Friday, August 29, 2008

On Palin

Well, no points for guessing who SNL is going to tap to play McCain's running mate.

McCain's pick is Sarah Palin. You can hardly say the man doesn't take risks. I'll briefly skim the instapunditry surrounding this pick:

She's a woman Hillary supporters evangelical conservatives down syndrome hockey mom heartbeat away is she experienced Obama speech not news anymore.

That about covers that.

In my case for Lieberman, I wrote of Palin:

"Sarah Palin is the governor of Alaska. So is Ted Stevens."

And I'm a bimbo. Ted Stevens, obviously, is not also governor of Alaska. That said, I think my careless typo evinces a general indifference to/ignorance of all things Alaska, and Democrats will endeavor to exploit that. They will surely play the scandal card, will probably use it to offset the inevitable Ayers bombshell (no pun intended, w/r/t Ayers or Palin).

All things considered, she gets the edge. It would be tough to argue otherwise. Moreso, I think this pick is interesting for what it says about the political intelligence of McCain. On the heels of last nights savvy advertisement congratulating (albeit disingenuously) Barack Obama on his nomination, McCain has managed to completely reverse the course of momentum heading into the convention.

He kept a relatively surprising pick a secret until just hours before introducing her to the public. Tim Pawlenty and Tom Ridge did their able best to run interferences, with the former abruptly cancelling media appearances and the latter doing everything he could to signal himself as the guy. In the end, the press is floored, and McCain steals the thunder from Obama's pedestrian speech.

This wasn't rocket science, of course. McCain had this arrow in his quiver, and shot it at the expected time. He made a good pick that reinforces his reformer bonafides (I am assuming, at this point, that Palin's story checks out), fortifies his evangelical support, and maybe peels away 10% of Hillary moderates. Good for him.

The response from the Obama, however encapsualtes the disparity in political acumen between the two campaigns. Obama released two statements, the first declaring that the experience argument is off the table, the second dubbing Palin a pro-lifer who wants to overturn Roe v. Wade. They also clearly disseminated talking points to the radical base, suggesting they paint Palin as another Dan Quayle.

The purpose of their messaging is rather clear. As the Biden pick suggests, the Obama campaign would be delighted to take experience off the table. They presume Hillary's supporters to be staunchly pro-choice, and any opportunity to compare your opponent to Dan Quayle is a good thing, right?


Suggesting that experience be taken off the table only reinforces the fact that Obama doesn't have any. McCain is not going to purloin staunchly pro-choice votes, so there is no reason to remind evangelicals of Palin's credntials in this arena. And if Obama wants to set the bar at Dan Quayle, the McCain campaign will happily watch her clear that hurdle.

Obama would do well to call off the already incessant chants from the Kos set that she is a cheerleader, bimbo, or worse. If moderate women were upset at the way Hillary was "mistreated", references to Sarah Palin's breast size will certainly be unwelcome.

Obama will have the opportunity to make a reasoned argument againt Gov. Palin's qualifications for the Vice Presidency. Today, they should have taken a page from McCain's playbook, congratulating him on a historic pick, and awaiting an opportunity to discuss the issues in the coming weeks. By doing so, they would have afforded themselves the opportunity to interject Obama into these discussions.

Instead, as usual, Obama's campaign has shown a remarkable level of predictability, and a paucity of good sense. John McCain has out-executed Barack Obama at every turn, giving conservatives hope that we may yet avoid four years of the audacious disaster from Illinois.

Dem Convention - The Speech

And Hopeface takes the stage.


You know what? Joe Biden was right. This guy is clean. Not a spot of dirt on him. Love the tie, not to mention that lovely lapel pin.


I have said before that Obama is not particularly articulate. This speech is grand evidence of this fact. He enunciates well, and he doesn't mumble, but that is altogether different from being articulate. Articulate people can take difficult concepts and expressed nuanced ideas. There is nothing in this speech that would be misunderstood by a modestly bright eight year old.


Obama's cadence reminds me of the present lamentation of audiophiles, who bemoan the condensed sound necessitated by online media (e.g. iTunes). Producers mix to the medium, which means everything is loud. No dynamics. Obama is like a walking mp3.


Again, Obama imagines assaults on his character that have yet to occur. I suspect this is a theme he is building in anticipation of the inevitable Ayers ad. The Obama campaign can't really answer the charges, other than to say they are irrelevant.


I suppose this "McCain voted with Bush 90% of the time" canard will be effective. It's equally true to say that I agree with the majority of Obama's voting record in the Senate, as many Senate votes were simply procedural extensions of previously agreed upon tactics, but who has the time to actually think?

That said, I think McCain should take this one on. He could focus on Obama's refusal to approve the nomination of Janice Rogers Brown, the black daughter of sharecroppers. McCain thought Bush had that one right, but Obama preferred to cater to the needs of the extreme left wing. I think there's a good ad in there somewhere.


This isn't a bad speech, and I think Obama will get the requisite bump. What a requisite bump means in an election like this is an open question. If he comes out of here with a lead of 12% or more, I think he's well on the road to winning. If it's 5-6%, I think he's toast.


