YEP.

Posted in Quick Hits on September 30th, 2008 by Ed

Really.

COURIC: And when it comes to establishing, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this to stay informed and understand the world?

PALIN: I’ve read most of them, again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media.

COURIC: Like what ones specifically?

PALIN: Umm… all of them. Any of them that have been in front of me over all these years.

COURIC: Can you name any of them?

PALIN: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news…

CUSTER: "I THINK I SEE SOME INDIANS."

Posted in Rants on September 30th, 2008 by Ed

The basic plot of what has happened in our financial system for the past few months is taken directly from a script of late 1920s vintage. If you understand the Crash of '29 and the Great Depression, you understand the "subprime crisis." It involves only some word replacement.

In the 1920s, people decided that stock prices would never go down (in the famous quote, they had "reached a permanently high plateau") and thus began speculating – buying heavily on margin (i.e., with borrowed money) and getting loans from financial institutions with stocks as collateral. Then, as overvalued stocks tend to do, the prices came crashing down. People could not meet margin calls because the assets they purchased with borrowed money were no longer worth anything. Loans defaulted en masse and banks subsequenty failed in droves. Capital-starved banks all but refused to make new loans or, more commonly, simply couldn't. We experienced deflation, which doesn't get the press of inflation but is in many ways much worse. The money supply sharply contracted because of all the "paper wealth" that disappeared with stock prices and loans made in real dollars that were repaid with defaults.

If you need to understand what is happening now, just replace "stocks" with "houses". Lenders completely abandoned lending standards not because they thought Joe Deadbeat could repay his $400,000 mortgage on an $18,000 salary, but because they convinced themselves that the underlying assets would never lose value. Just like 1929, only with different assets. Say some lender sees Ed's application (annual income: $15,000) and realizes he can't afford a $400,000 mortgage. They lend Ed the money anyway because they assume, crucially, that Ed will pay for a while and then, when he no longer can, he will simply sell the asset to someone else for $400,000. Heck, he might even make a profit since home prices always go up! Instead, of course, what happened is that people were given mortgages they couldn't handle and, when they finally could no longer keep up, they went to sell their $400,000 home and found out that it is worth $200,000. Hence defaults by the millions.

You can accurately point out subtleties and relevant points that the preceding oversimplification has omitted, but in essence this is what has happened. And now we diverge from the 1929 plotline.

This "bailout" ensures that, while deflation followed the Crash of '29, good old-fashioned inflation is our lot this time around. Where is $700,000,000,000 going to come from? The government is broke and will only get broker as incomes and tax revenues fall. Well, the Treasury whips out the printing press and makes $700 billion worth of obligations to sell to China. Thus vastly increasing the number of dollars in existence and further watering down our beleaguered currency.

A worthwhile experience, if you ever find yourself in Eastern Montana, is to visit Little Big Horn. One walks around and cannot avoid wondering, "What in the hell was Custer thinking?" The entire landscape and scenario were so obviously disadvantageous to him that his sanity is cast into doubt. In short, by the time someone said "Hey, I think I see some Indians" it was already far too late. The terrible decisions had already been made and subsequent efforts to extract himself from the situation were irrelevant.

Since the scenarios have played out so similarly in 1929 and 2007-2008, we have to ponder whether or not saying "Hey, this is what happened in 1929, let's do something to stop it" is futile now. Yes, we have the foresight of history, enough so that even the Hayek-humping knuckleheads in the White House realize that something very, very bad is about to happen. But the "bailout", as I read it, is an evasive action being taken well past the "I think I see some Indians" point and having little potential other than to exacerbate the already-precarious predicament in which the dollar finds itself. That Congress is hesitant to get onboard what could be a $700 billion albatross is unsurprising.

A MORAL GUARDIAN GETS THE FJM TREATMENT

Posted in Rants on September 29th, 2008 by Ed

Having been raised Catholic and retaining what could be called residual Catholic sympaties, among the many websites I peruse for ranges of opinion include Catholic.org. The site is informational, covers news both Church-related and worldly, and proves exceptionally useful whenever I need to remind myself why I am not Catholic anymore.

