Friday, February 29, 2008

“Daisy”-Eating “Wolves” are Coming for Your “Children”



I think you can officially say that the Clinton campaign is the one in possession of The Rove Playbook™. No need for me to go off on some big rant, because unlike John Kerry, Barack Obama gets after it. His response...

"We’ve seen these ads before. They’re the kind that play on peoples’ fears to scare up votes.

"Well it won’t work this time. Because the question is not about picking up the phone. The question is – what kind of judgment will you make when you answer? We’ve had a red phone moment. It was the decision to invade Iraq. And Senator Clinton gave the wrong answer. George Bush gave the wrong answer. John McCain gave the wrong answer.

"But I stood up and said that a war in Iraq would cost us thousands of lives and billions of dollars. I said that it would distract us from the real threat we face – and that we should take the fight to al Qaeda in Afghanistan. That’s the judgment I made on the most important foreign policy decision of our generation, and that’s the kind of judgment I’ll show when I answer that phone in the White House as President of the United States – the judgment to keep us safe, to go after our real enemies, and to provide the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States with the equipment they need when we do send them into battle, and the respect and care they have earned when they come home. And I’ll never see the threat of terrorism as a way to scare up votes, because it’s a threat that should rally this country around our common enemies. That’s the judgment we need at 3am. And that’s the judgment that I am running for President to provide."

Class. Fucking. Dismissed.

Oh, and the best part? There's a reason why, as you watch the ad, you (more than) halfway expect it to be a GOP 527 ad or one of Bush's FISA propaganda pieces—this is a total and complete ripoff of a McCain ad* from a few months ago...

UPDATE: Bill Clinton responds...
"Now, one of Clinton's laws of politics is this. If one candidate is trying to scare you and the other one is try get you to think, if one candidate is appealing to your fears and the other one is appealing to your hopes, you better vote for the person who wants you to think and hope."

Oh, I'm sorry, that was from 2004...

*UPDATE 2: There was apparently a Mondale ad ("The Red Phone") like this in the 80s—used in the primaries against Gary Hart. Feel the plagiarism!

UPDATE 3: Obama already has a response ad out.



"They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. *That's* the *Chicago* way!" -- Jimmy Malone, "The Untouchables"

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Mr Furious Heartily Endorses…

Three albums curently making the rounds in my iPod and car stereo...

Brendan Benson
Alternative to Love

Benson came to my attention as the not-Jack White guy from the Raconteurs. This is one of his solo albums from the pre-Rac days, and it is great. At first it reminded me of the previously endorsed "Girlfriend" from Matthew Sweet mixed with a bit of Michael Penn. But the more I listen to it (which is often) the more it reminds me of old Squeeze. And that's a very good thing. You can hear two songs from Benson at his website here, but they are not from this album. Just go to iTunes and grab "Alternative to Love." If you like any of the artists I mentioned, you won't be disappointed.

Rodrigo y Gabriela
Rodrigo y Gabriela

I'm late to the party on this one, but I cannot say enough about how infectious this album is. I put this on in the living room, and no one in the house can stay still. Baby and Kid F start bopping around and the next thing you know we are all doing the flamenco. Literally. You may have heard of this Mexican guitar duo by way of Dublin as they had a radio hit last year and some notoriety for covering "Stairway to Heaven" and Metallica on this album. Highly recommended for both aural pleasure and cardio benefits.

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
Raising Sand

The most recent acquisition, it has gotten the fewest listens, but this sounds like a keeper. A haunting yet melodic collection of blues and folk standards with some Tom Waits thrown in, produced by T-Bone Burnett. Each vocalist trades solos and harmonize amazingly. As I type this I am cursing myself for not bringing the CD in to put on my work computer.

FLASHBACK BONUS: Not really "making the rounds" but just brought out for an encore...

Paul Simon—Graceland
Yeah, I know this is twenty years old, and probably seems like you heard it enough times for a lifetime, I recommend pulling it out and giving it a listen. I put it on the other day, and it was perfect Saturday afternoon music as we went about our business in the house. Every bit as good today as it was when I bought it as one of my very first CDs.

Debate Post-Mortem


Last night was the final debate between the Democratic candidates and it went just like the last few...Obama has closed the gap on what used to be a big advantage for Hillary—debate setting vs public speaking. He came off well, fought off some ridiculous gotcha questions from the excreable Tim Russert and looked pretty damn Presidential. Hillary also did a great job telling Russert to STFU when deserving, avoided saying "Day One™" and had some typically strong moments—she is good in this format—but she had some big missteps. She needed a game-changer and didn't get it.

We did a Debate Couch (live-commenting) at Toast's if you want to read our witty repartee, but the best thing I've read on last nights debate is here. Click, you'll be glad you did.

I mean it.

UPDATE: A good piece on Russert from last fall [link], and why he's a terrible choice for a debate moderator.

Monday, February 25, 2008

What Not To Wear

Once again, I came into the day intending to avoid any Hillary bashing, and get back to something light-hearted...but she keeps up with this shit, and I cannot let it go...

Over the weekend the Clinton campaign released photos of Barack Obama wearing traditional Somali garb while on an African tour a few years back. Of course foreign dignitaries often pay respect to local custom like this—Bush, Bill Clinton, and Hillary herself have all done the same. So what's the problem?

The problem is that Hillary's camp is not releasing this to demonstrate how worldly or cool Obama looks in this outfit (with his polo and khakis clearly visable beneath it), they are doing it to denegrate him and stir up the issue of his multi-cultural background, and if it muddies the water on the closet muslim rumors, well, that's just a bonus...

She makes me fucking sick.

Don't give me any crap about that being a link to Drudge [* see update]. That's where they sent the photos, and they are NOT denying it. They are feigning "What's wrong with that?" and then getting defensive about it. Here is the official non-denial denial from new campaign manager Maggie Williams:
If Barack Obama's campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed. Hillary Clinton has worn the traditional clothing of countries she has visited and had those photos published widely. This is nothing more than an obvious and transparent attempt to distract from the serious issues confronting our country today and to attempt to create the very divisions they claim to decry. We will not be distracted.”

Your campaign has become a fucking disgrace Senator Clinton. Grab a seat next to Lieberman over there...you are dead to me, and no longer a Democrat.

MORE: The Clinton camp cops to sending it, but claims it was in the context of about press coverage, not to push a negative story to the press. Clinton spokesman, Mo Elleithee: "We don’t think there’s anything wrong with this photo. Sen. Clinton has herself, while traveling abroad, dressed in traditional, local dress...We think it is wrong for the Obama campaign to say that this is divisive photo. It’s not a divisive photo."

Lecture us again about tactics and behavior, Hillary. Go the fuck home.

*UPDATE: From the eminently reliable Josh Marshall:
Put it all together and the Clinton camp would appear to be unwilling to make even the most perfunctory denial that they are or were circulating this photo around.

We held up on this because we never want to take Drudge as a fact witness for anything. But I think the Clinton camp's statement speaks for itself.

In Search of...

Toast ran a little Technorati search on his site and I am following suit. The results are in. Below is the archived screenshot of my blog (I'm pleased with the random Nelson!) and then my "Top Tags." Not sure exactly how that's determined, seems pretty random...at this point, I'd've expected the "Obama" to be like six times bigger than everything else...



In a similar vein, Rickey ran a google search on his blog-self. He landed third...I came in fourth, but I am confident I will eventually surpass my namessake...



Have at it friends, and report back here.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Seriously...

I really felt comfortable the other night with what I thought was Hillary turning a corner and running a better campaign as she makes her comeback attempt. I don't want to hate her for her campaign, but she is really making it hard...

