Monday, June 30, 2008

Defending Obama

Ok, I’ll admit that I’m not entirely pleased with some of the Obama decisions lately. The FISA thing upsets me, though I’ve thought that was such a lost cause from the start that I generally ignore any story on the subject and have no expectations that it'd ever work out well. As I learned from The President's Analyst, there are few groups more powerful than the phone company. And the latest decision I would have handled differently was the issue with Wesley Clark trying to derail the absurd idea that McCain’s military experience somehow prepared him for the presidency.

Had I been Obama's strategist, I would have tried to distance him from the idea of what the media believed Clark was saying, while reinforcing what Clark was actually saying, but without acting like I was defending it or leaving Clark out to dry. And in fact, he should have emphasized that McCain wouldn’t dare suggest that his military experience somehow makes him automatically preferable, and that we didn’t even need to denounce that idea because it was so silly. Something like that, so that you remove McCain’s biggest crutch, while also looking like a good guy. But that's how it's done. Rather than attacking a position head-on, you make the position look ludicrous and give your opponent the benefit of the doubt that he agrees with you.

Thus said, there’s a much easier thing they could have done: Just make it go away. At least, to go away as a problem for Obama. And what’s the best way to do that? To say you disagree with the person who made the statement being attacked by the media and to say that as soon as possible. And this helps remove Obama from the issue completely. Now as I said, that’s not how I would have done it, particularly not when the surrogate is Wesley Clark, the guy who really was supposed to be our next Vice President. Or at a minimum, our next Secretary of Defense. But I understand the logic of wanting it to disappear as an issue.

The Losing Sell-Out

And why is this such a big issue? Because liberals are worried that Obama’s about to throw them under the bus now that he's got the nomination. And to be honest, I can’t promise that he won’t. I believe he won’t, but there are no true guarantees in this world. Everything is trust, particularly when you’re dealing with someone you’ve never met. And that'll be true with every politician you ever support. And every time they make a decision you disagree with, you'll get another worry that you've been betrayed. That's the only promise I can make: You won't always agree with anyone.

And so perhaps he’s selling us out. Perhaps he really was a closet centrist this whole time. But that’s part of the weird thing about all this, is that the people who think he’s selling out also believe that they’ve got the winning platform, which means always going strong on every issue. They're not just wanting him to stay pure to the cause; they believe this is the easy road to victory. But if they’ve got the winning platform, and Obama is “selling out” because he wants to win, how do we rectify these two positions? Shouldn’t a “sell-out” actually support the liberal position, whether they believed in it or not?

And that’s actually a big reason why I don’t think Obama will sell us out, because I think he knows it’s the winning platform. He knows that America wants a liberal president and that we really are right. And that’s when you start to get into tea leaf reading territory, as you try to decipher what’s going on. Because the only real issue is whether these are isolated incidents, or whether it’s indicative of a complete switch away from liberals.

And while it's tempting to take a handful of events and read his motives from them, it really isn't that easy. Particularly with the accusation of centrism, which isn't just a method of wimping out of tough fights, but a completely different way of fighting politics. For Dem centrists, it means adopting a Republican-lite platform and insisting that anyone attacking them is a radical bully (think Lieberman's fight against the netroots). For Repub centrists, it means forcing Dems to look radical and insisting that their opponents are radical extremists. But both groups insist that they're in the center of the spectrum and can change positions in a heartbeat to prove it. Even Republicans can change their minds faster than you can blink, if they think they need to.

And that's not what Obama's doing here at all. He didn't win the Clark-McCain debate; he avoided it all together. A centrist would have leapt on the issue; not cut it loose. Centrists don't run from fights, they just have a different way of winning them. And if they win a long-term victory, it's sheer luck.

Managing Risks

And so I don't think this is centrism at all. I think this really comes down to basic risk management. Because let’s face it, he’s not president now and a lot of the decisions he makes on the campaign trail will have exactly zero impact once he becomes president. Let’s face it, when he’s up for re-election in 2012, who among us will mention his sell-out on the McCain-Clark duel of 2008? And for these non-historic decisions, he’s decided to take the easy path rather than fight an uphill battle that he hadn't prepared to fight.

And that’s part of the thing, for as much as his detractors are suggesting that he lost this issue, he didn’t. They’ve got an assumption that this was a no-brainer, and it wasn’t. Deciding to defend Clark wasn’t the end of the issue, but the very beginning. And it’d have been a long battle that could have seriously damaged Obama. The kind of thing we’d still be talking about and explaining in August or September or 2012; how Obama dragged McCain's military service through the mud and disrespected our veterans. And so he took a pass on this issue, rather than risk having it explode on him. Maybe it was a mistake, but believing that the fighter stance is the automatic winning position is sheer folly. That was the beginning of the fight, and every misstep could have screwed him royally.

And a big mistake people are making is trying to relive the past two elections, as if history always repeats itself. But those elections were different. In both those elections, the wind was to Bush’s back and it was up to the Democrat to come up with the big play to throw Bush off his stride and secure a lead. And they didn’t do it. Particularly in 2004, Bush had HUGE advantages, including a loving media, an illegal GOTV effort by various government agencies, random terrorist scares, and wars in two countries. Yet he barely beat back a long-winded “Massachusetts Liberal” who had few diehard fans.

But again, Bush had the advantages, and it was Kerry’s job to come up with the big plays to screw Bush up and to take big risks. But this isn’t that election. Now it’s Obama that has the big advantages and a bigger lead than Bush had, and it’s McCain who’s stuck needing to make the big plays and force the fumbles. And Obama just needs to hold on to the ball, while still gaining territory. But that’s not good enough for some liberals. They don’t want a safe Obama cruising to easy victory; they want Obama the Destroyer. And now that they've seen he's not that Obama, they’re upset.

And maybe rightly so. But I suspect this was a risk management issue, and that his campaign had to make a quick decision to not fight this battle, rather than risk fumbling the ball. But in no case does this necessarily mean that he’s decided to wimp out or turn centrist. This was just one decision and we’ve got plenty of time to hate him before November.

All About Obama

And it's weird to really think about what the folks attacking Obama are complaining about. Because they’re upset that he didn’t defend Clark’s statement. Because he didn’t issue a statement knocking back these attacks on Clark or send surrogates on to the news shows to push back against all this misinformation and explain what Clark really said. To justify Clark’s statement and show that the attacks against it were wrong.

And hello, notice a theme here? This is defense. It’s about Obama going on the line to defend what a surrogate said. And rather than hitting McCain, it would be all about Obama, Clark, and a supposed attack on military service. And sure, there was no attack on military service, but that requires explanation. And knowing the media idiots in question, we’re talking endless explanation. And not just on one show, but LOTS of shows. And for what? To get some of them to admit they were wrong? To start a "He Said, She Said" debate, with one Obama surrogate battling two McCain surrogates and host Wolf Blitzer siding with McCain? Isn't that really what we are talking about?

Is this fair? No, this is our media. And Obama wasn't going to be able to get that changed in time to win this issue. Obama himself could have spoken with every single political pundit, and even if he had convinced every one of them, what difference would it have made. None. He would have spent a HUGE amount of energy, simply to state the obvious: McCain’s military service several decades ago doesn’t qualify him to be president. And the people who would have listened to Obama already know that it’s true.

So what’s the point? As far as I can understand, the point is just to fight. That Obama needs to fight so he can keep on fighting, and whatever fight Republicans challenge him to, he needs to accept and fight or he loses. And while I definitely want a fighter, I don't think Marty McFly's fear of the “chicken” label is very good strategy. Eventually, you’ll be challenged to a fight that you really can’t win, and then you’re just screwed.

Some fights just aren’t worth fighting, and it appears Obama decided that this was one of those fights. The big secret to always winning is knowing when to fight.

Waning Media Influence

And there’s a bigger point to all this: People will continue to talk about this, whether or not Obama mentions it. The only difference is that they won’t mention Obama. They’ll talk about what Clark said, but it won’t be about Obama at all, because he immediately rejected it. But that won’t make it go away. That won’t convince people that McCain’s experience somehow makes him better qualified to be president. Anyone who’s dumb enough to think that is probably beyond Obama’s reach.

Believe it or not, but people aren’t stupid and don’t believe something just because the media says it. Sure, many were fooled about WMD’s, but that’s because they didn’t have personal knowledge or logic to defeat such talk. But Clinton remained popular for many years, despite media attacks and impeachment demands. It took a few years for the media to even begin to acknowledge that Bush was unpopular and even still they rarely acknowledge it. And people won’t ever accept the “Iraq 4 Evah” policy, no matter how much the media insists that it’s the only serious position we can have. The truth is that the media just isn’t that influential, and it gets less so every day.

And so it’s not enough that the media believes McCain’s service makes him immune from national security attacks; people will still believe what they want to believe. And in this case, the absurdity of the idea is self-evident. Obama doesn’t need to say it. But what was necessary was for people to talk about it. Even if they’re trying to justify the idea that McCain is immune, if they try to explain it, they’ll just end up tripping on their own absurdity. This issue was really only a winner for McCain if folks didn't talk too much about it, as the whole thing is entirely silly.

And so it’s not necessary for Obama to talk about it, just as long as other people are talking about it. And we’ve seen the same dynamic with McCain: He’ll never suggest that Obama is a Muslim, but people will say that he is one all the same. Some things don’t need to be said, especially not when you’ve got supporters saying it for you. That’s not to suggest that I think this was a plan by Obama, but I don’t see how it was the instant loss many liberals think it was.

