Friday, October 31, 2008

End Game Campaigning, The Terminator Assists McCain, African Americans Worried About Their Vote, And Obama's Presidential Priorities

Hi everybody. The show seems to be coming at us tonight from somewhere that is not New York. Given the bad makeup and lighting Anderson Cooper is suffering right now, I'd guess Los Angeles. There's a history. But hey man, I'm not knocking the LA peeps. They're used to trying to make Larry King look presentable. They spend so much time making the dead look alive, I guess it's only natural that they would accidentally make the alive look a tad dead. But, I mean, it's Anderson, so even the dead look is rather adorable. Plus, it's Halloween! Hey, can you tell that I'm totally sick of talking about this election?

We're in the end-stretch now, people. How do I know? Because CNN has a clock counting down to the election. Although, I can't say that this actually signifies anything monumental. After all, they had the same thing for their interview with Paris Hilton. So, you know, make with that what you will. Candy Crowley has the first piece of the night, bringing us the news from camp Obama. The massive number of people early voting has left them a wee bit confident, though they're still pushing back against complacency. Oh, and like always, Candy calls my state Missourah. So, you know, grrr.

For the news from the "maverick" side of the trail, we next have a piece from Ed Henry. It seems McCain has a new campaigning friend. And no, thank God, it is not Joe the Plumber. On a break from protecting John Connor, Arnold Schwarzenegger regaled rally-goers with shots aimed at Obama's apparent subpar extremities. He thinks the candidate needs to beef up his "skinny legs" and "scrawny arms." Yeah, because for me, muscle bulk is at the top of my list when voting for a president. Pretty lame, but hey, at least he didn't imply he was a radical Muslim terrorist-sympathizer. So really, for this campaign, today was a step up.

Anderson, Candy, and Ed then do some discussing, but meh. Not interested. On to John King and his Magic Map, where we learn that North Dakota has just been made a toss-up. Ooh. And now Arizona is only leaning McCain instead of being solidly on his side. Having to defend your home state is pretty sad. As for things in my neck of the woods in the Show Me State, it's a dead heat. For some (very recent) historical perspective, the 2006 senate race was like that until the very end too. The Democrat won.

Our inevitable strategy session tonight consists of David Gergen, Alex Castellanos, and Roland Martin. Anderson is discombobulated over all the differing poll results, proclaiming he has no confidence in them. Me neither, though that probably goes back to my continuous feeling of dread that any second now the other shoe is going to drop and McCain will be appointed emperor. Roland also isn't really feeling the polls and stresses the GOTV effort, noting that he's talked to P. Diddy, Beyonce, Jay-Z, and Spike Lee about their help in the matter. Didn't P. Diddy, like, threaten to kill all the non-voters last time? He totally didn't follow through with that.

Anderson brings up the Bradley effect and The Gerg points out that he's been voicing concerns about that since the beginning (Tis true, I remember), but actually he's seeing evidence that the effect might be going by the wayside. There's increased black turnout and there very well may be a sort of revered Bradley effect with young voters. Let's hope so. The conversation then moves to the subject of attacks and Alex brings up the redistribution of wealth crap, saying Obama's comment gave McCain an opening. "But, in all fairness, it was a one-line comment to a guy on a rope line," says Anderson. Whoa, a challenge. A baby-step challenge, but hey, beggars can't be choosers. Good job, Anderson. Roland is given the floor to respond: "I mean, I guess one of the things that jumps out is, that's also what happens when you give folks the tax cuts, where those of us who make less got to pay more. The fat cats, they get to keep more money." Yup.

Moving on now to an Oprah clip--yes, I said Oprah--in which the talk show host relays her panic-inducing electronic voting experience. It seems that when she checked over her ballot at the end, she discovered it hadn't registered her vote for president, causing an Oprah freak out. Yeah, that would freak me out too. Always go over your ballot, people! Also? I love how, even though this is happening to lots of people all over the country, it's not news until it happens to Oprah.

We then transition quite nicely into a Randi Kaye piece on the fear plaguing black people that their vote won't be counted. And given, you know, history, I'd say it's not exactly unwarranted. Some have refused to vote early because they think that ups the ante when it comes to dirty tricks possibilities. And their fears don't stop even if the election comes out in Obama's favor. Then they're afraid someone will kill him. This piece didn't need to be African American-centric. I'm white and I'm totally freaked out about all that stuff too.

Bouncing back to the panel now, and Alex has been swapped out for Al Sharpton. The Reverend tells us that he's actually seeing more hope in the black community than he is fear. Roland agrees. Then the Gerg talks about how historic an Obama win would be. There will probably always be some racism in this country, but if Obama wins and then goes on to have a successful presidency . . . he could change everything.

Moving on now to a clip of Wolf Blitzer interviewing Obama. How come Anderson never does these kind of interviews anymore? Anyway, in the clip we get a taste of Obama's top priorities, which are as follows and in order: stabilizing the financial system, energy independence, health care, tax cuts (which might be implemented during priority number one), and education. Um, yes please. Is it 2009 yet?

The Shot tonight is pumpkin carvings of the candidates and then one of Anderson. "That'll scare away children," says our anchor. Whatever. He knows that even the kiddies love him. Anyhoo, Anderson asks Erica Hill if she's going to dress up and she informs us her plans include going home and going to bed. Man, they're a bunch of party poopers. Speaking of that, no webcast tonight? I realize that Anderson isn't even there, but what a let down. I was hoping to see Kevin rocking his David Gergen costume. Oh wells. The Halloween blog posts were cute though. Keeping with the holiday spirit, I leave you a little video. The quality isn't great, but I still think it's the best one:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

McCain Defending His Home State, Joe The Unlicensed Plumber Going Way Over His 15 Minutes, Obama Speaks At Mizzou, And . . . Then Eliza Loses Interest

Hi everybody. We kick things off with a live picture of the University of Missouri in Columbia, or Mizzou, as we call it, which is where Obama will be speaking shortly. For right now though, we're moving into a Candy Crowley piece that informs us Obama is on the offense in Republican counties. The "maverick" could be losing ground all over. Even his home state of Arizona is starting to look up for grabs, which actually had me feeling generally sorry for him. Of course, I got over the feeling really quick after I learned McCain is defending his territory the only way he knows how: negative robocalls--this time fearmongering with Rezko.

Also? McCain still seems to be under the impression that we give a crap about Joe the Unlicensed Plumber, who was the subject of a big whoopsie out on the trail today. McCain gets stood up and it's his own campaign's fault. Damn. That's embarrassing. After Candy's piece, Anderson Cooper notes that Joe is telling people he's voting for McCain, a "real American," which obviously implies Obama is not a real American (it also obviously implies that Joe is a dick). He wonders if the McCain camp has any control over what the unlicensed plumber is spouting. "No, I don't think anybody has any control over Joe the plumber, and that's pretty much the beauty of him, I think," says Candy.

I beg to differ about that last part, but I think she's right on the money with her "no." I mean, even Shepherd Smith of Fox News is boggled by this guy. Anderson then brings up the fact that Joe now has an agent and a publicist. No, he's not kidding. And if you go to that link, you'll see he also now has a record deal. I'll just pause the review until after you stop screaming.

Transitioning now to John King at his Magic Map and it looks like Nevada is starting to trend blue. Woo hoo! It's a dead heat in Ohio. John tells us it will be a big challenge for McCain to win, but it's doable. It's not over till it's over, people.

Coming back from commercial, we get played a clip of our favorite unlicensed plumber and Anderson tells us he was actually scheduled to be on Larry King, but canceled. This causes me to burst out laughing, because, Anderson is making a funny, right? I mean, the dude was not seriously booked on Larry King, right? But then Anderson says this: "One out of three is not a good track record for a guy who supposedly makes his living by showing up to appointments." Oh holy hell, I think he's serious. Good lord, this election has driven us so far into Crazytown I can't even see the way out anymore.

To further break this insanity down, we're next joined by David Gergen, Paul Begala, and Alex Castellanos. I like Anderson's first question regarding the McCain embarrassment on the trail: "Compared to Obama's flawless production last night, how does something like this happen in a national campaign at this stage?" So the conventional wisdom of the press is that Obama's production was flawless? Sweet! "Oh, Anderson, do you know how hard it is to get a plumber to show up at your house on time? " replies Alex. Ha! I guess humor is all these guys have left. Paul then starts going off on unlicensed Joe, deeming his presence in the campaign a nightmare, but a great metaphor for the McCain campaign and overall Republican party. True dat.

Alex is not pleased: "It's not a nightmare. " Anderson doesn't even want to be talking about this idiot. "I can only talk about Joe the plumber for a short amount of time each night," he tells us. But Alex gets all indignant, saying Joe didn't cause the economic problems and why are we talking about him and his license and blah, blah, blah. Dude, we're talking about him because he keeps opining to everyone who will listen about everything under the sun and your candidate won't shut up about him. Anderson is so done with this though, so he transitions to a quote from Rove. Oh, well that's much better.

It seems Turd Blossom is preaching wariness of the polls. Gee, I wonder why. I hope this works out for him as well as the last time he had an opinion about polling. The Gerg thinks that Obama has a 90% chance of winning. Oh, don't get my hopes up Gerg! Alex says he thinks the, "Republican strategy of lulling the Obama campaign into complacency is working well." "Oh, you do not," says The Gerg. "No, I don't," laughs Alex. Bwah! Aw. You'd almost feel bad for them if they didn't totally deserve to be in this position. There's a bit more, but I think I'm done with the pundits for the night.

