Saturday, August 30, 2008

How is it possible that a candidate who would be the most physically feeble President we've ever elected is giving us a vice-president that nobody knows about, with little relevant experience, none of which she's been at long enough for us to evaluate, and with almost no time for the press corps to investigate and question her? We went through this 19 months of grueling presidential scrutiny, weeding out the strong candidates from the weak, testing them under all kinds of various pressures, and are left with a VP who has been through virtually none of that, ever, in any context, sitting a 72-year-old heartbeat away from the nuclear buttons?

What the hell? Are we in the middle of some kind of bad Reese Witherspoon movie?

Is McCain insane?

Friday, August 29, 2008

All Out for Hillary Voters
McCain picks Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

If I could ask McCain one question about the pick I would ask him if he would have still selected Palin had Obama picked Hillary, because the answer is clearly NO, though he would have to say YES. There is a serious (72-year-old) heartbeat-from-the-presidency issue for a VP with so little experience. But there is also a McCain character question that continues to grow. Tasked with his first major presidential decision, John McCain made a deliberately political choice, rather than a principled one. That much seems unquestionable.
Post-Speech Thought
I didn't listen to lots of post-speech coverage, but I heard even Pat Buchanan say he thought Obama's was the best Convention speech he had ever heard. I thought it went really well. What did you think? If you missed the speech, you can watch it here.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

"I Thought I Had Cried All My Tears"
On this day 45 years ago, Dr. King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial in DC. Not many figures in history could claim to have given an address that became so ingrained in culture that - in the course of less than a generation - it was a staple in grade school education all across the country. I first heard it in school almost 30 years ago.

It is the quintessential expression of the American ethos at its best. That's why it's so revered, and why - despite the objections of John McCain at the time (how is that judgment, again?) - Dr. King has a holiday, to remember what he stood for, and how he stood for it.

But that's not the reason for this post. It's this: 9 other great Americans gave speeches that day as part of the March on Washington in August, 1963. All of them have passed away, except one: Congressman John Lewis of Georgia. 45 years later, he will speak again, ahead of Barack Obama's acceptance speech. This morning, NPR interviewed an emotional Lewis. I almost had to pull the car over. You can read it, but I recommend clicking the link to listen and hear his voice. Besides, maybe it's because I was driving when I heard it, but I would swear their transcript gets a key statement wrong. He didn't say "But I've cried all my tears." He said, weeping and surprised, "I thought I had cried all my tears." [UPDATE: Check the comments - they fixed the transcript]

I understand there would be a political risk in assuming too much connection between King's speech and Obama's address tonight. And I was initially wary of the campaign making too much of the anniversary. But now I think it would be a mistake not to pay significant homage to that moment, and the movement that - whether some like to hear it or not - now includes Senator Obama's candidacy in its embrace. Today, I'm not inclined to pander to the bigots who - once opposed to uplifting King's legacy - now cry "presumptuous" at Obama's claim on history.

I suspect Rep. Lewis will not be alone in his surprise at the level of emotion that comes from this recognition, that in Obama the bridge connecting today to August 28, 1963 has a new and potent steadying brace on which to build. There's going to be waterworks tonight, folks. I say, let 'em flow.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Simply the best. Thank God for him.

Why is that so hard?

Tonight is the highlight of the convention - clearly. And we haven't even gotten to Biden yet. Not just Bill, but John Kerry - who was on fire - Tammy Duckworth, Chet Edwards, and a few people I don't even know, hammered McCain and Bush for their mistreatment of troops and foreign policy. One thing is clear from tonight: the military is pissed at Republicans. Too bad the networks have missed it. Here's hoping the cable boxes of undecided voters across Colorado, Ohio, Florida, Nevada got somehow stuck on C-Span for a few hours.

In case you missed it, here's Kerry. Ya think he's out for some revenge?
McCain's Misogyny [UPDATED]
Perhaps building on the post below, I note with interest the celebration surrounding John McCain's endorsement by Latino star (apparently) "Daddy Yankee", whose hit song "Gasolina" is, well, not about fossil fuel. [Be careful with that link if you are at takes you to some explicit explanation of the song's lyrics, as well as a music video that rather sells the point.]

Taken together - the cruelty toward Chelsea, the crudity toward Hillary, this new, let's call it teenage sexploitation endorsement, plus - don't forget - McCain's earlier suggestion that his wife should enter something of a topless fornication pageant at the Sturgis Festival, and you've got a candidate with a pretty disturbingly well-defined anti-woman resume.

You'd think after a while someone in the press corps might put this together and ask a few questions - not of McCain, but of the conservative religious crowd he so needs to have a chance at winning in November.

[UPDATE: As it turns out, teenage sexploitation specialist "Daddy Yankee" initially approached the Obama campaign for an endorsement (desperately seeking to break into the over-18 voting crowd?) but was rebuffed, for exactly the reasons that McCain's camp should be skewered for accepting him. For their part, the McCain campaign - presumably because they can't imagine any campaign might function with integrity - doesn't believe the Obama report.

It would be nice if the communication between the "gasolina" artist and the Obama campaign were archived in some form to prove them wrong. In such a case, I would trumpet this essential difference in campaign values every hour of every day from now until November. Maybe that's why I don't run political campaigns.]

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Maybe I'm Crazy
But I'd like to see someone tonight - even Chelsea Clinton herself - make reference to the crude joke McCain told about her when she was 18, and would like to see Hillary talk about McCain laughing and saying "good question" when someone asked him during the primaries "How do we beat the bitch"?

I know, Americans don't like politicians playing the victim or that can't take a joke. But if Clinton supporters are going to really flirt with voting for him, they should have to come to terms with just what a woman-hating, anti-Clinton asshole he is.
The good news is that the number of uninsured has finally dropped. The bad news is that the only reason it has is that *so many people* are now poor enough to qualify for Medicaid.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Kennedy Tribute
Michelle was fabulous tonight (transcript here). If that doesn't warm the cold-hearted skeptics to her, then I guess that just can't be done. But the thing I'll remember about tonight was the tribute to Teddy. Caroline's speech was moving and then the video tribute really got me. Below is a bit from her intro, and then the video, in case you missed it.
For 46 years, he has been so much more than just a senator for the people of Massachusetts. He’s been a senator for all who believe in a dream that’s never died. If you’re no longer being denied a job because of your race, gender or disability, or if you’ve seen a rise in the minimum wage you’re being paid, Teddy is your senator, too.

If your children are receiving health care thanks to the Children’s Health Insurance Program, if you see a nurse at a community health center or if you’re benefiting from the Medicare program that he fought to create, and that just last month he returned to the Senate to save, Teddy is your senator too. If your child is getting an early boost in life through Head Start, or attending a better school or can go to college because a Pell grant has made it more affordable, Teddy is your senator too. And if you’re an 18-year-old who’s going to vote for the first time — and I bet it’ll be for Barack Obama — Teddy is your senator, too.
What have you been watching, listening to, reading?

Film Recommendation
I saw the incredible documentary Man on Wire last week. Will hopefully have time to say more about this later, but I think it's pretty easily the best film I've seen this year. If you get a chance to catch it, do! Here's the trailer, though it doesn't exactly portray the true tone of the movie:

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Random Sunday Question
What did Ron Paul do with all of that money he raised?

Friday, August 22, 2008

I don't typically enjoy the sensation of reacting positively to a David Brooks column. It makes me wonder if I'm ill. But he has a good piece today on the merits of picking Joe Biden as VP. I learned some things about Joe I didn't know that will make me even happier if he should turn up on the ticket tomorrow (or later today).

Bayh update: Indiana out of reach?

Tennessee update: Being annexed by Alabama?
Everyone in my office is aware of how many homes they own. Make sure you check with everyone in yours. (Consulting with assistants or staff is not allowed)
And Another
This is getting fun...
The Too-Many-Houses Story Has Legs?
From Politico (via TPM):
The McCains increased their budget for household employees from $184,000 in 2006 to $273,000 in 2007, according to John McCain's tax returns.

The additional cash supports an "increase in the number of employees," the McCain aide told Politico. The aide did not answer a question about whether the growing staff stemmed from addition of new properties to the family's real estate portfolio.
That's certainly something all Americans can relate to, right? 1/4 million dollars a year on "household employees"... He's out of touch, out of touch, out of touch.

While we're at it, I'm sure someone's checked into the legal status of said employees? Were they paid a living wage? Health-care benefits?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

More Like It

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Stop Begging
This is right, and similar to what I was trying to say earlier.
Big Event in Indy?
Fwiw, the Nashville Post is reporting that campaign staff from around the country are coming to Indianapolis for a big announcement. has learned that senior campaign officials from the Barack Obama Presidential campaign are being dispatched from various locations around the country and are converging in Indianapolis for a “major event” to take place on Saturday.
Sources in Denver, the site of next week's Democratic National Convention, say that individuals responsible for Obama's major public appearances have been pulled out of the city and are heading east towards Indiana.
Ken Whitehouse is a good reporter with good sources. I guess we'll see if this is it, and it's Bayh, which would be fine by me.

