Monday, March 31, 2008

Dreaming of the day

There will come a day when the Democrats in the Senate can tell Joe Lieberman to bugger off with his whiny voice and his holy scolding for sins that nowadays bear no resemblance to reality. Now that will be a day to play "Happy Days Are Here Again".

Executive fiat

Many people have written about the Fourth Amendment and privacy implications of the NSA's communications surveillance and data-mining. And Congress actually showed some backbone on this in 2003 by passing recission of Total Information Awareness - or Terrorist Information Awareness, as the Bushists had deceptively rebranded it.

The law couldn't be more clear (my emphasis):

    SEC. 8131. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available in this or any other Act may be obligated for the Terrorism Information Awareness Program: Provided, That this limitation shall not apply to the program hereby authorized for Processing, analysis, and collaboration tools for counterterrorism foreign intelligence, as described in the Classified Annex accompanying the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2004, for which funds are expressly provided in the National Foreign Intelligence Program for counterterrorism foreign intelligence purposes.
    (b) None of the funds provided for Processing, analysis, and collaboration tools for counterterrorism foreign intelligence shall be available for deployment or implementation except for:
      (1) lawful military operations of the United States conducted outside the United States; or
      (2) lawful foreign intelligence activities conducted wholly overseas, or wholly against non-United States citizens.
    (c) In this section, the term `Terrorism Information Awareness Program' means the program known either as Terrorism Information Awareness or Total Information Awareness, or any successor program, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or any other Department or element of the Federal Government, including the individual components of such Program developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Yet, here we are in 2008, and the whole program is still going on. Sure, the NSA is doing it now, and it's probably funded out of the black budget. Never mind that Congress prohibited it; the Bushists don't care.

Alberto Gonzales and the rest of the Bushist lackeys have tried to leave themselves an out by playing a shell game about how many and specific programs there are. They'll be happy to show you inside the walnut, but there will never be a pea there. Of course, it's a dodge, a lie, a fraud.

What in sum the Bushists have done is to abrogate the clause in the former Constitution that the framers felt was so important that they put it first, Article I, section 1:
All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States
Duhbya and Darth and their minions have arrogated to break the fundamental expression of democracy and to spend money specifically prohibited by law.

A few links for your reading pleasure:
More on the former Constitution at "Documenting the tatters".

Sunday, March 30, 2008

So nice of you to notice

Seriously, why does the New York Times have so much trouble being timely? Duhbya's blind stubbornness has been vividly on display since ... forever. And it's a problem now? At this rate, the Gray Lady will be calling loudly for impeachment around 2011.

Oh, in keeping with the Times's goo-goo, responsible self-image, it's a problem because Duhbya, who won't take advice anyway, has only one economic adviser left.

(h/t Atrios)

Late-breaking cartoon

Click image for full Mike Keefe/Denver Post cartoon.

Salvia madness

Someone somewhere might be smiling for no reason. Pass a law! Criminalize a damn flowering annual before they take over!

"I'm a zero-tolerance guy. I don't like anything mind-altering. Period. Paragraph," said [Bill] Horne, [executive director of Genesis Counseling Services in Framingham].
Except for stupidity. Next they'll demand that we all plant anhedonia, and you know how ugly that shit is.

Hey, man, something for your head?


I heard this in the Oakland, California, bus station nearly 30 years ago, but I didn't buy. Looks as though American farmers bought from their pusher, who, now that they're addicted to Roundup, is squeezing them on price.

By the way, most of the "economics" in the news story makes no sense at all. The most glaring example of bullshit from Monsanto executive Kevin Eblen:

We feel first and foremost that we have to cover the Roundup Ready acres with our product. The only real ability we had to do that -- with generics raising their prices -- was to follow with a big price increase of our own.
Chemical structure released into public domain on Wikimedia Commons. Accuracy not guaranteed!

Freedom to offend

Click image for full Signe Wilkinson cartoon.

American Christian fundies often don't understand this either, though they're not killing people over it.

And Obama is fine with it

Coals to Newcastle for me to link to Andy Borowitz, but what the heck. The image of Hillary Clinton in a Chevy Suburban ramming Obama's campaign bus is worth it.

Obama has switched to post-primary campaigning. He has the nomination won, so he's starting to make nice with Hillary in order to reach her voters. Smart guy.

Twitting the Paulists (Ron)

Click image for full Beth Cravens cartoon - and Ron Paul tease.

I saw a Ron Paul sign still up in Concord yesterday. Ron Paul was the candidate for people who have sense enough to come in out of Iraq even if they don't have the sense to come in out of the Republican Party.

Sense to come in out of the rain? I'm not sure.

Lessons of experience

Click image for full Matt Bors cartoon.

Nobody could have known

I'm not a fan of over-55 deed restrictions. They seem like illegal housing discrimination to me. They're also likely to diminish tax support for the public schools, if they're filled with childless people with no ties to the town they're in.

But what really frosts me is businesses selling - to the towns that have passed bylaws allowing this and to the people who have purchased one of the homes - sellling with one story and then changing it when they don't make enough money.

Nobody could have known that the age limits would become such an albatross as the Massachusetts real estate market softened, [Joanne] Foley said.
Had your clients disclosed to their buyers the ephemeral nature of the deed restrictions, you'd be in the clear, but no doubt they didn't. Yet now you're screwing them. It stinks.

Planning to prevent a plan

The Bushist Treasury Department wants to prevent additional regulation of the financial markets. This is known as the failure to learn from experience. No surprise there.

[T]hat authority would be limited, doing virtually nothing to regulate the many new financial products whose unwise use has been a culprit in the current financial crisis.
In other words, bailouts are fine, but nothing preventive.
In a draft of a speech to be delivered Monday, [Henry Paulson] declares: “I do not believe it is fair or accurate to blame our regulatory structure for the current turmoil.”
After all, the regulators all took early retirement. How could they have caused the credit meltdown?
Democrats reacted with some praise. “It’s a recognition, maybe a reluctant one, that you have to enhance regulation,” said Rep. Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat who is chairman of the House Financial Services committee.
Do I hear the sound of faint damning?

Consolidating regulation into fewer agencies, while in the abstract a good idea, accomplishes this for Republicans: Fewer regulators to subvert. Putting more power in the quasi-independent Fed also reduces the leverage future, truly Democratic Congresses might have on regulation.

Update: Paul Krugman agrees.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The hell with tax returns

How about medical records? I only knew about one of these treatments, though I suspected another:

[McCain]’s also been treated for melanoma – a potentially deadly form of skin cancer – four times in the last 15 years.