On now to Obama's live speech at Mizzou, which I watched even though I've heard it before. It's just that kind of speech. My brother actually attends Mizzou. I knew Obama was going to Columbia, but didn't know he was going to the university specifically. When it was McCain's turn for airtime, I called the bro up to see if he went. Sadly, he did not. Apparently when he got out of class, the line was crazy long (people had been lining up since the morning) and he knew he probably wouldn't get close enough to really even hear him. He also told me there was a bit of controversy, or confusion at least, about where the rally was held.

They have this big football stadium that seats about 65,000 people, but they chose to have the rally on the south quad. I asked if he thought they could have filled the stadium and he wasn't sure, but apparently Columbia is a lot more liberal than I thought. They drew a crowd of about 40,000 as it was. Anyway, then the bro and I got to talking about other stuff and I never did tune back into the show. Sorry. I'm sure McCain was riveting.

We had Kevin rocking out the webcast tonight while Ms. Hill (hopefully) enjoyed a night off. And of course my stupid computer wouldn't connect at first. Kevin blocked! Noes!!! When I finally get things up and running, our host is conversing with Bob "the bus" about his Halloween treat of choice, which would be chocolate. That fact is apparently related to the nickname. At least, that's what Kevin jokingly insinuates. Aw. Meanie. We also learn that Kevin always steals David "Lady Killer" Gergen's Starbucks. Hm, maybe that's why he's always so mellow--his caffeine is getting jacked by the stage manager. (Oh, and the nickname is spot on. We love us The Gerg.)

Finally, it's time for some ribbing of the host of this shindig, one Mr. Gun Metal Gray. When it comes to Anderson's Halloween treat of choice, it seems he can't get enough of the Zagnuts, introduced to him by our camera dude Tone Dog, who gives us the thumbs up. Tony you should totally bring that up when it comes time to ask for a raise.

Anderson tries to talk seriously about the upcoming rally coverage, but Kevin is all about the Zagnuts. Yeah, rally smally. Candy is where it's at. As for Halloween, Anderson will be working with "his peeps." Duh. But he encourages us to dress up as our favorite CNN analyst. Kevin is so ahead of him on this--he already got The Gerg to lend him his jacket. But don't forget, Kevin, you also have to act like the most reasonable man on earth. Being The Gerg is hard work.

Since it'll be Friday when most people read this, Happy Halloween!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Obama Infomercial, McCain Complains To Larry King, The Accuracy Of Polling, And We Meet Jack Gray (On The Webcast)

Hi everybody. Six more days! Are you surviving? Please oh please let it truly be over this time next week. The show starts us off tonight with a clip from Obama's very expensive (about $5 million to be precise) 30 minute ad. Then we get a clip of McCain on Larry King, whining about all of Obama's money. Please. Like he wouldn't have done the same thing if he had the dough. I know it's cliched at this point, but he really has become the "hey you kids, get off my lawn" candidate.

The clippage then moves us into a Candy Crowley piece that delves into the infomercial a little more. I didn't want them to take my political junkie card away, so I watched. My verdict? Eh. I mean, it probably accomplished what it set out to do, but as someone who's been living and breathing this campaign from the beginning, in some ways it felt like repeat programming. I did think it was cool though how they cut to the live rally and his speech was timed just perfectly. Speaking of someone who has really been living and breathing this campaign, remember how yesterday I implied that Candy was very ready for everything to be over? Apparently, I was spot on. I knew she was getting burnt out when she stopped her cool blogging. Hang on, Candy! Almost done.

We then move on to a Dana Bash piece on McCain and the sad, sad state of his campaign. He's got nothing left except sarcasm and the possibility of connecting Obama to a scary Palestinian. Oooh. Since he doesn't have the money for a 30 minute block of time on the TeeVee, he's appealing to baseball-loving voters, promising to never delay the start of the World Series with an infomercial. All well and good except, uh, Obama didn't delay the World Series, which I guess proves there is nothing too trivial for him to misrepresent.

As for the Palestinian dude, his name is Rashid Khalidi and apparently Obama went to a dinner with him in 2003 where people said mean things about Israel and . . . whatever. Don't care. This guilt by association thing is getting old. But McCain has his boxers in a twist because the LA Times has a tape of said dinner and they won't release it per the wishes of their source. So, now McCain has his shocked outrage on over the press abiding by the tenets of journalism. I mean, they already reported what was on the tape. This is stupid. But, apparently, there's nothing too stupid for this campaign and now Palin is out on the stump crying about the safety of Israel. Boogity, boogity, boo!

Next up, we're joined by Tom Foreman who is actually going to fact-check this crap for us. Score! Now that's what I'm talking about. Tom tells us that the LA Times previously reported that people at the 2003 dinner spoke out against Israel, but Obama advocated for common ground. So radical! Yeah, Khalid and Obama were both neighbors and professors in Chicago, and yeah, Khalid writes about Palestinian causes (which frankly I don't even see as necessarily a bad thing), but other than that, uh, there is no there there. From Tom: "But the bottom line is, unless McCain has some evidence he is not rolling out, some of what he is hinting at is misleading. The rest appears to be flat-out false."

Don't go anywhere though, because we're not done. The other side has hit back and claimed that McCain also has Khalid ties. It seems a McCain-connected group funded research that Khalid was connected to in some way. Or something. I swear, it's like seven degrees of Kevin Bacon, but not nearly as fun. From Tom: "There was such a deal, but to suggest McCain and Khalidi have any relationship because of that also appears to be flat-out false." So basically, this whole entire Khalid thing was just one big helping of BS. Thank you to McCain for bringing it up and wasting everyone's time. And to 360, thank you! See, was that so hard? Do you want a gold star? I know you do.

Strategy Session time! Tonight's pontificators include David Gergen, Gloria Borger, and newbie panel contestant Maria Teresa Petersen of Voto Latino. So, what did they think about the infomercial? The Gerg seems to have liked it so much he has to consciously keep a check on his gushing. He deems it "extremely well done." Perhaps if he let the gushing fly free he would have said it was "effing well done," which was Mark Halperin's characterization on Campbell Brown's show. These pundits are getting kinda saucy as the race dies down. Tee hee. The Gerg wasn't a big fan of the music though. Too dramatic for his tastes, and really, I think I'm with him here. I'm always very sensitive to emotional manipulation. I'm not saying I don't like it sometimes, but I'm always aware it's happening.

Gloria also thought the ad was well done, though she's not sure it's going to change minds. She was going to say more too, but Anderson Cooper totally cuts her off and gives the floor to Maria. Well! He got somewhere to be? Anyhoo, then they talk a bit about Rashid, the economy, and undecided voters. We also learn that the show is going two hours live tonight and the panel will be sticking around. "We're going to give them popcorn, keep them up late," says Anderson. Popcorn? Pshaw. Me thinks they'd rather have that stiff drink I've been talking about lately.

Coming back from commercial, Anderson reads us CNN's excuse for not airing the Obama infomercial. Apparently they thought their own coverage was better or something. Whatever. That was 30 minutes I spent over at MSNBC instead of CNN. Anderson then tells us we're going to get played clips of both candidates to be followed by fact-checks, so I get all excited. But after the subsequent clips from the infomercial and McCain's interview with Larry King, there is no fact-check. Duudes. This is especially egregious because in the Larry King clip, McCain makes the charge that Obama lied about taking public financing. If that's not screaming to fact-checked, I don't know what is. But fear not dear readers, I'm picking up the slack.

Or, actually, the Washington Post is helping me pick up the slack. See, back in the primaries, Obama noted in a questionnaire (which McCain didn't bother to respond to) that he would "aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election." The agreement he wanted involved accounting for spending from outside groups. Did he pursue this aggressively with the McCain camp? Well, not so much--at least that's how it looks. So, while this issue has way too much wiggle room and quantifiers to make this a "read my lips" kinda moment for Obama, if we're gonna be honest and cut through the bull Campbell Brown-style, then yeah, McCain is mostly right here (though really dicky about it).

But you know what? I don't care. These guys are politicians and you can't tell me McCain wouldn't jump at the chance to have more money. Plus, the main reason campaign money is often viewed as bad is because it brings up images of lobbyists and corporate fat cats who are then going to expect payback once the candidate gets into office. Obama is making most of his money in small donations from, well, the people. There is no influence buying here. He's being financed by the public. Hey, maybe he didn't go back on his word after all.

Okay, so back to the show, Anderson wasn't flat out lying about the upcoming fact-checks. Tom does come back to truth squad a bit of what was said in the infomercial. Some of this is same old, same old. Obama makes a lot of promises, but doesn't really say how he's going to pay for them. At this point, it's pretty much conventional wisdom that both of these guy's plans will balloon the deficit more, although McCain seems to think he's going to balance the budget in four years. I guess that will happen in the alternate reality where he is currently living. Another thing Tom points out is that Obama's claim to save every family $2,500 a year on health care is misleading because, well, experts say so. Wow, that was vague. I'm not saying he's wrong, but geez, at least name someone.

Finally, tonight Obama talked up the revolutionary changes at Mapleton School and how we can use them as a model for all schools. Not mentioned was that Bill Gates and his foundation were behind the changes and obviously it's not possible to have a billionaire supporting every school in America. That being said though, nobody has noted exactly what the changes were. Was it really just about money or was there a change of philosophy as well? Obama should have disclosed the Gates factor, but I'm not going to let it make me dismiss the whole thing outright. So, that was it. You might have noticed that they fact-checked none of McCain's statements. Nice.

