Friday, February 29, 2008

they don't tell me anything

"Wait. What did you say? Gas at 4 dollars a gallon by the summer! No, I hadn't heard that." President Bush responding during a press conference about reports that the price of a gallon of gasoline might reach $4 this summer in the US.

pouty face

Bummer. Hillary Rodham Clinton had an extra day this month to raise money and boy did she ever. Thirty-five million dollars!. That will certainly buy a lot of television ads in Ohio and Texas.

Only problem. Barack Obama, who seems to always be able to word up the girl, announced that 1 million people have pledged to his campaign.

And, Oh my! The Obama campaign has raised something approaching 60 million dollars during this short month. That will buy even more television ads in Ohio and Texas.

All this money being spent is not a good thing. Nearly 100 million dollars raised by 2 candidates in one month. Folks must really, really hate George Bush. Maybe that Nader guy has something after all.

camo up! soldier

Hey it's Leap Day. We get an extra day this year to do whatever we want. Unfortunately I'm using my leap day to work for the Man, who never sleeps and who has his foot firmly planted on my neck!

decided to be unhappy

The Decider isn't very happy these days. It appears that very few folks are listening to him. His approval ratings have sunk below 20 percent for the first time in his administration and the ratings aren't likely to rise much in the coming months, especially with the economy tanking and the dollar's slide deepening by the day. One could almost feel sorry for him it he weren't almost single-handedly responsible for the start of Armageddon. Or is that Dick "the Dick" Cheney? OK, perhaps I over speak. Things are that bad.

For one, the Decider is unhappy that Barack Obama would like to open up discussions with the new Fidel known as Raul Castro. The reason that Bush gives is because it would send a bad message. Now we've been trying to get Cuba to come around for 40 years and the whole embargo thing doesn't to appear to have worked very well. They had the same dictator for 40 years and now they have his brother. Perhaps, perhaps, we might try something else for a change,see if that works.

We did a little bit of research and discovered why Hillary Rodham Clinton likely doesn't think it's a good idea to talk to Raul. It has to do with the Libertad Act, which was signed into law by Hubby Bill, and since she's taking credit for those years, might not look good to go against it.

"On February 24, 1996, further worsening relations, the Cuban military shot down two U.S. registered civil aircraft in international airspace, killing three U.S. citizens and one U.S. resident. The unlawful and unwarranted attack on two unarmed U.S. civilian aircrafts resulted in the deaths of Armando Alejandre Jr., Carlos Alberto Costa, Mario M. de la Peña, and Pablo Morales. Immediately after this brutal act, and in response to this violation of international aviation law, Congress and former President Clinton passed the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act, also known as the Libertad Act. The legislation, among other provisions, codified the U.S. trade embargo into law and imposed additional sanctions on the Cuban regime. " Fact sheet on US Cuba relations, U.S. State Dept., May, 2001

The fact sheet also indicates that support for the Cuban people is the central theme of our current policy. Since the trade embargo doesn't seem to be working, perhaps we should open up trade and the borders with Cuba and go down there and talk to the people. They need our products a lot more than we need theirs. What better way to get the people of Cuba to view a different way of life than to go down there and demonstrate it to them first hand.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

nader to greens

obama to greens

"Hey, I think I'm the idealist in this campaign."

mccain to greens

"My friends, you're barking up the wrong tree."

hrc to greens

Ask Al Gore, "Nader's shit is brown and it stinks."

bloomberg to greens

In an editorial in today's NYTimes Mayor Mike Bloomberg states that he would support an Obama/Nader ticket for the Presidency. Or something like that.

bloomberg to greens

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

pie-throwing contest

The Democractic debates have become a pie-throwing contest. And a cream pie contest at that. All whipped cream, little substance; no one hurt seriously, no serious questions asked, or answered.

After 20 debates, we should hopefully have enough information to make the 'tough decision' about who should be the nominee. Now it's left to the ads, to the spin doctors, the pundits, the polls and yes, don't forget the voters.

Tuesday will tell...or not.

Monday, February 25, 2008

david versus goliath

The 3rd Annual Tour of California and the 80th Annual Academy Awards ended yesterday within a few hours and few miles of each other. These two, seemingly unrelated events, have more in common than might appear from a first, casual glance.

Both events are vying to recover from hard times - Pro Tour bicycle racing from what has amounted to about 4 straight years of doping scandals and the movie industry from the 4-month long Writers Guild of America strike. Just as there were signs yesterday that things are slowly being righted in both industries, there were also lingering signs of the confusion that exists among die-hard fans of mobbing enthusiasm.

Although as expected, Levi Leipheimer, the pre-race favorite ended up Sunday in the yellow jersey and at the top of the podium, and his team Astana was workman-like in their defense of the jersey for much of the race, riders from Sliptream-Chilpolte who herald themselves, like their flagship burrito as drug- and synthetic,hormone- free, placed 2nd, 3rd, and 6th in the overall general classification and won the team competition. However, unless Amaury Sports Organisation, the governing body for a number of the big European races, most notable being the biggest race of all, Le Tour de France, have refused to allow Astana to ride in ASO races this year.

This means, Alberto Contador, the defending Tour champion, won't be allowed to race, which is about like barring the Super Bowl NY Giants from competing in next year's NFL season. This will really hurt the sport this year. Americans, who don't usually pay attention in the Grand Tour events unless an America is doing well (i.e. Lemond, Lance, Flance, Leipheimer) likely won't tune in this year unless they have a competitive team. The newbie Sliptream-Chilpolte, despite having world-class riders, has yet to earn the right to even race in Le Tour.

Depending upon which side of the fence you sit, you either view the Oscars as a vastly entertaining, important cultural event for 80 million people or a blase, self-rightegous night of blather by pretentious stars. Folks more erudite than I have discussed this in detail (see below) so you can decide for yourself what it means.