Strategic Withdrawal

And look, you can’t always play offense on every issue. Even if you’re right, sometimes a victory isn’t worth the price. Anyone who’s debated a conservative knows exactly what I’m talking about. And for as much as Republicans insist on always playing offense and attacking without mercy, that’s a big part of their downfall. Sometimes you need to defend yourself. And sometimes you just can’t win and shouldn’t even try. A strategic retreat isn’t the same as a defeat.

And in this case, that’s what Obama opted for. And while it wasn’t the move I’d have made, it’s far from the sell-out catastrophe some people imagine it is. This isn’t Kerry in 2004 and the most likely outcome is that this will be forgotten about by next week. The only people who will hold this against Obama are his followers who expected him to kick Republican ass on every issue. But the only real casualty here are the people who have that wrong idea. I don’t want a president who vows to destroy Republicans every chance they get. While I expect accountability for what happened, I don’t expect vengeance.

We’re hiring Obama to operate our government; not to be the proxy to fight our battles. And if we still want to denounce McCain, we’re free to do so. I’m sure Obama wouldn’t mind at all. Just as long as he doesn't have to. And as for Clark, I’m not sure how this counts as being thrown under the bus, as if this one issue will destroy his career. But Wes Clark is a tough cookie. I think he’ll survive this.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Media Brought Me Donuts

That’s right, the media brought me donuts, just like they did with John McCain but not Barack Obama. Why? Because they love me, of course. And why did this never get reported? Because they love me even more than they do John McCain, that’s why. Because they didn’t want this media admiration to become widely known. Because they wanted to keep their Biobrain-bias a big secret. And why do they love me so much? Because my barbeque is better than McCain’s barbeque, it was that simple.

Well, technically speaking, it wasn’t barbeque. I served them thick juicy t-bones from Texas cattle, grilled up to perfection by my own hands. And I’m sorry, but there’s no way some Arizona yahoo could possibly serve anything finer than a Texan’s Texas t-bones. Plus, I served them Shiner’s Bohemian Black Lager, my favorite of all of Shiner’s excellent beers. And if the juicy steaks didn’t do it, the Shiner Black must have. That was totally guaranteed.

And it was that simple. I told a few off-color jokes (that I know they'll never tell anyone about), made it clear that I was cooler than them but not too much cooler, and then prepared that awesome meal of steaks and beer. That’s all it took and I didn't even need a baked potato or nothing; just steaks and beer. And I can assure you that the presidency is now mine. How do I know? It was the donuts. I didn’t get no pansy ass Dunkin Donuts shit with sprinkles. Oh no, these were Long Johns, made at a real fucking bakery. Expensive ones. The kind that are so fatty and delicious that you can actually gain pounds just looking at them too long. And the standing ovation they gave me lasted two days. Two fucking days! They had to do it in shifts. It was magnificent.

I’m telling you, it was the steaks. That’s what won me the presidency. That's what works every time. Steaks, beer, and donuts. Democracy in action.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Rehabilitating the Justice System

Regarding the application of the death penalty for "heinous crimes," I really don't care.  Because I find the entire issue to be too upsetting to even think about.  On the one hand, I'm not really against the death penalty and I don't see why it's such a big deal.  In many cases, giving someone death might be better than life in prison.  I can't say I've ever been in prison (because I haven't), but it really doesn't seem like a great place to spend the rest of your life; especially not if you're there as a cop killer or child rapist.  I understand that there are many things far worse than death, and spending your whole life in an abusive prison setting could be one of them.  

Besides, what if there's reincarnation?  Seriously.  Death would actually be doing these guys a favor, and society might benefit by giving them a shot at a new life.  Wouldn't it be better for everyone to have a child rapist come back as an aardvark or a dolphin?  It's the ultimate in rehabilitation.  Seriously.

Or if the Christians are right, we'd be sending the bad guys to a worse punishment, while sending the wrongly convicted innocent ones to Heaven; which is certainly better than keeping them locked up for decades.  Frankly, I've always been confused as to why Christians don't seem to think of their afterlife in practical terms, and seem more focused on it as a philosophical issue; as if it was just a theoretical argument to use against atheists and to scare little kids, rather than a system that actually exists.  Why, it almost seems as if they don't really believe in their system of afterlife.  Again, I'm serious when I say this.  I might not believe in gods, afterlifes, or reincarnation, but I'll never say they can't be real.

Broken Justice

But on the other hand, our judicial system is largely broken.  That's not to say that it usually makes mistakes, as I don't believe it does.  But it's quite obvious that it makes mistakes far, far too often to be meting out the harsh punishments that it does.  And for me, that's where the whole argument needs to be.  I'm not even going to focus on the death penalty when we've got a far bigger issue at hand.  Because again, there are worse things than death and we're still sending lots and lots of innocent people into it.  

And the big problem is that our entire law enforcement and judicial system seems more concerned with catching a bad guy, rather than the bad guy.  At the end of the day, all they really care about is that someone got locked-up, ignoring the fact that they not only screwed over somebody but that they also let a guilty person stay free to commit even more crimes.  And this is a far greater crime than the one they're punishing people for.  

Even after some of these people are proven innocent, the enforcers involved still think the guy is guilty and don't want to let them out; as they just can't admit that they destroyed someone's life.  And at best, they give a big "oops," and don't truly understand what horrible criminals they are for destroying some innocent dude's life.  But more likely, they believe the finding of innocence is a miscarriage of justice and that they were somehow right all along.  

This is the same issue we have with Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, where conservatives need to hold onto the belief that these people are the ones responsible for 9/11 or killing our soldiers.  It's simply too painful to think otherwise and would force them to rethink their entire worldview.  It's much easier to imagine that they were right all along and ignore any evidence to the contrary.  And if that means the "bad guys" need to stay locked-up forever without the benefit of a trial, then so be it.  They'd rather destroy someone's life than their own warped view of reality.

And we have the same issue right here in our own country, against our own citizens.  And so they're putting the screws to some innocent guy, hiding evidence, inventing evidence, lying, taking advantage of the defendant's inability to afford a better defense, and using all the stagecraft of the angry prosecutor; all so that they can get the conviction that they convinced themselves the guy deserves.  And all the while, the actual guilty person might still be out robbing, raping, murdering; and they dare to call this justice.

Redemption

And so that's where the real problem is.  The punishment phase is the least of our worries.  And sure, the death penalty is so absolute that it denies us the ability to exonerate an innocent man later on, but it also gives us more motivation to prove the guy innocent.  So while the innocent man on death row is more likely to have some public group trying to prove his innocence, another innocent man is getting raped in his cell, or threatened and beaten by prisoners and guards, or denied the ability to see his kids grow up.  Kids who can only seem him behind a glass wall, looking like a felon.  Kids who eventually learn that their father is in prison for rape and always wondering if it's true.  And for the rest of his life, society will treat him as a guilty man and destroy him, always assuming it was true; and all based upon the actions of law enforcers who wanted to see someone punished.

And so I'm really not that concerned with the death penalty issue.  I'd have no problem with using it, even for "heinous crimes," just as long as our system worked far better than it does.  But as long as the strength of our defense is based upon our ability to pay for it, and as long as our judicial system is satisfied to find anyone guilty of the crime, whether or not they're actually guilty; then the whole system is corrupt.  

I'd find it acceptable that child rapists were put to death, just as long as I felt confident the person was guilty.  For me, the purpose of prison is rehabilitation, not punishment.  And if a child rapist or murderer is beyond redemption, which I believe some people are, I don't really have a problem with having them destroyed.  Pedophiles are generally considered to be incurable and I agree with that assessment, as there is truly something wrong with the people who do this sort of thing.  The real issue, however, is in ensuring that he truly is guilty and incurable.  After that, I have no problem with what society chooses to do with him.

What I Learned From Rush Limbaugh

Media Matters just posted one of those Limbaugh ramblings that I typically try to avoid, but gee, it really was quite educational. He was answering a caller’s question about why Democrats actively pursue the gay and black vote, while Republicans ignore the much larger conservative vote. And his answer really was quite helpful. Right off the bat I now know that gays and blacks are a voter bloc. But that wasn't all. Far from it.

What I learned:

A lot of money is coming from Democratic kooks, and not just the blacks.

Saying that someone will “bend over, grab the ankles, and say, ‘Have your way with me,’” is an innocent figure of speech which does not require delicacy.

Republicans say “To hell with you, you wacko nuts” to their base.

George Soros is running the whole kook-fringe base.

The traditional conservative base is not just the so-called evangelical Christian Right or the pro-lifers or whatever.

Rich country club Rockefeller types in the Northeastern Corridor are embarrassed of pro-lifers in the South, which is why they’re abandoning conservatives.

Democrats will grovel to make sure blacks and gays support the party.

The politically active gay community on the left is worth a lot of money and sends the Democrats more money than you can possibly imagine.

Pro-lifers donate a lot of money to the Republicans, but it still embarrasses them.

Democrats are never embarrassed about anything.

Democrats have never set any standards for themselves.

Democrats think that everybody’s a victim, even other Democrats.

Democratic victims are fighting for their rights, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Democrats think the conservative right is trying to deny people rights, blah, blah, blah, you see.

The left-wing base is not even talked about by Mickey Edwards.

The anti-war kook fringe is huge.

Many 527 groups are raising money left and right so Democrats will cater to them left and right.

Democrats are scared to death if 527 groups take their money and go away or go to a third party or what have you.


And finally, the overall lesson from Limbaugh is:

It’s bad that the Democratic Party caters to people who support them.

It’s bad that the Republican Party doesn't cater to people who support them.

