Archive for April, 2008


Did Rev. Wright’s Recent Comments Hurt Obama?

April 30, 2008

Well, maybe if you ask that question, like…

50,000 times.

This is a media-driven controversy now.  The ironic paradox, I suppose, is found in watching the pundits on the cable news networks spending countless hours discussing how said countless hours of coverage will effect Obama politically.   It’d be a kind of a self fulfilling prophecy made effective by the principle of social proof; if enough people are talking about how it (the controversy) hurts Obama, then the impression is created to the casual observer that there is something in it all that should hurt him. 

The reality outside of the bubble is, of course, we’re still left where we started on this story, which is the same relatively weak guilt-by-association meme that’s been there all along:   Rev. Wright says controversial things, and he’s Obama’s former pastor.   Sure, there may be some arguments there about judgement in churches, and you can take that as you may.  But there really isn’t anything new here that moves that ball otherwise. 

But unfortunately, the prospect of this prophecy being effective has forced Obama to come out and make a statement on it and in turn adding to the drama a bit further.   And as someone in one of the plethora of cable news “panel’s” pointed out, it is unlikely to end there, since they’ll undoubtedly stick a microphone in Wright’s face asking for a response.   And so on…

I’ll hand these media talking heads one thing though, in that they sure have an uncanny way of glossing over their own role in the whole thing.

For related reading, Glenn Greenwald sarcastically opines Why the Jeremiah Wright story deserves more attention , and HotAir pointed out that Amy Holmes may have predicted over a month ago that this circus was all part of Obama’s plan (I’m not sure if I’ve reached that conclusion yet, but it is interesting). Political Blogger Alliance


Phony Flag Flap Fixation

April 27, 2008

If you won’t vote for Obama because he doesn’t wear a flag pin, what does that say about you?

I only ask, because it seems that Obama had to address this issue one more time* on Friday.  With everything that’s going on in this country, whether it’s the economy, Iraq, energy, health care, or anything else, I can’t believe that someone would actually bring this up as a dealbreaker. 

*The media obviously feels this is important to people, as this is the story they gleaned from the Kokomo town hall. Political Blogger Alliance


Official Gas Price Rant Thread

April 22, 2008

First off, name this graph:


Read the rest of this entry ?


Filed Under “What The….?”

April 20, 2008

I can’t believe people get paid (a lot more than me, I would guess) to do this stuff:

I’ll just never understand.


Obligatory “Obama Flipped Hillary The Bird” Post

April 18, 2008

I should feel ashamed of myself for even entertaining this lunacy here in the Chamber, but since the story appears to have gone viral and somewhat mainstream, and I’ve spent a few moments commenting on it on other blogs, I might as well drag it in here for the WPPBA and the rest of my visitors.

Usually an analysis is followed by a verdict, but for this I’m going to do it backwards.  Bottom line:  NO, Obama did not subtly flip Hillary Clinton the bird in his speech yesterday

Good grief.  As if the premise alone doesn’t work sufficiently against the accusation, check out the evidence (h/t Balloon Juice):

Nothing, however, was going to stop both those in the Hillary camp and those on the right from seeing what they wanted to see, and declaring Obama’s actions to be childish and indecent.  One pro-Hillary blogger was so obsessed with it that he/she sat down in front of their computer and painstakingly composed a replay video of the event, complete with slo-mo and closeups:

One of my favorite hangouts, Hot Air, actually went from initially labelling the scrutiny “moronic” to, a few hours later, posting a thread about how Obama might have “let his guard down” and how the crowd “clearly recognized it”:

Obama has a pretty satisfied look on his face afterwards, which makes it look a little more purposeful than not. It’s subtle enough to have deniability for anyone who might get offended, but clear enough for his followers to enjoy the moment of disrespect towards Hillary. And who hasn’t wanted to flip off a Clinton at some time in their lives?

And Larry Johnson completely lost me as a fan as he spent the better part of a day and posted not one, not two or three, but four times making the accusation.  And this is a guy who used to work for the CIA.* 

How embarrassing.

