Monday, June 30, 2008

The Surrogate: Clark Puts On a Clinic—UPDATED

I am an unabashed member of the Wes Clark Fan Club, and this is the reason why: Watch Clark as he buries Bush, Lieberman, McCain and dismantles the incoming crap from Schiffer all while making the best possible case for Obama with ease and clarity.

He needs to be front and center as a leading surrogate for Obama. Nobody does it better. I would give him strong consideration for VP (brief bio here) and failing that, he certainly deserves a prominent role in Obama's cabinet or on his policy team. The guy fucking rocks.

Oh, and no, Bob, you stupid jackass, getting shot down does NOT qualify you for the office of President. A pathetic performance by a guy who usually does better.

[h/t Sullivan for the source but not the substance. Sully misses the target here and conflates an attack on McCain by a blogger with Clark's legitimate responses to Schiffer's questions. Though Sullivan is on the Obama bandwagon, he conitues to pay far more respect to McCain than he deserves.]

UPDATE: I viewed this video without any knowledge of the hyped-up "controversy" about these remarks and accusations of a larger swift-boat campaign against McCain.

I didn't see anything wrong, innaccurate or unfair in Clark's comments, and the comment that is being used to crucify Clark, “I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president...” was in direct response to Bob Schieffer asserting Obama "hasn't ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down." Those were Shieffer's fucking words NOT Clark's!

Are you fucking kidding me? Is the level of bubble-wrap the media is going to place around McCain for the rest of the race?

One of the things Digby mentioned in her post was that Republican blacks (Powell, Rice) are inoculated from criticism, while Obama has everything to prove. Obviously this applies to war veterans as well: In 2004, John Kerry's wartime record was fair game for lies and media-driven slander, yet John McCain's record can't even be accurately addressed in response to a direct question?

This double-standard is bullshit.

UPDATE 2: Obama, or his campaign anyway, hangs Clark out to dry. Fucking pathetic. dday at Hullabaloo:
And this is why people get upset with politics. Wes Clark makes a perfectly legitimate statement and can't find a single national Democrat to back him up because they're all a bunch of scared little kittens. They got used by the combination of the conservative outrage machine and the media. It's a filthy little game and they fall for it time after time, and seemingly never learn.

Clark shows the Democrats how to effectively fight back, and they re-pay him by running and hiding. This is exactly what I just talked about this morning. Democrats only know how to show strength by sacrificing one of their own, and falling into line behind the opposition.

I am absolutely disgusted with the Obama campaign right now.

Reading Assignment

Two fantastic posts that sum up the conflict over Obama and FISA. Conflict? Yes, the one within my head and the one playing out on the blogosphere...

First Glenn Greenwald. Greenwald should be everybody's go-to guy on all matters Constitutional and law-talkin'. A phenomenal legal mind, Greenwald can at times get bogged down in legal details and be a bit cumbersome to read. He also is perhaps a bit tin-eared on the politics at time as such a Constitutional purist. But when he's right, he's usually right, and he has been leading the charge on FISA. I've nodded along with everything he's had to say on this, but today he really hits it out of the park.

Greenwald argues that running to the "center" on national security is a flawed and outdated strategy—because where they're running is actually away from the center, and the Democrats have proof of that right in front of them...
In the 2006 midterm election, Karl Rove repeatedly made clear that the GOP strategy rested on making two National Security issues front and center in the midterm campaign: Democrats' opposition to warrantless eavesdropping and their opposition to "enhanced interrogation techniques" against Terrorists. Not only did the Democrats swat away those tactics, taking away control of both houses of Congress in 2006, but more unusually, not a single Democratic incumbent in either the House or Senate -- not one -- lost an election.

Not only did they not lose seats, they regained both Houses and kicked GOP incumbents to the curb in bright red districts. So what the fuck are they doing now? Read the whole thing.


Next is Digby at Hullaballoo. While Greenwald eviscerates the current strategy, the always insightful Digby starts to divine the "why." She posits that it has nothing to do with FISA or any particular issue, and agrees this isn't a move to the center—they're already right of the center—but alleges that it's really part of a larger repudiation of the liberal base.

DC Democrats, through an incestuous/symbiotic relationship with the media mistakenly treat people like Russert, Matthews and Dowd as the "Everyman/woman." And come general election-time, they all regard the party base as "elites" that the Democratic candidate needs to distance themselves from:
And that raises an important question: if these rich, pampered celebrities are spokesmen for the Everyman, then who are the elites? Well, they're us, the liberal base of the Democratic party. And that's what this "run to the center" is really all about --- putting as much distance between the politicians and us as they can. It's not about being "serious" on national security or crime or family values. It's not even about appealing to swing voters. It's about repudiating liberalism.

