Archive for August, 2008


Satellite Images: Gustav vs. Katrina

August 31, 2008

Even though Gustav doesn’t appear to be quite as scary from space, the weather guys are predicting a similar strength and location to what happened 3 years ago (almost exactly 3 years, actually).  I tried to find two images for comparison that represented the same vantage point.


(source: NOAA)


(source: NOAA)

Maybe it isn’t the size that makes Katrina look worse, rather that tightly defined eye wall.  I hope everyone makes it out of there OK.


McCain’s Pander Pick For VP

August 29, 2008

As the overdose of punditry over the selection of Sarah Palin as McCain’s running mate overwhelms casual readers everywhere, I thought I might as well add my own take on the matter.  And if there is a single word that immediately comes to mind, it would be “pander”.

I mean, is there really any other way to look at it?   I’m no political scientist, but it seems to me that there are three rationales at work when a presidential candidate selects a running mate, and it would come down to a) who helps one’s chances getting elected, b) who would help one govern effectively, and c) who would be a logical successor to the presidency.   On the surface the selection of Sarah Palin would satisfy (a), and that’s about it.   

Why (a)? 

-Well, first, you’ve got a presidential candidate that, throughout the primaries, was derided by the Rush’s and Hannity’s of the world as not being conservative enough.  So, check the box for the conservative pander, since it would appear that Palin is solidly on that side of the fence. 

-Second, as I’ve pointed out with a few posts on the PUMA’s, there is a certain percentage of the female voting block that would be inclined to fill the feminist gap now that Hillary is out of the race, and/or is bitter, having viewed the campaign (or the media coverage thereof) as sexist, or whatever.  For voters out there who wanted to cast their vote for a woman, Palin picks up the baton from Clinton.  So, check the box for the female pander. 

-Third, in Palin you have something that is slightly less tangible, but possibly more powerful than the first two.  Much of political campaigning involves principles of marketing, and marketing 101 students learn about the principle of liking and attractiveness:

Liking. “People prefer to say yes to individuals they know and like,” Cialdini says. In negotiations and sales situations, one can influence the outcome by developing a kinship with prospective clients or being familiar to them. Being physically attractive is also a big advantage. Research shows that people attribute talent, kindness, honesty, and intelligence to people they find attractive. 

Palin, as a former runner-up in the Miss Alaska pageant, is still attractive at 44, and her “hockey mom” likability is likely what helped her win her own elections.  The McCain camp is probably counting on injecting this principle as an attempt to offset what Obama brings to the table in this regard.  So, I suppose one can say that they’re pandering to the emotional side of the electorate.

-Finally, there is something to be said about what Obama’s selection of Biden did to influence this pick.  We may be seeing a bit of political chess being played here, specifically with regard to the upcoming debates.  Someone in McCain’s circle probably figured that it won’t be hard for the fiery Biden to appear as a big bully when going one-on-one with the cute female Alaskan governor.  In the very least, this dynamic could serve to handcuff Biden in light of how the machine of spin and subsequent perception works.  A couple of 5 second clips could be all that is needed to cement this impression, and the opportunity to do so would be something that McCain’s people will be looking for.  If you expand on that theme and include treatment from the rest of the Obama camp, the punditry and the broader media, you can see where this might play into their hands.  It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out, but some are already urging their fellow detractors to tread carefully.

Also, its conceivable that McCain went out of his way to select someone that wasn’t an opponent in the primaries, thereby avoiding the threat of past criticism and appearances of hypocrisy being used against him as we head towards November.  Again, political chess.

But do you notice that none of those considerations actually has anything to do with effectively running the country?  Say what you want about Biden (I have), but with Obama’s pick, at least one can say that there was more attention placed on the aforementioned (b) and (c), that’s for sure. 

It’s been pointed out that, given McCain’s advanced age, reliance solely on this rationale is risky (both politically and otherwise).   New Republic columnist Peter Scoblic opines that the selection even reveals a certain level of arrogance on McCain’s part.  I think he makes a pretty good point.   Let’s hope that the rest of America sees it that way as well. Political Blogger Alliance



August 29, 2008

I was perusing the political web in search of reactions to McCain’s VP pick (which I’ll post about later), and I stumbled upon one of those elusive open registration periods over at LGF:

Do I return to banished territory as some creatively named sockpuppet? 


I’ll go ahead and stroll right past special ed this time around.


A Video Montage Of PUMA Craziness

August 27, 2008

With the Democrat National Convention going on in Denver this week, much has been made out of the effect that the disgruntled Hillary supporters will have on the event, presumably because the drama-loving cable news networks thrive on this kind of thing.  I’ve noticed that, sprinkled throughout the coverage, there have been interviews with a few of them, and with each one I can say that I can feel my own IQ level dip a bit.  So, to share my pain with the rest of the world, I’m putting together a little montage of the ones I’ve come across.

First, enter Elizabeth Joyce, the founder of who was interviewed by Larry King last night:

My favorite parts are where she is visibly upset with King for basically being called out on her air-headedness, but then reminds herself to smile as to not appear rattled.  King tries to remind her that things like some vitriolic comments on blogs are outside the control of Obama himself and is a pretty weak reason to not vote for the guy, given the fact that Hillary shares the same position as Obama on virtually every issue and his trying her darnedest to convince people like Elizabeth that she needn’t worry.  But oh well.  Spite wins the day, I guess, and victimhood by association has a new poster girl.

Next, lets take a look at Chris Matthews mucking it up with the founder of “Clintons 4 McCain“. (h/t sensico)

Now, Cristi Adkins had me there for a second, since I think she was referring to this:

This registration document, made available on Jan. 24, 2007, by the Fransiskus Assisi school in Jakarta, Indonesia, shows the registration of Barack Obama under the name Barry Soetoro into the Catholic school made by his step-father, Lolo Soetoro. The document lists Barry Soetoro as a Indonesian citizen, born on August 4, 1961 in Honolulu, and shows his Muslim step-father listed the boy’s religion as Islam.(AP Photo/ Tatan Syuflana)

Of course, this has been brought up before, and the claim she’s making that the school itself is some sort of radical Islamic madrassa has been debunked.  Not to worry though, she moved the goal posts about three times there, so in the end I’m not quite sure what she was getting at.  A little too much TexasDarlin methinks (you might notice that the linked page discussing this document has been removed from Darlin’s site.  Why, oh why?)

Finally, we’ve got an actual delegate at the convention who is quite obviously overcome by emotion, interviewed by Suzanne Malveaux right after Hillary’s big speech.

So let me get this straight…oh nevermind.  I don’t even know where to begin with that one.  “Get a grip” comes to mind.  Another thought would be bewilderment on how a Dem delegate could rationalize sitting out the vote for the Dem candidate for president.   But there you have it, big ‘H’ t-shirt and everything.

Anyway, McCain hears you, brave PUMAs!  He has come to pander to you:

I’d like to say that most people would see right through that, but given the collective intellect of the few that I’ve just highlighted, I’m not sure if “Its OK” is all the whiners need to tip them over. Political Blogger Alliance


Why Biden?

August 24, 2008

Like so many others who signed onto Obama’s “Be the first to know” text message gimmick with regards to who he was picking to be his running mate, I received my alert about 5 hrs after the media confirmed that Joe Biden was the guy (the message came via twitter and was timestamped 4:24 AM CST; the other text message I never received, so I’m not sure what I did wrong there).  I was pretty disappointed, and I think it had less to do with the fact that it was a waste of time, and more to do with how it reflects on how Obama was managing his campaign, and what that might mean about he would handle his presidency.  ‘Cause lets face it, “Be the first to know” was a bit of a broken promise.  And for the record, I don’t think that the middle-of-the-night message was designed as a jab at Hillary (as many have opined and discussed) or to imply anything, rather, I imagine that it was timed that way to save as much face as possible, in light of the fact that CNN and others had pretty much let the cat out of the bag (a text message received after it was all over cable news networks on Saturday morning would have seemed pretty silly, no?).

In any case, Biden is the guy, and as an Obama supporter, I must say that I have some mixed feelings about this pick.  I have stated here in the Chamber my feeling that the best choice would have been Bill Richardson, but I’ve never voiced my opinion on anyone else on the short list (although now I’m not sure if Richardson was even on the list), so now that the pick has been made, I thought I’d post something about my initial reaction.  From where I sit, the selection of Biden as VP has pros and cons for both the campaign and the eventual presidency, so I’ll break it down here.


First, the oft-mentioned experience factor.  I see this from two points of view, in that the experience that the long-time Democrat Senator from Delaware brings to the table can have an effect both perceived (in the sense that voters are more comfortable electing Obama with the resume gap filled) and real (in the sense that Obama’s presidency will be shaped by the actual advise or influence that Biden wields).  I guess the question is which one overshadows the other.  Either way, I view this as a plus.

Second, as a no-nonsense character who is unafraid to speak his mind, Biden is a good choice for a candidate that promised to pick a VP that would  “challenge my thinking and not simply be a yes person when it comes to policy-making”.  I must admit that this is pretty comforting, considering that we’ve just been subjected to 8 years of governance from people who placed loyalty above competence.


I’ve long stated that I wasn’t going to favor a candidate that voted in favor of the 2002 Iraq AUMF.  Biden did, and later ran his own campaign for the presidency that included an Iraq policy that was more in line with what Republican Senator Sam Brownback was proposing, namely, partitioning Iraq into Sunni, Shia and Kurd regions.   This was a position that, as Allah at Hot Air reminds us, even the Iraqis are vehemently against.

Also, Biden has a history of saying some really stupid things, which explains why blog after blog on the right are overjoyed, as they’re anxious for the next opportunity to highlight his next gaffe.  In fact, the front page of the RNC’s website features a “gaffe clock“, counting down the time until his next one.  If Biden takes on the role of a loose cannon, it could really be a turnoff to those who might otherwise be inclined to support the ticket, and can be a major distraction when they’re trying to get the message out.

Up For Grabs

The role of “attack dog”.  Traditionally, one of the benefits of a VP was the ability to deflect partisan criticism away from the president and allow him to remain above the fray.  When Obama launched his campaign and announced his bid for the presidency, he promised a “new kind of politics”, and one could make the argument that the addition of a fire-in-the-belly persona like Biden would undermine that.  On the other hand, as this campaign slides into the sewer of attack ads and personality wars, Biden could be the perfect countermeasure (something that Richardson wouldn’t have been as effective at), and provide Obama the ability rise above it.   The deciding factor might come down to the aforementioned gaffes, and a nightmare scenario might be one where Obama is called upon to disavow something that Biden has said (and don’t be surprised to see those calls come early, often, and for just about anything).

Also, the Biden pick could be seen by those Clinton supporters as a slap in the face, further disrupt party unity, increase recruitment of the PUMA mindset, and eventually lead to disaster in November.  Indeed, the McCain camp sees a light at the end of this tunnel, and has already begun to exploit it with a recent ad painting Clinton as “passed over”.  Will people fall for this?  Does Biden represent the “risky” choice, and Clinton the “safe” one?  Just how fractured is the party?  Time will tell, I suppose.

This is going to be one heck of a home stretch. Political Blogger Alliance

Update: It would appear that I was right about the text message: CNN forces Obama to release VP pick early

“Had a certain network not blown our cover at a certain time the text message would have gone out in the morning, 8 a.m. Eastern,” Robert Gibbs, a senior advisor, said with a grin on Sunday. “We told people they would find out from us. When we decided it was going to get out we decided to send the text out.”

Gibbs said he believes despite the fact that the rollout plan had to be altered, a “vast majority of the people” still learned by text message when they woke up in the morning.


Great Moments In Irony

August 20, 2008

Chalk this one up for the ages.  The guy who was responsible for bringing the fuel-swilling Humvee to the civilian retail market has recently* come out and thrown his muscles behind something called “EcoDriving“.

What is EcoDriving, you ask?  Well, its basically what I’ve been talking about over many posts and a few months here in the Chamber, and a little of what the Flat Tirers have been deriding Obama for.  Things like shedding excess weight, keeping your vehicle tuned, and checking your tire pressure monthly:

The Department of Energy estimates that 1.2 billion gallons of fuel were wasted in 2005 as a result of driving on underinflated tires. Tires can deflate naturally, by as much as 1.5 PSI (pounds per square inch) a month. Experts estimate that 25% of automobiles are running on tires with lower than recommended pressure. Fuel efficiency is reduced by 1% for every 3 PSI that tires are under-inflated. So, keeping your tires properly inflated translates into a free tank of gas a year and reduces CO2 emissions too. Check tire pressure at least once a month. The correct tire pressure in PSI can be found on the tire label, as well as on the door frame, sill or edge. If all Californians properly inflated and aligned their tires, we’d save 300 million gallons of gas a year, according to the California Energy Commission.

*To be fair, Schwarzenegger has been actively going “green” on his Hummers for quite some time, but when I saw the video on the EcoDriving website featuring the Governator encouraging all Americans to try to better their MPG’s and lower emissions, I figured the irony had come full circle. Political Blogger Alliance


In Search Of The Chamber

August 13, 2008

The good people at recently added some additional enhancements to the statistics that are available to those of us that use the service.  After doing some playing around with the new features, there was one statistic in particular that jumped out at me:

click to enlarge

Since the creation of this blog back in January ’07, a there has been a total of 1,280 hits from netizens entering the search term “chenzhen’s chamber”.

Now, I’m not quite sure what to make of that.  Either the Chamber’s fame has spread a bit and has slowly become a destination for an increasing amount of lurkers, or I’ve got one or two regular readers who haven’t figured out how to bookmark or add the blog to their favorites. (If its the latter, I’ll assume that you know who you are. I’d like to help, so go ahead and send me an email via the contact form.  There is no shame.)