Tuesday, September 30, 2008

This is What Presidential Leadership Looks Like

Barack Obama calls on Democrats and Americans to support a Wall Street rescue plan:

"This is no longer just a Wall Street crisis. It's an American crisis, and it's the American economy that needs this rescue plan," Obama told about 12,000 people at a rally at the University of Nevada at Reno.

Obama said Congress should put aside politics - he didn't mention GOP rival John McCain by name during his remarks - and should act quickly on the legislation.

"To the Democrats and Republicans who opposed this plan yesterday, I say: Step up to the plate and do what's right for this country," he said. "And to all Americans, I say this: If I am president of the United States, this rescue plan will not be the end of what we do to strengthen this economy. It will only be the beginning."

I wanted to post the McCain camp's response, but Windows Explorer is causing trouble, as usual. Let's just say it involves McCain's people using the words "levee" and "break." Just the words that come to mind whenever I think of McCain and Bush. Thanks for reminding us stupid.

Who Ya Gonna Believe, Me or Your Lying Eyes?

Newt Gingrich throws a series of hissy fits and tantrums, declaring he never pushed Republicans to oppose the Paulson bailout bill. Which is exactly what he was doing last week when he publicly called on McCain to oppose the bill.

These Republicans really do think you are that stupid:

"If the latter happens," Gingrich continued, "I think you will see the emergence overnight of a 'McCain Reform Wing of the Republican Party' and you'll see House
and Senate members siding with McCain by overwhelming margins and then you'll be
in a very different political environment. You'll have 'Bush-Obama ads' on the one side and 'taking on the Bush-Obama establishment' on the other side, and that will be, frankly, one of the more amazing elections."

GOP Playing "Lucy" Football

I can't tell you how much it worries me to know that the Republicans will still be in charge of running this country for the next four months. They've shown nothing but outright contempt for the American public all throughout this rotten McCain campaign, the Sarah Palin debacle, last Friday's debate, and especially during the Wall Street crisis of the past week.

This has got to be the most cynical trick of all. While the Democratic leadership was negotiating with the Republican leadership on bringing the $700 billion Paulson bill to a vote, the Republicans already had their attack ads ready, blaming the bill's passage on the Dems.

It's classic "Lucy" football, where Charlie Brown gets the ball whisked away from him at the last minute. Make overtures to bipartanship, bring Democrats on board for unpopular, controversial bill, then when the bill passes into law, beat those Dems mercilessly as "big government spenders." Now the same Republican Party that caused this financial crisis, and whose President and Treasury Secretary aggressively pushed the bailout plan, can sell themselves as the outsiders.

It's so unbelievably reckless that the GOP would play politics at a time like this. Those of us who have watched Bush closely all these years have come to expect this behavior, but even now, with the American financial system at risk of collapse, it's deeply shocking. Everything is just a game to these Republicans. There is no policy, there is no governing. It's all about looting the Treasury and playing cynical political games. It's all about the pundit deathmatch on cable tv.

Only one thing happened. The Paulson bill failed the vote in the House. Oops.

Hey, didn't John McCain "suspend" his campaign so he could single-handily broker a deal and get this rescue bill passed? Wasn't he supposed to get his own party to toe the line? You know, support their own President's bill? What happened to that? McCain sure liked to claim credit for the bill's passage, right up to the minute House Republicans killed it.

By then, the GOP attack ads were already airing in several markets. Blaming Obama and the Democrats for passing the $700b Wall Street bailout. The Bush-Paulson Wall Street bill. Which was killed by Republicans in the House. Then the Dow dropped nearly 800 points.

I hear that Newt Gengrich was pushing hard for Republicans to vote down the Paulson bill. Which he then turned around and supported. Word is he's eyeing a run for President in 2012.

Yay! Sleep! That's Where I'm a Pirate!

Ha ha ha ha ha! Aww, good for you, Ralph. What a baffoon. This is the single worst political candidate I've ever seen in my life. More priceless dialog from Palin's series of interviews with CBS' Katie Couric:

Oh no, it's nothing negative at all. He's got a lot of experience and just stating the fact there, that we've been hearing his speeches for all these years. So he's got a tremendous amount of experience and, you know, I'm the new energy, the new face, the new ideas and he's got the experience based on many many years in the Senate and voters are gonna have a choice there of what it is that they want in these next four years.

Me Fail English? That's Unpossible!

Okay, now I'm starting to think that Sarah Palin is Tiny Fey, and the whole VP candidacy is one massive practical joke. No politician can possibly be this stupid. This is the closest I've ever seen to a real-life Ralph Wiggum.

God help you if this woman ever gets into the White House.

Markets Bounce Back Today

But don't assume we're in the clear. Far from it. Today was just the "dead cat bounce" that often results the day after a major sell-off. The long-term problems with the world's financial systems are still here, and the crisis in credit will only get worse as long as banks are too spooked to lend out money. If they become convinced to shut off the valve, life will become very difficult very quickly.

While I'm against the Paulson bailout bill, I still insist that serious action must be taken and taken quickly. We need a better bill, a more progressive bill, one that gets at the root of our problems. Will that happen in our current political environment? Will the Dems grow a spine and resiscover the spirit of FDR and the New Deal? Will the GOP scrap any rescue plan that works its way through the Congress? Will McCain suspend his campaign a few more times between now and November? Will Newt Gengrich really try to kill our economy just so he can run for President in 2012?

Who knows? Beats me. This is the toughest poker match I've ever faced. All I know is that we're pretty far from alright. We really are facing the greatest financial crisis since the Depression. We are still in a lot of trouble.

Stephen Bainbridge has more on that. Aw, I sure hope the Twins win tonight. We need some good news.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bush Passes Another Milestone

I didn't notice this earlier, but an interesting milestone nontheless. The Dow closed today at 10, 365.40. The Dow on Bill Clinton's final day in office? 10, 587.59.

Great. Remember, too, kids - the Dow gained 7,000 points during Clinton's tenure. Bush is now in negative territory. Just jolly great.

Worst. Candidate. Ever.

The Paulson Bailout is killed in the House, the stock market has its worst point-drop in its history, and John McCain....blames Barack Obama? Are you freaking kidding me? What a sorry, miserable loser.

This, only hours after trying to take credit for the bailout bill. Typical drama queen. Maybe he'll suspend his campaign again, eh?

Kos - Congress Did the Right Thing

Markos at Daily Kos has been steadfast against the $700b bailout from day one, and he's always remained cool and level-headed through everything. He's just the sort I need to listen to, since I tend to be, well, a little more passionate. I am trying to do better, though :)

Anyway, Kos says Congress did the right thing in killing this bailout bill. There are many problems with it, not the least was the blinding speed this issue was thrust upon us. For those of us weary of the Bush years, it just smacked of Iraq all over again. And torture. And FISA. These Republicans love to play these games to bum-rush their agenda onto our laps.

So perhaps we'll have better chances with a clean bill and some fresh ideas. Kos is confident we'll get there. I do hope so. My only prayer at this point is that the hole in the Titanic is small enough that we'll still be afloat when President Obama takes office on January 20*. Let's cross out fingers and get back to work, kids.

(*Please don't pretend to tell me this race will still be close. It's over, and Obama is about to win big. Count on it.)

Dow Jones - 777.68; NASDAQ - 199.61; S&P 500 - 106.85

Very bad day on Wall Street. The $700b bailout bill collapsed in the House, and the markets are reacting with near panic. This is a very bad situation, very bad.

The Dow Jones fell 6.98%, or 777.68 points. NASDAQ fell 9.14%, or 199.61 points. S&P 500 fell 8.81%, or 106.85 points. I'm taking these numbers from the front page at CNBC, so feel free to visit there for answers.

Like most of you, I've had serious misgivings about the bailout proposal moving through Congress. The original Bush/Paulson proposal was a disaster, closer to a bank robbery than an economic rescue. I wouldn't trust these monsters with making toast. But the Democrats did manage to work many changes to the bill, and at least made it a bit stronger. Still not the best option available, but what else is there?

I don't know what could pass through, given that the House Republicans seem determined to squash anything that goes against their stupid ideology. I don't think they even know how to govern anymore, if they ever did. Everything is politics to the GOP now. Everything is just a damned game. Neither party wanted to pass this $700 bailout. It's deeply unpopular. But what other options are there? I mean, seriously. What great ideas do you have to save this economy from collapse?

