Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bush pardons drug dealers

Am I the only one surprised that five of the 14 just-announced Bush pardons are drug-related offenses? Not that this changes anything structurally about the drug war, but I wouldn't necessarily have expected these offenders to be on the White House radar at all. But, good to see John Forte freed, anyway...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

British judges go home!

Kool Keith on Simon Cowell:
The A.V. Club: What's your beef with Simon Cowell?

Kool Keith: I think for one guy to sit up and judge people and for him to be British at that—who the fuck is he to judge people? To come to America and try to judge people? I think Simon needs to get the fuck out the set and give it to someone else. Paula Abdul used to be an artist, choreographer, dancer, she needs to go back to that. I don't want her judging talent at all. Randy Jackson, he's cool, he's a buddy of mine. Let Randy be. Simon needs to get the fuck out of here and go somewhere. What is Simon's qualifications? I'm trying to figure it out. That guy wears a black shirt with a gay haircut, and he's going to walk around and judge people? I don't understand it. That show is full of bullshit. I'd respect it if they had an American artist doing the shit.
I completely agree, naturally. But isn't Kool Keith a bit behind the cultural curve here? I would think the time to start beef with Simon Cowell would have been 2003 or 2004. If it's the British thing that bothers him, Keith could have gone after that judge on Dancing with the Stars anytime in the past few years.

Today, I think the person to go after would be Dr. Drew for his bullshit celebrity rehab advice and, obviously, his gay haircut.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Neo-Soul on Holiday

Spin has a great story about the rise and fall and extant questions surrounding the prodigious D'Angelo, with appearances by ?uestlove, Common, and others.

Well worth the read.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My problems

One thing about owning a house is that you are responsible for all the mysterious sounds in the pipes and so on. I am not bad at fixing things and I am gaining experience. The toilet I can handle, that is a simple mechanical device, you can see all the pieces. The radiator that clicks a little bit is probably not a big deal, I think, although who knows? But the squeaky pipe that sounds like a bird chirping through the night, that I do not care for. The chirp is quiet enough to sleep through, not a bother really, but I still notice it. I ask myself, could I fix this? How would I even begin to try to fix this?

Beginning Friday, I have 10 days in a row off work, the longest break I have had since I moved to Wausau in July 2007. In fact, I have not even had 7 consecutive days off in that time. I am nervous about it for some reason. I'm afraid I'll find I don't have any outside interests, or something. Having time off work is really not a reasonable thing to be worried about, is it? But there you go.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What's the big Lieberman deal?

I have never completely understood why I'm supposed to hate Joe Lieberman so intensely. For him to have a primary challenge from the left, sure, naturally. For him to have diminished standing as a senator and especially in the eyes of Democrats, yes. I can even see the argument for removing his chairmanship. But I guess I have trouble quite getting the vehemence of the anti-Lieberman faction.

Let's be honest: Lieberman's rhetoric this year was partisan but not equivalent to Zell Miller's odious 2004 rant against John Kerry. His hawkishness is unlikely to be of much import in the new Congress. And isn't Lieberman still a Democratic ally on more issues than he's an enemy?

Or, am I wrong and traitors need to be punished, period? Would one of you lefty types care to explain?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Kanye still on autotune

Still good, too. And a great video:

Heartless from kwest on Vimeo.

P.S. ... See also this Kanye/Radiohead mashup by DJ Earworm, which layers "Love Lockdown" over "Reckoner."

Monday, November 10, 2008

Moderate evangelicals still won't vote Democrat

Something I've been interested in for some years now is this idea that Democrats can peel off a significant percentage of the moderate evangelical vote. So it behooves me to note that, nope, didn't happen this year either:
Born again Christians or evangelicals made up 36% of Bush vote and, by my count, 38.% of the McCain vote.

Some of that results from non-evangelicals -- Catholics in particular -- abandoning the Republicans while evangelicals mostly stayed put. But the Republican ticket actually drew two million more evangelicals in raw numbers than George Bush did, presumably because of excitement about Sarah Palin and extreme fear of Barack Obama.

Whatever the reason, some four million more evangelicals turned out this time than last, some going to Obama but most to McCain.
Luckily for me, I have always had a fallback argument on this matter, which is that there's a bankshot effect that comes from wooing moderate evangelicals. What I mean is that just the act of courting this group also projects a number of qualities that (non-evangelical) independent voters see as desirable -- moral seriousness, moderation, non-engagement on some of the culture-war issues.

At this point I suppose my fallback argument because my primary argument, because undoubtedly Obama assiduously courted this group, and they did not bite. Maybe Sarah Palin strongly appealed to them, or maybe they are simply unreachable by any Democratic presidential candidate. Either way, if Obama's performance is indicative of the potential for a bankshot effect, then Dems probably ought to keep right on reaching out anyway.

Keep Patrick Fitzgerald working

As someone who used to care a lot about Chicago's culture of political corruption, I'll heartily endorse the Trib's call for Obama to live up to his promise to keep Patrick Fitzgerald on as U.S. Attorney. I still believe this is the single most important thing Obama can do toward solving that problem.

If Obama does keep Fitzgerald on, it seems to me that the anti-machine types who have cried and complained about Obama's complicity in the system would face some serious realpolitik questions -- about their preferred tactic of fighting the machine, which is to loudly and constantly denounce it, and about what really counts as complicity. A politician they deemed insufficiently anti-machine would have quietly helped dismantle the machine, and that would have to be accounted for.

