Friday, August 29, 2008

The Next President Of The United States

Excellent speech. Really every time I see him I'm impressed, even though I know he's a gifted orator, even though I know he's going to impress me, he still does.

He tells his story, he attacks on issues, and he gives a policy plan without sounding like a he's reading a white paper.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Tale Of Two Speeches

Would that Kerry attacked Bush as sharply as he attacked McCain last night. The "Senator McCain vs. Candidate McCain" was a really good message, and a great way to define the difference between the candidates.

Biden turned in a solid performance too. Not as sparkling as Kerry's effort, but a solid bang bang bang of the issues. It also left no doubt that he was delivering Barack Obama's message.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Chinese Proverb

The nail which sticks up gets hammered down.

A lesson learned all too well by these people.


Why is Rob Wexler telling me Obama loves Israel? Isn't this a convention for US president?

Roll Call

I really like the drama of the traditional role call of states.

Sure it's a foregone conclusion, but just the formality of it is cool. Stuff about our state, stuff about our state, stuff about our state, vote.

Update: someone in the Kansas delegation just shouted "Obama mama" when Obama's mother was mentioned as a native. lol

Hillary: PUMA Go Home

See for yourself.

PUMA explained here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

There Has To Be A Better Way

Were all conventions this... boring? Admittedly CSPAN is showing EVERYTHING, but still.

I just can't get over the fact that there has to be a better way to spend some of this time than watching a poor factory worker read a teleprompter. [EDIT: just to be clear, I don't mean he's poor, just that he's clearly out of his depth giving a speech to a national convention]

Rahm Emanuel is giving a nice speech. The one great thing about him is that he is not afraid to throw a partisan punch. He deserves a lot of credit for the Democratic gains in the 2006 elections and did a good job in creating party discipline as the [head of the DCCC]. Sadly, as [house caucus] leader in the house, he managed to cave on pretty much every major Republican initiative. That or there is a really big constituency in his district of people who believe in retroactive immunity for telecom companies.

Ah OK, now this is what you want. Speech by Emanuel, segue into a video of Barack speech, and then a musical act. More like this please.

UPDATE: my original post had his leadership roles wrong. Corrections are denoted by brackets

First Time For Everything

After last night's debacle, today marks the first time I actually searched for CSPAN. Turns out it's channel 70.

Death Of Irony Watch

The Republicans set up a "war room" in Denver. On a tour of the facility, RNC chairman Mike Duncan told the press to "Just consider this the Ministry of Truth." Yes, the Ministry of Truth.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Michelle Obama Up

Cute intro by her brother. I hope that a man's character can't be judged by his ability as a sportsmen... gulp.

Nice speech. It's nice to have another smart beautiful and articulate first lady. It's pretty clear that if they had a first lady debate she'd smash Cindy.

Most of the speech was decent, but the part about her husband and family was obviously very heartfelt. The best BEST part though was the after speech with Barack on the monitor... well really his daughters. Very cute.

CNN's Message: Dems Waste First Day

Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer are bound and determined to announce this as a waste. Cooper just asked 3 leading questions to Donna Brazil trying to get her to say the speeches tonight was boring.

Oh no, all these speeches have been oh so boring. Or maybe not... who knows, because you don't get to hear them. You get to hear James Carville and David Gergen complain about how bored they are. It's really annoying.

UPDATE: Matt, who apparently wasn't watching CNN because he saw Claire McCaskill's speech, says that Claire got some good digs in on McCain. Interestingly, while she was at the podium, CNN was instead discussing how bland the speeches were, and how the Democrats really need to attack McCain. AAARRRRGGGG.

UPDATE 2: Similar thoughts here from Tapped.

Kennedy At The Mic

He's speaking right now. Wow.

He looks shockingly healthy for a guy with an inoperable brain tumor. He's a little shaky on his enunciation, but it's hard to say that that's not just age really.

More than many at that convention, Kennedy is responsible for the fact that Obama will be taking the podium on the final day of the convention and accepting the Democratic nomination for president. Kennedy's endorsement of Obama in January and their campaigning together gave a huge boost to Obama at a critical time. As one of the patriarchs of the party, and a true liberal icon, his support gave Obama credibility with the growing liberal/progressive wing of the party.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Listen To The Medium Lobster

This post by a Medium Lobster for the Guardian runs down the pros and cons for VP picks on both sides of the aisle.

7 Minutes 16 Seconds Of Why Biden Is A Good Choice

For your viewing pleasure:

Via Yglesias, via James Fallows.

Obama Takes My Advice

After my extensive consultations with the Obama campaign, they were persuaded to nominate Biden for VP.

Naturally I'm pleased that the Obama campaign has taken my advice.

