Friday, September 26, 2008

Cancel the Debates?

This is priceless.

McCain Postpones the Debates from Tremendosaur on Vimeo.

How could I say more than this? Except to urge you to chase the video down at vimeo itself, to see it in all its HD loveliness.

We NEED a damaged President

Yes, we truly need another four years of general panic and fear-based decision-making, because it's so clear how much good that has done for everyone who still has a job. Look at how strong out reputation is among the nations of the world! Look at how strong our dollar is in worldwide currency markets!

I swore I would keep my service record out of this election cycle, but, following the example of our Great Statesman of Straight Talk, I see now that commitments and past convictions are not nearly as important as doing everything possible to see that John McCain gets a chance to be our Final Finalist in the Panoply of P!$$-Poor Presidents.

I seriously doubt I will live through the next president's term, whether that president is Obama (my true preference, should it be unclear to the irony-impaired) or McCain, whose campaign I've decided to try on for size here, since I'm dead anyway and won't have to live with the consequences. At least I hope that's the case, but then I've been unlucky before. Still, a lot of things would need to change very fast and very dramatically in this country to ensure I would make it to 2012.

Some background first. I served in the U.S. Army on active duty from May of 1980 through May 1984, and then for 2 years of inactive reserve before getting an honorable discharge, including a Good Conduct medal and some other bolo badges in 1986. It is very likely that the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis that is part of why I doubt I have 4 more years to live, came in large part from that period of service. But unlike McCain, I'm not claiming that as a qualification for high office. Heck, I'm too depressed to even go through the pointless humiliation of trying to get the Veteran's Administration to reject my claim for disability payments. And now I understand that this was probably my personal failing all along, not considering my greatest personal liability as my greatest selling point for the Presidency. I too should have decided that my ex-spouse was too ugly and damaged and that I needed to trade up for someone with better hair, more money and no need for a back brace.

I no longer have access to meaningful health care, though that may not be a bad thing, since I really don't relish living through the aftermath or the cleanup period made necessary by the past eight years of executive mismanagement and outright theft of the American Dream, or the principles that it -- however imperfectly -- was once based on.

What I have to wonder is this:

Why is a jerk-off fighter jock, who never got along with his fellow service members, who has never been respected or carried much weight at his present day-job as U.S. Senator -- why is this sort of record considered a qualification for the Presidency? Why is anyone -- press or public citizen -- taking this jerk seriously? Maybe that's the true mystery behind McCain's enigmatic smile? Or perhaps the world ended years ago and we're all actually in Hell.

That's it! The Rapture came, I was Taken, and this is all just a bad dream. Thank you, Jeezus!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Why Any Bailout At All?

Here is one seemingly simple question to ask yourself about the looming promise of a bailout for those who created the current financial crisis.

Q: How would any bailout proposal actually help Main Street?

The sole credible answer I'm hearing to this one is that a bailout would somehow create liquidity that is threatening to dry up at the moment. Apparently, though, the current proposals are mainly aimed at having the Treasury buy up derivative contracts for which no one in the broader market seems to have the guts to even guess at a price. Or at least not a price that they're personally willing to risk actual money to buy. Here's a thought... perhaps this is because these contracts have no intrinsic value?

Let's look at what derivative contracts actually are:

Once upon a time, you could buy debt in a fairly simple form. It was called a bond, most of the time. The bond consisted of many things, mostly principal and interest, but its price was also a reflection of the market's collective guesses about how likely it was that the debtor would pay back both the capital borrowed, and the interest agreed upon.

The brilliant idea of derivatives was to treat this debt a little big like a pig carcass, only Wall Street boys being the creative sorts they've become in recent decades, they got the big idea of splitting up such obligations into finer and finer sub-divisions.

Carrying on with the pig metaphor, they figured, okay, we can sell the pig meat (the principle) as one derivative contract, and the extras (bone, fat, hooves, head and whatever is left) as a different derivative contract. Maybe we can even get more creative and sell each of the separate extras as a different derivative -- someone will be sure to buy them, right?