Erica Hill has the headlines tonight and we learn that researchers have found the color red makes women more attractive to men. She then does some tongue-n-cheek sexin' it up, by putting on a red scarf. "They say all it takes is a little splash of red and, woo, you've never seen a finer lady," she says. We then hear a "woo!" from the peanut gallery and are informed by Anderson it came from one Mr. John King. Oh, Dana Bash is so stealing that scarf later. "We're on the air here, people," says Anderson, then noting he's all flustered by the red. Yeah, I'm sure.

Speaking of the wooer, John King has finally reclaimed his Magic Map from Miles O'Brien, and if you can believe it, things are getting even better for Obama. Why that only makes me more nervous, I do not know. Anderson gives us his oft-cited spiel about how he doesn't take sides, but wonders why the polling numbers of the liberal, conservative, and moderate bloggers he reads differ from each other. John pretty much says that it's all in how you run the numbers. But going back to the bloggers, maybe Anderson can hook me up because I'm looking for a non-insane honest conservative blog to read. Do those even exist? Andrew Sullivan doesn't count. He's almost more pro-Obama than I am.

Next up, we have a Joe Johns piece on polls, and how determining the accuracy of the little devils is oh so tricky. See, this is why I'm so nervous right now. Will the new registered voters actually vote? What about the cell phone factor? Which way will the undecideds swing? These are all unknowables. Remember people, on the afternoon of November 2, 2004, it looked like Kerry had it locked up.

Following Joe's piece, we bounce back to our panel and they continue with the subject of what's going to happen on election day. Maria points out that no one is really talking about the big demographic shift in some states due to an influx of Latinos, the majority of which are trending toward Obama. Somewhere, Lou Dobb's head is exploding. I noted before that the show went for two hours tonight (to cover the Obama-Clinton rally). I will not be. So, that about wraps things up.

Now, what you've all been waiting for: the appearance of 360 blog-comedian Jack Gray on the webcast! We love us some Jack Gray. But just like any celebrity, he doesn't grace us with his presence right off the bat. You gotta wait for the greatness, people. So instead, Erica talks to us about how exciting and long election night is going to be. She also tells us that they tried to book Jack's dog Sammy, but she apparently had prior obligations. Something about a modeling contract and restaurant opening. It seems Sammy's riding out this downturn in our economy fairly well. And not for nothing, but she sounds like a bit of a diva. Maybe she's been palling around with Sarah Palin. We'll know for sure if she shows up someday decked out in duds from Neiman Marcus.

It is in the second webcast that the man finally arrives. He is cute, soft-spoken, and looking a wee bit nervous. Aw. Don't be nervous, Jack--you already have a built in fan base. He and Erica do some joking about him not being allowed in the studio, and fake security guy is called over and stands in the shadows. And I swear to God, it took me about 20 seconds to realize that fake security guy was actually Anderson. Granted, I could barely see him (seriously, does everyone have this shadow issue?), but that just might be the only time Anderson has ever been mistaken for a random fake security guy. Somebody might want to record it for history.

Anyhoo, there is more joking and Jack actually introduces himself to Anderson as Lou Dobbs, but I'm not really feeling the requisite insane outrage. C'mon Jack, you gotta make me believe that your number one goal in life is a border fence. As for the Obama infomercial, Jack notes there were lots of shots of wheat and it had a very Frontline-y feel. It's funny, because it's true. A random Jack Gray fact: Jack Gray does not sing. Hm. Jack doesn't sing. Anderson doesn't dance. You all are really killing my dream of a 360 musical extravaganza.

Also? Jack tells us Sammy is foregoing the webcast because she's usually drunk by the time of broadcast. And she loves the smokes. Oh my. Keep her away from the slots, Jack. It's all downhill from there. John King then joins the party and even plays a little show-n-tell with, well, something. I don't know. Again with the shadows. Finally, we learn that Anderson has lots and lots of gin in his office. I knew it! But hey man, would you work with Wolf Blitzer sober? Thanks for visiting us, Jack! That'll do it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dow Closes Up, Candidates On The Trail, Magic Mapping, Early Voting, And An Update On The Jennifer Hudson Tragedy

Hi everyone. Well, here we are. One more week. Eeek! That is the noise I make when I am very excited, yet on the verge of an ulcer. Let's calm ourselves with some Dow dealings first, shall we? The show kicks off with the BREAKING NEWS that things went well today on Wall Street. Very well, actually. Ali Velshi mans his usual position at the big wall and maps out the day, which ended with the second biggest point gain in history. Woo hoo! Ali then explains why this all happened, but to me it just sounds like a lot of words that can possibly be summed up as, "I'm not exactly sure."

Okay, now that we've had our little economy update, it's time to dive into the election. Anderson Cooper tells us that Obama is still holding on to his eight point lead in CNN's poll of polls and we do a little listening in to a live Obama rally going on in Virginia. Then it's on to a piece by Candy Crowley, who must be so ready for a coma right about now. Seriously, you think she's got her vacation booked already? One more week, Candy! Anyhoo, both candidates are in the currently rainy state of Pennsylvania (or rainy at the time, anyway), but while Obama seems to have the work ethic of the U.S. Postal Service, the McCain camp decided the weather wasn't quite to their liking, thus canceling their rally.

They probably didn't want Palin's duds to get all wet. I hear tell they're quite expensive. Besides staying indoors, the "maverick camp" gave Obama another assist today when a McCain official noted that Obama's health care plan is "way better" for young workers. Apparently he didn't get the memo about not saying true things out loud. So, there's another plus for Obama. And with a 30 minute commercial, Daily Show appearance, and campaigning with Bill Clinton all coming down the pike, his future's so bright, he might have to wear shades. Though not in Pennsylvania. It's raining, 'member?

Next, Anderson tells us that Florida's Republican governor, Charlie Crist, is extending early voting hours in his state. Wait, that sounds suspiciously like a good thing. It was so funny watching this story ricochet around the progressive blogosphere because everyone was like, "Yay . . . wait, what's he up to?" We're so paranoid! The best I can tell, the only thing he's up to is doing the right thing. So good on you, Crist! And I love the quote on Politico from a Florida Republican: "He just blew Florida for John McCain." Is that an admission that the only way they can win is to suppress the vote?

On now to an Ed Henry piece on sad and pathetic John McCain. Everyone knows now about the Republican infighting, so he jokes about how "mavericks" won't always agree, and gee isn't that fun? But his heart's not even really in it. In fact, he almost had me feeling sorry for him. That is, until he started in on calling Obama the 'Redistributionist in Chief.' Which, by the way, is way too long. You can't even chant that properly. And for the love of God, how does a man who formerly opposed the Bush tax cuts keep getting away with saying this crap? Hello! Media, are you out there? Bueller?

Coming back from commercial, we get a clip of Palin from the trail, saying the following: "Joe Biden calls higher taxes patriotic. And to, Joe the plumber, he said, to him, it sounds to him like socialism." Anderson then tells us, "In point of fact, Joe Wurzelbacher never said that to Senator Obama. He first said it two days later in a TV interview." And now I'm confused. Because initially I thought he was pointing out an inaccuracy in Palin's statement and I was excited to be able to be all, "yay, Anderson!" after I've been beating up on him so much lately. But looking at Palin's quote again, I don't think she was implying that Joe the Plumber said that to Obama; she's saying it sounded like socialism to Joe the Plumber. And maybe Anderson is fully aware of this and said that line just because. In any regards, whether the misunderstanding is mine or Anderson's, it made me sort of defend Palin and Joe the Plumber, which, I have to say, kinda makes me hate myself.

Next, we have one of those segments where we're played extended clips, so we can hear the candidates in their own words. It'd be all well and good if there was a fact-check to follow. There is not. So, you know, basically blah, blah, blah, blah. That was pointless.

Speaking of pointless--well, sometimes pointless--it's strategy session time. We've got Roland Martin in the leftie chair, Kevin Madden in the rightie chair, and David Gergen in the voice of sanity chair. The Gerg starts talking about the polls tightening and I get a little nauseous, but then he notes that the fundamentals still favor Obama and I untense a little. Anderson wants to know why Obama is not farther ahead after spending so much more money than McCain. Roland says it's because we're a split nation. And, you know, racism (my words). Just say it, Roland. I mean, there's still a portion of the country that believes Obama is a Muslim and they definitely don't view that as a good thing. Then, just like last night, Anderson asks if the socialism charge (smear, really) is working. *Sigh* So ridiculous. Kevin claims that Obama's policies are "very much left-of-center of where most Americans are." Yeah? Prove it. Oh wait, I forgot that this is cable news, where you can spout any crap you want and no one stops you.

So, this Joe the (non)Plumber guy? I think I've gone from being annoyed with his existence to kinda hating him. We get played a clip of his press conference (yes, press conference) where he, big shocker, endorses John McCain. You know, because he wants to vote "for a real American." Seriously, what a dick. Also? Now Joe is apparently weighing in on foreign policy. "Is there nothing Joe the plumber is not an expert in?" asks Anderson. Ooh, snarky. He totally just killed his chance for a big Joe the Plumber interview. Such a shame.

We have Miles O'Brien at the Magic Map again tonight. I'm beginning to worry that John King is tied up in his basement. Kidding! Anyway, Miles starts going through a scenario of how McCain could win and I have to stop watching.

