Archive for September, 2008

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Official Chamber Post-Debate Thread

September 26, 2008

As everyone knows, round 1 of the McCain vs. Obama debates aired tonight, and my roommate and I decided to watch it on CNN (’cause they had the cool graphs ‘n’ stuff in HD).  Overall, I think that both candidates performed very well.  Certainly there will be pundits everywhere pouring over everything and offering analysis, but I think it’s safe to say that the faults will be found with microscopes.  In other words, there really was no knockout blow given by either of them. 

So, for my part, I’ll just highlight what I thought was the most memorable part, and it came when Obama was given the opportunity to rebut the oft-delivered criticism that he advocated “attacking” Pakistan:

OBAMA: Nobody talked about attacking Pakistan. Here’s what I said.

And if John wants to disagree with this, he can let me know, that, if the United States has al Qaeda, bin Laden, top-level lieutenants in our sights, and Pakistan is unable or unwilling to act, then we should take them out.

Now, I think that’s the right strategy; I think that’s the right policy.

And, John, I — you’re absolutely right that presidents have to be prudent in what they say. But, you know, coming from you, who, you know, in the past has threatened extinction for North Korea and, you know, sung songs about bombing Iran, I don’t know, you know, how credible that is. I think this is the right strategy.

I gotta tell ya, we let out quite a howl for the “sung songs about bombing Iran” part.  Awesome.  I mean, I’ve defended what Obama said about Pakistan many times here in the Chamber, but I think he did a better job thinking on his feet than I did sitting down in front of my laptop carefully choosing my words.  It was a beautiful rebuttal, and I don’t think McCain will be bringing up that criticism again.

I’ll leave the thread open for more discussion on the debate.  Here’s the full transcript.

Update:  This is already up on memeorandumPoll Results Suggest More Uncommitted Voters Saw Obama As Debate Winner

UPDATED WITH FINAL NUMBERS CBS News and Knowledge Networks conducted a nationally representative poll of approximately 500 uncommitted voters reacting to the debate in the minutes after it happened.

Thirty-nine percent of uncommitted voters who watched the debate tonight thought Barack Obama was the winner. Twenty-four percent thought John McCain won. Thirty-seven percent saw it as a draw.

Forty-six percent of uncommitted voters said their opinion of Obama got better tonight. Thirty-two percent said their opinion of McCain got better.

I think McCain needed to do a lot better than 24% with uncommitted voters tonight.

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Attention Thrill-Seekers!

September 25, 2008

I’m going to give a plug to a magnificent locale that happens to be just a few hundred yards from where I went to high school:  Blondie’s Sports Bar & Grill

Naturally, one might ask why in the heck I’d suggest an innocently named sports bar as a destination for the steel-nerved.  I mean, it looks like a pretty harmless place, right?  It’s got a nice-looking patio, cash bingo, and even karaoke on Saturdays.  Well, don’t be fooled, daredevils.  You’d better keep your head on a swivel and your running shoes tied tight if you plan on stepping foot in this joint (It probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to review Minnesota’s conceal and carry law, either).

For example, just the other day, some poor kid was gunned down in cold blood right there on that patio, and two more of his pals wound up in the hospital:

Family members say Jones was just dropping off a set of keys to his cousin at Blondie’s Sports Bar and Grill at 7495 Brooklyn Boulevard when shots rang out just after midnight Wednesday.
Jones was dead at the scene. The two others were taken to North Memorial with non-life-threatening injuries. One of the injured had a bullet wound, the other was a victim of a related assault.

But I know what you’re thinking.  Surely this was just a one-time fluke incident borne out of too many drinks and machismo.  

On the other hand, ask the guy who went there last year and had his nutsack ripped open by Thor, the establishment’s not-so-friendly barkeep:

Thor Gunderson

“It is not like he was drunk and disorderly. There was a dispute over the time it was going to take for his food. But he decided he didn’t want to pay for it and for that he ends up with these types of serious injuries,” said acting Brooklyn Park Police Chief Greg Roehl.

Investigators say the owner, Thor Gunderson, even tried to stop the man from calling 911 for help. When police got to the bar, they say they found the customer bleeding and on the ground, restrained by Gunderson and a bouncer.

“At the hospital they determined he had an injury which was to his scrotum and that one of his testicles was actually torn loose,” said Roehl.

Yea, um, can you say…check please?

Dig a little deeper, and you’ll find that there’s no shortage of “activity” at Blondie’s.  In fact, when you look at the history of the place over the last few years, one has to wonder why any reasonable person would ever go there:

City records show Blondie’s, at 7495 Brooklyn Blvd., had 221 calls for service in 2006, 215 in 2007 and 156 so far this year.

That’s nearly 600 visits from the police in under 3 years.  Or if you do the math, you’ve got better than a 50/50 chance that the cops will show up for some reason on any given night.   Here’s the breakdown (pdf) for 242 calls in 2007 (not sure of the reason for the discrepancy).  And keep in mind, Brooklyn Park is a suburb.


Casual dining with a sports flair…
…If you dare.

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Does Al Qaeda Care About Our Elections? (Part II)

September 22, 2008

I know it was a year and a half ago, but I bring this question up again, in light of what I saw on memeorandum today: Spies Warn That Al Qaeda Aims for October Surprise

WASHINGTON — In the aftermath of two major terrorist attacks on Western targets, America’s counterterrorism community is warning that Al Qaeda may launch more overseas operations to influence the presidential elections in November.

Assuming they do, who do you suppose the al Qaeda boys want us to elect?  What could a bunch of chaos and carnage do to influence us?  The author of the Sun article doesn’t really spell it out.

So, I suppose that if you were to ask your average righty blogger, Rep. Steve King, or the former prime minister of Australia, it would be Obama.  But it you were to ask others, like the gang over at Think Progress, well, it would be McCain.

I’ll just leave it open to discussion…

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Introducing…The ChamberBurger!

September 21, 2008

I thought I’d take a break from political blogging for a second, and reveal a little culinary masterpiece that I discovered by accident.

First, a little background…

I sat here in front of my TV watching the various NFL games on this beautiful Sunday afternoon, felt pretty hungry, and decided I was either too lazy or too unwilling to pry myself away from the action to make a run to the grocery store (or to Mickey D’s), so I was left to make do with whatever I had left in the kitchen.  I took a look around, and noticed that I had a few of those cheap frozen hamburger patties (but no buns), four slices of bread (but no lunchmeat or lettuce), eggs, cheese, chips, and a few condiments.  The time had come to get a little creative.

So, I gathered everything I had together, fired up the grill, and slapped a pan on the stove.  I knew that if I was going to use the bread in place of buns, the patties would have to be well-done, so I started there first and put two of them on the ‘ol Aussie.   Once those were about ready, I threw the cheese on, popped the bread in the toaster, and cracked an egg on the stove.  Here’s the rather tall stack of a sandwich that I wound up with:

  1. toast (end slice)
  2. egg
  3. toast
  4. patty (w/cheese)
  5. mustard, mayo, and dill relish
  6. toast 
  7. patty (w/cheese)
  8. toast

Add some chips, and it looks like this (yes, I took a picture):

click for jumbo size

click for jumbo size

As you can see, this meal isn’t exactly the healthiest thing out there.  In fact, it’s probably a heart attack on a plate.  I have no idea how many calories I was staring at, but after struggling to get my mouth around the thing, I must say that it was friggin DELICIOUS.  

Shaggy and Scooby would be proud:

Click to Play!

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Did Palin’s Email Hacker Break The Law?

September 18, 2008

I was hoping to see a WPPBA thread on this subject, so I thought I’d just throw it out there for the Alliance…

With all the buzz over this, I’ve seen plenty of claims on blogs out there that what was done here constitutes a federal crime.  What I haven’t seen, however, is exactly which law was broken.  I’ll admit that I’m no lawyer, and I’m still trying to figure this out, so I’m hoping that someone can help me in the comments section here. 

