Monday, September 29, 2008

More TED

ONE MORE: The Swedish Model. Please?

: Oh. TED closes at 3.59% - highest ever, and the S&P fell 8.4% - the sharpest decline since 1987. It seems that if anyone can find a hill, they are running for it. I updated the chart below to reflect today. The TED line is off the chart!

I mentioned the financialy wonky TED spread before here, but a small update. For review, the TED spread is a measure of how hard it is for a bank to get a loan from another bank. Normally a bank-to-bank loan is super safe, so the real rate is around or below 1%. In the 1987 crash it hit 3.35%. Today it has hit 3.5% already.

Since that is hard to visualize, I found a graph of TED (red bars) since 1985 compared to the S&P 500 (blue line), and I updated it for today. Shocking.

corgi haiku

sprawled out on her back
how does such a little dog
hog most of the bed?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

From the Department of Hopeful Predictions

In my wildest predictions for election day, the map on the left here is what I would guess. That comes out to 338 for Obama and 200 for McCain. But, I have always assumed that Florida and Virginia didn't have a chance, and Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Colorado would be the deciders.

But, for the first time over at Interade they are betting on a map not unlike this one, and the venerable FiveThirtyEight does have this map! And sure things will probably fade back down, but the question is when? And why? McCain lost his chance at the first debate, his campaign is terrified of their own VP candidate, and their post-debate strategy will be to say,
"One is that Obama is not ready to be commander in chief and that, in a time of two wars, "his policies will make the world more dangerous and America less secure." Second, he said, McCain will argue that, in a time of economic crisis, Obama will raise taxes and spending and "will make our economy worse."
If things don't change and change soon for McCain, he is looking at certain defeat.

EDIT: Checking back on FiveThirtyEight with todays poll numbers added in is actually shocking. In his thousands of statistically possible election scenarios he runs every day, McCain only won 19.5% of them. Two and a half weeks ago, he was winning about 55% of the time. And as Nate Silver points out, this is not August where being behind in the polls is something to be worked at. This is October politics, and Obama is enjoying the higest level of support that he ever had.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Debate 1

Obama won the first debate, and I don't think I am just being partisan.

Per my post below on John McCain's misunderstanding of a tactic vs a strategy, Obama came into the debate following his campaign strategy that he has been following since day one. Stay calm, talk directly to people, and follow is main points that have been honed by 18 months of nearly daily campaigning against serious opponents. He has faltered when his message get muddled, he does well when he can shine through. Last night he shone through and was right on track. While that does not produce a Reagan style nock-out, it neutralizes John McCain while steadily firming up support for himself.

McCain's campaign has been looking only at tactics. How can we win today's news cycle. How can we get people talking. That's why he kept throwing in random and snarky campaign slogans and trinkets ('at least I don't have a presidential seal already') and pushed the line "you don't understand" over and over. He needed to hammer Obama, win the debate, get things going, and then win the election. And he was angry, and never looked Obama in the eye. For people who already dislike Obama this is great, but they were voting for McCain anyway. But the people who matter at this point, the 10-20% who are undecided or soft-supporters, genuinely like both candidates and want to see fair treatment from both of them - which only Obama delivered. Finally, McCain's dismissive tone acts to harden up Democratic support of Obama, something no one else has been able to acomplish since this summer!

Even if I am wrong and popular opinion calls debate a draw, Obama still wins. He is up in the polls, there are only 2 debates left (plus the VP debate) to change peoples minds. Obama shows no sign of fatigue, while the McCain campaign is in chaos. The question is, was McCain's proformance enough to at least stop the bleeding? Or will his numbers continue to drop?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Debate clarification

Tactics – (Department Of Defense) 1. The employment of units in combat. 2. The ordered arrangement and maneuver of units in relation to each other and/or to the enemy in order to use their full potentialities. (Army) The employment of units in combat. It includes the ordered arrangement and maneuver of units in relation to each other, the terrain, and the enemy in order to translate potential combat power into victorious battles and engagements. (FM 3-0).

A Strategy is a long term plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal, most often "winning."

