Focus Groups: No Game-Changer

If recent focus group studies are any guide, Palin's speech was not quite as useful as some fear it would be.

Here is feedback from two groups in Nevada:

In two different focus groups of Clinton-supporting Nevada women -- married and unmarried -- conducted immediately after Gov. Sarah Palin's Wednesday night speech to the Republican National Convention, a few common reactions quickly took shape.

First, women in both groups were impressed with Palin's speaking ability and poise. But they were hardly convinced that she was qualified to be vice president, or that she truly represented the "change" they were looking for, especially in light of what was deemed an overly harsh "sarcasm" pervading her address.


In the "married" group, when one attendee kicked off the discussion by saying "she's a good speaker, and a crowd pleaser," the rest of the room articulated their agreement. "I didn't expect to be as impressed as I was," said another respondent. But then another woman added: "Once she started mudslinging, I thought, it's the same old crap as other politicians. McCain used her to get the women's vote. And she's using McCain."

"Thank you," another woman responded. "That really upset me; there was no need for that. It was snippy."

The unmarried group also voiced similar objections to the harsh, partisan edge of Palin's remarks. "I'm not impressed with her at all as a person," one said, citing her "finger pointing" and general sarcasm after the group had generally agreed that she was a talented public speaker.

Still not all focus group members thought Palin came off too harsh. "She didn't seem very aggressive to me at all," said one unmarried participant.

But in both groups, narrow majorities said they held a more negative view of Palin after her speech. "She comes off pretty cutthroat," said one. /female-clinton-supporters_n_123794.html

Hm...probably not the reaction McCain was hoping for.

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New DNC Web Ad: 90% Bush

The DNC has put out a new ad promoting its website, I think that the playful and mocking tone is a refreshing change, and I'm glad that everyone seems committed to pushing the McCain=Bush narrative.  What do you think?  I doubt it will sway anyone, but it is chuckle-worthy.

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October (September) Surprise?

There are stories circulating that the U.S. may attack Iran in the next several weeks.

Several papers in Israel and the United Kingdom have picked up on a report in De Telegraff, Holland's largest newspaper, that the Bush administration is planning a bombing run with unmanned drones on Iranian military installations. The attack would be aimed at a presumed nuclear infrastructureand Iran's missile-launching capabilities.

A Spy Is Recalled

The paper reports that Holland's version of the CIA, the AIVD, was forced to stop what had been a successful espionage operation that was infilitrating and sabotaging Iran's weapons industry because of American plans to launch attacks on sites that included those "which were connected with the Dutch espionage action." The AIVD and the CIA share information. The paper relies on "well placed" sources telling it that a top agent was recently recalled "because the US was thought to be making a decision within weeks to attack Iran with unmanned aircraft." 985

I saw a short blurb on this in the free metro newspaper on the way to work today, though I've seen very little coverage in the press at large.

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I Gave to the Red Cross Tonight

While the Republicans continue their preparations to exploit Hurricane Gustav to the fullest (and are no doubt privately disappointed that the storm is not as severe as some predicted), their cynical ploy is rooted in a basic truth: many people will lose their possessions as a result of this storm, and some will lose their lives.  Whether relief efforts are sincere or are part of a grand political stunt, that relief is sorely needed.

I had not really focused on the need to donate until today, when I received a text message from the Obama campaign soliciting donations to the Red Cross (I guess that that VP text message database served a greater purpose after all).  Sure, I had intended to donate, but it was not at the forefront of my mind.  Because of that simple reminder, though, I logged on and made a donation earlier this evening.  

