Friday, October 31, 2008

The ad

Trustworthy. Honest. Practical. Emotional. Empathetic. Hopeful. Understanding. Safe. Thoughtful. Knowledgeable.


Early media feedback on Barack Obama's 30-minute commercial American Stories, American Solutions:

A Chronicle of Despair, A Promise of Change - The Nation:

But, except for the theater of the live finish from Florida, this was not Obama the inspirational orator.

Rather, the Obama who came into the homes of tens of millions of Americans less than a week before election day was a calm, reassuring, dare-we-say presidential figure speaking from a room that looked vaguely like the Oval Office.

He was self-deprecating -- "I will not be a perfect president."

He was self-referencing -- "I know what its like to see a loved one suffer, not just because they are sick, but because of a broken health care system."

But he was, most of all, a candidate who wanted the people who are about to decide his political fate to know that he understands that there is really just one issue in the waning days of the 2008 campaign: an economy that is now officially in crisis but that long ago stopped working for millions of working Americans.

Quick Take: Obama looks polished, presidential in 30-minute ad - Dallas News:
In his most polished performance yet, Barack Obama looked presidential, like a man who loves his family and country...

...Mr. Obama flawlessly used his 30 minutes. If he wins over only a handful of voters, it was millions of dollars well spent.

The Ad Campaign: An Obama Infomercial, Big, Glossy and Almost Unavoidable
- New York Times:
But at other times, the infomercial appeared to serve perhaps a safer, workmanlike purpose. With no attacks on Mr. McCain or his running mate, it was largely in keeping with Mr. Obama's strategic imperative this year: Make voters comfortable with the idea of him in the Oval Office while at the same time presenting him as a candidate who can connect with everyday, middle-class voters struggling through the toughest economic times in generations.

Report Card: Did Obama's Primetime Pitch Make the Grade? - ABC News:
ABC News' Chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos said the infomercial, which cost more than $3 million, was worth "just about every penny."

ObamaVision: An Appeal to the Masses - Washington Post:
As political filmmaking, "Barack Obama: American Stories" was an elegant combination of pictures, sounds, voices and music designed not so much to sell America on Barack Obama as to communicate a sensibility. The film conveyed feelings, not facts -- specifically, a simulation of how it would feel to live in an America with Barack Obama in the White House. The tone and texture recalled the "morning in America" campaign film made on behalf of Ronald Reagan, a work designed to give the audience a sense of security and satisfaction; things are going to be all right...

...Although McCain was not seen during the half-hour, one could easily summon the contrasting image of the Republican while watching Obama. McCain has come across on television as relatively worried, whiny, fusty and falsely folksy. He brought bad news; he has come to epitomize and personify it. Obama brings you medication along with the list of symptoms; he has developed a great bedside, as well as fireside, manner.

It was the easiest thing in the world, watching the skillfully edited hodgepodge put together by his campaign, to picture Obama as president. That's one thing the film was designed to do, especially for the doubters and those scared, "undecided" voters out there.

"The Ad" - Report from a Philly Bar - Daily Kos:
When it was done, people applauded. Yes. Applauded a political ad.

Will Barack Obama's 30-minute infomercial influence your vote?
- MSNBC Newsvine:

I looked through the first few pages of this poll a few hours after the ad aired. 43% of people said the ad would influence their vote, 53% said it would not. Of those who said it would not, the vast majority said that they had already made up their minds to vote - and many had already voted - for Obama. Of those who said it would influence their vote, the vast majority said it made them feel really good about the choice they had made - of Obama.

I counted only 13 anti-Obama comments out of the the 300 comments I reviewed. Not bad!

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Don't vote! (part 2)

Actually, you really should vote... because 537 votes made the difference in 2000. Every single vote matters.

Now send this to 5 more of your friends.


PS: Just for good measure, have a couple of extra vids for free. For some strange reason both these videos made me cry. I am way too invested in the results of this election. *sigh*

Alaska Women Hold Surprise Event for Obama:

MC Yogi: Obama '08 - Vote for Hope:

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Monday, October 27, 2008

What their shoes say about the candidates

Condoleezza Rice. Remember when Condi Rice was said to have been shoe shopping at Ferragamo's on Fifth Avenue while New Orleans drowned?

The story goes that three days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall and breached the levees, Ms Rice was on holiday in New York spending several thousand dollars on shoes. In the midst of footwear heaven she was approached by an irate woman who yelled "How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless!" Ms Rice is said to have had security remove the angry shopper from the store.

John McCain in the cheese aisle. Remember when McCain's $520 Ferragamo loafers made the news? John McCain and his expensive shoes in the cheese aisle talking to "ordinary people" about the price of milk (with cue cards to remind him how much a gallon of milk actually costs).

John McCain and George HW Bush on a golf cart - with Ferragamo loafers. That was the week Obama was off on his overseas trip, speaking to a crowd of 200,000 in Berlin, while McCain was stuck on a golf cart with Bush Senior - looking for all the world like an out-of-touch old geezer ready for retirement.