Debate Night

Well now that the debate is canceled
Now that the debate is under question
Now that the debate is back on, what can we expect? Well following up on McCain's awful last week, he has managed to top it off with an even worse week. Really really bad. The Palin pick gamble has come to pay out like I thought, and then some. Her interview with Katie Couric was so bad that even some of her most staunch conservative defenders are starting to call for her to "bow out". He "suspends" his campaign in another gamble, hoping to get another pay off. But instead, he lies to Leterman and becomes a punch line. He flew into Washington expecting to be the hero only to land in the middle of a deal gone bad - and he doesn't know what to do. People point out he still has ads on TV, is still raising money, and is still paying people to attack Obama during his suspension stunt. Meanwhile, Obama has been calm in all this, with the only criticism leveled at him is that he might be "too cool" in the face of all this. I bet he wishes all criticism could sound so sweet.

So McCain, whos bet has gone bust, now has to slink back to Mississippi not having prepared for a debate tonight that should get mind-blowing ratings, and with him down a massive 4 points in national polling averages. This time 4 years ago, George Bush was up 6 points, and after the first debate went disastrously, his lead dropped 4 points to 2%. He went on to win by 2.4% Realistically there is not much that will change the outcome of the election after the debates. We are in a time of hardening public opinion, so baring some new dramatic event that McCain can create, or happens in his favor, here is what tonight could mean for the election:
  • McCain is done if he does poorly tonight. Over. Finished. KO.
  • McCain will lose the election if tonight is a tie. Everything is against him right now.
  • McCain has a chance if he wins tonight, but he will have something more to push back against and talk about.
  • McCain can win the election if Obama does awfully, and McCain does suburb. If he can pull off a dramatic and clear win, it will make people second guess everything they have seen in the past 2 weeks. 'McCain was right all along! Obama was useless!'
I say the odds are more for a tie, but really anything could happen. McCain is down, and when he is down he swings hard so look for him to be hot tonight. It should be exciting!

For a little comic relief, here is a remembrance of the 2004 debates from the Daily Show, and the silly game of spinning the "winner" of the debate.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Clinton then, Obama now



Different times, different candidates, and different campaign styles, but the resemblance is striking and powerful. Obama is 100% in charge right now, and the only question going around for McCain is if his campaign/debate suspension and is mistake, or the biggest mistake in modern presidential political history. And with only 39 days until the election, there is very little time left for McCain to change the momentum of this race. But if this pattern holds up, expect more drama from the McCain campaign all the way until election day.

EDIT: McCain sure made Dave Letterman mad. He really gets funny a little after at 6:00 when Dave catches McCain doing a live interview at CBS (in the same building), rather than being on his show, or being in DC like he said he would be.


As my friend from the FT John Authers notes, the "TED Spread" has shot up again, and is at 3.37% as I write. I wanted to mention the TED spread (despite its financial nerdiness) because I discovered it a week ago when the market crashed and every one was talking about this odd number, and have been watching it ever since.

The TED spread is the difference between the safest investment out there, the 1 month T-Bill interest rate, and the rate that banks lend to each other, called the London Inter Bank Offered Rate. When the gap between those two increase, it is an indication that banks are having a hard time moving money and that they consider it a risk to lend to other banks.

On the day of the crash last week, the TED was at 3.13% and that was the highest since 1987. If John is to be believed the only thing holding up the celling is the belief that banks are about to get $700 Billion in free money.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


McCain wants to suspend campaigning and postpone Friday's debate to focus on the economic crisis.
Is he truly putting "country first", or is he just circling the drain?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

MyRate update

Since I signed up for the Progressive MyRate program in August, the little device has been plugged into the Subaru's diagnostic port recording our every move. Today for the first time I uploaded all the data to see what happened, and was really surprised.

First, at this rate we will get 15.7% off our next round of insurance, or about $80. Second, oh the data! The image on the right is the trip home from Valley Grove this weekend. Note the cruise control. You also get to see your number of trips, trip time, average risk level by time, driving time by day/week, average time spent at various speeds, millage, and sudden starts and stops - for every trip. Then it compares your data to the average myrate user, or to a demographic group (see 21-29 year olds at the bottom). Turns out we are actually safe drivers!

Progressive says they don't use the sudden start stop data for your rate though, that is for your own information (and to stalk your kids). The rate itself is based on your millage and what time you drive. They say that the most dangerous time to drive is from 12 am to 4 am, followed by rush hr/night time(4am-9am, 3pm-6m, 9pm-12am), then the rest is low risk.

So, I we get to save money, and get some cool information about when and how we drive. I like it!

I hate this kind of spam

What do they think I am, an idiot?
Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transactin is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully Minister of Treasury Paulson

Monday, September 22, 2008

FT - Short View

I have been reading the Financial Times from London, and have really been impressed by John Authers who does the "Short View" web program. He lays things out cleanly, with great graphs, and in an easy to understand way.

