Saturday, August 23, 2008

Thank God! ... It's Ordinary Joe!

By J. Thomas Duffy

No doubt, the ratings for those late night infomercials took a big hit.

Billy Mays' wallet will be a little lighter this week.

I'll be interested to hear what the strategy of dropping the news at around 1 am was (maybe, we were on target with our post yesterday).

Obama goes pragmatic and picks the senator from Delaware, Joe Biden.

Good a choice as any, and infinitely better than one.

The MSM certainly added to the frenzy of yesterday, desperately picking over the limited, sparse clues (even noting the pronouns Obama was using), ramping up the tension ("any minute now"), employing Britney Spears-like stakeouts, and all but stamping their feet in a tantrum, demanding Obama to spill the beans.

Christ, Stumblin Bumblin' John McCain could have gone out and bought another dozen houses yesterday and nobody would have noticed (and just wait, when the abode-laden Arizonian makes his VP choice, and the noise from the media isn't loud enough, we'll hear how, shame on the media, as a POW, he should have gotten more media for his selection).

It is said, of presidential candidates, that their first major decision, the one you can evaluate them on, is their selection of a running mate.

On that note, Obama aced it.

He didn't go out and grab "Who the hell is that?" -- a choice that would have either strained the capacity of Google or crashed Wikipedia.

He didn't, much to the chagrin of the Right-Wing Freak Show, choose his former pastor, the Reverend Wright, Jesse Jackson, or the Nation of Islam.

And he didn't buckle, capitulate to the media, or fall into the trap of tapping TMFOITW on the shoulder, just to make the Clintonistas, the Grand Central Station Locker Creatures ("Hillary is back! The keeper of the light! All hail Hillary! All hail Hillary! Oh Hillary can you see by the dawn's early light..."), happy.

Their disappointment has long been telegraphed, to the point they need occupational therapy, the cathartic roll call, just to justify that the "something can happen" sliver of hope they still hold will deliver "something can happen" that will make their world right again.

Hang on to that folks, until at least 2016.

Biden will be good for the campaign, comfortable slapping down Stumblin' Bumblin' Johnny, and not a risky choice that will have you worrying about November.

And he did give us this, the de facto line of the primary campaign.

So, for the Obama-Biden ticket, here's an old gem...

Go Get'em!

Terry Callier Ordinary Joe

Bonus Biden

Brilliant at Breakfast: And So, it's Biden....Barack Makes His Choice...and it's Good!

BreitBart: Biden speaks _ and speaks _ his own mind

Chris Cillizza: Obama Picks Biden as V.P.

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

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Biden time

By Libby Spencer

Well, I'm glad I didn't stay up all night waiting for the big surprise announcement since Obama went with the safe pick. You can find hundreds of reactions on Memeorandum but from the places I've cruised this morning, the reaction from the progressive lefties to Biden appears to be a collective -- meh.

That was my reaction. I'm not thrilled or inspired, but I'm not horrified either. It's a good enough pick and it makes sense in many ways. More importantly, anecdotal evidence would suggest that it's playing well with senior citizens, who are a reliable voting block. That can't hurt.

There's some talk about Biden's tendency to run off at the mouth, but I consider that a plus myself, as evidenced by this short clip.

Biden is a fighter, and more importantly in a race where elitism has become a major talking point, it's another positive that after decades inside the system, he's still one of the poorest politicians inside the Beltway, who gave his $800,000 in honoria for speaking engagements to charity and his wife is a schoolteacher.

As for the GOP's new waterboy, AP Washington Bureau Chief Ron Fournier's concern trolling, which seems to have a lot of traction in the news cycle, I'll let Steve Benen dispatch that as only he can do. Many wondered what would happen to AP when Fournier took over the bureau. It seems clear, he is leading the march of the once venerable wire service into irrelevancy.

That's the beauty of the internets. The days when past statements disappear down the memory hole are over, a fact which the elite media obviously hasn't fully grasped. Hacks like Fournier are due for a rude awakening. [links via Eschaton]

(Cross-posted at The Impolitic.)

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You go, Joe!

By J. Kingston Pierce

Abraham Lincoln is famous for having promoted former rivals to his inner circle. Now, in what may be the most crucial decision he’s making in this final stage of his presidential campaign, another Illinoisan, Barack Obama, has tapped his own former opponent, veteran U.S. Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware), to be his 2008 Democratic running mate. That choice demonstrates, as historian (and Lincoln authority) Doris Kearns Goodwin suggested earlier this week in a New York Times essay, a “rare combination of humility and confidence required to perform wisely at the highest level.”

It should also come as a relief to Democrats nervous that Obama would, at this comparatively late stage of the vice-president-choosing game, go with a safe pick of either Senator Evan Bayh (D-Indiana) or Virginia Governor Tim Kaine. Both are good men in their own rights. But Bayh, after delivering a so-so keynote address at the Democratic convention in 1996, has failed since to demonstrate the magnetism necessary for a national political run, and Kaine is a first-term chief exec whose inexperience would only have become fodder for John “100 Years War” McCain, whose campaign is desperately trying to make the case that Obama lacks the gravitas necessary to serve in the Oval Office. (Hey, where was that concern, Senator Small, when a weak Texas governor was lurching toward the White House seven-plus years ago?) “Are Kaine and Bayh the best Obama can do?” Salon editor Joan Walsh asked several weeks ago in a column. She received her answer this morning: no.

The 65-year-old Biden has gravitas up the ying-yang. A trained attorney, born in Pennsylvania but reared in Delaware, he was first elected to the Senate in 1972 at age 29 (age 29?!!), and has since become an expert on foreign affairs and judicial issues. Although he made some unfortunate statements about Obama in the primary season, which helped to end his second bid for the presidency (Biden previously ran in 1988), old-hand Washington watchers such as Salon’s Walter Shapiro have been asking for weeks now whether the practical and practiced Biden might not be the ideal person to balance a ticket with the young, idealistic Barack Obama. Shapiro wrote early last month:

The tenor of an Obama administration will be suggested, more than anything, by his vice-presidential choice.