*Update:  My apologies, as those posts weren’t posted by Johnson himself, but rather contributors to his blog.  But still… Political Blogger Alliance


You Know, Those Philly Debate Questions, Maybe Not A Bad Thing

April 17, 2008

I had to work today, so en route I had a chance to listen to the righty talk radio personalities gloat over what happened last night in the Democrat’s debate, as well as their mocking of the various lefty blogs and op-ed columnists’ whining about it.   So, I figured that I’d check out some more of the reactions and post a few thoughts…

I’ll admit that, at first, I was pretty dismayed that ABC’s Charles Gibson and George Stephanopolous spent so much time focusing on the sort of trivial tabloid-esque “issues” such as flag pins, Bosnia gaffes, and yet another trip down Wright avenue, instead of focusing on the actual issues (you know, the ones that the candidates feature on their campaign sites, like Iraq, immigration, national security, etc.).  And throughout the day on memeorandum, I saw plenty of commentary from blogs echoing that sentiment.   But the more I thought about and read and digested all this, the closer I came to the conclusion that this wasn’t really that bad.  In fact, maybe Stephanopoulos and Gibson did the Dems a big favor.

This epiphany came when I revisited No More Mister Nice Blog, which had a post titled “THE REPUBLICAN TALKING-POINT DUMP, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE DEMOCRATIC DEBATE“.  I came to realize that the title described what happened pretty accurately.  If there are these various talking points out there (and Hannity won’t shut up about them, trust me), wouldn’t it be better to just put it all on the table, let them respond to them on the public stage, get it out of their collective systems and then put it behind them sooner rather than later?   If, as Rush Limbaugh mentioned today, those things are going to come up in the general election, would it be such a bad thing to have addressed them preemptively?  In the very least, it’s practice (for both of them), and if they weren’t paying attention to this stuff before, they sure as heck will now, so it would make it harder for the 527’s and others to blindside them with it and force them to waste countless dollars shooting back when they’d otherwise be spending it making their distinctions known on the real stuff.

Also, this is the 21st debate.  I suppose one could make the argument that the majority of the policy differences between Obama and Clinton have been covered by now.  From that perspective, it’s a little harder to view the first 45 minutes of the session as a complete waste of time. 

So, how did Obama handle it?  Fairly well, in my opinion, although he could have done better.  It was clear that he really didn’t want to go down this road, ’cause at times he didn’t look entirely comfortable and even slightly perturbed.   But he made it through, and at this point what he should do is brush it off…

…and move on. Political Blogger Alliance


Prediction: Debates Will Cost McCain The General Election

April 14, 2008

Yesterday, I read a multi-page analysis from the Politico’s John F. Harris & Jim Vandehei, detailing the political dangers facing Barack Obama in the general election should he win the nomination to represent the Democrats.  The piece predictably highlighted the various controversies and preconceived weaknesses that will supposedly continue to haunt him as the November vote looms, and suggested that the Clinton camp has restrained itself thus far in exploiting the bulk of it:

Republicans will also ruthlessly exploit openings that Clinton — in the genteel confines of an intraparty contest — never could. Top targets: Obama’s radioactive personal associations, his liberal ideology, his exotic life story, his coolly academic and elitist style.

The popular consensus I’ve gleaned over the last few months is that the majority of this war will be waged on the new-media battlefields of YouTube, blogs, and talk radio, with a mix of ads coming from agents of independent actors like 527 groups. Obama will be picked to shreds while McCain mostly sits on the sidelines, and the end result will be a disaster for the Democrats…or so the meme goes.

So, in light of the fact that I’ve seen scarce commentary on it, I’m going to go ahead and count my chickens before they hatch here for a moment, and predict that while Obama will certainly take his lumps, he will eventually find himself in the White House by utilizing a more old-fashioned forum: The presidential debates.


Now, I can imagine what my readers might be thinking. “Um, Chen? By most accounts, Kerry won the debates in 2004, and he still lost. Debates are overrated”.  

That’s a fair point, but I should probably point out that we’re talking John Kerry vs. George W. Bush here.  It was like watching a spelling bee for 1st graders.  Sure, somebody won, but it was pretty tough to come away from it feeling particularly impressed.  They might as well have skipped them, quite frankly.

