Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Hope is a good thing....

Right now, The Shawshank Redemption is stuck in my head.

"Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

We, too, are at the start of a long journey, with an uncertain conclusion. But it is a journey worth taking.

Know Hope.

Monday, October 27, 2008

It's the stupid, stupid.

Mark McKinnon makes the case that the campaign options McCain had to work with where limited. The money quote:
If not for a major economic event that interceded a few weeks ago (for which a strong majority of voters blame Republicans), this race might still be competitive. It isn’t Steve Schmidt’s fault. It’s the economy, stupid.

Did being a Republican in a bad economy hurt McCain? Sure enough. Is that why his campaign tanked so spectacularly during the second week of September? Not even close.

Far more than the economy alone, it was his reaction to the economy that hurt McCain.

From early on, Obama seemed to grasp the fact that there were some fundamental problems with the economy, and a significant number of people were under financial stress. He didn't have a plan, but he had an understanding of the situation.

McCain, in contrast, believed, "The fundamentals of our economy are strong." This, on the heels of campaign co-chair Phil Gramm's, claim that we are "a nation of whiners," and that this is a "mental recession." Though McCain tried to distance his campaign from those remarks, they simply continued the narrative he had been spinning for months, "a lot of our problems today, as you know, are psychological."

Never mind that his message was more nuanced, what people took away was that he just didn't get it. Nor did his response to the credit crisis inspire confidence. While Obama had no more of a plan than McCain, Obama didn't appear surprised or panicked. Again, McCain seemed to be caught off-guard by the economic reality, and his decision to suspend his campaign made him seem unwilling or unable to engage the voters on the topic.

The economy didn't have to hurt McCain. He let it hurt him. He made it hurt him. It's foolish to expect a guy with seven homes, a jet, and a dozen cars to share the pain of the middle class or poor. It would be condescending for McCain to pretend he feels the ill effects of the economy in the same way the working man does. Nobody expects, or wants, him to do that. Just don't tell us it's all in our head.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Well-managed expectations.

Reading the account of Sarah Palin's tour of World Trade Center site, one quote stood out. No, she didn't say anything stupid. That's hardly noteworthy anymore. It was something someone else said.

After the tour, Palin observed a memorial wall with John Morabito, a firefighter with Ladder Company 10.

“She seems to be up to date [with] current events and everything that happened on 9/11. She’s been given enough information. I’m sure she knows as much as the common American.”

Are our expectations of her so low that it is in any way worth noting she knows as much of 9/11 "as the common American"? I would hope expect that anyone within spitting distance of the Presidency would know far more of the whats and whys of 9/11 than the common American. I can't imagine anyone making the same statement of McCain, Obama or Biden.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Whatever happend to all the fun in the world?

Of late, I've been listening to a lot of the Leningrad Cowboys, and Dread Zeppelin.

Until recently, I really didn't get it. There's lots of good new music out there. Much of it is really enjoyable....really good stuff. But there's very little out there that puts a big, stupid grin on my face. Maybe that's because there don't seem to be many bands out there that seem to be having fun. Robert Randolph and the Family Band are one of the few mainstream acts that seem to be enjoying themselves.

It's not that I've given up on finding fun in new music. The search goes on, but it can be a long, tedious slog. It would be nice if every band had some sort of visual clue, like a bunch of faux rastas and an Elvis impersonator, or unicorn hairdos, half-meter pointy shoes and the Russian Red Army Choir, but they don't. But when they do, you just might want to pay attention.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Insane Rant

The Honorable James David Manning defines the art of the Insane Rant. My hat's off to you, sir!

Sunday, September 14, 2008


I can just hear the inner dialog.

"Hmmmmmm....roof rack, or bitchin' paint job?"

"Bitchin' paint job, or roof rack?"

"Bitchin' paint job. Definitely."

From Cycling Weekly's coverage of the Tour of Britain:
Rock Racing's day of pain began when Oscar Sevilla crashed after hitting a cat eye and brought Hamilton down with him. Rock Racing's team car does not carry any spare bikes because it does not have a roof rack and so Hamilton had to change bikes three times, using a neutral service bike and then a bike borrowed from Great Britain. He missed the decisive attack on Exmoor and finished the stage blooded and brooding.
Michael Ball Tyler Hamilton deserve each other.

"Remain calm! All is well!"

Not wanting to sound too much like Kevin Bacon at the end of Animal House, but this week, seeing the panic among Democrats and and Obama supporters reacting to the polls, all I can say is calm the fuck down.

