Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wrong even when he's right

Never mind that Thomas Friedman has been lousy with error on Iraq. Every day is a new day, and today he got solar energy incentives right.

What's my problem then? Friedman blames Congress as a whole.

Look, the problem here is Republicans in Congress, allying with Duhbya to continue subsidizing big oil as the priority order of bidness. They're not the Gas and Oil Party for nuthin'.

When the media prefers bullshit, faux bipartisanship as its highest good, it won't tell the truth about who's to blame.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Republican ID law

Lawyers, Guns, and Money has the details of Indiana's Democratic-voter-suppression law and this jaw-dropping admission from the opinion of the three moderates:

The record contains no evidence of any such fraud actually occurring in Indiana at any time in its history.

Waiting for the other shoe to drop

Does CNN (or anyone else in the media) ever ask a Democratic politico to give concern troll "advice" to a Republican? Has Anderson Cooper ever asked a partisan Democrat to "advise" John McCain about how to distance himself from Duhbya's unpopular positions while nonetheless holding them himself?

I'd love to see an example. No, Fox hiring Susan Estrich doesn't count, even if she did run Michael Dukakis's presidential campaign (into the ground).

Meanwhile, the media continue to hold Obama responsible for Jeremiah Wright, while staying mum on McCain's embrace of John Hagee, among others.

Nothing is ever Duhbya's responsibility

Congress did it, yeah, that's the ticket. The recess-uh-slowdown is their fault. Yeah.

Charles Schumer was an amoral idiot on Mukasey, but this is pretty good:

“While the president is standing idly by, proposing irrelevant solutions to a national and international crisis,” he added, “Shell and BP announced record profits for the first quarter in 2008. Whose side is the president on?”

Massive resistance

Darth and his storm troopers, led by David Addington, continue to give the finger to Congress and the former Constitution.

Congress should immediately cease any further accommodation with the outlaw Bushist regime. No appointments, especially not judicial appointments, no committee exits for administration bills, no answering the damn telephone when a White House staffer calls. You want funding for Iraq? Fuck off.

As if.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Of course you pray

Believer or not, of course you pray when your 11-year-old daughter lapses unconscious. But you do something, too. The grandmother wanted a doctor, but even she was too unassertive, and the emergency call had to come - too late - from a thousand miles away!

Diabetic ketoacidosis has other signs besides profound fatigue. Unquenchable thirst and constant urination as the body dumps sugar through the urine are a couple. My own mother diagnosed my sister at age 11 from ketones on the breath, thirst, urination, and weight loss. Not everyone has read her brother's med school text books, but most any conscious parent would have the sense that this situation was out of control.

One open question: Did the Neumanns have health insurance? Did they try to rely on prayer because they didn't qualify for or hadn't signed up for SCHIP? Any health story like this should include that sort of question.

One irony: Under Sean Bell rules, the parents have nothing to fear from the DA's charges of negligent homicide. I doubt they'll get that break, however.

Penned up

Frank Rich notices McCain's failure in Pennsylvania and fleshes it out with some cool numbers. Any column that refers to a Democratic surplus of a million voters is a cause for some happiness amidst all the current gloom, mine included.

The national pundit's cartel is going to have to take away his membership for going against the received and conventional wisdom, especially since he confesses to heterodoxy in paragraph 2.

Well buried but worth getting to is this slam at McCain:

The “action” the candidate outlined in the text of his speeches may strike many voters as running the gamut from inaction to inertia.
If he would stay in Iraq for his entire less-than-century-long presidency, there's no money to do anything else. He's not going to raise taxes for love nor the deficit.

So all he has is recycled photo op compassionate conservatism. He'll be happy to emote and sympathize, as long as we don't ask for anything more.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A geriatric seething with rage

Funny enough to make you piss your Depends.

More at Red State Update.

Analogies gone awry

I can't fairly critique a study based on a newspaper story, but the example provided by the lead researcher to the New York Times suggests a badly flawed experiment. The so-called concrete example is not concrete at all. It doesn't engage the physical intuition of the subject at all. Instead, it requires a more complex decoding than the symbolic example. Furthermore, there is nothing at all mathematical in the example; it's a memory game.

If the rest of the testing was similar, this study does not have the meaning its authors and the Times have claimed for it.

This is not to say that I'm a fan of manipulatives beyond very early ages. I'm not. I just don't think this study, as I understand it, bears on them.

Update (9/5/2011): Added missing 'all'.

Outrages upon dignity

Again, as usual, we see the Bushists offer the thinnest tissue of lies to cover their crimes. The Third Geneva Convention doesn't ban aiming to outrage the dignity of prisoners. It bans actually performing "outrages upon personal dignity."

Saturday, April 26, 2008

No crime

It's hard to understand how there was no crime at all in the killing of Sean Bell.

If Bell or his friends had had a gun and had fired back, their plea of self-defense would have been laughed out of court. They would have had to claim that they couldn't identify as police the men shooting at them, but that claim would have been very credible.

WWF rules

No, not rulz.

John McCain promises four more years of all the same policies that have made Duhbya look so much like the boorish, disconnected, uncaring idiot that he obviously was as early as 2000.

  • Iraq? Let's stay indefinitely.
  • Iran and Syria? Nothing a few more invasions couldn't cure. Sunni, Shi'a - who cares? Wahhabi? Don't they serve that in Japanese restaurants?
  • Health care? The "free" market, which has never provided before will magically provide during a McCain administration - if we just take care of the insurance companies.
  • Environment? More toothless, voluntary, worthless industry proposals.
  • Progressive taxation? Used to be for it just a little, but now signed up for the orthodox Bushist position that taxes are for Leona Helmsley's little people (us).
  • Katrina? Tut tut, I'll come visit on the ground instead of flying over, but there's no actual money to help recovery.
  • Deficits? All the fat cats still get their contractual stipends, but cut all the programs that actually help people in need.
Yet, McCain is running even (sorry, no permalink) with either Democrat. Why, after 7 1/2 disastrous years of Bushist misrule would Americans choose four more?

First order, the only thing that matters in politics today is personality. McCain is a straight-shooter. Heh. Hillary is a power-besotted bitch, and Obama is a condescending elitist who can't even bowl a hundred. Oh, and he's not a loyal American.

These are the only "issues" that our thoroughly stupid (on average, only on average) press corps is capable of writing about. We pick our favorite wrestlers on their personalities, not to mention our favorite soap characters, our favorite NASCAR drivers, our favorite American idols.

Until we become less stupid, less easily led by the nose, we Americans will continue to choose thoughtless leaders whose promises, not just their hidden desires, run against our own interests and vision of America. Really, it's just pathetic.

Look in the mirror. Is it your fault?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Bad cop - good cop

McCain-Feingold is going to be one of those careful-what-you-wish-for reforms. As interpreted, it leaves lots of room for mischief from political allies, near and far.

The Swift Boat Liars were just the first shot in a new war. They were financed by ardent Texas Bushists, T. Boone Pickens, for example. This was no coincidence, of course. Nudge-nudge-wink-wink! Who needs a junkyard dog as vice president!

