October 31, 2008

Voter Registration

One important thing we can do with a big majority in Congress is a little judo on the Republicans. They've spent the last month bitching about voter registration fraud and ACORN? Ok, then, let's fix it. Let's let the federal government control voter registration for federal elections rather than the states. We can make the process a lot more efficient and reliable and not have to rely on the states or third party organizations to do voter registration.

Posted by Observer at 09:59 AM | Comments (0)

October 29, 2008

Reading Material

I've been reading a few different things lately since finishing Goodkind's huge series (which I reviewed at the start of August, see my sidebar). I read a couple of King novellas, including "The Shawshank Redemption" and "Apt Pupil" both of which were turned into movies. "Shawshank" was, I swear, word for word, scene for scene from the movie (I guess I should say that the other way around since the book obviously came first). I was actually disappointed because I know the movie so well that I was hoping for something different, just a different take on things, different scenes, etc.

I never saw "Apt Pupil", but the novella was just okay (part of a four novella set in the book "Different Seasons"). Fairly gruesome and even though it wasn't horror, actually, it was disturbing enough that I didn't sleep well the couple of nights I went to sleep after reading a big chunk of it. I sometimes wish King was just write straight fiction more often because I really enjoy his prose. The horror parts are the parts I usually like the least.

I also read a couple of King novels, "Needful Things" and "Bag of Bones". "Needful Things" wasn't a real page-turner, I guess not very compelling characters or situations. I have a hard time believing someone with the kind of evil power as Leland Gaunt would waste his time messing with the heads of people in a small town. It seemed like he was too big an evil for such a petty little place, and then to see him sort of beaten wasn't all that convincing. The best comparison I can think of is with the novel "It" in which a big evil was present in a small town, but somehow, that worked.

"Bag of Bones" was better, more horror involved that with any of the other stories, but not as disturbing, just a traditional ghost story was a really gruesome gang rape and murder near the end, but by that time the resolution was so close (the rape was a flashback), it wasn't as wrenching as if it had happened at the beginning of the book. I really enjoyed the characters in this one, a good story.

I also read somewhere in the mix of all that Dave Duncan's old Swordsman series (first book here) that I guess is now out in reprint. My copies were bought about 15 years ago at Powell's in Portland, and my to-read shelf is so big (plus I keep buying books) that I only now got around to them. That 15 years is no exaggeration. I really am that bad about books.

Anyway, that was a fairly good trilogy. Nothing epic about it. A guy from the "real world" somehow inhabits the body of a famous warrior in a fantasy world and has to figure out why he's there and how he can keep from getting himself killed, please the gods who put him there, etc. Wasn't bad, but I wouldn't get on anyone's case to go seek it out.

I also read Michael's Moore little election guide book that came out. Honestly, this was a waste of money, though I don't mind so much donating to Moore's bank account if it will encourage him to make more movies. Basically, it was blog-quality writing with some general philosophy about the presidential race (nothing he hasn't written before in his other books), then about half the book was details on a bunch of local races I didn't know or care about.

Out of some sort of professional guilt, I guess, I read a book I got from the library about the Cassini mission to Saturn. It was interesting to see just how many of the grizzled old Voyager mission veterans are still around calling the shots. I didn't learn anything about Saturn or Titan that I hadn't already gotten from the web, though.

I also read Brust's latest hardback, "Jhegaala", which I'm happy to say was up to his usual standard. Vlad this time is out in the wilderness trying to stay away from all the assassins out for his bounty after events in previous books, and so he has to figure out a way to survive and solve problems that crop up while in a totally unfamiliar setting, similar to a few previous books set well outside of Vlad's hometown. The "fish out of water" act is a little old, but Brust could write about the phone book and I would probably like it if he threw in some sarcastic comments from Vlad's familiar.

Let's see, what else. Oh yeah, I just finished Grisham's non-fiction book "An Innocent Man" about how screwed up the justice system is in Oklahoma. Boy, I thought Texas was bad. What a beating of a book. I mean, Grisham wrote it straight, and it is a fascinating story, but a whole lot of details about the horribly depressing life of the main wrongly convincted character. It looked like he was basically publishing the notes of the psychiatrist who spent time with the guy at the end of his life and recapped everything.

Now I've got the two omnibus editions of Glen Cook's "Dread Empire" series. This is the stuff he wrote prior to "The Black Company", and I last saw it as an undergraduate in college, reading it while on loan from a friend's library. Now I have my own copies, and I guess I'll read it again, because I don't remember too much about them from reading them the first time except that they were good.

The whole series is seven books. In the timeline, books 3-7 come later and were published first. Books 1-2 are prequels published a few years later. So I have the prequel omnibus (books 1-2) and the first three books of the main series (3-4-5), and apparently, books 6-7 may not come out because Cook wanted to publish them with a new book 8, the manuscript of which was stolen. And books 6-7 are currently out of print. Anyway, I think I'm going to start with the prequel omnibus, called "A Fortress in Shadow" and then I'll go on to the main series "A Cruel Wind". This should take a while, probably won't get done before Xmas since the rest of the semester will be busy.

If I'm done, and I really like it, I guess I'll put in the effort (or possibly the money) to seek out books 6 ("Reap the East Wind") and 7 ("An Ill Fate Marshalling"). Maybe I'll get lucky at a local Half Price. I really don't want to pay for them like I would for a collectible, and that's all I see available on Amazon.

