Tuesday, December 23, 2008

they've got big bowls

Dan Wetzel, champion of the NCAA tournament system for college football, on the current bowl system, why we have it and what it looks like on the inside. It's a great article, very informative, even if it stifles debate by accusing anyone who disagrees of being on the take. I'm all for scrapping the system, and even I can admit that the "tradition" of the big bowl games is a perfectly valid argument on its own merits-- in fact, the big bowls and the big rivalries are the only instances where most NCAAF fans see anything relating to "tradition." Hell, I work on most of the most "storied" campuses in college football, and "tradition" here generally is just a euphemism for bizarre superstition and rank hedonism. Oh, and let's not forget ritual mockery of minority ethnicities!

"it opens more doors than it closes"

E.J. Dionne on the Warren invite. Dionne's point is that engaging a powerful pastor who wants to talk about poverty, disease, climate change, and genocide is a win for Democrats and a win for the world and a loss for Republicans. It would be nice if he didn't support prop 8 and believe horrible things about gays, or would at least apologize for his more incendiary comments, but as we've seen with Rich Cizik, support for gay rights is still verboten in the evangelical community. The terrible irony is that, if he did apologize or did support civil unions, he would cease to hold enough support in the evangelical community to be able to sway it in any meaningful way.

What can I say? You go to the inauguration with the country you have, not the country you wish you had.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Warren-mania: throwing God's pit bulls a bone

This morning I heard someone on NPR refer to those angry with Obama for choosing Warren to lead a prayer on Inauguration Day as "activists." What, exactly, makes them "activist?" The act of being disappointed? Why are they "activists," but those who fought to pass Prop 8 are merely "social conservatives" or even worse, "family advocates?"

While we're at it, it's not like liberals and liberal-leaners don't have a legitimate beef with Obama's choice; after all, he now has more Republicans in his administration than avowed liberals, and does so even if you concede that Hillary Clinton is a liberal. You can't swing a cat in Obama's cabinet without hitting a blue dog or three.

Nevertheless, it's worth considering that apparently there will be 2 preachers at Obama's inauguration, and the one giving the closing benediction is GLBT friendly. That, I would imagine, is a first, while every previous preacher probably had views similar to Warren. Furthermore, for all Warren's faults, he's willing to lead the evangelical community back to sanity on aid to the poor, HIV/AIDS work, and climate change. Obama and the Democrats have an interest in seeing Warren's influence over the evangelical community further increase for those reasons. Obama wants to send a message to the evangelical community that they matter in an Obama Administration, that they don't have to go Republican to have leaders who listen to them, and gay-friendly evangelical pastors just don't have much credibility within that community.

Plus, let's face it, this isn't exactly a cabinet position.

UPDATE: And as I write that Obama has appointed hardly any progressives, he names Hilda Solis as Secretary of Labor, who's almost as solidly pro-labor as you can get.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Captain Obvious brings you TIME's Person of the Year


It's true that they shouldn't get into the habit of making every new president the Person of the Year, but really, this one is pretty clearly the right call. Barack has dominated the news the entire year, he's felled two of America's political titans, taken over the Democratic party, and been forced to become de facto president 2 months early. His election victory made millions of people proud to be Americans again and humbled formerly snickering European nations who have been forced to admit that, for all their liberal politics, they're not yet egalitarian enough to elect an ethnic minority head of the government. That victory also led the Iraqi government to finalize a power-sharing agreement with the United States, now confident that the next president will fulfill Bush's promise to leave Iraq.

These are really cool.

TIME also gives an uninspired list of runners up and "people who mattered," including people like John McCain and Sarah Palin who were proven notably inconsequential in front of the Obama steamroller. In fact, I would have added Katie Couric to the list of special people for single-handedly laying the death knell to Sarah Palin's fledgling career in national politics. Nevertheless, Palin landed a runner-up slot rather than Hillary Clinton, who was the first legitimate female presidential contender, a far tougher, more resilient opponent than McCain/Palin, and who exits 2008 with a much louder bull-horn than Palin as Secretary of State. More of that vaunted media "balance," I'm guessing. Both McCain and Palin place higher, incidentally, than Robert Mugabe, who has certainly influenced more lives worldwide more profoundly, not to mention international politics. One name is conspicuously missing from the list entirely, and it's the only name I can think of that could possibly have "mattered" this year anywhere near as much as Barack Obama: Vladimir Putin.

Yet TIME saw fit to add Robert Downey, Jr. to the list instead.

It looks like TIME's only real metric for deciding these lists is who gets the most mentions in the news, but that's a terrible way to decide who makes the most significant impact. In the case of Obama, that works because the United States has been obsessed with him all year long, but that system also preferences celebrity over substance. Hence you get Michael Phelps on your list because Phelps won 8 swimming medals, and not Hu Jintao, who is the president of the biggest nation on the planet and the one that hosted said Olympics. You get the CEO of Lehman Bros. because his firm made a big splash when it splattered against the pavement, but you don't get Alan Greenspan or Phil Gramm, who may be the two figures most intimately responsible for the economic collapse that's now affected the entire world. You get Mikheil Saakashvili because his name showed up in the news a lot for "poking the Russian bear," but the big winner in that conflict, the one who looked a lot bigger afterwards and affected the state of international politics, was the bear. And, of course, you get people like Downey and Phelps and Tina Fey, people we liked to watch but who weren't meaningful to our lives. Does making 2 successful movies that revive your moribund acting career mean you "mattered" this year in the same sense that Hillary Clinton or Henry Paulson "mattered?"

Friday, December 12, 2008

questioning their patriotism

The Senate Republicans torpedoed a bailout for the American auto industry, exposing countless thousands and perhaps millions of workers to the specter of unemployment during a depression, at a time of unprecedented job losses, and did so specifically because the Democrats were unwilling to cut worker salaries enough. Not executive salaries, but worker salaries. And it's an open secret that many of these Senators did so with an eye toward the welfare of the foreign automakers who employ their constituents.

That's some shameful shit.

I want you to remember this next time some pseudo-Everyman southern Republican switches out his Confederate bars for the Stars and Stripes and impugns the patriotism of liberals or Democrats.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

all politics is national

My neighborhood is an old one, a haggard remnant of the Studebaker days, much like the city itself. Things had been looking up, though: many of the houses were bought up and renovated, and sold to younger families getting their start. My block was 80% unoccupied only 5 short years ago, and by last year every house save one at the end of the block was owner occupied. The mayor, meanwhile, bulldozed most of the abandoned and condemned buildings. We planted new trees and surrounded the homes with landscaping and gardens, joined neighborhood watch groups and listservs, and got the city to start plowing our alleys again.

Then the housing market crashed and the credit markets seized up. Suddenly none of the people who were planning to move can sell their house, even here, a thousand miles from the nearest housing bubble hot spot. There are several "for sale" signs nearby that have sat outside for months, and at least one of neighbors gave up trying to sell his house, and had to settle for anything that would help him recoup the cost of keeping it. Thus, for the first time in years, we have renters on our block again. Some jobs dried up, the people on the margins of the neighborhood fell on harder times, and in the blink of an eye we've found ourselves the collective victims of a massive wave of thefts and burglaries.

Sometime last night, my household suffered its own glancing blow as an intruder shattered the garage window and rode off on my bike, the shiny, black Schwinn with collapsing saddlebags I wrote about in June. It was my first bike in 20 years. I got to own it a grand total of 6 months.

RIP 88.1 KTXT

From the website:
Texas Tech University's Student Media department is undergoing several changes. The most significant of those changes occurred today when KTXT-FM, the university's student-run radio station, ceased its broadcasts on 88.1 FM and ktxt.net.

Control of the radio station's FCC license, which is maintained by the university, is being shifted from the Student Media department to Texas Tech's other educational radio station, KOHM-FM.

No firm plans regarding the future of the 88.1 FM frequency or the related Web site have been announced.

Lubbock is an isolated, desolate place. The closest cities of any size (Fort Worth, Austin, Albuquerque) are all 5-6 hours away. The weather map during the news looks like a brown grid with a dot in the middle labeled "Lubbock," surrounded by smaller dots with labels that sound more like landmarks than towns: Brownfield, Levelland, Muleshoe, Sweetwater. The landscape is uninviting. Sure, there are buildings and trees planted in the city, but if you drive too far out, you see the rows of houses and lawns just... well, end, and flat, arid plains stretching out over the horizon, the relentless wind building little dust devils in the dirt.

