- Lotsa politicians were out at the Fair yesterday. The family and I arrived around 11:30 and we came in through the south gate after riding the Trinity Lutheran shuttle bus. As we walked up Underwood Street, we came across the Al Franken booth. We noticed a smattering of people around the booth, about the same number as were queued up for the Deep Fried Candy Bars over on Carnes. I took a second look and saw that Al was there, standing among a group of maybe 15-20 people. I thought about going over and doing a Swiftee on him, but decided to be polite and kept walking. I really did want to ask him how Evan Montvel-Cohen is doing these days, though. Somebody besides Swiftee should. Like Pat Kessler, to name one example.
- Later on I happened upon the forlorn SENATOR DEAN BARKLEY booth (that's what it says). Dean was there, but no one was talking to him. Again there was a small nest of people crowding around and I took a second look. And there he was: Jesse Ventura was in the house. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Jesse looked like crap. He looked tired, haggard and disheveled, with long graying hair poking out from underneath a cap at odd angles. When you see Jesse in person, it's pretty clear why he didn't get into the race himself. There's a certain amount of personal hygiene involved in being a Senate candidate and it appeared that Jesse ain't got time to bathe.
- I also saw Priscilla Lord-Faris at her booth (crickets were chirping) and could see Elwyn Tinklenberg standing at the DFL booth, probably urging someone to read a few Bill Prendergast diaries over at Kos. I will say this -- I liked Priscilla's anti-Franken ad that ran on KARE the other night. Norm ought to send her a check after the primary.
- The best political experience by far was stopping by the AM1280 the Patriot booth, though. Mitch Berg and Ed Morrissey were in high spirits and were holding forth in their inimitable style, discussing the current state of the presidential race with Patrick Hynes from the blog Ankle Biting Pundits. I admire both Mitch and Ed greatly and it was a pleasure to finally meet both of them. I also got to meet two other Minnesota bloggers that I hold in very high esteem, Marty Andrade and the Mayor of the MOB, King Banaian. I have all four of these gentlemen on my blogroll for a reason -- they are all outstanding bloggers and well worth your time. And while you're at it, go buy Marty's book.
- As for the Fair itself, it was fun. The kids are getting older now but they still prefer the Kidway to the Midway, but I'm guessing that will change soon. We got most of the usual things we get every year -- the Pickle on a Stick, the enormo tub of French Fries, the bucket o' Sweet Martha cookies, but we also found and sampled the Big Fat Bacon. It's pretty good, but the bacon is so thick that it almost becomes a little ham-like in the middle. Still, for $3 it's a pretty good deal by Fair standards. They are located on Carnes, not far from Sweet Martha and the Deep Fried Candy Bars, making Carnes one of the best streets at the fair for having a portable defibrillator.
- I also got my McCain button at the GOP booth on Carnes, which was really hopping mid-afternoon. Based on what I observed, there were probably an equal number of McCain buttons as Obama buttons being sported by the fairgoers. And there were many more Norm buttons that Franken buttons, probably by a 3-2 ratio. Does that mean anything? Dunno.
- After we left, Stinger and I went to see the Gophers against hated Northern Illinois. The Gophers were enthusiastic and clearly more talented, but it's pretty evident that they have two issues: their pass defense is still abysmal and they appeared to be out-coached. NIU was 2-10 last year and a MAC team with that kind of record should expect to leave the Dome with a 41-14 loss. That the Gophers had to pull out a 31-27 win with last-second heroics is pretty damning. Some of the more pass-happy teams in the Big Ten are going to riddle the Gophers. Juice Williams of Illinois put up about 5 touchdowns against a very good Missouri team last night; I shudder to think what he'll do to our Rodents. I'm thinking 4-8 is about the best we can expect for Brew's Crew.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
- She's a fresh face and a reformer. Whether you think it fair or not, the Democrats have been beating the drums for the entirety of W's second term about scandal and secrecy and whatnot. If you want a pretty good example of the laundry list of calumnies, you could look at last week's Sunday Doonesbury cartoon. And because the Bush administration has never effectively responded to these calumnies, they are now seen as fact. That presented McCain with a challenge, since one of the main pillars of the Obama strategy is to present McCain as More Of The Same. McCain needed an outsider with reformer credentials. Sarah Palin certainly has those. If you don't believe me, ask the Murkowskis.