Then there was Sarah Palin and her $150,000 clothes bill. That one just ran and ran for days and days... maybe I'll just remind you how the story went:

Now let's look at Barack Obama's shoes. This is part of a wonderful photo collection by Callie Shell called Obama:

Senator Obama was doing press interviews by telephone in a holding room between events. Sometime later as he was getting ready to begin his event, he asked me if I was photographing his shoes. When I said yes, he told me that he had already had them resoled once since he entered the race a year earlier. Providence, R.I., 3/1/2008.

So let me see...

We have Condi Rice spending thousands in shoes as New Orleans and its people are drowning. We have John McCain in $520 Ferragamo loafers talking to "real people" about the price of milk. We have the Republican Party spending more on Sarah Palin's wardrobe in 3 months than an average family would spend in a lifetime...

...and we have Barack Obama in shoes with holes in them that he's already had resoled once - and which he's been wearing for at least a year.

Who's most in touch with ordinary people again?

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

The circular firing squad draws ever tighter

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) holds a campaign rally in Woodbridge, Virginia.
Oh boy. In typical "rats leaving the sinking ship" fashion, former Bush speechwriter David Frum has launched a major broadside against John McCain's current tactics - while at the same time warning his readers of the dire consequences of a Democratically-controlled White House, Senate and Congress. Sorry, Senator. Let's Salvage What We Can.

There are many ways to lose a presidential election. John McCain is losing in a way that threatens to take the entire Republican Party down with him...

...The very same campaign strategy that has belatedly mobilized the Republican core has alienated and offended the great national middle, which was the only place where the 2008 election could have been won.

McCain's awful campaign is having awful consequences down the ballot. I spoke a little while ago to a senior Republican House member. "There is not a safe Republican seat in the country," he warned. "I don't mean that we're going to lose all of them. But we could lose any of them."

Deary me. Not looking too good as far as Frum is concerned, is it? Well, he's hardly the only Republican to have either crossed over or joined the circular firing squad over the past few weeks - but he is a fairly high-profile one...

In these last days before the vote, Republicans need to face some strategic realities. Our resources are limited, and our message is failing. We cannot fight on all fronts. We are cannibalizing races that we must win and probably can win in order to help a national campaign that is almost certainly lost. In these final 10 days, our goal should be: senators first.

Frum's basic argument is that McCain is losing - badly - and he's dragging the rest of the Republicans up for election down with him. Not a difficult conclusion to draw, but I have to say it's quite refreshing to see it drawn with such clarity by such a high-profile Republican.

His article concludes with two pieces of advice for the McCain campaign. Firstly, that all spare cash should now go into helping GOP senators survive in their races, rather than to shore up the dying McCain campaign itself, and secondly that this week's message should be an acknowlegement that Obama's gonna win - combined with dire warnings of the horrors of "one-party, left-wing government."

It's what he writes in between in terms of those 'dire warnings' that is quite outrageous. This is what Frum imagines will happen in America if the Democrats win everything. He sees two "unique dangers":
First, with the financial meltdown, the federal government is now acquiring a huge ownership stake in the nation's financial system. It will be immensely tempting to officeholders in Washington to use that stake for political ends -- to reward friends and punish enemies. One-party government, of course, will intensify those temptations.

Second, the political culture of the Democratic Party has changed over the past decade. There's a fierce new anger among many liberal Democrats, a more militant style and an angry intolerance of dissent and criticism. This is the culture of the left-wing blogosphere and MSNBC's evening line-up -- and soon, it will be the culture of important political institutions in Washington.

Unchecked, this angry new wing of the Democratic Party will seek to stifle opposition by changing the rules of the political game. Some will want to silence conservative talk radio by tightening regulation of the airwaves via the misleadingly named "fairness doctrine"; others may seek to police the activities of right-leaning think tanks by a stricter interpretation of what is tax-deductible and what is not.

Wow. Projection, much, Mr Frum?

What David Frum is terrified of is that the Democratic party - should they gain control of the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate - will turn around and start behaving EXACTLY as the Republicans behaved in the six out of eight Bush years when they ruled everything. Except of course I don't recall him shrieking in horror at the unfairness of it all when that was the case.

to reward friends and punish enemies - what - you mean like Blackwater, Halliburton, Big Oil, lobbyists, the Department of Justice and Hurricane Katrina "heckuva job" Brownie?

The comments following Frum's missive are extremely enlightning. Seems I'm not the only one who sees Frum as being in the throes of an uncontrollably Freudian defence mechanism. Here are a few picked at random:

gdtrfb wrote:
I can't speak for anybody else, but if the republican party would like to salvage my vote - either at the top of the ticket, or down the ballot - they need to offer something more than 'We think the democrats are going to do what we did' as justification.

EGB1 wrote:
Politics is indeed remarkable. Mr. Frum is already whining about (imaginary) suppression of dissent by Democrats; this from one who is an echo chamber for an administration and its underlying mob that have specialized in dishonesty and the suppression of dissent: the firing of federal prosecutors for political reasons, the near-violent shouting down of opposition in the Murdoch media whose job it is to stir up the right-wing street bullies of their foreign master who regrettably washed up on American shores, the relegation of Christopher Buckley for exercising his conscience, the outing of Valerie Plame and so much more.

