Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Year 2000 Called...

....and they want Bush's speech back, John.

Seriously. McSame's speech was all stolen:
  1. Bush's stuff from 2000 was stolen, the teacher's unions to the cut foreign aid to the bi-partisanship crap and breaking the culture of Washington pap.
  2. Obama's new energy, new job plan was stolen wholesale from the Dems. Nice to know.
  3. POW! (tm) was stolen from the hagiography from BEFORE HIS OWN SPEECH. Ugh.
The GOP's got nothing. It was reheated Bush, only with "POW!(tm)". Hell, his own people almost booed him for the moderate stuff at least 3 different times.

Stick a fork in Mr. Green Screen. Here's the transcript. Lowlights:
"These are tough times for many of you. You're worried about keeping your job or finding a new one, and are struggling to put food on the table and stay in your home. All you ever asked of government is to stand on your side, not in your way. And that's just what I intend to do: stand on your side and fight for your future."
How? Cutting corporate taxes, of course. He's fighting for YOU.
"And I've found just the right partner to help me shake up Washington, Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska. She has executive experience and a real record of accomplishment. She's tackled tough problems like energy independence and corruption. She's balanced a budget, cut taxes, and taken on the special interests. She's reached across the aisle and asked Republicans, Democrats and Independents to serve in her administration. She's the mother of five children. She's helped run a small business, worked with her hands and knows what it's like to worry about mortgage payments and health care and the cost of gasoline and groceries."
Said with a straight face, and coming from the guy who married into $100 million.
I'm not in the habit of breaking promises to my country and neither is Governor Palin. And when we tell you we're going to change Washington, and stop leaving our country's problems for some unluckier generation to fix, you can count on it. We've got a record of doing just that, and the strength, experience, judgment and backbone to keep our word to you.
Like voting against your OWN CAMPAIGN FINANCE BILL, and flipping on global warming, and abortion rights, and taxes, and...
Thanks to the leadership of a brilliant general, David Petreaus, and the brave men and women he has the honor to command, that strategy succeeded and rescued us from a defeat that would have demoralized our military, risked a wider war and threatened the security of all Americans.
Because we put our troops there in the first place...why?
I fight to restore the pride and principles of our party. We were elected to change Washington, and we let Washington change us. We lost the trust of the American people when some Republicans gave in to the temptations of corruption. We lost their trust when rather than reform government, both parties made it bigger. We lost their trust when instead of freeing ourselves from a dangerous dependence on foreign oil, both parties and Senator Obama passed another corporate welfare bill for oil companies. We lost their trust, when we valued our power over our principles.
And of course your solution to that is to CUT TAXES ON THE OIL COMPANIES.
My tax cuts will create jobs. His tax increases will eliminate them. My health care plan will make it easier for more Americans to find and keep good health care insurance. His plan will force small businesses to cut jobs, reduce wages, and force families into a government run health care system where a bureaucrat stands between you and your doctor.
Best bullshit of the night, there.
Senator Obama thinks we can achieve energy independence without more drilling and without more nuclear power. But Americans know better than that. We must use all resources and develop all technologies necessary to rescue our economy from the damage caused by rising oil prices and to restore the health of our planet. It's an ambitious plan, but Americans are ambitious by nature, and we have faced greater challenges. It's time for us to show the world again how Americans lead.
Except Obama mentioned...nuclear power and clean coal just, oh, ONE WEEK AGO.
I'm running for President to keep the country I love safe, and prevent other families from risking their loved ones in war as my family has. I will draw on all my experience with the world and its leaders, and all the tools at our disposal -- diplomatic, economic, military and the power of our ideals -- to build the foundations for a stable and enduring peace.
Bush Uber Alles!
On an October morning, in the Gulf of Tonkin, I prepared for my 23rd mission over North Vietnam.
And we skip six paragrahs and five minutes of him talling America, in case you didn't know, HE WAS A POW!
I'm going to fight for my cause every day as your President. I'm going to fight to make sure every American has every reason to thank God, as I thank Him: that I'm an American, a proud citizen of the greatest country on earth, and with hard work, strong faith and a little courage, great things are always within our reach. Fight with me. Fight with me.
I think if this man ends up President, so many of us will be out there, fighting his wars wth him. Well, he'll be there in spirit. He was a POW, did you know?