Today I bring you someone named Robert Stackpole (I shit you not) sharing with the world his tax-exempt thoughts on politics in "A Plea to Catholic Obama Supporters: Part I." I think that by the end of this exercise you will agree that "Part I" takes on a menacing tone, threatening to subject us to more if we don't repent. Due to its tremendous length, I have redacted and summarized portions of his argument. If you care to read the whole thing to ensure that I have done this rhetorical wizardry justice, I won't stop you.

Let's rolltm.

It is much like the autumn of 1860, when the nation was (as usual) divided on many issues, but one in particular exercised the conscience and stoked the passions of everyone: the intrinsic moral evil known as slavery.

Oh good. No one has ever used the literary device of comparing abortion and slavery before. This will be new for all of us.

(The preceding sentence was written by someone who has been in a coma since 1964 due to a remarkable series of events involving a stepladder, a box of wigs, and two Mormons)

(In previous articles) I reviewed the three most pressing life and death issues of moral concern facing the nation today: abortion, healthcare, and war and peace.

It's a moral issue about life and death? Well way to tack on two qualifiers that both must be present for inclusion in the category. That is like saying "Of all of the arboreal issues of concern to guys named Norman, this new Norman Tree-Planting Initiative legislation is the most important."

However, the abortion issue remains (as Deacon Fournier so aptly phrased it), “the 800 pound gorilla in the room” of this election.

Deacon Fournier did not coin this phrase, nor was it particularly "apt" for him to fall back on such a hacky, predictable metaphor. I want abortion to be like a herd of incontinent stallions or an 800 pound sloth. That would be something to see. I can see 800 pound gorillas at the zoo for $20.

On this matter, Sen. Obama clearly, unequivocally, and unapologetically supports what the church considers an “intrinsic moral evil”

I bet the list is long and doesn't just amount to abortion and euthanasia. At least I hope so, because the list of things considered sinful in Catholicism is about about as exclusive as the list of things that have been in Paris Hilton's vagina.

the continuation (and even expansion) of the legal permission to kill unborn children in their mothers’ wombs.

Boy, it sure sounds bad when you expect the reader to unquestioningly accept your frame of the issue as murder.

In most respects, Sen. McCain opposes this extreme moral evil.

I hope this is the first of many milquetoasty efforts to position John McCain as an abortion opponent.

Think about that phrasing. Try it in other scenarios. "In most respects, your son survived the surgery" or "In most respects, the fire was extinguished" or "In most respects, I didn't kill that guy."

This issue, I said, should be the “tipping point” for Catholic voters in this election. As I wrote back in August: “Those who understand and accept the Church’s Social Teaching, with its recognition of human life as an absolute value and priority, simply cannot support [Obama’s] candidacy in the upcoming presidential election without seriously violating their conscience.”

Huh. Well I thought there was a little more to being a Catholic than having the right position on abortion. You know, I guess it's more convenient if we can just fuck all that "social justice" and "love one another" stuff in the Bible, which my heathen ass still reads cover-to-cover annually. I didn't realize that the entirety of this partisan political organization religion boiled down to opposing abortion.

Sadly, it seems that since that time, Catholic Obama supporters have continued to duck and weave, finding new reasons for marginalizing the issue of abortion in this campaign, and for the dubious contention that an Obama presidency would actually result in a lower abortion rate than an administration run by his relatively Pro-Life opponent.

Maybe Catholic Obama supporters understand that there is more to Catholicism than sending checks to Bill Donahue and being really, really pro-life. Also, McCain: He's Relatively Pro-Life!tm. That is like being relatively pregnant or sorta crapping.

This article is a final plea (from me anyway) to Catholic Obama supporters please to reconsider your position.

How can anything with "Part I" in the title be a final plea?

It is much like the autumn of 1860, when the nation was (as usual) divided on many issues, but one in particular exercised the conscience and stoked the passions of everyone: the intrinsic moral evil known as slavery.