Bill of particulars

The Bill of Rights, that is. Here's a well-known case where the Bushists believe it's a good idea to cover up their plain Fourth Amendment violations by pressuring journalists and then moving to prosecute them. So much for the press freedom clause of the First Amendment.

By the way, the Bushist program of surveillance began well before 9/11, so don't let them push the bullshit al Qaeda boogeyman lie on you.

Tons of others are working on this subject. Another DailyKos diary is a good example.

More on the former Constitution at Documenting the tatters.

Consumer protection racket

No, not Ralph Nader.

Egregious laxity with your credit card information? No fine if you'll agree to auditing! Don't do it again, big fella.

Ironclad rule: Republicans are not watching out for anyone in your income class. You're not a CEO, are you?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Socialize ALL the risk

Hey, the Fed had to intervene in a market run amok to keep the whole financial system from ruin, so the right lesson is to make it easier for the Fed to bail out other disastrous investments. But, noooo, we can't regulate the market; that would glove the invisible hand, and Ayn Rand says ... some obvious bullshit.

Two choices: Either the Bushists are total morons or they think we're total morons.

Tort reform

Here's a laughable legal theory: Use of a video clip of the plaintiff in a movie with whom he disagrees constitutes defamation. First Amendment? Who cares about that?

Case history: Summary judgement entered before trial, no doubt because of the rank absurdity of the legal theory. Had I been the Federal District Court judge, I would have entertained a motion from the defense for costs. You need an example of a frivolous lawsuit? Look no further.

Now, the appeal - some idiots just don't recognize when they've been slapped hard enough to knock sense into nearly anyone else - the appeal has upheld by the First Circuit Court. And Donald J. Feerick, Jr., the author of this political stunt, says that his client may appeal to the Supreme Court. Even this Court, I think, has the sense to refuse a grant of certiorari to this whining.

What I want to know: Who is paying for all this substandard lawyering? The Rutherford Foundation? Richard Mellon Scaife? The ACLJ? (Can't the ACLU get those guys on trademark infringement?)

Note for trolls: None of my assessment of this ridiculous, anti-freedom lawsuit bears at all on my respect for the service of the plaintiff or my sympathy for the injuries he suffered in Iraq.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Michaelmania!

What could Michael Bloomberg do for Barack Obama?

Obama doesn't need Bloomberg's money. Bloomberg doesn't have a national following, and Obama will win New York on his own.

Obama doesn't have to mend fences with the Jewish community. It wouldn't hurt to shore up that key Democratic constituency, but it's not as if he's really at odds with it.

This could be a feint at McCain's love match Joe Lieberman, I guess.

But I really think it's just PR from Bloomberg planted in the New York media, for what reason I have no idea. Or maybe the media can make up their own absurd story lines without help these days.

Hillary 2012

Someone should ask these high-dollar, Terry-McAuliffe-style donors whether they'd rather have Obama lose in 2008 if it keeps the door open for Hillary to run again in 2012 before she ages out of contention. Because it seems to me that this is exactly the sort of hostage-taking they are threatening.

The initial criticism of Nancy Pelosi in the letter is this:

None of us should make declarative statements that diminish the importance of their voices and their votes. We are writing to say we believe your remarks on ABC News This Week on March 16th did just that.
This is just bullshit. Pelosi is telling the superdelegates to listen to the voters.

World's first write-only memory

That's the priority claim I'd make for this historical curiosity. I'm struggling a bit to understand why someone would want to render sound visually without being able to render it back into sound - a better kind of sheet music perhaps.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What a relief

At last, the fox is going to take a look at how the hen house is guarded. I am soooo relieved.

Disclosure for Democrats


Obama has posted his family's tax returns for 2000 to 2006. Hillary is waiting till later. From the Boston Globe, that's all you hear about.

Bloomberg notes that John McCain's are still MIA. But, he's busy now, trying to have his Bush and eat it, too!

Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Out in public, 2

Walking up to the Registry of Motor Vehicles in Framingham, where there's quite a bit of hostility toward immigrant Brazilians, to renew my driver's license. The strapping sixtyish man in front of me looked back and said, "That's something. Two of us who look like Americans and probably speak English."

"No hablo inglés," I replied, since my Portuguese is limited to 'bom dia' and a few phrases from songs.

Double-take.

"Just kidding."

"Asshole," he said, but he was just kidding, too. After all, I was a white guy.

Out in public

So funny I laughed out loud in public.

For full Tony Carrillo cartoon, click the image.

How arrogant!

Me, not someone else. The Supreme Court issued a ruling yesterday, and I think everyone is wrong. Of course, I have zero years of law school and an equally impressive amount of legal practice with which to back my opinions up.

The weirdest thing of all is that Duhbya's minions actually got one thing right. The 1963 Vienna Convention, which the U.S. government duly and Constitutionally signed, does bind our courts at all levels to consular access for arrested foreign citizens. That's what Article V, paragraph 2 means:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
Could this be any plainer? The 6-justice majority can read, can't they?

The Bushists, of course, don't seem to care for the supremacy of treaties at other times when it doesn't suit them. Vienna Convention, amen! Geneva? Never heard of it. So their motives are immediately suspect, and of course it appears that their overriding principle of more and more and more power for me, me, me is their guide.

Duhbya and his men think that the President has the power to order judicial compliance in a state. Uh, sorry, he has standing to raise the issue in court, but separation of powers should prevent him ordering it.

It's not clear from the news story how the three dissenters supported their ruling, but this Stephen Breyer quote is, uh, stupid:
The nation may well break its word even though the president seeks to live up to that word.
Treaty ratification, then, can just be a national lie? It's anyone's guess?

The right (i.e. my) ruling would have been:
  • The Supreme Court orders rehearings or something equivalent on the basis of our Constitutional obligation to enforce the treaty.
  • The President may not order such hearings; they are a judicial remedy that the President may bring to our attention under original jurisdiction in keeping with the second paragraph of Article III, section 2.
Problem is that now I'll have to go read the decision so that I can find out that I'm wrong, too! As a sop, though, arrogant old me could then criticize the reporter for inadequate reporting in a plain attempt to slough off blame onto someone else.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Jury still out

Here is an argument about how many people are wrongly convicted in American courts. The side that thinks it's all good, led by Joshua Marquis, posits an argument that is the most obvious bullshit: Since rape and murder have had recent high profile DNA exonerations, Marquis extrapolates from the uncontrolled rate of exonerations to all felonies.

