Tuesday, January 29, 2008

As the subheading promises...

Ladies and gents once again politics and pop-culture have come together with a head of steam, the results are astonishing and I'm not promising that you'll find them pretty, just that you will be entertained.

Now those are some spicy toppings. (Oh yes I did)

Thanks once again to Threat Level.

Suburan Politicians Beware

The DC Politics Hour with Kojo and Jonetta is no more. DC politicians will no longer suffer the spotlight nor face Jonetta's withering cross-examinations alone. No, their brothers and sisters in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs now get to join in the fun on the oh so creatively named Politics Hour.

The first show with the new expanded range wasted no time in wading squarely into the heated Democratic Primary race for Maryland's 4th District which includes other candidates but pits Donna Edwards against incumbent Albert Wynn on the main stage.

As someone once said all politics is local and Kojo and Jonetta have DC metro area well covered.

Visit the Politics Hour online or tune your radio dial to 88.5 fm Fridays at noon.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Who Needs TV?

If you're missing your daily ration of the boob tube with the writers on strike, just fire up the web - there's something for everyone.

And if you think that online video/shows/shorts aren't any good, you clearly haven't been looking very hard...

Friday, January 18, 2008

It Was His Heart? - Chris Matthews' Explains

Update Below

MSNBC's Chris Matthews became the latest celebrity to issue a non-apology, semi mea-culpa last night. See for yourself...

(Video thanks to TPM, where you can also watch the earlier comments to which Mr. Matthews refers.)

If you haven't been following this story, or you think that Mr. Matthews deserves some slack, visit Media Matters for a run-down on his history of misogynistic and degrading comments.

Over at Slate, Hart Seely asks "How would Chris Matthews sound if he talked to men like he talks to women?"

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Three Strikes, You're Out... Sort Of.

A new law under consideration in Virginia would require three time drunk drivers to adorn their vehicles with bright yellow and red license plates.

While I suppose this is a good idea, a 'scarlet letter' if you will (and the Virginia Lawyers Weekly Blog will) and MADD is supportive in a way, I have one simple question.

How it is possible that our society allows someone who has been caught and convicted of drunk driving not once, not twice, but three times to ever get behind the wheel again?

Painting drunk driver's cars bright purple with polka dots and covering them in electric green flashing lights would also be a good start.

Here's an idea though, don't let them drive anymore!

WAVY-10 in Norfolk-Portsmouth also had coverage. I swear I heard this story on NPR Friday morning but I can't find it on their website.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Hendrik You're Not Alone

Hendrik Hertzberg wasn't blown away by Barack Obama's Iowa victory speech and neither was I.

While the nits we pick are different, Mr. Hertzberg is correct in his assertion that those of us who were not impressed were few and far between.

Something I didn't notice, Mr. Obama was using a teleprompter:

Obama was using a teleprompter, and he was reading his speech.

Now, as a onetime speechwriter myself, I have nothing against sticking to the text. When Obama accepts the Democratic nomination in Denver next August, for example, his words should be foolproof. I just thought that a late-night victory party after the Iowa caucus was the wrong time for a script, the right time for something more like spontaneity.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Obama and His "Great" Speech Still Worry Me

Much of the media on and off-line is caught up in the speech that Barack Obama gave last night in Iowa. Inspirational, electrifying, presidential and countless other laudatory adjectives are being tossed around.

I listened to the speech this afternoon and read the transcript for good measure. Mr. Obama gave a good speech in front of an excited crowd, I don't know how it compares to others delivered after the Iowa caucus since I haven't heard them yet.

I have a few thoughts and concerns that are worth sharing.

Mr. Obama has obviously been listening to MLK Jr. tapes on the campaign bus, there is certainly nothing wrong with this, Dr. King was without a doubt one of the great orators of the 20th century if not of all time. Nonetheless its mimicry and unoriginal in a slightly abrasive way.

Mr. Obama continues to worry me by rhetorically suggesting that he is an agent of change while producing little of substance or policy that would actually indicate how this change might occur. He also continues to hype a plan of reconciliation. In a terribly scary comparison, George W. Bush made a great many rhetorical promises and spoke often of uniting the country while he was running for President in 2000. Look where that got us.

Quotes from the speech and my concerns:

Mr. Obama-

You said the time has come to tell the lobbyists who think their money and their influence speak louder than our voices that they don't own this government, we do; and we are here to take it back.

Mr. Obama employs more lobbyists than any other candidate save for Mitt Romney. Also Mr. Obama has stepped up his attacks against John Edwards who recently pledged that no lobbyist would find employment in his White House.

Mr. Obama-
The time has come for a President who will be honest about the choices and the challenges we face;

Mr. Obama doesn't seem to understand the realities of the challenges he will face if elected and the fights that must be undertaken and won if America's Constitution is to be restored and any progress made in Washington, DC.

Mr. Obama-
I'll be a President who finally makes health care affordable and available to every single American the same way I expanded health care in Illinois – by--by bringing Democrats and Republicans together to get the job done.

