Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Almost a chain

I have two links for you today. First, from the NY Times is this scathing editorial from Bob Herbert who completely lays into Republicans whose economic policies have led to our current situation with that camel fucker in Iraq. Wait, I mean, in our financial sector. He likens them to someone standing next to a fire hose watching their house burn.

Then there's this interesting piece in the Daily Kansan that uses the sad closing of the current incarnation of the Gaslight Tavern to look back on the unique history of the original, located where the Kansas Union parking garage is today. Much like the current Gaslight it was a gathering place for the local radicals and hippies and was a focal point of the violence that occurred in the late 60's and early 70's. The article touches on the race riots, sniper attacks, and fire bombings that occurred during that amazing time period in Lawrence.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Now, I'm no economist...

...but, uhh, today didn't go very well. I find myself somewhat conflicted on this issue and both sides make some sense. Really, we have no idea what will happen but we're pretty sure it's going to be brutal no matter what so we're left trying to decide which option sucks the least. I'll lay out a few of my thoughts with the huge caveat that I have no background in this at all and have to base my opinions almost entirely on reading the thoughts of those who do know something.

First, how big a crisis is this? Just a few months ago Paulson, et al, were saying that the economy was doing fine and now that it's crashed they want $700 billion yesterday. That goes to what is probably the biggest factor in my skepticism, I just don't trust them. I don't trust Bush, I don't trust former Wall Street guys at Treasury, I don't trust people like Greenspan or Bernanke who were supposed to be in charge of this whole thing.

However, that said, a lot of people I trust seem pretty spooked by this whole thing and honestly when you peak into the shadows it is pretty scary. These banks have been propping up everything on a house of cards based on assets that were way overvalued. If banks start collapsing and credit dries up we're all pretty much fucked. Not just the fact that no one will be able to buy houses or cars but businesses might not be able to pay you if they can't get capital. What happens to an economy based pushing imaginary money around a computer and getting people to buy more than they can afford when it all finally collapses?

So, I'm fairly certain we've got to do something and it's probably going to hurt a lot but it's important to get the best deal possible. Maybe it's just my inner bomb throwing anarchist struggling to get out but in these types of deals it always seems to be the working people that get screwed and are left holding the bag. I saw it described as the same people that weren't invited to the party are stuck cleaning it up and paying the bills now that it's over.

From what I read about this bill the provisions and oversights were mostly toothless. Paulson and Treasury still had near dictatorial powers, CEOs still got their golden parachutes (which is really just a feel good issue that doesn't really address any real problem, and the government still buys all the worst assets guaranteeing that they will lose a lot of money. There are really smart people saying that buying bad assets is a horrible way to get out of this and buying up shares in banks, as Sweden did once upon a time, is a much healthier, and cheaper, option.

The situation is certainly dire but is it so dire that there's only time to look at one plan without examining other alternatives? Robert Reich is predicting a smaller, temporary package will be voted on soon. This seems like the way to go...I guess. I do believe that after the election it will be easier to get people focused on solving the problem. No one wants to vote for this and explain to pissed off voters why they just sent $700 billion to Wall Street a month before the election.

Speaking of the election...could John McCain play this any worse? He tries his stunt last week to "suspend" his campaign to fly to Washington over the objections of everyone involved in the negotiations. Then reports leaked that he went to the meeting with Obama, congressional leaders, and Bush but didn't say anything until the very end. Then he tried to take credit for bringing both sides together just hours before the whole thing blew up after Republicans dynamited the deal. I just want this election to be over so I can stop worrying that he might somehow win. Fortunately he appears to be attempting to take care of that himself.

So, I'm hopeful that a better bill can be crafted but I'm also somewhat skeptical that they will ever be able to get enough Republicans on board to pass anything worthwhile. Some feel that this was the best bill the Democrats were going to get but I have to believe that something more could have been done to help the homeowners instead of the lenders and to ensure that you and I aren't left holding the bag while the millionaires and billionaires escape relatively unscathed from a mess of their own doing. Hopefully they get it done...and soon.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

"As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It's Alaska."
Sarah Palin


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sarah Silverman for Obama

Sarah Silverman has a new video targeting Jews to get them to go down to Florida to convince their grandparents to vote for Obama. Kind of funny if you're into her.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Is it possible Sarah Palin is some sort of android?