Moi? Actually, I'm a centrist when not busy being trying to pound you into submission with my feeble opinions, and on this issue I'm a fence straddler. I love films AND aliens; so movie stars, being from another planet would appear to fit both categories. I do believe celebrities should have their own set of laws. But I also think John Tierney is onto something with the notion that just because a lot of people agree that something is a good idea doesn't mean it's bad, but it's decent working hypothesis.

david versus goliath audiomp3 audio

or read david

or read goliath

Sunday, February 24, 2008

enjoy it while it lasts

In about 2 weeks you're likely to see the HRC train begin to head back to New York, resigned to the life of a U.S. Senator. Not a bad place to be, but not Pennsylvania Avenue. The Clintons will still be a major force to be reckoned with, and they'll have considerable leverage in the party convention and platform, but the days of Clinton(s) being the dominant, Democrat party, force are nearing an end.

I base this on a couple of things. Foremost are the percentages by which she's been losing in the last 11 primaries. The numbers are rising and of late, they have running close to 60 percent Obama versus 40 percent HRC. The party insiders, read super-delegates, take these numbers to heart and the only thing that really matters to them is getting a Dem in the Big House painted White come November.

Secondly, the blogosphere has seen a noticeable shift away from HRC in the last few weeks as more and more folks resign themselves that we will wait again before a woman becomes President in this country. Check out the comments section in any political blog and you can see how the respondents in her favor have been tracking down. Every since the campaigns realized that the blogosphere is just another way to hijack public opinion, candidate trolls have been hammering constantly for word up. McCain supporters launched a SURGE against the NYTimes expose about McCain's cronyism, pounding the paper with over 2400 comments, about 10 times the normal. Conservatives, like Rush Limbaugh, hate the NYTimes even more, and they were quickly able to get the retirees to do some besides listen to vitriolic screeds and play cribbage on-line.

All of this brings us to Obama and why his campaign has done so well. Howard Dean, who may have been the first candidate to effectively use the internet, has nothing on the Obama organization. They have been masterful in a number of different ways.

First to get into an Obama concert, people are meet with volunteers telling them that they need to fill out this form in order to get into the hall. They don't really, but the crush of the crowds tends to make people mad to fill in the forms. And on the form is a request for an email address. They probably get a lot of bogus emails, but they also get a lot of live ones and through those they been able to get about 1 million people to donate to their campaign. Of those, the majority have been small contributions of $100 or less. And that's been adding up as Obama continues to break funding raising numbers every quarter.

Unlike the HRC machine, the Obama campaign has not set on its laurels. It's used those campaign contributions to drive new ways to get the word out, and to use a no-cost grassroots organization to do the work that used to be done by staffers in offices. Examples, setting up the ability of people to make calls from their own home to anyone in the country on behalf of the candidate. Benefits are many. People respond best to phone calls from other folks, not from robo-machines. The callers are busy people, they have lives, they have family, but now they can work for the campaign from home and feel as though they are part of the populism.

Other examples. Why spend a lot of money printing campaign materials that are mostly wasted when you can get volunteers to print them on demand? Then they can hand them to their friends and neighbors and this is how opinions are really changed. The television spots just affirm what you've already heard from someone else.

The campaign has put out approximately 500 YouTube videos and these get spread around at essentially no cost to the candidate. Many young voters don't watch debates, or if they do, not for long, but they will watch a vid. And sometimes those vids go viral, like the will i am piece. This was was done unsolicited by the campaign. Will saw a speech and decided to make a video. A million hits later, you've got landslides in key states. Young folks - and people have been saying this to them for years - can make a difference in an election. Seems like the message is finally getting out.

It remains to be seen if the Obama campaign can carry forth this kind of energy for the many, many more months left in this election cycle. But if they can continue to spread out the work between many people, they'll stand a fighting chance.

Image from The Bancroft Library. University of California, Berkeley.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

tour of california

Today's the day when the Tour of California likely gets settled, and it is by no means a lock for the favorite, and defending champ Levi Leipheimer. Although Levi's team Astana has pretty much controlled this race from the start, and he's got great support from domestiques like Grand Tour battled-hardened Chris Horner, there are major threats on the coastal highway to Pasadena come Sunday and the final podium.

Former world time-trailing champion David Millar, once banned, and now a pretty-boy for clean living, with the backing of teammates Christian Vandevelde and David Zabriskie who stand 3rd and 5th in the GC rankings, will be looking to stamp the first tour victory for the newly christened Chilpolte-Slipstream. Chilpolte-Slipstream has hopes of becoming America's team, but with their best rider a Scot, that's a stretch.

Challenge will also come in the form of reigning world time-trial champion and young Swiss phenom Fabian Cancellara, riding for CSC, and always ready to launch attacks as he did last year taking stage 3 in Le Tour and wearing the Maillot Jaune for the first third of the race.

The only hope for someone other than Levi to end up in yellow come Sunday are to mount repeated attacks and hope for a sustained break as the end of today's 170 km ride from Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita ends with 3 circuits around town. Such a finish favors the sprinters, and Levi's 49 seconds over Millar can't be lost in a field sprint. That means tons of action during today's stage which you can watch live via the link below.

Coverage begins @ 11 AM PST.

Image captured from the ATOC-Adobe tour tracker, courtesy of Richard Masoner

tour of california

drive for show

Who watches golf on TV? Who calls eight friends over and gets a keg of beer? Landscapers, I guess. They sit around the TV, yelling, "Will you look at that golf path? Pure pea gravel." ~Jeff Cesario

The National Golf Federation has sheepishly announced that the number of hard-core golfers has been declining just at a time, when after years of building courses to keep up with demand, the number of courses is at an all-time high.