Anyway, while we criticize the Republicans for politicizing a national tragedy, it seemed to me that we would not be much better if we limited ourselves to criticism alone.  The fact is that there are real people out there who need help, and we Democrats pride ourselves on lending a helping hand.  Therefore, I encourage those who are so inclined to donate to the Red Cross or to the relief agency of your choice.  Let's show that we too are "putting on our American hats," as the Republicans would have it, to help fellow citizens in need.  The below link aggregates links to relief agencies in the affected states. ml

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"Good Youtube Potential"

From the party all about, you know, making history this November:

Conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh boosted Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's pro-life position and mocked Barack Obama on his radio show yesterday with a make-believe riff in which Obama asked Palin "When you found out your baby would be born with Down syndrome, did you consider killing it before or after the due date?"

Limbaugh's "humor" caught the fancy of the Republican National Committee, which, in an internal e-mail, proposed using the bit in a YouTube clip.

The e-mail, which was sent to RNC Communications Director Danny Diaz, and mistakenly to a Tribune reporter, was titled "wow...good YouTube potential..." cs/blog/2008/08/rnc_mulls_limbaugh_abort ion_ja.html?

The article also links to a pdf of the actual email.  It's interesting that Limbaugh has long been one of Palin's main proponents in the rightwing noise machine.  When he and the RNC are not above using a child with Down Syndrome as a prop, can anyone possibly argue that this pick was made in good faith?  

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Views from Alaska

It seems that not all Republicans in Alaska approve of the McCain-Palin ticket.

The reaction wasn't so rosy elsewhere. State Senate President Lyda Green said she thought it was a joke when someone called her at 6 a.m. to tell her the news.

"She's not prepared to be governor. How can she be prepared to be vice president or president? said Green, a Republican from Palin's hometown of Wasilla. "Look at what she's done to this state. What would she do to the nation?"


House Speaker John Harris, a Republican from Valdez, was also astonished at the news. He didn't want to get into the issue of her qualifications.

"She's old enough," Harris said. "She's a U.S. citizen." 10249.html

To be fair, in the article a former Republican opponent does offer praise and suggests that she should not be underestimated.  However, these reactions from her own colleagues are somewhat shocking and underscore various criticisms of the pick that have been discussed today.

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Strong State Polls Today

I thought that I would bring everyone a little mid-convention cheer today.  For what it's worth, Time has just released poll results showing Obama doing very well in Western states:

Colorado: McCain 47, Obama 46
Pennsylvania: Obama 48, McCain 43
Nevada: Obama 49, McCain 44
New Mexico: Obama 53, McCain 40 nn-battleground-polls/

Additionally, word is that Plouffe is quite optimistic about our chances in November:

Barack Obama's margin among independent swing-voting women and sporadically voting Democrats are two of the main metrics his campaign is closely monitoring, Obama's election manager, David Plouffe, said today.

Plouffe, speaking to reporters, editors and executives of the Atlantic Media company in a throwback conference room in downtown Denver, said that Obama's internal polling suggests that McCain runs a double-digit deficit with this group runs into the double digits in some swing states. "And that's before they know about his position on choice and that he's against equal pay," Plouffe said.


Other nuggets from Plouffe:

* If McCain doesn't win Colorado, "he has a 5% chance to win the election."

* He believes that they have "a slight edge" in Virginia.


* Said HIllary Clinton's speech "could not have gone better."

* Said the campaign "is really pleased" with where they are in Montana. ives/2008/08/barack_mccains_margin_among _in.php

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The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street

Recently I purchased the full series of the original Twilight Zone on DVD.  One of the outstanding episodes is entitled, "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street," and is nominally about an invasion of Earth by extraterrestrials.  Rather than conquer the earthlings outright, the aliens operate behind the scenes to cause slight disruptions in the lives of regular townsfolk - electricity turns on and off without explanation, cars start and stop running, etc. - until the townsfolk become paranoid with fear and allow their prejudices against one another to rise to the surface.  In the end, the townsfolk blame each other for the strange occurrences and destroy themselves, without the aliens ever having to lift a finger against them.  The obvious subtext of the show is that we are often our own worst enemies.  