Posted by Observer at 11:03 PM | Comments (2)

October 28, 2008

The One

Bartcop made me laugh today:

Posted by Observer at 02:09 PM | Comments (1)

Voting with Wingnut

I got to early vote this morning since my campus graciously opened a polling place. I have encouraged all of my students to vote, but I told them not to vote this morning because I didn't want there to be a line. And there wasn't, though it was full. I figure morning is the best time to do it. Any students who are awake are only going to be up for class. They're not getting up early to vote, that's for sure!

As I go up to the check-in table, the lady in front of me is showing her voting registration card and saying, "Now how do you know this is me? How do you know I'm not someone else or someone not eligible to vote?" My first thought was that this is one of those wingnuts who is being scared about the legitimacy of the election because of ACORN supposedly registering a bunch of Mickey Mouse voters and so on. She doesn't understand that a voter registration card is not that easy to get.

You can't just fill out a random piece of paper and be registered. You have to verify your ID at the time as well as your place of residence. Now I suppose it *is* possible that someone could go around and steal a bunch of voter registration cards and then go vote as all of those different people, but you can't just make up the cards. They all have bar codes on them that match up in a computer database with the names and addresses. I'm surprised the polling place doesn't ask for photo ID for people who are voting, but I guess it would be discriminatory. I'll have to read some more about that, but for this election, I guess it is too late!

Of course, this same lady didn't seem to have a problem with punching her vote in with a computer and no paper ballot. That's why I figured she was a wingnut. A Democrat, if he/she were going to complain, would rightly want to know where is the paper trail that confirms my vote in case of a recount or a need for verification? How do I know the computer isn't switching my vote?

It is depressing to see how many races have Republicans running unopposed, especially for judge and other minor county offices. I'm so bitter at Republicans this year that I didn't vote for any of 'em. Right now, the way the Republican party is constructed, I can't imagine voting for a Republican anytime in the near future. And I'm sure a lot of those running unopposed are only registered as Republicans so they have a chance to win against so much straight-ticket voting, but still, to be registered as a Republican, you have to satisfy them in the primary, but I know what kind of picks Republican primary voters make. No thanks!

Posted by Observer at 10:13 AM | Comments (1)

October 27, 2008

Naming Rights

One good thing about the Boy King being such an unpopular president for such a long time is that I won't be subjected (I hope) to quite as many things named after him. Already, there are a few too many roads and highways around here named after Bush and Reagan.

Now that Ted Stevens has been convicted, maybe Alaskans won't be so quick to name things after him either. That's one formerly close race in the Senate that will now go to the Democratic candidate. Just need to win a few of those fairly close ones, and we get our 60 or 61. Early voting numbers are encouraging, and if the McCain campaign truly implodes during the coming week, maybe enough unenthusiastic Republicans will just stay home and not bother with the long lines that we'll get our filibuster-proof Senate.

If we don't, we're going to spend the next two years at the mercy of a few moderate Republican senators (like Collins or Snowe) who will be willing to break a filibuster on a particular bill if only we do this, that and the other and blah blah blah drain my energy. The way Republicans vote in lockstep, the only way we'll get anything meaningful done on health care, the war, tax policy, financial laws, public airwaves reform, etc. is if they can't do a damned thing to stop it.

Come on, America. Republicans have had their way with this country for most of the last 30 years by controlling 2 or all 3 of the branches of the federal government at one time or another. It's time to give Dems a chance and see if 30 years in the political wilderness have smartened them up any. If they fuck it up, then it is back to pox on both houses divided government, but at least with Dems in the executive branch, there will be some fucking oversight on the billions we're giving away in wealth redistribution to Republican war profiteers and bankers.

Goddamned looters.

Posted by Observer at 10:29 PM | Comments (0)

October 26, 2008

Up $1000

I've played poker now with the usual group twice over the past couple of months, and I finished up $500 or more both times, starting with only $100 in chips and not having to rebuy. Really, I don't think I've played differently than usual, I've just been getting great cards and bad calls. Last night, I was in before the flop with a pocket pair maybe four times and flopped a set two of those four times (I never got anything better than TT pre-flop). In Omaha, I had A456, and the flop was 664, and I got a call on an all-in bet with a guy drawing to the A2 low (he missed). Then I had a K9 suited in hold 'em, rivered a flush with a small pot out there, and then a guy reraised me all-in who had the Q8 flush.

Those two hands got me most of my winnings, but I was up about $100 aside from those two hands. I think there was maybe one hand that I folded where I would've hit it big. The rest of the time, I stayed in with the best hand or folded with what would've been a loser. It was a similar story a couple of months ago, just crazy good luck. This time, I wasn't the big winner. That honor went to a guy who won about $800 in one Omaha pot with a board of A57J5 when he hit quad 5's vs JJJ55 and one other caller who I think was going for the low. Omaha was very good to me last night.

Posted by Observer at 11:58 PM | Comments (2)

October 25, 2008

Wingnut Anchor

Holy cow. Check out your famous "liberal media" as a local news anchorperson in Florida asks Joe Biden if Obama is embarrassed to be a Marxist and questions of that caliber.

