Tuesday, September 30, 2008

DOJ Investigation Returns To Graves and now Bond

It seems the politicizing of the Justice Department has some ramifications in Missouri.

(Via K.C. Star)

- Murphy

A Little Bit Of Context

Floyd Norris of The New York Times tonight on Charlie Rose just noted that in today's stock collapse $1.2 trillion of value disappeared.  One of the largest dollar-figure drops in history.

That collapse occurred due to the market's reaction to the failure of the rescue package.

The number bandied about since Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's proposed package has been circling $700 billion.

The great protectors of the market, a.k.a. the House Republican, balked at signing off on a plan that had a $700 billion tag laid on it, a figure no one could really verify, pin down or stand behind. As a result, $1.2 trillion in value vanished in a matter of hours.

Had the bill passed, the normal legislative and executive process would take over and things would have continued, the market would have likely responded positively and the process of trying to untangle this gordian knot would proceed. The $700 billion figure is a fixation, but the final figures are unknowable at this point. A steady, but slow, accumulation of selected assets through this bill may have allowed the private investors to return in confidence, thus reducing the need for government intervention. 

Now, however, we are perhaps worse off that we were had there been no vote at all. How many of the Republican members' assets were part of that $1.2 trillion that evaporated thanks to their inaction?

- Murphy

Monday, September 29, 2008

Whip It Good

Missouri's own Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Springfield) blamed Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) speech today for turning key Republican votes against the financial rescue package. Even the 12 members he thought he had whipped in line bailed on the bill.

It's worth noting that Blunt is the Republican whip in the house, charged with bringing members in-line when the leadership (of which he is a part) decides to press an issue.

An issue, perhaps, like the package President George W. Bush, Republican Presidential candidate John McCain and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) all promised would pass with the support of their Republican colleagues in the House. 

Sen. McCain went so far this morning as to remind voters that he went so far as to suspend his campaign for President, in order to go back to Washington and help hammer out a deal (which he believed in taking credit for this morning, but since the vote has been incommunicado on the subject).

After two-thirds of the Republicans in the House bailed on the bill, Boehner and others tried to place the blame squarely on Pelosi whose speech (read the transcript here) emphasized the role deregulation and Republican support for pulling economic oversight played in the economic catastrophe before us. It was a rebuke to Republican policies, to be sure. And even perhaps badly timed (it couldn't have hurt to wait until after the vote?). 

Yet if the Republican members had been serious about supporting the bill, in the belief it was the correct move, than it certainly should not have dissuaded them.

In fact, it looks more likely that a majority of Republican members were not happy with the bill and after not convincing their leadership that their alternative (assuming they had a practical one and not simply the "insurance" plan) was preferable to amended Bush-Paulson proposal, they decided to deep-six the entire deal.

Where does that leave the markets and the American voters? With the greatest one-day point drop in stock market history and greater uncertainty for the workers and business owners who are wondering where their retirement funds went and whether they will be able to maintain the lines of credit necessary to allow their businesses to continue.

There was an unattributed comment circulated late last week that said, essentially, "better to risk a Great Depression, than sacrifice the 'free market'". I guess we can chalk it up to the Republican members of the 110th Congress.

- Murphy

Saturday, September 27, 2008

McCain May Want To Look Away

Despite the general consensus that the debate was "soporific" draw, it is hard to look back at it and not see it as a win for Sen. Barack Obama.

While it did not provide the fireworks many were hoping for, on both the substantive and stylistic fronts, the meeting explained much.

Much of the McCain campaign has been about defining Obama as unserious, unprepared and inexperienced. In fact, after stripping away McCain's own confusing mix of proposals and rants, his entire campaign is based around attacking Obama on those terms.

Last night Obama deftly dealt with those attacks, excepting the experience issue. Yet even there he deflected those attacks by again raising the question of judgment.

The inexperience issue may still be "operative" but as conservative commentator George Will wrote in a column criticizing McCain's tempestuous temperament and questioning his fitness to be President, "Unreadiness can be corrected, although perhaps at great cost, by experience. Can a dismaying temperament be fixed?"

