It's the Economy, Stupid - part deux
Monday, March 31, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
The NY Times has an editorial discussing why McCain's economic plan is shallow and comes across both as uninformed and harsh. A key passage:

His suggestion that federal aid might wrongly reward “undeserving” homeowners sounded both mean-spirited and economically naïve. And then there is the double standard. He seemed less concerned about the government helping reckless bankers, endorsing its role in preventing the bankruptcy of Bear Stearns.

No one has ever proposed helping real estate speculators. And the senator’s language obscures the reality that most troubled homeowners did not get into trouble by themselves. Lenders, aided and abetted by bankers and do-nothing regulators, lured many borrowers into overly complex, ultimately unaffordable loans. Mr. McCain also failed to grasp that the foreclosure problem has gone far beyond the issue of the deserving and undeserving. What is on the line now is the health of the economy, including the viability of the financial system: Helping troubled borrowers stay in their homes would help the banks by reducing defaults and foreclosures.

The economy has to be pretty high on most Americans' list of "Things the next President needs to fix". You've got to wonder about a voter who favors McCain, despite the fact that he himself is on record admitting he doesn't understand the economy very well.
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It's the Economy, Stupid
Thursday, March 27, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Obama gave a speech today on the economy and, as usual, it's excellent stuff. He lays out a pretty good comprehensive plan, full of details. He doesn't shy away from Republican counterarguments - he brings them up and then explains why they're wrong. And it also has his usual soaring prose that makes you feel good - he's telling you why things are wrong now, but he also makes you believe that we can come together and make it right.

This is in contrast to McCain's "Well, you screwed up, so... too bad" speech on the economy. It sounds great - "Yeah, you fucked up and gambled on your mortgage, so why should my tax dollars bail you out!" - but shows a lack of nuance on how we got this point with our economy. I bought my own home in December 2006, and I found the loan process really tricky to navigate (and I consider myself a fairly intelligent person). There were ample opportunities for my lender to screw me over - when they give you advice, I think most people are forced to believe what they're selling. I can see how easy it would be to talk a buyer into taking on a loan that may be a bit aggressive for their income and situation. In a system that rewards loan officers for selling loans, the urge to push the sale is probably hard to resist, even if you think it might end badly.

Obama, in the text of his speech, addresses this point with far more eloquence than I, of course.

Hillary is also giving a major speech today, but it hasn't been posted yet. I'm sure it'll be full of wonky detail, though it will likely be a more boring read. The text from her address a day or so ago is online now. I notice that some version involving the the catchphrase "Main Street to Wall Street" appears in both her and Obama's speeches.

From Hillary's previous speech, I like that she addressed the fact that even people who are still paying the mortgages and don't have ARM loans are at risk, due to the plummeting value of home prices. She also gets points for talking about Pennsylvania's Homeowners' Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program, which is a real-world example of how government assistance helped slow the foreclosure rate in an area. She has a great story in there about how Bill Clinton bought them their first home as a way to convince her to marry him (it was sweet, though it scored more points for Bill's image than hers for me)

Overall, both speeches are very good. Clinton's makes me feel uninspired, but assured that she knows what to do and will take care of the American people. Obama's is uplifting and nuanced, and also makes me feel like he's someone we can trust to handle this economic crisis. McCain's meanwhile, feels like it was written in crayon on the back of a Fuddruckers paper placemat.
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Language Tricks
Wednesday, March 26, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
So, the security situation in Iraq is looking pretty bad now, with the Iraqi Army (and our own Army) going after the Mahdi Army. Up until now, as I'm sure you've read, part of the reason the "Surge" worked is because Moqtada al-Sadr had placed a ceasefire order on his Mahdi Army.

