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31.Oct.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Dannis Adamson has some wealth he needs to spread around Permalink to this item

Something like 7 million bucks worth. I don't have any recollection of his run for governor two years ago, but it turns out he was withholding income and payroll taxes from his employees' pay for the California nursing homes he's been running, and gee, never got around to sending it in to the IRS.

Joe Turner says there was no cheating! Permalink to this item

Joe the Magician got wind of my comment on Wednesday, and wrote to tell me that "no video editing or camera tricks were used in that video. I performed it live and could do it for you right now."

I watched it again, more carefully, and I see that I was misled by the quick hand-waving into thinking there was a video cut. It's a good trick. (And, given October's market performance, I wish he would perform it for me several times on all the $1s I can get my hands on.)

"If it didnít ring sincere enough for you in the video, let me assure you that it is sincerely felt. The illusion was simply a neat visual metaphor upon which to hang the point I was making... same thing I do in a lot of my work, using magical visual effects as a framework around which to tell the story that my client wants to tell... whether itís about a person, place, product, company, charity, or other entity. Waving wheat, ones-to-hundreds, whatever."

Thanks for writing, Joe.

Now, about the point you were making. You do know that whole "spread the wealth" thing is a useless caricature that the McCain-Palin campaign took out of context and has been flogging mercilessly, don't you? If we're talking parlor tricks, hand-waving is a Good Thing. If we're talking leadership for the country, Not So Good. As responsible, productive members of society, we all have to chip in and pay for the infrastructure, the common defense, and yes, the safety nets that make it all possible.

Our "free enterprise system," as you call it, "transforming good ideas and hard work into prosperity" is a shared undertaking. Taxes are a fact of life. We should make them as fair as we can, and as simple as we can. We've dug ourselves into a huge hole of debt (in a fine, bipartisan manner), and the idea that we can fix the problem by lowering taxes (thus pushing the debt onto our children and grandchildren, through inflation, and worse), well, that would be one hell of a magic trick, you have to admit.

Just in case you haven't heard enough Permalink to this item

about the Idaho CD-01 Congressional race, Jill Kuraitis is wondering if we might be seeing a harbinger of a shift away from the full-on Code Red of our Reddest of Red states.

And speaking of apologies that are overdue Permalink to this item

There's the one for the rubber checks Bill Sali signed as a 23-year-old farm hand, the debt still unpaid. Sali's spokesman Wayne Hoffman has a special gift for making statements that leave you wide-eyed in incredulity:

"Bill's been a big supporter of farms. He's worked on a farm, he's been very helpful to Idaho agriculture. It's why he has the support of so many farmers."

Marianne DeShazo says "This is one farm family he did not support."

Is it something in the water up there? Permalink to this item

Now comes Ted Stevens insisting "I have not been convicted of anything." There's no doubt he hasn't exhausted the range of legal maneuvers left to him (hell, our Senator Larry Craig is still working on his maneuvering after he pled guilty!), but yes, he has indeed been convicted of seven felony counts of lying on his financial disclosure forms.

Will he succeed in getting his felony convictions overturned? Or in getting the people of Alaska to re-elect him to the U.S. Senate? Or in keeping two-thirds of his colleagues from expelling him if they do? We will be staying tuned.

Apology needed Permalink to this item

The state Democratic Party did offer a "statement," admitting "regrettable" aspects of the "completely unintentional oversight," but Jim Hansen should have done better, and apologized directly for publishing the Social Security numbers of Bill Sali and his wife.

It was a big mistake, and there should have been no "buts" in the press release about it.

The best we (all of us, not just Idaho partisans) can hope for is that the mistake will prompt more attention to the important privacy issues that have been so-honored in the breach during the Bush/Cheney administration. "Identity theft" is a problem, yes, but it is far from the worst economic, or civil liberty issue before us.

Fear Itself Permalink to this item

Come January 20, Barack Obama might just recycle FDR's first inaugural address:

"This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and a vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days."

Acorns on our roof How strange it seems that the so-called conservative party, and the one that imagines patriotism to be its special reserve, is so fearful of weakness that it continues to destroy the fabric of society—no, really—with policies and actions in near exact opposition to what our founders intended.

Our financial crisis was brought on in large measure by greed coupled with remarkable disregard for the common good. Such disregard, in fact, that it has proven contrary to even the self-interest of all but a very, very few.

The crisis of our international reputation was brought about by blind fear driving us beyond the measured retaliation for the horrific terrorism of 9/11, focused on the perpertrators, to a war of choice, of almost naked imperial aggression.

And now the fear of redirection from the disastrous path we've been on has a sizeable part of the population stocking up on arms and ammo. The owner of Larry's Sporting Goods, in Nampa Idaho:

"Sales are definitely up. People are buying more guns and ammo because they are afraid of Obama."

The good news is the that the wingnuts who make for such colorful news are not yet in the majority. Sales are up, yes, but well short of insane, despite what firearm retailers who ask not to be identified might "sense": 10% for the year, doubtless more for the last (and next) month, but most of us will get along just fine with the self-defense we already have.

30.Oct.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Sarah Palin: Be very afraid Permalink to this item

Changing the subject to something, anything other than the economy. She didn't even blink.

Could have something to do with her increasing negatives in the polls.

29.Oct.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Tuesday night top ten Permalink to this item

Kevin Richert's viewer's guide for the races to watch in the Boise Boise is an entertaining read.

Driving Congress into a ditch Permalink to this item

Our current President has approval ratings that are so bad, he's been persona non grata on the campaign trail for his party's nominee. One of McCain's best moments in the three debates was when he repudiated George W. Bush most directly. (Not that his voting record supports that repudiation, really.)

It could be worse. In fact, it is worse, for voters' approval rating of Congress. Worst President ever, yeah, but Congress worse than him?

If so, it's worth asking how it got that way. At least part of the answer is that this is the way the newly-minted minority party in 2006 wanted it. We haven't heard much of anything about the importance of "up or down votes" since the Republicans found themselves in a position to only say "no" to things. The reversal on use of the filibuster has set a new standard for obstructionism.

The 111th Congress will not be as easy to obstruct, but that won't stop the minority from trying every trick in the book and few new ones. And when all is said and—not—done, expect an even stronger blame game if the majority can't route around the damage.

Thinking about acorns Permalink to this item

Jeanette, bucketizing the 2008 acorn crop Not ACORN, but acorns, by the tens, hundreds, thousands. Buckets full of acorns. Raining down upon our roof, carried around the yard by squirrels, planting themselves (or being planted) here, there and everywhere. If you're in the Boise area, and are interested in an oak tree that really likes this part of the world, look us up. We have them from acorn size, on up to 5 and 6 feet tall, and we'd be happy to share.

Just Regular Joes Permalink to this item

Errol Morris is all over this "regular Joe" schtick, with links to The Living Room Candidate going back to the dawn of television, and proceeding right up to the present, with the McCain campaign's Joe series.

"Joe the Magician" is some kind of instant classic. Watch carefully as he turns five $1 bills into five $100 bills! Now that's the kind of guy we want in the White House, ain't it? Even if his sleight of hand is too lame to actually pull off the trick, and he needs video editing to get the job done?!

Let's just say Morris' People in the middle work comes across as (a) more sincere, (b) less b.s., and (c) better produced. Advertising is what it is, a medium of persuasion. Just because the video is cheesy (or vice versa) doesn't make it authentic. You still need to decide for yourself.

Update, 31.Oct:
Joe the Magician replies...

28.Oct.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

"Listen, you don't want my opinion on foreign policy" Permalink to this item

You got that right, Joe. We have more than enough wingnuttery going on without unlicensed plumbers spouting graywater... or worse.

Mr. Bill with no endorsements Permalink to this item

The closest newspaper to his political point of view must be the Idaho Press-Tribune (they said as much) but even they couldn't bring themselves to endorse Bill Sali for re-election to the big House. (They couldn't bring themselves to endorse his opponent either, go figure.)

Comments from Bubblehead, Richert, Mountain Goat (and don't miss MG's rundown of Sali's Just Say No voting record), Barker, Politico.

"Don't Speak for me, Sarah Palin" Permalink to this item

Best thing I saw on YouTube today: She's a Hockey Mama for Obama.

27.Oct.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Mr. Pork come a cropper Permalink to this item

Ted Stevens has done all sorts of good things for the people in Alaska, largely at the expense of the lower 48. He did alright for himself too, although compared to your run of the mill CEO golden parachute, the graft was pitifully banal. A massage chair, for god's sake, "on loan" for 7 years. Still, for a U.S. Senator, a higher level of integrity seems appropriate.

But not to everyone. In the WaPo rundown of reaction from his home state, consider Mike Hubbard, of Wasilla. He thinks Stevens' "good nature" led to his downfall.

"Back in the 1980s, gift-giving was not unusual in his business, said Hubbard, who manages construction projects. It wasn't unusual to be offered fly-in fishing trips, hunting trips and other gifts.

"That is gone now, Hubbard said.

"'It was just a way of expressing gratitude,' he [added]. 'Now it is considered buying influence.'"

26.Oct.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Just ridiculous Permalink to this item

On Meet the Press today, John McCain made excuses—oh wait, none of that, he's proud of her record—for Sarah Palin. "She lives a frugal life," he said. "She and her family are not wealthy."

Certainly not in comparison to the second Mrs. McCain: 'Cude and Dude are only worth a $million-something or so.

And while we may be tiring of talking about the fashion show, we could—should—start talking about Palin's apparent bid-rigging for God's Gas Pipeline, shouldn't we? The Republican ticket's "energy expert" and all?

ES&S iVotronic's clear choice: the GOP Permalink to this item

We'll be filling in ovals with a ball-point pen here in Idaho, now that our punch card technology has been rendered defunct by time and Florida's ineptitude. There are still Bad Things that could happen once the ballot's out of our hands, but at least we'll be dropping an unambiguous artifact into the box.

