Sunday, August 31, 2008

Zandar's Thought Of the Day

Saved on the PCs of most of America's political pundits is a partially started column for the week of Wednesday, November 5th, 2008. It reads:
But let's look at the judgment of the man who lost this election, for both sides tried mightily to do so. "How could he have lost?" is not the question, but "How could he have possibly won?" It's simple, really, for it goes back to that fateful day in August. In hindsight, the (failure to select/selection of) (Hillary Clinton/Sarah Palin) was the worst Vice-Presidential decision since Eagleton, if not the worst in modern American history. It not only lost the election for him, but may have very well driven a stake into the heart of his party and put them in the wilderness for a generation, the (Democrats/Republicans) are now mired in a morass of recriminations and have already picked sides against each other for 2012, leaving them hopelessly fractured for a very long time...that's how bad the damage from that one monumentally horrific decision was.
See, I can do this Village job.

Who Picked Palin?

People are beginning to ask the right questions about Sarah Palin...not why she was picked, but who picked her. Steve Clemons has more at the Washington Note:
Rumors are swirling that Tim Pawlenty is furious - that he was on the edge of McCain announcing he was the GOP VP running mate - but that at the last moment, that course was rejected in favor of a person McCain met once, six months ago, and did not interview again.

Huckabee is not pleased that he wasn't even vetted - and he's letting his followers know.

But it may be that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin wasn't vetted either!

Tristan Snell at Open Left discusses what this means for the Dems and their plan of attack:
This should be our refrain, our only talking point about the selection:

Who chose Palin?

Well, it certainly wasn't John McCain.

McCain only met Palin once, six months ago. Unlike every other major party VP nominee in recent memory, Palin did not meet McCain for a final interview before her selection. A few weeks ago, she wasn't in the running at all. The scandals and unorthodoxies involving Palin -- she flip-flopped on the Bridge to Nowhere and even raised sales taxes on her small town to pay for an overpriced boondoggle -- show that the McCain campaign didn't vet her. The McCains and Palins looked visibly awkward together, not even speaking as they went their separate ways on a brief shopping trip in Ohio yesterday. McCain is on record as saying he wanted a running mate with whom he had a strong personal relationship -- and who was ready to be president.

This was clearly not his pick. So again: Who chose Palin?

Was it Dick Cheney? Or Karl Rove? Or maybe James Dobson?

That's a damn good question. What it means is John McSame is not only not a maverick and now fully under control of the fundie wingnut arm of the GOP, but that he no longer has control over his own Presidential campaign. Tim Pawlenty canceled all his appearances for Friday late on Thursday, with the understanding from the press that he was McSame's choice. All of a sudden, first thing Friday morning, Pawlenty is on the radio saying he's "not going to be in Dayton" and that he was now not the pick.

Something happened on Thursday the 28th. That something is somebody in the GOP gave marching orders to McSame, gave orders to somebody running for President, and said "You will take Sarah Palin." If John McSame is going to be President, we need to know who is giving him orders. John McSame isn't ready to be President if he can't stop the extremist neo-con arm of his own party from making his Presidential decisions for him...period. He's no maverick, he's one of them and always has been.

This is going to backfire miserably for the GOP. It will get out who made the choice. And then McSame's run at the White House is over. As the Open Left article concludes:

The new Time piece on McCain already suggests that he's being increasingly controlled by his advisors and consultants, no longer allowed to speak off the cuff or be open with reporters -- leading him to be prickly and gruff. So raising these questions could lead to a wave of media stories on McCain's weakness and frustration at being controlled. Similar stories about Kerry and Gore were devastating to their images and thus to their campaigns.

The Palin pick won McCain some initial good press, and it has raised some concerns among progressives. But it has revealed a huge weakness in McCain's candidacy -- and if we take advantage of it, intelligently, it could be a tremendous gift.

Karl Rove is running for a third term. It's time to attack McSame on that point.

The Politicization of Gustav Begins

Bush and Cheney are skipping the Republican convention due to Gustav. They have to appear Presidential.

This has nothing to do with the fact their combined approval ratings are under 50%, I assure you.