That may be why the Obama campaign signals that narrow geographical calculations may not play a role in the hunt for a vice president. Briefing reporters in Washington last week, campaign manager David Plouffe dismissed the notion that a running mate should be expected to deliver his or her home state. Plouffe cited the choices of Al Gore in 1992 (Bill Clinton would have won Tennessee anyway) and Dick Cheney in 2000 (Wyoming was never in doubt for the GOP) as shrewd political choices that brought heft to the ticket. Plouffe predicted that Obama would choose someone who is “qualified to be president and who will be a partner in governing.”

The description certainly fits Biden, one of the leading foreign-policy figures in the Democratic Party. For a would-be president like Obama, who would enter the Oval Office facing the challenge of prudently withdrawing from Iraq, Biden’s long-standing proposal to acknowledge reality and divide the country into semi-autonomous Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish regions may have appeal. (Salon conducted a lengthy foreign-policy interview with Biden before the Iowa caucuses.) Granted, Biden, who never served in the military (he failed his draft physical during the Vietnam War), cannot play the macho-man war-hero card like Virginia Sen. Jim Webb. But his son Beau Biden, the attorney general of Delaware, will be deploying to Iraq this fall with his national guard unit.

Despite the dismal [primary election] results in Iowa, Biden was a spirited campaigner and an adroit, if sometimes loquacious, debater. Asked in an early 2007 debate whether he would have the discipline as president to control his motor-mouth, Biden gave a one-word answer, “yes,” and then stood there grinning as his subsequent silence prompted laughter.

“In choosing a vice president, you want somebody who can be on the campaign trail day after day, taking the pressure off the candidate,” said David Wilhelm, a former Democratic national chairman, who backed Biden in the primaries and is now an Obama advisor. “You want somebody who can drive the message of the day and can win the vice-presidential debate. One of the things that this campaign showed is that Joe Biden is a good retail politician.”

During the primaries, Obama had a difficult time winning over white Catholic voters, garnering only 34 percent support from this group in Ohio and only 28 percent in Pennsylvania, according to exit polls. Biden is not the only Catholic frequently mentioned as a veep possibility; Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is another. But Biden comes equipped with a just-plain-Joe political style and a heart-rending personal history--his wife and infant daughter died in a car crash just a month after he was elected to the Senate in 1972. As a senator, Biden took the train to Wilmington virtually every night to be with his two surviving sons.

All of this, of course, ends the hopes of die-hard Hillary Clinton supporters who imagined that Obama’s willingness to work with (and learn from) former rivals would result in his choosing her to become vice president of the United States. But Mrs. Clinton, for all of her strengths (and I originally supported her in the 2008 race) would have been a disastrous choice in this contest. McCain undoubtedly hoped Obama would pick her as his running mate. She’d have become a lightning rod for Republican’t haters, and helped to rally conservatives disappointed with McCain’s occasional fits of contrariness (he’s no real maverick--he voted with George W. Bush 100 percent of the time), his ever-growing repertoire of gaffes, his history of adultery, and his abundant flip-flops on issues about which he supposedly once held deep convictions. Clinton would be better as U.S. attorney general, and I hope that Obama gives her serious consideration for that position.

Biden’s primary run offers Republican’ts a few choice quotes to use in their negative ads against Obama. (One such advertisement is already making the rounds.) But those sorts of statements are merely what is necessary in trying to win a political contest; no independent-thinking U.S. voter is going to hold Biden’s earlier comments about Obama against his now running mate, any more than Obama himself will. And the Delaware senator’s remarks were never that biting, anyway. Hillary Clinton would’ve provided the GOP with much more ammunition.

Biden is one of the few choices Obama could’ve made that changes the political landscape dramatically. (Selecting combative Senator Jim Webb of Virginia might have had the same effect, but been less predictable in its outcome.) He’s extremely well liked by D.C. journalists, many of whom have been sucking up to McCain and been more reticent toward Obama, as an outsider. Biden’s potential to bring wary journalists into the Obama fold is likely to result in improved coverage of the Obama campaign, in some quarters. That “rare combination of humility and confidence” Goodwin suggests it demonstrates should impress more than a few fence-sitting voters, as well. And Biden is a terrific speaker with a biting wit sure to serve both he and Obama well during this campaign. (I very much look forward to seeing him eviscerate whoever sits across from him in the coming vice-presidential debates.)

The real question now is how Republican’ts will combat the Obama-Biden ticket. McCain is working with a dismally thin deck of good choices for his own veep contender. The controversy over McCain’s elitism, brought into public view this week by his not even being able to remember how many houses he owns may doom the chances of Mitt Romney being asked to come on board with all of his deep-pocketed Mormon backing; all McCain needs is another rich guy on his ticket to suggest to Americans just how out of touch he is with their economic concerns. He could go with Tim Pawlenty, the governor of Minnesota, but Pawlenty isn’t particularly popular in his own state, and he’s an almost unknown nationally. Furthermore, seeing 48-year-old Pawlenty standing with septuagenarian McCain would only re-energize the concerns about McCain’s being a latter-day Bob Dole, too old to serve in a job as demanding as that of the president of the United States. McCain could go instead with either Florida Governor Charlie Crist or his traveling mate, Senator Lindsay Graham, but both are rumored to be closet gays, which wouldn’t sit well with all those homosexual-hating right wingers McCain needs in his camp.

Finally, the Arizona senator could try to play on his supposed maverick credentials by asking former Democrat Joe Lieberman to run on a cross-party ticket. At 66 years old, Lieberman is at least younger than McCain, but wouldn’t look so much younger as to raise doubts in voters’ minds. And he’s Jewish, which might put the traditionally Democrat-leaning Jewish vote in some play. On the other hand, Lieberman--though he ran with former Vice President
Al Gore for the White House back in 2000--has lost credibility and stature ever since by supporting Bush’s wasteful and ill-conceived war against Iraq with the same blindered enthusiasm that McCain demonstrates. Lieberman’s impact on undecided independents might be minimal, at best, and choosing him would only antagonize the Rush Limburghers of the world, who already question McCain’s manhood and have put it about that picking Lieberman would “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.”

