Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Economic "shock and awe"

Great post by Arianna Huffington of Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arianna-huffington/the-bailout-plan-welcome_b_128450.html) about the ridiculous financial bailout proposal, and how eerily similar it is to the run-up to the Iraq war. Same basic premise - government official makes loud noises about IMMEDIATE DANGER and the need to cede complete power to said government official.

Yeah, that worked out well last time.

Hopefully, the Democrats have enough spine to resist. It does look more promising this time than last, but we'll see.

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See if this sounds familiar:

There is a gathering threat to the safety of the United States. We must take immediate action. Congress must quickly grant the President and the Secretary what they want and also give them full and unfettered authority to execute the plan.

Welcome to Economic Shock and Awe (or as some have dubbed it, according to Paul Krugman, "the Authorization for Use of Financial Force").

Even the amount of taxpayer money being bandied about -- $1 trillion -- is similar. Think you got your money's worth for the Iraq war? Congratulations -- you're about to buy another pricey debacle.

We've seen how negligent the Bush administration is with our money -- flushing billions on wasteful, mismanaged Iraq reconstruction and Katrina recovery projects.

Now the same folks who brought us those no-bid, profit-guaranteed, crony-friendly, war-and-disaster-profiteering boondoggles want us to hand them control of a $700 billion Wall Street slush fund -- with no strings attached. How dumb -- or frightened -- do they think we are?

This is, as Matt Yglesias calls it, "a crisis point for American liberalism." The battle lines are already clear: Paulson and Bush and the Republican Party want a license to reward the worst actors in the financial industry and do nothing for American families suffering the consequences.

Remember a few years ago when lawmaker after lawmaker -- mostly Democrats, but a few Republicans -- said of Iraq, "If I'd known then what I know now, I'd have voted differently."

Well, this time at least some lawmakers -- mostly Democrats, but a few Republicans -- are not being so easily bamboozled. Congressional Democrats, led by Chris Dodd in the Senate and Barney Frank in the House, have put forth proposals doing away with the Paulson's demand for unprecedented authoritarian power and adding a requirement that the government do more to help troubled borrowers refinance their mortgages.

The Treasury appears willing to bend on those elements but sticking points remain, including efforts to limit the pay of executives and Dodd's proposal that taxpayers get a share of the profits if the bad debt being bought rises in value.

Let's hope Democratic resolve holds up against the inevitable charges by the Bush administration that demands for oversight, limits on executive compensation, profit sharing for taxpayers, and aid for struggling homeowners will lead to an economic Armageddon.

There is no question that the need to address this crisis is urgent and that the issues involved are complex. But urgency and complexity cannot be allowed to become excuses for lawmakers, the media, and the public to throw up their hands and allow themselves to be bull-rushed into disastrous public policy.

Over the past 30 years, Americans have been bombarded with sermons evangelizing for the free market religion of the Right, and the supposed correlation between unregulated markets and progress. In the process, the American people have been demoted from citizens to consumers, and sold a bill of goods (rather than a Bill of Rights) about how the almighty market was the essential foundation of democracy.

In the course of selling us on buying, the market-worshippers shredded the modern social contract, the hard-fought consensus that had emerged since the New Deal, which ordered our political priorities, and expressed both our communal concern for the most vulnerable members of society and our disapproval of huge inequalities. We were now supposed to believe that all could be left up to the soulless, self-correcting calculus of supply and demand. Government involvement was an anachronism, regulatory oversight an impediment.

The last few weeks have demolished that notion. In the battle over the proper role of government, the forces of the Right, the high priests of the church of the Free Market -- including Bush, Paulson, and the Masters of Wall Street -- have suffered a monumental defeat. So why are we allowing them to dictate the terms of their surrender?

The coming police state?

Interesting article by Naomi Wolf of Huffington Post (http://www.alternet.org/rights/100069/?page=3) about Sarah Palin being the figurehead for the planned Police State of America. Hyperbole? Almost assuredly. But there are many points contained in the piece that are very valid and worth considering.

And, in all honesty, I don't discount as impossible the thought of the current cabal running this country doing something like this. I'm still not entirely convinced the current President won't attempt to "declare emergency" and seize power if Obama wins in November. I certainly wouldn't put it past him.

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Please understand what you are looking at when you look at Sarah "Evita" Palin. You are looking at the designated muse of the coming American police state.