The Village Is Pissed At Palin

As I've mentioned before, the key to Palin is getting the Village women to like her.

They do not. They despise her. First up, Gail Collins from the NY Times:

However, I do feel kind of ticked off at the assumptions that the Republicans seem to be making about female voters. It’s a tad reminiscent of the Dan Quayle selection, when the first George Bush’s advisers decided they could close the gender gap with a cute running mate.

The idea that women are going to race off to vote for any candidate with the same internal plumbing is both offensive and historically wrong. When the sexes have parted company in modern elections, it’s generally been because women are more likely to be Democrats, and more concerned about protecting the social safety net. “The gender gap traditionally has been determined by party preference, not by the gender of the candidate,” said Ruth Mandel of the Eagleton Institute of Politics.

Ruth Marcus at the Washington Post:
The spin on McCain's choice of the Alaska governor is that it reinforces his maverick credentials. I see it the opposite way: It undermines them. McCain looks like any other calculating politician, willing to do whatever it takes to win.

The maverick argument is that Palin is an outsider -- the only one of four on the November ballot. "She's not from these parts and she's not from Washington," McCain said in Dayton, Ohio. Palin complements McCain's reformer credentials, having spoken out against corruption and earmarks in a state that has an oversize share of both. She is a young, fresh and, yes, female face. "A running mate who can best help me shake up Washington," McCain said.

But I can't believe that McCain truly thinks Palin is the best choice to be a heartbeat away -- especially in a White House that would be occupied by the oldest man ever to be elected to a first term in the office.

McCain runs the risk that Palin will turn out to be Dan Quayle with an up-do -- except with less experience. By the time he was selected as George H.W. Bush's running mate, Quayle had served in the House and Senate for a dozen years. Palin has been governor for less than two.

And of course MoDo the Red goes on a complete bender:

The guilty pleasure I miss most when I’m out slogging on the campaign trail is the chance to sprawl on the chaise and watch a vacuously spunky and generically sassy chick flick.

So imagine my delight, my absolute astonishment, when the hokey chick flick came out on the trail, a Cinderella story so preposterous it’s hard to believe it’s not premiering on Lifetime. Instead of going home and watching “Miss Congeniality” with Sandra Bullock, I get to stay here and watch “Miss Congeniality” with Sarah Palin.

Sheer heaven.

Palin is DOA, folks, she's Dan Quayle in a dress, and that's an insult to Dan Quayle...he at least was a sitting US Senator.

Sure McSame Vetted Her, Right?

Over at TPM, Josh Marshall does some investigative reporting (remember that, America?) and calls shenanigans on today's WaPo story that has the McSame camp insisting Sarah Palin's been vetted "extensively".

But leafing through articles out of Alaska, there's good reason to doubt these claims that Palin received an extensive vetting.

One bit of info from the Anchorage Daily News ...

Former House Speaker Gail Phillips, a Republican political leader who has clashed with Palin in the past, was shocked when she heard the news Friday morning with her husband, Walt.

"I said to Walt, 'This can't be happening, because his advance team didn't come to Alaska to check her out," Phillips said.

Phillips has been active in the Ted Stevens re-election steering committee and remains in close touch with Sen. Lisa Murkowski and other party leaders, and she said nobody had heard anything about McCain's people doing research on his prospective running mate.

"We're not a very big state. People I talk to would have heard something."

Perhaps she's just a hostile or isn't as plugged in as she thinks. But there's also this.

The big bogey for Palin is the ethics investigation into possible abuse of power in her firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan. I can see possible reasons why the McCain camp would hesitate to make contact with Monegan. But with credible claims that she abused her office and subsequently lied about her actions, I would think the McCain camp would want to understand that case inside and out. But according to an article in today's ADN, Monegan says that no one from the McCain campaign ever contacted him about Palin.

Impulsive, rash, panicky, too quick, risky. That's been John McSame for his entire political career. Why should this be any different? That is the level of judgment he brings to the White House.