The radio is sort of like that, too: isolated and desolate. There are a bunch of Clearchannel stations, including a crusty rock frequency in the middle of the dial whose aging DJ's play more Led Zeppelin and Van Halen than all the bands from the last 10 years combined, and a mixed 80's, 90's, 00's station that seems to have stopped buying CD's in 2002. Then there's all the pop country and Tejano stations, with a couple of Christian ones sprinkled in between, and one classical station. There is no NPR.

Hanging out on the left end of all that isolation, however, the kids always had K-TXT, Texas Tech's student-run radio station. The station was good by any college radio standards, with a frequently updated playlist that included lots of up and coming acts and was intentionally defiantly short on the top 20 hits. They played music that was catching on outside the twin bubbles of West Texas and MTV. Their DJ's were hip, snobby, Parliament-smoking college students who wore Goodwill sweaters and corduroys and t-shirts that said: "88.1 K-TXT: Don't ask me about music."

In the late 80's, my buddy Shane got us into it, and he (and the purple-haired girl who turned him onto 88.1) became perhaps the only kids at Matthews Junior High to own The Cure's Disintegration. A couple of years later, we all got Wish (which I still contend is the better album of the two). There is virtually no end to the litany of bands I first heard on 88, from the now-classics like The Pixies to alternative babes like Juliana Hatfield and Tanya Donnelly and Kim Deal to alt-country "y'allternative" rockers The Old 97's and Ryan Adams.

88 was far from perfect; in fact, much of the music they played I found unlistenable. Even the crap, however, was at least new crap. It was unmanufactured, non-mass-produced crap. It was crap that hipsters all over the country were listening to and pretending to like so they could look avant-garde.

The good stuff, however, was far better than anything any other station had to offer. It made us feel like we were plugged in, like we hadn't left the 21st century at the base of the Caprock on our way in.

And just like that, the station that over the years introduced me to The Cure, The Pixies, The Old 97's, and Rilo Kiley falls silent.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Blago goin' down

With prosecutorial pit bull Patrick Fitzgerald tapping his phones and half the national media watching to see who gets Barack Obama's senate seat, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich goes that extra mile to prove that he's the dumbest f**king guy on the planet.

According to Fitzgerald's report, Obama was on Blago's shit list because he wasn't willing to play along.

Monday, December 08, 2008

the BCS must die

Around this time last year, Dan Wetzel at Yahoo! sports advocated an NCAA basketball-style tournament to replace the BCS. I drew out what that tournament would have looked like in 2006, and I liked what I saw. It looked like a great idea at the time, and after seeing the carnage of yesterday, it looks even better today. Both teams in the Mythical National Championship Game have a loss, and at last count there are at least 6 other teams with one loss on their record, and most of their losses were smaller eyesores than Florida's faceplant against Ole Miss at home.

And that's not even counting the two undefeated teams, both of whom have previous BCS bowl game victories under their belts. One of those teams, Boise St., didn't even land a BCS game at all despite posting one of the most exciting victories in BCS history. Another team, Texas Tech, had the unfortunate luck of playing in a strong conference, and likewise will not be playing in a BCS game despite finishing #7 at 11-1.

So what would December/January look like if we had said tournament? Behold:

Right out of the gate there's a monster matchup: Texas Tech-Ohio State. The following round we'd likely see the winner play Florida, along with 'Bama-USC (!) on the other side, and a potential 2006 rematch between Boise St. and Oklahoma (or alternatively Penn St. and Oklahoma). If Florida wants to make it to the championship, they'd almost certainly have to beat Texas on the way there; Oklahoma's scary offense would have to face down one of the two best D's in the country-- the Trojans or the Tide. And there's plenty of room for BCS busters to make waves: Texas would have to play East Carolina and the winner of TCU-Utah (anyone out there really think the Utes wouldn't give Texas hell?), and Boise St. faces a relatively untested Penn St. before advancing to the Sooners.

Oh well. One can dream.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Arrr Qaeda?

An interesting op-ed in the NYT on the similarities between piracy and terrorism from a legal standpoint. Nevertheless, I'm a little tired of all these "whatever I don't like=terrorism" arguments, perhaps because they're akin to the truly absurd "whoever I don't like=Hitler" screeching. Furthermore, the "pirates=terrorists" argument is a specious one on several other levels (in most senses, the obvious analog to pirates is not terrorists but brigands), and that sloppiness of argument muddies the editorialist's legal point.

We don't have to remake pirates into terrorists in order to know what to do about them or galvanize the will to act against them. They're pirates. You're not going to have to worry about pro-pirate sentiment among your constituents or the pro-pirate lobby derailing your UN mandate to extend navies' jurisdictions to acts of piracy.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

as silly as ND's tizzy over Weis was

...at least we're not Auburn. From Matt Hinton, formerly SMQ:
Update the coaching board already: Word has emerged from the Auburn bunker, and it is that Tommy Tuberville is out as head coach. Official announcement could come later today.

Auburn lost six of its last seven since the start of October, with the only win coming against Tennessee-Martin, but otherwise, Tuberville only went undefeated four years ago, beat the hated cross-state rival six times in a row and won 45 more games in 10 years than he lost, is all.

Tommy friggin' Tuberville, who won the Iron Bowl so many times it stopped looking like a rivalry, who upset Florida during their title run just 2 short years ago, who went undefeated (in the SEC!) only 4 years ago, and who sports an 85-40 record over 10 years as head coach, is out after one 5-7 season.
For most of Tommy Tuberville's 10 seasons as Auburn coach, the Tigers were the best college football team in a state where that title is almost as important as the national championship.

In 2008, Nick Saban and Alabama took the state back as Tuberville's Tigers faltered, and that was enough to make Auburn want a change in leadership.

God help you if you can't make it 7 in a row against the Tide, apparently.

My biggest worry is that Auburn made so bold a play because they've already got a lock on Mike Leach. Stay away from our coach, vultures!

Canuckistan

Don't look now, but apparently Canada's suddenly found themselves in the midst of a constitutional crisis.

Here's the skinny: the conservatives formed a minority government, lacking an absolute majority themselves or an opposing coalition majority to oust them. As the Canadian economy tanked, the Tories came to be seen as unresponsive to the crisis and lost the confidence of the rest of Parliament. Thus, a union of opposition parties (including, notably, Bloc Quebecois) are planning a no-confidence vote to dissolve the parliament, and are even considering forming their own coalition government.

The monkey wrench comes in PM Stephen Harper's reaction to these negotiations: he's asked the Governor-General to adjourn the parliament, which has only been in session for 2 weeks and has not yet passed a single bill. So now the GG, who's been considered as archaic a figurehead as the Queen across the pond, suddenly has a hugely important decision to make: allow the PM to preempt his own ouster, or to commit the very rare act of denying the PM's request, and if so and if Harper is ousted, to allow the opposition to form a government or hold another election only 2 months after the last one.

UPDATE: The GG has granted the PM's request. Parliament is adjourned, but only until January.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Boneheadedly Concocted Standings

Texas stomps A&M while it takes all four quarters for Oklahoma to upend Oklahoma State. Bulls**t computers, however, decide to leapfrog the Sooners over the Horns anyway, crowning them Big 12 South champs and sending them to the conference championship game, where they will play Missouri.

This, of course, means that the 11-1 Texas Longhorns will spend next Saturday watching two teams they defeated play for the Big 12 championship, thanks to the awesome, wonderful BCS.

Monday, November 24, 2008

presidential mythopoiesis

I'm seeing a number of myths about Barack Obama now starting to take shape due particularly to liberal reaction to his new administrative team, even among otherwise sane voices like Glenn Greenwald. Mostly they're of the strain that Obama is not, nor has ever been, liberal, and didn't vote like a liberal in the Senate.

This is simply not accurate. Barack Obama was one of the more consistently liberal voices in the Senate, voting with the Democrats some 96% of the time. He has a big fat 0% rating from the NRLC, an anti-Roe organization, and 100% from NARAL (higher than Russ Feingold). Despite the flak he's taken for not supporting gay marriage, he is a strong supporter of civil unions, supports ditching Don't Ask Don't Tell, and has an 89% rating from the Human Rights Campaign. He has a 100% rating from the NAACP. He voted against restricting bankruptcy protection and for repealing the tax subsidy for companies shipping jobs overseas. He voted for expanding the Pell Grant, for closing corporate tax loopholes and moving that money to education spending, and for increasing the amount of money sent to local education agencies. He voted to remove oil and gas exploration subsidies, to factor greenhouse gas emissions into federal project planning, to cancel oil contracts in ANWR, to raise CAFE standards 4%/year until 2018, and to allow states to set stricter environmental guidelines than the federal government, sporting a 96% rating from the League of Conservation Voters (the same rating as Ted Kennedy). He voted against CAFTA, and voted to add labor standards to NAFTA. He voted to establish a Senate Office of Public Integrity and sponsored a bill to disclose federal earmarks on the internet. He voted against extending the Patriot Act's wiretapping provision (though he did ultimately vote to reauthorize the Act itself), voted to preserve habeas corpus for enemy combatants, and to continue to require FISA warrants for overseas wiretapping. He voted against both Justices Roberts and Alito. He has voted consistently against cutting the capital gains tax and the estate tax, supports the Alternative Minimum Tax, and voted to increase taxes for people making more than $1 million.

