Saturday, March 08, 2008

Bonus Code IGGY on Party Poker 

A pleasant foot of snow dropped here in the past day. You know, I don't mind snow when it comes in bunches, it's just the gray, sloppy stuff that I hate.

Sadly, I was ill-prepared for the snow today. Needing two of life's essential items, chocolate and beer, I walked about three miles to the store with my eager frisbee dog. I wish I had brought a camera, it was truly beautiful out.

So while I have a ton to blog about, it shall have to wait for a few. My fantasy baseball league (entering our 15th season!) has our keeper cuts due tonight and I've just been too busy to study yet. So tonight will be full of baseball and beer.

And hey, I actually played in my first BBT poker tourney, on Thursday, thanks to the 9pm start time. And actually final tabled the damn thing, in a game I have zero experience in, PLO hi. And even that tourney went far too long for this old man. I almost fell asleep at the end, finally pushing with some ridiculous hand. So, I don't know, it doesn't seem worth it to even try with the late start times and larger fields. I sure wish we had at least ONE weekend tournament for us folks who are busy and old. We want to have fun, too, damnit.

So stay tuned. Weirdly enough, I discovered my first ever website I built back in 1995. All my old bookmarks, photos, rants etc, from back then. Wow, just wow. There's just so much I had forgotten. And hell, I actually was featured in a shitload of sites back then - Wired, The Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, Mens Health and Fitness, to name a few. It's just funny to look back and ponder it all.

And so, I discovered the photo of me and Bill Clinton from 1979. And yes, I will be posting the first ever photo of me on this humble poker blog.

But for now, let me leave you with this commentary from NY Magazine:


Heilemann: Can Obama Handle the Awakened Media Beast?

So what to make of Monstergate? On the surface, the campaign controversy du jour could hardly be a more straightforward story. A few days ago, Samantha Power, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author and Harvard scholar who served until a few hours ago as one of Barack Obama's top foreign-policy advisers, was quoted by the Edinburgh-based daily The Scotsman heaping scorn on Hillary Clinton: "She's a monster, too — that is off the record — she is stooping to anything … You just look at her and think, 'Ergh.'" This morning, as word of the incendiary indiscretion spread (the story led the Today show) and the fever mounted, a number of congressional Clinton backers demanded that Power resign from the campaign. "It's really a test for Obama," said Representative Nita Lowey of New York, and she was right. For months now, Obama has vowed to fire anyone on his staff who "is involved in trying to tear people down personally,” as he put in December. So Power's exit late this morning was, in a sense, inevitable.

But Monstergate, I think, reflects something deeper: the fact that many of the people around Obama have grown accustomed to, shall we say, a forgiving national press corps. Retroactive declarations of off-the-recordness happen all the time. Whether the journalist confronted with one chooses to let it slide or be a hard-ass is a matter of discretion. How much do you like the source? How much do you need the source? It's fair to say that many people in Obama's circle believe that Clinton is in fact a monster. Many have said something similar to reporters. And this was not the first time one of them slipped up on attribution. But until now, the press, as part of a broader pattern of kid-gloves treatment of Obama, has largely chosen to let those mistakes pass. And that has bred a certain sloppiness — one that, in the case of Power, has now come back to bite them.

This sloppiness is not confined to dealing with the press. Much has been written about the case of Obama's economic guru, Austan Goolsbee, and the Canadians, but it's worth revisiting in the context of Monstergate. In telling the Canucks to pay no attention to his boss' saber-rattling on NAFTA, Goolsbee was being candid and stating the plain truth: Nobody who knows Obama believes for a second that he is anything but a staunch free trader; they know that he has no intention of trashing the trade treaty. But Goolsbee was also being sloppy. And so was the campaign in its ludicrously transparent, transparently ludicrous efforts to mislead the press about what occurred. (The Canadians contacted Goolsbee not in his capacity as Obama's guy on economics but merely as a University of Chicago academic? As Bill Clinton might put it, Give me a break!) The whole imbroglio fairly reeked of an operation that had become accustomed — too accustomed for its own good — to a sleepy, besotted press corps.