Certainly, Obama’s Biden choice makes things much more difficult for McCain. No longer is he running against somebody he considers unprepared for the presidency; now he’s running against a combined ticket of youthful vigor and optimism, and vast experience paired with unimpeachable foreign-policy credentials. I wouldn’t want to be on McCain’s veep selection panel right now.

One interesting thing that has come out of the news that Joe Biden will team with Barack Obama this fall: speculation that Biden would be too old after two successive Obama terms in the White House to run for the presidency himself again. Does anybody else find it curious that such questions are being raised? After all, Biden is only 65. Eight years from now, he’ll be ... 73. That’s just one year older than John McCain is going to be on August 29--less than a week from today. If Biden would be too old to run for president in 2016, is McCain too old already?

(Cross-posted at Limbo.)

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By Creature

It's done. The long awaited pick of Obama's VP is here and it's Joe Biden. I must say I'm happy with the pick.

There are a bunch of negatives to Biden (his war vote, the bankruptcy bill), but I will not let them sour me. Biden brings to the table solid Washington experience, solid foreign relations experience and most of all his mouth. Joe Biden will be the attack dog Obama's campaign needs. He's fearless in confrontation (he will be everything John Edwards wasn't for Kerry four years ago). Biden will also bring in votes. He's got name recognition and he solidifies a portion of the Democratic base that has been flirting with the idea of McCain because of Obama's "newness."

Overall Joe Biden serves to reassure and the fact that Obama recognized that bodes well for his campaign and his presidency.

Obama-Biden '08. Sounds good to me.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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The dude a-Biden

By Carl

Hm. An interesting, if obvious, choice of Vice Presidential running mate for Barack Obama is
Joe Biden, Senator from Delaware. He brings experience, intelligence, and foreign affairs knowledge out the wazoo.

Along with a lot of baggage.

I think it's somewhat ironic that Biden was Obama's choice, because the one big flaw he has, running his mouth off, is what got Obama noticed nationally in the first place.
Remember this juicy little tidbit?

"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy," Biden said. "I mean, that's a storybook, man."

Funny how no one really played the race card there, but the second the Big Dog mentioned "fairy tales" in the same breath as "Obama campaign, even though he was talking about Obama claiming to be antiwar, "RACIST! RACIST CRACKER!" came rolling down the hills like flaming barrels of pitch!

Now, Biden has some strategic significance. Like Hillary Clinton, Biden has ties to the working class areas of Pennsylvania, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, and is the senior senator from neighboring Delaware. Too, at age 65, presumably after 8 years of Obama, Biden would be too old to run for President, thus limiting his danger to the Obama agenda.

And clearing a path to the Presidency for Hillary, should she decide to run at that time. Biden would also lubricate what will likely be a contentious first term in the Democratic Senate.

See, just because Obama is President doesn't mean he'll automatically get his way. First, you have the Clinton faction who would love nothing but to pick off opportunities to injure Obama's legacy, but also, there are likely a significant number of senior Senators who view Obama's rapid rise in politics as something to take down a peg (Biden was probably one of them, so this removes one large obstacle in the same motion).

All in all, this is more of a win for Obama than a loss. There are several issues confronting Biden (after all, if he were perfect, it would be "Biden/Obama '08") most notably his ego and his uncontrollable mouth.

Those could hurt Obama, big time. But, Biden might be a good soldier. He carried a lot of water for Bill Clinton during those years.

I look forward to this ticket.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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By Capt. Fogg

It's from the Latin Scurille for buffoon and somehow it's the word that came to mind when I saw the attack ad that Fox News "accidentally" ran yesterday, an ad that attempts to associate Barak Obama with radical groups from the 60s and with the terrorists of 9/11.

Scurrilous -- among the definitions one finds are: given to vulgarity, evil, containing obscenities, abuse, or slander. Not a perfect word, perhaps, but close, and it marks the opening ceremonies of the Olympics of Opprobrium. I'm afraid that once again, the gold medal will go to the side that is willing to do and say anything whatever and without scruple or restraint. There are always enough people willing to believe something that allows them an excuse to exercise their private bigotries and secret prejudices; always enough to swing an election.

The utterly scurrilous attempt to prove that Obama is not a natural born citizen, even though he was born in the US (unlike McCain) continues and an attack ad against Obama's vice-presidential choice Joe Biden aired within hours of the selection being known.

Of course, McCain has a chance to disassociate himself from the sleaze. McCain is perfectly capable of running a dignified campaign; is perfectly capable of announcing that "I'm John McCain and I do not approve of all this, but we know he won't. He will be happy to let it fester and ferment as long as he can get a single vote out of it while washing his hands like Pilate and blaming it all on someone else.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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There is something about the Senate --

By Carol Gee

This campaign has been all about the senators. Not many Senators have ascended to the presidency. And now the rout of outsiders is complete and a senator will be elected President in 2008, and perhaps Vice President. The AP and MSNBC confirmed that Senator Joe Biden will be Senator Obama's running mate.

We are not surprised, but that is OK. All the signs pointed in Biden's direction -- the trip to Georgia, his silence yesterday (it is very hard for him to be quiet), flowers and family arriving at his home, etc. Operating only from memory (I'll confirm much more through research later), here are a few initial reflections.

It is a good thing. Biden is a smart choice. Biden will do just fine. He has wanted to be president for a long time, and he will be happy to be Vice President. He will offer wide counsel, foreign relations gravitas, and honest feedback. He will provide good leadership that will not require the "lawyering-up" of a Cheney/Bush.

Joe Biden has the seasoning of difficult life experiences, intellect, courage and honesty, and a very fine record as a working senator and leader. He lost his beloved first wife and child many years ago. He rebuilt his life and found love again. He has weathered serious health problems. He has ridden the train back and forth from Delaware to Washington for years and years. So, he knows the value of "chilling." And he has a bit of healthy vanity, having had his male pattern baldness repaired, in front of all of us, many years ago.

