Saturday, February 23, 2008

Talk About Getting a Grant

So a mall in Glendale, New York has decided to take its own steps to improve consumer confidence and convince people to start spending money again. In what is probably one of the more entertaining ways of injecting money into a sagging economy the Atlas Park Shopping Mall is handing out 400 $50 bills for a total of $20,000. If only they'd do that at the Grove....

Monday, February 18, 2008

A short poem: Sderot

alone, surrounded, by six million ears
at home, but hounded, by everyone's fears,
a tone is sounded, but nobody hears,
the ground is pounded, and washed clean with tears.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Humor from Israelity/israelity bites

From (though they found it on israelity bites). If you don't get it, you haven't been to Israel yet:
A nerdy guy is sitting in the bar in departures at Ben Gurion Airport. A gorgeous woman walks in and sits down at the table next to him. He decides because she’s that pretty, she’s probably an off-duty flight attendant. So he decides to have a go at picking her up by identifying the airline she flies for, thereby impressing her greatly.

He leans across to her and says the Delta Airlines motto ‘We love to fly and it shows’. The woman looks at him blankly. He sits back and thinks up another line.

He leans forward again and delivers the Air France motto ‘Winning the hearts of the world’. Again she just stares at him with a slightly puzzled look on her face.

Undeterred, he tries again, this time saying the Malaysia Airlines motto ‘Going beyond expectations’.

The woman looks at him and says ‘What the f**k do you want?’ ‘Ah!’ he says, sitting back with a smile on his face. ‘El-Al’.
I miss Israel...

It's about time

No, unfortunately this post isn't about clocks or watches or anything to do with measuring time (though I promise to use this title again when eventually I find a good article on such a topic).

I'm referring to something entirely more practical. In this case Israel's decision to finally (thus the title) stage a real incursion into Gaza. I'm tired of reading stories like the one referenced, learning about another young Israeli protecting his homeland "seriously wounded by a gunshot wound to the shoulder during an operation in the southern Gaza Strip." What's worse is he was one of the best of the IDF a member of the elite General Staff Reconnaissance Unit (Sayeret Matkal).

The problem in Gaza is exactly what Defense Minister Barak says it is, namely the lack of any real exit strategy after a major incursion. At the same time however, he's been honest from the start that "a major incursion in Gaza is inevitable."

The article goes on to talk about the comments of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni (who I wish was running the whole country) who has "called for the deployment of such a force numerous times in recent months."

Olmert, as usual, is downplaying the situation.
"I think that this is being done correctly, prudently and responsibly," Olmert said. "This may not always be loved but it is an important part of counterterrorist activity."
Saying such action "won't be loved" is putting it lightly. I don't think anyone reading the J-Post needs to be reminded what most of the world's citizens, especially those not constantly under siege think of Israel's only realistic option in fighting terror.

The final bit of the article actually surprised me at first, but thinking about it, the way in which it's put conveys the true tragedy of the situation.
Also Sunday, a rocket hit next to a home in Sderot. No one was injured but several people were treated for shock.
Think how differently that would be written if the same thing happened in Los Angeles and it was the L.A. Times and not the Jerusalem Post writing about it.

Good artists borrow...

I liked this post over at Of Ignorance so much I figured I'd link to it so the three of you who actually read this would check it out. It's about a major art theft in Switzerland last week.

Response: "An Undemocratic Democrat Candidate?"

In an attempt to get an ongoing dialog between myself and the other bloggers whom I regularly keep up on, I decided that when I wanted to respond in detail to someone else's post, I'd leave a short comment and a link to my own.

My friend over at Politosaurus Rex seems to think superdelegates are a new invention designed to thwart the will of the voters:
I will be personally outraged if the party that ideally represents the common man in America turns to the politically elite to choose their candidate. And if they do vote against the winner of the popular vote, they obviously do not know "what it takes to get elected" in this country and we could very well end up with a Republican president yet again.

First off, as I said in my comment on Rex345's blog, superdelegates have been around since 1980, and so when Rex345 says:
The Democratic Party recently instituted the notion of superdelegates...
it's clear Rex has a different definition of recent than I do. Superdelegates were a response to the mess of the 1968 convention, and have been around since 1980.

My own intellectual snobbery aside, what I'm curious about is how much of a margin Rex345 would need either candidate to have in order for it not to be kosher for the "political elite" to make up their own minds.

There are three sets of numbers that everyone will be talking about as we get closer to June 7th and Puerto Rico's caucuses: states won, delegates won, and votes won. Obviously, the candidate running first in pledged delegates will have a strong argument that he or she is the most deserving of the nomination. The problem arises if that person is not the winner of the popular vote, or is, but won less states. Now, all of this is irrelevant if the margin in delegates is large enough that people overlook the other two categories.

But if Obama and Clinton are virtually tied (less than 25 apart) in terms of pledged delegates, does the winner go to who got more popular votes, who won more states, or, as it should in my mind, who the delegates at the convention believe will best represent their party?

This is the issue I have with the whole notion Rex345 raises. The conventions have been a way for parties to choose their nominees since the 1800s. True, we've gotten more democratic about the process, but when push comes to shove, especially in the Democratic delegate selection process, should the will of party insiders count less than that of independent voters who were a huge factor in choosing the pledged delegates? The point of a party is that it's supposed to stand for something. It has a platform, which, while some candidates do their best to run away from, still expresses the basic beliefs of that group of people.

The superdelegates are not chosen by a random process. They are the democratically chosen Democrats who serve as leaders in the Democratic party throughout the country. Their job is to represent us in government, and if they're competent enough to make those decisions for us every day, it makes little sense to me why Rex345 wouldn't trust them to make a political decision when it really counts. If you don't like how California's superdelegates made their choice, do what you'd do normally...don't vote for them next time.

Blogger + Google Reader = Happy Commenting

So to my fellow bloggers who haven't yet mastered the art of using all the wonderful tools available for keeping track of what others are writing and snarking at them in response, Google Reader is extremely helpful. Using Google Reader, I can catch up on new posts as they happen, and use Reader's widgets to show on Political Math all the new comments made by my friends.

If you're using Blogger then you've got a Google Account, and if so, you can go straight to and add each of the blogs you want to keep track of. Just put in the web address of the blog, and Reader will figure out how to correctly spider it to give you updates as they happen. For those of you who want easy access to just the Roundtable posts, feel free to use this link, which will take you to a shared page I set up through Google Reader with just the Roundtable posts.

Also, you may notice I've added Adsense at the top of my blog in a futile attempt to begin paying off my college loans. If you want to go through the hassel of signing up (I'm honestly doing this just to see how long it takes me to make a buck off this site) feel free to ask for help in the comments section.

Finally, I've added Trackbacks support thanks to (Credit to Andrew Beacock for a primer on this) It's quick, painless, and for non-blogger blogs, makes it possible to let people know when you've snarked them.

Just like getting into Gaza

So as my friends and I were waiting to get into the Subliminal concert last night, I, in what was probably the worst possible joke of the night (save for any made by the headliner, since it was Israeli rap and I don't speak a word of Hebrew), made a remark about the long wait to get into the hall.

And while my remark that "Checkpoints take time" was probably in bad taste, it was still pretty funny.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Kristol Klear: Obama’s Path to Victory

Once again, a short commentary on Bill Kristol's op-ed in the Monday NY Times (thanks to my friend Micah for giving me the text to work off of, my browser for reasons passing understanding can't access the site)

Kristol's absolutely right in his analysis of what's about to come on Tuesday (not that he's the only one saying it):
Obama leads Clinton by roughly 70 delegates among about 2,000 chosen so far in primaries and caucuses. (There are still about 1,200 delegates outstanding.) Among the superdelegates, Clinton is ahead by about 100 superdelegates among the 300 who have declared a preference (though any of them can change their mind, so a count of them now is in large measure premature). All in all, Clinton seems to be slightly ahead.

She won’t be for long. On Tuesday Obama is expected to prevail in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. So around 9 p.m. Tuesday night, television networks probably will be announcing, for the first time, that Barack Obama holds an unambiguous delegate lead.

The bigger question is where does that leave Clinton, who in spite of the money she bragged about raising after her five million dollar loan became public is still likely strapped for cash?
Clinton’s campaign believes Ohio and Texas will constitute her firewall. Will it hold?

I suspect not.
My friend Micah, who's a Clinton supporter is telling me that Kristol is wrong, that he thinks Clinton's comeback will be in Wisconsin, though he admits:
if she can win wisconsin and use that momentum to take ohio and texas, she's the frontrunner going into spring break
if obama sweeps through march 10, this race is probably over.
Kristol agrees.
Obama will have momentum. He will likely have more money than Clinton for advertising. His ballot performance among Hispanics and working-class whites has generally been improving as the primary season has gone on. He intends to push a more robust economic message that could help him further narrow the gap among lower-income voters.

