Saturday, August 2, 2008

One Stupid Too Many.

I've refrained from picking on the campus student newspaper for months. The whys should be obvious:
  • Picking on newly-minted adults still not in the real world is like slapping a baby kitten around. Hard.
  • They're students, still learning journalism. The quality of reporting is almost always going to be 3rd or 4th tier. And the Daily's quality has been mediocre at best for decades.
  • This is a conservative campus - I'm loath to admit it, but the truth is that a majority of the student population was raised rural or in Iowa and this is a professionally-inclined engineering college.
  • So the summer staff of the Daily is conservative - strongly so. But cursing natural trends is like yelling into the wind.
  • I'm anonymous.
  • I have to have good relations with the rest of the university, and I have to have respect and get respect from the student staff I oversee. It's obvious that many people here have different politics or are completely ambivalent to politics.
  • What goddamn good does it do me, other than personal ego gratification?
But no more. "EDITORIAL: Americans rightly fail to react to Obama's travels" Iowa State Daily, 7/31/08.

The obvious response to The Daily editorial is how the hell do they know what Americans are thinking? The editorial mentions polling results as the supposition for their argument, but does not mention which polls.

It's possible that the polls the editorial staff has seen weren't truly measuring the the Obama trip. At the latest for publishing, the opinion would have had to be written Wednesday, July 30th in the late hours. Obama was hitting the top of the headlines July 24th, six days earlier. In theory, news & even impact doesn't show up for 6-10 days in most polling results. The overseas trip, which was well covered, didn't hit its crescendo until the speech in Germany. And some voices believe it did lead to a bounce.

FiveThrityEight & ElectoralVote offer two different views - EV shows that Obama had a slight loss over the last 2-3 weeks, but may be regaining. 538 shows a similar trend. Both are poll aggregators - so they should hopefully average out any outliers or poorly constructed polls.

The second point is that equating polling and actual American opinion is usually misleading and fallacious. Especially when you don't correlate which poll and why it presumes to accurately reflect American consensus opinion. Whom did the poll measure? How many people did it ask? How are they affiliated? How did it ask the questions?

Third: "Quite the vacation itinerary, really." What vacation? Most politicians love campaigning, but I don't think I've heard of one who hasn't still considered it work. It's a misleading frame for the opinion - and it's textbook rhetoric for an argument who wants to deny the basic facts. The editors should know better.

Fourth & last: "Last time anybody checked, none of Obama's foreign destinations held any electoral votes" True, but the American image and brand has taken a beating in the last 7 years. Many Americans desire a change in leadership simply because our government's name is mud overseas (much less here). Obama may have been speaking directly to the Germans, Iraqis, & Israelis, but he was speaking to his constituency back home at the same time. To deny that we don't value foreign opinion of our country and government is simply erroneous. It's not an issue of Not Getting It - the editors simply Didn't Want To Get It.

One of the things that's first taught to aspiring teachers is that one of the greatest challenges of the classroom is not those who don't understand, but those who don't want to understand. The Daily editorial staff has made the entire summer an exercise in Didn't Want To Get It. God help their instructors.

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Push Me and I'll Cut You, B!^@#!

The Votemaster makes the best summary I've read yet on The Campaign so far:
John McCain's strategy . . is to run a campaign attacking Barack Obama personally as too young, too elite, and too pampered to be President as opposed to attacking Obama's ideas and also as opposed to promoting McCain's ideas are something the country really needs.

. . This strategy puts Obama in a real bind. If he ignores the attacks, the charges tend to stick. If he hits back, he looks like just another politician. It is classic Lee Atwater and usually works. It is possible that Democratic 527 groups like will hit back hard (like running ads accusing McCain of taking bribes from convicted felon Charles Keating), but Obama won't touch that kind of stuff with a barge pole.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat. While Lee is the father of the modern attack campaign, it's been the business of the GOP to campaign in this fashion since at least Nixon circa 1968. I expect McCain's troops to vary the attacks to see what sticks on the wall week-to-week, but don't expect them to be substantive or policy-based.

It's almost like the Democrats stopped learning about image-based campaigning after JFK in 1960, but the GOP found that Image + Southern politics is a winner. Image will continue to be a winner as long as an empty, shallow media continues to do what it's doing. Particularly if the playing field is titled from the start to a certain point-of-view that rewards the candidate most willing to kick ass (image-wise).

Democrats have been struggling to find a consistently winning answer to image politics ever since 1968. There's been some victories, but these exceptions are easily explained in their own circumstances. Jimmy Carter was Not Nixon (and Ford Pardoned the Bastard). Bill Clinton had Ross Perot, the economy, and H.W.'s refusal to kick Iraq's ass. The second time Bill had Perot again, action in Bosnia, Dole's age and infirmity, and Dole's own incompetent campaign.

We've seen McCain characterized as Old - particularly online - and the frame has made some inroads in the media. But being old and out of culture isn't a killer; most middle-aged parents identify as there or heading that way. What is a killer is not looking like you'll kick someone's ass with provocation, even if it's your hired muscle doing it.

Nobody harbors a doubt that McCain would kill any poor fucker that pisses His America off. Domestic or Foreigner.

When terms like pampered or elite get thrown at Obama, they're dog whistles, substituted for wuss, pandsy or effeminate. They mean that Barrack won't kill the people in our Country's Way, or whom make us uncomfortable when we walk down the streets.

We'll eventually see the campaigns spar over policy, but the policy differences will always be glossed over in favor of the personal.

So even if Obama has seemed like strong candidate for most of their year (irregardless if you agree with him or like him), I fear that he's going to turn into Kerry and my beloved Cubs. Falling apart after mid-summer.

