Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Dude A-Biden

Hm. An interesting, if obvious, choice of Vice Presidential running mate for Barack Obama is Joe Biden, Senator from Delaware. He brings experience, intelligence, and foreign affairs knowledge out the wazoo.

Along with a lot of baggage.

I think it's somewhat ironic that Biden was Obama's choice, because the one big flaw he has, running his mouth off, is what got Obama noticed nationally in the first place. Remember this juicy little tidbit?
"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy," Biden said. "I mean, that's a storybook, man."
Funny how no one really played the race card there, but the second the Big Dog mentioned "fairy tales" in the same breath as "Obama campaign, eevn though he was talking about Obama claiming to be anitwar, "RACIST! RACIST CRACKER!" came rolling down the hills like flaming barrels of pitch!

Now, Biden has some strategic significance. Like Hillary Clinton, Biden has ties to the working class areas of Pennsylvania, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, and is the senior senator from neighboring Delaware. Too, at age 65, presumably after 8 years of Obama, Biden would be too old to run for President, thus limiting his danger to the Obama agenda.

And clearing a path to the Presidency for Hillary, should she decide to run at that time. Biden would also lubricate what will likely be a contentious first term in the Democratic Senate.

See, just because Obama is President doesn't mean he'll automatically get his way. First, you have the Clinton faction who would love nothing but to pick off opportunities to injure Obama's legacy, but also, there are likely a significant number of senior Senators who view Obama's rapid rise in politics as something to take down a peg (Biden was probably one of them, so this removes one large obstacle in the same motion).

All in all, this is more of a win for Obama than a loss. There are several issues confronting Biden (after all, if he were perfect, it would be "Biden/Obama '08") most notably his ego and his uncontrollable mouth.

Those could hurt Obama, big time. But, Biden might be a good soldier. He carried a lot of water for Bill Clinton during those years.

I look forward to this ticket.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday Music Blogging

The Who - Love Reign O'er Me

I may have to pull some strings, but I think I'm going to go see them this fall and see if I can get backstage. If I do, I'll be posting a report.

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) Best quote of the week:
Of all the negative achievements in Lieberman’s career, it’s hard to top making Cheney the most likable man in the room.
- Gail Collins

2) The Olympics are drawing to a close, and I am puzzled by one thing that has troubled me since I can remember: why is it, the one nation that practically GIVES you a fucking gun at birth can't hit a fucking target unless it's a black man scurrying across a lawn????

3) I wonder if this is John McCain's way of introducing his running mate, Co-Cain?

4) Yes, that was a stretch. What's it to ya?

5) Geez, what did you expect? It was "found" in the backwoods of North Carolina!

6) I mean, seriously, how stupid do you have to be to decide you want to present all this DNA evidence and an "actual" body? Seriously, how much of a redneck do you have to be? You figure some good ol' boys might dummy up a hoax like this, but to go so far that one gets fired from his job? As a COP?!?!?!

7) "I'm pretty disciplined on this," Obama said on CBS's "The Early Show" when asked about the choice of VP. No, you're acting like a petulant asshole, chum.

8) Apprently, George Bush does not believe that John McCain was tortured. If so, then John McCain aided and abetted an enemy in a time of war, and is a traitor.

9) I say that jokingly, to point out that if McCain was a Democrat, that's precisely what the wingnutcases would be smearing him with.

10) Don't believe me? Here ya go!

11) Not a good week for Olympians.

12) Wow! I guess David Vitter will be busy in Minneapolis!

13) We can finally put to rest the tales of 9/11 conspiracies, at least as far as WTC 7 goes. You don't get much more independent than NIST.

14) We need more judges like this.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Getting All "Dr. Phil" On Barry

This article raises some interesting issues, stuff that's bothered me about Barack Obama since he started stirring the pot during the primaries:
It's not panic time - yet - but some Democrats watching Barack Obama say his campaign should have gotten a wake-up call this week, not only from his appearance with John McCain at the Saddleback Church but from a major poll suggesting he no longer leads his GOP opponent.

At the Saddleback forum with Pastor Rick Warren on Saturday in Orange County, the Republican presidential candidate delivered on-the-money messages and answers so effective they were "scary to me," said George Lakoff, a renowned author and UC Berkeley linguistics professor who has studied how the human brain absorbs and processes messages.

[...]By contrast, Obama was "overconfident ... and certainly not prepared" before the evangelical audience with definitive answers to clearly explain to voters his world view, values and vision, Lakoff said.
Now, admittedly, you could view the Saddleback forum as an exhibition game ahead of Opening Day. It was not that formal a debate setting, the questions were designed to be fairly easy, which means they involved more philosophy than intellect.

