Friday Hangover

J: Here we are- one last weekend until the Big One. There are smears and infomercials flying about, and Halloween looms large over the political landscape. Both camps are dressing up as centrists, in a last-ditch effort to gain the few undecided voters that remain.

Fortunately, I'm no longer in the crosshairs of anyone's Get Out the Vote movement. For the first time in my life, I early-voted. I normally like the polls on Election Day- the sense of being part of a group of citizens participating in our civic duty. But having children and no obvious babysitter made the convenience of voting early impossible to ignore. As I was walking out the door, my Little Guy asked me where I was going, so I told him "to vote". Well, there was no way I could be allowed to do that without supervision, so we piled in the Honda and were off to the polls. Once inside, he was fascinated by the process. I showed him the sample ballot, explained to him that straight-ticket voting was for lazy people who didn't do their research, and basically gave him his first lesson in Democracy. I cast my ballot, got my sticker- which promptly went on his shirt- and came home. He enjoyed it so much that when Mrs. J. then went to cast her vote, he absolutely insisted on going back with her. Perhaps it's my Kentucky roots showing, but when a three-year-old insists on heading to the voting booth as many times as possible... well, let's just say I'm proud. Next time around, I think I'll teach him how to buy and sell votes. He and Lyndon Johnson's grandkids can roll around Texas, driving the elderly to the polls.

Speaking of the elderly, I'm really starting to feel bad for John McCain.The more I think about his campaign, the more I truly believe that his entire plan for getting to the White House involved a race against Senator Clinton. If Hillary! had been his opponent, he could have easily chosen Joe Lieberman as his running mate, because whatever issues the base might have with McCain, their hatred of all things Clinton would assure him their support. Instead, his hand was forced, and we get the Palin show. But there will be more time for hindsight once the votes are officially counted.

And I think the person with the biggest axe to grind in the GOP may turn out to be Mike Huckabee. He appeals to the same crowd as Palin, he has far more executive experience, and even most of the Left just likes the guy. If I could have any politician as a neighbor, it would be Mike. He seems like he'd invite you over for a barbecue, and offer you a beer- even though he doesn't drink himself, he keeps a few on hand for guests. He's got to be sitting on a porch in Arkansas and laughing about the absurdity of this race. I expect to see more from him soon, because I believe he's going to end up as the spokesman for the Evangelical wing of the Republican Party.

C: J., I commend you. My father took me to the polls at 6:30AM before he had to go to work when I was a little guy. The metallic sound of the big armature and the curtain whistling behind us, the clack of the levers, is something I will never forget. I got a 'I voted today' sticker. And a cookie. Fine church lady volunteers, indeed. This is a moment that taught me respect for our country, citizenship and the value of one man, one vote. This being an American is serious business and the world is envious of this privilege.


The Twenty Fifth Amendment

C. Where in the Hades is Vice President Dick Cheney? Has anyone seen or heard from him? Did he run away from home? Is the door on the bunker accidently locked from the outside? Is he out scouring the backcountry of our dear ally Pakistan for Bin Laden? Has he shot that SOB in the face? Is this the November 2nd surprise, Cheney shaking the decapitated, bloody, elusive melon on Meet The Press for all the wussy doubters on a Sunday morning? Drunken Politics North has no inside information.

Oop, there's my flagpin...

Speaking of hard-core wild big game hunters, is there no place in an Obama Homeland Security Department for a moose killer? Recently, Governor Palin explained the job description of the Vice President. According to a certain Fancy Wardrobe Snow Machine Queen, the magic invisible ink asterisk on the Constitution implies that the VEEP assists in the creation and negotiation of legislation. Gettin' in there and creatin' policy with them Senators, you betcha. That loud *smack* sound is Senator Joseph Biden knocking himself out with a self-inflicted forehead slap. Senator John McCain and some top staffers have now thrown Governor Sarah Palin under the bus. When your staff goes on open background in the New York Times and The Washington Post stating your VP pick has gone rogue, 10 days prior to the election, psssst rogue, roguey-rogue, the excuse is in.