Key watching is the "The cost of safety" and "An epic rally."

Craziness here - he does not inspire confidence.

Bad Loans

So the Bush administration wants to pay banks $700,000,000,000 in exchange for a pile of nearly worthless loans and securities. Make no mistake, this is a horrible deal. This is the Iraq of financial wars. First, how much money is $700 Billion? Iraq has cost $550 Billion so far, and the AIG bail out was $80 Billion. So this is a fantastic number.

Also, $1 Billion in $100 bills weights about 30.25 Metric tons (this is how we know) so $700 Billion would be 21,175 Metric Tons of cash. To compare, the huge Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil weights about 1,000 tons, so the image on the left equals the weight, in $100 bills, of this bail out. Make my point?

My understanding is weak, so here are some better voices. First here is a easier to understand balance sheet from Ezra Klein:
"The easy analogy here is debt restructuring: If your business has $20 in the bank, and your creditor is demanding you pay back your full $100 loan next week, you're going to collapse. If you then restructure the debt so you pay back $10 a week, and you pay $120 in total, you may have lost more money, but you didn't collapse. The problem with the bailout plan is that we're supposed to be buttressing Wall Street against the possibility of collapse, but Paulson went a step further and constructed the government's approach to help protect against loss."
And, they are requesting that no oversight be given by anyone to how the money is spent.

So, more from Sebastian Mallaby here and from Paul Krugman here. The short version is there are far less expensive ways to keep the banking system solvent, and doing it this way will not only keep them afloat it will eliminate any losses they could occur on the bad loans they made! This could be the biggest one day re-distribution of wealth since the Russian revolution - but going the opposite way. And no one will notice.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Final decisions

I think I've made my final choices for rotations! They are:
  • Companion Birds (parakeets, parrots, cockatiels, etc)
  • Emergency Medicine (self-explanatory)
  • Ophthalmology (eyeballs)
  • Dentistry (dogs can get root canals too)
  • Clinical Pathology (diagnosing diseases by looking at blood and tissues under the microscope)
  • Behavior (aggression, OCD, anxiety, inappropriate urination, you name it)
  • Cardiology (hearts)
  • Oncology (cancer)
And for externships:
  • Shelter Medicine at Golden Valley
  • Small Animal Ultrasound with a local practitioner
  • Exotic Pets in Indiana
  • Acupuncture at Colorado State University CVM
The next big decision I'll have to make is if/what I want to specialize in... At least that'll be easy, thanks to this handy-dandy decision tree!

Friday, September 19, 2008

No Shorts

As in selling short, the process of selling borrowed stock with the hope that they will be able to buy them again at a lower price, thus making a profit on the downtick of the market rather then the up. But, a new rule went into effect in London that just says, "you can't do that." From the FT:
the ban, which was announced by the Financial Services Authority in a surprise move Thursday night which starts next Tuesday, will prevent investors from creating or adding to short positions in banks, insurers and other financial companies. Short-sellers – particularly hedge funds – who profit from falling prices have been blamed for the plunging shares of HBOS and other banks.

The new rules prompted UK bank shares traded in New York to soar, with most jumping more than 10 per cent within minutes of the announcement and Barclays rising more than 20 per cent. Traders said the ban was likely to cause a relief rally in financial shares on Friday, which coincides with a so-called “triple witching hour” when large numbers of options expire.
This explains what happened yesterday, and will likely continue on today with the SEC jumping on board with their own temporary ban 10 day ban on 799 stocks. But to me this seems like an unrealistic temporary bubble that is caused entirely by short-sellers (and there are a lot of them) having to dump all their money out of their short sells in 10 days, and moving them into stocks. Of course the price of stocks is going to sky rocket! But what happens after that? It does buy some time for things to get worked out as far as the nationalization of the investment banking/insurance/monetary system (pause to gather your boggled mind) by central banks and world governments, but then once things go back to normal all that is going to shift back to who knows what.

Over at the Oil Drum which I read regularly, Nate Hagens has a very very pessimistic view of this and explains everything in detailed terms.

EDIT: Madness. Russian markets up 28% now. They halted trading even. 

UPDATE: London, and most of europe, makes the biggest 1 day gain ever. That is as if the Dow goes up 1,000 pts, which it could. But when things are so unstable, for markets to be going up this sharply still strikes me as very unsettling. 

