Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Conservative Masses

Who are those folks at the Palin and McCain rallies? Al-Jazeera has the story:

The Daily Show and Colbert have also reported on this stuff, but the traditional media have largely missed the story.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


KPd's blog has just returned from hibernation:
It turns out other people's blogs (i.e. my dad's) have these cool map counters that allow you to tell how many people are reading your posts and where these people are from. So when my dad said, "I got a hit from India!" it was not a drug reference. It was a reference to how much more technologically advanced he is then me. I have no idea how to set one of these up, so if you read my blog and you are from somewhere cool, please leave a comment detailing your cool location. Every once in a while, I will draw a map on a piece of paper with dots representing my readers. Then, using a digital camera, I will photograph this map and post it on Facebook which I learned how to do last month.

And now she owes me a link some time.


In The Nation, Daphne Brooks reviews the history of "Amy Winehouse and the (Black) Art of Appropriation".

The Obama-McCain Dance-Off

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

For those who want to be made overconfident

How good a guide are the final state-level presidential polls? In 2004, they were mostly fairly good predictors when averaged by state, though with a few exceptions.

TPM just posted a rundown of the close states in 2004 -- comparing what the average polling was (as calculated by Real Clear Politics) just before the elction to what the actual result was.

Those polls got the winner wrong in one state -- Wisconsin, where Bush was expected to win by .9% but actually lost by .4%.

There were a few states where the polls were several points off. Most notably, in Florida, Bush was predicted to win by 0.6% but actually won by 5.0%. Bush outperformed the polling in Missouri (3.0%), Nevada (3.7%) and West Virginia (4.4%). In all of the other battleground states, though, the final polls were within 2% of the actual election results.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

How do you serve God?

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- A judge has thrown out a Nebraska legislator's lawsuit against God, saying the Almighty wasn't properly served due to his unlisted home address.

See the full article.

I had missed this one. It turns out the guy who filed this is State Senator Ernie Chambers -- the one who led the (unsuccessful) bid to end the death penalty there. He was generally the liberal in a place where there weren't that many.

A lot of the other legislators there didn't like him, and this is his last term, thanks to term limits that he says were instituted to kick him out. While everyone else wore business suits, he wore a t-shirt.

Chambers argued that "Since God knows everything, God has notice of this lawsuit."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cautious Optimism

The newest poll in California on Proposition 8, which would ban gay marriage, shows 52% opposing it, 44% supporting and 4% undecided. But the polling on this has varied a bunch.

UPDATE: It seems it's a bit more complicated. There was a different poll, released the same day, with 'yes' having 48% and 'no' having 45%. Hmm. Nate Stell has the rundown on the polling on the matter; he does think the 'no' side has a better shot at winning.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Grim but expected development in Brad Will case

On Friday, Mexican federal prosecutors announced that they had found the two men responsible for the murder of Brad Will, and arrested them. Bradley Roland Will was the Indymedia journalist who was shot and killed two years ago in Oaxaca while videotaping the demonstrations there.

The problem is, the prosecutors are likely accusing the wrong men. The guys they arrested -- who have been the singular focus of their investigation for much of the time since -- are leftist organizers. Will's supporters say it was government-backed gunmen who shot him, and they have witnesses, and a wealth of evidence, to back them up. Which makes a whole lot more sense.

Mexico's National Human Rights Commission (a governmental body, but with some independence) criticized the prosecutors' focus on the two men, saying that shortcomings in the official investigation "made it impossible to develop a proper hypothesis and find out what really happened."

The Human Rights Commission didn't say that they could prove who had killed Will, but that the prosecutor's investigation was deeply flawed.

The broader picture is that the Will case is a unique and perilous situation for the Mexican government. The NYT points out that "Although Mr. Will was one of 18 people killed during the protests, the federal government has dropped the investigations into every case except his."

They need to put someone in jail for the murder. But if the government-supported gunmen were ever deemed responsible for murdering an unarmed American journalist, it would be a significant jolt to U.S.-Mexico relations.

So far this week, there have been no statements from the US Representatives or Senators representing Will's Williamsburg home or his childhood town outside Chicago (though several members, including Durbin, have previously spoken about the case).

Condoleezza Rice will be in Mexico this week; it will be interesting to see if she brings up anything.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Endorsement time

It's that time for newspapers to make their endorsements for the presidential race. Most do it in their Sunday editions (biggest readership) and post them online on Saturday. The good folks at Editor & Publisher track these things each year and so far this year quite a few papers that endorsed Bush in 2004 have now endorsed Obama. The big news this weekend: the Chicago Tribune, which has never endorsed a Dem for president, endorsed Obama, as did the LATimes, which has had a policy of not endorsing for more than 30 years. In the way of swing state newspapers, the Denver Post, which had endorsed Bush in 2004, moved to Obama.

E&P has the rundown

Now, do these endorsements actually a matter? That's unclear. It seems that there's at least some correlation, but it may or may not be causation.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The beginnings of fall color in DC

To see how far the foliage has advanced, check the twice-weekly updated maps at the Fall Foliage Network.