Back to the panel now, and the talk begins on the subject of undecideds. I'm sorry, anyone who is undecided at this point has something wrong with them. Make a decision! How do these people function in their daily lives? Can they even go into a Baskin-Robbins, or will the choice of 31 flavors make their head explode? Anderson then moves on to the news that anonymous sources out of the McCain camp have moved beyond calling Palin a diva, with someone now referring to her as a "whack job." Man, that's cold. Kevin notes that it's really easy for a single person to just drop an anonymous quote, when probably 99.9% of people working on the campaign are giving it their all. He actually has a good point, though there's a part of me that thinks the advisers are laying the groundwork to blame her for the future (hopefully) McCain loss. Roland just thinks the whole campaign is dysfunctional and schizophrenic.

The Gerg is more muted, calling it "demoralized" rather than dysfunctional. When it comes to going after Palin, The Gerg thinks they need to "cut this crap out." And yeah, I did giggle when The Gerg said "crap." Because I'm 12. Anderson then brings up Joe the Plumber and how he's "basically pontificating on every subject under the sun." Heh, I don't think Anderson's a fan. Says The Gerg: "I thought last night, Anderson, we had reached the limits of absurdity, in talking yet one more time about Sarah Palin's wardrobe. But tonight I think we even went higher." Bwah! Aw, sweet Gerg, there is no absurdity ceiling! And we still have a week more of crazy to go.

Last night I said the pundit panel needed to come with stiff drinks. I'm telling you, our favorite analyst is going to need one before this is all over. Anyway though, Kevin doesn't think that Joe the Plumber in actual man form is really helping their cause, but Joe the Plumber as a symbol is great for them. See, didn't I tell you that the GOP valued caricatures over actual people? "Unfortunately, Joe the plumber, the symbol, is an actual guy who continues to talk and say this stuff," says Anderson. Bwah! Yep, sooo not getting that interview. I'm sure he'll be crushed.

Next up, we have a Gary Tuchman piece coming at us from Nevada, where democracy-loving citizens are getting their vote on early. Actually, a full 31 states have early voting, though mine is not one of them. I'm a little torn on this because the practical side of me would want to get it done, while the political junkie part of me would want to do it on the day. You know, because it's special! But apparently my conundrum has been taken out of my hands. In Nevada, many people are opting for early because the state seems to have made the process very convenient. Forget making your trek to the local elementary school (which I will be doing), in the Silver State you could be voting at the mall or even the grocery store. Anywhere, really. Okay, not anywhere. Gary gives us some exceptions, which include Nevada's brothels. Yeah, I can see that. Because, I mean, private voting booths in brothels? You know that's not going to end well.

Gary visits a McCain/Palin phone center in Vegas and, no joke, runs into Meghan McCain, Sarah Palin's brother, and Joey Ramone's (yes, the punk rocker) wife. Much more of this campaign and we're all going to be singing "I Wanna Be Sedated." After his piece, Gary informs us that some states aren't opting for early voting due to costs, concerns about security of the vote, and good old-fashioned nostalgia. Ah, so I'm not the only one. He also tells us about a 19-year-old he just talked to who is voting in her first election. She told Gary that the voting she just did in the mall was as easy as voting for American Idol. There's something just wrong about comparing the election of the next world leader to picking a singer on a reality show, but yay new voter! "I actually can't figure out how to text for those phone votes. So this would probably be easier for me," says Anderson. Bwah! As much as he's fused to that BlackBerry, I find that hard to believe. And he tried to vote for American Idol? Oh Anderson, I think we need to talk.

The last piece of the night is an update from Erica Hill on the tragic murders of Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother, and nephew. Officials are now confirming that the little boy was shot dead, but they won't specify where the killing occurred. Hudson's brother-in-law, William Balfour, has been named as a person of interest. After her piece, Erica notes that there's talk that this could have been spawned due to an unpaid car payment, but at this point that's all just speculation.

"The Shot" tonight is a video of synchronized presidential debating, brought to us by those crazy comedy kids at 23/6. It really is kinda amazing just how disciplined they are with their talking points, huh? Although, I have to say, I found this choice by 360 to be a little ironic, given how earlier in the show they played us long clips of the candidates (with no fact-checking!), so we could hear them in their own words. They say the same thing over and over! We don't need to hear it again, we need to know if it's true.

Anyway, no "Beat 360" tonight due to time constraints, though we are shown the picture (of a cat) and Anderson tells us to go to the web for the captions. "Or the cat-ion," says Erica. Wah, wah, wah. "Oh, you're good, Erica," says Anderson. And then: "Coming up at the top of the hour, the latest on our breaking news. A wild day on Wall Street spread around the globe. It will give your nest egg -- I don't know, whatever. That's the breaking news." Bwah! And you know there is some dude out there somewhere going, "what? Give my nest egg, what?!"

On now to the webcast, which I should totally start recapping like it's a soap opera. When last we left our heroes, we learned Frank had held a Halloween soiree, and there was a promise of pictures. But would we get to see those pictures, or would Erica deem them too risque for a cable audience. Dun dun dun! Stay tuned. Or, actually, you don't need to stay tuned because I'm totally going to tell you right now. Yes, after waiting the whole hour we saw a couple pictures. Well, sorta. I mean, we're looking at a teeny kinda dark webcast and trying to see pictures on Erica's laptop, so really, Frank could have been engaging in all kinds of debauchery and I'm not sure I would have been able to see it. Quick reminder, the famously funny Jack Gray is set to make his debut on the webcast on Wednesday. Since I want to see him, my computer is almost surely going to breakdown between now and then. If not, I'll have the recap. That'll do it.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Down To The Wire Campaigning, Republican Infighting, Socialism Talk, Obama's Moolah, And Jennifer Hudson's Tragedy

Hi everybody. Happy New Week! I hope you watched 360's "Back From the Battle" special over the weekend. It was nice to see our veterans getting some air time in the midst of all the election hoopla. I'm hoping the show will focus more on the issue after the campaign comes to a close. Speaking of the race for 2008, I think I'm in full-blown pre-election panic y'all! I've been obsessively following every little campaign-related news story (mostly online) and it all looks really, really good for Obama. And yet . . . I just can't seem to relax. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. After enduring years of pretty much soul-crushing news on a daily basis (excepting the 2006 race), I think I've become conditioned to expect disappointment and all-around sorrow.

So, this is new; this winning thing. But I don't think I'm going to be able to be happy about it until I see Obama's picture on the TeeVee, accompanied by the words "president elect." Actually, it probably won't be until I see that on Fox News that I will finally be able to celebrate. But anyway, we kick things off tonight with some clips from the candidates on the trail and Anderson Cooper tells up that Obama holds an eight point lead over McCain. He then intros us into a Candy Crowley piece that basically relays what is being referred to as Obama's "closing argument." The candidate may be sitting pretty, but he's not letting up.

As for the faux "maverick," we're played a few clips that show he's still trying his best to scare everyone with that whole re-distribution of wealth line. Boogity, boogity, boo! McCain definitely will not be rolling back those Bush tax cuts (which have worked out of so well for the little guy). Anderson then tells us that the Democrats say the cuts favor the rich. Because they do! This is not some sort of gray area subject. McCain's tax cuts do favor the rich. Why he cannot cut through the BS and simply say that is beyond me. If I want to know the spin of a campaign, I can go to their website. Why watch the news if they're just going to parrot talking points?

Moving on to a Dana Bash piece that would be making me very happy if I wasn't so tense. The Republican's are imploding! They see that the ship is sinking and it's every man for himself. It seems Sarah Palin believes that she's the true star on the GOP ticket, a position she's ready to hold, just as soon as she can shake off that old dude. Ms. Hockey-Mom is apparently "going rogue" and "off script." You see, any news junkie can tell you that a negative story about a candidate will die, as long as nothing pushes said story into the next news cycle. Guess who never learned that lesson? Because while the McCain camp was all icksnay about Palin's expensive clothes, the candidate herself put the whole thing back in the news by talking up the situation herself. And the McCain staffers are PO'd. So much so in fact that everybody's leaking like the Titanic, with one adviser calling her a "diva." Man, if we have a week more of this I'm going to need to get some popcorn.

This brings us to our inevitable "Strategy Session," with tonight's strategizers consisting of John King, Marcus Mabry, and David Gergen. John tells us all what's up with the McCain camp, which can pretty much be summed up like so: drama!!! They also talk about Palin becoming all back-stabby, all the while The Gerg can't seem to get over that the election is a week a way and we're talking about clothes. Aw, almost two years and still he's not used to the crazy. I think these panels need to start providing their occupants with stiff drinks.

On now to Miles O'Brien at the Magic Map. Whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait! Dudes, you cannot just introduce someone not named John King and think we're not going to notice. Don't get me wrong, I love Miles. He's like this nerdy goofball who knows tons of stuff about space and flying. I just don't like change and I am stressed out. If Lou Dobbs is there tomorrow, that's it. Anyhoo, I'm okay now. And hey, it looks like the Magic Map has gotten even more fancy-pants. Oooh. If that's not enough for you, CNN apparently has a version of the map on the web too, which Anderson totally pimps out using his laptop. Think he felt dirty?

