Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Quiet Time in 2009

What a year. Obama was elected president. The economy went in the tank. The Olympics were even better than usual. Kansas City sports teams were even worse than usual. Personally, my life had some serious upheaval. The whole year it seems was one big event after another.

It was sometimes unbelievable fun and sometimes maddeningly frustrating. But it was certainly not low key. So how about we pull 2009 aside and tell her that a little rest would be nice? I'm not asking for a boring year, but a year where the peaks and valleys were a little less pronounced would be just fine. I think we've all earned it.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pet Peeve

Richard Cohen has an article about President Bush's reading list as provided by Karl Rove. He makes a great, if not entirely novel, point about the list being long but narrow. One more example of the president's unwillingness to consider other points of view. Great. I'm all on board with the idea.

But then Richard Cohen says this:

Bush read some novels, but they are mostly pre-movies, plotted not written, and lacking the beauty of worldly cynicism. I recommend Giuseppe di Lampedusa's "The Leopard." Delicious.
Delicious. I can think of no other word that makes me consider its user more pompous or pretentious. And for some reason it is literature that most often brings out this behavior in people. Other known causes are art films, installations, and general prickishness.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Back to Reality

If you are fortunate enough that your parents still live in your childhood home, and that your childhood was a pleasant experience, then you probably know that spending a few days at home can be a great experience. For me, it means great meals and lounging on the couch. It also means that I get to check out of reality for a few days. The internet connection at my parent's house is still highly suspect, so I tend not to spend large amounts of time keeping up with the world in my usual fashion.

As always, reality returns at some point. Today, I find that Iraq is having a resurgence of violence, Israel and Hamas are again at the brink of war, and a bitter divorce led to an 8 year old being shot in the face by Santa Claus. The real world is back, and I'm already looking forward to the next time it takes a short leave.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

80's Movie Line: Holiday Edition


Alright, Die Hard isn't really a comedy. And this quote doesn't have anything to do with Christmas. But the fact is that there are quite a few Christmas quotes in the movie, and none of them are as good as the one below.

Those of you who have seen the movie will remember that John needed shoes really bad.

John McClane: Nine million terrorists in the world and I gotta kill one with feet smaller than my sister.

Snow Day Comics



I miss Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin's snowmen are one of the main reasons.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Speaking of Carl

This is maybe the best promotion I have ever heard from a minor league team.

WICHITA, KS- The Wichita Thunder has announced they will host "Carl Peterson - Blame the GM Night" for this Saturday's home game versus the Rapid City Rush.

The promotion is on behalf of all Kansas City Chiefs fans who learned Monday that longtime General Manager Carl Peterson had resigned from his position.

Any Thunder fan with the first name "Carl" or the last name "Peterson" will receive free admission to Saturday's game. Any fan wearing Chiefs gear will receive buy one get one free tickets to the game. Anyone in attendance named "Clark Hunt" will receive Thunder season tickets for the rest of 2008-09.

During the game, fans can also register at the novelty stand to win a pair of 2009 Chiefs tickets.
And the night before is "Rod Blagojevich Bribe Night." I'm tempted to drive to Wichita myself.

Friday, December 19, 2008

They'd Probably be Sneakers

It's very fitting to me that King Carl is going out within a month of President Bush leaving office. In so many ways, they are the same guy. It's nice that we can now watch them ride off into the sunset together.

One more thing I would love to see though is Carl getting the same treatment as the Prez and having a couple of shoes fired at him by a reporter. Do you think Whitlock could get his shoes off in a crowded room?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Best of 2008: Movies

Those of you who know me personally are aware that this has been an unusual year in my real life. One of the ways that has impacted the sillier, superficial part of my life is that I haven't seen nearly as many movies as I would like. Of the nominees for any of the major Golden Globe awards, I have seen only WALL-E and Pineapple Express. Both were very good, by the way.

Hopefully, I will see many of these movies soon (along with quite a few others I have missed). Until then, all I can say about 2008 was that The Dark Knight was everything I hoped it would be. Heath Ledger really was great. Christian Bale was better than he was the first time around. All in all, I think it added up to my favorite superhero movie in a long time. I imagine when I get around to a Top 10 list, it will be in the vicinity of the top.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

80's Movie Line: Holiday Edition



Gremlins isn't exactly a Christmas movies, but it does take place at Christmas. And it has one of the best Christmas stories:

Kate: The worst thing that ever happened to me was on Christmas. Oh, God. It was so horrible. It was Christmas Eve. I was 9 years old. Me and Mom were decorating the tree, waiting for Dad to come home from work. A couple hours went by. Dad wasn't home. So Mom called the office. No answer. Christmas Day came and went, and still nothing. So the police began a search. Four or five days went by. Neither one of us could eat or sleep. Everything was falling apart. It was snowing outside. The house was freezing, so I went to try to light up the fire. That's when I noticed the smell. The firemen came and broke through the chimney top. And me and Mom were expecting them to pull out a dead cat or a bird. And instead they pulled out my father. He was dressed in a Santa Claus suit. He'd been climbing down the chimney... his arms loaded with presents. He was gonna surprise us. He slipped and broke his neck. He died instantly. And that's how I found out there was no Santa Claus.

Our Progressive Tax System



Kevin Drum has a good post that features the preceding chart. I don't have anything special to say about it really, but I run into enough people on a regular basis that tell me how unfairly the wealthy are treated in our tax system that I like to pass on graphs like these whenever I get the opportunity.

I apparently also like to write very long sentences.

Monday, December 15, 2008

At Least They Won Right...

Yesterday, I exited my car in Blue Springs and stepped into 57 degree weather. Now, I had not seen a weather report since earlier in the week. That means it is going to be hard for me to complain too much, but I'm pressing on with the story. I was meeting a friend near his house to catch the Chiefs Express to Arrowhead.

My friend stepped out of his car wearing a three layers of shirts, a hat, gloves, and a big coat. Weird, I thought. He asked me if I had a jacket, and explained that is was going to get "cooler." I rummaged through my trunk and found a rain jacket that was tantamount to a windbreaker.

Not more than 30 minutes later, we stepped off the bus at Arrowhead and the first breath out of my mouth was visible. "How cold is it supposed to get?" I asked. "30 degree drop," my buddy said.

By the middle of the second quarter, it was 24 degrees. I was still wearing a long sleeve t-shirt and a windbreaker. I've likely been colder in my life, but it is hard to remember exactly when.

I managed to make it through the entire game, which was itself best summed up by two phone conversations I had later that day. While talking to two separate people who had watched the game only to turn it off with a couple of minutes to go, I twice heard:

"Well, at least you got to see them win, right?"

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Best of 2008: Music 2

Last year, I followed up the Top 10 albums post with a post containing the 10 best songs not on the top 10 albums. Here comes the same thing, only I've gotten lazy. I just don't want to do the work to pare down to 10, so I present you with the best 17 songs not on my top 10 albums (in no particular order).

Until the Day is Done, R.E.M.

All You Ever Wanted, The Black Keys

Scare Easy, Mudcrutch

Working Poor, Horsefeathers

Red River Shore, Bob Dylan

Crawl, Kings of Leon

Too Drunk to Dream, The Magnetic Fields

Meadowlarks, Fleet Foxes

The Old Days, Dr. Dog

Cobwebs, Ryan Adams & The Cardinals

Skinny Love, Bon Iver

Paper Face, Rivers Cuomo

Wreck My Flow, The Dirtbombs

I Just Want the Girl in the Blue Dress, Mike Doughty

Inní mér syngur vitleysingur, Sigur Rós

Salute Your Solution, The Raconteurs

Aly, Walk With Me, The Raveonettes

Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?, She and Him


(I did limit each band to one song on this list. Otherwise, the list might have grown even more unwieldy.)

Best of 2008: Music

Last year, I declared the 2007 best music year in some time, and I said I hoped 2008 was even close. As it turns out, it was. It wasn't as good as '07, but it was really good. The most interesting things is that much of it came from new sources. That was good because some of the stuff I was most excited about (Kings of Leon, Cold War Kids) turned out to disappoint. Fortunately, we have the Internet to help us find out about new music. Three cheers for the Internet.