Joe Klein today discusses the situation and makes several great points. Most telling is this passage, which echoes many of my own thoughts on the matter:
And now, the question: How will the U.S. media portray this? As the Iraqi Army cleaning up a renegade militia in Basra? Probably. But the Iraqi Army in Basra is mostly composed of another renegade militia--the Badr Corps, an organization founded by Iran and answerable to ISCI--the Shi'ite faction led by the Hakim family, Sadr's great rival. There are no heroes here. The Sadr movement is populist, nationalist, anti-Iranian, in favor of a strong central government...but it's also anti-American and oriented toward a stricter Islamic state than the current Maliki government is. The Hakim family's movement is both pro-American and pro-Iranian. It is federalist, rather than nationalist, in favor of a weak central government with a strong Shi'istan in the south (which would be heavily influenced by Iran).
I too question the language that the media in this country uses to paint a picture over there. Do you ever find yourself reading headline like "U.S. Forces Kill 20 Insurgents in Raid" and wonder to yourself if maybe there were like 5 insurgents, and 15 random people who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time? Because I sure do. As Klein points out, just because one side qualifies as "a renegade militia" doesn't mean that they're the only villain involved.

A lot of folks around the blogosphere are guessing that this is really an intra-Shia conflict, with the ISCI making a power play against their political rival.
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Movies that Actually Aren't That Bad
Tuesday, March 25, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
I was perusing Pop Candy today and saw a link to this blog: 5 Worst Directorial Sellouts of All Time. The list, for those of you too lazy to click over, is:
  1. Alien Resurrection
  2. Hulk
  3. Mallrats
  4. Canadian Bacon
  5. Finding Forrester
Now, I'm not really a fan of 2, 4 and 5. But I secretly love Alien 4. And even though it's not a cinematic masterpiece, Mallrats actually isn't that bad. In neither case do I really feel that the director sold out.

Part of the reason I think a lot of people aren't fans of Alien 4 is because the director was fairly true to his cinematic vision - if you've seen his other work, such as Delicatessen or Amelie, you'll recognize the same distinctly French sci-fi flair as in Alien 4. I love this film because it's so damn weird, so damn French. It ranks #2 on my list (which goes: Aliens, Alien Resurrection, Alien, Alien 3). It's exciting, and Sigourney Weaver gets to go to some strange and cool places with the Ripley character.

Mallrats is chock-full of references to Clerks and still has plenty of Smith's toilet humor, which isn't exactly what you'd want in a sell-out mainstream movie. It's not like Smith turned around and made a family film or some other work that feels less true to who Smith is as a film maker. If you want to argue he's sold out, I think "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" or "Jersey Girl" would be a much better example. But Mallrats is still charmingly ensconced in the Clerks universe, with jokes and references that make it difficult to sell to non-Clerks fans.

This has made me think about a lot of films that were panned by critics and my own circle of friends, but that I think are actually surprisingly good. These are films that need to be taken for what they are - be it experimental, fluffy popcorn fare, or whatever.

