Wednesday, January 30, 2008

He Probably Does

Lou Dobbs - so-called pundit, real racist

Matt Yglesias at The Atlantic wonders, "Lou Dobbs refers to 'the so-called Latino vote.' What does he call it?"

Suggestions found in the comments:
  • The Wetback vote
  • Get off my lawn!
  • The Vote for Pedro Vote
  • The Imigranofacist Vote
  • The Taco Bell Vote
  • The Mow My Lawn, Then Leave My Country Vote
  • The Spic Pick
  • The Beaner Ballot
You think people have figured out that Dobbs hates Latinos?

[Editorial Note: The point of the article is that Dobbs is obviously a racist/fearmonger and people have picked up on that. I don't hate Latinos. If you needed to read this note to figure that out, poor you.]

In Related News - Black is White, Up is Down

I never thought I'd see the day when I sided with the New York Post over something as opposed to the Times, but that day has come.


[D]on't forget the Clintons' trademark political cynicism. How else to explain Sen. Clinton's oft-contradictory policy stands: She voted for the war in Iraq, but now says it was a bad idea. She'd end it yesterday - but refuses to say how.

It's called "triangulation" - the Clintonian tactic by which the ends are played against the middle.

Once, it was effective - almost brilliant. Today, it is tired and tattered - and it reeks of cynicism and opportunism.

Full endorsement here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Snap!

Hillary won the Florida beauty contest (say what you will about Edwards, but I do not want to see him in a bikini for the swimsuit competition). What are people saying? According to The Caucus over at the Times, it sounds something like this:

Keith Olbermann: “What is this a celebration of?”

Andrea Mitchell: “It is a celebration of the fact that this is not South Carolina.”

Meanwhile, in Spain... (Part II)

I voted today. Susie came home from the university and found our absentee ballots in the mailbox. Jeez, I thought I was just going to pick a candidate for president and be done with it. DuPage County had other ideas.

I voted for:
DEMOCRATIC nominee for president (including Dodd, Biden, Richardson and Kucinich)
DELEGATES to the DEMOCRATIC convention (along with which candidate they support - didn't I just vote for that?)
DEMOCRATIC nominee for IL-6
DEMOCRATIC nominee for county board
-and-
Do I favor a DuPage County quarter-cent sales tax raise?

I actually ended up abstaining from a couple of the choices, since I didn't have enough information to cast an informed ballot, but according to my tabulation, in the delegate rich state of Illinois, Barack Obama leads all challengers 1-0-0 with 0.0% of precincts reporting.

Also, Illinois is a closed primary state, so I'm officially a member of the Democratic Party, though I strongly considered affiliating myself with the Party Party.

I don't know what it is about voting, but it always makes me feel good. I feel like I'm helping to steer the course of America, or something. Yeah, it's nerdy in that patriotic sort of way, but it's why America rocks. That's why I get bent out of shape with Hillary trying to steal delegates or Dubya stealing the election.

Oh, and if you ever wonder why states like New Hampshire and South Carolina still say 99% reporting, it's apparently because of us dumbass expatriates. Some of us don't vote in a timely manner/foreign post can be kind of spotty, so teacher gives us an extension, even though you can drop your ballot off at the nearest consulate for free postage back to your home state. To combat our idiocy, the Democrats are having a Democrats Abroad online primary this year, but it's only good for 11 delegates. I'll vote in Illinois, thank you.

Meanwhile, in Spain... (Part I)

Okay, I know some of you (Yvonne) have been complaining that this blog is Jake and Susie in Spain, and I would point out that you are correct. At some point, Susie went kinda AWOL on the project, and my life here is boring/routine enough that things in America have grabbed my attention and, thus, the attention of this blog.

But not today! It's been such a crazy 36 hours here in the BCN that I can relate goings-on that are worth reading. Let's start with yesterday, when I woke at the crack of 8:00 to go to the bank and change our bank accounts. Before you scoff, 8:00 is early by Spanish standards, so it's more than the fact that I hate getting out of bed.

Why change bank accounts? La Caixa (conveniently "The Bank" in Catalan) has been doing an excellent job. Well, it turns out that once you're a resident, you need a resident's account, rather than the weird tourist/illegal alien account we must have had. If we hadn't switched, they could have frozen our funds, which would make it difficult to pay our rent on Friday.

Once I was done with that, it was back to the apartment to wait for the handyman. Our pipes in the kitchen were backing up where the flexible dishwasher line went into the larger, inflexable sink pipe. Also, the light in the spare bedroom, which is now in use since we have someone living with us, didn't work.

So the handyman shows up at 10:30 or so and asks to see the light. We have ten foot ceilings and I had stood on a dresser to get to the light. Not happening with this guy - he's like fifty. Of course he wants to know how to get up there, and he asks if he should fly. So, back to the shop for him (fortunately right across the street), and back with a ladder. Of course he thinks that we're idiots and we just need to change the bulb, since that's probably fifty percent of his business. If I could charge 32.50€/hr, I'd change lightbulbs all day long. But, the contacts for the bulb are broken and needed to be repaired. That was the simple part.