There's a new wrinkle. The Tennessee Republican Party issued a scurrilous press release. John McCain, noble bipartisan that he is, condemned it. The Tennessee GOP didn't back down, in fact reveled in the publicity.

Now, the North Carolina Republican Party is running a scurrilous ad (scroll to end). John McCain's crocodile tears and rending of garments continues, alas, to no avail. The NC GOP keeps running the ad and revels in the publicity. McCain gives us this pabulum:

"I can't dictate to them. But I want to be the candidate of everybody. I want to be the candidate of Republicans and Democrats and independents," he said Wednesday.
Look for this good cop/bad cop routine to go on over and over again.

No, by the way, I don't think McCain suckered Feingold and the rest of the Democrats into this fresh hell of 527s and local parties and non-coordinated coordination. He and the rest of the Republican apparat are just using the rules more cannily.

Update: Joe Conason has more (h/t digby).

Photo op straight talk


John McCain takes a stroll in New Orleans, no flak jacket or military escort required. Or so you'd think, though there are four soldiers in camo in this AP photo:
Now, years after it could have mattered, he blames government for its response. Years after it did matter, he defends his votes against the victims as pork prevention. On the campaign trail, he makes promises that next time will be different.

There's no reason to believe him.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

What we're up against

A couple of weeks ago, a guy I work with forwarded me an email. He's a smart guy, cynical even, but he believed what it said after removal of the zillion-point type:


Have been accused of spousal abuse

Have been arrested for fraud

Have been accused of writing bad checks

Have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least 2 businesses

Have done time for assault

71 Cannot get a credit card due to bad credit

Have been arrested on drug-related charges

Have been arrested for shoplifting

Are defendants in lawsuits, and

Have been arrested for drunk driving
In the last year

Can you guess which organization this is?

NBA or NFL? Give up yet? ... Scroll down.

ITS Neither,
it's the 535 members of the United States Congress.

Same group of Idiots that crank out hundreds of new laws each year
Designed to keep the rest of us in line.

Gotta pass this one on!


Doesn't that make you enjoy payng taxes?
I looked at this and immediately knew that, at the very least, large parts of it were bullshit. confirms.

It's not that I'm smarter than my correspondent. I'm just confident enough that if I haven't heard through the media of at least a handful of specific cases of, say, spousal abuse, it's impossible for there to have been thirty-six of them.

These scandals are the bread and butter of today's tabloid media. Unless they were all Republicans (say, I wonder...), Fox would be all over them.

Yet, as I think about the parlous state of American news-gathering, I have to wonder: Will my confidence continue to be justifiable? My confidence is threatened from both ends:
  • Source validation is a dying practice. After all, this urban bullshit sort of had a source. It's just that Capitol Hill Blue didn't have a real source. We live in the age of Matt Drudge, who as far as I know has only gotten one thing right and early in his whole life - Monica Lewinsky's blue dress.
  • The press doesn't much look at the world anymore, when there are catered press conferences to be had.
Count me as not looking forward to further idiocracy.

Update: One Congressman arrested for drunk driving, and it's national news.

Corporate immunity

The Bushist Republican Party: We prefer corporate immunity to equal pay for equal work. We would rather preserve the bullshit loophole that the Bushist Supreme Court created. We don't care about justice; that's for the little people.

It's really that simple, and in 2008 it ought to be a scandal that would swamp the GOP's election chances at every level.

John McCain, as usual when it counts, was right in line with his wealth-first Bushist allies, even if he didn't trouble himself to vote. (h/t mcjoan on Kos)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Unreported story

Republicans still aren't united behind their nominee. Pennsylvania Republicans dealt unopposed John McCain a blow by denying him more than a quarter of their votes.

Don't expect McCNN to notice. They're too busy with amateur colonoscopy.

Solid Clinton win

After a solid 10-point win in Pennsylvania, Hillary thinks she can still be the nominee by running the table. Obama retains almost all of his delegate lead, which appears insurmountable given the Democratic allocation rules. But he still needs to win somewhere to regain campaign momentum.

The superdelegates are going to have to choose, but they'll be back to choosing based on electability, and I suspect they won't choose Obama if he can't break through again somewhere, hence probably his quick departure for Indiana.

Only real bright spot for Obama: Voters saw the manufactured charges of elitism as bunk.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A poor craftsman

A reporter whose job bores him needs a new job.

I don't know about you, but when I'm bored, I start eating. That's why I'm worried about ruining my diet while covering the 2008 North American Leaders' Summit with President Bush and his counterparts from Canada and Mexico.


So this is what it's like to cover the president. Some days it's all popes and presidents. Other days it's just beignets and, yes, bread pudding.
One that's not catered.

Yeah, I'm just a humorless blogger who can't take a little self-deprecating levity. I'm serious all the time.

Ed, a small clue: We can see through your pose of self-deprecation to the sense of entitlement and your reveling in your proximity to greatness.

Snow in May

Tony Snow's first "analysis" is exactly as expected - partisan bullshit. CNN will not get a single unconventional or nonconservative point from this man, and they know it. He'll be a reliable conduit for Republican talking points. Ferchrissake, he "thinks" the economy is going to break in McCain's favor. Can't fault him on the break part, just not the sense he intended.

Again, use that mute button. Listening won't make you smarter or better informed - quite the contrary.

Keep the bullshit out of your ears!

They don't care

Could it be any more obvious?

Separately, the Government Accountability Office will release a report on Tuesday showing that the F.D.A. would need to spend at least $56 million more next year to begin full inspections of foreign plants. It would need to spend at least $15 million annually to inspect China’s drug plants every two years, which is the domestic standard.

Bush administration officials have acknowledged problems associated with poor inspection of overseas plants and have plans to improve the situation. But President Bush’s budget does not provide the F.D.A. with funds to hire more inspectors.

How many minutes in Iraq?
At its present inspection pace, the F.D.A. would need at least 27 years to inspect every foreign medical device plant that exports to the United States, 13 years to check every foreign drug plant and 1,900 years to examine every foreign food plant.

Follow the money

Out of the blue, way down at the bottom of this story about Hillary's dire financial straits is this paragraph:

The report also shows [John McCain] gave back nearly $3 million from donors for his general election campaign. This move could indicate he is setting the stage to receive public financing for his campaign — an option that will infuse the Arizona senator with $84 million.
Uh, knock, knock. CNN? This is a much bigger story, since Hill has $23 million banked for the general, in case she pulls a Rocky. (Aside: Oh, crap, I missed this in my prediction item. I'd bet hard money that Rocky is in Hill's victory speech.)

McCain taking public financing would be shocking. The only way he could possibly go up against the fundraising juggernaut that Obama is would be if the RNC and the 527s already have a plan in place to do non-coordination coordination. The plan would be:
  • Take the public money (since McCain's own fundraising is anemic by current standards)
  • Squelch the FEC issues, which would otherwise be perpetual since the FEC can't decide anything without the quorum it won't get
  • Call this a stand for conscience
  • Let others do the dirty work
  • Say "I approve this message" only for positives
Want to know whether this is the plan instead of my speculation? Watch what happens to the refunded contributions.

