Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Things you don't want to hear from the stylist at the hair salon:

"Now, see, I left it a little fuller up here and that'll help cover up the receding hair line."

I'll have you know that my hair is lush, full, and growing, thank you very much!

Never going back there. Ever. I'll find a place that doesn't say why they're leaving it a little fuller up there.

Those Crazy Cornerites

Over at the Corner, Mark Steyn has his own solution for ending the Wall Street crisis: reduce, or even eliminate, all income taxes on corporations! Voila, instant cash, problem solved!

Sometimes I find it refreshing to see some good old fashioned pure libertarianism, just to remind myself of how kooky some of its proponents really are. To listen to Steyn, or to my father for that matter, you'd think that taxes are the cause of all evil in the world. The reality is that taxes have existed for thousands of years, and for good reason. Any society is more than just the sum of its parts; it's the collective will of many people who realize that bettering the whole betters each of us in ways that we couldn't achieve acting individually, but along with those benefits comes responsibility to contribute your fair share. Think of it like an exclusive club: if you want to join the club and gain access to the benefits it offers, you pay your yearly membership dues. Taxes are just membership dues to live in the United States of America. Corporations have the benefit of being legally recognized entities that have certain benefits, but along with those benefits comes the responsibility to support the society that confers and protects those benefits. it's that simple.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Diamond in the Rough

Tonight, in desperate search of a pick-me-up, I tried to find some good news. It wasn't easy. I read about the market's largest single-day loss ever, an NFL player is paralyzed below the waist and had his left leg amputated, Army recruiters are too stressed and committing suicide, the rate of Amazon tree cutting increased by over 200% in a single year, Georgia is in week 3 of it's gas shortage, a Mom froze her two adopted daughters to death in a freezer, the Hubble space telescope is having serious problems and NASA can't do anything about it, and to top it all off the Eagles lost.

I was about to give up hope, when I spotted it: the Giant Leatherback Turtle, an endangered species, is once again showing up off the coast of California. Apparently the turtles find jellyfish tentacles quite tasty, and are having both a good time and a great nosh. Three cheers for turtles!

Bailout Goes Down, Takes Market with It

Well, as you probably know already, the bailout bill failed to pass the House today, by a vote of 205 to 228. Lawmakers from both sides are going back to the drawing board, with a two-day hiatus from active session to hammer out some details.

The market meanwhile, took notice: the Dow recorded its largest drop ever, falling 777 points, or about 7%. Ouch. My own beloved CapitalOne was not immune to investor sentiment, and dropped a whopping $10.55 per share, nearly 20%. Yikes!

So what happens now? Honestly, it's hard to say. I don't think I've ever lived through something that's so simultaneously urgent and important and complicated.

The bill that was put up for a vote wasn't the solution favored by most Democrats (or for that matter, most economists) because it left out stock warrant provisions that were anathema to large blocks of Republicans. Instead, it simply bought up the bad assets of participating firms, which was supposedly the only way to get a good level of bipartisan support, which leaders from both parties desperately wanted. But the Republican leadership couldn't deliver and about 2/3 of their caucus voted nay (a vote which, it should be said, is quite understandable given their prevailing laize fare approach to economics). So here's my prediction: the Democratic leadership reintroduces Rep Frank's bill, this time without the support of the Republican leadership. Frank's bill has stricter limits on executive compensation, a proviso for stock warrants, and most importantly, much stronger Democratic backing. The bill passes along a largely party line vote in the House, and then passes the Senate with a bit more ease given the different ideologies there. Bush, Paulson, and McCain all back it, giving it bipartisan cover.

Who knows? The next few days should be interesting.

Dumb Neighbors

Dear Neighbors,

I get that it's difficult to move large things up and down the stairway. And I'm really very happy that you finally decided to move the giant piece of trash that's been occupying our shared landing for the past 3 weeks.

However, 12:15AM between Sunday and Monday is not an appropriate time to move said trash.

That is all.

Regards,
Neighbor

Friday, September 26, 2008

Debate Live Blogging

You want to read my live-blog posts on the first debate, don't you? Of course you do!

8:41PM - John King is at the magic board, and going very quickly through his analysis.

8:48PM - The talking heads say McCain is a street fighter, Obama is a constitutional lawyer. I'm not sure how to thing about that.

8:59PM - Who's the over-active Australian on the CNN panel? He's the only one not wearing a tie.

