I was just looking at some poll numbers. In particular, I was just looking at Soon-to-be-Former-President George W. Bush's final job approval numbers. According to CBS, the final breakdown is:
Don't Know: 5%
The man has been President for EIGHT friggin' years. EIGHT years. How the bloody hell do you not know if you approve of the job he's been doing by now? Were those people all in a coma the entire time? Good grief.
I just watched the Obama "infomercial", and I was blown away. Never mind the production values that Chris Matthews is nattering on about. The real story is about the message: this campaign is about us. It's about what we need, and what we can do to get it.
The entire half hour was - well, it's hard to call it a positive ad. It was a hard look at the problems that we're facing, and need to address. This was not a "daybreak in America" kind of talk. But it wasn't negative, either. McCain was not belittled, he was ignored.
As I was writing that last paragraph, MSNBC went to the first commercial break since the Obama piece ended. One of the first commercials up was the new McCain "Obama: Not Ready ... Yet" commercial. Coming right at the end of Obama's call for unity, and for all of us to get involved, I don't think McCain could have managed to come out looking any more petty.
But this thing isn't over:
And updated some more:
Watching Countdown right now, I'm reminded of the old saying that the best measure of a man's intelligence is whether he agrees with you. Chris Hayes was just talking to Keith about the whole juxtaposition of the happy Obama/nasty McCain image thing. He proved that, at least by the measure above, he's a really smart guy. (Actually, he's a pretty smart guy by any measure.)
Finally, here's a moment of Zen type thing:
Given his amazing and shameless efforts at self promotion, it's entirely possible that Joe the Plumber might, thanks to John McCain, actually wind up in the small group of people who would see a tax increase under Obama's plan.
In today's Atlanta Journal Constitution, Army spouse Elisabeth Kadlec writes:
When we married our spouses, I am sure that none of us were signing up to be single parents. But in essence that is what we become. Many people I know, like my husband, have already been deployed more than three times, and will go again. Most of these deployments are to Iraq or Afghanistan. It always amazes me when people ask me if my husband has to go back. I even laugh at this question!
I think it shows that the public has no idea how many troops make up the armed forces and how many are deployed at a time. Somehow, that message has been lost when we talk about the war. I am pretty much resolved that my husband will be deployed almost every other year. You can only imagine what this does to a family, and how important it is to us that smart decisions are being made for military members.
I don't know Ms. Kadlec, but I sure do know a hell of a lot of people like her - enough to know that she is far from the only military spouse who will be voting Obama this year. She understands, as does every member of every Army family, that the current deployment tempo cannot go on forever, or even for much longer, without causing long-term damage to the army as a whole.
In other news, updates here will be fewer and farther between than normal this week. I'll be spending most of my free time working at the Obama campaign's Pensacola office.
I've got to admit that when I heard that Colin Powell was planning on endorsing a candidate for president yesterday, I was unimpressed. I figured that whichever candidate he chose would be on the receiving end of a lukewarm endorsement that would be easy to dismiss and would fade from the news rapidly. I didn't expect to see such a painfully honest assessment of the problems with the way the Republicans are campaigning, but I was even more surprised and impressed by Powell's simple, clear, and eloquent dismissal of the "he's a Muslim" argument:
I'm also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, "Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim." Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, "He's a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists." This is not the way we should be doing it in America.
Thank you, General Powell. We needed to hear that. It's more effective when it comes from someone on your side of the political spectrum.
But it sure would be nice if the folks on our side of the aisle would say it more often.
A little spat that John McCain is having with YouTube has gotten a bit of press lately. Basically, he's not happy because YouTube has been taking his videos down whenever they get a Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notice from a copyright holder. Apparently, this has happened to McCain fairly often, possibly because his campaign has gotten into the habit of using other people's material without their permission.
Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, an internet service provider (like YouTube) is only immune from copyright infringement suits if they promptly take down material upon receipt of a violation notice, and leave that material down for at least ten days following the receipt of a properly notarized counter-claim. McCain doesn't like that, and his people have reacted by proposing that YouTube should recognize how special they are, and give them special treatment.
YouTube replied by politely telling McCain that it's not their fault that the law is crappy. They're right, of course. Laws are not passed by internet service providers; they're passed by the United States Congress, which McCain has been a member of for a long time. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act was passed in 1998, and was passed unanimously by the senate.
That's right. McCain is asking YouTube to exempt him from the provisions of a law that he voted for. But it gets better. He didn't just vote for the DMCA. He actually went on the record in the Senate as supporting the bill:
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The Democratic nominee for President is giving one hell of a kick ass speech at the moment. I really hope this is the Obama we see for the rest of the campaign.
Senator John McCain, it appears, is not a fan of William Jennings Bryan. In a recent interview with USA Today, the Republican Party's nominee for President compared the three-time Democratic nominee for president from the turn of the last century to the Party's current nominee:
"I believe that people are interested very much in substance," McCain said. "If it was simply style, William Jennings Bryan would have been president." (Bryan, a noted orator, lost three presidential elections as the Democratic nominee in 1896, 1900 and 1908.)
It would be easy for me to dismiss McCain's dislike of Bryan as a rare point that he and I can agree on. Bryan's legacy, after all, is dominated by three great failures and one Pyrrhic victory: the Presidential elections, and his successful prosecution of one John Scopes for the crime of teaching Darwinism. Given my strong support for teaching real science in science classrooms, it probably wouldn't surprise anyone if I were to say that McCain got this one right.
The problem is, he didn't.
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Senator Hillary Clinton has apparently decided to join John McCain in calling for a "gas tax" holiday for the summer. Their plan would suspend the 18.4 cent per gallon tax on gas (and the 24.4 cent tax on diesel fuel) from Memorial Day to Labor Day, giving consumers a temporary break from the high cost of fuel. If, that is, the companies that sell the fuel don't decide to raise their prices and erase the relief.
In a Presidential campaign season that's been marked by more than its fair share of stupid ideas, this one's still a standout. Nothing says "responsible leadership" (or, for that matter, "intelligent campaigning") in times like this than proposing a measure that would:
- Potentially result in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs that are created by the federal highway projects that the gas tax pays for.
- Result in a massive spike in gas prices at the end of the summer, two months before election day.
- Create benefits for the average consumer only if the gas companies don't decide to raise their prices to collect some or all of the federal subsidy.
- Encourage consumers to buy more foreign oil this summer.
- Increase demand (and possibly well-head prices) during the summer.
- Provide a disproportionate share of the benefits to consumers who purchase massive, gas-guzzling SUVs.
Thank you, Senator Clinton, for once again reassuring me that backing Obama isn't as bad an idea as the alternative.
There were three more Presidential primaries yesterday - Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC. Turnout in all three of them was high yesterday, at least on the Democratic side. The numbers for all three areas are good, but I'm most excited by the Maryland numbers.
In 2004, Democratic candidates received a combined total of 481,476 votes in the Maryland presidential primary. As of right now, Barack Obama has 457,053 votes. That's the figure with 96% of precincts reporting. It doesn't include the absentee ballots, and it doesn't include the provisional ballots that were cast during the extended voting hours that were added because they were having a flipping ice storm there yesterday.
In Virginia, Democratic candidates received a combined total of 396,223 votes in 2004. Obama currently has 623,141 votes, and the combined total is near 1,000,000.
It's enough to make you think that people are actually getting interested about politics.
Is the party. Again.
In every single state that had a primary on Super Tuesday, Democratic turnout was up from 2004. The details are below the fold, and they're pretty cool to look at.
(Update 1: I've started to look at the Republican numbers. There are some things I'm seeing that they're probably not going to like. Details can be found at the bottom of the post.)
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