No more an elitist than Senator Obama is, he comes from a working class background. These two intelligent Democratic nominees can govern well together. If it had been about garnering votes Senator Obama would have chosen Senator Clinton. But governance would have been a nightmare.

About getting elected, however, Senator Biden will know how to fiercely oppose Senator McCain. He has known the Arizonan since he came into the senate. I have no doubt that he will be able to make the case that McCain and our current president (OCP) are "one and the same." I remember many times when Biden was standing before MSNBC's cameras roundly criticizing OCP for his latest misstep without holding much of anything back. He can serve the traditional Vice Presidential role of attack dog quite adequately. But he will do it with class.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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Veepstakes: It's Biden!

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Obama-Biden '08

The official announcement will come later today, but, following much speculation, sources are confirming that Obama has chosen Biden to be his running mate.

Biden has his problems, to be sure, but I'm pleased. He was the best of the leading contenders and I think he's a solid pick. (Indeed, I've been predicting that it would be Biden for some time.)

More at Memeorandum. And more from us later.

We'll have extensive coverage of the Biden pick over the weekend and then of the Democratic convention next week.

For now, though, I'm off to watch the Olympics. Good night.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Veepstakes: Not Bayh, not Kaine, likely Biden

By Michael J.W. Stickings

According to NBC's Andrea Mitchell, both Bayh and Kaine have been "told they're not it."

Meanwhile, according to ABC's Political Punch, the Secret Service has been sent "to assume the immediate protection" of Biden.

According to CNN's Political Ticker, there's been "a flurry of activity" at Biden's Delaware home.

Also according to CNN, the pick will be announced tomorrow morning.

And, apparently, it won't be Hillary.


UPDATE: You know how crazy this has gotten? Using FlightAware, Ambinder has discovered a mysterious charter flight from Chicago Midway to New Castle, Delaware.

There are "[n]o other flights from anywhere in and around Chicago to anywhere in and around Delaware... or vice versa. Just this charter."

Quite the impressive investigative work, but is it overkill? Yes, maybe. But I must admit, I'm really into this. The suspense is what's crazy, but I suppose we'll know soon enough, though perhaps we do already, that it's Biden.

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By Libby Spencer

A lot of people are thinking that McCain may have thrown down the POW card one too many times yesterday when the campaign pushed back against the reaction to his house gaffe by saying, "This is a guy who lived in one house for five and a half years -- in prison," referring to the prisoner of war camp that McCain was in during the Vietnam War." The best take on it I've seen is by Brandon Friedman at Vet Voice.

The fact is, John McCain's service during Vietnam was honorable and he sacrificed a great deal. But his service to the country carries no more weight than that of any other POW. Likewise, while McCain has given so much to his country, thousands of veterans--past and present--have given as much or more. In this war alone, thousands of troops have lost limbs, been paralyzed, and been burned beyond recognition. So to see McCain resort to playing the POW card when answering legitimate questions, in my mind, cheapens that experience. And by cheapening his own experience in war, he degrades all of our experiences in war. He turns the horrific incidents we've all seen, touched, smelled, and felt into a lame excuse to earn political points. And it dishonors us all.

Read the rest for yourself. Another really good point he makes that has been little remarked is how McCain seems to forget that over 150,000 homeless vets, many of whom also served in combat in Vietnam, live on America's streets. The only "houses" they own are cardboard boxes under a bridge. So maybe instead of voting against legislation to help war veterans and banging the drum for more wars, McCain could be doing something to help those war heroes who also served honorably.

(Cross-posted at The Impolitic.)

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Obama keeps the out-of-touch pressure on

By Creature

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Sign of the Apocalypse #56: Britney's hot new body

By Michael J.W. Stickings

This is awesome. The media may be staking out Biden and Kaine, among others, with all eyes on the Veepstakes prize, but we know what's really important, don't we? CNN certainly does:

Wait, where are the exclamation points!!!

Britney's sexy again... or what passes for sexy these days, to some... and.... she's a dietician who can offer advice and salvation to all of us schlubs picking bits of potato chip out of our belly buttons while knocking back urine-flavoured beer.

Yes, "Showbiz Tonight's Brooke Anderson talks with her panel about reaction to revelations by Britney Spears in OK! Magazine." Really? A panel? We need a panel on this?

And... reaction to revelations? These are "revelations"? Britney is a revealer? Take cover, frogs are falling from the skies.

Oh, look, there's Britney on horseback!

Apparently, she's "sworn off all sugar." (I say as I down the last remnants of a blueberry fritter.) And -- hold on, it gets better -- she "says she cut frappuccinos out of her diet completely." Completely! That takes determination and courage of a kind and degree and you and I and rest of the schlubs just can't match. Celebraties are so much better than we are. But what will she ever do without even a single, solitary frappuccino to cool the cockles on a sticky summer afternoon? No wonder Starbucks is closing shops.

And she's down to 1200 calories a day! But remember, those are celebrity calories. Our calories are different.

She's the healthiest she's ever been! So what if she's a lousy mother who's already fucked up her kids? Where can I get me those diet secrets of hers? Hit me with the truth, baby!

And now, watch the video for yourselves. I'm off to do some arm curls with a couple o' Kit-Kats Chunks.

Clearly, I'm not worthy. Isn't that what our celebrity-worshipping culture wants me to believe?

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Veepstakes: Breathless anticipation

By Michael J.W. Stickings

David Brooks makes a cliché-riddled case for Biden, "a lunch-bucket Democrat," a man of honesty, loyalty, and experience. As something of a Biden supporter-admirer myself, it's a case I like, and, for once, a Brooks column doesn't give me atrocious indigestion.

And Brooks's column is a fount of calm detachment compared to what is being churned out elsewhere:

CNN: "Obama notifies candidates on shortlist."

AP: "Obama is hours away from naming running mate."

At, you can actually watch live footage from the media stakeouts of the homes of Biden and Kaine (if not others). What, is it Sweeps already? Who says the idiot box isn't educational?


