Thursday, January 31, 2008

Debate Live(ish)-Blogging

Live on tape from the Kodak Theater, it's the historic "no white guys" Presidential Debate. Not counting the ten thousand white guys in the audience...

Guess I can't vote on those Politco.com questions, since this is really over.

Ooo! No holds barred!

I'm taking this into the comments, because I have no idea how many column inches this will be...

Let's Rumble

Tonight is the first one-on-one Obama v. Hillary throwdown. This is must-see tv for me. We'll be doing some birthday festivities tonight, so I won't be live-blogging (not that I would anyway...) but somehow I am going to see this thing and get a post out of it.

Obama is starting things off early...
"... It's not enough to say you'll be ready from Day One — you have to be right from Day One..."

"[...] Democrats will win in November and build a majority in Congress not by nominating a candidate who will unite the other party against us, but by choosing one who can unite this country around a movement for change..."

"It is time for new leadership that understands the way to win a debate with John McCain or any Republican who is nominated is not by nominating someone who agreed with him on voting for the war in Iraq or who agreed with him in voting to give George Bush the benefit of the doubt on Iran, who agrees with him in embracing the Bush-Cheney policy of not talking to leaders we don't like, who actually differed with him by arguing for exceptions for torture before changing positions when the politics of the moment changed."

"It is about the past versus the future," he said. "And when I am the nominee, the Republicans won't be able to make this election about the past."


Goddamn, the Unity Pony can kick.

Or would you prefer the Pander Bear?
Clinton spent her day in Little Rock, Ark., before heading to Atlanta for speeches to the Southern Baptist Convention and a major Democratic fundraiser. She took a colorful diversion on the trip to Atlanta, heading down the aisle of her campaign plane serving peach cobbler to reporters and staffers.

"I love anything peach," Clinton said.

[/gag]

Tonight's debate is the best chance for both of them to land blows before Super Tuesday, and I expect things to get interesting. Debates are a format where Hillary has done better than Obama thusfar. He needs to bring his A-game tonite.

"STEEE-RIKE!!"

Is it me or did Bill Clinton swing and miss on a fat, hanging curveball here? I was perfectly prepared to enjoy him handling this heckler, and he completely lost me...Judge for yourself.

One








I Love You, Baby. Happy Birthday.

Mrs F. has more pics, and outshines me with her touching poem...

Desktop Meme

Toast is propagating a new visual meme—show your desktop. So here's my desktop at work:


Yeah, that's right—dual widescreens, baby.

The left side is the 20" monitor, the right side is the 20" iMac it's attached to. My "Dock" is not normally visible unless I run the cursor down there, but there'd be nothing to look at if I didn't show it to you.

This, of course is what it looks like with nothing open. Once the day gets rolling, you won't see a bit of that gray background...Usually there's a bunch of icons trashing up the place, but I had just cleaned that crap up at the end of the day yesterday—this is tidier than normal.

I'll do my home (work) computer tonight.

In both cases, the background is plain gray, because I do a lot of photo-editing and color correction, and crazy backgrounds are distracting. My screensavers are slideshows of pics of the kids.

Oh, I figure I'll do Toast one better and let you see the full scale of my disorganizational capabilities—here's my desk:


It looks much worse/overwhelming in person, trust me.

UPDATE: Here is my home computer, which is really a work computer (tons of freelance). I noticed tonight what an abomination my desktop is—littered with icons—and realized I should share...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Dick of the Week: Tomas Delgado

Per Smitty's nomination. I think on the 30th, it's safe to just promote this asshole to Dick of the Month...
Driver Who Killed Teen Sues for Damage

MADRID, Spain Jan 25, 2008 (AP) A speeding motorist who killed a teenage cyclist is suing the boy's parents over damage to his luxury car, the government says.

Enaitz Iriondo, 17, died instantly in August 2004 when businessman Tomas Delgado's Audi A8 crashed into him at 100 mph near Haro in northern Spain, an Interior Ministry traffic report said. The speed limit was 55 mph.

Iriondo was not wearing reflective clothing or a helmet, the ministry report said. As the sun had set when he crossed the path of Delgado's car from a side road, a regional court found both parties at fault and closed the case, the report said.

Delgado, whose insurance company paid Iriondo's parents $48,500 in compensation for their son's life, filed a suit in late 2006 to recover $29,400 in damages to his car and car rental costs, the ministry traffic report said.

"It's the only way I have to claim my money back," Delgado was quoted as saying by the newspaper El Pais, which first reported the story on Friday. El Pais said a ruling was expected next week.

Iriondo's parents were shocked.

"It's the final straw, a stab in the back," Iriondo's mother, Rosa Trinidad said, according to El Pais. "Before the lawsuit we thought the poor guy would find it hard to live the rest of his life with the thought of having caused our son's death.

Sorry Mrs Trinidad, apparently the only thing this guy had trouble living with was being out his deductible. This dick's punishment is a no-brainer. Hook him up to his fancy-ass Audi and drag him the 347 feet he dragged the cyclist. He won't, of course, be instantly killed by an impact prior, so he'll really be able to consider what a dick he is as he makes his way down the road.

And yes, I feel compelled to use that horrendous news artwork—even though it's totally cheesy, it's the wrong kind of Audi and the cyclist is wearing a helmet...

NOTE: After a tremendous public outcry in Spain, he dropped the suit today (see Smitty's link). Still a dick. Reduce his dragging to 150 feet.

EDWARDS TO WITHDRAW


No gloating here. I like John Edwards. I like him a lot. If not for Obama, he would be my clear choice for President. I feel very bad for him—I believe him when he says how personal this is for him, and and Mrs F likes to remind me, it is his and his wife's life goal—which is tragically also her dying wish.

It is fitting that this announcement will come in New Orleans where he was scheduled for another speech on poverty.

Thank you, John Edwards for being in this race, and doing everything you've done.

As for the fallout from this, I'm sure there will be barrels of pixels spilled on that today. Of course, I hope he throws his support (and supporters) behind Obama, but I won't be surprised if he holds off a bit on that.

UPDATE: His campaign was talking defiantly about their delegate strategy and many thought he would remian in the race as long as financially feasible. This is definitley turning on a dime, and I can only hope this is a decision of pragmatism and one he is comfortable with, and not because of anything to do with Elizabeth's health.

Hopefully all the Obama and Clinton supporters give the Edwardses and their supporters some space and show some class.

Direct all gloating and schadenfreude to Rudy Guiliani.

UPDATE 2: Statement from Obama:
John Edwards has spent a lifetime fighting to give voice to the voiceless and hope to the struggling, even when it wasn’t popular to do or covered in the news. At a time when our politics is too focused on who’s up and who’s down, he made a nation focus again on who matters – the New Orleans child without a home, the West Virginia miner without a job, the families who live in that other America that is not seen or heard or talked about by our leaders in Washington. John and Elizabeth Edwards have always believed deeply that we can change this – that two Americas can become one, and that our country can rally around this common purpose. So while his campaign may end today, the cause of their lives endures for all of us who still believe that we can achieve that dream of one America.

Also, the word is that this has nothing to do with Elizabeth Edwards' health.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Return the Favor

Gov. Bill Richardson is set to make an endorsement of Obama or Clinton this week (if he makes one). He owes Obama for this...
...he likes Obama, telling a story about how Obama saved him during one of last year's Democratic debates:

"I had just been asked a question -- I don't remember which one -- and Obama was sitting right next to me. Then the moderator went across the room, I think to Chris Dodd, so I thought I was home free for a while. I wasn't going to listen to the next question. I was about to say something to Obama when the moderator turned to me and said, 'So, Gov. Richardson, what do you think of that?' But I wasn't paying any attention! I was about to say, 'Could you repeat the question? I wasn't listening.' But I wasn't about to say I wasn't listening. I looked at Obama. I was just horrified. And Obama whispered, 'Katrina. Katrina.' The question was on Katrina! So I said, 'On Katrina, my policy...' Obama could have just thrown me under the bus. So I said, 'Obama, that was good of you to do that.'"

