Daily Dose of Politics

Wow, a lot’s happened in the past 24 hours.

Vladimir Putin (President of Russia, not Germany) has accused the US of starting the war in Georgia, to benefit “a political candidate.” For once, I’m going to have to give the White House the benefit of the doubt on this: as crazy as George Bush is with starting wars, Vladimir Putin seems even more out of his mind these days. It seems as if Russia started the war with Georgia, not that the US got Georgia to start a war with Russia. (And besides, if it were done to “benefit a presidential candidate,” it seems to have backfired, as most of the US realized it wasn’t the US state of Georgia and immediately dismissed the news.)

Obama gave his acceptance speech last night. I haven’t watched it in full yet, but the consensus seems to be that it was a good speech, but that the rest of the event was a snooze. Many have reported that the convention turned Denver into a police state, apparently resulting in an ABC news anchor being arrested for… filming a news broadcast in public? Obama had an insanely huge crowd at Invesco.

The news of today, though, is that McCain has picked Sarah Palin, the current Arkansas Governor, as his running mate. As I referenced in my previous post, I don’t know her full background yet, but she strikes me as a good complement to McCain: she’s young (you might even call her good-looking), has a track record of exposing corruption in the Republican party. She’s married to an Eskimo, making her pick doubly not a “white boys club” pick. Her eldest son enlisted in the Marines last year at age 18, and her youngest son has Down Syndrome. (From Wikipedia: “Palin refused to let the results of prenatal genetic testing change her decision to have the baby. ‘I’m looking at him right now, and I see perfection,’ Palin said.”) She’s aggressive on fighting wasteful spending (my friend Chris says she’s the one that canned the Alaskan “Bridge to Nowhere“), but isn’t the sort of insane, “No taxes at all, close down everything” person that makes fiscal conservatism look bad. She’s opposed GOP porkbarrel spending, and pushed for ethics reform. Her most recent approval rating as Governor was 80%, which seems awfully high for any politician. She opposes gay marriage, and yet says she has homosexual friends and strongly opposes discrimination; her first veto killed a bill that would have banned the Alaskan government from providing benefits to same-sex partners of government employees.

I still want to look more into her stance on energy, as the Wikipedia page makes it sound like she’s gone out of her way to not become a Big Oil Crony, but I don’t see a lot about alternative energy; given her proximity to ANWR in particular, I’d like to know more.

But I still think the, “Oh crap” I got from a fellow Dem in a text message is exactly the right reply. I wasn’t enthused about Biden. He’s a good guy, with a good track record, but that’s about all I have to say about him. Not bad, but there’s nothing exciting. (I’ll call him “plain,” if only because I keep typo-ing “Palin” as “Plain,” which I think might better describe Biden than Palin.

Of course, we’re electing a President, not a VP, and I’m only growing more confident that Obama’s the best pick. I’m not even sure that running mates are normally that big a deal. But if I were an undecided voter? Palin, I think, is a superb answer to Obama. He’s new, he’s young, he’s bringing fresh change and excitement and a promise of a “clean” (as in, “Not insanely corrupt”) government. I don’t see any of that in McCain. Palin almost brings a lot of Obama’s qualities, but packaged as a Republican.

Where I think this might make a huge difference is over the sizeable number of people in the center. They might be truly independent, or they might even be center-left Republicans. They’d fed up with George Bush and status quo. They think Obama can change that, but they don’t want to vote Democrat, or they’re scared about what they’ve been told (mostly lies, but I digress) about how Obama’s going to raise taxes, and so forth. McCain claims to be a maverick, but tends to vote in step with Bush. (And enjoyed a birthday party on the airport tarmac with him in the wake of Katrina.) They see a lot of hope and possibility in Obama, but still aren’t keen on voting blue. Palin, I think, can bring a lot of what those people like about Obama into a Republican. And with the two candidates neck-and-neck, it might be enough to let McCain pull ahead.

