Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Gotcha Journalism

We've already seen Katie Couric's interview with Sarah Palin here and here and yes, hilarity ensued. So now the McCain campaign has adjusted their strategy and sent in the big gun to sit at her side and deflect the really hard to answer questions. Back during the Democratic primary Barack Obama said this:

As president, I would make the hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid to Pakistan conditional, and I would make our conditions clear: Pakistan must make substantial progress in closing down the training camps, evicting foreign fighters, and preventing the Taliban from using Pakistan as a staging area for attacks in Afghanistan.

I understand that President Musharraf has his own challenges. But let me make this clear. There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an Al Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will.

So last week when speaking with a voter Palin said that she agreed that this should be the US policy if we find ourselves in that position, ostensibly because she either didn't remember or know that John McCain has repeatedly tried to vilify Obama for his policy of wanting to "attack Pakistan". Naturally Couric asked Palin about this during their dual interview:

See how that works now? When Sarah Palin is in public during her run for the vice-presidency and she says something out loud about anything, we're not allowed to take that seriously because it wasn't said in a controlled environment and any questions about it are of the low down sneaky variety. Gotcha!

[Update: Kathryn Jean Lopez nails it:
... this video looks like Sarah Palin went back to the principal's office with her dad.]

Something Someone Else Said

"John McCain. 72 years old. He was too old 10 years ago! 72. He's so old he used to own Sidney Poitier. Come on man, I don't need a president with a bucket list!" -Chris Rock: Kill The Messenger

Antique Fail

This is an oldie but goodie:

And is it just me or do you want to punch out that host too?

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Cost Of The Bailout

A telling graphic from the LA Times. As the first bill fails to pass through congress I honestly don't know what to think about this whole thing; as I've said before, I'm no economist and the study of economics has never held any interest for me (this goes a long way to explain why I'm neither rich nor in any danger of becoming so anytime soon). I mean, I grasp the concept of why we can't let the market collapse and what that would mean for the country if we don't do something soon but on the other hand, is this really how a free market should be run? Unchecked spending and lending coupled with unlimited greed until it all falls apart, and then a massive taxpayer financed bailout to save an industry rife with rich fucks who will ultimately not be held accountable for any of their actions?

If the average American becomes convinced that this is how the economy is going to work from now on, I think the popularity of capitalism might take a massive nosedive; the old familiar platitudes about economic theory and Smith's invisible hand ring very hollow to people struggling just to hang on to their homes and feed their children.

Gina Gershon Strips Down Sarah Palin

Yes, another Sarah Palin parody; at this point it's just too easy but any excuse to watch Gina Gershon in a bikini firing a shotgun is a good one in my book:

Palin's Lies And The Internet's Power

This site may be a little Sarah Palin heavy this next week but with her debate against Joe Biden looming on Thursday and the sheer amount of ignorance and lies generated by John McCain's campaign around her I think I can be forgiven this indulgence; and you have to admit that this whole farce is pretty damn entertaining, especially since it wasn't my guy who chose her.

Now obviously I like to post the interview failures and comedic parodies but all of that is based on some basic truths: she was not vetted responsibly by the McCain campaign, she is wholly unqualified to lead this country and she is an inveterate, bald-faced liar. I've focused a lot on the former two points but I haven't had the time to catalog all of the lies referred to in the latter; fortunately, Andrew Sullivan was kind enough to write a comprehensive roundup of her numerous prevarications, replete with documentation (I find that I run across far less documentation when I read that Barack Obama is a Muslim or that he wants to raise taxes on the middle class):

Palin could not have asked her girls for permission to accept McCain's veep offer if she also says she accepted the offer unblinkingly and right away. Palin did fire a police chief even as she insisted to a reporter she hadn't. She did violate the confidential medical records of Mike Wooten. She hasn't met with any trade missions from Russia. She does not have any gay friends that anyone can find. She did not oppose the Bridge to Nowhere. She did not sell that plane on eBay. Her Teleprompter did not fail in her convention speech. Alaska's state scientists did not conclude that polar bears were in no danger. She did deny publicly that humans had anything to do with climate change.

Alaska does not provide "nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy," as she claimed. The gas pipeline she touts as her major "mission accomplished" has not broken ground and may never do so. She did not take a pay-cut as mayor of Wasilla. And on and on. Anyone with Google can check all of these out. Including reporters.

These are all documented, bald-faced factually irrefutable lies. More to the point: she refuses to cop to them or be held accountable for them or take questions about them. Until she does, we can rightly infer there is no reason to believe anything she says, and that includes her recent medical history. A liar like this cannot be taken on trust. We have to verify it all.

She's been doing this for years but has had very little media coverage or, more importantly, follow up by the press to expose these falsehoods. Of course this campaign's practice of telling lies on a regular basis started with McCain himself and I really think that his lack of understanding of the scope and power of the world wide web has in part led him down this path: you just can't do that anymore and get away with it! The modern day dissemination of information renders it virtually impossible and he either doesn't grasp that concept or he is so cynical as to believe that he can get elected this way (sadly, I'm sometimes that cynical as well). Farhad Manjoo catalogs both camapigns' falsehoods and wonders why Obama doesn't lie more often:
Since July, John McCain and his campaign have made 11 political claims that are barely true, eight that are categorically false, and three that you'd have to call pants-on-fire lies—a total of 22 clearly deceptive statements (many of them made repeatedly in ads and stump speeches). Barack Obama and Joe Biden, meanwhile, have put out eight bare truths, four untruths, and zero pants-on-fire lies—12 false claims. These stats and categories come from PolitiFact, but the story looks pretty much the same if you count up fabrications documented by FactCheck.org or the Washington Post's Fact Checker, the other truth-squad operations working the race: During the past two and a half months, McCain has lied more often and more outrageously than Obama.
The power the Internet has provided to the average voter in terms of gathering information about these two candidates is unprecedented and historic; this technology will most likely affect future elections in ways we can't even imagine at this point. One of my great fears however is that this will do little to sway people from believing the lies that they themselves want to hear; why make an effort to find out the truth when the lie is so much more comfortable? Further proof that evolution seems to lack any intelligent, guiding hand; wouldn't it be great if we were getting smarter as a species? But no, we're just getting more superstitious and ignorant, and we seem perfectly content to let that happen so long as we can still drive our cars and watch our TVs. Sad.

