Saturday, November 29, 2008

Must Reads

Joe Conason: Obama's Shrewd Choices

Robert Pear, NY Times: Bush Aides Rush to Enact a Safety Rule Obama Opposes

Ceci Connelly, Washington Post: US Health Care -'Not Getting What We Pay For'

LA Times Accuses Obama of "Small Donor Myth"

Andrew Malcolm of the LA Times thinks he's caught Obama in a red handed lie. I think it's an inane false argument.

Everybody knows how President-elect Barack Obama's amazing campaign money machine was dominated by several million regular folks sending in hard-earned amounts under $200, a real sign of his broadbased grassroots support.

Except, it turns out, that's not really true.

In fact, Obama's base of small donors was almost exactly the same percent as George W. Bush's in 2004 -- Obama had 26% and the great Republican Satan 25%. Obviously, this is unacceptable to current popular thinking.
The study Malcolm is referring to counts any donation under $200 as a "small donation." And of course, as per federal law you are not allowed to contribute more than $4,600 to any campaign ($2,300 each for the primary and the general elections). They are looking at total donations and not individual donations. Now I consider myself a small donor, there is no doubt about that. I did not and probably won't ever max out at $4,600. Hell, I didn't even break $500 let alone the $1,000 that would have me considered a "large" donor, but I did break the $200 mark which puts me in a second category which Malcolm doesn't characterize in his post.

Now I don't know about you, but I think the whole point of "small" donations and the organization it took the Obama campaign to fine tune the donation process was the fact that small donors can be repeat contributors over the course of the campaign without causing too much of a burden for those who chose to donate again. I was a five time donor but I most likely would have given less if required to make a one-time large payment. It was a slow bleed instead of a major bloodletting, if you will. And that was fine with me - I was in a position to do so.

But in his article, Malcolm (who I am assuming is a Republican judging solely on his sarcastic characterization of Bush as the "great Republican Satan") is mixing percentages and actual donations. That's because the study does the same:
"Obama received about 80% more money from large donors (cumulative contributions of at least $1,000) than from small donors. "
Well... yeah. Fewer large donors are going to generate more money than a larger number of small donors. So now I'm going to play semantics with their numbers and actually come out with a more truthful result.

If you take what the Obama campaign said was the average donation from a small donor (some estimates were anywhere from $92 to $103 off the top of my head) and what the study in question claims the low end of the large donor category is ($1,000) then it's a ratio of about 10 to 1 to equate the monies. Of course large donors will account for more money. But how about the donors stuck in the middle like me who donated anywhere between $200 and $999? They accounted for 27% of donors according to the study.

So 53% of all Obama donors gave $999 or less and 47% gave $1,000 or more. Compare that with McCain's numbers: under $1,000 - 41%, $1,000 or more - 59%. And now let's look at the individual contributions:
Obama: Under $1,000 - 67%. Over $1,000 - 33%
McCain: Under $1,000 - 47%. Over $1,000 - 53%

You can play with these numbers all day, but the fact remains that overall, small donations whether one time or multiple accounted for more of Obama's total campaign finances than did the large donation no matter how studies or conservatives at the LA Times try to skew the numbers in order to cast doubt on the President-elect.

And the Obama campaign agrees:
The Obama team rejects the fundamental hypothesis of the study. If you were a donor who saved up to donate $20 to the campaign every couple months over the course of two years, an aide says, and all of those contributions eventually added up to more than $200, that doesn't mean you’re not a small dollar donor.
It's time that people like Andrew Malcolm and Jake Tapper join in the discourse on how to reverse the craptacular performance of the Bush administration and stop trying to lick the wounds of a huge Republican loss with semantic numbers games. Get used to the phrase "President Obama." He won. Get over it and move on.

'Tis The Season

When are 5am "door buster" sales going to be outlawed? Doesn't this seem to happen every year? The crowd at the Valley Stream, Long Island WalMart literally ripped the doors off the hinges to get in and shop on the morning after Thanksgiving. The store owners should be held responsible for negligent homicide.

There are a couple of easy ways to fix this.

1 - Beef up security.

