Tuesday, September 30, 2008

So, you've probably all heard that the bailout failed yesterday. I don't really have a position on it - I can't support it just because Obama does (if you know me, you know I'm not that kind of voter), and, like John McCain, the economy has never been my strong suit. So I'm not sure how to feel about this one. On one hand, you can see the effect the bill's defeat had on Wall Street yesterday, and that alone is scary. On the other, last time the Bush administration told us that a bill had to be passed without delay or thought, we ended up with the PATRIOT Act.
After a little Googling, I found a good article from the New York Times explaining it all:

The Wall Street Bailout, Explained

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Last night's debate.

Did anyone else have the phrase "Main Street not Wall Street" running through their dreams last night? Regardless, it was certainly the cliche of the night.
Will McCain's obnoxious little chuckles become the new "Al Gore Sigh"?
Maybe more on the debate later. For now I'm headed to the farmer's market to pick up stuff for the menu tonight. I think I'm going to take the day off. See, I have to go to Washington and fix the economy.

Friday, September 26, 2008

This pretty much sums it up.

And from the flip side:

Good news - the debate will go on! Thank goodness for DVRs, because I've got to go to work. Busy weekend coming up, then to New Glarus on Sunday for Oktoberfest (if you had my job, you'd LOVE company outings).

Thursday, September 25, 2008

John McCain needs a time out to get back to Washington and help with the economic crisis.
It's not at all because the election is slipping out of his reach and neither he nor Palin are ready for the debates. No, it's because he's a Real American Hero (TM) and we need to put politics aside to help the American people.
Seriously, Senator, how dumb do you think we are?
According to fivethirtyeight.com, "morning after" polls have found Obama's lead growing from +4 to +6 (Research 2000) and +2 to +3 (Rasmussen). Don't screw with our debates.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Exhaustion sets in.

Hi everyone. Boy, am I tired! It's not over yet.
I apologize for my absence, but I've been working 12 to 13 hour days every day over the past week - with two more to go before a day off. It's been tiring, but really good and a lot of fun, oddly enough.
I'll do a real post sometime soon. For now, it's off to work.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

It's been a busy week, yes, I'm still alive.
Keep yourself entertained with Tina Fey as Sarah Palin on SNL:


Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I don't feel like doing a real post today. Over the past week, I've highlighted a lot of political stuff, full of links, videos, and all the rest.
But today...I turned on the tv to catch the rest of Prison Break and saw everyone's favorite Alaskan governor on MSNBC. Of course, I happened just to turn it on as she was repeating that tired line "On that bridge to nowhere...I said, 'thanks...but no thanks.'" Watched a minute and a half of last night's Countdown, couldn't do anymore.
I'm just tired. I've come to terms with the fact that I'm a political junkie, but today I'm not feeling up to it. All of the lies, the half-truths, and the plainly irresponsible, malicious, and dishonorable campaigning by the McCain side have really gotten to me today. And I can't handle it right now.
So, congratulations, all of you. I'm officially exhausted by the 2008 election. Less than two months to go. I'm sure I'll be posting more about it later, or tomorrow, or in a couple of days. But today's a great day to ignore all of the top stories that aren't really top stories - just the reiteration of the same. The sun is shining, there' s a cool breeze in the air, and I have errands to run.
Another post may be coming later today - with the kinds of links and videos I used to put on this blog.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Quick pre-work post of political projections.
Much has been said about so-called swing states. Obama's getting excited because it suddenly seems that Florida and Virginia are in play. McCain may still be focusing on Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Iowa. Most people think the current "swing states" are Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Minnesota, Missouri, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida. I think that the numbers will stay fairly consistent until November - so here's my analysis.

To the Dems - Minnesota, Colorado, New Mexico, Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire.
To the Reps - Nevada, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida.

Mark my words and so forth.
If this plays out as I'm predicting, the Democrats will win narrowly - 273 to 265.
Just thought I'd share.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Politics free. I promise.

Well, kindof.
The only somewhat-politics I'll deal with in this post is a New York Daily News fluff piece - apparently, even John McCain will be voting Obama. (Yes, of course there's a catch - just click the link.) Of course, this John McCain is a musician out of Brooklyn, and actually bears a slight resemblance to Senator Obama.

According to a Japanese expert on North Korea, Kim Jong-Il has been dead since 2003, and a team of lookalikes has been fooling the world ever since.

Cubs manager Lou Piniella and first base coach Matt Sinatro tried to drive from Chicago to Cincinnati for their matchup against the Reds this weekend. They got all the way to Pennsylvania before they realized they'd driven too far.

And, the Bears beat the Colts last night! I bet the restaurant's going to be dead tonight thanks to the Packers' opening night.