Winning Indiana would combine with Iowa and NM to overcome a loss in Ohio. The math is right. I could see Obama losing the popular vote and still winning the presidency this way.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tuesday VP Talk
Biden gaining rumor mill steam?

Gore finally slated to speak at Convention - last night in the stadium with Obama.

Some techie sleuths think they've figured out it's Sebelius. It might be, but I'm not buying the argument.

I don't think Biden brings a state, but otherwise I don't mind. He's fiery and smart with lots of experience. If I was going to be President, I would want him to be a key foreign policy adviser. Whether that means the place for him is VP is another question, but I think his political skills make him preferable to other Senators with similar experience like Reed, Dodd and Kerry.
Obama at VFW
You can read the prepared remarks and see the video of the speech Obama gave today to the Veterans of Foreign Wars here, the day after McCain spoke to the same crowd and went back again to questioning Obama's patriotism in his views on the war. Obama responded directly to that charge, and TPM's Greg Sargent says:
Obama declared that it's time for McCain to "acknowledge" that Obama genuinely wants to serve America's national interest. It'll be interesting to see what McCain says if and when he's asked directly by reporters whether he's prepared to acknowledge this -- and how hard the national press corps will grill him for a direct answer to the question.
I don't think this is a positive development. We don't need more and more news cycles of asking John McCain if maybe, just maybe Obama only loves his country slightly less than he does, rather than much less. Why give in to the offensive notion that McCain is the proper judge of who loves the country enough?

When I complain that Obama is not hitting back hard, I'm not wanting stuff like this. I'm wanting him to hit McCain over what he would do to the country with his horrible ideas. I don't want the press corps asking about Obama's patriotism; I want them asking why continuing this war with no end in sight - and against the wishes of the American people - at $1 Billion/month - is worth it? McCain is distracting attention away from his policies, which the majority of voters disagree with.

McCain is not the arbiter of love of country. Don't explain that you love it. Show it, in your passion and your agenda. And accuse McCain of reverting to a politics of division that is trying to hide his agenda beneath scurrilous attacks. After 8 years of Bush, we need an infusion of character in our politics, and sanity in our policies. McCain currently offers neither.

Monday, August 18, 2008

VP Deep Thought Question
Between now and the Convention, the longer Obama waits to announce his running mate, the better known they likely are? Less of a need to introduce the person to the country in a series of news profiles? If he waits until the Convention itself, that increases the chances it's Hillary? Would need to get someone like Sebelius out there ASAP? Someone like Biden sometime in between?
What have you been reading, watching, listening to?

New From Old
I've been listening to the All Songs Considered podcast recently and it pointed me to a couple of new recordings by not-so-new artists that may be worth checking out. David Byrne and Brian Eno have teamed up again for the first time since My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. Everything That Happens Will Happen Today is available now. You can hear a track in that podcast - link here. Apparently, David Byrne will start touring the material this fall.

Also Randy Newman has a new CD out that sounds great.You can hear a track from Harps and Angels in the Aug. 4 podcast.

Weekend Box Office
1. Tropic Thunder
2. Dark Knight
3. Star Wars: Clone Wars
4. Mirrors
5. Pineapple Express

Sunday, August 17, 2008

More VP Talk
Steve Clemons says he knows something, but not everything.
[S]ources close to Obama report to me that after the "surge of concern" on the net about Evan Bayh, he has not been selected as Obama's VP running mate.

I have been informed that the decision has been made, and I don't know who that person is.

I also have been told that Tom Daschle is not the running mate. I also happen to know that it is not Wesley Clark.

I just received word that it is not Senator Jack Reed either, though Obama thought very highly of him.
I would be very disappointed if Bayh was passed over because of "concern on the net". We've got to deal with the electoral map. If Obama wins Ohio, then he's going to win and all is well. But if he loses there (and now it's looking tied after months of leading), some things have to go right. If we win all the Kerry states plus Iowa and New Mexico - as looks like a fair bet - that still leaves Obama 5 EVs behind. Colorado would do it. Nevada would do it. Montana PLUS Alaska would do it. Virginia would do it. And Indiana would do it. Bayh would bring Indiana. Who cares what his policy differences are!? Yeah liberals would get annoyed - and since when has *that* been a problem with the American electorate? And can we point to even *one* person who would have voted for Obama but won't if Evan Bayh is on the ticket?