Is it even worth noting that Obama's platform is completely unpracticable? Does anyone care anymore? I doubt it.


Classy ad by McCain. Was it an attempt to sway votes? Absolutely. But being classy is a legitimate means of swaying votes. It was the only occurence at this convention to defy, um, convention.


Why is it important that Joe Biden rides the train? Who associates this activity with blue collar values in this day and age? Why is it impressive that he goes home every night?


Somebody needs to talk to McCain about this Tucker Bounds fellow. I know nerdy spokespeople are en vogue, but he sounds like Milton from Office Space.


The press loved the speech, but was there anything Obama could have done to derive a different result? He could have spent an hour making fun of Haiti and the press would have lapped it up.


Never mind about Pawlenty I guess.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Democratic Convention - Cont'd

Sorry for the disambiguation here. Qwest sucks. More on that later.

Day 3

Nancy Pelosi is a horror. Tough on the eyes, and even tougher on the ears. She’s like Joan Rivers on meth, but with really stupid ideas about how to run the country in which she sincerely believes.

What’s the over/under on the number of Scranton references vs. Delaware references in Biden’s speech? I’m going with 7-2.

This is quite the hastily assembled montage. Some fellow mowing his lawn, Joe Biden kissing Obama’s forehead (what was that?), various middle class folks doing middle class things.

Beau Biden looks exactly like Mark Warner.

Expect to hear 1972 evoked rather frequently.

Joe Biden said “Delaware can find another Senator, but my boys can’t find another father.” Then took the Senate seat to which he was elected. So did his boys find another father, or what?

Scranton - 1 Delaware - 1

Joe Biden does that Bill Clinton thing with his lip. I had forgotten that he does that.

Five minutes in and Biden has managed to cuss and take the Lord’s name in vain

Scranton – 2 Delaware – 2

“As a child, as a child I stuttered.”


Scranton 3 Delaware – 2, I’m not giving him credit for Wilmington.

“Barack Obama could have done anything he wanted to, but what did he choose to do?”

Um, he became a lawyer. How noble.

Do University of Chicago students pat themselves on the back for having chosen to attend school in the South Side of Chicago?

He just pronounced Obama’s name wrong. I wonder how often he had to practice that.

Obama worked across party line to pass legislation forbidding terrorists to have nuclear weapons. Well there’s a profile in courage.

From Amtrak to Veterans?

The National Review notes that saying McCain favors tax breaks for oil companies is true, but it is true in the same sense that Barack Obama has favored tax breaks for the porn industry.

Biden’s cadence is akin to that of a college sophomore discussing politics at a keg party. “Barack Obama… Barack Obama… Let me tell you about Barack Obama… This guy. This… Is the guy… I’m talking solar power.:

For the record, all change is good, except climate change. That’s bad.

Barack Obama wants more troops now? That’s new. Serious question… What IS Barack Obama’s foreign policy? What is it that he wants to change?

Scranton 4, Delaware 2

Joe Biden says that Abraham Lincoln called us to embrace change. Actually, he ran on a platform of maintaining the status quo in the face of the southerners’ disastrous idea of change.

Hmmm… That speech was loud, but it wasn’t very good.

Uh-oh surprise guest… How meaningless have conventions become when the surprise guest is the friggin’ nominee???

I would have paid any amount of money if Obama had grabbed the mic and said “God bless America??? No, no, no, Joe Biden… God DAMN America.”

Instead, we get:

“If I’m not mistaken, Hillary Clinton rocked the house last night.” I suppose that isn’t as flippant as “God’s in the mix.”


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Blogging the DNC Convention

Yeah, I suppose I should. Here's the thing. Conventions suck. Having relinquished their relevance years ago, these scripted, inane charades do nothing to inform the American people as to how they should make a decision in the upcoming election. Everyone knows this, and everyone yet enthusiastically participates in making the charade a dashing success.

Day One

I was at the fair, eating cheese rather than observing it, so I'll comment on the highlights I can glean from transcripts.


Donald Miller is offering the opening prayer for the convention. Miller, a prominent leader in the emergent political movement, got the nod after the editor of Relevant Magazine decided it might not be so, um, relevant to be seen as endorsing a particular party. Miller is the author of Blue Like Jazz, wherein he questions whether it is wise to smoke dope while leading a high school youth group. Does anyone on the Obama campaign even know the meaning of the word "vet"?

The full transcript of the prayer, which Miller absurdly made available ahead of time, is here and elsewhere. Summary below:

Dear God,

(insert Democratic platform)

In the name of Jesus, who died for (insert summary of Democratic platform)



Predictably, Michelle Obama reinvents herself: From badass Network extra to housewife who has seen it all. Like most wife speeches, it is pretty successful. I can't wait to see her banana recipe in Better Homes and Gardens. First, of course, she'll have to learn how to make banana bread.


Day Two

It should be noted that Obama will need a very strong bounce here. Gallup has him down two points, and I don't think he can hold a 5-6 point lead, much less come back from a deficit. Someone's going to need to pull off some sort of surprise.


