Category Archives: Talk amongst yourselves

Reactions to the president’s speech?

As I noted, I missed the start of Obama's speech, and at this point I won't feel confident commenting on it in full until I've had a chance to go back and catch up, which I might not do until tomorrow at this rate. I don't have Obama's stamina. It's been a long day, and tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. (That Obama sure knows how to celebrate Mardi Gras, huh? What a workaholic. It's after 10, and he's still going…)

But I thought I'd provide y'all with this space to share YOUR observations, so have at it…

Oh, yeah — you can read about it here and here and here.

Detroit wants ANOTHER bailout (let’s say no)

Don't know if you've been following this, but GM and Chrysler are asking for another bailout roughly as big as the one Bush gave them on the way out of town:

Citing worsening U.S. economic conditions, GM and Chrysler told the Obama administration today that the companies need at least an additional $14 billion in loans in order to survive.

The ailing automakers have already received government loans totaling $17.4 billion. But declining sales forecasts, worse than originally feared, have driven up their cash needs as the global economic woes have persisted.

"We have continued to see an unprecedented decline in the automotive sector," Chrysler LLC Chairman and CEO Robert L. Nardelli said.

The automaker requests now compel Congress and the Obama administration to weigh the risks of making the additional multibillion loans against having one or two of the nation's most important manufacturers run aground, potentially provoking hundreds of thousands in additional job losses during one of the deepest recessions in decades.

Just off the top of my head, I'm inclined to say "no." Or maybe, "hell, no." We knew the last time that all we were doing was postponing the inevitable. Unless GM and Chrysler come up with a lot of reasons I haven't seen to believe that with just a little more, they can suddenly become productive and profitable, I don't see why we should prolong the pain.

I'm not trying to be insensitive. Those of us who work in the newspaper business can't afford to be cavalier about people losing their jobs. But I'm not asking the gummint to bail newspapers out (although some would disagree on this point), and I don't see why the auto industry should be different — especially when it's not ALL the auto industry. It's not Ford; it's not Toyota. But maybe I'm missing something. What do y'all think?

Lott won’t charge Phelps

Just thought I'd provide y'all with a place to comment on the latest on this local story that's made international waves. An excerpt:

    Michael Phelps will not be charged with marijuana possession, though
the Olympic champion swimmer admitted to being pictured holding a
marijuana pipe at a Columbia house party in November, Richland County
Sheriff Leon Lott announced today.

Me, I think the sheriff did the right thing. You?

Excuse me for getting all earnest, but how can we interact more meaningfully here?

And yes, I mean "earnest" and not "Ernest" like in my last post, although if you'd like you can attribute the seriousness of my message here to the influence of my serious new notebook.

Anyway, I wrote the following as a followup comment on my otherwise silly, fun post on Tina Fey, and it occurred to me I should elevate it to a separate post and see if we can get a good dialogue going on the subject here. Rather than rewrite it, I repeat myself:

Funny thing is, I used to not like Tina Fey — or Jimmy Fallon, or,
going way back before them, Dennis Miller — in their Weekend Update

As y'all know, I like to have fun and kid around, but I do
take the news and the issues of the day seriously, and at some point I
get turned off by people who day in and day out sneer and make jokes of
serious issues. I mean, let's have fun and kid around, but when one's
entire diet of commentary consists of such junk food, and it's all
about mocking and never taking anything seriously, I think it has a
corrosive effect on society. Taken at it's extreme, I think it has
helped raise a generation that has trouble respecting anyone and
anything in politics. The constant drip, drip of smarmy satire adds to
all the partisan attack politics and tactics of personal destruction to
prevent us from coming together to solve the problems we have in common
— which is what representative democracy can be all about.

to say, I have NO appreciation for Jon Stewart and The Daily Show. And
while I enjoyed meeting and kidding around with Stephen Colbert (see video), I can't get into his shtick, either.

even though the Palin gag was pretty hard-hitting satire, it was so
enjoyable that it caused me to have a soft spot for Tina I didn't have

I should also mention that I revised my opinion of Dennis Miller just from the couple of brief spots I've done on his radio show.
I had always thought of him as just too much of a wise guy, too
impressed with his own snarky cleverness, to be borne. But he's
actually deeper than that, and pleasant to talk to.

course, this is just a corollary to something I've found about life —
almost anyone is a more likable, admirable person once you get past the
shorthand, bumper-sticker version of that person. To know a person is
to appreciate him or her more. Maybe this sounds trite, but in our 24/7
headline news/blog world, we increasingly go by the bumper sticker, and
don't get into people deeply enough to appreciate them.

