Friday, February 29, 2008

No Early Voting For Me

Dammit! I went with Mrs. Biobrain today to vote early during my wife's lunch break, this being the last day to do so. And wouldn't you know it, there were long lines both before and after we ate. So it looks like I'll be stuck voting early Tuesday morning instead.

Damn, and I was all looking forward to gloating about how I already won it for Obama, what with my vote counting as a super-duper delegate here in Texas. Looks like I'll just have to wait until Tuesday to win the election for him.

Bush America Cowers from Cuba

Conservatives generally don't make sense, and neo-conservatives even less so. But all the same, I still expect to at least understand whatever twisted logic they're using to explain they're bizarro point of view. Supply-Side Economics is a joke, but I at least understand what the basic principle's supposed to be. But one thing that continues to elude me is the neo-con stance on diplomacy.

From a recent Bush criticism of Obama:
"I'm not suggesting there's never a time to talk, but I'm suggesting now is not the time ... to talk with Raul Castro," Bush told a White House news conference after being asked about Obama's willingness to meet with the new Cuban president, Raul Castro.

"It will send the wrong message. ... It will give great status to those who have suppressed human rights and human dignity," Bush added

It will give great status?? What the hell is that even supposed to mean? How are we legitimizing them when we go there and tell them to stop being such a-holes? Are we supposed to imagine that it gives hooligans "great status" when they get sent to the principal's office? Is it a mistake to be polite to bums on the street, lest we end up encouraging them to stay bums?

Believing the Bullshit

And this is one of the biggest problems with conservatism: The new generation doesn't understand that the old generation was bullshitting. So now they're repeating bullshit spin without understanding it was always bullshit spin. And that's all this ever was. If Cuba starts treating their people decently, it won't be because they were trying to lure us to engage in diplomacy. And we already saw with North Korea that diplomacy got us results and non-diplomacy made things get worse.

And that's just a no-brainer. This wasn't supposed to be real. Warhawks always denounced diplomacy and insisted we establish these deal-breaking hoops for these countries to jump through because they're warhawks who wanted war. They hate diplomacy and this was their backdoor way of ending diplomacy. But no one seriously believed that these preconditions improved anything in these countries. Believe it or not, most dictators aren't clamoring to talk to our leaders.

And sure, there actually is some theory behind this. For example, the Soviets took advantage of Nixon during the Watergate mess. But that was because they knew Nixon was only there to divert attention from Watergate and was desperate to come back with any kind of treaty he could get. And so they put him through the wringer to make sure he came out with the crappiest deal possible because they knew they could. But that's at a level of gamesmanship that today's neo-con can't even comprehend and has nothing to do with Bush's theory of wanting to deny "status" to our enemies. They want to deny diplomacy because that's what they've been instructed to do and fail to understand why.

And now you've got a whole generation of "tough" fools who have no idea what a con-game this always was. They've been trained to think this is what "serious" experts do. And so you've got people like Bush, McCain, and Hillary looking at Obama like he was a crazy neophyte for wanting to do what diplomats have always done. And they really imagine they've got a point because they have no idea what they're talking about.

The New Era

And all this plays into Obama's hands, so we can read things like:

Obama quickly fired back, saying: "The American people aren't looking for more of a do-nothing Cuba policy that has failed to secure the release of dissidents, failed to bring democracy to the island and failed to advance freedom for 50 years."

Obama repeatedly has advocated meeting without preconditions with leaders of such hostile nations as Cuba and Iran, saying current U.S. policy is not working and it is time for a fresh look at ways to improve relations.

"The next president has a job to do to repair our image and to send a signal ... that a new era is being ushered in and that we are not afraid to talk to anybody, including those who we have grave problems with," Obama said.

And that's a big Duh-Four, good buddy. Alienating the rest of the world does no good, and saving diplomacy for the countries that don't need diplomacy is idiotic. Warhawks have always seen diplomacy as nothing but a fashion show, and under the Bush Administration, that's all it ever was. But diplomacy serves a real function, and it's about time we finally got a president who really understands what it's for. If we're so weak that we're giving Raul Castro the upperhand just by talking to him, we've got bigger problems than Cuba.

And what's sad is that this "new era" Obama speaks of is just the old era, back before the crazies were finally allowed to install the policies they had been demanding for decades. And things got so bad so quickly that all the old ways look new again. So Obama gets to look like the smartest guy in the room simply because he was paying attention. But these days, that's enough.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

McCain the Savior

Over at Carpetbagger's some dude named "Obama guy" wrote a comment saying that Obama was "our savior" and that we must "rally around Obama and Michelle and empower them to create the change we need in evil, racist america," as well as suggesting that "Barack will treaty with our muslim brothers and apologize for an arrogant america." I personally found that a bit odd, as I've heard that Obama supporters are generally well educated, while this person had weird grammar and syntax that was suggestive of some sort of mental disorder. But I guess his appeal is sprending, even to the brain damaged.

Well my very distant cousin McCain Biobrain saw that and got very angry (as MB is prone to do when he's drunk) and insisted that I post his reply here:

Obama guy is totally wrong. McCain is the savior. He looks like the old guy from Reservoir Dogs and smells like my dead grandfather. He can take all sides of any issue while convincing his admirers that he really only supports their position. And best of all, he’s less sure of his own talking points than the people asking him questions, but doesn’t mind inventing whatever he needs to fill in the blanks. And did I mention his temper? Very manly. There will be no apologies to Muslims from this man, not unless it’s a talk radio host making the slur on his behalf; to which he’ll embarrass the guy and apologize for everything. But we needn’t worry about that, as he’ll be firebombing them at the time.

John McCain: Like a president, but crankier.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Obama Ads

As an anecdotal kind of thing, I wanted to mention that I started seeing Obama TV ads and hearing Obama radio ads here in Texas last week, and have yet to see or hear anything from Hillary. And they're pretty good ads too, the kind of thing that really could convince people. Nothing negative at all, and hitting all the right notes. If a positive political ad could work, these are the ones that could work.

I don't even watch TV or listen to the radio that much, so the fact that I've gotten almost one of these a day really says something. And again, I've seen nothing from Hillary at all. That's not to say she's not advertising, but she's not advertising anywhere I've seen. Money, money, money, money. I'm not sure why Hillary's people thought they could hold onto Texas and Ohio, but I've always doubted it. I'm guessing they were just kind of hoping he'd implode before March 4, though I suspect they never really understood the dynamics of this race to begin with.

Hillary was only the best option unless a serious challenger came along and collected the undecideds. This post from DK at TPM shows that, while Hillary's numbers only went down four points since January, Obama's went up by twenty-seven; making him go from a fifteen point deficit to a sixteen point lead. That just about says it all. As I've said before, this race was just Hillary v. Not Hillary, and it looks like Obama was a pretty damn effective Not Hillary. That's not to say this was an anti-Hillary vote; simply that Hillary's numbers were always limited to about 40% of Democrats and that the other 60% preferred someone else. And it looks like most of them have now chosen Obama.

Oh, and I just got an email from my first choice Senator Dodd telling me he endorsed Obama. Awesome. I love it when this stuff comes together.

Hillary Can't Punch

One of the biggest mistakes the Clinton campaign made was in their all-attack policy. It's like they took the "War Room" concept from Bill's presidency and decided to make that the entire focus of their campaign. Sure, Hillary's got policies. But they just seemed like window dressing to hide the rhetorical military equipment they've got inside; because her main sales pitch focused on how she was going to "fight" to get her policies implemented, and even the policies seemed selected based upon their ability to win her the nomination, rather than due to any longtime belief in them.

But it really does look like Hillary decided to adopt many of the Republican ways of operating a campaign; but failed to really understand how they worked. They went with the Inevitable Political Machine concept, without realizing that their candidate wasn't supposed to come off like a machine too. They went with a Loyalty First policy, without realizing that competence is more important. They went with a Don't Take Shit From The Media attitude, without understanding that only works if the media doesn't already hate you.

And most of all, they adopted the Attack Everything That Moves strategy of attacking their opponents. But as I've argued before, that's one of the most flawed ideas the Republicans have. Because even the wingnuts can't keep track of all the outrages they're supposed to be outraged about. And it was based upon the same premise that helped people forget Bush scandals: When a new scandal is discovered every few days, you get so overwhelmed that you can't remember them all. So even legitimate scandals can go down the memory hole; making absurd smears even more likely to get forgotten about. It all just becomes white noise without any focus or strategy.

And let's face it: Copying the Republican strategy was perhaps their biggest mistake. Because while they had HUGE advantages on their side, including a pliant media, a diehard following, vast mass communication advantages, and gobs of cash; they barely won. They never created a dynasty. They never dominated Congress numerically. And they barely won the Whitehouse twice, and had to cheat both times to do it.

Why Hillary imagined this to be a winning strategy is beyond me. Particularly as she'd never have a pliant media or their mass communication system, which were two of the biggest underpinnings of the Republican method. It's like trying to duplicate NASA's success with the Space Shuttle when all you've got is a nice airplane and fifty bucks worth of fireworks. You might put on a nice show, but you ain't getting into space.

The Anti-Attack Attack

And one of the worst aspects of the Clinton attacks was when they attacked anyone who attacked Hillary for her attacks on Barack. Because they were just so damn sensitive about it all, that they'd loudly denounce headlines like "Hillary attacks Barack" and insist that was proof of anti-Hillary bias. It was considered a smear to suggest that Hillary smeared Obama, even if she had. And while you try to be sensitive about that stuff at first, eventually all you can do is laugh at them. And I kind of doubt that was the reaction they were going for.

