Thursday, June 26, 2008

Oh, Political Hoedown, where have you been?

Yes, I've neglected my (marginal) duty to keep you all politically informed, but I have good reason.

What...is that good reason? I think it's "You shut your mouth."


Or maybe it's building bookcases or weddings or myriad travels.

I have three pieces for the Hoedown in progress: the aforementioned bios of McCain and Obama, with a late July-target, so we can discuss as we lead into the conventions; I'm also putting together "War After War: Iraq Five Years On," and you can imagine what that's about. I expect much discussion after that last one, because we frankly cannot afford to let our TVs debate the issues for us.

There will also be a follow-up to "The Need of Our Own," but I'll probably wait until the others are done.

(And for those of you waiting for the final part of "The Breaking of the Hour," take heart! I've actually put finger to keyboard and am lightly hammering it out.)

Keep yer wits about ye.


-Hooper

Read on, faithful few!

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin, 1937-2008


For the second time in a month, we say goodbye to a very funny man. Carlin was one of my comedy heroes, though I failed to keep up with his most recent albums. That will of course be rectified soon.

I discovered George's comedy when I was probably 13 or 14, and picked up every album I could find during high school. I even quoted the man in my high school graduation speech. I loved sharing George's comedy with people who weren't familiar with him, and rejoicing when they told me they'd made copies of all my CD's. One of my favorite memories of high school was watching a friend laugh so hard she was crying as we listened to his 1996 effort Back in Town.

My dad e-mailed me to express his surprise at George's passing, and I summed up my feelings this way: I'll miss that cantankerous old bastard. And I meant it with complete respect and admiration. I'd like to think George would appreciate being described that way.

So long, George, and thanks for all the laughs.

-Buck

Read on, faithful few!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Den of Mystery presents: Fun With Shipping!

Back in the halcyon days of college, Hooper and I were active members of the message boards at TheForce.net. One of my pasttimes was a semi-regular column known as "The Hatred Corner." These posts would vary from griping about minor annoyances to full-blown rants fueled by pure rage. This post would definitely qualify as a Hatred Corner feature.

On Friday, May 30, I ordered an item from Amazon. I knew it would not ship immediately, but I was in no hurry to receive it. It shipped on Friday, June 6. It then spent 5 days in Sparks, Nevada due to “external factors.” I have no idea what that means, but maybe UPS thought it wasn’t safe to take it out of the warehouse yet. They seem to be very good at judging the safety of certain areas, after all.

Yesterday they attempted to deliver it. Normally, I would assume an “attempted” delivery meant they couldn’t find my address. But they found it. The driver simply decided, in his infinite wisdom, that my neighborhood was not a safe location to leave a package from Amazon and that I would have to sign for it. We’ll get back to the safety of my neighborhood in a moment.

First, I’d like to address this requiring of a signature. They attempted delivery at noon yesterday. Well, I was at work. So was Mrs. Buck. The helpful gentleman I spoke to on the phone last night said they would attempt delivery the next day, but they would still require a signature. The conversation went something like this:

Buck: “Can’t you send the driver a message saying I don’t need to sign for the package and he can just leave it?”

Dumbass: “No sir, the decision to require a signature is up to the driver. He’ll attempt to deliver it at the same time tomorrow.”

Buck: “Well there’s not going to be anyone here then either.”

Dumbass: “Well, you can pick up the package at the distribution center.”

At this point, Buck somehow managed to keep from reaching through the telephone and throttling the UPS representative.

What I finally had to do was have the package sent to my office, where it hopefully arrives today. Let’s hope my office building is safe enough that the driver won’t require a signature.

And now let’s address that safety issue. Anyone who knows where I live knows it’s one of the nicest and safest neighborhoods in Akron. I live across the street from a church. There’s a Jewish temple at the end of the street. The mayor of Akron lives two blocks away. I’m around the corner from million-dollar homes. And this wasn’t a safe neighborhood to leave a box from Amazon? Hell, I’ve left my car parked on the street with the windows down, and nothing happened.

For the record, here’s what I ordered:


Thank God he didn’t leave it there, or the nonexistent juvenile delinquents that don’t live in my neighborhood might be *gasp* reading something right now.

I will grant you that the main entrance to our apartment is not immediately visible. We live in a large old house that’s been converted to apartments, and the main entrance is on the side of the building, near the back. The driver did, however, manage to find the rarely-used rear entrance to the building, leaving his “attempted delivery” note on a door we never use. That rear entrance is usually locked as well, so one could argue that the driver essentially broke into our building, only to deem it “unsafe.”

But here’s what really cracks Mrs. Buck and I up: Three weeks ago, a different UPS driver didn’t think twice about leaving a box containing 2 iPods in our mailbox.

It’s ridiculous that the driver gets to make the call on requiring a signature. Because if Driver A felt it was safe enough 3 weeks ago, does that make Driver B a judgmental (and possibly racist, as we do have some Black neighbors) person, since he decided he couldn’t leave the package? Mrs. Buck sure thinks so, judging by the scathing e-mail she sent to UPS last night.

I was told that the main reason they’ll require a signature if they deem the neighborhood unsafe is that if the item is stolen, UPS is responsible for reimbursement. So once again, the $300 in electronics was okay to leave, but they were concerned about having to pay $30 for a book that any semi-intelligent person could have told you wouldn’t get stolen.




-Buck

Read on, faithful few!

Friday, June 13, 2008

It's Racism Friday at The Den of Mystery!


Normally I leave the political stuff to Hooper, but sheer lunacy and ignorance such as this needs to be brought to people's attention. More after the jump.


'We'll end up slaves. We'll be made slaves just like they was once slaves,' he said. Telvor, a white Democrat who supported Hillary Clinton in West Virginia's primary, said he planned to vote for Republican John McCain in November. 'At least he's an American,' he added with a disarmingly friendly smile.


So sayeth Johnny Telvor of Williamson, West Virginia. Here's the full article.

Now, I have family that traces to West Virginia. So does Mrs. Buck. So I suppose I could form some sort of defense of the state; about how you shouldn't judge the entire populace by the comments of one man. But I find I have no desire to defend them. Sweet Christmas, are people really that stupid? That racist?

I particularly like the ninth paragraph, where another esteemed resident of Williamson advocates the lynching -- sorry, assassination of Obama.

'Look, someone will kill him. Whoever Obama picks as running mate will end up being president.' Spence's ready smile and chatty manner on the thorny issue of Obama's possible murder gave little clue as to whether he thought it would be a bad thing or not.

God help the people of Williamson, West Virginia if Obama chooses a VP candidate that isn't white. There will be a great disturbance in the land, as though millions of hillbillies suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced.

- Buck

Read on, faithful few!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

TPH: Concede this!


The Political Hoedown


I get the phone calls, I read the e-mails and see the candlelight vigils. I know you want more Political Hoedown. Give me time, I just need…a little more time.

But until then, something to hold you over.


***

After Barack Obama became the presumptive nominee, the eyes of the punditry world turned to Hillary's next actions. Would she press on, drag her heels or concede quickly? None of those, of course!

Her speech last Saturday was considered one of her best ever, yet it was the underlying spine of defiance that marks it of interest to me. She underscores her achievements as a woman making history, while shuffling his race into a glorified footnote. Her applause lines for Barack were squeezed into a speech celebrating her and the campaign and showed a subtle disrespect for the man. Bill got a raucous applause as the only Democrat to be elected twice to the Presidency since Truman, and women everywhere had their hearts warmed (or inflamed) by the solid rhetoric talking about breaking glass ceilings (to paraphrase, "we may not have broken that ultimate glass ceiling…but there are 18 million cracks in it now." "WOOO! WHOO WHOOP!! YEAAARRGH!!" [that last one was Howard Dean's twin sister]).

Anything can happen between now and the convention, as she awkwardly reminded us several weeks back. It could be he starts polling far behind or just even with McCain, while in similar polls, Hillary is ahead. If she can use that sort of data, along with her sizable pledged delegate total to win over a number of supers, she could make it through the first round of voting in Denver. Once that first round is done, the delegates are virtually up for grabs and you know her iron claws will scrape up whatever they can.

This isn't over, the concession speech that concedes nothing says; just in a holding pattern. Considering all choices, though, I think the "Master of the Senate" option plays the best for her future in politics, if not her pride.

***

Will there be a dream ticket for the Democrats?

It's tough to say what VP Barack will choose, only that we might be surprised at either his daring or by his cowardice in the face of an estrogen tidal wave. Hillary is a top choice, but one that calcifies the opposition. More rumors have been springing up about the Virginia triad, Jim Webb (senator), Mark Warner (former governor) and Tim Kaine (current governor), but each has their sticking points. Leaks from the vetting committee reveal former military officials are being considered (but that could just mean Jim Webb, who served in Vietnam). Kathleen Sebelius, two-term governor of Kansas is a chief consideration, but wouldn't that just tick off the Hillary crowd, to give it to a different woman (and - surprise! - one with actual executive experience).

I have no comment at this time, since the semi-official list is still well over a dozen names and possibly two.

***

It's national bike-to-work week, which includes walking, rollerblading, mass transit…basically not driving your car/SUV if you can avoid it. If you live three blocks from the train station, walk instead of driving two miles to a parking lot one block away from a different station…not that I did that today because I was running late. Don't judge me!

***

Hillary has disappeared these last few days, while McCain is moving more into the limelight. His call for town hall debates, a brilliant move, backs Obama into a corner. However, there are no new policy arguments, just the same old. Oil is being dredged up (not literally, since that would lower prices and nullify the issue; thank you, environmentalists), but just because it nearly hit $140/barrel earlier in the week (it's backed down some).

Were you watching McCain give his speech Tuesday last? No? Probably for the best. "That's not…[wait for the teleprompter to scroll]…change we can believe in! [creepy smile cue…now!]" Over and over we were treated to that. And you know it made him look as bad as Bob Dole falling off that stage twelve years ago.

No comment on his VP choices right now, except...

Piyush "Bobby" Jindal, Governor of Louisiana, son of Indian immigrants, Republican darling: he will not be your next Vice-Presidential candidate (R). Why? He's young, only six months into his term as governor and not to be exhausted on McCain's bid. (Because you know he'd be tainted, nationally, in a loss, and that would hurt his chances to perhaps become the first Indian president, or at least candidate, the US has had.)

His resume is golden right now; imagine it by 2012, should he win reelection. Let his experience build and exposure grow naturally.

***

There's your update. Not so brief after all.

Hit the rock, don't smoke it.

[fist bump]

-Hooper

Read on, faithful few!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Political Hoedown News Brief: The battle is over, but the war...


Barack Obama, junior Senator from Illinois, has become the presumptive Democratic nominee for the Presidency, pending validation at the Democratic National Convention this August in Denver.

He becomes the first black in America to make it out of the slate of primary candidates and ascend to the top of any national party's ticket in our nation's history. Support his ideas or not, that's one hell of a gold star next to his name.

Matt Saniie, congrats on a race well fought and won.

For more information, go here for the main story, here for some reaction, and through this magic door for Clinton's side.

Hillary Clinton, Senator from New York, has not conceded, but says she needs several days to work on her next step. I doubt highly it will end with her storming the convention.

McCain has his say also, but he's still being a lot quieter than he will be.

More on this later in the week, and then we'll take a break from politicking to write some bios on the two nominees, John McCain (R) and Barack Obama (D).



-Hooper

Read on, faithful few!

Monday, June 2, 2008

TPH: Tonight, Tonight/Won't Be Just Any Night


The Political Hoedown
South Dakota & Montana; The Last Two Weeks; "Will, Should & Want"


My ancestral homeland and that state with the militias are voting today. South Dakota and Montana are the last two Democratic primary states, and their results will either force the issue of withdrawal on Clinton or bolster a claim of resurgance and popular vote victory. Montana will break for Obama, as the mountain/west states generally have, and South Dakota...that's a trickier proposition.

Looking at the state (I just spent the last week there), it has a breakdown of largely white, middle-class families with the agro-influence you'd expect from a high plains state. There are also a smattering of minorities, but their role won't be as big here. And though the very west of the state is mountainous, I don't see it following the trend of the other mountain states. All things considered, Obama will probably win there. I didn't see much of a Barack presence (there were more Hillary signs and commercials), and he did flub up a little at a recent rally in Sioux Falls, SD ("Hello Sioux City!" ...followed by confused clapping and silence, when it was obvious he'd not realized his mistake). But there's momentum to consider and the states around and how they broke. SD blue-collar workers, or their equivalent on the farm, aren't the same as steel mill workers.

It won't be a big delegate loss or gap for her tonight, but will further highlight her diminishing cause.

***

So I've been working or out of town for the last two weeks, and unable to keep your all informed. Here's a brief rundown of the major news, relating to the election.

*Oregon goes to Obama, Kentucky to Clinton. Both were no-brainers, but Clinton's win in Kentucky was a repeat of her smash vicotry in West Virginia, and resulted in some intersting exit polling. Basically, Obama doesn't have a lot of friends here. So Hillary wins again by a landslide in a state Obama didn't even compete in but matters in the fall, while Obama wins in a state that the Democrats have little chance of losing in the fall. At the end of the nigh, he is left less than 80 delegates short of the nomination and she remains latched onto this race like a Doberman on your crotch.

*Obama's rapport with white, blue-collar workers is officially nonexistant and in related obviousness, freezing water makes ice cubes.

*Obama quits Trinity United Church, citing personal reasons (it would be a distraction in the campaign, and he wants a church where he can sit in the pew and /not/ be singled out).

*The DNC rules committee rules on Michigan and Florida, letting them all sit, but saying their delegates get half votes. Hillary nets over 30 pledged delegates, but Obama's lead stays above 170 (which is still only a few percentage points when you think about it, hardly indicative of a mandate). Clinton loyalists scream, Obamians grimace, but no one dies. The world still turns, and Clinton...you guessed it...is still here, and now claims the popular vote is hers!

*Puerto Rico goes 2:1 for Hillary, but the turnout was weak (380k). We must admit, there were no major ballot initiatives to get people out, and on the major issues to Puerto Ricans, Obama and Hillary more/less agree. A win for the lady in pink!

*Reports come in early June 3 that Hillary will concede, only to be refuted by campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe. Are there some moles within the Clinton staff? Rumor has it (strong, strong rumor) that Clinton's advanced team has been shut down; they are the ones setting up speeches and activities. While they would have a slower go of it without primaries, advanced teams help to lay the foundation for the general election. Many volunteer staffers have already been told June 15th is the last day. Does this mean the Clinton campaign machine is being >>dismantled<< or retooled?

*Obama's camp - backed up by an AP story - claim victory in delegate totals, claiming there are enough Superdelegates coming out today, tonight and tomorrow to clinch the nomination.

*Hillary is still latched onto your crotch and a Doberman is in the race, or something. Long/short, she's still here until at least tonight.

***

What Will Be: Hillary loses Montana, ekes out a victory (or small small small defeat) in South Dakota, gets a financial, campaign funds - but no political - concession from Obama and becomes a leading Dem in the Senate.

What Should Be: Obama wins Montana, Hillary wins South Dakota. She uses her clout and, frankly, massive national support to arm wrestle money from Obama as well as one of the following: VP slot, Secretary of State, Senate Majority Leader or Supreme Court justice (should the need arise). The last two will probably be in conjunction, former until the latter. Her importance is too great to simply throw away for nebulous "change," the argument for the above goes, and she needs to be rewarded somehow and in a major way. The Senate is a good runner-up prize to the presidency, as is Sec of State. And to be a justice! C'mon!

What I Want: Hillary bullies on to the convention, satisfied in the notion that she has 47%+ of the delegates, closer to 50% of the popular vote and a drive following. She shouldn't go quietly into that so-on-and-etc. I want to see a convention that matters, with her making a case like the lawyer she is why she deserves the prize. Superdelegates can still change sides and Obama isn't the golden god of politics. I can see a march in the streets, her supporters hammering on the convention hall doors like Hannibal at the gates of Rome.

***

We'll chat more tomorrow.

-Hooper

Read on, faithful few!