Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Future News We'll Never Get to Hear

Oil prices dropped below $1000 a barrel for the first time in six months due to President John McCain's confidence building speech.

Bin Laden's latest Terror DVD release hailed by Republican Party insiders as "the ultimate compliment."

Industry deregulation has created a new sort of tape that's only as sticky as you want it to be. Wonder Cardboard to be released shortly.

Global Warming Scaremongers: "Oops!"

Vice President Fred Thompson assured viewers of Meet the Press that AQI's assassination of Iraqi President Ahmad Chalabi was a sure sign that "the insurgency was in its last throes."

Pigs fly!! Pigs fly!!

Monday, July 28, 2008

John McCain: Republican Attack Dog

In politics, you know you're doing it wrong when the media writes that you're saying something, rather than writing what you're saying.  Like this Politico story, which showed on the Yahoo homepage as "In new tactic, McCain takes aim at Obama's character."  Now granted, I don't really think there's anything really new about this, and couldn't believe that they wrote that McCain is "uniquely qualified" to attack Obama as un-American and that Obama was "uniquely vulnerable" to it, just because McCain served in the military and Obama didn't.  Somehow, I don't remember things playing out this way in 2004.

But the main point is obvious: They're reporting about McCain and not Obama.  The article is about what McCain is doing, and that's not what he wants at all.  For an attack to work, it needs to be repeated.  But when the media just talks about the guy making the attack, it backfires.  Because for as much as political attacks really work, people still do think poorly of the people making them.

And in fact, that's one of the biggest problems for McCain with this attack: There really isn't any way for the media to report it as factual.  The Politico couldn't really write a story about how Obama doesn't care about the troops or cares more about winning the election than winning a war.  It's one thing when you're spinning what someone else said and getting the media to repeat it.  But there really isn't anything to report on this one, besides that McCain is saying it.  And that's just not how this works.

And as I've said before, the fact that McCain feels it's necessary to say these things directly is strong evidence that he's really desperate.  Apparently, the viral emails against Obama aren't enough, and Fox News and Rush just aren't doing the job.  Presidents are supposed to be above all this, yet here's McCain, slinging mud with the rest of them and looking petty the whole time.  I'm not sure if he's doing this because he's just getting angry or if it's because the Republican strategists who wants McCain to lose this election while crippling Obama are tricking him into it, but in any case, it's bad news for McCain.

Friday, July 25, 2008

World Citizens and the Lunatic Fringe Component

Just thought you should hear it from me first: I'm planning to give a speech in a foreign country before I become president, and for that, I apologize. If only Obama would do the same and resign...

And on the other side, I really think it's safe to say that John McCain must condemn people like Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh if he truly wants to run without a lunatic fringe component. These are the people that are dividing Americans along loony lines. It is not a stretch to say Bill O'Reilly is the new Jim Jones.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Economics for Aggies

There are some stupid people in the world. Yes, it's true. Here's an example from an article about the upcoming minimum wage increase on Thursday:

David Heath, owner of Tiki Tan in College Station, Texas, said the increase will force him to raise prices for his monthly tanning services by about 12 percent. Tiki Tan had been paying its employees $6 per hour.

"There just isn't any room for profit, and so this is why prices will have to go up," he said, citing the wage increase and higher fuel costs. "I have to recoup those costs."

But the thing is, you're not supposed to charge customers based upon how much something costs you. You're supposed to charge them based upon how much they'll pay. And so if this guy wasn't making a good profit, yet could make more money by increasing his prices by 12%, he should have done so earlier. And the only reason why you shouldn't raise your prices is if it would make you less money. That's just basic economics and anyone who doesn't know how to price their goods or services shouldn't be in business.

But of course, how does he know a 12% price increase will make him more money? He doesn't. Maybe his prices were already set properly and a price increase might just send him right out of business. He seems confident that this price increase is necessary to fix rising costs, but the truth is that he was just talking out of his ass. He's probably some Republican a-hole who just doesn't like the minimum wage and wants some excuse to tell his customers why he's raising the price. I mean, he's an Aggie, for christ's sake. Nuff said.