McCain pushed his experience and tried to deflect Republican-fatigue by wrapping himself in the "Maverick" flag-even calling himself a Maverick, violating rule one of being a Maverick-but can that overcome a steady effort by the Obama campaign to highlight McCain's record of supporting President George W. Bush (a.k.a. He Who Will Not Be Named) 90% of the time?

Last night Obama looked composed, prepared, respectful and ready. In a word, he showed the voters he was "Presidential" material. The voters seemed to respond positively:

- Murphy

Secret Ninja Threat?

What is the deal with The Riverfront Times' Best Of issue? Every page or so there is an inexplicable photo women dressed in martial arts gear posed for big trouble in River City.

The only apparent theme of the photos is that they are all staged at prominent St. Louis locations. There is no relation to either A. St. Louis or B. the categories-the title pages of which are also bedazzled by a weapon-wielding warrior.

Is this some sort of quick-response action team drafted to protect St. Louis landmarks? Is there some sort of ninja threat that is being kept from the public? 

Where is Public Safety Director Charles Bryson and his Department? Are he and the board of Police Commissioners camped out in the emergency command center carved out below the World War I memorial downtown, reviewing the complete Bruce Lee library in an effort to cut off the shadow warriors at the pass?

If this is the case, shouldn't the RFT be putting its crackerjack news department on the case rather than hand over the paper to its ad department? (Though they are known for their sick sword handling) I mean they are all about shining a gimlet eye on the powers-that-be, right?

- Murphy

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Nuge As McCartney's Bodyguard?

In times we find ourselves overtopped with weirdness, we can always export our surplus...

Rebellious rocker, avid 2nd amendment supporter and fervent anti-jihadist, Ted Nugent has volunteered to be Paul McCartney's bodyguard at an upcoming concert in Israel.

British paper The Guardian reports that the former Beatle has yet to respond to the well-armed rocker's offer, which comes in the wake of death threats aimed at McCartney.

- Murphy

Monday, September 22, 2008

Republican Mayor For Nixon

In the deep red heart of St. Charles lies St. Peters. Home to lots of quick stops and extra-lane intersections, the town is also a major source of blue-collar Republicans; folks who voted for Reagan and never looked back. 

Attorney General Jay Nixon, Democratic candidate for the gubernatorial mansion, has been basing a great deal of his campaign on winning back those voters who have gone heavily Red in national races, but do vote blue in local races-provided they believe the candidate is one of them.

In what may be a boost in that campaign, the Mayor of St. Peters, Len Pagano, has endorsed Nixon.

Middle-class families and small businesses in towns like mine across Missouri are hurting these days, and Jay Nixon is the only candidate for Governor with a real plan to turn our economy around. As Attorney General, Jay has gone after companies that broke promises to keep jobs in Missouri, and as Governor, he will prioritize education and workforce development to bring new employers to the state.
Congressman Hulshof just doesn't get it, but Jay Nixon does, and that's why I am breaking with my party to support him this November. I urge you to join me by writing your local newspapers in support of Jay's plan to turn Missouri's economy around.

Pagano was elected in April of this year.

- Murphy

The Indefatigable Ed Martin

Does he keep it in a safe by his bed? Locked in a vial in a safety deposit box? Where does Martin keep the time machine that allows him to slip from role to role in a shorter period than most post-grad interns could manage.

Martin's latest hat is that of a cable-access political commentator on Charter's CCIN. Called Midwest Talking Points, the show will take a look at Missouri political news. (Via Pub Def).

Though less a technocratic libertarian than a conservative barrister, Martin may be the Newt Gingrich of Missouri.

Politician, advisor, advocate and commentator; Martin is there.

- Murphy

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fiorina's Out?

CNN is reporting that Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO and top McCain campaign official, is likely to drop from view for the next few weeks. 

The likely cause of her disappearance follows her comments to journalists on two occasions that Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin could not run a major corporation; something Fiorina did for a number of, sometimes tumultuous, years. On her second comment she tried to temper the perceived slight by adding that neither Republican candidate John McCain nor Democratic nominee Barack Obama could run a major corporation either.

Fiorina originally told St. Louis radio host McGraw Milhaven on Monday that Palin couldn't run a corporation. She then compounded her move by expanding on it to Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC this morning.