Couric/Poehler Interviews Palin/Fey

As with their last effort Fey is spot on as Palin but Poehler again steals the scene, this time as she plays up Couric's stone-faced incredulity at the absurdity of Palin's incoherent answers to her questions; the funniest and truly saddest part is that the fumbling response she gives to a question about the recent lender bailout is taken almost verbatim from this section of the real interview:

She's going to need more than a lifeline to get through her only debate with Joe Biden this Thursday but at this point I get the feeling that if she merely manages to stay conscious during the entire hour and a half the McCain campaign will tout it as a victory. Again, this is extremely entertaining but my sympathy for this woman increases every day; fortunately my abhorrence of her penchant for blatantly lying in public and on camera balances a lot of that out. On a tangential note, when this election's over I'm sure going to miss all of those double entendres, i.e. "The Bush Doctrine"; Obama just doesn't sound prurient enough, does it?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sarah Palin: Head Of Skate

You know your candidacy is a joke when the Disney-esqe trailer parody of you, while funny, still just can't compete with the lunacy of the real thing:

(hat tip: Doug E)

McCain Is Right/Malicious

This is John McCain's newest campaign ad released right after the debate with Barack Obama last Friday, in which he attacks Obama for agreeing with him. Is this what the American electoral process has devolved into? Blatantly attacking your opponent for being honorable denotes leadership? In the past I expressed my opinion that McCain would at least have the simple decency to run a respectable presidential campaign but this and other recent decisions he's made have convinced me otherwise.

That John McCain no longer exists and has been replaced by the unethical, soulless piece of shit now running in his stead (sorry for the surly hyperbole but I've been watching a House marathon on DVR all day and it's put me in a cantankerous mood). I don't know what I'll do if the American people actually vote this douche bag into office after all of the shit we've lived with for the last eight years; I mean, I know most of us are lazy, intellectually incurious idiots but come on! Here's the ad:

If 6 Year Olds Could Vote

A contest for what presidential campaign ads would look like if the voting age was 6; number 12 is pretty good but number 8 creeps me right the hell out.

Something Someone Else Said

"John McCain showed up without running mate Sarah Palin, which is a shame because she actually has a lot of experience with financial matters. You know, she lives right next to a bank." -Jimmy Kimmel

[Update: The coincidence that I used a picture of a pig (albeit a piggy bank as it's in the context of financial discussion) for a post about Sarah Palin did not occur to me until just now, and then it made me laugh like an idiot; fortunately, while this pig clearly has on blush and eyeshadow it doesn't appear to be wearing any lipstick, so no harm done.]

John McCain's Age Card

I knew there had to be a reason the press was giving this guy a pass on so many things: his "get out of responsibility free" card:

(hat tip: Doug E)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Joker On The Bailout

I'd characterize his fiscal philosophy as decidedly less than conservative and responsible but since this whole situation seems to be driving Americans crazy anyway, why not? At least he doesn't do the pencil trick with a White House aide:

Presidential Debate #1

Despite John McCain's empty threats to not show up for the event, the first presidential debate happened last night and I have to say that I was fairly unimpressed. Both candidates handled themselves well but there were no memorable lines or "gotcha" moments to spice up the event. I do think that Obama won this one and the talking heads and bloggers for the most part seem to agree with me. He looked calm, cool and knowledgeable; in short, he seemed presidential. McCain seemed testy and irritable, and he could barely bring himself to look at Obama the entire evening (even during the handshake in the photo above) and his constant laughter made him look like a maniacal little troll.

The consensus seems to be that Obama won on the economy but to be honest neither man could name any substantive changes they would make to their economic plans in light of the recent corporate bailout business; both plans run a deficit but McCain's is larger because of his tax cuts. McCain made some attempts to trap Obama on foreign policy but I think he came up short. You may hear some noise about how Obama said Henry Kissinger (a McCain advisor) agreed with him on meeting with world leaders without preconditions, a statement that McCain flat out denied over and over again; so here it is:

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger says the United States should begin direct negotiations with Iran over its nuclear enrichment program. Kissinger, speaking Monday at George Washington University along with four other former U.S. State Department secretaries, said the next president should initiate high-level discussions with Iran "without conditions," ABC News reported.
So while I don't think this debate will sway anyone except for undecided voters (one of the dumbest voting blocks out there) I'd say that Obama passed the main test of any unproven candidate: he looked like a president when it counted, just like Kennedy and Reagan before him. Oh, and one final note: if you were watching the follow up spin coverage on the various networks you would have seen Joe Biden everywhere at once, lobbying for his man. And who was nowhere to be found? That's right: Sarah Palin. I know she's gunning for his job but the fact that she's as reclusive as Cheney before the election is just plain weird.

[Update: Just read this from Big Ed Schultz:

Capitol Hill sources are telling me that senior McCain people are more than concerned about Palin.

The campaign has held a mock debate and a mock press conference; both are being described as “disastrous.” One senior McCain aide was quoted as saying, “What are we going to do?” The McCain people want to move this first debate to some later, undetermined date, possibly never. People on the inside are saying the Alaska Governor is “clueless.”

Does anyone still believe that the McCain campaign vetted this woman? The only thing keeping this whole farce from being completely hilarious is the possibility that they might win. One shudders at the thought.]