Then, when Samuel Gross calls bullshit on this - more politely of course - Marquis says this:

“He correctly points out,” Mr. Marquis, the district attorney in Clatsop County, Ore., said of Professor Gross, “that rape and murders are only a small percentage of all crimes, but then has absolutely no real data to suggest there are epidemic false convictions in, say, burglary cases.”
What Gross is saying, Marquis you numbskull, is that you have absolutely no real data. The mind boggles that you would make such a ridiculous rejoinder in lieu of an actual argument. Gross in no uncertain terms identifies the problem:
Worse, [the frequency of false convictions] can'’t be estimated from any information we do know.
In short, Marquis prefers his made-up and clearly bogus number to Gross's careful and limited estimates. All I can say is don't expect the prosecution in Clatsop County, Oregon, to understand arithmetic.

And, of course, Antonin Scalia buys the bullshit, as he buys anything that appears to lend credence to his legal creed.

Syllogism in vain

Logic in politics is like math in journalism, largely missing and what's there is probably wrong.

In the late painful outbreak of fourth grade playground taunts between the Obama and Clinton camps, I had in mind to include Gen. Merrill McPeak's words. Then I read a little further and I found rank illogic on display in the confirmed, now-permanent media conventional wisdom. Here's a little formalism that I'm sure my e-pal Winston Smith at Philosoraptor would do a better job at:

M is McPeak.
B is Bill Clinton.
J is Joe McCarthy.
M make these statements:
S(1): B says O is not a patriot.
S(2): J said x is not a patriot.
Media concludes: M accuses B of using J's doctrine and methods.

A much more reasonable explanation is the McPeak was explaining his own sensitivity to accusations of lack of patriotism.

Like opinions, everybody has one

We Democrats have been wading through a lot of mud lately - only without boots. Lots of alleged grown-ups are saying whatever comes to mind without considering whether they sound like assholes. Yes, Bill, I mean you, and it's not your first offense.

"I think it would be a great thing if we had an election year where you had two people who loved this country and were devoted to the interest of this country," the former president said.
Yes, I also mean Gordon Fischer:
Clinton should never be forgiven. Period. This is a stain on his legacy, much worse, much deeper, than the one on Monica's blue dress.
Of course, I also mean Jeremiah Wright:
God damn America!
Of course, Hillary also looks willing to say anything to be the Democratic Presidential nominee:
“I think you'll be able to imagine many things Senator McCain will be able to say,” she said. “He’s never been the president, but he will put forth his lifetime of experience. I will put forth my lifetime of experience. Senator Obama will put forth a speech he made in 2002.”
I'm all for drawing real distinctions, but can't we all just leave this sort of shit to the Republicans?

Partial image used under fair use. Whole image by Hilary Perkins available from Wikimedia Commons under CCA ShareAlike 2.0.

Tattoo you

Sick (and not with a teenager's positive connotation):

Mr. Stone, who has referred to politics as “performance art,” is a longtime Republican consultant known for hardball politics and a cloak-and-dagger sensibility. He started out as a teenager in the campaign of Richard M. Nixon, and has a tattoo of the former president’s head on his back.
You'd better believe that the Republicans have a strong oppo network that is constantly turning over rocks in hope of finding this sort of crap.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

So?

Since the Sunday comics came a day early yesterday, today I'm left to write about a sacred document. No, despite today's being Easter, I mean the Constitution, not the Biblical story of the Pascal sacrifice. In my defense, Pauline Maier did place the Constitution (formerly in effect) among the canon of American scripture.

Obviously my title refers to Dick Cheney's infamous schoolboyish response to Martha Raddatz about Iraq. Consent of the governed? Who cares!

We the people has been replaced by We the Bushists. It's not hyperbole to say that a coup d'etat has supplanted our republic. It's inescapable fact.

Constitutional scorecard here.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Hydrogen sulfide?

For full John Branch, San Antonio Express News cartoon, click image.

Enough with the hand-waving

Click image for full Sandy Huffaker cartoon.

Torturer in chief

Haven't visited Mark Fiore in a while...

Click image to see full Mark Fiore animation.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Insincerity falsified


If Barack Obama were insincere, as the wingnut bullshitters (Krauthammer, Jeff Jacoby, et al) claim, the easiest thing in the world for him to do would have been to castigate Rev. Wright and to sell him down the river. And, yes, I mean that metaphor of slavery to convey all the slimy, hypocritical opportunism available to a venal and ambitious politician.

Instead, Obama took a harder path. He criticized Wright but didn't sell him out. He spoke frankly on race when he could have pandered. In short, the very difficulty of the path he chose shows his honesty and sincerity.

The wingnuts will never admit this. They are the ones who are dishonest - on race and racism and on their evaluation of the man and his speech.

Image from Wikimedia Commons under CCA ShareAlike 2.0. Rights retained by the Center for American Progress.

Facts just get in the way

For all teh people who think Jim Garrison was the spittin' image of Kevin Costner and a bunch of gay mafia Cubans assassinated JFK, it's always good to see mythic Hollywood extravaganzas get fact-checked, even a little tongue-in-cheek. The credulous are often the same folk who can't tell the mythic stories of the Bible from historical documents. No matter how many times you say Gilgamesh, they keep right on replying, "Never give up. Never surrender." And they believe "The Passion of the Christ" is history. Hey, it's in Aramaic!

It's amazing how well-represented Mel Gibson is in this panoply of bullshit, though it would be religiously incorrect to notice that "The Passion" is tendentious bullshit (not to mention a pornography of violence quite in keeping with Mel's secular work), and it is therefore omitted. Gives a whole new meaning to the line from "Notting Hill", "Mel does his own ass work. And why wouldn't he?" When it comes to gibsons, put your belief in Henry or in pearl onions steeped in gin.

I do have a hard time understanding how a movie released in 1968 can be held accountable for inaccurately predicting 2001. If "Back to the Future" showed the ridiculousness of Ronald Reagan's presidency from the eyes of 1955, even Ray Bradbury, who got closest with "A Sound of Thunder", couldn't have predicted the avalanche of decadence and stupidity that allowed Duhbya to take office in 2001.

It also cracks me up that sending a computer virus to alien spacecraft should be held up as an exemplar of authenticity. Probably just a Mac product placement and thus representative of the modern American commoditization, purchase, and sale of factoids as if they were true.

I have nothing against a good rollicking blockbuster myth. It's just that I can distinguish it from reality, and I wish more Americans could, too.

Vicious circle of financial contraction


Paul Krugman didn't just now say this for the first time. He has been making the point of our willful forgetting for years.

I made it, too, last week and also not for the first time.

