Wednesday, October 8, 2008
I've always been a champion of labor unions, but I fear that today's union leaders are turning their backs on democratic workplace elections. I've listened to all their arguments and reviewed the facts on both sides. Quite simply, this proposed law cannot be justified.
Can I vote for him? ... Done it before! [ via Insta ] 12:58 A.M.
Mark Halperin almost nails Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs on the Ayers issue--" It is the case that Barack Obama at least implicitly seems to be saying 'It's Ok to have professional associations with someone who was a terrorist and by some measures is an unrepentant terrorist'" --but Halperin doesn't know to stop talking . As a result, it sounds like an argument as opposed to a question followed by fumfawing or evasion. ... P.S.: Note Gibbs' pissed-off close. .. 12:31 A.M.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
McCain/ Obama Debate #2: Before I get spun: A dull debate in a dead room. Each stole the other's theme: Obama called for service to country, McCain for a "cool hand on the tiller" even as he seemed like a hyperactive hand himself. A tie helps Obama, and this probably wasn't even a tie. ... 1) Obama's great weakness is that he's an unknown with an unusual (i.e. strange) background. By painting him as a big-spending liberal, McCain oddly made Obama seem less strange, and more acceptable. Voters are used to dealing with big spending liberals--and they also may think that the there's not enough money for that much big spending anymore anyway. 2) Speaking of spending, McCain rails against Obama's "$860 billion" in proposed "new" spending, yet McCain wants the government to buy up all the bad mortgages in the country , give all homeowners new purchase prices and protect them from their ill-advised decisions? Sounds very expensive. Update: I was just on Tavis Smiley's TV show with Rep. Maxine Waters, who said the money to do what McCain wants to do is already in the bailout bill. But it sure sounded to me like McCain was proposing a big new initiative. More : He thought he was . "Aides to McCain told reporters" it will cost $300 billion. Waters' point may be that the existing bailout bill already authorizes such purchases; ... 3) "That one." Heh. Not racist--seemed to me like an attempt by McCain to avoid being too confrontational (by saying Obama's name) that wound up seeming more hostile than saying Obama's name would have been. ... 4) Obama still refers to economically pressured Americans as "you" rather than "we." He says, "Maybe you don't go out to dinner as much. Maybe you put off buying a new car." That's all? Is Obama trying to make the economic hardship he's talking about sound minimal? ... 5) McCain was badly hurt by the camera angle--shooting him from above only made him look short and scuttling. ... 6) Worst format ever? Could be! Can't believe McCain wanted more of these things. ... 7) Was it awful because it was a fake town hall debate, as Maxine Waters and Slate 's Jack Shafer contend? It certainly managed to keep the worst aspects of the town hall format--the phony empathy competition between the candidates as they either ignore questions or treat them as prompts for stock answers--while leaving out the worthwhile aspects--spontaneity and risk. In the process it reduced its Real Average Americans to props in the earnest empathon! 8) Brokaw didn't help by adding his own little bien pensant suggestions on top of the cherry-picked high-minded audience queries. At least when Brokaw moderated debates in 1988 he would harangue the candidates about "means-testing" Social Security, a substantive proposal. Now he wants only "a date certain to reform Social Security and Medicare within two years"--a bipartisanist gimmick ... 8) McCain has his own gimmick:
My friends, what we have to do with Medicare is have a commission, have the smartest people in America come together, come up with recommendations, and then, like the base-closing commission idea we had, then we should have Congress vote up or down.
Let's not let them fool with it anymore. There's too much special interests and too many lobbyists working there.
That's more or less what happened with the bailout bill, due to the rush of the crisis rather than any special procedural provision. I wonder if McCain is freshly enamored with the ability of the MSM to actually get Congress to approve the bailout in the teeth of public opposition? Maybe the Bailout Model now his template for top-down reform: a yes-no vote, with maximum establishment pressure focused, if only for an instant, on those selfish unbipartisan cowards who do what their constituents want instead of What Everyone Knows Must Be Done. And no pesky deal-breaking amendments. ... You just know McCain would like to go this route with "comprehensive immigration reform" too. ... 6:29 P.M./updated 8:42 P.M. link
Monday, October 6, 2008
Rezko Alert! Federal prosecutors have moved to delay sentencing of former Obama fundraiser Tony Rezko, the Chicago Tribune reports. ... The obvious suspicion is that he's talking. Or at least talking about talking ... Update: Full Tribune story . ... Of course this will also have the effect of pushing Rezko's sentencing past the election--eliminating one potentially bad bit of publicity for Obama. .. And according to the Trib 's sources, Rezko "has not yet made a firm deal." ... See also the timeline on the local NBC affiliate's blog, where Steve Rhodes writes: "[S]ubstantively, Obama's long and intimate relationship with Rezko is of far more import than the spectacle of Jeremiah Wright and the (mostly) nonsense of Bill Ayers. ... Obama's house deal with Rezko was indeed shady." ...