Top 5 under-rated films
  1. Alien Resurrection - see above.
  2. Equilibrium - This film only gets a 35% on Rotten Tomatoes. And parts of it are really silly. Taye Diggs is undeniably bad (and I usually really like him). But Christian Bale is awesome in this. He always brings his A-game, even when the film isn't up to his personal level of greatness. The "gun-fu" invented for the film looks incredible, and the action sequences
    are a ton of fun to watch. This is a slick little film, in the vein of The Matrix, that is highly enjoyable.
  3. How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days - again, another film poorly rated (42%) on RT. Anyone who knows me knows that I usually disdain "chick flicks" and I'm not particularly that into Kate Hudson. In fact, when I went to see this film, I expected the worse. I was shocked to find a charming little romantic comedy that I really enjoyed. Hudson and McConaughey have a ton of chemistry, and their back-and-forth really pops. The torments that Hudson's character, Andie, invents to try to drive McConaughey away are hilarious. Even my boyfriend laughed out loud when I forced him to watch this with me.
  4. Just Friends - another film you'd think would be terrible, but is actually quite funny. Anna Faris is particularly great as a bubble-headed Britney-type singer. Ryan Reynolds also shows his comedic chops off, and it's a good result. He's charming and handsome, but still believable as a guy who has never really recovered from being the fat kid in high school stuck in the "friend zone" with the girl of his dreams. I'm not a fan of actors in fat suits normally, but I can't help but laugh every time I see Reynolds singing along to "I Swear", with his frizzy hair and fat face. It's less "Shallow Hal" and more "Fat Monica from Friends" levels of funny.
  5. Constantine - it's very hip to bash Keanu Reeves these days, so a lot of people were probably immediately turned off to this film solely because of his presence. And a lot of fans of the comic Hellblazer were also turned off due to the wild deviation from the source material. But this is actually a very good sci-fi/fantasy film, with plenty of action and some incredible visuals. It also sports some great supporting actors, including the magnificant Tilda Swinton (in a genius casting move) as the archangel Gabriel and Peter Stormare as Satan. The mythology the film sets holds up well and the scenes of Hell are really pretty creepy. It's a popcorn movie, sure, but it's not a bad way to spend 2 hours.
What do you guys think? What's on your list?
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The All-Quiz Edition
Monday, March 24, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
I'm a bit busy today, so here's some fun quizzes for you to try and beat me on. I'm sad to report that in the event that I am stranded on the Moon, I'd probably die...


80% Geek

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Chris Wallace Tells Fox and Friends to Cut the Obama Bashing
Friday, March 21, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
A truly remarkable clip is posted at Think Progress. Chris Wallace, of the Fox News Channel, takes the hosts of Fox & Friends (the channel's morning show) to task for "Obama-bashing" for 2 hours straight. The dialog goes on for about 5 minutes and gets pretty uncomfortable for the F&F folks. It's really something. Of course, I agree with Chris Matthews' points entirely. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go look out the window at all the flying pigs.

Seriously, though, as much as I often dislike Matthews, it's somewhat reassuring to see that there are at least a few people at Fox News Channel willing to actually use their brains. It's tempting to dismiss the network as a right-wing crazy haven. It certainly has all the signs of being a propaganda machine. But the fact is, it's still an influential news channel that speaks to millions of Americans. The only sad thing for the channel is that this seems to be the exception, rather than the norm when someone at Fox News Channel shows signs of actual journalistic integrity.
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The Sad State of Raider Nation
Thursday, March 20, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Back in the day I used to be an Oakland Raiders fan when I was young. So even though I'm not really a supporter anymore, I still have a soft spot for the old Black and Silver. That's why the current state of the franchise is such a bummer to see.

Al Davis is a loon. Plain and simple. No coach in his right mind would take the Raiders job last year, so young Lane Kiffin stood up and took a chance. It wasn't a great season, but I think Kiffin had the team on the right path. So what does Davis do? He tries to force the guy out. He retains the defensive coach that Kiffin wants gone. What a slap in the face. I just can't see how any halfway decent coach in the future would EVER take a chance on the franchise.

Davis's mis-management extends beyond the staff to the players as well. SI reports that the Raiders are likely to take Darren McFadden in the draft. Now, McFadden will likely have success in the league, so it's not like I think he's not a good player. But frankly the Raiders weren't that bad in rushing last year. It was one of the few things they didn't suck at. Why waste the 4th pick on the one thing your team ISN'T terrible at? Yeah, the rushing core could be better, but compared to the rest of the team, particularly the receiving corps, it's doing alright. I mean, is Javon Walker really the solution here?

All of this indicates a team locked in a deadly death spiral. They can't get good coaches because the team is awful. They can't get great players because the coaches are terrible (or unsupported by management). They can't get better because good coaches and players are staying away in droves. But they can't attract those people until they get better. It's a catch-22.