By now, of course, it's clear to anyone with two eyes in his head that the kid-gloves days are over for Obama. Suddenly, the press is treating him more like it has handled Clinton since, er, day one. As a front-runner, in other words. The shift in tone and temper is coming as something of a shock to Obamaland, and not least to the candidate himself. In a post a few days ago, I remarked on the somewhat contentious news conference that Obama held last Monday in San Antonio, the one that ended with reporters annoyed at its brevity and Obama saying, plaintively, "C'mon, guys, I just answered, like, eight questions." Last night at dinner with two of the savviest political analysts I know, one of them maintained that this was an utterance infinitely revealing about Obama — the equivalent of "It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is" for WJC or "No controlling legal authority" for Al Gore. I'm not sure I'd go quite that far, but I do believe that it speaks volumes about BHO's mind-set and expectations regarding the national media. (Let’s not forget that Obama himself at first denied that the Goolsbee meeting with the Canadians ever took place.) It also gives off the distinct whiff of arrogance and entitlement that’s lately been emanating from him. Eight questions! OMG! That's, like, three more than I usually answer — and five more than I should have to answer!"

Let's be clear. Few campaigns I've ever covered have been run with as much skill and discipline as Obama's has. His chief strategist, David Axelrod, handles the press with aplomb and savvy. Robert Gibbs, his communications czar, is one tough cookie. But the rest of Obama's adjutants — and the candidate himself — had better get with the program. The Media Beast, after months of blissful slumber, is now awake and as grouchy as an undercaffeinated grizzly bear. And the Clinton campaign has no intention of letting it return to sleep. Unless and until all of Team Obama understand what that means, there are going to be a lot more days like this. Days that end with blood and severed limbs all over the floor. —John Heilemann

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Excellent perspective here:


Let 'em duke it out

The Obama-Clinton drama is good for voters and the Democratic Party. And bad for John McCain.

By Walter Shapiro

Mar. 06, 2008 | The sheer sense of collective befuddlement triggered by Hillary Clinton's political resurrection in Tuesday's primaries has been comic to behold. In the political and media cocoon known as Campaign Land, there is this gape-jawed, little-green-men-just-landed-on-the-front-lawn amazement that this is actually happening. The Democratic Party -- the symbol of disorganization since the days of Will Rogers -- has done it again. With just 172 days to go before the opening gavel of the Aug. 25 Denver Convention, the dithering Democrats have failed to agree on a nominee.

What a misconception. The real problem facing the Democrats is not the failure to achieve consensus nearly six months before the convention. It is that the party has almost completely run out of primaries just as the battle between Barack Obama and Clinton has become the greatest entertainment value since the movies did away with double features. What this means is that there is an unprecedented mismatch between the breathless tenor of cable TV and online political coverage and the pace of actual campaign events. After Saturday's caucuses in Wyoming (as goes Casper, so goes America) and next Tuesday's Mississippi primary, there will be a seven-week interlude (or maybe Quaalude) until the April 22 Pennsylvania primary. How long before even political junkies become weary pondering the mood of Erie?

If a majority of Democratic primary voters in Ohio, Texas and Rhode Island had wanted the nomination fight to end with the coronation of Obama, they had a very simple option -- vote for him in Tuesday's primaries. Instead, the first-term Illinois senator fell just short enough to guarantee that both he and Hillary need to hope they have a friend in Pennsylvania. Tuesday was actually the third time this year that Obama was poised to nail a "cease and desist" notice to Clinton's door only to find himself back on the sidewalk wondering what had happened. The contest might well have been over had Obama won the Jan. 8 New Hampshire primary or had done better than running even in the Feb. 5 Woozy Tuesday primaries. If Barack Obama were performing in a one-man play, critics might rightly wonder whether he had second-act problems.

The Democrats have reached the point where it is ludicrous to suggest that Clinton or Obama or all 795 superdelegates drop out of the race. When there is no clarity, there can be no early conclusion. Obama's 101-delegate lead, according to the Associated Press tally , is not exactly a definitive manifestation of the popular will when 2,025 is the magic number for nomination. While Obama is indisputably ahead, no presidential candidate in modern memory has ever hoisted the white flag at this stage in the campaign with the contest this close. Whether it was Ronald Reagan against Jerry Ford in 1976 or Ted Kennedy against Jimmy Carter in 1980 or Gary Hart seemingly against the world in 1984, the expectation was that even last-ditch battles would be decided at the convention.

But somewhere along the way, presidential politics went from a blood sport to a bland sport. The leaders of both parties decreed that political conventions had to be scripted like an Oscar telecast. The Democrats in 2004 (thank you, Bob Shrum and co.) were so afraid of controversy that they even stripped out most attacks on George W. Bush from the convention program. Small wonder the networks treat the non-news conventions like cheesy summer-replacement series that no one is expected to watch. And having stripped the lifeblood out of once raucous conventions (the Democrats went through 103 steamy ballots in 1924), the next step was to decide on early nominees so that the fall campaign could commence before it was even spring.