On the other hand, if Obama does remove Patrick Fitzgerald, and if the investigations of Blagojevich, Daley et al. are somehow scuttled as a result, that would strongly reinforce the most cynical views of the city's politics, and of Obama's motivations. I don't know any more than you do, but right now I'd say it's very unlikely but not impossible that President Obama would remove Fitzgerald as a favor to certain Chicago interests.

But it's an open question. Like the Tribune editorial board, I would like to hear from President-Elect Obama about it once again.

P.S. ... Alternatively, there may be ways of fixing Chicago's and Springfield's political cultures without resorting to indictments. That's not what I believe, but that may be one of my points of disagreement with some of the anti-Obama-anti-machine types. If you believe an Illinois politician now living is capable of changing the fundamental structures of Illinois political culture, you will not agree that counting on the U.S. Attorney to clean things up is an acceptable answer.

P.P.S. ... Another alternative, Fitzgerald remains in place but still nothing changes. Totally possible. I do not say leaving Fitzgerald in place automatically destroys the machine. I say it's the state's best shot at destroying it.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

will.i.am's victory lap

The election cycle has been nearly as good for will.i.am as it was for Obama. But I quite like this new song, too, in which he channels the Arctic Monkeys or somebody and, importantly, doesn't rap:

Thursday, November 06, 2008

AMillionMonkeys checks in with Steve Rhodes

Hey, this would be something fun to do, let's check in with Steve Rhodes and see how he is handling the news! Checking in on Steve Rhodes is something that has not occurred to me for some months. BRB. ...

Well, Steve Rhodes Tuesday demonstrated his superiority to people like you and me by writing in Bob, the owner of the Beachwood Inn bar, for president. What a cool and edgy move by Steve Rhodes! He is like a character from that awesome, timeless movie "Reality Bites," no?

He is really catching the zeitgeist with that cynical alienation thing. His election guide is self-parody, as well. It looks like he recommended practically a straight Green Party ticket...

Bonus Rhodes-bashing ... In an attempt to be curmudgeonly, today's column scoffed at the idea that this election actually produced record voter turnout. He is quite right to point out that the raw number does not tell the whole story. But he gets everything else wrong. Rhodes writes:
Last I saw, [voter turnout] was about 61 percent -- or the same as 2004.
No. It was 62.6 percent. That is more.

Also, turnout in 2004 was 60.1 percent. But, whatever.

Ambinder on Rahm

This makes sense:
Barack Obama doesn't seem to be too interested in everyone else's opinion of how he's supposed to run his White House. This can only be a good thing (unless you're a Republican praying for Obama to make a fool of himself). It seems that, much like with the campaign, he has some long term goals and isn't worried about engaging in small fights over things like his West Wing staffing choices.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Slander! Unnamed sources vs. Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin didn't really not know that Africa is a continent and not a country, right? I mean, I believe every word of the wardrobe stories, but this cannot possibly be true:

It's Romney '12 people spreading such lies, I assume. We can only hope their recriminations continue for days and days, because this is great stuff...

Front pages


And many others I pulled together here.


The choice of Rahm Emanuel as Obama's chief of staff, if true, is somewhat dissonant and surprising. No drama? With this choice, Obama will certainly take a hit with the chatterers -- what happened to being post-partisan, etc. -- but that is a very minor, very temporary problem.

What I think this signals is an intention to be very aggressive in pursuing a legislative agenda. Rahm knows every single House member and seems to know how to get them to do what he wants.

Obama wins

He was right.

Good speech, too.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Ground game

My bro-in-law Dom emails:
So you spend months hearing about this incredible ground game Obama has, and then all of a sudden this morning, there it is. I'm driving around with Matty running a couple of errands, and they're EVERYWHERE... getting in and out of vans, escorting people into and out of houses, lining the streets holding signs... it's absurd. We ran around for about 30-45 minutes, and I saw no fewer than 40 volunteers in 7-8 locations. And this in a state where he's polling 15-25 points ahead! I'm a little surprised they're not trucking these people down to Virginia, but I'm sure they know what they're doing. Anyway, it's impressive to see.

Links perfect for killing time...

I have been posting some links over at the other place, if you, like me, are having trouble waiting for returns to come in.

I am the best

I like how Matt Bai includes a piece by Matt Bai in his list of favorite campaign coverage.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Election stuff to click at

If you're looking for stuff to read, here are a few of my recommendations to WDH readers...

Early voting = Election Day voting?

From this morning's First Read:
Obama holds an eight-point lead over McCain among likely voters, 51%-43%, according to the final national NBC/WSJ poll before the election. [...] One more thing: 30% say they've already voted, and those voters break by an identical 51%-43% margin.
Hmmm. Wouldn't you expect early voting to be more heavily weighted for Obama than a national poll? Enthusiasm, organization, boots-on-the-ground... I thought the Obama campaign's plan was to bank a huge lead in early voting.

Of course, 8 points is a huge lead, and even if Election Day results are closer than this, the Obama campaign has a cushion. Just saying...

UPDATE [11/3 9:21pm] ... Slate's Mickey Kaus has the same reaction and uses the same "hmmm" construction. I hereby retire from blogging.

UPDATE II [11/3 10:54pm] ... Now comes Marc Ambinder with this not-insignificant bit of information:
Historically, Republicans have had an advantage over Democrats in terms of absentee balloting; Democrats tend to outperform Republicans in terms of in-person early voting.
Aha! This means that simply by reaching parity with national polls, the Obama campaign has already made up substantial ground. So perhaps this is a demonstration of the campaign's superior enthusiasm/organization/boots-on-the-ground after all.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Election guide

Not surprisingly, Chuck Todd has the best, most accessible state-by-state election guide I've seen, running down each state's presidential prospects with downticket context.

Marlo for Obama

Sent by my friend Kate Ling: