Death of a President

There's been a lot of lip flapping lately that Obama should pick Hillary to be his VP.

This is an exceptionally bad idea. Why? The Clintons absolutely positively would kill him.

I think if they were offered (they being Bill and Hill) the VP slot they would at first say no, and then they would go home and mull over the phrase "one heartbeat away" and then in the morning they would accept.

It's like something out of a novel!

The Clintons are laying the groundwork right now to get people thinking about guns and Obama.

Remember, the image you see here comes not from Republicans, or from the NRA, but from the Clintons.


Do not sign his death warrant, do not let HRC be the VP.

(Just to be clear, this post is written with no ironic detachment.)

Are sour grapes bitter?

Hillary is now trying to turn her lack of popularity into a plus:

"This is such an important election," Clinton said, against a backdrop of US flags and fire trucks, as a crowd of about 400 people basked in spring sunshine.

"I didn't want to just show up and give one of these woop-de-doo speeches, just kind of get everybody whipped up ... I want everybody thinking about what we have to do."

She spoke after Obama packed 35,000 people into downtown Philadelphia on Friday night, firing off his trademark soaring rhetoric in a bid for a come-from-behind victory which would be a hammer blow for her campaign.

So, essentially what she's saying is that she's a better candidate exactly because so few people show up for her events and she can't speak in a way that inspires.

Look, I don't know much about much, but there's just no way that someone who wants a lot of people to vote one way can be happy about having a crowd that's 87 times larger show up for the other side.

Little Goebbels?

So, someone from Team Clinton said Obama's use of a picture of a middle class family was just as outrageous as the image of Nazis in Skokie, Ill.

Ummm. Middle class families - Nazis. Nice work. A key advisor on the all-important health care issue becomes as irrelevant as some lurker in the message boards of a site. He becomes the essence of Godwin's Law.

It brought to mind for me Colorado's own Ward Churchill, who managed to get himself fired from a tenured job because he called the 9/11 victims "Little Eichmanns."

Here comes a theory you won't read about anywhere else...

I think the reason that Ward Churchill created such a fuss, and got fired, is that he called those victims "Little Eichmanns" and not just Nazis. If he had done that, he would have fallen into Godwin's Law and been ignored.

What's the difference? Specificity.

In the excellent book Made to Stick, the authors point out that specificity is important to making ideas that "stick."

Calling someone a Nazi, as Godwin's Law illustrates, has become so generic as to become nearly meaningless. "Little Eichmanns" was sticky.

Of Course McCain is telling the truth

Am I the only one to notice this? I think McCain is lying about a few things. Hell, it's hard to believe much from any of these candidates. But I think McCain has a small verbal tic to let us know when he's doing it. He prefaces the lie with "Of course."

"I have never, ever supported a specific timetable" for withdrawing troops, Romney said. McCain's accusation on the eve of Tuesday's primary, he said, "sort of falls into the dirty tricks that I think Ronald Reagan would have found reprehensible." ... McCain stuck to his guns, saying, "of course he said he wanted a timetable" for a withdrawal.

Here's another:

But, look, I voted -- I voted on the tax cuts because I knew that unless we had spending control, we were going to face a disaster. We let spending get completely out of control. Of course, those tax cuts have to remain permanent.

Here's one that the Freudians out there will love, especially because he said this after his mother besmirched all those in his party:

I want to thank my wife, Cindy, the best campaigner in the family, and my daughters Meghan and Sidney, who are with us tonight, as well as my son, Doug, and our children who could not be here, and of course, my dear mother, Roberta McCain.

I suppose this is helpful. If you like all the stuff McCain says that is NOT prefaced by "of course" then you might be comfortable voting for him.

Lobbyists acting within the law?!?!? Stop the presses!

USA Today makes a big splash about how how lobbyists are spending money on legislators.

Despite a strict new ban on gifts to lawmakers, lobbyists routinely use these prime locations to legally wine and dine members of Congress while helping them to raise money, campaign records show. The lawmakers get a venue that is often free or low-cost, a short jaunt from the Capitol. The lobbyists get precious uninterrupted moments with lawmakers — the sort of money-fueled proximity the new lobbying law was designed to curtail. The public seldom learns what happens there because the law doesn't always require fundraising details to be reported.

