Thursday, July 31, 2008

Filler

If you're going to write for the public, shouldn't you at least believe what you write?

Joe Biden? What tactical need would he fill?

He would make Beltway journalists like Joe Klein happy - no new personality to learn.

Of course, after the zillion veep stories from McCain, at least this puts Obama's name into pixels.

Running out the clock

A judge rules:

[T]he White House position "is without any support in case law," Judge John D. Bates wrote.
John Boehner replies:
"I'm sure it'll be appealed and it'll go on into next year and it'll become a moot issue."
In other words, the Bushists are above the law and just want to run out the clock on their slow motion coup d'etat.

The next Congress must reissue these subpoenas when there's a Justice Department worthy of the name to see that they are enforced.

New gold standard in attack politics

The McCain campaign has proven a new tactic to blunt the popular impact of an opponent's overseas trip: Barrage the opponent with attacks from every angle.

You can bet that the Republican minority will do this, albeit more subtly, when President Obama takes his first official trip abroad. It worked! Who cares about tradition? Not the so-called conservatives. If the Constitution hasn't stood in the way, mere custom surely won't.

Remember always, with the Republicans, there's only one thing that matters above all. Truth? You're kidding! Security? Nope. The budget deficit and small government? Don't make me laugh. A 1950s social environment? Only the appearance of it.

What matters to Republicans is power and with it the ability to enrich their friends and to reduce their friends' taxes.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Truth comes out

Dana Milbank makes the mistake of believing his own paper's reporting. What he reveals is that the Washington press corps is oh-so-tired of trying to keep up with Obama's full schedule. And some of the vain and fickle reporters are starting to not like the work. Poor babies.

Oh christ!

This visual artifact, a combination of random natural variegation of kitten fur and aliasing from a digital camera, is a message from God on high. Why doesn't this kind of obvious nonsense make other people question their beliefs? D'ya think that Genesis story could be myth after all? Nah, of course not. Someone once found a fallen leaf that looked like Noah's ark.

There's so much desire to believe something floating around the world that it has to land somewhere. I just find it odd that unthinking religious people like the ones who found this "face" use their unfounded belief to guide their reason, rather than the other way around. They believe because they want to believe, not because the world matches their belief. They use their brains to manufacture matches.

The fact that the media run one of these stories every three months or so makes me doubt our culture's long-term viability. The reporter even brings up the long-debunked but still ardently believed Shroud of Turin. Here, she's saying, let me encourage you in your fantasy.

We evidently eat up the bullshit and love how it tastes. Probably a fundamentalist Muslim would see the face of the Prophet. They like the taste, too. Dunno, this "guy" looks more African than Semitic to me. (Yes, I know it's mischievous of me to say that.)

Who's giving you the finger again?

The media think you're too stupid to understand what's happening. Are they right?

Why no large polling bump from Obama's excellent adventure? Obviously, a constant barrage of negative McCain propaganda, which is everywhere filled with bullshit. Today is beat-up-McCNN day here at LL, so see the links.

Why isn't Obama further ahead? See figure, uh, answer 1.

Aren't all politicians the same? Uh, no. They all share some campaign strategies, and they all have human failings, but the media like to lump them together and shrug so that they can get off to the bar for conversations about the horse race. (By the way, the thoroughgoing bullshit in the linked "analysis" deserves its own debunking.)

Did McCain flip-flop on affirmative action? Any idiot (but not CNN) can see that his characterization of an AA ballot initiative in Arizona in 1998 as not needed and "divisive" was opposition even if he didn't use the exact words "I oppose this". If you think these two candidates have the same approach, as implied by the headline "Candidates oppose quotas, but offer no fix for affirmative action", then yes, the media is right to think you're stupid. Do you have trouble telling your ass from a hole in the ground, too?

Did McCain climb down on Iraq? Again, any idiot (but not CNN) can tell that a hundred years is a whole lot more than sixteen months. Yet, Obama's slight adjustments get way more play.

Who's giving you the finger? No, not Obama - the press corps, guided by press releases from highly credible (ha) Republican sources. No telling where their fingers are!

See full CNN image by clicking the cropped thumbnail.

McCNN thrusts the propaganda

Obama believes his own hype, McCNN tells us. Problem is, if you read the full quote instead of the misleading Republican bullshit, the truth is the opposite:

"His entire point of that riff was that the campaign IS NOT about him. The Post left out the important first half of the sentence, which was something along the lines of: 'It has become increasingly clear in my travel, the campaign, that the crowds, the enthusiasm, 200,000 people in Berlin, is not about me at all. It's about America. I have just become a symbol ... ." (emphasis added)
Oh, this is going to get worse. Our press corps is so fucked up that they don't even care about what's true, and the Republicans are always unconscionably eager to exploit that fact.

Update: Yet another McCNN story about a scurrilous McCain attack ad, complete with the repetitions of debunked stories that paint Obama in the McCain campaign's smearing light.

A referendum on McCNN

After seven and a half long years of Republican misrule, faced with a choice between a Republican who promises (most days) to continue virtually all of the Bushist policies and a Democrat who has been 1% of the Senate, mostly in the legislative minority, Bill Schneider's so-called analysis is that the 2008 election will be a referendum on Barack Obama.

I don't call that analysis. I call it wishful thinking.

Oh, and bullshit, too.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hush hush at EPA

It's amazing how far the Bushists will go to keep the truth from seeing the light of day.

"Please do not respond to questions or make any statements," the June 16 e-mail said, advising staff to direct questioners to senior staff members cleared to answer questions from outside the agency.
If you saw this in a private corporation (and I have), you'd know that the bosses were trying to keep the message consistent, top-down, and unpolluted by any inconvenient truths. A business would say this, too:
EPA press director Roxanne Smith rejected that characterization, saying the e-mail was about efficiency, not secrecy.
This of course is more of the bullshit that we Americans have become so inured to in the decades past. We've smelled this barnyard so often that we have olfactory fatigue, and it hardly outrages us any more.

I read an interesting article about China last week in Newsweek. Even though I found its main thesis less than compelling, it offered this take on China's response to national humiliations in the first half of the 20th century:
To ignore China's national failure came to be seen as unpatriotic.
We on the other hand revel in our national public culture of exceptionalism, where it's politically dangerous even to acknowledge that we have a problem. To rationalize the variance of rhetoric with reality requires our current culture of blatant bullshit.

Frankly, with so many in the media happy to sing lullabies to the bullshit, I'm not sure there's a way out for our country without the kind of economic, social, and political upheaval that no one will enjoy.

No mention of continuous filibuster

Time lays the failures of this Congress on the Democrats with nary a mention of the stonewalling of Republican Senators.

Just because their approval ratings are at all-time lows and they are dismissed as a do-nothing Congress doesn't mean Democrats on Capitol Hill aren't keeping busy.

Given the logjam that has built up since Democrats took control of Congress in 2006, there's a lot to get through.
Of course, the media have never held the Republicans to account for their caucus-wide abuse of the filibuster. They don't like to beat up Republicans.

But Harry Reid gave his so-called colleagues from the other side of the aisle a pass, too. He should have been holding the Senate in session to make the Republicans filibuster every goddamn thing on television, instead of letting them filibuster by remote control.

Whoever is the next Majority Leader, pay attention. The Republicans are a highly disciplined, power-first enterprise. They don't care about traditions of comity unless they can use them against you. Think about that when you change the Senate rules.

Democrat lite

A hundred years or sixteen months, what's the difference?

What does John McCain really believe? Who knows?