Not only isn't it as bad as it isn't bad at all. Really.

Back when McCain announced Palin as his VP pick, I wasn't alone in thinking it a Hail Mary. Of course, that was wrong. Right idea, wrong sport. The Hail Mary is an act of last-minute desperation--something you do when there's nothing left to lose. The Palin pick happened at the start of the contest. That leaves us searching for a better sports analogy.

Cycling anyone?

To understand what's going on, and why there is no need to panic, bicycle racing offers us a fitting analogy. Most experienced cyclists, or fans of the sport, have had the frustrating experience of, one hour into a six hour race, being asked by a casual fan, "Who's winning?" It's a frustrating question because you know you're going to spend the next five minutes explaining that, right now, no one is winning, it's a long race, and what's going on is simply tactics. And, at the end of that explanation, they're going to look back at you and say, "Yeah, but who's winning?"

The first weeks of the McCain campaign--the Palin pick, and the constant repetition of cheap and easily refuted lies--remind me of the Suicide Break in cycling. Unlike the Hail Mary, the Suicide Break is an act of first-minute desperation. It's the sort of thing you do when you know you're not the biggest, fastest, strongest team out there. It's what you do when you expect to lose. The suicide break only works when the other teams fuck up. If the chasing teams let the breakaway get too far up the road, or wait too long before starting to reel it back in, the break has a chance. Likewise, if the chasing teams let the breakaway change their tactics, and waste their energy reacting rather than racing their own race, the break has done its job. Usually, those things don't happen, and the break fails. That's why they're called Suicide Breaks. In the end, they garner a little drama, and some television exposure for the team sponsors, but little else.

Right now, it's early in the race. The break has gone up the road. But I've seen little to suggest that Obama is panicking and foolishly changing his tactics. Nor is there anything to suggest he underestimates the potential for danger. He's reacted as needed to keep the lies and misrepresentations from gaining ground. Instead, it seems the meme that McCain and Palin are desperate liars seems to be catching on. The media--always in search of an overriding narrative that will allow them to not actually have to do their job--seems to be buying into this.

Remember back to the primaries? After Ohio, and again after Pennsylvania, Obama supporters started to panic. They wondered why he didn't react. Why he didn't change tactics. They forgot, or didn't understand, that Obama is an Alinsky acolyte. He understands tactics. He didn't panic. And, in case you didn't notice, he won.

So, for now, stop worrying about who is winning. No one is winning. It's a long race. Let the tactics play out. Hand me a beer, sit back, and enjoy it.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Does anyone belive this?

It is, I know, subjective, but I really find McCain's claim that Palin, "knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America" unbelievable. Yes, oil comes from the ground and is piped around, but does she understand the energy market? On a global level? The economics? How our short-sighted monetary policy has impacted the price of oil? That she seems to suggest we can drill our way out of this problem suggests she really doesn't understand all that much. I don't know what is more telling....that McCain is foolish enough to make this ridiculous claim, or that nobody in the press understands enough about economics and the market to challenge him on it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

What's my iPod trying to tell me.

My Shuffle played Fight the Power, then People Have the Power.

Does this mean I'm supposed to fight the people?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

An Open Letter to Governor Palin

Governor Palin,

Please accept my sincere thanks for canceling the foolish and wasteful Gravina Island Bridge project. Questions of motive and timing be damned, killing the project was an act of fiscal responsibility, and we could use a whole lot more of that in these troubled times. Thank you!

There's just one small detail you overlooked. The federal government gave you two hundred and thrity-three million dollars to build that bridge. It seems to me, if someone gives you money to do something, and you don't do it, you should really give that money back. That's the way I do things, and tell my kids to do things. It just seems to be the right thing to do.

It's not like you need the money. With Alaska running a surplus in excess of five billion dollars, you've done things like suspending the gas tax, and giving an additional twelve hundred dollars to every man, woman and child in your state. Those are good and laudable things. When possible, government should stay out of the taxpayers' wallet.

Right now, you are in my--and the rest of the taxpayers in forty-nine other states--wallet. And it's money you clearly don't need. At the same time, there is much debt and need throughout this nation.

So I am asking you to do for the rest of us what you did for your constituents in Alaska. Do the fiscally responsible thing. The conservative thing. The right thing. Give it back.


If you want, you too can ask Governor Palin to do the right thing. Her email address is:

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Spare change you can believe in.

So, we know Sarah Palin vetoed the Bridge to Nowhere. We also know she kept the over $200 million US taxpayers coughed up for the project. So, does anyone know what it was spent on? I suspect most taxpayers would like to know. I certainly do.

