Saturday, May 31, 2008

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Best line I read today

"The physical world is very high bandwidth," from this Paul Graham essay.

He is explaining why he is skeptical that online or virtual interactions will ever replace live, in-person ones. This discussion takes place within a larger one in which he tackles how much of people are determined by their city, and what kind of signals different cities give us. For example, earlier he says:
New York tells you, above all: you should make more money....What I like about Boston (or rather Cambridge) is that the message there is: you should be smarter...the message [Silicon] Valley sends is: you should be more powerful.
...A city speaks to you mostly by accident—in things you see through windows, in conversations you overhear. It's not something you have to seek out, but something you can't turn off.
Interesting throughout. HT: Arnold Kling

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"Put On" by Young Jeezy feat. Kanye West

Check out Kanye singing with the T-Pain vocoder-voice about 2:45 in, something kind of mournful about it:
When does this new Jeezy album come out, August? Too long...

Monday, May 26, 2008

The West is okay

We all know at this point that Obama does not have a problem with "working class whites" as such but rather with the Appalachian region specifically. Right? (I wrote a little bit about this here.) Because Montana is a state that is roughly 45th in median income and 91 percent white and Obama is polling ahead by 17 points there.

P.S. ... Not that Obama is really going to win Montana in the general. Just making a (now familiar) demographic point.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Friday, May 23, 2008

Obama and The Case of the Missing VP Committee

According to this morning's WaPo Express, Obama is secretly vetting running mates, but vehemently denies doing so. The story mentioned Obama asking friend and former Fannie Mae CEO Jim Johnson "to begin vetting potential vice presidential picks," according to Democratic officials.

Probably not much of a story. In fact the names mentioned aren't much of a story either.

My question is: who is your pick for Obama's veep? Mentioned in the story were...

-Gov. Janet Napolitano (D-AZ)
-Gov. Kathleen Sibelius (D-KS)
-Gov. Tim Kaine (D-VA)
-former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA)
-Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT)
-Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE)
-Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
-Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA)
-Sen Chuck Hagel (R-NE)
-Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I-NY)
-former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD)
-former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC)
-Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN)

That should just about cover it. Did the story miss anyone?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Obama's Decembrist problem, revisited

More on Obama's most disturbing indie rock associates... Right-wing commentators have tended to focus on the Decembrists' leftist-kitsch aesthetic, which they feel is unbecoming in a band supporting a presidential candidate. But I feel they are neglecting to scrutinize the group's terrible, terrible music as a knock on Obama's judgment...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Flailing at strawmen

How flimsy and far-fetched are the strawman arguments Steve Rhodes attributes to "the Obama cult" today? (Scroll down to "Fairy Tale.") Answer: Outrageously flimsy and totally far-fetched!

I don't really care what the people who have lunch with Steve Rhodes say about Obama, but I do resent it when he pretends their dumbest statements are somehow broadly representative of really anything. Isn't the intellectually honest thing to do to take on the best arguments of the opposing side? Shooting down the dumbest opposing arguments doesn't make you a bold truth-teller. It makes you an asshole.

Pat Buchanan Gives 'W' an 'F' in History

It seems I am often in disagreement with the expressed views of Pat Buchanan. However, in this case I agree rather enthusiastically with his assessment of President Bush's ridiculous "appeasement" speech.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sam Graves is very afraid

I saw the homophobic disco-themed attack ad on Talking Points Memo earlier today, but I did not realize until just now that it is being put on the air by Rep. Sam Graves of Missouri, who I covered when I was a graduate student writing from Washington for the St. Joseph News-Press. Here is the ad, which is complete self-parody:

Graves is the incumbent, but as the ad makes clear he is looking increasingly desperate against ex-Kansas City mayor Kay Barnes, an ally of Sen. Claire McCaskill.

We last checked in on Graves when he was opposing children's health care and serving as a possible factor in McCaskill's Obama endorsement. I bet money that part of his panic here is because it's now clear that Obama is the nominee -- note the use of Nancy Pelosi as boogeyman; HRC is unavailable.