Posted by Observer at 04:52 PM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2008

Making Aggies Proud

I saw a story this morning that a McCain campaign worker who is also a student (I think at Texas A&M in College Station, TX) was reporting that she got mugged by a big scary black guy. And after the mugging, the black guy saw a bumper sticker and figured she was a McCain supporter and so scratched a "B" into her face for "Barack".

I smelled a rat.

Sure enough, it turns out she made it all up.

Really, Republicans. Are you so desperate to claim the precious mantle of victimhood that you're willing to just make shit up at this point? Is that all you've got now?

Along those lines, I also have read a few stories in the paper with McCain supporters complaining about their yard signs getting stolen repeatedly while not as many complaints coming in about Obama signs. Sorry, around here, I have a hard time buying that. This is some deep red country around here.

Posted by Observer at 03:46 PM | Comments (0)

October 23, 2008

Endorsement

I guess Scott McClellan must be endorsing Obama because he's black because that's the only reason a Republican would endorse Obama.

McClellan IS black, right?

Oh.

Posted by Observer at 10:54 PM | Comments (0)

Closer

I can't wait to early vote next week on campus. Every day, I must look at 538 a dozen times just to make sure Obama's huge lead is still there. The early voting numbers seem like good news, with lots more Democrats voting early than Republicans. With a big turnout, I mean an EPIC big turnout, we can vastly change the character of the government this time around, and once people have voted once, they are more likely to vote again, so maybe we can keep the momentum going and expand our majorities (even start getting some better Democrats in there who aren't just Republican-lite) in 2010.

I'm very glad Obama is spending so much money and effort on the turnout operation this time. From the stories I'm reading on 538, it looks like the Republican turnout is mostly dead in the water while all of the Obama places are hopping.

Coming home from the store last night, I scanned past one of the wingnut AM stations here, and they were darkly whispering conspiracy theories. Like Obama is going back to Hawaii not to visit his grandmother but to hide his birth certificate or some nonsense because he wasn't born in America. This whole vibe of Obama being a secret terrorist mole who wants to convert everyone to Islam and socialism is just pathetic, and the radio shows just keeping pumping that poison out to the gullible idiots who will believe them.

I wonder how many of them will support a President Obama in a time of war because they've been saying for 6 years that to do otherwise is tantamount to treason?

Posted by Observer at 10:43 PM | Comments (0)

October 22, 2008

Even Dan Quayle...

As Bartcop says, you know Sarah Palin is in trouble when a lot of articles about her begin with "Even Dan Quayle..."

Posted by Observer at 10:55 PM | Comments (0)

The "S" Word

It seems that a few years ago, before McCain got desperate to win the presidency, he was a lot more honest about raising taxes on the wealthy. That was the John McCain I wouldn't have minded seeing win the 2000 Republican primary and maybe even the presidency. I'm not sure what the aliens did with that John McCain.

Posted by Observer at 10:24 AM | Comments (0)

October 21, 2008

Race Is a Factor?

When Colin Powell endorsed Obama for president on Sunday, I knew it wouldn't take long for Rush to complain. This is the guy who made a point to single out Donovan McNabb among all NFL quarterbacks who weren't performing to their expected level. This is a guy who doesn't like Tiger Woods because, of all the golfers, it happens to be Woods' attitude that bugs Limbaugh. This is a guy who fixated on Jeremiah Wright but never talks about McCain's or Palin's crazy white preachers. And now he thinks that the main reason Powell endorses Obama is because both are black.

What a shock.

"Show me another liberal white politician that Powell has endorsed," Rush crows.

Huh, ok, you got me there. Then again, a lot of people who don't normally endorse Democrats are endorsing Obama this year. Lots of conservative figures (like Peggy Noonan, Kathleen Parker, Chris Buckley) are endorsing Obama when they typically don't truck with Democrats, partly because they don't like McCain or especially Palin, and party because Obama doesn't seem all that bad to them.

And what about Holy Joe Lieberman? He's stumping with McCain every chance he gets, and when is the last time Lieberman endorsed a Republican politician? Is Lieberman only endorsing McCain because both men are white?

Of course not, that would be a stupid thing to say.

Right?

I know it is tough for Greater Wingnuttia to swallow, but a lot of prominent, well-respected Americans are endorsing Barack Obama for president because he's simply the better man for the job. And what's worse for Republicans is that there is really no one else in the party who could potentially run and be even remotely competitive with him right now. They're all trapped by what Bush has turned the party into, a bunch of loyalists who are a front for the business interests that are busy looting the country as fast as they can.

Update: Here is Feff's URL from the comments below: http://somehedgehog.livejournal.com/245807.html

Posted by Observer at 02:39 PM | Comments (6)

October 20, 2008

Softer World

Another webcomic I stumbled across today that has some promise is A Softer World. There are 364 comics in the archive, and I'd say the percentage of hits is pretty good, maybe 10% with a couple in there that had me cracking up. Otherwise, very busy this week with grading.

Posted by Observer at 10:55 PM | Comments (0)

October 19, 2008

Karma

Guess I shouldn't have made fun of the Lambs last week, eh?

I hope that they are having a remarkable turnaround and go undefeated the rest of the way, because the alternative is that we really suck hard. We were like a hydrant in a pack of dogs in St. Louis today. This is the second week in a row where it looked like the defense knew ahead of time what we were running. Are we predictable, or are we tipping our pitches? And the offensive line has been horrible.

