Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Some thoughts on the [please let it be] final debate

I think Obama basically won (surprise!). Not a knockout, but he offered nothing cringeworthy, either. Obama would have basically had to completely botch the mission for Clinton to have won, and he didn't. Clinton offered a few "ouch" moments. For example, the "you always ask me the first question" response. What the hell was that? I don't even know what point she was trying to make, so at best it was a non sequitur.
Russert didn't look good, but does he ever? As Josh Marshall notes, his insistence on reading Farrakhan's noxious quotes into the record was just bizarre.

Also, in the post-game on MSNBC, Chris Matthews is coming off as (surprise) a fool. Watching Matthews force Jesse Jackson to admit that Barack Obama is a better speaker than him was kind of painful. That question accomplished nothing, and made me kind of sad (and I'm no huge Jackson-backer, either).

And Stephanie Tubbs Jones does not come off well as a Clinton spokesperson. She looked adequate when she was opposite Captain Knucklehead, but when she has no moron as a foil, she looks ineffectual and a little spastic.

The Hives

It appears as though Skippy the Bush Kangaroo has posted a video by The Hives as his Monday Night Music Club. In which case-Yay!
The Hives are the bee's knees. Or should that be "the bees' knees"?
It's all so confusing. let's just call them the cat's pajamas and let it go at that.


Well, dammit. Professor Lawrence Lessig has decided not to run for Congress, despite my support for his potential campaign.
Apparently the polling showed that he simply couldn't beat Jackie Speier. And couldn't even avoid a crushing blowout.
Nonetheless, I would have loved to have seen him in Congress. I still would. But I support his change congress movement more, and I encourage you to do whatever you can to help him with it. He really is a very very smart man, with creative approaches to difficult problems. Moreover, he is an incredibly classy man, as evidenced by his frequent iteration of the fact that Speier has been such a capable public servant over the years (and he's right about that).
Professor Lessig's videos are extraordinarily calm, cogent, downright grown-up explanations of where he's coming from and I find them refreshing as hell.
But the change congress organization is the action now, and that's simply a group of ideas whose time has come, regardless of the man spearheading it, or his electoral fortunes.
Give the site a gander.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I wonder

Just thinking aloud here, but...
I wonder if Gore has refused to endorse (or if Gore has been asked not to endorse by someone like...say...Howard Dean) so he can be one of the final coffin nails should Clinton try to stay in post-March 4.
Of course, post March 4 would be post-post-firewall, so my hypothesis may assume too much prognostication.
BUT-Al Giordano at the Field was predicting a Gore endorsement for Obama as far back as late January. It may be that he was asked to hold off so he could put the Clinton campaign out of its and our misery before it becomes a superdelegate showdown (or a member of the team sent on that mission-remember, Pelosi and Edwards have yet to endorse as well). That role seems to suit his elder-statesman image pretty well.
But what do I know-I'm just thinking here...

Outta my mouth!

So I was all set to put up a post about this embarrassing exchange between Chris Matthews and Texas state senator Kirk Watson.
The upshot of it was going to be that contrary to various comments I've seen here and there (and there), the real story of Watson's inability to name any of Obama's legislative accomplishments is about Watson, not Obama.

This guy belly-flopping on the question (and make no mistake: it was a real, flat-out, from the 10 meter platform, doesn't penetrate more than an inch below the water, rib-cracking, skin-breaking belly-flop) doesn't mean Obama doesn't have legislative accomplishments. It doesn't even really mean this guy doesn't know Obama's legislative accomplishments. All it means is that he was the wrong guy, in the wrong frame of mind, on the wrong show, at the wrong time. That's the charitable interpretation. The less charitable interpretation is that the man is a buffoon.

Either way, it says nothing about whether Obama actually accomplished anything in the US Senate or in the Illinois State Senate. And that works both ways-it doesn't point out a lack of accomplishment or the presence of accomplishment. At worst, it points out a poor choice of surrogate by the Obama campaign.

I'm sure the post I had in mind would have been sharp enough and that you would have enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed thinking it up. But now I don't have to write that post at all, because Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings wrote it for me. With polished prose and everything! The major difference between my embryonic post and her full-term one is that hers is well researched and actually has links to bills Obama sponsored in the US Senate. Not even from his website either, but legitimate links to government databases!