After Saturday's calculated outburst (see below) I have once again lost all respect for her. And when she comes out for the debate on Tuesday she is in a no-win situation with me. She can revert to the "nice" valedictory Hillary we saw in Austin—and reveal herself to be a complete hypocrit based on her challenge yesterday. Or, she can come after Obama hard and with guns blazing. Which will just be hypocritical from her stance of a different day.

And, if she does go aggressive, I believe Obama will be ready for it, and can probably bury her with it.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Losing It

In every sense of the word...



So, was the conciliatory tone in Thursday's debate an act, or was this over-the-top outburst faux-outrage? As Hillary swings wildly from one strategy to the other, Obama just keeps gaining where he's behind, and burying her where he's ahead.

The mailer Hillary is so bent out of shape about is NOT new—so this reaction is clearly orchestrated. I guess she didn't get enough of a bump after offering an olive branch Thursday, so today she's swinging a club.

Before Super Tuesday, the Obama campaign mailed the same flyer out, and the Clinton campaign already (over)reacted...you might recall one of the Clinton spokesmorons saying it was "It is as outrageous as having Nazis march through Skokie."

Yeah. It's just like that.

Clearly Clinton and her advisors think there is something to be gained by sending the candidate herself out to have a meltdown while Ohio Governor Strickland stands there unsure whether to yell, "Testify!" or run the hell offstage. Hillary claims Obama is "using tactics that are right out of Karl Rove’s playbook!" That's a lie and she knows it. Karl Rove's playbook is in Mark Penn's briefcase covered in french fry grease.

During this press conference she decries Obama's tactics and behavior yet earlier today Clinton reiterated that Obama is not ready to be President, said he was another inexperienced candidate like George W. Bush and look how that worked out. Nice.

I'll be honest here. I wish Obama wasn't doing this. I didn't like the mailers the first time they came up. I think the mailers are beneath him and his campaign, and I'll agree with Hillary it speaks of a strategic dichotomy. But all of that said, the mailers are NOT "untrue" or "false," as Hillary claims—they are certainly NOT anywhere close to as misleading as the mailings her campaign has sent out (ie: the N.H. mailing that questioned Obama's pro-choice stance or the Iowa mailing on taxes that could have been written by Grover Norquist...)

And as for "behavior in the campaign"...

• Hillary wondered aloud if terrorists might test a new President with an attack on, yes, "Day One." And would Obama be ready, or need on-the-job training...

• Her campaign repeatedly made ridiculous drug-related remarks about Obama, once even asking if Obama ever sold cocaine...

• Her campaign actually brought up Obama's statements from kidergarten!

• Last week's preposterous plagiarism charges...

• The campaign email from just yesterday trying to link Obama to terrorists. This one is so fucking outrageous it needs it's own post.


And those are just the one's off the top of my head.

I liked you a lot more the other day, Hillary, now I wish you'd just go away already. You are making a spectacle of yourself.

--

Here is a longer clip of Hillary, that shows her start out by saying these mailers were just handed to her from the crowd (WTF?) and then includes a response from Obama.

More on Hillary's NAFTA tapdance

Factcheck.org on the Obama mailer, and Hillary's mailer.

Friday, February 22, 2008

WTF?

This seems absolutely outrageous to me...
Secret Service Ordered End to Gun Checks at Obama Rally

NEW YORK The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported late Thursday that security details at Barack Obama's rally in Dallas (of all places) on Wednesday "stopped screening people for weapons at the front gates more than an hour before the Democratic presidential candidate took the stage at Reunion Arena.

"The order to put down the metal detectors and stop checking purses and laptop bags came as a surprise to several Dallas police officers who said they believed it was a lapse in security," reported the paper's Jack Douglas, Jr. More than 10 days remain until the Texas primary and a key vote for president.

"Dallas Deputy Police Chief T.W. Lawrence, head of the Police Department's homeland security and special operations divisions, said the order -- apparently made by the U.S. Secret Service -- was meant to speed up the long lines outside and fill the arena's vacant seats before Obama came on. '"Sure,' said Lawrence, when asked if he was concerned by the great number of people who had gotten into the building without being checked. But, he added, the turnout of more than 17,000 people seemed to be a 'friendly crowd.'"

The Secret Service did not return a call from the Star-Telegram seeking comment.

Are you fucking kidding me? And in Dallas for crissakes?!?

[via TPM's CAmpaign Wire]

I wonder...

If Barack Obama accepts public financing for the general election, I believe he gets $85 million. Does the clock not start on that until after the convention and his nomination is formalized? Isn't $85 mil enough to last two months? Can he raise and spend at his current pace up until the Convention and just bury McCain early?

I've been collecting a lot of links and thoughts on this whole public finance issue, and my position has swung back and forth. Maybe I'll be able to bake them into a post later today, and finding out the answers to my questions above (which a short search did not reveal) will be decisive. I just hope Obama listens to what I come up with... ;-)

Are You Done Now? [updated]

During tonite's debate, Hillary was asked by one of the questioners about the plagiarism charges from her campaign and she went after Obama on it. Obama responded, and Hillary followed with "If your candidacy is going to be about words then they should be your own words," she said. "...Lifting whole passages from someone else's speeches is not change you can believe in, it's change you can Xerox."

Her delivery, particularly on that last soundbite line, was awkward, giving me the sense it was scripted, and perhaps her heart wasn't in it. It went over like a lead balloon and she was roundly booed for her efforts. Maybe now she'll cut the plagiarism crap out.

And if that isn't convincing enough to make her stop, maybe this will be...



I'm not even showing that clip to criticize Hillary—this was also something that John Edwards had used earlier this campaign. It just shows that recycling themes and platitudes is not plagiarism, it's pretty common, and in many cases almost unavoidable. This whole affair was stupid, and I think backfired on her.

--

UPDATE: Slight changes above to include the actual quotes from Hillary, now that they are available, and to clarify why I posted the video. Based on my first two comments, I also wanted to add the following to make my overall impression clear:

I think Hillary came across very well and had a good debate. It's her natural habitat in many ways, and it really levels the playing field with Obama for her in terms of oratory. I think she played it clean, and for the most part graciously and above the belt. A few of her standard, semi-BS staples made it in, but I was seriously wondering whether she would follow the advice she had been recieving from the Penn faction of her camp (and Bill?) to go aggressively and negatively after Obama, and I think she rightly realized it hasn't been working for her and decided to try and remain above that.

Kudos to her. I think it's a better strategy for her, better for her legacy if (when?) she loses, and definitely better for the party going forward. It was a bit surprising for me, and improved my opinion of her, which had been plummeting. She also stated that the race "will not be decided by the superdelegates" which possibly sent certain advisors into conniptions, but it is the right thing for her to say. We'll see if she means it.

They both dodged answering the last question, but Hillary was MUCH more effective, and her strongest moment ended up being the last word. Even if it was Bill's...

I think, unlike the Republicans, when these two are together on stage, they raise the level of the debate and do as much emphasizing of similarities as contrasts. This is a good thing.

I think Hillary might have had a few more memorable moments (good and bad) and "won" the debate if you were scoring as an isolated event, but I think it did nothing to slow Obama down, and a hold for him is a win. He's ahead, and has the wind and clock on his side.

My lasting impression was closer to what I thought a month ago, when I felt good about both options, and happy to support whoever won the nomination. So in that sense, Hillary won with me—but that can change in a heartbeat if she doesn't put a leash on her surrogates.

[UPDATE 2:] Here is the Yahoo headline in the top stories section of my homepage. One of only five headlines, by the way...

Clinton: Obama 'change you can Xerox'.

It would appear that played better with the media that wants a brawl than the electorate that wants reconciliation. This is a shame, because it leaves the same mis-impression of the debate that my original post did. I think most people who watched would actually be talking more about Hillary's closing (in a positive way) than this (IMO) misstep.

And if they are going to further that meme, perhaps they would give equal time to the identical behavior Hillary exhibited during the same debate she called Obama a Xerox machine. Obviously the media isn't going to help Obama and that front, and want him to go there himself. I hope he resists.

The fucking media sucks.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Mac Daddy


This whole "John McCain, screwed around with a lobbyist thing" bothers me for a few reasons...

First: It is sucking up all the oxygen, and I don't really care about it. But one can hardly find anything else to read today. (Bonus side effect: Nobody is talking about Michelle Obama...)

Second: The "affair" part of the story seems shaky. And old.

Third: Nobody cares about any part but the sexual affair—which is the least important part and the one most easily discredited.

As a result, if that portion of the story cannot be substantiated, the whole thing goes away: McCain walks on the ethical violations that likely occurred, the New York Times gets (rightfully) dinged—which plays up the whole liberal media conspiracy crap (undeservedly), and McCain raises a whole bunch of money off of it (he already is).

Plus, it galvanizes the right-wing behind him. They don't love McCain, but God knows they hate the NY Times...

--

John McCain having an affair is none of my damn business, nor anybody else's except those intimately involved or directly impacted. It's true for Bill Clinton, Mr. Jeri Ryan, and everybody else. If it isn't affecting their job, it doesn't matter to me.

If, on the other hand it leads to cover-ups, abuse of power, favors, and influence, that's a problem. And that is what should be the concern, and the angle of any investigation—journalistic or otherwise.

Also sure to be swept under the rug by all of this, is the story of John McCain's abuse of the public finance system, and the hypocrisy of his calling Obama out on the subject. (As long as this goes away for both of them, I'll consider it a wash, but I suspect it will stick to Obama yet McCain will be inoculated.)

It will probably turn out that the most likely scenario involving the relationship with the lobbyist, is something like this which makes her the closest thing to a victim here, and not a particularly sympathetic one.

In conclusion, nobody likes seeing sanctimonious assholes hoisted on their own petards more than me. And for the self-styled Champion of Ethics and Honesty to get exposed as the fraud that he is at a time that might help my side, well... that certainly won't keep me up at night with guilt. And please don't feel bad for his wife, Vanilla Ice, either—she was "the other woman" that ended McCain's first marriage...

So while McCain's perfect Straight Shooter reputation might be tarnished a bit, I think he gets away with it all, earns acceptance with the far right through this baptism by fire, and it successfully muddies the water on all the actual bad behavior and makes the press even more gun-shy to take him on.

Sigh.

The funniest thing I read on this whole thing? This comment (somewhere)...
"Well, if nothing else, this should solidify his role as a replacement for Bob Dole in Viagra commercials.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Tale of ThreeTwo Speeches

Here's a short video put together by TPM showing the speeches from the three contenders last night. Check it out.



I submit that there is little to no difference between Clinton's and McCain's speeches, and that if this is to be her comeback strategy, she is finished. The back and forth between those two speeches is revealing in a way that even Obama, with all his skill, cannot illustrate more clearly—Hillary is more of the same, just like McCain. Yeah, it's a different "same" but it sure as hell ain't change.

Here’s a serious query…

Looking over the race, how much of Obama’s criticism of Clinton have been of the nature that would harm her and the party’s chances in the general election? I seriously cannot think of any.

While everything—EVERYTHING—coming out from the Clinton camp is stuff that can be picked up and used by the Republicans in one way or another or is designed to damage him as a candidate going forward as much, if not more, than it impacts him now…

Seriously. I know I am biased, but I really am having a hard time thinking of the worst stuff he’s been thrown at Hillary. There've been some less-than-clean mailers, but they've still been honest, and won't serve as ammo for Republicans...what else?

He seems to have stuck more or less to contrasting the two of them before Democrats, while she goes on stage last night and rather than concede Wisconsin, she pretends it never happened and claims he’s not ready to be President.

Hillary Clinton is willing to sow defeat in November for (at this point) futile points in February. Her campaign is going from pathetic to loathsome, and she cannot get eliminated fast enough. There is not going to be anymore "healthy debate" on the Democrat's side, all that can happen going forward is detrimental to the party now, in November and for potentially years to come.

Texas Two (Thousand) Step


On the first day of early voting for the March 4 Texas Primary, students at Prairie View A&M University marched 7.3 miles from the school's Student Center to the Waller County courthouse in Hempstead -- the closest early voting location to the campus.

This is pretty kick-ass. Story here.

[via Digby and C&L]

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Michelle Obama Might've Fucked Up, But That Doesn't Mean She's Wrong

[NOTE: I am updating this post slightly to include a more complete quote, and tweak my intro and conclusion a bit based on that.]
What we have learned over this year is that hope is making a comeback. It is making a comeback. And let me tell you something -- for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change. And I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction and just not feeling so alone in my frustration and disappointment. I've seen people who are hungry to be unified around some basic common issues, and it's made me proud."

Michelle Obama is taking a beating for making that statement during a rally in Milwaukee yesterday. For the most part, she is getting killed for that one sentence: "...for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country." And in most instances, with a quote omitting the crucial qualifier "really." Even video clips (see below) have a "convenient glitch" that mutes the word "really."

There is no question that statement was risky, loaded and the words perhaps less-than-artfully chosen and delivered, and I suspect Michelle Obama surely wants them back—because they are damaging and counter-productive to her and her husband's cause. But consider most of the critics—I don't think a bunch of male, white pundits can quite identify with the overwhelming emotional feeling associated with a black woman seeing the country on the verge of a historic national mea culpa by nominating a black man for President.

Just sayin...

My initial response to the statement was "Oh shit, she is a loose cannon. That's gonna hurt. Right before the next primary, too..." But just because people aren't ready to hear something, doesn't mean it shouldn't be said. And while it probably could've come at a better time, and been more fleshed out, I think she's right.

I look at myself as countless things—a good father, loyal husband, nice guy, even Red Sox fan—before I think of myself as some hyper-patriotic, pseudo-jingoist definition of a "Proud American."

We fly a flag on front porch—but there have been times in the last seven years when I haven't wanted to. I love my life and the opportunities afforded me, but I don't go around pledging allegiance everyday and contemplating what it means to be "American." I go to work and raise my family and that's about it. Maybe that means I'm taking it for granted, but it's true. And I suspect it's true for most people, you just expect a certain level of lapel-pin-wearing homage from those seeking national office (and those speaking for them).

I am turning forty in May, so "my adult life" matches up pretty well with the 44-year-old Michelle Obama—but only in age. Trying to compare or identify life experience with her or anyone else is just as preposterous for me as it is for any of the countless people sure to be spouting off on this today.

Here's the thing: America as a good actor is supposed to be. The norm. The default. But on more occasions than I can count, it has failed to live up to that promise. In fact, on balance, I'd say there are more things to be ashamed of in "my adult lifetime" than proud of—not just because the things many people hold up as "proud moments" should be fucking expected, but because this country has done a lot of shameful things—here and abroad.

If Barack Obama is elected President, I can honestly say it might be the proudest moment of MY adult life, at least in regard to my feelings about "America."

It's more than the fact that he's black and what that represents—and that's plenty. It's because electing Obama is the strongest possible repudiation of the last twenty years I can imagine, and I think that IS something to be proud of.

And I say twenty years because this is more than the Bush Era—of which there is close to nothing to be proud of. I go back further because there isn't much of a proud legacy from the 90s either. Bill Clinton presided over a nice economic boom, but little else. There was no transformational change. No "New Deal." No progressive movement. No sea change for good.

