Wednesday, July 30, 2008

McCain Does Some Grocery Shopping

I’m sure some of you have already seen this clip on youtube, and it gets a laugh because the jars of applesauce happen to fall off the shelf. But even taking away the falling applesauce, this clip is still painfully awkward. Just listen to the dialogue a couple times through.

Who on the campaign decided it would be a good idea to put a clearly uncomfortable John McCain in a supermarket with a mom and her kids, and then have him lend a hand in picking out canned fruit? You can read the “what the hell am I doing here” expression on McCain’s face throughout the entire clip. Granted I’m not an expert, but I have no idea what the McCain camp thinks they are accomplishing with these appearances. Forced interaction, like is seen here in the grocery store, does not play to his strengths. What it does tend to show is his age and relative lack of everyday charisma. He’s not Ronald Reagan or even George W. Bush in that regard. Obviously the campaign is trying to show voters the lighter and more personable side of John McCain but scenes like this are not effective. His camp really needs to stop placing him in these ridiculous situations where he just looks lost and out of place.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Quote of the Day 7/29/08

"... This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
- Sir Winston Churchill at the Lord Mayor's Luncheon, Mansion House following the victory at El Alameinin North Africa, London, 10 November 1942.

Seems appropriate as tomorrow, Wednesday day afternoon, will (mercifully) conclude my legal education and experience in higher learning.

Unless, of course, I fail the NY Bar. But, then again, no one lost more campaigns or jobs than Churchill so I'd be in good company.

Monday, July 28, 2008

W. Trailer

The first trailer for Oliver Stone's new movie has been released:

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Week in Political Comedy

I don't want to keep burying McCain, but this wasn't a great week for him, as reflected on many late night shows.

Probably the most embarrassing part was the contrast between Barack Obama's speech before over 200,000 in Berlin, and his speech before a few reporters at a supermarket in Pennsylvania.

He was in the dairy section.

And the supermarket loudspeaker interrupted him.

Multiple times.

Jon Stewart covered it, at the top of his game:

Jimmy Kimmel also this to say on a McCain gaffe:

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Debating the Politics of the Dark Knight

Two interesting articles break down the political message of the decade's biggest movie, and give nearly opposite interpretations.

At, Michael Dudley sees the Dark Knight through the new lens of a post- 9/11 narrative in American politics. From violent but futile interrogations, to an intrusive but ultimately useless surveillance system, to the redemption of prisoners clad in Guantanamo- orange jumpsuits-- Dudley argues the movie's popularity is a sign that America has gotten wise to dangerous tactics of the past 7 years.

He concludes:

"Even in the face of incomprehensible, implacable evil, The Dark Knight reminds us that [principles of law, fairness and justice] are our only anchors, for without them we betray both them and ourselves.

America may still have that chance. At the moment, however, its Constitution has been mauled, and politicians of both parties long ago surrendered their capacities to stop an illegal war and the looting of the nation's wealth. Now, however, The Dark Knight warns against both abandoning our principles out of fear, grief and hatred, as well as abdicating our moral agency to external authorities -- both of which comprised the hallmark moral syndrome of the years following 9/11."

Meanwhile, Andrew Klavan of the Wall Street Journal sees things exactly the opposite way:

He begins:
A cry for help goes out from a city beleaguered by violence and fear: A beam of light flashed into the night sky, the dark symbol of a bat projected onto the surface of the racing clouds . . .

Oh, wait a minute. That's not a bat, actually. In fact, when you trace the outline with your finger, it looks kind of like . . . a "W."

There seems to me no question that the Batman film "The Dark Knight"... is at some level a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war. Like W, Batman is vilified and despised for confronting terrorists in the only terms they understand. Like W, Batman sometimes has to push the boundaries of civil rights to deal with an emergency, certain that he will re-establish those boundaries when the emergency is past.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Obama in Berlin

The McCain Flip Flop list

As noted earlier, John McCain has a real problem with conflicting statements he's made over his long political career, on his journey from driver of the Straight Talk Express to speaker at Liberty University to Republican nominee for president.

Thankfully, helpful liberal bloggers have kept careful tabs on the Arizona Senator, and 66 of his changed positions are categorized and listed with evidence below:

National Security Policy

1. McCain thought Bush’s warrantless-wiretap program circumvented the law; now he believes the opposite.

2. McCain insisted that everyone, even “terrible killers,” “the worst kind of scum of humanity,” and detainees at Guantanamo Bay, “deserve to have some adjudication of their cases,” even if that means “releasing some of them.” McCain now believes the opposite.

3. He opposed indefinite detention of terrorist suspects. When the Supreme Court reached the same conclusion, he called it “one of the worst decisions in the history of this country.”

4. In February 2008, McCain reversed course on prohibiting waterboarding.

5. McCain was for closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay before he was against it.

6. When Barack Obama talked about going after terrorists in Pakistani mountains with predators, McCain criticized him for it. He’s since come to the opposite conclusion.