This senator is not liberal?

I also find it funny that some of the same people now saying that Obama has "no one" in his administration advising him from the left criticized him in the primary for being less liberal than Hillary Clinton. After all, Clinton's superior progressive bona fides were repeatedly touted by no less than Paul Krugman, and she called herself a "progressive" at one of the early primary debates. Clinton voted with Democrats 96% of the time (same as Obama), and is labeled a "hard core liberal" by Ontheissues.org. Now Clinton is a centrist, too? Admittedly, his administration is not, say, as liberal as Bush's was conservative, but if you were expecting cabinet positions for Dennis Kucinich, Barney Frank, and Russ Feingold, you were bound to be disappointed. Most of the members of his administration are decidedly to the right of Obama the senator, and that is something we liberal Obama supporters have to deal with, but Obama's voting record was most certainly liberal. Perhaps the man has changed or somehow pretended to be liberal while a senator, but the far more likely explanation is exactly what he said it was: he wants a broad spectrum of opinions around him so as to keep his feet as firmly planted in reality as possible. There was a lesson in George W. Bush's appointments about filling the president's office with ideological fellow travelers, and it looks like Obama has taken that lesson seriously.

The appointments are also evidence of Obama-ism at its core, which is not so much a political ideology (though Obama is personally quite liberal) as a sociological or psychological one, one characterized by respect and optimism. The core tenet of Obamaism, as far as I can see, is the belief that all the different sides in a given political debate operate primarily from divergent worldviews that are legitimately held and intelligently deduced, rather than motivated by mere greed/stupidity/laziness/evil/cowardice. The primary ramification of this belief is that you cannot rely on your superior ideology to provide you all the answers; there may well be places where liberalism is wrong and conservatism right, and the only way to know is to have conservatives, centrists, and old hands on board to try to prove you wrong before you enact a bad policy. Another ramification is that experience and success generally trump ideological bona fides, something you can afford when you're only 8 years removed from a moderately success administration of your own party.

This diversity in the war room also provides three major boons to the president: 1. bipartisan cred and a reputation for giving the opposition their say, 2. a deeper well from which to draw out solutions, and 3. stances and opinions that are well-tested and evidence-based.

we had no idea he was so serious

Super Obama World

Fun times. (hat tip to Mike D. for this find)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Rahmbo

A rare moment of good, if somewhat obvious, political humor from SNL:

I can't help but kinda like a Democrat like this.

And I did a little fist pump after the Lieberman line.

Guest post: the auto industry


Much political territory has already been staked out on this issue, but it is anything but a black-and-white thing we're dealing with. I'm going to lay a lot out here, and I certainly am not an expert on any of this, but here's where I am.

My personal approach is to measure as much fact as I can, balance it against philosophy, and then try to evaluate what I think the best course of action would be. So, if I were a congressman right about now, where would I be on this?

First, facts:

-the big 3 employ directly and indirectly about 10% of the US workforce
-the big 3 spend much more per employee than the transplants and foreign companies. This is due to the combined influences of the UAW and the fact that the US is the only industrialized nation without universal health care.
-stock prices for the big 3 are in the floor. GM is at its lowest price since the great depression. This makes it remarkably difficult for them to raise operating capital
-some 20% of the entire US national manufacturing sector is tied to the automotive industry
-sales are off over 35% across the board (in some cases much more than that)
-the auto industry has already received a 25 billion dollar US govt loan this year
-corporate and consumer credit are both very difficult to come by right now
-the big 3 have a crappy track record of making great cars.
-Germany, Italy and France have considered a common EU bailout that the US could potentially negotiate its way in on

now on to philosophy:

-I don't really believe that congress should be particularly in the business of running the industry
-I do believe that US manufacturing is incredibly important to our continued prosperity and success. It's also remarkably important from a military strategic perspective.
-I agree with Obama when he says that the US auto industry is a key cog in what our national energy policy should be going forward (plug in cars). I haven't done the research yet as to what the impacts of importing that industry as would be as opposed to domestically producing it, but my hunch is that it wouldn't be nearly as advantageous.
-Generally, two big systematic problems for the US auto industry are the lack of national health care, and the credit crunch - both of which are out of the automaker's control.
-I don't believe that Ford, GM, or Chrysler have any inherent right to exist as American companies. If it's in our best interests as Americans to let one or all of them fail, then so be it. If it's not, then lets not let it happen though.

So if I were a senator, what would I propose?

Well, first off I'd go ahead and do the bridge loan. The Bush admin has made it clear that they're punting the whole economic thing to the Obama admin, and the financial realities of the auto industry seem both real and dire. There's no real reason to let them fail due solely to electoral timelines. If we're going to let them die, then let's have it be a conscious decision.

Once we get them into the Obama administration, they won't be the first priority. The first priority will be the economic stimulus - public works, states and local government, education etc. Effective execution of that stuff will have a big impact on the bottom line of the auto industry by itself. If they cannot stabilize themselves after that, then a real look should be taken into the effects of bankruptcy.

Chapter 11 bankruptcy (reorganization)would not necessarily be a bad thing. Many inflated and crappy companies have gone through Chapter 11 in recent years, only to come out smaller, refocused, and profitable. It would force the companies to cut fat, allow appropriate bargaining with the UAW, and generally air out a lot of dirty laundry that needs to get aired out. The problems really come if they slip into chapter 7 bankruptcy (liquidation). Liquidation of the auto industry would be devastating to the economy overall, and is just strategically a really bad idea.

So that's where the line should be. In a perfect world congress would be able to put out some kind of assisted chapter 11 where they could infuse capital if needed but otherwise let it work itself out. A certain amount of stuff probably does need to get liquidated, and a certain amount of credit needs to be written down, but there is a line beyond which the industry cannot continue and therefore it should not be allowed to cross it.

All of this is remarkably tricky to be sure. That's why longer term actions need to be up and running quickly. Incentives for upstarts to begin innovating and manufacturing in that same space should be put into place. Movement into public transportation needs to be happening at a greater pace as well.

Obama's putting together a team of the best and the brightest, and for now that's the best we're going to be able to do. In the short term I support a bridge loan for the big 3, but over a longer period of time we probably need to re-grow manufacturing in this country from the ground up.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Bush's midnight regulations: a laundry list

10 gallon tip to Chuy for finding this. Some of them are real howlers.

What a jackass.

too good for TV

And just like that, the quirkiest, most brilliantly conceived show on television suffers the fate of Firefly and Arrested Development. Apparently viewers were busy watching... what else? A crime investigation show! In fact, the 3 ratings winners on Wednesday nights, taking up the entirety of network air time from 8-11? Three crime investigation shows!

But hey, those three crime investigation shows are totally different than the crime investigation show that wins the ratings on Monday, the two crime show ratings hogs on Tuesday, the original crime show blockbuster on Thursday, and the two winners on Friday (one of which is a rerun of one of the Tuesday crime shows!).

Chew on this: every single solitary weekday, one of the primetime ratings winners is a CSI or an NCIS. Also, every time a crime investigation show airs, it beats every other show (one that isn't in its first season, anyway; this does not apply to The Mentalist and Life on Mars). The only things that have beaten established crime shows in the last 2 weeks? Sunday Night Football, the CMA's, and other crime shows.

Furthermore, the most banal, insipid crime shows regularly blow high-quality opposition out of the water. Boston Legal, for all its impressive acting performances and incisive social commentary, can't dent the ratings of the juggernaut that is CSI: Miami. Yeah, this CSI:

Nor do The Office and 30 Rock, the two greatest comedies of the decade, stand a chance against vanilla CSI.

I am angry partly because I'm just as much at fault for this as anyone, as I do occasionally indulge in a cheesy crime drama, and the worse it is, the better. There's a lesson here about voting with your dollars (or, in this case, your remote).

Raiding Norman

[The NCAA's coolest mascot, barnone.]