I had to put the emphasis on the word legally. The paper had to throw that in there because what they are doing is legal. The emphasis of the story is that something pernicious is going on. It's an old journalism trick, when you want to make something look bad, you throw in a lot of "Real Estate records show that..."

I know it is fashionable to bash the lobbyists, especially in an election year, but Congress does make laws that have an impact on businesses, and so it's OK with me if all the hardware stores in the country pitch in a few bucks to hire someone to represent their views in Washington so that their business doesn't get creamed.

Of course, the people in congress know that the laws they pass have a real impact. After all, they wrote the "lobby reform" that allows the money to be spent in the way it now is, in spite of what they may have said about it during some press conference. I don't think they are quite as shocked as USA Today wants all of us to be that money is still being spent on lobbying.

Almost feel sorry for Hillary

I posted a couple weeks ago wondering why Hillary's voice was fine when Bill's was shot. Now, Hillary's is gone, too. I couldn't find a video to embed, but this one will make you reach for your lozenges.

Of course, I'm not sure if this is from lots of speeches, or just from yelling at her husband. Bill Clinton's anger is legend, and more stories are coming out about it all the time, including new information about how Bill tackled Dick Morris and would have punched him had Hillary not intervened.

Morris said that Hillary told him that he only yells at people he loves, so using that... umm.. logic she's yelling at him even now. Or not.

Best write-up of the weekend rout of Hillary, I thought, came from Slate.

My favorite bit:

"But after South Carolina we might see Bill Clinton suddenly dispatched to solve some new crisis in a country with no satellite trucks and no cell towers."

And that was written before the news that exactly that is going to happen. Well, maybe not the other country part, but clearly he has been put in the dog house.

It was also written before the Kennedy clan decided to pile on.

And is it just me, or does it look like Teddy's had some work done?

Don't call him crazy

The proper term for Doug Bruce is "mentally ill." To call him "crazy" is insensitive to people who suffer from his condition.

For readers not in Colorado, Doug Bruce is a guy who is hated by the Republicans, and loved by Democrats. He is a Republican, by the way, and Democrats love him because he is who he is.

Today, after demanding a swearing-in that had never been demanded before, Bruce kicked a photographer. Then he demanded an apology from the photographer for taking pictures.

Now, before you go saying, "That guy's crazy" consider this description:

Diagnostic criteria for 301.81 Narcissistic Personality Disorder
(cautionary statement)

  • A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

  • has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)

  • is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

  • believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)

  • requires excessive admiration

  • has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations

  • is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends

  • lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others

  • is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her

  • shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
  • That's from the DSM description of a Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

    Unfortunately, there's not a lot of good treatment, so we may just be stuck with this sideshow for the next ten years unless the people of Colorado Springs will somehow find a way to muzzle this nut job.


    One morning with my morning newspaper

    That papers are dying is one of those facts that gets lamented on endlessly here on the Interwebs. I won't go into all that here, except to say that I'm doing my part to keep the printed paper alive. I read the Rocky Mountain News every morning, typically with my 4-year-old son in my lap, trying to keep the tradition alive.

    Today was great, because there was a story about a probe nearing Mercury. Space is very big with the 4-year-olds.

    Today's Rocky was also terrific for some ground-breaking layout. For 102 years, more or less, the schedule for the National Western Stock Show has been printed in an unintelligible mass of type. Tradition is everything with the Stock Show. The Rocky broke that up by doing a great spread with one column for each day, and events broken up by Horse Events, Rodeos, etc. It was great.

    But then in the same section, just below the helpful rundown of all the Children's events, were two ads for "Topless Bullriding" and some other "adult" event. I had to turn the page fast -- 4-year-olds are fast with the questions.

    I know that newspaper staffs have been cut to the bone marrow, but doesn't anyone check to see if ads are around appropriate editorial content anymore?

    One other short item that can't be overlooked:

    John Enslin, a terrific guy and great reporter and baseball fan, wrote a story about the opening of the new Obama office in Colorado. Gary Hart spoke. Here's an excerpt:

    But what clinched his support, Hart said, was when a supporter of an Obama opponent said they "we're going to throw the kitchen sink at him."

    "Everybody in this room is probably too young to remember that I ran for president," he said, drawing applause. "I had a breakthrough in New Hampshire and then they threw the kitchen sink at me."