But that was sheer idiocy. Because rather than focusing on the attack Hillary leveled at Obama and stay on the offensive; her supporters and campaign would always end up on the defensive and insist that her critics were jerks for saying what they did. And that's just dumb. But it goes to the heart of why Hillary shouldn't be president: She doesn't play offense. She only plays defense. And so even when she's supposed to be playing offense, she naturally switches back to playing defense immediately and acting like a victim.

And that's just dumb, and isn't where you want your campaign to be. The whole purpose of the "War Room" is to keep the heat on your opponents. But Hillary just kept bringing it back upon herself.

Barack Responds

The latest example is from TPM. Drudge says that the Hillary campaign has started circulating a photo of Obama dressed in local clothes in Somalia from a trip he made there as a Senator in 2006. Now, this is just a dumb issue. I'd be more offended by a politician who refused to do this kind of thing. And so Obama reacted to this by attacking Hillary with an attack that I actually think is a bit overstated.

Here's a portion of it:

On the very day that Senator Clinton is giving a speech about restoring respect for America in the world, her campaign has engaged in the most shameful, offensive fear-mongering we’ve seen from either party in this election."

Perhaps they're referring to something else, because that seems a bit overstated. But perhaps they're referring to this as being a part of Hillary's whole campaign, which has focused entirely on scaring people out of voting for Barack. And seeing as how the accusation came from Drudge, perhaps they should have waited to see if it was confirmed that this came from Hillary before making the accusation. Obama's campaign also referred to this as "devisive politics."

Hillary Responds

And how did Hillary's campaign initially respond? Did they deny it, or perhaps reassert an idea that Barack had done something wrong? No. They blasted Obama's attack without saying anything about the picture. But even worse, they weren't playing offense. It was defense. Obama came out blasting Hillary in a way that turns her attack into a mistake that he's blasting her for. But her rebuttal is pure defense.

I quote:
This is nothing more than an obvious and transparent attempt to distract from the serious issues confronting our country today and to attempt to create the very divisions they claim to decry. We will not be distracted

See the difference? While still attacking Barack, this is all about how Barack is trying to distract Hillary. But they weren't. Barack was defending himself and did it in a way that hurt Hillary and put the ball back in her court. But Hillary's rebuttal did nothing to put the ball in Obama's court. It's still back on her. In essence, Barack successfully counter-punched Hillary by turning a defensive statement into an offensive one. And Hillary's defensive attack was worse than if she had done nothing at all, as the target not only stayed on her, but it just got a little bigger.

One of her surrogates later came out denying they had anything to do with his knowledge. But again, even that wasn't an attack. It sounded like he knew Obama had just whacked the tar out of them, and he didn't want anything to do with it. No counter-attack. Not even a defensive parry. It was just a straight denial from someone who wasn't prepared to deal with it.

But this is the way it's been the whole time. Hillary just likes playing defense better and is incapable of sustaining an offense. Because she keeps getting blasted every time she attacks him, and rather than standing up for the attack, she gets defensive. And that's just not how it's done. It's bad enough that the Hillary campaign has adopted the idiotic Attack Everything That Moves philosophy from the Republicans. But it's even worse that she can't even do it right. Because the Attack Everything part is what Republicans do wrong. It's the Never Play Defense strategy that works.

And so Hillary's adopted the bad aspects of the Republican methods, without learning the good aspects. While Barack does the opposite. He keeps his powder dry until he's got a good attack, but when he has to play defense, he always turns it into an offensive thrust that puts things right back on his opponent. And that's how it's done. And that's one of the big reasons why I preferred him as president, and he hasn't let me down. Obama knows how the game is played and he's playing it better than anyone. And that's exactly what I want to see in a Democrat.

Monday, February 25, 2008

It's Not the Smear; It's the Struggle

We've all heard the "It's not the crime, it's the cover-up" meme. And largely that's true. Even if your opponents can't prove you did anything wrong, they can still nail you if you did anything wrong to hide your initial wrong-doing.

Similarly, it's usually not the scandal, but the struggle that gets people. That's what the "Swiftboat" stuff in the last post was all about. It wasn't necessarily that people believed that Kerry was somehow a traitor for what happened in Vietnam all those years ago. It's that his military record became tarnished with suspicion over it. And even worse, he got the taint of a struggling campaign; which can often be the worst thing you can get.

Conversely, the Bushies have shown us that you can get away with murder, just as long as you don't let them see you sweat. The best conman can sell water to a drowning man, while a nervous samaritan might not be able to give him a raft. People like confidence. People like winners. And nothing screams more that you're not winning than when you're struggling to fight off attacks.

McCain's Money Problem

And that's what I'm thinking will happen with McCain's FEC problem, unless he somehow can make it disappear, and now. It doesn't matter if he wins this battle and gets to screw the system he supposedly championed. It doesn't matter if voters have no clue what the scandal is really about because election laws are too complicated to be part of Jay Leno's monologue. Nor does it matter if his media admirers cover-up it up for him. The real problem is just that there is a scandal at all, and one that goes straight to the heart of the reformer myth he's trying to ride.

If he can make this go away pronto, it's the kind of thing that will continue to cause him a minor headache from liberal bloggers and other people who have a memory they're willing to use. But if this doesn't disappear immediately (and based upon Howard Dean's move so far on this, I don't think it will), then McCain is in for a big headache. Not because people will believe it (after all, you can't believe what you don't understand), but because they see him struggling with it. And the more he struggles, the worse he'll look.

And that's the thing: The only difference between a "smear" and something like this is whether or not the attack is fair. But the effect is the same. In politics, as in life, appearances are more important than realities. And the appearance of a struggling campaign is far worse than the whatever it is that's making them struggle. And again, as the Bushies have shown, you can weather any number of horrendous scandals unscathed as long as you keep your head and act like nothing's the matter. Of course, then you run into the problem of ignoring real problems; but that's a separate issue.

But in this case, I don't see how McCain can really do that. This really works against his biggest strength, and if he can't get his money situation resolved, he's totally screwed. So ignoring it isn't an option, he's screwed if he bites the bullet and accepts what the FEC is saying, and so he's stuck with this giant albatross hanging around his neck for quite awhile. And so it looks like McCain's campaign is going to be struggling with this one for awhile. I can't wait.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

When Fools Attack

This might be news to you, but conservatives are idiots. Trust me, I checked. Because they don't even understand how their own smear machine works. The whole point of an effective smear is that the target can't easily debunk it and the more the victim tries to explain why the smear isn't true, the more they draw attention to it while taking away from their time talking about other things. That's the whole point. If the smear effectively sticks in the long run, even better. But that's the icing on the cake; not the cake itself.

The Swiftboat thing, for example. That was complicated. On the one hand, you had all these guys getting their stories together and fabricating a complete rewrite of historical events that had few eyewitnesses. And they came out blasting with their story already in hand and totally caught the Kerry campaign flatfooted. Even once Kerry found his own eyewitnesses to corroborate his story, it simply became a "He Said, She Said" kind of thing. And even then, the smear had so many different points and falsehoods to be debunked that even Kerry's strongest supporters had trouble keeping up with it all.

And the more time Kerry wasted trying to explain why the attack was bogus, the less time he had for anything else. By the time Kerry had the story contained, it was too late. And all the same, I suspect that the greater damage was done by the stories of how Kerry got caught flatfooted and how his campaign was struggling against the accusations. People like winners, and stories of struggling campaigns make the campaigns struggle even more. So the damage wasn't from the smear directly, but from the inability to properly fight the smear.

And that's how a smear is supposed to work. It's not just that you attack your opponent with an untruth. It's that you smear it all over them and they lose whether or not they can get it off. If the general public buys into the smear, that's all the better. But that's not the point. Even the Swiftboat thing was unlikely to have convinced many people to vote against Kerry. The whole point was to put a taint around Kerry and make him waste his time debunking old stories that he hadn't been prepared to debunk.

Bad Smears

And that's what makes all the current smears against Obama so lame. Like the ones in this article by AP stooge Nedra Pickler. While I suppose they can be labeled "smears" they're horrible examples. Because they're so easy to debunk that Obama has already included one of them in his stump speech as a weapon against his opponents. He's inoculating himself against the attacks, and making it dangerous for his opponents to continue to hurl them. And if I know wingnuts (which I do) they'll continue to make these absurd charges and hurt themselves all the while.

Like with the "Obama's a Muslim" thing. That's a dumb attack. Because it's so easy to debunk. Why not go with Obama's a Martian? Or Obama's a cyborg? Even worse, it gives Obama a good opportunity to remind people he's Christian, without it sounding like he's being pointed about it. Conventional wisdom aside, most people really don't like it when people wear their religion on their sleeve. But if his religion is under attack, then it's perfectly acceptable for him to tell people he's Christian. Even atheists won't mind him talking about religion under these circumstances.

The article also raised the issue of him being unpatriotic. But puleeeze, if there is a less likely smear to stick on Obama than this one, I don't know what it could be. At least the Muslim thing has a tiny shred of believability to it. But no one is going to go for the patriotism smear. Even in the patriotic heyday after 9/11 this would only have been an annoying nuisance. But these days, attacks on people's patriotism will most likely backfire.

The Patriot Attack

But the worst thing about that article is that it only referenced these attacks as coming from conservatives. If there's a better way to undermine the premise of this article, it's that. And the fact that every accusation in the article is not only lame, but borders on offensive; this is more likely to win people to Obama's side. In fact, one of the biggest falsehoods about Republican smears is that it matters what wingnuts think. It doesn't. It never mattered. As I said last week, wingnuts don't hate us because of they believed the smears. They believed the smears becuase they hate us.

