October 2, 2008

Biden Palin Debate - LiveBlog

Let the madness begin. How will Palin embarrass herself, her campaign, her party, and her country tonight? Let us count the ways.

Seriously, Biden needs to just sit back, answer his questions succinctly, and let Palin talk. If he does that, he will win. But what the R's are praying for is for him to lay into her (i.e. he is picking on the poor little hockey mom), or for him to be overly-respectful (i.e. patronizing the powerful and respected Governor of Alaska. They'll bitch either way. Biden doesn't need to beat Palin, he just needs to stay out of the way while she beats herself.

Edit: Palin sounds good. Doesn't sound smart, but she's speaking English, so its a start.

Edit: HAHA! Holy shit, did she just say that she may not answer the questions the moderator asks? Awesome. Nice burn by Biden, calling her on the bogus charge that Obama voted all those times to raise taxes.

Edit: She's just like McCain, smiles at the wrong times.

Edit: Oh damn! "the ultimate bridge to nowhere." Well said.

Edit: Oh my God, a plan to remove troops from Iraq is a "white flag of surrender"? Jesus....

Edit:This is intense. Good debate so far. Biden seems sure of himself and knows his stuff. Palin is cute, I guess. Still lacking some substance as I see it.

Edit: "Dog-gone-it Joe?" Are we electing fucking Howdy Doody to the VP office?

Edit: Jesus, these "beauty pageant" answers are freakin' killing me. Can she answer a damn question?

Edit: I dunno, Biden looked great, but Palin didn't piss herself either, so I'll reserve judgment for tomorrow.

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October 1, 2008

I Need to Stop Talking About Sarah Palin

But she makes it so easy. Does Palin even have a running mate? I've lost track.

Interesting article over at Culture11.com. A conservative argument for Sarah Palin excusing herself from the GOP ticket to save McCain's chances in November. Seems pretty compelling to me, but I'd also be dancing naked in the streets if the McPalin ticket imploded like that (The author, Conor Friedersdorf, is a HuffPo writer, so apply grains of salt as needed).

Then on the same site, some guy, Joe Conor, rebuts Conor's position, claiming that Sarah is only bad on television. Outside TV, she's got a great personality, and personalities, not issues, are what this election (supposedly) is all about.

Making judgments about Palin — or any candidate — based on how they come across on television seems to me to be irrational and dangerous.
Did this guy see those interviews? Sarah Palin isn't just bad on TV. John Kerry was bad on TV, so was Nixon. Sarah Palin is an atrocity, on TV and in person. She's a god damn journalism major who can't name a single newspaper or magazine she reads to keep up on the news; she shouts contradictory campaign positions in Philly sandwich shops; she lies her damn head off!
She has, however, revealed she has the character to make the right decision on such issues, even at great personal cost. This, in my view, is the core of leadership and the primary reason she is more qualified to be the chief executive than anyone on the Democratic ticket.
More of that gut-feeling decision making, W. style. That hero-worship of "instinctive" leaders and demonetization of intellectual prowess has done wonders for the country these last 8 years, hasn't it?

The folks at Redstate are feeling pretty down about this stuff lately.

Makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.

Yes, I'm sorry, I visit Redstate from time to time. I guess I like the pain. Teh stoopid, it hurtz.

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September 30, 2008

30 Real Issues in 30 Days

Brian Lehrer's radio show is taking on actual issues of the campaign for the next 30 days (actually today is day 7).  I've listened through the first week of it and someone should give this guy a broadcast medal, he is covering issues that matter in a fact-based forum with experts, historians, policy wonks, and real callers.

To cut through the play-by-play campaign noise and focus on a long view perspective this is a must listen.

The full listing, with streaming, is available here.

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The Palin Expectations

Ya'll seen this Palin chick? She's freakin' hilarious! I don't know who her writers are, but she is a comedic genius. That Borat guy better look out, there is a new kid on the block of awkward humor, and she looks like the big leagues. This whole PR stunt she's puling with the faux-VP bid is revolutionary. Obviously, no one really believes she wants to be the Vice President, but the publicity Palin and her comedy troupe have received is priceless. /snark

Seriously, Sarah Palin is a train wreck by any standard. Her anti-science, fiscally unsound policy and debilitating lack of experience should be enough to disqualify her for the 2nd highest office in the country. The woman wants Creationism taught on par with Evolution and actually tried to ban books from the Wasilla Library. Done. The argument is over at this point, she should not be VP. Period.

But oh no, Palin is the candidate that keeps on giving. Get comfortable. Pour a second cup of coffee and settle in.

She's packing major baggage in the "personal" area, such as the influence of "first dude" Todd Palin in her administration, her 17 year old daughter Bristol's pregnancy (not a problem at all in itself, but a poignant highlight of Palin's defunding Alaskan programs to help teenage mothers and emphasis on abstinence-only sex education), and the infamous "Troopergate" scandal. So this religious wacko who (allegedly) acknowledges the existence of witchcraft has been using her government office to wage personal vendettas against the former husband of a slighted family member. Again, done. The argument against her election is over, a second time. She should not be VP.