9:03PM - It begins. Obama is definitely talking directly to the camera, at a really bad angle. He looks kind of scary, actually. But solid answer on the economic crisis.

9:06PM - McCain's looking down at his notes. Interesting: Obama directed his remarks to the "Mainstreet American", McCain's talking to Jim, in a conversation. He sounds very frail, almost sick even.

9:09PM - Obama's theme of the night: "All our problems are Bush's fault, and McCain will continue that."

9:17PM - Wow, so far this is actually a pretty decent debate. There aren't any 'gotcha' questions, at least not yet. The candidates are actually able to speak back and forth and really debate.

9:30PM - McCain: no more ethanol subsidies, reduce military spending. Whoa, when did he get reasonable?

9:31PM - Both candidates are dancing around the issue of what exactly they'd cut to make up the $700 billion extra debt, and for a fundamental reason: the only real way to dig our way out of this is to increase taxes. It's not a pretty picture, but that's what it comes down to.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday Food Blogging

Today I tried out two new recipes from Mens Health magazine; naturally, a blog post to display and discuss is absolutely vital.

First: guiltfree chicken wings and cucumber boats. The wings are good and have a nice bite to them. As far as health goes, the "worst" part of the wing sauce is honey, and that's not bad at all. The cucumber boats, on the other hand, are kind of eh. The cottage cheese and herb mixture has potential, but the boat as a whole isn't very integrated; you get the distinct feeling that you're eating a raw cucumber, and that somebody threw on herbed cottage cheese as an afterthought. If I make it again, I'll probably chop up the cucumber and mix it into the cottage cheese.

Et tu, McD's?

I admit, I have a weakness for McDonalds food. It may be horrible for me, but damnit, it tastes so good!

So this morning, when confronted with a fridge that was completely empty save for the fish and bok choy that's going to be tonight's dinner, I decided to allow myself an indulgence and walk down the street to McDonalds.

Now, I've never thought too badly of McDonalds as a company; sure they may be single handedly responsible for 80% of America's waistline, but at least they're up front about it and don't try to scam you. Or at least I never thought so, until today, when I discovered the intriguingly named "takeout tax" on my bill. On a meal of $5.50, this "takeout tax" totaled 61 cents, or 11.1%. That's a mighty hefty takeout tax, and it is conspicuously absent from most of their notices. Somebody who's worked there says it's not extra, it's just regular sales tax and clarifies eat-in vs take-out, but trust me, 11.1% is not just regular sales tax.

But I thought to myself, "Really, what's the big deal? So I paid a few extra cents, at least I have my steak-egg-and-cheese on a bagel, right?" WRONG! I get home, open the wrapper, and discover this monstrosity:
This isn't just a case of mistaken ordering: 1)The wrapper clearly says "BAGEL" and I assume does so for a reason, and 2)steak-egg-and-cheese on a biscuit isn't even a product that McDonalds offers as far as I'm aware. I mean, what is this world coming too!?!? I, an overweight corporate hack who enjoys his steak-egg-and-cheese on bagels and not biscuits, can't even overpay somebody anymore to get it right!?! I mean c'mon!!

Oh, and the biscuit was salty, too.

PS - yes, that was snark

K-Lo Discovers Compassion

BREAKING: K-Lo over at the Corner displays compassion for two people who can't get married under California law!

Alas, this is not K-Lo changing her position on gay marriage, but instead refers to a man and woman who can't get married in California because they refuse to be identified as "Party A" and "Party B".
"We are traditionalists – we just want to be called bride and groom," said Bird, 25, who works part time for her father's church. "Those words have been used for generations and now they just changed them."

Bird and Codding say they are trying to figure out what to do next. Bird said she does not know what she will do if she should become ill and need insurance. "I really don't know," she said.
You know, part of me sympathizes with this couple; would it really be so bad for CA to maintain several different license templates, or allow people to make minor, non-impactful changes like changing "Party A" to "Groom"?

Part of me sympathizes. But when I read about her complaining that she can't access her husband's health benefits, a different part of me wants to whallop her upside the head. All of her concerns and worries about health care and the like could quickly and easily be eliminated by a simple concession to be known as "Party A". For millions of gay & lesbian American couples this isn't an option; they are forced, by law and constitutional ammendment, to endure that worry their entire lives, and be treated as second class citizens. Sigh. All the same, I wish the Birds, who seem like pretty decent people from the article, the best of luck in their quest to become legally married using their preferred nomenclature.