The Republicans offer more of the same. More deregulation. More tax cuts. This is exactly what I mean; their obsession with the party mantra and the ideology has completely consumed them. This was the party that brought us into this mess. Now they refuse to do anything to get us out. Maybe they're perfectly happy. After all, they got their wars and their tax cuts. They'll have their attack ads. Is that all that matters to the GOP? At long last, have they no sense of shame?

John McCain's campaign this past month just illustrates this further. Everything is just a game, just politics. There is no policy, no ideas, no clue about what to do. And, like it or not, we're stuck with them in charge for four more months. Four more months of George W. Bush and the GOP. Chew on that while you worry about your 401(k) and your savings.

I don't mean to turn this into a partisan rant or behave childishly. I'm still dazed at the moment. I expected that bailout bill to pass. Didn't like it, but I like the prospect of "nothing" even less. This is the worst possible time for lasseiz-faire politics.

Hopefully, this moment will enable us to try a better idea for rescuing the financial system than Paulson's rediculous bailout. Unfortunately, the better ideas all run left of the dial, purely New Deal-type politics. I don't think the House Republicans will get on board for that; heck, they'll fight even harder to grind the gears to a halt in that event.

I have no idea what will happen next. I'll keep my eyes open to the foreign markets and the Dow futures, which should clue us in to tomorrow's action. Was today's 777-point drop a beginning or an end? If it's the beginning, well, whatever. Nothing much really matters at that point. Hug your children. Plant some flowers. Life is about to become much more difficult very soon.

S&P 500 is Tanking

As of this post, S&P 500 is down 92.64 points, or 7.64%. The Wall Street bailout plan was killed in the house by the Republicans. It's anyone's guess what happens next.

Link here.

The President of Cool

Barack Obama in Oxford, Mississippi, awaiting the start of Friday's Presidential debate.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

NFL 2K2 on Dreamcast

Alright, I've wasted enough of my weekend on this thing. Time for a few official opinions.

I was a fan of Visual Concepts' (now 2K Sports) NFL 2K series. It was the biggest surprise of the Sega Dreamcast on day one, and somehow managed to hold my attention and anyone else's who happened to come by. It's a masterful sports franchise that has always offered a flashier, more fluid, and more immediate game of football than EA's stalwart Madden franchise.

I think it helps greatly that Visual Concepts served as EA's studio for Madden for several years. The relationship fell apart, famously, with the ill-fated Madden '96 on Playstation, which was scrapped after a troubled (but ambitious) production. Thankfully, Sega was wise enough to employ them for their Dreamcast football title. It may have been Sega's smartest move of the Dreamcast era.

NFL 2K was an outstanding, but deeply flawed game. The running game was completely broken. Forget about running anywhere against the defensive line. You were stopped cold, with two or three yards at most. Wouldn't matter which play you ran, inside or outside - you couldn't run the ball. It's a testament to how much fun NFL 2K was that we were so willing to put that aside. Everything else was damned near perfect, and I don't ever recall a previous football game that was so much fun.

NFL 2K1 arrived the next year as Dreamcast's most hotly anticipated title. And it was absolutely spectatcular. We were long since resigned to the fact that each season's Madden would be 95% the old game, with only a couple tweaks here and there (and usually one Bad Idea that would be scrapped the next year - remember the QB "high beams" from last year?). VC would have none of that. They hurled so many changes to NFL 2K1 that it felt like we skipped five seasons at once. Clearly this team spent the entire year figuring out what worked and what didn't.

I think this is the real reason NFL 2K1 is remembered by many as the best in the series. That sense of surprise, of exceeding expectations, was a breath of fresh air. It was a revelation, and I think sports gamers quickly became jaded and expected the same every season. Forget Madden's cynical cash cow scheme. This was now the football game for real sports fans.

It's a damned shame, then, that Sega was forced to retire the Dreamcast in early 2001 and get out of the hardware game. They had a spectacular game system and a roster of modern classics, especially the 2K sports titles. This basically meant that 2K2 would be the "re-orgainizing" season, as the game would have to be ported to PS2 and XBox.

So I think it's easy to understand if NFL 2K2 was forgotten or overlooked by the fans when fall 2001 arrived. The Dreamcast faithful, still feeling bruised, might have clung to 2K1 a little more tightly. That was our last pure game, the last one that was ours alone. Now it has to be shared with all those damned Sony fanboys who bought into the PS2 hype. A lot of us never got over that. As far as I'm concerned, Dreamcast kicks PS2 to the curb.

VC's NFL 2K series would continue, and probably reached its zenith with NFL 2K5. Yes, I'm cranky that late hits were taken out of the game, but by all reasonable standards, it's the best football game ever made. Turns out it was too good, and it was EA's turn to screw over VC the say Sony screwed over Dreamcast. EA bought out all the relevant licenses, ESPN and the NFL, which essentially killed off their better rivals. Now Madden is the only game in town. It's still second fiddle to any of the NFL 2K games.

Which brings us back to NFL 2K2, the final season on Dreamcast. It's very different when you collect games for systems that have died. You don't have to sweat out the idea of gambling $30 or $40 on an untested game, especially a sports sequel when you have last year's perfectly fine version in your hands. It's so much easier seven years later, when the game only costs a couple bucks.

I bought a copy of NFL 2K2 for $1.99, which was a steal. 2K1 cost $3.99, still a bargain, which means nothing is lost if I love one season and hate the other. And, once again, I find myself marveling at VC's obsession with the game. I don't think they've ever made a bad year of 2K. Even last year's great disappointment, All-Pro Football 2K9, may turn out to be another forgotten gem.

I could give the long version, where I offer bullet point after bullet point on the changes, and why this final Dreamcast season was the best of the bunch. Or I could just cut to the chase and tell you it's more than worth the two bucks. For those worried that this was a "Madden sequel," with no real changes to offer, you can relax. There are many changes, though most of them are subtle ones. The end result is a smoother, faster, more realistic game of football.

Pity we can't play online anymore.

The football players have been beefed up, and sport larger polygon counts. This was a bit of a surprise, and a pleasant one at that. They're given more shading and lighting as well, which moves a bit away from the angular look of the first two games, though still not the pudgy slobs you get on Madden. The animation continues to amaze, and it seems hundreds more moves have been introduced on top of everything else. It's amazing, really. I'm surprised that no game reviewers ever pointed this out, but perhaps they dont' play much. Most never do.

Overall, it's a smarter game of football. AI is tougher to crack, cheap plays have been removed, the running game allows for a host of bumbs of grooves, and it becomes a lot harder to tackle those slippery running backs. Just as in real life, as today's sorry Vikings loss shows. The "arcade" tag must've stuck in the designers' sides, because it's clear that the move towards a more realistic simulation began with 2K2.

It's still blazing and immediate in that way that Madden will never be, but it's clear that the cheap arcadey moves are gone, replaced by a more strategic grasp of the game. It's better to play linebacker now and wait for the play to come to you, instead of bashing buttons on the D-line. Offense won't succeed with long bombs and slants; you really need to mix things up, lest the computer-controlled players cut you down. You really need to think a bit more about what you're doing.

I still think NFL 2K2 holds up nicely to the later games in the series, just as Dreamcast holds its own against all the consoles that followed. It hasn't been the cutting edge for many a year, so that ego trip is history. All that's left is the pure game itself. And a lot of close finishes and surprise moments. Oh, how I have missed this game.

Video - Alien Front Online (Dreamcast)

Our look at Dreamcast games continues with this Sega arcade title, which appeared late in the console's short life. This is exactly why Sega was so great at making arcade games - fast, visceral, colorful thrills. There's really no point beyond mayhem and destruction, and endless multiplayer battles. Here is another game you'd wish to see on XBox Live. Enjoy.

Last Hope - New Dreamcast Game?

Can you believe commercial games are still being made for the Sega Dreamcast? It sounds goofy, but there have been a steady trickle of games for the beloved console, ever since Sega was forced to pull the plug in 2001. These newer titles are typically 2D scrolling shooters, and nothing special for anyone beyond the usual fanbase, but it's still a kick to see this decade's best gaming system still alive.

Last Hope is the lastest release in Japan. Game stores have even brought back their old game kiosks so you could play a demo. I have no idea how this game plays, but I expect the standard scrolling-shooter action that was in vogue back during the 160bit era. The graphics clearly don't compare to the games of the DC era of 1999-2001, but...hey, new Dreamcast game.