For the time being, I’ll start with what I know.  Via the much linked-to Malkin page, the pertinent part of the hacker’s “confession”:

In the past couple days news had come to light about palin using a yahoo mail account, it was in news stories and such, a thread was started full of newfags trying to do something that would not get this off the ground, for the next 2 hours the acct was locked from password recovery presumably from all this bullshit spamming.

after the password recovery was reenabled, it took seriously 45 mins on wikipedia and google to find the info, Birthday? 15 seconds on wikipedia, zip code? well she had always been from wasilla, and it only has 2 zip codes (thanks online postal service!)

the second was somewhat harder, the question was “where did you meet your spouse?” did some research, and apparently she had eloped with mister palin after college, if youll look on some of the screenshits that I took and other fellow anon have so graciously put on photobucket you will see the google search for “palin eloped” or some such in one of the tabs.

I found out later though more research that they met at high school, so I did variations of that, high, high school, eventually hit on “Wasilla high” I promptly changed the password to popcorn and took a cold shower…

So, the hacker was basically able to exploit Yahoo!’s password recovery system, reset it, and gain access to the account (quite easily, it would seem).  In other words, this person used the tools that Yahoo! itself provides visitors to its site, as opposed to something akin to a script kiddie “hack”.  (Nevermind what this says about Palin and/or Yahoo!’s ability to protect a password, I’m still trying to make sense of what law was broken. )

Remember that Yahoo! is basically a free email service, so to me, it would be unclear if anything that transpires on their servers is “owned” by Palin or anyone else who uses it.  I would think that you’d be at the mercy of Yahoo! and whatever their terms of service are.  So, speaking of that (emphasis mine):

5. MEMBER ACCOUNT, PASSWORD AND SECURITY

You will receive a password and account designation upon completing the Service’s registration process. You are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of the password and account and are fully responsible for all activities that occur under your password or account. You agree to (a) immediately notify Yahoo! of any unauthorized use of your password or account or any other breach of security, and (b) ensure that you exit from your account at the end of each session. Yahoo! cannot and will not be liable for any loss or damage arising from your failure to comply with this Section 5.

I don’t know about you, but what I’m reading there is that the responsibility for Sarah Palin’s password winding up on some 4chan message board falls on….Sarah Palin.  In fact, as you read the terms of service, one gets the impression that any given user can expect very little guarantee of, well, anything.  Heck, they can just shut your account down if they feel like it (see section 15).

So, I open up the thread to enlighten myself.  Was the offence related to posting the new password online?  Just accessing the account? 

Have at me, and I’ll update when I see the light.

 

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Update: I was wrong about the WPPBA not having a thread up. DandelionSalad has one (that’s getting a lot of hits, actually), with more background on what happened.

Update:  Another WPPBA member posts, this one hoping the culprit goes to jail.  Still waiting for the charge…

Update:  Another reason I ask, is because there are “lock door/throw away key” comments being posted on other blogs, or discussions about whether Palin should show mercy and drop the charges.  But no one seems to be stopping to ask if there is a there there to begin with. (of course, going public with showing mercy in light of having nothing to charge the kid (?) with might just be a great political cover for the aforementioned section 5 oopsy).

Update:  I thought I’d add that Gawker (the site that posted screenshots of the emails in question), feels good about their legal situation. Here is the rundown on their coverage.

Update:  Thanks to commenter Mike who finds a post over at the Volokh Conspiracy, and OrinKerr states:

UPDATE: The FBI and Secret Service are conducting a joint investigation. The easiest crime to prove here is 18 U.S.C. 1030(a)(2)(C), accessing a protected computer without authorization to obtain information, with the possibility of felony liability under 18 U.S.C. 1030(c)(2)(B)(ii)-(iii) and also the possibility of felony liability under 18 U.S.C. 1030(a)(4). As with most computer crime cases, the real trick will be finding the bad guy rather than finding a charge.