Games like this remind me of why the Cowboys haven't won a playoff game this millennium.

Posted by Observer at 03:11 PM | Comments (0)

October 18, 2008

Classic Tactics

This whole thing Republicans are pushing now about voter fraud is just so malicious, so evil. They'll really stop at nothing.

They're criticizing ACORN for registering fake voters as if that's some kind of new discovery. ACORN has been registering voters for three decades, and sometimes, the volunteers do a bad job or they fake applications, but ACORN supervisors double-check all of them and flag the questionable ones before they turn over all of the forms (which they are required by law to do) to the elections supervisor, who is then paid to verify them because he or she is a government employee.

Now, I'm sure the elections supervisor gets some forms that say Mickey Mouse wants to register to vote, and what do you suppose is done with those? If those were actually stamped valid for some reason, do you think Mickey Mouse is going to show up to vote with a photo ID?

No, the problem here is not voter registration fraud, it is the fraud Republicans are perpetrating by purging voters off the lists for no good reason just to gum up the works, to make the lines slow on election day in largely Democratic precincts, to get some small percentage of the votes thrown out. And the bonus is that if Obama wins, Republicans get to spend the next four years complaining that the election was "stolen" and so they get to pretend Obama and the Dems don't have a mandate and shouldn't be allowed to govern, etc.

I think the worst ones are the ones who go on TV knowing all of this, these are smart people, and then acting like it's a big problem. They're the most cynical and evil of the liars, and I wonder if they have a soul, if they sleep well at night.

The polls are tightening up, which is no surprise, but I sure wish they wouldn't tighten up this early. I'm greedy. I want a landslide, and I want a 60 seat Senate. Maybe someone besides David Letterman will start pushing McCain on his pal Gordon Liddy. If Obama were close friends with a black guy who recommended that we shoot federal agents in the head, do you think that might be on Fox News and CNN?

Posted by Observer at 10:05 PM | Comments (0)

October 16, 2008

We're All Dirty Fucking Hippies Now

At least, according to Ben Sargent.

Posted by Observer at 08:09 PM | Comments (2)

Plumber Crack

So this "Joe the Plumber" character McCain kept bringing up last night turns out to not only be a registered Republican but also perhaps a relative of Charles Keating (I haven't seen this reported, just blogged, so I wouldn't believe it until I see an original legitimate source). Doesn't make him a bad guy or anything, but is that really the best McCain can do when trying to find an "Average American" who is being hurt by Obama's proposals?

Did Obama secretly send some people over to be moles in the McCain operation and secret replace his coffee with Folgers crystals? I mean, every time he turns around, he's putting his foot in his mouth, reversing course, or adopting some Obama proposal that is months old as his own brand new idea. Sometimes, all at once!

McCain is going to do this country a wonderful service in spite of himself and potentially hand over not just the presidency but the entire Congress to the Democratic party for a generation. I'm trying to decade now which I want more if I have to choose: reestablishment of the Fairness Doctrine, 61 Senators (so we can tell Lieberman to rot) or just Senator Al Franken. Or if I can get all those, would it be too much to ask to get rid of "Big John" Cornyn in Texas, perhaps the world's biggest Bush stooge?

Christmas is coming early this year!

I'm aware enough to know that optimism is probably going to peak over the weekend thanks to the last debate push and then the polls will tighten. Then we find out if Obama's ground game is all it is cracked up to be and if they have an answer for all the places Republicans are using "voter fraud" as a way of suppressing turnout and keeping people from voting. The biggest story on election day, if we can pull it off, would be finding out everyone who wanted to got to vote and the vote was counted accurately (matching exit polls). That would make me optimistic about elections to come if we can get our Democratic infrastructure going at that level.

Posted by Observer at 02:01 PM | Comments (1)

October 15, 2008

Another Win

I actually got to watch tonight's debate thanks to C-Span's online archives. I thought McCain was doing pretty well at the beginning. His best attack is the "spread the wealth" line, that Obama knows how to spend your money better than you do, that sort of thing. That kind of anti-tax populism is the Republican party's best selling point, even though given their taxation policies, it is dishonest.

But then he veered off course and became his usual unlikable self once all the "palling around with terrorists" crap began, and he didn't recover for the rest of the debate. That's mainly because, in my opinion, right now Americans don't like Republicans on any issue except generically "taxes".

If taxes had come at the end of the debate, it might have been better for McCain, but honestly, anyone who tuned in for the whole thing was probably already decided anyway. The snap polls show another clear Obama victory, and if previous polling trends are any indication, this will lead to another little bump in the polls for Obama through the end of the week.

One reason I love the instant polls after the debate is that they keep the "balanced" pundits from coming on and talking about how "McCain did what he had to" or "had the line of the night" or "Obama rolled his eyes" or some such nonsense. They don't want to look stupid when self-described independent voters think Obama won by a 3-1 margin every time. That keeps narratives (like Al Gore's sighs) from getting started.

The split screen format did McCain no favors. He looks positively creepy when he's not talking, like an animatronic singer in the Chuck E. Cheese "Happy Birthday" band. Meanwhile, Obama spends the whole debate simply looking calm, cool and collected, and that's what everyone wants right now. Not someone angry, someone who projects confidence but not arrogance.

Obama's post-debate poll bump will leave McCain with a ton of ground to make up during the last two weeks, and without some major weird event, I can't imagine how it would happen. Saying "Reverend Wright" over and over isn't going to do the trick. People got tired of that during the primaries, at least people who might vote for Obama. McCain supporters (hard core) love that crap, but he doesn't need to be wasting his time and effort convincing Greater Wingnuttia.

Our Senate chances are up to 30% for a 60-seat majority. I'm most interested to see if Obama's momentum extends down the ticket, and I'm hoping for some surprising polls in places like Texas in the next week or so. Maybe it will attract some money to candidates who are in a position to ride coattails to a surprise victory. The Senate is where the excitement is going to be this election, I think. I hope we don't end up spending the next two years begging a couple of moderate Republicans for help breaking a filibuster.

Of course, for me, I also enjoy watching Republicans attack each other over whose fault it is that Obama will win in a landslide. And I love watching those angry McSame/Palin crowds. It really wakes people up to the difference between liberal and wingnut anger. Liberal anger is sputtering, red-faced, speechifying lectures about our rights and our liberties and so on. Wingnut anger is dark and violent and borderline illegal with a dash of racism or religious fundamentalism thrown in for good measure on occasion.

Posted by Observer at 11:11 PM | Comments (0)

October 14, 2008

Subprime Villains

So I've been doing some more reading on the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) that is supposedly at the heart of these lax lending standards promoted by the Clinton administration that started all of the subprime dominoes falling ... and it just ain't so. Sorry, Republicans. Wrong again.

A lot people are trying to make Barney Frank out to be some kind of villain here because he's always been a strong supporter of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, but it seems his big "crime" was opposing a switch from Congressional to Executive Branch oversight. Sorry, but that sounds like a good idea to oppose granting even more authority to the executive branch. As a matter of fact, Frank was behind the effort in 2006 to restrict Fannie and Freddie from participating in the subprime market, which he enacted as soon as he could once Dems controlled the House for the first time since 1994.

What's more, the CRA was indeed instituted by Clinton, BUT the banks that participated in the CRA were subject to much more rigorous oversight and credit requirements than other banks. And so, not surprisingly, it is not the lending institutions involved in the CRA that failed. Instead, it was the larger private banks that were almost completely unregulated that failed. The CRA was a model for how the government can help high risk homebuyers with sufficient oversight to prevent a meltdown.

As usual, when it comes to smart economics and fiscal responsibility, liberals win hands down. We've been right all along. And we've been held to higher standards all along.

Who can doubt that once Obama takes office, everything he proposes is going to face the question of "how are you going to pay for it?" Which I'm fine with, actually, but my point is where has this question been for the past eight years? Why does this question only get asked during Democratic administrations? Maybe this is why Republicans always run up so much fucking debt.

Posted by Observer at 10:58 PM | Comments (0)

Church and State

Apparently, Catholic churches all over the US last Sunday were read a letter that says something to the effect of the idea that it is morally impermissible to vote for a candidate who supports abortion rights. The implicit message is "don't vote for Obama".

You know what, Catholics? How about a message next Sunday saying it is morally impermissible to vote for a candidate who supported a preemptive war that has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians? I mean, that IS a moral issue, isn't it? Or how about voting for a candidate that allows companies to pollute the environment, resulting in a far greater death rate due to cancer?

I mean, if you're going to get involved, Catholics, then by all means GET INVOLVED and let's really talk about Right and Wrong, what say?

Posted by Observer at 08:42 AM | Comments (2)

October 13, 2008

Follow Up

Bill Maher has a good idea for debates: allow only partisans to ask questions instead of these idiotic undecided voters, and allow follow-ups. For example, I would ask: Senator McCain, for months you argued that experience is an important quality in selecting a president, so how does that square with your selection of Sarah Palin as a running mate?

And I have a follow-up: Sarah Palin? Are you fucking kidding me?

Posted by Observer at 10:43 AM | Comments (0)

October 12, 2008

Oh Noes!

This one definitely deserves a Nelson Laugh.

The St Louis Lambs have played four games before this week:

Lost 38-3 at Philly.
Lost 41-13 at home against Giants.
Lost 37-13 at Seattle.
Lost 31-14 at home against Buffalo.

So they go in today against 4-1 Washington, which just went on the road to beat both Philly and Dallas, and St Louis wins 19-17.

Good teams take games off, but they still find ways to win against the sad sack teams, just like Dallas beat Cincy last week. Washington still has a lot of work to do, apparently.

Of course, then Dallas goes and gets beat by a decent Arizona team. Boy were they fired up. I think all the Dallas fans in their home stadium pissed them off or something. They were the better team today and deserved to win, even overcoming a couple of horrible calls that went in Dallas' favor. Our offensive line was plain awful today and could've been called for holding just about every down, and Romo was under intense pressure anyway.

Posted by Observer at 03:09 PM | Comments (0)

Where the Money Went

I understand that Republicans are trying to push the idea that poor people trying to buy houses in low-income or middle-income neighborhoods are the cause of the multi-trillion dollar meltdown. I'm not saying you are pushing this idea, but I think I know where you got it from. The problem with it is that the math doesn't add up. The real wealth in this country is not in the homes of people in the bottom 33% of the income scale. Sorry, it just isn't. Add up the value of all of these bad loans that were given out when they wouldn't have otherwise been under the old system, and how many are there, really?