Here are my favorite 10 albums of 2008, with a couple of the best songs from each.

1. The Walkmen – You and Me
Donde Esta la Playa, New Country
2. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
Oxford Comma, A-Punk
3. TV On the Radio – Dear Science
DLZ, Halfway Home
4. The Dodos -- Visiter
Walking, God?
5. Beck – Modern Guilt
Gamma Ray, Modern Guilt
6. Johnny Flynn – A Flarum
The Wrote & the Writ, Wayne Rooney
7. Eagles of Death Metal – Heart On
Secret Plans, I Wanna be in LA
8. Pale Young Gentlemen – Black Forest (Tra La La)
The Crook of My Good Arm, Marvelous Design
9. The Rumble Strips – Girls and Weather
Alarm Clock, Girls and Boys in Love
10. Pete and the Pirates – Little Death
Come on Feet, Eyes Like Tar

Special awards this year go to Bob Dylan's Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Vol. 8 for best album filled with stuff that had already been released in some form, and The Clash's Live at Shea Stadium for best live album. A "best songs not on the list above" post is forthcoming.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Arena League

According to the Star, the Arena League is suspending play for 2009.

“It’s pretty much a done deal to suspend the 2009 season and work toward a single entity-league,” Likens said. “We plan to start up again in 2010, if the owners vote this way. We’re prepared to play this year, and/or next.”
Now I never got into Arena League, but I have always thought that given several factors (including football's general popularity), Arena League Football had about as good a chance as is possible of creating a sustainable new sports league. My question then: is it possible in today's marketplace to envision any new sports league becoming financially viable and/or a major part of culture?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Love for Rickey

As I've mentioned before, Rickey Henderson is my favorite baseball player of all time. He's eligible for the Hall of Fame this year. Joe Posnanski has an excellent blog post about why he should receive a vote from every Hall voter.

And think about this: Pitchers REALLY did not want to walk Rickey for all the obvious reasons. I mean, Ted Williams, sure, walking him often made sense; I suspect most pitchers did not kick themselves for walking Ted Williams. But Rickey — he was probably going to steal second on you, maybe steal third. Even if he didn’t steal, he was going to create all sorts of tension. Nobody WANTED to walk Rickey Henderson.

But they could not help it because Rickey would get in that crouch (Jim Murray wrote that his strike zone was the size of Hitler’s heart), and he would foul off pitches, and he would just WILL his way on base. Put it this way — and I’m about give you one of my all-time favorite statistics: Rickey Henderson walked 796 times in his career LEADING OFF AN INNING. Think about this again. There would be nothing, absolutely nothing, a pitcher would want to avoid more than walking Rickey Henderson to lead off an inning. And yet he walked SEVEN HUNDRED NINETY SIX times to lead off an inning.
Posnanski gives quite a bit more evidence in Rickey's favor as well. And he doesn't even include comedy.

Says it All




Everything you need to know about Dwight Howard's game you can infer by Marcus Camby's expression.
(Click the photo to see it bigger and get the full effect)

Monday, December 8, 2008

80's Movie Line Holiday Edition



Scrooged updated the classic Dickens story, and reminded us what the spirit of Christmas was all about.

Earl Cross: All day long I listen to people give me excuses why they can't work. My legs hurt. My back aches. I'm only four. The sooner he learns life isn't handed to him on a silver platter, the better.

Panic on All Sides

Perhaps still convinced Obama is a socialist, there are still some wingnuts out there trying to challenge the president elect's eligibility to serve. Some liberals, meanwhile, are starting to fear they helped elect a closet centrist, and they aren't very happy about it.

Is it possible to be a liberal that the right fears beyond any reasonable measure without really being liberal at all?

I would guess so.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Pretty Good at Basketball



Stephen Curry is someone you really should see play basketball. You hopefully did last year when Davidson went on an improbable NCAA run, finally losing to Kansas in a great game in the elite eight. If you didn't, find a Davidson game now.

Yesterday, Curry scored 44 as Davidson beat North Carolina State. Among the riveted spectators was none other than LeBron James who looked as giddy in the crowd as everyone else. Curry drove, he hit runners, he hit mid-range jumpers, and he hit at least one shot from around 30 feet.

This is a game after Curry posted a 0 because Loyola University chose to face guard Curry with two players for an entire game and let Davidson play 4 on 3. Davidson won that game by 30, so we may not see that strategy again. But that game was sandwiched by two 44 point outbursts, and the 0 has not stopped Curry from leading the country in scoring at almost 30 per game.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Breaking News

Jack Shafer has a piece at Slate about the struggle between accuracy and timeliness in reporting during events like the massacre in Mumbai. This is something I thought about quite a bit as I watched the events on television. Shafer mentions the complicity of all types of media, but I certainly notice most among the television outlets. It can be completely frustrating to watch any unfolding event because the first thing you hear almost guaranteed to be partially wrong if not completely wrong.

It seems though, that this is likely inevitable during a chaotic event such as the one in Mumbai. While it would be good for reporters to make more explicit the transient nature of their reports, there is very little doubt that no information at all would not be preferable.

What concerns me more is when this issue creeps into non-crisis reporting. For instance, NPR had a reporter out on Monday morning talking to retailers who suggested that sales had been pretty good. Kevin Drum pointed out that news outlets were reporting that the National Retail Federation was estimating a 20% increase in Black Friday sales over the weekend. Yet, it turns out that sales were actually up around 1% with many major retailers reporting decreases.

Perhaps news agencies feel the National Retail Federation estimates are an important source (though, as Drum points out, the methodology is very poor). But I suspect that what is more important is the fact that these numbers and the opinions of some people at the mall are simply important because they are the first information available. It seems to me that Black Friday sales are the kind of topic that could wait for substantive information instead of first available.

Unions

I don't have the expertise to know if this point by Matt Yglesias bears out under scrutiny, but it certainly seems plausible on its face.

What I would say about car companies and unions is this. We had a period of time in the United States when prevailing labor law made it viable to organize private sector unions in the teeth of management opposition. So a bunch of firms were unionized at that time. Then we more-or-less closed the door on such unionization. And then after the door shut, new car plants were opened in anti-union jurisdictions. That obviously put the unionized firms at a disadvantage. But that’s different from saying that unionization is killing the car industry — cars are made and sold in Europe just fine. Meanwhile, in a capitalist system over the course of decades and decades it’s just inevitable that some sectors of the economy will rise and others will decline. Since we’ve made it so difficult to organize new unions, and since things change over time, we have disproportionate concentration of our private sector unions in the declining manufacturing sector. But that’s not unions causing the decline, it’s just things changing over time. The union-dominated movie and television production industries have become more central to the economy over the same time period. These things just happen. In a decent economy, though, we need to make sure that as new industries rise the workforce in those industries has a realistic shot at forming unions and bargaining collectively.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Gettin' Schooled

We are assured by those who don't want to admit that growing inequality is a problem that we simply have an education gap. Those who are willing to work hard enough to get an education will do just fine in this worldview. One problem:

Over all, the report found, published college tuition and fees increased 439 percent from 1982 to 2007, adjusted for inflation, while median family income rose 147 percent. Student borrowing has more than doubled in the last decade, and students from lower-income families, on average, get smaller grants from the colleges they attend than students from more affluent families.
So college is roughly three times more expensive than it was 25 years ago. And what the numbers quoted above don't show is that the wealthy have accounted for most of the median income gain. For low income families, it more like 4 times more expensive. That is a pretty pricey ticket to the top.

Feeling 10 Again

According to my latest Rolling Stone magazine, the top three active (whatever that is) rock radio hits are from AC/DC, Metallica, and Guns'n'Roses. Apparently all it takes to resurrect three bands who haven't been really successful in at least 15 years is to have a chart where the alternatives are Shinedown, Mudvayne, and Disturbed.

