Monday, June 30, 2008

"Now tell me what kinda fuckin' luck I got"

Got nothing, other than Obama's VP list got one name shorter today.

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It's no fun being in the reality-based community

Would seem obvious to me, but apparently it's true that deluding oneself is the secret to happiness.

RECENT SURVEYS HAVE indicated that conservatives, on average, report being happier than liberals. Two psychologists wanted to know why, so they re-analyzed data from several large national and international surveys. The conservative-happiness relationship was not explained by differences in demographics or thoughtfulness but was largely explained by conservatives' greater rationalization of inequality, including belief in a meritocratic world. According to the authors, such beliefs serve a "palliative function" or act as an "emotional buffer" when confronted with inequality. The same was true overseas, especially in countries with lower standards of living. Moreover, the authors found that the happiness gap between liberals and conservatives in the United States has widened over the last three decades as inequality has increased here.

Napier, J. and Jost, J., "Why Are Conservatives Happier Than Liberals?" Psychological Science (June 2008).

Obama's reliance on economic issues may not be enough to win over working poor whites if they don't recognize the inequalities they face. So, the deluded may once again elect the deluded.


Blue Monday, Howlin' Wolf edition

"Evil." Chester Burnett makes a political statement, "It's the conditions."

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Friday, June 27, 2008

The mighty blogosphere

Kevin Drum wants to know what the "lefty blogosphere" thinks of rumors that Colin Powell will endorse Obama.

Who cares what they "lefty blogosphere" thinks? "We" "lefties" really aren't that important. Obviously, Democratic candidates don't want progressives actively going after them, but in the general election, we are small beer.

There's probably no single individual who did more to launch us into a stupid and unnecessary war that has drained the lives of over 4,000 American servicemen and women, and countless Iraqis while also draining our treasury dry.

I say, welcome aboard, general!

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The Sazerac

Today, in "News you can use," we're here to inform you that The Sazerac has been named the official cocktail of the city of New Orleans by the LA state legislature. Proof that not everything those lawmakers do is batshit crazy.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Taking child rape off the table

I worry about appearing totally in love with Barack, so let me quickly point out that I am certainly not happy with his less than strong opposition to the FISA bill.

And, normally, I'd agree with Ezra on this. Given the frequency of "mistakes" in death penalty cases, often involving eye witnesses, making the rape of a child subject to capital punishment is rife with opportunities for even more mistakes. Child witnesses, often pressured and sometimes years removed from the alleged act, represent less than trustworthy testimony, and we are talking about Louisiana here. I've been to Angola (the prison has a museum and gift shop, for God's sake, and we overheard the museum guard tell a young girl, "You want to see the shivs, honey?"). I can see why some progressives, death penalty foes and the like, would be disappointed that he did not at least hedge his bet a bit, by indicating his un-Dukakis-like revulsion for the crime, but not going so far as to "condemn" the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision.

But I don't agree. First of all, what a presidential candidate has to say about a court decision has no bearing on The Court's decision. But it does resonate. The Right is far more obsessed with the make up of the Supreme Court than is more mainstream America, so that's always going to be a powerful issue with McCain's base. They hear the dog whistles of "judicial activism" far more loudly than do moderates and even liberals, even when we scream, "Alito." If you need proof of that, I suggest you get in the way back machine and relive those heady days of the 2000 campaign, when Al Gore all but begged voters to be mindful that the campaign would have consequences not just with the Supremes, but with appointments to all Federal Courts. Gore lost because a great number of the same "progressives" now complaining that Obama isn't pure enough voted for The Ego instead.

But what will resonate with those mainstream voters who don't obsess over "originalism" and Roe, are commercials reminding them that Obama doesn't support executing people who commit heinous crimes against small children. Especially (apologies in advance for the sizeism) 300-pound men who rape their stepdaughters. And don't think that disgusting little (big) detail won't be mentioned in the 30-second spot.

Secondly, many of those who are "disappointed" with Obama on this assume he's doing it purely for political motive. A pander bear, indeed. Sniff; I thought he was going to "change" politics, you hear them mutter.

But the notion that he's being hypocritical on this simply isn't true, as exactly two seconds of "the google" would prove.

As an Illinois legislator, he helped rewrite the state's death penalty system to guard against innocent people being sentenced to die. The new safeguards included requiring police to videotape interrogations and giving the state Supreme Court more power to overturn unjust decisions.

He also opposed legislation making it easier to impose the death penalty for murders committed as part of gang activity. Obama argued the language was too vague and could be abused by authorities.

But Obama has never rejected the death penalty entirely. He supported death sentences for killing volunteers in community policing programs and for particularly cruel murders of elderly people.

"While the evidence tells me that the death penalty does little to deter crime, I believe there are some crimes — mass murder, the rape and murder of a child — so heinous, so beyond the pale, that the community is justified in expressing the full measure of its outrage by meting out the ultimate punishment," he wrote in his book "The Audacity of Hope."

Finally, Obama is not, as Ezra complains, "expanding" the death penalty. Obama simply criticized the ruling that making child rape a capital crime is unconstitutional. He doesn't believe it is. I think he's right.

Obama is being what he is on this subject: smart, thoughtful, forceful, human, and not unmindful of the political ramifications of what he says.

And he's rightly taken this arrow out of the GOP's quiver (not to say they won't use it; they'll just be unequivocally lying if they do).

For God's sake people, on subjects like this, let's stop losing elections by thinking we're appealing to people's "reasonableness."

UPDATE: And it was a bad decision too, according to Publius.

UPDATE II: Just to clear things up, I meant Angola the prison/work farm, in LA.

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Aw, Mittens, we missed you!

Ralph Nader does the funky chicken

The long, slow descent of Ralph Nader's reputation has apparently not yet hit rock-bottom.

''There's only one thing different about Barack Obama when it comes to being a Democratic presidential candidate. He's half African-American,'' Nader said. ''Whether that will make any difference, I don't know. I haven't heard him have a strong crackdown on economic exploitation in the ghettos. Payday loans, predatory lending, asbestos, lead. What's keeping him from doing that? Is it because he wants to talk white? He doesn't want to appear like Jesse Jackson?''

When asked if Obama does try to ''talk white,'' Nader replied, ''Of course.'' He also said that Obama doesn't want to appear to be ''another politically threatening African-American politician.''

''He wants to appeal to white guilt,'' Nader said. ''You appeal to white guilt not by coming on as black is beautiful, black is powerful. Basically he's coming on as someone who is not going to threaten the white power structure, whether it's corporate or whether it's simply oligarchic. And they love it. Whites just eat it up.''

Obama responds with the equivalent of a sigh:

Obama said Nader hadn't been paying attention because he has discussed predatory lending, housing foreclosures and similar economic issues throughout his campaign.

''I think it's a shame because if you look at his legacy in terms of consumer protections, it's an extraordinary one. But at this point, he's somebody who's trying to get attention and whose campaign hasn't gotten any traction,'' Obama said.

Keep talking, Ralph. Just keep talking.


Hide It So Deep


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Psychological benefit

So, since when did GOP politicians start pointing to Europe as models for Amurika to follow?

I think McCain is going to totally confuse his "base."


Brand image

What's this nonsense that the "Republican brand" is in a bad way?

UPDATED: Thanks to Anon., the link is fixed.