A million? Come on, seriously, a million loans given out that wouldn't have otherwise been given out under the old rules? I think that number is preposterously high, at least an order of magnitude off, but I want to start somewhere that we can potentially agree upon.

Ok now, let's say each of those loans was worth $100,000. Again, a laughable average because remember, we are blaming this on lower lending standards for minorities, for people who couldn't traditionally qualify for loans. I seriously doubt these people are looking into houses worth $100k, but again, let's start somewhere.

So 1 million times 100,000 = $100 billion.

I think I would be willing to agree that that is the ABSOLUTE MAXIMUM amount of "lost money" in this whole debacle you can blame on low income minorities, and that is probably too big by a factor of at least 10. So, umm, where are the rest of the trillions lost? Did a bunch of low income minorities somehow figure out a way to lose all of this money?

Preposterous. So why is it that the first thing I see out of the mouths of Republicans is that bad loans to unqualified minorites are the cause of this mess? I mean, I know why, they are trying to shift the blame to the common scapegoat of the moron who doesn't want to vote for Obama and is looking for a guilt-free reason to blame minorities.

That's like Clinton getting a blowjob and then a Republican Congress spending a billion dollars and wasting all kinds of time prosecuting it, and we look back and say, oh, that whole thing was Clinton's fault. If only he hadn't gotten a blowjob... That just smacks of denial. If it hadn't been the blowjob, it would have been something else, he would've been impeached over Vince Foster or some other aspect of Whitewater or how he negotiated a treaty with Lower Berzerkistan or how often he flew Marine One to Camp David. That's just how they operate. If you don't believe me, I'll be glad to forward some of the hate emails I got about that "traitor" Al Gore, who never got any blowjobs, prior to the 2000 election.

Obama is going to go through the same wringer unless and until the traditional media is fixed (though having a Democratic Congress will help if he can keep it), until it is no longer owned by a few powerful rich Republicans, until something like the Fairness Doctrine is reestablished and actual liberals have an amount of time on TV to present their case that corresponds with the fact that they are in the majority on most of the major issues of the day. Of course, I would ultimately prefer no political talk radio tilted toward either side, publicly financed campaigns and a limited amount of time for campaigns, like 4 weeks, but that's never going to happen.

Posted by Observer at 11:03 AM | Comments (2)

October 11, 2008

Poking a Hornet's Nest

I didn't know about this, but apparently, the idea of "active SETI" is starting to gain popularity. This is the idea that we should no longer just passively listen for signals from space but instead we should start continuously broadcasting in some sort of amplified, directed, easy to detect fashion, way above and beyond what we currently do. Essentially, it is shouting at the cosmos.

Oh my God, what a horrible idea.

I mean, first of all, don't these people know their history? Can we buy them a Jared Diamond book or something? Do they know what happens what two civilizations of very different technological capability meet? We would be the ones taking remedial classes while they loan us some smallpox-infested blankets, that's my guess.

And who gets to decide what we broadcast?

The thing is, once they broadcast, there are no takebacks. We can't snatch those signals back. They are speeding away at 186,000 miles per second, come what may. I can't wait for Congress to get their hands on this info and some of the proposed messages. They'll conflate it with normal "passive SETI" research, which is inherently very interesting and useful, and funding goes out the window.

This brings up the first and only rule you need in order to be an incredibly good defensive driver or politician: never underestimate your fellow human's capacity for stupidity.

Posted by Observer at 10:53 PM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2008

Insider Trading

I always thought that the main reason the super rich were pushing for Social Security privatization is that they knew if the government were put in a position to become a huge new buyer of stock, it would drive the market (in which the rich are already invested) through the roof. It was never about increasing the retirement account of Joe Sixpack; nobody lobbying for this or potentially writing the legislation (probably the same people) ever cared about a safety net for the suckers. Plus, them being big Republican donors and all, they might get a tip or two from a loyal insider about upcoming purchases and give back a little of the profit to the important job of electing more Republicans to Congress or what have you.

Well, that didn't work, but now that the Treasury Secretary has broad authority to do whatever he feels like with hundreds of billions of dollars over at least the next three months, I can't say I'm shocked to hear them announce today that the government is by golly gonna buy itself some stock to help prop up the market. And maybe that is the right thing to do, just what the doctor ordered.

But I smell a rich Republican rat.

Krugman said it best 4-5 years ago, that the Republican philosophy of government is at its core a complex form of looting.

Posted by Observer at 10:41 PM | Comments (0)

October 09, 2008

My Theory

I think a good part of the recent 20% downturn in the market, perhaps more than half, comes from the fact that the smart money (the super rich) realize that an Obama presidency is just about inevitable, and he'll bring with him a big majority in Congress and possibly a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

When one party wins a landslide like this, and the handwriting on the wall for 2010 is even better given who's up for election and where, there may be some party switching going on after the election. It wouldn't surprise me at all if 1 or 2 Republicans in the Senate give the "I didn't leave my party; my party left me" speech, which further increases our chances of getting to the magic 60 mark on big votes.

