Today on the evening news here in Houston, there was a poll question for the audience to answer: "Do you think that President Obama should be broadcasting a speech directed at schoolchildren?" Since I am in Texas, you will be unsurprised that 64% of respondents disagreed with the President's decision. What may surprise you is that I happen to agree with them.
My objection is not because I am afraid that the President is going to be indoctrinating my non-existent kids with socialist propaganda. But, on the other hand, it kind of is. It's not the socialist propaganda that bothers me (socialism FTW!!) but the propaganda part. For a guy who has a problem with his enemies calling him the Dear Leader and comparing him to Hitler, as ridiculous as that all is, this, uh, seems like the kind of thing the Dear Leader would do, doesn't it?
Unless all this talk of "teaching the importance of education" is just a ruse, and he instead spends 20 minutes reading from My Pet Goat. That would be the greatest thing ever.
I think this graph, from a Research 2000 poll commissioned by Kos speaks for itself. The question's exact wording was: "Do you believe that Barack Obama was born in the United States of America or not?" No polling tricks, just a simple yes/no/unsure. Obviously part of this is a partisan split, but there's an almost equal divide between the South (47 yes to 53 no/unsure) and everyone else (closer to 90/10) than Democrats (93/7) and Republicans (42/58).
Houston Mayor Bill White is so white, his name is actually White. So does somebody want to tell me who thought it would be a good idea to make him the cream in an Obama/MLK Oreo?
Sorry about the horrible image quality but it was the best one I could find. I couldn't use the one from the newspaper in the office because I spit my coffee out all over it when I saw this. In case you can't read it, the caption above the world's most awkward Mt. Rushmore is "The Dream, The Hope, The Change."
It gets better. This ad was run in a local African-American newspaper, The Defender. The ad was also designed by staff at The Defender. The intent of the ad is to promote Mayor White and his run for the US Senate.
From what I have learned in my short time in Houston, Mayor White is actually a good guy. He's also a Democrat running for a Senate seat in Texas, so I understand he's going to need the African American community to come out and vote for him. But seriously, guy: you might as well have done this ad in blackface.
As far as I know, the clip I need does not exist on the Internet. So, you will have to do with a description instead. In an episode that begins with a bear roaming the streets of Springfield, the townspeople demand that the mayor institute a wide-reaching bear patrol that includes vans and helicopters.
Homer: Not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol must be working like a charm. Lisa: That's specious reasoning, Dad. Homer: Thank you, dear. Lisa: By your logic I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away. Homer: Oh, how does it work? Lisa: It doesn't work. Homer: Uh-huh. Lisa: It's just a stupid rock. Homer: Uh-huh. Lisa: But I don't see any tigers around, do you? [Homer thinks about it, then pulls out some money] Homer: Lisa, I want to buy your rock.
Now imagine that Homer was later mauled by a tiger. Would this be proof that the rock did not work, or proof that the rock was in fact more vital than ever? And what the hell am I bringing up a 10-year-old Simpson episode for?
Replace "rock" with "Guantanamo Bay" and "tiger" with "terrorists" and you pretty much have this story.
"The emergence of a former Guantánamo Bay detainee as the deputy leader of Al Qaeda's Yemeni branch has underscored the potential complications in carrying out the executive order President Obama signed Thursday that the detention center be shut down within a year."
Despite all the torture and various and sundry shady activities of the last 8 years, we managed to capture and release this guy. So instead of meaning that the anti-terror policies of the Bush administration were failures, it means we actually need to continue them?
After thanking President Bush "for his service to our nation," Mr.
Obama executed a high-level version of Stephen Colbert's
share-the-stage smackdown of W. at the White House correspondents'
dinner in 2006.
With W. looking on, and probably gradually
realizing with irritation, as he did with Colbert, who Mr. Obama's
target was -- (Is he talking about me? Is 44 saying I messed everything
up?) -- the newly minted president let him have it:
"As for our
common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and
our ideals," he said to wild applause (and to Bartlett's), adding:
"Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for
expedience's sake." He said America is choosing hope over fear, unity
over discord, setting aside "false promises" and "childish things."
