January 31, 2008

Saruman Endorses McCain

John McCain garnered another key endorsement from the Republican party establishment today: that of Isengard overlord Saruman the White.

"It's clear to all that McCain is in touch with the needs of everyday orc voters." said Saruman during the announcement. "To vanquish, raze, and consume the flesh of our adversaries -- these are bread-and-butter issues to the core of his Isengard supporters."

"Against the power of McCain, there can be no victory."

"The great orcs, forged in the blasted earth in mockery of elves, the endless host of the Uruk-Hai who gravitated towards McCain after Tom Tancredo withdrew, roared their approval at this remark, and the body of the sound shook down the needles of the Fanghorn, the dark forest," reported MSNBC's Chris Mathews.

Afterwards, McCain addressed crowd gathered at the foot of Orthanc. "I gotta give you some straight talk, my friends. It's a tough war we're in. It's not gonna be over right away," McCain said, as several Orcs, beholden to the frenzy of McCain and fueled on the notorious orc-liquor, devoured their comrades. "There's gonna be other wars. I'm sorry to tell you, there's gonna be other wars. We will never surrender, but there will be other wars." At this Saruman gave McCain a look of almost paternal approval.

Pundits and historians alike have puzzled over McCain's comeback from also-ran status, to mount one of the greatest comebacks in U.S. electoral history. Some observers cite rumors that McCain had acquired the fabled "Ring of Power" in autumn of 2007, and that once-princely adversaries, such as former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, have been turned from powerful opponents into mere supplicants. Nor are Democrats immune: Joseph Lieberman appears frequently at his side, but as a mere memory of a man, who does not cast a shadow, and whose name is not spoken by those who dwell in sunlight, whose very body will pass through another man as if only a cold wind had chilled his heart.

Other seemingly potent opponents have met mysterious fates. Former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson, once viewed as heir to Reagan's legacy, fell into a zombie-like torpor before the Iowa caucuses in early January. (He is now missing, presumed torn into bloody hunks and consumed by wargs.) McCain campaign insiders scoff at suggestions that their candidate possesses newfound abilities to twist men's minds to madness, noting that Texas Congressman Ron Paul is still in the race, and making compelling pleas regarding this election's most important issues: the U.S. Civil War, the Gold Standard, and corruption in the McKinley administration. McCain's critics note that in 2007, Ron Paul was described "America's Most Sensible, Get-along With Everyone Politician" by Newsweek.

Analysts specializing in electoral politics and ring-lore note that McCain is eerily spry for being 124, and that on careful inspection of videotaped debates, appears to disappear completely from one location and then to appear suddenly at another, often to Mitt Romney's right. Romney himself has been the subject of rumors regarding a minor ring of power, the ring which breaks the bond between Words and Reality.

As for John McCain, the endorsement of both Isengard and Gov. Schwarzenegger is not without risks. It has created enemies as well as friends.

"Hroomm-harum," commented the ent of Ash, "you shall see the trees march as men, and the great forest drill as an army, as we march to Isengard, there to tear down Saruman, and The McCain, who has become hated of trees."

Some former allies of the Isengard overlord were equally unimpressed. "When did Saruman the Wise abandon reason for madness?" said Gandalf the Grey (D-Shire) of Saruman's endorsement of McCain, in a terse press release issued this morning.

Despite the fates of his former opponents, there are still leaders who are not cowed by McCain's powers. "The host of Gondor shall arise, and so shall the Roharrim, and one America shall arise, and we shall join together as one America, standing for hope, and as in the jewel on my brow is the last light of the Two Trees of Valinor, and as my brother is truly the heir of the Numenoreans, Elessar, we shall vanquish this great evil," said Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois), in a campaign stop at a Winchell's in Stockton, California.

In the Clinton camp, the disappointment was palpable - the campaign is reported to have been in contact with Isengard for weeks negotiating Saruman's endorsement.

"In the place of a Dark Lord you would have a Queen! Not dark but beautiful and terrible as the Morn! Treacherous as the Seas! Stronger than the foundations of the Earth! All shall love me and despair!," said Hillary Clinton, and after a long, silent pause before the stunned press corps, she lowered her arms and boarded the flight for Newark.

(The First Sea Lord and the Laird of Madrona provide electoral coverage for Isengard.gov.)

The Surrender is Working

The Surrender is Working | The Agonist

The Laird says: read it!