One way or another, eventually it would be fascinating to hear the rationale behind her ascension from McCain himself. She's whipped up the ugliest pitchfork elements of a very very new, foamy rabid Republican Party. And the case could easily be made that Alaska's Governor has not added a single vote that wasn't already sympathetic to the George Wallace legacy turned Republican voter wing. Dig through the data, maybe the silliest move ever made by a potential POTUS. Even the Senator Larry Craig Christian fundamentalists are thinking, 'whoa, whoa whoa...vetting anyone?' As strange as this sounds the party of Abraham Lincoln, Dwight Eisenhower,Charles Hagel, Nelson Rockefeller, William F. Buckley, George Will, David Brooks, Jacob Javits, Arnold Schwarzenegger, GHWB, Robert Dole, Richard Milhouse Nixon, P.J. O'Rourke, Lincoln Chafee, a whole bunch of Wall Street Nouveau Socialistas and Ronnie 'Morning in America' Reagan, has stepped way way out over the edge. Let's just see how long this new xenophobic jingo snake-handlin' nutbag luncheon lasts.
Even Spiro T. Agnew is blushing in the grave.

J. The most interesting part about Palin going off-topic is the perception that she's trying to set herself up for a 2012 run on the top of the ticket. At some point, someone is going to have to pull her aside and explain that exceptionally heavy unfavorable ratings do not bode well in a national election. The more Caribou Barbie speaks, the more the GOP looks like it could very easily split into two parties- the fiscal conservatives and the evangelicals. The other option here would be for the Libertarians to really extend their outreach efforts and try to recruit more disaffected Republicans into their ranks.

The funny thing is, there are certain places where the Libertarian candidate is affecting the state outcome. In Montana, the Obama/McCain race is razor thin, and Bob Barr is pulling a few percentage points. But, McCain has an even bigger challenge in the Big Sky Country- Ron Paul. That's right, our favorite candidate-with-a-blimp is still on the Montana ballot, and he's polling in the 4-5% range. If the Libertarians and fiscal conservatives cause Montana to flip blue, hilarity will ensue.

But, back to Palin. If the McCain campaign knows anything, it's definitely not how to stay on-topic, and the fact that she's making them nervous is a telling sign. I absolutely cannot wait for the books that will come out on this campaign. The Republicans had, in the past, been far better at the game than they showed this year. If Johnny Mac had been allowed to choose Lieberman or even Mittens Romney as his running mate, this would be a much tighter race. It's not like it would have been difficult to get the evangelicals to fall into line. It would have taken one sentence- "OK, vote for the pro-choice Democrat with the odd name". Maybe a speech by Huckabee, just to be on the safe side. Just like the diehard Hillary supporters, they would have made some noise, then gone right back to supporting their own self-interest.

Personally, I hope Palin doesn't get the hint, and decides to make a 2012 run- because the GOP primary would eat her alive. The freewheeling nature of the early debates could absolutely embarass her. There would be no shortage of Republicans who thought they would be a better running mate for McCantankerous, who would be more than happy to lay a few hammer-shots to her face.


All Politics Are Local

C. Here in Oregon the thrill of Election Day is dampened by this silly statewide mail-in ballot thing. Two weeks before election day we all receive our ballots and Voter's pamphlets (216 pages of trees delivered to every voter in the Greenest State in the Union, that's irony goodness). One can drop their citizenry duty off at libraries and government places statewide up until Election Eve or mail with your own dam stamp three days prior.

In the Soggy Outlands, we have these critters know as ballot initiatives. Your fabulous idea can become law if your Street Corner Pester Army can annoy and sign up enough registered voters to get on a November ballot. And Bill Sizemore, our resident Conserva-pimp, makes banco-grande with all flavors of juicy suburban fraidy-cat caucasian churchy issues. This brings us to Measure 58. The Measure 58 Ballot Title summary in The Holy Moly Oregony Pamphlet states, " Prohibits teaching public school student (sic) in language other than English for more than two years".