Take this passage:
Conservative Republican consultant Keith Appell, who worked with the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, said Obama's opposition to the war will create a "striking contrast between McCain the war hero and Obama the poster child for the anti-war movement."

Yes, a striking contrast. And one that is HORRIBLE for McCain. Obama is proud of his anti-war stance. And rightly so. People HATE the war. Not everyone, but most people. And the only people who still wholeheartedly support the war weren't going to vote for a Democrat anyway. And even those people aren't going to expect Obama to think any differently, so this line of attack will have exactly zero sway with people.

And honestly, the term "Swiftboat" has become synonymous with unfair attacks. So the idea that any attack coming from anyone identified as being part of that group will be considered effective is just a joke. This guy has no credibility whatsoever and his association with that group is a taint that will last for as long as people use the term "Swiftboat" to describe these kinds of attacks.

Some Smears Are Better Than Others

And this passage is patently false:
Opponents of Sen. John Kerry proved in the 2004 election that voters are sensitive to suggestions that a candidate is not sufficiently patriotic.

But the Swiftboat thing wasn't about his patriotism. It was to deny him the ability to use his war record as a weapon against the two draft-dodgers he was running against. And as I said, it was more about tying him in knots defending himself, rather than about actually getting the smear to stick. And seeing as how the Swiftboat attacks, at best, may have cost him a few points at the polls, I fail to see how this proves that voters are "sensitive" to this kind of thing. And had the media done their actual job as reporters instead of their preferred role as gossip mongers, the attack should have backfired.

But as I said, the current attacks are nowhere in the same league as the Swiftboat thing. While the Swiftboat attack should have backfired, these current attacks are just like pinatas waiting to be busted open. They give Obama the opportunity to not only talk about his religion, anti-war stance, and patriotism; but also an opening to attack these people. Even egregious smears slightly damage the side making the attacks, and these attacks aren't even mildly effective. That's one of the biggest problems Hillary's had this campaign: There are no good attacks on Obama, and yet she still takes heat for leveling mild attacks. The same thing happens to conservatives, even if they use "outside" parties to make the attacks.

If we've learned one thing from Republicans, it's that they'll always overplay their attacks and get people to defend their opponents. That's why Clinton's highest approval ratings came when they impeached him. And while I'm sure there will be more effective attacks to come, they'd be better off keeping their powder dry rather than shrieking loudly about every smear they can think of. Some smears are better than others, and the more you hype the little ones, the less effective the big ones can be. But if Republicans were able to understand that bigger isn't always better, they wouldn't be Republicans.

President Obama Will...

In my last post, someone left a comment suggesting I check out some website called Obama Will, which is a collection of all the things Obama will do once he's elected president. I don't know who operates this website or what the intent of it is, but I liked the idea so much that I submitted to them a list of things that Obama will do as president. Just so you understand, I didn't make any of these up. These are all guarantees of what Obama will do as president, and if you see any of them at that website, you'll know I'm the one that sent them in.

Obama will buy you a six pack of fancy German beer after each hard day of work.

Obama will plant indigenous fruit trees in your yard and water them regularly with his own tears.

Obama will build you your own solar-powered rocketship and show you how it works.

Obama will pimp your ride.

Obama will make stars go supernova in order to create a pattern in the sky spelling out your name.

Obama will toilet train your cats.

Obama will cure your mother's lumbago.

Obama will show you how to turn your Nintendo Wii into a real-life girlfriend.

Obama will show you how to turn your girlfriend into a Nintendo Wii.

Obama will pay off your home loan.

Obama will make heroin non-addictive and chock full of wholesome vitamins & minerals.

Obama will show you how to turn household trash into cool arts & crafts.

Obama will make you sexier than Elvis.

Obama will save your life using an old cigar box, vinegar, and a toothpick he carries around for just such an occasion.

Obama will find your missing puzzle pieces.

Obama will make your favorite shirt fashionable again.

Obama will cure that nasty fungal infection you have under your toenails, without damaging your liver.

Obama will handle your bully problem.

Obama will make Spielberg movies really good again.

Obama will raise the dead.

Obama will hold your hair back while you vomit, and not make you feel guilty about it like some other candidates.

Obama will inhale helium to make you laugh during his inaugural address.

Obama will adopt your unwanted children.

Obama will mend your holey socks.

Obama will remove the mildew from your shower curtain.

Obama will make Jews turn Muslim and vice versa.

Obama will fill your potholes with love and lollipops.

Obama will fix your split-ends.

Obama will make you an omelette out of Faberge eggs.

Obama will cure your erectile dysfunction without embarrassing you.

Obama will be the best man at your wedding.

Obama will remove the spyware from your computer, including five you've never heard of.

Obama will whiten your teeth while you sleep.

Obama will put in a good word for you with Santa Claus.

Obama will let you stay at the Whitehouse until you get on your feet.

Obama will remove the word "can't" from the dictionary.

Obama will establish steroid-only leagues for every sport.

Obama will make George W. Bush apologize sincerely for everything.

Obama will make ghosts less scary.

Obama will turn everyone into Chuck Norris

That's about it for now, at least the big ones. I didn't include the obvious ones, about how he'll do your homework or call in sick for you when you're hungover, because I thought that just went without saying. And remember, no matter how much people try to cast doubts on what Obama can do; we just have to remind them of what Obama WILL do.

Friday, February 22, 2008

News from the Obama Rally

Holy bejesus on a crackerstick! I just got back from the Obama rally here in Austin Tejas: Totally awesome. I was there with my fifteen year old daughter, and let me tell you, she treated him like a rockstar and was totally hyped up. Anyway, I've got too much to do right now and can't give my full reaction, but the short answer: I totally dug it. I've never been to a political rally before, but this one seemed pretty damn good. Good speech. Didn't think anyone minded the policy details he mentioned. Lots of humor. Crowd seemed to get into it. I don't know how many people were there, but there were a lot.

My only complaint about the speech: Couldn't see a god damn thing. I took a crappy picture on my cellphone, but I'm having trouble sending it to my computer. Oh well, I guess I'll just save that for my full rundown tomorrow. But it sounded great and most people seemed enthused. Even the Republican looking older guy in front of me seemed like there were parts he really liked. Diverse crowd. People of all ages and types. Fratish party guys. Lots of hippy guys. Respectable people. One loser with a Ron Paul sign looked totally out of place. Basically, it looked like a decent cross-section of Austin, but without any of the a-holes you normally see driving around in their big-ass SUV's. I was even able to get a few laughs with some well-placed wisecracks during the speech.

Oh, and my other complaint: Obama totally stole the platform I was going to run on someday, and did it better than I thought I could. But I guess he's got a whole team of experts helping him, and all I've got is my single biobrain. Anyway, I'll try to write more about it tomorrow. And if you haven't been to an Obama rally yet: Sucks to be you.

I Don't Watch Debates So You Don't Have To

Well, once again I failed to watch the big debate, but I did happen to hear about it at the grocery store afterwards from the zoned-out dummy running the register. She said she caught it in the breakroom because she thought it was going to be exciting, but that nothing really happened and nobody really did anything. She clearly thought it was a tie and didn't see what all the fuss was.

I'm not exactly sure what she expected to see, but whatever it was, she didn't see it. I suspect a lot of people had the exact same reaction. I should add that it was a pretty big deal here in Austin, so it's possible that's the only reason she was interested and probably never saw a debate before this.

Hillary Flunks the Diplomacy Test

Oh, and the one part I was interested in was the part about Cuba. I think economic sanctions are dumb in these kinds of cases and I was interested to hear what they thought. And Hillary didn't disappoint, as she gave the approved neo-con answer regarding diplomacy; ie, that diplomacy is something we use as a reward for good behavior, rather than as a technique for obtaining good behavior. And it was no surprise that Obama got the answer right and said we should use diplomacy as an opprotunity to discuss improving conditions there. He's really good about that kind of thing.

So she said she won't talk to Cuba until they do what they won't do, and he said he would talk to Cuba to try to get them to do what they won't do. And while they're likely to get the same results in the end, it's still better for us to talk to our enemies rather than pretend we have some great strategy we don't have and lose any ability to persuade them about anything.

And this is yet another example of Hillary playing a game she truly doesn't understand. She's reciting the neo-con line because she's been raised in a culture which now believes this is the "tough" thing to do, and she wants to appear to be tough. But the truth is that neo-cons really don't believe in diplomacy at all, which is why they hold it off as if it was some sort of reward. But that was never the case. The neo-cons have always insisted that diplomacy is for suckers becuase they don't understand it, and this is their way to stop diplomacy. They attacked prior presidents including Reagan for engaging in diplomacy with the Soviets, and it was only under Bush Jr that they finally got a president dumb enough to follow their advice; to disasterous results.

The Cuban Trap

And once again, we see Hillary falling right into their trap. They set the stage and she plays the game well with what she's got. But she continues to miss the big picture and see how the stage she's playing on is a trap which limits all of her moves to a very small set of actions which she is convinced demonstrates her savviness, but makes her act like a neo-con. So even if she wins, she loses. She'll follow their rules and do the "right" thing, denying them the ability to attack her; but all the same, we won't have diplomatic relations with a country that could really be ripe for the picking if we played our cards right.

Particuarly as Raul Castro has apparently decided he wants a China-style market system, which I guarantee you will eventually lead to a free-market system, whether they want that or not. But of course, part of Hillary's desire is to woo the Cuban exiles in Florida, who remain under the delusion they're getting all their land back once Castro dies. They don't want capitalism to bubble up from below. They need a revolution to get their land back. Otherwise, it just won't be there for them when they arrive. But by now, it's quite unlikely they'll get it back anyway. But that won't stop Hillary from pulling this play from the neo-con playbook to show how "tough" she is on foreign policy.

Bill did the same thing, which is one of the things that led to our invasion of Iraq. They put so much pressure for him to do something about Saddam, that he continued to escalate tensions against a country that was no threat to us at all. And afterwards, whenever we tried to call this Bush's War, they'd trot out Bill's own words as proof of what a severe threat Saddam was to our security. Bill played the cards properly, but never could change the game we were playing. So even when we won, we lost.

That's why we need Obama, who continues to show his ability to think outside these traps and set his own stage. The world has gotten totally screwed up by the people who created the rules to the game Hillary's playing. We need someone who truly understands the rules enough so that we can get back to the old way of doing things; where diplomacy came first and you didn't invade countries unless you needed to. That's at least the starting point for fixing things.

The world wasn't a perfect place before the neo-cons took over, but the first step is getting us back to the point we were at before those fools made everything worse. Barack seems to be on the right path for doing that.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Obama's Charm Offensive

Oh well, it was fun while it lasted, but it looks like my support for Barack Hussein Obama has come to a definite conclusion. It turns out that Obama is a Muslim Communist who's just like Al Sharpton, but without the pompadour and attitude. Even worse, his wife said something that could be construed as her saying she hates America. And even though both she and her husband have given better context to what she meant, that only makes it a "He Said, She Said" situation, which I hate so much that I always side with the person making the accusation rather than the person who sounds more reasonable.

But of course, I'm joking. And while the attack on his wife might have a tiny bit of traction (though I doubt it), the Muslim thing is a joke and the Communist thing is a bad joke. I mean, Communists?? Are they serious??? Who the hell's afraid of Communists anymore? That's about as effective an attack as saying he's a leper or if we tried to attack McCain by insisting he's a member of the John Birch Society. I'm sorry, but if these are the attacks we need to worry about, I say "Bring it!".

But of course the attacks will get better than this, but I don't think by much. And the truth of the matter is that nobody really listens to rightwing attacks other than wingnuts and journalists too lazy to find their own story. And while I understand the slight newsworthiness of Hillary's plagiarism charge against him (though the bigger story was that she was making it), and perhaps even the Michelle Obama thing, there isn't one journalist who will seriously persue the Muslim or Communist angles of this. Not one. Even the WaPo's egregious story on the Muslim thing last November was supposedly from the angle of thinking it was debunked; and even that's not a mistake they're likely to make again.

But what bugs me about all this is that I'm already hearing a victim theme coming from some liberals, as if they're already tossing in the towel and declaring it impossible to fight these silly attacks. At least Greenwald's post labeled these attacks as "petty" and suggests they may have even backfired against Obama's foes. But at Eschaton, we've got guesthost Avedon telling us that these are "ugly" attacks by the media, and seems to be implying as if Obama fans were guillible for thinking this wouldn't happen.

Now, I'm still not convinced we're going to see the stream of empty attacks we saw against Clinton, Gore, or Kerry hitting the frontpages across the country; though I'm not sure I'd bet on that. But the idea that these light attacks somehow constitutes proof that the media has now turned on Obama is silly. Sure, all the lightweight Drudgeheads like Chris Matthews and Howie Kurtz might be focusing on this stuff, but I think I'd be more worried if they weren't. There are some people I just don't want on my side, and Matthews happens to be one of them. And again, the stuff coming from them is nothing compared with what Hillary got every time they talked about her. As I've said before, not all attacks are equal.

Victim or the Crime

But the big question is: What are we going to do about it? Are we going to sit by and shake our fists in the air every time this happens? Are we going to go into full bunker mode and futilely defend against each and every attack, as if failing to deflect each one could spell doom for our candidate? Or will we punish the offenders with open ridicule and loudly proclaim these attacks to be as laughable as they truly are? It should be the attackers who are the butt of Jay Leno's jokes. And when people derisively talk of these "scandals," it should be in terms of how lame they are; not whether or not they're true.

And as for the media, there is a lot we can do. We are not voiceless. This isn't the 90's, where the best we could do is express a little outrage in Usenet. This isn't even 2004, where Dean was lauded as a genius for wanting to use the internet to organize. We have a lot of power, and we're fools if we just sit back and whine about these baseless attacks. We saw how Chris Matthews cleaned up his act and apologized for his spurious attacks on Hillary. We saw how MSNBC punished a reporter for one slip-up. And while the WaPo reporter rationalized the Obama Muslim article, our protests have surely made a repeat less likely to happen. We can make a difference.

Now, that's not to say that Matthews will ever be a fully objective reporter, as he's a superficial twit that wouldn't understand real news if you fed it to him on ice cream. And that's not to say we should go overboard, as I believe Hillary's campaign did against Schuster's "pimped out" remark and suggest people be fired even after they took steps to punish him. But it's obvious they will listen, if we make them listen. The only way we're victims in this is if we allow ourselves to be victims. Whining about unfair coverage gets us nowhere and makes us look bad. Demanding fair coverage will get results. The attacks won't stop, but they can certainly be blunted.

And first and foremost that means we have to be polite. These people are always looking for some way to get out of doing the right thing, and their method of choice is to blame rude bloggers for everything. That's a common technique among people, to justify their bad behavior by using your outrage to retroactively make their rudeness more excusable. But if we all remain firm but polite, we'll deny them this out and get much better results.

Terminator Opponents

And finally, can we please get out of the mindset that the opinion of wingnuts count for anything? That, I believe, is actually our biggest problem. The main people who argue with us on this stuff are the diehard freaks on the right, and we somehow imagine that if we can just convince them that these attacks are baseless, we can stop the attacks. But it just won't happen. These people don't care about facts or truth. These people are authoritarians, and therefore the correctness of an attack is based on who said it, not on the evidence.

If Bill O'Reilly or Rush Limbaugh make a claim, it's true enough for them. That's how authoritarians work. And nothing can get them to change. Nothing. To get them to stop accepting the claims of their authority figures would get them to rewire their brains. It won't happen. It can't happen. Stop imagining that it will. Short of a brain transplant, you cannot change these people.

Thus said, why bother? These people don't hate us because of the claims made against us. They make the claims because they hate us. And so even if you were somehow to convince a wingnut that an attack against us was baseless, they'll find some other excuse for hating us. That's what hate is all about. They can't be bargained with. They can't be reasoned with. They don't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And unlike the actual Terminator, even your death won't stop them. They just don't like us.

But it's not even you they hate, or any actual person alive. They hate the idea of you, for not agreeing with them and validating their opinions. They are authoritarians and their enemy is anyone who doesn't respect their authority figures. And no matter how many decent liberals they know, they'll always imagine "The Liberal" as being the enemy. Even politeness will get you nowhere with them. They'll just keep on insulting you until you finally return fire, and thus confirm all their worst suspicions about you. That's just how it goes. They don't want a debate. They want to argue and find more reasons to hate you. And the more you insult them, the better they feel.

And that's our biggest problem. Too many of us feel that if we can't convince these fools, that the claims have gained traction. But they didn't. And the only reason why you're debating these people is because real people aren't convinced. So if non-wingnuts aren't making the claim, you really don't need to bother debunking it all the time. It's ok to wade into a little detail, but always put it into the context of the big picture. The deeper you sink into the swamp, the harder it is for you to pull out.

How to Win Elections and Influence People

Now, if you find yourself in a situation where someone who might vote for Obama believes a bad claim against him, that's where the money is. Just mention the faulty nature of the attack, point them to where they can find the truth about it, and then laugh because the attack is so lame. Like with the lame Muslim charge. That's such a bad attack because it's so easily refuted. There's no "He Said, She Said" aspect of this; just point them to the proof that he's a Christian, and after you laugh about it you're done.

And so it is with all this stuff. If someone makes a charge who isn't a possible Obama voter, laugh at them and tell them how desperate they are. If someone makes a charge who might be a possible Obama voter, laugh about it and say how desperate Obama's opponents are. And then have something ready to toss out about McCain; again, while laughing. We're not angry. We don't hate McCain. We pity the Republicans because McCain's the best patsy they could come up with to lose this election.

It's your choice on whether you want to label him a phony or to praise his many years of service to his country. Either attack works and I think it's even better if we don't all sound the same on this. I prefer the "phony" charge, while Obama seems to prefer emphasizing McCain's "half century of service." But either way, the main point must be a positive affirmation that Barack is the guy we need. Not because the spurious attacks against him are spurious or because McCain is evil, but because you know a lot about Barack and can tell people his positive attributes.

This election is ours to lose, and we need to act like it. We can get bogged down fighting every wingnut attack that comes along, or we can cringe every time Howie Kurtz repeats a lie against Obama, and wish someone would do something about this. Or we can do something about it. This is our year. We're on the verge of a historic election that could change everything. We need to act like it. We're not victims. We're not underdogs. We're in charge and everyone needs to see it. And most of all: Smile. It's really the best weapon we've got.

Paranoid Cranks for Hillary

This is definitely an overstatement, but I'm of the opinion there are two kinds of Hillary supporters: The sane ones who keep it to themselves and the crazy ones who don't. For example, I suspect that Digby was a Hillary supporter, though is slowly moving in the Obama direction as he's proven his abilities on the campaign trail. Same goes for Atrios. But it's not really that they were Hillary people. Instead, it's the basic fact that this was always Hillary's nomination to lose, and you kept her as your top choice unless someone better came along. And that's been Hillary's biggest problem the whole time: Someone better came along.

And let's face it, there were certainly some crazy Obama people who hated Hillary. I'm fairly sure that at least some of these were either Hillary people trying to make us look bad or Rove people trying to start a fight; but I know of several Obama people who definitely were real people and clearly hated Hillary. And that happens. People have opinions. What can you do about it? Not much. I tried to tell them to tone it down, but they wouldn't. Oh well, that happens. You just can't control what people say.

And so with these crazy Obama people out there, you'd have to be crazy to be all-out in support of Hillary. And I suspect that's what happened, which is why so many Hillary people seemed so entirely unhinged: Only the crazy ones got loud about it. Like someone named Anne at Carpetbagger, who didn't seem like a bad person; but she had a huuuuge chip on her shoulder regarding Hillary and would get heavy criticism for tossing out some of the most egregious pro-Hillary spin imaginable. It's as if Mark Penn had an evil twin.

The Fix Is In

And I was thinking about this just now, while reading a decent post by Michael Berube at TPM Cafe (Full Disclosure: I was once on Berube's blogroll, shortly before he pulled the plug on his blog and left me hanging). The professor was talking about another TPM writer's post on Hillary's next attack, and asks what that attack could possibly be, as the Clinton campaign has shown itself to be "message incompetent." He then goes on to evaluate the Clinton claim that she's proven her ability to face down the Republican Attack Machine; a theory he's doubtful of.

Now, while this is far from Hillary praise, I fail to see how any of this is improper or rude. In fact, only a fool could look at these campaigns and suggest that any of this is untrue. You could quibble over whether Hillary has beaten the attack machine, but it's a debatable point. And no one could suggest that Hillary's done a decent job of attacking Barack or suggest good avenues for her to attack him on. Or if there were such attacks, Hillary certainly hasn't done a good job of highlighting them, as she keeps trotting out the embarrassing ones.

But all the same, the crazy Hillary supporters came out, particularly some dude named "Andrew Strat" (a fake name if I've ever heard one). And Strat insists that Hillary has been "battered by Liberal Democrats" and suggests that because some liberal bloggers like TPM, Kos, and Huff Post say negative things about Hillary and Chris Matthews, MSNBC, and CNN also say negative things, this is proof that "the fix is in."

Because I mean, what are the odds that different people would have the same opinion about the same thing? Not very likely. Especially not if you're a crazy person who only sees things in black & white and can't imagine that anyone could ever have an honest difference of opinion with you. He tells us that some consider him a "paranoid crank" for saying this, but suggests that "maybe it takes a paranoid to unravel the level of opinion manipulation that is going on."

And I would just like to take the "maybe" out of that sentence and replace it with a "definitely." It would definitely take a paranoid to unravel the conspiracy that says Josh Marshall and Kos got with Chris Matthews and CNN to "fix" opinions against Hillary. And it takes a full-time crank to turn this conspiracy into something you'd laugh at rather than fear.

Things I Learned From a Paranoid Crank

Here are some random tidbits from poor Andrew:

If you don't denounce Hillary haters for wanting her to "be a 'lady'", you are "on the bandwagon with it all."

Obamamaniacs are "like groupies, either for one or the other, blind as bats to anything more complicated than that."

If you talk about Hillary's flailing campaign you are trying to "savor the last moments of her defeat; like drinking yesterdays cold cup of coffee." Because we all love to savor old coffee.

The Obamamaniacs are "sanctioned by the Obama campaign."

Obama's "bloviating rhetoric" is part of his "obvious manipulation of the feeble latte drinking yuppy mind." Because latte drinking yuppies are notoriously feeble-minded. And yes, insulting Democrats during a Democratic primary is a great idea; particularly when repeating rightwing attacks against the Democrat.

All "reasonable Liberals" think that "there must be some misogynistic motive somewhere underneath all that asymmetric concern with Hillary’s shortcomings and only adulation for Obama THE MALE."

And finally, in a comment he addressed to me personally, I discovered that if you don't think "the fix is in" against Hillary by Liberal Democrats and the MSM, then you either think this is all an accident, a coincidence, or that "all the media hates Hillary because she is obviously a vile unlovable creature, just like 2+2 is obviously 4." I guess the critical praise of the film Juno was also part of some "fix."

At his profile, I also learned that:

"We liberals go the extra mile for aspiring African American politicians" because we overlook "the cult mentality of the Obama phenomenon. Nay we don't just overlook it, we embrace it." Which I guess is his way of saying we have Affirmative Action programs for black cult leaders, unlike white politicians, who aren't allowed to be popular.

But this won't help us in the general election because "the rest of non-liberal America don't share our eagerness to see the end of racism as we do." Hell, why stop at insulting Democrats in a Democratic primary when you can go ahead and insult everyone else too?

Now, it's possible I got some of these out of context, but for the life of me, I can't imagine what possible context makes any of these better.

Cult of Hillary

The worst part about it is how much he attacks Barack and his supporters, while insisting that all we do is engage in one-sided attacks. But this isn't just him. Lots of the crazy Hillary supporters do the same thing. Their strongest attack against us has always been how we're all irrational Hillary haters in the Cult of Obama and how we should all be stopped from saying negative things about Hillary. And unless we praise Hillary and defend her against these attacks in everything we write about her, we're accused of being Hillary Hating Obama Sycophants; just as I was.

And I'll readily admit that there are too many Obama people who do the same thing. But there is a stark difference: They're not playing the victim. When they debate these Hillary people, they blast Hillary with both barrels; often in ways that I think hurts Obama. But the Hillary people keep insisting they're innocent in everything and start insulting all Obama people with all sorts of attacks on our vile and evil nature.

And you get the same kind of thing from her campaign, and I'm sorry, but that's no way to run a campaign. I don't want a repeat of the 90's, where Clinton remained popular because so many people felt sorry for him. I don't want a victim for president. I don't want to be in constant defense mode, where even our side's attacks need to be defended by me. I want a president who can define the debate, not someone adept at winning someone else's debates. And most of all, I want a president who doesn't need me to protect them against the people whose job it is to tell everyone what's going on (ie, the media).

And that's the worst part about Hillary's campaign and the Hillary people: Ever since she lost in Iowa, we keep being told how everyone is unfairly keeping her down and that they need to stop it so she can get on her feet and fight fairly. And if they don't understand why that's the absolutely dumbest sales pitch for president, then it's obvious why they're behaving so crazy now.

Hillary the Invincible was a decent campaign pitch that just wasn't good enough. Hillary the Victim is simply pathetic. I don't dislike Hillary as a person and I wish her well, but victimization is just not a good platform for the presidency.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My Super-Delegate Rulez!!

Woohoo! My U.S. Congressman is an Obama man who plans to use his super-delegate vote for Obama! I've always liked Lloyd Dogget, but now I've got yet another reason to like him.

Yea Me!!!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Better Clinton Stooges, Please

Hillary Clinton was supposed to be our nominee. That's what the conventional wisdom said, anyway. And to me, that suggests that she could have had her pick of the Democratic line-up. Now, either Obama just hatched a bunch of Democratic operatives overnight, or he got a bunch of good people that Hillary passed over. Honestly, either of those seems likely at this point.

This time, I'm complaining about Harold Ickes, who is a top advisor to Hillary, as well as being one of the people who voted for sanctions against Florida and Michigan for breaking the rules that are now supposedly hurting Hillary. (I'm of the opinion that Barack would have done better in both those states had he campaigned, but the Hillary people pretend otherwise).

And so this naturally puts him in a sticky situation. And how does he get out of it? The same way the Hillary people get out of everything: By pretending we're all idiots.

Here's the money quote:
"There's been no change," Ickes said. "I was not acting as an agent of Mrs. Clinton. We had promulgated rules and those rules said the timing provision ... provides for certain sanctions, automatic sanctions as a matter of fact, if a state such as Michigan or Florida violates those timing provisions."

"With respect to the stripping, I voted as a member of the Democratic National Committee. Those were our rules and I felt I had an obligation to enforce them," he said.

But the thing is...that sort of puts him in a bad situation in now supporting Hillary's position. I mean, how can he argue that it's fair to include these states when he's already said he was obliged to exclude them? And if his argument is that he's only now saying this because he works for Hillary, that undermines her entire argument. There's nothing else to it. The issue clearly is no longer that the DNC did the wrong them to the voters in those states. He's just saying that, as an employee of Hillary, he thinks it's unfair what happened to Hillary.

But that's not new to me at all. It's obvious to everyone that this is the case. I'm sure there are many people who honestly want these delegates included no matter who they benefit, but as far as the Hillary camp is concerned, she just wants the delegates and doesn't care how she gets them. And here we have this guy Ickes in a horrible position of having to make that entirely apparent, as he's saying it was the right thing for the Democratic Party to strip these states of delegates, but the wrong thing for Hillary.

Of course, this didn't have to come up at all, if he had just kept his mouth shut. I don't know the circumstances of it, but he said all this on a conference call. Had he said nothing, he'd have been fine. But instead, he had to tell the truth about why he voted for the rules, and ended up shooting Hillary in the foot; which is what they're all doing these days.

