Wednesday, February 27, 2008
"...let's show the Obama campaign that they can't win this race just by throwing more money at it."
"Let's match that $1.9 million ad buy of his and make sure this is a race of ideas, because that's a race we know Hillary will win. Contribute now to help us raise $1.9 million in 24 hours."
What? What? You say you can't win a race by throwing money at it, then you ask for money to throw at it? What the shit, Bill? Have you lost it?
The event was covered extensively by the world-wide media and touted by some as a resurgence of the type of ping-pong diplomacy in the 1970's that helped de-ice relations between the U.S. and China.
The White House, however, has played down the importance of the cultural exchange. While North Korea welcomes world-class orchestra, it continues to turn a deaf-ear to international efforts to quell its nuclear capabilities.
As reported by the Los-Angeles Times, a six-nation deal reached last February offered the North a million tons of fuel oil, normalized ties with the United States and Japan and a formal peace treaty, if it scrapped all nuclear programs and material.
The North had agreed to disable its atomic plants and fully declare all nuclear programs by January 2007. But it missed the deadline amid a dispute with the United States over the declaration.
Naturally, the current spat about North Korea's nuclear status is weakened by the U.S.'s lack of venom. The international community is opposed to Kim Jong Il's possession of nuclear weapons, as well it should be, but is painfully equivocal when it comes to sanctioning his actions. North Korea is playing a protracted game of cat-and-mouse with the Atomic Energy Commission. When the AEC suspects North Korea has gone too far, stolen the cheese, and pushed the boundaries, it grabs a hold. North Korea, under the infinite wisdom of the "great leader" then backs down, promises to abide by the rules, and sends a wave of eager-eyed diplomats to discuss possible compromises.
Of course, North Korea has no intention of playing by the rules. It wants international carrots, without the risk of sticks. It wants oboes to drown out the screams of anguish from millions of impoverished, starving North Koreans. And it doesn't stop there.
After hosting the New York Philharmonic, North Korean officials have invited Eric Clapton to play next year. Ping-pong diplomacy meet snare-drum detente. She sure don't like cocaine, and I'm guessing she don't like nuclear-armed lunatics either.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
I'm about to turn this off. I never want to see HRC on TV again.
Update: Oh my God! MSNBC has it in for her! I guess that's what you get for wanting one of their reporters fired.
Update update: Oh my God! Hillary Clinton knows nothing about this guy. She doesn't even know his name!
Update x3: OK, neither of them know that he runs Gazprom. Blah.
It's an interesting situation, and may make polling data even more insignificant. I haven't looked into how many of the remaining primaries are open, so I'm unsure how much influence Republicans could have on the neck-in-neck campaign between Obama and Clinton. But, it makes sense - Republican voters know that McCain's going to win, so why not get in on the spectacle that is the Democratic nomination?
I don't know how many Republicans will do this, or how much influence it will ultimately have, but who would it help? I'm inclined to think more Republicans will vote for Obama - just to ensure that they don't end up with another President Clinton.
God save us. It certainly can't be because her campaign has been run worse than anyone could possibly imagine, or that she completely misjudged the electorate. 'Experience' and 'competence' are never particularly great memes for running a campaign, let alone in this cycle.
"Rendell insisted that the "media has relished this fall with glee that I have never seen in any other candidate in the thirty years I have been in the business." Uh, you forget the joy that the media had in absolutely tearing apart Al Gore's campaign in 2000, apparently. Or the media's visceral and repeated assaults on Howard Dean in the winter of 2002-2003.
Seriously, the Clinton campaign is delusional. They're acting like Joe Stalin for Christ's sakes - "Everyone's out to get me!" Give me a break.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
I was aware that Biden was planning a trip to Afghanistan after holding hearings in the Foreign Relations Committee. I met him last year when he was campaigning in Iowa City for his unsuccessful run for the Democratic Presidential nomination. I went to see many candidates, but Biden was the only one I had any confidence in. He's the only one I agreed with on most issues. I went to a few of his events, and when I went to his book signing at Prairie Lights, he must've recognized my face b/c he asked me, "Don't you ever get tired of hearing me talk?" I realize this is what successful politicians do, but it felt nice to be acknowledged.
That's about as intimate of a connection I have with Senator Biden, but when I heard about the helicopter I dropped everything I was working on, tears began to well in my eyes, and I frantically searched for more information on the news websites to see if he was okay. I think it's safe to say that I panicked.
Eventually, I found that it was no big deal, Senators Biden, Hagel, and Kerry had been on a helicopter and had to land due to bad weather. I breathed a sigh of relief and proceeded to feel really really stupid. I pride myself on my ability to be logical rather than emotional. It was weird to feel this sense of panic and sudden burst of emotion in the middle of my work day. Especially for someone like Biden who is a public figure rather than a personal acquaintance. I felt like a dumb girl.
But then I started talking to some friends who actively campaigned before the Iowa caucus. They cried on caucus night because their candidate wasn't viable. They were overcome with emotion after they'd worked so hard and been so involved in their respective campaigns. After speaking with them I realized, this is something unique to Iowans. We end up with a close bond to the candidates we support. Especially those of us who supported candidates like Biden, Richardson, and Edwards - who dropped out b/c they couldn't make their message resonate with voters or in the media over the the distortion of Hillary's cackle or the outbreak of Obama Fever. The Iowa caucus and the process of campaigning can create an illogical emotional tie to someone we hardly know.
So, after I got over the silliness that I actually had tears in my eyes (I never cry!) I started thinking about my reaction a little more in depth. Sure, Iowans may end up with emotional ties to presidential candidates. Maybe that part isn't as weird as I thought. But I thought about that sense of panic when I heard those words... "U.S. Senators... Afghanistan... Emergency landing..." It was a brief, spontaneous, and uncontrollable reaction to the news. And I began to consider how it must feel to be a family member who reacts every time they hear a newsbrief with the words... "U.S. Troops... Iraq... casualties..."
I can't imagine having a loved one fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. My reaction doesn't even compare to the emptiness that must be felt by those who have family in harm's way - when they hear only numbers of troops injured or dead, and worry that the unreleased names may be someone they love. After my brief panicked reaction last week, I felt a sense of sorrow. We're always reminded to "Support the troops" but it's not often that we're encouraged to consider what their families must go through.