This is very sad. It's got to hurt Howie Long to know that his beloved Raiders have fallen into such a state (though he defends them half-heartedly on FOX NFL Sunday). Still, you got to think that he's secretly praying that they don't draft his son Chris.
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Iraq and our politicians
Thursday, March 20, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
I'll start this post out by observing the extreme irony of a politician claiming he has decades of foreign policy and terrorism experience, and then on 4 separate occasions demonstrating that apparently he hasn't learned anything. I refer, of course, to John McCain's recent gaffe, where he claimed that Iran was supporting al-Qaida in Iraq. He specifically said on one talk radio show that "Al-Qaida is going back into Iran and is receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran."

I want to put this into context a little, for those who are not boned up on the different between Shiite and Sunni, about why this gaffe is so dramatic. The Shiite-Sunni split harkens all the way back to the day of Muhammad, where the two sides split over an argument about who the Prophet's spiritual successor (the caliph) was. Wikipedia has a long article about the two sides that is worth checking out (there is ample documentation, both on the web and your local library for those who are interested). Think the Catholic/Protestant split in Christianity for a more Western analogy. There are many more Sunnis than Shiites in the world today (85% to 15%). In Iraq, however, the Shiites are the majority, and for years were oppressed under the rule of Saddam and his Baath party.

Now, here's the important part: al-Qaida is a Sunni organization. Bin Laden is a Sunni. Neighboring Iran is a Shiite nation. Let's go to Anonymous Liberal for a quote on how stupid McCain's quote is:
The problem, of course, is that Iran is a Shiite country and it simply makes no sense that it would be funding, training, and arming Sunni militants in Iraq. To the extent Iran is aiding anyone in Iraq, it is Shiite militants, most of whom are affiliated with the Iraqi government which we installed.

In an attempt to gloss over this problematic distinction, the administration has repeatedly asserted--without any further explanation--that Iran is arming "extremists" in Iraq, a claim that may literally be true but is clearly intended to convey the false impression that Iran and al Qaeda are somehow in cahoots.
This would be equivalent to a person claiming expertise in the "Troubles" in Northern Ireland back in the 80's, and then confusing Catholics with Protestants, and not knowing which faith the IRA followed. If the Iranians are helping anybody (and I'm sure they are) in this conflict, the main beneficiaries are people like Moqtada al-Sadr and his militia. They are a Shiite death squad actively (or at least until the cease fire) purging Sunnis and foreign elements (i.e. al-Qaida in Iraq)!

What disgusts and disturbs me about people like McCain is his willingness to hide behind empty rhetoric. He doesn't know the full details of what's going on in Iraq, so he busts out some key phrases that he knows will scare and rile up people: al-Qaida, Iran funding terrorism, etc. What's going on here? Is he: A) unaware of the players and loyalties on the chess board in that region or B) pulling a Bush/Cheney and deliberately making false inflammatory statements to support his on-going hostility towards Iran?

Look, there's plenty to dislike about Iran without having to make stuff up. Ahmadinejad's comments on Israel are particularly loathsome. So why the false statements? Is this really the man America wants leading the way? It's Bush all over again.

I also want to discuss the psychology of language and the way that this Adminstration and McCain abuse it. Classic example - the sliding definition of "success" and "victory" in Iraq. Yes, they claim the surge is working and that we can "win" in Iraq. Okay, fine. But what exactly constitutes winning at this point? And how are we any closer victory, if we are unable to set a constant set of criteria on that?

Let's contrast that with another candidate, shall we? Obama gave a major speech on Iraq. It's lengthy, but please read it in its entirety. It's just fantastic stuff. And, in a breath of fresh air, it's both informed and grounded in reality. I leave you with two passages that were particularly inspiring to me:
When you have no overarching strategy, there is no clear definition of success. Success comes to be defined as the ability to maintain a flawed policy indefinitely. Here is the truth: fighting a war without end will not force the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own future. And fighting in a war without end will not make the American people safer.

So when I am Commander-in-Chief, I will set a new goal on Day One: I will end this war. Not because politics compels it. Not because our troops cannot bear the burden– as heavy as it is. But because it is the right thing to do for our national security, and it will ultimately make us safer.
There's this also (who says he's light on details?):
Now, we must upgrade our tools of power to fit a new strategy.

That starts with enhancing the finest military in the history of the world. As Commander in Chief, I will begin by giving a military overstretched by Iraq the support it needs. It is time to reduce the strain on our troops by completing the effort to increase our ground forces by 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 Marines, while ensuring the quality of our troops. In an age marked by technology, it is the people of our military – our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen – who bear the responsibility for complex missions. That is why we need to ensure adequate training and time home between deployments. That is why we need to expand our Special Forces. And that is why we must increase investments in capabilities like civil affairs and training foreign militaries.

But we cannot place the burden of a new national security strategy on our military alone. We must integrate our diplomatic, information, economic and military power. That is why, as soon as I take office, I will call for a National Strategy and Security Review, to help determine a 21st Century inter-agency structure to integrate the elements of our national power.

In addition, I will invest in our civilian capacity to operate alongside our troops in post-conflict zones and on humanitarian and stabilization missions. Instead of shuttering consulates in tough corners of the world, it's time to grow our Foreign Service and to expand USAID. Instead of giving up on the determination of young people to serve, it's time to double the size of our Peace Corps. Instead of letting people learn about America from enemy propaganda, it's time to recruit, train, and send out into the world an America's Voice Corps.
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Obama's speech
Wednesday, March 19, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Today, the media is focused on discussing Obama's jaw-dropping speech from yesterday. I agree with the commentator who observed that if he ends up winning the Presidency, this speech will go down in history with some of the great ones. I believe the most accurate comparison would be Kennedy's speech on his Catholicism. It was amazing stuff.

I'll be updating this post later today with more, but for now I will leave you with this tidbit: Obama wrote that speech by himself. I am in awe.
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An Article Everyone Should Read
Monday, March 17, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Frank Schaeffer posted an amazing article over at the Huffington Post about his the Republican Party's long history of embracing religious leaders who have advocated extremist, hate filled positions. This is especially relevant, as the right-wing attempts to attack Barack Obama, because the pastor of his church said some inflammatory things in his sermons.

Again, this is a critical point moving towards the general election. We need to be aware of the hypocrisy tainting this entire race. McCain's supporters will get away with slamming Obama for this, while he gets a free pass from the media for his active (that's a key word) courting of some of the nastiest right-wingers religious nuts out there, such as John Hagee.
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Monday, March 17, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
For those who read this blog, you may notice from the posts that I have 3 main interests: video games, football and politics. They make me happy for various reasons (though politics makes me unhappy as a citizen, as a consumer of entertainment, the spectacle is hard to beat). The three topics appeal to various parts of my personality: the geek, the athlete and the conscious American citizen.

Another of my interests is food. At the moment, I'm particularly obsessed, as I am soldiering through the Induction phase of the Atkins diet. While I'm happy with the weight loss (7 lbs so far!), the craving for carbs is insane. So, today's post is all about food.

One of my favorite guilty pleasures is the Deep Fried Twinkie. I try to eat one (and only one) once a year. A Deep Fried Twinkie (or DFT) is basically a Twinkie that has battered in dough similar to what they use on funnel cakes, deep fried in fatty oil, covered in powdered sugar and presented for your consumption on a stick. It is one of the greatest taste sensations you'll ever experience. It's not subtle, I grant, but it's sure tasty. The reason I eat only one a year is because as you can imagine, it's probably somewhere around 30000000 calories. I can feel my heart start to labor about halfway through.

Now, you might ask yourself, what entree would I pair with this wonderful dessert? Ask no longer, for I present to you: The Hamdog. What's that?

The Hamdog, of mythical proportions but oh so very real, starts with a hot dog wrapped in a beef patty. This massive meatwad is then deep-fried. Not enough for you? It's then topped with chili, cheese, onion, a fried egg, and two fistfuls of fries. All of this is nestled in a giant hoagie bun.

That is crazy. Eating a Hamdog, followed by a DFT might literally stop your heart. Awesome and yet terrifying. Real Life Comics has a great strip on the Hamdog.