Of course, the Clintons actually gave him a job once upon a time, but I suspect he is leaning toward Obama. That would be a nice "get" as the campaign heads to the Southwest for Super Tuesday.

Monday, January 28, 2008

SOTU Live (rebroadcast) Blogging



C-SPAN is re-airing the State of the Union Address, so I'm going to turn it on and have it as background while I finish off some freelance. I will add my thoughts as it goes along. The television is behind me, so I will be primarily reacting to the stupid things that come out of his mouth, rather than the stupid expressions on Bush's face...

02:00 Is there anything more contrived than this ridiculous walk down the aisle? Like Bush is Bono walking up to a concert stage? Are members of Congress really that excited to see the President? Is he really a celebrity to them? Now at the rostrum, Bush is really working the wink...

00:07 "...our charge to keep." Ha, ha...just like the painting, right?

00:08 Just realized...no "the state of the union is ————" I guess he doesn't want to go there, as the state of the union is "swirling in the bowl."

00:09 "...wages are up..." Um, they are? Not sure that's accurate.

00:11 Blah, blah, make horrendous tax cuts permanent...BONUS! Veto threat!

00:12 I'm cutting programs and setting a course to have a surplus by 2012. You know, by the end of the next President's term. Thanks, dick.

00:13 More fun with the veto threat... Blames Congress for everything, claims earmarks are out of control. In the first year of Dems in charge, earmarks WERE halved (Bush is lying) and all are "fully described and its sponsor identified" no sponsors can benefit, and any private entity that does must be disclosed. [link]

00:16 Crap about healthcare... tax relief for self-insured (don't we already have that if you itemize?)... small business associations plans (existed for years)... health savings accounts (because Americans have TONS of money to set aside in "use it or lose it" accounts)... "...ensure that decisions about your medical remain in your doctor's office, not in the halls of Congress..." Unless you are talking to your doctor about an abortion or life support. Or stem cells. Or medical marijuana...

00:19 A new name for private school vouchers.

00:22 Calls for an international agreement on greenhouse gases. Um, like Kyoto? Why didn't anyone else think of that?

00:25 My TiVo is giving me shit. I can pause, but not rewind...

Also, I'm not getting ANY work done!

00:27 Talks up the promise of stem cell research, then hampers that by declaring "all life be treated with the dignity it deserves." Which, for stem cells, is none.

Not bothering with human-animal hybrids this year I guess.

00:28 Something about Katrina. Did I just miss my Chertoff clap?

00:30 Immigration...(yawn)

00:31 Foreign policy time. Again with the inked fingers...

00:33 SEPTEMBER 11 REFERENCE!!!

00:37 Iraq, Iraq, Iraq. Throw a bone to the troops. Standing O.

"The surge has given results few of us could have imagined" Actually, I imagined "none of significance" and I was pretty much right.

Oh, wait! "al Qaeda is on the run!" My mistake.

00:48 Apparently the only thing holding Israel and Palestine back all these decades is the attention of retarded chimpanzee. Problem solved by the end of the year. With ponies for one and all.

00:50 Terrerists still want to kill you all. All this Homeland Security and no Chertoff shots? I need warrantless wiretapping by Friday

00:52 Genocide is bad. Thanks for pointing that out.

A few minutes left, I gotta get some shit done.

UPDATE: Obama's response:



Hillary didn't do a video (that I saw). Text is here.

Edwards releases an even shorter statement.

TiVo Alert!

Tonite is President Lame Duck's final State of the Union Address. No, I don't actually suggest recording, or even watching it. But I will savor it. And I'm sure tomorrow, I will make fun of it...



The Democratic response comes from Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (who incidentally, will be endorsing Obama tomorrow). She should save her breath. As soon as Bush finishes his tired act, the Dems should just have somebody ready at all 300 viewers' front doors and hand them a printout of this

UPDATE: Oh! And don't forget to watch for Michael Chertoff's Swedish Chef impersonation. You'll know it when you see it.

Toni Takes it Back

Forget Ted Kennedy, and all the other high-power endorsements of Obama...author Toni Morrison is set to endorse Barack Obama today. Perhaps she took a look at the behavior of the man she called "the first black President" last week and decided to bestow that title on a guy who might actually achieve all parts of that description...leaving Bill Clinton, what? The "first Uncle Tom President?"
[link] ABC News' Rick Klein Reports: Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison -- who famously declared Bill Clinton to be the nation's "first black president" -- is endorsing Barack Obama for president today, an Obama campaign source tells ABC News.

This comes as Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., also announces his support for Obama on Monday, at a rally in Washington.

In an October 1998 essay in The New Yorker, Morrison wrote: "Years ago, in the middle of the Whitewater investigation, one heard the first murmurs: white skin notwithstanding, this is our first black president. Blacker than any actual person who could ever be elected in our children's lifetime."

It is interesting to note the full context of Morrison's original quote. IT's NOT the throwaway platitude that's been suggested. It's part of a complex analysis that is as much about Clinton's weaknesses, mistakes and, while it lasted, downfall. Read for yourself

UPDATE: Morrison's letter can be read here.
...this is one of those singular moments that nations ignore at their peril. I will not rehearse the multiple crises facing us, but of one thing I am certain: this opportunity for a national evolution (even revolution) will not come again soon, and I am convinced you are the person to capture it.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Senior Discount

More to consider, inside the numbers...

[Digby]: Obama, for instance, once again did extremely well among young people of all races, which it seems to me is much more salient than the media have yet to acknowledge. If he keeps this up, we will see an entire generation making its home in the Democratic Party and that is a tremendous advantage.

He didn't just do "extremely well." He romped. Obama even got more than half of the young white vote in a three-person race. Building the party and indoctrinating the next generation into the Democratic Party is something only Obama is going to do. Last night's numbers really bear this out. He's been winning among young and first-time voters all along, but he killed there last night. Among te different age groups, Hillary only beat him among retirees (65+).

The past versus the future indeed.

UPDATE: At this point, I'm ready to start crediting Obama's candidacy for the overwhelming Democratic turnouts. I realize Dems are motivated to oust Bush—but that was going to happen no matter what. I'm not sure that's reason enough to explain what's hapenning. I truly suspect, that if this was a race of the same old guys (like, say 2004?) the numbers would not be there.

A Turn of the Tide?

Barack Obama won the primary in South Carolina Saturday, and did it in overwhelming, ass-kicking, resounding, empty-the-bench-for-garbage-time fashion. Obama doubled up Hillary 55 to 27 percent, with John Edwards finishing a distant third. Edwards is now effectively out of the running—this was his last stand. He will fight on, but he will have to rethink his strategy and goals, and after the last-minute robo-calls against him from Clinton, trust that he won't be coming to her defense in January 31's debate. His decision now is when it makes sense to pass his support over to Obama.

The Clintons pulled out all the stops and this result might demonstrate a backlash against their tactics. One of two things will happen as a result: They we redouble their efforts and get even nastier because they are more desperate, OR Bill Clinton will find himself campaigning in Alaska—or wherever the cameras ain't.

Is suspect the Clinton camp was ready to spin a narrow loss as a result of heavy black turnout in Obama's favor—which happened—but he beat them 8 to 1 among those voters. and he pounded the competition the younger the voters got...
For all the recent speculation about race and gender, here’s a tip about the real divide: age.