In the Oregon Ballot Tome, along with candidate statements and supporting statements, any citizen or group can purchase statement space after the official legal constitutional/law proposal for $5oo clams. Argument In Favor or Argument in Opposition. This is straight and true and right from the pages of the Oregon Voters Pamphlet:


Argument in Favor
Current law lets English students to progress at their own rate. No! Wrong! Measure 58 will require children to learn faster—by force of law. This measure will outlaw slow English learning! Cool!
In fact, laws requiring Latinos to learn faster could also legislate geniuses! Isn't it amazing what a Sizemore measure can do? Vote for faster English learning—and legalize geniuses! It's that simple! Sizemore simple!
My friends, Mexicans should be taught in English because it's our native tongue. But American colleges in Mexico City teach in English! By logical extension, that is wrong! Students should learn in the national language. Stop teaching military personnel in Germany in English. Keep the German in Germany! Students learn better in languages they can't easily understand!
The speed at which children learn is best established by initiative and referendum! The key is to legislate lesson plans by popular vote: The more lesson plans you vote on, the faster children learn. It's so simple! So how many hundred Sizemore lesson initiatives do you want to vote on in any one election?
Don't leave teaching to teachers! To make English students progress, all you have to do is vote for Sizemore measures. Bill Sizemore knows better than teaching professionals how to mandate student advancement by initiative petition. The religious right demands democratic dogma, and Sizemore legislates accelerated Latino language learning.
Additionally, this measure establishes the precedent for popular vote on all professional planning. How will your doctor treat your infection? Not by professional knowledge! No! Let the voters decide! Yeah!
Teachers should not be left alone to teach, and doctors should be regulated by the whims of popular elections! Professional practices should be set by the lowest common denominator of public prejudice at the ballot box. This is democracy! We want democratic lesson plans and democratic medical procedures! Sizemoron medicine! Let's vote!
Donations: Traditional Prejudices Coalition, Box 1851, Portland 97207.
(This information furnished by M. Dennis Moore, Traditional Prejudices Coalition.)

And Drunken Politics loves America.


Two Very, Very Very Short Weeks

C. The polls start closing in 300 some odd hours. Minutes are ticking away on the longest, most expensive Presidential campaign in American history. (The famous "Seasons of Love"song from the Broadway show Rent should be the background music here.) Early voting is busting records with long lines where available. Absentee ballots are flooding in. The airwaves, radio waves, the internets, mailboxes, answering machines, doorknobs, front lawns, editorial boards and columns, all are flooded with the Red, White and Blue Blood that pumps through America's veins. Sit in a diner and odds are someone will stick a microphone in your face. Hell, it's almost as if people really cared about the outcome of an election and apathy is so 20th century.

Fourteen days out and the picture is looking a tad grim for Senator McCain and Celebrity Governor Palin. Drunken Politics loves Conventional Wisdom. And Conventional Wisdom is great for ratings. And Conventional Wisdom is trying real, real hard to pimp the horserace. Campaigns always tighten up toward Election Day, the Bradley Factor, 'Will the kids really vote?', the rehabilitation of 'The Happy Warrior', coverage of 'Battleground States' and Gaff-Hunters and Dirt Mongers are pouring over every word to find secrety subtext and hidden nuance and hysterical implication in any utterance from a sixth tier surrogate.

Simple fact(s): McCain and Palin are swimming outside the deep end rope. The polling numbers and trends are rolling them up. Palin is a national joke who still doesn't know what the duties of the Vice President involve and the Arizona Senator appears bi-polar. The RNC is pulling back money from the campaign to save congressional seats. The editorial boards, even classical GOP-friendly journalists, are collectively shaking their heads at a mis-managed, unhinged campaign. And General Colin Powell is driving a stake through the heart of a supposed great friend.

Senator Obama's team is trying to figure out how to blow the avalanche of money that flooded their coffers. Being positive and calm is working for some strange reason. New Voter registration for Democrats is through the roof. Trendlines, trendlines, trendlines. 401K is a dirty word. And a hunch that American voters are dismayed by the sneering lowest common denominator pitchfork crowd of drooling troglodytes that appear to be the new Republican Base. That whole Economy That GWB And Friends Ran Into The Ditch (ETGAFRITD) has a bit more traction the Guns, God and Gays for the moment. Maybe it is a James Carville-ism.

Johnny Mac and the Avon Lady are running out of October Surprise, time and money. And their spaghetti is not sticking to the wall. And Obama is going to see his sick Granny in Hawaii.

