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The Collective
Friday, October 10, 2008
By Dr. Steven Taylor

As part of an ongoing (and highly irregular) series of posts on difference political signs this election, here are some more from AL02 as well as from a Montgomery County election.

First, here’s another sign from the AL02 race and another example of the “Mickey Mouse ears” add-ons that I noted before:

The “America First” add-on started showing up a few weeks or so ago. My initial reaction was that it was an odd concept that in a U.S. House race that either candidate could claim “America First” as surely both were, well, Americans and all. I think it is also a reference to fears over illegal immigrants and about American jobs.

I have long thought the “A Proven Leader” tagline was hilarious, as the quotations look like scare quotes rather than a direct quote from someone (indeed, the sign belongs here).

Here’s another set of Bright signs (forgive the poor quality, as it is a blow-up of one section of a photo taken from across a busy intersection):

Not only does this configuration have the “America First” add-on sign, but I was intrigued by the fact that the “I’m a Proud” portion of the “Bright Republican” sign is covered up (Bright is the Democrat in the race, although he is running as an almost-Rep).

Speaking of Republicans, here’s another example of the Mickey Mouse ears add-on signs:

Ingram is a shoe-in for reelection and has had signs up for months and months. The Republican add-on are new, however, and I thought it was an interesting choice, only insofar as a) why spend the extra cash? and b) because it underscored that even in a campaign cycle wherein being a member of the GOP isn’t necessarily a big bonus, it clearly still is in my portion of Montgomery County (if not in AL in general). I also noticed because it seems that the trend in local elections around here is to avoid placing party identifiers on campaign signs, and so this very blatant signal was of interest (to me, anyway).

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By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the AFP: N.Ireland peacemaker Mitchell comes out for Obam.

The headline amused me, as I guess “Former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Endorses Democratic Presidential Candidate” just didn’t have as dramatic a ring to it…

The only news to me is that he took this long to make an endorsement.

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By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via CQ Politics: Dems Gain in CQ Politics’ Four Senate Rating Changes.

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Filed under: 2008 Campaign, US Politics | Comments/Trackbacks (0) |
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Obama is someone who would “pal around with terrorists.”

Or, he is a socialist.

Don’t like that one? How about, he “was a guy of the street” who was “way left” and a “used cocaine.”1

And don’t forget to be scared of his middle name (it’s Hussein, dontcha know!).

The first quote was from Governor Palin, the second from McCain supporter Andy McCarthy at NRO’s The Corner (which then led to a discussion of whether Obama was more a Stalinist or a Maoist2 ), the third set was from McCain campaign co-chair, Frank Keating (former OK governor), and I have noted several usages of the “Hussein” of late at McCain rallies (at least twice, from two different persons, this week).3

Regardless of anything else, this is a clear indication that the McCain campaign is in trouble and that they know it. It is full-blown desperation. Character attacks are not unusual in politics, but this approach certainly takes away whatever vestiges of McCain’s “straight-talk” bona fides that he had left at this point. Instead of engaging on the very serious issues of the day, the current line of attack is a mish-mash of guilt-by-association, innuendo and dredging up the past.

Yes, character counts, and it is a legitimate avenue of attack in an election. However, this isn’t part of a sustained attack on Obama’s character and nor is it linked to a broader set of well developed policy goals. Instead, this has the distinct feel of throwing up whatever one can find up against the wall and seeing what sticks. While this may (like the Palin selection) get the base excited, it ultimately undercuts McCain’s basic appeal (i.e., the straight-talking, honest maverick who puts country first and is the serious grownup in this campaign). Also in re: the base, I would note that McCain cannot win on a base mobilization strategy the way Bush did, as the base is currently too small to accomplish that goal. As such, not only does this strategy demonstrate desperation and undercut McCain, it is bad politics as this will not bring the undecideds to McCain’s camp, and he desperately needs them to win.

McCain could pull the character attacks off if he was simultaneously presenting a serious set of proposals to deal with the current financial crisis, not to mention two wars.

And while one may not think that Obama has adequately presented a set of policy alternatives, he has the clear advantage of being in the party out of power at the moment. Further, he has projected calm during this period, while McCain has run around suspending and unsuspending his campaign4 and otherwise having to deal with a policy area that he does not, by his own admission, have that much interest in (i.e., the economy).

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  1. And yes, I am well aware that Obama did admit to cocaine use in his youth. []
  2. That may qualify as one of the most absurd discussions of this campaign season. []
  3. Which, at one point, was something that McCain repudiated in public. []
  4. Although in honesty, I don’t think he ever officially unsuspended it. []
Filed under: 2008 Campaign, US Politics | Comments/Trackbacks (3) | | Show Comments here
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Lazy Log
By Dr. Steven Taylor

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By Dr. Steven Taylor

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By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via ABC News: Inside Account of U.S. Eavesdropping on Americans

Despite pledges by President George W. Bush and American intelligence officials to the contrary, hundreds of US citizens overseas have been eavesdropped on as they called friends and family back home, according to two former military intercept operators who worked at the giant National Security Agency (NSA) center in Fort Gordon, Georgia.

Gee, who could have predicted that? Oh, that’s right: lots of people predicted this.

First, despite a cavalcade of assurances that these programs only target “the bad guys” it is quite clear that many innocent American citizens were the ones being listened in upon. Second, not only were innocent citizens listened to and recorded, but they were made the subject of amusement for the eavesdroppers:

Faulk says he and others in his section of the NSA facility at Fort Gordon routinely shared salacious or tantalizing phone calls that had been intercepted, alerting office mates to certain time codes of “cuts” that were available on each operator’s computer.

“Hey, check this out,” Faulk says he would be told, “there’s good phone sex or there’s some pillow talk, pull up this call, it’s really funny, go check it out. It would be some colonel making pillow talk and we would say, ‘Wow, this was crazy’,” Faulk told ABC News.

Well, that certainly sounds like the government making us all safer. Note, to, it wasn’t just that these calls were intercepted, but that the only way to share them with co-workers would be for them to be recorded. What possible justification would there be for the NSA to record the intimate conversations between two American citizens?

Further, international aid organizations were likewise recorded:

“We knew they were working for these aid organizations,” Kinne told ABC News. “They were identified in our systems as ‘belongs to the International Red Cross’ and all these other organizations. And yet, instead of blocking these phone numbers we continued to collect on them,” she told ABC News.

It is axiomatic that as government power expands, so too will abuse of that power expand. And yet, this administration has maintained that not only are such programs necessary, but oversight of such programs isn’t necessary because only the guilty would be targeted. Shockingly, that isn’t how things have worked out.

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Filed under: US Politics, War on Terror | Comments/Trackbacks (0) |
By Dr. Steven Taylor

I am toying with setting up my Vista laptop to dual boot to Linux. Any recommendations out there as to which distribution I should use?

I have tried Knoppix Live CD version, as it didn’t require installing anything to the harddrive, and was immediately turned off by the limitation of display resolution to a 1024×768 max.

Any thoughts on this subject?

Update: Thanks to everyone who left a comment (and do feel free to keep adding them).

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Lovely
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the AP: NYC National Debt Clock runs out of digits

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Filed under: The Economy, US Politics | Comments/Trackbacks (2) | | Show Comments here
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