2008 - %3, October

Palin-McCain: The Skirmishing Begins

| Sat Oct. 25, 2008 2:32 PM EDT

PALIN-McCAIN: THE SKIRMISHING BEGINS....Yesterday I mentioned that I was looking forward to the (anonymous! on background!) war that was sure to erupt after the election between Sarah Palin and John McCain. Palin, after all, is not exactly famous for standing by her mentors in their hour of need. But guess what? I don't have to wait until after the election after all! Ben Smith reports:

Palin supporters, inside the campaign and out, said Palin blames her handlers for a botched rollout and a tarnished public image — even as others in McCain's camp blame the pick of the relatively inexperienced Alaska governor, and her public performance, for McCain's decline.

"She's lost confidence in most of the people on the plane," said a senior Republican who speaks to Palin, referring to her campaign jet. He said Palin had begun to "go rogue" in some of her public pronouncements and decisions. "I think she'd like to go more rogue," he said.

...."The campaign as a whole bought completely into what the Washington media said — that she's completely inexperienced," said a close Palin ally outside the campaign who speaks regularly to the candidate.

"Her strategy was to be trustworthy and a team player during the convention and thereafter, but she felt completely mismanaged and mishandled and ill advised," the person said. "Recently, she's gone from relying on McCain advisers who were assigned to her to relying on her own instincts."

Etc. etc.

Read the whole thing, which I take as just the barest teaser of the bloodshed that's gong to erupt between McCain and Palin loyalists after the election. My prediction: they're both going to come out of it with their careers in ruins. The only difference is that Palin probably won't realize it for a while.

UPDATE: More exciting skirmishing here! "She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone," says a McCain adviser. "She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else. Also, she is playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party. Remember: Divas trust only unto themselves, as they see themselves as the beginning and end of all wisdom."

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Financial Meltdown Watch

| Sat Oct. 25, 2008 2:12 PM EDT

FINANCIAL MELTDOWN WATCH....A while back I was wondering who was left to bail out, now that we'd announced plans to take care of big banks, little banks, investment banks, and Fannie and Freddie. Insurance companies? Hedge funds? Today we learn the answer:

The Treasury Department is dramatically expanding the scope of its bailout of the financial system with a plan to take ownership stakes in the nation's insurance companies, signaling new concerns about a sector of the economy whose troubles until now have been overshadowed by the banking industry, government and industry sources said.

Anybody else?

The availability of U.S. government cash in the middle of a global credit squeeze is drawing requests from insurance firms, auto makers, state governments and transit agencies. While Treasury intended for the program to apply broadly, the growing requests could put a strain on the $700 billion, a sum that only last month stunned lawmakers.

Meanwhile, in the spirit of the world catching a cold when America sneezes, emerging markets, which had almost nothing to do with causing the financial crisis, are going to pay an even steeper price than us:

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng fell 8.3 percent to 12,618. Markets in India, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines were also down sharply as investors bailed from emerging markets around the world to cut their exposure to risky assets and meet redemption needs at home. On Thursday, key indices in Russia, Brazil and Mexico also fell.

"Funds are pouring out of emerging markets," said Linus Yip, a strategist at First Shanghai Securities in Hong Kong. "A lot of money that flowed into the region during the last five years from the U.S. and Europe is being cashed out. The global crisis has come to Asia."

It's sort of like global warming: we cause the problem, but poor countries suffer the brunt of the consequences.

'Yes on 8' Blackmail Won't Stop Corporate Opposition

| Fri Oct. 24, 2008 6:55 PM EDT

In case you haven't heard, right-wingers and religious zealots have worked themselves into a tizzy supporting Proposition 8, which would change the California constitution to say marriage is only between a man and a woman. There are even reports that Yes on 8 folks sent threatening letters to 30 companies who donated to No on 8. In the letter, Yes on 8 said that if the companies didn't give them the same amount of money, they would publish their names.