Beginning with Bill Clinton in 1992 (who was, to be technical, nominally opposed by Jerry Brown until the California primary), the de facto presidential nominees have all been selected by March at the latest. And a fat lot of good it has done them. Clinton, at one point in June 1992, was running third in the national polls behind both President George H.W. Bush and Ross Perot. In 1996, Bob Dole felt so stymied by Clinton that he resigned from the Senate seat he loved to concentrate on the presidential race. Even though Al Gore had five months before the convention to develop a winning strategy in 2000, he did little during this period to forestall his hanging-chad finale. And not long after a confident John Kerry wrapped up the nomination in March 2004 the first Swift boat attacks appeared -- and went unanswered.

John McCain announced Tuesday that he would be heading for Florida on Thursday to campaign in West Palm Beach. But the problem McCain faces is that he still has a faceless opponent with the Democratic race far from settled. So, in effect, McCain will be shadowboxing against a vague entity called Obama-Clinton. The result is that (just wait and see) McCain will find it difficult to make news since there is no longer any drama to anything that he does until it becomes time to pick a running mate. The Project for Excellence in Journalism, which monitors media coverage, found that last week the Democratic race generated four times the attention of the Republicans. And that news blackout occurred when McCain still had a nominal opponent in Mike Huckabee.

So rather than fantasizing about a soporific and conflict-free nomination fight, the Democrats should recognize the value of what they have stumbled into. The contest between Obama and Clinton -- this battle of historic firsts -- has the entire nation hanging on the edge of their seats. Who with any sense of show business would think of pulling down the curtain when the audience is shouting for more? But, then, if the Democrats had any sense of what the public craved, George W. Bush probably would not be in the White House.

This is simply too outrageous not to blog.

Clinton aide compares Obama to Ken Starr

I guess he's part of the vast right-wing conspiracy, too.


Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson, taking the campaign a bit meta on a conference call today, attacked Obama for attacking Clinton, and compared him to a notorious Clinton foe.

"When Sen. Obama was confronted with questions over whether he was ready to be commander in chief and steward of the economy, he chose not to address those questions, but to attack Sen. Clinton," Wolfson said. "I for one do not believe that imitating Ken Starr is the way to win a Democratic primary election for president."

Wolfson was attacking Obama's explicit strategy, in the wake of his March 4 losses, to attack elements of Clinton's record on the grounds of secrecy, and to revisit the questions raised by Clinton foes in the 1990s and earlier. Obama has demanded Clinton's tax returns, cited delays in releasing her White House schedules, and even made reference to trades in cattle futures in the late 1970s that became a subject of allegations during the White House years.

Wolfson also responded to the substance of Obama's complaint, that Clinton hasn't released her recent tax returns, and to the reminder today that Clinton (via Wolfson) attacked her 2000 Senate rival, Rick Lazio, for failing to release his tax returns.

"Over 20 years of the Clintons' tax returns are part of the public record," he said, referring to their White House years and also to her more recent Senate disclosure forms. "Everyone knows we have made clear that all of the post-White House tax returns will be put out by the campaign on or about tax time — April 15," he said, though he didn't explain why they wouldn't be out sooner.

"As somebody who led the effort to ensure that Mr. Lazio provided his tax returns, certainly at that point he had not provided 20 years of his tax returns to the people of New York," he said.

He also promised the tax returns would be out before the April 22 Pennsylvania primary.

UPDATE: Obama spokesman Bill Burton responds:

It is absurd that after weeks of badgering the media to ‘vet’ Sen. Obama, the Clinton campaign believes that they should be held to an entirely different standard. We don’t believe that expecting candidates for the presidency to disclose their tax returns somehow constitutes Ken Starr-tactics, but the kind of transparency and accountability that Americans are looking for and that’s been missing in Washington for far too long. And if Sen. Clinton doesn’t think that the Republicans will ask these very same questions, then she’s not as ready to go toe-to-toe with John McCain as she claims.

Poker Bloggers and Change 

Aw hell, I forgot to link up Bobby Bracelet's treatise on Change in the poker blogging community from those cold, dark lonely days, when there were only a few dozen of us out there.

But alas, you'll have to go dig it up yourself. For now, I want to point out Bobby's fine political rant on our election:


David Sklansky is Uber Creepy 

A reader reminded me that I didn't post the second alleged email from David Sklansky to Brandi. So here it is.

