Marking time

I'm stuck in the Miami airport for the foreseeable future. I've decided to pass the time by letting as many kids as possible know that, despite the propaganda they hear, drugs are awesome. How do you keep yourself occupied in airports?

Addendum: I find that parents tend to get the wrong impression if you walk up and start talking to their kids about how awesome fucking is, which is why I've decided to focus on the pro-drug message.



Hockey is pretty awesome in HD.


$7.4 trillion

Jesus Fucking Christ. That's how much cash the U.S. Treasury has proffered in loan guarantees to the finance industry. That's about six months worth of GNP. Probably some of the debt will turn out good, but in the absence of any plan to help the people who owe money to the banks, the prospects look dim.

It's tempting to focus on the injustice. The owning class made this mess and now their plan seems to be to insulate themselves from the consequences by taking advantage of the fact that free market ideologues will control the White House for another two months. This situation is, as Jason said in comments, disgusting.

But, as with many of the policies of the Bush Administration, focusing on the injustice threatens to distract attention from the catastrophic stupidity. We're all in deep water here, but the financiers think that they can stay afloat by standing on the rest of our shoulders. What they don't see is that when the rest of us drown, they'll be stuck treading water with no shoreline in sight.

This far into the Bush Administration I had thought that my capacity for outrage had been exhausted. Guess not.

Just to throw in something constructive: Josh Marshall has the right idea about how we ought to be setting our priorities:
The bottom line, I think, is that the money has to go toward building real stuff -- primarily infrastructure -- and pumped into the hands of people who will immediately spend it, i.e., middle and lower-income people who will spend it on necessities. |TPM|

Also: By my calculations, the guv'mint has promised 300 times as much to the financial industry as the auto industry was asking for.

Saving Citigroup; or, Too rich to fail

Y'see, it's worth $200 billion in loan guarantees and $20 billion in cash because Citigroup is run by financiers rather than auto-industry executives, and financiers, as we all know, are astute managers whose unquestioned competence insures that they won't skulk back to the public trough begging for another handout.

Every now and then I get a little bit nervous that the best of all the years have gone by

Snyder will return to the Wildcats after three years away. Snyder, who is 69 years old, compiled a 136-68-1 record at Kansas State from 1989-2005. He replaces Ron Prince, who finished with a 5-7 record this season and 17-20 overall in three seasons with the Wildcats. |ESPN|


Holy crap!

I absolutely, positively have to step away from the internet, but:
Citi is not only too big to fail, it’s too big to rescue with any of the half-measures that have been tried so far. Only outright nationalization is feasible, and that will probably require joint action by a number of governments; Citigroup’s global operations are too big for the US to handle alone. After that, the kinds of tinkering discussed at the G20 last week will be irrelevant. It’s now unsurprising to read (on CNBC!) predictions that all US financial institutions will be nationalized within a year. That’s probably an overstatement: as long as the economy doesn’t really crash, there are plenty of small banks and credit unions that will survive, but few of the big names will be among them. |CT: Quiggen|

Step Two: Foreplay

My first thought, naturally, was "caption contest".
The following would have been my entry:
Now you can easily, quickly and comfortably increase the size of your bulge with the IJ Bulge Booster. It’s unbelievably simple but amazingly effective. Just pull the waistband on like a pair of underwear and push your boys through the opening created by the contoured support strap and that’s it! Your package will be lifted up and pushed forward, creating a remarkable increase in your male profile. |Source|

I find myself wondering why it wouldn't be simpler and preferable to either: (a) stuff a sock down there; or (b) make do. Perhaps you, gentle reader, are wondering how I became acquainted with the International Jock Bulge Booster. Blame Violet Blue.

Friday Sir Mixalot moment

This is going around in email and chat. It seems to have come from here.

It's "Baby Got Back" translated into Latin, and then back into English:
Domina Mea Exstat a Tergo
Mixaloti Equitis

"By Hercules!
Rebecca, behold! Such large buttocks she has!
She appears to be a girlfriend of one of those rhythmic-oration people.
But, as you know, who can understand persons of this sort?
Verily, they converse with her for this reason only, namely, that she appears to be a complete whore.
Her buttocks, I say, are rather large!
Nor am I able to believe how round they are.
Lo! How they stand forth! Do they not disgust you?
Behold the black woman!"