And then there’s the Hillary-for-McCain people. I really don’t believe that the “Hillary Supporters for McCain” camp is half as big as they make it out to be. And I do not mean to suggest that the average Hillary supporter was a crazy feminist who only supported her because of gender, though that’s kind of how these people are coming across today. But I’m quite sure that McCain’s campaign had these people (what’s the acronym they use again?) on their mind (at the very least, on the back burner) when picking Palin. Not only is she a woman, but she’s going to give them good justification: McCain and Hillary may be diametrically opposed on everything, but Hillary and Palin, while still taking opposite sides on most issues, are at least a little closer on the issues.

So I don’t know enough about Palin yet, but I have to admit that I’m kind of impressed with the little bit I’ve seen. As a Democrat, I’m kind of scared. But as an American, I’m kind of pleased: even if it’s McCain-Palin who take office in 2009, I think 2009-2012 might be better than 2000-2009. But do remember that we’re electing a President, not a VP: while Palin counters a lot of what gives me pause about McCain, I’d still take Obama over McCain.

Campaign Donations

I stumbled across HuffPo’s FundRace, a searchable database of public campaign contributions. (I don’t recall the threshold, but campaign donations above a certain amount must be reported. I’ve given less than $50 to Obama, and thus am not listed, but donations for a few hundred dollars and more do show up.)

You can search by ZIP code, address, name, profession, or employer. (So there is no ambiguity: “Employer” lists the employer of the person who made a donation; it does not mean that the employer was involved in the donation. It’s just part of the reporting.) Some of the more notable things I’ve turned up:

  • Those listing “Apple” (the new, proper name for what was once “Apple Computer”) gave $6,856 to Republicans (9 donors), and $40,421 to Democrats (48 donors). Microsoft was only slightly more balanced, with $97,281 to Republicans (95 people) and $436,236 to Democrats (514 people). Google had $51,327 from Republicans (42), and $337,265 from Democrats (268). Also Vint Cerf, whose accomplishments include things like founding the Internet (at least, moreso than anyone else can claim), works for Google, and was the biggest donor there.
  • George Bush Sr. hasn’t given to any candidates, but has given to numerous PACs, including Sununu’s!
  • William Clinton, whose occupation is listed as “Former President,” gave $2,300 to Obama (in “Q2 2008”). Somewhat amusingly, another William Clinton in VA, whose occupation and employer are blank, gave $2,300 to McCain. (A third William Clinton, a CA attorney, gave $500 to Obama.) Hillary Clinton gave $2,300 to Obama (also in “Q2 2008”). Barack Obama hasn’t made any contributions, but Michelle Obama did give $399 to her husband’s campaign. (That’s all?)
  • They weren’t joking about Hollywood being liberal. Those listing “Actor” as a profession include:
    • Ben Stiller of Los Angeles, $6,900 to Hillary
    • Bette Midler (who I’m pretty sure is an actress, not actor) of Nashville, $6,900 to Hillary.
    • Chevy Chase, of Bedford, NY, $4,600 to Hillary.
    • Ben Affleck of Santa Monica, CA, $4,600 to Obama.
    • Michael Douglas, Universal City, CA, $4,600 to Christopher Dodd.
    • Will Smith, Los Angeles, $4,600, Obama.
    • Matt Damon, Santa Monica, $4,600, Obama.
    • Thomas Hanks, Beverly Hills, $2,300 for Hillary.
    • Samuel Jackson, Los Angeles, $2,300 for Obama.
    • Samuel Waterson [sic] of NYC (better known as Jack McCoy), $2,300 for Obama.
    • Morgan Freeman of NYC, $2,300 to Obama.
    • Adam Sandler of Manchester, NH (!), $2,100 to Giuliani (!!).
    • Ben Stein, Malibu, CA, $800 to McCain
    • Omar Epps (better known as Dr. Foreman), Los Angeles, $2,300, Obama.
  • Actresses is about the same; I’ll let you read it yourself.
  • Those listing their occupation as “Priest” collectively gave $35,351 to the Republicans (51 priests), and $57,222 to the Democrats (99 priests).
  • “Rabbi” isn’t even fair: $18,735 to the Republicans, $115,187 to the Democrats.
  • “Pastor” is the first combination I’ve seen that gives more to the Republicans. America’s pastors gave $205,731 to the Republicans, but only $113,984 to the Democrats.
  • “Minister”s gave $187,799 to the Republicans, and $310,476 to the Democrats.
  • There are actually more than a dozen bishops who have donated money; $7,118 to the Republicans, $11,650 to the Democrats. V. Gene Robinson, of NH fame, gave $500 to Obama. No one lists “Cardinal” as their occupation, and unsurprisingly, there were no Popes in America that contributed to campaigns.
  • 101 people list their occupation as “Captain,” but it’s almost an even split: $32,330 to the Republicans, $30,423 to the Democrats. (Incidentally, “Captain” covers everything from military members to pilots, executives (?) to maritime people…)
  • I was surprised to see that those listing their employer as “US Army” gave more to Democrats than Republicans: $186,724 to the Republicans, but $252,664 to the Democrats. “US Marine Corps” was almost 2:1 in favor of the Republicans, though it’s got only a couple dozen people listed.
  • “Firefighter” is quite close. $61,759 from 100 people to the Republicans, and $58,995 to the Democrats from 111 people. Thus slightly more firefighters donated to the Democratic party, but Republican firefighters donated slightly more.
  • “Police Officer” is quite Republican; $139,229 to the Republicans, and $91,622 to the Democrats.
  • You’ve got red on you [video, only tangentially related]. 5 people listing “Deceased” as their profession collectively gave $7,754 to the Republicans, while only 4 “Deceased” people collectively gave $4,352 to the Democrats. I love the guy at the bottom of the list, who posthumously donated $2 to the RNC.
  • One person lists his occupation as “Prisoner.” He gave $250 to John Kerry in 2004.
  • One person lists her occupation as “Stripper.” She gave $278 to Ron Paul.
  • Of 57 postmasters, 17 gave a net $4,840 to the Republicans, and 30 gave a combined $21,435 to the Democrats. Also, an amusing amount list their address as a PO Box.
  • All 5 of America’s campaign-donating butchers gave their blood-money to the Republicans, a net $6,347.
  • Only 2 nuclear physicists donated to campaigns; $400 to Mike Gravel and $250 to the RNC.
  • America’s only campaign-contributing juggler gave $500 to the DNCs.
  • Two out of three clowns are Democrats. (Umm….) Also, the only Republican clown gave his money in 2004.
  • The guy who lists his occupation as “Santa” and his employer as “North Pole” lives in New Hampshire. (No one lists their occupation as “Tooth Fairy.”
  • 19 people list “God” as their employer: 10 Republicans ($5,460) and 9 Democrats ($2,809). No one who made a campaign contribution in 2004 or 2008 lists “Satan” as their employer.
  • Hairdressers who donate to campaigns are overwhelmingly Democrats.
  • No Astronauts donated to campaigns in 2004 or 2008.
  • Two psychics donated. Both Democrats. Think about that for a minute.
  • Three masseuses donated, also all to Democrats. We’re a more comfortable party.
  • 143 plumbers collectively gave $91,364 to the Republicans, while only 99 plumbers donated to the Democrats ($56,635).
  • Cowboys favor Republicans, though not by as much as you might think.
  • Most of the Red Sox management donate to the Democrats; Curt Schilling is the only player on the list, and he donated $2,300 to McCain.
  • Almost everyone on the Yankees gives to Republicans.
  • “Professional Athlete” doesn’t turn up many names I recognize, besides the aforementioned Curt Schilling. The exception is Peyton Manning, who gave $2,300 to Fred Thompson.
  • Those employed by the NBA have given exclusively to Democrats.
  • Seamstresses have a tendency to go Democrat, though not overwhelmingly.
  • Innkeepers, though, are overwhelmingly Democrat-givers.
  • Beekeepers (all 9 of them) are almost split down the middle.

I think my research is done. I’ll go with the party with fewer zombie contributors, and the backing of two out of three clowns, and the majority of seamstresses. Just don’t tell any butchers. Really, though, what did it for me was seeing who the psychics were supporting.


Have you heard about McCain’s new ad? It’s on his main page, though there seems to be no way to direct-link to it. Somewhat bizarrely, it starts off with video of throngs of cheering Obama supporters, and calls him the biggest celebrity in the world, flashing images of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. (By the way, Paris Hilton apparently had no knowledge she was being used in the ad; using one’s likeness in commercials is generally illegal, though I have no clue if political campaigns are exempted.)