Among voters 18-24, Obama beat Clinton, 66% to 25% (a 41-point gap).
Among voters 25-29, Obama beat Clinton, 70% to 21% (a 49-point gap).
Among voters 30-39, Obama beat Clinton, 62% to 23% (a 39-point gap).
Among voters 40-49, Obama beat Clinton, 61% to 25% (a 36-point gap).
Among voters 50-64, Obama beat Clinton, 51% to 26% (a 25-point gap).


Oh, what about the race and gender?
* 61% of the voters were women, and Obama beat Clinton among women 53% to 30%.

* Obama did extremely well among African-American voters, but he also easily defeated his rivals among non-blacks under the age of 30 — 52% for Obama, 28% for Clinton, 20% for Edwards.


In heavily Republican South Carolina, Barack Obama alone drew more votes than the top two Republicans (McCain and Huckabee) combined.

Looking more and more like a viable candidate with a 50-state strategy available to him—something no other candidate can claim.

UPDATE: Go review these numbers at CNN. The only category Hillary won was whites over 65. You know, the old guard. Edwards won whites between 30 and 64, but Obama beat both of 'em combined among whites 29 and under. Are young Southerners turning the page on race?

Here's the victory speech.


This might really happen.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Eli Makes the Baby Adolf Cry

Brilliant.



Yep, Hitler was Cowboys fan. Yankees and Lakers, too. And, of course, Duke basketball.

[h/t Rickey]

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Angry Black Man?

Over the last few weeks there've been videos of Mitt Romney, Bill Clinton and others "losing their cool" in public, with the press or out on the stump. Tuesday, ABC News tries to fit Barack Obama into the same category. He's "losing it" because the Clintons are in his head. Or something.

Here's Obama—while shaking hands, greeting supporters and signing autographs—responding to this insightful, thought-provoking, issue-oriented campaign coverage: "Are you allowing President Clinton to get in your head?"



[NOTE: TPM squeezed that to fit under a minute. ABC's video starts slightly earlier, is higher quality and uninterrupted—but I can't embed it.]

Now read how ABC portrays the event [added emphasis mine]:
Is Bill Clinton Getting in Obama's Head?
ABC News' Sunlen Miller Reports: It should have been an easy question for Sen. Barack Obama: “Are you allowing President Clinton to get in your head?”

Yet, it took Obama three tries to answer the question, in what turned into a testy exchange with the New York Times' Jeff Zeleny following a campaign event in Greenwood, South Carolina.

"I am trying to make sure that his statements by him are answered. Don't you think that's important?" Obama shot back, while walking away.

When Zeleny yelled a follow up question suggesting the Illinois senator had not answered the question, Obama fired back angrily, "Don't try cheap stunts like that."

Obama then walked away and shook hands with the mass of voters that surrounded him.

A few minutes later, Obama came back and confronted Zeleny again.

"I will answer your question though off the record, would you like to talk off the record?" Obama asked. Zeleny refused to go off the record and then motioned toward the gaggle of TV cameras gathered around him.

Obama then returned to his supporters and began shaking more hands before returning a third time to the group of reporters.

"My suspicion is that the other side must be rattled if they’re continuing saying false things about us," Obama finally responded, ignoring follow up questions as he left the room.

Maybe this ABC jackass-reporter ought to pepper me with inane questions to find out what "testy" tastes like...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Mr Furious Heartily Endorses…

God knows I've got a backlog of Obama v. Clinton shit to dish, but I don't have time at the moment, and I think I need to mix things up a bit here anyway. Let's "put aside our differences" and "reach out and agree" about what I tell you kicks ass...

'INTO THE WILD' SOUNDTRACK
I gotta stick this in here as well. Very solid album from Eddie Vedder. There are a couple songs from this on the radio that are very good, "Guaranteed" and "Hard Sun," but this is a solid (if abbreviated) solo debut from Vedder start to finish. I haven't seen the film yet, but listening to this album makes me all the more anxious for the video release.

MATTHEW SWEET's "GIRLFRIEND"
Don't know why I picked this album out of hundreds the other day, but boy, what a fantastic flashback. Phenomenal album. Power pop/songwriting at its very best. Sweet put it all together for this breakout (relatively speaking) effort, and never quite repeated the success or quality of "Girlfriend." He had his best studio band working here, featuring the stellar guitar work by Television's Richard Lloyd. there are videos on YouTube, but here is a sample of one of the standout tracks, "Evangeline." (follow the link and click the album art to start the player)


THE SINATRA GROUP
The Greatest SNL Skit Ever. Bar None. "Am I right, Steve and Eydie?" Swing!.

BOB CESCA
Found him at Blondesense, checked out Bob Cesca's Goddamn Awesome Blog! Go! (yes, that actually what it's called) and discovered he writes good stuff at The Huffington Post too.

PAIN AU CHOCOLAT
Trader Joe's is a cool store. Not great for everything, but one thing they excel at is prepared frozen stuff. And nothing is better than Trader Joe's Chocolate Croissants. They are so freaking delicious it is unbelievable. And not too horrendous for you (as compared to, say, a Pillsbury Grand cinnamon roll). Go to TJs now and buy them. You have to put them out to rise the night before, but the next a.m. you throw them in the oven while you make your coffee, and in 20 minutes be ready for the finest baked product your oven has ever given you.

SHRINK WRAP
Yeah, the stuff on you food is nice, but I'm talking about windows. We are freezing our asses off in a ninety-year-old house with old double-hung windows. Supposedly adding up all the cracks and seams on just one of those windows is the equivalent of a six-inch hole in the wall. No fucking kidding. But if you put this stuff on you windows, it makes a dramatic difference. You can tell when you get ready to secure the last corner and all the leaking air is concentrated to that one spot and it feels like goddamn fan. I've been doing this for years in my old apartments in NY and it has been a godsend in our house. Do a good job, and you can't even tell it's there. I prefer the ACE brand over 3M. Cheaper, and the tape is easier to work with.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Times They Have a-Changed, Hillary

Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. ... It took a president to get it done.
-- Hillary Clinton, Jan. 7, 2008


What follows here perfectly sums up one of my overall problems with Hillary (and her establishment), and nails the reason why he MLK comments generated so much animosity...
The analogy Clinton was implying was obvious: I'm Lyndon Johnson, unlovely doer; he's Martin Luther King, charismatic dreamer. Vote for me if you want results.

Forty years ago, that arrangement -- white president enacting African-American dreams -- was necessary because discrimination denied blacks their own autonomous political options. Today, that arrangement -- white liberals acting as tribune for blacks in return for their political loyalty -- is a demeaning anachronism. That's what the fury at Hillary was all about, although no one was willing to say so explicitly.

The King-Johnson analogy is dead because the times are radically different. Today an African-American can be in a position to wield the emancipation pen -- and everything else that goes along with the presidency ...Why should African-American dreams still have to go through white liberals?

Times must have indeed a-changed, because that is the first (and probably last) time Charles Krauthammer and I will agree. He's right, and dare I say, the whole column is worth reading.

What Hillary said pissed people off, because on it's face, it's a slight to MLK, and belittles his own role in his accomplishments, but Krauthammer does the best job of exposing the underpinnings of Hillary's flawed perspective (the psychiatrist finally makes an effective diagnosis).

The Democratic Party has long been the defender and advocate for the down-trodden, and for good reason. The Clintons, especially Bill, have traded on that legacy so effectively that he was literally called the "first black President" (news to Obama, I'm sure). The same is true for gays, and as a more recent battleground, more accurately demonstrates what I (and Krauthammer) am talking about...