...

But even if the Birds seem like pretty decent people, it wouldn't be a K-Lo Corner post without some gratuitous gay bashing!

First the dumb:
"Those who support (same-sex marriage) say it has no impact on heterosexuals," said Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute. "This debunks that argument."
The inaneness of this statement will be left as an exercise to the reader.

Second, the scornful:
They're in the wrong place for an actual marriage license though.
That's K-Lo, back in her original post. Notice the mindset that K-Lo is working under: the simple fact that gays and lesbians can get married in California somehow invalidates all marriages in that state. The Birds aren't actually married, you see, because their marriage license doesn't actually mean anything, at least not as long as Adam and Steve from down the street have one like it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Today in a town hall campaign meeting, Sarah Palin, who is one of the 'world's leading energy experts' according to John McCain, had this to say about Alaskan oil actually going mostly to Asia:
Oil and coal? Of course, it's a fungible commodity and they don't flag, you know, the molecules, where it's going and where it's not. But in the sense of the Congress today, they know that there are very, very hungry domestic markets that need that oil first. So, I believe that what Congress is going to do, also, is not to allow the export bans to such a degree that it's Americans that get stuck to holding the bag without the energy source that is produced here, pumped here. It's got to flow into our domestic markets first.
If that doesn't make very much sense to you, don't worry, it doesn't make very much sense to anybody. After much discussion, the general consensus is that she's advocating the idea that we may need to restrict oil exports, and artificially redirect it back into the US instead.

This is just dumb. First of all, when Venezuela does stuff like this, we rightly decry it as counterproductive protectionism, because it is.

Second of all, there's a reason most oil pumped in Alaska flows to Asia and not the continental US: it's much cheaper that way. If you impose trade restrictions and force the oil companies to pipe the oil a more expensive route, costs go up, and oil producers may even shut down, decreasing world supply and having exactly the opposite impact as intended. There's a reason that supply/demand curves and their implications are the first chapter of every economics textbook in existence.

I've said it time and time again: more oil should not, and cannot, be part of any solution to America's energy problems. The first law of thermodynamics prohibits it from being part of a long-term solution, and there's no feasible or productive way to increase supplies in the short-term to lessen the impact.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

3 Ways to Fix Wall Street

Robert Kuttner of Mother Jones outlines the 7 deadly sins of financial deregulation and recommends 3 changes to fix the current mess.
Reform One: If it Quacks Like a Bank, Regulate it Like a Bank. Barack Obama said it well in his historic speech on the financial emergency last March 27 in New York. "We need to regulate financial institutions for what they do, not what they are." Increasingly, different kinds of financial firms do the same kinds of things, and they are all capable of infusing toxic products into the nation's financial bloodstream. That's why Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson has had to extend the government's financial safety net to all kinds of large financial firms like A.I.G. that have no technical right to the aid and no regulation to keep them from taking outlandish risks. Going forward, all financial firms that buy and sell products in money markets need the same regulation and examination. That will be the essence of the 2009 version of the Glass-Steagall Act.

Reform Two: Limit Leverage. At the very heart of the financial meltdown was extreme speculation with esoteric financial securities, using astronomical rates of leverage. Commercial banks are limited to something like 10 to one, or less, depending on their conditions. These leverage limits need to be extended to all financial players, as part of the same 2009 banking reform.

Reform Three: Police Conflicts of Interest. The conflicts of interest at the core of bond-raising agencies are only one of the conflicts that have been permitted to pervade financial markets. Bond-rating agencies should probably become public institutions. Other conflicts of interest should be made explicitly illegal. Yes, financial markets keep "innovating." But some innovations are good, and some are abusive subterfuges. And if regulators who actually believe in regulation are empowered to examine all financial institutions, they can issue cease-and-desist orders when they encounter dangerous conflicts.
To that I would add:

4) More stringent and comprehensive asset valuation. Firms like Moody's have a solid share of the blame when it comes to the financials buying riskier-than-thought securities, but once they're on the books few, if any, financials took the time and effort to conduct a thorough valuation of what they'd bought. Part of it is the complexity of the product (think an array of supercomputers chugging away for several hours calculating a probability universe and then spitting out "42"), and part of it was just being cheap and lazy.

As they say, go read the whole thing.

Not a Good Day for Wall Street

The financial industry meltdown is happening so fast now that events are beginning to blur together. Was it only this Monday that Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy and sent the market into its biggest drop since the days immediately after the 9/11 attacks? Sure doesn't seem like it.