Remember That Bush Guy?

Yeah, the one the GOP would like you to think isn't President right now. Him. Bob Woodward's new book kinda doesn't have good things to say about him and Iraq.
The Bush administration has conducted an extensive spying operation on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, his staff and others in the Iraqi government, according to a new book by Bob Woodward.

"We know everything he says," according to one of multiple sources Woodward, a Washington Post assistant managing editor, cites about the practice in "The War Within: A Secret White House History, 2006-2008," scheduled for release Monday.

The book also says that the U.S. troop "surge" of 2007, in which President Bush sent nearly 30,000 additional U.S. combat forces and support troops to Iraq, was not the primary factor behind the steep drop in violence there during the past 16 months.

Yeah, about that....
The book portrays an administration riven by dissension, either unwilling or slow to confront the deterioration of its strategy in Iraq during the summer and early fall of 2006. Publicly, Bush maintained that U.S. forces were "winning"; privately, he came to believe that the military's long-term strategy of training Iraq security forces and handing over responsibility to the new Iraqi government was failing. Eventually, Woodward writes, the president lost confidence in the two military commanders overseeing the war: Gen. George W. Casey Jr., then commander of coalition forces in Iraq, and Gen. John P. Abizaid, then head of U.S. Central Command,

In October 2006, the book says, Bush asked Stephen J. Hadley, his national security adviser, to lead a closely guarded review of the Iraq war. That first assessment did not include anyone from the military, however, and proceeded secretly because of White House fears that news coverage of a review might damage Republican chances in the midterm congressional elections.

"We've got to do it under the radar screen because the electoral season is so hot," Hadley is quoted as telling Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is described as challenging the president on the wisdom of sending additional troops to Iraq when "we're not getting a clear picture of what's going on on the ground."

The quality and credibility of information about the war's progress became a source of ongoing tension within the administration, according to the book. Rice complained about the Defense Department's "overconfident" briefings during the tenure of Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. Rather than receiving options on the war, Bush would get "a fable, a story . . . that skirted the real problems," Rice is quoted as saying.

According to Woodward, the president maintained an odd detachment from the reviews of war policy during this period, turning much of the process over to Hadley. "Let's cut to the chase," Bush told Woodward. "Hadley drove a lot of this."

Nor, Woodward reports, did the president express much urgency for change during the months when sectarian killings and violent attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq began rising, reaching more than 1,400 incidents a week by October 2006 -- an average of more than eight an hour. "This is nothing that you hurry," he told Woodward during one of the interviews, when asked whether he had given his advisers a deadline for revising the war strategy.

Responding to a question about how the White House settled on a troop surge of five brigades after the military leadership in Washington had reluctantly said it could provide two, Bush said: "Okay, I don't know this. I'm not in these meetings, you'll be happy to hear, because I got other things to do."

Makes you feel good, huh?

Keep that in mind as you watch McSame tonight.


Obama is admitting on BillO's show that the surge worked.
Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama said Thursday that the escalation of U.S. troops in Iraq, which he had opposed, has succeeded in reducing violence "beyond our wildest dreams."

But Iraq still has failed to achieve the political reconciliation and self-sufficiency that is required, he said, and he vowed to withdraw American troops and end the war.

Earlier Thursday, in taping a segment for Fox's "O'Reilly Factor," Obama said the surge of U.S. troops has "succeeded beyond our wildest dreams."

Republicans repeatedly have accused Obama of denying the military progress being made in Iraq and of wanting to pull out when victory is within reach.

Campaigning in Pennsylvania on Thursday, Obama was more effusive than usual in describing the reduction in violence that resulted largely from President Bush's decision to send thousands of more troops to Iraq in 2007. But he stuck to his assertion that "the surge" has not led to the political reconciliation among quarreling factions that was its larger goal.

OK, it's good he got out of the way, but doesn't Bush's own timeline for withdrawal render the McSame position on the Surge, that we should stay until we win no matter how long it takes, as moot?

All Obama has to say is "Bush set a timeline for withdrawal like the Democrats have been asking him to do for years now. That's a validation that we've been right on Iraq all along." In other words, Obama admits he lost the SURGE! battle, but won the greater point on the entire Iraq War.

So really, Lindsey Graham can go to hell.