He is trying the typical Republican CYA tactic of leaving the decision to the military. Look, in America, we have a civilian President and a civilian Secretary of Defense and a civilian Congress to reflect the will of the people. The input of the generals is important, but they are lower in the chain of command and unelected.

As we've seen with Duhbya, Republican politicians hide behind their generals' skirts when politically convenient and fire anyone who won't provide that cover. So it could be that McCain's plan is to sound like a half-hearted Democrat but then to report with fake ruefulness that sixteen months needs to stretch to sixteen years.

In any case, what is clear is that you can't rely on any policy position that comes out of McCain's mouth. He'll just change his mind tomorrow.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Legacy fluffing didn't work

Duh! Everyone with two brain cells to rub together knew that Duhbya's Israel/Palestine peace plan had zero chance from the moment it was announced.

Of course, Obama was just there, wasn't he? It must be his fault! Yeah, that's the ticket.

Party of fiscal responsibility

Half a trillion dollars short. Close to $2000 each, just in 2009.

Hint: The party of fiscal responsibility is not the GOP.

Please laugh at this pathetic attempt to blame Bill Clinton:

[T]he senior administration official says the budgetary problems stem from what is believed to be inadequate defense, intelligence and homeland security resources that were handed down from President Bill Clinton.
Thumb-suckers!

Killing liberals

I've been in the Unitarian-Universalist church in Knoxville, Tennessee, that was desecrated by shotgun blasts and blood and untimely death yesterday. It was a long time ago in an earlier building further west on Kingston Pike, and it was for meetings of the Sierra Club, not for services.

I don't know any of the dead or wounded who have been named so far, but if I still lived in Knoxville I probably would, since liberals are rare (and wonderful) there. Beyond the sympathy I have for them as kindred spirits, though, they were just people in church on Sunday morning, and I'd feel it a tragedy no matter what church David Adkisson had defiled.

The political context of this attack, however, leaves me angry and bitter. Already, in comments here and there on the web, the non-Christianity (or, really, post-Christianness) of the TVUUC is coming in for criticism, as if that matters at all. So, I'll try to keep my self-control, as the assaulted congregation has somehow managed to do.

The shooter picked out that church, came there intent on murder-suicide, and did his evil deeds in order to kill liberals. And one of his reasons was that his food stamps were running out! Another was that his care at the VA hadn't been good enough - I guess he didn't read the Washington Post to get a clear idea who has neglected that. In the end, killing those tolerant of gays was his crazed mandate.

I have expressed before the fear that armed wingnuts would violently reject liberal electoral victories. Conservatives have ridiculed me for this. Let me be clear: Adkisson is a nut, not necessarily a conservative in any coherent way (not that most conservatives are coherent), but he is not representative of conservatism or conservatives.

What Adkisson probably has done is bathe in the baptismal font of hatred and bile that is the wingnut commentariat. When Ann Coulter talks about killing people, even guilty ones, to scare liberals, when Jesse Helms "jokes" about assassination of the sitting President, when Michael Savage advocates hanging for lawyers at Guantánamo and hints at the murder of Barack Obama, when Michael Graham fantasizes about whacking the Clintons, when Bill O'Reilly countenances the destruction of San Francisco, and so forth, you can't really blame a liberal like me for worrying a bit about our adversaries and a few of their fringe hangers on who are both nuts and armed.

There are a couple of other, more positive things, that I notice from this story. Despite the lack of any dogma in UU that guarantees a reward from God in heaven, the unarmed congregation both sacrificed for the greater good and subdued the attacker quickly and courageously. They didn't dither or cower the way conservatives have claimed they would. Instead, they moved to save what they could of what they love.

Update: CNN obtusely headlines its story on Adkisson's motives with the least interesting motive, "Church shooting suspect angry over job search, police say." Why would that be?

Update: David Neiwert's classic post on eliminationist rhetoric.

Update: More from CNN, with motive mentioned only once.

Seeing blue

What's with CNN's obsession with geriatric porn? First the 1000-year-old stripper, now a Japanese Methuselah, still shooting at 73. No mention of how much ED medication he needs to keep up his demanding, uh, schedule.

I'm only fifty, and already my (slightly younger) sister has sent me a birthday card that said, "My dog saw you naked. He says your birthday suit needs ironing."

Is McCNN trying to convince us that John McCain might possibly also be this vigorous? I thought we didn't want a horn-dog in the White House.

Is seventy supposed to be the new twenty-five? By all means, keep going. But, please, not for the camera.

Interview someone sane

Does Mark Preston ever talk to a Democrat? Or even a sane Republican?

Ben Stein thinks:

  • Karl Rove is the answer.
  • Phil Gramm had the psychological recession right.
  • Obama's ability to draw a crowd is anti-democratic.
  • Evolution is wrong, even though he doesn't understand anything else about it.
Preston thinks Stein is well informed, on the basis of speech-writing for Nixon and Ford thirty-five years ago. In fairness, Stein does notice that McCain is running a "pathetic" campaign, but you'd have to be stone dead or Tucker Bounds not to notice that.

Update: For snark, please try "Seeing blue". For something much more serious, try "Killing liberals".

Stagecraft - IOKIYAR

The Dems had a hearing (yes, this one) about Duhbya's undeniable abuses of executive power, and CNN of course declined to deal with the substance. Instead, Campbell Brown and Erica Hill superficially bantered about the stagecraft of the hearing. "A waste of taxpayers' money," opined Brown, and Hill agreed.

Yes, this was stagecraft, but it was about a very important issue. Did these two media suck-ups ever run down a Republican committee for its stagecraft? Chances are they lauded the Republicans for their unified political savvy.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Penetrated by propagandists

It's a measure of how thoroughly the wingnut message skunk works has penetrated the mainstream media that Obama has to defend a trip overseas that should need no defense.

The McCain press release machine has found willing fools among mouthpiece journalists who ask its stupid and invidious questions without regard to whether or not they make sense.

Obama's reply should take the offensive:

John McCain would hold a rally in a heartbeat like the one I held in Berlin and like the one I'll hold in Denver in August, but he could never fill that big a space with people. People come to our events because they're sick and tired of the Karl Rove politics of the past, but that's all McCain has to offer. This dumb question is proof of that.

Stature

Click image for full Etta Hulme/Ft. Worth Star Telegram cartoon.

It's not physical stature, it's temperament and knowledge and leadership.

Duhbyomacy

Click image for full (week-old) Mike Luckovich cartoon.

Not that Iran's really a responsible party, but it makes a good laugh.

Duhbya has excused North Korea from the axis of evil. Could Iran be next with a get out of dutch free card? Then Duhbya will claim the conquest of the whole axis as his legacy. Sow's ear, silk purse, ah, the magic of Republican marketing.

Rats, we were sure it would be blank

Wingnuts everywhere are cursing their bad luck that Obama's Wailing Wall prayer was not blank. Now, they're looking for any opening to criticize his supposedly confidential prayer.

How low is too low for them? We're not there yet.

Jibing back and forth

TPM shows clearly that John McCain has jibed across the prevailing Duhbya wind on Iraq, rather than tacking into it. Everything McCain tacks on now about his course and positions is jive. Here ends my tacky gibe.

(And, no, I don't know anything about sailing, so corrections happily accepted.)

Keening and wailing

What would Chicken Little wingnut pundits be saying this morning if this Qantas flight has simply disappeared over the Pacific? I'd be surprised if most of them would have even mentioned the possibility of accident, which by all appearances this was.

