Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Short and sweet

Nicely done.

Always bad news for Obama

I read this Kos diary and thought "Wow. A seven point lead in the latest CNN poll is great news for Obama. He has a substantial lead over McCain".

Then I went to the CNN story and it seems like Obama is losing because his lead is only 7 points.

Will someone please help me understand how the press thinks?

Paging Maureen Dowd

I wonder if she and the rest of the commentariat will breathlessly write about how McCain is an out of touch pretty boy since he wears $520 shoes (to put that number in context, that is more than what my wife and I spend in a month on groceries). I think we all remember how the traditional press behaved when they found out that John Edwards got a $400 haircut and even then it made sense. In a time where politics is largely driven by image- you need to look good for the cameras. McCain's shoes, however, are not often going to be seen when he gives an interview- which seems incredibly indulgent.

Yet, as we have seen time and time again- the narrative for McCain has already been created. He is a man of the people. It doesn't matter if he owns nine homes, travels in a private jet or has credit card debt which is more than triple the value of my home. He knows what it is like for the common man. Obama, on the other hand, shops at Whole Foods- which is a clear indicator that he is out of touch.

Fun with irony

Well, if it wasn't so serious- it would be fun...

As ThinkProgress highlights, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Right hand of God), is up in arms over the Chinese government's plan to, in his words, spy on foreign visitors when they come to see the Olympics:
BROWNBACK: This is the public security bureau in China requiring the installation of hardware that they can listen to anybody and everybody’s and their communications and their recordings that are sent over the internet in a real-time purpose or over long-term. That’s spying, John. […] Your internet communications can all be monitored in a real time basis by the public security bureau of the Chinese government. I think they’re clearly intent upon spying. they’re going to be spying.

Seems to me, that as a silly graduate student, this is pretty damn close to what our government is already doing.

Furthermore, if I was a big time TV journalist, I would ask Senator Brownback how the Chinese plan is any different from our current plan. But once again, I am just a silly graduate student.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

That seems about right...

While I think that the "this will help McCain" meme regarding the indictment of Ted Stevens is enough to make me move to Bangladesh, I have to agree with the folks at Pandagon.

If the elite press thinks that Joe Blow is going to make his voting decision based upon McCain's relationship with the senior senator from Alaska- because they have a long-simmering feud; then they need to stop eating so much paste and maybe think about spending some more time at a petting zoo instead of writing. Idiots.

Obama and the Elites

There is a great article in the New York Times about Obama's tenure as a law professor at U. Chicago. In it you see all the reasons why he will be a great president: he is thoughtful, able to see multiple sides of an issue and well versed in the issues. However, there is an interesting undercurrent that runs through the article, which suggests that Obama is aloof and uninterested in his teaching peers.

Unfortunately, I think the point of this exercise is to continue with the campaign narrative that Obama is an elitist; as he continuously spurns the advances of other faculty at Chicago to join them or their causes. Furthermore, the article also mentions that he was a favorite among the students and had many followers.

You can see then, why this is such a difficult narrative to maintain- Obama avoids the famous faculty in order to hob-nob with the lowly students. Obama doesn't join the other elites, instead he tries to keep himself in the real world- which oddly means that he is out of touch.

Tuesday Sing-a-long

Monday, July 28, 2008

Over and over and over and over again

On the very same day that we find out that the Bush Administration behaved criminally in their politicization of the Justice Department, we find that the Department of Homeland Security will be heightening our terror alert status over the next couple of months. As Josh Marshall writes, the reason for the change in alert status is pretty simple:
US to be place on "heightened terror alert" in response to Republican efforts to maintain hold on presidency.

Perhaps others will see this as a bit cynical, but as noted by others- this wouldn't be the first time that the terror alert has been raised when it seemed politically expedient for the Bush Administration:

I know that these are both left-leaning commentators, but I think in light of today's findings regarding the conduct of the DOJ under Bush- the traditional press has good reason to ask- not accuse, but simply ASK- whether this is politically motivated at all. Unfortunately, it looks like the press is going to buy this hook, line and sinker (from the ABC article above):
The reasons: There are no specifics indicating an attack on the U.S. is imminent, and U.S. officials do not want to be accused of trying to inject themselves into the presidential campaign.

Confessions of a blogger

During the first Gulf War I actually said something that amounted to "I wish that I was old enough to enlist so that I could go fight the good fight." I was an idiot.

Walkability

I've been following Atrios' ongoing posts on walkability and urbanization with quite a bit of interest. In the view of one who lives in a city that is arguably a thousand times more walkable than any American city, I can say that it's about time that this become mainstream thinking.

When I was at a conference in May one of the keynote speakers was an urban planner and public policy director who studied urban planning from a public health perspective. One of his major contributions on the subject was showing a positive correlation between good health and living in a walkable urban environment. Couple the added health benefits with the environmental and economic concerns and I think that the trend toward urbanization is only going to accelerate. Death to the 'burbs! (Okay, not "death" maybe, but at least more sensible zoning regulations to the 'burbs. That doesn't really make for a great slogan though.)

