Steven Reynolds

Cost of Putting Lipstick on a Pit Bull?

$68,400. That's the total of figures being reported in campaign finance reports by the Republican National Committee. The figure went for makeup for vice presidential candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. From the New York Times:

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Palin Is Sinking the McCain Campaign

Every single Democrat should be worried about the outcome of this election until at least midnight of November 4th. Still, the polls are encouraging, and they are showing, amazingly enough, that Sarah Palin hurts John McCain’s candidacy worse than does George Bush. There’s no turning that one around.

The first polls are out with even a hint of a reaction to the Powell endorsement of Barack Obama, and those polls should make Republicans weep.

The NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll gives Obama a 10 point lead nationally. 60% of respondents in the CNN poll think McCain’s attacks on Obama are unfair, a figure that hurts McCain’s chances further with independent voters. Reuters/Zogby has an 8 point Obama lead in its latest tracking poll. And the Pew poll, which takes into account cell phone users, has Obama up by 14 points. The prediction here is that these totals will go up in the next couple days as the impact of the Powell endorsement fully hits the polling results.

What’s the big news here? Sure, McCain has been hurt by his association with Bush for a long time. But in the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, it appears that Sarah Palin is a bigger drag on the Palin/McCain ticket than is Dubya. She’s now seen as unqualified for the vice Presidential job by 55% of the public, and her negatives are now 47%, higher than her positives for the first time. Here’s a bit from the Pew results about the Palin drag on the ticket, and about McCain’s lack of judgement:

The Whack Jobs Holding Out for a Palin/McCain Ticket

The latest Washington Post/ABC poll has Barack Obama with 53% of the voters and a ten point lead. No, polls are not the final word, but 53% is a big number in Presidential politics, and with three weeks to go the trend line is strongly in Barack Obama’s favor. Here’s a little of the Washington Post reporting about this big number:

McCain has made little headway in his attempts to convince voters that Obama is too “risky” or too “liberal.” Rather, recent strategic shifts may have hurt the Republican nominee, who now has higher negative ratings than his rival and is seen as mostly attacking his opponent rather than addressing the issues that voters care about. Even McCain’s supporters are now less enthusiastic about his candidacy, returning to levels not seen since before the Republican National Convention.

Conversely, Obama’s pitch to the middle class on taxes is beginning to sink in; nearly as many said they think their taxes would go up under a McCain administration as under an Obama presidency, and more see their burdens easing with the Democrat in the White House.
OK, there are some amazing numbers underlying this poll, as there are amazing numbers underlying other polls. Newsweek investigates those numbers, like trying to find out just who the whack jobs are in their poll who are satisfied with the economy. In this poll, 8% of the people had worse opinions of Barack Obama. Those are the ones shouting “terrorist” and “traitor,” I’m betting. Yeah, whack jobs. Newsweek may think it has the answer, but it is just as easy to conclude there are whack jobs out there, and Republicans seem proud to have them on board and voting.

Thou Shalt Not Go Negative Against a Comedian

Al Franken, known far more as a comedian than as a politician, is certainly benefiting from the Obama surge in the last week or two, but it appears Norm Coleman is doing his part in boosting the Franken candidacy, as reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

U.S. Senate candidate Al Franken has moved into his first solid lead over incumbent Republican Norm Coleman, according to a new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll.

The survey, conducted Tuesday through Thursday by Princeton Survey Research Associates International among 1,084 likely Minnesota voters, shows Franken leading Coleman 43 to 34 percent. Independence Party candidate Dean Barkley is supported by 18 percent of respondents.

. . .

The new poll suggests that one reason for Franken’s gain is voters’ reaction to the abrasive advertising in the campaign.

The survey shows that 56 percent of poll respondents consider ads criticizing Franken to be “mostly unfair personal attacks.” Only 42 percent said the same about ads criticizing Coleman.