Foreign Policy

7. McCain was for kicking Russia out of the G8 before he was against it.

8. McCain supported moving “towards normalization of relations” with Cuba. Now he believes the opposite.

9. McCain believed the U.S. should engage in diplomacy with Hamas. Now he believes the opposite.

10. McCain believed the U.S. should engage in diplomacy with Syria. Now he believes the opposite.

11. McCain is both for and against a “rogue state rollback” as a focus of his foreign policy vision.

12. McCain used to champion the Law of the Sea convention, even volunteering to testify on the treaty’s behalf before a Senate committee. Now he opposes it.

13. McCain was against divestment from South Africa before he was for it.

Military Policy

14. McCain recently claimed that he was the “greatest critic” of Rumsfeld’s failed Iraq policy. In December 2003, McCain praised the same strategy as “a mission accomplished.” In March 2004, he said, “I’m confident we’re on the right course.” In December 2005, he said, “Overall, I think a year from now, we will have made a fair amount of progress if we stay the course.”

15. McCain has changed his mind about a long-term U.S. military presence in Iraq on multiple occasions, concluding, on multiple occasions, that a Korea-like presence is both a good and a bad idea.

16. McCain was against additional U.S. forces in Afghanistan before he was for it.

17. McCain said before the war in Iraq, “We will win this conflict. We will win it easily.” Four years later, McCain said he knew all along that the war in Iraq war was “probably going to be long and hard and tough.”

18. McCain has repeatedly said it’s a dangerous mistake to tell the “enemy” when U.S. troops would be out of Iraq. In May, McCain announced that most American troops would be home from Iraq by 2013.

19. McCain was against expanding the GI Bill before he was for it.

Domestic Policy

20. McCain defended “privatizing” Social Security. Now he says he’s against privatization (though he actually still supports it.)

21. McCain wanted to change the Republican Party platform to protect abortion rights in cases of rape and incest. Now he doesn’t.

22. McCain supported storing spent nuclear fuel at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Now he believes the opposite.

23. He argued the NRA should not have a role in the Republican Party’s policy making. Now he believes the opposite.

24. In 1998, he championed raising cigarette taxes to fund programs to cut underage smoking, insisting that it would prevent illnesses and provide resources for public health programs. Now, McCain opposes a $0.61-per-pack tax increase, won’t commit to supporting a regulation bill he’s co-sponsoring, and has hired Philip Morris’ former lobbyist as his senior campaign adviser.

25. McCain is both for and against earmarks for Arizona.

26. McCain’s first mortgage plan was premised on the notion that homeowners facing foreclosure shouldn’t be “rewarded” for acting “irresponsibly.” His second mortgage plan took largely the opposite position.

27. McCain went from saying gay marriage should be allowed, to saying gay marriage shouldn’t be allowed.

28. McCain opposed a holiday to honor Martin Luther King, Jr., before he supported it.

29. McCain was anti-ethanol. Now he’s pro-ethanol.

30. McCain was both for and against state promotion of the Confederate flag.

31. In 2005, McCain endorsed intelligent design creationism, a year later he said the opposite, and a few months after that, he was both for and against creationism at the same time.

32. McCain opposed gay adoption before his campaign concluded he didn’t really mean it.

33. In the Senate, McCain opposed a variety of measures on equal pay for women, and endorsed the Supreme Court’s Ledbetter decision. In July, however, McCain said, “I’m committed to making sure that there’s equal pay for equal work. That … is my record and you can count on it.”

34. McCain was against fully funding the No Child Left Behind Act before he was for it.

Economic Policy

35. McCain was against Bush’s tax cuts for the very wealthy before he was for them.

36. John McCain initially argued that economics is not an area of expertise for him, saying, “I’m going to be honest: I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues; I still need to be educated,” and “The issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should.” He now falsely denies ever having made these remarks and insists that he has a “very strong” understanding of economics.

37. McCain vowed, if elected, to balance the federal budget by the end of his first term. Soon after, he decided he would no longer even try to reach that goal. And soon after that, McCain abandoned his second position and went back to his first.

38. McCain said in 2005 that he opposed the tax cuts because they were “too tilted to the wealthy.” By 2007, he denied ever having said this, and falsely argued that he opposed the cuts because of increased government spending.

39. McCain thought the estate tax was perfectly fair. Now he believes the opposite.

40. McCain pledged in February 2008 that he would not, under any circumstances, raise taxes. Specifically, McCain was asked if he is a “‘read my lips’ candidate, no new taxes, no matter what?” referring to George H.W. Bush’s 1988 pledge. “No new taxes,” McCain responded. Two weeks later, McCain said, “I’m not making a ‘read my lips’ statement, in that I will not raise taxes.”