For the record: § 1030. Fraud and related activity in connection with computers

I dunno.  I think the “trick” would be equating what happened and “accessing a computer without authorization”.   Again, what this person essentially did was gain access to web pages (as opposed to a computer) using the tools that Yahoo! provides.  No trojan horses, no spyware, no keystroke logger.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but I’m not seeing anything sticking at this point.  But again, I’m not a lawyer and am unaware of precedents here.

Update: The most comprehensive breakdown I’ve seen thus far of the legalities involved at Threat Level: Little or No Jail Time Likely for Palin Hacker 

The law really does appear to be ambiguous on this one.  But to prove how little I know, I had no idea that there was such a thing as the Stored Communications Act.

Update:  There’s been an indictment, and they’re charging him in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 2701 and 1030(a)(2) (as Volokh predicted).

Update:  There’s and excellent discussion going on over at Volokh, and the title says it all:  Is the Palin E-Mail Hack Indictment Legally Flawed?

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I’m Losing It (MPG’s That Is)

September 17, 2008

Not sure what’s going on here. 

Perhaps I’m slacking a bit in my driving habits.  Or, I should probably check that performance air filter (I cleaned it back in May, right before I started tracking this stuff).   Another possible explanation could be the decrease in ambient temperature, as it’s starting to cool down here in MN. 

All of the above?

Whatever it is, I’ve noticed a pretty steady decline in my MPG/tank since I peaked it at 32.507 in mid-July.  Today’s fill-up revealed a tank that hit a disappointing 29.88.   “Slow and Low” is a little off her game:

click for full size

click for full size

Here is my cleanmpg.com mileage log.

I’ll double-check tire pressure tomorrow, just to make sure.

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Safe Prediction For Hannity’s Palin Interview

September 13, 2008

Well, the much-discussed interview Sarah Palin had with ABC’s Charles Gibson is over, and the word around the campfire is that she was treated unfairly.  Luckily for her, the next scheduled sit-down will be with my pal Sean Hannity.  Why luckily?  Well, let’s just say that I can sum up the interview with two images:

Exit thought:  I’m getting a kick out of all the pundits rushing in to defend Palin’s “Bush Doctrine” response during Gibson pt. 1.   In general, the spin is something along the lines of “even the experts can’t agree on what it is!” .  Well, that may be true.  But while we may debate on what the “Bush Doctrine” is, there should be universal agreement that “his worldview” it is …not.  It’s her initial response that the defenders conveniently leave out.

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Update: Jay over at Newshoggers offers up some potential questions that Hannity might “toss” at Palin.

Last Update:  Olbermann broke the Hannity interview down last night, and even used the word “softball”:

Reform!

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I Hate To Say This, But I Agree With Karl Rove

September 11, 2008

As an Obama supporter, I know it might seem a little unexpected for me to toss some praise in turd blossom’s direction, but what can I say?  Via memeorandum, I spotted this Rove op-ed in the WSJ: Obama Can’t Win
Against Palin

Money quote/bottom line:

It’s a matchup he’ll lose. If Mr. Obama wants to win, he needs to remember he’s running against John McCain for president, not Mrs. Palin for vice president.

To make his point, Rove proceeded to outline examples of failed presidential bids that featured this sort of disconnect.  He didn’t outline any bids that were successful with this kind of thing playing out (assuming there have been some), but I think he’s reading the current dynamic pretty accurately. 

My take?

Obama risks taking a step backwards with every comment that he makes about her, and this risk, for the most part, outweighs any reward.  As we’ve seen from the ridiculous “lipstick on a pig” faux controversy (that wasn’t even directed at Palin, but it’s one heck of a hint), there are going to be those who will be eager to mislead, spin and misconstrue any comment (no matter how poignant) and turn it into sexism or some sort of gaffe (as I predicted), and scream it loudly.  If that narrative gains traction, it’d be a hole that’d be tough to get out of, and a huge distraction from the message of the campaign.  Rove convincingly paints a trip down this path as a no-win scenario, but to expand on his point, Obama really shouldn’t have to go there anyway.  Presidential candidate vs. running mate doesn’t sound like the intuitive way it should work, and engaging in it in a manner that is in any way aggressive creates the impression that one is intimidated.   That isn’t exactly a way to dictate the tempo.

At first, I was going to suggest that Obama limit specific criticisms of Palin to those that can be confidently and clearly framed into the debate on what the selection itself says about McCain, but now I’m not so sure.  At this point, I’m beginning to think that the best way to counter whatever swell of support McCain has gained with Palin is probably to ignore her.   More specifically, Obama should craft the remainder of the campaign as if the rule of thumb was to pretend that she hasn’t been selected yet (as strange as it sounds on the surface).  Focus on McCain, and marginalize her my not giving her the dignity of a response to whatever she might throw.   Obama should ignore the bait, take the high road for the home stretch and count on Palin doing herself in as the interviews and debates move forward.

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It’s Called An “Idiom”, Dimwits

September 9, 2008

Ah…It was a typical day.  I got home from work, turned on my laptop, checked my email and the Chamber control center, then decided to see what was new in the world of politics.  And what did I see at the top of the memeorandum page?  This: Obama Says McCain Is Offering Fake Change: ‘You Can Put Lipstick on a Pig, But It’s Still a Pig’

LEBANON, Va. — “That’s not change,” Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., said of what Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is offering.

“You know, you can put lipstick on a pig,” Obama said, “but it’s still a pig.”

The crowd rose and applauded, some of them no doubt thinking he may have been alluding to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s ad lib during her vice presidential nomination acceptance speech last week, “What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick.”

Then I see that Drudge once again seizes opportunity to mislead, and puts it front and center:

A few more clicks, and I discover various bloggers hysterically rushing in to attack Obama for calling Palin a “pig”.

Still more clicks, and I notice that the McCain camp calls for Obama to apologize to Palin:

Reporters were a bit skeptical that Obama intended to do that; from the sketchy reports we have, he seemed to be talking about how John McCain can claim to represent change but isn’t really an agent of change.  But Swift said, “it’s pretty clear the crowd thought that that was the insult he was leveling.”  And Swift made the (hopefully) undeniable observation that Palin is the only one of the four national candidates who wears lipstick.

{{{sigh}}}

Where to begin?  Well, this transparent attempt to make something (sexist) out of nothing appears to have gone viral throughout the political web, and I’d just like to point out a few things (just in case it will do any good)…

First, “lipstick on a pig” is what those of us who don’t consider English to be second language call an idiom, and it’s a fairly common one

If people put lipstick on a pig, they make superficial or cosmetic changes, hoping that it will make the product more attractive.

Second, the crowd was probably applauding because said idiom was fitting in the obvious context that the “pig” was the Republican’s actual record, policies and stance on the issues, and the “lipstick” represented their facade of “change”.  

Third,  I should mention that the same site that assumed that Obama’s crowd was applauding because he was “no doubt” referring to Palin and her ad lib, later pointed out that…wait for it…McCain has used the exact same figure of speech when referring to Clinton’s health care plan.

McCain surely wasn’t calling Clinton a pig.

{{{slaps forehead}}}

Dear readers, have any of you seen the movie Idiocracy?    ‘Cause that’s America, right now.  Yep, we’ve officially traveled through time or to some alternate universe where the average IQ has dropped to 60 (yes, I know that the average IQ for any time or alternate universe is always 100 by definition, deal with it).

BTW-  Kudos to Allahpundit and Rusty for being intellectually honest and remaining in our time and universe.

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Update: I read at one of the blogs that the idiom was also the title of a book, so I Googled, and sure enough:

And just to prove how utterly ridiculous the McCain camp’s outrage really is, consider this exhibit, um…F: Meghan McCain: My Dad Says ‘Lipstick on a Pig’ 

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“Shrill”?

