lundi 8 septembre 2008


The renovations are visible from the parked car

That's the Fiat Uno rear view mirror. At 3.5 liters/100 km, it's still the preferred automobile of the flotilla of old cars, and one nice old car. I have always especially liked the checkered -- just saw Audouin hurry across the terrace, helmet on, to inspect the day's work before coming in ("Did they come today?", "Doesn't look like they did much today", and this evening, "That's all they did today?" Why did I get married? No, let's not go there.) -- upholstry. Reminds me of summertime, or a first car. I feel young all over again driving it. Basic. A shift stick, nothing assisted (U-turns are hell), no frills, unless you count the red, turqouise and back upholstry.

Today, they took the scaffolding down from the garden side of the house and put it up on the street side.

Now, it would seem to me that it would be a better use of time and help things move along if they simply brought more scaffolding on site, as opposed to moving around what they did bring like a giant Erector Set.

I suppose this is what Audouin intended by his comment, too, but... I feel like the complaint box.

You know what? I am happy if they show up regularly, continue to be pleasant to be around, and things move along, and it all comes out just the way I want. They can take six months, as long as they are showing up.


The "silly season" turns scary

A wonk who shall remain nameless tried to talk me down from the ceiling the other day with the following:

In the days before the internet, rumors about everything imaginable (e.g., candidate X will bring in John XYZ as chief of staff and MY program will get (trashed) (bumped up top)) abound. People do/say crazy things of all kinds...

During the next two months, each of us only has so much energy with which to row this boat. Further, the siren song of rumors will increase in both frequency and intensity.

I suggest when you see one, just dump the email. Then go make another call or whatever.

I pull this out when I need to think of this moment as silly and not something far worse, like the moment before the plane starts to crash, when you are only a little tiny bit, peripherally worried that it might.

It's not working today.

The unbearable lightness of polls: flipping coins

I saw the polls today. Who here didn't? Let's see a show of hands.

Trying to feel better, like calling this period of the election season "silly", the nervous are calling them "outlier" polls. Excuse me, but... hunh?

Okay, Barack Obama had his post convention "bump", but it wasn't anywhere hear as good as Bristol's baby bump has proved for the McCain/Granny Palin ticket. McCain picked up 14 points in a week since his VP pick and the RNC that was supposed to bomb. According to USA Today/Gallup, McCain now leads Obama 50% - 46% among registered voters, but among those considered likely to vote, the spread is 10 points at 54% - 44%:

In the new poll, taken Friday through Sunday, McCain leads Obama by 54%-44% among those seen as most likely to vote. The survey of 1,022 adults, including 959 registered voters, has a margin of error of +/— 3 points for both samples.

Bush is still seen as a big weak point for McCain, with his approval rating at 33% and 64% of respondents saying they are concerned that McCain would pursue policies too close to those of Bush.

The Palin pick has netted the Repubicans -- who are energized and more enthusiastic coming out of their convention, from unprecedented lows of enthusiasm -- 8 points, with 29% saying they are now more likely to vote for McCain because of her and 21% saying they are less likely.

Biden, on the other hand, was a draw for Obama. He makes 14% of voters more likely to vote for Obama, while 7% say they are now less likely to do so. Let's hope that's a weak 7% loss that will come around once they ponder the future with McCain and Palin occupying the White House.

According to University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato interviewed for the article, there is an ephemeral quality to the post-convention aura:

"in an analysis of the impact of political conventions since 1960, Sabato concluded that post-convention polls signal the election's outcome only about half the time. 'You could flip a coin and be about as predictive,' he says. 'It is really surprising how quickly convention memories fade.'"

Given his analysis, there is room to work this, but we have to start now.


So, what's that mean, and what do we have to do?

I was driving home from the supermarket, looking out over the fields, golden in the evening sun (haven't seen much of that lately, and that's not only because I haven't left my computer in days but because the sun hasn't been out in weeks), and alongside the beauty, I was struck by he brilliance of the Republican machine. Rove. The mad scientist genius.

It comes into focus in flashes of comprehension.

McCain had no press during the primary season and especially during the high-pitched battle of the Obama-Clinton knock-out, when Obama had plenty. He had figured out with his advisers how to win a primary no one believed could be taken from the "Clinton machine", and the press was all over the story.

Then came the summer. Not much going on. He surfed the tops of the waves the primary had generated, and the ones in Honolulu, while McCain's team strategized. The VP pick would be the biggest next news. Obama's choice was level-headed and responsible, geared to reassure voters concerned with the experience question and to govern.

Everyone thought McCain would do likewise, and his campaign threw a slider, the Palin pitch.

