Thursday, July 31, 2008

The infamy of Tommie Smith and John Carlos

The doughy pantload has those pants up in a knot over...wait for it...ESPN's coverage of the 40 year anniversary of the black power salute during the 200 meters awards ceremony at the Mexico City Olympics.

" In 1972, Palestinian terrorists — grateful for 1968’s lesson in the propaganda value of Olympics media attention — slaughtered Israeli athletes."

Click the link above for Doghouse Riley's explosive rant about Goldberg's lazy historical analysis, overt racism, and just plain ignorance -- a rant that will make you long for the days of the three martini afternoon. But I ask you this: Does Adolph Hitler, when he reads this stuff in imaginary Hell, sigh and think, "What am I, chopped liver?"

More cultural analysis for the brain dead spawn of Lucianne:

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Well played, Mr. Cashman. Well played.

A very good week for the Yankees GM, basically getting Ivan Rodriguez, Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte for four middling "prospects" and two expensive, combustible relievers. Future H of Fer Ivan probably doesn't have much left, but he's an upgrade offensively over Molina and may well rise to the pennant chasing occasion. And Nady -- though he's yet to deliver much -- is also an upgrade in left since Damon can barely reach the cutoff man with his arm and the speedy Gardner wasn't even Replacement Level.

And Cash still has about four hours to go before the trading deadline (a misnomer, by the way, teams can still trade; only difference is the tradees must clear waivers after 4:00 this afternoon).

UPDATE: WOW! I thought this was the annual "Yes, Manny, we're really trying to trade you" Kabuki the Sox have engaged in for the last seventy-five trading deadlines. I know Manny being Manny was getting old, but shit, a future H of Fer for Jason Bay? We'll have to see, but isn't that cutting off your nose to spite your face? I think the Yankees' chances got a little bit better today.

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Sail away, please

This has been a rough morning, what with Obama getting all "inflammatory" and all, but this has moved today into the realm of horror.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wanker, thy name is Dana

I know he's probably pissed at his parents for giving him a girl's name, but why does the asshole have to take it out on the readers of the Washington Post. And Somerby doesn't even mention Milbank' use of ellipses. Here's Milbank in today's home town paper of the world's most powerful people:

The 5:20 TBA turned out to be his adoration session with lawmakers in the Cannon Caucus Room, where even committee chairmen arrived early, as if for the State of the Union. Capitol Police cleared the halls -- just as they do for the actual president. The Secret Service hustled him in through a side door -- just as they do for the actual president.

Inside, according to a witness, he told the House members, "This is the moment . . . that the world is waiting for," adding: "I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions."

As he marches toward Inauguration Day (Election Day is but a milestone on that path), Obama's biggest challenger may not be Republican John McCain but rather his own hubris.

Wow, that black fellow sure has a high opinion of himself, doesn't he? The world's been waiting for him, huh? John Lennon had nothing on him.

Perhaps, but apparently this is what Obama really said.

BUT A DEMOCRATIC SOURCE SAYS: “His entire point of that riff was that the campaign IS NOT about him. [The Post] left out the important first half of the sentence, which was along the lines of: ‘It has become increasingly clear in my travel, the campaign, that the crowds, the enthusiasm, 200,000 people in Berlin, is not about me at all. It’s about America. I have just become a symbol … .”

Yes, I'm impugning his character

John McCain is a liar. He lies repeatedly, unashamedly, even when he's called out on it. It's time for someone to say that.

And the Times reports the GOP is "worried" McCain is going negative so early. Bullshit. The GOP has never had any qualms about going negative. Early. And often.

Never mind, though, Obama is presumptuous.

UPDATE: Well, what do you know?

The essence of McCain's allegation is that Obama planned to take a media entourage, including television cameras, to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany during his week-long foreign trip, and that he canceled the visit when he learned he could not do so. "I know that, according to reports, that he wanted to bring media people and cameras and his campaign staffers," McCain said Monday night on CNN's "Larry King Live."

The Obama campaign has denied that was the reason he called off the visit. In fact, there is no evidence that he planned to take anyone to the American hospital other than a military adviser, whose status as a campaign staff member sparked last-minute concern among Pentagon officials that the visit would be an improper political event.


McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said again yesterday that the Republican's version of events is correct, and that Obama canceled the visit because he was not allowed to take reporters and cameras into the hospital.

"It is safe to say that, according to press reports, Barack Obama avoided, skipped, canceled the visit because of those reasons," he said. "We're not making a leap here."

Asked repeatedly for the "reports," Bounds provided three examples, none of which alleged that Obama had wanted to take members of the media to the hospital.

The McCain campaign has produced a television commercial that says that while in Germany, Obama "made time to go to the gym but canceled a visit with wounded troops. Seems the Pentagon wouldn't allow him to bring cameras." The commercial shows Obama shooting a basketball -- an event that happened earlier in the trip on a stopover in Kuwait, where the Democrat spoke to troops in a gym before grabbing a ball and taking a single shot. The military released the video footage.

A three-pointer. Nothing but net.

But I digress. Back to the Post.

A reconstruction of the circumstances surrounding Obama's decision not to visit Landstuhl, based on firsthand reporting from the trip, shows that his campaign never contemplated taking the media with him.


Gibbs was asked yesterday about the continuing allegations from McCain that the real reason was a desire to bring a media entourage to the hospital.

"That's completely untrue, and I think, honestly, they know it's untrue," Gibbs said.

John Cole explains this man bites dog story.

The McCain campaign forgot one basic thing on this attempted smear- the ego of the reporters and the mainstream media. These folks are fine with printing any lie you can come up with, as long as they have plausible deniability. You can feed them all sorts of shit about someone possessing WMD, or about Obama being Muslim, etc., so long as you cite unnamed sources or undisclosed sources in the government or anonymous experts, and you leave the blame somewhere else. They will print any old rumor if you do that.

But when you try to make them part of the lie, you just can’t get away with it. They were there on the trip- and the McCain idiots tried to make them part of the lie. And they might have gotten away with it had the Obama camp not fought back and had Andrea Mitchell not started the groundswell of media pushback. Now, when the McCain team tries to spread this lie, the egos in the media see it as an attack on their integrity, because they are named accomplices if they do not push back. Again, the ego of the media is the most important thing, and the McCain geniuses forgot it.

But as John also notes, these are reporters, not Fred Hiatt or David Broder or Richard Cohen, all of whom will replay Landstuhl-gate for all it's worth from now through October.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Say it ain't so, Ted

The Hulk, indicted on seven counts.

Stevens has coasted to re-election six times in Alaska, but was in what was viewed as the toughest race of his career this year against Anchorage Mayor Mark Begicha.

It also tarnishes one of the most powerful and savvy of the GOP lions in the Senate a year after another Republican senator, Larry Craig of Idaho, pleaded guilty to charges arising out of a Minneapolis airport men's room sex sting.

Stevens for years wielded power from his position as chairman of the Appropriations Committee from 1997 to 2005, except for 18 months when Democrats controlled the Senate. His longevity also means that if Republicans took over the Senate, he would be president pro tempore, a mostly symbolic title but one that would make him third in line for the presidency after the vice president and speaker of the House.

Under Senate rules, Tuesday's indictment will require Stevens to give up his post as senior Republican on the Appropriations Committee.