P.S.: Everybody seems to agree that the main target of the federal probe is sitting Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. But that doesn't rule out the possibility that prosecutors might also extract something from Rezko about Obama. ...
P.P.S.: Barring some dramatic development, like an indictment, voters may find the accusation that Obama is really a Chicago political hack more comforting than troubling. Better than a strange Third World Madrassa Man!** We're used to dealing with Chicago political hacks.
Jonathan Alter, Joe Klein, Richard Cohen, David Ignatius, Jacob Weisberg: all former McCain admirers now turned brutal critics. Equally if not more damaging, the shift has been just as pronounced, if less operatic, among straight-news reporters. Suddenly, McCain is no longer being portrayed as a straight-talking, truth-telling maverick but as a liar, a fraud, and an opportunist with acute anger-management issues.
I know Jon Alter. Jon Alter is a friend of mine. He's very good at what he does --I couldn't do it. He wrote an excellent book , has a lot to say. But he's not exactly someone you look to as a political weather vane. Alter is totally for Obama and has been since the beginning of the campaign. If Jon has "turned" brutally against McCain in the final weeks of the campaign that is as predictable as the Giants going into a prevent defense with a two touchdown lead and a minute to go.** ... But of course he hasn't "turned"--missing from Heilemann's piece is any evidence of Alter favoring McCain at any earlier point in the campaign, let alone evidence of Alter favoring McCain once he was the nominee running against Obama . The same goes, to a lesser extent, for his fellow Chicago Dem (and head of the Slate Group) Jacob Weisberg. Nor is it exactly surprising that Klein, Cohen and Ignatius would be on Obama's side in the end. ...
It's one thing to have pro-Democratic, pro-Obama media favoritism: That's just the way it is. Political reporters have opinions. Better blatant than latent.
It's another to have that very favoritism used as evidence that McCain is blowing it, losing his reputation for "integrity" and his "gold plated brand." ...
P.S.: It might seem as if the MSM reaction against McCain's shift to negativism has "driven the final nail into his coffin," as Heilemann suggests. The Feiler Faster Thesis says no--given the speed with which the country now processes information, there's plenty of time for several dramatic twists and turns, including lead changes. Obamaphiles (in the press and elsewhere) are deluding themselves, I think, if they think they can ride the economic crisis and the reaction against negativity to victory in a month. Plus Obama's not that far ahead .
**--I worked with Alter at Newsweek in the 1988 campaign. We were for Dukakis. ... 1:57 P.M. link
Fear o f 60: If there's a good chance that the Dems will achieve a theoretically filibuster-proof majority of 60 in the Senate, shouldn't that change the dynamic of the race? It certainly changes the nature of the prospective Obama presidency. It means he might come under intense pressure to do something big about health care. And it is a blazing arrow pointing in the direction of the Employee Free Choice Act, more commonly known as "card check," which would constitute a fairly fundamental revision of our basic economic laws in a direction designed to unionize a large chunk of the economy (at the cost of doing away with the secret ballot in union certification elections ). ... Currently about 12.6% of all U.S. jobs are unionized , though that includes the union-heavy public sector. How much of the economy would be organized after the secret ballot is eliminated? At the Dem convention I heard figures ranging from about 15% to 25% (the latter estimate derided by some as extreme). ... .
Since I think a dramatic increase in unionization is not the way to help those on the bottom of the job market--it's more likely to introduce inefficiency and inflation, compared with the proven Clintonite remedy of achieving a low unemployment rate--the looming 60-Dem threshold evokes mixed feelings, if not actual dread. I think I'd rather have Obama win a big victory while the Dems struggle to a narrow win in Congress than what we're likely to get--namely the reverse. (It's a measure of Obama's troubling weaknesses that he's lagging so far behind the underlying Dem legislative wave.) ...
This morning some idealistic, well-scrubbed 10 year olds down the street were raising funds by selling "Obama Lemonade." Do they know it's really Card Check Lemonade?!...
Mickey's Assignment Desk: It would be good to have a seat by seat analysis of: a) Whether all 60 prospective Dems will actually side with labor to break a card-check filibuster--or whether some independent-minded Dems might defy union-enforced orthodoxy and join the McGovern wing of the party . b) Whether the unions even need 60 Dems to pass the card check bill. Maybe they could rely on liberal GOPs like Susan Collins, Arlen Specter, or Olympia Snowe to break a filibuster even if the Dems win only, say, 58 seats. [ Update: Collins, at least, is anti-card check, I'm told.] ... 1:38 A.M. link