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Sunday, September 28, 2008
By Steven L. Taylor

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the LAT (Could the bailout turn a profit for taxpayers?) comes this interesting graphic:

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By Steven L. Taylor

Yes, another Palin post.1

I fully understand that the vast majority of McCain supporters find themselves in the position of simply having to ignore Palin’s lack of experience and, more importantly, her lack to date of actually engaging intelligently in the major questions of the day. I fully and totally understand that in a two-party race, voters have no choice but to cast their lots with the candidate who most closely mirrors their general policy preferences, and that sometimes means averting eyes to particularly bad aspects of one’s chosen candidate.2

What I find interesting (indeed, fascinating on one level and very frustrating on another) is the cognitive dissonance displayed by some in support of her selection. There is almost no evidence to date that she is ready to be the President of the United States (something that one would like a veep to be ready to be). And yet, if this is pointed out, there are attacks on the one doing the pointing out (not real defenses of Palin’s readiness–and where defenses are offered they are non-substantive, such as saying she is the next Reagan or the next Truman). Note: if one wishes to assert that Palin is a good choice for veep, some positive evidence in that regard is needed, not wild fantasies about might be.

Her answer on foreign policy experience discussed the other day was a joke and here’s her response on the bailout proposal:

If you do not wish to view the video, or prefer to read the transcript,3 here’s the response

COURIC: Why isn’t it better, Governor Palin, to spend $700 billion helping middle-class families struggling with health care, housing, gas and groceries? Allow them to spend more and put more money into the economy? Instead of helping these big financial institutions that played a role in creating this mess?

PALIN: That’s why I say, I like ever American I’m speaking with were ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the tax payers looking to bailout.

But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health care reform that is needed to help shore up the economy– Helping the — Oh, it’s got to be about job creation too. Shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track. So health care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americas. A

And trade we’ve got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive scary thing. But 1 in 5 jobs being created in the trade sector today. We’ve got to look at that as more opportunity. ALl those things under the umbrella of job creation.

This bailout is a part of that.

To watch/read that and come away with the sense that she has even a basic grasp of the situation requires a great deal of charity, if not self-delusion. And is she looking at noted during the response? if someone can translate that, or make a cogent argument that it is a legitimate response, I would love to read it.

Sarah Palin is a pefect embodiment of what I termed a long time ago the Deion Sanders Effect4: the idea that we will often support (even like) someone only because they are on our team. As I wrote at the time:

We too often treat politics like a spectator sport–everything is seen in terms of whether it helps our side move the ball forward or not. If our side says it, it is good; if the other side says it, it’s bad. Such thinking diverts us from genuine, efficacious public dialogue. We altogether seem too interested in making sure our side scores (or, at least, that the other side doesn’t) than we are in actually having a worthwhile discussion about what our national priorities should be, and what solutions are needed to address them.

I don’t expect Republicans to en masse vote for Obama because of Palin–for any number of reasons that would be an odd expectation to have. What I would like to see, however, is some intellectual honesty about her selection and her qualifications.

  1. The main reason for another Palin post is that usually one such post leads to comments supporting Palin that I find baffling, leading to a need to even further explain myself. Plus, I am likely also responding to market forces, insofar as it is clear that I am getting more traffic from more Palin blogging. As such, I suppose I should ride the Palin Bubble as long as I can. Of course, once the Palin bubble bursts, and traffic plummets, I fully expect that the federal government will come bail me out by passing a law requiring low-level employees (I’d settle for that) to click on PoliBlog during their coffee breaks, so as to shore up my flagging traffic. []
  2. Yes, I also understand that there are third party options, and arguments to be made in regards to supporting them over the Big Two. I am not going to engage that debate at the moment, real thought it is. []
  3. Source: Think Progress []
  4. If the Deion ref is out of your experience, here’s my basic explanation:
    When Deion played for the Falcons he was an annoying, preening player–but he didn’t bother me all that much, because that Falcons didn’t matter to the Dallas Cowboys. When Deion signed with the 49ers, he became extremely annoying. Indeed, he was perhaps the most annoying football player ever. However, when he signed with Dallas, why, he sure did seem to calm down–not quite as arrogant as he used to be. When he was helping make Larry Brown into a Super Bowl MVP he was the salt of the earth, right ?(at least if one was a Dallas Cowboys fan). And the funny thing is that he got all annoying again when he signed with the Redskins.