Next up, schadenfreude!!! Ted Stevens has been found guilty in his corruption case. Woo! In case you haven't noticed, I kinda hate Ted Stevens. And the man is so arrogant he's actually staying on the ballot, which leads us back into our panel who talk about the possibility of a Democratic landslide. Fingers crossed! Marcus notes that Obama could actually get an electoral mandate, which hasn't happened in 12 years. Anderson then plays us a clip of this anchorwoman named Barbara West who did a crazy-biased interview with Joe Biden, going so far as quoting Karl Marx and asking if Obama is a Marxist. Seriously. Biden's reply was perfect. No one on the panel makes any comment about this woman's lack of . . . saneness, but Anderson does ask if the socialist line of attack is working. If you'll excuse me, I have to go beat my head against the wall.

I mean . . . seriously. . . just . . . ahh!!! I do not understand what is so hard about taking what the candidate says and analyzing the truth of the statement. The majority of Americans do not care if a particular attack is or isn't working. They care about the issues. If McCain is using socialism as an attack, why the hell would a news organization focus on the attack and not the truth (or untruth) behind the attack? Tell me how that is at all helpful. You know, I am a big believer in giving the benefit of the doubt to our news peeps and normally I'd pass this off as a poor choice or whatever, but there's a pattern here. Thank God for The Gerg, who gives us the much needed perspective, bringing up Teddy Roosevelt, the earned income tax credit (championed by Reagan), and the fact that wealth has already been redistributed in this country--upwards. I don't know why we had to wait for him. After the panel, Anderson pimps out the CNN voter hotline. Still waiting on that voter suppression story, by the way.

Transitioning now to a Tom Foreman piece on how Obama is rolling in the dough. Much of his money comes from Internet donors, of which I am one. Yep, Obama got me to break my no-giving-money-to-politicians rule. Since Obama is doing so well with the cash-raising, Republicans are doing what they always do: crying foul. They claim that all the unidentified donors violates election laws and the Obama campaign actually has had to return some of the money, but it's just a teeny portion compared to overall. The candidates go into their last week with Obama having twice as much cash as McCain. Not a bad position to be.

We then bounce back to the panel and talk benjamins. Anderson wants to know how much the money has helped Obama in the polls. I'm not sure you can quantify that, but if the implication is that Obama is buying the election, just ask how well that worked for Mitt Romney. I think it's a combination of the money, the energetic volunteer effort, and the very sophisticated Obama ground game. Our pontificators also discuss the Obama 30 minute commercial set to air in a couple days. It kind of makes me nervous, actually. What if it flops in some way? That could be the final story caught in the news cycle before election day. I'm overreacting, right? Right?

Our final piece of the night is from Erica Hill on Jennifer Hudson's family tragedy. Her mother and brother were shot dead and her nephew went missing, but now he's been found killed as well. Absolutely horrible.

"The Shot" is Michelle Obama on The Tonight Show and then a big "Thriller" re-enactment, with an appearance by Lou Dobbs. Okay, not really. But Anderson likes to kid Mr. Secure Borders and we won't deny him that. Oh, and then they play this. Cos it's required.

On the webcast, Erica tells us that some people have been breaking the rules on the live-blog. Oh noes! She points us to this post, the majority of which, I quite frankly don't believe. Specifically the first sentence and their claim to value criticism. But that's neither here nor there at this point. I'm actually wondering if this, coupled with Anderson's sudden live-blogging explosion, is just a fluke, or if maybe the show is realizing that their web hits, along with their viewership, is likely to decrease significantly over the next couple weeks. It should be interesting to see what happens, because I know that a good portion of the fans have given up on the live-blog, me included. Will all the political nuts stick around to fight about other things? We shall see.

Other stuff we learned from the webcast: producer Chuck uses all caps in his emails, much to Erica's dismay. Frank hosted a bitching Halloween party Saturday night and revelers played the game Rock Band. The costumes? Frank went as Fred Flintstone and in-studio crew guy Bob (or Rob?) dressed as a dirty old man. Hm. A little disturbing, I have to say.

Tonight Campbell Brown was on The Daily Show, looking cute and talking up her show. It was a good interview. I don't see it on the interwebs anywhere yet, but here is an interview where she discusses many of the same ideas. I've actually found myself flipping over to her show from Olbermann more and more lately. I really like her approach of remaining non partisan, but pointing out the truth. It pains me to say it, but I'm beginning to view her show as a sharper version of 360. Campbell seems to understand that sometimes not taking a side actually results in false equivalency, and quite frankly, poor journalism. Unfortunately, 360 falls into this trap all the time.

I suppose maybe I'm not being fair. I don't watch Campbell's show as often or as closely as I watch 360, so perhaps she's done the same kind of things that I hit them on. But I do know that her show fact-checked the socialism charge, while 360's been letting it go forever. The two shows have the same executive producer, so I'm not sure what's happening. I would never expect Anderson to do commentaries--that's not him. But his tendency for showing us a clip and then "letting us decide" or whatever? I'm sorry, that's crap. It does nothing to serve the viewer. So anyway, I'll be interested to see what the show does after the election. I'm hoping they go back to their roots of international reporting (hey, remember those wars?) and maybe head down to the gulf. If they try to shore up their post-election ratings with sensationalism, I think as a viewer (and obviously as a blogger) I'm gone. That's all for now.

Friday, October 24, 2008

McCain Volunteer Makes Up Robbery Story, On The Trail, And The Race Factor In Politics

Hi everybody. Did you miss me? Sorry about the absence of Thursday's post. I've been really tired lately and after the show, a battle broke out between blogging and sleeping, and, well, sleeping won. I blame election stress. Or respiratory failure. Whichever. Anyway, I do want to note who was named the number one culprit of the collapse, since I've so diligently blogged all the others. Are you ready for this? The culprit is you. Yes, you! Way to go America; you totally messed up our economy. I have to say, I was quite surprised to find out that I fall in with the people I have lovingly been referring to as the, "assholes who screwed us over." Because, I mean, I'm so nice. And frugal.

But 360 has pulled a Time and named me, er, 'you' as one of the occupiers of the culprit wall, so I suppose I shall accept my guilt. Too bad they couldn't build my spot with that reflecty metalized PET film strip that Time used for their cover. That would have been cool. But you know what? This is so not my fault. I pay off my credit card every month, I pay rent, I own my car outright (just made the last payment a month ago, thank you very much), and the only debt I have is one student loan. I do not buy fancy things and I can count on my hand the number of times I've been out to eat at a nice restaurant this past year. And I wouldn't need all five fingers.

So, while I may be to blame for many things in this life, I don't think our collapsing economy is one of them. I do agree with the choice in a general sense though, but fer serious, no mention of Bush? Really? Also, while we're pointing the finger of blame, our friends at 360 have curiously been silent about their hand in the matter. Being journalists and all, their job is to hold those in power accountable. And yeah, they're doing a good job now in pointing out all these culprits, but the whole after-the-fact thing really isn't helping us all that much. Because all this crap didn't just happen overnight and the public probably would have been much better served to hear about financial rumblings than, say, the identity of Anna Nicole Smith's baby daddy. And don't try to pretend like you didn't cover that story as though someone found a cure for cancer, 360. I have proof. Will we get an acknowledgment and apology from them? I'm thinking that's a no.

Okay, so I'm done with that now. On to tonight's show! More BREAKING NEWS of course, and this one's a doosey . McCain volunteer Ashley Todd has just been arraigned after claiming that she was sexually assaulted and robbed by an Obama supporter, all of which she seems to have completely made up. Randi then joins us live in the studio with more. As Todd's story goes, a tall black man robbed her at knife point at an ATM and her McCain bumper sticker caused him to become enraged and carve a "B" (for Barack) into her face. Clue number one that this was all BS was that the "B" was on her face backwards, as if done by using a mirror. Police had Todd take a polygraph, which she failed, and everything just unraveled. There never was a big scary black man with a knife. And given the discussion of race that occurs later in the show, I'm kinda surprised that her choice of perp mostly goes by unnoticed. There's a pretty blatant exploitation of racial fears going on with this story.

Two other angles are mostly going uncovered by the show here as well, the first being the involvement of the McCain campaign. Now, before I got any further, I want to make clear that though I've blogged fairly extensively about the incitement of hatred by the McCain/Palin campaign in the past, I believe the case of Todd is an isolated incident, committed by a most-likely sick woman. That being said, there is some nasty politics as play here. As reported by Talking Points Memo, local reporters have confirmed that McCain's Pennsylvania communications director told them "facts" about the incident before police had a chance to get to the bottom of what happened. Brian Williams even noted on the Nightly News that the McCain campaign steered reporters to the story.

Make no mistake about it, they saw a political win in Todd's "assault," perhaps hoping to counter all the documented instances of hatred at their rallies. I'd also wager they were hoping to stoke racial fears and drive people from Obama's side, though barring the uncovering of a memo or transcript, that's unprovable speculation on my part. I should also point out that the story seems to only have been pushed at the local level. There is no evidence that McCain's national campaign had any role in this other than to call Todd after the "incident" occurred. Given all the whispering about the state of the campaign right now, I would be surprised to learn that they did coordinate a push of the story.