On Capitol Hill, Sen. John Warner, R-Va., called Stevens a hero, adding, however, he didn't know any details about the indictment. "All of us have time that we have to deal with that are tough," Warner said. "I wish him the best."

It's terrific that every time a GOP senator lands in scalding water, Larry Craig's name (or foot) pops up.


A news template

Struggling newspapers could save millions by simply creating a template for stories highlighting each of John McCain's latest claims/announcements/gaffes, with the second paragraph of each story beginning,

But McCain’s own campaign refused to say whether it stands by the candidate’s announcement...


Don't come around here, no more

In the words of the Wicked Witch of the West, "What a world, what a world."

You may wonder: why would anyone spin a crazed-gunman story to make it look more like his own propaganda? You have to remember that all these people have left anymore are their folk-tales and myths. A world in which hippies don't spit on soldiers, Obama isn't a Muslim, and all hate crimes don't proceed from P.Z. Myers' atheism lab would not be a world they recognized or could live in.

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"This is not America"

Potemkin trials, Potemkin justice.

GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba — On the surface, the proceedings unfolding inside a makeshift courthouse on a hill here resemble an American trial. A judge wearing a black robe presides. There is a public gallery and a witness stand. Prosecutors present witnesses, and defense lawyers cross-examine them. Objections are made and ruled upon.

But behind the judicial routine at the first trial for a Guantánamo detainee lies a parallel universe of law and lawyers. Secret evidence held in red folders is not revealed in open court. The gallery is mostly empty, because there are no members of the public. In what would be the jury box, every occupant wears a military uniform.


The chief Guantánamo prosecutor, Col. Lawrence J. Morris of the Army, said this first Guantánamo tribunal was “the most just war crimes trial that anybody has ever seen.”

Matt Pollard, a legal adviser for Amnesty International who is an observer here, sees it differently. He said he was struck by a sense that the proceedings were more of a replica of a trial than a real one.

“We are within a frame of a beautiful picture,” created by the Pentagon, Mr. Pollard said. “When you’re inside that frame, everything looks nice.”


With few seats designated for reporters in the courtroom, the Pentagon set up closed-circuit televisions at a news media center in an old hangar. During some critical moments in the first week of testimony, the courtroom camera was pointed away from witnesses’ faces and the evidence, including documents and videotapes.

When a reporter noted that in America reporters were permitted to see witnesses and evidence, a spokeswoman for the Office of Military Commissions at the Pentagon, Maj. Gail Crawford, responded, “This is not America.”

Truer words were never said.

Keep in mind that Hamdan's boss, Abdellah Tabarak, was released from Guantanamo in 2004, and now walks the streets of Morocco, a free man.

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Very amusing. Go watch, and give if you can.


Monday, July 28, 2008


The New Yorker cartoon blog can be pretty amusing, but can we really believe that Drew Dernavich does not know the origin of the phrase, "drinking the kool-aid?"

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Joba rules

It's been a long, wet summer, but this weekend, up at the Fens, Yankee fans could begin to allow themselves to believe October baseball is a distinct possibility.

Two of three in Boston (and that third game went way past my bed time so I slept soundly enough).

Joba Chamberlain explains why he's a starter, out-dueling Josh Beckett. And no, all whining aside, Joba was not throwing at Youkilis in a 1-0 game, but if Youks wants to think so, that's just fine.

The Yankees tee off once again on Tim Wakefield. Andy Pettitte continues to be the best second half pitcher in baseball.

Cashman pulls off another highway robbery, this time with Pittsburgh the victim.

And Manny is just being Manny, except this time he pretty much guaranteed this will be his last year with les Hose rouges.

And the Tampa Bay Deviled Rays start looking a little altitude sick.

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"No child on my lawn"

The Karl Rove playbook

If we hadn't already seen similar tactics in the past several elections, I'd say that what John McCain is trying to do is as shocking as it is disgusting. I know all campaigns go negative and that negative tends to work. But by going there so early and by placing it in such personal terms -- Obama'd rather win an election than a war, he doesn't care about the troops, etc. -- McCain is not giving voters any reason to vote for McCain. What he's trying to is suppress voter enthusiasm and turnout. It's shameless and cynical, and it will either end in the complete diminishing of McCain's reputation or, if it succeeds, an administration even more polarizing than the current one, if that's possible.

This stuff you expect of slime boaters and other 527s, not the major party candidate himself. Not before neither he, nor his opponent, has been actually nominated. And by going there so early, McCain's campaign is putting us on notice that you can expect this bludgeoning bullshit to continue unabated for the next four months.


Blue Monday, Band of Gypsys edition

Sunday, July 27, 2008

"Free Obama"

Whew, they had me going there for a second.


Sucked into the vacuum

Frank Rich writes perceptively (and with some excellent satire by Barry Blitt) that Obama's trip overseas shows that he's stepping easily into the leadership void left by the most sittingest duckiest preznit evah and a rival candidate who thinks Iraq and Pakistan share a border.

Fortunately, though, for us regular guys, the media is there to show us that we must resent this.

Until then, this really has been a good week for Obama, as the tracking polls show. That's because where Obama goes, McCain, kicking and screaming, follows. One might call it leadership, but that would be arrogant and presumptuous. And as Bob Cesca at HuffPost points out, the media heathers have been given their talking points, and reserve that description for Obama.

Via his lordship, Atrios.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

"He rode the time trial of his life"

Congratulations to Carlos Sastre who honored the Yellow Jersey with an amazing performance, basically keeping pace with Evans -- the superior time trialist -- to remain over one minute ahead with only the road to Paris left.


Circa pre-Reagan

John Bolton proves, once again, that all history of the era that preceded Reagan has been lost to the minds of conservatives.

First, urging greater U.S.-European cooperation, Obama said, "The burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together." Having earlier proclaimed himself "a fellow citizen of the world" with his German hosts, Obama explained that the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Europe proved "that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one."

Perhaps Obama needs a remedial course in Cold War history, but the Berlin Wall most certainly did not come down because "the world stood as one." The wall fell because of a decades-long, existential struggle against one of the greatest totalitarian ideologies mankind has ever faced. It was a struggle in which strong and determined U.S. leadership was constantly questioned, both in Europe and by substantial segments of the senator's own Democratic Party. In Germany in the later years of the Cold War, Ostpolitik -- "eastern politics," a policy of rapprochement rather than resistance -- continuously risked a split in the Western alliance and might have allowed communism to survive. The U.S. president who made the final successful assault on communism, Ronald Reagan, was derided by many in Europe as not very bright, too unilateralist and too provocative.

We know now that Truman and Kennedy had no interest in fighting Soviet hegemony.

Christ, the anger in Bolton's pronouncements is directly proportional to the level of stupid.


World to U.S.: WTF?

"You're kidding, right?" the World asks.

Pointing to polls that show Obama leading McCain 94 percent to 6 percent everywhere on the inhabited globe except the United States, where most polls give Obama a narrow one- to three-point lead, the entire world suggested that Americans might not be sufficiently informed about the U.S. election. "Look, this isn't funny," said a world representative, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "You've got one candidate who has a reasonably sane and comprehensive foreign policy combined with detailed knowledge of American domestic affairs, and another candidate who isn't always sure which country he's talking about and whose domestic policy consists of telling people to stop whining. Why are you even throwing this open to a vote? Are you people out of your minds?"