Graves' problem is that he is a hard-core Bush/Cheney Republican running in a district that only leans Republican. Buchanan County, for example, voted for Bush over Kerry in 2004, but only 52-47. McCaskill won there in 2006, as did the state's resolution permitting stem cell research, which Graves opposed. (To be sure, Graves also won in 2006 by a large margin. But his opponent, Sara Jo Shettles, had nowhere near the base that Barnes, a successful mayor and a St. Joseph native, brings to the race.)

In short, Graves is exactly the sort of Republican House member who should be freaking out about his prospects of keeping his job after November. And, right on cue, the ad above -- released in May, which does not exactly project a calm, even-keeled demeanor about the state of the race -- serves as an object lesson in exactly how worried he is.

Here's Barnes' response ad, you will see it strikes exactly the right tone:


Prediction: Graves is toast.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Fear Mongering Begins In Earnest

Somewhere, Sean Hannity is grinning from ear to ear.

Read the article...if you dare!!!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Hillary Clinton's brilliant campaign

Matthew Yglesias:
[I]t's inconceivable to me that Obama's campaign could have gotten off the ground had Clinton spent 2002 and 2003 as a lonely liberal voice speaking out against the war, then spent 2005 and 2006 being completely vindicated in her judgment. It's not just that Obama wouldn't have beaten her, he wouldn't have run at all -- it would have been preposterous. She would have faced a from-the-right challenge in the primary that would have gotten some attention but never posed any real threat.

But Clinton's error on the war opened up serious doubts about her substantive and political judgment about one of the highest-profile issues of the moment. In many ways it's a testament to how brilliant her campaign was all throughout 2007 and 2008 that they never allowed the war issue to bury her, considering that an overwhelming majority of Democratic primary voters think she made a mistake.
It does seem true to me that Clinton's Iraq vote never really hurt her quite as much as you might have expected. One reason is probably that she had so much company within the Democratic Party, including among some who ran for the nomination this year. But another reason has to be that Hillary Clinton, politician, skillfully maneuvered around the issue, pivoting sharply to the left on Iraq policy without ever quite apologizing for her original vote the way John Edwards did.

Friday, May 16, 2008

I will wait for Bun B's endorsement

I was willing to forgive Obama's association with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, with Tony Rezko, William Ayers and even the Arcade Fire. But his association with the Decemberists is truly disturbing stuff...

You don't know what you're talking about

Don't be a spoilsport, Josh Patashnik:
It's certainly fun to watch this guy twist in the wind, but in the end it doesn't enlighten or enrich the public discourse at all.
Oh, I guess, but on the other hand it certainly is fun:

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Analyzing Obama's John Hancock

Handwriting analysis: Important psychological resource or total scam?

Let's see... Barack Obama "deals with different people and situations well." John Hillary Clinton is "controlled, smart and forceful" but "has no emotional pull." McCain has a "possible temper"! Pretty dimestore insights if you ask me. But I still found myself kind of interested in trying to divine the messages in the candidates' signatures...

Monday, May 12, 2008

Call Me An Elitist If You Must...

...but, West Virginia and Kentucky really suck. Yes, I know not everyone in both states is a blatantly ignorant, racist pig. But a disproportionate number of people are. I think this speaks for itself:

Still, Obama’s race and name are different enough for some people that they cannot support him. Bill Donovan of Inez says he’s not racist, and would love to support a black candidate like former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

But he believes that Obama is a Muslim and therefore unsuited to be president. “He was born and reared a Muslim,” Donovan said. “He can say whatever he wants to say but he is what he is. We’re fighting a war on terror and we don’t need a fox in the henhouse.”

View the full article, in all its glory, here.

As the pundits work themselves into a lather tomorrow night and the following Tuesday night about "why Obama can't close the deal with working class whites," please keep in mind that Obama could've spent the entire primary season campaigning in "Bill Donovan of Inez," Kentucky's living room, and he wouldn't have changed his vote. After all, Obama "is what he is." Perhaps HRC's argument to the superdelegates is more persuasive than I thought...

