Friday, October 31, 2008

Jules Hearts Gay Marriage

Via Big Orange, Samuel L. Jackson has had it with that muthafuckin' proposition on his muthafuckin' ballot.

In other news, Jackson should become the liberal Chuck Norris.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

My Votes, My Explanation.

OK, so I bit off way more than I could chew with that "Election 2008" post series I was planning. It didn't help that I ended up having to do a lot of prepping for the AIChE Conference Of Doom next month. But I'll just briefly go over my votes for the big races here, along with some stupid platitudes about why I chose them.

One note. I suddenly find myself living in a battleground state (Really? North Carolina? Who knew?), and I feel for you Floridians and Ohioans who have to deal with this dreck on TV every four years. Of course, if I had the time or inclination I could have gone to see all three major presidential candidates and two of their running mates (Wayne Allyn Root, you're slacking, dude), so that's kinda cool.

President: Sen. Barack Obama, Democrat. I was tempted to vote for Bob Barr, even though I spent most of my adolescence throwing up in my mouth whenever I heard his name mentioned. Barr's the only candidate that might actually have the inclination to rein in the absurd reach of executive power we've gotten ourselves into the past few decades. But I chose Obama because in the most important area in which the President is supposed to act - foreign policy - he's clearly the best. McCain, for all his supposed experience, doesn't get diplomacy as well as I had hoped, and his failure to understand who pulls the levers in Iran (hint: not A-Train), among other things, hurts him there. Temperament is also, ahem, an issue. I don't want him suspending his presidency if there's a war somewhere or something. Barr's foreign policy is way too far the other direction - isolationism isn't an option for a superpower.

My wish was for a candidate who understood the limits of the presidency and campaigned accordingly. Wish not granted, however, I get the sense that Obama would at least respect the Constitution and some of the limits it places on Presidential authority. The same could not be said for McCain, who seems to believe that the President should be able to do whatever.

Senate: State Sen. Kay Hagan, Democrat. See the next post down.

House: B.J. Lawson, Republican. What the hell? I'm voting for a Republican? How did this happen - especially given my professed approval of his opponent, Rep. David Price? Well, two things. One, Price isn't losing this seat. It's a pretty Democratic seat in a Democratic year. But he has made some horrible votes over the past few years - the bankruptcy bill, the bailout, gutting FISA, the Patriot Act... I could go on. (And yes, I recognize Obama cast many of the same votes. I'll get to the difference in a second.) He's been cruising to re-election this whole time - a little shock from an opponent could do him good, as would two years back in Chapel Hill reading the Constitution. Two, Lawson's basically Ron Paul without the crazy. He's anti-war, pro-civil rights for gays, and a budget hawk. He opposes corporate welfare (of course, he probably opposes welfare in general) and earmarks. And most importantly, he's running as a defender of civil liberties. A Congressman with a spine in the face of Presidential power-grabs? I'll bite.

Governor: Michael Munger, Libertarian. The major-party candidates, Democratic Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue and Republican Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, aren't particularly objectionable. But they're both panderers... and Munger is decidedly not that. The rare LP nominee who has his head screwed on straight, Munger presents remarkably coherent views on education (public school choice, expanding charter schools) and immigration (once they get here, we kinda have to treat them like everyone else). Munger opposes tax breaks for companies that relocate here, which is good since those kinds of giveaways have plagued our budget for most of Crash Easley's administration. Overall, he's the best candidate. Here's hoping he can get over the 5% mark so NC's ridiculous ballot access laws don't decertify the Libertarians again.

There you have it. My prediction is that Obama will hold on to win by the skin of his teeth, and Price, Hagan, and McCrory will win the other races. Of course, the Presidential election will be decided on Monday night when the Steelers come to Washington for the 'Skins' last home game before the election. So considering that I voted for Obama, do I sacrifice my fanhood and root for the Steelers? Or do I root for the 'Skins, knowing that a victory guarantees a McCain win?

Fuck it. Go 'Skins.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"Godless" Bullcrap

About the only moment I remember from the 2004 RNC is my oh-so-wonderful senior senator Elizabeth Dole repeating the bizarre, ridiculous canard that "freedom of religion doesn't mean freedom from religion," as if everyone in America should be forced to join a religion or something. Anyway, fast-forward to this weekend. Dole faces a hell of a race against Democratic state Sen. Kay Hagan, and she puts out what could be the worst advertisement in the history of politics. Here it is (first video).

There's so much wrong with this ad that I can't even type a coherent blog post on how awful it is. Is it the fact that it indulges heavily in America's last socially acceptable bigotry? Is it the fact that it tries to hang the atheist label on someone who is incredibly active in her church, which is kind of like an anti-black racist going after Tony Bennett? Is it the fact that she's implying that Hagan's part of some sort of bizarre atheist conspiracy? Or is it the fake Hagan voice saying "there is no God" at the end that just puts the whole thing waaaaay over the top?

Caveat: I haven't actually seen this ad air. I'm guessing Dole knows that that crapola won't play in the Triangle, which is more culturally progressive and probably more accepting of atheists. But Dole's ads this year have been singularly awful. Check out this clunker. Note to the Dole camp: any ad that ends with the phrase "that dog won't hunt" probably sucks.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Picture That Lived

The Slant might be a shadow of its former self nowadays, but it's good to know that one of the funnier things we ran is still cruising the Intertubes (even if I had to do some rumorbusting regarding the pic having been taken at Matthew Shepard's funeral). This picture is almost six years old, and it's still out there. That's pretty awesome. I wish I could say the same for my Missy Elliott song analysis.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It's Not All About The Anti-Muslim Bigotry...

Let's hear some props for these guys - a handful of McCain-voting Muslim-Americans and one conservative Christian who confronted and chased off some people passing out anti-Obama literature with significant anti-Muslim bigotry. The world needs more people like you.

Note - this occurred at a rally in Woodbridge, VA, about 45 minutes from my hometown of Herndon.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ah, Fox News

This headline is journalism at its finest:

"Hip-Hop-Dancing Colin Powell Fuels Speculation He'll Endorse Obama:
Colin Powell showed off his hip-hop moves at an 'Africa Rising' celebration in London Tuesday, fueling speculation that the former secretary of state is about to endorse Barack Obama for president."

The article doesn't explain the connection, either. But I suppose all my friends who are fans of '30s and '40s-style swing dancing will be voting for the old white dude, right?

A Couple of Debate-Related Thoughts

Apologies to Matt for stealing his format.

Right now, I'm waiting for the "True Joe the Plumber Facts" Internet meme to start.

- Joe the Plumber has more electoral votes than the entire Mountain time zone.

- Candidates don't campaign in Ohio. They beg Joe the Plumber for mercy.

- Joe the Plumber is the one man, and he has the one vote.

- Palm Beach County won't design its ballots without first talking to Joe the Plumber.

And so on. (Go look up the Chuck Norris Facts if you have no idea what I'm talking about.)

Update: A few more I dropped in the comments here...

- Joe the Plumber is, in fact, registered to vote… three hundred times. Legally.

- Joe the Plumber survives on a diet of pure PVC.

- Joe the Plumber writes your state’s voter lists.

- Joe the Plumber rebuilt New Orleans’ levee system with only a single pipe fitting.

And some from Matt in the comments:

- Joe the Plumber has had his taxes increased and decreased 837 times in this election.

- When Joe the Plumber visits his friend he calls it "Hanging w/ Chad".

- Joe the Plumber breaks up clogs with a real live snake.

And from Ben:

- Joe the Plumber's Law: Any presidential candidate who tries to look like he's blue collar when he's not, inevitably looks incredibly silly and deserves mockery....from Joe the Plumber.

- Joe the Plumber's Corollary: Godwin and Murphy are sissies. When they wanted to make laws, they first had to ask Joe the Plumber.

I think we might have enough for a website now. Anyone got a domain name? Basic HTML skills? This needs to be started, people.

Apparently you have to go south of the Rio Grande in order to be qualified to be president. Unless you're a hot chick.

No one will ever discuss the real reason why our education system is lagging - our ridiculous culture that brands anyone who is good at math or science as a social outcast, and that calls anyone who uses a four-syllable word an "elitist." The CNN talking heads were going on about how Obama sounded professorial - and apparently that's a bad thing. Don't we want a president who sounds smart and in command?

Either no one understands the idea of the oil market, or the candidates think we're too damn dumb to understand it. You can't choose the origin of your oil, idiots. Prices are set by global supply and global demand. Deal with it.

Sarah Palin has a kid with Down's syndrome; therefore, she is an expert on special-needs education. In other news, I just made spaghetti, therefore I am Mario Batali. Oh, and at one point McCain conflated Down's syndrome and autism. Real expertise there, hotshot.

I think the most intelligent portion of all the debates was during the beginning of this last one, when the candidates discussed their plans to bail out homeowners who took out bad loans. McCain, as Matt pointed out, wants to help everyone with negative equity reset their mortgages so they don't owe more than their house's value. Obama countered, saying essentially that this plan comes dangerously close to rewarding banks for making those bad loans in the first place, and would end up being just a big old bank giveaway that wouldn't help anyone with their payments. This proposal is the only substantive thing coming out of the McCain campaign these days, and both candidates make good points. I lean towards agreement with Obama here - negative equity is a temporary phenomenon, after all, and by the time the loan is paid off the house will probably have a good deal of positive equity. If you want to stave off foreclosures, direct aid to struggling homeowners is a better way to go - though part of me thinks that if you made an investment and the value of that investment declines, that's not the government's problem.

Either way, no one addresses the cult of homeownership that's at the center of this whole boondoggle. But that's not a votegetter, I guess.

I got Bingo this time around. My prize: A yard sign for this guy.

I'm working on the rest of those election issue posts. I'll probably dump them all at once in a week or so.

Thursday, October 02, 2008


The Senate passed the bailout bill today, and a quick look through the text (not sure how any of these links will work - if they don't, go to the Thomas website, type in H.R. 1424, and you'll find it there) reveals some things that, well, aren't related to the bailout. Things like...

- A renewable energy tax credit.

- Alternative Minimum Tax cuts.

- Hurricane Ike disaster relief.

- An extension of tax credits to mine safety trainers and for mine safety equipment.

- Some sort of tax credit for car racing facilities.

- Tax incentives for investment in Washington, D.C.

- Some sort of tax breaks for movie producers, I think.

- Tax breaks for kids' wooden arrows, as long as they meet certain criteria. Better not be crazy and design an arrow shaft 3/8" in diameter...

- Settling part of the Exxon Valdez oil spill litigation... from 1989.

- Relaxing the tax standards on farm equipment. Gotta have the farm subsidies in there somewhere.

- More money to reclaim abandoned mines. Robert Byrd, is that you?

(Hat tips to Dave and Andy for pointing out some of the goofy bits of this bill.)

I'm not saying this is all bad stuff. I happen to like alternative energy tax credits. But shouldn't all this stuff be in separate bills?

The bill was originally titled the "Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act of 2007." Wellstone died in 2002 - it's unlikely that he's sponsoring a bill in 2007. It then became "An Act - To amend section 712 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, section 2705 of the Public Health Service Act, section 9812 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to require equity in the provision of mental health and substance-related disorder benefits under group health plans, to prohibit discrimination on the basis of genetic information with respect to health insurance and employment, and for other purposes." That's a mouthful, and it's still the working title of the bill. The Senate, realizing that the House has to pass revenue measures first, basically hollowed out this House bill and put its bailout bill inside, so that technically the Senate wasn't introducing revenue measures, just amending them. That's an end run around the Constitution that would make Santana Moss proud.

Instant update: Bloomberg reports that the wooden arrow provision was specifically designed by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) to benefit Myrtle Point, OR-based Rose City Archery. Somehow, Bloomberg reports that this big load of targeted tax breaks is supposed to woo House Republicans, who apparently have abandoned fiscal responsibility once and for all.

College Football, Week 5: Better Late Than Never

#19 Vanderbilt, idle: Boy, we sure pissed Ole Miss off, didn't we? The week after losing to us in a madcap game in Oxford, the Rebels turn around and beat then-#4 Florida in Gainesville. The SEC: No easy games for anyone. Except maybe Arkansas, this year.

(Postscript: I asked a Razorbacks fan I know if she's missing Houston Nutt yet. She said that she's still glad that Nutt's gone. God only knows why - Nutt seems to be doing pretty well with the smoking crater left by Ed Orgeron at Ole Miss. And Arkansas has decent players that are suffering under Bobby Petrino.)

Virginia Tech 35, Nebraska 30: I don't care who you are or how crappy Nebraska has been the past few years. Lincoln is a damn tough place to get a victory. The sign that the Hokies we know and love might be back: they opened the scoring with a safety off a blocked punt. They forced two costly turnovers - one that set up a touchdown, and the other that killed the Huskers' final drive.

And yeah, I didn't realize that Tech could score 35 points either.

#17 Utah 37, Weber State 21: This score includes 14 Weber State points in garbage time against Utah's scrubs, so it's not as close as it looks. But this was still not a good week for Utah, since they had to watch their next opponent knock off the #1 team in the country. Oregon State's for real, folks, and if Utah continues to play 30 minutes out of every ball game they'll be in for a rough ride. The good news? The Utes can actually make some noise by beating the Beavers. Without that USC win, Oregon State would have been a classic no-help game. Now they can get a little boost out of it.

BCS buster watch: TCU got embarrassed by Oklahoma, so that leaves Utah, BYU, and Boise State. And until idle BYU gives up a point - they've gone almost a month without doing so, and they go to Logan to take on woeful Utah State, so they could continue that trend this week - they're still the prohibitive favorites. After this week gave us 2007 flashbacks, I heard some mumblings that should a major-conference meltdown occur, BYU could end up being the ultimate BCS party-crashers... and get to play for a national championship. Is it possible? The Cougars are #8 now. Four Big 12 teams and two SEC teams are in front of them, plus Penn State (which still has away games against Wisconsin and Ohio State left). The chances for self-immolation up there look pretty good, really. It's worth noting that an undefeated South Florida team (currently #10) would probably get the nod over an undefeated BYU team, even though the Big East is far weaker than the Mountain West. Life's not fair, folks.