Seeing the photograph of a dead U.S. soldier in Iraq that appeared in the Times this morning was indeed a sobering experience. I've certainly seen plenty of combat photographs of past conflicts, but the fighting in Iraq and the 4,000 dead U.S. soldiers and uncountable Iraqi dead that lay in its wake have been kept so distant from our eyes back here that it's wrenching to see it now. We speak of our dead as "fallen heroes" and those who (until very recently) would have us stay indefinitely talk of honoring their sacrifice by "winning." By not seeing these victims, we do not see the horror and sordidness that death in war entails.

Journalists say it is now harder, or harder than in the earlier years, to accompany troops in Iraq on combat missions. Even memorial services for killed soldiers, once routinely open, are increasingly off limits. Detainees were widely photographed in the early years of the war, but the Department of Defense, citing prisoners’ rights, has recently stopped that practice as well.

And while publishing photos of American dead is not barred under the “embed” rules in which journalists travel with military units, the Miller case underscores what is apparently one reality of the Iraq war: that doing so, even under the rules, can result in expulsion from covering the war with the military.

“It is absolutely censorship,” Mr. Miller said. “I took pictures of something they didn’t like, and they removed me. Deciding what I can and cannot document, I don’t see a clearer definition of censorship.”

The Marine Corps denied it was trying to place limits on the news media and said Mr. Miller broke embed regulations. Security is the issue, officials said.

“Specifically, Mr. Miller provided our enemy with an after-action report on the effectiveness of their attack and on the response procedures of U.S. and Iraqi forces,” said Lt. Col. Chris Hughes, a Marine spokesman.

News organizations say that such restrictions are one factor in declining coverage of the war, along with the danger, the high cost to financially ailing media outlets and diminished interest among Americans in following the war. By a recent count, only half a dozen Western photographers were covering a war in which 150,000 American troops are engaged.

In my lifetime I cannot remember a war that has been so devastating to U.S. troops and interest and so little covered.

More photos from Iraq and previous wars here.

Our sensitivities are spared. The war goes on.

Part of the problem, I suspect, is that the Pentagon and the administration believe that Americans lost stomach for the war in Vietnam because of the images from Southeast Asia beamed into living rooms every night. But as the photo essay linked to above shows, the horrors of war were not disinfected before they were shown to the folks back home in WWII. During Vietnam, the images simply underscored the realization of people that they had been lied to in entering the war, lied to during the conduct of the war, and lied to to keep us there. It wasn't the imagery, it was the lies.

We know the lies that fuel our presence in Iraq. What we don't have is the visual record of the meaningless death.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Onion campaign?

Really, it's the only explanation.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

If the river was whiskey, and I was a diving bell

The horror. The horror.

On a surprise visit on Friday, inspectors found mouse droppings, improperly refrigerated ham and a fly floating in a bottle of Maker’s Mark bourbon, among other violations.



Chris Orr wonders why McCain complains so much about the coverage Obama is getting.

The truth is, when you're running a campaign as weak as McCain's has been, in a political environment as hostile to the GOP as this one, the less attention anyone pays to you the better off you probably are.

Yes...but. The McCain campaign doesn't really want more exposure of their candidate's hideous performances. No, they want two things:

1. More coverage like it used to be, and
2. More coverage of the self-hating media giving more coverage to Obama.

Remember, the GOP got addicted in the last several years to adulatory coverage and they've been addicted for an even longer time to whining about the media.


"Get off a my lawn"

Editing McCain

Watching George W. Bush speak, particularly on the campaign trail in 2000 or in his rare news conferences since, followed by reading reports of his remarks the next day in the newspapers was always a frustrating exercise. The accounts I'd read in the newspaper would have no relationship at all to the fumbling, confused, petulant responses I'd actually heard on the teevee.

Well, seems like CBS News has taken this kind of sanitizing to a whole 'nother level. If 2000 is a guide, the results should prove disastrous.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"The One"

I am by nature a suspicious person, seeing the dark arts lurking behind every bit of good news. So I am extremely nervous when I see this level of ineptitude in the McCain campaign.

“It is what it is,” Mr. McCain said with a hint of exasperation at the side of the first President Bush, who acknowledged that he, for one, was “a little jealous” of all the commotion over Mr. Obama’s trip this week to Europe and the Middle East.

Mr. McCain’s comments were mild compared with the bleak mood and frustration on the part of his advisers, who have taken to referring to Mr. Obama sarcastically as “The One” and railing against the large amount of coverage Mr. Obama is receiving compared with Mr. McCain.

“There is nothing you can do about it,” said an acerbic Mark Salter, one of Mr. McCain’s closest advisers, while standing at the back of a modest crowd assembled to hear Mr. McCain speak at a picnic in South Portland, Me. “ ‘The One’ went to Europe and homage must be paid.”

Maybe it's because "The One (and how stupid is it to let the press in on the fact you've conferred such a title on your opponent)" is in Iraq and Afghanistan, surrounded by American military commanders, while your candidate is standing in a picnic ground in Maine. Alongside George H.W. Bush, whose views on invading Iraq sharply differed from McCain.

All you can say is, "Wow." And to think this is all because of McCain's taunting.

Are they even trying?


Border patrol

Election strategy

This has been another edition of "What Atrios said."


Monday, July 21, 2008

McCain's op-ededness

The gasosphere is outraged -- outraged, I tells ya -- that the Times has rejected a McCain op-ed because it was, well, pretty well substance free, though it was full o' ponies.

McCain's piece, which Drudge reprinted in full, attacked Obama's position on troop withdrawals from Iraq and lauded the success of the "surge." In the piece, McCain also stated that he expects "to welcome home most of our troops from Iraq by the end of [his] first term in office, in 2013."

In rejecting McCain's submission, New York Times Op-Ed editor David Shipley said that he wasn't "going to be able to accept this piece as currently written," and explained his rationale by saying: "The Obama piece worked for me because it offered new information (it appeared before his speech); while Senator Obama discussed Senator McCain, he also went into detail about his own plans ... It would be terrific to have an article from Senator McCain that mirrors Senator Obama's piece. To that end, the article would have to articulate, in concrete terms, how Senator McCain defines victory in Iraq."

Right on cue, right-wing bloggers have reacted to Shipley's decision with outrage and allegations of liberal media bias. Little Green Footballs fumed that the Times refused McCain's article while running pieces by Yasser Arafat and members of Hamas in the past. The blog Gateway Pundit asked, sarcastically, "Media bias ... What media bias?" and, in citing the full text of McCain's article, continued, "Here's the editorial that The New York Times refused to publish. It is fantastic. It is a brilliant piece of writing that absolutely destroys Obama's phony attempts this week to look like a Commander in Chief ... Barack Obama is a war loser, plain and simple."

Shocking. New York Times readers are being deprived of this level of insight.

I am also dismayed that he never talks about winning the war—only of ending it. But if we don’t win the war, our enemies will. A triumph for the terrorists would be a disaster for us. That is something I will not allow to happen as president. Instead I will continue implementing a proven counterinsurgency strategy not only in Iraq but also in Afghanistan with the goal of creating stable, secure, self-sustaining democratic allies.

Well, damn. But does the McCain campaign really want to get into an op-ed war? I mean, it could be pretty embarrassing if we start to go down Memory Lane.

The force our military uses will be less than proportional to the threat of injury we can expect to face should Saddam Hussein continue to build an arsenal of the world's most destructive weapons.