And while 12% sounds like a lot, I just found this dude's website, which says that their "most popular" tanning package is unlimited tanning for $19.99 a month. So we're only talking about $2.40 monthly increase for most customers. And again, if he could have made more money charging $22.39 a month instead of $19.99, he should have. This guy's a fool if he really believed a price increase could increase profits, but refused to do so. But again, we are talking about an Aggie, so I guess that really didn't need to be said.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Saving John McCain

Holy shit I've been busy. Not only have I been seriously neglecting you, my loyal readers, but I really haven't even been following the news much lately. At best, I've been just skimming the headlines of all the blogs I normally get stuff from and rarely read the full thing. But one thing has become crystal clear even from this light reading: John McCain is fucked. That's all there is to it.

And they tried, they really did. The McCain people has been putting out some well-coordinated attacks through their allies in the media, which in a different year would probably have been enough to bury the Democrat. But as usual, Obama has not only survived yet another blizzard of misinformation against him, it really doesn't seem to have affected him at all. We saw the same thing during the primary, where I'd get all worried about an onslaught of negative news slamming Obama, just to learn that he was about as popular afterwards as he was going in. As it turns out, people really like Obama. They really do.

But really, there isn't much that can save McCain. He was truly a lousy choice for them and I completely disagree with Josh Marshall's assertion that Mitt would have been "getting crushed" at this point. Mitt was their ideal candidate and I'd guess the guy to beat in 2012. Nobody would have given a shit about his verbal gaffes and he'd have been more likely to stay on script better than McCain, who still seems like he's just making this up as he goes along. Honestly, if you were a casting agent in Hollywood, you'd have certainly have picked Mitt to play the GOP nominee and wouldn't have given McCain a callback.

And I think that's just about the only thing that could have saved the Republicans this year. Reagan wasn't loved because he was a great president, he was loved because he looked like a great president. And McCain doesn't even look like he should be in politics. He only made it this far because the media loved him and now he's beginning to learn that even that wasn't enough. And so now he's getting knocked by Joe Klein as acting "shockingly unpresidential" while GOP hack Robert Novak describes McCain's manipulation of him as "reprehensible."

And this just isn't supposed to happen. But that's how desperate John McCain is. He's thrashing about like a fish out of water and can't even get the most basic of media assists to really work for him. But it's not going to work. The truth is that McCain really never was that popular. Sure, centrist-minded liberals liked to toss out his name as a way of showing how bi-partisan they could be and McCain didn't have huge negatives among a general population that didn't really know him well. But it never really was the kind of support you could build a presidential campaign on. The truth is that nobody really loved McCain; they just loved the idea of McCain.

And now McCain's finding that even the media is starting to turn on him. The more he presses the media's misinformation button, the less responsive they'll be. Because for as much as it seems that our complaints against them go unheard, they don't. When you complain about an egregious lie from a reporter, they might never admit they made a mistake, but it makes it a little less likely they'll do it again. And here we are in July and the media's already starting to push back against being McCain surrogates. Just wait until October, when they'll really be tired of all the angry rants McCain made them endure.

At least Bush had the advantage of keeping a chummy but superior relationship with them that allowed his people to pressure them into repeating lies for him. But McCain is supposed to be their buddy and nobody likes it when their buddy lies to them. And so McCain's campaign will continue to generate these misinformation blizzards, but each will be less effective than the last. Because it's not enough to slam Obama, who people geniuely like. McCain really needs to give people something to latch onto. But the longer this goes on, the less likeable McCain will be. But it's not just because the GOP has forced him to be wrong on all the issues. It's because people really didn't like John McCain that much to begin with.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

What Obama Will Do

Now that the presidential slogfest is fully underway and Obama is under constant pressure to perform at 110% at everything (successfully, I might add), I thought I'd just post a reminder of all of the great, great things Obama will do for us as president, as compiled by myself and in no particular order. Feel free to add any more in comments.

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 candidate I could name.

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.

Go Obama!!!