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Happy 10,578 Day

I have been watching the Dow Jones Industrial Average since I posted on the 16th to see when it would cross the magic number of 10,578 and it just did!

Happy 8 years every one.

UPDATE: Now things are up! That didn't last long. And have produced this great headline, "Kraft to Replace AIG in Cheesier Dow"

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fun with radiation

After spending three hours of a glorious sunny September afternoon stuck in a dark room staring at X-rays, I decided I should let all of you in on the fun too! Credit to fellow vet student blogger Nearly-Dr Ferox, who started putting up X-ray challenges ages ago.
Here's one of the X-rays we had to interpret today. If it helps, we're currently focusing on abdominal radiographs. What's wrong with this dog?
A little history: the dog was presented with acute dyspnea (difficulty breathing). Click here to see a larger version.

For comparison sake, you can see a normal canine chest radiograph here, and a normal abdominal radiograph here.

*update: hint #1- check out that chest cavity compared to the normal dog...

Irony Alert

This is a real news item ripped from the pages of the Onion: "Top Clinton Fundraiser Backing McCain, not Obama"
"Lynn Forester de Rothschild has said she thinks Democratic nominee Barack Obama is arrogant and has a problem connecting with average Americans.

Rothschild is a member of the DNC's Democrats Abroad chapter and splits her time living in London and New York."
Ah, nothing like connecting with the little people. She is married to Sir Evelyn Robert Adrian de Rothschild, who has a fantastic Wikipedaia page that contains this line, "Born into great wealth, Evelyn de Rothschild became one of England's most eligible bachelors, spending his youth travelling, socialising, driving exotic sports cars, enjoying thoroughbred horse racing and playing polo."

Capital I say!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Volt lives!

Ever since I saw the concept for the Chevy Volt in January 2007 I have been watching for updates, and low and behold here it is! Final form, for sale in 2010. A little more standard looking than their concept car was, but still really slick.And all the fuel saving electric goodness is there too.
  • A 16kWh battery pack that will run the car for 40 miles on electric only
  • A 1.4L engine generator that runs on gas or ethanol to re-charge the battery while driving
  • The electric engine produces 150 horsepower and a huge 273 lb-ft of torque that because it is electric is available instantly, rather than having to spin your engine up to 5,000 RPM. So acceleration is linear, compared to a gas engine where you start slow then speed up.
  • Regenerative braking
  • Great aerodynamics - but they didn't give any numbers
  • 3 hr charging on a 230v outlet, 8 hrs on a standard 120v
  • Costs about $1 to drive 40 miles.

But how much will it cost, and when can people buy it? No hard dates or numbers yet, but it should be out in 2010 and cost a bundle. But depending on how you drive, the fuel savings would be incredible. The photo here is a 20 mile radius from our house, so if we had a volt we could go roughly out to there and back with out using a drop of gas. Of course it is as the crow files, so road miles would be smaller, but you get the idea. So for 95% of the time we would have a $.02 a mile car, and that would turn into a 40mpg car ($.10 a mile) the rest of the time. Now that's cool!

Another day

Another stock drop. Overnight stock markets in Europe were down again at an average of 2-5% and with the risk that A.I.G, who is described as the "heart of the financial system," could possibly fail if it doesn't get enough cash from other banks and governments to meet its obligations should its bond ratings slip any further. I can't say anything about that, but we will probably pass a landmark in numbers today, 10,578 - the price of the Dow Jones Industrial average on January 20th 2001, when George Bush stepped into the White House promising to be a bipartisan washington reformer. Here is the chart of the past eight years. Only 339 points to go!

EDIT: The market ended up! In the US anyway. Russia had their own Black Monday going down 17%. Tricky times...