It's actually nothing like the autumn of 1860, what with the impending Civil War and all the cholera outbreaks and the black people being property.

(I will now redact and summarize a lengthy analogy. Lincoln wasn't all that pro-abolition, but he ended up being THE abolition President. So even though John McCain isn't really all that pro-life, we can conclude with confidence that once we funnel millions of votes toward his desperate campaign he will actually be REALLY pro-life once he's in power and doesn't need us anymore! I am STACKPOLE! Cower beneath my logical abilities! Watch how used car salesmen high-five each other as soon as they see me walk on the lot!)

Can anyone doubt that for those who understand the Church’s Social Teaching (and not many U.S. Catholics did at the time) the morally right thing to do was to choose the lesser of evils and vote for Lincoln?

No, back in 1860 most Catholics relied on the Vatican's position that slavery was either, depending on who you talked to, OK or not that big of a deal. And that indians didn't have souls.

Can anyone doubt that a Douglas victory would have resulted in the continuation and probable extension of the evil institution of slavery on the American continent for at least another generation?

Sure, a few "credible historians" can doubt it. Plenty of readers can doubt it based on nothing more than the complete stupidity of everything you've written up to now, Stacky.

(more "Obama = Douglas, McCain = Lincoln" bullshit)

Would you be convinced? Neither would I, but, as we shall see, it is not unlike the choice facing us now.

So it's not a convincing argument? That's always a good thing to admit. I'm convinced…that your entire analogy is retarded, Stacky Onassis.

Two quotations will help us here. First of all, Patrick J. Buchanan in Human Events set the positions of the candidates in clear contrast for us: “Near the end of a town hall meeting in Johnstown, Pa., a woman arose to offer a passionate plea to Barack Obama to “stop these abortions.” Obama’s response was cool, direct, and unequivocal. ‘Look, I’ve got two daughters, 9 years old and 6 years old. …I am going to teach them first about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby.’

First of all, "Johnstown PA Lady" needs to crack a fucking junior high textbook and tell Stackpoleon Bonaparte how in the hell the president has the power to, or is supposed to, "stop these abortions." Is he going to kill Nancy Pelosi with his bare hands, wear her skin, and force the tribe submit to the alpha male? Can the President pass or rescind laws?

Punished with a baby.

I'd say that's a pretty accurate description of guilting or forcing a 15 year-old to have a baby.

Obama sees an unwanted pregnancy as a cruel and punitive sanction for a teenager who has made a mistake, and abortion as the way out.

Obama also sees "stars" when he looks up at the sky and considers ass-raping small children to be cruel and punitive. Astute observation, Lord Stackington of Poleshire.

The contrast with Sarah Palin could not be more stark.

Sarah Palin, a woman who will have absolutely no legal authority to do anything about abortion, taxes, or your neighbor's dog shitting on your lawn. She can affect all three equally. She is also not a candidate for president.

At the birth of her son Trig, who has Down Syndrome,

Please, Stackpolicus, tell us the story about Sarah's PropTard! We've never heard it before! Why, I didn't even realize she had kids!

(skipping story)

Yet we are being asked to believe that a McCain-Palin administration would be less likely than an Obama-Biden administration to safeguard the lives of unborn children.

No, you're being asked to believe what a McCAIN administration will do. McCain. McCain is the one running for president, the one who doesn't give a flying fuck about abortion no matter how hard you try to convince yourself that his sudden concern for pro-life causes is sincere and that he won't tell you to suck his butthole until gelatto comes out as soon as he's in office and you're no longer needed.

Second, Dr. Jeff Mirus of CatholicCulture.org ably sums up for us the bearing of the Church’s Social Teaching on this matter:

This promises to be an objective look at the candidates which fully takes into account the ways in which the President can influence abortion-related policy.

The Church has also taught that voting for a politician in spite of the fact that he supports abortion is at least remote material cooperation with evil, and so can be justified only when there is a proportionate reason…. The problem, for those who wish to take advantage of this to support pro-abortion candidates, is that there is no issue on the contemporary American political scene that is even remotely proportionate to abortion.

