Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Annals of Poor Spending Decisions

The Clinton campaign has spent a lot of money on bad advice:

About $15 million — or more than half of the New York senator’s January spending — went to a cadre of high-priced consultants. Though much of the cash went through the campaign media buyer for ad time, the considerable payments to outside consultants mark an increase in a pattern that has irked campaign insiders. From the beginning of the race through the end of last month, Clinton paid the consultants $33 million — nearly one-third of the $105 million spent by the campaign.

Spending 1 of every 3 dollars you have on people who apparently support you to begin with probably isn't a good allocation of resources.

A List of Lists

20 Favorite Film Nerds of the '80s

Top 25 Band Logos of All Time

8 Breath-taking Monasteries from around the World

The Top 7 Cinematic Fashion Trends We're Glad Didn't set Hollywood Ablaze

The 15 Most Bizarre Animal Mating Rituals

Unfortunate "That's What She Said" Precursors in Casual Sports

MRAP Contract Oversight

POGO wants an investigation into how the contracts were awarded.

Getting a Little Ahead of Ourselves

A SurveyUSA poll available at Pollster.com:

McCain 49, Clinton 42... Obama 52, McCain 42


Man, Ohio and Texas have some really funky ways of apportioning delegates ...

Jersey Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

How to wrestle away an endorsement in the Garden State.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


I don't know what the spiritual significance of this photograph is -- or if there is any to begin with, but it's still pretty cool.

[via Alterdestiny]

Wisco Primary Postmortem Reader

"White Men Jumped" by John Dickerson.

"The Collapse of Hillary" by Michael Crowley.

A quick look at Obama's demographic successes.

Obama would win a head-to-head match up with John McCain in Wisconsin, according to one poll.

"Denial is No Substitute for Victory" by A.B. Stoddard.

Dick Morris: "There has never been a run-up to a critical primary with less focus and discipline on the part of one of the candidates. It is as if the Clintons are above management and won’t submit to common-sense suggestions from their obviously cowed staff."

From TAPPED: "The loser of the Wisconsin Democratic primary got twice as many votes as the winner of the Republican primary. (440,000 for Clinton to 220,000 for McCain)."

Make up your mind, Noam: Hillary should have committed to a Wisconsin race sooner vs. Wisconsin may not have been so favorable to Hillary, after all.

"How Obama Won Wisconsin" by Edward McClellan and Jay Cost.

Matt Yglesias has a cool county-by-county map of the results, which he ganked from the Journal-Sentinel. Here's Nicholas Beaudrot's version.

Dick Poleman: "Obama can now plausibly argue that he has national appeal; that he can win in northern swing states (Wisconsin), bellwether midwestern states (Missouri), and diehard Democratic states (Maryland), and even red states that are trending Democratic (Virginia). He can argue that his strength among independents and white males, combined with his apparently growing appeal to core Democratic voters, would make him the more effective November candidate. He can even point out, in the days ahead, that Ohio's demographics are roughly the same as Wisconsin's."

Mikey Kaus on why losing Wisconsin may actually be good for Hillary.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Local Press Corpse

I tend to believe that when the NW is at it's worst, it's not because it's bias, but rather incompetent -- though the disparity in quality between the two photo galleries chronicling the biggest day in Oshkosh-related politics is enough to make me reconsider ...

On the one hand, we have the Sen. John McCain's thing at EAA: 70 minutes and well-attended by about 700 people. This yielded 41 pictures, over half of which were of the candidate himself.

On the other hand, there was Sen. Obama's deal at Kolf: a 45 minute stump speech heard by over 9 times the number of people as McCain's event, yet which produced a photo gallery consisting of 10 -- and let me spell that out just in case the concept of Arabic numerals escapes anyone -- ten photos, none of which were of Sen. Obama.

Perhaps the NW should stick with displaying pictures of cute babies.

BELATED RETRACTION: Alas, I got way ahead of myself on this one. Saturday's print version was filled with several wonderful pictures from both events that didn't seem to make it online.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


This can only be a sign that the NW has simply given up.

Doing Anything Friday?

Because you certainly have your options if you want to play hooky ...

Quick question: McCain is now the mathematical GOP nominee, someone who could probably just coast through the rest of the primaries. You'd think he would at least take a few days off after a brutal eight month stretch ... So what's he doing running around Wisconsin -- a state that was going to vote for him anyway?

More importantly, where the hell is Hillary? Recent polling suggests a good size lead for Obama, but not one that can't be overcome with a good fight. We know she really wants to debate (again) Obama in Milwaukee, but it seems she doesn't plan on doing much herself here in the meantime, leaving the state to her surrogates while she stumps in Texas.

I just don't get it, really. This is almost exactly what Giuliani did -- downplay the importance of losing state after state while concentrating efforts on one distant prize only to discover that a long losing streak is almost unrecoverable.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Annals of Poor Word Choices

In today's NW:

"The Air National Guard comes to town and says (to the council), "We are
going to do this anyway so sign on,'" she said. "They told me they have a good
neighbor policy. They want the council to take responsibility for something (the Air National Guard) doesn't want to take the flack for."

(emphsis added)

Saying that anyone serving in the armed forces is unwilling to take flack -- which looks and sounds an awful lot like "flak" to me -- is pretty ridiculous.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Deez Nuts

I've expressed my mixed feelings about Family Guy before, but today I was watching a few reruns and caught something I hadn't seen before:

Does Peter Griffin actually have balls on his chin?

I'm sure there's plenty of internet analysis on this subject, but I haven't the patience to sift through it.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Saturday, February 9, 2008


Conservative extremism -- and is there anything else to call it? -- is dead.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Romney's Done

He's giving what sounds like a cheery concession speech on the TV right now.

John McCain will apparently not be campaigning here in Wisconsin over the weekend.

Clinton Senior Staffers "Voluntarily" Working Without Pay in February

Like I said yesterday, this was the first sign that tipped us off to Rudy's impending demise. It also follows what will likely be a day of bad fund-raising news, Mark Penn's bone-headed gaffe, and now news that Clinton is looking to engage in more debates with Obama.

No one ever asks for more debates from a position of strength, it's always from a position of weakness.

