Happy Halloween

October 31, 2008

This is kind of a special Halloween for me.  Usually I’m off at World Fantasy Convention this time of the year.  I’ve missed almost all of the past ten Halloweens.  And I would have been at WFC this year (in Calgary) but the spike in fuel prices made the airfare too high, so I’m skipping it.  And that means I get to spend Halloween with my kids.  I’ll be taking the younger one trick-or-treating, and Nancy and I will be hosting a sleepover for the older one with her three best friends.  They’re all hooked on “Buffy,” and we have the complete boxed set.  I’m looking forward to it.

Hope all of you have a great Halloween.

The Earned Income Tax Credit is a refundable tax credit that gives money to low income workers.  It is paid for by the taxes paid by higher income earners.  Under John McCain’s definition of such things, it’s socialism.  The EITC was enacted in 1975 under Republican President Gerald Ford and vastly expanded by Ronald Reagan in 1986.  So under John McCain’s definition of such things, Ford and Reagan were socialists.

Our entire system of taxation — the progressive income tax — is based on the notion that those who make the most pay more proportionally than do those at the bottom of the income scale.  This idea was first put forward by Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations.  He wrote, “It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.” Under John McCain’s definition of such things, Adam Smith, the father of modern capitalism, was a socialist.  The Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which established the federal income tax, had no greater champion than Theodore Roosevelt, John McCain’s political hero.  Under McCain’s definition of such things, Teddy Roosevelt was a socialist.

McCain’s desperation is understandable at this stage of the campaign, and nothing Sarah Palin does can surprise me anymore.  But their demagoguery on this issue is disgusting.

Diana Pharaoh Francis is another of my SFNovelist friends.  We’re also siblings in a way, in that we are both represented by super-duper agent Lucienne Diver.  And, long ago I blurbed Di’s first novel, Path of Fate.  She is a wonderful writer, and she’s also a helluva lot of fun to hang out with at conventions.  Di has a new book coming out on November 4th.  It’s called The Black Ship, and it is the second volume in her Crosspointe Chronicles series. 
Read the rest of this entry »

Today’s post, “Plodding Through My Plotting,” can be found at http://magicalwords.net.  The usual instructions apply:  Check out the site, and enjoy.

First, an apology for not posting this week’s BOW (Buffoon Of the Week) Award earlier, and for not having more content on the blog this week.  I was busy polishing the manuscript of the third and final Blood of the Southlands book for submission, and then I ran into ISP problems that have made it difficult to post since late in the week.  I’m posting this from a coffee house in town that has wifi.  I’m hoping that the problems will be ironed out by midweek.  But on to the BOW Award . . .


At this stage in a Presidential campaign, with only a couple of weeks (or less) to go, strategy gets broken down into its most basic components.  Each day becomes a struggle over the 24 hour news cycle.  Win the cycle and you’ve won the day.  Win enough days and maybe you’ll win the week.  Win the last two weeks and maybe you can pull out the election. 


That had to be John McCain’s thinking coming into this week.  He was trailing in the polls — the poll average at RealClearPolitics had him down about 5.5 points to Barack Obama.  That’s a significant margin, but at the beginning of the week it wasn’t insurmountable.  And Barack Obama announced last weekend that he was ceding the national stage to McCain for a couple of days late in the week so that he could visit his ailing grandmother in Hawaii.  If ever there was a week when McCain could take control of the news cycles, this was it!


Unfortunately for McCain, the week began with Colin Powell’s endorsement of Obama.  Powell was not only eloquent and generous in his praise of Obama’s intellect, temperament, and perfomance as a campaigner, he was also highly critical of the Republican party in general and John McCain’s campaign and erratic behavior in particular.  Not a great way for McCain to start the week.


But then, in the first of our nominated acts of buffoonery, Joe Biden stepped in.  While at a private fundraiser, Biden wandered off into a verbal cul-de-sac, saying that within six months of taking office, Obama would be tested by our enemies.  These enemies would manufacture an international crisis, Biden said, just as America’s enemies sought to test John Kennedy forty-eight years ago.  Now Biden’s point was that Obama was brilliant and capable and would come through this crisis with flying colors.  But the McCain campaign and the media picked up on the first part of the comment, pointing out again that Obama is “untested” and “risky.”  Obama should have won the first several news cycles of the week based on Powell’s endorsement, but by Tuesday McCain was back in the game.


Or so it seemed.  By Wednesday nobody but McCain was talking about Biden’s comments.  No, they were on to some new acts of stupidity.  First, Sarah Palin had to apologize publicly for her disturbing (not to mention ridiculous) comments last week about some places being “more American” than others.  But that was only the beginning.  It seems that since the Republican National Convention, the GOP has spent over $150,000.00 on clothes and accessories for Sarah Palin and (to a lesser degree) her family.  Shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus and other upscale stores, the campaign had used money from donors (many of whom have complained vociferously) to make certain that the self-proclaimed “Hockey Mom” looked more like those Hollywood celebrities the McCain campaign likes to ridicule.  The expenditures appeared on the campaign’s FEC report, and the more people looked at that report, the worse things got for the McCain camapaign.  For instance, it turns out that the campaign was paying Palin’s make-up person more than they were paying John McCain’s chief foreign policy advisor.  Not good.