If only the Democrats had been so bold when they actually had some power to stop him...
RUSH: "My hope, and please understand me
when I say this. I disagree fervently with the people on our side of
the aisle who have caved and who say, "Well, I hope [Obama] succeeds. We've
got to give him a chance." [...] I know what his
politics are. I know what his plans are, as he has stated them. I
don't want them to succeed.
I wanted Obama to succeed, I'd be happy the Republicans have laid
down. [...] I do not want the government in charge of all of these things. I
don't want this to work. [...] I hope he fails."
Yes, yes, Rush Limbaugh is a loudmouth and a fathead and yadda yadda yadda. But his candor in this case is helpful in illuminating an important point. At this point in my life it would be fair to label me as a Democrat. Does that mean that I hope Republicans fail? Was I hoping for George Bush to fail? Of course not. Hoping for the failure of our elected leadership, whatever their party, is foolishness. Are you, Republicans, really secretly hoping for Obama to fail? What? The? Fuck?
That's a whole lotta OJ. In fact, if it weren't for people questioning the authenticity of Barack Obama's birth certificate, the whole top 100 might be OJ.
The saddest thing? Numbers 1, 7, 8, 29, 38, and 88 are all searches by people trying to find out what concurrent means. Well, that and the fact that he killed his wife. Those two things are both very sad - you might say that they are sad CONCURRENTLY.
Watching the election last night, it became clear very early that things were going to go well for Barack Obama. The only holdout was the Suze. She refused to believe that it was possible that he would win. "Remember how we thought Kerry was going to win? Remember how that felt? REMEMBER?!?" she said at least half a dozen times. Each time a critical new state was called for Obama - Pennyslvania, Ohio, Michigan - Suzi would tell us not to count our chickens before they hatched. Actually, that's what she said the first couple of times. By the end of the night, she just stuck her finger out at me and Kevin and cried, "Chickens! CHICKENS!!"
After watching video and seeing pictures of some of the celebrations that took place after Obama's victory last night, I know exactly how she felt. He's been elected, yes. But that was the easy part. Now for the hard part: delivering on all the promise and hope that people have invested in him. And the only thing more historically significant than our election of the first black president is how historically fucked up our country is at this moment.
The election is only the first part. Obama and this country have a long way to go. Chickens! CHICKENS!!
Side note: I promise that ObscureCraft will get back to covering non-election related topics by the end of this week. But right now its all I can think about. I'm like a kid on Christmas Eve, except I'm terrified that instead of a puppy, I'm going to open a box and find a severed puppy head like Brad Pitt in Seven. The only way I can deal with my nerves is to blog. So expect about 100 more posts like this over the next 48 hours until I calm down.
I know it must be startling to you regular reader(s?) to hear that, but it is true. Although, I think that isn't really the proper way to put it. I didn't vote for Barack Obama because I think he is a transformational figure who will change the way Washington does things and usher in a new era of enlightenment and understanding and end racism and defeat the Nazis and yadda yadda yadda. I didn't really vote for Barack Obama so much as I voted against the Republican Party.
The Democrats could have run a ticket of Teri Schiavo and Beaker from the Muppets and I would have voted Schiavo/Beaker '08. It doesn't matter to me if Obama's pastor hates America, or if he and domestic terrorist William Ayers are BFFs, or if he's a secret Muslim or a socialist. The Republican Party needs to be removed from power. The actions (inactions?) and incompetence of the last eight years needs to be repudiated.
In the comments of my "Obamaganda!" entry, Undecided Man writes:
While I'm a big fan of David Sedaris, he (like most voters whose voting
pattern was pre-determined years or decades before the current
candidates were nominated) confuses thinking about the important issue
of who to vote for (which many undecideds are doing) with not thinking
about it (which, by definition, most decideds have stopped doing). My
reply to Mr. Sedaris can be found at http://www.undecidedman.com under "Naivete".
Okay, I'll bite.