J: Well, C., I cant disagree with a thing you've said, so allow me to expand on a couple of things.

First off, there's the "horse race" aspect of the coverage. This could easily turn out to be a short-term gain, long-term loss for McCain. Johnny Mac's core base- the elderly and the "I love Jesus a whole lot" crowd- are going to vote. Period. Plagues would not keep these people away from the voting booth. The people Obama's campaign has newly registered? They might be tempted to stay at home on the 4th if they think that everything's decided. If it's projected to be close? They might think that their vote could be the deciding one, and figure that their time in line is worthwhile.

Then, there's the Powell issue. This is a bigger deal than it would seem at first glance. Much of McCain's ambition stems from his inability to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, and pin on the four stars of a full Admiral. He separated from the Navy as a Captain, the equivalent to a US Army Colonel. It's still a very prestigious rank, but there is a vast difference between a Captain and an Admiral. Powell, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, held the most powerful office someone in uniform can attain. For him to come out and endorse Obama, while saying thinks like "This is a time for outreach", is a huge slap in the face of McCain. The essence of Powell's argument is that McCain approaches things from the level of a Captain- a man in charge of a single ship, while Obama looks at situations like a General or Admiral- where you have to consider a hell of a lot more factors. 

As far as the coverage on Election Night, there are two states that will tell the early tale- Virginia and North Carolina. If either of these goes to Obama, the electoral math becomes so prohibitively difficult for Sarah Palin's running mate that it would be safe to go ahead and crack open the bottle of Bourbon, 'cause it will be over. If I know that, the pundits have to know it. It will be entertaining to watch them attempt to not call the race for the next three hours.


Debate the Third

J: Well, the third and final Presidential debate is finally here, and this one has the potential to be interesting. Before you think I've lost my mind, let me explain.

The first two debates were hardly "debates" at all, they were two men speaking in talking points. That very well could be the case again tonight. But some part of me doubts that this will be the case. Senator McCain is trailing badly in national polls, and the state-by-state breakdowns show an even larger disparity. He needs an absolute slam-dunk victory in this debate- something that not only makes him look like the inevitable choice to be the next President, but also simultaneously knocks Senator Obama off the stage. Something huge, something remarkable. And that means he can't play it safe- he has to let it all hang out.

While it's possible that he could score a successful knockout blow, there is also danger in this approach- he could swing and miss so badly that he stops any momentum his campaign still retains. An error of that magnitude would be virtually impossible to recover from in 20 days... but taking that risk might be the only way Johnny Mac gets the keys to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. There's the drama for tonight- will he try and win this debate, or the election?

The thing is, I can't see any potential attack he can make. Obama's campaign has been Ali's "rope-a-dope" in action. Let your opponent make some body blows, but protect the head. Then, in the later rounds, once your foe has spent all their energy, land the knockout if you can... but realize that winning on points still counts as a win. The Democratic primary drudged up all the dirt Obama has- and it's not much. If the Clintons can't find the skeletons in your closet, then there probably aren't any to be found.

McCain has hinted that he's going to mention William Ayres in this debate. I'm not convinced that this would be an intelligent move. First off, it could turn out like his choice of VP- while the base gets energized, independents simply aren't swayed by it. Second, and perhaps more importantly, if you're going to use an attack, you really shouldn't announce it ahead of time. To go back to the boxing analogy, you can't telegraph your punches. You're setting yourself up for a massive counter. A former president of the Harvard Law Review would probably eviscerate a comment like that on the spot, but with days to prepare, it could be flat-out brutal. If there is a mention of Ayres tonight, hold on... because you are about to see one of the greatest comeback remarks of the past few Presidential campaigns.

Tonight's drinking game rules are simple: For Obama, drink when he says "middle class". For McCain, drink when he studiously does not look at Obama. If you want to give your liver a thorough beating, add these: For Barack, add "failed policies", and for Johnny Mac, "My friends". But be careful- the "my friends" rule is guaranteeing yourself a massive hangover. You've been warned.