Polls close at 8:00

Pennsylvania predictions? I got nuthin', at least not about the results. Bill Schneider has predictions, one for each of three scenarios. Covers all the bases.

On process, though, there are some sure things:

  • Analysts will make statements in serious tones, but their claims will either be blindingly obvious or partisan cant that they pretend they're hiding.
  • Both camps will play expectations games. The only outcomes that can't be spun are over 60% for Hillary or a win by Obama.
  • The sanest way to get the results will be with the sound off on your TV.
Please, god, can we have something definitive? Another prayer that will probably remain unanswered, but at least the answer on this side is not John McCain.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Veto this!

The Supreme Court's ruling in Ledbetter v. Goodyear made the law an ass. Hide your violations for 6 months, and you're scot-free to continue them indefinitely.

“Never mind that Ms. Ledbetter didn’t know about the discrimination when it first began,” [Sen. Ted] Kennedy said. “Never mind that she had no means to learn of the discrimination because Goodyear kept salary information confidential. Never mind that Goodyear’s discrimination against Ms. Ledbetter continued each and every time it gave her a smaller paycheck than it gave her male colleagues.”
The Bushists, of course, raise the bogeyman of lawsuits, aaaah, the sky is falling! They couldn't care less whether justice is done so long as a corporation doesn't have to defend its discriminatory practices.

The real necessity is to get the Federalist Society SOBs off the federal bench.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Globalization follies

Let them eat ... ethanol.

Click image for full John Cole cartoon.

Joe Lieberman is soooo happy

Click image for link to full Mike Luckovich/Atlanta Journal-Constitution cartoon.

Office of military propaganda

Despite continually sniffing the air for bullshit, even I didn't have my bullshit detector turned up high enough. Sure, I was skeptical of uniformed military analysts, mostly just for their personal and institutional loyalties. I didn't expect to find bias consciously cultivated by the Pentagon through selection, access, and conflicts of interest.

By early 2002, detailed planning for a possible Iraq invasion was under way, yet an obstacle loomed. Many Americans, polls showed, were uneasy about invading a country with no clear connection to the Sept. 11 attacks. Pentagon and White House officials believed the military analysts could play a crucial role in helping overcome this resistance.

Torie Clarke, the former public relations executive who oversaw the Pentagon’s dealings with the analysts as assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, had come to her job with distinct ideas about achieving what she called “information dominance.” In a spin-saturated news culture, she argued, opinion is swayed most by voices perceived as authoritative and utterly independent.

So, they set out to create the perception, and goddamn the reality. They ran the government like a business, and that meant they needed referenceable accounts, no matter what sweeteners they needed to get those references.

At the Pentagon, members of Ms. [Torie] Clarke’s staff marveled at the way the analysts seamlessly incorporated material from talking points and briefings as if it was their own.

“You could see that they were messaging,” Mr. [Brent] Krueger said. “You could see they were taking verbatim what the secretary was saying or what the technical specialists were saying. And they were saying it over and over and over.” Some days, he added, “We were able to click on every single station and every one of our folks were up there delivering our message. You’d look at them and say, ‘This is working.’ ”

It seems as if the New York Times is finally asking how they got so snookered by the Bushist propaganda during the rush to war. It's a belated but good start.

Update: Fine phrasing at Whiskeyfire:
[I]f you want a war and know perfectly well you can't convince anyone that it's a good idea unless you're dishonest about it, you probably should rethink your belligerence.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

John McCain, kept man

Poor baby, only makes $400,000 on his own. Cindy has to pay all the really big bills.

Yeah, who cares? Other than Wolf Blitzer, trying to fake him as a man of the people?

Recklessly dishonest

Let's see, pick one thing out of a comment and hold it up to criticism. The McCain camp says that's "recklessly dishonest".

Where've they been the past couple of weeks? Lying?

The big difference is that Obama made a substantive criticism on a real issue, the economy, instead of telling us something stupid and patronizing, such as what brand of adult diapers McCain might prefer if he needed them.

A different kind of funny

Even conservative jokes don't make sense.

Click image for full idiotic, reality-free Bruce Tinsley cartoon from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Another elitist calls Obama elitist

Mitt Romney has enough money that he thought he could buy the common touch. Maybe he still does.

Not in a million ... years.

Listen my children

Two hundred thirty-three years ago tonight, Paul Revere, Samuel Prescott, William Dawes, and the nameless but patriotic other riders made a choice. They improvised, adapted, and overcame the British who wanted to seize the powder in Lexington and Concord. That powder would propel the shot heard 'round the world.

The patriots, true patriots, not blowhard posers wearing flag pins on their well-tailored lapels, were fighting the most powerful nation in the world, the nation they identified with, the nation whose blood ran in their veins. They had not yet pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. But they would. They were ready to govern themselves, to throw off the bogus pomp of monarchy.

They were willing to risk their own disgrace and death and bills of attainder for their families to achieve what we now have - and fritter away: liberty and self-government.

These words washed over me in childhood, became part of who I am today, and still bring loving tears to my eyes:

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
Those who think in this sophisticated time that Longfellow's poem is bad or overwrought, that his opening stanza is a limerick because of its rhyme scheme, should read it again. It remains a great, mythic poem, filled with brilliance and passion, despite its accessibility to a child such as I was when I begged my mother to read it to me again.
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison-bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.


The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.


And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadows brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket-ball.


For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beat of that steed,
And the midnight-message of Paul Revere.
And, today, I found myself bittersweet in Concord here in Massachusetts, the cradle of American liberty, crossing ground that the founders themselves crossed in a much wilder time. Our forebears accomplished so much in creating liberal democracy out of nothing but words and yearning, and we have let it slip through our fingers like the short-lived blooms of a crocus.

Who today would take the chance that they took to breathe life into a new world?

So they fixed it

The heck with mere rules! Rep. Don Young (R, what else?) and his staff changed the text of a law after the conference report passed both houses.

"It was an error," said Meredith Kenny, Young's spokeswoman. "It was originally supposed to say Coconut Road, so they fixed it."
Dunno, my copy of the Constitution doesn't say anything about the Chairman of the Transportation Committee having the power all by his lonesome to change the law.

What it actually says in Article I, section 1:
All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.
Nope, no power of law unto himself.

Art. I, sect. 7 says:
Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States...
Young's bill never passed; the lawfully passed bill was never presented to the President, which is not optional.

The formerly enforced Constitution also says (Art. I, sect. 5):
Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.
If arrogating this power is not disorderly, I have no idea what is. The only appropriate sanction for this abuse is expulsion, so a Senate investigation is useless, but there aren't enough honest Republicans left to get to two thirds, so any investigation at all is fine.

For more, see Documenting the tatters.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Bread and circus, hold the bread

Our press is competing to see what vapid, content-free bullshit controversy they can provoke.

Really, we're all back in seventh grade.

Update: The 60-something asshole responsible for this was once Laura Bush's press secretary! Cripes.