Mr. Frum, your crowd has taken this country as far as I (at age 63) have ever seen it dragged from its founding principles. Torture. Domestic spying. Integration of church and state. These have been a frightening eight years.

Now you march in step with Davis, Rove and Schmidt - the power-at-all-cost crew - to foment fear of an administration as yet unelected for what you imagine it will do. I would say "shame," except I have seen in this campaign that the word has no meaning to your cohorts.

The bankrupt, incorrect and naive economic policies of your ideologues have brought us to the brink of ruin. Have the decency to put your country first and encourage others to do so. Show some courage.

lee18 wrote:
Dear Mr. Frumm,
It is encouraging to read of a Republican who attempts to tell the truth, but you have not yet seen, or admitted all of the facts. John McCain threatens to take down the Republican Party, and seems willing to divide the US irreconcilably as he does it. He is not putting country first, but last, after his political ambitions. McCain is beyond Palinizing his campaign; it now offers only lies, distractions and incitement that can only be described as despicable.

One has to reach to the Watergate era to see GOP numbers so bad, but the Republicans have wrought more damage in that last 8 years than did Nixon. The danger and damage to the US has come from Republicans, the Bush administration, wielding extraordinary and dangerous power, in defiance of our own constitution and our international agreements.

You are afraid that the Democratic Party will seek to stifle opposition by changing the rules of the political game? Where were you for the first 6 years of Bush, when Republicans acknowledged and practiced these very objectives? Could the “fierce new anger among Democrats” be in reaction to the militant style and an angry intolerance of the Republicans over the last 16 years?

Republicans are afraid that Obama will increase taxes? Bush taxed us all indirectly by reducing the value of the dollar, our homes, our investments and our retirement savings. McCain, and the Republicans, know that the Bush deficits cannot be continued, but both rant on about Obama raising taxes. The only way out is to restore fiscal responsibility and the last president to do so was a Democrat, achieved with Republican cooperation.

McCain, and the Republicans, know we need to work together to address the problems bestowed on us by Bush, but that is not the role you propose a role for your party. The role of the Republicans is not, as you propose, to control enough seats for a filibuster, or offer false incitements against repairing health, education and retirement programs("the dangers of left-wing government", Obama is a socialist, etc.), but to work with the incoming administration to the benefit of the United States. Perhaps you will be able to rebuild the Republican Party when it acknowledges the damage it has done, contributes to repair the damage, and really does put Country First.

bobx2 wrote:
I believe Mr. Frum could have made the point more succinctly by simply saying, "Dear God, I hope the Democrats don't treat us as shabbily as we have treated them in the past thirty years." (Christian Republicans see The Holy Bible, New Testament, ref. "The Golden Rule").

Those of us who read newspapers are quite aware, Mr. Frum's list of concerns reads right out of the Republican party playbook, and the maniacal scribblings of the likes of Rove, Gingrich and Abramoff.

Given the consistently atrocious, incompetent and mean-spirited behavior of the Republican party - and the author's professional career of promoting it - perhaps the best place for Mr. Frum to begin his long and arduous path to redemption is for him to lie awake at night, preferably in a pool of his own sweat, and fear some guilt-induced illusion of the "evil" Democrats thinking up ways to send Mr. Frum, and his friends, on an all-expense paid trip to some secret neocon torture facility.

Relax, Mr. Frum. Democrats have never been as you have painted them - no matter how well paid you were to do so.

ubicomp wrote:
Oh, this is rich. A member of the political party solely responsible for the utter polarization of politics over the past 10-15 years (read: Republicans) is warning of the extreme left wing domination of the Democratic Party. If anything, the Democratic party has jogged toward to middle. How does that metaphor about people in glass houses go??

I think Republicans at this point should be doing some soul searching about how good the religious right is to your cause, and what sort of blatant hypocrisy it introduces to your party's platform. Your ideals of conservatism are being bastardized by religious zealots, and you all don't really seem to care because the alliance with them gets you a bloc of votes. It's a rather unholy alliance, if you ask me. Less government, eh? Not when it comes to social issues... then you're more than happy to champion discriminatory legislation. The alliance with the religious right warps and undermines the entire definition of what conservatism is supposed to be.

dmls2000 wrote:
David, you reap what you sow.

hoeya wrote:
How dare you accuse Democrats of being angry when that's been the sole basis for Republicans for more than a decade. Who do the Democrats have who are as angry as Limbaugh, Hannity, or O'Reilly? Are you upset that Democrats are sick of being called anti-American? Hey, go read the Constitution. Disagreeing with the ruling party or our president is a right. I'm not the one subverting the Constitution; your boys Bush and Cheney, supported by a Republican Congress have been doing that for years, so, yeah, I'm angry. I'm angry at seeing the basis for our democracy obliterated by the politics of fear; I'm angry at being called anti-American when, from where I stand, the truly anti-Americans are members in good standing of the Republican party.