And just
to get WAY philosophical on you…. One of my great disappointments
with this blog is that I had hoped, by having this forum for going way
beyond what I'm able to say and explore in the paper, I could forge
some avenues where I could have more meaningful exchanges with my
readers and fellow citizens about the important issues of the day —
and the people who are important players in those issues.

the resistance to that is just tremendous. So much of what passes for
dialogue here remains on the superficial, partisan, shorthand,
bumper-sticker simplistic level. I try to say something to provoke
thought, and somebody gives some standard, boilerplate ideological
response, and someone else shouts the established bumper-sticker
counter to THAT, and off we go on the kind of pointless partisan
merry-go-round that you can read or hear anywhere in the blogosphere or
on 24/7 talking head "news." And what is the point in that?

draw hope from the fact that occasionally, we get to the point where
some actual,  mutually respectful dialogue occurs between people who
HAVE gotten to know each other beyond the surface here. I see this
particularly with Phillip and Herb and Karen and a handful of others —
and in the past (although, unfortunately, not so much lately) from you,
Randy. I even get an encouraging word now and then from bud or Doug.

I just wish I knew how to build on that. I'm open to suggestions.

Maybe I need to make this a separate post…

… which I just did.

How about it? Do you see any way we can start having conversations here that matter?

Editorial on Gamecock ‘gift’

Earlier this week we had an editorial about the USC athletics department’s recent "contribution" of $15 million to the university. An excerpt:

A ‘gift’ that isn’t
a gift, and shouldn’t
be seen as such

PERHAPS YOU shouldn’t look a gift chicken in the beak, but there was something more than a little off-putting about all the self-congratulation and awe that accompanied the USC athletics department’s recent “contribution” of $15 million to the university to help pay for … academics.
    This clearly is a large amount of money that has the potential to do a great deal of good at a school that is struggling under state budget cuts and the larger economic crisis. Just as clearly, such a gift is extraordinary and such a gesture, in the words of one USC trustee, “historic and symbolic.”
    But there shouldn’t be anything extraordinary — certainly not “historic” — about university money being used to further the core mission of the university. In fact, it should be expected — the sort of thing that deserves commentary only in its absence. As difficult a concept as this seems to be, money generated by the athletics department, or any other part of a university, belongs to the university….

Any thoughts on that?

I bring it up because when we ran the piece, I had expected to hear a good bit of reaction both pro and con, and things have been fairly quiet. So I thought I'd bring it up here, to see what y'all thought about it.

Looks like Blago’s pick WILL be seated now

It appears that now the Senate leadership is bending over backwards to seat Roland Burris. What a mess. There is, of course, no good and honorable way out of this for any of us, given the following absurd facts:

  • The ridiculous person who is STILL governor of Illinois is utterly devoid of anything remotely resembling shame, or honor. There was a time (I think — or am I just romanticizing?) when anyone caught in a wringer this way would bow his head and disappear (in ancient Rome, he'd have sliced himself open in a hot tub — which I am NOT advocating here, I'm just noting the contrast). Not now. Not Blago.
  • The fact that Mr. Burris had no more pride than to stand up and accept the appointment. That was my first reaction when I heard about this over my vacation: Who would accept this under these circumstances? The answer: Mr. Burris would. This guy has no particular big strikes against him, they say. But this is a pretty big strike all by its lonesome. What's in the water up there?
  • The fact that this jerk is still the governor, and hasn't even been indicted, and we've got this "innocent until proven guilty" shtick in this country. Situations like this can make you hanker after the Napoleonic Code.