They'd have been screaming in terror about terrorism, and they'd have been blaming Obama and the Democrats even though they credit Duhbya for keeping their pitty-pat little hearts safe. Courage? Consistency? They don't need either.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Obama excluded from military hospital

We should be mad about this, as opposed to the faux outrage of the professionally offended blithering conservative pundits, not to mention the dishonestly invidious paid McCain whiners.

To survive in politics

You have to know this stuff or politics will break your heart (and it may anyway):

I don’t have advice for Prime Minister Brown, I will tell you that you’re always more popular before you’re actually in charge of things (laughter) and then, and once you’re responsible, then you’re gonna make some people unhappy, and that’s just the nature of politics and, these things go in cycles. Even during the course of this campaign, there have been months where I’m a genius and there are months when I am an idiot, at least if you read the newspapers. It seems like I’m pretty much the same guy throughout this process but, you know, my actions and the results are gonna be perceived differently at any given time.
(Emphasis added.)

Obama knows he's not going to be the second coming.

Pretty good timetable, uh, horizon

McCain's "straight" talk is predicated on your inability to form new memories. Thursday, leaving Iraq over 16 months was choosing to lose (h/t Joe Klein, credit where due). Yesterday, 16 months sounds like a pretty good date, uh, timetable, uh, horizon, uh, thingumabob. Tomorrow, who the hell knows? McCain shows no sign of knowing what his message is.

What the press likes about McCain: He improvises all the time. Problem for the rest of us is that he doesn't do it well.

Update: Atrios nails it.

Ask yourself this

Could you survive on minimum wage, even working full-time 52 weeks a year? Here are the newly raised numbers: 2,080 hours/year, $6.55/hour - $13,624 per year before taxes.

Whiplash

So now Republicans are perfectly fine with treating Osama bin Laden through court proceedings? After all this time, they are no longer saying that the legal system is inadequate and that only war will do?

Friday, July 25, 2008

In honor of Dennis Kucinich

Dennis Kucinich makes the unassailable point that it is Congress's sworn duty to defend the Constitution from its use as Bushist birdcage liner. For his trouble, McCNN says ho hum and tries to make him look small with this otherwise inexplicable photograph:


Click low-resolution thumbnail used under Fair Use to see original Getty Images photo.

Venngeance

Slate paints a few of the scofflaw scandals of the Bushists:


Getting them all onto one page might send us looking for Hume's missing shade of blue.

Click thumbnail image for interactive graphic.

(h/t LGM)

Catch that buzz

Who is this guy Portman? Is he related to Natalie?

Next: McCain seen with chauffeur. Could he be a dark horse VP?

Jindal had buzz. Romney had buzz. Pawlenty had buzz. What that means is that the reporters don't know anything, so they're talking about these guys with each other. And the McCain campaign is feigning interest in everyone just to stay in the news.

Update (7/26): Silly season is here early. Eric Cantor (who?) for McCain's veep, touts Mary Ann Akers. Only if the Republicans learned nothing from Dan Quayle, which I suppose is possible. After all, this is the Republicans we're talking about.

A flack's wet dream

McCain campaign aide gets press release onto A1 of the Washington Post with a substance free story about the timing of the Republican veep nomination. What a worthless story.

Fun (but also worthless) to guess:

  • Romney - how many houses between him and McCain? More than ten, so we know they can relate to the mortgage crisis.
  • Jindal - Mini-He scares everybody a little
  • Ridge - threat level low
  • Portman - who? A Bush budget director? Somebody's pulling wool. Is he the only Ohio guy they've got?
  • Pawlenty - my guess

Mazeltov to the good Lieberman

There's a soft spot in my heart for 50-year-old basketball players - since I am one. No doubt a soft spot in my head, too...

McCain press release mashup

If McCain were really a tough guy, he'd promise to wait until he's President (never!) to meet with the Dalai Lama and really piss off the Chinese.

(Is there any doubt at all that the McCain campaign piled up a ton of press releases about mostly inconsequential things to compete with Obama's trip? And, of course, McCNN printed every damn one of them. Hey, an easy day at work!)

Update: Joe Klein, true to form, is oblivious to the obvious fact that Tucker Bounds is playing him.

How much did you get for your soul?

$1.8 million for 9 dead, or $200,000 each. Weren't we recently scandalized that the EPA had dropped the price for each of us $1,000,000 to $6.9 million?

I guess the miners' families will have to sue for full value. Good luck to them, although they probably will wind up with pennies for their loved ones' eyes.

Good faith torture

There is no end to the base corruption of our American ideals by the Bushist war criminals. CNN unhelpfully fails to link to the documents obtained by the ACLU, which are comically redacted almost to nothingness. Given what the Bushists admitted, it's hard to imagine what they censored.

The interrogator's "good faith" and "honest belief" that the interrogation will not cause such suffering protects the interrogator, the memo adds.
Jay Bybee thinks lack of specific intent to cause severe pain is exculpatory. Even if so, what about the second use? The torturers can hardly claim ignorance of the pain they're causing.

"Your honor, even though he screamed the first thirty-nine times I waterboarded him, I was sure it wouldn't hurt him the fortieth time."

Insane. Like the reasoning of a Soviet lawyer. Or a press release from Kim Il Sung.

And specific intent is inextricably a part of the first torture, too. The torturers specifically intended to use torture to force a prisoner to answer a question. For those of us who understand cause and effect normally, there's no separate proof: They chose these methods to elicit a response. It's not as though they just happened to waterboard prisoners because they didn't have anything else to do that day.

For this service to the Bushists, Bybee received a Federal Appeals Court judgeship. The least we can do is impeach the SOB for his crimes. And I don't care a whit if the Judiciary Committee glossed over them in 2004.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Al Qaeda is just not a priority

Here's the stark admission:

"The chairman of the Joint Chiefs has said time and time again Iraq is a mission we must do. Afghanistan is a mission we do as we can," [Pentagon spokesman Geoff] Morrell said.
The people who had nothing to do with 9/11? Enemy! The people who attacked us on 9/11? No big deal.

How long until the White House backtracks on that?

Update: I mean, really, they're saying that they're willing to let the situation in Afghanistan totally go to hell. What a craven bunch of shitheads.

Sharp reversal ... in a good way

Headline griping is usually pointless, but here goes anyway.

McCNN's headline dresses up excellent news as a reversal. Yes, reversal comes from a quote, but it's misleading and suggests that Obama has lost Hispanic support when in fact he's running away with it.

(Note to Dems: Get out and register the half of CNN's sample who aren't registered. Yeah, the Republicans while keen and wail with no evidence that you're registering illegals. Put in controls so that you can rebut with them and let the Repubs whine and look stupid.)

Gotcha

The AP gives us three examples of the political game of gotcha, and not one of them originated with the usual purveyors of idiotic controversy in miniature - journalists. Instead, the story describes three controversies that fundamentally are legitimate subjects of political reporting:

  • John McCain's abject ignorance of the actual timeline of the escalation in Iraq
  • CBS's careful editing of an interview to avoid exposure of McCain's ignorance
  • the details of Obama's willingness to meet with the ugly, awful leaders of enemy countries without precondition
The last one, the Republican one, comes closest to the usual invidious gaffe-seeking. Only a captious Republican could think that "without precondition" means "without preparation." Of course, the McCain campaign is trying to make the weak-minded think Obama meant "any time, anywhere, at the bad guys' beck and call," which is just ridiculous idiocy for ridiculous idiots, and there's no way Obama committed to anything so dumb. Still, it's useful for Obama to clarify, even though he was probably clear at the time he first said he meet with those in power in Iran.