American economic power is already under threat. The consequences of a deep worldwide recession - or a bona fide depression - are too unpredictable to be sure of, but the Great Depression did these things:

  • Stoked extreme ideologies on the left and the right
  • Led to WWII
  • Killed people with poverty
  • Moved the economic center of the world (from Europe to the U.S.)
I'd venture a guess that we in the U.S. don't want any of these things to happen again, but we haven't acted that way since the 1970s.

Image in the public domain.

Vitter watch, day ... hmm

Is the FBI tailing David Vitter, trying to record his well-known propensity for buying sex? How about salacious warrants - any of those filed and still sealed?

Poor Eliot Spitzer, not unassailable enough to be Caesar's wife. What an idiot not to know that when you mess up rich people, you'd better stay clean.

Image from Wikimedia Commons under CCA ShareAlike 2.0. Rights owned by Dave Winer.

If loving you is wrong

I'm not happy to be proven wrong except in one situation - when my fear and cynicism are disappointed. I have a bit more hope now for the probity of the DNC Credentials Committee (not the Rules Committee, unless the DNC web site is out of date).

Jim Roosevelt is saying all the right things in a public way that is not easy to back down from. And I say thank you and hooray. Oh, and I'm sorry, too, for my earlier skepticism.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Pot, meet kettle

So.

Five years into a misbegotten war that the Washington Post editorial board breathlessly shilled for, it's the Democrats whose rhetoric on the war in Iraq is "wildly unrealistic". It's the Democrats who don't offer a detailed enough plan. It's the Democrats who don't understand reality.

The pot and the kettle are Duhbya and his sycophants at the Post. Hillary and Obama, at worst, are nice shiny new pieces of stainless.

Honestly, if all they have is this "serious" bullshit, I could write up a recipe for crow pie that they could print. They could use the same title, "Fantasies on Iraq". Yeah, that would pretty much work on all their propaganda in favor of the war.

The good old days

Remember when Big Pharma told us how dangerous drugs from Canada would be? Now they're buying ingredients from the cultural equivalent of meth labs in China:

Many workshops that make crude heparin are unregulated family operations.

Repetition is all they've got


Conservatives have ideological faith that business is always better:

Robert Ferrari of Tewksbury said he believes that private companies are held to stricter standards.

"I'm pro-privatizing as much of government as possible," said Ferrari, who runs a local blog about issues in Tewksbury.

"The government cannot run anything that a business couldn't do better."

Of course, to run a public library more cheaply, the business has to beggar its workers. So much for higher standards.

The problem with this claim is that it's obvious bullshit. A few counterexamples:
  • Medicare, Medicaid, the VA
  • highway building
  • universal education
  • social welfare
  • the military
Businesses optimize one thing, and sometimes they do a good job at it.

Image from Wikimedia Commons CCA ShareAlike 2.5. Rights owned by Daniel Schwen.

You can't handle the truth

Obama gave a speech on race from the heart. It was honest and frank. It was fair-minded and clear-eyed and filled with exactly the reason, understanding, and sympathy that America needs in its leaders. Above all, it was authentic.

There is no Republican in public life who could deliver such a speech, much less write it himself, as Obama did. There are precious few other Democrats, if any. Even Bill Clinton couldn't do it.

Yet, instead of judging the speech on its own considerable merit, Katharine Seelye of course judges it on the basis of how others are spinning it. This is par for the course for Seelye, who always spins to the detriment of Democrats. Here she's spinning for Hillary, but, come the general, that won't last.

Seelye poses as wanting to know whether the speech was effective in the white working class, or whether, in a formula she adopts straight from Rush Limbaugh, 'whether the speech cements Mr. Obama as the “black candidate” in the minds of blue-collar whites'. What she appears to want, really, is simply to put out the narrative that these voters won't accept Obama, that it wasn't "effective".

Seelye quotes a bunch of Democrats who supposedly have working class cred (even though several are academics), and only one of them has a concrete criticism - and that's that the speech didn't contain enough policy. Shit, not enough policy! What will we do? We'll have to listen to everyone else's dry policy dissertations to see how it really ought to be done.

Ask me no questions

Under NCLB, many of the states have been lying about their drop-out rates. Big surprise - the law left them the unchecked latitude to fudge their "mandatory" statistics.

It's very easy to find out the percentage in an age cohort who have diplomas. Count 'em, which you can do well enough without a census using births and life expectancies. Divide that number by the total number of diplomas issued. If these numbers are far off from graduation rates, someone's reporting bullshit.

This has been a lie that everyone was happy to leave hidden in plain sight. Fortunately, no more.

The number one education crisis in this country is not what schools teach the kids who stay. It's what schools don't teach the kids who leave. Our high school graduation rates are poor, and our college graduation rates - once the world's highest - are slipping well back into the pack.

This is why we're not prepared for the 21st century. The old saw says that a job is the best social welfare program, but the jobs you can get without an education often don't qualify.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Journey of harmony


The Chinese government wants everything about the coming Beijing Olympics to be nicey-nice, which is why they're putting down dissent by force in Tibet, invading Nepal to take the torch to the top of Everest, and trying to fling Darfur down the world's already well-used memory hole. Oh, yeah, and calling the Dalai Lama:

a jackal in Buddhist monk’s robes, an evil spirit with a human face and the heart of a beast...
Oom! Harmonious. Kim Jong Il will be so proud of his big brothers!

Image from Wikimedia Commons under CCA ShareAlike 2.5. Rights owned by Luca Galuzzi - www.galuzzi.it.

Ten-foot poll

CNN is polling more whims of the voter. But it's a librul media conspiracy! Their polling director is named Keating Holland. That means every time he files a report or CNN quotes him on the subject of John McCain, everyone is reminded of the Keating Five, and that's old news.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Deserving


Maybe we Americans don't deserve this man. Probably we don't.

But we didn't deserve Duhbya on the other side of the ledger either, so maybe Obama can balance him out.

Deserving usually doesn't enter into life, much less elections. But, omigod, I hope. Spend 40 minutes, and you may, too.

One more thing - I was completely right to say this:

The real truth of where Obama would be is that a speaker and a presence and a thinker and a motivator such as he would already own the Democratic nomination if he were white. He is not an ordinary politician.

Reaping the whirlwind

John McCain warns five years too late that liberating the Iraqi Shi'a increases Iran's influence in the Middle East. Then, just later today, he learns why.

Maybe he's been spending too much time on the Straight Talk Express kissing up to equally fact-free reporters when, I don't know, he should have been reading a briefing book.

This country could really use Prime Minister's question hour to weed out the unqualified dopes. Nah, that would be too late.

Politikkered up

I drink beer, wine, whiskey, gin, and just about every other form of ethanol. Who do I vote for?

