Yet another political roundup

Under the fold, as it is a LOT of links….


I am the angry left:

It is a matter of survival of our way of life, of our basic values, of our democratic system, not to mention several important elements of that system such as education, affordable health care, social security, and a reasonable degree of peace among nations.

Getting Off Our Asses:

I don’t believe in a shoe-in. I know better now. They cheat, they lie, they fix elections, they want to remain the select privileged while we get foreclosed on, our health insurance becomes unaffordable, and our young people die in a winless, needless war, and they will do ANYTHING to make sure it happens. I grew up in a small town so I guess that makes me a “real” American. Oh, wait, I live in the city now, and disagree with you, so I guess not.

Pitbull couture:

Palin spokesperson Tracey Schmitt tried valiantly to spin the complaints: “With all of the important issues facing the country right now, it’s remarkable that we’re spending time talking about pantsuits and blouses.” The point, you have missed it. It’s remarkable that with all the important issues facing the country right now – economic morass, homelessness increasing, the majority of states now in recession – you’re spending three times the US median household income on pantsuits and blouses, and didn’t have the foresight to consider the average American might find that objectionable.

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Stuff:

Also: Even if the worst happens, and McCain wins, Obama looks very likely to win the popular vote–and, if he does (no less if he wins it by a lot while losing the electoral college), it may at long last serve as the impetus for the fundamental election reforms we so desperately need.
Or maybe just riots and martial law.

The Gadfly: What Digby Says:

Stop anyone on the street, and they’ll know of Arianna Huffington–and she’s glad they do. But the Left’s second most influential blogger prefers anonymity. “Digby” prolifically pumps out her dispatches from the People’s Republic of Santa Monica, a few miles from Huffington’s West Coast office. Her writing gives no gender clues, she comes off like a vengeful prosecutor–and the logo on her otherwise bare-bones site, which she calls Hullabaloo (digbysblog.blogspot.com), shows a screaming Howard Beale in a classic scene from Network.

Clothes Horses:

But here’s the difference: We don’t expect male politicians to wear a different suit every time they are photographed. We pretty much do expect female politicians to do just that, and the suits must be different enough from each other to photograph as “different.” That means not just quite a few suits but also matching shoes, tops, bags and so on. All that adds up to a lot more than, say, five dark suits for a guy with the shirts and ties to match. You can probably get away with just a few pairs of shoes, too.
This rule is not a rigid one. I think it would be possible for a woman politician to campaign in just a handful of dark suits, just like the men do. But she’d be taken to task on all those fashion pages for her poor fashion sense. Someone would write an article about her boring suits. Someone else would ask if she’s denying her essential femininity in the way she dresses or if she really would like to be a guy.

The Insiders:

How John McCain came to pick Sarah Palin.

North Carolina’s New Blues:

North Carolina is in the midst of a transformation its people are grappling to comprehend. The state long has been a fat red dot on the electoral map, voting Republican in every presidential election since 1976. Some believe it may be turning blue before their eyes; polls over the past month consistently have shown Obama and John McCain in a dead heat. Since January, approximately 550,000 voters have been added to the rolls, a third of them African American, and Democrats have won the registration battle by more than a 5 to 1 margin over Republicans. Pockets of political enthusiasm keep surfacing in the most unlikely places — even at a motel for itinerants on Wilkinson Boulevard.

The End of Libertarianism:

The financial collapse proves that its ideology makes no sense.

GOP Rep.: ‘Liberals hate real Americans that work and accomplish and achieve and believe in God’ [updated with audio]:

Warming up a crowd in North Carolina on Saturday, Republican Rep. Robin Hayes offered the diagnosis that “liberals hate real Americans that work and achieve and believe in God.”
His remarks came shortly after he had said he would “make sure we don’t say something stupid, make sure we don’t say something we don’t mean.”
Hayes had followed Rep. Patrick McHenry, also a North Carolina Republican, who laid out the choice between McCain and Obama.
“It’s like black and white,” yelled someone from the crowd.