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Risks of Time Tables

For as much as Republicans have always insisted that using a time table for withdrawing troops from Iraq is a mistake, I've never really seen any sort of explanation on why that is.  It's always this sort of macho "Never let them know your plans" sort of thing, but that's total bullshit.  I mean, Saddam knew we were going in and that didn't help the guy at all.  And if it doesn't hurt us to tell them when we're invading, I fail to see why it's so horrible if they have a general idea of when we're leaving.  Particular not when they want to see us leave.  

And that's one of the weird things: Conservatives know that the people attacking us want us to leave, and yet they somehow imagine that us leaving would make these people attack us more, which forces us to stay longer.  The smartest thing the terrorists, and Al Qaeda Iraq, and the Iranians, and all the other bad guys could do is let us get the hell out of there as quickly as possible, so they could move in.  Nor would they want to bring the fight here to America, because that would just make us invade them again.  They want us gone, and the sooner, the better.

And really, this has got to be the reason why Republicans never actually explain the problems with time tables.  It's just this general assertion that is considered by them to be self-evident common sense, mainly because they can never really explain it.  It just feels right, because it must be right.  If this wasn't true, it'd undermine everything they say about Iraq, which is the precise reason they'll never even try to explain it.  It must be true.  

But as we all know, it's not time tables they're against, but withdrawing at all.  Either we're pulling all our guys out on the first plane out of the country, or we're stuck there for an unspecified time which will be far enough in the future that we can't set a date, but not so long that it sounds like a long time.  They know "one hundred years" is political-death for them, yet they refuse to rule anything out.  

Risks Explained

But finally, I thought I found some sort of explanation of why giving a time table would be bad.  It was an analysis piece from Jonathan Allen of CQ entitled: The Risks of Obama's Iraq Strategy.  Surely this would be the grand explanation I've been waiting for all these years.

But alas, for as much as I read the whole thing, it never really explained what the risks were.  It basically said that Republicans think it's a huge mistake, as well as some pro-war lefties (assuming the Washington Post and Michael O'Hanlon can be called "lefties).  It also mentioned that voter opinion is split as to whether time tables are a good idea, though a strong majority thinks the war is a bad idea.  And finally, it mentioned that this could be bad for Obama if things start to turn around in Iraq when he's pulling out troops.  And that's it.  That's all they wrote, and it mainly focused on Republicans asserting that it's a bad idea and that they'll attack Obama for it.

And so it looks like my quest to find out why time tables are dangerous isn't over yet.  I'm just seeing more of the same recycled pap asserting that time tables are bad, but no explanation for why.  But again, I guess that's really the point.  It's true because it needs to be true, not because there's any rationale to it.  For conservatives, truth is a luxury they often can't afford.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Meet Doctor Biobrain, Cheap!

Holy shit, I'm famous! It looks like they're having some big netroot shindig here in my hometown of Austin, Texas. And to think, I wasn't even invited! Hell, it looks like I've got to pay to get in. Me, Doctor Biobrain!! This is censorship of the worst kind, no doubt. To think, liberals being reduced to paying in order to gain access to important events. The shame of it all.

So hey, if any of you know of some sort of free event that you could get me into, or even better, sneak into a paid event, you might have the honor of meeting me, Doctor Biobrain. Trust me, it's worth it. I've known myself just about my whole life and it has definitely been to my advantage. Or hell, if you just want to buy me a beer somewhere, I could do that too. But I only drink good beer, so don't think I'm going to let you off easy with some cheap domestic crap. I'd prefer something dark and German, but don't we all. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

McCain Rules of Knowledge

John McCain has inspired me. I just read about how McCain has taken a "Never Done" situation and turned it into a "Has Accomplished Repeatedly" simply by claiming that it's true. And that's just awesome. Once upon a time, people needed to have actually done something before they could claim that they can do it again. But no more. Now it's enough to say that you know how to win wars, even if the only war you were personally involved in is considered to be a embarrassing failure and you spent most of it as a POW being tortured.