Sarah Palin's Pageant Video

You know you've been wanting to see this (Heath was her maiden name):

Finally, a contest she's qualified for.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Keating 5 Scandal In 97 Seconds

I've heard several things about the Keating Five in the past but it always just seemed so long ago (I was fifteen at the time it all went down) and nobody in the political media or blogosphere really talks about it, even though John McCain is now running for the presidency. So this short video gave me at least a tangential grasp of the whole thing; I'm surprised how little this has been mentioned as McCain has descended deeper and deeper into this ethically questionable morass of a campaign:

Couric Interviews Palin II: Ramble On

You can view part I here. As I watched this I was wondering if perhaps McCain had made a bet with Palin about how many prepared talking points she could squeeze into an answer regardless of the question asked; see if you can decipher her answer for why we're bailing out the corporate financial lenders but not average Americans who have gotten themselves into the same predicament (you can read my take on this situation from last April when we first started to see signs of this impending disaster):

The consensus around the blogosphere seems to be that Palin is getting progressively worse at answering basic policy questions as the race continues. My theory is that she's been pumped so full of information and facts by the McCain campaign over the past several weeks that she is now having trouble dredging up the correct talking points in a coherent and timely manner, making her seem as if she's searching for an answer while talking about anything at all to fill time. Rod Dreher at Beliefnet.com, an enthusiastic Palin supporter as recently as last week, sums up Palin's performance in her second real interview thusly:

Couric's questions are straightforward and responsible. Palin is mediocre, again, regurgitating talking points mechanically, not thinking. Palin's just babbling. She makes George W. Bush sound like Cicero.
Another thought (and this is the one that makes me feel some sympathy for her) is that she's obviously in over her head here and she knows it. She's finding herself surrounded by foreign leaders and seasoned political figures all while under a media microscope that pales in comparison to anything she's experienced in Alaska, and it's becoming more apparent to her how unprepared she is for this job every time she has to answer questions, hence the continued lack of an unstructured press conference a full four weeks after her debut. A smarter politician would have thought of these things beforehand and not agreed to something that put them so obviously out of their depth but the blame for this irresponsible choice ultimately lies with John McCain. He took a huge gamble by tapping Palin as his running mate and now it seems that the odds are clearly stacked against them both.

The Great Schlep

Sarah Silverman makes the case for young Jews convincing a consequential voting block, old Floridian Jews, how important it is to vote for Barack Obama this November:

Something Someone Else Said

"So, because there's a financial crisis, Senator McCain cannot take 90 minutes to address how he will face challenges around the world, including how and when he will send American troops to fight, and possibly die.

Wow. Troops would sure love that luxury.

Unfortunately, though, insurgents in Iraq don't stop shooting at us, or setting IEDs, because our Commander in Chief needs a breather to figure out Wall Street.

Al Qaeda in the Afghanistan/Pakistan border region don't send our troops notes that read, 'Hey, I hear you guys are tied up with Wall Street. Your President needs to concentrate on other things, so we'll give you a break. So, to make things easier on you, here's our coordinates.'" -Jon Soltz, The Huffington Post

Hoops Fail

You've gotta feel bad for Webber in this video but it's still pretty entertaining (I heard a talking head on one of the cable news channels compairing McCain's recent attempt to call a time out on his campaign to this classic fail):

Thursday, September 25, 2008

McCain's Campaign Suspension Lie

Unless you're a political junkie you might not have noticed much of a change on the airwaves and the blogosphere since John McCain announced that he was selflessly suspending his presidential campaign to put "country first" (his newest of many slogans thus far) and work towards a bipartisan solution to the current financial crises we're facing. Wait a minute, I am a political junkie and I haven't noticed any changes either, and apparently I'm not the only one:

So, what does a "suspended" campaign look like? As it turns out, it's eerily similar to a regular ol' campaign.

What have we learned since McCain suspended his presidential campaign?

* McCain campaign offices in battleground states are open and operating, just like yesterday.

* McCain's television ads are on the air, just like yesterday.

* McCain media flacks are all over the news networks, just like yesterday.

* McCain's campaign staffers are working, just like yesterday.

* McCain's campaign website is up, soliciting contributions and promoting McCain's message, just like yesterday.

* For the big White House meeting today, Barack Obama was told not to bring any campaign aides, so he's bringing a legislative assistant from his Senate staff. John McCain is bringing a campaign advisor.

I don't want to alarm anyone, but I get the sinking feeling that maybe, just maybe, the "suspension" announcement was some kind of (gasp!) gimmick, and that nothing has actually changed at McCain Campaign HQ.

And then of course there's this little tidbit:
Barack Obama is committed to hosting a public, televised event Friday night in Mississippi even if John McCain does not show up, an official close to the Obama campaign tells the Huffington Post.

In McCain's absence, the Senator is willing to make the scheduled debate a townhall meeting, a one-on-one interview with NewsHour's Jim Lehrer, or the combination of the two, the official said.

That's right: McCain took a big gamble by trying to look magnanimous in front of the American people and Obama called his bluff. As I said in the comment thread of a previous post, McCain is going to be at that debate tomorrow, and I'll stake every last dollar this blog has generated on that prediction coming true.

Letterman Caps On McCain

As I alluded to in a previous post, John McCain has suspended his campaign so that he can focus all of his septuagenarian energy and vast experience on the deal being hammered out in congress to solve the mortgage crisis; apparently multi-tasking is not one of his strong suits. Well, it seems that he also personally cancelled on David Letterman but didn't cover his tracks quite well enough when he was supposedly traveling back to Washington (he actually didn't leave for D.C. until the next day); this is looking more and more like a bad soap opera at this point:

Mental note: never lie to David Letterman.

[Update: Just read this from one of Sullivan's readers:

Two of my employees called to say they couldn’t make it in to work today because of the financial crisis. They think it’s pretty funny. I don’t.]

Redesigning The Penny

The Lincoln penny changes for the first time in fifty years:

The designs show milestones in the life of the 16th president: the Kentucky log cabin of his birth, his youth working as an Indiana rail splitter, his service at the State Capitol in Illinois, and his effort to preserve the union during the Civil War as depicted by a half-finished image of the U.S. Capitol dome.

