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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.

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31 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
02:45 pm

Palin: The Core Contradiction

If you believe the cynics, John McCain chose Sarah Palin for two reasons:  1) to energize the right-wing base and 2) to entice some die-hard Hillary supporters to vote for him.

Setting aside, for the moment, the fact that those are largely contradictory motivations, you would have thought that the McCain campaign would have anticipated that Palin shouldn’t play the Hillary card to Republican audiences:

In just her second appearance on the campaign trail with John McCain, newly-minted GOP running mate Sarah Palin was showered with boos on Saturday for attempting to praise Clinton’s trail-blazing bid to become the first female president.

As she did at in her debut speech in Ohio yesterday, Palin appealed to the women in the crowd here in Pennsylvania with a political shout-out to Geraldine Ferraro, who preceded Palin as the first women [sic] to be tapped as a vice presidential candidate.

But in contrast with the mild reception that greeted her comments at the Ohio event, when Palin praised Clinton here for showing “determination and grace in her presidential campaign,” the Alaska governor was met with a noisy mix of boos, groans and grumbles around the minor league ballpark where the “Road to the Convention Rally” was held.

You have to wonder just how much the campaign thought this through before sending Palin out on a speaking tour of Republican strongholds.  The same people who love Palin’s pro-life, pro-gun, pro-creationism and anti-gay marriage props absolutely loathe Hillary.  In fact, they probably hate her more than anyone else currently active in American politics.

That said, Palin’s next few campaign appearances will tell us exactly whether her (and the McCain campaign’s) professed appreciation of Hillary is real.  If she ignores the catcalls and continues to tell Republican audiences that they should respect Hillary for what she’s done, then chances are her comments reflect her real feelings on the matter.  But if that talking point suddenly disappears from her stump speech, we’ll know that its inclusion was pure cynicism.

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30 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
07:30 pm

McCain-Palin: The Older Male Star and the Ingenue

John McCain has done what every male star in Hollywood does once he gets over fifty:  choose an beautiful, much younger woman to play opposite him in a blockbuster.

Hollywood has long cast older men opposite younger women.  Think (then-) 53-year-old Sean Connery opposite (then-) 29-year-old Kim Basinger in Never Say Never Again (1983), among numerous other examples.

So who’s the celebrity now, Senator?

To be clear, this is not a commentary on the qualifications of Palin, but rather an observation about the fecklessness of McCain.  His reasons for choosing Governor Palin are so cynical, so poll-driven, as to raise serious questions about his character.

Sarah Palin didn’t put herself on the ticket — John McCain did that.

Sarah Palin didn’t pass over far more qualified people to add some sizzle to the show — John McCain did that.

Sarah Palin didn’t pick someone she had met on only one occasion — John McCain did that.

Sarah Palin didn’t select someone who will be little more than window dressing in a McCain administration.  John McCain did that.

John McCain made the choice.  It is his character and his decisions on which we should focus.

Photos: L:  McCain for America.  R:  Filmography links and data courtesy of The Internet Movie Database.

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30 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
02:45 pm

Palin: The Polar Bears Respond

As you may have heard, Sarah Palin hates polar bears:

The entire world has seen animated holiday images of cute, cuddly, polar bears smiling and dancing — and pitching cold soft drinks on TV and movie screens.  That’s the closest most Americans will ever get to a polar bear. To steal a line from one of the commercials, it’s not “the real thing.” . . .

Listing the bears under the Endangered Species Act is the wrong move at this time. My decision is based on a comprehensive review by state wildlife officials of scientific information from a broad range of climate, ice and polar bear experts.  There is insufficient evidence that polar bears are in danger of becoming extinct within the foreseeable future — the trigger for protection under the ESA. And there is no evidence that polar bears are being mismanaged through existing international agreements and the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Isn’t that like hating America?

I decided to reach out to the polar bears to get their reaction.  Here it is:

To express their concerns and ensure that they are heard, the polar bears have formed a new organization:

Polarbears United to Mobilize Against Palin, (PUMAP)

Be careful Governor Palin, the bears are furious.  Hundreds have decided to support Barack Obama even if it hurts party unity.  Although voter registration among polar bears has started to spike, it is still not clear whether they can vote.  Then again, if you were a poll worker and a polar bear showed up, would you say no to a polar bear?

I can’t wait to hear what fellow bear-hater Stephen Colbert is going to say about her on Monday.

Photo:  Cartoon_Lover via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

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30 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
12:45 pm

Quote of the Day

Max Bernstein of Max and the Marginalized:

John McCain thinks that if you throw any ol’ pair of [breasts] at Hillary supporters, they’ll cast their principles to the wind and vote Republican.


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30 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
05:30 am

Palin: Best Joke So Far

John McCain left both his first wife and Mitt Romney for beauty queens.


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29 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
03:00 pm

New Open Thread: Palin and Foreign Policy

Despite Fox talking head Steve Doocy’s idiotic claim that Sarah Palin has foreign policy experience because Alaska is close to Russia, the reality is that Palin has zero background and zero experience on global issues (except energy in the context of Alaska).