In other news, more zoos are putting animals on Weight Watchers-style diets. This makes me think of the advice that our vet gave us, regarding our very lovable, but very pudgy cat Ellie. The vet recommended "Catkins", which much like the Atkins that I myself am on, consists mostly of meat (i.e. canned food), instead of the dry food, which has lots of filler with lots of carbs.

Lastly, the top 5 foods I'm going to pound when I get to Hawaii (the trip that is motivating the diet in the first place):
  1. Kalua pork
  2. Malasadas
  3. Portuguese sweet bread (with a side of guava juice)
  4. Dim sum
  5. Fresh udon noodles from Jimbo's
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From Whoremonger to Comedian
Friday, March 14, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
The new Governor of NY, David Patterson, is black, blind, and apparently one hell of a funny guy.

From this article:
David Paterson just gave his first public address since Eliot Spitzer's resignation yesterday. He made noises about "getting back to work" and the budget, talked about being black and blind, indicated he wasn't planning any major changes to his predecessors more controversial policies, and became the first human being in government to express sympathy for Spitzer himself....

..."Just so we don't have to go through this whole resignation thing again," one ballsy reporter asked, "have you ever patronized a prostitute?" Patterson thought for a minute. "Only the lobbyists," he said.
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From Eliot Ness to Eliot Nasty
Tuesday, March 11, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
So, the governor of the great state of NY was caught in a prostitution ring scandal. Great.

I have only 2 things to say on this matter:
1) I give him credit for at least picking a "classy" gal. $4500 for a tryst is a pretty penny to spend.
At least it wasn't some crackwhore for $25. Gridskipper has a funny article on where the good governor arranged his little rendezvous with "Kristin".

2) He was caught on a wiretap. Jesus, man... this is why you have a secretary! You have THEM arrange all the details, and you just show up. Seriously, what good is a personal assistant, if you can't use them to obtain drugs, hookers and/or ice cream at random hours?

The late night comics are going to milk this one for at least a week, methinks (unless Spitzy resigns soon). Letterman's top 10 was pretty funny last night.

In other news....

Would you trust this man with your mail?!?!

Sweet mother of pearl! Seeing Ken without his beard is like seeing Darth Vader without his helmet on.
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It's Always Sunny in Alexandria
Monday, March 10, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
One of my favorite naughty pleasures is the FX show "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia". It's sort of like Friends... if the cast of Friends was composed of completely unredeemable sociopaths. I know, it doesn't sound that good. So, thanks to my new Hulu beta membership, allow me to share a few episodes that I particularly enjoy.

The Gang Finds A Dumpster Baby

The Gang Gets Invincible
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Rolling Stone endorses Barack Obama
Monday, March 10, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Is Rolling Stone still relevant anymore? Are today's youth actually buying it and using it to guide their musical choices? I'm not sure. There are several mainstream mags that offer similiar features and it's been awhile since one of their covers caused a stir. I myself prefer Blender (despite it's snickering frat boy overtones in some articles, I find their music reviews spot on).

Anyhoo, Rolling Stone has officially endorsed Barack Obama. It's an eloquent piece, capturing all the things that I personally love about Barack.
Also of note is this particular passage, explaining my decision to back Obama over Clinton:
All this was made clearer by the contrast with Hillary Clinton, a capable and personable senator who has run the kind of campaign that reminds us of what makes us so discouraged about our politics. Her campaign certainly proved her experience didn't count for much: She was a bad manager and a bad strategist who naturally and easily engaged in the politics of distraction, trivialization and personal attack. She never convinced us that her vote for the war in Iraq was anything other than a strategic political calculation that placed her presidential ambitions above the horrifying consequences of a war. Her calibrated course corrections over the past three years were painful. Like John Kerry — who also voted for the war while planning a presidential run — it helped cost her that goal.

