Fear of Clowns

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."
- H. L. Mencken

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Palin pranked 


Article. The DJs' web site, which is really slow right now.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Joe the Plumber 

Is a friggin' idiot.

JOE: I explained to him that I'm planning on purchasing this company - it's not something I'm gonna purchase outright, it's something I'm going to have to make payments on for years - but essentially I'm going to buy this company, and the profits generated by that could possibly put me in that tax bracket he's talking about and that bothers me ...

INTERVIEWER: Would that plumbing business employ other people or would it just employ you?

JOE: Eventually it would employ other people. Right now it's a two man shop ...

So Joe is going to buy out his partner or boss, make payments for years and eventually be among the richest few percent of Americans. GO AMERICA! BOO OBAMA!

INTERVIEWER: So a potential tax increase - how do you see that affecting your ability to hire more people to work with you at your company?

JOE: Obviously these are hypothetical questions to a degree because I don't know what the economy is going to do...


JOE: Essentially what that would do is, I'd have to see how much money is available after everything else is paid, to see if I can one, afford a new vehicle, two, outfit it, and then three, pay a good salary. And if I'm being taxed too much, one of those three things is going to get shorted. One, I won't be able to buy as good a good vehicle or I won't stock it as well, or the guy I hire - if I'm able to hire somebody - is not going to make as much as he should.

Dreaming about making a quarter million dollars in taxable income a year and he's already sure he can't pay his imaginary employees a decent salary. What a schmuck.

INTERVIEWER: Okay, and then he talked about 10, 15 years ago maybe you weren't making that sort of money, how would you feel - if you were just starting out, or maybe looking back - the kind of tax cut that he's promising for other people, does that still make you think that that's a great idea?

JOE: No. See, I believe in working for what I get. I don't want to say it's a handout, but essentially that's what it comes down to. You're going to tax someone else more that's been working hard to fulfill the American Dream and you're gonna give it to other people who - I'm not saying they don't work as hard, but I'm sure some of them don't - and I don't think it's right just to give it to them or reduce taxes on their part and hike it up on my part like a teeter totter to bring it back even. So no, that wouldn't - well, let me rephrase that. It would appeal to me because back then I was struggling. That kind of thing appeals to me - anybody wants to cut my taxes, I look at it very seriously ...

Tax cuts for people like me, or maybe people like me who don't work as hard is a handout ... because that means people like me, er them I mean, you're going to tax me more, at least after I spend years buy my whole two man plumbing deal and am on the road to being a millionaire. Er, strike that, that actually appeals to me ... but if someone offers me a tax cut, I have to think about it real hard.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

He can't raise his arms above his shoulders, but he can stick his foot in his mouth 

Talk about changing the subject ... from "he" to "that one".

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"That one" seems racist to me 

It seems the immediate take-away point of the debate was when McCain referred to Obama as "that one." If it doesn't immediately seem racist, turn who said it around.

Karen and I both looked at each other and exclaimed something like "What the ... huh?"

The most substantive instance of the grumpy, ornery McCain, I believe, is when he bizarrely interrupted Obama to "thank" him for saying "McCain suggests that somehow ... he's somber and responsible," only to have Obama continue his response which effectively turn McCain's criticism about Obama "announce[ing] that you're going to launch an attack into another country."

OBAMA: Sen. McCain, this is the guy who sang, "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran," who called for the annihilation of North Korea. That I don't think is an example of "speaking softly."

This is the person who, after we had -- we hadn't even finished Afghanistan, where he said, "Next up, Baghdad."

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Agree with McCain on this - sort of 

I would order the secretary of the treasury to immediately buy up the bad home loan mortgages in America and renegotiate at the new value of those homes -- at the diminished value of those homes and let people be able to make those -- be able to make those payments and stay in their homes.

Is it expensive? Yes. But we all know, my friends, until we stabilize home values in America, we're never going to start turning around and creating jobs and fixing our economy.

However, this was the proposal I supported - as proposed and explained by two Yale economists two weeks ago before the Wall Street bailout was enacted - as an alternative to the Wall Street bailout.

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Na na, na-na Na-na, hey hey 

If McCains' crotchety and wandering performance in general were not enough, about an hour and 20 minutes into the debate McCain just lost any chance of turning the campaign around by saying, "Thank-you."

UPDATE: transcript

OBAMA: Now, Sen. McCain suggests that somehow, you know, I'm green behind the ears and, you know, I'm just spouting off, and he's somber and responsible.

MCCAIN: Thank you very much.

OBAMA: Sen. McCain, this is the guy who sang, "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran," who called for the annihilation of North Korea. That I don't think is an example of "speaking softly."

This is the person who, after we had -- we hadn't even finished Afghanistan, where he said, "Next up, Baghdad."

So I agree that we have to speak responsibly and we have to act responsibly. And the reason Pakistan -- the popular opinion of America had diminished in Pakistan was because we were supporting a dictator, Musharraf, had given him $10 billion over seven years, and he had suspended civil liberties. We were not promoting democracy.

This is the kind of policies that ultimately end up undermining our ability to fight the war on terrorism, and it will change when I'm president.

MCCAIN: And, Tom, if -- if we're going to go back and forth, I then -- I'd like to have equal time to go -- to respond to...

BROKAW: Yes, you get the...

MCCAIN: ... to -- to -- to...

BROKAW: ... last word here, and then we have to move on.

MCCAIN: Not true. Not true. I have, obviously, supported those efforts that the United States had to go in militarily and I have opposed that I didn't think so.

I understand what it's like to send young American's in harm's way. I say -- I was joking with a veteran -- I hate to even go into this. I was joking with an old veteran friend, who joked with me, about Iran.

But the point is that I know how to handle these crises. And Sen. Obama, by saying that he would attack Pakistan, look at the context of his words. I'll get Osama bin Laden, my friends. I'll get him. I know how to get him.

I'll get him no matter what and I know how to do it. But I'm not going to telegraph my punches, which is what Sen. Obama did. And I'm going to act responsibly, as I have acted responsibly throughout my military career and throughout my career in the United States Senate.

And we have fundamental disagreements about the use of military power and how you do it, and you just saw it in response to previous questions.

McCain tried to zing Obama in a way that didn't make sense - while interrupting him no less - only to have Obama give one of his best answers. McCain's response: "I hate to even go into this. I was joking with an old veteran friend ...

UPDATE: video

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

Terra Lawson-Remer on Palin's energy answers, Herbert on Palin's seriousness 


You said during your debate with Joe Biden that "I'm not one to attribute every activity of man to the changes in the climate". Huh? Well I would certainly agree. Not sure how this is relevant, but I do agree. You emphasized that "We have got to clean up this planet. We have got to encourage other nations also to come along with us with the impacts of climate change". I guess I am confused again. The U.S. has only 5% of the world's population, but we consume 25% of the world's fossil fuels. This doesn't seem to me like leadership in cleaning up the planet.

I add that if Palin doesn't think Man is responsible for climate change, how can anyone "encourage other nations also to come along with us with the impacts of climate change"?

Bob Herbert

But after Senator Biden suggested that John McCain’s answer to the nation’s energy problems was to "drill, drill, drill," Ms. Palin promptly pointed out, as if scoring a point, that "the chant is 'Drill, baby, drill!'"

How’s that for perspective? The credit markets are frozen. Our top general in Afghanistan is dialing 911. Americans are losing jobs by the scores of thousands. And Sarah Palin is making sure we know that the chant is "drill, baby, drill!" not "drill, drill, drill."

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Snap poll - and mavericks don't engage in self-aggrandizement 


On the question of the candidates' qualifications to assume the presidency, an immediately 87 percent of those polled said Biden is qualified and 42 percent said Palin is qualified.

In the context of a vice-presidential debate - and the wide media coverage of Palin's abysmal performance in the few interviews the McCain campaign has granted her - 87-45 is close enough to parity with current public sentiment so as to not be moving in the horse race. I believe, as mentioned below, Palin's answers didn't immediately lay bare her failure to grasp and comprehend policy issues - as her presentation far exceeded expectations.

The substance of Palin's answers will drive the narrative in the following days. Her desire to come off as an agreeable and optimistic candidate were at odds with several McCain positions. Which will only reaffirm the focus on the McCain campaign's non-existent rudder.

Saying I'll veto the first bill that comes across my desk with pork attached to it "and you will know their names" is great if the intention is to cue audience applause, but Americans in general are mindful of self-aggrandizement. Mark Twain and H.L. Mencken would have had a field day with this stuff (granted, current satirists are surely in the midst of a writing block).

The substance of McCain's running mate's performance was awkwardly inserted as non-sequiturs - she tried but failed to convincingly segue her responses into campaign talking points. Far from coming across as the maverick she promoted herself as, she revealed that she was only interested in addressing topics for which she had a prepared answer.

"I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear," Palin defiantly declared early in the debate. And certainly she didn't.

By my count Palin called her campaign "maverick" at least four times. Actual mavericks don't heed much attention to their maverickism. If one has to promote one's self as a maverick, it rather negates the point.

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Immediate reaction 

Palin babbled only once and sort of babbled another time. Much better non-babble quotient than I would have put money on.

However, it was clear to political junkies and will become clear to casual observers that Palin answered few of the actual questions. And - without looking up the actual facts - I suspect Palin contradicted or changed multiple McCain/Palin policy positions.

All in all, Palin far exceeded my (and I believe most) expectations on presentation, but believe her fallback onto prepared responses and refusal to answer actual questions will reinforce the perception (and truth) that Palin isn't experienced enough for the job.

Biden won the debate hands-down on presentation and substance. But as Palin far exceeded the low expectations for delivery it won't register at all in the horse race.

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Live blogging debate 

Palin first to ignore Gwen's question (a request to respond to Biden's criticism about McCain's deregulation mania).

Second time Gwen has asked Palin to answer question about McCain's call to deregulate health care. Third time Palin talks about taxes instead of regulation.

Biden just sort of answers the question about cutting back on campaign promises and shifts to what they're not going to not do. Palin doesn't even make attempt. Gwen again asks Palin to answer question. Again Palin doesn't.

Surprised that it took this long for Palin to fall into complete babble.

Palin is again not babbling, but informs Gwen she's not going to answer her question on allowing allowing judges to rewrite mortgage terms ("we do support it") but instead go into a memorized answer about energy.

"Barak O'Bama and Senator O'Biden". Heh.

Palin claims, "We do have a plan for withdrawal" in Iraq.

Palin supports carbon emission caps. And equal rights for same-sex couples. Huh. (huh?)


Palin says we can't allow Iran to acquire nuclear energy.

Biden hits home run on Bush Israel policy. Palin avoids answer.

Huge difference in Biden's passion in answers on foreign policy is off the chart on foreign policy as compared to his answers on domestic policy.

Biden's fire only lasted for two answers. What a conflagration though.

Drawing line on intervention. Biden starts out strong. Should have used full time on answer instead of segueing into criticing McCain. Palin doesn't answer question but follows Biden's lead by defending McCain.

General comment: In the beginning Gwen pressed Palin to answer the actual questions asked but gave up. Giving up on getting Palin to respond to the questions was a better decision than pressing as the debate would have been perceived as a combative interview with Palin.

Palin's answer about VP responsibility was close to babble, Biden's answer contrasted the difference in depth of experience.

Palin seems like she'd getting tired.

Biden on fire again in interjected rampage against Pails 4+ characterizations of McCain as maverick.

Palin would like to speak directly with the American public without the filter of the mainstream media. So give live press conferences.

GOOD GOD! Children and grand-children are going to look back on us and see it as a time when people where free? Did I hear that correctly?

(close, Karen informs me - Palin hoped future generations didn't look back on now as a time when Americans were free.

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Debate predictions 

Sarah asks Gewn to rephrase a question.

Joe uses the phrases "Humpty Dumpty", "wooden nickels", and "Potemkin village" and calls Sarah "Batty".

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Right for once 

Predicting political sentiment is difficult at best for anyone, especially me. So I'd like to take this occasion to congratulate myself for spotting immediately after the first Obama/McCain debate what turned out to be pretty much every point of the ensuing media coverage.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

New observation 

It just occurred to me that McCain's claim that Obama doesn't have the constitution to work with congressional Republicans is a great odds with Obama going out of his way to repeatedly emphasize in his answers points on which he he believed McCain was "absolutely right."

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Immediate polling reactions 

Instant polling regarding the debate seems to indicate Obama clearly won. I'm figuring that McCain's refusal to engage Obama directly will be the main theme of coverage as it was quite bizarre and frankly, quite impolite. So I think my initial reaction wasn't as optimistic as it could have been --- especially being that I'm an Obama supporter who sees McCain as a washed up political opportunist.

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My reaction to the first debate 

I was excited that unlike 2004's format, this season's format allowed the candidates to directly engage in conversation with one another. Neither initially did, after encouragement from Leherer, Obama began to attempt back and forth dialogue but I didn't notice McCain even turn towards Obama once. He uttered a variation of "Obama doesn't understand ..." at least half a dozen times, yet didn't say it to Obama's face. I don't think he was afraid of engaging Obama - after all, it's the campaigns that set the rules - I think he was afraid of losing composure if he did get into a direct back and forth. I could also believe that it was a planned tactic to make McCain appear so dominant over Obama that he was above having to even talk to him. The net effect, I think, was making McCain appear haughtily condescending and petulant and making Obama seem engaged.

Both candidates sidestepped a few questions - the last, "What are the chances of being another 9/11?" was completely sidestepped by both, both to a lesser extent sidestepped what spending they may have to cut as a result of the $700 billion bailout.

Obama repeated the observation that McCain is a Bush Republican and intends to continue Bush policies; a strong point, but one that has been already made - although that reminder doesn't hurt Obama I don't think it will sink in with anyone who didn't already understand it.

McCain repeated a few of his stump speech and advertisement lies, but again, I believe most people already knew this, given the wide coverage of the dishonest nature of McCain's campaign. A lot of independents don't start paying attention to the campaigns until the debates, but the impact of follow-up coverage of the the facts and untruths presented will not affect them nearly as much as how the candidates presented themselves.

I do believe Obama's demeanor was much more presidential than McCain's - which wasn't presidential at all, but ornery. Add to that the fact that McCain leads Obama significantly in polls on national security and is basing the larger part of his campaign on that he his the clear choice for Commander in Chief, a draw on substance and a win for Obama in presentation will bring a noticeable shift towards Obama among undecideds and independents over the next few days.

Biden's evaluation, as to be expected goes beyond my prediction of a noticeable bump in polling for Obama: The debate was "fatal for McCain,

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