If a political party does what its base wants, it's pandering for votes and money. Other than that, the parties don't care about what people want and they can only behave selfishly.


But of course, all these lessons really left my head swimming. I mean, don't Republicans WANT money in politics? Is it possible to have a “huge” fringe group? And who the hell is Mickey Edwards? I guess I’m going to have to start tuning in to learn the answers to these questions and more. And hell, I’m just hoping he can clue me into how I can get some of that sweet-ass Soros money. I’ve been blogging for over three years now, and I haven’t seen check one from Boss George. Not one.

If he doesn't watch it, I'll take my blog and go away or go to a third party or what have you. And if the Democrats bend over, grab their ankles, and tell me to sodomize them, I might not do it. You heard me. I might turn down their request for anal sex. That's how serious I am about this. Thanks, Rush. I now realize I'm part of a huge fringe and that my party listens to what I have to say, unlike his, which is embarrassed by his listeners.

As a sidenote, do you think there's any possibility that Rush actually listens to his shows, or do you think that's what the Oxycon is for? To bury the shame.

The Poisoned Presidency

There has GOT to be something wrong with the waterpipes in the Whitehouse. Or perhaps there's black mold or some sort of toxic germs hiding in the walls or airducts. Or something. I mean, Reagan got Alzheimer's. George Sr became clueless and out of the loop after just four years (and eight waiting in the wings). Bill certainly had some significant lapses in judgment towards the end of his presidency and afterwards, and now this:



Sure, this isn't even close to being the biggest embarrassment of Bush's presidency, but jesus this stuff happens too often. And it's not just that he mentioned his Philippine cook like that, or the awkward way he said it, which really made it sound like this was the absolutely best thing he could say about any Filipino. At least the Philippine president thought it was funny. The last thing we need is for another country to hate us due to Bush's stupidity.

But it wasn't just the mildly racist back-handed compliment. It was really the whole package, including the awkward and slow way he said the entire thing. As if he had said it earlier and it had gone over so well that he made the mistake of trying it again, but immediately realized he was having trouble finding the exact words so that it wouldn't sound as bad as he was afraid it might sound. And so he kept meandering his way through it, knowing that he'd only find out afterwards if he had been offensive.

And perhaps the worst is how he still, after eight years as president, looks like the little boy who doesn't want to be there, wearing that stuffy suit. Like he can't wait for everyone to leave so he can get back to playing Halo 3, or whatever it is he does with his free time.

Household Products That Can Kill You

And sure, being president must be taxing; even if you're a boob who lets your VP do all the hard work. But perhaps there's more to it than that. People used to think arsenic was a medicine and put radium in toothpaste, and thought they were being really clever. And is it possible we've discovered all the dangerous chemicals that exist? I think not. Who's to say that there isn't some sort of nasty-ass shit poisoning our presidents that's been a part of the Whitehouse for a long time?
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Think about it, what president left the Whitehouse as sharp as he was when he got in? None that I know of. Carter, Ford, Nixon, LBJ, which of these men didn't leave office broken and confused? Hell, Ike lived nine years after he left office, yet the only things Wikipedia said he did after he left office was buy a house at Gettysburg, speak at the 1964 Republican National Convention, and do a political ad with Barry Goldwater. So I ask you, do these sound like the actions of a normal person? I think not.

And sure, maybe it's the great burden of the office. Maybe the weight of the world is just too much to put on one man's shoulders. Maybe it will crush even the strongest of presidents and turn our Doofus-in-Chief into complete putty. But maybe, just maybe, it's something in the air ducts or the waterpipes. And isn't that the best defense of Bush yet?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

McCain's Millions and the Big Science Lotto

Hey folks, guess what! I’m rich!! Filthy sticking rich!! No, I don’t actually have the money quite yet, but it’s as good as mine. And who do I have to thank for this? None other than John "POW" McCain and the Good Ol’ American Spirit! That’s who.

And how did this come about? Because John McCain has come up with an ingenious scheme to finally give people a reason to develop a better battery in order to solve our energy crisis. While researchers have previously only focused on such practical research like extracting vanilla flavor from cow dung and discovering the side effects of sword swallowing, more abstract science like electric cars has really fallen by the wayside. But that’s all going to change now that McCain's offering $300 million for the lucky devil who figures out how to do it.

And who’s it going to be? Who else: Doctor “Super Battery” Biobrain, that’s who. This thing’s got my name written all over it. Sure, I don’t actually know much about batteries, but I know what I like. Like the difference between AA and AAA batteries. And that 9-volts aren’t round. And that you never seem to have enough C batteries, no matter how many you buy. Outside of that, I’m a bit lost. But now with $300 million on the line? I’m all over this shit like rats on cheese.

My Experiments

Of course, the wheel wasn’t invented in a day and my research since yesterday hasn’t been nearly as easy as I assumed it would be. My first thought was to just crazy glue fifteen D-sized batteries together and send it in to collect my prize, but I ended up getting my fingers stuck in the middle and kept getting a nasty shock every time I used it. And while some people might find that fun, that's probably not what McCain had in mind.

But that's alright, because when I was changing the bandages on my fingers, it made me realize that a big part of the problem with battery efficiency was with those hard metal casings they put them in. So what could be better than just removing the outside and then sticking them all together with crazy glue? Right, right? But unfortunately, every time I tried stripping them off, battery acid went flying everywhere and I once again found myself waking up in the emergency room. Not cool.

And that’s when I had a really big breakthrough based upon something the doctor said with a laugh, and so I immediately went home and started stuffing AAA batteries into my car battery; I could smell the money already. But it turned out that was really the smell of whatever it was coming out of the car battery and then the thing kind of exploded. It was about then that I understood why the doctor was laughing and made sure to have them take me to a different hospital this time. See, that's what science is all about: Learning from our mistakes.

And I've got to admit, this was all pretty depressing. The contest was announced yesterday, yet all I have to show for my effort is a huge medical bill and a full $35 wasted in expenses, not including the new car battery I’ll buy with my prize money. But as we all know, Americans are famous for not knowing the meaning of the word futility, so I’m not giving up yet. In fact, I finally went ahead and did a little research online and think I’ve got it. It turns out you can actually make a battery out of a potato, a penny, and some aluminum foil. It’s true. So guess what: I just bought a big ol’ bag of Idaho potatoes, a bunch of pennies, and two rolls of aluminum foil. And the best part about it is that, if your car breaks down, you’ve already got food and money to help save the day. Genius!

The Money Solution

So it looks like this is the kind of outside-the-box thinking we'll get from a President McCain. While Bush had no solution whatsoever to fix our energy problem, here McCain comes along with this utterly brilliant solution and he’s not even in office yet! All we had to do was promise to throw some money at whoever has fixed the problem and it’s as good as taken care of. Problem solved!

And best of all, no government intervention or Liberal Tax & Spend policies were involved to screw everything up. Just a lot of good old fashioned know-how and a huge, huge prize that will finally give someone the incentive to work on the problem. I’m just hoping that McCain decides to take this approach to ALL of our problems. Budget deficits, the war in Iraq, traffic, zits; we can cure ALL these woes by just offering a big enough reward. Why bother doing anything if you can just give a prize to someone else who has already done it?

Hell, I might just try that myself, and start offering rewards to anyone who can write good blogposts for me. Sure, I don’t make any money at this, which would make this a pretty expensive endeavor, but maybe I can offer someone a reward to explain how to make this deal profitable for me. It’ll work. It’s GOT to work. It’s all I’ve got.


P.S. If anyone wants to take any of these experiments and try to make them work, feel free to go for it. But remember, these blogposts are dated, so don't even think about ripping me off and I will NOT pay your medical expenses. You're on your own there, pal.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Conservative Nutjobs: Why They're Totally Right About Everything

Conservatives really don't give a shit what they say. They've got a point to make and the specific words really don't matter to them. That's how they rationalize all their nonsense attacks against us. They don't really, truly believe we're traitors who hate America. They're just trying to stress the point that our policies aren't the best and are merely speaking emphatically...or, at least I hope that's the case.

That's also why my resident neo-con stalker Donald Douglas feels that it's acceptable to describe me as a "nihilist". He doesn't actually think that all of the connotations of that word apply to me. It's just that he really likes the word and has found some definition that makes it slightly appropriate, assuming you twisted all of my objective realism into nonsense and gobbledygook. While he used the definition "denial of all real existence or the possibility of an objective basis for truth" in his defense of using that term endlessly, the word more typically refers to anarchist-types who think life is pointless and that it's ok to destroy things. And while neither definition accurately describes me, the second is far more absurd.

Yet, the reason he likes the word is because of all the negative connotations of it, none of which he really means. Sure, there are more accurate words he can use to smear me as a subjective post-modernist (such as, Subjective Post-Modernist), but he prefers nihilist because it sounds worse; even if it misstates his true meaning. He also likes to use names like "Dr. Bionihilistwordsmithian" and "Dr. Biomcnastywordsmithiannihilist." And no, I don't really know what that's all about either, though I did once order a McNasty Sandwich and seriously regretted it afterwards.

Selling Books

And so it's no big surprise to see that the author of A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can't Win doesn't really believe that Obama can't win and now regrets the title. In fact, he believes that Obama "can definitely win." But the reason he regrets it isn't because it's an incorrect title, but merely because he's now being asked to explain it and can't.

He said that it was an "afterthought," but let me tell you, I clearly put more thought into the titles of my blogposts and I try to knock out at least one of these a day. The idea that some dude would go through all the effort to write a book and get it published, just to have a stupid title that completely misstates his opinion is entirely inexcusable. And let's face it, the title he picked is much sexier to conservatives than "Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can Definitely Win." That's what this was all about.