The Palin ball

It did everything the Republicans could dream for it to do:
  • She's a woman who could appeal to evangelical Christian women and their husbands, too. Attractive, young, a mother, a go-getter with all the right sex-ed and abortion positions, who throws her hair up, hands the baby to her teenaged daughter and gets the job done, along with bringing down a moose or two and requesting that a few books be banned from the public library.
  • She's even got a son in the military, another who is handicapped and a pregnant teenage daughter to show how commited to her religious views she is when things go wrong, and a devote husband, happy to sit quietly in the background. How much trouble can a snow-mobile race champion have gotten into? Nothing like Ferraro's husband.
  • She's the NRA's dream.
  • She has honed the change image better than McCain of late, and at least there won't be enough time before the election to convince anyone who isn't already a Palin fan that she ain't the real McCoy.
  • She was a huge surprise that got McCain all the media attention he'd been denied for months.
The perfect distraction to generate so much noise in the press and the blogs that Obama couldn't be heard unless he learned to shout, or Michelle turned out to be with child by William Ayres, having gotten pregnant while vacationing at a Rezko retreat with Oprah.

McCain's team knew he couldn't win it on the issues and his policies, and they didn't ever want him to (this is the era of the Rove White House), so let's throw sand in everyone's eyes.

Meanwhile, who's talking about Randy Scheuneman -- better yet, read the one piece for which I can thank Pat Buchanan, "None Dare Call it Treason" -- and Georgia while we're throwing money to that country and Gorbachev is warning in the OpEd page of the New York Times that we are asking for a lethal cold war redux with Russia?

The mood in Obama country

The murmurs all day on the Obama boards have become rumbles -- When is he going to respond? When is he going to take them on? Should he? How can he without undermining the ethic of his campaign that makes so much of his appeal? Where are the Clintons? What's the plan? Just take a look at Josh Marshall's post over on TPM this morning, "Primal Scream".

Arriving home from the store, I found that someone else had been typing what I had been thinking in the car:

"While everyone argues over this that and the other thing, McCain skates by unnoticed, leaving precious little time for us to catch the media's ear and get the word out to the masses."

And another forwarded Greg Sargeant's post today in TPM Election central with Obama campaign Bill Burton's response to the new McCain ad falsely claiming that as governor, Sarah Palin blocked "the Bridge to Nowhere", as though from our fingers typing frantically to God's ear. Only now it needs to get picked up and played loudy. How about an ad of our own, Obama folks?

The pieces left on the board
(feel free to comment and add your own; my list is deliberately short)

So, we forget convention bumps (they're ephemeral), and maybe even baby bumps. We take a look at the chess board, and we plan our move to win what we left off in 2006 (thanks, John).
  • Palin is McCain's ace in the hole? She's bought him votes, but the voters are worried just a little bit about her. Let's bring her down on the issues, and hard. Give her the kind of attention she deserves. Let's get her in front of the press with a mic and no help. Demand it. This is the USA, not the former Yugoslavia.
  • McBush. 63% of voters are a tad worried that McCain really is just a bit too much more of the same? Let's show him just how, and good.
  • Obama's a little too intellectual, low-key and wry? Let's have a moose hunt of our own, only we'll spare the moose and make the moose hunter more than a little uncomfortable. Change gears. We don't have to assassinate their characters, there's plenty of fair game in their policies, agendas, past performance, lies and distortions that is perfectly right to go after. You know I'm on that like flies on -- well, you know what.
  • Biden isn't that big a help? Well, use him where he is -- anywhere there are concerns over foreign policy and national security in an Obama administration -- and get the Clintons moving to bring back the 7% he lost when he didn't pick her.
  • Swing the vote to ObamaBiden. Those of you with a friend or family member who might stay home or vote McCain, but isn't 100% commited, are ones most likely to bring a voter around to vote Obama/Biden, but we are all needed onn the phone to the critical swing states. Make the case for Obama/Biden and against McCain/Palin, and do it on the facts. Start now so you can do it gently, help bring them around like a warship changing course.
  • Register new voters, all the unlikely ones the polls don't count. Especially students and minorities who have felt burned, and are most likely to get burned again this year. Vigilance is the word. They're going to try to take those voters out of the election, and it has already begun. You need to write to your local papers, to the radio and TV outlets, to the board of electors, anywhere to get this word out: "Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean someone's not after me."
  • Purged voters: we need to get this out to folks to make sure if they were purged that they get RE-registered! And state deadlines are as soon as THIS SUNDAY!
  • And Ohio: "Nearly 600,000 Subject to Possible Caging in Ohio"
  • And elsewhere: "It's not just 600,000 in Ohio: LA, FL, MI, KS, NM, CO, and NV"
  • Combat the FALSE claims by state registrars that students registering from their college addresses risk losing insurance coverage and their parents' ability to declare them as a dependent: "Voter registration by students raises cloud of consequences" .
As that poster who wrote as I drove home said, "Guess we'll have to do it the old fashioned way... knocking on doors, ringing some phones, and staying focused on the facts. Be well, and stay strong!"

I gotta' go eat dinner. It's almost time for the Federer-Murray final. And we haven't even gotten to MSNBC's surrender to the far-right with the removal of Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews from the anchor chairs for election coverage. No problem that Fox is partisan because they are on the side of those who would avoid an unfriendly press. So, in the interests of fairness, I want the balance and outrage over on MSNBC that Olbermann and Matthews provide.

That will leave us something to talk about tomorrow, as if...

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