Even more, McCain's frequent need of factual correction about what is supposed to be his signature issue ought to be at the top of the news. The guy doesn't have what it takes - unless you want four more years - and we ought to know that before we make another moronic choice.

Hitting a fly with a sledgehammer

Upgrading F-16s (fer chrissake) is counterterrorism only in the sense that we have to keep bribing the Pakistanis to keep claiming in public that they care about the Taliban. What they do and what they say in private? What do you expect for $230 million?

“Using F-16s this way is like hitting a fly with a sledgehammer,” said one senior Senate Democratic aide.
The Bushists don't give the smallest shit how Congress designated the money, and a real counterterror weapon like an A-10 (already durable in close air support) or whatever the C-130-derived gunship is would seem to make a lot more sense if helicopters aren't flashy enough. But none of this matters to Duhbya. He's already on the way out and nothing he can do now will have much effect on the likelihood of terror for the rest of his term. 2009? Who cares?

Drudge exaggerates - stop the presses

It's a mystery why Drudge continues to have any credibility whatsoever, but his propagandizing still has to be tamped down.

Of course, by the snoozer standards of a McCain rally, Obama's visit to the Western Wall probably did seem like a mob scene.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Always the dark clouds

Joe Klein, true to type, thrusts the RNC propaganda, not the hard edge, no, the soft insinuations. Obama's trip hasn't caused a polling bump, he says, but was that expected? Did McCain's last trip cause a polling bump?

That lack of poll impact couldn't have anything to do with the ferocious McCain campaign attacks on Obama. Could it?

Klein manages to get the conservative whisper of grandiosity into his lead paragraph and then half-heartedly deprecates it. With Beltway pundits of Klein's type, there is no way for a Democrat to win, even when he's winning.

"Wall St. got drunk"

Duhbya said this to disclaim responsibility. Boy, now, that's a new tack for him.

Wall St., among others, did get drunk, but they did because the Fed and other financial regulators failed to take the punch bowl away. They failed in their jobs at frightening and increasing cost to us taxpayers because of their laissez-faire Bushist ideology.

The White House thoroughly endorsed and supported the looting.

Bushist economy

People in the middle class don't need an explanation from an economist of the pro-wealthy bias of the Bushist economy:

Adjusted for inflation, median household income dropped by $1,175 between 2000 and 2007, said Elizabeth Warren, professor at Harvard Law School, in written testimony before the Joint Economic Committee.

At the same time, the average family is spending $4,655 more on basic expenses, such as gas, housing, food and health insurance.
But it's good to have one anyway.

A friend of mine likes to ask, "Are you better off than you were eight years ago?"

Well, are ya, punk?

PUMA in name only

McCNN magnifies the anti-Obama wing of the Democratic Party by including conspiracy theorist Webster Tarpley as if he had ever been a Democrat. Here's the description of his latest book, Obama: The Postmodern Coup:

Barack Obama is a deeply troubled personality, the megalomaniac front man for a postmodern coup by the intelligence agencies, using fake polls, mobs of swarming adolescents, super-rich contributors, and orchestrated media hysteria to short-circuit normal politics and seize power.

Obama comes from the orbit of the Ford Foundation, and has never won public office in a contested election. His guru and controller is Zbigniew Brzezinski, the deranged revanchist and Russia-hater who dominated the catastrophic Carter presidency 30 years ago. All indications are that Brzezinski recruited Obama at Columbia University a quarter century ago. Trilateral Commission co-founder Brzezinski wants a global showdown with Russia and China far more dangerous for the United States than the Bush-Cheney Iraq adventure.

Obama's economics are pure Skull & Bones/Chicago school austerity and sacrifice for American working families, all designed to bail out the bankrupt Wall Street elitist financiers who own Obama. Obama's lemming legions and Kool-Aid cult candidacy hearken back to Italy in 1919-1922, and raise the question of postmodern fascism in the United States today.

Obama is a recipe for a world tragedy. No American voter can afford to ignore the lessons contained in this book.
Strong stuff! Is that meth I smell? Maybe he'll give Cynthia McKinney a try this year. I'd bet he's been voting for Ralph Nader in years past. After all, he's quick to deliver the Nader rationale:
Tarpley said a McCain victory might be the best result if Obama is the Democratic nominee. It would allow the party an opportunity to reflect and perhaps "radicalize it in a New Deal direction."
How has that worked out so far?

The irritating thing for a consumer of media is that Tarpley honestly flags himself as a "controversial book author," which ought to have cued Mark Preston to try Google. But, no, Preston doesn't bother or at least he doesn't tell his readers. Hey, that might get in the way of the received narrative.

Update (7/27): If you liked this item, why not try "Whiplash"?

Misdemeanors don't have anniversaries

At least, misdemeanor sentences don't last a year, so I must be guilty of a felony by blogging.

Yes, I've now been doing this for a year. At least, I think today is the anniversary of my start blogging on my own blog. I didn't write down the date, and since I back-filled with lots of older posts and comments I had made on other people's blogs, I can't quite pin it down exactly.

Anyway, Blogger says I started in July 2007, and I vaguely remember the 23rd (though I had thought it was the 23rd of June).

In the past year, I have posted over a thousand times, which suggests I should get a life. No dice. As long as there are Torys to ridicule for their stupidity and arrogance, I have work to do.

Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons. William Hogarth references the Tory election campaign of 1754 that belabored the objectively better Gregorian calendar.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fear is all they have

Heather Wilson should have been afraid in 2000, but she wasn't. Duhbya had a frightening combination of ignorance and unwillingness to learn.

Obama is young, but he has proven to be brilliant and educable. The contrast with McCain couldn't be more stark without McCain being inanimate.

How many shares of CNN does Pickens own?

Recently, CNN has taken great pains to put T. Boone Pickens in front of our eyeballs. For example, here Lou Dobbs puckers up an plants wet, sloppy smooch after wet, sloppy smooch on T. Boone's well-tailored posterior. (A billionaire is not so plebeian as to have an ass.)

Hint: This spate of publicity ain't because he's purty. So it must be the billionaire thing.

The news hook is grafted on like a primitive prosthesis over the embarrassing stub of his walking out on the $1,000,000 faux pledge in defense of his Swift Boat Liars. The hook is that T. Boone has a plan for reducing our foreign oil dependency. Of course, it's mostly warmed over Democratic positions, though Lou Dobbs conveniently forgets that.

When T. Boone says, "We have not had a plan in 40 years, Lou," what he means is that we have not had an approved Republican plan. Now, like many wealthies before him, he wants to take credit for the ideas of others, in this case Jimmy Carter, who did have a plan 30 years ago before oil men (no doubt including T. Boone) shouted him down.

"What I want to do is to fold in the great resource we have in the central part of this country, which is wind," says T. Boone. I'm sure readers are thoroughly capable of inserting their own jokes about windy rhetoric, Texas blow jobs, and breaking wind. Have at it in comments.

Update (7/22): Yet another story from CNN. At least this one mentions the Bushist connections, and its headline IDs him as a Swift Boat "backer".

Monday, July 21, 2008

Approved messages

Tom Bevan "shake[s his] head when [he sees] people driving around my neighborhood with their faded Kerry-Edwards bumper stickers on." Huh? That's what's amazing?

It's the Duhbya stickers that amaze me. There goes someone with the courage of his convictions, I think. An idiot, but he's not backing down, so he has a real kinship with Duhbya.