I'm really surprised the smart-ass pollsters didn't ask (this time) about domestic vs. imported beer or about micro-brews. Hell, the Boston Globe is balkanizing coffee-drinking Democrats into Dunkin' Donuts for Hillary and Starbucks for Obama.

All the pollsters are trying to make their bones with the synecdoche (soccer mom, NASCAR dad, metrosexual) that all the purveyors of conventional wisdom can latch onto to add color to their useless analyses.

Natural heir to Duhbya

Though he already has the Republican nomination sewn up and thus presumably doesn't have to be insincerely moronic any more, John McCain still appeals to the ignoramus vote for the best of all the straight-talking reason reasons - he is one, too:

[T]he presumptive Republican presidential nominee repeatedly said Iran was supplying al Qaeda. Iran is predominately a Shiite country and is not aiding the Sunni dominated Al-Qaeda.
Really, how could anyone but a dimwit not know this by now? If you've loved Duhbya's inability to think with anything larger than his appendix for the last 7 years, you'll love McCain. He's making a case for hostility, and he can't get the most basic fact right.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Just around the corner

No, not success in Iraq, a healthy U.S. financial system and economy. That's what the platitudinous Bushists will keep saying. They don't have either the brains or the pragmatism to let go of their foolish free market ideology fast enough to keep this recession from being long and deep.

Consent of the governed

What do people have to know to give their informed consent to a democratic government? To get a complete answer is probably impossible. We could argue about it through a warehouse full of whiskey (and maybe on St. Paddy's we should), but it's obvious that the Bushists are satisfied with manufacturing the appearance of consent - the silent obedient kind, ideally. They think we don't need to know if we're scared enough.

Mugwumps

Growing up in East Tennessee, I often heard my father complain about mugwump Democrats who would vote for the stupidest, most venal, most hide-bound and conservative candidate in the primary. These mugwumps would then vote for the Republican in the general, though they'd maintain that they were still part of the Democrat (sic) Party.

"I vote for the man," they'd say, "not the party." Sure, that way they could be sure of getting the dumbest bag of hammers to represent them. Probably accurately, at that.

Now, we have mugwumps on a national scale, though they've finally admitted that they really do belong in the Republican Party. They're still trying to screw the real Democrats, of course.

For those with their heads in the sand, here's a demonstration of the power of Rush Limbaugh. (Tell me, if Eliot Spitzer is going to be prosecuted, why Rush is still unindicted?)

Hillary did have a good rejoinder:

"Be careful what you wish for, Rush," she said with a grin.

Comfortable on the world stage


John McCain went to Baghdad with Joe Lieberman and Joe's mancrush. Secretly. In a flak vest, cap, and sunglasses. And I don't blame him for that at all.

But, hey, maybe he rode the Osprey V-22 in the background. That used to be a risky venture.

What I like best about this story (other than the art) is this:

Critics question whether U.S. taxpayers are bankrolling a campaign junket. McCain campaign aides have openly said they hope the trip shows him to be authoritative and comfortable on the world stage.
Yes, I'd prefer to hear names of the critics, but it's so refreshing that spin from campaign aides is sourced to them, even if anonymously.

Of course, the headline makes it appear that McCain is still there. I'd bet against the news getting out before he did.

Image labelled "U.S. Air Force Handout", so I believe I have the right to use it. Thanks to the AP for passing it on.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunshine scatters the roaches

"Mine, I tell you, mine, all mine."

For full Adam Zyglis cartoon in the Buffalo News, click the image.

Expecting shit fits

Remember how the media reacted when Obama suggested the need for cross-border attacks on al Qaeda sanctuaries in Pakistan? Tsk, tsk, proves he's not ready!

Now that the Bush Administration has done just what Obama offered as a possible tactic, I'm suuuure the big-balled nutjobs at Fox will be all over this. I mean, they let it go in January, but they couldn't possibly let it go again.

Or have the Afghanis developed their own missile-launching drones?

Street cred

"With me, honey, you're maxed out at $2300."


For full David Horsey cartoon from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, click the image.

Bush/Cheney in one easy panel

Snarkapalooza!

For full MStreeter cartoon from the Savannah Morning News, click the image.

Fishy is as fishy does

If you have to bite your lip, could you leave your wife out of it?

For full Beth Cravens cartoon, click the image.

Circular boxing match

That's going to leave a mark!

For full John Branch cartoon from the San Antonio Express News, click on the image.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Our grandchildren's money

Unsigned editorials are seldom useful, but this one is an exception. It's really a news analysis and should have run on the front page, but still, it contains a strong fact basis that everyone should be aware of.

In the run-up to the war, President Bush's top economic adviser, Larry Lindsey, said it might cost as much as $200 billion. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the actual amount would be just $50 billion to $60 billion, calling Lindsey's projection "baloney," much as Rumsfeld had belittled General Eric Shinseki's estimate that it would take several hundred thousand US troops to fight the war successfully.

Both Lindsey and Rumsfeld were far from the mark. Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard University's Linda Bilmes have just published "The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict," and they consider that figure a conservative estimate.

$3 trillion! It's a debt that our grandchildren will find hard to pay off.

Update: From Linda Bilmes, more detail.

Transcribing the bullshit

Is there any reason for any journalist to believe the CIA or any other agency of the Bush-Cheney administration?

The C.I.A. emptied its secret prisons in the fall of 2006
Lying is part of the CIA mission, and the New York Times thinks it knows that the CIA isn't lying about clearing all of its black detention sites.

Especially when this is well known:
Ms. Gutierrez said that she could not reveal what Mr. Khan had said about his treatment because the government declared prisoners’ statements to be classified.

Listening in Washington?

Washington chose to let financial institutions hide their risks. Though it may have started with Republicans, the Democrats joined in enthusiastically as their one year of economics at Harvard or wherever led them to pay obeisance to the free, unregulated market as bringer of all good things.

Now, not so much. I hope we're not driving off a cliff, but I think we've already driven off (how high a cliff?), and we just have a little time for agonizing reappraisal of coulda, woulda, shoulda before the impact at the bottom.

What was in it for the Democrats anyway? Campaign contributions, the mother's milk of American politics, at the cost of one of their defining values, social class.

Mirabelli dictu

I actually got some hot stove baseball right before it was the conventional wisdom:

Among position players, Mirabelli is gone. The Sox may invite him to camp, but Kevin Cash is Wakefield’s next catcher. He may not be the catcher of the future since he’s already 30, but he’s the bridge to whoever comes up next.
When they say Mirabelli's bat had slowed over the off season, what they really mean is that his eyes had slowed. It's not the swinging muscles that go, nor the decision-making speed, it's the visual information required to decide and then swing. Jim Rice's eyes went south in a hurry at the end of his career.