[...] Repudiating liberalism is a symbolic gesture required of Democrats by the political establishment to prove that they are not elitists. And it goes beyond mere posturing on gay marriage or abortion. The national security challenge is always not to appear to be "an appeaser." The way you prove that is by refusing to appease the Democratic base...The entire construct is based upon Democrats distancing themselves from their most ardent supporters (which is quite convenient for Republicans.

Exactly. For twenty-plus years the fucking dumb-ass Democrats have somehow decided that a show of "strength" is not standing up to the opposition and for what is right—but to adopt the enemy's framework and instead repudiate your die-hard supporters.

How they cannot escape this circle is beyond me. The media and the GOP are laughing all the way to the bank and into office, the Democratic base ends up kicked in the teeth again and the party as a whole ends up looking weak, indecisive and disorganized and find themselves further marginalized and out of power. The ONLY time this pattern did not occur was in 2006—as Greenwald mentioned—the year we avoided that trap and kicked ass.

They appear to have learned NOTHING from that. And as far as Pelosi, Reid, Hoyer and all the other losers I think that's correct. They cannot shake free from their Daschle/Gephartian cautiousness.

I think Obama IS aware of it, and like many of his supporters we look to him to shake the party out of this stupor. That's what makes his collapse on FISA so disappointing. First, here's Digby:
That being the case, I'm not sure it's ever been realistic to expect Barack Obama to be the guy to challenge all this. He carries with him the strongest cultural signifiers a Democrat can carry to make the political establishment freak out: he's young, he's from big city politics, he's elite educated and, of course, he's black. As much as the "Everymen" like to think of themselves as beyond something silly like race, unless a black person is a Republican like Powell or Rice, he is automatically suspect [...] Under the system as it exists today, you can hardly be surprised that the first black Democratic nominee would be reluctant to break much more new ground than he already has.

I think there is a lot to that. But I also think Obama's appeal and success is driven by his resistance to status quo, and he's giving too much ground with this—I don't think it gains him much in the wider electorate, and I KNOW it hurts the enthusiasm of his base. Sure you want to pass up that public financing, Senator?

Digby looks at at the bigger picture, and notes that Democrats are spending their political capital on a huge shift by nominating a black man, and there is a price to pay for that...
Democrats have decided to use some of their political advantage of the moment to advance something important: the full equality of African Americans. In America, with our history, the symbolism of that means something quite real. But there is a trade off involved. He has less freedom of movement than someone like a John Edwards might have had...

[...] We chose serious symbolic change that has deep cultural meaning over serious ideological change that has deep political meaning. There's nothing inherently wrong with that --- the effects of such things are far reaching and incredibly important for the advancement of our society. You can't forget that Barack himself was born at a time when Jim Crow was still enshrined in the south. This is huge. But nothing comes free and having a politically moderate president at a time when a more explicit progressivism might have gotten a boost is the price we pay. The Village will only tolerate so much change at one time. If we want real political change, it's time to change the Village.

I think that's a bit of a cop-out. Digby is right to a point, but I don't think it's that stark of a choice. Both can be had. At least on some issues, and this should be one of them. And I have to believe given his druthers, Obama agrees. He has been adept at negotiating just about every minefield thus far, and I think his rhetorical gifts would allow him to adjust the conventional wisdom on this issue in particular. But for some reason there is this abrupt reversal.

What Greenwald and Digby both fail to mention is what I believe is happening around Obama on the FISA issue. I don't think he wanted to deal with this now, nor do I think this is the position he wants to take, but he has no choice. Reid and Pelosi both had control of when this issue came up and they made it happen NOW, and both allowed the ground to shift beneath Obama's feet. Particularly in the House, which until last week, has always been the stopper on Telecom Immunity. There has to be a reason this is happening, and I suspect it is because certain Democratic leaders need the immunity as badly as the administration and the telecoms.

Obama is already tasked with piecing together the party after the bitter primary season, and he cannot run against John McCain AND the Democrats in Congress. He's screwed. There are others (Dodd, Feingold, etc) who are valiantly, but futilely fighting this, but I think Obama entered into a truce when the superdelegates stepped in to decide the nomination—and the cover his support would provide Congress was the price.

Am I absolving Obama? NO. In fact, I'm still working to change his mind, but I don't really believe it's going to work. It's the larger mindset around him that got us into this mess that needs changing.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

FISA—Send a Message

Join the this group at Obama's campaign site to send him a message that we are paying attention to his FISA vote, and are not happy with his planned support.