It then goes on to say, “But is he ready to lead?,” before attacking Obama for opposing offshore drilling (I’ll save that rant for another time), but, more significantly, talks about his plan to raise taxes on electricity. Yipes, that’s bad! Raising taxes now? On electricity?!

There’s one problem, though. It’s not at all true.

Newsweek has a good article explaining where McCain’s campaign got the quote about Obama wanting to raise taxes on electricity. In an interview, he was asked, “Have you considered other funding sources, say taxing emerging energy forms, for example, say a penny per kilowatt hour on wind energy?” You can read the quote for yourself, but his answer was essentially that taxing renewable energy was an awful idea; taxing ‘dirty’ energy would make more sense, but even that isn’t the real solution to funding education. And yet, if you quote just one sentence from the middle with no context, you can make it seem like he’s saying that we need to raise taxes on electricity. Except that he was making the exact opposite point.

When Obama’s campaign criticized the ad as baseless FUD, McCain then went on to accuse Obama of “playing the race card.”


I keep hearing people on the right reiterating that “the surge worked,” so that withdrawing from Iraq would be surrendering. To me, this is a non sequitur.

First of all, there’s the simple question of why we’re at war. We went in as a pre-emptive strike against Saddam and his weapons of mass destruction. We took him out, and although we never did find evidence to support that he was building up his WMD arsenal, we did take out a cruel tryant. I’m a little unclear why we’re still there: the Iraqi threat has been neutralized, and Iraq’s got a sovereign government in place. Al Queda keeps coming to try to attack our troops, but the fact that our troops have become targets is hardly a reason to stay in Iraq.

Now here’s the thing! If the Iraqi government wants us to stay, I’m all for allowing our volunteer troops to keep helping them. But it’s being widely reported that they want us out. While I trust this was an unfortunate accident, it suggests that Iraq has wanted us to leave for some time: “It also bolstered calls from Iraqi politicians to pressure the American military to leave Iraq after this year, when a United Nations mandate expires, unless the United States agrees to permit its soldiers to be subject to criminal prosecution under Iraqi law for attacks on civilians.”

I’d ask: if we’re at war, who are we at war with? It’s the Iraq War, but we’re supposed to be helping Iraq. We’ve taken out Saddam, and most of the violence is directed at our troops: staying in Iraq isn’t going to fix anything.

It’s not “surrendering” or “giving up” to recognize that you achieved your goal a long time ago, and that all you’re doing now is making things worse. It sounds great to try to attack your opponent for that, but it’s simply not true.

For the love of God, and all that is holy!

Do you guys recall Obama’s “fist bump” with his wife when he clinched the nomination? It was a big hit with younger Obama fans.

It was not a big fan with E.D. Hill, a Fox News anchor who called it a “terrorist fist jab,” as I was just reading about. That’s not the real concern, though. I just rolled my eyes at that.

What really concerns me is the “news contributor” Liz Trotta who suggested that Obama should be assassinated.

Are you serious?! How the hell is that acceptable? Can you imagine how outaged everyone would be if a CNN anchor joked that someone should shoot McCain? It would be incredibly inappropriate.

Fight the Smears

The last paper I ever wrote in college was for my Power and Propaganda course, and addressed the propaganda being hurled against Obama. One thing I addressed was that many of the criticisms of him were blatant lies. It’d be like if I started posting here that John McCain said, “Thank God for the Nazis!” and President Bush met with McCain and used “the N-word” to refer to Obama. Total fabrications as part of a smear campaign.

The problem is that they work. I’m going from memory, but if memory serves me correctly, 13% of people in a recent poll said that they thought Obama was a Muslim. Soon it was being reported that he was sworn in on the Qu’ran, too. Of course, the Muslim rumors would soon be contradicted by trying to label him racist because his pastor said some crazy things, and the fact that he was sworn in on the Qu’ran would be refuted by photographs showing him with his hand on the Bible when being sworn in.