Bill...oh, Bill

After Mining Deal, Financier Donated to Clinton - New York Times

January 30, 2008

With Apologies to the FSL

For a lot of very good reasons, I supported John Edwards for president. Now, I'm throwing my inconsiderable support behind Barack Obama. There's method to my madness: I'll be in WV in two weeks and I think that a little work there could go much farther than a lot of work here. I'm guessing SF and Seattle will surely back Obama; but what about the hillwilliams?

I joined up with the Obama campaign and the thirty-or-so members of his Huntington, WV group. (If you view my profile, which I don't recommend, you'll see I cribbed heavily from the FSL's passionate post. Sorry, dear friend!)

I'm not sure why so many presidential candidates make national speeches from my home town, but they do, so I'm guessing there's a strategy there. Anyhoo, maybe we can help out.

If you want to put your money where your posts are, slide on over to this site and chip in.
A while back, I wrote, "could it be, could it really be?" Maybe it can.

January 29, 2008

On With Obama

Last Saturday, a racist, right-wing relative in South Carolina crossed party lines for the first time in 40 years to vote for Hillary Clinton.

It was a proud moment when I once stopped him before he got started on one of those sickening, giggling in-joke rants most racists I've met use to dress up their hatred in what passes for good-humor. I did this by effusively describing one of my best students, who was African-American, and was taking a break from her intense piano studies to apply to Harvard. Cheerfully blathering on about her artwork, her beauty, her discipline, I wasn't expecting to convert him, I was expecting him to shut his pie-hole. He still possessed the faculties to recognize the awkwardness of being thought a boor by family, at least during lunchtime.

But why did he think to vote for Hillary Clinton? Something to do with stopping the "Democrats who hate rich people" and the big companies who are so important to America. Or Democrats with darker complexions.

I think he is afraid. He is somewhat afraid of Edwards' populism. But he is much more afraid of Barack Obama's power and appeal, enough to cross party lines, enough to vote for Hillary Clinton.

It is dismaying, even after Obama's crushing victory in South Carolina, for some Democrats to try to continue to marginalize Obama as just a black candidate. The white vote in South Carolina split fairly evenly among the Democratic candidates.

And there's another word for black voters: Voters.

Here's how cynical this really is: the Clintons are far from racists and have done much personally to end the soul-sucking racial divide in America. But they are clearly maneuvering to take advantage of what they perceive as latent racism in their own party, regardless of the social cost.

Bill Clinton comparing Obama's historic S.C. victory to Jesse Jackson's is a code to white voters: Obama is no different from Jackson: his issues are just black issues. The actual message of that is that a black candidate cannot represent America as a whole. This diminishes both Obama and Jackson. I don't think Clinton actually believes this- but he's too smart not to be aware of the subtext.

It worked to an extent: it brought my racist relative into the Democratic primary. Yay. But young white voters in the South rejected these tactics, as they are beginning to everywhere. Racism is not the default position of young Americans, nor is sexism, nor homophobia. They have far more friends - and lovers, going by recent surveys - of other races than their Boomer parents.

(Note, this was written before Edwards dropped his campaign yesterday. I now regret anything bad I said. - FSL ) John Edwards adopted positions closer to my own: get the bastards, and when they're down, kick them in the neck and fill out their name and address on gay-themed magazine subscription forms. That was the game of the bastards, and we have been forced to play it. But Edwards doesn't really have a strong history of this until after he left the Senate, although he's done some fantastic work and has the most developed policy positions of the campaign, I don't completely trust him. He was a wealthy lawyer much longer than he's been a progressive, and his Senate record doesn't seem to match his current position. He was distant, even Lieberman-like in the 2004 General- where was the fire then, when the country needed it more, when the danger to the country was obvious? I am impressed that he came around, and particularly that he returned poverty to the forefront of the national agenda and created an effective foundation, but I can't shake the feeling that these positions are somewhat pasted on, that his soul isn't this. This might be translating into a faltering campaign.

But Barack Obama is letting me feel like an American again, stirring the national soul from dormancy: that all of us are made equal, that we can live freely, and that we can leave our nation and our world better for the future -words that for all my life were the soft gooey center of a skeptic's shell, and had grown into meaningless platitudes, like the word "love" in a McDonald's ad. They are not just tools to this man.

