Saturday, October 18, 2008

Attacks ain't working

I have found it very interesting that the guy everyone labeled as media savvy and in touch has had such a tin ear in this election cycle. McCain was able to say the right things to the right crowds in the Republican primaries. I suspect that is mostly because the Obama-Clinton race sucked all the air out of the room and few Independents crossed into the GOP race in states where that was available to them. The McCain campaign seems to not have realized this and as a result really never tacked back to center after. They went to the base pick for VP and while Sarah Palin has energized Republicans it has hurt McCain among Independents and conservative (potential) crossover Democrats. It is odd and conspicuously amateur to concede the center in a national political campaign. Particular when two of the three legs of the Republican base were already lukewarm on the idea of a McCain presidency.

McCain desperately wanted to run on heroism, honor and steady experience but it was a flawed plan from the get-go. I disagree that this is a change election and that experience was never going to win out. You can't simultaneously want to be the experienced candidate and then bash the system within which you got your experience. It reminds me of a card that my mother go my father for his birthday one year. It had a picture of a birthday cake and a woman in a bikini. On the outside it said: "This is Edith and a cake." On the inside it said: " You can't have your cake and Edith too." By trying to have it both ways, McCain has invited the idea that he is erratic.

McCain's "maverick" persona didn't help either. The fact that he has been unpredictable his entire career looked fresh and independent until it became clear that with the exception of foreign policy he really isn't that well versed on the issues. I think the fact that he has been able to work at issues from different perspectives is because he lacks the wisdom and intelligence to ask penetrating questions and base decisions on logic or reason. Instead McCain shoots from the hip and it makes him dead wrong a lot. It also means that he is right some time. McCain is right, the surge has worked from a military perspective but his lack of nuance makes it abundantly clear that he just doesn't get it that the point was to succeed militarily so the Iraqi's could succeed politically. That just has not happened. Obama may be unable to acknowledge the the military tactic of the surge succeeded, but McCain is equally unable to acknowledge that the surge failed politically.

So now we are left with an attack on personality and it just isn't connecting. Once again, McCain doesn't get it. The American people don't believe him on Ayers and ACORN. They see Obama in debates, hear his steady voice on the economy and the fact that he is utterly unflappable and they are genuinely impressed. McCain is right; if Obama wins, sunlight will not suddenly shining out of his backside. But, as the Chicago Tribune said in their endorsement, Obama "has the intelligence to understand the grave economic and national security risks that face us, to listen to good advice and make careful decisions."

The NY Times poll on negative attacks showed that they are hurting McCain. Here is the chart:

That ain't nothing. Being bi-partisan is often confused with abandoning your ideological bearings. That is wrongheaded and ultimately very unappealing in a leader. I think Americans want a leader who holds his ideological beliefs as sacred but isn't stubborn and can work with people who think differently. McCain has shown that ability, but his lack of command of the fundamentals on major issues is a problem I believe he would listen to a bunch of experts that hold different positions on an issue, like economics, and he would be paralyzed by the lack of consensus. Obama has the ability to listen to a bunch of people who differ, ask hard questions on issues that he is not an expert in and build consensus. We need conservative and liberal voices. They all need to be heard. But we then need a President that focuses that energy. That is leadership. That is what America needs.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Da Bears!!!

The Chicago Tribune is on board the Barry Express as well! It isn’t everyday that a conservative paper (which I tend to enjoy picking up as I pass through O’Hare International Airport in Chicago) endorses a liberal Democrat. That is the nature of the world we live in. In their endorsement they said:

“We can provide some assurance. We have known Obama since he entered politics a dozen years ago. We have watched him, worked with him, argued with him as he rose from an effective state senator to an inspiring U.S. senator to the Democratic Party's nominee for president.

“We have tremendous confidence in his intellectual rigor, his moral compass and his ability to make sound, thoughtful, careful decisions. He is ready.”

They don’t really need to say any more than that, do they?

But they do! They also say:

“Obama envisions a change in the way we deal with one another in politics and government. His opponents may say this is empty, abstract rhetoric. In fact, it is hard to imagine how we are going to deal with the grave domestic and foreign crises we face without an end to the savagery and a return to civility in politics.”

“We do, though, think Obama would govern as much more of a pragmatic centrist than many people expect.

“We know first-hand that Obama seeks out and listens carefully and respectfully to people who disagree with him. He builds consensus.”

“When Obama said at the 2004 Democratic Convention that we weren't a nation of red states and blue states, he spoke of union the way Abraham Lincoln did.”