Large buttocks are pleasing to me, nor am I able to lie concerning this matter.
For who, colleagues, would not admit,
whenever a girl comes by with a rather small middle part of the body
beneath which is an obvious spherical mass, that it inflames the spirits
so that you want to be conspicuous for manly virtue, noticing her breeches
have been deeply stuffed with buttock?
Alas! I am captured, nor am I able to desist from gazing.
My dear lady, I want to come together with you
and make a picture of you.
My companions were trying to warn me
but those buttocks of yours arouse lust in me.
O! skin wrinkled and smooth!
Did you say you wish to enter my vehicle?
I am entirely at your disposal
because you are not an average hanger-on.
I have seen her dancing.
Forget, therefore, about blandishments!
Such sweat! Such moisture!
I am borne along as if by a four-horse chariot!
I am tired of reading in the gazettes
that flat buttocks are judged more pleasing.
Ask any black men you wish: the answer will be
rather that they prefer fuller ones.

O colleagues (What is it?) O colleagues (What is it?)
Do your girlfriends have large buttocks? (They certainly have!)
Encourage them therefore to shake them! (To shake them!)
To shake them! (To shake them!)
To shake those healthy buttocks!
My mistress stands out behind!

In other news, this article neatly skewers my taste in hip hop: Stuff White People LIke: #116 Black Music that Black People Don’t Listen to Anymore.

Speaking of the bailout

Jonathan Cohn takes an honest look at autoworker compensation.

"Oh my god they're turkeys!"

Well. Alaska Governor Sarah Palin pardoned a turkey in Wasilla yesterday. Then she took questions from the television press while standing in front of the turkey slaughtering operation. Some of you might not want to watch the video, but I've just got to post it.

(via, though I totally would have seen it I hadn't been watching basketball)


That's how many times Janet Reno collapsed while serving as Attorney General. Mukasey, like so many Bush appointees, pales in comparison to his Clintonian predecessor.


Green tooling, green growth, organizing

Obama is giving a lot of signals that his agenda is going to be to link massive fiscal stimulus to projects that are intended to address global climate change. As policy, this strikes me as exactly right. Politically, well, we shall see what we shall see.

For my part, I'm optimistic. I think Obama's political initiatives are often best looked at through the lens of his background in community organizing. In that vein, one of the pieces of wisdom that gets handed down in the organizing business is that a campaign needs two kinds of hooks. There has to be, on the one hand a piece to satisfy the self-interest of supporters, and on the other a piece that appeals to some sort of moral cause or principle. Purely from the point of view of building strength, the closer the link between the two the better.

In this case, the faltering economy makes the self-interested piece possible. Unemployment just hit a 16 year high. The middle class has been shrinking for a decade and buying power, already in long decline, is threatening to dive off a cliff. A green jobs program, in this context, is first and foremost a jobs program.

The moral piece, obviously, is the green. You need the moral piece because it addresses supporters who need to be reassured that the benefits they receive from the fiscal stimulus package -- which have no doubt about it, is going to require deficit spending -- are deserved. People care about their own self-interest, but they also care about fairness and the common good. Put another way, "give me a job!" is a less ennobling demand than "give me an opportunity to save the fucking planet!"

The politics of distraction, continued

I think it's fair to say that this exchange is dominating coverage of the seemingly doomed auto industry bailout.
"There is a delicious irony in seeing private luxury jets flying into Washington, D.C., and people coming off of them with tin cups in their hand, saying that they're going to be trimming down and streamlining their businesses," Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-New York, told the chief executive officers of Ford, Chrysler and General Motors at a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee.

"It's almost like seeing a guy show up at the soup kitchen in high hat and tuxedo. It kind of makes you a little bit suspicious."

He added, "couldn't you all have downgraded to first class or jet-pooled or something to get here? It would have at least sent a message that you do get it."|CNN|

Yes, the executives heading up the big three automakers are chowder heads. This is not in dispute. Nor is it the issue.