Go read the whole thing.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

David Frum: irony proof.

Crooks and Liars » Larry King: David Frum Is Told His Kettle Is Black

Wow. Not only is a speechwriter attacking a politician for using someone else's words, but he's claiming Obama is a completely insignificant person who has never accomplished anything. David Frum is/was a supporter and employee of George W. Bush.
Yes, that George W. Bush. The one who, the panelists on the video ably point out, did nothing but fail spectacularly in business prior to being propped up by his daddy's pals in the GOP establishment.

But he keeps a straight face and that's gotta count for something. Go check it out for yourself.

What's momentum?

Momentum in a political campaign is such an ephemeral and difficult to rationalize thing. It seems to actually exist, but why does it happen?
There are obviously the practical advantages of racking up endorsements-influential email lists, superdelegates, etc.
But this post by Ann Althouse hints at something that's been in the back of my mind over the last month or so. Is it possible that momentum is partly the result of people feeling that they have permission to vote against the front-runner only after (s)he is wounded? Obviously that makes some sense with politicians' endorsements-they simply can't risk being on the losing team because they need the access to the winner their support can buy.
But with ordinary voters, is it possible that once the "inevitable," powerful front-runner is shown to be vulnerable, people feel like they are then allowed to vote some someone else? I'm not sure I like the idea, but it does make some sense from an evolutionary psychology perspective.
I should also note that I ordinarily don't agree with a lot of what Professor Althouse posts about politics, but this particular post got me thinking.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Get in there!

Sometimes you just get an itch on your brain. What are you gonna do but scratch it?
If you've ever wondered how much it would suck to have someone shooting photos of you all day long, check this collection out.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

If it's all about executive management...

...this should concern primary voters:
Rather than punish Solis Doyle or raise questions about her fitness to lead, Clinton chose her to manage the presidential campaign for reasons that should now be obvious: above all, Clinton prizes loyalty and discipline, and Solis Doyle demonstrated both traits, if little else. This suggests to me that for all the emphasis Clinton has placed on executive leadership in this campaign, her own approach is a lot closer to the current president’s than her supporters might like to admit.
Rumsfeld was a bad defense secretary because he had bad ideas. Rumsfeld became a horrific disaster of a defense secretary because the president, prizing loyalty above competence, failed (for years) to send him packing when it became clear how bad those ideas were.

I'm sweating!

You will be too after watching this funky jam.

Hil. A. Ree. For. You. And. Me.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Most worthless?

I'm trying hard to imagine a less worthy use of Congress's time and resources than a hearing into whether some baseball players took steroids. I'm having a hard time coming up with one.

Yeah, maybe it's not so cool that pro baseball players are doping up and maybe it sends a bad message to the kids. But congressional hearings? Really?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Romney Out

I'm watching Romney's withdrawal speech on MSNBC right now. What a delightful sight-from Laura Ingraham pissing all over John McCain while introducing Romney, to the ignorant hordes howling in horror as he says he's out, to Romney's refusal to endorse. The Republican Party is self-immolating.

By the way, it's interesting that Romney called anything lessening the chance that McCain would win in the general aiding in surrender to the enemy (way to keep it classy, Mitts!) immediately after Ingraham did everything she could to diminish McCain. Circular firing squad much?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Matthews: Still an idiot.

"'We are the ones we've been waiting for,' I LOVED that line!"
---And so did the Hopis who coined the phrase. And so did Maria Shriver, who used it on Sunday. Jeeeezus, Chris-if your job is to be on top of political news, how the hell can you expect people to take you seriously when you clearly missed a HUGE story two days ago?
Hell, I like the line, too, but it isn't like Obama just invented the airplane.

Zogby-set to "ignore."

Pollster John Zogby: “In California, we have Obama polling into a 13-point lead. Monday was another big single day of polling for him there. What has happened here is that in addition to building leads among almost every part of his base of support, he has dramatically cut into Clinton’s lead among Hispanic voters.

Can we start ignoring Zogby polls now? Please?

And Alaska!