Then, late in the week, the campaign took a bizarre turn.  On Thursday evening, a young McCain campaign worker named Ashley Todd reported that she had been accosted at an ATM in Pittsburgh, where she is working for the campaign, by a six-foot four-inch African American man who stole her money.  According to Todd, upon seeing her car, with its McCain-Palin bumper sticker, her assailant became enraged.  He beat her, and then, she claimed, carved a “B” into her face with a knife.  Horrors!  The right-wing blogosphere was suddenly abuzz with outrage!  Nothing that had happened at GOP rallies could compare to this!  More than one bogger claimed that this would change everything, that Obama’s campaign would suffer greatly because of this, though there was no proof that the man in question had any connection to the campaign.  Had the campaign turned around what had seemed to be a terrible news week?


No, it hadn’t.  By Friday afternoon it had become clear that Todd made this up.  Her story had lots of holes in it, not the least of which was that the surveillance video from the ATM showed that she was never even there.  Plus, that “B” on her face?  (Wait for it . . .)  It was backwards!  She did it to herself in a mirror!  (Todd admits as much now.  And I have to ask, why a “B” Ashley?!  Why not an “O”, as in, you know, OBAMA?!?!  An “O” is never backwards . . .)  Suddenly, what had been an opportunity for the McCain folks became a race-baiting nightmare.  The same bloggers who had called it a game changer now wrote that it might be a game ender.


And still the McCain folks weren’t done.  There are always process stories that come out of Presidential campaigns.  Once the campaign is over stories emerge about those who wanted to take a campaign in one direction or another, or about who had the real power in a campaign.  For a winning campaign, these are credit stories; for a losing campaign they’re blame stories.  But sometimes when a campaign seems headed for a disaster, these process stories emerge BEFORE the election.  People start the blame game early, hoping to avoid being blamed themselves.  This weekend has seen a spate of process stories emerging from the McCain camp.  Saturday alone several damaging stories emerged about Sarah Palin.  She was “going rogue”, one story said — shorthand for going off-message in her campaign appearances — much to the chagrin of John McCain’s advisors.  One McCain aide called her “a diva”, prompting another story in which Palin denied that she was a diva.  As a general rule, if your vice presidential nominee has to go on record countering claims from your own campaign that she’s a diva, you’re having a bad news cycle.


By the end of the week, McCain had suffered through as bad a news week as he could have imagined, and his deficit in the RealClearPolitics poll average had grown beyond 7.5 points — still not insurmountable, but with only 9 days left until the election a steep climb has become nearly vertical.


So who gets the BOW Award?  Do we give it to the Diva, or the campaign workers who called her that, or the party officials who agreed to those exorbitant clothing expenditures, or the campaign worker who made up the story about the big crazy black man, or the right-wing bloggers who embraced that story as if it were a life preserver in a stormy sea?  Tough choice.  I’m going to rule out Ashley Todd right off, because as terrible as her lie might have been, it takes a sick mind to mutilate oneself in the hope of gaining media attention.  She needs psychological help, not a BOW Award.


But as for the rest, I think they all deserve recognition.  So this week’s BOW Award goes to Sarah Palin for her terrible comments about “real America” and her expensive taste in clothes, to the McCain campaign for its public airing of its own dirty laundry, to the right-wingers who seized on the Todd story with such zeal, and, yes, to Joe Biden, who continues to demonstrate that he simply can’t keep his mouth shut, even when keeping it shut would do wonderful things for the Obama campaign.  Take a BOW there folks, you’ve all earned it.  Thank goodness this campaign is almost over.

A Post About Distractions

October 21, 2008

Today’s post, “How Do You Deal with Distractions?” can be found at http://www.sfnovelists.com.  Come and visit our site, and enjoy the post.

Today’s post, “The Read-Through, and a Plea for Help…” can be found at http://magicalwords.net.  Please visit the site, and enjoy!

Colin, George, and Rush

October 19, 2008

Well, it didn’t take long for both George Will and Rush Limbaugh to do the obvious.  Both of them have responded to Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama (this morning on “Meet the Press”) by saying that the only reason Powell made the endorsement is that Obama (like Powell) is black.  Really, guys?  Do you really want to tell perhaps the most respected person in America that he is, essentially, a racist?  Did you listen to Powell’s remarks on “Meet the Press”?  I mean really listen to them?  It seemed to me that Powell sounded almost sad that he had to turn his back on McCain and the GOP.  He is, after all, a lifelong Republican.  But what he said was that he’d been disappointed by McCain’s response to the economic crisis, that he’d been disgusted by the tone of McCain’s campaign, and that at the same time he had been impressed by Obama’s steadiness and strength.  I do agree that in calling Obama “a transformational figure” he was, in a way, referring to his race, as well as to his youth and his eloquence and the number of people he has brought into the political process.  But Powell makes it clear that his choice was about far more than race, and I, for one, take the man at his word.

Let’s begin this week’s BOW (Buffoon Of the Week) Award entry with a hypothetical.  Say you live in a Congressional district in a large swing state, one in the south, perhaps one with a history of complicated and contentious elections.  Say you’re a Democrat, but the district is heavily Republican and so you’ve really never even considered a political career.  You’re a successful businessman, and really that’s just fine with you.

But then fate intervenes.  Read the rest of this entry »

Campaign Ugliness

October 16, 2008

For those of you who still don’t believe that the GOP is using race and “religion” in their smear campaign against Barack Obama, go to http://crooksandliars.com and scroll down that first page.  Check out the stuff that the GOP is doing in California.  Check out the things that McCain-Palin supporters were saying about him at a recent rally in Ohio.  It is ugly, ugly, ugly out there.  And it’s going to get worse before this is over.