While You're Waiting For The Main Event

Pay no attention to the 340 point loss on the Dow today because of bad August job numbers...and the anticipation of worse August job numbers tomorrow.
The employment reports rattled the market's cage more than usual because Friday is the big August jobs report and investors are worried about what they might hear. Economists expect to see nonfarm payrolls shrink by 75,000 and for the unemployment rate to hold steady 5.7 percent.

"Although some of the recent increase in claims reflects technical factors—claims had been around 370k for months until they began to spike in the middle of July—the increase almost certainly reflects deterioration in the labor market," Tony Crescenzi of Miller Tabak wrote in a note to clients. "This deterioration will likely be evident in upcoming employment news."

Remember, the GOP knows the economy. If you're sure 4 more years of their economic policies of deregulation of everything possible and rampant greed driven markets will be great for your continued employment, please vote for them in November.

For the other 99% of us, the other guys might be better.

Epic Cultural Awareness Fail

He did not say that...But he did.
Georgia Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland used the racially-tinged term "uppity" to describe Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama Thursday.

Westmoreland was discussing vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's speech with reporters outside the House chamber and was asked to compare her with Michelle Obama.

"Just from what little I’ve seen of her and Mr. Obama, Sen. Obama, they're a member of an elitist-class individual that thinks that they're uppity," Westmoreland said.

Asked to clarify that he used the word “uppity,” Westmoreland said, “Uppity, yeah.”
And from Georgia too, folks. Westmoreland knows good goddamn well what he was saying, and why he said it, and what connotations the word "uppity" has when referring to a successful black couple. Fuck him. (Sorry pop, needed to be said.)

What's sixty more days of the GOP trying to put black people in their place in this election compared to the, oh, decades they've been trying? I mean, do we get to honestly say the GOP is making this election about race, culture, gender and divisive bigotry now instead of the issues? Can Obama call people out on this now?

I hope Westmoreland is re-elected only so President Obama can call him into the Oval Office and have a little chat with the man.


Run For The Border

The US has crossed into Pakistan to hit at Islamist militants, and the Pakistanis are PISSED. What's more, we just sent a bunch of drones with missiles over the line from Afghanistan to clean up the making a larger one.
A suspected U.S. drone aircraft fired missiles at house in Pakistan's Waziristani tribal region on Thursday, killing four Islamist militants a day after U.S. commandoes killed 20 people in a cross-border assault.

The latest attack targeted the house of a tribesman, Rehman Wali, in the Mohammad Khel area in North Waziristan tribal region, near the border with Afghanistan, where the militants were hiding.

"Apparently three missiles were fired by the drone," a witness in the area told Reuters on condition of anonymity. Five militants were wounded in the attack.

Military officials were not immediately available for comment and it was not known whether any senior al Qaeda leader was among those killed or wounded.

On Wednesday, U.S. forces carried out a pre-dawn helicopter-borne ground assault on the village of Angor Adda in the nearby South Waziristan tribal region in the first known incursion into Pakistan by U.S.-led troops since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

The United States, a major source of aid to nuclear-armed Pakistan, has not officially commented on the raid, though U.S. officials in Washington said the U.S. commandoes attacked an al Qaeda target in a move that could signal more intense U.S.-efforts to thwart cross-border militant violence.

North and South Waziristan are regarded as major sanctuaries for al Qaeda and Taliban militants.

Anger mounted in Pakistan, a staunch U.S. ally, after Wednesday's attack, with the foreign minister saying Pakistan was determined to defend its territorial integrity.
You know, territorial integrity, just like the US is saying Russia must respect for Georgia. Or foreign policy is atrocious. If anything, the current crop of Republicans should be disqualified for election just on that "merit" alone.

How many wars are we fighting these days, and how many more will we get into over the next four years? That's a valid question to ask for any President or Vice President we may have.

Community Communications

The Lefty blogs are on fire with the counterattack meme to the GOP's savaging of "community organizers" last night in St. Paul. Over at Hullabaloo, dday leads the way:
Let's see if the media will react to a Democratic hissy fit. Because there's ample opportunity. Roland Martin laid this out immediately. Community organizers, which were part of George H.W. Bush's thousand points of light, provide comfort, help save jobs, create opportunity. In a nation ripped asunder by right-wing policies, they are often the last line of defense. Leaders of this nation like Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, Susan B. Anthony, even Thomas Paine and Sam Adams, were community organizers. As this fellow writes today, Jesus was a community organizer and Pilate was a governor.