Swing your sword, Red Raiders.

it's never Thanksgiving for animals near Sarah Palin

Alaska Governor Sarah "li'l bit country" Palin gives a press conference where she pardons the Thanksgiving turkey and calls herself a "friend to creatures great and small (!)," but doesn't think about what might be going on right over her shoulder, in full view of the camera, when you stand in front of a hatchery a week before Thanksgiving. Let's just say it wasn't a blanket pardon.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

stolen from a TTU blog

Life gives you stories that resonant within. Stories like a young shepherd boy picking up five smooth stones and slaying a giant with a simple sling and a faith in God. Stories like a band of brothers completely encircled by German troops in WWII and when rescued by Gen. Patton claiming that they didn’t need rescuing, they were holding their own just fine. Stories about a rag tag bunch of colonies winning a war against the greatest world power of their time because they believed they could. Stories about a 6 seed Villanova defeating Georgetown for the NCAA championship, not because anyone else thought they could but because they thought they could. A runner survives 26 miles to warn his countrymen. A black woman refuses to move to the back of the bus. Stories like these inspire and bring hope because everyone of us is weaker than someone, smaller than someone and faces obstacles of our own.

Remember the advice Coach Switzer gave Coach Leach when he was offered this job? Don’t do it, you can’t win there. That in a nutshell is the world’s belief about our school. You can’t win there. Tech is too remote, too small and too inconsequential to compete. Tech faces too many giants, from storied programs such as OU, UT and Nebraska to programs that are better funded. All but Tech and Baylor in the Big 12 are land grant universities within their state. They have celebrated their 100th year of this and that. We weren’t even around 100 years ago. They are big. We are not.

But did Coach Leach listen to his mentor? No, he thought it could be done. He saw the promise. He believed in himself. He went to work. In many ways, success at Tech becomes Coach Leach. The pirates that Coach Leach is fascinated with battled world dominating empires such as the British, French and Spanish. As the pirates are to the British, French and Spanish, so Tech is to OU, UT and Nebraska. I think Leach recognized this when he started with the pirate theme. All the talk of Leach taking this job or that job seems silly to me. Can you see a Pirate becoming a British Commodore? This misfit who never played college football who is still viewed as a nutcase by traditional football powers fits here like a sword in a scabbard. West Texas is the outpost colony where only a pirate can thrive.

So Leach began to build the base and the persona of a team, a team that could challenge. He took them to war and continually crafted the approach with phases such as “swing your sword” and “do your job.” He defied the traditionalist and rallied Raider Nation with his views that his fans were as good as any and that sometimes a pirate beats a soldier. Sometimes he does indeed, sometimes he does indeed. He drilled his team on execution, execution, execution. Now you hear stories of one of the top QBs in the country spending hours in the summer with the best receiver in the country throwing routes over and over again. Doing their job and swinging their sword during the summer of Texas sweat and heat. Why work so hard boys, don’t you know you can’t win at Tech? Listen and you will hear “yes we can” in the whine of the spirals in the Texas heat. “Yes we can” in the smack of the pads against each other. “Yes we can” in the clink of the weights on the bench.

So how will the story end? I don’t know but I can tell you this. I am looking forward to seeing this team go mano a mano against OU and Stoops, the de facto King of the Big 12 hill at their house. Leach and his marauding band of brothers have already knocked down traditional power Nebraska and current power UT, who between them have over 10 MNC. OU claims 7 MNC and beyond OU is Florida, Alabama or possibly USC. Line’em all up I say, those MNC trophies don’t play a position on the field. They all started with zero trophies just like us. If and when this team wins the MNC they will probably have defeated programs with over 20 MNC between them. This team won’t win a MNC the easy way like BYU or Colorado. Nope, this team is going to have to flat out earn it by beating the hell out of the British, French and Spanish of the world. When you come from Texas Tech you know that respect is fought for and earned and the same will be true of our football team. I wouldn’t have it any other way, would you?
Wreck’em Tech

Monday, November 17, 2008

it would be irresponsible NOT to speculate!

The liberal media asks if Barack Obama is the Anti-Christ.

Luckily the sources, a learned and utterly balanced mix of right-wing Christians and religious conservatives, keep this story's feet firmly planted on intellectual terra firma:
Strandberg says Obama probably isn't the Antichrist, but he's watching the president-elect carefully. On his Web site, he has something called the Rapture Index, a calculation based on signs and prophecy of the proximity of the end. According to Strandberg, any number over 160 means "fasten your seat belts." Obama's win pushed the index to 161.

God may try to hide his plans from the ever-vigilant eyes of the blogosphere, but, by golly, if Dan Rather couldn't fool them,...

hall of shame

Forbes has released its list of the 10 Best-performing Cars of 2008, and the 10 worst-performing. Notice a pattern?

What about all those stories I've been told about how Detroit is making great cars now, but consumers are just slow to change their perceptions?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

up is down, black is white

Leading conservative blogger John Hinderacker:
Obama thinks he is a good talker, but he is often undisciplined when he speaks. He needs to understand that as President, his words will be scrutinized and will have impact whether he intends it or not. In this regard, President Bush is an excellent model; Obama should take a lesson from his example. Bush never gets sloppy when he is speaking publicly. He chooses his words with care and precision, which is why his style sometimes seems halting. In the eight years he has been President, it is remarkable how few gaffes or verbal blunders he has committed. If Obama doesn't raise his standards, he will exceed Bush's total before he is inaugurated.

This is why I have no faith whatsoever in the judgment of the Republican remnant to know what they need to do to fix their party. They have completely lost touch with reality.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Guest Post: The Times



I thought this was appropriate. There are videos for this song that feature photos of the President-Elect, I think the words speak well enough alone.

somewhere in middle America

Barack Obama wins another electoral vote. Whose electoral vote, you ask? Omaha, Nebraska's.

comedians and Barack Obama

Let's point out the stupidly obvious: comedians are going to figure out how to make fun of Barack Obama. If I were a comedian, I'd do a bit about how everything with Obama is momentous. Show President Obama watching cartoons and then giving a speech to his kids on the possibility for eventual reconciliation between Tom and Jerry. Something about how the fundamental flaw in their thinking is not in coming up with ever more elaborate ways to physically assault each other, but in always resorting to war as a first resort. We should talk to our enemies.

In fact, you could play Obama's essential unfunniness, in ironic contrast to his appealing among young people, as a bit in itself. There's an irony about Obama that's completely untouched so far: that the young love him like they've loved no one since Kennedy, but Obama is the poster child for square grown-ups in everything but age. He takes everything so seriously. He seems like the only adult in Washington with his "no drama" mantra and disciplined campaign. He maintains a very traditional, even conservative family life. He has the perfect articulation of a Harvard man. He doesn't drink or womanize or even slouch. Even his "blow off steam" activity (basketball) is healthy! Hell, so far as I've seen, he's not even very good at telling a joke. Compared to both W. and Clinton, Barack Obama seems awfully proper and mature, even a bit stuffy. In fact, other than a dubious Jay-Z reference in one stump speech during the primary, there's little to indicate that Obama is "cool" in any traditional sense.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Guest post:A culmination of events.

A lot of things had to happen in order for Barak Obama to become President of the United States.

Obama's campaign was cooly and confidently controlled by the candidate and David Axlerod, but the circumstances surrounding and leading up to it were not. Here's a little list of some of the things that had to happen in order for Obama to stand atop this historic peak.


-1991: The end of the Persian Gulf War.

One year before Obama began teaching Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago, George H Bush stopped short of invading Iraq and taking down Hussein. If Bush had actually gone into Iraq it would have likely create a simliar quagmire to the one his son created. This would have changed the entirety of the Clinton administration, and would have opened and closed the political window that Obama had to enter the national political stage on that issue. Also, W would not have had an excuse to re-invade, and indeed would be much less likely to even win a republicna nomination.


-Nov 1999: The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act

This was the law that repealed the depression-era rules and regulations that did things like prohibiting a bank holding company from consolidating with other financial companies. This basically allowed any finanical institution to merge with any other type of financial institution, and was one of the root causes of the mortgage meltdown. This act is still in effect today. If the meltdown had not occurred, McCain may have caught Obama in the waning days of the election. He had closed the gap in the polls in important swing states based on the "Celebrity" and "Naieve" attacks, but in the end the financial meltodown and McCain's close ties with Gramm were decicive factors in Obama's presidential win.


-Nov 2000: Obama loses his campaign for the House.

If Obama had won this race he would have had a much longer road to public prominence. The political clout of a US Representative is dilluted greatly by the number of representatives in office. His loss in this race set up his successful Senatoral run in 2004.


-Sept 2000: Bush defeats McCain in the Republican primaries.