'Til next time...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

It's a decent little Sunday so far here in Madison - 65 degrees, intermittently sunny, breezy, a windows-open-with-a-pot-of-coffee-and-the-newspaper sort of day. Wood Brothers/Common Market/Blue Scholars on the iTunes, baseball and football on tv...and of course, I'm (somewhat) working, trying to come up with a draft for the restaurant's eighth anniversary dinner in two weeks, and being more or less tied to my phone and/or computer as the boss and I attempt to brainstorm over email.
I'm getting annoyed with Blogger. (Yes, Google, I'm talking to you.) As I briefly mentioned yesterday, the formatting just sucks. Copying and pasting is a hassle, and if I italicize, sometimes it doesn't understand when I say I want to turn the italics off. There's workarounds for most of the problems, but sometimes I have to throw my hands up and say "forget it" (like yesterday's post).
Did you really think you were getting a politics-free post? Good luck with that. Today it's just a copy and paste from, again, Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo - here's the link to the main article - "Not Training Wheels We Can Believe In:

There's a lot of complaining that the McCain campaign won't allow anyone to interview Sarah Palin. And for the major news outlets that would be in line for such an interview there's a logic to keeping up the drumbeat. But McCain campaign manager Rick Davis is right: It's their campaign to run. They can do it how they want. Everyone else should just shut up, stop complaining and call the reality for what it is.

Davis says Palin won't give any interviews until she feels "comfortable" giving one. And this morning he added that she wouldn't give any "until the point in time when she'll be treated with respect and deference."

Sarah Palin could be the President of the United States in four and a half months. We tend to think of this as an abstraction; but it's true. And yet today she's so unprepared and knows so little about the challenges and tasks facing the country that she can't even give a softball interview.

That's really all we need to know. Yes, she's off being prepped at some undisclosed location. And I've little doubt that by the time her debate rolls around she'll be sufficiently pumped full of slogans and bromides to make a show of it. But now, this moment, is the one that tells us all we need to know.

As is so often the case, Palin is the incarnation of the Republican slurs. The darling of the hard-right; she gives a stem-winding speeches. She pushes all their buttons. But she's such a lightweight, they can't risk letting her answer a few questions. Not even on Fox. They know she's not ready and probably never will be. But they think the politics might work for them.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Moar Newwwwws!

Attempt at a quick pre-work post:

Backlash on the maybe-or-maybe-not-Walter-Reed-mixup.
From Talking Points Memo reader SR:

I hope you are penning something to this effect: that the Walter Reed mix-up last night is indicative of GOP politics and policy-- that is, injured troops are merely political props, and even then the GOP can't get it right. If they can't get the actual Walter Reed up on screen as a political ploy, how can we possible expect their competence in addressing the needs of actual veterans at the actual Walter Reed?

Also from TPM:

Principal Donna Tobin of Walter Reed Middle School:

"It has been brought to the school's attention that a picture of the front of our school, Walter Reed Middle School, was used as a backdrop at the Republican National Convention. Permission to use the front of our school for the Republican National Convention was not given by our school nor is the use of our school's picture an endorsement of any political party or view."
Los Angeles Unified School District Board Member Tamar Galatzan:

"Though I am flattered that Senator McCain chose to use a school from my district as backdrop to his remarks at the Republican National Convention, I wished he had checked with me first. As a strong believer in public education, I don't think the Senator is the most appropriate person to showcase one of the premier schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District. He is unwilling to bring fairness and equity to No Child Left Behind and ensure that schools like Reed get the resources they need from the Federal Government. From what I've heard, that's not a priority for the McCain/Palin ticket."

(I'm having formatting issues, bear with me...)

In her acceptance speech, Sarah Palin said, "That luxury jet was over the top. I put it on eBay." True, she did. But McCain mixed up his facts on the issue when he said, "You know what I enjoyed the most? She took the luxury jet that was acquired by her predecessor and sold it on eBay — made a profit."

In fact, while the luxury jet was put on eBay, it didn't sell there. It instead went to businessman Larry Reynolds for $2.1 million - a half-million dollar loss.
Links are here and here.

Palin is being accused of intentionally stalling the Troopergate investigation, apparently hoping to hold it off until after the election.

And Palin's acceptance speech may have energized the Republican base, to the tune of $1 million in donations. But it rallied Obama supporters even more - ten times more, to be somewhat exact - as the DNC counted $10 million in donations after that speech.

Done with politics for this post - it's links time!

From the Telegraph, 20 memorable doctored photographs.