In the largely white confines of the Republican National Convention, the phrase is a slur, like "ghetto hustler," but lots and lots of people today derive great benefit from community groups, including church groups, and the help they provide ordinary people. Most Americans live in metropolitan areas and actually have experienced the value of community organizing in their lives. Think bake sale.

The Obama campaign is going to try and ramp this up, they've already done so in an email to supporters:
I wasn't planning on sending you something tonight. But if you saw what I saw from the Republican convention, you know that it demands a response.

I saw John McCain's attack squad of negative, cynical politicians. They lied about Barack Obama and Joe Biden, and they attacked you for being a part of this campaign.

But worst of all -- and this deserves to be noted -- they insulted the very idea that ordinary people have a role to play in our political process.

You know that despite what John McCain and his attack squad say, everyday people have the power to build something extraordinary when we come together. Make a donation of $5 or more right now to remind them.

Both Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin specifically mocked Barack's experience as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago more than two decades ago, where he worked with people who had lost jobs and been left behind when the local steel plants closed.

Let's clarify something for them right now.

Community organizing is how ordinary people respond to out-of-touch politicians and their failed policies.
In summation:
  1. Community organizer is being used as a pejorative for "black hustler".
  2. The GOP has ruined communities with job losses, infrastructure cuts, and endless wars and don't want to spend the money to help them.
  3. Having people take pride and improve their communities without government help would seem to be something the GOP would be happy to encourage, but no.
  4. The Democrats can now take a long tradition of community activism and beat the crap out of the GOP with it.
In other words, it's time to get to work. The GOP made some fatal errors last night, and it's time to strike back. As I've seen repeated today, The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King was a community organizer of the first order, and look what he was able to achieve.

So let's get organized.

Kwame's Gone, And Good Riddance!

Worst Mayor In America Kwame Kilpatrick has plead guilty and is stepping down.
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick pleaded guilty on Thursday to obstruction of justice in a plea agreement that will force him from office and cap a scandal that had threatened to spill over into the U.S. presidential campaign in a key battleground state.

The guilty plea to two felony charges stems from Kilpatrick's role in the city's $8.4-million settlement of a whistle-blower lawsuit brought by two fired police officers.

Prosecutors alleged he lied in the lawsuit proceedings and to Detroit's city council, which approved the settlement, in order to conceal text messages that revealed an affair with his former chief of staff.

Under the plea deal read in a Detroit courtroom, Kilpatrick will resign from office, spend 120 days in jail, pay $1 million in restitution to the city of Detroit, surrender his law license and serve a five-year probation during which he will be barred from running for office.

Not all corrupt politicians are old white GOP guys, you know. Just most of them.

Domestic Terrorists Strike Republican Convention!

And no, I'm not exaggerating.
As clashes between police and protesters subsided outside the Republican National Convention on Wednesday, county prosecutors charged eight people with conspiring to cause a riot as part of a terrorist act.

The eight suspects were arrested in connection with raids of homes in the Twin Cities that were conducted by the Ramsey County Sheriff's Department before the convention began.

The charges are highly unusual because of the terrorism aspect. Ramsey County Atty. Susan Gaertner said she could recall no such case in her 24 years with the prosecutor's office.

"This was the most serious charge that we found that was supported by the evidence," she said. "The terrorism aspect is appropriate. This is not your average criminal charge, but this was not your average crime."

If convicted, the suspects could each face up to five years in jail, a $10,000 fine, or both.

Bruce Nestor, president of the Minnesota chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, which is representing several of the suspects, called the charges ridiculous.

The accusations are "an effort to equate publicly stated plans to blockade traffic and disrupt the RNC as being the same as acts of terrorism," Nestor said in a statement.
I talked about this a few days ago, how cops raided several homes in the St. Paul area and arrested hundreds because they PLANNED to protest. Now we see how some of those arrested are being charged with serious felony crimes...conspiracy to commit terrorism.

Our government is planning on putting people away for up to five years for the crime of planning to dissent against the GOP during their little party. It's the definition of thoughtcrime, they were planning to dissent. If they had actually been able to pull off the "vile terrorist act" of dissent, it undoubtedly would have been worth ten or twenty or more.