Ah, well that settles it. It's OK to vote for someone who's pro-choice if there's a compelling reason, but there can be no reason more compelling than abortion! Ha ha! That's what we call "circular reasoning," Stackquille O'Neal.

The number of abortions reported in the United States is over one million per year…. By contrast, there are about 17,000 other homicides per year in our country…. When compared with the issues that are widely argued to be somehow proportionate, the lack of proportionality is even more astonishing. Thus, while abortion claims between one and two million lives per year in the Unites States, premature deaths due to inadequate care are estimated at about 34,000 per year

Wow, does the Vatican have all this shit rank-ordered? Can we see the whole list?

the Iraq war has claimed a total of roughly 55,000 American and Iraqi lives since its beginning several years ago;

That's certainly an accurate accounting of the number of Iraq War-related casualties!

Wait, he said 550,000 right? You sure there's not another zero?

Fuck.

and the death penalty claimed the lives of 42 persons in the United States last year, most of whom were presumably at least guilty of a serious crime.

That is the worst fucking assumption that you could make, actually, "Doctor". This is true in Mayberry, Fictional 1950s America, and Right Wing Fantasyland. Let me check and see if we live in any of those.

Nope. We do not.

You can find all these statistics in about five minutes of research on the web.

"Which is all the research I did, because I'm a lazy hack who is talking directly out of his puckered asshole after an all-week PF Chang's binge."

I submit again, that no voter who is guided by reason can even begin to make the argument that there is an issue in the United Sates presidential election that is remotely proportionate to abortion

Let me correct this one: "…no Catholic who is guided by Catholic moral teachings can even begin to….."

There. It's fixed now.

(NB: even those who include in their body count in Iraq all those who have allegedly died indirectly from the conflict due to displacement, poverty and disease –some say that would bring the total to as many as 500,000 — have to acknowledge that, tragic as those deaths are, they number roughly 100,000 per year at most, not 1-2 million per year, which is the annual carnage in the American abortuaries).”

All those who have "allegedly died indirectly". "Some say" that it could be as many as 500,000, with "some" being "people who have actually counted the corpses." This number, of course, includes indirect deaths like "roving ethnic death squads" and "mass executions." You'd really have to be a loon to include those as war-related deaths.

If Dr. Muris is right

I have a high degree of confidence based on this quote that Dr. Muris could not find his dick with both hands and a powerful arc lamp let alone be right about an argument based on such infantile logic. But do tell, what if he's right?

then the conclusion would seem to be inescapable: a Catholic cannot vote for pro-abortion candidate Obama without violating the dictates of a well-formed conscience.

But if the doctor is wrong, then the conclusion isn't so inescapable. So the inevitability of this "conclusion" rests on an argument that reads like it came out of YouTube comments, Stack Attack.

…Kansas Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann and Kansas City – St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn addressed whether a Catholic in good conscience could vote for a candidate who supports legalized abortion when there is a choice of another candidate who does not support abortion or any other intrinsically evil policy.

In other news, the Catholic hierarchy has determined that John McCain supports no "intrinsically evil policies", a category which includes: Abortion. My non-Bishop take is that quite a few of the violent, war-mongering policies McCain and his crackpot temper support are "intrinsically evil."

(The Pope said) “Could a Catholic in good conscience vote for a candidate who supports legalized abortion when there is a choice of another candidate who does not support abortion or any other intrinsically evil policy? Could a voter’s preference for the candidate¹s positions on the pursuit of peace, economic policies benefiting the poor, support for universal health care, a more just immigration policy, etc. overcome a candidate’s support for legalized abortion? In such a case, the Catholic voter must ask and answer the question: What could possibly be a proportionate reason for the more than 45 million children killed by abortion in the past 35 years? Personally, we cannot conceive of such a proportionate reason."

OK, so, bottom line argument time: George W. Bush = Pro-Life = Not Intrinsically Evil.