What are you more comfortable with? Paying for a real project, with a real purpose, no matter how foolish? Or giving a politician 200mil in walking around money with NO accountability?

Friday, September 05, 2008

Am I missing something?


Lost in Translation

The perfect coffee for when you're clinging to God and guns:

And sometimes, ya gotta get:

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

You really, really like me!

It's time to stop thinking politics. If you think McCain's pick of Sarah Palin was about politics, you're wrong. It's about personality....more precisely, the cult of personality.

Last night's RNC looked something like a George Romero movie--lots of zombies and red meat. Unfortunately, it had none of the entertainment value. And that's a shame.

Fred Thompson's speech reads well, but the reality? Though some say he's a powerful speaker, all I saw was the dull, predictable delivery characteristic of his candidacy, a candidacy that couldn't hold even his own attention and garnered a whole eight delegates.

Joe Lieberman managed an impressive two delegates in his bid for the Democratic nomination in 2004, and his 2000 Vice Presidential bid best remembered for....well, I forget. This year, Republicans almost revolted at the idea his name might appear on the ticket with McCain. They were right. Last night he transcended boring.

Bush? The fact that he appeared from his exile in Elba (or wherever that was) speaks for itself.

Rudy Giuliani? He couldn't beat Clinton for the Senate, and didn't win a single delegate this year. The only people watching his speech tonight will be those with money on the over-under on how many times he says "9/11."

These just aren't interesting, or likable, people.

By contrast, Barack Obama is interesting. He is likable. He draws a crowd not only because of what he has to say, but how he says it, and, yes, because of who he is. And the McCain crowd gets it. They don't hate Obama because he is a celebrity, but because their guy isn't, and never will be. What he has to say isn't interesting, how he says it isn't interesting, and--for at least a decade--he hasn't been interesting.

These are boring, unlikable people, but it's the best they have. They may decry celebrity, but that's only because they don't have one.

Until now. Sarah Palin. Is she famous for anything she's done? How many people can name one actual thing she has done? Before McCain pulled her from obscurity, how man people had ever heard the name? But now, her name is on everyone's lips. It's a top search on Google. And why? She's kinda hot (if you buy into the "life begins at conception" thing, she's a GMILF). She wears a bikini and holds a gun! She had a baby. Her kid is having a baby. The tabloids clamor for the details of her life.

Right now, Sarah Palin isn't famous for anything she's done, but who she is. She's famous for being famous....just like Paris, Kim Kardashian, Kato Kaelin, and Kevin Federline. She is what the Republicans always accuse Obama of being--a celebrity. Because of that, when she speaks tonight, people will tune in. Not for what she has to say, but because of who she is. Because she is a celebrity.

No matter what she says tonight, the real message, for and from all of the Republican Party, will be a repeat of Sally Fields' 1985 acceptance speech for Places in the Heart: "I can't deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!"

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Beginning of The End?

Maybe it's because, as an atheist, being reviled by fundamentalist christians is old hat, but I just can't get worked up about the hateful rantings of John Hagee. Nor do I fret much about John McCain's acceptance of his endorsement. As with Obama and Reverend Wright, except as a political distraction, who cares? Except for one thing....

If you've ever seen all of the Hagee video, you know it's main theme is not what a naughty man the Pope is, but the End Times. The book of Revelations, and Armageddon. Hagee and others McCain has sought the endorsements of are among the loudest cheerleaders for the Apocalypse. They don't only believe it's coming, they can't wait for it. Tomorrow isn't soon enough. And much of their vision of the end times centers on the middle east, Israel and Iran in particular.

Even that alone isn't enough to cause me to question McCain's association with Hagee. But consider, McCain recently changed his religious affiliation to Souther Baptist. And while the Convention has no formal position on the end times , it's pretty obvious the doctrine is pervasive in Southern Baptist beliefs. And, that deserves a great deal of scrutiny. As a military power deeply entrenched in the middle east, smack dab in the middle between Israel and Iran, a presence McCain suggests will continue on some level for 100 years, what, exactly is McCain's view of the End Times? Which interpretation of Revelations does he believe in? Does he agree that the US will play a pivotal role in the inevitable apocalypse?

Before we hand over the keys of a nuclear arsenal, and command of our conventional military power to McCain, somebody really needs to ask the question, "does Reverend Hagee love the idea of the end of times as much as you do?" Why hasn't this become more of an issue?