How'd that work out?



The Times ran this story with a misleading headline, and they not only buried the lede, they buried the story on page A14 of the timber version of the paper.

In Iraq, controversy continued to reverberate between the United States and Iraqi governments over a weekend news report that Mr. Maliki had expressed support for Mr. Obama’s proposal to withdraw American combat troops within 16 months of January. The reported comments came after Mr. Bush agreed on Friday to a “general time horizon” for pulling out troops from Iraq without a specific timeline.

Diplomats from the United States Embassy in Baghdad spoke to Mr. Maliki’s advisers on Saturday, said an American official, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to discuss what he called diplomatic communications. After that, the government’s spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, issued a statement casting doubt on the magazine’s rendering of the interview.

The statement, which was distributed to media organizations by the American military early on Sunday, said Mr. Maliki’s words had been “misunderstood and mistranslated,” but it failed to cite specifics.

“Unfortunately, Der Spiegel was not accurate,” Mr. Dabbagh said Sunday by telephone. “I have the recording of the voice of Mr. Maliki. We even listened to the translation.”

But the interpreter for the interview works for Mr. Maliki’s office, not the magazine. And in an audio recording of Mr. Maliki’s interview that Der Spiegel provided to The New York Times, Mr. Maliki seemed to state a clear affinity for Mr. Obama’s position, bringing it up on his own in an answer to a general question on troop presence.

The following is a direct translation from the Arabic of Mr. Maliki’s comments by The Times: “Obama’s remarks that — if he takes office — in 16 months he would withdraw the forces, we think that this period could increase or decrease a little, but that it could be suitable to end the presence of the forces in Iraq.”

He continued: “Who wants to exit in a quicker way has a better assessment of the situation in Iraq.”

More on the "clarifications sought by White House" and on what it means for McCain's position here.

UPDATE: Fixed the link.

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Backing a segregationist. We have come a long way in what we deem merely "insensitive."

Senator John McCain was all but a sworn enemy of Senator Trent Lott, the former Republican leader.

Mr. Lott had quashed Mr. McCain’s most cherished legislative goals. And, worse, Mr. McCain believed that in the 2000 Republican primaries, Mr. Lott had spread rumors about his colleague’s mental stability on behalf of his rival for the nomination, George W. Bush.

But when Mr. Bush turned on Mr. Lott in 2002, helping to push him out of the leadership over a racially insensitive remark, Mr. McCain saw a shared grievance and found an opportunity. He leapt to Mr. Lott’s defense, urging Republicans to stick by him.

“He said, ‘I know how you are feeling; you have been treated unfairly,’ ” Mr. Lott recalled. “I am a grateful guy, and I will never forget it.” A legendary dealmaker with a deep store of chits, Mr. Lott became a valuable ally to his former foe, backing him in public debates and less visible Senate intrigues.

Let's go to the videotape, shall we?

At a party celebrating retiring Sen. Thurmond's 100th birthday, attended by hundreds of Thurmond's family members and friends from South Carolina, Senate colleagues and members of the Supreme Court, Lott said that when Thurmond ran for president on a states' rights, anti-integration ticket in 1948, Mississippi voted for him.

"We're proud of it," Lott said to applause. "And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."

In a statement Monday before he apologized, Lott insisted his comments last week had been lighthearted and in no way endorsed Thurmond's positions of more than a half-century ago.

"This was a lighthearted celebration of the 100th birthday of legendary Sen. Strom Thurmond," Lott said in his first statement. "My comments were not an endorsement of his positions of over 50 years ago, but of the man and his life."

Comments that were not simply off the cuff at an emotional send-off, either.

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Blue Monday, Muddy Waters edition

Can't spend what you ain't got. Can't lose what you never had.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Convergence of baseball and idiocy

John McCain joins Rudy and Judith today in Giuliani's Yankee Stadium bribe box.

Lots of free publicity, no doubt, as I'm sure ESPN will play shots of them over and over on "Baseball Tonight."

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Realistic is a left-wing bias

John McCain runs a regular shuttle to Iraq, so of course, so he understands the "reality" of the situation there and the need for U.S. troops to stay for a long time.

McCain attacked the Illinois senator's opposition to the surge policy in Iraq and highlighted his own proposal for victory in Afghanistan.

"[Obama] is speaking today about his plans for Iraq and Afghanistan before he has even left, before he has talked to Gen. Petraeus, before he has seen the progress in Iraq and before he has set foot in Afghanistan for the first time," McCain said at a campaign event in New Mexico.

"In my experience, fact-finding missions usually work best the other way around: First, you assess the facts on the ground; then you present a new strategy."

Iraqi PM Maliki must be similarly unable to "assess the facts on the ground."

"SPIEGEL: Would you hazard a prediction as to when most of the US troops will finally leave Iraq?

Maliki: As soon as possible, as far as we're concerned. U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes.

SPIEGEL: Is this an endorsement for the US presidential election in November? Does Obama, who has no military background, ultimately have a better understanding of Iraq than war hero John McCain?

Maliki: Those who operate on the premise of short time periods in Iraq today are being more realistic. Artificially prolonging the tenure of US troops in Iraq would cause problems. Of course, this is by no means an election endorsement. Who they choose as their president is the Americans' business. But it's the business of Iraqis to say what they want. And that's where the people and the government are in general agreement: The tenure of the coalition troops in Iraq should be limited."

Best part of the whole thing? The White House sent the Reuters story to their press distribution list.

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Al Gore admits it

He's fat.


Dogs marrying cats

Can there be a more unholy union?

At one point, when Mr. McCain offered drinks to his guests, he went out of his way to offer Mr. Romney, a Mormon who does not drink alcohol, a coffee (apparently not realizing that Mormons eschew caffeine as well), said an aide who was told of the encounter later. But the aide said that the gesture seemed appreciated nonetheless.

I am being unfair. There are few politicians more given to reversing their positions -- often on the same day.

RIP, Jo Stafford.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Breaking: the GOP is loathsome

Funny. It's my understanding that, as his party's presidential nominee, John McCain is the leader of his party.



Thursday, July 17, 2008

Yeah, but isn't that what they said in 1929?

Brad DeLong sees a glass decidedly half full, arguing that the sub-prime panic/housing bubble will have little effect on "the real economy."

The unwinding of the dot-com bubble in 2000-2002 went remarkably well: no significant macroeconomic distress, and less financial panic and distress than I believed possible. The unwinding of the real estate bubble in 2007-2009 is so far not going well. There is, by contrast, more financial distress than I believed possible. Who thought that quantitatively sophisticated hedge funds would have enormous unhedged exposure to subprime risk? Who would have thought that highly-leveraged investment banks with an originat-and-sell business model would keep lots of the securities they had originated in their own portfolios--and kept them because they were high yield for their rating, i.e., because the market did not believe they were as low risk as the investment banks had bamboozled the ratings agencies into claiming? Who would have thought that those buying subprime mortgage securities from the likes of Countrywide had done no investigation into how Countrywide was screening out borrowers?

But so far--look: In the dot-com boom of the 1990s we were the winners. The rich investors of America built out a huge amount of fiber-optic cables and conducted an enormous amount of experimentation in business models from which we all benefit. In the real-estate boom of 2000s the rich investors of America and the world built an extra four million houses and loaned the rest of us money at remarkably low interest rates for five years. Those who moved into newly-built houses with teaser-rate mortgages wish those teaser rates would continue--but they won't, and in the meantime they got to live in a nice house for quite a low rent. Those of us who took out big home equity loans wish the low interest rates would continue--but they won't. And those of us who felt rich because our house values have appreciated wish we still could think of ourselves as sleeping on a pile of gold--but we can't.