As for the other angle, not covered, well, that would be the media itself. Most mainstream outlets held off in reporting the false story (including CNN--yay!), but not everyone did, and I think they should be called out. Because, c'mon, even an amateur would take a look at that story, as I did, and think to themselves, "Oh, that's awful. But hm, it sounds kind of weird. I think I'll wait and see what happens with this one." I mean, you don't just go reporting unconfirmed crap willy nilly. There's plenty of that stuff on both sides. But some news organizations did report the crap willy nilly and I'm not just talking about the usual right wing blog suspects like Drudge. Fox News was all over this thing and though that didn't exactly shock me, I was pretty blown away that their own Executive Vice President of News Editorial, John Moody, said this (via TVNewser):
If Ms. Todd's allegations are proven accurate, some voters may revisit their support for Senator Obama, not because they are racists (with due respect to Rep. John Murtha), but because they suddenly feel they do not know enough about the Democratic nominee.
If the incident turns out to be a hoax, Senator McCain's quest for the presidency is over, forever linked to race-baiting.
Wow. So . . . yeah. That's messed up. I was hoping 360 would do some calling out (though a subsequent Randi Kaye piece does show a clip of Hugh Hewitt), but perhaps they'd rather just avoid the Fox News wrath, what with Greta seemingly losing a little bit of her sanity with every blog post. Is there a word for something that's below unprofessional? Seriously, someone needs an intervention. Or a reassignment to the position of unemployed. Anyway, Rick Sanchez, who has surprisingly been impressing me lately, did name names. Although, I still think his show resembles what it would look like if the Internet went on a coke bender and then threw up on television. Just saying.

I think I'm going to skip Candy Crowley's piece from the trail since this post is so long already, but I do want to note the clip of Obama walking sadly in his old neighborhood while visiting his sick grandmother. Candy tells us he walked "almost alone in his old neighborhood in Honolulu." Well, except for the cameras! I'd say they need to leave him alone right now, but I guess the prying cameras are something he's going to have to be dealing with; hopefully for the next eight years.

On now to our nightly panel with current seat-warmers as follows: David Gergen, Jamal Simmons, and Alex Castellanos. The Gerg thinks the Todd hoax is all a distraction committed by a seemingly sick woman and it should all be "forgiven and forgotten." Alex jokes that the next time someone is going to carve a letter in their face they should choose an "O" and not a "B" because it wouldn't matter if it was revered. The Gerg laughs, but I actually don't think that's very funny. "Well, I mean, this person is clearly just -- I mean, obviously disturbed," says Anderson Cooper. Thank you. Jamal then brings up how the right was foaming at the mouth over this story before it was found out to be a hoax, charging that Obama had to take responsibility. Well, what can I say, the right is crazy. They obviously don't understand the difference between an isolated incident and a presidential candidate inciting hate, which is something their guy did, not Obama.

The conversation also focused on the total fail that is the McCain campaign and Anderson asks if the current whispers of infighting are true. "I think, if the lights go out, dive for the floor. There are going to be gunshots," says Alex. Whoa, and we're talking GOP here, so you know they're all packing. Next, the panel talks gaffes and Jamal notes that Biden's recent foot-in-mouth incident about Obama being tested was actually slightly taken out of context. "But, Jamal, he did get kind of in the weeds on him. And then he went on to say -- it was like this hypothetical that he then kind of had all sorts of other ancillary comments to, like, we're going to do something, but you're not going to like what we're going to do, but we want you to support it," says Anderson, and Jamal somewhat concedes the point. I actually agree with Anderson on this, but why WHY could he not do this same kind of calling out when Bay was calling Obama a socialist the other night? I don't like it when I'm yelling at my TV because of Anderson. Don't like it one bit.

Transitioning now to a segment called "Uncovering America: Race and Politics," which involved Joe Johns sitting down with a group of black voters of all political stripes and Tom Foreman talking with a similar group of white voters. They then talk politics and race, with Tom and John joining Soledad O'Brien and Roland Martin live with Anderson to discuss what the groups said. This was actually a very interesting segment to watch and I enjoyed hearing the four reporters' take (especially Soledad), but I'm a little confused as to why we're talking about this now. Haven't we done the whole race discussion a zillions times? Anyway, I'm only going to point out things of note because indepth blogging of this would be way difficult.

The Bradley effect is discussed among our panel and this turns into a discussion about code words, which I totally agree are used (full disclosure: I'm white). Joe doesn't really seem to give an opinion about code words, but Roland and Soledad strongly agree they're used. Tom, on the other hand, kinda argues that a lot of white people don't know about code words and some of the words could mean things other than a racial context. I can buy that, but he's coming off more dismissive of the use of code words than maybe he means to be. Roland and Soledad both admit that minorities are probably sensitive to certain words and Roland likens it to a white person noticing he's the only white person in a room, but not noticing everyone in a room is white.

That's an interesting point. I would most likely notice if I was the only white person in a room, but that being said, I would also probably notice, and have noticed on previous occasions, an absence of black people. I think it depends on where you grew up and where you currently live. But anyway, Soledad's story about her friend rejecting the school because the official referred to her and her daughter as "girls" was also interesting because I'm not sure I would have picked up on that as a code word. Obviously saying "ladies" would have been the better choice, but I kinda doubt the woman meant anything racial. Finally, the last thing I wanted to talk about was Reverend Wright. Why does 360 keep bringing him up? The story is over. Let it go. The average voter doesn't care.

The Shot tonight is a candidate dance-off! Check out the slightly disturbing hilarity here. Can I just say that the words, "I would tap that, my friend," should never ever be said? At least this wasn't Fuse's pants-off dance-off because . . . oh my.

Randi Kaye manned the webcast tonight and man, she gets right on it. While Erica Hill is often still talking after the commercial break is over, Randi started talking before it started. Someday they'll get that delay thing down. Anyway, Randi talked to us about the hoax girl and then got some in-studio opinions. It is Floor Crew Friday after all. Frank thinks the whole thing is strange. A guy who we'll just call Mr. Big Teddy Bear believes the girl needs mental help. And then a camera dude (Names, people. We need names!) hiding in the shadows goes a step further, deeming her in need of a padded room. In the next and final webcast I saw, Randi goes to talk to Anderson and Soledad, who are in deep discussion. Conversing about the economy perhaps? The crazy election? Oh no, they were talking about the show Real Housewives of Atlanta. No, I'm not kidding. Bwah! Okay, I've accepted that Anderson is a weird trash TV loving (yet adorable) freak, but Soledad, you too?! *Sigh* What am I going to do with these CNNers? That'll do it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Troopergate Not Over, Economy Still A Mess, Palin's A Big (Wardrobe) Spender, And Franklin Raines Goes Up On The Culprit Board

Hi everyone. Tonight we have double BREAKING NEWS. It's a twofer! Thankfully, they have opted not to double the graphics as well, so we're still able to see Anderson Cooper's pretty head. We kick things off with new developments in the Troopergate saga, which I guess just won the battle of the breakingest (?) breaking news story. Okay, so the deal is that Sarah and her "first dude" Todd, are going to be deposed on Friday because of the whole trooper firing thing. You thought that was over, you say? Well, you were half right.

Candy Crowley then joins us live to explain that this is actually related to another investigation of the incident, this time by a non-legislative board. Palin herself requested this investigation because she felt the other one was just a political hit job. Of course, now she claims that investigation found she did nothing wrong, though on this planet, it found the opposite. Anyway, I'm assuming she believes (or believed at the time of her request) this non-legislative board will deem her free and clear of all charges, but there's a chance they could actually recommend a punishment. And with the results likely to come just before the election, oh how I will laugh if that happens. Seriously, could she have set herself up for a worse bungling?

In a subsequent Candy Crowley piece from the trail, we learn that McCain is still STILL talking about Joe the Plumber. You know, the guy who isn't really named Joe, isn't a licensed plumber, owes back taxes, and would actually get a tax cut under Obama's plan. That guy. I mean, WTF? It's like Republicans don't care about real people; they care about caricatures of real people. And once again, McCain talks about spreading the wealth around like it's some kind of horrible thing, when he himself supported the same kind of policies back in the day. Wouldn't it be nice if someday a member of the media could just point that out. I know you guys have the google. What gives?

Anyway, flipping over to Obama, he's talking about how McCain wants to give all the money to Joe the Hedge Fund Manager. Oh good lord. You're killing me here, Barack. Then McCain is all, "I've been tested!" and Obama is like, "You're out of touch," and . . . blah!!! Jesus, can we just vote and get it over already? After Candy's piece, Anderson informs us that the Troopergate deposition is going to be held here in St. Louis. The Palin's are coming. Awesome.

Time to hang with John King at his Magic Map. The good news for McCain is that it's looking like he might hold onto West Virginia . . . and that pretty much ends the good news. Seriously, this could be a bloodbath. But BUT there's a possibility the race is a lot closer than the polls are showing, so I continue to clutch my pearls.

On now to our nightly panel . . . strategy session . . . whositwhatsit with our current conversing kids consisting of Joe Klein, David Gergen, and Tara Wall. The convo starts off on Troopergate with The Gerg acknowledging that Palin is becoming a liability. You think? Tara is all in a huff because Anderson just introed her as a McCain supporter. Well okay, she's not in a huff, but she wants to clarify that she hasn't come out to support anybody. Because it's not completely obvious who she's supporting or anything. Cut the crap, Tara. Man, you know it's bad when your own supporters don't even want to be identified as such. But anyway, Anderson of course apologizes because he's polite like that and then Tara goes on to blame his profession (and Tina Fey) for hurting Palin. Nice.