On the plus side, there's always the possibility that the bailout will rise again, stronger than before. You might think, for instance, that any acceptable bailout must involve those jet-setting jerks tumbling ass over teakettle out the door. Well, political support for your version of the bailout just went up a notch.

By way of contrast:
President-Elect Obama has to say to them, yes, we're going to use this money to save these jobs, but we're not going to build these gas-guzzling, unsafe vehicles any longer.

We're going to put the companies into some sort of receivership and we, the government, are going to hold the reigns on these companies. They're to build mass transit. They're to build hybrid cars. They're to build cars that use little or no gasoline.

We're facing a national crisis, not just an economic crisis, but a crisis of the polar ice caps are melting. There's only so much oil left under the Earth. We're going to run out of that, if not in our children's time, our grandchildren's time.

There's got to be a plan set out to find other ways to transport ourselves in other ways than using fossil fuels. |CNN: Michael Moore|


By the way

I was chatting with a biologist who works on aging, and he said that, as far as folk remedies go, two seem to stand out in terms of their success in fighting aging.

1) Semi-starvation. A very, very low calorie diet can lengthen life expectancy significantly.

2) Drink the blood of the young (although a transfusion might be better). As we grow older our stem cells die off, and this causes many of the symptoms of aging. By introducing the blood of the young into our system, we can replenish our supply of stem cellls.

My biologist friend, by the way, claims not to engage in either practice. His hopes lie instead with gene therapy. "Living forever would be a mark of professional success," he told me.

Wrong again

Looks like it all could have been avoided. I withdraw my support for the bailout.

A short excerpt from Big Labor Boss's stemwinder:
BLB: Whoa, there boys! Don't misunderstand me. We gotta turn this deal down because it's too fucking sweet.

(Boos and calls of "Huh, huh, huh?")

BLB: That's right, too fucking sweet. Sure everything is going pretty great for auto makers and America right now. Hell, we're kings of the fucking world people, but it ain't gonna last. Nope, there are some dark fucking times ahead. Right now, even as I address this crowd, there are men in the Pentagon that are plotting to seize on the flimsiest of evidence that the North Vietnamese attacked our brave sailors in Vietnam. This will widen a war against a determined guerrilla foe. The widening war with cause a cultural rift that right-wingers will be able to frighten most of you with for the next four decades. I'm telling you right now, your granddaughters will marry Negroes and your grandsons will be queers. Our eventual defeat in Vietnam will send the nation into a existential funk. Our apparent military vulnerability will be exploited by OPEC which will -- hey, hey, calm down people. Give me a minute here. I know what the fuck I am saying -- OPEC is going to embargo oil. Embargo. This will lead to people wanting to drive small, fuel efficient cars.


BLB: No, I'm fucking serious. First it will be a company called Datsun, which will eventually be called Nissan, but that's neither here nor there. Toyota will kick all of our asses. Fuck, even the Koreans will take us to school. I shit you not.

Ted: BLB, won't we start making small cars too? Better cars? More efficient, better built? We are the fucking best labor force in the world!

BLB: Afraid not, Ted, although I appreciate your support for my seemingly insane prediction of the future.

|GBOR: Those Short-Sighted Sons a' Bitches|

Son of LOLberman

From maray, the outcome:

That said

There's no reason to give the automakers precisely the bailout they've asked for. I'm sure everyone has ideas for how things should be structured, but I'll just say that three things I'd like to see are much tougher mileage and emissions standards going forward, investment targeted at the development of alternative fuel technologies, and a scalable program by which the federal government could take over the legacy pension and healthcare obligations that infect the balance sheets of the big three.

Bailing out the big three

Out there in the wide world people have taken to referring to the proposed auto industry bailout as 'bailing out Detroit'. I'm here to tell you, Detroit is too far gone to be helped by anything as paltry as a bailout. A friend of mine had never been to the city but assumed that Detroit, like other cities that suffered through deindustrialization, had rebuilt and now faced problems of crowding and gentrification.


Responsible liberal opposition to the bailout boils down to a cost/benefit analysis. At the end of the day the big three automakers should be allowed to fail, the argument says, because the cost of allowing them to continue is structural economic inefficiency. But of course that only becomes an argument against the proposed bailout if you think that the cost of the economic inefficiency attributable to the bailout exceeds the cost of the disruption caused by the failure of the big three. And this is the ground on which liberal elites are defending the bailout. They are saying that with the economy this bad, allowing the big three automakers to fail will have large macro-economic effects, making the cost of failure exceed the cost of economic inefficiency.

The striking thing about all of this to me, living where I do in SE Michigan, is how abstract the debate is. For me, this approaches a which side are you on kind of question. At any rate, living here I know that sooner or later it's going to come to that. And I'm not going to pick an abstract macro-economic good over the people in my community.

Which isn't to say that I'm not conflicted. I'm also a unionist, and I'd hate to see an automotive bailout held up as evidence that Obama's debt to labor had been paid, and now there's no need for EFCA. But that's neither here nor there.

Returning to the argument, there's no way for me to adjudicate the disagreement about the macro-economic costs of the bailout, but here's a point about the content of the weighting that we're being asked to do. You have, on one side of the scale, identifiable people and harms which are reasonably easy to predict. What is on the other side? Economic inefficiency. Well, what are the costs of that, and who do they accrue to? Moreover, what other forms of economic inefficiency does government action foster, and how do we make trade-offs between them? Anyone promoting a policy opposed to the real interests of real people bears the burden of answering these questions.


Team of rivals

Obama seems to have relatively few rivals on the Left.

Better and better for Begich

Begich now leads by over 2,300 votes with 8,000 left to count today. After this, all that will be left are absentee overseas ballots, which are not expected to have much effect.

The mainstream media is playing this one close to the vest, but here at your humble blog of record we have the courage of our convictions. Thus I am pleased to announce that as of this moment The Bellman blog has officially called the Alaska Senate race for Mark Begich.

Naturally, Silver agrees.


Make your own and send them to me, and I'll post them later in "Son of LOLberman."


The horrible truth

... is that I need to spend less time playing games, and more time doing my freakin' work of choice:
The curious thing about Ericsson's study is that he and his colleagues couldn't find any "naturals" - musicians who could float effortlessly to the top while practising a fraction of the time that their peers did. Nor could they find "grinds", people who worked harder than everyone else and yet just didn't have what it takes to break into the top ranks. Their research suggested that once you have enough ability to get into a top music school, the thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works. That's it. What's more, the people at the very top don't just work much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder.

This idea - that excellence at a complex task requires a critical, minimum level of practice - surfaces again and again in studies of expertise. In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is a magic number for true expertise: 10,000 hours.

"In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers [!], ice-skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals [!!!]" writes the neurologist Daniel Levitin, "this number comes up again and again. Ten thousand hours is equivalent to roughly three hours a day, or 20 hours a week, of practice over 10 years... No one has yet found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery." | The Guardian, via Daring Fireball |

Related: How does one accumulate 10,000 hours of being a master criminal?

Smart Game Monday

Incredibots is a game that makes me feel dumb. It makes me painfully aware that I've forgotten many basic engineering designs that I once knew.

But it's also loads and loads of fun. So give it a try. Maybe you can help me figure out some basic schemes for conquering the challenges. (I know I could go online and see successful designs, but that feels more like cheating than simply collaborating with a few Bellmaniacs).

I find that I can quickly design something that can conquer the "Easy" challenges, albeit not with any great elegance. And that same design--for example, my "Son of Porkchop Express" climber pictured here--usually comes in well under the credit limit for the next level challenge. But the hardest level of each challenge is beyond me so far.

So give it a shot! It's what Obama wants you to do. He told me so.


The principles of conservative casuistry

Justice Antonin Scalia was unswayed by that argument. "People are governed by the law that is passed, not by the law that Congress intended to pass," he said. He and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the law as written appeared to apply only to domestic violence measures, not the more common laws against assault and battery. |LA Times|

Let's be clear about the game here. Intent is everything until intent doesn't give the right result. Then we switch to plain meaning, or if the law is old enough, plain meaning at the time (which is almost fuzzy enough to match original intent).