The problem Obama will face in the general election is he speaks like a college professor, which works well with his base, but he does not speak like a church minister, which works better with the audience he's looking to attract now.

Lakoff's right and he's wrong: Obama's message is not that much more different than Bill Clinton's, both have spoken about personal and shared responsibilities, but Clinton could deliver it in warm tones and words ordinary people use, and sentences that don't sound like they were lifted from the pages of a self-help book ("You are the change you seek"). That's a fine philosophical passage (Gandhi said it) but it's a tin-eared man who would dare say that in his stump speech and not think he was coming off messianic.

The difficult task ahead for Obama is now redefining himself in the eyes of Americans. While this debate seemed unimportant, particularly to those of us still licking our wounds from the primary campaign and were paying close attention, this debate, as moderated by one of the most popular televangelists in America, was the first time Barack Obama was seen by large numbers of people who were, to say the least, confused about who he was, based on the media.

He is either a shining haloed messiah to the left or a Muslim-born and raised black man who associates with known terrorists, with a funny sounding name to the right. People square in the middle, the lion's share of undecided voters, 13% in the recent Zogby poll the SFGate article cites,half of whom voted for Hillary, could be swayed either way, and this is where Obama's "gun & religion clinging white folks" comments have come back to haunt him.

He has to reintroduce himself. Opening day is next week.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hump Day Comedy Blogging

Posted Without Comment. Click on image for larger view.

The Short List

During my campaign, I have have often been asked, "Who would I choose as a running mate?" Clearly, the very serious office of NotPresident requires choosing a helpmeet of similar gravity.

Much speculation has been made with regards to the choices for Senators Barack Obama and John McCain Vice Presidential candidates.

I would like to end the speculation regarding who I would choose as my running mate right now. I figure I can grab a cheap mention by Memeorandum, and perhaps some of the thunder from Messrs. Obama and McCain.

For my NotVicePresident, I have chosen Pamela Anderson.

Perhaps I should explain why. Ms Anderson clearly bring a couple of assets to the office. Yes, those (gotcha! :-D ), but I had other thoughts in mind as well.

One possible definition of the term "vice president" would be "the president of vice". This opens up fertile virgin ground on which to consider options.

Indeed, Ms. Anderson has some experience in this area. In fact, she could conceivably have more experience than yours truly, thus strengthening an already strong feature of my campaign. Part of my platform is to bring back vice into the private lives of Americans.

Too, she can reach out to voters on both sides of aisle. She has a proven track record with tree-hugging liberals like Tommy Lee, as well as staunch conservative biker-fight-bitch-slappers like the McCain supporting Kid Rock.

In addition, like me, she is of Finnish descent...what is in our water? that means she has at least some fluency in the evangelical church, which would attract the Southern Christian vote in droves.

Just imagine her in a robe on the altar giving a homily, after being doused with a bucket of water. Parishioners would rise in celebration! Talk about a candidate who can get Americans to come together!

Clearly, she's an amazingly intelligent woman, having started out with next to nothing as a small-town Canadian girl, and parlaying and pumping up her meager assets into a multimillion dollar empire. Intelligence of all kinds will not go unrewarded in my administration. There will never be a missed NotPresidential debriefing by ANYONE so long as Pamela is there, fresh out of the shower. The things she could elicit from my staff would be astoundingly profound.

Her background in film would serve well on the Notcampaign trail, too, as she would clearly be a walking photo op wherever she goes.

On a darker note, her past would be fertile ground for the tabloids, thus deflecting their attention from my own peccadilloes and perversions. Look, the 80s were a bit of a blur for me, OK? With Anderson as my running mate...and who wouldn't want to see that! one would care about my goat and dwarf episode from Studio 54...they'd just put her Tommy Lee sex tape on endless loop on Fox News!

Now, I know the Constitution has this silly law with regards to American citizenship and the office of the President, so let me point out two things: 1) I'm not running for President, and 2) I could solve the problem with one stroke, and invade and occupy Canada. Thank you George W. Bush for making it OK to violate the sovereignty of a nation!

But, as I have not formally offered the job to her, I understand she might reject me out of hand.

So to speak. So I have a back up candidate in mind: Carmen Electra.

In fact, seeing as we're discussing vices, why not both? That ought to get me about 70% of the vote, having them both on my ticket, together...closely!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Paradigms Found

The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental and spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest. 
(Emphasis added)

What is "freedom"?

Much has been made on the right wing of this body politic of the word freedom.

Conservatives claim to be the protectors of our freedom, but in reality, theirs is not a protection as much as it is a raping, for they honor the first part of this clause, the part that reads "pursuing our own good in our own way," while ignoring the balance of the equation, the "tyranny of the majority."