It's a lot to paint on a guy who's a couple years older than me. But Obama's campaign has already done several remarkable things that are contributing to what I begin to believe will not only be a successful presidential campaign, but a substantial transformation of American political culture.

Ted Kennedy's endorsement yesterday captured the sense of it: Obama has touched the shared American soul. Liberty, Equality, and Brotherhood - American values well before they were French. Independent voters, even Republicans, are drawn to Obama, even powerfully so. I think part of this is that Obama has given them what you might call permission to progress. They can think about how to fix the country without having to defend their indefensible past. (This means you, George Will and David Brooks).

I raise a difficult point now, because I respect John Edwards supporters - I was very nearly an Edwards supporter myself. But I think Edwards should bring his campaign to a close. Losing South Carolina so badly, he's facing, to use a nerd analogy, a couple of 150 hit-point Balrogs, and throwing this to the convention only does the Republicans good.

Hillary Clinton's argument is essentially that she is the most skilled and tested opponent to the Republicans. She's been running a pretty mean and shitty campaign- sporadic dirty tricks, hollow spin. She has become what I've been calling a corporatist - meaning that she essentially accepts corporate dominance of society - and oozes a sense of political entitlement that I think is dangerous to the future. This is not a deal-breaker, and she would be orders of magnitude better than the Bozo Administration, but I think we can do better.

Words do matter, when they mean something. The Presidency, politics and the law, is very much about words: poetry with consequences. Take the Bible, Hamlet or the U.S. Constitution. They're full of words.

What I can tell you is that my students here in Washington State, without any prodding from me, are motivated by Barack Obama. They are getting involved, even thrilled. He has already broken through the cynicism and self-defeat of the next generation in a way that Howard Dean couldn't hope to.

Barack Obama is going for the win. His progressive credentials are his entire life. That he is a Constitutional scholar is not a minor point. He believes, and articulates in a way no one has in a half-century, that Americans do really want their freedoms, they do want to take care of each other, and particularly, want to include everyone in this. He is the most persuasive, compelling progressive to run a serious presidential campaign in my lifetime, and he has my support.

By the way, whoever you're supporting, take a bunch of voter registration forms with you. Ask friends. If unregistered, hand them the form. If they are registered and know unregistered people, hand them some more forms. I've handed out dozens. It may be the best thing you ever do for your country.

January 26, 2008

Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay

Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay
I plan to see this, like the original, on the basis of the title alone. I haven't even seen the trailer above yet.

January 25, 2008

McCain's Militarism

The Independent here reminds Americans of the myth and militarism of John McCain.

There are personal charges in the article, of the sins-of-the-father nature, of violence in personality. They are fair play when you aim for the presidency, and when the United States is trying to recover a self-destructive period of military adventurism in the name of ...what was it again?

McCain has mostly opposed using U.S. power for humanitarian goals, jeering at proposals to intervene in Rwanda or Bosnia -- but he is very keen to use it for great power imperialism. He learned this philosophy from his father and his granddad Slew, who fought in the Philippine wars at the turn of the 20th century, where he was part of a mission to crush the local resistance to the U.S. invasion. They did it by forcing the entire population from their homes at gunpoint into "protection zones," and gunning down anybody over the age of 10 who was found outside them. Today, McCain dreamily describes this as "an exotic adventure" which his grandfather "generally enjoyed."....*
(In the Domincan Republic) John McCain Sr. intervened to ensure the supporters of the democratic government were crushed, bragging that it taught the natives "how to behave themselves." He saw this as part of a wider mission, where the U.S. would take over Britain's role as a "world empire."

These beliefs drive McCain today. He brags he would be happy for U.S. troops to remain in Iraq for 100 years, and declares: "I'm not at all embarrassed of my friendship with Henry Kissinger; I'm proud of it." His most thorough biographer -- and recent supporter -- Matt Welch concludes: "McCain's program for fighting foreign wars would be the most openly militaristic and interventionist platform in the White House since Teddy Roosevelt...[it] is considerably more hawkish than anything George Bush has ever practiced." With him as president, we could expect much more aggressive destabilization of Venezuela and Bolivia -- and more.

*I would refer the Senator to Mark Twain's Comments on the Killing of 600 Moros.


"And I gotta give you some straight talk, my friends. It's a tough war we're in. It's not gonna be over right away," McCain said. "There's gonna be other wars. I'm sorry to tell you, there's gonna be other wars. We will never surrender, but there will be other wars.

