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Monday, June 30, 2008
 
I Will Not Be Pushed, Filed, Indexed, Stamped, Briefed, Debriefed Or Numbered, Part 2
We've talked about the groovy 60's TV series The Prisoner before, and while a number of attempts have been made to reboot the series for a modern audience (in the 90's Clive Owen was slated to play the starring role) now it seems as though it will really happen. The new series will reportedly be produced by ITV and star James Caviezel and Ian McKellan.

Just to whet your appetites, here's a bit from the pilot episode of the original series:


 
There's Something About Emma


I've always been somewhat smitten with British actress and director Emma Thompson, and her responses to a questionnaire in Vanity Fair remind me why:

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Cleanliness.

What is it that you most dislike? Bigotry.

On what occasion do you lie?To get out of going to things.

What do you dislike most about your appearance? Dimply thighs.

What is the quality you most like in a man? Uxoriousness.

Read the whole thing here.


 
Same Old City, Sassy New Address

If you're a frequent visitor to The Lost City, you might consider bookmarking our sexy new address: www.thelostcity.org.

You can still get here by laboriously typing out the unfashionable blogspot.com address, but please. Don't punish yourself.


Friday, June 27, 2008
 
Sweet, Sweet Revenge

Interesting bit here from Jane Hamsher's interview with rogue presidential candidate Bob Barr.

Back in the Bad Old Days, of course, Bob was one of the Republican impeachment managers going after Bill Clinton. Now he's threatening to do to the Republicans what Ralph Nader did to the Democrats in 2000.

Watch Jane's face as Bob describes how Bush is worse than Clinton ever was. She's lovin' it!


 
Paging Doctor Freud
Jonah Goldberg reaches for an all-too-telling analogy:

Have you ever had a boss who treated you like a child, second-guessed you, reworked whatever you did so that you felt no ownership of the final product? As a result, did you take your job less and less seriously precisely because you knew that whatever you produced wouldn’t really be yours anyway?

Well, Jonah does work for the National Review, so....

Thursday, June 26, 2008
 
Baby Come Back

After four long years, my first love is returning to me.

My first love: a 1940s-era Underwood Master typewriter.

I bought it at a yard sale in high school - probably my junior year, which would have made it 1981 or '82.

Most of the dreck I wrote in high school rolled out of that machine; and went I went to college I took the old Underwood along with me. I still remember the laughter and the hoots of derision from other students as I carried that 40-pound hulk down the hallway of my dorm the first time.

But I didn't care. That machine and I understood each other. We were a team.

Eventually I left the Underwood at my Dad's house where it remained until the old man moved out of his house a few years ago. At that time I shipped it off to Albuquerque, to a man recommended to me as an old typewriter pro. He was going to do a complete cleaning and repair of my old friend: I felt I owed it that much.

But the guy ended up flaking out on my typewriter: he first estimated that the job would take three weeks, then four, then six, then twelve; then he stopped returning my phone calls or answering my emails. I began to believe that I'd never see my Underwood again.

But persistence pays, I suppose. After threats of bad publicity, lawsuits and physical violence the guy relented. For the last few days I've been watching the UPS tracking site as my typewriter wends its way here: Albuquerque to Oklahoma City; Oklahoma City to Wichita; Wichita to Lenexa; Lenexa to Kansas City; Kansas City to Eagan...

And I hope, Eagan to here tomorrow.


 
Have You Ever Watched A 15-Year-Old Television Commercial From Your Home Computer?

Speaking of prescient television ad campaigns -- and we were -- here's a collection of AT&T's surprisingly accurate "You Will" ads from 1993.

If you haven't seen them since they aired, you might not realize how much they got right.

But you will.


 
Gramercy Press

For some reason or other, I've been thinking about MCI's old "Gramercy Press" campaign.

These were a string of television ads that premiered in the fall of 1994, and followed a gaggle of officeworkers at a fictional publishing house. Through the eyes of the fetching receptionist, Darlene, we meet them: the harried middle managers, the starry-eyed up and comers, the visionary young owner, the vain salesguy, the stodgy old-fashioned curmudgeon. We follow them as MCI's new networking technology transforms their worklives and makes everything easier for everyone.

The novelty of such things as email and internet access seems somehow touching today; as does the ad campaign's heavy-handed attempt to make such modern innovations seem non-threatening to an audience that wasn't used to seeing such things.

Alas, I've been unable to locate anything but the first two 15-second teaser ads online.