Next, onto the pipes.* Turns out there's a fundamental design flaw with our kitchen. The drainpipe is designed for one thing to drain into it. We have three (two sink bowls and a dishwasher), so this is apparently going to be a big problem for the rest of time. Since we're not going to live here for the rest of time, I just want to be able to wash dishes without my feet getting wet. Solution? First, clear out the pipes. The previous tenants had shoved food down the drain and it was causing much of the backflow. (We don't have a disposal.) Second, attach an adapter to the dishwasher pipe so that it locks firmly into the drainpipe.

It turns out there's a different way to clear pipes here in Spain. Rather than breaking out the pipe snake, they use air pressure to force the blockage down the pipe using an air gun. Imagine if God had a Super Soaker. That's about all I can say.

I don't think I can describe the physics of the whole situation to you unless it were in person, but the handyman unexpectedly caused a seven foot geyser of water/decomposed food to fly out of our sink. Yes, I had just cleaned the kitchen less than a week previous, including scrubbing the floor on my hands and knees. Yes, it smelled awful. Yes, it got everywhere, including walls, the ceiling, and dishes that had been washed less than twelve hours earlier. Yes, I spent the next two hours cleaning the kitchen.

Then I ate sushi. Everything is better after sushi.

-------------------------

*Pipes in Spanish is tubas. That's right, that giant instrument that every polka band leans on is just called The Pipe. It's the worst named instrument this side of the shakuhachi, which is Japanese for "fifty two centimeters". At least if you play the tuba you play THE pipe. Take that, trombone.

Finally, Someone With Clout Noticed

Remeber my post about Hillary trying to steal the nomination through backdoor shenanigans?

The simple fact is this is a threat to democracy and could tear the Democratic Party apart. But I'm not the only one who noticed, and finally, coverage has escaped the blogosphere. The New Hampshire Union Leader published a rather nice editorial today regarding the whole mess, and reads (emphasis added):


COURTING VOTERS in Iowa and New Hampshire, last August Sen. Hillary Clinton signed a pledge not to "campaign or participate" in the Michigan or Florida Democratic primaries. She participated in both primaries and is campaigning in Florida. Which proves, again, that Hillary Clinton is a liar.

Clinton kept her name on the Michigan ballot when others removed theirs, she campaigned this past weekend in Florida, and she is pushing to seat Michigan and Florida delegates at the Democratic National Convention. The party stripped those states of delegates as punishment for moving up their primary dates.

"I will try to persuade my delegates to seat the delegates from Michigan and Florida," Clinton said last week, after the New Hampshire primaries and Iowa caucuses were safely over.

Clinton coldly and knowingly lied to New Hampshire and Iowa. Her promise was not a vague statement. It was a signed pledge with a clear and unequivocal meaning.

She signed it thinking that keeping the other candidates out of Michigan and Florida was to her advantage, but knowing she would break it if that proved beneficial later on. It did, and she did.

New Hampshire voters, you were played for suckers.

She really will say anything or do anything to get the nomination. That smell is the smoke from all the bridges she's burning.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Routed

I haven't seen a route like this in the South since Sherman's March to the Sea. With 98% reporting, it looks like this:

Obama 55.3%
Clinton 26.6%
Edwards 17.7%

That's 2:1 over Clinton and almost a 30 point spread.

Keep in mind that going into today's voting, Obama's poll numbers had him up 10-15-ish. Once again, the polls were wrong.

Also, Mike Gravel, who is technically still running for president, was beaten by Joe Biden, Bill Richardson, and Dennis Kucinich, who have dropped out of the race. Lest we forget Chris Dodd, he's currently (as of 9:44 ET) tied with Gravel, 239-239 for 0.0% of the vote. It's kind of sad to watch someone who performed such a great service for our nation, releasing the Pentagon Papers, get beat by four men who aren't even running anymore, but I don't think anyone can argue that he's least qualified to be President out of the whole field.

Context

I love pictures that are taken at exactly the right moment and suggest something that probably didn't actually happen. Take this picture, for example. I have no doubt that Bill Clinton is politely, but fervently making a point while discussing politics with the gentleman in the foreground. But that's not what the picture looks like by itself, sans context.

Clinton angry. Clinton SMASH!!

The picture is from Ezra Klein's blog at The American Prospect, from an article discussing the pros and cons of Bill's campaigning. Apparently, one of the points involves Bill punching old dudes.

Also, I don't think I was the only one to pick up on the humor of the photo's timing. When I saved the picture to my desktop, it saved as punchingbill.jpg.

Exactly

The Atlantic has a reader comment that pretty much captures my anger at the Democratic nominating contest in a nutshell. Good thing they took down their pay wall. The letter reads:

For the last six years, I’ve watched a fear-mongering fool manipulate us, ruin our standing in the world and abuse our principles. It’s been hard to feel good about our country. But when Obama won Iowa and surged in the New Hampshire polls I thought I’d underestimated us. For the first time in my lifetime, my cynical generation was turning out heavily to vote. We were choosing, above all else, to be inspired.

Now, the Clinton campaign has gradually and expertly eviscerated him, and it turns out we’re not that country. We’re still easily manipulated; we’re still scared; and we’re still a little racist. It’s hard not to resent her for that.

