Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Traditional Republican Values

I think the best line has to do with pillows. Found this today, and thought it was very much worth sharing. Also, I think they strategically edited in the image you see paused before you hit play to try and hook random dudes into watching the video! Hopefully it works, either way this thing is pretty damn hilarious.

I'm also a fan of "mandatory smiling"


From Tom Toles at the Washington Post:

Nice Polls

Nice indications today from a Diageo/Hotline tracking poll:
Among registered voters surveyed in Colorado, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin and Nevada, Obama tops McCain 50 to 40%. Just a week ago, Obama led 45% to 42%.

Nationwide, Obama leads 47% to 41%.
hat tip: political wire

"No Wilting Flower"

Salon has a piece today highlighting why the author, Rebecca Traister, will not participate in the Sarah Palin Pity Party. Traister gets into it on the second page, after documenting well how a variety of correspondents and "media elites" have declared their pity for Palin's position, for the difficult spot she finds herself in, etc. Traister will not have it:
"Sarah Palin is no wilting flower. She is a politician who took the national stage and sneered at the work of community activists. She boldly tries to pass off incuriosity and lassitude as regular-people qualities, thereby doing a disservice to all those Americans who also work two jobs and do not come from
families that hand out passports and backpacking trips, yet still manage to pick up a paper and read about their government and seek out experience and knowledge.

When you stage a train wreck of this magnitude -- trying to pass one underqualified chick off as another highly qualified chick with the lame hope that no one will notice -- well, then, I don't feel bad for you.
But Traister's piece is not simply harsh without reason, not simply aimed at saying to her colleagues, "come on, give her a hard time!" Nope, the piece is motivated by outrage. Traister explains it best herself:
"I don't want to be played by the girl-strings anymore. Shaking our heads and wringing our hands in sympathy with Sarah Palin is a disservice to every woman who has ever been unfairly dismissed based on her gender, because this is an utterly fair dismissal, based on an utter lack of ability and readiness. It's a disservice to minority populations of every stripe whose place in the political spectrum has been unfairly spotlighted as mere tokenism..."
In a week where conservatives are contemplating whether Palin should step down ("Only Palin can save McCain, her party, and the country she loves. She can bow out for personal reasons"), and others are calling for the McCain campaign to provide an actual real world press conference with Palin ("Until Sarah Palin agrees to a full and open press conference, she should not even be considered as a possible vice-president"), the Salon piece hits a big chunk of what I have been wishing someone would say. Check it out.

(stock wilted flower photo above from istockphoto.com)

Best Response to Bailout Bust

No caption needed here, nicely done Barney Frank (the video is all setup for the first 43 seconds or so, then you get to the good stuff).

Monday, September 29, 2008

"Katrina-Like" is Spot On

This is a very well crafted line, and a very sharp attack emerging this weekend in the aftermath of the debate:

hat tip: Jed Report, Jed posting @ HuffPo

Debate in a Minute

I wish this was a little better, honestly, as it kinda grabs bits and pieces that show tone overall, but manages almost no content. That said, editing down to a minute must have been tough. If you watched the debate and had to summarize the key things that stuck out what would you pick and choose. I'll consider this question myself and post later.

Until then, from 23/6:

Monday Morning Barage of Political Videos!

It's Monday and who wants to think, right? Wait... no... wrong beginning to the post here. It's Monday and the world of viral video had a whole weekend to play on their MacBooks with video clips related (and unrelated) to Friday evening's debate between Obama and McCain. Here are four videos I found while cruising the internets this morning. Hopefully they'll start your week off right!

1. Let's get it out of the way here, SNL did it again, with Tina Fey playing Mrs. Mooseburger herself, Sarah Palin, and Amy Poehler turning in a nice Katie Couric... blinking and awestruck at the bizarreness of Fey's Palin answers. Incredible traits of this video: if you don't find it all that funny, compare it to the actual video of the interview. SNL really didn't take liberties with large pieces of this, they simply had Fey read Palin's lines... or reinact them. Um... yeah, so anyway, that's #1, here:

2. This is the first of two debate-related clips, below you can see a clip where supposedly John McCain mutters "horse shit" twice as Barack Obama makes reference to McCain's recent flub regarding Spain. Now, some may say it's a little unclear whether he is actually saying horse shit or not, but having looked at the video a couple times, it seems like it's not only there, but audible. Let me know what you think!

3. This one is slightly less funny, but incredibly nicely done, and simple in many ways. I thought one of the most effective moments of the debate on Friday was when Obama held up McCain's record of statements predicting how the conflict in Iraq would go as evidence for a lack of strength in judgment. Jed Lewison edited together a video for Huffington Post that simply supplies video to corroborate what Obama said. Damning? I think it is, and I honestly think the Obama campaign should consider running basically this exact video as a campaign ad.

4. Finally, let's end this little journey with more of the funny. Obama Girl has returned with a clip from her new reality show, the Obama Girl and Ralph Nader Show. Ok, so this is actually a nice attempt by the Nader camp to work the viral video thing, and it reminds me of the Obama Girl/Mike Gravel clip from awhile back. Anyway, they make good use of Nader's dry sense of humor, and say what you will about Nader and his choices in the last 10 years, the man is my kind of American Hero. Take issues with his tactics, but I believe in his efforts to build a stronger and more equitable nation and to counterbalance the powerful voice of corporations in American politics. All that aside, the video is rather charming, I think (especially the reference to Bea Arthur... now that's classy!).

Sunday, September 28, 2008

When Judges Make Foreign Policy

This is a truly interesting article in the NYT magazine today. The idea, essentially, is that the US Supreme Court has become an important factor in how the United States relates to the rest of the world. The idea might displease some conservatives, and it is probably part of a wider question about the enormous power judges wield in this country. (What is it the French say about us? We have government by judge?) But whatever you think about it, it is probably a true observation. The authour breaks the battle down into the conservative "sovereignty" camp and the liberal "internationalist" camp. I belong pretty strongly to the latter and I suspect the authour does too, but he's pretty fair. There is an interesting tid bit about Medellín that I did not know:

What made this conflict between the Supreme Court and the International Court of Justice particularly stark was that the Bush administration had for once taken the side of international law. Before the Supreme Court issued its opinion, President Bush issued a memorandum advising state courts to follow the judgment of the International Court of Justice.

I would never have thought that Bush would have done something like that (though possibily he was just completely unaware).

The article also serves as a potent reminder that the next president will very likely be able to appoint more Supreme Court justices than Bush. To me at least, this argues strongly for an Obama presidency, though obviously more conservative folks may disagree.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Just watched the amazing end to the Phillies game this afternoon where they clinched the NL East by defeating the Washington Nationals 4-3!

Kissinger Pt.2

The Kissinger comments Obama was referencing (almost certainly) came from a CNN forum where 5 former Secretaries of State came together to discuss what advice they would give to the next President. Among other things they discussed Iran, and here's a snippet of what I found on CNN's website:

"The former secretaries of state also focused their attention on talks with Iran. The Bush administration joined the other members of the U.N. Security Council -- Britain, France, China and Russia, along with Germany -- in offering Iran a set of political and economic incentives similar to the ones North Korea was given in exchange for suspending its uranium enrichment program.

But the United States has refused to sit down with Iran until that suspension takes place.

'When I was in office, we had a standing policy with the Iranians. We were ready to talk to them, provided it would be done at an official level, at the level of the secretary of state, and they did -- they wouldn't -- they didn't have enough domestic political support for that,' Baker said.