Obama Singing the National AnthemThere was also the big row over the photograph of him “refusing to say the pledge,” with some versions of the chain letter or website alleging that he refuses to do it for religion reasons; one even said that he didn’t know the words. In actuality, Obama was singing the national anthem, as a video of the event shows.

There’s another one about him hiding his birth certificate because he’s not actually a citizen. (If you want to get technical, John McCain is the one who wasn’t born in the US… Though it’d be asinine to argue that he’s not a US citizen because he was born on a US military base.)

The Obama campaign has finally launched Fight the Smears, a page refuting the utter falsehoods against him. The latest one seems to be alleging a videotape of Michelle Obama using the word “whitey.” Frankly, I could see this being done in a non-racist manner, but it’s a moot point, because none of the <sarcasm>reputable</sarcasm> sources claiming to have seen / possessing the tape have released it, and because one person has some pointed allegations of exactly where the tape was filmed, most of which seem fabricated.

It’s totally cool with me if you’d prefer to vote for McCain. (Well, I’d still disagree, but I’d at least respect that you had a rational difference of opinion.) Obama isn’t a Muslim, terrorist, or unpatriotic. John McCain isn’t a rapist and he doesn’t eat babies for breakfast. In a time when the truth is so sorely missing, can we please try to stick to reality this election?


While looking at job postings on Craiglist, I somehow ended up at Craig Newmark’s personal blog. (He founded Craigslist.) He linked to this YouTube video.

For some reason I’m reminded of Hillary’s tall tale of ducking sniper fire. I respect McCain as a decorated soldier and a Senator who understands bipartanship, but after eight years of the Commander in Chief misleading* us about Iraq, I’d really prefer to not elect a president who will do more of the same.

* Whether it was intentional lies or him being fed false information I’m not sure, but either way, we were misled.

Obama Wins!

Ed.: Because the blogs have been slow, and because this is a hot topic, I’ve fudged the date on this to appear to have been published two days later, so it will stay on the main page a bit longer.

Obama LogoIt looks like Obama is the Democratic nominee, while Hillary Clinton, the woman who has twice alluded to Obama being assassinated (okay, the first time was a speaker at her event, not her), has conceded that she’d be open to running as his VP.

I’d be happier with an Obama-Richardson ticket, but people are calling Obama-Clinton the fastest way to try to heal the wounds this election cycle saw. In her defense, if she doesn’t get him assassinated, she’d make an excellent VP.

Needless to say, I’ll be watching the news tonight for what may be two very historic speeches: Obama’s victory speech and Hillary’s concession speech. (It seems like it was just weeks ago that Obama gave his “concession speech” that was anything but a concession speech, in New Hampshire, which led to the Yes We Can Song.)

The AP story is hot off the press, and many MSM outlets aren’t carrying it yet. Whether that’s because the polls don’t close for two hours, because it’s not factual, or just because MSM isn’t as obsessed with checking Google News as I am remains to be seen.

Update: It seems that Hillary hasn’t conceded quite yet. Honestly, I’m not sure how the AP is so sure that Obama’s won yet.

Update 2: USA Today has a good piece suggesting that, while Obama might do it tonight, it’s still about 30 delegates premature. And they also have this good article on exactly how the AP story was put together.

Update 3: You can follow the whole Google News thread.

I Can’t Take It!

Rusty and I were just talking about the recent decision by the Democratic party and how we’re going to count delegates from the two states, which has left both sides somewhat unhappy.

But then we kind of realized that no one is talking about the real issues? I don’t particularly care how we seat delegates. The whole system sucks, and I hope after 2008 is over we can overhaul the way the DNC works. And I kind of had an epiphany: I feel like I’m trapped in this country, a faded emblem that used to be a beacon of prosperity and freedom.

Let’s talk about some things that actually matter.