B2O2 wrote:
It's a reasonable piece in general, and even as a liberal I can concede his point about the value of having some voice in Washington to keep the dominant party in check. But I wonder if anyone noticed the following flat-out INCREDIBLE sentence?

"There's a fierce new anger among many liberal Democrats, a more militant style and an angry intolerance of dissent and criticism."

An "angry intolerance of dissent and criticism". I am holding that statement up and just marveling at all the ways that the light of truth glints off of its delusional irony. How Mr. Frum can utter this statement with anything approaching a straight face after the last eight years is simply dumbfounding. For the past crucial eight years of our history, anyone who questioned ANY of George Bush's thousand awful, ignorant, arrogant, ill-informed, crony-serving, flat-out genocidal and just basically DISASTROUS decisions had their patriotism questioned, and were called "friends of Saddam" or Al Qaida sympathisers. We were told by the angry Hitlerian-putsch mob of Bush supporters to "go to Europe" if we didn't like the way things were being run here. We were told we didn't support the troops because we didn't support the way they were being abused. We were told we were anti-American because we objected to becoming citizens of a torture state. We were chastized for not supporting a president who by international standards has committed war crimes. Intolerance of dissent, Mr. Frum? YOU are daring to tell me something about that?

Mr. Frum needs his head examined, and he may want to have someone take a look at his soul while he's in the shop. Perhaps he doesn't yet have an inkling of what has happened during the last eight years. THAT, Mr. Frum is the first step in rehabilitating your discredited party. You might work on THAT before worrying about the relatively minor issue of how your campaign money is spread around.

sellio4291 wrote:
Irony thy name is David Frum.

In related news...

The Telegraph in the UK reports that Republican fears of historic Obama landslide unleash civil war for the future of the party:
The prospect of an electoral rout has unleashed a bitter bout of recriminations both within the McCain campaign and the wider conservative movement, over who is to blame and what should be done to salvage the party's future...

...The prospect of defeat has unleashed what insiders describe as an "every man for himself" culture within the McCain campaign, with aides in a "circular firing squad" as blame is assigned...

...Other Republicans have jumped ship completely. Ken Adelman, a Pentagon adviser on the Iraq war, Matthew Dowd, who was Mr Bush's chief re-election strategist, and Scott McClellan, Mr Bush's former press secretary, have all endorsed Mr Obama.

The Republican presidential candidate John McCain is upset with the way some of his supporters appear to have conceded defeat. The Telegraph also has a piece entitled John McCain loses temper with defeatist aides as he vows to fight to the last - which doesn't bode well for Frum's suggestion that he give all his campaign money to his senators:
In heated exchanges the Republican presidential candidate made clear that he will not tolerate the blame game that some of his aides have engaged in over the last week as Barack Obama retains a comfortable lead in national and swing state polls.

Mr McCain's aides have been labelled "incontinent" for leaks last week that revealed falling morale in his inner circle and mutual recriminations about his lacklustre campaign.

The Observer in the UK says Republicans fear long exile in the wilderness:
Some Republicans believe John McCain should adopt a more positive approach to campaigning. The flipside of that [a Democratic landslide] is a potentially devastating Republican loss. If current polling holds true, the party may be reduced to its core support in the solid red heartland that runs through Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia and other southern and western states. That would trigger a profound crisis for a party that just three years ago was basking in the afterglow of a convincing presidential win and dreaming of creating a 'permanent majority'.

Now that same Republican party could face a prolonged period in the political wilderness, working out how to appeal to an American public that seems prepared to send a pro-life, black senator from Chicago to the White House and reject a conservative Republican war hero.

...while E J Dionne Jr in the Washington Post speaks of Civil War on the Right:
These conservatives deserve credit for acknowledging how ill-suited Palin is for high office. But what we see here is a deep split between parts of the conservative elite and much of the rank and file.

For years, many of the elite conservatives were happy to harvest the votes of devout Christians and gun owners by waging a phony class war against "liberal elitists" and "leftist intellectuals." Suddenly, the conservative writers are discovering that the very anti-intellectualism their side courted and encouraged has begun to consume their movement.

Mind you, I'm guessing McCain can't be too happy at the moment anyway - what with all the reports of Sarah Palin "going rogue" on him...

McCain and Palin embrace awkwardly at a campaign rally.

CNN - Palin's 'going rogue,' McCain aide says:
With 10 days until Election Day, long-brewing tensions between GOP vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin and key aides to Sen. John McCain have become so intense, they are spilling out in public, sources say.

Several McCain advisers have suggested to CNN that they have become increasingly frustrated with what one aide described as Palin "going rogue."

A Palin associate, however, said the candidate is simply trying to "bust free" of what she believes was a damaging and mismanaged roll-out.

Politico - Palin allies report rising camp tension:
Even as John McCain and Sarah Palin scramble to close the gap in the final days of the 2008 election, stirrings of a Palin insurgency are complicating the campaign's already-tense internal dynamics.

Four Republicans close to Palin said she has decided increasingly to disregard the advice of the former Bush aides tasked to handle her, creating occasionally tense situations as she travels the country with them. Those Palin supporters, inside the campaign and out, said Palin blames her handlers for a botched rollout and a tarnished public image — even as others in McCain's camp blame the pick of the relatively inexperienced Alaska governor, and her public performance, for McCain's decline.

And now, to add insult to injury, The Anchorage Daily News has endorsed Barack Obama, saying of their own Sarah Palin:
Yet despite her formidable gifts, few who have worked closely with the governor would argue she is truly ready to assume command of the most important, powerful nation on earth. To step in and juggle the demands of an economic meltdown, two deadly wars and a deteriorating climate crisis would stretch the governor beyond her range. Like picking Sen. McCain for president, putting her one 72-year-old heartbeat from the leadership of the free world is just too risky at this time.

The two largest papers in McCain's home state - the Arizona Republic and the Arizona Daily Star - have yet to announce who they're endorsing. They must be thinking really hard...

Editor & Publisher is keeping a running tally of newspaper endorsements - so far Obama has been endorsed by 134 daily newspapers, with more than 15 million daily circulation total, while McCain has 52 daily newspapers, with more than 4,139,700 daily circulation total. At least 32 papers have now switched to Obama from Bush in 2004, with just four flipping to McCain.

There's a lovely interactive map showing Newspaper Endorsements in the 2008 US Presidential Election - nice work, infochimps! They have a blog post about it too.

It must really suck being John McCain or Sarah Palin these days.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Republicans for Obama - in their own words

There's a wonderful piece in HuffPo today by Eric Hirshberg, who has been making a documentary project called Conservatives for Change. I'll let him explain a bit about the project:

There are a number of people in my life -- some family, some friends, some colleagues -- with whom I have never agreed upon anything political. Ever. These are my political opposites. My bizarre-o twins. And they have been my adversaries in countless debates; the kind nobody ever wins, but nobody ever seems to tire of, either...

...But over the last few months, something unprecedented has happened. Almost all these folks have told me that, for the first time ever, they are voting for the same candidate I am: Barack Obama.

Now, these are not casual conservatives. These are people who, each in their own way, are deeply committed to their conservative beliefs. For most, this will be the first time they have voted for a Democrat in their entire lives. And when taken as a whole, they represent a fair cross section of the Republican Party. Some younger, some older. Some fiscally driven, some culturally driven. But almost all, up until now, have been intractable. Yet here we all are, staring down the barrel of a remarkably nasty presidential election, all in a rare moment of agreement. I figured this simply could not be an anomaly. Perhaps this was a groundswell.

I started asking around and found a number of my liberal friends were having a similar experience. So we asked these folks if they would appear on camera and share with the world why they changed. It seemed to me that the most convincing argument a conservative on the fence could hear might not come from a liberal, or even from Obama himself, but instead, from one of their own; a conservative who had crossed over. So we turned on the camera, and they did the rest.

I find this such a moving piece of video.

Hirshberg is right when he says, "these were more than interviews. These were confessions." These are unscripted pieces, by real people, talking about what it is about McCain that has made them decide not to vote for him - and what it is about Obama that has made them decide to cross over (many for the first time ever) and vote for him instead. It makes for very powerful and emotional viewing.

Seems to me that Obama may be the prefect man at the perfect time.

If Bush hadn't been such an unmitigated disaster, things might have been different. McCain was always going to have an uphill battle to try and distance himself from Bush when he's running for the same party - and has voted with Bush 90% of the time.

But that 10% could have made a difference, particularly with McCain's whole POW/hero/maverick thing going on. And for a long while many Republicans (and some independents and Democrats) seemed to be cool with that, and appeared to be feeling positive about McCain.

But then the McCain campaign seemed to take a wrong turn, and then another, and another.

The Palin pick was an obvious - and enormously important - turning point for many people I think. She's so extreme, and so completely inexperienced, and her part in the campaign has been so mean, and so nasty, that I think it stopped a whole swathe of moderate Republicans, independents and Democrats-for-Hillary in their tracks, and made them think very seriously about the consequences of their vote.

But even then things might have worked out for McCain. After all, Palin had energised the base, and brought the fundamentalists and the neo-cons back into the fold. But then came the economic crisis - and really, that's just about the absolute worst crisis that McCain could have faced, seeing as he's famously said on more than one occasion that economics is not his strong suit.

Continuing that whole "fundamentals of the economy are strong" schtick on the day that Lehman Brothers went belly-up, Merrill Lynch had to be rescued by Bank of America, and insurer AIG went under was a huge mistake in retrospect - and his ridiculous "campaign suspension" to rush off and save the economy (which of course he conspicuously failed to do) was the final nail in the coffin of the people's trust in McCain with regards to all things monetary.

But even with all this flailing around and falling apart of the McCain campaign in recent weeks (including the increasingly negative tone it's been taking), there would still have been (and still are) an enormous number of Republicans supporting him. Because he's the Republican, and that's what you do - you support your guy.

Which is where Obama comes in.

It seems to me that if Obama hadn't been Obama, if he hadn't been the calm, steady, inclusive, fiercely intelligent and thoughtful man that he is, the video on this page could never have been made.

