PavCo Multimedia Synergistics Weblog

May 31, 2008

Obama’s Running Mate

Filed under: humor,Politics — CPav @ 11:07 pm
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The Huffington Post’s Chris Kelly has used the process of elimination to identify Barack Obama’s perfect running mate.
 
 
 
The 300 Project: 33/108

Unifying the Party

Filed under: Politics — CPav @ 11:04 pm
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We’re fostering a litter of puppies this weekend, and the city of Ellisville had the grand opening of our long-overdue Public Works facility, so I was in and out all day, but watched as much of the Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee hearings today on the resolution Florida and Michigan primaries.

For those who haven’t been following, both Michigan and Florida moved their primaries earlier in the season, against the warnings of the RBC, which informed them both that their primaries wouldn’t count, and their delegates wouldn’t be seated if they didn’t proceed on the DNC schedule. They chose not to. At that time (last Fall), all of the candidates agreed to not campaign in either state. All of the Democratic candidates except for Hillary Clinton and Chris Dodd took their names off the Michigan ballot. At the time, Clinton was quoted as saying that obviously those primaries wouldn’t count.

Fast forward a few months, and the Clinton campaign, no longer the presumptive nominee, ignored their previous statements and elevated the denial of Michigan and Florida delegates to a First Ammendment issue. Clinton also hyperbolically equated the penalties to voter suppression during the Jim Crow era and more recently in Zimbabwe.

Neither state could work out a re-vote proposal, so it fell to the RBC to decide what was to do, so fast forward again to today, and the public meeting to decide what was to be done with Florigan. Barack Obama, now the party’s presumptive nominee, urged his supporters to not demonstrate outside the meeting. The Clinton campaign bused their supporters in. Those protesters proved to be a disruptive force in the meeting, constantly heckling the speakers and at one point engaging one of the women on the committee, who implored them to act like mature adults. They heckled that too.

Actually, the Flor part was pretty easy, as both candidates’ names appeared on the ballot, so there was some indication as to the voters’ preferences. It can be (and was) argued that at the time of the primary (early January), Hillary Clinton was much better known in Florida than Barack Obama, so his inability to campaign there might have thrown some votes Clinton’s way that she might not have gotten had the voters gotten to know him. It could also be argued (and was) that some voters, told that their votes weren’t going to count, simply stayed home, but this would have applied to both candidates, and all of the others who were still in the race at the time (which, since it was the beginning of the race, was pretty much all of them).

Perhaps the most compelling argument against penalizing Florida was that the primary date was not set by the Florida Democratic committee, but by the state’s legislature, which is Republican-controlled. There was really nothing the Florida Democrats could have done. In the end, a motion was made to seat all of the Florida delegation with no penalties. That motion did not carry, so a new motion was made to seat the entire delegation, but to give them only a half vote each. That motion carried.
That penalty, it should be noted, is exactly what the Republicans did to penalize the Florida delegates to their convention as well.

It should be noted that most of the debate between the members of the committee was held during an extremely long “lunch” break. Individual members were allowed to make statements as to their support or non-support of the motions, but it was pretty much stage-managed to a large degree, at least as to which motions would be made and how.

Then came the -igan portion of the day. Michigan was more problematic, in that they didn’t have the whole Republican legislature to blame, and there was only one name on the ballot that was still in the race. The Clinton camp, of course, felt that she should get full credit for all of the votes cast for her, and that Obama should get all of the votes cast for him, which meant none. This despite anecdotal evidence that many of the “Undecided” voters voted that way because they were not able to vote for Obama, and that many more Obama supporters stayed home, since they couldn’t vote for him.

In fact, once it became clear that a re-vote was not possible, the Michigan Democratic Committee started doing research and came up with a delegate split that they felt accurately represented the wishes of the voters of Michigan, and proposed a 69/59 split of the state’s 128 delegates. Again, an initial motion was made to seat the Michigan delegation in full (with the “uncommitted” delegates free to vote for whoever they want), it was voted down, and a motion was made to seat the delegation as indicated by the state party, with the same half vote per delegate that Florida got, and that motion carried.

The Clinton campaign, in the person of Harold Ickes, a senior Clinton adviser as well as a member of the RBC, strongly objected, spewed some vitriol, claiming the RBC was “hijacking” the democratic process and reserving Senator Clinton’s rights to appeal to the Credentials Committee. All this over 4 delegates, representing 2 votes at the convention, due to the 50% penalty imposed. And all this despite the fact that last Fall, Senator Clinton said that none of the votes would count, and Harold Ickes himself voted for seating no delegates back when it appeared it wouldn’t matter to his candidate.