- Would Sarah Palin be a Vice President in the mold of Dick Cheney? Not a chance. If you really want to get Rovian, the Republicans could even argue that Biden is more likely to be a Cheneyesque VP, given the lack of foreign policy chops that his prospective boss has. Since Palin won't be that sort of Veep, it also blows yet another gaping hole in the Third Bush Term meme.
- This bold pick casts Obama's pick of Biden in bold relief. Joe Biden has never impressed me much, but he was a reasonably safe pick for Obama. But if you are the man who is going to bring Hope and Change to evil Washington, you probably shouldn't be picking a guy who first entered the Senate when you were 11 years old. Biden has plenty of foibles - his ripoff of Neil Kinnock, his braggadocio regarding his academic record, his notorious long-windedness - and for all the years he's spent in the Senate, he really doesn't have that great a record of legislative accomplishment. He simply doesn't have the star power that Obama could have sought. After the show the Clintons put on in Denver, I'm guessing that more than a few portsiders have some buyer's remorse about having ol' Joe riding shotgun.
- It limits Obama and Biden's options. A more traditional Veep pick (like Mitt, T-Paw or Tom Ridge) would have been pretty easy work for Obama's operatives. Mitt in particular would have set up a great class envy thing that the Democrats would have exploited the heck out of. Palin isn't a rich woman and she and her husband have had to earn pretty much everything they have. And let's face it, Obama will have to tread very lightly with Palin, given the amount of ill will that his campaign faced when they took down St. Hillary. It won't matter to the hard-core feminists, because they won't vote for Palin anyway. It's the suburban women swing voters, who can relate to the life Sarah Palin has led, who will take umbrage if they go low on Governor Palin.
- Go right ahead, rip Palin for being inexperienced and unqualified. Every time the Democrats attempt this one, it will point right back at their inexperienced candidate. And the obvious response is this: Sarah Palin is running for Vice President. Barack Obama is running for President. Let's see where that one goes.
- Go right ahead, rip Palin for being a hick. I've seen the "she was the mayor of a town of 9,000 less than 2 years ago" meme at least a half-dozen times already. Let's be honest - that's preaching to the choir. The dazzling urbanites who enjoy sneering at the residents of Bugtussle were already going to vote for Obama anyway. The thing is, Obama needs the votes of people who live in exurban towns like Wasilla, Alaska. That sneering stuff might play in Portland or Philly or South Minneapolis; I suspect it won't play so well in McMinnville or Shamokin or Waseca.
- About those soccer moms.... I don't know if Palin will attract that demographic or not. She's a lot more likely to help there than Mitt Romney or T-Paw would have, though.
- Ace of Base. McCain's biggest problem thus far has been the notable lack of enthusiasm among the groups that have made up the Republican base for the last 30 years. Palin is an exemplar of pro-life, life NRA member and has even hunted moose. James Dobson hates McCain and even he's thrilled with the pick.
- Sam's Club Republicans. This was T-Paw's meme, but Sarah Palin is well-equipped to exploit it. The notion here is that there are a lot of people who aren't that wealthy and who are looking for people who exhibit common sense, who understand their concerns, and who are skeptical of the blandishments of government. A plain-speaking working mother of five is more likely to reach these folks than two Senators, especially one who must continue to face the words he uttered about people bitterly clinging to guns and religion earlier this year.
- You thought Hillary was angry before? If McCain wins, it's Sarah Palin who makes history, not Hillary Clinton. And it could be Vice President Sarah Palin that Hillary would have to deal with for her grudge match in 2012. With this move, McCain cut Hillary off at the knees, too.
