Undiplomatic Banner
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
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
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
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
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
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

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
08:45 pm

Evening Election Thread


I’d stick around, but now that Sunshine Sarah has finished speaking, I’m done.

Talk amongst yourselves.

| posted in media, politics | 0 Comments

18 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
07:45 pm

T-Shirt of the Day


From a new group made up of people with a certain name who don’t like one of their namesakes.  Really.

Visit the site to see pictures of people named McCain who are supporting Obama.  Here’s my favorite — Lauren McCain from Denver, Colorado:

Man, everybody wants to be Sarah Palin these days.  Even people who hate her policies.

| posted in politics, pop culture | 0 Comments

18 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
06:45 pm

Palin Riffs on Foreign Policy


Yesterday, someone actually got to ask Sarah Palin about foreign policy at a town meeting — specifically about her experience.  Here’s what Palin had to say.

I think because I am a Washington outsider that opponents are going to be looking for a whole lot of things that they can criticize and they can kind of beat the candidate here who chose me as his partner to kinda tear down the ticket. . . . But as for foreign policy you know I think I am prepared and I know that on Jan. 20 if we are so blessed as to be sworn into office as your president and vice-president, certainly we’ll be ready. I’ll be ready. I have that confidence. I have that readiness and if you want specifics with specific policy or countries go ahead. You can ask you can play stump the candidate if you want to. But we are ready to serve.

I didn’t think it could get worse than her responses on foreign policy during the Charlie Gibson interview.

I was wrong.

Oh, one other thing:  there are numerous reports that at a McCain rally in Iowa today, people started leaving after Palin spoke and while McCain was speaking.  Maybe they were from Spain.

I’ve said it before.  I’ll say it again.  It’s Sunshine Sarah’s party now.

Buddha help us.

| posted in foreign policy, politics | 0 Comments

18 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
04:14 pm

The Candidates and the Crisis


Noah Millman over at The American Scene, my favorite conservative site, summarizes what the four candidates have to say about the current financial meltdown:

Obama: We’re in this mess because the fundamentals are bad, and the fundamentals are bad because the Republicans have been ignoring ordinary working people and their needs. Most of what I think we should do is not particularly germane, and what is germane I don’t want to explain in too much detail because I’m worried I might get it wrong. I’m sticking to my platform.

McCain: We’re in this mess because a bunch of Wall Street hot shots got us into it, but they won’t dare to pull that stuff when I’m in the White House, because I survived five years in a POW camp. Do I look like the kind of guy who hangs around with a bunch of Wall Street sissies who buy their shirts at Thomas Pink? Not on your tintype girlie-girl.

Biden: I’ve been in the Senate forever, and I proposed a whole bunch of bills to deal with this problem – in fact, I’ve proposed bills to deal with just about any problem – but nobody will listen to me, particularly not John McCain. I hate it when people don’t listen to me.

Palin: I’m pretty sure John said he was against the bailout yesterday, but today he said he supported it. So I guess this is one of those times when you have to support something that you don’t basically feel good about because there’s no real alternative. That sounds about right.

Yes it does, Sunshine Sarah, yes it does.

If you’re not reading TAS, check it out.  If other conservatives were as consistently thoughtful (and often hilarious) as they are, progressives actually would have someone to debate.

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

18 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
10:45 am

My Fair Zapatero


Idea for a new Broadway musical:  My Fair Zapatero.  The Sarahnator could sing,

McCain in Spain falls mainly on his face

Heh.

| posted in foreign policy, politics, pop culture | 1 Comment

18 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
12:48 am

No One Expects. . .The Spanish Inquisition!


Eight years ago, a journalist asked Dubya if he knew who was the leader of Pakistan.  Bush flubbed it, and the journalist was widely criticized for playing “gotcha.”

Flash forward eight years and it’s John McCain’s turn — except this time it isn’t gotcha, it’s just a candidate who clearly doesn’t know what the hell the reporter is talking about.

