Tag: Campaign 2008 (Page 1 of 4)

Obama and coal

This week, in my International Security class, we discussed energy and environmental issues like climate change. One of my students asked about President-elect Barack Obama’s plan to “bankrupt the coal industry.”

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin made this charge near the end of the presidential election campaign, based on an interview Obama conducted in January with the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle. Palin charged that the liberal paper withheld this story, even though the paper has had the audio and video on its website all year (and promoted this fact). The right is still pushing this story.

Right-leaning NewsBusters on November 2 offered this transcript of the alleged withheld information:

What I’ve said is that we would put a cap and trade system in place that is as aggressive, if not more aggressive, than anybody else’s out there.

I was the first to call for a 100% auction on the cap and trade system, which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gases emitted would be charged to the polluter. That will create a market in which whatever technologies are out there that are being presented, whatever power plants that are being built, that they would have to meet the rigors of that market and the ratcheted down caps that are being placed, imposed every year.

So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.

While Obama did use the words “coal” and “bankrupt them” together, he also explained in this interview his support for “clean coal” technology. Indeed, the widely quoted comment was provoked when an editor asked Obama about his seemingly inconsistent support for a specific pro-coal bill and his statements that he only supports coal if it is clean.

After claiming that his policies are consistent, Obama immediately started talking about the need to limit greenhouse gases, which would include coal-fired plants. Then, he adds:

“But this notion of no coal, I think, is an illusion. Because the fact of the matter is, is that right now we are getting a lot of our energy from coal. And China is building a coal-powered plant once a week. So what we have to do then is figure out how can we use coal without emitting greenhouse gases and carbon. And how can we sequester that carbon and capture it.”

He also said, “if technology allows us to use coal in a clean way, we should pursue it.”

Ultimately, Obama called for the market to pick winners and losers based on the ability to operate under cap and trade conditions — presumably new technology made affordable by higher energy costs for traditional means of producing energy. Billions of dollars would be generated from the equivalent of a fossil fuel tax, available then to fund new cleaner energy, such as solar, biodiesel, etc. Obama even said that nuclear power could be an option if scientists develop safe waste disposal means.

I’m not optimistic about the prospects for “clean coal,” but we should not enter a new debate on climate change with the assumption that the new President is out to kill the fossil fuel industries.

If you want to watch for yourself, the coal question is just over 25 minutes into the 53 minute interview. The energy portion is 4 or 5 minutes in length.


James Poulos on the future of conservatism

I would be doing our readers a great disservice if I failed to point them to James’ fascinating discussion of the future of the conservative movements after 4 November 2008. A taste:

Politically, on the right, nobody is dead now. Nobody is discredited. Everyone will decide for themselves. The wagons could be circled even tighter. But the herd is being thinned, and it is hard, for instance, to think of exactly why, say, Elizabeth Dole should still be serving in the U.S. Senate. There is nothing wrong with Liddy Dole, of course; but Republicans are going to have to do better than that. Yet the important thing for Republicans to remember is that this would be true even if McCain won. Not idiocy but irrelevance is the dangerous charge. Misplaced emphasis. Which raises a string of important issues.


I never believed that such a day would come

I agree with Charli that McCain gave an amazing speech, but I fear that it is only a small step towards reversing the embers of hate that he, and his campaign, helped stir.

A shield of bulletproof glass, easily visible during Obama’s acceptance speech, provided a stark reminder of the dangers fear and anger yet pose to hope and reconciliation.


Election Results Open Thread 1

7pm in the east, first polls close. Too early to call most key states, but Indiana is too close to call, which is telling, I think.

Consider this an open discussion thread, will update as things happen– I need to go put the kid to bed, so i’ll be back after a rousing Good Night Moon.

Updates throughout the night, below the fold:

7pm One thing to watch for that the MSNBC folks are prattling about (i’m flipping between msnbc and cnn) is African-American turnout. The TV people are hinting that its not just big, but Huge. As in Huge enough to swing NC and VA and put GA in play.

I won’t miss Liddy Dole.

8:10 pm child not cooperative with the whole go to bed routine… I guess he wants to stay up and watch the returns flow in, but alas, at 1.5, is a bit too young for that. MSNBC has PA for Obama, which is huge, because so many of the McCain victory combos depended on winning a blue state. He put a lot of effort into PA, and it doesn’t look like it was even close.

8:50 pm– 1: there is some sort of herd mentality among major network news producers, they all go to essentially the same shot at Grant Park, the same interview with the campaign surrogate, and then the obligatory panel of random folks, some of whom are smart, others of whom are simply gasbags. 2: I wish there was a channel with a big map of county by county results. Take VA– its too close to call because there are no Northern Virginia votes (NOVA). checking out the state board of elections website, Arlington county has 0 votes in, Fairfax has only a small percentage, and Loudoun county is dead even with 20% in. that’s crucial to know because nearly 40% of the state lives in NOVA, the DC suburbs. The key to winning VA is for the D to run up big numbers in NOVA and Richmond, run even in the ex-urbs and have a cushion to stave off the R votes in the rest of the state, the rural areas and military areas of Hampton Roads. That’s the detail you need to really know what’s up with VA.

