Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Gordon Smith is a big flip-flopper, and everyone knows it

The news today is that Oregon senator Gordon "weathervane" Smith has decided to throw caution and political sensibilities to the wind and defend departing GOP senator Trent Lott's inane comments about Strom Thurmond. You remember that moment from a few year's back, when Lott said that had the rest of the country followed Mississippi's lead in voting for Thurmond for president in 1948, "we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years." (Those problems, presumably, having something to do with uppity members of certain races getting uppity and thinking they deserved certain rights under our Constitution.)

Today, however, Gordon Smith got up on the Senate floor and said the following about his good buddy Trent's racist comments:

"I watched over international news as his words were misconstrued, words which we had heard him utter many times in his big warm-heartedness trying to make one of our colleagues, Strom Thurmond, feel good at 100 years old. We knew what he meant. But the wolfpack of the press circled around him, sensed blood in the water, and the exigencies of politics caused a great injustice..."
The only problem here is that Gordo's got himself a teeny tiny memory, forgetting that his initial response back in 2002 was not so generous:
"However they were intended, Senator Lott's words were offensive and I was deeply dismayed to hear of them," Smith said in a brief statement. "His statement goes against everything I and the people of Oregon believe in."
Oh yeah, and then three days later, when Lott stepped down as majority leader, Smith said he was glad that he had resigned. Sigh. It's become quite the pattern for Smith. Say one thing one day, get a bucket of praise from The Oregonian and other naiive media outlets, and then turn around and say/do the opposite. Let's see if someone in the local media actually has the guts to call him on it this time.

Friday, December 14, 2007

In bold strategy, Clemens attempts to distract attention from steroid report with new absurd hairstyle

It's a risky gambit, but if anyone has the chops to distract the public from an incrimination steroid report by featuring an absurd yes-I'm-a-45-year-old-man-with-a-receeding-hairline-but-I-can-
still-get-frosted-tips hairstyle, it's Roger Clemens.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Reaction to the Mitchell Report

This is the room of people who were surprised to hear that Roger Clemens has been taking buttloads of steroids.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Stupid online polls, KGW (Portland, OR) edition

There's been some unsettling talk in recent days that Oregon might be heading for something of a recession--leading economic indicators (payrolls, etc.) are down, and a group of economists from the University of Oregon apparently think there is a substantial risk to the state's economy. So, naturally, into the breach storms one of my least favorite dispensers of the local news, KGW.com, who asks its viewers to answer this highly relevant poll question:

Now, here's what I don't get: why the specificity? Why the "yes, my job would probably be at risk"? Isn't it possible to be worried about the economy even if one's job isn't at risk? I mean, I *think* my job could probably survive a not-too-nasty recession, but I still don't really relish the thought of having one. That is to say, my job would survive, but other things--the jobs of my friends, restaurants in my neighborhoods, the budget for local schools--could take a substantial hit. Why not simply write "yes, I'm concerned about the impact of a recession"?

Actually, the reason is pretty simple: the "no" answer--"I feel secure"--is much more general, and it could very well be that they wrote the poll in such a way as to generate a happy news story--more people are optimistic than pessimistic. The current results have the "no's" in the lead by about 10 points, so I could be on to something.

The disturbing implication, of course, is that they understand that people are unable to think about national politics in a way that does not intimately involve them. According to this view, the only reason you'd be concerned about a recession is if your job was threatened.

Or, it could be that I'm simply overanalyzing something that an intern wrote in about two minutes. ¡Viva blogging!

Japanese baseball player to provide millions of American teenagers* with stupid joke for the next decade

Sports Illustrated reports today that a famous Japanese baseball player plans to follow the lead of guys like Ichiro and Matsui and play ball in the United States. Where Ichiro and Matsui lack that "ha ha, you have a funny name!11!!!!" quality, however, this guy has it in spades:

NAGOYA, Japan (AP) -- Japanese outfielder Kosuke Fukudome told the Chunichi Dragons he will not return next season, saying he wants to make a move to the major leagues.
Fukudome? Oh, good lord.

*"teenager," it should be noted, is a category that also includes every Sportscenter anchor.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Idiot of the Week: Mike Huckabee Edition

It's easy to pick on poor Mike Huckabee: sure, he used to be fat and still walks like a fat guy, and he thinks he's pretty nifty for having a toupee'd fool like Chuck Norris as his biggest celebrity endorsement, and he's got one of the most redneck last names in American political history. However, just when you feel like maybe the guy's a little bit more than a wisecracking redneck southern governor with zero foreign policy experience and a domestic policy team made up of three high school interns and his illegal-weapon packing son, he goes and says something stupid. Witness this luncacy:

Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee refused to retract a statement he made in 1992 calling for the isolation of AIDS patients.

Responding to an Associated Press questionnaire, Huckabee said steps should be taken to "isolate the carriers of this plague" during his failed run for a U.S. Senate seat from Arkansas 15 years ago.

He said he probably would not make the same statement today because of what is known about how HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is transmitted.

"I had simply made the point -- and I still believe this today -- that in the late '80s and early '90s, when we didn't know as much as we do now about AIDS, we were acting more out of political correctness than we were about the normal public health protocols that we would have acted," Huckabee told Fox News on Sunday.
First of all, OF COURSE he said this to Fox News. Second of all, he acts as though the only rational course of action in the 1980s was to segregate people with AIDS. I remember way back when (certainly earlier than 1992, when Huckabee said this) that people were saying that you could not get AIDS from casual, incidental contact with someone who had AIDS. His comment may not have been radical in 1983, but by 1992 there was substantial evidence to the contrary.

What this shows, of course, is that the George W. Bush-inspired Republican Party has inherited its master's inability/refusal to admit a mistake. What Huckabee should say in this instance is: "Look, I made a mistake--I was wrong, and I admit it." Instead, he chooses the coward's way out, and tries to blame his ultra-conservative (and mistaken) views on the prevailing public sentiment at the time.

Finally, this shows the danger in ignoring science, as the Republican party tries to do time and time again. Whether it is the Bush administration ignoring science on global warming, or conservative Christians ignoring science on AIDS (to say nothing about the failure of "abstinence-only education," Huckabee's absurd comments show what can happen when you ignore the actual research on an issue in favor of pandering to the worst elements in the voting public.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Really? Socks?

Sigh. You know you're getting older when you actually contemplate ASKING FOR socks for Christmas rather than running from the room in horror upon unwrapping a package of them. Yikes. What has happened to me? Whatever happened to that kid who was so thrilled to get Laser Tag and assorted wacky toys of the 80s? He grew up, I guess, and became a lame sock lover.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

KGW news produces least helpful story in internet history

Ok, a questions: if you were issuing a news story talking about the release of a sketch of a guy who is alleged to have attacked a local college student, what is the ONE piece of information you'd want to include with the story? Exactly--a copy of the sketch. One additional question: take a guess at what single piece of information was NOT included in KGW.com's story about the attacker? Exactly--a copy of the sketch. Sheesh.

I know the whole gradually-moving-stories-to-the-internet thing is tricky and complicated, but is it too much to ask local news stations to provide graphics in stories like this one? KGW is notoriously bad in this respect (KATU has the sketch, for example); I think they must have some sort of automated system that just puts copy on the website without bothering to ensure that all the relevant information is included.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Barack Obama the latest to recognize India's growing power

This video doesn't approach the navel-gazing intensity of a Mike Gravel campaign spot, but it does illustrate the crossover potential of Barack Obama going Bollywood. Set to a stirring techno beat and featuring multi-colored elephants, cleverly edited footage of Obama speaking Hindi, and clips of the big man himself getting funky, this is sure to lock up the crucial Indian-American vote that is so important in early primary states like Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.