The "intent to dissent" is a terrorist act in George Bush's America. That's the real story in St. Paul this week. The police state in this country exists now. This is not a nebulous warning about a future Orwellian dystopia, this is Ramsey County, Minnesota, 2008. Do you honestly believe that the intent to block traffic is punishible by up to five years in prison, that it is on the same level as planning to blow up a chemical plant or trying to otherwise harm Americans, that it should be a Federal offense punishible by prison and fines?

Your government thinks so. They think it's applicable in this case because they planned to protest the GOP, and our leaders will not tolerate that kind of thing. They will not tolerate the intent to protest. That is the truly scary part: the notion that this was a grand criminal conspiracy.

The accusations of the government are very harsh.
According to the complaint filed in Ramsey County District Court, the eight suspects are leading members of the RNC Welcoming Committee, a self-described anarchist coalition. For at least two years, the group mapped out violent methods to disrupt the convention and prevent delegates from entering the Xcel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul, according to the filing. The group allegedly had considered barricading bridges, spraying delegates with urine and possibly kidnapping delegates.

The arrests follow a nearly yearlong investigation by the sheriff's office and federal law enforcement agencies. An undercover investigator and informants were used to monitor the group, according to court documents. The inquiry found that the group had connected with sympathetic factions in dozens of cities to recruit volunteers and raise funds, according to the documents.

Now, planning kidnapping and assault is one thing and certainly those ARE directly harmful to Americans, and worthy of prosecution. But this is a government that has lied to us before on much larger issues. Not much of a stretch to send a chilling warning to anyone else who might want to commit intent to dissent.

The death of liberty to thundrous applause, and all. Will the Obama campaign address the abuses of power in this country?

Parting Shots On Palin

And we end our Palinfest over the last 5 days with these opinion section headlines:

Boston Herald: Sarah Palin rises above the feeding frenzy

UK Telegraph: Sarah Palin gets the spiteful Margaret Thatcher treatment

Weekly Standard: The Natural

NY Daily News: Sarah Palin's Perfect Premiere

Chicago Tribune: Sarah Palin's Small Town Ways Will Play Big Across US

And on the other side:

LA Times: Palin: Wrong Woman, Wrong Message

Washington Post: Ms. Palin's Introduction

Providence Journal: Palin's Social Views Hurt Ticket

Newsweek: McCain's Tricky Calculation

The New Republic: Palin Missed Her Chance

And with that, I'm done with Sarah Palin for quite some time. Let's see how McSame handles himself tonight...and then let's get this race on.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Even Sarah Palin looks good to the GOP base. The more you want to believe your side was right all along, the more you'll overlook about the person you'll have in charge. (Note, this applies to Obama too.)

Personally I look forward to the Palin/Clinton fight in 2016.

Hits And Misses

The Sadly, No! boys take on Miss Alaska, emphasis by moi.
Couple things:

- How can Palin not overshadow McCain in the days after this convention? What does it say when the leader on your ticket is in the No. 2 slot? This ticket is ‘Palin and McCain’ — that’s how it should be referred to by Dems.

- She still has to prove herself facing tough questions, during press interviews and during the Biden debate. It’s one thing for the hockey mom to read teleprompter-driven applause lines with an empty net, another to perform on the fly with Biden coming at her.

- They overplayed the ‘community organizer’ slam. The party that wants to shrink government says service outside of government is worthless? The only service worth anything is as an agent of the state? The Dems need to start talking up community work, church work, charity work, volunteering to coach youth sports, etc. Palin and McCain say Little League coaches and scout leaders and food drive volunteers aren’t doing anything useful?

- Her weaselly obfuscation on Obama’s tax plan was transparent. Mom & pop gas station owners and family farmers: ‘How are you — how are you going to be better off if our opponent raises your taxes adds a massive tax burden to the American economy?’ … cheap. Cheaply played, easily countered, easily seen through by even those famous ‘low-information’ voters. Obama wants to raise taxes on people with bank accounts the size of a small country’s GNP, and cut everybody else’s.

- The emphasis on the veto was a good one for Palin-McCain. A lot of voters like the idea of a mixed government that obstructs itself, which is absolutely what we get if Palin-McCain goes to the White House. On the other hand, in reality a lot of voters hate both this White House and this Congress because neither is getting shit done due to just that sort of obstruction. And I have absolutely no idea how to sell ’single party power’ to voters. Maybe just leave this one alone.