It was a bad slip and an even worse recovery. When a major figure in your campaign-who also happens to have been a very successful businesswoman who broke into one of the oldest boys clubs by being the first female head of a Fortune 20 company-says both the head and the number two members of the presidential ticket don't have what it takes to run a major company, that just hands two days of media to the Democrats. And who knows how many campaign ads.

Republicans have long used the imagery of government as a "business" in order to shore up their many business-beholden candidates. Remember President George W. Bush's "CEO President" line? Having a genuinely successful business executive (as opposed to a mediocre CEO like Bush, or the series of former government officials who leave the public sphere to land in well-packaged executive slots in friendly companies like McCain's former economic advisor Phil Gramm) cut down your candidates business acumen-not once, but twice-is a sharp blow.

Fiorina herself was once seen as being on the short list for McCain's VP slot. She has been very public as a McCain surrogate including debating Sen. Claire McCaskill-long a Obama supporter-on ABC's This Week this past Sunday.

Her less than convincing arguments on Sunday, combined with her recent slip, perhaps explains why Palin-who appears eminently scriptable-got the nod instead. 

Of course, there is also the fact that she is an ambitious, strong, capable and successful woman who made her mark in a world dominated by men. But that wouldn't factor into their thinking at all...right? Palin was clearly the most capable Republican woman available to run.

- Murphy

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Spore Spreads

One of the most talked about game has been the recently release Spore. A game where players create characters and set them lose in worlds where they are allowed to evolve. Perhaps a gamers' blend of intelligent design and evolution.

Not being a gamer myself, I doubt that I will play the game myself, but the interest the game's "evolution" component has me intrigued.

The next-generation software earned it a discussion on NPR's Science Friday show. Host Joe Palka spoke with evolutionary biologists and the game's creators. While they focused on the possibility of encouraging gamers to learn to think about their relation with the world around them via their characters, the substance of the idea seemed a bit thin.  More sales pitch than revolution.

While science fans geek out over the integration of sophisticated evolutionary modeling programs with mass-marketed consumer software, the real question is: do people enjoy it?

The Washington Post's tech columnist, Mike Musgrove, reports that reviews of the gameplay are mixed, but that the game maker's anti-piracy efforts have set off the strongest opinions. Musgrove says players generally enjoy the game, but that it fell short of other games it appeared to borrow ideas from, such as the famous SimCity, which Spore's creators also designed.

Cult of Mac writer Leigh McMullen also gave it mixed reviews; enjoyable, but didn't have the hook other games of its ilk such as World of Warcraft, Civilization and Sims.

Players who enjoy the strategy/role-playing genre of games are, unsurprisingly, demanding. Someone willing to involve themselves in a game that can potentially become a "second life" are looking for a lot.

The aspect of integrating software that allows game characters to evolve is not new. While the creators of Spore have brought new code to the process, the basics remain the same. 

Three years in the making, the game has landed with a lot of news, but time will tell if it can compete; not only with World of Warcraft and the others, but the creators own classic SimCity.

- Murphy

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

New Obama Ad Calls Out McCain-Palin On "Reformer" Claim

The Obama campaign has released a new ad that takes on the "Maverick" label the McCain-Palin campaign has embraced. The ad is expected to run in battleground states starting today.

Funny enough, it hits on exactly a point I wanted to write about.

That the McCain-Palin campaign has shown great chutzpa in running wild with the "reformer" label. Neither Sen. John McCain-especially in the last eight years-or Gov. Sarah Palin could truly take on the mantle with a straight face if they had any shred of respect for the voters.

McCain's campaign was made up almost entirely of major lobbyists, while Palin racked up millions of dollars in earmarks as a Mayor and hundreds of millions as a governor.

They have hoped to breeze through the last 60 days by dodging scruitiny (though 5 seconds on Google would blow a hole in their camapaign rhetoric), but given that even the Wall Street Journal (not exactly a liberal bastion) is starting to call them on their eggregious reshaping of the truth, their damn isn't likely to hold for long.

- Murphy

No New Missouri Polls Yet

While it appears there is a wave of new polling coming out of some battleground states (Ohio and Virginia, for example), there is little news from Missouri.

All we can currently go on were polls that showed a steady lead for McCain
(48% to 44%) right into the beginning of August. If the convention bounce that is showing up in national polls trickles down to us (as it is likely to do) then it is hard to see that gap narrowing at all.

I have to again say that if anyone is seeking in-depth, insightful coverage of political polling-from the latest results to what it means-Pollster.com is the place to go. I say this mostly because I lean on them for a great deal of coverage. They maintain an up-to-date list of the latest polls, run aggregate numbers and analyze what's going on behind the numbers. It's like having your own private pollster.

- Murphy

Monday, September 08, 2008

Why Georgia Really Means...

Recent events in the caucuses has meant that Georgia may mean more than Bulldog football for many Americans.

The effort by the Eurasian nation of Georgia to repatriate the breakaway region of South Ossetia by force and its consequent rebuffing by Russian forces (claiming to stand in defense of Ossetian independence), has reignited concerns about Russian efforts to reassert itself in the world, and has injected itself into U.S. Presidential politics.

Following Russia's brushing aside of the U.S.-advised Georgian forces (one thousand U.S. troops were in-country training the Georgian military only months ago), and their de-facto control of the country, the subject has, surprisingly, drifted off the cable news tickers and newspaper front pages.

Despite the quiet, the Russian-Georgian conflict represents a shift in the power and influence that has yet to be absorbed by many in this country.

George Friedman, of the private intelligence group Stratfor, has penned a fascinating and quick read in the New York Review of Books that lays out why Georgia really matters, and what it says about the state of American power in the world.

...the United States, along with other countries, has viewed Russia through the prism of the 1990s, when its military was in shambles and its government was paralyzed. The United States has not seen Russia make a decisive military move beyond its borders since the Afghan war of the 1970s and 1980s. The Russians had systematically avoided such moves for years. The United States had assumed that they would not risk the consequences of an invasion. 
If that was the case, then it points to the central reality of this situation: the Russians had changed dramatically, along with the balance of power in the region. They welcomed the opportunity to drive home the new reality, which was that they could invade Georgia, and the United States and Europe could not meaningfully respond. They did not view the invasion as risky. Militarily, there was no force to counter them. Economically, Russia is an energy exporter doing quite well—indeed, the Europeans need Russian energy even more than the Russians need to sell it to them. Politically, as we shall see, the Americans need the Russians more than the Russians need the Americans. Moscow's calculus was that this was the moment to strike. The Russians had been building up to it for months, and they struck. 

The rest of the article explains the complex relationship the U.S. has with the Russians, how the Europeans are in no position to argue, the general sense of dismissal towards Russian potential to project strength, Russia's own rise to economic prominence due to energy resources, and the fact that the U.S. has tied itself down tight in Iraq.

In other words, the Russians have backed the Americans into a corner. The Europeans, who for the most part lack expeditionary military forces and are dependent upon Russian energy exports, have even fewer options. If nothing else happens, the Russians will have demonstrated that though they are not a global power by any means, they have resumed their role as a significant regional power with lots of nuclear weapons and an economy that is less shabby now than in the past. Russia has also compelled every state on its periphery to reevaluate its position relative to Moscow. That is what the Russians wanted to demonstrate, and they have demonstrated it.

Georgia has been pushing for entrance into NATO, the military alliance that stood in opposition to the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Recent acceptance into NATO by other countries formerly under Russian influence or control-such as Poland-have helped fuel the growing tension between a re-emergent Russian under former Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the West.

Handling a more confident and powerful Russian bear will be a major challenge for the next President. While President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush's father skillfully managed the turbulent breakup of the Soviet Union, the younger Bush has been able to tend to it only a fraction of the time. Meanwhile Putin was slowly regrouping the strings of power. Bush was happy to welcome the Orange Revolution in Ukraine (which has since lost its luster as the nations splits over its decision to lean east or west) and the Rose Revolution in Georgia. 

Yet neither nation has turned into a bastion of freedom and both are looking askance at Bush while keeping one eye on the bear sitting next to them.