There's just no recovering from the aging and rigidity of the lenses. I should know, I have a prescription for multifocal glasses in my pocket.

Doug, by the way, thanks for the memories. You had a good run here, and I appreciate how important you were to the Sox.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Good luck to Vitter's successor

I'm sure David Vitter's replacement in the Senate is getting coverage like this somewhere.

Balance at CNN

Well, the headline, "House challenges Bush on surveillance", is both tart and accurate. The story, not so much. So, the defects:

One member voted present.
They think we love one-sentence paragraphs. Who, dammit? Inform me! Update: Lincoln Davis (D-TN).
The Democratic plan would allow telecommunications companies to be sued for their role in the administration's much-disputed warrantless surveillance program.
First, the surveillance program is clearly and objectively illegal. It's not "balanced" to refrain from noticing that fact. Further, this sentence omits the fact that standing to sue already exists and that the Democratic bill would not eliminate that standing ex post facto.

Then we hear fatalism. The Senate will never pass the House bill. The President will never sign it. Fine! Then telecom immunity, bastard of the current fascism, will not become law.

After Duhbya's argument, we are privileged to hear from GOP members, from the administration's flunkies in the DOJ and intelligence with multiple quotes and paraphrases.

When we finally - finally - get to a Democrat defending the bill, we hear that the estimable John Conyers has an "angle":
"We are not going to cave into a retroactive immunity situation," the Michigan Democrat said. "There's no law school example in our memory that gives retroactive immunity for something you don't know what you are giving it for. It just doesn't work in the real world or on the Hill either."
Then we hear from Duhbya and from Tony Fratto before Nancy Pelosi gets to give a rejoinder and to speak about the secret session sideshow with help from David Obey, but at no point in the entire story is the substance of the Democratic argument presented.

Update: Important to remember that the Bushist surveillance was already going on before 9/11.

Oversight? We don't need no stinkin' oversight.

It's unambiguously within Duhbya's power (for once) to reverse Gerald Ford's executive order, but it perfectly illustrates his preference for spying without restraint or transparency.

Even when the board had teeth, they were just dentures in a glass by the bed. It's not as if they restrained the Bushist surveillance state in the slightest.

The Globe's illustration for the story is perfect:

  • Gerald Ford, who pardoned Nixon and affirmed the evasion of culpability for Republican criminals
  • James Baker, who ran the first stage of the Bushist coup, in Florida
  • Dick Cheney, emissary of the dark side, who pushed the Bushists toward unfettered imperial power

"Damned city of hammers"

Richard Russo imagines a fictive Eliot Spitzer.

Rick admits he's outraged that Eliot has spent $80,000 on prostitutes, because it shouldn't cost that much to get a little action in America. It's like one of those $500 Pentagon hammers. Downright wasteful. And why order a hammer from New Jersey and pay the shipping? There are perfectly good hammers in Washington -- it's a damned city of hammers when you think about it. Where on earth did Eliot get the idea that New Jersey hammers were superior? All he wanted to do was nail something, right?
Tragedy or farce? Both!

Unitary executive in action

Never mind what the law says. Duhbya wants a less restrictive new standard, so the legislature be damned and science be damned, too, so he's going to have what he wants. And to hell with those of us who breathe.

This is almost certainly a lie, too:

When asked about Clement's role, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said: "The White House sought legal advice from the Justice Department and made its decision based on that advice."
The White House modus operandi is to tell Justice what advice they need and only then to happily use whatever bullshit rationale Justice concocts.

$200 billion for a one-day rally

The financial panic is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. Billions, even trillions (that we don't have) to bail out speculators who are too big to fail without the whole house of cards coming down. $1000 for an ounce of gold. $110 for a barrel of oil.

What lessons did we learn at such great cost in the 1930s? Bueller? (And it's so appropriate to quote a free-market apologist like Ben Stein on the topic.) Anyone?

Well, we're about to learn all over again the consequences of creative pyramids of debt, allowed by loosing the masters of the universe on the markets with no effective regulation.

One other parallel: The Federal judiciary is packed with reactionaries who will hamstring responses from the legislature and the executive.

Update: Paul Krugman says the price tag is $400 billion. Let's hope we get a little more than a one-day visit from a financial Kristen (11/8: Ashley Alexandra Dupré) for that chunk of change.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Take away checks and balances...

... and you'll get plenty of surveillance without justification.

Is anyone surprised that the FBI continued to abuse national security letters? Without oversight, you get misbehavior. That's exactly why judicial review is essential, even if the FISA court is mostly a fig leaf.

There is no report of any administrative accountability inside the FBI for the abuse, either.

I love this quote:

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Michigan, said, "At the same time the administration is trying to intimidate the Congress into giving it additional spying power, we find out yet again that it has abused its authority to pry into the lives of law-abiding Americans."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

"If Obama were a white man"

I really hate seeing this epoch-making campaign turn so ugly. Maybe ugly's the wrong word. Graceless and petty, anyway.

Geraldine Ferraro says, "I am not a racist." Big surprise that she would think that.

There are extremes in the American view of race. On the right are the out-and-out bigots. Mercifully, they are much rarer than they used to be. I was just watching Richard Pryor, and much of his stand-up is now dated, despite the obvious and painful truths of it. On the left are those who say that all of us white people are irredeemably racist. Of course, the entire history of the United States is marked by race and racism, but the inability of these leftists to distinguish degrees makes their critique strident and useless.

Ferraro may want "these people" to appreciate what she has done for them. This sort of formulation, if it is deep-down hers, was once long ago forward-thinking on race, but it now reveals acceptance of the grouping of people into us vs. them, and we've realized in the meantime that that's a problem. Perhaps not in her case, but this is a real scenario.

There is a sense in which Obama wouldn't be where he is if he were white, because he would likely not be the extraordinary person he is if he were lily white. He is who he is because of all his attributes and background, and race is one of the most important.

Of course, Obama is white, too, just as he is black. He grew up under the care of his white mother and grandparents. If the one-drop definition is something we still accept, then we ought to remember that we all came out of Africa, just some of us earlier than others. Maybe even the palest white people like me, some of whom wanted their melanin challenge to be something precious because it was theirs, can find the pride in that. Yeah, for many, that'll be a while. Still, the progress since I was a little white boy in segregated Memphis is real.