- She straight up lied about the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’.

- The foreign policy and war comments were just noise. ‘Al Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America, and he’s worried that someone won’t read them their rights.’ 2004 called, it wants its fear-mongering back.

- The McCain tribute was nicely done. He’s a genuine hero. But it’s hard to escape the message that McCain’s greatness lies well in the past, not the future. That he should be honored for past deeds but that his second wind is trying to catch its second wind for what lies in the days ahead.

- Message: Drill. It’s all they’ve got. It’s every plank of the Palin-McCain policy platform. Everything else is soft narrative — some mighty attractive soft narrative dressing for the base, like ‘experience’, ‘heartland values’, ‘mom’, ‘maverickness’ and ‘war hero’ — but soft narrative all the same. No health care talk. No mortgage crisis talk. No kitchen table economics talk. No paying for college talk. No global leadership talk. No national greatness talk. The absence of all that stuff starts to become apparent again once the shine of Palin’s star turn starts to wear off.

- The Obama bashing. Good red meat for the RNC crowd. People who never planned to vote for Obama love it. Could even be appealing to some swing voters who want an excuse to not vote for him. But how well does it play to many for this unknown, second banana selectee to burst on the scene and immediately start slamming a guy who worked his ass off in the national spotlight for more than a year to EARN his spot on the top of his ticket? We’ll see.

End of the day, Palin’s good news for the Repubs. She should not be underestimated going forward. Obama’s still going to win, quite handily.

And of course Aristophanes is right, when all you've got in your entire arsenal is "Drill, Terrah and Liberal!" without offering any real solutions for the problems at'll lose.

This isn't 2004. You would think 2006 would have taught the GOP some lessons. The only thing they learned is MOAR DRILL TERRAH SCARY BLACK MAN.

The Devil Came Down To Georgia

...and he was looking to make a deal, as the Charlie Daniels Band tells us. Where the Nameless One goes, death and government waste follow in his wake.
US Vice President Dick Cheney accused Russia of having invaded Georgia on Thursday as he arrived to bolster the pro-Western government following the announcement of a billion dollar US aid package.

After talks with President Mikheil Saakashvili, Cheney said the five day war last month had cast "grave doubt" on Russia's international credibility and accused Moscow of seeking to redraw Georgia's borders.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will seek backing for his country's intervention at a Moscow summit of seven ex-Soviet states on Friday. Nicaragua has become the first country to follow its lead in recognising the independence of Georgian rebel regions South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Cheney is the highest-level American official to visit the region since Georgia launched its August 7 offensive to regain control of South Ossetia region, sparking the conflict with its giant neighbour.

"Russia's actions have cast grave doubt on Russia's intentions and on its reliability as an international partner, not just in Georgia but across this region and indeed across the international system," he said.

"After your nation won its freedom in the Rose Revolution, America came to the aid of this courageous young democracy," said Cheney, referring to the 2003 uprising that brought Saakashvili to power.

"We are doing so again as you work to overcome an invasion of your sovereign territory and an illegitimate, unilateral attempt to change your country's borders by force that has been universally condemned by the free world."

Later Cheney was to visit US aid operations in Georgia and highlight the US one billion-dollar (690 million euro) package.

The United States has taken a lead role supporting Georgia since hostilities erupted over Moscow-backed rebel regions South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which Russia then recognised as independent.

Washington's relations with Moscow have plummeted as the United States has led angry western criticism of Russia's military action, its recognition of the rebel regions, and the continued presence of its troops in Georgia.

Cheney is pointedly not visiting Russia on a tour that has already taken him to Georgia's neighbour Azerbaijan, where he stressed that the security of the energy-rich region was a top concern for Washington.

His trip has also been aimed at expanding the transit of oil and gas exports to the West through pipelines across Georgia and Azerbaijan, avoiding Russia which Washington is viewing with increasing distrust.

And of course under a McSame administration, I'm sure our relationship will improve with the Russians.

Just what we need, another war.

If You Can't Dazzle Them With Brilliance...

...bury them with bullshit. I've been saying for a while now that the GOP can't win on the issues, so they change the subject. It's nice to see CNN come to the same conclusion.
For the second consecutive night, a lot of the rhetoric at the Republican convention Wednesday evening seemed left over from the last cycle when the fight against terrorism dominated the race.