Monday, September 15, 2008


This week, I have to finish dealing with the surreal experience of scheduling where I'm going to be in the 2009-2010 school year. On Monday, we submit our choices for our clinical rotations, including when we want to take vacations and where we want to go for externships. I just had a potential externship mentor tell me that they just don't know where they'll be in April of 2010. It seemed unreasonable at first, until I remembered that most people don't know where they'll be in April of 2010 just yet. Hrm.
I want to share my list of rotations that I've decided on, but first off, some definitions. Fourth year is unlike any other year in vet school. It starts in May of 2009, and ends in May of 2010. It consists of 28 blocks of two week long clinical rotations, in which they unleash us into the teaching hospital and various clinics around the country (and internationally) to learn how to practice medicine alongside professors and mentors. We get five weeks of break (two two-week blocks and one one-week block), plus one day off to take our board exams in November or December. Then, we graduate in May of 2010 and head off into the world, DVM degrees in hand (yikes!).
I'll be tracking small animal medicine, meaning that my rotations will focus on cats, dogs, and few small exotics. My required rotations are a smattering of 14 general rotations (internal medicine, surgery, derm, necropsy, anesthesiology, etc). For the rest of the 28 weeks, I get to pick nine elective rotations and three externships... Here's what I've decided on for now (although I'm sure it will change a few times a day until Monday):
  1. emergency medicine
  2. small animal dentistry
  3. behavior
  4. ophthalmology
  5. companion bird
  6. cardiology
  7. oncology
  8. laboratory medicine (aka clinical pathology)
  9. nutrition OR acupuncture (still deciding)
  10. shelter medicine at the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley
  11. exotic pets at an exotics-only practice in Indiana
  12. small animal ultrasound with a mobile practitioner in the Twin Cities
I know I'll be taking two weeks off for the wedding in August, and two weeks off about a month before the wedding. I already know I'll be working over Christmas break, but at least I get Christmas Eve and Day off (yay!).
It's getting hard to remember that we have a whole school year to finish before we get to start clinicals!


John McCain earlier today,
You know that there's been tremendous turmoil in our financial markets and Wall St. And it is -- people are frightened by these events. Our economy, I think still -- the fundamentals of our economy are strong. But these are very, very difficult times.
And the walk back a few hours later,
Our workers are the most innovative, the hardest working, the best skilled, most productive, most competitive in the world. My opponents may disagree, but those fundamentals of America are strong. No one can match an American worker. Our workers sell more goods to more markets than any other on earth. Our workers have always been the strength of our economy, and they remain the strength of our economy today.
Italics mine. Of course, that seems to beg the question, what would it take for the fundamentals of the American economy to be weak? Flu pandemic? Asteroid strike? It seems like a low bar to me.


If you thought the possible collapse of the US banking system was scary, you haven't seen anything yet.

Ninja cat can bend time and space...


It is 7:49 AM with 10 min before the markets open, and it certainly feels like a dangerous time.
WaPost: The U.S. financial system this weekend faced its gravest crisis in modern times, as regulators resorted to triage on Wall Street to contain the spreading damage from a meltdown in the housing and mortgage market.
NYT: But even as the fates of Lehman and Merrill hung in the balance, another crisis loomed as the insurance giant American International Group appeared to teeter. Staggered by losses stemming from the credit crisis, A.I.G. sought a $40 billion lifeline from the Federal Reserve, without which the company may have only days to survive.
Angry Bear: Had Bear [Stearns] gone out of business, about 30% of the hedge funds in the country would not have been able to execute virtually any transaction for the following thirty days. Not a payment. Not a redemption. Not a trade on a listed exchange. Not a receipt. Not a de-leveraging. Not a swap payment, not a CDS payment, not fulfilling an option exercised against them.

There's not just a "maybe" about financial collapse in such a scenario; [statistical] probably well in excess of 0.9944. $30 billion is a "bargain" in such a situation.

Yikes. Black monday in 1987 saw the Dow drop 22.6% and was largely based on electronic markets going out of control, not some of the worlds largest institutional banks failing. To compare, a redux would have the Dow dropping 2,580 points today, down to 8,840. Keep your hats on!

UPDATE: The Lehman Brothers bankruptcy is mind boggling in size:
The 158-year-old firm, which survived railroad bankruptcies of the 1800s, the Great Depression in the 1930s and the collapse of Long-Term Capital Management a decade ago, filed a Chapter 11 petition with U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan today. The collapse of Lehman, which listed more than $613 billion of debt, dwarfs WorldCom Inc.'s insolvency in 2002 and Drexel Burnham Lambert's failure in 1990.
.6 Trillion dollars?  Thats 4% of the entire GDP of the United States. WorldCom's 2002 bankruptcy, who today is bumped down to the second largest in history,  was a paltry $41 billion..

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Practice makes perfect

I got out to do a good hard cyclocross practice today at my newly found local training area, Prospect Park, home of the famous "Witches Hat" water tower and the highest natural point in Minneapolis. Here is the bird's eye view of the park. Despite its compact size It has a nice mix of pavement, grass, dirt and and since it is built on a hill there is lots of run ups and off camber downhill slopes. There are also hardly any people there, so I don't feel like an idiot on parade if I mess up.