The real truth of where Obama would be is that a speaker and a presence and a thinker and a motivator such as he would already own the Democratic nomination if he were white. He is not an ordinary politician. I say that as a late convert to the cause, knowing that his appeal is emotionally visceral, even though there's also clearly substance there. But even when I supported John Edwards, I could recognize Obama's gifts.

There is also a sense in which Hillary would not be where she is if she were a man. And, no, I don't mean that she'd be nowhere if she had not married Bill. Her life experience as a female is important, too, and of course not everyone can see past her sex to everything else she has to offer. There are still Democrats even, older men mostly, who won't vote for a woman. But there are also women over 80 (and I'm thinking of one in particular) who passionately want to see the day they never thought they'd see when a woman is President.

This time around, we'll only get a shot at one demographic check mark. That should be a win-win, but it seems to be turning into a lose-lose. Sad.

Update: Here's a more charitable interpretation of Ferraro's comments.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

First stone

No doubt, the U.S. is factually correct about human rights in China, as well as the other named nations, and I wouldn't want to equate America to the other countries on that score. But.

I'm sure our hectoring of anyone on torture brings derisive giggles anywhere in the world right about now.

Paying for it

Not exactly the way Harvard would like to stay in the public eye, but the other common thread between David Vitter and Eliot Spitzer is that they both attended Harvard. Oh, and to this point, non-resignation.

It is hard to believe that this began as a "routine" inquiry.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tragic flaw

I would have thought that Eliot Spitzer's tragic flaw was his ego, not his penis. I suppose the two are often linked, hence ham spam's constant appeals to the beleaguered egos of middle-aged men.

From CNN's reports, it looks as though Spitzer will try the David Vitter route on this and not resign.

Looks as though Jocelyn Elders was right about this age group, too.

Update: Maybe too much Viagra in his drinking water...

Update: Since I'm trying to blogwhore Sphere sites, this seems to be the perfect story. Some of the girls earn $5500 an hour. Jeez, what do they do for that much money? Do the Emperors Club VIPs sit around in their private clubs bragging about the exquisite expense of their call girls when single malt scotch and Cuban cigars have gotten too boring?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Veepstakes

Obama needs heft for his VP. Clinton needs to broaden her appeal. Sorry, Bill Richardson, you're not the guy.

Colin Powell would be a bold choice for Obama. Double down on race, reach across the aisle to someone who still - mysteriously to me - has a positive reputation, and play both sides of Iraq. But this would confuse the hell out of Obama's base and not in a good way. Powell had his chance to be useful on the national stage and completely muffed it.

Wesley Clark could be a good military heavyweight who's not in thrall to the Bushists, but he doesn't bring his own geographic constituency, and Obama could use some border state appeal to flank the GOP. Since Obama's organization on the ground is so strong, Clark's lack of that isn't a drawback.

Sam Nunn? At least he wouldn't be called upon to deliver charisma. Weirder things have happened, but I don't see this as really helping Obama anywhere. Chuck Hagel would be better, more aligned on Iraq, and a regional threat into Republican areas, but Senators don't have executive military or foreign policy experience, though that's probably too much inside baseball to matter.

Hillary can't double down on gender. It's too bad, but she can't. She simply has to have Obama. There's no other way she can win. Even that is no guarantee, but a triumvirate of Hill, Bill, and Barry could be a potent story.

You'll know if she's doomed to lose to McCain: She'll pick someone else after talks with Obama fall through.

Or maybe she and McCain could run together on a unity ticket! David Broder would pop another Viagra after creaming his jeans the first time.

Shtupping to conquer

For full, hilarious cartoon by Mike Luckovich for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, click image.

Kids! They never fill up the tank.

Especially not with $3.50/gal gasoline...

For full Robert Ariail/The State cartoon, click image.

Tallahansing Michirida

The campaigns shouldn't have to pay to repair the knowing mischief of Florida and Michigan, but they probably have to to make this nettle go away. You know that Republican Gov. Charlie Crist in Florida would never offer the slightest effort to fix any problem that Democrats have. Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm in Michigan? Maybe.

Even if the campaigns do effectively pay the $30 million cost of this fiasco, they should set up separate funds that don't affect their further fund-raising ability (assuming there's a legal way, probably via the DNC).

Click image for full Steve Lait/Oakland Tribune cartoon.

Nine-hundred-page Family Circus

Not Me!

Why anyone would credit a single word from Douglas Feith, much less 900 pages of them, is a puzzle of belief trumping experience. Feith-based foreign policy!

Middle name whack-a-mole

The appeal to bigotry and fear about Barack Obama's middle name is going to keep on popping up from the reddest reaches of wingnut politics. This is their idea of a burning issue.

Obama needs to embrace his name something like this:

My name is Barack Hussein Obama. Just as John McCain is nothing like serial killer John Wayne Gacy, I'm nothing like Saddam Hussein. If your name is Adolf, you're not another Hitler. If you're Joseph, you're not another Stalin. Pope Benedict is not a Benedict Arnold. Eugene McCarthy was nothing like Joseph McCarthy. And, while George W. Bush is a lot like King George III, it's not because of his name.

Lather, rinse, repeat, and wash those Drudges right out of his hair.

Of course, the wingnuts will simply move back to "mistakenly" saying Osama for Obama. Every time they do this, the Obama campaign should ask:

Why is it that Osama is not already captured or dead?
Every damn time.

Adapted and expanded from this comment on TennViews.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Quis custodiet?

You mean cops are subject to traffic laws!?

"You can't have one set of laws for police officers and another one for the rest of the world," Andrews said.

In recent weeks, officers have twice been photographed speeding past a camera and extending a middle finger, an act that police supervisors interpreted as a gesture of defiance.
Or was the officer propositioning the camera?

Hysterically,
Leaders of the police union recently filed a grievance arguing that the citations constitute a change in labor conditions that the department must negotiate with the union before implementing.
I find this whole story hilarious.

That's gonna leave a mark

Katha Pollitt whales Charlotte Allen and the editors of the Washington Post but saves the best for the whole wingnut cabal:

What bothers Allen about this picture is that these women reject, with every fiber of their latte-loving beings, the abstinence-only, father-knows-best, slut-shaming crabbed misogyny of the Republican right.

Pro-torture Republicans

Duhbya and the Bushists favor torture. There's no clearer way to put it.

Even with this veto, torture remains a war crime, illegal under U.S. law and the (formerly enforced) Constitution.