The biggest voter concern and the theme of the evening was the economy. But did it top the agenda Wednesday night? No. The policy prescriptions were minimal; the party-issued signs proclaiming "prosperity" made for a jarring sight.

The language and terror focus were left over from 2004. The evening's tone was vintage 1992, with just a hint of culture war.

Surveys suggest Democrats hold the advantage on the dominant issue this year, so Republicans looked to redirect the anger with base-pleasing swipes at the media and liberal elites.

That's all these guys have anymore. It has worked for them in the past, and they're going for it here all over again.

Nothing changes as long as they're in charge.

So Now What?

Now we fight.

Sarah Palin just became the GOP's version of Barack Obama: energizing, dynamic, and for the first time in a long time, something the GOP can rally around. I believe I'm doing Obama a major disservice by comparing the two on quality of ideas, but not quality of purpose.

This race was close without Palin. Now Obama and Biden have their work cut out for them. The old red meat eating, Buchananite base of the party is back, and they have their new queen for a new age. It didn't really matter that Palin lied repeatedly in her speech (even the AP called her out on the lies) but this wasn't about the issues. It was about bringing the heat.

Yes, Sarah Palin came across as mean, condescending, and sour. You play Peoria to Peoria, and her job is to exploit emotion, not logic. Logic is for elitist policy wonks, liberal media talking heads, and foul-mouthed bloggers like myself. Sarah Palin brought the didn't matter if lightning actually caused it or not.

This is how Bush won. Keep that in the back of your mind. Attack attack attack has won in the past. Does Obama dare to stoop to that level? Ask Kerry and Gore if he should. The GOP is going old school: if you can't win on the issues, make new ones up and declare yourselves champion.

Now the world awaits Obama's response, and he doesn't have much time. He's going on BillO's show tonight opposite McSame's speech. We'll see.


How was Palin's speech received?

Steve Clemons says "Saint Sarah came to Saint Paul."

But despite my substantive differences with Palin, this performance tonight beat expectations and moved her to a new level. Her competition at this incredibly flat, low energy confab in St. Paul is thin -- so one could easily argue that she had a lot of room to pull off a success. But that is too cynical.

She did a great job -- and stared her doubters and the challenge down.

There is much about Sarah Palin we don't know yet. Unlike Biden and Obama, we didn't get much time to have our own public vetting of her before McCain's decision -- so there will be more fits and starts and twists and turns as other parts of her life are dredged up, over-analyzed, and judged by the American public.

But this is going to be very close race, particularly if nothing new and surprising shows up on Palin.

What no one will say just yet -- but which I think the McCain folks tried to convey is that "Saint Sarah" just made her real debut in Saint Paul.

Steve Benen believed Sarah Palin swung for the fences, but missed.

Judging a speech like this, it's probably best to consider the goals and the audience. Going into the speech, I expected Palin to try to connect to a mainstream audience, demonstrating competence, credibility, and readiness. She already enjoys the support of the GOP base; Palin has to work on convincing everyone else.

And yet, she (or, more accurately, the McCain campaign aides who wrote her speech) went in a different direction, aiming to shore up the party's base even more. Instead of seriousness, Palin went for biting and sarcastic partisanship. Instead of presenting herself as a trustworthy leader, Palin proved herself an attack-dog ideologue. Instead of answering questions about readiness, she answered questions about who she hates and how much. Palin not only steered clear of the concerns of swing voters, she practically thumbed her nose at them.

What's more, Palin did this with a striking dishonest speech, filled with the kind of obvious and transparent falsehoods that even half-way knowledgeable observers can debunk off the top of their heads. Palin didn't just lie, she lied brazenly, as if to say, "I don't care."

Kevin Drum was impressed by the style, but not the substance.
As expected, she's doing a very good job. In a way, she's every bit the pit bull Giuliani is, all the way down to the withering scorn and sarcastic asides. But she brings it off better than Rudy: it's more straightforward, more earnest, and yes, more small town. I don't think this speech will stop the questions about her selection, but it's certainly going to have an impact. She's coming off very well in her appointed role, and making a tough, smart, and very appealing first impression.