Again, the politics of hope versus the politics of fear. I like Hillary, but this year voting for her would feel like choosing the lesser of two evils. A vote for Obama, in contrast, to me feels like a vote for the greater good. That distinction makes all the difference in the world to me.
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Election hysterics
Friday, March 07, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
One of Barack Obama's advisors, Samantha Power, has been forced to resign following news that she called Hillary Clinton a "monster".

Now, was that a silly thing to say? Sure. Then again, the transcript shows that she stated that the remark was off-the-record. Also, I'm troubled by the Clinton campaign's continued assault on minor language "offenses". I mean, really? "Monster" is such a terrible thing to call her that an otherwise well respect foreign policy adviser is lost? This is reminiscent of the "pimp" (the verb, not the noun) controversy that led to the dismissal of an MSNBC commentator. Again, sort of a silly thing to say, but can Hillary seriously say that she's personally, deeply that offended? We all know she's been called worse to her face, by much more wretched people.

Meanwhile, John McCain pretty much gets away with calling Hillary a bitch, and yet she continues to almost praise him in public statements.

What a crock.
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Señor McSquarejaw
Friday, March 07, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Oh man, how hot is this father-son duo?

That, of course, is one of my favorite football players (and my TV boyfriend) Howie Long, with his son Chris. Chris is expected to go early in the draft, and may actually go #1 if all goes well. I'm excited to see how he does in the NFL. Early reports and his performance at the combine suggest that he could be as great as his famous father. One person has even suggested that Chris could achieve Lawrence Taylor-type numbers and performances.

Sports Illustrated has a great article on Chris Long.

Note that Howie has two other kids, both of whom also look to be phenomenal athletes in their own rights. The middle son is 6'7", 285 lbs and can throw a 96 mile an hour pitch and is batting over .500 this season in high school. He might be drafted in the first round of the MLB draft. Talk about some crazy good genes....
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Democratic nomination Charlie Foxtrot
Wednesday, March 05, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
I've been thinking a lot about the primary results from last night, where Hillary carried both Ohio and Texas, two states that were must-win for her. As a result, it looks like she's in this for the long haul. Obama and Clinton will continue to spar and waste money on primaries, while John McCain gathers the forces of evil (a.k.a Republicans) around him and hordes his money for the general election season.

Some key things to consider:

1) The Democratic turnout has been gargantuan compared to the Republican turnout.
You can spin this one a couple of ways. One, you can say that the Democrats are more enthusiastic and will carry this into the general election. However, you can counter that since McCain is the presumptive nominee, there's not a lot of reasons for Republicans to mobilize themselves for the primary/caucus. On the other hand, you could say that the low turnout is partially due to the Republicans' general dissatisfaction with their nominees. Countering that point however, is the fact that as much as Bubba Rightwinger hates McCain, he's still never ever going to swing his vote to a black man or woman, especially a Democratic one. So, really, what we're hoping for is that the Republicans are genuinely tired of their candidates and will stay home on election day.

2) Despite winning Texas and Ohio, due to the distribution of delegates, Clinton only received a minimal net gain.
This means that Obama is pretty much just as far in front as he was before Tuesday's results. Meanwhile, there's no sign that the superdelegates' rush to endorse Obama is slowing at all. And even though Obama lost in Texas, you can spin it to say that he still made huge gains by simply narrowing the once double-digit lead she held on him. I read that to say that Clinton support is still bleeding slowly away with the voters. On the other hand, it is close enough to say that Clinton has a legitimate claim to the nomination.

3) Clinton is un-killable.
Just when you think she's out, she rises like the phoenix from the ashes and pulls out a win when she has to. Obama, for all his hype, is still a bit untested. The Clintons' famous resiliency was on full display yesterday. She can argue that despite all predictions of her demise, she's survived, so there's no reason to think that she wouldn't be able to do the same in the general election. The counter to that is the simple fact that the 8 point advantage that Obama brings to a Obama-McCain matchup is better than the current toss-up between Clinton-McCain. Why make it close if you don't have to? On the other hand, Obama has a lead for now, but the Republicans have not rolled out the big guns to crush him. We pretty much know what they're going to do against Hillary, and she still keeps it competitive. What will the Republicans do against Obama and how will that affect public opinion? Do they have some secret weapon that will swing the election to McCain?