Yesterday the market rallied a bit on the reports that the Fed wouldn't allow AIG to go bankrupt, but then the bailout actually happened and today Wall Street tanked.

The Dow lost 450 points, and $700,000,000,000.00 worth of investments evaporated. Morgan Stanley lost 40%. Goldman Sachs lost 20%. Financials in general went down 10%. Washington Mutual put itself up for sale. Part of a Bank of America building in Manhattan broke off, fell 50 stories, and shattered on the street below (nobody was hurt).

But don't worry, the fundamentals of our economy remain strong. Either that, or we're all just a bunch of whiners.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mega Bailout for AIG

The US government just saved AIG, the nation's largest private insurer, from bankruptcy by providing an emergency loan to give the company some much needed liquidity.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- In an unprecedented move, the Federal Reserve Board is lending as much as $85 billion to rescue crumbling insurer American International Group, officials announced Tuesday evening.
$85 billion!?! CNN calls that "unprecedented". I call it "#$*(&! unprecedented". To put this in perspective, the federal government felt AIG's position was so weak and the potential repercussions of their bankruptcy so dire that they lent AIG the entire economic output of Hawaii and Alaska for a year.

A Night of Debauchery

I am proud to say that I spent the night with friends debating the finer points of being tested for midichlorians at a Church of Scientology.






Monday, September 15, 2008

Impromptu Monday Night Outing!

Tonight was going to be a normal, unexciting night. Leftovers for dinner, a bit of work on the laptop, maybe some cleaning, and spending a bit of time making deviled eggs for the department potluck tomorrow. (I'm so domesticated).

Intervention: Greg texts me that he's pre-ordered the new Star Wars game, and that there's a "release party" tonight at GameStop in Short Pump mall, and that I need to come with him and look at all the hard-core fans dressed up in ridiculous homemade costumes. Plus I need to bring my camera.

Dilemma: How to spend the night with friends observing Star Wars fanatics while still fulfilling my obligations to the potluck tomorrow?

Solution: Canned chili, velveeta, and my crockpot!

Now, I know what you're thinking, that chili cheese dip will be a huge disappointment given that my coworkers have come to expect no less than culinary perfection from my kitchen. On the other hand, if anyone complains, I expect to have plenty of pictures to distract them!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Rove on McCain

Wow, even Karl Rove is admitting that McCain's recent ads against Obama aren't exactly based in reality.
Wallace: "All right, for fair game, what does McCain do that goes one step too far?"
Rove: "McCain has similarly gone one step too far, attributing to Obama things that are, you know, beyond the 100% truth test."

That's Rove-speak for "Holy crap, this guy's even more nuts than I am!"

Just for completeness sake, here's the list so far:
1) Palin opposed to bridge to nowhere. She didn't.
2) Palin opposed pork as governor of Alaska. She didn't.
3) Palin visited Iraq. She didn't.
4) Obama wants to teach kindergarteners about sex. He doesn't.
5) Obama called Palin "a pig with lipstick". He didn't.

Sunday Cat Blogging

Never underestimate the ability of a cat to seek out the tiniest bit of sunlight and position their belly in its path.


UPDATE - No, Lucy is not fat. It's the camera angle.

SNL on Palin & Clinton



Besides being really funny, this is also a good case study in just how little the McCain campaign really vetted Palin. I mean, normally SNL has to find the cast member who looks the most not-unlike the person they're spoofing. The McCain campaign practically handed this role to Tina Fey on a silver platter. When I first saw the movie, it took me a couple seconds to realize that wasn't actually Sarah Palin.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Weird Dream Watch

My entire family, including Lucy and another cat, were in a cabin. Lucy started to chase some mice in the cabin, but the mice were our friends, so I had to pick her up and tell her not to chase the nice mice. But by picking Lucy up, I was unable to stop my father, who had been possessed by the devil, from killing my mother, who was pregnant with baby Jesus. Somehow I knew all this was going to happen and it was my mission to protect her, but I didn't foresee the mice, and failed.

Weird.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Dog!

RNC Live-Blogging, Night 2!

A blogging first for me tonight: tonight will be the first night that I live-blog from somebody else's place! That's right, tonight I took the dramatic step of walking across the apartment complex and live-blogging the RNC from my buddy Greg's apartment. Exciting!