I'm just sayin'...

Watch the first 30 seconds or so after Palin and Couric start talking, specifically after Couric asks the follow-up question. You can practically hear her processor whirring as she searches her logic programs for an appropriate answer only to end up in a loop and forced to repeat the exact same damn talking point she just used. We've seen this before in the Charlie Gibson interview when she answered that she could see Russia from Alaska twice when he asked her what type of insight that gave her. An actual human, especially one running for vice president, would typically be able to form a coherent answer to questions like these. Unfortunately our robot technology has not progressed to a level that would allow her to do anything more than use these pre-programmed talking points uploaded earlier in the day.

It's really quite a brilliant strategy and a natural progression from their current plans. The Republican overlords first attempted to run the country through a moron and that worked well except he wasn't quite as reliable as they would have hoped and his independent streak got him into trouble because he was such an idiot. With an android, however, they wouldn't have that problem because Palinbot 3000 would be slavishly devoted to their evil plans.
1. A robot may not injure a fetus or, through inaction, allow a fetus to come to harm.

2. A robot must obey orders given it by Republican Overlords except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3. A robot must protect the existence of the bourgeoisie power structure as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

However, they might have to wait a few years while they work on the "answering questions" protocol so they won't have to resort to hiding her from reporters or coming up with elaborate schemes to cancel the debates.

For more evidence check out from 4:30 until the end. Gotta love the "He's also known as THE Maverick" line and judging by the end of the interview they certainly have uploaded the "smug, condescending, dismissive answer" program.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Disturbing thought

The Chiefs lost their last 9 games of last year and their first 3 games of this year. In their last two games they played what appears to be the two worst teams on the schedule and they got their asses kicked in both. I had already begun to fear an 0-16 season but has any team lost 25 games in a row? Would I be able to handle that?

I'm not even sure I can handle seeing Tyler Thigpen start another game. Fortunately I had an excuse not to watch a second of today's game but the numbers were bad enough. I get that rebuilding is an ugly process but when your QB is that bad you're just wasting everyone's time and not making any progress at all. Why is it that most of my teams end up not just sucking but being a complete embarrassment?

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Jesus appears to overweight Kansas women

And CNN reports it.

I'm a huge fan of Jesus sightings because I like to imagine Jesus trying to decide where he is going to make an appearance next. "Hmm, I've noticed Timmy having some doubts so I could show up in the streaks on his window but I really feel like showing up in Rita's waffle iron will do more good. You know, I gotta help out these women in Arkansas City lose those last few pounds. Next rain storm I'm doing it."


Friday, September 19, 2008

Why anyone with a pulse should fear John McCain

McCain apparently wrote a piece in some obscure journal for actuaries about what he would do to fix America's broken health care system. I'm sure the ten people that read that were thrilled but buried in the piece was this line that pretty much sums up his, and the Republican, strategy for everything:
Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.
Good God, man. Could you have picked a worse time to brag about how great your deregulation of banking industry has turned out? I'm so glad we got rid of the "worst excesses of state-based regulation" and replaced it with the worst excesses of corporate greed. I mean, you can't even open up a paper without a new story about a new bank either going bankrupt or being bailed out by the government precisely because of a lack of regulations leading to horribly misguided financial decisions. Yes, please, let's apply that same logic to the health care industry because that will turn out great for everyone!

But, I'm still a little confused on McCain's stance on the economy but I guess that's ok because he is too. Within three hours the "fundamentals of the economy" went from "strong" to "at risk." Although Stephen Colbert explains that one away. But why is he trying to take credit for deregulating the banks one day and now acting the part of the populist calling for more regulation? Another blatant flip flop from a man who will now say anything or take any position to get elected.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tailgating pix

Here are some tailgating pics from last week's ISU-Iowa game that are kind of amusing but my favorite is this one because of the look on the kid's face in the background. You can click on it for the full-size version.

"OMG, binge drinking is teh coolest! I'm so excited about college that I bought the shirt before I'm even there."