What say you?
Cross-posted at True North
Thursday, August 28, 2008
I was only able to watch parts of Obama's acceptance speech tonight. Jay Reding live-blogged it and his take on the speech was that it was disappointing and very negative. I agree with that, I guess. Since I wasn't able to watch the whole thing, I can't say for sure how good a speech it was. A few observations, though:
- I made fun of the Greek Temple backdrop yesterday, but it didn't look that ridiculous when you saw the speech. I did like the way the backdrop emulated the exploding scoreboard at Sox Park at the end. I kept looking for Carlos Quentin circling the bases.
- The opening introductory video was very good. I'd never seen a picture of Obama's mother before; she was a very pretty woman, with an open, friendly visage that almost reminded me of the prototypical 60s Kansas girl. That friendly visage is quintessentially American and I think it was useful to see that. Smiling people are easy to like.
- And that brings me to one thing I noticed about the speech: not to put too fine a point on it, but the dude looked pissed. Obama's facial expression was often disdainful and even dismissive. He wasn't smiling much, on what should have been the happiest day of his political career. When Obama smiles, he is very appealing. When he lets his arrogance show through, he isn't. He looked arrogant today, which is very different from the way he looked in Springfield on Saturday. People forget the words, but they remember the image. Obama is supposed to be bringing hope and change; the frowning undercuts the message.
- The speech itself was full of the usual Democratic talking points and there's really no point in rehearsing them here -- you've heard them all before and you know where you stand on them. One thing that Obama did say was pretty disgraceful: he claimed that the federal government "sits on its hands while a major American city drowns before our eyes." That's crap and he knows it. Billions of dollars have gone into New Orleans since Katrina. New Orleans was a very sick city long before Katrina came calling; the politics in Louisiana have been corrupt forever and while I agree that FEMA hardly covered itself in glory, there is plenty of blame to go around there, beginning with the local politicians and flowing through the Army Corps of Engineers and lots of other people. And when someone drowns, they are dead. New Orleans is hardly dead.
- I think he also handed McCain a pretty good cudgel. Obama said "If you don’t have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from. You make a big election about small things. " He was talking about McCain, presumably. Problem is, McCain does have a record, a 26-year record. Obama, not so much. I'm guessing McCain's speechwriters will have a lot of fun with that.
- My advice to McCain would be this: don't hesitate to engage Obama on the issues. His original pitch was that he was a figure who would usher in a new politics and end partisanship and diviseness. To use the current locution, all that went under the bus tonight. Obama stands revealed as a typical Democratic politician with the same laundry list of suppositions and policy stances that all his predecessors have shared: there's an unbroken line from Obama's speech all the way back to FDR. and if I were McCain, I'd introduce the Veep tomorrow and then re-challenge Obama to a debate a week for the rest of the cycle. Obama said he was willing to debate and McCain should not hesitate to call his bluff. McCain is excellent in the town-hall forum, my friends.
- My high school alma mater, Xavier High School in Appleton, Wisconsin
- My college alma mater, the Filene's Basement of college football, Beloit College
- The two local high school teams in SD 621, Irondale High School and Mounds View High School
- My beloved Wisconsin Badgers
- My brother Stinger's beloved Minnesota Golden Gophers
- My beloved Green Bay Packers
- The local professional squad, known here as the Purple Helmeted Love Warriors
- And any other random games that strike my fancy
So let's get to it.
Xavier Hawks 34, Freedom Irish 6. As Kris Kristofferson reminded us, Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose. And Freedom football loses a lot, especially to the mighty Hawks.
Totino-Grace Pizza Eagles 14, Irondale Knights 10. The Knights handed Totino their only loss last season. Irondale should be pretty good this year but it's usually a safe bet to pick Totino, one of the true powers in Minnesota high school football.
Mounds View Mustangs 24, Woodbury Royals 6. Woodbury tends to be either very good or very bad. Mounds View is good all the time.