Because I am a nerd: I wanted to title this post, "And then blamm, Eric Fromm!"


Getting there

Remember that Senate race between friendly felon Ted Stevens and angry Democrat Mark Begich? Forty thousand absentee and disputed ballots have been counted so far today in Alaska, leaving fifty-five thousand left to count. Here's where it stands:

Begich - 125,019
Stevens - 125,016

Another twenty thousand ballots will be counted tonight, and the remaining ballots over the next week or so.

Obligatory nod to 538:
More to come tonight and in the coming few days to finish off the race, but given where we expect the remaining votes are located, this looks very good for Begich. It looks very bad for Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher, and Andrew Sullivan, who probably wanted the material if Sarah Palin were to run to replace Stevens in a special election. |538|

And also too:
The latest tally reflects the counting of absentee ballots -- about 40,000 of them -- and will soon be incorporating about 35,000 more from around the state. Most of the remaining votes appear to be from outlying areas of the state where Begich should do very well. Final results, though, won't be available for a few days, and probably not before the middle of next week. Don't ask me why. People count slowly up here.

But depending on the final tally, America just might owe the Alaskan Independence Party -- whose candidate, Bob Bird, earned more than 10,000 votes -- a modest debt of gratitude. Last time, the AIP received about 3% of the vote; this time, Bird is clearing more than 4%, which would be one of many factors -- the greatest of which would be Stevens himself -- enabling a Democratic win. |LGM: DaveNoon|

America asks, where oh where are the trial lawyers?

Fritz Knaak, an attorney with Sen. Norm Coleman's campaign, said Tuesday that "perhaps 120 Coleman lawyers" may descend soon on each of the estimated 100 recount sites to be set up in each of the state's 87 counties and in large cities as the process gets underway next week. |Star Trib|

Maybe a little strong

Her candidacy, in short, was indefensible. It remains indefensible. Until the mainstream media, the GOP establishment, and the conservative intelligentsia acknowledge the depth of their error, this blog will keep demanding basic accountability.

My point is not to persecute or hound some random person. I wish I had never heard of Sarah Palin. I wish this nightmare had never happened. I wish totally innocent by-standers, like Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston and Heather Bruce and Trig Palin, had not had their lives disrupted by this circus. It's distressing to everyone, which is why most journalists left many aspects of this charade alone. But Palin is claiming vindication, is on every cable show, is at the National Governors Association Conference, and is touted as a future leader of the GOP. There comes a point at which you have to simply call a time out and insist that this farce cease and some basic accountability and transparency be restored to the process. Since no one else seems willing to do so, the Dish will stay on the case. So where are those medical records anyway? |Andrew Sullivan|

ringring: raising mccain
me: Christ.
ringring: hehe
I am deeply scared and slightly turned on. Way to go republicans!
me: I'm telling you, troopergate is important.
Maginot Line
ringring: I hope you are right, if you mean that it is important to the outcome
if you mean, important as a chilling vision of things to come, I am less hopeful
me: If, indeed, Obama is not the anti-christ, then I fear that it may be her.
ringring: she is good
I can see why McCain fell for her
me: I'm not pinning my hopes on her fucking up a debate or a press conference.
ringring: no, she is not our last best hope
she is the fucking storm

Source: gmail chat 9.3.08

Well, maybe center-left

A second shock, Barack Obama was the candidate of the Democratic Party. Not of the Peace and Freedom Party. I know it's hard to digest, but true. Third, the American left has failed, let me repeat that, FAILED, to create a credible on-the-ground anti-war movement having initially ceded that task to a gaggle of wack jobs from a sectarian cult known as A.N.S.W.E.R. The payback for that little mistake of 5 years ago has been the evaporation of said movement. So It's not clear to me which instrument the Left is going to use to exert pressure on the new admin to get out of Iraq.

Nor do most good-thinking liberals I know actually do very much, if anything, to actually contribute to a vigorous American union movement except to pay it occasional lip service from afar. After all, union members rarely run in the same social circles as professional activists. [Present readership excluded! -- J]

By contrast, actual real-life union members are not sitting around moping about Rahm Emanuel this weekend, but less than a week after the election they are already ratcheting up their local and nationwide organization to pressure the Democratic congress to pass the much needed Employee Free Choice Act -- a measure that could radically redraw the face of American labor and dramatically expand the organized and progressive electorate. Let's hope we can gin up some "critical support" for this push from the left field bleachers. | Cooper |


On message with the GOP

Even though a bill supporting [insert issue] was passed by Congress in the last session, and even though the Democrats now have larger majorities, there is no support for [repeat issue] in the Congress, so an Obama administration would be overreaching were it to attempt to make any progress on [issue].


The gold of the early sourdough's dreams

Although Ted Stevens currently holds a lead of approximately 3,200 votes in ballots counted to date in Alaska's senate contest, there is good reason to believe that the ballots yet to be counted -- the vast majority of which are early and absentee ballots -- will allow Mark Begich to mitigate his disadvantage with Stevens and quite possibly pull ahead of him.

The reasoning behind this is simple: some early ballots have been processed, and among those ballots Begich substantially leads Stevens. A tally of Alaska's 40 house districts as taken from Alaska's Division of Elections webpage suggests that Begich has won about 61% of the early ballots counted so far, as compared with 48% of ballots cast on Election Day itself. |538|


Green tooling

More like this please:
Obama: The news coming out of the auto industry this week reminds us of the hardship it faces, hardship that goes far beyond individual auto companies to the countless suppliers, small businesses and communities throughout our nation who depend on a vibrant American auto industry.

The auto industry is the backbone of American manufacturing and a critical part of our attempt to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

I would like to see the administration do everything it can to accelerate the retooling assistance that Congress has already enacted. In addition, I have made it a high priority for my transition team to work on additional policy options to help the auto industry adjust, weather the financial crisis, and succeed in producing fuel-efficient cars here in the United States of America. |CNN|

While we're at it, let's replace our broken farm subsidy program with one that subsidizes producers who are small, green and integrated into local and regional distribution networks.

Oh noes, another post about Alaska?

Maybe the fact that Alaskans had mixed feelings about voting for their beloved convicted felon is responsible for what seem to be significant turnout declines in the state. Maybe Dem turnout was down because of the lack of a competitive presidential race. That, or Republicans are trying to steal the election. (Only to turn around and help vote to kick Ted Stevens out of office again? How does that make sense?) |Ambinder|

Let me just say before going any further that I think it's pretty unlikely that the election was stolen in Alaska. The turnout numbers are suspicious, and I'd like to hear more by way of explanation, but my default is always to assume that explanations requiring a conspiracy are less likely than explanations that don't.

That said, Ambinder's parenthetical dismissal of motive is typical of his obtuse brand of analysis. Here, Marc, is how it makes sense. A Stevens victory means that the seat will remain in Republican hands, a Begich victory would have been a pick-up for the Dems.

Honestly, how is it possible to tag your blog as, "A Reported Blog on Politics" and not understand this? Oh that's right, it's called being a moderate.



Stolen election in Alaska?

The real October's Bellman wordcloud

I figured out a way to extract the actual text from the October archive. Here it is:

By contrast, here's October 2007's 2006's Bellman wordcloud, when a nation watched as DR struggled with his clock radio:

Updated! That was indeed from October 2006. Here's the real 2007 one:


[Origin: Old English 'calu' - bare, bald, probably from West Germanic '*kalwaz', perhaps from Latin or Celtic. From young birds with no feathers, meaning extended to any young inexperienced thing or creature (1580)]

Destitute of feathers; naked; unfledged.
An in the leafy summit, spied a nest, Which, o'er the callow young, a sparrow pressed. --Dryden.

2. Immature; boyish; "green"; as, a callow youth.
I perceive by this, thou art but a callow maid. --Old Play [1675].

A recently hatched worker ant.



Last night was a lot more personally emotional than I expected it to be. I didn't know how to write about it then. I was stuck in a hotel room in a California suburb, trying not to cry, feeling alone and foolish and awkward about just how moved I was.

But now I am reading emails from my friends, seeing a ton of text messages from last night that finally hit my phone, and looking at pictures of celebrations that happened just a few miles away in San Jose.

Wow! Now I don't feel so foolish. It was an emotional night.

And not emotional because a Democrat won (although, wow, that's nice). And it's not because a black guy won (although, really, wow).

I think it's because of just how wound up we've all been through the Bush years. It was a dark time in so many ways. America started to resemble the weirdest, most cynical comic-book versions of itself.

And now, for the first time in at least six years, I feel like we're in the real America again... in the America described in my highschool texbooks, the America where we are the good guys, and the America where it's actually possible to get things done.


image credit

About the speech

Commenting on Obama's victory speech last night, James Fallows wrote:
Performance expectations have been higher and higher for Barack Obama's set-piece high-stakes speeches, and so far he has not fallen short even once. This one was delivered with unusual poetic skill. This can't go on forever, but the string continued in a heartening way this evening. |Fallows|

What struck me most about the speech was that Obama all but declared that our nation's motto is, 'Yes, we can.' It's a small thing, but I find it incredibly moving that we've reached a point in our politics where the slogan of an immigrant worker movement can be described as a "timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people."

I mean, damn. It's been a long time coming.

What it all means, in an incredibly narrow sense

Conservative pundits and bloggers may be gnashing their teeth and rending their clothes this morning, but somewhere the big boys--Murdoch, Hannity, and El Rushbo--are smiling and lighting their Cuban cigars. For they know from experience that their business model makes a lot more sense when it's not their guys in the White House.

For a similar reason, I wonder how our beloved progressive blogs will fare. Just as conservative talk radio came into its own during the Clinton years, the netroots was born in the fire of Cheneyism.

If Obama is at all successful as president, I imagine the demographic for Kos, TPM, etc, is bound to condense to a harder-core liberal audience. Many of the blogs may hang up their keyboards, either because their readership is down or just because they no longer have the passion. And, of course, Andrew Sullivan will pivot again, and begin decrying liberal politics almost immediately.

What I'd hate to see, but what I predict, is the zombification of a large portion of the medium. They will shamble onward under their own weight, no longer serving anything but their own survival.

But do not worry about this humble Blog of Record, dear reader. We've been planning for this transition for some time, and I am happy to announce that, during the first Obama administration, The Bellman will be your first, best source for pictures of, and discussion about, alternate hairstyles.




It's 7:04 and... McCain leads 8 EV to 3. I'm not going to panic yet.

7:50 and... South Carolina called for McCain, pushing his lead to 15 EV. Insurmountable? Not yet.

8:02 means Pennsylfuckingvania... And that's a wrap folks, let's go home. MSNBC has it 103-34 Obama.

8:37 and... MSNBC calls both Alabama and Georgia for McCain. I really wanted Georgia. No panic yet, but Obama needs to turn a red state blue here somewhere.

9:02... This isn't the year that Kansas flips.

9:23... The 80 folks here watching the returns at the big bad union office just erupted into a spontaneous a capella rendition of the CSNY classic.

9:47... 200 to 90 Obama and holding. FYI: CA + OR + WA + HI = 77 EV.

October's Bellman wordcloud

Click to make all big and stuff. I love the conjunction of "Republican" and "wrongdoing," as well as the appearance of "party" "time"!

Update: My methodology was poor. This cloud is actually just for the last 25 posts, many of which happened in November. I have an idea for how to do a proper cloud for October...  coming soon.

Do you count? Did you vote?

It took me an hour and four minutes to vote in Ann Arbor's precinct 1-5. We share a polling place with 1-6, but they had no appreciable line.

Meanwhile, in the comments eb (née em) wrote:
What, no post about wait times at the polling place? Or is it still too early for all y'all Texicans and Midwesternerners?

I'd like to report that I arrived to cast my vote around 8:15 NY time and had to wait about half an hour. Lines were messy but possessed of some hidden order. The only glitch I witnessed was a NJ woman who thought she could vote here... the workers swiftly handed her a paper ballot and sent her on her way. By the time I left, lines had roughly doubled in length.

Et tu?

A note for the Obamacons

You say that the Republican Party failed to implement conservatism properly and all of the problems that Republicans have caused can be attributed to ideological impurity. Old Uncle Trotsky had a similar complaint and all it got him was stabbed in the head, but I'm sure that your apostasy will be forgiven by the GOP.

In the meantime, I'm glad to hear that you'll be casting your ballot for a plausible candidate for once. That said, the mere fact that you have abandoned the Republican Party doesn't do anything to redeem your political philosophy. Last time I checked, you opposed reasonable regulation of economic activity and supported a ridiculously aggressive foreign policy. Them dogs won't hunt.

Don't you even try to bring that bullshit into the Democratic caucus! The adults are going to have their hands full cleaning up your mess, and the only way for you to help is to shut the fuck up for a few years. Please do so.

Everything you need to know about the Petumenos report

Petumenos is the investigator appointed by the Palin controlled Personnel Board to conduct an in-house investigation of troopergate. Petumenos has cleared Palin of wrongdoing, but only by the expedient of interpreting the Alaska Ethics Statute in such a way that nothing counts as wrongdoing unless it leads to a financial benefit. This is ground I've covered before.

So, fine. What that leaves is that Palin used the apparatus of the state to pursue a personal vendetta against a low level employee, allowed her husband -- who had not been elected to any office and had no official standing -- unfettered access to the apparatus of the state for the purposes of pursuing that same vendetta, and then engaged in a coordinated campaign to cover-up and whitewash what had been done.

Apparently, lawyers disagree as to whether any of that is illegal. I think that tells you more about lawyers than it does about Palin.



Chuck Todd, who is to the Microsoft Surface what Tim Russert was to the white board, says that the four states to watch tomorrow night are: Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina, and Florida. In his analysis, if Obama wins two of the four, then he's almost certain to win.

The really striking thing, it seems to me, is that he didn't mention Pennsylvania.

November surprise

You people need to take a Zoloft or something. Obama will win, and win big. His grandmother has made the final, ultimate sacrifice for her little Bear. All of those stupid undecided voters conditioned by a lifetime of Hallmark cards and afterschool specials will be wiping away tears as they vote for the big O.

Is anybody else really freakin' nervous?

I am. Really freakin' nervous

I am reading all of these premature "How Obama Won" pieces around the blogs, and it's not making me feel better. Nate Silver is more realistic, and actually quite sobering. This election might be really, really close.

Today's number

According to the ACLU, there are 5.3 million American citizens who are ineligible to vote because they have been convicted of a felony. Of these, approximately four million have served their time and been released.

I wasn't able to find a racial breakdown of that number, but in 2005, African Americans comprised about 40% of the prison population. It seems reasonable to assume, then, that about two million African Americans are ineligible to vote because they have been convicted of a felony.

In 2006, the total number of African Americans of voting age was about 25 million. Really easy math tells us that about 8% of potential African American voters are ineligible to vote because they have been convicted of a felony.

Using the same sources and methods, the comparable result for white Americans is 1.2%. Which means that the rate of ineligible voters is nearly seven times greater among African Americans than among whites.

Now, of course you can say that felons don't deserve our sympathy, and it's your own darn fault if you give up your right to vote, but that really misses the point. Unless you believe that African Americans are seven times as likely as white Americans to commit felonies, then you pretty much have to acknowledge that there is some sort of structural cause here.

At the end of the day, there's really only one question. Is it okay that one out of every eleven African Americans lacks the right to vote? If you're answer is that it is, and that it all comes down to personal responsibility, then you should keep voting for Republicans.

BREAKING: Most undecided voters are stupid

Confidential to Kevin: You live in Nebraska. Just vote for the fucking Republican already.



Let me see if I've got this straight. John McCain is a huckster, the caricature of Sarah Palin will do as well as the real thing for a national TV appearance the weekend before the election, and each and every one of the McCain campaign's arguments is a gimmick. Ok then.

Electoral saving time

This may come in handy later.
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