What was there? There was Rwanda. There was DOMA. There was welfare reform. There was Don't Ask Don't Tell. There was impeachment. There was scandal. Most of all there was complacency and there was greed. The rich got richer and nothing much happened for anybody else. It's more pronounced now, but really, only the faces at the top have changed. It's the only way to explain how we can be where we are today so quickly.

The people in power in the 90s came in, got theirs, and left. And left the pieces in place for the even-more-disgusting shit that happened since.

I can remember the day I came into work after Election Day 2004. Not only had the country endorsed the worst man alive and everything he represented, but here in Michigan, we relegated an entire class of citizens (gays) as second-class. I was fucking embarrassed and ashamed to be an American that day. It was a level of shame that far outweighs all of the proud moments I've seen recited in all the columns today.

The more I type this, the more I identify with what Michelle Obama had the honesty to say...and I've had a pretty good, white bread, middle-class American life with all the trimmings.

It might have been self-centered, it was probably ill-advised, but it was honest. And I'm certainly not going to hold it against her. Not just because she's Barack Obama's black wife, but because maybe it needed to be said.

UPDATE: I just saw a more complete quote [added above], and a video of the remarks here. I'm leaving the truncated quote up top, because I think it still stands on it's own. But when you see the context and delivery, the outrage over this seems even more ridiculous...




UPDATE 2: Apparently the video above is the one flying around most of the blogs and YouTube, and you might notice a slight "glitch" at a key moment...when she says "For the first time I'm [really] proud of my country..."

Here it that key sentence unaltered:

Monday, February 18, 2008

Three Words...

No. Fucking. Way.
LANSING – The Michigan Democratic Party today released the official allocation of pledged delegates, alternates, and committee members for Hillary Clinton and for Uncommitted based on the official January 15, 2008 Presidential Primary results certified by the Board of State Canvassers on February 4, 2008.

Overall, Clinton will have 73 pledged delegates, 16 pledged alternates, and 10 committee members, and there will be 55 uncommitted delegates, 5 uncommitted alternates, and 8 uncommitted committee members. [link]

Kiss my ass Mark Brewer and the rest of you morons running the state party. You screwed this up, and I do NOT trust you and the MDP to select delegates to send to the convention. Validating the results of an election where she was the only name on the ballot is a joke, and an insult to everyone in the state. The only way Michigan (and Florida) should be allowed at the convention is if they agree to simply divide the delegates 50/50. That's it. Split 'em or stay home. And do shit right next time. [UPDATE: Kos concurs]

The rich irony here is that if Michigan had left their primary date alone (usually in March), or gone with early February like everybody else that moved up, we would have been consequential, if not decisive. Instead, we are irrelevant. Morons.

So, no. You don't get to fuck around with this anymore.

Michigan readers (hell, everybody): Contact the MDP by phone (517-371-5410), letter (606 Townsend St., Lansing, MI 48933) or email here and let them know they suck and their plan is a crock. Here's a suggestion I got in an email. I might have to spice mine up a bit...

This delegate allocation is completely unacceptable. The election was a sham as not all of the candidates were on the ballot and we were all told it doesn't count. You need to either hold a new election, split the delegates 50/50 between the remaining candidates, or send no delegation and accept that the MDP disenfranchised the voters of Michigan and apologize.


[thanks for the heads-up, Ang]

"Let the wild rumpus start."


How can this not be great? Spike Jonze directing...Dave Eggers writing...
[link] The movie is an adaptation of the classic Maurice Sendak picture book and combines live action and CGI animation. The puppets were created by Jim Henson’s Creature Workshop.

Produced by Tom Hanks and directed by Spike Jonze. Starring Catherine Keener as the mother and James Gandolfini, Angus Sampson, Benicio Del Toro and Forest Whitaker as the Wild Things.

The adventure film uses a unique process to bring the story to life, incorporating the most dynamic elements of voice performance, live-action puppetry and computer animation.

There's another still at the link above, but if you go to this post at "I Watch Stuff" you'll find (continually updating) links in the comments to the leaked screen test clip this picture comes from. It's NOT the kid from final casting and it's not Tony Soprano's voice, but it's a taste...

Quote of the Day

From the estimable Hilzoy, who's filling in for Andrew Sullivan [link]:
Note to self: If I ever run for office and base my campaign on the idea that I am ready to lead from day one, I must remember to actually run an effective campaign.

Inspired by this article in the Washington Post:
System Worries Clinton Backers
Supporters of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton are worried that convoluted delegate rules in Texas could water down the impact of strong support for her among Hispanic voters there, creating a new obstacle for her in the must-win presidential primary contest.

Several top Clinton strategists and fundraisers became alarmed after learning of the state's unusual provisions during a closed-door strategy meeting this month, according to one person who attended.

Um, you guys might've wanted to look into that before you based your entire comeback strategy on erasing Obama's lead by winning Texas.

Hillary Clinton—"Ready on day one," but hopelessly incompetent until then.

[Original h/t Publius. More Hilzoy] If you're not reading Obsidian Wings, you should be.

--

UPDATE: More from the Clinton camp that makes me want to retch. First, Mark Penn further divides and denigrates the Obama states, and Clinton strategist Harold Ickes discusses how he (and the Clinton campaign) will fight to have Michigan and Florida seated even though he personally voted to set the rules that disqualified them.. And here's more on their superdelegate plan.

Friday, February 15, 2008

123 Book Meme

First seen at Toast's last night, the "King of Memes" once again neglected to personally tag me, so I felt I could put it off. Or skip it, but Mike did the honors...

Instructions:

1. Grab the nearest book (that is at least 123 pages long).
2. Open to p. 123.
3. Go down to the 5th sentence.
4. Type in the following 3 sentences.
5. Tag five people.


Here goes.

As human beings, we are capable of extraordinary leaps of insight and instinct. We can hold a face in memory, and we can solve a puzzle in a flash. But what Schooler is saying is that all of these abilities are incredibly fragile.


That's from "blink The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" by Malcolm Gladwell. I'm at work, and that's a book my boss gave all of us a couple years ago. It's supposed to be good, but there it sat, uncracked on my shelf until this morning, so I cannot really speak to that.

Hmm. I'll tag Mrs F., Smitty, Deb, Angie...and I was stumped for a fifth until Adam just wandered in unaware...

Intervention

The First Step Is Admitting You Have A Problem
Hello we are the Furious Family and we have clutter management issues...

Click through for the pics and self-flagellation.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Not Quite All Things Considered

Josh Marshall's TPM Campaign Wire had a link to this NPR story...
Clintons' InfoUSA Ties Scrutinized
All Things Considered, February 13, 2008 · Political campaigns spend thousands, even millions of dollars to acquire good mailing lists.

Last year, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton took the unusual step of renting out some of her lists. The transaction once again highlights the Clintons' connections to a businessman who now faces questions from the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Reports from Clinton's campaign show that on Dec. 3, it collected payment for renting out three mailing lists, the sale of which netted them $8,225.

It was an unusual transaction, according to Roger Craver, a liberal guru of the political direct-mail industry.

[...] Several sources who work in political consulting and in direct mail, who would not speak for attribution, said they were surprised by the deal, as well as its low price. [...] According to one direct-mail professional, $800,000 would have seemed like a more plausible price for a quality list.

The story then goes on to detail the relationship the CEO of this company, Vinod Gupta, has with the Clintons, and the millions, yes, millions of dollars he's paid Bill, and the $$$ he's raised for Hillary. The angle I'm reading is that this guy is sketchy—one of his companies sold lists to spam scam operation, and that there is something unseemly about the payments to Bill, flights for the Clintons, Lincoln Bedroom, blah, blah, blah...