Joe basically makes the point that Palin is hurting herself because she doesn't seem to know anything. Today's thing she didn't know is the definition of precondition (in relation to diplomacy). Tara stays on the "blame the media" train and whines that the press doesn't ask Obama this stuff, causing Joe to be like, "dude, I just interviewed him." And what's Joe's verdict? Obama is pretty strong on foreign policy and especially impressive when it comes to the goings-on in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, I'm not sure Palin can even locate Afghanistan on a map. But anyone who asks her to try is a total sexist and/or in the tank for Obama! So there.

Next up, we get a clip of the interview Wolf Blitzer did today with McCain. The Wolfbot brings up the Powell endorsement and McCain goes off on a tangent about taxes, again misrepresenting and outright lying. I cannot believe the Wolfbot did not challenge this: "but to spread the wealth around is certainly not something that I would ever do, that I would ever do." Hello! He is on tape saying he opposed Bush's tax cuts because they disproportionately favored the wealthy and that "when you reach a certain level of comfort there is nothing wrong with paying somewhat more." Now he is championing the same kind of cuts and calling Obama a socialist. Someone, please, ask him about this. Lord, it can't be that hard.

Transitioning now to Ali Velshi at the big wall. If you thought the absence of Ali for a day or so meant the economy was all better, well my friend, you would be wrong. First of all, we lost about $700 billion in stock value today and job losses are, shall we say, not good. Ali tells us that this time of the year we should be up about a million jobs, but instead we've lost about 750,000. Just in time for the holiday season. *Sigh*

A surreal little segue now to a Joe Johns piece on how the Palin family has used $150,000 of RNC money on fancy clothes and accessories. Because all Joe six-packs regularly drop $75,000 at Nieman Marcus. Apparently this is all legal, but pretty unprecedented. The campaign tries to do damage control by informing us she bought off the rack. Oh wow, so she's really slumming it then. They also tell us the clothes will go to charity after the election and I'm sure that decision was in no way made right after this story broke. And then there's this: ". . . some bought before the convention have already been returned." Wait, what? I might be misreading this, but are they saying she wore the clothes for appearances and then returned them to the stores?! Poor teenage girls do that when they really want to go to prom but can't afford the dress; not VP hopefuls!

Meanwhile, the Obamas are a bit more frugal . . . to the point that Barack has holes in his shoes. But it doesn't matter because by golly, Palin is one of us. You betcha. In all honesty, I really do think this story if kind of overblown. I'd much rather them spend the time looking at her ties to the Alaska Independence Party or just, you know, freakin fact-checking the crap that's coming out of her mouth about Obama on a daily basis. I think it was Bay Buchanan who said the other day that the media seems to be obsessed with Palin and as much as it seriously pains me to agree with Bay, in 360's case, she might be right. Or maybe it just seems that way because there's been a lot of news about her lately. There does appear to be some sort of strange fascination going on though.

Moving on now to 360 playing us a clip of Palin possibly or possibly not agreeing to release her medical records. I guess the interpretation is up to us and if she doesn't like how it plays, well, she'll just clarify tomorrow. Anyway, we then bounce back to our panel and The Gerg tells us she should release the records on Friday. May as well. That day will probably be a loss for her anyway. Anderson then turns to Tara to ask if others are right and McCain should attack Obama on character. You know, I really hate it that character assassination is now considered a "strategy." It'd be nice if someday someone would stand up and say this isn't a tactic, this is an unethical behavior. Whatever.

Speaking of unethical behavior (I rocked this transition!), we're on to the night's "Ten Most Wanted List, The Culprits of the Collapse," segment, AKA, "10 Assholes Who Screwed Us Over." In a piece from Tom Foreman, we learn our current contestant is Franklin Raines, former CEO of Fannie Mae. Okay, so years ago the world wasn't imploding and things were actually going good. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were putting low and moderate income people into homes with the backing of the government and everyone was happy. Then around 2003/2004, Fannie got accused of cooking the books, a charge Raines flatly denied. But well, they had been and not only that, they hid their problems. Raines soon resigned, but he left behind the precursor to our current mess. The end. Nice little bedtime story, huh? After Tom's piece, Anderson reads us all the already-named culprits, which at this point is a fairly long list that gets longer every day. It's like he's doing "The 12 Days of Christmas," except with corrupt dream-killers. Or something.

"The Shot" tonight is Obama doing some boogying via satellite on Ellen. Obama claims that Michelle may be a better dancer than him, but he is a better dancer than John McCain. Well come on Barack, the man doesn't want to break a hip. Zing! Yes, I'm going to hell. "I give him props for doing that. I've had people try to get me to dance on television," says Anderson. Hee, I like when he gives props. So down with the people. Erica Hill notes that Anderson has also gone on Ellen and wonders if she attempted to get him to dance. She did not. "I just can't bring myself to do it. I don't know. No," says Anderson, getting all adorably flustered and making me totally forget how dumb it is that he'll go and get shot at, but won't dance. Damn, he's good. You know what time it is? That's right, crew dancing time! I've seen this clip a zillion times, so I think it's time for me to finally ask this question: Dude, what's up with the yellow hat?

The webcast contained Erica talking to us, Erica talking to Ali Velshi (who tells us people are confessing their financial sins to him), and Erica talking to Anderson. Our non-dancing anchor is not opposed to others dancing. In fact, he'd like to see John King break it down. I would go for that. At this point, some security thingee pops up on my screen and asks me if it should act like a server and when I'm all, "No!" it's like, "well screw you, I'm killing your webcast." Ohhh noes. When I get it back a few seconds later, Anderson and Erica are talking about multiple weddings involving Pamela Anderson. Obviously I have missed something here. Anyhoo, in other news, blog funny man Jack Gray has confirmed he will be meeting us in the flesh on the webcast next week. But actually, one of the comments to his post reminded me of something; some of us have already met Jack Gray. That'll do it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Palin Charges Alaska For Her Kids' Travel And Drew Griffin Lobs Softballs

Hi everybody. I'm going to let Larry King get us started: "Anderson Cooper, as always, with the breaking news." Even the sporadically senile Larry has noticed the news breaking game. Or, you know, he just reads what's in his prompter. Anyhoo, tonight's to-do is that the AP is reporting Palin charged Alaska for her kids' travel expenses. Ed Henry then joins us on the phone with more, noting that she really didn't break any laws, but some of the trips were pretty suspect--such as going to see the "first dude" in a snowmobile race. Also, Anderson points out that the reports were amended once questions were raised. All of this put together doesn't exactly paint a very good picture of a fiscal conservative and certainly isn't very mavericky.

All that being said, meh, I don't see this being that big of deal. I mean, the woman is out there accusing Obama of being a socialist and terrorist sympathizer. The fact that she stuck the state of Alaska with the tab so that she could drag around her brood isn't exactly my number one reason for disliking her right now. This seems like something that will fall through the cracks of the news cycle. But don't listen to me. We need an official panel to weigh in on this and tonight's helpful souls are David Gergen, Bay Buchanan, and Roland Martin. Bay again, huh? You know 360, you can hate me, but you don't have to punish the rest of your viewers. Just saying.

So okay, the verdict from The Gerg is this is old news. It didn't get much traction at the time, but there was a story about her charging per diem for staying in her own house and then there was the whole tanning bed thing. She may be a fiscal conservative, but not when it comes to herself. Bay just dumps everything on the press, saying they're obsessed with Palin. Yes, poor Sarah. I'm playing my tiny violin right now. Of note is The Gerg pointing out that while Palin's actions might be a big deal in other states, "within the context of Alaska, there seems to be a much looser set of standards, frankly." Ha! I think that is something America is learning very quickly.

Up next, we have a Candy Crowley piece from the campaign trail. It seems that Biden has done that thing where he opens his mouth and something really stupid comes out. For some reason he saw fit to tell people that if Obama is elected he will be tested with an international crisis. Joe, God love-ya, shut up. Well, McCain is of course all over this bad boy, proclaiming he's already been tested. As for the guy everyone is talking about, Obama is in Florida discussing pie. Who has a piece of the pie. Who doesn't have a piece of the pie. Whose pie is shrinking. Whose pie is growing. All I know is that I was hungry when he was done.

Moving on now to John King playing with the Magic Map. And oh, it does not look good for McCain. It seems they've decided to put a lot of their eggs in Pennsylvania because it may be the only way he can win. Let's hope Pennsylvania goes blue.

Transitioning now to the first clip of Drew Griffin's interview with Sarah Palin and it's all about . . . Joe Biden. Awesome. The Veep hopeful goes on and on about Biden's boneheaded comment, only pausing so that Drew can ask incredibly hard hitting questions like: "Does Joe Biden get a pass?" Whoa, look at him hold her feet to the fire! Then she actually asks Drew to ask his bosses why Biden gets such a pass. Oh, good lord. Hey Drew, while your there, maybe you could also ask them why they're so averse to covering Palin's ties to the Alaskan Independence Party. K? Thanks.

Back to the panel, Anderson notes that Joe Lieberman basically said the same thing about being tested that Biden did. The panel then further discusses Biden's comments, with the general consensus being that it was a dumb thing to say as a candidate, though both Roland and The Gerg believe the statement to be true. Anderson points out the rambly nature of Biden's delivery, " I mean, he sort of got lost in this, whatever he was talking about," he tells us. You know, Anderson flummoxes me sometimes. On one occasion (like right now), he'll tell it like it is, but on other occasions (and much to my frustration), he'll let totally obvious BS get by. Actually, stay tuned for an example.