A kid from Australia RickRolls his school ten times a day, after (apparently) winning a contest to choose the school's bell:

And check out Dark Roasted Blend's photograph collections - namely Shipwrecks and Sea Disasters and The Most Alien Looking Place on Earth.

Friday, September 5, 2008


I'm going to start off politics-free today. Go figure.
I keep meaning to share this, but I've totally forgotten about it until now.

United States researchers have finally figured out the trick to invisibility. The article, for all of you linkophobes:

Scientists at the University of California in Berkeley have engineered a material that can bend visible light around objects. This development could soon result in technology that can render tanks, ships and troops invisible to the eye.

Results of the US military-funded research are expected to appear in the scientific journals Science and Nature this week.

According to a report in the Sunday Times, this breakthrough follows earlier work undertaken at the Imperial College in London that achieved similar results with microwaves. Like light, these are a form of electromagnetic radiation, but their longer wave-length makes them far easier to manipulate. Achieving the same effect with visible light is a big advance.

The head of research, Professor Xiang Zhang, said in the case of invisibility cloaks or shields, the material would need to curve light waves completely around the object like a river flowing around a rock.

In essence, an observer looking at the cloaked object would then see light from behind it, making it seem to disappear.

Substances capable of achieving such feats are known as metamaterials, which get their electromagnetic properties from their structural mix, rather than directly inheriting those of the substances composing them.

They have the power to grab electromagnetic radiation and deflect it smoothly. No such material occurs naturally and it's only very recently that molecular engineering has advanced sufficiently to give scientists the opportunity to create them.

Not since Project Rainbow, when in October 1943 the US Navy rendered the destroyer escort USS Eldridge invisible to human observers for a brief period, has such a breakthrough in light-refraction stealth technology been made. Of course, that last bit's complete nonsense.

Cool, huh?

Are you tired of my politics talk yet? (Although I hear a resounding chorus of "yes" out there, too bad. Go write your own blog or something.)

First, FiveThirtyEight.com is, as of this moment, giving Barack Obama a 71.8% chance of winning November's election. More specifically, in Nate Silver's enigmatic formula (of combining current polls and voting trends), followed by 10,000 computer simulations, Obama wins the election 7180 times, winning 310.6 electoral votes, and 50.2% of the electoral vote. (Note - many people read this last number as a "virtual tie," but remember, the electoral college is what matters, not the final percentage. As we all remember from the 2000 election, a candidate can lose the popular vote while still winning the election - and according to Silver, there's a 4.84% chance this will happen to Obama, and a 3.83% chance this will happen to McCain.) More can be found on the method here. This is obviously good news for Democratic voters - preconvention numbers showed his chances at just over 50%. Of course, we have yet to take into consideration any possible "bounce" from the RNC, but my (nonpartisan) guess is that we won't see much of one (maybe a point or two), mainly because the "big speakers" McCain, Palin, and Giuliani really spoke more to the GOP base rather than doing anything to swing undecideds into their camp. We should know for sure the effect these speeches have had by Monday, I think.

Yesterday was a day of unfortunately placed headlines and screen captures. If I may:




Look Ma, no Photoshop!

So McCain gave his acceptance speech last night - blah, blah, blah, Republican talking points, all rhetoric, no policy. (Although I DID learn that he was a POW back in Vietnam. Did you know that? I had no idea.)
It was very "huh?" for all of us watching on television. He appeared to give his speech, yet again, in front of another green backdrop - which, as you may remember, got him in trouble while he clinched the Republican nomination a couple months ago. The audience was left to wonder - even Karl Rove mentioned it on Fox.
But as the camera panned out, the backdrop began to make more sense - or did it?


What is that building, and what relevance does it have to McCain's acceptance speech?
A bit of digging by the folks over at Talking Points Memo may have solved the mystery. Could it possibly be?
Yes, the building was (quoted from TPM):

"actually the main building on the campus of the Walter Reed Middle School in North Hollywood, California...several readers have suggested that perhaps one of the tech geeks charged with setting up the audio/visual bells and whistles for the evening was tasked with getting pictures of Walter Reed Army Medical Center but goofed and got this instead. At first I thought, No, that's ridiculous. This is a major political party with big time professionals putting this together. Nothing is left to chance. I mean, is this the RNC or a scene out Spinal Tap or Waiting for Guffman? I still have a bit of a hard time believing they're quite that incompetent. But when you figure in what appears to be the utter lack of any logic for this school being behind McCain and the fact that it has 'Walter Reed' in its name, I'm really not sure you can discount this possibility.

(ed.note: Special bonus snark: That's not stock photo keyword searching we can believe in.)"