UPDATE: It should also be noted that Mr. Biden is a very clean and articulate white man.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It Was Ever Thus

Russia's recent invasion of Georgia, not to mention the US's invasion of Iraq, brought to mind the story of Melos, a story almost 2,500 years old. Commonly known as the Melian Dialogue, it appears in Chapter 17 of Thucydides' "History of the Peloponnesian War" and it is probably the first written work of realist international policy.

The Athenians arrive on the island of Melos, a colony of Sparta (Thucydides uses the term Lacedaemon). Sparta was Athens' opponent in the great struggle for hegemony over ancient Greece that Thucydides chronicles. Being a colony of Sparta and on an island, it became a target for subjugation by the Athenians, the masters of the ancient Aegean sea (in the text the "Cretan Sea").

The dialogue takes place between the delegates from overwhelming Athenian army which has arrived on their shores and the ruling council of Melos. The Melians appeal to their right as an independent polis to remain neutral. The Melians wish only to abide by the rules right and equity between states. The Athenians were not persuaded. "You know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must."

Further, the Athenians worry about the security of their empire if they allow the Melians to live unsubjugated. "[I]f any [island city] maintain their independence it is because they are strong, and that if we do not molest them it is because we are afraid; so that besides extending our empire we should gain in security by your subjection; the fact that you are islanders and weaker than others rendering it all the more important that you should not succeed in baffling the masters of the sea."

The strong do what they can, the weak suffer what they must, and if we let you defy us we will look weak. How different is this from what we see today?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Billboards You Can Believe In

Apparently someone decided to put up a billboard to discourage young people from becoming engineers. I'm not sure why this would be a good idea.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Russia Invades The South

What is South Ossetia? How do you spell Abkhazia? And what the hell is Russia doing invading Georgia? Do they need strategic peach reserves?

If you're looking for a good backgrounder on Georgia and it's various breakaway regions, check out this article in the NY Times.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Funny And True

A new blog, War or Car? is listing all the great stuff we could have had instead of buying a horrible strategic and foreign relations catastrophe.

Other than buying every household a new prius, we could have covered Vermont and New Hampshire in gold leaf, supplied all Ireland with Guinness for a thousand years, or run a jukebox at current prices since the Jurassic (although he does not consider the cost of constructing a time machine to get it there).

Friday, August 8, 2008

Aren't You Glad You Didn't Vote For Edwards?

It appears John Edwards has admitted to having an affair.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Al Franken For Senate

While I have not donated to Obama, I have donated to Al Franken's Senate campaign.

Fist of all, on the issues, Franken is incredibly progressive. Anti-war, pro-universal health care, immigration reform which grants citizenship to hard working immigrants, alternative energy, etc etc...

Second, I mean really, how cool would it be if a former SNL writer and cast member became a US Senator? C-Span might actually be watchable. His wit and intelligence are likely to serve him very well both in debate and on the floor of the Senate.

Norm Colman, his Republican opponent, won his seat when progressive hero Paul Wellstone died in a tragic plane crash. Not only would a Franken win put a good man in the Senate, but it would be a proper tribute to the much-missed Senator Wellstone.

Here's his most recent tv ad:

If you're wondering, he's responding to this ad from his opponent.

Gas Station TV Strangely Not Interested In Anti-Oil Ad

Over at Politico, Ben Smith is reporting that Gas Station TV has refused an Obama ad attacking John McCain for being in the pocket of big oil (linked here).

Even more awkward for GSTV, they are claiming that they "don't take political ads" and the CEO is saying that he never approved the ad. In response, the Obama campaign said "oh really? well here's your emails saying you'll take the spot and that it was approved by the owners."

As Ben points out, this is certainly the sort of controversy that campaigns love.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

FBI Claims: Take With Salt

The FBI is now saying that they are totally sure that Bruce Ivins was solely responsible for the anthrax attacks. This may well be true, but before we all pat the FBI on the back, we would do well to look at the history of this investigation. Glenn Greenwald has details on this investigation here and here which shows a number of prejudicial FBI leaks to the media that seem to have fallen flat on their face in rapid succession. Now the FBI is selectively releasing information that was previously sealed.

Now look, I want to be clear, he may well be the sole culprit. But taking the FBI's briefing at face value is not something that anyone should be doing, especially in light of what happened to Steven Hatfill.

The other aspect of this case which I haven't seen mentioned anywhere but on the internet, is what happened to reporting at the time of the attacks. In October 2001 ABC News reported that the anthrax mailed in the attacks contained bentonite, the presence of which "was compelling evidence that Iraq was responsible for the attacks." (source)

Glenn rightly brings up the point that this leak from "four separate well placed sources" was a lie. More importantly, it was a falsehood designed to foment public support for a war with Iraq, a war which administration officials wanted. Who these "sources" are and what were their motivations should be a major news story. But thus far, everyone is just talking about "gosh well they caught this guy." This was certainly a tragic event for the victims and their families. But coming in the paranoid and panicked days following 9/11, it was a major factor in driving the public support for war against Iraq. Who was circulating this propaganda to the media, and why? In light of recent developments, ABC News should be providing answers.

