Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘all politics is local

Hodgman at the Radio & Television Correspondents Dinner

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Hodgman at tonight’s Radio & Television Correspondents Dinner: Part 1, Part 2. UPDATE: It’s by no means a full Colbert, but there is a remarkable moment Colbert-like near the end:

You are clearly not exactly the person we hoped you would be. And perhaps it was wrong and impractical and unrealistic of us to lay such hopes upon you.

Still not sure whether the “Colbert” was pulled on Obama or on his disenchanted supporters. I think both.

Written by gerrycanavan

June 20, 2009 at 5:51 am

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* Literature: no cell phones allowed.

JULIET: Fakn death. C U Latr.

ROMEO: gud plan.

Recently published narrative fiction is still uneasy about the telephone, much less cell phones or the Internet…

* In defense of The Life Aquatic: Jamie Rich defends the most unfairly maligned of all of Wes Anderson’s films. (Via Rushmore Academy.)

* ‘North Carolina Town Prints Own Currency to Support Local Business.’ I support the effort, but I thought that was illegal…

* The Washington Post continues its efforts to make up for allowing George Will to lie with impunity on its editorial pages.

* Muppets vs. Zombies. If only it were real.

Scene from the Revolution

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Scene from the revolution: Durham is fired up and ready to go. This is the Obama volunteer HQ right near Duke’s East Campus, around 9 AM this morning.

Written by gerrycanavan

November 4, 2008 at 6:31 pm

A Debate McCain Can Win?

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A debate McCain can win? Both presidential candidates attended the Al Smith dinner this year, a rare occasion for elites to drop the pretense of real antagonism between pro-corporate plutocrats of different parties, much less the media millionaires who happily transcribe their every lie.

Both candidates were funny, but McCain was really in his element, and won more good will from me in this fifteen-minute segment than anything else he’s done in eight years.

Debate #3 Liveblog!

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New thread.

10:30 Obama promises his tireless effort — for the children.

Bob channels his mother and tells us to go out and vote, “it’ll make us feel big and strong.” McCain comes over to Obama immediately, shakes his hand, and says very loudly, “good job, good job.” Trying not to show any more contempt, I guess.

10:27 On the special needs issue, while McCain rambles: Jaimee and Sweet Caroline both say that McCain keeps saying that Palin’s son has autism, rather than Down’s Syndrome. I got the impression that he was trying to speak to special needs generally and autism parents in particular, but I may be wrong on that, and he may have actually flubbed the issue.

I’m also seeing evidence of a huge “gender gap” on the CNN instant-response panels—McCain’s horrible “health of the mother” rant has to be a big part of that.

10:27 Final statements: McCain first.

10:19 How many reporters are looking for Joe the Plumber tonight? Who will find him first? UPDATE: Yup.

10:16 … as a threat to national security? Uh, sure.

10:16 Education.

10:14 McCain attacks the notion of the “health of the mother,” accusing Obama of speaking in code. That’s what he’s going to go with? He hates the health of mothers? Going down in flames.

10:12 And Obama again, using basic common sense, rebuts the lies. Story of the night.

10:11 McCain spits on equal pay for equal work, accuses Obama of infanticide. Is it smart to make these attacks when Obama’s right there next to you and gets to rebut everything you say?

10:10 Obama announces his support for Roe v. Wade, then pivots to Lilly Ledbetter and equal pay for equal work.

10:08 McCain approaches this question as a senator, not as the guy who will actually be making the choice.

10:05 Abortion! But only as a litmus test.

10:04 John McCain says transplants are a Cadillac-style luxury. We think he meant “implants.” This is a debacle.

10:03 Why are we still talking about Joe?

10:02 Obama does, in fact, hit health care out of the park.

10:01 Obama lays out his fine: $0. McCain is angry about this.

9:59 Another slow pitch, Obama. $5,000 tax credit. Ridiculously bad policy. This is easy.