If my brief personal ties to a public figure can inspire a sense of fear and panic with a quick newsbrief, what does a family member go through when there is bad news from Iraq and Afghanistan? It's impossible to put myself in that situation, and my heart goes out to anyone who has a loved one in harm's way.
To be sure, upon publishing a rather uncomplimentary article about Sen. John McCain, the New York Times found itself at the forefront of political conversation. Typically regarded as one of the world’s finest newspapers, the Times is accustomed to unveiling major stories. It is not, however, accustomed to finding itself as the subject of media attention. But, as they say, all good things must come to an end.
Make no mistake, It is not my objective to accompany right-minded media commentators in their efforts to oust the Times as a partisan establishment, its mind set on conservative sabotage. No, Rush Limbaugh and the like, from what I can tell, seem no more effective in making this argument than any other. Rather, it seems that the criticism to be made is one of a singular (albeit substantial) lapse of judgment. As I see it, even the most trustworthy source loses much of his or her credibility upon requesting anonymity. Of course, a story of this magnitude must be covered, but perhaps it would be best suited to publish at the expense of obstinacy. That is, without providing readers with the same evidence afforded to the story’s authors, making such hard-line convictions is the sort of unjustified endeavor best left to men of the aforementioned Limbaugh’s caliber.
Fortunately, the Times reestablished much of its credibility upon publishing an editorial in opposition to the McCain article. However, the damage done to McCain’s campaign is unequivocally tangible. The propriety of this damage, it seems, is a query now amongst the ranks of the article’s anonymous sources, as all are now beyond our ability to ascertain. And, though I am quite assuredly not a supporter of John McCain, I must believe that the Times ought to have produced the article as such. That is, the Times ought to have acknowledged the difference between describing accusations of indeterminate credibility, and thusly making them, as this distinction has since proven paramount. As such, it now seems obvious that, despite the implicative-weight of his work, a journalist is forever at the mercy of credibility.
It's desperate times for the Clinton campaign. Every last trick in the book, everything but the kitchen sink, will be thrown at Barack Obama this week. Whether or not any of the mud pies will stick will be up to the voters on March 4th.
He's a plagiarist, and his voters are delusional. He's not patriotic because he doesn't wear it on his sleeve, literally, and his wife hates the country. He lacks substance. His plans aren't truly universal. Next we'll hear how he once didn't rinse off his dishes, hates kittens, and never puts the lid down.
Clinton will say anything - at least anything left she hasn't said yet - to win this thing. She'll say it this week. She sounded almost resigned to the numbers in last week's debate, like she was trying to convince herself that "we'll be okay" after this race is over. She needs 65% in Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania to win. Even then, there's the superdelegates. Even then, there's Michigan and Florida. I'm sure losing in one sense won't mean a gracious bow out, but an introduction to a new strategy.
Now she's attacking old Obama mailers, one of which quotes the DI endorsement. We're not reputable, as a paper, because we're students. Funny, that after Iowa voted we weren't as important as Michigan or Florida, and the same after-the-fact logic is being used now on the Daily Iowan endorsement. I wonder if the Clinton camp would have used our editorial if we had endorsed her instead.
It's going to be an ugly, disgusting, filthy week. Full of attacks, slams, and screeching from the polarizing harpy. True to the month in which it's likely she'll go out, she's likely to go out like a lion, kicking and screaming and raising holy hell.
I'm looking forward to April, and for more than a change in weather.
What's the point of a Nader candidacy? "Because I got things done," he says. He's right on that point, of course. Maybe I'm still bitter about the 2000 election (you all remember that one, right?), but Ralph Nader certainly did something to Al Gore's campaign.
Just imagine America today without the presidency of 'Dubya.' It sounds reassuring, doesn't it? Judging by the voices on our blog, Hillary Clinton certainly isn't the most admired politician in the Democratic party; then again, I'm not completely sold on Barack Obama either (no free sandwiches from Nate after saying that one!) The problem with Ralph Nader is this: He doesn't matter.
Oh yeah. For all those who don't like John McCain because he's too old to be president (face it: The fact that he can't lift his arms over his head is troublesome), listen to this: Ralph Nader turns 74 on Feb. 27. That's, like, three years old than McCain, isn't it? Well, two-and-a-half. But still.
Ralph Nader couldn't win a UISG election (more on those later). But if he did, he should run on the 'I think I'm gonna Ralph'-ticket.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
EDIT: Check out Cesc Fabregas in the background. That expression, though it may be hard to see in the smaller versions of these shots, speaks volumes.
Friday, February 22, 2008
"Martin Luther King had a phrase that he used in 1968, that he'd been to the mountaintop..."
oh, dear God, she can't possibly be...uh...
"frankly I think Senator Clinton took America tonight to the mountaintop."
Wow! Seriously? You're going there? Yes, I often recall MLK discussing change we can xerox. Most people remember "I have a dream" but I always like the xerox line better myself. What debate were you watching, Sheila? She followed up with this nugget, "It wasn't about attack it was about distinction."
She accused her opponent of plagiarism! Seriously. For all the claims of messianic idol-worship that Obama supporters are accused of, this is the biggest example of drinking the kool-aid I've seen in this campaign.
- Before I even begin, as the LCD displays a freezed picture of Hillary being introduced, I must thank CNN for sending Wolf Blitzer to the store to pick up groceries while Campbell Brown takes the reins. I have fond memories of when Campbell was with NBC. I worked at KWQC, the affiliate in the Quad Cities, and Dan Pearson, who was the sports director, used to huddle around the satellite feed with me to watch a tasty Campbell deliver her report. Good times. Debate? Oh, yes, debate. Back to the debate.
- Did Bono just take the stage? Oh, no. The crowd is simply reacting to Obama.
- Thanks again, CNN, for no Blitzer.
- This debate is a chance, though a slim one, for Clinton to crawl back to relevance. Let's see if she takes it.
- Is Clinton running for Miss America or President? She doesn't stop grinning. She's also doing a great job of attempting to convince Texas that she is indeed a daughter of the Lone Star State.
- It's possible that I have the bass too high on my stereo. It's also possible that there's some kind of breeze on stage and the mics are set to sensitive levels. Annoying, either way.