Far from a wave of new democracies in the former Soviet Sphere, we are now left with a newly assertive Russia, proud to reclaim its former spheres of influence (those were fighting words in the Cold War) and happily thumbing their nose at the United States as we spend billions in Iraq. 

- Murphy

Saturday, September 06, 2008

David Frum: What matters

David Frum, a conservative author and former speechwriter for President Bush, talks about why it's important for Palin to be out in front of the debate over her qualifications to be VP as well as why it's essential to be able to make your case forcefully, and not just preach to the choir.

A question I am often asked when I give talks or lectures is: Why did the Bush communication effort end so badly? How did an administration that once commanded such public support end by losing all ability to make its case?

My answer is that the ultimate failure was encoded into the initial success. The president's communication team - of which Nicole Wallace was an important part - shared the same disdain of "elites" that permeates so much of my pro-Palin correspondence. It was not just the media elite that they disregarded. (Who could blame them for that?) It was the policy elite too. When the president wished to advocate, eg a tax cut, he did not argue his case before the Detroit Economic Club or send a surrogate to Jackson Hole. He made a rally speech before cheering supporters. That made for effective soundbites and exciting images. But it abdicated any effort to make an argument that could convince people who were not predisposed to be convinced.

- Murphy

Palin Also In the Freezer

The McCain campaign has let it be known that his VP pick, Gov. Sarah Palin, will be incommunicado for the time being.

Perhaps this is a chance for the campaign to find out more about Palin straight from her instead of the media.

A well-caffeinated college intern with Google and a long-distance phone card could have uncovered more about Palin than the McCain campaign appears to have found before announcing her place on the ticket.

One of the most important role a President has is the appointment of key officials: cabinet officers, military commanders, federal judges. 

How does their preparation for the VP position (the Presidential back-up if you will) reflect on McCain's competency when it comes to decision-making? 

- Murphy

Friday, September 05, 2008

Fannie and Freddie Frozen?

(via Washington Monthly) The New York Times is reporting that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae  have been put on notice that the government intends to take control of the two mortgage giants soon. The head of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, and Treasury Secretary Paulson, Jr., have apparently decided they had given the companies enough time to clean up their books and restore investor confidence.

Effectively, the government is putting them into bankruptcy and cleaning house. The heads of both companies and their boards will all be replaced. The investors will see their stocks dwindle to nothing. The taxpayers, meanwhile, will be pickup up the tab as the companies are rebuilt; and hopefully confidence in the institutions will be rebuilt as well.

This is one of those "oh, nuts", moments economists were worried about. Why? Fannie and Freddie own or guarantee approximately 50% of the mortgage market, almost $6 trillion. While they are hamstrung by their efforts to rescue what is left of the company, they have not been performing their role of adding liquidity to the mortgage market, their appointed role since their inception (Fannie Mae in 1938 and Freddie Mac in 1970). Less liquidity means fewer loans which results in slower growth.

This move, one of the largest takeovers in history, is far from an example of an economy that is "fundamentally sound", as Sen. John McCain recently said.

Currently the economy is not providing a better life for most Americans. Productivity is up, but wages are stagnant, and job loses are growing. 

Whoever occupies the Oval Office, they will have to confront the shaky economic reality that many families struggle with every day. So far, McCain's comments on the economy do no relate to the world most people see; perhaps reflecting his admitted ignorance of economics. 

There are no perfect fixes, but reducing the burden on those making less, creating a more fair health care system, finding ways to encourage businesses to expand and hire more workers in this country, and not pretending their is no problem would be a good place to start.

- Murphy

Opening Up Wireless Internet?

Google, the ubiquitous internet search engine, has teamed up with several industry groups and non-profit media organizations–including the Wireless Innovation Alliance and Free Press–to press Congress to free up more of the wireless spectrum for wireless internet projects.

The spectrum in question, referred to as "white space" as it goes unused, resides alongside the spectrum used to broadcast television signals, specifically around channles 2 and 54. The new devices built to take advantage of this "white space" would transmit and receive on the unused portion of the spectrum. There are several ideas on how to do this effectively, either a central database the device would consult based on its location, or a more autonomous version in which the device determines which spectrum is clear on its own-most likely in the future.

