Leadership (OR Asking the wrong questions)

October 26, 2008

Do you remember those goofy McCain ads that would end by asking whether Sen. Obama was ready to lead?

I always thought that question was a little odd, since Sen. McCain doesn’t necessarily posess any demonstrable leadership experience. At the same time, Sen. Obama was at the head of a campaign that was being hailed as the largest, most impressive, expansive, organized campaign ever. And, as much as it was disparaged, Sen. Obama’s ability to “give a good speech” motivated thousand of volunteers throughout the country, and hundreds of thousands to attend his rallies, and millions to donate to his campaign. Isn’t all of this indicative of Sen. Obama’s leadership qualities?

Why do I bring this up?

Because, in contrast to the Obama campaign, which seems a clear demonstration of Sen. Obama’s leadership, the McCain campaign, is imploding:

“She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone,” said this McCain adviser. “She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else.

“Also, she is playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party. Remember: Divas trust only unto themselves, as they see themselves as the beginning and end of all wisdom.”

Marc Ambinder adds:

Another senior McCain at e-mailed: “It is beyond disappointing to see the backstabbing and blame game beginning ten days before the election.  There is still a path to victory for us and we have two great candidates who are working their asses off every day in pursuit of a win.”

This doesn’t strike me as an organization that is being well led. This seems like a reflection of an organization led by a an inconsistent, irrational, selfish man.

So, is Sen. McCain ready to lead?

Similar Pictures (OR Visual Confirmation of Suckiness)

October 22, 2008

As I indicated in my last post, there seems to be a whole bunch of stuff going on. I’m just too busy to actually relay or think about much of it…  Instead, I’ll give you some graphs to admire.

Why these graphs? Well, I think most of them convey facts and tidbits worth knowing…  and because I was struck by how similar they look.

Lacking a thread to tie them together, I’ll go In chronological order:

First, Matt references a graph from Kevin Drum, and then goes on to make a point that I made to Dave last week: “Wages for average people are, on some level, the real fundamentals of the economy. And simply put, they haven’t been growing.” This is something I’ve written about before. Anyway, here’s a picture:

Matt follows that up with an eerily similar graph from Hilzoy:

Does it strike anyone as odd that both graphs have the same general shape, and cover the same general timeframe? No, I didn’t figure it would…

Then, from the Wonk Room at ThinkProgress, comes this comparative graph:

So, the light blue line is analogous to the time frame in the first two graphs. Not only did the median wage decrease in that time (which is, oddly enough, coincident with Bush Administration), but there was also a lower percentage of the working age population with jobs. Take a glance at the first graph again. GDP growth is through the roof, but not only was the median worker not seeing any of it, there were fewer workers as a percentage of population.

Now, someone tell me why Sen. McCain (and his apparently blindly loyal followers) think “spreading the weath” is a bad thing? We’ve seen 8 years of not spreading the wealth, and if these graphs are to be believed, just about all of us are getting screwed.

Tired (OR Just hang on…)

October 5, 2008

I’ve found it difficult to find the motivation to post here lately. It’s certainly been difficult to get my brain to shift from overactive geek mode (thanks to some time consuming, but exciting, stuff at work…  and some at home geekery that I’ll be telling you all about shortly) to political commentary mode. But it’s not just that…

Every day that goes by, I have a harder and harder time imagining two things:

1) How anyone could still be undecided in this presidential campaign? Seriously, these two candidates are, to me, so far apart on just about any spectrum that I can’t envision a place in the middle where someone could reside. Sen. Obama is probably a bit more liberal than Pres. Clinton was, and Sen. McCain seems more conservative than Pres. Bush. Sen. Obama is young, inspirational, rational, and intellectual. Sen. McCain is old, cranky, irrational, and stubborn. What does this place where undecided voters reside look like?

2) How can anyone vote for Sen. McCain? Every thing he and his campaign do seem geared towards getting elected. Obvious, right? But listen to the candidates…  Sen. Obama spends lots of time talking about what he would do, and how he would act, were he president. Sen. McCain spends lots of time talking about why you should elect him (“Sen. Obama doesn’t understand” … “Sen. Obama is un-American” …  “I’m a maverick”). It seems like Sen. McCain’s goal is to be elected president. Sen. Obama’s, in contrast, is to be what he considers a good president. Beyond that, I just don’t understand how anyone (other than, perhaps, the 5% of America earning more that $250,000 a year) can believe that Sen. McCain’s policies are in their best interests. Want to lose your health care? Want to continue to encourage the continued destructive use of fossil fuels? Want to see even more government protections and personal freedoms destroyed? Want to further damage our already significantly tarnished image throughout the world? Want to place our nation at further risk by fostering a fertile recruiting ground for our enemies? Vote for McCain.