As for that "active" label, what is it really? Judging by most of what it on the list it seems it might be code for "crappy." Wikipedia says that "active rock plays current rock artists with a mix of classic rock songs." Fine, but I still have no idea what the word "active" is intended to signify. Anyone know?

On a personal note, I am going to see AC/DC in January. This will leave the Rolling Stones as the only still functional band on my list of favorite bands I've never seen.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Manhood

An article in Slate comments on an important truth.

There are a million ways to slight a rival's manhood, but to suggest that he enjoys Zima is one of the worst. Zima was the original "malternative"—a family of alcoholic beverages that eventually came to include such abominations as Smirnoff Ice and Bacardi Silver—and it has long been considered the very opposite of macho: a drink that fragile coeds swill while giving each other pedicures.
Very true. The important question is what other accusations are emasculation by proxy.

Antique shopping, convertible ownership, small dogs as pets? I'm not sold on any of these yet. Ideas?

80's Movie Line Holiday Edition



Last year for the holiday edition, I used only quotes from Christmas Vacation. I could probably continue that practice for the next five years and still have good stuff. But there are a lot of great Christmas movies in the 80's. One of the best is A Christmas Story.

Ralphie as Adult: With as much dignity as he could muster, the Old Man gathered up the sad remains of his shattered Major Award. Later that night, alone in the backyard, he buried it next to the garage. Now I could never be sure, but I thought that I heard the sound of "Taps" being played. Gently.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Did Someone Spike the Turkey I Haven't Eaten Yet?

I think I may be hallucinating this morning because I believe I just saw Rick Astley singing his 80s classic "Never Going to Give You Up" on a float with a bunch of goofy looking puppets during the Macy's parade.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Wait, now there is some pre-teen named Charice who is singing "Because You Love Me" on a Good Housekeeping float designed like a riverboat.

I can't believe my parents let me watch this stuff as a kid.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

From the Horse's Mouth

Are Republican lobbyists better than Democratic ones?

In 2005, at the apogee of Republican power, the Motion Picture Association of America recruited John Feehery from a top job with former Representative J. Dennis Hastert, the Illinois Republican who was then speaker of the House. But when the Democratic takeover the next year devalued Mr. Feehery’s Republican connections, he lost his defense against internal personality conflicts, people involved in the association’s lobbying say, and within weeks he was out the door.

A spokesman for the association declined to comment on the departure. So did Mr. Feehery, who now runs his own lobbying shop. But he said Republican lobbyists would always be in demand because Democrats lack the stomach to push for industry goals that go against their party, like rolling back environmental regulations.

“At the end of the day,” Mr. Feehery said, “Democrats don’t like to ask for the order” — the client’s objective.
So apparently, the answer is yes. Republicans are better at lobbying. And they are better because they have the guts to abandon their beliefs for the right dollar figure. Awesome.

Via Kevin Drum.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Six?!?!?!?!?



I really didn't want to post about the Chiefs again this season. I had settled nicely into expecting the worst and being nicely surprised when anything at all positive happened. But today, I read Joe Posnanski's column in the Star.

The Chiefs have the worst pass rush in the history of professional football. I am not saying this to be flip, and I don’t mean this in the exaggerated way that you might say, “This is the worst traffic jam I’ve ever seen,” every Monday when taking I-35 North. No, these Chiefs are quantifiable the worst pass-rushing team ever. They have six sacks this year. That’s six sacks. The whole team. The whole year. Six sacks...

The Chiefs have six sacks. Of course, that’s last in the NFL. The Chiefs have six sacks. There are 19 individual players in the NFL who have at least that many. The Chiefs have six sacks. Derrick Thomas once had seven sacks in a single game. The Chiefs are on pace for nine sacks all year, and that would be an NFL record. The current record is held by the 1982 Indianapolis Colts, who had 11 sacks that year. And that was in a strike-shortened, nine-game season.
This is startling. It always seemed watching the Chiefs this year that they weren't getting much pressure on the quarterback, but this was not a stat I expected to see. Back in the Dick Vermeil days, I thought we were seeing some of the worst defenses ever. But those 31st and 32nd ranked defenses all had sack totals in the 30s.

This is truly incredible. And as Posnanski points out later in his article, the Chiefs not getting any sacks are the high draft choices the Chiefs have paid lots of money to over the last few years. But hey, ticket prices are going up next year right?

Friday, November 21, 2008

"Is Dhiib" is the New "Arrrr"

"Is Dhiib" translates to "surrender." It's what you are increasingly likely to hear is you happen to be on a ship traveling of the west coast of Africa. Pirating is back in fashion, and these guys are taking down some huge booty.

Somali pirates have been paid more than $150m (£101m) in ransoms in the past 12 months, Kenya's foreign minister says...

Ninety-five attacks have been recorded off the Somali coast this year, including the recent capture of a Saudi tanker carrying a $100m cargo of oil.


Of course, the obvious solution to this problem is to release the Kraken. He will be vacating the office of the vice-presidency soon anyway.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Finally...

... we get official word yesterday that Missouri blew it.

Republican John McCain has defeated President-elect Barack Obama in Missouri — the last state to be decided in the 2008 presidential election.

McCain's narrow victory over Obama breaks a bellwether streak in which Missourians had picked the winning presidential candidate in every election since 1956.
Of all the elections for us to get it wrong. Indiana and North Carolina voted for Obama, but we couldn't manage it.

In some ways it is difficult for me to understand, but then I also just had a conversation with three otherwise bright guys from three different parts of the state who are convinced that Sarah Palin may win the 2012 election. Maybe I should be surprised it was as close as it was.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Light, Love and Codpieces

Via Andrew Sullivan, Vanity Fair has an article about Thomas Kinkade's expansion into the film industry. Apparently, Kinkade wrote a memo instructing the crew of the film how to appropriately make a movie as cheeseball as his paintings. Among the 16 tips he offered:

9) A sense of space. My paintings feature both intimate spaces and dramatic deep space effects. We should strive for intimate scenes to be balanced by deeper establishing shots. (I know this particular one is self-evident, but I am reminded of it as I see the pacing of the depth of field in Kubrick's "Barry Lyndon".)

12) Surprise details. Suggest a few "inside references" that are unique to this production. Small details that I can mention in interviews that stimulate second or third viewings -- for example, a "teddy bear mascot" for the movie that appears occasionally in shots. This is a fun process to pursue, and most movies I'm aware of normally have hidden "inside references". In the realm of fine art we refer to this as "second reading, third reading, etc." A still image attracts the viewer with an overall impact, then reveals smaller details upon further study.

16) Most important concept of all -- THE CONCEPT OF LOVE. Perhaps we could make large posters that simply say "Love this movie" and post them about. I pour a lot of love into each painting, and sense that our crew has a genuine affection for this project. This starts with Michael Campus as a Director who feels great love towards this project, and should filter down through the ranks. Remember: "Every scene is the best scene."
I don't know about anyone else, but as I read the tips I certainly became convinced that Thomas Kinkade's Christmas Cottage was probably likely to go down as an equal of anything Kubrick ever did.

The story that precedes the tips, however, is also a fun read. It includes some Kinkade bashing from the art community. It also includes this awesome fact:

In 2006, the Artist Formally Known for Prints was successfully sued by two former gallery franchise owners, and a Los Angeles Times article from the same year accused him of drunkenly disrupting a Siegfried and Roy show in Las Vegas by repeatedly yelling, “Codpiece!”
Perhaps the codpiece was one of those "inside references" Kinkade recommends.

p.s. Be the first to order the new Thomas Kinkade NASCAR Thunder print. Luminous!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Question of the Day

Why must our choices be:

a) our quality of life is better than it has ever been so we should never acknowledge that the world has deficiencies,

or

b) life is still patently unfair so we should be wary of acknowledging that human beings in general are experiencing their salad days?

80's Movie Line of the Week



Breaking the rules again. So I Married an Axe Murderer is from 1993, but I've been hanging out in San Francisco. This is the funniest comedy in the vicinity of the 80's that is set in San Francisco. You see how the logic works.