The Best House of Pain Reference You Will Ever see in the Economist

Right here.

Headlines of the Damned

Today's edition of Headlines of the Damned is brought to you by the Ottawa (KS) Herald:

The only thing less vaguely racist than the headline is the actual op-ed itself, which is a masterpiece of blind paranoia.

This has been another edition of Headlines of the Damned.

This is Getting Out of Control

Yesterday I wonder what the hell was going on with Hillary's finances, and this morning everyone and there cousin seems to be blogging about it (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here).

But now there's word coming out that Clinton may have pulled in $4 million just in the last 24 hours ... which would normally be jaw-dropping if Obama didn't collect $6 million during the same time period.

MORE: And the money just keeps on coming in ...

A Romantic Film Starring ... Vladimir Putin?

Sorkin meets Eisenstein, perhaps? The only thing more puzzling than the premise is the extremely off-putting title.

Oh, No He Didn't!

I will lather myself in mayonnaise and dance naked like a fat chick named Amber 'round the most visible flagpole in Menominee Park on the Fourth of July if this works:

This one is worth keeping an eye on, because we'll be hearing more of it in the days ahead. In the Clinton campaign conference call I mentioned below, Hillary pollster Mark Penn repeatedly said Obama was becoming an "establishment candidate" -- a rather strained effort to use Obama's high-profile endorsements to weaken his insurgent appeal.

MORE: What Beaudrot said.

Zell on Earth

Total Daily Show rip-off, but whatever ...

Joe Lieberman gets his "superdelegate" status stripped because of ... Zell Miller!

I actually thought it would have been because he is technically now a member of a third party, but since we are talking about Democrats here, anything is possible.

[via Eschaton]

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Classic Onion Material

"World Leaders Gather To Roast Mahmoud Ahmadinejad"

More Patriots Schadenfreude

Again, suck one New England:

MORE: Oh, sweet Jesus!

Was Super Tuesday Actually Fatal for Clinton?

I'm kinda leaning toward "yes" ...

I thought it was odd that Clinton seemed so eager to give her thank you speech so early last night. Usually it's a good idea to build some suspense and drama by letting the losers get their speeches out of the way. It just seemed so ... out of place. The conventional wisdom was that there were neither winners nor losers last night -- if anything, Clinton might have been able to claim a big PR victory with her solid win in California, but I think she had addressed her supporters before the results came in. Maybe she thought speaking in prime time would give her more visibility. I don't know ... it has a very forced feel to it, not unlike her concession speech in Iowa.

With the notable exception of New Hampshire, Hillary seems to careen through these primary nights listlessly almost like -- and I realize this is a weird analogy -- the ghosts in The Sixth Sense who don't realize they're dead yet. Sure, last night wasn't a knock-out, but this fight is clearly taking the wind out of her and Obama's strategy of "Clinton Attrition" is really taking a toll on her.

And now today there seems to be several indications that the Clinton camp is in serious trouble. When all the math is finally tabulated, Clinton will likely be ever so slightly behind in the delegate count. On top of that, she's in for a very long month. And here's the real kicker: money.

Last month when we noticed that Rudy Giuliani's senior staff was going to not accept paychecks we immediately started the Rudy Death Watch. Clinton's problem isn't that she can't raise money, it's that she's not raising enough. She was simply blown out of the water in January by Obama and the kind of people that have contributed to the Illinois Senator -- small donors who are no where near maxing out the legal campaign allotments -- can be tapped again and again. That's going to be a daunting thing to overcome.

I'm not ready to whip out the tarot cards just yet -- Rudy was a bad candidate running an awful campaign, Hillary's a decent candidate running a very solid campaign. But the longer this goes on the more likely it is that Hillary just won't be able to keep up.

MORE: See what I mean?

I'm Taking this Guy to Vegas with Me

The American intelligence community's problems may be legion, but predicting the outcome of football games is not one of them. Here was DCI Gen. Michael Hayden's SuperBowl prediction:

Giants, 28-24. The spread favors the Pats, but careful intelligence work looks beyond the obvious. The Giants are hot now. Three playoff wins on the road (like the Steelers before Super Bowl XL). Regular season finale shows they match up well against the Pats. Besides, nobody's perfect!

The "nobody's perfect" bit at the end was a nice touch ...

Other notables who have good football instincts: Soul singer and Psychic Friends Hotline pitchwoman Dionne Warwick, Dolph Lundgren (no joke), Pat Robertson (yes, that Pat Robertson), Miss USA (but not Miss America), and Placido Domingo.

Afghanistan's Economy Diversifying

Already the supplier of 90% of the opium on the planet, the country will now be the world's leading producer of marijuana.

Take that, Amsterdam!


Alex Knapp & Dayo Olapade get the 'they aren't gonna matter' ball rolling.

Headlines of the Damned

Today's edition of Headlines of the Damned has been brought to you by FOX 5 in Washington, DC:

This has been another edition of Headlines of the Damned.

[via Althouse]


From the Hotline:

Notice the background behind Mitt on the TV reads "BROKE."

Sykes gets Kantian

Chuck says conservatives are "breaking down" (his words, mind you) into four groups that are somewhat analogous to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross' five stages of accepting death.

A Point That's Kinda Hard to Disagree With

From the Annals of Improbable Research:

I saw a commercial for a birth-control pill called “Yaz” — they use the theme song, “We’re not gonna take it!” which seems kind of counter-productive for a pill.

Adventures in Evocative Headlines

"Fired-Up Drinkers for Obama Yell at T.V. Hillary"

Today's Ash Wednesday

Time to read some T.S. Eliot.

The UWO Vote

The NW has a brief piece on voting at UWO today, citing the following turn-out numbers over the last three election cycles:

Registered voters: 4,177
Voters: 1,095

Registered voters: 5,964
Voters: 2,779

Registered voters: 4,167
Voters: 1,767

The charticle says these are the numbers for the city's 7th district, but here's the thing: not all students live in the district (though, admittedly, many, if not most, do) and, most importantly, not all students are registered here in Oshkosh. Many could have decided to vote locally and are registered in their respective home towns. I, for example, never voted once in the city I where I went to college because I was too busy voting absentee here (I never actually went to a polling place until well after I was of legal age).