41. McCain has changed his entire economic worldview on multiple occasions.

42. McCain believes Americans are both better and worse off economically than they were before Bush took office.

Energy Policy

43. McCain supported the moratorium on coastal drilling ; now he’s against it.

44. McCain recently announced his strong opposition to a windfall-tax on oil company profits. Three weeks earlier, he was perfectly comfortable with the idea.

45. McCain endorsed a cap-and-trade policy with a mandatory emissions cap. In mid-June, McCain announced he wants the caps to voluntary.

46. McCain explained his belief that a temporary suspension of the federal gas tax would provide an immediate economic stimulus. Shortly thereafter, he argued the exact opposite.

47. McCain supported the Lieberman/Warner legislation to combat global warming. Now he doesn’t.

48. McCain was for national auto emissions standards before he was against them.

Immigration Policy

49. McCain was a co-sponsor of the DREAM Act, which would grant legal status to illegal immigrants’ kids who graduate from high school. Now he’s against it.

50. On immigration policy in general, McCain announced in February 2008 that he would vote against his own bill.

51. In April, McCain promised voters that he would secure the borders “before proceeding to other reform measures.” Two months later, he abandoned his public pledge, pretended that he’d never made the promise in the first place, and vowed that a comprehensive immigration reform policy has always been, and would always be, his “top priority.”

Judicial Policy and the Rule of Law

52. McCain said he would “not impose a litmus test on any nominee.” He used to promise the opposite.

53. McCain believes the telecoms should be forced to explain their role in the administration’s warrantless surveillance program as a condition for retroactive immunity. He used to believe the opposite.

54. McCain went from saying he would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade to saying the exact opposite.

Campaign, Ethics, and Lobbying Reform

55. McCain supported his own lobbying-reform legislation from 1997. Now he doesn’t.

56. In 2006, McCain sponsored legislation to require grassroots lobbying coalitions to reveal their financial donors. In 2007, after receiving “feedback” on the proposal, McCain told far-right activist groups that he opposes his own measure.

57. McCain supported a campaign-finance bill, which bore his name, on strengthening the public-financing system. In June 2007, he abandoned his own legislation.

Politics and Associations

58. McCain wanted political support from radical televangelist John Hagee. Now he doesn’t. (He also believes his endorsement from Hagee was both a good and bad idea.)

59. McCain wanted political support from radical televangelist Rod Parsley. Now he doesn’t.

60. McCain says he considered and did not consider joining John Kerry’s Democratic ticket in 2004.

61. McCain is both for and against attacking Barack Obama over his former pastor at his former church.

62. McCain criticized TV preacher Jerry Falwell as “an agent of intolerance” in 2002, but then decided to cozy up to the man who said Americans “deserved” the 9/11 attacks.

63. In 2000, McCain accused Texas businessmen Sam and Charles Wyly of being corrupt, spending “dirty money” to help finance Bush’s presidential campaign. McCain not only filed a complaint against the Wylys for allegedly violating campaign finance law, he also lashed out at them publicly. In April, McCain reached out to the Wylys for support.

64. McCain was against presidential candidates campaigning at Bob Jones University before he was for it.

65. McCain decided in 2000 that he didn’t want anything to do with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, believing he “would taint the image of the ‘Straight Talk Express.’” Kissinger is now the Honorary Co-Chair for his presidential campaign in New York.

66. McCain believed powerful right-wing activist/lobbyist Grover Norquist was “corrupt, a shill for dictators, and (with just a dose of sarcasm) Jack Abramoff’s gay lover.” McCain now considers Norquist a key political ally.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Ja Können Wir: Quote of the Day 7/23

"Barack Obama's visit shows: there is another America."

- Germany's Green Party Parliamentary leader Reinhard Buetikofer, on why his country is so passionate about the presumed Democratic nominee's visit to Berlin.

Although only 13,000 Americans live in Berlin, over 1 million are expected to attend the speech, with 4 TV stations carrying the entire thing live.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Way to Prove a Point, Dan

This morning on MSNBC's venerable "Morning Joe" hosted by Nobel Laureate Joe Scarborough and MacArthur Genius Fellow Tiki Barber, Dan Rather reminded everyone why he's not allowed to talk on real TV anymore.

Normally, I'd kind of ignore this type of thing, but the context was just too perfect. The three were discussing when Jesse Jackson was caught on tape saying was "tired of [Barack Obama] talking down to black folks," and that he wanted to "cut [Obama's] nuts off."

So Rather plods along predictable lines: "I respect Jesse Jackson... blah blah... 24 hour news cycle... yada yada... new culture" basically saying that you always have to be ready and extremely careful with every word nowadays or it will be on the front page tomorrow.

Then he mistakenly calls Barack Obama Osama bin Laden.

The full name.