Reagan's heir

In 1980, Ronald Reagan promised three things:

  • Lower taxes
  • A balanced budget
  • Increased military spending
This was obvious bullshit from day one, but the media didn't care to notice about the last Teflon candidate.

In the end, we got one of them, increased military spending. Those early tax cuts had to be replaced because the deficit was so far out of control.

In 2008, John McCain promises three things:
  • Lower taxes
  • That "runaway Federal spending will end on my watch"
  • A hundred years in Iraq if ever - oh so hopefully - the killing stops, merely indefinitely if it doesn't
Take a guess at which one we'll get if we elect this pretender.

Of course, McCain's not as handsome as the Gipper, and he can't deliver a speech as well, but at least he's older.

Dialing for dollars

Yesterday, my caller ID says area code 602, and since I'm expected to hear from someone, I pick up the phone even though I have no idea where 602 is (Phoenix, by the way). A woman dialing for the RNC starts her spiel.

I just laugh out loud. She pauses. Restraining myself from profanity, I tell her that Duhbya has ruined the country terribly over the last seven years, that I hope someone can fix it, and that I wouldn't vote for any Republican.

Sotto voce, she says, "I'm hearing comments like yours a lot."

Then, for a wider boiler room audience, "We didn't know that you were no longer a Republican."

I didn't bother to tell her that, no matter what her computer might say, I've never been a Republican and I've never given a single cent to the RNC.

What I have done is sent their business reply envelopes back stuffed with their pleas to further screw up the country. I guess I won't be getting those any more.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Smogging up the picture

Global warming? Duhbya was for it before he was against it.

Of course, this "plan" he's promising to come out with after all this time is just another vague Republican plan to avoid actually having a plan, and 2025 is laughably way too late. They'll be saying then, in the words of Sgt. Apone:

"Whatever happened here, I think we missed it."

It's funny to watch conservatives, who claim to love markets, pitch and yaw against cap-and-trade, which applies market mechanisms to pollution control. They don't really love markets; they love staying in control.

Image in the public domain.

Blogrolling - the Inverse Square

Since Pharyngula is a pretty big pond well-filled with capable science sharks, I had hoped - and still hope - to reenter the science conversation via my friend Tom Levenson's science writing blog, the Inverse Square. Little did I know that I would also reenter the poetry conversation, too, but I'm charmed by today's item, among others.

For as long as I've known him, which at this point is a long damn time, Tom has had a gift for quotation and a mindfulness of deft phrasing. Like his son now following after him, he had committed favorite phrases to memory at a time when that was not stylish. These pursuits are handed down in families, which helped us recognize each other as kin when we met. His spelling may be spotty, and his handwriting is so bad that there are probably fewer than a handful of his many friends in the whole world who can actually read it.

Still, all the fine language washing over him - since birth I'm sure - echo in and polish his own vivid essays as they pin down the ephemeral world in lasting images, and that is what good writing is about.

Besides all that, it's some pretty good wit and wisdom, eh, Tom?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Watching the watchers

This story is almost funny in the pettiness of its surveillance, when video cameras are all around us.

The funniest paragraph is this quote from Thomas Karns, the detective:

"I told her I wanted to know who she was and why she was taking my photograph," he wrote.
Uh, she was someone who wanted to know who he was and why he was taking her photograph! His retreat suggests that he knew he was over the line and didn't want to get caught. Instead, he wound up arresting her and a friend and outing himself.

It's clear that Lisa Nieves and Patrick Keaney have some experience with protest. Even if you wouldn't protest in support of Palestinians in Gaza (Hamas, too?), you should take as a firm lesson that any protest or civil disobedience should always be prepared to photograph the response of the authorities, as they were. Most of the time, that response will be comparatively minor like this. Most of the time, the authorities don't even want the theatrical conflict that protesters plan in order to get media attention.

Debt crisis, not subprime

Unregulated mortgage markets cause housing price bubble, which inevitably bursts. Poorer homeowners tighten their spending. Sources of credit can't or won't ease retail through hard times. Stores go belly up, putting more people out of work. Like a spreading illness or a power outage, safety measures that are too weak and too late fail.

Not good.

The picture of retail's financing is interesting and something I didn't know. Sounds a lot like farming.

Monday, April 14, 2008

War of sound-bytes

John Kerry remains for me a frustrating politician. Despite a lifetime in politics, he often reaches uncomfortably for oratory and nearly every time goes off the rails.

In his speech yesterday morning in Hudson, he told the story of a recent emergency helicopter landing in an unsecured LZ in Afghanistan. The rhetorical purpose was to introduce a self-deprecating joke about the phrase he would be remembered by had the chopper gone down:

Don't tase me, bro!
It's not even his line, of course. And he spoiled the helicopter story by painting the accompanying military officer as so nervous he launched into his briefing, which implicitly contrasted with his calm. Though he would have been a much better President than a second term for Duhbya, this captured some of his flaws as a candidate.

The painful truth is that Kerry's epigram would be:
I actually voted for it before I voted against it.
I suppose that's too bitter a memory even for self-deprecation. Reaching back to past glory, there would also be:
How do ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?
In those days, Kerry spoke frankly, and that hurt him to some degree thirty years later in 2004. He had to lose to Duhbya to become frank again - to escape the myth of collegiality with the Republicans - but frankness is not his nature either.

The oddest thing is that the man can actually ad lib. There was an old poster of the gubernatorial ticket of Mike Dukakis and Kerry from 1978, and Kerry extemporized a funny story about how the photographer made Dukakis look bigger than Kerry, despite the very different reality.

So, in spite of my frustrations with him, I still sympathize with Kerry. On my way into Hudson, I saw a bumper sticker on a street sign:
United we stood. Bush divided us.
I hope Kerry saw it on the way to the event we both attended. He could use the validation - and the lesson in rhetorical simplicity.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sunday comics - no politics

Click images for their full cartoons from Scott Adams, Berkeley Breathed, and Darby Conley in the Washington Post or at

It's not the information age

The real problem is not that there's a blizzard of information. Instead, there's a deluge of bullshit in the guise of information. Trying to get food for thought out of that torrent is the hard task.

What is real is too boring; even reporters want to tell us what it means. Today's story is too late; they want to guess what tomorrow's will be. What happened? Who cares! We don't even want to try to read the shadows on the cave wall anymore.

Pundits pick out whatever suits their favored narratives and leap to conclusions about all the rest. All the better if the RNC's blast faxes reinforce the stupidity. Ecstasy if Hillary's public statements about Obama also reinforce the new conventional wisdom.

The pundits face no consequences when they're wrong, not even the requirement that they admit it. Not even the requirement to stop saying well-worn, thoroughly debunked bullshit.

Practically everyone in the normal world has turned their bullshit detectors off or else burned them out listening to the shouting of "Jane you ignorant slut" in a thousand voices. They've found that no matter what ugly prejudice they choose to believe, someone somewhere will defend their point of view as if it really makes sense and will flattering them while doing it.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Bitter truth

It's no accident that the elite media is combining with the elite candidates to tar the one non-elite candidate with the brush of elitism. It's the Rovian method.