Winning Pledged Delegates

And here's how it's done, from the Obama campaign:
"The Clinton campaign just said they have two options for trying to win the nomination — attempt to have superdelegates overturn the will of the Democratic voters or change the rules they agreed to at the 11th hour in order to seat nonexistent delegates from Florida and Michigan. The Clinton campaign should focus on winning pledged delegates as a result of elections, not these say-or-do-anything-to-win tactics that could undermine Democrats' ability to win the general election."

And that's right. Whether you agree with that or not, he's using Hillary's tactics against her and blaming her for the whole mess while pointing out how undemocratic the whole thing is. In fact, the only really negative thing about that was the "say-or-do-anything" part, but that's exactly what the Hillary people have been saying. They were trying to show how tough they were and how they're pushing to get Florida and Michigan counted, as well as wooing the Super Delegates and they'll take any win they can get.

And now the Obama people have turned that around and are showcasing that as the negative thing it is, but without it sounding like a big attack. Not only does it sound like a helpful piece of advice, but it is. I don't know why Hillary imagines it's good to tell everyone how she's planning to win this thing through back-channels, but it's not. Most voters don't care about this kind of stuff, and while the "in it to win it" vibe isn't necessarily bad, I'm sure it's more comforting to voters to think she's winning it by wooing voters; not party elders.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Mark Penn's an Idiot

Ok, Hillary's not dumb. But what the hell can we call anyone who not only thinks Mark Penn is intelligent, but is willing to pay him big bucks for years to run the strategy part of your presidential campaign? Not dumb, but what? I don't know.

Mark Penn is a huge fool, the kind of guy Rove would be if he didn't play dirty and had half his brain removed. At least Rove has an intutive sense of valid sounding arguments, and if his arguments blow your mind, they're so wacko that it makes you lose your ability to speak. That takes talent. But when Mark Penn blows your mind, you still have the ability to laugh your ass off and have no problem explaining why he's totally wrong.

Here's the one I'm thinking of now:
Winning Democratic primaries is not a qualification or a sign of who can win the general election. If it were, every nominee would win because every nominee wins Democratic primaries.”

What the hell is he talking about? Of course winning primaries is a sign of who can win the general election. Is it a guarantee you'll win? Of course not and there can't be anyone who believes it will. Nor does getting a PhD in Chemistry guarantee you'll get a science job, or winning a Heisman guarantee you'll be a first-round draft choice in the NFL. But they're certainly good indicators. "Qualification" does not mean you'll get the job. But it can be used as evidence that you'll be good at it.

Similarly, losing lots of primaries is evidence you'll lose the general election; particularly when both candidates are running on the same platform. It's one thing when a moderate loses races against the extremist who appeals to the base, like when a loser like Huckabee can steal wins from McCain. But the fact that Barack and Hillary make the same basic appeals and people still prefer the lesser-known candidate, that's a bad sign for Hillary. And that's one of the weird things about guys like Penn: They somehow imagine that labeling your candidate as being "invincible" is somehow more convincing than actual primary wins. For them, image creates reality.

And there can be no doubt that he's only saying this out of desperation. But that's the same with just about everything coming out of the Hillary campaign. It's one thing to be desperate. But you still shouldn't telegraph to the world exactly how desperate you are. When a Rove, Limbaugh, or O'Reilly is desperate, they can think through twenty-five levels of absurdity to dig out some non sequitar that leaves your mind reeling. You know they're wrong, but they're so fricking wrong that it's difficult to know where to begin to refute it. In fact, Stephen Colbert's genius is his ability to add back enough reality to what they're saying that the joke becomes obvious again.

In contrast, Penn just seems to work on one level of absurdity, but seems to think he's a genius all the same. And the fact that Hillary keeps this guy around is surely a bad sign of her mental prowess too. At a minimum, she needs to keep a muzzle on him before finding some backdoor way of getting rid of him. But it doesn't excuse the fact that she clearly agrees with what he says.

Friday, February 15, 2008

When Memes Matter

Atrios has a post regarding the media's love affair with Obama and hatred of Hillary, which links to this article which gives details to it. But the thing is, I think there's a lot more to this than just "the media hates her the way the media will hate him." Because the article highlights a fundamental mistake the Hillary campaign made:

"But instead, the affect she presented to reporters was in perfect keeping with all the stereotypes about her: She was guarded and relentlessly, robotically on-message on the rare occasions when she sat for interviews, displaying little of her charm or humor. She adopted an arch-Establishmentarian posture rather than an inspiring, transformational one..."

The writer insists that Hillary's problem is that she was trapped into a meme that made her out to be this way, but why? This is clearly what they were going for. Everything from denouncing people who referred to her as "Hillary" instead of "Clinton" to the entire "Inevitable Political Machine That Will Destroy Republicans" was a clear sign that she was trying to work this to her advantage. Sure, the media already had these attitudes about her, so why reinforce them?

I suspect that the Hillary people were really trying to steal a page from the Bush manual. The Bush Election Machine had much of this same mystic, and it worked well. But the big difference was the candidate they were selling. While the Bush Machine was scary sharp, the candidate was a "Good Ol Boy" doofus in a cowboy hat who seemed to enjoy clearing brush more than anything. And so while the Machine frightened them, the candidate was friendly, fun, and entirely non-threatening (or so they thought).

Hillary's people messed up because their candidate was already known for being a machine, and the Inevitable Machine meme just made it worse. People didn't just fear her campaign. They feared her. And that fit in so well with the media's meme that they just continued to run with it. Now, it wasn't just "the bitch;" it was the "Bitch's Machine." Or so said the meme. And while that might have been inevitable, Hillary's strategy only made it worse. Her re-branding experts told her to play it soft, but her idiot political advisors told her to go tough, and she went with the advisors; who she's been listening to for years. I suspect history will show that to be her biggest mistake.

A New Democrat

That writer then ends the piece with a dig at Obama:
His success has turned in no small part on his skill at avoiding such flyspecking, and on his rival’s inability to muster the same kind of dexterity. If Obama winds up facing John McCain, a man whose meta-narrative is spun from pure gold, he is unlikely to be so fortunate again.

But why is that assumed? He also mentions how the GOP has done this "again and again," but what is that based on? As I've argued before, the GOP Attack Machine is vastly over-rated. But in what case has the GOP been able to turn a positive media story into a negative? Are we to imagine that the media once loved the Clintons? Was Gore ever a media darling? Can anyone possibly suggest that Kerry has a TV-friendly charm?

Of course not! The Clintons were hated because he was a "bubba" who was too BS-y and she was too bitchy, and they didn't go to the right parties or please the right people. Gore was hated because he was a Boy Scout who got the pile-on they wanted to give to Bill but never could. Kerry was hated because he wasn't Bush and he was another boring Boy Scout who wouldn't stop talking. Sure, the media was able to find things they didn't like, but the real issue is that they just didn't like these people to begin with. It wasn't the Smear Machine that got the media hating them. It was the opposite: The media hated them and gave the Smear Machine a voice. That's all that happened. And without the media, the Machine is impotent. Hillary's largely found that out too. It doesn't do any good to steamroll the press if the press is intent on steamrolling you.

Now, that's not to guarantee at all that they won't turn on Obama too. Perhaps they will. But in no case do we have evidence of a Media Darling Democrat who became a Media Target due to Republican smears. Can anyone name any Democrat who that applies to? Instead, I'm seeing a group of people who have grown to idolize JFK, RFK, and MLK; and a candidate they've already decided is a combination of all three. This has never happened before and I see no reason to imagine the old rules will apply to him. Maybe they will, but precedent no longer applies.

Granddaddy v. The Fonz

And I'm of the opinion that they're going to give even better treatment to Obama than McCain. Not all of them, but Obama's got the better story, and will give them better things to write about. Sure, it's always nice to quote Mr. "Straight Talk". But where's the story? Obama has his story built-in. He's part of a new movement sweeping America that will transform politics as we know it. And if there's anything the herd-like media loves, it's a new movement sweeping America.

And as I explained at Atrios', McCain's the funny grandfather who tells dirty jokes that make you laugh on fishing trips. Obama's the cool older cousin you try to emulate as much as possible. And for as much as you love your grandfather, you'd much rather hang out with the cousin. It's possible things won't work out that way, but we need to realize that they really might.

Oh, and Bush was your older sister's boyfriend, who gave you good things sometimes, but was kind of a jerk when he didn't want you around. And for as much as he pretended to be your pal, you often got the impression he just did it so he could get into your sister's pants. And he always did. Even now, the media hasn't quite grasped the fact that Bush was just using them.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Barack Taste Challenge

Atrios has a post showing Hillary's new attack ad, which chastises Obama for not wanting a debate in Wisconsin; and it just reeks of desperation. I don't know how many debates we've seen so far, but I fail to see how any more could help; beyond helping Hillary get free publicity to make up for the fact that she's broke.

And as I suggested at Atrios', her theory is just mistaken. Sure, she might debate better than he does, something I don't necessarily agree with, but that's beside the point. Because she was the name-recognition default candidate and her biggest advantage was that people knew who she was and would be sympathetic. So his biggest goal was to get as many people as possible to watch him, in order to put a face to that name. Any marketer can tell you that. As long as you've got a good product, the biggest challenge is getting people to experience it. That's the whole point of free samples and coupons: They feel that if you try their product, you'll continue to buy. And that's been Obama's strategy the whole time.