Thursday, September 4, 2008

This is so sickening, I don't want to even post it, but I really feel like I have to say something of this outrage.
This video was shown as a "Tribute to 9/11" during the Republican National Convention tonight. For what purpose, who knows. It seems pretty obvious that the RNC was hoping to exploit our fears of terrorism and turn them into votes (if Giuliani's constant "9/11 9/11 9/11" wasn't making it clear enough).
This is repugnant. Disgusting. Repulsive. I could go on and on with synonyms, but you get the point.
Here's the video. The first 2:52 is the supposed "tribute," and then Keith Olbermann's response:

"Ah, I'm sorry, it's necessary to say this and I wanted to separate myself from the others on the air about this. If at this late date any television network had of its own accord shown that much videotape and that much graphic videotape of 9/11, and I speak as somebody who lost a few friends there, it - we - would be rightly, uh, eviscerated at all quarters, perhaps by the Republican party itself, for exploiting the memories of the dead and perhaps even for trying to evoke that pain again. Uh, if you reacted to that videotape the way I did, I apologize, uh, it is a subject of great pain for many of us still, and was probably not appropriate to be shown."

From the YouTube description:

This "tribute" which served to only throw fear into the political discourse and frighten voters was shown at the 2008 Republican National Convention. Keith Olbermann spoke for many of us at the sickening images used for political gain.

From the Boston Globe blog:

One of the most enduring taboos in American politics, the airing of graphic images from the September 11 attacks in a partisan context, died today. It was nearly seven years old.

The informal prohibition, which had been occasionally threatened by political ads in recent years, was pronounced dead at approximately 7:40 CST, when a video aired before delegates at the Republican National Convention included slow-motion footage of a plane striking the World Trade Center, the towers' subsequent collapse, and smoke emerging from the Pentagon.

The September 11 precedent was one of the few surviving campaign-season taboos. It is survived by direct comparisons of one's opponents to Hitler.

Contest of the Day

From Slate.com, it's the contest to name Bristol Palin's baby!
From the link:

On Monday, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin shocked the political world with news that her 17-year-old daughter Bristol is five months pregnant. While the political ramifications of the pregnancy are much disputed, one thing is perfectly clear: Bristol’s baby will be born into a family with thoroughly weird names. Bristol’s siblings are named Track, Willow, Piper, and Trig; Sarah Palin and her husband Todd were inspired by a variety of sources. Track is named after the sport, a family favorite. Bristol is christened after Bristol Bay, a preferred family fishing spot. Trig, the family says, is derived from the Norse for true or strength. Willow is the name of a community in Alaska. And Piper—well, as Todd Palin told People, "There's just not too many Pipers out there and it's a cool name." (If you don’t find those speculations satisfactory, Andrew Sullivan posted speculation from two readers that Willow and Piper are named after TV witches; that’s been more or less debunked.)

Reader contest alert: With all this intrafamily competition for unique names, Bristol Palin and her husband-to-be, Levi Johnston, need your help. Send your baby name ideas to trailheadcontest@gmail.com or post them in the Fray by 6 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Sept. 3. Please write your suggestion for the baby’s name in the subject line of the e-mail or the Fray post, then include a sentence or two about its derivation in the body. (E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Goodbye, summer.

At least, it feels like it. We got our (hopefully) last 90 degree day yesterday here in Madison, a day which was dedicated to sitting in my apartment with the blinds closed and the fan on "high" watching baseball and movies. Overnight the temperature dropped like crazy, so I'm actually wearing a sweater and putting away hot coffee without feeling slightly dehydrated.
Hope you all had a good Labor Day weekend. Like I said, mine was really nothing exciting, but it was much better that I relaxed rather than running all over the state/Midwest.
Just got an email from Moveon.org. Go here and donate $12 or more to the Obama campaign and they'll send you a t-shirt. It was just about time for me to donate anyways, and I like getting things in the mail, so I've got mine on the way.


Pretty snazzy, right? The fight for the White House isn't over yet by any stretch. Donate as much as you can if you believe in a restoration of progressive values to our nation's government.
If you're unfamiliar with moveon.org, visit their website and watch the video:

In other news, Senator McCain has pulled out of an interview on Larry King Live after Campbell Brown eviscerated his spokesman Tucker Bounds on the experience question this weekend. It's a bit frightening that he has absolutely no response to this. Of course, they have complained that Brown's interrogation was "over the line;" CNN disagreed, saying they're "committed to covering both sides of issues." I see nothing "over the line" with Brown's interview - these are questions that deserve, no, need to be answered if we're going to elect a president on a little more than "Just trust me, I got it, I got it."
And, as you all have heard, the GOP convention is being cut short this week, presumably out of respect for victims of Hurricane Gustav. Whether this is sincere or an attempt to make a political statement out of a (possible) national tragedy has yet to be seen. Regardless, the McCain camp has to be very careful with this issue. The senator could win this battle and see a bounce for putting "America First," but it could also easily go the other way. If McCain is viewed instead as exploiting a tragic event for political purposes, it could be the last nail in the coffin for the GOP in 2008. I'd assume the plan is to give his acceptance speech among the devastation - and the next week will tell us if McCain has successfully navigated this tightrope.
Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Palin Drama continues.