Significantly, another Clinton aide, whose name I can’t find right now, stood apart from Ickes and supported the Michigan compromise for the good of the party. In fact, most pre-meeting wisdom had Hillary Clinton with 13 supporters on the RBC, to Obama’s 8 and 9 uncommitted.

But when push came to shove, the Michigan compromise passed 19-8 (3 delegates couldn’t vote according to committee rules), meaning at least 5 of Clinton’s supporters presumably put the party before the candidate. According to MSNBC’s First Watch political blog, there were actually enough votes to pass Obama’s preferred 50/50 split of Michigan delegates by a vote or two, but in the interest of party unity, they agreed to the 69/59 split to pass it by a larger majority.

In the end, the Clinton campaign ended up looking like pouting children and sore losers, due in part to the behavior of Harold Ickes and their bused in protesters. Barack Obama, due in part to his fairly commanding lead in the delegate count, was able to be magnanimous and concede some Michigan delegates to Clinton.
 
 
 
The 300 Project: 32/107

Lost Videos

Filed under: Entertainment,TV — CPav @ 9:37 pm
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I’ve had this sitting in my Google Notebook for a couple weeks. This video, courtesy of YouTube user lostuncut takes the opening theme music and style of Battlestar Galactica and plugs in video and credits for Lost.

Probably only amusing for fans of both shows, but funny for those of us in that category.

And, for those who are still trying to figure out how all the flash-forwards on Lost fit together, here’s a video that puts them in chronological order:

 
 
 
The 300 Project: 31/106

ONYD: John McCain’s Drawdown

Filed under: Politics — CPav @ 9:26 pm
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I actually published my last post because I wanted to do this one, and thought that I should address the Memorial Day blunder by Obama first.

Much has been made this week of John McCain’s observation that it’s been over two years since Barack Obama has been to Iraq. That’s undoubtedly true of many members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, but it’s probably at least a sound theory that someone campaigning to be president probably should get over there and see what’s happening on the ground. McCain even offered to serve as Obama’s personal tour guide which probably isn’t that great an idea politically, as it plays directly into McCain’s attempt to portray his foreign policy expertise as his greatest strength.

That expertise came into question early in the campaign, when Senator Joe Liebermann had to remind McCain who in Iraq liked their neighbors in Iran and who didn’t, and it came further under fire this week with McCain’s statement on the levels of troops and violence in Iraq.

“I can tell you that it is succeeding. I can look you in the eye and tell you it’s succeeding. We have drawn down to pre-surge levels. Basra, Mosul and now Sadr City are quiet and it’s long and it’s hard and it’s tough and there will be setbacks,” McCain said to reporters on Thursday. Unfortunately for him, the general pre-surge level is considered to be 130,000 troops.

McCain tried to backtrack without admitting he was wrong by saying that he was actually referring to the troop levels following the current rotations, which are set to be completed by July. Unfortunately, that didn’t help much; following the return of the two additional brigades in July (5 were sent as part of the surge, 3 are already back), there will be approximately 140,000 troops still there.

McCain’s camp still didn’t back down, instead using their “explanation” to take another shot at Obama; spokesman Tucker Bounds said, “What informed people understand, John McCain included, is that American troops are not even close to Surge levels. Three of the five Army ‘Surge’ brigades have been withdrawn and additional Marines that were initially deployed for the ‘Surge’ have come home as well — the remaining two brigades will be home in July. Talk about a political stunt, it’s sending out campaign surrogates to parse words about a topic Barack Obama has no experience with, and has shown zero interest in learning about.”

Well, thanks, Tucker, but that isn’t what McCain said. And when your people tried to explain it, they played it down as a semantic argument over verb tense. That’s not the same thing as “we meant it was lower than the surge”. That’s a different statement entirely.

And that bit about Mosul being quiet? Three suicide bombings in and around Mosul on Thursday left 30 people dead. Hopefully Mr. McCain’s plans are not to bring that type of quiet to the U.S.

Oh, and Mr. Bounds? Just because Obama hasn’t shown an interest in learning about Iraq from John McCain, that doesn’t mean he’s not interested in learning about it. He probably just wants the truth.
 
 
 
The 300 Project: 30/105

Obama’s Holocaust Blunder

Filed under: Politics — CPav @ 9:00 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

You’ll note that this post doesn’t carry an ONYD tag on it. I’ll get to that in a minute.