The dot-com bubble and the real-estate bubble were bad news for the investors in Webvan, WorldCom, Countrywide, FNMA, and securitized subprime mortgages. But they were, by and large, good news for the rest of us. And investors are supposed to take care of themselves.

Now we are not yet out of the woods. If the tide of financial distress sweeps the Fed and the Treasury away--if we find ourselves in a financial-meltdown world where unemployment or inflation kisses 10%--then I will unhappily concede, and say that Greenspanism was a mistake. But so far the real economy in which people make stuff and other people buy it has been remarkably well insulated from panic at 57th and Park and on Canary Wharf.

Similarly, I've always read that the Crash of '29 did not reflect "the real economy" at the time, either. Indeed, I'd be curious to know if even fewer people are today affected by sub-prime mortgages than owned stock in 1929. But the U.S. and world economies slide into a grinding depression in the 1930s nonetheless.

And at least they had Woody.

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A star is born

Hopefully, folks will get past the cover and read Ryan Lizza's long analysis of Obama's rise in Chicago and Illinois politics. Love him or hate him -- especially if you're falling out of love with him during his turn to the general election -- you should read it.


McCain reaches out

To the African-American community, according to NPR. He has to pick up every vote he can, according to the reporter.

Right. A guy who voted against MLK Day, and whose voting record undermines the very speech he gave at the NAACP is reaching out to blacks?

The political reporters on NPR are surely sophisticated enough to know that the only group McCain was reaching out to is independent white voters.


The Yankee Stadium

Alex Belth goes mainstream in the digital pages of SI to describe what The Stadium was like back in the badass ol' days of the 70s and 80s.

The Stadium was an instant success because the '76 Yankees won the pennant, and winning is the only measure of success in the Bronx. One of the defining moments in the team's history came when Chris Chambliss hit a home run against the Kansas City Royals to win the pennant and was mobbed while trying to circle the bases. The scene reflected the atmosphere of the city. In the late '70s games there had an apocalyptic feel. The atmosphere was lawless, like something out of The Warriors and, later, Fort Apache, the Bronx. It was Pacino screaming "Attica!" in Dog Day Afternoon. The fans took charge.

Observed Roger Angell: "It is a new game -- one for which we have no name yet, and no rules. Chambliss makes it at last to the dugout, without touching third or home (third base had disappeared), and vanished under the lip of the dugout, with his uniform shirt half torn away and the look on his face now is not one of joy or fear or relief but just the closed, expressionless, neutral subway look that we all see and wear when abroad in the enormous and inexplicable city."

I'll miss the place, even if the food sucks, the beer is weak, the bathrooms are disgusting, the seats too small, and the passageways and aisles enough to make anyone agoraphobic.


Will the Yankees win 47 more games for a possible playoff spot? Going 47-20 over their final 67 games is really asking a lot. The more prominent question is will they score 47 more runs this season?

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Whiner nation

Look no further than the McCain campaign to see Phil Gramm's recent comments borne out.

The extraordinary coverage planned for Mr. Obama’s trip, though in part solicited by aides, reflects how the candidate remains an object of fascination in the news media, a built-in feature of being the first black presidential nominee for a major political party and a relative newcomer to the national stage.

But the coverage also feeds into concerns in Mr. McCain’s campaign, and among Republicans in general, that the news media are imbalanced in their coverage of the candidates, just as aides to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton felt during the primary season.

“In every campaign, time is a finite resource, so it is unproductive to spend it worrying about the way Obama is covered,” said Jill Hazelbaker, a spokeswoman for Mr. McCain. “That being said, it certainly hasn’t escaped us that the three network newscasts will originate from stops on Obama’s trip.”

Could that be because the Obama campaign is intrinsically more interesting than the bumbling McCain campaign? Could it be because McCain has repeatedly chided Obama for not visiting Iraq? Could it be that more viewers will tune in to see how Obama acts and what he says when he visits Iraq than they would if McCain takes another "stroll" there? Could it be that the networks are driven by something called "viewership" and "ratings?" Inquiring minds want to know.

Meanwhile, Obama raised $52 million in June, for an average of $68 per donor, according to the campaign. People get ready.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Last post on The New Yorker cover

Andy Serwer helpfully has a rundown of the confusing reactions.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

"A mental recession"

Lost in the furor over "Whiner Nation" -- and I must trademark that -- what if Gramm is inartful, but accurate? I mean, what is "a mental recession," but a Depression?

Yet another accomplishment of the Bush administration. Not only is the individual formerly known as Dear Leader topping the General Classification (GC) of Worst President Ever, he may tie Herbert Hoover's (and a few others) record of an economy slipping into depression during his term.

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It's a wonderful life


"It's a cartoon, Larry"

Good response from the candidate himself, after what seemed a ham-fisted one from the campaign yesterday.




Don't ask don't tell

Will the boys and girls on McCain's straight talkin' airship ever bother to ask the candidate how he manages to have 15 positions on issues that only have two sides?

I know. Stupid question.

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Tell us how you really feel

We like Chase Utley.

Jonathan Papelbon, not so much.



As Roy would put it ever so more gracefully, can we leave this kind of humorless shit to the crazies on the right?


The audacity of a plan

Everyone knows that outrage over a satiric magazine cover trumps discussion of Iraq.

In this campaign, there are honest differences over Iraq, and we should discuss them with the thoroughness they deserve. Unlike Senator McCain, I would make it absolutely clear that we seek no presence in Iraq similar to our permanent bases in South Korea, and would redeploy our troops out of Iraq and focus on the broader security challenges that we face. But for far too long, those responsible for the greatest strategic blunder in the recent history of American foreign policy have ignored useful debate in favor of making false charges about flip-flops and surrender.

It’s not going to work this time. It’s time to end this war.

Excellent job, Senator (and yes, Dear Reader, you should read the whole thing). 'Tis a pity no one seems to give a shit about this discussion.

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Meanwhile... the land that time and the Bush administration forgot.

American and Afghan soldiers inside the base were hit by flying fragments from bullets, grenades and mortar shells that insurgents fired from houses, shops and a mosque in a village within a few hundred yards of the base, several officials said.

At the lightly fortified observation post nearby, American soldiers came under heavy fire from militants streaming through farmland under cover of darkness. Most of the American casualties took place there, a senior American military official said.

American warplanes, attack helicopters and long-range artillery were urgently summoned to help repel the militants.

But the insurgents made it so far that a few of their corpses were found inside the base’s earthen barriers, and others were lying around it, Tamim Nuristani, a former governor in the region, said after talking to officials in the district.

The attack was unusually bold. Taliban and other militants in Afghanistan rarely attack better-armed allied forces head on, preferring suicide bombs and hit-and-run ambushes against foot patrols and convoys. But they have made occasional attempts to overrun lightly staffed or otherwise vulnerable outposts.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Satire and progressives

Strange, reading progressive bloggers and their outrage over a cartoon.

I mean, I bow to few bloggers when it comes to being in the tank for Obama. And I for one have never underestimated the stupidity of the rubes out there, nor the dishonesty of their spiritual leaders, but c'mon. It's a New Yorker cartoon for chrissakes.