Obama's in trouble over something he said, and the trouble doesn't have even the slightest bit of logic. He spoke the truth to his California contributors:

But the truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there's not evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
Working class voters, in and out of Pennsylvania, who for some reason have gravitated to Hillary, are suffering. Read the income stats; they prove it. Yet, the Clinton campaign and the McCain campaign have jumped on any acknowledgement of this as elitist and condescending.

Huh? The millionaires in the race are telling us that it's condescending to express sympathy for the exact people that the consensus of late 20th century economic elites - including both of them - has beggared and left unrepresented.

A McCain spokesman, Tucker Bounds, makes this bullshit claim:
Barack Obama thinks he knows your hopes and fears better than you do. You can't be more out of touch than that.
No? How about not knowing their hopes and fears at all?

Hillary claimed that Pennsylvanians are persevering, as if Obama had said anything to the contrary. She calls his remarks "demeaning". Uh, how? Does she believe that it's wrong to identify people who need help? That it's condescending? That it's demeaning?

It's bullshit, intended to cripple the Democrats' effort, started by John Edwards, to recapture their natural class-based constituency. It's another thing that Hillary has done that's bad for whoever the Democratic nominee eventually is.

Journalism tip

I've liked the work of Matthew Wald in the New York Times on the FAA/Southwest airplane inspection scandal, but this should never have appeared in today's story (my emphasis):

One senior executive at another airline, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the agency’s new stance reflects the new tone in aviation safety.

“In the past, you wouldn’t have grounded the whole fleet,” the executive said. “There’s a question of what’s rational and what’s not.”

You want this quote in this story, you have to stand by it. I suspect that it violates the Times's policy on anonymous quotes, too.

He doesn't care what we think

"I don't care too much for love. Love can't buy me money."

If I'm a lunatic because I never approved of Duhbya, so be it. It's not that he didn't rally the country well in the fall of 2001. It's that I could tell his motivation was his own political gain, not the welfare of his subjects.

At least most of the rest of the country has joined me.

Writing checks with his mouth

I misdiagnosed Duhbya's duplicity about 12-month tours of duty. I jumped to the conclusion that it was fuzzy math, a reasonable conclusion based on past experience but nonetheless wrong.

In fact, Duhbya's new policy only takes effect for deployments that start after August 1. That means, like the spoiled rich brat he is, he promises that someone else will be responsible for his PR stunt.

Of course, the real math still holds, and the troops are still screwed. In July 2009, if those tours get extended among much deserved grumbling, I'll remember who's responsible, but I'm sure Wolf Blitzer and the rest of the media will have forgotten by then. In fact, he has already written a complimentary piece that's a big butt-smooch to the White House, something so sweetly stupid that it carries the headline, "Blitzer: Standing by the troops".

Seriously, can anyone in TV think more than thirty minutes ahead?

Friday, April 11, 2008

David Vitter watch, day 273 (or so)

Vitter's (imaginary) testimony:

"Sen. Vitter, is it true that you possess a penis?" asked prosecutor Daniel Butler.

"Yes, though my wife did make some threats."

"No vagina in your other pair of pants?"

"Mr. Butler!" remonstrated Judge James Robertson.

"I apologize for my co-counsel, your honor," said Catherine Connelly. "We have no further questions for this witness. There is a 63-year-old woman I need to ask about her menses."

"Sen. Vitter, you're excused."

"Thank you for your discretion, your honor."

There's a reason what we're getting is called 'titillation'. Women have 'em.

That's not power, Ray, that's a piece of paper

The FAA says it's "data-driven", but when all you look at all day is airline-generated paper instead of looking at metal, wiring, rubber, electronics, and fuel, the first piece of real data you're likely to get is a blip vanishing off radar. Out of sight, out of mind is exactly what inspections are supposed to prevent.

When you think of how many thousands of daily flights there are, 99% compliance is pretty slipshod. It means thousands of inadequately inspected planes have been flying every year. Thousands. With hundreds of thousands of actual people on board.

Yes, I've been one of those at-risk passengers. Without even venturing onto a third world airline.

Screw the troops

Duhbya is still pretending Petraeus is in charge of keeping troop levels escalated, Gates is saying that he's going to shorten tours of duty, and the Joint Chiefs want more boots in Afghanistan.

The numbers don't add up. Hey, this is Bushworld, after all, where all the math is fuzzy, and all the accountability falls low in the social classes.

But something will subtract down, and that'll wind up being the time between tours.

"Hi, hon. Nice to see you kids. Mom, Dad, I wish I could've been here when you were in the hospital. Sorry, hon, gotta go back over there. Connecting on Southwest. Love you all."

In the words of John Prine, your flag decal won't get you into heaven any more.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Be ready

The wingnuts will be claiming that a Jim Jones follower has been elected to Congress as a Democrat, when in fact Jackie Speier was investigating the cult with Rep. Leo Ryan in Jonestown, when he was murdered at the beginning of the massacre.

My stomach can't take searching Wingnut-world for this, but I'm confident it'll happen.

McCNN - Fox with a human face

In the be careful what I ask for department, CNN is back to amateur colonoscopy of John McCain. The headlines today:

Really, CNN must like the taste of McCain's backside to kiss it so thoroughly.


The media used to try to stay out of the gutter - until they became desperate for more attention. Now, every college kid Beavis or Butthead wants to know what Chelsea visualized about Monica and when. And the media wants to give us those ugly mental pictures every chance they get.

"I really think it has gotten to the point where it is the attention thing," said [Amanda] Morris, a sophomore from Kokomo, Indiana. "At first, maybe that student really wanted to know what she thought about it. But by now it's 'Oh, that person got attention for it, I'm going to keep asking."'
That's really it. It's infantile.

Don't expect it to end. What our tabloid media would really love is for the Clinton family to come apart at the seams in public, strictly for our prurient interest.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Roads and bridges

Massachusetts's roads and bridges are always in terrible shape this time of year. Maybe I could even drop "this time of year", but it's worse at the end of winter, when driving without hitting every teeth-rattling pothole is an improvised slalom. Keeps us on our toes.

Bridge repair has some great advantages in politics. Unlike, say, health care, it's tangible to everyone. It's well-distributed, so everyone gets a piece of it. Hardly anyone except for the looniest libertarian wants to go back to privately owned roads, so even if the tightwads grouse about featherbedding at the Turnpike Authority, they still agree that we need roads that aren't pounded back into gravel and sand.

I'd like to see Deval Patrick take his show on the road. Never mind that this will probably pass the General Court (the anachronistic name of our legislature). He needs to recoup some political capital from the casino debacle (and I was on the fence about that). I'd like to see media events all over the Commonwealth, on or near some of the bridges he's proposing to fix.

Then, I'd like to see him start selling us in detail what we're already buying. It's tax time. It's far too easy to complain about the bill if you don't know what you're buying. And most people don't have any idea.

Whose interests are served?

It's not always right to nail a corporation's balls to the wall, but you can count on Bushists and other Republicans to handle corporate scrotums with much greater solicitude than they would ever extend to you and me. A deferred prosecution agreement can be pretty onerous - I work for a corporation that recently came out the other end of one - but it's not something that you or I will ever get.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Guarding Darth

Cheney should continue to have Federal protection...