If the Catholic Church needs to understand why it's losing members in droves and it retains only a sad parody of the moral standing it once enjoyed, just read this paragraph over and over until it sinks in (Catholics have always been big on repeating things over and over until they are no longer questioned, so this should work). The fact that the Pope is telling his followers that George W. Bush is not an intrinsic evil because, through special VaticanMath, abortion is "worse" than anything Bush has done, is the only example we will ever need of why the church simply isn't relevant anymore.

Kill people, lie, cheat, plunder, violate the law, start wars…..you too can get the Catholic Seal of Not Evil if you oppose legal abortion.

In short, the Catholic Church demands that its followers be single-issue voters. There is no room for dissenting opinions or other issues. Abortion is the sum total of how a Catholic interacts with the political world. Every single thing a True Catholic says about politics is completely fucking irrelevant because the adherence to the faith demands that their voting decision is based on one issue in the end no matter what.

In my next installment, we will look at the arguments commonly brought forward by Catholic Obama supporters to refute this conclusion.

I'm sure you'll give them the kind of fair, even-handed treatment of non-Straw Man opposing arguments that we would expect from you, Stack Pole Down.

Dr. Robert Stackpole is an Associate Professor of Theology at Redeemer Pacific College and the Director of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy

Of course you are, Stack Daddy. Of course you are. I bet the tenure requirements are pretty stiff at RPC and the JP2IDM. I bet that the school that granted you a PhD was accredited too.

Be sure to sign up for Prof. Stackpole's advanced seminar for Spring 09: "Theology 410: Your Ass or a Hole in the Ground?" in which he tries to confront life's greatest unknowable.

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EULOGY II

Posted in Uncategorized on September 27th, 2008 by Ed

Hero did not make it. While she showed plenty of will to survive her stroke – moving about the cage to feed herself and interact even though it was clearly difficult – she had a second and, finally, a third on Friday. She lost the ability to move her limbs or chew food around 5 PM, at which point we quit trying to sustain her. We petted her, thanked her for being a part of our lives, and tried to make her comfortable. At 11:00 I laid down, put her on my chest and petted her until she had one final stroke and stopped breathing. As far as ways to go, I think that is a pretty good one.

I don't understand death. No one does, which is why the great bulk of collective intellectual energy in human history has been devoted to constructing explanations for it. Yet that's all such "knowledge" is – an attempt to rationalize something we can't rationalize. Tell yourself whatever story you need to in order to accept life and death. Each is as good as any other. Resurrection, reincarnation, purgatory, eternal life in heaven, becoming part of the spirit world, haunting houses as a ghost, complete nothingness….it's all the same.

None of it, in my opinion, addresses the mystery of how putting food and water in something makes blood flow to organs which plug away and generate, after all that, what we call an individual. A person, or an animal, or whatever. The idea that I was holding Hero the Rat one minute – Hero, who loved dried lychee and tightrope-walking the top bar of her pen and running up my arm to spy the world from my shoulder – and then an empty, limp shell the next moment is something I can't understand. That biological processes cease and then consciousness, the greater-than-sum-of-parts end result of all that biology and chemistry, just disappears is justifiably described as a mystery.

I'm just glad we did not have to take her to the vet on Saturday to be euthanized. Nothing should have to die in a hospital.

RIP, Hero.

TWO IDOLS

Posted in No Politics Friday on September 26th, 2008 by Ed

Two people who were extremely influential to my upbringing – Soundwave from the Transformers cartoon and Steve Albini from Big Black – achieve their distinctive vocal sounds using a 1930s-era signal processor called a vocoder. Originally invented to scramble human speech for intelligence transmission, it found a musical niche in the 1970s. Aside from Big Black it achieved fame with Kraftwerk and Robert Moog. If you are lucky enough to find a functioning, vintage analog vocoder these days you can expect to take out a (prime) mortgage to make it your own.

Of course today digital processors can imitate (but let's be honest, never completely replicate) most analog effects. Hell, you can now download plugins and applications which bring the magic of vocoding to your PC.

So feel free to take advantage of this opportunity to waste several hours record your voice saying "Autobot invaders! Autobot invaders!" like Soundwave or singing "The Power of Independent Trucking" off Songs About Fucking. Or, better yet, do Soundwave singing "The Power of Independent Trucking."

YOUR DAN QUAYLE HEADQUARTERS

Posted in Election 2008 on September 26th, 2008 by Ed

(NPF coming later, I promise)

So Mike and I were chatting today about some unfounded speculation on McCain's motives in attempting to postpone this week's debate. Lacking evidence to support this, here is my guess.

The McCain campaign is desperate – absolutely desperate – to buy time for next week's Vice-Presidential debate. McCain isn't afraid to debate tonight, but he and his team are in full crisis mode over Palin. You may have seen her recently getting destroyed by Katie Couric. Let me clarify: getting intellectually dismantled by Katie Couric is not a good sign. Treat yourself to exchanges like:

COURIC: You've cited Alaska's proximity to Russia as part of your foreign policy experience. What did you mean by that?

PALIN: That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and on our other side, the land boundary that we have with Canada. It- it's funny that a comment like that was- kind of made to cari- I don't know, you know? Reporters-

I bet it was the editing that made her look bad! Maybe the lighting.

They chose Palin with very little forethought because she fit the bill (female, young, pro-life) and they assumed that whatever skills she lacked as a candidate could be fixed. All employers do this – hire 'em and train 'em as you go. But now it is hitting them: she is far, far worse than they expected. Everything they're doing screams "buyer's remorse." The refusal to allow her near the media (except cameras! cameramen are ok!), the heavy scripting, the "attack the media" tactics….they realize what they have and they're panicking. As I stated when she was nominated, she's managed to excite some people who were already voting for McCain anyway; with any other voters she is a serious liability. She's no longer new, exciting, or a novelty. And like any other rush job, it only looks good from a distance. Up close things get ugly in a hurry.

I do not know a nicer way to say this, and the campaign is in full freak-out mode as it sinks in: the woman is almost comically stupid. She's probably a nice person and all that, good at hick politics in the boonies, but every time she opens her mouth she humiliates the campaign. They realize this. And they are desperately trying to buy time. If she can't handle a five-minute interview with Katie Couric, what are the odds of her debating Joe Biden for an hour and not saying something monumentally dumb?

Again we return to the Quayle precedent. Michael Dukakis did one thing right in his campaign. Yes, only one. The sole success he had, the sole instance of gaining momentum in a race he never led, was this commercial:

DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMN. It was one of a trio of memorable ads from 1988, including Willie Horton and the devastatingly effective "Dukakis in Tank" ad. Dan Quayle very nearly cost George Bush an election he should have won overwhelmingly. In the end, though, the overall shittiness of Dukakis made the election about him and not his opponent. And now, 20 years later, the McCain camp is waking up with a morning-after hangover and asking "What have we done?"

I'll tell you what you've done: you nominated Dan Quayle with tits. Like the elder Bush, McCain is going to pay the price. Unlike the elder Bush, he doesn't have a big lead to work with.

EULOGY

Posted in Uncategorized on September 25th, 2008 by Ed

(Update: I feared the worst and the worst did not come. While Hero is not in great shape, rats are troopers and the veterinarian believes that she will recover. Huzzah.)

One of my rats, Hero, had a stroke. Pending the opinion of a veterinarian, I fear the worst. I'm surprising myself with how badly I feel and how attached I have become.

At the same time, the experience has made it obvious that I am a very lucky person. I'm nearly 30 and never had to experience death. Seriously. No one I had or have an emotional bond with has died. My grandmother (the sole grandparent I knew) died when I was in high school but, frankly, I don't remember her doing to much other than being cranky and yelling so I don't think it hit me overly hard. A friend of mine from high school football died in a car accident, and that was sad. But overall, I've never had to experience the kind of deep, personal loss that so many people feel.

A pet is different than a person, obviously, but a rat made me realize how thankful I am for the good health and company of everyone I love, two- or four-legged.

ELECTORAL COLLEGE CHALLENGE

Posted in Election 2008 on September 25th, 2008 by Ed

Discussing the tiebreaking procedures in the Electoral College – and being humbled and corrected on part of the process – has reminded me of my favorite point to bring up when discussing this ridiculous, inefficient system. And reading the next few paragraphs will provide you with the opportunity to invalidate a fact that I have posed to hundreds of people – students, political scientists, PhDs in other fields, lawyers, etc – without being refuted. Maybe you will be the one to do so.

The Electoral College is like a rotten onion; there are many layers, but no one cares to delve beyond the first one. First, you cast your ballot on November 4. Technically, of course, you are not voting for the name you see on the ballot. You vote for a group of electors who have been chosen by that candidate and his party. Next, each state certifies its popular vote and Electors must meet in their state capital and certify their vote by December 12. These steps are formalities in every non-2000 and non-Florida instance. Previously we talked about what happens if, after all EVs are certified, there is a tie. Let's consider another perspective.

We do not wait until December 12 to announce a winner – we know on election night or the next morning (again, excluding 2000). So in all but the most exceptional circumstances there can be as much as six weeks between voters selecting electors and electoral votes being certified (12/12 is a deadline, so certification may happen earlier in some states). In that six weeks, electors can change their minds. Some states (25 when last I checked) require electors to pledge to vote for their candidate, although the legality and enforceability of "pledging" laws is highly suspect (see Ray v Blair). But let's go ahead and pretend that these laws are all ironclad and those 25 states are off the table.

In the remaining 25 states the electors, even though they are thoroughly vetted and chosen by the parties for their partisan loyalty, can essentially choose whomever the hell they want. And furthermore, there is an almost complete absence of regulation governing the process. For instance. Let's say that in a state won by McCain but without pledging laws, George Soros contacts a Republican elector and says "I have a check for $1 billion, and it will have your name on it if you flip for Obama."

Here is your chance to attain fame: prove that this is illegal. Show me either a federal law precluding it nationwide or laws in each state without pledging requirements. I have not found any legislation suggesting that this can't be done. In case of a tie, it would simply become a test of wills to see which billionaire from which party could win the bidding for an entreprenurial elector.

I've been told that this is rather conspiratorial, but I'm waiting to be told that it's not possible.

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MUST-SEE TV

Posted in Election 2008 on September 24th, 2008 by Ed

Regarding next Thursday's Vice-Presidential debate:

At the insistence of the McCain campaign, the Oct. 2 debate between the Republican nominee for vice president, Gov. Sarah Palin, and her Democratic rival, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., will have shorter question-and-answer segments than those for the presidential nominees, the advisers said. There will also be much less opportunity for free-wheeling, direct exchanges between the running mates. McCain advisers said they had been concerned that a loose format could leave Ms. Palin, a relatively inexperienced debater, at a disadvantage and largely on the defensive.

Let me translate: "McCain advisers are concerned that a loose format could leave Ms. Palin, a retard, at a disadvantage by being forced to respond to questions for which she does not have pre-scripted and rehearsed answers."

Carve it into stone tablets right now: the right-wing angle for the debate, before it even happens, is going to be "Biden was mean to Palin" and "Biden must be sexist, look at how disgusted he looked at having to debate a woman." The press releases will be out before the debate even ends.

NEW CAR SMELL

Posted in Election 2008, Quick Hits on September 23rd, 2008 by Ed

Chris Matthews had a rare hit when he referred to Sarah Palin's effect on the presidential race as being like "new car smell." Lots of hubbub at the outset followed by rapidly diminishing returns. Upon her nomination I commented that she would ultimately serve to fire up the base (as if they weren't already voting for McCain) and exactly no one else; Americans are unmatched for their ability to purge their short-term memories as soon as the next shiny object flutters by. The fact is that 99% of what happens during the campaign is like new car smell.

The Palin analogy might be more accurate than Matthews intended, though, given that "new car smell" is actually quite toxic.