9:25 Ohio called for Obama. Indeed, that is pretty much game over, as its next to impossible to figure out how McCain finds his 270 without OH. I am still holding out hope for VA.
I think that its important for Obama to ‘flip’ some red states blue, the more he does, the greater the ‘mandate’ he claims, the more he gets us out of this inane red-state / blue state divide, the more he can more of his agenda he can advance, the more sway he has with Congress.
Interesting thought– if Hagan out performs Obama in NC, do we say Obama had coattails for her, or that she had coattails for him?

9:50 I think Obama might squeak out VA. its very tight, but the outstanding vote is largely in Obama territory– Fairfax and Arlington, where Obama should run up huge margins. Way below the polls (which will prompt some bradley effect study for sure), but I think he might flip it, and that makes me excited. Not excited enough to look for a house over there, but certainly puts VA the road to redemption.

10:00 per Rodger’s suggestion (in the comments), its off to Comedy Central, Stewart and Colbert, for some fun, now that the election is pretty much set. The only major mystery of interest for me– does Franken pull it out in MN, which would be awesome because I’d love to see some well written, smart funny Senate floor speeches.

10:25 (I got bored with Steve Forbes on the Daily Show….) On MSNBC, Fineman is saying that Obama is winning FL with a sizable percentage of the Cuban vote. he reported that some R’s did anti-communist, castro-oriented calls to the FL Cuban community, and it doesn’t seem to have worked. This is huge, and it might, just might, allow Obama to do something interesting on Cuba policy. Clinton pandered to the Cuban community there (Libertad Act anyone?) and won the state, then Bush did the same. Obama seems to have fractured that voting block, and won the state without a majority of the Cuban vote. He doesn’t owe them anything, and so maybe he can use this opportunity to do something with Cuba policy. One can hope. In the time it took me to type this post, the other guys are in commercial and I’m back to Stewart. I’m sure you’re so interested in my TV viewing habits….


Breaking: evidence of MASSIVE VOTE FRAUD

Just kidding.

Apparently some Obama voter may have shifted her residency from Florida to New York, despite intending to move back to New York. Brian Faughnan of Red State, however, insinuates that this is evidence of a significant, concerted effort by Obama supporters to steal the election.

Republicans rightly decry some of the more extreme anti-Bush conspiracy theories emanating from the left over the past eight years, but conveniently forget the craziness of the Clinton years–a series of witch hunts driven by an unwillingness to accept the legitimacy of a Democratic administration despite two convincing plurality wins in 1992 and 1996, which culminated in an attempted constitutional coup d’état. If Obama wins, it could get very ugly indeed.


Barack Hussein Obama and the promise of America

Readers of the Duck were privy to only part of a larger Duck-bloggers and Duck-regulars discussion concerning video footage of a McCain rally at Lehigh University.

The discussion included an email missive from Andreas Behnke that I found quite touching. I asked Andreas for permission to post his comments, and he agreed.

As we now approach the final hours of the 2008 Presidential campaign–a contest Obama is far more likely than not to win–I think it an appropriate time to share Andreas’s thoughts:

Wow, that [the video] was fun…

Each and every society has a certain percentage of flotsam and pond scum floating around. That, unfortunately, seems to be inevitable. Their presence should therefore not make anybody embarrassed to be an American, German, Brit, Swede, you name it.
The problem is that the McCain/Palin campaign whipped up this frenzy and gave these cretins a voice and the delusion of relevance. And no, McCain/Palin never said anything “racist” – but successfully allowed these dodos to fill in the gap created by “Who is Obama really?” That is the sickening bit of it all.

As for me, apparently a “European socialist” (European yes, but socialist… nah!), I watch the Daily Show, the Colbert Report, Saturday Night Live… you name it… and envy this country’s ability to deconstruct its own myths and ‘martyrs’ so thoroughly. I don’t think I’ll ever be an American, but it ain’t half bad here. And the next President is going to be one Barack Hussein Obama. It’ll be a while until the British Prime Minister’s name will be Ali Hussein, or the German’s Chancellor’s Mehmed Ozgud.

So cheer up, guys.