I couldn't agree more. I've been active in politics since the 2000 election (strangely pulled in by watching the first Gore/Bush debate in an emergency room waiting area while my at the time girlfriend was examined for a sports injury), and constant discussion and debate with my friends has kept me interested and involved. But the entirety of my experience has been defined by the Florida recount, Republican fearmongering, scandal after scandal, swiftboating, and a Democratic majority that seems like it doesn't remember how to be a majority. But something seemed wrong with this picture.

My friends, liberal and conservative alike, all want America to be a better place and generally believe in the inherent good nature of our fellow man. Why, I wondered, was that what my friends and I saw, while politics itself was gamesmanship and dirty tricks? Could it be because we were college students/recent graduates who were still holding onto idealism? Barack Obama seemed to say that it wasn't us. It was possible to be an agent of the political system and still believe in the good nature of America and the transformative power of believing that we can work together, rather than being involved in some Red State/Blue State civil war.

Watching Hillary Clinton take apart the Democratic Party to win the nomination is like watching a brain surgeon at work. It's cold, calculated, and ridiculously effective. The problem is, it tears the nation further apart. If she wins the nomination like this, who will she govern? The half of the Democratic Party that now wants nothing to do with her? The half of the country that disliked her to begin with? George Bush proved in 2000 that you don't need a majority to win, but I never thought I'd see anyone go to these extremes, let alone a Democrat.

Talky Talky Eaty Eaty

I just thought of the best name for a dinner/discussion group ever. Repast & Riposte. Delicious food, engaging discussion, and (of course) wine. Because, as Christopher Hitchens says, "a day without wine is like a day without sunshine."

Who's with me?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Underhanded

Apparently, Hillary won't just say anything to win, she'll do anything. (Though why this surprised me, I can't really say.)

Because "the people" are screaming bloody murder that the Michigan and Florida delegates have been removed by the DNC (they're not, by the way), Hillary is going to fight to make sure they are counted. Keep in mind that when Michigan was stripped of its delegates, Obama and Edwards removed their names from the ballot, leaving Clinton to compete with Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel. No candidate has campaigned in Florida, leaving the race largely up to name recognition, a clear advantage for the Clinton campaign.

Now that the nominating contest will be a delegate collecting race, she is literally trying to game the system. The fact that the Clinton camp did not have their name removed from the Michigan ballot now smacks of premeditation. This type of behavior disgusts me as someone who believes in the true voice of the people and is no better than President Bush's shenanigans in the Florida Recount. This is reason enough not to vote for Hillary, and if she is the nominee, as much as I would have never thought I would say this, I plan to take a long, hard look at the Republican nominee.*

TEXT OF HILLARY CLINTON'S EMAIL SEEKING FLORIDA AND MICHIGAN DELEGATES:

I hear all the time from people in Florida and Michigan that they want their voices heard in selecting the Democratic nominee.

I believe our nominee will need the enthusiastic support of Democrats in these states to win the general election, and so I will ask my Democratic convention delegates to support seating the delegations from Florida and Michigan. I know not all of my delegates will do so and I fully respect that decision. But I hope to be President of all 50 states and U.S. territories, and that we have all 50 states represented and counted at the Democratic convention.

-----------------------

*If the nominee, by some freak of nature, is Pastor Mike, I don't know what I'll do. I'd rather jump into a spiked pit than vote for that.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Just Wanted To Let You Know We're Not Dead

The local Guárdia Urbana (the badass ones with berets and billy clubs, not the Mossos d'Esquadra with day-glo vests) busted some Islamic Fundamentalist types last weekend in el Raval who were trying to repeat the Madrid tomfoolery of 2004. Haven't they learned from Tina Turner? Comebacks just don't do well. But, since they tried to bust up my city, they (and you) should know the following:
  • I'll still ride the Metro
  • Barcelona is still safe
  • People should visit
  • We're not afraid
  • F*ck those guys
Oh, and on a related note, stop trying to kill Ayaan Hirsi Ali!

Dan Savage Has A Challenge

Do you know what santorum is? (If you have an ounce of desire to maintain any innocence you have left, don't click that link. You have been warned.) Dan Savage of Savage Love fame is at it again, just in case Mike Huckabee sticks around for more than the next two weeks.

From this week's Savage Love:

You helped take out Rick Santorum by naming a sex-related term after him, and now the time has come for you to do the same for GOP hopeful Mike Huckabee. He has compared homosexuality to bestiality in an interview, just like Santorum, and more than once. Huckabee most recently came out against changing "the definition of marriage so that it can mean two men, two women, a man and three women, a man and a child, a man and animal."

So what do you think, Dan? Isn't it time for a contest to name a sex act the Huckabee?

Dave In Olympia

Every time someone says something idiotic in public—myself included—I get letters from readers angrily demanding that Ann Coulter, Stephen Harper, Dick Cheney, Antonin Scalia, myself, et al., get the "santorum treatment" (which sounds almost as disgusting as the substance itself). Honestly, this is the first time I can say that I've been tempted. But Huckabee remains a long shot for the GOP nomination, DIO, so it's entirely possible we'll be rid of him in a few weeks' time—hell, he could be out of it before this column gets printed.

But just in case Huckabee is the nominee—hey, you can't be too careful—I'm going to invite my readers to send their suggested definitions for the Huckabee to huckabee@savagelove.net.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Dream Lives On

But it's still a dream. Closer to reality, perhaps, but not yet reality.

Some of you have pointed out that this blog is Jake and Susie in Spain, but it doesn't do to have a day honoring Dr. King without calling attention to the man that he was and the cause he fought for.

In 1963, blacks and whites struggled with the meaning of equality in America. It is a discussion that continues today. But new voices have been added to the chorus. America has expanded her rainbow. A hundred years ago, the Irish, the Italians, and the Catholics were discriminated against not because they weren't white, but because they were the wrong kind of white. Today, blacks have yet to achieve full equality, both in America and on the world stage. Our companions in the journey to a better life are branded as illegal, as if a person very nature could be illegal. We are stereotyped and pigeonholed according to our race and our creed, our citizenship and our gender.

But let us not, as Dr. King said, wallow in the valley of despair.

Let us remember, on this day and on all days, that we have come far. But there is work to be done. And let us commit ourselves to working to day when we are judged not by the color of our skin, as Dr. King said, but on the content of our character. If you believe, like I do, that this life is all you have, make it count.


He had a dream. Don't let him down.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Interesting Primary Statistic

Now that all of the pundits are talking about a long slog to the convention, people are starting to sit up and take notice of the delegate counts that candidates have. The entire process is kind of fuzzy, with committed delegates and superdelegates (played by Christopher Reeve, Brandon Routh, and the dude from Smallville).

I was looking at CNN's politics page after reading about Barack's backdoor victory in Nevada. When you add them all up, Hillary Clinton is about sixty delegates ahead, due to her early stockpiling of superdelegates.

Wait a minute, you say. What about the primaries? Hasn't she won two out of the three that have been held? Isn't that what would give her a lead?

Interestingly, when you add up the states that have had meaningful primaries (sorry, Michigan), Obama is up by one.

Iowa
Obama - 16 elected delegates, 2 superdelegates - 18 total
Clinton - 15 elected delegates, 3 superdelegates - 18 total

New Hampshire
Obama - 9 elected delegates, 3 superdelegates - 12 total
Clinton - 9 elected delegates, 2 superdelegates - 11 total

Nevada
Obama - 13 elected delegates, 1 superdelegate - 14 total
Clinton - 12 elected delegates, 2 superdelegates - 14 total

This is not, I would argue, the winner take all, Obama on the ropes picture that the media is trying to paint (Obama must win in South Carolina, they say). Nor, in retrospect, was the Clinton campaign on the ropes after Iowa. The only person quickly receding into the background is John Edwards, who hasn't won a delegate since Iowa and polled 4% in Nevada.

Now, could Super-Duper-Mega-Giga-Tsunami-Zeitgeist-Katrina-Tuesday-of-Destiny blow the race open for someone? It could, I suppose, especially if the same person takes New York and California by large margins. But Hillary's superdelegate lead comes almost exclusively from New York and New Jersey, so if Obama somehow manages to come out ahead in California and plays it close in New York, this could be one hell of a fight/brawl/battle/imagery invoking violence.

Haha! Cliché.

They Both Win?

Yesterday, Hillary Clinton won the Nevada caucus by about a 50-45-4% margin, as I'm sure you're aware. But apparently, Barack Obama also won the Nevada caucus, claiming 13 at large delegates to Hillary's 12.

Huh?

As Political Radar explains,

The Obama campaign is claiming this delegate victory because of the proportional manner in which Nevada awards district delegates, especially in the state's rural 2nd Congressional District.

On a conference call with reporters, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe and Obama director of delegate selection Jeff Berman explained that Obama had the majority in districts where there were odd numbers of delegates and therefore he won the majority of delegate seats.

Clinton won in areas where there were even numbers of delegates by a narrow margin and so those delegate seats were split evenly.

I'm starting to understand the case for a national primary. This is confusing.

For those of you keeping score, it's Clinton 203 - Obama 148 (including superdelegates).

Haha! Superdelegates.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Maybe That's Why He's Sticking Around

The Caucus is reporting on a National Journal story suggesting that nothing will be settled on Super-Duper-Mega-Tsunami-Ultra-Zeitgeist-Giga-Tuesday-of-Destiny.
One theory emerging among this crowd: John Edwards, who is running third in the polls behind Senators Clinton and Barack Obama, will be able to rack up enough delegates to play kingmaker.
I know I've been critical of Edwards not getting out of the way, but if I could play kingmaker, I'd stick around, too.

Haha! Brokered convention.

Oh, Huck - Huckdate

Update on my last Huckabee post. AFP has an interesting story on Pastor Mike's interview with Beliefnet.com.* Here are the highlights:

"Well, I don't think that's a radical view, to say we're going to affirm marriage. I think the radical view is to say that we're going to change the definition of marriage so that it can mean two men, two women, a man and three women, a man and a child, a man and animal."

and

"The Bible was not written to be amended. The Constitution was."

--------------------

*In the interest of fairness, Beliefnet is not a Christian website, it just covers religion in general.

Oh, Huck

Mike Huckabee's at it again. You may have heard that he recently said, "I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God, and that's what we need to do is to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards."

Now, we have the separation of church and state, so obviously he's not suggesting inviting God into the U.S. Government, right? After all, comments such as this led Republican speechwriter Lisa Sciffren to call Huck "the best advertisement ever for the ALCU."

