Insight. Antics.

Archive for January, 2010|Monthly archive page

A New Episode Of LOST: Live-Blogging Obama’s First State Of The Union.

In Politics on January 27, 2010 at 2:36 am

POTUS is delivering his first State of the Union address tonight. Here’s a quick primer, written by Hillary’s cantankerous former campaign honcho. Okay, my fingertips are on the keyboard. Hopefully I will have something to say. I just feel so inadequate now without an iPad.

Coming into tonight’s address, when I think of the Obama Adminstration, I think of what Liam Neeson said to Bruce Wayne early on in Batman Begins: “Whatever your original intentions… you have become truly lost.”

It’s not so much that they have screwed up the country, but they are in a rut. Scratch that, I think slump works better. Y’know what, let’s just go with “ditch” and get on with the speech. Maybe POTUS will pull off an upset tonight, though it’s not bloody likely.

Shakedown! | 9:05 p.m. Some members of Congress camp out all day to be seen shaking the president’s hand now. Last year, this was certainly the case. I wonder how many less pitched a tent in the pews of the House chamber this year? Oh, he’s coming in! God, this entrance make me want to watch The American President.

Bad Optics | 9:12 p.m. Whatever Obama says, I bet he wishes he could swap in some alternates. That visual of Biden and (especially) Pelosi behind him can only do harm right now. Nonetheless, I’m digging his tie.

Bipartisan Ovation | 9:17 p.m. United hatred of the bailout gets Republicans and Democrats to stand for the first ovation of the speech.

Bailout “As Popular As Root Canal” | 9:19 p.m. Oh, no you didn’t! Dentists have got to be marshaling their resources to take down Obama now. On a related note, Joe Biden’s been overdosing on Crest Whitestrips.

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Extreme Court Makeover.

In Advertising, Media, Politics on January 22, 2010 at 3:11 am

Man, every time the Supreme Court seems to be forgotten about for a while, it comes roaring back to the fore and shakes things up. This time they really did it, overturning key campaign finance limits, which will allow corporations and unions to spend unlimited sums of money to influence elections. Talk about judicial activism.

Hey, and it was another nail biter. Okay, not really. It split predictably along ideological lines. Yup, another 5-4 ruling! Maybe 5-4 rulings should just not count. Make it like a veto: two thirds majority. 6-3 or bust.

By the way, can the justices make some more public appearances, please? For one, it seems like they make these huge declarations and then hide behind the curtain Wizard of Oz-style. Moreover, the once-annual footage of them coming out for a class picture in full robed regalia is almost as worn out as that clip of Bill Clinton hugging Monica Lewinsky.

Today’s ruling, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, is the judicial equivalent of a 20-yard loss and it’s going to be felt almost immediately. It reverses important components of the McCain-Feingold law (officially called the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002), two important related rulings, and “a century old-understanding,” as The New York Times put it, that imposed sensible balances on organizations affecting elections.

Am I missing something? Do the special interests not already have enough power? Are they not lobbying and throwing millions around behind closed doors to great effect? You need only look at the health care, climate change, and financial reform legislation to see their impacts.

We need some stare decisis up in here! Was this not settled law? I mean c’mon, it was bipartisan! Doesn’t that count as the same thing? Read the rest of this entry »

Mass Killing.

In Politics on January 21, 2010 at 2:11 am

So, a Republican won a Senate seat in Massachusetts. That is a special election indeed. Upsets like this give the New Jersey Nets, currently 3-37, hope of making the playoffs. In honor of the roughly five points that Senator-elect Scott Brown won by, here are five points on the race, in decreasing order of obviousness:

5. Sports can only hurt a politician. (Exception: Bill Bradley.) Just days before the vote, in the capital of Red Sox Nation, Democratic candidate Martha Coakley made a thunderous blunder on a radio show. Curt Schilling, a Yankee Fan? This guy is the pitcher that brought the Curse of the Bambino to an end for the Red Sox. He’s most famous for playing through a game in the ALCS against the Yankees that year with a bloody sock. He literally had a red sock! Come on, Coakley!

4. The Republican brand remains in trouble, but so does the Democratic one. Statewide losses in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts? These are all states that went for Obama in 2008 and are moderate or progressive. I am a strong believer that perception is reality, or that it quickly becomes it. The writing is on the wall. If I had to put money down today, I’d bet the Democrats will lose seats in both houses in November. Read the rest of this entry »

Peacockeyed.

In Media on January 8, 2010 at 2:06 am

Through vague messages and a dubious PR job, news broke yesterday afternoon that NBC is planning to reinstate Jay Leno in his old slot. This is a bad idea.

The proposal appears to be to re-insert Leno at 11:35 right after the local news, but just for a half-hour, after which the current lineup would take over, starting at 12:05 with Conan O’Brien’s current Tonight Show running for an hour. Jimmy Fallon has got to be thinking, “How am I going to think of new ways not to be funny even later at night?” I’d rather watch Carson Daly.

NBC affiliates are pushing for some kind of change because their local newscasts are not getting a good lead-in from Leno, so this is what the network has come up with. Leno’s ratings fell after a decent start, but had since leveled off. Um, moving Leno from one side of the news to the other doesn’t sound like it’s going to fix a ratings problem.

This change is coming just as Comcast is about to take the reigns of NBC Universal. Perhaps this decision is also trickling down from them?

Either way, it’s a shortsighted, kneejerk reaction. It’s only been seven months. ABC has not given up on Jimmy Kimmel’s show in seven years (wow, that went fast) and he has gained in the ratings.

Conan’s finding his new voice. But David Letterman, in spite of, because of, or having nothing to do with his peculiar scandal, has taken his first big ratings lead in years, so the Peacock people are nervous.

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BLOVIATOR: AP Yemen.

In Politics, War on January 6, 2010 at 5:39 am

Bloviate (v.)  \ˈblō-vē-ˌāt\

to speak or write verbosely and windily

Just when you thought it was out… it pulled you back in! What better time for the triumphant return of the Bloviator than a new decade? For previous editions, click here.

I took a bunch of Advanced Placement classes back in high school, but somehow “AP Yemen” was not an option. What can I say, it was a public school.

This left me with a lot of research to do in the aftermath of the botched terror plot on Northwest Airlines Flight 253, when the Nigerian perpetrator, Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab, claimed training and support from a group in Yemen. He smuggled 80 grams (frightening that’s all he would have needed) of the explosive PETN onto the flight, in his briefs. Or was it boxers? Either way, I hope he singed his bollocks.

If there is any justice in life, it is that he will forever be known as the “Underwear Bomber.”

Like most Americans until now, my knowledge of Yemen had pretty much come from episodes of The Unit. Suffice it to say, I had some catching up to do.

My key takeaway can best be expressed in the form of a pitch to the Yemeni board of tourism: “Yemen: it’s like Afghanistan, with waterfront property.”

What else came out of my crash course on Yemen? Here we go. (Disclaimer: I read a lot. This may get boring.) Read the rest of this entry »