- "What's lacking right now is not good ideas. Washington is where good ideas go to die." First good quote of the night, chalked up for Obama.
- Note to CNN director; why do I need to know that George Lopez is in the audience?
- What if, as they were debating, the candidates played Rock-Em-Sock-Em robots? Just a thought. They're sitting right next to each other, after all.
- Clinton says she would meet with the Castro regime "once it demonstrated...change in direction." Terms before talk. More holier-than-thou attitude. As if our diplomacy is some divine gift only worthy of a select few and on specific terms. What punishment! The U.S. won't talk to us, boo-hoo.
- Sadly, Obama agrees, but to a much lesser degree. Stresses the importance of talking to enemies as much as talking to friends. Explains how the miserable failure of the Bush administration in diplomacy makes such a push that much more important.
- Why does CNN have an overhead camera? This isn't a football game.
- Obama is a southpaw. -1
- Do my ears deceive me? Policy specifics from Obama on the economy? I thought these didn't exist!?!? He must be plagiarizing them.
- Wolf Blitzer; still not there. Debate; still more watchable.
- Question: What would you do differently than your opponent. Both punt, drawing out similarities, proposals, not differences. Both bash Bush.
- Jorge Ramos, you really don't need to speak in Spanish. It's not necessary. You come off as a silly prat by doing so. Stop it, Jorge.
- Both give generic answers on immigration. Yawn.
- Dems are talking tougher on fence than Bush administration.
- Civility is boring.
- Jorge talking in Spanish again = Jorge being a massive tool again. Jorge you will not be invited back. Leave your press pass at the desk and do not collect $200.
- Ah, the halfway point. A break. I watched the first half of this debate live, on my laptop, during a lecture. I missed nothing. This has been a snoozefest.
- Does anyone miss Wolf Blitzer? No. Not even Wolf Blizter misses Wolf Blitzer.
- And we're back. Barack seems to be writing an extensive shopping list while Clinton takes a question on Obama's credibility. C-o-t-t-a-g-e c-h-e-e-s-e.
- Clinton with a subtle jab at Obama. Talks about one of his supporters on TV that couldn't tell a reporter one thing he'd done. Obama deflects it well, reciting history on ethics reform and veterans benefits. Says people aren't jaded, that they know well the problems of the country.
- Campbell asks about the plagiarism claim. Obama calls the allegations silly, crowd cheers. He asks for focus on the issues, not on the garbage. "We shouldn't be spending time tearing each other down. We should be spending time lifting the country up." Clinton smiles, but you know she's thinking "F*ck."
- AND WE HAVE BOOING! Juvenile "Change you can xerox" line from Clinton is met with hisses and boos. Evidently she's got lots of experience, lots of solutions, but doesn't read the Boston Globe, or didn't in April of last year when Obama and Patrick discussed exchanging the line in question. She's really going after this hard. I smell desperation. First time in Presidential history that a candidate is citing YouTube as hard, factual evidence of an accusation. What's next? Wikipedia?
- Clinton defending insurance mandates. No one will be left out...of being fined for being too poor to afford insurance. This debate is her chance, and she is whiffing...HARD. She helps me realize that I don't have insurance because I haven't been forced to buy it, not because I can't afford it. Thanks, Hill!
- Jorge asked a question and didn't say a word in Spanish! Good, Jorge!
- Clinton dodges question on being ready to lead and runs back to insurance issue. Mandates rock! Issuing fines to poor people is fun!
- Iraq, for the 498th time in this election. Obama again points out he was against it from the beginning. This is where Clinton is fortunate that the economy is floundering and has taken over as the #1 issue with voters. Clinton with a rare moment of clarity, laying it out so simply you wonder why it hasn't been said in this way before; "It is not in the best interest of our country or of Iraq that we continue to be over there."
- Obama hits again and again all night on veterans benefits. How about Dennis Miller's proposal that veterans don't pay taxes? The debate is listed as an hour-thirty on my DVR, yet as they go to break with three minutes remaining Campbell tells the cameras they have a lot left ahead.
- Overall it had little frills. Some sparks on insurance, and a gimmicky line from Clinton on plagiarism. This was a missed opportunity for her tonight, but I'm not upset about that. Can we stop having these debates now?
- Wolf Blitzer; still a deutschebag.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
I was disappointed when you broke this story on McCain. Yes, it needs to be reported, but by who? And where? This is more fitting for Extra! or Hollywood Tonight or People magazine. The steaming, foul stools; floaters of the news business. They are perfect for this sort of information.
My esteemed editor has already touched on this issue. My point in this post is to thank you, NY Times, for the reaction you caused Rush Limbaugh to have.
I take so much joy from watching his stupid, screeching, swollen mass bobbing up and down in that poor chair of his, spasming at the unfortunate (for other GOP candidates) timing of the NY Times article. His hateful "eevil librul" rants get more and more venomous. I love it. I drink it up. It is my milkshake!
Bill Clinton fools around with an intern. He gets raked over the coals, dragged through the muck, and, scorched and dirty, gets impeached.
John McCain allegedly has a relationship with a lobbyist, for whom, say the Post and the Times, he used his leverage as chair of the Senate Commerce Committee to do favors. He might not even lose his presidential bid.
Upon reflection, though, this couldn't possibly help him with the social conservatives that are already a little leery of him. After all, they're the only ones who actually care about crap like this. But there are legions of people who don't, in their heart of hearts, care about this crap either,
but will absolutely vote against him to convince themselves that they're moral people.
I've no idea what the full fallout will be. I kind of hope it ends up with the GOP nominating someone completely impractical like Huckabee to run against Obama. (And let's face it, it's looking more like Obama every day.)
I'm not going to attack John McCain for this, either. I don't think the personal lives of politicians, unless they're selling secrets to the Chinese, are any of our business; a product of my formative years, which were during the Clinton presidency.
But it's hard not to crow, just a little bit.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Kevin Rudd, serving in his second year as Australia's prime minister, opened the 42nd parliamentary session with a booming condemnation of the government's inhumane treatment of indigenous Australians. The Australian Aboriginal population, estimated by the Human Rights Watch at four percent of the population, have been forced into slavery, subjected as sub-human, and many thousands of Aboriginal children were snatched from their parents and sent to church homes or foster care, for forced "civilization."
