Archive for October, 2008

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Enough Of “Joe The Plumber” Already!

October 28, 2008

Ok, I realize that the media was going to glom onto this guy when he came up a bazillion times in the debate, but enough is enough.  It has gotten to the point where “Joe” is not only on the campaign trail with McCain/Palin, but the media is reporting his statements as if he’s a candidate himself.  Just check this out:

‘Joe the Plumber’ Backs Claim That Obama Would Bring ‘Death to Israel’

That’s an actual headline.  On Fox

So, naturally, Shep Smith had to call him up and give the “could you explain that?” interview.

Or how about this:

Joe the Plumber says Obama would make US socialist

That’s an AP headline.

Or this:

Records searches anger Joe the Plumber

The Columbus Dispatch.

Is it just me, or does this “Joe the Plumber” blitz give you the feeling that we’re living in a children’s book?  Are we all six year-olds?  

Apparently, McCain thinks so, as he’s adopted and embraced the Toys ‘R’ Us-esque marketing gimmick and plastered him all over his campaign website as well:

Go here, and you’ll see videos of Brad the Welder, Jeff the Truck Driver, Tara the Teacher, Josie the Transcriptionist, Jeff the Realtor, etc.

{{{sigh}}}

I realize that most of the country doesn’t give a rat’s hinder what my opinion is.  OK, scratch that.  Most of the country doesn’t know who the heck I am.  But I certainly wouldn’t expect Fox or the AP to pick up the Chamber, anyway.  Chen the Salesman hasn’t gotten the attention of David the Campaign Strategist, I guess.

Hey, NO FAIR!!!

And with great hesitation to click “publish”, I dub this the one and only Official Chamber “Joe the Plumber” thread.

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Who Are You Calling “Anti-American”?

October 25, 2008

I’ve had plenty of time to ponder my post on the Bachmann incident (I was initially speechless), so I decided that a follow up post was in order… 

You see, I realized there was something I was missing, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.  Something that I was leaving unsaid, more specifically.  I know that her comments revealed that she views her colleagues in Congress through a “pro” and “anti-American” lens (which is in and of itself pretty disturbing, and the underlying reason why her campaign has been suffering lately), but there was a gaping hole in the entire discussion, and I’ve finally figured out what it was:  

For how much the phrase gets tossed around lately, “anti-American” really deserves a cohesive definition that everyone can agree on. 

So, considering my tradition of using the Chamber as a platform for defining things and establishing paradigms, I figured that this might be a good idea going forward.  After all, who knows how often we’ll see the term flung about around here?  I should really have something set in stone.  And in an attempt to set a definition that will be accepted and universal, I think we should first start with defining what “American” is.  That would be logical, right?  It would appear to me that it’s not the “anti-” that should be explored (assuming we can juxtapose “anti-” and “un”).  Everyone knows what that means, after all. 

I argue that, while many may agree that quaint things like apple pie, baseball, Uncle Sam, Mt. Rushmore, etc. are intrinsically “American”, there is still a possibility that not all would agree.   Indeed, the Founding Fathers wouldn’t have seen much significance in any of those things (apple pie recipes from the 14th century?).  My proposal would be to strip away all of the cultural icons, traditions, monuments, and any given individual’s belief in what the American “spirit” is (thanks Alfie), thus leaving just the lowest possible standard of what is unequivocally American:  The U.S. Constitution.   The Chamber position is that, at the end of the day, it’s essentially all we have.  The president takes an oath to “protect and defend” it.  The Supreme Court interprets it.  The Congress can collectively amend it.  One could make a pretty compelling argument that, without recognition of the Constitution, there is no America.  Cities may burn and towns may flood.  The Federal Reserve may be depleted of funds.  Half the U.S. population could be wiped out by some horrible disease.  Great American traditions like World Series could disappear forever.  But as long as the tenets of the Constitution remain intact and can be effectively upheld and executed, America remains.

That said, I shall declare:  From this day forth in the Chamber, anything that doesn’t meet the standards of (or anyone who seeks to undermine) this most American of ideals will be considered as “anti-American”.   Calls that don’t meet this lowest of bars will be deemed to be just hallow, inflammatory, pejorative-laden rhetoric, and will be called out as such.   Even an activity like, say, burning the Flag is subjected to this basic requirement.  

OK, I’ve brought down the proverbial gavel.  I think its time to test the definition.  Let’s use a hypothetical scenario:

Debater A claims that Obama policy X is “socialist” and his views are “anti-American”.  Debater B asks A if there is anything in Policy X that would be considered unconstitutional.  Debater A thinks for a second, and responds “It should be”.  Debater B then points out that if one cannot prove that policy X is unconstitutional, then one must conclude that the Constitution makes room for (what A considers) “socialist” policies and thereby cannot be deemed “anti-American”.

hhmmm…it seems to work.  Perhaps it makes for a clumsy debate the way I’ve phrased it, but I think it is logically sound*.   