Contrary to the overall decline are some interesting notes, including that the number of women, children, and minorities are increasing, as are the number of automatic defibrillators on courses. The latter being the only increase not attributable to Tiger. The upshot of which is that should you ever want to shock a Hispanic teenage woman back to life, you'll be able to do so without having to pull the sand wedge from the bag. Just remember to have your HeartSmart card handy in case the victim dies before the para-medics arrive.

As someone, with deference to my Scots-Irish (among others) heritage, who used to play the game decently, and who once, yes true, defeated Payne Stewart in a putting tournament, I can say unequivocally why I stopped playing the game called by Twain, "a fine walk spoiled."

*Golf courses are environmental disasters.

*Golf courses are a huge waste of water.

*Golfing is expensive, time-consuming, and full of club members. I'm not good with clubs, or more typically, not invited to join them, which suits me. Groucho said it best, "any club that would have me, I wouldn't want to join."

*Golf, even when walking 18 holes, requires other forms of exercise to keep in shape, which is one reason I used to cycle to the club, which never endeared me to members who drove sports cars, especially after they lost the Nassau.

Friday, February 22, 2008

50 years of symbolism

I was in despair. Deep despair. I drew myself: the representative of an individual in despair, with hands palm outstretched outwards and downwards in the manner of Goya’s peasant before the firing squad. I formalised the drawing into a line and put a circle round it. Gerald Holtom, conscientious objector and creator of the peace symbol.

The peace symbol, originally created for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, is 50 years old. Unveiled at a march against nuclear weapons proliferation in Britain on Easter weekend, 1958, the symbol, created by professional designer and artist, Gerald Holtom, was a transliteration of the semaphore letters for N(uclear) D(isarmament).

Unlike the smiley face logo of Harvey Ball, it quickly became an iconic symbol, but like the smiley face, the peace symbol was not copyrighted. Holtom's intent was always to encourage free distribution for the cause of peace. Ball just didn't know better, although Walmart has successfully copyrighted a rip-off of the smiley face that it uses to promote price reductions on goods imported from China.

Although Mr. Holtom never received financial compensation for his work, he may have considered worldwide acceptance gratitude enough. Now if we could only get folks to stop building nuclear weapons and shooting down satellites to prove it can be done we might have a chance. Let's at least give ourselves that as my old friend John used to say.

history of the peace symbol

Thursday, February 21, 2008

the sky is falling, the sky is falling

Or maybe it was just an eclipse.

Here's something funny. Now that the Pentagon has apparently hit the spy satellite which will now fall back to earth in pieces, it's telling us that the danger from space debris is very, very small. Hunhh?! wasn't that the reason they gave - danger from falling space debris - for shooting down the thing in the first place?

July 2000 total lunar eclipse by Noel Munford (Palmerston North Astronomical Society, New Zealand)

launch the missles....NOW!

The Hillary Rodham Clinton camp is undergoing an internal struggle as to whether or not it's appropriate to fire missles to try and take down the high flying satelitte known as Barack Obama and bring it back to earth. Some campaign staff believe that the action is needed in order to "save America from itself", while others warn the cost of the venture, estimated to be 60 million dollars is overpriced. Critics warn that it's just another wag the dog manuveur that will have little impact on the primary outcome.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

the blues had a baby

and they named it rock and roll.

It's shaping up to be another Presidential race between the old fogeys and the young 'uns and unless we've finally learned our history lessons, we could be in for a long war of more than just words.

McCain has began to run some internet spots that are masterful in their composition just as they are narrow in their focus. They show a young John McCain smiling and striding toward someone (the camera is placed in just a way so that it looks to be us), a Naval officer in dress uniform walks beside him as his escort. McCain stretches out his hand in greeting, and just at the moment that he reaches us, the ad copy slides across in front of the naval officer and we are left with just McCain and the tagline, John McCain, ready to serve the country. The spot catures the moment that McCain has been turned over from his N. Vietnemese captors and he's being received by the U.S. and it says to us, here I am, I'm coming home to you, to work for you, and I'm really happy to serve. It's a brillant 5-second loop of internet savvy sure to tingle the heart of millions of Americans on anti-cholesterol medication and comfort stomachs made quesy by 8 years of vigilant terror.

The Republicans, headed now by McGruff the Crime Dog, have begun their attacks on the O-man and these will surely deepen over the next few months. Obama's youthful recreational drug use will be compared to the notion that McCain was 'tied up for his country' during that time. But will any Democrats have the courage to attack McCain for his drunken youthful debachery during his naval academy days? How is this any different than recreational drug use during the early 70's? Or must we view McCain's actions as just another example of how our young men should learn how to be strong, learning faux redneck ways in a bar, in order to foster the bellicose nature of a true warrior?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

a magic plot

Everyone should have a magic plot.

Everyone should have a magic plot, one in which are feed a couple of unknowns and there suddenly before you are a few mysteries of life you have longed for, say the never-before-measured space between two molecules, or equations for planetary orbits, or the distance between two moles on your lover's back and all of these come breaking suddenly to the surface and are revealed to you, and if oh, for ever so briefly, these unknowns reveal themselves like the flash of a hummingbird past the window, the narrow dive of a Cooper's Hawk, or a glimpse of Gemini on a clear February night, then you will quietly say to yourself, How could I have not noticed them before?

But before, before this day, you did not have a magic plot.

Yes, everyone should have a magic plot, whereby one inputs two or three as yet unsolved questions and there, yes there in the upper right-hand quadrant where the lines intersect are your children, and they are smiling, not because the day is sunny, which it is, but because you have arrived, just as you said you would, and bearing presents which you have not said that you would, but they know you well and have come to expect such things as surprises wrapped in love and brown paper and soon, very soon everyone will be playing in the sand and the sea and someone will be heard to say, Now, isn't this a grand occasion?