But there's a passing mention of one of Gupta's company that NPR breezes right past, and no one else is mentioning...
Gupta's empire also includes the Opinion Research Corporation, which conducts the political polling for the television network CNN.

Um, hello? The Clinton campaign supplied a list of its donors and supporters to the company that does the polling for CNN—for no discernable reason, and for next to nothing? What reason could the Clinton campaign and a polling company possibly have for a transaction like this? Think that they could possibly skew a poll here and there if they wanted to?

Google yields a ton of stories about Gupta and the Clintons from early last summer about financial disclosures (here's one from the NY Times), but not much on this new mailing list development, and nobody's looking at the polling aspect. Maybe I'm nuts, but it sounds like it's worth "considering"...

--

NOTE: I really wanted to stay away from the Hillary-bashing, but I just don't understand why (or if) I am the only person asking about this.

UPDATE: Adding "CNN" to the Google search nets some results: a brief reference by NY Times, and a dedicated MyDD post on the CNN tie here.

Links

OVERSIGHT IS AN OVERSIGHT
John Cole perfectly encapsulates the fucking joke that is Congress with this. Christ. When I read stuff like that, it makes me dream of "Debt of Honor" scenarios.

SUPERDELEGATE DOUBTS
Rahm Emanuel's brother doesn't trust him to pick the Democratic nominee.

JUDGEMENT = STRATEGY
Matt Yglesias makes a point about good policy and judgement in foresight leading to good politics and strategy in hindsight.

PRIVACY vs. SECURITY
The government would have you believe it's a zero-sum game. It's not.

PRESERVE THE CLIMATE OF FEAR
You might remember a classic Onion piece from when Bush took office, “Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over” [link]. Last month, they put out the perfect Op-Ed to bookend the Bush Era.
...Not so very long ago, we winced every time we saw someone with facial hair or a backpack. Average people were terrified of opening their mail for fear of getting a face full of anthrax. Those were perhaps our country's greatest days. Yet that once-phobic spirit that defined our times is drastically changing.

Today, people are making eye contact with strangers on the street. They are whistling on subway platforms, strolling down sidewalks, and generally behaving as if they do not feel they could be killed at any moment. [...] It breaks my heart to see the land I love fall into such a state of non-panic.

My God, what have we become?

Depressingly hilarious.


--

There. 99% Obama-free.

Obamassacre


And I was actually worried about Virginia and a setback today. Wow. Even more convincing than his weekend haul.

In the words of Chief Brody, Hillary's "gonna need a bigger boat." (RIP Roy Schieder)

No idea what the 12 stories tall Washing-ton means? Watch this.

Dick of the Week: Officer Salvatore Rivieri



Hard to blame the kid here, he probably thought it was a pizza delivery guy stopping to yell at him. Skater Eric's lucky Officer Penis didn't tase him. As is the kid with the bals to hold a camera on this maniac.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Too Pissed For a Clever Headline

The FISA Court and statute is no longer the exclusive governing authority for how surveillance can be conducted in America. It’s wide fucking open now.

Oh, and telecoms get immunity.

Fucked over retroactively and going forward. Nice job Reid and the rest of you fucking clowns.

And a special “Fuck You!” to Hillary for making sure she got a 21-day jump on building her Texas sandbag wall and skipping the vote altogether.

Also, Debbie Stabenow is now twelve feet down she is so fucking dead to me.

Much more on this to come. Trust me.

Monday, February 11, 2008

“Deserves Got Nothin to Do With It”

First of all, let me get this out of the way—I am NOT opposed to the death penalty. I'm not a "hang 'em high" guy, but a fairly administered, properly tried and convicted, and humanely executed prisoner convicted of a heinous crime is not a problem for me. Sorry if that's contrary to the rest of my (or your) liberalness, but that's the way I feel. What I am opposed to is the manner in which the death penalty is employed in this country...racial bias, bullshit trial processes (ie: Texas), and horrendously cruel procedures. Death rows are littered with innocent men, and I believe there should be a moratorium on the death penalty nationwide until every one of those problems is addressed. So here's why I bring this up...
US may ask death for 9-11 suspects

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon is planning to charge six detainees at Guantanamo Bay for the Sept. 11 terror attacks on America and seek the death penalty.

[...] Military prosecutors also will ask for the death penalty for the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans, according to a second official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the charges had not been announced.

Among those held at Guantanamo is Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the attack six years ago in which hijacked planes were flown into buildings in New York and Washington. Five others are expected to be named in sworn charges.

"The department has been working diligently to prepare cases and bring charges against a number of individuals who have been involved in some of the most grievous acts of violence and terror against the United States and our allies..."

[...] The men would be tried in the military tribunal system that was set up by the administration shortly after the start of the counterterror war and has been widely criticized for it rules on legal representation for suspects, hearings behind closed doors and past allegations of inmate abuse at Guantanamo. Original rules allowed the military to exclude the defendant from his own trial, permitted statements made under torture, and forbade appeal to an independent court; but the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the system in 2006 and a revised plan has included some additional rights...

This is crap. NONE of these guys should be executed. Period. Bush has made such a mockery of the judicial process in handling every aspect of this that I'm not even sure the words "judicial process" apply. It is a kangaroo court in every sense of the phrase. Coerced confessions, torture, no evidence, secret witnesses, trials without the defendants, no appeals, no review, no disclosure. There is no reason to believe any of the evidence, testimony or verdicts in any of this. None.

There is no doubt in my mind that people involved in the 9/11 attacks deserve the death penalty—if properly and fairly tried and convicted. None of these men were. None of them.

This is a feel-good, red-meat-to-the-base exercise and political move on the part of the Administration to impact the election, give the appearance of progress and closure, and an issue to use as a wedge. There is nothing about justice associated with it.

Thanks for fucking that all up too, Mr President.

Brrrrrrrr


I just finished an assignment, it's late, I'm beat, and it is goddamned cold out. The last thing I want to do right now is walk the dog. I hope he can hold it...

I Promise...

...to blog about something other than Barack Obama kicking Hillary's ass across the country this week. Quit yer bitchin' and scroll down and watch the Bob Knight video while you wait...

A Posse


Shepard Fairey, the man behind the not-actually-very-famous "Andre the Giant Has a Posse" and "OBEY" artwork and other graphic-type things did some posters on his own for Obama (above). He did a limited edition print and and sold em all out, then the campaign got ahold of him and asked him to do another version (shown at right). They are giving them out at rallys, etc., but I cannot seem to find a place to order one...aside from the ebay gougers asking $300 and up...

Nerd that I am, I would fucking kill for one of these...

(photos: Kyle Oldoerp OBEY site)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

3 For 3


Early in the evening yesterday I was remarking to somebody at a party that the two candidates would trade close victories, and it would be hard for either to blow the other out and grab big chunks of delegates. I noted that many thought the upcoming states favored Obama, but I expected something along the line of winning two out of three, say, 53-47...

I was NOT expecting this:
[WaPo] With 99 percent of the precincts reporting, Obama led Clinton, 58 percent to 36 percent, in Louisiana. Obama romped to victory earlier in the evening in Nebraska, 68 percent to 32 percent, and then overwhelmed Clinton in Washington, 68 percent to 31 percent, with 96 percent of the caucus vote counted.

I mean, those are ass-kickings. Very impressive. Of course, I still expect swings and reversals in momentum, but the narrative is undeniable. I have to wonder what the Clinton camp does to counter this...

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Semi-Colin

Personally, I think Colin Powell's credibility and integrity are in serious doubt after his role in the run-up to the Iraq War. In many ways, his sins are the worst because he knew more than most, tried to impact the decisions, but in the end went along with it all, lending a veneer of credibilty the Bushies would have lacked without him. So, no, I am NOT a fan.