CT has one senator the state can be proud of.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ebay economy

More economic theories from Maverick.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee regularly asserts that 1.3 million people worldwide ``make a living off EBay.'' He holds up the figure as evidence the world's largest Internet auctioneer is a model for job and economic growth.

McCain, seeking to address voter anxiety about the economy, uses EBay to signal that he is ``fundamentally optimistic about the capacity of the U.S. economy to innovate, for that innovation to give new opportunities for jobs,'' said Doug Holtz-Eakin, the candidate's senior economic adviser. ``We shouldn't be obsessed with looking backwards all the time, and saying, `Gee, where did those jobs go?'''

It's a series of tubes.

UPDATE: He's aware of all internet traditions.


This day in baseball!

Next time you hear someone calling a game who complains that umpires insert themselves and bait the players too much these days, remember this:

1911 -- In a Reds win in Cincinnati‚ Cards player-manager Roger Bresnahan is called out on strikes by Bill Klem to end the game. When Roger argues too long over the call‚ Klem belts him. An embarrassed NL president Lynch will fine the arbiter $50 for the punch.

Does Milton Bradley know about this?

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Johann Santana, the highest paid pitcher in the NL:

Santana (7-6) said Hernández “put a good swing” on the pitch, but he seemed frustrated about being in that position. He allowed one earned run in seven innings, and mentioned the plays the Mets did not make. He could have been hinting at Wright’s error.

“We didn’t execute the way we’re supposed to,” he said. “We didn’t make the routine plays.”


You gave up a grand slam to an American League pitcher.


War criminals

Maj. David Frakt, defending an "enemy combatant" who was 15 when he allegedly threw a grenade that wounded two American soldiers, gave his closing statement in a pre-trial hearing:

"After six and a half years, we now know the truth about the detainees at Guantanamo: some of them are terrorists, some of them are foot soldiers, and some of them were just innocent people, caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. But the detainees at Guantanamo have one thing in common -- with each other, and with us -- they are all human beings, and they are all worthy of humane treatment. . . .

"February 7, 2002. America lost a little of its greatness that day. We lost our position as the world's leading defender of human rights, as the champion of justice and fairness and the rule of law. But it is a testament to the continuing greatness of this nation, that I, a lowly Air Force Reserve Major, can stand here before you today, with the world watching, without fear of retribution, retaliation or reprisal, and speak truth to power. I can call a spade a spade, and I can call torture, torture.

"Today, Your Honor, you have an opportunity to restore a bit of America's lost luster, to bring back some small measure of the greatness that was lost on Feb 7, 2002, to set us back on a path that leads to an America which once again stands at the forefront of the community of nations in the arena of human rights.

"Sadly, this military commission has no power to do anything to the enablers of torture such as John Yoo, Jay Bybee, Robert Delahunty, Alberto Gonzales, Douglas Feith, David Addington, William Haynes, Vice President Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, for the jurisdiction of military commissions is strictly and carefully limited to foreign war criminals, not the home-grown variety. All you can do is to try to send a message, a clear and unmistakable message that the U.S. really doesn't torture, and when we do, we own up to it, and we try to make it right."

Powerful. And mostly unheard.




But before long, the more honest among the surge opponents will concede that Bush, that supposed dolt, actually got one right. Some brave souls might even concede that if the U.S. had withdrawn in the depths of the chaos, the world would be in worse shape today.


The administration lacks an updated and comprehensive Iraq strategy to move beyond the "surge" of combat troops President Bush launched in January 2007 as an 18-month effort to curtail violence and build Iraqi democracy, government investigators said yesterday.

While agreeing with the administration that violence has decreased sharply, a report released yesterday by the Government Accountability Office concluded that many other goals Bush outlined a year and a half ago in the "New Way Forward" strategy remain unmet.

The report, after a bleak GAO assessment last summer, cited little improvement in the ability of the Iraqi security forces to act independently of the U.S. military, and noted that key legislation passed by the Iraqi parliament had not been implemented while other crucial laws had not been passed. The report also judged that key Iraqi ministries spent less of their allocated budgets last year than in previous years, and said that oil and electricity production had repeatedly not met U.S. targets.

Bush's strategy of January 2007, the GAO said, "defined the original goals and objectives that the Administration believed were achievable by the end of this phase in July 2008." Not meeting many of them changed circumstances on the ground and the pending withdrawal of the last of the additional U.S. forces mean that strategy is now outdated, the report said. The GAO recommends that the State and Defense departments work together to fashion a new approach.

More reality:

BAGHDAD, June 24 -- Two U.S. soldiers and two American civilians working for the U.S. government were killed in an explosion Tuesday morning in Sadr City, a vast Shiite slum where security had improved dramatically in recent weeks, U.S. officials said.

The blast occurred at about 9:20 a.m. inside a government building.

Still more:

BAGHDAD — A security guard for an Iraqi politician grabbed his Kalashnikov automatic rifle and opened fire on at least a half-dozen American soldiers, killing two of them, during a meeting with Iraqi officials in a village southeast of Baghdad on Monday, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said.

The number of casualties was in dispute. The American military command in Baghdad said that two American soldiers had been killed and that three others and an interpreter had been wounded. The Interior Ministry official said that in addition to the two soldiers who had been killed, at least six other soldiers had been wounded. The gunman was killed in the firefight.

According to the Interior Ministry official, the attack took place as American soldiers were attending the opening of a park in Madaen, a village along the Tigris River about 20 miles from Baghdad. Madaen was the scene of horrific sectarian violence between Sunni and Shiite gangs in the years after the American invasion in 2003. The official described the attacker as a security guard for a member of the provincial council.

Missionless accomplished.

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Nixonland, vol. XXXX

In Rick Perlstein's remarkable history of the late 1960s political upheavals, Nixonland, he describes a Richard Nixon obsessed with -- and profiting by -- his battle of the Franklins vs the Orthegonians -- the "elite" vs. the "strivers." Karl Rove understands this impulse.

Karl Rove's latest to Republicans about how to message on Obama ...

"Even if you never met him, 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."

Even if the the country clubs where Rove is welcome wouldn't be a very welcoming place to Obama.


Monday, June 23, 2008


Because we're wallowing in it.

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At least it ain't the Mexicans

Wow. This is beyond terrifying.

Two things are remarkable here. First, that McCain genuinely seems to believe that Islamic extremism poses not just a threat, but a threat to the very existence of the West. This is science fiction territory. Second, that he apparently can't come up with any better answer to Fortune's question about economic threats. Not energy, not high taxes, not runaway entitlement growth, not healthcare, not globalization, not any of a dozen plausible answers that would have gone down fine with his base. Instead, "His eyes are narrowed. Nine seconds of silence, ten seconds, 11." And then he came up with Islamic extremism.

Either, as Drum seems to imply, McCain is simply turning every issue into a referendum on national security, regardless of what he actually believes; or McCain does truly believe that Islamic extremism has the military and financial power to destroy Western nations' economies.

Maybe a little bit of both. In any case, McCain has absolutely no use for domestic policy discussions. And his foreign policy appears to be a combination of bluster and The League of Nations That Reliably Side with America.


Message framework

Things we already knew, but are amazed to hear it from the source:

Holt, the GOP consultant, said third-party groups may play a smaller role in this election than last, but he would not be surprised if someone hit Obama with ads comparable to the Swift Boat criticism. Those ads were highly effective against Kerry in 2004, he said, because they fed into existing voter doubts about his sincerity. "It was in our message framework," Holt said, even though "we had nothing to do with it."