The first of the coins debuts Feb. 12, with the others following in three-month intervals. The release date, besides being Lincoln's birthday, comes a century after the production of the original Lincoln cent in 1909.

Decidedly less gay than the five dollar bill redesign and I still consider them relatively useless unless you're looking to gain some confidence in a most disgusting way

Couric Interviews Palin: Wow

I admit that this blog has been a little heavy on the Palin tip lately but to be honest I just find her too goddamn entertaining to ignore; I mean, except for his being too busy, busy, busy to have the first debate with Barack Obama tomorrow John McCain has been about as exciting as Joe Biden lately (nothing against my man Joe Biden). But the entertainment factor involved when the McCain campaign actually let's her speak (the Couric interview is just the third time in almost four weeks) is just too much fun; watch as she gives obviously prepared answers more than once or simply no answer at all to some of Katie's relatively benign questions:

Naked Clown Calendar

I'm not one of those people who was scared of clowns as a child but I don't think I'm alone in thinking that this idea is just a little bit creepy:

Graduates of San Francisco's Clown Conservatory Class of 2008 have stripped down to their birthday suits to make a 2009 Naked Clown Calendar, a joyful and humourous work of art the clowns hope to sell in honor of a beloved mentor paralysed from the effects of multiple sclerosis (MS) and others stricken with the disease.

These aren't the usual photos of clowns at kids' parties or falling out of cars. No, they're photos of clowns tumbling though the air, performing songs in the park or flying out of cannons — with pies and top hats hiding the naughty bits.

I understand that it's for a good cause and I support that but I'd rather just give them the cash straight up before I hang one of these things in my home but hey, that's just me.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Palin Press Pass

A striking observation from Andrew Sullivan:

Since Sarah Palin was selected for the vice-presidential nomination, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has given more press conferences than she has. That's the country John McCain believes in.

Blizzard Of Lies

I recently posted on the state of the news media and how that relates to the political landscape in this country so I hope that this doesn't feel like overkill: I was discussing the presidential election with a friend the other day and the subject of how the media reacts to (or even sometimes ignores) the lies and half-truths churned out by people from both campaigns came up and I repeated my thoughts that McCain is not only running an extremely dirty and devious campaign but that he is also doing it very badly, blatantly lying about things that are quite easily Googleable by most intelligent people.

My friend then started in with the idea that I was somehow biased because of my support for Barack Obama and that both campaigns are equally guilty of bending or breaking the truth. I vehemently disagreed with this analysis, saying that this kind of "share the blame" narrative put forth by the media is both disingenuous and fundamentally untrue; rarely are both sides of an election equally lacking in ethics and fair play, that's just not how the real world works. Yesterday I realized that I should have just saved my breath and waited a few days for Paul Krugman to write this excellent opinion column for the New York Times:

Why do the McCain people think they can get away with this stuff? Well, they’re probably counting on the common practice in the news media of being “balanced” at all costs. You know how it goes: If a politician says that black is white, the news report doesn’t say that he’s wrong, it reports that “some Democrats say” that he’s wrong. Or a grotesque lie from one side is paired with a trivial misstatement from the other, conveying the impression that both sides are equally dirty.

They’re probably also counting on the prevalence of horse-race reporting, so that instead of the story being “McCain campaign lies,” it becomes “Obama on defensive in face of attacks.”

I highly encourage you to read the entire article. In my opinion, one of the fundamental problems with the news press in this country is that they've abdicated their responsibility to seek out and report the truth even if it makes one side of a debate look like they're obviously in the wrong, and they've abandoned their journalistic code out of an irrational fear of being called biased and "in the tank" for one side of the political spectrum. Republicans have been playing the bias card for years and successfully getting away with it, so it's no surprise now that McCain and his surrogates are dealing from the same deck.

[Update: A quote from a profile on CNN anchor Campbell Brown and an observation by Andrew Sullivan:

...when you have Candidate A saying the sky is blue, and Candidate B saying it’s a cloudy day, I look outside and I see, well, it’s a cloudy day. I should be able to tell my viewers, ‘Candidate A is wrong, Candidate B is right.’ And not have to say, ‘Well, you decide.’ Then it would be like I’m an idiot. And I’d be treating the audience like idiots.

Good for Brown. But how far have we sunk when the press reporting reality is an actual story?]

17 Years In Pictures

This guy took a picture of himself everyday for 17 years; the emergence of the male pattern balding towards the end is the most interesting change I noticed:

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Something Someone Else Said

"I'm sure there's a simple answer to this, and it's just eluding me: If the McCain campaign says, on the record and before the national press, that the New York Times is not a legitimate news organization, or a journalistic enterprise at all, but a political action committee working for Obama (and that is what Steve Schmidt said to reporters; listen to it...) then why does the Times have to treat the McCain crew as a "normal" campaign organization, rather than a bunch of rogue operators willing to say absolutely anything to gain power and lie to the nation once in office? I mean, really. How far can you stretch, "they're just blaming the messenger, a common tactic when frustrated...?" Does that kind of placid response cover all cases? At what point does an extreme attempt to de-legitimate the press actually de-legitimate the candidate as an extremist in the eyes of the press? Does anyone know? And if no one knows, how can the press even cover the McCain campaign? I know there's a good, sound, at-the-ready answer to these questions; I just can't think of what it is. So Romenesko readers, help me out! If the McCain campaign says the Times is not a legitimate news source why does the Times have to treat McCain as a legitimate candidate?" -Jim Romenesko, Poynter.org

The right has been doing this for years so it's no real surprise to anyone who's been paying attention to this race that McCain's campaign has now followed suit. The standard procedure here is to attack media outlets when they air/ print anything negative about your candidate (whether it's true or not is irrelevant) as being biased and untrue, then you can either dismiss anything else negative they say as proof of your accusation, "See, the New York Times is at it again. They're out to get us!" or you can use any subsequent positive coverage to automatically validate anything you choose, "Look, even the liberal New York Times has admitted that we're right!"

