Put me in, coach ...


Facts Are Stupid Things:

Let's just get this out of the way first -- Obama did not delay tonight's World Series game, as has been widely reported and even mocked by John McCain.

Ben Smith at Politico provides a fact-check: the first pitch is not delayed, but rather, there just won't be a pregame show. So all Obama's done is pre-empt Joe Buck -- and I think red and blue states can be thankful for that.

By the way, George reminds me that the NFL season opener was moved up an hour because of a certain someone's acceptance speech to the RNC ...

Atrios recently warned us to be wary of "the final onslaught of the really stupid, when the media feels the need to balance reality with whatever horseshit the McCain/Drudge are spewing that day."

Here, for example, is an odd story where the L.A. Times has to report on itself due only to the histrionics of right-wing bloggers, and not because of any relevant issue.

Said bloggers are up in arms over a video of a 2003 banquet when Obama, then a state senator, spoke of his friendship with Rashid Khalidi, a leading Palestinian scholar and activist. The Times got a copy of this tape from a source who gave it to them on the condition the paper not release it but only describe its contents. Which the paper did, in detail.

But the bloggers are convinced there's more to the story, that Obama -- well, I don't know what they think happened. But they're sure the Times is sitting on the tape to hide incriminating evidence, instead out of a clear obligation to a source. One blogger is even offering $25,000 for anyone who sneaks out the tape.

Another example is an A2 story in today's Washington Post by Matthew Mosk, where he takes up the issue of Obama's website accepting donations from untraceable credit cards. This has been the cause celebre among many right-wing bloggers, who insist that Obama's entire online fundraising haul is now suspect. The campaign says it filters out bad donations after they're made, not at the point of purchase. You could argue that policy either way, but it seems a rather trivial point that again has only ended up in news pages because of politically motivated hysterics and not any realistic issue.

Six days ...

The Indianapolis Star has declined to endorse a candidate in this year's presidential election -- the editorial board is deadlocked, perhaps appropriately in a state that looks to be a true toss-up. So they just outlined the case for each man, but in so doing repeated a serious misunderstanding of Obama's tax plan that we've been meaning to address.

The Star writes: "On the domestic side, Obama's tax proposals also are cause for concern. He would use the federal tax code to create in essence a new entitlement program for millions of American workers, sending them government checks even though they would pay no income tax."

John McCain has said the same, calling Obama's tax plan "welfare" -- 95 percent of Americans will get a tax cut under Obama, McCain seems to acknowledge, but since 40 percent don't pay income taxes, the credit they receive is equivalent to welfare.

The nitty-gritty policy reasons why this is wrong are here, but in short, not all taxpayers are income taxpayers -- as everyone knows, we pay taxes everywhere from our paycheck to the gas pump. So the 95 percent minus 40 percent math doesn't work, because that's only 40 percent who don't pay income taxes. Also, if the idea of refundable tax credits to people, regardless of wage, is offensive to McCain, he should examine his own health care plan, under which "every family will receive a direct refundable tax credit -- effectively cash -- of $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families to offset the cost of insurance." That, under McCain's own definition, would also be welfare.

George Zornick writes: Like most people, I sometimes zoned out in high school and, when called upon by a watchful teacher, would unfortunately offer up an answer that the class moved past about 15 minutes before. All teachers, it seems, have a stock reply in this scenario: "OK, you can go back to sleep now."

Here's a headline on The Page yesterday: "Oh, Matt!! For the second straight day, powerful Internetist tries to tip the flow against Obama."

Clicking the link brings this revelation from Mark Halperin: two recent Drudge banners "[f]ollows recent pattern of posting things that seem not to help Obama -- including Biden's Orlando TV interview, the closer sets of polling data and more."

OK, you can go back to sleep now, Mark.

Maeve Reston, who asked McCain the infamous Viagra/birth control question, explains how it got her -- and perhaps most of the mainstream reporters covering the campaign -- thrown off the comfy couch on the Straight Talk Express:

In the driveway of the airport motel on the evening of the Viagra question, McCain's aides made an argument that would shape their attitude over the next four months: If reporters were going to ask about issues that they deemed irrelevant to voters, why should the campaign give them access to the candidate at all?

[Senior McCain adviser Mark] Salter told me I had made the case for those who thought McCain should curtail his exposure to the press.

McCain aide Brooke Buchanan sarcastically asked whether contraception was next on my agenda. And Steve Duprey, the candidate's usually jovial traveling companion who often visited the press cabin bearing Twizzlers and chocolate, twisted my question into what I interpreted as an accusation of bias: "Are you going to ask Obama if he uses Viagra?"

That's here. For another behind the scenes take on campaign reporting, you can check out Michael Hastings' "Hack: Confessions of a Presidential Campaign Reporter" here.

McCain Suck Up Watch: The Boston Globe uncritically reported Sen. John McCain's false claim that Sen. Barack Obama proposes to "fine" small businesses that do not provide employee health insurance. While Obama has proposed requiring large businesses that do not provide employer-sponsored health coverage to pay a percentage of their payroll into a National Health Insurance Exchange to help Americans purchase private health insurance, small businesses would be exempt. More here.