Because the Republicans are so clearly the party of white, straight people—even better if they're rich—minorities never have an alternative to the Democrats. So, the Democrats take their support and votes for granted. Much like the GOP and the religious base—they pander to them during election time, and then fail to deliver when in office. For the GOP, they never actually give the evangelicals the pro-life carrot...And the Democrats via Clinton? He rewarded the support of GLBT voters with the Defense of Marriage Act and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." (NOTE: This gets to the whole Obama/Reagan thing. More on that later.)

Hillary may actually a better-prepared "experience" candidate than Obama by some definitions, and she (and Edwards) surely have to walk a fine line when opposing a transformational candidate like Obama—nobody wants to LOOK LIKE they are getting in the way of a historic moment.* I'm not saying people should step aside for Obama—run your race and make your case, but if you're going to stand in Obama's way you better make damn sure you never use "you're not quite ready to handle this by yourselves yet" as a reason.

It's why it appears voters of color are abandoning the Clintons for Obama, not just because "Holy Shit!" they can vote for a black President, but because Hillary and her fake-black husband want to hold on to them, "Wait! Are you sure about this guy? You're rolling the dice here...you know us!"

It's fucking condescending. They are too wrapped up in their own roles as benefactors. The fact that the framework where this is occurring, race, is incidental and only applies to this gaffe. It's a larger problem than that...which leads back to this...

I said at the top that this was one of my "overall problems" with Hillary. Not the "race" part, or any specific instance as much as the fact that everything is all about her. And that somehow she has to do it. None of the other candidates can do it, and the country can't do it without her. Doesn't matter what "it" is. That's not leading, it's taking over. And it won't work, especially for her.

--

I'm not questioning the beliefs of Bill and Hillary Clinton regarding social issues. Really, I'm not. But I question the commitment. In Bill Clinton's Presidency, I think he was all too ready to triangulate and abandon those beliefs and commitments. This campaign has revealed in no uncertain terms that power, and regaining the White House, is a by-any-means-necessary proposition. And why, if they win, retaining that power will always trump even their own beliefs.

UPDATE: Slight edits/additions. Also, there have been a few other things I've read on this, I hope to find those links.

WaPo on why the old-school civil rights leaders are lukewarm on Obama. It's similar to the Clintons problem—he's not beholden to them, and he represents, if not their obsolescence, but the passing of a torch they need to hang on to.

*Yes, I realize a woman President is also historic, but because Hillary is who she is (the very embodiment of establishment power), it frankly loses a bit of luster up against Obama. Plus, she wields that power and status so brutally it's unbecoming of a transformational candidate.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Committed to Uncommitted

Today is Primary Day in Michigan. Some last minute scrambling yesterday on a local Obama email list netted me an official "Obama'08" yard sign, and I stayed up late making my own custom sign to remind voters what to do at their polling place...


I'm pleased with the results. My house is on a busy street a block from the high school, so it's pretty prime placement.

I'm off to vote at lunch, I'll report back later... If "Uncommitted" beats Hillary, I will do a fucking jig.

UPDATE: Voted at lunch. Fastest polling time ever. No line at all, had to fill out the request for the party ballot and then one circle to color in on the ballot, that's it. They said turnout has been good for a primary day, but they expect a much busier evening. The snow messed things up in the morning.

I'm glad I did my sign. Hopefully it informs some people as they approach the school, since there were no signs or explanations anywhere to be seen about the "Uncommitted" issue, and the ballot wording is confusing on the "write-in" section. I have no doubt that many, many Obama and Edwards votes will be wasted in that spot, which is too bad, as Hillary is the benificiary of that.

Interesting note: this area beyond the restricted boundary is usually a two-foot tall forest of cardboard and wire, today there was but one sad and lonely sign...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

"I'll take Mitt to block..." Never Mind!

IMPORTANT UPDATE! Per Smitty (who I trust implicitly about state-level politics) points out that while this might be a wrench in the works nationally, if Romney ends up somehow getting the nomination, there will be serious blowback here in Michigan. Romney is obviously well-connected into the GOP machine here, and if he heads up the national ticket, it will motivate the state GOP and their voters. Democrats only control one chamber of Michigan's legislature right now—narrowly, and only since the last election. Smitty's worried this will flip the House back and build on the GOP's Senate lead. It's definitely a risk not worth taking. So, back to the somewhat less-satisfying "uncommitted" to block Hillary...

UPDATE 2: Took this back over to Daily Kos. It's crazy how fast shit moves over there...

UPDATE 3: Kos is being a prick. He's got a fourth front-page post on this, and hasn't addressed anybody's concerns. It's now getting play in the MSM, and taking off online. I'm with Smitty on this being a bad idea for Michigan, but I just think it's a mistake to throw the most well-financed Republican anything but an anchor when he's drowning...this has blowback written all over it.

---

[Original post]:

An interesting strategy for Michigan voters via Kos...
Next Tuesday, January 15th, Michigan will hold its primary. Michigan Democrats should vote for Mitt Romney, because if Mitt wins, Democrats win. How so?

For Michigan Democrats, the Democratic primary is meaningless since the DNC stripped the state of all its delegates (at least temporarily) for violating party rules. Hillary Clinton is alone on the ballot.

But on the GOP side, this primary will be fiercely contested. John McCain is currently enjoying the afterglow of media love since his New Hamsphire victory, while Iowa winner Mike Huckabee is poised to do well in South Carolina.

Meanwhile, poor Mitt Romney, who’s suffered back-to-back losses in the last week, desperately needs to win Michigan in order to keep his campaign afloat. Bottom line, if Romney loses Michigan, he's out. If he wins, he stays in.

And we want Romney in, because the more Republican candidates we have fighting it out, trashing each other with negative ads and spending tons of money, the better it is for us. We want Mitt to stay in the race, and to do that, we need him to win in Michigan.

I'm intrigued. I fully intended to vote "uncommited" on Tuesday, and urge others to do the same, but this might actually be a more valuable/useful way to use my vote. Thoughts? Especially you, Smitty...

In theory hurting McCain is a good thing, as I feel he is the GOP's strongest candidate, but who the hell knows? This could backfire...but without looking at it as helping or hurting particular guys, I agree with Kos' assessment that keeping the field open on the other side is to our beneft, no matter who emerges.

I'll Pour It, Hillary Can Serve It…


Jesse Jackson, Jr. national Obama Campaign co-chair earns himself a Big Gulp with this shit:
In an appearance today on MSNBC, Jackson said that Clinton's "tears" -- none actually fell from her eyes -- are something that "we're still analyzing within the Barack Obama campaign." "Those tears also have to be analyzed," Jackson said. "They have to be looked at very, very carefully in light of Katrina, in light of other things that Mrs. Clinton did not cry for, particularly as we head to South Carolina where 45 percent of African-Americans will participate in the Democratic contest, and they see real hope in Barack Obama."

[...] Asked whether he was suggesting that Clinton's "tears" were "staged," Jackson said he wouldn't go that far -- but then suggested that there are things in the world worth crying over, and that whatever got Clinton going wasn't one of them.

Hey, Jesse, I don't recall crying about Katrina, but I cried like a goddamn baby at the end of "Children of Men." Got a problem? Funny thing about emotions, you can't always control them. Kinda like now—I can't help but to call you an asshole.

Put a fucking leash on this guy, Obama, or cut his ass loose.

UPDATE: Video...

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

What he said...

Publius over at Obsidian Wings captures perfectly many of my own objections to Hillary, and why they are not, in most cases, about her...but what surrounds her. [my emphasis added to the passages that particularly strike a chord]:
When the primary fumes pass, we’ll all come around to Clinton, especially compared to the GOP monstrosities. But with Clinton, my perception is that none of this inspired future is possible. Hers will be a competent, moderate, K Street-friendly administration. But I want more – and I think the nation could get more. Thus, my frustration with Clinton’s victory probably has less to do with her personally, than with the fact that I see a very different sort of future slipping away if she wins...