I don't think it will change his vote—now that he's come out and announced his intention, I'm not sure he'll publicly reverse—but it is important to let the campaign know that they have a continued obligation to the people that made him the nominee.

NOTE: If you've donated already, I think you will have an account already...

Makes Grampa Simpson look like Al Gore

You've probably heard that John McCain is a self-professed "computer illiterate" that relies completely on his wife to turn this "confounded thing on, dagnabbit"...Is it a problem that McCain not only didn't invent the internet, but is actually barely aware of it?

Recently McCain's spokesman was forced to defend his candidate:
“You don’t actually have to use a computer to understand how it shapes the country. John McCain is aware of the Internet,” says Soohoo. “This is a man who has a very long history of understanding on a range of issues.”

I can't think of anything better to say than Greg at The Talent Show:
The fact that McCain would consider the internet one of a range of “issues” is hilariously out of touch. That’s like bragging that Richard Nixon was familiar with the television “issue” in 1960 or that FDR’s fireside chats were panders on the radio “issue”. I don’t expect John McCain to start his own blog or have a personal Facebook account, but a lack of experience with a communications medium this ubiquitous is pretty revealing. After eight years of a president with zero intellectual curiosity, I find it astonishing that we have a prospective leader who wouldn’t want to get a little hands-on time with what has amounted to a communications revolution. I know if I was alive a hundred years ago and everyone around me was gushing about this new-fangled invention called the telephone, I’d probably put down the telegraph needle and give it a shot.

Maybe that's why all of the people around McCain seem to be inadequately vetted.

Computers baffle him, he knows nothing about economics...the only thing he seems to be an expert in is anger and triggers. Excellent combination.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Journey to the Dark Side is complete

Shorter Paul Krugman:

"President Bush once said “Owning a home lies at the heart of the American dream.” Since one of Obama's advisors also once said something about home ownership being good, today's column tries to loosely link the two and is about how home ownership is risky and bad."

Seriously, Professor?

I am about to relocate to a new part of the country for a new job, so I've actually spent some time thinking about this lately. I've had to grapple with the decision to buy or rent in the new location. I've made the decision on that and I am in the process of buying (high) and selling (low) a home right now, so I am quite aware of the risks.

As such, there is no question that there are debatable issues regarding own vs. rent—of which I've done both—and that's a fair debate, but that's not what you are doing.

You don't present ANY of the reasons why the government does incentivize ownership, you just list your gripes (all valid, btw), and use them to demagogue about the housing bubble/collapse. Um, okay...

But where you go off the rails, and what is pissing me off, is inserting a totally gratuitous reference to Obama in this column.

It might be a passing reference, but it is NOT relevant to your premise. It now seems to me you have crossed the line from embittered Clinton supporter to outright partisan asshole. You are now actively damaging the Democratic nominee for reasons I cannot fathom, and you are now indelibly included on my aforementioned shitlist.

More and BETTER Democrats, Indeed

More balls than 105 current Democratic Representatives...

Pay attention, Senator Obama.

UPDATE That's the video she shot, but she accompanied it with this:
Honestly, I don't understand why at this point any member of Congress would think it was a good idea to give George Bush the power to grant immunity to anyone he wants around warrantless wiretapping - and to cover all tracks in the process. George Bush has proven, over and over again, that he cannot be trusted to uphold either the letter or the spirit of the laws that protect the people of the United States from the abuse of our government.

I have my thoughts about that, but I'll have to get to it later.

He should be remembered as more than a comedian...

"I don't have pet peeves—I have major psychotic fucking hatreds..."
George Carlin—many, many times.

"his biting commentary is not just the stuff of comedy, but of revelation."
Keith Olbermann—introducing Carlin as a guest in October 2007

The King of Telling It Like It Is is gone.

My first "edgy" comedian that I was obsessed with growing up. As a kid, I loved the "Seven Words" and "Stuff" routines and his other classics, but later grew to appreciate what he was really talking about—Carlin was much more than a goofball comedian, he was a cultural icon—but more importantly he was a biting cultural and social critic. Carlin told the uncomfortable truths by setting them in a context that allowed him to say things most people would be afraid to say or would be chased from the public square by villagers wielding torches and pitchforks.

And nothing appeared to give him greater pleasure (torture?) than skewering those in power or those who took themselves too seriously.

Sadly, though he amplified his critique over the last eight years when the things he had been talking about for decades really started being administered in extra-strength doses, I think the "owners" he had long railed against pushed him to the sidelines. Carlin was treated as an old kook or ignored altogether.