Friday, May 09, 2008

The orderly, unified Democratic Party

Is it me or has the Democratic Party come to seem more unified and less fractious in the last 48 hours? If this is the third day of the general election, I've got to say I am no longer too worried about the long primary's potential to tear the party asunder.

Hillary Clinton's claim (which I see now was referenced by Haahnster just below) that she appeals to "hard-working Americans, white Americans" is a destructive, divisive phrasing. It's an appeal to racial solidarity with Democrats in West Virginia and Kentucky, plus a coded implication that black Americans are not "hard working." Terrible. Old politics, ugly.

But it just doesn't have that old Clinton magic, you know? Her speech on Tuesday had an air of valediction. Her supporters are beginning to lay the groundwork for a concession. No one's going to try to argue that Kentucky and West Virginia will be game-changers. The superdelegates are moving at the exact same rate as they've been moving since February, which is in a slow trickle toward Obama. Michigan and Florida solutions no longer can reverse the result.

And I am not getting a vibe that Clinton and her supporters are ready to destroy the Democrats. Are you? For god's sake Terry McAuliffe says it will not go to the convention. The way it feels now, the ugliness of the primary could be a memory by June, and ancient history by November...

Can't Someone Ask Hillary This Question?

If I were granted even just 5 minutes with Hillary Clinton, this is what I would say:

"Mrs. Clinton, you continue to say you are the strongest candidate, and you would make the best President of the United States. You say the many millions who've voted for you were stating their agreement. I have no doubt you are sincere. Why, then, is it necessarily true that the 'hard-working Americans, white Americans' who've voted for you won't possibly vote for Senator Obama in the general election if/when you are no longer on the ballot? Couldn't it just be that they prefer you, but many will still vote for Obama over McCain?"

I think it's shameful to see someone who has worked so admirably for so long stoop to the level of racial divisiveness to which HRC stooped in that USA Today interview. She will burn this whole thing down...it's her or no one. Disgusting.

CLARIFICATION: What really aggravates me is that HRC's campaign has degenerated to he's beating me; but the way he's beating me won't beat McCain. Like so many of her prior rationalizations of losing, this just makes little sense. And she's race-baiting to make this nonsensical argument. I call that "Leadership...from day one."

One last thing: "Ready on day one," but her chief strategist thought the Democratic Primary was winner-take-all...her f*cking chief strategist!!!! She owes this goof $4 million. Ready on day one, my ass.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Thank You, Cindy McCain

Cindy McCain won't release her tax returns (story here). I think that's perfect, especially this:

My husband is the candidate.

THANK YOU!

Every time some low-life scumbag tries to sensationalize any of Michelle Obama's prior remarks, just roll the Today Show tape of Cindy McCain: "My husband is the candidate."

Wives are officially off-limits, according to Cindy McCain.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Over at the other blog...

For those interested, a couple of good posts up at What's Your Beef? today: one about my conversations with an 85-year-old Hillary fan, and the other one has audio from my interview with a guy from here who spends five months per year clearing out unexploded ordnance from the jungles of Laos.

$10-Million-In-24-Hours-Gate

Now, the report is out that HRC has loaned her campaign another $6.4 million in the last month.

PLEASE tell me it can/will be confirmed that her "$10 million raised in 24 hours" was actually only $3.6 million, plus $6.4 million of her own money!!!

"It's over. It's ... all ... oh-vahh ..."

Don't Call It A Comeback

I'll readily admit I rather enjoyed watching Obama have a damned good night last night.

I'm just wondering how long the new media narrative [Cue the old Howard Cosell tape: "It's over. It's ... all ... oh-vahh ..."] will hold. Just how much earth will HRC have to scorch before people realize she isn't going to do ANYTHING gracefully?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Jindal's coming out party

For the last 10 days or so, freshman governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana has stepped into something of a national stage. Having been vetted by all the right-wing talk shows and talking heads TV shows back in November during his election, he risked fading away as the Republican Party's novelty act, especially as an unprecedented interest was forming around presidential politics.

