Saturday, May 17, 2008

Art Meets Politics

Shepard Fairey put his street-art sensibility to work for his candidate of choice, in hopes of "appealing to a younger, apathetic audience." (By Jonathan Alcorn For The Washington Post)

I love these Obama posters, partly because they bring to mind the graphic political posters of the 30s and 40s. Some examples: here, here, and here.

Compare the reception these posters have gotten to a similar attempt to bring back an old style. The Martin Luther King Memorial commissioned a Chinese sculptor to create a statue of MLK for the memorial. (So perfect in our current world of outsourcing, the statue is being created in China, by a Chinese artist - from Chinese granite.) Here's his vision in process:

That statue says "Lenin" or "Mao" to me, not Martin Luther King. It is 28 feet tall, and begs to be turned over in the city square after the government is overthrown. Definitely social realism style, propaganda style, having no relation to the actual person being portrayed. (Did you ever see MLK standing with his arms crossed?) Whereas the Obama poster, while stylized, seems to capture the man rather than trap him in an outmoded art form.

Martin Luther King deserves better. Maybe Shepard Fairey could design his statue?

WaPo: Obama's On-the-Wall Endorsement

All political art is propaganda (that is the point), but most political posters are bland, forgettable, wallpaper, like Fred Thompson on an off day. [Artist Shepard] Fairey wanted something more iconic -- aspirational, inspirational -- and cool. In other words, he wanted to make posters that the cool cats would want. The 2008 Democratic primary season equivalent of the Che poster (with all that implies). More Mao, more right now. The kind of poster that might make its way onto dorm room walls of fanboys. The kind of poster that might sell on eBay, as a signed Fairey Obama recently did, for $5,900. He wanted his posters to go viral.

"I wanted strong. I wanted wise, but not intimidating," Fairey says of the look for his Obamas. The agitprop pop art has become a must-have accessory among a certain subset of the candidate's supporters, who have gobbled up more than 80,000 of Fairey's posters and 150,000 postcard-size stickers since Super Tuesday.

Shepard Fairey on the creative choices behind his Barack Obama poster.

Hans von Vote Suppressor Steps Down

San Francisco Chronicle: FEC nominee withdraws name

President Bush's contentious nominee for the Federal Election Commission removed his name from consideration Friday, potentially ending a lengthy stalemate that had paralyzed the work of the agency.

Hans von Spakovsky, a former Justice Department official who never had Democratic support to win confirmation, withdrew his nomination, saying it was time for the protracted deadlock to end.


Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., welcomed von Spakovsky's withdrawal. Democrats have charged that von Spakovsky tried to suppress voter participation through new restrictions such as voter identification laws and voter roll purges.

"Democrats stood united in their opposition to von Spakovsky because of his long and well-documented history of working to suppress the rights of minorities and the elderly to vote," Reid said. "He was not qualified to hold any position of trust in our government."

Why he had to go (short version, via Talking Points Memo, go there for links to supporting articles):

To remind you of some of the lowlights of Spakovsky's career at the Justice Department: his attempt to disenfranchise thousands of voters in Arizona singlehandedly (and then his false testimony to Congress about that), his petty attempts to retaliate against Department employees who did not agree with his legal philosophy (and his contested testimony about that), and his advisory letters that led to restrictive voter roll policies in a number of states.

Good News

Boston Globe: Ted Kennedy conscious, talking, after hospitalization for seizures

Get well Senator Kennedy.

Celtics Get Robbed

Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers argues a call with referee Joe Forte during the first quarter in Game 6 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinals against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday, May 16, 2008, in Cleveland.
(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

The Celtics lost to the Cavs in Game 6 in Cleveland last night. The officiating crew of Dick Bavetta, Joe DeRosa, and Joe Forte were horrid, with their execrable work culminating with a series in the last minute where they called Paul Pierce for an offensive foul when LeBron James was not set -- his feet were in the air -- and then a blatant non-call on offensive goaltending against Ray Allen. Not that the Celtics played all that well, but the poor officiating made it impossible for the Celtics to come back from a 5-point deficit in the final minutes.