8:35PM - Nothing interesting on tv right now, so I think I'll live blog Greg instead. Right now, he's putting together a DVD case with a screwdriver that I brought with me.

8:40PM - Greg just said "LIVE BLOG '08!" in a voice that could only be described as intimidating, in a WWF kind of way.

8:54PM - What happened to Anderson Cooper? He's not covering the convention tonight.

8:55PM - Greg blogging: "Holy weird nostrils Batman!" "Are you in fact a woman? I don't know."

8:56PM - Greg in WWF voice: "Wolf Blitzer. CNN. He could fight the communists himself!"

9:01PM - Anderson Cooper's back! Maybe he was using the facilities.

9:03PM - Heather Bruce, sister of Sarah Palin, is on tv. InstaGreg comment: "Awww..runnerup all your life."

9:05PM - According to Greg, I should consider myself priviledged, for being in a Mecca of Movies. No lie, the boy has a LOT of DVDs.

9:06PM - Mitt Romney!

9:07PM - Wow, Mitt's opener fell flat. Some kind of tortured metaphor about the Washington son rising in the elite east but now it'll be rising from the sunshine in the west from Arizona and Alaska. Even the crowd didn't know when to clap.

9:09PM - Wow, this is a HORRIBLE speech. Just a long list of talking points strung together without any flow whatsoever. And he isn't exactly delivering it well, either.

9:11PM - "China's acting like Adam Smith on steroids." Preceded and followed by stuff that had nothing to do with China, or even trade.

9:13PM - "I have one more recommendation for energy conservation. Let's keep Al Gore's private jet on the ground." Wha?

9:15PM - Even Greg thinks this is a bad speech. And he's not even actually listening. "Wow, he's beyond douche!"

9:18PM - Blitzer: "You think this was a tough speech, just wait, with Mike Huckabee and Rudy Guiliani coming up." Like, seriously? There's something beyond that?

9:24PM - TH#1 is being polite: "I was sitting there thinking, why is he making these points?"

9:27PM - Huckabee is on. So far, coming off as kinda funny, in a good way.

9:28PM - "The past few days of reporting have been tackier than a costume change at a Madonna concert." You know, the Republicans have made a really big deal lately about the "liberals and their liberal allies in the liberal media". This has got to get annoying lately, particularly to the reporters that have been giving McCain's policies white glove treatment. I almost want them to collectively decided "You want a liberal media? Alright, we'll give you a liberal media!"

9:32PM - Huckabee just said something about Obama going to Europe, and brought back European ideas about how to take away more than our liberties. I would just like to point out that it was Europe that balked at the idea of the US 'disappearing' enemy combatants on their soil.

9:34PM - "I was in college before I found out it wasn't supposed to hurt when you take a shower." Yeah, another quote I'm not gonna touch.

9:41PM - Ok, this entire convention can essentially be boiled down to "John McCain deserves to be president because he was a POW." Seriously, that's all it is. Huckabee just got done with some story about a school teacher in Arkansas that removed the desks from her classroom, and wouldn't let students have one until they told her that they didn't have to earn a desk because soldiers had already earned it for them. She accented this by having vets bring in the desks at the end of the day. I don't even have any idea how that's supposed to be relevant at all, much less a reason to vote McCain.

9:47PM - Anderson Cooper: "We continue to hear about these talking points which are tried, and I guess ... um ... true, what do you think about them?" Anderson Cooper, you're my hero.

9:50PM - TH#3: "You had a lot of red meat. You had ground chuck from Mitt Romney. You had something a bit more refined from Mike Huckabee." Talking Head #3, you are also my hero.

9:53PM - Again with the Reagan tax cut thing. Reagan cut taxes, and then raised them. Several times.

9:58PM - I have to say, asking Sarah Palin's brother-in-law whether she's ready to take on Iran has got to be a new low.

10:00PM - Trust the Corner to come up with some doozies. K-Lo sez: "That Romney speech wouldn't have been a bad acceptance speech."

10:01PM - Rudy's up!

10:01PM - Oh Rudy, that tie is ACK! I expect more from someone who's dressed in drag.

10:02PM - I have to say, the twin tower background is a nice touch. *barf*

10:06PM - More POW stuff.

10:08PM - Giuliani is ripping into Obama, and the crowd is loving it. "Present is not good enough for president" is a line that's going to resonate. Obama is going to have to figure out how to counter that, and fast.

10:10PM - Never done this, never done that, never led this, never led that, nothing, nada. Well, um, neither has McCain.

10:15PM - You know, I've stopped listening.

10:17PM - Hahahaha ... TPM on Giuliani: "I think I prefer this speech in the original German."

10:19PM - Giuliani on the surge: "On the single biggest policy decision of this election, McCain got it right, Obama got it wrong!" This keeps getting brought up, and it keeps being wrong. Yes, the number of casualties is down. But reducing casualties wasn't the point of the surge. The point of the surge, in the GOP's own words, was to give the Iraqi government 'breathing room' and allow for political reconcilliation. At which it has failed miserably. The surge ... didn't ... work. And, when we have to draw down the troops because the military can't handle it, it'll be because the military simply couldn't keep any more troops there, not because we won some nebulous 'surge'.

10:25PM - Ok, I'll give him this, Giuliani knows how to deliver a speech.

10:29PM - Palin is coming up.

10:30PM - Wow she looks young. Nice outfit. Nice legs, too. And yes, that was a sexist remark.

10:32PM - Her voice has no soul. And before anyone comments that I'm not qualified to judge that, if Bush can tell whether Putin has a soul by looking into his eyes, then I can tell whether Palin has a soul by listening to her voice.

10:34PM - I think the media would be much more inclined to leave Palin's family out of the campaign if she didn't keep dragging them in. She just spent 4 minutes introducing her children to the convention and talking about them. Now she's introducing her husband. Now she's introducing her in-laws.

10:42PM - You know, I'm not sure if she should be reminding people that just a couple years ago her experience was belonging to the PTA. So far this entire speech has been "Hi everybody, I'm Sarah Palin and this is why I'm cool!"

10:44PM - What's with the person in pink being escorted out?

10:47PM - Update to previous post; Greg was, in fact, listening to Romney's speech.

10:49PM - "I vetoed wasteful spending, half a billion dollars." She then points out that she fought the Bridge to Nowhere. Which isn't exactly true, she fought for it at first, then turned against it only after it gained publicity. However, even though she stopped the bridge, she kept right on building the road that was supposed to service the bridge (aka the Road to Nowhere) ... and she did this because if she didn't build the road, she'd have to give the money back to the federal government. What was that about wasteful spending governor Palin, hm?

10:57PM - Somebody wrote Palin a damn good speech. It's scathing, abrasive, touches on all the GOP talking points against Obama, and well written.

10:58PM - Greg sums up the "reading terrorists their rights" argument with "yaaaay waterboarding!" (yes, he's being sarcastic)

10:59PM - The tax thing again. Shall we be clear: 95% of people would see lower taxes. The other 5% would have their taxes raised to where they were during the incredibly economically depressive Clinton years. Oh, wait.

11:03PM - "The American presidency is not supposed to be a journey of personal discovery." Ok, now she's just being mean.

Takeaways from tonight: Sarah Palin is cool, and John McCain = POW => president!

Whoa, McCain looks REALLY old next to Palin and her family.

More Lieberman

Just a followup on last night's live blogging, trying to explain the frustration with Lieberman.

When word leaked that Lieberman was seriously being considered as McCain's VP, the far right went beserk, and for fairly good reasons. On taxes, health care, social security, global warming, abortion, gay rights, energy policy, etc, he is solidly in line with the mainstream Democratic party. It's only on national security, and more generally foreign policy, that he sides with the Republicans. Now, you could reasonably make the argument that national security is just so important that it overrides all those other issues, but Lieberman isn't making that argument. In fact, he's said pretty explicitly that all those other issues are the reason he still self-identifies as a Democrat, and not a Republican. But that just doesn't make sense; the party you identify with is the one that reflects the views on the issues that you hold to be most important. So what Lieberman is saying is that when it comes to electing a president national security is so important to him that it means making all those other reasons secondary, but when it comes to self-identification it's all those other reasons that are most important, and national-security is secondary.

And on TOP of that, there's Lieberman's play to the press during all this. The media loves prominent politicians of one party endorsing a candidate of the other party, and so loves to cover Lieberman ... and Lieberman loves to be covered. There's a big difference between endorsing a candidate of the opposing party, and endorsing a candidate of the opposing party during a prime-time address at their national convention. And while he talks in great detail about the single issue that's causing him to endorse McCain, he never talks about any of the multitude of issues where he strongly disagrees with McCain, never talks about why he still considers himself a Democrat, which is what makes the media cover the story in the first place.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Bush Speech Liveblogging

8:59PM - Anderson Cooper is back safely from New Orleans after covering Gustav. Wolf Blitzer is glad.

9:02PM - John King: "McCain has to convince people he's a good Republican." Hahahahaha

9:05PM - George H.W. Bush and Barbara are getting a standing ovation.

9:09PM - Ok, honestly I really did think Bush's speech was supposed to be at 9. But I guess I'm going to do some talking-head blogging first.

9:13PM - Anderson wants to know whether TH#1 thinks the "lack of red meat" so far in the Republican convention is as bad as the lack thereof in the Democratic convention, when it was at this point. This misses the forest for the trees. The reason Obama is throwing "red meat" at voters is that he has something to attack: namely the pretty crappy state of the nation and its affairs. McCain has rather limited options in that regard.

9:17PM - TH#2 says "You cannot have a Republican convention without hearing 'They will raise your taxes and we won't.' I guarantee you you will hear that all night." She's right that we'll definitely hear that, but it's simply not true, not by a longshot.

9:20PM - TH#3 has a very distracting lightup sparkle flag pin on her lapel. Someone should tell her to turn that thing off.

9:24PM - Interesting that people keep equating Reagan's and Bush41's legacies with tax cutting. Reagan and Bush41 both raised taxes in the later parts of their terms, actions which happen to coincide with periods of increased economic growth. Somehow that part always gets left out.

9:28PM - Ok, 20 minutes ago Anderson Cooper said they were expecting Bush43 in 10 to 15 minutes. Now we've got two videos and THEN we've got Laura introducing Bush43. Geez.

9:30PM - Alright, I have to disagree with TH#2 here, John McCain's time as a POW wasn't "just a moment in his life", it was several years. Regardless of McCain's penchant for using it as an all-purpose response to any question, it really shouldn't be minimized.

9:32PM - CNN reporting that tear gas was just used to disperse protesters outside of the convention.

9:34PM - Who is Michael Monsore (sp?), and why are we hearing about how he mixed plaids and stripes when he was in kindergarten? (seriously, they said that) Ok, Mike Monsore is the Navy SEAL who saved two of his colleagues by jumping on a grenade in Iraq. And why, exactly, are they playing this? Because they can play "Someone else who put his country first" at the very end of the video. What were they just saying a few weeks ago about Obama using the military for political gain?

9:40PM - Wow, this is a pretty transparent and craven. If any of these former soldiers (who really do deserve the title 'hero' by the way) were endorsing McCain or making a speech or whatever then I could understand it. But they aren't doing anything, they're just playing videos and pointing the camera at vets. All they're doing is implanting a 'Republican = hero' message.

9:45PM - Laura calls Palin a "strong executive and proven reformer". The official talking points have officially coalecsed.

9:47PM - The microphone keeps picking up some guy going "YIIHH" that sounds something like a nasal grunt.

9:51PM - Laura, on Bush's African AIDS legacy: "You might call that change you can really believe in." oh snnnnnnap

9:53PM - Bush43 is on! And talking right over the crowd's applause.

9:55PM - He runs off a list of examples about what he's had to do as president, every single one of them about terrorism.

9:57PM - Shorter Bush: John McCain is pro-choice, will lower taxes, and will drill offshore. Heh, took me longer to type that than it did for Bush to say it.

9:59PM - "We live in a dangerous world, and we need a man who understands the lessons of September 11th."

10:01PM - The mike is still picking up that guy, only now he's changed to "uh ih uh ih uh iiiiiihhhh". Wow that is annoying.

10:01PM - Bush is done? Yep, he's done. Wow, that was short. Allow me to paraphrase: "Sanctity of life! September 11th! Angry left! Spreading freedom! God bless!"

10:05PM - Were Ronald Reagan's father's first words to his son really "fat little Dutchman"? Learn something new everyday.

10:07PM - More on Reagan and how he cut taxes. Still no mention of how he later raised them several times.

10:10PM - Fred Thompson is on.

10:11PM - Thompson: "Palin is being attacked for having actually governed, instead of just talking and doing the DC cocktail party circuit." Is he attacking Obama or McCain?

10:12PM - "She's the only nominee in the history of either party who knows how to properly field wrestle moose." .... yeah, I'm just gonna leave that one go.

10:13PM - "When she and John get to Washington, they won't care about how agitated the alligators get, they're gonna drain the swamp!" Is it animal night at the RNC tonight?

10:17PM - John McCain dated somebody named "The Flame of Florida" while in flight school? Ok, interesting fact, but wasn't really necessary for the speech, and wasn't really incorporated in any way. Kinda weird.

10:22PM - The camera just caught two people leaving during Thompson's speech. Whoops.

10:23PM - Ok, moving speech about McCain's POW experience. But, as Fred Thompson just pointed out, "Being a POW doesn't qualify you to be president." He goes on about how it shows character, but the country doesn't run off of character, it runs off of the policies he's going to implement. I have no doubt that McCain sincerely believes in the policies he's advocating, but that's a separate question from whether those policies are right for America. They're not.

10:28PM - "Not a teleprompter speech designed to appeal to America's critics abroad." Oh please. God forbid we share some beliefs with the Europeans.

10:29PM - "History making nominee. History making because he's the most liberal and least experienced in American history!" They were talking about red meat, and Thompson is certainly giving it to them, but this could backfire. He sounds bitter and confrontational and shrill. People are going to start tuning him out.

10:31PM - *sigh, the taxes thing again. This is just patently false: Obama's plan would reduce taxes for 95% of all Americans. And the supposed "increase" for the remaining 5% would be returning them to pre-Bush levels.

10:34PM - Annoying guy by the mike again.

10:39PM - Lieberman is up. Ok, if Joe had any hope of maybe keeping his committee chairmanship come next January, he pretty much just killed it.

10:42PM - The crowd just applauded Liberman saying the troops "Just see Democrats and Republicans fighting each other, when it should be Americans fighting for them." I wonder if they realize he just insulted them.

10:43PM - "I'm here to support John McCain because country matters more than party. The person who will keep our country safe is John McCain!" Killed it, and now nailing the coffin shut.

10:49PM - Oooo, broken immigration and global warming got a decided lack of applause. Know your audience, Joe.

10:51PM - Hmm... Lieberman is now arguing against Obama ... by complimenting Bill Clinton. That's an, umm, interesting choice for the RNC.

10:56PM - Lieberman speaks directly to Democrats and independents. "I want you to believe with me that this is no ordinary election, because these are not ordinary times, and trust me John McCain is no ordinary candidate. You may not agree with John McCain on every issue, but you can always count on him to tell you exactly where he stands." Again, I know. And knowing exactly where McCain stands on each issue is exactly why I don't intend to vote for him.

10:58PM - "Vote for the person you believe is best for the country, not the party you happen to belong to." Nailed shut, and now shoveling the dirt. This is precisely the reason Democrats get so vexed with Lieberman; not because he disagrees with the party on a few issues, but because he goes out of his way to make a really big deal about those disagreements.

More Palin

It's been entertaining watching Republican talking heads bend over backwards to defend Sarah Palin's national security experience, and now we have a whopper of an article from Frank Gaffney that's going to be hard to outdo. It includes such gems as:
Her state is adjacent to Russia, a nation that has in recent years demonstrated a rising aggressiveness towards its neighbors.

Governor Palin would not only be intimately familiar with [Elmendorf Air Base's] vital role in protecting U.S. territory. She would also appreciate its importance ... as much of the nation’s long-range transport aircraft supplying our military operations around the world transit through Elmendorf.

Speaking of geography, Alaskan territory is also along the trajectory of ballistic missiles launched eastward out of Stalinist North Korea.

As [Alaska's] governor, Sarah Palin would know more by osmosis - if nothing else - about the necessity for U.S. anti-missile systems than either Messrs. Obama or Biden.

[Sarah Palin] - has had to confront directly and personally the prospect of making the ultimate sacrifice for their country in the face of such evil. (Palin's son Track is set to deploy to Iraq later this month)


So, let's review. Sarah Palin 1) Lives in a state whose uninhabited frozen wastelands are relatively close to Russia's uninhabited frozen wastelands, 2) lives in a state that has an Air Force base, 3) lives in a state that a North Korean missile would have to fly over in order to hit the other 48 states in the US, 4) has a water-permeable membrane, and 5) has a son in the army. In other words, Sarah Palin's experiences that qualify her to be CinC of the US armed forces are shared by anyone in Alaska who has a son or daughter in the US armed forces. It's also arguably shared by any of the hundreds of thousands of people living in the US bases in either Japan or South Korea.