This is going to backfire in a huge manner. Sarah Palin will be pressured to turn down McSame's offer by a large part of the party. I hope she stays. She's not a disastrous candidate because she's a woman and the Democrats absolutely must avoid backhanded misogyny on dealing with Palin. She is a disatrous candidate because she is unqualified on the issues and is under investigation. Attack McSame's judgment for selecting her instead.

NOLA And America Are Tested Again

Gustav has weakened a bit to a strong Category 3 storm at 125 MPH, but he's expected to pick up steam over the next 24-36 hours back into Category 4 or even 5 status. NOLA is almost certainly in the storm's path now. Three years ago the worst hurricane to hit that part of the country in a hundred years came ashore and changed America forever when Katrina hit.

Gustav is expected to be worse. Already we're seeing the same problems with Katrina's evacuation...there are those who cannot leave the city. Should they stay behind, they will have even fewer options for help than under Katrina's assault.
The storm called up uneasy memories of the deadly 2005 hurricane season, particularly of Katrina. When Katrina hit, more than 1,800 people died in five states, 1,577 of them in Louisiana.

Unlike the situation during Katrina, there will be no "shelter of last resort," the city said. In 2005, the city's Louisiana Superdome housed thousands of New Orleanians who couldn't, or didn't, heed the mandatory evacuation order.

Nagin warned that all but a "skeleton crew" of city workers would be leaving the city and said local authorities could not promise help for those who choose to stay behind.

"This is very, very serious, and we need you to heed this warning," he said. "We really don't have the resources to rescue you after this."
The FEMA trailer towns will certainly be annihilated. Should the worst happen and the levees fail a second time, I don't think New Orleans will survive. It was already on life support. A second, even worse hurricane could kill the city.

And just like last time, the poor are unable to leave.
"It's the storm of the century," he said.

But Kennedy can't and others just won't leave. They are the few residents who did not make the tortoise crawl down Interstate 10 on Saturday.

"If I left, I'll probably lose my job," said Jeremiah O'Farrell, another dishwasher who is staying put. "I really don't have anywhere to go if I could leave. I could go home, but that doesn't seem like the thing to try. Too far, I guess."

These are the folks you're going to see on rooftops again...or their bodies are not going to be found for weeks until the water recedes.
Across town in the 9th Ward, a neighborhood decimated by Katrina, Sidney William climbs slowly out of his truck. He's 49 but moves like he's 20 years older.

"My legs hurt; my feet hurt a lot," he said. "It's not easy."

William wants desperately to leave his native New Orleans to avoid Gustav. He didn't leave for Katrina because he didn't have the money. He won't talk about what happened to him during that storm.

"I wish I had the money to go." Rejected for disability subsidies, he depends on his 23-year-old daughter, Gloria, to support the family.

"Lot of folks around here are gonna make do with what they have, and you won't hear a terrible amount of complaining," he said. "You can't just come in here and expect to hear people fussing about how they don't have nothing. People just be used to not having much, and so you don't even think too hard about it until someone starts asking you questions."

A neighbor, Victoria, says she has two Rottweilers who she's not willing to leave behind.

"Now, what do you think that would look like, me and my little car sitting there in traffic with two big old Rottweilers," she said, laughing.

Money is tight for her, too.

"Guess I'm just gonna wait. I just don't know. It's all stressful."

The city's underclass will suffer the most, and after Katrina there's a lot more underclass, driven under by three years of post-Katrina, "compassionate conservative" neglect. It was their fault for letting the hurricanes kill them. The government was free of all responsibility to its people for this, we're told by Republicans. Then the same government provided millions to the weathiest developers and corporations and ignored the most vulnerable. Three years of dragging their feet has left the city open to another disaster like Gustav. It's too expensive to make the levees safe against another Katrina, what are the odds of another Category 3+ hurricane hitting NOLA again anytime soon?

Now in less than 48 hours we'll see if the bill for that comes due. What is happening to NOLA is what the GOP has planned for all of America: you're on your own...we're helping the top 1%. Saving the lives of people trapped by Gustav and Katrina isn't cost-effective, but a six-year war in the middle east is vital to America's very existence.

Remember Katrina and Gustav this November. We've already failed part of the test. Now we'll see just how much it's going to cost us all.

Also at the Frog Pond

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