Biden-backer Steve Clemons, calm and detached, offers a new angle, a "sleeper": Rep. Chet Edwards of Texas. A serious and solid guy, to be sure, a relatively unknown Democratic star, perhaps a fine pick any other year, but Obama wouldn't go there, would he?


On the other side, Mark Halperin reported yesterday that two GOP insiders were calling it for Romney but, now, Le Politico is reporting that "no final decision has been made."

I still think it'll be Romney. Unless it's Eric Cantor, an intriguing option.

According to the NYT, abortion is "crucial for No. 2. Meaning, it'll be an ardent pro-lifer. Meaning, neither Ridge nor Lieberman.

Gen. David Petraeus is being floated by some as a wild card. Which is just silly -- even if he does have political aspirations (2012?). Even McCain doesn't want the election to be entirely about Iraq


More from Halperin:

-- Hillary was never vetted. (Her supporters will not be amused. Unless, of course, she's the one.)

-- Chet Edwards was vetted. (And "was a finalist for the job." See above.)


UPDATE: Le Politico goes the blunt route: "Hillary gets stiffed."

She's still my wildcard prediction, but it looks like that won't happen. (Of course, she's already been vetted ad nauseam, notably by the VRWC, so who knows?)

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Breaking! Obama VP call delayed - Piece of paper with name lost

By J. Thomas Duffy

Sources tell The Garlic that the announcement of Barack Obama's vice president has been delayed, indefinitely, as chaos consumes Obama Headquarters in Chicago, searching for the piece of paper Obama "jotted" the name on.

"They're going crazy," offered one insider, close to the Obama campaign.

"They're rummaging through desks, emptying trash cans on floor, and they even have two interns sitting in the dumpster out back, going through every scrap of paper."

Unconfirmed rumors say that Obama wrote the name of his VP choice on the paper of a arugula wrap sandwich, a few days ago.

Staffers are attempting to confirm when the trash has been picked up last and are contemplating dispatching campaign staff to the city dump, to start the search there, just in case.

In addition to the campaign office, Obama's home and automobile have also been investigated.

Our source tells us that the campaign hasn't ruled out a hypnotist, to take Obama back to when he was eating the arugula wrap, to see if he can say the name, while in the trance.

More as this story develops.

Bonus Links

Top Ten Cloves: Things That Can Go Wrong With Obama Announcing VP Choice Via Email

Top Ten Cloves: Other Things Bill O'Reilly Will Do To Get Interview With Barack Obama

Top Ten Cloves: If Hillary Clinton Is A Monster, The Movies That Would Be Made About Her

(Cross Posted at The Garlic)

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Liberty is a terrorist

By Capt. Fogg

The story goes like this: you're told you can no longer work at your current job and you can no longer find employment in your profession because your name is on a government list. The government won't confirm or deny it, so you can't go about demonstrating that you've been falsely put on it because you have no idea of what you've been accused of or why -- or even that the list exists. As far as you know the list is only there to keep you from working.

No, it's not a newly discovered Franz Kafka novella, it's the story of Erich Scherfen, a man who served honorably in the US military and during the Gulf War. He's currently employed as a regional airline pilot, but has been told that he can no longer fly because the TSA has him on a "terror" list -- a list that no one is allowed to see, not even to demonstrate that it's all a mistake.

But wait -- aren't we guaranteed the right to confront our accuser? Don't we get a day in court? Doesn't the government have to show we've committed a crime before taking our rights away? Hell, no, not in the Republican fascist hellhole full of apathetic consumers and mewling, cringing cowards that we used to call a free country. The "terror" list itself is the most terrifying thing about our pathetic pretend democracy and more pathetic for the fact that the only organization anywhere who will stand up for this man, the ACLU, is the favorite demon of the ruling party.

Of course they know why Scherfen is so terrifying and so do I -- he's a Muslim and his wife, an American citizen, was born in Pakistan and came here as a kid. His crime is flying while Muslim. Our crime is not giving a damn. Our crime is not storming the Bastille, dragging the bastards out of their offices and pillorying them. But we don't, we mumble about the Pledge and God on the money and them damn "Libs" in the ACLU and how John McCain will deal with "terror" much better while freedom itself is on the "terror list" and cannot fly.

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Veepstakes: More speculation, more Hillary talk

By Michael J.W. Stickings

For what it's worth (as I just got back from the Jays-Yankees game -- a Jays 14-3 thrashing of the Yanks! -- and am pretty tired):

According to Time's Mark Helperin, "[t]wo Republicans who know say McCain has apparently settled on Mitt Romney as his running mate." He predicts Obama will announce Biden on Saturday.

Krazy Kristol, poking through a Time interview with Obama from earlier this week, thinks it could be Reed, "the best choice among the senators."

Karen Tumulty, who co-conducted the interview, guesses Bayh.


Obama tells USA Today that he's already made up his mind but "would not reveal the name or just when he will tell the nation about his choice."


As for me, well, more and more, I think Obama will pick Hillary. As I've said before, it makes a lot of sense, and now more than ever, and it would be just the sort of game-changer he needs.

The announcement could come on Saturday in Springfield, Illinois. Just imagine the excitement if it's Hillary -- just imagine what incredible momentum that would generate, what powerful party unity, what an awesome narrative for the media.

I'd be fine with Biden (and perhaps Reed), but, yes, part of me -- and given how the primaries went I can't quite believe it's come to this, that I'm about to write this -- part of me, a big part, wants it to be Hillary.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

John McCain's housing bubble

By Creature

"I think - I'll have my staff get to you." -- a clueless and confused John McCain responding to a question on how many homes he owns.

And they call Barack Obama an elitist. I wished they had asked Fancy Pants McCain how many $520 Ferragamo moccasins he has as well.

Thankfully, the Obama camp is on the ball with this gift that keeps on giving. Here's the response ad:

Here's Obama on the stump hitting Fancy Pants McCain as the real out-of-touch candidate in the race:

What's McCain's response to all this? "A noun, a verb, and prisoner of war." Incredible.