This issue has been well covered in the blogosphere. If Paul Krugman says the economics of your plan won't work the solution isn't to attack him its to develop a plan that will work. I
don't know much about Mr. Obama's role in health care debates in Illinois, Mr. Krugman thinks it's not a good corollary and the Boston Globe has done some reporting on it.

Mr. Obama-
This was the moment when the improbable beat what Washington always said was inevitable.

This was the moment when we tore down barriers that have divided us for too long – when we rallied people of all parties and ages to a common cause; when we finally gave Americans who'd never participated in politics a reason to stand up and to do so.

This was the moment when we finally beat back the politics of fear, and doubt, and cynicism; the politics where we tear each other down instead of lifting this country up. This was the moment.

Years from now, you'll look back and you'll say that this was the moment – this was the place – where America remembered what it means to hope.


This is a well written and delivered bit of public speaking, it rouses the listener's emotions and certainly recalls Dr. King and maybe also Henry's St. Crispin's Day oration. But is winning the Iowa Caucus really that big of a deal? Perhaps what I mean to ask is should it be that big of a deal? Gail Collins fielded this one quite well in this morning's NY Times:
People, ignore whatever happens here. The identity of the next leader of the most powerful nation in the world is not supposed to depend on the opinion of one small state. Let alone the sliver of that state with the leisure and physical capacity to make a personal appearance tonight at a local caucus that begins at precisely 7 o’clock. Let alone the tiny slice of the small sliver willing to take part in a process that involves standing up in public to show a political preference, while being lobbied and nagged by neighbors.
Mr. Obama finished up with a rousing expose on the power and importance of hope. And he's right; hope, as Andy told Red, is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.

Hope alone won't save our country though, no matter how audacious it might be. Its going to take a fight, and I for one want a fighter in my corner, not a conciliator.

A Reply to Stephen Teles' Thoughts on Obama - or - Are You People Insane?

The notion that getting 38% of the votes cast in a strangely undemocratic process, by roughly 13% of the population of a state that is hardly representative of the US as a whole, and which will eventually represent but 7 votes in the electoral college, (a disaster best left for another time and place) versus 30% and 29% for your two main rivals is a convincing win seems a stretch at best and quite possibly simply ridiculous.

Mr. Teles and his colleagues at samefacts.com seem to have drunk the Obama kool aid. If someone could explain to me why it should follow that the residents of New Hampshire will mimic the voting trends of Iowans I would greatly appreciate it.

Mr. Obama did well in the Iowa Caucus, great, good for him, how about we wait and see what primary voters in the rest of the country think before we rush to a coronation?

Mr. Teles on the other hand says that it is all over and that Mr. Obama will surely win all other primaries and the nomination, based on what exactly may I ask?

What is really disturbing about Mr. Teles' rhetoric and that of Mr. Obama's supporters by and large today is their insistence, or at least suggestion, that all of the other Democratic candidates should acquiesce to Obama's awesomeness for the good of the party and the country.

Excuse me, but I do not support Barack Obama or his policies, particularly the fantastical notion that reconciliation can mend our broken political system. I want a candidate who supports my constitutionally endowed rights and freedoms and who is willing to go to the mat for them. They are my rights and they are not to be bargained with. The whole twisted notion of a primary election is too choose amongst the different candidates, to be presented with options and choices.

Mr. Teles claims that Mr. Obama is the candidate that Republicans least want to run against, because he is so middle of the road that they will have trouble generating and real opposition to his campaign. And that therefore, Democrats should support him without question and that Mr. Edwards and Mrs. Clinton should not disparage Mr. Obama and his awesomeness.

Think about that for a minute. Obama will generate the least vehemence from the Republicans because a lot of them like him and his positions are less objectionable to the right wing. Therefore he will be the best Democratic candidate for President.

That's correct, Mr. Teles does not want you to pick a candidate whose positions you support, or who promises to fight for the changes that are needed in our Country. Any candidate who would actually manage or at least attempt to take on the status quo will be deified by the Republicans and is therefore unsupportable. So don't vote for the person who you think will do the best job, but the one the opposition likes the best.

That logic is twisted, pathetic, and sad.

Mr. Teles and his colleagues are part of the problem, not part of the solution, right down to the detail where they do not allow comments on their blog. Oh, I'm sorry that would allow someone to say something objectionable. Or even, heaven forbid, question their or Mr. Obama's awesomeness.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Caucus Crib-Notes

It's finally time for the whole boondoggle to actually begin, and if you are anything like the Iowans interviewed on Morning Edition today you still have no idea who you want to support in the Democratic primaries.

(Let's face it, if you feel strongly enough about one of the Republican candidates to cast a primary ballot, there is very little hope for you)

Thanks to Atrios via Lambert via Paul Krugman, here is all you need to know to make up your mind, amongst the so called big three at least:

Obama: The system sucks, but I’m so awesome that it’ll melt away before me.

Edwards: The system sucks, and we’re gonna have to fight like hell to destroy it.

Clinton: The system sucks, and I know how to work within it more than anyone.

Or you could always just go with whoever brought the best snacks...

(Read the Lambert piece, it's worth it)