September 3, 2008

Uh Oh…

After the Palin acceptance speech this evening, Reid spokesman Jim Manley categorized her speech as “shrill and sarcastic political attacks“.

First, for the record:

shrill 

adjective
1. high-pitched and piercing in sound quality: a shrill cry.
2. producing such a sound.
3. full of or characterized by such a sound: shrill music.
4. betraying some strong emotion or attitude in an exaggerated amount, as antagonism or defensiveness.
5. marked by great intensity; keen: the shrill, incandescent light of the exploding bomb.

Second, I would guess that Reid felt obligated to respond, since he was called out personally in the speech:

Harry Reid, the majority of the current do-nothing Senate … he not long ago summed up his feelings about our nominee. He said, quote, “I can’t stand John McCain.”

Ladies and gentlemen, perhaps no accolade we hear this week is better proof that we’ve chosen the right man.

Clearly, what the majority leader was driving at is that he can’t stand up to John McCain and that is only…

… that’s only one more reason to take the maverick out of the Senate, put him in the White House.

The consensus among the CNN pundits was sort of a “they better be careful with that”, implying that it can be spun as a sexist remark.   But having watched the speech live, I decided that Sarah Palin does sound a little like the Church Lady.  “Shrill” might not have been the word I would have chosen, but hey, judge for yourself:

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Exit question: Could the “shrill” charge come from a more ironic source than from someone named “Manley”?

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Gimme A Break, Banned Again?

September 1, 2008

I know I can push bloggers’ buttons sometimes, and on a couple of occasions it has gotten me banished by the more sensitive types.  This one, however, is just plain ridiculous. 

Yesterday, like many bloggers, I was trying to get a handle on the rumor flying around that Bristol Palin was the mother of Trig, and somewhere along the lines I stumbled upon this post at the Wake Up America blog: Risks Of Reporting Rumor As News About Sarah Palin’s Baby Trig and Daughter Bristol

Long story made short, I noticed that the author (Susan) had posted pics of Sarah Palin that appeared to show her in later stages of pregnancy (as an attempt to debunk the rumor), so I figured that I’d chime in, announce that I was going to play devil’s advocate, and link to this:

You know, hey, someone outta mention it as a possibility, right?  Heck, even Ann Althouse mentioned it, and she had been putting more effort into debunking this rumor than just about anyone.  But it would appear that I had struck a nerve:

I highlight the “Edited By Siteowner” because, if you scroll through the comments section of the thread, you’ll notice that I wasn’t the only netizen who had a comment disappear.  In fact, when I came back to the thread later this evening, I counted at least a dozen of them that had been censored.   As to what the offensive material was, I guess I’ll never know, but judging by my standard, it could probably be assumed that it would have been any dissent (even that which was prefaced by the disclaimer “playing devil’s advocate”).  So, I scratched my head, thought for a second, and posted this:

Wow, my comment got deleted as well?

I’ve got to wonder, with half of the comments here going down the memory hole, why did you even bother with this thread? As you mention in the title, you “risk” participating in the nonsense just by posting it, but we’re to walk on eggshells simply discussing it here in the comments section? I’m confused.

The response to that comment didn’t take to long.   Or, I should say, the deletion of it didn’t take too long, followed by the, well…this:

Pretty weak, eh?  Especially when you consider the comments disclaimer over there:

Note from Wake Up America management: This section is for comments from Wake Up America Readers. Debate and disagreement are welcome, but Bush Bashing will be deleted. We can have discussion in a civilized manner and just because you cannot bash does not mean you cannot discuss and disagree or criticize. Anyone that does not know how to separate those things, shouldn’t be speaking anyway. STICK TO THE ISSUE OF THE POST you are commenting on. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our rules of commenting will lose their posting privilege.

I think it would go without saying…what a crock.  But oh well.  It’s Susan’s blog.  She can do whatever she wants to, just like this is the Chamber, and I can do whatever I want to.  So, I think I’ll just post this: