March 6th, 2008


How Obama can Win

1. You can take apart Clinton's "35 Years of Service." Most of her professional life before entering the Senate was working as a corporate lawyer, which is hardly what I would call 'fighting for the American people.' While being First Lady of Arkansas and the USA give you a unique view of the job of Chief Executive, it's not actual job experience. Her voting record in the Senate is a rich source of examples of careerist politics trumping "fighting for the American people." In fact, Hillary Clinton's biggest concern in everything she's done politically and professionally comes down to what's good for Hillary Clinton.

2. Find new ways of saying things. Part of what led to doing so poorly in the primaries March 4th is message fatigue -- Obama is no longer shiny and new. It's like being a stand-up comedian -- as long as you're an up and comer, you can recycle material in each new city, but once you're on national television, you burn through new material. Don't be afraid to get edgy. Stop using the 'They say' rhetorical device, that shit is worn out.

3. Channel some anger, especially at the Clinton campaign. This has to be done delicately, so as not to seem like a whiner, but Obama is running a campaign based on idealism and the work of dedicated volunteers. At the volunteer level, I'm sure Clinton's campaign has plenty of sincere people, but as near as I can tell, nearly every paid position in her campaign is filled with an amoral douchebag. Find ways to show how the Clinton campaign is a bunch of hacks top to bottom.

4. Kill the Rezko issue dead. Google 'Rezko unanswered question' and come up with succinct answers. Make clear that the friendship was personal, and not connected at all with Rezko's legal problems. Make clear that Obama did nothing in any official capacity on Rezko's behalf. Point out that being someone's friend doesn't make you responsible for their actions, especially when you're not aware of those actions.

5. Run the Pennsylvania campaign as an insurgent. Spend as much time there in person as possible. Put sweat equity into winning. The staff and volunteers can only do so much. Schedule events precisely in the areas where support is likely weakest. Have high profile meetings with whomever seems like a leader in Hillary's constituency. Campaign in the whole state, not just Philly and Pittsburgh.

6. If you're going to buy commericals, sharpen them up. You don't need to go directly negative on Hillary, but make your ads tough, and aimed at the issues important in Pennsylvania.

Weather Is Happening

Weather Is Happening is a band from Wichita, though members of the band have ties to Iowa City as well. They played at The Picador in Iowa City Tuesday March 4th in a stellar lineup of bands you've never heard of -- Foul Tip (2/3 of The Tanks), Dimas Lemus, and Lwa.

Weather Is Happening is fronted by Dan Davis, whose older brother Matt Davis was the prime mover in the band Vida Blue/Ten Grand, a much loved local band with a regional following. Matt died of an aneurysm a few years ago. I'm sure Dan probably doesn't always want to be compared to Dan, but he's every bit as brilliant. Dan used to front a straight edge band, but said that WIH is a lot more 'fun.'

Live recording

WIH is a staggeringly, searingly loud band, but their songwriting is top-notch for the style. There's an obvious Husker Du influence, but they're also a bit math-rocky without being annoying about it. They manage to be monumental and elegiac. They seem to find something of great reverence to worship in their big amps and arrays of stomp boxes.

I don't know if there's a band like this in every city or if WIH is as special as they seem to me because I lead a sheltered life. Being a midwestern chauvinist I like to think there's something unique about Iowa and its surrounding states -- bands like WIH find a middle way between the careerist cynicism you find on the West Coast or the assholes on the make atmosphere you'll find in NYC. They're the sort of band who devotes enormous energy, inspiration and hard work to their music, and you'll find them out on tour in a crummy van, playing for beer, gas money and a warm floor to crash out on.

But hearing people like this do their thing is pure excitement for me. They won't probably ever be major-label famous -- their music is too loud and messy. They'd make the teenagers on TRL cry. But I believe they'll earn the respect and appreciation from a more discerning audience.