Pattern Recognition, or, the Kobayashi Maru

The narrowing of the race stems from mid-July, right around the time Steve Schmidt’s influence as the new showrunner for Team McCain began to take hold. That’s when the whole “Celebrity” theme first emerged, to be clubbed over and over without reticence, and the constant exposure of the new memes (and some whipped up out of whole cloth by media whores* ) is taking points off the front-runner.

But the problem for McCain is that the numbers remain pegged at 45%. Looking at how the percentages have changed, it doesn’t appear that the Rove Schmidt offense has accomplished much beyond coaxing some wavering Rs back into the fold. And if you’re running the show for the R’s, you know that number’s never going to climb by much. The economy’s in the shitter, Iraq’s going nowhere, Osama Bin Laden’s still alive, and the incumbent Republican President is more popular than herpes but less than the clap. By rights, if you’re running the Rs, you’re trying to make sure the most padded part of your ass is what gets kicked and hope nobody holds it against you next time out.

And yet.

For Schmidt, it’s back to the Rove offense, because at this point there’s nothing else to run. If the GOP is going to win, it won’t be on issues or on the record of the last eight years, it’ll be because enough people got turned off to Obama to skip out on voting – and the GOP base got whipped into enough of a frenzy to come out in droves. Basically, Obama has to be made radioactive, which is why you’re seeing all the “celebrity” stuff. Obama is for movie stars and shallow college girls. Real Americans wouldn’t vote for that. Plus, there are enough other people down South who can pump out the racist stuff; no need for the campaign to do it.

And yet.

Basically, for this to work, Bob Barr has to be a non-entity, Ralph Nader’s army of retards** needs to be bigger than ever, the Obama ground forces need to completely flop on their registration and get-out-the-vote operation, and the political press needs to roll over and play dead. Right now, the only piece of the puzzle in place is the press (and maybe Barr).

And the big fear, if I’m running the campaign, is that this is the rope-a-dope. That Obama’s gone on vacation, phoned it in for two weeks, spent all that time on the beach watching Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt – and next week, he’s going to have a captive audience, the very forum that made his name four years ago, and a switch from “primary” to “general election,” which means the odometer resets on that whole arsenal of donors who kicked in $50 million just last month. By Labor Day, he’ll have his convention bump, a fresh start, and the promise of as much as $150 million down the stretch to sell the dream. If I’m Steve Schmidt, the thing that makes me bolt upright in bed at 3 AM is the thought that this was the best shot, and all it got was a statistical tie – and in six weeks, it’ll be back to a 150-EV loss.

Needless to say, that’s not much of a future. So if I’m running the GOP campaign, I’m going for a “shoot the hostage” play: on Thursday morning, as everyone gets ready for Obama’s big speech, I’m rolling out Joe Lieberman as the VP nominee for the GOP.

This does a couple of things. For one, it ensures that Obama has to share the headlines for the rest of the week, possibly kneecapping the post-convention bounce. For another, it provokes wave after wave of orgasmic rapture in the DC punditocracy; the idea that the brave political maverick has reached across the aisle for his VP – and not for just anybody but another maverick, the one who was the Dems’ VP only eight years ago – well, the magical unity pony will be in the barn, and if there’s one thing the press cannot help but salivate over, it’s the magical unity pony.

Now I know what you’re saying: “You’re crazy! The Republicans won’t take a northeastern Jewish liberal as their VP!” And I say: that’s where you’re wrong. Who was the first Democrat off the blocks to bemoan the perfidy of Bill Clinton during impeachment? Who was the first to cast aspersion on Hollywood and the video-game industry for their lack of morality? Who put up a matador defense down the stretch in 2000? And more to the point, who’s the most gung-ho advocate of subduing the Middle East by force? If McCain’s going to win this thing, it’s not going to be on any “culture of life,” it’s not going to be on anything economic, it’s going to be on the big-stick approach to international affairs and nothing else. And Lieberman, as the only Likud Senator, is a reliable advocate for the big stick.

Besides, remember all the crocodile tears about how conservatives would rather vote for Hillary than McCain? They’ll get over it. They always get over it, because the constant refrain at the end of the day is always “the other guys are worse.” The people who constantly complain about having to vote for the lesser of two evils? I’ll give you a hint: they’re never Republicans.

So that’s the move: McCain-Lieberman. It also pays off in one other way: it forces the Democrats to basically drop the penny as far as Lieberman caucusing with them. Making him a full-on Republican dumps the Senate back to 50-50, and irrespective of how much business the Senate is transacting for the rest of the year (not much) or what kind of provisions are already in place to handle a reversion to a split house (hint: not worth the paper they’re written on, if push comes to shove), it creates a cauldron of merry mayhem at a time when the Ds can ill-afford to have a flaming shitbag on their back stoop. Think “the Democrats are clinging to power when they don’t have a majority” and “Why is Obama not voting on the reorganization of the Senate?” and remember that the Congress has an approval rating below herpes right now.

I’m not saying it’s a perfect plan, or even a good one. What I am saying is that this is the kind of year where the GOP stands to take it right in the ass, and the only way to prevent a complete disaster is to do something to radically change the game. In this case, Trek fans***, my choice is simple: torpedo the damned freighter.