First, and most fundamentally, I think her actions on the national security front disqualify her. The Dems should not reward radio silence on Iraq, torture, etc. during the years it mattered with a presidential nomination. Period. [...] If you make an insincere political gamble, you have to pay that bill if you lose.

Second, and relatedly, I have fears about her national security judgment going forward. Specifically, I fear that she’s so afraid of looking liberal that she either won’t attempt bold change (e.g., Cuba, Israel/Palestine), or will be bullied into doing something foolish (Iran). Her past positions are strong evidence of what she’ll do in the future – see, e.g., Kyl-Lieberman – and it’s not good.

Third, on domestic policy, I think she’s got all the right stuff – she’s brilliant and has great policy proposals. But the fear is that those proposals will just collect dust in the White House policy shop. I’ve seen nothing since 1994 that indicates the slightest willingness to take political risk for something she believes in. She’s too cautious and scared (just like Kerry). Turning back to Obama briefly, I’m more convinced that he’ll at least try to aim high. I also believe that an Obama victory would create more favorable underlying social and political conditions for real progressive change.

Fourth, I detest her administration-in-waiting. [...] I’m not really talking about the Secretary of State, but the next tier down – i.e., the players who will run the executive branch on the micro-DC level. [...] DC is full of exiled Clintonites. They’ve been biding their time in DC law firms and consulting shops getting wealthy. If Clinton wins, they’ll simply move their offices across town and re-assume control of the government’s purse. They’ve had a full decade to become more entwined with K Street interests...

I couldn't say it better myself, so I'm happy to just lift it. I'll add that I do NOT think she will be freed from the cautiousness she's exhibited as a Senator once she reaches the White House. I think everything she's done for the last ten years has been in preparation for becoming President, and the Clintons are surrounded by legions of people equally invested. None of that will change in Janary 2009 because she finally is President. They/she will still need to win a second term.

Yes, to a degree that is true of all the candidates, but she embodies it and embraces it. Seeing Terry Mcaulliffe's face again this weekend for the first time since Howard Dean replaced him as DNC chair was like stepping in dog shit. That guy should have been tied to a tree and left for the wolves, but he'd be appointed Chief of Staff in a Clinton Administration. It's the scum that will float back in in Hillary's wake that has long been one of the biggest reasons I thought she must be stopped (aside from her electability challenges). My excitement for the possibility of Obama is more recent, but Hillary's key flaws have been around for years, and she shows NO sign of recognizing them, never mind correcting them.

Anybody is an Improvement.*

Just bask in the glow of our current brain-dead President's EEG and remember that everyone running—on either side—at least has the capability of speaking at an adult level.



Or, conversely, assume the fetal position and weep quietly while recalling that this fucking moron was elected, not once, but twice.

*No, actually, Rudy Guiliani is NOT an improvement, but at least he can construct a sentence. He just uses "9/11" in place of punctuation.

Jimmy Carter's Having None of It

Fucking hilarious. Mr Furious prostrates himself before Jimmy Carter and his superior skill in the art of expletives.

Off the Map

This seems like a good source to keep track of results and info on the primaries. A nice rollover map that breaks everything down by state and candidate.

I'm a bit confused on the totals for delegates (pledged v. unpledged, etc) Obama leads by only one "pledged" delegate over Hillary (they both recieved 9 in the close N.H. finish, and Obama had 16 to HRC's 15 in Iowa. Somehow coming in second only netted Edwards 14.)

The graph that includes "unpledged" delegates, who are seemingly not bound by results (!), show Hillary with a wide lead. That's not good. And not encouraging in terms of actual democracy...

Rolling your mouse over the map shows just how important February 5 will be. It also reminds me just how fucking stupid the politicians and party flacks in Michigan are— Primary date: January 15. Delegates: 0.

Great job, you stupid jackasses. Trying to make us important has rendered us irrelevant, and the ONLY Democrat who is campaigning here is Kucinich. he struggling economy thanks you for the loss of revenue as well.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Desperate

Alright, this post has been in the chute for a few days, and I've been unable to finish it off. It is now 10:30 on primary night, and Hillary is leading the N.H. results with like two-thirds of the precincts reporting. Supposedly the college towns have not reported, so Obama has a chance, but either way, it will be close, which is all Hillary needed. The press and polls had been predicting a blowout, so I'll be curious to see how they treat Obama now—is this a failure for him, and they all jump off the bandwagon? We'll know tomorrow...

Back to what I had planned, which is pretty much a reaction to the way the Clinton team and Hillary herself responded to getting their ass kicked in Iowa...the gloves are off and the Clinton Machine™ is set to "Dirty Politics."


Hillary keeps telling us how she can handle the Republicans better than Obama and the others...well, she ought to know, she's staying up late studying their playbook...

HuffPolitics the day after Iowa:
Obama faces the prospect of severe and hostile vetting from his primary opponents, however. Upon her arrival in New Hampshire this morning, Hillary Clinton signaled that she intends to play on Obama's as yet unexploited political weaknesses: "Who will be able to stand up to the Republican attack machine?" she asked at an appearance in Nashua.

Hillary's aides point to Obama's extremely progressive record as a community organizer, state senator and candidate for Congress, his alliances with "left-wing" intellectuals in Chicago's Hyde Park community, and his liberal voting record on criminal defendants' rights as subjects for examination.

Are you fucking kidding me? They are going after Obama for being too "progressive, left-wing and intellectual"...they better be done complaining about "right-wing memes."

[...] ABC reported that Clinton aides gave the network various examples, of Obama's controversial stands. The aides cited Obama's past assertion that he would support ending mandatory minimum sentences for federal crimes, pointing to a 2004 statement at an NAACP-sponsored debate: "Mandatory minimums take too much discretion away from judges."

Fuck. Her. Mandatory minimums are a goddamned blight on this country, and she is the Senator from the state with some of the most draconian drug-sentencing laws in the country. She knows better—this is a pure fear pander, and though the fact that Obama is black is merely incidental, this crap is designed to play on people's racism as well.

Clinton is going after Obama for straight-up run-of-the-mill Democratic positions as far as I'm concerned. If this reflects her positions, than the party is either worse off than I thought, or she's running in the wrong primary. This is beyond "going negative," this is going scorched earth, and she is attacking progressivism and liberalsm as much as her opponent. I'll be getting back to that "defendant's rights" part later...


Don't worry, she took time to get personal as well. [link]:
Inside a frigid airplane hangar in Nashua, N.H., Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., tried to reframe the choice before New Hampshire voters, asking them if they wanted "an untested man who offers false hope or a woman who's electable."

Clinton said, "Of all the people running for president, I've been the most vetted, the most investigated and — my goodness — the most innocent, it turns out."

Oh my...could she be referring to this? I don't know what else it could be. Then her staff busted out the gender card.
...Clinton advisers suggested that part of the reason for her showing at the polls in Iowa might have been Iowa's reluctance to support female candidates. They also pointed out that a victory in Iowa does not guarantee success on the path to the White House. There is, after all, no President Richard Gephardt.


They also threw Bill Richardson under the bus for the poor Iowa finish...

And the Big Dog is lying his ass off and making weak excuses here. Every time the Clintons try to claim Obama has "waffled" in his opposition to the war—and they will do it often—remember it's total bullshit.

--

That was the reaction/adjustment after one loss, what will they stoop to if she loses N.H. as well? Or, perhaps worse, if she wins, does this vindicate the strategy?

Banana in the Tailpipe

Over the last week Apple updated Safari, and Blogger made me roll the blog over from Beta to "New Blogger". Now my browser crashes constantly from the dashboard—I don't know which to blame! Happening to anyone else? Serious PITA. If this keeps up, I might take the whole thing over to WordPress...