Blue Monday, Janis edition

For those of you would argue that Gershwin is not "the blues," get your own damn blog.

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I'm not even going to comment on the Times' decision to go with a headline stating that McCain is the second-coming of Teddy Roosevelt...hell I hope so, the Bull Moose Party is something I can get behind, as long as I'm armed with a shovel.

Asked which blogs he read, he said: “Brooke and Mark show me Drudge, obviously. Everybody watches, for better or for worse, Drudge. Sometimes I look at Politico. Sometimes RealPolitics.”
Watching those blogs can be tiring.

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Bobby "Warning Track" Murcer

Sad day in Yankeeland. Our thoughts go to his wife of 40-odd years, Kay.

He was named to five All-Star teams, from 1971 to 1974 while with the Yankees and in 1975 while with the San Francisco Giants. A memorable career moment came on June 24, 1970, when he hit four consecutive home runs in a doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians.

Murcer moved to the Yankee broadcast booth, as a commentator, the night of June 20, 1983, hours after George Steinbrenner, the Yankees’ principal owner, offered him the job during his second stint with the Yankees, when he was playing infrequently. He teamed at the outset with Phil Rizzuto, Frank Messer and Bill White and remained a Yankee broadcaster most of the time after that until his death.

Murcer recalled how “one critic sniffed that my Oklahoma accent sounded a bit incongruous.” But, as he put it, “I’d spent almost four decades perfecting that accent, and I sure wasn’t going to change now.”

As for those early comparisons to Mantle, Murcer once told The New York Times that he did not feel overburdened. “I was too young and too dumb to realize what they were trying to do in the first place,” he said, “and by the time I realized it, I had already established myself.”

It seems like not a season goes by that the Yankees don't have a black arm band with their navy pinstripes.

In August 1993, Mantle presented Murcer for induction into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame at ceremonies in Oklahoma City.

Mantle, who died in 1995, struck an irreverent note at the ceremony. “The first time I ever heard of Bobby Murcer,” The Saturday Oklahoman quoted him as saying, “they said a kid from Oklahoma was gonna be the next Mickey Mantle. They were right. Sure enough, he couldn’t play shortstop either.”

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Tony Snow, RIP

Tony Snow came across as an affable adversary, never an attack dog. He seemed to enjoy himself. Too young.


Friday, July 11, 2008

"What's my position?"

I used to think McCain's flipping of positions and refusal to answer questions to which he, as a Senator, should surely know, was not because he's stupid or senile, but was just a careful politician wanting to balance the bloodlust of his conservative base and his need to woo independents.

Nope, he's stupid or senile.

Am I impugning his character? Not at all. He's just stupid or senile.


IOKIYAR, Constitution edition

We can now be certain, that while the Constitution may be used as a cudgel in the hands of a Republican, it shouldn't be construed as having any ability to confine that Republican's behavior.

In the most detailed examination yet of Senator John McCain’s eligibility to be president, a law professor at the University of Arizona has concluded that neither Mr. McCain’s birth in 1936 in the Panama Canal Zone nor the fact that his parents were American citizens is enough to satisfy the constitutional requirement that the president must be a “natural-born citizen.”

The analysis, by Prof. Gabriel J. Chin, focused on a 1937 law that has been largely overlooked in the debate over Mr. McCain’s eligibility to be president. The law conferred citizenship on children of American parents born in the Canal Zone after 1904, and it made John McCain a citizen just before his first birthday. But the law came too late, Professor Chin argued, to make Mr. McCain a natural-born citizen.

“It’s preposterous that a technicality like this can make a difference in an advanced democracy,” Professor Chin said. “But this is the constitutional text that we have.”

Several legal experts said that Professor Chin’s analysis was careful and plausible. But they added that nothing was very likely to follow from it.

“No court will get close to it, and everyone else is on board, so there’s a constitutional consensus, the merits of arguments such as this one aside,” said Peter J. Spiro, an authority on the law of citizenship at Temple University.


A series of early-20th-century decisions known as the Insular Cases, he wrote, ruled that unincorporated territories acquired by the United States were not part of the nation for constitutional purposes. The Insular Cases did not directly address the Canal Zone. But the zone was generally considered an unincorporated territory before it was returned to Panama in 1999, and some people born in the Canal Zone when it was under American jurisdiction have been deported from the United States or convicted of being here illegally.



"Who won the war?"


Thursday, July 10, 2008

That's gonna leave a mark

Wait, did McCain throw his old friend "under the bus?"

It was ok that Gramm was tied directly to the subprime disaster, but now we hear the outrage.


In which I propose a:30 commercial

To run in Florida and other states with a sizable senior population:

Against a backdrop of footage of John McCain calling for Social Security to be privatized, then footage of him angrily denying it, followed by him saying that the very way Social Security is structured is "a disgrace," the announcer intones: On the very same day that John McCain called the most successful, popular, and effective government safety net for the elderly "a disgrace," he couldn't take time from campaigning to return to Washington to vote on the Medicare bill. A bill his fellow Republicans oppose and President Bush has vowed to veto. A bill that (visual of a frail but resolute Ted Kennedy loudly voting 'Aye') blocks cuts in payments to the doctors who care for millions of older Americans. Cuts that might have led your doctor to stop accepting Medicare patients. Sen. Kennedy was there voting in favor of your doctor. Sen. Obama was there voting, "aye." Where was Sen. McCain? Doesn't he care?

I'm available for consultation.

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Populist versus liberal

Nathan Newman is making sense.

The case against Obama seems to boil down to a few nuanced sentences on whether he might have any flexibility in adjusting timelines for withdrawal from Iraq, whether he thought the words "right to bear arms" could have some constitutional relationship with owning guns, whether he thought it was a good idea to funding religious organizations in helping fight poverty, and whether he thought raping children might reasonably warrant the death penalty. Oh yeah, and FISA (more on that below).

What all these issues share is that in practice, almost none of them would effect the day-to-day lives of Americans. The Supreme Court ruling on guns was incredibly narrow in specific application, the Iraq withdrawal comments were incredibly small nuances, his promotion of funding religious groups is a good thing, and it's a cost-free political position to oppose raping of children once the Supreme Court has banned the death penalty (and might even have merits on principle). But gay marriage, which does matter to a lot of peoples' lives was the place where he stood up and fought, which is exactly what a populist should do. Maybe that's the difference between a liberal and a progressive populist. The liberal takes positions that pisses off people even when it doesn't matter practically in peoples lives.

Read the rest.

Once again, let's keep things in proportion.

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New technology, old stadium

I've been lucky enough to sit in those seats, right behind the visitor's dugout.


Buyer's remorse

"Presumed" Democratic nominee Obama voted for the FISA bill.

Presumably not the Democratic nominee Clinton voted against it.

Clearly, we in the netroots were baited and switched.

Obviously, we nominated some kind of GOP Manchurian candidate. Damn.

By the way, McCain didn't even bother to vote for the FISA bill or the Medicare bill.

Straight talk. What are we to do?...the nation turns its disappointed eyes to Ralph Nader.

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His constituency hopes and prays

The media, poised to declare a McCain comeback.

McCain is writing the latest script with Steve Schmidt, who brings discipline, decisiveness, and determination to his new role -- and most importantly, the perception of all three qualities for the journalists and GOP insiders who were almost ready to give up on McCain.
Via TPM.