The Cubs this year are leading the division, and have the second-best record in the entire league with 2 months in the regular season left. Anyone got a goat?

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Friday, August 1, 2008

Friday kitten

Won't somebody think of the kittens? Doctor Who finale tonight. You guys don't know what you're missing.

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Thursday, July 31, 2008


OK, sorry for the hero worship... but Billmon has a post up at Kos! A few days ago I was really thinking about what a loss it was when he stopped posting. Even if it's only one post, it's good enough for me.

Then I read Billmon in the comment section: "Accept no substitutes. Those cheap imitation billmons leave a funny aftertaste."

The media’s moment of disillusionment with John McCain appears to be at hand. Even Joe Klein has finally noticed that McCain’s profile is beginning to resemble the endomorphic shadow of his backstage advisor, Karl Rove, not one of the faces on Mt. Rushmore.

It’s all very predictable – about as predictable as the media’s abrupt discovery in the summer of 2005, as New Orleans sank beneath the waves, that the president of the United States was, gasp!, an incompetent boob.

But anyone who’s studied McCain’s career with any intellectual detachment at all (as opposed to the hagiographic tendencies of his media cheerleading claque) could have told you: The truth about John McCain is that he'll do just about anything and say just about anything to win. He always has. He's just been more clever (and cynical) than most in how he goes about it...

Read the rest... of course you will!

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wouldya Just Kick My Ass Already?

I don't want it to be true. Heavens knows, the last thing the Democrats would want is for it to be true. But what the hell is holdup?

Either the Enquirer has him dead to rights, or this is nothing more than a group of desperate right-wing fucktards passing around a glossy magazine full of naked aborigines while beating themselves off.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

So Maybe Mitt Is The Antichrist After All

But it doesn't explain why we have thousands of similar images of Condi doing the same thing to Dubya . .

(h/t to PunditKitchen)

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Go read Dennis

He illustrates perfectly why I'd be Unitarian if my wife wasn't a UMC pastor.

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August is Hot And Boring - Except When It Ain't

I'm just looking at the calendar - this is the time when we Atom Bomb Babies, born between July 16th (Trinity) and August 15th (the surrender of Japan), or Leos (July 23-Aug22), look forward to with equal amounts of hope and dread.

We relish getting presents - but growing another year older sucks. It's fucking hot. Since it's so fucking hot, sudden storms and tornadoes are fairly common in the plains states; the hurricane season is getting good and wound up down South as well. State and county fairs usually get held - if you've ever been to one you know why its fun and a pain in the ass too.

This year, we have the Olympics, August 8th-24th, and then the Democratic National Convention starts the day after the closing ceremonies, Monday, August 25th.

It's been in the press lately that if Johnny Dubya Mac wants a positive press cycle before the Olympics, he needs to get off his ass and name his VP choice. However, this also applies to Obama - if The Big O wants to name a running mate before the oxygen leaves the room and his own convention, he needs to do it now as well.

So the next week will probably have endless idle watercooler chatter, and hopefully one announcement that moves the chatter to outright character assassination.

Obama could simply sit on the nominee as a surprise to the convention. His position and charisma could make him likely to nominate at the last-moment a curve-ball choice and then pull the convention into agreement behind him without much question. There's still some risk of a brokered convention though - a surprise name that may freshly re-divide the delegates would be discouraged, like a woman other than Hillary Clinton. Theoretically, McCain could wait and do the same, as the GOP convention starts a week later on September 1st, and trump the denouement of the Democrats. Both candidates have have political realities that make it unlikely, though.

Since I still think the rumor earlier this week about Ann Veneman was to test the reaction to another woman as the Vice-presidential running mate, it becomes more imperative for Obama to make a public choice this week. I think he's likely to choose a female Democratic bureaucrat that hasn't run for elected office before or in a very long while. If Obama is doing this and he's trying avoid a mass uprising from the Hillary delegates, he has to announce this week or early next.

FWIW - John McCain was born August 29th & Barack Obama was born August 4th. The Big Dog is August 19th. And little ol' me is August 8th, and my daughter will turn 4 August 23rd.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Take that McRube!

Johnathan Martin at Politico got to the bottom of Obama not checking in on the injured troops at Ramstein AFB, Germany.

VoteVets, the pro-Democrat group of retired military personnel, counters McCain's Black Hawk down statement with some outrage from Col. Katherine Scheirman (Ret.), the retired Chief of Medical Operations for United States Air Force in Europe Headquarters at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany:

"John McCain's new ad is dishonest and shameful, and I say that as the former Chief of Medical Operations. Senators Hagel and Reed confirmed to Bob Schieffer yesterday that Senator Obama visited the Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad as a part of their CODEL, with no media present.

"In Germany, Senator Obama made the right decision to respect wounded troops, and the doctors and nurses doing crucial and time-sensitive work, by not making a visit that was characterized as a campaign event by the Pentagon. Senator Obama should be thanked for putting our military above politics. And, I would hope that John McCain would think in those same terms, the next time he is put in a similar situation.

"Senator Obama has voted for the troops when John McCain has not, most recently on the new GI Bill. I am happy that Senator Obama puts the welfare of our troops above politics."

Also, it's notable that Obama's camp, quick to respond to most every charge and ever-conscious of not repeating the mistakes of Kerry, has yet to go on the air with a spot pushing back against McCain's charge on the troop visit. Apparently, they won't unless McCain puts real money behind his spot and goes beyond just gaming it for earned media.
Once again, Obama doesn't have to lower himself to his opponents level. Will it work through November?

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