Turns out "Joe the Plumber" is a jerk.

From TomDispatch:

From a working class Pennsylvanian who fled home at 17 and now returns as a reporter to that home -- a key bellwether county in this election -- a unique account of the strange, unsettled state of American politics today.

Among the remaining unknowns in this election is how the intertwined issues of class and race are going to play out among white working-class voters. In this regard, few places have been more closely examined than Pennsylvania, a battleground state in which polls show John McCain significantly behind, but which he must capture if he hopes to win this election. Ever since the primaries, reporters have been crisscrossing the state in search of white working-class, possibly racist, former Hillary voters. Today, TomDispatch has a unique twist on such articles. Robert Eshelman returns to his working class roots in Bucks County, PA, and interviews dozens of its denizens, only to find himself a stranger in a strange political land. He writes a rare, personal, and, in the end, deeply moving account, not only of the disintegration of the Republican Party, but of a strange mutedness across an increasingly desperate landscape.

This is a piece that asks questions rather than offering answers. It begins: "In 1991, at age 17, I fled Bucks County, an overwhelmingly white, working-class region in southeast Pennsylvania where I grew up. I left because the life of the working class was brutal and I wanted no part of it. I cringed at the racism and xenophobia that seemed to rise out of the anxieties of precarious labor. I desperately hoped there was some alternative to coming home each day looking as battered as did so many grown-ups I would catch staring blankly into TV screens or half-empty glasses of beer."

And ends, "The rest, I don't know. And that includes myself. I no longer feel at home here, if I ever did, among my people -- the white working class -- at the very moment when I probably should. After all, I know something no reporter from elsewhere knows. I know that the past is always buried in the present, and if I need a reminder, I only have to look at my mom -- and then myself. For her, however much Bucks County is changing, in basic ways it hasn't changed very much at all. She still works six days a week, often ten hours a day, at a job that may be gone tomorrow and, as I did at age 17, I'm again hopping on a train, leaving Bucks County behind."

In between is a little reportorial and political odyssey.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Tony Zito
Hometown: Poughkeepsie, NY

The Post's "maximum" of 96,719 is already 32 times the number of American civilians killed on 9/11/2001. See, this is what I don't understand: people here seem incapable of putting themselves, even for a moment, in the place of people around the world who have lived under the steady drizzle of US bombings around the world going back to the Viet Nam era. No one here says, "Good grief, that was just one attack on one day -- what must it have been like to live in Hanoi, or Kosovo, Somalia with this stuff going on day in and day out? What must it be like in Kabul or Baghdad?" And if you bring it up, someone will claim you are sympathetic with terrorists, as though shop keepers, factory workers and school teachers in Afghanistan and Iraq are each and everyone our sworn enemies. These besieged people have a much greater reason to feel that way about us. Why are we so bloodthirsty???

Name: Jason Parrish
Hometown: Santa Rosa, CA

I would like to respond to Mr. David Peirce's statement about each candidate's need to indicate their willingness to investigate and/or prosecute the malfeasance in the Bush Administration. The Obama part of his answer is over at the Daily Kos, a quoted statement made in April, during the primary season.

I've long supported Senator Obama, but would like for his campaign to reaffirm his earlier statement. I would also be interested to find out if Senator McCain has made any similar statement.

The unfortunate truth is that either candidate will have to drain the current fetid swamp of Bush political appointees before their own investigators wouldn't risk drowning in their hip-waders.

Name: Jon Pettigrew
Hometown: St. Paul, MN


Of course, you are not a fan of Paul McCartney's post-Beatles output, but still you do him an injustice with your version of his lyric from "Live and Let Die." It should read: "But in this ever-changing world in which we're living..." thus dropping one redundant "in" at least. BTW, it took me about 30 years to figure this one out.

Name: Margaret Goud Collins
Falmouth, MA

"But in this ever-changing world in which we live in"

I've always interpreted this line more grammatically as "But in this ever-changing world in which we're livin' "

I don't think McCartney would misuse prepositions so outrageously.

Bye for now.

Name: Thomas Beck
Hometown: East Windsor, NJ

"Casino Royale" makes no sense? A) It's from the actual Ian Fleming novel; B) It's the location where the climactic poker tournament takes place.

"GoldenEye" sort of made sense.

Until we see "Quantum of Solace," how can anyone know if its title makes sense?

Name: PW
Hometown: North Potomac, MD

You may already have heard this from countless other old farts who actually read the James Bond books back in the day when they received a major boost from the news that JFK was a fan, but "Quantum of Solace" was the title of a totally Bond-free short story added by Ian Fleming to the thin volume that also contained "For Your Eyes Only." The title refers to the minimal amount of dignity that a cheated-on partner should be allowed to retain in the face of the spouse's infidelity; when that quantum of solace is denied the wronged husband in the story, he extracts harsh (but nonviolent) revenge.

Eric replies: OK, accusation semi-withdrawn ...

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