UPDATE: Using FireFox I was able to complete my big Hillary post...no crashes. Seems like it is Safari. FireFox seems fine, it easily imported all my stuff from Sfari, but it is just slightly less attractive. Feels/looks a bit too PC-ish.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Is This The Best They've Got?

I've seen a lot of people referencing Obama's use of "right wing memes" to attack or contrast other Democratic candidates. I've been unable to pay round-the-clock attention to anything this year with my freelance work, a baby, etc.—so if things get crazy, I might miss a week or two of blogging and fall behind, or miss, these stories when they're all the rage...

One of my go-to bloggers/buddies, Toast, has been pushing this hard, so I thought I should figure out what he's talking about. I know Krugman's taken some shots at Obama lately—one was Obama's use of the word "crisis" in reference to Social Security. If we are to believe the Dem talking points, and the analysis of guys like Krugman (and I do)—then there is no "crisis," and Obama is wrong to use that word. But I hardly find that to be a major offense. And Obama has backed off on that language. Good. It's not accurate, and it's not helpful.

The invaluable Steve Benen (the Tim Higgins of lefty blogging*) rounded up the six major charges against Obama and analyzes them here. He amusingly rates them in units of "Liebermans."

Like Benen, I don't find many of these compelling enough reasons to reject Obama. I find them somewhat understandable and acceptable considering the fact that he is running to the middle. And let me be clear—"running to the middle" is something I have been harshly critical of in the past. The difference here is this: I actually think Obama can do it, and win with with it. And, most importantly, I trust that he won't actually govern to the middle.

I'd rather my candidate be a bit of a Trojan Horse, sell himself as more moderate, and then perform more progressively in office with a broader mandate, than sell themselves as more progressive than they really are, or intend to be, and then piss me off by selling out and governing as a corporate centrist. Who do we know like that? Hillary, Reid, Pelosi, and countless other Dems...

We "smart" libs like to laugh at the bible-thumping chumps who get rolled by the Roves and Bushes and support the GOP, falling for the promises that never come... Well, after the rhetoric I heard in 2006 from Dems, who were then handed power in Congress only to bend over ever more quickly for Bush, I, for one, am not laughing any more.

I think the problem people in the Left(ish) Blogosphere are having with Obama stems from one of a couple things:

1.) They are Edwards fans, and Obama is standing in their guy's way. I can understand that. Edwards is the more pure, appeal to the base, fired-up, revenge candidate. As voters, talk of "reaching across the aisle" triggers a gag reflex. Fair enough.

2.) They start out disliking Obama for some reason. This is likely tied back to number one, or has to do with Obama's religiousity (I think this is particularly true for Toast—feel free to respond). I actually think he's been pleasantly and surprisingly low-key on that stuff lately. But let me explain why I will NOT hold that stuff against Obama even though it would grate severely on me from anyone else. Barack Hussein Obama has to catapult the bullshit rumors that he is a dirty Moslem. Therefore, I give him a pass every time he invokes God or reminds people he's a Christian for just that reason. I'd prefer my politicians keep religion off the table, but when you have to counter constant whisper campaigns, I'll allow it.

* reference for serious, old-school college hoops fans only.

UPDATE: Since she got her ass handed to her in Iowa, I am finding Hillary's attacks on Obama much more objectionable than any of the stuff just discussed. More on that, and the NH debate to come later. Maybe.

UPDATE 2: A nice piece on the transformative potential of Obama from a contributor at Kos.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Post-Caucus

Well, the finish went down as I'd hoped which is good, I suppose, but I still think the process sucks. The media is going to have a fucking field day with Hillary's third place finish, and will anoint Obama "the man to beat." Even though Edwards came in second, he'll get lost in the shuffle and be treated as an afterthought. Because this whole Iowa system is so fucking arcane and unpredictable, the top three could have come in any order and I wouldn't have been surprised, and anybody who tells you different is a liar.

Twice as many Democrats caucused as in 2004. That's great. If the party and voters are that motivated it is good news for the general election no matter who the nominee is. As for tonight specifically, Obama should get credit for actually delivering the new voters and the young voters—every cycle people speculate about the mythical "youth vote", and somebody is always relying on them (last time it was Dean) and they always fail to show up in the end. Not this time. If Obama (or whoever is the nominee) can keep turning those voters out, it's good news for this fall, and better news for the future of the Democratic Party.

Before you stop to remind me how pissed off I am at the Democratic Party, I'm not all "everything's fine, honey..." I am cautiously optimistic, because whether it's Edwards or Obama—combined with an injection of new supporters—it means new(er) blood and pushes the old guard further out of control. Bring that shit on, and I am back in. Hillary becoming the nominee is my worst nightmare—I think she'd be a fine President, but she would be renewing the lease on the old party I want blown up.

Dodd and Biden have now bailed out of the race. It's too bad about Dodd, as in many ways he was truly the best, ballsiest candidate running. But, if he can go back to the Senate and push Harry Reid aside and kick some ass Constitution-style, that will be fantastic. Biden was always running for Veep or SoS as far as I was concerned... whatever. I think he'd make for an entertaining VP debate though....

I don't even know what to think about the GOP side. Huckabee ran away with Iowa, and that should scare the shit out of rational people, but it might be the best strategic result for the Democrats. Huckabee stands the best chance of splitting the Party and dooming them. McCain is the guy who still scares me in the general election.

-------

MORE:

Kos has the total numbers and the GOP got its ass kicked...
Total Voter Turnout (approximate): 356,000

Percentage of total vote
24.5% Obama
20.5% Edwards
19.8% Clinton
11.4% Huckabee (R)

Ouch.

• Media Matters is really swinging blindly with this stupid crap. I, frankly, don't see a problem with what Matthews said either time, and don't consider it hypocritical. And if they can't see the difference between Matthew's post-caucus excitement and Bob Kerrey's pre-caucus slime-job, the should shutter their site.

• I found this analysis of Obama's strategy to be excellent. First, Matt Yglesias:
John Judis and Ruy Teixeira take a look at the demographic and ideological characteristics of self-described independents and their potential role in the presidential election. It's clear that the post-partisan rhetoric from Barack Obama that's annoyed a lot of bloggers has tremendous appeal to this segment of the electorate. And though I, too, find it annoying I think you have to agree that if he really does manage to use this kind of rhetoric to mobilize an unprecedented number of independents to go caucus for the first time on behalf of a candidate who was right about Iraq from the beginning, backs ambitious new programs on climate change and media reform, big new regulations on health insurance companies and new subsidies to people who have trouble paying for insurance, etc., etc., etc. that that'll be a pretty impressive achievement.

It's always worth recalling that George W. Bush talked the talk about repudiating the harshness of Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay. [...] But the policy agenda from Bush was always very right-wing, just as Obama's platform is quite progressive.

And Steve Benen (Carpetbagger) expands:
This touches on what I think is one of the Obama campaign’s more compelling selling points — he’s giving Dems the policy proposals they want (universal healthcare plan, excellent energy policy, ending the war in Iraq, cancellation of Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy, net neutrality, etc.) and giving independents the tone they want (”agree without being disagreeable,” “bring people together,” “working with those we don’t agree with”).

For all the palpable frustration and exasperation, Obama may very well be in the process of pulling off a pretty neat trick: selling a very liberal agenda to a large group of people who aren’t even close to liberal.

