Friday, August 29, 2008

First Impression

Wow, this woman is good.  She sounds fresh and doesn't come across as fake.  Her folksy talk is actually folksy, not a bullshit put on like it is with Hillary.

The speech was brilliant.  She digs at Obama by saying she never planned to run for this office.  She then lists her actual achievements, which is something Obama never does because he can't.  She hits what will surely be the major themes of the GE for McCain and she can point to things she has actually done.

She will absolutely destroy Biden.

Some Thoughts on Palin

1) Obama opened the door to this choice by going with Biden.  Once McCain knew that Obama had gone with a safe Washington insider over Hillary, he knew he had the opportunity to take the risk on Palin.
2) Unlike Obama's choice of Biden, McCain's choice of Palin doesn't point out any weakness that McCain needs to shore up.  Sure, there is the age issue, but that pales in comparison to "I've got absolutely no foreign policy experience, so I need to get somebody who covers me."
3) There's been a lot of talk about taxes in this campaign, but the real problem is spending.  The number one issue for me is the amount of ludicrous spending increases under Bush.  McCain has long been an opponent, even at the cost of popularity with colleagues in the Senate, of out of control spending.  Palin has the same missionary zeal about cutting pork.  She's the female John Kasich!  Neither Obama or  Biden have anything to point to on this issue.  McCain has his record and Palin has hers.  This is a major advantage and one they should hammer home for the next two months.  Not only is it good sense, it will appeal to the party base who have been appalled at the Republican pigfest in Congress.
4) Biden will have to tread lightly in the debates.  He's such an unbelievable pompous blowhard that he will almost certainly fall into the trap of looking like he is being a jerk to a woman.  That being said, I am concerned that Palin could be weak in the debates.  Then again, there is only one VP debate and it is not as well watched as the three Presidential debates.
5) This may not prove anything, but take a moment to compare and contrast the running of the VP rollout for Obama and McCain.  Obama put on that silly striptease for weeks on end.  Then the name just leaked out anyway on the Friday before the announcement.  The famous text message plan was a disaster - most people got theirs in the middle of the night after Biden's name had already leaked anyway.  And ultimately, the pick was Biden, a boring white guy who has been a Washington insider since the Nixon Administration.
By contrast, McCain kept a tight lid on the choice, prevented it from leaking during Obama's speech to avoid looking like an asshole and managed to throw everybody off completely so that Palin, who is an exciting choice anyway, was a complete surprise.  The Democrats don't even have her name on their "The Next Cheney" website (hat-tip - Jim Geraghty).  That's a pretty phenomenal job of blind-siding the opposition.  Does this prove anything?  Maybe, maybe not.  The contrast is pretty stark though.

Ever since Obama's Europe trip, the McCain campaign has been run brilliantly.  They took Obama's greatest strength, his celebrity, and hung it around his neck like an albatross.  They hammered him relentlessly about his lack of experience.  Obama took the bait and changed his game from the soaring speeches to the pedestrian effort from last night.  He got so concerned that he was exposed on experience that he chose Biden over Hillary, pissing off a great many and making all of us wonder just how smart he could be.  JFK and Reagan had the good sense to name their biggest opponents as their VPs and it worked.  It's the winning strategy.  Obama whiffed on that.

Palin is still an unknown quantity.  She could turn out to be a superstar or she could turn into a Dan Quayle gaffe-o-matic.  For now, though, McCain has just crushed Obama.


The Misanthrope really can't stand to watch political speeches.  There's just something about them, the silly language, the ludicrous exaggerations and oversimplifications, that just drives him crazy.  This goes for both sides of the aisle.  I can't stand watching either side give political speeches.

Knowing that I could certainly never stomach the annoying earnestness of Obama's speech in real time, I decided to read the text.  Truth is, it's not that interesting a speech.  I was pretty surprised at how much of it could have been said by any Democratic nominee for the last 20 years.

Obama certainly came out swinging against Bush.   Based on what I read, I am confident that Bush will drop out of the race  almost immediately.

As for McCain, it's hard to tell if Obama's attacks came off as strong or angry from reading the text.

But one thing really stood out for me.  When Obama says that he is ready to have the debate about whether or not he is ready to be President "any time," it struck me as very odd.  Obviously it's a little chest-puffing to make him look strong, but it seems to me that the final night of your nominating convention in front of a large crowd and uninterrupted national television coverage is probably the time to lay out your case for why you are ready.  The whole campaign is a big debate and Obama just had a huge chance to stage his rebuttal.  Instead, he simply said, "Aw, dude, this case for why I am ready is SOO sweet and you are going to be blown away when we debate it...someday."

The election is less than 70 days away, Obama.  The debate is already happening.

Also, is it just me or was telling McCain that you are ready to debate any time a bit of a silly move given that you turned down constant offers from McCain for town hall-style debates all summer?

Then again, the magic is in the image with these things, so I wonder how people thought it played on TV.  Did he look strong or angry?  Did he sound confident or shrill?  The speech is so boring on paper, it could really go either way.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Great Moments from Past Acceptances

I think we can all agree that John Kerry pretty much lost the election when he allowed "Dreams" by Van Hagar to be the song following his acceptance speech.  All the balloons in the world can't fix that.

If Obama accepts and then walks off to the intro to "Mean Streets" followed by "I'm the One,"  he wins in a landslide.

This Stuff Just Writes Itself

Obama to deliver acceptance speech in front of a faux Greek temple set?  He will step on a podium that will elevate him to where he is speaking?

Are the Dems going to just start sending the scripts of the ads over to the McCain campaign?  It would save a lot of effort.

UPDATE:  Advance video of the acceptance speech here.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Bad Pick

I thought about writing a long post about the poor judgment in going with Biden, but Hell must have frozen over because Kos beat me to it and wrote exactly what I would have written.  (This may be the last time in my life I link to the looney bin over at DailyKos.)

I totally agree with him.  The Biden pick is a story that will be written with the same lead over and over and over: "In an effort to shore up his gaps on experience and foreign policy, Barack Obama chose Senator Joe Biden of Delaware..."

All That Buildup for...BIDEN???

Seriously, that was possibly the silliest VP announcement watch in Presidential history.  All the hype would have been worth it if Obama had chosen somebody outside the box, somebody who was a real surprise.  But Biden?

Obama has chosen a guy who is only six years younger than McCain, so forget attacks on McCain's senior citizenship.   A guy who last year said that he didn't think Obama was ready and the Presidency is not a position for learning on the job.  A guy who has launched numerous Presidential bids that have gone nowhere.  A guy who ranks sixth in Senate seniority and has been in Washington for 35 years, so forget the "we need to change the way things work in Washington" angle.  A guy who is a bit of an egotistical gasbag and has a long record of bizarre off-the-cuff comments.  I mean, the Republican ads just write themselves.  Less than 12 hours after the announcement, McCain puts up an absolutely devastating ad in a campaign that is almost entirely about whether Obama is prepared to be President.

I had been impressed with Obama's campaign in the primaries, but it seems like the whole thing is running off the rails lately.  They have burned a record amount of money to achieve a tie in a year when Democrats are massively favored.  They have lost control of the message and seem off-balance follwing McCain's rather tame ads.  And they choose the most uninspiring VP candidate imaginable.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Is There a Point to This?

What is the point of all this delaying and delaying and winking over the Obama VP pick?  It was cute for a while, but it's becoming ridiculously childish.  Just make the damned announcement already.  I've never seen such an over-the-top journalistic circle-jerk over a VP selection.

When this most precious of secrets is finally revealed to the world we've still got 70+ days to think about it and get to know the pick.

So, enough already.

(FWIW, I don't think the story about the Obama-Bayh bumper stickers necessarily means anything.  In the past, campaigns have printed up a lot of phony posters and other stuff to throw people off the scent.  It costs very little.  Now, if you told me they were painting the campaign plane...)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

It Went a Bit Better Than This

The Microdot show was a low-key affair and seemed to go off well.

It could have been much worse.

Monday, August 11, 2008

So Worth It

The Misanthrope was up until midnight last night despite having an early start this morning.  The cause was the 4 x 100m Men's Freestyle race in Beijing.  Having tried to get my fat little body to move faster through the water for triathlons, I have a real appreciation of just how incredible world-class swimmers really are.  And I like the excitement of watching Phelps go for eight gold medals.  Even though I like rooting for the underdog, I also enjoy watching real greatness at the top of its game.  This is why I want Tiger Woods to win every tournament he enters.

At any rate, the race turned into what might have been the most exciting and shocking relay in Olympic history.  Forget the trash talking from the French.  Forget the fact that the world record was smashed by five of the teams in the pool in one race - 24 hours after it had just been broken by the USA in the prelims.  Forget that Phelps has 2 gold medals down, probably his two toughest outside of the 100m butterfly, on his road to a record 8.

The story of the race was the final leg by Jason Lezak, the US captain.  I still cannot believe what I saw.  He overtook Alain Bernard, who led by a full body length with only about 30 meters to go and won the race by swimming the fastest 100m split ever recorded.  If it were an individual event, he would have the world record for the 100m with that swim by over a full second.

It's hard to really conceive how incredible his feat was.  Under any normal circumstances, Bernard's lead with so little pool left would have been totally insurmountable.  I can't even conceive how Lezak made himself a full body length faster over 30M than the world record holder in the 100M.  It shouldn't be possible, but it was.  The headlines have all been about Phelps and his 2nd gold, but the real man of the hour was Lezak.  I am in awe.

If you haven't seen it, go to the NBC website and watch it.  It was truly one of the greatest US Olympic moments.


Friday, August 08, 2008

Please God

Let this be Bob Costas' last Olympics.  The man is a disgrace.  His patronizing comments about the athletes from smaller countries during the opening ceremonies are embarrassing as hell for NBC and America.  

The man is an idiot. 

Please, fire him, NBC.

Well, duh.

Edwards admits he had the affair.  This doesn't really amount to much because he has been politically dead for a while now and I doubt McCain is going to go after him given McCain's less than savory history with his first wife/current wife.

You Have Got to Be Kidding

The Obama Salute?

Thursday, August 07, 2008

My God, That's One Tough Review

I was Googling the terms "German Heidegger ska band song" when I stumbled upon a remarkable piece of rock criticism.

If the review of your record starts of with a one paragraph reference to Hannah Arendt's famous observation about the banality of evil, you are in for a bad review.

Of course, the outrageous pretentiousness and faux intellectualism of the reviewer makes me want to hit him in the head with a cricket bat and stab the little fucker in the heart with a salad fork.

Damned Repuglicans...Wait...

You know, they are going to try to make you scared of me.  They are going to say he isn't like us, he doesn't go to our churches.

You stay classy, Tennessee Democrats.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

This is cool

A researcher at MIT has discovered a way to store power from solar cells efficiently.