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Terrorist fist jabs

We are surrounded by fist jabbing threats.

He gave me the news and a congratulatory hug, with a smile, but told me to keep the news quiet until it was officially announced. I went back to the domino game like nothing happened but Eddie being the wise vet already knew what’s up. He just smiled and gave me dap on making my first All-Star team.

"Gave me dap." Is that code?

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I'm with Digby on this. Not only has McCain made the contrast between his years in captivity and...I love... a central tenet of his campaign, it's the only tenet*.

ACCURACY Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, at whom this spot takes veiled swipes, was turning 6 years old during the “summer of love,” and cannot be counted as among those who protested or indulged while Mr. McCain suffered (unless playing with building blocks counts). Mr. McCain’s military service and the torture he endured in Vietnam are well established. Mr. McCain did indeed buck his party’s leadership in helping to draft new campaign finance regulations, though he and his supporters are now being accused of exploiting loopholes to compete with Mr. Obama, who has opted out of the campaign finance system. His moves against Congressional earmarks and wasteful government spending are well known. But Mr. McCain has more recently found new areas of agreement with President Bush and other party leaders, like pledging to make permanent the tax cuts he twice voted against and lifting a ban against offshore drilling that he once supported.

However, we can not question whether getting shot down is a qualification for president. That would be mean.

But the larger question is, will fighting the battles of the 1960s still resonate with undecided voters. Perhaps so; perhaps revulsion with the DFHs, the Panthers, and feminists burning their bras is still powerful. Or perhaps most people will just say, "WTF?"

The results of Nixonland are still with us. But the battles and events that led to our polarization are now so remote as to barely be remembered, if the voter was even born then. So, like Obama, they were unAmerican enough to have failed to be old enough to have been in Vietnam.

Or Woodstock.

* Oh, and fear.

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They enforce phys ed, don't they?

Shake off your chains, elementary school students!


Hold the mayo

I haven't linked to T-Bogg lately, but even after having been co-opted by FDL, he still provides an important community service -- laughing at Malkin.


Leader of "a" country

McCain -- serious foreign policy maven:

Mr. McCain said it was the same as when Iraqi officials said recently that they doubted an agreement with the United States could be struck over the status of American forces. “Prime Minister Malki, is, has got his, he is a leader of a country,’’ Mr. McCain said, according to a pool report. “And I am confident that he will act, as the president and foreign minister have both told me in the last several days, that it will be directly related to the situation on the ground, just as they have always said. And since we are succeeding and then I am convinced, as I have said before, we can withdraw and withdraw with honor, not according to a set timetable. And I’m confident that is what Prime Minister Maliki is talking about since he has told me that for the many meetings we have had.”

"Withdraw with honor." Haven't I heard that before?

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Our libural media:

WASHINGTON - Barack Obama says John McCain's plan to balance the budget doesn't add up. Easy for him to say: It's not a goal he's even trying to reach.

Ooh, snark! I loves me some snarky news "analysis." Later, though, there's this:

Obama's criticism of McCain's pledge as "overly ambitious" is backed up by fiscal experts.

But let's not let some "fiscal experts" get in the way of a good, snarky lede.

EDITOR'S NOTE — Nedra Pickler has covered presidential politics for The Associated Press since 2002.

And democracy is the better for it, I feel sure.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008


The only thing we have to fear is facts themselves.



Kevin Drum explains that McCain will rely on magic to have his promise cut taxes and the deficit come true.

It would be really cool if one of the boys on the Straight Talk Express would ask him what he specifically would cut. But that might imperil their seat.


Monday, July 07, 2008

Blue Monday, T-Bone Walker Edition

Woman, you must be crazy.

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A great conservative


Friday, July 04, 2008

Reforming health care is still possible

Standing tall

Let's hope Krugman's right.

In the end, the Clark affair may have strengthened the Obama campaign. Last week, with his cave-in on wiretapping, Mr. Obama was showing disturbing signs of falling into the usual Democratic cringe on national security. This may have been the week he rediscovered the virtues of standing tall.


The flag was still there

Happy Independence Day.

And here, the late, great Mr. McKernan raises the flag.

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

I immediately grabbed my hat!

Haven't had much chance to engage in web logging ("blogging") today, but when I read about the freed hostages I was overjoyed for the captives and their families, but thought, there's a lot more here than is being reported. For instance, what a coincidence (helpful of the NY Times to point that out for us rubes) that John McCain would be in Columbia (during a hotly contested U.S. presidential campaign) just as it was about to take place.

On Thursday, three American officials in Washington, speaking on the condition of anonymity while citing the sensitivity of the assistance, confirmed that the United States provided intelligence to support the operation. They offered few details about the intelligence support, but one intelligence official said that the United States provided satellite imagery to the Colombian government as it planned the operation.

In addition, according to this official, the Colombians for some weeks have also been able to eavesdrop on communications of the FARC leadership — the result of successfully penetrating the group’s communications network.

According to an American indictment against Gerardo Antonio Aguilar Ramirez, the man known as “Cesar” who was captured Wednesday, FARC leaders often communicated through radio call centers located in the Colombian town of Villavicencio.

“These centers have the technical capacity to receive calls from FARC members using short-range radios, and to patch them through to the more advanced and long-range land line and cellular phone network operating in the more urban parts of Colombia,” the indictment reads.

Colombian officials first broached detailed plans for their secret rescue mission to American officials about two weeks ago, top diplomats and officials from both countries said.

“We’ve been working this very closely with the government of Colombia now for about two weeks,” William Brownfield, the United States ambassador to Colombia said on CNN’s “Larry King Live” Wednesday night.

Mr. Brownfield said that while the Colombians planned and executed the operation, the United States provided important intelligence, planning and technical assistance.

“We were able to cooperate,” Mr. Brownfield said. “We were able to endorse. We were able to share our own experiences, and some small bits of equipment for this particular operation.”

"We were able to endorse," Mr. Brownfield said.

To repeat, I'm overjoyed for the victims and their families, and I'm conscious that I sound like a member in good standing of the tinfoil hat community, but, shit, if all it took to fool FARC was to dress up in a Che t-shirt... I mean, fuck the heck??

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Flip flops. Always popular among Republican flim flam sellers.

I think we can be pretty certain that the latest campaign narrative about Obama "shifting his position on Iraq" is coming from the McCain campaign. Good job by Axelrod shooting it down on CNN.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

What's that about some rats?

I believe The Editors speak for us all, people. I'd quote, but the whole thing shimmers with effervescence and truths told.



NPR's Mara Liasson -- she of Fox News fame -- goes out of her way to highlight McCain's supposed maverickiness while impugning Obama's claim to be able to "reach across the aisle."

As usual, bi-partisanship is defined by The Villagers as, well, Joe Lieberman. That is, acting in such a way as to simply piss off your party's leadership and so be popular with the thought-leaders on Sunday morning.

But (and I apologize for not providing a link, 'cause this ain't original thinking on my part, but I can't remember where I saw a discussion of it), isn't leadership -- as opposed to bipartisanship -- not simply being conciliatory to the opposition, but rather persuading members of the other party to agree to your reasonable views? Higher CAFE standards. (Almost) universal health care. Or lower taxes for the rich? Who's bipartisan?


Happy story time

David Leonhardt illuminates and (further) depresses.