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It has been on my mind

By Carol Gee

I suffer from being a political junkie, and I almost always have something on my mind. Sometimes I write about it, sometimes not. As a regular blogger who writes first at my own website, I usually post about certain subjects on a regular basis. And then I cross-post them for the different groups to whom I belong. I had to hold to a schedule in order to avoid becoming overwhelmed when my four children were small. Now it is easy for me to get over-loaded, too.

Because I have a lot on my mind, and lots of resource people sending me good stuff, I often get rather long-winded. That is not really the best form for The Reaction, so with Michael's permission, today's post is what he calls a "pointer." It points to some recent posts at my home page, South By Southwest.

Fun-fun. Thursdays I try to focus on the Middle East. Today's post explores "Deals in the making" -- with the Iraqi government about the status of forces -- and deals within Iraq about their oil supply. Condoleezza Rice is now in Iraq to try to move the process forward, even though China is the Iraqis' most favored nation for the oil deal. Deadlines come and go, gas prices go down, and the political race goes on here at home.

No "crying wolf." Activism is usually Wednesday's theme. There are a large number of "Warning Voices" out there, to whom we might listen. I posted on Daniel Ellsberg's take on the current state of the nation -- "dire." The challenge is keeping perspective on actual risks, in the face of fear mongering from our government, along with countering irrational Republican (and some Democratic) assaults on civil liberties.

Political posturing observed. Congress is at recess, but the House and Senate are never far from my mind. Tuesday it was Congress' turn for a post: "Congress Thinking about Energy and the Economy." And most of their thinking is about gasoline prices and unwisely reactionary to our lousy economy. I look at what might be coming up when they are back into session.

A picture that is laugh-out- loud funny.
Sunday is for more personal writing and "Finding humor is tough these days." Others, evidently have the same thought and send me stuff, so in this post I share several quirky bits of news in a light vein.

(At South by Southwest.)

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Limbaugh and the "little black man-child"

By Capt. Fogg

Rush Limbaugh seems finally to have responded to criticism of his indefensible attack on Elizabeth Edwards's sexual practices and prolix propensities:

You can't hit the girl,

he laments, with a gratuitous dig at feminism and Hillary Clinton. Sure you can, Rush, and you'll hit anyone and then act like you've been unfairly treated by the nasty "liberals" who call you an immoral, dishonest, and reprehensible bastard for having been all those things for so long.

His latest gambit is to complain that we're complaining that Obama is being attacked and we're complaining because of course, he is above criticism. I would commend him for this inventiveness, but it seems to come so easily to him that I can't give him any credit. Of course nobody is putting Obama on a pedestal, nobody is treating him like a messiah, that's only the game the Limp Boy is playing because the man is obviously a better leader, more intelligent, and better able to express coherent thoughts and policies. Sorry to disappoint you, Rushbag, I just think Obama is better, not that he's Jesus Christ and Elvis rolled into one.

You can't criticize the little black man-child. You just can't do it, 'cause it's just not right, It's not fair. He's such a victim,

whines Rush, posing as a victim.

Sure you can, Rush. It's really only you pretending that anyone is above criticism. It's really only you pretending that our revulsion at your bigotry, your limitless amorality and your viciousness toward anyone you feel like being vicious toward. Do you think anyone doesn't read "man-child" as your snickering replacement for "boy"? Criticism of a political candidate is always fair, but libel, slander and all the other fictions you excrete for the benefit of your fatuous and furious followers is not fair. Undermining truth and justice and decency isn't fair and that's just the way you make your $38 million a year. If you had any real concern for the United States of America, you'd fill your pockets with bricks and start wading east from your magnificent beachfront property until you drown.

(For more, see TP, C&L, and MMFA -- MJWS)

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The state of the race: Polls, projections, and presidential politics

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Poll-wise, the news hasn't been good for Obama in recent weeks -- and it seems to be getting worse. Although he still leads in most national polls, the gap has generally been narrowing. And the media, which love the tension that comes from high electoral drama, have dutifully (and thoughtlessly) been in sensationalization mode.

Consider this headline of a post by my good friend and blogging mentor Joe Gandelman over at The Moderate Voice (where I'm an assistant editor):

The poll with McCain up by five is from Zogby, which means that it's accuracy and credibility are in question. As poll watchers have come to know, Zogby is, in general, highly unreliable. And yet it is true, as Joe points out, that, in general, poll results show a tightening race. It is not necessarily the case, however, that Obama is "weakening." Rather, McCain may actually be strengthening as Republicans (and conservatives who find him suspect) coalesce behind him heading into the conventions and the more earnest campaign to follow. Basically, for whatever reason, the race is now extremely close. As the indispensable Nate Silver finds, it's more or less a tie.

And yet, like John Cole and my friend Skippy, I think there's more ado about this than there ought to be. Things have been doing fairly well for McCain -- even though (or precisely because) he's been running an ugly campaign that revels in ignorance, faux populist pandering, and abject stupidity (consider the tire-inflation brouhaha and the "celebrity" smearing of Obama) -- but, like John, "I am a firm believer that the national polling really does not matter until after the second convention. When both candidates have chosen their VP and held their conventions, then I think we will really get a good idea of how the candidates are stacking up." Plus, as we all know, it's about the Electoral College, not the national popular vote.


Explaining the current situation, David Gergen offered some astute analysis at CNN yesterday. I think he's pretty much right on the mark:

Say what you will about Republicans making a muddle of governing, but they sure know how to campaign. The turn of events that John McCain and his team have engineered in recent weeks is one of the most significant events of the campaign and now poses a serious threat of an upset this fall.

In just a few short weeks, they have not only thrown Barack Obama on the defensive and made him seem smaller but they have also made McCain seem larger and more commanding. And it has not just been one event but a string of them that they have tied together to propel McCain upward — from the ads (which most of us in the media didn't like) to the way McCain seized upon the drilling and Russian issues to his winsome performance at Saddleback. The capacity to create issues and momentum practically out of the ether is the sign of a strong campaign. Both McCain and his team are impressing voters.