If you contemplate this dynamic, of almost libertine allowance of the plundering of our national resources, natural and human, you understand the great flaw of the right wing. One must give back to the community, because the community is what is being plundered for the self. The sheer act of plunder creates a situation where you "deprive others" of their freedom.

As a liberal and libertarian, to me, government is the balance for the equation. Good government guarantees individual freedom. Bad government steals it. For the past eight years, we've seen horrific government. We've allowed our freedoms to be eroded, and in return have seen nothing but heartache and misery.

The underlying flaw of any political or economic system-- democracy, capitalism, socialism, communism, even dictatorship-- is the human element: people cannot be easily predicted or controlled. In the right wing interpretation of a capitalist democracy, there is simply no accounting for the greed, avarice and rapaciousness of individuals.

Even Adam Smith, the father of modern capitalism, warns of this and suggests the only power great enough to deflect these basic human impulses is government.

The Republicans would ignore this, in the mode of Gordon Gecko in the movie Wall Street: Greed is good.

How much is enough? The world is not a win-win game, we've learned that hard lesson over the millenia.

How many billions must one billionaire have, and why? Those billions are earned on the backs of, well, billions of other people. It not only takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to raise a millionaire and a planet to raise a billionaire.

The essence of humanity is to compete with each other, unless you've subsumed the Buddhist philosophy of not wanting. To want is to fight, to fight is to either win or lose.

It is the losers that government should protect. Government's sole responsibility should be to provide protection and opportunity for the people who need the most help, and not grease the wheels for those who are already on their way to success, such as it is defined in the current vernacular.

In point of fact, protecting the "losers", providing opportunity, promoting the general welfare, provides us all with a richer and yes more competitive atmosphere.

Smith's contention that individual self-interest benefits us all through innovation and efficiency's is not wrong and it is not lost in an economy that is governed by oversight, refereed with justice and judgement. It is enhanced. It lowers barriers to entry, deflects predatory practices (could you imagine the subprime mortgage market if there had been someone to say "Stop!" three or four years ago?), and makes rational choices, choices that humans in large numbers are incapable of, precisely because competition forces their hands to make irrational choices.

To cheat. To lie. To steal. These are "rational" only in terms of the game of capitalism, which honors fairness and honesty only when these are breached.

As liberals, we need to stress that we espouse "fair enterprise," to riff off the "fair trade" movement, capitalism with the human element recognized and protected.

UPDATE: Random Moron A seems to be struggling with the conceit that the justice system is part of the government. Go see if you can help him out. Here's a good place to start.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Demolition Man

People spoke, either admiringly or jealously, of Ronald Reagan as "the Teflon President," where corruption and scandal slipped off him like a fried egg from a skillet. It should be noted that the implication of the moniker is that Reagan was indeed a corrupt bastard whose lingering death was thoroughly justified, just as John "Teflon John" Gotti was among the most notorious gangsters this country has ever produced.

But far outclassing them all, I think, in terms of his Teflon coating is George W. Bush. To-wit:
Under pressure over impending impeachment charges, President Pervez Musharraf announced he would resign Monday, ending nearly nine years as the head of one of the United States’ most important allies in the campaign against terrorism.
By my count...Japan and England being among the largest coups... this now makes something like a half dozen world leaders who had closely allied themselves with Bush's Middle Eastern hegemonic ambitions who have now fallen on their swords partly because of it.

Yes, there are lingering corruption charges in Pakistan and Pakistan is not exactly a hotbed of good government, but Musharraf was considered a fairly benevolent leader prior to 2002, and was popular.

The moment he was basically blackmailed into partnering with Bush's ill-fated search for Osama bin Laden, his popularity began to spiral downward.

And yet, there's ol' Dumbya sitting there, just tearing pages off the calendar and packing boxes, waiting to leave office. Nothing seems to touch him despite the fact that he knew about the Plame affair, despite the fact he personally knew there were no WMDs in Iraq, despite the fact he received a Presidential Daily Briefing a month ahead of September 11, and did nothing,

This goes beyond minor internal corruption. This goes beyond the Constitutional violations of the Nixon administration. This certainly goes beyond consensual sex! This is the deliberate and negligent seditious behaviour of someone who at the kindest does not have his nation's best interests at heart, doesn't care, and at worst is raping the resources of this nation to benefit some private agenda.

That last alone ought to be an impeachable offense.

The trouble here now is that, between an unstable nuclear power, Pakistan, and an angry aggressive rival, Russia (Putin, who opposed the Iraq invasion, is still strongly in power. Wonder why...), Bush has left the fuse to the powder keg lying dangerously close to a sparking flame.

And it's getting warm in here...

(props to Memeorandum for tapping this)