You have to understand how things work in a closing society in order to understand "Palin Power." A gang or cabal seizes power, usually with an affable, weak figurehead at the fore. Then they will hold elections -- but they will make sure that the election will be corrupted and that the next affable, weak figurehead is entirely in their control. Remember, Russia has Presidents; Russia holds elections. Dictators and gangs of thugs all over the world hold elections. It means nothing. When a cabal has seized power you can have elections and even presidents, but you don't have freedom.

I realized early on with horror what I was seeing in Governor Palin: the continuation of the Rove-Cheney cabal, but this time without restraints. I heard her echo Bush 2000 soundbites ("the heart of America is on display") and realized Bush's speechwriters were writing her -- not McCain's -- speeches. I heard her tell George Bush's lies -- not McCain's -- to the American people, linking 9/11 to Iraq. I heard her make fun of Barack Obama for wanting to prevent the torture of prisoners -- this is Rove-Cheney's enthusiastic S and M, not McCain's, who, though he shamefully colluded in the 2006 Military Tribunals Act, is also a former prisoner of war and wrote an eloquent Newsweek piece in 2005 opposing torture. I saw that she was even styled by the same skillful stylist (neutral lipstick, matte makeup, dark colors) who turned Katharine Harris from a mall rat into a stateswoman and who styles all the women in the Bush orbit -- but who does not bother to style Cindy McCain.

Then I saw and heard more. Palin is embracing lawlessness in defying Alaskan Legislature subpoenas -- this is what Rove-Cheney, and not McCain, believe in doing. She uses mafia tactics against critics, like the police commissioner who was railroaded for opposing handguns in Alaskan battered women's shelters -- Rove's style, not McCain's. I realized what I was seeing.

Reports confirmed my suspicions: Palin, not McCain, is the FrankenBarbie of the Rove-Cheney cabal. The strategy became clear. Time magazine reported that Rove is "dialed in" to the McCain campaign. Rove's protege Steve Schmidt is now campaign manager. And Politico reported that Rove was heavily involved in McCain's vice presidential selection. Finally a new report shows that there are dozens of Bush and Rove operatives surrounding Sarah Palin and orchestrating her every move.

What's the plan? It is this. McCain doesn't matter. Reputable dermatologists are discussing the fact that in simply actuarial terms, John McCain has a virulent and life-threatening form of skin cancer. It is the elephant in the room, but we must discuss the health of the candidates: doctors put survival rates for someone his age at two to four years. I believe the Rove-Cheney cabal is using Sarah Palin as a stalking horse, an Evita figure, to put a popular, populist face on the coming police state and be the talk show hostess for the end of elections as we know them. If McCain-Palin get in, this will be the last true American election. She will be working for Halliburton, KBR, Rove and Cheney into the foreseeable future -- for a decade perhaps -- a puppet "president" for the same people who have plundered our treasure, are now holding the US economy hostage and who murdered four thousand brave young men and women in a way of choice and lies.

How, you may ask, can I assert this? How can I argue, as I now do, that there is actually a war being ramped up against US citizens and our democracy and that Sarah Palin is the figurehead and muse for that war?

Look at the RNC. This is supposed to be McCain's America. But you see the unmistakable theatre of Rove's S and M imagery -- and you see stages eight, nine and ten of the steps to a dictatorship as I outlined them in The End of America. Preemptive arrest? Abusive arrest? "Newly released footage, which was buried to avoid confiscation, shows riot cops arresting and abusing a giant group of people for nothing."

Journalists were arrested -- for reporting. Amy Goodman and ABC producers were arrested. Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake and others were forced to lie face down as armed agents tied their hands behind their backs. The riot police wore the black S&M gear of the Rovian fantasy life and carried the four foot batons cops carry in North Korea. All this is not John McCain's imagery or strategy: it is Karl Rove's.

In McCain-Palin's America, citizens who are protesting are being charged as terrorists. This means that a violent war had been declared on American citizens. A well known reporter leaked to me on background that St Paul police had dressed as protesters and, dressed in Black -- shades of the Blackshirts of 1920 -- infiltrated protest groups. There were also phalanxes of men in black wearing balaclavas, linking arms and behaving menacingly -- alleged "anarchists." Let me tell you, I have been on the left for thirty years and you can't get three lefties to wear the same t-shirt to a rally, let alone link arms and wear identical face masks: these are not our guys. Agent Provocateurs framing protesters and calling protest "terrorism" constitutes step ten of a police state:

"In what appears to be the first use of criminal charges under the 2002 Minnesota version of the Federal Patriot Act, Ramsey County Prosecutors have formally charged 8 alleged leaders of the RNC Welcoming Committee with Conspiracy to Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism… [they] 7 1/2 years in prison under the terrorism enhancement charge which allows for a 50% increase in the maximum penalty."

"Paid, confidential informants… infiltrated the RNCWC on behalf of law enforcement. They allege that members of the group sought to kidnap delegates to the RNC, assault police officers with firebombs and explosives, and sabotage airports in St. Paul. Evidence released to date does not corroborate these allegations with physical evidence or provide any other evidence for these allegations than the claims of the informants. Based on past abuses of such informants by law enforcement, the National Lawyers Guild is concerned that such police informants have incentives to lie and exaggerate threats of violence and to also act as provocateurs in raising and urging support for acts of violence."

Under the Palin-Rove police state, you will see escalating infringements on your access to a free internet:

"Sarah Palin was baptized at Wasilla Assembly of God…Last Sunday our research team released a video, a ten-minute mini-documentary, focusing on the Wasilla Assemblies of God and the video seemed on the verge of a massive "viral" breakthrough when YouTube pulled it down, citing 'inappropriate content'. At the point the video was censored by YouTube it had been viewed by almost 160,000 people. The short of it is that YouTube has censored a video documentary that appeared to be close to having an effect on a hard fought and contentious American presidential election…"

Under the coming Palin-Rove police state, you will witness the plans now underway to bring Iraqi troops to patrol the streets of our nation. This is not McCain's fantasy: it is Rove's and Cheney's.

Under the Palin-Rove police state, there will be no further true elections. Mark Crispin Miller has done sensational and under-reported investigating t o establish that -- as I warned -- indeed the GOP staffers on the US Senate Judiciary Committee have been .

The evidence is also buried on the Website of the Majority House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

WASHINGTON -- Republican staff members of the US Senate Judiciary Commitee infiltrated opposition computer files for a year, monitoring secret strategy memos and periodically passing on copies to the media, Senate officials told The Globe. >From the spring of 2002 until at least April 2003, members of the GOP committee staff exploited a computer glitch that allowed them to access restricted Democratic communications witho ut a password. Trolling through hundreds of memos, they were able to read talking points and accounts of private meetings discussing which judicial nominees Democrats would fight -- and with what tactics.

-- "Senate panel's GOP staff spied on Democrats" By Charlie Savage, Globe Staff | January 22, 2004

Do you think that spying like this will ever end under a Palin-Rove regime? Dream on. If she and McCain are elected, then every single strategy memo and speech and debate prep note from every opposition candidate from now and on into forever will be read by the regime in power while it is still in the computers of the challengers.

Under the Palin-Rove police state, citizens will be targeted with state cyberterrorism. Bruce Fein of the American Freedom Agenda, a former Reagan official, warned me three years ago that the Bush team went after a Republican who had crossed them through cyberstalking: they messed with his email, messed with his phones and I believe messed with his bank account -- he became a cyber-pariah, unemployable and haunted. With modern technology, there really is less place to hide from the state than there was in East Germany in the Cold War era. I remember feeling a chill: of course. That is the wave of the future once we breach the protections around citizens of FISA and the fourth amendment. That way lies the abyss for us all.

Am I trying to scare you? I am. I am trying to scare you to death and ask you to scare your Republican and independent friends most of all. How do you know when it is war on citizens? When there are mass arrests, journalists are jailed, the opposition is infiltrated, rights are stripped and leaders start to ignore the rule of law.

Almost everyone I work with on projects related to this campaign for liberty has been experiencing computer harassment: emails are stripped, messages disappear. That's not all: people's bank accounts are being tampered with: wire transfers to banks vanish in midair. I personally keep opening bank accounts that are quickly corrupted by fraud. Money vanishes. Coworkers of mine have to keep opening new email accounts as old ones become infected. And most disturbingly to me personally is the mail tampering I have both heard of and experienced firsthand. My tax returns vanished from my mailbox. All my larger envelopes arrive ripped straight open apparently by hand. When I show the postman, he says "That's impossible." Horrifyingly to me is the impact on my family. My childrens' report cards are returned again and again though perfectly addressed; their invitations are turned back; and my daughters many letters from camp? Vanished. All of them. Not one arrived. Try explaining that to a smart thirteen year old. Try explaining it in a way that still makes her feel secure and comfortable.

I am not telling you this because it's about my life. I am telling you this because it is about your life -- whoever you are, Conservative or Liberal, independent or evangelical. Your politics will not protect you in a police state. History shows that nothing protects you in a police state. This is not about my fear and anxiety: it is about what awaits you and everyone you love unless you see this for what it is:

Scharansky divided nations into "fear societies" and "free societies." Make no mistake: Sarah "Evita" Palin is Rove and Cheney's cosmetic rebranding of their fascist push: she will help to establish a true and irreversible "fear society" in this once free once proud nation. For God's sake, do not let her; do not let them.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

NU Re-View: Nebraska 38, New Mexico State 7

THE GOOD ...
- I GOT RHYTHM: Actually, more accurately, the Nebraska offense finally looked like it had some rhythm. No surprise that as the running game became more effective, the entire offense started clicking. Hard to tell given the competition, but the NU offense looked the best it has so far this season.
- TURN 'EM OVER: One of the calling cards of Pelini's first stint at Nebraska was forcing turnovers. As the game wore on, the secondary was able to start turning New Mexico State over. I think turnovers are infectious, and as the DBs get more confident in getting turnovers, more will come.
- TRICKERATION: Lucky's TD strike to Joe Ganz was a little flashback to the Callahan era, but it was fun to see. More importantly, it gets that play on tape to give teams on the schedule something to worry about.
- THEY'RE INTO IT: At the end of the third quarter, going into the beginning of the fourth quarter, NMSU had 11 plays inside of Nebraska's 10 yard line. That's hard to do. It's even harder to have that many plays and not score, which the we-can't-call-them-Blackshirts accomplished. And as the Aggies were trying to punch it in, the crowd was as loud as I've heard in the first three games. Perhaps warming up for Virginia Tech and Missouri?

THE BAD ...
- D-LINE WOES: Pierre Allen, in for the injured Barry Turner, ended up on the trainer's table as well. It's not clear how bad his injury is, but Nebraska cannot afford much more attrition on the defensive line.
- KICKER KONCERNS: (OK, that's a pretty lame headline to this one, and makes this look a bit like something from Mortal Kombat. Although, how cool would it be to see Adi Kunalic's fatality move ...) Kunalic is still struggling with consistency in getting the ball into the end zone. He's got a phenomenal leg, but when he mis-hits the ball it looks a bit like when I hit my driver. Similarly, the otherwise-dependable Alex Henery badly shanked his first FG attempt. I wonder if the late field goal attempt was more to help his confidence than anything else.
- A 31-POINT PLAY?: OK, what in the world was New Mexico State head coach Hal Mumme doing calling a timeout in the dying moments of the game, with Nebraska up 38-7? Had he gotten a bookie somewhere to give him a 30-point spread and he had taken the points? Never was I happier to see a play fail than the post-time-out incompletion afterwards.
- NEXT MAN UP: Perhaps it's just me, but I thought it strange that #2 QB Patrick Witt is wearing a #2 jersey, and #3 QB Zac Lee is wearing #3. If that's the case, shouldn't Joe Ganz get to rock the ace, and shouldn't we put #4 on Beau Davis?

... AND THE END OF THE PRESEASON.
Nebraska has come through the first part of their season unscathed, but relatively untested. The teams NU has played so far have been at least respectable (I'm talking to you, Kansas State before playing Louisville), but the level of play rises with the next three games. We know that NU is 3-0, but we don't really know how much stock to put in that record. We'll find out soon enough.

THE BIG PICTURE
Say what you will about Steve Pederson, he did a masterful job in setting the schedule up this year. Nebraska has had at least some test, enough to get some of the kinks out. They get a week off to prepare and to rest, and then get a game against a nationally-respected team. At home. At night. On national TV. Then, if NU wins that game, they get the most dangerous team in the Big XII North. At home. Probably on national TV again if NU beats the Hokies. Now, I don't think NU has the horses to run with Missouri. But putting that game at home, after potentially a huge win over Virginia Tech, with the team and the fans being sky-high, gives Nebraska the best possible chance to stun the Tigers they could possibly have.

THE NEXT GAME
Virginia Tech at Nebraska. No spread yet, although I did finally call one right last week. Tough to say how this game is going to go. We will learn a lot about the Hokies this weekend as they travel to a greatly-improved North Carolina team. One way or the other, I think this game is Nebraska's to lose. VT coach Frank Beemer's decision to burn QB Tyrod Taylor's redshirt after VT's opening-day loss to East Carolina reeks of desperation, and it's hard to imagine how the team is going to be able to gel. Virginia Tech struggled last week against a good Georgia Tech team, but won. But now they have to play a tough road game against UNC, then turn around and play ANOTHER (hopefully) tough road game in Lincoln. However the North Carolina game turns out, that doesn't bode well for VT against the 'Huskers.

GBR, baby.

McCain/Palin's white privilege?

Interesting article by Tim Wise of BuzzFlash (http://www.alternet.org/rights/98915/) about the free pass John McCain and Sarah Palin are getting for some of their history, and how if the same things were in Barack Obama's history, they would be perceived differently.

We've heard an AWFUL lot about sexism in this campaign, but the racial aspect is the one that I think is far more important. And it's an article like this that points out why, and how Obama is really swimming upstream in this election.

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For those who still can't grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at 17 like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because "every family has challenges," even as black and Latino families with similar "challenges" are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a "fuckin' redneck," like Bristol Palin's boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you'll "kick their fuckin' ass," and talk about how you like to "shoot shit" for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.

White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-size colleges, and then governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don't all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. senator, two-term state senator and constitutional law scholar means you're "untested."

White privilege is being able to say that you support the words "under God" in the pledge of allegiance because "if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it's good enough for me," and not be immediately disqualified from holding office -- since, after all, the pledge was written in the late 1800s and the "under God" part wasn't added until the 1950s -- while believing that reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because, ya know, the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school, requires it), is a dangerous and silly idea only supported by mushy liberals.

White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you. White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto was "Alaska first," and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you're black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she's being disrespectful.

White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do -- like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the eight-hour workday, or an end to child labor -- and people think you're being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small-town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college -- you're somehow being mean, or even sexist.

White privilege is being able to convince white women who don't even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running mate anyway, because all of a sudden your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women and made them give your party a "second look."

White privilege is being able to fire people who didn't support your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being a typical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt.

White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the United States is an explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God's punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you're just a good churchgoing Christian, but if you're black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the history of racism and its effect on black people, you're an extremist who probably hates America.

White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then having people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a "trick question," while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O'Reilly means you're dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.

White privilege is being able to claim that your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism is, as Sarah Palin has referred to it, a "light" burden.

And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising and the United States is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because white voters aren't sure about that whole "change" thing. Ya know, it's just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of the same, which is very concrete and certain.

White privilege is, in short, the problem.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Who is Sarah Palin?

GREAT post by Nate Silver from fivethirtyeight.com (who I am developing a disturbing man-crush on) about who Sarah Palin is, and how Democrats need to respond. I like the post for two reasons:

1) It's a sports analogy, and a hockey one at that.
2) It's dead right, in my opinion.

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SARAH PALIN IS NOT A HOCKEY MOM

She's a hockey player. She’s a fourth-line hockey agitator, beloved by the home crowd, loathed by the opponents, injecting passion into both fan bases, the kind of home-team hero that no Stanley Cup winner goes without.

Once upon a time, I applied an NFL-replay mentality to hockey playoffs, holding on to outrages over missed calls, blatantly unfair officiating, double standards, and outright getting-away-with-stuff (which always led to an early spring exit for my beloved Blues). I wanted – and unreasonably expected – bad behavior to be proportionally punished.

And then several years ago I had an epiphany about the hockey playoffs – nobody is coming to save you. Initiators win, reactors lose. Expect adversity, because it's built in. The fourth-line, no-scoring-talent, pest agitators (or as we now call them, “energy guys”) have a specific job. Skate in, take a cheap shot, make it after the whistle. Make it against the rules. Stir something up. Put a wet glove in the other guy's face and rub it. Get the outrage flowing. Get the opponent not thinking about the game, get them thinking about your shenanigans. And what happens? The “victimized” team loses its composure, hitting back. The guy who hits second is always the guy who goes to the penalty box.

Watching Sarah Palin this week, and the reaction to her by both sides, and all the talk of hockey mommery, I realized that this is who she is. She skates into the corner, throws up an elbow, and the Democrats cry: “Foul!” Hey! She said Obama has never passed a major bill – this is an objective lie! Hey! She ridiculed community organizing the day after Service was the theme! Technically people should punish her by not voting for her over this infraction!

It’s whining, and whiners hit back second and go to the penalty box on top of it.

Sarah Palin is a person who by her own admission found out about the Iraq surge – the centerpiece of the McCain judgment argument – from television. Apologies to conservatives, but technically, objectively, inarguably, this alone makes her unqualified to be President. But we don’t live in that technical or objective world. Political campaigns – as distinct from policy and governance – are the NHL playoffs. It’s only about who survives the war of attrition to the finish line first. Is Brett Hull’s skate still in Dominik Hasek’s crease and was that same situation disallowed in every previous instance throughout that season? Yes, but so what? Dallas had a parade.

In the hockey analogy, Palin wouldn’t get within a thousand miles of an NHL All-Star Game because she’s not a scoring talent. She’s a role player, an emotion-rouser. Emotion messes with the chalkboard-drawn game plan and thus achieves a specific strategic objective. She can make game-changing agitation plays that rouse her home team and provoke the other side into counterattacks that – 100% of the time – end up punishing the team who hits back. Democrats would be smart to understand her as such, and I see a lot of reaction that doesn't seem to grasp what Palin is doing and the value she's providing. I see a lot of Democrats taking a lot of bait.

This applies more to Democratic surrogates than it does to the top-ticket duo. Joe Biden had the smart response yesterday – naming the behavior – expecting it, and then riding through without taking the bait:

“It was about how well placed -- and boy she is good -- how a left jab can be stuck pretty nice. It’s about how Barack Obama is such a bad guy.”
And that’s all he says of Palin’s antics. Name the behavior, even praising the skill with which the agitation was attempted, and then back to focus. It's "the economy, stupid."

Finally – is the analogy complete? In the end a great hockey agitator who rouses both sides emotionally (and successfully gets the other team to lose focus) still needs the home team scoring talent to come through. Successful agitator Kris Draper of the Detroit Red Wings had the clutch Steve Yzerman for a lot of years. That worked. Detroit won Cups. They had parades.

Successful agitator Tyson Nash, when he was on my Blues, was stuck with the antithesis of playoff clutch, the easily thrown-off-his-game Keith Tkachuk. That didn’t work. No Cup. Even if Palin is successful in her task of agitation and distraction, which one is John McCain?

Monday, September 08, 2008

NU Re-View: Nebraska 35, San Jose State 12

THE GOOD ...
- 35-12: Ultimately, a win is a win. Sure, last year's Ball State game was a real canary in the coal mine warning of dangers to come. But this is a 23-point win, and because it's a win, it provides the opportunity to right the ship. If possible.
- 1-5: That's San Jose State's touchdown conversion rate in the red zone. The we-can't-call-them-Blackshirts-yet got gashed quite a bit from 20-to-20, particularly early, but they didn't let SJSU convert those opportunities into touchdowns. NU could have very easily been down 21-7 at halftime, and there's a whole different vibe that would have been created if that happened.
- 24: That is Niles Paul's number, and his kick return functionally ended the game. Paul, along with Roy Helu Jr. and Menelik Holt, look to be the real play-makers on offense. If Nebraska is going to have better success offensively this season, a lot will depend on these guys.

THE BAD ...
- 353: As in the Spartans' total offense against Nebraska. SJSU runs a very Missouri-like version of the spread, and Nebraska looked completely flummoxed by it in the first half. There were adjustments made and the defense looked better as the game wore on. But it's still San Jose State coming to Lincoln and putting up 353. What will Missouri do?
- 3: As in three false start penalties. In a row. On different players. I kept watching as the offending player would get shuttled out, a new one shuttled in, and another flag would fly. If that went on much longer, I was waiting for them to get someone from the stands who knows how to stand still until the ball is snapped. (Memo to Shawn Watson - if that comes up, my cell number is ...)
- 99: As in Barry Turner's number, who looks to be lost for the season with a broken leg. Pierre Allen came in and played very well, but now Nebraska is really thin at defensive end. Which is problematic, because DE is the position the defense needs the most right now to generate pressure on opponent's quarterbacks without blitzing.

... AND THE SURVIVAL.
In the end, a win is a win is a win. I don't care what Bo Pelini said in his post-game presser, NU was flat as a pancake coming out for this game. Eventually the outmanned Spartans gave up the ghost in Lincoln, but they had an upset in their hands. If SJSU converts more of those early opportunities into touchdown, or even if they have kickers whose talent doesn't include kicking the ball AT the uprights instead of THROUGH them, we would be talking about "1-1" in the "bad" category.

THE BIG PICTURE
Nebraska showed heart and adaptability, especially on defense, to survive the onslaught. I do think this is the kind of game last year's team would have lost. But, if nothing else, this game should put any lofty expectations for this year's NU squad on ice. If NU puts up that first half effort against Missouri, Texas Tech, or Oklahoma, they'll be on the wrong side of 40. This is a transition year, and to expect anything beyond 7-5 is unreasonable. The crucial thing to watch for this year is what we saw on Saturday - when Pelini's Cornhuskers are faced with adversity, how do they respond? Against SJSU, they passed the test.

THE NEXT OPPONENT
New Mexico State @ Nebraska (-25 1/2): The Aggies bring the Texas Tech version of the spread to Lincoln for a night game. Where last week we saw ex-Arizona coach Dick Tomey, this week we see ex-Kentucky coach Hal Mumme. Mumme is really the architect of the throw-all-the-time spread, which should make for lots of points scored. Again, much like Texas Tech, defense is not the Aggies' strong point. I'd be more comfortable taking the over on this one, but give me the 'Huskers off the belief that Pelini won't let his crew put up two clunkers in a row.

GBR, baby.

Friday, September 05, 2008

NU Re-View: Nebraska 47, Western Michigan 24

THE GOOD ...
- FIRST QUARTER ENERGY: The 'Huskers came out early and took control of the game. After the Winter of Discontent that the program has been through, it was really important to get things established early. Nebraska did just that.
- DEFENSIVE INTENSITY: Game One (OK, OK, technically Game Two) of the Pelini Era had the defense look like you would think a Pelini defense would look. They played fast and aggressive, and at times overly aggressive. The effort is definitely there. Now we need to see if the coaches can rein in that effort to make it smarter.
- WHERE WERE THESE GUYS?: Cody Glenn looked better at LB than anyone Nebraska had on the roster last year. It says a lot about Glenn, and also says a lot about the LB depth that a guy can switch positions in the middle of camp and be the best player at the position. Joe Ganz looked like a playmaker, as well, making things happen with his arm and his legs.

THE BAD ...
- INSUFFICIENT POUNDAGE: Nebraska's running game, particularly power running, was curiously absent from this game. In large part, that was a result of WMU stacking the box and daring Nebraska to throw. Oops. But still, it looked like Offensive Coordinator Shawn Watson does not have enough confidence in the running game to stick with it for extended periods of time.
- UGLY YELLOW THINGS: Western Michigan's first scoring drive was largely set up by foolish penalties against the we-can't-call-them-Blackshirts-yet. That lack of discipline, coupled with the overreaction to play action that burned the safeties throughout the game, shows that the NU defense hasn't yet learned the balance between playing aggressive and playing smart.
- POORLY SCHEDULED FANTASY DRAFTS: I had to listen to the second half on the radio as I did my Man's League fantasy draft. The good part is that I didn't have to listen to the FOX pay-per-view color announcer any more. Worst. Announcer. Ever. The bad part is that I couldn't pay as much attention to the game as I wanted. The worst part is that I'm left with relying on 49ers QB J.T. O'Sullivan as a scoring option. I am SO doomed.

... AND THE DEBUT
Seasons change, and after the Winter of 'Husker Discontent, the Autumn of Pelini is upon us. (I thought the "Fall of Pelini" might not sound right). I was extremely nervous about this game, given that WMU was a legit opponent. Even with the lapses in the second half, a comfortable win over a solid opponent definitely buoys my confidence for the upcoming campaign.

THE BIG PICTURE
Nebraska is 1-0 and filled with confidence. The cliche is that the biggest improvement is between weeks one and two, so we will see on Saturday if the problems against WMU can be corrected or not. The 'Huskers have out-performed expectations to this point, and have a schedule in place to continue to rebuild and repair the program's image.

THE NEXT GAME: San Jose State @ Nebraska (-26 1/2): Dick Tomey brings in his Spartans after needing some last-second heroics to beat UC-Davis. SJSU operates a Texas Tech-style spread offense, putting four and five wides on the field constantly and throwing a bunch. Expect to see NU in a lot of nickel and dime coverages, which actually puts Nebraska's best athletes on the field. NU should be able to move the ball effectively against the Spartans, and SJSU's lack of playmakers on offense should keep the score in check. Take Nebraska, give the points, and expect a four-hour game at minimum with all the passing that will be seen in Lincoln on Saturday.

GBR, baby.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Snark-filled response to the GOP

Interesting article from Roger Simon of politico.com (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0908/13143.html) responding to the lathering the "elite media" received from the GOP to this point in their convention. It's been interesting to see the GOP go back to their old playbook. It's kind of like a Bond movie, in that there's a checklist of things you expect to see. For example:

- Democrats want big government and higher taxes.
- Republicans "know" how to "keep your family safe."
- Going to a good school is somehow a bad thing. So is being smart.
- Lowering taxes cures all ills.
- The "media" is out to get the GOP.

Sarah Palin's speech was chock full of that red meat, and it was delivered very well. But the intensity of the venom coming out of Sarah Barracuda may provoke quite an interesting response, as Simon points out.

------

Why the media should apologize
By: Roger Simon
September 4, 2008 10:50 AM EST

ST. PAUL, Minn. — On behalf of the media, I would like to say we are sorry.

On behalf of the elite media, I would like to say we are very sorry.

We have asked questions this week that we should never have asked.

We have asked pathetic questions like: Who is Sarah Palin? What is her record? Where does she stand on the issues? And is she is qualified to be a heartbeat away from the presidency?

We have asked mean questions like: How well did John McCain know her before he selected her? How well did his campaign vet her? And was she his first choice?

Bad questions. Bad media. Bad.

It is not our job to ask questions. Or it shouldn’t be. To hear from the pols at the Republican National Convention this week, our job is to endorse and support the decisions of the pols.

Sarah Palin hit the nail on the head Wednesday night (and several in the audience wish she had hit some reporters on the head instead) when she said: “I’m not a member of the permanent political establishment. And I’ve learned quickly, these past few days, that if you’re not a member in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone.”

First, we should have stuck to the warm, human interest stuff like how she likes mooseburgers and hit an important free throw at her high school basketball tournament even though she had a stress fracture.

Second, we should have stuck to the press release stuff like how she opposed the Bridge to Nowhere (after she supported it).

Third, we should never have strayed into the other stuff. Like when The Washington Post recently wrote: “Palin is under investigation by a bipartisan state legislative body. … Palin had promised to cooperate with the legislative inquiry, but this week she hired a lawyer to fight to move the case to the jurisdiction of the state personnel board, which Palin appoints.”

Why go there? What trees does that plant?

Fourth, we should stop making with all the questions already. She gave a really good speech. And why go beyond that? As we all know, speeches cannot be written by others and rehearsed for days. They are true windows to the soul.

Unless they are delivered by Barack Obama, that is. In which case, as Palin said Wednesday, speeches are just a “cloud of rhetoric.”

Fifth, we should stop reporting on the families of the candidates. Unless the candidates want us to.

Sarah Palin wanted the media to report on her teenage son, Track, who enlisted in the Army on Sept. 11, 2007, and soon will deploy to Iraq.

Sarah Palin did not want the media to report on her teenage daughter, Bristol, who is pregnant and unmarried.

Sarah Palin thinks that one is good for her campaign and one is not, and that the media should report only on what is good for her campaign. That is our job, and that is our duty. If that is not actually in the Constitution, it should be. (And someday may be.)

The official theme of the convention’s third day was “prosperity,” but the unofficial theme was “the media are really, really awful.”

Even Mike Huckabee, who campaigned for president this year by saying “I am a conservative, but I am not mad at anybody,” discovered Wednesday night that he is mad at somebody.

“I’d like to thank the elite media for doing something,” Huckabee said, “that, quite frankly, I didn’t think could be done: unify the Republican party and all of America in support of John McCain and Sarah Palin.”

And could that be the real point of the attacks on the media? To unify the Republican Party?

No, that is simply the cynical, media view.

Though as Lily Tomlin says, “No matter how cynical I get, it’s just never enough to keep up.”

I couldn’t resist that. For which I am sorry.