“It may have seemed audacious for Obama to start his campaign in Springfield, invoking Lincoln. We think, given the opportunity to hold this nation's most powerful office, he will prove it wasn't so audacious after all. We are proud to add Barack Obama's name to Lincoln's in the list of people the Tribune has endorsed for president of the United States.”

Very powerful indeed. This type of faith in the “better angels of our nature” is very Lincolnesque indeed!

LAT weighs in...

The Los Angeles Times has weighed in. They have endorsed Barack Obama for President, saying:

“The excitement of Obama's early campaign was amplified by that newness. But as the presidential race draws to its conclusion, it is Obama's character and temperament that come to the fore. It is his steadiness. His maturity.”

“…the presidential campaign has rendered McCain nearly unrecognizable. His selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate was, as a short-term political tactic, brilliant. It was also irresponsible, as Palin is the most unqualified vice presidential nominee of a major party in living memory.”

“Obama's selection also was telling. He might have scored a steeper bump in the polls by making a more dramatic choice than the capable and experienced Joe Biden. But for all the excitement of his own candidacy, Obama has offered more competence than drama.”

“We may one day look back on this presidential campaign in wonder. We may marvel that Obama's critics called him an elitist, as if an Ivy League education were a source of embarrassment, and belittled his eloquence, as if a gift with words were suddenly a defect. In fact, Obama is educated and eloquent, sober and exciting, steady and mature. He represents the nation as it is, and as it aspires to be.”

Nicely said from a newspaper that has gone from “world class” to “world class joke” in a decade. Maybe the LA Times is turning things around. One can always hope. It could not get much worse.

Up and running on the run!

A new wrinkle for the Freak is the ability to post to the blog on the fly. I have lots to say and no time to type it. I owe a piece on the two campaign economic plans that came out this week vs. what the Bush administration for been proposing. I will get to that over the weekend.

I am sorry to say, but the Freak has been on something of a macroeconomic jaunt of late. That will probably taint the blog to some extent.

Lastly, the debates are over and I have only one observation. Why can't McCain complete sentences before moving on to his next talking point. His lack of ease makes it clear that he has memorized talking points and has no command of economic principles. Very unimpressive. Obama didn't say much, but he didn't have to. Why paint yourself into a corner with one specific plan when your opponent is content to beat himself?

This is all for now!

Freak... ...out!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Obama's Economic Plan for the Mortgage/Credit Crisis

Here is an overview of the Obama Plan.  I will have comment in the coming days.  I addition, I will post John McCain's plan when they release it.

Job Creation: A New American Jobs Tax Credit. Obama is calling for a temporary tax credit for firms that create new jobs in the United States over the next two years. 

Relief to Families: Penalty-Free Withdrawals from IRAs and 401(k)s in 2008 and 2009. Obama is calling for new legislation to allow families to withdraw 15% of their retirement savings – up to a maximum of $10,000 – without facing a tax-penalty this year (including retroactively) and next year.  

Relief to Homeowners: 90 day foreclosure moratorium for homeowners that are acting in good faith. Financial institutions that participate in the Treasury’s financial rescue plan should be required to adhere to a homeowners code of conduct, including a 90-day foreclosure moratorium for any homeowners living in their homes that are making good faith efforts pay their mortgages.

Responding to the Financial Crisis: A Lending Facility to Address the Credit Crisis for States and Localities. Obama is calling on the Federal Reserve and the Treasury to work to establish a facility to lend to state and municipal governments, similar to the steps the Fed recently took to provide liquidity to the commercial paper market.

The sun!

Some cool pictures of the sun...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Oh Yes We Can!


Sarah Silverman... on the nose!

False hope?

"We've been asked to pause for a reality check. We've been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope. But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope." - Senator Barack Obama

Yes We Can! - a reminder...

Sometimes it is important to remember what we are all talking about. It is important to remember what is at stake and that words do, in fact, matter very much! Hope and Changes may be jokes to the chorus of Republican screaming faces as they cower in a corner knowing that their days in power are numbered.

Barack Obama’s New Hampshire Primary Speech

The following is a transcript of Senator Barack Obama's speech to supporters after the New Hampshire primary, as provided by CQ Transcriptions via The Associated Press.

BARACK OBAMA: Thank you, New Hampshire. I love you back. Thank you. Thank you.

Well, thank you so much. I am still fired up and ready to go. (APPLAUSE)

Thank you. Thank you.

Well, first of all, I want to congratulate Senator Clinton on a hard-fought victory here in New Hampshire. She did an outstanding job. Give her a big round of applause.