    There days the appropriate analog would be Terrell Owens–who is a lot less annoying catching TD passes as a Cowboy than when he did the same thing for the 49ers and Eagles. []

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Saturday, September 27, 2008
By Steven L. Taylor

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By Steven L. Taylor

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By Steven L. Taylor

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By Steven L. Taylor

One other thing I noticed last night in watching the post-debate discussions on CNN, MSNBC and Fox, is that I saw Biden on at least two different nets, and yet Palin was nowhere to be found.

It is curious that the McCain campaign clearly does not feel that it is in their interest to allow Palin to go out and fill the “attack dog” role that veeps are allegedly supposed to fulfill. They are, in essence, hampering themselves by removing what should be an asset (the running mate) from the field of play.

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By Steven L. Taylor

James Fallows:

Unless it happened when I glanced away, up until this moment, 77 minutes into the 90-minute debate, John McCain has not once looked at Obama — while listening to him, while addressing him, while disagreeing with him, while finding moments of accord.

This is distinctly strange — if anyone else notices. Obama is acting as if this is a conversation; McCain, as if he cannot acknowledge the other party in the discussion.

I am not sure if Fallows is correct that McCain never looked at Obama, but I do agree that Obama was treating it more like a conversation than was McCain. This is striking only because it seemed that the goal of the format was direct interaction between the participants(at least to listen to Lehrer’s early admonition that they talk to one another).

I did distinctly notice that Obama rather smartly looked directly into the camera on several occasions to address the viewers.

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By Steven L. Taylor

CNN Money reports that: More gas shortages on the way

While Congress and Bush administration officials have been working to complete a bailout plan and stem the financial contagion on Wall Street, a different kind of economic crisis emerged across the South this week: A severe, hurricane-related gasoline shortage has curtailed trucking from Atlanta to Asheville, N.C., and created a wave of panic buying among motorists.

This comports with my own initial experiences post-Ike (as noted here and here). Even now there have been cases of stations running out of supply (I pulled into our local Costco earlier in the week to be waved off by the attendant, as they had just run out of gas). Prices also remain high relative to their pre-Ike levels.

The phenomenon appears to be specifically acute in, if not limited to, the southeastern US:

The scenes over the past several days in places like Nashville, Tenn., Anniston, Ala., and western North Carolina looked like file footage from 1979 – with bags over empty gas pumps and quarter-mile long lines of cars waiting to fill up at stations that hadn’t run out. AAA reported that drivers were so desperate that they were following tankers to gas stations to ensure a fill-up.

I have seen the plastic bags phenomenon, but the only serious gas line I have witnessed was the day before Ike when there was a run on Costco, as at the time it had gas far cheaper than any of the other stations, most of which had already jacked their prices in anticipation of supply problems.

The article paints a gloomy picture:

But while the current shortages can be traced directly to the two hurricanes, the severity of the problem points out a bigger issue: The U.S. has been operating for a while with razor-thin spare gasoline capacity.

In its most recent Weekly Oil Data Review, Barclays Capital pointed out that the U.S. gasoline inventory has reached its lowest level since August 1967, when demand was a little more than half its current level of 9.3 million barrels a day. At 178.7 million barrels, inventories are 21.6 million barrels below their five-year average.

It goes on from there too look at a worst-case scenario, but it was also basing much of its information from Matt Simmons, who is known for his especially pessimistic view of oil supply.

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By Steven L. Taylor

CNN is reporting that Paul Newman died today of cancer at the age of 83.

May he rest in peace.

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