But wait. Let's check the tape. Has the Huckster said anything else that might shed some light on the situation? It turns out he has. He once wrote a book, Character is the Issue, in which he claims "When two irreconcilable views emerge, one is going to dominate. Ours will either be a worldview with humans at the center or with God at the center ... The winning worldview will dominate public policy, the laws we make, and every other detail of our existence."

He also wrote Kids who Kill with Christian Reconstructionist George Grant. What is reconstructionism? Well, it's pretty modest, really. Its aims are, among other things, "to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost. We are to bring His truth and His will to bear on every sphere of our world and our society. We are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government ... our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors -- in short, over every aspect and institution of human society," according to Dr. James Kennedy.

This works, say reconstructionists, because the Bible is "the final measurement and depository of certain fundamental facts of reality and basic principles that God wants all mankind to know in the sphere of law, government, economics, business, education, arts and communication, medicine, psychology, and science. All theories and practices of these spheres of life are only true, right, and realistic to the degree that they agree with the Bible," according to their Manifesto for the Christian Church.

Turns out, it's basically the Christian version of Sharia law. Wrongdoing is punished by Old Testament Biblical justice. Wrongdoing is, of course, determined by the "inerrant word of God" from said Bible. That means death by stoning for murder (but not of slaves), adultery, homosexuality, blasphemy, and cursing your parents.

If Huckabee wins, I would invest in the manufacture of stones. Well, I would actually run the hell away, but barring that, invest in stones.

Don't believe me? Here are Grant's own words from The Changing of the Guard:
Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ -- to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness.
But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice.
It is dominion we are after. Not just influence.
It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time.
It is dominion we are after.
World conquest. That's what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish. We must win the world with the power of the Gospel. And we must never settle for anything less...
Thus, Christian politics has as its primary intent the conquest of the land -- of men, families, institutions, bureaucracies, courts, and governments for the Kingdom of Christ.
These are the people Mike Huckabee hangs with. God, if this guy wins, bin Laden would probably wet himself with joy. I wonder if Iowa Republicans have any idea what they voted for.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Most Dangerous Place

Editorial note: So it seems that the quotes I attributed to Hillary Clinton were actually made by Bill. Good thing I'm not an actual journalist. But still, that's pretty embarrassing for me and I hope you'll accept my apology.

There's an old political saying that the most dangerous place you can be is between Chuck Schumer and a microphone. But, as one internet political blogger (Matt Bai of The Caucus) pointed out, it looks like the most dangerous place you can be is between Hillary Clinton and elected office.

She's really starting to worry me. It seems like she'll stop at nothing to get power, and when Karl Rove starts singing your praises, I think there's an underlying assumption that you sold your soul at some point. Consider the Nevada caucuses. According to ABC's Political Radar, Hill Bill went postal in a California radio interview when the caucus lawsuit came up, saying,

"Do you really believe that all the Democrats understood that they had agreed to give everybody who voted in a casino a vote worth five times as much as people who voted in their own precinct? Did you know that? What happened is nobody understood what had happened."

The implication being that the state Democratic party is run by a bunch of idiots who didn't bother to read the caucus proposal or something.

But, in a stunning example of journalistic integrity, ABC actually points out that Clinton is wrong, rather than say "the facts are disputed" or some such parsing. Political Radar goes on to say (emphasis added):

Clinton is being disingenuous, however, when he makes it sound as if this feature of the Nevada caucuses was only recently discovered. It's been known for months.

What has changed is knowledge that the Culinary Workers, the union which represents the casino workers, is backing Barack Obama.

Clinton also criticized the casino causues saying: "This is a one-man, one-vote country."

What Clinton left out, however, is that it's not just the at-large casino caucuses which is at odds with "one-man, one-vote."

The regular Democratic precinct caucuses in Nevada are also at odds with "one-man, one-vote."

In rural parts of Nevada, five people are needed to produce one delegate.

In Clark County (home to Las Vegas), 50 people are needed to produce one delegate.

Democrats in Nevada and Iowa structured their caucuses this way in order to encourage candidates to campaign in rural parts of the state.


No one had a problem with Iowa, right? Iowans reading this blog, did anyone freak out during Iowa's "unrepresentative" caucus? Oh, wait. Hillary thought she would win Iowa.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

For the RSS Junkies

Susie thinks my love of RSS is beyond geeky. Whenever I mention it, she scrunches her face up like a nerd with braces and asks in an Urkel-like voice, "Does this blog have an RSS feed?" I would point out that she [redacted story about Susie's geeky tendencies].

Touché.

Anyway, my new Twitter-ma-bobber (or whatever the kids call it), has an RSS feed.

http://twitter.com/statuses/friends_timeline/12317462.rss

Tweet Tweet

I set up a Twitter account today after hearing about it again, this time on NPR.

Yes, I'm a nerd.

But it's pretty cool, and I' definitely going to give it a whirl. Any one else have one? If not, set one up; apparently, we can interact in new and glorious ways (or something).

On a side note, I went with bcnjake rather than jakesta007. I kind of feel like I left a part of me behind, since I've been jakesta007 for so long. Am a total freak for feeling that way? Is this how women who change their name feel?

Love Fest

Apparently, last night's Democratic debate was something of a love-fest, according to the New York Times' David Brooks:

"Their discussion constituted a repudiation of the old Boss Daley of Chicago, who famously said that politics ain’t beanbag.* Apparently politics is beanbag, because that’s all the Democrats threw at each other tonight. I’ve seen more conflict at a pacifists’ stir-fry."

As Phil Ken Sebben would say, "Ha, ha! Stir-fry."

*Beanbag is the Chicago version of Washers

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I'm Glad I'm Not The Only One Who Noticed

You can now dock your iPod with everything and Bluetooth is everywhere. Don't believe me? Check out Penny Arcade's take on this year's Consumer Electronics Show.

Sadly, I saw a blender like this at El Corte Ingles

Monday, January 14, 2008

End of an Era

I thought about this now that the Rolen for Glaus deal is official. Anyone could have said that the Cardinals are in a rebuilding mode, but it's kind of strange to think that they're only one season removed from being World Champions. I mean, look at the roster for the 2006 World Series Championship season:

Starting Lineup
C - Yadier Molina
1B - Albert Pujols
2B - Ronnie Belliard
SS - David Eckstein
3B - Scott Rolen
LF - So Taguchi
CF - Jim Edmonds
RF - Juan Encarnacion


Starting Rotation
Chris Carpenter
Jeff Suppan
Jeff Weaver

Anthony Reyes*
Jason Marquis

Relievers
Josh Hancock
Randy Flores
Braden Looper
Brad Thompson*
Adam Wainwright
Jason Isringhausen
Josh Kinney
Tyler Johnson

Bench
John Rodriguez
Gary Bennett
Preston Wilson

Scott Spiezio
Chris Duncan

That's thirteen players gone since the end of the '06 season. And the area of the team that is most intact is the Cardinals awful bullpen, even accounting for Wainwright's move to the rotation. I doubt this season will bring another Commissioner's Trophy, but it sure will be entertaining.

*Denotes trade bait. Likely will be with another team come opening day.

What the Hill?

I love seeing Okham's Razor being used in popular media. For those not familiar, William of Okham came up with a very handy way of cutting through faulty thinking way back in the 14th century. He said that the simplest explanation is most often the truth.

Take Talking Points Memo's observation regarding Hillary Clinton and her surrogates' race baiting:

We seem to be at the point where there are now two credible possibilities. One is that the Clinton campaign is intentionally pursuing a strategy of using surrogates to hit [Barack] Obama with racially-charged language or with charges that while not directly tied to race nonetheless play to stereotypes about black men. The other possibility is that the Clinton campaign is extraordinarily unlucky and continually finds its surrogates stumbling on to racially-charged or denigrating language when discussing Obama.

The simplest explanation, my friends...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

100th Postiversary!

Well, we did it. This marks our official 100th post to Jake and Susie in Spain! We rule!

(Editor's Note: In keeping with the blog's tradition, Jake will be contributing 95% of the post with occasional comments by Susie)

So what should we do to celebrate our 100th Postiversary? Fake celebrity endorsements ala KSK? Fancy-schmancy party with red carpet reception? Check out our awesome poll on the right and vote. Like any good dictatorship, we'll let the people decide (unless the people's decision sucks, and then we'll decide and frame it as though the people actually decided).

A lot has happened since our first missive, Susie's announcement that we're moving to Spain. We've laughed, we've cried, we've ranted on everything from ABC's incompetence to Creationists' stupidity. We've raised Cooties awareness. Susie's told you about her day to day goings on, and I've tried to share what's running through my head, since I consider my day to day thing kind of repetitive.

If you've been reading this blog from the beginning, thanks. After all, this is all about you, the people. If you've picked us up along the way, you're cool, too. Except for you, Tim Robbins. You're way too tall to be in Top Gun.

If this is your first visit to our corner of cyberspace, what took you so long? Even George W. Bush uses "the Google," and our blog screams quality, especially compared to Jake and Susie in Nebraska.

In celebration of our 100th Postiversary, and to aid those of you who just stumbled across our blog, here are the ten best posts, according to us:*

Jo t'estimo, Espanyol
Public Health Crisis (Cooties)
Huh? (Americans are dumb)
Wandering Through Cyberspace (McDonald's Pizza)
Up Yours, American Broadcasting Company
iPhone Goes Crazy
Talk about Propaganda
Sir, (a + bn)/n = x, hence God exists. Reply!
Knox is on Wikipedia's Splash Page!
...And Now, The Exciting Conclsion

*Represents portion with Susie's input.

So there you are. Don't forget to vote in the poll!


and here's some Harvey Birdman, because I can

Monday, January 7, 2008

But Does He Come With Leather Seats?

Now that he has won Iowa and appears to have built a lead outside of the margin of error, AFP has declared Barack Obama to be in "Cruise Control" heading into the New Hampshire primary.

Not to be outdone, The Guardian says that Obama is in "Overdrive".

Other features to be found on the '08 Barack Obama:
  • All Wheel Drive
  • Anti-Lock Brakes
  • Optional Automatic Transmission
  • Fuel Efficient Engine
  • Six Cup Holders
Joe Biden calls the styling "clean and articulate."

The 2008 Barack Obama. The audacity to hope.

Jo t'estimo Espanyol

Ets l'orgull de l'esport i de Catalunya gloria

I know I've mentioned Espanyol in passing on the blog, but I thought it was finally time to write a little about Barcelona's "other" team, especially since they're in an surprising third place in La Liga, one point behind Barça and eight behind pace-setters Real Madrid. Also, I now have pictures.

Scarves on display for player introductions

Real Club Deportiu Espanyol, or Espanyol for short, was founded in 1900 as the first all-Spanish football club (other clubs, like Barcelona, were founded in part by expatriates) and was a founding member of La Liga back in 1928. However, after the conclusion of the Civil War, Espanyol found themselves in the Segunda for two decades, only to begin bouncing between La Liga and the Segunda for another thirty-odd years. They were last promoted in 1994 and have not gone down since. Espanyol has never finished higher than third.

It's sort of fitting that Espanyol is historically the sixth best team in Spain. It's good enough to be surprising, given their history of bouncing between divisions, but not good enough to draw attention to itself. They're currently in the middle of a sixteen game unbeaten streak and, as mentioned above, are in third place in La Liga. If the season ended today, they would qualify for the Champions League, which they have never done.

Espanyol are endearing for a number of reasons, though they are different reasons than crosstown rivals Barcelona. Barça is, famously, mes que un club (more than a club), since during the Franco regime, the only place you could go in great numbers to anonymously express your displeasure with the generalissimo's facist, anti-Catalan laws was the Camp Nou. Today, Barça is a global brand with a Catalan identity. They are the cosmopolitan side of the city, incorporating the foreign (Ronaldinho, Thierry Henry, Giovanni Dos Santos, even the name Football Club Barcelona) with the Catalan (Carles Puyol, Victor Valdez, Xavi, etc.). F.C. Barcelona is the team of cosmopolitan, independent Catalunya.

Espanyol has traditionally been seen as the Royalist side in the city, and its name change from Real Club Deportivo Español to its current form in 1995 was met with some derision by the locals (especially the most fervent cules). But not so fast, say Espanyol fans. These fans say that in their effort to become a global brand, Barça has lost its Catalan soul and now it is Espanyol that truly represents the city. In fact, there is typically a large banner that runs along the track at the stadium reading Catalunya es mes que un club, nicely turning the Barça motto implying a transcendence of football into a cry of, "We are Catalans, too!" Sadly, it was not out for Saturday's game.

We are Catalans, too!

The fans dislike Barça with the passion of the picked on younger brother, breaking into chants of "Puta Barça" (lit. whore Barça, idiomatically F*ck Barça) at every game and cheering when a scoring update shows Barcelona getting scored on as though they had scored themselves. Espanyol are the plucky underdogs you can't help but root for.

If Barça are the international team with a Catalan heart, Espanyol are now the local team with the cos Catalá. Espanyol doesn't have the money to buy splashy international stars, so they stick to the tried and true model of team development - land one or two stars and develop the rest of your team in house. Amazingly, they have only one international of note, superb Cameroonian goalkeeper Carlos Kameni. The vast majority of the team is Spanish, and of that majority, most are Catalan. Espanyol's best player, Catalan striker Raul Tamudo, is worshiped by fans not only for his excellent skills, but because he turned down huge money to stay with the local side that has been the only team he has ever played for.

video
¡Gol de Raul TAMUDO!

All this is enough to pull for Espanyol, but what I love most is the stadium. While Barça plays in the Camp Nou, a 99,000 seat modernist jewel close to the city limits, Espanyol makes their home at the Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys, located in the heart of Montjuïc and built for the 1929 Expo Barcelona. You may recognize it as the main stadium of the '92 Olympics. It's a classical stadium that blends in seamlessly with its surroundings, which means that it's not just the stadium that is a delight, but the journey to it.

Montjuïc as seen from Park Güell

Montjuïc (literally mountain of the Jews, due to the Jewish cemetery located on its side) is an enormous public park situated on a mountain overlooking the city. It features formal gardens, the national art museum, Olympic venues converted for public use, several ancillary museums such as the Joan Miro museum and the Olympic museum, and public art including the 450 foot tall Montjuïc Olympic Tower. You take the Metro to Plaça Espanya, hop on some escalators, and climb the mountain, walking through the park and past all of this. Imagine going to see a Cardinals game in Forest Park, or a Yankees game in Central Park. The closest I can come to this experience in the US is Chicago's Soldier Field, but even this doesn't do the experience justice.

Sadly, this is Espanyol's last year at the Olympic Stadium, since they are moving to a new stadium next season. The best I can say about the new stadium is that it's incredibly environmentally friendly - all of the electicity to run the scoreboard and lights will be generated by solar panels on the roof. I'm sure it will be a nice stadium and all, but it won't be the same. I'll be sad when I walk from the stadium to the Metro for the last time.

So that's Espanyol in a nutshell. If you like underdogs, you could do a lot worse than the Parakeets. I'll root for Barça, but Espanyol will always have a place in my heart.

And Exhale

Phew. The two week Christmas/New Year's/Reyes/Susie's Parents extravaganza has come to a close with the departure of Susie's parents at 7:00 this morning. It was a fun two weeks, but definitely on the exhausting side. How exhausting? Here's what I've done in the past two weeks, roughly in chronological order:

Went to the Mercat Lesseps
Christmas presents
Go to airport
More presents
Cooked Christmas dinner
Ate Christmas dinner
Went to the Maritime Museum
Ate sushi
Hung around the hotel
Played hearts/spades
Ate grapes
Read The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Went to a Barça game (Barça tied 2-2)
Explored Monjuïc
Had excellent risotto and roast duck
Ate the World's Best Sandwich (according to the Times)
Went to the Catalan National Art Museum
Followed the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary
Went to the Reyes parade
Went to an Espanyol game (Espanyol won 3-0)
Rode the Bus Turistic
Explored Park Güell (twice)
Got/gave Reyes presents
etc.

It should come as no surprise that I slept for 13 hours last night. I'll try to post more on some of the subjects I haven't written about already, but for those of you considering a trip to our fair city, the highlights were Park Güell, the Art Museum, Monjüic, and both football games (for very different reasons).

I'd gotten into something of a routine until Christmas rolled around, and it was definitely good to see parts of the city that I don't get to all that often. It's not that routine is bad, or that I wasn't seeing the beauty that Barcelona has to offer (I spend two hours at a café each week on Avigunda de Gaudí, sandwiched between his Sagrada Familia and Hospital de Sant Pau, reading philosophy), but there are things you forget about, and there are things you see that get put into perspective by exploring a city like this. Does it require more effort? Sure.

But it's worth it.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Nothing Reluctant About It


Today, I bought The Reluctant Fundamentalist at FNAC, since I needed a book for my First Certificate class to read after break. I couldn't put it down. This is the single best piece of fiction I have read in several years.

In my sophomore English class at SLUH, Mr. Moran once mentioned the best experience he'd had involving English. He said that the first time he read Romeo and Juliet, he didn't want it to end, because he would never again experience it for the first time. I've had that experience twice. The first time was my initial reading of The Lord of the Rings. The second was tonight. What an amazing book.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Copa del Rey is Spanish for "WOOOO! Fourth Row!"

the view from our seats

So tonight I went to Barcelona's round of 32 match up against Segunda-B side CD Alcoyono. Alcoyono is perhaps the only Segunda-B team to have found its way into the Spanish lexicon with the phrase tener más moral que el Alcoyano (to have as much morale as Alcoyano).

Quick football aside before I get geeked out. The Copa works the same way as the Champions League, a home and home knockout tournament, only the Copa features 83 teams from Spain's top three divisions, rather than the giants of Europe. Barça won the first leg 3-0, which meant the objectives for the evening were as follows:
  • Barça: Don't lose by four goals (laugh if you want, but it happened in the Copa semifinals last year)
  • Alcoyono: Live up to the morale thing
  • Jake: Rock out, have a good time, post photos to Flickr
All in all, an enjoyable game, even in the rain. A plucky Alcoyono salvaged a 2-2 draw in the 90th minute to give the players and their fans (and they brought a lot of fans from Valencia) some memories that will surely last a long while. But now it's time to be a giant geek.

We had fourth row seats.

You walk into the Camp Nou and you're at the 200 level. We were in section 6. Not 206, section 6. To get to our seats, you had to go down four or five flights of stairs until you were basically in the stadium's basement, and then you walk out to where you're level with the pitch in a 98,000 seat stadium. All four goals were scored in front of us. I was ten feet from Carles Puyol, Bojan Krcic, and Giovanni Dos Santos. (Bojan is tiny, by the way.) I had the same feeling I got going to Old Busch to watch a baseball game when I was five. We're talking Jack Clark, Willie McGee, Cardinals can do no wrong, happy dance type feelings.

Santi Ezquerro zips down the touchline

And the best part was, I didn't have to sell my soul for the tickets. Since it was an early round Copa del Rey game, tickets were 20€. For the clasico, our seats were 190€ if you didn't get them from a scalper. You have to go and do this!


video
Barça in action!

¿Cómo se dice "Hungry Hungry"?



Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year's, Blind Nil Style

note the stylish new Barça robe

What's up, 2008? We rang you in in style here in the BCN, watching fireworks from our balcony (Three and a half different displays! Tibidabo, Plaça Espanya, the beach, and some flares from a cruise ship) while eating our New Year's grapes. Apparently, the thing to do in Catalunya is to eat one grape for each chime of midnight on New Year's. Since there's a church in the plaça we live in, we rocked the uvas del año nuevo.

Today consisted of brunch at the hotel (Susie's parents are visiting), a chat with the family in St. Louis, and spades & cava. I caught some flak from my partner/mother-in-law for bidding nil early in the game, but redeemed myself by going blind nil on the last hand and picking it up for 250 points.

Tomorrow promises to be exciting, cause Ron and I are GOING TO THE BARÇA GAME!! Yes, I saw them at Espanyol for my birthday, but this is at the Camp Nou. Oh, and speaking of Espanyol, we're also going to the Espanyol vs. Villareal game on Saturday night. I call it a good week when one of the football matches you were looking forward to gets canceled* and you still get to go to two matches.

More later!

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*Old Firm got called off out of respect for the death of Motherwell's Phil O'Donnell, who died of a heart attack on the pitch last Sunday. O'Donnell played five seasons for Celtic.
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