There's so much news today I can hardly keep up - but we're going to try.
Whew. I don't even know where to start. Shall we?
The evidence that McCain didn't properly vet his VP nominee is really piling up. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the campaign admitted McCain had only met Palin once, and had a "lengthy" phone conversation with her. Then, after campaign manager Rick Davis claimed that they had an FBI background check done on Palin, the FBI promptly refuted the statement. Now the LA Times is saying that "A GOP source with close ties to the campaign said that McCain aides "vetted her through Google and clipping services."
The Huffington Post is reporting that the McCain campaign has sent a team of "a dozen communication operatives and lawyers to Alaska", although, if senior adviser Steve Schmidt is to be believed, "the campaign always planned to send a "jump team" to the eventual running mate's home state to work with the nominee's staff, help with information requests from local and national reporters, and answer questions about documents that were part of the review."

Despite the supposedly thorough vetting process, there's a lot of stories coming out revealing things that may hurt the GOP in November, continuing the trend of John McCain's attacks on Barack Obama being rendered practically useless.
Yes, we're going to back to the big "experience" question. Both Tucker Bounds and Rep. Stephanie Bachmann were ripped on CNN this weekend (by Campbell Brown and James Carville, respectively) for McCain's choice of a VP with even less than experience than Obama:

And Palin has hired a lawyer for the "TrooperGate" investigation.
And she was a member of a "fringe Alaskan independence party."
And she admitted that the war in Iraq was fought over oil.
And she's "so focused on state government, she [hasn't] really focused much on the war in Iraq."
Despite her lack of knowledge and focus on the Iraq situation, Republicans have claimed that her executive decision making (as governor of Alaska) has helped prepare her for the White House, mentioning that she's in charge of the Alaska National Guard (something, they're quick to mention, Barack Obama has no experience with), and believe that this gives her "national security experience." But hold on just one second. Again, from the Huffington Post:

Maj. Gen. Craig Campbell, adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard, considers Palin "extremely responsive and smart" and says she is in charge when it comes to in-state services, such as emergencies and natural disasters where the National Guard is the first responder.

But, in an interview with The Associated Press on Sunday, he said he and Palin play no role in national defense activities, even when they involve the Alaska National Guard. The entire operation is under federal control, and the governor is not briefed on situations.

I feel like I'm missing something here.
Oh yeah, Palin's 17 year old daughter Bristol is five months pregnant.
I'm not going to make a big deal about this, because all in all, it isn't. I'm not going to get into the drama and gossip about whose baby Trig actually is (Google it if you want, but I think it's a lie, so that's all I'll say). But I will say that it affects the campaign in a couple of ways. First, it directly contradicts Palin's argument that "abstinence works," hence, we shouldn't be making sure kids understand how to stay safe if they don't choose to stay abstinent. Second, although the McCain campaign says they knew about Bristol's pregnancy before Palin was announced as the VP nominee, it casts a shadow of a doubt (among all of the other evidence piling up) that, as we discussed already, the vetting process wasn't as thorough as he'd like us to believe - which therefore becomes an extension of McCain's policy, proving (in a sense) that he's one to rush to judgement and make too-hasty decisions.
Obama's response, while speaking in Milwaukee yesterday:

"Let me be a clear as possible: I have said before and I will repeat again, I think people's families are off limits," Obama said, "and people's children are especially off limits.
"This shouldn't be part of our politics," he continued, "It has no relevance to Gov. Palin's performance as governor, or her potential performance as a vice president.
"And so I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories," he said. "You know my mother had me when she was 18, and how a family deals with issues and, you know, teenage children, that shouldn't be the topic of our politics and I hope that anybody who is supporting me understands that's off limits."

A classy response, but obviously, one that's politically motivated, as it just looks bad to slam a candidate's family. It's the proper response, too, because he understands that the media will say enough about this story, and it won't do his cause any good to respond to it.

Anyways, it wouldn't surprise me if McCain has used the media to conduct his vetting process - in the next week, we very well may see Palin step away from the campaign with the "spend more time with my family" line, now that the national opinion on her seems to have been taken.

This is exhausting me, so it's time to go do something else.