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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Politics links.

* The NSA has been shamelessly spying on people they knew had nothing to do with terrorism. More at Washington Monthly. Why is nobody in jail over this?

* Matt has a flashback back to 2004 to argue that thinking we would win back them is nothing like thinking we're going to win now.

* Will a reverse Bradley effect benefit Obama? Maybe, but it's certain that corrupt voter-roll tampering will once again help the Republicans. Why is nobody in jail over this?

* You can only steal a close election. West Virginia is a tossup?

* The GOP is grumbling in Nevada and Virginia.

* Can the Dems hit 60 in the Senate? Ezra Klein look at the possibilities, while Matt Yglesias says 59 isn't really all that different from 61. (Maybe, but I'd still like 61.)

* What are the candidates transition teams like? Did you just say one of them doesn't have one?

* Obama gives his most direct statement on Ayers yet.

Obama "had assumed" from Bill Ayers' stature in Chicago, he told the Philadelphia-based Michael Smerconish, that Ayers had been "rehabilitated" since his 1960s crimes.

In the interview, which was taped this afternoon and will air tomorrow, and which you can listen to above, Obama recalled moving back to Chicago after law school, and becoming involved in civic life there.

"The gentleman in question, Bill Ayers, is a college professor, teaches education at the University of Illinois," he said. "That's how i met him -- working on a school reform project that was funded by an ambassador and very close friend of Ronald Reagan's" along with "a bunch of conservative businessmen and civic leaders."

"Ultimately, I ended up learning about the fact that he had engaged in this reprehensible act 40 years ago, but I was eight years old at the time and I assumed that he had been rehabilitated," Obama said.
* And George Packer, touring rural Ohio in the lead-up to the election, writes up his experiences there in the New Yorker.
Dave Herbert was a stocky, talkative building contractor in an Ohio State athletic jersey. At thirty-eight, he considerably lowered the average age in Bonnie’s. “I’m self-employed,” he said. “I can’t afford to be a Democrat.” Herbert was a devoted viewer of Fox News and talked in fluent sound bites about McCain’s post-Convention “bounce” and Sarah Palin’s “executive experience.” At one point, he had doubted that Obama stood a chance in Glouster. “From Bob and Pete’s generation there are a lot of racists—not out-and-out, but I thought there was so much racism here that Obama’d never win.” Then he heard a man who freely used the “ ‘n’ word” declare his support for Obama: “That blew my theory out of the water.”

A maintenance man at the nearby high school, who declined to give his name, said that he had been undecided until McCain selected Palin to be his running mate, which swung his support to Obama.

“So you’re a sexist more than a racist,” Herbert joked.

“I just think the guy Obama picked would do better if he got assassinated than McCain’s if he died of frickin’ old age in office,” the maintenance man said.

Four women of retirement age were sitting at the next table. All of them spoke warmly of Palin. “She’d fit right in with us,” Greta Jennice said. “We should invite her over.” None had a good word to say about Obama. “I think he’s a radical,” a white-haired woman who wouldn’t give her name said. “The church he went to, the people he associated with. You don’t see the media digging into that.”

“I don’t know anyone who’s for Obama,” said Jennice, a Democrat who supported Hillary Clinton and who won’t vote in November.

“If they are, they don’t say it, because it would be unpopular,” an elderly former teacher named Marcella said. That had not been true of Bill Clinton, Al Gore, or John Kerry, she added.

“I think the party-line Democrats are having a hard time with Obama,” Bobbie Dunham, a retired fourth-grade teacher, told me. When I asked if Obama’s health-care plan wouldn’t be a good thing for people in Glouster, she said, “I’ll believe it when I see it. If it’s actually happening, I’d say that’s good.” But she and the others had far more complaints about locals freeloading off public assistance than about the health-insurance industry and corporations. Dunham declared her intention to write in a vote for either Snoopy or T. Boone Pickens. “I’m not going to vote for a Republican—they’ve had their chance for the last eight years and they’ve screwed it up,” she said. “But I really just don’t trust Obama. He only says half-truths. He calls himself a Christian, but he only became one to run for office. He calls himself a black, but he’s two-thirds Arab.”

I asked where she had learned that.

“On the Internet.”