... preferably in solitary in Leavenworth, not Danbury - but also not in Guantánamo. For life, not just for six months.

I don't think war criminals should be allowed to communicate with each other, so all his Bushist torture buddies will have to be in solitary, too.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Testify, brother!

David Vitter's nightmare: He's on the stand, trying not to say anything interesting enough to make the evening news, when he realizes he's not wearing any clothes and the hooker from the Big Easy that he called by his wife's name is on her knees in front of him. Oh, God! The sin...

And Eliot Spitzer comes running in with his checkbook open...

Day late, a few million short

Mark Penn is finally gone, way too late to do Hillary any good with labor.

Would you buy a used campaign from this man?

Only if you can get some guarantees from the Fed...

Oil, food, electricity

In a terse economic analysis, Paul Krugman leaves out the emotional impact of starvation in discussing food supply. He also talks about the broad economic forces that are no one's fault. But this rang a bell:

Governments and private grain dealers used to hold large inventories in normal times, just in case a bad harvest created a sudden shortage. Over the years, however, these precautionary inventories were allowed to shrink, mainly because everyone came to believe that countries suffering crop failures could always import the food they needed.
The same thing happened with oil supplies. Costs money to store the stuff, so use tankers as if they were your tank farm.

Enron and others manipulated the California deregulation to constrict supply, too, and we know what the result was.

The people who run the companies with market power in all these markets for products with inelastic (and growing) demand love price volatility. Because demand for these commodities is pretty close to fixed, low supply brings big price spikes and obscene profits. If Enron had had a few more Californias, it would still be doing its evil and rolling in dough. The oil companies are sucking up huge profits from all our wallets. People in the third world are having trouble affording enough to eat.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Talking the talk

Bullshitting the walk.

Click image for full Garry Trudeau cartoon.

First draft of hysteria

Click image for full John Cole/Scranton Times-Tribune cartoon.

Stop me, I dare you!

It's good to be king.

For full Mike Luckovich cartoon, click image.

God in the public schools?

The people who think the public schools should indoctrinate children in whatever the local majority believes about God (as long as it's Christian, of course), may think that allowing public schools to teach about the Bible is a huge victory. You'll find some of them in the comments at the link. They should read the story again.

What the ruling says is that public schools teachers can teach about the impact of the Bible and Christianity on literature, history, and civilization. It doesn't say that a teacher can turn a class into Bible studies and preach the Word, as he or she understands it.

I'd go one better and say (as an atheist) that you can't possibly do justice to Western civilization without addressing the impact of Christianity. And you can't do that without reference to the various incarnations of the Bible.

The fundamentalists will be sorely disappointed, however. The King James Version has to be studied for its effects on literature, but its liberties with translation and the mistakes of its translators have to be taught, too. Oops, so much for Bible literalism (which was never a coherent doctrine anyway). But, since this won't be in biology class, at least they'll get a context in which discussion of Genesis is legitimate.

The teachers will need to discuss the history of Jesus's teachings, too. Much of what he thought and taught was not original but derived from the teachings of ascetic Jewish sects such as the Essenes.

Then, there's the whole history of what we now call the Bible - the writing long after the death of Jesus, the determination (by bureaucracy!) of the canon much, much later. That whole history is very muddy (see The DaVinci Code as well as more serious work) and pounds another nail into the coffin of inerrancy.

So, the people who want to put God into the public schools will be disappointed. By opening the Bible up to literary and historical scrutiny, they may encourage a worse outcome - in their view - than in not teaching about it at all. They're not looking for analysis and skepticism; they want belief.

Once the law passes (and it will), there no doubt will be zealots who tread waaay over the line into (Protestant) catechism. They'll be called to witness to their students. In most places, they'll be corrected by the administration, and that's as far as it will go, but some folks will take it further (was it Union Co. that was releasing its kids to Baptist revivals?), and then the ACLU will have to sue.

But the existing law and the new bill as interpreted are right and good. You can and should be able to teach about religion in the public schools. You just shouldn't be able to inculcate religion in the public schools. That job is for parents if they wish and their houses of worship. To take it away from them would be an establishment of religion prohibited by the First Amendment.

Originally posted on TennViews.

I am a little uncomfortable with scoffers purporting to teach the Bible in public schools, so I would have been reticent to support this legislation, but various of your remarks are over the top.

I think you want to bring Sunday school to the weekday. That's an establishment of religion and unconstitutional. You cannot qualify who may teach about the Bible by their beliefs, so I would suggest you contact your representatives in opposition to this bill. Hang on for a theocracy or at least the repeal of the First Amendment establishment clause.

It's no big deal that Jesus' teachings were reflective or incorporated older Jewish teachings

Not older. Contemporaneous with Jesus. If he adopted his message from someone else, which he did, it's hard to believe that he was the messiah.

The concept of Biblical Literalism doesn't hinge on an English translation of the Biblical texts.

I haven't seen the concept in action, but I've seen the reality. As most literalists understand it, what they read in the English Bible, usually a derivative of the KJV, is the inerrant word, no matter what scholars (who are believers, too) have learned about errors in translation.

And the Bible fares pretty well on the "written long after the events" criticism when compared to any other ancient text.

Nonsense. We have lots of books older than the New Testament. Many of them were written contemporaneously with the events they report. Many of them were not assembled by a committee, either.

there is more substance there than you seem to think there is.

I think there's quite a lot of substance in the Bible, almost all of it in the Christian New Testament. Ironically, many fundamentalist Christians love and fear the vicious and punitive God of the Old Testament, while Jews have learned a much more just and forgiving way of thinking about God. (In fairness, I don't know any fundamentalist Jews, and they do exist.)

In any case, our culture is filled with the influence of Christianity and the Bible, and that needs to be taught to anyone who hopes to understand the world. But to teach students in a public school setting that Christ was divine and his teachings are the one true religion would be rightly illegal.

You think wrong.

So the devout have been telling me for nearly 40 years! Maybe you should tell me how you want the Bible taught in public school, though I think my interpretation was fair, given your objection to "scoffers". It certainly sounds as though you wish the Bible taught only by believers, but let me know, as I could be mistaken.

List the ancient historical documents that are more historically reliable than the Bible.

How is the Bible historically reliable? Its prehistory in Genesis is myth and poetry. The Bible does record some events that are confirmed at least in outline by other sources, and the places it records are real places. But there's lots in it for which it is the sole source.

Many writings of the Greeks, the early Romans, the Persians, the Chinese, and the Indians predate the New Testament, and many of these predate even the Hebrew Bible as a written work. A list of works at least as historically reliable as the Christian Bible would be pretty long. Even the Iliad would be on it, despite its obvious bias, as well as the early Hindu scriptures, though they probably have parts too that are even more fantastic than the miracles of the Christian Bible. You know, the stuff like Revelation. Even Herodotus could make the list, and he was sort of a blogger 2500 years ago, writing down what others told him and passing judgement on their veracity, which sounds a lot like the process that gave rise to the Bible.