Kissinger added: 'Well, I am in favor of negotiating with Iran. And one utility of negotiation is to put before Iran our vision of a Middle East, of a stable Middle East, and our notion on nuclear proliferation at a high enough level so that they have to study it. And, therefore, I actually have preferred doing it at the secretary of state level so that we -- we know we're dealing with authentic.'
Now, perhaps Obama should have chosen someone better to quote, but I can see how it would be possible to interpret what Kissinger said here the way he did. Certainly, last night the McCain campaign saw to it that they got Henry on the record right away saying, "Oh no no no! I don't agree with Obama at all!"

Still, what is the substantive difference here that John McCain is so adamant about? He seems almost obsessed with dreaming up bizarre scenarios about Obama meeting with Iran, Cuba, Venezuela and simply letting them dance on the American flag, piss on the carpet in the oval office, and then slap around lady liberty just for effect. But when we're done indulging this interest in dreaming up unrealistic pictures, what is left that matters? Anything???

More clarity comes from fact-checking the debate at ABC News:

"While it appears Kissinger and Senator Barack Obama disagree on what level those talks should occur, they do agree talks should begin, in Kissinger's words, 'at a very high level' and without preconditions.

During the debate, McCain said that Kissinger would not endorse Obama's position that he would meet on a presidential level with leaders of enemy countries. 'I guarantee you he would not say that,' McCain said of Kissinger.

Obama took issue with McCain's characterization of the former top diplomat's position, but just last week Kissinger said that, while he broadly agrees on the need to negotiate with Iran, he 'preferred doing it at the secretary of state level.'

When asked if high level talks with Iran should begin right out of the box, Kissinger replied 'Initially, yes.'

According to Obama's official website he supports 'direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions.'

On preconditions the two appear to agree. Last week Kissinger also said that 'I do not believe that we can make conditions for the opening of negotiations.'
Ok... so there we have it folks, the big deal is that Obama wants to talk to Iran's leaders himself rather than sending his Sec. of State? Got it. Beyond that, Kissinger and Obama are on the same page, and there you go.

R.I.P. Paul Newman

Just a quick little tribute post here to Paul Newman, film icon, business and corporate/nonprofit partnership pioneer. I'm a fan of his dressing, the core product that his food empire was built on, and like so many I'm a fan of may of his films (Cool Hand Luke, anyone??? Badassssss).

Meanwhile I'm also a huge fan of the way his food empire was structured to move all the post-tax profits to various charities. He got into the food industry on a whim, and took his success with a grain of salt in many ways, but when it came to the windfall from the enterprise he handled it all in a very classy and dynamic way. The Hole-in-the-Wall Gang Camps are a wonderful enterprise and his giving extends way beyond this particular charity. I would love to see this model take off and more brands out there offering high quality products with proceeds being poured into building a better world.


I tend to be pretty sympathetic to Obama's position on Iran. I am not really sure how meeting with a head of state would legitimize them. I don't think America's blessing is necessary for a tyrant to rule their country.

However, one of the stranger moments in the debate last night was Obama's insistence that Henry Kissinger publically agreed with him on the issue. It seems fairly obvious that Kissinger would not, if only because of his closeness with McCain. As it turns, out old Henry thinks McCain is right on the subject and Obama is wrong.

It's hardly earthshaking stuff. I suspect Kissinger is as pro-McCain as, say, Hollywood movie stars are pro-Obama. But, knowing this, why on earth would Obama bring it up? There must be other foriegn-policy stalwarts who agree with him. Why not drop their name? I think it must have been a calculation that Kissinger-- who is a household name-- would carry more weight with the average viewer and that this same viewer would not bother to check the facts. It would be interesting to see if this gets much attention.

I mentioned this to a conservative friend this morning who scoffed at the idea. "The media will never ask tough questions of Obama." I'm not sure about that. I think they have asked some pretty tough questions, although I will admit that theirs is a strong pro-Obama contingent. The NY Times in particular seems to have been much tougher on McCain's campain distortions than on Obama's. But I don't think anyone would argue that the Grey Lady doesn't have a horse in this race.

Watchmen: the Movie?

Until Matt mentioned it in the comments sections, I had no idea they were making a Watchmen movie. I checked it out very briefly and it could be good. They managed to avoid casting Keanu Reeves as Doctor Manhattan. Thank all that is holy for that.

This post is actually just my appeal to anyone who loves a good story to read the book before hand. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen demonstrated how Hollywood can take a complex, morally ambiguous story and turn it into an action film. Watchmen is truly a great story. It's a comic book, sure, and it does technically feature superheroes. But these superheroes are, well, grown men and woman without powers who dress up in funny costumes and beat people up. If it sounds like they must be pretty screwed up, it's because they are. The story works on many levels: as a fun adventure of some very strange people; as a commentary on American foreign policy during the 20th century; and as a demonstration of Kantian ethics versus utilitarianism. Oh yes, and it also has pirates. Lots and lots of pirates.

Friday, September 26, 2008

In Case My Live Blogging Bored You

Just in case, you can check out some professional live blogging over at Comedy Central. Incidentally, when I voted in their poll on who won the debate, 93% of voters had chosen Obama, yet the McCain campaign purchased an advertisement on the live blogging page that proclaimed, "McCain Wins Debate!" AWESOME!

Also, if you were paying attention earlier today, apparently Wonkette discovered the McCain campaign actually started putting this ad up hours (10:30 AM today) before the debate even took place (more coverage here), back when nobody knew of Johnny Mac was even participating.

League of Extraordinary Democracies

After our play with Johnny Mac's League of Democracies during the debate this evening, I did a quick Google Image Search and came across these:

Live-Blogging(ish) the Debate

So the first Presidential debate is on, after all the strange happenings of the week, and I'm planning to jot some thoughts up here as we go... hopefully it will be somewhat coherent, maybe even interesting.

Here we go!

9:02 PM - Wow, the subjects of the questions are so secretive, Jim Lehrer's eyes so dark and mysterious!
9:07 PM - Um... speaking of eyes, John McCain's eyes (left most especially) are kinda freaking me out.
9:10 PM - Me Too! Me Too, says McCain! I warned about this too! What about responsibility? Interesting response after that, where he makes reference to WWII and then somehow he makes reference to his recent crazy headhunting where he called to firing a guy who most people that seem to know a bunch about this are saying isn't responsible for all of this.
9:13 PM - THEY WILL NOT FOLLOW DIRECTIONS! Talk to eachother? Huh? No! Neither presidential candidate knows how to do that!!! Stop trying to make them talk to anyone other than that guy with the beard behind the camera, Jim Lehrer!!!
9:20 PM - UPDATE!!!!! Obama talks to McCain! Johnny Mac still refuses to talk to Obama!
9:29 PM - Nice line, Mr. Mac, the "It's hard to reach across the isle from that far left." Even Obama chuckled at that one.
9:32 PM - Will Obama be attacked for claiming he invented Google, given that he just talked about setting up a, "Google for government"???
9:34 PM - Jim Lehrer says, "Can I possibly get either of you to answer my question"??? Tip here, Jim: No, You can't.
9:36 PM - Can someone rewind and see if John McCain's "recipe for an... er eh um stable er uh... economy" was even vaguely coherent???
9:38 PM - Why does John McCain keep taunting Sarah Palin for being elected Miss Congeniality???
9:49 PM - Why say Patraeus and Bin Laden are the same in any way? That seems warped and strange to me.
9:56 PM - Oh NOES! Obama just called out Johnny's awkward kareoke moment. We all thought that was behind us.

