Undiplomatic Banner
20 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
09:14 pm

Thought for the Day


The Bush Administration is now suggesting that the $700 billion price tag for bailing out Wall Street may be off because some of the assets purchased could be resold at a profit.

Just remember that this is the same gang of idiots and liars who  told us that the Iraq war would start paying for itself within a few weeks of the invasion.

| posted in foreign policy, globalization, politics, war & rumors of war | 0 Comments

20 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
05:55 pm

Racism and the Race


The progosphere is freaking out again, this time over an AP story suggesting that Obama’s edge in the race is hurt by as much as six points because of racism among the electorate.  Nate Silver over at 538 does a good job of unpacking the problems with the report — if you’re at all concerned about this issue, make sure you read it.

I’ll add six observations to his.  Unlike Nate, who bases his observations on strong empirical evidence, I’m going with my gut here.

1.  The article was co-authored by Ron Fournier, AP’s Washington bureau chief.  For those who are not aware of it, Fournier was offered a job with the McCain campaign in 2006.  A number of bloggers and media watchdog groups have recently suggested that he is in the tank for McCain, pointing to a number of articles, including one that suggested that Obama’s choice of Biden “show[ed] a lack of confidence” and another that accused Obama of being arrogant.

2.  Regardless of whether Silver is right and the “racism factor” is “only” 4 to 5 points or the AP-Yahoo poll is right in saying it is more like 6 points, I don’t think it’s going to be as significant factor as Fournier would have you believe.  Keep in mind that very few of those expressing their dislike of African-Americans would have voted for any Democrat.  So in reality, I think we’re probably talking 1 to 2 points, and probably only in a small number of states that matter — Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Virginia.  That’s not great news for Obama, but it’s it’s a lot less significant than Fournier suggests.

3.  The “racism factor” is largely offset by both the mobile phone factor (+2-3 points in Obama’s favor because most polls don’t take into account those who only use cell phones, who are mostly under-30s, who in turn are mostly Obama supporters) and the field organizing factor (+2-5 points, depending on the state, the capacity of the Obama team in that state, and the degree to which the McCain campaign has counter-organized).

4.  As this story races around the blogosphere, it might actually generate new support for Obama, from undecideds who don’t want people to think that they opposed Obama because they’re racist.  I don’t think this is a significant number, but every vote counts.

5.  On a related note, I think there are a large number of people out there who want to vote for Obama because they want to be part of history (Silver touches on this as well).  Although this tends mainly to be under-40s (for example, the people who loved Will.i.am’s “Yes We Can” video) that’s not entirely the case.  Both of my 88-year-old parents, for example, are voting for Obama.  Although race isn’t the only reason, it’s part of the reason (and for the record, they’re both Republicans — my mom so much so that she still thinks Nixon was framed).  Look for this to be a particular factor in Florida, where Republicans tend to be fiscally conservative, socially liberal, and distrustful of the Palin faction of the Republican Party.

6. Much has been made of Obama’s “Lehman bounce.”  But what if the past week’s polling numbers are not a bounce, but rather a post-convention self-correction?  The polls are currently right about where they were before the conventions started, and I’m not sure that the impact of this week’s financial events has truly sunk in with most Americans.  If I’m right, then Obama is going to grow even more over the next week.

My gut is that not only that Obama will win, but that he will win the popular vote by a significantly larger margin than the current polls reflect.  I was on the phone with my dad yesterday, and he had a similar opinion — he thinks that this is going to be a modern version of the 1936 Presidential election, when the Literary Digest poll, which had predicted the five previous winners, incorrectly forecast an Alf Landon landslide.

My dad thinks as we get closer to the election, more people are going to support Obama privately but not admit it publicly — in other words, a reverse Bradley effect.   I hope he’s right, but I’m not holding my breath.

In the end, I think Obama’s ground game is going to make the biggest difference — enough so that I think it will give him victories in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana, and perhaps Ohio.