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Dear Alma Mater!

I still get excited for this ISU-Iowa game because it brings back so many memories like this one. If I remember right I was sitting in this endzone and going completely crazy. Some 10 year olds had talked shit the whole game and I took it upon myself to convince them that they could still become Cyclone fans. I had a flask of Bacardi in my back pocket and I'm sure their parents hated me but it was a lot of fun. I think the Clones have an uphill challenge tomorrow but they'll always have a shot in this game. Fight, Iowa State, fight, fight!

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Friday, September 12, 2008

This only happens once

So here it is, take a picture. I'm actually going to compliment "The View." They put the screws to McCain on a few things in their interview with him. Watch him shifting uncomfortably as they bring up the lies in his commercials. By the way, the "Obama wants to teach sex education to children" was his support for a program teaching them how to get help if they are being abused. oh gnoes!!1 teh sex ed!


Palin on Russia

Good grief, if this one hand picked interview with this woman provided this much idiocy surely she'll completely meltdown at some point, right? Ugh, I have to keep telling myself, as important as it is to me and the country, a lot of people just don't give a shit.
GIBSON: What insight into Russian actions, particularly in the last couple of weeks, does the proximity of the state give you?

PALIN: They're our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska.

Uhh....right. "Uh huh, they're in sight. I can see them from the island." "Dammit, not 'in sight', 'insight'!" Try again.
GIBSON: What insight does that give you into what they're doing in Georgia?

PALIN: Well, I'm giving you that perspective of how small our world is and how important it is that we work with our allies to keep good relation with all of these countries, especially Russia. We will not repeat a Cold War. We must have good relationship with our allies, pressuring, also, helping us to remind Russia that it's in their benefit, also, a mutually beneficial relationship for us all to be getting along.


I'm wondering if this woman is even less intellectually curious that Bush is. Anytime they tried to ask her anything remotely serious she gave complete non sequiter answers. It's like she can recognize the words and can put them together into something that almost makes sense only it doesn't actually address the actual question. It would be like if I tried to have a conversation with an art historian or something. I can namedrop a few movements and artists but anything deeper than that and I'm completely bullshitting. She just has no clue about any of this and apparently has had no interest to actually learn any of the details.

I suspected that the conservative puppet masters like Cheney loved Bush because they could get him to do pretty much whatever they wanted. I mean, he didn't really give a shit and I think they found version 2.0 in Palin.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

This cannot happen

I'm not sure what pisses me off more, her ignorance of even the topic of what he's trying to ask or the why she says "Charlie." OK, it's the first one but for some reason something about this woman angers me more than anyone has since Bush. We gotta win this one.

This is just brutal to watch. It's like watching some kid who didn't do the reading trying to bullshit his way through the question the professor just asked. "In what respect, Charlie" Please, God, bail me out, bail me out. Dammit! "His worldview?" Please be his worldview, please be his worldview. 2002, what the fuck? They didn't have this on any flashcards. Time to break out the old Islamic Extremism card. That always gets the cheers in my stump speech. At least she didn't go all "U.S. Americans" on us.

Here's another video at one of my new fave blogs, Terrace Agenda, of McCain trying to come up with how exactly she has foreign policy experience. If you don't want to click through the answer is "energy." He actually said she "knows more about energy" than anyone in this country. Somehow, I doubt that.

The thing is, it really doesn't matter if she knows anything about the Bush Doctrine or didn't actually do anything to cut government pork or whatever. It doesn't matter because they want to turn it into an election about personality and how she relates to all those "hockey moms" and the conservative Christians and our media has been pretty complicit. Even when people call them out on their lies there is always a conservative there repeating the same lie back and in the order of "balance" they are never really called on it so it turns into a "he said she said" muddled issue for most people even when we actually have the facts in front of us. They'll turn something like this into a positive by saying, "well, it's not really fair because most people don't know what the Bush Doctrine is." And Joe Sixpack will say, "yeah, they're right, I don't know that either." Well, Joe Sixpack isn't potentially our president and this was pretty much the entire basis for the invasion of Iraq so it might be good to know what the hell it says and whether you agree with it or not.