When Mavericks Go Rogue

This, SNL’s cold-open with John McCain from this past Saturday, was quite funny. As I mentioned earlier, SNL has done a really good job pointing out the fundamental flaw in the McCain campaign

Its not just that McCain is so tied to Bush, or that he’s a true Maverick–a Republican without money–but that he’s allowed himself to become such an object of satire, so open to ridicule. All of the punch-lines in that sketch are points that McCain has emphasized on his campaign. Indeed, at one point or another, things he’s put as the centerpiece of his message, substituting for substance. And, in every case, the more we learn about each of McCain’s gimmicks–from Sarah Palin to Joe the Plumber–the less appealing they become. When sold on QVC, they seem vacuous and empty and invite the comedy that SNL has been able to produce. At this point, McCain seems to be playing a caricature of himself, and all it took was him on SNL to break the way between farce and reality, merging the two in something looks like a Frank Rich column.

Obama, by contrast, is much more difficult to mock in satire–in part because he’s solid, solid as Barack. In displaying a calm, cool, and collected demeanor, he has seemed less energetic at times, but has also not provided the openings for satire, the point where a small exaggeration, a small quirk, a known penchant, can be turned into a devastating critique. I’m sure, in time, someone will figure out how to do Obama in comedy, but it is telling that in the nearly 2 years of this campaign so far, no one has produced a cutting, insightful, and funny send-up of Obama.

One only hopes that a pending Obama Administration would be as productive as a Gore administration might have been…


The day after tomorrow

• I will stop cycling through the same seven websites all day.

• I will start writing a piece I promised to Culture11 on the foreign-policy challenges facing Obama the next President.

• I will start researching, writing, and copy editing again.

• The Duck of Minvera might see significant content once again.


Do you live in the “real America”?

Remember when Bill Clinton promised to put together a Cabinet that “looks like America”? Then, to his credit, George W. Bush “appointed a more diverse set of top advisers than any president in history.”

Now, however, Governor Sarah Palin defines “real America” in a substantially less inclusive manner:

“We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation.”

As anyone paying attention knows, an unsettling number of Americans think that Barack Obama is a Muslim and a terrorist sympathizer. And now, apparently, a socialist, ready to revive Ronald Reagan’s welfare queens.

Too many people do not add, “not that there’s anything wrong with that” when talking about the Muslim faith. As Dan’s post earlier today revealed, Colin Powell endorsed Senator Barack Obama for president partly because of these unhinged Republican attacks.

Obviously, however, the McCain political team thinks this tactic could work. Otherwise, why would they keep at it?

To investigate Palin’s “real America,” where such attacks are apparently aimed, Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight yesterday put up what must be one of the best blog posts of the year. Go read the whole thing, but this snippet explains what Silver was attempting:

Since her coming out in Dayton, Ohio on August, 29th, Palin has held (or is scheduled to hold) public events in 44 cities according to the Slate.com candidate tracker. These include all events described as “rallies”, “town halls”, “gatherings” or “discussions”, but not things like press availabilities, fundraisers or debates.

I looked at the racial composition of voting-age (18+) population in these 44 cities as according to the 2000 census.

What did Silver find? Who lives in the “real America”? What does it look like?

They are, on average, 83.3 percent non-Hispanic white, 7.5 percent black, 5.2 percent Hispanic, and 4.0 percent “other”. By comparison, the US 18+ population in 2000 was 72.0 percent white, 11.2 percent black, 11.0 percent Hispanic, and 5.9 percent other. Thirty-four of Palin’s 44 cities were whiter than the US average.

Silver demonstrates that host cities of Obama’s events arguably look a lot more like America.

Republicans are not the only guilty parties here. Palin’s words about “real America” remind me a bit too much of some remarks Senator Hillary Clinton made in the primary campaign — and talking heads like Chris Matthews were only too eager to follow that path. There’s nothing wrong with politicians praising the values and beliefs of hard-working Americans, but they are way over the line when they start dividing the country by race, gender, faith, or geography, as if some particular group had a right to claim supremacy over others. This is a “values voter” campaign gone mad.

I think the divisiveness fomented by his opponents stems, at least in part, from the fact that a biracial guy named Barack Hussein Obama is apparently building an unprecedented winning coalition. It does not look quite like the one Al Gore and John Kerry tried to build this decade — nor like the one Bill Clinton put together in 1992 and 1996. Sure, Obama’s Electoral map will likely include all the states Kerry won, plus Gore states New Mexico and Iowa. However, Obama’s map will apparently also include Colorado and Virginia — and may well include some mix of Nevada, Missouri, North Carolina, Florida and Ohio. At one time or another, Obama has shown surprising strength in North Dakota, West Virginia and even Georgia. Nate Silver thinks Arkansas could be moved into play.

If this is an earthquake election, a generational realignment, it may well foretell Democratic successes well into this new century. Or, the election results may merely reflect the unique candidacy of Obama. America’s young people favor him by a wide margin and are apparently poised to vote in unprecedented numbers. Obama is doing especially well with the college-educated and more young Americans have attended college and obtained degrees than their parents and grandparents did. Some pundits are discussing a “reverse Bradley” effect, whereby Obama may outperform his polling numbers in states with large African American populations. He’s poised to get a very large share of the Hispanic vote.