The moral of the story is: I've never been satisfied with the accounting method of the "student vote" in this country. This isn't just a NW problem, but a problem across the board. According to the number above the turnout rate at UWO has been 26.2% (in 2002), 46.6% (in 2004), 42.4% (in 2006). These numbers seem low to me, especially since Wisconsin apparently has the 2nd highest turnout rate among "young voters" in the country.

Looking at figures from a specific district may give someone the ability to judge "youth" turnout by extrapolating from the set of numbers of students who actually did register in the district, but I've always been weary of this kind of data, if for no other reason than my own personal experience. There really should be a better way of accounting for the student vote. In my heart of hearts, I think it's the University that should be responsible for this type of information (theoretically, they should be able to find a statistics professor, or something, that could pull these kinds of numbers together on a regular basis). That way UWO could also try to make a big deal about constantly getting voter participation up among the student body.

But that's just me.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Haley Barbour Blows

The current Governor of the mediocre state of Mississippi, and uber-lobbyist, was just on MSNBC and was basically begging to be the VP pick to the eventual nominee ... and boy did he suck!

Barbour is worthless. Stop putting him on TV.

That's Right, the British are Pussies!

Shorter Bill Wigderson: ... And that Churchill guy was a total homo.

Citizen Rush

The internets are abuzz today with news that Rush Limbaugh has essentially told Bob Dole to stick it after the former Senator asked him to lay off the criticism of John McCain. More than a few people (and here, and here) have noted that Limbaugh has a lot to gain if McCain is either not the GOP nominee or if his White House bid fails and that din is only going to get louder the further off the party reservation Limbaugh goes ...

Limbaugh is something of a Frankenstein made by the GOP in so far as he is something the party has built up and now no longer can control. A McCain victory means one of two things for Rush: 1.) he's not as influential as people think he is, or 2.) his message of conservatism is not as influential as people think it is. Either one is a losing proposition for Limbaugh, which can only mean this ridiculousness about "backing" the Democratic candidate by him and the rest of his talk show ilk is about little more than self-preservation.

It's also a helluva lot easier being a conservative blowhard when all you have to do is complain about the person in power instead of having to defend him (or her).

The GOP's relationship with Rush is something Republicans are going to have to figure out on their own. It is no longer a mutually beneficial partnership, but is now a liability. Rush seems content to blame John McCain for the party's inevitable failure this fall, but -- and this is important -- the decline and fall of the Republican party is primarily due to one man: George W. Bush.

Like it or not Bush is the most conservative president in living memory. Let no one tell you otherwise. People who say Reagan was more conservative are people who can't remember what they ate for breakfast this morning. Bush will be the human embodiment of conservatism for at least the next generation and his legacy will be one that is completely rejected by the American people this fall. Just look at the six remaining presidential candidates: not one resembles Bush in any way -- even McCain, who had to swallow hard to support Bush after 2000. Even Romney, who's all about "change" this week. There is simply no positive spin one can put on Bush's presidency. Bush's presidency been a colossal failure.

Most of America knows this. If you want to know the most telling numbers in the Republican party, here they are: Only 33% of all Americans approve of Bush right now, but an astonishing 71% of Republicans still approve of him. That's a staggering disconnect and is emblematic of just how out of touch the GOP is with the rest of the country.

This means that the nation wants something new. They are not happy with this whole "conservatism" business. Now the "movement conservatives" have been arguing (and will continue to do so) that what is needed is more conservatism. That's not how it works. Right now the public is under the impression that Bush is about as conservative as they can handle and since they are displeased with the results they're going to want to shift course and move in another direction. That means the GOP is going to have to moderate itself or face the prospect of irrelevance in the years to come.

I doubt Limbaugh is either aware of this or cares -- he and the rest of his talkers are all looking out for themselves. The frightening thing is that I'm not sure anyone in the GOP punditocracy is aware of this. Right now conservatives seem to be in that phase of decline wherein they simply refuse to believe that they were actually the responsible for their own downfall. We didn't lose Iraq, we were "stabbed in the back." We can't get our people elected because our donors aren't giving as much as they used to and people are retiring. And -- this is my personal favorite -- of course we're losing, the public schools have been indoctrinating our children to be Democrats for the last generation!

Well, thank God they're teaching the kids something! Man, if they could have only indoctrinated me into the mysteries of Algebra maybe I wouldn't have failed that class ... twice.

In other words, it's everyone's fault but the conservatives'. That's just not true. In fact, it's probably almost completely the fault of the conservatives for taking the party so far to the right that most Republicans (especially here in Wisconsin) seem more focused on purging the "RINOs" from their midst than actually winning elections.

This is no time for witch hunts. If I were the Republican Party I would go to bed thanking God for every last person who still called themselves a Republican and wake up every morning willing to everything short of sexual favors to keep them happy ... OK, maybe some sexual favors, but a line would definitely be drawn somewhere. After all, moderate Republicans, those who don't buy into the conservative wing and are never going to, have only one other place to go ...

The GOP has to convince Rush and the like-minded conservatives he represents that they are in serious jeopardy of spending the next generation in the political wilderness. The GOP actually needs to learn from the Democrats. After the 2004, after they invested so much hope and energy into toppling Bush, the Democrats spent the next few weeks crying and drinking, but by the time 2005 started they were ready to do some serious soul searching. With a few notable exceptions, they didn't blame their defeat on the courts or on voting machines, they blamed it on themselves. They went to work trying to figure out what they did wrong and what the GOP did right and by the time 2006 rolled around they were ready for action (with a lot of help from a hapless Republican party).

Hard-core conservatives don't seem like they're ready to do this any time soon and so long as they are unwilling to re-evaluate themselves they'll have a front row seat to watch the end of their empire.

Dr. James Dobson: Royal Prick & Ex-Power Player

Dobson, pissed because he can't change the rules in the middle of the game and appoint a "real" conservative to be the GOP nominee, has taken his ball and gone home:

But what a sad and melancholy decision this is for me and many other conservatives. Should John McCain capture the nomination as many assume, I believe this general election will offer the worst choices for president in my lifetime. I certainly can't vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama based on their virulently anti-family policy positions. If these are the nominees in November, I simply will not cast a ballot for president for the first time in my life. These decisions are my personal views and do not represent the organization with which I'm affiliated. They do reflect, however, my deeply held convictions about the institution of the family, about moral and spiritual beliefs, and about the welfare of our country.

Yeah, these opinions are my own and don't reflect my organization blah blah blah ...

The really outrageous thing about Dobson's obstinacy is that by saying he's going to sit this one out he is essentially recommending that his followers do the same. Or, to put another way, he's telling people that voting is pointless and that -- at least this time around -- our democracy is not worth participating in. Now, if anyone actually came out and said that they would be criticized to within an inch of his or her life, but Dobson will likely get a pass because, he's just "talking about himself," of course ...

Anyway, it's been a lot of fun, Evangelical voting bloc -- sorry you won't be joining us for the rest of the trip. We'll write you a letter should we ever feel the need to hate on the Gays or something.

Dirty Trick of the Day

Smear Cinema.

It Wasn't Me, Baby, it was My Brother that got Married ...

This has to be a finalist for the best lie ever given to one's mistress. It's just a small pay-grade below "It was my evil twin."

Headlines of the Damned

This edition of Headlines of the Damned has been brought to you by the Bismark (ND) Tribune:

Sinners speak out for Hillary?

This has been another edition of Headlines of the Damned.

Bill Belichick -- Suspended for Next Year?

Crossing fingers:

ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio reports that, if it turns out that former Patriots employee Matt Walsh has in possession video of the Rams’ final walk-through practice from Super Bowl XXXVI, New England head coach Bill Belichick will be suspended.

For a year.

[via KSK]

You Know Who Might be Able to Shed Some Light on the Complexities of this Election? Brittany Spears' Grandfather.

Wink, wink, nudge, nudge:

We asked Grandpa Spears what he thought of Sen. Barack Obama, and let's just say, ahem, his views are consistent with many white Southern gentlemen of his generation. Moving swiftly on!

[via the Superficial]

New Stephen Malkmus Album

Out March 3rd.

Scotch! Scotch! Scotch! Scotch! Scotch! Scotch! Scotch!*

Man, I've heard of people campaigning in bars before but never this much:
A state assembly candidate’s treasurer is accused of spending the campaign’s war chest at a Manawa tavern.

David F. Asman, 60, Manawa, in a criminal complaint filed Jan. 28 in Waupaca County, is charged with 11 counts of theft and one count of unauthorized use of campaign funds.


Murray discovered in July 2006 that Asman had been writing checks from the Hyde Murray for Assembly account to the Thunder’n Bar in Manawa, usually in amounts of $50. In all, about 26 checks were written totaling $1,285, according to the criminal complaint.

Even after the account was closed and Asman fired as treasurer, he continued to write checks from the account, prosecutors say. After the account was closed, he cashed five additional checks totaling $300 at the bar. The five checks all bounced.

Murray raised and spent $2,181 during his unsuccessful campaign, according to campaign finance reports.

The bar’s owner told the Manawa police chief the checks were “cashed so that he (Asman) could drink.”

When confronted by police and asked if the expenditures were for campaign purposes, Asman replied “yes, to use the term liberally.”

(emphases added)

Hysterical! If I did the math right, then 59% of this guy's campaign coffers went to paying his treasurer's bar tab -- and you gotta love the way Asman just played the whole thing off like it was a legitimate work-related expense!

Oh, it's stories like these that warm the cackles of my heart!

[via Todd O'Henry]

* Sorry, I'm on a Will Ferrell kick of late.

Dinesh D’Souza: A Real Get!

Jo Egelhoff passes on the joyous news that Dinesh D'Souza will be speaking at the AFP conference next weekend. Here are some reviews of The Enemy at Home, which was written by D’Souza:

Dean Barnett, Townhall.com:

"First, a disclaimer – I love making fun of lefties. As a matter of fact, the interests I list on my MySpace.com homepage are extreme sports, getting ink done and slagging on liberals. So you might think that Dinesh D’Souza’s new book, “The Enemy at Home” would be right up my alley. Quite the contrary, I found “The Enemy at Home” to be intellectually obtuse, poorly informed and, most importantly, an irresponsible exercise in putatively conservative bomb-throwing."


"I pray that the superficial and inaccurate ideas set forth by D'Souza are taken for the folly that they are."

Daniel Pipes:

"I have been appalled by the thesis of his new book, The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11."

The Washington Post:

"The result is the worst nonfiction book about terrorism published by a major house since 9/11 ..."


"With a few exceptions, such as Kathryn Jean Lopez at National Review, prominent conservatives have excoriated D’Souza’s tome."


"The heart of D'Souza's book isn't his libeling of the American left, but rather his libeling of the American right."

The Boston Globe:

"Far from becoming a favorite title on the right, D'Souza's book has produced a furious response from many conservatives, who feel that it carries liberal-bashing so far that he appears to endorse Osama bin Laden over Hillary Clinton."

The International Herald Tribune:

"His new book, 'The Enemy at Home,' is filled with willfully incendiary — and preposterous — assertions that 'the cultural left in this country is responsible for causing 9/11'; that the left is 'secretly allied' with the movement that Osama bin Laden and Islamic radicals represent 'to undermine the Bush administration and American foreign policy'; and that 'the left wants America to be a shining beacon of global depravity, a kind of Gomorrah on a Hill.'"

Michael Berube:

"According to D’Souza, 9/11 was brought to you by people legitimately outraged by the sexual liberty of women, gay marriage, birth control, and no-fault divorce. Not to mention Bill Moyers."

Alan Wolfe, the New York Times:

"Susan Sontag never said we brought Sept. 11 on ourselves. Dinesh D’Souza does say it."

The Seattle Stranger:

"Promoting his tract on TV, D’Souza has consistently softened and misrepresented its message. His January 28 reply to critics, which ran in the Washington Post, is a masterpiece of dissembling: he complains that Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert hounded him with the question 'But you agree with the Islamic radicals, don’t you?'—but fails to mention that he finally replied 'Yes.'"

Well done, AFP -- with reviews like these, D'Souza must have been hard to schedule ...

Why not just invite Kevin Barrett?

Monday, February 4, 2008

Vote Obama

This blogger did (last Tuesday), and so should you.

Six Word Motto

A few weeks ago we noted a British attempt to come up with a six-word motto for their motto-less country ... and to hilarious results! Well, now the chaps at Freakonomics are doing something similar and thus far the results are pretty amusing. Some highlights:

Hubris: it's not just for the Greeks!

Enlightment scientific rationality meets puritan morality

Intelligently designed to constantly evolve.

“When in doubt, whip it out!”

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Democracy.

USA - “That hot girl who ignores you”

“Can’t we all just get along?”

Bold Leadership for a Brighter Yesterday

“Do you want fries with that?”

One Nation. One God. Screw You.

Like Ancient Rome, with flush toilets.

Yo, Ahmadinejad, You Talkin’ to Me?

Equal Representation*

*Offer void in D.C.

Many more after the link.

Me vs. You (Goals vs Ideas)

On Saturday I caught a glimpse of Clinton and Obama stumping on the trail via CNN. Hillary was in California spending a lot time talking about health care, while Obama was in Minnesota giving his usual aspirational pep rally -- plenty of message reinforcement, not so much on policy detail (later that night I caught him give a similar speech in St. Louis).

The contrast in style was as sharp as one could draw: Clinton was relying on her mastery of policy issues to argue that what was needed for universal health care to be accomplished in America was a good strong fight against the pharmaceutical and insurance industries and she was the one who could take them on.

As does frequently happen when Clinton talks about health care, something she's obviously knowledgeable of, she mixes her wonky side with a little of the political knife-fighter in her. Here's what she said during a presser aboard her campaign plane afterwards, much of which was rehashing the rhetoric used during her stump speech hours earlier:

I think my strong advocacy for universal health care puts me in a much better position to take on John McCain. You know, John McCain’s going to get up there and say, ‘I have a health plan, it’s going to cover a lot of people. How many is your plan going to leave out?’ ‘Well, I don’t know, more or less than your plan.’ That is a losing argument for Democrats. As you’ve heard me say, I’m not running for president to put Band-aids on problems, if it comes to universal health care, I think it would be a real mistake for Democrats to nominate someone who has already given up on universal health care.”

(emphases added)
[By the way, as I've noted in the past, this is probably not a winning issue for Clinton, or anyone else for that matter, to base a campaign around.]

Obama, on the other hand, evoked the name of the late Paul Wellstone (as anyone visiting Minnesota would be wise to do) and then said something that immediately caught my attention -- Wellstone, Obama said, was "a guy who helped to create a movement here in Minnesota, because he believed in you the way I believe in you." (emphasis added)

Now, hold everything for a second.

As soon as I heard that I went digging through some old copies of the New Yorker. The contrast in styles between these is perfectly captured in a -- of all things -- cartoon caption used to illustrate this great and illuminating article by George Packer:

To Clinton, the Presidency is more about achieving goals than about transforming society.
That should be apparent just in that brief paragraph cited above. In just a few sentences she talks about herself five times and seems to argue that her health care plan is better simply on the basis that it covers more (or, in this case, all) people ... which is a goal ... as is defeating John McCain. There's almost no discussion of what universal health care would mean for the country or how people would benefit -- all I hear is that it's something Clinton wants done and she knows how she's going to get it. Basically, she's asking voters to have faith in her that she will be able to get the job done.

I've joked about this before, but Hillary Clinton really is a member of the Me Generation, and if you look closely at her own words, especially lately, it really starts to show.

In the meantime, I was really struck by Obama's deft bit of rhetorical judo at the rally in Minneapolis. Paul Wellstone was "a guy who helped to create a movement here in Minnesota, because he believed in you the way I believe in you." If anything, the clamor around Obama's candidacy has been his supporters' belief that he represents a transformational figure -- to have that potential change agent turn that around and profess his belief in the very people he's speaking to is a shrewd and telling statement.

Then there came this earlier this afternoon from Maria Shriver's surprise endorsement at UCLA:

"The more I thought about it, I thought you know if Barack Obama was a state, he'd be California," Shriver said to fierce applause. "I mean, think about it - diverse, open, smart, independent, bucks tradition, innovative, inspiring, dreamer, leader. And the thing I like the best ... he's not about himself. He's about us."

(Emphasis added)
See where I'm going with this?

The two campaigns have gotten caught up in divergent narratives: Obama's campaign is now bigger than he is, whereas Clinton's is now almost exclusively about her. That's a huge liability for Clinton, who has to hide the baggage that she brings to the table by getting wonky and flaunting her more cerebral goods.

That would seem to make her candidacy the one of ideas, right?

Perhaps. But for what it's worth here's a bit of anecdotal evidence to the contrary: A old friend who now lives in the Twin Cities went with his wife to the rally yesterday at the Target Center and we exchanged messages after the festivities. I asked him what he thought and he replied: "I feel very confident about Obama now. he's [sic.] got some great ideas."

First among those ideas was making this race was making his race for the White House more than just about him. Here's a graf from the upcoming March issue of Vanity Fair (which has a great article on Obama's time in Illinois):

“This campaign cannot be about me,” Obama told a cheering crowd in Chicago on the weekend he declared his candidacy, a year ago. “I am an imperfect vessel for your hopes and dreams.” But, for better or worse, his own campaign is all about him and the compelling idea he embodies.
This theme isn't new. It's what's gotten the Obama campaign this far and is what I hope will take him much further. There's little doubt in mind mind that Obama is ambitious, but he knows well enough to not seem as such. Hillary Clinton never picked up on this (and may never have actually been in a position to do so either). That's too bad, but I keep coming back to that line in the New Yorker: "To Clinton, the Presidency is more about achieving goals than about transforming society."

I'm confident the opposite is true of Obama -- that he sees the power of the Oval Office as something that will allow him to do great things, and chief among them is righting a ship of state that has been listing aimlessly these last few years. That may be the only idea that Obama is campaigning on, but it's a powerful one and something that is bigger than the sum of all of Clinton's goals.

BREAKING!: Water is Wet!

And other news of the obvious ...

We Bombed in New Haven*

Even if the whole "crying game" thing was the reason that propelled Hillary Clinton to a victory in New Hampshire (and I would argue that it was not), her latest set of tears probably will not go over so well with either the press or Democratic voters. This kind of thing -- be it staged or genuine -- is something of a magic bullet: Clinton gets to use it once, that's it. Deploying "the cry" a second time raises questions of media manipulation and/or emotional fortitude (something many thought a female candidate for President would have to contend with).

* Read more Joseph Heller.

Oh God, is this Douchebag Back Again?

Why can't Rick Santorum (which, as you surely recall, is Latin for Asshole) quietly slip back into his little home-schooling haven in Northern Virginia like any other washed-up politico? There was talk of Santorum running for president after Bush's 2004 re-election, but he quickly fell from Pennsylvania voters' graces and eventually got smoked in 2006 by Bob Casey.

But that doesn't seem to think he knows what's best for the GOP:

So then the guy sitting behind me starts making phone calls on his cell. He's got a fairly loud and authoritative voice, so I can't help but overhear, and he's making call after call after call to tell various people that we've gotta find a way to beat McCain, just would be just awful, and going on and on about how much McCain sucks and that even having Hillary or Obama would be better than having McCain because he would just be horrible for the conservative movement because he just doesn't get the movement and he's always using liberal language to talk about things and how that's a terrible thing. And in one conversation with one person he was talking to, he was trying to talk him into coming out with a terrible story about McCain from five or six years ago, and he's like yeah, what he did to you was just incredible, and you should go public with that story, etc.

After a while I got up to go get something from the café cart, and it turns out the guy sitting behind me was Rick Santorum, which makes it all the more fun and all the more interesting.

Anyway, Santorum is no longer just shouting into cell phones on the AMTRAK, but now he's out there in the world telling everyone's that McCain's not good for the party because "he has a temper."

Please, stop encouraging this schmuck.

Dirty Trick of the Day (Reprise)

Religious Bigotry:

More at VotingForSatan.com.

[via Hit & Run]

Dirty Trick of the Day

Nonsensical (yet still offensive) Homemade Placards:

And if you're hungry for more equally inane examples of Amateur Hour at the Propaganda Club, check out Cracked.

[via Andrew Sullivan]

Textbook Freudian Slip of the Day


Relieved officials from Sarkozy's ruling UMP party yesterday hoped the quick wedding and Bruni's new official status would stem his plummeting approval ratings. At 41%, they are his lowest ratings since his election - and owe much to his slowness to push through convincing economic reforms and his very pubic romance.

Not Possible

Fraley wants reporters to disclose who they voted for when reporting a story ...


Should they hold up the voting receipt to verify this with their viewers?

There is simply no way to verify this. Many professional news organizations don't let their reporters contribute time or money to campaign, but it's absurd to suddenly demand that reporters' votes be made public when every other voter gets the privilege of privacy. It creates an instantaneously absurd double standard.

Business journalists do this because the way they report on a given stock could create a conflict of interest that could earn them an immediate financial windfall. Voting for candidate X earns no one any financial gain. Besides, what would happen if a reporter votes for Candidate X and then six months later regrets the decision (as frequently happens with other kinds of voters)? Does he or she have to disclose that too? If you keep going down this path eventually you'll have a disclosure policy that surpasses the actual news of any given event so much that any given story will be a history the reporter's opinion of the newsmaker.

Suggesting mandatory disclosure from reporters is a frivolous idea

Sunday, February 3, 2008

A Bit Too Cocky

Michael Graham at NRO provides us all with an example of why some people should just keep their mouths shut.

Suck It, New England

I warned you not to tempt fate, Pats fans:

Oh, and way to stay classy in defeat Belichick ...

MORE: Great minds think alike ...

EVEN MORE: Now I'm just thinking the world revolves around Will Ferrell ...

MORE STILL: KSK does the world a service by reminding us what was at stake during last night's Super Bowl ...

Nerds on Parade

On a day when most of America celebrates its muscle-bound gladiators of the gridiron, here is some thing for the Stand-up Economist in us all:

[via Greg Mankiw]

And if that isn't nerdy enough for you, then get thee to see this phenomenal review of Rambo, by a Canadian teenager with the single most a propos nom de vlog ever. The whole thing is just over 2 minutes and worth watching from start to finish:

[via Defamer]

Last, and also from Canada, is Terminus, a trippy short film set in Montreal:

[via BoingBoing]

Dirty Trick of the Day

Push Polls!

MORE: Pollster.com thinks otherwise.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The "Yes We Can" Video

Saw it first on Althouse.

It's everywhere today.

Food Fight

Check out this truly inspired short film:

I think my favorite part is the arms race between the Big Mac and beef stroganoff.

[via Danger Room]

That's Right ... Because Voting for Fred Thompson is a Smart Thing to Do

This is just too rich:

I just got back from a women’s lunch/meeting, and we had a straw poll. The first question that was asked when the idea came up, “Can we still vote for Fred?” The answer was yes, since he’s still on the ballot for Tuesday. Now, I’m reading all over the place that either Huckabee will take the South, or McCain will. I find it interesting that Huckabee got NO votes at all in our little straw poll, and McCain only got one. Romney came in first, with the majority of the votes, and Fred came in second.

(emphases added)

So, according to the very unscientific findings of this straw poll, the vote for a guy who is not even running anymore places him in second place?

This isn't going to be a race so much as it will be a ritual human sacrifice.

And now for my impersonation of the Republican party:

Love Day is Nigh!

Ah, Valentine's Day ... the most erotic day of the Hallmark Cards, Inc. fiscal calender.

If you're like me, the feast day of Saint Valentine is a merry occasion for a date with a poorly lit room, the music of Robert Johnson and a bottle of whiskey -- but if you don't suffer from soul-crushing ennui, here are some helpful links to make the festivities more, well, whatever they're supposed to be ... oh, that's right: romantic!

* Sugar Daddy dating.

* Hey, Derb: Where the ladies at?

* Bald is beautiful.

* A quicky on the holodeck, perhaps?

* How about a menage a trois with Ayn Rand?

* Office nookie.

* Gentlemen, I give you the Field Guide to the Casanova.

* Trying to get that special someone drunk? Do so in the manner God intended: with Sprecher Cupid Weiss.

* Not merely just mail-order brides any more, Russian women are smokin' -- literally.

* Viva La France: a French company actually tailor-makes alibis for couples having affairs.

* And if that doesn't work out for you, The Chief can recommend a few good lawyers.

"Communist John McCain"

Dude, calm the fuck down ...

Saturday Morning Link Orgy

* Hendrik Hertzberg: on the Obama-Clinton fisticuffs. Read now.

* How the Military Conquered the Natives of Subterranean Earth.

* What in God's name is Mike Huckabee doing in San Fransisco?

* Mustaches!

* Clinton advisers think this whole primary thing is going to go on to at least March ...

* Get your Vice Presidents here!

* Of Ambassadors and Strippers.

* Susan Eisenhower -- Ike's granddaughter -- backs Obama.

* Lost Spoilers from New York: here, here, here and here.

* In the event of a post-apocalyptic Armageddon, Mitt Romney will repopulate the Earth by himself -- if necessary.

* Oprah's back.

* ... and so is the Otter Street Fishery.

Back to 4

Tim Blake has left the race for 53rd Assembly seat.

It's too bad, really. That seat could use a competitive race (for once) and Blake had the makings of a good candidate.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Headlines of the Damned

This edition of Headlines of the Damned has been brought to you by USAToday:
"Bill would make it illegal to feed the obese"
This has been another edition of Headlines of the Damned.

Dirty Trick of the Day

Race Card Robocalls.

The Reagan Coalition is Dead -- Now, What's Next?

I saw this graphic (I think on Steve Clemons' web site) a while back:

Kind of interesting, right? Well, beyond the apparent adherence to the principle that all things in nature act cyclically, it got me thinking. I've been in "the GOP is falling apart at the seams" camp for most of this election season, but have been thinking about the matter in terms of internal Republican division. Lately, however, I think it would be more helpful to look at the crack-up in a more historical context, or at least relative to the two other major American political coalitions that thrived during the 20th Century.

The first -- and this is straight from the Karl Rove textbook of American history -- was the McKinley organized Republican coalition of industrialists that held the White House for all but eight of the 37 years between 1897 -1933. This was a group of voters who agreed with the Coolidge adage that "the business of America is business." Entrepreneurs, businessmen, free marketers, capitalists, industrialists, people who saw there was money to be made from the Industrial revolution or at least those who wanted the chance to try and get rich. They ran against populists like William Jennings Bryan who talked about fighting for the "common working man," but never could get that guy to vote for them.

The coalition lasted a little longer than a generation and came to an abrupt end with the onset of the Great Depression. Enter FDR and the New Deal Coalition, a conglomerate of urban & southern whites, minorities, city machines, and labor unions. This coalition lasted from about 1932 to either signing of the Civil Rights Act in 1965 or when LBJ left office in 1969 (take your pick), when the white Southern vote began to splinter from the Democratic party. But, again, it's essentially the same thing: another coalition that lasts for a little longer than a generation.

Then there came the 1970's -- a decade where America tried to get its shit together and so did its political alliances. The conservative movement was clearly inspired by Barry Goldwater's run for the White House in '64, but really started to take shape in the national identity crisis which was the decade that followed [I'll explain more of this a little later]. At various points during the '70s what would later become the Reagan Coalition Began to germinate: there was the founding of such thinks tanks as the Heritage Foundation in 1973, which came to serve as a model for conservative intellectual apparatus thereafter; there was Roe v. Wade that same year, which motivated many social conservatives to action; all the while the Evangelical movement was gaining steam. Reagan saw what he had to work with and was smart enough to add a national security/"American Exceptionalism" element to it. That seems to have lasted for least 30 years -- again, a little over a generation.

So the historical evidence suggests that the shelf-life of a massive, well-organized and hugely successful political coalition in America during the the last 100+ years seems to be roughly 30 years, which would mean that the Reagan coalition is about due to end soon.

Also, each of the two prior coalitions ended with a Commander-in-Chief who could not solve serious national issues that heretofore their parties had been believed to be superior in addressing (LBJ could not pass the Great Society and win Vietnam the way FDR pushed through the New Deal and won WWII, Herbert Hoover's policies seemed inept during the onset of the Depression). George W. Bush has ruined the GOP's brand as the party of national security "adults" by going into Iraq, as well as his party's image as the guardians of America's economy with a slavish devotion to tax cuts that have produced debatable results. If we graft the historical pattern on to the present day, I think we can safely assume that G.W.B. will mark the end of the Reagan Coalition.

So what's next? We're probably still a few years away from knowing for sure. The next President, who will almost certainly be a Democrat, will probably spend a good chunk of his or her first term in office molding the first New Great American Political Coalition of the 21st Century. This new coalition will likely resemble the last three in so far as it is composed of parties who have recently been left out of power, such as (in no particular order):

* "The Creative Class:" The gears that make the new economy run: young people who work with a computer-based platform doing software design, running internet businesses, "green" entrepreneurs, even some people who work in the financial sector making money using previously undiscovered means of monetary witchcraft. These people will be essential to financing the first political organization in the 21st Century -- they will be the industrialists of the turn of the 20st Century.

* Latinos: The GOP has lost this group for at least a generation, likely longer. With the sole exception of Cuban-Americans (who alone among Latin-Americans have access to American citizenship via the wet-foot-dry-foot policy), there is no reason for Latinos to consider the GOP a desirable place to do business in its current state -- there is simply too much xenophobia.

Other minority groups will continue their support, as well.

* Women: The only real outreach the GOP has tried to do with women over the last 40 years has been their targeted attempt to reach "security moms" in 2002 and 2004. Other than that, there's not much. And if Roe should ever be overturned, all hell will break loose.

* "Globalists": I hate to use the phrase used so derisively by members of the far right, but, frankly, I don't know what these people call themselves ... "Global Citizens," perhaps? These folks are, essentially, the opposites of the neocons. They will have grown up in a world where communication transcends boarders and where a global economy is factored into every business plan. The idea of "American Exceptionalism" will not mean as much to them as it has to people of the last 30 years, but not for bad reasons: these folks will have studied and traveled abroad in ways previously not done. Let's put it this way: these people will not be mistaken for "Ugly Americans" when abroad.