And sure, he never actually says that he knows this from experience, but that generally is the way that people feel confident in claiming that they know how to do something; you know, because they actually have done it. But the Rules of McCain now say otherwise. You can now claim to know how to do something based entirely on your desire for it to be true. And so that's why I've decided to get into the Space Race. Sure, I've never actually been in space or have any direct knowledge as to how it really works, but...I know how to win the space race and that's all that matters.

And so I'm hoping to get your support on this, financially speaking. Just a back of the envelope guesstimate shows that I need about one trillion dollars to get started on this, and for that I'm counting on you, my loyal readers. And sure, I sort of doubt you've ever raised that kind of dough before, but now that I'm writing that you know how to do it, the rest should come easy. After all, it's not necessary to actually do things, just as long as you say you can do it. And who knows, maybe it's actually true. That'd be great.


I swear, I really wanted to finish this post. I really did. I haven't been writing much lately and thought this would be the one. Well, I ran out of time and want to go to bed. So here's another unfinished post. Deal with it.

The fact that I ever have to hear about Michael O'Hanlon is proof positive that our political system is still very screwed up. Every time I read any story about him, all I can think about is how I can't believe that I'm actually reading about him. But then the next thing I know, I'm reading yet another story about O'Hanlon that was about as embarrassing as the previous one. Not that I blame the people writing about him, and hell, while O'Hanlon really should have slinked back to wherever it is they pulled him from, I guess I understand how someone could be shameless enough to continue advocating moronic policies. The big question is alw

And honestly, under what scenerio would it make sense for us to stop following the time table to withdraw from Iraq? Because sure, what if the whole shitheap starts flaring up into an even bigger shitheap when we start to leave? Is that reason for us to stop pulling out? Of course not. The whole reason we were leaving in the first place is because the place is a shitheap that won't let us go. So under what logic would we use increasing violence to stick around when it was the very reason we were leaving in the first place?

And honestly, I've never understood exactly what was so dangerous about letting our enemies know when we're leaving. I once asked that question on a conservative blog and this nutbag commenter could only repeat some toughguy nonsense about never ever never ever never letting your enemy have any piece of information about you at all. And so it was just a general principle that you shouldn't let anyone know that you're leaving. And that was the best I got.

And really, conservatives don't want to have an honest discussion about this. It's all about the fearmongering for them. They don't care if it's true. They only care because they scared someone. A 16-month drawdown is suddenly recast as the last chopper out of Baghdad, with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard hoisting OBL on their shoulders and rubbing our noses in it. And that's it. It's either that, or we stay until the end of time. There are no other possible scenerios.

And they won't even listen to anything else. They can't. It's their way or the highway and that's all there is to it. But don't you worry, if we pull-out and Iraq eventually does pull out of this, you can certainly bet they'll be right there to take all the credit for it.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Lessons from Conservatives

A few things I learned from the conservative commenters at No Quarter, (via Lawyers, Guns, Money).

Irony is dead if you're a conservative.

Reverend Wright is up for election in November.

It's not a mistake to confuse satire for sincerity; it's "double satire."

"The republicans are happily waiting until it will be too late to nominate Hillary and than they will come out with their ‘canons’."

"Obama represents all the thugs and Gangsta rappers that are making America an ugly place."

The phrase "“I am just messing with you" will haunt Obama forever.

Conservative freaks have no clue what scandal will rock which candidate.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Corporate Masters Unite!

I'm not sure why, but conservatives have really made a lot with the "Trust our Corporate Masters" meme. I understand why they say it, but I just don't understand why anyone listens. Of course some big muckamuck for Big Corp Inc. thinks he should be allowed to do just about any damn thing he wants, and it just makes sense that the Cheneys of the world do what they need to in order to get ahead. I understand all that.

But the big question always has been: Why should Joe Schmo Limbaugh Listener agree? What's in it for them? They're never going to be in the big corporate seat calling the shots. They're basically handing over any control of their lives to some shadowy group they'll never be a part of. We're simply to trust that corporations fulfill their basic requirements to society, rather than allow us to use the government to limit corporate interference in our lives.