9:58 McCain wants to give everybody $5,000 tax credit. Even Joe the Plumber.

9:55 New topic: Health care. Control health-care costs or expand health-care coverage? Naturally, “we can do both.”

9:54 Obama on fire with the facts and figures tonight — he’s destroying McCain on the competence gap. McCain, as Kevin Drum says, just lurches from attack to attack.

9:53 Obama continually has to deflect McCain’s bullshit. Every exchange has the same flow: McCain says something crazy dishonest, Obama calmly retorts, rinse and reeat.

9:50 McCain calls Obama Clintonian. But is the drill-baby-drill oil dead in the face of the collapsing price of oil? Oil’s well under $100 a barrel right now, and under $3 a gallon in a lot of states.

9:48 Obama wins energy, too. This has got to be brutal for McCain supporters to watch.

9:47 McCain refuses to answer another question, gets in a jab that puts him on the wrong side of NAFTA to boot.

9:46 Energy! Climate change! Put Bob Schieffer in charge of every debate.

9:44 Obama pivots back against the spending freeze on the special-needs-family issue. That was deadly.

9:43 McCain: Sarah Palin should be president because she understands special-needs families. Hmm?

9:42 From Christ, I Need A Drink in the comments: “I have to say, I’m liking Bob Schieffer as moderator a heck of a lot more than Brokaw.” Me, too.

9:42 “Americans have gotten to know Sarah Palin.” Yeah, that’s kind of your problem, dude.

9:41 Obama: Biden rocks hard.

9:40 Why would the country be better off if Biden became president than Sarah Palin? (And vice versa.)

9:39 McCain is angrily demanding more details, then pivots back to claiming that *his* focus is on the economy. Obama just laughs.

9:38 McCain’s campaign is imploding as we speak. This was a huge tactical mistake for him.

9:36 Obama responds: “Mr. Ayers has become the centerpiece of McCain’s campaign.” Professor. 40 years ago. Eight years old. Reagan. Presidents of University of Illinois and Northwestern University. Nailed.

ACORN: “Had nothing to do with us.”

9:36 ACORN! The fabric of democracy is at state!

9:35 McCain brings up Ayers!

9:33 John McCain’s feelings have also been hurt by a number of offensive T-shirts at Obama rallies. What are we talking about here? This is ridiculous.

9:32 McCain: “I’m proud of the people who come to our rallies.” Really? Really?

9:31 Obama hits the Palin rallies, hard. McCain continues to look like he’s five seconds away from meltdown.

9:30 McCain trying to portray himself as the aggrieved party here is completely absurd. Is anyone buying this?

9:29 McCain looks like he’s about to blow his top.

9:27 Obama also hurt McCain’s feelings w.r.t. to public financing. Obama says that the American public doesn’t care about McCain’s hurt feelings, and hell yes to that.

9:26 Now McCain accuses John Lewis of hurting his feelings. Poor guy.

9:25 McCain says that Obama should have accepted the town halls. What a loser.

9:24 Where’s the high road? Will you say to each other’s face what you’ve said in your ads?

9:22 “When have you ever stood up to your party?” Obama starts listing off Democratic constituencies he’s pissed off. Interesting response, not necessarily what I would have gone with. Then he starts to list areas in which McCain and Bush are indistinguishable—that response I like.

9:21 McCain declares he’s not President Bush. Interesting. I did not know that.

9:20 The one-half-of-one-percent line is better than a hard number, though.

9:19 Damnit, Obama, just say it: You don’t cut spending in a recession.

9:18 McCain is having a terrible night, already. Rambling, constantly off-message — he looks like he’s about to burst.

9:17 McCain hits this spending freeze nonsense again. Obama, it’s a soft-pitch over the plate: YOU DON’T CUT SPENDING IN A RECESSION.

9:16 Amazingly, McCain *doesn’t* want to talk about spending. He’s back to talking about houses. Even Bob won’t stand for it.