    Ummm. As I recall, Gary Hart challenged reporters to investigate him after persistent questions of his womanizing in DC, often with pal Warren Beatty. (See the politics section of this wikipedia page, which has the quote about how Warren wanted Gary's life, and Gary wanted Warren's.)

    Hart told reporters that they would be bored.

    Hard to say if they were bored. Watching a certain kind of film that will trip up spam sensors is boring, too. But nobody was throwing any kitchen sinks, unless you classify your own hypocrisy as a sink, kitchen or otherwise.

    I'm starting to sound like an old prude, ranting about adult ads next to kids listings, and an aging statesman trying to whitewash his own sordid history. You'll have to decide for yourself it's it prudishness or enlightened commentary incorporating journalism analysis and catching the political hypocrites.

    Yeah... That's it. The second one.

    His voice is shot, and why?

    We're getting to the point in the campaign where candidates are losing their voice.

    I understand that Bill Clinton is not a candidate, but it's interesting that his voice is shot,

    and Hillary sounds just fine. (This is the only video I could find from Jan. 7, 2008.)

    Also, the finger that was kept under his thumb for most of his presidency is now wagging in full glory.

    As for the content of what Bill is saying, I have to say that I actually find it kind of sweet from one narrow point of view: He really thinks that all of the investigations that lead to him being impeached and all the other damage he faced pale in comparison to the "blistering" attacks he and his wife are getting from another Democrat, even though the evidence of those attacks is pretty thin. What's cute is that it's about his wife, so the clear vision he has about politics, and even about himself, gets thrown out the window.

    I remember reading in a book by James Carville that Bill Clinton has always had that blinder. Consultants would show him the clear proof that the audience reaction to Hillary would tank moments after she took the stage from him. He would ignore it, saying that she just had her hair done in a bad style, or something.

    Politics and everything else aside, I have to say that I find that kind of sweet.

    UPDATE: A friend chided me that showing that attack by Bill Clinton is unfair if I don't also include the response from Obama, which seems rather complete to me. I'm not commenting on the content, but I think it is right to have both sides, so now you have that link.

    Putting in to Iraq

    I got to see some snippets of the debates last night in New Hampshire. The Republicans (other than Ron Paul) all seemed to talk about Iraq in terms of how to be successful there in a military sense, and why pulling out was a bad idea. The Democrats clearly tried to out-withdraw each other, one saying the troops should come home, the next saying that the troops should come home and there should be no permanent base there, etc.

    Am I the only guy who thinks we need to be more involved in Iraq?

    Look, we still have a big base in Germany. It's been a good thing over the last 50 years that we had a base there. It's also a good thing that we were involved with the European economy, and that our culture and our lives are so intertwined.

    We have, in this country, a lot of people who are from Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, etc. While lots of people in this country could tell you the name of their favorite place for coffee in Florence, they couldn't name the capital of most of the countries in the Mid-East.

    In the debate, and in general, the Republicans have been more willing to talk about the forces that were behind the 9/11 attacks and the continuing threat from Islamist Jihadists. The solution they offer, I fear, stops short of what's needed.

    We set up bases in Germany and Japan after WWII because we wanted to stop fascism where it started, but we didn't stop with the bases. We sent cultural, diplomatic, economic and other types of workers public and private. We taught baseball to the Japanese. We learned to love German Engineering.

    That's what we need in Iraq. We need a big military base, and we also need Peace Corps volunteers, and we need to teach them baseball, and we need universities with exchange programs there. The list goes on and on, but the last thing we need is to try to pull everything out.

    Literally Freezing to Death

    I literally yelp for joy when I discover a great blog.

    This one just tracks abuse of the word "literally" and has a handful of great links to other single-issue grammar blogs.

    The item above was about the misuse of the word by a formerly leading candidate for president, though I don't think many voters turned away from her because of that. On the other hand, she did sound a bit like an unpleasant sixth-grade teacher.

    Though her campaign has worked assiduously to make her appear warmer and more likable, she sounded a bit scolding at times.

    "What is most important now," she said, "is that as we go on with this contest that we keep focused on the two big issues; that we answer -- correctly -- the questions that each of us has posed: How will we win in November 2008 by nominating a candidate who will be able to go the distance, and who will be the best president on Day One? I am ready for that contest."

    Anyway, I hope that whomever you support for president you will join me in hoping that none of the candidates' acolytes actually does freeze to death, literally or otherwise.

    Google like the National Enquirer?