If he hadn't somehow been able to reach out and connect with people on the other side of the aisle, this video could never have been made. If he hadn't in some undefinable way felt trustworthy, or if he hadn't had the ability to make people feel safe, this video could never have been made. And if he hadn't looked so darned Presidential in the debates, and if the contrast between his demeanour and McCain's when viewed side by side hadn't been such a vast and yawning gulf - this video could never have been made.

If he hadn't been this man, with this character, and this intellect, this background and this ability to think strategically; see the big picture; and listen to, talk with and empathise with people all across the political spectrum - this video could never have been made.

I have no doubt that the next 12 days will bring many unexpected plot twists (this whole campaign has felt like a crazy soap opera, after all!). I have no doubt that those in power will not give it up lightly or without a fight. I have no doubt that the negativity will get worse, the lies will get bigger and more outrageous, the tactics will get even dirtier than they are now.

I believe in fate. I believe that some things are Meant to Be. I know that some things in my own life have happened for a reason, and have been the result of so many little twists and turns and coincidences that it certainly feels to me as though they were supposed to happen all along.

I have no idea who will win in the end. I wouldn't dare speculate the way I would like to speculate - 12 days is a long time, and anything could happen - and probably will. It ain't over till the fat lady sings, and all that.

But what I will say is that - right at this precise moment in time, as I sit here writing this - it feels to me as though there's a groundswell of understanding amongst more and more people - and the potential is there for the winds of change to take shape and blow through America, with Barack Obama in the centre - the calm after the storm.

I'd like to give the people who took part in this project a standing ovation. Thank you so much for telling your stories, from the heart. Thank you for being so honest. And more than anything, thank you for thinking about your decision, for weighing up the pros and cons, and for choosing to vote the way that you feel is best for the country.

Thank you Josh, Bob, Eric, Jason, Lora, Jonathan, Kristin and everyone else who made this happen. You can see more of their interviews at Conservatives for Change.


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Monday, October 20, 2008

Colin Powell endorses Barack Obama!!!

Today on Meet the Press Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama as President of the United States of America.


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Obama campaign raised over $150 million in September!!

The Obama/Biden campaign raised a record-breaking $150,000,000+ in September.

150 MILLION dollars.

Over 632,000 new donors - biggest month ever.

3.1 million total donors.

Average contribution for the month was under $100.

Average contribution for the entire campaign is around $86.

The groups that have given the most contributions are retirees and students.

Obama campaign September fundraising details - with video from David Plouffe

Obama 'Hope' poster by Robert Indiana.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Not "pro-America"? Not "real"? "Anti-American"? Let me show you what's real...

It's pretty clear the latest Republican smear-meme is insinuating that large swathes of America are apparently either insufficiently "pro-America" (according to Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin), or not "real" (so says Republican spokeswoman Nancy Pfotenhauer).

In addition, Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota believes that Congress is full of "anti-Americans" (she means the Democrats, of course) - and therefore presumably she believes that over half of America is anti-American as well.

Oh - and a couple of weeks ago Joe McCain called those who live in Northern Virginia "communists".

Sarah Palin on "the real America", the "very patriotic, very pro-America" parts of the country:

Nancy Pfotenhauer on "real" Virginia (hint: it's not the part that favours Obama):

Michele Bachman on "anti-Americans" such as Barack and Michelle Obama and a whole bunch of as-yet unidentified subversives in Congress:

Joe McCain (John's brother) on those parts of northern Virginia that he considers to be "communist":

I don't need to waste my time refuting these nasty, divisive, toxic comments by a dying campaign so desperate to win it will seemingly stop at nothing - or if not to win, then to damage the country so badly that the winner will have an awful 4 years trying to put it back together again. It's sad and pathetic and I think you can see that quite clearly for yourself.

Let me instead, show you what I think is "real":

These 100,000 people who came to see Obama in St Louis today are pretty real:

A crowd of 100,000 at the Obama rally in St Louis, MO, October 18, 2008.

A crowd of 100,000 at the Obama rally in St Louis, MO, October 18, 2008.

A crowd of 100,000 at the Obama rally in St Louis, MO, October 18, 2008.

A crowd of 100,000 at the Obama rally in St Louis, MO, October 18, 2008.

Obama greets some of the 100,000-strong crowd at a rally in St Louis, MO, October 18, 2008.

The 75,000 people who came to Obama's Kansas City rally today are pretty real, too:

A crowd of 75,000 at the Obama rally in Kansas City, MO, October 18, 2008.

A crowd of 75,000 at the Obama rally in Kansas City, MO, October 18, 2008.

A crowd of 75,000 at the Obama rally in Kansas City, MO, October 18, 2008.

So - Sarah, Nancy, Michele and Joe - do you think these rallies were held in a non-pro-American part of the country? Maybe the huge crowds in St Louis and Kansas City were anti-American? Is this part of Missouri, in fact, real - or not real at all?

Perhaps those 175,000 people were socialists and communists (rather than Democrats and Independents and disaffected Republicans) because they support Obama - because that seems to be what you're all saying at the moment.