But, for some reason, he is still regarded by many as a knowledgable elder statesman (for a Republican tool), so if he can't come out and support the GOP nominee, and has this to say, i'm happy to repeat it...
“And as I said earlier, I will vote for the candidate I think can do the best job for America, whether that candidate is a Republican, a Democrat, or an Independent.”

Powell also offered praise for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, calling him an “exciting person on the political stage.

“He has energized a lot of people in America,” said Powell, who briefly weighed his own run for the White House in the mid-1990s. “He has energized a lot of people around the world. And so I think he is worth listening to and seeing what he stands for.”

[...]“I will ultimately vote for the person I believe brings to the American people the kind of vision the American people want to see for the next four years,” he said. “A vision that reaches out to the rest of the world, that starts to restore confidence in America, that starts to restore favorable ratings to America. Frankly, we've lost a lot in recent years.”

Not thanks to you, douche. But it sounds like Obama to me...If he says all that and ends up endorsing McCain, he's an idiot and right back on the shitlist

Links

THE VIEW FROM MY WINDOW
Anybody who reads Andrew Sullivan might be familiar with his (and others) regular feature "The View From Your Window"—readers send in photos, and he posts one very day or two. I sent one in on 2/2, and he ran my photo Thursday. (NOTE: Not actually MY window...)

SUPERMAN vs LUKE SKYWALKER
Would a light saber harm the Man of Steel. My immediate answer is "no." These nerds discuss—in hypothetical scientific glory—and reach a conclusion.

BEST CAR ADS EVER
The commenters at Jalopnik are submitting their favorite car ads. Some really good ones, some real flashbacks and somebody submitted this this anti-car ad...



REVENGE OF THE WAGON
It's no secret I'm a big sportswagon fan. Bring that shit back! This Accord Tourer concept is fucking sweet. I'll take it. In this color please...


Also a big fan of the past generation Mazda6, but the next one is really slick.

But if I had a job that allowed me to buy it, and a commute that made it worthwhile, I'd be cruising a Jetta SportWagen CleanTDI. Saw it at the car show—40s around town, 50s on the highway. Awesome. (NOTE: Looked better in person than these pics)

I have a TON of car show pics and I've been mulling over a big post on that, we'll see if I get around to it...

Friday, February 08, 2008

Kid F Update


(Bustin' out the ole "Pig and Pascee" for the wagon ride to the O.R.)

SHE DID GREAT
Ruby's surgery went well, and we got home late this afternoon. The doctor went ahead and made a more aggressive correction that will hopefully allow us to avoid another procedure, or at least prolong the need for it. This time the muscles adjusted were the inner ones (towards the nose) and the redness (bloodiness) of her eyes is much less pronounced than last time. She is temporarily "cross-eyed" but that will self-adjust over the next couple weeks. And, bonus, we have drops for her eyes unstead of the dreaded greasy cream—much better! She is a totally bad-ass kid and never cried or complained, and seems to be managing any pain with Motrin and Tylenol, and is finally asleep for the night...

I am very proud of her.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Kid Furious


Today's the day. Kid F has to go in for a second operation on her eyes. In brief, Kid has a problem with her eyes drifting out (sort of like what most people think of as "lazy eye"—but different). The procedure is basically repositioning muscles that control the eye to "force" it to point the right way. It's actually an overcorrection, and the theory is that young kids will train their brains to take over and control the eye to maintain full, binocular vision—otherwise, eventually the brain "picks" one eye and shuts off the other one. An explanation of the eye muscle surgery is here.

She had the first procedure last year, and it was not completely successful—she still exhibits the drift. So they are doing it again, and may have to do it again at some point in the future. We're hoping not, but realistically, it's likely.

The procedure is minimally invasive, and not too complicated (for eye surgery). It takes two hours, and she has to be out the whole time—that's the scarier part. And the after-care is a nightmare. She needs to have a steroid/antibiotic cream put in her eyes repeatedly—and it did NOT go well last time. Hopefully she'll be more reasonable at five than she was at four...

Send your positive energy, in whatever form you choose, towards Ann Arbor and my little girl—we'll use some and spread the rest around.

--

Here's the pre-op post from last year, and the recap. Normal blogging will resume when things calm down. We should be home Thursday afternoon, and I will update when possible. Check over at Mrs F's too.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Pinch-hitter

I'm letting Andrew Sullivan do my blogging for me (I hope he doesn't mind). This post is fantastic, top to bottom. I agree with every pixel.


Perhaps the most telling critique of Obama, to my mind, is his lack of executive experience. [...] I asked him directly last year why a voter should back someone who has never run anything bigger than a legislative office. He responded by pointing to his nascent campaign. He observed out that he was up against the full Clinton establishment, all the chits she and her husband had acquired over the years, and the apparatus they had constructed within the party. He had to build a national campaign from scratch, raise money, staff an extremely complex electoral map, and make key decisions on spending and travel. He asked me to judge his executive skills by observing how he was managing a campaign.

By that standard, who isn't impressed? A first term senator - a black urban liberal - raised more money, and continues to raise much more money, than Senator Clinton. More to the point, the money he has raised has not come from the well-connected fat-cats who do things like donate to the Clinton library. His base is much wider, broader and internet-based than hers. It has many more small donors.

Now look at the strategy he laid out last year, as he explained it to me and others. Iowa was the key. If he didn't win Iowa, it was over. But if he could win Iowa, he would prove the principle that a black man could transcend the racial issue, helping in New Hampshire, and then also helping him peel off what was then majority black support for the Clintons in South Carolina. Then his strategy was meticulous organization - and you saw that in Iowa, as well as yesterday's caucus states. Everything he told me has been followed through. And the attention to detail - from the Alaska caucus to the Nevada cooks - has been striking.

Now consider the psychological and emotional challenges of this campaign. It has been brutal. It has included many highly emotional moments - and occasions when racism and sexism and all sorts of hot-button issues have emerged. Then there was the extraordinary spectacle of a former president and spouse bringing the full weight of the Democratic establishment and the full prestige of two terms in the White House to dismiss some of Obama's arguments as a "fairy tale" and frame him as another Jesse Jackson.

How did the candidates deal with this? The vastly more experienced and nerves-of-steel Clinton clearly went through some wild mood-swings. Obama gave an appearance at least of preternatural coolness under fire, a steady message that others came to mimic, and a level of oratory that still stuns this longtime debater. In the middle of this very hot zone, he exhibits a coolness and steeliness that is a mark of presidential timber. He played tough - but he didn't play nasty. Keeping the high road in a contest like this - without ever playing the race card or the victim card - is an achievement. Building a movement on top of that is more impressive still. So far, he has combined Romney's money with Clinton's organizational skills and Ron Paul's grass-roots enthusiasm. No other campaign has brought so many dimensions into play.

And he won Missouri.

(Photo: Obama at the Apollo by Hiroko Masuike/Getty.)


My only contribution is the spiffy headline layout and the bold emphasis.

Super Wednesday

I have boatloads of shit to do today before I take the rest of the week off for Kid's surgery (a second procedure of this), so my quick thoughts on Super Tuesday (based on when I went to bed, not anything I read this morning) are this...

McCain is the GOP nominee. And he will take Huckabee as VP. Bank on it. HE needs him to shore up the party, and he pretty much owes him for knocking Romney out.

Romney is finished.

Obama had a huge night, but needed to land a knockout blow. I think an effective draw is okay at this point, but he needs to start damaging Hillary. He needs to dominate to ensure a nomination because I don't trust the delegates. I think momentum is on his side and he will continue to broaden his appeal, while Hillary might be at her ceiling.

Hillary held her territory and standing as frontrunner. Barely. She is losing momentum, so her lack of a decisive win might be more damaging going forward than it is for Obama.