Even the idea of forcing corporations to obey the same sort of laws us citizens do (eg, no littering) is supposedly so onerous that it's simply more preferable to allow them to make this shit up as they go along, rather than have any sort of enforcement mechanism whatsoever. It's good for GM to ship thousands of jobs out of the country, so it's good for America. Case closed. And why does this happen: Because GM made crappy cars that people didn't want to buy, and rather than improve the quality of their product, they decided to pay people in another country less to build them, which is likely to reduce the quality of the already crappy car. And for that, we give these people raises.

And so now we're supposed to rely upon these corporate wizards to help steer our country through harsh economic conditions, placing infinite trust in their infinite wisdom; yet we know for a fact that many of these over-paid boobs couldn't fix their bottom-lines any better than they could fix their own asses. Too many of them have short-term solutions to long-term trends and couldn't see the writing on the wall if it was written in their own blood. For every Bill Gates and Warren Buffet out there, there are thousands of do-nothing corporate execs who imagine that "Do what the other guy did" is some grand mantra of success. No one ever got fired for buying IBM, and all that.

Flat-Footed Fools

And in the current case, I'm talking about the Big Three automakers and their sudden rush to get a fuel-efficient car on the road as quickly as they can. Now look, this is the very shit liberals have been pressing for for years and were told that we were dangerous commies for even suggesting that we could regulate fuel efficiency and whatnot. But now we see that these guys were totally caught flat-footed and completely blew this basic issue.

And what's worse is that this wasn't an unpredictable situation. Could they really have imagined that oil prices would never go this high? Even if it wasn't now, they would have been just as flat-footed in 2010, or 2015, or whenever this happened. Did they really imagine that the oil would last forever? And why not get the ball rolling on this? Is it really impossible to imagine that people might have liked this technology even with low gas prices? It's not like nobody was talking about it. They fought us on this...for decades! And now they're yet again behind the curve and desperately playing catch-up.

And sure, it's expensive to introduce new technology. But they were going to need it anyway, so it just made sense to do it. And hey, if they really got a big breakthrough, they'd have a good marketing tool and could really get ahead of the game. Is it that they had some deal with the oil companies, like they're getting kickbacks or something for keeping fuel efficiency low? I fail to see how this one made sense. And hell, if they were smart, they'd have produced more of these minimal gasoline models long ago and then just jacked-up the price of gas. Instead of paying $50 for 13 gallons of gas, you'd pay $30 for 2 gallons of gas, and it'd last you just as long. Sure, that doesn't help the consumer out much, but I think it would vastly improve the profitability of gasoline.

But no, they all preferred to keep their heads in the sand. They're a sort of monopoly and as long as none of them were really working on a fuel efficient car, everything's fine. And they fought us on this. They thought it was fine to get a public blackeye for stopping legislation to raise fuel efficiency, a popular measure that Americans wanted. Anything to avoid doing what they're now wishing they had done two years ago. But of course, that's what these people always think, because they're always two years behind the curve.

Human Error

But it's not just them. They're symptomatic of basic human incompetence. And I'm not attacking them in this. People make mistakes. Corporations are big things and things don't always work the way you plan them to. Honestly, I'm pretty sure if you put me at the helm of some giant corporation, I'd struggle too; and I'm a CPA who's worked in the business world for many years. I'm not here to blame them for being imperfect and I definitely approve of the basic corporate structure and the idea of people pooling resources to create something bigger than they could alone. I'm all for that kind of thing. I'm just pointing out the absurdity of allowing these guys to do whatever the hell they want to, as if we should assume these guys know what's best for all of us. And if they want to use dangerous chemicals in our toothpaste or untested heart medicine on the market, who are we to say otherwise? After all, it's only our country, but it's their money.

They can't run their own companies properly, yet we're going to allow them to create ad hoc policies on pollution, labor laws, and whatever the hell else they want to control. And hell, I don't even blame them for wanting this. I suppose if I could get my life tailor-made the way I'd want it, I probably would. No, the real problem is that anyone thinks it's a good idea to give it to them. Individuals who imagine that we need to protect powerful corporations from a government that is trying to protect the individuals from the powerful corporations.

