Nine days and counting

There are all kinds of crazy things out there at this stage of the campaign including this video made by kids in a town in Japan named Obama.  According to my atlas, Obama is a town on the Western coast of Honshu.  The closest large city appears to be Kyoto.  If anyone else is more familar with Japanese geography, they should correct me.  At any rate, there is this video I found on Ben Smith’s blog on of a bunch of kids singing the praises of Obama – both the town and the candidate.

And then there is a very scary Sarah Palin telling Brian Williams in their interview with John McCain that Bill Ayres is definitely a terrorists, but maybe people who bomb abortion clinics aren’t.  Video clip here.  John McCain is seen sitting next to her like an indulgent father with a daughter he can’t really control.  He has to be appalled.

The Guardian  has the English analysis of the election this morning.    With the lead, Republicans Fear Long Exile, Paul Harris writes,

In America’s conservative heartland the talk now is not just of a win for Obama. With the Democrats poised for gains in the Senate and the House, moderate Republicans fear a wipeout that would leave their party in the grip of evangelicals increasingly out of touch with the public. Could the country be on the brink of change as deep as that ushered in by Reagan?

Barack Obama is holding on to his lead.  I haven’t seen the Sunday numbers, but yesterday no swing state polls were slipping to McCain.  I was watching the Nevada rallies on CNN late yesterday afternoon.  I noticed that the McCain shots seemed to to tight on the platform and candidate while the cameras pulled back at the Obama rally to show the huge crowd.  I’m not sure what to make of this.  Is this supposed to help McCain by making it appear that he has lots of people there?  Or help Obama by showing his crowds?

“I feel like we got a righteous wind at our backs here,” Obama told 35,000 people in Leesburg on Wednesday, a noteworthy crowd in a state that Democrats have not won since 1964. “But we’re going to have to work. We’re going to have to struggle. We’re going to have to fight” until the polls close.

The night before, Obama’s wife, Michelle, warned supporters in Miami to ignore all the predictions of an easy win.

“We can take nothing for granted,” she said. “My view is that Barack Obama is the underdog and will continue to be the underdog until he’s sitting in the Oval Office. We have to act like he’s 20 points behind.”   [quotes from the Boston Sunday Globe]

Clothes, Terrorists, and being Muslim

Lots of stuff flying around the campaign the last day or so.  First, there is the Palin family makeover.  What was the RNC thinking about?  The Palins are from Alaska and so they need to dress more like the lower forty-eight?  They look too much like hicks?  Wasn’t the sales pitch that they are an ordinary working family?  I guess they didn’t have any clothes except from Wal Mart or Target.  According to the New York Times, the same Republican consultant, Jeff Larson, not only shops, but does robocalls.

Which leads to the robocalls that are being made in the battleground states including the terrorist accusation  and now Rudy Guiliani is making them in Virginia.  According to MSNBC’s First Read, there is a new

…Giuliani robo-call (audio here) that accuses Obama of not being for “mandatory prison sentences for sex offenders, drug dealers, and murderers.” Readers told the blogs it is making the rounds in at least Minnesota and Colorado.  

There are a lot of judges and people in criminal justice that also think that mandatory sentencing doesn’t work.  They think there should be more ability to take the circumstances into account. I don’t think this is a partisan issue.  Like the Ayres accusation, it is full of half truths and not worthy of Mr. 911.

A few days also I wrote a post “First take on Colin Powell” in which I said I was particularly impressed about Powell’s comments on Muslims in America.  Today, Maureen Dowd has a wonderful column on the same subject.

Great season, Sox! Go Phillies.

The Red Sox didn’t quite have it this year.  Too many injuries for one thing.  Papi, Lowell, Beckett in particular.  I’m happy they made it to the play-offs this year. As Bob Ryan writes in the Boston Globe,

The sum and substance of it all is that this new era of Red Sox success is ongoing. This team took a lot of hits this year and still came within a game of the World Series. No team has accomplished more in this new century.

Having grown up in the Philadelphia part of New Jersey, I grew up watching the Phillies on TV.  I was a Phillies fan except when they played the Brooklyn Dodgers.  (one of my first loves was Sandy Koufax.) The first live game I went to was a Phillies Double Header with my father.  So I’m with Joe Biden.  Go Phillies!

First take on Colin Powell

So just over two weeks to go.  Newpaper endorsements are going Obama’s way.  His campaign got $150 Million in contributions in September.  The polls are tightening.  If you are a Democrat or an Obama supporter from any party, it is as I wrote a few days ago, time to be anxious.

The big, big, endorsement was from Colin Powell.  Thoughtful and reasoned, General Powell made points about the Republican campaign, Bill Ayres, and accusations that Barak Obama is Muslim.  Powell is the first person I’ve heard say basically, “So what if he were Muslim?”  The story he told about the mother at her son’s grave with the Star and Crescent was very moving.  I also liked his comment on the 7 year old Muslim child who wants to grow up to be President.

Here, in case you haven’t seen it is the Meet the Press link.

I know that some who are against the war will not think highly of this endorsement because of General Powell’s presentation at the United Nations about weapons of mass destruction.  To me the endorsement is almost as important for Powell as a war to rehabilitate his own reputation.

Two Reasons to be Anxious

I’m feeling a little anxious this Saturday morning.  If you’ve visited before you may notice I’ve changed the look.  Surfing around the various themes is a little like what I should be doing – some house cleaning – keeps one occupied so you don’t have to think about the Red Sox and the election.  But now that I’ve finished fiddling, I’m back to worrying.

As Andrew Ryan writes in today’s Boston Globe

The same hopeless grief gripped viewers in couches across New England, where fans gave up on their Red Sox, turned off televisions in disgust, and tromped off to bed.

That was me turning off the radio in the 5th.  Then listening to the news before getting out of bed, I heard they had won.  So now instead of being resigned to not making the World Series this year,  Red Sox fans need to live though at least one more game.  Opinion among the sports fans I know is divided:  Some think the inevitable was just put off, while others think the young Rays will not react well to the improbable loss.

And then there is the election.  I was happy to see that the Obama campaign is actually fighting back on the voter suppression issue before the election.  I worry that the Republicans will manage to steal this election as they did in 2000 and 2004.  I keep my fingers crossed that the smears of the McCain campaign will not work.  How can he have enough nerve to say during the debate that he doesn’t care about Bill Ayres and tell people at his rallies that Obama is not a terrorist and then run the robo-calls implying that his is?

Mike Memoli wrote on MSNBC’s First Read  about Joe Biden’s speech in New Mexico yesterday,

“Folks, it doesn’t matter where you live, we all love this country,” he said. “One of the reasons why Barack and I are running is that we know how damaging the politics of division that continues to be practiced by the McCain campaign, how damaging this policy of division has been for Americans over the last decade or more.”

Raising his voice, Biden said Americans “are all patriotic, we all love our country.” He added, “And I’m tired. I’m tired, tired, tired, tired of the implications about patriotism.”

Biden was referring to Palin’s comments last night in North Carolina, where she celebrated campaigning in “pro-America” areas of the country. (That remark prompted the Obama campaign to ask: Which parts of the country aren’t pro-America?)

I’m looking forward to what the Obama campaign will do with the half hour on the 29th – and to Colin Powell’s possible endorsement tomorrow.

Anger: Can it win the election?

I think John McCain was projecting his own anger at the debate when he kept saying that Americans are angry.  I don’t think we are angry but we are frightened and anxious.  Harold Meyerson writing in the Washington Post called McCain an angry white man.

I thought for a while that McCain was going to trounce Obama with Joe the Plumber, but then he got angry and millions heard the names of the others that also served on the Community board with Barak and Bill Ayres.  And then when John McCain dismissed concern over the life of the mother and the protections that were being sought for her, I knew that he had lost the Clinton supporters who were still insisting they were voting for McCain.

I can’t really understand why McCain is behaving in what for him seems to be such an unnatural way.  If you look at his performanace on Letterman or clips of him at the Al Smith Dinner, he is quite funny.  But that’s not what you see on the campaign trail.  Obama, on the other hand, was self-deprecating and also funny at the dinner before moving into great remarks about the importance of service.  One gets the feeling that Obama knows who he is and is comfortable “in his own skin” as the saying goes.

In the end, I don’t think the anger does anyone any good.

Batman and Penguin Debate – my pre-debate comment

The Nation introducing this video writes

In preparation for this week’s debate The American Prospect‘s Ezra Klein put up a terrific debate night video clip on his blog. Striking similarities abound between McCain’s rhetoric about Obama’s “ties” to domestic terrorists, and the Penguin’s defamatory statements about Batman on the clip. As Klein put it in his blog, McCain could take a few pointers…

This is really funny.  And Obermann is now playing it on Countdown.  Saying it is the debate pre-recorded.

Donkeys, Elephants and your money

I’m  still struggling to understand basic economics, but the New York Times had an op-ed chart today which was very revealing:

Since 1929, Republicans and Democrats have each controlled the presidency for nearly 40 years. So which party has been better for American pocketbooks and capitalism as a whole? Well, here’s an experiment: imagine that during these years you had to invest exclusively under either Democratic or Republican administrations. How would you have fared?

As of Friday, a $10,000 investment in the S.& P. stock market index* would have grown to $11,733 if invested under Republican presidents only, although that would be $51,211 if we exclude Herbert Hoover’s presidency during the Great Depression. Invested under Democratic presidents only, $10,000 would have grown to $300,671 at a compound rate of 8.9 percent over nearly 40 years.

See the graphics here.  The author, Tommy McCall, used to work for Money  Magazine.

So who has the better economic ideas?  Can it just be an accident that the Democrats do better even forgetting about poor Herbert Hoover?  I somehow don’t think so.  I think this means that a vote for Barak Obama is a good idea.  I’m starting to look at quarterly statements and see retirement fading off into the distance.

On a totally personal note, I had the closest brush with fire this afternoon that I’ve ever had in my 60+ years.  The house next door – separated by a narrow grassy area and a tree – caught fire this afternoon.  I had been at a conference and after a late afternoon meeting was cancelled decided to just drive home and stay there taking a personal hour.  Suddenly the doorbells to the house starting ringing frantically.  It was a neighbor trying to find someone to call 911.  There were flames shooring out of the roof of the house next door.   We rounded up our four cats and put them in carriers.  I found our passports and then went out into the park across the street to watch.  I have to say the Boston Fire Department was pretty amazing.  They wet down our house, the house on the other side which was attached to the one on fire and put out the active fire.  It took a suprisingly long time as they had to tear the parts of the neighboring roof and attic area apart to find all the fire.  I think they considered this pretty minor and routine, but I certainly didn’t.  I couldn’t even count the fire trucks on our little one-way street – 7, I think.  So three families are temporarily homeless…  The whole thing was really, really scary.

Columbus Day Musings

The economic crisis is driving the election and Paul Krugman, a self-labled Liberal, has won the Nobel Prize. Is this an omen?  Slate Magazine has just republished a old column of his which explains liquidity in terms that even I can understand.

John McCain was supposed to deliver a new economic plan today, but instead decided to talk about how

“We have 22 days to go,’’ he said. “We’re six points down. The national media has written us off.’’ (At this the crowd booed loudly.) “Senator Obama is measuring the drapes, and planning with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid to raise taxes, increase spending, take away your right to vote by secret ballot in labor elections, and concede defeat in Iraq.’’

In a stump speech notable for large paragraphs of pessimism, Mr. McCain said: “These are hard times, my friend. Our economy is in crisis. Financial markets are collapsing. Credit is drying up. Your savings are in danger and your retirement is at risk. Jobs are disappearing. The cost of health care, your children’s college, gasoline and groceries are rising all the time, with no end in sight, while your most important asset — your home — is losing value every day.’’

Mr. McCain then said that he, not Senator Barack Obama, had the experience to turn the crisis around.

He offered no specifics, but at least he didn’t mention Bill Ayres and blame him for the economic crisis

Meanwhile Obama was giving a speech in Toledo, Ohio (the home town of the character, Klinger, from MASH) with a detailed plan of what happens next – after the rescue plan is implemented. 

Senator Barack Obama on Monday expanded his economic platform, including proposals to spur new jobs, to give Americans penalty-free access to retirement savings to help them through the downturn, to urge a 90-day moratorium on home foreclosures and to lend money to strapped local and state governments.

During his remarks here, Mr. Obama gently scolded all Americans for “living beyond their means — from Wall Street to Washington to even some on Main Street.” His audience of supporters applauded as he said it was a moment in the nation’s history to pull together and sacrifice.

(The McCain and Obama quotes are all from the New York Times)

So the big questions remain:  Can McCain once again be the Comeback Kid?  What role will race play?  Will the debate on Wednesday night make the race closer or seal McCain’s fate?