And of course, I think this is the same trouble Jonah Goldberg got in with his Liberal Fascism book. He came up with a snappy title that his publisher liked, and was then stuck actually having to figure out how to write the damn thing. The fact that he came out with such a lame argument wasn't necessarily reflective of his intellectual integrity or lack thereof, but merely that his publisher liked the title even if he couldn't support it.

And the real problem here is that conservative publishers don't want well thought-out books with interesting new conclusions. They want red meat to throw to the base and want all the same conclusions that William F. Buckley & Co. settled on many decades ago. And so Goldberg was stuck arguing that his book didn't say what we all knew it said and that the title didn't mean what we all knew it meant, because his publishers didn't want the book he wanted to write. They wanted red meat that attacked liberals using a smear that more accurately describes conservatives.

Similarly, this Obama book would certainly not have fit that definition if the titled admitted that the guy thought Obama could win. These publishers know they've got a winning recipe and don't want anyone rocking the boat with new ideas. If it was good enough for Richard Nixon, by god, it's good enough for us.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Power to the People

Despite their jerky attitude towards bloggers quoting their words, I'm going to quote thirty-seven words from the AP about how screwed-up everything is, but I do so only because I have a good point to make and not because I forgive them for their jerky ways:

The can-do, bootstrap approach embedded in the American psyche is under assault. Eroding it is a dour powerlessness that is chipping away at the country's sturdy conviction that destiny can be commanded with sheer courage and perseverance.

And there's one big explanation for why this happened: George Bush, Dick Cheney, and the rest of the Republican assholes. And the reason why is because Republicans have had this horrible, disgusting attitude for many decades that says that they can keep pushing, and pushing, and pushing to get whatever they want, and if you can't get something by pushing, then you just weren't pushing hard enough. The world is their oyster, even if they have to put the shell on themselves.

People kept trying to tell them about repercussions and negative consequences and payback and all that, but they just wouldn't listen. And this wasn't important as long as they didn't control the Presidency, Congress, Supreme Court, and the media. Until 2001, this was all just empty rhetoric they could toss out and it didn't really mean anything. But once they had all the reins of power, nothing could stop them from taking full advantage of them; and that includes making sure that they kept those reins as long as possible. So it's no wonder people are upset.

Consolidation of Power

Because people need power. People need an outlet. They have to feel like they have some control over their lives. We shouldn't have the media telling us who to impeach, or the Supreme Court anointing our leaders, or endless corruption from the people in power. And we expect our dams to work and our bridges to stand, and all that other good stuff. And we need to feel that we're not slaves to our employers. And we want to control what chemicals enter our bodies and how clean our water is. We're not asking for control of the world. We just want some say regarding our little piece of it.

And that's what everyone wants, even the dittoheads who have been trained to believe that liberals are their enemy. It's all about control, which explains why dittoheads never really calm down, because they're focusing their demand for control at the wrong place and are attacking the people they need to join. While they're told that the problem is too much regulation and government intervention, the truth is that most of those regulations and intervention are being done on their behalf to empower them. And the people telling them to fight this government intervention are the very people stealing their power from them. And rather than allowing the government to protect individuals from powerful people, these people are convinced that they need to protect powerful people from the government. Our government. To them, the cure is the poison and vice versa.

And the point is that this is our fucking government. It belongs to us; not George Bush or Cheney's Friends, or David Broder, or any of the other power brokers who wouldn't even know how to act in our interests even if they had the inclination to do so. This is OUR government and these people work for us. And that's what the real problem here is. These people somehow fell under the delusion that they're our leaders and get to tell us what to do. But that's completely backwards.

We're the leaders. They follow our lead. And that means that we deserve a functioning government, and good schools and infrastructure, and all that other good stuff. Corporations shouldn't have more rights than citizens. Rich people shouldn't have louder voices than power people. And dammit, when we say we want out of a war, we mean it.

We the People

But it's not like this because the Constitution says it should be. Rather, the Constitution says this because democracy empowers people. It gives them control. It gives them an outlet. And when people feel that they have real control over their lives, they're happier and more likely to work harder to take care of their lives. While conservatives have always imagined this could only be achieved through "rugged individualism," they're wrong. Because in a democracy, the government IS our way of taking control of our lives. As long as it's handled properly, anyway. And that's exactly why the Founding Fathers gave us this government; because they knew that a government that isn't responsive to the people will fail.

And that's just not something Republicans understand. They didn't want to control the government to make America a better place. They want the government because it's powerful and they want power. That's all this was about. They didn't have the faintest clue as to how to make the government work better. They just wanted the power. And after they got it, they totally shot their wad and disgraced themselves for generations to come.

While Republicans got ahead by telling people that all they need are taxcuts to make life perfect, people still assumed they'd have their basic needs met. They believed Republicans would still take care of them, under the assumption that nobody would be foolish enough to cut taxes to the point that the government stops functioning during emergencies. This was the part of the equation that Republicans didn't really want to talk about, and we all know why: Because their vision of government is entirely dysfunctional.

And so people are angry about this. They might not know why they're angry, but it's because the Republican leaders consolidated all the power into their own hands; thus damaging one of America's best assets: Democracy. While Republicans believe that the best way to empower someone is to allow their children to starve, Democrats know that they just need a way out. While temporary fixes like welfare were allowed to substitute too long for truly effective policies, the real problem wasn't with the temporary solutions, but rather with Republicans, who didn't want us to solve the real problem.

They like that there are poor people. The middle-class gets in their way and the nouveau riche make it less fun to be old money. Money is power, and these people want it. And that's why third-world countries remain third-world, because the powerful refuse to loosen their grip on power. And while Republicans here would prefer America to not become a third-world country, that's exactly where their policies will lead. They want power, and find the consequences of that to be too inconvenient to bother thinking about.

Regaining Control

Republicans didn't invent floods or hurricanes or tornadoes. They didn't set-out to make the economy tank. They weren't planning to raise huge deficits that would forever destroy the myth of supply-side economics and expose their inability to cut spending. Rather, I'm sure they imagined that they could go about with their little schemes and everything would magically take care of itself. While they knew they'd be able to get lots of free perks, like houses, vacations, and cold hard cash out of the system; they didn't realize that all the other Republicans would be doing the same thing.

And now it's beginning to dawn on Republicans that perhaps there's no such thing as the free lunch. That perhaps there's a good reason why previous generations preferred diplomacy over war, and why compromise isn't such a horrible thing. Yes, their chickens have come home to roost and every lesson they thought they had the cure for has come back to bite them firmly in the ass. But things aren't nearly as hopeless as the article made it sound. Sure, it won't be easy, but the first step is to return the power to the people. And we're already starting to see that this year, with Obama's little people thrusting him straight into the Whitehouse.

He might not be giving Americans everything they want, but he'll give them everything they need: Power. And at this point, I suspect most people will be glad to get it. If Republicans had set out to prove that all the old rules of politics and democracy were correct, it'd be the only thing they got right in a long, long time.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Messiah McCain

One of the more effective smears against Obama was that his fervent supporters (myself included) were cult followers who treated Obama like the Next Jesus, and that he was all empty hype underneath the Messiah image and would eventually be exposed. And that sort of seemed right, as we really seemed quite strong in our support. And while idiotic smears like the Muslim thing are easily refuted and actually play to Obama’s advantage in the long run, the “Messiah” thing sounded right enough to gain traction. Yet…all one had to do was to look at who these people were to realize how foolish this was.

Because part of the construct of this meme was that we were easily influenced suckers being fooled. Yet Obama’s supporters were generally the most intelligent, politically-savvy liberals in the country. So how did it make any sense that we were na├»ve suckers? It didn’t. The reason we like Obama is because he was the first candidate to really hit all the right notes and push the right policies in the right way.

This isn’t about Obama. It’s about what Obama represents and what he says. And sure, maybe he’s lying about everything. But the same can be said about any politician, and if Obama’s lying to us, at least he’s lying about the right things. And if he’s smart enough to know how to lie in the right way, he should be smart enough to actually do what he says he’s going to do. And again, it’s still preferable to the people who lie about the wrong things.

Dear Leader McCain

And what’s so funny is that it’s actually McCain who is running on the Messiah platform. It’s all about him. While Obama has “change you can believe in,” McCain is “a leader you can believe in,” as if America really needs yet another all-powerful leader we can only trust on faith. And he thinks he can steal Obama’s platform and have people prefer him because he’s McCain. And even his supporters are selling him based solely on him being The Great McCain.

Case in point is some economist named Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who Atrios seems to believe was a good economist, but who now supports John McCain. And what is the basis of his support for McCain? Is it some complex economic policy that he finds a little difficult to explain to the uneducated masses? No, it’s a very simple economic policy called “John McCain.”

Joe Scarborough kept trying to get any sort of explanation for why McCain has flip-flopped on Bush’s taxcuts and the best Holtz-Eakin could do was insist that we place our trust in Dear Leader McCain, saying things like:

”John McCain has a plan to bring the budget into balance by 2013 by doing what he wanted to do back in 2001, which is control spending. Be a little careful with America’s money, I mean we’re spending hand over fist. It — I’m an economist, I can’t even count how much money’s been spent in the past 8 years. So…”

“This is all about how much you spend. When you do this in your life, if you spend the money, you might put it on a credit card, but you’re going to pay some points. So, it’s how much you spend. You know, John McCain’s got a great record of using the taxpayer’s money wisely.”

