Reactions to Criticism of the Powell Endorsement

23 10 2008

Some of the folks at These Bastards had the following to say about conservatives fuming over Powell’s endorsement of Obama:

Immediately Rush Limbaugh, Pat Buchanan, George Will, and Dan Billings fired off e-mails and gave interviews alerting the American populace to this chain of events. More intelligent people would have tried to attack Powell’s credibility based on his tenure in the Bush Administration. But to Rush and the like we are in yet another grand year of the glorious freedom experiment in Iraq, so that’s out. So they did the next best thing, kicked open the front door, strode out onto the porch and yelled “The Negroes is congregatin’ and endorsifyin’!” Because I guess Colin Powell and other black figures aren’t allowed to deviate from the standard line of pasty white guys they’ve endorsed since time immemorial.

So, word to the wise black folks. Endorsing a person of the same race is kinda racist, unless you are white. I think it has something to do with the equinox or the Magna Carta. If I understand it correctly, the only way to move race relations forward is for the black community to rally around the old, white guy. For the 44th time in a row. To prove to us you aren’t voting based on race. We promise to return the favor the next time a black guy runs. Honest.

And Morris O’Kelly at the NYT’s Fifth Down had the following reaction:

It wasn’t enough for Colin Powell to have been a professional soldier and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It was “irrelevant” that he was once Secretary of State. When it came down to Powell offering his informed, influential and most important, single-minded opinion, the FIRST criticism leveled at him trumpeted race.

Limbaugh didn’t acknowledge his credentials and couldn’t attack his record.

The FIRST criticism leveled at Powell trumpeted race, and Powell’s previous service to America was summarily dismissed. This, despite the fact that Powell had never made any overture to appease or please African-Americans.

Nobody publicly accused Republicans Susan Eisenhower or Christopher Buckley of being “race traitors” when they endorsed Obama, or alleged Joe Lieberman was a race loyalist after switching parties and kowtowing to McCain. So when a respected and reputable black uber-American is first characterized as a race loyalist…it’s at best questionable.

By every Republican measure, Powell (like McCain) had put “country first.”

Others, such as Pat Buchanan, took an even lower road, alleging that other, “more qualified” generals were passed over in favor of Powell as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. You know, “affirmative action” at the highest level.

Even after all these years, the credit Powell deserved still escaped him.

No such questions were posed of Dr. Henry Kissinger as to whether his support of Senator John McCain was also based in race. Buchanan didn’t accuse Senator McCain of gender affirmative action with the selection of Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate.





Joe the Plumber and Taxes

16 10 2008

From Dean Baker:

Much of last night’s presidential debate centered on “Joe the Plumber,” Joe Wurzelbacher, a plumber who Barack Obama met while campaigning in Ohio. According to the New York Times, Mr. Wurzelbacher says that he is planning to buy a plumbing business that has profits of between $250,000 and $280,000 a year.

While this income would put Mr. Wurzelbacher above the threshold where he could expect to pay higher taxes under Senator Obama’s tax plan, the increase in his tax bill would be relatively modest. Under Senator Obama’s plan, the tax on income above $250,000 would increase by 3 percentage points from 33 percent to 36 percent. This means that Mr. Wurzelbacher could expect to see his tax bill rise by between $0-$900, assuming that this plumbing business would be his entire taxable income. If he has additional taxable income, then he would see a larger increase in his taxes.

Whoa that sounds really burdensome for someone making $250k or more a year. Interestingly enough, Wurzelbacher is not even in that top 5 percent of the income earners to even be worried about such a hike.

Some are speculating whether or not Wurzelbacher was actually planted by the McCain campaign to portray Obama as a tax and spend liberal.

Here is the exchange between Joe the Plumber and Obama in case any of you missed it.





CBS/NYT Poll: Obama leads McCain 53 to 39 Percent

15 10 2008

Its hard to know how much faith to place in national polls but the 14 point spread reported in the newest CBS/NYT poll should give many observers pause, especially since its largely consistent with how other polls have been trending.

Here is how CBS interpreted the results.

The Obama-Biden ticket now leads the McCain-Palin ticket 53 percent to 39 percent among likely voters, a 14-point margin. One week ago, prior to the Town Hall debate that uncommitted voters saw as a win for Obama, that margin was just three points.

Among independents who are likely voters – a group that has swung back and forth between McCain and Obama over the course of the campaign – the Democratic ticket now leads by 18 points. McCain led among independents last week.

McCain’s campaign strategy may be hurting hurt him: Twenty-one percent of voters say their opinion of the Republican has changed for the worse in the last few weeks. The top two reasons cited for the change of heart are McCain’s attacks on Obama and his choice of Sarah Palin as running mate.

I bet McCain is kicking himself for not picking Romney now.





The New Yorker Endorses Obama

14 10 2008

The New Yorker more than made up for its sad attempt at satire this summer with its recent full-throated endorsement of Obama. To date, this has got to be the most forceful and persuasive case for Obama I have seen yet.  The editorial draws contrasts between the Obama-Biden and the McCain-Palin ticket on numerous issues, but the differences on energy and on the courts were the most dramatic and powerful points in the piece.

On energy and global warming, Obama offers a set of forceful proposals. He supports a cap-and-trade program to reduce America’s carbon emissions by eighty per cent by 2050—an enormously ambitious goal, but one that many climate scientists say must be met if atmospheric carbon dioxide is to be kept below disastrous levels. Large emitters, like utilities, would acquire carbon allowances, and those which emit less carbon dioxide than their allotment could sell the resulting credits to those which emit more; over time, the available allowances would decline. Significantly, Obama wants to auction off the allowances; this would provide fifteen billion dollars a year for developing alternative-energy sources and creating job-training programs in green technologies. He also wants to raise federal fuel-economy standards and to require that ten per cent of America’s electricity be generated from renewable sources by 2012. Taken together, his proposals represent the most coherent and far-sighted strategy ever offered by a Presidential candidate for reducing the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels.

There was once reason to hope that McCain and Obama would have a sensible debate about energy and climate policy. McCain was one of the first Republicans in the Senate to support federal limits on carbon dioxide, and he has touted his own support for a less ambitious cap-and-trade program as evidence of his independence from the White House. But, as polls showed Americans growing jittery about gasoline prices, McCain apparently found it expedient in this area, too, to shift course. He took a dubious idea—lifting the federal moratorium on offshore oil drilling—and placed it at the very center of his campaign. Opening up America’s coastal waters to drilling would have no impact on gasoline prices in the short term, and, even over the long term, the effect, according to a recent analysis by the Department of Energy, would be “insignificant.” Such inconvenient facts, however, are waved away by a campaign that finally found its voice with the slogan “Drill, baby, drill!”

On the courts:

The contrast between the candidates is even sharper with respect to the third branch of government. A tense equipoise currently prevails among the Justices of the Supreme Court, where four hard-core conservatives face off against four moderate liberals. Anthony M. Kennedy is the swing vote, determining the outcome of case after case.

McCain cites Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, two reliable conservatives, as models for his own prospective appointments. If he means what he says, and if he replaces even one moderate on the current Supreme Court, then Roe v. Wade will be reversed, and states will again be allowed to impose absolute bans on abortion. McCain’s views have hardened on this issue. In 1999, he said he opposed overturning Roe; by 2006, he was saying that its demise “wouldn’t bother me any”; by 2008, he no longer supported adding rape and incest as exceptions to his party’s platform opposing abortion.

But scrapping Roe—which, after all, would leave states as free to permit abortion as to criminalize it—would be just the beginning. Given the ideological agenda that the existing conservative bloc has pursued, it’s safe to predict that affirmative action of all kinds would likely be outlawed by a McCain Court. Efforts to expand executive power, which, in recent years, certain Justices have nobly tried to resist, would likely increase. Barriers between church and state would fall; executions would soar; legal checks on corporate power would wither—all with just one new conservative nominee on the Court. And the next President is likely to make three appointments.

Obama, who taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago, voted against confirming not only Roberts and Alito but also several unqualified lower-court nominees. As an Illinois state senator, he won the support of prosecutors and police organizations for new protections against convicting the innocent in capital cases. While McCain voted to continue to deny habeas-corpus rights to detainees, perpetuating the Bush Administration’s regime of state-sponsored extra-legal detention, Obama took the opposite side, pushing to restore the right of all U.S.-held prisoners to a hearing. The judicial future would be safe in his care.





Christopher Hitchens on Sarah Palin

14 10 2008

In a piece where he could barely bring himself to endorse Barack Obama for President, Christoper Hitchens took Gov. Sarah Palin to task with searing wit and unsparing honesty.

The most insulting thing that a politician can do is to compel you to ask yourself: “What does he take me for?” Precisely this question is provoked by the selection of Gov. Sarah Palin. I wrote not long ago that it was not right to condescend to her just because of her provincial roots or her piety, let alone her slight flirtatiousness, but really her conduct since then has been a national disgrace. It turns out that none of her early claims to political courage was founded in fact, and it further turns out that some of the untested rumors about her—her vindictiveness in local quarrels, her bizarre religious and political affiliations—were very well-founded, indeed. Moreover, given the nasty and lowly task of stirring up the whack-job fringe of the party’s right wing and of recycling patent falsehoods about Obama’s position on Afghanistan, she has drawn upon the only talent that she apparently possesses.

Damn that last line is a zinger.





We Fight on that Lie

9 10 2008

Ta-Nehisi Coates sums up John McCain’s posture on Iraq in very stark terms.

There is no sense here that one may have other reasons, short of cowardice, for wanting out of Iraq. But this is like being back on the block. Your man tells you that he got jumped by some cats from across the tracks, so you and him go to war. The beef lasts for months, and then you find out he never got jumped to begin with. But when you pull out, he calls you a chump.

This reminds me of a scene in The Wire when Slim Charles shares some of his wisdom on the Art of War with Avon Barksdale. Charles wanted to retaliate against a rival gangster Marlo Stansfield for the latter’s presumed involvement in murdering a close associate of the Barksdale set.  Even when Barksdale the righleader informs him Marlo had nothing to do with the murder Charles still presses the point. “It don’t matter who did what to who at this point. And now there ain’t no going back. Once you in it you in it. If its a lie, then we fight on that lie. But we gotta fight,” implores Charles.

Check it.





Campaigning through the Mud

15 09 2008

In what seems like ages ago, the McCain campaign and GOP at large were concerned about a potential backlash against attacking Obama unfairly.  In a February article in the Jack Kemp, albeit not your typical Republican, told the Politico, “You can’t run against Barack Obama the way you could run against Bill Clinton, Al Gore or John Kerry” because it would highlight how much a “all white country club party” the Republican party truly is.

“You can’t allow the party to be Macaca-ed,” one operative noted, “The P.C. [politically correct] police will be out and the standards will be very narrow,” said another strategist. Senator McCain even defended Senator Obama after hearing Bill Cunningham, one of the more vile radio talk show hosts on the extreme right, disparage the Illinois Senator in a rant in which the McCain supporter invoked the now Democratic  Presidential nominee’s middle name three times.

According to the New York Times, McCain took the stage at the fundraiser and told the crowd there:

It’s my understanding that before I came in here a person who was on the program before I spoke made some disparaging remarks about my two colleagues in the Senate, Senator Obama and Senator Clinton. I have repeatedly stated my respect for Senator Obama and Senator Clinton, that I will treat them with respect. I will call them Senator. We will have a respectful debate, as I have said on hundreds of occasions. I regret any comments that may have been made about these two individuals who are honorable Americans.

My how times have changed. I wonder where that guy is today? And surprise surprise the so-called PC police aren’t as strong or intimidating as Republicans said they were.

Maybe I am just waking up to the fact that its mud season. And its been that way for some time.