Everyone should have a magic plot, re-discovered after many years in storage, and having been lifted again into the light of day reveals the smell of peppers roasting, or of a spongy, spring loam turned before most have realized that yes, yes, yes spring is almost here.

Everyone should have a magic plot. One that tells here! is where the snow falls, and here! it is but ice, and then again here! is where the two mix and the curve ahead, yes this one, this curve, this life, this love that you are moving toward should not be taken lightly, so brake gently into the fog but do not come to a complete stop for there is nothing so sad as the mist which never touches the dew.

Everyone should have a magic plot. A round one with funny swiggles that must be explained in great detail, the story teased slowly from the data, and turning this plot in every possible direction, you discover again, with great certainy, more than is generally possible in the hard realm that your life mostly treads is that the most significant finding you've been able to conclude in all your years of probing is that love is laughter drawn through the lens of a microscope.

But before, before this day, you did not have a magic plot. And now that you do have one, you will carry it in your pocket, close enough so that you can feel it through your clothes when you walk, and fearful of showing it to anyone, to everyone, but hoping the chance arises to do so, and then you will produce the magic plot with a great flourish and explain it in great detail to all who will listen, even complete strangers who view you skeptically, until the plot becomes soiled and a bit ragged at the edges from all the viewings and you will tell everyone, Here. Look here. A magic plot.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, 2007, Miramax Films. directed by Julian Schnabel.

Sangster, W.E., and E. Jagler, 1985: The (7WG,8WT) Magic Chart. CR Technical Attachment 85-1, DOC/NOAA/NWS Central Region, Kansas City, MO, 5pp.

Monday, February 18, 2008

cleaning up

Caucus, 2008, m.o.i., found objects and glue, dimensions vary slightly, ~2 x 3 inches, multiple of 36 (the number of delegates allocated in the Feb. 9th, 2008 Kansas Republican caucuses).

From the series: Things to do with Ron Paul signs left by the side of the road.

m.o.i.: belief change

taking holiday of Presidents

Today's is President's Day in the USA, which for most Americans, means counting the days (340) till the current adminstration takes up less deadly pastimes than doing its part to help foster WWIII. Maybe it's too soon to imagine, but what exactly do you suppose the W will do after he leaves office? Lacking eloquence, it's a bit hard to imagine that El Presidento's speaking engangements will command Clintoneque dollars. Perhaps his brush removal skills can be transferred to board rooms in need of lopping off a few thousand workers in favor of maintaining stock prices. Fishing is purported to be one his hobbies. Maybe we could stock a Texas border lake with some invasive species and let him cast about for hits till the sun goes down. Send your suggestions to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

tuesday nite smackdown

Things have come to a pretty pass,
Our romance is growing flat,
For you like this and the other
While I go for this and that.
Goodness knows what the end will be;
Oh, I don't know where I'm at...
It looks as if we two will never be one,
Something must be done.

The Democratic primary race is beginning to resemble tit-for-tat politics. Progress versus speeches. Words versus actions. Delegates vesus superdelegates. Primary versus causus. Wisconsin verus Ohio vesus Texas versus exiled Michigan and Florida.

Daily poll numbers are bandied about as though they truly hold meaning in the outcome. Why vote your conscience when you can be part of the trend? It could come down to a WWF-like convention. Lot's of flash with the outcome pre-ordained and the crowd going crazy with mock hysteria. Except that mock hysteria often feeds into real hysteria. Will Hillary find herself trapped in a box of her own making? Stay tuned.

You say eether and I say eyether,
You say neether and I say nyther;
Eether, eyether, neether, nyther,
Let's call the whole thing off!

Lyrics from: Let's Call the Whole Thing Off, George and Ira Gershin, 1937.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

sunshine, oceanspray and field sprints

Let's hope that wintry mix that keeps pounding the Midwest will soon leave and Spring will arrive. In one sense, that's been the problem. The wintry mix around KC has just been a smattering of snow, ice, sleet, and cold resulting in wind chills and reckless drivers but not enough snow for x-country skiing. Either bring it on, or get the hell out the way.

Some good news though to herald a season outdoors. The Tour of California starts tomorrow and the field is probably the strongest ever in an American stage race. Astana, although recently barred from the Giro D'Italia and Le Tour and now run by the mastermind Johan Bruyneel (Director Sportif for eight, count'em eight Le Tour wins), is fielding a team headed up by road champion Levi Lepheimer (USA, Astana). Where is Alberto Contador one has to wonder?

But the field is also crowded with many other high-ranking pros including David Millar (GBR, Chilpolte-Slipstream), Fabian Cancellara (SUI,CSG) who took two stage wins last year in the Le Tour, American sprinter David Zabriskie, and Tom Boonen of Quickstep. Sunshine, oceanspray, and field sprints should be in the mix most every stage.
The Tour of California begins with a prologue tomorrow at Stanford University in Palo Alto and finishes a week and 650 miles later in Pasedena.

tour of california
greg lemond talks about cycling's recovery from dope

Friday, February 15, 2008

48 days, season recap

48 days
Jack Bauer, Special Agent to Counter Terrorism Unit, has only 48 days to keep the presidential primary campaigns on track as they spin toward Super Tuesday.

m.o.i.: Season premiere-48 days, week 1
Jack Bauer surrenders himself for 48 days on a DUI charge and quickly discovers that his ability to control presidential campaign spin is severely threatened. A man-in-a-chicken suit heckles the Obama campaign.