In the same election cycle where Obama lost his election to become a house representative, John McCain was Bush's only realy competition in the Repblican presidential primaries, - along with Steve Forbes (who was going to have a hard time selling the flat-tax plan to America). If McCain had prevailed, its likely that he would have won the general electoin and that the attacks on 9/11 still would have occured. That said, McCain is less likely to have filled his office with the types of incompetant sycophants that GWB did. He may still have invaded Iraq, but it would not have been under the tutilage of Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, and he would have likely sent a larger ground force initially to the conflict. It's really pretty difficult to overstate the degree to wich GWB F'd up that Iraqi conflict, which was a major factor in Obama's win over Hillary in the primaries. Even a wrong-headed war pursued with some degree of comptetence would have left Obama's window that much more closed in '08.

-Dec 2000: Commodity Futures Modernization act of 2000

This is the "Enron Loophole" that deregulated the trading and allowed for the creation of derivative securities and single-stock futures. Bill Clinton signed this legislation in late December of 2000 after GWB had already won the presidency. It is this legislation that allowed Enron to rob little old ladies in California, took down Grey Davis, and set the stage for the economic collapse that occured in Oct 2008, just before the presidential election. The Enron Loophole still exists, and will continue to plague our economy until it is rectified.


------

No doubt there are countless other examples of things that had to go exactly right in order for Obama to have his historic run both come about and succeed. This list is really meant to highlight the political decisions that people before him had to make in order for this to come about. If any one of these things didn't go the way they did, we'd be looking at someone different coming into the whitehouse right now.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

the regional party of the South

Reading these botched predictions and thinking about a conversation I had the other day, it occurs to me that the central reason the Republicans seem so out of touch is because they assumed there were always enough conservatives to win every election. The Democrats make a play for every demographic, to both their benefit and detriment, but that's a very different strategy than the Republican one. If you're not a social conservative, an economic conservative, or a foreign policy neoconservative, the Republicans are not interested in your vote, and will use you as a bogeyman to scare conservatives to the polls. The problem is those groups the Republicans have spent the last 30 years willfully antagonizing-- atheists/agnostics, feminists, liberals, immigrants, gays, religious non-Judaeo-Christians-- are among the fastest growing demographics in the country. Meanwhile, George W. Bush and the Christian Right made Republicanism uncool to a whole generation of Americans just now becoming politically aware, while congressional Republicans chased Hispanics and college-educated whites into the waiting arms of the Democratic Party. And yes, Americans are becoming slightly more liberal.

That's why it's so deathly important for Karl Rove and the rest to keep repeating "America is still a center-right country." They have to convince themselves, because the alternative is too scary.

Onion writer realizes mid column that Obama elected

This is brilliant.

So is this.

Sarah Palin: Africa is a country


Oh Sarah, it's such a shame, your exit from the national stage. We were just getting to know you! Congrats to Bush-fawning douchebag Carl Cameron: this report is like a bottle full of ranch-flavored awesome.

landslide

North Carolina called for Obama, bringing his EV total to 364. Sorry Mike.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

winners and losers

This election has nontrivial repercussions for a number of players and groups around the country. I think it's a good to take a moment to consider who the big winners and losers are at the end of the day.

The winners:

Women. With the election of Barack Obama, Roe v. Wade is guaranteed to be preserved at least for the foreseeable future. The moderate liberal quartet in the Supreme Court is aging fast, with 2 or 3 expected to retire in the new president's first term. Under John McCain, that would have almost assuredly meant the tilting of the Court hard to the right, but President Obama will likely maintain the balance, maintaining the right to privacy, and with it, the right to an abortion. Speaking of abortion, a referendum to ban it in South Dakota went down in flames along with a referendum granting legal personhood to zygotes in Colorado. Also, the election also saw a dramatic rise in the number of women office holders, including Bev Perdue as NC governor, Jeane Shaheen as NH senator, and a half dozen or so representatives.

The sick and disabled. Stem cell research funding passed in Michigan, a pretty big deal considering that's the home of some high-quality major public universities. Medical marijuana also passed there.

Katie Couric. Of all the journalists who covered or affected this election, the anchor of CBS News stands almost alone in fulfilling one the charges used to justify putting freedom of the press in the Bill of Rights: giving voters an important insight into the abilities and character of major office candidates so the voters can make an informed decision. Say what you will about her performance as an anchor, she exposed Sarah Palin as a poster child for mediocrity, and possibly saved us all from the nightmare of a Palin Administration. It likely saved her career as well; notice that no one's talking about the possibility of ousting Couric as anchor anymore.

Chuck Todd. Todd has done a great job filling the late Tim Russert's shoes, showing a mastery of the facts, a facility with explaining complicated electoral matters, and a pleasant on-air demeanor that should, in a fair world, cement his place as Russert's successor.

Bill Clinton. There is perhaps no one who benefited more from George W. Bush's epic collapse than Big Dog and his legacy (aside, of course, from Barack Obama). Clinton went from a political liability in 2000 to a boon in '08.

The voting public. Remember how people around the world and here at home viewed us as dipshits and rubes after Bush won re-election? How our reputation was sullied, seemingly without any hope of remedy? How American tourists have frequently reported an increasingly icy reception even from people in countries long considered our allies?

You done good, people.

[added 11/7/08 5:30 pm] the pollsters. We spent a lot of time second-guessing them, denigrating their past performance, talking up the Bradley effect and Shy Tory effect and Wilder effect and every other effect we could think of. Neither candidate claimed to be "listening to the polls," as if "polls" is another word for "Bolsheviks." And lo and behold, the pollsters predicted the race within their sampling error almost to a man. At least, they did outside of the 14 point Republican overperformance at all levels in Alaska, which hopefully someone will look into.

The losers:

Gays. The horrible irony of massive turnout among Obama's newest core constituencies in California, African Americans and Hispanics, caused a gay marriage ban to pass there along with several other states. Imagine what it would be like to wake up one day and find out that the government has nullified your marriage and all legal benefits deriving from it. That just happened to thousands of people on the West Coast.

Moderate Republicans. John McCain's choice of running mate was a slap in the face to them, and they were massacred in the last 2 elections, leaving only the hardcore wackos with virtual free reign of the party. Rush Limbaugh, for instance, intimated that the key question deciding if you're still welcome in the party will be "where you stood on Sarah Palin," as in, her detractors can take a hike. The Republican party is likely to tack right before it turns to the center, leaving moderate GOPers without a party for the time being.

Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulis. Their deplorable handling of the debate won't be quickly forgotten, and it wouldn't surprise me if the new Obama Administration finds itself much more willing to grant exclusive interviews to Katie Couric and Brian Williams.

George W. Bush. The lopsided loss of the presidency and the brutal purging of Republican congressmen and senators over the last 2 cycles (at current count, a total of 14 senators and 50 congressmen) has cemented his status as the primary cause of the collapse of the Republican party, and the its relegation to the status of regional party of a diminishing South. The one real electoral gift he had bequeathed the party, his massive inroads in the Hispanic vote, got torched when his party decided to use them as a whipping boy in 2005, plummeting the GOP's share of the Hispanic vote from 44% in 2004 to 32% in 2008. Hispanics are not going to forget that treachery and the huge protests in response to it, likely cementing the Hispanic vote for the Democrats for a generation.

Big business/lobbyists. It's a lot harder to curry favor with the president when he can raise a billion dollars without your help.

UPDATE: Bah! forgot one. added above.

Doggonit

Hysterical.

Condi Rice almost giddy over Obama victory


I've never been a fan of hers, and have never really understood how she managed to serve the entirety of both Bush terms in high-level, high-responsibility in the White House, presiding over both the military and eavesdropping bait-and-switches of Bush's duplicitous and belligerent first term as head of the NSA, and the domestic policy catastrophes of his bumbling second term as Secretary of State, and yet has so far survived with her reputation almost perfectly intact. Nevertheless, the look on her face here, described by Salon's Joan Walsh as "like a little girl on Christmas," is pretty remarkable.

"Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast"

Newsweek lets loose with all the dirt now that the election is over. This part is positively choice:
NEWSWEEK has also learned that Palin's shopping spree at high-end department stores was more extensive than previously reported. While publicly supporting Palin, McCain's top advisers privately fumed at what they regarded as her outrageous profligacy. One senior aide said that Nicolle Wallace had told Palin to buy three suits for the convention and hire a stylist. But instead, the vice presidential nominee began buying for herself and her family—clothes and accessories from top stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. According to two knowledgeable sources, a vast majority of the clothes were bought by a wealthy donor, who was shocked when he got the bill. Palin also used low-level staffers to buy some of the clothes on their credit cards. The McCain campaign found out last week when the aides sought reimbursement. One aide estimated that she spent "tens of thousands" more than the reported $150,000, and that $20,000 to $40,000 went to buy clothes for her husband. Some articles of clothing have apparently been lost. An angry aide characterized the shopping spree as "Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast," and said the truth will eventually come out when the Republican Party audits its books.