Here are Rudd's Comments, obtained from the Angus Reid global monitor:
"We reflect on their past mistreatment, we reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were stolen generations—this blemished chapter in our national history. (...) The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page. (...) This was a product of the deliberate, calculated policies of the states, as reflected in the explicit powers given to them under statute. (...) We apologize for the hurt, the pain and suffering we the Parliament have caused you by the laws that previous parliaments have enacted."
It's a nice change of pace for a politician to acknowledge past injustices and ensure steps will be taken to address them. This logic, however, can quickly descend down the maddening slope that invariable forms around this type of issue. Should current governments be forced to apologize for their predecessors' woes? When are reparations warranted? Certainly, this case is a unique example. The Australian government's policy of forcibly separating Aboriginal families did not end until the late 1960's. Since then, there has been little but silence. The egregious gap in living standards between Australia's indigenous people and the lighter-skinned immigrants is inescapable. An apology was essential, and steps to remedy the inflicted wrong are still needed.
As February ushers in Black History month here in America, whispers of reevaluating our policy of slavery reparations linger in liberal forums and political smoke-rooms. Should the U.S. government follow Australia's lead and apologize for its past abuses? Acknowledging that such abuses exist would be a proper first step. From there, answers fade into a politically charged fog of uncertainty.
All Americans and Australians, however, can grieve together over one monumental tragedy- the death of Heath Ledger. No apologies, just tears. Rest in peace good knight
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
- How will the Clinton camp spin the Wisconsin loss? A reminder that Michigan, Florida, New York, and California are the only states that matter? Chelsea doesn't like the Brewers new logo? Was it because they didn't do that 19th debate? You got 18, not 19. Ask the Patriots about that, Hillary.
- Thank you, thank you, thank you, New York Magazine. (NSFW) It's heartening to see that Lindsay Lohan has gotten a healthy amount of meat back on her bones. Classy nude shoots don't often get hot, but, well, yeah. I'm losing track of my thoughts.
- Word has it that Iowa City municipal workers are now raiding McDonalds condiment counters for packets of salt. Evidently it's for their fries, not the sidewalks, because I'm not seeing much improvement.
- Mike Huckabee really is hurting his party. Much as it scorches the throat to say so, Romney is the better party man in this case. By quitting and calling for the fractured GOP to being to line up he seems the more selfless of the two. Huck, dude, you've got no shot. Period. It's done. Seriously. Now that I've said that, let the Kathleen lecture begin.
- How does Joe Scarborough see through those squinty eyelids?
- So, we're shooting down this satellite on Thursday? Any way we can shove Paris Hilton and Britney Spears into the fuselage of that rocket?
- Thank you so much, Sony, for making my life immensely difficult. The HD format war is over, and you've won. No more HD DVD's. Great. I'm so glad I bought a $200 paperweight last month. Sure, it plays HD DVD's but I bought it solely because it looks nice next to my XBox 360 and it makes a pleasant sound when turned on. Seriously, I refuse to buy a stupid BluRay player. Ever. If I get one for a gift, however, I'd be happy. Hint, hint. My birthday is coming up. Ahem.
- Jon Stewart! Congrats! After months of grueling shows without the aid of a staff you FINALLY GOT YOUR WRITERS BACK! Excellent! You must be so excited! Your first week with your writers in several months and, wait, what's that? Huh? You're taking the week off? No new episodes of the Daily Show this week? Yeah, THAT makes sense.
John Negroponte says the embargo will continue, sad news for US teens (the ones of-age, naturally) and young adults hoping to ring in a new American president this November with a fine Cuban cigar. That is, unless President Bush takes one from the book of ole Fidel and steps down in late October to name Jeb the next commander-in-chief. Seriously, it could happen.
We've been expecting Fidel's downfall for years. Frankly, I'm surprised it took this long. I wonder if the US will temporarily allow American students to travel there; spring break is just around the corner, and it's exactly the kind of PR we need right now--if Congress and the White House can't practice bipartisanship, perhaps we could find it in Cuba. Senators Clinton, Obama, and McCain will certainly call for democracy in Cuba; somebody might have to remind Huckabee who Castro is (he's not much of a foreign policy guy, that Huckabee).
Fidel Castro: Stealing the spotlight when my home state, Wisconsin, goes to the polls today. I should have seen it coming.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Having recently gained the support of two Presidents named Bush, John McCain finds himself with some additional conservative pull. However, with economic recession looming, McCain might find G.W.'s help more trouble than it’s worth.
Though he claims to be a conservative, McCain has traditionally been somewhat of an outcast among their obstinate ranks. Primarily a result of his stance on immigration, the Arizona Senator has been harshly criticized by the group to which he continually yearns for association. Sen. McCain likely needs the approval of conservatives, as the unpopularity of our current President seems to have left all but the most diehard Republicans questioning their party's ideals. As such, by aligning himself with George W. Bush - whose limited popularity hangs in the fiscal balance - McCain’s fate now rests squarely on the President’s economic prowess.
A 30 percent approval rating speaks volumes of the President’s perceived success, as do the incessant promises of change offered by candidates of all sorts. The sustained satisfaction of this 30 percent, however, would now seem to be in jeopardy. Recent economic conditions have had an adverse impact on most industries, especially those primarily constituted by blue collar conservatives. Jobs and money are being lost at an alarming rate and all fingers seem to be pointing at the President – a de facto attack on conservative fiscal ideals. Thus, should he stick to his conservative guns, McCain may lose the very support he now desperately seeks.
History shows that after a particularly bad Presidential run, the following Presidency is rarely won by the incumbent party. Other issues aside, the economic uncertainty of late has left the reputation of President Bush damaged, to say the least. Moreover, such dissatisfaction is certainly not limited to Democrats, as even conservatives cannot ignore the pronounced injury to their pocketbooks. Hence, Sen. McCain finds himself between a rock and a hard place: the support he so desperately needs at present could easily be his undoing in the end. And he has only to stand by and watch it play out.
It all stems back to the Mitchell Report and allegations by McNamee naming MLB players he'd personally injected with steroids and HGH. Other players have confirmed the allegations, but Roger Clemens took his former trainer to DC to clear his good name; and entertain the hell out of those of us who watched.