In Texas... well, who knows what the hell is going to happen? The BradBlog is rounding up reports of Election Systems & Software's iVotronic voting system magically changing selections in Texas. And Missouri. And Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Indiana, Ohio, New Mexico, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

Other than that, it seems fine.

S-R: Minnick best choice Permalink to this item

The Spokesman-Review provides a glowing endorsement of Walt Minnick for Congress, noting that the incumbent "lacks respect even within GOP."

"[Minnick's] pragmatic, nonpartisan style has attracted many Republican supporters who have tired of Sali's ideologically driven antics, which may play well on the far right but are unproductive and sometimes embarrassing for the state.

"Minnick is the best choice for Idahoans looking for practical leadership in uncertain times."

Fashion on the street Permalink to this item

Snippet of stonework in New York's Central Park Back in the day, we used to read the Sunday NYT on paper, and the "On the Street" feature was half a page or so of black and white photos (at least in memory, I suppose they must have them in color by now) that were brief entertainment before moving on to the deep columns of Important Writing.

Now of course, there's no waiting for Sunday, color 24/7, video, you name it, from here, there, everywhere.

But here's a treat: Bill Cunningham narrating his own slide show, thrilled at the "tip top" "exhilaration" of autumn in New York.

"The weather was mahvelous, the temperatures plummetted... it was cold, oh I mean cold, and the wind is what made it colder. But it was absolutely wonderful because everyone had to change clothes...."

GOP bus tour in the ditch Permalink to this item

Gas back down below $3 Rocky Barker reports that "four dollar gas prices, the internet and perhaps a changing Republican Party in Idaho have driven this campaign tool off the road and into the ditch."

But wait! Gas is back down to "only" $3! Barker surmises that it was an excuse because nobody wanted to ride the same bus as Bill Sali, but I imagine Norm Semanko wouldn't mind getting out of the office and going for a ride with his buddy. Jim Risch doesn't seem to want to spend his time and effort campaigning, and Mike Simpson doesn't have to.

Update 10/27: The Idaho Democrats provide their take on the bus breakdown.

25.Oct.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The October surprise Permalink to this item

It looks like it's going to be finding out just how low the McCain campaign is willing to go. I don't know how well it's working to raise money for the RNC, but my guess is it's working at least that well in raising money for the other side.

Boise fired its mayor for less than this Permalink to this item

Sheesh, what am I doing recycling old news on Sarah Palin when there's new news available: more than $20,000 for "official business" to cart her children around on commercial flights and put them up in hotel rooms. She says the kids were invited, the event organizers say "wha'?"

I like the one where they "officially" showed up to watch the First Dude (a.k.a. First Dad) drive his snowmobile in a big race.

The citizens of Alaska seem happy enough about their maverick Governor's shenanigans, as long as she's sharing the wealth with them.

If only Edward Teller were still alive Permalink to this item

Hey kids, try this at home: generate a nanosecond burst of 300,000 X-ray photons by unrolling some Scotch® tape.

You'll need your at-home vacuum generator (the abstract of the Letter says a "moderate" vacuum, but I'm not ready to pay $32 to find out how moderate), so maybe this is more suited to a space-based, Scotch® tape weapon.

One step closer and I unroll this tape!

The slipperly slope of spending other people's money Permalink to this item

2005 Earmark $ by state per capita, link to Many Eyes Not to flog a dead horse or anything, but before we had our little financial meltdown, and a few $tens of billions seemed like a lot of money, "earmarks" were the cause célèbre of anti-government forces everywhere. Or at least everywhere that wasn't getting all that they wanted. It's sort of like Congress, versus my Congressman for voters: as a group, they're contemptible, but my gal/guy is OK. (Maybe not so much true this November, but we'll see.)

This might be a good time to re-parse Palin at her best, on her home turf with Charlie Gibson, going over that Bridge to Nowhere that figured so large in her early speeches to us all.

"It has always been an embarrassment that abuse of the earform—ear—earmark process has been accepted in Congress and that's what John McCain has fought, and that's what I join him in fighting. It's been an embarrassment..."

Gibson: "But you were for it before you were against it..."

"It's not inappropriate for a mayor, or for a governor to request, and to work with their Congress, and their Congressman and their Congresswomen, to plug into the federal budget along with every other state, a share of the federal budget for infrastructure...."

Clear enough? "Abuse" bad, "our share" perfectly appropriate. I don't remember if Gibson got around to the fact that Alaska got to keep the money even though they didn't build the bridge. He certainly didn't get around to Alaska's outsized share of the flow of earmark dollars.

Sounds like the same old song to me, a moose at the trough dressed up in some east coast fashionwear some of her Republican friends bought her.

24.Oct.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Trash-out Permalink to this item

That's the new term for the process of cleaning out a foreclosed house of all the stuff the non-owners left behind. Furniture, appliances, food, decor, photos, computers, TVs... Toss it all in a dumpster and haul it to the dump.

The astonishing waste of resources was reported by KCET in southern California, and picked up by last night's NewsHour on PBS.

What wasn't clear is why there should be a big hurry to get these places cleaned out; it's not like there are people lining up to buy the properties, is it? It makes sense to drain the swimming pool, and get rid of the rotting food in the kitchen, but furniture?

No time to be discerning, just throw it "away."

One thing he forgot to mention Permalink to this item

In this week's debate between Democratic challenger Walt Minnick, Representative Bill Sali insisted that he'd been given a waiver to have his office where it is, in Idaho's other Congressional District, overriding the Committee on House Administration's rules.

Now the Idaho Press-Tribune reports that Sali's comical spokesman Wayne Hoffman noted that committee staff were not aware of its location outside the 1st District.

Handicapping post-election Idaho Permalink to this item

Randy Stapilus is looking ahead, and seeing our fair state still handicapped (or "blessed," depending on your point of view) with Republican-dominated elected officials. Then what? The battle for who gets to keep the big tent can play out between Romney Republicans, "more Main Street, business oriented, pragmatic (in the sense of being not especially ideological) and more wedded to the party than to the 'cause,' relatively willing to compromise (at least to a point)," and the Palin branch, "social conservatives, highly ideological, more interested in the cause than in the party."

Who is our Isaac Newton? Permalink to this item

George Dyson's essay on Economic Dis-Equilibrium has an interesting anecdote about the history of money, and then when it seems like he's just getting going, it's over. But still, an interesting read.

"The unlimited replication of information is generally a public good.... The problem starts, as the current crisis demonstrates, when unregulated replication is applied to money itself. Highly complex computer-generated financial instruments (known as derivatives) are being produced, not from natural factors of production or other goods, but purely from other financial instruments....

"The result is a game of musical chairs that follows von Neumann's model of an expanding economic equilibrium—until the music stops, or we bring in Isaac Newton, whichever comes first."

OK, that censorship didn't work too well Permalink to this item

The power of the principal ain't what it used to be. Welcome to the age of YouTube, Mr. Dan Bettin.

23.Oct.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

13 properties and how much in taxes? Permalink to this item

I think John and Cindy McCain have more houses than Jim and Vicki Risch, but according to KTVB's follow-up on the tax charges that LaRocco made and Risch rebutted in Tuesday night's debate, Risch has "13 pieces of property," with an unknown number qualifying for the state's agricultural exemption. Ysabel Bilbao confirmed that he might have benefited to the tune of $53,000 as LaRocco charged, or it could have been as little as $5,000 per year. That exemption's a big deal.

Some years back (before they had a website, and long before the real estate bubble), the Statesman did a feature on property taxes, and we shared the details of the property tax we were paying on our one-and-only residence with the world.

Seems like someone who's made a living in the public sphere as long as Jim Risch (or, for that matter, Larry LaRocco) ought to be happy to do the same. Waddayasay, Lieutenant? Tell us about all that property and the taxes you pay on it. We'd like to know.

(H/t to Betsy for the link to KTVB.)

$150k wardrobe?! Permalink to this item

Palin having a bad hair day Holy cow. Most of the blue collar folks being courted by Sarah Palin don't make $150,000 in two or three years, and that's what the McCain campaign is spending on her clothes? (Otherwise known as "campaign accessories.")

John Edwards' infamous $400 haircut seems like a fond memory by comparison. And no, the cheesy moose bag she's carrying (and the freakout hairdo) doesn't make her look more jes plain folks.

Like rats from a sinking ship Permalink to this item

Just one that we know of, but still: how bad does your pitch have to be for a telemarketer to refuse to read the script?! (Turns out Gail Collins once worked as a telemarketer, too, and she picked up the WKOW TV story via Mike Allen at Politico (after the jump and 3/4ths of the way down)).

Mountain Home News: Do not vote for President Permalink to this item

That's their non-endorsement! They couldn't bring themselves to endorse McCain, and it (almost) goes without saying that "the board did not believe that Democratic candidate Barack Obama represented the basic beliefs and philosophy of most Idaho voters and those in Elmore County in particular." So...

"As a result, the [editorial] board urges voters to actually skip that race on the ballot."

They went on to endorse Democrat Larry LaRocco for Senate, saying that Risch "shouldn't give up his day job," since he's "simply too representative of the old style of politics to win their support."

They wrapped up their list of endorsements for the local races with a reminder that this is a "pivotal election, from the national level to the local level..." and that "Every person's vote really does count."

Except for President. Don't vote for that.

Bull Elk for Senate Permalink to this item

Burley, Idaho water tower, at Donna and Heywood's studio In other campaign news, Rex Rammell has figured out (see BW story linked below) that the more people associate him with his elk, the better off he does in polls.

Which brings up the obvious winning strategy: Marvin Richardson changed his name to Pro-Life to make his point on the ballot, now we just need Rammell to change his name to Bull Elk. Brilliant!