Of course, for this strategy to be truly effective you and your surrogates have to keep screaming about the "liberal media" and "media bias" until other media outlets are forced to have to examine themselves and others for this alleged bias, thus legitimizing your original accusation since it's now a legitimate news story (you can read my more nuanced take on supposed media bias here). Democrats have been trying to use these same tactics for a while now but they just don't have a flare for manufactured moral outrage the way Republicans do.

But I do agree with the assessment made in the quote above: McCain and his camp aren't going to be able to keep this little song and dance up until election day. The press will eventually get fed up with this enough so that they'll actually start doing their job by confronting McCain about the outright lies he and Palin have been repeating and insisting on gaining access to Palin outside of a rigidly controlled questioning environment (it has now been 25 days since she was announced as the VP candidate and she has still not held a single press conference). Playing rope-a-dope only works if you can wear your opponent out and it appears that the press is only getting more energized as we draw closer to the final round.

[Update: It now seems that even reality is "in the tank" for Obama:

Rock To Clinton: "Hillary Lost!"

Bill Clinton was on the Late Show with David Letterman last night and spent pretty much the entire time talking about what Hillary would do were she in Barack Obama's shoes right now, but the really good part of the show was when Chris Rock followed him and gave one of the most honest assessments of the Clinton-Obama dynamic I've heard yet; Dave is laughing the entire time but you can tell that he's a little nervous because he knows that Clinton is still back in the green room:

Don't Eliminate Marriage For Anyone

This is the Thoron family, much like any other American family you've ever met; I highly encourage anyone reading this blog in California to vote "No" on the same sex marriage ban (Ballot 8):

Monday, September 22, 2008

Obama's Tax Cuts For Pedophiles

The latest opening sketch from Saturday Night Live pretty much sums up the transformation John McCain has made over the last eight years from an honorable public servant into a Machiavellian politician willing to employ any tactic against his opponent, even dirty tricks that were once used against himself in past races. I suppose it should be no surprise that they nailed this one on the head as Al Franken provided the inspiration for it (for which he's been attacked by the campaign of his Senatorial rival Norm Coleman, of course):

Palin Press Pass

It is now day 24 since John McCain announced Sarah Palin as his running mate and she has given only two interviews (one of which revealed her lack of knowledge of basic foreign policy matters while the other was a partisan softball fest conducted by an anti-intellectual hack) and zero press conferences. This kind of press blackout by a presidential campaign is completely unprecedented in modern America and should be a major concern even for those who support her; if she's really that great of a candidate and is so qualified to be in line for the job of most powerful person on the planet, the McCain campaign should be clamoring for her to appear on every media outlet they can get. And then of course there's this gem:

At the insistence of the McCain campaign, the Oct. 2 debate between the Republican nominee for vice president, Gov. Sarah Palin, and her Democratic rival, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., will have shorter question-and-answer segments than those for the presidential nominees, the advisers said. There will also be much less opportunity for free-wheeling, direct exchanges between the running mates.

McCain advisers said they had been concerned that a loose format could leave Ms. Palin, a relatively inexperienced debater, at a disadvantage and largely on the defensive.
That's right, they insisted that the format of the debate be changed because they were afraid that it would be too hard for her to handle otherwise. I guess what really boggles my mind about the choice of Palin as a running mate is not McCain's irresponsibility in choosing her or her complete lack of substantive qualifications so much as the fact that millions of Republicans love her and are genuinely excited that she's a part of their ticket. I mean, I understand drinking the party's Kool-Aid and all but are that many Americans really this fucking dumb? Really!?

Something Someone Else Said

"I suppose the McCain campaign's hope is that when there's a big crisis, people will go for age and experience. The question is, who in this crisis looked more presidential, calm and un-flustered? It wasn't John McCain who, as usual, substituting vehemence for coherence, said 'let's fire somebody.' And picked one of the most experienced and conservative people in the administration, Chris Cox, and for no apparent reason... It was un-presidential behavior by a presidential candidate ... John McCain showed his personality this week and it made some of us fearful," -George F. Will, This Week

Digable Planet

I'm sure most of you probably don't give a rat's ass about this science story but I'm a nerd and I think it's cool so it gets it's own post; I still remember the discovery of the first extrasolar planet back in 1995 and since then we've discovered literally hundreds more. From DVICE.com:

Encircled in the picture above is the first planet from an alien solar system ever seen by humans. Located 500 light years from Earth, it's a planet eight times bigger than Jupiter. While it looks close to this sun-sized star in the picture, it's actually 11 times farther away from it than Neptune is from our sun.

Scientists have found numerous planets by detecting gravitational "wobble" in stars, however “this is the first time we have directly seen a planetary mass object in a likely orbit around a star like our Sun,” said David Lafrenière, the lead author of a paper about the discovery. The University of Toronto astronomers who took this shot say the planet is probably orbiting this star, but add there's a slight chance it could be just hanging there in space. They're still not even sure if it's moving in sync with the star, which will take two more years of observation to determine.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Anna Marlene Davis

OK, rounding out the recent spate of videos with some gratuitous, cute baby footage. Anna's the daughter of my friends Brent (commenting here as BD) and Joanne, two of my favorite people in the world and I have it on good authority that she's going to be the president of the United States someday, making her cuteness entirely blog-relevant:

Gov At First Sight

Yes I know, a lot of videos lately; no excuses, I've just been too busy/tired to expound properly upon the things bothering/entertaining me in this world. But fear not, Comedy Central is currently employing a cadre of elite writers who are as we speak creating extremely funny yet prescient shit just so that I can post it in lieu of original thoughts. So, after Olbermann's expeditious take on the hard hitting, journalisticly integrified Sean Hannity interview of Sarah Palin, Jon Stewart takes his rhetorical turn while taking care not to get Hannitized himself:

Hannity Interviews Palin In 62 Seconds

I called attention to the obvious kid gloves used in this segment but now Keith Olbermann mashes up Sean Hannity's "fair and balanced" interview with Sarah Palin into a single, easily watchable yet nakedly partisan minute:

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Rudy Giuliani's Vocabulary

An accurate assessment of the man by Joe Biden; the equivalent phrase for John McCain is, "Noun, verb, POW."