  • I paid $53 to put gas in my car yesterday. It’s increasingly tempting to get a hybrid, but they’re in short supply. Not because they’re in high demand (though they are), but because not many are produced. American auto’s only hybrid seems to be the Ford Escape hybrid. (I refuse to count GMC’s “greenest” SUV that gets 20MPG.) A question on Ask MetaFilter today called my attention to the fact that they’re basically impossible to get, with the dealer he went to telling him flat-out that they wouldn’t order one for him. BTW, Ford just announced a $3 billion plant in Mexico.
  • We are the only civilized country in the world that doesn’t have universal health care. Americans are running into massive debt because they got sick. The typical response, beneath it all, seems to be a survival-of-the-fittest mentality that if you get cancer and go bankrupt paying for your treatment, it sucks to be you. Attempts to reform the system are consistently subverted by cries of “socialized medicine” without ever presenting a legitimate claim, just the catch phrase? (And there’s a good point to be made about how this is costing us huge money in less-obvious areas.)
  • If you come to see homosexuality as something that isn’t ‘wrong’ or ‘bad,’ opposition to gay marriage seems appallingly bigoted. I really don’t think opposing gay marriage is any different than opposing interracial marriage.
  • College is $40,000 a year. Schools throughout our country are failing. To quote, well, everyone, No Child Left Behind has left plenty of people behind.
  • Veterans are returning home and getting next to no support, or staying in ramshackle hospitals. Support our troops! Anyone? Those who oppose sending young Americans—my peers; people I went to school with; maybe me if I was born into a different family—to die in someone else’s civil war are branded as unpatriotic and not supporting our troops by the same people who can’t be bothered to waste money caring for our returning soldiers?
  • The United States economy is tanking. It probably has something to do with the fact that our schools are being surpassed by countries around the globe, that our post-9/11 xenophobia has resulted in immigration policies forcing college students who come here from abroad to leave our country, and that our health care costs are through the roof.

The thing is, I really love this country. But all around me I see signs of our great nation crumbling. At times I almost feel trapped. Can we please stop focusing on the things Republicans and Democrats disagree on, and instead work on getting things done? We all love America, want our troops to be cared for, want our schools to be the best, want to get treated in hospitals, and want our economy to thrive. Working with two parties seems to keep us from ever getting anything done, because all we can ever do is disagree. But why does it have to be that way? We all want the same things deep down. Can’t we take our different viewpoints and use them to our advantage, crafting solutions that appease both of us?

Enough Already!

I used to have a great deal of respect for Bill Clinton. Sure, the Monica Lewinksy scandal wasn’t so great, and I was pretty peeved at how many people he pardoned on his way out. But overall, I thought he did a good job, and his continuing work on charitable causes painted a picture of a man who truly cares about helping the world.

The more he campaigns for his wife, the more I think he’s a loose cannon who may have developed mad cow. Besides all the occasions of him flipping out, this news article (with a ludicrously long URL) says it all. His Sunday speech in South Dakota accused the media of some sort of vast conspiracy against his wife, and suggested that McCain will win if Hillary isn’t nominated. (Which is odd since most polls I’ve seen suggest the opposite: we need Obama if we’re going to beat McCain.

I also used to think it was premature and tasteless to try to suggest that she had to withdraw from the campaign. I’d have loved to have seen her withdraw and give her approval to Obama, but I thought it was inappropriate for people to call her to do so. But there are increasing calls for her to do just that, and I think the time has come. Unless she finishes big in June, she’s going to seal her fate, and it’s important that she, as the linked article says, withdraws while she still has some dignity left. Between her husband’s increasingly paranoid-sounding angry speeches, and her comment about Bobby Kennedy being killed*, which still hasn’t blown over, she’s already attracting a lot of negative sentiment, and I don’t think it’s going to get any better. I can’t find the link, but a few vocal people in New York are suggesting that, if/when she loses and goes back to being a Senator, she’s going to have a lot of wounds to heal first.

As Wikipedians would say, it’s time for her to withdraw under WP:SNOW. Wait until the next round of elections, but if she doesn’t finish big, it’s time she gracefully withdraws and urges her followers to cut out the business of promising to vote for McCain if she doesn’t get the nomination. Otherwise, she’s going to fracture the Democratic party, humiliate herself, put John McCain in office, and be hated for 20 years.

* While campaigning in New Hampshire, someone speaking at an event before she arrived said something to the effect of, “Some have compared Obama to JFK… But let’s not forget what happened to him.” Hillary seemed to be genuinely horrified when she was told about the remark, but still… Double references to Kennedys being killed, both times insinuating that the same might just happen to Obama…?