2 - People were lining up at 9pm the night before. It's easy to hand out wristbands with numbers on them and then shoppers can go home for the evening. Your wristband determines what time you can return and enter the store in an orderly fashion to shop. Is that so hard?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Hope you all enjoy the day. I am catching a 6am flight to Cincinnati to visit the in-laws for the day and coming back Friday evening, so posting may be light... unless something pisses me off.

Happy Turkey Day... except for the turkeys, of course.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

T Minus 56 Days

"I believe that, as quickly as possible, young cows ought to be allowed to go across out border. [...] There's a bureaucracy involved and I readily concede we've got one. I don't know if you've got bureaucracy here in Canada or not, but we've got one in America, and there are a series of rules that have to be met in order for us to be able to allow the trafficking of cows back and forth."

- Discussing the Mad Cow Disease scare - Ottawa, Canada, November 2004

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy 2nd Anniversary... me! I just realized that two years ago today, I started Broadway Carl's Blog-O-Mania™ with my first post after watching Richard Dreyfuss discuss civics on Real Time With Bill Maher. Little did I know that two years later I'd still be posting away (1,395 including this one).

I'll never forget that civics lesson. And although there have been times I've felt "blogger burnout," and thought that maybe I need to stop, I know I'll continue to post, hopefully with the help of friends soon, but I won't let this blog die before its time.

Stop Digging, FCC

The first rule when you're in a hole is to stop digging.

The FCC and it's Chair, Kevin Martin are going to the Supreme Court in an attempt to reverse the 3rd Circuit Court's decision that they "acted arbitrarily and capriciously" in fining CBS $550,000 when Janet Jackson bared her boobie during Super Bowl XXXVIII.

That was almost five fucking years ago! Give it up, FCC.

Now Will She Shut Up?

Looks like crack ho Ann Coulter got beat up by her pimp.

If the New York Post's Page Six report is true, Coulter broke her jaw and her mouth is wired shut:
WE HEAR...THAT although we didn't think it would be possible to silence Ann Coulter, the leggy reactionary broke her jaw and the mouth that roared has been wired shut...

Do you think she'll finally shut the fuck up now? Yeah... me neither.

(H/T HuffPo)

Bush Hate

Is it wrong that I hate George Bush so much, that even in the case of him speaking live right now to welcome home troops coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, I can't take it and change the channel?

Even now, he's on in the other room and I can hear that the "evildoers" rhetoric and the "war on terrorism" bullshit sounds like he pulled an old speech out of the archives from 2004! And we all know it's a cheap ass photo op, but the bullshit continues.

Fuck you, George. Oh, and guess what? The correlation remains that when he speaks, the stock market goes down. He's the Schleprock of Wall Street.

Mike Daisey

I am fortunate enough to have a lovely and caring wife who, when hearing from a colleague at work rave about a show he caught at Joe's Pub at the Public Theatre a couple of weeks ago, thought it would be my cup of tea and bought tickets.

We had a nice dinner, a good bottle of wine and watched Mike Daisey perform his one man show, If You See Something, Say Something.

From his website:

In this groundbreaking monologue, Mike Daisey tackles a story at the heart of our world today: the surprising, secret history of the Department of Homeland Security. This is woven together with the untold story of the father of the neutron bomb—called “the perfect capitalist weapon” for the way it kills civilians while leaving cities and industries intact—and a pilgrimage to the Trinity blast site, where atomic fire rewrote history a half a century ago and ushered in an age of American supremacy. Combining damning fact and searing personal history, Daisey takes us on a journey through the dark heart of America, in search of answers for what it means to be secure, and the price we are willing to pay for it.

It was an amazing performance. Daisey is a master storyteller and kept us riveted for a hour and fifty minutes without an intermission. Just Daisey at a desk, interweaving the story of his trip to Los Alamos, the site of the Trinity blast, and the inventor of the neutron bomb Sam Cohen and his friend turned adversary Herman Khan.

Daisey is playing at Joe's Pub through November 30th, and if you get the chance, you shouldn't miss it.

You can also read his blog here.

(Correction: a previous incarnation of this post said the show was an hour and ten minutes long. It was actually a little short of two hours - so make sure you pee before the show begins.)