For more reliable than the Bible, "The History of the Peloponnesian War" is a good place to start. Pliny wrote about Pompeii about the time parts of the Bible were written down from the oral tradition, and he's pretty reliable. I'd guess, though I'm not sure, that there's work in Confucius that's more historically reliable than the Bible, too, just in a very different part of the world. I'd be very surprised not to find other works in Asia. If you want astronomical reliability, the Maya can give you that, though they wrote in stone.

Were the Essenes teaching that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God? The Savior of the World? The Messiah? God made man? Sinless?

The Essenes were waiting for a Messiah to come as savior, as promised in Jewish prophecy. But, no, they didn't prophesy the Last Supper.

Did Jesus really teach that he was the messiah? Or did his followers, especially Paul, add that in after the fact? With a few textual adjustments, you could cast Jesus as calling his followers to be themselves sons and daughters of God on a par with him (not that I do).

Hence however my interest in the adoption of the canon by the ecclesiastical bureaucracy. The more you poke around in what's canonical, deuterocanonical, or apocryphal and to whom, not to mention all the other works that call themselves gospels, prophecies, or at least scripture, the more you have to ask, why is this the Bible?

Health care for insurance companies

That's what John McCain offers. Faced with the choice between protecting corporations and protecting people, McCain is an orthodox Republican and protects corporations.

And the international evidence on health care costs is overwhelming: the United States has the most privatized system, with the most market competition — and it also has by far the highest health care costs in the world.
Let's be clear: Unregulated markets allocate goods and services to available dollars (or euros, etc.). We regulate some markets so that they will allocate goods and services to people, even if those people don't have dollars. Free markets fundamentally cannot provide universal health care. By definition, they don't even try.

McCain doesn't even really have a plan, just some hoary and useless old conservative maxims. After all, the only way to lower costs for the rich and healthy is to stop healing the poor and sick.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

AUMF means All U MFs shut up

We're the Bushists. We have the power to do any goddamn thing we want.

The Bush administration argued yesterday that when Congress authorized military action against the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists, it also gave the president the power to detain people who never took up arms against the United States.


The Justice Department acknowledges that Parhat never fought against the United States and says it has no evidence he planned to do so. Yet government lawyers contend he can be held under the law authorizing military force against anyone who "planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks" of 2001.
With these Orwellians in power, not only is the Constitution no longer in force, but the damn English dictionary is history, too.

Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.

Dear conservatives: No cause for worry

MoveOn sends this missive:

10 things you should know about John McCain (but probably don't):

1. John McCain voted against establishing a national holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Now he says his position has "evolved," yet he's continued to oppose key civil rights laws.[1]

2. According to Bloomberg News, McCain is more hawkish than Bush on Iraq, Russia and China. Conservative columnist Pat Buchanan says McCain "will make Cheney look like Gandhi."[2]

3. His reputation is built on his opposition to torture, but McCain voted against a bill to ban waterboarding, and then applauded President Bush for vetoing that ban.[3]

4. McCain opposes a woman's right to choose. He said, "I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned."[4]

5. The Children's Defense Fund rated McCain as the worst senator in Congress for children. He voted against the children's health care bill last year, then defended Bush's veto of the bill.[5]

6. He's one of the richest people in a Senate filled with millionaires. The Associated Press reports he and his wife own at least eight homes! Yet McCain says the solution to the housing crisis is for people facing foreclosure to get a "second job" and skip their vacations.[6]

7. Many of McCain's fellow Republican senators say he's too reckless to be commander in chief. One Republican senator said: "The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine. He's erratic. He's hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me."[7]

8. McCain talks a lot about taking on special interests, but his campaign manager and top advisers are actually lobbyists. The government watchdog group Public Citizen says McCain has 59 lobbyists raising money for his campaign, more than any of the other presidential candidates.[8]

9. McCain has sought closer ties to the extreme religious right in recent years. The pastor McCain calls his "spiritual guide," Rod Parsley, believes America's founding mission is to destroy Islam, which he calls a "false religion." McCain sought the political support of right-wing preacher John Hagee, who believes Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for gay rights and called the Catholic Church "the Antichrist" and a "false cult."[9]

10. He positions himself as pro-environment, but he scored a 0—yes, zero—from the League of Conservation Voters last year.[10]

John McCain is not who the Washington press corps make him out to be.
Here are the footnotes:
1. "The Complicated History of John McCain and MLK Day," ABC News, April 3, 2008

"McCain Facts,", April 4, 2008

2. "McCain More Hawkish Than Bush on Russia, China, Iraq," Bloomberg News, March 12, 2008

"Buchanan: John McCain 'Will Make Cheney Look Like Gandhi,'" ThinkProgress, February 6, 2008

3. "McCain Sides With Bush On Torture Again, Supports Veto Of Anti-Waterboarding Bill," ThinkProgress, February 20, 2008

4. "McCain says Roe v. Wade should be overturned," MSNBC, February 18, 2007

5. "2007 Children's Defense Fund Action Council® Nonpartisan Congressional Scorecard," February 2008

"McCain: Bush right to veto kids health insurance expansion," CNN, October 3, 2007

6. "Beer Executive Could Be Next First Lady," Associated Press, April 3, 2008

"McCain Says Bank Bailout Should End `Systemic Risk,'" Bloomberg News, March 25, 2008

7. "Will McCain's Temper Be a Liability?," Associated Press, February 16, 2008

"Famed McCain temper is tamed," Boston Globe, January 27, 2008

8. "Black Claims McCain's Campaign Is Above Lobbyist Influence: 'I Don't Know What The Criticism Is,'" ThinkProgress, April 2, 2008

"McCain's Lobbyist Friends Rally 'Round Their Man," ABC News, January 29, 2008

9. "McCain's Spiritual Guide: Destroy Islam," Mother Jones Magazine, March 12, 2008

"Will McCain Specifically 'Repudiate' Hagee's Anti-Gay Comments?," ThinkProgress, March 12, 2008

"McCain 'Very Honored' By Support Of Pastor Preaching 'End-Time Confrontation With Iran,'" ThinkProgress, February 28, 2008

10. "John McCain Gets a Zero Rating for His Environmental Record," Sierra Club, February 28, 2008
Liberals? Yeah, we should worry.

August in April

The CNN front page has had the same Politics headlines for three or four days. I realize the jockeys aren't in their silks and up on their mounts at the moment, but wouldn't that be a good time to, I don't know, drill into the candidates' substance?

Update: Still true on April 7.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Long way since Harry Truman

Leon Panetta means this in a good way:

We've come a long way from Harry Truman
I don't begrudge the Clintons their book deals, but this degree of cashing in is not a good thing. Sort of blunts the whole public service angle.

Whores of mammon

John McCain's buddy and endorser Rev. John Hagee is quite a piece of work. It's hard to say which one here is the john. They're both getting gratified.

The one great question: Why is the media not interested in the story of a preacher who wants to be involved in foreign policy in order to bring about the end of the world at Armageddon?

The sickness of American fundamentalist Christianity is nowhere more visible than here. The sickness of our large class of media whores, too.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Can't regulate safety!