“It look — the guy’s a pretty good forecaster, right? He ran in 2000 on a tax cut that put the middle class first in line, protected Social Security and had strict spending controls. What did we see? Social Security wasn’t protected, no control on spending, so, you know, let’s do it right the next time. He’s committed to taking care of important problems and that means having the economy grow, letting people have a job and bringing the budget to balance.”


“Oh no, I think that if they had just given him the controls in 2001, we’d be fine. But the American people didn’t. Now they have a chance to give it to a man who will fufill his pledges to the American people, will take care of their business and will, you know, keep the economy going and have a balanced budget at the end of it.”

So, the plan that doesn’t even make sense to Joe Scarborough can be summed up as “John McCain, John McCain, John McCain.” He’s got a great record on spending, he’s a pretty good forecaster, he’ll fulfill his pledges, take care of business, keep the economy going, and have a balanced budget. How? Because he’s John McCain. Wow, I feel better already.

And again, that’s all they’ve got. Because McCain doesn’t have any real policies. He’s changed positions on just about everything and even his economist supporters can’t explain why he’s now supporting tax policies he once denounced. But that’s alright, because they know that, no matter what position McCain has, he’s still McCain. And that’s all that matters. Policies come and go, but the man will remain the same.

Friday, June 20, 2008

They Liked Him, They Really Did

I'm really not one to bash the recently dead, but I don't know why. I mean, why is it that we can bash the living as much as we want, and we have no problem bashing people who died many years ago, but somebody who died in recent years must be spoken of with reverence and respect? Is it that we just want to make sure they won't come back as a ghost to haunt us? Or in case a zombie potion might rain down upon a cemetery, we're trying to make sure we're nice to the younger ones who haven't decomposed enough to weaken them?

Sure, lots of folks talk about how it has something to do with the dead not being able to defend themselves, but many of these same people have no trouble attacking the shit out of living people who aren't able to defend themselves, and actually prefer it that way. Conservatives don't want Obama and his wife to be able to defend themselves against their unfair smears any more than we want Bush and Cheney to be able to defend themselves against the fair attacks we make against them. And anyone who's seen a hostile guest on Bill O'Reilly's show knows that he didn't invite them on to defend themselves. He just wanted them as strawmen he could verbally abuse. And then there are celebrities like Britney Spears and Lindsey Lohan, who serve as gossip fodder for every tabloid journalist on the planet, simply because these girls succeeded at their goal of being entertainers. And one of the worst things a celebrity can do is to fight back against our tabloid tendencies, as that's the surest way to be mocked endlessly. So why are we protecting the dead in ways we deny to the living?

And let's not forget that, as an atheist/agnostic, I don't really think the dead are anything but empty bodies. So you'd think that if anyone needed protection, it'd be the living who actually have a real stake in all this. And hell, if Heaven is the magnificent place Christians say it is, you'd think the dead would have something better to do than be concerned with what we said about them. And the people who didn't make it into Heaven would probably have more pressing matters to attend to than what Doctor Biobrain is saying about them. Or so I'd think.

Letting the Dead Rest

But while I don't really understand the logic of paying respect to the recently dead, it does kind of make sense to me, and so I go along with it. Besides, I'm not one to hold grudges, and only speak ill of people as much as is necessary to make my point. And since the dead don't really have any real influence on what's going on in the world, I'm fine with letting them rest in peace.

And so while I didn't have the highest opinion of Tim Russert, I'm not going to sit here and bash the guy now that he's dead. Of course, I just did a search of my blog and see that, of all my years of blogging, I only mentioned Russert in two posts. One was mocking him for a "mindnumblingly silly pseudo-religious wankfest" he wrote in Newsweek, and in the other I referred to him in passing as a "GOP-fluffer" in a post attacking the idiot Cal Thomas. But the point wasn't to smear the guy. As usual, I was making a broader point about the media in general, and using Russert as the current example of the problem we have with them.

But that's all water under the bridge now, and I have no reason to say anything ill of the guy. I'm sure he meant well, and if the shoe was on the other foot, I'm sure I'd have done the same things he did. He might not have been the best qualified to handle the fairly important role he's played in modern history, but be was offered the job, and I doubt I'd have turned it down either. So I don't really blame him for that. It was a sweet gig and I'm sure he was glad to have it.

The Russert Fanclub

But none of that is what I meant to write about. What I really wanted to write about was Russert's fans and the fact that there are any. I guess I hang out too much in the liberal blogosphere, because it really never occurred to me that anyone really liked Tim Russert, outside of the Beltway people. Almost all liberals disliked Russert for various reasons, and the guy never really struck me as being that interesting. Again, I understand why the Beltway types liked him. I just never realized it extended to other people.

But sure enough, I happened to read a story in Yahoo about Russert's wife, and the messageboard is overflowing with people insisting that Russert was a great man who they trusted and will definitely miss. And while I suppose some people must have watched his show, it really surprised me to see people taking it so seriously.

Here are a few sample comments:

John W: The loss of Tim Russert is the greatest loss this country has known for a long time and will remain so for a long time to come. No one did for the United States as much or as well as Tim did in his causing the truth or one's true character to become revealed under the light of his scrutiny. God bless you, Tim, for being all that you were and for showing us how to live and perform. Thank

Michael M: Thanks Tim R. you have set the standard for accurate and true political reporting without all the spin as all the other programs provide. You are a true American balancing family and work, doing the best in both roles! The bar you set is very high...rest in peace and go Bills!

LuckyMe: I put very little, if any, in the media's reporting, but when Tim Russert gave his reports, I felt he had done his homework. He was not a man to sensationalize -- He was a journalist (and the best) who the public could put their faith and trust in for the facts to be accurate. Journalism has lost its "brightest" media personality.

Even the Christian Nihilists were there to defend Tim. Addressing how doctors said Russert's heart attack was caused from being overweight, Marvel B wrote "It don't matter how well you eat or exercise, that's not going to promise you a longer life. When it's your time it's your time, no matter how healthy you are. We all are going to go someday and the way the world is looking we may go sooner. God is watching over us all."

Well shit, if nothing I do matters, why do anything? I'll just eat Twinkies all day, guzzle, whiskey, and move as little as possible. Besides, the world's probably going to end soon anyway, so I might as well avoid getting a job. Don't want to interfere with my praying time. And I find it interesting to see nihilists who believe in God, particularly have often I keep hearing how atheism leads to nihilism. But I guess there isn't any real cure to the "nothing matters" meme.

Preserving the Establishment

And wow, while I was expecting people to praise him, I really felt like much of this praise was meant mockingly. Yet there were so many similar comments that I now think that most of them were sincere.

But again, my point here isn't to knock Russert or even the people who clearly thought quite highly of him. My point is merely to express surprise at how many people really seemed to like the guy and think he was doing an excellent job. Not that I thought most people thought the same of him as liberals did, but I always assumed that, at most, people tolerated him. But it really never occurred to me how many people truly thought he was doing a great job. Or that people outside of the Beltway really bought into his regular guy image that he liked to project of himself, rather than that he was yet another out-of-touch millionaire who long ago forgot how the normal people live.

Again, I'm not saying that as a way of knocking him now, but rather conveying what my feelings of him were from when he was alive. And while I still believe that the media isn't as influential as they're given credit for, it really does worry me when people consider Russert's performance to be the epitome of great journalism. And while his work was considerably better than that of Fox News, or even the vapid CNN, it still was fairly biased towards his personal friendships with Establishment politicos; which includes his assumption that everything was off-the-record unless the source said otherwise (which turns him into a dictation service) as well as his silence on the whole Plame-leak thing.

But again, I think he had good intentions in all this and if anyone is to blame, it was NBC and the Beltway for giving him the power they did, rather than to blame him for failing to understand his profession better. Unfortunately, our entire media structure is biased to the preservation of the Establishment. It's not that media elites like Russert are to blame for the problems with the media, but rather that the system will only allow people like Russert to be in such positions. I don't blame Russert for doing the job the way he thought he should, but rather blame the media for wanting someone who did the job that way. Unfortunately, the only media players who can get ahead are the ones who play ball, and until that changes, they'll always find someone to do the job.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

McCain's VP Debacle

Carpetbagger's got a post mocking the idea of McCain picking Bobby "The Exorcist" Jindal as his VP choice, highlighting Jindal's moronic idea of allowing students to decide which scientific facts are the truth. And another post mocking the idea of McCain picking Rudy "911911911" Giuliani as his VP choice, highlighting what a disgrace Rudy's failed presidential bid was. But the truth is, I can't imagine how any candidate doesn't drag McCain down. From my perspective, they're all losers who make McCain's problems worse.

Not that McCain's such a great candidate on his own, but once you add the flaws of any other candidate to the mix, you've got a horrible horrible ticket. And the big question is whether they want a candidate with McCain's own drawbacks, which heavily emphasize McCain's drawbacks; or if they want a candidate with a completely different set of drawbacks, which then covers all the bases of loserdom. And both of these two potential choices fit those categories decently.

The Uber-McCain

On Giuliani's side, we've got a candidate who is even more absurdly heavy in toughguy foreign policy rhetoric than McCain, for the same reason McCain is so heavy in toughguy foreign policy: They've both adopted non-conservative positions for domestic issues which they had to flip-flop on, and emphasize attacking other countries as a gimmick to distract from their lack of having anything good to say on anything else. And even still, they're both spew foreign policy views that make GI Joe seem nuanced and can only be considered heavyweights in comparison to other conservatives.