Obama Opens Double-Digit Lead:

Sen. Barack Obama has opened up a double-digit lead in the presidential race, with a growing number of voters saying they’re now comfortable with the Democratic nominee’s values, background and ability to serve as commander in chief, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.

North Carolina is NOT a swing state:

First off, registering voters means… well… not too much when it comes to where it’s coming from. Most of the newly registered voters are in urban counties. Unfortunately, what pollsters are not accounting for is that urban counties only account for 10% of this state. That means that 90% of the counties are considered rural and the majority of them have a consistent history of voting red. Solid South, anyone?

The Bradley Effect, Revisited:

With so many “X factors” like race, cell phones and turnout, there is probably an extra margin of error this year. And polls aren’t terrifically accurate to begin with. But there is no reason to conclude that the polls are systematically overestimating Obama’s support; the reverse is at least as likely to be true. McCain, in all likelihood, will need to win this election fair and square–which means that he has his work cut out for him.

Tracking Poll Primer:

Now that there are fully eight distinct national tracking polls, I thought I’d take the time to give you my Cliff’s Notes assessment of each one. The polls are arranged in the order in which they typically appear throughout the day — as you may have discovered, you can get your tracking poll fix quite literally morning, noon and night.

Some Likely Voter Models are Suspect:

Most likely voter models are unlikely to distinguish newly registered voters from what I would call lapsed registered voters. If someone is registered, and has been registered for a long while, but has not cast a ballot since they pulled the lever for Ross Perot in 1992, there is good reason to be skeptical about their intentions. On the other hand, voters who are newly registered have quite literally demonstrated their interest in the 2008 campaign; they are in fact quite likely to vote. Barack Obama’s advantages are principally from among the newly-registered voter group.

Survey Says…:

How many polls does it take to screw up an election?

Zombie libertarianism:

Libertarianism isn’t popular, but it will always be well-funded because the class warfare at the heart of it appeals to embittered, willfully ignorant rich people who give money to think tanks. The problem with libertarianism is similar to the problem with social conservatism, which is that it’s largely based on fantasies that appeal to people who feel thwarted entitlement. Economic crisis will put most Americans into a reality-based way of thinking, and Obama’s surge in the polls reflects this. But the more that reality-based liberalism gains ground, the angrier and more bitter you’ll see conservatives of both stripes get, and the more they’ll retreat into their fantasy lives.

Even when they’re winning, they’re losing:

In this country, our theocrats have to contend with the fact that even when they’re winning, they’re losing. Eight years of Bush has crippled our economy and mired us in an unwinnable war, but it did not actually do a damn thing to make your kids quit fucking or make everyone convert immediately to fundamentalist Christianity. Atheists still published books and those books sold. Homosexuality not only didn’t disappear, it gained more social acceptance. Women have not en masse abandoned our desires for careers and self-actualization in favor of servitude to men. Fucking for pleasure instead of procreation remains as wildly popular as it has since they invented effective contraception, which is only slightly more popular than it was when people had to risk it. Stopping the tide of modernism isn’t going to be as easy as winning an election or even winning every election. Hollywood has to be toppled. People have to give up TV. Widespread literacy gets in the way. People have tasted secular humanism and don’t want to go back to the Dark Ages, full stop.

Gah, part two:

None of this is to say that we couldn’t face massive rollbacks of rights. But that’s what they’ll be—rollbacks of rights, not a total turning back of the clock. Fundamentalism exists as a backlash to modernism, and so the hate for modernism extends all the way to self-hate because fundamentalism is dependent on modernism. I’m not trying to be dismissive of the fact that we have a real struggle going on. Just pointing out that if the wingnuts are angry all the time, it’s because they’re fighting to win over everyone’s hearts and souls, and that will always be a losing battle.