I would guess that the 100,000 people in St Louis and the 75,000 people in Kansas City would probably disagree, though.

Oh - and in case you're wondering what John McCain was up to today, he was at a rally in Concord, NC. There were 7,000 people in attendance.

How's that negative campaigning working out for ya, John?

Useful links:

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Michele Bachmann to Congress: are you now, or have you ever been... anti-American?

Woah. The spirit of Joseph McCarthy is alive and well and spewing his divisive rhetoric through the mouth of Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann.

In an interview on Hardball with Chris Matthews, she began by repeating the latest GOP talking points - but went waaaay waaay over the edge into the realms of pure nutbar-ism. To his credit, Matthews seemed content to let her dig the hole she was in ever deeper (or he simply gave her enough rope and let her do the rest) - or maybe he was just so shocked by what she was saying, that he truly couldn't think straight.

I wish he'd pulled himself together and repudiated some of the crap she was spouting, but perhaps it's better this way - because the interview allowed Bachmann to show her true colours. And they were not pretty.

She said:

If we look at the collection of friends that Barack Obama has had in his life, it calls into question what Barack Obama's true beliefs and values and thoughts are...

...Remember it was Michele Obama who said she is only recently proud of her country and so these are very anti-American views. That's not the way that most Americans feel about our country. Most Americans are wild about America and they are very concerned to have a president who doesn't share those values.

Wow. So Barack and Michelle are anti-American in her view. That's pretty strong language to use about a US Senator and his wife, not to mention the fact that this same "anti-American" US Senator happens to be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.

She went further after Matthews pressed her to name a single member of Congress other than Obama who she thought was anti-American...
What I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating exposé and take a look. I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out if they are pro-America or anti-America.

Holy shit. So she's calling for a McCarthyist witch-hunt through Congress to determine which of your elected representatives are "anti-American"???

See for yourself:

Bachmann's interview on Hardball was followed by comments from Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Nation who was visibly upset and extremely angry about what Bachmann had been saying:

There is an extremism unleashed in this nation which you just heard on this programme, which could lead to violence and hatred and toxicity. And against the backdrop of the Great Depression we're living through, could lead - and I don't use this word lightly - to a kind of American fascism which is against the great values of this nation and which people like that are fomenting.

Holy moley! Katrina used the F-word when referring to Bachmann's views! Not that she doesn't deserve it (she does).

I think it's interesting that Bachmann's "anti-American" schtick seems to mirror (or perhaps complement) Sarah Palin's recent comments in her rallies about "pro-American" parts of the country. From the Washington Post:
Palin also made a point of mentioning that she loved to visit the "pro-America" areas of the country, of which North Carolina is one. No word on which states she views as unpatriotic.

Interestingly enough, Michele Bachmann is up for re-election to Congress in Minnesota's 6th District this year.

You might like to visit her TownHall blog and read her views for yourself. She's an evangelical Christian, by the way, who believes that God told her to stand for Congress. You might also like to visit Dump Michele Bachmann - a local Minnesota blog which has been keeping a close eye on Bachmann for the past four years - and who don't like what they see.

While you're at it, you might like to visit the website of her opponent, Democrat Elwyn Tinklenberg and see if you prefer his views.

Poll numbers released by the DCCC on Thursday show Bachmann leading Tinklenberg by only 4 points, at 42% to 38%. The poll also showed her approval rating at a paltry 34%. That's not great news for an incumbent (in fact it's awful) - so awful in fact that the DCCC has just added Tinklenberg to its Red to Blue list of targeted House races. In a statement announcing the decision, DCCC chairman Chris Van Hollen said:
El Tinklenberg has worked hard to make his race competitive, and he's moving into position to win. With a solid campaign organization and strong momentum in the district, El Tinklenberg has proven that he has what it takes to defeat Rep. Michele Bachmann.

The Minnesota Independent reports that, in response:
The National Republican Congressional Committee has scaled back its TV ad buys in the Twin Cities metro for Republican Erik Paulsen, who is running in a tight race with DFLer Ashwin Madia. At the same time, the NRCC is buying ads for Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann who faces a challenge from Elwyn Tinklenberg.

The NRCC will cancel a week of ads on WCCO and has scaled back on KARE. The committee also bought $126,000 in ad time for Bachmann from October 20 to election day.

Less than 15 hours ago, when Stiffa and thereisnospoon at Daily Kos first diaried Bachmann's outrageous comments, El Tinklenberg's ActBlue page was standing at a sad little $2,500 in donations. I'm checking the page as I write - and it currently stands at $98,309 raised from 2,393 supporters. And that's just ActBlue! Goodness only knows how much more has been donated to Tinklenberg via his own website donations page!

Feel free to make your own contribution to El in the hope of facilitating Bachmann's demise. You might also like to head on over to Censure Michele Bachmann and sign their petition to ask Congress to censure Michele Bachmann for her unconscionable comments. The last thing America needs in these troubled times is some lunatic stirring up yet more hatred and division - especially when that lunatic is (currently) a member of Congress.