Our elections have turned into American Idol in that it's all about coming up with a narrative and right now we're getting smacked with that. There's plenty of time but they've got to keep hitting on the things that matter to people because those still can work but the fact is if it turns into a personality contest with skirmishes over "lipstick" and "sexism" I can see us losing just like we did the last two elections when I would tell myself there's no way America will elect this man. Lord knows I've been full of righteous indignation over Bush the last 8 years but none of that did any good and it won't do any good here either. Of course that's not going to stop me from pointing all of that out but I won't be surprised if it just doesn't matter to most people.

Edit: Interesting read from CBS on this Bush Doctrine question:
For that reason, one of the most striking things about Palin's response, to me, was this: in answering Gibson's question, she seemed to think that she was accepting the Bush Doctrine, but what she actually said just restated the old doctrine of preemption. When, as Palin said, "there is legitimate and enough intelligence that tells us that a strike is imminent against American people", the claim that we have the right to preempt that strike does not require the Bush Doctrine; it just requires the old, and much more widely accepted, doctrine of preemption. That is: in what Palin says here, she's not actually supporting the Bush Doctrine at all. She's just saying what generations of American Presidents and candidates have said: that when a country is actually about to attack us, we don't have to wait for them to actually land a blow before we can strike back.

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Dumb names

Why is it that every new professional team has to pick a completely ridiculous name? The latest is the Oklahoma City Thunder. Thunder? When I hear Thunder I think of the Wichita Thunder hockey team or the Orlando Thunder WFL team or any number of ridiculous youth teams but NBA? Nah. It's only slightly better than the extremely boring "Bobcats." May as well call them the Ortners or something.

Then there's their logo. I still can't figure out what their colors are. Is it orange, the other color of orange, blue, red? And what does that have to do with thunder anyway? The biggest tragedy of all of this is that the green and gold and the name Supersonics were so great and a part of the city. How can anyone not love the way the announcer on NBA Jam says their name? Bulls!...versus!....Supersonics! Do you think Ice Cube would have ever rapped the words "Lakers beat the Thunder?" Eazy-E would have shot him right there if he tried to pull that shit.

So, is this name supposed to be somehow related to Sonics or there's just nothing interesting enough in Oklahoma to name a team after? Anyway, you suck, Thunder.

Chuck Norris Buying Into His Own Facts

Either Chuck Norris really is the badass everyone says he is or he's convinced himself it's true. Apparently he did two tours in Iraq and no one even noticed.
LARRY KING: The question about the money spent on Iraq was a fair question, Chuck. Isn’t that a lot of money?

CHUCK NORRIS: It’s a lot of money, but we’re spending a lot of money everywhere. We’re spending a lot of money on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and we’re spending a lot of money that we’ll probably wind up paying off the car dealers, the cars, and the airlines. I mean, we’re bailing everybody out. And, uh, we can debate the question of whether we should be in Iraq or not, but we are there and we gotta take care of the situation there. I’ve been there twice, Arianna. I’ve done two tours over there. I know what’s going on over there. You haven’t been there.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: This is really the most absurd response. Because the fact that you’ve been to Iraq, I’m sorry to say, makes no difference compared to the fact that—

NORRIS: Yeah, it does. I’ve talked to the troops over there.

HUFFINGTON: If the President. . .

NORRIS: I’ve talked to the troops. . .

HUFFINGTON: . . .and John McCain and Sarah Palin. . .

NORRIS: . . .and they believe that we should stay there until we finish the job. You know, you would pull tail and run.

HUFFINGTON: You know there are many, many people in the military. . .

NORRIS: Yeah, that’s your liberal view, Arianna. You’re so liberal.

HUFFINGTON: Let me just finish the sentence. There are many people in the military who are deeply concerned about what’s happening to our military. We are destroying our military. Suicides rates. . .

NORRIS: Not the military people I’ve talked to. I’ve talked to all the military commanders over there and they don’t feel that way, Arianna.

HUFFINGTON: If I were a member of the John McCain campaign, I would accuse you of sexism right now because you keep interrupting me.

NORRIS: Why? I’m backing Sarah Palin so I’m sexist?

HUFFINGTON: Let me just finish one sentence. What’s happening to the American military is something all of us need to be concerned about, as is the fact that we are absolutely spending trillions of dollars.

This brings up a few questions. Like why does Chuck Norris doing a few USO tours make him some kind of expert on Iraq? And why the hell is Chuck Norris debating anything? I mean, I guess he was in Delta Force and spent a couple of years fighting crime in Texas so that pretty much crosses the Sarah Palin threshold but now that the Huckster is gone why didn't the Chuckster go with him? And if anything can we have him debate evolution because that would be awesome. I love how Republicans get so pissed off about "liberal Hollywood" supporting the Democrats but then fall all over themselves whenever some two-bit actor is on their side (Charlton Heston, Ronnie Reagan, Ahnold, Chuck Norris, Fred Thompson, etc.).

And then what's with his argument that we spend a lot of money other places so it shouldn't matter that we spend it in Iraq? What kind of financial conservatism is that? It's great that financial conservatism only applies to social programs that help people and never to the billions we spend on bombers and these pointless wars.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I didn't see this coming

Boy George has released a pro-Obama video complete with a "Yes we can" chorus and audio clips from his speeches. It's, umm, quite a sight. Plus a cartoon Amy Winehouse makes an appearance at the end which was bizarre.

I don't know, some of the visuals in the video are pretty good but the song is just so damn cheesy. I mean, I know that really fits in with the 80's vibe but maybe that's just what I'm sick of.

First a disclaimer. What follows is not a well-defined thought at all, just something that's been kicking in my head for a little while so just bear with me but do you ever feel like saying "what the fuck is our culture doing?" Over the last several years it seems like we just keep ripping our fashion and music ideas from the past. It started with the return of bell bottoms and continues to the 80's stuff I see popping up today. In music we had the return of garage bands and now it seems like half the bands in town are some 80's synth knockoff. Enough with the meta, self-referential crap. Is this all there is? Are we going to cycle through decades for the rest of eternity? Is there nothing new? Are we even allowed to enjoy anything on a non-ironic level anymore? For the love of God will you damn kids just get off my lawn?

Think about it. Maybe I'm way off and we're more original than I think or maybe I've just been surrounded by Lawrence/hipster culture for too long. Perhaps what would be considered our real pop culture is completely different but honestly I don't think I could name a single song in the top 40 chart right now so I have no idea.

OK, I looked at I knew the M.I.A. song at #5 (when did that hit the mainstream? +1 indie cred for me), the Coldplay song, and one of the two rap songs about lollipops but I'm not sure exactly which one it is (lollipops must be huge this year). Oh, and I knew the "I Kissed a Girl" song and the only reason I know that one is because it was on NPR which I think is a pretty good sign that I should stfu about analyzing our crap culture. Actually the fact that Danity Kane is still releasing hit records is indictment enough.

Upon reading this it's looking like even more nonsensical than my usual ranting here in the Basement so maybe I'll formulate some coherent thoughts and address all of this further later. But now I'm going to go have nightmares about how depressed I'm going to be if McCain/Palin win in 8 weeks...

Monday, September 08, 2008

Tom Brady's Mangled Knee and Other Thoughts on Football

Even if you really don't give a shit about football there's still a decent chance you heard that Tom Brady got messed up yesterday. I mean, it was on the front page of the NY Times and on the national news tonight. I'm sure TMZ or whatever reported it too if you're into that.

Anyway, Tom Brady happened to be my #1 pick in my most important fantasy football league. That pretty much screwed me for the rest of the season because I was counting on him to rack up the TDs like he did for me last year. Now I'm forced to start, ugh, Brett Favre. Obviously this also screwed one guy in every single league across the country. In fact, they actually estimate that this injury could mean a total loss of $150 million to his fantasy owners. Bummer, dude.

The other interesting sports news to me was that the opening lines in Vegas for the ISU-Iowa game had the hawks as anywhere from 12.5 to 14 point favorites. This pretty much shocked me. Both teams were not highly regarded entering the season but have had relatively little trouble with their two overmatched opponents.

Every year seems to the same thing and I thought if anybody caught on surely Vegas would. The script goes like this: Iowa blows out some crappy teams, the hype machine in the state goes into overdrive positioning Iowa among the all-time great teams and predicting massive blowouts over the Cyclones, ISU wins, everyone makes excuses. In fact, ISU has won 7 of the last 10, I believe as an underdog in every one of them, and covered the spread in the 3 they lost. So, when I see a huge spread like that I have to wonder what they're thinking. It's certainly possible Iowa could cover that but history would say that ISU will at least make a game of it.

I returned to see my old high school football team play for the first time since I played my lat game about a decade ago. It was really pretty embarrassing that they were playing our biggest rivals on opening night and the crowd was smaller than most of them when I played. Even the visitors hardly brought anybody. What happened to those good old-fashioned Mennonite town hate fests?

I come from a really small school but we always had a lot of people out for football. I think we had 55 or so on one of my teams and now they were down to 29 with only four seniors. That's pretty pathetic. I ran into one of my old classmates and a few other former gridiron stars and we leaned against the fence talking about how bad they were and that wouldn't have happened in our day. Sure, my greatest contribution was drawing a pass interference call in the endzone against one of the worst teams we ever played and we never rose above the level of slightly better than mediocre but I didn't let that stop me from bitching. They better get this turned around because as an alum I will not stand for this. I'm about to buy a cowboy hat and a big belt buckle and start making thinly veiled threats about how they'd better start winning like the guys did in Friday Night Lights.

Oh, and here are the top five videosf of Raider fans engaging in various criminal/anti-social behavior.


Friday, September 05, 2008

Spelling has a well known liberal bias

Thursday, September 04, 2008

John McCain's perfect strategy

Hey, so if you haven't noticed I have a lot of free time today which means lots'o'blogs.

He's the only man with the answer and he's not going to tell us unless we elect him. Foolproof!
Republican candidate John McCain said on Wednesday that if elected president, he will capture al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

"President Clinton had opportunities to get Osama bin Laden. President Bush had opportunities to get Osama bin Laden. I know how to do it and I'll do it," he told ABC's "World News" in an interview.
Dude, John, just go ahead and tell Bush what your secret is. Unleashing The Moosehunter? Torturing more people? Actually looking for him?

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Just plain folks

Vanity Fair estimated the cost of Cindy McCain's outfit at the convention the other night. Final estimate: somewhere in the neighborhood of $300,000
Oscar de la Renta dress: $3,000
Chanel J12 White Ceramic Watch: $4,500
Three-carat diamond earrings: $280,000
Four-strand pearl necklace: $11,000–$25,000
Shoes, designer unknown: $600
Total: Between $299,100 and $313,100

Of course looking at the dress I'm pretty sure they forgot to account for the cost of the time machine they used to bring it back from the future when the "Banana style" swept the nation.

I'm slightly skeptical that those earrings actually cost that much (but what the hell do I know about what the obscenely rich spend their money on) but either way she was walking around in couple years worth of my salary. Yep, just plain folks.

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Lying Liars

I barely have enough time to read about the new damaging info about Sarah Palin that comes out every 5 minutes or so let alone write about it. Let's just say she scares the shit out of me as a potential president and say she is one of the least qualified nominees ever. But, that John McCain is such a maverick he's willing to buck the system to take the far right social conservative who claims to be a political reformer but brought in $27 million in pork to her town of 6,000 and was for the bridge to nowhere before she was against it and was director of indicted Ted Stevens' 527 group and wants to teach creationism in public schools and threatened to fire a librarian for not banning books. Well, isn't that special. And we barely scratched the surface.

There's also her seemingly insane decision after her water broke in her last pregnancy to give a speech, fly to Seattle, hop on another 8 hour flight to Anchorage, then drive another hour to tiny Wasilla and give birth to her premature baby with Down's Syndrome. And her potential ties to an Alaskan separatist political party. And her whacko church where she gave a speech about Iraq being God's war and listened to a guest speaker who advocates the idea that terrorist attacks on Israel are punishment for not accepting Jesus. Anyway, the bottom line is she sucks and it's another hundred or so reasons why Obama must win. Here's another, just because.


Here is an AP report detailing all the lies from her speech and others yesterday.