Have Palin, Clinton, and Matthews been saying that these are not “real Americans,” not “hard-working” Americans? Are these Americans instead socialists symps, lining up to get their piece of new welfare action?

I don’t buy it and the polls suggest that most voters don’t either.

Yet, I’m not prepared to declare, as is commenter EL that “Soon the Republican party will belong exclusively to fundamentalist Christians.” However, it does seem as if Barack Obama is trying to significantly increase the size of the Democratic coalition — defining a new, more inclusive “real America.” Richard Nixon’s southern strategy is still bringing electoral votes to the Republican Party, but the possible defection of Virginia and North Carolina demonstrates that 2008 may genuinely be a change election.


“Is there something wrong with some seven year-old Muslim-American kid believing he or she could be President?”

Forget Powell’s endorsement of Obama. The most noteworthy part of his remarks was his public denunciation of those members of the GOP who have engaged in a sickening pattern of Muslim-baiting over the last year or so.

Powell’s short, but powerful, defense of Islamic Americans earned back, at least for me, a lot of the prestige he squandered during the campaign to sell the Iraq War.

His remarks on the subject start around 4:30.


Quick Debate Thoughs

I actually enjoyed last night’s debate much more so than the previous three. Part of it could be that I watched with a real-live crowd of college-aged students instead of by myself at home with only my minuscule live-blog audience. But mostly, I think, it was because it was, finally, more of an actual debate and less of a set of parallel talking points. The two actually had to speak to each other and were given sufficient time to articulate a campaign position, criticize the opponent, and then respond directly to that criticism. It made for a much more lively show.

Overall, I thought that both candidates boxed their corner well on the issues. I actually like it when they each go after each other’s health care plan or tax plan, as you can see that there are clear differences between them on key issues.

The best question was when Schieffer asked the obvious: you’ve each called the other nasty names (and proceeded to list them all), will you say that to his face here live on national TV? Like Nate, I think this is where McCain started to lose the contest, however I do think that Obama’s response here was very important in allowing McCain to over-play his hand. After McCain’s missive about not enough town hall meetings and negative advertising, Obama replied:

And there is nothing wrong with us having a vigorous debate like we’re having tonight about health care, about energy policy, about tax policy. That’s the stuff that campaigns should be made of.

The notion, though, that because we’re not doing town hall meetings that justifies some of the ads that have been going up, not just from your own campaign directly, John, but 527s and other organizations that make some pretty tough accusations, well, I don’t mind being attacked for the next three weeks.

What the American people can’t afford, though, is four more years of failed economic policies. And what they deserve over the next four weeks is that we talk about what’s most pressing to them: the economic crisis.

Sen. McCain’s own campaign said publicly last week that, if we keep on talking about the economic crisis, we lose, so we need to change the subject.

And I would love to see the next three weeks devoted to talking about the economy, devoted to talking about health care, devoted to talking about energy, and figuring out how the American people can send their kids to college.

I think this was a very effective way to rise above the attacks, return the focus to “issues” and allowed McCain to make himself look angry.

Down hill from there, according to all the insta-polls, McCain clearly lost.
Now, I’m not totally sold on that–to a certain extent, I think these debates are solidifying existing leanings, and more people lean Obama than McCain, so more will go for Obama’s performance than McCain’s.

But I also think that McCain doomed himself with these debates in that he forgot (or maybe Obama remembered) that “winners” (in the political narrative sense) are determined only about a third by actual substance. People also listen for tone, and watch body language. Obama appears clam, respectful, dignified. McCain is blinking incredibly and making astonishing faces in reaction to Obama’s statements, as if he’s shocked, shocked to hear that Obama differs with him. That image matters, and when you have a split screen, as we did in our venue, that speaks almost louder than the other candidate’s answers.

Game, Set, Match Obama.


Oh, wait. There’s a debate on!

The third “debate” turns out to be an actual debate. Other than that, no live blogging tonight. Had to finish a midterm for one of my classes.

I may post some general impressions after the debate. My gut reaction now is that McCain isn’t pushing a consistent line of attack. In consequence, his digs at Obama are rebounding to the latter’s benefit by making him look cool, reasonable, and collected.

In some respects, this may prove a real problem for McCain, insofar as it gives Obama a platform to answer the least persuasive ones (ACORN, Ayers) head on. At best, the McCain campaign can hope that the news organizations replay these moments enough to drive them into the consciousness of people who don’t watch cable news channels.

That being said, McCain is much better prepared for this debate than the earlier two. No “Mr. Puddles” moments, but that “Joe the Plumber” thing is going to get him into trouble when SNL and the Daily Show take on this debate.

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