The High Cost Of Looking Confused:

But think about this – Palin’s selection was announced on Friday, August 29th. Election day is Tuesday, November 4th. That’s a little under ten weeks of campaigning. If John Edwards’ legendarily elitist haircuts ($400 a pop!) were a weekly thing, he’d spend $4,000 on haircuts over the course of ten weeks. John Edwards could get 7.2 years of haircuts for what it costs to keep Sarah Palin it high-necked jackets for ten weeks. (Keep in mind that the RNC spent over $4700 on hair and makeup for the campaign, and I’m sure they weren’t paying for $12.95 trims at Great Clips.)

Vote, You Catty Whores! Vote!:

With regards to women (who dislike Palin immensely), the id of anti-woman bigotry is coming out and will continue to blossom. They gave you a set of ovaries and a pretty face to smile for, and you’re so crazy and irrational that you can’t accept the gift of a token all gift-wrapped and pretty for you. At the end of this, what we’ll find is a GOP that’s motivated by an even grander sense of resentment and entitlement than the one we have now, and isn’t afraid to say so. The blacks and the women and the Jews and the Hispanics and every other identifiable and blameworthy group will be called out and held responsible for the awful, terrible things that they refused to prevent when they were given the chance to vote for the lackluster white guy and the pretty white lady.

$150,000 gulf between Palin fans and the rest of us:

Women don’t like Sarah Palin, it turns out. I mean, some do, but as a rule less than men (and men don’t exactly love her as a group). I’d like to say it’s mostly the issues, but while I think that’s most of it, it’s clear that a lot of women dislike Palin on a visceral level that intensifies their dislike of her. And it’s probably for the same reason that Texas liberals want to shit a brick when George Bush yee-haws his way through press conferences. He’s playing up a demeaning stereotype to appeal to someone else’s fantasies so they let him off the hook for what he’s really saying. Palin just reminds one of those women who play up being dumb and cute to make women who insist on having their intelligence respected look threatening. If that card is played right, such women can benefit from men (at least sexist men) defending them, though of course the high status you get from being dumb and cute depends pretty much entirely on your ability to be a tool to bash threatening women with. Without other women to contrast you with, you then become the object of scorn yourself. Escaping misogyny by playing along is not an option.

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SPREAD THE WEALTH.:

I’d like John McCain to be more forthright in his opposition to “spreading the wealth.” After all, the Obama tax cut is a very minor example of redistribution But the government does a lot of redistribution. Does McCain want to abolish Social Security? Medicare? Medicaid? Unemployment benefits? Food stamps? These are all examples of not only spreading, but transforming, the nation’s wealth. The government takes wealth, buys some stuff (like health care, or pensions, or food), and gives a disproportionate amount to poor people. At other times, like in military spending, it takes the wealth, and spreads it to defense contractors, under the assumption that it’s better for folks to have an army than that portion of their paycheck. Is John McCain opposed to these programs? Just the entitlements? Or just to Obama’s relatively meager tax cut? And if the latter, what makes that wealth spreading different from the rest of the wealth spreading? Someone should ask him.

Pass The Rock:

The problem with the debate is that it’s like arguing over whether a basketball should be round or not. Government cannot exist without some degree of redistribution – from fascism to communism, social democracy to the laissez-faire state, money must be taken from someone, somewhere and used in ways that do not confer benefits exactly equally onto the group from which the money was taken. It’s an asinine differentation that Goldberg and Douthat argue over. Should redistribution be the chief aim of public policy? Redistribution is society. If no societal benefit can ever accrue from some surrendered bit of wealth or value on the part of all involved (or capable), we can never build a society worth the name.
What does a society look like where wealth is never spread? How is a military maintained? When one house burns, how is the neighborhood saved? The nature and scope of the redistribution is always to be debated, but the side that accepts it and attempts to make it as fair and productive as possible is drastically preferable to the one that’s still having the settled debate over whether it’s necessary and only cares about reducing its size as much as possible.