I'll give you the crib notes on this whole sordid affair, perhaps tonite.

I've blogged many strange things in the world of poker over the past 4 1/2 years but this just about takes the cake.

Sklanksy went from the Mount Rushmore of poker to the King of Perversion. Didn't really take that long, either.

The threats in here are fairly disturbing, as well.

David to Brandi:


I am thinking better.

For instance I realize that "extortion" is the better word than "blackmail".

You are an extortionist. You threatened to hurt me if I didn't do something. That is undeniable. Technically you are also a blackmailer because of your $260 request. And there is little doubt you would have soon asked for a lot more. But I don't want to use a word that you have an argument against.

So every poker player big, or small, that I know, I will tell that you are an extortionist. Who used the plight of a handicapped girl as your weapon.

They will also meet her. So that it will be clear that the relationship is to her
benefit. And that you were not exposing a "wrong". I will also tell then that you are a medicre poker player who will probably try to steal from anyone who stakes you. I will not ask card rooms to bar you. But they well might just do that to please me. Don't think my ignoring you on our site is anything but acquiescing to Mat and Mason. Most of my waking moments are still devoted to you.

You on the other hand can tell people I am a creepy pervert. I can easily show I'm not nearly as bad as you imply. And I can point out how ridiculous it is to call asking for a bikini picture immoral, but getting paid to watch cocaine addicts jack off, isn't. In any case it doesn't matter.

The truth about you will make people not stake you, not let you into their casinos, and not write flattering articles about you. The truth about me will make people
----- uh nothing. They will still buy my books and have interesting conversations
with me. They were never interested in my dick's activities anyway. You on the
other hand will be left only with those guys who are trying to fuck you.

So you see that it is probably not necessary for me to do anythig illegal to make sure you get what you deserve. HOWEVER it is important to understand that you might be in such jeopardy without my knowledge. For instance you know I have young friends, who have friends, who have friends who do nasty things at the blink of an eye. Drive by shootings etc. To do something like throw some paint on a good dress would be nothing to them.

If I ever told my friends that your obsession with your looks means that you would be appalled if that happened to you once, let alone a dozen times, they might do that behind my back just to please me. Asking nothing in return They might even think I'd like it better if it was acid rather than paint since that would mean people would say "guess you can't talk about Sue now". I would never want them
to to do that but you never know about those guys.

The reason I am telling you this is not because there is something you could do to change things. There is nothing you can do either for me or to me. No, the reason I am telling you is because the anticipation of wondering what will happen is at least as bad as the act itself. You proved that to me when you put me through the anguish of worrying about Sue. Basically the only option available is to leave the poker world forever. Ply your trade elsewhere. Suicide wouldn't be a bad option either. If you do that I will promise to stop badmouthing you.

Notice that I am sending a copy of this email to Jenn. We have put her
through a lot so the least I could do was send her something that I know will
provide her some enjoyment.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

I swear, politics are nearly over here at Guinness and Politics Poker.

I'm gonna be going back to poker. Promise.

OK, maybe a post here and there about this insane race, but that's it. I just can't imagine that this is going to come down to the bitter end, with brokered deals and mutant Super Delegates.

I swear, if the Democrats fuck this up and can't win this general election after eight years of GW: it's time to close up shop and give up forever.

Here's some fine perspective after yesterday from Salon:


It ain't over yet

Victory is sweet for Clinton after 11 losses, but the path to overtaking Obama in the delegate count is still far from clear -- and could lead back to Florida and Michigan.

The confetti cannons that bathed the Columbus Atheneum in a rainbow of tiny pieces of plastic made it seem as if Hillary Clinton was onstage at the Denver Convention basking in her presidential nomination. But her victory celebration after winning the Ohio primary by more than 200,000 votes signified something almost as momentous -- her survival as a long-shot presidential challenger to Barack Obama.

Like a radio disc jockey dedicating a song to all the lost and lonely, the New York senator took the stage to declare in a run-on sentence constantly punctuated by applause, "For everyone here in Ohio and across America, who's ever been counted out but refused to be knocked out and for everyone who has stumbled but stood right back up, and for everyone who works hard and never gives up, this one is for you."