m.o.i.: 48 days, week 2
Jack Bauer spends Christmas in jail but extracts a gift from a rival inmate. Hillary Rodham Clinton encounters her own brand of campaign hecklers. CTU staff resort to torture in an effort to extract campaign secrets.

m.o.i.: 48 days, week 3
Jack Bauer spends New Year's Eve in solitary confinement, Obama staffers run headlong into the supporters of questional merit, and the writer's strike begins to effect campaign logic in a showdown at the Iowa caucuses.

m.o.i.: 48 days, week 4
As the campaign buses roll into the Granite State, Jack tries to warn CTU of impending trouble and campaign rallies become targets for bullies.

m.o.i.: 48 days, week 5
Jack's cellmate, Vincent, is freed, then heads to Vegas only to find solace in the arms of a Huckabee volunteer. The Obama campaign comes into a lot of money but during a South Carolina fundraiser, Obama's speechwriter begins to question the dream.

m.o.i.: 48 days, week 6
The Clinton campaign tries out a few dirty tricks. An unlikely coalition travels cross country and stops at a Huckabee fundraiser in Texas. CTU thwarts an unlikely terrorist threat a MLKing rally.

m.o.i.: Season Finale:48 days, week 7
The campaign heads to Kansas in the week before Super Tuesday, CTU cracks the mystery behind some bogus emails, and Jack endorses a new way of life but not before torturing a former White House intern.

m.o.i.: Damn it! I just can't do this anymore.
m.o.i.: 48 days: script notes

48 days: script notes

Last summer, while visiting a friend near Hollywood, I discovered that one of my favorite guilty pleasures had been serialized in paperback. This was pulp fiction at its simplest - a plot formula based on a television show. What I enjoyed about these books, besides the fact that they were perfect for the beach, or a few quiet moments - as they appeared to be written so as to be read in exactly one hour, was that there was absolutely no pretense with them. They were just trashy pulp designed to foster a brand. Reading one was the equivalent of watching a rerun of the show.

So when I heard that the major character on the series was going to jail for what amounted to a doubling of the series in more ways than one, 48 days (the series is 24 hours) I thought it was a chance to have fun with a number of different things while still allowing the pricipal character to struggle some with what sent him to jail in the first place.

Television, before which I've sat prostrate for more hours than I care to admit (and I actually moderate my intake to the best of my ability; not having a working television really helps) was on strike. How difficult can it be to crank out a television script? Show some empathy for the WGA. And do it just like they do on 24. Week-to-week. No pre-ordained story line, just write and see where the action takes you. It's not easy. Things that seem simple rarely are. It would take many more rewrites to get my scripts in working order and remove all the confused plots lines but it wouldn't be true to the original if it made complete sense. It's really a dopy show, but it's fun to watch.

For 48 days, the end-of-the-world action were the presidential primaries and caucuses leading up to Super Tuesday. I gave myself one week to crank out each episode and if interesting things in the campaign surfaced, I tried to obliquely work them into the story line. In politics, just like in 24, there's always some wacky shit happening.

We forced ourselves to keep the central 24 character, Jack Bauer, in each episode, but felt it important that he remain incarcerated and superficial to the events. He really has only a small amount of control and for Bauer this is not his normal way of working. But this is Jack Bauer we're talking about, if it can be done, he'll find a way. Or he won't. In addition to saving the world, he's also trying to save himself, and in many ways Bauer is a proxy for the voter, but being locked behind bars, he just isn't in position to actually cast a vote.

Because we're spoofing 24 and because our government has decided to partake in these actions, torture had to be a part of some of the plot lines. It never works, but it doesn't stop folks from using it.

I used campaign staff rather than the candidates because there was so much being written about the candidates what could possibly have been added? Besides, I could have more freedom with these characters and let them roam around a bit. The Obama campaign manager and speechwriter just surfaced as the primaries began to unfold and we worked through each episode.

Any semblance of real characters are only a figment of your imagination. If you haven't yet discovered that satire underlies m.o.i. then please, by all means, the next time you have a personal problem, call Jack Bauer. NOW!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

the envelope please

Best Editing in a short film.
yes we can

will you?

panel rules craig an idiot

AND gay.

senate to craig, dude, what were you thinking?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

no friend of mine

We note that those stodgy fellows at Westminster allowed the stately but smug Tibetan Mastiffs into the ring for the first time this year but still have yet to allow its smaller, more spirited cousin -the Rare West Tibetan Mountain Dog to compete. Maybe next year.

We also note that Uno, the beagle hound that won Best in Show, never caught a rabbit.

it was the wife!

The Rocket's fastball has lost a little steam in the off-season. He was having a very hard time trying to get this fast one past the committee on the Hill today.

please do not adjust your screens

this is merely a test.

The writers strike has come to an end. Some of you may have learned the perils of endless channel surfing on youtube, the sublime irony of Ron Paul campaign postings, or discovered that Quarterlife is a basket exactly one-fourth full. But fear not, The Daily Show will soon replace A Daily Show, the Oscars will go on, and the internet is here to stay. Here's to victory! HuZZah.

will you be her valentine?

Hillary Rodham Clinton is trying to right her upside-down campaign and speaking in El Paso last evening after the Virginia results had been announced and before the Maryland and D.C. races had been called (as soon as the polls closed) for Obama she did not sound very convincing. She seemed tired, out of sorts, and lost in her own rhetoric.

Meanwhile the O-man was saying in Washington, doing the people's business and acting presidential. Except to see more of this from Obama in the coming weeks and fewer rock star appearances. He knows that if he wants to take on McGruff the Crime Dog it won't be easy and he must appear Charlie, Ready and Able. And HRC isn't done yet, despite the loss this week of her two top campaign advisors and a mounting string of stinging losses in primaries and causcuses. It's 7 in a row for Obamba if you're counting. The Clintons are pros at politics and AMBITION is more than a personality trait with them, it's a way of life.