THE TROUBLE WITH LOCAVORES.:

On some level, this is simply a difference in perspective: I’m asking Pollan to be a political writer when he’s really a food writer. He’s more focused on the micro question of what individuals can do than the macro issue of What Should Be Done. But for better or worse, he’s been appointed to head the political arm of the new food movement, and that requires setting priorities — and he’s accepted that role. Indeed, I even agree with his central point: America needs a new food policy. But that means being clear on what’s most important in that policy. And encouraging localism is a cooking priority more than it is a political priority.

How McCain Can Win — The Arguments:

Here is the argument that some McCain campaign advisers are making right now to donors and others who ask for a single, plausible scenario by which Sen. John McCain wins the election.
It rests on certain assumptions about the electorate that seem almost provably false at this point, but not provably false enough so as to render them completely bizarre.
The goal here is to give people a sense of what the candidate is being told by his advisers, nothing more. Think of what’s below as a set of Republican talking points.

Chickens come home to roost:

Now, I was in an unnamed state helping turn folks out to vote last weekend, and I have to say that it is profoundly offensive for anyone to protest against voters. Protest against a candidate. Knock on doors or stick literature under people’s windshields (as we saw anti-woman/anti-abortion groups doing last Sunday). But don’t attack people for exercising their franchise.

The Real McCain: Mark Salter/Andrew Sullivan edition:

John McCain has long claimed a special list of attributes: he is experienced — which is to say knowledgeable in a particularly useful real-world way; he has the capacity to command; he gets things done; and above all, he is consistent, true to himself, moral. The record, long before this campaign, shows otherwise.

Understanding the Right #1:

The last lie a junkie tells himself isn’t “I’m not an addict.” The last lie a junkie tells himself is “My being a addict doesn’t matter.” And in the Conservative Crack House of Many Doors, Ronald Reagan was that first cocktail. The first line of coke. The first needle. The first “Holy Mother of God!” WOWGASM that shotguns right through the blood/brain barrier, reformats your entire ethical hard drive, and scrimshaws a brand new Prime Directive on the inside of your skull. Listen to any aging wingnut sighing and jerking sadly off to a tattered photo of Saint Ronnie — despite the fact that the catastrophes we are now reaping were sown by his ruinous ideology — and you can hear every addict who ever lived pining for that first Perfect High. The one they spend the rest of their days chasing, regardless of the size of the debts they run up or the ruined lives they leave in their wake.

Top U.S. Political Donors Favor Obama Over McCain:

With the presidential campaign of Senator Barack Obama touting record political contributions for the month of September, Nielsen Claritas has taken a look at the source of Sen. Obama’s and Sen. McCain contributions through the lens of lifestyle attributes and socio-economic data, such as income, age, occupation, education, and household composition.

Voter Intimidation Via Vandalism:

These photos are of vandalism done to the car of a friend of mine (also a friend of this blog) last night in Hays County, Texas. The only photo-shopping I have done was to obscure her license plate number.

McCain/Palin mob: 30 cars owners find tires slashed after NC Obama rally; voters heckled:

How deranged are these sick people? Fanning went on to say that she still believes Obama is a “closet Muslim.” Remember John McCain is proud of patriotic supporters like Fanning. He told us so in the last debate.

An open letter to white voters, or what McCain really thinks of you:

I want to ask you a simple question: Which candidate — McCain or Obama — do you think has a higher opinion of your character?

Dead Bear Covered With Obama Signs Found At School:

Police at Western Carolina University say a dead bear cub was found dumped on the campus draped with a pair of Barack Obama campaign signs. The Asheville Citizen-Times reported that Tom Johnson, chief of university police, said maintenance workers reported about 7:45 a.m. Monday finding the 75-pound cub dumped at a roundabout near the Catamount statue at the entrance to campus. Johnson said it appeared the bear cub had been shot in the head, and that two Obama signs had been stapled together and stuck over the animal’s head. Johnson was not available for further comment Monday evening. University police called in state Wildlife Resources officials to remove the body and help in the investigation. Bear season is under way in western North Carolina.