    I'm guessing I'm the only guy weird enough to make this connection between these two big stories in the news: Google starting a wikipedia competitor and supermarket tabloid claims that John Edwards knocked up a woman (not his wife.)

    The connection is money.

    The big difference between Google's new thing called "knol" and wikipedia is money, Google will allow the authors of knol pages to share in some of the ad money that comes in to that page. The basic theory is the same as if you run a site that gets lots of clicks on ads, i.e.: if you do something that creates value, you should share in that value. It makes sense. In general wikipedia is terrific, but there are some weird and rotten bits that get in there all the time.

    Because nobody's making any money at helping keep the content on wikipedia good, it relies on volunteers to do a good job maintaining it. What is the motivation of people to get information out there when they won't be paid? I'm sure there are lots of answers, but it's a valid question.


    I once saw the editor of the National Enquirer speak on a panel. Everybody else on the panel criticized the idea of "checkbook" journalism, saying it corrupted the whole august tradition of journalism. This editor very responded by saying, essentially, "The thing about paying for information is that I know exactly what the motivation is of the people who give me information; they want money. When someone tells me some information that has value in the marketplace, and they want to give it to me and not take money, well, then I really question what their motives are."

    I'm not saying Edwards did get that blond knocked up. (I'm not linking to that story. Ewww. But the graphic here really did come from the NE site.) And I'm not saying checkbook journalism is better than the Wall Street Journal or whatever, but I do know that the National Enquirer has to live under the same libel and slander laws as all the other papers.

    I'm also not exactly equating Knol to the National Enquirer, but I have to say that I will feel better knowing exactly why someone wrote a Knol page (money) rather than trying to guess why someone might have written a wikipedia page.

    OK, two posts in a row about Google, one comparing Google to Stalin, the other to the National Enquirer. The funny thing is, I like Google.

    Bridge to the 21st Century?

    Is Barack Obama the future?

    Presidential elections are about so much more than just a candidate's position on education, or whatever. The virulent hatred of President Bush, I think, is related more to his inability to speak forcefully, or even coherently. It's nice that he can tease himself about people misunderestimating him, but it's not enough.

    So, whom should be next? Andrew Sullivan has made an interesting case for Barack Obama. Now, Sullivan is British and gay, NTTIAWWT. I mention these things only because there are a few lines in Sullivan's piece where I get the feeling that he would just like watching Barack on the "tele" for the next eight years.

    "What does he offer? First and foremost: his face."

    But Sullivan's main thesis is that all the other candidates, but especially Hillary, are essentially still stuck in the Baby Boomer mentality. He blames the vitriol we see from Ann Coulter to Michael Moore, the battles over abortion, health care and the rest squarely on the Baby Boomers.

    Barack is the one guy, under this theory, that can just move past that, internationally and domestically.

    It's an interesting theory, and the piece is well worth reading, but I think perhaps he overstates the case a bit and offer just one bit of evidence why: Barack is against funding space exploration, and says he wants to spend the money on education.

    That just sounds like the old-school sort of Baby Boomer debate to me.

    This is probably just my bias. I have a son who wants to be an astronaut. But spending time on NASA's page, and at the museum, and even playing around with rockets around the house, I've come to realized that space exploration is about education.

    The next president will have a choice to give more money to the education industry, and/or give more money to the explorers. Learning about space is educating all of humanity about ourselves, and our place in the universe.

    So, c'mon, Barack. There's only one true final frontier. Education is important, but it's time to start finding out some new stuff to teach.

    I have nothing bad to say...

    Ahhh. Bill Clinton. Like moths to the flame we are all drawn to him.

    I couldn't help myself from reading about his chat with Charlie Rose. In it he says Barack lacks experience compared to his wife. "It's not even close." He says that even though Barack is about the age Clinton was when he ran without ever serving in Washington, Barack would only be a symbol for change, not someone who would really change things.

    Bill Clinton also said that Barack hasn't been fully "vetted."

    (Hillary Clinton fired a volunteer for saying negative things about Barack, but I doubt Bill will get the hook because they can just redefine "negative.")

    So, Barack is unexperienced, only a symbolic leader, and hasn't been fully investigated, says Bill Clinton, but then he says that he likes Barack, and all the other candidates. "I like all these people. I have nothing bad to say about him or anyone else."

    I hope he never has anything bad to say about me!