It's really quite sad when you think about it, all these conservative individuals devoting their lives to the pursuit of being screwed-over by Corporate America. People who get angry just thinking about how all those cruel environmentalists won't stop victimizing Big Oil. And that's the part of this where everything falls apart. Especially as these people don't really give a shit about Big Oil at all; they just hate us liberals. They hate that there is this group trying to do these things and they don't care what it is; they've just been told to oppose it and that's good enough for them.

And honestly, even contrarianism has its place. It's good for society to have opposing viewpoints and diehards who are utterly convinced that their eyes are lying to them. The problem comes when these people are actually put into positions of power, when they're actually expected to do things. That's where it all falls apart. It's good to have a little ballast on the fringe weighing down the other side; just as long as they stay on the fringe. Corporate America gets to combine together to push their agenda, just as long as the rest of us still get to push ours. And that's what good government is all about.

Fist-Pumping Polluter

Conservatives are weirdos. And part of their weirdness is that everything has to be filtered through their preferred storyline, and some specific side-effect of what is being discussed is far more important than the overall intent of what is being discussed. And so if they're in negotiations in something and don't have all the cards, it pisses them off and they take the attitude that you're unfairly screwing them over. Not because you did anything against them, but simply that they don't know how to negotiate if they aren't in the position to put the screws to you. That's really their only move.

And so I suspect that helps explain Bush's juvenile "world’s biggest polluter" fist-pumping grin. He's not really proud of being a polluter, but rather, he thinks this whole debate is just a big power play to screw America and doesn't like that he's trapped into it. To him, this isn't about Global Warming or pollution or any other direct thing like that. This is about other countries trying to screw America and him not being able to do anything about it. Not that he's doing this for America's, but merely that he doesn't like that he's being pressured on this.

But it's not just Bush. This is a big reason conservatives hate acknowledging Global Warming. I'm not referring to the conservative riff-raff, who hate Global Warming because that's what they're told to do. But the bigwigs largely hate it because it can put them in a bad spot. For these people, the main focus on every issue is "How is this screwing me over and how can I get it to screw over the other guy." And that's pretty much it. And until they figure out a way to screw over Global Warming at the negotiation table, they'll be content with just screwing all of the rest of us over instead.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Fourth of Obama

I spent the Fourth of July with my folks, and if there's one thing I learned, it was that Republicans really don't know much about McCain, but they've been assured they shouldn't like Obama. And isn't that what it's really all about?

The funny part was when I was accused of only supporting Obama because I hate McCain so much, but I don't mean funny "ha ha". I mean funny sad. It's sad that the best the Republicans can do to even have a fighting chance is to fool the people they need the most. But isn't that always the way?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Substance Abuse

I support Barack Obama because when he gives a speech at a stadium it reminds people of Adolph Hitler. Plus, he's always reminded me of a young Jesse Helms. But mainly the Hitler thing in the stadium. That's totally Obama.

Update: Nevermind. Turns out that Obama doesn't have any pets and I've got a bunch of cats and fish, so I can't vote for Obama. Sucks to be him.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Fourth, Y'all

Just wanted to drop a line to say that I am NOT dead. I was just out of town over the long weekend and really didn't get much computer time at all. I'm planning to write about how great my Fourth was, including pics of the fireworks. But I'm too busy doing stuff right now for that, so I'll just say how much I love this country, in case I forget to write about what I wanted to write about. And honestly, while there's more to this country than just liking fireworks, fireworks sure are awesome.

Deep Thought of Patriotism:
If God didn't love America, he wouldn't have invented fireworks.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

How McCain Stopped the FARC-ing Bullshit

Some things are just too incredible to believe, and Carpetbagger's got one of them. Regarding the hostage rescue operation from FARC rebels in Columbia, CB writes:

Fox News, in an apparent attempt to make itself appear even more ridiculous than usual, told viewers that McCain’s visit to Colombia may have been related to freeing the hostages.

The claim is so absurd, even the McCain campaign wouldn’t make it.