Until she rebounded Tuesday with double-digit victories in Ohio and Rhode Island -- and an important but narrow victory in the Texas primary -- Clinton had put together a primary and caucus losing streak reminiscent of Charlie Brown's comic-strip baseball record. But with the results of the chaotic post-primary Texas caucuses still in doubt, Clinton ends the evening about 90 delegates behind Obama (different media organizations have different counts) with only a dozen contests left on the political calendar. And that is counting Guam. Even if the former first lady has again found her way after spending most of February in the wilderness of defeat, she has little time left to take advantage of it.

Still, Clinton may have bought herself a week without anxious Democrats checking her vital signs. Over the last two weeks, the Hillary "death watch" had begun to rival the protracted final illness of a certain Spanish dictator. In 1976, during the first year of "Saturday Night Live," Chevy Chase made a comic shtick out of dramatically announcing every week during the "Weekend Update" mock newscast, "Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead."

Long before Ohio or Texas had any meaningful returns -- and the exit polls suggested that the race was knotted -- Terry McAuliffe, Clinton's top fundraiser, was insisting to reporters, "We're going to have to go through the process until we get to Puerto Rico on June 7." Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, who had been Hillary's unstinting champion throughout the primary, made a similar plea as he spoke before Clinton at the rally, "Let her continue this fight. Let's go on to Pennsylvania and West Virginia. And let's go to Michigan and Florida."

Strickland's political map was intriguing. Pennsylvania, which holds its primary April 22, is indeed slated to be the last major state to weigh in. But Strickland pointed to the road to salvation for Clinton when he invoked "Michigan and Florida." These two states held outlaw primaries in January (which Clinton carried), but these contests have not been recognized by the Democratic National Committee because they violated party rules on scheduling. The magic number of delegates needed to secure the nomination (2,025) has been calculated without counting the 366 defrocked delegates from Michigan and Florida.

The Clinton campaign has stubbornly, ineffectively and a bit duplicitously argued that the Michigan and Florida results should count, even though Obama was not even on the Michigan ballot and all Democratic candidates pledged not to campaign in these states. As Clinton spokesman Doug Hattaway reiterated Tuesday night, "Sen. Clinton has consistently favored seating those delegates." But Strickland's remarks to the rally -- and some hints from McAuliffe earlier in the evening -- suggest that the next Clinton position may be to appeal to the party to encourage these two pariah states to hold some type of do-over caucus or primary.

The Florida and Michigan question is central to Clinton's lingering wishing-and-hoping dreams of snaring the nomination. If the 366 delegates from these two states were somehow again in play, the daunting arithmetic that makes it almost impossible for Clinton to pass Obama in pledged delegates would be far more forgiving. Even after her double-barreled Ohio and Texas primary victories, Clinton still faces the risk of a stampede of unpledged superdelegates to Obama. That is why her campaign, which has taxed the limits of logic and consistency as it has flailed about in recent weeks, must win the "spin wars" of the next few days and convince the more than 300 still neutral superdelegates to stay on the sidelines.

The Ohio exit polls, for the most part, reflected the divisions that have characterized the Clinton-Obama race so far. The age breaks were lock-step precise with Clinton rising and Obama falling as each of the six age cohorts became progressively older. Obama won the youngest voters (those 17-24) by a landslide margin of 75-to-24 percent. Clinton, on the other hand, racked up an almost equally lopsided 70-to-29 victory among voters eligible for Social Security. In summary, the 46-year-old Obama carried voters younger than he is (those 17 to 45), while Clinton won those who are older.

Whatever her intentions had she lost Ohio or Texas, it is now clear that Clinton will not go quietly into the night. Strickland, who encouraged Clinton to campaign heavily in rural Ohio (she won these voters by a 70-to-26 percent margin), made his feelings abundantly clear in a phone interview Monday. Speaking on the assumption that Clinton would win Ohio, the first-term governor lambasted Obama supporters like John Kerry and Ted Kennedy for suggesting that Clinton should withdraw if she did not come out of the Tuesday primaries with a delegate lead. "John Kerry's not in a position to make a political judgment about Ohio or any other state," Strickland said with an edge of anger in his voice. Talking about Kennedy, whom he did call a "great senator," Strickland recalled that in 1980 the Massachusetts liberal carried his battle against incumbent Democratic President Jimmy Carter to the floor of the convention -- and then only reluctantly endorsed his rival at the last minute. As Strickland put it, "Now for him to start lecturing Hillary Clinton about party unity and what it takes to win in November ... offends me."

When more than 20 states clustered their primaries and caucuses on Woozy Tuesday Feb. 5, there was concern that the Democratic race would end too soon, leaving the nominee with nearly seven months to contemplate a running mate before the Denver Convention. Now with Hillary Clinton's dramatic return from oblivion, it is likely that the presidential candidates will, at minimum , spend the next seven weeks making Pennsylvania Democrats feel like the most important voters on the planet. About the only slogan that makes sense in the wee hours of Wednesday morning is: "It ain't over 'til it's over."

Damnit, what the hell is going on? She's like Rasputin, this one.

Just wanted to pass along this perspective of last night from Real Clear Politics:


Was It Rush?

I've been doing a number of radio interview this morning and the question keeps popping up: did Rush Limbaugh put Hillary over the top in Texas? Some quick, back-of-the-envelope math based on the exits shows:

- Republicans represented 9% of the electorate in Texas. Out of a total of 2.857 million votes cast, that's roughly 257,000 votes.

- Obama won Republicans more narrowly than usual, 52-47. In vote terms, that translates to roughly 134,000 to 123,000.

- Overall, Clinton won Texas by just under 100,000 votes.

It's a close call, but unless the vast majority of Republicans who voted for Clinton (more than 80%) did so at Rush's suggestion, they probably didn't put Clinton over the top. They may have given her a point or two bump in the end, but it seems unlikely they were the deciding factor for Clinton last night.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Drudge is saying:

OBAMA 522,145 54%
CLINTON 435,531 45%

I just came back from voting. My poll was pretty empty, truth be told, which surprised the hell out of me.

In and out in thirty seconds. Now I just need to find someone who's live blogging tonite, since Otis is letting me down.

From the local paper:


Democratic ballots run short

Clermont County had run out of Democratic ballots by early evening at some precincts and was turning people away at the polls who were requesting them, several voters reported.

Elections Board Director Mike Keely said at 6 p.m. his workers were printing out more ballots to ship to precincts in Miami, Union and Pierce townships.

“No voters are being turned away. We’re asking them to wait. We have deputy sheriff’s taking ballots to the polling places.”

But some voters said they were being sent home. An Enquirer editor was told his polling place in Milford had been out of Democratic ballots since 2:45 p.m. Another in Pierce Township said he was turned away.

The scarcity of Democratic ballots may be attributable to a massive amount of crossover voting. Around 4 p.m. the board said it was preparing to send more Democratic ballots to its Union Township precincts. “There are lots of people switching over. We’ve had far more people voting Democratic than we expected,” said an elections board worker.

Keely said the problem may slow election results because they may have to keep polls open late to make sure everyone has a chance to vote.

At 6:20 p.m., Andras Heimann said he had been waiting at the Boyd Elementary School in Milford to cast his ballot for Barack Obama because they had run out of ballots.

He said he heard they’d been out since 2 p.m. He said the school’s parking lot is full and poll workers don’t know how long it will be until more ballots come in.

“They were trying to bring in more but it was not enough, not enough,” he said.

“People are pretty calm here. But they realize it was not good because we have the right to vote whatever way they want,” he said. “Whoever is the main organizer here they should be better prepared.”

Ohio’s Democratic presidential primary has a wild card going today that is clearly present in nearly every polling place in the state – the phenomenon of Republicans and independents crossing over to vote Democratic.

Stuck up a new design and such at MMAjunkie.com. If I told you how much traffic that site gets, you wouldn't believe it.

I'd be remiss if I didn't comment on today's epic primary and my home state.

From the AP:


Ohio: Crucial now and in fall campaign

The presidential spotlight shines on this Midwestern state every four years, and for good reason. As Ohio goes, so goes the nation — at least for the past 44 years.

Given the storied history and high stakes, it's easy to see why Ohio, in primaries and general elections alike, always seems to host races that are hard-fought, if not determinative.

This year is shaping up as more of the same.

"You're going to grow probably weary of seeing me in Ohio," likely GOP nominee John McCain told voters last week as he campaigned throughout the state. He mentioned at every turn that no Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio.

Not to be outdone, Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton — Democrats competing for the chance to face the Arizona senator — repeatedly played to Ohio's pride of having chosen the eventual president in every election starting in 1964.

Republicans, Democrats and independent analysts expect a neck-and-neck contest again for the state's 20 electoral votes in November. Ohio tipped the election to President Bush four years ago, and could be poised for another high-profile role.

A recent Ohio Poll by the University of Cincinnati's Institute for Policy Research showed that no matter which Democrat wins Tuesday's hotly contested primary, the general election race will be tight. Each Democrat is in a virtual tie with McCain in hypothetical head-to-head matchups.