Allow me to suggest that that is exactly what is going on today, with the Republicans playing the role of the aliens and Democrats playing the role of the townsfolk.  Clearly there are Republican forces on the ground in Denver, and on the blogs, who intend to sew dissension in our ranks.  There are also those who still are nursing a grudge, from both camps, and who are using these obvious ploys to get in a few cheap shots against the other side.  Still others are innocent bystanders in all of this but have been tarred by the insults of a few and thus have been drawn into a conflict that no one can win.  All the while, McCain and the Republicans are laughing at us.

This constitutes my humble request that all of those currently involved in flame wars and who genuinely wish the best for the Democratic Party stop for a second and think about the bigger picture.  Republicans are trying to tear down the party.  The media is trying to tear down the party.  Certain people here are trying to tear down the party.  Don't let them.  If you need to, take a break from blogging until the convention is over.  Donate - your money, your time, your sweat.  Talk to someone in a civil manner.  Do something productive.  Let the pros - the Clintons, Obama, Biden, Kennedy, etc. - handle the convention, that's what they get paid for.  Give them the opportunity to set things right.  Don't give McCain the Democratic bloodshed he craves.

Keep Maple Street free of monsters for a few more days.


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Ted Kennedy to Address Convention

In what can only be described as a serious morale boost to the Democratic Party as it continues to come together for the fall, it appears that Ted Kennedy will give a speech at the convention tomorrow night.

In a development that is sure to bring the house down, US Senator Edward M. Kennedy is expected to attend the Democratic National Convention, most likely to deliver a speech tomorrow night.

Kennedy is battling brain cancer, and his doctors are said to be worried that his treatment has compromised his immune system and that attending the convention could put him at further risk. Still, the senator has recently told people that he has a speech written for the convention and that he badly wants to come, pending a final medical consultation.

Buzz has built among Massachusetts politicos that Kennedy would come, and today a source close to the family confirmed that he had made a decision to come.

``He is definitely planning to be here,'' said the Kennedy family confidant. ``The whole Kennedy family will be in a special section. It should be quite moment.'' ticalintelligence/2008/08/kennedy_to_add r_1.html

I expect that he will remind all of us about the ideals and history that make our party great, as well as what is at stake in the present election.  With any luck, he will be in sufficient health to attend the convention and help ensure that we are on the right track through November.

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McCain Lifts Parts of Russian Speech from Wikipedia

For all of McCain's supposed experience and knowledge of foreign affairs, one would think that he would be able to articulate an original thought regarding the ongoing conflict between Russia and Georgia.  Alas, this is not the case, unless of course McCain moonlights as an editor for Wikipedia.  Per Political Insider:

A Wikipedia editor notices some similarities between Sen. John McCain's speech today on the crisis in Georgia and the Wikipedia article on the country Georgia. They appear similar enough that most people would consider parts of McCain's speech to be derived directly from Wikipedia.

First instance:

one of the first countries in the world to adopt Christianity as an official religion (Wikipedia)


one of the world's first nations to adopt Christianity as an official religion (McCain)

Second instance:

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Georgia had a brief period of independence as a Democratic Republic (1918-1921), which was terminated by the Red Army invasion of Georgia. Georgia became part of the Soviet Union in 1922 and regained its independence in 1991. Early post-Soviet years was marked by a civil unrest and economic crisis. (Wikipedia)


After a brief period of independence following the Russian revolution, the Red Army forced Georgia to join the Soviet Union in 1922. As the Soviet Union crumbled at the end of the Cold War, Georgia regained its independence in 1991, but its early years were marked by instability, corruption, and economic crises. (McCain) ider/2008/08/did-mccain-plagarize-his-sp eec.html

I imagine that if called on it, McCain would bluster on about Obama's use of a few lines first spoken by Deval Patrick, but this episode arguably strikes at the core of McCain's campaign, which is all about his supposed "experience" in a time of international turmoil.  If anyone would be as well versed on international affairs after reading Wikipedia as McCain, then what exactly entitles him to be President?

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