I feel like I’m torn between wanting to believe that the Obama campaign is right, that Americans are smarter than the McCain campaign seems to believe, and feeling like Bill Maher is right: Americans are dumb.

Still, even if I’m not sure that Maher is right in that case, he is right that we get the government we deserve.

I think it’s time to hope that we realize we deserve better.

Tax Plans (OR The Devil in the Details)

September 20, 2008

Via Ezra comes this nifty little page that will estimate tax changes based on income tiers. I’d seen this before, but didn’t look that closely. At first glance, it’s about what you’d expect at each tier. When you compare tiers, though, the inequity is painfully clear.

For a single filer, no dependants, Sen. McCain won’t offer a tax break larger than $100 until you make $100,000, where Sen. Obama will offer 7 to 8 times that for people making 10 time less.

For those people making $10,000 to $15,000, Sen. McCain offers less than $20 off their current taxes. Twenty dollars! That’s one dinner at Applebee’s a year. Sen. Obama’s $700-$800 could pay for a couple months of rent.

On the other hand, Sen. McCain’s plan seems to encourage lots of kids for middle income families:

Married, two earners, no dependents, $50,000: -$40
Married, two earners, 2 dependents, $50,000: -$760

I could go on, but you get the picture. If you have some time, play around a bit…

Maddow (OR Yay! Liberals on TV)

September 16, 2008

I just wanted to take a moment and say how much I’m enjoying being able watch Rachel Maddow. There was a while there where I’d hope she’d appear on Olbermann’s show so I could catch 3 minutes of her insight.

Now, I get to watch her show 5 nights a week (‘cuz MSNBC doesn’t provide a podcast).

Lately, she’s been doing an excellent job of focusing on Gov. Palin’s alleged abuse of power in Alaska. There are, of course, many other place to find information on the details, bt I think it’s important to remember something:

The only reason this is a national story is because a political hack, who happens to be running for President, looking for a running mate about whom his “base” can get excited, decided to pick an untested, unvetted, Governor.

Is Gov. Palin facing the music? Potentially. But that’s really not the story. The story is that Sen. McCain selected a running mate with this sort potential scandal hanging over her head.

These needs to come back to bite Sen. McCain in the ass.

“Strong” (OR How can you vote for this guy?)

September 15, 2008

In case you missed the headlines today:

In one of the most dramatic days in Wall Street’s history, Merrill Lynch agreed to sell itself on Sunday to Bank of America for roughly $50 billion to avert a deepening financial crisis, while another prominent securities firm, Lehman Brothers, filed for bankruptcy protection and hurtled toward liquidation after it failed to find a buyer.

Robert Reich:

Ironically, a free-market-loving Republican administration is presiding over the most ambitious intrusion of government into the market in almost anyone’s memory. But to what end? Bailouts, subsidies, and government insurance won’t help Wall Street because the Street’s fundamental problem isn’t lack of capital. It’s lack of trust.

The sub-prime mortgage mess triggered it, but the problem lies much deeper. Financial markets trade in promises — that assets have a certain value, that numbers on a balance sheet are accurate, that a loan carries a limited risk. If investors stop trusting the promises, Wall Street can’t function.

Paul Krugman:

The stock market isn’t doing as badly as one might have feared — although it’s just broken below Dow 11,000 as I write. But Felix Salmon suggests that we look at my old standby, the TED spread, shown above — and it’s looking kinda spiky. All in all, way too soon to conclude that we won this game of Russian roulette.

Holy um, stuff! I go out to get a cup of tea and suddenly it’s Black Monday.

Sen. John McCain:

I think still — the fundamentals of our economy are strong.

Sure Fire Win (OR Campaign Ploys Are Fun)

September 10, 2008

I saw this wacky claim from Sen. McCain that he knows how to capture/kill Osama bin Laden. I almost immediately dismissed it as another campaign ploy.

Keith Olbermann, in his Special Comment tonight, tore into Sen. McCain for not sharing his method/knowledge/etc now and using it to “blackmail” the electorate.

Somewhere in there, it occured to me that if Sen. McCain did have a surefire way to capture/kill bin Laden and he wanted to win the election (which seems pretty safe to say), he would find a way to initiate the capture/kill and take credit for it. Seriously, if he could do it, and do it in such a way that there was no, or little, doubt that he was responsible, he would win this election.

So, if Sen. McCain is saying he can, but he isn’t, then he really can’t.