With that said, I think the very rich realize that Obama and a big Democratic majority are going to tax the holy fucking crap out of them every which way they can, and so I think a lot of them right now are taking their wealth out of the markets so they can sit on the sidelines for a few years and figure out a new strategy to make billions while paying as little in taxes as possible. I think that selling pressure is creating a big part of this downturn.

Am I crazy?

Posted by Observer at 10:08 PM | Comments (2)

October 08, 2008

Good News

Hey, look at the bright side, Republicans! Pretty soon, you can start blaming the entire economic mess on our Democratic president, just like you did with Clinton when he inherited the recession from the first crappy Bush president.

Can't wait for to see the polls over the next few days. I don't necessarily think Obama is going to go much higher. There's too big of a racist, angry, moron base, and they will give McCain a solid 40 percent floor, and McCain is just about down to that now. What the debate will do, I think, is allow Obama to solidify the lead he's built up over the last two weeks instead of suffering a normal regression back to the mean.

Whether we take control of the Senate fully, with 60 or (please God) a Lieberman-proof 61 votes, will depend mainly on turnout, and the polls don't really show that, just opinions. I think the real changes that are occurring over these last couple of months are in people who intend to turn out and vote and volunteer for their candidate to get other people to turn out, and Obama's ground game is swelling like a flooded river after a week of heavy rain.

Posted by Observer at 06:30 AM | Comments (4)

Foresight

It'll be nice to have a president for the first time in eight years who actually has some foresight and doesn't end up saying things like, "Nobody could have anticipated ... " the financial crisis, or that Iraq would be a quagmire or that terrorists would try to fly planes into buildings or that a hurricane could cause a catastrophic flood in New Orleans. Here's Obama from last night:

Let's first of all understand that the biggest problem in this whole process was the deregulation of the financial system. Senator McCain as recently as March bragged about the fact that he is a deregulator. On the other hand two years ago I said we've got a subprime lending crisis that has to be dealt with, I wrote to Secretary Paulson, I wrote to Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke and told them this is something we have to deal with and nobody did anything about it. A year ago I went to Wall Street and told them we have to re-regulate, and nothing happened.

Obama also loudly spoke out against the Iraq war before it started, saying it was a huge mistake and an unnecessary war that would take resources away from the more important fight in Afghanistan, and that was at a time when it is not politically expedient to be anti-war (it rarely is).

When a competent president interested in good government is in charge, and he receives a presidential daily brief about an imminent attack on our country, you can bet he'll do something to stop it. When he sees a crisis coming, he'll act ahead of time and figure out a way to mitigate or stop it.

I know it's hard to remember, but that's what leaders do, and we haven't had one with good judgment in both foreign and domestic policy fully committed to this country (instead of interns), hell, probably since Eisenhower.

Posted by Observer at 06:18 AM | Comments (0)

Favorite Sign

Of all the news photos I've seen from today's events, I think my favorite is: "Hey, Sarah! I can see the end of your political career from my house!"

I missed the debate, had some activities on campus to attend to, but the snap polls seems to indicate Obama won this debate even more convincingly than the first one, which pushed his decent poll numbers through the roof. And it sounds like Grampy McSame was a little cranky, referring to Obama condescendingly a few times, calling him "that one" and then refusing to shake his hand after the debate.

That shaking hands thing can be a big deal. In Texas several years ago, the political career of Clayton "lie back and enjoy it" Williams ended not as much because of his stupid comments about rape, but more because he refused to shake Ann Williams' hand after a debate and was rude to her. That's a big turnoff to Big Southern Dummy and Dummy's Wife.

I doubt it would get them to vote for a non-white candidate, but it might make them not want to bother on election day.

Posted by Observer at 12:45 AM | Comments (0)

October 07, 2008

Moderation?

So there's a guy who goes on TV on several talk shows, and he says that he's not too worried about the whole Keating Five thing with McCain, because that's all ancient history. And he also notes that when looking at recent polls favoring Obama, we should remember that at least one poll shows McCain winning the "best equipped to be Commander in Chief" category consistently.

Sounds like your typical Republican operative spouting talking points right?

Only it is tonight's debate moderator, Tom Brokaw.

Did I mention that he also currently hosts "Meet the Press" each week?

Good thing we have such a liberal media in America or I don't know how on Earth any Democrat could ever win an election.

Posted by Observer at 01:15 PM | Comments (0)

More Analogies

Revisiting the Fark thread where I got some of the better images yesterday, there were a lot more. Below are my favorites. I probably won't leave this post up long because I don't want a bunch of people stealing bandwidth and hotlinking these images from elsewhere. I'll have to watch the bandwidth numbers to see if that becomes a problem.

Anyway, here are my favorites out of hundreds I looked at. The one that made me laugh out loud was the one with the Pulp Fiction reference. You'll know it when you see it. Heh.








































































































































Posted by Observer at 10:54 AM | Comments (1)

October 06, 2008

Analogies

I found a few of these as I wandered around the internet this weekend:













Posted by Observer at 10:31 AM | Comments (5)

October 05, 2008

No Worries

Well, we beat the Bungles at home today, 31-22, and it was closer than that score makes it sound. Cincy had a chance to tie it 24-24 with five minutes to go or so if they had converted a two-point try. The problem is that we got up 17-0 and started coasting. I think people started to play not to get hurt, and that lack of effort let the Bungles back into the game. Anyway, despite some sloppy play, the Cowboys were better in the end, so no worries. Anyone who is worried about the Cowboys losing to Washington last week and have a close call with Cincy needs to remember it is only week 5, and by the way, the Redskins went and beat the Eagles today.