Monday, November 24, 2008


The Obama Economic Team

Tim Geithner - Secretary of the Treasury
Larry Summers - Director of the National Economic Council
Christine Romer - Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors
Melody Barnes- Director of the Domestic Policy Council

Now, just remember that the Bush Administration is still in power until January 20th - plenty of time to fuck things up even further than they already have. Don't fall for today's new talking point that Obama is now running things. We can only have one president at a time, and I wouldn't put it past Bush to further tie the hands of the incoming administration.

(H/T Crooks and Liars)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

On Glenn Greenwald's Post of 11/23

On his Salon blog today, Greenwald wrote about the disappointment progressives are feeling with the Obama appointments so far. Give it a looksee.

For the most part, I agree with Greenwald. Obama never presented himself as a Progressive, and according to Greenwald, although Markos Moulitsas suggested that "progressives refrain from endorsing or supporting any of the Democratic candidates unless they work for that support, make promises and concessions important to the progressive agenda," progressives ignored that advice and just assumed that Obama was on our side because he is the antithesis of the Bush Administration.

But here's the thing. If you wanted a true progressive candidate, Dennis Kucinich was your man. Am I wrong on this? But Kucinich couldn't raise two nickels to rub together. I am on the Kuchinich list and he had a fundraising plan. To raise $50 million, he sent out a campaign message asking one million people to donate $50. I thought this was a great plan. Surely, there are many more than a million progressives in the country - $50 million should be easy. I sent him $50.00... and then never heard a word about it. There was no fundraising thermostat, no talk about it during his few appearances with the mainstream media. Nothing. Kucinich never got the support of the progressives, at least not monetarily.

So the liberals and progressives who thought that in Barack Obama they were going to get a popular Dennis Kucinich, they were just fooling themselves. Not to say that Obama doesn't have any liberal tendencies. And this is where I disagree with Glenn.

"...Barack Obama is a centrist, establishment politician. That is what he has been since he's been in the Senate, and more importantly, it's what he made clear -- both explicitly and through his actions -- that he intended to be as President."
While it may be true that Obama didn't let the "left" dictate his moves as McCain let the religious conservative wing call all the shots (as qualified by his decision making processes), I don't believe that Obama is a centrist. He may lean towards the center, but I truly believe it's from the left side. And I completely disagree with David Sirota's following statement:

"...we live in a culture that now organizes around celebrity - and Obama knew it, and knew that lots of left organizations aren't really ideological - they are, if anything, organized around the Democratic Party and Bush hatred. So he basically figured out that if he could become a celebrity - and a Democratic Bush-hating one - he could swallow up a huge part of the 'progressive infrastructure' and organize it around him..."

To come to the conclusion that Obama's campaign strategy was to be the celebrity candidate and dismiss basically every speech he gave, every policy plan he articulated, is so cynical that it's too much for me to accept. Is Sirota saying that McCain's "celebrity" ads were more grounded in truth than previously thought? I find that ridiculous.

There will always be someone who is disappointed in decisions that the future administration will make, but when has any administration ever been able to please everyone? And you'd think after reading the blogs these past three weeks since the election and listening to the pundits, that it's all over for Obama even before he takes office.

Now maybe I'm being naive, and Greenwald and Sirota are far more intelligent than I'll ever be, but as I was saying to a friend of mine during one of our many glass half full/half empty debates, it's going to take a long time to reverse the destruction left in the wake of Hurricane W. And for the pendulum to swing back to the left, it's going to have to travel through the center. Once the moderates see that leaning to the left may actually work, they may be more inclined in that direction as well. It's the boiling frog theory. If we slowly move back to the left with a ride through the center along the way, a lot more may be accomplished. But if we try an Evel Knievel rocket launch toward the left, we might just fall into Snake River Canyon.

Music Break! Harry Belafonte

My wife was just dancing with the dog and singing this song. It came out of nowhere - but it's a feel good song, so here it is.

Jump In The Line

T Minus 59 Days

"The legislature's job is to write law. It's the executive branch's job to interpret law."

- Austin, TX, November 22, 2000