I mean, "Barack Obama" is a pretty weird name, and if you didn't know who he was, you might reject him by default. But once you've seen him, his name actually becomes cool. It's like Ikea. That word means nothing to you unless you've been to the store or seen the catalogue, and if someone asked you if you liked it, you wouldn't have a clue. But once you've been there, the name seems perfect. It becomes part of the cool, hip image and you're more likely to like the store than if it was called The Furniture Place or Walmart. Hell, Apple has made a fortune inventing words like iMac and iPod. And a name that once would have sounded silly is now the coolest thing around. It's all about having the right name with the right product; and Obama has it.

And so by debating Hillary, Obama wins, even if she "beats" him. Because she's lending her name recognition to get people to watch him. It'd be like if Coke decided to do a national taste test against No-Name Soda. People might not even try No-Name on their own, but if Coke is being challenged by it...there must be something to it. It doesn't matter if people like Coke better, unless the product sucks, No-Name's sales will go up. And so while she might win the debate, he wins the war.

Going Negative

Beyond that, going negative on this kind of issue was just silly. The ad contained a few policy jabs at Barack, but for the most part, I can't imagine voters in Wisconsin getting outraged that Obama won't debate there. If anything, they won't care. And most likely, they'll dislike Hillary more for the attack ad. A good attack ad is a hard thing to get right, especially against a someone in your own party, and if you're not trying to get viewers to feel outrage towards your opponent, there's no point to it and it might just backfire.

Plus, it just reeks of desperation. If she had bad things to say about him, she would. But running an attack ad that lacks an actual attack looks bad. And she wouldn't be so worried about debating him if she thought she was ahead. So I chalk this up to yet another blunder by the Clinton campaign. Their big mistake is that they waste all their time fighting each battle and continually fail to see the big picture and end up losing the war. And I don't see how this is any different. I'm not sure if it was possible for her to beat Barack, but her campaign has made it all the harder.

And as I've suggested before, this is bigger than just the campaign. This is pretty much how things went during the Clinton presidency and I really didn't expect much different the second time around. Fortunately, we have a candidate who was able to beat the Clinton machine by running an excellent campaign while focusing on the big picture. And in the election so far, it's made all the difference.

Obama the Fighter

Here is yet another post that I wrote as a comment somewhere else, but thought I should post for you, my loyal readers; an idea I explained here. This was in response to a commenter who suggested that I was placing too much trust in Obama.

I don't see what other choice we have. Because for as much as Obama might be attacked by the right, every other Democrat will have the exact same problem. And for as much as people say we should "fight," I have no idea what that means beyond what Obama's doing. The deck is stacked against us, and the last time we had a Democrat in the Whitehouse, he "fought" by adopting rightwing positions and eventually got impeached. And while he remained popular and hindsight shows that we "won," I fail to see how we had many political victories after 1994. While we all fought for Clinton's personal victories, the political victories never materialized. In essence, fighting did nothing but lose us more ground. I'm not blaming the Clintons for that, just saying we need a new plan.

And if anyone can do something different, it'd be Obama, and it'd be because of his post-partisan message. Now, maybe it won't work. I'm not naive and don't imagine it'll be easy, but at least it's a shot. Especially as the media seems to like him more than they ever liked the Clintons, Gore, Kerry, or Edwards; and that's the first step. He talks like a centrist and is smooth without being BS-y, which will appease the empty-headed Broders and Russerts. And yet he can tell a narrative that people find engaging and is good at sticking to his script even under pressure. And his post-partisan rhetoric sets him up so our opponents will look like the haters; not us.

But none of the Obama people are under the delusion that Republicans will just hand us victories, and maybe victory is impossible. But I fail to see what choice we have. Obama is the only candidate positioned to do what we need done, and if it can be achieved, he's the guy to do it. Maybe it won't work either, but he's looking like Michael Jordan right now and I'd rather give him the ball than someone who tells me they play good defense.

Liberal Internets v. The Hive

Here is yet another in my series of glorious posts that I wrote while commenting at other blogs which really needed to be told to you guys; an idea I explained here. This time, I was explaining why conservatives will never be able to use the internet as well as liberals do.

The main problem is that conservatives are top-down people and liberals are bottom-up people. They take orders from above, with the RNC elders giving marching orders to Limbaugh, Fox News, etc.; and then letting them trickle down from there to RedState and below. And so it’s impossible to empower the riff-raff bloggers to do anything on their own. That’s why their “grass-roots” organizations are all astro-turf and why they can never really have a MoveOn. Not only do they not want to empower these people, but the people themselves don’t know how to do it. Centralized idea distribution like talk radio and Fox News makes sense for them, because it helps distribute the same ideas to jerks all over the country.

Liberals, on the other hand, clearly have no one to turn to but ourselves. We turned to blogs because we weren’t being represented anywhere and don’t need to wait for our orders from anyone. Talk radio and television are no good because they don’t really let us talk back; which is exactly what we want to do. Blogs let us talk back. While conservatives use blogs as a means to ignore the MSM, liberals use it as their only way to talk about what’s in the MSM. We don’t need a centralized mind telling us what to do. We just need a way to talk to each other.

For conservatives, they see how well we’ve used the net and think they can just shift their Limbaugh/Fox focused energies to that, but it’s impossible. It’s not just that the internet is better at this stuff; it’s that the advantages it gives liberals just doesn’t apply to conservatives. The internet gives liberals the ability to form a hive-mind which can work together to solve problems. Conservatives were already born that way, so the internet could do nothing but divide the hive. And more likely, all it does is give them an echo chamber to help them reinforce what the leaders tell them. And it will never be more than that for them. Conservativism could not exist if these people were allowed to think for themselves, as the delusion only holds up if they all see the same fantasy world.

Crossing Over Obama

Here is yet another in my series of glorious posts that I wrote while commenting at other blogs which really needed to be told to you guys; an idea I explained here. This was in a discussion on Obama's supposed success at getting independents and Republicans to vote for him in primaries and the general election. I was responding to someone who pointed out that Virginia had an open primary.

Texas also has an open primary. Or at least, anyone can vote in it as long as they didn’t vote in another primary or attend the Republican convention. And so some of this cross-over vote could come into play here too. But honestly, if these people were smart, they’d have supported Hillary. If nothing else, they want this to go all the way to our national convention, with us duking it out the whole way; while McCain rides easy street. So if they were smart, they’d have voted for Hillary. But if they were dumb and just hated Hillary, they’d vote against her. But a vote for Hillary is a vote to get to keep beating her up, so maybe they’d have thought it all the way through that. But whatever it is, if people are crossing over to pick Obama, that’s going to hurt Hillary here too.

Beyond that, I really do think Obama has cross-over appeal. Everyone hates Bush. Everyone. Even the people who won’t admit it to themselves. They’d be just as happy if the last seven years never happened and everyone forgot about the war. And while old habits never die, I strongly suspect that a lot of people who voted for Bush are going to want to turn the page and forget that any of that crap ever happened. And the best way to get that is through Obama.

Now, I don’t expect to see 50% or even 15% of these people to cross-over, but it doesn’t take much. Virgina’s already going blue, and a 5-10% pick-up by Obama could make all the difference. Even in the worst of times, the Bushies could barely steal the election. I don’t think this one’s even going to be close. Anyone can naysay me if you want, but pessism doesn’t sell candidates. I remember people naysaying that we’d ever win Congress back too. But I didn’t doubt it at all.

Post-Party Politics: DC Style

This is yet another in my series of glorious posts that I wrote while commenting at other blogs which really needed to be told to you guys; an idea I explained here. This time, I explain the biggest mistake that the Clintons made that led to many of our current political difficulties, and how Obama changes all that.

I do think the Clintons made one gigantic blunder when they took office. It’s my understanding that they didn’t attend the right parties or pay respect to the right Village elders when they moved into the Whitehouse. And that was the biggest mistake they could make. It’s unfortunate, but our capital is infested with a clique that views D.C. as their own personal social circle. And there can never be a bigger offense with these kinds of superficial twits than to diss them. After all, appearances is all they understand.

And the Clintons came in and brought their friends with them and didn’t fit in, and that just wasn’t right. Republicans had controlled the Whitehouse for twelve years and D.C. had just become accustomed to how things were supposed to be. After all, one of the big Clinton “scandals” we wasted taxpayer money on was Travelgate, where the Clintons had a problem with the people in the Whitehouse travel office and cleaned house. Unfortunately, the media were friends with those people, and so it became a front-page story that had to be investigated endlessly. But that’s just how it goes with these kinds of people. They’re too shallow to be partisan or ideological; they just like to socialize.

And that’s why they hated Al Gore. They could diss him in ways that they never could with Bill. At least with Bill, he was smooth, but with a BS-y kind of charm, so that even while you were impressed by him, you still felt like he was up to something. And so they never could hurt him. But Gore was a Boy Scout, and so they had tons of fun beating the tar out of him. And in the process, it made them like Bush, who not only was a hometown favorite, but he also had a certain BS-iness to him, though without any charm. And so they liked that too and could hype Bush in order to pile on Gore.

And so when Kerry came along, they were still in love with Bush, and so they had to punish Kerry. Plus, Kerry was boring and also had a kind of Boy Scout-ness to him that they disliked. No charm at all with that guy. But all the same, he never got attacked like Gore or Clinton did. Sure, they mocked him, but not nearly to the same degree. Were it not for the fraudulent terror warnings and some well-placed voter fraud, Kerry would have won.

And so now we can have Obama and all that can change. Because he is charming. He’s interesting. He’s fresh. And best of all, he talks like he can socialize at parties with Republicans without anyone getting embarrassed by a heated discussion. They’ll love him and he’ll spice up their brain-free parties considerably. The Bush people have now overstayed their welcome, and the Village is looking for something new. And for as much as the media likes McCain, he’s old news. They’ll never forgive Hillary, but I predict the Village will firmly embrace Obama, and that will make all the difference in the world.