Clemens says he's never used steroids, but in his opening statement he admits to being guilty of another offense: "If I am guilty of anything, it is of being too trusting of others; wanting to see the best in everyone; and being nice to everyone." (Surely that can't be against the law. Poor Roger!)
McNamee also admits to his personal shortcomings in his opening statement: "...I have always been loyal to a fault, a trait that has gotten me into trouble in the past." (Well that doesn't sound so bad!)
What followed was a hearing, several hours long, with both men telling conflicting stories. It was a major-league whodunnit. A new gameshow: Who's lying under oath? with your host, Congressman Henry Waxman!
As absurd as it was, the "who cares?" element helped make it entertaining. Instead of investigating the many allegations of waste, fraud, and abuse by our government, the House Oversight Committee brought in major league doofs to find out who lied in the investigation commissioned by Bud Selig (the Commissioner of Major Legue Baseball,) and conducted by George Mitchell, (a former Senator, but also on the Board of Directors of the Boston Red Sox.) I can't imagine why anyone would take this seriously. Clearly, the Committee just wanted to entertain us after the writers strike. Bless their hearts.
Throughout the hearing, Clemens goes into several self-congratulatory monologues about how much he loves America, his hard work and humble childhood (he didn't have a car, he ran to school every day! Was it uphill both ways like my dad?) Through it all, he just shrugged and scratched his head. He just couldn't understand why his friend would do this to him since he's such a good person. It was Vitamin B-12 in Clemens' syringes, his wife's the one who used steroids.
McNamee comes across as a huge dirtbag. He's been saving syringes and gauze with players' DNA (just in case?), and still calls himself a Doctor after receiving his PhD from an unaccredited University. (An online University that moves from state to state. According to their website, tuition is based by program, and total tuition for a Doctorate is $2,295.) So, he calls himself a Doctor b/c he bought a fake degree, and he calls himself a successful trainer b/c he gives his players steroids. He said he was sorry.
The entire hearing was a tangled web of Major League baseball stars, nanny stories, and lawyers jumping up and shouting from the audience. The Republicans were unimpressed with McNamee. My favorite exchange was with Rep. Chris Shays of CT, who offended McNamee by calling him a drug dealer.
McNamee: That's your opinion.
Shays: No, it's not my opinion... Tell me how it's legal to do illegal things and not call it what you were. You were dealing in drugs, weren't you?
McNamee: I'm dealing in them, yes.
Shays: Were they legal drugs?
McNamee: No they weren't
Shays: Thank you.
If the whole thing wasn't so entertaining, I may have been a bit depressed. The Democratic majority promised to do oversight, and this was an unimportant hearing with (at least) one person openly lying to Congress. Last year the Senate Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas to Bush administration officials who ignored them. If the committees are going to be ineffective, at least they're keeping us entertained. Next, they should investigate that "Titan" guy from American Gladiators. I'm not saying he does steroids, but after the finale on Sunday, I heard he stuffed Helga into the slingshot and launched her across the studio.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
I'm pleased that Clinton is finally using a slogan/motto that she didn't steal from the Obama team (see "Yes, she/we can" and "Turn the page"), but this original theme that her stooges have come up with is so incredibly lame.
I think it started about six or seven years ago. Not the campaign slogan, but semantic alterations on the roads.
It was about that time that I started seeing changes on interstate 80. Semis always have their company slogans on the backs and sides of their trailers. Heartland, USF Dugan, Fleet, Swift, CRST; they all did it. Freight companies, trucking companies, became "logistics providers." Being a trucking company just doesn't sound as marketable, I suppose. "Logistics solutions," for your freight dilemmas. Similar changes happened with "IT solutions" and other industries.
Whatever. It's still a freaking trucking company. Just like a sanitation engineer is a garbage man, and an editorial writer is an opinionated bastard who doesn't like reporting.
Describing a trucking company as dealing in "logistics" or providing "solutions" is as apt as describing my eating a box of Oreos as "consumption management." It sounds nice, but it's hollow, meaningless, and pompous.
Enter HRC and her new campaign theme. She and her husband (yes, Virginia, they're still separate people) spent Thursday describing a Clinton presidency as one that would provide solutions. "Solutions for America" are, according to the campaign, more substantive than Obama's "speeches." Clinton; "My opponent gives speeches. I offer solutions."
It was dumb and empty when I saw it on the side of a semi. It's dumb now when I see HRC screeching it from the mountaintops.
And as long as we're being technical, neither candidate can offer anything more than speech right now, seeing as they haven't been elected to the office yet. It's all words, Hillary, nothing more than semantic garnish. Which is exactly what "solutions" is. Incidentally, garnish is about what your efforts are looking like lately; sad, wilting, and of no relevance. I'll bet you can't wait for Texas and Ohio.
Cubs pitchers and catchers reported yesterday.
My pain is approaching.
Soon, very soon, a perfectly good summer will be ruined by anger, disgust, disbelief, and sorrow.
Still, go Cubs! And please, please, PLEASE don't pick up Brian Roberts. You'll pay him a bunch of money that he doesn't deserve (he's average, at best), he'll come to Wrigley as a highly touted savior, and he'll biff. He'll biff hard. He'll biff hard into the dirt and have no more than ten homers, ten TIMES that in strikeouts, and he'll take a few trips to Des Moines over the season so that he may spread his mediocrity to other parts of the organization.
Maybe as an alternative the city should designate one parking spot per block to pile snow. Last time I checked one parking spot can hold one car. However, bicycle racks can hold anywhere to around ten bicycles. From the city's point of view the math just doesn't add up, but the snow on the bike racks continues to.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Earlier this week Speilberg announced that he would withdraw his post as "artistic advisor" to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, blaming China's government of implicitly fueling the ongoing "genocide" Darfur.
Spielberg's complaints are not new, and, like any other flashy cause, a horde of his Hollywood Brethren have jumped on the bandwagon, declaring the 2008 Olympics the "Genocide Games." And insisting the international community step in and address China's draconian foreign policy.