I figure that's enough to get y'all started on the subject. Fire away.

Retail watch: How’s business, as of this Cyber Monday?

Just a few minutes ago, I was reading a piece at the WSJ site that attempts to get a handle on how retail sales went across the country on Black Friday, and over the weekend. (Short version: Better than expected, but a lot of that was the loss-leader items on Friday, and once folks bought those up, sales slowed.)

That’s a hard thing to get a grip on. But it occurs to me that it would be interesting to enlist you blog readers in a reporting effort. And what better time to do it than on Cyber Monday? We know that one piece of the economic crisis is the reduction in consumer confidence — and, more substantially, in consumer spending. Hank Paulson a couple of weeks back starting emphasizing that at the expense of bailing out Wall Street.

Everyone expects this holiday season to be a bummer for the consumer economy, so let’s see if we can gauge, through our own experiences, how that’s going.

I’ll kick it off with some of my own purely anecdotal observations:

  • I started thinking about this weekend before last. It was the weekend after Circuit City had filed for bankruptcy and Best Buy had "sent a shiver through the retail and financial markets Wednesday as it
    sharply reduced its profit forecast due to plummeting sales." I was at Best Buy — the new one near Lexington — picking up my first Chrismas gift of the season. It was about 6 or 6:30 p.m. on a Sunday. I didn’t have to wait in line, so it occurred to me to ask the clerk whether they had been busy earlier in the weekend. He said they had. But you couldn’t tell by me. We also went to Lowe’s (the one closer to I-26) to pick up a couple of things and to look at charcoal grills, and I pointed out one to the wife that I would like very much to have.
  • On Thanksgiving, my kids who were in town and I were over at my parents house, and after dinner there was a good bit of looking through the ads in that day’s paper and discussion about who planned to shop Friday and who did not (I did not, since I had to work), which I’m sure would have pleased the folks down in advertising. One of my daughters, evidently shopping for things Dad might want, kept pointing things out in a neutral sort of way and asking what I thought. One idea stuck with me, and I later mentioned it to my wife (I didn’t want my daughter spending that kind of money on me). It was a loss-leader "door-buster" USB turntable — you know, a thing for turning all my old vinyl albums into MP3s — at J.C. Penney. It was $78.88, I think. Unfortunately, by the time I found the ad again and showed it my wife, I realized it was bit late for a "door-buster" price. Anyway, I’m worried that talking about that may have put the grill out of her mind, which would be a tactical error on my part.
  • Then we went back to Alice’s and had another Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat… no wait; wrong story… (But I did get to hear that part on the radio later that evening.)
  • Yesterday, the wife and I did a full-bore Harbison run starting around 3:30 p.m., and I’m sorry to report it was way easier than it would have been if retail were booming. (It WAS raining, of course.) We went to Verizon first, because she had left her phone charger in Memphis, where she had visited her Dad for Thanksgiving. We had perhaps the shortest wait I’ve ever had there — not even long enough to browse. We then hit the mall itself, and there were large swaths of parking lot empty. It was bustling, but not Christmas-season bustling. Long line at Starbucks, but that’s always the case at that Starbucks. My wife stopped at several kids-clothing shops looking for Christmas outfits for the twins, which struck me as impractical, but anything in the name of boosting the economy. She was disappointed not to find more bargains, except at Sears, where she made a purchase. Hot Topic didn’t have the thing my youngest daughter had specifically requested, but the clerk (who may have set a Midlands record for body piercings on the face alone) suggested we look on-line. We then went to Ross, Marshall’s, T.J. Maxx (all places where at least one of my daughters likes to shop), Best Buy (where I found a Sony USB turntable was $164, but that’s not why I was there), Publix, and home.
  • At home, I spent a good bit of time trying to find the item we couldn’t get at Hot Topic. I found it at the chain’s Web site, but then spent a bunch of time trying to find something my daughter might like just as much, but which I would not find as objectionable. Most of what I found, unfortunately, was in the UK rather than here at home, and I wasn’t sure how to negotiate pounds when I have dollars in my debit card account.

Anyway, that’s for starters. What do y’all have to contribute? I’d particularly like to hear from our own resident retailer, James D. McCallister. In fact, I might check to see whether he can get that item I’ve been searching the Web for…

Whither the blog?

Seems like this comment I put on this comment string is worth a separate post, since I’m looking for feedback:

Above we have 32 comments. Seventeen of them are by or about Lee
Muller (10 by him, including the first and the last; seven about him.)

That means the majority of comments are not about the subject at
hand. The subject at hand, of course, is my effort to elevate public
discourse above the level of polarization and pointless shouting.

I’d like to thank Harry, Karen, Phillip, Bart and, eventually bud
(once he decided not to "harp on the past") for engaging the topic
positively, and Randy and David for at least engaging the topic.

Anyone have any suggestions as to what do do with the fact that most
of the string was occupied with polarizing distractions? This is a
serious question, because now that the election is over I’m evaluating
how much energy to put into the blog, given that we are so short-handed
and I’m so harried these days.

When I started this blog, I had a staff of six full-time people
(including four associate editors) and one part-timer to write for,
edit and produce the editorial pages. And even then it was extremely
difficult to squeeze out the time from a 24-hour day to blog. Now I
have three full-timers (down to two associate editors) and one
part-timer in the editorial department. Finding time for the blog long
ago reached the point where most people would say "impossible."

My Sunday column spoke directly to why I do this blog. It’s about
carving out a place that is an alternative to most of the hyperpartisan
blogosphere, which reflects the style of nondiscourse framed by the
parties, the advocacy groups and the shouting-head television "news." A
place where people can interact constructively, and even listen to each

I deeply appreciate those of you who try to have a constructive
conversation in spite of all the shouters in the room. Unfortunately,
there are many, many people of good will who simply won’t try that hard.

Anyway, anybody have any constructive suggestions for going forward?

Of course, the very first comment I get it likely to be from Lee. But after that, I’d very much appreciate some relevant feedback from the rest of you.

Make that TWO pings, Vasily…


You probably saw that the Supreme Court sided with the U.S. Navy against the whales off Southern California. While I don’t have all that much to say about it, I thought it would be of interest to some of y’all to discuss the ruling here.

Whales are great, but I thought what Chief Justice John Roberts wrote made sense:

“The lower courts failed properly to defer to senior Navy officers’ specific, predictive judgments,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., joined by four other justices, wrote for the court in the first decision of the term.

For the environmental groups that sought to limit the exercises, Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “the most serious possible injury would be harm to an unknown number of marine mammals that they study and observe.” By contrast, he continued, “forcing the Navy to deploy an inadequately trained antisubmarine force jeopardizes the safety of the fleet.”

Contrasting with that snappy salute to the brass, Justices Ginsburg and Souter luridly dissented:

“Sonar is linked to mass strandings of marine mammals, hemorrhaging
around the brain and ears” and acute effects on the central nervous
system as well as “lesions in vital organs,” Justice Ginsburg wrote.

though the Navy has said it can find no previous documented case of
sonar-related injury to a marine mammal in such exercises, Justice
Ginsburg said the service had predicted that a current set of exercises
off the California coast would cause lasting injuries to hundreds of
beaked whales, along with vast behavioral disturbances to whales,
dolphins and sea lions.

The majority was overturning a ruling by the — you guessed it — Ninth Circuit.

And yes, that headline is a reference to Tom Clancy, who, were he an appeals judge, would be more of the Fourth Circuit variety.


Make your (presidential) predictions here

Just now I saw this request from Phillip:

Forgive the digression from the main point of this post, but hey Brad,
where’s a post where we all get to make our predictions for tomorrow?
After all, we’re like a great big dysfunctional family here on your
blog, me, bud, Randy, Lee, pm, David, slugger, Capital A, occasionally
Mayor Bob, etc. etc. Would love to see everybody go out on the limb at
this late hour and make their call. Popular and electoral.

So go for it.

I’m assuming y’all are mainly talking about predictions on the presidential race. I plan a separate post about local races.

My presidential prediction: Obama wins handily. Although it won’t be a blowout, it won’t be close the way the last two elections have been. McCain wins South Carolina, although not by the 20 percent that a recent poll predicted. Beyond that, I have no predictions, certainly none that I’d break down numerically. Obama will win both in the vote that counts (electoral) and the popularity contest. But I’m not good at predicting numbers.

At lunch today, Rick Noble wanted to bet a barbecue dinner that Obama would win S.C. Not that he thought he would, Rick just wanted to make a bet. That sound familiar? Yup, Phil Noble was proposing the exact same deal on our op-ed page the other day.

And here’s the weird part about that — Rick says they are NOT related.

The One’s prime-time address to the nation

Dig the faux Oval Office! Better than the faux Greek temple, even! He couldn’t have the Brandenburg Gate, but his folks sure can whip up a presidential-looking set, can’t they? Gotta spend that money on something, and Obama’s opted to burn some of it on a 30-minute Address To The Nation in Prime Time. Hey, why bother actually becoming president, if you can do cool stuff like this when you haven’t even been elected?

Anyway, I’m gonna watch the rest of it now. I just thought I’d give y’all a place to comment on it.

Today’s drop in the Dow: 733 points

bud wants to talk about the stock market today, so here you go:

NEW YORK — Despair over the economy sent Wall Street plunging again Wednesday, propelling the Dow Jones industrials down 733 points to their second-largest point loss ever. Stocks fell on a combination of disheartening economic data, including a big drop in retail sales and a Federal Reserve report that said tight credit conditions are hurting businesses across the country.

The government’s report that retail sales plunged in September by 1.2 percent – almost double the 0.7 percent drop analysts expected – made it clear that consumers are reluctant to spend amid a shaky economy and a punishing stock market.

The Commerce Department report was sobering because consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity. The reading came as Wall Street was refocusing its attention on the faltering economy following stepped up government efforts to revive the stagnant credit markets…

Me, I just get tired of the same stuff over and over. Stock traders must have the attention span of goldfish. Seems to me we already decided there was going to be a bad recession, and that the unemployment rate was going to go up, and consumers were unlikely to spend (because, if they’re like me, they ain’t got no money, not because they’re "reluctant"), and credit would be really tight at least until the rescue money started circulating around.

But the guys on the stock market seem to wake up every morning and go, "What? Bad financial news? I had no idea! Let’s all panic!"

And that gets tiresome.

What did you think of the debate?

My own quick take on it — WAY more interesting than the presidential debate. Higher energy, and more engaging.

Both did well. Of course, that means more in the case of Sarah Palin, because we knew Joe knew his stuff. Joe’s greatest danger was coming off as superior or condescending or ungentlemanly. Sarah’s greatest danger was coming off as she did with Katie Couric. She didn’t, and he didn’t. They both did a fine job.

But what do YOU think?

Should Friday’s debate be postponed?

McCain wants to postpone Friday night’s debate until a bipartisan consensus can be reached on the bailout plan. Obama wants to go ahead. Both are meeting with President Bush Thursday.

Should they debate the next night? What do you think?

Here’s a story on the subject:

The economic crisis and raw politics threatened to derail the first presidential debate as John McCain challenged Barack Obama to delay Friday’s forum and unite to help Washington fix the financial mess. Obama rebuffed his GOP rival, saying the next president needs to "deal with more than one thing at once."

The White House rivals maneuvered Wednesday to claim the leadership role in resolving the economic turmoil that has overshadowed their campaign. Obama said he would proceed with his debate preparations while consulting with bailout negotiators and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. McCain said he would stop all advertising, fundraising and other campaign events and return to Washington and work for a bipartisan solution.

"It’s my belief that this is exactly the time when the American people need to hear from the person who, in approximately 40 days, will be responsible for dealing with this mess," Obama said at a news conference in Clearwater, Fla. "It’s going to be part of the president’s job to deal with more than one thing at once."

But McCain said they must focus on a bipartisan solution as the Bush administration’s $700 billion bailout proposal seemed headed for defeat. If not, McCain said ominously, credit will dry up, people will no longer be able to buy homes, life savings will be at stake and businesses will not have enough money to pay workers.

"It has become clear that no consensus has developed to support the administration’s proposal," McCain said. "I do not believe that the plan on the table will pass as it currently stands, and we are running out of time."

President Bush invited both candidates to the White House on Thursday, along with congressional leaders, in hopes of securing a bill to rescue the economy. Bush took the unusual step Wednesday night of calling Obama directly to invite him, White House press secretary Dana Perino said. An Obama spokesman said the senator would attend.

In a joint statement Wednesday night, the candidates said the country faces "a moment of economic crisis," and called for political unity to solve it because "the jobs, savings and the prosperity of the American people are at stake." Both said the Bush plan was "flawed."

"We cannot risk an economic catastrophe," they said. "Now is our chance to come together to prove that Washington is once again capable of leading this country."

Sen. Lindsey Graham, McCain’s representative in debate negotiations, said McCain will not attend the debate "unless there is an agreement that would provide a solution" to the financial crisis. Graham, R-S.C., told The Associated Press that the agreement would have to be publicly endorsed by Obama, McCain, the White House and congressional leaders, but not necessarily given final passage by the House and Senate.

Asked whether the debate could go forward if McCain doesn’t show, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said: "My sense is there’s going to be a stage, a moderator, an audience and at least one presidential candidate."

Half a trillion? Whoa! That’s more than I make in a YEAR

OK, I realize that’s an old joke, but I just basically wanted to give y’all a post on which to react to the Bush administration’s proposal for dealing with the crisis on Wall Street:

WASHINGTON — Struggling to stave off financial catastrophe, the Bush administration on Friday laid out a radical bailout plan with a jaw-dropping price tag — a takeover of a half-trillion dollars or more in worthless mortgages and other bad debt held by tottering institutions.

Relieved investors sent stocks soaring on Wall Street and around the globe. The Dow-Jones industrials average rose 368 points after surging 410 points the day before on rumors the federal action was afoot.

A grim-faced President Bush acknowledged risks to taxpayers in what would be the most sweeping government intervention to rescue failing financial institutions since the Great Depression. But he declared, "The risk of not acting would be far higher."

Here are several versions of the story:

I’m still scrambling here to get the weekend editorial and op-ed pages out, but in the meantime, what do y’all think? The market seems to like it, but those folks are easily excited…

Wall Street reaches its Wile E. Coyote moment

Responding to a recent post, Grandmaster Bud said:

I keep waiting for Brad to post something about the financial market meltdown….

Of course, bud wanted to the subject to come up so he could make some broad statement about the election, which he went ahead and made:

… Apparently the Phil Gramm approach to regulation isn’t so great after all. And to think, if Bush/McCain had their way our Social Security funds would be in grave jeopardy now.

My response was to say that I already tried to give y’all a place to talk about that — you know, the George Bailey thing — but as I’ve made abundantly clear in the past, I generally don’t comment on things having to do with Wall Street, because I don’t understand it. That is, I sort of understand it, and what I do understand makes such little sense that I prefer not to go out on a limb offering opinions on such things.

But here goes anyway: I think markets are all a bunch of smoke and mirrors. Value is totally relative, so to me Phil Gramm and John Maynard Keynes make equal amounts of sense in this context. The value of something like Lehman is to me based on B.S. So the assets were overvalued — big, freaking surprise. Samuel T. tried to explain it to me this morning this way: If your assets are valued at $40 million, but they’re only worth $20 million, you’re overvalued. I get it. And I also think it’s a bunch of hooey. To me, the only value of a place like Lehman, shuffling its ones and zeroes around, is the buildings and office furniture and carpets and such that it owns, plus B.S. If people will pay you $40 million for your stock, it’s "worth" $40 million. If they’ll only pay you $20 million, it’s "worth" $20 million. If they suddenly realize it’s based on nothing — like Wile E. Coyote suddenly looking down and realizing nothing’s holding him up — it’s over.