UPDATE: The researcher I mentioned above is Lawrence D. Frank, Ph.D. There's a brief bio here if you're interested. Incidentally, he looks much less like a drunk 19-year-old frat boy in person.

America's mall "culture"

In a somewhat fluffy piece from Radio Lab on the rise of mall culture and the way that it has changed America, arguably for the worst, one of the reasons that people cited for the popularity of malls is the typical American's (whoever that is) desire to be in safe and familiar surroundings. I've heard this kind of justification before for all sorts of American behavior and, especially in this case, I'm not 100% sold on the notion. This argument ignores the power of marketing and the effects it has on our decision-making capabilities. Marketing is crazy influential and I think it should never be dismissed. We think we make informed, rational decisions, but marketers know otherwise and they use that knowledge against us on a constant basis. I think that it would behoove us all to remember that, especially as November draws near.

Nailed it--

Re: my post from earlier

This is exactly why McCain made the ad:
It looks as if the new McCain ad falsely attacking Obama over his canceled troop visit may not really have a lot of money behind it, suggesting that its real purpose isn't getting it before voters directly.

Rather, the real target audience may be the media -- meaning that the McCain camp's goal is largely to get the ad debated in the press and to drive the conversation that way.

But...he's the kind of guy that you would want to have a beer with!

The headline to this story really says it all:

Goodling Passed Over Experienced Counterterrorism Prosecutor Because Wife Was A Democrat

I wonder if the traditional press will ever come to grips with how they enabled all of this. To review- the US attorney scandal only became a scandal when a sucky blogger got to the bottom of the story. Even then, there has been almost nothing written about the ways the Bush administration politicized EVERYTHING. Nor has there been anything close to official condemnation from the punditocracy.

It is this particular aspect of the whole scandal which is so anger to-the-point-of-blind-rage inducing, we will hear nothing about how the Bush administration put millions of Americans at risk because someone's wife was a Democrat- there will be no public hand-wringing, no sternly worded editorial from the Washington Post, no call for criminal prosecution, NOTHING.

same shit, different election

I think we can see where McCain is putting all of his chips now, as the thrust of his campaign is going to be on why Obama hates the troops- literally. As I noted before, this is a line of attack which is beneath contempt, but unfortunately one that will ultimately work for McCain. The reason for why this is going to work is not because the press will support the claims, but because they will breathlessly talk about it.

Furthermore, the focus for this story is not going to be on how McCain is behaving dishonorably, but on Obama. In the 'he said/he said' way that the press reports on the campaign- the debate will be framed as "McCain says that Obama hates the troops, but Obama says that isn't true". With this framing, I think it is easy to see just how it benefits McCain. Case in point.

Ultimately, however, what makes this so frustrating is that the Democrats don't fight on these terms- there are plenty of issues that Obama could connect McCain to and in a way that generates endless debate which paints McCain in an unfavorable light. I think a great line of attack on McCain would be to say that he is in league with oil companies to maximize their profits. Why? Well, you have his recent reversal on coastal oil drilling, his support for the gas-tax holiday (which would be framed as a give away to the oil companies), the public perception that Republicans put corporations first, the fact that Americans are increasingly angry with the oil companies and the added bonus of linking McCain to an industry that Bush and Cheney were heavily involved in.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

McCain has officially jumped the shark

I think there was a time, a long time ago- where John McCain was a sensible, honorable man.

That time has passed
.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Nice Headline- jackasses

This is the current headline from MSNBC:

Bush and McCain seem to diverge
in foreign policy

At first glance, what this seems to suggest is that McCain does not agree with Bush's more aggressive foreign policy. HOWEVER, if you actually read the story- the article suggests that the recent moves by Bush, in regards to Iran and North Korea, make McCain more hawkish than President Bush.

I know this is a trifling thing, but if you are following the campaign- one of the strategies that the Obama campaign has used has been to compare President Bush to McCain. You would think that the editors at MSNBC would be sensitive to the fact that such a headline would be read as favorable to McCain. Perhaps a more accurate headline would be "McCain's foreign policy more hawkish than President Bush's", but really- what do I know.

Skinny Love

I think it might be impossible not to feel what ever is going on with this dude

Capturing THE voting block in 2008

While I think Cynthia's who skipped their high school reunion and live with three miles of a Pottery Barn are going to be an important voting bloc this fall, the most important voting bloc really is going to be twice divorced white Lutheran woman who are dating men who went to bartending school after failing out of tractor-trailer driving school.

I mean seriously folks, if you want to make those kind of distinctions- you are going to need some more data than a 1,000 person random sample with selected cross-tabs. They should really throw every political reporter into at least two graduate level stat's class- this is just embarassing.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I have met the enemy, and they are just incredibly stupid

oh my

We don't "gotcha," but we still "gotcha"

I was - am, really - honestly puzzled about this article from the NY Times. Is this what the media does when they don't get the gaffe that they're looking for? Aside from categorizing Obama's speech as being too "vague", there's all this talk about how "Europeans" aren't really fully on board - which is a good thing in a way, 'cause if they were too into him then that would be the problem, but I digress...
Europeans are wary about Mr. Obama’s call for more European money for defense and more soldiers for the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan. They worry that he will not alter what they see as President Bush’s unbending bias in favor of Israel.

And, despite what appears to be his sensitivity to European concerns, they perceive Mr. Obama as largely uninterested in Europe, even though he is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee responsible for the region. As the newspaper Le Monde pointed out on Thursday, Mr. Obama has never asked to meet the European Union’s ambassador in Washington.

I'm not really sure who the "Europeans" are who are referenced here. I guess I'd pile them with the fictitious "middle-American," "Nascar Dads," and "Mole People," at least until someone wants to show me some evidence that the Obama-wary Europeans actually exist as a unified wary voice.

I really don't care whether they're wary of him or not. I'm a little wary. I'm wary of him, I'm wary of congress, and I'm wary of Disco's hairy ass. All I ask is a little honesty in reporting is all. Hey MSM, just pretend I'm a moron/"Nascar Dad" and paint me a picture to support your thesis, or stop talking. Either option is actually OK with me right now.

Just FYI! The generalizations could be narrowed down from all Europeans to say, I dunno, the French, or better yet, "The Tour De France Uncles." It's just more plausible is all I'm saying.

OK I'm done. I'm done.

Doing the work for me

When I wrote that Jib-Jab sucks hard, I had a longer post in mind that I was going to write explaining my position and why I think it is that the traditional media seems to love them so much. Fortunately, if you wait long enough- someone else will usually come along and say what you had intended and in a way that is much better said. To wit- here's Atrios commenting on someone else's post at Open Left:
As many others have observed, it's an odd thing about political journalists that they hate much about the subject they cover, specifically the messy business of politicians actually doing things to attract supporters and voters. While one can certainly hate certain structural aspects of politics as institutionalized in this country and wish them to change, the part about politicians trying to do things to get voters to vote for them is pretty much a constant in a democracy.

To be a good critic you actually have to have the capacity to love what you cover, otherwise you're just a cynical curmudgeon.
This is why they love the inanity that is Jib-Jab, as they both share a deep contempt for the political process. They all want some magical land where all politicians can be like Martin Sheen, Michael Douglas or Kevin Kline, presidents who say exactly what they mean and not have to worry about what the voters will think. Now, how does this president get elected? I have no idea.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Robert Novak- Ladies Man

This story has been all over the interwebs:
Syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak was cited by police after he hit a pedestrian with his black Corvette in downtown Washington, D.C., on Wednesday morning.

A few thoughts came to mind when I read this-
  1. Hitting a pedestrian is only a citation? Note to self- NEVER JAYWALK IN DC.
  2. How do you not know that you hit someone? I guess when all you get is a citation, you can be pretty cavalier about the whole thing.
  3. Robert Novak drives a BLACK CORVETTE. Is there a more perfect car for him to drive? I can totally see him hitting on Georgetown undergrads at some swanky bar and thinking "wait til they see the 'vette, it's an A.P.R.S, (Automatic Panty Removal System)". What do you think he has in the tape deck? Boston? Aerosmith?

Ring of Fire's Weekly News 19

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Wow...just, wow

The next person that says the media is in the tank for Obama, I am going to beat with Disco's beard.

Metal-urge

I guess I wouldn't be a good criminal, 'cause I would never think of this. Watch your step Broca.

Last post from the Huff today, I promise

In a mind-numbingly stupid article cited here on the Huffington Post, Obama is actually cautioned against appearing too popular in Europe.
"There's such a thing as being too popular overseas," said Galston, now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. "And that may create some misgivings here at home."
If Europeans love our leadership it can only mean that our leadership is better for them than us (because those bastard Europeans hate us all so much)? AAAARGGH!

McCain lobbies for the oil industry

Some statements are just so ill-informed that you don't really need to comment, though it wouldn't hurt the media to ask a pertinent question or two now and then. I'm "sure" they'll get right on that at their next BBQ-slash-love in with the Mav.

The danger of generalizations

It is a widely held belief, by both the left and right, that the rest of the world hates America. The right uses it to justify unilateralism and aggression, the left uses it to justify sweeping change, but the end result isn't that much different - it's us against a hostile world.

In my experience, as limited as it is, the rest of the world has a much more rational and sober picture of America. Sure, just about everyone I meet really hates Bush (except one weirdo from Sweden who, unless he was flawlessly playing a satiric role, really, really likes Bush). But those feelings of disdain for our president are couched in the understanding that he was neither elected (the first time) and possibly stole an election (the second time). Even given the possibility that he was legitimately elected, the people I've met (including yes, those "evil" Iranians) are quick to forgive the American public for making a mistake based on lies and half-truths.

Everyone I've met has been arguably more positive on America than I feel at times. We still represent the promise of freedom and democracy and our past kindnesses aren't forgotten (e.g. The Marshall Plan).

This doesn't mean that the positive feelings toward America are permanent nor will indefinitely endure destructive policies. I just think it's important to know that there is still quite a bit of perceived goodness in "The American Dream," and it's that perception that I think we should be fighting to live up to.

Keeping his bitches in line

Apparently, to John McCain, if members of the media are not openly cupping his James Westfall and Doctor Kenneth Noisewater (google these names if you don't understand the joke), they are showing overt bias towards the other guy. It's kind of funny that when the press gives some favorable press to Obama that McCain turns on his 'base'.

Balls of purity

Time has a pretty glowing article about purity balls and their general awesomenessticity, as one might assume, I am inclined to agree with the assessment that there is something really off about these things.

I hesitate, however, to completely demonize the fathers that take part in these events. Outside of a wedding, there aren't many father/daughter sanctioned rituals in our society. Yet, with fathers and sons- there are seemingly infinite opportunities for both of them to bond. So in that regard, and as a newly minted father to a wonderful little girl, I can see why these fathers are trying to ritualize certain elements of the father-daughter relationship.

However, that doesn't mean that this way of celebrating the relationship isn't off the charts f-ing creepy. Here are some pictures of a recent event:





Um...yeah- that ain't right

Monday, July 21, 2008

Funny

Turns out that Barack Obama is much more liked than Joe Lieberman by...wait for it...American Jews (60% to 37%).

What I think is the funniest part about all of this is that over the years, the press has made Lieberman the official Jew of Washington and the man that represents all American Jewish thought in this country. Half the reason why Obama was assumed to have a 'Jewish problem' was not because Jewish voters didn't like him- rather, it was assumed he had a 'Jewish problem' because Joe Lieberman didn't like him.

This is about right

I think this quote perfectly captures the essence of the modern Republican party:
And that's the sort of thing that makes the conservative movement hard to take seriously -- it's an organized defense of existing power and privilege that now and again adopts principled rhetorical modes of various kinds but basically can't be moved to act unless some lobbyists pay them too.

The navy hates America

When will those dirty f-ing hippies ever learn?!

Small effect size- large effect

There has been a lot of talk lately about how the absence of cellphones confounds polling data as these numbers are not often included in polls (oddly enough, it is against the law to random digit dial a cellphone via computer). Thankfully, Pew has some data out which shows how great a difference in polling there is if you include cellphones.

In their survey, they found that with cellphone users included in the general sample Obama leads by 48% to 40% vs. 46% to 41% in the sample w/o cellphones. So, there is a 3% swing of support once we include voters who do not have landlines.

Yet in reading some of the commentary on this subject (e.g. here), it seems that people don't see cellphones as having a big effect. Now, I will admit that the number is not very large- but in terms of assessing its effect, I would say that it is considerable. This type of effect comes up repeatedly in studying the mass media (for example- media violence), where small effect sizes are ignored because they are numerically small but not substantively small. A shift of 3% in the general voting public (if we foolishly assume that cell phone voters are evenly distributed) would mean that Obama wins by almost a landslide- as Missouri, Nevada, Indiana, Montana and Virginia would all move into his column from the narrow McCain column. At the very least, I would venture to guess that this almost guarantees that Obama will win at least two of these states- which would mean a very comfortable win.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The B-effect

The economy is on the rebound. The Dark Knight breaks box office records. There is no other possible explanation than an economic upturn to explain this fortuitous event. Wooooohooooooo!!!!!!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Problems that I didn't know were problems

In the Oslo paper today is a story about cash sniffing dogs to curtail currency smuggling. Raise your hand if you knew that taking cash from one country to another was considered "smuggling." Which occurs first in the life of a would-be smuggler I wonder: a name change to something like "Han" or the search for a significantly hairy sidekick? Disco seems a likely candidate for the latter...

a + b + z = Altruism

I just thought this was a fun, if poorly written, article. Physicists in Portugal develop a mathematical model to explain the mechanics of altruism in the context of evolutionary advantage.
And in fact, it was found, that in populations with high diversity, as diversity increased also did collaboration levels.
Conclusion: Diversity is your friend.

By any measure

I read this report (on BBC) about the US slipping once again in the area of health care.
Americans live shorter lives than citizens of almost every other developed nation, according to a report from several US charities.

Wasn't there a time when Americans took pride in being number one? Of particular note is the disparity within the US (my emphasis):
"The Measure of America reveals huge gaps among some groups in our country to access opportunity and reach their potential," said the report's author, Sarah Burd-Sharps.

"Some Americans are living anywhere from 30 to 50 years behind others when it comes to issues we all care about: health, education and standard of living.