Update: In the ever-spin world of politics, Obamites are calling it 8-in-a-row, which I believe includes the straw poll taken at a back bar in St. Barts which Barack won by a margin of 7 to 3. The losers were forced to buy the next round. Cost? 2 million dollars.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

supremes to air reruns of 24

Those activist judges are at it again. This time it's Reagan-appointed, Associate Justice to the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia who suggested to the BBC that torture might just be OK after all. Especially if there's a ticking time bomb in LA set to go off in minutes. A Supreme Court justice invoking a scenario from 24 to justify torture! Now we know Scalia must have watched re-runs during the writer's strike instead of reading.

That said, re-runs might be another way to get the gitmo bunch to talk especially since it was revealed today that a cup of coffee and/or hamburger apparently worked as well as torture in extracting information about 9/11. Forget 24 as a model for interrogation since it takes a whole season to get an answer, but on Law and Order, they wrap it up every episode.

Or we could tie them to a chair, force their eyes open, and make them watch Howie Mandel. Which briefcase holds the latte, which the Big Mac, and which one holds the bomb? Deal? or no Deal?

coffee works better than torture
scalia endorses torture

plotting your position

There are a number of sites on the world wide web that are designed to help you dear reader/voter decide whom to vote for come election day. It could be reasonably argued that this site is not one of them. One site we recently discovered plots candidate positions on a graph which is purportedly designed to help you determine the liberal, conservative, or populist tendency of the candidate. No mention of being progressive, guess that's just not an option in today's politcal climate. It's hard for these sites to hide their biases. For instance in the above graphic, the summary points describe both John McCain and Mitt Romney as conservatives with populist leanings while Clinton, Obama, and Kucinich are referred to as hard-core liberals. Ron Paul would be the most moderate of the candidates. We've included the Socialist Party candidate McKinley just to let you know how they really think about the Dems. Such an approach is really designed to polarize opinions about the candidates.

There's another popular site that allows you to answer a bunch of push-poll type questions and then it tells you the candidate you should vote for. Kucinich was no longer an option by the time I got a chance to cast a vote.

We raise these points because last evening we found ourselves having dinner with Congressman Dennis Moore (D, KS). Lest you belief this to be an intimate affair, we were joined by 60 or so of his supporters, and we were not seated at the head table. No questions from the floor were taken.

Congressman Moore describes himself as a conservative Democrat. Which for him primarily means being fiscally conservative and working across the aisle, two things that everyone seems to agree upon but almost no one does. President Bush was his favorite punching bag. Bush is an easy target and since he's almost separate from the party-at-large anyone, one can pick on him without having to pick on other Republicans or describe why your own party, now in the majority, can't seem to get bills passed on the Hill.

We note that the fiscally conservative Democrat Moore was addressing this group because it is one that has received large earmarks from Congress, in part due to Moore's support. One district's pork is another district's jobs but when was the last time you were able to get an elected member of Congress come and talk to your civic group about issues that you felt were important? Probably never unless your group happens to contain large numbers of folks who can contribute mightily to re-election campaigns.

Monday, February 11, 2008

and i say no no no no

Wow! HRC kinda got her ass handed to herself on a platter this weekend. Talk about the power of O. Four to zip. More to come on Tuesday. Where's that snarky Bill when you need him?

Can we say those things? If she were dude instead of a dudette sure we could. Take for instance John McCain, we could say "dude, what happened, you got your ass kicked in Kansas and Louisiana by a guy who was the first person in his family to graduate from high school. High school! The Republican base must really, really must hate you McCain if they'd rather vote for a guy who's most significant endorsement is from Walker Texas Ranger over a war hero like yourself. Whaddup wid'dat?"

Sunday, February 10, 2008

bush extends man crush to mccain

PRESIDENT BUSH on Vladamir Putin in 2006: I will answer the question. I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy.

President Bush speaking with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, Feb. 8, 2008 about John McCain.

WALLACE: So what do you say to those conservatives, those Republicans who have questions about candidates?

BUSH: I say if you're seeking — looking for perfection, you'll never find that person. I certainly wasn't a perfect candidate for a lot of folks. You're not going to find perfection.

But what you ought to look at is look at the person's heart, look at the principles. And determine what's the best course for the nation and the best course for the nation is to have our candidate become president of the United States.
Nancy Reagan had her astrologer, President Bush has a ouji board, and the Republicans will have McGruff the Crime Dog.

sub prime

Hollywood will be back to work next week which makes everyone in LA happy and lot's of other folks who are addicted to soap operas, melodramas, and awards shows. Over the course of the next few days, both the WGA and the AMPTP, will likely be spinning the strike as a victory for, you got it, the people. It's nothing of the sort.

Foremeost, having to strike for 4 months for a very, very, very small piece of the pie is not exactly victory. Most people call it a job and the portions keep getting smaller and the ingredients less natural and more saccharine. Secondly, the Hollywood moguls behind AMPTP could care less the quality of work delivered to you via the airways, which in case you have forgotten, the people own, and the corporations rent. Corporations care about the bottom line and the moguls that run them call that a job and fat-cat bonuses are growing, not shrinking.

And therein lies the problem. We've a warring culture where sides have to win or lose, so mostly everyone bloodies themselves senseless until it's time to call a temporary truce. Then everyone returns to work, but fundamentally very little changes. The internet, which by sheer volume alone of transmissions by THE PEOPLE, has the capacity to render such battles less relevant, is increasingly falling victim to assaults by the corporate media as well as the people's lack of due diligence in keeping themselves informed via content outside the mainstream or, as importantly, living a life devoid of celebrity. If the celebrities in your life aren't your friends and family then all victories are for naught because you'll never be able to contextualize them within the confines of your life.