But that's a lot more than the denizens of Gramercy Press could have found online in 1994.


 
It's Morning In Equitasia

Courtesy of Strange Maps, here's a look at Thomas Jefferson's first concept in dividing up the Northwest Territories: into ten states, each with fanciful names derived, curiously enough, from a blend of Indian and Latin. Thus we have strangely flavored places like "Michigania", "Chersonesus" and "Illinoia". What is today Minnesota, Wisconsin and the upper penninsula of Michigan would be a rather large state called "Sylvania".

My first thought on seeing this map was that it was the result of an imagined Roman conquest of the New World.

I wouldn't mind living in a fanciful land like Equitasia or Metropotamia, but I have the feeling that Assesnisipia would be the butt of a lot of jokes.

Note that Jefferson created states to honor predecessors Washington and Adams. But he wasn't above sneaking in a state named after himself.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008
 
That Dog Won't Hunt

There's a desperate, uncertain tone in Karl Rove's goofball characterization of Barack Obama, made to ABC News: "Even if you never met him", Rove asserts, "you know this guy. He’s the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by.”

Huh. Really? Not only does this guy not seem like Barack Obama, he seems to have accidentally arrived here from a country club circa 1963: do any upper-crust types smoke cigarettes and drink martinis anymore? I have a mental image of this cad, and he keeps playing Baccarat with James Bond.


But Maureen Dowd puts it best:

Unlike W., Obama doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder and he doesn’t make a lot of snarky remarks. He tries to stay on a positive keel and see things from the other person’s point of view.

He’s not Richie Rich, saved time and again by Daddy’s influence and Daddy’s friends, the one who got waved into Yale and Harvard and cushy business deals, who drank too much and snickered at the intellectuals and gave them snide nicknames....


Conservatives love playing this little game, acting as if the “elite” Democratic candidates are not in touch with people like themselves, even though the guys doing the attacking — like Rove, Limbaugh, O’Reilly and Hannity — are wealthy and cosseted.

Haven’t we had enough of this hypocritical comedy of people in the elite disowning their social status for political purposes? The Bushes had to move all the way to Texas from Greenwich to make their blue blood appear more red.

Conservatives are pressing the same old buttons, hoping for the same old response. I say, let them. It just proves they're underestimating their opponent. I'm hoping they won't catch on until they've lost the game.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
L.A. Times Poll: Obama Up By 12....

....and up by 15, when you factor in Barr and Nader:

Buoyed by enthusiasm among Democrats and public concern over the economy, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has captured a sizable lead over Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) at the opening of the general election campaign for president, the Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg Poll has found.

In a two-man race between the major party candidates, registered voters chose Obama over McCain by 49% to 37% in the national poll conducted last weekend.

It's a long way to the election, but still. Amazing.


 
The Moral Of This Story Is....

Victor Davis Hanson, in lieu of actually having something useful to say, casts McCain as the tortoise and Obama as the hare:

Obama is already playing a sort of 4th-quarter defense. He knows that the more town-halls, and impromptu speeches and interviews, the more likely, given his inexperience and doctrinaire liberalism, he is going to say something that comes off quirky, whether the off-the-cuff rants at fund-raisers like the clingers speech or the latest about "them" going after his middle name and race, or Cartesque lectures about over-eating Americans in SUVs and the apparent utility of high-priced gas, or the flip-flopping on Nafta, the war, campaign financing, Rev. Wright, et al. McCain is the proverbial steady tortoise, Obama the flashy racing hare — the key question being how far exactly are they respectively along the course to the finish line in November?

In the coming months, expect Victor to offer other important historical parallels: McCain as the ant, Obama as the grasshopper; McCain as the country mouse, Obama as the city mouse; and McCain as the hunter, Obama as the hart.


Sunday, June 22, 2008
 
You'll Never Look At Chicken Dance Elmo The Same Way Again

Via Andrew Sullivan, a blogger takes a remarkable look at the mechanized innards of animatronic toys.

Alas, no photo of the innards of my old friend, talking G.I. Joe.


Friday, June 20, 2008
 
An Inconvenient Ending
La Scala is planning to stage an opera based on Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, and John Tierney -- in full snark mode -- imagines the correspondence between the composer, Giorgio Battistelli, and the former Vice President:

....as much as I admire your other idea for an “outside the box” death scene, I cannot accept it — and again, despite your accusations, this has nothing to do with the scientific criticism of your work. Whether your predictions for sea level rise are correct or not, it would be logistically impossible to end the opera by drowning the village under 20 feet of water.