Sunday Football Thread

Alright, everybody, put down that homework! Put away those pencils! Don't let me catch you doing that long division! It's time to waste away our grey Sunday on football games.

I just picked up a Sega Dreamcast a couple days ago, mainly so I could play my beloved NFL 2K1. Still a classic after eight years. Last night, I picked up NFL 2K2, which was the final game for DC, and strangely overlooked. Perhaps this was just because we were hesitant to give up our existing game; perhaps this was due to the console's death. But for whatever reason, 2K2 was given a harder rap than 2K1.

I'll need more time to play and find out the various quirks and see how deep the gameplay runs, but so far I'm greatly impressed with NFL 2K2. I'd say it's a better game than 2K1, and it is more than a minor upgrade. Heck, I bought the game for $1.99 (and 2K1 for $3.99), so there's no loss if, say, I get sick and tired of the running game or my inability to complete the 3rd Down pass. No, for that, I'm blaming Daunte Culpepper.

I'll go more into NFL 2K2 later. For now, I'll go back to the Vikings, who are having trouble against the Titans.

And how about last week's Sunday night game? Packers just got kicked around by the Cowboys. There were a whole month's worth of highlight reels in that game. Terrific fun!

Okay, everybody. Rant and rave about your football games.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The VP Candidate Matters - A Few More Post-Debate Thoughts

I'm putting up this video, not to rub it in or cheer for the Obama side, but to illustrate an important point. The Vice Presidential candidate is important, very important to modern campaigns. You need someone who can compliment the ticket and provide a second line of attack. For critical events like debates, you need your VP in front of the cameras, working offense, playing the attack dog, hitting hard.

The Presidential candidate is usually better off focusing on policy and the overall message of the campaign. Especially in 2008, I don't think Americans will be impressed by a President who goes around picking fights. We've had that for the past eight years. That's the job you leave to your VP. And that's what we saw Biden do last night on CNN.

And where is Sarah Palin, McCain's VP pick? She's missing, completely AWOL. She's supposed to be there on the tv, doing the same for McCain that Biden is doing for Obama. You need your number two to cover your back, escpecially in these crucial post-game moments when the narrative is being decided. We've seen all too well how the post-debate spin can completely change our final impressions of the debate. Remember Al Gore in 2000? John Kerry in 2004?

In this regard, the McCain side went to the debate with one hand tied behind its back. There's a glaring hole where their VP candidate should be, and Palin is nowhere to be found. Then we find out that she was at a bar, all the way in Philly. Not on tv, not giving spin, not making the case for McCain, not proving her bona-fides as the next Vice President.

Perhaps this explains why McCain was so contentious last night. He didn't have his backup quarterback to play the heavy, so that role was left only to him. And I think he suffered greatly as a result. This debate, which focused on foreign policy, was supposed to be his night. This was his home-team game. But he spent so much time playing attack dog against Obama, he spent the entire night looking cranky, ill-tempered and angry. McCain couldn't even look Obama in the eye or say one nice thing about him (note how generous Obama was towards McCain by comparison).

In a Presidential campaign, somebody has to be the street fighter. That role usually falls to the VP. But Palin didn't get to play; she was taken off the field by McCain. That speaks volumes about his judgement, and about his trust in her as a candidate. And given the terrible fallout from the CBS interview, Palin becomes smaller and smaller in the public eye.

And this woman is supposed to stand on a stage against Joe Biden on Thursday? I'm finding it harder and harder to believe that will even happen. The McCain campaign has no confidence in Palin and their behavior proves it. They desperately need something to intervene; either postpone or cancel the VP debate, or else...

Well, in McCain's worst-case scenario, there are two terrible options. Either let Palin give another Ralph Wiggum appearance against Biden on Thursday, or drop her from the ticket and face the wrath of the GOP's Christian conservatives. Either path leads to certain doom. At this point, I just can't see how John McCain can win this election.

Wrong on Iraq

The internet is a wonderful thing. Everything our politicians say in front of the cameras is saved for posterity. This makes fact-checking on important issues like Iraq fairly easy. Case in point:

So Where Was Palin Last Night?

Like everybody else, I watched the debates last night (although I missed the first half because I was running errands - thank goodness for the internet), and during the post-game show I saw Joe Biden performing the rounds. He was doing the usual VP work, playing the attack dog and making the case for Obama.

But where was Sarah Palin? She wasn't on the tv anywhere? What gives? She's supposed to be giving the McCain spin during the post-game show. Where was Palin?

A bar. Seriously, no lie. Palin was hanging out at a bar in Philly.

Once again, the person that John McCain believes is the most qualified to serve as Vice President. Thursday can't come fast enough.

Obama at the Debate - "You Were Wrong"

Obama was especially strong at last night's debate. He needed to bring his game face and take the fight to McCain. This is exactly the sort of fight we've been shouting for all these past months. Be forceful. Be strong. Know your facts. I think he did especially well against McCain.

Cafferty on President Palin - If That Doesn't Scare the Hell Out of You, I Don't Know What Should

It's always impossible for me to watch Jack Cafferty without thinking of Howard Beale from "Network," and he was especially worked up on Friday's show. Don't hold back, Mister Cafferty. Tell us what you really feel.

Obama Ad - "A Stronger Economy"

This is an excellent ad. Am I the only one reminded of FDR's famous fireside chats? This is something I would like to see Obama do as President; a 21st Century Fireside Chat. True, the President continues to deliver weekly radio addresses, but this is ancient technology and woefully antequated for the age of YouTube.

I would prefer to see a weekly address in this format, formal yet casual, in which the President speaks to the nation on camera, and the video immediately posted on YouTube and other video hosting sites. I wouldn't even bother with television at this point, which would prove more difficult and cumbersome. The internet is freely available and already the media outlet for the younger generation.

Greenland's Ilulissat Glacier Melting

While it's important to focus on all the domestic politics in America right now, the humbling truth is that none of this matters when compared to the crisis of global climate change. In the long term, this is the only real issue facing humanity in this century; everything else is a distant second.

Greenland's glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, and this is increasing. Please excuse the lengthy exerpt, but this is vitally important for you to read:

Off in the distance, huge boulders of ice break off of the imposing Ilulissat glacier, more commonly known by its Greenlandic name Sermeq Kujalleq, creating a thunderous roar as the glacier recedes in one of the planet's most striking examples of global warming.

"The ice in some places on the coast is now melting four times faster than before," says Abbas Khan, a Dane who studies the movements of Greenland's glaciers at the Danish Space Centre.

The Ilulissat glacier and icefjord have been on UNESCO's world heritage list since 2004 and is the most visited site in Greenland, its ice and pools of emerald-blue water admired by tourists and studied by scientists and politicians around the world.

The glacier is the most active in the northern hemisphere, producing 10 percent of Greenland's icebergs, or some 20 million tonnes of ice per day.

But the glacier is in bad shape, experts warn.

Recent estimates by US scientists who study NASA's satellite images daily show that it is rapidly disintegrating.

It has shrunk more than 15 kilometres (9.3 miles) in the past five years, and is now smaller than it has ever been in the 150 years of observation and topographical data.

According to professor Jason Box and his team from the department of geography at Ohio State University, the Ilulissat glacier may not have been this small in 6,000 years.

Radars, satellites and GPS tracking have shown that the glaciers in Greenland's southern and western parts are now melting twice as fast as they did two or three years ago, and four times as fast on the east of the island, according to professor Soeren Rysgaard of the Greenlandic Institute of Natural Resources.

Friday, September 26, 2008


I think I saw this in The Shining:

An Ohio farmer would like to invite you to get lost inside the head of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Drop Dead

The Republicans are dangerously close to self-immolation. The fiscal crisis has already fractured the party into several competing factions. Now they will have to deal with Wall Street after giving them the finger.

We may be going down, but we are getting some world-class entertainment as the ship sinks.

Hostile Audience

Way to make a good first impression, stupid. When the National Review starts kicking their Republican candidate, you know the game is over. This will be one hell of a fight tonight. Don't miss it.

War With Pakistan

I've been trying to warn people about the volatile situation in Pakistan, as it's been steadily escalating for weeks. Bush and Cheney seem determined to drag the US into yet another damn war, and nobody is bothering to notice.

