Saturday, October 25, 2008

Praying for Palin in 2012

I'm thinking of converting to a religion because I want to pray to some divinity for the Republicans to nominate Sarah Palin for the presidency in 2012.

But it's hard.

Do I convert to a religion like Christianity, Islam, or Judaism and pray to one all-powerful divinity?

That seems sort of dicey. What if there are lots of gods and praying to one offends all the others? What if none of these accounts of the one god are the one true account? How do you tell which account of the one god is true and which account is false?

Sheesh, investing in monotheism seems even more tricky than investing in the stock market.

In some ways, praying to lots of Gods seems to be the safest bet but polytheism is generally associated with animal sacrifice. But my dog is barking in protest even as I write. Good dog! Good dog!

Hey! I know how I'll solve the problem. I'll follow the example of the McCain campaign and just make up a lot of stuff about the God I want to pray to.

Anyway, I'm praying for Palin.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Hoax in Political Context

On Thursday as the Ashlie Todd Hoax story was breaking, John Moody, the over-caffeinated vice-president of Fox News, wrote the following:
If the incident turns out to be a hoax, Senator McCain’s quest for the presidency is over, forever linked to race-baiting.
That's far from being the case. McCain's not dead yet and events could shake up an election that can appear set in concrete. Likewise, there are decent polls like GWU/Battleground which have Obama ahead but also have McCain leads within their margin of error.

But the Ashlie Todd Hoax story does get at a fundamental problem of constant bad news that is dogging McCain.

With Obama off the campaign trail while visiting his sick grandmother in Hawaii, McCain could use the breathing space to focus attention on his message.

But there's been a steady stream of minor distractions that have kept that from happening.

First, it was Sarah Palin and her $150,000 wardrobe

Then, brother Joe McCain made an idiot of himself by calling 911 over stalled traffic.

And finally the Ashlie Todd story.

The report on Todd being mugged and disfigured was originally flagged by Matt Drudge in an effort to help McCain. But the whole incident has focused attention on the McCain campaign in a negative way and distracted from McCain's message.

You can't stick a fork in John McCain just yet, but he certainly is not going to make much progress as long as his campaign keeps shooting itself in the foot.

RSI's Prediction: Obama 53, McCain 45

This is how I see the election turning out. Actually, I'm somewhat conflicted in that I view the numbers as working out to a six point Obama win even though my gut tells me it could be higher.

But there are some principles of variance.

Obama and McCain are going to add up to 99% of the vote

I believe that Obama currently has a 6 point lead that could be an 8 point lead.

At a six point lead, it would be Obama 51, McCain 45, Others (Barr, Nader, McKinney) 1% and undecided 3%.

Eight points would looke like Obama 52, McCain 44, etc.

Give Obama one point for enthusiasm and turnout and one point for his share of the undecideds. Subtract a point for "buyers remorse" among whites. That's a one point plus for Obama. If he has a 6 point lead now, that would put him at 52. If he's up by eight, that would be 53 with an electoral college vote well into the 300's.

Give McCain two points for undecided voters but subtract two points for discouraged conservative turnout. Add a point to McCain for"buyers remorse" among whites. That gives McCain a plus one altogether.

In other words, I think everything is going to cancel out and Obama's lead is going to stay the same over the next 12 days.

If it's Obama +6 right now, the final outcome would be Obama 52, McCain 46. If it's Obama +8, it would be Obama 53, McCain 45. I'm more comfortable with Obama 53, McCain 45.

The Woman with the Backwards B

Yesterday, there was a story of a McCain campaign worker who had been mugged by a "dark-skinned" black guy who then carved a backward "B" into her cheek after he saw her McCain sticker.

To her credit, right-wing columnist Michelle Malkin flags this case as a likely hoax.

The most prominent female conservative columnist now that Ann Coulter's lost her mojo, Malkin thinks the "B" could have been carved backwards because the young woman did it herself. She also wonders why the "B" could be so neatly and clinically done in the context of a mugging.

What makes me suspicious is that it's a "B" at all. What people identify with Barack Obama is his exotic-sounding last name. Barack Obama's much more of an "O" than a "B."

What if the young woman's story doesn't pan out? Well, she would need a lot of help.

But we'll have to see first.

Update: It appears that the young woman has confessed that the incident was indeed a hoax. Very unfortunate.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Palin Puff--Today's Drag for Tomorrow's Queen

Marc Ambinder of the Atlantic is already puffing Sarah Palin for 2012 even though she hasn't finished dragging John McCain down in 2008.

Sarah Palin is the drag queen of American presidential politics. Palin is a constant testimony to John McCain's poor decision-making. She knows less about American politics and policy than a lot of college freshmen. She's more of a drag on the presidential candidate than Spiro Agnew, Geraldine Ferraro, and Dan Quayle.

And they're already puffing her for next time?

Well, bring her on.

Joe Klein Super-Puffer

In an article out this morning, Time magazine super-star Joe Klein fits Barack Obama for a place on Mount Rushmore. As is usually the case with Klein, supersizing Obama is a way to supersize himself as well. But despite all the gushing, Klein's argument is basically accurate. Obama is cool under pressure and showed strong political instincts in dealing with Iraq, Afghanistan, and the financial meltdown. Likewise, the ways he's handled McCain during the debates has also shown that Obama has a really steely character underneath the inspirational surface.

A general comment on Obama. If Obama wins on Nov. 4, he will have beaten the two strongest politicians he could have faced--John McCain and Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton got a lot stronger after her February meltdown, but Obama was able to claw back and maintain the slim lead he had earned in states like Iowa, Wisconsin, and Virginia. At the end of the long game with Hillary, he was able to pull out an impressive win in North Carolina.

What's happening with McCain is a little different. I've seen some recent footage of McCain on the stump. He's looking a lot better as a speaker than he did in June and has become a formidable candidate even as he's revealed his weaknesses. What we have now is John McCain at his best even though he's severely hobbled by having Sarah Palin as a VP pick.

However, Obama has improved even more than McCain. What the second and third debates showed was that Obama was better than McCain at his best.

In this sense, what's most impressive about Obama to me is that he's either beaten or is beating such high quality opposition.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

McCain Blows His Finances

According to the Politico, the McCain campaign has dropped their attack ads and have now devoted their entire 83 million dollars on buying clothes for Sarah Palin.

Well, not quite.

But the McCain campaign has shelled out $150,000 in "accessory" payments, primarily to buy clothes, make-up, and the like for Sarah Palin.

That's a lot of fashion for a woman who's "just folks."

Update: It appears that the evil Matthew Yglesias has scooped me yet again.

Everybody Loves Sarah

One of the things I've noticed is that everybody has been happy with Sarah Palin over the last two days.

The Republicans are happy with her because she draws big crowds, fires up the base, and gets after Barack Obama and Joe Biden. For Moe Lane, a diarist at, the energy of Palin's attacks on the Democrats reminds him of "why we all did our happy dance when McCain picked Palin."

But the Democrats might have an even bigger case of happy feet because the Palin nomination is proving to be such a huge drag on John McCain's candidacy. Ameriblog and TPM flag an item in today's NBC/Wall St. Journal poll indicating that the number one concern voters have about John McCain is his nomination of someone so obviously unqualified as Palin for VP.
Now, Palin's qualifications to be president rank as voters' top concern about McCain's candidacy -- ahead of continuing President Bush's policies, enacting economic policies that only benefit the rich and keeping too high of a troop presence in Iraq.

What's even better for the left is that the talk has already started about the Republican Party nominating Sarah Palin for president in 2012.

Talk about manna from heavy.

But the people who must be happiest about Sarah Palin are the good citizens of Alaska who are glad that Palin isn't spending much time in the state anymore.

Plato as Queer Theorist?

Somebody must have already written on this, but I was wondering yesterday if Plato wasn't a queer theory and "Western civilization" as conservatives know it isn't rooted in queer theory.

The crux would be whether Plato's concept of the Idea is connected to homoerotic ideas concerning the beauty of young teenage boys.

Homosexuality as a powerful ideal during Plato's time as reflected in his own comments in the Republic and military models like "The Sacred Band of Thebes." The Sacred Band of Thebes was a military unit made up of pairs of male lovers that was the core of Thebes' military prowess during the period of Theban military ascendancy in the 370's.

Conversely, Plato's rejection of "family" is thoroughgoing. Plato certainly dispenses with the "family" model of the Olympian gods. In The Republic, Plato also imagines a city where Guardian children aren't raised in families. Indeed, families aren't allowed to be created in Plato's ideal city at all and love in viewed as the ultimate source of tyranny.

Perhaps he started with the contemplation of boys as he worked out his alternative view of the contemplation of the Ideal.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Does the Right Think Obama's a "Socialist"

To be honest, I don't think so in most cases.

My impression of conservatives is that their name-calling is more of a form of "identity politics" than anything else. A big chunk of right-wing culture is bound up in the politics of gestures like wearing an American flag lapel pin, flying a flag, or sticking Support the Troops bumper stickers on cars. Far from indicating a love of country, this kind of symbolism is mostly about asserting a conservative identity and declaring a person's opposition to what they view as liberalism. In other words, the patriotic displays of conservatives are more about conservative identity politics than anything else. If anything, these kinds of patriotic displays represent the strong sense of ambivalence conservatives have over having to share the United States with liberals and (non-conservative) minorities.

The intensive name-calling of Barack Obama by conservatives should be understood along the same lines. Certainly, some people on the right believe that Obama is a socialist according to their very loose definitions of socialism. In the same way, I imagine that the poor woman at the McCain rally who thought Obama was an Arab was being serious.

But the connection between the insult and the reality doesn't concern most people on the right.

That's because calling Obama a "socialist," "terrorist," "traitor" or "Muslim" is more a way for conservatives to assert their identity as conservatives than anything else. In other words, conservatives are not making a claim about Obama so much as they're making a claim about themselves being the kind of person who would insult Obama in these ways. It's the gesture itself that counts rather than the reference of the gesture to any reality.

In a way, conservatives seem to enjoy these kinds of gestures more to the extent that they don't refer to anything outside themselves. In saying something that is rude or inflammatory, people on the right are indicating the social taboos that they're willing to violate in order to assert their conservatism. Once again, give that conservative identity is constructed primarily in opposition to white liberals and all the taboos of "political correctness" that liberals and their minority allies are viewed as enforcing, breaking those of taboos is an especially pleasurable way to reaffirm a person's allegiance to the conservative cause.

From the point of view of many conservatives, "truth" is just another taboo that they are glad to violate. If they can come up with one fact that vindicates the insult (say Obama's middle name of Hussein), that's more than enough to justify the "socialist" or "terrorist" accusation from the conservative point of view. They don't care whether Obama actually is a socialist or terrorist or not. Indeed, the fact that Obama is not a socialist gives a special relish to enunciating the insult.

So how should people on the left respond?

My opinion is that we on the left should focus on criticizing the phony, dishonest, character of the gesture rather than waste our time denying that Barack Obama is a socialist, terrorist, or traitor. In doing so, we get at more of the truth of what conservatives are saying.

No Tears for Mr. Blackwell

The famous Mr. Blackwell, the guy who started the celebrity put-down industry with his "Worst-Dressed List," died yesterday at 86.

It's hard for anybody to die but I have little sympathy for Mr. Richard Blackwell.

Originally published in 1960 after Blackwell failed as an actor, his "Worst Dressed List" grew from a clever bit of bitchiness to a nasty annual ritual, a principle attraction of Oscar night with Joan Rivers, and finally an on-going gig for the "entertainment news" specialists like Kat Giantis.
It's an ugly business that's become a major public abuse ritual in our ugly public culture.

I wouldn't want to be remembered for starting it all.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The RSI Family: A Proud One Millionth

Barack Obama raised $150,000,000 and recruited 610,000 new donors. Of course, a substantial part of that money could be called the Sarah Palin Prevention Fund. A lot of people don't want to see Sara Palin get any closer to the White House than her current address in Wassila, Alaska.

The RSI family is proud to claim that we contributed $150 or so. That makes us a proud one millionth of the solution.

Panic Over Powell Endorsement

Today, Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama for president. I'm not particularly impressed. Like the dollar, Colin Powell used to be an inflated currency that has since fallen on hard times.

But if I were a conservative, I would be in a state of panic.

If a guy who lied about Iraq before the UN and blithely discussed torture techniques is supporting Obama, who's left to bolster McCain.