Media giants have the resources, the brains, and the track record to recognize a good thing when they see it. This has the effect of bringing things back to the center and in most cases diluting them down to the lowest common denominator, which seems to suit many people's taste. This sounds a bit like politics because it is politics. To paraphrase an old saw, Money does as money sees.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

pure crunk

Hillary Rodham Clinton just can't get enough love. Her campaign has raised ten million dollars since the first of the month and things are still tough out there on the mean streets of America. Foremost is that her nemesis, Barack Obama, managed to raise even more money in the same period and soundly defeated (by a 2 to 1 margin) her in the Nebraska and Washingon caucuses held earlier today.

Then there's the story out of Louisiana this evening, that Bill, after hearing the exit poll numbers and learning that the long running writer's strike had been settled, spontaneously broke into a rendition of "It's Hard out Here for a Pimp" on a New Orleans street corner and began asking for donations. The numerous Obama supporters in the French Quarter celebrating the week's victories reportly threw spare change at Mr. Bill the Ex-President.

It's looking like another sleepness night for the HRC staff. The big problem is that there's little the campaign can do before Tuesday next where Obama will score more victories, after which even more heads will begin turning away from the experience we've already gone through and looking for a new experience we can believe in.

But the Clintons won't go down without a fight to the end. And don't expect them to be gracious losers because they won't be. And don't be surprised when Bill dons a sumo-wrestlers outfit and challenges all comers on Hillary's behalf in the mud pit of politics.

currently accepting applications

McGruff the Crime Dog has a challenger! Huckleberry Hound. Just in case you thought those folks in Kansas had suddenly become liberal after overwhelmingly going for Barack Obama, they decide to offer all of their Republican delegates to Mike Huckabee. As Mike said, when asked why he's still in the race with no hope of winning, "what else am I going do?"

Suggestion. Walmart always needs greeters.

saturday morning matinee

We note with interest that many fewer people showed up for the Kansas caucuses on a bright sunny Saturday morning than at the Democratic caucuses which were held in horrible weather during the middle of the work week. We also note with interest that the 3rd Congressional District caucuses were at the Westglen Theater which is currently offering the following movie treats:
Rambo, Charlie Wilson's War, Fool's Gold,The Bucket List,Untraceable, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Over Her Dead Body, There Will Be Blood, and the movie that we hope they watch, No Country for Old Men.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Kaye Bailey Hutchison opens fire on reason

Republican Senator Kaye Bailey Hutchison from Texas appeared yesterday in front of the conservative Heritage Foundation and said, "in Texas, gun control means aiming with two hands."

Later in the day, a man identified as Cookie killed 2 policemen outside the Kirkwood city hall and then walked inside the city council chambers and opened fire with a handgun(s) killing 3 and wounding 2, at least one critically. The gunman was killed by police.

No statement yet from the Senator's office.

Image: Beretta 92FS made from legos.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

a bargain at any price

It only took 35 million dollars of his own money for Mitt Romney to realize he didn't want to be President of the United States.

Mitt Romney dropped out of the race because of:
1) Fear of a brown planet.
2) Fear of a French planet.
3) Fear of a black planet.
4) Fear of evangelicans, Scientologists, and Muslims.
5) Fear of the Chinese Olympics.
6) Fear of having another Saville Row suit ruined at the dry-cleaners.
7) Fear of his sons becoming too worldly on the campaign trail.
8) Fear of fear itself.
9) Fear of only having $50 million dollars in his bank account.

Note: This number keeps going up. We first reported 32 Mil, then we heard 35 Mil, and just today we heard 40 Mil. Mitt is not required by law to disclose this amount.

we cash refund checks

Politics can be as addictive as playing the lottery and your chances of a payout about the same which makes giving money to a presidential candidate a bit like having a teenager in the house. Until they sense that you're maxed out then they want MORE MORE MORE.

Yesterday, thousands of folks, including moi, recieved this email from David Plouffe, Barack Obama's campaign manager:

"The Clinton campaign just announced that Hillary and Bill Clinton injected $5 million of their personal fortune into her campaign a few days ago.

To date, more than 650,000 people like you have taken ownership of this campaign, giving whatever they can afford.

The Clinton infusion of $5 million -- and there are reports it could end up being as much as $20 million -- will give them huge resources for the next set of primaries and caucuses.

We have raised more than $3 million since the polls closed on February 5th. But we have no choice -- we must match their $5 million right now. We're going to do it the right way, with small donations from people like you. It's never been more urgent that you make a donation of $100 right now."

To begin with, public service is intended to be just that, public, so it's not exactly clear how a single income family on a government salary can amass enough money to loan themselves $5 million. Let's assume that speaking enagements for Bill have been very lucrative in the years since he left office and I belive they have been but for the purposes of this argument, if his appearance fee was a hefty 20K, then 250 speaking engagments would be needed to generate that amount. He's been out of office for 8 years, so it's very possible that he's made a lot of money. Using the same estimate, 20 Mil, would be 1000 speaking engagements. I'm not suggesting that the Clinton's have been doing things illegally, it's just that I don't believe one should be profiting from the Office of the Presidency. Unless it is to help THE PEOPLE - witness Jimmy Carter.

Back to the sales pitch, the premise of which is that because HRC infused her campaign with 5 mil, then we have to raise our own $5 to match. Granted, it would be a strong statement if the Obama campaign could say, hey look we didn't have to reach into our own meager pockets, we asked thousands of everyday folks to contribute $100 and that's the difference between the two campaigns. However, this pitch is just days after it was announced that Obama has raised 32 million in January, a record for any candidate.

My point is this. If you feel compelled enough by a candidate to financially support their candidancy, that's great. Give money. But beware the ever sell. It's easy to fall into the excitement of these campaigns, who knows how many young folks, having never given to a political campaign are now serving up their entire income tax refunds to candidates as the excitment builds. Political races are expensive, but so is life.

I do believe in giving. And giving enough so that you have to make sacrifices about what you can do in your own life. We did make a small contribution to the O campaign and we also instituted our own economic stimulus package.

However, any future donations during the primary season will instead go to a local charity, not-for-profit, or be used to support a working artist by buying some of their work. These demographics have a very difficult time sustaining work in the first place, but in hard times and election years it becomes even more difficult. Investment in your local community is much more likely to positively impact your quality of life than whoever ends up in the Big House.

dispose of properly

Wow, in a move worthy of the best political chess matches or stinking of the worst smears, Brain McNamee levels charges that could land the Rocket in prison instead of the Hall of Fame.
clemens trainers claims to have physical evidence

the end of the world is near

Those of you who own a more sophisticated television set (are they still called that? or is flat screen the preferred term?) than moi, may be interested to know that come Saturday the Writer's Guild of America strike will surely end as the union management will go East Coast/West Coast and present a tentative agreement to the guild. It's taken 4 months for the WGA to wrest the details from the devil known as AMPTP or the Alliance Motion Picture and Television Producers. Oh yes, there's probably some good people in AMPTP if you could see through all the second-hand cigar smoke to find them. But back to the point. There are two. If the guild doesn't accept this agreement, then they need to get rid of their leadership because they entrusted them to call the strike and bring them an agreement and come Saturday this will have transpired.

On a more personal note for you dear reader, it means that you'll no longer have endure my satirization of the end of the world (48 days: a lot can happen in 7 weeks) as the folks who write the melodramic sit-com 24 will be back at the keyboard trying to uncover those hard-to-find weapons of mass destruction.

In order for us to backslide three things would again have to converge. There is an ongoing presidential primary race of historic proportions, Jack Bauer is in prison on a DUI, and the writer's are on strike.

Pray mercy.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

second line

Turns out the Obama watch party wasn't a bust after all. They will still caucusing which is why they weren't watching. In accordance with the caucus rules, they were supposed to start @ 6 pm and end @ 7 pm. Problems were encountered that keep them going until well past 8 pm, notably, a lot more people (at least 75 percent of which were Obama supporters) showed up to caucus than were expected by the Democratic party, and they didn't have room in the hall for everyone. People waited in line, and the weather was really, really crappy (rain, sleet, snow) for as long as 2 hours to get into the caucus hall and at one location, everyone was eventually forced outside by the fire marshall so the group ended up caucusing in the parking lot.

Such snafus point out the anachronistic nature of the caucus system. First you have a very narrow time slot in which to declare your support for your candidate, and then, you can't just cast your vote and leave, you have to stay until the process is complete which takes an hour or more. So if you're a parent with a small child, work nights, or just not that keyed into the process, then you're going to be out in the cold. Kansas, which has its fair share of cheapskates, likes the caucus because it means that the parties pay for it, rather than the taxpayers. But really, everyone who cares about the outcome pays for it because voters are disenfranchised.

give it up

It's much too early to try and make sense of yesterday's wintery mix but we will note that some news organizations should give up calling the outcome of elections before all the results are in. AP called the Missouri Primary for Hillary Rodham Clinton last night, a result that was quickly repeated by NPR, and all of the major networks. A google search about 11 pm resulted in no less than 20 news articles (most from television stations) reporting that HRC had won. Except that she did not.

With 3371 of 3371 precints reporting the actual vote tallies are as follows:
Clinton, Hillary 395,235 48.0%
Obama, Barack 405,591 49.2%
Edwards, John 16,743 2.0%
Spelbring, Ralph 224 .0%
Kucinich, Dennis 820 .1%
Richardson, Bill 690 .1%
Biden, Joe 629 .1%
Dodd, Christopher 249 .0%
Gravel, Mike 438 .1%

In what may portend bad news for the Republicans in November, more than 200,000 votes were cast on the Democratic side than on the Republican side.

see also:
official missouri election results

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

super phat tuesday

Time to gunny up the gumbo, spice up the red beans and rice, and get jiggy 'wid it.

Election workers prepare for voters at Westport Roanaoke Community Center, Kansas City, Missouri.

Ballots are placed in an electronic voting machine to be tallied.

Thunderstorms rolled in the area shortly after polls opened. Rain is expected to change to snow later in the day.

Commuters are forced to juggle work loads with voting times and other commitments. Some day you'll be able to vote on the weekends or over the course of several days such as is done in Florida.

One of the last voters today at a polling station at Central United Methodist Church, Kansas City, MO

Last minute voter at St. Paul's Episcopal Day School, Kansas City, MO

A snowstorm was keeping many folks home from election night watch parties. Although a rally on the Missouri side brought out several hundred supporters, this party, scheduled by Kansas supporters had no attendees. They may have jumped on the Mardi Gras pub crawl buses to celebrate their caucus victory.

Monday, February 4, 2008

18 and no?

John McCain, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and perhaps even Barack Obama could have wins in 18 primaries after tomorrow and still not have a firm grip on the nomination. Less so for McCain, as he will likely emerge as the Republican nominee. However, it remains to be seen if Americans can be bullied into voting McGruff the Crime Dog into the big Dog House on Pennsylvania Avenue. You never know how the dawg will play against the Dems, especially when you still hear people say things like, I don't know if the country is ready for a_____ [insert slur here masquerading as empathy] to be President.

OK then I'll say it if you won't. I don't know if the country is ready for a former prisoner-of-war to be President.