So, what, exactly, makes Ohio so closely divided politically and such a strong barometer of the country's pulse?

The answer starts with the state's birth as part of the Northwest Territory in 1803. Liberal-leaning New Englanders traveled west to settle Northern Ohio while conservative-tilting Virginians moved up to inhabit Southern Ohio.

Over the years, unions established a major presence across the state's industrial north as steel mills, tire factories and other blue-collar jobs flourished along Lake Erie. Small businesses and agriculture were the norm in the south and elsewhere.

Today, there's a Republican stronghold in the southwest, a Democratic bastion in the northeast and swing-voting regions everywhere else that, like the nation, vacillate between electing Republicans and Democrats to the White House based on their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the status quo.

Ohio tends to pick by the narrowest of margins. The winner of the most recent presidential elections won by less than 6 percentage points. Democrat Bill Clinton prevailed in 1992 and 1996; Bush, in 2000 and 2004.

Long considered a microcosm of the nation, the state is home to an incredibly rich mix of people from every income category, education level, ethnicity and political leaning. It's all reflective of the state's geographical diversity, with eight major urban centers — Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo, Cleveland, Akron, Canton and Youngstown — as well as a slew of middle-sized cities, suburbs, exurbs, small towns, rural areas and tiny Appalachian hamlets in the southeast.

"Politically, Ohio has a very good mix of people from both the extremes and many who are in the middle when it comes to the issues facing the country," said Eric Rademacher, co-director of the Ohio Poll. "There is a great deal of socio-economic diversity in Ohio that's representative of the nation, and there's also an ideological diversity in Ohio that does a good job of representing the politics of the remaining 49 states."

Two years ago, Ohio's independents, who long have leaned right, shifted to the left to help Democrats sweep scandal-plagued Republicans out of the governor's mansion and other statewide offices.

This fall's election will indicate whether that shift was lasting or a fluke in a state whose political leanings tend to go in cycles.

For example, a pair of two-time Bush voters turned up at a Clinton event last week in Zanesville and said they are considering voting for a Democrat because they are angry about where the country is headed with a Republican at the helm.

"For the first time in my life, I'm leaning toward the Democrats," said Debbie Kirsch of New Concord, 47, a Republican-voting independent. "I've been so frustrated this year. I don't feel that any of them are in tune with what I want — jobs and health care, someone who is going to focus on those issues that affect my everyday life."

"I want better for my kids," added Kirsch, a welfare-to-work adviser who has a second job teaching English at night. It's a two-job lifestyle that she has seen repeated among three of her adult children; a fourth goes to school full time and also works full-time.

Next to her, Georgeanna Meighen of Pleasant City echoed Kirsch's sentiments. She expressed deep disappointment about the past eight years: "Nothing has gotten better."

Meighen, a 42-year-old working toward a degree at a state technical college, said she, too, is not yet sold on any of the candidates.

"I want to really look at what everybody is saying, the values and beliefs they have to see if they are the same as mine," she said. "I want someone to fight for us."

Today's the day. Word is the polls are packed here in Ohio.

My Irish buddy, DB, sent me this per my fine friends in Ireland:

From the Irish Examiner:


€14 million: What we gambled every day last year

WE gambled more than €5 billion last year, or €14 million every day of the year.

As Paddy Power yesterday reported pre-tax profits of €75m, thanks in part to the €930m spent by customers at the chain’s Irish retail shops, it has emerged our love affair with gambling has reached increasingly worrying levels.

Provisional Revenue figures show that off-course betting exceeded €3.5bn during 2007, with 1% of that figure netted by the taxman. That represents an increase of almost €300m on the 2006 amount and does not include on-course betting, online gambling or the National Lottery.

It is estimated the online sector represents about 10% of the Irish betting market, at over €500m, but is rising each year. In Britain, internet gambling makes about 20% of the total market.

An overall conservative figure for gambling in Ireland, excluding casinos, which operate as private clubs, is more than €5.2bn.

The increase was described as “worrying” yesterday by Gamblers Anonymous. A spokesman said the amount of meetings, and the amount of people attending GA meetings, has been steadily increasing in recent years.

“The internet is the big thing at the moment,” he said.

“It’s worrying from the point of view of families, from the point of view of spouses and children.”

