The Holy Grail of Florida and other media hallucinations

by lestro

I have read a couple of stories over the past few days that have really irked me because they are perfect examples of the media perpetuating myths that are not true.

The first was about third-party candidates polling at the 3 or 4 percent level and how that can be dangerous. They cite Nader’s 3 percent in Florida in 2000 as handing the election to Bush. Which is fucking stupid because what really handed Florida to Bush was the stupid fucking butterfly ballot that led a whole fucking mess of old Palm Beach Jews to vote for Pat Buchanan.

Come on. Patty Patty Buke Buke? I think fucking not.

It was not Nader, but the idiocy of these old voters and the horrible butterfly ballot (not mention Gore’s cardboard personality, seeming lack of vision and inability to win his home state) that cost him the election, not Nader.

Today, there is another Florida story in which Obama announced his plan for $1,000 rebates based on an windfall profits tax to energy companies. It’s a much better plan than the offshore drilling, especially considering ExxonMobil once again had a record-setting profit last quarter, despite coming in under predictions.

If times are so tough and oil is so expensive yet the world’s biggest oil company is making more profit than ever (profit, mind you, not just revenue), they must be gouging. How else can it be explained?

Honestly. If you know, I’m listening.

Read more of this post

Gore… SMASH!

by lestro

Last week, Al Gore urged the US to set a 10-year goal to wean itself from oil. It’s bold, idealistic and totally not going to happen.

But nobody tell him that, it might make him angry.

And you won’t like him when he’s angry…

Read more of this post

The “Gotcha” Debate

by lestro

For the 21st time this primary season, the Democratic party candidates gathered for another “debate,” this time in Philadelphia and in advance of next week’s Pennsylvania primary, another in a long line of firewall states for Hillary Clinton.

As Charlie Gibson put it, it was round 15 of a scheduled 10 round bout.

And really, it wasn’t much of a debate, as everything has already been covered and on policy matters and goals, there is very little difference between the two remaining democrats.

Instead, much of the debate, if it can really be called that, consisted of the moderators, one of whom owes his career to a Clinton, asking questions of questionable importance about non-issues and bullshit. It’s no wonder Obama labeled it the “Gotcha Debate.”

Part of the problem, of course, was that neither moderator really seemed up to the task and each had trouble coming up with anything new to ask – though Stephanopoulos did find a new attack on Obama, something about an Obama supporter who used to be a member of the Weather Underground, a domestic “terror” organization (for lack of better term) that died off soon after the end of the Vietnam War.

Even Gibson, who is usually very good, stumbled, and right off the bat. The first question was about the possibility of a joint ticket and Gibson quoted the Constitution, which says that the second-place finisher in the presidential election would be vice-president.

“If it was good enough in colonial times, why not in these times?” he asked.

Never mind the fact that the Constitution was amended to change that in 1804 because they realized how silly that was soon after the two-party system developed or that this is a primary, not a general election…

Both candidates performed as expected, with Clinton taking shot after shot at her Democratic opponent and Obama trying to remain above it while repeating his message of trying to change the whole politics as usual thing.

So the debate really became one of style with Hillary having the opportunity to show off her Wonky side, very effectively answering direct policy questions (most of which she answered first, leaving Obama, who agrees with her on many of them, trying to agree with her while saying something different) and Obama showing his vision and attempt to move past the politics as usual.

Read more of this post

Obama’s “cling to” might come back to haunt him

by lestro

So at a fundraiser last week in San Francisco , Obama said this:

“It’s not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

Ouch. It’s the “cling to” that really hurts. The connotation on that phrase is not going to play well.

Not that it will matter to the media or most voters, especially those he’s talking about, but here is the full quote in context:

“You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them,” Obama said. “And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

He tried to better explain on Saturday what he meant to say, and it makes sense:

“Lately there has been a little typical sort of political flare up because I said something that everybody knows is true, which is that there are a whole bunch of folks in small towns in Pennsylvania, in towns right here in Indiana, in my hometown in Illinois who are bitter,” Obama said Saturday morning at Ball State University.

“They are angry. They feel like they have been left behind. They feel like nobody is paying attention to what they’re going through.”

“So I said, well you know, when you’re bitter you turn to what you can count on. So people, they vote about guns, or they take comfort from their faith and their family and their community. And they get mad about illegal immigrants who are coming over to this country.”

After acknowledging that his previous remarks could have been better phrased, he added:

“The truth is that these traditions that are passed on from generation to generation, those are important. That’s what sustains us.

But what is absolutely true is that people don’t feel like they are being listened to.”

