I don't usually comment on sports, so take anything I say with a grain of salt. I'm no professional sports guy, nor do I play one on the web.
But I have to say, NBC's coverage of the Olympics has so far been pretty dull. Now, I only watch what's on during primetime, and I haven't even seen all of that, but so far we've been subjected to an entire week of swimming, beach volleyball, and gymnastics. From what I'm seeing, the Olympics has shrunk and could now call itself "The International Swim Meet, The International Beach Volleyball/Voyeurism Competition, and The China/U.S. Gymnastics Head-To-Head Match."
I mean, I watched the women's team gymnastics, and when they announced the medals at the end, I was stunned... to find out there was a third team in the competition! Romania? And they beat yet another team, Russia? Wow, sure didn't see any of that. Got a lot of closeups of American and Chinese gymnasts, sitting on the sidelines, waiting for their scores, trying to evade the hordes of cameras and microphones on them... but unless I blinked, there were only two countries on the mats out there.
Plus the announcing, as usual, mostly stinks worse than the Beijing pollution.
Sigh. OK, now you see why I don't comment on sports much.
But, having said that, I will now use the Olympic theme to hand out three prizes for a contest I ran earlier in the week to suggest a caption to a photo of President Bush yucking it up with the beach volleyballers (or whatever they're supposed to be called). It's quite a photo, so if you missed it, feel free to offer your suggestions even now.
So... (dramatic swelling music), the Best Photo Caption Medals, with their winning captions, are... winning the Bronze is "rovezaleeker" with the caption:
"Hmmm... let me see... Naw, Condi's is better. God, this decider stuff is awesome!"
The Silver goes to "BLaws," with his entry:
"You want me to put my thumb where?"
And... (drumroll) "AnteaterHomer" takes hold the Gold for the best all-around photo caption of:
"Now you say, 'Thank you sir may I have another'...heh heh. It's good to be the king!"
For those of you scratching your heads right now, go check out the photo, it's a doozy.
Thanks to all for playing, and feel free to add more, as it's quite likely some of these winners will be found to have used humor-enhancing substances. Ahem.
But enough frivolity, and on to our very own weekly award show...
There were quite a few qualifiers for the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award this week.
Jackson Browne sued John McCain's campaign for using his signature "Running On Empty" song in a campaign commercial. It later turned out that McCain's campaign wasn't directly involved, it was a state-level GOP ad, but still the whole thing just goes to point out the incompetence (or worse) of McCain's campaign right now. I mean, seriously, McCain was supposed to have the week to himself, with Barack on vacation, and what did he do with the week? Not much.
Which brings us to another Honorable Mention this week, for Barack Obama's "war room" efforts. These folks are getting better. They were launching a constant stream of ads last week, almost all of them on economic issues and almost all of them taking shots at McCain. Their new DHL ad, targeting Ohio, is a good example. This was a pretty good week for Obama -- who was on vacation the whole time -- so credit must be given to his campaign for doing so, especially when they got the Most Disappointing award last week.
But the MIDOTW award this week is a tie between two organizations who are (literally) hitting McCain where he lives. As any reader of this column knows, I'm a strong advocate of Barack Obama asking John McCain in a debate: "So, how many houses do you and Cindy own?"
This week, the American Federation of Labor - Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) put out a mailer to retired union members (they plan to target Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan in particular) which points out the McCains' wealth and asks (emphasis in original):
"McCain's worth over $100 million... He owns 10 houses... He flies around on a $12.6 million corporate jet... He walks around in $520 Italian loafers... If John McCain lost his Social Security, he'd get by just fine. Would you?"
Now that's more like it!
Also this week, Brave New Films put out a short video which highlights some of the places the McCains call home, compared to someone facing foreclosure. Sam Stein of the Huffington Post has the story, and the video.
There's nothing that takes the wind out of the sails of calling Barack Obama an "elitist" by pointing out the fact that the McCains are sitting on a mountain of money.
So, for hitting the McCains where they live, the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award goes to both the AFL-CIO and Brave New Films. Well, done, guys! Lets hear this on the campaign trail every time McCain tries to play the "elitist" card!
Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, just doesn't seem to get it. He just sent another strongly-worded letter to the White House Counsel's Office, which complains the White House is blatantly ignoring both Congress and the Constitution -- but which doesn't mention the words "Independent Counsel" or "Special Counsel." What Leahy doesn't seem to understand is that the only result his letter is going to get is to be posted up on a White House bulletin board somewhere, so all who walk by can have a good chuckle at Leahy's expense.
The letter is indeed strongly-worded. But, towards the end, it devolves into irony (if not farce) when attempting to castigate the White House: "Such hollow words are no substitute for action...." I couldn't agree more, Senator Leahy, I couldn't agree more.
But while Leahy was disappointing last week, he isn't even in the same league as the winner of this week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award. Because this column goes to press Friday afternoon-ish (and, indeed, takes a while to type out) sometimes Friday events get missed.
But even though it's been a whole week, John Edwards still takes the MDDOTW prize, hands down. Or maybe that should be "pants down." Ahem.
While this column did not do so (this column was neutral during the primaries), I personally did support Edwards in the primaries, and was even disappointed when he dropped out before I could vote for him. But now I have to join the chorus currently thanking all that's holy that John Edwards is not now our party's nominee. Can you imagine where the Democrats would be right now? You can? You've been thinking about it for a solid week?
Whoops... sorry. See previous note on this column's deadline, as way of an apology.
We're also all thanking our lucky stars that Edwards (1) is not a sitting officeholder of any type, (2) wasn't really seriously considered as Obama's veep, and (3) got caught before the convention, meaning there will be no pro-Obama Edwards speech for Republicans to mock.
There was really no competition this week for MDDOTW, sadly. Even sadder, it took the National Enquirer to break the story.
[I would provide John Edwards' contact information here, but I really think it's best if we all just ignore him now.]
Volume 43 (8/15/08)
No real overarching theme to this week's Friday Talking Points. Congress has been on vacation, Obama's been on vacation, Bush was on vacation, and it wore him out so much he's taking another vacation (I wish I were kidding, but I'm not). Plus, the Olympics kind of shoved everything else aside, as they always do. So we've only got a scattered bunch of talking points this time around.
Lobbyists for foreign countries don't run Obama's campaign
The big news of the week was, of course, Russia throwing its weight around in Georgia. You can almost hear the conversation that took place between Bush's frolicking at the Olympics: "No, Mr. President, Atlanta's not burning, we're talking about the country of Georgia. No, really, it's a state and a country. Ask Condi -- she'll tell you."
Ahem. Where was I?
Now, while the hard cold fact is that the United States can't do a whole lot about the Georgian situation. So Bush, Obama, and McCain are actually pretty close on the issue. But there's a key difference that needs pointing out.
"John McCain touts his experience on the campaign trail, but in reality that so-called experience is the experience of being up to your neck in lobbyists with shifting loyalties who take money from foreign governments to spend it on American politicians. John McCain's key foreign policy advisor has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from the nation of Georgia to lobby for them. Do we really need this kind of Washington-insider 'experience,' or do we want someone who doesn't surround himself with people beholden to foreign influences? I've personally lost count of how many top campaign advisors have had to quit the McCain campaign because their lobbying past has come to light, but I can tell you how many advisors Obama has had to fire for being foreign lobbyists -- zero. That's change you can believe in."
John McCain, speaking off the cuff, has provided the perfect response to any use of the word "presumptuous" when discussing Barack Obama. Washingtonpost.com's "The Trail" blog caught this one.
"Obama presumptuous? John McCain recently spoke of Ronald Reagan with the words (quote) another president (unquote) -- and yet nobody's asked McCain if he's being presumptuous. I think it the height of presumptuousness to declare yourself president before the election actually happens, personally, or to send two campaign advisors to a war zone as if you actually were president."
Was Corsi wearing his tinfoil hat, or what?
Jerome Corsi released a hit-job book on Obama this week, and the media is all a-tizzy. Obama has released a strong rebuttal to the book's fabrications, but in this case a little ad hominem attacking of the author is called for, just to point out how ludicrous it would be to take this man seriously.
"Jerome Corsi's book? Isn't Corsi the same guy who believes that oil is magically created and is a renewable resource? Isn't this the same guy who believes the United States is planning on merging with Canada and Mexico? The only real question about anything Corsi writes is how big a tinfoil hat he had on while writing it. Or perhaps his views on Bigfoot..."
Will John McCain support voter registration for injured veterans?
Paul Rieckhoff at Huffington Post reports that the Veterans Administration has banned voter registration in "veterans' nursing homes and homeless shelters."
"I call on John McCain to stand up for veterans' rights and denounce the Veterans' Administration for restricting voter registration access to disabled veterans. John McCain of all people should know that there is no one in America who more deserves the right to vote than the brave veterans across this country, who put their lives on the line to protect this right. For the federal government to restrict their access to register to vote is disgusting, and I am waiting to hear John McCain say this in public."
Coincidentally (or maybe not) a report was just released showing that active-duty military personnel are donating more to Barack Obama than to John McCain. By a margin of six-to-one.
"Maybe people in the military have noticed that John McCain just isn't there for them the way that Barack Obama is. Maybe they've noticed that McCain couldn't be bother to vote for the new GI Bill, and in fact actively opposed it as being too generous to them. Maybe that's why they've given Barack Obama six times what they've given John McCain. People in the military are not fools. They look at what the candidates say, and what the candidates do. Barack Obama has stood up for them -- against John McCain -- and it looks like they have shown their appreciation."
Will it count up to Keating Five?
John McCain's daughter is about to release a children's book about her father. Awww... how cute!
"I'm looking forward to Meghan McCain's children's book about her father John. I'll be especially interested in whether it teaches them to count up to the Keating Five. Or whether Meghan decided that children's tender minds needed to be protected from that piece of John McCain's personal history in Washington. It's also interesting to note that a book for children fails to mention McCain's children from his own first marriage."
Or maybe McCain himself can't count?
Barack Obama ran a pretty good ad last week, one that dared to point out that John McCain has voted 95% of the time with President Bush. The McCain campaign's response (in an update at the end of the article) was hilarious -- that Obama was the one voting in "lockstep" with Bush because (are you sitting down?) Obama voted with Bush "almost half" the time. So, in response to any question of how close either one is to Bush, or (for that matter) any question involving any sort of math whatsoever:
"Maybe John McCain's campaign needs a quick refresher course in mathematics. When Barack Obama accurately pointed out in an ad that McCain votes with Bush 95% of the time, McCain's campaign tried to say Obama was the one voting in (quote) lockstep (unquote) with the president because Obama had voted less than half the time with Bush. I'm not making this up... you can't make stuff like this up! OK, quick question -- how many think 'almost half' is more than 'ninety-five percent'? Which is voting in 'lockstep' -- less than half, or 95%? Maybe they just can't do simple math at McCain headquarters, I don't know."
Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground
Cross-posted at: The Huffington Post
-- Chris Weigant