A new day in America, and newfound pride in the electorate

I cried a little during the speech. I had been skyping, and calling and texting and emailing various people in and around my little circle. My mom was giddy. My friends were too.

We popped some champagne that I had sitting around. It was pretty darn good.

I have reclaimed the respect that I lost for the American voter after the 2004 election.

This election was not about race. It was about hope vs fear, and hope won out.

An unquestionable mandate, and much work to do. May we be lucky and strong enough to work together again towards a better country.

I feel a lot of love tonight.

-R

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

exit polls

...not designed to predict elections. Thus, their margin of error tends to be higher than other polls. Don't trust them.

election predictions

My best guess, pulled fresh from my tookis:
* 57 Democratic Senate seats (not including Lieberman and Sanders)
* 41 Republican Senate seats
* 252 Democratic House seats
* 183 Republican House seats
* 338 Obama Electoral Votes
* 200 McCain Electoral Votes
* 52.5 Obama Popular Vote Percentage
* 46.3 McCain Popular Vote Percentage
Your guesses?

lines and lines...and lines

Enjoy these photos. Your kids will look at them in their history books. I'll drop a prediction thread pretty soon. I was planning to say Obama by 5, but I'm starting to think that's unrealistically low. It's certainly pessimistic compared to the polls.

Sap voted this morning at 10am, and still had to wait in line. Neither of us have ever seen a line at our voting place.

Monday, November 03, 2008

the big day


So here we are, folks: the end of the line. Currently poll aggregates for all states and all races can be found at pollster.com, and TPM has a list of poll closing times and an interactive, constantly updated electoral map.

Nate Silver has a great rundown in Newsweek of the order of poll closings and what to watch for. Here's a brief synopsis:

6pm: polls close in Kentucky. KY is going for McCain, but there's a humdinger of a Senate race between Bruce Lunsford and current Senate Minority Leader and architect of Republican obstruction Mitch McConnell. Current polling has McConnell up by 3, but if Lunsford pulls the upset, the door is open for Democrats take a filibuster-proof 60 seats in the Senate.

7pm: Virginia, Georgia, New Hampshire, Indiana. Indiana technically closes at 6, but there's a handful of heavy-Obama counties in Central Time. If Virginia (currently at +5.5 Obama) goes for Obama, he only has to hold PA to take the presidency, and if it goes early, McCain's chances become extremely remote. Obama should be helped in a reverse-coattails fashion by Mark Warner's impending 30 point demolition of the hapless Jim Gilmore in the VA senate. If Indiana (at +.5 McCain) goes for Obama, we're looking at a landslide. If Georgia falls to Obama (+3 McCain), he may get 270 electoral votes before the polls close on the West Coast. Georgia holds the second toss-up Senate contest with uber-slimeball Saxby Chambliss (currently up 4), again opening up the possibility of 60 seats if he goes down to Democrat Jim Martin. A more likely Dem Senate pickup can be found in NH, where former Dem governor Jean Shaheen is on pace to smoke John Sununu.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, however, is at +15. He's going to win re-election in a walk.

7:30: Ohio and North Carolina. These are both must-wins for McCain; there is no hope for John McCain without these two electoral vote-rich states. Obama's up 4 in Ohio, and a late McCain surge has left NC in a tie. Also look for Kay Hagan (up by 4) to give NC Senator Liddy Dole the ol' heave ho.

8pm: Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Missouri. If Obama has taken any of the previous battlegrounds and holds Pennsylvania (where he's up 7), he's going to win. Barack is up 16 in Michigan and down 1.5 in Missouri.

9pm: Colorado, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Minnesota. These are a likely Obama sweep, and if Obama has won Pennsylvania, Colorado (at +7 Obama) will be enough to put him over the top even without the early battlegrounds. Also watch for Al Franken to take down Senator Norm Coleman in MN, and a pair of Udalls to take Republican-held open seats in New Mexico and Colorado. Fun fact: if Obama were somehow to sweep the battlegrounds to this point, the 9pm states will give him 277 votes and the presidency.

10pm: Nevada, Iowa, Montana. Obama should be a lock for Iowa (+13 Obama), is ahead in Nevada (+7 Obama), and has a shot in Montana (+2 McCain). Silver calls Nevada Obama's "ace in the hole," as it, combined with Virginia and Colorado, would make up the difference in the unlikely loss of Pennsylvania.

11pm: California, Oregon, Washington. My expectation is that these will be called very soon after the polls close and that California will do the honors of giving Obama his 270th vote. Cally voters have a much closer vote to take care of in Proposition 8 which, if ratified, will ban same sex marriages in the state. They're currently legal in California by judicial decision, but the vote is dead even at the moment. Both Barack Obama and Arnold Schwarzenegger have come out against Prop 8, and Samuel L. Jackson and Ellen Degeneres have cut pretty outstanding ads against it.



Meanwhile, just up I-5, Jeff Merkley is likely to cast Senator Gordon Smith from his perch. If Smith's the 8th senator of the night to fall, expect the Democrats to get their 60 seats.

1am: Alaska. Ted Stevens, former President Pro Tempore of the Senate and recently convicted felon, is going down in flames. Expect Begich to win by more than 10, putting an ignominious end to the career of the man who has represented Alaska since it was a territory.

UPDATE: I forgot to add a note about Prop 8 and the Oregon Senate race in the 11pm slot. Added in bold.

this f**king election

Awesome.

Texas at Texas Tech: holy Mother of God

Uh, I think we won. Did anybody watch the end of that one?

If you look at the polls right now, you may notice that the Red Raiders are... I can't believe I'm saying this... number two. I just heard one of the sports talking heads refer to Texas Tech as "a genuine championship contender."

Wow. The PAC-10 is so stealing our coach next year.

Friday, October 31, 2008

John McCain will lose AZ. It's only a matter of time.

Kos, on the new R2K poll:
Research 2000 for Daily Kos. 10/28-30. Likely voters. MoE 4% (No trend lines)
McCain (R) 48
Obama (D) 47

Early voters (17 percent of sample)

McCain (R) 42
Obama (D) 54

Obama's putting new money into the state in the last 4 days of the race, and is forcing McCain to spend Monday (the day before Election Day) there instead of in Pennsylvania, a key tactical victory for Obama even if he doesn't win AZ. If Obama wins Arizona, however, there will lots of things to celebrate. Among them will be the potential realignment of the Mountain West-- a blue Arizona and Montana will mean Obama won the Rocky Mountain states 32 EVs to 12, the first time in modern history a Democrat has outperformed the Republicans there (Clinton tied it in '92). It's also heaping insult onto injury for McCain, and after his race-baiting campaign, he deserves every bit of it.

That's not the eye-popping news from this poll, however:
If the 2010 election for U.S. Senate were held today for whom would you vote for if the choices were between Janet Napolitano the Democrat and John McCain the Republican?
McCain (R) 45
Napolitano (D) 53

Janet Napolitano, the current governor, has an eye-popping 69-21 approval rating but will reach the end of her 2 term limit in 2010, just as John McCain comes up for re-election. McCain won't have it in him for a second tightly contested election in 2 years; he'll hang it up. This is the last stop for the Straight Talk Express.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Lord Jesus, save me from your followers

From Wonkette:
Did you know that some Christian dingbat has dubbed today the “Day of Prayer for the World’s Economies?” The dingbat has explained, “We are going to intercede at the site of the statue of the bull on Wall Street to ask God to begin a shift from the bull and bear markets to what we feel will be the ‘Lion’s Market,’ or God’s control over the economic systems.”

In case you are failing to picture what it looks like when a bunch of Christians go pray at the site of the Wall St. bull, it looks a little something like this.

Irony is dead.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

IN-02: Puckett's gonna get smoked

Tribune/WSBT poll:
Donnelly (D-inc) 54
Puckett (R) 40

The Puckett "campaign's" reply:
The Puckett campaign says the gap is not insurmountable.

Heh. Good one.

the daughter of a slave votes for Barack Obama

Awesome. I'm sure there are perfectly legitimate reasons not to vote for Obama, but I'm glad I won't have to tell my grandkids that I tried to stand in the way of this (potentially) historic moment.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Change.

an oldie but a goodie to take down a baddie

A brutally effective ad from last cycle is finally, finally being used against the vile Saxby Chambliss in Georgia:

Chambliss, you may remember, is the guy who beat former Senator Max Cleland by accusing him of being a coward and releasing an ad that slowly morphed Cleland's face into Osama bin Laden.

That would have been pretty low in itself, but Max Cleland gave both legs and an arm for his country in Vietnam.

Indiana politics: Rokita was part of Bush's 2000 election theft

Go figure. From TPM:
Yesterday we told you about an effort by Indiana's Republican secretary of state, Todd Rokita, to press federal and state authorities to prosecute ACORN for voter fraud. Rokita had said a review by his office of forms submitted by ACORN found "multiple criminal violations."

But it turns out that Rokita hardly has a reputation as a non-partisan public official. In October 2002, the South Bend Tribune reported (via nexis):

Working on his own time, [Rokita] also assisted George W. Bush's campaign during the infamous Florida election recount in 2000. Rokita is proud of that, especially because the U.S. Supreme Court cited Indiana election law when it decided the election in Bush's favor.

iPhone cutting into laptop use

Cyrus Farivar from Salon points out an interesting new development in the proliferation/evolution of smartphones: users get so much utility from them that they're leaving their laptops at home. From the Wall Street Journal:
These souped-up cousins of ordinary cellphones, with email and other Internet functions, have become much more powerful in the past year. So powerful, in fact, that they can handle nearly every computing chore that many business travelers need to do, from checking warehouse inventory levels to watching movies on airplanes. Best of all, users can do those tasks with a pocket-size gadget that weighs a few ounces, instead of a five-pound hunk of plastic that goes into a shoulder bag.

The result: Many travelers are now using smart phones the way they once used laptops -- and laptops the way they once used desktop computers. Mobile workers rely on their laptops to create PowerPoint presentations and do other heavy-duty computing. But then they leave the laptops in their offices, homes or hotel rooms and take their smart phones out into the world -- to client meetings, say, or factory visits.
...
...And it's clear that a sizable number of users already are starting to see their smart phone as a replacement for their laptop for at least some of their needs. In a survey of 460 iPhone users from March by Rubicon Consulting Inc., more than 28% of respondents strongly agreed and 29% mildly agreed when asked whether the iPhone was replacing their use of laptops.

I know there are at least 2 iPhone users who frequent this site and can comment on their experience. For my part, I've had a related, though very different experience as I rely entirely on a home assembled desktop. About a month ago, I decided to look around for some upgrades since my computer is about 2 1/2 years old now, and I was shocked at what I discovered: aside from RAM, PC desktop technology has hardly budged an inch. Nearly all of the components I bought as not-quite-top of the line in early 2006 are still upper-mid level quality, and several of them are still selling for the exact same price! Even most of the video games topping the sales lists are several years old, and one of them (World of Warcraft) is 4 years old, an eternity for, say, console games.

That was when I realized just how deeply laptops and smartphones are cutting into demand. It appears that the advantages desktops provide-- cheaper parts, more power, upgradability-- just aren't what people are looking for (or in the case of power, laptops are fast catching up). People don't need or want the savings of integrating their computing needs into one powerful device if it cuts into their portability, so they'd buy a laptop for their work and writing, a phone for their basic internet use, and a console for games, even if that means a huge rise in expenditures. Of course, if you're not a gamer or video editor, there's no need for a powerful computer, in which case desktops have only their slowly decreasing cost savings to offer you.

I'm interested to hear that people are increasingly using their smartphones more than their laptops, though. We can already see the end of the road for the desktop computer: when laptop prices and power become comparable and consoles suck all the air out of the video game market. What effect will smartphones ultimately have on laptops, though? Will laptops keep getting smaller and smartphones bigger until the two merge? Will the transfer of information and your personal files/programs between the two become so seamless that you can drop your iPhone and sit down with your MacBook (or vice versa) picking up right where you left off without any active plugging in or file transferring on your part, as if your entire digital collection and all your actions exist in virtual space, and the two pieces of hardware are merely portals to it? Would people stop buying laptops if, say, Apple develops a little cloth foldout keyboard that you can use wirelessly with your iPhone?

home of anti-war congressmen and racist baseball teams

Going to Cleveland this weekend to see an interview and Q & A with Dennis Kucinich at the Ohio Theater. "But el ranchero," I'm sure you're asking, "I don't get it. Even if you were a huge fan of DK, which you really aren't, you don't live in his district. And why is the interview in a theater?" Well, when the interviewer is Eddie friggin' Izzard, you have an event on your hands!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Guest post: Closing arguments.

Obama's got a good sense of timing. He (along with David Axlerod) knows when to go positive, when to go negative, when to ignore stuff, and when to push back.

He's also got enough money and and a disciplined enough campaign to do all three simultaneously, while only shifting the elements of his campaign that he so chooses into the national spotlight at any given moment.

Obama's closing speech was good, but at this point in the campaign, I think it's worth revisiting this speech:



I hope that on inauguration day we get another taste of that one.

voted

Guess who for?

The line, by the way, was almost out the door at the County-City building in downtown South Bend at 2pm on a Saturday. The woman at the desk said it had been that way the day before as well.

Texas at Texas Tech

Don't look now, but for perhaps the first time ever, the Longhorns are coming to Lubbock as a top 10 team only to face another top 10 team. The national championship is still out of reach for the Red Raiders, as they just don't have the talent, but there is an outside chance they could land a BCS bid for the first time in school history. The problem is that the Big 12 is particularly strong this year, including the stoutest Texas team since Vince Young was at the helm, and a second team ahead of Tech in the rankings (Oklahoma), with Oklahoma State nipping at the Red Raiders' heels.

And Tech faces all 3 in the next 3 weeks.

Tech can still land a bowl game if Texas goes to the National Championship (or, alternatively, if Texas loses and Oklahoma goes to the dance, but who wants to see the Sooners get another chance to embarrass the Big 12 in January?), but it becomes far less likely if Tech becomes the 3rd Big 12 team in the polls. It's highly unlikely that Tech is going to survive the next 3 weeks without taking at least one loss, and two losses this late in the season will end their BCS hopes. It's more than a little ominous to consider that Tech ended Oklahoma's title hopes at the end of last season, and the team at the end of Tech's gauntlet? Oklahoma, of course. In Norman. Payback would, indeed, be a b**ch.

It goes without saying, then, that Tech has to knock out Oklahoma St. (something they haven't done in several years), and then they have to split the difference with Texas and Oklahoma in a squeaker to minimize the decline in the polls. I'm not sure USC or Georgia could pull off such a feat, but here we are, demanding it of the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Let's face it, kids, upsetting a serious contender is the price of admission to the BCS (if you're not Kansas, anyway). Tech has to prove it can play with the big dogs, and until then, the Holiday Bowl or Cotton Bowl is the ceiling.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Guest Post: I voted Yesterday!

Early Voting in Texas baby!

This is the second time this cycle I've cast a ballot for Barak Obama, and I really hoped to get a cell-phone picture of the event, but alas Texas state law forbids that sort of thing and I needed my vote to count for the sake of the down-ballot people I'm supporting.

I didn't have to wait in line at all, but the registration lady said that they had a brisk Saturday morning with lines all the way out the door. All of the early voting states are setting records this cycle, and Texas is no exception.

There's kind of an interesting post-vote phenomenon going on around the Dallas area at least right now. I mentioned that I had voted (without mentioning who I voted for) to a couple of friends and even a couple of semi-strangers while at the Stars game. Almost by nature of the fact that I both had voted early and was proud of that fact, my audiences knew who I voted for. Now, this is probably predicated by the fact that the people I talked to had already voted themselves combined with the fact that my sample size was pretty small, but it was pretty refreshing nonetheless.

Texas won't swing to Obama. Noriega probably won't beat Cornyn (I've met both, and that's a flat out shame) but we may oust some more republicans from the state seats and from the other regins of power. People that voted Obama are proud of it. People voting McCain are really holding their noses right now.

Friday, October 24, 2008

trumpin' up stories the Aggie way

Only an Aggie. From Pittsburgh Channel 4 News:
PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh police are still questioning a 20-year-old woman who said she was robbed and assaulted at an ATM in Bloomfield because of her political views.

Ashley Todd, of College Station, Texas, said she was using an ATM at Liberty Avenue and Pearl Street just before 9 p.m. Wednesday when a man approached her and put a knife to her throat.

Police spokeswoman Diane Richard said the robber took $60 from Todd, then became angry when he saw a McCain bumper sticker on the victim's car. The attacker then punched and kicked the victim, before using a dull knife to scratch the letter "B" into her face, Richard said.

"She further stated that the male actor approached her from the back again and hit her in the back of her head with an object, she doesn't know what the object was, causing her to fall to the ground where he continued to punch her and kick her and threaten to 'teach her a lesson' for being a McCain supporter," Richard said.

To clarify: College Station is where Texas A&M is.