A lesson in respect from Jim Risch Permalink to this item

Don't be afraid to ask him questions, boys and girls. If you ask a stupid one, why he'll be happy to tell you, to your face.

If you call a huge increase in the sales tax to fund a decrease in the property tax a "shift," you must be a Democrat, so then he doesn't have to answer your question. But hey, thanks for asking!

I'm sure that was worthwhile instruction from the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate at Capital High School.

He's shocked, shocked Permalink to this item

He didn't see much of a problem when the bubbles were building (although there was that "irrational exuberance" caution in the mid-90s that came and went), or when the winners were taking riches beyond avarice (and few were complaining while their boats were being floated), but now that the house of cards has come crashing down, credit Alan Greenspan for recognizing that there was "a flaw" in his thinking; greedy bankers acting in their perceived self-interest don't magically obviate market regulation.

All this time, who knew?

Even Idaho's loose wing Representative Bill Sali showed up to throw a little fuel on the fire this time (unlike the hearing where A.I.G. got grilled), wondering who was going to make mom and pop Idaho whole after the debacle. "Is somebody going to go to jail?"

Don't count on it. But to complete the Idaho connection, John Yarmuth (D-KY) brought up our car salesman and ex-Red Sox first basemen, Bill Buckner, to wax picturesque about the "error" of unregulated investment banking coming a-crapper.

Update: Mountain Goat picks up the story, with emphasis on the import for our CD-01 race between incumbent Sali and Democratic challenger Walt Minnick.

21.Oct.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Sarah, we hardly knew ya Permalink to this item

The media has been shaking all the bushes up in Moscow, Idaho, and nobody—nobody—seems to have any recollection whatsoever of Sarah Palin's brief attendance of the University of Idaho, putting the cap on her 4-college/5-stop journalism degree.

The hits keep coming Permalink to this item

Pro-Life: "The people who run this world, they're fascists, you know..."

Rammell: "That's something I would be ashamed of if I was a conservative."

Pro-Life: "There's nothing wrong with being green."

Rammell: "Jim Risch is an environmentalist!"

Pro-Life: "I think it's really humorous to hear socialists talking about fine-tuning socialism." (But at least they're not fascists?)

If I was king... Permalink to this item

That slipped past Pro-Life's lips talking about what budget items he'd cut, to fix our "debauched society," and I got to thinking how much he looks like Bert Lahr, and how much I would've liked it if he'd broken out into song.

Sparks fly, prayer answered in Senate debate Permalink to this item

Well, it didn't lack for drama, with "Mr. Pro-Life" unable to get through his one minute opening statement without moving himself to tears, and Rex Rammell inexplicably finding himself unable to stand at his podium for 15 minutes. Instant karma for making fun of how old his opponents are?

Things heated up when LaRocco accused Risch of personally benefiting from the big shift from property to sales tax that Risch engineered during his short stint as Governor. He saved as much as $53,000?

Risch: "With all due respect, Mr. LaRocco, that's a lie. I pay under $10,000 in property taxes and always have."

In the back and forth rebuttals, he lowered the bar, said he's paying less than $10,000 in property taxes, and offered to drop out of the race if he wasn't telling the truth, inviting LaRocco to do likewise if he was wrong.

Ok, but how do you manage paying so little property taxes when you have at least $17 million (something between that and $83 million) in real estate? Doesn't sound like he's pulling his weight to me.

Pro-Life: "Let's all say a little prayer in your heart that Mr. Rammell can get out here..." And poof! There was Rammell, coming back onstage, saying "I'm good"! Man, this Pro-Life guy might be onto something.

What it means to be an environmentalist Permalink to this item

Walt Minnick's opponent in the campaign for the 1st Congressional District seat in the U.S. House has tried to tar him with the label of radical environmentalist, which is passing strange in this state full of people who cherish the riches of the Rocky Mountain West for their individual reasons.

We all need to make a living, and resource exploitation is part of that, but for the vast majority of Idahoans, what brought us here, or what keeps us here is the quality of life, and the quality of the environment.

Minnick has served on the boards of the Wilderness Society, and the Idaho Conservation League, groups that have worked with Idaho's Senator Mike Crapo on the Owhyee Initiative to find a compromise that works with all stakeholders.

Judging by his preference for grandstanding, Sali seems to think actual political engagement is "radical"; in his two years in Congress, he hasn't seen fit to express support or participate in the Owhyee Initiative, even though the Owyhees are in his district.

Fly fishing the Boise River, Oct. 2008 While going through some of our collected treasures (otherwise known as "cleaning up some of the junk in our house"), Jeanette came across the November/December 1987 issue of the Idaho Arts Journal, in which she had a "Readers' Reviews" piece entitled "Let's Talk About It..." It's a review of the film A River Runs Through It, and an interview with Walt Minnick that says a lot about what matters in this part of the world, and why "environmentalist" is a prerequisite for representing this state, rather than the epithet Sali thinks it is.

I'm happy to feature Jeanette's piece from 21 years ago on this,'s 8th anniversary month, under the new title Rooted in the West.

My reconnoitering of my Montana roots began ten years after I rode out of the state in a '52 Chevy, vowing to leave all that mule-minded meanness behind. No more prairie storms and no more thin-lipped cowboys who equated easy talk, thoughtful talk with Eastern effeminacy.

But, I couldn't let go. A recognition of Montana's brand on me and a reconciliation of sorts has come through several writers—my sister, novelist Ivan Doig, and now, most ambivalently, through Norman Maclean.

A River Runs Through It is Maclean's fictionalized recollection of fly-fishing in western Montana with his brother, Paul. Maclean's love of the land and the art of fly-fishing are so strong that they nearly overwhelm the apparent story.

Like most Montanans I learn from confrontations, and so it is fitting that my response to A River Runs Through It deepened after talking about the book with an unabashed fan, Walt Minnick of Boise. Walt knows the state and one of its primary obsessions—fly-fishing—from family visits going back to childhood. He brings his affection for that unique part of the country and his acute powers of observation to his reading of Maclean's novella. Walt reads it as a love story on five levels, each satisfying and complete in itself....

Continued, on fortboise's home page...

Blind Faith Permalink to this item

Jim Risch has been a mainstay of Idaho politics for decades now, funding both his political hobby and ranching from a successful career as a trial lawyer, so the insiders probably know what to expect. Democrat Larry LaRocco and the other Republican, Rex Rammell (who the Statesman deemed unworthy of a profile to go with the other two) have been doing their best to call Risch out, get him debating, and responding to their ample criticism.

Risch's 29-2 campaign record suggests he knows what he's doing, sitting on a big lead, but any voters who would like to know have to put their faith in his party affiliation, because he mostly isn't talking about the issues.

KTVB (channel 7 in Boise) runs a 90 minute debate between LaRocco and Risch tonight, 6:30pm MDT, followed by Minnick and Sali at 8:30pm.

20.Oct.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Idaho 1st CD debate Permalink to this item

Missed the broadcast, but Idaho Public TV has the video archived for all to see. Minnick campaign spokesman John Foster runs down the highlights at Red State Rebels.

"We got a long way to go" Permalink to this item

President Bush, responding to calmer and more positive market action today, still urging caution:

"You know this 'thaw' took a while to thaw, it's going to take a while to unthaw."

Only 91 days to go.

19.Oct.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

October Sunday in Boise Permalink to this item

I went for a bike ride down to and over the river.

Fly fishing the Boise, Oct. 2008

Nothing like it.

Fishing the Boise River, Oct. 2008

Endorsement season Permalink to this item

Hard to top Colin Powell's endorsing Barack Obama, this morning on Meet the Press. Retired Army General, former Secretary of State, and an amazingly eloquent elder statesman. He says a lot of the same things others have been saying in recent weeks and months, but with stature that few—perhaps no one—in this country can match.

More locally, the Idaho Statesman endorsed Obama, too for many of the same reasons Powell spoke of. Out here where flaming left-wing radicalism starts in the neighborhood of "moderate" anywhere else, we can hardly wait for the flood of comments and letters denouncing the Statesman for being another outlet of the liberal MSM.

Joe the Plumber Strikes Back Permalink to this item

Sounds like a worse sequel to a bad movie, doesn't it? I don't know if he's mad as hell, but he's a little mad anyway, and he's not going to take it any more (maybe) now that he's done with his appearance on Mike Huckabee's Fox "News" talk show, and maybe a cameo with John McCain today.

Can't a guy ask a question of his leaders anymore?

Odd sentiment coming from the guy who so famously could and did, and got promoted to icon by one of them.

Take it from Abe the Accountant, Joe. Be happy you're paying taxes, it means you're making money.

18.Oct.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

"Candidates never govern better than they run" Permalink to this item

That's an observation that'll give you pause, along with the Capital Times' forthright endorsement of Barack Obama from Wisconsin's capital city, right next door to the birthplace of the G.O.P.

"For Republicans who care about their party and their country, it is right to consider voting for Barack Obama. Rejecting the cynical political machinations of John McCain and Sarah Palin will not destroy the Republican Party. It will free the party in particular and American politics in general to seek a better balance and the higher ground."

17.Oct.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The small town elite Permalink to this item

I've lived in or near 6 or 7 different cities, and one tourist town, and I never really stopped to consider the question of which ones were more or less "real America." Could the question possibly make sense?

Or could Sarah Palin's notion that virtue varies inversely with population density be more insulting to those of us who somehow manage to live virtuous lives at higher population density?

So much for that talking point. Can't be calling city folk unpatriotic when you want them to vote for you, now can you?

Orrin Hatch, Late Night Permalink to this item

I don't who's really writing the stuff going out under Senator Orrin Hatch's name for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, but I trust it's some low-paid staffer looking after the party fundraising while the good Senator from Utah looks after his day job, the one we're paying him $169,300 a year to do.

Today's NRSC missive comes under the ever-popular subject, "Joe the Plumber."

"Dear T," it begins, "Americans are catching on."

"Every once in a while, a small crack opens up in Barack Obama's smooth and polished persona, and the truth shines through...."

Let me see if I understand this. You're saying Joe, the (unlicensed) Plumber, has exposed a small crack?

Buffett, Bulls, Bears, Donkeys, Elephants Permalink to this item

Excerpt of graphic from the NYT, Oct. 14, 2008 Every lede in the country's business sections can use the "another tumultuous week in the markets" phrase for its Saturday rundown, and blended with the home stretch of the election season, it's quite the stew. Tommy McCall offers a hopeful forecast (if you think our next President will be a Democrat, and believe, contrary to the fine print that's been sent your way a hundred times, that past results are indicative of future performance), in the form of a larger-than-life Op-Chart on the NYT, comparing average annualized return of the stock market (as measured by S&P indices over the years) under "red" and "blue" Presidents.

Herbert Hoover gets asterisked. Perhaps Bill Clinton should too? But then there's Nixon and Bush-I that countervail the long-term trend of prosperity. Does the President's party matter that much, or are there larger forces that have determined these unique historical outcomes? (Of course there are.) What about graphing the numbers by which party controlled Congress? It gets more complicated, with no guarantee of greater illumination.

The bigger question is what to do next? Warren Buffett, who apparently knows a lot more about investing than I do, says he's going to Buy American.

"A simple rule dictates my buying: Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful. And most certainly, fear is now widespread, gripping even seasoned investors."

There was a possibly brilliant ad in the newspaper from one of the local banks. Many have been buying ink to reassure their customers that they're strong and safe. This one featured "BORING" CD interest rates. (And did we mention the Federal Deposit Insurance?) But that's looking in the rear-view mirror, isn't it? You should have been in boring CDs for the past year or two (or seven?!), but look forward:

"Today people who hold cash equivalents feel comfortable. They shouldnít. They have opted for a terrible long-term asset, one that pays virtually nothing and is certain to depreciate in value. Indeed, the policies that government will follow in its efforts to alleviate the current crisis will probably prove inflationary and therefore accelerate declines in the real value of cash accounts."

As always, Your Mileage May Vary.

16.Oct.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

"There's millions of words in a campaign" Permalink to this item

That was McCain's excuse for his running mate's repeated use of the word terrorists—plural, no droppin' the final consonant on that, and ya really have to concentrate with three in a row like that—rather than just terrorist, singular, when all she—they—have is the old, washed-up bogus guilt-by-association story McCain did his best to sell last night, and didn't.

Now that he finally showed up on Letterman, and had his chance to try the same talking points to an audience really more interested in something funny, Dave pinned him on the point. Name another "terrorist" he's been "palling around with," wouldja?

Nope. Ha ha, there's millions of words tossed around in the campaign, Dave. And hell, that's just one letter, it's not even a whole word!


Really taking the high road there, Senator.

Categorically proud Permalink to this item

Here are some of the people John McCain says he's proud of, havin' a rally with Sarah Palin.

Say it ain't so, Joe! Permalink to this item

Turns out he's not a licensed plumber... and we don't know which way his taxes are going to go, but we do know he owes $1,200 in back taxes.

Candidate for the best in-line joke: "Wurzelbacher had to deal with a clog of two dozen reporters outside his home..."

Meanwhile, the McCain campaign has recruited Joe for a starring roll in Toledo on Sunday. How 'bout them Republicans, all in favor of the regular Joe? Who knows, maybe he'll even register to vote.

Update, 17.Oct: Turns out he is registered thankyouverymuch, but with his name misspelled. Since he's white, he'll probably be OK to vote.

Are Republicans aiming to steal another election? Permalink to this item

That's the most obvious inference to draw from the way they're flogging the problems of a small number of registration forms coming through ACORN. McCain's "fabric of democracy" talking point last night might be alarming if we hadn't already seen the fabric rent so badly in Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004.

We've seen this movie before.

Look for it in a swing state near you, maybe Nevada, Pennsylvania, Ohio or Florida again.

Debate recovery Permalink to this item

I loved Schieffer's opening proposition for last night's debate:"By now, we've heard all the talking points, so let's try to tell the people tonight some things that they haven't heard." The more interactive format did actually work to provide some useful give-and-take, and a forum that short-circuited the kind of free-wheeling partisan attacks that have been the focus of McCain and Palin going into the home stretch. Instead of the pally Palin soundbite, we actually got to hear Obama answer the b.s. about Ayers directly.

Here's my tax plan: let's just shut up about reducing taxes for the moment, and see if we can somehow straighten out the financial meltdown and the recession that's likely to cost millions of jobs, on top of 8 years of pathetic job growth during the two terms of Bush and Cheney.

Joe Wurzelbacher is going to have to do the best he can with his plumbing career, and deciding whether or not he wants to transition to being a small business owner instead. If he does, and if he goes from whatever he makes as a plumber to a $quarter million annual income, you betcha his taxes are going to go up, but he'll be happy to have the extra income, don't you think?

It's not so much about "sharing" the wealth as it trying to recover some of it before it's gone forever. Having Bush and Cheney drive the country into a ditch was one thing; having it go over a cliff would be quite another.

I want to hear Adlai Stevenson's message, not a bunch of cocked-up last minute ideas that will be thoroughly trashed by two houses of Congress before any laws are made. Hank Paulson had to change his big plans within a week or two of making them. By January 20, there will be a lot more suprises to deal with, I'm sure.

Ok, enough seriousness. On with the show. Gail Collins:

"For a while, it seemed as if Joe was sitting right there at the table. McCain began addressing him directly through the TV screen. ("If youíre out there, my friend...") Then, at one point, Obama joined in the discussion with the phantom plumber, and the two candidates for president of the United States argued over whose health care plan Joe would like the best. By next week, I expect Joe will have his own cable TV show. Or at a minimum, a really fancy blog."

Old-fashioned campaigner Permalink to this item

NPR had a piece about the 1952 presidential campaign yesterday, When TV Changed Politics: Adlai Stevenson Vs. Ike. That was before my time as we say, and I never had the chance to reject one approach Stevenson took to campaigning: 30 minute blocks on TV, with him speaking the whole time about important issues.

The medium is the message, and the only place for that kind of TV is late-night Cable for Insomniacs, I'm afraid. Nevertheless, one hopelessly candid statement Stevenson made stands out:

"I don't like taxes. I doubt if anybody does. I shall do everything I can to reduce them. But I shall make no promises that I know I cannot keep."

Those were the good old days, eh?

15.Oct.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Thank You Permalink to this item


The wild claims of two men sitting at a table Permalink to this item

Which one can cut our taxes more than the other? How thoroughly can McCain repudiate the policies and ideology of the Republican Party? Which one can pander most effectively to Joe the Plumber? Which one can call on the other to repudiate more things that other people have said?

"I'm proud of the people who come to our rallies," John McCain says, "categorically." Even those ones that make your head jerk reflexively when you hear what they shout?

Is he proud of "making Bill Ayers the centerpiece of his campaign," as Obama described what's been going on for the last several weeks? Apparently, and he wants to keep working that angle, along with the one about ACORN being on the verge of destroying the fabric of democracy in this country. (And to think they and McCain used to be friends.)

Where in the world will McCain suggest Obama needs to go next in order to understand something or other?

I see that the FactCheck Wire is staying ahead of the game, with all the dish on the most famous future plumbing business owner in the country, his healthcare, the 100% negative ads, and much, much more.

Bill Sali, Buffoon Permalink to this item

Idaho's 1st Congressional District Representative is doing everything he can to demonstrate that he thinks government is a joke. Are we all supposed to laugh along at the hijinx? If voters in the the 1st District send him back to Washington, it's hard to imagine the joke's not going to be at their expense.

Liars of various stripes Permalink to this item

The man is certifiable—certified, in fact, back in the 70s—which apparently makes him perfect for Fox "News":

"But an appearance in a documentary-style program on the Fox News Channel watched by three million people last week thrust the man, Andy Martin, and his past into the foreground. The program allowed Mr. Martin to assert falsely and without challenge that Mr. Obama had once trained to overthrow the government."

Over at the Left Side of the Moon, Rachel Maddow responds to Sarah Palin's inversion ("spin" is too generous a term) of the result of her ethics investigation. No evidence that Palin is deranged, so scratch that as a possible excuse.

Southern Idaho has its own rabid wingnut soiling the airwaves, Zeb Bell and KBAR, still vamping the long-debunked Obama myths of the sort that Andy Martin got going.

14.Oct.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

News from back home Permalink to this item

A resident of Julia Davis park The Anchorage Daily News: Palin vindicated? Governor offers Orwellian spin.

"Perhaps Gov. Palin has been too busy to actually read the Troopergate report. Perhaps she is relying on briefings from McCain campaign spinmeisters.

"Because if she had actually read it, she couldn't claim 'vindication' with a straight face....

"In fact, the report concluded that 'impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda, to wit: to get Trooper Michael Wooten fired.'...

"You asked us to hold you accountable, Gov. Palin. Did you mean it?"

Also in the ADN: "The state Personnel Board investigation of Gov. Sarah Palin's firing of Walt Monegan has broadened to include other ethics complaints against the governor and examination of actions by other state employees, according to the independent counsel handling the case."

Yer flag decal Permalink to this item

Now Jesus don't like killin'
no matter what the reasons for

I can't read about this subject without hearing John Prine singing, and it amazes me that we could possibly, possibly be talking about this as if it were a meaningful issue in any political campaign, much less one for President of the United States of America.

Since John McCain seems to have opted out, perhaps the ranks of "patriots" can give it a rest as well, and acknowledge that putting country first does not have anything to do with jewelry.

13.Oct.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

McCain/Palin thrashing harder Permalink to this item

Yet another new economic proposal from the McCain campaign, "lowering tax rates for investors and cutting the capital gains tax."