That’s a little better, but being right in this case hurts him even more because those same voters he’s talking about will probably only hear the first quote, pack that in with Jeremiah Wright and the flag pin thing, wrap it up with his middle name (which is odd considering the Rev. Wright thing, but it’s still there…) and the allegations of being a Harvard-educated, condescending, aloof guy are right back to the fore.

And Hillary and McCain pounced.

In Indianapolis on Saturday, Mrs. Clinton told voters she was “taken aback by the demeaning remarks Senator Obama made about people in small-town America.”

“Senator Obama’s remarks are elitist and they are out of touch,” Mrs. Clinton told an audience. “They are not reflective of the values and beliefs of Americans. Certainly not the Americans that I know.”

The McCain campaign late Friday evening criticized Mr. Obama for failing to express regret for his remark.

Tucker Bounds, a spokesman for Mr. McCain, said, “Instead of apologizing to small-town Americans for dismissing their values, Barack Obama arrogantly tried to spin his way out of his outrageous San Francisco remarks.”

“You can’t be more out of touch than that,” he added.

Hillary actually went even further:

“People don’t need a president who looks down on them,” she said. “They need a president who stands up for them.”

Ouch again. That’s a haymaker that could very well resonate and only time will tell if it lands or if Obama defense and general fact of his campaign bringing more people together can block it.

The idea that he was too aloof was one of those bad tastes in the mouths of voters that led to Kerry’s defeat as well, something one of Clinton top surrogates, Sen Evan Bayh, was very quick to point out:

Read more of this post

Live From The Campaign Trail, It’s Saturday Night!

by lestro

Every four years or so, one television show manages to shake off the “not as good as it used to be” detractors and once again become the single most relevant 90 minutes on network television: Saturday Night Live.

Even with the rise of cable television, “The Daily Show” and YouTube, SNL remains THE place to go for political satire, especially during election years.

On the air for almost 35 years, the show has lampooned politics and presidents since Chevy Chase fell down stairs as a clutzy, slightly confused Gerald Ford, forever locking in the idea that Ford himself – a collegiate football star with two national championships to his name – was a clutz.

For me, SNL’s political hook was set back with Phil Hartman playing a totally-in-control Reagan organizing his political machine until it was time to play dumb for a photo with a girl scout. My most distinct memory of the 1988 election was the debate between Dana Carvey’s hysterically twitchy George H.W. Bush and Jon Lovitz’s confused and very short Michael Dukakis. During the debate, Lovitz used a lift to raise himself behind the podium and then, after Carvey repeated “thousand points of light” for his entire response, uttered one of my favorite lines ever: “I can’t believe I’m losing to this guy.”

During the first Gulf war, Carvey’s Bush opened the show from the Oval Office almost every week, warning Saddam Hussein about the impending attack and then gloating when it was over.

During 1992, Carvey did double duty in the debates, playing both the president and Texas wackadoo businessman Ross Perot, while Phil Hartman’s Bill Clinton ran away with the oval office, with a memorable jogging trip to a McDonald’s in one sketch and the line “there’s gonna be a whole bunch of things we don’t tell Mrs. Clinton. Fast food is the least of our worries”.

Despite left-leaning writers and performers, the show more than anything skewers power. During the Clinton years, he got it pretty good, especially during the Lewinsky scandal in 1998. The season premiere that year opened with a sketch set on an Oprah show of the future, reuniting the cast of the Clinton Scandal to talk about the incident (Hillary, in the sketch, was a crunchy hippie-esque lesbian. John Goodman played Linda Tripp). Later in the episode, the Ladies Man and host Cameron Diaz offered advice to the President on how to get rid of unwanted interns once they were done “mouthifying his wang”:

“Yeah, that’s nice. Now how ’bout you be going?”

In 2000, Will Ferrell’s George Bush became the most popular character on the show, so popular in fact that last week on Nightline, while plugging his new movie, Ferrell was asked if he takes any responsibility for the Bush victory because people liked his impression of Bush so much. The best moment of that election season was a debate sketch in which Tim Russert asked each candidate to sum up their campaign in one word. Gore responded “Lockbox,” while Bush gave us a new word, one that has stuck with us since: “Strategery.”

After Sept. 11, 2001, Saturday Night Live’s first live episode featured Mayor Rudy Guiliani (a regular guest during his time in Gracie Mansion) and members of the NYPD and NYFD during the cold opening. When Lorne Michaels asked Rudy if they could be funny, Rudy responded “Why start now?” and SNL was back.

Read more of this post