Today, McCain did an interview with Union Radio (Cadena Seiz) a Spanish network.  I presume his handlers told him that by “Spanish radio,” he should understand that the interviewer was from Spain, and that he might, just might want to bone up a little on a few things — like the name of Spain’s prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. Apparently they didn’t and he didn’t.

Senator John McCain of ArizonaAccording to stories on the websites of El País and Union Radio, the reporter first asked McCain his thoughts on Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, and Raul Castro.  In each case, McCain made it clear that he would not sit down to meet with any of them, and went out of his way to note that Obama had promised to meet with Chavez.

Then the interviewer asks McCain whether he would meet with Zapatero.  From what I’ve been able to glean (given that I don’t speak Spanish), it was not an attempt to trip McCain up — the reporter merely wants to cover as much territory as possible in the brief time he has.

McCain replies, (and this is a very rough translation based on me running the stories through BabelFish), “I will meet with those leaders who are friendly and who want to work with us cooperatively.”

Uh oh.

José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Prime Minister o...The reporter asks again.  McCain says, “I will meet with those leaders who have the same principles and philosophy that we do:  human rights, democracy and liberty.  I will challenge those who do not [have them].”

The reporter asks a third time.  According to a commenter at Obsidian Wings, McCain starts talking about President Felipe Calderon of Mexico and praises him for cooperating with the United States in the war on drugs.

Finally, the interviewer interrupts McCain and says, “Okay, I’m talking about Europe, the prime minister of Spain.  Will you meet with him?”  McCain repeats his earlier statement about working with friends.

Holy Sarah Palin, Batman!  Can McCain see Spain from one of his homes?

One of the more interesting part of this fiasco is that the Spanish press is treating this as a straight story — that McCain dissed Zapatero repeatedly, refusing to commit to a meeting.  Here’s a rough translation of the lede of the El País story:

John McCain, the Republican candidate for the White House, refused on four separate occasions to commit to meet with the Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, if [McCain] becomes the next president of the United States.

I think I understand the mistake that the Spanish press is making here:  they’re assuming that McCain has any freaking clue about their country.  They assume that he couldn’t possibly be that stupid.

Here’s my suggestion to the next Spanish language interviewer who wants to ask about U.S.-Spanish relations:  don’t pronounce the prime minister’s name “Za-peh-tey-ro.”  That was your big mistake.

You’ll find that you get a much better answer if you just learn to pronounce it “Sah-kash-vee-lee.”  Next thing you know, McCain will suggest that we’re all Spaniards now and start threatening war with Portugal.

So what should we make of this?  Imagine if this had happened to Obama.  The media would talk about nothing else for a week:  the inexperienced candidate flubs a simple question. In McCain’s case, it’s not yet clear what will happen — except that his campaign will lie about what really happened.

Ultimately there are three possible answers:  he was tired; he was clueless; or he is stupid.  Let’s hope it was the first.

Hat tips:  TPM and Hilzoy at ObWi

| posted in foreign policy, media, politics | 0 Comments

17 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
11:23 pm

Evening Election Thread


State polls are all over the place, but the trend definitely appears to be heading in Obama’s direction.

| posted in politics | 0 Comments

17 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
10:30 pm

Thought of the Evening


A question.

If there was a significant sector of the U.S. economy that was bleeding red ink, doing serious damage to the savings of individual citizens preventing American businesses from being competitive, and genrally dragging things down, you’d want the government to take action, right?

Sure you would.

Okay, a second question, then.

If it’s okay for Republicans to prevent the banking and insurance industries from melting down, why is it socialism when Democrats urge similar action on health care?

Just asking.

| posted in politics | 0 Comments

17 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
09:45 pm

What He Said


Eric Martin over at Obsidian Wings does a great job of capturing just how dangerous McCain’s foreign policy is and how pragmatic Obama’s is.  Check it out.

| posted in foreign policy, politics | 0 Comments

  • Podcast Player

  • Podcast Feeds

    • View in iTunes
    • Any Podcatcher

  • Archive