To start, Sedaris is making less a point about being undecided in general than he is making a (highly partisan) point about being undecided in THIS particular election: in his (and my) view, the choice is either chicken, or a shit sandwich with bits of glass in it. Sure, maybe chicken isn't your thing, you prefer steak, or you are a vegetarian... but you aren't actually going to eat the shit sandwich, are you?
And okay, Undecided Man, you don't agree. John McCain isn't actually a shit sandwich, and Sarah Palin isn't actually little bits of glass that have been embedded in the shit sandwich. But the election is in... (does some quick math) ...13 days. Less than two weeks. In fact, you can vote right now in many places - I plan on casting my vote this Saturday at one of the early polling places here in Houston. If not decided now, then when? What exactly are you waiting for? What bit of information do you feel is lacking to make the decision?
You talk about your "decision to be undecided" as thinking about the issue. But being a decided voter at this point in the election cycle does not necessarily mean that you are choosing to vote based on a decision that was made "months or years" ago either.
John McCain has been the Republican nominee since February 5th, after he won the Super Tuesday primaries. Barack Obama has been the Democratic nominee the end of the primary calendar on June 3rd.
Going back even further, Barack Obama announced his candidacy for president on May 2nd, 2007. John McCain announced even earlier than that - March 1st, 2007. For all intents and purposes, these men have been campaigning for over 18 months. You need another 13 days? Really?
I decided that I needed to start buying lefty propoganda stickers for my electric bike, in case I didn't look like enough of a whack-job already on the way to work. (PS: I hope to have some pictures of me on this thing soon). I did a quick internet search for "Obama stickers" and one of the first images to come up was this:
Well, now that I know there are Obama stickers out there featuring bare-breasted women and unicorns, I can no longer settle for anything less than the finest Obamaganda sticker for my electric bike. So, I present the first ever ObscureCraft.net Photoshop Challenge!
The winning entry will meet the following criteria:
- The image fits on one of the standard CafePress sticker sizes (from 3" circle up to bumper-sticker sized) - Feature either the word "Barack" or "Obama" somewhere on it
That's it. The rest is up to your imagination. And guess what? There's a prize! The winning entry will be added to the ObscureStore on CafePress. The winner will also receive a free copy of the sticker AND a complementary Katrina & the Hurricanes refrigerator magnet, and I will put the winning sticker on my bike and take pictures.
In case you didn't know, Saturday is my birthday. Didn't know what to get me for my birthday? Now you know: I want Obamaganda!
Once in awhile, I come across an idea that seems so obvious, so plain, and so in tune with how I think, I can only shake my fists at the sky in fury. That idea should have been mine!
Although it is hardly alone on the internet, this is the best website documenting all the things that are younger than presidential candidate John McCain. Some of the things I was genuinely surprised to find are younger than John McCain? The microwave oven, zip codes, and penicillin.
But chronicling items younger than John McCain is nothing compared to what the sick twisted mind at this website is up to. I Miss My Mommy is a blog ostensibly written in the first person by Trig Palin, the Downs Syndrome afflicted newborn of vice-presidential candidate/Miss Wassilla 1984 winner Sarah Palin. Almost as amusing as Trig Palin wistfully lamenting why his mommy left him ("Cause I'm a librul [...] Mommy haytes libruls") are the comments from readers enraged by the existence of the site itself. Some of my favorite comments:
"I have 3 members of my Family that have learning issues, you make me sick!"
"You, the moron behind this blog, get a life. If you can't do that, go masturbate at pictures of Michelle Obamanation or Barbara Streisand or Maria Cantwell." [How do you masturbate at pictur... wait, never mind.]
"Just to let you know, I've flagged this blog as offensive and this
little liberal sewer is getting eviscerated on Digg, where I've also
advocated everyone to flag this blog. It honestly doesn't surprise me
to read such crudity coming from the minds of the Left. Not anymore." [Eviscerated on Digg? Heavens no!]