And then there's the fact that they're both adulterers who abandoned their wives. And while Giuliani is a "cafeteria Catholic" who would certainly have been excommunicated in prior times and even now doesn't know much about his faith, McCain doesn't really seem to know what religion he's in. And without a doubt, neither of these guys fit into the "culture warrior" role and won't look good at all if they try faking it. Obama, by comparison, looks much better. He's still on his first wife, the "Muslim" smear has made it natural for him to emphasize his Christian faith, and he really does seem comfortable talking like a preacher.

And the main thing here is that, rather than Giuliani adding anything new to the mix, he's a more flawed version of McCain. For all of McCain's drawbacks, Giuliani beats him. Rudy would most definitely bring down the ticket. The only way he helps McCain is that it'd make him look better by contrast, but that's probably not the help McCain wants.

Evangelical Heretics

And then there's the Exorcist, Governor Piyush "Bobby" Jindal. Now, I can't say that I know much about this guy, but he really doesn't help McCain much at all either. Because while McCain and Giuliani have lots of flaws that hurt him with conservatives, Jindal's got the flaws that hurt him with everyone else, as well as a few biggies that could hurt him with conservatives.

First off, he's brown. Never a good thing for a Republican. Even worse, he was a Hindu until high school, which would muddy up the Muslim smears against Obama. Sure, they're not hated as much as Muslims, but I'm sure many in the religious right wouldn't see the difference. And finally, he's brown.

And then there's the religion thing; He's got too much of it. Specifically, he's a Catholic who has apparently said that Protestants are heretics, which really is going to make all those church potluck suppers he'll make on the presidential circuit more than a little awkward. And then there's the exorcism. And then there's his belief that school kids should decide for themselves if evolution is real. But of course, that's not really what they mean. They really mean that the parents should decide for the kids and the schools shouldn't contradict them.

And one of the biggest marks against him is that he has little experience and is very young to be president; which again makes it difficult to attack Obama for these things. For as much as the VP slot is often marketed as a training course for the presidency, there's always that possibility that the VP could be taking over before the Inauguration begins, particularly when we're talking about a candidate as old as McCain. And even still, he's still in his first year as Governor; which is the only part of his resume that really recommends him for the presidency, and was only in the House for three years. And that's it. Again, as a President-in-Training, that's fine. But that's only a side-effect of the VP slot. We're supposed to have a guy who could be president in his own right, not one who won't be ready for eight more years.

And finally, both Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich thought Jindal would be great for the job. 'Nuff said.

Well dammit, I just ran out of steam on this one. I like enough of it to not delete it, but not enough to want to finish it. I actually started it the night before, but it got so late that I left it for the. Needless to say, I really wasn't as enthusiastic about it as I was. But you get the general idea of where this was going, even if it's not as polished as I might like, so I'll just wrap it up like this. Better luck next time.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

McCain the Enabler

This is just too funny, from Jed Report:


As I’ve suggested before, McCain made a big mistake by not embracing the only sensible position he had available: To argue that he’s the competent version of Bush and that he’s the guy people thought they were voting for in 2000 and 2004. That’s a pretty lousy pitch to make, but it was the only one he had. Now he looks even more like a flip-flopper who will say anything to get elected. I'm not sure why Republicans imagine they have the ability to flim-flam everyone, but you really can't do it at the level McCain's trying to when you've already got a record as long as McCain's. It was easy to make Bush look like a "Compassionate Conservative" because he didn't have any record which suggested otherwise. But with McCain on record stating inequivocably that he supported Bush, it makes him look utterly disgraceful.

And even from a strategic standpoint, it's a big mistake. This is part of the strategy that Republicans picked up from the Clintons, where you adopt a moderate version of your opponent's position in order to undercut their arguments. But in this case, they're doing it wrong. This works if the issue is spending cuts, and you can position yourself so that you're asking for more moderate spending cuts than your opponent; or with taxcuts, and you're asking for more moderate taxcuts than your opponent. And it worked for Bush in 2000, when he convinced people that there were no policy differences between him and Gore, and that people should focus on who they liked better.

But this time, they're not using it as policy triangulation as a way to make people focus on his character. They're actually using this as part of his character resume, and that doesn't work at all. Because he’s now running on Obama’s turf and making Obama’s job easier. If both of them are arguing that Bush caused big problems, then Obama’s the guy you’d turn to, not McCain the Enabler.

This isn't about making people focus on McCain's loveable good side by minimizing policy differences. It's to distract people from the fact that he's one of the ones who helped get us into this mess, and the more he distances himself from Bush, the bigger the mess he's admitting he helped make. And that only emphasizes why we need to get rid of Bush and his enablers, which doesn't help McCain at all. As I said, McCain needed to sell himself as The Competent Bush, not the Anti-Bush. And now that he's committed to it, the best he can do is reverse himself again and hope that everyone will forget what he said. They won't.

Debate by Attrition

I didn't have much to write about, so decided to repost my latest response in my long, long on-going debate with conservative nutjob Professor Donald Douglas, of the esteemed American Power Blog, who refuses to acknowledge that there was nothing wrong with me saying it was "obvious" that Obama didn't agree with his former pastor. Yes, I know this non-issue has been decided in my favor long ago in the real world, but in the world of the conservative nutjob, even the debate over ONE WORD can last for years.

As it is, I'm still debating the use of ONE WORD that I wrote on March 24 whichwasn't even important to the point I was making. But no matter, Donald imagines that he's finally found one thing he can prove that I was wrong about and is now stuck trying to debate this forever. Anyway, just thought I'd post this as a reminder to how nutty these people can be in their arguments. We're talking about a guy who thinks I'm trying to score debate points when I call him a "nutjob," rather than realizing that I'm doing so as a comment outside the framework of my actual debate points. But to conservatives, insults are the debate points, so I guess I understand how he could make this mistake.

Anyway, if you really want, you can read the comment I was reponding to, though I think my response is all you need to understand the context of what he wrote. But if you click through, you can't say I didn't warn you. I started with a quote from his comment and moved on.

The Endless "Debate"

Remember, we're not referring to YOUR opinion about what Obama knows ... you said that Obama's views are knowable, that they are obvious, and you still haven't directed anyone in this debate to that source of information.

See, this is exactly what I’m talking about. Like most conservatives, you somehow imagine that I have to prove to your satisfaction that your assertion is false, and until I do that, you’ll pretend that your assertion is already established fact. But it isn’t. The word “obvious” can be used to describe both facts and opinions, as I’ve shown repeatedly, and I’ve always insisted that my statement was opinion and not factually knowable. But you’re forced to keep blowing past this point because it entirely undermines everything you’ve written.

And once I explained to you that I wasn’t making an empirical statement, it should have ended. That was the only point you were trying to make and once I clarified my intent at the beginning of this debate, it was over. We disagreed over the use of one word, but once you heard my clarification and realized that we were basically in agreement, you should have let it drop. But you couldn’t. Why? Because it’s all you’ve got. A normal person would have accepted my clarification, but I’ve learned long ago that you are definitely not normal. So you had to keep attacking me over semantics while insisting that I was the one making the semantics debate. Why? Because you’ve convinced yourself that there are no logical liberals and couldn’t stand the fact that one kept demolishing you in these debates.

So when you misinterpreted one word I wrote, you decided to hang your entire debate on that misinterpretation, and now find yourself in the unenviable position of having to defend the indefensible. So you keep tossing out big word gibberish and empty insults in the hope to confuse and tire me; which I’ve found is your standard method of “winning” debates. You imagine that the person who gives up debating first is the loser and have developed a Debate by Attrition method, where you substitute the standard rules of debate with your own rules which are designed to frustrate people so they won’t ever want to deal with you again. And then you declare victory.

And in the end, the only thing you’re trying to make me concede is that I used one word improperly. Yet, I’ve shown over and over that I used the word correctly. Not only does it fit within the dictionary definition, but it fits with how it’s used in the real world, as well as at your own blog. So you’re wanting me to concede on a idiotically minor point on something I’m right about. You’re too funny, Donald. But of course, you’re really just trying to force me to quit the debate, as it’s the only possible way you could “win.” Pathetic. I’m not sure where you got the idea that debates are endurance contests, but they’re not. They’re logic contests, which makes it understandable why you’d prefer a different criteria for victory.

The Quotes

And sorry to break this to you, but those sentences I quoted from your blog were most definitely opinions. Was there an “external basis” for making those opinions? Yes. Were they objective statements? No, they weren’t. Remember, the standard for objectivism is: Are these statements provable? And in each case, the answer is that they’re not. They’re opinions that you said are “obvious,” just as I had an opinion that I said was obvious. I’ll explain, giving the initial quote and hyperlink first:

If there's anyone in this presidential race who has cause for hating war, it's obviously John McCain.”

Yes, it’s a fact that McCain was a POW and was tortured. But is it a fact that McCain hates war more than Obama or Hillary? No, that’s an opinion. And it’s not an opinion I agree with at all. I completely reject that opinion because I believe that anyone who supported and continues to support our optional war in Iraq must not hate war as much as the people who oppose it. Now, I understand why you people believe that McCain doesn’t like war (though it has nothing to do with him being a POW and everything to do with people hating the war and him wanting to get elected in spite of his support for the war), but it’s not a factual claim. You can’t prove it and there are millions of people who think you are wrong. Nor is it “universally recognized,” which was one definition you once insisted that obvious statements must be.

Oh, and in case you didn’t know, McCain’s suggestion that he hates war more than people who haven’t served in war is meant to be an underhanded slap in the face to Bush, Cheney, and the other warhawks who avoided service in Vietnam. In essence, it’s the equivalent of the chickenhawk smear that you conservatives hate so much. Pretty funny, when you think about it. McCain has to keep insulting Bush and the Republicans to get elected, and you people don’t even notice because you’re too busy attacking Obama. Funny.