Barack the Lover

This is another in my series of glorious posts that I wrote while commenting at other blogs which really needed to be told to you guys; an idea I explained here. As mentioned before, these are the kind of posts I write when I write quickly. This is in reference to a commenter at Carpetbagger's who suggested that Obama's nice guy routine might get him his ass kicked in the general election.

I don’t think so. First off, Hillary tried to go aggressive on him, and it bit her in the face. And that’s because he’s built a niceguy reputation that allows him to make the occassional jab without looking negative. And that kind of thing is actually much more powerful than the all-out assault that the GOP does. When you attack everything your opponent does, people stop listening. Even the wingnuts don’t even listen to themselves when they repeat the slurs. It’s the same kind of thing the Bushies have done with scandals: There have been so many scandals over the past seven years that they all blur together and you forget all the old ones. And so if McCain tries to play with Obama, he’s going to end up getting his nose bloody before you know it.

But beyond that, McCain isn’t allowed to make any attacks. Bush never did. Bush always went out of his way to praise his opponent, while his thugs tried to cut him off at the knees. And neither Obama or Hillary willl be able to make direct attacks either, and so it’s not a handicap if Obama can’t directly be rough. All the really matters is if you can get your message out for people to listen to, and Barack can do that. Heck, as long as he keeps making good speeches with nice soundbites, the media will be glad to play it. That was one of the big problems for Gore and Kerry, because they weren’t great speakers. But news ratings will go up when Barack speaks, and even local news will be glad to have real news that is also interesting.

And that’s how Barack will handle this. We don’t need a fighter, we need a lover. And people LOOOVE Barack. The wingnuts will naturally go apeshit, but nobody ever listens to them anyway

When Critics Attack

Sorry loyal readers, but I've been two-timing you and using my vast brainage to fight battles and whatnot at other blogs. And some of this stuff has been top notch and I shouldn't have denied it to you. In fact, the original purpose of this blog was to be a storage place for all the great comments I made elsewhere (hence the title of the blog), and so that's just what I'll do here. But as a warning, these aren't quite up to my normal high standards, as I really don't have the time it takes to rewrite these. These were written in the heat of discussion and might even contain (gasp!) typos. Enjoy!

This is in response to a Carpetbagger post regarding Paul Krugman's war with Obamaniacs.

There needs to be a name for this phenomenom, and perhaps there is, but I think a big part of Krugman’s problem is that when you criticize people like this, you get them mad and they come out in numbers, and as with any group, a certain percentage of them believe they can only be convincing through rudeness. And this reinforces the critic’s negative attitude about that group of people and when they criticize the group further, it reinforces the attitude of the group and they’ll complain in even larger droves. And somehow, the critic never realizes that the reason why this group is so mad at them is because of the criticism.

Similarly, they never receive this kind of hate from the people who agree with them, so they imagine that this group must be civil and sane. And the more these like-minded people defend the critic, the more sane and kind they appear. They’ll send encouraging words of praise and all that, so it appears that one side is insane and the other side is rational.

And maybe that’s the case and maybe not. But you can’t base a group’s sanity on whether or not they’re attacking you, but on what they’re saying. And you can’t base that attitude on the craziest attackers (which is almost always what they do) but on the group as a whole. In fact, it’s generally best to discard the craziest of the attackers, as there are crazies in EVERY group and you can’t fault the group for that. And sometimes, the crazies are just trolls looking for attention and sometimes they’re even people on the other team trying to embarrass their opponents by making them look bad. But instead, the people who stick in the critic’s head are the worst of the worst, and so the entire group is tainted by the actions of these.

But I’ve noticed this phenomenom for years. I think I first noticed it from uber-creepy Ann Althouse, who used this reasoning to determine that conservatives are kind and rational and that liberals are the only rude ones on the net; based entirely on the fact that only liberals attacked her. Joe Klein definitely suffers from it. Most media people are that way, in fact. But again, if you say something that angers a group of people and pleases another group, it’s really not a big mystery as to why you might get attacked by the one group or praised by the other. That’s just to be expected. Perhaps a good name would be The Self-Fulfilling Critic, though I’m not entirely pleased with that phrase. Perhaps someone else already has a better name for it.

But whatever it is, that’s what Krugman is experiencing. The more he attacks Obama, the more these people will attack him; but this isn’t necessarily indicitive of the Obama supporters. Krugman should try writing a bad column about Hillary to see if his theory holds up.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Useless Headline of the Day

AP Headline:
Clinton Says She Can Beat McCain

Wow. How surprising. Too bad Barack didn't say something like that. I guess I'll have to support her instead.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Hillary and the Sympathy Vote

I'll admit it: I go through moodswings. And for no good reason, I'm now feeling depressed that Hillary really might get the Dem nomination. Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike her. But I'm convinced that Obama is a much better candidate. And the reason why I believe that is the same reason why I'm getting depressed about it: Hillary is now firmly under attack and people are therefore feeling sympathy for her and want to defend her; just as they did with Bill.

While she was once running as the invincible fighting candidate, now she's the besieged candidate being wrongly smeared. And everyone's falling for it. And this is my exact problem with the Clintons: They don't play offense. It's all defense. It's all about waiting for their enemies to overplay their hand (which Republicans always do) and then counter-punching. But they seem to lack any follow through. Instead of taking the initiative, they sit back and wait for their enemy to attack again.

And that's why they're having trouble with Obama, because Obama isn't going to overplay his hand. But it looks like the anti-Hillary loons are coming out of the woodwork all the same, and people are rushing to her defense. And I'm sorry, but that's just retarded. That's one of the lamest reasons to support someone for president, ranking right up there with your desire to drink a beer with the person. This isn't a popularity contest or some high school anti-bully league we're talking about. This is the most powerful elected official in the world, yet people are going to base their decision on wanting to spite her enemies? This simply isn't rational.

Hell, I think the beer-drinking test is a better reason to elect a candidate, as opposed to the sympathy vote. At least we'd be basing it on how nice the person is; rather than on how badly they're being smeared. And I don't know about you, but I'd much rather have a beer with Barack than Hillary or McCain. Heck, while I'll vote for Hillary if she wins the nomination, I really can't imagine ever wanting to drink a beer with her, even if she was buying and it was the fancy German beer I like so much. Perhaps a good cup of coffee and a doughnut, but I really don't want to get drunk with her and I certainly don't want to see her drunk. Again, I'm sure she wouldn't be such a bad president, but she kind of weirds me out.

All Defense, All the Time

And this is exactly how things played out in the 90's; and Clinton Myths aside, the 90's sucked politically. I've been insulted repeatedly at Carpetbagger's for saying that, but it's true. While the economic boom was great, the Republicans kicked our asses in the 90's.

Sure, Bill saw many short-term victories pushing conservative policies and he remained popular, but in the meantime, we saw a tidal wave of conservativism wash over our country in ways that younger people can't even comprehend. While we remained a liberal nation, that term itself was considered a dirty word even by liberals themselves. I myself used to deny the liberal label, because it was so tainted. And I lay part of the blame for that on the Clintons, for their short-sighted tunnel-vision which made them act like "New" Democrats, which meant that nobody was defending traditional liberal values anymore. The fights were partisan, but not ideological.

But whatever we think of Bill Clinton and the 90's, he wasn't the Great Liberal Warrior. He won battles by adopting conservative positions and waiting for Gingrich and the other Republicans to overplay their hands. The whole impeachment debacle is the best example of that. Sure, Bill won; but he still got impeached. And it made his popularity stronger than ever, but that popularity was never used to help us. It only helped him play better defense against the goons attacking him; but there was never much offense at all.

Why Hillary?

And that's exactly where I see the tide turning now. Mean old Obama, who used to be too lightweight and nice to fight Republicans, is suddenly a big jerk picking on poor Hillary. And some of his supporters say rude things. And I'm afraid that might be enough. She decided to stop playing offense against Barack and is now mainly trying to rely on the sympathy vote; just like Bill did. And as long as her supporters act like the tunnel-vision fighters they appear to be, it just might work.

I've yet to see any satisfactory explanations to why they support her over Barack. Hell, yesterday one firm Hillary supporter insisted that her plan to get her legislation passed was to reach across the aisle and has proven as a Senator that she can be bi-partisan; despite the fact that she has been attacking Barack for weeks for saying the same stuff. Apparently, being nice and working with the other side only works if you're a fighter and everyone on the other side hates your guts. No, I don't understand this either.

I'm convinced that the primary reason many of these people support her is simply out of spite for the people who attack her. They've held this resentment since the Clintons left the Whitehouse and see this election as the the final blow to prove to the world that the Clintons won the 90's. I strongly suspect that's part of Hillary's motivation too. But her victory won't be the final blow. It's just the first step ensuring the rematch; allowing the Clinton haters another opprotunity to finally take out the Big Dog and his wife. They could have retired to peace, relaxation, and speaking tours; but instead have opted to get the last laugh. And now we're supposed to feel sorry for them. Great.

And I can't think of a worse reason to vote for her; yet I'm now growing worried it will work. Or maybe it's just a seasonal depression thing on my part. I've got a few big things going on in my life (positive things) and I think my karma's been thrown out of whack and is making me worry about this other stuff as a way of balancing out the good things. But if all goes according to plan, Barack will be winning several of the upcoming primaries and putting my worries to rest. Let's hope for that.