He'll be a footnote on the news tonite, and they'll *chuckle* over his famous "edgy language", etc. but it won't be the fucking days-long vigil granted to The Great Tim Russert, who did less for his fellow citizen in his "distinguished career" than Carlin did in one night of stand-up.

I'm curious to hear the grave-dancing from the right about the too-soon passing of this "America-hating Communist wacko," when the real truth is Carlin is the one who loved this country enough to try and wake it up and tell the truth, while everyone else is either part of dispensing the bullshit, or those willing to lap it up with their eyes closed.

So thanks for the effort George, I'm glad you could make a living at it, and we could enjoy it, because we all know that the actual practice was futile.

In tribute to George and as a perfect summation of our trip South and back this weekend, nothing could be more appropriate than this:

UPDATE: While looking up the year of Carlin's birth for my graphic, I read the big AP story on Carlin. Though they spent six paragraphs telling the story, they still were afraid to actually list "the seven words you can't say on television."

For the record: the original list—shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I Might Be Moving, But I Haven't Packed My Shitlist Yet

Tomorrow seems to be the day when Steny Hoyer and the House Democrats sell-out on Telcom Immunity in a "compromise bill" that actually gives the President everything he asked for.

Livid doesn't begin to describe me.

Steny Hoyer and any Democrat that supports this is fucking dead to me. Done. I will will join the thousands of bloggers/online people who have already poured $225,000 to fund challengers for Hoyer and the rest of these motherfuckers.

Soon-to-be-President Obama, it is time to lead your party. You have long held the right position on this, but that ain't good enough. As the party's Presidential nominee, you have the power to impact this.


Do it.

Not simply a vote "NO" next week when this is in the Senate, but a forceful fucking stand. These cowardly fucks need the Lieberman treatment—let them all know that you—and the rest of us—are paying attention. Remind them that Hillary Clinton's War Vote bit her in the ass five years down the road.

Prove to me that you are actually CHANGE I CAN BELIEVE IN.

[As usual Greenwald has the ugly details]

The Truth About Barack Obama

Shamelessly lifted straight from (Don't sue me, Kinsley)
The Barack Obama presidential campaign introduced a new site last week,, that it hopes will debunk persistent myths about the senator: that he's a Muslim, that he won't say the Pledge of Allegiance, etc. As we have argued before, restating the myths often reinforces them, no matter how persuasively they've been refuted.

Rather than restate untruths about Obama, the campaign would do better to start some rumors of its own. Here's a template e-mail the Obama campaign might consider disseminating.

From: [Redacted]
To: [Redacted]

There are many things people do not know about BARACK OBAMA. It is every American's duty to read this message and pass it along to all of their friends and loved ones.

Barack Obama wears a FLAG PIN at all times. Even in the shower.

Barack Obama says the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE every time he sees an American flag. He also ends every sentence by saying, "WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL."

A tape exists of Michelle Obama saying the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE at a conference on PATRIOTISM.

Every weekend, Barack and Michelle take their daughters HUNTING.

Barack Obama is a PATRIOTIC AMERICAN. He has one HAND over his HEART at all times. He occasionally switches when one arm gets tired, which is almost never because he is STRONG.

Barack Obama has the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE tattooed on his stomach. It's upside-down, so he can read it while doing sit-ups.

There's only one artist on Barack Obama's iPod: FRANCIS SCOTT KEY.

Barack Obama is a DEVOUT CHRISTIAN. His favorite book is the BIBLE, which he has memorized. His name means HE WHO LOVES JESUS in the ancient language of Aramaic. He is PROUD that Jesus was an American.

Barack Obama goes to church every morning. He goes to church every afternoon. He goes to church every evening. He is IN CHURCH RIGHT NOW.

Barack Obama's new airplane includes a conference room, a kitchen, and a MEGACHURCH.

Barack Obama's skin is the color of AMERICAN SOIL.


Barack Obama says that Americans cling to GUNS and RELIGION because they are AWESOME.

[h/t Toast]

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


The Family Furious is off on vacation and we are going computer-free. I am operating (barely) on several nights of three to four hours of sleep in a row getting the house ready to go on the market while we're gone, and wrapping up freelance work.

I'm not even sure I am coherent. I actually fell asleep walking last night.

I will be catching up on my sleep with the breeze from the Atlantic ocean in my face.

We'll be back next Monday.