* Labor Unions: Part of the job of the new coalition will be helping unions make the transition from a membership that is based in a manufacturing-based economy to one that is serviced-based. If the Democrats can do that successfully, they will keep the middle class firmly on their side.
Of course, there will be others.

What does that leave the Republicans? Pretty much a regional party that dominates vast swathes of the Southeast that don't have significant representation by any the aforementioned groups above. That is, if they continue down this road of knuckle-dragging conservatism.

The new Democratic conglomeration, on the other hand, will look something like the New Deal Coalition, but it will be more "economically diverse." That used to mean poor people, but this go-around it will mean wealthy people. Don't plan on hearing as much 'class-warfare' rhetoric from the next coalition, for better and for worse -- and here it will be wise to learn the lessons of the of the Reagan Coalitions' break-up.

One of the major fault-lines in the Reagan Coalition was the alliance between the religious fundamentalists and the libertarians (and this would include the anti-tax establishment). The first group wanted to use government to promote Christian ideals, the latter wanted government to stay the hell away. Those are irreconcilable beliefs. The next coalition may succeed in ushering in a "post-racial" or "post-gender" (whatever either of those mean) society, but it will do so by bringing together to elements of the economy that traditionally don't get along: labor and the wealthy -- and that may ultimately prove to be its undoing a generation hence.

Then again, this might be a safer marriage than one would suspect because it's not a partnership between labor and "management." Much of the "Creative Class" as outlined above will operate without a blue-collar workforce or will have developed their businesses by off-shoring that kind of labor. It's difficult to anticipate how people will feel about that in the future and how that will affect their politics, but no society has ever bridged the divide between the rich and the working/middle-class and unless the new coalition does it with actual dollars and cents, the "class gap" in the party may be the proverbial elephant in the room that no wants to talk about until its too late.

All of this is absent the anticipation of any kind of foreign policy calamity or economic catastrophe or natural disaster that can change everything in a heart-beat, as the last seven years have taught us all too well. While unforeseen events make the duration of the next coalition difficult to predict we can say that it will likely last no longer than 30-35 years at the absolute most. Technology could play a significant role in making the longevity of this new political order much shorter. As we become more connected to events faster than ever before our opinions might change at a correspondingly quicker rate. That remains to be seen, however.

As for the Republicans: 16 years passed between Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan. During that time the GOP almost imploded with Richard Nixon, but successfully established a rigid infrastructure of think tanks, advocacy groups, conferences, partnerships, and party-building activities that they have been relying on ever since. That infrastructure may need some serious reconstruction in the next few years and change isn't something Republicans are either used to or good at these days, so it might take a while before they get back into the game.

I don't know if this is some kind of World-Historical moment in the Hegelian sense of the phrase or if this is just another cycle in American history, but it sure as hell is an exciting time to be watching the changing of the guard in America. This election may turn out to be the kind of event that happens once in a generation and something that lays the groundwork for the political organization in this country for decades to come.

Tim Harford on the Colbert Report

If you missed it last night, here's Tim Harford's appearance on the Colbert Report.

Harford would be a regular if he didn't live in frickin' England.

Ouch ...

This post was written with such good intentions, but achieves an absolutely disastrous end ...

Petty Cash

How money will be spent on advertising in the run-up to Super Tuesday.

BONUS: An interesting look at spending thus far by an in-state PR firm.

The Perfect Symbol of the Reagan Coalition Crack-up

The Reagan Family itself:

Nancy loves John McCain. Michael hates John McCain.

Most. Awkward. Thanksgiving. Ever.

Remain Calm: There's Nothing to See Here!

"US suffers first drop in jobs since 2003"

Do You Know Where Bill Clinton is Today?

He's in Arkansas ... all day:

There is a strong argument that, even if Obama gets a handful of delegates in Arkansas, he has won by taking Hillary and Bill Clinton away from true battleground states. On the other hand, in a week where Bill Clinton's every move and statement is being watched carefully, sending him to the state where he is most at home campaigning and where he will see his friendliest audiences could be the safest place for the surrogate-in-chief to spend the vital hours before February 5th.

4Q Fundraising Numbers

Let's just call it an election right now, shall we -- or at least let's wait for the Democrats to choose their nominee and then save ourselves the sturm und drang of the rest of the election?

Just look at some of these numbers:

Hillary: $26.9 million
Obama: $22.8 million

And now the GOP:

McCain: $6.8 million
Huckabee: $9 million
Romney: $6.6 million

The GOP numbers here are just the money contributors gave to each campaign and doesn't include the (at least) $18 million Romney lent to his own campaign or the $19.7 million Ron Paul raised by himself.

Now think about the $32 million Obama raised just in January alone ...

Romney's finished, I don't care about the recent ad buy -- the only person willing to give his campaign any money these days is himself. (I haven't seen one solicitation for money for all the people in Cheddarsphere who have recently started pulling for Romney over McCain, even they aren't bothering to chip in.) McCain won't be able to raise money from the shrill far right who like to bitch about him being a "RINO."

I don't believe I'm saying this, but Freedom Eden finally got one right: this sounds a lot like defeatism to me ... a dirty word the GOP has been flinging at Democrats since, oh I don't know, March of 2003 ... (Which leads me to ask the obvious question: if Republicans are so defeatist in their attitudes about the American election, how can they be trusted to remain confident about the war in Iraq?)

This is going to be an expensive election, everyone knows that, but where are the Bush Pioneers and Rangers? What happened to the vaunted fund-raising machine the GOP developed over the last generation? With numbers this anemic it would appear as if it has just disappeared into thin air.

Here's the good news for the GOP: John McCain is probably the only candidate they can nominate who will fight on through the campaign no matter how depleted his funds are and how far behind in the polls he is. He proved that in the primaries. In fact, if you're so inclined to dip into the collective subconscious of the Republican party, I'd like to think that GOP voters know they're sending a lamb to slaughter this election and that they're picking someone who can do that with a show of honor and a good fight to the end. McCain, after all, has been through a lot worse.