Update: CNN illustrates their story with Duhbya jovially talking to the Heritage Foundation about waterboarding in 2007. This is the conservative movement's morality.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Documenting the tatters

The former Constitution of the United States - the one we've fought for and died for and sworn allegiance to for generations, the one that Duhbya twice perjuriously swore to preserve, protect, and defend - lies tattered by his usurpations. Here are a few comments on the remains:


Last updated: December 4, 2008

I say the moon's made of green cheese

The Bushists simply arrogate to themselves any power they want. Now it's the unilateral power to make treaties. Congress and the Democrats do nothing.

Here's what Article II, Section 2, paragraph 2 of the former Constitution says on the subject about the President's power:

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur;
In reply, the Bushists - one Jeffrey Bergner this time - say that "Congress already endorsed such an initiative through its 2002 resolution authorizing the use of force against Saddam Hussein." Oh, right, that exception is right there in the text - if you're hallucinating from boosting glue.

They don't actually believe this bullshit is valid. They know it's bullshit. They know that we know it's bullshit. They're just saying, "Stop us if you have the nerve."

Nancy and Harry don't. The Democrats continue to pretend this hasn't been happening since the get-go:
Bergner's letter, said Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.), "creates the basis for a constitutional confrontation."
Ya think?

It's a shame. The old Constitution wasn't perfect, but it was a damn sight better than Duhbya making up new dictatorial powers as he goes along.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

More surges

Trying something new...



Joel Pett
Lexington Herald-Leader
Mar 6, 2008

Women are too nice

Faced with Charlotte Allen's infamous, self-inflicted piece of girls-are-dumb ditz-hood, how could these two writers have come up with something so absent sputtering incoherent rage? I mean, seriously, do you want the finger on the button to be this calm and incisive? If they'd been in charge the past seven years, jeez, they might have made peace. And we can't have that.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Florida and Michigan

What will the DNC do about Florida and Michigan? They ran their unauthorized primaries, and Hillary won both in a walkover, while Obama stayed away, perhaps naively.

A revote has been mentioned in Florida, and that might be the right approach, though the Clinton camp would never agree to it willingly.

If the nomination contest gets to Denver unresolved, I would expect a floor fight to determine how to seat these delegations. If that happens, I think Clinton wins, but democracy and the Democratic Party lose.

The real question is who is on the Credentials Committee. The chairs are Alexis Herman, James Roosevelt Jr., and Eliseo Roques-Arroyo. Herman was Bill Clinton's secretary of labor, and I've never heard of Roques-Arroyo before, but a little googling shows that he worked in the Clinton White House. Buzzflash, too.

That leaves Jim Roosevelt, who also worked in the Clinton Administration, and I'm not optimistic that his rulings will reflect anything but his desired outcome. I only have two experiences with him, but they were both warnings.

The Massachusetts Democratic Party Convention had passed a rules change about the number of delegates allowed each town, and the language wasn't completely clear, so Roosevelt had to make a ruling. Fair enough. The problem was that his ruling was impossible to reconcile with the passed language.

The second case involved a challenge from the floor of another state convention to a ruling of the chair, Phil Johnston, about a voice vote that was clearly not fairly callable. Roosevelt backed Johnston's call, which just happened to be what the party apparatus wanted.

If I had to guess, I'd say that Obama had better win 2208 delegates instead of just 2025 if he wants to be the nominee. I expect the sub rosa Florida and Michigan delegations to be seated.

Update: Close to 500 people have seen this page, yet no one has left a comment!

Update (3/21/08): Could have a happy ending yet!

Lazarus Methuselah

Time to climb way down and congratulate John McCain on being the nominee of the Republican Party. Winning that would make me retch, but he wanted it.

I've already eaten a small serving of crow about completely writing him off, but it wasn't enough. I thought even with raven feathers stuck in my teeth that he'd lose eventually. So I get to slurp up another serving.

In truth, I underestimated Republican primary voters, which suggests that they are not as hard to the starboard as their party and its wingnut media cheerleaders. They saw through the empty suit of Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee's appeal was too narrow and too poorly funded. I failed to notice how quickly they bailed on Rudy Giuliani, which might have been my first clue that they were smarter than I thought - had I not missed it.

Of course, even I am not cynical enough to anticipate that McCain would move resoundingly toward torture. I mistakenly assumed that his personal experience at the hands of the North Vietnamese would trump every political calculation. Wrong. It must've happened too long ago.

In the end, Republican primary voters held their noses and nominated the only candidate with a chance to win in November. Especially if he games the public campaign finance system, which of course he will.

Procureur du roi

The administrators at BC may congratulate themselves for sitting at the feet of power, absorbing its pearls of wisdom and its good wishes. But they've abandoned the law's aspiration to justice in favor of its aspiration to power.

"I cannot imagine a better role model for the class of 2008," [law school dean John] Garvey said in the statement.
The ability to utter bullshit like this with a straight face is an important skill for a lawyer, but he's telling his students that anything they learned in three years about the principle of law they should forget. It's all about becoming the procureur du roi and sending the victims off to the Chateau d'If.

Presence

Yep, a presence all right - bullshit in the newspaper. Can we stop paying attention to this weak-minded, superstitious crap?

Thermal transients cause "unexplained" noises.

Voters say the darndest things

Man in the street stories are notoriously worthless, but this one got a lot of strong quotes:

"I have a lot of fears," said Patricia Day, a substitute aide for the local school system. Fears? "The Democrats. That's what I'm afraid of. I'm not against Democrats in general. It's just Hillary and Obama. I think there are too many secrets they are hiding, and they're not honest about their intentions in office."
Day has been listening to wingnut talk radio, and she don't know nuthin'.
"It's just the way I was raised," Wayne said. "I'm a strong Christian." He specifically singled out Barack Obama. "I refuse to vote for a president who refuses to uphold the Pledge of Allegiance," said Wayne, citing false information in wide Internet circulation, though he quickly admitted: "Granted, that might be hearsay."
There's no skepticism among those who eagerly lap up wingnut lies. It has been clear for decades that Democrats and liberals need to use every refutation to hammer home the point that practically everything the wingnuts say is a lie of some sort.
"I guess I trust [the Republicans] more," [Terry] Barton said. "I guess I think they're not as sloppy as the Democrats."
Hmm, I wonder what adjective 'sloppy' is standing in for. The nicest suggestion I have is 'diverse'.
"I'm a Christian lady and I kind of like that Huckabee, Huckletree, however you pronounce it. And I think McCain is too old. And I like that fella who is running against Hillary, and he was my choice until I heard what he said the other day," [said Naomi Winans]. She wouldn't say what he said. "And I didn't want a woman. That's a man's job being president. I don't think God put a woman here to run the country. Well, her husband was in there already. They don't need that much more money, do they?"
Any excuse'll do.