And if this bailout goes through, they will have been proven right, because the American Treasury, by which I mean mainly the American taxpayer, will have bought the rotting pig bones, hooves, exhaled pigsbreath and whatever else these imaginative titans managed to call a "product."

The question stands, why on earth would we do this?

Going back to the question I asked first off, how does buying a worthless asset create liquidity?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Straight Talk About Climate Change

Melting Lands from Hemmings House Pictures on Vimeo.

If you don't like Johnny Cash, or hate remixes, here's a more sentimental piece focusing on the human costs of ignoring global warming and pretending that climate change is a myth. Enough said.

Not sure whether I linked to this before, but there's an excellent essay on DailyKos about the impacts of Palin's pet project, the TransCanadian pipeline, and why it's not a good solution to our energy problems.

Here's some fresh air

I'm loving this guy.

I found this thanks to a link in Jeffrey Feldman's Daily Kos Diary, which, if you're sick to death of seeing/hearing Sarah Palin stories, is a very good piece to read.

Move along, nothing to see.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Glacialmelt Reggae - the new big chill

Alaska Prays to Become Arabia (Cry Cry Cry) (Glacialmelt Reggae Remix)

This is now a second rough entry in the Johnny Cash remix thing, building off a little from the more subtle invention of Alaskan Reggae in that less "on the nose" entry.

Here, Johnny Cash counterpoints with "Cry Cry Cry" as Sarah Palin states her faith and exhorts prayer to build her favorite pipeline, sell Alaska and rid the world of community organizers once and for all. Remapped to a defective reggae beat. Not enough skank (guitar) I realize now. Here's the rough cut of the music video. VH1 (or MTV), I'm waiting to hear from you.

Alaska Prays to Become Arabia (Cry Cry Cry) from Toomb Paine on Vimeo.

This mix is a refinement of several earlier versions. Palin vocals have been rebalanced somewhat, and some of the repeats have been thinned out to be a little less annoying. Most of the samples of Palin that were not from the RNC come from the full speech from which the following video is an excerpt:

This may be my final revision on this particular remix. That doesn't rule out adding more mixes that are derivative of this basic track, however.

I was listening to a radio interview with Tom Friedman as I was making the final adjustments to the video for this remix. Here's a Tom Browkaw interview where he likens the "Drill Baby, Drill!" chant at the RNC to a convention of executives chanting "IBM Selectric Baby, IBM Selectric" at the dawn of the microcomputer revolution. For investors, though, this brings up the question -- just where is the Microsoft or Apple of alternative energy production? Enjoy the movie.

One Quick Reminder Before I Sleep

It seems that our soldiers abroad are no more thrilled about the "winning surge" than most of the rest of us. Soldiers are donating hard-earned pay to Obama at a 6:1 ratio.

And for those who might be unconvinced or skeptical about what people mean when they say Sarah Palin is a "red meat" Republican, here's another video.

I especially cringed at the images of brave hunters shooting wolves from airplanes. I guess there's a risk they could fall out, or shoot the propeller off the plane? That makes it "sporting," right?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Toomb Paine Beats the Net

Just started, a place where you can listen to or download insane remixes and other compositions of Toomb Paine, Patriot in a despicable age.

The page is on AcidPlanet. You can also find the link over there in the righthand margin along with other fun stuff.

World Beaten-down Folk-Funk for the 21st Century. Aren't you glad you're alive in this interesting age?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The List Just Keeps Getting Longer

Small wonder McCain would like to focus on the non-issue of Sarah Palin's personal life or that of her children. Better that than look closely at the long list of liberties she's alleged to have taken with public resources in order to advance her own career as a spectacularly ill-prepared, but personally charming government official.

The list comes from the Daily Kos. I hope to add other, less partisan sources as the days go on and we find out more, hopefully more than McCain himself knew, when he made this impulsive decision.

Analysis may follow.