C. Thankfully J., the debate had nothing to do about yours and my diminished mental capapacity. Although that would place us firmly within the new Palin worship mongers club. She's been reduced to family huggy Ops with Downes Syndromers. I guess the whole Obama-U-Is-A-Arab-Muslim-Teerorist thing is off the table. It's manditory, we're going to have to get ourselves a collector yellow 'TRIG' tshirt to commemorate the Palin fiasco. It's good to know there is one voting block locked up for McCain-Palin.

ring ring... It's Jerry Springer, he's looking for a pregnant teenager whose mother is a VEEP candidate, the baby daddy has dropped out of high school to get a job in oil fields. awwwwww....

This is postgame analysis on my behalf, stupid neighbor turned off his router. The Pirate wifi Lifestyle has its drawbacks. The Debate , mind you I've read or seen zero spin due to the phrases 'middle class' and 'my friends', ended up in a draw. Yep, a draw. McCain's RedBull's wore off after a half an hour reducing him to an eye-popped twitchy mess. Obama babbled like tall guys do when they're forced to sit down. Unfortunately for Johnny Mac, he's a Republican. America opened up their 401K statements on or about October 10th. George W. Bush is a Republican. Punishment will be severe. McCain, highly animated, hates taxes and has a crush on a Man Plumber. Obama, if you squeezed him you'd get cucumber juice. Thank the Lord this was the Debate the Third. This was by far the most interesting and confrontational debate, Bob the Mod didn't step in, and both candidates were engaged maybe due to their proximity. Thankfully, neither expressed a flag-waving solution to the horrid crapfest that will be known as the Great Recession. My liver is grumpy.

Breaking news: Joe the Plumber is not a licensed plumber and he owes back taxes. Woopsy.


The Bailout Worked

C. That's right, I said it, the Bailout worked. The United States of America government has, for once, done it. No, I'm not speaking of the steaming pile of moose droppings that used to be known as the Economy. Boooringggg. What is the single most important chunk of THE GREAT AMERICAN LIFESTYLE? Ta-da! Television. The Idiot Box. America's Babysitter. The NFL and the NBA and the Olympics and Tony Bourdain and Love Boat reruns and This Old House and Sesame Street and Dancing with the Stars and... I'm a cheapskate. Good bourbon in copious amounts is expensive. Cable TV is disgustingly expensive and www.hulu.com has the Daily Show and the Colbert Report for free. I, being the good rabbit ear using American, was terrified by the ominous scroll that my BoobTube would die unless I called toll free gubment number by February something 2009. I received my $40 Bailout Coupon within two weeks. I was told I could wander into any God-fearing American Electronics Retailer and they would take my $40 credit card-like coupon and a $10 dollar bill and hand me a little magic Made In China box and everything would be alright. Does anyone with an IQ over a Baby Palin trust the US government to get anything right? Not me. So five minutes opening a box, two connections to America's Bestest Friend, put batteries in Chinese remote control and POOF, I have stunning, crystal clear, glorious high definition wide screen format television. The Bailout worked. I trusted my government and I will be a pig in poo on football Sunday. AND IT'S FREE BECAUSE IT FLOATS THROUGH THE AIR! Count this voter as a die-hard believer in our new American Socialism. Whoa Amen and God Bless America.

Oh, and when Americans opens up their 401K quarterly statements this week and next, free TV will become very popular and John McCain will curse his fortune for running for President when the stock market loses 35% of its value a month before the election. The Other Bailout, ummmm, not working so good. Woops.

Woops. Make that 40%. Anybody seen GWB lately? If Americans lose half of their retirement savings in one month, an incumbent dogcatcher will lose in an bloody landslide. And it's one thing when Joe Sixpack has to work until he's 94 his two jobs plus pimping ebay beenie baby deals at 3AM, but when rich guys start losing money...not a good time to be a Republican fundraiser. Or an elected Republican. It's going to be a brutal sweep for years to come.


Schadenfreude Tuesday

C. Just as most NASCAR fans secretly wish for a bumper to fly into stands to shear off the melon of the cousin you really don't like anyway, I enjoy political debates for those proverbial cringe moments. Really, who goes to a racetrack to see cars make a left hand turn for three hours? A town hall forum gives Political Schadenfreudeans (note: trademark immediately) fabulous opportunity for tires and windshields to fly off and shred the fleshy parts of any candidate. This metaphor makes more sense after a few beers. Trust me. Will Senator McCain's skull go Scanners tonight? Will Senator Obama accidently burst out an audible "I call bullshit, John."? Tune in.

Riddle me this Batman, where on God's green earth do you find a townhall room full 'undecided voters'? Who are these pathetic mutants who need to ask a question to help the 'decide'? Have they been sequestered in a bomb shelter for two freaking years of non-stop campaigning? "I don't know how I'm going to vote yet, I haven't heard anything yet to help me make up my mind..." This nonsense should be grounds for the revocation of citizenship.

J: I couldn't agree more on "undecided voters". Make up your damn mind already. If you don't know what these two stand for already, then you haven't been paying attention, and thus shouldn't be asking questions at a debate.

My gut feeling is that we might see some of John McCain's legendary temper appear. Unlike the previous debate, there's not going to be as much physical separation between the two, and Johnny Mac might actually look at Barack. This could make him lose it. And, for those of you who didn't know, McCain did not look at his opponent during the first debate. This would lose a high school debater points. I just don't think he was able to look at the young whippersnapper that might keep him out of the Oval Office.

He might surprise me, and keep his cool... but if there's going to be a trainwreck tonight, I think this is the most likely one. It is definitely the most entertaining option. For all of Obama's charisma when giving speeches, he comes across much more as a law professor in debates. Verbal pauses while he tries to figure the most correct phrasing for an answer are annoying, but not amusing. A crochety old man erupting into a rant on-stage? That is potentially comedy gold.

I'm keeping the drinking game rules simple on this one- one drink when McCain smiles and it looks creepy, one drink when Obama refers to his opponent as "John". If McCain calls his opponent "Barack" rather than "Senator Obama", chug. It didn't happen once in the last debate.

C. The height of the candidates is going to add some weirdness, but eventually they'll have to look at each other. J., your simple rules are dangerous. But add Obama or McCain say, "The Economy? Hell if I know, we're screwed." Finish the bottle.



C. It's in the wind. Landslide.

1. Check out all the polling data, the Electoral College map ain't pretty for McCranky and the Avon Lady from Mooseville. http://www.pollster.com/ or 538.com or MSNBC.

2. McCain isn't bothering to campaign on the weekend, puttering around the golf course while his party regulars smell an embarrassment? Publicly bailing on Michigan. Woops.

3. Governor Palin practically hanging (in a smug yet folksy way of course) Obama in effigy as a terrorist sympathizer this weekend at a Colorado event. Desperate and ugly snottiness that McCain supposedly swore off.

4. Massive new voter registration that skew Democrat demographic.

5. The Bailout fallout and Wall Street implosion are making 401K's into 201K's, voters are going to punish the GOP with extreme prejudice.

Enjoy the Saturday Night Live sketches America, the Landslide is brewing up a vicious beating.

J: Dammit, C, you always yell at me for breaking out the early predictions... and now I'm going to turn the tables. The election is still a long way off. A month is a hell of a long time in politics, and... hell, my heart's not in it. I agree with you.

But, for the sake of accuracy, I will say that it's fivethirtyeight.com, and they do a really good job of breaking down the numbers.

I also really don't see McCain's campaign managers getting much work after this race, at least not on a National level. David Plouffe will be the "must-have" Democratic strategist for the next decade. He was smart enough to steal the grass-roots internet organization of Dean in 2004, and the "Speed Kills" approach of Carville in '92. He has had the message out quickly, and his ability to keep everything running through the campaign has kept the Obama message on-topic.

Still, it is a month, and it should get more entertaining from here. Our next stop- tomorrow's drinking game... err... debate.

C. Now that I've opened my big, fat trap, expect Johnny Mac to stroll on stage with Bin Laden's head under his arm with a butter knife in his hand.


The VP Debate

J: Well, tonight's the night- the Vice-Presidential debate between Governor Sarah Palin and Senator Joe Biden. And the spin from both camps is incredible. It's hilarious to watch both camps downplay their candidate's chances while talking up the opponent like they're the second coming of Clarence Darrow.

If nothing else, there is the potential for tremendous humor here.

And, if you haven't seen this, it's worth your time.

C. Snow machine! Snow Machine! Snow Machine!