What did the man look like? You guessed it: a big, black guy. Imagine that!

I try not to dig into these stories, because in my experience bloggers end up way off the reservation when they try to go all "citizen journalist" on these stories, and end up making asses of themselves. "This smells fishy!" the blogger/gumshoe proclaims, generally reacting to their own cognitive dissonance, not to any actual inconsistencies in the story.

Judging from the rest of this particular story, however, it appears that the investigation has indeed hit a couple of glitches. She refused medical treatment despite claiming to have beaten, and now she's also added sexual assault to the charges. She's changed her story in a couple of different ways, first claiming she had a bumper sticker that set the guy off, then saying it was a campaign button. First she was conscious through the whole thing, but now she lost consciousness at one point.

All of these inconsistencies, however, I would normally shrug off. When people get rattled like this, their memory does funny things, and I don't know nearly enough about this story to be able to speculate on whether these gaps are plausible or whatever. Then I saw her picture. If you go to the link, you can see a video of the story, including a picture of this "B" that the big, nefarious black man carved into her face.

It's backwards. As in "obviously looked in a mirror and scratched a 'B' into her own cheek" backwards.

As of 2pm, she has officially admitted that she made up the whole thing.

Texas A&M: it's like the Harvard of the Southwest Texas Southeast Texas the Greater Bryan-College Station metropolitan area!

KY-Sen: the thief suing the victim

From the Louisville Courier-Journal:
GILBERTSVILLE, Ky. — A bizarre sequence of events after a debate in the U.S. Senate race led Republicans to file a criminal complaint today against Democrat Bruce Lunsford for snapping up a GOP staffer’s digital recording device as he left the podium.

According to Republicans, the contents of the device — hours of recordings — had been deleted before it was returned.
...
Bergmann said the recorder had been left on Lunsford’s podium before the debate.
He said the Lunsford campaign suspects the Republicans were trying to record things that Lunsford said under his breath during the debate.

So to recap, the Republican candidate has a staffer slip a tape recorder under a notebook on the Democrat's podium to catch what he says under his breath. The Democrat finds the tape recorder, takes it, and erases what it recorded. The Republican, instead of apologizing or denying it, accuses the Democrat of stealing his tape recorder!

That Republican, by the way: Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader. These guys are class acts, eh?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

milestones

From Ben Smith:
Here's an early voting story from a medical student in Evansville, Ind.:
I squeaked in just before the 7pm deadline to find two very frustrated poll workers and a line of a couple dozen people, due to problems with the computerized voting system not accepting people's driver's licenses. It was taking about 7-10 minutes per person just to get the computer to accept them as valid and to print out their ballot, causing very long delays.

For me the most moving moment came when the family in front of me, comprising probably 4 generations of voters (including an 18 year old girl voting for her first time and a 90-something hunched-over grandmother), got their turn to vote. When the old woman left the voting booth she made it about halfway to the door before collapsing in a nearby chair, where she began weeping uncontrollably. When we rushed over to help we realized that she wasn't in trouble at all but she had not truly believed, until she left the booth, that she would ever live long enough to cast a vote for an African-American for president.

McCain commercials, as shot by 3 famous directors

Hysterical and totally nonpartisan, so your McCain supporting friends/family can enjoy these, too:

I'm starting to believe

Marc Ambinder at the Atlantic lays out the McCain campaign's argument for how they're gonna win:
The Republican Party has built a presidential election machine that is tested and proven, the argument begins. Its voter database, Voter Vault, has 150 million potential Republican voters listed, each with dozens of psychographic datums appended.

The Party knows how to turn out Republican voters in red states. The Democratic Party has no record of turning out sporadic Democratic voters in presidential years in red states. It is not reasonable to assume, therefore, that Democrats can really turn out the voters they say they will, while Republicans have a record of turning out habitual Republican voters. How can Democrats build good and accurate voter lists in these red states?

Take Indiana: Gov. Mitch Daniels leads his Democratic opponent, Jill Long Thompson, by a healthy margin. Can you imagine Mitch Daniels voters choosing Obama?

Obama's in trouble in Pennsylvania. Why else is Ed Rendell begging Obama to return there?

In 2006, the Republican base was depressed after "Macaca" and Jim Webb still only barely managed a victory there.

The GOP will spend $70 million on GOTV in the next 13 days.

Obama isn't breaking 50% in Ohio and Florida. It's hard to imagine a big shift to him in the final ten days, when the mind is concentrated, when imponderables come into play.

Colorado is tough... but Pennsylvania is doable.

Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana and Missouri will all revert to partisan form. Already, McCain's campaign has factored in census + 1 turnout for African Americans, and there are plausible scenarios under which McCain wins.

Several polls -- including McCain's internal polls -- show that some white male voters who broke away from McCain [ed note: but did not support Obama] are coming back to McCain's fold.

Oh, and all this talk of Barack Obama leading in the early vote? So did John Kerry.

Wow, this is weak. The McCain campaign just knows that Pennsylvania is doable, that Daniels voters won't vote for Obama, that states enduring huge demographic shifts will continue to vote exactly as they had before, that late deciders can't possibly vote for Obama. And if those obviously true conclusions prove not to be such, there's always the Republican supercomputers, which have a supersecret file containing roughly 30 million more Republican voters than the total number of people that voted for either president candidate in 2004. And they can read minds, too!

By the way, the last argument, the one about John Kerry winning the early vote? Demonstrably false: Bush won the early voters 60-40.

Does this feel like b.s. spun to keep from admitting they're screwed to anyone else?

Obama at his best

Richmond, VA, on "pro-America parts of the country" and "real Virginia:"

in Oregon, a s**ty October Suprise

Wow. From Matt Stoller at OpenLeft, on Republican Senator Gordon Smith:
I just got a Sierra Club press release with some very gross information about Gordon Smith's company, Smith Frozen Foods. Apparently, Smith Frozen Foods started storing partially treated sewage from the town of Weston into his company's wastewater pond in the 1980s, when Smith was directly controlling the company. That's fine, it's what companies do when they have lots of land and the ability to handle partially treated sewage. Here's what's not fine.
This water is then used to irrigate cropland, in violation of Department of Environmental Quality regulations. A mutual agreement between Smith and the [Department of Environmental Quality] indicates that this irrigation likely violated state regulations... On more than one occasion, Smith Frozen Foods, the company owned by Gordon Smith, has violated Oregon's laws against having coliform bacteria in their drinking water. The presence of coliform bacteria may indicate environmental contamination, fecal contamination or E. coli bacteria.

Ladies and gentlemen, a true e. coli conservative!

If true, this is quite the coup that the Sierra Club has just pulled. Smith had already fallen slightly behind Democratic challenger Jeff Merkley, but what do you think his chances are now?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

World of Pridecraft

Apparently, over the course of the last few years, one of the realms in World of Warcraft has become something of a safe haven for LGBT players. Here is an interview on the subject.

the New Dominion

arch pollster Larry Sabato thinks VA is likely to go for Obama this year. That's probably true, but his insistence that it will be closer than the polls is, in my mind, mere denial of the new reality. Virginia has been the primary beneficiary of a massive influx of young, upwardly mobile and socially liberal professionals to the DC area, causing a major demographic shift over the last 10 years. It's had 2 good Democratic governors and 1 really shitty Republican one since 2000. The best of those Democrats, Mark Warner, is running against that bad Republican for Senate and is cleaning his clock by over 20 points. VA has had a flood of new voter registrants, and they are overwhelmingly Democrats. Democrats have been gaining ground at every level of government there, including, again, 2 straight Democratic governors, a Senate seat in '06 (against a very popular incumbent and former governor, no less), and now the second Senate seat. These fact-free assertions about "people who know Virginia" aside, there is no evidence-based reason to suspect that polling in VA is off across the board.

Which is really, really bad news for McCain:


The better news for McCain: Jonathan Martin asserts in this same article that "there is no feasible path to the White House for McCain without Virginia." Also not true: John McCain could very possibly sweep the battleground states of NC, MT, ND (I can't believe I just listed those), CO, NV, WV, MO, FL, and OH, but lose lost causes NM, IA, and VA, and pick off New Hampshire. In such a scenario, McCain would squeeze into the Oval Office with 273 EVs. In fact, he could lose North Dakota and get exactly 270.

This is why I keep telling people that VA is not one of McCain's make-or-break states. It's a nice feather in our hat, but he can win without it. There are several others, however, that McCain cannot live without, such as perennial battlegrounds Ohio and Florida, as well as North Carolina (because Obama can't win NC without also taking VA). If McCain fails to sweep all three, you can pop the champagne, wait for the concession call, and start tracking the Senate races instead. There is no hope.