I have said before that Obama has been profligate in his use of online media, but deficit in understanding the online campaign. Case in point, Dennis Kucinich, the fruitcake from Ohio, gives a late afternoon speech designed to rile up the crowd with red meat.

In the past, Kucinich would have been the equivalent of a warm up act to a live taping of Seinfeld. At present, he is on the CNN front page, with his exclamatory ranting highlighted in the accompanying caption. This begs a practical question. If Kucinich is providing the red meat, what does that say about the diners?


CNN interviews Charles Barkley... For like 20 minutes. He says that he enthusiastically supports Obama, but this presidential election will not impact him. That about sums up a lot of things.

Then he calls Democrats who support McCain idiots. That's winsome.


Robert Casey Jr. isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer, is he? He blinks more than Ryan Gosling in Lars And The Real Girl. If this is the standard by which Obama is deemed a scintillating orator, then it is difficult to disagree.

Four more months? Is Casey proposing a Christmas-time inauguration?

Casey reminds James Carville of what a stunningly simply business he used to be in. Robert Casey Jr. - Stunningly simple.


Good to know that Joe Biden is suddenly the Senator from Pennsylvania. Delaware? Never heard of it.


How did Obama not score Mark Warner for the Veep slot? If he loses, this will be remembered as an unspoken failure. I love his teeth.

Warner asks how many kids have the grades to go to college, but not the money. I would guess that this number is very low. What is the percentage of students who finish in the top 10 percent of their class, who wish to go to college, and who are denied the opportunity? I have yet to meet such a person.

"Recruit a new army of teachers."

I think I speak for all of my teaching friends when I say that what they are really hoping for is more qualified candidates for teaching positions. I mean, how are they able to fulfill all the opportunities that are literally being thrown at them?


Off-topic, but Tim Pawlenty sure is acting like he's the pick, isn't he? Hitting the Sunday talk shows, armed with talking points. Unless he is running interference, I think he's the guy.


More to come, including Hillary!!!! She is important!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Top Ten Fridays - Worst Fair Foods

You've heard from the best. Here is a list of the very worst foods you can find at the state fair, accompanied by entirely rational, balanced commentary.

10. French Fries - There are at least three locations at the fair that sell french fries by the bucket. Getting french fries at the fair is like ordering a burger at a steakhouse. Come on people, live a little.

9. Bull Bites - Take the cheapo minute-steaks you buy at Target. Add horseradish. Charge $7 an ounce. Make this list. Rinse. Repeat.

8. Wine - Minnesota wines are available at the fair. Anyone familiar with Minnesota wine understands that this automatically qualifies them for inclusion on this list. In fairness, whatever Raspberry atrocity the wine garden is peddling this year would make an excellent accompaniment to the other foods on this list. But if you've got a sun headache to kill, stick with Leinies.

7. The Jerky Store - Not to be confused with the bison jerky people near the cattle barns or Sausage by Cynthia (both of which are fine), or the jerky shop near the Lumberjack dealio (from which I have not partaken). I'm talking about the place in the exhibit hall, which has somehow tricked me into engaging their wares twice. Tough, leathery, and flaky are perfectly fine attributes... For a cowboy's crotch. I'll take my dried meats supple, thank you very much.

6. Turkey Legs - Right food, wrong setting. At the Renaissance Festival, where the food is not the focus, there is a certain visceral joy to navigating a full pound of tendinous raphes and ventricles. Fully sated, you are able to spend your food budget on, I dunno, zombie amulets and capes. At the fair, it's never good when the food is sweatier than you are.

5. Deep Fried SPAM Curds - The obligatory "what the hell did you expect?" entry on this list. For the record, they are EXACTLY what you would expect.

4. Deep Fried Macaroni and Cheese on a stick - My order essentially consisted of macaroni and cheese with fried breading on top. That's a casserole, not a delicacy.

3. Hamburger - In a similar vein as french fries, with the added caveat that mass production with limited facilities generally renders some of the most alarming trespasses of the genre. State Fair burgers fall into one of two categories. The watery, cafeteria style "baked" execution, or the overcooked crispy hockey puck. If I had a gun to my head, I'd choose the latter, but the isn't in North Minneapolis, and there's deep fried candy bars 20 feet away.

2. Handmade Tater Tots - Three burnt, marble-sized conglomerations of hash browns, cheese and (ostensibly) bacon and green onion. That's three appearances on this list for the good people at Axel's. I'm beginning to figure out why there is never a line there. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, and it's a pretty good bet I'll fall for whatever lame-brained gimmick you throw out there. These are the same people who catered my wedding?

1. Strawberries 'n' Creme - Take a pint of those flavorless, chemically ripened monstrosoties you get at Cub, add 1/3 teaspoon of cream. Yipee. This is why Americans don't eat healthy.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Juicy Fruit

Here. Spliff on this. The taste is gonna' move you. Yeah, that's right. It's gum. Hell yeah.

What, it isn't moving you? Well, it costs like five cents a stick. What are you expecting, Schindler's List? I mean, you can't expect a catharsis-type experience.

What? No, your thinking of catheter. Catharsis is like a epiphany bringing about emotional release...

Dude, that was really inappropriate. Get your head out of the gutter.

Frankly, I'm beginning to think you don't even understand gum.

You're dead to me, Juicy Fruit disinterest guy.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tuesday Musings

Belated edition due to fiercesome hot weather. But muse I must.

For those watching the Olympics, the good folks of "My Advocates" have been inundating us with advertisements. The ads are great, featuring a variety of shots from routine exams and surgeries, with doctors looking incompetent and terrified. And who are "My Advocates"? None other than Janet, Jenner and Suggs, your friendly local ambulance chasers.

This is exactly what we need. Patients fearing breast exams out of some misguided impression that doctors are regularly failing to adhere to the basic principles of medicine. Maybe they can sponsor a sequel to Patch Adams. I mean, would it kill doctors to cheer up? I can't think of anyone I hate more than doctors.


Speaking of bad advertisements, emergocrat pastor Brian McLaren's latest round of Obama pimping has him talking about how great Barack Obama's family is. The ad is a not so subtle allusion to McCain's failed marriage decades ago, so it's good to see that Christian leaders are finally tackling the real issues facing America. And I am glad we are now using biblical verses to brand presidential candidates.


Proposed Counterattack ad:

Barack Obama's Matthew 25 coalition believes that there should only be enough oil for half of virgins. John McCain supports offshore oil exploration, so that every virgin in America can keep her lamp lit.

And remember, the goats are on the left.

I'm John McCain and I approve this message.

College presidents at 100 campuses are encouraging lawmakers to consider dropping the drinking age from 21 to 18. That is awesome. Rodney Dangerfield was totally wrong about those guys.


Sack up, Georgia.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Top Ten Fridays - MN State Fair Food

There are a number of reasons to attend the Minnesota State Fair. Tradition, everyone's nice but also obese, butter queen and etc...

I don't give a damn about any of that. The only reason the fair has a science exhibit (at least I think there is a science exhibit) and the by-definition-incorrectly-named Miracle of Birth hut is to give us something to stare at until the nausea and gassiness subside.

Seriously, the only way I'm going to enjoy staring at a cows anus is if it's processed, ground, battered, covered with cheese for no apparent reason, and given to me on a stick. The State Fair is about food, people, and I REALLY like food. You know what time it is... It's Top Ten time... Here are my ten favorite items. Feel free to share yours and argue your case in the comments.

10. Sparkling Cider float

The caramel apple confectioneries at the fair offer this twist on the float theme. Whereas root beer floats succeed (or not) by compromising the abrasive texture of the drink itself, the sparkling cider float uses a vanilla canvas to hit the tongue with a subtle dance of carbonation and tartness. A welcome alternative to the free milk, which seems to form active cultures in your throat as the day progresses.

9. Cheese Curds

Obligatory reference here, though the item itself is a smidge overrated (not to mention widely available elsewhere). On the other hand, it's fried cheese. The key is to eat these in the morning or at night. Else, the hot grease conspires with the heat and crowds to create a sensation bordering on mild claustrophobia.

8. Olives on a Stick

Inexpensive, fun, and not at all filling*, the olive stand at the International Bazaar offers a refreshing break from the deep fried commodities. In spite of their pungent, almost acerbic onset, the olives (stuffed with everything from pearl onions to sun dried tomatoes) feature an exceptionally smooth finish. That's why they make oil out of olives. Do avoid the temptation to purchase the economically efficient pint-size containers. Try pounding 30 olives in a sitting if you don't believe me.

* - I should note that the "less-filling" moniker is generally to be taken as a positive. If you are one of those folks who just wants the most filling item for cheap, stop reading and get ready for some nachos. And if you are one of those people who sneaks food INTO the fair, well, you're dead to me. Seriously, you are not my tribe. It's the Great Minnesota Get Together, not the Mediocre Skinflint Rendezvous. What do you think pays for Tonic Sol Fa every year? Grab an ostrich burger and shut the hell up.

7. Bacon

On one hand, this is a new item that I have yet to experience in a fair setting. On the other hand, it's bacon. Also, it is dipped either in maple syrup or chocolate. There is no way the Big Bacon people can screw this up. What are they going to do, wrap it in bay leaves?

Incidentally, how did it take this long for someone to figure out that bacon and the Minnesota State Fair were made for each other? Seriously, it's like Judi Dench in a costume drama. How did we get hot dish on a stick before bacon?

6. Deep Fried Peppercinis

There is an entire subcategory of state fair food that falls in the "we have it, might as well deep fry it". The results are seldom very good (think pickles), but this undiscovered nugget from the Luigi Fries proprietors is an experimental success. The peppers do not lose their piquancy in the quick frying process, though the brine yields quickly to the frying oil, simultaneously de-emphasizing the bitterness of the fruit itself while adding nuance to the batter.

If I could cite one flaw, it is in the marinara accompaniment. A more ambitious plating might feature a complimentary fruit, or even another "spicy" component. Combine these puppies with a mango habanero salsa, and they vault to the top of the charts.

5. Deep Fried Candy Bars

Well, they taste as good as they sound. Whether this report obliges you to try one of three candy bars (Snickers, Three Musketeers, or Milky Way) coated in a doughnut-like batter is essentially up to you. That said, the item hits its target better than perhaps any other food at the fair. I prefer the Milky Way, which allows the formidably crispy batter to auger the taste experience. Also, by virtue of luck, more than anything, the treat happens to be the ideal fair size.

4. Pork Chop on a Stick

Simultaneous eating and maneuvering is what the Fair is all about. Perhaps the first item to thrive on the semi-ironic cachet we now associate with the stick-based comestibles (the corn dog et al. heretofore having been ideally consumed on a stick), the real key to this fair staple is the coating. Rich and fortified with oils and herbs (and, likely, human sweat), the pork chop is the fair's leading portable potable, the bone fixating the meat in place to make for easy navigation throughout the fairgrounds.

3. Gator

Let's face it, it would probably be easy to phone in gator. The sheer novelty of the offering would be sufficient to keep Gator Bob's open for business. The detestability of the notion of consuming the bastard beast is likely sufficient to prevent repeat business. It is to their credit, then, that the gator has me coming back every year. I prefer the olive oil treatment, which mollifies the gator's rubbery texture, creating a moisture that is rich, but not cloyingly so.

Also, there is a seating area.

2. Salmon on a Stick

Amazingly, one of the fair's best offerings is not deep fried, and might be almost nutritious. The dish features smoked salmon atop a grainy cracker, accompanied by cream cheese, onion, and preserves. The result is the most complicated dishes you can find. The execution strongly hints at the creation of snack-size, mini sandwiches, which makes it an ideal lunch staple. Scarf one while you wait an hour for the mediocre lumberjack show.

1. Australian Battered Potatoes

The quintessential fair food doesn't come on a stick, and lacks the regional bonafides to earn it's own PR campaign each August. But when it comes to delivering what we want, the Aussie's (or whatever catering company is pretending to be Aussie) hits it right on the head. Native New Yorkers often lament the fact that so many pizzerias can't even execute that most simple of styles. How hard can it be?

In short, simple is best. Potato slices, battered and deep fried, served with cheese, ranch, both or neither. Served in a mind-bogglingly efficient manner that makes one wonder if German engineers are running the show here. The end result is a heaping portion of joy. Easily shared (the potatoes are piled six inches high), the Aussie potatoes make for easy food evangelism as you listen to the decidedly unsoothing sounds of Todd Friel harassing some poor Lutheran.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Case For Lieberman

I endorse McCain for president.

You can all get off your pins and needles waiting for that piece of news. As an official endorser, and a blogger, I am required to have an opinion about the best Vice Presidential candidate to join the ticket. With that in mind, I endorse Joe Lieberman to be the Vice President of the United States.

In my mind, there were two questions I needed to reconcile. The first is the question of electability, the second of qualification. On both counts, for reasons both obvious and not, Sen. Lieberman is the man. Here's why:

The splash effect

While polls suggest that the election is surprisingly close, there is no question that McCain needs to do something to change the equation. One cannot continue to trail one's opponent by four points and expect to win on election day.

Typically, studies demonstrate that the bottom of the ticket has little impact on the overall result. Of course, this has as much to do with the desire to play it safe (think Al Gore and Jack Kemp) as any voter apathy with respect to the candidate. A bi-partisan selection by either candidate would have generate quite a bit of buzz, and McCain has been sorely lacking in buzz factor to date.

The Geography Myth

The one thing we can glean from past elections is that the home state of the Vice Presidential candidate has no impact on support for the ticket. Arguments that Romney will help McCain in Michigan are not founded in reality. A Texas-Wyoming ticket has taken the closest presidential elections in decades. Lieberman won't give New Hampshire or Connecticut to McCain, but neither will anyone else.

Expose the radicals

That said, geography will certainly factor into this decision. McCain's team is surely interested in putting Michigan in play for November. In order to win the state, his aides surely feel he'll need some portion of the Muslim vote, a demographic that broke for Bush in 2000 (!). Nominating Lieberman, a Jew will, in practice, constitute a write off of Michigan's Muslim Community.

So let it. In fact, have Joe Lieberman campaign in Dearborn, and let American watch the fireworks. What better way to visually articulate or present international crisis than to have the congenial Senator speak against a backdrop of swastikas and "Death to Israel" signs. The dude with a torch in his hand? He's for the other guy.

The Jewish Vote

At present, Barack Obama does not have a "Jewish" problem. This constituency has been reliably Democratic for quite some time. Frankly, they have established a track record of voting against their own interest, even as the neo-conservative ranks have gained Jewish members. That said, would the community turn down an opportunity to support one of their own?

Even modest gains in the Jewish vote would be sufficient to shore up Florida and Ohio, while putting New Jersey in play. A tidal wave of support could even help deliver Pennsylvania. Further, while Sens. Feingold and Kohl won't be endorsing McCain, Lieberman's presence on the ticket might be enough to convince them to stay quiet in Wisconsin.

The Bi-Partisan Case

Yeah, Lieberman and McCain don't agree on too many of the issues. That said, they agree on the proper response to the most compelling threat to international stability, and their support of the war on terror has been principalled and absolutely correct. Selecting a Democrat reinforces the point that McCain is going to keep his eye on the ball here.

While it is true that Lieberman will have a tie-breaking vote in the Senate, any legislation that passes is going to require substantial compromise anyway. On abortion, the key to banning the practice lies within the makeup of the Supreme Court. Does anyone think that Lieberman would vote down a McCain nominee in the unlikely event of a split vote?

Rather, I think McCain will have more success maneuvering conservative judges through the Senate. The fight over judges has been a losing battle for Democrats because most people aren't rabidly pro-choice, and because the president has made a compelling case that judges are non-partisan. With a Lieberman selection, McCain's non-partisan bonafides will be unassailable, which means he'll win the fight or the Democrats will lose in 2010.

The Obama Response

Depending on whether McCain announces his choice first (though I strongly think he should wait until the Republican Convention), Obama will be in a tight spot. Rumors are circulating that Obama would select Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. Hagel is very conservative on every issue that isn't the war, and I'm not sure that will fly. For the far-left, opposition to the war is a proxy issue for the hatred of other conservative ideals. Given the propensity of the screwballs to go scorched earth (see: Nader, Ralph), is this a risk worth taking?

More likely, Obama will forfeit his plan of picking a Virginian, and pick some sort of military veteran, or, worse for him, Joe Biden. Either way, it will force his campaign to change plans, and to take a risk it did not want to take.

The other guys

Let's face it. Republicans aren't popular right now. That means that the pickings are slim. Selecting allows McCain from having to choose among a lackluster crop. Mitt Romney has been a great fundraiser, but isn't a great campaigner. Further, Romney's Mormonism will require a cease-fire with regard to talking about religious affiliations. Obama's 20 years of pretending to attend a Black Panther church will keep on giving if religion and past affiliations are on the table. Further, Jeremiah Wright has forced Obama to keep quiet about his faith, which has been a powerful(ly manipulative) tool for influencing Christian moderates.

Sarah Palin is the governor of Alaska. So is Ted Stevens. Democrats were supremely effective in utilizing scandal to direct attention away from, you know, what they actually believe about stuff. Her selection would be ridiculous. Similarly ridiculous, though less egregiously so, would be the selection of a business leader. Voters will be holding business leaders accountable for the present financial crisis. Stay away.

That leaves Tim Pawlenty, who I will not throw under the bus here. Pawlenty would be a fine choice in the fine tradition of safe candidates. Further, Minnesota might just be quirky enough to vote for it's native son. That said, I'm not convinced he moves the needle. As I said, he is a safe choice.


While it is unlike me to endorse a Democrat, and I certainly have problems with his ideology, I would urge John McCain to add Joe Lieberman to the presidential ticket.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Olympic Time Happysmears

Hey everyone, it's time for the Olympics. Everyone loves the Olympics. You love them too, it turns out. Maybe you love...


Wow, is that a Falun Gong member against the wall, or are you just happy to see me?


Is seven years old too young to be thrown in a dissident's prison? Yang Peiyi who? No, she cannot appear in a viral marketing campaign for Dove soap. You are referencing an unperson. There is only Lin Miaoke. From now on, all Chinese daughters shall be named Miaoke, to eliminate confusion.


Ha. Their eyes sure do that. Good point, Spain. I suppose it beat the first picture, where Pau Gasol pretends to drive a tank into a blindfolded Jose Calderon.

Happy Olympics everyone, and remember, the five rings stand for harmony, peace, agility, health, commerce and freedom. Wait, that's six? Oh, cut the last one then.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Monday Musings Swing Voter Edition

Hi everybody, my name is Susan. I met Kevin and his wife at Don Pablos. I asked him whether he liked Don Pablos, and he said it was an "egreejis salt on his anasthetic". I told him I liked it too, and he asked if I was an undecided voter. How did he know? Anyway, he asked if I would do his Monday Musings blog this week while he gets ready for a job interview.

I guess we can call it Sunday SUUUUsings... Ha, ha. I'm just kidding though. Well, I suppose I'll get started with a bumper sticker I saw. It says "Driver Does not Carry Cash: He is Married".

Oh my goodness, I laughed about that one for hours.


Can these gas prices get any higher? I have to drive from Lakeville to Maplewood every day (my husband works in St. Michael, so he's got it even worse!!!!)

I don't understand why Congress doesn't do something about gas prices. Our SUVs only get 16 miles to the gallon! Barack Obama has promised to lower gas prices. I'm glad SOMEONE'S listening in Washington...


My daughter Cindy wants me to move to Minneapolis near her when she goes to college. Um, I think that would be a bit much, though :) She likes the city because of all the late night coffee shops that she goes to every Friday and Saturday. She probably goes to those slam jam poetry fests they're always putting on!


My husband argues with me about whether Don Pablos is better than Chipotle. He likes Chipotle better, but I like my food more authentic. Our secretary Rosa is spanish, and she always orders their chimichanga, probably because it tastes just like food in her home country of Spain.


I suppose Kevin wants me to talk about politics. I don't know much about politics, but I do know that the war needs to end now. I support "the surge", and I definitely think we can win the war if we stay over there and take care of business, but I think we should bring our troops home.

Some people say we shouldn't have a timeline. That doesn't make any sense to me. I'm an office manager, and if I was allowed to work without a timeline, I'd be fired. I think President Clinton is doing a good job, but it is time for Bush to go! I don't know why Clinton picked him in the first place.


Sorry folks! I just had to vent. Maybe Kevin doesn't want someone with such strong opinions on his blog. Sorry to scare all his regular readers.


Is anyone else watching the Olympics! I have to admit, I'm addicted. I think it's amazing that we can watch events live even though they are happening in a completely different time zone! I guess it's always day in China this time of year, so it doesn't really matter when they have the events. They probably just schedule the American events during our prime time.


Well, that's all from me. This is kind fun. Maybe Kevin will let me blog every day! j/k (that means just kidding... My daughter taught me that...)

Thursday, August 07, 2008

WFAT: Syriana

“Everything is Connected”, touts the tagline for Syriana, a film whose very incoherence starkly challenges this assertion. Alternately tedious and histrionic, with wooden acting and facile writing, Syriana accompanies its own ineptitude with an unwavering confidence in its indecipherable plot. The result is one of the very worst films ever made.

The movie begins with a scene of workers in, well, I don’t remember where. It doesn’t matter. The Middle East of Syriana is not a collective of nations, but one continuous landscape of oppression, bazookas and oil. I suppose one could attribute the film’s equivocal geography to a commentary on our own knowledge of the region. If this were an entertaining film, this commentary might be compelling. Instead, it is simply confusing.

They work for an American oil company, the bus people, but the movie will get back to them later. See, this is one of those hyperlink films, wherein the audience is treated to a bifurcated narrative that eventually intertwines, or pretends to do so. Such films are ideal for yielding supporting actor Oscars for famous people.

Which brings us to The Clooneychrist, who, in an undeservedly Oscar-winning turn, plays a character of nebulous origin whose job title does not appear on anyone’s payroll. In other words, the same damn character he plays in every other movie. In CC’s world, the only people who earn an honest living are movie stars.

The CIA sends CC to Beirut, where he is tortured by a fellow named Mussawi, aka Jimmy. Why is he tortured? I have no idea. Maybe he caught an advanced screening of the film. Mussawi gives one of those obligatory Reservoir Dogs speeches about how he is going to go about torturing. Then, just before he is beheaded, CC is rescued by Hezbollah (!?) and sent home.

At home, he finds that he is under investigation because, well, there is a cover up. Can’t trust anyone and all that. I mean, I’m just guessing here. The movie provides us with no information. That’s okay, because CC holds all the cards. He threatens to kill a guy, and isn’t under investigation anymore. So that’s good.

Meanwhile, two oil companies are planning a merger. Mergers are bad, and oil companies are bad, so you can bet that the oil company executives are very bad. They are investigated by a lawyer from, I dunno, the Justice Department? Doesn’t matter. He is black, which is Hollywood’s way of communicating that he is a good guy. You get no points for guessing that the oil executives take him on a hunting trip.

Matt Damon plays an energy speculator. He has marital strife, and he plays the pivotal role of the guy who is famous enough that we recognize him when the film needs to arbitrarily tie all of its plot strands together. His son dies in an electrified swimming pool brimming with plausibility. He befriends the prince of, I dunno, Middleasternistan, who favors reform. We can tell he is a good prince because he doesn’t look as Middle Eastern as some of the other ones.

Back to the bus people. They are workers for the oil company that is about to merge, and are laid off as a result of the merger. The father of a teenager is beaten to death by official-looking people, and so he finds work at an apiary. He also begins attending Mosque with results that are in no way predictable.

And so the film does its thing, negotiating its various plotlines with all the seamlessness and subtlety of a bulldozer. Instead of behaving the way normal people would under the circumstances (whatever those might be), they engage in minute-long political diatribes. Things in Middleasternistan are complicated, you see. So complicated, in fact, that it requires literally DOZENS of seconds to explain.

The oil executive tells us that he is a self-made man… That’s complicated. A random lobbyist evokes Milton Friedman in defending his efforts (economists will be surprised to learn that Friedman advocated corruption by name). Matt Damon gives one of his smarty-pants Good Will Hunting speeches about how the Middleasternistani prince can expand his economy, who retorts that American policy is the only thing standing in the way reform. The Clooneychrist gives us the Iran 1952 spiel.

And so on… The only thing Syriana makes clear is its politics, which carry all the nuance of ad. The oil people order the CIA to kill the reformer prince because oil people will murder anyone to get their way, and the beekeeping teen leads a renegade band of terrorists on a waverunner suicide mission. Everything is America’s fault. The end.

Syriana was almost universally praised by critics, likely out of concurrence with the film’s extremist politics. Roger Ebert, in slavishly touting the film, explains that the plot should be indecipherable, because our policy in the Middle East is the same way. But if our policy is so difficult to navigate, how can it be so readily dismissed? The characters in Syriana, though they are surrounded by complicated events, are simple-minded and uninteresting,

The end result is a film that is not at all entertaining, which is telling. If you are making a film as polemic, your characters should be convincing, else what do we conclude about the polemic? Syriana is a walking argument against its own viewpoint, and a damning condemnation of those liberals who ignore the genuine complexity of oil’s geopolitical history in favor of their own partisan narrative.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

New Obama Flavor


Fresh from his worldwide vision quest, Barack Obama is now fortified with zesty foreign policy experience.

Now he is a man! There is no stopping him now. Barack Obama is bonafied, people!

h/t Thom Gladhill

Monday, August 04, 2008

At the precipice

They say that the night is darkest before the dawn. Recently, I have to admit I've been observing the night, and I'm starting to wonder about the dawn. This year, I joined my friends at our annual cabin trip. I have embraced this trip as a reminder of the simple joy of familiarity.

And yet, it felt different this year. You could call it a life stage, or maybe it's just where my heart is before God. But after a few hours, I realized it wasn't going to be the same. Everything felt cold, even clinical, as though I was simply refabricating memories.

In times like these, I find solace in my favorite Bible verses. But even then, it...


Look at this guy...

Hell yeah. It's Spuds MacKenzie. He knows what to do. This is fantastic. Let's all party with Spuds. I'm serious, let's do it.

And he brought his guitar. Spuds MacKenzie is on the scene. He's gonna rock out. Just lay back and watch it unfold. The Merriweather boys will be so jealous when they learn of this.

Braaaaaoooowwwww... Spuds is putting his electric party fingers to use playing intense jams. There is no contending with him, since he knows precisely how to party.


Friday, August 01, 2008

Top Ten Fridays: Hopeface McRace Watch

Regular TPWK readers know by now that Hopeface is black. Actually, he is only 50% or so black, but in the course of a political campaign everything is exaggerated, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt here.

Of course, Barack Obama is fond of reminding us that he is black. Recently, he suggested that ads comparing him to Paris Hilton were racist. Why? Because Paris Hilton is white. They should have compared him to Rihanna instead. That would've gone over swimmingly, I'm sure.

This is the tenth time that the Obama has played the race card. And so, I am announcing a new feature called the Hopeface McRace watch. Every time Barack Obama's campaign plays the race card, my blog will give him a present, and I will donate $1 to the NAACP.

Here you go, Sen. Obama. You've earned it.

To commemorate this new feature, Top Ten Fridays offers the Obama campaign ten ways to trump the race card in response to common arguments... Here we go.

10. Senator Obama lacks experience.

Response: What the McCain campaign is really saying is that black people lack the experience to do difficult jobs. Perhaps Sen. McCain would prefer if Obama stuck to picking cotton, as opposed to being "uppity" and insisting on his right to run for public office.

9. Senator Obama has flip-flopped on the war.

Response: Obviously, this is a reference to the fact that black men prefer tennis or running shoes. It isn't enough for John McCain to despise Obama for being black. He has to hate his black feet as well.

8. Senator Obama's domestic policy proposals represent a drastic expansion of the welfare state.

Response: Clearly, McCain is trying to paint Obama as the typical black welfare addict.

7. Senator Obama is the most liberal member of the Senate.

Response: Any casual observer can note the racial ardor of this charge. What the McCain camp is saying is that Obama is a black man who is not capable of thinking for himself, and that he is a bit too "uppity".

6. Obama's plan to expand the volunteer workforce raises troubling concerns with respect to the net economic impact of having the government act as a competitive employer to industry. The artificial labor force carries with it an intrinsic risk of creating dependency, as severing federal support for the program connotes a de facto downsizing scenario, which has the potential to result in rising unemployment. Irrespective of this scenario, the program raises consitutional questions with respect to the government's role in providing a civilian workforce. Even Franklin roosevelt met a constitutional challenge when implementing his new deal, and one could argue that Obama's plan would be dead on arrival.

Response: This is so racist, it doesn't even require an explanation. They might as well have called Obama "uppity".

5. Obama's race disqualifies him from public office and raises questions about his competence.

Response: This is racist, but not as racist as the other ones.

4. Michelle Obama's controversial statements seem to reflect mutually held assumptions that have yet to manifest in the campaign. Is Barack Obama sincere when he says he loves his country.

Reponse: Perhaps Michelle Obama should just stay home in the servants quarters, instead of being "uppity". The McCain campaign would certainly prefer it that way.

3. Barack Obama has an established record of refusing to take a stand on difficult questions.

Response: What the McCain campaign is insinuating is that Barack Obama, a black man, cannot think for himself. Obviously, they would like to portary Barack Obama as a simple negro.

2. Barack Obama is wrong on the issues.

Response: McCain is calling Barack Obama an "uppity" black.

1. Barack Obama is a distinguished public servant.

Response: The racism inherent in this statement is breathtaking. What John McCain is saying is that most black people are not distinguished. Calling a black man distinguished is the most racist thing you could possibly do, implying that Barack Obama is ambitious and "uppity".