9:15 While they talk about the same boring stuff for the third boring time, here’s a post on the rules from Ben Smith, with some interesting consequences on whether it makes sense for McCain to go negative tonight:

“It’s a huge mistake in a sit-down debate to attack or be snarky,” he said. He said that talking about an opponent’s negatives can be done if the moderator prompts it, “but to self generate it is very difficult in a sit-down debate”

“It would be a big mistake for McCain do do the Ayers stuff, the Acorn stuff,” he said.

9:13 Bob mercifully saves us from the tax bullshit. Unfortunately, it’s only to plunge us deep into the spending bullshit.

9:11 Sweet Caroline is sick of Joe the Plumber already. So say we all.

9:10 McCain calls Obama a communist — Obama wants to “spread the wealth around.” Calls Obama a tax-raiser again, for the millionth time.

9:09 Obama: “Joe’s been watching some ads of Sen. McCain’s. Here’s what I’m actually gonna do.” The audience laughs—it’s a good line.

9:07 McCain tries to play a random swing voter against Obama, promising some guy named Joe he’ll help him buy a business. Just 100,000,000 more voters to go.

9:06 Obama hits his usual points, talking directly to the camera with his four principles for the economy.

The problem with these debates, incidentally, has been that neither of them is really able to disagree with the other about the big issue — “fix the economy” — and so the discussion immediately dissolves into platitudes.

9:05 McCain plays his usual ‘X is in the hospital tonight’ card — tonight it’s Nancy Reagan — and then immediately begins to ramble.

He also said “Freddie Mae,” but that’s neither here nor there.

9:03 How will you fix the stock market?

9:02 Oh, good, they’re both sitting tonight. That’ll keep the energy up.

9:00 Here we go. There’s a lot of anticipation that tonight is the night that McCain either goes massively negative OR completely loses his shit, or perhaps both. Meanwhile, I find this tidbit from Ezra Klein intriguing:

Campbell Brown just said that John McCain called Hillary Clinton for debate advice today. Huh.

Maaaaaybe she wasn’t the best person to call.

Debate #3 liveblog!

Written by gerrycanavan

October 16, 2008 at 1:00 am

Arugula Watch

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Arugula Watch: The New Yorker endorses Barack Obama.

The longer the campaign goes on, the more the issues of personality and character have reflected badly on McCain. Unless appearances are very deceiving, he is impulsive, impatient, self-dramatizing, erratic, and a compulsive risk-taker. These qualities may have contributed to his usefulness as a “maverick” senator. But in a President they would be a menace.

By contrast, Obama’s transformative message is accompanied by a sense of pragmatic calm. A tropism for unity is an essential part of his character and of his campaign. It is part of what allowed him to overcome a Democratic opponent who entered the race with tremendous advantages. It is what helped him forge a political career relying both on the liberals of Hyde Park and on the political regulars of downtown Chicago. His policy preferences are distinctly liberal, but he is determined to speak to a broad range of Americans who do not necessarily share his every value or opinion. For some who oppose him, his equanimity even under the ugliest attack seems like hauteur; for some who support him, his reluctance to counterattack in the same vein seems like self-defeating detachment. Yet it is Obama’s temperament—and not McCain’s—that seems appropriate for the office both men seek and for the volatile and dangerous era in which we live. Those who dismiss his centeredness as self-centeredness or his composure as indifference are as wrong as those who mistook Eisenhower’s stolidity for denseness or Lincoln’s humor for lack of seriousness.

Written by gerrycanavan

October 2, 2008 at 7:11 pm

Debate Reactions

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Rolling updates covered elsewhere on the blog show a consensus emerging that Obama won clean.

Ambinder, a classic Villager, calls it a draw.

The press will probably conclude that McCain did not fundamentally change impressions tonight. And that Obama held his own.

