?
We have got to clean up this planet. We have got to encourage
other nations also to come along with us with the impacts of climate
change, what we can do about that.

As governor, I was the first governor to form a climate change
sub-cabinet to start dealing with the impacts. We've got to reduce
John McCain is right there with an "all of the above"
approach to deal with climate change impacts.

We've got to become energy independent for that reason. Also as
we rely more and more on other countries that don't care as much about
the climate as we do, we're allowing them to produce and to emit and
even pollute more than America would ever stand for.

So even in dealing with climate change, it's all the more reason
that we have an "all of the above" approach, tapping into alternative
sources of energy and conserving fuel, conserving our petroleum
products and our hydrocarbons so that we can clean up this planet and
deal with climate change.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Biden & Palin re: Cheney

marjorie says...

Watch CBS Videos Online

ok, there is one thing I differ with Joe Biden about. can you guess what that is?

Palin-Biden: The Debate

To recap: John McCain sent shockwaves through his campaign - and adrenaline into his polls - by nominating Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. She delivered with an electrifying, polarizing speech at the Republican National Convention, and his campaign events were soon injected with the kind of rock-star atmosphere only Obama had enjoyed. Since then, Palin has delivered gaffe after gaffe in a series of interviews, has come across as completely unqualified for the position she is asking voters to place her in, has prompted several conservative commentators to ask that she step down, and is polling rougly 12-14 points lower in state polls taken since the RNC. Meanwhile, Obama has never polled better, and swing state after swing state are turning in his favor as voters becomes disenchanted with McCain and Palin.

Tonight, Sarah Palin debates Joe Biden, and American expectations have never been lower. Some of us expect to be embarrassed for her, some of us expect this to be the end of the Republicans' chances once and for all, and some of us expect Palin to pull through with some of that original spark that so attracted voters in the first place.

What will happen? Just hours from now, it'll be history. So we're sitting here on the verge of the most anticipated vice presidential debate ever. I'm so glad we can do this one together.


Maggie says:
Ugh, I'm so anxious, I can't stand it! I've forgotten about ten things today and have been busying myself with mundane database work and fun photoshop work to avoid having to write. I'm just... waiting. I actually left work to go grocery shopping in an attempt to settle my nerves. Speaking of, remember how much fun I had cooking theme dinners during the Democratic primary? Check out "Veep Debate-Viewing Vittles" if you're in need of dinner ideas tonight. It's a pretty Alaska-heavy collection, but I heartily second the Dogfish Ale (a Delaware brewery) recommendation. In fact, I heartily recommend any and all forms of alcohol for tonight (Bethany is so on top of these Palin drinking games).

We're doing a standard pork tenderloin, creamed spinach, roasted potato night at our place. I'm not at all surprised that I forgot about making a theme dinner. At this rate, I'll be lucky to keep anything down.

Just get this debate started already!

Who's being creative with their debate plans tonight?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Palin on feminism, social issues, global warming and evolution

marjorie says...

I was most interested in the section of Katie Couric's interview with Palin that dealt with feminism, abortion, global warming, evolution and homosexuality.

Here is the interview in its entirety, with the main points I drew from it below.

Here are the main points on these topics, from this interview:

Feminism--Palin says she's a feminist, and that women today have every opportunity that a man has. This implies that she thinks equality between women and men has been achieved.

World view/News sources--Palin couldn't, or wouldn't, give a specific source for where she primarily gets her news.

Global warming--She acknowledged that some of it may be man-made, but wouldn't blame it all on man's activities. She says it doesn't matter what caused it, "the point is that it's real, we need to do something about it." There wasn't a follow-up question about how one can know how to fix something if they don't know what caused it.

Abortion--Palin repeatedly used the word "choose" in this segment of the Couric interview. She affirmed that she is anti-abortion, that she wants people to "choose life." She wouldn't say she thought it should be illegal, saying she would counsel women to "choose life." Then she went on to say this: "If you're asking though, kind of foundationally here, should anybody end up in jail, for having had an abortion, absolutely not, that's nothing that I would ever support." She went on to say that she believes that life starts at conception, and that she'd "like to see fewer and fewer abortions in this world" in response to a question about the morning after pill. When pressed on whether she would condemn the morning after pill, she would only say she wouldn't choose it personally.

Unfortunately, this interview was brief so it did not get into the complexities of the abortion debate--the fact that women will have them, legal or not, or available in an actual clinic or not, so how would Palin address the medical problems inherent in that? Additionally, the interview didn't press Palin on what kind of support should be offered to pregnant women by society. For instance, would she support government sponsored child care?

Evolution--Palin said she sees the hand of God in the creation of earth, but that this isn't something that should be taught in science class. Evolution is science that should be taught in science class, she said.

Homosexuality--Palin repeatedly referred to homosexuality as a choice, saying she would not judge people for their choices. As an example, she referenced her best friend who is gay, saying she would not make the choice her friend had made but didn't judge her.

What to say?

Maggie says:
You know, I'm having a little bit of an m-pyre blockage right now. Lots of fun personal stuff going on, and politically, I feel like we're all in a waiting game for this financial bill and Thursday night's VP debate. I'm a big poll-watcher and have been loving what I see state to state and nationally, but I've gotta tell ya... when it comes to politics, my brain's on freeze until tomorrow night. (Plus, playoff baseball starts tonight!)

How are your brains doing?

Bonus bit: My favorite Palin gaffe of the week (so far!): Not being able to name any reading material