More of Drew's interview now, and it doesn't get any better. A big wet kiss would be an apt characterization. Anyway, we pick up with Drew asking if Obama is a socialist and Palin refuses to call him that, instead opting to hide behind the words of Joe the Plumber. So brave. She then gives a monologue in which she completely misrepresents Obama's tax plan. Does Drew call her on this? No. But he does follow up with an incredibly leading question: "Do you think his intentions are, if not a socialist, is to move away from capitalism, true capitalism?" I'm sorry, am I watching Fox News? To Drew's credit, he does bring up the bailout and notes that McCain voted for it, but then allows Palin to give another monologue full of insinuations.

Drew then points out that McCain's proposals are government involved as well, but Palin basically just rejects reality and goes off on another tangent with no follow ups to stop her. Pathetic. At least on Campbell Brown's show they discussed the socialism charge and determined it to be false. Drew's interview was pointless. It was nothing but a glorified stump speech and we learned no new information. I can't say I'm surprised though. Drew's record of late has not been impressing me. You know, one thing that really annoys me about my side of the partisan aisle is that when it comes to the press, the left is very reactionary (whereas the right just views them with a blind hatred 24/7).

A journalist does a bad report and suddenly they're labeled a right wing hack. I'm of the mindset that journalists are just people and sometimes they're going to have bad days--it doesn't necessarily mean they're biased. This belief is probably why it's taken me so long to realize that, well, Drew Griffin is a hack. Now, I'm not going to claim to know his motivations, so I'm not calling him biased; I'm calling him a bad journalist. I'm sure he'll find that so much better. I mean, check out how he misrepresented a National Review piece (a conservative publication) in that same interview. It's not an egregious instance, but there's just general underlying shoddiness. So, his hackery is bipartisan. And I'm not the only one who feels this way. He's not Katie Couric or Charlie Gibson, I'll say that much.

We next bounce back to the panel where The Gerg makes me very happy by saying he's not sure McCain is going to be able to turn things around. Anderson then brings up the 's' word and Bay is all, "socialist blah blah Obama blah blah socialist blah blah blah socialist blah blah socialist blah," all the while Roland laughs and The Gerg makes frustrated faces. "So you take these things and you move them as best you can," says Bay. " You just moved it about four times there, using the word 'socialist,' Bay," says Anderson. Funny, but you'll notice he says nothing to challenge her extremely BS charge that Obama is a socialist. I mean, what the hell, Anderson? Your colleagues Campbell Brown and Tom Foreman didn't seem to have any trouble cutting through the bull.

"You know, Roland laughs. But just a segment ago, what did he say? It's time to be honest. OK, let's be honest. Barack Obama is a socialist. It's that simple," says Bay. The Gerg can't take it anymore and throws up his hands, "Oh, come on!" he says. It's not that often that The Gerg gets riled up, so you know she's talking trash. Instead of turning to the quietly seething Gerg, Anderson then gives the floor to Roland, who says, "I can imagine having lunch with Bay and Pat Buchanan, but everyone is a socialist or a Marxist," Oh, snap. Finally Anderson completely changes the subject to Palin's clothes budget, which quite frankly I think is just piling on. Why did he not let Gerg talk about the socialism charge? Grr. Anyway, they chuckle over the $150,000 that Palin and her family have allegedly spent on clothes and accessories, leading Roland to say, "I do take pride in my dressing. RNC, give me a call. I can get a cheaper deal. Trust me. I know how to shop." He is a sharp dressed man.

The usual culprits segment got bumped tonight due to time. Drew's interview reminded me that when he did his ACORN report, 360 promised to do a story on voter suppression as well. Unless it was hidden in the second hour some night, they have not lived up to this promise. Where's the report? I have not been very impressed with this show lately. Anyway, "the shot" is a chimp on a segway and then they play Seamanship, but I can't say I'm in the mood. From the webcast we learned that the studio is very cold, you can totally get wine from Frank, and Erica Hill does not have the magic map password. That'll do it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Obama Leaves Trail, Powell Endorsement, 360 Loves SNL, Palin Splitting The GOP, And James Cayne Named A Culprit

Hi everybody. Happy New Week! I'm short on time for this post, so this is your abbreviated version. We're kicking things off with the BREAKING NEWS that Obama is temporarily suspending his campaign. No, no, he hasn't done gone crazy like McCain did; his grandma's really sick and he wants to visit her. I think this deserves an "aw." Prayers for, grandma! Also? The campaign isn't really suspended because Biden and Michelle are still out there.

Candy Crowley then joins us live and informs us that though Obama politically probably won't be hurt by taking time off, the decision to do so was made on a personal level. Tell me, what party owns family values again? In a subsequent piece from Candy we learn that Hillary Clinton is getting her campaigning on and she and Obama are taking Florida by storm. The Sunshine State will go blue, dammit!

Moving on now to a Dana Bash piece on the campaigning going on here in Missouri. Anderson Cooper intros by noting that, "McCain drew a much smaller crowd in the same suburb Obama visited this weekend." I have no idea what he's talking about. The crowd thing is right, but Obama was downtown and McCain was in St. Charles, so . . . Anyway, whatevv. The point is that Obama drew a whopping 100,000 people, and I really wish I could have been there. I thought about going, but with my health situation, I knew it would end up being a stupid move. At least I've already seen him twice before. McCain managed to get about 3,000 people. That is sad.

Time now for our panel, with tonight's strategizing peeps consisting of David Gergen, Joe Madison, and Gloria Borger. They talk a bit about Obama leaving to visit his grandma and then move on to the subject of Colin Powell's endorsement. We're played a clip of Rush Limbaugh, because, I guess, 360 hates us, and he bloviates that the decision was all racial. Wow, Limbaugh being a total dick, who didn't see that coming? The Gerg smacks down this nonsense right good, noting that nobody ever talks about race when one white candidate endorses another white candidate.

Joe thanks The Gerg and says, "Who died and made Rush Limbaugh the authority on black people?" Seriously. What's incredibly scary (and sad) is how many listeners he has. Gloria says that if the decision was all about race he could have done it weeks ago. Yeah, they were both black back then too. Anderson tells us that the McCain camp has mentioned they might put Wright back on the table, which, of course, leads to talk about Wright. So, let me get this straight, the McCain camp talks about maybe talking about Wright . . . and now 360 is talking about Wright. Nifty little trick, huh? For hating the media so much, that campaign sure doesn't mind playing them like a fiddle.

Transitioning now to an Erica Hill piece that covers Palin's appearance on Saturday Night Live (see here). Man, 360 lurves themselves the SNL, don't they? Anderson even asked us on the blog who are favorite cast member was. If it makes Anderson Cooper blog, you know it's love. So anyway, Palin's appearance brought the show its highest ratings in 14 years. Meanwhile, the kids over at Mad TV quietly cry themselves to sleep at night. The general consensus seems to be that your politics influence how you viewed her performance. Personally, I thought she was pretty stiff in the cold open, but then funny during Weekend Update. And hey, she's got rhythm; you can't deny her that. I think I'm with James Carville though in that it didn't make much sense politically. Oh wells.

Next up, we have an Ed Henry piece on Palin and how much she sucks or doesn't suck. Kinda depends on who you are. The base continues to love her. The so-called "elite" conservatives like David Brooks and Peggy Noonan? Not so much. I have to say, I love how she's calling Obama a socialist when her own running mate voted to partially nationalize the banks and wants to bail out homeowners. Oh, but he's a Republican, so that just means he's a good American. Right?

Moving on to discussion with David Brody from the Christian Broadcasting Network, Bay Buchanan, and Ed Rollins. Hold up, you took away my Gerg and leave me Bay? That's cold, 360. David is here because he actually just interviewed Palin. She talked to the Christian Broadcasting Network, huh? Who'd a thunk it? I was going talk about how sad it was that CNN had to resort to interviewing people who interviewed the VP since they couldn't get her to come on herself, but it turns out, she's apparently agreed to an interview with Drew Griffin. I'm going to hold my judgment until I see it, but uh, just read my back posts for a taste of what I'm thinking right now.

So anyway, Bay thinks Palin is all great. Naturally. And David tells us she thinks her faith in God is being mocked. What? The finger of blame then of course comes down on the liberal blogosphere because, hey, why not? Yes, sorry if we want to make your witch doctor weirdness an issue after we heard weeks and weeks of nothing but Reverend Wright. Turnabout is fair play. Anderson sort of brings this up later: "You just were talking about Sarah Palin talking about people making fun of religion. Is there concern that they bring up Reverend Wright, is that's attacking Obama's religion?" They all have their crazy pastor people. Well, except for Biden, who seems overly normal. What's up with that?

Our final piece of the night is from Gary Tuchman and it's part of the nightly "Ten Most Wanted List, Culprits of the Collapse," AKA "10 Assholes Who Screwed Us Over." Tonight's culprit is James Cayne, former CEO of Bear Stearns. It's that whole subprime lending thing again. The charge against this guy is that he was out of touch and not involved enough, which lead to everything collapsing. What did his incompetence leave him with? Well, $600 million of course. Ah, the fairness of life.

"The Shot" tonight is some base jumping in West Virginia. No thank you. The webcast was basically Erica Hill doing a lot of jabbering at us. Not earth-shaking, but better than her pimping the website. And hey, were we or were we not promised Jack Gray? I'm waiting. OK, that'll do it.

Colin Powell Endorses Barack Obama

Great video montage from DailyKos of Powell's endorsement:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sarah Palin On Saturday Night Live

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