Blogs

Bush "Came Into Office on Third Base and Stole Second"

| Wed Aug. 27, 2008 1:47 AM EDT

Second line of the night:

You know, it was once said of the first George Bush that he was born on third base and thought he'd hit a triple. Well, with the 22 million new jobs and the budget surplus Bill Clinton left behind, George W. Bush came into office on third base, and then he stole second.

—Ohio Governor Ted Strickland in a speech tonight at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.

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Quote of the Day

| Wed Aug. 27, 2008 1:46 AM EDT

QUOTE OF THE DAY....It's a new day (barely), so I get a new quote. This one is from Jared Bernstein, after reading the Census Bureau income report that I blogged about earlier:

Trickle-down economics died yesterday morning at 10AM. The cause of death was a data release from the US Census Bureau, but trickle-down had been ailing from lack of empirical support for decades. Also known as "supply-side economics," trickle-down was the love child of Ronald Reagan, Arthur Laffer, and Jude Wanniski. It is survived by Larry Kudlow and Co., and the editorial page of the Wall St. Journal.

My earlier post on the subject is here.

Hillary Clinton's Music Strikes a Minor Chord

| Wed Aug. 27, 2008 1:16 AM EDT

mojo-photo-hillary.jpgWhile Senator Hillary Clinton's speech tonight at the Democratic National Convention in Denver struck an energetic, unifying tone, the music used in her tribute video and walk-on offered an interesting counterpoint. The video, narrated by Chelsea and played before her speech, kicked off brightly and energetically, with a couple of rock tracks that were considered edgy when they first came out but have since settled into the classic-rock pantheon. First we heard The Kinks' "You Really Got Me," which is based entirely around rising, pulsing major chords, in the upbeat "Louie Louie" style of the time. Then we segued into Lenny Kravitz' "Are You Gonna Go My Way," a track whose funky minor chords in the verses give way to celebratory major chords in the chorus. Next up, Tom Petty's "American Girl," whose chorus kicks off with major chords but then steps briefly into melancholy territory, with a few minor chords expressing a certain nostalgia.

Polar Bears Found Swimming 60 Miles Offshore

| Wed Aug. 27, 2008 1:04 AM EDT

800px-Polar_bear_arctic.JPG

An aerial survey has recently found at least nine polar bears swimming in open water far off Alaska. One was at least 60 miles from shore. All could have difficulty making it back to land and are at risk of drowning, particularly if bad weather strikes.

"To find so many polar bears at sea at one time is extremely worrisome because it could be an indication that as the sea ice on which they live and hunt continues to melt, many more bears may be out there facing similar risk," said Geoff York, polar bear coordinator for the World Wildlife Fund. "Polar bears and their cubs are being forced to swim longer distances to find food and habitat."

The discovery of the nine bears at sea came as the US Minerals Management Service was conducting marine surveys in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas in advance of potential offshore oil development. In May, the US Department of Interior listed polar bears as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. However, the state of Alaska has opposed the listing and has sued the federal government over its decision to list the bear.

Professor Richard Steiner of the University of Alaska's Marine Advisory Program said: "The bottom line here is that polar bears need sea ice, sea ice is decaying, and the bears are in very serious trouble. For any people who are still non-believers in global warming and the impacts it is having in the Arctic, this should answer their doubts once and for all."

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent, lecturer, and 2008 winner of the Kiriyama Prize and the John Burroughs Medal Award.

A Clear Message from Hillary: It's About Obama, Not Me

| Wed Aug. 27, 2008 12:49 AM EDT

The only question was this: would there be a hint of resentment or reluctance in her speech, any sign of holding back? But Hillary Clinton, on the second night of the Democratic convention and in a much-anticipated speech, offered a loud and clear message to her supporters: get behind Barack Obama. In the opening moments of her speech, she identified herself as a "a proud supporter of Barack Obama" and declared,

I haven't spent the past 35 years in the trenches advocating for children, campaigning for universal health care, helping parents balance work and family, and fighting for women's rights at home and around the world...to see another Republican in the White House.

No ambiguity there.