Check out the map which shows how different states rate on the index. Notice any patterns?

None of this is really shocking news and a rational individual would say that we could use this information as another tool for self-examination and major changes to policy and services.

I searched the major news sites and didn't find any mention of this. Of course, if this story even did get picked up by the media, it would be more "pessimism" and "class warfare" I'm sure.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Insurance Fun

My wife spent a significant amount of time on the phone today with our insurance company in order to resolve a charge that they put on our bill back when the little one was born. The insurance company is about to submit our bill to a collection agency because we refuse to pay it.

What is at issue? At our 40 week prenatal visit with our midwife (on April 21st), she scheduled an ultrasound and fetal stress test- IF we did not have the baby by the 27th. Amelia had other ideas and arrived on the 24th. The insurance company has insisted that we actually attended our appointment on the 27th for these procedures.

Now, to be clear- I am not a doctor. I have not studied medicine, nor have I even stepped foot in a medical school- so I advise you to take my words at face value. But I am pretty goddamn sure that the ultrasound and the FETAL stress test would have been considered moot three days after our daughter was born.

ARRGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!one!1!!

All star game debate

Quizzo master and local celebrity/sex symbol Johnny Goodtimes has an idea on how to settle baseball all-star games that go into extra innings. I have to admit that I am intrigued but not particularly wild about ending these games with a home-run derby. I watched the last 8 innings of the game and was absolutely riveted by the end.

Unfortunately for JGT, the ratings from the game are in and judging from the numbers, the prospect for changing the format does not look good as the percent share increased during the extra-innings from 16% for innings 1 to 9 to 18% for innings 10 to 15.

Observation for the day

Free market fundamentalists are the stupidest f-ing people on the planet.

That is all.

Still asleep at the wheel

Most of the elite press has maintained a love affair with The Daily Show. They like to tout their love as a sign that they are 'happening' and 'with it', and come to the conclusion that what people would like is their news to be irreverent like the Daily Show.

I think fans of the show, however, like the show because it actually treats its audience like adults. Case in point- yesterday's show covered the discrepancy between President Bush's press conference and Ben Bernacke's testimony to Congress. Furthermore, Jon Stewart pointed out that the White House seemingly timed their press conference in order to blunt the news coming from the Capitol (see the first two minutes).



Now, I am what you would call a voracious news consumer. Yet, in my search through the news yesterday, I didn't find any mention of this audacious attempt at White House spin. I think it might have been nice of them to cover this.

Must...maintain...campaign...narrative...

As I noted yesterday, the press has almost completely ignored the McCain rape joke. But there was another item that came out a little under a week ago that has also not gained any attention from the mainstream press. In this instance, Cindy McCain gave an interview to CNN where she said that the only way to get around Arizona was by 'small private plane'. Now, I am not an expert on the modes of transportation available to the average American; but I am going to guess that the vast majority (99.99%) of the American public does not have ready access to a plane.

So, here we have an instance where the McCain's reveal their ridiculously favorable financial status and their complete ignorance of how most of us live- but there is nary a mention in the elite press. Now if Barack or Michelle Obama had said this, you can be pretty damn sure that the media would have hopped all over it.

There is a simple, but tragic, reason for this discrepancy- reporting on the McCains' elite status would go against the already decided upon narrative for them. As ThinkProgress detailed, much of the media has determined that McCain and his wife are 'regular people'. As such, we can easily sketch out the rules for how the McCain narrative is to be handled-

Rule 1: McCain is a straight-talkin' man of the people, who is just as regular as you and I.
Rule 2: If any story reveals that he is not a straight-talkin' man of the people, who is not as regular as you and I- then refer to rule 1.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

If they don't report about it, I guess it didn't happen

I am sure that if Obama had made the same joke about a woman getting savagely raped, there would also be no press coverage of it too.

Question

Has Jib-Jab ever been funny? Ever?

Straight Talk- horrible misogyny version

That McCain fellow is certainly a classy guy. ThinkProgress recounts a joke that he told in 1986:
Did you hear the one about the woman who is attacked on the street by a gorilla, beaten senseless, raped repeatedly and left to die? When she finally regains consciousness and tries to speak, her doctor leans over to hear her sigh contently and to feebly ask, “Where is that marvelous ape?”

You see, its funny because it is about a woman getting savagely beaten and then sexually assaulted. Hilarious. Although, you can really just count this as the mistake of a young man. McCain was only 50 when he told the joke (4 years older than Obama is now). Kids will be kids.

The OTHER forgotten war

I don't like to say 'we told you so'...but we told you so. One of the most noticeable problems with going to war with Iraq was that it would strain our resources in Afghanistan. As I imagine just about anyone would agree, the real threat to American security came from the terrorists who were residing in Afghanistan and not the petty dictator a thousand miles away. Now it turns out that NATO forces are retreating from certain areas over there:
U.S. troops abandoned a remote outpost in eastern Afghanistan where militants killed nine American soldiers this week and insurgents briefly overran the area, officials said Wednesday, underlining the difficulties faced by forces in the border region.

Furthermore, if I was a certain candidate running for president- I would make it absolutely clear to the American people that the trouble in Afghanistan has its roots in the failed policy advocated by McCain. But what do I know, I am just a caveman graduate student.

Even losing means that McCain is winning

Try as I might, I will never understand the way the media thinks. As Atrios and Matt Yglesias note, the fact that Obama has consistently led in the polls is some indication that he is not actually winning.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cooking corn gets me to the store

With all the hype about alternative energy and how important it is to develop our independence from oil (duh), I think we have begun to shift the burden from one bad source (fossil fuel) to another (ethanol). Why we focus on ethanol is pretty obvious: we know how to do it, it uses existing infrastructure (fuel industry), and Bush is a dumb ass. Okay, that last one is tangential, but true.

For it's benefits, I still think ethanol suffers from an important fatal flaw; I just don't see how anyone can justify the ethics of destroying massive amounts of food so that we can continue our ridiculous energy consumption.

That said, there may be hope for those who don't see the average consumer changing his or her behavior patterns anytime soon. It's called solar (oh God, not this hippie crap again). But don't take my word for it ya pessimist. Take it away, Ray. And here. Oh, and here's an article I just thought was cool.

Monday, July 14, 2008

How Lieberman cost us before

I think this is a great point, and one that is easily forgotten:
I believe that Joe Lieberman was also a poor choice. Even back in 2000, a lot of liberals (myself included) strongly disliked him, so putting him on the ticket likely depressed enthusiasm among the base, and may even have driven enough lefties into the arms of Ralph Nader to throw the election.
As someone who got caught up in the Nader fiasco in 2000, Gore could have done himself a huge favor if he had picked a genuine progressive as his running mate. Gore was running as somewhat of a centrist, and his selection of Lieberman only reaffirmed that image. If Gore had chosen someone who had a lot of credibility in the progressive community, much of that Nader zeitgeist would have been squashed. The Republicans, on the other hand, seemed to understand that appealing to the base had merit and weren't afraid to have a rock-ribbed conservative as the VP.

I don't think Obama has the same problem with the base that Gore does, nevertheless I think it would be a poor decision to go with someone that the progressive community has issues with.

Son of a...

Politico informs us that the AP is changing its writing style:
Fournier is a main engine in a high-stakes experiment at the 162-year old wire to move from its signature neutral and detached tone to an aggressive, plain-spoken style of writing that Fournier often describes as “cutting through the clutter.”

I think the idea behind this is decent, but for the AP to take this on is really troubling. The AP exists as the one entity in the current media environment which offers 'straight' news (or as close to straight news as possible). If news organizations want to use their stories, it is up to the editorial staff to add commentary or opinion. By opening themselves to editorializing, the AP is making a potentially horrible mistake.

Obama is teh black

I don't have much more to add to this, in regards to the New Yorker cover:
I certainly don't think that the New Yorker cover is the biggest deal in the world, but the basic reason I find it problematic is that I look at it and I think, "Yes, well, that's what the Right says about the Obamas pretty much daily." It channels what they say, but they forgot to add the funny. Hamas loves Obama, he hates the flag and America, he's a Muslim, Michelle Obama is a black militant, etc. It isn't funny to me because I read this crap every day all day. This crap isn't just on obscure wingnut blogs, it's everywhere. G. Gordon Liddy is thrilled.

If in 2000 they'd ran a cover which expressed in various ways things like "Al Gore claimed he invented the internet," "Al Gore claims he discovered Love Canal," "Al Gore grew up in a fancy DC hotel," "Al Gore is such pandering politician that he's wearing 3 button suits and EARTH TONES" (no I've never understood this one either), it wouldn't have been a parody, it would have been channeling the media zeitgeist. The Obama thing? Not so different.

Here's the thing, it is an absolute embarrassment that people believe these things, and I know from personal experience that there is a sizable group of people who do. The New Yorker would have been better served if they mocked these people directly. Unfortunately, what is going to happen now is that conservative commentators (like Gordon Liddy) will point to this cover as clear evidence that Obama is un-American.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

This is beyond genius

I have found the reason why I should stop writing forever. This is amazing.


Okay, so I suppose an explanation is in order...

I think The Name of the Rose is one of the greatest novels ever written. I also believe that this is one of the greatest songs written. To combine the two? That just blows my mind.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Bad Science

I was actually thinking about this very topic last night and was going to write about it. In general, I am not a fan of evolutionary psych, at least as it is commonly understood, as it makes gross generalizations based on very small differences. I will concede that there are differences among men and women in ways that either group thinks, but the idea that they are worlds apart is very, very, very silly. I think Amanda is right, at its root- this branch of inquiry is based upon the notion that women are less than men and completely ignores the social roots for those differences.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Magic!

I am really starting to think that one of my friends is messing with me. This is all an elaborate ruse, just like in the movie The Game- as there is no way that one candidate can get away with this kind of stupidity and live to tell the tale. Here is the McCain deficit reduction plan:
The McCain administration would reserve all savings from victory in the Iraq and Afghanistan operations in the fight against Islamic extremists for reducing the deficit.
But wait...it gets better. As Josh Marshall notes:
But here's the thing. McCain doesn't have any numbers. None. Not vague numbers of fuzzy math. He just says he's going to do it. Any other candidate would get laughed off the stage with that kind of nonsense or more likely reporters just wouldn't agree to give them a write up. But this is all over the place.
He then gets the McCain campaign to answer some questions about how they would do this, and this is their explanation:
It's pretty straightforward, as we win, costs will go down with a smaller footprint over time, and those savings will go to deficit reduction. It's really the logical extension of Senator McCain's position as articulated in the 2013 speech. Achieving success in Iraq would obviously lead to reduced expenditures on the effort.
Well, duh.

I mean, I have the same kind of plan for making $5 billion dollars. You see, I am going to cure all forms of cancer. How am I going to accomplish this masterful plan? Well...when I cure cancer, lots of people are going to be interested in cure. They will then pay me for it. The plan is really quite genius.

I am glad I do not have a TV

If I did, I would have lost my f-ing mind yesterday.



What is it with these people? How do they get from what Obama said on Iraq, which has been incredibly consistent, to 'he is adopting McCain and Bush's strategy'? It boggles the mind.

Thom Hartmann givin' it to Ralph Reed

Who would Jesus bomb?

Michael Scherer writes things

Shorter intrepid Time Reporter- Michael Scherer:
If Obama said that his plan for Iraq was to give everyone a gumdrop pony we wouldn't have to scrutinize his plan, but since he has addressed this topic with serious thought, he must be pulling a fast one on us.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The two faces of patriotism

Matt Yglesias is wrong about the similarity between conservative and liberal patriotism as I think there is a very clear difference between the two.

I would classify the conservative view of patriotism as 'childlike' and liberal patriotism as 'adult' in that a traditional conservative's love of country matches the love a child feels for its parent and the liberal's love of country matches the love an adult feels for his or her parent. As a child, my parents existed as infallible beings and my love for them was unquestioning. Conservatives view love for country in the same way- the entire 'Love it or Leave it' serves as a testament to this world view.

For liberals however, love of country is complicated -just like the love I feel for my parent's is complicated. As I have gotten older, I see my parents as human and capable of making mistakes. Yet, it is their humanity which makes them all the more lovable (and sometimes maddening).

Saint McCain

via John Cole, we have the following:

Bob Schieffer, on Face the Nation, responding to John Kerry stating that McCain has completely changed his position on a large number of issues:

“Are you attacking John McCain’s integrity?”

This quote is really just covered in irony. John Kerry, who will forever be known as a serial flip-flopper, brings up the fact that McCain has repeatedly changed positions on a number of issues, and the response from Schieffer is that bringing up such issues is an attack on his integrity. Wow.

The way the guardians of the discourse see it, just noting that McCain has changed his mind is beyond the pale and I can't, for the life of me, figure out why that is. I don't know of another figure in American politics who is consistently painted in such a favorable light by the media and is afforded as much room for error.

The only other person that even comes close is Colin Powell, so it may be a military thing. Yet, if it was, people like John Kerry, Wes Clark, Bob Kerrey, Chuck Hagel or Max Cleland would also be afforded the same privileges by the media- but they aren't. It could be that McCain's history as a POW has set him apart from others, so that he is viewed as having integrity than any of the others. But should his experience be valued more than triple-amputee Cleland or Medal of Honor winner Kerrey?

Could it be his support for Campaign Finance Reform? Probably not. If it was, a bevy of liberals would get the same favorable treatment from the press.

At the end of the day, I think the simple reason for this deference to McCain is part of a vicious circular logic. The press loves McCain because he is a maverick. Why is he a maverick? Because the press says that he is.

To Amelia

Friday, July 04, 2008

just kill me now

From an AP 'analysis' that will come out tomorrow:
Perhaps most damaging was Thursday's statement in North Dakota, where he said he would reassess his stand on the Iraq war after he visits the front later this summer for briefings from American military commanders. Republicans tried to play that as an expedient political flip flop — a signal Obama was moving away from his vow to withdraw all combat troops within 16 months of taking office, a defining issue of his campaign.

Obama quickly said that wasn't the case but the Republicans rushed in with a critical broadside.

Note to the AP, this is only damaging if you carry water for the republicans. As Josh Marshall notes, this is just really embarrassing for the AP on so many levels.

David Brooks is an asshat

Look, if you have decided that in your infinite wisdom you get to deem Barack Obama an out of touch elitist, the last thing you should do is extol the virtues of pomegranate water (:31 seconds in).

Just sayin'

Party On America!

Well put

The idea that Obama is an elitist and that McCain is a regular guy really amazes/angers me.

I think part of what bothers me is that it hits pretty close to home. I grew up in a working class family with parents that never saw schooling past high school. I was the third person on my mother's side, and the fourth person on my father's side to go to college. My wife, has a similar background.

Yet, because both of us are soon to be graduates of ivy league schools we would fall into the supposed category of elitist.

Forgive me if I am wrong but, I used to think that we were pulling ourselves up from our bootstraps. I mean, if all that conservative crap is to be believed- we are the embodiment of the American dream.

But in this new social calculus, Obama and I are the ones that are out of touch with real America. If you want to know what real Americans are like, you need to talk to a guy that was born into the aristocracy, married an heiress and owns a million homes.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Ugh

I am just going to put one of my pet peeves out there right now. I HATE this time in the election cycle, when the candidate starts gearing up for the general election and makes the shift to the center. The part I hate is when self-righteous liberals start whining that the candidate is selling out and is no longer worthy of any support.

To these people I say this- shut your cake hole- this is about building a movement. This is about changing the way politics works at the generational level. Obama is not going to be the perfect candidate, he might not even be a very good candidate (although I happen to think he is). But at the end of the day, we are that much closer to seeing universal health care, respect in the world community and the return of the middle class.

Just look at religious conservatives, the Republican party had them eating a bunch of shit sandwiches in the beginning- but they went on to become the most important constituency to the Bush administration. If we whine and throw tantrums like so many have in the past, we are going to be knee deep in McCain shit for the next 4 to 8 years.

OBAMA FLIP-FLOPS ON IRAQ!!!

How does the media get, 'I will change my position on Iraq' from the phrase 'will continue to refine my policies'? Really, how the hell do they get there? The word that they are focusing on is 'refine'. What do you do when you refine? You can refine oil or coal. Now, does that mean that you change the actual substance into another? No. When you refine, you get closer to the substance's 'pure' state.

Quite simply, what Obama was saying was that he was working on a more perfectly articulated plan of getting out of Iraq. I am not shoehorning here. That is what he literally said. Yet, the media went crazy saying that he flip-flopped, and when Obama came back to say 'you are all idiots' (he actually didn't say that), they say that he had to clear up some inarticulate phrasing.

I mean really, this is what they have to do to show that he is a flip-flopper? Really? Meanwhile, McCain is changing his policies mid-sentence and he is still a straight-talkin' maverick.

I think as we get closer to the election, I am going to be drinking my own weight in whiskey.

Freedom = Happiness

Perhaps senator Obama and the other tools who actually support the FISA "compromise" should read this. Pay special attention to the caption under the picture ya jerks!

Going to the Red States

I have long thought that the whole Red State/Blue State idea was just the work of a feeble mind. Unfortunately, however, it has become a fixture in the public discourse and has come to be THE way that modern punditry sees political life in the US. Most importantly, Red America has become the authentic America, while Blue America is the fake America. Blue America is the home effete, out of touch liberals and Red America is beer drinkin', hard workin' America.

This is why the news out of Montana is so great. If Obama can win in this 'conceptually' deep red state then many of the pundit claims that he is out-of-touch with regular Americans is, potentially, mortally wounded.

The end-all, be-all argument for voting Obama

The long national nightmare will be over.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Gas is over $4's?

What can a society do to cope? Here's one of a huge list of alternatives to drilling for more oil, wrecking the environment, and making the earth warmer. It's called changing behavior.

The U-factor

Broca is a pessimist. As usual he overstates the importance of the corporate media and completely discounts the power of Urban Outfitters.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The key to November

If Obama wants to win, he needs to convince some of the 19% that a McCain presidency is a continuation of Bush's presidency. That seems pretty easy, all he really needs to do is burn this image into the voters minds:

Reform, Prosperity, Peace, Bitching, Moaning

I thought Republicans were supposed to be the "Daddy Party"?. They cry more than my four month old does.

How long until the media's fainting couches come on out?

All Aboard!

This piece makes me angry on so many levels, it is hard to see straight. Here is the intro:

Straight Talk Express Gets an Upgrade


Sen. John McCain and his wife Cindy walk off his campaign plane after arriving in Allentown, Penn., June 30, 2008. (Associated Press)

By Juliet Eilperin
ABOARD THE STRAIGHT TALK EXPRESS -- The Straight Talk Express has gone airborne.
Hmm...I wonder if there is any straight talk on that express? But wait, the media fawning gets worse- a hell of a lot worse...
McCain senior aide Mark Salter quipped this morning that "only the good reporters" would get to sit in the specially-configured section for interviews. "You'll have to earn it," he said.
You wonder if the press will ever realize how their mancrush on McCain impacts the lives of everyday people and our standing in the world. Once again, we have an election that will be decided, not by policies or ideas, but on which candidate is cooler to hang out with.