FOX Attacks: Obama Like Kerry

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose:

Fey As Palin

This impression of Sarah Palin by Tina Fey is as scary as it is brilliant but it's the reactions of Poehler's Hillary Clinton character that really make this sketch:

Friday, September 19, 2008

Hannity Grills Palin

And by "grill" I mean "defers to"; watch as she blatantly dodges answering his softball-ed question about the Bridge to Nowhere while simultaneously (and seemingly inadvertently) admitting that she and other Alaskans only wanted the bridge when it was going to be paid for with federal dollars:

Trailer: Watchmen

I read this graphic novel many years ago but I didn't have enough background information or maturity at the time to truly appreciate the scope and scale of what Moore and Gibbons were trying to accomplish with their 12 issue comic; I'm re-reading it before the film's release. From Wikipedia:

Watchmen is set in 1985, in an alternate history of the United States where costumed adventurers are real and the country is edging closer to a nuclear war with the Soviet Union; throughout the books, the Doomsday Clock is shown gradually ticking towards midnight. It tells the story of a group of past and present heroes and superheroes and the events surrounding the mysterious murder of one of their own. Watchmen depicts heroes as real people who must confront ethical and personal issues, who struggle with neuroses and failings, and who—with one notable exception—lack anything immediately recognizable as accepted super powers. Watchmen's deconstruction of the conventional superhero archetype, combined with its innovative adaptation of cinematic techniques and heavy use of symbolism, multi-layered dialogue, and metafiction, has influenced both comics and film.
Watchmen and Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns are the two titles most often cited as re-energizing the comic book industry during it's crisis slump in the mid 80's, so it seems only fitting that film makers now have the technology to truly bring these stories to life on the big screen, rendering them as beautifully as I've seen them in my head for decades:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Obama And McCain On The Economy

Here's Barack Obama's recent ad on the financial crisis facing the country:

And here's John McCain's:

Some stark differences in tone and content, huh? One of Andrew Sullivan's readers sums it up thusly:

Let me get this straight ... Obama's ad is two minutes in which he outlines, in broad strokes, his economic plan and points us to a site where we can read the plan in full. McCain's ad is 30 seconds of tough rhetoric without a word that says what he would do except "reform Wall Street" because he's "taken on tougher guys than this before".

And it's Obama's plan that's all talk?

John McCain has nothing to offer but rhetoric, biographies and dishonest character attacks and he knows it; the McCain plan from here on out seems to be a litany of personal attacks compounded by empty campaign phrases and outright lies. I realize that there's a cultural divide in this country right now but is this the caliber of man you want as your leader?

Usain Bolt's World Record

If you're like me you watched this year's Olympic games every night that they were broadcast, and if so you saw Usain Bolt of Jamaica officially become the world's fastest man after winning the 100 meter dash. If you're also like me you hate the showboating and grandstanding displayed by highly talented athletes after they kick a significant amount of ass in their respective sports and Bolt was no different; a study by The New Scientist answers a question I've had ever since his premature celebration in Beijing:

HOW quickly would Usain Bolt have run the 100 metres at the Beijing Olympics if he hadn't slowed in celebration before the finish line? A team of physicists have calculated an answer: the Jamaican gold medallist could have slashed his time from 9.69 seconds to 9.55 seconds.

In the final 20 metres of the race on 16 August, Bolt extended his arms and thumped his chest in celebration, slowing himself a little. But he still broke the world record he himself had set in May.

Now I assume that pretty much every reader of this little blog of mine is not the world's best at anything, and if you are why are you wasting training time reading my stuff? So I, and I assume you the reader too, could only imagine what it must feel like to run that fast and receive the accolades that Bolt has so I'll employ the posterity argument instead: that's your name next to a world record! You couldn't hold your shit together to compete professionally for ten fucking seconds? I know the guy is only 21 but come on: just try to show some humility and class while you're on the world stage. Your country will thank you for it later.

Palin's Pot Problem

Jacob Sullum from Reason.com has some issues with Sarah Palin admitting her past cannabis use while squaring it with her current stand on the war on drugs:

In other words, Palin got to smoke pot without worrying about legal consequences and now wants to deny that assurance to fellow Alaskans doing exactly the same thing. "Palin doesn't support legalizing marijuana," the Anchorage Daily News reported in 2006, because she worries about "the message it would send to her four kids."

It's Palin's job to teach her children that certain pleasures are reserved for grownups. The government should not continue to arrest adults who are harming no one simply because her children are easily confused.

But let me guess: she's OK with the legal status enjoyed by alcohol and cigarettes, despite the fact that they are responsible for the deaths of 50,000 and 450,000 Americans every year respectively and also despite the message that sends to her kids. About 870,000 people were arrested in this country on marijuana charges last year and the vast majority of those (775,000) were for simple possession.