I would die of happiness if I could get anyone to comment on my blog with that kind of vitriol. Seriously. Somebody post here and tell me how much I have offended them.
And finally, since we here at ObscureCraft want to follow in the steps of MSNBC and try to shed our liberal bias, I give you my favorite Obama site. Here to mock his idolization by his followers that is completely out of proportion with anything he has actually done for the country so far: BOIYNB.
Before watching Obama's speech last night, I was on the phone with my mom. My mom does not like Barack. She is not a Barack supporter. She is one of those Hillary supporter's you hear about that don't want to vote for Barack for some crazy reason or another. "He's an empty suit," she says. "Change? What does that mean? It's all empty rhetoric," she says. "No, it's not because I'm a bitter, bitter woman," she says.
I think Obama might have overheard our conversation, because about halfway through his speech, he said this: "So let me spell out exactly what that change would mean if I am President."
He then proceeded to run down a laundry list of specific policy positions that embody his idea of "Change." Because I am an obsessive one-issue voter, I zoned in on this part of the speech:
"[I]n ten years, we will
finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East."
More empty rhetoric, or actually possible?
Let's look carefully at what he said. He is not promising to eliminate our dependence on oil, or even our dependence on foreign oil. He is specifically pledging to eliminate oil imports from the Middle East.
(Quick aside: I suspect in the next day or so we'll see a clarification that says he wants to eliminate oil consumption equal to that of current Middle East import levels, as opposed to any type of import embargo from these countries. Stay tuned.)
"Last year, the United States imported about 10 million barrels of oil a day, of which about 20 percent came from the Persian Gulf states."
To eliminate Middle East oil imports, we would need to reduce imports by 2 million barrels of oil every day. Guess what? We don't need any new untested technology, or to all buy electric cars, or to start bike commuting. This is completely achievable through increased fuel efficiency standards alone.
The average American uses 500 gallons of gas every year to travel 12000 miles, or an average of 24 miles per gallon. A reduction of 2 million barrels a day, at 42 gallons per barrel, translates into a per-American reduction of about 110 gallons. 390 gallons to travel those same 12000 miles yields a fuel efficiency of 31 miles per gallon.
Obama could have said, "In 10 years, we will end our dependence on oil." Period. Al Gore said something similar recently (he actually called for an end to dependence on all fossil fuels, not just oil). That is an honorable goal, and a desirable goal, but in the real world, it does not appear to be an achievable goal.
In fact, here is someone saying that he set the bar too low. Here's another that says he set the bar too high. That makes me think he got it just right.
Obama sez: Drilling = fail, keeps ur tires inflated for gas savings bonanza! McCain sez: LOL, what a joke, drilling FTW!
So, is Obama out of his mind? Can proper tire inflation really save as much oil as we could get from all the proposed offshore drilling?
Recall from the previous Word Problems article you most likely didn't read that, at peak production (which would be anywhere from 10-20 years from now under any reasonable scenario), drilling from both the offshore sites and ANWR would pump about 2 million barrels of oil into the market every day against the 20 million barrels we use.
Now we have our benchmark, time for the hard part: how much oil could we really save with proper tire inflation and regular tune-ups?
This isn't research I'm prepared to do. Thankfully, the good folks over at the Department of Energy have done it for us on this website:
Properly inflating your tires is good for an additional 3% on your vehicle's fuel efficiency. A properly tuned engine is good for another 4%. A clogged air filter could be a 10% hit. And even the wrong motor oil can give you a 2% improvement.
Taken together, these car maintenance conservation techniques could save a worst-case driver 15%. Here, I'll throw a dart at a dartboard and call it at 5% improvement for the average driver.
The savings from tire gauges and car maintenance is slightly smaller than the 10% increase in available oil from the potential drilling, with one little caveat. Inflate your tires now, and you get the savings now. Start drilling right here, right now, and the savings don't start for a decade.
(Can we pause here so I can laugh at the spectacle of politicians insisting that Congress return from vacation to vote on drilling? Yeah, that 5 weeks is really going to make a difference moving forward with an energy plan that has a 10-20 year lead time. Does this bullshit really fool people?)