Wisconsin Badgers 52, Akron Zips 9. I'm not sure how good the Badgers are going to be this year, but Akron is supposed to be putrid. No mercy is shown at Camp Randall, either.
Minnesota Golden Gophers 31, NIU Huskies 21. The Gophers weren't very good last year but NIU is weak even by MAC standards. I've got tix to this one so Stinger and I will give you the skinny.
The pros start next week, as does mighty Beloit. We'll check on them next time.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Said one Democrat: "This is a disaster of mythical proportions." Said another: "It's not enough that he wants to be president -- he wants to be Zeus." Said the first: "Will he send down thunderbolts from the mountain?"
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
The other senators rounding out the Gang of 16 on Tuesday were Republican John Warner of Virginia and Democrats Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Tom Carper of Delaware and Ken Salazar of Colorado.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Update: The Night Writer has a fun reminisce about a particular beer-fueled road trip, along with a few thoughts about bad beer. Go read it, awright?
Sunday, August 24, 2008
But what should McCain do? One potential play is to pick a woman. I have mentioned Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as a possibility and some reports indicate that she might still be in the running.
McCain clearly hopes to capture distaff side anger over the snub of Hillary. He's got this ad out right now using a few choice Hillary soundbites as a truncheon (good female voiceover talent, too, with just the right frisson of outrage). If I were Obama, I wouldn't have picked Hillary either, since it's hard to look forward and watch your back at the same time. But there might be a certain percentage of outraged women who might give Maverick a look if he were to pick the right woman. The ever-reliable Ed Morrisey linked to a good analysis by blogger Cuffy Meigs about the three women who have been rumored as possibilities -- Palin and two corporate executives, recently retired eBay honcho Meg Whitman and former HP chief Carly Fiorina, who has been a key adviser to his campaign. One thing is pretty clear - McCain has no trouble dealing with strong professional women, as his marriage demonstrates.
It could definitely the right play. Meigs makes an excellent concluding point in her piece:
Executive experience, of course, is the leading theme here. NONE of the candidates have it, including Hillary herself. Perish the thought that the Executive Branch is helmed by an actual executive.
No executives. No women.
And the most tech-savvy person is the guy who can't pull off a mass text message. It's a gap screaming to be filled.
If things get ugly in Denver with Hillary and her PUMA (which stands for Party Unity My Ass, in case you were wondering) pals, I think the likelihood of a woman veep candidate could increase exponentially. McCain currently plans to reveal his pick on Friday at a rally in Dayton, Ohio. If Hillary and her people aren't publicly assuaged, don't be surprised if one of these three women appear on the stage with Maverick.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Unfortunately, I had to delete the link to my friend Strolling Amok's blog. He's had to discontinue the thing for the time being. I hope he gets back to blogging because he is very good at it and always has something interesting to say.
I've added What if? to the blogroll. Somehow I had missed this blog in the thickets of the MOB roster, but that's a mistake I won't make going forward. Proprietor Peg Kaplan has a smart take on a variety of topics and a wry sense of humor to boot. Hat tip to Mr. Stover for featuring her blog in a recent Best of the MOB competition - Dan performs a valuable service by reading widely and finding the good stuff, by the way. I know that I've gained readers on those occasions when Dan has recognized my work in BOMOB competitions. It's a very generous thing that Dan does and we shouldn't take it for granted. I don't -- that's for sure.