Bevan is weighing in on South Carolina's 'I Believe' vanity plate. Of course, his source is an op-ed that elides the key fact that other religions can't get a plate with words on it and so are discriminated against.

Again, this is really simple: Christians can have their vanity plate if the law permits everyone else to have a vanity plate under exactly the same rules. Oh, and the rules can't be contrived to exclude everyone else. Ixnay on saying that whatever worldview is the majority (as if we didn't know) can have its plate.

Why America is screwed up

Throwaway line reporting on Michael Savage's typical proud, loud ignorance (about autism this time):

Savage, with more than 8 million listeners a week, is talk radio's third most popular personality behind Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, according to Talkers magazine.
It is no wonder so many Americans value stupidity above learning. It's what they like to listen to.

McCain plays the media for fools

McCain submits an op-ed hack job that's pure attack, the kind you can get published if you buy ad space to run it in. Or you can get it published in trashy wingnut newspapers - it would be too mild for the Washington Times.

The New York Times suggests a rewrite, so McCain pushes it to Drudge, and now CNN and Fox have it posted, and everyone is reporting on it. NYT will never run it now, but who cares?

The question is: Will the media get pissed about getting so baldly manipulated?

My bet: They're used to it, so no.

Two degrees of separation

It's amazing how clueless mainstream pundits are. They sit next to the pulsing heart of journalism, but they miss the most basic facts.

Jonathan Alter and I undoubtedly have mutual friends, since he graduated a year before me from Harvard. He's undoubtedly a sophisticated talker and a good egg at parties.

Yet somehow he can write a column on blogging that's oblivious to easily known facts of the genre. His educational pedigree is no longer enough.

He writes, "KellyB couldn't resist amending the gracious condolence" with a gibe. Alter doesn't give a link, so it's not a sure thing, but the gibe is most likely KellyB's signature line, which Alter would know if he were anything but a blog newbie.

"Bloggers rarely pick up the phone or go interview the middle-level bureaucrats who know the good stuff." Duh! We do opinion! We analyze. We remember. We're competing with Alter, not with reporters. And we're doing a better job.

Not to mention that the Washington press corps rarely picks up the phone either, at least not to talk with those scruffy mid-level bureaucrats. They're too busy dressing up press releases from Cabinet secretaries as their own work so they can get to the shrimp and canapés.

The one interesting thing that Alter does get right is that print journalism is going exactly the wrong way by cutting newsroom jobs. The future is in facts, not in opinion. What's happening to journalism is specialization. There's no longer any reason why news, opinion, and classified ads belong together.

Opinion, to Alter's eventual chagrin, will be free. People love to give it away, will give it even if you don't ask, will inflict it on you when you don't want to hear it. As long as pundits have as little insight as Alter shows in this column, why would anyone pay for it?

Yet, after at least noticing the need for reporting, Alter immediately stubs his toe on the assumption that print has to be on paper, that the advantage of print journalism is articles too long to read on the web. Jon, listen carefully: paper is going away. Print is more readable on the Internet than some blurry, smudging newsprint. The inverted pyramid on the Internet goes deep, no matter how shallow it often looks.

Next, Alter objects to the web's pseudonymity. Until we identify ourselves, he says, we won't have any influence beyond our contributions. This is facile bullshit. We already have influence, even if Nancy Pelosi won't answer my email because I don't live in her district (non sequitur!). That's an old custom that deserves to die away, and it will, long before we bloggers all identify ourselves. Meanwhile, those of us who write regularly, even under a pseudonym, have reputations to defend that we clearly care about.

Alter wants to blame the preference for rumor on the Internet. As if. The failings of mainstream journalism to call bullshit by its real name give rumor credence. Blogs fight against that, at least mine does. But corporate media still hews to the pretense of balance; its ethos is no longer to find and print the facts.

So, yes, we take offense at the bullshit enshrined in Newsweek and other sources. But we also take offense at the ridiculous claim that we're the source of the bullshittification of the American conversation. I mean, has he watched Fox lately? McCNN? MSNBC? Why does anyone still read Drudge? As Atrios would say, time for another blogger ethics panel.

Alter finishes with the apotheosis of corporate journalism - thesis, antithesis, shrug:

By the end of this first Internet campaign, we'll know everything. And nothing.
Enjoy your pay, Jon. It won't last.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Fuzzy logic

Click image for full Darby Conley cartoon.

This cartoon makes the perfect argument: It only works against those who need it to work against them.

But McCain's different

Click image for full Garry Trudeau cartoon.

Beach daze


Sorry for the completely banal headline; the cartoon itself is hilarious.

Click the image to see the full Charles Pugsley Fincher cartoon.

Urgency and drama

Amber Alert systems give us the illusion that we're doing something, anything, but they're rarely helpful in the hard cases that inspired their creation. But what's the cost for that rare success?

"It doesn't cost anybody anything," argues Tyler Cox, operations manager for radio station WBAP, chairman of the Dallas/Fort Worth Amber Plan Task Force, and one of the people who helped create the original Amber Alert. "There's no expense to operating an Amber Alert system if you're doing it the right way."
Timothy Griffin, who studied the cases, identifies two costs:
Critics, however, measure the price of the program not in money but in broader social costs, in anxiety, panic, and misdirected public energy.

...

"When a child dies, in the vast majority of cases it's going to be a kid you've never heard of in a part of town you've never gone," he says. "Savage beatings, drug abuse, kids not being fed, that type of crime happens far more often than the abduction and murder of little girls."
Maybe it's asking a lot, given how balky and fearful our culture has become, but couldn't we have both the very inexpensive Amber Alerts and solutions to more endemic problems if we would simply learn not to be so damn hysterical?

And maybe the Globe could start by not trumping up illustrations of empty maryjanes and hair bows left by fictive kidnappers.

B-list Maureen Dowd

Joan Vennochi pollutes the Boston Globe with pissy middle school insults aimed at Barack Obama. They could have been ghost-written by the RNC. Of course, of course, she balances her column with John McCain's modesty.

Joan, here's a little unfriendly but sincere advice: If you're in pain, as your writing suggests, get some help or medication, or find some joy. Also, journalism is a tough and precarious career these days, but the MoDo moment is ending under the weight of a huge variety of free, fresh-blogged snark; find another way to be valuable.

Settlements vs. settlement

If you were an Israeli, why would you want to build more settlements in the West Bank?

  1. West Bank? Where's that? We're building our birthright in Judea and Samaria. This is the Zionist fanatic's answer. It assumes that YHWH granted the land in perpetuity to his chosen people. There is no prospect of peace down this path.
  2. The settlers are an important coalition partner. This is the domestic politician's answer. It trades electoral success now for more difficulty in the future. In the long run - is there any other? - it condemns Israel and the Palestinians to perpetual conflict.
  3. We're creating facts on the ground. This is the statesman's (Risk-player's) answer. What they're not saying is that these facts will eventually have to be traded away for the Palestinian right of return, which for Israel is a never-happen, non-starting method of slow suicide. But see #2.
  4. It's our answer to terror. Settlement expansion provides a goad to the Palestinians to seek peace whenever they choose war ... or vote for Hamas. Uh, how's that working out so far?
  5. What have I missed?
I used to think without any claim of particular insight that the shape of an eventual settlement between Israel and Palestine was obvious:
  • Palestinians give up right of return.
  • Israelis give up the settlements. They'd probably have to retrench the wall to the 1967 border, too, but I have no problem with the wall itself.
  • Palestinians get the old Arab Quarter in Jerusalem for their capital.
  • Palestinians commit to the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.
  • Compensation and economic aid for both sides from the U.S., Europe, and Russia (yeah, sure). After all, we midwifed this problem by expiating our guilt over the Holocaust onto contested land.
  • No heavy weapons for the Palestinians, but outside military guarantees, probably from Europe since neither the U.S. (too pro-Israeli) nor the U.N. (too pro-Palestinian) would be seen as an honest broker.
As time passes, though, I'm much less sure that a lasting Israeli majority or anyone on the Palestinian side would make any kind of deal other than the unconditional surrender of the other side. And that just isn't going to happen.

If Duhbya bought the PNAC program that intervening militarily in Middle East religious conflicts could solve the Israel-Palestine problem, and it appears he did, maybe he invaded the wrong place. Yeah, sure.

Maybe a solution has to bubble up from the bottom? How about two changes:
  • A guaranteed job for every Palestinian male between 17 and 65. Help them have something to lose and keep most of them too tired for conspiracies.
  • The end of blanket military deferments for all groups in Israel, notably the ultra-orthodox. Help them have something to lose, too.
Ideas? Anyone? Because what we've had so far sure as hell hasn't worked.

Update (6/24/2011) - minor editorial improvements.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The truth about 'The Truth About Torture'

Almost every line Stuart Taylor Jr. writes about torture is utter, complete, total bullshit.

It would be unseemly for Bush to pardon Vice President Dick Cheney or himself
Duhbya might pause before pardoning Darth and himself because it's unseemly? What planet does Taylor live on? Unseemly! As if.
the next president wouldn't allow them to be prosecuted anyway
And Taylor knows this how?
what this country needs most is a full and true accounting of what took place.
What the country needs is a return to the rule of law, and that can't happen without prison.
The incoming president should convene a truth commission
A truth commission? Don't we claim to have the rule of law for that? (Oh, my own bullshit - my bad.) But Taylor's had canapés with some of the criminals, so they just can't be criminals.
with subpoena power
How has that subpoena power been working out so far? Knock, knock, earth to Stuart. Pull your head out of there and take a look around once in a while.
Pardons would further a truth commission's most important goals: to uncover all important facts, identify innocent victims to be compensated, foster a serious conversation about what U.S. interrogation rules should be, recommend legal reforms, pave the way for appropriate apologies and restore America's good name.
Yeah, let's suspend the rules so that we can make more rules that no one - well, no Republicans - will follow.
The goals should not include wrecking the lives of men and women who made grievous mistakes while doing dirty work—work they had been advised by administration lawyers was legal, and which they believed was necessary to prevent terrorist mass murder.
After all, we don't want to discourage idiots who can't tell the difference between waterboarding and needlepoint from their right to govern us! The Bushists asked the OLC for get out of jail free cards, which are a tissue of transparent legalistic bullshit, and Taylor is going to play along as if they were sincere about anything more than covering their well-fed asses.
A criminal investigation would only hinder efforts to determine the truth, and preclude any apologies. It would spur those who know the most to take the Fifth.
Continuing the cover-up with pardons would help us learn the truth? So all the prosecutors who turn minor conspirators by threatening them with jail have it all wrong. What an idiot.
Any prosecutions would also touch off years of partisan warfare.
Stu, baby, wake up. Have you missed the last two decades? Oh, it's partisan warfare where the Democrats show up ready to fight that you want to avoid.
Any hope of a civil conversation about lessons we need to learn would be dead.
Oh, Christ, this is the be-all and end-all of Washington punditry, a fucking civil conversation. What we had and no longer have but still need is the rule of law!
there is no evidence that any high-level official acted with criminal intent.
Uh, Stuart, there's intent everywhere. These people wrote memos about what they were going to do, and then they did it. They knew the meanings of the words ('torture' for one) they were dishonestly redefining. It doesn't take a genius to see this, though apparently it takes more IQ points than you have at your disposal.
The officials involved appear to have approved only interrogation methods found legal by administration lawyers, and in particular by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). According to long tradition, the OLC is considered a sort of Supreme Court of the executive branch.
God, you think we're all dunces, don't you? A precedent by which hand-picked legal bullshitters can write any goddamn thing they want and have it be relied on as law is a prescription for lawless, authoritarian rule by the President.
But Congress has defined torture very narrowly.
Huh? Where's your evidence? It certainly isn't in your column. In any case, the international case law and the consensus of everyone prior to the rise of Bushism is that the Bushists didn't go just a little over the line. Belly slaps, menstrual blood, panties, nudity, and even Koran defacement might have been that. Waterboarding, beatings (sometimes to death), severe sleep deprivation, stress positions (such a delicate euphemism for non-maiming successors of the rack), and hypothermia? Anyone who claims not to know that these are torture is lying to you.
The OLC has advised officials since 2002 that some highly coercive methods—including waterboarding, which is assailed by most of the world as torture—do not violate the federal anti-torture law.
And you find the rationales they provided to the White House on demand credible as if they were a dispassionate, even-handed, responsible finding of a court, not the partisan bullshit of John Yoo and company. Un-fucking-believable!
Then five Supreme Court justices gave the administration a nasty surprise. Rejecting the views of a federal appeals court, President Bush, the OLC and four other Supreme Court justices, the majority held that Geneva does protect Qaeda members and other Guantánamo detainees. (emphasis added)
I guess it's clear where your sympathies lie.
But any such prosecutions would probably fail.
There's that Beltway pundit's crystal ball again.
Congress has retroactively amended the War Crimes Act to block any prosecutions for brutal interrogation methods short of torture.
We're not talking about short of torture. We're talking about torture. Get it?
And officials could raise a nearly airtight defense of good-faith reliance on advice of counsel—OLC memos on approved methods would be like "get out of jail free" cards.
Sorry, no. Those memos implicate their authors, who are also criminally culpable. They are evidence, all right, but it ain't exculpatory.
pressure to go after GOP "war criminals" would make it very hard to unite Americans of all stripes behind solutions to the many economic and social challenges facing the country.
Hey, look over there. The Bushists screwed up a lot of other things, too.

For blithe witless Broderists like Taylor whose highest goal is to have a serious, civil conversation about the lessons of the Bushist slow-motion coup d'etat, here's the history of immunizing Republican counter-Constitutional crime:
  • Watergate - the now relatively minor matter of using the power of the government against Nixon's political opposition - Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon to the polite opera house applause of the creeping Broderists. As a consequence, only a few wingnut factotums did any time. Prominent Nixon alumni now Bushists: Darth Cheney, Rummy, Fred Fielding, the Bushes themselves, not to mention Chuck Colson and G. Gordon Liddy carrying the message in the media.
  • Iran-Contra - broke the law in the manner of putschists - There were no lasting consequences for anyone, as Bush père wielded the pardon to protect Republican criminality. Prominent Reagan alumni, tainted by scandal, now Bushists: Elliot Abrams? Back. John Poindexter? Back. Ollie North? On the radio flogging the hatred of liberals.
What have authoritarian Republican Bushists learned from ever-decreasing consequences for their impeachable crimes? Go for it! The next Republican President will take care of you.

There's another lesson in this: Don't listen to nicey-nice Washington pundits. They're repeatedly, irremediably full of themselves, which means they're full of shit.

Stuart Taylor (and, yes, the Democrats in Congress) have surrendered in the fight to keep our democracy. But, hey, they're civil dipshits.

(h/t LGM)

Blast from the past

John McCain's electric car is probably something he saw on the cover of Popular Science in the 1970s.


Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.