So I’ll say again what I’ve said before:  calm the hell down and work even harder.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

| posted in media, politics, pop culture | 0 Comments

20 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
10:45 am

Open Thread


Going to spend some time with my wife and daughter today.  Lighter than usual blogging.  So get outside, look at a tree or something.

Or tawk amongst yourselves.

| posted in politics | 0 Comments

20 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
08:45 am

League of Photoshop: Talking Heads


The real face of the Republican ticket emerges at last:

Isn’t it Palin-McCain now?

Hat tip:  Firedoglake

| posted in politics, pop culture | 1 Comment

19 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
11:30 pm

Evening Political Open Thread


FEC, SEC, SmeshEC.  Whatever.  I’m cranky and old.  I’ll just fire all of ‘em.

| posted in politics | 1 Comment

19 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
10:03 pm

Evening Political Haikus: The Great Crash


Great Crash of 08
The dominoes are lined up
Who is next to fall?

;

Sovereign wealth funds
Do not like us anymore.
Goodbye investors
.

| posted in globalization, politics, pop culture | 0 Comments

19 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
06:38 pm

Don’t Forget. . .


If you live in Virginia, absentee voting starts today.  To find out more about whether you’re eligible, go here.

The Obama campaign has a website where you can find out whether you’re registered (and if not where to go to register), and whether you can vote early (and where to go on election day).

| posted in politics | 0 Comments

19 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
05:45 pm

The Decline of American Power, Iraq Edition, Part 356


This morning, The Washington Postdated confirms that yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad was the work of a group known as the Soldiers’ Brigade of Yemen, an affiliate of al Qaeda, using techniques that they may have learned while fighting in Iraq:

[T]he first vehicle exploded near a guard post. Cameras then recorded attackers taking positions nearby, until a second vehicle packed with explosives detonated near a sidewalk. . . . The use of two vehicle bombs — one to breach the perimeter of a compound, a second to drive inside and explode — is a tactic used by the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Matt Duss over at Think Progress demonstrates how this blows away yet another justification for the Iraq war — the “we’re fighting them over there so that we don’t have to fight them over here” idea, also known as the flypaper theory:

Those who have been following the Iraq debate might remember “flypaper theory,” which was one of the earliest exponents of the “incoherent post hoc justifications for the Iraq war” genre. The idea was that there was some limited number of terrorists in the Middle East, and the presence of an occupying U.S. army would lure them to Iraq, whereupon they could all be conveniently killed, presumably as soon as they stepped off the bus.

This plan was prevented from working only by the fact that it was staggeringly dumb. The U.S. occupation radicalized scores of young Muslims, many of whom traveled to Iraq, where they learned terror warfare and were galvanized in the global jihad. And now they’ve begun returning home, to share the tactics and technology developed in a laboratory we provided for them by invading Iraq.

Of course, that doesn’t even take into account the role of torture, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and other such obscenities in helping to radicalize Muslims as well.

To put it another way, the Bush Administration have spent  billions upon billions of dollars on the Iraq War, largely based on the bankrupt theory that we are building an island of democracy that will de-radicalize the Middle East.  In reality, we have made things far worse than they would have been had we never invaded, so much so that we have unthinkingly created another generation of terrorists, in the process weakening ourselves to such a degree that we may not be able to fight back the next time the come “over here.”

Imagine how bad things would be if Bush had taken a similar approach to the economy.

Oh.  Wait.

Never mind.

Hat tip:  Obsidian Wings

| posted in foreign policy, politics, war & rumors of war | 1 Comment

19 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
04:45 pm

The Hecklers


I’m sure you must have heard already that Obama was heckled during an appearance today in Coral Gables, Florida by a group known as “Blacks against Obama.”  At first I thought that this was another McCain dirty trick.  But it turns out that the group is completely independent of the McCain campaign.

The McCain campaign should be really, really, really happy that that is the case.  Because it turns out that these guys are seriously bats**t crazy.

“Southtotheleft” at the PrObama site, Over the Rockies for Obama, took the time to find out who was behind the protest.

Calling themselves “Blacks Against Obama,” they alleged that Obama has been endorsed by the KKK, and that “Jessie Jackson Hates Obama.” Their home-made signs had the words “Michael Warns” on the bottom, which links to the website www.michaelwarns.com.

The site is almost entirely devoid of content, except for listing an address somewhere in Miami and a link to the site, www.michaeldefeatssatan.com. The second link is a lot more fruitful in terms of content, despite sharing the similarly unfinished qualities of the first site. Almost all of the links are dead, and the content forms are still left from the template the site was designed on: “Page Title Here” and “A quote or missions statement about the firm here” litter the site.

Website design aside, It seems that Michael — or Michael The Black Man as he prefers to be called — is a charismatic preacher who leads a cult-like church that preaches to black men against the evils of women. . . .Michael seems to run a daily video sermon programme where he sings and talks about the ways to redeem “BLACK MEN,” which mostly seems to be by avoiding any contact of feelings for women.  In fact, the ailing of black men in the United States is placed entirely upon the shoulders of black women, child support, and the Democratic Party.

Here’s a screenshot of the front page for “Michael Defeats Satan”

Turns out the Oprah and Obama are conspiring to destroy “the black race.”  Who knew?  Man, you just can’t make this stuff up.

You also can watch this guy preach.  Here’s the opening of his most recent sermon:

If you are an Obama supporter, you’re going to be crushed. Because you think that n***** is the shepherd, but the Lord said he will smite the shepherd. So I’ve got to smite him.

No evidence that Michael has endorsed McCain.  He does associate “Republicans” with “good,” “positive,” “right,” “male,” and “God.”  But given that he hates women so pathologically, he’s probably not on the Palin bandwagon.

How much you want to bet that this is about Michael’s failure to pay child support?

I like what Southtotheleft has to say about all of this:

Frankly, this is nothing but good news for Obama. Why? One of the catchiest group names was just taken up by crazy people. . . . What could be better for McCain than Blacks Against Obama? If they were 50 percent less crazy, I’d be willing to bet their group leader would have been booked on Fox News tomorrow. . . . But no one is going to put Michael The Black Man on TV.

| posted in politics, pop culture | 2 Comments

19 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
03:45 pm

The Intellectual Bankruptcy of the Republicans, Part 1,834,416


I don’t care if this is tongue-in-cheek, it still demonstrates that conservatives are so intellectually bankrupt, that they have to borrow their memes from the Democrats..  Via Jonathan Martin:

Funny, but it does kinda sorta almost most definitely blow up that set of John McCain ads mocking Obama.

| posted in politics, pop culture | 0 Comments

19 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
02:45 pm

The Decline of American Power, Part 216


Not to go all Paul Kennedy on y’all, but I was struck by the last three paragraphs in a story in the Washington Postdated this morning:

Analysts said one of the biggest impacts of the crisis is to undo the long-held image of the United States as a fail-safe place to invest money. Hundreds of billions of investment dollars have poured into the United States in recent years, much of it from Asian economies where a powerful culture of individual savings contrasts with the earn-and-spend philosophy of the United States.

Many of those Asian investors were feeling burned by the failure of U.S. institutions once promoted as the safest of bets. Though Asian and Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds lavished rescue money on U.S. lenders earlier this year, those funds appeared to be showing increasing caution.

“The big risk for the United States is that people will begin to feel that we really don’t know what we’re doing and lose complete confidence in the Federal Reserve, the Treasury and the U.S. financial system,” said Edwin M. Truman, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute and a former Treasury assistant secretary. “That hasn’t happened yet, but it is a risk.”

Talk about burying your lede.  The big story isn’t that governments around the world are moving to “stanch panic,” as the Post headlines the story, but rather that other governments — and perhaps more importantly, investors — no longer view the United States as a “fail-safe place to invest money.”

Contrary The Post’s assessment that investors have yet to give up on the U.S., The International Herald-Tribune is reporting that Asian investors may already be losing faith in the United States:

Tremors from Wall Street are rattling Asian confidence, leading many investors to question the wisdom of being invested in the United States to the tune of trillions of dollars.

Asian investors were starting to show hesitation even before the financial earthquake of the last week. Now, a wariness toward the United States is setting in that is unprecedented in recent memory, reaching from central banks to industrial corporations, from hedge funds to the individuals who lined up here to withdraw money from the American International Group on Wednesday.

Asian savings have, in essence, bankrolled American spending for decades, and an Asian loss of confidence in American financial institutions and assets would have dire consequences for the U.S. government and American taxpayers.

Damn straight it would.

But individual Asian investors are not the only ones who have kept the good times rolling in the United States.  As you may or may not know, one of the biggest sources of capital flowing into the United States over the past few are sovereign wealth funds — state-owned investment funds created by governments when they have budgetary surpluses.  Think of them as a government’s rainy day fund, designed to help avoid boom and bust cycles.

Guess where may sovereign wealth funds have been investing?  In the American banking sector, including Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch.  As Inspector Clouseau once said in one of the Pink Panther movies, not anymore.

As the American investment banking industry seems to teeter, many investors are asking why the sovereign wealth funds from the Middle East have not stepped up.

Less than a year ago, the funds spent billions of dollars for minority stakes in Wall Street banks. As oil prices peaked near $145 a barrel this year, the Middle East sovereign wealth funds amassed even more cash. Still, even as the values of banks like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are swooning, Middle East funds are not biting.

The explanation is simple, bankers in the region say. Plenty of other, more attractive assets are out there right now. With markets having been hit by the global downturn, compelling, value-priced deals are numerous — from sports teams in Britain and publicly traded companies in Russia to deals closer to home, like Middle East infrastructure buys, Youssef Nasr, chief executive of HSBC Bank Middle East, said.

When investors decide that their money would be safer in a British soccer team than in an American bank, I think we can take that as a pretty good sign that we’re in serious trouble.

For far too many years, Americans have been able to sustain our lifestyles in large part because Middle Eastern and Asian investors saw it in their best interests to prop up the American economy.  They’ve bankrolled the consumer boom and the real estate bubble, blithely confident that investing in the United States was the safest possible bet.

Right now they’re feeling burned.  The big question is whether that’s a temporary phenomenon or a permanent shift.  If it’s the latter, and you’re wondering what the consequences for the U.S. economy will be, think Lehman Brothers on a national scale.

My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of penury.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

| posted in globalization, politics | 0 Comments

19 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
01:15 pm

Diplospeak Translator: Understatement of the Day


Time for a condensed version of the Diplospeak Translator!

President Bush during his Hooveresque press conference today:

There will be ample opportunity to debate the origins of this problem. Now is the time to solve it.

DIPLOSPEAK TRANSLATOR:  Oh man am I screwed.  As if Iraq wasn’t bad enough.  Now I’m being compared to a vacuum cleaner. At least Krauthammer still thinks I’m Truman.

Well in one sense he is — we haven’t had this much nationalization since Truman tried to take over the steel industry.

Wasn’t it Ross Perot who used to talk about a giant sucking sound?

More about this mess soon.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

| posted in globalization, politics | 0 Comments

19 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
11:47 am

BREAKING: I Agree with John McCain!!!


Today, John McCain called for the resignation of the Chairman of the Federal Elections Commission:

Much to my shock, I agree with Senator Grouchy McGrouchypants.  I also think FEC Chairman Donald McGahn should resign, largely because of the FEC’s recent failure to investigate your own skirting of federal campaign finance law.

But I’m pretty sure that you meant to say, the Chairman of the SEC — as in Securities and Exchange Commission — not the FEC.

I know, we all make mistakes, right?  And it’s been, oh, I don’t know, 24 hours since you made one — when you said you would fire Christopher Cox, the Chairman of the SEC, even thought a President doesn’t have the authority to fire heads of independent regulatory agencies.  And it’s been a full two days since you mistook Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero for Commandante Marcos of the Zapatista National Liberation Front.  So maybe we should cut you some slack.  After all, you did finally figure out that the FEC SEC chairman can’t be fired, so that’s somewhat of an improvement.

I have just one question for Senator McCain about this whole SEC chair firing/resignation thing:  if Christopher Cox does resign, doesn’t that mean that President Bush gets to appoint a new one?  And didn’t Bush pick Cox in the first place?  So won’t we be virtually guaranteed the same freaking problems we have now?

Actually I have a second question for him.   When the Senate confirmed Cox on July 29, 2005, it was by acclamation. In other words, unanimously.  That means both you and Barack Obama, if you were on the floor of the Senate at the time, supported him.  But Obama isn’t (yet) calling for Cox’s removal.

And as John Nichols over at the Nation notes,

Cox’s nomination to serve was considered by the Senate in the summer of 2005, at a time when McCain was positioned, as chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, to raise any concerns he might have had — and even to hold hearings — about the selection. As McCain, himself, bragged this week: “I understand the economy. I was chairman of the Commerce Committee that oversights every part of our economy.”

While that statement was a bit of a stretch, it is reasonable to suggest that the Commerce Committee chair could have identified an opening (perhaps through the committee’s responsibility for overseeing interstate commerce) to hold a hearing and raise concerns about Cox.

Instead, McCain made no complaint and ceded responsibility for reviewing the Cox nomination to the Banking Committee, which has primary responsibility for reviewing SEC nominations. The Banking Committee gave Cox a predictable free ride from the Wall Street-friendly Republicans and Democrats who pack the panel.

Does that mean that you were for Cox before you were against him?

Oh, and that makes me think of yet another question.  Wasn’t Cox rumored to be on your shortlist for VP?

I think Christopher Cox will make an excellent choice as McCain’s VP based on a lot of the information I gleaned from here and here. Some are going to tell me that the problem with Chris Cox is that he is not former Gov. Mitt Romney or current Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The argument that Romney can help McCain in Michigan and Pawlenty can help McCain in Minnesota. My purpose is not to make a case against a VP pick, and I do not have anything against them. I just think that there is a good case for a Minnesota born pro-life Chris Cox to be a help and not a hindrance as his VP.

So maybe you were for Christopher Cox before you were really for him before you were conveniently against him.

This isn’t flip-flopping.  It’s crass opportunism.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

| posted in globalization, politics | 1 Comment

19 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
09:45 am

A Morning Haiku for Sunshine Sarah


Palin-McCain, huh?
This woman is scaring me.
Must defeat them now.

I keep waiting for Angela Lansbury to pop up at some point.

| posted in politics, pop culture | 1 Comment

19 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
08:45 am

NSFW But Too Funny Not to Link


If you haven’t seen it yet, “Black Comic Introduces McCain” at the Republican National Convention is just unfreakingbelievably funny.

NSFW, though.  So go here.  Trust me, it is so worth it.

| posted in politics, pop culture | 1 Comment

19 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
07:45 am

I So Feel His Pain


Another gem from The Onion:

After receiving yet another unwanted e-mail from liberal political action group MoveOn.org Monday, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama deleted the message from his inbox without even glancing at its contents.  “Ugh, not these people again,” Obama was overheard to say as he placed the unread e-mail into the Gmail folder marked “Trash.” . . .

“It seems like every time I turn on my computer, another goddamn MoveOn.org e-mail pops up,” said Obama, noting that this is the third message from the progressive online organization he has deleted in the past week. “How many of these things am I going to get?”  “They already know I’m going to vote for Obama,” Obama added. “The only people who sign up for this thing are Democrats anyway. They’re just preaching to the choir.”

Obama reportedly joined the MoveOn.org mailing list while attending the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. Although he was initially intrigued by the idea of receiving newsletters and updates from a group of like-minded, politically active Americans, Obama said the nonstop deluge of e-mails has made him regret his decision.

“I usually get excited when I see that I have one unread message,” Obama said. “I think that maybe it’s something interesting or important, but then I see it’s another MoveOn e-mail and my heart just sinks. It’s like getting nothing.” . . .

Obama’s mail records confirm that, in April 2008, he replied to a MoveOn.org e-mail entitled “10 Things You Need to Know About John McCain” with the message “Shut up.” . . . “I know this election is important and everything,” Obama added. “But these people seriously need to relax.” . . .

“It’s irritating that these people think they’re doing everybody this great service just by clicking ’send’ a million times,” Obama said. “I’m trying to make the world a better place, but with all the time I’ve been spending deleting e-mails, it’s going to take me forever.”

Heh.

Time to move on, MoveOn.  Your act has become tiresome.

| posted in politics, pop culture | 0 Comments

19 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
06:45 am

Morning Buzz: He’ll Be Moosed


Via Blue Herald:

Heh.

Hat tip:  South Jerusalem

| posted in politics, pop culture | 0 Comments

18 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
11:55 pm

Joltin’ Joe


Another great point from the only VP candidate actually qualified to hold the job:

COURIC: Your vice presidential rival, Governor Palin, said “To the rest of America, that’s not patriotism.  Raising taxes is about killing jobs and hurting small businesses and making things worse.”

BIDEN:  How many small businessmen are making one million, four hundred thousand–average in the top 1 percent. Give me a break.

I remind my friend, John McCain, what he said–when Bush called for war and tax cuts–he said, it was immoral, immoral, to take a nation to war and not have anybody pay for it. I am so sick and tired of this phoniness.

The truth of the matter is that we are in trouble.  And the people who do not need a new tax cut should be willing, as patriotic Americans, to understand the way to get this economy back up on their feet is to give middle class taxpayers a break. We take the tax cut they’re getting and we give it to the middle class.

Pow! Bam! Zing!

| posted in foreign policy, politics, world at home | 0 Comments

18 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
11:50 pm

Spain Spain Spain Spain Spain Spain Spain Spain. . .


Lovely Spain, wonderful Spain!

This is the story that just keeps on giving.

So Josh Marshall and TPM have put together a nice little video summarizing McCain’s running of the bull on  Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

The transcription is particularly useful.  As a result, something new caught my eye:

REPORTER:  Okay what about Europe?  I’m talking about the President of Spain

McCAIN:  What about me, what?

When she asked “what about Europe,” he heard “what about you.”  That’s pretty clear from his response.  But Scheunemann keeps insisting that McCain knew what he was talking about, that he intended to dis Zapatero, and that he was reflecting the position of the campaign.

I’ve shoveled a lot of horse dookie in my day (I worked at a summer camp for four years — you do a lot of that), so I think I recognize a load of bull manure when I see it.  McCain clearly misheard or misunderstood the reporter.  He thought she was asking something about him, not Europe.  So there is no way in hell that his final answer was anything other than confused tap-dancing around a question he had completely misunderstood.

Just one question here:  when McCain makes a mistake in office, will his White House attempt similar stonewalling and denial?  Because if it does, it really will be Bush 44.

| posted in foreign policy, politics, pop culture | 0 Comments

18 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
10:44 pm

Velociraptor Pwns Moose Every Time


Sure, Sarah Palin can shoot a moose, but I bet she couldn’t top this:

I could survive for 1 minute, 22 seconds

Share your scores. . . .

Hat tip: Slog

| posted in globalization, politics, pop culture | 0 Comments

  • Podcast Player

  • Podcast Feeds

    • View in iTunes
    • Any Podcatcher

  • Archive