This time around, however, the stage is set a bit differently.  On the one hand, you have a young, highly educated, charismatic and articulate public speaker.   On the other, an aged, quiet and rather uninspiring man that is developing a track record of confusing basic facts (hence, my picture of Lieberman whispering into McCain’s ear; something he won’t have the benefit of come debate time) related to things that are considered his strengths (i.e. national security and foreign policy).   This could be the making of a political wrecking ball;  a situation where one candidate outperforms the other to the point of making him look like he doesn’t deserve to be on the same stage (as opposed to the 2004 situation, where neither of them appeared to deserve it).   Picture the highlight reels playing for days, complete with detailed analysis of the rout by the punditry and plenty of still shots of McCain’s scowls and assorted confused looks.   

I don’t think it’s unrealistic to think that a strong showing such as this could overshadow many of the swipes that had been taken at him by the various surrogates and hacks.  The visual of a head-to-head comparison can be a powerful, memorable and well-publicised event, after all.   It certainly could be enough to tip the scale in a very close election, so, I’m putting this prediction out there.  Or, to channel Hans and FranzListen to me now and believe me later:  McCain gets smoked in the debates, and it costs him the general.

BTW-  Like all threads here in the Chamber, the comments section is left open indefinitely, so feel free to come back and mock (or praise) me right here come November.   Of course, in the unlikely event that Hillary gets the nod, I’ll have no choice but to acknowledge my little jinx, and post an update. Political Blogger Alliance



Send ‘Em To Boot Camp

April 13, 2008

I don’t watch a whole lot of daytime TV anymore, but I was pretty intrigued by this story I discovered over at Skippy’s place:

The TV talk show Dr. Phil McGraw confirmed on Saturday the fact that its staff bailed out of Florida jail one of the girls involved in the violent video posted on YouTube. The video depicted several teen girls beating one of their classmates while filming her.

Mercades Nichols is one of the eight teen girls who face charges in the case of the vicious beating posted on YouTube. She was bailed out by a representative of the show on Friday night, reported.

The bails for the violent girls were set on Friday and they are ranging from $30,000 to $37,000. The girls are aged from 14 to 18.

The bailing out was confirmed via e-mail by Terri Corigliano, a show spokeswoman. In his e-mail, Corigliano explained that the show has previously helped other “guests and potential guests” of the show with different needs, but in this case “certain staff members” who were in the process of booking guests for the Dr. Phil McGraw show went a bit too far and broke the rules of the show.

Initially, I thought that this was pretty outrageous, given the fact that Dr. Phil was essentially giving these kids the fame and notoriety that they had craved by posting this heinous stunt on YouTube in the first place.  The more I thought about it, however, the more I felt that perhaps my views were being tainted by my utter dislike for Dr. Phil himself (I’d say that I had considered him to be one of the top 10 most annoying people on TV, right in front or behind Ryan Seacrest, depending on my mood).  Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I would be OK with this sort of sacrifice to the almighty TV ratings god if, and only if, I knew that after being subjected to a jeering studio audience, the kids would eventually be confronted by this guy:


John Kerry Gets It

April 6, 2008

I’ve never been a big fan of John Kerry (in fact, I remember rejoicing the fact that he wouldn’t be running for president this year), but Mr. “Reporting For Duty” said something today that I thought I’d comment on, since lately I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time blogging, debating and discussing the McCain “100 years in Iraq” issue.

First, the Think Progress link: Kerry: McCain’s ‘100 Years’ Remarks Show A ‘Fundamental Misunderstanding Of Iraq Itself’ 

The vid:

I say that Kerry “gets it” in the sense that he understands that Clinton and Obama really shouldn’t be issuing misleading charges that McCain wants 100 years of war in Iraq, but that they should instead be stressing that the insistence on establishing permanent bases there just might mean that’s essentially what the result would be.  He could have done a better job making the point, actually, because there is some data that backs this up pretty well:

The belief that the United States plans to have permanent bases in Iraq is highly correlated with support for attacks on U.S.-led forces. Among those who believe this, 68 percent approve of attacks. Among those who believe that the United States plans to withdraw once Iraq is stabilized, only 34 percent approve of attacks. Beliefs about whether the United States would respond to an Iraqi government request to withdraw follow the same pattern.

I suppose I could ask how many troops have died because of rhetoric like McCain’s, but I won’t go there.   It would appear that perhaps the “permanent base” propaganda is a little more dangerous than the “anti-war” propaganda that war supporters consistently lament, however.  But I’ll let my readers draw their own conclusions.

Now, I know that Maverick qualified his “100 years” comment by saying “As long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed, it’s fine with me”, but based on the sentiment in the region, does McCain have any reason to believe that the hostilities will stop anytime soon?  And I’m not suggesting that he’d be able to say exactly when here. I’m talking more broadly about a rational assessment on whether or not we can expect the hostilities to stop at all if our intention really is to establish permanent bases, and if we can, would it come months, years, or even decades from now?  That’s not an unfair question to pose to someone who his maintaining that a 100 year presence is possible, and it should be posed.   What Kerry did here was put the debate over what McCain suggested in the proper framework, and put the ball in McCain’s court… but it should have another follow up question attached:

“If a 100 year presence in Iraq is fine by you, on the condition that the shooting had stopped, how much of America’s time, money and bloodshed would be acceptable to achieve that condition, assuming it’s possible?”

Update: To reiterate the point that stating a policy of permanent presence is counter-productive to what we’re trying to accomplish over there, take it from this guy:

CentCom’s planning director, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, has said the building of permanent bases would not be in the US interest.

“We must continue to show that we will not become a permanent force of occupation… because we need to operate in that region in an environment of consent,” Jane’s Defence Weekly quoted him as saying. Political Blogger Alliance


CNN’s War On Autism

April 3, 2008

I often have CNN on in the background while blogging on my laptop, and I couldn’t help but notice that since I got home from work, they’ve been talking about autism for the past 2 hours.  Nonstop.  Anderson Cooper, Sanjay Gupta, and, just a few moments ago, Larry King asked the parents of 6 autistic children why they keep reproducing (can I get a *gasp*?).   And here is a current screenshot from the front page of their website:


Look, I’m as sympathetic to the plight of autistic kids and their parents as the next guy, but seriously…2 hours?  Is it Autism Awareness Month or something?  Maybe I should check….

Yep, it is.

But still, what’s going on?  Someone high up in the media food chain obviously made a decision to launch a mini-crusade here.  More searching….


3/14/2008 – CNN Announces Global Coverage for First World Autism Awareness Day Multiplatform Effort Will Report on Science, Intervention and Resources for Parents on Wednesday, April 2(there’s a lot more than just 2 hours)


How To Ask Chelsea About Lewinsky

April 2, 2008

I couldn’t help but notice that there has been a considerable amount of media attention given to these Lewinsky-related questions that are being posed to Chelsea Clinton by college students lately.   It came up again today:

Student: “Right but I, because fortunately or unfortunately he is the president, or was president at the time so as American people, I feel that it is our business.”

Clinton: “Well sir, I respectfully disagree. I think it is something that is personal to my family. I’m sure there are things that are personal to your family that you dont think are anyone else’s business either… but also on a larger point, I don’t think you should vote for or against my mother because of my father.”

That, of course, is a dodge. 

I suppose Chelsea can continue to evade the question with the “none of your business” angle as long as she wants, and if the amount of press coverage stays the same every time it comes up, it’s likely that she’ll be dodging it in this manner a couple more times.

Putting aside any reference to the old “vast right wing conspiracy” gaffe, my suggestion to those who would want to pin Chelsea into a position where she would have to at least address the issue would be to preface the question with something that Hillary said a short while ago:

“We don’t have a choice when it comes to our relatives,” she said. “We have a choice when it comes to our pastors and the churches we attend. Everyone will have to decide these matters for themselves. They are obviously very personal matters.”

If Wright were her pastor, she said, “the choice would be clear.”

Emphasizing that she was saying only how she would have dealt with a minister such as Wright, Clinton added: “I don’t think that’s negative.”

So, Clinton brought what she described as “personal matters” into the political discourse,  stating outright out what her decision would be.

Now, I can see a few different ways to use this, but the first narrative that comes to mind would be to make the connection between the perceived importance surrounding the judgement with regards to leaving a church and …leaving a marriage.

The question would go something like this:

“You mother, Hillary Clinton, recently stated that she would have left a church that featured Rev. Wright’s controversial sermons, and said that the issue was obviously a very personal matter.   But if it is acceptable for Americans to discuss a decision such as this, why wouldn’t it also be acceptable to discuss a decision to not seek a divorce after proven dishonesty and infidelity?” Political Blogger Alliance


Need A Vibe Radiator?

April 1, 2008

Go here.