Stuart Mackenzie: Well, it's a well known fact, Sonny Jim, that there's a secret society of the five wealthiest people in the world, known as The Pentavirate, who run everything in the world, including the newspapers, and meet tri-annually at a secret country mansion in Colorado, known as The Meadows.
Tony Giardino: So who's in this Pentavirate?
Stuart Mackenzie: The Queen, The Vatican, The Gettys, The Rothschilds, *and* Colonel Sanders before he went tits up. Oh, I hated the Colonel with is wee *beady* eyes, and that smug look on his face. "Oh, you're gonna buy my chicken! Ohhhhh!"
Charlie Mackenzie: Dad, how can you hate "The Colonel"?
Stuart Mackenzie: Because he puts an addictive chemical in his chicken that makes ya crave it fortnightly, smartass!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Say What?

I know it doesn't really matter anymore because she isn't going to be VP and because she will probably never get that close again, but Sarah Palin continues to shock me. Via Kevin Drum, here is an actual answer from an interview today with Wolf Blitzer:

BLITZER: Does that mean you want to come up with a new Sarah Palin initiative that you want to release right now.

PALIN: Gah! Nothing specific right now. Sitting here in these chairs that I’m going to be proposing but in working with these governors who again on the front lines are forced to and it’s our privileged obligation to find solutions to the challenges facing our own states every day being held accountable, not being just one of many just casting votes or voting present every once in a while, we don’t get away with that. We have to balance budgets and we’re dealing with multibillion dollar budgets and tens of thousands of employees in our organizations.
I may never read a sentence like that again. God willing.

Alias

Most online quizzes are dumb, but this one is so ridiculous it is fascinating. Apparently, Jim is not an average enough name.




Your Average American Name Is...



Richard Allen Hall



Update: If you your name actually is Richard, your Average American Name is Andrew David Adams. Sounds an awful lot like Ancillary Adams, which I suppose brings things full circle.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Power Up


With the notable exceptions of people and soft drinks, everything seems to get smaller over time. It seems nuclear reactors are going that way too.

Using technology licensed from the U.S. government, an Arizona-based company is planning to bring a new generation of miniature nuclear reactors to market. The Hyperion Hydride Reactor is not much larger than a hot tub, is totally sealed and self-operating, has no moving parts and, beyond refueling, requires no maintenance of any sort. The reactor will output 27MW, enough to power a community of 20,000 homes, says Hyperion Energy, makers of the new reactor. The first models will roll off the assembly line in five years.
Sometime in the future Dick Cheney may be able to power the locks on his man-sized safe at his undisclosed location with his very own nuclear power source.

Monday, November 10, 2008

There's Going to Be a Few Changes...

Dan sent me this. I wish I hadn't heard people reacting this way in real life.

Get the latest news satire and funny videos at 236.com.

Friday, November 7, 2008

80's Movie Quote of the Week



Over the last few days, I think lots of people have been thinking about what it means to be American. I think this quote from European Vacation spells it out pretty well:

Clark Griswold: There it is, kids, my motherland.
Rusty Griswold: Dad, Grandma's from Chicago.
Clark Griswold: Shut up, Russ.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Bizness

It seems luxury retailers took a huge hit last month. The story, unfortunately, fails to mention to what extent these retailers could have been propped up by Sarah Palin's continued access to RNC credit cards.

The Media

Look, I tend to be someone who thinks the media has a tougher job than most people acknowledge. They get pounded on the right for having liberal bias, and they get pounded on the left for getting played by the right. Almost everyone thinks the media is uniformly bad at its assigned task.

I don't share that opinion generally, but I may be swayable. The fact that reporters may have known that the United States had a chance of electing a leader with an appalling lack of basic knowledge about the world, and did not cover it, is inexcusable. Off the record comments or not, the press does us virtually no good if it does not hold our leaders to some base level of accountability.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What the...

In all my excitement, I hadn't noticed that Alaska is about to reelect a convicted felon. I don't really have a comment about that.

What a Night

I couldn't be much happier today. Pennsylvania was called before I made it to my watch party, and the whole thing was just a drama-free celebration. I wish my state would've cooperated, but that's nitpicking at this point. What a speech by Obama. What a speech by McCain. It was a good night for the future of America.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

You Betcha!

A reader letter excerpted in a National Review post:

I've been making calls into Pennsylvania to do last-minute GOTV for the Good Guys. Of the 10 or so times I've reached live people, I have gotten three very pleasant-sounding ladies who informed me that they had already, or were about to, cast their vote for "Sarah." They were pleased to hear that a man from Texas had cast his ballot for the exact same candidate.
Does this mean they wrote in Palin for president, or are simply voting McCain/Palin in hopes that the old guy isn't around very long? Either way (or probably neither way), these are clearly people who I would prefer not to be stuck next to in a voting line.

I Don't See Your Name Here Anywhere

My polling place was one of several this morning that had a little trouble getting started:

“We did have issues in Ward 5 this morning,” said Melodie Powell, chairperson of the Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners. “The poll logs got intermingled.”

She blamed a computer glitch for the problem. The election board became aware of the problem about 6:30 a.m. and it sent out blank polling logs and teams of workers to help correct the problem. Ward 5 includes the Valentine neighborhood and parts of Midtown and the Country Club Plaza areas.

The correct books were delivered to the polls by about 8 a.m.
So they got it fixed. No big deal right? Maybe not.

Voter Kristin Gernon said she couldn’t wait any longer and had to leave her polling place on 39th Street shortly after 7 a.m. Gernon was told by a polling official there that the problem affected about ten polling places. Gernon said she would return later to vote, but that many others couldn’t wait any longer and might not be able to return.
We have got to come up with a better voting system.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Just in Case You Need One More Reason



The chart above makes the case for Obama as well as the most eloquent written argument. Via Matt Yglesias.

Where We Are



No matter how you feel about the accuracy of polling, or the unexpected factors that might make a difference tomorrow, this chart is pretty solid proof that Obama is in the best position a Democrat has been in for awhile.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Amazing



100,000 in St. Louis.

75,000 in Kansas City.

Impressive. But nothing compared to what I saw on Saturday night. I traveled down to my hometown of Springfield, MO on Saturday night and joined 30,000 people at the Obama rally.

That 30,000 may be the most amazing thing I have seen through this campaign. If you know anything about southwest Missouri, you know it is not the home of many who would traditionally vote for Obama. Yet, people waited in line for hours to go and cheer our prospective president.

It's hard to express how good it made me feel. Maybe, just maybe, Obama might even win Missouri on his way to victory Tuesday.

Friday, October 31, 2008

There's Dumb...

And there's dangerously dumb. This quote from Sarah Palin is of the second variety.

"If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations," Palin told host Chris Plante, "then I don't know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media."
It's almost impossible to mess up an understanding of one of our bedrock national principles so badly. But she is a special lady.

Almost 80's Movie Line of the Week



I'm cheating a little because it's Halloween, and Young Frankenstein is one of the best comedies of all time. It surely influenced many 80's comedies right?

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: No. No. Be of good cheer. If science teaches us anything, it teaches us to accept our failures, as well as our successes, with quiet dignity and grace.
(turns to creature)
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Son of a bitch! Bastard! I'll get you for this! What did you do to me? What did you do to me.
Inga: Stop it! Stop that! Stop it! You'll kill him!
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: I don't want to live. I do not want to live.
Igor: Quiet dignity and grace.

A Reminder Not to Elect People Who Don't Believe in Government

I've heard several liberal bloggers talking about how McCain's candidacy has almost made them feel they would prefer another Bush term to a McCain one. I may have uttered those words myself actually. But the Bush team has proven they are not to be trifled with when it comes pissing me off.

The White House is working to enact a wide array of federal regulations, many of which would weaken government rules aimed at protecting consumers and the environment, before President Bush leaves office in January.