So it could be said McCain has chosen someone to put one step away from the Presidency who has yet to show she knows anything about the very thing that McCain says is the most important part of the job.


| posted in foreign policy, media, politics, pop culture | 5 Comments

29 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
01:21 pm

Open Thread: Sarah Palin and McCain’s Mood

Have to say that I think she’s a formidible candidate.  A jujitsu move by the McCain campaign, managing to appeal (at least for the moment) to both the Christian fundamentalist base and disaffected PUMAs.  Democrats would be unwise to underestimate her.

Other thing to discuss:  McCain just doesn’t look happy.  Not about Palin, mind you, but in general.  The recent Time interview certainly reinforces that, but so did his body language during the announcement today.  I get the feeling he isn’t having much fun anymore.

Go at it, peeps.

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29 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
12:50 pm

Live Blogging the Palin Announcement

12:22  McCain not using teleprompter.  Intentional or it’s broken?  I think the latter former.

12:23  Emphasizing Palin’s anti-corruption props, executive experience, bipartisanship and compassion.

12:24  Are there hecklers?  Part of the audience making noise inappropriately.

12:24  “Grew up in a decent middle class home.”  Shot at Obama?

12:25  High school point guard.  Yep, it’s Palin

12:25  He just played the PUMA card:  suffrage.

12:26  Creepy smile is making its appearance.

12:27  Doesn’t put anyone ahead of the oath she swore?  If so, why did she accept McCain’s offer?

12:28  Here we go.  He names her, crowd goes nuts.

12:28: Family with her, including an au pair or nanny holding her 3-mo old baby.

12:30  Kind of a wierd non-chemistry betwee the two.  Never looked at each other, shook hands.  Okay, now McCain gives her a kiss on the cheek.

12:33  Plays the son going to Iraq card.  Biden didn’t do that.  I think Biden’s move was classier.

12:34  Trying to keep in mind that this is a historic moment, even if it the Republicans.  And first Prez/VP candidate with a blue-collar spouse.  Will he be able to handle the heat?

12:35  Telling her story.  Focusing on corruption.

12:35  Her speech is truly workmanlike.  Making me realize that Obama’s speech last night really was a thing of beauty.

12:36  Sending revenue back — isn’t that socialism?  Heh.

12:38  Now getting into meat of story:  People of America expect us to serve for the right reasons.  That means challenging status-quo.  “Serve with a servant’s heart.”  That’s a bit of code for the Christian base, I think.

12:39  This is a moment when principles matter more than the party line.  Then why pick someone who appeals to the base?

12:40  “My running mate” makes it sound like she’s the Pres and McCain is VP.

12:40  She’s one tough cookie.  Democrats better not underestimate her.

12:41  Just noticed she’s using a teleprompter.  confirms that that McCain didn’t.

12:41  She just said nucular.  Heh.

12:42  Profiles in courage — linking McCain to Kennedy.  Interesting tactic.

12:43  Is playing the PUMA card:  Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton.

12:44  Given the fact that the glass ceiling is the presidency, doesn’t shattering it require electing a woman president?

12:45  McCain looks uncomfortable.  And is he looking at her butt?

12:45  Again, not much chemistry.  Not standing together, no arms around each other.  Kind of weird.

In sum, Palin did a nice job.  The Democrats definitely should not underestimate her.  And I found it interesting that her emphasis was not on base issues, but rather an appeal to PUMAs and independents.  The Democrats need to get Hilllary out soon to reject her.  But what will Ferraro do?

I think the chemistry issue is one to watch.  McCain just doesn’t look like he’s having much fun.

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29 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
12:05 pm

Palin: Confirmed Photo from Miss Alaska

Still can’t confirm other photo, but this one appears to be the real deal:

| posted in media, politics, pop culture | 1 Comment

29 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
11:56 am

Palin: This Doesn’t Hold up


It’s a little bit unusual to put someone on the national ticket who nobody’s ever heard of or knows anything about.

Uh, Dan Quayle?  Geraldine Ferraro?  Bob Dole in 1976?

| posted in media, politics | 0 Comments

29 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
11:51 am

Palin: The Democrats Talking Points Summed Up

Debbie Wasserman-Schultz on MSNBC:  inexperienced, unethical, and wrong on the issues.  First and last are good, but not sure that the middle one is going to hold up.

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29 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
11:49 am

Palin: A Rovian Pick?

It occurs to me that Sarah Palin is right out of the Rove playbook:  you choose someone who fires up the base and gets them to the polls.  And you don’t worry about independents.

Palin certainly moves McCain to the right.  He’s going to have a harder time convincing independents that he’s a moderate.  That too is straight out of Rove 101.

The only problem with that theory is that Bush in 2000 and 2004 did not face Obama’s ground game.  If McCain is counting on mobilizing evangelicals to win, it may not be enough.

| posted in politics | 1 Comment

29 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
11:39 am

Open Thread: Would Palin Be the Hottest VP Candidate Ever?