Aye carumba, after the bloodbath in the markets over the last couple weeks, the last thing investors are worried about is cutting the capital gains tax. It would be more advantageous to have a higher cap gains rate to reduce the sting of the losses people have been taking. You have to income to worry about income tax.

And Palin, found to have acted unethically, somehow doesn't get the message, claims she's so-pleased to be vindicated? I know how well the Karl Rove strategy of repeating lies often enough to have people believe them works, but this is just incredible. An apology is in order, not a conference call to tell reporters how "pleased" she is.

Five hours well spent Permalink to this item

Congratulations to my brother Phil, for running in—and finishing!—his first-ever Marathon. Now he can take up the violin. Or something.

Speaking of predatory lending Permalink to this item

How many of the hundreds of thousands of people winding up in 21st century debtors court do you suppose have ever heard the word "usury," much less know what it means?

It's so last-century.

In this century, the lawyer for the bank shows up with the defendant's name and a number, with a generous allowance to cut the accumulated interest and fees by half if the defendant shows up and is willing to negotiate. Not a bad deal for the bank when the fees are bloated by a factor of four.

Desperately seeking scapegoat Permalink to this item

Let's see, which story is more plausible: "poor people crashed the global economy," or "the greedy 'geniuses' running investment banks leveraged themselves into oblivion"?

The McCain campaign (and the ugliest and most rabid Right base) are pushing the first option as hard as they can, and throwing in a big dollop of racism and a little third-hand guilt-by-association against Obama for good measure, attacking the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, Inc. Here's what ACORN says in their defense:

"In his newest ad, John McCain's campaign bizarrely claims, 'ACORN forced banks to issue risky home loans, the same types of loans that caused the financial crisis we're in today.' Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, ACORN has worked successfully to help working class families get good home loans on fair terms from legitimate banks and has fought vigorously against predatory lenders who have ripped off families in our communities. These predatory loans caused the crisis."

BradBlog has more on the G.O.P. blame game.

12.Oct.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Joe Six-pack says BOOOO Permalink to this item

And it's a vast right-wing media conspiracy to cover it up. Gina was there, and provides the first-hand account.

H/t to LSotM (with video).

11.Oct.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Mob scene Permalink to this item

The dogs—and lipstuck pitbull—that McCain and his campaign have unleashed are running ahead of him, and may well be beyond his tepid attempts to quell their anger.

Frank Rich:

Until now. At McCain-Palin rallies, the raucous and insistent cries of "Treason!" and "Terrorist!" and "Kill him!" and "Off with his head!" as well as the uninhibited slinging of racial epithets, are actually something new in a campaign that has seen almost every conceivable twist. They are alarms. Doing nothing is not an option.

Who is this really? Permalink to this item

First robo-connect failed, but the second one came through just after I'd looked up the number on caller ID, and tried calling it to find that the number from a western Missouri area code, (816) 248-8510 was "not in service." She said she was calling for "Idaho Voter Research," and wanted to know which I was most concerned with, followed by a list to choose from.

"What is the name of your company?" I asked, and she repeated the name, which has no hits on Google, then her first question, "what are you most concerned about..."

I said, "I'm most concerned about people abusing my phone service and spoofing caller ID." She said she'd put me down for that, and sounded ready to keep going with the next question, but I hung up.

Turns out that Idaho Code has something to say about "persuasive polling," which I'm guessing this was. At the end of the poll, they have to "disclose the name and telephone number of the person, candidate, political party or political committee that requested or compensated the person for the poll." If I'd toughed it out, and they failed to do that, they'd be subject to a $250 fine ($2,500 for a "person other than as an individual") fine and 6 months in jail.

Seems like it would be good to have a recording device on the phone this time of year...

Might want to check the dictionary for "vindicated" Permalink to this item

The "long-awaited Alaska legislative report concluded that Republican Sen. John McCain's vice-presidential running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, abused her authority and broke state ethics law by trying to remove her former brother-in-law from his job as a state trooper," according to the Wall Street Journal. They say that 12 of the 14 members of the panel voted unanimously "to release the findings to the public." (14 members are more than a quarter of Alaska's legislature, by the way.)

Palin's spokesman says she "feels absolutely vindicated." The McCain campaign said the report "illustrates what we've known all along: this was a partisan led inquiry run by Obama supporters." (Even better than Burger King: not only can you have it your way, you can have it both ways!)

I didn't see how "Obama supporters" figured in the family feud, but the New York Times' report ended with the statement that "The McCain campaign flew operatives into Alaska to wage a public relations campaign to discredit the investigation and to help mount legal challenges to it." Shades of Florida, 2000.

The so-called First Gentleman is one of 10 people who refused to answer subpoenas, although word is that he agreed to answer some questions in writing. His wife, the maverick reformer executive and proponent of "transparency" was not subpoenaed, "out of deference to her position," but Palin did ignore the council's request for her to cooperate via a sworn statement.

For the record, the three findings relating to the Governer were that (1) Palin abused her power by violating the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act; (2) Palin's firing of the Commissioner of Public Safety was "proper and lawful" (not a very high bar, since the Governor has the authority to fire "at will, for almost any reason, or no reason at all"); and (3) the Attorney General's office "failed to substantially comply" with a request for emails related to the case, made two months ago.

The Governor's office did release a bunch of trancripts from employees who finally responded to the subpoenas too late for the council's report. (Is there... anything else you'd like to say in this matter by way of providing the whole truth?)

Reducing the size of the federal government Permalink to this item

Finally, Jim Risch came out of his undisclosed location and participated in a debate with the other candidates for U.S. Senate. There's no shortage of thinly disguised enmity between the two leading candidates, but outraged elk rancher Rex Rammell kept it more interesting:

"What happened to the Constitution, my friends? Did we just stick it in the drawer and forget it exists? Article 1, Section 8 is very specific on what powers the federal government has. They're listed and enumerated. All we have to do is follow the federal Constitution and a lot of this debt will simply go away....

"A lot of these programs are not found in the Constitution, and every one that's not should be eliminated."

Sorry about that, Air Force!

10.10.08 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Tomatoes are done Permalink to this item

Snow on tomato plants, Oct. 10 We covered them up night before last, and lit the pilot light on the furnace, anticipating the first freeze. Yesterday had a decided nip in the air with a NW wind bringing it in. Today, it was gloomy all day, looking like it wanted to rain or something...

The "or something" came in the form of heavy, wet snow this late afternoon. Maybe an inch of it, closer to slush than fluff.

Idaho: Ok, you students can too vote Permalink to this item

The Idaho Democratic Party pushed the issue of the verbiage on the Secretary of State's website which appears to be designed to discourage college students who come here from out of state from voting in Idaho. After a positive response,

they praised the Secretary's expressed intention to address the issue and change the language.

The Students and Voting Residency page is still far more obscure than it needs to be, and while they removed the threat that "Registering to vote is a serious matter which, if abused, can subject you to criminal penalties," they didn't make it clear what the law says. Boise attorney Tom Lloyd does:

"Idaho law simply requires residency in oneís current county for 30 days. Period. It does not require students to make any affirmation or speculation that they will remain here in future years."

According to Lloyd, if students know that after graduation they will definitely be returning to the state or county of their previous residence, they should not register to vote here. But students who either donít know where they will live after college or have "no definite plans" to leave are eligible to vote after living here for 30 days. He further encouraged students to go to the polls with a photo I.D. and a 30-day-old piece of mail to guarantee that they will not be challenged.

When I came to the University of Idaho from Wisconsin in 1975, I had no idea what the future would bring, or where it would take me. But I affirmed my intention to be a resident of Idaho for a number of reasons, not the least of which was to avoid paying out-of-state tuition for more than one year. As it happens, events demonstrate that I am a true blue Idahoan, but when did it happen? Arguably, when I landed in Lewiston and hitchhiked up the grade to the Palouse. Indisputably, when I'd maintained my primary abode here for 12 months. And most definitely when I voted for the first time in a Presidential election, in 1976.

Civil union: Separate and not equal Permalink to this item

I'm reading about the third state to legalize gay marriage and thinking about how and why domestic partnerships are a subject of laws, and contention.

"In 2005, the Connecticut Legislature passed civil union legislation, but the eight gay and lesbian couples who were plaintiffs in the case argued that the civil union law had created an unequal status for gay men and lesbians that did not confer upon them the same rights and protections as marriage."

The plaintiffs in the case "contend that marriage is not simply a term denominating a bundle of legal rights," according to the text of the ruling, but rather "an institution of unique and enduring importance in our society, one that carries with it a special status."

Interesting; that's the argument from conservative religion, too. It's unique, and must be kept away from same sex couples. But the Connecticut Legislature recognized the need to recognize the rights of same-sex couples, albeit under a new status, and the Court found that Connecticut's Constitution leads from that to the right to marry:

"We agree with the plaintiffs that, despite the legislatureís recent establishment of civil unions, the restriction of marriage to opposite sex couples implicates the constitutional rights of gay persons who wish to marry a person of the same sex."

Must have proper labelling! Permalink to this item

Merilly Hines, writing from Garden Valley, Idaho, publishes a classic in the annals of local Letters to the Editor. The editor put the headline Party labels aid voters on it.

Ms. (?) Hines says she's "a conservative voter," and she wants to know why Democrat Walt Minnick doesn't show his party affiliation in his ads.

"Isn't he proud to be a Democrat? I believe that it's devious and typical of today's Democrats. Lying by words, or lack thereof, seems to be second nature to them."

"It makes all the difference to most of us when we are selecting a candidate for whom to vote. The Republican philosophy (ideally) is less federal government and more states' rights. The Dems favor "Big Brother" caring for us from womb to tomb."

In other words, I have a fully-formed stereotype impenetrable to contradictory fact or rational argument. Labelling is essential, lest I vote for someone in the wrong party by accident!