One can say this about anything — the monetary worth of anything is what people are willing to pay for it. It’s true of comic books. And although I believe (as I have said) that comic books have an absolute value, I realize value is relative.

But when you’ve paid too much for your comic book and you’re off the cliff and you look down, at least you’ve still got your comic book. With Lehman and Merrill and the rest, I’m not sure that you have anything at all.

By the way — you know that Krugman column I wanted to run on the subject, but it got outdated? Well, I’m happy to say that I have a very solid Robert Samuelson piece on the subject for Wednesday’s paper. In it, he explains why "Wall Street as we know it is kaput." My favorite part is when he says that after a crash like this, some good thing may happen in reaction. For instance, "Talented and ambitious people may move from finance, where they were attracted by exorbitant pay, into more productive industries."

That could only be good for the country.

How are we feeling about the Electoral College?

Back on my post about recent polls, I agreed with Phillip that what matters is NOT these national popular-vote numbers we’re seeing, but how the candidates are stacking up in the battleground states. Then, I asked:

Taking that to another level — while Phillip and I agree that the state-by-state is what matters, can we agree that the state-by-state is what SHOULD matter?

That one was a tough question to get folks to agree on in November 2000, but right now, when we don’t know how this one is going to come out, how are we feeling about that old Electoral College?

So how about it. Without knowing yet how the popular vote comes out — and it could go either way at this point — how do YOU feel about the Electoral College? Good? Bad? Indifferent?

Personally, I think it’s a fine thing. It forces a candidate to have appeal across the country, rather than just in a few population centers. At least, it’s fine in the abstract.

Gallup shows McCain leading

This morning I see that, while Nielsen sees Obama and McCain tied in "buzz" (whatever that means), Gallup sees McCain leading by 5 points. A week ago, after the Democratic Convention and before the Republican, Obama had led by 7 points in the same poll.

From the USAToday story:

WASHINGTON — The Republican National Convention has given John McCain and his party a significant boost, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken over the weekend shows, as running mate Sarah Palin helps close an "enthusiasm gap" that has dogged the GOP all year.

McCain leads Democrat Barack Obama by 50%-46% among registered voters, the Republican’s biggest advantage since January and a turnaround from the USA TODAY poll taken just before the convention opened in St. Paul. Then, he lagged by 7 percentage points.

More on that "enthusiasm gap:"

Before the convention, Republicans by 47%-39% were less enthusiastic than usual about voting. Now, they are more enthusiastic by 60%-24%, a sweeping change that narrows a key Democratic advantage. Democrats report being more enthusiastic by 67%-19%

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Choosing Sarah Palin


Folks, I’m absolutely swamped, this being Friday morning, but I thought I’d give those of you with the time a place to discuss McCain’s choice of … let me go check her name again… Sarah Palin to be his running mate. Here are some conversation-starters:

  • One thing’s for sure, I don’t have any video to share with you of Gov. Palin. Never met the woman.
  • For a brief moment this morning, I thought maybe Bobby Jindal was back on the short list, when I saw this piece by him in the WSJ. (I know that’s not logical, but the human mind is susceptible to the suggestion of coincidences.) That would have been cool, because it would have made the two tickets perfectly symmetrical — McCain playing the role of Biden on the GOP ticket, and Jindal (young, charismatic, ethnic) playing Obama.
  • Do you think McCain made a big mistake not beefing up his ticket’s economic cred with Romney?
  • Not that I want to attach a lot of importance to her gender, but it would seem that McCain is really, really serious about going after those disaffected Hillary voters, the ones who took HER gender very, very seriously.
  • Where’s Wayne Campbell when you need him for expert commentary on whether she, if elected, would qualify as the first babe to be a heartbeat from the presidency?

Talk amongst yourselves.