That's it for now. More on all of this, and Kid Furious later.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Again With the Mandates, Professor?

As long as Paul Krugman keeps cranking out these columns slamming Obama for failing to meet his progressivism double-standard, I'll keep telling him to drink up.

Yesterday, the good Professor again mounted his steed and aimed his lance at Barack Obama, in defense of Hillary's supposedly superior plan.

Krugman:
But as I’ve tried to explain in previous columns, there really is a big difference between the candidates’ approaches. And new research, just released, confirms what I’ve been saying: the difference between the plans could well be the difference between achieving universal health coverage — a key progressive goal — and falling far short...

[...] Mr. Gruber['s research] finds that a plan without mandates, broadly resembling the Obama plan, would cover 23 million of those currently uninsured, at a taxpayer cost of $102 billion per year. An otherwise identical plan with mandates would cover 45 million of the uninsured — essentially everyone — at a taxpayer cost of $124 billion. Over all, the Obama-type plan would cost $4,400 per newly insured person, the Clinton-type plan only $2,700.

Well that sounds pretty cut and dry. Maybe Krugman is right.

But wait, look closely—PK isn't comparing Obama's plan to Hillary's plan—he's comparing a plan of unknown similarity to Obama's plan with one that doesn't even exist—that same "Obama-like" plan, plus mandates—it's got nothing to do with Hillary's plan. I call bullshit.

And those per person costs are not per insured, they are per newly insured. So, they are wildly effected by the numbers enrolled, not actual costs. And how do this "research" conclude the differing numbers of newly insured?

It "assumes." In other words, makes it up.
[link] Professor Gruber writes: "In particular I assume that 95% of those who would not voluntarily choose to insure are forced to insure through the mandate."

Massachusetts has yet to enroll more than half the uninsured in it's mandated plan, so how does Gruber "assume" near-perfect enrollment? Especially considering Clinton has not given ANY indication yet how she plans to enforce a mandate?

Krugman goes on to make some more valid points about the politics of all of this, and yes, I wish Obama's plan was more aggressive—hell, I wish they were both talking single-payer—but I've read plenty of counterpoints that make Obama's plan seem every bit as viable as Clinton's, and they've done a better job of doing so without (that I can tell) making shit up out of whole cloth.

Quit with the fucking litmus test and the stretching the truth, Professor. It's speaks poorly of your "conscience as a liberal."

[via Mark Kleiman]

An additional critique on Krugman here. [via Sullivan]

General, Motors

Coach Bob Knight abruptly retired from coaching last night. Always classy, Knight bailed on his Texas Tech team in midseason right at a crucial stretch heading towards the tournament.

The winningest coach in history, Knight is credited with developing the motion offense and is acknowledged as one of the great coaches of all time. Oh, and he was a hall of fame asshole as well.

Watch out for flying chairs, clubs and obcenities if you're on the golf course in Indiana...



Deadspin's Will Leitch has a good "tribute."

John Feinstein on Knight on NPR this morning.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Class Dismissed

"...why are fans of New England teams so reviled?" a commenter at twoglasses asks. I posted a long-ass answer that I'll reprise here, but really boils down to three words...

Because they're dicks.

Seriously? It IS because they're dicks, but it's a more complex story than that. Fans in New England no longer no their place, and it's due to success. they've become the equivalent of the "ugly American."

I grew up in Connecticut—among the Sox-Yanks border wars. My dad was a Red Sox fan (but, ironically a Giants fan), and I was actually taught how to score a baseball game by my grandmother of all people. My grandfather was actually featured on local television after the 2004 World Series as one of those fans who never thought they'd live to see the Sox win again.

Because of that background, I think I'm a bit more old-school than typical fans these days. A little less emotional, a little more reserved. Particularly in trying to be somewhat gracious in victory—at least NOT being a complete prick.

I always thought Fenway Park contained the superior fan. I went to school in NY and lived for years in NYC and that conclusion was borne out of years of experience. Yankee fans in Boston were treated to more or less good-natured ribbing, while Sox fans in NY should fear for their safety (or at least their laundry).

As the Yankees latest dynasty took shape, that dynamic changed. Sox fans became bitter. Ugly. While in NY, perhaps watered down by bandwagon-jumpers, Yankee fans seemed to be able to relax, rise above. I suppose that's easy(ier) when you win every freaking year. But I could sit in box seats, upper deck, wherever in the Bronx wearing a visitors cap or jersey and it seemed to be no big deal.

To be clear, I fucking HATED Yankee fans when I lived in NY, and much of that city's phony embrace of the team drove me nuts.

Meanwhile, in Boston, it was different. After losing the ALCS in 2003 in the Aaron Boone game, I was positively despondent. I didn't know if I could ever watch again. I caused me to reassess. How important is this shit? But to other fans, it was like losing to Bush in 2004. Anger and hate built. Boiled over. Winning the World Series in 2004 was a fantastic, cathartic moment in my life. Much of the country seemed along for the ride, it was great. But too many fans in New England (Boston particularly) reacted with a classless, jeering "in your face!" attitude.

Celebrate? Sure. Talk shit to and about the team that has handed you your ass repeatedly throughout history ? Not so much. Not for eternity anyway. But that's what they did. And I find it ugly. So, apparently, does everybody else.

As for the Pats, this was just happening on an exponential level, because the success was that much greater. Unlike my hereditary Sox fandom, my affection for the Pats was entirely self-installed. And for years it sucked. That gave me perspective. I was there on the way up—freezing my ass off on a fucking metal bench as plucky Bledsoe-led teams vanquished dragons... Each year going a little bit further... For Brady's emergence...

But as Bill Simmons observed, the "fun kid" Tom Brady has been replaced by a Belichicked android—a perfect fucking emotionless Terminator on the field, who removed suspense from games, and off-field, a guy who gets chicks pregnant and leaves for the next supermodel—in short, a douche. The kind of guy who deserves disdain, and if he were not a good-looking white guy, would probably get some. I find it hard to get behind that guy. He's not a lunchpail quarterback like Steve Grogan, or even Bledsoe (by comparison) or a likable character like Big Ben or Romo—he's a pretty boy fashion model. He's probably even a Republican.

Doing the salary cap league with the guys at twoglasses this season was another eye-opener. The Pats are in many ways like fantasy team to me now. No longer human. And as this "perfect" season wore on I tired of the hype.

But the assholes in Boston reveled in it.

So it is that the Patriots have become the team that New England fans always liked to hate—the dynasty, the favorite. And the New England fans were graceless in that role because they are not accustomed to it. And when something like yesterday happens, the schadenfreude is like a damn tsunami for the rest of the country.

Bushonomics

We can't get rid of these clowns fast enough...
[NYT link] The Pentagon on Monday will unveil its proposed 2009 budget of $515.4 billion. If it is approved in full, annual military spending, when adjusted for inflation, will have reached its highest level since World War II.

That new Defense Department budget proposal, which is to pay for the standard operations of the Pentagon and the military but does not include supplemental spending on the war efforts or on nuclear weapons, is an increase in real terms of about 5 percent over this year.

Overall since coming to office, the administration has increased baseline military spending by 30 percent...

[...] Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Admiral Mullen have said military spending should not drop below 4 percent of the national economy. “I really do believe this 4percent floor is important,” Admiral Mullen said. “It’s really important, given the world we’re living in, given the threats that we see out there, the risks that are, in fact, global, not just in the Middle East.”

[...] “The secretary believes that whenever we transition away from war supplementals, the Congress should dedicate 4 percent of our G.D.P. to funding national security,” Mr. Morrell said. “That is what he believes to be a reasonable price to stay free and protect our interests around the world.”