The Wikipedian Candidate:

In researching some of the lesser-known Republican VP candidates, I came across her Wikipedia page and remember coming away fairly impressed: working mother, extremely popular in Alaska, photogenic (to say the least), more than conservative enough to please the base, but seemingly quirky and endearing enough to have significant cross-over appeal. The problem is that Palin’s faults have been precisely those sorts of things that might be difficult to detect from a Wikipedia page.

Mark Salter on the Press and John McCain:

There was an astonishing quotation in a recent New York Times story about John McCain from Robert Timberg, a biographer and admirer of McCain’s. Timberg told the Times reporter David Kirkpatrick that, “Political campaigns have a way of distorting reality and turning political candidates into caricatures of themselves. In some ways that has happened to (McCain), and in some way he may have contributed to that.” Mark Salter, the McCain aide who has co-written most of McCain’s books, is quoted as calling Timberg’s assertion “deeply offensive.”

Are They All As Sleazy As McCain?:

Either because of age or recent immersion in politics, a lot of readers have asked, is it really usually this bad? Do they all get this sleazy? As sleazy as McCain? The simple answer, I think, is, No. They don’t. I don’t think there’s any question that McCain’s is the dirtiest and most dishonest campaign, certainly in the last 35 years and possibly going much further back into the early 20th century.

Obama: Even Palin Denounced McCain’s Robo-Slime:

“It’s getting so bad that even Senator McCain’s running mate denounced his tactics last night. As you know, you really have to work hard to violate Governor Palin’s standards on negative campaigning.” That last line is brutal — isolating McCain even from his running mate — as is this one a bit later in the speech: “That’s what you do when you’re out of ideas, out of touch, and running out of time.”

Palin Meets the Press:

These days, Gov. Sarah Palin seems like a candidate trying to wriggle free of her handlers. On Sunday night, she twice took questions from reporters, the first time on an airport tarmac without her press staff’s knowledge.

The Making (and Remaking) of McCain:

John McCain’s biography has been the stuff of legend for nearly a decade. And yet Schmidt and his fellow strategists have had difficulty explaining how America will be better off for electing (as opposed to simply admiring) a stubborn patriot. In seeking to do so, the McCain campaign has changed its narrative over and over. Sometimes with McCain’s initial resistance but always with his eventual approval, Schmidt has proffered a candidate who is variously a fighter, a conciliator, an experienced leader and a shake-’em-up rebel. “The trick is that all of these are McCain,” Matt McDonald, a senior adviser, told me. But in constantly alternating among story lines in order to respond to changing events and to gain traction with voters, the “true character” of a once-crisply-defined political figure has become increasingly murky.

More Excerpts from the Palins’ Interview With PEOPLE:

…but you don’t get to be governor without being smart. Do you think you’re intellectual?
Sarah: Yehhh-sss. And you have to be up on not only current events, but you have to understand the foundation of the issues that you’re working on…You can’t just go on what is presented you.

Police prepare for unrest :

Police departments in cities across the country are beefing up their ranks for Election Day, preparing for possible civil unrest and riots after the historic presidential contest.
Public safety officials said in interviews with The Hill that the election, which will end with either the nation’s first black president or its first female vice president, demanded a stronger police presence.

Where the GOP could get dirty:

With the end of another hotly contested presidential race now in sight, both political parties are once again mobilizing legions of lawyers. In every swing state — and even in a number of not-so-swing states — there are already public-relations and legal battles in motion that could help determine whether thousands of ballots will be counted. It’s been another campaign in which the Republican Party has whipped up a media frenzy over the mostly nonexistent problem of voter fraud — a much-hyped concern that, in reality, could abet a far more serious threat: Republican dirty tricks aimed at suppressing voter turnout in heavily Democratic areas.

Warning over US election problems :

Researchers are warning of potential problems during the US election with record numbers set to vote and many states using new voting machines.