Hines might be reassured to know that her ballot will show party affiliation, and she won't have to actually think in order to cast her vote for Representative. (If she's actually bothering to vote that is; most anyone who has would know this, wouldn't they?) She can vote for the party of "less federal government" and "more states' rights" to her heart's content.

9.Oct.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Say it ain't so, Sarah! Permalink to this item

Three dozen calls trying to get your ex-brother-in-law sacked?! We know you can read the New York Times now, so you've seen the story. What do you have to say for yourself? And your First Dude? Whatever it is, don't try that "liberal media" crap—you got some 'splainin' to do.

John McCain: Steady strain Permalink to this item

It didn't occur to me that accepting public funding precluded the McCain campaign from fundraising to the home stretch, probably because the fundraising messages "from" him and Sarah Palin kept rolling in. I noticed the fine print at the bottom, after the pitch to send money now:

"Because the McCain-Palin Campaign is participating in the presidential public funding system, it may not receive contributions for any candidate's election. However, federal law allows the McCain-Palin Campaign's Compliance Fund to defray legal and accounting compliance costs and preserve the Campaign's public grant for media, mail, phones, and get-out-the-vote programs. Contributions to McCain-Palin Victory 2008 will go to the Compliance Fund, and to participating party committees for Victory 2008 programs."

Huh. So, please send money to "defray legal and accounting compliance costs" so we can spend our public grant on all the sleazeball ads we want to run. Yeah, I don't think so.

Anyway, in the message he plays on his Navy career, and the phrase describing "the need to keep lines between ships steady to avoid a sudden jerk or movement that could easily snap the line." Weird metaphor, if you ask me. Is he telling us he's about to snap?

The GOP tells her what to say... now you can too! Permalink to this item

Enter the PALIN drome.

Update: Apparently the application was more popular than scalable. They're working on it, though.

Two-faced Permalink to this item

So, in the "town hall meeting," he's forceful and direct, but oh-so polite, or at least civil. Out on the stump, he's a snarky, vile, back-stabbing smear machine. Isn't that special. I don't know that the feeding his "kill 'im!" base is going to do much for his increasingly desperate campaign at this point, but it is going to drag this campaign further down into the mud.

It's already pretty low. It was weeks ago that Karl Rove said he thought both sides were going too far.

8.Oct.8 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Don't Panic Permalink to this item

Such good advice, for everything from minor accidents, to airplane evacuation or global financial meltdowns.

All things must pass.

Take a dose of Rudyard Kipling and call me in the morning.

Match the Hatch Permalink to this item

In one of the more bizarre endorsements I've come across, the Idaho Statesman has recommended voters send Christ Troupis (rhymes with "frist" in case you were wondering) to the Idaho Senate. This is in spite of the fact that he's more conservative than "many" in the district in their estimation (or "most" in mine), his anti-government ideology (opposing any new revenue for highways when most agree that the state has a backlog of hundreds of millions of dollars in roadwork), his fiscally contradictory support for a medical school in the state, and his legal work for religous right activists.

His opponent, Les Bock, served ably in the Idaho House, and "has proven himself a sharp, committed lawmaker." The endorsement of his opponent for the state Senate as his first elected office hinges on this:

"We think Troupis is better positioned to get results in a Republican Statehouse."

There's no question that the moderate electorate in the Treasure Valley has suffered at the hands of the Republican-dominated Legislature, and the shift from moderate Republican members to moderate Democrats in the last election gave more power to the extreme elements of the state's G.O.P. The district in question, 16, elected a Democrat to the Senate and 2 Democrats to its House seats in 2006. Meanwhile, the Republicans ousted their moderate Speaker of the House, and then this summer, replaced its moderate Executive Director with a more extreme conservative as well.

And our response is supposed to be to follow this trend so that we can better get along? Do our best to get someone who looks most like one of the most extreme legislatures in the country? I'd rather elect Bock, who has demonstrated he is capable of representing our views, and who knows his way around the Statehouse.

I think a lot more of the endorsements of Governor Cecil Andrus, Representative Margaret Henbest and Senator David Langhorst than this lame excuse from the Statesman.

7.Oct.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Florida still can't count ballots Permalink to this item

From Wired:

"A month of primary recounts in the election battleground of Palm Beach County, Florida, has twice flipped the winner in a local judicial race and revealed grave problems in the county's election infrastructure, including thousands of misplaced ballots and vote tabulation machines that are literally unable to produce the same results twice....

"At issue is an Aug. 26 primary election in which officials discovered, during a recount of a close judicial race, that more than 3,400 ballots had mysteriously disappeared after they were initially counted on election day. The recount a week later, minus the missing ballots, flipped the results of the race to a different winner.

"The county eventually found the missing ballots after a prolonged hunt. But it also turned up an additional 200 or so ballots that officials never knew were missing and that were never counted in the original tabulation of the race. A recently completed recount -- with all of the ballots -- has restored victory to the original winner...."

Townhall debate moment Permalink to this item

Obama triggered a change to the the rules, to dig into the issue of fighting terrorism, after McCain used some of his stump attack on Obama.

Obama: "No one called for an invasion of Pakistan. Senator McCain continues to repeat this. What I said was the same thing that the audience here today heard me say, which is, if Pakistan is unable or unwilling or unable to hunt down bin Laden and take him out, then we should."

McCain's response, after he had to explain that it was just a joke with an old veteran friend to "bomb bomb bomb Iran," did his best to assure the audience that he was the Fearless Leader we needed for this moment.

McCain: "I know how to handle these crises, and Senator Obama by saying that he would attack Pakistan, and look at the context of his words. I'll get Osama bin Laden, my friends, I'll get 'im. I know how to get 'im. I'll get 'im, no matter what. And I know how to do it, but I'm not going to telegraph my punches, which is what Senator Obama did. And I'm gonna act responsibily as I've acted responsibly throughout my military career and throughout my career in the United States Senate...."

Fascinating stuff. Does McCain's act work to reassure any of these Undecideds, I wonder? He's trying to pitch smart, savvy, wise, and fearsome all at once, and it's not working on me, especially when he works to twist his opponents words less than a minute after they were said. And especially after reading about some of the details about his military career in the last couple days; even giving him some slack for disputed elements, "acted responsibly throughout (his) military career" is a bald-faced lie.

Even the blogs are getting ugly Permalink to this item

Well OK, some have been ugly all along, but I would've thought the comments in a campaign's blog would be pretty well vetted. A lot of people have something to say, and there must be more important tasks for campaign staffers to attend to, though. I didn't read through very many of the comments under the McPain campaign's "Dangerous" ad post, but there were some interesting ones. For example:

"reform, prosperity, peace?
All I see coming from the McCain campaign is fear, hatred, anger.
That makes me sad, sickened, repulsed."

And a very thoughtful one from "Preston":

"I watched this new ad and I've been reading these blog entries and I have to say that I've got a pretty sour taste in my mouth.

"I always been a loyal Republican and I fully planned to vote for McCain, though I don't agree with him on some core issues. I'm not so troubled that all of his recent ads have a negative tone to them (that always seems to happen in presidential campaigns), but I am bothered that the claims he makes are either patently false or incredible distortions (even the Wall Street Journal agrees). How can I feel good about winning an election by lying to the electorate?...

"I am also troubled by the fact that McCain and Pailn are now repeating these distortions about Obama and Ayers. From everything that I read (and I read a lot), they were simply colleagues on a charitable board of trustees. Obama wasn't even an adult during Ayers's radical days.

"It is little wonder—given these new ads—that Obama has chosen to go after John for his role as one of the Keating Five. That isn't just guilt by association and it isn't fabricated.

"I want to vote for McCain, but my conscience is putting up a pretty strong fight right now...."

"It's cool, I want them to ask me the questions" Permalink to this item

She just doesn't want to answer them. "We have absolutely nothing to hide," she said, once upon a time. In July. In August, it was "We will fully cooperate with the Legislature's investigation."

These days the cooperation is a bit less than "full," although the Anchorage Daily News reports that Todd Palin is going to at least answer questions under subpoena. As long as they're in writing, and funneled through his lawyer.

And Rita Beamish reports (AP) on the other clouds in front of "Alaska sunshine" during Palin's term. She ran on "transparency," and then turned as opaque as the previous office holders when it was her turn.

That's the kind of flip-floppin' "reform" we've already had more than enough of in Washington.

Branded Permalink to this item

Terrellita Maverick says she's enraged at the current misuse of her family name by the G.O.P. ticket. John Schwartz reports that the "family has been known for its progressive politics since the 1600s, when an early ancestor in Boston got into trouble with the law over his agitation for the rights of indentured servants."

Ms. Maverick says John McCain "is in no way a maverick, in uppercase or lowercase."

"It's just incredible—the nerve!—to suggest that heís not part of that Republican herd. Every time we hear it, all my children and I and all my family shrink a little and say, ĎOh, my God, he said it again.í"

"He's a Republican," she said. "He's branded."

An even more annoying means of "phone support" Permalink to this item

After responding to an Intuit coupon offer to upgrade my 4-year old copy of Quicken, and seeing the "free" software packages they were bundling with it that looked better than the usual shovelware, I placed the order, downloaded my shiny new bits, and...

Where's that other stuff they promised? (Did they promise? Or was this an internet bait-and-switch scam?)

The contact phone number led through a menu that finally told me to use their whizzy new web interface to request a callback. I won't have to sit on hold for 20 or 40 minutes, that's nice, right? Well, after being warned that it may cost me $24.95 (directly; my time is of course worth nothing to them), but that "Questions relating to purchasing or installing the product are always free," I filled out the form, and so on.

It turns out it's actually pretty annoying to hold your telephone "free" for an hour. A friend called during the early part of the wait. "Can I call you back?" I asked, as quickly as I could with out being too rude.