Why is Dick Bavetta still officiating in the NBA? The man is 68 years old, for crying out loud. He can't even beat Charles Barkley in a footrace anymore. Does he have naked pictures of David Stern in his safe deposit box? He needs to retire.

Boston Globe: Visitors charged up over last-minute call

CLEVELAND - At times it felt like the Celtics had eight opponents on the floor last night instead of five.

Boston not only lost Game 6 to Cleveland, 74-69, but got the wrong end of the whistle, too. The Celtics were called for 25 personal fouls, while the Cavaliers got 16. Boston also shot just 13 free throws to 25 for the Cavaliers, including 15 by LeBron James.

Bleacher Report: Celtics-Cavs: Garnett, Boston Can't Overcome LeBron, Officiating

That was, by far, the worst, most embarrassing performance by an officiating crew in the history of the NBA.

The only thing that comes even close is when they decided to give Dwayne Wade a few games in the NBA finals a few years ago.

LeBron James had more free throw attempts than the entire Celtic team. Which would have been okay—if the Celtics weren’t taking the ball to the hoop. But they WERE.

Paul Pierce couldn’t buy a call. Taking the ball to the hoop and drawing contact did nothing to help him.

I understand that Glen Davis is a rookie, but he was fouled seven times and didn’t make it to the line once. He was MUGGED under the hoop. Yet no call.

Kendrick Perkins was thrown off the spot when attempting a defensive rebound, no call. Yet he was constantly called on the other end for minimal contact.

I’m not rational right now.

I was ready to blast the Celtics for losing on the road again, or praise them for finally getting over the road hump.

But what I witnessed was not a basketball game. It was a WWE event, where they had a scripted outcome designed to build up the next episode, which is Game Seven in Boston on Sunday.

LeBron James is hard enough to beat by himself. He doesn’t need help.

Then he has the nerve to complain CONSTANTLY in the second half? Are you kidding me? He’s the most unenjoyable superstar since Reggie Miller. And unenjoyable isn’t even a word.

The NBA is broken. Completely and utterly broken. Refs Give Cavs an Assist, Force Game Seven

Manny Being Manny, Part Deux

A compilation of great Manny moments, from ESPN's Baseball Tonight:

Senator Kennedy Hospitalized

Cape Cod Times: Sen. Kennedy falls ill; taken to Boston hospital by helicopter

Senator Kennedy was taken by ambulance to Cape Cod Hospital at 8:30 this morning; two hours later he was medivac'ed to Mass. General Hospital. The photographs in this Cape Cod Times article appear to show a bag-valve mask being used to assist in breathing; never a good sign.

I always think of Ted Kennedy as "Uncle Ted" which is what a friend who worked for him as a staffer used to call him. He's been my Senator my entire voting life. Hang in there Uncle Ted.

Senator Kennedy had successful surgery for a partially blocked neck artery in October.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Obama Responds

Highlights (via dailykos):

.....exactly the kind of appalling attack that's divided the country and that alienates us from the world.....

If George Bush and John McCain want to have a debate about protecting the United States of America, that is a debate that I'm happy to have any time, any place, and that is a debate that I will win because George Bush and John McCain have a lot to answer for.

USWNT Looking Good

The United States' Natasha Kai (6) celebrates with teammate Carli Lloyd, left, after scoring a goal against Canada during the second half of an international friendly soccer match at RFK stadium in Washington Saturday, May 10, 2008. The United States won 6-0.
(AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)

Coach Mom & I saw the USWNT crush Canada 6-0 at RFK Stadium in DC on Mother's Day weekend. A hat trick from Natasha Kai, great work by Abby Wambach, fantastic passing and possession. In general, more of the beautiful game that the US women haven't played since the departure of "the old bags" and the ascension of the reviled Greg Ryan. Here are some videos & reports of the action:

And on the Today show the following Monday:

SoccerAmerica: USA smashes Canada in Concacaf rematch

ESPNSoccerNet: U.S. continues stunning progress under Sundhage

WaPo: Kai Nets Hat Trick For U.S. Women
Tuneup Turns Into Rout in 2nd Half: United States 6, Canada 0

USAToady: U.S. women blank Canada 6-0 behind Kai's hat trick

Washington Times: Kai, USA Have Their Way

President Stupid Campaigns for Obama in Israel

Bush addressed the Israeli Knesset yesterday and accused Obama of appeasing terrorists. He compared Obama's intent to conduct diplomacy with enemies as well as friends to Neville Chamberlain's (and France and Italy's) decision to cede part of Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany in 1938.

