Friday, October 10, 2008

Senator John McCain: Coward

It seems both Sens. Obama and Biden have decided to make some none-too-subtle efforts to rile up Sen. McCain. Sen. Biden is quoted in a recent speech saying, "In my neighborhood, when you’ve got something to say to a guy, you look him in the eye and you say it to him." And Sen. Obama, in a Charlie Gibson interview for ABC, bitchslapped Sen. McCain for not leveling his accusations of Sen. Obama's character to his face. Both are apparently trying to coax the famous McCain temper out into the open on live TV. Essentially, both Sens. Biden and Obama have told Sen. McCain to either throw down or back off. And after the release of the well-made thirteen minute Keating Five documentary, Sen. McCain has backed off somewhat, but Gov. Palin has not.
With one more debate to go it's a wait-and-see approach as to whether Sen. Obama can bring out tht side of Sen. McCain. If so then it's game over for Sen. McCain. If not then Sen. McCain still has a lot of ground to make up. Either way, I can't see any reason why not to bitchslap the man by making him lose his temper.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Hedgerows and Nuance

Josh Marshall gives the typical immediate post-debate analysis here and wonders why Sen. McCain didn't go after Sen. Obama like he said he would. I've already given my answer to that question (hint: something about fear and being old). And Marshall does a decent job of running through the highlights of the debate with an ending pulled from Noam Schieber over a The Plank on Sen. Obama's response to the issue of attacking Al-Qaeda. Sen. McCain continues to argue that a presidential candidate doesn't say things like that. While I think Sen. McCain is wrong, I also think the way Sen. Obama responds is too nuanced to really hit back against the McCain position. The way Sen. Obama approaches the subject now is to hedge it against the Pakistani government's willingness and ability to confront the Taliban and Al-Qaeda directly. A better formulation, I think, is to say that American forces will strike at either enemy wherever they are, particularly if the supposed ruling body will not. If we find terrorist training camps in the Yukon then Canada better prepare itself for a little fire from the sky and men with U.S. flags on their sholders running around shooting at things. Instead of tying the issue up with our concerns over the stability of Pakistan, Sen. Obama should simply side-step it all together by saying, "We will not attack Pakistan. We will attack the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. That they are in Pakistan is beside the point since the aim is not to topple the government but do what the government can't or won't.

What Is John McCain Afraid Of?

Thank god for Obsidian Wings and hilzoy. At least someone can offer a sober analysis of the town hall debate that gives Sen. Obama the win without Sullivanesque hyperventilating. What I think hilzoy wants to know, as do a lot of other bloggers, pundits and media shills, is why Sen. McCain didn't go on the vitrolic offensive his campaign has adopted? Honestly, there's a simple answer to that--fear. Sen. McCain is afraid, physically and emotionally afraid, of Sen. Obama. In part it's an old alpha male lion fearing the arrival of the younger, faster, stronger alpha male who simply displaces the old lion by his mere presence. You saw it during the debate when Sen. McCain would stand and wander about, particularly when Sen. Obama was speaking. It was like the old lion being put to pasture but wanting back in the pride.
The other reason I think Sen. McCain fears Sen. Obama is based on the simple fact that Sen. Obama isn't afraid of John McCain. He won't let the old sailor bully him into silence. It's not arrogance on Sen. Obama's part, but the sense of humility that drives him zen-like calm. He's not easily dissuaded and equally persuasive without resorting to bellicose attacks as Sen. McCain is. There's an aura about Sen. Obama and it scares the hell out of Sen. McCain.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Town Halls and the Need to Burn Things

A) Worst...Debate...Ever.
B) I think Sullivan is the victim of a government conspiracy to get gays hooked on crack: Exhibit A

10.33 pm. This was, I think, a mauling: a devastating and possibly electorally fatal debate for McCain. Even on Russia, he sounded a little out of it. I've watched a lot of debates and participated in many. I love debate and was trained as a boy in the British system to be a debater. I debated dozens of times at Oxofrd. All I can say is that, simply on terms of substance, clarity, empathy, style and authority, this has not just been an Obama victory. It has been a wipe-out.It has been about as big a wipe-out as I can remember in a presidential debate. It reminds me of the 1992 Clinton-Perot-Bush debate. I don't really see how the McCain campaign survives this.
C) Tom Brokaw should never appear in front of a TV again.
D) "That One"
E) Time would have been better spent clipping my nails, which I will do now

Some Quick Tidying Up Business

I meant to post this the day I got the answer I was looking for, and offer my sincere apologies to everyone for not doing so. I posted what looked like a legitimate letter talking about Sen. McCain and his actions on holiday in Fiji some nine years ago. After e-mailing the cited writer--a professor at Cowell College in California--I found that not only had she not written the letter, she took offense to the use of her name to bolster the credibility of it. Here is Professor Gamel's response to me, reprinted in full:

I have received thousands of emails and phone calls about the Turtle Island account.

I did NOT write that account, forward it under my name, or ask for it to be widely distributed.

I have never been to Turtle Island (which costs $2000/day), have never met Senator McCain, was a classics major, not an English Literature major, and never eat pancakes.

I regret the misinformation which is circulating, but it is not my doing, and I protest the misuse of my name.

How I think this happened: on 16 September I received this account 3rd-hand and forwarded it, with full email trail information and the name of the purported author (whom I don't know), to several friends with whom I discuss politics. It was further forwarded, and at some point the trail was deleted and I was misidentified as the author. I suspect whoever did this thought that my name and contact information would make the story more credible. is investigating the account; current status "undetermined."

This is NOT an organized effort on the part of any political candidate.

I hope you will pass this information on to anyone interested in this story.

And finally, the story itself isn't necessarily false. But we'll never know unless the author herself comes forward.
So again, I offer my apologies to Professor Gamel and to anyone who took the Fiji story seriously. While I did get some answers I was not diligent enough to post them as soon as I had received them. To reiterate, the letter I posted on the McCain family's vacation in Fiji during 1999, while not proven factually incorrect, is nevertheless a prop to scare women away from Sen. McCain. Until the original writer steps up, we won't know if those events are true or not, but for me, I consider the story a fabrication.

How to Learn to Love Warren Ellis

Just a little something to start the day with, courtesy of our beloved futurist/comic writer god Warren Ellis.

Best Assessment of Rich Lowry

Ever since last Thursday's vice-presidential debate many bloggers have gotten a kick out of this graph from NRO writer Rich Lowry:

I'm sure I'm not the only male in America who, when Palin dropped her first wink, sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, "Hey, I think she just winked at me." And her smile. By the end, when she clearly knew she was doing well, it was so sparkling it was almost mesmerizing. It sent little starbursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America. This is a quality that can't be learned; it's either something you have or you don't, and man, she's got it.
So far, the laughter over the "little starbursts" hasn't quite died down yet, but John Rogers over at Kung Fu Monkey actually manages to find something far more amusing in the Lowry graph: "Modern American Conservatives have sunk to the intellectual and emotional level of the guy who thinks the stripper really likes him" (his italics). When you have to whore yourself out the way Gov. Palin has you begin to wonder if this is all an enormous joke; that when you metaphorically pull the lever on election day balloons and confetti will magically appear in the sky along with the voice of Walter Cronkite saying, "Fooled You!" It all seems just that absurd when you look even in the general area of the McCain campaign these days. What scares me though is that it isn't a joke. This is for real my friends. When you have the family where the word 'maverick' was derived complaining about the McCain campaign's use of the term, you know something is rotten in the land. I'm not all that thrilled for the wild ride we're about to experience for the next few years, no matter who wins the presidency.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Let's Buy a Car!

Publius at Obsidian Wings makes a strong case against Sen. McCain's health-care policy on the grounds that individuals do not have the bargaining power with heath insurance companies as conservative believe they do. The McCain plan would tax employer-provided health care benefits while simultaneously giving a $5,000 tax credit to each individual. The expectation is that the individual would then be able to seek out the best, most appropriate health insurance thus spurring competition within the health insurance market. Horseshit.
The problem Publius notes with Sen. McCain's plan is how it restructures the health insurance market in a way that doesn't benefit the individual. Most people I know have precious little time to go comparison shopping or drag out a negotiation for a better price on coverage. With that in mind there's little incentive for health insurance companies to lower costs, provide wider benefits or relax their standards on pre-existing conditions. The consumer loses out because as an individual they have little force of their own to negotiate a fair rate. It's an issue of supply and demand. Since demand for health insurance is high, health insurance companies can increase the costs of what they supply. This isn't like buying a TV or a car because if the makers of said cars and TVs keep the price too high then consumer do have easily accessable alternatives.
Even the example of a car purchase has its own problems. I remember when I decided to buy my first new car. I spent six months figuring out interest rates, down payments, monthly payments and learning how to bargin for the best price. At that time, I did have the time to put that kind of effort into it. And the result was an affordable purchase of the car I wanted. But had I pushed for too low of a monthly payment or interest rate, the dealership could have simply told me to go elsewhere. Individual purchases such as this lack the power of a group purchase. If I were representing a company that wanted x number of cars for y cost then I would have greater bargaining power due to the backing of a corporation making a large number of purchases. It's volume discount and that does work.
Without said volume discount the individual is fucked. The market would not adjust to make health-care affordable because they have no need to. People will always need health coverage. Lacking any regulation that would keep health insurance costs affordable, the individual is left out. The problem isn't with how health insurance is paid for but with how health insurance prices are set. Until that changes then the McCain plan would essentially deny health insurance to working individuals. I don't think it would take much on the government's part to influence the health-care market to make it more consumer friendly, but what Sen. McCain proposes is exactly the opposite.