Woo hoo!
I just gave Obama a little money (a little's all I got, really).

Show me!

Looks like Missouri is Obama's. No small feat, that.
Also: Is there a bigger douche on earth than Jay Carson? Yes, but there aren't many.


This sucks.
It'll be interesting to see the delegate split, though. Not so dramatic, I'd imagine. We'll see tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

More Obama

"...because this time the campaign for the presidency is different."
Ain't it though?
This race is ridiculous. I shall never again complain about a boring primary season or campaign of any sort. I am losing years from my life...

Skills like it's going out of style!

Obama's condolences to the victims of the storms in the south? Pitch perfect. Substantive or not, he's very very very good.

And the fact that his speech came right after McCain's shows that an Obama/McCain race in November would be a perfect delight. Obama wouldn't win-he'd destroy. It would be like Muhammad Ali circa 1969 fighting Matlock.

McCain: Captain Excitement

I'm watching his speech and he has about as much pizzazz as a boiled turnip.


Good god, y'all. This super super tsunami tsuesday business is going to kill me.
All I know for sure is that The Field is just knocking it out of the park. Al Giordano's predictions (of which there were many) have been startlingly accurate-and not because they were just reiterations of conventional wisdom (to the extent there can be said to have been actual conventional wisdom). He said Connecticut would be Lamont v. Lieberman redux (with Hillary in the Lieberman role-ouch!). And lo and behold, it appears to have followed that script very closely.


Sometimes things seem just too coincidental to be coincidental and you have to wonder if there really is some magic mojo at work. For example, I was perusing Sisyphus Shrugged this evening, where I was alerted to the existence of this little gem of an article from the July 9, 1998 edition of the Washington Post. Up top:
John McCain has more pressing worries than eligibility on the road to the Republican presidential nomination in 2000....But is he constitutionally qualified to become president? McCain was indeed born in the Canal Zone, and Article II of the Constitution plainly states that "no person except a natural born Citizen... shall be eligible to the Office of President."
And so on...
Now down below:
The citizenship question has come up in past presidential campaigns. George Romney, the late Michigan governor and a leading aspirant for the 1968 Republican presidential nomination, was born in Chihuahua, Mexico. His support nose-dived following his September 1967 statement that he was "brainwashed" by the U.S. military during a visit to Vietnam.
All in one freakishly coincidental, decade old blurb in the what the hell section of the Post. Weird. Not weird enough, at the end of the day, for me to get any ideas about prescience or destiny. The amount of ink and pixels spilled in any given decade is so mind-bogglingly huge that anyone of a mind to find coincidences or apparently successful soothsaying* can manage without much trouble.
'Cept it doesn't look like anyone was trying to find any such, and ain't that neat?

*Yes, there are cleaner phrases than "successful soothsaying." It has a ring. Back off.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Yes We Can

Watch this. Seriously. Do it. It's an Obama-supporting video, but if you aren't down with Obama, watch it just as a little pick-me-up of inspiration. It can be viewed without partisanship.
Here are my observations:
1) When your speeches can be put to music and not sound totally crazy-you are good.
2) This was recorded on January 30th and 31st, based on a speech given two and a half weeks ago and I am watching it, all slickly produced and professional, on February third. Sometimes I love living in the future.

Update: Liza at culturekitchen had the following take on the song/video:
"I believe the measure of a leader is in their ability to inspire their supporters creatively."
Ding ding ding. Ladies and gentlemen we have a winner!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Holy crap!

MAPA's no joke. That's good news-if for nothing else than as a chunk of the identity politics wall taken down.

Serious Pundits Discuss the Issues

Serious Pundits Discuss the Issues

Tom Tomorrow takes the TV pundits to task in this cartoon for reporting on dumb, non-substantive, horserace kind of news at the expense of actual analysis of policy positions. I wonder if this is what you get when you insist on an unbiased media? If the pundits on TV are afraid of being called biased, they will necessarily shy away from reporting about issues-remember the claims of bias come from all sides. I think we'd be better off with the various outlets being upfront about their biases and letting them approach the issues from a known perspective. Hell, Fox news has no problem talking (through their hats) about issues-and I know exactly how much credence to give the opinions they share.