Crap, they're legit.

It is very possible that the 4th best team in this division is going to show up in the NFC Championship game. I don't know which of the teams is the 4th best right now, but at the end of the season it will depend on injuries and who gets hot, just like last year.

Arizona putting up 41 points against Buffalo really doesn't scare me, and we go to Arizona next week. They may score 20 or 30 on us unless we learn how to force more turnovers on a consistent basis, but we'll hang 30 or 40 on them. We have too many weapons, and Romo is about due to have a huge game.

Posted by Observer at 10:45 PM | Comments (0)

October 04, 2008

Guarding Our Border

Credit the genius writers working for Letterman for pointing this out. While Sarah Palin is debating and campaigning all over the lower 48 states, who is up there in Alaska keeping an eye on Putin for all of us?

Posted by Observer at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)

October 03, 2008

Dvorak phone?

I've now texted enough that I feel like I'm qualified to gripe. How the hell is it that texting is still in the stone age? I mean, I should be able to text with a normal phone without having to have a typewriter keyboard on there or a touch screen or what have you, but no. We're stuck with the keypad that is leftover from the early 20th century.

If I want to type an "s", I have to hit the 7 button FOUR TIMES. That's one of the most common letters, and it takes 4 pushes while "j" takes one push? And God help me if I want to type the number "1". It takes either ELEVEN pushes of the 1-key or I have to change modes in and out of numeric while typing.

The hell?

Surely there are phones being designed now that allow you to text efficiently on a numeric keypad. It can't be that hard. For example, just turning the 9 key into, say, svjqz9 and redistributing the wxy elsewhere would do wonders. And since "1" is the most common number written or used (because life is logarithmic, not linear), can we please make that the first default character when I hit the "1" key instead of having to scroll through all of the punctuation?

Posted by Observer at 06:00 PM | Comments (4)

October 02, 2008

Can't Watch

I tried, but I can't do it. Life is too short to sit in front of a TV screen and watch a Republican smile and lie to my face like I'm a fucking idiot like the rest of the low-information voters out there who lap it up. I'll be sorry if I miss some kind of flaming train wreck, but I'll catch it on YouTube if I have to. From what little I could withstand, it looks like Palin can brazenly lie and repeat a few talking points, so she'll be fine as long as the moderator doesn't ask her for any specifics she didn't rehearse beforehand. And the moderator won't do that because wingnuts were already preparing the field prior to the debate by saying she's biased, so she's got to be extra careful.

Posted by Observer at 09:11 PM | Comments (0)

October 01, 2008

Bluer

The map looks bluer and bluer every day. Even freakin' Texas is turning pink instead of deep red. I just hope we can keep up the momentum, but a month is forever until the election, so I'm on pins and needles.

Posted by Observer at 05:32 PM | Comments (0)

Monkey Mail

Last week, the normally reliable wingnut columnist Kathleen Parker said in her column that Sarah Palin is way out of her league here and should step down as the VP candidate. Henceforth, in the mind of the wingnut, Parker is now an ultra-liberal socialist, and her inbox confirms it.

Hey, Kathleen, these are the monkeys whose views you have been endorsing for years. Enjoy the wake-up call.

Posted by Observer at 03:44 PM | Comments (0)

Grass Roots Wingnuts?

This idea that the Republicans in Congress have bravely voted down the bailout bill, listening to their grass roots and opposing big government, is bullshit.

The only reason Republicans are voting "no" is that they know they need to turn this next election around, and their leadership is keeping them in lockstep in their strategy to do it: Let the Democrats pass a bailout. If Dems are stupid enough to pile in tax cuts and let CEO's continue to have big salaries and so forth, so much the better.

As soon as it passes, those people who are calling Congress at a 100-to-1 ratio against the bailout are going to be our footsoldiers and turn the whole election around. That's the strategy, and the entire Republican establishment, including talk radio and Fox News, is doing its part like a symphony.

If we're going to pass any bailout, it needs to be on 100% Democratic terms. It needs to offer defaults some relief at the discretion of bankruptcy judges, and if we're going to be dumping any money into banks, we the people get voting shares back, preferably preferred stock just like Warren Buffett got when he put $5 billion into (I think) Chase bank. In other words, we get ownership, so if things turn around, taxpayers profit. And the whole deal needs independent oversight, transparency and accountability.

If we don't get that, forget it. If the Wise Old Men of Washington who want a Sensible Compromise (which means doing whatever the Boy King wants ... see the Iraq War debate, the FISA debate, the bankruptcy bill, tax policy, etc.) don't like it, then it must not be all that important then.

If it needs to be dealt with at all, we'll deal with it after the election when we have more Democrats and have the time and leadership in the executive branch to get a sensible bill passed. If the market goes to hell in the meantime, there's a simple solution: vote the Republicans out. They're the ones who mostly started the mess and the ones cynically preventing a solution, and the majority of the voters correctly are assigning them the blame. Perfect. Let them eat shit.

We'll be better off in the long run if we solve this thing according to Democratic principles than some slapped-together crap a few weeks before a major election.

Posted by Observer at 10:47 AM | Comments (0)