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Quiz Time

[ 23 ] January 5, 2008 |

Via Kevin Levin at Civil War Memory, there’s this addicting geography quiz that I can’t stop playing. First time through, I reached the 11th level but have been unable to duplicate my initial success. For some reason, even though I realize they don’t really measure anything terribly substantial, exercises like this stress me out. Still, I wouldn’t mind seeing this incorporated into the next several primary debates.

It goes without saying, of course, that I have better things to do. But I’m shooting for a guilt-free 2008, so who the hell cares?

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NFL Playoff Picks

[ 42 ] January 5, 2008 |

Guaranteed between 0-100% accurate!

  • Washington v. Seattle. The Seahawks are a little tough to evaluate because their schedule was so bad, but since they’ve won 3 playoff games in two years I’m not terribly worried about it. I know the Redskins are motivated by tragedy, but it’s hard to win in Seattle and I think Seattle’s pass rush will turn the 36 year-old Cinderella back into a pumpkin. Seattle (-3)
  • Jacksonville v. Pittsburgh. I’m strongly disposed to take any points the Steelers are getting at Heinz, and generally reject “momentum” (cf. above.) In this case, however, the momentum has a good reason; the Steelers seem to be pulling fans out of the stands to play on their offensive line, which is going to be a serious problem against the Jags. And Gerrard has quietly turned in an outstanding season. Jacksonville (-2 1/2)
  • Giants v. Tampa Bay. Giants fans seem really confident about this, for reasons that escape me. I don’t read much into the Giants’ small-sample road record this year, and still think it will be tough to win a playoff game on the road. And it’s not just that Jeff Garcia is a much better QB even at 37 than Eli “But I’m Related To Famous Quarterbacks! Really!” Manning, but that Tampa Bay’s secondary will largely take away Manning’s one NFL skill (his ability to throw a deep ball) and demands low-mistake, precision passing (which is a problem because Manning doesn’t have that game.) Tampa (-3)
  • Tennessee v. San Diego. Straight up, I think the talent differential between the teams is beyond the reach of even Norv Turner to fuck up. But I think the Titan defense will make this a little closer than most people expect. Tennessee (+10)
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Don’t Take My Word For It

[ 0 ] January 5, 2008 |

The Clinton campaign is arguing that Obama is too “progressive” for their tastes, with a little too much background in community activism. Indeed. Obama just doesn’t have the Joementum! for Mark Penn, Union Buster.

A couple points in response to this thread:

  • Archpundit has a response to questions about the difficulty of getting the interrogation videotaping bill passed here: “It was fought tooth and nail Kevin. The cops and prosecutors were adamantly against it for some time including the Democratic Cook County Prosecutor. I swore reform was dead after the commutations, Obama pulled it off. It was an incredible sight. The end result was truly amazing. The police groups hated the idea and they hated racial profiling legislation — he passed both without angering them, but by working with them, listening, and showing good faith. I never thought it would pass with Democratic State’s Attorneys opposing it, strongly even — but he pulled everyone along and did it pretty quickly.”
  • I agree wholeheartedly that Obama isn’t “the second coming of JFK.” If you’re looking in increase the chances of a presidency with negligible, center-right domestic policy achievements combined with an ruinously idiotic war, Clinton’s your candidate (although, really, the comparison is unfair to her as well.)
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It’s the Other Way

[ 0 ] January 5, 2008 |

I assume that most people have seen the season 5 premiere On Demand; if you haven’t, please do so now. After watching the entire series On Demand over the course of the past four months, I now feel like an ordinary loser, having to sit around and wait for new episodes to turn up.

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Obama’s Legislative Achievements

[ 55 ] January 4, 2008 |

An important piece by Charles Peters about Obama’s work in the Illinois legislature, including working to compel both houses of the legislature into passing a law requiring videotaped confessions — the kind of civil liberties protection that it’s very difficult to get legislatures to initiate. As Hilzoy pointed out, this has often been true at the federal level as well. He’s sponsored important and generally good legislation on important but low-profile issues, as opposed to doing stuff like sponsoring idiotic and unconstitutional flag-burning legislation. When you combine this record with a stunning ability to mobilize new voters, progressive backers of Clinton against Obama should have a very uphill struggle on their hands in trying to persuade progressives to back their candidate.

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Romney Hack Watch

[ 36 ] January 4, 2008 |

Not that his supporters could mount anything but the most feeble arguments, but claiming that Obama won Iowa (approximate percentage of white people: 106%) because someone wanted to vote “for someone like them” really is idiocy beyond the call of duty.

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[ 8 ] January 4, 2008 |

Former Obsidian Wings blogger Andrew Olmsted was killed in Iraq. His courage was admirable, and sincerest condolences to his friends and family.

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9/11. And May I Say Also , 9/11!

[ 0 ] January 4, 2008 |

As regrettable as it is that McCain is likely to be the GOP nominee, watching Rudy’s self-paradoic self-immolation will provide considerable amusement. Elsewhere, I also have to ask how Giuliani’s strategy of running token campaigns in the first two states could possibly make any sense.

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The Obama Victory Speech

[ 7 ] January 4, 2008 |

Whatever you think about his politics, you have got to give it to the man: he gives good speech.

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Obama/Iginla ’08!

[ 0 ] January 4, 2008 |

As I turned to my distraction from inane television punditry, it occurred to me that we could see not only the first African-American president but the first NHL MVP of color in 2008. Clearly, Iginla was robbed of the ’02 MVP because of the grand cosmic plan! Everything is falling into place!

Seriously, even I skipped most of the first period to watch Obama’s speech, and I concur with the emerging consensus that it was superb. And not surprisingly so — it guarantees nothing, but he has the best political skills of any major Democrat since Bill Clinton. More generally, tonight’s events push me closer to being unambiguously pro-Obama. First, I think having lost Iowa Edwards can’t actually win; the best he can do is to stay strong enough to hand the race to Clinton, which remains the least desirable outcome. And second, his ability to mobilize new voters is a huge asset, especially since he’s also more progressive than the at least one of the two other major candidates.

And, of course I have to join Becks in saluting the U.S.’s supremely rational electoral system and the wisdom of giving the first vote to the fine citizens of Iowa…

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An Endorsement…and Not for a Candidate

[ 0 ] January 4, 2008 |

So, unlike my compatriots, I’m keeping my political endorsements mum for now (though it’s safe to say that I won’t be supporting Hillary). But I do have a film endorsement.

Tonight, I skipped out on Iowa caucus coverage and went to see There Will be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson’s new…masterpiece. Brilliantly shot, taut. Brutal, really. In addition, you’ve got a mind-bogglingly good performance by Daniel Day-Lewis (when you’re watching him in this role, you can’t imagine him as any other character), and a brilliant score by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood. Wow. And, I have to say, a more exciting evening than the Iowa returns (about which I will just say: Let’s hope Huckabee flares out even faster than Dean did in 2004).

Yes yes, the film says nothing about the state of American capitalism or political affairs. But – for once at least – I’m willing to put that aside, because it’s a damn good movie.

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[ 14 ] January 4, 2008 |

Obama wins in Iowa–good; hopefully Edwards will finish second. Huckabee wins the GOP, with Saint McCain currently running a distant 4th with 12%, behind Frederick of Hollywood. Which I’m sure won’t stop the inevitable narrative that this is a massive victory for the Straight Talkitude Express.

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