And the results are now showing up in the polls: not only are some key states like Ohio breaking toward McCain but the Reuters/Zogby poll today showed McCain opening up a 5-point national lead — and stunningly, voters said in that survey that he would be better handling the economy than Obama! That is the bread and butter issue for the Democrats, one they should be able to seize upon to capture seats up and down the ticket.

Now, a couple of cautions are in order. This race was always going to tighten as Republican voters came home and McCain is benefiting to a considerable degree because that has been happening of late. In all the polls, there also remains a large bloc of voters who are undecided and many of them look like they are potential Obama voters. Campaigns also have a tendency to ebb and flow, so that the latest McCain tide could easily recede, especially if the Democrats put on a thunderous convention or McCain makes a mistake (not hard to envision). And there remains great, great enthusiasm on the Obama side and a general antipathy to the Bush years. So, it is important not to insert lots of caveats.

Still, this should be a huge wake-up call to Obama and the Democrats. From my perspective, Obama needs to introduce a game changer — and fast — before public opinion starts to gel around the notion that he is a phenom who deserves great respect but is not seasoned enough and would be too much of a risk in the Oval Office.

For Gergen -- and I concur -- a game-changer would be putting Hillary or Gore on the ticket or "Building Team Obama" in advance, that is, naming a few top Cabinet appointments before the election.

But a game-changer would also be going on the offensive and not letting McCain and the Republicans define the terms and the substance of the campaign. Another would be just being Obama again, the inspirational candidate of the primaries, the candidate of hope and change, the candidate with a serious plan to right America's wrongs and to put the country back on track again.

There is a lot more that Obama needs to do -- from taking the issues to McCain, including the economy, health care, and other domestic issues on which McCain is both weak and well to the right, to defining McCain instead of letting both the McCain campaign and the media perpetuate the McCain mythology, to defining himself instead of letting McCain and the Republican Smear Machine do it -- but let's not forget that a few weeks do not make up an entire campaign. It wasn't so long ago, after all, that Obama was on his global tour generating an incredible amount of positive media coverage and basically dominating the campaign. McCain has done well since then, but there is nothing to suggest that he will continue to do as well -- and I mean this in terms of controlling the overall narrative of the campaign -- through the conventions and into the fall. And while Obama has been going through what may be described as a worrying lull, there is nothing to suggest that he won't pick up where he left off upon his return from his overseas trip.

Which is to say, once the campaign gets underway in earnest with the veep picks this week and then, starting on Monday, the conventions, and once Americans start paying attention to the race and the style and substance of the two candidates are put on more prominent public display, I think the advantage will be Obama's once again. Of course, McCain still has his free pass from the media and the Republican Smear Machine is rather effective, but I remain confident that Obama will pull it together and put these last few weeks behind him.

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Will the real man please stand up?

By Capt. Fogg

There's a divide and you're either on one side or another and, whether genetics or experience is the greater factor, one can tell your polarity even without discussing politics. No, I'm not talking about liberals and conservatives -- I'm not quite sure what those things mean any more -- I'm talking about the cultural divide that puts John McCain in the same camp as the fellow I know who lives in a shack out by Lake Okeechobee, whose tattooed torso is shirtless all summer and who has never owned anything but old, beat-up trucks. Those in the category I know personally, include a retired engineer who used to design ordnance, several retired military pilots and others who share very little in life but the "me against the world" attitude, an appreciation for John Wayne movies, authoritarian governments who never the less govern less - and the distrust of intellectuals.

Now that the media has decided to tell us that violence in Iraq has declined dramatically, it seems that such people are seeing John McCain as someone who can be most obstinate and forceful in dealing with the Iraqi Government's desire for the kind of freedom and independence and sovereignty we have made such a fuss about giving them. Barry says we're going while the Maverick shows his "maverisciousness" by saying "not so soon" to the colonials. That's what we can see John Wayne doing and that's what they fear Obama will not do: give us a settlement that seems more forced than negotiated; a settlement that makes us look more victorious than negotiated; that makes the whole misguided enterprise look like a glorious demonstration of imperial power.

Whether or not violence has decreased and whether or not the Iraqi government is now strong enough to fight its own battles, the gap between McCain and Obama, at least in the polls, seems to be closing as it becomes more likely that the glorious and victorious peace with honor we were denied in Vietnam is more likely with the former than the latter, under whom it might just quickly and quietly end.

An accord has apparently been reached, however, and if the Iraqi Parliament approves, the matter may be settled before the election. Perhaps McCain will have to invent a new attitude for himself as regards the 100-year occupation he's apparently comfortable with. Regardless of what that might be, the below average pilot who nearly flunked out of the academy his father got him into, will be seen as better be too many people simply because he wore a uniform than the far more intelligent and accomplished Obama.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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Going "Dr. Phil" on Barry

By Carl

This article raises some interesting issues, stuff that's bothered me about Barack Obama since he started stirring the pot during the primaries:

It's not panic time - yet - but some Democrats watching Barack Obama say his campaign should have gotten a wake-up call this week, not only from his appearance with John McCain at the Saddleback Church but from a major poll suggesting he no longer leads his GOP opponent.

At the Saddleback forum with Pastor Rick Warren on Saturday in Orange County, the Republican presidential candidate delivered on-the-money messages and answers so effective they were "scary to me," said George Lakoff, a renowned author and UC Berkeley linguistics professor who has studied how the human brain absorbs and processes messages.

[...]By contrast, Obama was "overconfident ... and certainly not prepared" before the evangelical audience with definitive answers to clearly explain to voters his world view, values and vision, Lakoff said.

Now, admittedly, you could view the Saddleback forum as an exhibition game ahead of Opening Day. It was not that formal a debate setting, the questions were designed to be fairly easy, which means they involved more philosophy than intellect.

The problem Obama will face in the general election is he speaks like a college professor, which works well with his base, but he does not speak like a church minister, which works better with the audience he's looking to attract now.

Lakoff's right and he's wrong: Obama's message is not that much more different than Bill Clinton's, both have spoken about personal and shared responsibilities, but Clinton could deliver it in warm tones and words ordinary people use, and sentences that don't sound like they were lifted from the pages of a self-help book ("You are the change you seek"). That's a fine philosophical passage (
Gandhi said it) but it's a tin-eared man who would dare say that in his stump speech and not think he was coming off messianic.

The difficult task ahead for Obama is now redefining himself in the eyes of Americans. While this debate seemed unimportant, particularly to those of us still licking our wounds from the primary campaign and were paying close attention, this debate, as moderated by one of the most popular televangelists in America, was the first time Barack Obama was seen by large numbers of people who were, to say the least, confused about who he was, based on the media.

He is either a shining haloed messiah to the left or a Muslim-born and raised black man who associates with known terrorists, with a funny sounding name to the right. People square in the middle, the lion's share of undecided voters,
13% in the recent Zogby poll the SFGate article cites, half of whom voted for Hillary, could be swayed either way, and this is where Obama's "gun & religion clinging white folks" comments have come back to haunt him.

He has to reintroduce himself, today. Opening day is next week.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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The new China, just like the old China

By Michael J.W. Stickings

In China, it seems, Olympics or no Olympics, capitalism or no capitalism, it's probably best not to protest, not to challenge the totalitarians who run and rape the place:

BEIJING — Two elderly Chinese women have been sentenced to a year of "re-education through labor" after they repeatedly sought a permit to demonstrate in one of the official Olympic protest areas, according to family members and human rights advocates.

The women, Wu Dianyuan, 79, and Wang Xiuying, 77, had made five visits to the police this month in an effort to get permission to protest what they contended was inadequate compensation for the demolition of their homes in Beijing.

During their final visit on Monday, public security officials informed them that they had been given administrative sentences for "disturbing the public order," according to Li Xuehui, Ms. Wu's son.

Mr. Li said his mother and Ms. Wang, who used to be neighbors before their homes were demolished to make way for a redevelopment project, were allowed to return home but were told they could be sent to a detention center at any moment. "Can you imagine two old ladies in their 70s being re-educated through labor?" he asked. He said Ms. Wang was nearly blind.

That's right, China has sentenced two women in their 70s to "re-education through labor" not for protesting but for wanting to protest the government for demolishing their homes.

What a charming country. I'm so happy they have the Olympics, a global platform that serves to legitimize their controlled-market totalitarian regime.

Mao might not go for much of what China has become, a technological superpower with capitalist leanings, but he would still find much to like in how it treats its people.

The Cultural Revolution, after all, isn't over yet.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The economy sucks, stupid!

By Michael J.W. Stickings

McCain today on Ingraham's radio show:

I still believe the fundamentals of our economy are strong. We've got terribly big challenges now, whether it be housing or employment or so many of the other — health care. It's very, very tough times. It's very tough. But we're still the most innovative, the most productive, the greatest exporter, the greatest importer.

But what fundamentals? As Think Progress notes:

  • Inflation is rising;
  • Real wages are declining;
  • Unemployment is increasing;
  • Cost of food is rising;
  • Optimism about economy is declining; and
  • Foreclosures are still increasing.
Not to mention that the dollar is weak, recent budget deficits have been enormous, the national debt is expanding at an astounding rate, placing an ever-greater burden on future generations, and emerging superpowers like China and India are growing rapidly, meaning that is essentially in relative decline overall as the world's leading power.

But, of course, McCain doesn't understand the economy, as he himself has admitted, and, for all his noxious faux populism (gas-tax pandering, "celebrity" attacks on Obama), doesn't have a clue what conditions Americans are facing: rising oil and gas prices, home foreclosures, massive job losses, skyrocketing health-care costs, profound uncertainty not just about the future but about paying the bills and putting food on the table. For him to talk about how "tough" it is out there is simply insulting.

There's one thing I do think is certain: It is becoming clearer and clearer as the campaign rolls on that McCain is an incredibly stupid man.

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Veepstakes: Silly season for speculation

By Michael J.W. Stickings

So what does it mean that "senior campaign officials from the Barack Obama Presidential campaign are being dispatched from various locations around the country and are converging in Indianapolis for a 'major event' to take place on Saturday," as is reporting?



It looks like Obama and his running mate will make their first joint public appearance in Springfield, Illinois, in Obama's homestate, at the Old State Capitol, where his campaign began, then head off to Indianapolis.

As Ambinder puts it, "we read too much into this at our peril."

* I reserve the right to revise this if Obama selects, say, Indiana Senator Evan Bayh as his running mate. Alas, maybe it is the smoking gun clue we've all been looking for. An event in Indianapolis. Translation: Bayh.

Bowers seems to think that that could very well be the case: "Kind of hard to figure out why Obama would book two major events on Saturday, including one in Indiana, if he wasn't announcing Indiana Senator Evan Bayh as his Vice-Presidential pick that same day." (And I agree, it would be a rather undesirable pick.) He notes, however, that the Obama campaign is denying the report.

Adding to the mass hysteria, of which I seem to be partaking (or at least on which I am so excitedly blogging) Le Politico is reporting that Obama is spending the night in Richmond, Virginia as Kaine's guest. So what does that mean?

Just to be consistent: NOTHING. NOTHING AT ALL.

Or maybe EVERYTHING. Who knows? Only Obama and a few others, I suppose. And it looks like the major contenders will find out tomorrow afternoon.


Here are my predictions as of... right now:

Obama -- Biden
McCain -- Romney

But there are those nagging doubts. Always those nagging doubts. Here are my wildcard picks:

Obama -- Clinton
McCain -- Giuliani

I think this a year for big-name, national-celebrity politics. Look at who ran for both parties in the primaries. For the most part they were all big names: Hillary, Obama, Edwards, Biden, Richardson, McCain, Giuliani, Romney, Thompson, etc. Huckabee and perhaps Dodd were the major exceptions.

And I think Obama and McCain will go big with their veep picks. Which means Biden or Bayh for Obama, not Kaine or Sebelius. And which means Romney (or Ridge or Lieberman, however unlikely) for McCain, not Palin or Jindal or Pawlenty or Portman.

But, well, it's the silly season. And I'm full of it, too.


More Veepstakes here.

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