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1008/14811.html:

Republicans attuned to conservative third-party efforts say that with less than two weeks to go until Election Day, the prospects for any 11th-hour, anti-Obama ad campaigns are highly unlikely.
Many in the party, including inside the McCain campaign, have held out hope that a deep-pocketed benefactor would emerge to bankroll ads in the campaign’s final days — spots that might, for example, resurrect the most incendiary clips from the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
But thanks largely to lack of passion for McCain within the conservative base, diminished hopes that he can win and a sharp decline in the stock market that has badly pinched donors’ pockets, veteran Republican operatives say it appears almost certain that what could be the most damaging line of attack against the Democratic nominee will be left on the shelf.

John McCain is concern trolling his heart out:

In his campaign for reelection, President Bush raised close to $370 million, an unprecedented sum for a general election campaign. And – correctly me if I’m mistaken – I don’t recall John McCain ever issuing dire portents about the impact of President Bush’s fundraising on American democracy. Indeed, I’m pretty sure John McCain was an enthusiastic campaigner for George Bush.

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Social Security Alt.Universe:

CNN just played the Social Security portion of John McCain’s interview with Wolf Blitzer. And two key points stood out.
First, McCain fabricated an alternative history of the 2005 Social Security battle in order to create a new tax talking points. According to McCain, and he repeated this again and again, “the [Social Security] talks broke down because the Democrats insisted as a precondition that we raise taxes.”
That’s very weird. First, there were no Social Security talks. And the Democrats didn’t make any demands to raise taxes. They didn’t even propose raising taxes. As many of you know, I followed that debate extremely closely. And McCain just made this stuff out of whole cloth. Really bizarre.
Second, Blitzer asked if McCain still would have favored President Bush’s privatization plan, as he did in 2005, that we see how volatile the stock market it is. McCain repeatedly refused to answer the question and instead repeated the tax precondition fib.

National GOP Pulling Financial Support For Michele Bachmann:

A Republican source has confirmed to Election Central that the NRCC is indeed pulling all its advertising for Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), whose antics since her McCarthyist rant on Hardball have quickly put this once-safe incumbent in serious danger. Several hundred-thousand dollars worth of TV time had previously been reserved on Bachmann’s behalf, but now it has all been cancelled, as Huffington Post first reported.

TPM Presents The GOP Mailers and Robocalls::

We bring you the state by state on GOP robocalls and mailers. To use our map, click on a highlighted state. From there you can click on an item that pops up, scroll down to see the item or listen to the call. If you would like to select another state, click the “X”. To return to map, click another state.

Early voting in Evansville:

For me the most moving moment came when the family in front of me, comprising probably 4 generations of voters (including an 18 year old girl voting for her first time and a 90-something hunched-over grandmother), got their turn to vote. When the old woman left the voting booth she made it about halfway to the door before collapsing in a nearby chair, where she began weeping uncontrollably. When we rushed over to help we realized that she wasn’t in trouble at all but she had not truly believed, until she left the booth, that she would ever live long enough to cast a vote for an African-American for president. Anyone who doesn’t think that African-American turnout will absolutely SHATTER every existing record is in for a very rude surprise.
There were about 20 people in front of me but remarkably not a single person left the room without voting over the 2 hours it took to get through the line.

McCain vs. Bush:

If you put a gun to my head and forced me to pull the lever for either McCain or Bush, I’m not sure who I’d choose. Getting the Cheney/Addington crew out of the White House might be worth it no matter what, especially if I could convince myself that McCain is hale and hearty and Sarah Palin would never have any duty more important than attending foreign funerals. But then again, compared to McCain’s barely suppressed rage and erratic, free-form bellicosity, the 2008 model George Bush almost seems like a statesman. It takes a very special talent to make people like Atrios and me come to that conclusion. John McCain is obviously a very special talent.