10:00 PM - OH NO!!!! No, Barack, "I've got a bracelet too" is such a bad line (caption: the photo above is Brian Williams sporting a Stephen Colbert 'WristSTRONG' braclet)!!
10:02 PM - Did John McCain start a war in Waziristan while I wasn't looking? Can someone comment with a link to a map of Waziristan? I'm sorry if I sound like a stupid douche asking this question.
10:05 PM - Distraction: just noticed: PHILLIES WIN! Go Phils!!!
10:12 PM - Wow! Obama twists the Spanish knife! Pow! Damn, that's cold, my friends. Oh, wait, "my friends" is Trade Marked by McCain. Crap.
10:15 PM - The best and testiest moment of the debate has just passed us, and it was... well... testy and... crap, I already forgot what was happening, but there was a lot of what movie makers might call, "Cross talk"
10:19 PM - Did John McCain just admit that Putin gives him halucinations? He sees letters in peoples eyes... hmm... This section of the debate is very compelling, however. I keep thinking of a movie favorite, Spies Like Us with Chevy Chase and Dan Akroid (spelling??)!
10:22 PM - Wow, based on Matt's comment, I just flipped from CBS where I've been watching the whole debate to CNN... I'm completely overstimulated by all the doohickies on CNN. Lines, score cards, Brazile, Borger, I'm literally overwhelmed. Things are "boiling over" according to Obama but I can't make sense of anything. Breathe, John, Breathe!!!! Ok, petrodollars, and we're back. Hmmmm... need to post more about petrodollars. Petrobux? Petrodollar$$$?
10:25 PM - McCain likes None Lugars... He's a big fan of the lugies.
10:26 PM - McCain talking about Liebermann, I tuned out... not a fan of Ole' Joe. While I was ignoring Libertalk I found out Waziristan is a region of Pakistan. McCain is at war with NW Pakistan.
10:29 PM - WTF? Obama is pro-missile-defense? Orly? For realz? Ayeee. Ok, over it.
10:31 PM - Damn, CNN, your lines are tantalizing.
10:32 PM - Wow, Obama is popular across the isle when he talks about how evil China is. Fascinating. Also, why does this Castellanos grade everything while nobody else seems to be using their score cards in the Analyst dept. @ CNN?
10:37 PM - Gosh, in conclusion I had almost nothing to say, until I realized it's interesting that their mics stayed on after the debate "ended" so that we heard Obama say, "Good job, John" to McCain as they shook hands, and, "How are we doing, honey" as he walked over to Michelle.

And now it's Anderson Cooper time! Or Keither Olbermann Tweety Matthews time depending on your preference... or you know... whoever the heck is on Fox, I dunno.

Nice liveblogging experience everybody. Thanks to the commentors! You both rock my friggin world!

"It's Like a Really Bad Disney Movie..." It Was Only a Matter of Time

The fine folks at College Humor have provided us with a lovely mock-up of the trailer for Matt Damon's nightmare Disney movie, "Head of Skate." It's a heart-warming story of "just your average hockey mom," unexpectedly tapped to be Vice President by an aging somewhat confused old man.

Check it out below, and tell me if this is not hilarious (and honestly if nothing else just incredibly well produced). Watching I could believe Disney is making this movie and slating it for air time right after High School Music 17. Favorite line: "I've got to pick up Algebra from hockey practice!"

hat tip: Purple State.

Wifty Week Leads to... Not-So-Strange Conclusion

So, the debate goes on, both the debate nationally and on Capitol Hill about the merits and features of our government buying $trillions in bad debt from Wall St. entities that perhaps should have known better than to take on these risks in the first place. Simultaneously a debate is going on around the subject of who has been helping or hurting the process of negotiating this whole mucky weird deal from getting done.

Somehow, out of all of that, John McCain has realized that his choice earlier this week to "suspend" campaigning in favor of working on the bailout compromise was a miscalculation. Both he and Barack Obama are headed to Mississippi, and this evening's debate will go on. Strange strange choices this week, not, to me, an entirely unexpected or surprising conclusion.

The Foreign Policies of Obama and McCain

Interesting article this morning in the LA Times, which talks about the similarity between McCain and Obama on issues of foreign policy. Not to toot my own horn, but I have felt the same way for a while. Republicans like to portray Obama as a weak-kneed sissy; Democrats like to portray McCain as Doctor Strangelove. In reality, they are both pretty well inside the American mainstream, and not only on foreign policy. Another question entirely is whether this similarity is a good thing. Should voters have more choice? But even if they did, would it make a difference? the vast majority of people would vote for Obama over Kucinich or McCain over Paul. The key insight comes at the end of the article:

"As a rule I think our presidential candidates are punished for anything that veers too far from the conventional wisdom," Saunders said.

And for better or worse, that is probably true.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

... meanwhile there's a whole other bailout going on

While lawmakers bartered over the terms and specifics of a proposed $700 billion bailout of the banking industry this week, a smaller bailout for the auto industry passed relatively quietly. Congress approved $25 billion (yes that's with a 'b') to help Detroit's big 3 auto makers retool their plants and finally come around to the green revolution the Toyotas and Hondas of the world started capitalizing on oh... almost a decade ago. Sweet.

Say it with me, powers that be, "Free Markets! Competition! Rah rah Rah!"


Debates and Antics

There is a growing consensus in the blogosphere that the McCain campaign's announcement that they want to delay Friday night's debate is theater, and many are suggesting that it may be both bad theater and tactically foolish. As today unfolds it looks more and more likely that congressional representatives will come up with a compromise around the bailout plan, perhaps even before McCain can make it south to DC from his campaigning (Wait... wasn't his campaign "suspended" yesterday??) at the Clinton Global Initiative in NYC.

Wonkette throws my favorite wording onto this whole campaign theatrical fiasco in this post, where they link the debate delay suggestion to the McCain camp's hesitancy to allow Sarah Palin to do anything other than read directly off a teleprompter to crowds that have been pre-screened to be that perfect mix of 95.3% bible-thumping Republican and 4.7% cold-dead-hands-gun-gripping Republican. This snippet is 1/3 of their post, but you should really read the whole thing yourself:
"...and then once they’ve rescheduled the Palin/Biden debate, John McCain can pull another crazy stunt — announcing his own daughter is fake pregnant, maybe, or firing Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or refusing to appear in public in anything but a glittering leotard — and everyone will forget all about this Palin nut and how she withers under intense questioning by Katie freaking Couric."

Views on the Bailout: Part 3

Thanks to Matt for starting up a quality series of posts related to the bailout. I found an editorial I wanted to post yesterday or the day before about the bailout, socialism, and hypocrisy but it took me a day to get it up here, so I'll add it as part 3 in this ongoing series. Thomas F. Schaller writes for the Baltimore Sun (and Salon.com) and in a rather scathing and brilliant bit of rhetoric (cause that's all we liberals really care about these days anyway) he give us the following:
To social conservatives, Darwinism is merely an unproven "theory" about how our species evolved. But "social Darwinism" is an ineluctable fact: The smart and hardworking prosper, while the stupid and lazy fail.

Yet notice how those same chest-thumping capitalists of talk radio and at the corporate-funded think tanks often fall silent in the face of fixed markets, no-bid contracts, bailouts and subsidies for the very corporations that demand less government oversight when things are going well, then turn to Washington when things go horribly wrong.

The hypocrisies abound.
Now, pointing out the hypocrisies involved here doesn't necessarily have any bearing on the question of whether or not bailing-out is an economic necessity, I suppose. Still, I think it does have a direct bearing on some of the particulars at stake this week as the congress weighs and negotiates what a bill may look like.

These issues bear into the picture on questions around executive pay and the need for oversight. This sort of governmental largess in terms of spending cannot be made without the possibility for oversight, to do so would be somewhere way beyond reckless. Again, Shaller puts it well when he says:
Those of us who work hard and pay our taxes are getting screwed. Our Christmas bonus this year? The privilege of covering the tab for greedy executives in the deregulated insurance and mortgage industries who scoff at safety nets for you but demand a safety trapeze for themselves.
Since it's looking more and more inevitable that we'll all be screwed by this to some degree, ie: the taxpayers will be footing something in the way of a bailout, let's at least have someone watching the ways in which this screwing is taking place to make sure it doesn't become slimy and despicable on top of how ridiculous (if perhaps necessary) it already is.