Exactly. Of course I could be the one getting duped, but I don't think so. I think Obama really is a progressive liberal, and will govern that way, he is just not campaigning that way. Steve continues...
Allow me to over simplify things to an almost comical degree. Obama, or any Democrat for that matter, has a choice as to how best to pitch progressive ideas as a presidential candidate:

Choice A: Republicans have proven themselves to be reckless, incompetent, and incapable of governing. They seek to divide, bankrupt, and undercut America, while trashing our institutions and ignoring the rule of law. The way to get the nation back on track is to elect a Democratic president with a progressive policy agenda. If Republicans balk, we’ll ram it down their throats, to the benefit of people nationwide.

Choice B: Partisan politics has gotten out of hand, and there’s simply no need to keep having the same ideological fights over and over again. It’s time for a Democratic style of politics that brings in independents and reasonable Republicans who are willing to work with us to make a difference on the issues that really matter, such as universal healthcare, ending the war in Iraq, combating global warming, fiscal sanity, making college more affordable….

The funny thing is, Dems who embrace Choice A and Dems who embrace Choice B can agree with one another, wholeheartedly, on matters of substance. On policy, they want the exact same things, and have practically the same ideas as to how to address the issues. The difference, of course, is style and tone. Choice A is perceived as “partisan” — it rallies Dems, and drives independents away. Choice B is perceived as “bipartisan” — it annoys Dems, and brings independents in (not to mention the media establishment, which eats this stuff up).

In the current race for the Democratic nomination, Obama seems to be taking a risk — use bipartisan rhetoric to achieve partisan ends. His agenda isn’t moderate; his tone is moderate.

I think that's an excellent breakdown. I think Edwards might be throwing more red meat to the base, and Obama is frustrating those same people, but at the end of the day, Obama winning with 60% of the vote will stand a much better chance of carrying Congress with him and getting shit done than the now sure-to-be-branded-as the angry "Dean" candidate Edwards, or the hyper-polarizing, and now probably bitter Hillary will, with only 50.1%.

I mean, hell, my name is Mr. Furious, of course I'd be excited about a candidate that wanted to rub the GOPs nose in its own shit, but that satisfaction is short-lived. If Obama can get me the policies I want but get there with a broad mandate and the support of the long-promised "middle" I can live without the gloating, revenge and vindication that would come from an insurgent. And if he can do it by defeating the Democratic Party Establishment along the way, so much the better.

• Obama's victory speech:



UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan

The contrast between the two speeches - Clinton's and Obama's - was instructive. She was fine - but seemed to purloin the entire Obama message. The idea of the Clintons as a unifying force for change is not exactly persuasive.

As for Obama? Maybe you saw it. Simply put: he sounded like a president. The theme was not just change; it was a new unity. And as a black man, he helps heal the past as well as forge the future. This really was history tonight. To win so many white voices, and bring together so many minorities, and use the unifying language that leaves the toxins of race and partisanship behind: This was the moment America stopped being afraid.

This was the America we have missed and have found again.

--

Tonight was in many ways devastating news for the GOP. Twice as many people turned out for the Democrats than the Republicans. Clearly independents prefer the Dems.

Now look at how the caucus-goers defined themselves in the entrance polls. Among the Dems: Very Liberal: 18 percent; Somewhat Liberal: 36 percent; Moderate: 40 percent; Conservative: 6 percent. Now check out the Republicans: Very Conservative: 45 percent; Somewhat Conservative: 43 percent; Moderate: 11 percent; Liberal: 1 percent.

One is a national party; the other is on its way to being an ideological church. The damage Bush and Rove have done - revealed in 2006 - is now inescapable.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Iowa Crockus

I don't have time to flesh out a big post on why the Iowa Caucus is such a bullshit way to pick a President, so I will leave it to the professionals. I read a couple good posts on this early this morning:

Carpetbagger
Voting by absentee ballot is prohibited. There are no secret ballots, a bedrock democratic principle. The notion of “one-person, one-vote” does not really apply (the NYT noted that votes are weighted according to a precinct’s past level of participation).

There’s a legitimate debate to be had about whether Iowa deserves to go before the other 49 other states, in every presidential campaign, forever. But this is a different question altogether: if Iowa is going to go first, could they at least use a reasonable process that encourages Iowans to participate?

A former chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party said it is “magic” to see passionate, engaged voters take part in this civic treasure. If that excludes troops, single parents, people with health problems, and people who have to work at 7 pm on a Thursday, so be it. A leading Republican official said, “That’s just the way it works.”

Christopher Hitchens is really pissed (and probably hammered):
It is quite astonishing to see with what deadpan and neutral a tone our press and television report the open corruption—and the flagrantly anti-democratic character—of the Iowa caucuses. It's not enough that we have to read of inducements openly offered to potential supporters—I almost said "voters"—even if these mini-bribes only take the form of "platters of sandwiches" and "novelty items" [...] It's also that campaign aides are showing up at Iowan homes "with DVD's that explain how the caucuses work." Nobody needs a DVD to understand one-person-one-vote, a level playing field, and a secret ballot. The DVD and the other gifts and goodies...are required precisely because none of those conditions applies in Iowa. In a genuine democratic process, these Tammany tactics would long ago have been declared illegal.

NYT's Gail Collins:
People, ignore whatever happens here. The identity of the next leader of the most powerful nation in the world is not supposed to depend on the opinion of one small state. Let alone the sliver of that state with the leisure and physical capacity to make a personal appearance tonight at a local caucus that begins at precisely 7 o’clock. Let alone the tiny slice of the small sliver willing to take part in a process that involves standing up in public to show a political preference, while being lobbied and nagged by neighbors.

[...] Tonight, the Iowa Deciders will divide into 1,781 local caucuses. Past history suggests that a few of these gatherings may not draw any attendees whatsoever and that several others will consist entirely of a guy named Carl. Attendance has no effect on the number of delegates involved, and we hardly need mention that the whole thing is weighted to give rural residents an advantage. Iowans in politically active neighborhoods where 100 people show up may find their vote is worth only 1 percent as much as, say, Carl’s.

[...] Iowa Republican caucuses, which involve writing a name on a piece of paper and going home, are like Athens in the Age of Pericles compared with the Democrats, who are closer to Turkmenistan in the age of Saparmurat Niyazov. Tonight the Democratic caucus-goers (We are expecting way more than 100,000!) will divide up into groups supporting each of the different candidates. (Secret ballots are for sissies.) Then some of the smaller groups will be dissolved under rules so complicated they are known only to the local insiders and experts hired by the candidates to decipher them. (Sometimes these turn out to be the exact same people!)

Howard Kurtz:
[...] But the chief reason for the Iowa effect is an explosion of media coverage that treats the winners as superstars and the also-rans as lamentable losers. Without that massive media boost, prevailing in Iowa would be seen for what it is: an important first victory that amounts to scoring a run in the top of the first inning.

Kurtz really nails it with that first inning thing. That's the way it should be treated, but it isn't. TOmorrow morning the press will be throwing dirt on candidates and declaring others a shoo-in. All thanks to the efforts of a relative handful of corn farmers and bussed-in college students cutting deals in caucus precincts.

What's worse is this stupid "race to be first" shit led to my state stupidly shoving their primary up and as a result, most of the candidates withdrew at the behest of the national party. Nice work, moron Michigan legislators—in your ham-handed attempt to be more "relevant," Michigan voters now have a primary ballot with only Hillary, Dodd and Gravel on it. I'm sure the rest of the country will hold their breath for THOSE results...

It's not just that I'm bitter about never getting a chance to actually choose a candidate (don't worry, I am), but it's the stupid-ass way that this caucus system works, and it's undue influence on the race. I actually think Hillary, Edwards and Obama are all good candidates and would be good Presidents, but what happens tonite will catapult one to an artificial advantage, and potentially pull the plug on another.

What happens in Iowa is pretty much the equivalent of a smoke-filled backroom, it's just a big snow- and corn-covered one.

