Saturday, August 23, 2008

Must be in the front row!

VTK would like to congratulate self-deprecating baseball funny man Bob Uecker on his promotion to the front row of the Obama presidential ticket -- what's that? not him?

My bad. Congratulations to the anything-but-self-deprecating regular joe, Joe Biden on getting the VP nod. All things considered, I think this is a good pick. Whether I'm right about that remains to be seen (after all, I thought John Edwards was a good pick and he failed miserably in what I thought his main job was - destroying the loathesome Cheney in the VP debate). But it seems like a smart pick by Barry O.

Just Joe, Regular Joe, Joe Six Pack. According to CNN, Biden is the poorest member of the Senate, putting him in prime, non-elitist position to criticize sept-home-owner John McCain as being out of touch with non-wealthy Americans. He did just that in his first speech on the ticket when he deftly identified himself with the American people who talk about issues and problems around the kitchen table - something that he said would be difficult for McCain because he'd first have to pick one of his seven kitchen tables. Good shot. Biden likes to accentuate his Irish-Catholic Scranton background, talks like a "regular guy", fights for the common man. He may not actually be "the common man" (he went from law school to practicing law to being a county councilor to joining the US Senate), but he pulls it off successfully. Biden's a guy who appeals to moderate Republican, "regular", beer drinking, white guys in addition to "regular", beer drinking, blue collar, union white guys, both demographics that aren't exactly in Obama's wheelhouse. So, beer-drinking white guys - yes. Clinton voting women (beer-drinking or otherwise) who are still angry over the primary? Remains to be seen. Could be a problem.

Biden's also the quintessential attack dog vice presidential candidate.

Time and again, and to the distaste of some, he's shown his willingness to go after people across the aisle. He's also not been shy with witnesses and nominees in his time on Senate Committees. He's currently the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which will shore up Obama's supposed weak spot in his lack of foreign policy experience (don't recall W having much - any - experience). He also spent several years as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He remained on the committee after his chairmanship and during his questioning of Chief Justice Roberts, he referred to him as "man". As in "C'mon man, are we supposed to believe that?" There's your regular guy attack dog right there.

On the downside, he's on recent record as saying that Obama was unfit to lead. He also voted for the Iraq War and has been a Washington guy for thirty five years - both things that don't mesh with Obama's anti-Iraq-War and change messages. And then there's the allegations of plagiarism (in law school and again later in a political speech). Republicans will remind us of this and the phrasings that Deval Patrick lent to Obama.

According to this breakdown from the National Journal, Biden's long voting record ranks him in the center of the liberal-conservative spectrum amongst Democrats:

Joe Biden's voting record has generally placed him among the center of Senate Democrats ideologically in National Journal's annual congressional vote ratings, with some decided peaks and valleys. Biden entered a strong liberal phase between 1986 and 1992, when he was among the 11 most-liberal senators three times. Not coincidentally, perhaps, Biden ran for president in 1988, and he presided as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee during some epic showdowns with Republican presidents. Biden's most liberal year in the ratings was 2007, when he again ran in the Democratic presidential primary. His composite liberal score of 94.2 placed him as the 3rd most-liberal senator in 2007, two ticks behind Barack Obama, who was the most liberal senator last year with a score of 95.5. In other years, Biden has been more of a centrist. Four times from 1993 to 1998 his composite liberal score fell to the 60s--most notably in 1997, when only three of the 45 Democratic senators had a more conservative rating. More recently, Biden has generally fit near the center of Senate Democrats.

(I'd give you McCain's score, but apparently he didn't vote enough to receive a composite score.)

And now on to the convention. I'm going to consider this an open thread for the week's political goings-on. Enjoy the show and comment if you like.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Deano's Double

Ten minutes into the Premier League season, Dean Ashton had made his presence felt - twice. West Ham United's 24 year old striker pumped up the bubble-blowing faithful at Upton Park 3 minutes into the season by scoring the Hammers' first goal, and then sent them into a frenzy 7 minutes later by scoring their second. What a start. I can only imagine what it must have felt like in the stadium when the lofty optimism he'd launched was abruptly grounded by the sight of him limping off the field in the second half. With Ljundberg having been released (probably because of age and recurring injuries) and Bellamy and Dyer sidelined with injuries, much of East London's hopes rest on the performance of Deano and Julien Faubert. Both have been injured for the majority of their brief tenures at West Ham, so to see Ashton limp out of a season opener that was still 2-1 at the time must have been pretty brutal. (On a personal level, the exit cost him a chance to get another cap with the England national team.) Fortunately, an MRI scan has confirmed that it was just a cramp and not something more serious. He'll be back in action Sunday at Manchester City. If there's any hope for the Hammer's season, we'll need Deano to stay on his feet.

Here's a look at the healthy Deano in action:

I don't have much for you in terms of a West Ham season preview. In addition to the aforementioned names, the roster will include most of the same names from last year, Zamora and Pantsil excluded, a few rookies and a couple international signings included. Look for solid play from youngsters Kyel Reid, Fred Sears, and James Tomkins and from Swiss defender Behrami, freshly signed from Lazio. Management is intent on cutting payroll so there may be a couple transfers out and probably won't be much coming in, intriguing Saha rumors notwithstanding. My hope is that a healthy Hammers squad will challenge to remain in the top half of the table.

Nor do I have much of an EPL season preview. (Can you throw down a "nor" clause to start a paragraph, referencing the first sentence of the previous paragraph? Doubtful.) I expect the Big Four to finish 1-2-3-4, probably Man U, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal. Sorry Fuge, but the other 3 made themselves better, while the Gunners gave up my boy Hleb, Flamini, and Gilberto, and haven't replaced them with equal talent (to my knowledge).

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Harringtons Rule Detroit

Atta Boy Paddy Boy! VTK relative Padraig Harrington became the first ever Irishman to win the PGA Championship (first European in 78 years) He did it in dramatic fashion by nailing 3 consecutive +10 foot putts to punctuate a back-nine 32 for a 66, two strokes better than the leader on the 16th hole, Sergio Garcia. Spain's won enough this year. Plus, Garcia's a prick. Erin go bragh! I tuned in in time to watch him knock down a wicked bender of a 12 foot putt to pull even with Sergio Segundo on the 16th. Then he followed up a great drive on the 17th with a 10 foot birdie to put the pressure on the Spitting Spaniard who dutifully choked. Then he closed it out by coolly dropping a 15 footer on 18 to win his second consecutive major, third in a little over a year, and first PGA Championship. And he did it on a golf course near Detroit, where his Harrington relatives have been ruling for nearly a century. Just look at how much we ruled at a recent Harrington wedding:

Friday, August 01, 2008

Get Your War On - Animated

Everyone probably remembers Get Your War On, the (scurrilous?) minimalist, satirical cartoons from David Rees. Well, now he's gone animated. Thanks to The Practical Slacker for the heads-up. Check it out:

shit. I tried to embed the video from 23/6 but it took up much of the vtk screen. I'm nothing if not a stickler for aesthetics. You'll just have to go to the site to see it.

For additional giggles, check out his older cartoon, My New Fighting Technique Is Unstoppable.