I know, I know, I haven't exactly been a champion of Bayh until recently, and I'm still not *in any substantive way*, but come on let's look at the map. If the pick doesn't wind up making strong electoral sense (and I can only see 2 - Kaine and Bayh - that do), I'm going to be very confused. And if he picks someone else and we go on to lose by those 5 EVs, going down in both IN and VA by slim margins, he's got lots of splainin' to do. Indiana's right there for the taking.

Worrying about the liberal vote...sheesh, pleeeze. Of all the moronic things to worry about, what liberals think about the VP has got to be the most pointless. Pick Evan Bayh, win his 11 electoral votes, go to Washington and put him in a box somewhere for the next 4 years and don't let him out.

I should say...Clemons also tries to tantalize us with one more hint he got.
One well placed political expert just told me on the phone that we may all be wrong and that Obama could come out with something completely unexpected -- a Hillary Clinton or even (and this shocked me) Al Gore or John Kerry.
But note the differences. This is a political expert (not the source "close to Obama"), who says we "may all be wrong" (not that he has the slightest information that we are). This last bit is just idle speculation the same you or I could engage in. That said, I would have a positive response to either Gore or Hillary, even though the potential for electoral vote regret would be the same I mentioned above.
Not a Good Feeling
After that Saddlebrook Church CNN presidential forum last night. Watched the replay. If this is a preview of debate style, Obama is in for some tough nights. He seemed thoughtful, hesistant and nuanced in his approach to complex issues - which he answered in a halting, conversational style with the moderator. McCain was passionate, direct, seemed more awake, and spoke to the audience.

Of the 2 approaches, we know which generally wins presidential elections. It's only surprising the Obama campaign doesn't seem to know.

I put links to the video and transcript up at the other blog. Check it out if you want to watch or read the event online.

On other depressing campaign news, McCain has broken through his 44% ceiling in the Gallup tracking poll.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday Night Deep Thought: Olympic Edition
Many sports play well on TV. Badminton is not one of them.
I suppose, Obama has to announce his choice next week, since the Convention begins the week after that. Jerome at MYDD believes the speaking schedule announced rules out some high-profile candidates:
The headline prime-time speaker on Wednesday will be Barack Obama's Vice Presidential Nominee.
Former President Bill Clinton will speak on Barack Obama's commitment to a stronger and safer America, as well as the history of Democrats making positive change in the lives of all Americans.

Governor Bill Richardson and Senators Evan Bayh, Joe Biden and Jay Rockefeller will echo Obama's call for a new direction in national security and outline his policies and plans to secure America's future.
That, he concludes, takes Bayh, Biden and Richardson out of the running. But I'm not so sure. What would be so difficult about moving them from one slot on Wednesday to another? Anyway, announcing that slot now gives them a speaking assignment to start working on that speech...presumably before knowing it will really be an address given as the Vice President selection. It's hard to see how this schedule release really rules anyone out.

Or maybe I just want to think Bayh is still in the running. I've warmed up to the idea of his selection for one simple reason: he would bring Indiana. Which other choice has a definite electoral college advantage (besides VA's Kaine)?

[UPDATE: Here's a list of possibles and their supposed status. Those not yet crossed out include also Chet Edwards (who I like a lot, and if Obama's not going with one of the 2 that could win a state, I would be pulling for Chet), Chris Dodd, John Kerry, Wes Clark, Jack Reed and Sam Nunn.]

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Article 19 Nutrition Quiz
Quick, label the following as either a fruit or a vegetable:
--String Beans

If you said they are all fruits except for the're right. Yes, now I'm really confused too. Read all about it, and why strawberries and blackberries are not really berries, here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I'm a Champion
My teevee just told me that if I've had a Coke in the last 80 years, I've "had a hand" in every Olympic gold medal won since then. Who knows what kind of great stuff other people will continue to do if only I will keep drinking Coke.
Who's On the Fence?
According to polls, about 10-12% of likely voters just don't know which candidate they will choose when they get in the voting booth in a couple of months. Some 5% beyond that seem to be capable of changing their pick from week to week, depending on completely bizarre, irrelevant campaign trivia.