The new rules would be among the most controversial deregulatory steps of the Bush era and could be difficult for his successor to undo. Some would ease or lift constraints on private industry, including power plants, mines and farms.

Those and other regulations would help clear obstacles to some commercial ocean-fishing activities, ease controls on emissions of pollutants that contribute to global warming, relax drinking-water standards and lift a key restriction on mountaintop coal mining.
It is nice of the Bush administration to give us a reminder that electing people who want to "get government out of way" to run government may not be the best idea.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Stars at Night are Big and...Well Something

I hope the McCain campaign isn't trying the Jeremiah Wright angle in Texas. A quarter of the electorate wouldn't believe Obama ever went to Wright's Protestant Church.

But the statewide survey of 550 registered voters has one very surprising finding: 23 percent of Texans are convinced that Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama is a Muslim.
Brought to you by the makers of George Bush's political career.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Believing



Someone on McCain's campaign should recruit Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard to help with morale. Pollard, whose team is 1-6, said earlier this week:

"I'm a believer. I absolutely believe we will win 9 straight."
I'll tell you what I believe. I believe that Bernard Pollard has a better chance of being the next Republican candidate for vice-president than the Chiefs do of winning the next 9 games. "Palin - Pollard 2012, Reality is for Chumps!"

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Stimulating


You can't ever have enough infographics. This one I got via Kevin Drum. It lays out the economic benefits from different kinds of spending. Take a look at what does the most good, and then ask yourself why studies have proven that the economy does better under Democrats than Republicans.

He Knows Her Better Than I Do

From the Politico:

In convo with Playbook, a top McCain adviser one-ups the priceless “diva” description, calling her “a whack job.”

Monday, October 27, 2008

Biden!

Funny stuff. The best part is when he asks her if she's joking.

The Maize



I attended my first corn maze over the weekend. I don't know what your average corn maze is like, but the Liberty Corn Maze (pictured above) seemed huge to me. I would highly recommend the activity to those of you who, like me, always complain there is nothing new to do.

If I may offer you one tip, however, take a flashlight if you go after dark. If you don't, you may find yourself standing beneath the gator wondering how you ended up outside the maze on the opposite end of the entrance.

Hee Hee

From David Kurtz at Talking Points Memo:

Barack Obama is noted for his powerful intellect, but I don't think he gets nearly enough credit for the mental dexterity it takes to be simultaneously an Islamic theocrat, atheistic communist and national socialist while posing as a center left candidate. Those must be the compartmentalization skills they taught him at that Manchurian madrasah in Indonesia.

I Do Not Think That Word Means What You Think It Means

From Ruth Marcus' column in the Washington Post:

"To be brutally honest with you, if Obama goes in there the [blacks] are going to go crazy -- and I'm not a prejudiced person."

Friday, October 24, 2008

Callin' it Like it is

E.J. Dionne sums up nicely in the Washington Post:

The cause of Edmund Burke, Leo Strauss, Robert Nisbet and William F. Buckley Jr. is now in the hands of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity -- and Sarah Palin. Reason has been overwhelmed by propaganda, ideas by slogans, learned manifestoes by direct-mail hit pieces.
It can be hard to remember sometimes, but conservatism wasn't always shorthand for an ideology that tolerated no deviations and ridiculed thought. Someday the movement will have ideas again. When they do, we can perhaps have legitimate debate again in this country.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dimmer Prospects

As a recently single gentleman, I saw this chart sometime ago and was enthused.



Kansas City looked like a great place to be a single man. But a new chart kind of lets the air out of the balloon.




Not only is Kansas City apparently a poor place to be a young single male, but there isn't a city in the United States that tilts in our favor. Sounds like I may need to start hanging out at Curves.

Via Matt Yglesias.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Flailing

John McCain is upset with Republicans who have been critical of Sarah Palin.

“She is a governor, the most popular governor in America,” McCain said. “I think she is the most qualified of any that has run recently for vice president.”
So she is more qualified than Joe Biden, Dick Cheney, John Edwards, and Joe Lieberman? This is getting ugly.

80's Movie Line of the Week




I'm not entirely sure I can still claim "of the week" since I realized I have missed two weeks. Anyway, the political season always brings with it a reminder that words matter. In Night Shift, Michael Keaton explains what the word "prostitution" means.

Bill: PROSTITUTION! But what does that mean really? Sometimes it helps to understand a word if you break it down, so let's do that now shall we? Pros... it doesn't mean anything, you can forget about that... Tit, I think we all know what that means, Tu, two tit and TION of course, from the Latin to shun... to say uh-uh no thank you anyway I don't want it, to push away... it doesn't even belong in this word really.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Questionable Math

CNN has reported that the McCain camp is giving up on Colorado. If you consider Obama to be safe in every place where Kerry won plus Iowa and New Mexico (which look pretty safe and Gore carried in 2000), then Colorado alone would give Obama enough electoral votes to win.

The McCain campaign says this means they must win Pennsylvania. The problem is that Obama is ahead by almost 13 points in an average of the last 10 polls taken there.

This is not to mention that McCain would also need to prevent Obama from winning Ohio, Florida, or some combination of Missouri, Virginia, and North Carolina.

Somebody either has some serious cockeyed optimism, or the calculator is broken.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Rules for the Bus

I went to the Obama rally Saturday. Instead of parking 6 miles away, I rode the bus. I picked it up at the MAX station at 43rd and Main, but the bus I got on was just a regular route bus. It was already jammed with people, most of whom were wearing some sort of Obama gear. There were also a few people on the bus, who just wanted to go wherever it was they were going without a bunch of first-timers getting in their way.

And it was very clear that many of the people on the bus hadn't been on one in a very long time if ever. For those people, I would like to make a few suggestions for any future bus trips.

1. You don't get on through the rear doors. You get on at the front. When you get on in the back you get in the way of everyone trying to get off. There is also nowhere to pay at the rear. Perhaps you did not know that there is generally a fare involved, but there is. If you wondered why everyone was looking at you like you had no head, that is why.

2. When the lady behind you says she is getting off at the next stop, that means get out of the way. It does not mean that you need to yell over the top of 40 people that someone is getting off at the next stop. There is a cord that the woman behind you definetely already pulled. It let the busdriver know what her intentions were.

3. It is not cool to fist bump every black guy that gets on the bus. It is the opposite of cool. You are not earning extra liberal points for that type of behavior. You might catch a pretty good beating however. Stop.

4. When an old lady tells you to make room because Rosa Parks is on the bus, she is jacking with you. Try not to think about what it all means, seriously, she is just messing around... and getting you to move your ass.


I am sure there is more to add here, but I don't want to fill your heads with too much. The rules are pretty simple. Try to follow them.

Welcome to the Ranks of the Anti-Americans, General!

Yesterday, Colin Powell endorsed Obama and made a pretty thorough case against McCain. The right has responded predictably.

Friday, October 17, 2008

At War With Themselves

Reliable conservative Kathleen Parker is standing up for Christopher Buckley against the onslaught from his fellow conservatives. In a Post column, she explains what has happened to conservatives of Buckley's type.

Radical conservatives are still having an interesting time of it, though these days they are being mutilated by fellow "conservatives." The well-fed Right now cultivates ignorance as a political strategy and humiliates itself when its brightest sons seek sanctuary in the solitude of personal honor.
I suppose the people she is talking about have about finished some viral campaign talking about what a baby-hating non-patriot Parker must be.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Maybe We Should Call for More Debates

It seems that people are all but sure now that Obama will win this election. I am feeling pretty confident myself, but I wonder if the end of the debates doesn't present McCain with his best (if still very small) opportunity.

The debates have been a boon for Obama. He has simultaneously been able to talk about the issues he is strong on (and voters care about), and capitalize on the opportunity to stand in front of a large number of Americans and look presidential. The McCain campaign's attack ads have been unsuccessful, and I think at least part of the reason is that the Obama voters hear described in the ads so clearly does not resemble the Obama they see at the debates. Obama seems more credible as a result, and McCain seems less credible.