To paraphrase Joseph Nye Welch's comments to Joe McCarthy during the Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954:

Until this moment, Congresswoman, I think I never gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. Let us not denigrate Democrats and liberals further, Congresswoman. You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, madam, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?

Here's some media coverage on Bachmann's chanelling of Joe McCarthy's "Are you now, or have you ever been...?

And last but not least - a diary on Daily Kos from Elwyn Tinklenberg himself, thanking the netroots for their part in publicising Bachmann's, er, unfortunate comments - and thereby raising for Mr T what must be well over $100,000 by now:Kossacks, Thank You
The last few hours have been nothing short of astounding. Since Congresswoman Michele Bachmann appeared on MSNBC's Hardball earlier tonight, there's been a deluge of support unlike anything we have seen. We are so grateful to the Daily Kos community and others who've sounded the alarm on Bachmann's extremist, shameful rhetoric and pitched in with whatever they can to help end her tenure in Congress.

Our phones haven't stopped ringing. Many have called in to say they're sorry they can only send money and wish they could be here to help. We want you to know what a difference your funds are making and that, thanks in part to your help, we are confident that we will be able to win this race. We are preparing to get out the vote on an unprecedented scale, and with supporters like you we will have the resources we need to get the job done.

I am both hopeful and humbled at the reminder you gave me tonight - that in our country's darkest times, it is the strength and belief and action of ordinary Americans that ultimately brings about the change we need. From the hardworking folks in Minnesota’s Sixth District to all of you: we are proud to have you on our side.

Thank you,

El Tinklenberg

Go get her, El!

UPDATE 19/10/08: 24 hours after Bachmann appeared on Hardball, the Elwyn Tinklenberg campaign announced that they had received $488,127.30 from across the country in campaign donations as a direct result of her extremist comments.

Holy hell! $488,127.30 in 24 hours! That's $20,338.64 per hour, or $338.98 per minute, or $5.65 per second.

Or, to put it another way...

Michele Bachmann's interview on Hardball lasted a total of 13 minutes. So for each minute that she spoke, she raised $37,548.25 - that's $625.80 per second - for her opponent. That's gotta be some kind of record!

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Memo to John McCain: Never blow off a talk show host - the G Gordon Liddy edition


I almost feel sorry for John McCain.

Okay, I lied. I don't feel sorry for him at all, Karma's a bitch, eh John?

Not content with endlessly going after McCain following his "I have to cancel the show, Dave! The economy needs saving!" debacle, Dave Letterman crushed the Senator from Arizona like a bug in his show last night.

Here's Keith Olbermann's take on it:

And here's a bit more on the G Gordon Liddy grilling - ouch! Check out McCain's "deer in the headlights" moment after Letterman asks him whether Liddy hosted a house party for McCain (he did):

I'll let Carl Bernstein tell you a little more about the relationship between G Gordon Liddy and John McCain:

Does John McCain "pal around with terrorists?"

Certainly McCain's continuing "association" and relationship with the convicted Watergate burglar and domestic terrorist G. Gordon Liddy might suggest that is the case, if we are to apply the standards drawn by the McCain campaign.

In 1998, Liddy gave a fundraiser in his Scottsdale, Arizona home for McCain's senatorial re-election campaign -- the two posed for photographs together; and as recently as May, 2007, as a presidential candidate, McCain was a guest on Liddy's syndicated radio show. Inexplicably, McCain heaped praise on his host's values. During the segment, McCain said he was "proud" of Liddy, and praised Liddy's "adherence to the principles and philosophies that keep our nation great."

Which of Liddy's "principles and philosophies" was McCain referring to? Liddy's advocacy of break-ins? Firebombings? Assassinations? Kidnappings? Taking target practice with figures nicknamed Bill and Hillary?

During the same period that Bill Ayers was a member of the Weather Underground, Gordon Liddy was making plans to firebomb a Washington think tank, assassinate a prominent journalist, undertake the Watergate burglary, break into the office of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist, and kidnap anti-war protesters at the 1972 Republican convention.

Re: Liddy's "continued success and adherence to the principles and philosophies that keep our nation great:" Did McCain mean to include Liddy's instructions to listeners of his radio show in 1994 (around the time Ayres and Obama were on a board together discussing education programs and other plots) on how to shoot Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms agents (aim for the head)?

If ATF agents attempt to curtail a citizen's gun ownership, Liddy counseled, "Well, if the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms comes to disarm you and they are bearing arms, resist them with arms. Go for a head shot; they're going to be wearing bulletproof vests."

More recently, Liddy explained making the Clintons objects of shooting practice: "I did relate that on the 4th of July of last year, when I and my family and some friends were out firing away at a properly-constructed rifle range and we ran out of targets, and so we - I drew some stick figure targets and I thought we ought to give them names. So I named them Bill and Hillary, thought it might improve my aim. It didn't. My aim is good anyway. Now, having said that, I accept no responsibility for somebody shooting up the White House."

And in case you've forgotten, here's how Letterman reacted on his show the day that McCain was a no-show:

Media commentary on last night's McCain mauling:

More background on McCain's relationship with G Gordon Liddy:

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