Obviously not fearing a large-scale boycott from the Mormon Church, Steve Jobs and company have spoken out against Proposition 8. From Apple's home page:

Apple is publicly opposing Proposition 8 and making a donation of $100,000 to the No on 8 campaign. Apple was among the first California companies to offer equal rights and benefits to our employees' same-sex partners, and we strongly believe that a person's fundamental rights — including the right to marry — should not be affected by their sexual orientation. Apple views this as a civil rights issue, rather than just a political issue, and is therefore speaking out publicly against Proposition 8.

Other major corporations who have publicly opposed Proposition 8 include Google, PG&E, Levi Strauss, and Clear Channel. If Yes on 8 folks want to organize a boycott, they'll have to do it without Google's search engine, Apple computers, or PG&E's electricity and phone services. The No on 8 have no similar technological limitations, and have even issued a cheeky set of "I'm a Mac; I'm a PC"-style commercials.

—Steve Aquino and Jen Phillips

eBay to Ban Sale of Ivory After Damning Report

| Fri Oct. 24, 2008 6:30 PM EDT

elephant.jpgeBay announced this week that it would ban all sales of elephant ivory on its site after the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) reported (.pdf) that eBay auctions account for nearly two-thirds of the global trade in endangered species.

The animal-rights group tracked 7,000 online listings in 11 countries, cross-referencing the names of animals on endangered species lists with product keywords like trophy, oil, claw, and rug. The amount of trade in the US, they said, was ten times higher than the next-highest countries, China and the UK. Nearly 75 percent of trades were in elephant ivory; another 20 percent were exotic birds. Primates, cats, and other animals made up the difference.

Part of what's so insidious about online trading is how difficult it is to police. The sheer volume of auctions on big sites like eBay, where close to $2,000 worth of goods changes hands every second, makes it hard to verify every seller's claims. So, for example, a seller who claims his ivory earrings are "pre-ban"—made from ivory obtained before the US banned such imports in 1989—covers his back legally, but may not have documentation to back up his claims.

Morrissey Recording New Album, Writing Autobiography, Holding Baby

| Fri Oct. 24, 2008 6:07 PM EDT

mojo-photo-morrisseybaby.jpgVia Towleroad comes word that 49-year-old singer Morrissey will release his 9th solo album, to be called Year of Refusal (or maybe Years of Refusal?), early next year, calling it his "strongest" album yet in an interview with BBC Radio 1's Janice Long. (That's apparently the cover art to the right.) Perhaps more intriguingly, the outspoken lyricist is writing his autobiography, partially to clear up some of the "silly and really extreme" misquotes attributed to him over the years. What could he mean? As the Guardian points out:

Like when Morrissey allegedly announced that he wished George W Bush dead? Or when he allegedly wrote that he "[understood] why fur-farmers and so-called laboratory scientists are repaid with violence"? Or when he allegedly told NME that "the higher the influx [of immigrants] into England the more the British identity disappears"?

Oh yeah, maybe those. The Guardian also observes that Mozza's Wikipedia page is more than one-quarter controversy, including such topics as "Music Industry Feuds," "Accusations of Racism," and "Arguments with Political Leaders." God bless him.

After the jump: videos, videos, videos.

Friday YouTube Roundup: Silliest Political Videos of the Week

| Fri Oct. 24, 2008 5:18 PM EDT

Is it just me, or has a kind of eye-of-the-hurricane feeling descended over the presidential campaigns? While waves of economic chaos build around us, the competing teams at the center seem almost in a sort of stasis, with Obama holding his position and McCain unable to break out of his. Inside this calm oasis, the colorful flowers of ridiculous YouTube videos may flourish, and indeed, this week has seen quite a bloom.

Vlad and Friend Boris – "Song for Sarah"

If you've wondered what it's like to be on the receiving end of the Palin Gaze from across the Bering Strait, well, a couple of Russians are here to tell us all about it, and it turns out they're gazing right back. Longingly. Could this video be a Borat-style hoax? The Russian words in the title seem to be straight from a phrasebook: "Very nice. Excellent. And you? Not bad." Plus the misspellings in the subtitles ("teliscop"?) are a bit farfetched, although I do remember the now-demolished Hotel Rossia on Red Square had a large permanent metal sign in English in its lobby that spelled "is" with a "z" in every instance, so who knows.