I've had this argument with conservative friends and family members many times already: just because you don't want your children seeing/listening/smoking/snorting something doesn't mean that I as a responsible adult should be denied those same pleasures; this is the real world, not Disney World. The hypocrisy displayed by these people is amazing. "Keep the government out of my life when it comes to business and profits but let them have free reign to legislate my body and what/who I choose to put in it". And yes I know, Barack Obama has smoked cannabis before and yet still favors war on drugs legislation; it's one of several issues on which he and I disagree.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

McCain Gets Rolled

The same people responsible for this previously posted roll spring it on John McCain:

Something Smart Someone Else Said

"Democracy is not average people selecting average leaders. It is average people with the wisdom to select the best prepared." -David Brooks, The New York Times

Hockey Moms Against Sarah Palin

I can't tell if my favorite thing about this parody commercial are the ridiculous outfits or the ridiculous accents:

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Something Someone Else Said

"John McCain has confessed, and I quote - I want to make sure I get it right - he said, it’s easy for me to be in Washington and frankly be somewhat divorced from the day-to-day challenges people have. Well, he’s right. He’s right. If all you do is walk the halls of power, all you’ll hear is the wants of the powerful. Ladies and gentleman, I believe that’s why John McCain could say with a straight face as recently as this morning, and this is a quote, the fundamentals of the economy are strong. That’s what John said. He says that we’ve made great progress economically, in the Bush years. Ladies and gentlemen, I could walk from here to Lansing, and I wouldn’t run into a single person who thought our economy was doing well, unless I ran into John McCain." -Joe Biden, Democratic vice-presidential nominee

Obama Waffles

I don't know about you but I've enjoyed waffles made from a mix packaged in a box adorned by a wide-eyed, smiling negro since I was a little kid; of course, at some point in the cultural and racial development of this country we realized how racist that depiction of black culture was and applied the necessary market forces to pressure it to change to a more suitable portrait of a black female. Apparently though, the creators of "Obama Waffles" include themselves in the same category as those who have never heard of black people being compared to monkeys, people who don't recognize the racial implications of a "Black House" and people who are unfamiliar with the historical use of the word "uppity" in relation to black folks. I still believe that a post-racial American society is within our reach but I'm starting to doubt more and more that it will happen within my lifetime. The Brooklyn Comedy Company also had a few things to say:

Sarah Palin Bingo

A few of the squares from this card are niggling details or less-than-important facts about her family but for the most part they're spot on; from YouAreDumb.net:

Offered exclusively from your friends at You Are Dumb Dot Net, SARAH PALIN BINGO lets you play along with your favorite cable news broadcast. Just get some tokens, watch the reporting, and mark off every scandal or horrifying policy position that gets mentioned! Get five in a row and you win! Plus, as a special bonus, since she's his "soul mate", John McCain is giving you the center square just for playing.

NOTE: One game of SARAH PALIN BINGO should take one hour on MSNBC, three hours on CNN, and up to a month or more on FOX News.

Sarah Palin's Demon Haunted Churches

Now I'm not one to cast aspersions on organized religion or anything like that but...oh wait, that's exactly who I am and what I do. Seriously though, as I've written in the past I really do think that John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate was a blatant move to woo the conservative, religious base of his party, and she's made very clear that she comes down on their side as it pertains to cultural issues in this election. But if you've been paying attention (and I have) you might have noticed that the McCain campaign has kind of downplayed the extent of her Christian revelry; they've made it very clear that she's a Christian with all of the little clues and codewords used to describe her faith but the details of her church and what goes on there have been conspicuously absent from their mainstream ads and press releases. This short documentary about Palin's church (which was removed from YouTube for "inappropriate content") may shed some light on why this is the case:

Mindless religious zealotry like this scares the shit out of me anyway but when you factor in that they're asking people for money every week (and based on pretty much every church and/or religion I've ever seen or heard about, I have no reason to doubt that they are) I get just that much more uncomfortable with McCain choosing this woman as his running mate. Examining the vast extent of religious fervor and magical beliefs in this country sometimes makes me feel like the last sane man in a massive asylum; I'm not saying that religious believers are crazy, just that they can really come off that way most of the time they're saying or doing anything religious.

[Update: And then there's this exchange between Palin and a social activist while Palin was mayor of Wasilla, AK; from Salon.com:

Another valley activist, Philip Munger, says that Palin also helped push the evangelical drive to take over the Mat-Su Borough school board. "She wanted to get people who believed in creationism on the board," said Munger, a music composer and teacher. "I bumped into her once after my band played at a graduation ceremony at the Assembly of God. I said, 'Sarah, how can you believe in creationism -- your father's a science teacher.' And she said, 'We don't have to agree on everything.'

"I pushed her on the earth's creation, whether it was really less than 7,000 years old and whether dinosaurs and humans walked the earth at the same time. And she said yes, she'd seen images somewhere of dinosaur fossils with human footprints in them."

Munger also asked Palin if she truly believed in the End of Days, the doomsday scenario when the Messiah will return. "She looked in my eyes and said, 'Yes, I think I will see Jesus come back to earth in my lifetime.'"]

Monday, September 15, 2008

Einstein, Mofo

So the Beware the Believers stuff was cool and the Large Hadron Rap was admittedly lame but I'm still determined to be a champion of science oriented, urban beats; OK, that's kind of a white guy joke but this Robot Chicken shit is still pretty funny:

McCain's Dishonor

The Obama-Biden campaign finally hits McCain with an effective ad; the recent commercial about McCain being incapable of checking his email would have been fine two months ago when that came to light but McCain has made so many specious decisions since then that it's become trivial in the grand scope of the lies and deceptions put forth by his campaign:

Palin's Lies

Just a quick overview of the biggies; hint: "congressional delegation in Washington"="lobbyists I hired while governor to acquire federal earmarks for our state". Remind me again, what's McCain's policy on securing earmarks?:

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sullivan Posts My Dissent

Some of you may remember the great mystery of Andrew Sullivan's disappearance from the blogosphere a few days ago. He's back now and apparently he dug my response to this post enough to put it up on his site; kinda cool.