All of that said, I hope it goes 1. Obama, 2. Edwards, 3. Clinton.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Another Reason to Say No...

This is awesome. Hillary goes on Today for a one-on-one chat with Meredith Vieira. Probably expecting a last-minute pre-caucus fluff interview, Hillary starts trotting out some of the same old shit that she was personally involved and integral in everything from brokering peace in Northern Ireland to creating the budget surplus while splitting the atom, all as First Lady...

Hillary: "I was the first high-profile American to go into Bosnia after the Dayton Peace Accords..."

Really? I had no idea...And what other high-powered world leaders accompanied her on this momentous diplomatic mission?

This guy.


No, seriously. Fucking Sinbad.

Watch the video, it's not often that Hillary gets caught by surprise...



UPDATE: As Smitty points out in the comments, this isn't really a classic "gotcha" moment or gaffe situation, but it IS taking one of Hillary's patented lines/claims and dismantling it. Right in front of her. And she is left with not much to say...

Vieira: "But, you went to Bosnia with Sinbad. A performer..."

HRC [interrupts]: "That's right. That's right."

Vieira [continues]: "...that, that wasn't really establishing any kind of foreign policy."

HRC [dismissively]: "Oh, you know, again...I put my experience up against anybody."


Against anybody. Even Sinbad.

In a sense this is kind of a Romney/MLK moment...Hillary is portraying (embellishing?) her years in the White House as First Lady as something more akin to Vice President, and we only have her word to go on—she has sealed most of the records, etc so there's no way to check. So she can sit there inserting what might have been a simple handshaking/USO tour into a context of phrases like "formal national security council meeting," "intimately involved," "Dayton Peace Accords," "the way decisions were made" and inflate it up into something it might not have been.

And I don't really go for that.

[h/t TPM]

New Years Meme

Tagged by Toast.

1. What did you do in 2007 that you'd never done before? Having a hard time with this one. Not exactly living life on the edge these days.

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I set some goals about losing weight, getting in shape, being neater around the house...I DID lose weight, and then gained some back. Got in better cardio shape. Remained a fucking slob. For 2008 I will repeat those: 170 is the weight goal (181 this morning). I will join the new gym at work. I will throw away so much of my shit, I can't help but be neater.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? We had our second daughter, Charlotte, on January 31. A few close friends added their second as well.

4. Did anyone close to you die? My grandfather died. But, he had a good run—he was 94, and after a difficult illness, he was able to choose to go home and die peacefully surrounded by family.

5. What places did you visit? Walt Disney World (twice!), family in Connecticut, Madison WI. The new baby kept us closer to home.

6. What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007? A new job that allows me to quit doing so much freelance work. Insulation in the walls of my house. Money to pay for that (see job, new).

7. What dates from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? January 31 (see #3). Other memorable events, but that's the only "date."

8. What was your biggest achievement(s) of the year? Losing 15 pounds?

9. What was your biggest failure? Putting five back on. In December. Actually, my biggest failure was failing (twice) to land jobs that I had every business getting.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Something is wrong with my hand—repetitive stress injury or nerve damage from wearing my daughter in the sling? However it happened, I cannot throw a snowball without crippling pain. My wife will tell me to suck it up, but I'm concerned about it.

11. What was the best thing you bought? For me? My bike. For the family? The pool.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? My daughters. Both of them. Kid for welcoming a little sister so graciously, and Baby for being so damn cute and walking at eight months.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? The easy answer would be Bush, Cheney, Gonzalez, etc. but it's really the feckless Democrats who let this shit continue even though they are now in a position to stop it.

14. Where did most of your money go? Who the hell knows? Mortgage, obviously, but lots went to gas—both the liquid kind for the cars and the natural kind for the house.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Having a smiling toddler to come home to—Baby F's a real Daddy's girl. The Sox winning the Series. Bike commuting. Renewed enthusiasm for photography.

16. What song will always remind you of 2007? None.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) Happier or sadder? Much happier—family is fantastic, even my lame job is more satisfying.
b) thinner or fatter? On balance, thinner
c) richer or poorer? Modest improvement.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of? Cycle and work out. Read more books, watch more movies. Time alone with Mrs. F. Sleep.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of? (Direct lift from Toast) Sit in front of the goddamned computer for hours even when I've completely run out of reasons to do so. Eat total and complete shit.

20. How did you spend Christmas? Quietly at home. Nice.

21. Did you fall in love in 2007? Yes. With my baby, and again with my first daughter and lovely wife.

22. How many one-night stands? Does sex so infrequently it seems like one-night stands count? Let's put that under "wish I'd done more of" as well.

23. What was your favorite TV program? N/A. Literally watched almost NO television aside from baseball. Don't really miss it either.

24. What did you do for your birthday in 2007? Not much. Savored my delicious birthday pie. On a related note, the year being 2008 rang home the easy math on how fucking old I am. I turn 40 in May.

25. What was the best book you read? I tried to read some "real" books, but never could get to them. I have spent countless hours reading, reenacting and thoroughly enjoying Calvin and Hobbes with Kid Furious, however. Her laughter is so contagious, and Waterson really did an brilliant job of appealing to kids and adults alike.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery? None. I continued to ride The Raconteurs right through 2007.

27. What did you want and get? New lens for the camera.

28. What did you want and not get? A good job.

29. What was your favorite film of this year? Probably "Casino Royale."

30. Did you make some new friends this year? Um, people from the internet I don't really know and live nowhere near me? Oh, yeah. "Normal" friends? Not so much.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Democrats having the fortitude to stop Bush's bullshit. Did I mention I want a new job?

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007? Thanks to some timely sale purchases my Mrs F, I've rediscovered the button-down shirt. Plus, some nice new jeans.

33. What kept you sane? My wife and kids. But if they are also a major source of insanity does it still count? Blogging helps. And therapy... And medication...

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Fancy like a crush? Can't really think of one. I hold Keith Olberman, George Clooney and David Ortiz in high esteem...but that's not really an answer, is it?

35. What political issue stirred you the most? Don't. Get. Me. Started.

36. Who did you miss? My former sports fan self. Kids, work, and real life prevent me from enjoying and immersing myself in sports the way I used to. This was probably the first year EVER that I failed to attend a baseball game. I did bouce back and join the Salary Cap League at Toast's, and enjoy the Sox v. Yanks trash talk, but sometimes kicking back and zoning out to a ballgame is all I need in the world, and that feels gone forever.

37. Who was the best new person you met? Probably Toast. Though I failed to actually meet him and Tracy in person when I had the shot, "TwoGlasses" has been a great destination for me, and his crew of misfits are an enjoyable bunch who have helped make this blog more rewarding and enjoyable as well. We got to meet the Howard family actually in the flesh at Disney World, and they were great, but Toast gets the nod here, as he was the conduit...

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2007. What really matters. 2006 was a nightmare for us in many ways...sick daughter, tough pregnancy, job upheaval, car accidents, a fucking hold-up, financial problems... Some of those carried over to 2007, but as a family, and a marriage, we were equipped to handle them. Every day I come home, no matter how crazy or messy the house is, or how late I have to stay up doing freelance—watching one of my daughters asleep, piling into the armchair for "booktime" or even a brief moment reviewing the day with Mrs F. puts it all back in order.


Who do I tag? Anyone with a blog who reads this. Get on it.

Happy New Year, everyone.

The Furious Rules — No. 296

Stores or places of business that have double glass doors must unlock BOTH doors.

Nothing pisses me off more than walking up to an entrance and having only a 50/50 shot of grabbing the right handle. Okay, fine, there are myriad things that piss me off more, but this practice is bullshit and needs to stop. If for some stupid reason they have to leave one locked, they better make it damn clear which door is in use.