Some of the ads by the Coleman campaign and national Republicans show Franken when he was an entertainer, cursing and ranting on political subjects.
I suppose voters understand that in his previous occupation as entertainer and comedian, it was Franken’s job to be abrasive on these issues. The Coleman attacks using old SNL footage are backfiring because Minnesota voters are smarter than Norm Coleman gives them credit for.

Go Stuart Smalley!

FEC Decides that the First Amendment Actually Applies to Bloggers

We bloggers are media! We get to exercise our rights to free speech! Who knew? Well, since we’ve had those rights for a couple hundred years, so I knew. The Federal Election Commission, however, has seen fit to confirm my rights as a blogger to write about . . . politics! Yes, even if I commit the sin of favoring a candidate!

Heck, you can even be political and all that stuff. Nope, you don't need any stinking "freedom of speech" to give you these rights. The FEC has assured them. The whole case evidently extends from a whine by the Clinton campaign against a blog in Iowa advocating for Barack Obama. The report on this action is from

Is Helping Big Oil the New Third Rail in American Politics?

Another Republican incumbent has lost an election, this time a primary in Tennessee. He was painted as beholden to Big Oil, and that's what led to Dave Davis' loss. Meanwhile, John McCain is in opposition to the New Energy Reform Act of 2008 precisely because is scales back Big Oil subsidies. This is the stuff of political ads against McCain.


courtesy of Think Progress

So it seems. There was a primary in Tennessee yesterday, and the incumbent Republican lost. David Davis, who represented the Northeastern part of the state, was upset by the Mayor of Johnson City, Phil Roe. While this one is going to be in the Republican column come November, Roe worked hard to tie Davis to Big Oil, and the pundits are reporting that is why Davis lost. RawStory has the scoop, as does Ben Pershing at the Washington Post:

Has Cheney Been Disinvited to the GOP Convention?

The lineup for the GOP Convention isn’t set, but Dick Cheney’s role seems set. He’s going to be absent. Evidently the current Vice President is so toxic in his disapprovals that few Americans, even Republicans, want to be seen with him. Everyone who is surprised, raise your hands.

We know that a whole bunch of GOP Senators, the ones up for reelection, are not attending this year's GOP Convention. We know that Mr. Bush will be making an early speech at the GOP Convention, then will likely be whisked off the stage. The current Veep, though, Dick Cheney? Evidently nobody is quite sure if Dick Cheney will attend, though it seems axiomatic that nobody wants Cheney to show up at the GOP Convention. Here's a bit on the subject from
Vice President Cheney will be a no-show at the Republican convention in Minnesota, Republican officials said, citing a desire by Sen. John McCain's campaign to turn the page on the Bush-Cheney years.
One GOP official told CNN there's a "mutual understanding" between Cheney's office and the McCain camp that he is "unlikely" to attend the convention.
A second Republican official said there are still "talks going on" between Cheney's office and the McCain camp and both sides are "still trying to work it out."
The conservative American Spectator first reported Monday that Cheney, who has low national approval ratings but is still popular among conservatives, is not expected to attend the convention.
A Wall Street Journal-NBC News Poll from June showed that while 31 percent of Americans had a positive opinion of President Bush, only 23 percent had the same feeling for Cheney.
Yeah, one can certainly understand why the Republicans would want to hide both Bush and Cheney when they dominate the airways during their convention. It is a bit odd that there's any confusion here, though. I would think even Cheney would immediately say he wouldn't attend. But these sources are not unanimous, that's for sure.

Boy Scouts Want to Discriminate Using Public Dollars

The Boy Scouts here in Philly want the city to support them to the tune of $200,000 per year. They’re suing for that “right,” feeling themselves to be entitled. They’ll lose, at least according to precedent, but this time they are using some particularly whiney courtroom strategies that go against what they claim to teach boys.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

We’ve had a long controversy here in Philadelphia. (I’ve written about this before, here and here.)The Cradle of Liberty Council of the Boy Scouts of America has long had a $1 lease on a fine building in a very expensive part of town. The national Boy Scouts won a Supreme Court ruling allowing them to discriminate in the last several years, sure. But the Boy Scouts are in a bind, Cradle of Liberty Council in particular. They don’t want to discriminate against gays and athiests as the national coucil tells them to do, at least not quite as much, but if they do discriminate, then the City of Philadelphia will have to follow its own laws. You see, it is against the law in Philadelphia to fund groups that discriminate. So what’s the solution? According to the Cradle of Liberty Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the solution is a lawsuit, demanding that the City of Philadelphia aid and abet their discriminatory policies by reducing their rent from $200,000 to $1 per year.

Now it has come down to it, here in Philly, that the Boy Scouts feel they are entitled to suck off the public teat, to soak up my tax dollars, even if they do treat my fellow citizens in a discriminatory manner. There are articles on the subject in both the Philly Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News this morning, and there’s a wonderful quote from Mayor Nutter on the situation in the Inquirer:

Will Gay and Lesbian Voters Swing Philly for Obama or Clinton?

There’s an article in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer about how both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are courting the gay vote in PA as they square off for the primary here in just three weeks. It mentions how both campaigns value that voting bloc, and how Chelsea extended her campaign visit to Woody’s, a major gay bar here, in order to visit with the largely gay and lesbian crowd. I’m thinking this is a good thing. Neither Clinton nor Obama seems to have a lock on this segment of the voting population, but they sure are energizing the gay and lesbian voters here in Philly. Here’s a little of the piece from the Philadelphia Inquirer:
You don’t see many women at Woody’s, but Chelsea Clinton popped in last week.
To a packed house of screaming supporters, the 28-year-old former first child led a presidential pep rally for her mother at one of the oldest gay bars in Philadelphia.
“We love your highlights!” a man yelled from the crowd, referring to Chelsea’s tresses. “Wow,” she said, temporarily bumped off message, “that’s something I never heard before.”
At the end of an exhausting day of nonstop events, Chelsea was supposed to leave after 10 minutes. She ended up staying 25.
A few years ago, such a scene would have been unthinkable. But with an eye on the April 22 Pennsylvania Democratic primary, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama are fervently courting the gay vote.
In Philadelphia, gays constitute an estimated 5 percent of voters, according to Malcolm Lazin, president of Equality Forum. That is not an inconsequential percentage in a race as tight as this one.

Why Republicans Should Be Scared of Don Siegelman

Donald Siegelman has been freed from jail. As many know, Siegelman was Governor of Alabama and was prosecuted for giving a position on a Board in the state to a major contributor, Richard Scrushy. I suppose if we were doing a tit for tat thing, that would mean every major contributor President Bush appointed to Ambassadorships is up for investigation, but that’s not how the US DOJ was working under President Bush and Alberto Gonzales. Nope, they prosecuted only Democrats for that sort of thing, even when Senior preosecutors in their office counseled otherwise. Scott Horton in Harpers, over a year ago, noted, basically, that miscarriage of justice should be seen as obstruction of justice on the part of the Bush appointed US Attorneys.

A couple of interesting things here. First, Siegelman would not be released unless there were a strong possiblity his appeal would go through. From the Birmingham News:
The judges wrote that Siegelman met both requirements for an appeal bond: He is not a flight risk and his appeal raises a substantial question of law or fact likely to result in reversal or an order for a new trial.
“After thorough review of this complex and protracted record, we conclude Siegelman has satisfied the criteria set out in the statute, and has specifically met his burden of showing that his appeal raises substantial questions of law or fact,” the judges wrote.

It’s going to be overturned, and we should have an investigation, a real one, into the role of the Bush Administration, Karl Rove in particular, in the prosecution here. I’m guessing the motive behind this selective prosecution was that the GOP felt threatened in their electoral bastion, the deep south. Be that as it may, the GOP claims they had not political role here, that Siegelman was prosecuted on the merits. Then why the heck do they have to act as if this is so godalmighty important to them, to the extent that they’re protesting the judge’s order? They’re protesting a whole whale of a lot for folks who claim they had no interest in the case. From WSFA in Alabama:

Happy Holidays!