Prior to the speech, a parlor game for the politerati assembled in Denver was to trade gossip and rumors indicating that the Clintons might not be fully with the elect-Obama program. A prominent Obama supporter said she had heard that the Clinton speech would be "bad for us." A reporter said that he had heard that a top Clinton aide was trash-talking Obama to other reporters. This all fed the only narrative of conflict at the convention: the Clintons versus Obama. But right before the speech, Joe Lockhart, who was a press secretary for President Bill Clinton, said to me that Hillary Clinton would put this subplot to rest.

The Speeches Before Clinton: Warner Bad, Strickland Good, Schweitzer Awesome

| Wed Aug. 27, 2008 12:43 AM EDT

schwzt_warner.jpg The relevance of the speeches that came before Hillary Clinton, who will surely get the lion's share of the coverage tonight and tomorrow, is mainly felt among insiders. Democratic Party officials and politicians get a look at how their peers perform on a national stage; the political press gets to see who deserves buzz in conversations about future stars.

That said, there were some genuinely interesting people at the podium tonight. Ted Strickland, the governor of Ohio, and Brian Schweitzer, the governor of Montana, were two such people. Unfortunately, Mark Warner, the former governor of Virginia and a current Senate candidate in that state, was not. Warner painted himself as a bizarro Obama. Both Warner and Obama came from hard-luck circumstances, both made themselves into superstars by working hard and taking advantage of the opportunities for advancement that only America affords. But Warner's meteoric rise was in business — he has made hundreds of millions through early investments in cell phones — while Obama's was in politics. And the speech was heavy on "Yes, We Can" enthusiasm. Warner was a pragmatic governor who worked frequently with Republicans in Virginia; he has stressed throughout his career that he cares about ideas that work, not ideas that originate on his side of the aisle. But for all this resonance with Obama and his story, the speech was underwhelming. It lacked a unifying theme and any rhetorical flourish or rhythm.

And that, ultimately, is why even though Warner likely has the same presidential ambitions as Obama, he would likely be a very different national leader. Obama leads through the sheer force of his personality. Warner has built his immense popularity in Virginia through being an extremely able technocrat. He's effective, not sexy.

Perhaps Warner was doomed from the start. He had the hardest task at the convention — deliver the keynote four years after Barack Obama delivered one of most memorable keynotes in recent political history, and on top of that, speak in the shadow of Hillary Clinton.

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Quote of the Day

| Wed Aug. 27, 2008 12:18 AM EDT

QUOTE OF THE DAY....From Michael Dukakis, in an interview with Katie Couric where he described George Bush's tenure as "the worst national administration in my lifetime":

"Look, I owe the American people an apology. If I had beaten the old man you'd of never heard of the kid and you wouldn't be in this mess. So it's all my fault and I feel that very, very strongly. So this is an important election for us. Let me tell 'ya."

Hillary Clinton Followup

| Wed Aug. 27, 2008 12:15 AM EDT

HILLARY CLINTON FOLLOWUP....Hillary, as we all know, isn't a naturally great speaker, but she did good tonight. She gave a great speech that pumped up the crowd, told her supporters in no uncertain terms to vote for Obama, and included an attack line that even my wife thought was pretty zingy (rough, from memory):

"It's fitting that John McCain and George Bush will be meeting in the Twin Cities next week, because it's getting pretty hard to tell them apart."

A pretty good job, I'd say. As usual, I have no idea how your average couch potato is going to react to it, but I liked it.

Hillary Clinton

| Tue Aug. 26, 2008 10:52 PM EDT

HILLARY CLINTON....Ezra Klein on Hillary Clinton's upcoming convention speech:

For what it's worth, my hunch is Clinton will own the convention. What she needs to do in this speech is so easy and so obvious and will be greeted with such gratitude by the Democratic Party and such rapturous coverage by the media that it's almost inconceivable that she'll pass up the opportunity to be the hero.

I agree, and I'll be shocked if she does anything else. She is going to praise Barack Obama to the skies and rip John McCain several new bodily orifices. There's just no way she's dumb enough to do anything else.

UPDATE: Yep, she came through with flying colors.

Mark Warner

| Tue Aug. 26, 2008 10:46 PM EDT

MARK WARNER....I am distinctly underwhelmed so far. How about you?