It is true that China, pained by a recently insatiable appetite for oil, receives 2/3 of the oil that Sudan exports. The revenues from the oil trade fill Sudan's bank account and allow its Arab government to perpetrate genocidal raids against the (designated) rebellious African tribe s in the country's south and west. Spielberg, actor Don Cheadle, and actress Mia Farrow, also point out that China is the world's largest arms exporter to Sudan. Chinese guns, tanks, and helicopters pour into the country, while a portion of the revenues Sudan earned from its oil connections with China flows right back to the Chinese government.
In recent months, the Chinese government has taken baby steps to address the perceived injustice. It's pressured the Sudanese government to accept a U.N. peacekeeping force (which it has) and has promised to taper its dependence on Sudanese oil. But, for China, its dicey relationship with Darfur is merely the tip of a behemoth human-rights problem.
Thrust into a frothing, rabid tide of westernization, China's government has failed to ensure its own citizens are granted the most basic protections. Millions work absurdly long hours in conditions so dangerous, managers chalk casualties as overhead costs. The environment is being poisoned by long, black plumes of factory emissions and dangerous chemicals. A discernible prison system barely exists, torture is almost certainly used as a means of punishment, and health care facilities are lacking.
Although dubbing the Beijing Olympics the "Genocide Games" might be a bit extreme, China indeed has its work cut out for it. When the world's eyes focus on Beijing and the impending games, it will be up to China to demonstrate that it has addressed the issues that stain Tiananmen Square and somehow transform the Great Wall into something less magnificent.
(Yes, I recognize that Bush technically has claimed that title. But let's be real - these last 8 years have been all about what was wrong with the 20th century in this country.)
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
On the Republican side, John McCain has essentially sealed up his nomination (if he didn't already) with three convincing wins of his own. While friends and coworkers have insisted recently that Mike Huckabee should finally end his campaign, I've saluted his ability to remain competitive in many states--even winning a few along the way, too.
Sure, we at the DI are certainly patting ourselves on the backs for predicting this one back in December when we endorsed these two candidates. Who would have thought that we'd be talking so much about McCain and Obama right now, though? Not me, for one.
I've tried to predict this election season and haven't had any luck, to be honest. I expected Rudy Giuliani would be the one attempting to convince the Christian right that he was an honest conservative. After McCain's awful re-mix of the Beach Boy's ("Bomb, bomb, Iran"), he was pretty much dead in my book. Not so.
And then Obama comes from behind and wins Iowa, slips a little over the next few weeks, and reemerges a contender (if not the party front-runner).
It's a fun time to be a political writer.
I have a theory about the existence of extra-terrestrials. I think they actually exist, they just choose to reveal themselves only to credulous half-wits in order to maintain anonymity. Why, it's diabolical!
(And if you know what game that art comes from, you rock. Jon out.)
If there's one thing this primary season has done, it's made me read Daily Kos - something I hadn't done regularly since, oh, 2005 or so.
Election season: Always brings out the inner leftist in me.
p.s. When do you think Hillary should concede? Looks like they're going through March 4th (Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island, somewhere else I think but I can't recall), but seeing as how all the momentum in the world is not in her favor, well ... she might start running out of money.
Oh man, the guy from Blackhawk Down died. He was young. No, wait... was he the guy in Training Day? [radio voice mentions Brokeback Mountain] Ohhhh yeahhhh, he's the blond kid from Brokeback Mountain. How sad.
Now, contrast with my reaction this morning on my way to work.
Radio voice: "Congressman Tom Lantos passed away."
Me out loud: Awwww.... (sad puppy dog face and everything - bottom lip comes out, eyebrows narrow.)
And my stream of thought was something like this...
Awww, the Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, the guy from Budapest with the accent, the Holocaust survivor died. He was so great. I heard he had Cancer but I didn't know he was that bad. That's terrible. How sad!
Now I'm thinking of Nate's disgust with women who read People magazine, and I realize why I can't judge them. I don't enjoy the People Weekly, but I have a stack of Newsweek and Reason magazines in my living room. Also in my living room I have a Congressional directory (pictures and everything!) and a pocket Constitution that I don't actually keep in my pocket.
Aside from my total nerdiness, am I really that different? At least celebrity news fans can hold conversations with most people. (Although we're probably both equally boring to one another.)
It was a nice red flag of how uncool I am that I wasn't sure who Heath Ledger was but was moved to grieve when I heard about the old guy. Ledger's death was probably sadder. I've reconciled it with myself though: one survived the Holocaust against all odds and spent the rest of his life fighting for what he thought was right; the other was a young, talented celebrity who took a fistful of pills and ended his life and career in his prime. I'm cool with my uncoolness.
You may all laugh at me now.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Though it may seem counterintuitive, I would like to commend Mitt Romney for doing his country a great service. As the former Governor has shown, one man truly can have a great and positive impact on society. I am, of course, referring to Romney’s decision to suspend his campaign which—if successful—could only have led to one thing: 8 more years of ineptitude, and enough shitty commercials to bring down a horse.
Never has this been more clear than after Romney offered the “rationale” for his decision, at which time he unintentionally reestablished the importance of actually having rationale (the scientific community loves it.) In claiming that losing to the Democrats would be to “surrender to terror,” Romney once again made it painfully clear that he has not yet developed a strong understanding of…well…anything.
Party ideals aside, Romney isn’t good for anyone, not even Romney. His frequent flip-flopping on value-based issues shows that his only real determination is to gain the favor of those to whom he is most closely situated. Moreover, he doesn’t seem to care how ridiculous his promises are, so long as they sound good at the time. Unwilling to be defeated by John McCain in Michigan, Romney promised its unemployed citizens that, if he won, they would all promptly get their jobs back. Unfortunately, the implausibility of such a statement is overshadowed only by the laughable claim that Romney might actually be the person most likely to do it.
Hence, Mitt Romney is an American hero. When the time came for him to pack up his crayons and bid his Presidential hopes farewell, he did so without complaint. From what I can gather, Romney was unwilling to play a part in what surely would have been our complete and utter surrender to arrogance, stupidity, and a mindless ad campaign the likes of which this world has never seen.