Monday, June 09, 2008

McCain's Reputation Precedes Him

Andrew Sullivan fails to discern the difference between The McCain Myth and reality:
The notion that Barack Obama has no bipartisan achievements in the Congress is untrue and unfair [...] But it is equally true that the kind of bipartisan initiatives that McCain has pioneered have had much more far-reaching scope and were more likely to piss off his own party. Tim Pawlenty, who is probably going to be McCain's running mate auditioned and made the case yesterday:
Look at Senator McCain's record on the big issues of our time. Changing the strategy in the war, being for climate change, cranking down on pork barrel spending, being against earmarks, reaching across even on things that are controversial like campaign finance reform. as a United States Senator. Not casting a vote as a state legislator, but leading, being the person that's in the middle of it.

Gang of 14, that Senator Obama was against, that gave us Justice Roberts and Alito... Senator Obama was even against that. Senator McCain was right in the middle of it, Leading that bipartisan charge. again, whether it's energy, whether it's ethics, whether it's reform, whether it's spending, Senator McCain time and time again has been saying I'm willing to lead, I'm willing to take risks. We have not seen that kind boldness from Senator Obama.

I think that's true.

No, Andrew, it's not. Only looking at McCain's reputation as a "maverick" can you say that crap is true. The reality doesn't support it.

Gang of 14? I regard that as a horrendous capitulation by the Democrats, and NO risk for McCain or the Republicans involved. Bush and the GOP got the Justices they wanted AND neutered the Democrats. Getting a handful of cowardly Dems to cross over and join a Republican initiative does not a "bipartisan initiative" make.

Energy? I'll grant McCain that he strays from the GOP on this (less oil, more nukes—which I don't have a problem with, btw), but he is still heavily industry/corporate-oriented in his solutions, and I'm not sure he or Pawlenty can point to anything McCain's actually accomplished here besides demagogue.

McCain IS out in front of his party on global warming—though that's not saying much— and the cynic in me suspects this is a moderate-appeal campaign stance only, and he will not DO anything about it.

Ethics? Is this separate from "reform?" I think there is plenty going on right now with his campaign to torpedo the substance of this. I don't even have to go back to his corrupt past with The Keating Five.

Reform? Perhaps he means McCain/Feingold? This is crap, too. While it was risky at the time to pursue—only in regard to his party, not popularity—I think his naked abuse of the system and manipulation of loopholes he crafted negates any "credit" he earns here.

Spending? Gas tax pander. Next?

Perhaps Pawlenty would like to expand on the countless instances when McCain "talks" a "risk-taking/maverick" line but fails to follow through—each and every time... Like, perhaps... on torture. McCain has used his POW status as a bludgeon to silence any critical analysis of his positions here, but despite whatever pre-vote postures he and Lindsay Graham take, they have upheld the Administration every time on this. Every single time.

I have linked repeatedly to Sullivan over the last year, mostly for his stuff on Obama, but he clearly has a higher-than-deserved regard for McCain. He regularly mentions how this is the best matchup for America and democracy because McCain is the bee's fucking knees. It's not true. While McCain is certainly the best that's going to come from the GOP, there is a world of difference between McCain and Obama, in addition to the issues.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Volvo Builds Sentient Car

That's the only way I can explain the fact that my car gave me six unrelated warning displays* on the way to work today before dying in the middle of the road.

Bastard car knew I was about to trade it in.

I decided last week that the Swedish incarnation of the Furiousmobile would not be coming South with me. I even had my eye on couple of sweet Mini Coopers...if things weren't so damn busy I would already have driven into Detroit and traded in in.

Now I have to pay $$$ to get it roadworthy again before I can sell/trade it, and I prefer NOT to bike to work when it's 75 and humid at 8 a.m.

*Six unrelated warning displays = giant middle finger.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Furious Index

129 — Barack Obama's pledged delegate lead over Hillary Clinton.

103 — Barack Obama's super-delegate lead over Hillary Clinton.

50 — Number of supedelegates Barack Obama picked up yesterday.

1 — Number of superdelegates Hillary Clinton picked up yesterday.

154 — Days until Election

Hillary Clinton's hypothetical, last-ditch path to the nomination now is to convince super-delegates to support her instead of Obama. Despite her ungracious attempt to upstage him last night and any attempt to take this thing to quadruple overtime, Obama's face was on the front of every newspaper in the world this morning as the nominee for President of the United States.

What unpledged superdelgate is going to come out for Hillary now that Obama is official? Maybe some Deep South freaks who need to cater to their constituencies, but it won't be for Hillary's benefit.

But more importantly, Hillary needs to peel away superdelegates already pledged to Obama. She's on the fucking pipe if she thinks that's going to happen short of Obama getting caught in bed with a dead hooker AND a live boy.

And it needs to be noted, this arm-twisting, doubt-sowing super-delegate strategy has been her strategy for the last few months, and it hasn't worked yet! Obama gained more superdelegates yesterday than Clinton has gained since Feb 5.

Who in their right mind thinks she'll have any better luck with that strategy now?

This is probably all about leverage and her last ditch attempt to get what she can from Obama and assert her agenda, rather than actually continuing this insane political deathwish, but as with last night, Hillary Clinton hasn't failed to disappoint me yet.

Yes He Did


That is all.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Act Like You've Been There Before

Andrew Sullivan and Toast might keep all of New England up with their celebrations tonight should Clinton officially end her campaign. I am really exhausted by the whole thing and glad it'll be over soon. Clinton took it way past the point where I could pause and appreciate her accomplishments and congratulate her on a hard-fought race—she destroyed my opinion of her, and not "because she's a woman" or "the media screwed her." She, along with Bill and the rest of her merry band of 90s retreads, did it all by themselves. Seeing any of their faces on the TV the last couple months has induced Bush/Cheney reactions from me.

So while I'm not going to raise my glass and toast her, I'm not going to gloat too much. Not right away anyhow. Almost half of the Democratic electorate will be disappointed tomorrow morning to one degree or another, and the biggest task ahead isn't piling dirt on Hillary Clinton, it's putting the party back together.

That said, this is something to keep in mind:
I met a guy who produced "Candid Camera"-like reality shows. I asked him "How do you get people to sign a waiver after you have made a fool of them?" Without getting some poor schmuck who has just been made a fool of to sign a waiver, you can't include him in the show.

"It's strange but after being in a stressful situation, which is what we put them in, one is so relieved that it is over that they strangely THANK us when we reveal that it is just a joke for a TV show and it is over. Even though we put them through the situation they are so grateful and genuinely happy that it is over that they will sign anything in the first five minutes." That was the catch, if you waited longer then five minutes they would think about it a bit more and then not sign shit.

I think that is what Hillary is trying to do on a national basis.

When she gets out she will have relieved us all of a stressful situation. Even people who have been hard on her will be kind and even thank her for ending this national nightmare for us. Even though SHE created the fucking thing.

People can have some time to breathe. As long as no one signs anything. Obama needs to resist any overtures from Clinton or pressure from others about making her VP. I want NO part of any "dream/unity" ticket. I don't want to run with her, and I don't want her as VP if we win.

Mattel Act Like Brats Over Bratz™

BUSINESS: Barbie's Mattel Sues Maker of Bratz Dolls

Morning Edition, June 3, 2008 · The popular Bratz dolls have been taking the spotlight away from Barbie. But toy-making giant and Barbie parent Mattel says it owns Bratz. The companies are in court, fighting over the exact moment that the designer came up with the idea for Bratz.

As a member of the (lately) much-maligned "creative class" I have a stong opinion/reaction to this. This sounds like a classic work-for-hire case. Mattel contends that the guy who "invented" Bratz did it during his tenure at Mattel—therefore it belongs to them.

Carter Bryant, the toy designer, maintains that he came up with the concept during an 8-month hiatus from working at Mattel [link]:
Bryant came up with the Bratz concept in August 1998 when he visited his family in Missouri and saw magazine ads featuring caricatures resembling what eventually became the Bratz dolls.

The case is now at the forensics level as they try to analyze the ink from his sketches...Seriously.

Here's the deal. "Work for Hire" sucks. For a company to be able to lay claim to a person's imagination is a crock. If Mattel could prove that Bryant was on-the-clock working on development for a new line of slutty dolls as part of his job, I'd say they have a case. But they want to claim anything you think of during the time you are employed—not just while at work, but the duration of your employment is their intellectual property.

If I wake up in the middle of the night with a brilliant idea, it should be mine. And unless I take it in to the office, and sell my boss on investing the company's resources in it, it should remain mine. Bryant never brought his idea to Mattel, though he did return to work there. He took his ideas to a new, young company—while still working at Mattel—and when the new company, MGA, bought in, he quit Mattel, and Bratz went on to kick the fifty-year-old Barbie's ass down the toy aisle.

Sounds to me like a creative guy came up with a good idea on his own, recognized that it would never fly with Mattel, took it somewhere else and was successful. That is how it should be.

Now Mattel is looking sounding like a sore loser and looking to stifle the competition. Lumbering behemoth, dinosaur companies that refuse to change with the times or recognize trends, and also treat their talent like drones, should get gnawed on by smaller innovators.


Other than rooting for this David to triumph over Goliath, I think Bratz are crap, and my daughters will never have them.

Hillary to Concede?

That's what the AP reports...
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Hillary Rodham Clinton will concede Tuesday night that Barack Obama has the delegates to secure the Democratic nomination, campaign officials said, effectively ending her bid to be the nation's first female president.

Obama is 40 delegates shy of clinching the nomination, but he is widely expected to make up the difference Tuesday with superdelegate support and votes in South Dakota and Montana. Once he reaches the magic number of 2,118, Clinton will acknowledge that he has secured the necessary delegates to be the nominee.

The former first lady will stop short of formally suspending or ending her race in her speech in New York City.

As a commenter at Balloon Juice said yesterday, "I’ll believe it when I see it. Actually scrap that – I won’t believe it until Obama’s served at least one term, and even then I’ll have my doubts."

It's pretty much like a Friday the 13th don't want to be the person checking to see if he's really dead...

Monday, June 02, 2008


Getting ready to move sucks and rules all at the same time...It's a shit-load of work (just ask Mrs F, who is kicking ass packing and purging), but it also allows for some nostalgic re-discovery as you go through old boxes, etc, and a cathartic relief as you purge stuff you no longer need.

Tonite I am clearing through my workshop/room of shame/cave of shit and I found—finally—a CD I've been missing since we moved here in 2001. I've donated two cars since we lived here and I had convinced myslef it must have been in one of them. I tore those two cars apart like Popeye Doyle looking for Frog One's heroin, but never found it.

Until tonite—years later. Inside a box of miscellaneous crap I stumbled across a copy of Chris Whitley's "Terra Incognita" (excellent album, btw). But that's not the CD I've been looking for—I had two copies of that. The CD that's eluded me lo these many years was in the case behind the Whitley CD...

Rage Against the Machines—"Renegades"

It's 1 a.m., so I can't have reunion with this CD that I want, but tomorrow morning people on Stadium Blvd better look the fuck out, because the Volvo will be ripping it up.

What Happened This Weekend?

I mean, in the Democratic primary race, that is...

Saturday was the big meeting with the DNC to hopefully settle the clusterfuck that is Michigan and Florida and move the process along. One candidate discouraged supporters from attending or protesting and instead worked GOTV campaigns and registered thousands of new Democrats...The other campaign trained a spotlight on the hearing, called for protests in the streets and floated outrageous solutions to the situation, preemptively deeming anything less as "disenfranchisement" and "illegitimate."

Guess which was which...

So what ended up happening? If you listen Hillary Clinton or any of her official surrogates, Barack Obama button-holed the DNC into wresting away Clinton's nomination and have done democracy a grave disservice.

I mean, could this woman be wrong?

So, this weekend is less about what happened with the numbers (which were by and large unaffected) but what didn't happen with race as a whole. There was no resolution. There was no calming of the reaching for common ground or a sense that the party might be able to come together. Instead the Clinton machine is using one part of the two-state solution as a cause célèbre that the nomination was just stolen—to whip it's already frothy bitter-enders to the point when they stiffen—all because Obama got four of Hillary's delegates in Michigan.

I suppose when you are the Clinton camp and you think going into Saturday that you are entitled to not only ALL of your own delegates earned in an unopposed primary, but half the votes actually cast against you, coming out 69-59 is a pretty serious blow.

Initially, I was also confused at the number as well...the primary results should have netted Hillary 73 delegates, with "Uncommitted" the other 55. Where was this 69-59 split coming from? The Clintonites were blaming Obama, Dean and the DNC—claiming the fix was in. But I knew those numbers sounded like the compromise solution pitched previously by the Michigan Democratic Party.

So what were the Clintonites freaking out about? Four delegates? when she trails by triple-digits, and there are only forty more delegates outstanding?

But, for that matter, why didn't Obama just let her have 'em. Surely those four delegates are even less consequential to him, and hardly worth the bad press? I had to simply trust his judgment—so far, every time I've second-guessed his strategy, he's turned out to be right, and outplayed the Clintons.

Because, as it turns out, it's not about the four delegates—they ARE inconsequential—it's about what those delegates could be extrapolated to mean. Nate Silver* at explains...
Obama actually had the votes on the Rules & Bylaws Committee to earn an even delegate split out of Michigan. But instead, he deferred to Carl Levin's 69-59 plan. How come? Because the delegate margin isn't close enough to matter, and giving Clinton some kind of a "win" in Michigan will help to undercut the perception that delegate shenanigans caused the nomination to be stolen from her.

It might be asked: why not instead sign off Clinton the 73-55 delegate split that her campaign desired? It's only a difference of a few delegates.

Well, if you did that, you'd be reflecting the Clinton/uncommitted preference from the unsanctioned primary. Which means that you'd be tending to legitimate the results of that primary. Which means that Clinton would have had a stronger claim for including Michigan in her popular vote count. And the popular vote count is different way that Clinton has tended to imply that Obama's nomination is not legitimate.

I suspect if Clinton had not decided to take the party down in flames, Obama would've let her have the delegates and the "win."

But he, wisely, realized that if Clinton could use the 73-55 delegate math to "legitimize" the results of the primary, she could continue to use the MI results in her popular vote math—dishonestly of course, because she calculates the state at 328,000 to 0—but it's exactly what would happen. None of the delegates apportioned Saturday would actually get Clinton anywhere within shouting distance of Obama among pledged delegates...The reason the Clinton camp is so upset is that it was all about being able to use their creative accounting to declare her the popular vote winner to convince superdelegates that she must be the nominee...

But waitasec—are there even enough unpledged superdelegates left to close the gap? to do that Clinton needs 80% of the remaining unpledged superdelegates. And after this Tuesday many will hop off the fence after the last primaries—Obama will likely have reached the official number to clinch the nomination.

So this is over right? These are just three-day death throes from Clinton's campaign?

"One thing about superdelegates is that they can change their minds," [Clinton] said aboard her plane in Puerto Rico before taking off for South Dakota.

She also said she is not committed to accepting the new 2118 delegate threshold for winning the nomination. "That's a question we will be considering," she said.

She continued to argue that she leads in the popular vote count — the way she counts it — and said "I have put together a much broader coalition" of voters than Obama.

The math never stops evolving, and the goalpost never stop moving. Even if Obama clinches the nomination tomorrow with wins in South Dakota and Montana, and asa result picks up another wave of supers, Hillary won't count them as final votes until the convention.

So, unless she surprises us with a level of class, grace, and regard for anything but herself she has yet to display, it appears she will take this bullshit the distance—to a floor fight in Denver. Nearly three months from now.

*If you've been reading the excellent analysis by "Poblano" at, it's now been revealed that he is Nate Silver of Baseball Prospectus fame (non-fame). As in baseball, Nate has forgotten more about elections minutiae than I'll ever know, so check it out.

UPDATE: Kos concurs:
Of course, the issue isn't the four delegates. The Clinton campaign made clear a long time ago that they don't view this as a delegate fight. Not since she lost the lead in delegates. Now, they view it as a popular vote fight.

Had the DNC handed out delegates based on January's sham vote, it would've ratified the election as a legitimate one (as ended up happening with Florida, by the way). Hillary and her acolytes would've then had a greater claim to her Michigan "victory" of 328,309 votes to zero for Obama. As is, at the Michigan Democratic Party's insistence, the DNC threw out the election and invented a new split out of thin air. Obama had the votes on the committee for a 50-50 split, but threw Clinton a few extra delegates to try and ease bruised feelings.

But again, Clinton doesn't give a damn about those extra delegates. She wanted to ratify the Michigan election and claim that 328,309-vote advantage for her tally.

So when you see Clinton surrogates in a rage about those "four delegates", understand that their rage has nothing to do with four delegates. It has to do with the blow it dealt to their propaganda efforts.

UPDATE 2: Edited slightly for length and clarity—can't you tell?

Sunday, June 01, 2008


It's official. The Furious Family is packing up and leaving Michigan. "Hot" Carl Levin and the rest of the fucking morons who screwed up my primary have pushed me over the edge, and a man's gotta do, what a man's gotta do...

Many of you (Deb) already know all about this from Mrs F's blog, but I figured I'd bust it out here, since it's certain to impact the posts here—my long nightmare of a job search came to a close last week with an offer for a gig in Asheville, NC. After some negotiation, I accepted the job on Friday. Now, the nightmare of getting the house ready to sell takes over.

It's a terrific opportunity for me professionally, and Asheville seems to be, by all accounts and my cursory inspection, a fantastic place to live, so I am excited—Mrs F is alternately excited and terrified, and Kid is pissed...So this should be fun.

The logistics of the relocation are kind of overwhelming. The house here in Ann Arbor is nowhere near ready to put on the market, and we don't know exactly how, when or where we are going to settle in Asheville...

So that's the big news. I'm beat, and my wrists are killing me from scraping the house all day to get it ready to paint, so I am hitting the sack.

Oh, for what it's worth, this is the leading contender for the new Casa de Furious...