It bothers me that a person can spew utter nonsense for ninety minutes, often incoherently so, and be declared a competent debater because they didn’t drool on themselves. But even if the media wants to call it a draw, beyond belief, that has to go to the guy who’s ten points up.

Obama won. McCain gave rambling, often nonsensical answers that had only tangential relations to the questions asked, exhibiting a bizarre defensiveness and even obnoxiousness that this viewer found very unattractive.

But winning the debate isn’t winning the debate. What matters (right or wrong) is what emerges after the debate as the media consensus about performance. I’m watching for that now. The immediate reaction on MSNBC is that McCain was strong on the spending issue, which strikes me as insane—Obama made it very clear that McCain was arguing over peanuts while giving away the store.

Matthews talking about body language and the fact that McCain seemed unwilling to look at Obama—uses that devastating word, “grumpy.”

Written by gerrycanavan

September 27, 2008 at 2:37 am

What They Say about Sinking Ships and Rats

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Under the pressure of the financial crisis, one presidential candidate is behaving like a flustered rookie playing in a league too high. It is not Barack Obama.

Like a sinking ship loses its rats, John McCain has lost even archconservative George Will.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 23, 2008 at 3:21 am

The Daily Show, Doing What It Does Best

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The Daily Show, doing what it does best:

Colbert’s segment from Monday on Palin’s qualifications was pretty exemplary as well. The Lieberman gag from last night was great too.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 4, 2008 at 2:19 pm

Friday, Friday

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Friday, Friday.

* Massachusetts has repealed the 95-year-old law that has been used to block out-of-state gay marriages, removing the last major barrier to nationwide legal challenges of marriage discrimination.

* There’s water on Mars (but don’t try to drink it). And there’s a liquid lake on Titan, too.

* Also in legal news: Bush’s claims of absolute executive privilege have been smacked down in the courts. Score another small victory for the rule of law, and start writing up that Karl Rove indictment.

* Garfield without Garfield book announced.

* The Los Angeles City Council has passed a year-long moratorium on new fast food restaurants in South L.A. (More at MeFi.) Food in this country, as we’ve talked about many times, is in crisis—but this is a symbolic gesture, not an actual policy.

* Also in food news: How Sysco came to monopolize most of what you eat. Also via MeFi.

* And now you can watch the growth of Wal-Mart across America. Locusts. Zombies. Plague.

Written by gerrycanavan

August 1, 2008 at 4:00 am

Photo of the Day

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Photo of the day. Text and video of the speech at

Written by gerrycanavan

July 25, 2008 at 2:16 am


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Geritopia: the endless war between the Senior Citizens’ Center and the rest of Randolph Township has gone national.

It has become increasingly clear to me that Sun City, the Villages, and thousands of other “voluntary ghettos” around the nation, are neither sustainable nor accountable. Rather, they are a fantasy, the product of a developer’s profit-driven concept of “geritopia.”

Sustainable communities aren’t based on leisure. Living among a community of aging peers and golf courses may be comforting and a lot of fun, but a complex and functioning society demands cooperation between the generations.

No one can live in a bubble, regardless of how pleasant the initial experience may be. As Arizonans may remember, even Biosphere 2 eventually needed oxygen pumped in. Similarly, without new generations and reinvestment, and the constant renewal they bring, it is hard to imagine how these communities will survive, much less prosper over time.

And then there are the rest of us. After defeating 17 school-bond measures in 12 years, de-annexing from the local school system, and all the energy spent evicting “contraband children,” Sun Citians can likely forget relying on the goodwill of their neighbors who often share a reciprocal bounty of distrust, anger and apathy. Shown in this light, Sun City’s claim to fame – community service – rings rather hollow.

Life in the Villages is similarly premised: Seniors have taken control of their county’s political machinery and have already begun closing parks for young families who live outside the gated community. As one Villager proudly told me without a trace of irony, “In the Villages we spend our tax dollars on ourselves.”

Written by gerrycanavan

July 22, 2008 at 2:28 pm