I'm surprised the Committee was bold enough to invite him, and I'm concerned that some loud liberal voices may somehow prevent his appearance. We've recently had lectures from Daniel Ellsberg, Mr. Valerie Plame, and RFK Jr. The only one I've attended was RFK Jr. It was supposed to be about the environment, but it should've been titled "How the Bush Administration is f***ing up America" because that's what it sounded like to me. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that negative comments about the Bush administration made their way into the Ellsberg and Plame/Wilson lectures as well. To schedule only like-minded speakers whose political views align with the townspeople would be too easy; that is not how the University should operate - that is how a cult operates. I'm sure those three were fairly well received by the people of Iowa City, and if the UI has paid three lecturers to bash Bush - it's appropriate that they allow someone from the administration to defend themself.
Good for you, Lecture Committee!
I'm going to get very tired very quickly if the good liberal folks of Iowa City start to get nasty about Rove's lecture. He's a fascinating person, and like it or not - his influence has not only changed American politics, but made an indelible effect on the entire world via the Bush presidency. I don't expect liberal Iowa City to like Karl Rove. Hell, his own friends call him Turdblossom! I don't expect the libs to approve of his coming here, and I don't expect them to listen to him. I only hope they don't try to impede his appearance here. He should have an opportunity to defend himself; to prevent him from doing so would infringe upon the rights of others. I, for one, would like to hear what the man has to say.
"The Obama campaign has dramatically outspent our campaign in these three states, saturating the airwaves with 30 and 60 second ads. The Obama campaign has spent $300,000 more in Louisiana on television ads, $190,000 more in Nebraska and $175,000 more in Nebraska."
Translation: We got our ass kicked in fund raising, so we got our ass kicked in voting, too! Pathetic.
Friday, February 8, 2008
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Check the video out, right near the beginning. Look how hard he tried to make that applause line look accidental. What a tool.
It's not that other politicians are particularly genuine. (Although this may actually be the least awkward encounter I've ever seen between a white Republican and black people.) In fact, that's kind of the point. If you look artificial and overscripted next to them, you're either C3PO or Mitt Romney. (Also, C3PO is more of a Log Cabin Republican than Romney.)
Really, though; can you think of anybody more emblematic of what's wrong with the politics of this country than Mitt Romney? How seriously can you take a guy who goes -- in a very few months -- from being one of the most liberal public faces of the GOP to the far-right's last hope of derailing a McCain candidacy? Can a politician who shifts his stance on so much so frequently (and with such blatant pragmatism) really care enough about the issues that we face to do something about them?
I have mixed feelings about Mitt's loss. On a basic emotional level, I'm viciously pleased. I will freely admit to disliking him and everything he represents. So much so that I can't help but glory a little in what may be the end of his political career. Even a few levels above that, I think that my distaste for him is rooted strongly enough in fact to mean that his misfortune is good for the country.
On the other hand, I think that he was viscerally slimy enough to have keep a lot of moderate Republicans at home in November. Even if the Democratic party is dumb enough to nominate Hillary Clinton, they could have gone into the general election liking their chances in a Romney/Clinton matchup. Not so with McCain/Clinton. Clinton certainly has it in her to lose that one. So Mitt's loss might be bad for the country, in the long run, if it ends up saddling us with four more years of Republican presidency.
Of course, you can take this too far. (E.g., "Maybe Mitt losing is actually good, because; frightened of a Clinton/McCain matchup, Democrats will go for Obama!")
Either way, I can't help but be a little pleased. Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Mitt.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
10 years removed, and I wake to the venomous drone of a glowing alarm clock. No love, no whispers, just a loud reminder of the harsh rigidity of college. I'm usually dragged out of a gritty dream-world more obscene than New Orleans during Mardi Gras. Colleges, everyone knows, don't issue snow-days. After all, the thick white stuff doesn't impede on scientific progress or clog the pursuit of academic excellence. Or does it?
Today, at the University of Iowa, classes were canceled. As Iowa City was hammered by a slow-moving winter-storm that slobbered huge amounts of wet, heavy snow, students were granted an official snow day. Instead of Hot Cocoa, I sipped black coffee, and instead of watching cartoons and sledding with the neighbors, I pored over notes and caught up on homework. But, it was a snow day, nonetheless. The typical daily grind of classes, reports, presentations, and daring expeditions to lecture halls filled with sniffling, snow-covered students braving the February-term was put on hold.
Now Iowa City, like a stay-at-home mom saturated in T.V. soap operas and wholesome home cookin', has gained an extra layer of unwanted mush. A foot of cold, gray snow coats everything and makes walking to the Kwik-Trip an unthinkable chore. But, like that same stay-at-home mom, resolved by the start of a New Year to shed the weight, our city is slowly mobilizing into action. The plows are easing into the routine, careful to avoid the nooks and neglect the crannies. Sidewalks are haphazardly shoveled. Ice-swollen tree limbs have fallen, but few are picked up.
Now, as the city recharges and stares down another long work-day ahead, it is back to the grind. Students, too, are forced to face the imminent reality of lecture halls, sloppy commutes, and water-soaked backpacks. Nose to the grindstone now.
But, the illusion was nice.
What about a cap?
Maybe not a total cap on all fund raising. Start small, think baby steps. How about a media cap? You could knock out two birds with one stone; soothe those that complain about the TV ads while reigning in a bit of the huge money machine that Presidential politics has mutated into. Maybe limit television and radio ad spending to $5 million.
How about taking care of those nasty push poll ads and calls during dinner? Limit spending on phone service to $3 million. Problem there is the skill in campaigning might be upstaged by skill in finding a good phone plan from a cheap carrier. And candidates might be hampered pretty severely in their GOTV efforts if limited to, say, 5,000 minutes a month on their cellphone plans.
Point is there are ways to tame this beast without making it a whimpering bitch of a chihuahua, trembling in lady liberty's Dolce Gabbana purse. Baby steps. By attacking the specifics we can nail the big picture.
If that's true, they're in a lot more trouble than Mark Penn lets on.
p.s. Mark Penn is a douchebag.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
In all seriousness, the opinions deadline is one of the things that make a Wednesday column so frustrating. Elections in this country happen on Tuesdays, so you’d think that it’d be great to be the Wednesday guy, right? Wrong. The entire opinions page is due at 6 p.m., so I don’t know how this monster of a primary day turned out. Obviously, I couldn’t possibly write a column about it.
I’m sorry, partially for those of you who wanted morning-after insights into Super Tuesday, but mostly for myself, because I don’t get to write them. Dammit.
