Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Audacity Of Dopes

As a Hillary partisan, I was surely subjected to my fair share of hubristic shpiel by Obombers. Sometimes it got very personal, but I've got a thick skin.

And I don't write a column that's read by thousands of people or even millions of people a week. I'm lucky if I hit four figures in seven days.

But the New Republic sees some troubling signs on the Obama campaign bus:
Around midnight on July 16, New York Times chief political correspondent Adam Nagourney received a terse e-mail from Barack Obama's press office. The campaign was irked by the Times' latest poll and Nagourney and Megan Thee's accompanying front-page piece titled "Poll Finds Obama Isn't Closing Divide on Race," which was running in the morning's paper. Nagourney answered the query, the substance of which he says was minor, and went to bed, thinking the matter resolved.

But, the next morning, Nagourney awoke to an e-mail from Talking Points Memo writer Greg Sargent asking him to comment on an eight-point rebuttal trashing his piece that the Obama campaign had released to reporters and bloggers like The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder and Politico's Ben Smith. Nagourney had not heard the complaints from the Obama camp and had no idea they were so steamed. "I'm looking at this thing, and I'm like, 'What the hell is this?' " Nagourney recently recalled. "I really flipped out."

Later that afternoon, Nagourney got permission from Times editors to e-mail Sargent a response to the Obama memo. But the episode still grates. "I've never had an experience like this, with this campaign or others," Nagourney tells me. "I thought they crossed the line. If you have a problem with a story I write, call me first. I'm a big boy. I can handle it. But they never called. They attacked me like I'm a political opponent."
I'm guessing there was some operative in Obama's campaign who got a little overenthusiastic.

Obama's press liaison, Robert Gibbs, has built a particularly large reservoir of ill will. David Mendell, who covered Obama's Senate campaign for the Chicago Tribune and authored the 2007 Obama book From Promise to Power, wrote about Gibbs as "the anti-Obama" and described him as "Obama's hired gun, skillfully trained to shoot at reporters whose coverage was deemed unfair. Mendell tells me, "if [Gibbs] feels you're necessary to achieve a campaign goal, he will give you access and allow you in. But, if he feels you're not going to be of help, he can just ignore you." Mendell has his own specific gripe: Apparently, the Obama team was less than pleased with his biography, on which they cooperated, and Gibbs has since refused to help with the second edition.

One reporter sniffs that Gibbs, a native Alabaman and veteran of John Kerry's 2004 campaign, is the "communications director who doesn't communicate." "If you're getting an interview, and they say ten minutes, it's ten minutes," adds Time's Karen Tumulty, who scored an interview with Obama in June. "Robert Gibbs will cut it off."
Now, as the article points out, this could just be the stress and strain of a long campaign with reporters jockeying for stories. What concerned me was this bit:
Still, the campaign hasn't helped itself, approaching reporters with a sense of entitlement. "They're an arrogant operation. Young and arrogant," one reporter covering the campaign says. "They don't believe in transparency with their own campaign," another says.
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, yes, young and arrogant. Almost hubristic.

That's a trope I'm very familiar with from the Obombers, as is anyone who has spoken even faint praise of Hillary Clinton before June.

The problem is, if you piss off someone who buys ink by the barrell (I think that one was Harry Truman's), you tend to pay for it large time in the end. The press had given much of Obama's life story a miss during the primary, since it was clear a) it would ruin a good story to find out Obama was not who he claimed he was, and b) Hillary was going to be the whipping boy girl of the primaries.

During the early part of the primaries, Obama gave good press: good access, full interviews, lots of face time in the press plane/bus/room.

Later, he contracted that.

Now, he practically doles out press time as if it was precious gold. Or oil.

That's not a real bright strategy this early in the campaign.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Music Blogging

Death Cab For Cutie - I will Possess Your Heart

I'm not sure which is the creepier stalker song, this one or this one:

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) The Big Shitpile just got ranker.

2) The answer seems pretty simple: he knows John McCain is well-liked and well-respected across the pond (despite what we liberals might think about him), and while Europeans don't vote, they do speak up. Too, as much as we know little about him, the Europeans know even less, and what they know is filtered through our MSM. Would you want to be defined by FOX and CNN?

3) Our atmosphere is exploding. Don't laugh once you read the article. There's the potential for yet another renewable energy source here.

4) Did you ever really wonder why Tony Blair quit? We need something like this here. We could have been rid of Bush two years earlier!

5) Wanna bet that Obama is shaking in his boots right now over this vote? The lessons of 2006 should not be ignored in the run up to the election of a "progressive candidate for change". The Congress, despite its new clothing, is still the same old whore it's always been.

6) You wanna know how bad this movie likely will be? When I started seeing the TV commercials for it, I thought it was the DVD release!

7) Oh dear! Didn't Obama win these states in the primaries? Well, except Michigan, the state he screwed out of delegates...