Are we ready to employ America's unprecedented military preponderance in wars of total, scorched earth annihilation (and is Israel)? Obviously not.”

Now this one is definitely an opinion, as it’s a prediction that hasn’t happened yet. How can a prediction be factual? Now, I happen to agree with this one, but it’s still an opinion because it can’t be proven. I can also predict that I'll see the sun tomorrow, but until it happens, it's not a factual statement.

Let’s start with the obvious. Sullivan is a lunatic.”

Are you honestly trying to suggest that you can prove that Andrew Sullivan is a lunatic? Really? Again, I happen to agree with this opinion, but it can’t be factual. You can’t prove that he’s a lunatic, and if you could, I wish you would do so and get him some professional help. Or at least get him to stop blogging.

Your “Objective” Opinions

But then again, a careful reading of your comment seems to indicate that you’re now admitting that these are opinions and that they don't need to be "universally recognized" to be obvious (though you've been careful to not admit that you've changed your definition of "obvious" to include opinions). So you had to create an arbitrary standard that your quotes pass and mine doesn’t. You write that opinions can be obvious when “all participants to an exchange have access to a raw objective data point which then can be used to make a subjective evaluation,” which is Donaldese for saying that we need an objective basis for our opinions. You then pretend as if there is an objective basis for your opinions, which is different from my quotes of Obama. So let’s look at these again, in search of this alleged objective basis.

Sure, McCain was a POW and has seen the horrors of war, but that doesn’t mean anything. Hitler saw the evils of war, suffered a leg wound in battle and was hospitalized by a WMD, yet he didn’t hate war at all. Far from it. So is there an objective standard that says everyone who suffers from war automatically hates it? No, there isn’t. The very idea borders on non sequitir, as there is no specific link between being hurt in war and hating war. Sure, maybe McCain hates war more than Obama, though I don’t believe it. But there is no objective basis for that opinion. It’s based upon a subjective belief and one that really doesn’t make much sense. Again, your objective link from “hurt in war” to “hates war the most” is missing.

Even worse was the “objective” basis for your opinion that Americans wouldn’t stand for scorched-earth annihilation. Because there is no objective basis for that at all. While I happen to agree with you on that, it’s based entirely on opinion. I also once believed that we’d never be stupid enough to invade Iraq, and we saw how wrong that prediction was. At best, you might be able to cite opinion polls which are mildly subjective and even that isn’t conclusive proof of anything.

And the fact that you think your statement was actually objective is entirely laughable. Every reason you cited is opinion and many Republicans disagree with it. The whole thing is opinion all the way up, starting at the opinion polls and then working up through the subjective analysis of them. Who knows, maybe we’re both wrong and people would accept scorched-earth war with Iran right now. It’s certainly possible. And that excludes it from the world of objectivism, because objective statements are provable and yours wasn’t, because it was a prediction. Sorry.

And then we move on to your “obvious” opinion that Sullivan is a lunatic. Again, I agree with this opinion, but what is the basis for that opinion? His words. That’s it. The things he wrote. Yet…you’ve said that we can’t use Obama’s words as verification that he disagrees with his pastor, so how can we use Sullivan’s words as the basis for his lunacy? Even worse for you, Obama directly stated that he disagreed with his pastor, while Sullivan, to my knowledge, has never stated that he is a lunatic (that would actually be the first sign of his sanity). So how can we use his writings to justify your opinion when we can’t use Obama’s words to justify mine?

Valid Opinions

The truth is that all of these were valid opinions, right or wrong, but none of them have a truly objective basis. Your opinions were no different from mine. I didn’t pull my opinion out of my ass. I based it upon Obama’s words and my belief that he was being truthful. Just as you based your opinions on your belief in McCain’s hatred of war, America’s hatred of annihilation, and Sullivan’s lunatic writings. And while there were valid reasons for you to think these things, they were just as valid as the basis for my opinion of Obama.

Face it, Donald. It’s over. It was over a long, long time ago. You keep flailing about like a blindman in a riot, and can’t even land one punch. This is pathetic. We’re both in agreement about everything we’ve debated here, except you refuse to admit it and have to keep reinventing my positions in order to imagine that I haven’t destroyed you repeatedly. But I have. You can misinterpret what I write all you want, but it doesn’t change the fact that you lost.

And rather than admit to this and move on, all you can do is to keep embarrassing yourself further and hope I’ll just give up. I keep telling you Donald, I won’t. This is much too fun. Rather than admit that you were mistaken over this insignificant point of semantics, you’re stuck debating this forever or risk damaging that little ego of yours.

Ready with that concession, Donnie? Of course not. You'll just keep tossing out even more arbitrary rules, lamebrained hairsplitting, bizarre phrasing to confuse everything, and topping it off with more insults and childish name-calling that would embarrass a third grader (or do you imagine that "Dr. Biopukesampler" was a valid description of me?). And I'll just keep laughing at you all the way.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Power of McCain

I'm not making any promises on this one, but I'm fairly sure that John McCain is in for a big hurtin' from the media before November rolls around. Not that it's necessary, as the media's never had the influence that people imagine they do; and that power has decreased significantly now that the internet has allowed regular citizens to open the information gateway. And even as it is, media adoration has given McCain a false sense of security regarding what he can get away with and he continues to spout out nonsense under the belief that he'll never be held accountable for it. Big mistake.

But I think a hard rain is going to fall on McCain and even we'll feel a bit sorry for him. Do I think they'll completely rip the guy a new one? No. But I think there are a lot of assumptions about John McCain that even the dopes in the media won't be able to continue thinking for long. In case you hadn't seen it, watch this clip featuring Vice President Elect (fingers crossed) Wesley Clark talking to some brainwashed media admirers of McCain.



And that was a truly disgraceful display, particularly from the female anchor person who just seemed dumbstruck by the idea that anyone could possibly question McCain's national security experience. The fact that Clark had to establish his credentials before he was even allowed to continue just shows how convinced these fools are of McCain's expertise. He's a fricking general who once ran for president and who was invited on the show as some sort of important talker, and yet they make the dude recite his resume like he was some rabble-rouser speaking gibberish on a street corner. Thus is the power of McCain, that even retired generals have to remind us they're retired generals in order to be believed.

McCain Equal to Obama

But after he did so, the best they could do was to suggest that Obama's experience wasn't any better than McCain's. And, hello, that totally undermines John McCain, because McCain's supposed to be the big national security expert. And if the best they've got is to say that Obama isn't better, that destroy's McCain. I'm not sure why they imagined that this was some sort of crucial counterpoint to what Clark said, but he was quick to point that out. And their reply? Nothing. While the female anchor person thought it was a good point, nobody could defend against Clark's rebuttal. Hell, they didn't even seem to understand the point and just had to let it drop. I swear, I could actually smell the smoke coming from their ears.

And this is a big problem for McCain because, as much as these people assumed he's a Big Dog in national security, they couldn't come up with anything to dispute Clark's statement. Nothing. Yet that was the whole reason they had him on the show and had apparently discussed it the day before. Yet when he actually defended his statement, they couldn't think of a damn thing to say to defend McCain anymore. It was over. And if this kind of substantive attack on McCain continues, and I think it will, these people will at least try to find some justification for their beliefs and I'm positive they're going to come up empty. And that's the beginning of the end for McCain.

And it's possible that this adoration will continue forever and that the media will remain in love with McCain long after he's disgraced in November. But I don't think so. It's not going to happen overnight, but even in this one interview we saw a tiny lightbulb of reality flash in each of these people's minds. You could tell because they at least knew to shut-up and stop defending McCain. Sure, they didn't give up on him, but it clearly got them to at least start thinking about it, and that's half the battle.

Even in this one interview, we moved from them assuming that it'd be dangerous to even try to question McCain's credentials to them not even being able to justify their belief in those credentials. And even if this only gets them to start trying to think of justifications for their beliefs, that's a lot further than they were at the beginning; back when they assumed everyone was in agreement about McCain's supposed expertise. And when you're dealing with pack animals like these people, that's the first step.

Oh, and Clark for Vice President! Hooyah!

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Politics of Slasher Flicks

I LOVE slasher flicks. And by that, I’m not talking about the generic horror movie, or zombie films, or even the Crazy Rural Cannibals genre. I’m talking about straight-up slasher flicks where the plot is about a crazy dude with a knife going around slashing people. Fun stuff.

But I really wasn’t sure why I like those kind of horror movies in particular. I’m definitely not scared by them. Nor do I have fantasies of going around stabbing people. But there’s just something particular about the crazy guy killing teenagers sub-genre that I find fascinating beyond any of the other horror sub-genres.

But while I was watching Don’t Go In The Woods tonight at the Alamo Drafthouse (which was an excellent flick, btw), I finally got it. What I like is how they emphasize the power of the individual and teach us that society shouldn’t fuck with people or allow people to get fucked with. Because you never can know when someone will just snap and want a little payback. And that's a moral that fits right into my belief system.

The Motivation

Of course, that’s not to say that the victims deserved to get killed, as they usually don’t. Or that the killer was justified in his killings, as he usually isn’t. And even if he was greatly wronged in the past, he generally doesn’t kill the people that did it to him. He’ll kill their kids, or the people with similar jobs (ie, camp counselors), or maybe he’ll just kill random people who had nothing to do with his craziness. And hell, some of the best slasher flicks never explain why the killer did it, and that’s all part of the fun. You just never know what these crazy fuckers are up to.