* Not gender-specific, but a shout-out to an old blog called Media Whores Online which did a good job pummeling the press for the way it bent over backwards to try to prevent conservatives saying mean things about them. Besides, specifically calling Cokie Roberts a dumb whore would, I think, be an unfair slander against the good name of whores. Whores built San Francisco and don’t you forget it.

** I’m not kidding. If you vote for Nader in 2008, you are a mental defective. This is not opinion, or rage, or abuse, it is a fact, and it is indisputable.

*** Not much of a Trek fan myself, but I needed something other than a Keanu Reeves movie that would let me employ the “shoot the hostage” angle. Look, it’s 1 in the morning and I’m trying to rage myself to sleep, whaddya want from me? Besides, you just read 1300 words of this drivel, so who’s the donkey now, wise guy?

Well that’s mighty white of him

Toby Keith praises Obama

Very interesting to see how this shakes out, given that the forthcoming election has already brought about what many suspect is the end of Big ‘n Rich (at least according to the Nashville version of the Great Mentioner).

I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t tell Toby Keith to STFU and caterwaul about Fords some more, as his opinion is no more interesting than John Rich or Lee Greenwood’s.

Hanging Out Tuesday’s Wash

* I was speculating on what is the opposite of a Druid. Whatever the urban version is, that’s me. My powers are derived form public transit, pedestrian accessibility, major-league sports facilities, and a Starbucks on the back side of the same building as another Starbucks.

* My powers are also derived from whopping huge great quantities of FOG. I now get irritable whenever the temp creeps above 73 degrees outside.

* Aside from replacing a black shell that I spilled bleach on (and promptly corroded right through), I have not bought a new piece of outerwear in almost four years. This is a downright stunning figure, as from roughly 1990 to 2004, I was on more than one new jacket per year. Ridiculous things, too, like a Vandy pullover Starter jacket (as seen in 02-02-02) and a custom black-and-white varsity letter jacket (with no letter) and a black duster (it was on blowout clearance at an online store catering to Highlander fans) and most ridiculous of all, the last one in December 2004, something that looks like a jean jacket only made out of some sort of water-repellent brown suede. I am now trying to see if I can store some of this crap and get my apparel needs simplified to the point where I don’t look an ass.

* The oxblood Docs may not have been the best choice in attempting to reach the above-cited goal.

* Really not looking forward to this weekend. Some company you just can’t deal with.

* A quick check of the climate patterns reveals that relative to every place else I have ever lived, being in Silicon Valley basically amounts to “six months of October in DC, six months of March in Alabama.” No wonder “performance outerwear” is near the top of the list of Stuff White People Like – around here, one fleece and one rain shell basically covers your entire jacket needs. When a plain 3-season leather jacket is routinely too heavy to be worn, it’s time to clean out my closet…

* It is the height of irony to realize you have no backup of your Retrospect server.

* Irony is not funny.

* My Friend Vince Sez that he disavows all responsibility for the fire last week and that neither he nor his travel BBQ firebox were anywhere within the legally provable vicinity of Cupertino Hexachromatic Produce Holdings, Inc. As far as you know.



Maybe I’m late to the game here, but seriously, I saw purple spots in front of my eyes when I saw this line attributed to John McCain:

“My friends, we have reached a crisis, the first probably serious crisis internationally since the end of the Cold War. This is an act of aggression.”

Now, this could be a misquote. This could be something invented out of whole cloth by some Mumia-worshipper from International ANSWER, or maybe one of those sad-sack Nader 2008 hipsters. It’s possible he never said anything like this.


If John McCain actually said this – actually said that this ridiculous brushfire dustup is the first serious crisis internationally since the end of the Cold War – then he shouldn’t be running for President, he should be in a fucking home. As memory serves me right, we have had Iraq invading Kuwait and threatening Saudi Arabia, we’ve had the collapse of the Balkans and an attempt at genocide, and let’s see, what else? Oh yeah, THREE THOUSAND DEAD ON AMERICAN SOIL.

Either he’s gone utterly galactically stupid, or just doesn’t give a shit. Either should be instantly disqualifying, but let’s not forget, the most important thing in choosing a President is who you’d rather have a beer with.


Michael Phelps is what happens when a fish makes love to a jet engine.

Seriously, this is the most utter and complete ass-whipping since Hannibal rolled into Cannae. Well done young man.

The scarlet G

It was, in fact, 30 years ago today that the letter was sent to the house informing my parents that I was eligible for “special educational services.” Ultimately it was the first step down the long and winding road that ends up with me here tapping away on this laptop in this house in this state.

In years past, I might have been prouder of this. Or angrier about it. As it stands now, I think James said it best: “If I hadn’t seen such riches, I could live with being poor.” The ride may not always be smooth, but the view is spectacular.

A slightly bigger deal is that this is very nearly the first thing I can think of where I can say something happened 30 years ago. This is me, circling the drain…

Flashback, part 3 of n

I know I’ve written before about that first autumn at Vanderbilt, but I stumbled across my entire “Old Vanderbilt” playlist a couple of days ago and was swept right back in again. One memory clearer than any others: on the morning we left to drive up, I walked out into the back yard with a Mason jar, out to the patch of yard where once lay the sandpile I played in as a preschooler, and scooped a jarful of earth to seal up and take with me. It would be over a decade before I could open it again…

Continue reading “Flashback, part 3 of n”