Unfortunately, it looks like this oil drilling talk is starting to take hold. According to recent surveys, 70% of Americans are in favor of more drilling. While I don't think it will solve any problems, and may result in an environmental disaster in the Gulf and/or the Alaskan wildlife refuge, that really is an environmental question, not an energy question.
Looking at it through the prism of achieving energy sustainability, and putting aside any environmental concerns: I say let 'em drill. Drill to your hearts content, motherfuckers. Drill in the Gulf, drill in ANWR, drill for oil in Teddy Roosevelt's head if you think it's there. Because, eventually, there won't be anymore places to drill for oil in, no more magic beans that would solve everything if mean old Nancy Pelosi would just let the American people have them. The excuses will run out, and the price of gas will be as high as ever. And then maybe, just maybe, we'll be able to make some progress, instead of this childish horseshit.
I know I'm late to the party having anything to say about this, and it's likely that everybody has already forgotten this thing existed. Before this issue of The New Yorker even came out, the news cycle consumed, digested, and spat the cover out:
"OMG, this cover is soo offensive!"
"No, dude, it's totally satire. Don't you get it?"
"Yeah, man, I get it, I'm totally hip and everything, but what about all those squares out there that won't?"
"Dude, that's totally condescending and stuff. Why you gotta be like that?"
"Man, fuck it. Look, Angelina had her babies!"
Unfortunately, it took me a couple of days to actually come to terms with what exactly was bothering me about the cover (I have a job and other things to worry about, sorry). Because I was one of those people who did not like the cover when I saw it. It just took me a few days to find the words to explain why.
This cover is good satire, but sure, I also happen to think these guys are shitheads. But I don't think it's my lefty liberal commie bias that leaves me disliking the new cover.
Same guy, but this works for me. (By the way, if we're electing presidents based on who handles a crisis best in the middle of the night, then Frankie the dog for president!)
So, what is difference between these pictures as the Obama one? The subject of the satire is in the image. With the Obama cover, the satire is not targeted at the subjects, but instead at the reader - or more specifically, the readers who think this is an accurate depiction. But if you think this is an accurate depiction, then how is it satire? And if the satire can only effectively speak to those that already agree with you, then what is the point?
It occurs to me that the "Word Problems" feature may seem as a way for me to apply my lefty-leaning politics to current issues under the guise of objectiveness, Sophie cheating at battleship notwithstanding. If it appears that way to you, might I suggest: my choice of topic certainly comes out of my tree-hugging commie bias, but numbers be what they be, motherfucker.
So: should we get drillin'?
Guidance from our politicians on this issue is shaky at best. Bush has been pro-drilling for about as long as he's been the son of an oil-millionaire - difficult to accept his opinion on face value, even if he wasn't, you know... stupid.
(Quick aside: I don't think Frank Caliendo is funny, but isn't it amazing that DirecTV is actually using his impression of the president as a fool who is astonished by the functioning of a television remote as a way of promoting their product? Has anything ever happened like that before with a sitting president?)
(Jesus Christ. 2 terms, people. Anyway, where was I...)
So instead of looking to the current pres for guidance, let's look at the stances of the two politicians looking to replace him. John McCain was long an opponent of offshore drilling, but has recently changed his stance to pro-drilling. However, as you heard here first, McCain has recently been dried and hollowed out so that George Bush can crawl inside and control his actions like the alien in the first Men In Black movie. So, we can't trust him.
Obama is anti-drilling, but, as a secret Muslim, he would obviously take that stance since increased oil production stateside would interfere with the operations of his Arab overlords. Can't trust him, either.
No choice - we have to go to the numbers. (Note: if you don't actually want to see the numbers, just skip to the end. Srs bizness!!)
Unless you are an oil company executive, your decision on a pro/anti drilling stance should be made on whether or not you think taking these actions will help bring down the price at the pump. Let's break it down: the question of "should we drill offshore and in the Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR)" becomes "how much more oil will we get, how much will that bring down the cost of oil, and how much does the price of oil affect the price of gasoline?"