In other words, they build these scurrilous attacks into the overall framework of the campaign, but simply make sure it's at arms length.

Fine. Let the games begin.


"Twisting gendor stereotypes"

So that's what Dowd calls emasculating male Democratic candidates and turning female candidates -- and the wives of the male Democrats (even when seemingly defending them) -- into shrill dominatrices.


Blue Monday, Leadbelly edition

George Carlin

He was one of a handful of comedians -- Mort Sahl, Flip Wilson, Richard Pryor -- who seemed to have an impact on how we viewed ourselves and our society. Not to get too heavy, he was goddamned funny.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Back to those civil days of the 18th century

Via FireJoeMorgan, Buzz Bissinger is a remarkably uninformed gasbag.

He adds, “You have blogs that proudly parade around saying, ‘We don’t need no stinking credibility or stinking information — it doesn’t matter what you say or do if you know how to write.’ They cover themselves under the mantle of the First Amendment. But if John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had any idea what the First Amendment would have wrought, they would have canceled it.”

This guy was once a respected, Pulitzer Prize winning reporter.

But he ought to brush up on his American history.

"Callender has been described as ‘the most unscrupulous scandalmonger of the day,…a journalist who stopped at nothing and stooped to anything.…[He] was not an investigative journalist; he never bothered to investigate anything. For him, the story, especially if it reeked of scandal, was everything; truth, if it stood in his way, was summarily mowed down.’ True to his style, he fabricated a series of scandalous stories about Jefferson's personal life, the ugliest of which charged him with having fathered several children by a mulatto slave at Monticello, a young woman named Sally Hemings. Although Callender had never gone near Jefferson's estate, he alleged that this was common knowledge in the neighboring area. He included many lurid details of this supposed illicit relationship among the ‘entertaining facts’ he created for his readers, even inventing the names of children whom "Dusky Sally" had never borne." (Allison, The Real Thomas Jefferson, page 228)

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Shape of Things

Must. Have. More.

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Fast Eddie

David Brooks needs to carefully shut down his laptop and make sure the spittle has fully dried before turning it back on. I wouldn't want it to short out...the Times can't afford that kind of unanticipated IT expense.

God, Republicans are saps. They think that they’re running against some academic liberal who wouldn’t wear flag pins on his lapel, whose wife isn’t proud of America and who went to some liberationist church where the pastor damned his own country. They think they’re running against some naïve university-town dreamer, the second coming of Adlai Stevenson.

But as recent weeks have made clear, Barack Obama is the most split-personality politician in the country today. On the one hand, there is Dr. Barack, the high-minded, Niebuhr-quoting speechifier who spent this past winter thrilling the Scarlett Johansson set and feeling the fierce urgency of now. But then on the other side, there’s Fast Eddie Obama, the promise-breaking, tough-minded Chicago pol who’d throw you under the truck for votes.

Wow. You've said a mouthful, there, Davey.

Nevermind that your boy McCain "opted in" to public financing in order to secure a loan his bankrupt primary campaign desperately needed, then tried to "opt out" before being told by the Republican running the FEC that that wasn't a decision McCain could make on his own.

But that's wonky shit.

If those paragraphs above weren't so amateurishly and clunkishly written, I would salute you, sir, in your ability to blend so many disparate attacks on Obama. I eagerly await Doghouse Riley's smackdown of your contemptuous, fear-soaked, sniveling little screed, but in the meantime, let's identify what your saying here. Obama's a
  • a Niebuhr spewing elitist
  • a "speechifier" dog whistle tying him to a history of prominent black preachers
  • some sort of South Side Chicago pool hustler
The "Scarlett Johannsen set" is particularly notable. I have no idea what the "SJ Set" is (Woody Allen?), but Brooks un-deftly strokes Republican attitudes towards Hollywood and their fears of black men taking our whitest women. A two-fer.

So much for our post-racial society, and so much for any assumptions that Obama will be protected from racist attacks. If Brooks can write this shit on the pages of the NY Times and still be invited to pontificate on NPR, then, we can expect to see a lot more of it in less high-minded locations.

All that said, I would really like someone to stop pouting that Obama has "broken his promise," and instead ask him where he stands on the FISA "compromise" that's a sweetheart deal for a president firmly poised to not crack 30% popularity before he shamefacedly leaves office.

UPDATE: More here and, 'specially, here.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Joe Schmoe

Jonathan Chait exposes Lieberman's inner lunatic.

My colleague J. Peter Scoblic's new book, U.S. vs. Them, opens with the story of conservatives in 1959 creating the "Committee Against Summit Entanglements" to express their horror that Eisenhower would sit down with Soviet premier Khrushchev. The Committee's logic was nearly identical to that which Lieberman now deploys against Obama for his willingness to meet with Iran's leadership. Lieberman tries to use this issue to show that Obama falls outside the mainstream tradition of U.S. foreign policy, but he winds up proving this about himself.

And, just as Lieberman casts himself as the sole surviving heir to the liberal internationalist tradition, he likewise presents himself as one of the few--or possibly the only--independent-minded souls remaining in a party now controlled by rabid partisan bloggers. "Instead of challenging their opinions," says Lieberman with characteristic disappointment, "far too many Democratic leaders have kowtowed to them." In a previous speech, he urged an audience of international-studies graduates to remain independent like him. It may hurt your popularity, he explained, but, "far more important, you will not lose your convictions about what you believe is best for the security of our great country."

There's hardly any sense in which Lieberman is an independent figure. He's become a cog in the Republican message machine. He may be independent from liberal bloggers, but the conservative equivalent--partisan shouters like Sean Hannity--are his treasured pals. Lieberman even continues to embrace lunatic preacher John Hagee--whose many daft ideas include his belief that the Holocaust fulfilled God's will--even after John McCain repudiated him.

Lieberman is no longer merely embarrassing. He's become an eyesore. So you may find it strange that I can't wait to see him do his Zell Miller act at the Republican convention.


Information, please!

John Cole has a wonderful idea:

In short, yes, Chris Matthews, a plebiscite would probably vote for gasoline at $2.00 a gallon, but what would be awesome is if there was some way, some form of giant medium where the sort of information discussed above could get out to the general public. Some system by which allegedly informed individuals could spread this message to large numbers of people, and when politicians claim that offshore drilling and drilling in ANWR will magically return us to $2.00 gasoline, these allegedly informed people could call “bullshit!” and let the public know the pols are full of it. Maybe even a system in which things are “broadcast” into people’s homes on a box-like apparatus with pictures and sound. Maybe they could even use high-speed cables and satellite to beam that information to consumers. That would be awesome, but it would probably require that the people sending the message be smarter than a stump.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

"Movin' on up"

Michelle Obama:

“You are amazed sometimes at how deep the lies can be,” she says in an interview. Referring to a character in a 1970s sitcom, she adds: “I mean, ‘whitey’? That’s something that George Jefferson would say. Anyone who says that doesn’t know me. They don’t know the life I’ve lived. They don’t know anything about me.”

Meanwhile, the GOP reaches out.

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9/11 24/7

Meet the Mets

The Mets have a payroll of $134 million, consisting of a few players (Wright, Beltran, Reyes) who are very good, surrounded by players who are old, prone to injury, and/or unable to hit.

They have an ace, a former ace who is a year past his effectiveness, a bunch of spare pitching parts, and a closer who can't do it in big situations.

They have a GM who went out and got the most expensive pitcher available, but refused to retool any of the above old, prone to injury, and/or unable to hit players. And the pitcher cost him what few prospects the Mets farm system held.

And they have an ownership team that can't make up its mind, then approves of the GM sending the manager and coaching staff on a road trip to the West Coast, then approves of the GM firing the manager and two of those coaches after the first night game of said road trip.

I'll bet Willie Randolph, while no doubt angry, is relieved to be done with this crew.


Whaddya mean, "slander?"

Bad company

People tend to forget how rocky the Bush administration's tenure was, and how its approval ratings were in steady decline up through September 10, 2001. Truth is, from tax cuts for the wealthy, to their handling of the economy, to privatizing social security, to ignoring the flood waters of New Orleans, the Bush administration's political instincts have been consistently terrible -- this, despite the fact that Karl "Boy Genius" was their chief strategist.

And now they believe that Americans -- looking at $5/gallon sometime this summer -- are eager to see oil rigs off the coast of Cape Hatteras and ANWAR. I think they're wrong again.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Swift boat vets for the lame

Good thing the Obama campaign has set up a rapid-response website, 'cause this stuff can be devastating.


Monday, June 16, 2008

The mask slips

McCain probably should have answered her question a bit more civilly, because Elizabeth Bumiller has now done the unthinkable: questioned the maverick.

Yet while it would be hard to categorize him as a doctrinaire Republican or conservative, Mr. McCain appears to have ceded some of his carefully cultivated reputation as a maverick.
Now, I'm not saying Bumiller has raised this out of pique, but it is a lesson in the danger of courting certain members of the press like lucky members of the clique, while others aren't given passes on the Straight Talk Gas Guzzler-- it gives the latter more time to fact check.

And ever so slightly, perhaps the narrative has shifted.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

A series of tubes, again

McCain has admitted that he uses neither a PC or a Mac. Never uses a computer. So I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise that no one on his staff has heard of "Google," either.

WASHINGTON - Questions from the media prompted Republican John McCain to cancel a fund-raiser at the home of a Texas oilman who once joked that women should give in while being raped.

The Texan, Republican Clayton Williams, made the joke during his failed 1990 campaign for governor against Democrat Ann Richards. Williams compared rape to the weather, saying, "As long as it's inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it." He also compared Richards to the cattle on his ranch, saying he would "head her and hoof her and drag her through the dirt."

Williams's comments made national news at the time and remain easy to find on the Internet. Even so, McCain's campaign said it had not known about the remarks.

His money's still good, though.

The campaign said it would not return money Williams had raised for McCain because the contributions came from other individuals supporting McCain and not from Williams. Williams told his hometown newspaper, the Midland Reporter-Telegram, that he had raised more than $300,000 for McCain.

And why not, since we learn that his wife, a multi-millionaire beer distributor heiress, has $250,000 in credit card debt.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert

I was no fan of his journalism, but damn, that's too young.

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You can't call it lying when words have to meaning

McCain's against privatizing social security, but wants to let younger workers divert a portion of their payroll taxes to private accounts.



In other words, privatizing social security.

A good idea from one of Matt's commenters:

It seems to me that McCain's greatest vulnerability might be the existence of 'Two McCains'. I don't think an Obama ad needs to do much more than play the many clips of McCain dueling McCain on policy. It simultaneously raises doubts among independents and Republicans.


Where the elite meet

Oh, Roy.

The joke's on them, but not many of them will ever get it. Though they may spare a snort for the rubes attending Big Daddy in the megachurch -- while chastising themselves for their elitism in thinking so -- the Chestertonian ruse still confuses them. Some of us, of course, long ago learned to look quick whenever we hear morality mentioned, even in plummy tones, for the marketing angle. But that takes years of training, and requires the loss of that nagging yet oddly hopeful suspicion that one of the godly men who keep raiding one's pantry is really just so Christian that he's taking the fall for the others.
And that's just his concluding paragraph. The ones leading up to it are spun gold.


Scalia throws the courts under the bus

Dahlia Lithwick is really smart.

And in the end, this is the fight between the majority and the dissent: Kennedy and the justices who signed his opinion (David Souter, John Paul Stevens, Stephen Breyer, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg) are worried about the very real risk of a lifetime of mistaken imprisonment. And the dissenters (Scalia, Roberts, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito) are worried about the risk of ... what? Not an actual mistaken release, but a day in court. The big threat here is of federal court review that may—somewhere far down the line, and at the moment entirely hypothetically—result in the release of a detainee or (more attenuated still) the disclosure of a piece of hypothetical information that could help the terrorists in their fight against us.

Six years of no trials, in the eyes of the dissenters, is more than justifiable in the hopes of dozens more years of no trials. And it's precisely that sense of time passing without consequence that so infuriates the majority. Justices Kennedy, Breyer, and Souter each observe in their opinions today that the passage of so many years while detainees waited and watched was preposterous. This is not some demented Supreme Court prematurely racing into a war zone with morning breath, uncombed hair, and misguided good intentions. This is a deliberative Supreme Court saying that it's been standing by for six long years. That's how long it's been since the Bush administration started doing battle with the federal courts alongside its battle against the enemy. Responding to the dissenters' fatuous complaint that the majority should have waited to see how the tribunals played out before ruling on their constitutional infirmity, Kennedy observes that, as yet, the game still hasn't even started, and "the costs of delay can no longer be borne by those who are held in custody." As David Barron points out at "Convictions," the court is saying that if Congress wanted to suspend the right to habeas, it should have done so, clearly and definitively. The court is also saying that six years of detainee victories that—for all the change on the ground at Guantanamo—might as well have been losses are not exactly a ringing endorsement of the American legal system.

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He's gone

The GOP has been stealing our money since 1994, it's no surprise that they steal their own.

The thefts are both embarrassing and painful for the committee, which has been struggling to raise money for what is expected to be a tough year for Republican House candidates. According to the most recent federal filings, the Republican committee has only $6.7 million in cash on hand; in contrast, its Democratic counterpart has $45 million.

“We have been deceived and betrayed for a number of years by a highly respected and trusted individual,” said Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, chairman of the N.R.C.C. Mr. Cole added that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was conducting a criminal investigation into Mr. Ward’s actions.



UPDATED to put this in proper order, sort of.


Doesn't register

The V.A. decides the very act of voter registration is "partisan."

Although veterans are not federal employees, department officials based their decision in part on the Hatch Act, which bans federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity.

The department’s policy is “to assist patients who seek to exercise their right to register and vote,” according to a V.A. directive issued on May 5. “However, due to Hatch Act requirements and to avoid disruptions to facility operations, voter registration drives are not permitted.”

Matt Smith, a spokesman for the Department of Veterans Affairs, said the department “wanted to ensure that our staff remains focused on caring for our veterans instead of having to determine the political agenda of each group that might try to enter our facilities.”

The war on voting continues.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Douchebags of freedom

George W. Bush (whose approval rating on handling the war -- 36% -- is the area he is rated highest) once again hands out Medals of Freedom to his enablers and operatives.

James Gerstenzang writes in the Los Angeles Times: "President Bush will award the nation's highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to a veteran federal judge, Laurence H. Silberman, whose controversial role in national security issues has made him a champion to conservatives, and retired Marine Gen. Peter Pace, who was denied a second term as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. . . .

"In choosing Silberman and Pace, Bush is focusing attention on two figures closely identified with the central elements of his national security policy, the campaign against terrorism and the war in Iraq. . . .

"At least two of Silberman's former law clerks have gone on to establish themselves as key Bush administration allies in the national security arena: Viet D. Dinh, chief author of the USA Patriot Act, passed after the Sept. 11 attacks, and John C. Yoo, who as deputy assistant attorney general wrote a memorandum in 2002 widely viewed as permitting torture in the fight against terrorism.

"The White House announcement said Silberman had 'devoted his life to promoting, enforcing and defending the rule of law.'"


"General Pace is not the first Medal of Freedom recipient to be associated with the war in Iraq. On Dec. 14, 2004, the president bestowed medals on George J. Tenet, the longtime director of central intelligence who built the case for going to war based in part on assessments that Iraq possessed deadly unconventional weapons; Gen. Tommy R. Franks, the overall commander of the invasion of Iraq; and L. Paul Bremer III, the chief civilian administrator of the American occupation of the country."

Silberman, who co-chaired a Bush-appointed commission tasked to investigate how intelligence on Iraqi WMDs could have gone so wrong, conveniently came back in March 2005 with a report that spread blame pretty much everywhere but the White House.

And as Michelle Goldberg wrote for Salon in 2004, Silberman has "been near the febrile center of the largest political scandals of the past two decades, from the rumored 'October surprise' of 1980 and the Iran-contra trials to the character assassination of Anita Hill and the impeachment of President Clinton. Whenever right-wing conspiracies swing into action, Silberman is there."

In case you've forgotten Gen. Pace's bravery in leading the Joint Chiefs, I bring you this golden oldie.

Miami - The top US general on Thursday defended the leadership of defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, saying it is inspired by God.

"He leads in a way that the good Lord tells him is best for our country," said marine General Peter Pace, chair of the joint chiefs of staff.

Rumsfeld is "a man whose patriotism focus, energy, drive, is exceeded by no one else I know ... quite simply, he works harder than anybody else in our building", Pace said at a ceremony in Miami.

Rumsfeld has faced a storm of criticism and calls for his resignation, largely over his handling of the Iraq war.


Whither NPR?

Dean Baker is righteously offended that NPR allowed two authors to get away with hyping "a crisis" in Social Security that isn't.

This is the one area -- yes, way more so than his health care proposal -- where Obama has not been as strong as I'd like. Gotta make sure we push back on this notion of SS as an "entitlement" that is about to run dry loud and clear. That's why I applaud his appointment of Jason Furman.

The other day, interviewing Obama, Michelle or Melissa, or whomever, channeled GOP talking points and asked him

Are tax and spend policies really bad for America, and is that what you're intending to do?
We're really changing the tone, aren't we?


You got that, asshole?


Get behind me, Satan

It's easy to laugh this shit off as stupid, racist, and self-defeating. But, ultimately and cumulatively, it can achieve its purpose: depress (literally and figuratively) the vote.

Meanwhile, Jindal!


All aboard the ship of fools



John Sweeney, remember him?


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Where's the outrage?!

I'm not sure I get this.

McCain supports the causes
of the "former" lobbyists advising him once were paid to champion.

Obama rips a company
from which his VP-vetter got good mortgage rates.

And it's the latter that outrages.

The danger is that we'll soon be reduced to just shrugging our shoulders, muttering "Whatever."


Mission accomplished

McCain and Cheney

In a Politico story that is more thinking-out-loud than reporting, the reporter assumes that McCain is uncertain how to use Cheney -- wildly popular with the 30 percenters, but toxic to sentient beings. And while I agree that in many ways the McCain campaign is adrift, they know exactly how to use Cheney and Bush -- for secretive fund-raising. And as a dog whistle. To wit:

In an interview he gave to the Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes in 2006 for Hayes’s biography, “Cheney: The Untold Story of America's Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President,”McCain said: “I will strongly assert to you that he has been of enormous help to this president of the United States.”

Going further, McCain even told Hayes in comments heretofore unpublished that he’d consider Cheney for an administration post.

Asked whether he’d be interested in Cheney had the vice president not already have served under Bush for two terms, McCain said: “I don’t know if I would want him as vice president. He and I have the same strengths. But to serve in other capacities? Hell, yeah.”


He's got game

Damn me. I was poking around the McCain site yesterday and didn't catch this.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

"A series of tubes"

Ruh roh, I don't think McCain's team has figured out the intertubes.


Change, change, chaaaaange

Oh, this is sweet.

John McCain takes great pride in saying that he’s a fiscal conservative, and he’s already signaled that he will try to define me with the same old tax-and-spend label that his side has been throwing around for decades. But let’s look at the facts.

John McCain once said that he couldn’t vote for the Bush tax breaks in good conscience because they were too skewed to the wealthiest Americans. Later, he said it was irresponsible to cut taxes during a time of war because we simply couldn’t afford them. Well, nothing’s changed about the war, but something’s certainly changed about John McCain, because these same Bush tax cuts are now his central economic policy. Not only that, but he is now calling for a new round of tax giveaways that are twice as expensive as the original Bush plan and nearly twice as regressive. His policy will spend nearly $2 trillion on tax breaks for corporations, including $1.2 billion for Exxon alone, a company that just recorded the highest profits in history.

Think about that. At a time when we’re fighting two wars, when millions of Americans can’t afford their medical bills or their tuition bills, when we’re paying more than $4 a gallon for gas, the man who rails against government spending wants to spend $1.2 billion on a tax break for Exxon Mobil. That isn’t just irresponsible. It’s outrageous.

If John McCain’s policies were implemented, they would add $5.7 trillion to the national debt over the next decade. That isn’t fiscal conservatism, that’s what George Bush has done over the last eight years. Not only can working families not afford it, future generations can’t afford it. And we can’t allow it to happen in this election.

I’ll take a different approach. I will reform our tax code so that it’s simple, fair, and advances opportunity instead of distorting the market by advancing the agenda of some lobbyist or oil company. I’ll shut down the corporate loopholes and tax havens, and I’ll use the money to help pay for a middle-class tax cut that will provide $1,000 of relief to 95% of workers and their families. I’ll make oil companies like Exxon pay a tax on their windfall profits, and we’ll use the money to help families pay for their skyrocketing energy costs and other bills. We’ll also eliminate income taxes for any retiree making less than $50,000 per year, because every senior deserves to live out their life in dignity and respect. And while John McCain wants to pick up where George Bush left off by trying again to privatize Social Security, I will never waver in my commitment to protect that basic promise as President. We will not privatize Social Security, we will not raise the retirement age, and we will save Social Security for future generations by asking the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share.

Now, contrary to what John McCain may say, every single proposal that I’ve made in this campaign is paid for – because I believe in pay-as-you-go. Senator McCain is right that there’s waste in government, and I intend to root it out as President. But his suggestion that the earmark reforms that we’re both interested in implementing will somehow make up for his enormous tax giveaway indicates that John McCain was right when he said that he doesn’t understand the economy as well as he should. Either that or he’s hoping you just won’t notice. Whatever it is, it’s not the kind of change we need in Washington right now.

He's good. He's really good.

As John Cole writes, McCain and his proxies will whine that Obama promised he wouldn't be mean, but his shots at McCain are facts, and told in a way that people can understand.