But with a NAFTA summit in New Orleans, including visits by Bush and McCain, Rush anointing Bobby with his blessing for Veep status, and this appearance a little over a week ago on the Tonight Show (the de rigeur venue for entry onto national stage office-seeking), Jindal's putting together an impressive PR campaign to highlight whatever it is he plans to do.

It also doesn't hurt that he has successfully started the year off with two successful special legislative sessions and that he's so damn likeable on camera.
NB: As for his actual prospects of being selected as running mate, I agree with a Tulane political science professor who said in a recent New Orleans area local evening news broadcast, if McCain picks Jindal, then the campaign becomes about identity and race, and McCain doesn't win that fight.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Indie rock

Fill in the blank:
Also, when it comes down to it, __________ are yet another band of faceless white guys without any charisma or musical identity particular to themselves, and their vocals are timid and consistently buried in the mix. It's an aesthetic decision, and it's part of a tradition, but you know what? It's cowardice as far as I'm concerned. All of __________'s songs would be superior if they didn't sound so self-effacing and indecisive. There's no personality anchoring these songs, just a sort of passive-aggressive, ethereal blankness where a distinct persona and a point of view ought to be.
In this case No Age is the band being described, but if you ask me the exact same paragraph could be written about many, many different bands...

It was never going to end tomorrow

Ben Smith:
But it's also worth noting that, for all the suspicion of polls that we all adopt, the polls have been pretty much right in every single state since New Hampshire. Clinton's won where she led in the polling averages, despite media narratives to the contrary -- California, Massachusetts, and Texas. Obama's won where he led, despite chatter of a Clinton upset -- Wisconsin, for instance.

So maybe we all learned the wrong lesson from New Hampshire, where the facts on the ground got ahead of the polls. As it stands, Obama's up 6.5% in North Carolina in the RCP average; Clinton's up 4.6% in Indiana.
So maybe I am wrong about Obama being the likely winner in Indiana. But for what it's worth, I think there is zero chance that the race ends tomorrow, even if Obama were to somehow win both states by huge margins. The Clinton campaign's cry becomes "On to Kentucky!" and this just keeps going.

After Kentucky, I don't know -- "On to Puerto Rico!" doesn't have the same ring to it. All I am saying is, if Clinton has carried on campaigning through May 6, no way is she dropping out before June 4 no matter what happens tomorrow.

Friday, May 02, 2008

What is reporting?

It's something of a throwaway graf in this Marc Ambinder post, but I am not completely sure I agree with the distinction:
Incidentally, when some critics say "report," they really mean "mention" or "put on your blog." Two different things. Reporting entails an open mind and contacting sources; putting it on a blog entails a few mindless keystrokes. I do both, although I check everything I post, and I find it funny when partisans congratulate me for "reporting" on something when all I've really done is to give it a brief mention, as if the very presence alone is all that's required.
As a blogger who reports/reporter who blogs, the way I look at it is just simply that the the phone is not the only reporting tool. In fact, just plain ol' googling or those mindless keystrokes can themselves be a form of reporting.

To be sure, most of what we consider to be the best reporting entails discovering new information. Ambinder is right to point out that posting a YouTube doesn't exactly meet that criterion. Besides being a real rush, breaking news is very important, and I am certainly not denigrating that function of a reporter.

But another part of a reporter's job is to track down information from disparate sources and weave it into a coherent narrative for an audience. A blog is itself a kind of ongoing narrative, so posting a YouTube or whatever can fit that definition.

There is a certain type of blog post (this one, for example) that is simply commentary spun off from a primary source. But it's also possible to use a blog post to combine pre-existing facts in a novel way, or to present some part of a story in a new way. I think that should be counted as a form of reporting, too.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

In June?

When will the superdelegates decide? Thoughts from one of Wisconsin's superdelegates, Jason Rae, are up over at the other blog.