It seems to me that Bush's main concern these final months is to screw over the next President as much as possible. War with Pakistan, trillion-dollar bailout, it's all really the same. Stick it to the next guy. Walk away laughing. Damn the consequences. The worse the outcome, the better. I win! Heh-heh-heh-heh, huh-huh-huh.

Palin's VP Debate

Here's a question: will Sarah Palin be dropped from the ticket before her VP debate next week? Normally, the answer would be a firm "no," since such a move would be political suicide for McCain. But given her disastrous CBS interview, and her astonishing cluelessness from her few media appearances, the thought of her facing Joe Biden in a debate setting is a nightmare.

It's been clear for some time that McCain's people don't have any faith in Palin to speak her mind or discuss any relevant issues. Otherwise she wouldn't have been hidden away and controlled so thoroughly. But come next week, all that must end, and she must stand alone in front of the nation. Put yourself in McCain's shoes, and you'll understand why they've been so desperate to postpone or scuttle the debates.

Politically speaking, this week has been a disaster for McCain. Every decision seems to invite ridicule and derision from all sides. Now the GOP is splitting apart over McCain, Palin, their campaign, and the Wall Street crisis that has consumed the news.

So what will the McCain camp do? Either Palin stays on the ticket, which means she must face Biden in her debate, or she chooses to "withdraw" from the ticket, and McCain must scramble to keep the Republican coalition from complete dissolution. Either direction spells certain doom. The only deciding factor that I can see at this point is McCain himself, and his ever-increasing impulse judgements.

If Palin is eventually dropped, it will have to be very soon, certainly before next week. Place your bets!

Tonight's Debate

I'm greatly looking forward to tonight's Presidential debate, but it's not so I can cheer as Obama beats down McCain. Like most everybody else, I'm deeply worried about our current fiscal crisis, and I expect to hear Obama's proposals for what we should do.

McCain has already lost the election with his baffling and stupid hissy fits this week. But Obama still needs to close the deal. He needs to win this election, not simply sit back and watch his opponent lose. We need to know what our next President plans to do to get us out of this hideous mess. That's the real reason I'm tuning in tonight, and I'm sure many others feel the same way.

My Eyes! The Goggles Do Nothing!

The reviews are in from the papers, and Sarah Palin's interview with Katie Couric...well, you pretty much have to see it for yourself. Now we're in Mystery Science Theatre territory.

We've had a week in which any one spectacular meltdown would doom the McCain-Palin ticket, and yet they all come crashing down at once. Is this really happening? I've never seen anything like it. Ross Perot '92? No, we're waaaay beyond that.

I can't wait for the Obama smackdown tonight.

Worst. Candidate. Ever.

You've got to be freakin' kidding me. What a pathetic joke.

And in case you're wondering if this is a fake, it is a real screenshot. WaPo has the news bit here. John McCain really is telling you he won the debate. The one that he said he wasn't attending. The one that begins tonight. In the future.

Did McCain suffer a stroke? Is Ross Perot running his campaign now? Worst. Candidate. Ever.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sega Dreamcast - Yay!

Today's the day I get myself a Sega Dreamcast! Yay! I've been looking forward to this for some time, and now I'm happy to be able to play all the great games.

I've been a Dreamcast freak since it first arrived in the US nine years ago. I loved the console's sleek and compact design, I loved the controllers, I loved the idea of playing games online, and I loved the games. While it was the first arrival of the "next generation" consoles, quickly followed by Playstation 2, XBox, and GameCube, it was always the best in my eyes. The games were simply more fun.

I think the Dreamcast was the last "arcade" oriented game system. By that I mean it was the final link to the old video arcades, which was where videogames were born and blossomed. Much like a good pop song, these games are fast, quick, to the point, and endlessly addicting. By 1999, the idea of video games were evolving with the technology; now they more closely resemble blockbuster movies. You win some, but you lose some, and I feel that games today have lost their immediacy, their old thrills.

The best Dreamcast games were the multiplayer hits, and that's probably why it remains such a beloved system. As gaming has embraced the online realm, it has sacrificed the idea of multiple players in the same room, on the same couch, laughing and knocking each other around. Sony and Microsoft have lost touch with this treasure, and I think this is the key reason why Nintendo has found success with the Wii. Too bad so many of the Wii party games are aimed at those who've never played games. Dreamcast lived that party lifestyle, but it was for the hardcore gamers all the way.

If you find a fan and ask them to name the essential titles, you'll find yourself on the receiving end of a very, very long list. If I had the money, I would have found it difficult not to walk home tonight with a dozen games, right out of the bat. Only my looming rent checks stood in the way. I had to settle with six or seven, and I still felt half empty.

What?! You didn't get Soul Calibur? Or Shenmue? Or Phantasy Star Online? Or Quake? Or Chu Chu Rocket? Or Sonic Adventure? Or Tennis 2K2? Or Skies of Arcadia? Or Grandia 2? Or Street Fighter 3: Third Strike? Or Power Stone 1 & 2? Or Ferrari 355? Or Test Drive Le Mans? Or.....you get the point. I could still rattle off a dozen others without blinking.

I walked home with a Dreamcast, two controllers, one VMU memory unit (a very novel idea of a memory card with its own lcd screen and buttons), and a big silly smile. What games did I pick up? NFL 2K1, of course. There's also NBA 2K2, Virtua Tennis, San Fransisco Rush 2049, Crazy Taxi, Toy Commander, and Hydro Thunder. There were several others I really wanted, but had to wait on, like Rayman 2, Outrigger, Resident Evil: Code Veronica, Ferrari 355, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1 & 2, Matt Hoffman Pro BMX, Alien Front Online....ah, here we go again.

This isn't to say that Sega Dreamcast didn't have its share of disappointments and failures. There are plenty of those on any videogame machine. But this little white box had a suprisingly high batting average. There are so many games that are brilliant, innovative, or just plain fun. Much of this was due to the console's painfully short life. Sega was bleeding money and desperately struggling to stay afloat. The Dreamcast was their final gamble before the Sony juggarnaut and their heavily-hyped Playstation 2.

There's a reason so many Dreamcast freaks will never touch a PS2, or a PS3, even. Many of them migrated to XBox, where Sega delivered a number of great games after they got out of the hardware game. There's always this feeling that we were robbed, that the game was rigged. Dreamcast was ripped off. It was better than PS2, it always was and always will be. I'd have to struggle to find six games on Sony's black monolith I would want to play. Typically, those would be the weirder, quirkier titles like Ico and Katamari Damaci. Games that would have been at home on Dreamcast. Heck, those games deserved to be on Dreamcast.

So, anyway, here I am, awaiting the meltdown of the Bush Economy and counting the hours until Obama can try to piece it all back together. I figured, since we're headed into another Great Depression, I shouldn't feel depressed. I should laugh a little more, smile a little more. My record collection and stereo will help greatly. My Dreamcast should help a little bit as well.

I'm As Mad As Hell, and I'm Not Going to Take This Anymore!

Americans of all stripes are mad as hell about this $700b handout to Wall Street. You should be angry, too. Tell your Senators how angry you are. Tell them all, tell them now.

Desperately Poor Wall Street Now Demands Another Half Trillion

How gracious of Wall Street. After getting $700 billion of taxpayer money to cover their gambling debts, how do they respond? By immediately demanding another $500 billion. And hurry up with it! They need to get back to the Poker table and gamble more housing mortgages. Double down! Aces high!

At this point, I'm beginning to think we should run Wall Street like the Mafia. Start breaking thumbs.

So I Guess This Means McCain is Voting for a Depression

McCain has absolutely nothing to offer except the cheapest, most cynical political stunts. He really does think Americans are stupid. What a jerk. Maybe we should ask Palin if McCain agrees with her that the nation will collapse into Depression on Monday morning if we don't pass the $700 billion bailout. Then we can ask her why McCain planned all along to vote against it, just so he could sell himself as a "maverick."

Ralph Wiggum, VP Candidate

There's a reason Sarah Palin has been hidden from the public eye, kids. You could take this interview and splice clips of Ralph Wiggum...you wouldn't miss a beat. Really.

Worst. Candidate. Ever.

The question was provocative, but hardly unexpected given recent events. Couric asked Palin, "Why isn't it better, Governor Palin, to spend $700 billion helping middle-class families who are struggling with health care, housing, gas and groceries? Allow them to spend more, and put more money into the economy, instead of helping these big financial institutions that played a role in creating this mess?"