Send Karl Rove to jail


What do you call Karl Rove in Leavenworth?

A good start.

Petition here.

(h/t Main St. USA - pass it on!)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Taking astrology seriously

Our national discourse is deeply lost. Sally Quinn and the Washington Post will take anything seriously so long as it is fig-leafed with religious mumbo-jumbo.

Even astrology, which is bullshit through and through. And I don't care whether Caroline Casey says nice things about Obama or physics, it's still bullshit.

McCNN sends the cavalry

Jack Cafferty asks, Why does Obama get more news coverage than McCain?

Jack, who's o.k. but miscast as CNN's liberal (ha!), is concerned about the narrow issue of news anchors going on foreign trips, which is a red herring. Take a look at the current CNN Political Ticker:

Here's the count:
  • McCain only: 4
  • Obama only: 2
  • both, McCain leads story: 7
  • both, Obama leads story: 1
  • other: 1, plus the summary items
Yes, there's an imbalance. Hint: It's not the conventional wisdom. Even worse, nearly all the Obama stories are on defense, parrying McCain attack, attack, attack.

This just in

Yeah, Duhbya is a worse failure than you, Nancy Pelosi. What a scoop! He finally said something that irritated you enough to attack him. I just wish you had done something about his failure!

Instead, you just barely exceeded the achievements of a disastrous Presidency. Because of you, we even failed to learn the true extent of the clusterfuck of Bushism. Way to go.

David Vitter watch passes one year

It's day 372 (or so) of the David Vitter resignation watch. The Eliot Spitzer story still has legs (and good ones, at that). Yet Vitter crouches in the Senate, bringing hypocritical honor to that hallowed institution with every defense of traditional marriage.

But who knows who he's calling from the cloakroom! I'm sure the media will get right on it, publishing pictures of his allegedly former honeys in D.C. and the Big Easy.

Yeah, right.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mutts

Can I just pause and agree with a pundit? Ana Marie Cox gets it right on the Obamas' future dog. As my dad likes to say, never get a dog with a better pedigree than yours. We Americans are almost all pretty well mixed at least in national origin. The First Dog should be too.

Igzecative privalige

Nothing new in the Bushist claim that executive privilege protects Duhbya and Darth from ever having to explain anything, so I changed the spelling to Duhb's illiterate version.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

And we thought irony was dead


Click image for full Tom Toles/Washington Post cartoon.

Bushist dream

South Korea has the right(-wing) view of kleptocracy. Business executives are too rich and important to send to jail.

The Bushists can only dream and hope.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Not torture if they change the dictionary

Shorter Douglas Feith: We moved all these tortures into the harsh treatment category, hence we don't torture.

Think of the shit Bill Clinton got for classifying oral as not sex (when that's the definition he was presented with by Paula Jones's lawyers). Yet the Bushists can still expect lock-step Republican defense of classifying waterboarding and forcible stress positions as not torture.

The subcommittee's Republicans criticized the inquiry. The panel's ranking Republican member, Arizona Rep. Trent Franks, accused the majority Democrats of holding hearings "dedicated primarily to making sure we are protecting the rights of terrorists."
It's enough to make you think that the values of the American press are thoroughly self-fellating. Or Republican-fellating (see Ron Fournier kissing some part of Karl Rove's anatomy).

Some people have the courage to speak the truth:
In June, retired U.S. Major Gen. Antonio Taguba, who led the Army's investigation into the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal in 2003, wrote there "is no longer any doubt" that the Bush administration committed war crimes in its treatment of suspected terrorists.

"The only question is whether those who ordered torture will be held to account," Taguba wrote in the preface to a June report by a Massachusetts-based human rights group.

Principled stand

... and Duhbya's principle is that Medicare should be destroyed:

Bush spiked the bill Tuesday, telling lawmakers they would be "taking choices away from seniors to pay physicians."
That way, seniors will have two choices - expensive health care or no health care - versus the current one choice - moderately expensive health care.

Remnick vs. Mencken

David Remnick defends the Republican wet dream cover of the New Yorker:

I think you underestimate the intelligence of the American people, to be quite honest.
H.L. Mencken's anticipatory rejoinder:
No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.
One of the fundamental problems trying to satirize the Republican view of the world is that it's too extreme to exaggerate. There's probably already an email circulating to credulous wingnuts that says, "Even the liberal New Yorker says that Obama is a flag-burning Muslim al Qaeda foreigner with a revolutionary for a wife." (Yeah, true, at a lower reading level and in all caps, but I'm paraphrasing.)

The medium is the message. Remnick went looking for publicity and got it. You think he might be cuing up McCain in Depends?

Their lips are moving

The Bushists lie routinely, habitually, without conscience. It's not even news any more.

But how do you know that they're lying in furtherance of a conspiracy? Not a single one can remember anything about a topic.

Ron Fournier, on the other hand, is embarrassed by the release of his fawning email to Karl Rove. Sucking up to sources was his job, he defends. So this is why the AP sucks! It's a qualification.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Things we already knew

Dan Froomkin notes Andrew Bacevich's review of Jane Mayer's book, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals. The Bushists don't care, and the rest of us already know that we live under an outlaw regime.

Kissing up to NASCAR dads

George H.W. Bush loved pork rinds, and Cindy McCain thinks Danica Patrick looks hot in Sports Illustrated (not!). See, if she had picked one of the most prominent male drivers, half the demographic would have thought that the McCains cheer for an asshole.

Click image for full cheesecake. Severe crop used under Fair Use.

The uses of presbyopia

Eighty-year-old Christian stripper in soft focus...

Don't think about it too much. As LBJ said (I think), even whores and politicians git respectable if they live long enough. Why not strippers?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Posting today unlikely

I'm off lolling in Cape Cod Bay, assuming the weather's good enough, so no dose of media-bashing or Republican-thrashing today, but I scheduled this for you so you don't get lonely (as if).

Why not read the greatest hits of 2008 (as determined by Google Analytics)?

  1. the front page
  2. Florida and Michigan
  3. Journalism 101
  4. West Virginia mountain mama
  5. Jonah Goldberg newspeaks
  6. Leavenworth dreams
  7. Phil Gramm whines
  8. First public statement
  9. Polls close at 8:00
  10. GOP standings to date - the pretenders
If those are too boring or dated, how about these recurring themes?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Limits to backlash

I'm part of the netroots backlash on FISA. At MoveOn's urging, I even sent the Obama campaign a blunt email. On the other hand, I did address it to "future President Obama".

Here's what I got back:

Dear Friend,

Thank you for contacting us and sharing your strong feelings about this important issue. Please find a statement from Senator Obama below.

We appreciate hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Obama for America,

---
Given the grave threats that we face, our national security agencies must have the capability to gather intelligence and track down terrorists before they strike, while respecting the rule of law and the privacy and civil liberties of the American people. There is also little doubt that the Bush Administration, with the cooperation of major telecommunications companies, has abused that authority and undermined the Constitution by intercepting the communications of innocent Americans without their knowledge or the required court orders.

That is why last year I opposed the so-called Protect America Act, which expanded the surveillance powers of the government without sufficient independent oversight to protect the privacy and civil liberties of innocent Americans. I have also opposed the granting of retroactive immunity to those who were allegedly complicit in acts of illegal spying in the past.

After months of negotiation, the House passed a compromise that, while far from perfect, is a marked improvement over last year's Protect America Act. Under this compromise legislation, an important tool in the fight against terrorism will continue, but the President's illegal program of warrantless surveillance will be over. It restores FISA and existing criminal wiretap statutes as the exclusive means to conduct surveillance - making it clear that the President cannot circumvent the law and disregard the civil liberties of the American people. It also firmly re-establishes basic judicial oversight over all domestic surveillance in the future.

It does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I voted in the Senate three times to remove this provision so that we could seek full accountability for past offenses. Unfortunately, these attempts were unsuccessful. But this compromise guarantees a thorough review by the Inspectors General of our national security agencies to
determine what took place in the past, and ensures that there will be accountability going forward. By demanding oversight and accountability, a grassroots movement of Americans has helped yield a bill that is far better than the Protect America Act.

It is not all that I would want. But given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as President, I will carefully monitor the program, review the report by the Inspectors General, and work with the Congress to take any additional steps I deem necessary to protect the lives - and the liberty - of the American people.


----------------------
Paid for by Obama for America
So, it's a straddle. It says, "My heart's in the right place, but my ass is willing to temporize." McCain's heart isn't even close to the right place on FISA (any more).

Politics won't make you happy. Sure, ecstatic for a few minutes, but the reality is always messier and uglier than your ideals, no matter what they are. Even if you're king.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Phil Gramm whines

I guess that makes him a leader. Have you ever heard anything he said that didn't come out as whining?

The post facto excuse that he was whining about the whining of leaders is the most transparent bullshit I've heard since the last time a Republican had to make excuses for something.

Just for the record, here's what Gramm said originally:

We have sort of become a nation of whiners.
Yeah, nothing about leaders.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

McCain refuses comment on Viagra question

"When I was old and irresponsible, I was..."

Oh, not that Viagra question. Nuts.

Even worse

Warren Christopher has denied that he was the pushover portrayed by "Recount", but we now have our proof that he's a fool for Bushist flim-flam. He has signed on with James Baker, who strong-armed him before, to replace the War Powers Act with the War Powers Consultation Act, which would further emasculate Congress:

It requires Congress to vote up or down on a deployment within 30 days, and it permits a cutoff of funds for deployments if approved by two-thirds of the House and Senate.
What Congress is already too weak to do by majority vote, the law would now require a supermajority to do.

Of course, David Broder loves it:
[T]he Florida antagonists have devised a clever way to signal a healthy change toward bipartisanship in foreign policy.
This bipartisanship, his graven idol, is what got us in the shit we're in, but he always wants more of it.

What America really needs is a Congress that will stand up to Bushists, not one that will accept crumbs from the master's table.

Leavenworth dreams

Like Joe Wilson, I dream of Karl Rove frog-marched out of whatever house he besmirches by his mere presence. Isn't Rove in contempt of Congress with every breath he takes?

I dream, but with the wishy-washy Democrats in charge of Congress and the order-taking Mukasey in charge of enforcement at the woefully misnamed Dept. of Justice, I don't expect it.

Update (7/10): Linda Sánchez's definitive slap-down pwns Robert Luskin's bullshit claims of privilege. But no contempt citation - what's the committee waiting for?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I feel safer already

Congress is going to protect my privacy!

At least until some important lobbyist gives them $2300 to look the other way or Duhbya calls them soft...

Obligatory Fair Use to tweak AP's nose:

"This is analogous to AT&T listening to your phone calls all day in order to figure out what to sell you in the middle of dinner," said Robert Topolski, a technology consultant to Public Knowledge and Free Press, two other public interest groups that have raised concerns about NebuAd.

Analyze this

McCain mouthpiece and long-time Duhbya aide Nicolle (sic) Wallace says "Barack Obama falsely accuses John McCain of running for George Bush's third term," and wants the media to do something about it. Yeah, blood 'n' guts McCain is such a maverick that he's larding his team with more and more Bushist political operatives. We all know how urgently they want radical change.

What does Nicolle come up with to differentiate her new product from her old product? Packaging!

While she emphasized that both are "hardworking men," she also added that "they are totally different people." One such difference is McCain's insistence on being in the middle of the media scrum, a setting that Bush did not often enter.
It's good to know that their personalities and taste in conversation set them apart. After all, Duhbya does have a shitty personality, and that's the only reason he ran the country into the crapper.

For all this bullshit, McCNN breathlessly provides a conduit for nothing but McCain campaign spin, and they have the gall to label it "analysis". It's progress of a sort, I guess, that the media are labelling their abject transcriptions as analysis to distinguish them from actual news, but a more honest label would be "press release".

(For some reason, I hope the Mark Preston who wrote this is not the kid I knew from Kenesaw Dr. forty years ago, but I've always been willing to bust the chops of my friends, anyway.)

No Jim Morrison

John McCain's mojo ain't rising. Maybe he should give Bob Dole a call.

McCain was the anti-Republican, the guy who broke with party orthodoxy -- opposing President Bush's tax cuts, opposing offshore drilling and bucking the party line on immigration reform.

Now he's mouthing standard Republican talking points on all of these issues -- agreeing on the president's tax cuts, supporting offshore drilling and touting his border-focused immigration plan.

Love that verb 'mouthing'! But McCain was never an "anti-Republican". It's just that the Republicans expect complete orthodoxy, so now he has to give it to them.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Closing the bullshit gap

Quote from John McCain:

"And also, you can't get over the fact that historically, when you raise people's taxes, guess what, revenue goes down."
Not only can this guy not count or even remember, he can't reason. He believes as an article of Republican faith the fairy tale that revenues always go up because of tax cuts, a happy-talk bullshit claim that Republicans love to spout. Paul Krugman has definitively slapped this down (but he's a shrill liberal, so they cover their ears and go, "na, na, na, I'm not listening").

Then McCain busts all rules of logic and "reasons" that the inverse must also be true (in the myths of Republicanism). McCNN says nothing, of course.

The problem in modern American politics is that openly being stupid is not a disqualifier for the Presidency. Instead, it makes you a man of the people, or the Republican base, anyway. Since Nixon's debacle, even the intelligent Republicans have pretended as hard as they can that they were stupid. Many of them (who could I be thinking of?) didn't (don't) have to pretend.

From the guys who brought you Florida 2000

Warren Christopher and James Baker are concerned about the War Powers Act and the rule of law. Isn't that dreamily bipartisan of them?

Of course, Christopher thinks it's ineffective, while Baker thinks it's unconstitutional. But whatever it is, it's bad law, and the Beltway dyspeptics love it when Democrats sign up to have their pockets picked by Republican operators. Since Christopher has already conceded that the law should go, he has already negotiated away the one thing Republicans care about.

The problem with the War Powers Act is not its framing. The problem is that Congress has proven too weak to use any of its war powers in the face of imperial Presidents. This defect in our democracy is political, not legal.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Can't wait for the pentagram

South Carolina's Christian license plate is a clear establishment of religion by the state government, and it's obviously unconstitutional. It puts one religion above all others, which is exactly what the establishment clause of the First Amendment was meant to prevent.

If the South Carolina government really wanted to get right with the Constitution, they could fix the defects of this law and keep their stained glass plate by simply allowing atheists and all other religions their own plates under exactly the same rules. I for one am really looking forward to the Wicca plate.

In all of this, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer plays as if Christians are set upon in South Carolina. Some martyr he is, pandering to the majority. And he still expects us to swallow his bullshit claim that this might hurt him politically!

Update (7/10): CNN has taken the story down (though their search feature still finds the old URL, but Google has it cached here, at least for now.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

I really tried to keep quiet

Click image for full Joe Liccar/Gatehouse Media cartoon.

... but now I'm lying down with pigs.