Monday, February 4, 2008
Huckabee has been very open about his family life and his upbringing in Hope, Arkansas. One of his big issues is education; which is understandable as he was the first person in his family to graduate from high school. He also has an intimate understanding of the healthcare crisis in America (or, as he calls it, “disease care” since our system relies on treatment rather than prevention.) After facing life-threatening consequences due to obesity, the Governor lost over 100 lbs. When he’s on the stump talking about education, healthcare, and the working class and I can’t help but feel like I’m listening to a Democrat. It’s not until he starts talking about the bible that I’m reminded why he’s a Republican. I can’t think of a single political proposal that I find more preposterous than changing our constitution to define marriage. Because of his religious beliefs, Governor Huckabee supports altering the constitution to exclude gay people, and he’s never wavered on his pro-life position; unlike Mitt Romney who has changed positions on both of these issues.
Because of his upbringing, Mike Huckabee probably understands poverty and the working class better than any remaining candidate on either side. That is another claim that Mitt Romney cannot make. A successful businessman from a political family, Romney has invested millions of dollars from his own fortune to pursue the Republican nomination. Mitt Romney is anything but genuine, and he seems determined to do anything it takes to win the nomination. The contrast between these two individuals couldn’t be broader. But right now, the day before Super Tuesday, one important thing they have in common is their position on socially conservative issues. Mike Huckabee’s positions that I’ve always disagreed with fill me with delight on this particular day. In the delegate count, Huckabee is a very long shot for the Republican nomination, but he refuses to drop out of the race before Super Tuesday. For that, I could kiss his formerly fat face.
I’ve been listening to Sean Hannity’s radio show all week. Hannity and other social conservatives are irate that Huckabee won’t drop out. Many Republicans view him as somewhat of a Ralph Nader to Mitt Romney’s Al Gore. In the same way that Ralph Nader infuriated Democrats for “siphoning votes” from Al Gore in 2000, Huckabee is being accused of splitting the social conservative votes in the important Super Tuesday primary. It’s true that Huckabee is unlikely to win the nomination; and if he does end up splitting the social conservative vote, it may be the best thing he could do for this country. While I respectfully disagree with Huckabee, I’m frightened by Mitt Romney’s recent conversion to social conservatism on the campaign trail. Romney will continue to do everything he can to win his party’s nomination, including changing his positions, attacking his opponents, and investing his own personal fortune to gain political power. If Mike Huckabee does nothing more than keep Mitt Romney out of the white house, he will not only have my respect, but my undying gratitude. America should thank Mike Huckabee.
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Well, it’s all over and, to say the least, it didn’t go as expected. Rather than scoring an easy win as everyone predicted, the New England Patriots ended their undefeated season with what was likely the most devastating loss in the history of professional football. The New York Giants won, 17-14. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look as if the Patriot’s misfortune is going to end anytime soon.
A few days before the Super Bowl, Senator Arlen Specter announced that he would like to reopen the spygate “case.” Of course, being that the evidence has been destroyed, and the only potential witness won’t be testifying for some time, it would seem the Senator could at least postpone what is clearly an excellent use of the government’s time and our money. Now, rest assured, I’m not insinuating that it was Specter’s untimely announcement that cost New England the game. However, the actions of the Pennsylvania Senator, in addition to being completely fatuous, have also managed to bring self-contradiction to inspiring new heights.
Though it may not seem it, Specter’s decision does have some legal merit—if only the smallest of amounts. The antitrust exemptions granted to the NFL mean that the league is not subject to the same laws of competition that most firms must adhere to. As such, Specter would contest that anti-competitive practices that are not technically illegal (e.g. videotaping the opponent’s signals) should be legally monitored to prevent the kind of cutthroat decisions that would be illegal in the business world. True enough, winning translates into money in the NFL and, as such, artificially inhibiting another team’s ability to compete would affect their profitability. An even playing field, Specter believes, is the only way to ensure that the business-end of the NFL remains fair and competitive. When one team videotapes the signals of another, Specter suggests the latter is left with an artificially decreased probability of victory. So, in his brilliant attempt to prevent teams from facing unnecessary difficulties, he promptly went to the media within days of the Super Bowl, therein subjecting the Patriots to yet another storm of negative media attention. Of course, this would seem to contradict the true goal of his investigation—and it does—but we shouldn’t concern ourselves with insignificant luxuries like justification or, for that matter, political competence. We should all rest assured in knowing that, even though officials like Arlen Specter are wasting time and money at speeds that defy comprehension, at least we're all about to get a big rebate check. I think I’ll buy some aspirin.
Friday, February 1, 2008
What's worse, the attacks on Rodham Clinton ring of sexism. Andrew Swift's column, "Clinto-phobia" and Nate Whitney's "Hillary Clinton: the Queen of convenience," repeatedly suggest that Rodham Clinton is nothing more than her husband's name. The former does little but attack former President Clinton's presidency and attempt to link it to her campaign.
Now, this is hilarious. The Clintons are a tag-team, as are any married couple. You get one of them, you'll get the other - and Bill's injection into this campaign has certainly not been under-the-radar lately. If Hillary is going to campaign on "experience", and count her eight years as First Lady as experience, than she has to own up to those eight years in full. You can't pick and choose. I don't know where Mr. Slusark gets the impression that I think Hillary "is nothing more than her husband's name", but it seems to come from some deep-seated desire to paint opponents of the Clintons as automatically sexist, and hence stifle any discussion of the merits of the two.
Furthermore, I'd offer Mr. Slusark an opportunity to demonstrate what Senator Clinton's "strengths" are, as I see very few that get past even modest analysis. He doesn't even offer a strong case for the experience argument - he cites Senator Clinton's four more years in the Senate as making all the difference in the world. 35 years, Michael! Did you forget your talking points? Or have they changed already?
Mr. Slusark goes on: "She has just as much, if not more merit in running for president as Obama ..." Well, I don't know how you can have more "merit" to run for president - a) Merit is entirely relative, and b) It's not a freaking college application.
So before Mr. Slusark gets to call the DI Opinions Page "ignorant", perhaps he should write in detailing why we should support Mrs. Clinton, rather than charging that op-ed writers are "sexist." I'll be waiting.