Palin, in a rambling and largely incoherent response, responded, "That's why I say I, like every American I'm speaking with, were ill about this position that we have been put in. Where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy. Um, helping, oh, it's got to be about job creation, too. Shoring up our economy, and getting it back on the right track. So health care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions, and tax relief for Americans, and trade -- we have got to see trade as opportunity, not as, uh, competitive, um, scary thing, but one in five jobs created in the trade sector today. We've got to look at that as more opportunity. All of those things under the umbrella of job creation."

When All Else Fails, Read the Instructions

In this NBC interview on Tuesday, McCain admitted he didn't bother to read Paulson's Wall Street bailout proposal. That proposal was released on Friday. It's less than three pages. This is not a serious candidate.

See how fast it takes you to read this proposal. McCain had five days and he couldn't be bothered. What does that tell you?

This is What Leadership Looks Like

Obama at the Clinton Global Initiative.

This Race is Over

Obama is moving into a steady lead, and is set to finally break this one wide open. For all intents and purposes, this race is over. Barring any sudden catastrophe, Barack Obama will win the 2008 election, and win it comfortably.

I've long thought the template for the 2008 election was the 1980 race between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. In that election, voters were deeply dissatisfied with the nation's direction, and Carter's approval numbers were at all-time lows. But while Americans wanted new leadership, they weren't yet sold on Reagan, and so the race remained tight until its final weeks. Once October rolled around, Reagan finally sealed the deal, and the voters quickly tilted his way. The 1980 election ended in a rout.

For many, the turning point may have been Reagan's famous question (which has become THE question we ask of our elected leaders), "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" In 2008, that question on the past eight years of Bush is an overwhelming "no."

For many others, the final tipping point was Carter's failed attempt to rescue the US hostages in Iran. I still remember the images of those dark days, when the Marines attempted their daring rescue. It failed dramatically, and the blame was rightly placed at Carter's feet. I've always admired the man, but there's no denying that he was diminished by the Presidency. During his tenure, Jimmy Carter became a small and seemingly powerless man in the Oval Office.

I think we're seeing the same template playing out today. This time the crisis is the financial meltdown on Wall Street. This problem goes to the very heart of the Bush era, to the very heart of Conservative Republicanism itself. It is the result of de-regulation, of insisting that government shouldn't exist, that the magic of the free market will cure all ills, that massive tax cuts to the wealthy will produce a booming economy for all. This myth of the conservative movement has finally and fully revealed to nothing more than the racketeering sham it is.

John McCain's reactions to this ongoing crisis veered from the surreal to the absurd. It's as though he changed his mind every other day, first denying that anything is wrong at all ("the fundamentals of the economy are strong"); the next running in a blind panic. Does McCain really believe the United States will be in an economic Depression by Monday? Not Tuesday or Sunday?

McCain's behavior has been far beyond reckless. They stink of desperation. Choosing an unknown with no qualifications to the Vice Presidential candidate, then hiding her away from public view. Trying to drum up a border fight between Russia and Georgia into a new Cold War, or even World War III. Desperately trying to continue the unpopular war in Iraq, or start a new one with Iran. Getting caught in lies, again and again. Then, when caught, blame the media, blame Washington, blame Obama. McCain seems willing to blame literally everyone but himself for his mistakes. But I didn't tell him to become a cog in the Bush political machine, or be heavily staffed by lobbyists, or to hire a campaign manager who takes $15,000 a month from Fannie and Freddie.

Now we are watching this funny, sad, tragic escapade of a candidate who is completely lost. Campaign events are cancelled. Palin is hidden away, allowed to speak to reporters, then whisked away. There will be debates, there won't be debates. The debates are rescheduled, the debates are cancelled. McCain suspends his campaign to rush to Washington and solve the fiscal crisis, and there he is again, in New York, giving a speech. Meanwhile in Washington, the Senate is finishing negotiations for a bailout plan. McCain didn't even show up. But he will show up for Bush's photo op in the afternoon.

The bloggers have a field day on McCain and Palin's many lies, large and small and trivial. The National Enquirer prints the name of Palin's alleged secret lover. McCain cancels his appearance on Dave Letterman, promising to fly to Washington. Then he appears down the hallway, in another studio, giving an interview to Katie Couric.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama has remained calm, cool, collected and smart. He has shown a remarkable grasp of the issues at play, and a willingness to listen to competing ideas. His campaign stops and television ads show an intelligent, seasoned leader who has remained steady during this crisis. The difference has never been more stark. It surely helps that Obama has surrounded himself with the wizards who helmed Clinton's economic policy, men like former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. Compare him to Bush's current Treasury Secretary, who arrived with a Burger King crown on his head, yelling and crying to be crowned the Holy Emperor of the Treasury.

At last, at long last, have these Republicans no sense of shame? They have completely ruined the United States of America. And their nominee for four more years of the same, well...he's flailing, running away, like old King Lear. It's almost as though the price for his ascendency - his very soul - has driven him mad. John McCain is the Shakespearean tragic hero of our times.

Or, to put it less kindly...John McCain is the "Battlefield Earth" of American politics.

Tomorrow, Obama will take the stage for the first Presidential debate. Will McCain even show up, or will he continue to try and avoid his fate? It doesn't really matter anymore. It doesn't matter whether McCain is on that stage Friday night. It doesn't matter whether Sarah Palin will walk on that stage for her debate against Joe Biden. They may be standing there, but you won't be able to see them. All your eyes will be fixed upon Obama, our next President.

Barack Obama will need every bit of strength and intelligence to dig America out of this grave. For America now, truly, lies dying in the grave; hurled there mercilessly by George W. Bush and the Republican Party. May they meet their justice; in this world or the next.

WSJ Covers Metallica and the Loudness Wars

Another excellent article, this time from the Wall Street Journal. It covers the history and scope of the music industry's "loudness wars," which have resulted in steadily poorer and poorer sounding albums. Comparisons between D-Mag and Metallica's 1988 ...And Justice For All demonstrate for you just how terribly compressed today's music has become. All of this in the name of "louder" music that will sell to the iPod kids.

Truly, we are in the age of low-fi audio. What happened here? Has everything in America simply broken down? I have a Marantz stereo from 1977 that will destroy almost anything manufactured today. You should hear the beautiful music that comes from my Pro-Ject Debut turntable. Who decided that taking the fidelity away from music would make it more popular? Hasn't this instead resulted in the steep decline of CD sales? Hasn't this led to the very end of the music industry as we know it?

In a sense, it's another prime example of something Terence McKenna once said. "Capitalism has the intelligence of a termite." Very true, very true. The endless mad rush for more money, more money, more money, and damn the consequences.

I don't know if I'll be writing much more on this subject. Unless something important happens, I think you already know enough to proceed on your own. If you want to hear Metallica's D-Mag, then you would be well advised to avoid the commercial releases. Download the Guitar Hero Mix and listen to that version, which is far superior in fidelity and sound quality. A simple Google search will yield results. Good luck, kids!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

McCain Cancels VP Debate; Threatens to Cancel First Presidential Debate

Wow. I mean...wow. I've tried my best to be a good reporter, and be fair with my own opinions without becoming childish or snarky. Goodness knows we're all too old for that. Besides, most everyone in my family is a Christian Conservative Republican. Hah! What fun! The holidays (oops, I meant Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah and New Year's) are always an adventure!

Anyway, I'm really out of sober comments about this sorry campaign of McCain's. It's a damned train wreck. This is the most pathetic series of blunders, screwups, and FUBAR's I've ever seen. Is Ross Perot in charge of this campaign?

CNN reported that McCain now wants to push the first Presidential debate to October 2, which just happens to be the date of the VP debate. Oops. They'll just have to reschedule, cough cough. Only they won't give any ideas when that would be.

What a sorry, cynical game these criminals have played. I never thought Karl Rove was very good, and this only proves it. All he understands is slime, slime, slime. They literally picked a nobody off the street to be McCain's Vice President, and they're terrified she'll be forced to face the country alone.

McCain, of course, is doing everything he can to scuttle the first Presidential debate, but Obama, thankfully, is having none of that. Even the Democrats aren't foolish enough to fall for that. Now Lindsay Graham is saying that McCain will cancel if Bush's $700 billion heist isn't pulled off by Friday.

Go ahead, McCain. Quit. Why don't you just quit the damned race right here and now? Obama and Biden will go ahead with their campaign as usual, and show up at those debates. They'll face an empty podium, because you got cold feet and wanted out. Just bloody great. You sold your soul to Bush and Rove these past eight years, and now at the very end, you just want to quit and walk away.