Of course, countering the logical appeal of "A real American leader America needs," or whatever the hell McCain's slogan is, will be very difficult.

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I've been reading Rick Perlstein's fantastic Nixonland. So it's not a surprise to see how an African-American presidential candidate, no matter how accomplished, well-educated, conciliatory, and ground-breaking, would prompt the culture warriors to roll out language from the 1960s.

An Obama presidency would signal the final salvo by the Left in the culture wars. Obama’s advance troops have already taken over our college campuses, have bound and gagged our conservative professors, have ravished our virgins, have pillaged our stores of wisdom, and have ensconced themselves in the thrones of power in deans’, presidents’ and department heads’ offices.

In other words, guard your daughters, 'cause the coloreds are comin'.

And remember, white folks, we're the aggrieved ones.

For decades, teachers have been inculcating an alternative tradition and belief system. The beliefs may be based on such amorphous and sophistical ideas as “social justice,” “tolerance,” and “multiculturalism,” the traditions may lead back to the communist ideology of the nineteenth century and then through the heyday of radicalism in the sixties, but the means for inculcation are entrenched.

The conservative traditions and beliefs, in contrast, are rarely to be found in college syllabi and high school textbooks. Obama connects with audiences because they have been primed for him and his message. Obama, with his scantly [sic] resume, is an affirmative action candidate. But his record as a “community organizer” places him at an advantage with those who believe in “social activism” in the classroom.

"Social justice" -- you know what that means. I'm sure the rumors about handing out AK47s on the South Side will be proven true any day now.

I suppose we should laugh at this, it is Clown Hall, after all. But this is just the extreme fringe of a tact the RNC and their talking monkeys will take in the next few months. Expect to hear a lot about "rising crime" and affirmative action.

Speaking of their talking monkeys.

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Biden VP?

Dionne thinks he's a good choice.

C&L, while still pissed about the bankruptcy bill, makes a good argument, too.


Monday, June 09, 2008

Winning over AIPAC

Via Hertzberg, Bernard Avishai analyzes Obama's speech from last week, which transported him from a suspicious and naive character to the receiving end of a warm standing ovation.

So there is a peculiarly Israeli condescension for Obama just now, which I predict will dissipate as he grows in stature, and the world he is sketching feels more imminent. It is the same condescension most have, since Oslo, for people who trusted Arabs, or still trust politicians, or stop for pedestrians, or think voters are not just selfish. It is the condescension people in the peace movement endure day in, day out. The thing is, Obama is not a graying professor at a Van Leer Institute seminar. He is quite possibly the next president of the United States.

NOT WITHOUT FLORIDA and/or New Jersey and/or Pennsylvania, however, so Obama came to AIPAC knowing that he had to make his case in a way that both reassured (better, enchanted) his audience yet did not undermine the very basis of what differentiates him from McCain. This he did.

He chose his words carefully. He checked off all the ways he is committed to Israel’s security, which indeed any American president must be. He also made sure to emphasize that a friend of peace is a true friend of Israel; he promised that he would not wait until the end of his term to get involved in the peacemaking. He spoke compellingly about the need for a diplomatic surge with Iran. He also recommitted himself to a two state solution. He did it all with a grace that earned a standing ovation and made me wonder why I was not a member of AIPAC myself.

Avishai points out that the speech did not win him any friends in the Arab world, but something tells me that none of them are interested in four more years of the Bush administration's policy towards Arab countries...except you-know-who, of course.

Anyway, the whole thing is a must-read.

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Back in the USSR

Does John McCain want to reopen the Cold War with Russia out of personal conviction or because he's advised by an aide who "once" worked for former Soviet states?

As president, McCain says he would back up his tough talk with equally aggressive policies. He wants to kick Russia out of the Group of 8, the organization of the world's leading industrial powers. McCain has also long been a proponent of quickly expanding NATO to include former Soviet allies like Georgia. Russia bristles at the notion of the Western military alliance encroaching on her border. "Rather than tolerate Russia's nuclear blackmail or cyber attacks," McCain said in a March speech, "Western nations should make clear that the solidarity of NATO, from the Baltic to the Black Sea, is indivisible."

This kind of talk -- in particular the call to oust Russia from the G-8 -- has given pause to seasoned experts on that part of the world, who tend to emphasize engagement with Russia. McCain's harsh rhetoric and tough proposals led Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria to write an April column titled "McCain's Radical Foreign Policy." If McCain were to pursue his Russia agenda as president, Zakaria wrote, it would be interpreted by much of the world as an "attempt by Washington to begin a new Cold War."

But the sound of sabers rattling is music to the ears of Randy Scheunemann, the McCain campaign's senior foreign policy and national security advisor. A long-term confidant of the candidate, Scheunemann also supports a very tough stance toward Russia. Unlike McCain, until very recently he was paid to support that stance. McCain, already under fire for the role of lobbyists in his campaign, is taking his foreign policy advice from someone who was a paid lobbyist for former Soviet Bloc countries that are wary of Russia, and seems to advocate those policies the countries and their former lobbyist want. Notably, McCain supports a quick expansion of NATO, and Scheunemann has already helped two former Soviet satellites gain admission to NATO and has worked on behalf of two others.

Until early this year, Scheunemann was simultaneously working for the McCain campaign and as a lobbyist for a shifting menu of Eastern European and former Soviet Bloc countries with NATO aspirations. Some, including Georgia, have chilly relations with Russia. At various times from 2001 through early this year, Georgia, Latvia, Romania and Macedonia paid Scheunemann and his partner, Mike Mitchell, more than $2 million. Much of Scheunemann's work focused on paving the way into the NATO fold. Two of Scheunemann's clients, Latvia and Romania, were admitted to full NATO member status in 2004, after which they ceased paying him.

And the Salon article goes on to note the confusion McCain's feints are creating within the foreign policy wonk community, as his positions on dealing with Russia seem to be "evolving."

While McCain's plan to kick Russia out of the G-8 is widely unpopular, Democrats also support expanding NATO -- but more gradually and with Russia's concerns carefully taken into account. At a meeting at the Council of Foreign Relations on March 7 that included Scheunemann, the Democratic candidates' national security advisors said McCain was too confrontational with Russia.

"Where I get a little bit concerned, Randy, is when you sound like you're issuing ultimatums in a variety of fronts without finding ways to be able to talk and discuss and work through our issues as well," said Mara Rudman, a Clinton advisor.

Scheunemann took a hard line. "No outside country has a veto on [NATO] membership," he said. "With Russia, I don't think Senator McCain's position is secret to a lot of folks," he added. "He often likes to say when he looks into Putin's eyes, all he sees is a K, a G, and a B."

Simons, now a visiting scholar at Harvard's Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, was one of a number of experts interviewed by Salon who believe McCain's hawkish Russia policy is counterproductive. "It is not the right way to deal with this part of the world," Simons said. He described McCain's strategy as "punish and challenge, hit them in the nose, stick them in the eye."

Given the concern about McCain and his advisor's aggressive attitude toward Russia, a recent speech the candidate delivered about nuclear nonproliferation left many Russian experts scratching their heads. In a May 27 address in Denver, McCain struck a strangely conciliatory note, laying out "a vision not of the United States acting alone, but building and participating in a community of nations all drawn together in this vital common purpose," he said. "While we have serious differences, with the end of the Cold War, Russia and the United States are no longer mortal enemies." McCain then announced that he would seek a new arms control agreement with Russia.

Russian experts, who have eyed McCain's confrontational tone with some skepticism, were obviously confused. Charles Kupchan, a professor of international affairs at Georgetown University, said the speech left him thinking that McCain's policy toward Russia is "schizophrenic."

"It is just contradictory," explained Kupchan. "If you really want a breakthrough arms control deal with the Russians, it is probably not a good idea to kick him out of the G-8."

Dig a little into any area where McCain's past and current statements are at odds and I think you'll find a view into the thinking of a man who doesn't really think about policy all that much. Which is what we need, dontcha think: a shallow, incurious man advised by neoconservative lobbyists.


Blue Monday, Muddy Waters edition

Long Distance Call

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Quick study

Ezra learns that the vapidity of the press cannot be underestimated.

Just one example:

National security. Surprisingly, given McCain's reputation as a hawk and Obama's as a peacenik, they don't differ much in their ideas about how best to protect the country. Both want to increase the size of the military and provide more training and equipment. Both oppose the use of torture as an interrogation technique, and both would like to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center.

Um, no. Toward the end of the editorial, the writer admits that they are pretty different, especially when it comes to that minor detail known as the Occupation of Iraq. But Iraq is the single biggest national security issue we face, and McCain thinks the festering over there is something we should continue to pick at.

Further, while McCain may make pleasing noises about torture, during the Republican primary season his actions didn't match his words.

On a range of issues, McCain and Obama should provide an opportunity for real policy debates. Op-eds like this one undermine that.


Spelled M-A-N

Matthew Guirreire has a theory for what made Bo Diddley so unique.

He was born Ellas Bates in Mississippi, but he grew up in Chicago, the only Northerner among rock's pioneers. Arriving in the city at the tail end of the Great Migration, he absorbed its musical culture, a distinctive distillation of blues, gospel, and jazz: lean, electric, direct. Technologically savvy, he built and customized his own instruments and amplifiers. He applied the same inventive facility to the blues itself.

His Southern counterparts advertised their influences, drawing comforting parallels with familiar genres - Berry's "Maybelline" was a sped-up country-western song; Elvis leavened his blues with country crooning and the pure earnestness of white gospel. But Diddley seemed intent on eliminating any frame of reference except Bo Diddley himself. The elements were all in place on his first, eponymous single: the already austere blues progressions reduced to a single, repeated chord; the smooth, white-noise wash of cymbals replaced with brittle maracas and rumbling tom-toms; his guitar - its boxy body severing even a visual connection to its acoustic ancestor - fitted with a tremolo unit Diddley built out of automobile and alarm-clock parts, producing a radioactive shimmer.

His northern roots probably didn't help in dealing with impresarios, like Ed Sullivan.

His urban brashness hardly smoothed his career path. Elvis won over variety-show gatekeeper Ed Sullivan with Southern politeness and aw-shucks humility; Diddley nearly hit him after a repertoire mix-up caused Sullivan to derisively call Diddley "black boy." "I was ready to fight," Diddley recalled. "I was a dude from the streets of Chicago." He didn't appear on network television for another decade.


"Now, let's go kick some ass"

Well, Sen. Clinton didn't say that in so many words...but a great speech.

There are some (though definitely a minority, it seems) who thought it was too much about her, but I think she said what needed to be said. She strongly and repeatedly endorsed Obama, but she also needed to let her supporters know that this long primary battle wasn't for nothing. It was historic.

With the speech she positioned herself, rightly, as a leader of the party. Behind Sen. Obama, to be sure, but right there at his side.

Whether you supported Obama or Clinton, whether you're cautiously confident or just a little sad, you have reason to be proud to be a Democrat.

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Four more years

Like the fire piano

Thursday, June 05, 2008


Oh, Jeebus, it's going to be a long campaign.

McCain and Obama: a stark matchup

By Linda Feldmann Thu Jun 5, 4:00 AM ET

Washington - The contrasts could not be more stark: an African-American Democrat versus a white Republican. The latter old enough to be the father of the former. One with no military experience, the other with a long Navy career punctuated by a harrowing period of captivity in a Hanoi prison camp. One with a soaring rhetorical style that can light up a sports arena, the other more comfortable in the back-and-forth banter of a town-hall meeting.

And then there are the policy differences...

Warrior chiefs

To borrow Atrios' trademarked phrase, this has been another installment of "What Digby Says."

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An enjoyable game

With the Jankees these days, you gotta take what you can get.

“It’s a great game and it’s a frustrating game and it’s a strange game all at the same time,” said Mussina after win No. 259. “A lot of people assumed that my best stuff was behind me. Granted, I don’t throw the ball 90 miles an hour any more. I know that. But I still know how to pitch.”

The Yankees should sit Joba, Phil and Ian in a room and have them watch every pitch Mussina threw tonight. It was a clinic on hitting spots, changing speeds and working efficiently.

Credit also to Joe Girardi, who has used Mussina once beyond twice the sixth inning. At 39, Mussina doesn’t have a bottomless tank. The Yankees are getting everything they can out of him and ensuring he’ll have more to give in the second half.


Derek Jeter doesn’t get much involved in contemplating where is stands in baseball history. But when your name is behind only Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth on the “Most hits by a Yankee” list, that’s not something you can easily dismiss.

“My name doesn’t fit up there,” he said. “It sounds funny, doesn’t it? Just playing on the same team as those guys is pretty special.”

Jeter is 102 hits away from catching the Bambino. A reporter told him he has a great shot to do it this season.

“All I want is a shot at McGowan tomorrow,” he said.

Posada needs surgery, according to Abraham, but he's back in the lineup this afternoon.



McCain supports everything he once opposed.

Even as the McCain and Obama campaigns agreed to explore holding a series of town-hall-style meetings together, they traded attacks for much of the day. Mr. McCain said that Mr. Obama’s support for holding talks with the leaders of Iran and other adversaries of the United States showed “a naïvete and a lack of experience that Americans will make a judgment about.”

And after Mr. McCain said, in response to a question at a news conference here about why he had opposed a pair of bills to investigate the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina, that he had “supported every investigation,” the Democrats and the Obama campaign noted that he had voted twice against establishing a Congressional commission to investigate the response.



Skull and roses

Alton Kelly, RIP.

From a story last year in commemoration of the "Summer of Love:"

Stanley [Mouse] and I had no idea what we were doing. But we went ahead and looked at American Indian stuff, Chinese stuff, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Modern, Bauhaus, whatever. We were stunned by what we found and what we were able to do. We had free rein to just go graphically crazy. Where before that all advertising was pretty much just typeset with a photograph of something. The last time there was any really posters done that had any value done were the posters done for World War II. "Loose Lips Sink Ships." But that was good stuff. At least it was graphically there. I saw one that showed a P-38 fighter plane and down below you could see a Japanese city burning and bullets were flying and it says "Payoff for Pearl Harbor" with a big Cadillac emblem. There was some pretty wild stuff during that period. Then it went Madison Avenue and the man in the gray flannel suit where it just got kinda bleak.

The printers were so happy. They were printing this junk and we came in and asked them to do stuff that they had never done. They showed us tricks, so it was a give and take on printing. They were happy as could be over the whole idea of it. They weren't just printing a photograph of a thing that said Buy Your Latest Camera at the Kodak store and they show a picture of a camera. Hell we came in there and it was this kind of thing, like skull and roses, Zig Zag man, Howlin' Wolf and all these things. They just loved it. They couldn't wait for us to show up.

Some of their work.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Take a deep breadth

By the looks on their faces in this photo, it's going to take a lot of Barack Obama's "profound humility" to make peace with Clinton.


Short-sighted idiots

Do ya think, just maybe, U.S. automakers wish they hadn't been quite so vigorous in their opposition to higher mileage standards nor quite so aggressive in pushing monster trucks?

The F-250 is part of the first generation of mass-market vehicles — along with the Lincoln Navigator, Lexus LX 570 and a few others — to approach the six-figure mark. Now, if you walked into a showroom today and asked to see one of these trucks, the price tag wouldn’t be anywhere near $100,000. It would be much closer to $50,000.

But you don’t buy a vehicle to leave it in your garage. You buy it to drive it. So it makes sense to consider the full costs of ownership, which include insurance, interest, repairs, taxes and, of course, gasoline. If gas remains near $4 a gallon, as many analysts expect, a big vehicle like the F-250 will cost $100,000 for an owner who keeps it for a typical amount of time (five years) and drives it a typical amount (15,000 miles a year). The gas alone would cost about $30,000, up from about $10,000 in the 1990s.

No wonder, then, that Americans are changing their driving habits so quickly. With sales plummeting, General Motors said Tuesday that it would stop making pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles at four of its North American plants.

Similarly, their failure to support Democratic attempts to reform health care in this country is counter-intuitive since health care is their number-one cost. If I were a stock holder, I'd be wondering why the knee-jerk opposition to these things when such reforms would benefit their business in the long run. Weird.


Time to turn the page

Obama: "I respect [John McCain's] many accomplishments, even if he chooses to deny mine."

Pitch perfect.


Tuesday, June 03, 2008


I respect Sen. Clinton's decision to fight on during the primaries -- as Digby sagely pointed out recently, she was still winning primaries, so it's not like she's Lyndon LaRouche -- and I can understand it if she makes the decision to stay in this thing for a few more days, or even weeks as she tries to figure out her next moves.

But these people are batshit crazy. Why are they doing this?*

And for those who say "It's Clinton or I'm voting McCain," think about it.

*Interesting, No Quarter, the site where Larry Johnson has apparently been howling and balling himself into a fetal position for some time, appears to have gone down in the past hour or so. I guess the servers crashed as every lobbyist working for McCain went there for the "shocking" video of Ms. Obama.

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Bobble foot

Sharper than Ted Stevens

In a sign of how seriously the WaPo takes Newt Gingrich and his young Turk in their attempt to make "government" more like "Silicon Valley" -- in other words, their attempt to make the GOP look relevant in the "21st Century" -- the story appears in the "Styles" section.

Surrounded by 30 guests in a spacious San Francisco apartment, Kralik tells a story that refuses to die. Always gets laughs. Nearly two years ago, Ted Stevens of Alaska, the longest-serving Republican in the Senate and former chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, stunned techies when he referred to the Internet as "a series of tubes."

"Yep, I'm sorry to say it, but that's what we're up against in Washington," Kralik says to his audience, a group of Republican and Libertarian high-tech entrepreneurs called Lead21.Then, as he does sometimes, he pumps his fist, raises his voice and gets excited by a project that, for him, requires immediate attention.

He's frustrated that there isn't one site that lists the country's estimated 513,000 elected officials -- not just Washington officials but local city council members, school commissioners, judges, etc. So he's helped create what he calls 513Connect, "the Wikipedia for all elected officials." On the site, not yet available to the public, users edit a list of elected officials across the country. Type in your Zip code. Find your community. Enter the name of your local officials.

Just the kind of deep thinkers to achieve affordable health care for all.

More substantively, this is the latest in a long line of conservative dreams to make government "more like a business." Which, I guess, is better than their other dream of drowning it in the bathtub (an idea retired when New Orleans drowned). But government is not a business -- success is measured differently and employee incentives are of a different order altogether. Furthermore, is Silicon Valley the right model, anyway? Not all is milk and honey out there, and would you really want people working at the DMV to be as arrogant as Google employees?


The real crime

A lack of candor, worse than manslaughter?

"Waging an unnecessary war is a grave mistake. But in reflecting on all that happened during the Bush administration, I've come to believe that an even more fundamental mistake was made -- a decision to turn away from candor and honesty when those qualities were most needed."

What the fuck is wrong with these people?


Monday, June 02, 2008

Rest in peace, Bo

"The Bo Diddley Beat"

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The Reagan Democrats in Ferraro's head

Geraldine Ferraro listens to imaginary voices and concludes that the same voters who didn't vote for her and Mondale's ticket won't vote for Barack because...ahem...he's an elitist black activist.

Whom he chooses for his vice president makes no difference to them. That he is pro-choice means little. Learning more about his bio doesn't do it. They don't identify with someone who has gone to Columbia and Harvard Law School and is married to a Princeton-Harvard Law graduate. His experience with an educated single mother and being raised by middle class grandparents is not something they can empathize with. They may lack a formal higher education, but they're not stupid. What they're waiting for is assurance that an Obama administration won't leave them behind.

Wow. Hizoy responds.

Though Ferraro says that Reagan Democrats want assurance that Obama understands their problems, apparently this isn't enough. Nor is the fact that Obama has gone out of his way to have an inclusive message, to reach out to all kinds of people, and to try to treat everyone with respect.

But if neither his positions, the things he says, his biography, or quite explicit assurances can reach the Reagan Democrats Ferraro imagines, then what could reach them? Frankly, it's hard to imagine.

And what is it about Obama that makes it impossible for him to reassure Reagan Democrats, whatever he says, whatever he does, and whatever positions he holds? Ferraro says this: "They don't identify with someone who has gone to Columbia and Harvard Law School and is married to a Princeton-Harvard Law graduate." But that can't be right: surely Reagan Democrats don't have such a finely-grained view of the distinctions[...] between Ivy League law schools that while Obama qualifies as an elitist, someone who went to Wellesley and Yale Law School and is married to a Georgetown-Yale Law grad counts as the salt of the earth.

It's very hard to avoid the conclusion that Obama cannot reach the Reagan Democrats in Geraldine Ferraro's head, that they don't think he will treat them fairly or understand them or their problems, because he is black.

Hilzoy's entire post is worth a read. In the last few weeks it's been clear that Clinton's last best gambit -- in her and her advisors' minds -- is to persuade the remaining few uncommitted delegates and super delegates that she is the more bankable candidate in the general election. Not because she ran a better campaign for the nomination. Not because the polls show her beating McCain and Obama not. She's been a little more artful than Ferraro and hasn't gone so far as to point out hostility to "reverse racism" as the reason to support her. But it's clear she's been trying to seed in the delegates' minds that he can't win because he's black.

This primary has seen its share of highs and lows, the sublime and the ridiculous. But to see party leaders opine on the validity of voters' supposed racism has been sad and dispiriting. Ferraro's a crank. I had thought better of Hillary Clinton. But her turn to the right on this, like her turns to the right when she made her judgments on Iraq, the invasion, and other national security issues, illustrate why she lost a nomination that all but seemed inevitable six months ago.

UPDATE: Oh, and Jesse's back.


Blue Monday, Sonny Terry edition

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