Of course, what Tierney is missing is that drowning the village under 20 feet of water would be a perfect ending for an opera. Operas must end with a massive body count, preferably reached in spectacular fashion. Catalani's La Wally ends with the heroine killed on stage by an avalanche, for God's sake.

I'll admit that La Wally isn't performed much for that reason.

But its most famous aria -- Ebben? Ne andrò lontanais -- is beautiful.

See for yourself.


Thursday, June 19, 2008
 
None Dare Call It Ugly
The weirdest thing about the National Review's endless mawkish tributes to William F. Buckley (besides the cover of their Buckley issue, which had the guy facing left, not right) is their bizarre obsession with "The Red Room", where The Great Man often entertained guests. John Derbyshire, his monocle firmly in place, waxes eloquent:

I shall at least be able to reminisce about sitting in that marvelous Red Room with colleagues and some distinguished dinner guest, listening to Larry Perelman playing a Bach partita and watching Bill totally lost in the music....

Sounds charming, I guess, in a sort of stodgy Victorian way. But to get the full idea of what an evening at Bill Buckley's place is like, take a look at this picture:


Yeesh. Well, at least they wouldn't have had to worry about getting the blood stains out of the carpeting when the guests shot themselves.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008
 
McCain's Maalox Moment

State-by-state polling on a presidential race doesn't usually mean a lot until fall. Nevertheless, the new Quinnipiac poll is out, and I have to imagine it's got Team McCain reaching for the Maalox:

In Pennsylvania, Obama leads by 12 points -- up from 6 last month. His Ohio lead is 6 points -- he had trailed McCain by 4 points before. And then there is Florida, where Quinnipiac has Obama ahead by 4 points. Barack Obama has never before led a Florida poll -- not against John McCain, nor against Hillary Clinton -- so this is something of a watershed moment.

If Florida is in play, then John McCain's defense is completely broken; it was the one traditional swing state that always had looked off-limits to Obama. More frustratingly for McCain, he had spent the better part of three days in Florida earlier this month, hoping to raise doubts about Obama among Jewish voters. Although Quinnipiac does not break out the Jewish vote, Obama holds a 61-31 lead in Southeast Florida, where most of the state's Jewish population is concentrated.

Obama's surprisingly strong lead in Ohio isn't any better news for McCain. As recently as a week ago, McCain's strategy looked pretty simple: target Ohio and Michigan, and hope to win one if not both. But now, Ohio looks tough for him, and even if McCain can steal Michigan, Obama has so many other places he can pick up electoral votes -- Virginia, the Mountain West, Iowa, Missouri and now possibly Florida -- that McCain still might have trouble winning a close election.

I never imagined that winning Florida was a serious possibility for Obama. But if he does manage to win there, you can bet that the most common headline to be found on November 5, 2008 will be "OBAMA LANDSLIDE"

Tuesday, June 17, 2008
 
Hannah Arendt On Marriage

She was one of the most clear-eyed observers of the 20th century, and her voice still needs to be heard today. Here's what she wrote about marriage in 1959 (h/t Andrew Sullivan):

The right to marry whoever one wishes is an elementary human right compared to which ‘the right to attend an integrated school, the right to sit where one pleases on a bus, the right to go into any hotel or recreation area or place of amusement, regardless of one’s skin or color or race’ are minor indeed. Even political rights, like the right to vote, and nearly all other rights enumerated in the Constitution, are secondary to the inalienable human rights to 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness' proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence; and to this category the right to home and marriage unquestionably belongs.

Don't let the crackpots and the mouth-breathing evangelical hypocrites fool you. Equal rights are not "special rights". And attempting to protect your own rights by denying another person theirs is a fool's errand.


Monday, June 16, 2008
 
Dark Mirror

Funny -- I blogged a bit about human/robot sex last week, and look what turns up:
MAASTRICHT, Netherlands (AFP) - Romantic human-robot relationships are no longer the stuff of science fiction -- researchers expect them to become reality within four decades.

And they do not mean simply, mechanical sex.

"I am talking about loving relationships about 40 years from now," David Levy, author of the book "Love + sex with robots", told AFP at an international conference held last week at the University of Maastricht in the south-east of the country.

"... when there are robots that have also emotions, personality, consciousness. They can talk to you, they can make you laugh. They can ... say they love you just like a human would say 'I love you', and say it as though they mean it ..."