68 minutes after the auto-reply told me they'd call in 60, Ashish gave a jingle... from India, sounds like. I told him my story, and he said "You do not need to worry," they will send me LegalBusinessPro and WillMaker. That offer was limited to shipped products, he notes. I actually wanted to order a hard copy, I noted; their user interface failed if they really wanted to offer me my choice of delivery.

At some point in the conversation, while he had to wait for his computer system (I imagine), he casually asked me how the weather was here. "Beautiful," I said, looking out on early fall sunshine on oak leaves, still dark green and madly photosynthesizing to build acorns to drop on our roof. "A little chilly this morning..." (I hesitated, thinking it would be polite to convert to Celsius for him, but not having the number handy enough), "in the 40s. It'll be up in the 70s later."

"How about where you are?"

He did have to convert, came up with "87 or 88 today, I think." "Where's that?" I asked, wondering if his company had a rule not to answer such questions. Whether or not they do, he did: "New Delhi."

"Where it's the middle of the night, huh?"

Not quite -- still early in the night, IST being UTC+5:30, 11½ hours ahead of MDT, not quite 10pm.

"What a world," I said, and asked for some numeric confirmation of our transaction. Not that I don't trust people in New Delhi, or course.

"You do not need to worry."

Speaking of old associations Permalink to this item

I guess I wasn't paying close attention to the Paul Begala part of last Sunday's Meet the Press, looking forward to the later part of the show. Part of the transcript:

"This guilt by association path is going to be trouble ultimately for the McCain campaign. You know, you can go back—Iíve written a book about McCain. I had a dozen researchers go through him. I didnít even put this in the book. But John McCain sat on the board of a very right-wing organization. It was the U.S. Council for World Freedom. It was chaired by a guy named John Singlaub, who wound up involved in the Iran-Contra scandal. It was an ultraconservative right-wing group. The Anti-Defamation League, in 1981, when McCain was on the board, said this about this organization. It was affiliated with the World Anti-Communist League, the parent organization, which ADL said, 'has increasingly become a gathering place, a forum, a point of contact for extremists, racists and Anti-Semites.' Now, thatís not John McCain. I donít think he is that. But, but, you know, the problem is that a lot of people know John McCain's record better than Governor Palin, and he does not want to play guilt by association or this thing could blow up in his face."

Now this stuff is in the news along with the Keating Five history and the taxes Sarah Palin's owes for the perks she's been racking up from Alaska.

6.Oct.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Five Idaho Republicans for Minnick

Down and dirty Permalink to this item

With a biography like this, John McCain wants his campaign to work the angle of a couple of Obama's less upstanding acquaintances? Now that's chutzpah. Could be real interesting tomorrow night if the gloves come off. That McNasty John is not very far below the surface right now.

In the script the handlers have fed Palin to regurgitate, William Ayers is imagined to be at the "beginning" of Obama's political carreer, with no real evidence for that. Whereas convicted felon Charles Keating, later at the center of the Lincoln Savings and Loan debacle, actually was instrumental in McCain's political rise.

"(Keating) raised more than $100,000 for McCain's race, lavished the first-term congressman with the kind of political favors that would make Jack Abramoff blush. McCain and his family took at least nine free trips at Keating's expense, and vacationed nearly every year at the mogul's estate in the Bahamas. There they would spend the days yachting and snorkeling and attending extravagant parties in a world McCain referred to as 'Charlie Keating's Shangri-La.' Keating also invited Cindy McCain and her father to invest in a real estate venture for which he promised a 26 percent return on investment. They plunked down more than $350,000.

Not that Keating was the only hand up McCain has enjoyed. The grandson and son of Admirals, and the benefactor of his 2nd wife's inherited fortune, he's another child of privilege looking for a ticket to the top.

5.Oct.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Debate, deconstructed Permalink to this item

Interesting to see Gwen Ifill speak for herself on Meet the Press today....

"The understanding that we had (with the candidates) was that we were going to have debate. One of the interesting things about a debate that people forget, especially with this one, there was so much obsession about Sarah Palin, is that there are two people on the stage, and their jobs are to debate each other. The moderator's job is to control their debate. If they have decided, as Joe Biden decided, that he was going to debate John McCain, as she decided, she was going to give a stump speech to the American people there's very little a moderator can do...

"(I)f she wasn't challenged... by her competitor, I had another job to do at the table....

"(Palin) was transaparent in her intentions, when she said 'I won't listen to the moderator, I won't answer the questions,' that allowed people at home to say 'oh, she's not answering the questions tonight, what is she trying to do?'"

Ifill also laughed off the b.s. about how biased she was because of her book, for which she hasn't written the chapter about Obama yet. (I was wondering how all the right-wing nutjobs knew all about it but I didn't; it's easier if you just use your imagination.)

O Wad Some Gif' Permalink to this item

Jon Kelly's riding the bus—the BBC election bus—across the country, and blogging America, one month from the Big Vote. Interesting point of view.

4.Oct.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Palin sounds as inside Washington as Karl Rove Permalink to this item

All of a sudden. And hey, she reads the New York Times when it suits her. Picks out the facts she likes, and turns 'em into insinuation.

Very patriotic. Very down home.

Creepy campaign quote of the day Permalink to this item

John McCain wanted to know: "How can you countenance someone who was engaged in bombings that could have or did kill innocent people?"

He wasn't addressing this to the President or Vice President from his party, nor to himself. Apparently his conscience is clear for however many bombing runs he made himself. No, this is fishing for dirt in muddy waters.

In the news because of the Straight Talk Express' squeaky clean campaign? Not exactly. The only chance left for McCain is to change the subject to anything other than the economy and get downright McNasty.

It'll feed the base, for sure. But win over the undecided?

3.Oct.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Astounding helpfulness Permalink to this item

Pogue spent his latest column on Tech Tips for the Basic Computer User, most of which I know, but some of which I don't. You may know them all, but I bet you don't. And I'm certain you don't know every one of the follow-on tips in the 500+ comments. (Of course, looking through all 500 is a bit of a slog... but make a note of this and mine it when you're looking for ways to sharpen your saw.)

"Nobody, but nobody, is going to give you half of $80 million to help them liberate the funds of a deceased millionaire... from Nigeria or anywhere else."

Executive pay, in perspective Permalink to this item

Tom Randall and Jamie McGee, reporting on

"The $3.1 billion paid to the top five executives at [Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Merrill, Lehman. and Bear Stearns] between 2003 and 2007 was about three times what JPMorgan spent to buy Bear Stearns."

Quote check Permalink to this item

This is nice. Paul Krugman tracked down the Ronald Reagan quote that Palin signed off with last night.

"When did he say this? It was on a recording he made for Operation Coffeecup — a campaign organized by the American Medical Association to block the passage of Medicare. Doctorsí wives were supposed to organize coffee klatches for patients, where they would play the Reagan recording, which declared that Medicare would lead us to totalitarianism."

In the tank Permalink to this item

Now Miss Congeniality is telling the press how to do their jobs?! In her peripatetic college career, winding up at the University of Idaho, she studied journalism don't you know, and with the benefit of that education, she's here to tell us (not directly, mind you, but with oh-so-professional insinuation) that Gibson and Couric were unethical in their questioning of her.

But hey, she's spunky enough to take it. "Bring it on!" she might say. "...this is all about 'gotcha' journalism. A lot of it is. But that's okay, too."

Dear Senator Hatch: Permalink to this item

I'm not sure how to respond to the messages you're sending out via the National Republican Senatorial Committee, but you are clearly lending the prestige of your position as a U.S. Senator to the fundraising messages.

In yesterday's, you wrote: "The moderator of tonight's debate is in the tank for Obama -- this liberal PBS reporter is releasing a pro-Obama book ... to debut on inauguration day."

I think you owe Gwen Ifill a public apology for your cheap—and misguided—shot. Whatever her political opinions, she has long demonstrated her ability as a journalist to treat issues and candidates fairly, and without bias. Whatever is coming in her new book is utterly irrelevant to her work on-air.

And whatever her failings as the moderator last night, being "in the tank" for Obama was not one of them.

Fast and loose with the facts Permalink to this item

Not that the facts seem to matter for electing Presidents—they certainly didn't when George W. Bush was running—but our friends at run through last night's claims, rather studiously bouncing back and forth to make the errors feel evenly divided. Since people's reactions to the candidates are what matter, and corrections do not magically push out false perceptions and beliefs, I guess the misstatements add up to a tie.

That leaves us with our impressions. Was Palin's performance "vibrant and tactically clever" as David Brooks gushes, or "abysmal," showing a "paper thin" understanding of major policy issues, as Michael Cohen judges? Or was it bordering on incoherent, as Charles Blow thinks?

Brooks' comments right after the debate included the bizarre observation that Biden didn't say Obama's name enough, or nearly as much as Palin did for her running mate, which makes it clear what objectivity he may have doesn't work in real time. Others can count their way through the transcript, the Biden I saw was the one Cohen did: concise and disciplined, and, as the NYT editorial board put it, "showing a clear grasp of the big picture and the details. He left Ms. Palin way behind on most issues, especially foreign policy and national security, where she just seemed lost."

More from the bloviosphere:

Gideon Rachman was disappointed (along with 40 or 50 million others) that there was no "car-crash television." ("Biden occasionally broke the informal rules of the debate, by speaking coherently and making sense...")

Robert Schlesigner: machts nichts.

Sarah Studer scored a Palin Bingo.

Fort Mill U students: Palin was "sugar-coated," Biden strong and direct. "Joe Biden pretty much crushed Sarah Palin," Stephanie Luo said, Palin "speaks in generalizations and doesn't bring much substance."

McCain: "How about Sarah Palin last night, huh? How about her, huh?"

Obama: "How about that debate last night?"

IdaBlue: Pathetic.