4) Who gives a fuck what Texas thinks?
Look, I'm glad that Democratic Texans get a chance to have a voice in the primary season. But frankly, that state is NEVER going to go blue in the general election. So should we really care that Clinton barely won there? However, Obama has a few hardcore red states wins of his own, so how much does that negate the argument? I know, I support Dean's "Play-to-win-in-all-50"
strategy, but realistically, the outcome of this election hinges on how we perform in the purple states. I mean, I'm happy to have Massachusetts and California standing by us with their juicy electoral college votes, but the real indicator has to be how we do in the swing states.

Let's for a moment discard the results in Michigan and Florida, since those primaries were a mess - Obama's name wasn't even on one of the ballots, and he didn't campaign in either state. Plus, given how the political landscape has changed, there's no way to predict what the will of the voters in those states is.

Below is a map of the political layout of the land in the upcoming election. Let's focus on the purple states.

Now here is a breakout of how the two Democrats have performed in primary season (you'll have to click the little link that says "Democrats" to pull up the map view we want):

Let's see what gives after the final purple states (most notably Pennsylvania, which is a key swing state) votes. We can roll Florida and Michigan back in if and when they redo their primaries.

5) Apparently Americans have no common sense or logical reasoning skills left.
The fact that this general election matchups are so close just goes to prove that you can't count on Americans making the smart choice, even in the face of overwhelming evidence. McCain has all but promised to keep on the same track as Bush, and has shown over and over again that he has a poor grasp of economic policy and has been consistently wrong/ignorant of the reality over in Iraq and the Middle East. And yet, people still want to vote for him. So who the hell knows how this will eventually play out. I can only hope and pray that the Democrats wrap this up, and soon, before it's too late.

6) Don't just take my word for it.
Here's some links to other articles discussing last night's results, from people who are allegedly more politically saavy than I.
Slate's take on the whole thing
The always excellent Carpetbagger Report. This site is pretty much daily required reading during this political season.
The lefties at Salon
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Brett Favre to retire?
Tuesday, March 04, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Jay Glazer of Fox Sports is reporting that Brett Favre has decided to retire. We all knew this dark day would come someday, and it appears that this the year Brett hangs it up.

*Sniffle*. Watching Favre play this year was one of the highlights for me, during what I consider one of the more exciting NFL seasons in my lifetime. I am sad to see him go, but I understand his desire to go out on top (he had one of the best seasons of his 17 year career in 2007). It's better to retire while you're still on top of your game, versus being forced out because you're too broken down or playing too poorly to stay.

I did get a good laugh reading some of the comments on the site. The "John Madden is going to cry" comment particularly made me giggle.
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Damn you, CW!
Tuesday, March 04, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that the CW has renewed many of their shows. Except, that is, for two of their best new shows: Reaper and Aliens in America.

This is the sort of inane decision-making I've come to expect from the network that killed one of the best shows of the decade (Veronica Mars). It's almost FOX executive levels of stupid. Reaper is charming and fun, and it had a lot of potential to grow. Also, it stars the hot chick from Stick It, a movie my boyfriend adores beyond reason.

Aliens in America is a different sort of show. It's a genuinely funny sitcom, but it also has a lot of heart. They address the fact that Raja is from Pakistan, but they don't let his ethnicity become the brunt of any jokes. They steer clear of the expected jokes, and instead concentrate on gently lampooning aspects of American culture. The episode where the family joins a mega-church is particularly great.

I'm just so depressed about pop culture these days. How is it that trash like Gossip Girl can get renewed, while great shows like this go unappreciated? And don't even get me started on how 30 Rock's ratings stack up to According to Jim and Two and a Half Men.
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