How much more oil will we get?
In the ANWR, about 10.5 billion barrels. Peak oil production would be 800,000-900,000 barrels a day... sometime after 2020.
Offshore, about 16 billion barrels would be opened up. Peak production would be on a similar scale and timeframe.
How much will that bring down the cost of oil?
I'm not an economist, and I don't feel like building a supply-demand curve to figure this out the right way. So, I'm going to fudge a little bit.
The US currently consumes 20 million barrels of oil every day, give or take. Let's give the ANWR and offshore fields the benefit of the doubt, and say we'll get a total of 2 million barrels of oil every day, once they hit peak production - this will happen many years from now, but, again, I'm going to make this simple, so let's assume it happened right now, today. Oil costs $140 per barrel. If there was an extra 2 million barrels on the market, let's say this drops the price of oil by 10%.
How much does the price of oil affect the price of gasoline?
Why, that is an excellent question. Thank you for bringing it up!
To determine this, we will explore some historical prices. Let's look at the national average price of both oil and gasoline today, 5 years ago, and 10 years ago. (Costs are per barrel/per gallon)
2008: $140/$4.12 2003: $28/$1.78 1998: $12/$1.17
From 98-03, oil went up by a factor of 2.3, while gas prices went up by a factor of 1.5. From 98-08, oil went up by a factor of 11.7, while gas only went up by a factor of 3.5.
On other words: the price of oil goes up much faster than the price of gasoline. Whaaa? That's right: there are other factors in the price of gasoline other than how much the oil costs. A 10% reduction in oil cost does NOT translate into a 10% reduction in gasoline costs. Refinery costs and capacity make up a very large part of the cost of a gallon of gasoline (that is why after Hurricane Katrina, gasoline prices spiked dramatically - refining capacity nationwide was hit hard by the storm, in addition to some black people.)
From a typical barrel of oil, depending on the refining process used, you get 20 gallons of gasoline (the rest of the oil goes to make jet fuel, heating oil, and the salve Dick Cheney soaks in every night to stay alive). At $140 per 42-gallon barrel, oil costs $3.33 per gallon. Reducing the cost of oil by 10% would result in a per gallon of oil savings of about 33 cents per gallon.
If the ANWR and the Gulf Coast fields were at full capacity today, we'd save something like 30-40 cents on every gallon of gasoline. Of course, full capacity won't be reached for 10 years at the earliest - who knows how high the price of gasoline will be by then. 30-40 cents will be a drop in the bucket against $6-7 per gallon.
At $140 per barrel, though, there is money to be made. Offshore drilling becomes profitable at about $60 per barrel. With a profit of $80 per barrel, the oil in the Gulf alone is worth $1.2 trillion dollars.
Like I said, the choice of whether to drill is up to you. Just know what you are getting out of it (30-40 cents off a gallon of gasoline), and what the cost might be.
Much ado about the venerable Reverend Jackson and his not quite fit for the pulpit declaration that Barack Obama talks down to black people and that the Rev wants to cut his nuts off. This statement was, naturally, accompanied by a snip-snip motion.
Come on, do you expect me to believe that Jackson, who has spent his entire adult life speaking into a micro- or megaphone, doesn't know when his words are being recorded? Surely the Rev doesn't actually believe that telling black men they should stop fathering and abandoning out of wedlock children is a bad thing (although it may have hit a little close to home).
No, he knew exactly what he was doing. Jesse Jackson hating Obama can't do anything but make him a more attractive candidate to general election voters. "Oh no, Obama is a scary secret Muslim, I'm gonna vote for the dried out husk of John McCain that George W. Bush has hollowed out and climbed inside of. Wait, what? Jesse Jackson doesn't like Obama? Well, that changes everything... maybe he isn't so bad after all..."
Let me be the first to stand up and applaud the Reverend Jackson for helping the cause of Obama for Pres by putting the considerable heft of his reputation as a hypocritical blowhard to work.