But holy cow, can this woman pull off the culture war stuff, or what? I gather that she didn't, in fact, ever really support Pat Buchanan, but she's every bit his disciple and successor in spirit. Wow.

And maybe just one more comment: for all that both Giuliani and Palin attacked Obama for being too full of himself, I don't think I've ever heard two more adulatory speeches in my life. You'd think John McCain was the second coming of George Washington the way they sang their nonstop panegyrics to him.

NY Times columnist Gail Collins pointed out Palin was better than McSame's other choices.

Palin’s speech totally swallowed up all the attention in St. Paul, leaving nothing whatsoever for speakers like Mitt Romney, who celebrated the convention Reform Day by announcing: “We need change all right! Change from a liberal Washington to a conservative Washington.” Tragically, nobody seemed interested enough to point out that this made no sense. It’s a long way from the golden days when Mitt invented the “Washington is Broken” slogan, and people took the time to ask him exactly who he thought had done the breaking.

It’s been one big reunion in Minnesota for the old gang — Rudy and Mitt and Fred and Mike. Together again, for the first time since those primary debates. Reliving the golden days in which they managed to convince Republican voters that no matter what John McCain’s defects, he could not possibly be as bad a candidate as they were.

Dan Balz of the Washington Post says the hockey mom scored a goal.
Palin gave the impression of an entire party rolling up its sleeves and digging in, never mind whether some of its arguments were illogical or shot full of holes, or even blatantly ridiculous, as when she portrayed the party as pro-environment and Giuliani earlier portrayed it as feminist-minded.

She proved herself in the great arena; that's what counts politically. Nobody could watch that speech and still consider her a joke, no matter how flimsy her credentials and qualifications may seem on paper. The joke, it seems, is on those who'd been laughing at her. Last night the laughing ended -- and the cheering began.

And the Wall Street Journal's John Fund says it's a race now.

Some hard-bitten political observers I know were uncharacteristically impressed with the Palin speech. Hal Stratton, a former Attorney General of New Mexico, wrote to me as follows: "That's what we out west call openin' a whole can of whip a— on your opponents."

Other observers were more restrained, but still impressed. "She passed her first major test, and if the reaction of the crowd in the hall is any indication, with flying colors," says Peter Brown, the deputy director of the Quinnipiac Poll. "So much for the comparisons with Dan Quayle, who couldn't have given that speech if his life depended on it. Obviously, Sarah Palin probably went down better in Warren, Michigan than she did in Washington, D.C. -- but that was the whole point of her speech and her candidacy." Indeed, while Mrs. Palin certainly won't swing any deeply blue states in John McCain's direction, she may have an impact in swaying independent voters as well as boosting GOP turnout in swing states such as Colorado, Nevada and Michigan.

One of the standard operating theories this Election Year is that Barack Obama and the Democrats are much more energized, excited and willing to work hard for victory in November.

After Sarah Palin's remarkably effective speech, I don't think any pundits or politicians will be able to count on a decisive Democratic enthusiasm edge. Sarah Palin electrified the hall, and from what I can tell from my e-mail inbox that excitement is being replicated in living rooms across the country.

The general consensus is she energized the base dramatically...but did she swing the center?


The Aftermath

The most honest thing I can say about Sarah Palin is she's one of the best liars I've seen in a while. She will go far in the GOP. She might very well go all the way to the top.

If she develops the ability to sell that red meat to the political middle, she will be devastating, as devastating or more than Obama has been to the GOP.

I had a pretty frank discussion about Palin with a friend today, and he basically told me I've been wrong about her for the last three days and to get over myself and realize she's a brilliant political pick, not a disaster. The issues that I think are hurting her don't matter to 90% of America, and he's right.

Now, it by no means convinced him to vote for McSame...he's too reckless to be President he said (and for the record he believes Obama's a policy lightweight that's full of crap too)...but Palin was the right pick for him, absolutely.

Tonight we saw why my friend was entirely right. If she can reach the middle that Obama can't, McSame will be the next President. This election is not about the issues or Obama anymore. It's now all about Palin and the gender and culture war she ignited tonight, and unless she screws up majorly, Obama's going to have to fight for every last single vote. Palin and McSame are ready to fight for this and win. They proved that tonight. The future I forsee under those two is a bleak, nasty place.

Will Obama and Biden step up and fight back?
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