And friends, there is more. Apparently, Sarah Palin has a little problem with coherence and sentence structure. Her (few and meager) media interviews have been physically painful to watch. I seriously had to leave the room when I saw that poor Governor sputtering on about Russia and Canada sharing boarders with Alaska and Putin "rearing his head" over her state. During her interview with Couric, Palin's answer about the bailout bill will go down in history with that Miss Teen America contestant's response.

Notice the similarities? I did.

She has exhibited less-than-perfect message discipline as well, contradicting McCain's Pakistan policy when talking to voters. Then when called on it, McCain issues this doosy:

"I don't think most Americans think that that's a definitive policy statement made by Governor Palin,"
Come on guys, just because she said it, doesn't mean she meant it.

So this debate looks like its over before it began. On both substance and style, Palin looks dead in the water. Biden, a career vet of foreign policy and the intricacies of policy and government, ought to be able to pick her apart with relative ease at the VP debate on Oct. 2nd. The man is a hell of a speaker and an amazing personal story as well.

So on paper, this thing is over. Whatever happens with the top of the tickets, the VP question has been answered. Yet if my party affiliation has taught me anything, it is to never underestimate the Democrats ability to really knuckle down, do some hard work, and completely blow a "gimme" election. Or issue. Or vote. Democrats are pretty much the leading experts in the field of professional fuck-ups and are more than capable of adding this VP debate to the long list of pathetic foot shots in our history (for further reading, see 2004 Presidential Election, or even better, the FISA debate).

So we need to shut the hell up. Palin is a joke, we all know that. Even the Republicans know she's isn't even approaching "ready," as is evident by the Great Palin Media Blackout of 2008. She has been ridiculed into the ground. Tina Fey, of SNL, doesn't even change her dialogue when she mocks Palin. She doesn't need to. Palin mocks herself. The poor woman must cry herself to sleep at night, I know I would. But then, I don't have an army of handlers insulating me from the scary media, or any outside contact at all for that matter.

At this point, if Palin spells her name correctly on the debate sign-in sheet, she's going to be a freakin' all-star. The media and the public are going to expect her to tank in epic fashion; come on stage with her head shaved or with a plug of chewing tobacco in her lip or something. So now, if she shows up fully dressed and speaks passible English, this debate will be a "win" for the McCain/Palin ticket. She is already expected to make very little sense and play defense the whole 90 minutes, so when she does just that, the talking heads are going to be crowing about her "meeting expectations" and "holding her own." She is already being held to a lower standard for success than anyone else on this campaign trail, and it is only getting worse. We used to care about a candidates qualifications in this country. We ought to still. As citizens, we should be demanding well-qualified, educated, knowledgeable statesmen and women run this country, not just some lady who manages to make it through a debate without wetting herself.

There is enough to disqualify Palin to be the VP without running her mental capacities into the ground. All we are doing is making it easier for her to exceed those expectations. So lets be honest, Sarah Palin is dumb, vicious, and incompetent, but you don't become the governor of a state by being a complete waste of oxygen. She will eventually exhibit some ability during this campaign, and we should be asking if that paltry offering is enough. I'm sure there is some kind of mental process going on behind those glasses, but the issue should be the quality of that process, not that we are all "so impressed" that this infant-woman actually does possess a functioning mind.

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September 29, 2008

Best Perspective I've seen on the "Bailout"

I'm not the economic guru so I've been wading through a bunch of sensationalized reports about everything going in the tank and how Congress needs to step up now to save us. I've been very skeptical about the whole 'bailout' plan but realize something needs to get done.

Here is the most level-headed, non-partisan analysis I've seen about the finance meltdown with some good ideas about dealing with it.

So, really, a lot of it comes down to how well such a government fund is managed -- and right now that's a huge open question. If it's managed well, by folks who actually have the ability to get a pretty good read on the likely real value of these distressed assets -- then the splurge plan could work wonders. But how often do you see the government do anything right -- especially when it comes to managing money? So, while, in theory, I don't have a problem with the government entering the market as a buyer, you have to worry significantly about the fact that it's the government, and they're prone to screwing things up badly -- especially once politicians get involved. Once you have people trying to get elected on a regular basis messing around with the decision making, you know things are going to get bad fast.
Honestly I think we need this bailout, but in incremental steps and with an oversight committee who knows what they're doing.  I'm thinking an actual group of economists, and being in Chicago I've gotten some great input from some of the most awarded financial guys on the planet at the U of Chicago.  And here are Robert Shimer's (University of Chicago) thoughts in an email to Greg Mankiw (Harvard University).  The wheels have been churning lately at the U of Chicago's world renowned Department of Economics (and with 6 Nobel laureautes in the economic sciences currently on faculty you'd expect it) and the news has been diverse, interesting, and way over my head.  I wish I understood more, but all I know is that it's bad news for me once I get out of school, good thing I'll be in medical training for the next 15 years!

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