Les Misbarack

As I started this video I thought, "I like Barack Obama but I'm not gay. Why am I watching this?" But when McCain and Palin appeared I felt like my investment of time was worth it. It ain't Barackula but decide for yourself:

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Existential Wiseoff

Football never seemed so trivial yet significant:

Something Someone Else Said

"Google differs from Microsoft in at least one very important way. The ends that Microsoft has pursued are commercial ends. It's been in it for the money. Google, by contrast, has a strong messianic bent. The Omnigoogle is not just out to make oodles of money; it's on a crusade - to liberate information for the masses - and is convinced of its righteousness in pursuing its cause. Depending on your point of view as you look forward to the next ten years, you'll find that either comforting or discomforting." -Nicholas Carr, Rough Type

I for one find it comforting and yes, the hot chick is completely gratuitous.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Inhaling Sulphur Hexaflouride

I recently posted a Mythbusters paint cannon video that was pretty cool so I thought I'd follow it up with something I'd never heard of before. As Adam demonstrates in the video, inhaling helium obviously makes your voice higher but have you ever done the same with sulphur hexaflouride? Neither have I but now I want to try it at home:

Something Someone Else Said II

"By the time I realized I was at the center of the conflict it was too late. The bombs and tear gas were exploding all around me and cops were screaming at everyone to go south toward the bridge. I yelled to one cop "I'm media! Where do I go?!" but he pointed his rubber bullet gun at me and yelled "Go to the fucking bridge!" It was utter chaos. The police were throwing gas and bombs in between the bridge and people being told to go to the bridge. Poor aim? Amid the mayhem I managed to click away a few frames, but I couldn't help but notice what was going on. They had surrounded the area and were corralling what seemed like 300 people, including a large number of media and legal observers, onto the bridge for a mass arrest." -A photographer in the protests at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota

Hurricane Ike

Hurricane Ike is apparently heading directly for Galveston and will then hit Houston around 8 am central time. Just wanted to wish my family and friends well during the impending squall.

[Update: Happy to report that all are well out Tejas way. Takes more than a measly Cat. 2 to rattle my peeps.]

Something Someone Else Said

"Oh, got a little testy on the campaign trail today. A reporter asked John McCain if he ever Googled Sarah Palin, and McCain said, 'Hey, you take your filthy mouth, and get out of here!' There is no room for that kind of talk." –Jay Leno

Warmonger McCain

I've made my objections to a McCain presidency fairly clear here but the issue of foreign policy and the deployment of American troops around the globe is to my mind one of the scarier prospects of a possible McCain administration. It's not just his legendarily hot temper or the flippant way he refers to military conflict or the neglect of the issue of taking care of our troops when they return from the battlefield in his speeches at the Republican National Convention a ways back; It's the descriptions we have received from those closest to him about his attitude when it comes to war and armed conflict.

As Barack Obama has said in the past, he himself does not rule out military intervention in many or all of the conflicts the United States may and will face in the coming years but he makes the point clear that he considers such intervention a last course of action to be employed only when all other diplomatic and economic pressures and procedures have been exhausted. According to those who know him however John McCain is said to have a proactive approach when it comes to conflict situations, with his default posture being one of intimidation and aggression rather than thoughtful and strategic diplomacy, and that prospect scares the shit out of me.

Now I'm not going to be joining the armed forces anytime soon (the closest I've ever come was applying to the United States Military Academy at West Point when I was 18) and if a modern-day draft is ever imposed I assume that I will be beyond the cut-off age when it happens. I'm not saying that I would never pick up a weapon to defend my country in a time of crises or war but I do not foresee a situation arising anytime in the near future where the armed forces will desperately need the services of a smug, sarcastic intellectual who would most likely be questioning several of the orders given to him if not the entire reason for the conflict in the first place. Again, not saying that I won't fight but just that there are surely many men better qualified for and more enthusiastic to be a part of a combat situation than myself.

Regardless, this does nothing to dampen my apprehension about how John McCain would approach the role of Commander-in-Chief in the 21st century. As we've already seen with his blustery attitude and comments regarding the recent skirmishes between Russia and Georgia in the South Ossetia region of Eastern Europe, McCain does seem to have a tendency to strike a decidedly aggressive posture which, were he to have the power to actually instigate any kind of conflict unilaterally, he seems more than willing to do with very little hesitancy or aforethought. That's a temperament better reserved for the 19th century, my friends, and one that we can ill-afford to have in charge of the most powerful fighting force ever arrayed on the face of this Earth:

On a lighter note, isn't it interesting how the music from Requiem For A Dream can make anything about a thousand times creepier and more depressing (excluding this entertaining re-cut movie trailer, of course).

Thursday, September 11, 2008

McCain Crosses The Line

I'm sure I come off as overly biased for Barack Obama and equally overly biased against John McCain (and George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin and Donald Rumsfeld...) but even the most nonpartisan amongst you must be able to see the duplicitousness and sleaziness of this move by the McCain campaign:

What happened: A new 30-second TV ad attacks Barack Obama's record on education, saying that Obama backed legislation to teach "'comprehensive sex education' to kindergartners." The announcer then says, "Learning about sex before learning to read? Barack Obama. Wrong on education. Wrong for your family."

Why that's wrong: This is a deliberately misleading accusation. It came hours after the Obama campaign released a TV ad critical of McCain's votes on public education. As a state senator in Illinois, Obama did vote for but was not a sponsor of legislation dealing with sex ed for grades K-12.

But the legislation allowed local school boards to teach "age-appropriate" sex education, not comprehensive lessons to kindergartners, and it gave schools the ability to warn young children about inappropriate touching and sexual predators.

The bill didn't teach sex education to kindergartners but rather taught them how to recognize when an adult was speaking and acting in an inappropriate manner; put simply, this legislation was written to protect children from sexual abuse and McCain accused Obama of forcing sex-ed upon five-year-olds. I don't exude manufactured outrage like the McCain campaign over the lipstick on a pig comment but come on; shit like this makes my blood boil. I realize that this is politics and it gets nasty but if you can't recognize the depths to which McCain has sunk here then quite frankly I don't think that you're smart enough to be allowed to vote. There, I've said it.

Also, I have no great love or admiration for James Carville but this man is either clearly delusional or receiving checks that we don't know about:

As I've said, I used to have a fair amount of respect for John McCain 8 years ago but he has become something else now. He's no longer the party-bucking maverick that he once was; he has clearly morphed into a say or do anything to get elected politician and it's been sad to watch. This, more than any other reason, is why we need Barack Obama to be our next president.