A friend is arguing that Dan Quayle was cuter.  I don’t know.  But there’s not much competition:  Spiro Agnew, RIchard Nixon, Hubert H. Humphrey, Lyndon Johnson, George H.W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Jack Kemp, Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, Llyoyd Bentsen, Joe Biden, Bob Dole, Walter Mondale.

Not much competition there.  And don’t even get me started about Martin Van Buren and John Adams.

The same friend is now arguing for Lloyd Bentsen.  Methinks Palin beats him.  Oh wait, dur!

John Edwards.

Of course now we have the ick factor with Edwards.

Oh, I know!  Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., Nixon’s VP choice in 1960:

Hmmm. . . .   Share your thoughts below.

| posted in politics, pop culture | 0 Comments

29 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
11:30 am

Palin: Why Can’t Biden Be Tough in the Debate?

So the media are pounding the idea that Biden can’t be as forceful in debating Palin as he could have been with one of the guys?  Two points:

  1. Nobody said this when Hillary and Barack debated.
  2. This is pretty insulting to Palin.  If she’s as tough as everyone is saying she is, I have a hard time seeing why Biden wouldn’t go head to head against her just as ferociously as he would anyone else.

Democrats have to be careful not to fall into this trap.  Palin could be a formidable opponent, and would become even more so should the Democrats condescend.

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29 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
11:18 am

Palin: The Supposed Scandal That Isn’t

Somebody’s oppo shop has dug up an “abuse of power” allegation against Palin:

Lawmakers will hire someone within a week to investigate whether Governor Sarah Palin abused her power in firing Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan. The legislative council approved 100,000 dollars for the investigation that will find out whether Palin was angry at Monegan for not firing an Alaska State Trooper who went through a messy divorce with Palin’s sister.

On Monday afternoon, the Joint Legislative Council, filled with Republicans and Democrats, voted 12 to 0 to formally call for an investigation against Governor Palin in a manner-that they are stressing-will be unbiased and done in a timely fashion.

Accusations have risen that Monegan was fired for his refusal to fire trooper Michael Wooten. The council’s intent is to investigate the circumstances and events surrounding the termination of Monegan and potential abuses of power and improper action by the Governor and her administration.

The allegations against the Trooper are that he threatened to kill his wife’s (and Palin’s) father and tasered his (their?) 12-year-old son.  If that’s the case, I think Palin was on the side of the angels on this one.

| posted in media, politics | 1 Comment

29 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
11:06 am

Palin: Think Twice PUMAs

Okay, I’m already getting grief for posting the photo.  Let me explain why I did it.

Sarah Palin is a strongly pro-life, anti-gay marriage former beauty queen.  If John McCain picked her to appeal to Hillary dead-enders (along with his evangelical base),

This is who the PUMAs are going to support?  Had he picked Meg Wittman or Carly Fiorina, McCain may have had a chance.  But if any of the Hillaryites think that choosing McCain isn’t going to affect their core issues, they really are smoking some really good crack.

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29 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
10:45 am

Palin: Kinda Blows the “Is He Ready” Argument

NBC is now confirming Palin.

One of the core themes that the Obama campaign has been hitting over and over again is that Obama is not “ready to lead,” that yes, he’s a celebrity but he isn’t prepared to be commander-in-chief.

Sarah Palin has been governor of one of the smallest (in terms of population) in the Union.  She’s been governor for roughly 18 months.  And before that, she was mayor of Wasilla, a suburb of Anchorage with a population of about 8500.

Here’s part of her Wikipedia biography:

Brought to statewide attention because of her whistleblowing on ethical violations by state Republican Party leaders,[1] she won election in 2006 by first defeating the incumbent governor in the Republican primary, then a former Democratic Alaskan governor in the general election. . . .

Palin served two terms on the Wasilla City Council from 1992 to 1996. In 1996, she challenged the incumbent mayor, criticizing wasteful spending and high taxes.[5] The ex-mayor and sheriff tried to organize a recall campaign, but failed.[5] Palin kept her campaign promises, reducing her own salary, as well as reducing property taxes 60%.[5] She ran for reelection against the former mayor in 1999, winning by an even larger margin.[5][14] Palin was also elected president of the Alaska Conference of Mayors.[11] In 2002, Palin made an unsuccessful bid for Lieutenant Governor, coming in second to Loren Leman in a four-way race.

One other point:  according to Wikipedia, Palin’s oldest son, Track, will deploy to Iraq this fall.  This means that both VP candidates will have sons going to Iraq this fall.

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

29 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
10:30 am

Light Labor Day

Okay people, I’m supposed to be on vacation.  Every damn time I go on vacation there’s major news.  Tonight, I didn’t mind — it was something I’ve been working to make happen for nearly a year.  But damnit, John McCain, you couldn’t give me a freaking day off?

So I’m going to live blog the vice-coronation of Mittens or Pawlenty or — my pick — Wilford Brimley:

Then I’ll probably take a good part of the rest of the day off to remember what my wife and daughter look like.

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

29 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
09:39 am

Latest Veep Rumor

Sarah Palin, the young thirty-something Governor of Alaska.


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