Oh, please. Like we're supposed to believe that these people were held hostage for all this time and it's pure coincidence that they got rescued at the same time McCain happened to be in the country. Right. What's next, we're to imagine that the Iranians hadn't pissed themselves when they realized Ronald Reagan was their new arch-enemy, and were just tired of holding the hostages? Puh-leeze!

The reality is that people like Reagan and McCain come from an earlier, tougher generation which really knew how to deal with bad guys. And it wasn't by serving them tea and crumpets. It was about walking tough and talking tougher, and knowing that bad guys will pee themselves when they realize they're facing a tough walker-talker. And Senator John McCain is the toughest walker-talker we've got.

How He Walked Hard

And so what else can we imagine other than that McCain infiltrated the FARC camp in the dead of night, put a Bowie knife to the chief terrorist's throat, and told him to "Stop the bullshit." Oh yes, I know that's speculation. It might have been the real Rambo's knife, or possibly even a regular Ginsu he used as his steak knife on the way there. Who knows, the knife's not important. But we know McCain's a tough talker and already got a glimpse into his "Stop the Bullshit" method of dealing with bad guys. And that's got to be the case here, per Occam's Razor. If hostages get released at the same time John McCain is nearby, the simplest explanation is that John McCain freed them with a really big knife and some tough talk. There can be no other explanation.

And let's face it, John McCain is a humble man of humble origins and people of his generation never ever never like to brag. They may save the world from evil-doers, but it's all in a day's work. And so it's no wonder the McCain campaign hasn't tried to make some big hoohaw about all this, as it'd probably just embarrass the guy. Same thing with Reagan when he slipped into Soviet Russia after his presidency ended and personally defeated Communism by beating the Kremlin at arm-wrestling and a drinking competition (he also used the "Stop the Bullshit" line, but only after he defeated them). Sure, he could have bragged to someone about it, but that'd have only cheapened his victory. He did it for America; not personal glory.

And so that's what's really going on here. McCain even asked me to not say anything about it, but I really had to set the record straight after Carpetbagger smeared him so badly. Right is right, and if we can get a president who can fix every conflict in the world with a little straight talk and a big knife, perhaps we might think about electing one.

Carnival Time

Guess what time it is, folks: You got it, time for the latest Carnival of the Liberals carnival. this time the 68th edition. And what else could that mean, other than that I won...yet again. This time, for my awarding winning post: What I Learned From Rush Limbaugh.

And so check it out, people. Maybe you'll see something you like. maybe something you'll love, or maybe you'll just read a bunch of dumb posts that make you wish you were reading another one of mine. That's what always happens to me, anyway. But your mileage may vary.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Fighting the Bad Fight

Another odd feature of the current Clark-McCain dust-up (besides that many liberals who say we should never play defense now want Obama to play defense), is that the folks denouncing Obama for this act as if this is a betrayal of liberalism or something. I keep reading about how this is "politics as usual" and whatnot, as if Obama chose politics over policy.

And yet...isn't this strictly an issue of politics? Is there some liberal policy agenda that says we always have to insist that military service similar to McCain's isn't a qualifier to be president? Of course not. This is strictly a political debate. It's about whether or not Obama should have supported or rejected Clark after he got attacked for a political statement. The only possible betrayal here was of Wesley Clark, not liberals. So why are some liberals so up in arms about this?

I suspect it's because they've been waiting for Obama to betray them, just as they always expected him to. Just as they know all politicians will. And now they're wringing their hands over this supposed betrayal of the cause. But as I suggested in my last post, the real betrayal here is to the people who think a liberal president should always bash the shit out of the Republicans. Sure, they insist that bashing be legitimate and without cheap smears, but if they see a hit ready to be made, they want to make sure it's made. No pulling punches. Ever.

Hillary the Fighter

And that's what the real betrayal here is about. It's not about policy at all, but about politics. They want Obama to treat Republicans just as the Republicans treat us, and anything short of that is a sell-out. But of course, even this isn't the end-all issue they're acting like it is. They're merely taking this as a sign of who he really is. They expected him to either fight every fight strong, or he's being a defensive "pussy." There is no middle ground, and each fight he backs off from is another sign of weakness.