And an interesting regression analysis at the Daily Kos Web site ( of the determinants of the Democratic vote so far, applied to the demographics of the Ohio electorate, suggests that Obama has a better chance than is generally realized in Ohio.
Either way, this next week should be a lot of fun.

On a personal side note, the USC Undergraduate Student Government election is going on, and i'm working for the Presidential ticket of Jens Midthun and Tony Jercinovich. Voting is the 19th - 21st of this month, and if one Presidential race isn't exciting enough, for the next ten days or so, i've got two going on...

from stress management

quote from an interview I did: (prospective hire) absolutely, I would never ever allow students to have cell phones on in my class...five minutes later his cell goes off

Heard in the elevator (mobile post)

girl on her cell: He's a walking google...he knows every fucking thing in the world.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A not so creative discussion

So I decided last week to start checking out the blogs of my classmates, (Google Reader is especially useful for keeping up to date), and I came across this post talking about why one writer was going to "Grudgingly Vote for Obama." His explanation caught my attention:

(Question from a previous comment):Why do you view Obama as evil? (as in "lesser of the evils"). Also if you don't mind, could you explain to me what the general political trend of Muslim Americans is?
There is one key issue in particular that Muslims are constantly thinking about...that of the Palestinians. In short, the horrible humanitarian crisis that has been caused by Israel's collective punishment type of thinking is unacceptable.

I replied to the post, objecting to the idea that Israel believes we should punish the people in Gaza and the West Bank for the actions of terrorists. As I explained:
Israel lacks any good options in dealing with guerrilla terrorism, and so, left only the only bad ones, it chooses to err on the side of keeping its people alive. When palestinians stop sheltering people they know to have committed terrorist acts, and when the PA stops paying the families of suicide bombers who are killing innocent Israeli citizens, then we can talk about whose side is really trying to avoid promoting collective punishment.
I got an anonymous reply (the irony was palpable) explaining what the true reason for our current situation was:
For the record, nothing is going to move forward in that region until the Jews learn the real lessons of the Holocaust and they quit electing bloodthirsty war criminals like Ariel Sharon to the post of prime minister.

The first Senator since 1960

With Romney's withdrawal from the race, the next president will be the first since 1960 who was not a Governor or VP (current or former). Now, Hillary Clinton was First Lady, and sure, that may throw off the whole "a senator can never get elected because of their voting record" logic, but considering she'll be saddled with eight years of presidential policies as well as eight years of senate votes, it's probably a wash. Either way, it looks like a member of the most exclusive club in American is finally gonna become president.

Meet The Press: Huckabee is here to stay (sorta)

Well, it looks like Mike is going to stick it out after all. Unlike Romney who said after he imploded on Super Tuesday said he was still thinking it over, Mike made it clear then, and confirmed today, that until JMC gets the magic number, he's going to give the voters of Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania a choice. He did well yesterday, lets see how he does this coming week in Virginia and Maryland...
Can Obama sweep the chesapeake contests? If he does, is he the nominee?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Romney Suspends Campaign

Ha ha ha, Ha ha ha! Here's to a McCain-Huckabee ticket! I'm listening to Rush now...I had to steal my roommate's alarm clock to listen to the radio cause I lent mine to a friend...goes to show that in an age of laptop computers, wifi, and the internet, the $10 alarm clock is the only way I can listen to the radio...
Correction, I found a stream from 640 AM on their website:
It seems the consensus after conservative talk radio's recovered from their morning political hangover that McCain will offer Huckabee the nod, get this over early, and leave time for Hill-dog and Obama to bloody eachother all the way to the convention...

Addition: 11:20 AM
"I'm a grown up, I'll support McCain at the end of the day..." -Bill Kristol on Fox News, Feb. 7th.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

McCain, Huckabee, and Rush

The CW from last night is that Senator McCain will be the Republican nominee after he sews up the next few contests. Bill Whalen, a former speech-writer for Governor Wilson and now a fellow at the Hoover Institution (personal note: Whalen was a consultant on a campaign I worked on in 2004) in a piece on the race, described the rather foul mood of most mainline GOP commentators with the prospect of McCain being the nominee, but went farther in discussing what certain pundits will think of Huckabee's resurgence, especially if Romney drops out:
After the delegate dust settles, Whalen said that if it is no longer a McCain-Romney race but a McCain-Huckabee race, then "somewhere, Rush Limbaugh's head is probably exploding."
Can somebody send me a picture when it happens?