My progress so far is small. I still screw up getting on and off the bike, and if my imaginary barriers (aka the sidewalk) had been real I would have crashed several times! I am fine when I am fresh, but once you start getting tired finesse goes out the window. But, there are still a few weeks to go before the first race! Practice practice practice...

Sunday, September 07, 2008

One week down, lots more to go

The class of 2010 is back in school, and this year already feels a lot different from the last two. Everything feels more geared towards our clinical year and away from lecture-style learning. We've moved from our old lecture hall into the newly-remodeled Ben Pomeroy Center, which used to be one of the old dairy barns and feels a lot less classroom-y. We've already had one hands-on lab, where I got to try my hand at doctor-type things like floating horse teeth and pilling a cow. Our professors keep taking tallies of how many people are in each track- small animal, equine, food animal, or mixed. The key words for "pay attention to this point" have shifted from "You'll need to know this for boards" to "You'll need to know this when you get to clinics." (even though we haven't taken boards yet). Eek!
Classes in general are not too different from usual, except that they all seem to last two hours instead of one. So far, we've had...
  • Musculoskeletal disorders: Why is my dog limping?
  • Toxicology: My dog just ate the hostas- are those poisonous?
  • Metabolic Disorders: Why is my dog drinking three gallons of water a day, urinating every half hour, losing his hair, and getting a potbelly?
  • Reproductive Diagnostic Techniques: Is my stallion shooting blanks?
  • Large Animal Gastrointestinal Disorders: Help, my cow has diarrhea!
  • Small Animal Gastrointestinal Disorders: Help, my dog has diarrhea!
I'm also trying to finalize my list of what rotations to take during fourth year, since we have to decide before the end of the month. Decisions, decisions...

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Awful Pick

I said five days ago about the Palin pick - "I can't imagine her holding up well under pressure." Well she has only spoken publicly twice and has only had one softball interview with People magazine and already she is becoming an unmitigated disaster for John McCain. 

Her single upside is that the conservative base loves her. Wander into the more conservative parts of the Internet and they are overjoyed to get a 'true conservative on the ticket'. It paid off in dollars too, with $7 million dollars raised just one day after the announcement.

Now for the bad. Well, there is so much bad and scandal that I won't even try to link to anything, just sum up stories I have read this week in one long sentence of political doom:

Starting with the pop/tabloid appeal of flying while in labor with her fifth child and/or rumors that it is not even her baby combined with her pregnant teenage daughter, moving on to her firing of her ex-brother-in-law and then lying about it (that is under state investigation) and trying to fire her city's librarian for not agreeing to ban books and lying about that too, to saying she had been to Ireland when her plane only refueled there, to her husbands membership (and her support) of an Alaskan separatist party, to lying about opposing the "bridge to nowhere" while working to raise money for indicted Alaska Senator Ted Stevens and hiring Jack Abramoff's lobbyist, to being part of a radically fundamentalist church who hosts anti-Jewish speakers (Palestinian attacks are Gods revenge), to not being interviewed by the McCain campaign until a day before she was selected and only having met John McCain once which has raised a big question mark about McCain's decision making process, and polls show that she does better at attracting the male vote than the female vote and people see her as a gimmick. Phew.

I mean, CBS news ran over six minutes of negative coverage on Palin on their nightly news.

The combo of tabloid press, and critical press, has created a storm of fascination and scrutiny that has gone so far out of the McCain campaign's control that I don't think they will ever be able to completely get it back. And they can't get rid of her with out really killing their campaign. She has in one stroke light up the conservative base and reignited the culture wars full force in a bid to make this election about personal identity and not about issues or experience. Which is a contradiction to everything the McCain campaign has been supposedly about up to this point. I think their campaign, and the entire RNC convention up to this point, is currently trapped in contradiction with no clear direction out. 

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Monday, September 01, 2008


Tomorrow marks my 19th (and final) first day of school. How come I still get nervous about it?

(bonus points to whoever can tell me what "an meiner, huh-la!" means)

Headlines you never thought you would see

To rebut rumors, Palin says daughter, 17, pregnant

ST. PAUL (Reuters) - The 17-year-old daughter of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is pregnant, Palin said on Monday in an announcement intended to knock down rumors by liberal bloggers that Palin faked her own pregnancy to cover up for her child.

What is going on in this bizarro world.