With the debates over, the McCain camp will have the chance to make more wild charges, and Obama will not have the same kind of platform to respond. That could allow the attacks to be a bit more effective.

The other benefit to McCain with the end of the debates is that he no longer has to talk about policy if he chooses not to. Last night, I heard some of the most bewildering things I have heard in a political forum. Three points stood out:

1. McCain again mocked Obama's interest in "safe" nuclear power.
2. McCain appeared to dismiss women's health concerns as a concoction of the left.
3. McCain seemed to say that we should have college grads and soldiers as teachers, and that those groups shouldn't have to go through any testing to be eligible.
Those are absolutely three of the dumbest statements ever made during a presidential debate. Did McCain mean something more complex and just didn't spit it out? Maybe, but he didn't spit it out. So anyone watching the debates now must assume that John McCain supports unsafe nuclear power, indifference towards the health concerns of women, and unqualified teachers in the classroom.

I'm thinking his campaign staff are very glad the debates are over.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Chiefs Getting Offensive

The Kansas City Chiefs' offensive struggles on the field apparently have not affected their ability to be offensive off it. Larry Johnson was recently charged with simple assault for an incident at a KC nightclub.

Citing police and court documents, the Kansas City Star reported that a 26-year-old woman accused Johnson, 28, of pushing her on the side of the head at a nightclub on Feb. 24, 2008.
I am a little curious as to what pushing someone on the side of the head really means. It doesn't sound like something that would be effective if you were really interested in assaulting someone. But leave it to a Chief to even screw up simple assault.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Zing.

You can say a lot of things about Christopher Hitchens. That he minces words is not one of those things:

The most insulting thing that a politician can do is to compel you to ask yourself: "What does he take me for?" Precisely this question is provoked by the selection of Gov. Sarah Palin. I wrote not long ago that it was not right to condescend to her just because of her provincial roots or her piety, let alone her slight flirtatiousness, but really her conduct since then has been a national disgrace. It turns out that none of her early claims to political courage was founded in fact, and it further turns out that some of the untested rumors about her—her vindictiveness in local quarrels, her bizarre religious and political affiliations—were very well-founded, indeed. Moreover, given the nasty and lowly task of stirring up the whack-job fringe of the party's right wing and of recycling patent falsehoods about Obama's position on Afghanistan, she has drawn upon the only talent that she apparently possesses.
The rest of Hitchens' article at Slate is similar. For a guy who has spent the last few years concentrating all his ferocity towards those who didn't want to be in Iraq, an unwillingness to back McCain must truly mean the wheels are off.

What a Weekend!

Kansas City professional sports teams suffered no losses this weekend.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sourcing the Nonsense

Why would those nuts at McCain/Palin rallies think Obama is a Muslim terrorist or a socialist? The Daily Show provided a theory:

How Not to Build a Permanent Majority

It wasn't that long ago that people like Hugh Hewitt were writing books about a permanent republican majority. This election, while far from over, looks like it could produce a Democratic president and increased control of both houses of Congress. David Brooks attempts to explain why in his column in the Times today:

And so, politically, the G.O.P. is squeezed at both ends. The party is losing the working class by sins of omission — because it has not developed policies to address economic anxiety. It has lost the educated class by sins of commission — by telling members of that class to go away.
The whole article talks about the rampant anti-intellectualism and anticoastalism that has been an undercurrent of GOP thinking for awhile, and has absolutely busted out at recent McCain/Palin rallies. If you want to be a party that builds a coalition broad enough to stretch over a long period, it probably is best not spend all your time proposing that half the country are in some amoral, terrorist loving, baby killing cabal. That's free advice.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Maybe He Didn't Understand the Question

David Broder is pissing me off. Here is what he had to say about the presidential candidates' answers at the second debate.

John McCain and Barack Obama have been asked twice -- once in the Mississippi debate and again on Tuesday night -- what their priorities would be. McCain flat-out refused to choose, arguing that the United States can do it all. Obama mentioned energy, health care and education but did not acknowledge that he might have to choose among them.
The question didn't ask what they would leave out, it asked what their priorities are. McCain did not answer the question. Obama did. But Broder, in typical Broder fashion, blames them both.

Now the larger point of his story is well-taken. It is true that both candidates are reluctant to say what they might give up with a bad economy. But if Broder is really surprised by that he probably hasn't learned anything in his century of writing columns. Or maybe he is just mailing it in at this point.

The bigger issue is that Broder is almost never willing to say one side has behaved worse than the other, even when it is clearly warranted. This is the type of media coverage that allows John McCain to get away with egregious attacks and outright lies. Yes, the media needs to be fair. But they need to be accurate too.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Quitting?

For those of you who aren't baseball fans, Manny Ramirez was traded from the Boston Red Sox to the Los Angeles Dodgers on August 1st. Manny is one of those athletes, like Allen Iverson, who people love to criticise. The fact that these guys are honest overshadows the fact that they always perform, are especially clutch and never provide a legit reason to think they don't want to win in the worst way.

Tim McCarver recently said that Manny was despicable because he quit on his team before the trade. His proof was that since the trade Manny hit .397 and had an OBP of .489. That's pretty good. But the month before Manny got traded he was batting .347 and his OBP was .473. If that is what quitting on your team looks like, I would love to see a couple of Royals put it in the tank next year.

Reagavelt!

Or Roosegan? One of those guys is John McCain's hero.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I Have Little to Add Here

Glenn Greenwald has a really good post about McCain's increasingly nasty speeches. The link is here, but I wanted to just paste the first part as is.

In the last two months of this election -- as the Bush administration winds down as the most unpopular in modern American history and the Right is on the verge of a desperately-needed collective death -- we see a perfect microcosm of what our country has been over the last eight years. The financial crisis is spreading, accelerating, and morphing across the globe in unpredictable ways. The economic anxiety levels are as high as one can recall, teetering on panic, and even the Wall St. Journal Editorial Page is acknowledging that America's days of economic dominance are over. The national debt is over a staggering $10 trillion and has doubled in the last 8 years alone. And the symbols of our nation have become gulags, the waterboard, an endless stream of bombs and occupations, and people imprisoned forever with no charges of any kind.

And as these flames engulf America's foundations, what is the Right doing -- the movement that brought us all of this through their virtually absolute control of our Government for the last eight years? They're spending all their time chattering with each other about an aging 1960s radical and giddily cheering the increasingly repellent Sarah Palin as she skips around the country in front of rambunctiously booing right-wing crowds accusing Barack Obama of palling around with The Terrorists and pointing out that he doesn't see America the way all the Normal, Good Americans do. For the last eight years, the opponents of the Right have been America-hating Terrorists and they still are.

And just now, John McCain -- speaking in New Mexico -- delivered one of the ugliest, nastiest, most invective-filled personality attacks a major candidate has ever delivered, blatantly designed to stoke raw racial resentments and depict Obama as a Manchurian candidate funded by secret Arab Terrorist sources -- a truly unstable and hate-mongering rant filled with lines like these, delivered with an angry scowl to screaming, howling, booing throngs, while Cindy McCain stood behind him shaking her head in disgust at each fact she heard about the Black Terrorist daring to challenge her husband...
The post continues on, actually quoting McCain's speech and then showing the effects of a lot of this rhetoric on Republican crowds. Apparently, the effect on some is to suggest assasination. Nice.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Breaking Point

What line do you think needs to be crossed before Obama is allowed a little leeway if he punches one of his opponents in the eye? I would think these comments by Sarah Palin might come pretty close to that line:

"Well, I was reading my copy of today's New York Times and I was really interested to read about Barack's friends from Chicago," Palin told the crowd. "Turns out, one of his earliest supporters is a man who, according to The New York Times was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, 'launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol.' These are the same guys who think patriotism is paying higher taxes. This is not a man who sees America as you and I do -- as the greatest force for good in the world. This is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country. This, ladies and gentlemen, has nothing to do with the kind of change anyone can believe in -- not my kids and not your kids."
It's insulting to Obama, of course, but it also insults everyone listening because Palin is both expecting us to believe she suddenly deems the NYT a reputable news source and fundamentally mischaracterizing the story in question.