But you know what? I don't want a candidate who fights every fight. That was a huge huge HUGE HUGE HUGE blunder Hillary made. You bring a fight to her, and she'll find a way to win it. And each fight is won in its own specific way. And before you know it, you've got a candidate that's got their hands in half a dozen contradictory battles. One week Hillary's saying that Obama's too weak, and then complaining that he's too mean the next. She's invincible, and then she's crying. One week she's the policy wonk on all the issues; the next, she's gassing up pick-up trucks, drinking shots in bars, and trying to sell McCain's gas tax "holiday" that even voters weren't dumb enough to believe.

And all this adds up to be a huge problem for Hillary: Who the hell was she? Sure, she might have won a few news cycles with this stuff, but overall it just dragged her down. Because she didn't have a real narrative. She had no big picture. No story to sell. Just a whole bunch of conflicting snapshots that left her looking desperate and lost. Sure, she might have looked like a fighter, and she might have won a few battles, but what was she fighting for besides the victory?

And that's what you get when you decide to fight every battle. Defeat is never an option, but if you don't get to pick your fights, then you have to pick your weapons. And that means you're going to have to shift all over the place and sell everything out to win every battle. That's just how it works. But...if you only pick the fights you think you can already win with the weapons you have, and know how to decline battle in a way that doesn't look like you've even engaged in it, then you can keep true to an overall narrative while still having something good to say against your opponent. And you lose a lot fewer battles.

Obama Wins!!! Obama Wins!!!

And the more I think about it, the more I realize that Obama's move was totally and completely right. My initial instinct was to call it a big blunder and thought Obama had really hurt his campaign. And I bet that was the same feelings most liberals have. Clark's statement was totally correct, so screw the media for trying to suggest otherwise. Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead.

And I think that's exactly what Republicans were counting on. For as much as bloggers like Digby see this as part of the age-old Republican strategy to bitchslap Obama and make McCain immune on that subject, I don't think so at all. I think they were just going for a quickie smear on Obama, figuring that Obama would act like the rest of us and go on the defensive to help Clark. And the Republicans were all geared up for it. Obama was about to walk into a media ambush that McCain's campaign quickly organized and McCain was going to get a big boost. Finally, he'd have something he could talk about safely.

And the best evidence to suggest that Obama did the right thing is McCain's reaction. Were he trying to make himself immune on the subject, he'd have accepted Obama's rejection in order to make the point that even Obama wouldn't dare say such things about McCain. But he didn't. Instead, McCain kept acting as if Obama had defended Clark. Obama zigged when he was expected to zag, and McCain was caught flat-footed and could only go through with his initial plan. And rather than reading about how Obama is smearing McCain's military service, we're reading about McCain complaining about a vast Obama conspiracy, and that's not where McCain wanted this at all.

Acid Chess

And so I think Obama did the absolute right thing. This was a set-up. An ambush. And the longer Obama tried to defend Clark's statement, the worse things would have gotten. Even in 2012, we'd have to explain how this episode didn't prove that Obama hates veterans, and the conservatives we were debating would call us idiot traitors for it. And I doubt Obama's campaign set this up or even saw this coming. I think they've got a standard procedure for dealing with campaign fights they weren't ready to win: Decline battle. You shouldn't bet if you don't know the score, and that's exactly what Obama did here.

And that just makes sense. As a commenter mentioned tonight, politics isn't tennis. It's chess on acid, and I agree with that completely. You don't need to win every skirmish or return every shot. And in this case, it's all for nothing. Nobody will vote for McCain because of his military experience. Nobody. The only real casualty here is Wesley Clark, and he seems to be handling himself fine. And if Obama had defended him, they'd both have gone down together. This is how elections are lost and I'm glad Obama did what he did. It was counter-intuitive, particularly after all the fights we've been through, but it was the absolute best thing to have done.

This was a debate we wouldn't have won. And now that it's ending, McCain is back to where he started from: No platform, no momentum, and no plan. He was hoping to smear Obama as being anti-military and is already back to looking clueless. And that's exactly how it should be.