I'm also adding a link to a venture that's been helping to pay my bills - Kotula's is a new catalog and online venture that I've been working on, featuring a variety of cool stuff. Give it a look; you might find something you'd like.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
Sunday, August 17, 2008
- There's no question that Chicago politics are still corrupt and stultifying, but I'll say this -- the place looked great. When I lived in the Chicago area, I rode the blue line Congress train into the city just about every day. This train runs down the Eisenhower Expressway straight into the South Loop, then runs north along Dearborn Street before turning northwest towards O'Hare. I remember those trips as being gritty, utilitarian and sometimes a little frightening, especially at night. The trains were often dirty and could be filled with thuggish young men, aggressive panhandlers and staggering drunks. You always had to keep your wits about you in those days. We rode the same train several times this week and it was astonishing how much better things were. Several of the stations along the line had been significantly refurbished and the trains were tidy. Even though I had young children in tow, I felt completely safe. Meanwhile the corridor of the Ike, which was an open dump when we lived in Chicago, had significantly less litter than you'll see on 35W or on 94 between the downtowns here. I don't know if Mayor Daley has some sort of Singapore thing going regarding littering, but it was an amazing transformation.
- Millennium Park has to be one of the nicest additions to a city I've ever seen. It occupies a parcel of land on the north end of Grant Park and includes the whimsical Cloud Gate sculpture that is pictured above. This thing is the closest thing to a human magnet I've ever seen. Kids and adults are just drawn to it. They also built a gorgeous open-air ampitheather and a really neat fountain in the space, among other things. Not much in Chicago is free, but this is. My wife's aunt described Millennium Park as one of the happiest places she's ever seen. That is an apt description.
- We were staying out in Oakbrook Terrace, on the eastern edge of DuPage County, and we ended up driving up and down Roosevelt Road a lot while we were in town. Roosevelt Road is famous for two things - cemeteries and hot dog joints. I'm not certain how those two facts relate to each other, but it would probably be reasonable to suspect a certain level of correlation. It also meant that I did get to the Portillo's in Forest Park to have an artery-clogging but yummy combo sandwich (dipped, but no peppers). Those cemeteries should be able to provide a comfortable margin of victory for Sen. Obama in the upcoming election, by the way.
Take Your Secret Self 1 Step Beyond today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.
On the other hand, better to be the White Knight than this guy.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
- As it happens, Sen. Obama went on vacation at the same time I did. He was in Hawaii and apparently was doing some windsurfing or somesuch. Good for him and, truth be told, it was a good idea for him to get away for awhile. The primary reason that some of Sen. McCain's shots about Obama's celebrity have been so effective is because Obama has been ubiquitous. Most people in the world get a vacation; no reason that presidential candidates shouldn't. I surely didn't miss seeing Obama's mug (or McCain's, for that matter) much in the last week.
- While we're at it, let's give the "George W. Bush has been on vacation for 1000 days" meme a rest, too. Whatever else you think about W., anyone who honestly looks at the matter knows that a sitting president is always on duty, even if he's not sitting in the Oval Office. I saw Bush on television the other day and he looked like hell. So did Clinton in August, 2000, Reagan in August, 1988, etc. Presidents can be foolish knaves, but there has never been a lazy one in my lifetime. Bush gets more grief about being away from Washington because he drags his entourage to Crawford rather than the more desirable addresses that Clinton used to frequent.
- I've been trying to catch up on the situation in Georgia but I'm still not sure what to think. Putin is testing us. He won't be the only person to test us in the coming years. That much is certain.
- The picture I posted earlier today is an image of Schaller's Pump, an old-time restaurant/watering hole in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago. Aside from City Hall, it's one of the most important political addresses on the Chicago map, since it sits across the street from the 11th Ward HQ. The 11th Ward, and Bridgeport generally, is home base for the Daleys, who run Chicago, Cook County, Illinois and (from time to time) much more. Barack Obama would not be where he is today if he didn't have the blessing of the habitues of Schaller's Pump.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
- As usual, the DFLers were right at the front of the parade. The mysterious Jan Parker was riding in a convertible early on, drawing essentially blank stares from the people I was sitting by. Shortly thereafter Kate Knuth came by. I was surprised at how few people she had with her. In 2006 she had an impressive orange armada but this time she only had about 10 people marching. Since New Brighton is home turf for la Knuth, you'd have expected a better turnout. I don't know if you can draw any inferences from this, but it wasn't an overwhelming show of support.
- As usual, the Republicans were pushed to far back of the line. Ed Matthews came through with a small but enthusiastic band of supporters. Ed worked the parade line hard as he came by, so hard in fact that he inadvertently blew right by me. Don't worry about it, Ed -- we've got your back at Mr. Dilettante. No sign of Betty McCollum, which is surprising, because it's not as if she had anything else to do tonight. Maybe she's doing advance work on Nancy Pelosi's book tour.
- Very late in the route Lori Grivna came by. Lori's marchers were a larger and considerably more enthusiastic group than what Knuth had. I was impressed by Lori's energy. I'll be revisiting her race for the 50B seat again soon. It's going to be interesting.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
You Would Make a Great 1930's Husband
You would be an ideal 1930s husband.
You're attentive, understanding, clean, and friendly.
You'd make an great husband for a woman of any era.
H/T: The invaluable Marty Andrade
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Monday, August 04, 2008
Sen. Obama seems, however belatedly, to have discovered that the high gas prices we've seen this year have been taking a big bite out of the nation's economy. But it does beg a question: why now, on August 4, is it time to act?
Here is what Obama said on July 7 about using the SPR to help with oil prices:
I do not believe that we should use the strategic oil reserves at this point. I have said and, in fact, supported a congressional resolution that said that we should suspend putting more oil into the strategic oil reserve, but the strategic oil reserve, I think, has to be reserved for a genuine emergency. You have a situation, let’s say, where there was a major oil facility in Saudi Arabia that was destroyed as a consequence of terrorist acts, and you suddenly had huge amounts of oil taken out of the world market, we wouldn’t just be seeing $4-a-gallon oil. We could see a situation where entire sectors of the country had no oil to function at all. And that’s what the strategic oil reserve has to be for.
Odd. We haven't had a major oil facility destroyed because of a terrorist act. In fact, the price of oil has declined rather precipitously in the last few weeks. On July 7, when Obama made that statement, oil reached $145 a barrel, on its way to the high price reached on July 12, when oil closed at $147 a barrel. As I write, it is at $120.71 (and it may be less when you click that link).
Meanwhile, the price of gas has gone down, too. On July 7, the day that Barack Obama didn't think it necessary to tap the SPR, gas prices in the Twin Cities averaged $3.92. Today, the number is down to $3.63, although I saw it as low as $3.56 at gas stations near my house today. If $4 a gallon oil is not a crisis, why would $3.56 a gallon oil be a crisis?
Of course Sen. Obama is privy to information that the rest of us aren't. Perhaps we are looking at a real emergency tomorrow? Hard to say. But is the current state of the oil market, with prices falling, an emergency? I suspect we all would agree that it isn't. In fact, there's a pretty good likelihood that prices will continue to fall. So why is Barack Obama so concerned about gas prices now, a month on from when they were at their peak?
Put it this way: it is not likely that Obama's newfound devotion to consumer relief at the pump has a lot to do with the price tracking charts linked above. Rather, it's quite likely that this newfound devotion has a lot more to do with a chart that really matters to Obama.
Cross-posted at True North
Sunday, August 03, 2008
And I was very careful not to drool on the keyboard when I took the quiz.
Leo Pusateri's son Doug and his near-fiancee Brooke were in a motorcycle accident early Friday morning, hitting a deer. Doug is okay but Brooke has had some traumatic injuries. She is getting treated at a hospital in Fargo and it appears that she is beginning to recover, but she will have a long road ahead. Leo provides the details here and Brooke has a Caringbridge site here with more information.
Meanwhile, our favorite SoCal correspondent Gino is dealing with some health issues related to a cyst on his cheek that may be a tumor. Gino discusses his situation here and here, with evident and justifiable frustration over the deportment of some of the caregivers who don't seem to care that much. Gino's already had enough heartbreak this year and while he's one of the toughest-minded guys I know of, even tough-minded guys need support.
Saturday, August 02, 2008
·Mmm-Bop by Hanson
·Anything by ABBA.