You know, a few weeks ago, no one imagined that we'd have accomplished what we did here tonight in New Hampshire. No one could have imagined it.

For most of this campaign, we were far behind. We always knew our climb would be steep. But in record numbers, you came out, and you spoke up for change.

And with your voices and your votes, you made it clear that at this moment, in this election, there is something happening in America.


There is something happening when men and women in Des Moines and Davenport, in Lebanon and Concord, come out in the snows of January to wait in lines that stretch block after block because they believe in what this country can be.

There is something happening. There's something happening when Americans who are young in age and in spirit, who've never participated in politics before, turn out in numbers we have never seen because they know in their hearts that this time must be different.

There's something happening when people vote not just for party that they belong to, but the hopes that they hold in common.

And whether we are rich or poor, black or white, Latino or Asian, whether we hail from Iowa or New Hampshire, Nevada or South Carolina, we are ready to take this country in a fundamentally new direction.

That's what's happening in America right now; change is what's happening in America.

You, all of you who are here tonight, all who put so much heart and soul and work into this campaign, you can be the new majority who can lead this nation out of a long political darkness.

Democrats, independents and Republicans who are tired of the division and distraction that has clouded Washington, who know that we can disagree without being disagreeable, who understand that, if we mobilize our voices to challenge the money and influence that stood in our way and challenge ourselves to reach for something better, there is no problem we cannot solve, there is no destiny that we cannot fulfill. Our new American majority can end the outrage of unaffordable, unavailable health care in our time. We can bring doctors and patients, workers and businesses, Democrats and Republicans together, and we can tell the drug and insurance industry that, while they get a seat at the table, they don't get to buy every chair, not this time, not now.


Our new majority can end the tax breaks for corporations that ship our jobs overseas and put a middle-class tax cut in the pockets of working Americans who deserve it.

We can stop sending our children to schools with corridors of shame and start putting them on a pathway to success.

We can stop talking about how great teachers are and start rewarding them for their greatness by giving them more pay and more support. We can do this with our new majority.

We can harness the ingenuity of farmers and scientists, citizens and entrepreneurs to free this nation from the tyranny of oil and save our planet from a point of no return.

And when I am president of the United States, we will end this war in Iraq and bring our troops home.


We will end this war in Iraq. We will bring our troops home. We will finish the job -- we will finish the job against Al Qaida in Afghanistan. We will care for our veterans. We will restore our moral standing in the world.

And we will never use 9/11 as a way to scare up votes, because it is not a tactic to win an election. It is a challenge that should unite America and the world against the common threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear weapons, climate change and poverty, genocide and disease.

All of the candidates in this race share these goals. All of the candidates in this race have good ideas and all are patriots who serve this country honorably.


But the reason our campaign has always been different, the reason we began this improbable journey almost a year ago is because it's not just about what I will do as president. It is also about what you, the people who love this country, the citizens of the United States of America, can do to change it.

That's what this election is all about.

That's why tonight belongs to you. It belongs to the organizers, and the volunteers, and the staff who believed in this journey and rallied so many others to join the cause.

We know the battle ahead will be long. But always remember that, no matter what obstacles stand in our way, nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change.

We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics. And they will only grow louder and more dissonant in the weeks and months to come.

We've been asked to pause for a reality check. We've been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope. But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.


For when we have faced down impossible odds, when we've been told we're not ready or that we shouldn't try or that we can't, generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can. Yes, we can. Yes, we can.

It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation: Yes, we can.

It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail towards freedom through the darkest of nights: Yes, we can.

It was sung by immigrants as they struck out from distant shores and pioneers who pushed westward against an unforgiving wilderness: Yes, we can.

It was the call of workers who organized, women who reached for the ballot, a president who chose the moon as our new frontier, and a king who took us to the mountaintop and pointed the way to the promised land: Yes, we can, to justice and equality.

Yes, we can, to opportunity and prosperity. Yes, we can heal this nation. Yes, we can repair this world. Yes, we can.

And so, tomorrow, as we take the campaign south and west, as we learn that the struggles of the textile workers in Spartanburg are not so different than the plight of the dishwasher in Las Vegas, that the hopes of the little girl who goes to the crumbling school in Dillon are the same as the dreams of the boy who learns on the streets of L.A., we will remember that there is something happening in America, that we are not as divided as our politics suggest, that we are one people, we are one nation.

And, together, we will begin the next great chapter in the American story, with three words that will ring from coast to coast, from sea to shining sea: Yes, we can.

Thank you, New Hampshire. Thank you. Thank you.