October 26, 2008
Palin & Fashion
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I've been thinking about all of the flack Sarah Palin and the McCain campaign have been getting over spending on her wardrobe and makeup. The "controversy" is ridiculous on several levels. Palin is applying for a job - a job that's a step above her current position. As such, she, like any other job seeker, also needs to step it up. She needs to project the proper image for the job she wants. This look
isn't going to cut it. Of course, as a Republican, Palin is damned no matter what this year. If she stuck with that pink & floral look she'd be mocked. If she spends money, she's criticized.
Some people have bitched about a double standard for women in politics. I'd argue that there's no double standard, but rather just a different standard. Women in politics have to figure out a way to look both powerful, yet still sufficiently feminine (but not too sexy). That's tough, and frankly, achieving that look really is going to cost some money in both wardrobe and advice.
Men in politics, on the other hand, don't have to worry so much about their daily image. A suit and a tie will do. The trouble for men comes in when they deviate from that standard look. Campaigns have been ruined when male candidates play dress up. Once out of their "uniform", Michael Dukakis and John Kerry looked like lightweights and phonies.
Contrast that with Ronald Reagan, who seemed perfectly as ease in a suit or on a horse.
Now sure, Reagan actually wasn't a phony, but still, images like that don't just happen. The Palin campaign has done no more and no less to create and sustain the proper image than any other campaign. The media is criticizing her now because she's a Republican, not because she's doing something unusual.
October 24, 2008
Breeders' Cup Picks - Saturday Stakes
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While many of my fellow Wisconsinites will be suffering the Illinois/Wisconsin homecoming game, I'll be cheering on the fastest horses in the world in the 25th Breeders' Cup. W00t! Here are my picks for the nine Saturday races.
In the U.S., 1 1/2 races often tend to turn into paceless events that a front runner can easily dominate (for example, see this year's Belmont Stakes). I think that'll happen to an extent here so I'll look for a horse with some natural speed, Zappa, to win.
This might be the most fun race to watch. Santa Anita has a hillside turf course that they use for turf sprints. Horses start, rush downhill and then make a fairly sharp turn into the stretch. It's very European. Anyway, turf sprints aren't run that often in the U.S., so I'm going with a quasi-European horse, Diabolical. He raced in America last year and had the kind of speed figures that would make him more than competitive in the Dirt Sprint. He wasn't as successful in Europe this season, but I'm hoping that Santa Anita's hard turf course will suit him more than the soft grass of Europe.
I like a pure miler in this race, so Well Armed is the obvious choice. However, it's the Breeders' Cup and there have to be some upsets on the card, so instead I'm going to go with Slew's Tiznow, a lightly-raced and improving 3-year old, who just might be getting good enough to take this.
I was all set to pick Shakis because he has the late running style I look for in this race. He came from way back last time to just barely get beat by Thorn Song. But then it dawned on me that hey, he still got beat despite his closing rush. So, a return to sanity brings to Goldikova, a French filly trained by former jockey Freddie Head (he rode Miesque to fame). The French might not know how to win wars anymore, but they do know how to win Breeders Cup races. Goldikova is the real deal too, the only horse she lost to this year was the brilliant Zarkava, the undefeated Arc winner. Goldikova really looms over this field and if she at all takes to the course, she should win.
I'm not at all excited about any of these two-year olds. The Europeans have some big wins, but all at sprint distances. The Americans are simply uninspiring. My hope is that one of the more lightly raced colts will improve and get us dreaming about the Kentucky Derby. I think Midshipman is most likely to do that.
I'm going to go with another Bittel Road is this race based completely on his running style. Here are the comments on his last race: "Closed fast late". He won that race over the Keeneland turf and has actually not lost yet. Hopefully he won't start a new trend on Saturday.
Ah, the Sprint. It always looks the Sprint is going to have the kind of contentious pace that knocks out all of the front runners. However, this year I think that Fabulous Strike is the speed of the speed. I think he'll outrun the front runners and, even though he got beat by a head in his last race, I think that prep will serve him well and he'll hold on here.
Like in the Juvenile, I'm not really inspired by any of the horses in this race. I like Red Rocks, but he hasn't raced since July. That's a long layoff before a mile and a half race. So, I'm going to go with Dancing Forever as he's performed well over firm turf courses in the past and he's likely to be at a good price.
I would like to see the beautiful Japanese horse, Casino Drive, win, but honestly, I can't get past Curlin here. I think he's the best horse in the world and he should prove it here.
October 22, 2008
Breeders' Cup Picks - Filly Friday
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This weekend, the Breeders' Cup provides a very welcome distraction from the Presidential election campaign. 25 years ago, the Breeders Cup started with one championship day of seven races worth a total of $10 million. Now, the Breeders' Cup spans two days, consists of 14 races with purses totaling $25.5 million.
This year, the filly & mare races will be run on Friday, with nine "open" races on Saturday. I'll make some quick picks for Friday here and follow up with another post for the Saturday stakes.
Filly & Mare Sprint
The distaff version of the sprint is 7 furlongs (one more than the BC Sprint itself). With horses like Lady Sprinter, Indyanne & Dream Rush, this race looks to have a hot pace scenario that'll set it up for a closer like Intangaroo, who not only comes from the clouds, but has also won over Santa Anita's synthetic Pro Ride surface.
Juvenile Fillies Turf
In middle distance turf races (this one is 1 1/16 mile) I basically look at only one thing - who can close. In this field, Consequence, C Karma and Maram have all shown the ability to run a quick final eighth. I'm going to go with Consequence as she had a great workout at Santa Anita last weekend while C Karma apparently hasn't been as impressive.
Stardom Bound is the big favorite here and while it's always fun to beat the favorite, I think her most interesting opponents, C.S. Silk & the Smarty Jones filly Be Smart, are doomed to speed duel each other to death. So, I'll take the chalk and Stardom Bound for the win.
Filly & Mare Turf
The pace pressing gray, Wait A While, is back on the top of her game and she's never been beaten over the Santa Anita turf. This is a tough field, but this is her year.
Ugh, what a stupid name, they should have kept it as the "Breeders Cup Distaff". Anyway, this looks to be a coronation as the undefeated Zenyatta towers over her competition. I expect her to cruise to another come from behind victory at very, very low odds.
October 19, 2008
The Perils of Friendship in an Election Year
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I had a couple of interesting conversations with friends yesterday. It was a beautiful day here in Wisconsin, so I spent the afternoon outside along the lake with one friend who is an East Coast-raised, bisexual environmental lawyer. So yeah, she's a liberal. Anyway, what was nice about this first conversation was that it was genial and rational. We questioned each other's beliefs, but then actually stopped to listen to the answers. That's the key. Listening. Too often, these types of conversations turn into each person trying to desperately proclaim their beliefs and belittle or demonize the opposition. It serves no real purpose other than trying to "win" the conversation.
Read that last phrase again. "Win the conversation." As much as politicians try to win the election, some of their supporters try too hard to win the conversation with their friends and enemies. It takes a certain kind of unhinged person to literally beat up someone who dares to hold up a sign supporting the other candidate, but it doesn't take much of a leap at all to find yourself in an unpleasantly heated political conversation with a friend.
And that's where I found myself later in the day. Actually, it wasn't a conversation at all, it was an argument via Facebook status updates (yeah, really). Even though I know it's smarter to just let some things go, sometimes I can't and I don't. In fact, I try to avoid political conversations altogether. Living in Madison, I know that most people are quite liberal (hence Kerry getting over 95% of the vote in my ward in 2004), but that doesn't mean they're bad people. Like conservatives, libertarians and the like, they want what's best for their country, they just believe in a different way of getting there. They're wrong, but not evil.
That last point is what ultimately provoked me into a contentious argument. In the heat of the election year, the rhetoric from some of my liberal friends is that no, I'm not just wrong, I'm evil. I don't think they really believe that. I think that's the emotion of the election and the frustration of the last two Presidential elections talking. At least I hope so. I'm prepared for my candidate to lose the election (well, especially since I'll most likely vote for a 3rd party), but I'm certainly not prepared to lose friendships.
What about the rest of you? Are you getting into trouble with friends from other political parties? How do you deal with potentially heated political discussions this time of year?
October 16, 2008
Is there someone the media loves more than Barack Obama?
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Believe it or not, the answer is "yes".
I've noticed a lot of traffic lately to a story we posted highlighting the new Fire Bret Bielema website. With Wisconsin's three game losing streak, coach Bielema's 7-7 record over his last 14 games, general poor, unfocused play and the University's increasing demand for fans' wallets, many Badger backers are mad as hell and they're not going to take it anymore.
The local media, however, have taken the hard line that the fans are unrealistic, ungrateful and unhinged. Fans are told that we're not Michigan, Ohio State or Penn State and that we shouldn't expect that kind of success. We should suck it up and be happy for a "nice" season every once in awhile. At the same time, however, fans should happily pay increased ticket prices, seat license fees, book trips to away games and be prepared to get tasered.
Why is the media protecting Bret Bielema and, by extension, Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez? It's simple. The athletic department controls access. The local media need access. Therefore, the local media has its collective head up their you-know-what. Falling behind the party line makes their job easier. It's not ideology it's lazyology. But, much like in the political world, fans are finding it easier to get, if not a more balanced view, at least the other view online. Hence the popularity of sites like Fire Bret Bielema and the even more popular Fire Ned Yost.
October 15, 2008
Maybe it's okay if Obama wins
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It looks like Obama is going to win the Presidency. Now sure, I disagree with him on almost everything, but maybe his victory isn't such a bad thing. Iowahawk's latest satire really does ring a little true:
Think about it. With Barack Obama in office, assholes like us will fade into a distant unpleasant memory. Don't get us wrong, we'll still be hanging around, probably as junior staffers in some federal arts agency. But you have our word on it -- we'll be practically invisible. No more C-word t shirts, no more intersection blockades, no more vandalism until the next election cycle. Nosirree, we'll be timid and well-behaved and quiet as church mice, working away on grant proposals. We think you will also be pleased to know that under Obama, negative news stories and the steady flow of shitty anti-American war movies will virtually disappear overnight.
Oh, how I would love this to be true. To never again see these righteous *holes spouting their slogans and hate is some real Hope!Change! I could get behind.
Of course, the downside is that Obama will actually be President. And, he'll almost certainly be President with a Democrat majority in the House and the Senate. He could wreck some havoc.
However, there's an upside. An Obama victory will force the GOP to examine itself and reassemble its big tent. Americans do love us some divided government, so it's likely the GOP would turn to history and try to repeat the success of the 1994 Republican Revolution in the 2010 mid-term elections. Perhaps they'd even seek to renew their Contract With America.
Now that I think about it, perhaps this is the best solution. A GOP-led Congress could temper and/or block Obama's most socialist proposals while at the same time an Obama Presidency would let everyone feel good.
Unfortunately, it's almost just as likely that the GOP will remember the rapture with which the Sarah Palin pick was received and instead swing even further to the social right: Prayer for everyone! Abortions for no one! Tiny American flags! I think this would just further marginalize the party and the political spectrum would begin to resemble that which we have here in Madison: Obama leading a lefty "Progressive Dane"-like party, the Dems representing a center-left position and the Right being virtually non-existent. Now that's actually scary.
As much as the current Republican party annoys me, I think the post-2008 election is going to be an important time to get involved with it. It's going to take more Social Libs/Economic Conservatives to make sure the party takes the right (not just the Right) course.
October 13, 2008
So I'm Committing Election Fraud
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Somewhat like our friends at ACORN, I'm going to commit voter fraud. No, I'm not registering the entire starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys, the Buchanans of Llanview, PA or the last 20 winners of the Breeders Cup Classic (and clearly, Pleasantly Perfect is a member of Equines for Obama anyway).
What I'm going to do is vote via an absentee ballot at my current address. However, I won't actually be living there on Election Day. Where will I be living? I don't know yet, not the state, much less the city or specific location! In any case, I won't be in my new location for the required amount of time before the election (it ranges from 10-20 days). I can't vote in my new place and technically, I can't vote in my old place.
What should I do? I thought about just voting for President, but if I'm out of state it's really a separate election. I could just not vote at all, but that doesn't seem fair - why should I be disenfranchised by an accident of the calendar? Is this a case of something that's morally right, but legally wrong, or am I just trying to find a justification to do what I want?
October 09, 2008
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Right after the GOP convention, I signed up on the McCain site because I wanted information on any upcoming appearances in Wisconsin. Unfortunately, the McCain campaign took it upon themselves to email me all the fricking time ever since. Already this month I've received 14 emails from McCain, Sarah Palin, Robert M. "Mike" Duncan (whoever he is, he seems to think a lot of his name), Bill Bloomfied (again, whoever he is), etc. Lucky me, my request for information has landed me on numerous GOP lists. W00t!
So why is the campaign spamming me? Because of political campaigns' exemption from CAN-SPAM, they can, in fact, spam me. And, because campaigns haven't read/don't care about my Dos and Don'ts of Online Political Campaign Marketing, they just don't get why spamming is a bad idea. Even The Onion gets it:
After receiving yet another unwanted e-mail from liberal political action group MoveOn.org Monday, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama deleted the message from his inbox without even glancing at its contents.
"Ugh, not these people again," Obama was overheard to say as he placed the unread e-mail into the Gmail folder marked "Trash.
Exactly. Every email I get from McCain, Palin and random GOP officials just makes it more and more likely that I'm going to throw my vote away on a 3rd party candidate who isn't promising to hand over my tax dollars to people whose hard work enabled them to get financing for a mortgage.
October 01, 2008
The Madness of Mandatory Service
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I've been troubled for awhile now by Barack Obama's call for mandatory service programs. Sure, it's great to serve others and a horde of not-volunteers could probably do a lot of good. And, we'd all probably become better people for our service.
Ah, but there's the rub. It's not government's place to coerce me (or hell, in this case force me) to be a better person. Contrary to the plans set forth by both Obama and McCain, I disagree that making Americans more community-oriented should be a priority for our government.
I'm sure I sound like a selfish loon, but stick with me here. American was founded on principles of individual rights. While it's chic to mock the idea of rugged individualism as an outdated, red necked, cabin-in-the-woods concept, it's one of the very things that make America, America. I am important. I am an individual with my own right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". I exist for that. I don't exist to further someone's political agenda, to pursue "social justice" or even to be a member of the community. To put it more plainly, I am not a tool of the government. I am, I said!
Oh, of course, in practice the government uses individuals all of the time - whether through taxes, drafts or whatever. Again, of course, just because the government may have already overstepped its bounds doesn't mean that we should accept any further intrusions, even if it's billed as something for the "greater good".
Americans already do plenty for that greater good:
Americans every year contribute close to $300 billion out of their own pockets to charities at home and abroad. This is the highest of any nation -- seven times more than Germans and 14 times more than Italians per capita. Americans are equally generous with their time. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service -- a federal agency -- last year Americans volunteered 8.1 billion hours of service valued at $150 billion to community organizations.
The greater good would be best served by shelving these kinds of mandatory service proposals and leaving Americans the hell alone to pursue their lives as they best see fit.