Some but not all of this phenomenon is due to the well-meaning people - you may know a few - who believe there is lots to like about John McCain, and are convinced he's a good, honorable guy, hence worth considering for President. These folks always thought of him as their Favorite Republican. Their one-time willingness to vote for him was the last scrap of evidence they could point to indicating they were Non-Partisan, as they hate to refer to themselves as Democrats, because that kind of team-based political cheerleading is for non-thinking Americans. To be a reasonable person, the argument goes I guess, you have to be willing to vote for the candidate whose policies best represent your values *and* sometimes the one who does not, to show you're not tied to that worst of all beasts Political Parties.

All of that to say, after sending them daily reminders of the Supreme Court's oldest members, you might also ask your bi-partisan friends to think about McCain's response to Russia's increasingly aggressive stance. You could do worse, as Josh Marshall says, than to start here, with Republican Andrew Sullivan's reaction. [UPDATE: And here's a more pointed critique from Josh here.]

Tell them that after they come to grips with voting for Obama, they will still have Lincoln Chafee and Colin Powell to like.

Monday, August 11, 2008

What have you been reading, listening to, watching?

RIP, Isaac Hayes
But did he really create the "Memphis sound"? Just askin.' Perhaps sadly for him, whatever else worthwhile he did musically, I'll always remember him for his Chocolate Salty Balls.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Russia-Georgia Background
If you're as clueless as I am, this NYTimes piece is a good place to start for a primer.

And you can check the Wikipedia entries on the territories in question: Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Friday, August 08, 2008

When You Sue, Settle
From today's NYTimes:
That is the clear lesson of a soon-to-be-released study of civil lawsuits that has found that most of the plaintiffs who decided to pass up a settlement offer and went to trial ended up getting less money than if they had taken that offer.
Defendants made the wrong decision by proceeding to trial far less often, in 24 percent of cases, according to the study; plaintiffs were wrong in 61 percent of cases.
I don't know that this is the right way to measure a gamble, though. The question is not how *often* either side comes out ahead or behind, but how much do they stand to lose or gain when they do. The piece goes on to tell that when defendants do get it wrong it costs them on average over $1 million, while plaintiff mistakes cost on average $43,000.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

How Many Countries Can You Name in 5 Minutes?
Not a tremendously proud Article 19 showing. I got 50 the first time, but spent the last 2 minutes staring at the screen and trying to remember the Risk board. Then tried again and got 60 (without looking at the list of those I missed). The time starts when the page loads - also you don't need to hit enter. It will count your country as soon as you spell it correctly. Here's the link. Don't think about it. Just click the link and start typing.

Disclaimer: I got this game through the blog Bold Confessor, and not through the, ahem, dating site I just realized it's attached to.
Your Co-Worker May Be Secretly Delusional
I am not sure the evidence is solid against Bruce Ivins being the anthrax killer. But it is solid against him having a grip on reality. Still, he managed to keep his high security job handling dangerous biological toxins.
“I wish I could control the thoughts in my mind,” he added a month later in another message to a colleague. “It’s hard enough sometimes controlling my behavior. When I am being eaten alive inside, I always try to put on a good front here at work and at home, so I don’t spread the pestilence.”

He continued, “I get incredible paranoid, delusional thoughts at times, and there’s nothing I can do until they go away.”

These e-mail messages...provide glimpses into the personality of a man obsessed with a sorority that he first encountered while an undergraduate, asserting in an e-mail message that the women’s group was waging a “fatwah” against him.
I don't expect a military microbiologist to be an especially normal fellow. But neither should the lab that hires him. Let's watch the guys working on the deadly substances a little more closely please...

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Obama back in front in Rasmussen tracking poll, ahead by 4 by 2 in Gallup, and 6 in AP/Ipsos.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Pride in Their Ignorance
Another Obama statement I like:
I Like
You like?
Asked about the McCain campaign's claim that Obama had "played the race card" — one McCain spokesman had suggested that McCain was being painted as a racist — Obama called the criticism an attempt to alter the campaign's focus.

He added of the Republicans' approach: "They're very good at negative campaigning. They're not so good at governing."
This election message should be simple. Republican policies and ineptitude have gotten the country in the mess we're in now. McCain is proposing to continue the failed strategies of the past 8 years.

Though he has to pass a basic test of acceptability, this election really isn't and shouldn't be about Obama. It's about the last 8 years of failed government. Democrats need to get better about saying that same thing over and over again between now and November.

Monday, August 04, 2008

What have you been reading, listening to, watching?

Weekend Box Office

1. The Dark Knight
2. The Mummy
3. Step Brothers
4. Mamma Mia
5. Journey to the Center of Earth