Saturday, July 3, 2010

Last Call

Welp, got everything I need for a crock pot pork shoulder BBQ tomorrow.  Hope you all have a good day planned!

Because of course Independence Day means the Swedish Chef.

World Cupdate

Day 2 of the Quarterfinals brought us a pair of highly anticipated matches, Argentina vs. Germany and Paraguay vs. Spain.  First up, Zee Germans were loaded for bear against La Albiceleste, running a 4-2-3-1 attack with the powerful Miroslav Klose at point, to control the midfield against Diego Maradona's 4-4-2 attack featuring Higuain and Tevez.  Germany came off an absolute smashing of England, while Argentina was all smiles to see Brazil gone.  It took all of three minutes for Germany to draw first blood.  Thomas Muller pounded in a free kick at 3' and Germany then proceeded to systemically dominate the midfield, but Argentina would not be denied.  They slowly built momentum up against the German juggernaut and counterattacked when they could, relying on infernally fast break chances to thread the German defense.  Several opportunities just missed and by halftime we had a real match on our hands.  In the second half, both sides fought valiantly, Argentina was beginning to look like they could break through at any moment...and that's when Germany slammed the door on the Gauchos for good.  Klose blasted in a goal at 68' and Arne Friedrich added one at 74' to rip out Argentina's heart.  The Germans added a fourth goal, another from Klose, at 89' to put an exclamation point on it and to serve notice to all that this Cup belonged to them, and it was theirs to lose.  Argentina certainly was in no shape to argue as they were skunked 4-0.

Meanwhile in the late game, Paraguay took on Spain for the last Semifinal spot and and both teams were pumped.  Paraguay took a 4-4-2 squad into battle led by Valdez and Cardoso, while La Furia Roja spotted up a 4-3-3 attack with Iniesta, Torres, and David Villa in the middle.  The opening gambit belonged almost solely to La Albirroja as Paraguay worked to control the midfield early and did, patiently playing a counterstrike strategy against Spain's powerful offense.  Spain looked sloppy early and this allowed Paraguay to dictate the flow and played the long ball to try to burn Spanish keeper Iker Casillias, while Spain couldn't organize anything on offense with Paraguay's midfield swarming Villa and company, despite Spain's 2-1 advantage on time of possession.  Spain just couldn't manufacture a chance if it came with a kit and instructions.  Valdez dented the back of the net at 40' but a clear offisides meant it was all for show, and Spain just didn't seem to know what to do on offense, and Paraguay just sat there on defense.  The second half was more of the same, a battle for the middle that devolved into trench warfare.  Finally frustration bubbled over and the fighting began.  Pique yanked down Cardozo in the box for a penalty and Casillas took the shot for Paraguay only to see keeper Casillas vacuum the ball up.  But not 2 minutes later Alcaraz takes an arm to David Villa on the other side of the field and Spain got a PK!  Villa's shot sailed right into keeper Villar's arms, and both teams...went right back to trench warfare.  Finally, the fates took pity on the crowd and it was David Villa's pinball off both posts that found its way into the back of the net at 82' for Spain, and that was your winner, smartly sparing the universe from another 30 minutes of "game play".  Spain will face Germany, and the winner will take on either Holland or Uruguay.

My prediction here is that despite South American dominance in the event, you'll see Germany and Holland in the final match.  We'll see.

The Week Sauce

So, looking over the political weekly mag titled...well...The Week, it appears to be missing a few words from said title, as with the mag's contributors being the likes of folks on my blogroll, namely intelligent people I respect like Daniel Larison and Brad DeLong, well that's pretty good.  On the other hand, the outfit also includes obnoxious faux-centrist concern-trolling hippie-punching types like David Frum (Krugman is right but we need tax cuts anyway), Tish Durkin (Robert Byrd was history's greatest monster), and of course, Clinton operative Bob Shrum.

It's Shrum's article that epitomizes The Week perfectly.  He wants Obama to hold Congress over in August.
The president should announce the special session, lay out the agenda — and as Harry Truman did when he recalled Congress in the summer of 1948, challenge the Republicans to do “what they are saying they are for.”

On employment, even better-than-expected jobs numbers won’t be sufficient to persuade people that the worst is over. The millions of Americans whose unemployment benefits are running out can’t subsist on a trend. The Republicans in the Senate refuse to extend jobless benefits on the grounds that the cost can’t add to the deficit, that unlike GOP tax cuts for the rich, Bush’s prescription drug benefit, and two wars, it must be paid for. That’s stupid economics in the case of automatic stabilizers that are designed to generate demand and new jobs.

But the president and Democrats could split the difference here. Why not, for example, revive the $19 billion tax on banks in the Wall Street reform bill? Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown blackmailed Democrats to remove it — in exchange for his vote. But shouldn’t the banks that received hundreds of billions in taxpayer bailout funds pay something to help the unemployed whose livelihoods they shattered by their financial recklessness?

Almost certainly, the Republicans would filibuster anything like this — which would vividly demonstrate whose side they’re on. In fact, a special August session would give them opportunities to reveal themselves again and again.

The Republicans say that since the oil spill, the president and Democrats have done too little on energy; in truth the Senate GOP has blocked the energy bill. Give the party of “no” the chance to do the bidding of big oil and their big contributors — and to vote against the environment and energy independence — in the globally warmed glare of the August sun.

The xenophobes claim that anti-Hispanic profiling like the recent Arizona law is a reaction to the Obama administration’s failure to act on immigration. Never mind that Sen. Lindsey Graham and the few so-called moderate Republicans walked away from reform, along with Sen. John McCain, who appears willing to do anything to salvage his degraded career. Give the GOP the chance to rebuke racism and help pass a fair solution — or alternatively, to spew anti-Hispanic rhetoric and doom the party’s presidential prospects for a generation. 
Now, on the surface, this would be a good idea.  The problem is actually pretty simple:  The Republicans will simply block everything day after day.  This only works if the Democrats can actually pass the legislation in question, and barring that, it would only work if they don't get stabbed in the back by Ben Nelson, Evan F'ckin' Bayh, Joe Lieberman, etc.  Senate Dems voting against Obama's agenda only gives the GOP the opportunity to say "Hey, even the Democrats don't like this.  Clearly this must be stopped."

The problem with Shrum's logic is that the Republicans have already filibustered jobs legislation and everything else time and time again, and people refuse to call the GOP out on it.  Even worse, Democrats are helping them filibuster things.  Something like this is a waste of time unless the politics are there to pass the damn bills, and that's something Obama, Reid, and Pelosi have to do when Congress is actually IN session.

You don't pick a fight you're not going to win.  Getting beaten up doesn't make you a winner in politics.

The words missing from The Week's title are in Village Idiocy.

Oil's Well That Doesn't End Well For This Oil Well, Part 20

Now the worst environmental disaster in American history by more than a few measurements.
A Taiwanese supertanker skimmed oil from the Gulf of Mexico Saturday as the months-long disaster became the worst accidental spill on record.

Rough seas and strong winds continued to delay clean-up efforts, displace protective booms and push the oil deeper into fragile coastal wetlands, endangering wildlife preserves and the thousands of birds nesting there.

"This is going to be a very long and arduous clean-up operation in the days to come," said Coast Guard Admiral Paul Zukunft.

"I'm especially concerned with some of the wildlife habitats."

An estimated 35,000 to 60,000 barrels of oil per day has been gushing out of the ruptured well since the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon drilling rig sank on April 22, some 50 miles (80 kilometers) off the coast of Louisiana.

A containment system has captured about 557,000 barrels of oil, but rough seas have delayed the deployment of a third vessel which is set to increase capacity from 25,000 barrels to 53,000 barrels a day.

That means an estimated 1.9 to 3.6 million barrels -- or 79.5 to 153 million gallons -- of oil has now gushed into the Gulf.

Using the high end of that estimate, the spill has now surpassed the 1979 Ixtoc blowout which took nine months to cap and dumped an estimated 3.3 million barrels (140,000 million gallons) into the Gulf of Mexico.
Still no relief in sight.  Still weeks, months, perhaps longer until this thing can be contained.  Still untold damage to Gulf Coast states, to the people that live there and make their living off the ocean, and to the wildlife.

All of it preventable and unnecessary.

Again With The Kvetching

It seems that once again we've got folks in the back whining that the Hope And Change Train ain't moving fast enough, and DOOOOOOOOOOOOM is coming in November no matter what Dems do.
To be sure, things could change in the four months between now and November 2. The GOP's failure to get Republicans to vote in the May 18 special election in Pennsylvania's 12th District underscores that the party can't just sit back and await spontaneous combustion in terms of turnout. Still, the potential is here for a result that is proportional to some of the bigger postwar midterm wave elections. These kinds of waves are often ragged; almost always some candidates who looked dead somehow survive and others who were deemed safe get sucked down in the undertow. That's the nature of these beasts. But the recent numbers confirm that trends first spotted late last summer have fully developed into at least a Category 3 or 4 hurricane.
Digby has a theory on why that is. 
You can't help but wonder if the Democrats have decided that having the votes of "liberals, African-Americans, self-described Democrats, moderates and those living in either the Northeast or West" just aren't worth having so they are going to fight the Republicans for every last one of those John McCain voters. How else to explain the ongoing derision of their rank and file? ("They look like absolute idiots" is the quote that comes to mind.)
So does Greg Sargent
I tend to fall into the camp that holds that the Dem base's lack of enthusiasm is out of sync with the size and scope of the accomplishments racked up thus far by Obama and Dems. The excitement around Obama's victory was so intense, and the sense of a "big change moment" was so palpable, that people were bound to feel let down despite Obama's clearly historic achievements.

But reasonable or not, something is apparently turning off these voters in a big way.
Me, well, let's be honest.  There's a pretty large contingent out there that enjoys kvetching about how doomed we are, and it happens at the drop of a hat (or an Obama poll number.)  I'm here to remind you that instant gratification in politics just doesn't happen, folks.  It's not a short-term tactics "win the 24-hour news cycle" game, but a long term "build the foundation, shore it up, and then build upon that" kind of deal.

Look at the past.  The New Deal.  Civil Rights.  Women's Suffrage.  This stuff didn't get passed in 18 months and the world was magically better, it got improved in stages, fits and starts, suffered setbacks and challenges, and those were overcome through perseverance and effort.  Obama's smart enough to get that necessity dictates he play the short game as well as the long one, but the problem is he's playing them against each other.  Long term he wants to build the Democratic base.  Short term he wants to get Republican votes.

What Obama doesn't get is that there's zero way he can get Republican votes in the short term (at least not until he shows Republican voters that his long term plan is working for all Americans).  The economy is making that really, really hard.  The austerity hysteria as a result of that is making it near impossible.  Obama's going to have to make a choice here.

The Dems should be running on "Here's what we've done and why you should vote for us!" and not "So what are you going to do, vote Republican?  I didn't think so."

StupidiNews, 4th of July Weekend Edition!

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