Traditionally the Federal Communications Commission auctions off spectrum to the highest bidder. Thus, Verizon has a chunk, AT&T has a slice and so on.

Google and its partners want the spectrum to be released to the public as an "open" spectrum, meaning no one company controls the spectrum and all devices using the spectrum, such as WiFi devices, would be based on a standardized but open, non-proprietary platform.

The National Association of Broadcasters have expressed concern that allowing unfettered use of the spectrum would interfere with their broadcasts. Those in favor of opening up the spectrum, however, counter that the technology has been shown to work. Devices are still under development.

The concept of open access to a public resource like the electromagnetic spectrum is appealing. Expanding access will allow small developers to have the same access the multi-billion dollar companies–including Google and their fellow Alliance partners Dell and Microsoft.

In the past, allowing anyone unfettered ability to broadcast would wreak havoc on the ability to use the spectrum effectively. New technology, however, will allow more options to be squeezed out of the limited available spectrum.

A well designed system could allow greater access for individuals and small groups to the broadcast spectrum, creating a less hierarchical structure more akin to the internet and perhaps sparking a new explosion of innovation and growth.

For more on the Google plan, read Joel Johnson of BoinBoing.net's article on the proposal.

More: Google's advocacy website including a petition to lobby Congress and videos from internet users. Free Press's website on opening internet access.

- Murphy

Thursday, September 04, 2008

McCain's Speech

Sen. John McCain accepted his role as the Republican nominee with a speech that ranked among the better public appearances McCain has made this campaign. McCain has never been a polished speaker, and tonight was no exception. Yet it was a well prepared speech and, as such, counts as a plus in the speech column.

McCain's was a speech long on biography, short on policy and heavily sprinkled with buzz phrases. He regularly pressed his image as a contra-Washingtonian, an insider who chafed at the tony lifestyle of the national elite. Yet of the list of policy points McCain did touch upon, nothing seemed at all out of step with the Republican party platform: increased oil drilling, vouchers and reducing taxes (though he doesn't say whose taxes).

When it comes to McCain's own signature issue, earmarks, however, he is undercut by his own VP selection. Gov. Sarah Palin spent most of her political career ensuring her constituents received as much federal money as possible; including those funds that were to go towards the infamous "bridge to nowhere". The project-which Palin only spoke negatively about after it was canceled-never came to fruition, but the funds were sent to Alaska anyway and distributed.

The most compelling portion of the evening was Sen. McCain's own personal story. His experience in Vietnam is one that defies summation. His story is one that is not so far removed from some of the friends and family we are close to. While it is a history that many Americans see within their own families, it has taken on an almost totemic quality in the McCain campaign.

Following his military career, McCain decided to enter public life and run for office. It is on those terms that we should judge him. Did he support campaign finance reform and then abandon it? Did he interject himself in an international dispute between the United States and Russia over a country-Georgia-which had, until recently, kept McCain's foreign-policy advisor on retainer as a lobbyist? If McCain believes that needling Russia over the issue of Georgia's rebellious regions- thus reigniting conflicts Presidents George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush have worked to mediate, and perhaps jeopardizing our efforts to mediate Iran's nuclear threat among other efforts-then it should be front and center in the debate.

It's unlikely McCain's seech gave anyone who wasn't already a supporter something to vie for. However, he did provide a counterpoint to Gov. Palin's red meat on Wednesday night. It may seem like a smart move, to contrast McCain as the moderater of the Republican fight points, but given that he has to moderate his own VP-usually considered a complimentary role-does not bode well for how his campaign views the heft at the top of the ticket.

Palin was a pick from deep in right field. Prior to her selection, and the resulting enthusiasm amongst the base, McCain was effectively dead in the water when it came to the several million conservative votes that kept President G. W. Bush in the White House for the past eight years. His speech might be enough to maintain his reputation as a moderate (despite the record his campaign is putting together), but if the ticket does make it to the Oval Office, it won't be due to McCain's persuasion.

- Murphy

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Where The Angry Women At?

Despite weeks of breathless pontification over the fate of the Democratic party as women rendered it asunder in the wake of their heroine's loss we come to learn that, in the end, most Democratic party members behaved like-well-Democratic party members.