Hints of a mild rebuke to bigotry?

Throughout the presidential campaign, there has been relatively little mainstream questioning of the idea that if Obama was Muslim, and/or Arab, that that would be bad.

Emails saying that Obama is Muslim have been called "smears" (not just by the press; by the Obama campaign, too). As Steve Rendall of FAIR said on On The Media this week, "If a charge came out that a politician was a secret Jew, that story would be treated as a story about, first, a false charge, but also as a story about anti-Semitism."

It seems to me that the media considers the bigotry a "smear" in part because the Obama campaign considers it so. The Obama campaign has consistently taken the approach of saying "He's Christian" and not saying "but so what if he was Muslim?" It's a pretty disgusting strategy. I'm tempted to dismiss it on the notion that it'd be too dangerous to muddy the message, especially since the number of Americans who believe Obama is Muslim has gone up over the course of 2008. But in the end I think it's inexcusable because it is pandering to those voters out there who wouldn't be ok with the "so what if he was Muslim?" part. Those are the votes they want?

The issue came up most prominently again on Friday, when a woman at a McCain rally said that Obama is an Arab, and McCain said "No ma'am, no ma'am. He's a decent family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues. That's what this campaign is all about. He's not, thank you."

Hardly any of the traditional media noted that McCain had just contrasted "Arab" with "decent family man" as if they are two opposing categories. There was a little bit of questioning, though.

Wolf Blitzer said "He could have done one thing further; and told that woman, you know what, there's nothing wrong with being an Arab, there's not wrong with being a Muslim. You don't have to make it sound like being an Arab .. that that's some sort of evil description. Obviously that's not true." (see 2:25 in this video).

Campbell Brown, though seeming to not realize people can be Arabs and Christians at the same time, was pretty direct on Monday in challenging the media to not be complicit in anti-Muslim or anti-Arab bigotry.

The Detroit Free-Press ran an op-ed by Terry Awhal: "It seems everyone challenged McCain on the negative rhetoric he introduced against Obama, but no one challenged him or the woman on their comments insinuating that Arabs are not decent or not good Americans."

These are the exceptions, not the norm, but I still see it as a bit of hope that rebuking anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bigotry might be becoming ever so slightly more mainstream.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Scaring off the competition

"Mayor Plans an $80 Million Campaign" the NYT announces today, in regards to Bloomberg.

Hey, it's possible, and it's possible they'd even spend more than that. But this strikes me as the Times becoming a tool of the Bloomberg campaign in its efforts to scare off the competition.

I think it'd be one thing if the article were based on an on-the-record source, but it isn't.
"The people involved in the talks spoke anonymously because they did not want to be seen sharing details of internal strategy."

Ridiculous. This stuff shouldn't get ink if there's no one to be held accountable for it.


From Streetsblog, it's "If the Candidates Were Trains..."

What passes for news at NBC

Obama is in fact linked to the terrorists! aha! Or so NBC would have it. Gosh, someone in the McCain campaign or in the conservative blogosphere has gotten to them.

Guess what? This stuff on CAIR, Mahdi Bray, and Mazen Asbahi has been debunked already! A long time ago, in fact.

Particularly with the case of CAIR, I think this is where the "absence of evidence is evidence of absence" principal applies. So many people on the right wing have been working so hard, for years, to find a solid link between CAIR and terrorism. It says something that they haven't come up with anything.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

McCain's got health care for you!

Of all the awkwardly missing issues in this election, perhaps nothing tops the examination, or lack of examination, of McCain's health care plan.

Trudy Lieberman at CJR says that to the extent that it's been discussed, the focus has not been on the bigger picture: that the plan threatens to take apart employer-based health insurance as we know it.

And maybe the Obama campaign has failed to bring this up enough (though it's done better lately, including in last night's debate, and with a new ad). But regardless of what Obama says or doesn't, what we ought to have is an examination of what exactly McCain's program would lead to, and fitting that into the historical context of the movement to end employer-based health insurance.

There has been some coverage very recently -- most notably a useful Krugman piece on Monday. Ruth Marcus prefers Obama's plan but says McCain's isn't all that bad (see response by Ezra Klein).

One response to the lack of coverage is that McCain's proposal is irrelevant because it won't actually get passed by congress (which it wouldn't). In fact, Obama's proposal could be rather difficult given the current economic situation. And, you could say this about most domestic policy proposals, especially from the candidate who's party doesn't control congress.

But not examining the candidates proposals would be an absurd standard. We're always looking for "windows on how they would govern" or whatever, and their concrete proposals -- even ones that wouldn't come to reality -- are exactly that. McCain's health care plan shouldn't be off the table.

McCain giving up on Ayers?

It's too early to tell. But McCain didn't mention Bill Ayers last night, and his advisers quoted in the Politico today seem to imply that they are not going to be pushing it much further.

Update: Ok, maybe not.