Robots as sex toys should already be on the market within five years, predicted Levy, "a sort of an upgrade of the sex dolls on sale now".

These would have electronic speech and sensors that make them utter "nice sounds" when a human caresses their "erogenous zones".

But to build robots as real partners would take a bit longer, with conversation skills being the main obstacle for developers.

Scientists were working on artificial personality, emotion and consciousness, said Levy, and some robots already appear lifelike.

"But for loving relationships -- that is something completely different. In loving relationships there are many more things that are important. And the most difficult of all is conversation.

"You want your robot to be able to talk to you about what is interesting to you. You want a partner who has some similar interest to you, who talks to you in a manner that pleases you, who has a similar sense of humour to you."

I would find this solipsistic vision of the future as being absolutely horrifying if I thought for a moment it could come true. But I don't believe it can.

Because any well-adjusted person would immediately see what the problem is.

It comes down to choice, to self-determination. Levy apparently believes that once you can no longer tell whether or not the robot is simulating emotion, it becomes a moot point.

But it doesn't. The robot that Levy describes has no choice. It must be interested in you. It must be interested in the things you're interested in. It must want to talk about the things that you want to talk about.

That's not a lover, that's a mirror. Sex with such a mechanism, no matter how superficially advanced, would be nothing more than masturbation. And falling in love with it? It's Narcissus staring into the pool.

When the robot starts wanting to talk about things it's interested in, whether you are interested in them or not, then you can talk about love. Until then, you're just good friends.


 
That Father's Day Speech
More evidence -- as if any were needed -- that Barack Obama is the most remarkable political talent of the last half-century. For the last week he's been running circles around John McCain. He tops it off with a Father's Day speech to a black congregation that manages to impress even though we already know what an impressive speaker he is.

In this address he deftly unpacks the issues of historical iniquities, black self-empowerment, black achievement and personal responsibility. No white candidate would dare to say the things Obama is saying here; most black candidates couldn't do it either. It's a virtuoso performance. The only thing more remarkable than Obama's political skill is how easy he makes it all look.

Not only is John McCain not in the same league as Obama, he's not even playing the same game.


Sunday, June 15, 2008
 
Oh Great, Another New Yorker Caption Contest I Won't Win

I'm familiar with Daniel Radosh, but I didn't know he had a blog until Sully linked to it. One feature is his New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest, in which he invites readers to write the most idiotic punchlines they can think of.

The results are a deliciously subversive take on the oh-so-urbane New Yorker cartoons (cartoons that I freely admit to loving dearly).

The cartoon above, for example, yielded several finalists that would never, ever, be allowed into the New Yorker's pages, among them:

--"I really wish we had bought hazmat suits for the kids too. I miss them."

--"How about a glow job?"

--"Not tonight, honey, my suit is filled with shit and piss."

All in good fun.


 
Dear Old Dad

My father is 77, and his life is still a work in progress. All lives are unfinished projects, after all; and all families are too.

But Dad more than most. He had always been a restless guy, never satisfied with what he had, and for his children that made life more interesting, though considerably more difficult.

The picture above was taken in 1972, on the occasion of my sister's First Communion. Dad was an FDA agent at that time, on a secure career track; and he had accrued the things that he thought he wanted out of life: a professional career, a big family, a nice house in the suburbs.

But things were going downhill at this time. My mother's mental disintegration had already begun; and Dad's anger and frustration would manifest itself with repeated attempts to remake his life, and our family found itself in something of a financial death spiral: a failed retail venture, a run-down house in the country, bankruptcy, unemployment and years of grinding poverty.

When I was young I didn't dare to look back at where I came from, but now I realize that the past isn't a trap that you escape from. It is a puzzle that you learn how to solve.

I haven't solved my own puzzle, not yet, but I have learned to love and respect my Dad. And tonight I will call him and wish him a happy Father's Day. And I hope to do so for many years to come.


Saturday, June 14, 2008
 
Meet The New Boss, Same As The Old Boss
In the wake of the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision allowing Guantanamo Bay detainees to challenge their legal status in U.S. courts, Attorney General Michael Mukasey has made clear his contempt for the decision and his unwillingness to abide by it:

The Supreme Court's decision on Guantanamo Bay will unleash a torrent of court filings from detainees seeking their freedom but won't affect the military trials planned for some terrorism suspects, Attorney General Michael Mukasey said Friday.
This makes perfect sense, of course, since what is being planned are show trials for domestic consumption during an election year. DOJ has been thoroughly politicized from top to bottom -- it's nothing more than an extension of the RNC. It will be up to the next president to clear out the political deadwood and restore the department's integrity.

I suspect it's going to take a long time.


Friday, June 13, 2008
 
Escape Clause
Recently, Ross Douthot tried to construct a handy, one-size-fits-all definition of American conservativism:

...A commitment to the defense of the particular habits, mores and institutions of the United States against those socioeconomic trends that threaten to undermine them, and those political movements (generally on the left, but sometimes on the right) that seek to change them radically in the pursuit of particular ideological goals.

Seeing this, Tyler Cowen weighed in with his own amendment to Douthot's definition:

I should not speak for Ross but having read his blog for a while I believe he would prefer a modified definition to allow some of those habits and mores to be judged. Ross circa 1958 for instance need not defend segregation.

"Need not"? What does that mean? What could it be, besides a sort of moral escape clause? It doesn't seem to mean that Ross wouldn't have defended segregation; in fact, it seems likely that if Ross Douthot were a political commentator circa 1958, he would defend segregation -- we can infer this because he is a conservative, and the default position for conservatives in 1958 was to defend segregation.

But Ross, according to Cowen "need not defend segregation". No conservative felt the "need" to to defend segregation. But nearly all of them did anyway.

Which points up the main problem with conservativism as a governing philosophy: it is deaf, dumb and blind. It is an utterly rigid political philosophy that values the old ways regardless of their merit.

I suspect Douthot knows this, and for this reason conservatism, like communism, remains in his mind a sort of elusive perfect idea that has never been tried. As Douthot says about a possible McCain administration:

....it will set up a situation in which the debate over the future of conservatism gets defined as a struggle between McCainism on the one hand and Limbaughism on the other, when both are a poor basis for a viable conservative party in America.

But of course McCain and Limbaugh are exactly what modern conservatism is about.


 
R.I.P. Tm Russert
Tim Russert died today at age 58, apparently of a heart attack.

He had been the host of NBC's "Meet the Press" for 16 years.


 
Friday Robot Blogging

Robot B-9, from the TV Series "Lost In Space". This robot didn't seem to perform any actual duties, except serve as Dr. Smith's straight man and occasionally shout "Danger! Danger!" whenever a meteor storm, giant monster or other obvious danger turned up.

Robbie the Robot, from the 1956 MGM production "Forbidden Planet". Robbie had a bit more to do than Robot B-9, but they also had a lot in common: for one thing, they were both designed by Robert Kinoshita.


This robot from the "Doctor Who" television series had the right idea: stomp around, shout and destroy things. Then agonize about it later to an attractive female. More human than human, you might say!



The idea of having sex with robots goes back to about the time when people started wondering just what the hell robots were supposed to be good for in the first place. After all, robots are supposed to do the jobs people don't want to do, and for people who can't find people willing to have sex with them, the idea of a sexy robot has a lot of appeal.



This is from the cover of a Japanese magazine called "Robot", and it gives you a perfect view of the creepy intersection between two Japanese obsessions: schoolgirls and robots. You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Japan!


 
The First Step Is Denial
We've previously examined what I call the McCain Three-Step: the odd pattern that John McCain falls into when he confronted with a troubling remark that he's uttered in the past.

McCain's first impulse is to angrily deny that he ever said it.

Later, confronted with the evidence that he actually said it, he then says that his remarks were simply taken out of context.

After it is demonstrated that his comments weren't taken out of context, he then says that the situation has simply changed since he made the original accurate-and-in-context statement.

Well, another day, another example.

At a town hall meeting this morning, McCain was asked about his stated desire to privatize Social Security.

McCain, predictably, angrily denied that he had ever advocated privatizing Social Security.

But TPM already has a video up demonstrating that McCain clearly advocated privatizing Social Security -- those were in fact his words -- at a forum in 2004.

Expect McCain to declare the words taken out of context by around 3pm today. The Social Security system will have changed radically shortly before your late local news.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008
 
Off To The Circus
Another reason why Camille Paglia is one of my favorite writers:

Hillary for veep? Are you mad? What party nominee worth his salt would chain himself to a traveling circus like the Bill and Hillary Show? If the sulky bearded lady wasn't biting the new president’s leg, the oafish carnival barker would be sending in the clowns to lure all the young ladies into back-of-the-tent sword-swallowing. It would be a seamy orgy of scheming and screwing.

Interestingly, Paglia seems to think Kansas Governor Kathleen Sibelius would be the Obama's best choice for running mate.

I don't agree. Obama needs someone that the elecorate would find reassuring: someone who's a known quantity, someone whom Obama can trust, and someone who can be the bad cop to Obama's good cop.

I'd been thinking Joe Biden, but maybe Camille Paglia would be a better choice.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008
 
The Bitter End
Matt Yglesias responds to Publius' response to a Richard Cohen column:

In April 1865, [Robert E.] Lee had a fateful choice. Sure, the war couldn’t be won in the traditional sense. But Lee could have turned his battle-hardened army into a guerrilla outfit that could have harassed federal armies for decades. To his eternal credit, he declined to do so. Choosing guerrilla war would have made post-war North/South tensions even more poisonous than they were (with longer lasting effects).

I'm not sure that reflects a correct understanding of the strategic conflict during the Civil War. It's true that in a conventional war of national liberation, this kind of guerilla strategy would be the expected line for the Confederacy to take. But the rebels had a very specific goal in mind -- they seceded from the Union after Lincoln's electoral victory because they wanted to preserve slavery. It's very hard to see, however, how a guerilla strategy could have been consistent with the goal of maintaining slavery or the plantation economy. The strategy Southern elites did pursue, of seeking to re-establish first white control over southern state and local governments (including in the states and counties where blacks were a majority) and then total exclusion of blacks from the political process, was, by contrast, a good way of hanging on to half a loaf.

I think Matt's got it wrong here. It's well-documented that when Lee's exhausted and half-starved army reached Appomattox Station, they found that the Union forces had beaten them there, seizing the supplies that were waiting for them. That left the Army of Northern Virginia with literally nowhere to go. The war was over, and Lee knew it.

But at least some of Lee's officers advised against surrender. The soldiers should take their muskets and walk away, they suggested, melt away into the hills, where they could harrass the Union soldiers indefinitely. But Lee refused.

While historians sympathetic to the so-called "Lost Cause" made this out to be a noble gesture, I think it was actually a matter of practicality. Lee was a practical man, after all, and he failed to see what an extended guerilla campaign would actually accomplish.

And Matt mischaracterizes the goals of the Confederate forces. The slavery issue undergirded the war, without question; but no one fighting in April of 1865 saw slavery as the issue at hand. The Confederates saw secession as a fight for independence, on a par with the Revolutionary War. The Union forces fought to punish the South for treason and disunity.

It's hard to imagine -- actually it's laughable to imagine -- Lee turning to his war council and saying, "Sorry, boys, but our strategic goals of keeping the black man down would be better served by surrendering, then employing draconian Jim Crow laws to impede the progress of civil rights. With a little luck we should be able to confound the wishes of the liberal northerners until the year 2000, 2008 at the latest."


Saturday, June 07, 2008
 
Franken Takes It
It should be no surprise to anyone that Al Franken won the DFL endorsement for Minnesota's US Senate seat today. He was heavily favored all along. His most serious challenger, attorney Mike Ciresi, dropped out after the district conventions. And Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, Franken's only alternative, is a well-meaning guy with no money, no organization, no political experience and no charisma.

Still. The revelations of Franken's unsavory comedic writings from Playboy magazine some 28 years ago brought home to the delegates what a risky choice he is.

But he won on the first ballot, won because of the care that he took in setting up this run in the first place. Franken raised a lot of money and did a lot of stumping for DFL candidates around the state over the last two years: that earned him a lot of loyalty with the base, and in the end he needed it.

And it was not lost on the convention delegates that Nelson-Pallmeyer was a non-starter.

I met Jack at the district convention and I probably came away with the same impression most people did: nice guy, heart is in the right place, but not ready for a run at statewide office.

The guy kicking himself today has got to be Mike Ciresi, a much more credible contender who might be the nominee today if he had hung in there.

It's going to be a difficult five months for Franken. I personally believe that Coleman will pull it out. But I've been wrong before.

Once or twice.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008
 
The Line
Public radio news blogger Bob Collins posted pictures and stories of the people who stood in line for yesterday's Barack Obama rally at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul. The arena can hold 20,000 people; probably three times as many people showed up.

Here's a map that shows where the mile-and-a-half long line stretched across downtown Saint Paul:

Let's see them line up a mile and a half to see John McCain speak. Judging by McCain's weirdly stilted speech last night, I don't think that'll happen anytime soon.



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