Fine, whatever. Quit. Get the hell out. You're a damn rotten sellout, John McCain. And for that, I am deeply, truly sorry. You were an American hero, beloved by all of us, and that's the honest truth. But you sold yourself out to Bush's wretched criminal machine, ever since they cruelly attacked your family in the 2000 South Carolina primary. A man of honor and integrity would never have forgiven George Bush and Karl Rove for that crime, one of the meanest of all dirty tricks. You instead chose to embrace these evil men for eight years.

I really have nothing else to say, Senator. I've completely lost my respect for you. Just quit the whole race and go away, please. Maybe one day you'll finally find yourself.

Palin Hurting McCain Among Women Voters

Stranger and stranger; more bad news for the McCain campaign. By examining the Gallup polls, we see that Sarah Palin has actually hurt McCain's numbers among women voters. No wonder the two of them are being kept hidden from public view.

Dave Letterman Praises McCain, Then Buries Him

Whoops, I missed this show. Letterman had McCain scheduled on his show, which was cancelled because he "suspended" his campaign. After a couple minutes of high praise for McCain's heroism, Letterman then spends the rest of the night burying McCain with snarky insults and snide jokes. He was miffed.

That was funny in itself. Then McCain was spotted giving an interview with Katie Couric.

D'oh!! That's right, folks. John McCain cancelled his appearance on Dave Letterman, saying he had to rush to Washington to "save the country." Then he turns up on another tv show.

Letterman, by the way, asked a good question, one of those obvious "duh" questions that I should have asked myself hours ago. Why does McCain need to suspend his campaign to go to Washington when he has a running mate? Shouldn't his VP be campaigning in his place? Why can't Sarah Palin just campaign for the both of them? Am I missing something?

No, I'm not missing anything. We all know the score. This miserable sham of a campaign is falling to pieces. And we all know perfectly well that Palin will never be allowed to step in front of the cameras and the voters unscripted. She'd crumble into a million pieces for the whole nation to see. That's why she has been shielded from the media all these weeks.

Shouldn't standing in front of the American people be a requirement for running for President?

Video - Crazy Taxi (Dreamcast)

I couldn't let any collection of Sega Dreamcast vids pass by without showing something from Crazy Taxi.

This was certainly one of the most popular Dreamcast games during its run; probably the most popular game bar Soul Calibur and the NFL/NBA 2K series. It's a fun and flashy arcade racer that rewards reckless driving and wanton destruction. Like its arcade pedigree it's a painfully short game (usually a couple minutes), unless you somehow manage to become good enough to keep picking up and dropping off customers.

Me? I was never very good at this game. It was always fun, but I'd always be finished in a couple minutes. Most of my friends and co-workers were lining up to play Crazy Taxi for hours. I'd just let them take my place and wait for NFL 2K1 to start.

Certainly one of the brain-dead pickup titles for Dreamcast, or any other console for that matter. Sega followed up with a Dreamcast sequel and a third game on the XBox. Other than the change of scenery, it was all the same.

Another Reason to Hit the Brakes

The FBI is investigating Lehman Bros, AIG, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for possible fraud. I think this is an excellent reason why we should wait. The world is not about to collapse on our heads. We have time to rationally deal with our nation's fiscal problems.

Hmm...perhaps this is why the guilty parties are so desperate to rush that $700 billion out the door now now now!

Now McCain Wants to Suspend His Campaign and Postpone the Debates

Are you kidding me? Why is it that whenever something happens, John McCain acts as though he were the one in charge? I think we're still working through the job interview part. First it was the border skirmish between Russia and Georgia. Then it was Hurricane Gustav. Now the man thinks he should be in charge of handling the financial crisis.

I don't know about anyone else; I can only speak for me. These ploys may work with the voters and they may not. But I find it deeply presumptuous and very, very cynical. It's almost desperate in a way, like a blind date who won't take the hint and leave. I just find myself getting creeped out.

If John McCain wants to take a leadership role in our current fiscal mess, fine. He can begin by asking a few questions. Like, if McCain really believes this crisis is so dire, why doesn't he suspend his campaign immediately and rush to Washington, D.C. now? Why wait until after the scheduled campaign stops? Did Bush lend him that copy of My Pet Goat?

Here's another one: why did McCain say the fundamentals of the US economy were sound only one week ago? Remember that line? He insisted everything was perfectly fine only days ago; now the whole world is coming apart.

Exactly what role does Phil Gramm play in his campaign? Does Gramm or McCain still think we are a nation of whiners? Does Gramm still think the economy is sound?

McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, was paid $15,000 a month by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The payments continued as recently as last month. What was this all about? Exactly what was Fannie and Freddie hoping to purchase with all that money? Is this why McCain insisted the economy was sound?

Oh, and just when will Sarah Palin be allowed to give an unscripted press conference? Why can't she answer a single question that wasn't approved and rehearsed? What is McCain so afraid of?

Whatever. This campaign has become a farce. It's even worse than Ross Perot. Let McCain do what he wants. If he wants to, ahem, "suspend" his campaign, let him. If he wants to skip the debates, let him. Let Obama debate on that stage against an empty podium. It would be a fitting end to these last eight years.

La La La, I Can't Hear You

The Palin Shark Jump continues, with another poll showing her numbers in free-fall. I guess sheltering her away from the public eye like a dying Soviet Premier wasn't the smartest move, eh? And did you know Palin still has not given one press conference? The GOP has truly become the "Trust Me" party, haven't they?

As for the real Presidential candidates - that is, the ones we're allowed to look at - Obama takes a clear lead over McCain in the latest ABC/WaPo poll:

9/22 (9/7) Likely Voters; margin of error 3%

Obama 52 (47)
McCain 43 (49)

So what do you do if you're McCain? Stick your fingers in your ears and play pretend, of course. La la la, I can't hear you! Everything is fine, la la la! I'm very popular! La la la!

Yeah, sounds like a winning formula to me.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dreamcast - San Francisco Rush 2049

I'm frankly surprised at how difficult it has been to find any online media devoted to San Francisco Rush 2049. In my view this is one of Sega Dreamcast's greatest games, certainly in my top five.

San Francisco Rush has been a popular series for many years, although its pedigree has waned a bit in this age of "interactive movie" games. It's purely oldschool arcade, all speed and flash and nothing else. Midway was smart enough to branch out in a series of "extreme" racers, nearly all of which were very very good. Perhaps the whole mess got started back with Cruisin' USA, but SF Rush is really the pinnacle of it all.

The Dreamcast version is fantastic not only because of the main racing mode, ported brilliantly from the arcade, and not only because of the addictive stunt mode. It's a killer game because of the battle mode, a 4-player deathmatch that may be the most multiplayer fun I've ever had on the console.

Next post, I'll go into greater detail, as my time is unfortunately up. But enjoy these photos of the game in action, including the stellar battle mode. Ah, I've missed this game so much.

Would You Give This Man $700 Billion?

Just askin'. Oh, and only two more days until I get a Dreamcast. Yay!

The 2008 Republican Platform on Govt Bailouts

Well, I look like Robert Ford, but I feel like-a Jesse James:

"We do not support government bailouts of private institutions. Government interference in the markets exacerbates problems in the marketplace and causes the free market to take longer to correct itself."

Email From Paulson

I get this email every day, I swear. I think if I give Paulson and Bush my credit card number, they'll give me a cut of the action. Yay!

Don't Panic

It's not that I don't take our nation's financial situation seriously. I do, I really do. It's just that I've learned never to trust a single thing that comes out of the Bush White House. If they say the sky is falling, then you can rest assured everything is fine. They are very clearly trying to ram something terrible down our throats. Whether it's just cynical election-year politics (sucker Dems into supporting bad bill, then campaign against them), or the latest power grab (the Shock Doctrine theory), or simply George W.'s Final Big Score (the Sopranos theory), I honestly don't know.

Whatever Bush's game is, it's bad news for us. And their medicine will be far, far worse than the disease, I assure you.

I've said it for many years now: Bush and his cronies are not Conservatives. They're an Organized Crime Racket.

Palin Shark Jump Watch

This is just bad comedy. I'm reminded of those seemingly endless string of Soviet Premiers who came before Gorbechev during the Reagan years. Withered old men who died one after another. It was pretty obvious to everyone in the world the Soviets were propping up a broken nation. Kind of like the fake town from Blazing Saddles.

Yeah, that's exactly what Sarah Palin has become. She's the fake town from Blazing Saddles. Maybe the Bush people who run McCain's campaign should build a toll bridge. Hah!

P.S. - Notice another one of those obvious questions staring you in the face here? Why does the media go along with this? Palin is obviously a farce. The reporters will never be allowed a chance to ask her a single unscripted question. Now her "photo ops" will be limited to a few seconds. So McCain doesn't want you media types covering Palin. So what? Why not just ignore them?

Call or Write Your Congress

As a service to you, I'm providing links to the House of Representatives and the Senate. You can reach your Congressman or woman there. I strongly urge you to call and write as soon as you can.

As always, be civil and polite, and be direct. State your criticisms of this proposed trillion-dollar "bailout." Ask any of the 20 questions I've laid out just below. Ask 20 of your own. I'm sure you have a couple.

This whole episode stinks to high heaven. The whole damned thing is rotten, and we need every single person to stand up and be heard. I honestly don't care about your political leanings or which candidate you plan on voting for. This goes beyond Democrat or Republican. This is a public handover of a trillion dollars, with no explanation, no debate, no oversight, no questions.

Again, please contact Congress and voice your opinion. It's election season. They will listen to you. But only if you speak.

US House of Representatives Offices

US Senate Offices

20 Questions About Bush and Paulson's "Bailout" Proposal

Before we decide to hammer the final nails into the coffin of our American Democracy, and effectively crown the President's Treasury Secretary dictator and king, I have a few questions I'd like to ask. I would appreciate it if anyone in charge could answer these for me.

I think I'll send these questions to my Representatives and Senators as well. If you'd like, feel free to copy these and send them to your Congressmen. In fact, I insist. Send these to your Senators and demand answers:

1 - Exactly how was this $700 billion amount determined? How likely is that number to raise significantly in the future? Will it double? Will it triple?

2 - Did Paulson really admit that banks who are perfectly healthy will be able to receive "bailout" money, not merely the troubled banks? How is giving taxpayer money to healthy banks connected to the mortgage crisis?

3 - Is it true that foreign banks and financial firms would be eligible for bailout money? If so, which banks? Would any of these foreign banks include those employing former Sen. Phil Gramm? What is the criteria for determining which banks receive taxpayer money?

4 - Speaking of which, exactly what role did Phil Gramm play in shaping this new bailout proposal?

5 - Since Gramm is one of McCain's closest advisers, and a possible future Treasury Secretary, to what degree was McCain and his campaign involved in the shaping of this bailout proposal? Was McCain advised in any way? Did McCain or his campaign have any prior knowledge of this proposal?

6 - Section 6 of the proposal states, "The Secretary's authority to purchase mortgage-related assets under this Act shall be limited to $700,000,000,000 outstanding at any one time." What exactly does that mean, "at any one time"? Does this mean the Treasury Secretary can request another $700 billion from Congress as he sees fit? Does Congress have the right to refuse, or does that only fall into the semi-annual review?

7 -Section 8 of the proposal states, "Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency." Does this mean Congress shall have no oversight? Does this mean the courts, the Congress, even the President shall not be able to review or reverse the Treasury Secretary's decisions?

8 - Suppose it were discovered the Treasury Secretary was stealing money from the bailout funds. Would this or other crimes be protected under Section 8?

9 - Does this proposal override the Congress' power to operate and pass a budget as required under the Constitution? Does this proposal override the Constitution itself?

10 - If the powers granted to the Treasury Secretary violate the Constitution, would the Supreme Court be barred from review?

11 - If the Treasury Secretary and the President decree that any actions taken under this proposal are exempt from review, what other actions are they exempt from? What other areas of the President's authority shall not be reviewed by Congress and the Court?

12 - Would this proposal, in effect, give the President the power to decree and execute his own laws as he sees fit? Would such decrees be allowed for review by Congress and the Court?

13 - Since the Treasury Secretary is employed by the President, does this mean the Office of the President is thereby above the law? Shall Congress be forbidden to exercise its checks and balances as a co-equal branch of government? Shall the Supreme Court be forbidden to review any decision made by the Office of the President?

14 - If the President decides to kidnap American citizens and detain them indefinitely without habeus corpus, would this be allowed in the name of "the nation's financial security?"

15 - If the President decides that certain Wall Street figures have committed crimes, could they be disappeared and detained indefinitely without trial? Would the Treasury Secretary have this power in the name of protecting America's financial security?

16 - Does this proposal grant the Treasury Secretary and the President the authority to declare new powers and authorities as they see fit? Would these decisions be exempt from outside scrutiny or review?

17 - If this proposal is the sudden result of an immediate crisis, why was it drafted months ago? Why would such a proposal be needed? Why would such a proposal be less than three pages? What contingincies were anticipated? What were the alternatives?

18 - Why did Treasury Secretary Paulson tell Congress that he wanted oversight when Section 8 very clearly forbids it? What exactly did he mean when he said such oversight would seem "presumptious?" Does Paulson believe he should be held accountable to Congress, or that he alone is above the law?

19 - Why is the Bush administration insisting that we pass this proposal now, immediately, without debate? What do they believe will happen if this proposal is not immediately passed? How much time to we have before some unnamed catastrophe occurs? Weeks? Days? Hours?

20 - Exactly what will happen if the Congress does not pass this proposal, and in fact waits until the next President takes office in January? And if we are in such a terrible crisis, why were President Bush and John McCain insisting that "the fundamentals of the economy are strong" only last week?

We're Being Taken For a Ride

Has it become clear to everyone in America that this $700 billion "bailout" is nothing but a colossal scam? Are we all on board here? Is everybody's inner b.s. detector blaring in their heads?

Seriously, this isn't a bailout. It's a grand swindle. George W.'s Big Score. And like many others, I have the dread feeling that it's all a trap for the hapless Democrats.

Please, Dems, just this once. Call their bluff! Don't cave in! Don't give Bush one damn dollar!

We've all got to get on the horn and stop this spineless Congress from making the biggest mistake of our lives.

$500 Barrel of Oil

I'm not sure how much of this is hyperbole, but the hard fact is that the world is now facing the end of cheap oil. At long last, we are finally entering the era of Peak Oil. What that means, simply, is that global demand will outstrip supply, and that this is a permanent fact of life. There are too few dinosaur bones and too many people who want to use 'em.

Reaching $100 oil was largely a psychological milestone; after this point, oil will be subject to the law of supply and demand like everything else. Add in declining oil resources and steadily rising demand, and there's no telling just how high that price will reach. Conceivably, the price of oil could skyrocket forever. This is why we so desperately need to kick our addiction to fossil fuels. Well, that and the whole global warming thing, which threatens our very extinction.

Which reminds me. There was a phony infomercial on tv last night, a front for the oil industry that aims to confuse the public on whether global climate change is even happening, to say nothing of mankind's role in the crisis. Good grief, I hate these people. Money, money, money. Nothing is more important than more money, more money, more money. They will literally bury their grandchildren and ours for the sake of one more dollar for their vaults.

I bring up the subject because of this article which appeared today. The spectre of $500 oil is probably beyond most people's imagining, but it is a looming crisis for our civilization. This comes from Fortune Magazine, certainly no hippie Deadhead stalwalt. When the conservative business types become alarmed at the sight of peak oil and climate change, you damn well better listen.

It's such a damn frustration that we as a nation are so easily distracted by the trivial and the stupid. There really is only one major issue that we need to address, and that's oil addiction and climate change. Nothing else even comes close. We're facing the extinction of human civilization.

So....on that happy note, enjoy reading Fortune's profile on Matt Simmons.

The 12 Lies of Sarah Palin

Sullivan has summarized the deception and deceit from Sarah Palin into one handy post. As always, links are provided for evidence, so by all means, search the truth out for yourself. Of course, you've likely already done that. Your teenage b.s. detector should be fully functional by this stage of the election season, anyway. But pass this along to friends and family who may not already know the score.

I think what gets me is how mundane and trivial many of these lies are. We're not talking WMD's here. But I think this is more revealing of a person's character, these endless little lies and deceptions. You'll learn far more about a person by observing how they pay attention to the little details. That's why you give your children an allowance when they're young; so that when they're older, they will understand the value of money and be responsible. Sarah Palin, like her GOP colleagues, shows that she is not responsible.

The 12 Lies of Sarah Palin

We Need a Better Wall Street Deal

"Daddy Doesn't Know Best," says Krugman on his blog this morning. I am feeling much better today, after seeing such deep resistance to Treasury Secretary Paulson's brazen power grab (and there's really little else it can be called). When you've lost Newt Gengrich to your cause, Mister Republican, the game is up.

So at least the chances are better for a good deal to be worked out, certainly one far better than this fit of madness from the Bush White House. I am so sick and tired of these petty princes who try to scare us into handing them a crown. America is still a democracy, last time I checked. Handing near dictatorial power to Treasury would be absolute madness, even more so than simply handing out free checks to Wall Street gamblers. We need a fair deal.

Here's Krugman's post in full:

I’ve had more time to read the Dodd proposal — and it is a big improvement over the Paulson plan. The key feature, I believe, is the equity participation: if Treasury buys assets, it gets warrants that can be converted into equity if the price of the purchased assets falls. This both guarantees against a pure bailout of the financial firms, and opens the door to a real infusion of capital, if that becomes necessary — and I think it

Can this be done? Can the Paulson juggernaut be stopped? I’m starting to think yes. Paulson displayed a lot of arrogance here — he basically marched in and said Daddy knows best, don’t worry your pretty little heads about the details. He offered no, zero, zilch explanation of how the plan was supposed to work — just “it’s a crisis and we need to act now.” And he overreached, especially with that demand for immunity from any review.

Now we’ve had a lot of pushback from economists and financial analysts,
and the realization has sunk in that this particular daddy has shown very little
sign of knowing best. So there’s a real chance to do something quite different.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Virtua Tennis and Tennis 2K2

Virtua Tennis was the reason Dreamcast was so damned cool. Certainly one of the console's highlights and one of the most fun four friends can have without getting arrested. I have no idea what that means. Whatever. Here's a match from the original game:

And here are a couple matches from Virtua Tennis 2, aka Tennis 2K2 as it was known in the States. This sequel was later ported to the Playstation 2; naturally, the DC faithful wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole. Pride, you see. Great classic:

Sega Dreamcast - Extreme Sports

Ah, interesting. I seem to remember this title, but it never received much attention at the time. Most games that tried to angle for the "extreme" thing failed miserably, much like Vanilla Ice teaming up with the Ninja Turtles. Ouch.

Was Extreme Sports ever released in the US? Yes, according to GameFaqs. It appeared on Infogrames' Atari label here, which is likely why I missed it. In Japan, Sega published the title, even though the developer is listed as Innerloop. Perhaps that's why I missed it. If I thought this was a Sega title, it would have been snapped up without a thought.

It's so much easier to find out about minor game titles in 2008 than in 2000. The internet was a much smaller place without YouTube and blogs. This game really just fell through the cracks, which is a shame. Dreamcast was home to inventive, left-of-field games such as this.

It's interesting to watch a racing game where the athletes change vehicles after each lap. The videos I've seen (posted below) show racers on ATV's, hang gliders, and snowboards. Now that's a crazed mix. I see elements of future racing games, like the Burnout series and PS3's standout hit Motorstorm. Again, I never played this one back in 2000, so I don't know how good everything comes together. But it does have a dedicated fan base, so that counts for something.

Video - Outrigger (Dreamcast)

It's such a pity that Sega pulled the plug on their Dreamcast so soon, because this great console really needed more first-person shooters. There were really only three quality games in this genre: the venerable computer classics Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament, and Sega's arcade hit Outrigger.

For some unknown reason, I never got around to buying this game. It's rather strange, because I did play a demo version on one of the DC sampler discs that came with the Official Dreamcast Magazine. The Outrigger demo I played was really terrific, very fast, flashy and intense. A quality Sega arcade game, in other words.

Outrigger became one of the overlooked titles in the DC library. Perhaps most shooter fans couldn't trust Japanese developers with what has almost exclusively been an American genre. It was also very, very difficult to compete against Quake and Unreal Tourney. Those were great games, especially Quake online. That was probably my first great online gaming experience, back in the year 2000 and 2001. I understand there are still a few DC servers located around the world, for the sake of the diehard fans. Dreamcast carries the sort of stubborn loyalty usually reserved for beloved pets and favorite sports teams. Part of the joys of life.

So here are some videos of Outrigger in action. Enjoy.

A Vote For McCain is a Vote For War

Andrew Sullivan, once again, gently reminds us of an unpleasant truth about a potential McCain-Palin administration. If the Neoconservative Republicans retain the White House in November, there will almost certainly be a war with Iran.

Share this slogan with everyone you know. You could even make some signs or buttons. It's a simple summary of the McCain Doctrine in foreign policy: A Vote For McCain is a Vote For War. War with Iran, certainly. But there will also be more wars; more war in Iraq, more war in Afghanistan, a new war against Pakistan, a possible war against Russia. We don't have the resources to spare, in men or in dollars.

We've been down this road before, and we all know what happens when the bullies have their way. They escalate the fight. America and your families cannot afford more of these reckless, needless, useless fights. Our brothers and sisters in uniform are not G.I. Joe dolls to be hurled around John McCain's backyard.

These Neocons have a bloodlust that is truly appalling. It is un-American in every possible sense of the word. God have mercy on this land if this man becomes our President.

The American People Get Wise

I know I can often get cranky about the average American voter, and I realize it's a bad habit of mine. I really don't wish to think of others as idiots or morons or easily-led simpletons. I try to remind myself that Americans are good people at heart; they just need to have the facts laid out before them. Show us the truth, and we will do the right thing in the end.

Thankfully, the polling today on the financial crisis gives me some hope. I think it's pretty clear who's to blame, since one party has been running our government for the past eight years. Hmm...didn't we vote in some other party a couple years ago? Whatever happened to them? Sure would be nice to see them standing in front of the cameras, calling Bush's latest effort at Shock Doctrine.

At least Obama is doing a good job bringing the point home. The fact that we're now leading up to the debates will only help him. I think if he plays smart (and Obama is a very skillful politician - remember, he defeated the Clintons) he will stay on offense from now until Election Day.

My great worry now is that the Democratic Congress will quickly crumble and scramble to give Bush everything he wants. It isn't merely cowardice, although that's always been part of it. The Democratic Party is just as beholden to the moneyed interests on Wall Street as the Republicans. This is the danger of the two-party system that Ralph Nader has been warning us about all these years.

So, please, Dems, don't screw this up. Don't hand Bush a blank check. Don't lie down and grant him dictatorial powers over our nation's finances. For heaven's sake, show some spine and stand up for the working class Americans you once represented. Stand up to the Wall Street criminals and stand up for us. You know, us voters. Please?

Truly, these are the times that try men's souls.

You Don't Get to Whine When You're Called On Your Lies

See, children, this is why it always better to tell the truth. Remember that story about little George Washington and the cherry tree? Don't ever tell lies. And you better not start whining and throwing a tantrum when you're called on those lies. Actions have consequences, kids.

I don't respect liars or crybabies. Which is probably why I don't care very much for politicians like McCain. After eight long years of this, I've had enough.

Palin Still Being Shielded From the Public

I find it beyond stunning that the Republicans have offered a Vice Presidential candidate who has refused to give a single press conference. It's been weeks and yet still no real appearance before the news media and the American public. No accontability, no questions. Are we living in Soviet Russia? Did I miss something here?

Then again, considering her rapidly falling polling numbers, the McCain campaign is forced to play defense at this point. We've seen these numbers since late last week, and I think it's pretty conclusive by this point. Sarah Palin's 15 minutes of fame are over. Good work to the netroots for doing their job and helping to frame the debate. Keep up the good work, everyone.

Three Times is Enemy Action - How We Got Into This Mess

Daily Kos writer Devilstower wrote an outstanding essay this weekend on the financial crisis, and how exactly we got into this fine mess. Markos Moulitzas hails it as possibly the finest DKos post ever; high praise indeed from a truly gifted and humble man. This article has even been chosen to be the cover story for The Nation.

The saga of our 2008 financial meltdown has its roots in the Savings & Loan scandals of the 1980s, continuing to the de-regulation frenzy of the past 25 years, to the California energy "crisis" brought upon by the likes of Enron, to today. At the end of it all, greed, ideology remain. These are the men who have destroyed the American Republic. Read and weep.

"Three Times is Enemy Action"