Wars plural. Repeated three times. And he's pledged to serve only 4 years? So that's two more wars, minimum? Or are they for later presidents?

How many wars exactly are we not going to be surrendering in? Just a ballpark would help.

"Sorry About the Super Bowl, Mein Fuhrer"

Bears Vs. Nazis!

A memorial is being created to honor "Soldier Bear, " an actual Bear-type bear, who was enlisted in the Allied Polish Army and fought in the Italian campaign in WWII, carry heavy loads of mortar rounds, drinking beer and smoking, "like any man."

GRRR!! BBC Video here.

January 24, 2008

I Think I Know How He Feels

My cheap shot for today comes from wikipedia's answer to my question, "What the hell kind of name is 'Mitt'?" Apparently, Mitt is his middle name, after his father's cousin Milton Romney. His real first name is Willard.

If he taps Ben Bernanke as his running mate, I have a swell idea for a campaign theme song.

A Question for the Banking Industry

BBC NEWS: Rogue trader to cost SocGen $7bn

Why is it that I never see headlines like: Rogue Trader Nets Bank $7bn?

America is Counting on Your Lazy Ass

Whoever you're supporting for President, there are only a couple of weeks left before the major primaries.

Your reasonably dreamy choices in the Democratic primaries and caucuses are Dreamy Barack Obama, Dreamy John Edwards, or Dreamy Hilary Clinton. Personally, I think Hilary Clinton is looking less dreamy by the minute, and would have by far the toughest fight in November, but still.

Your choices in the Republican primaries and caucuses are an assortment of repulsive, lying, crypto-fascist tools, plus antediluvian warmonger John McCain- still a tool, if an unreliable one, not to neglect bat-shit crazy Ron Paul.

Any Democrat is an order of magnitude better than any Republican in this race (he said, flatly). I need not restate here why. If you need a refresher, read this blog's archives since it began in 2003.

Electing a Republican gives the Republican party power. We note that this goes badly. When they have it, they immediately pass it off to exactly the people who will do the most damage to America in the shortest amount of time. A lot people people were killed violently for these fools around the world. A lot more died of avoidable neglect. A great nation went from the pinnacle of its power, influence and status to the drunk man who farted at the party and won't admit it. The Republican party, it is never to be forgotten, flushed the country and held down the handle.

SO GET YOUR LAZY ASS OUT THERE. Get to the caucuses, donate, volunteer. Gently remind friends and family of the same - you don't have to convince them of anything but that's its important to actual make the time and do the deed.

In California, particularly, the race is fluid and the prize is big. Have fun. Only America is at stake.

January 23, 2008

A Bean Pile of Lies? A Gravel Barge of Lies? A Moose Pellet Dumpster of Lies?

The Bush Administration issued 935 particular false statements in the two years leading up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.


Dick Morris speaks...

... about why Hillary may be loosing South Carolina on Purpose.

And while I'd love to dismiss Dick as a crank, a cynic, a Judas and a general bastard he does paint a picture of Hillary as a shrewd political maneuverer, who knows how to play the media like a fiddle.

Still, my fear is that Hillary is basically a complete 'Washington special interest. middle of the road insider, status quo, line-tower' and simultaneously nobody else has the savvy to beat the Republican slime machine when it comes down to the general election.

Which is a pretty depressing thought.

Ah well, I'm sticking an Obama sign in my window anyway. I never voted for Nader, so I figured I'm owed at least one marginally Quixotic vote.

January 21, 2008

The X-Box Failure Rate Dust-Up

Here's a new one for us: a Seattle PI blogger posts insider information about the red ring of death in the X-Box, reporting a hardware failure rate of around 30%, making the X-Box a manufacturing and design disaster, and one losing serious money. At least, that's the story.

The story makes interesting - and awkwardly written -reading, if only for the MS vs. anonymous expert critic flare-ups.

Someone get these Softafarians to the English department.

January 18, 2008

An Undecided Voter

Honestly, I don't know who I'm going to vote for in the upcoming presidential primary.

I can't seem to make up my mind. I will either vote for Barack Obama or John Edwards, but more specific than that, I can't get.

If left to my own devices, I'll tend towards Obama. Then, while spouting my own opinions on issues, my wife points out to me that Edwards agrees with me. Or, I read a Paul Krugman column, shedding a hard light on Obama's less-than-bold positions. Exhibit A: health care. How much of a visionary can he be if he can't even envision coverage for all Americans?

Then, I'll actually see Edwards on TV or YouTube or wherever. I can't stand his fake smile, smirky expressions, or false Southern charm.

So I dunno. We all agree that substance should trump style, until we see a contest between style we like without substance pitted against style we hate with substance.

Hey, Dr. X...

...where's the damned Bobby Fischer obit?

January 17, 2008

Our Calculations Are Always Correct, For We Are Gigantic Brains

Math from cutting edge cosmology now proves that we are infinitely likely to be floating brains in space.

Certain cosmologists need to calm down.

January 16, 2008

The Bill of Smites

Huckabee's Bill of Smites as uncovered in the DailyKos. Hallelujah!

So What's Your Point?

And here is a former GOP congressman indicted for money-laundering on behalf of an Islamic terrorist funding organization.

January 15, 2008

Interested in understanding the fundamentalist mindset?

Well look no further!

I'd like to present the saddest / funniest view into the mindset of the seriously fundamentalist Christian ever.

January 13, 2008

Saturday was a Beatdown

Well, it ended badly for the Seahawks. Two breaks in the first four minutes lead to a 14-point lead, and it was all extreme skiing from there.

Still, I enjoy any football game subject to extreme weather, even if Lambeau field turned into a snow-globe of despair for the Seahawks. (In the 2nd quarter, they cleared the yard lines with brooms. In the 3rd: shovels. In the 4th: little tractors.)

This just in: teams without running games don't make it far in the playoffs. Also in the news: the Packers started good, and only got better by the end of the season. Picking up sleepers Greg Jennings and Ryan Grant won me my big-money fantasy football championship this year. Add Atari Bigby and that wily veteran QB (name escapes me), and you've got a team with charisma, too.

Sign me up for the beat-the-Pats bandwagon: Go Packers!

Behind New Hampshire

Hilary Clinton's temporary recapture of the media darling lead from New Hampshire (where she won a stunning upset over Barack Obama - er, 9 delegates to 9 delegates,) is looking thin.

The Rasmussen national daily Presidential tracking poll - and you can usually at least trust the direction of a tracking poll - has Clinton with 40%, up one point nationally since New Hampshire. Obama has 35%, up 10 points nationally in the last week. Edwards has taken something of a hit, losing 6 to 14%.

With a set of a best ham-fisted and at worst coded racially-tinged slights in the last week, the Clinton campaign is only not in trouble if you believe that most of the other candidate's voters will skew to her as they drop out.

I'm on the Barack wagon. It boils down to a judgment that Barack's intellectual heft, personal story, and heart-stirring eloquence will create the broadest possible American coalition for a powerful, progressive, post-Bush political agenda. Edwards does have more carefully developed policies (comprehensive health care and carbon taxes, for example) , and for that matter, I will support Hilary in the general, strongly, if she wins.

An endorsement this week had an interesting phrase: Barack Obama has a "wide soul." So does America, at it's best. And it needs to be reminded of this, even with words, if the fear-mongering, back-room deals, flapping flags and mathematical formulae don't work out.

January 11, 2008

Jimmy Carter knows the deal

And tells it how it is.

January 07, 2008

Banquo and Macbeth

Thanks again to Jennifer's theatrical brilliance, and Spencer for the temporary use of his toys.

January 05, 2008

Death of King Duncan in the Scottish Play: "He's Dead, MacBeth!"

As interpreted by Jennifer, with some material assistance from her small boy.

Note Dr. McCoy, in an unusual cameo.

Blog Topics You Are Unlikely to See Here

1. When will the extremely deserving Golden Retriever finally win Westminster?

2. If Mitt Romney didn't say it, I don't believe it!

3. Clear Channel has done for Music what Abraham Lincoln did for the Union.

4. Not only did America never land on the Moon; the real truth is, America never even made it to Hawaii.

5. Daring pharmaceutical companies keep pushing forward our amazing national health care accomplishments!

6. Celine Dion's Vegas show has closed: How sad I am.

7. How can we keep our children safe from this national crisis of man-eating tigers?

If only Rudy Giulianni would quit being so reticent and start talking up his interesting experiences on September 11, 2001.

9. Aliens ARE among us, and have taken all the quality furniture.

10. This Microsoft product has made my life so much easier. And this Apple product? So much cooler.