UPDATE: TVNewser is reporting on an interview with ABC News' Brian Ross. Ross claims that he was not lied to, but rather the report was the product of a mistake in the initial analysis. According to Ross "Their [scientific analysts] initial conclusion, based on microscopic examination was a brown substance that initially was reported as bentonite... We were told after further chemical analysis it was determined it was a silica, but not bentonite."

It's not clear to me why it took this long for this information to come out. This seems like a really simple and innocent explanation. Why wasn't this reported by ABC News a week after the first story aired? Just odd.

T. Boone Pickens: Crazy Like A Fox

Remember that Texas oil guy who had this cool plan where we'd stop using fossil fuels for electricity cause we'd make super wind farms. But then, we'd use natural gas for cars because... I dunno it's a good fossil fuel. Yeah remember him?

I mean, the whole idea seemed vaguely good because NG is better than petrol, and wind power is good, but bad in that building a whole lot of NG filling stations is not a natural pathway to not using fossil fuels. Initial reaction was pretty mixed, and sometimes downright skeptical.

Well, seems the skeptics were underestimating him. Sure his plan was designed to make him money. But via Kevin Drum here we find out that wasn't the half of it. He doesn't just want the government to give him millions in subsidies for wind power. No, he wants California to give him millions in subsidies for NG cars, and some how he also works in a plan for Texas to give him hundreds of acres of property for a water right of way.

He's less Al Gore than Matthew Lesko.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Musical Genius Of Baha Men Finally Rewarded

Yes, it's true. The Baha Men have finally earned the recognition they so richly deserve, although it took eight years to get there. You may remember the Baha Men from their hit single "Who Let The Dogs Out?" or ... well no just that. Still, this deeply moving pet care query captured our hearts in the summer of 2000 and didn't let go until at least the second time it was heard.

Well now they have won the coveted award for "Worst Song Ever" from ... well apparently and AOL Radio. Maybe not the most authoritative source but the list looks pretty solid to me. #2 on their list is "Ice Ice Baby," and both "I'm Too Sexy (for my shirt)" and a Celine Dion song made the top 10. I only have two bones to pick with the list. First, I would think "2 Legit 2 Quit" is a worse MC Hammer song than "U Can't Touch This." Also, I don't think "Barbie Girl" by Aqua should be on the list. It is a high pitched pop song with an annoying hook and a chorus designed to get stuck in your head. But IMHO the lyrics are actually a satire of the extreme sexuality of a child's toy. I mean really... her exaggerated measurements set an impossible point of comparison for sexual maturity for young girls. Plus it caused pretty amusing lawsuit which Mattel lost soundly.

On The Nosey

Barack Obama nails it:

"It's like these guys take pride in being ignorant." Yes Barack. Yes they do.

Via TNR's The Plank

Catching Up On XKCD

Liked this one.

Good Politics, Bad Policy

Here's a great Obama ad:

I say great in the sense that it's a simple effective attack. It draws a distinction between the candidates that anyone can easily understand and talk about with their friends.

I don't think it's particularly good policy though. Oil company profits are no better or worse than other industry profits. Natch we'd like to see less reliance on their product, but the way to do that is to tax carbon not tax profits. The more stuff like this happens the more you encourage them to fiddle with their books or behavior to avoid making too much profit for their shareholders, which is perverse.

The Best Legal Advice You Will Get All Day

Don't hold the fact that he's a Regent University Professor against him.

UPDATE: Two things. First, fair warning, it's long. About 27 minutes. It's pretty entertaining IMHO, but then again I'm a lawyer so be warned.

Second, I'm not trying to be a snob with my comment about Regent, or at least not an academic one. Regent University School of Law "seeks to admit students who are serious about the critical roles they will assume as future counselors, conciliators, defenders of the faith, effective client advocates and followers of Christ." While there is nothing wrong with being a follower of Christ, I have a bit of a problem with limiting one's admissions to a professional school in this way. To my mind this is like a carpentry school that seeks students who are serious about woodworking professionalism and who are over 6' tall. Being 6' tall might help one be a carpenter, but it should hardly be part of the admissions criteria. In addition, Regent and some of its grads has featured prominently in the US Attorney scandal, especially it's, er star? student, Monica Goodling, who basically admitted in congressional hearings to criminal acts (oh, and this report by the Department of Justice concluded the same thing).