The common thread in these myths is that they serve to minimize the scope of the economy’s weakness. They make it sound as if the problems are acute — job cuts, oil speculation, a little real estate overexuberance — rather than fundamental.
Of course, Leonhardt is using the popular usage of the word "myth," not its academic definition: a sacred story. What he really means is we're being bullshitted into thinking that prosperity is just around the corner. Go buy stuff, we're told, or we'll make young George Washington cry.


Lazy or lying

Now, I don't have interns. So while I knew Brooksie had the facts wrong in Tuesday's column regarding the Obama tax plan, I was too busy to track down the real numbers. And so I waited for the mighty blogosphere to look it up, and fortunately, TPM has a few resources of their own.

David Brooks made an important mistake in his Tuesday column about Barack Obama's fund raising. He writes: "If Obama's tax plans go through, those affluent donors could wind up giving over 50 percent of their income to the federal government."

According to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center's analysis of Obama's tax plan, the correct share for the richest 1 percent of households--those with income above $600,000--is 36 percent; for the for the richest 0.1 percent, above $2.9 million, the rate would be 39 percent. Note also that since these estimates include taxes remitted by corporations, the actual tax returns that these households fill out would find them paying less than 30 percent of their income in taxes. Even with Senator Obama's proposal to raise Social Security taxes on those with earnings above $250,000, a proposal for which he has yet to specify a rate, tax liabilities of the affluent would still be far below 50 percent of their income.

It's also worth noting that these tax rates for those at the top of the scale are about the same as those that prevailed under Bill Clinton's presidency (average for the top 1 percent, 1993-2000: 35 percent), a period of strong and broadly shared economic growth.

I encourage you to keep reading the analysis of Brooks's column, which is really all about his deep thinking on Obama's donor base and Brooks's snide (yet oblique) implication that Obama's lying. He's not, and it ain't all that complicated.

My larger point is that while I don't have interns, columnists for the Times do. I'm pretty sure Brooks has at his disposal interns and researchers who, even if they're outsourced to Bangalore, could easily track down the facts about Obama's tax proposals and could do the simple math on Obama's unprecedented support by small donors.

So what gives? You think Brooks is being...ahem...dishonest?

And once again, the great cry rises up in the land, though it fails to pierce the heights on 52nd St.: Don't they fact check these guys?

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008


Oh. My. God.

Study: World Gets Happier

Despite the anxieties of these times, happiness has been on the rise around the world in recent years, a new survey finds.

The upbeat outlook is attributed to economic growth in previously poor countries, democratization of others, and rising social tolerance for women and minority groups.

"It's a surprising finding," said University of Michigan political scientist Ronald Inglehart, who headed up the survey. "It's widely believed that it's almost impossible to raise an entire country's happiness level."

Denmark is the happiest nation and Zimbabwe the the most glum, he found. (Zimbabwe's longtime ruler Robert Mugabe was sworn in as president for a sixth term Sunday after a widely discredited runoff in which he was the only candidate. Observers said the runoff was marred by violence and intimidation.)




Roy notes the comedy gold in McCain engaging one of the Swift Boat character assassins for the candidate's "truth squad:"

This reminds me painfully of a scene from Costa-Gavras' Z, in which an indicted Greek fascist general is asked by a reporter, "Are you a martyr, like Dreyfus?" The General angrily replies, "Dreyfus was guilty."

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"Dead or Alive"

Well, whaddya know?

That, incidentally, comes from the news section, not the editorial page. It's just a fact. Some folks talk about how Iraq robs the military of resources needed for the fight against bin Laden, but from the Bush administration's perspective, the media's focus on the complicated failure of the war in Iraq has been far better than letting that attention settle on the simple failure of their hunt for bin Laden.

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Ennervating his base

Greenwald on the Obama campaign's last couple of weeks.

It is worrisome that after taking on and defeating the Democratic wise men that supported Sen. Clinton, Obama seems now to be taking the sage advice of those same wise men and abruptly tacking rightward. I'm not sure, exactly, how much this is true -- though often labeled as "the most liberal Senator," there isn't huge evidence that he is. Still, on a number of fronts -- mainly FISA -- his words and actions have been dispiriting.

But Obama is a shrewd politician who weighs his words and actions carefully. He's consolidating, I think, now, and building a narrative for the fall to protect him from attacks on the right and from a pro-McCain narrative in the media that will be hard, otherwise, to overcome.

We'll see. I've been disappointed by politicians before.

All that said, is Greenwald correct? Is it wrong for Democratic presidential candidates to assume they need to move to the center to get elected? I dunno. I do know this. Bill Clinton was the most conservative Democratic candidate to win the presidency since Carter, who was the most conservative that preceded him.

Just a coincidence? Beltway bullshit? Stay tuned.

UPDATE: On one of the "dispiriting" decisions on Obama's part, Steve Benen says, "cool it."

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A piece of the action?

Amateurs join the fun in the War on Drugs.

When residents first began noticing Mr. Jakob, he certainly looked the part. His hair was chopped short, residents recalled, and his stocky chest filled a black T-shirt he sometimes wore that read “Police.” They said he wore military-style boots, pants with pockets running down the legs and carried a badge (his lawyer said it was from a former job as a security guard in St. Louis). And his off-white Ford Crown Victoria was decked out with police radios and internal flashing lights, residents said.

He first came to town in January, his lawyer said, to meet Chief McCrary, whose experiences serving in Afghanistan Mr. Jakob had read about in a local newspaper. Mr. Jakob was considering contract work overseas, Mr. Schwartz said, and the pair hit it off.

Soon, the arrests began. Some of those whose homes were searched said they had been kicked in the head and had had shotguns held against them. Mr. Jakob, many said, seemed to be leading the crew of Gerald police officers.

“He was definitely in charge — it was all him,” said Mike Withington, 49, a concrete finisher, who said Mr. Jakob pounded on his door in May, waking him up and yanking him, in handcuffs, out onto his front yard.

Mr. Withington said he had not yet been charged with a crime; Gary Toelke, the Franklin County sheriff, confirmed that no local charges had been issued against him. But the mortification of that day, Mr. Withington said, has kept him largely indoors and led him to consider moving. Since the search, residents have tossed garbage and crumpled boxes of Sudafed (which has an ingredient that can be used to make methamphetamine) on his lawn, he said, and he no longer shops in town, instead driving miles to neighboring towns.

Turns out Mr. Jakob was a security guard from a town down the road.

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Repudiating Bush

Something Obama really needs to do...and quickly.

The challenge facing Obama is clear: he must go beyond merely pointing out the folly of the Iraq war; he must demonstrate that Iraq represents the truest manifestation of an approach to national security that is fundamentally flawed, thereby helping Americans discern the correct lessons of that misbegotten conflict.

By showing that Bush has put the country on a path pointing to permanent war, ever increasing debt and dependency, and further abuses of executive authority, Obama can transform the election into a referendum on the current administration's entire national security legacy. By articulating a set of principles that will safeguard the country's vital interests, both today and in the long run, at a price we can afford while preserving rather than distorting the Constitution, Obama can persuade Americans to repudiate the Bush legacy and to choose another course.

This is a stiff test, not the work of a speech or two, but of an entire campaign. Whether or not Obama passes the test will determine his fitness for the presidency.

But, no. Forget all that. Let's focus on the latest "outrageous attack on McCain's service to his country."

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