Recent results published by Horse Racing Ireland indicate that racecourse betting was up by 7.6% last year, to €282m, while tote betting stood at just over €61m for 2007 — a jump of €11.7m on 2006. Tote income is exclusively from horse racing betting, and mostly Irish horse racing.

Meanwhile, National Lottery results due to be published later this week are likely to show sales figures easily topping the €700m mark.

In 2006, sales of €679m were recorded and a continuation of the near-10% growth of recent years would see an Irish spend of up to €747m on the Lotto, scratch cards and Euromillions last year.

Online gambling continues to flourish, with betting exchange Betfair having a turnover of €15m in the year to April 2007, a figure expected to rise significantly. Betfair expects to double its Irish business between April of 2005 and 2008.

According to Betfair Ireland’s Eoin Ryan this country is the exchange’s “third biggest worldwide market for sports betting”, with about 45,000 registered Irish customers.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Election Perspective 

Feature article on Salon:


Global marketing execs agree -- America's image is in the toilet. The cure? One presidential candidate has what it takes, they say, to save Brand USA

Bonus Code IGGY on Party Poker, damnit! 

A quick post here.

I'm overwhelmed here at the beginning of the week after a crazy UFC weekend.

But back to Brandi and 2+2. Apparently she's been permA-BANNED.

I'm very sad and disturbed about Mr. Sklansky. Ugh. I kept holding out hope that whole thing was manufactured for trollish purposes but alas....

Allow me to post two alleged emails he sent to Brandi - Naami Hawbaker. First one here where he even offers up a retraction/apology email for her in exchange for a little bit of money. I obviously can't vouch for the veracity of this nonsense but here's the first:


I guess you now believe me that thread resurrection is out of my hands. And that Mason is not afraid to expose my peccadilos. In any case you wanted to vent and probably got paid for it as well. But I'm not that mad. Because I still don't blame you for being upset at the double standard of the deletion.

Mason doesn't even blame you. But he saw that thread and it didn't meet his standards. Had I seen that post of yours first, everything would be different.

I would have immediately accepted your offer to be friendly again, not because of the picture but because I had already decided to give it one more shot.

The truth is that I WANT that thread put back up. Because it would prove that you weren't all that upset with me. Else why the peace offering? But there is no way that thread reappears.

Anyway you will be unbanned tomorrow, I believe, in spite of all this stuff. That gives you the chance to talk poker for a change. It really is quite astonishing how well you play tournaments, except the technical part involving different bubbles. And you can tout your Sharkscope numbers. If you stick to that you won't be banned regardless. But if you want me to love you again you can take it a step further and write a retraction post. Here is a rough draft that you should feel free to edit.

Semi Apology To David

"As many of you know I put up some emails that David sent me the last few days that make him look kind of creepy. I did that because I was so angry that my harmless naughty pube post was deleted and I got banned for three days to boot. While at the same time nastier posts about me were allowed to stay. I didn't believe David when he said that he had no power to change things. Or Mason when he said he would have deleted those bad posts about me if I had asked him to. But I guess I have to believe David now. And I am feeling a little bad that I posted emails out of context."

"When David came to LA he mentioned to me that "smooth" girls weren't his cup of tea. He asked if I would give him a treat and let him see some hairs peeking out. Its creepy to me but if it put a smile on his face I was willing to do it. Later on that night I gave him a hard time about his driving and other things not realizing it was annoying him. When he went back to Vegas he coached me in a few things I was weak in and I went on a tear in smallish SitnGos. A quick 4K. And then tilted off much of it trying to get into the FTP main event. David was rightly mad at me but still offered to send me $260 to play those $24 90 player SitnGos. But I had to promise to stick to
them until he said so. Then he also asked for a picture of the treat he had wanted while in LA.

Well I took the money and broke both promises. I didn't really think I had, because I was using different money and because I hadn't mentioned a date of delivery of the pictures. But David got mad. And sent the emails I posted. By the way when he was talking about "pleasing" him, I don't think he meant sex. Just doing what he wanted.

Obviously I couldn't have been too upset about his actions or I wouldn't have tried to entice him to be friends again with the deleted post.

So I offer David this semi apology. I am still furious my post was deleted but am willing to accept a promise that even worse posts regarding me will be deleted in the future.

At this point I just want to read and think about poker."


Once again Brandi. I never did anything really bad to you. But I did do quite a few good things. Add them up and realize you should take my suggestion.

If you do this for me I promise you there will be more good things to come. Due to what happened with the picture I cannot take you on your word alone but once you post what I have asked you to I will send another $260 your way.

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