Campbell Brown Goes To Town On Sexism and Sarah Palin... With a Twist.

I'll be honest, I don't know if this feels real or a little too theatrical, but regardless Campbell Brown has a point, and I like it. Nice of her to flip the sexism claim, and I'd love to see what Carly Fiorina has to say about this rant.

Baseball Break: Bullpens Make the Difference, Bomb Threats And The Phanatic

Jayson Stark has a nice piece of commentary over at ESPN this week about how the race between the Phillies and Mets this fall is being decided by bullpens. The Phillies amped up their bullpen support in the off-season by signing primo closer Brad Lidge, who has been lights-out all season long. Meanwhile, the Mets have struggled with injuries and inconsistency out of their own bullpen.

His article give evidence to support what I could already observe in the couple of Mets fans, Kim and Carolyn specifically, who I know. We went to a game at Shea where Johann Santana pitched 7 great innings, leaving with a 5-run lead, only to have the Phillies rally back in the 9th against Mets relief and take a victory. This pattern has repeated so many times this season that I can see my friends cringe even with late-game leads, knowing they're never safe until 27 outs have been recorded and the lights are turned out on a Mets game. The Phillies have given their fans reason to feel this way many times, but this year we have reason to believe.

Still funnier, yesterday there was a bomb threat at Citizens Bank park. "Funny?!?!!?!?," you might ask. Yeah. Funny when you know the back story. Turns out they were filming a commercial with the Philly Phanatic, the Phillies classic and bombastic mascot outside the stadium. Said commercial involved the fanatic shooting foil-wrapped hot dogs out of this air gun, and lord only knows what else. When they wrapped, they left a couple foil-wrapped dogs behind, and later someone spotted them and followed the post-9/11 "See Something/Say Something" credo. The police evacuated fans from the stadium and called in the bomb squad to detonate the packages... only to learn very quickly that they were blowing up all-beef franks.

Isn't a little fall baseball just what we need to release a little of the bailout/financial crisis pressure?


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Views on the Bailout: Part 2

So here is a completely opposing view from Ron Paul, of Internet fame. This might surprise you, but he believes government intervention in the economy is a bad idea. Shocking right?

Here's an interesting tidbit:
Laws passed by Congress such as the Community Reinvestment Act required banks to make loans to previously underserved segments of their communities, thus forcing banks to lend to people who normally would be rejected as bad credit risks.

This is a pretty classic conservative/libertarian/ federalist viewpoint. Well-intentioned(?) Senators in Washington pass legislation that warps the market and has unintended effects. There might be something there, but it would require a pretty massive study. Paul doesn't come close to making a real argument for that, but then it's just a piece on CNN, not really the place for Paul to get all Austrian on us.

I still think that Ron Paul may end up being the most influential candidate of this cycle... eventually.

Views on the Bailout: Part 1

Just to get it out of the way, I know pretty much nothing about the proposed bailout. I've read about it in the newspaper and heard people talking about it online, but my understanding of what's really going on is as superficial as Paris Hilton. But of course this is America and mere ignorance will not stop me from voicing my opinions, or, more accurately, repeating the opinions of smarter people.

The first opinion piece that I enjoyed is from the Times (London, not NY). It essentially argues that free-market concern about the bailout is misplaced. It's a well-written piece by someone who knows vastly more about the whole mess than I do and it is full of very British humour:

As Charles Goodhart said in the FT this week, the time to worry about moral hazard is in the boom. Worrying about moral hazard now is like “refusing to sell fire insurance just after the Great Fire of London for fear of adversely affecting future behaviour”.

I can't help but wonder, though, if it does not unfairly simplify some of the concerns that people have about the bailout. Moral hazard is surely one of the boogymen that has been invoked, but I suspect their are other legitimate worries. In any case, it is worth reading and will make for good conversation over the proverbial dinner table or water cooler.

Ghost-Writing For McCain

Salon has an interesting feature today, written by Margriet Oostveen who writes a weekly column called "Message From Washington" for the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad. Oostveen has volunteered in various political campaigns and then written about the experience, and in today's feature article on Salon she documents her experience writing fictional letters to the editor that will eventually be circulated to McCain supporters as possible letters for them to sign and have sent into their local newspaper.

I have no idea how common this practice is, or if I'm even all that worried about the act itself, but I do think her story is an interesting one, fun to be along for the ride. Meanwhile, if you're curious about more details on her task, you can read up on sample letters and guidelines the campaign gave her.

Email Hacking!

Obama's email hacked by the Onion! (click image to see more):

Hat tip to Purple State.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

If Democrats were Republicans, they would air this... um... maybe

Wow. 23/6 has put together some interesting stuff this cycle, but today I caught up with two ads following the theme, "If Democrats were Republicans they would approve this message."

Both ads play that interesting mix of fun and disturbing... thought provoking, and laugh-inspiring. Here's one that works from the supercute Piper Palin video I posted awhile back:

And there is another tied to the Manchurian Candidate idea here.

... meanwhile back in Alaska

The state government up in Alaska is systematically being shut down by the McCain campaign to prevent anyone from knowing anything about Sarah Palin's actual activities in office as Governor... anything other than the campaign talking points about lipstick, hockey, and "saying no to that bridge to nowhere"

Like it or not, did SNL have an impact?

Amy Poehler's Hillary Clinton closed the intro skit between her and Tina Fey's Sarah Palin last week with the line, "I invite the media to grow a pair, and if you can't I will lend you mine."

Now, whether you found the skit funny or kinda flat, whether you found Tina Fey's Palin inspired or insipid, it would seem, from this week's events, that the media has, to some degree taken heed of that call. Just today the McCain campaign arranged for a big photo op/media moment surrounding Sarah Palin's meetings at the UN with various foreign dignitaries. These meetings were set up as an attempt to give Governor Palin more foreign policy cred, but to me seem, well, a bit showy and strange on their face.

At the last minute the campaign announced (this morning) that no actual reporting would be allowed of these meetings, only photographers and a video crew from CNN would be allowed in (with CNN to provide video coverage for other news networks). When this was announced, however, CNN reacted to the barring of reporters from this event by pulling their crew entirely, denying video coverage to what the McCain campaign no doubt hoped would be a nice press moment for their incredibly popular (some might say celebrity-esque) VP candidate. Ultimately it turns out that a producer was allowed in, but isn't this back-and-forth strange and troubling.

It also isn't something happening in a vacuum. The Huffington Post has a nice rundown of increasing press frustration with McCain camp unavailability (on the part of both the Presidential and VP candidates). Some are trying to spread the term, "No Talk Express" as a new substitute for the McCain classic image of the "Straight Talk Express."

Still, why does any of this matter? Certainly Obama isn't being grilled on a daily basis by the press, and when he is perhaps we can see reasons why McCain is more hesitant. Both men have made gaffes, from the one mentioned by Venice in a post late last week to some of the gaffes that almost immediately pre-dated the McCain camp moving to curtail reporter proximity to their Presidential candidate, and to end the famous bull sessions that gave the Straight-Talk name to McCain's campaign bus in the first place.

I was thinking through these sorts of issues when I watched Tony Blair on the Daily Show last night (it was a repeat from last week). Mr. Blair's courage to go on and face some comical, but ultimately tough questioning shows something I think we should ask our politicians for, namely more honesty and less spin.

Right now both campaigns are attempting to tightly orchestrate the choreography needed to move from a tight race now to a November victory, and in so doing they are both hesitant to take chances, risk mistakes, and open themselves to missteps. Even so, I think what I want most from either or both of them right now is to display the sort of confidence in themselves and in the American public that would allow them to be bold and actually get out there, put their feet above the fire, take hard questions and give real answers.

Will I see this anytime soon from Barack, John, Joe or Sarah? I'm not holding my breath. Still, if the media continues to push hard and act like they really want the investigative, independent, respected credentials they should be chasing... we'll see if anything will change.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Has the world been turning or what?

So... not much going on in the last week, huh? Just the collapse of the western financial markets, the Bush administration's new-found love of communism (and consistent war against anything resembling reasonable oversight, even when dealing with a crisis likely caused at least in part by a lack of competent oversight), Tina Fey kicking ass at the Emmys after kicking ass as Sarah Palin on SNL (pasted below in case you haven't contributed to this being NBC's most watched web video... EVER).

I think there was also some Phillies retaking first place in the NL East from the Mets, some presidential campaigns coming slightly unhinged from reality. Not much, right? Not so very much.

What's ahead? Naps and workouts make for presidential debate prep (guess who's napping and who's working out)!!!

Money quote from the article on debate prep:

"The McCain campaign is having some trouble finding the right person for Gov. Palin's practice sessions. Sen. Joe Lieberman was considered, but dropped for being insufficiently fiery and loquacious to do a good Biden impression."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Typewriters, Baby!

I adore a good op-ed -perhaps because I don't think I'll ever pen one myself. With that in mind, I really enjoyed what Thomas Friedman had to say in the New York Times the other day about drilling for oil. Aside from agreeing with what he said, I think it's just a well crafted piece, complete with the immortal line "Typewriters, baby, Typewriters" in mockery of Rudy Giuliani. It's worth the two minutes it will take you to read it.

Amazing Bear Butt Itching

Wonkette, even in my busiest week of late you come through with incredible content to make me get back to blogging! YAY!!!

Somebody Check the Thermostat in Hell

This is a truly amazing editorial by Wick Allison, of National Review fame. What makes it worth reading, besides its thoughtful argument, is that it endorses Barack Obama for President. Of the United States.

No, really.

And it isn't one of those " vote for Obama so in four years we can get a real conservative" pieces either. It's the real deal. The central thesis is that Obama should be president because he is the real conservative in this race. Anyway, you've got to read it in its entirety, but in the meantime, consider this little tidbit:

It gives me comfort just to think that after eight years of George W. Bush we will have a president who has actually read the Federalist Papers.


Why Republicans get to call Obama an "elitist"

We've all often wondered how Republicans manage to slap the Elitist label on Obama and other Democrats, given that said Republicans wear $300,000 outfits and live in 7 glass houses. I think the answer is that the kind of elitism that Republicans have in mind is, for lack of a better term, intellectual elitism. The idea is that Democrats are pointy-headed, smarty-pants professors, who look down their nose at the beliefs and tastes of regular folks. It's not universally true of course. you'd have a hard time convincing me that the union voters, who tend to vote Democratic, are the sort to laugh off NASCAR and country music. But the idea is not entirely untrue either. If you meet someone with a graduate degree at an art gallery or wine and cheese party, the chances are pretty good that he or she is voting blue.
Obama doesn't help the case with comments like these:

The one thing that I want to insist on is that, as I travel around the country, the American people are a decent people. Now they get confused sometimes. You know, they listen to the wrong talk radio shows or watch the wrong TV networks, um, but they’re, they’re basically decent, they’re basically sound.

How this will sound to voters in Indiana: Now, the American people may disargeee with we enlightened liberals, but that's not because they're bad. No, it's just because they're confused, see. They listen to talk radio instead of reading The Nation. But eventually they'll come around to the One True Way.

I expect these comments to get a lot more attention, because that sentiment, folks, is exactly why some conservatives see Obama as an elitist, regardless of the size of his bank account.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I Find Your Lack of Taste in Fashion Disturbing

Gawker had a post last night that made me giggle at first, but then got me thinking... What would have happened if Obama had chosen Hillary as his running mate? Would we be treated to her in a Padme-accidentally-ripped-her-shirt-in-a-sexy-way outfit? How long would it be before we saw a metal bikini on the campaign trail. You made the right choice Barry! Now, somebody go get Joe Biden a Porkins costume!

"I can hold it!"
(Apologies for not photoshopping this with Biden's face... maybe later?)

Finally, as an astute commenter said after reading the Gawker article, this is all funny, but if you follow the parallels of Palin = Tarkin too far you realize that McCain = Vader and the United States is now Alderaan.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Negativity, Lies, Shadiness: McCain Palin '08

Interesting article at Politico documenting the shift from the "a new kind of politics" version of McCain to what we've been seeing lately... the perhaps aptly called the "rape and pillage" McCain Palin campaign, especially considering this story.

The article covers decisions made around the decision to simply go hard core negative and try to keep Obama from talking about issues. Nice.

“Every day not talking about the economy, the war and how to fix a broken system is a victory for McCain,” said John Weaver, a former top strategist to the nominee who left the campaign last year. “They’re going to ride it as long as they can and as long as the mainstream media puts up every ridiculous charge.”

The negative and often exaggerated or misleading claims being made about Obama and Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, especially those playing on Palin’s gender, are just too irresistible for the process-consumed online and cable news media that now drives the campaign conversation, Weaver said.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Yes Yes Yes

More please. Get Ari Melber on TV more, Democrats! He's good. Calling lies lies, and calling those who tell them liars. Well done, clear, forceful, and appropriate. Check it out:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Governor of Giant Frightening Beasts

Sorry... I've wanted some excuse to post this picture for days, and I finally decided to just post it cause I want to. Sarah Palin appears here, framed by her giant killer snow crab, star of the Discovery Channel show Ice Road Truckers, and leaning against the bear she accidentally killed earlier that day while hunting moose. Since she knows how to dress moose, she simply applied the same skills, creating this festive bear throw in 12 minutes flat.

Seriously, what is going on in this picture. I am, perhaps, somewhere on the extreme end of people who care about animals given that for the last 7 years I've chosen to only eat fish as a way of not condoning via participation the practices of the meat packing industry in America. Still, while I acknowledge my views may be a little far left... isn't this picture just kinda strange and ominous?

Ok... maybe you're thinking it isn't the only strange and ominous thing about the whole possibility that Sarah Palin could soon be either our VP or our President. Anyway, there it is, the picture I just couldn't help posting.

"I Need To Know if She Really Thinks Dinosaurs Were Here 4,000 Years Ago...

... because she's going to have the nuclear codes." That's only one of the cuttingly direct things Matt Damon says about his alarm at the idea of President Palin (watch below). One of the McCain camp's main lines of attack this summer against Barack Obama has been to paint him as a celebrity. Well, it's funny when actual celebrities have interesting stuff to say about the elections. Thanks to Purple State, for yet again tracking down interesting video the digs a little behind the lines of what is hitting the echo chambers. That is to say that Damon has nothing to say about lipstick.

Further Update! Pigs, Lipstick, "Dogs and Cats Living Together... Mass Hysteria"

Wow oh wow, this stupid lipstick thing has taken on a life of its own. McCain camp dunderheads are all over the cable news stations claiming Obama called Johnny Mac an old fish, and meanwhile somewhere somehow, sanity does occasionally shine through. Media Matters has a nice clip (below) showing one intervention on behalf of sanity.

Meanwhile, McCain is hoping to recruit the cast of Ghostbusters to give the following speech live on Faux News. Unfortunately for them, it turns out Bill Murray has standards.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Update: Day of Pigs, Fish, Chimps Ogres

Wow... cable news and the McCain Palin Campaign have done it again. This time I'm actually a bit flabbergasted. They went and took what I thought was a outlier oddball reaction to a fairly straightforward quote and churned it right up into a full-blown ridiculous web attack advertisement. In the ad, they accuse Barack Obama of calling Sarah Palin a pig. Really? REALLY!?!?!?!

Wow. This is awesome. And so third grade. "He called Sarah a PIG!!!! Make him sit in the corner!" WOW! Wtf.

Anyway, in brighter news, the cable news cycle that picked this spin up and spun it further and further and further did actually begin to result in an interesting thing: they are calling lies "lies," and the folks who tell them "liars." Now, this may sound pretty basic, but so much of Karl Rove's brand of politics relies on the media acting like lapdogs in this regard. They count on (and are too often right to do so) the fact that media will take an "unbiased" view, shying away from reporting when one political party is telling bald-faced lies about another.

All in all, today's development continue to signal to me and to many that the McCain campaign is truly adrift way far away from anything resembling integrity. Here's a bit of interesting writing on that subject from one-time-McCain-admirer Andrew Sullivan.

Possibly the Best Rick Rolling Ever Created

Thanks Purple State for posting this gem, a video of John McCain being Barackrolled at the RNC convention... I don't know what to say except that this is amazing:

Oh... Rick Rolling... how is it that you never get old???

Obama attacks Pigs and Fish, Biden to attack Chimps, Ogres

There's a bizarro-world storyline in the presidential election today, and it makes me kinda giddy because it's so so so ridiculous, you just have to love it. Obama recently rolled out a line about how John McCain wants to claim he's for change, but he advocates for many policies that seem fairly status quo. To drive home his point, Obama said:
"You can put lipstick on a pig. It's still a pig. You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change. It's still gonna stink. We've had enough of the same old thing."

Now the McCain camp via former Mass Governor Jane Swift has come out in complete outrage over the fact that Obama called Sarah Palin a pig and John McCain a fish. The Obama camp will soon respond to McCain by sending out Joe Biden to call George Bush a chimp and Dick Cheney an Ogre. This is some great stuff. Here's an actual video of the somewhat reasonable context in which Obama made his oh-so-very unreasonable remarks.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

"Bring Back the Real McCain"

Having been without an Economist for several weeks, I just finally saw their cover story about McCain. Amazingly, it was written before Sarah Palin was chosen as his running mate, which only makes the argument that McCain has sold out even stronger.

I would have liked to respond to John's post by arguing that McCain hasn't changed, that he's still immune from the far right's influence. I even started a post to that effect. I'm not sure I can. I feel like every day that goes by brings me closer and closer to voting against the man I've so long admired. It's hard to think about.

Perhaps it is not coincidental that McCain is surging in the polls. I have never voted for a winning presidential candidate, which means that Obama should be doing all he can to lose the Me demographic...

More from the South

ChimneyFlowerBees3, originally uploaded by Chambo25.

I've been derelict in my photoblogging of late, as usual, but this is one of my favorites from this summer's North Carolina trip! Today, while it's rainy as all get-out up here in the CT I thought it would be nice to toss a little color up on the ole blog.

I snapped this photo as we were preparing to climb up Chimney Rock. There were a slew of bees flying around in a patch of flowers. The purple you see in the background is cabbage, planted in the same flower bed.

Damn Statistics

Apparently Obama had a nice chat with Bill O'Reilly last week and Keith Olbermann as well... the two loud talkers went head-to-head last night airing their interview action, and among other things O'Reilly was particularly catty on the subject of taxes. He went after Obama, using some squirrely math to try and paint a picture that economic growth has been stellar under the Bush administration and was relatively limp in the Clinton years.

Obama didn't have the math on hand so couldn't respond in kind, but did react by offering a quote that there are, "lies, damn lies and then there there are statistics." What he didn't have in front of him were the analysis of O'Reilly's numbers that would have demonstrated how his stats weren't adjusted for inflation which would have put growth numbers from 2001 until now at around 5% compared with about a 30% growth rate from the start to the end of Bill Clinton's time in office. Oops. Salon's War Room did the math I'm quoting and you can check their work via the post here.

Still, I'm just as interested in some other math Salon did today to fact check Sarah Palin on the trail and on the attack over earmarks. See, the McCain camp still wants to paint Palin as a maverick fighter against the evil that is earmarks in spite of her extensive work with Ted Stevens and other indited hooligans to secure just as much earmark cash as possible for Alaska's pet projects. Palin claimed that Obama has spent his days in Washington greedily chasing pork $$ to the tune of about $1 million for every working day, a piece of math Salon checked over and said, "Ok, looks good." However, they also went on to compare apples to apples and found that if you use Palin's measuring standards on her own pork tally, you find she actually has chased slightly more earmark cash for Alaska on a $ per work day basis. Hmm... nicely done, Salon. I like your calculations.

Check it all out here: Post on O'Reilly and Statistics, Post on Palin and Pork Shadiness. Here we go folks... looks like we can expect a fall full of fun with more crap like this flying! YAY!

Monday, September 08, 2008

From Upside-Down World: The Presidential Ticket That Fights Republicans...

There's a new ad out this week from the McCain campaign, still pushing for John McCain to be seen as Mr. McMaverick, new and improved, now with extra Palin Power! My question and problem is this: do people who care about his once independent streak, and care about change really believe McCain is still the same change agent he once was?

If you knew nothing of context here and simply watched the ad below, what party would you believe these two are part of? Probably not the Republicans, right? Still, if you listened to the speeches at the GOP convention last week there wasn't exactly a lot of policy laid out that sounded all that new or different from the same ideas Bushie & Co. have been rolling around for years. So wazzup?

I'll give them this, it sure is a jazzy little ad, tantalizing like, say, a fancy speech might be to some. But what is it worth, if the Maverick storyline is either entirely in the past or largely trumped-up?

Weigh in, let me know what you think of the Original Mavericks!!!

"Words Mean Something!" - Obama

YES! This has been a rallying cry of mine for quite some time, and I was very extremely wonderfully pleased to read today on HuffPo that Barack Obama used a line I think everyone who gives a crap about the future, truth, and reality should adopt. The article linked in the last sentence reports on Obama taking his first direct attack on Sarah Palin, criticizing her for billing herself as an earmark fighter while she successfully chased over $4,000 a person worth of earmarks (that's over $27 million total) for the small city of Wasilla, AK while she was mayor.

In his remarks on the subject, Obama said:
"She's a skillful politician. But, you know, when you've been taking all these earmarks when it's convenient, and then suddenly you're the champion anti-earmark person, that's not change. Come on! I mean, words mean something, you can't just make stuff up."

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Lazy Blogging

You know, I could post and pretend that I've got lots of original thoughts and interesting things to say about John McCain's speech at the GOP Convention, or I could just post the video from the start of yesterday's Daily Show. Brilliant!

Haven't heard about Walter Reed Middle School, Sarah Palin's love of Wasilla Earmarks, the giant gravestone image, or the phallic... er middle finger stage? Check it out.

Toby Says His Piece

Who doesn't love West Wing? I will admit that it is a community collective pass-time among people in my age bracket who live or have lived in Washington DC to imagine what the world would be like if only President Bartlett had reached power in 2000, rather than Dubya. Still, all make-believe aside, the cast of the show are a remarkable bunch, now turning out stellar performances, like Allison Janney's turn in Juno. Today I read a remarkable piece of writing by Toby (Richard Schiff) over at Huffington Post, and I simply had to post a bit of an excerpt.