8) The Terminator or the Outsourcer-rator?

9) Children, clap your hands really hard and maybe there will be no torture!

10) What was HE thinking?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

It Depends On What Your Definition Of "Is" Is....

Of all the idiotic things for the campaigns to suddenly get bogged down in, this has to rank right up there:
Senator John McCain was chiding Senator Barack Obama for “a false depiction of what actually happened” in Iraq in a television interview this week. But in giving his chronology of events in Iraq, Mr. McCain gave what critics said was his own false depiction.
OK, not so bad in its own right, but...
“I don’t know how you respond to something that is such a false depiction of what actually happened,” Mr. McCain told Katie Couric, noting that the Awakening movement began in Anbar Province when a Sunni sheik teamed up with Sean MacFarland, a colonel who commanded an Army brigade there.

[...] The Obama campaign was quick to note that the Anbar Awakening began in the fall of 2006, several months before President Bush even announced the troop escalation strategy, which became known as the surge.
Seriously, anyone who has paid attention to the Bush administration realizes that it is absurd to think that the surge started after he announced it.

Think about it: on September 12, 2001, the Bushies were already planning to hit Saddam Hussein. Even during the surge, we were warned that the limit of 20,000 additional troops would be breached and it turned out to be nearly 50% higher.

Who is going to believe that Bush had not already very quietly shifted troops deployments and rushed stop-loss orders to inflate the number of troops in what was admittedly already a tenuous and crucial province in the invasion aftermath?

Too, one has to look at the "off-sheet" military, the mercenaries, who were far easier to deploy with little to no announcement. Think of it as a transfer to a branch office.

So Obama's criticism here might be better off muted. It's a silly nitpick, and sounds somewhat desperate. This is a criticism that would be better levelled at Bush, if he makes an incredulous statement like McCain did.

The bigger issue, the one both Obama and McCain seem reluctant to discuss, is whether the surge worked. There's the meat of the debate, and naturally, the basic premise of the entire invasion rests on how effective our military strategies for restoring Iraq have been.

As a military strategy, it seems pretty clear it worked, at least the way a bug bomb works: throw enough materiel quickly at the pests, and you have a lot of dead and dying bugs.

But it's not preventative, and here I think is where the surge breaks down: the political will of the Iraqi people is not focused on defeating Al Qaeda in Iraq or the other insurgent groups, but in getting the real irritant (irritant, in this sense, meaning that which incites violence) out.

Meaning us. That Maliki's government is nearly unanimous in their praise of Obama's stated withdrawal plan-- I still don't trust him to put it into play. His big financial backers have too much at stake.-- is indicative that their focus lies elsewhere.

Getting to the bottom of that is the key to "winning" this invasion.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Best. Response. Yet.

Senator McCain, Respctfully, STFU!

Well, now here's an intriguing little political performance art piece:
The Ad: (Narrator) Gas prices -- $4, $5, no end in sight, because some in Washington are still saying no to drilling in America. No to independence from foreign oil. Who can you thank for rising prices at the pump?

(Chant) Obama! Obama!

(Narrator) One man knows we must now drill more in America and rescue our family budgets. Don't hope for more energy, vote for it. McCain.
(transcription of John McCain ad, via the WaPo)

Now, John McCain himself has opposed off-shore drilling and some of his Republican gubernatorial friends oppose it, like Arnold Schwarzenegger. It has only been recently that McCain has called for drilling offshore. He still supports a ban on drilling in ANWR.

You've all heard the reasons to debunk this trope: it will take no less than ten years for that oil offshore to reach American consumers, by then gas will be $15 a gallon anyway, and no one will be driving cars, and that means there will be windfall profits for oil...oh. Yea. That.

Hm. Offshore oil exploration, hell, ANY oil exploration, is a near-losing proposition when oil is cheap. You milk, errr, pump, the cash cow you have for all its worth when oil is around $20 a barrel, which means you have shortfalls when prices rise rapidly, as they have over the past ten years.

This is why, in 1998, you actually started to see advertisements on TV from ExxonMobil talking about how hard it is to find new oil, but they'll expend the money now to bring you more in the future. Their long-range forecasts had clearly shown that gas and heating oil prices would start a precipitous climb.

As early as 2001, I recall reading market analysts' reports that showed gasoline selling at $5 a barrel by 2009 (we're close), and $15 a gallon by 2015.

This was back when gas was $2 a gallon and that was consider inflationary. A barrel of oil in 2001 sold for $23 (in 2001 dollars). Now, it's $100 more expensive.

Forget that this is about oil companies continuing an unbroken string of profits that make Donald Trump green with envy. This is Big Oil's last hurrah in the US: "cheap" oil that will be a ready source when oil becomes almost as valuable as silver, ounce for ounce.

In other words, oil will be selling in "precious metal" commodities territory.