But the point is all the same: Society let these people down and now they’re getting their revenge. This isn’t like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, where the victims walked into the wrong society; a rural hellhole where the rules are all different. These films focus on the dangers of allowing people to slip through the cracks; of allowing them to be so isolated from their fellow man that they feel it acceptable to kill them.

And one of the things I like about these films is that it isn’t personal. They’re not going to torture you. They’re not going to force you to eat your girlfriend while waving your buddy’s eyeball in your face. They’ve got a job to do and they do it. You might not have deserved to die, but they’re going to kill you as quickly as they can. Why? Because they can. They’re showing the world that even a lone individual has power. You might not even see it coming. You’re just walking along, happy that you’re about to get laid, and before you know it, you just got your throat slashed or an arrow through your eye and you’re dead. It’s just that easy. And the killer doesn’t even pause to look at the victim, he just moves on to his next one. It’s strictly business with these guys and I respect that.

Society's Problem

And I think that’s why I’ve always liked these movies, because I think it’s important for society to take care of the weak and the abused and the crazy. Because we’re all in this together and even one crazy person can cause a whole lot of hurt for a whole lot of people. Well, plus these movies are generally quite funny, as Don’t Go In The Woods was. But I do think there is a bigger purpose to all this and that’s what I’ve always found to be so appealing about them.

The moral of these movies isn’t that you shouldn’t go in the woods alone (though you shouldn’t) or that you shouldn’t have sex when a killer’s on the loose (though you shouldn’t). The moral is that we all have a responsibility to take care of our fellow man and not allow them to go down the crazy path that makes them think of us all as mindless victims. We need to remember that every individual has worth and that we’re all in this together. Not because it’s the nice thing to do, but so that all those individuals think of us as being the same as them.

Just as terrorists seek to prove that the powerless can also have power, the slasher is meant to teach us that a single man can do horrible things. And the point isn’t strictly limited to real-life killers, though it definitely applies to them. The point is that even little things can make a big impact on society and that we need to do our duty to make it work. If we want the advantages that a big society gives us, we need to deal with the negative side. And we allow people to fall through the cracks at our own peril.


Oh, and regarding the movie, if you're the type who likes Hollywood polish and character development and plots, avoid this movie. You'll hate it. But if you're the type of person who will take their entertainment any which way it comes and doesn't try to force their pre-conceived ideas of what a movie should be upon the movie they're watching, you might just love this movie. I did. It'd be best if you got lucky and saw it in a good theater that serves good beer, like I did; but if you can rent it, you should. It's not good filmmaking, but it's entertainment and that's all that really counts.

Update: Holy shit! I just realized that today is Friday the 13th, which happens to be my favorite slasher flick. In it, we saw the dangers of allowing a kid to swim without proper supervision and it wasn't pretty. This might not be the best made slasher flick, but it was the first one I ever saw and I still have a soft spot for it. What a great day to have written my slasher post.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sucky Young Hippies

I hate old hippies. I'm not talking about the ex-hippies who sold-out and turned into the very people they despised (though those guys aren't great either). I'm talking about the burn-outs who still held on and can't stop talking about how much better everything was forty fucking years ago. Some old dude in 1968 talking about how much better things were in 1928 would have gotten laughed at. Yet now I'm supposed to put up with these whiny bastards telling me how much better things were forty years ago? Please. Life is what you make of it, and if you're at a party and can only bitch about how much better things used to be, then I can understand why you'd say that. But please don't try to tell me that I'm not having as much fun as I would have had back then, because I always have fun wherever I go. The biggest downer I ever have at the few parties I go to are these crusty assheads telling me about how much better everything used to be, because that's all they ever really want to talk about.

But even worse than the old hippies who won't let go: Dumbshit young hippies who weren't alive in 1968, but who insist that everything was better back then and that everything sucks now. Those people are insane. It's like they've only lived life through Best Of collections and don't realize that most music, movies, TV shows, and people totally sucked back then, just like they do now. And that's not to mention the internet, which was waaaaaay slow. And you couldn't go to 24 hour stores or fastfood places, and television stopped at midnight and you only had a handful of channels. No VCR's or DVD's or Wii's, and it really wasn't all that easy to get drugs either. Hell, I remember that kind of existence and I wasn't alive in the 60's either. I honestly believe this is the best time to be alive and things keep getting better.

And again, I think the problem is that they listen too much to the old hippies and watch the movies that make it look like wild parties all the time, and don't realize that everyone glamorizes their past. And the Baby Boomers were horrible about that, as they were all convinced they were the center of the universe and that nobody's lived like they lived. Hell, I betcha most of the old hippies complaining about how much better things used to be were real lame-asses back in the day and used to complain about shit back then too. Or maybe they were really cool and lost it. But whatever it is, you can make of life what you want. Nothing is stopping these people from having the parties and music they had back then, besides their sucky attitudes about how much better things used to be. Especially here in Austin, which is the coolest city in the world. Sure, there are sucky people here, but there's always been sucky people here. The question is whether you can block them out and enjoy the good people.

But I doubt things were ever as good as they remember them. They just want us to feel like shit because we're not as cool as people used to be. And I don't put up with that shit when it comes from conservative a-holes and I'm certainly not going to put up with it coming from hippy a-holes. Life is whatever you want to make of it and if you think life sucks now, then I'm sure it does. But it doesn't have to.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

McCain and the Old, Old Politics

The McCain people are in big fucking trouble. Every successful president in recent years has added a new evolutionary step to how to win elections. The Bushies built upon the Clinton constant war room and triangulating strategies by adding classical GOP dirty tricks to it. Reagan combined Nixon’s ugly politics with a genuinely likable personality. And now Obama’s completely revolutionizing everything, including the use of the internet as the greatest campaign tool since bribery.

But McCain? McCain’s campaign represents a HUGE step back in evolutionary terms, sending things back to the stone age. In everything from message discipline, message delivery, and outright dirty politics, the McCain people aren’t getting ANYTHING right. For example, any of the people in his campaign who didn’t realize that his recent ugly green background set him up for a HILARIOUS use of greenscreen technology deserves to be fired and sent back to the Eisenhower Administration where McCain first dug them up.

Here's my favorite so far: McCain Was There


Good stuff.

Wrong and Old

The latest McCain blunder is a perfect storm of bad politics. Here’s how it goes: McCain says yet another unpopular remark showing that he’s out of touch and wrong about Iraq. The Obama campaign says that this shows that McCain is out of touch and wrong about Iraq. And thanks to a McCain pushback against the “He’s too old” issue, the media asks the Obama people if they're trying to say he’s too old. The Obama campaign then gets to take the highroad by blasting McCain yet again for his mistake.

And they just keep walking into these attacks and make it hard for the Obama people to NOT take advantage of it. I mean, McCain saying that getting the troops home is “not too important” is a dumb, dumb thing, akin to Bush saying he wasn’t interested in catching Bin Laden. But it's compounded by McCain's defensiveness about his age. And this just isn't how the Bushies would do it. They took an idiot, put a cowboy hat on him and sold him as the Cowboy President. And whether or not that worked to their advantage, they certainly acted like attacks on Bush's ignorance played to their advantage, and I believe did for some people. For my part, I couldn't stand when liberals would call him a cowboy and act like they scored points on him, as that was exactly what he wanted.

McCain's people, on the other hand, act like mentioning McCain's weakness is off-limits and have gone so far as to link any McCain mistake that might possibly be age related to an attack on his age. And that's just dumb. I know, it’s part of the grenade-style of politics, where you attack the positions you really don’t want your opponent to make in order to force them into the position that's easier to attack them from, but it’s still a huge mistake. Because it just reminds people of how old McCain is and draws attention to it. And rather than people thinking that Obama’s unfair for attacking McCain’s age, it’ll just remind them of how damn old McCain is and how sensitive he is about it. And Obama doesn't even have to say a damn thing about it.

As I suggested at Carpetbagger’s this is the equivalent of Republicans accusing Kerry of flip-flopping and him telling everyone that this was an attack on him for being a Massachusetts liberal and reminding people that Massachusetts liberals like him always flip-flop but that he was flip-flopping for a different reason. Hey, why bother attacking your opponent if you can just link your opponent's attack with a negative personality trait you have?

McCain the Terrible

And so we’ve got McCain making these terrible statements and then spending all his time trying to provide context that doesn’t really make anything better. And this allows the Obama people to make substantive attacks on him with impunity. And even as much as the media wants to help out McCain, the best they can do is remind people of how old McCain is in ways that the Obama people wouldn’t even have tried, setting them up for even bigger attacks on McCain.

And again, McCain has nobody to blame here but himself. It’s bad enough that he’s saying things that would have been unpopular in previous elections and sheer poison this year, but his defense against it is only making matters worse. He’s making excuses when he needs to go bold and he’s going bold when he needs to make excuses. And his best attacks on Obama all help remind people of why they shouldn’t vote for McCain. McCain better pray that they get some footage of Obama at an Al Qaeda training camp pronto, and frankly, I’m not sure that’d be enough.

And what's ironic is that this is part of the reason his age should be an issue, because he's just too out of touch with how things are done. I'm not sure why anyone imagined that he'd be great on the campaign trail, as he's never really had competition in Arizona, got the tar beat out of him by Rove in 2000, and the nomination was only handed to him by default because the other candidates had too many flaws; and many of those were only flaws in a Republican primary, not a general election.

But it's obvious that he's only really good when he's unopposed and doesn't have people challenge his bizarre statements. This was already going to be a tough year for Republicans, but McCain has really made this much too easy.