Over half a trillion dollars—not including the war? Fucking absurd. Almost as absurd as the idea of tying the funding of anything to G.D.P. Unless The Decider (or anybody else) is willing to index government tax revenues to G.D.P. as well.

If you want to set a floor percentage of the budget for defense, fine, but this idiotic.

UPDATE: Hilzoy did a much better job on this the other day...including this chart (via Ezra):


Ezra adds: "Our spending is 43 percent of the total. Not the total on that chart. The total of the world."

All of the candidates running for PResident are calling for various increases of some sort (Barack Obama included, apparently) This is unacceptable. You want to shift money from ridiculous weapons programs into human costs? Fine, do it. YOu want to add troops? Great, do it at the expense of whatever fucking nuclear weapons Bush is still buying. There is no reason we should be spending anything close to this much of our money on this. Not while the rest of the country falls apart. Fuck that. Not EVER.

And don't give me any shit about "what about at a time of war?" Remember, this doesn't even include the fucking war!!!

Super Choke


I'd be remiss if I didn't put something up about the Super Bowl...and I don't want to be accused of ignoring it because my team lost. Badly.

First, let's get this out of the way—undefeated regular seasons mean jack if you can't close it out. The Pats might as well have gone 12-4 or whatever if this was going to happen. The only thing "for the ages" about this season now is the fact that they got beat by the fifth seed Wild Card team.

Second. I didn't care about this game. Don't believe me? I took the opportunity to go to a deserted Lowe's and Home Depot early in the game, and never thought twice about it. I knew I'd catch some of the game here and there, and I TiVo'd the fourth quarter and watched it later since it was close, but I'm just not invested in this team anymore.

I got as sick as everybody else of all the hype this year. Belichick and the New England fans have become insufferable, and I consider this loss a nice karmic payback for "Spygate."

I'm just sorry Junior Seau worked his ass off to come back and lose, I hate that New York fans (not Giant fans specifically, but NY fans of anything, period) get to celebrate, and most of all, I wanted those bitter old Dolphins to STFU. But that's about it.

Eli strapped on a set that I didn't think existed in the Manning family combined, and he marched his team down the field in, well, Brady-like fashion and put this one away. David Tyree made a ridiculous catch after Manning somehow escaped a freaking 10-car pileup to heave it down the field, and Plaxico Buress got the last word on Tom Brady in the trash exchange.

Congratulations to the only Giant fan I can think of off the top of my head, Fridge, and to the morons back in New England who have gotten to the point of making Yankee fans look restrained, you had it coming.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Wow.

Watch this.

How fucking cool is that? That is hands-down the coolest campaign ad/video ever conceived and executed. It might be the glossiest, glitziest, least-policy-related thing ever, but it is amazing.

After watching that, and learning that Obama's rally in Boise today of 15,000 people—seven times the total number of Idahoans who caucused in 2004—can you honestly tell me that something isn't happening here? Forget Bill Clinton versus Bob Dole—Barack Obama stands to make John McCain look as lively and viable as Bob Dole's right hand.

UPDATE: So that video is 4 minutes and 30 seconds long...and Obama raised $32 million in January, from 250,000 new donors (me among them), is that enough cash for a halftime ad tomorrow night?

Just wondering.

UPDATE 2: I found a YouTube version that The original site has a better version I can embed, the quality is equal to the link above, but the screen is smaller but I suggest clicking above and watching/listening to the higher quality version instead if you can. Yes you can.



UPDATE 3: I just can't let it go. That thing needs to be shown during the Superbowl. It is a game-changing, back-breaking play. There is no bigger audience, there is no bigger moment. Talk about "the fierce urgency of now." Super-Tuesday is in 36 hours, and the environment surrounding the SuperBowl is like none other. hundreds of millions of people are watching. People who don't give a shit about the game watch for the ads. The ads! All everybody talks about the next day are the ads.

Picture the Superbowl party when this video comes on. Everyone stops to see what this ad is. You can't blow that video off. If you aren't moved, or at least tweaked by that, you're hopeless (literally). There is no downside here. Anbody who reacts negatively isn't voting for him anyhow, and the sheer number of people, like Midge in the comments, who will be left thinking, "Wow. I gotta find out more about this Obama guy" is what pushes him over the top to the nomination.

The best part? It's not even an Obama ad. His name is never mentioned or shown. He doesn't need to spoil the mood by "approving this message." Hell, John Legend alone could bankroll placing this thing, so the campaign doesn't need to break the bank running it. What the hell is dipdive.com anyway? Is this their ad, and Obama is merely a (willing) prop?

Just you imagine if THAT VIDEO was what everyone was talking about for the 36 hours and what happens going into the day when half the states have primaries?

This could be the either the greatest moment in advertising ever if it works, or it could be the greatest ever opportunity missed if they don't try it. I can only hope that the fact this came out yesterday is somehow indicative of this being a Superowl ad that leaked out.

UPDATE 4: Apparently FOX was not allowing any political ads during the national broadcast of the game, but Obama placed local ads in key markets. Ads that drew good marks from the pundits, etc. but just felt flat to me compared to this...

Saturday, February 02, 2008

A Round for the House


It's been a very busy week for loudmouths and idiots. So many in fact, that I think I should just order pitchers of STFU to keep my tab down. Bottoms up:

N.O.W.
The N.Y. state chapter of NOW threw an absolute fit over Ted Kennedy's endorsement of Obama, calling it "the ultimate betrayal to women." And that's just for starters. Go here for the complete and completely unhinged rant.

NEW HAMPSHIRE
The editors of The The New Hampshire Union-Leader are all bent out of shape about Hillary's play for the Florida delegates—first campaigning for them, and then trying to seat them. Everything they say is true and correct, but guess what? I don't want to hear you bitching about the primaries, New Hampshire, you're the fucking problem. Hopefully your days of importance are over, and this bullshit primary setup is trashed. Then you can go back to doing what you do the other 1,460 days between elections—being the poor man's Vermont.

HILLARY
Just because those Green White Mountain yokels are shutting the fuck up, doesn't mean I'm letting you off. All of this "Changing the rules once the game's underway and you have a lead" crap has got to stop. You are rapidly becoming that which you seek to replace

ARLEN SPECTER
I actually thought this was a joke when I saw it. Snarlin' Arlen wants NFL Commissioner Goodell to come before Congress and explain why the League destroyed the Patriots "spygate" tapes. Specter went as far as declaring this action "analogous to the CIA destruction of tapes." Yeah. It's just like that. The Patriots violated the countless laws and international treaties when they sent a guy out to walk around with a camcorder at the Meadowlands. Luckily for Goodell and Belichick, ole Arlen never follows through on his threats...

PAUL KRUGMAN
Look. I love the Professor as much as the next guy, but for some reason he's got a stick up his ass about Obama. Monday's "Lessons of 1992" installment was the most convoluted anti-Obama rationale yet: See, Bill Clinton already tried this message of hope, post-partisan approach, and it didn't work. So Obama's got nothing to offer. Better go with...the Clintons? Take a vacation until the general election, okay Paul?

UPDATE: NANCY PELOSI
[c/o Toast] Madame Speaker is sounding off about President Bush's latest signing statement:
"I reject the notion in his signing statement that he can pick and choose which provisions of this law to execute," said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California. "His job, under the Constitution, is to faithfully execute the law - every part of it - and I expect him to do just that."

No, granted, this specific statement is among the most blatently unconstitutional assertions of CIC power yet, but I still don't want to hear it Nancy. Bush has been doing this all along, and you have been letting him. In seven years he has chosen to exempt himself from more laws than all previous Presidents combined. All of them. As in two hundred years worth. So don't get all feisty about it now, you have no intention of doing anything about it, so do as the mug says.