And doesn't miss a beat.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Kennedy Holds Court: Pic of the Day 7/16

This chart is kind of old news, the NY Times published it after the Supreme Court's term closed last month, but I'm just getting around to it now. It shows the court's ideological breakdown in key cases and how it has become Justice Anthony Kennedy's domain.

The Conservative base has a nearly impenetrable bloc, but when Kennedy is inclined to defect his vote carries the day:

Justices Roberts and Alito have proved to be the steadfast conservatives the Right sought (behind the rallying cry "No more Souters!") after the "calamitous" appointment of the surprisingly liberal Justice David Souter by the first President Bush.

With Justices Ginsburgh and Stevens nearly ready to hang up their robes, a Republican victory in November would push Justice Kennedy from the dead center position he now holds on this chart to the far left.

Monday, July 14, 2008

"McSame" Cringe Moment

If, as he steadfastly claims, South Carolina governor Mark Sanford doesn't want to be McCain's VP nominee, he did a lot to help his cause in this exchange with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

Dogged by the accusation that he's running for Bush's third term, McCain has tried to distance himself in any way possible-- he even evoked Theodore Roosevelt this weekend.

But when Sanford was asked to point out differences between McCain and Bush he, well... struggled.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

And Ted Kennedy can do a Mean Figure Four: Quote of the Day 7/9

"All you Minnesotans take a good hard look at all three of us. And you decide: if you were in a dark alley which one of the three of us would you want with you?"

- Jesse Ventura on his qualifications to be a US Senator. It looks like Ventura will challenge Republican Norm Coleman, whom he defeated for governor in 1998, and comedian-turned-political commentator-turned- candidate Al Franken for Minnesota's Senate seat.

Clearly, the good people of Michigan employed the same criterion when electing Senator Debbie Stabenow.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Happy Belated to SAM Online

On July 3, SAM Online celebrated it's first birthday. About one year ago, after reading Al Gore's The Assault on Reason, I resurrected my mission to build a political blog (I'd flirted with and abandoned two years earlier). Special thanks to everyone who has supported the site by reading, posting or commenting.

Here are some of SAM's stats through its first year:

32,000- estimated hits for the site in its first year.

457- number of posts to date on SAM

15- people who have posted articles

75- highest number of posts in any month (Feb. '08)

14-0- the record of my fantasy baseball team, "Keith's Stache"

219- estimated in- class hours I spent on the blog
Although activity has dipped on the site since I graduated (thanks, NY State Bar Examiners), I am very hopeful that SAM will continue through November's elections. As always, anyone is welcome to post-- just contact me ( Thanks again, and spread the word...

The "Awful Splendor of War": Pics of the day 7/7

The Cyclorama mural in Gettysburg, PA is getting a touch up, the NY Times reports. Originally painted in 1884, the massive painting was so realistic that it made veterans cry on sight. Now, the mural, 377 ft. in circumference and 42 ft. tall, is undergoing a massive $15m refurbishing to be completed Sept. 26.

McCain hits Obama on Energy

One of the biggest issues this year is the insanely high price of gas, now comfortably over $4/gallon. In response John McCain and the RNC debuted this ad seeking to play up McCain's wounded "maverick" credentials." It notes that McCain's calling for "conservation" and "alternative fuels," and but also appeases conservatives, noting his support for drilling and gas tax relief.

It also unveils the juxtaposition the RNC will use-- McCain pushing his party in a new direction vs. "Barack Obama-- just the party line"

Friday, July 4, 2008

They Distort You Decide

Media Matters, the watchdog site, caught Fox and Friends good. The show, probably the most egregious and flat out moronic of the Fox News lineup, did a "story" on a recent New York Times article about CNN and MSNBC closing in on fox in the ratings race. Fox and Friends mentioned the piece's writer Jacques Steinberg and Steven Reddicliffe, the editor who ran the piece.

They also ran photos of the pair, photos that were almost comically altered to make them look uglier. They darkened their eyes, messed with their noses, teeth and hairlines, and passed it off as real. Another high water mark for Fox News: They distort, you decide.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Baldwin vows to Leave, I vow to Pack

Between Laura Ingram and Steven Baldwin, I don't know who is worse in this clip. Ingram is disingenuous, transparent and just plain nauseating. She relies on the tired old act of aligning the Democrat, this one in particular, with his celebrity- supporters, to paint him as elitist or not for "regular folks." I wonder if the good folks who watched this at home on Fox News would feel more closely aligned with the economic royalists that shell out cash for Republicans.

The worst is when she runs down the guest list and adds, "Man, I wish I could have gone." But she can't, you see, because she's just a regular gal, with a syndicated radio show who gets $30 grand a speech.

As for Baldwin, he's just a fool for walking into such an easy joke with his "I'll leave the country if Obama wins" line. OK, Baldwin, I'll bite: America should gladly sacrifice an Obama presidency to keep alive the hope of a possible sequel to Biodome... McCain '08!