Always remember, Republicans don't believe in regulations, even the ones that could save your life. They believe in the market, the holy market, from whom all blessings flow - and it keeps the pipeline for funeral services good and full, too.

Look, lots of countries don't regulate their airlines. They are called third world countries, and their planes fall out of the sky far more often than ours. That's where the Republicans want us to be, too.

Why Americans stand for it is the real puzzle.

Update: Here's a big piece of the puzzle. It's the stupidity, stupid! Bill comments at CNN:

I fly Southwest often and this is pretty disturbing. On the other hand, it is pretty typical of what to expect from a government program. All government is good at is wasting tax dollars. It's been that way for at least 50 years. Time for less government and not more!!!
In this story, lowly government employees found a problem in the private sector and got attention for it despite the anti-regulation political leanings of the current Republican administration. And the problem is ... government!

If this guy died in a plane crash caused by illegal shoddy and deferred maintenance, he'd still be blaming the government and not Southwest.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

No fear

Obama is not afraid that strong people will outshine him. Good thing, too, because he's going to need Al Gore for more than just global warming.

Obama is not highly experienced in the ways of Washington, and those ways are tribal, insular, and devastating to outsiders who try to offer something different. In fact, though his relative lack of the taint of Washington attractive, too, I really want for him to avoid the fate that Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton both faced - the hostility of permanent Washington as exemplified by David Broder dishing to Sally Quinn, "He came in here, and he trashed the place, and it's not his place."

So, it's very good news to me to hear that Obama knows he can't be a one-man show. He may be getting some chagrined advice from Gov. Deval Patrick about trying to break into a tribal, insular political society that would really rather not be disturbed.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Could CNN get any farther up McCain's ass?

Seriously, what a lot of pablum about John McCain's high school days! One thing missing: McCain graduated more that fifty years ago. Elvis Presley hadn't even been on the radio yet! And Elvis Costello hadn't even been born!

It's no wonder the story is unsigned. It's a press release that no self-respecting journalist would put a byline on.

Update: Welcome to those of you who found me through Sphere aggregation on CNN, which I comment on quite a bit.

While you're here, you might want to take a look at a couple of on-going themes:

Good to have you here!

Stopped clock

Proverbially right twice a day, but Richard Cohen is an idiot even when he's right.

He doesn't reckon with any of the bullshit use of WWII in support of the misadventure into Iraq; he simply repeats it without assigning any blame for the conscious use of the example of the 1930s as lies to sell shallow thinkers like Cohen on the war.

Hardly anyone in mainstream American politics took a pacifist view after Sept. 11. I can't think of anyone in Congress who opposed going into Afghanistan, though there may have been one or two. Yet a pacifist is Cohen's straw man, and the popularity of his book is supposed to prove that.

Cohen has no idea what to think or write about the world. He just muddles a bunch of talking points together and calls it a column. And his editors help out by attaching a photo of Ann Frank.

Image used under CCA ShareAlike 2.5 as licensed here.

It isn't?

In a story titled "Inside the Black Budget":

Skulls. Black cats. A naked woman riding a killer whale. Grim reapers. Snakes. Swords. Occult symbols. A wizard with a staff that shoots lightning bolts. Moons. Stars. A dragon holding the Earth in its claws.

No, this is not the fantasy world of a 12-year-old boy.
Semper en obscuris, as one of the patches says, there's got to be an April Fool's joke in there somewhere.

The first evasion

I find myself thinking back to Periclean days of 2000, when so much of what has happened since could have been avoided. That would have taken a more perceptive electorate better informed by a press that actually cared to inform its audience. Instead, the media chose to sell politics as a chance to revisit middle school, but it was still theoretically possible that this disastrous administration could have been prevented.

The press corps' behavior these days is probably the touchstone of memory. Odor is a goad to recall, and the media's current stench arises from their swooning, Elisabeth Bumiller admiration of John McCain, here playing the role of the eighth grade boy who wears Budweiser T-shirts and QBs the football team. The press loves the stupids. It just can't help wanting to be cool instead of smart.

Ah, to remember the past might be not to repeat its errors. What an optimist I turn out to be even now. But I digress.

Imagine Gov. Duhbya in 2000, safely ensconced in the role of Republican Presidential nominee, by which of course I mean figurehead for the shadowy permanent Republican apparatus, filled as it is with once and future felons, some pardoned, others off on technicalities. Darth Cheney is happily lining his pockets at Halliburton, though due to some poor acquisitions and the lack of an active war, he isn't lining the pockets of his shareholders.

Duhbya has a problem that he can't solve by himself - no surprise, since he has never really solved any problem by himself.

"Mr. Cheney," he says, "Turdblossom recommended you as someone who could help me out."

"Yes, Governor, I am fully capable of exercising any power. Uh, that you might bestow upon me."

"I need a veep, see. Ol' Turdy says I need someone who knows his way around Washington, some guy who can get things done on the Hill. Why's Hillary so important that she has to get things done on her? Rove didn't tell me that."

"Capitol Hill, sir."

"Capital punishment Hill? I'd rather sign a capital punishment Bill, if you know what I mean."

"Never mind."

"Anyhoo, Karl wants someone who's a strong conservative, but it can't be someone who scares the bejeezus out of independents, so I can't put James Inhofe on the list. For some reason, Karl wants someone who looks like a moderate, all the while he talks about being a conservative. A course, the Christers have to love the guy."

"Mm-hm, Governor, anything else?"

"Number one, my veep has got to be committed to eliminating taxes on entre--businessmen."

"We are looking for a Republican, aren't we, sir?"

"Damn right."

"So we're pretty safe on lifting the tax burdens of our big contributors."

"Great, Dick, that's one down. Karl said you were a problem-solver."

"What else can I do for you?"

"I want you to be in charge of finding a good veep for me."

"Thank you, sir. I'd be delighted to identify some options for you. Any other criteria?"

"Cry what?"

"What other qualifications should your vice president have?"

"Gotta be for a strong executive while Republicans have the White House, which oughta be permanent. Also gotta be avnucular."


"Whatever you say. Got any ideas?"

Darth thinks, Rove set this up perfectly. I'm obviously the guy. I'll give Duh--Gov. Bush a couple of other options and point out their flaws, and Rove and I will both get what we want.

"Sir, I look forward to serving you. I'll get back to you in a week."

We all know the story. Darth put himself forward, probably posing as a reluctant last resort.

There was only one problem: Both of them resided in Texas, and there's that pesky Twelfth Amendment, which opens:

The Electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves...
This was going to be close even with the press all over Al Gore like cow patties in a cow pasture. Duhbya and Darth would surely both need Texas's electoral votes. So, after the two of them announced their selection, Darth boarded a plane to Wyoming to "establish residency" there for the transparent reason that they already needed to subvert the Constitution, even before the election.

Hardly anyone in the punditocracy deigned to notice that this was unmitigated bullshit. After all, how important is the Constitution compared to compassionate conservatism?

See "Documenting the tatters" for more about the Bushist destruction of the former Constitution.