For the record, I think Obama will take the high road and leave fisticuffs off the campaign trail. It is hard to imagine him not being tempted though.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

80's Movie Line of the Week



What with that great jobs report this week and all, how about a movie about the plight of the American worker, Gung Ho?

Hunt Stevenson: Afterwards we have a few beers and piss for distance.
Kazihiro: For us it's accuracy.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Wishin' It Don't Make It True

I'm not sure how anyone could have watched last night's debate and not decided Sarah Palin is a disaster. Being able to smile and form sentences are not the hurdles that bona fide national leaders are expected to clear. It was plainly evident that Joe Biden knew mountains more than Palin about virtually everything they talked about. Her down home shtick was plastered on like eye shadow on a tranny.

The American public seemed to have agreed with that assessment. All of the instant polls taken after the debate declared Biden the winner by double digit margins. But one group seems to have been watching a different debate. I am referring, of course, to conservative pundits.

Almost to a person, the knuckleheads at NRO have decided Palin won the debate and that America will be in love with her. They also think the press is showing its bias by not talking about how great she did. Life is good on Planet Conservatron.


One more thing: Gwen Ifill disappointed me last night. When a candidate announces moments into a debate that she will not be accountable to questions asked by the moderator, it really has to be the moderator's job to make some attempt at forcing that candidate to comply with the rules agreed to before the debate started. Credit goes to the Republicans for painting Ifill into a corner where she may not have felt like she could do anything about it. I, however, think she still could have and should have.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Trust Issues

With our attention focused on the future, it can be easy to forget about how much the Bush administration did to run government into the ground. We got a small reminder this week, even if nobody paid attention to it.

The report says "it appears" that Missouri U.S. attorney Todd Graves "was told to resign because of a political dispute among Missouri politicians, not because of an objective assessment of his performance." Specifically the dispute was between Republican Sen. Christopher S. "Kit" Bond and Graves's brother, a Republican congressman.

Arkansas U.S. attorney Bud Cummins "was not removed for any performance reasons," the report says. "Rather, the evidence shows that the main reason for Cummins's removal was to provide a position for former White House official Tim Griffin."

The most egregious case, according to the report, was that of New Mexico U.S. attorney David Iglesias. The evidence showed that Iglesias was removed because of complaints from Republican Sen. Pete Domenici and other GOP officials and party activists who believed he was not being aggressive enough in pursuing certain voter fraud and public corruption cases -- by happenstance, cases against Democrats.

Gonzales and his deputies at Justice never looked into Iglesias's handling of those cases and, in fact, never even asked him about them. They just fired him.
Pretty easy to understand why the president doesn't have a lot of credibility when he tells the American public that the financial bailout is in their best interest. That's too bad.

Bad Sign

If anyone ever begins a story about you with a sentence like this, you can asume things aren't going well.

Sarah Palin's performance in her CBS News interviews has been so poor that one can't avoid speculating about the depth of her ignorance.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Reminder

We watch the numbers for Obama and McCain go up and down and focus on the totals. But there are a million stories within those totals. What is your favorite among those exhibited below?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Diversion

I've been pretty down, what with the collapse of our economy and all. I needed something to cheer me up, and a friend was there to help out. We should all have friends who send us stuff like this.

The Never Talk About This Stuff on the EIB

Conservative columnist David Brooks is not amused by the actions of the Congressional conservatives:

House Republicans led the way and will get most of the blame. It has been interesting to watch them on their single-minded mission to destroy the Republican Party. Not long ago, they led an anti-immigration crusade that drove away Hispanic support. Then, too, they listened to the loudest and angriest voices in their party, oblivious to the complicated anxieties that lurk in most American minds.

Now they have once again confused talk radio with reality. If this economy slides, they will go down in history as the Smoot-Hawleys of the 21st century. With this vote, they’ve taken responsibility for this economy, and they will be held accountable. The short-term blows will fall on John McCain, the long-term stress on the existence of the G.O.P. as we know it.

I’ve spoken with several House Republicans over the past few days and most admirably believe in free-market principles. What’s sad is that they still think it’s 1984. They still think the biggest threat comes from socialism and Walter Mondale liberalism. They seem not to have noticed how global capital flows have transformed our political economy.
I provided the italics because from my infinitely biased point of view, this really is the crux of the issue. Conservatives have left reality, and they have been aided and abetted by the conservative media monster they helped create.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Oh Boy



This is the picture that CNN is using above a story about the markets plunging as "no" votes mount for the bailout. It looks like things are about to get worse.

Friday, September 26, 2008

80's Movie Line of the Week


Porky's understood racists pretty well.

Tim: Anybody wanna go fly a kite with me tonight? I hear it's great weather for flying KITES! I wonder if there's any KITES around here we can fly!
Brian Schwartz: Hey listen, Cavanaugh. It's not kite, it's KIKE! K-I-K-E, "kike." You know, you're too stupid to even be a good bigot!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Too Much

John McCain has suspended his campaign because it is vitally important that he personally be in Washington to save America from its economic troubles. He will apparently do that without reading the 3 page document that everyone else is using as a starting point.

Dominos

Is it possible that everything that has been going on with McCain the last couple of days is simply a ploy to keep Palin out of the spotlight as much as possible. Lindsey Graham floated the idea yesterday that the vice-presidential debate might need to be moved, and McCain ditched Letterman for Katie Couric, which conveniently moved Couric's Palin interview down in the newscast.

I'm not saying they are playing everything around a protection of Palin, but I am saying maybe they are. Could you blame them when this keeps happening:

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Make a Mental Note

Daniel Gross has a story on Slate regarding how we will pay for the $700 billion bailout. But I think the most important piece of his story is this:

Think about everything Wall Street has been given since the late 1990s: cuts in the capital-gains tax, dividend tax, and estate tax; cuts in marginal income tax rates; free-trade agreements; low interest rates; light regulation. The promise was that doing the bidding of the financial-services industry would deliver solid growth and boost incomes for everyone. It didn't. This business cycle, in which job growth was generally anemic, ended with median incomes about where they were at the end of the last business cycle. The S&P 500 is basically where it was 10 years ago. Sure, we got cheap mortgages, all the credit we could eat, and some higher corporate income-tax payments for a few years. But now Wall Street wants it all back in the form of bailouts.
This point is crucial because the line we have been expected to buy over the last several years is that handing over our country to the wealthy is necessary for the rest of us to make any progress.

The three decades in between the mid-forties and mid-seventies had already proved this was untrue. In that time, equality grew, living standards were increased, and the economy grew. In the thirty years since, the economy has grown at the expense of equality and with less regard to improved living standards for all Americans.

The last 10 years, however, are the crystallization of why we can't sacrifice attempts at equality for the sake of total growth. The growth hasn't helped most Americans at all, and it may turn out not to have been real for those it did. Moving forward, let's not allow ourselves to be convinced that we can't strive for both.

Monday, September 22, 2008

I Miss the West Wing

I don't usually read Maureen Dowd. I just don't like the amateur psychoanalysis that is the focus of most of her columns. Fortunately for me, friend of the blog ESL passed along this week's column, which she outsourced to West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin. He writes an exchange between Barack Obama and West Wing president Jed Bartlett. The whole thing is pretty funny, but this exchange was killer:

OBAMA I’m not. They pivoted off the argument that I was inexperienced to the criticism that I’m — wait for it — the Messiah, who, by the way, was a community organizer. When I speak I try to lead with inspiration and aptitude. How is that a liability?

BARTLET Because the idea of American exceptionalism doesn’t extend to Americans being exceptional. If you excelled academically and are able to casually use 690 SAT words then you might as well have the press shoot video of you giving the finger to the Statue of Liberty while the Dixie Chicks sing the University of the Taliban fight song. The people who want English to be the official language of the United States are uncomfortable with their leaders being fluent in it.
I went to the Truman Presidential Library this weekend for the first time. There is, of course, a pretty significant portion of the museum dedicated to the atomic bomb. One of the features of this section is a guestbook where visitors can write about whether they believe dropping the bomb was the right or wrong decision.