PRINCETON, NJ -- The Democratic convention appears to have helped solidify support for Barack Obama among former Hillary Clinton supporters, with the percent saying they will vote for Obama in November moving from 70% pre-convention to 81% after the convention, and the percent certain to vote for Obama jumping from 47% to 65%

As for those who are still claiming they are planing to vote for McCain, its possible they may have, in the end, pulled the lever for McCain anyhow....despite their self-avowed support for Clinton. 

Another thing to keep in mind when the cable news choir begins to roll out a new tune about the Clinton backlash; folks inclined to so radically switch from one political point-of-view to another simply based on their attachment to a single personality might not lend themselves as reliable poll respondents.

- Murphy

News Wrap-up From the Last Frontier

The Anchorage Daily News has a wrapup of how their Governor's new role is being digested by news outlets around the world. 

For Example:

Why the Palin baby story matters (National Review) In the Colorado section, I ran into Sue Sharkey from Windsor. When I asked what she thought, her reaction was not about Palin but herself.
Did any Alaskans get a call? (The New York Times) "They didn't speak to anyone in the Legislature, they didn't speak to anyone in the business community,"said Lyda Green, the state Senate president who lives in Wasilla, where Palin served as mayor.
Hillary's gone, but the gender issue isn't (Globe and Mail) The Republicans are clearly trying to attract disgruntled Hillary Clinton voters. But what kind of twisty mindset would basically substitute one female candidate for another regardless of political beliefs, which, in this case, are miles apart? Palin, a social conservative, is ardently anti-abortion, doesn't believe climate change is manmade and is against "explicit" sex education in schools.
Three questions Republicans are asking themselves about Palin (ABC News)

• What else is out there about Palin?

• Was the vetting process complete and professional?

• What message will voters hear about McCain's judgment that he chose someone to be his running mate who has almost no national security experience and who is so much of an unknown quantity?

Despite the seemingly impenetrable echo that reverberates amongst the commentators on most of the cable news outlets, other news outlets seem to be examining the questions that many Americans are asking themselves, and that the McCain campaign never saw fit to ask.

- Murphy

As Republicans Begin Convention, Obama Increases Lead

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Il.) edged open his lead a little further in the Presidential race. Pollster's aggregate tracking poll has the Democratic Senator ahead by just over 5% - 48.8% to 43.6%. 

Today's Gallup tracking poll shows Obama hitting 50% for the first time. The Gallup daily tracking poll only good in the aggregate, too much statistical noise clouds the 1 or 2 point shifts. However, Obama has been bumping up against the 50% mark for the past week, with McCain hovering just over 40.

Is this the convention bump? Or is it a reaction to the continuously forthcoming stories surrounding McCain's choice to pick Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate? That pick, so far, has seemed to please few besides the evangelical community. 

Dr. James Dobson, founder of the socially conservative group Focus on the Family, reversed his earlier vow to not vote for McCain following Palin's selection. To Dobson and other conservatives, Palin embodies their mission which includes: opposition to abortion, sex educaation, homosexuality, and supports the teaching of creationism in schools and expanding the influence of religion in both schools and government. 

- Murphy

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Gramm: You're not a whiner...

....you're economically illiterate and a whiner.

Just when Sen. McCain must have felt he might be getting a bit of distance from the remarks of his economic advisor Sen. Phil Gramm (Gramm is no longer the campaign co-chair, but is still an unofficial advisor), Gramm reanimates his homage to the strength of the American public. 

``If you're sitting here today, you're not economically illiterate and you're not a whiner, so I'm not worried about who you're going to vote for,'' the former Texas senator told attendees at a Financial Services Roundtable event in Minneapolis on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention.
Gramm originally stepped down as the McCain campaign co-chair after telling the Washington Times in an interview that the current recession was "a mental recession" and that the country had become a nation of "whiners" in the wake of the slowdown.

On the bright side, for McCain, the slow-motion crash that is the Palin-for-VP pick is drawing most of the air in the room. But if it doesn't, since Gramm has already officially stepped into the shadows, where else can he go?

- Murphy