"Smooth as a handle on a gun..." Permalink to this item

At our debate party last night, the crowd started the theme song for the "Maverick" every time Palin trotted out that chestnut, but it wasn't the right tune. Turns out the theme from Bonanza comes more readily to mind. Thanks to the Intertubes we can have a listen and remember those halcyon black and white days of James Garner and Jack Kelly, and wonder just what the heck the self-assigned nickname is supposed to mean for the McCain/Palin ticket.

Riverboat ring your bell!
Fare thee well, Annabelle
Luck is the lady that he loves the beeeesst
Natchez to New Orleans
Livin' on Jacks and Queens
Maverick is a legend of the Weeeeest.

Motion to Concur Permalink to this item

Another brilliant interactive graphic from the NYT, showing today's vote in the House of Represenatives, a motion to concur on the Senate amendments to the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, sending the bailout to George W. Bush for his signature. It artfully includes state-by-state party affiliation and Congressional District maps to slice and dice the 263-171 vote, this time with 73% of the Democrats and 46% of the Republicans joining to pass the bill.

The "show only certain districts" subsets reveal the stark population distribution of the West, with the interesting scattering of urban, suburban and rural districts, among other dimensions.

Speaking of caricatures Permalink to this item

Sarah Palin's a smart cookie, I'll give you that. After the cara-cari-mockery problem with Katie Couric, she practiced her delivery, and got it right the next time she tried, deriding the response to what she supposed was the worst thing Dick Cheney had done in his latest government job: "the duck hunting accident."

"...when we talk about the Bush administration, ah, there's a time, too, when Americans are gonna say, 'Enough is enough with your ticket,' on constantly looking backwards, and pointing fingers, and doin' the blame game."
–Sarah Palin
"The issue is, how different is John McCain's policy going to be than George Bush's? I haven't heard anything yet."
–Joe Biden

Presumably she was talking about the "quail hunting accident" where Cheney broke the first rule of hunting (don't shoot your buddies or their dogs), rather than the December 2003 slaughter of pen-raised ducks and pheasants at the Rolling Rock Club in Pennsylvania. (That was just good sporting fun, even if they didn't do it with a helicopter.)

And in last night's debate, she presented a high-energy (and ever-so slightly robotic) delivery vehicle for Republican talking points, smartly dodging direct answers to every inconvenient question and snapping back to "message," delivered with her imitable folksy charm, droppin' those g's (sometimes) and tossin' in a "doggone it" here and there.

Doncha just wanna go have a beer with her, and see if ya can get 'er to wink atcha?

Wondering how this could be the same person who looked like such an ignoramus in the one-on-one interviews, the answer (!) jumped out at me: she didn't have to answer any questions she didn't want to. I think Gwen Ifill did a fine (and nonpartisan, thankyouverymuch) job of moderating for the most part, but she failed in the task to make some effort to get the candidates—much more so for Palin than Biden—to answer the question. Otherwise, why spend the time and effort coming up with the questions?

"Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we've had probably in American history."
–Joe Biden

The was enough structure to keep it from being totally scripted and totally stump-style taking points mixed with anecdotes, but just barely. Let's focus on just one particular issue, that of our current Vice-President, and how things will change under the next sub-administration.

What does Sarah Palin think of Dick Cheney's lawyers reinterpretation of the U.S. Constitution, making his office a 4th branch of government?

"Well, our founding fathers were very wise there in allowing through the Constitution much flexibility there in the office of the vice president. And we will do what is best for the American people in tapping into that position and ushering in an agenda that is supportive and cooperative with the president's agenda in that position. Yeah, so I do agree with him that we have a lot of flexibility in there, and we'll do what we have to do to administer very appropriately the plans that are needed for this nation...."

I don't get the impression that she really knows what's in the Constitution, or thinks that it matters, much.

2.Oct.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

More dueling polls in Idaho's 1st CD Permalink to this item

Something strange going on behind the scenes as another pair of polls come out with contradictory numbers between Democratic challenger Walt Minnick, and Republican incumbent Bill Sali. The first one I saw was from Harstad Strategic Research, with essentially the same result as earlier this month: 44% for Minnick, 38% for Sali. The campaign's communication director tells me the poll was of 400 registered voters; a random sample that size should give results ±5% with 95% confidence.

Greg Smith & Associates has a checkered forecasting history, but fellow Republican Sid Smith is touting their new poll numbers from "200 likely voters," showing Sali over Minnick, 51-39%, "well outside of the margin of error" according to the press release. With a random sample of only 200, that margin would be ±7%. Likely voters? And why so few?

Oh that's right, Sali is still short of cash, isn't he? I guess those yard sales didn't really do the trick, and with shorter and cooler days, the season for those is kind of over.

Another view of the bailout Permalink to this item

I asked one of my big brothers what he thought. I trust his business sense, even though we're on opposite sides (if not poles) of the political spectrum. He replied, "I am a proponent of the legislation. Something needs to be done, because if Wall street fails, Main street goes with it."

That was the easy part. Then he went off on how we got here... He says it all started with "Loose lending standards that Bill Clinton forced on Fannie and Freddie during his administration." Not everyone can own their own home, and it doesn't appear that either candidate is willing to present that uncomfortable truth to the American people.

Accountability is lacking in Congress as well as on Wall Street, he noted. (Me, I'd settle for having businesses meet generally accepted accounting principles, but that seems too high a bar much of the time, too.) Then he went on to name names of Democrats who he thinks are to blame, or who are benefiting, and then said "no need to respond my blood pressure is already up."

Sheesh, couldn't even have a calm discussion in the family past one email each. Good think he doesn't keep up with my blog, he'd need medication for hypertension.

The suspense is killing us Permalink to this item

If, as Adam Brookes speculates from across the pond, "for once in politics, less is more," Joe Biden could have his hands full tonight. Sarah Palin has less to offer in every category except the one that Samuel Johnson noted: it's flat-out amazing that she didn't blink, swallow, and say "you've got to be kidding, Mr. McCain" when she got that call. Her ambition is not of the well-informed variety.

So maybe that's fine, and ignorance is bliss, and a fresh-faced imaginary Everywoman can capture the imagination of a sufficiently large (and sufficiently credulous) sector of the electorate that McCain can ride a pitbull to the White House.

But when she's off-script, and off photo-op, which surely must happen for a good portion of tonight's 90 minutes, she just looks like a car-, cari-, mockery of a real candidate, spouting gibberish or, as Fareed Zakaria put it, "a vapid emptying out of every catchphrase" that comes into her head on a topic. (Mercifully, even that doesn't take long, but still long enough to be painful.) Could the absurd conceit that the wicked media are browbeating her really stand up to a moment's scrutiny? Can Gwen Ifill's glowing presence fail to outshine our once-upon-a-time beauty queen?

Tune in at 7pm MDT!

Just makin' stuff up Permalink to this item

The alternative: LaRocco for U.S. Senate I bet Jim Risch was quite the little storyteller as a kid. The stuff he's coming up with now shows a lot of practice. His signature piece is spinning a huge shift from property tax to sales tax as the biggest tax cut ever. Then there's the "rancher" window dressing on his career as a trial lawyer and political operative. And now comes the politics of personal perception, where he "cooperated" with Democratic leadership in the past.

The object of his new-found affection, former Governor Cecil Andrus, called that claim "preposterous."

"Risch is one of the most partisan people Iíve ever had to deal with," Andrus said. "During his time in legislative leadership, cooperation across the aisle and with the governor's office reached a new low."

Fortunately, there is a better alternative: Larry LaRocco for U.S. Senate.

Pre-debate Teapot Tempest Permalink to this item

God forbid the moderator should be writing a book about politics and race that has the name of the first black candidate to be nominated for President by a major party in the title. It's the liberal media conspiracy! Or, as Richard Viguerie puts it, Selection of Gwen Ifill again shows that GOP is "the stupid party." (And at ConservativeHQ, the grassroots are burning, for some reason.)

I get the impression the critics have never seen Ifill's work, which happens to be first-rate and rather studiously unbiased. It's a projection thing: they can't imagine moderating a debate neutrally, so how could anyone who disagrees with them about anything do it?

It's not about being neutral, though: they want every advantage they can get. Attacking the supposed "liberal media" is a sure-fire attention and support getter among their base, so there's nothing to lose. And if they can get in Ifill's head and have her bend over backwards to avoid any hint of bias, that's all good, too.

Having Sarah Palin establish an incredibly low bar with her first two unscripted outings, they've also made sure expectations are really, really low for tonight. Has she been playing possum with Charlie and Katie, waiting to spring on poor Joe like a she-pit bull? Or are the depth and breadth of the ignorance Palin has shown so far reflective of her actual ignorance?

We can hardly wait to find out.

1.Oct.08 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Disrespect and condescension Permalink to this item

The more we see of John McCain, the uglier he gets. Everything starts with "my friends," first of all. I'm sorry, we are not friends. We are not even acquainted. We have a politician-voter relationship, which come to think of it, is pretty well covered by the headline. We don't have collegiality, we don't have a one-on-one interaction. It's one-to-many, you-to-me and millions of others. Tens of millions.

"Senator Obama just doesn't understand" seemed to be his main talking point in the first debate. What, you're so damn smart, just because you've been travelling on taxpayer funds for so many more years than he has? I guess that would make Sarah Palin totally unqualified then, eh? (And by the way, what was up with picking her for your running mate, anyway? Do you really take us for complete fools?)

That "suspending the campaign" schtick, that was impressive. Just long enough to skip out of Letterman...

I can appreciate why you'd be unhappy, angry even. The latest polls—and the trends—don't look good. One campaign staffer turns out to be getting paid by the supposed bad guys, and the other one is spouting nonsense about what is and isn't "a journalistic organization." As if what's coming out of the campaign is somehow credible? At all?


Tom von Alten      tva_∂t_fortboise_⋅_org

ISSN 1534-0007

Thursday, 24-Dec-2009 13:08:08 MST