The whole thing isn't too long, and I strongly encourage anyone troubled by the tight state of the current presidential race to read it quickly. His piece focuses on the fact that his wife, a strong Hillary supporter, appears likely to be voting for McCain this fall. Here's a stretch that I was especially struck by:

"... The bottom line is that this is where we are: a still fractious and divided nation, split right down the middle, as represented by my very own household. I am moved to think that we, along with the Obama/Biden team, will begin to change the very culture of the way we do business with each other and the world at large. That we should use 'Example as power rather than power as example'; that 'America's promise [is] of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort.'

I ask myself why these tenets are so rejected by the opposition, by my wife. Is it racism? Is it the propaganda of family values and God and the manifest destiny of American domination of the world as a righteous cause? Is it that John McCain is still perceived as a maverick and revered for his heroic war service? Is it the singular issue for some women that Hillary Clinton was castigated in certain media and an object of old-school misogyny that is unacceptable and cause enough to abandon the very politics that she supports?

I can't answer these questions, as I don't understand the thinking and emotional investment that defends them.

My opinion of John McCain is different. Here is a man who had his moment in history already pass him by. After being eviscerated and politically castrated in the 2000 Republican primaries by the Bush PR machine; accused falsely of fathering an illegitimate and racially mixed child, he was given a chance at redemption and a chance to save the world from a man he considered at the time to be dangerous and untrustworthy. He could have run as a third party candidate and taken enough votes away from George W. to seal the election for Al Gore. He passed.

Four years later, John Kerry had talks with McCain about running as his Vice-President; a dream ticket that would surely bring down the Bush regime. Again he passed. When I ask Washington insiders why, they can only conclude that the reason was simple, unadulterated ambition to be President. But what a price to pay. This is a man who could have saved the world from the last eight years of disaster and instead is content to inherit the aftermath. But the other half of the divide chooses to imagine the younger McCain, the independent, free thinking, iconoclast he may very well have been once, long ago.

And now McCain has picked Sarah Palin of Alaska for the office of Vice-President. I'm sure she is capable of governing the frozen tundra of her state (couldn't help myself) and is surely a force to be reckoned with on some level. But no one can convince me thatMcCain has chosen a running mate who is capable of stepping into the Oval Office in the event of the death of the President. And let's face it, that scenario isn't beyond the realm of possibility. And even with this, I hear in real and electronic voices 'we like her,' 'she's warm and personable,' 'she's a soccer mom who has become accomplished and powerful.' What?

And so we stay divided: My country, my wife and I. I am stumped. But I am stubborn in my hope that Americans across the great divide, including one who sleeps in my bed, will wake up to more lofty dreams.

I imagine an America that can actually change. That we become a nation that prospers again but without pillaging the resources of nations that make their people hate us. That we become a nation that, as the constitution says in its preamble, its very first paragraph, 'promotes the general welfare' of its people.

When new ideas and belief-altering evidence confronts us, many of us still shout that the world is flat, or global climate change is cyclical, or women belong in the home. I can only remember when great agents of change come to us, it seems as many reject their presence as rejoice in it. Kennedy won office by the slimmest margin in our history to that point. Martin Luther King made as many or more enemies than there were marchers by his side.

I know that's a ridiculously long excerpt, but I recommend reading the whole thing, I found it an interesting meditation on the state of the nation/election.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Fun and Games: HORSE

Thanks to Larry for pointing this out... what fun stuff. The video below shows the match up between factory worker David Kalb and LeBron James in a game (actually two games) of HORSE. Kalb won an online contest for the best trick shot, and as his prize got to take on James in a game of HORSE, going head-to-head with one of the most talented men int he NBA, Kalb showed remarkable creativity and athleticism, and generally it's just fun to watch the wacky shots he hit. James really couldn't keep up with the strange stylings of Mr. Kalb, and honestly who could? I'm not really a basketball fan, but this is worth a watch.

UPDATE: I took out the video itself because I couldn't switch off auto play, but you can still watch it on the LA Times website by visiting the link above.

Taking Issues Off the Table

Many have said that John McCain took the experience issue off the table in this year's election by choosing Sarah Palin to be his running mate. Was he on a bit of a spree with taking issues off the table this week? Perhaps! HuffPo documented the fact that on his big night, at his big speech, in front of his big ole lime green screen Mr. McCain was not fulfilling on of his sacred duties as a God-fearing, red meat-loving, apple pie-eating 'Country First' son of freedom, liberty, and democracy. No Idea what I'm talking about? Well, it turns out, John McCain wore no flag pin to his speech last night. Oops! Why does he hate America so much? Sorry, this is really a pretty goofy post, but I couldn't resist. Cheers everyone to the death of non-issues (or my wish for them to fade away)!!!

Did anybody catch this?

Apparently the RNC showed some pretty graphic footage of 9/11 last night before McCain's speech. I had a softball double-header so I missed it, but apparently Keith Olbermann found the whole thing so off-color that he made the apology you see below. Now, while I like Olbermann a bunch, and I enjoy his show I will be the first to admit he makes quite a bit of his outrage on a regular basis, but was anybody out there watching? Did you see the video in question, and was it as nasty and extreme as they suggest? If so, I guess I really wouldn't be surprise. From the Boston Globe's coverage of it all, you would think they seriously crossed a line. Interesting. I found this all on AmericaBlog but haven't seen it picked up too many other places... at least not yet.

Magical Disappearing Reappearing Veep!

Interesting tidbit from MSNBC below, apparently after her impressive speech the other night (that's a negative thing, right?) Sarah Palin is headed back to Alaska to tend to personal business before joining the campaign. This is explained in the video as being a front for her going off to "begin the education of Sarah Palin," which is a somewhat incredible statement to me. Is there any possible world in which this doesn't constitute an implicit acknowledgment that she is not ready for prime time? Thoughts?

Talking Out Both Sides of Their Mouths

The Daily show does some really nice work wrangling clips to show some fun... changes in opinions on the fair and balanced side of the news, from Karl Rove's thoughts on what experience would make for a good VP candidate to various right wing pundits spouting off about gender and sexism. This is worth a watch... and if you missed the GOP Vetting Emporium and Taco Stand... do yourself a favor and track back to that one. It's "vetter than nothing!"

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Unbearable Cuteness of Being Piper Palin

Cute kids are the in accessory for all hip politicians this fall. Obama has got two amazingly adorable daughters. Remember when his youngest couldn't stop talking to daddy when he appeared live via sattelite after Michelle Obama's speech at the DNC convention (watch the end of the video I posted of Michelle's speech here if you want to relive the cuteness)?

Last night's speech by Sarah Palin provided the media a great opportunity to soak in the cuteness of Piper Palin... and boy did they grab some incredible stuff. I was happy today to find a YouTube clip of my favorite moment during the speech last night... the point where cameras cut away to little Piper holding her baby bro Trig and spitting on his head... er... fixing his hair. Awesome!

“No matter how cynical I get, it’s just never enough to keep up.”

Outstanding piece from Roger Simon at Politico apologizing profusely for the elite liberal commie media's indulgences over the past week. I know this article will never see the light with the people at whom these "kill the media" attacks are aimed, yet the piece is so good... so good. It provided the Lily Tomlin quote I stole for the title of my own post. It also provided these nuggets:

"On behalf of the media, I would like to say we are sorry.

On behalf of the elite media, I would like to say we are very sorry.

We have asked questions this week that we should never have asked.

We have asked pathetic questions like: Who is Sarah Palin? What is her record? Where does she stand on the issues? And is she is qualified to be a heartbeat away from the presidency?

We have asked mean questions like: How well did John McCain know her before he selected her? How well did his campaign vet her? And was she his first choice?

Bad questions. Bad media. Bad."

FOOTNOTE on ELITISM: Salon's War Room just posted the fact that Cindy McCain's outfit worn on the first day of the GOP convention cost a mere $300,000. I'm sorry... $300,000. Maybe it's me, but that's simply incredible. An outfit. 300k... literally many times what I make in a year. Wow.

