Saturday, October 04, 2008


Open Thread

A more-or-less regularly scheduled weekend open thread.

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The Bush Legacy?

A wiped out party?

Both the Washington Post and Politico report on increasing GOP fears of a congressional bloodbath come next week. And no, John McCain is not the cause of the party's problem, but just another symptom. The cause is the increasing economic turmoil, accoriding to Politico:
A poll out Friday shows Sen. Norm Coleman could now easily lose his Minnesota seat to comedian-turned-candidate Al Franken. A Colorado race that initially looked like a nail-biter has now broken decisively for the Democrats. A top official in the McCain camp told us Sen. Elizabeth Dole is virtually certain to lose in conservative North Carolina.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has seen his race tighten dangerously close over the past week — and Democrats are considering moving more money into the state very soon. And there is even talk that Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss is beatable in conservative Georgia after backing the economic bailout package opposed by many voters.

“Before the economic crisis, we had a number of races moving our way,” said Matthew Miller, communications director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “But now we’re seeing Republican numbers plummet.” GOP officials largely agree.
Though McCain's recent tactics (strategy?) has contributed to the problem, the Post notes:
GOP operatives said the party's declining fortunes are rooted in a series of events over the past two weeks, including McCain's decision to suspend his campaign in order to help broker a deal on the rescue plan and Republican opposition that doomed the bill in a House vote on Monday. Those incidents helped reinforce voter impressions that Washington is broken and that Republicans bear the brunt of the blame, the party insiders said.

In the most recent Washington Post-ABC News national poll, more than half of all voters said they were "very concerned" that the failure of the first bailout vote would cause a "severe economic decline." By a ratio of 2 to 1, they blamed the legislations' defeat on Republicans.

Neil Newhouse, a partner in the Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies, echoed van Lohuizen's sentiment. "The bailout crisis has had a corrosive effect on the national political environment, and that impacts not just John McCain, but GOP candidates up and down the ticket," he said.

The proximity to the election added to the chaos on Capitol Hill this week as lawmakers sought to pass a $700 billion package to stabilize banks and financial markets. In the House, most vulnerable Republicans opposed the version that failed on Monday, as well as the revamped legislation that passed easily yesterday. But in the Senate, which voted Wednesday, just two vulnerable Republicans, Sens. Elizabeth Dole (N.C.) and Roger Wicker (Miss.), opposed the bill (along with the only Democrat who is seen as endangered, Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu).

Seven Republicans who are being targeted for defeat by Democrats backed the plan: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), and Sens. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), Ted Stevens (Alaska); Norm Coleman (Minn.); Gordon Smith (Ore.), Susan CollinsJohn E. Sununu (N.H.). (Maine) and

Some states that have been hit particularly hard economically saw fractures within their delegations. In Michigan, Knollenberg switched his vote from no on Monday to yes on Friday, while Walberg voted no both times. Asked whether he changed his mind out of concern for his reelection, Knollenberg shrugged and responded, "This is politics." But he added that supporting the bailout "is really what's best for the community."

Of course, in an environment like this, Democrats can have it both ways: Their party passes the bailout (er, "rescue" as it is now politically correct to call it), with most Republicans in the House voting against it. But Democratic challengers can either run in support of the bailout or against it, depending on their GOP opponent. Either way, the Republican gets stuck with the "Bush economic legacy" tag and is painted as out of touch.

Not so good times.

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Friday, October 03, 2008


Funniest Reporter?

Me? Well, not the last couple of years, but I'm a glutton for punishment! Thus, once more into the breach:

So, if you're in New York this Sunday evening, drop by the the Gotham Comedy Club, 208 W. 23rd Street.

In addition to yours truly, come hear humorous observations from the following fine journalists:

Sean McCarthy (Comic’s Comic -- defending "champion")
Ellis Henican (Newsday / Fox News)
Cat Greenleaf (NBC)
Wendy Gillette (CBS)
Alison Rosen (Page Six Magazine)
Rob Hoell (CW11)
Heather Kovar (News 12)
Debbie Nigro (

It's part of the New York City Underground Comedy Festival, running tonight through October 12. Call ahead for reservations at 212-367-9000 or purchase tickets here.

Hope to see you Sunday!

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Spark of Hope

I don't really follow women's basketball, but I have to agree with John Cole. Candace Parker of the LA Sparks has had one hellacious year:
In one year, Candace Parker was a senior at University of Tennessee and won a national championship, graduated from college, won a gold medal on the basketball team at Beijing, was the number one draft pick in the WNBA, won Rookie of the Year, and now is being named the league MVP.
By any standard, that's a pretty amazing and, in fact, all of these achievements actually occurred over a seven-month period -- from the NCAA championship in March to winning the MVP this week.

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Musings from Bickerstaff

Posted by Isaac Bickerstaff

I am in Washington, DC today. It is a city pulsating with politically anxious members of Congress, polemical lobbyists, peripatetical bureaucrats, and the chattering class. No good deli, but I do enjoy being here.

Before commencing my musings, allow a comment on the debates. The biggest loser of last night's debate was Mitt Romney. His over- funded star was eclipsed by Sarah Palin. Expectations were very low and although she appealed mainly to the base; I thought she did a great job. " Nice to meet you. Can I call you Joe?" was a great start. The folksy intonations may not impress we East Coasters, but calls made to Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan confirmed my suspicions of who she was really talking to in America. Job well done, Governor. You prep well. Mission accomplished.

And let me give a shout out to Joe Biden. You are right about Iran. And I am a parent too. I understand your emotion when you choke up about losing your wife and daughter.

Now to Bickerstaff's thought on our times. The Congress shall pass an $850 Billion bailout today. It is rife with incentives to alienate all and push our National debt to another trillion. Many culprits are being pointed to and I would like to add to that heap. Sen. Graham, Rep Leach, and Rep Bliley ( the three blind mice)....... Thank you for the legislation deregulation that really caused all of this mess. Thank you Republican Majorities who said this would be a good idea. For those unaware of this masterpiece, here is the short version " To enhance competition in the financial services industry by providing a prudential framework for the affiliation of banks, securities forms, insurance companies, and other financial service providers and for other purposes"

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 allowed commercial and investment banks to merge and also buy insurance companies. Does Bickerstaff need to show why this is a bad idea? In a point of I told you so, I wrote it was a bad idea then but everyone was so giddy over the high tech boom, that why shouldn't business' all get together? The good times will last forever.

Thank you, President Clinton, for signing it into law. Your fundamental understanding of the protections of Glass-Steagal blow a flat saxophone note. And to all the Wall street lawyers, lobbyists, cap managers, fund and bank heads... A big Bronx cheer to you also.

One final piece of harrowing thought. Sen Phil Gramm, author of Gramm-Leach -Bliley, is the same guy advising John McCain on economics. Sleep well friends.


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Sarah Wins Expectations...Joe Wins.

As I said earlier, the Sarah Palin who showed up Thursday night couldn't possibly be as bad as the caricature she had become. Palin came across as a mixture of folksy cheerleader for John McCain and, yes, edgy barracuda going after Obama. Biden controlled his gabbiness, while connecting McCain to the unpopular Bush in a way that Palin wasn't able to decouple.

The governor started out wobbly, gained confidence in the middle -- even when the talk turned to Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel -- but sort of petered out as the debate concluded. Her non-polished approach clearly got under Biden's skin as the debate wore on. However, any annoyance that he may have demonstrated -- which could have turned off voters, he turned around at the very end when asked what he would do if something happened to a President Obama and his very closing comments where he teared up.

It's rather ironic that we live in an age where a male candidate tearing up is a sign of emotional strength -- where it would be weakness in a female candidate. Palin could have done herself much better had she recognized that moment. It would have cemented her role as the more human, less professional politician. Instead, against all odds, Biden had the most human moment. I watched on CNN where they had a people-meter divided by men and women. The women's line rocketed up at that moment (and the men weren't too far behind, actually).

She was strongest on the issue of energy independence and going after Obama-Biden on the "voting against the troops" issue and "your plan is the white flag of surrender." Biden deflected those attacks a couple of times, but Palin was relentless.

Considering how many debates Biden has been over the years -- in 2007-08 alone -- you've got to give Palin credit for holding her own. She wasn't in any way wiped off the floor by Biden. She certainly belonged on the same stage -- something that will undoubtedly be assuring to Republicans demoralized after a full week of Katie Couric interviews.

Palin's performance may not turn around numbers that have been trending in an Obama direction in the last few days, but she did, to use Rich Lowry's phrase, save her "political brand."

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Thursday, October 02, 2008


Hey, Joe. Sarah Smile.

Considering that there have hardly ever been lower expectations for a vice-presidential debate (not even Dan Quayle was in this territory), I predict that Sarah Palin will actually do "OK" tonight. She won't seem like some blithering idiot and will, instead, come across as a more down-to-earth person next to the polished experienced super-pol, Joe Biden. That doesn't mean that the public might want her more as the next vice-president. It just means that she won't quite fill caricature that she has become (or "has become her").

That said, here's a clip from a movie soon coming to a multiplex/straight-to-video/bootleg store near you:

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Open Thread

Special mid-week convalescing thread.

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Monday, September 29, 2008


In Recovery

No, not the financial system -- your humble blogger. After a bit of throat surgery this morning, I am at home now convalescing. It seems that the market, um, crashed while I was under.

Sorry about that, chief.

Anyway, my friend Jim Pinkerton is happy about the defeat. Meanwhile, the usual stuff happens: Republicans blame Pelosi for the bill going down. Democrats blame Republicans.

This sets up a situation that the best option for anything to pass now will be for a more Democrat-leaning regulatory-heavy package. Policywise, it will be far worse than what went down today. Jim Geraghty sees that as creating a potential "Republican tsunami" for those who voted "no." I don't know. That depends a whole lot on how the economy performs in the five weeks before the election.

If things calm down, Democrats can claim that they stepped up and did what was necessa at a time when the economy was in mortal peril -- while Republicans stood aside. Even though the bailout is unpopular, I'm not sure how the GOP effectively campaigns against the a package -- if McCain supports it.

Anyway, tomorrow will be interesting to see if Pelosi and Co. try to bring the bill back up for another vote.

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