MCCAIN CAMPAIGN RATTLED BY AL QAEDA ADMISSION:

Look, this isn’t complicated. It isn’t even new — Richard Clarke, Ron Suskind, and others have written quite a bit on the fact al Qaeda prefers Bush’s foreign policy — it helps with terrorist recruiting and fundraising, undermines America’s global stature, and costs us a fortune — so it stands to reason that the terrorist network would support McCain, since his foreign policy is largely indistinguishable. The smart move for the McCain campaign is drawing attention away from this fact, not towards it.
What’s more, if al Qaeda really wanted to play some kind of reverse-psychology game here, it probably wouldn’t have posted a message to a website closely linked to the terrorist group, in Arabic, on a page accessible by a password. Indeed, if the situation were reversed, and that same page had expressed support for Obama, every Republican in America would be screaming hysterically right now.
But what seems clear is that Republicans are stuck in a trap of their own making. Bush, Cheney, McCain, and other leading Republicans have argued for years that we must take the terrorists’ words seriously and accepted at face value. Today, they’re arguing the polar opposite.
The truth is, it’s foolish to try to vote with terrorists’ motivations in mind. But therein lies the point — Republicans have said we must vote with terrorists’ motivations in mind. And as of this morning, that’s no longer a maxim they find helpful.

Patriotism 101:

Maybe this doesn’t need to be said, but:
Anyone who talks about the “pro-American” parts of the country is making an anti-American statement.
Anyone who talks about the “real” parts of Virginia doesn’t understand that all of Virginia is real–just not the reality as fantasized by the sort of people who see some parts of the country as more “pro-American” than others.
Anyone who describes one part of the country as “most patriotic” has lost all sense of what patriotism means.

Why do Republicans hate democracy?:

Because that’s what this whole “voter fraud” foofara is about. John McCain and Sarah Palin and Lou Dobbs and the rest of the right-wing torch brigade that have been after ACORN and the Ohio Secretary of State aren’t concerned about protecting people’s right to vote — and in fact, their efforts largely go toward directly stripping citizens of their legitimate voting rights.
Or more precisely, this is all about building a post-election narrative aimed at delegitimizing a Barack Obama presidency by claiming he won fraudulently. It’s not just a handy excuse for the ass-kicking they deserve — it’s a whole right-wing conspiracy-theory cottage industry in the making that will nurture their paranoia and rage for years down the road.

Finally, an answer on ‘preconditions’:

As should be obvious, these are “preparations,” not “preconditions.” Preconditions would be something like requiring Iran to disassemble its nuclear weapons program before we meet with them. But to negotiate such an agreement would require someone to sit down with someone else, and to make decisions at that level, it would have to be two leaders, not their representatives. —————- When John Edwards was scrapping with Barack and Hillary in the early primaries, we had a serious national debate about the merits of a universal mandate as part of a plan for universal healthcare. The three of them elevated our national discourse and informed voters. The debates were a chance to hash out important issues, and the campaigns and their surrogates invested serious effort in keeping the primaries substantive and smart. All three are heroes for that, and ennobled us all by their example.
John McCain and Sarah Palin have dragged us into the gutter, and whenever a reporter attempts to drag the discourse to drier, less odiferous areas, McCain and Palin claw themselves and the watching nation right back.

How John McCain brought the world back from the brink:

Does McCain believe that the fate of the world was in his hands in October of 1962? If he was tested during those thirteen days, then so were thousands and thousands of American servicemen and women, almost all of whom I’d bet never had it occur to them that what they were going through was somehow on a par with what the President and his advisors were going through. Probably impossible to find more than one or two others who are that vain.———————– McCain was tested, a lot more recently. Last month, in fact. When the financial world was melting down and threatening to take the country’s economy with it, John McCain ran around in circles yelling, Do this! No, do that! No, do both! Wait! Do neither! That was his big test this campaign. He failed.
Sitting in the cockpit of a plane that did not launch forty-six years ago this week, waiting for his orders from a President who was being tested proves only that he was alive and in the Navy at that time.
He was tested.

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