Damn those liberal Northeastern elites and their elitist elite ways. SERIOUSLY!?!?! Wtf? Their post references this post over at Vanity Fair. How is it possible at all that these two-faced fakers can get away with such blatant ridiculousness? I begrudge nobody their ability to work and make as much money as they like... but for such filthy filthy rich people to call anybody elitist... ARGH!!!!!!!!

Come For The Vetting, Stay For The Tacos

The fine folks at the Public Service Administration have done it again... already responsible for an amazing rework of the 3am ad and numerous other funny YouTube vids to date, they have hit the GOP VettingGate hard right in the funny bone. Wow... that's the worst thing I've ever written. Oh well, here goes:

Spitting Images

There are some clever people out there in this universe, and some of them spotted a nice similarity between Battlestar and McCain Palin... hence, they created this site for Tigh/Roslin '08. Check it yo.

I've always meant to get more into Battlestar, and I've watched a bit and enjoyed. For now tho, this is really just a post about cleverness

Obama, Experience, etc

I must admit that every time I hear the word experience, I think of Dungeons and Dragons. I keep expecting someone to talk about how many orcs Obama's killed. So I'll try to avoid using the word experience. I will say, however, that one of the most important facts about Obama is that he spent less than 2 years in the Senate before announcing his candidacy for President and I will try to articulate why I think this matters.

First of all, Obama's short time in the Senate means that he has a very short record. Of course, most freshman Senator's do, but that's why I don't like voting for them as President. This matters to me because I think that a candidate's record is a good indication of what they will do in office. When people campaign they tend to take courageous positions in favor of America, families and puppy-dogs. In other words, their campaign is not a very good way to tell where they stand. Their record in office is harder to gloss over.

McCain, to use the obvious counter-example, has a very long record in the Senate. I don't agree with much of it, and probably no one does, but it let's me make some judgments about McCain. He's a generally conservative guy, who is willing to make some unorthodox calls and willing to take politically dangerous positions because he thinks they're right. I would think here of everything from immigration reform to opposing sending the Marines to Beruit. Obama simply doesn't have much of a record. I do not know of any serious legislative accomplishments that he's done and, for all his much vaunted post-partisanship, I do not know of any time he broke with his party to do something unpopular (not that people should be doing that just for the sake of looking good to independents). This makes it much harder to judge what he will be like in office. In fact, it seems to me that this is part of his appeal. McCain has been involved in so many pieces of legislation over the years that it's easy to find something you don't like. It's harder to do that with Obama and this lets him seem new and fresh. I think this actually helps him and he knows it.

Which brings us nicely to my second point. Many people that I deeply respect see Obama as a new kind of a politician, hope and change we can believe in. I wish I could see that too, and, sometimes, when he is speaking I do. But mostly I see an incredibly ambitious, calculating political mind. Oh, of course any one who runs for President is, including McCain, but there seems like such a deep disconnect between Obama the Philosopher King and Obama the Politician that I sometimes wonder how he can take himself seriously.

Anyway, I suspect this is just one post in a long and fruitful debate, about what experience is, who has it, and whether anyone can win the presidency without resorting to tactics that appall our better sensibilities. So I'll post in that spirit and look forward to continuing later.


I ought to thank Romney for his speech last night, because it reminded me why I despise him. In part it was the sheer hypocrisy of it all. The son of a wealthy-businessman liberal Republican governor, the graduate of Harvard Law, the long time Bostonian, the liberal Republican governor of MASSACHUSETTS-- railing against East Coast Elites? Then there is the pejorative use of the term "liberal", about which Sullivan has a great post this morning. And of course, the frightening chants of USA! USA! But of any moment in the speech, the one which most completley demonstrates why I hate Romney is when he addressed energy policy. He addresses that old bugaboo known as "dependence on foreign oil" and tells us that our buying oil from overseas represents "the largest transfer of wealth in history."

Mitt makes it sounds like we are simply shipping off billions of dollars to the Middle East. He doesn't mention that we are getting something very valuable in return: oil. Obviously we value oil more than the money we use to pay for it, or else we would not make the purchase. It's called a market, Mitt. Adam Smith, the invisible hand, capitalism? Now, if Huckabee said the same thing I could forgive him, 'cause you don't get the sense that Huck cares much for economics. Romney, however, is a gifted venture capitalist. He gets it. Which means he's just playing politics. Whatever problems I have with Palin, I still would prefer her at the bottom of the ticket.

Experience and Obama

Matt wrote an interesting post a few days ago about Andrew Sullivan and the Obama/Palin experience question that has reared its head full-force this week. I have been bothered by the experience argument against Obama for awhile, so here's a quick download on why this whole thing bothers me. Certainly Barack Obama has a different kind of experience from someone like Joe Biden, John McCain or I dunno... Dick Cheney or Nancy Pelosi as other examples.

Obama has, admittedly not been in the senate for decades, and he has not worked face-to-face with the leaders of foreign nations for decades. He has not run a company, and he hasn't authored, sponsored and passed dozens of pieces of landmark legislation to make significant progress on specific issues over the course of his years in the Senate (but who does in their first few years as a Senator... has anyone produced an example of such accomplishment upon arrival on the Senate floor?). He has not run a beurocratic machine like state, province, nation, etc. These are all valid points.

That said, what bothers me is the (in my opinion) flawed notion that these types of experience are necessary to success as President or having them (or not) is indicative of ones' "readiness" to lead. This line of reasoning, to me, engenders a sense that you need to follow a prescribed path or clear a certain set of hurdles to be ready, able, etc. This pumping up of a path to power or to qualification for leadership seems overblown to me, and I think Sarah Palin and Barack Obama provide an interesting contrast case to help highlight why that is. If anything, the debate that continues to develop since Ms. Palin arrived on the Republican ticket makes this whole experience line even more patently absurd.

I honestly feel like if you look at Ms. Palin's resume you can see some of the specific types of experience commentators have found lacking on Obama's resume, namely tenure in executive office. That said, you can also find things on Obama's resume that are not present on Palins. One post I saw today compared Obama's chairmanship at the Harvard Law Review (first African American to hold this post) to Palin's minor in Political Science at Idaho State. Some might call this comparison elitist, but the fact remains there is a track record of leadership and accomplishment that backs up the rationality behind Democratic excitement, voting and support for their candidate. The guy isn't, as Hillary suggested back when she was still in it, running based on one speech. He's running based on his interest in and pledge to bring together disparate interest groups and to work for change in new and dynamic ways.

Obama has, in the course of his campaign, show his interest in doing just that. He went to Michigan, a state that is considered very much in contention, and he did not cave to the powerful auto industry, instead taking Detroit to task for their resistance to raising fuel efficiency in American cars and their laconic approach to competition. He went after his own party, challenging them to embrace religious groups and evangelicals as possible allies on issues like poverty, AIDS, and rebuilding our inner cities turning aside years of capitulation to the idea that these groups will always vote Republican no matter what. He pushed for his campaign to have a 50-state grass-roots foundation, and has taken many steps to continue relying on this connection to real supportors and their issues all along the way.

While I absolutely agree with Matt that a good campaigner does not necessarily a good leader make, I think these are three fine examples where you can see the mark of a leader interested in building a movement. This is a guy who doesn't, as the right wing might suggest, simply care about talking pretty. He cares about setting up his campaign and an energizing machine that will push forward towards a new day of progress. Now I am clearly in the tank, plain and simple. I can't deny it, and I wouldn't want to, but that said, I think there is a flawed simplicity to the argument about experience, and while I'm not sure I've fully exposed what bothers me about that, I hope I've provided enough to spark some discussion or response from various quarters. Please, please, please let me know what you think.