Does this mean I need to believe in God?

This caps it. The mean-spiritedness of the wacked-out right has reached new lows.

Then, of course, there's the remix. Maybe not as great as the dance hit that Bill-O made possible, but pretty cute anyway.

It seems God does listen to the prayers of the mean-spirited and arrogant after all.

"Bounce" folklore

NOTE from 9 Sept. -- apparently this post may have been wishful thinking on my part. A lot of the same factors that provoke strong feelings of disapproval for me are, of course, selling points to a large fraction of the U.S. electorate. Or at least that might be the lesson to draw from the latest polling data. At the same time, legendary "bounces" have a way of succumbing to gravity as people consider the details, especially when a candidate is as unknown to all but the right-wing fringe of that electorate. In the spirit of showing that I'm as human and fallible as Candidate Palin, I'm leaving this bit of hubris in place. Consider it a bow to my Puritan ancestors or something of that sort.

It seemed clear to me that there was none of the widely touted "bounce" for either candidate in the aftermath of either convention, so I did some looking.

Seems there hasn't been a "bounce" in many years, at least since party conventions learned to turn themselves into content-free, no news zones, something usually blamed on the '68 Democratic convention in Daley's Chicago, and the damage it was said to have done to the Democrats at that time, in a year when Nixon was already a widely reviled figure to many, at least many who would have (or did) vote Democrat.

It also led me to track down what many now tout as the best alternative to opinion polling as a predictor of the November result. There's more on market-based prediction in this MSNBC piece from Friday.

Here is the price history from the Iowa Electronic Markets for this election.

Check out the Iowa Electronic Markets site for more details and more stats.

If this one gets stolen you know the fix is in and the democratic process is no longer at work in the U.S.

Stop Asking Questions

I agree that the media should focus not on Palin's personal life but on her vast record of public service. Doing that alone should sink her (and McCain) faster than the Titanic. What I don't understand is how on the one hand McCain can ask the media to leave her alone on these sideshow personal embarrassments and signs of household and home-front failures, but on the other hand keep the woman under virtual house arrest from now until the debate, as seems to be the current strategy.

MSNBC put out this story a few days ago.

And last, here's Bill Maher's take on the Palin candidacy. Catch this while you can... I expect vimeo may remove it since it violates their TOS. If so, buzz me and I'll try to find another linkable version.

Real Time - Sarah Palin from brian on Vimeo.

Here's the YouTube backup.

PUMA Petulance

Can these individuals really be Democrats? Hint: Search "PUMA" on YouTube (or most anywhere else for that matter -- their websites are a real hoot). After you recover your balance and your appetite, ask yourself just how likely it is that more than a tiny fraction of these people are what they claim to be.

At least a few members of the media have noticed how absurd these shills are, and how threadbare are their stated positions. Seems to me those signing up to play the traditional Republican games of distraction from a corrupt and destructive platform are even more transparent than usual?

Then again, I have a habit of voting for lost causes. Something tells me, though, this time at least will be different.

Friday, September 5, 2008

More on community organizing

Hope this works. When I paged through to YouTube the video looked like it might have been nuked.

Obama responds on community organizing

I'm very happy now. Before the Republican convention and the unveiling of their assault momma, Sarah Palin, electoral vote predictions narrowly favored Obama. Lastest look shows this:

301 to 224. That's some post-convention "bounce" for the blingtard right.

And here's Obama yesterday, gently confused about the "significance" of one of Palin's biggest applause lines. The man knows how to deal with medium cool.

It's still too early to declare the election over, but one can hope.

Don't Worry About the Government

We'll tell you all you need to know about our candidates. No need for messy middlemen of the press.

This story is simply astounding. That's right, the Republican Party actually wants you to believe that their Vice Presidential candidate deserves the sort of special protection that will keep her out of uncontrolled speaking engagements and serious Q&A sessions from now until November. I guess this is why candidates typically put off announcing a running mate for as long as they can?

Is it merely coincidence, I wonder, that McCain spokesmodel, Nicole Wallace, shares names with a fictional character described as follows?

"A sociopathic con artist, thief, and serial killer, Wallace has 20 known murders to her name by the Season 7 episode, "Frame". She has the chameleon-like ability to reinvent herself after each crime, going from her refined, intellectual lifestyle as a university professor to that of a charming wife of a wealthy man, then to a shacking up in a cheap apartment with a female lover, and later as a surrogate wife and mother to a broken family." (Wikipedia's summary of Nicole Wallace's career -- not the Republican spokesmodel... or IS she?)

Seriously, though, Wallace's comments in this clip seem to give the last bit of "proof" I needed to conclude that Republican's are floating all the various pregnancy and adultery stories mainly as a way to distract attention from Palin's lack of qualifications, and take away attention from her fringe beliefs, her extra-legal approach so far, as demonstrated by her acts as an executive officer -- the shit-canning of a state police official who would not rubber-stamp her efforts to go vindictive on her ex-brother-in-law's case, and other shady deals sure to come to light from now until November (or for the next 4 years in the unlikely event this ticket manages to take the White House).

More background on the real-life Nicole Wallace -- her slug line in this interview is "McCain Senior Adviser Nicolle Wallace, a former CBS News analyst and communications director to President Bush".

One wonders given her spin mistress act in the video up top, was Wallace a strategist in suggesting how to use Palin's personal embarrassments and other irrelevant facts and rumors as tactical weapon in delaying and deflecting most substantive issues to the sidebars where the Republican's hope that anyone voting on likeability and other irrelevancies would scarcely care to venture?

Shockingly Bad Speech

Here's an evaluation of the John McCain convention speech from Jeffery Toobin, on CNN.

Jeffery Toobin is a CNN legal analyst, writer for The New Yorker and former federal prosecutor.

Raising (Mc)Cain

I'm surely not the only person to think, while hearing McCain's convention acceptance speech that all this talk about "stand up and fight" stood in stark contrast to the facts of McCain's wartime service.

I feel sympathy for the man's pain, but let's face it. His claim to fame is based in large part on being a prisoner.

And it seemed to me that, during this speech he again looked like a prisoner.

Check out this excerpt on the BBC site to see whether you agree or disagree.

This time though, he appears to be the prisoner of the right wing fringe elements that have largely taken control of the Republican party, especially in these "last days" when moderate Republicans seem to be largely unenthusiastic about his candidacy.

I suppose this was inevitable, given how split Republican kingmakers were about his candidacy in the first place.

For some other perspectives please follow the links to one of my favorite Kos entries of the moment.

Thoughts on Vice

Vice Presidents, that is.

The sad truth that political pollsters and campaign managers know all too well, is that the average voter doesn't have time to sort out facts, positions or the other "boring" details that may most predict what an elected official does once elected.

Right now the focus of political junkies seems to be on Sarah Palin's lack of qualifications, and next on her not-too-hard to decipher political positions. Again the political junkies who support Democrats (many of them while trying to hold down lunch as they elect the lesser of two evils) seem to be forgetting the recent history of vice presidential nominees. Perhaps this is because Cheney, the current schmo, is an exception that seems to prove the rule.

What's worse that an empty suit or vacant (or would that be vacuous?) tailored suitdress as V.P.? Maybe it's a Vice President who is the Acting President.

Besides Cheney, what do we have by way of former V.P.s? Well, there is Daddy Bush, but again, he was something of an exception. Then we have Agnew, and Quayle. Each of them long-running punchlines that reassured the general public that the person in the office of vice president really didn't mean that much, all things considered.

Palin is very much cut in the cloth of the "punchline" Vice President. The problem being that with both Nixon and Bush Daddy, there was relatively little concern that the rigors of office would kill or incapacitate either candidate.

In the case of Nixon, I think many of us who remember him found it hard to imagine he would give up the post even if pronounced dead.