There have been a number of misstatements and missteps in this primary season, by all the candidates. And the severity of those misstatements and missteps vary based on who a given observer supports. Hillary Clinton’s “hardworking white voters” and Barack Obama’s “clinging to God and guns” were both foot-in-mouth moments. There are, however, more serious misstatements being made by the campaigns as well: John McCain cannot confuse Shia and Sunni if he wants to be elected based on his foreign policy acumen. Ditto Hillary Clinton promoting her own foreign policy experience through the repeated recounting of a life-threatening trip across an airstrip which could be demonstrated on video as not being anywhere near as dangerous as she remembered.

Last Monday, during a Memorial Day speech, Barack Obama made a statement which some would put into the former category and others would lump into the latter. While recounting a family story involving his great-uncle’s experiences in World War II, Senator Obama indicated that his uncle helped liberate Auschwitz.

The commentators went wild. “He doesn’t know history!” they said. “He’s lying to cover up for his own military shortcomings!” Evidently Auschwitz was liberated by the Russians. (Being a bad American, I didn’t realize this off the top of my head either.) But, as Hillary Clinton really did get off a plane in Bosnia, Obama’s uncle really did help liberate a concentration camp. Just not that concentration camp. Charles T. Payne was part of the 89th Infantry, which liberated Buchenwald. When the error was pointed out to him, Obama issued an immediate correction.

In my opinion, this should have been a non-story. Those trying to elevate this to the level of a Bosnia airstrip or a Shiite/Sunni issue are missing a really major distinction. Senators Clinton and McCain have, to varying degrees, tried to distinguish themselves from Senator Obama based on their supposed greater foreign relations cred. But when one is basing a portion of that cred on an event which happened much differently than she claimed, and when the other doesn’t know the difference between two warring factions in the most high-profile hotspot in the world, that foreign policy expertise has to be called into question.

Barack Obama is not running for president based on his knowledge of the Holocaust. And while the historical facts are indisputable, and while it’s hoped that our next president will have more intellectual curiosity than the current one, confusing Auschwitz and Buchenwald do not, in my opinion, invalidate the message of what was being said. It’s like if I were to arguing with my wife (which, of course, never happens), and I said “Your statement that you haven’t had beef in six months is wrong, because you had Prime Rib when we ate out on Tuesday” and she based her reply on the fact that we ate out on Wednesday, and had dinner at home on Tuesday.

And to the commentators who said that Obama was trying to use the Holocaust for political advantage: Get real. Using the Holocaust for political advantage would be speaking to a Jewish group and saying “If you don’t vote for me, the Holocaust will happen again.”

So let’s all be thankful that no American politician would be so craven as try to use fear to get elected.
 
 
 
The 300 Project: 29/104

Bill Clinton and Barack Obama: An Imaginary Conversation

I was looking for this for my wife, and figured I’d share it with everyone. This is a piece by columnist Maureen Dowd, presenting an imaginary conversation between Bill Clinton and Barack Obama regarding the possibility of Hillary Clinton serving as Vice President under Barack Obama.

 
 
 

The 300 Project: 28/103

May 24, 2008

ONYD: Assassination Comment

Filed under: Politics — CPav @ 11:49 pm
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Okay. So I just endorsed Barack Obama, and now I’m going to take up for Hillary Clinton.

For those who haven’t heard, Senator Clinton was taking part in an interview yesterday that was being webcast, and was asked about staying in the primary race. She attempted to make a point that in the past the primaries had gone long into the year, and said

“My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of the June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. I don’t understand it.”

That’s not the ONYD moment. No, the ONYD goes to all of the talking heads, all of the O’Reillys and Matthews and Olbermanns who devoted hour upon rabid hour exorciating Senator Clinton for implying that she was staying in the race because Barack Obama might be assassinated in June.

This is, of course, the most ludicrous thing I’ve heard in a season of ludicrous comments. Anybody with half a brain can tell that what she was trying to do was make a shorthand reference to a common point in time that a good portion of her target audience could identify immediately. To infer anything into her comments is simply ridiculous.

And as amused as I was at Olbermann’s “Special Comment” last week when he took President Bush to task over his golf comments, last night’s anti-Clinton rant was simply embarrassing. To deliberately interpret an innocent comment as Olbermann did and then blow it up as the most egregious political comment of a generation was wrongheaded and ridiculous.

The 300 Project: 27/102

My Vote

I try to be fair and balanced in everything I do. I came into the political season with an open mind. I don’t believe in political parties, except as an indication of a person’s general philosophies. To say “Democrats are x” or “Republicans are y” has slightly more meaning than saying “redheads are x” or “left-handers are y”, inasmuch as Democrats or Republicans have chosen which party to join, presumably on the basis of common beliefs and goals.

I have chosen not to affiliate myself with a particular party. Oh, I suspect that somewhere in my early days as a voter, I put my name on the Democrat rolls; these were the days of Reagan’s ascendancy, and I was sure he was going to get us into World War III. But I have never campaigned as a member of a particular party (at the local level, it doesn’t matter, at least in our city), and, if asked, I identify myself as an “small ‘i'” independent.

Which is a long way of going around to say that I came into the political season with an open mind. (Actually, it’s a long way to come back around to it, as I started this post that way.)

On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee got my interest quickly, as he made a couple of appearances on radio shows I listen to, and displayed a sharp and often self-deprecating sense of humor, but the more I learned of his beliefs and background, the less he appealed to me. Having seen more than one friend (and my self) laid off while the CEO who presided over the dismantling of the company got stock options and a golden parachute, I had little interest in Mitt Romney, and Rudy Giuliani has always struck me as abrasive and one-note, benefiting from his “leadership” during 9/11, while dodging responsibility for the fact that it was his prior decision-making that crippled emergency response on that horrible day.

Which pretty much left John McCain. John McCain, who was an intriguing candidate against George W. Bush back in 2000, but who has fallen lockstep behind the President since. John McCain, who has abrogated his much-vaunted maverick status through his wrong-headed support for the war in Iraq, and whose “straight-talk express” has seemingly come derailed under the weight of trying to appease both the religious right and the middle-of-the-road independents that the Republicans will need to win in November.

On the Democrat side, Hillary Clinton was the presumptive nominee, and I didn’t have much problem with that, though there were potential problems in that Senator Clinton was a fairly divisive figure; she was one of those politicians that people either loved or hated, with very little in between. I had pretty fond memories of the Clinton era, and have always thought that Bill Clinton got a raw deal. It would have been interesting, given all that’s come out about the current administration, to see what would have happened if Congressional Democrats would have had the same taste for blood and tenacity to go after W the way the Republicans did Clinton.

Obama was a fairly unknown quantity. He promised (promises) change and hasn’t become entrenched in the ways of Washington, DC, so he may well be in a position to bring about some of the reforms he promises. But whether he has the connections or the pull to actually do so remains to be seen.

As the campaign progressed, though, Clinton and Obama distinguished themselves to me, in opposite ways. While Senator Clinton is certainly to be praised for her stick-to-itiveness and determination, I’ve become disenchanted by the constantly shifting rules, benchmarks, and goallines. Last year when the DNC penalized Michigan and Florida for moving their primary dates, Senator Clinton observed that the two primaries were obviously meaningless and the votes wouldn’t count. She expressed no problem with this. In fact, her reaction was just the opposite. Now that she needs those votes to bolster her tenuous and ridiculous claim that she’s leading in the popular vote, she’s comparing the votes’ not counting to the civil rights movement. She says that the only thing that matters is the popular vote, but her only hope of getting the Democratic nomination at this point is to get the superdelegates to overturn the popular vote in her favor. And Bill Clinton, who’s part and parcel of any Hillary Clinton presidency, has, quite frankly, embarrassed himself and whittled away much of the good will he had as a result of the relative prosperity of his tenure, and the crashing disaster of what followed.

Obama, on the other hand, has been gracious and eloquent, and has impressed me quite a bit. Contrary to what the media and pollsters might have us believe, intelligence is not a bad thing, and while none of the candidates have any real claim to being the “guy (or gal) next door”, Obama seems to be at least within striking distance of remembering what it’s like to be a common person. For all of Clinton’s “I’m fighting for you” rhetoric the past few weeks, she doesn’t even know how to work a convenience store coffee machine. Yeah, I’m probably making too much of that, but heck, it resonated.

Yes, Obama’s speeches have been somewhat lacking in specifics, but those are there on his web site. In these days of the 30-second sound byte, there’s no time for specifics anyway, and in our YouTube environment, if you say too much, then individual sentences will be brought back to crucify you.

And let’s be real here. The description of the job may be “the most powerful man in the world”, but that’s not really true; the successful President will surround himself with knowledgeable experts and actually listen to their advice, not clear them out the moment they say something he disagrees with. The successful President will actively seek knowledge, not just those facts that either support his already-formed beliefs, or those that can be manipulated to do so. The successful President will build consensus, not division, and will not take the “my way or the highway” approach that has been part of American politics for too long now.

And I believe that the current candidate who is best positioned to do all of this is Barack Obama.

The 300 Project: 26/101

May 23, 2008

Passing the Hat

This is the hundredth post of the the year for this blog, and takes me 1/3 of the way to my goal for the year. In thinking about it, I’ve been juggling a number of potential subjects for this post, from an official statement of who I’m supporting for in the Presidential race (for those of you blind squirrels that still haven’t found that particular nut) to a comment on Senator Clinton’s “assassination” comment today (or, more to the point, the commentators’ obsession over it), to those three movie reviews that I keep promising (for movies which, let’s face it, aren’t even showing any more).

But I figured I’d go back to the basics, and the reason that I started the mailing list which became this blog all those years ago.

Before the advent of videotape and dvds, before cable tv, I spent one teenaged summer in the dark of the movie theater, repeatedly watching Raiders of the Lost Ark, the first in a trilogy of action movies created by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas and starring Harrison Ford as the globetrotting archaeologist Indiana Jones. All told, I saw Raiders thirteen times though, interestingly, I don’t know that I’ve sat down and watched it in its entirety since.

So it is that I’ve been waiting in great anticipation for this week’s debut of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I’m man enough to admit that when I first saw the trailer, I teared up a bit. But after that first trailer, I tried not to see the additional ads, tried to avoid spoilers and summaries and reviews. I wanted to go into it with some of the same unknowns that I had when first I saw Raiders more than a quarter century ago.

I took the kids to a late show last night. I was ready to enjoy it, but braced myself to be disappointed. Though I hadn’t read any reviews, I could tell by the headlines that they were coming across as mixed. I was just hoping that I wouldn’t be forced by my basic honesty (yep, imagine that: a basically honest politician) to join the mixed bunch.

I wasn’t.

The movie starts off with the now-traditional fade-in from the Paramount mountain logo to some sort of mountain in the setting of the movie (in Temple of Doom, it was an engraving on a gong), and we’re off to the races. Ford’s Dr. Jones doesn’t show up for a few minutes, and in my opinion, his first appearance was mishandled by the usually sure-handed Spielberg, but that’s quickly forgotten, as Jones and a comrade face down a group of Russian soldiers (led by Cate Blanchett’s Dr. Colonel Irina Spalko), looking for a particular crate housed in a government warehouse. (No, not that crate)

It’s 1957, and Jones finds himself caught up in the Red Scare, attempting to elude both the FBI and the Russians, and doing so for the most part, aided by Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf), a Brando-esque young man (think Wild Bunch Brando, not mummu-wearing Brando) whose mother has sent him to Jones for help.

Before long, Jones and Williams are off to South America, where they battle natives, Russians, and the obligatory swarm of creepy crawly critters, and reunite with mutual loved ones (in the form of John Hurt’s “Ox” Oxley and Karen Allen’s Marion Ravenwood). Everything speeds forward with the breakneck pace that’s expected of an Indiana Jones movie (and the slew of imitators that followed), before wrapping up in the de rigeur pyrotechnic spectacle.

There is much that is largely familiar about Crystal Skull, and that’s fitting for an Indian Jones movie. The originals harkened back to the Saturday morning serials of the 30s and 40s, and this movie harkens back to the earlier ones, as well as other Spielberg and Lucas movies. Those so inclined will pick apart this movie and point to specific scenes from earlier films and say “well, this is a ripoff of that Raiders scene”, or “That one was done in Empire Strikes Back, without acknowledging that the scene in Raiders owed a debt to Flash Gordon and Empire was only doing what Stagecoach did thirty years earlier. Nineteen years has passed since the last movie (the same amount of time that has passed in real life), and as a nod to the times, Crystal Skull has undertones of early Sci Fi (Indy was brought in to consult on the Roswell incident), as well as the more overt Red Scare references.

A couple of scenes push the envelope of suspension of disbelief (Mutt and the monkeys), and ever-so-briefly strain the audience’s good will, but by and large, the movie is a rousing thrill ride, and serves to possibly pass the fedora to a new generation of adventurer. I started off the movie with an ear-to-ear grin, and it didn’t leave my face for hours after.

The 300 Project: 25/100

May 22, 2008

Keeping Up With Jones

Filed under: Entertainment,Movies,trivia — CPav @ 6:37 am
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Yeah, I know, I didn’t get the posts up I expected to last weekend; Sunday (and the days that followed) turned out to be even busier than I expected. In the meantime, to celebrate the return of Indiana Jones, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has an interactive Indy quiz.

Take it here.

The 300 Project: 24/99

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