Now that we’ve agreed on that, let’s come full circle, and revisit what Bachmann said about the would-be Democratic president and her colleagues in Congress:

“I’m very concerned that he may have anti-American views”

“I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America, or anti-America. I think the American people would love to see an expose like that.”

And I say to Ms. Bachmann that, when it comes to your fear of your fellow politicians having “anti-American” views, perhaps you might want to “take a great look at” your most favorite-ist person in the whole wide world.  You know, the current president:

*I suppose I should open the thread up to more tests or to point out holes, so have at me.

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Oh, What The Heck

October 24, 2008

I’ve been resisting the temptation to comment on this bizarre Ashley Todd mugging hoax fiasco, but I just can’t hold it in anymore.

Well, on second thought, I think instead I’ll comment on the stupidest of the stupid things I’ve seen said on the subject.  After visiting dozens of blogs and news sites, and watching the coverage on the cable news networks, I’m going to give the prize to none other than the VP of Fox News, John Moody, posting this (before the fact that the gal made it all up came out):

If Ms. Todd’s allegations are proven accurate, some voters may revisit their support for Senator  Obama, not because they are racists (with due respect to Rep. John Murtha), but because they suddenly feel they do not know enough about the Democratic nominee.

If the incident turns out to be a hoax, Senator McCain’s quest for the presidency is over, forever linked to race-baiting.

So let me get this straight.  Mr. Moody was making the claim that the outcome of this 2-year long campaign could hinge on this singular, isolated incident?  Forget, for a moment, that the incident was later revealed to be a hoax, what the hell kind of ridiculous notion is that?  Because his network made a big deal out of it?

And why in the world would voters “revisit their support for Senator Obama” based on an ugly mugging?   I just don’t get it.  The only thing that makes sense to me is that this guy is really revealing his inner thoughts, and not offering some insight on what he feels “some voters” might think.  It looks like a strawman concocted by -as Andrew Sullivan put it- a racist of massive proportions (and my readers would know that I certainly don’t toss the “racist” label flippantly).  Or, put another way, Moody is attempting to convince his readers that Obama supporters like myself should revisit our support because of the alleged actions of one big crazy black man.  And not because we’re racist, of course, but because it seems logical?

The bottom line is this: Any objective observer can see that, real or staged, this incident has no bearing on the candidates, the campaigns, or the myriad of important issues of the day, regardless of what the Drudges or the Fox VP’s of the world want. 

 

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Does Al Qaeda Care About Our Elections? (Part III)

October 22, 2008

Interesting.  A month after I posed the question in Part II, I think I saw the answer pop up today.  Here’s the WaPo via memeorandum: On Al-Qaeda Web Sites, Joy Over U.S. Crisis, Support for McCain

Al-Qaeda is watching the U.S. stock market’s downward slide with something akin to jubilation, with its leaders hailing the financial crisis as a vindication of its strategy of crippling America’s economy through endless, costly foreign wars against Islamist insurgents.

And at least some of its supporters think Sen. John McCain is the presidential candidate best suited to continue that trend.

“Al-Qaeda will have to support McCain in the coming election,” said a commentary posted Monday on the extremist Web site al-Hesbah, which is closely linked to the terrorist group. It said the Arizona Republican would continue the “failing march of his predecessor,” President Bush.

The Web commentary was one of several posted by Taliban or al-Qaeda-allied groups in recent days that trumpeted the global financial crisis and predicted further decline for the United States and other Western powers. In language that was by turns mocking and ominous, the newest posting credited al-Qaeda with having lured Washington into a trap that had “exhausted its resources and bankrupted its economy.” It further suggested that a terrorist strike might swing the election to McCain and guarantee an expansion of U.S. military commitments in the Islamic world.

Whether the current financial situation we find ourselves in is due to the expensive “War on Terror” is surely to be disputed, of course, but it’d be pretty hard to argue that it’s helped the situation (unless one wants to make the claim that the Iraq intervention has somehow prohibited another financially ruinous attack, thereby being a net plus).  It’s been 4 years since Osama released his “bankrupt the U.S.” October surprise, and it has been argued that the tape put Bush in the White House (as designed), so one may naturally wonder if AQ has something up their sleeve this time around.  And like I posted in Part II, there apparently have been warnings of another attack.   So, What would they do?  An attack, or maybe drag Osama out of the cave to release another taunting video?

Actually, the better question would be:  Would the American people fall for it again, whatever they did?

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Update: No signs of Qaeda election threat – U.S.

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Introducing: Chamber Lounge

October 21, 2008

I’ve decided that the Chamber might need an off-topic, uncensored, behind-the-scenes, backstage pass style area for both WPPBA members and regular readers.  So, here it is:

Chamber Lounge

For easy access, the link will remain near the top of the sidebar:

This area is password-protected, and is not viewable to the general public.

The password has been emailed to WPPBA members, along with a few others.  If I’ve missed you, feel free to send me a shout via the contact form and I’ll get it to you.

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Michelle Bachmann Said What? (Pt. II)

October 17, 2008

Knowing Bachmann, I might have to make this a recurring theme here in the Chamber.  My ears perk up every time I see her on the cable news networks or web headline, as she represents the Congressional district just to the North of me.  My fellow neighbors must be so proud to see this:

“I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America, or anti-America.  I think the American people would love to see an expose like that.”

I’m speechless.

Anyway, Bachmann was speaking to Matthews on the subject of McCain’s robo calls (incidentally, a tactic that, in his 2000 campaign, McCain had denounced).

Also see:  Bachmann: Alaska’s Caribou Will Love Oil Drilling ‘Because Of The Warmth Of The Pipeline’

And, of course, Part I

Update:  Colin Powell responds.

Update:  Bachmann’s opponent, Democrat Elwyn Tinklenberg, has raised $640K since she made the comments.  Oops.

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Poll Wars

October 17, 2008

I haven’t commented much on the polls here in the Chamber as we march toward election day, mostly because I’ve seen the practice of touting Obama’s lead as something I might regret.  In other words, whatever the polls might say, I still think that this election is going to be very close.

I only bring it up now because I’ve noticed a couple of things on the web that reminded me of an old debate on whether these presidential opinion polls are less an attempt to gauge public opinion, and more of an attempt to influence it.    One such sighting came the other day, when Tex brought to my attention an interesting yet poorly-sourced and flawed essay by the enigmatic Zombie, in which he/she accuses Obama supporters of “stuffing” the post-debate polls in an effort to make the idea that Obama won the debates an accepted “fact”.  Like I said, an interesting theory, but unfortunately Zombie didn’t provide much of anything to back up the assertion, so I let him/her know.  (I had always assumed that the reputable and referenced post-debate polls weren’t internet-based anyway, although I always wonder how they determine who the “undecided” voters are)

The other sighting happened when I visited Drudge Report, and I obviously couldn’t miss this:

Drudge is right about one thing, in that a dramatic swing like that certainly would be considered a shock.  So, I decided to investigate a little on my own, and turned to fivethirtyeight.com (since they watch this stuff daily), and I came across this analysis:

Let me be clear: I don’t blame Drudge for trying to drive the narrative. Unlike certain other folks, it’s not as though he’s made any claim to being objective. With real news — which polls aren’t — he generally has excellent and entertaining instincts.

I do, however, blame those of who allow yourselves to have your day ruined when Drudge moonlights as some kind of polling analyst.

A fairer way to analyze tracking polls, in any event, is something like this: McCain gained ground in three of the seven trackers today (Gallup, Rasmussen, Battleground). He lost ground in one (Zogby). Three others (Research 2000, Hotline, IBD/TIPP) were unchanged.

So, what is Drudge doing here?  Is he cherry-picking the most McCain-favorable poll he could find in an effort to influence opinion?  After all, much has been said about Drudge’s uncanny ability to drive the national conversation.  Is he trying to exploit a variation of the principle of social proof and frame the narrative that McCain is making some sort of spectacular comeback?

My guess would be, yes.  Especially since he went for it again today.  This one appeared to be picked up by Lou Dobbs, as he repeated the Drudge headline almost verbatim on his show this evening.  

Of course, the only poll that really matters is the one taken on November 4th, but I think that a debate on how much the polls taken leading up to the big day influence the outcome is worth having.  Do the candidates alter their tactics based on the polls?   You bet.  Do those tactics then play a role in winning and losing?  Of course they do.    If the shift of tactics is transparent, and the voter assumes that the change is based solely on the polls, does it (the tactic) lose some of its effectiveness (i.e. “McCain’s just going negative because he’s behind in the polls”)?  Sure.  In fact, it would be interesting to get an idea what the change in the electoral dynamic would be if the poll results were kept privately within the campaigns, or if they did away with polling altogether.   Of course that would never happen, but when you think about it that way, one revisits the reasons why they are everywhere. 

Wait a second.  Why are they everywhere, anyway?

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