Naturally, none of this would help you today, tomorrow, this week, this month, this year, or this lifetime. To suggest otherwise is ludicrous. By the time this oil is extracted and refined, most of us will be riding bicycles to work like the Chinese, who will have our oil anyway!

Not a bad thing, in my opinion, since I just bought this little honey yesterday... :-)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Why The Right Wing Needs An Enema

First, let me say this: I have no desire to see Mamma Mia!; I did not want to see it (despite having had an offer for opening night tix) on stage and likely will not see the movie unless I'm sick or something and it's on cable.

I had enough of ABBA music in the 70s, thank you. I wouldn't, for example, want to see a musical based on Phil Collins' music, either.

However, I think there is reviewing a movie on its merits and reviewing a movie self-referentially. To-wit, Pajamas Media
Firth keeps saying things like, “I’d quite like to freshen up” and “Might I be shown my room now?” and “There wouldn’t by any chance happen to be a trouser press down here?” No doubt you are correcting me in your mind: “Not gay. Just British.” I’ve forgotten so please remind me: what exactly is the difference?

There are times when Mamma Mia makes Hairspray seem like Magnum Force by comparison. I have no reason to suspect Meryl Streep is a gay man, but did RuPaul write her dialogue? Wielding a power drill, she is asked if she’s “getting any,” at which point she powers up the drill and says, “Down boy!” She also worries about “A crack in my courtyard,” but do we really want to hear about her crack?

Much of the talk is far worse. Did I really hear the words, “I won’t be muzzled by an ejaculation?” And, “Harry’s talked Tanya into water sports!” and “He’s all mouth and no trousers” and “Get the meat out of the heat”? Still, I could praise all of this and more if only the movie had provided me with a warning to avert my eyes before it provided a shuddery glimpse of Skarsgaard’s butt cheeks.

The Streep character and her battle-ax friends (Julie Walters, Christine Baranski) sing into vacuum cleaners and hair dryers in Dancing Queen, then strut around in pyramid formation. Everyone and everything is “fabulous” or “gorgeous” or “a little minx,” and at a, well, climactic moment a geyser busts out of the floor and bare-chested boys revel in it, in slow motion. Walters is definitely onto something when she says, “It’s very Greek.” Really, what kind of movie borrows its plot from the 80s miniseries Lace? All that is missing is a scene in which the bride asks, “Which one of you three bitches is my father?”
OK, class, now let's count up: I see two overt accusations of "teh gay", one RuPaul, cross-dressing reference, one reference to a Freudian image of a woman castrating a man (with a jackhammer, no less), and several presumably straight (pun intended) faced schoolboy jokes about double entendres and innuendoes (again, pun intended). Not to mention having to drag Dirty Harry (pun intended) Callahan's monster gun into it.

And then it gets worse: poor Kyle, apparently he's never been inside a locker room at a country club (or the airport restroom in Minneapolis), because the sight of an aging male ass has him practically quivering with delight anxiety! An orgasm of outrage fairly explodes out of Smith's keyboard (typing one-handed, probably)!

The denouement, the afterplay, if you will, speaks of sex toys and "fag-hagging" (really, Kyle, you can say it! No one likes you anyway...).


I'm spent just having read my critique of his review!

Whatever Happened To Summer Vacation?

Wow. I mean, wow. When did you start reading about a political campaign in earnest before Labor Day?

Items in the news today:

Obama heads to Iraq - Well, you sort of knew this was coming. I mean, McCain is going to hammer Obama on his Iraq votes and his lack of experience, so why not inoculate yourself a bit?

Giuliani and McCain attend Yankees game - Speculation is rife that Rudy is on the short list. This ticket would be a dream come true for Obama. Imagine Rudy being forced to answer questions regarding racism in New York (Amadou Diallou, Patrick Dorismond and Abner Louima happened on his watch) in the context of running against a black candidate.

James Dobson to endorse McCain? - Certified wingnut & living room gibbon James Dobson, who once famously said "I cannot, and will not, vote for Sen. John McCain, as a matter of conscience," has apparently sold his conscience off.

In a related story, McCain and Obama agree to meet in megachurch forum - It's not so much a debate as sequential interviews with the minister, but it's close enough to the first debate you'll see between the two.

Netroots Nation (aka YearlyKos, aka Don't Bother Attending This Circlejerk) was shunned by Obama This Year - Again, a sign that Obama is abandoning his faux-liberal stance and his faux-liberal buddies at the Great Orange Satan. Hell, even Nancy Pelosi had the cojones to show up!

No more Electoral College? - Not quite, but there is a movement afoot by states to have their electoral college votes endorse the national popular vote winner. There's nothing unconstitutional about it, either, as the states clearly have the right to apportion their electoral votes as they see fit.

This last one might make for some intriguing possibilities come November 4...