Oh so many more after the jump.

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Friday Cat Blogging - 24 October 2008

| Fri Oct. 24, 2008 3:45 PM EDT

FRIDAY CATBLOGGING....I had something new and exciting planned for today, but a combination of technical problems and feline noncooperation scotched my best efforts. Maybe next week.

But things turned out OK anyway. Domino is taking the week off because I ended up snapping this picture of Inkblot at the last minute (i.e., about an hour ago) and I thought it deserved more prominent treatment than usual. Magnificent, isn't he? Mother Jones is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, which means I'm not allowed to endorse candidates for office, but my reading of the law suggests that this applies only to human candidates. So consider this Inkblot's official campaign portrait. That's a face you can trust to get tough with Wall Street, get tough with Ahmadinewhoever, and get especially tough on our nation's growing problem of barking suburban dogs. Inkblot '08!

By the way, if you're in the Orange County area, I'll be on a panel today at UC Irvine that features "conversations among important contemporary bloggers." Unfortunately, Ezra Klein had to cancel, so they got me instead. My session is at 3:45. Details here and here if you want to drop by.

Like a Swiss Watch

| Fri Oct. 24, 2008 3:42 PM EDT

LIKE A SWISS WATCH....Let's summarize the past couple of days: (a) Politico reports that La Palin has spent $150,000 on campaign outfits, (b) John McCain's brother calls 911 to complain about a traffic jam and then curses at the operator for telling him to get off the line, (c) the New York Times reports that Palin also spent $30,000 or so on hair and makeup over a period of two weeks, and (d) a white woman who claimed she was attacked by a black Obama supporter admits that the whole thing was a hoax.

But I guess this is no big deal because the McCain campaign was running so smoothly it could afford a few minor glitches like this, right?

Let the Defenestrations Begin

| Fri Oct. 24, 2008 2:18 PM EDT

LET THE DEFENESTRATIONS BEGIN....Politico reports on what's going on behind the scenes in Republican circles:

With despair rising even among many of John McCain's own advisers, influential Republicans inside and outside his campaign are engaged in an intense round of blame-casting and rear-covering — much of it virtually conceding that an Election Day rout is likely.

...."If you really want to see what 'going negative' is in politics, just watch the back-stabbing and blame game that we're starting to see," said Mark McKinnon, the ad man who left the campaign after McCain wrapped up the GOP primary. "And there's one common theme: Everyone who wasn't part of the campaign could have done better."

"The cake is baked," agreed a former McCain strategist. "We're entering the finger-pointing and positioning-for-history part of the campaign. It's every man for himself now."

I am so looking forward to this. Is this schadenfreude? Or does that require at least a veneer of pretending that you're not really taking pleasure in the misfortunes of others? I'm not sure. But I'm looking forward to it anyway.

And you know the part I'm really looking forward to? Sarah Palin's role in all this. I expect her to rip McCain absolutely to shreds. On background, of course, but it will be no less vicious for that. Her future, such as it is, lies with the wingnut rump of the party, and she knows what her audience wants: John McCain's blood. And lots of it. They never liked him in the first place, and I expect them to be howling for his head on a platter starting at about 8:01 pm EST on November 4th.

You Are What You Drive

| Fri Oct. 24, 2008 1:59 PM EDT

YOU ARE WHAT YOU DRIVE....That latest news from the Kelley Blue Book people:

McCain receives the highest support from full-size truck (66 percent), full-size SUV (61 percent) and luxury SUV (61 percent) owners. Obama leads McCain among luxury station wagon (59 percent), station wagon and sport wagon (55 percent), hatchback (52 percent) and luxury crossover vehicle (52 percent) owners. Among owners of hybrid vehicles, Obama leads with 48 percent of the preferences, nine points more than McCain.

Among brands, McCain is popular with owners of GMC trucks and Chevrolets, clearly part of real America. Obama is popular with owners of Minis, Subarus, and Saabs, obviously denizens of latte-sipping faux America.