For every person that wrote a critique or defense of Truman's actions based on some thoughtful argument, there were probably three who wrote things like, "Nuke 'em til they glow," or something about how President Bush was weak for not following Truman's lead.

There were literally pages and pages of these comments. I could have stood there and read the book all day, but I don't think my faith in humanity is sturdy enough right now to endure it. Aaron Sorkin's exchange above kind of captured how I was feeling on Saturday.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Bottom?

Perhaps today is the day. I hope today is the day. I hope today marks the nadir of Kansas City professional sports. There is no way to be sure, but when the Royals never threaten in their final home game of the season (in route to a 3-0 loss) and the Chiefs lose to another suspect NFL team 38-14 to start 0-3, you have to think maybe there is no where from here but up.

One thing that doesn't encourage me is being at Kauffman Stadium today. It is possible that the construction is causing some problems, but the Royals ran the concession operation today like they were running a roadside food stand out of a trailer. Every concession stand I made it to today was out of something, and the people in front of me were complaining about the same experience. Maybe I just don't know the facts, but it sure seemed like the Royals were sacrificing the fan experience (of the fans loyal enough to come see this bunch lose their 86th game of the year) to keep from having much inventory left at the end of the season. That does not give one much hope for the future of the franchise.

On the plus side, I finished my first fantasy baseball season ever by winning my league championship today. This proves the fantasy rule that whoever knows the least about what they are doing has an automatic advantage. If only that rule extended to real sports management.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Government by People Who Hate Government (Part 2,746)

Economic experts are spreading the blame around for the financial crisis, but they agree on one place to lay blame:

These experts, from both political parties, say Mr. Bush’s early personnel choices and overarching antipathy toward regulation created a climate, that, if it did not set off the turmoil, almost certainly aggravated it.
This is why Barack Obama talks about the "failed philosophy" of conservative government. It's why we need people who believe in the work of government to be in charge once again.

80's Movie Line of the Week



The Princess Bride reviews the downside of experience.

Buttercup: We'll never survive.
Westley: Nonsense. You're only saying that because no one ever has.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Well, We've Never Had Trouble Before Right?

From the Washington Post on voter registration increases:

Federal officials estimate that 2 million poll workers will be needed to handle the turnout, twice 2004's number and a goal states are scrambling to meet.
It wouldn't be an election without some finger pointing and a lawsuit or two, right?

Bad Timing

We taxpayers just bought another company, AIG, and now the stock market is headed even further into the toilet. Sometimes you just can't catch a break.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Different Planets

Die hard conservatives live on one planet, and the rest of us live on another. From Rich Lowry's column on the NRO:

Since 2000, John McCain had thrived on his irrepressible chattiness with the press, talking about anything reporters wanted for as long as they would listen. The press loved the access and avoided “gotcha” coverage, letting McCain explain any seeming gaffes. The arrangement worked beautifully for both sides — until McCain became the Republican presidential nominee.

Suddenly, he wasn’t afforded the same old courtesy from reporters, and he had to go about the grim business of driving a daily message. With the end of the running bull sessions, a trial separation began with the press that became a divorce that became a feud.

Whatever affection they still have for McCain is now expressed in self-interested yearning: Where is the McCain of old, the one who could be reliably counted on to lose?
On planet Conservatron, it was the press who didn't afford the same courtesy to McCain, the candidate was forced to promote suspect daily messages, and the whole thing is because McCain refuses to run a losing campaign by telling the truth.

Who are the Ad Wizards...

If you want proof that Kansas City's pro sports franchises don't take the people of the city seriously, simply look at the effort they put into marketing. This morning, unless I was still dreaming, I awoke to a Royals commercial that featured the voice of some woman talking about how much fun it is at a game.

The woman throws out some of the usual family fun stuff, but as she goes it becomes clear she is talking to a friend named Sarah. I had no idea, where this was headed until she mentions that Sarah needs to get past this "hockey mom" business (or something pretty close to that - like I said I was still staggering towards my alarm clock). Then the voice says something like "you too, McCain."

Now, I'm not sure whether this commercial was showing some tacit support for McCain, making fun of the Republican nominees, or most likely just trying to tie the Royals to something people care about. But I can't think of a much worse idea. You, at the very least, have the possibility that McCain fans will think it is mockery, and Obama fans will think it is supportive. Then everyone is angry about an ad that is dumb even if everyone takes it the right way.

This is not long after the Chiefs started running an ad featured the venerated spokesduo of Kevin Costner and Michael Garozzo. Why on earth the Chiefs would ever think a testimonial from either of those guys would make me think about how badly I too needed to come to a game is really a mystery. Even more of a mystery is that they felt like pairing the two in back-to-back spots would not be even more incongruous.

The point is that the two teams must not be trying at all. The belief seems to be that if they throw anything at all up on the radio (or TV), people will respond. After all, these are the only teams they've got. If only that wasn't so.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I Just Can't Do It



I want to write about the horror show that was the Chiefs game yesterday, but I can't. There really isn't anything to say, except that long suffering Kansas City sports fans are now getting the worst they've ever got. It's sad, frustrating, angering, and amazing all at the same time. I'm ready for some blackouts.

Credit Where it is Due

While I don't think there is any real chance that Fox will be abandoning its conservative cheerleading on a consistent basis, you have to give them (or just anchor Megyn Kelly) credit for finally calling out McCain's repugnant advisor Tucker Bounds on the campaign's regular habit of lying.



His response by the way is awesome because it involves both more lies and an insinuation that Obama is the one who is flat lying. Pretty amazing.

Via Steve Benen.

Friday, September 12, 2008

80's Movie Line of the Week



Today I read this:

Three decades ago, there were more federal wage and hour inspectors than there are today, though the labor force was 40 percent smaller.
Made me think of Randolph and Mortimer in Trading Places.

Louis Winthorpe III: Randolph. Mortimer.
Mortimer Duke: Winthorpe, my boy, what have you got for us?
Louis Winthorpe III: Well, it's that time of the month again. Payroll checks for our employees, which require your signatures. And no forgetting to sign the big ones!
Mortimer Duke: We seem to be paying some of our employees an awful lot of money.
Louis Winthorpe III: [laughs] Can't get around the old minimum wage, Mortimer.
That might have been true in the 80's, but these are heady times for the Duke's of the world.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

This Aggression Cannot Stand, Man

I'm tired of hearing about pigs, lipstick, and unchallenged lies. So instead, how about I share this great reading of The Big Lebowski as a commentary on Neoconservatism?

The police have recovered the car, and the Dude has found, wedged between the seats, a page of homework belonging to one Larry Sellers. Walter figures out Larry's address and arrives at his house, the Dude in tow, the homework in a plastic bag. He then makes a brief presentation...

When Larry says nothing, Walter proceeds to Plan B: destroying the new Corvette parked outside—purchased, he assumes, using the money left in the car—with a crowbar. Actually, though, the Corvette belongs to a neighbor. Neocons everywhere can sympathize.

Is this eerie foreshadowing of the second Iraq war coincidental? Not entirely. The Coen brothers created a character with traits that run deep in American culture: unflinching righteousness and a tendency to violence. (He was largely based on John Milius, who wrote and directed Red Dawn, the Cold War-paranoia film that later gave its name to the military operation that captured Saddam.) This character confronts a situation that combines both injustice and the opportunity for material gain. He responds more or less as one would imagine. The Dude's pacifist leanings are no match for Walter's assertiveness: While the Dude's disposition may be admirable, he has little effect on the tide of world events. (Refugees from the 1960s can also sympathize.)
The author is probably giving the Coen's a bit more credit that they deserve, but basically the comparison works. And it's a lot more fun to watch this fictional debacle than the real life Walters who have been running our country.
 

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