President Stupid, C+ Augustus himself, a legacy admission and hard partier, apparently missed the part of his Ivy League education where "appeasement" and "diplomacy" were defined:

Appeasement, literally: calming, reconciling, acquiring peace by way of concessions or gifts...
Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or states.

Talking does not mean giving away gifts or concessions. Apparently President Stupid missed that distinction. So did John W. McSame, 5th from the bottom of his class at the Naval Academy, also a legacy admission (son and grandson of admirals) and hard partier. "[McSame] used the opportunity to argue again that Obama's willingness to negotiate shows he is naive and inexperienced in the ways of foreign policy."

Yeah, negotiation would be a terrible course. Foolish warmongering has been working out so well for the past eight years. Not that Private Plane McCain has had to pump gas since he married Multimillionaire Heiress Cindy McCain 25 years ago.

Of course, McCain was for talks with Hamas in 2006. Before he decided to throw all his previous positions into the wind to get the Republicans nomination for President, he had this exchange on Sky News:

Two years ago, just after Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary elections, I interviewed McCain for the British network Sky News's "World News Tonight" program. Here is the crucial part of our exchange:

I asked: "Do you think that American diplomats should be operating the way they have in the past, working with the Palestinian government if Hamas is now in charge?"

McCain answered: "They're the government; sooner or later we are going to have to deal with them, one way or another, and I understand why this administration and previous administrations had such antipathy towards Hamas because of their dedication to violence and the things that they not only espouse but practice, so . . . but it's a new reality in the Middle East. I think the lesson is people want security and a decent life and decent future, that they want democracy. Fatah was not giving them that."

Joe Biden has been all over the airwaves skewering President Stupid and defending Obama. Perhaps auditioning for Secretary of State? He's looked good on this issue, but I cringe remembering his clumsy questioning of Supreme Court nominees Roberts and Alito, or the dozens of times he pronounced we had "one last shot" at getting it right in Iraq.

Hillary also stepped up nicely in defense of the opponent who has vanquished her. (Word is that Clinton advisers are planning her exit strategy. Making with nice with Obama and attacking McCain are an excellent way to start. In the same vein, she also stated yesterday that voting for McCain over Obama would be a "terrible mistake". No kidding.)

It will be nice to have a smart President again. Please God let our long national nightmare, George W. Bush, be history in November.

NY-20 Has New Democrat

Schenectady Daily Gazette: Henry Nelson Gillibrand

Albany Times-Union: An amendment for Gillibrand family
Congresswoman gives birth to her second child, Henry, after marathon committee session

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand became the sixth lawmaker to have a baby while serving in Congress when she gave birth to her second son Thursday morning.

Henry Nelson Gillibrand was born between 5 and 6 a.m. at Bethesda Naval Hospital in suburban Maryland, according to the congresswoman's office. Birth stats: 7 pounds, 14 ounces, 20 inches long.

Congratulations to the Gillibrands on the new baby!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Cali Catching Up With Massachusetts

Supreme Court of California

NYTimes: California Supreme Court Overturns Gay Marriage Ban

Here's the actual opinion (pdf): In Re MARRIAGE CASES [Six consolidated appeals]

Manny Being Manny

Our crazed genius of left field, v. the Baltimore Orioles yesterday, with a put-out, a high-five with a fan in the stands, and an assist. All in the same play! The Manny triple play. Watch the video all the way through for the scene of his teammates watching the replay in the dugout and cracking up: