A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Obama Rolls Through Virginia

At least according to Matt Yglesias. Assuming the whopping 2-1 disparity holds up across the entire vote, I will be curious to see how the Clintons can spin the loss as anything other than huge. For some ideas on that count, do read the comments below Matt's post. They are really funny.

My personal favorite:

According to the linked exit poll, Clinton won among lapsed Catholics.

Everyone knows the Democrats can't win key swing states in the general election without the lapsed Catholic vote.

Therefore, the superdelegates should make Clinton the nominee.

Hee hee. Go Barack!

Meanwhile McCain is struggling to put away that pesky Mike Huckabee. The fact that Mike Huckabee can get anyone smarter than a toaster to vote for him is mind-boggling to me. And I mean no offense to toasters. Some of them, like this one, are quite bright-- for toasters.

Man, this is fun stuff.

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Shorter Clinton Campaign Spin

Really, only Texas and Ohio count. All those other states-- not so much.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Who Didn't See This Coming?

Turns out Bio-fuels on a large scale actually cause more greenhouse gas emissions. What a shock. Yes-- that was sarcasm. Bio-fuels, in particular ethanol but also various grasses and seaweeds as well, have been put forth as a fuel alternative to oil and gas for decades. Turn them into alcohol and then burn the alcohol in modified combustion engines or mix it with regular gasoline. The conclusion has always been that the amount of oil and gas consumed transforming the bio-source into combustible energy was at or close to the zero-sum range. That is to say, to make a gallon of ethanol required the consumption-- through direct (ie, running equipment to make the ethanol) and indirect (ie., running the machines necessary to build the ethanol plant) causes-- of close to a gallon of gasoline.

On top of that, there were always concerns with side-effects like the incompatibility of ethanol with small engines (borne out by the fact that most outboards, snow blower, lawn mower and other small engines run poorly on ethanol and wear out faster, requiring people to buy more of them and more frequently) and the possible inflation of food prices as corn and other crops are converted to fuel production (borne out by the rapidly inflating costs of beef, soda and other products that rely on corn or corn byproducts like corn syrup). Plus, you get worse gas mileage with ethanol, meaning you use more of it to go the same distance as with gasoline. Now throw in the fact that more forests are being converted to crop production to keep up with the bio-fuel demand and the fact that sub-prime land is being converted to crop production to keep up with demand and you get more erosion, more runoff, more animal displacement and probably a variety of other ills.

Ethanol is a bad answer to a real and very difficult problem. But I've known that since high school when it was a big topic for several of the debate topics we had back then. How come it took billions of dollars and oodles of wasted time, energy and resources for so many people to realize it? It's a boondoggle of gianormous proportions that benefits nobody but the ethanol industry and, to a small degree, corn farmers.

Now, on a small scale bio-fuels can work. No doubt everyone has read the "I run my car on old French Fry grease" stories. And perhaps there is a breakthrough in the processing that can make them feasible on a large scale. But right now, it's a boondoggle and if the government wants to help, it should be facilitating research into how to improve the process rather than forcing motorists to use a crappy fuel in their cars and small engines for no discernible purpose other than to line the pockets of those in the ethanol business.

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

And So It Begins

I heard an advertisement on the radio this morning on my way into work and-- I'm not kidding-- at first I thought it was for Larry Clinton. It featured three "normal" people in southeastern Wisconsin talking about how Larry Clinton was really qualified for the job. What job? School Board? That's about the only thing up for grabs around here. Then I listened closer-- DUH!--Hillary Clinton running for this little office known as POTUS.

It just never occurred to me that there would be presidential primary ads in Wisconsin. Our primary is so late in the process that there has never been an election where my primary vote mattered. Given the thumping Romney took on Tuesday, my primary vote almost certainly won't matter on the Republican side as John McCain has it sewed up pretty tightly.

But on the Democrat side....

Well, that my friends is an animal of an entirely different color. Sort of a mauveish, tealish, gingham sort of color. Quite odd. But interesting. Yes, very interesting.

At present Larry Clinton (Yes, I probably will continue to refer to Hill as Larry for the rest of this post and likely all future posts) has an edge of Barack Obama because of her Super Delegates. Now, these folks can leap buildings in a single bound and melt steel with their eyes, so you can see how having 193 of these people to Obama's 106 is an advantage. But in the plain old, ordinary non-bending railroad ties into pretzel delegates, Obama is ahead 635 to 630. And the next several primaries/caucuses on the Democrat side are Nebraska, Washington, Maine, D.C., Maryland and Virginia. All of which favor Obama. A virtual dead heat right now. It would be hard for the two candidates to be any closer at this point in the race.

Which brings us to Tuesday, Feb. 19-- the day of Wisconsin's primary vote. We're in play. We will be bombarded by advertisements and visits like nobody's business between Feb. 12 and Feb. 19. Part of me can't wait. Part of me is dreading every minute of tedious advertising I will have to slog through while driving to and from work and watching tv after work.

But it is fun to matter, even if it only happens every thirty years or so.

Who am I voting for? Well, let's see: Barack and Larry have very similar policy initiatives and though the experience issue is central to Larry's campaign, it's hard to see how she has a whole lot more than Barack. She's been a senator longer, but otherwise she's been... umm... First Lady? This is solid experience for running the country? As for Barack, well I think this post over at Andrew Sullivan's place pretty well sums it up for me.

And their character and demeanor and oratorical skills could hardly be more starkly in opposition. Larry is tied to the scandals and muck-raking of her husband. She hesitates not at all to play the gender/feminism card. Her rhetoric is boring, pedestrian and still inevitably tied to berating George Bush and condemning the past. She has the charm of an iguana and the compassion and empathy of a rock.

Barack has Reznock, but compare him to all of the questionable Clinton donors and I think I'll take the young man from Illinois, thanks. As to demeanor, well there is really no contest is there? It's not a man v. woman thing or an age thing-- it's simply that Obama has more presence than Clinton. He commands attention, she demands it. An important distinction, at least to me.

And the rhetoric and oratory? Ye gods, what a mismatch. I watched the Tuesday night speeches to the assembled faithful and the contrast was not just startling, it was alarming. Larry has no panache, no passion, no themes, no... nothing. She's got nothing. Tired, boring, rote and rooted in the past pretty well sums her speech up:

Then listen to Obama's speech (part 1 on the left, part 2 on the right:

There are a few missteps that keep it from being truly great, but it is still a fantastic bit of oratory. He has the cadence, the delivery and the words to captivate an audience and the message behind the show is just dead on balls accurate (It's an industry term). He is a natural. "We are the change we have been waiting for" (The 7:46 minute mark of the part 2). I had goosebumps-- for a "thanks for campaigning for me" speech!

Now I admit I don't like Larry much, nor do I like her husband. I think they are political opportunists of the worst kind-- on a level with Karl Rove and the smart portion of the mean portion of the Republican party. But even if I believed her, and I most definitely don't, I see nothing in her skill set that makes me think she'll be able to accomplish most of what she envisions. And I don't think she'll win in the fall-- she's too polarizing. There are too many people that actively dislike her and all that she and her husband embody. I think McCain trounces her-- I know I'll vote for John in a heartbeat over Larry.

But Barack... well, that's a different story. It's close and things may well change between now and November-- but right now I'd vote for Obama over McCain.

He's got the mojo, man. Don't fight the mo.

Yes we can.


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