Sunday, November 30, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
I'm beginning to think that Norm Coleman might indeed prevail over Al Franken. The reason? The Star Tribune actually gave me what I wanted - a substantial number of ballots viewable on line and the promise of more.
Being the perseverative procrastinator that I am, this was a perfect way to avoid cleaning out the gutters, so I actually assessed all 598 ballots currently viewable. While my numbers differed from the consensus of other get-a-life idiots by a little, Franken still only netted six votes in my count. That's not fast enough, assuming it's representative. Nate Silver, who started me down this path, agrees.
This election was always going to wind up in court if Franken won. With the decision of the Canvassing Board not to review disqualified absentee ballots, it will also wind up in court if Franken loses.
The best outcome in any case: With a transparent process, the democratically elected winner, as best we can determine, will be seated in the Senate. That in itself is a victory, despite the fact that both sides are wasting a lot of time with bullshit challenges. Florida, of course, is not paying attention.
One other thing is obvious: There are voters on both sides who are wildly incapable of following the simplest instructions. That village in Texas? It's not the only one missing its idiot. There are citizens whose votes have never counted since optical scan voting started. I wonder how they get through the day without dying some gruesome accidental death. Were they sick every time their grade school gave a standardized test? Cripes, people. Nonetheless, even though I muttered "fucking idiot" under my breath with alarming frequency, I tried to find their intent and often did.
As Slappy the Squirrel often says, "That's comedy." Or democracy. Your mileage may vary.
It's far from clear why Muslim terrorists attacked civilians in Mumbai, but extremists need enemies. Most of all, when under pressure, they need to share their enemies and their hatreds with the populations that they hide among.
It's easy to stir up long-standing secular and sectarian enmities between India and Pakistan. They're never far below the surface.
Even a war of words between these two nuclear powers will rally Pakistanis to all things Pakistani and all things Islamic, even terrorist organizations. That benefits all the terrorist groups that thrive on chaos.
The U.S. has enough electronic surveillance to know already where these terrorists attacked from. The NSA knows who took their calls in Waziristan. Whether we'll ever know is another question.
Friday, November 28, 2008
I feel just awful that David Broder is stumped about economics. Maybe that's why he likes John McCain so much.
Here's the thing: An effective media would feel obligated to come to grips with actual understanding of the issues. A real press corps wouldn't vacillate from ignorant scandal-mongering to ignorant hagiography. No, I don't need someone else to tell me how gosh-darn smart Barack Obama is, gee whillickers.
What I want from the press is what the blogosphere offers if you blow through enough chaff: a conscientious attempt to learn and analyze the issues and the people, to appeal to expertise when needed, but to put everything through a fine-grained bullshit detector.
What I get from the press: the attitude of middle school cheerleaders, who long since learned that smart is unpopular, who acquire dumbness - posed or not - for social purposes, who shrug in geometry class and steer the conversation to that really cute asshole cut-up football player who was really wasted out by the high tension lines after the game on Friday night. Their only expertise is personality, and frankly they get taken in by every insincere bullshit peddler who has a little flash.
So I guess I'm on my own. I do wish Broder would admit to his ignorance more often. Then maybe he'd give up his retirement in place and get off to addling his grandkids or the friends he could then meet up with every day for breakfast and coffee. Enough coasting on work he did fifty years ago.
For all the politicians who have been caught in sex scandals in 2008, the media is thankful. Bill Schneider gets a jump on the boring rehash stories that elite journalists love to file in December so they can get on with their shopping and their holiday drinking. "Hey, I filed at ten this morning; I've got nothing else to do today."
But this one has a seasonal theme! His news hook is that politicos are turkeys. Ha ha. Good one! Get it?
Whenever anyone says anything kind about Bill Schneider's work, I'm going to think of bullshit packaged as news. How can he possibly list political turkeys of 2008 without Duhbya and Darth finishing one-two?
Instead, Obama makes the list. Twice! And one of them recycles the old presumption story about the Presidential seal knock-off. I guess it's obvious that the media are going to find their watchdog role, you know, the one they left in their other pants during the Bushist years.
Sarah Palin doesn't make the list at all, except when cast in a positive light. Must restrain fickle finger of fate! Must not tell the perfect story about political turkeys getting blood-drained. That would be too thematic. "Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, having ditched her $150,000 RNC wardrobe and now once again accessorizing with a cup of joe (not the plumber), smiled and gabbed for the camera while Thanksgiving turkeys had their heads ground off in the background."
I guess Schneider filed even earlier than 10:00 a.m.
Oh, by the way, it's David Vitter watch, day 505. A known two-timing two-faced two time loser of a john still sits in the Senate.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
In my personal life, I have much to be thankful for, but I'm not going to get into the details here. That posting would go on too long for anyone to read all the way to the end.
So, to my political thankfulness:
I'm thankful to live in a democracy, which for all its problems, is still functioning. I'm thankful not to suffer the fate of Cassandra, that the country has caught up and thrown off the scourge of Bushism, by a mandate-creating margin, although not by the deserved landslide. I'm thankful for the freedom to make all the noise I want about the things that are wrong or even those that should be better.
I'm thankful that Barack Obama appeared at just this moment in history. It is exceptionally rare that someone who is at once both insane and self-confident enough to want to be President is also so even and calm and brilliant as he is. Even more rare is that he appears to be able to assess his own weaknesses, which is why I think he's surrounding himself with all the old and experienced hands, even if they represent gradual change, rather than something more sudden and bracing.
I'm thankful that every single mark I put on my ballot this election was a vote that won. My head is still dizzy with that one. I put my strongest grassroots efforts into a local state rep race, and the very impressive candidate I helped won. She could have done it without me even though it was close, but she's the kind of person who sustains my belief in self-government.
I'm thankful that, despite growing trouble in every sector, the economy still employs me. I can still afford to live in and heat my home. I still eat well. I still have heath care.
There is a lot to be thankful for.
But a body was missing in this case, and so was another element that former prosecutors and law enforcement officials said is crucial to solving a case: public pressure.To solve the disappearance and presumed murder of a 5-year-old boy requires public pressure! It seems to me that the police in this case are bemoaning their own low expectations.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
The Star-Tribune of Minneapolis-St. Paul analyzed 2700 rejected absentee ballots and found that a third of them were rejected due to signature problems. That's not exactly an objective criterion (say, the deadline for arrival or the requirement to have a witness). Most of these badly signed ballots are probably legitimate votes from legitimate voters whose signatures are simply variable.
The question: What appeal if any is available to overrule the opinion of the amateur graphologists in election offices?
There's a lot more history than you and I learned in high school:
Our history is littered with bleak tableaus that show what happens when righteous certitude is mixed with fearful ignorance. Which is why this Thanksgiving, as we express gratitude for America’s bounty and promise, we would do well to reflect on all our histories, including a forgotten French one that began on Florida’s shores so many years ago.This is another example of why we need separation of church and state. Even so, the present frequent mix of righteous certitude and fearful ignorance needs more than just the First Amendment.
Whenever there's a news story that touches on unions at all, the virulent union-haters show up in comments threads. They blame the union for everything that has gone wrong. The UAW pushed American automakers into mortal peril. Teachers' unions actively prevent public education.
Why? Why is union boss so much more fearsome than boss?
Unions are far from perfect, of course. So are governments. After the past eight years, that much is obvious. After eight years of President Obama, it will still be obvious, though less so. But corporations and other businesses are imperfect, too. They're human institutions, built and run by fallible people. Hell, even religious institutions are often deeply fallible, no matter whose descent and imprimatur they claim.
Ruth Marcus writes all kinds of stuff about Michelle Obama, but it all comes down to this:
She is, after all -- by résumé, anyway -- more Hillary than Jackie. But the painful paradox of campaign 2008 is that it came tantalizingly close to giving us an Ivy League-educated female lawyer in the Oval Office but yielded an Ivy League-educated female lawyer sketching out a supremely traditional first lady role.Its meaning: This is Thanksgiving week and Marcus could write her column in an hour without the need for so much as a single phone call.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Gloria Borger takes John Boehner to task for whinging about the size of the stimulus that President-elect Barack Obama is already working toward.
[W]hen House Minority Leader John Boehner gripes, as he did Sunday in a same-old, same-old refrain that "the American people know that more Washington spending isn't the answer," the logical response is: OK, what do you suggest? Obama has already suggested tax cuts for the middle class, so you can't start with that. Got anything better to offer?No, sorry. True as far as it goes, but Boehner is completely irrelevant. Why is Borger even quoting him? The logical response is, "Shut up." We don't need him. We don't want him. We've had waaay too much of his so-called ideas. He has a choice that hardly matters to policy: Vote against the stimulus and hope it fails or vote for it and try to steal some credit.
I hope that Obama will call Congress into session on the afternoon of Inauguration Day itself for final passage of the stimulus. If the Republicans want to filibuster that extraordinary event, broadcast live and worldwide, let 'em try. Even if we lose in both Minnesota and Georgia, we only need two Republican Senators, and it would be my guess that in the whole Republican caucus, there are at least two GOPers who don't want to be on the wrong side of this one.
And the media need to learn that psychotically ideological extremists like John Boehner are out of power. They might as well quote some alcoholic dickhead ranting along with talk radio. Oh, yeah, they still do that.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Hannity and Colmes is now just Hannity. Big whoop. Even for Colmes, twelve years in an abusive marriage was enough.
AP reporter David Bauder must be floating his résumé inside Fox. Is there any other reason he would report this story as if the Fox News line were the slightest bit straight, instead of the usual Roger Ailes (the house of ill repute in this case) bullshit.
Silly me, I expect an honest reporter to acknowledge that Colmes has consciously been a designated victim and only a poser, not a real liberal. I mean, please, Al Franken could see it years ago, and he's in comedy.
David Frum's stock in trade is the division of Democrats. What he says is more instructive about him and his fellow Bushist Republicans than it is about us Democrats.
In short, he's describing the Obama administration as if it were run by a bunch of Republicans. But it isn't.
The President can't be normal. The world has too many deadly things in it. The day is gone when a President could walk the streets in search of perspective, an unfiltered view, citizen contact, or even a little fresh air and exercise.
The public question (as opposed to Obama's questions about his own enjoyment of life) is how to live in the security bubble without entering an information bubble. Every President needs a kitchen cabinet of old and trusted friends who'll still tell him the truth, instead of whatever they think he wants to hear.
I'm thrilled to finally have a President who still plays hoops, and I think he should make sure not to lose that. Basketball is a great pot-stirring sport. Those of us who love it may have nothing else in common, but we do find common ground on the court.
Yes, we jaw and foul and hand-check and drop-step and put a little extra into the box out and argue and talk trash, too. And hack, most of all we hack. Then, we either create space and prove it, or we don't.
The President-elect needs space where he can be "plain old Barack," and the bosom of his family is essential but not enough. He should play competitive hoops regularly for as long as his body can stand it, which is unlikely to be eight more years.
And if no one else will D up and tell him to bring whatever weak shit he's got left, I'm available. Of course, I'm older than he is, so I probably wouldn't be the one who could prove it. But I'm not ever going to let him score. He'd have to earn it.
That's what makes a democracy different from a monarchy. And different from Bushism.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
When Saudi King Abdullah speaks about religious liberty, which he is manifestly opposed to, he's probably trying to ban blasphemy, which is an attack on religious liberty, but it's still a good thing because it's dialog.
My problem with this happy talk? I'm looking for more than lip service. Hiding legal mandates against certain thoughts in the dressy rhetoric of freedom doesn't seem like a positive under any circumstances.
Update: Philosoraptor provides a link to the Christian Science Monitor piece that started the conversation.
With the incredible shrinking Duhbya no longer a good source of much fun - oh, is he still around? - one of the reasons for Sarah Palin's continued pandemic presence is that she's comedy gold. We already have enough economic problems without lapsing into a ridicule shortage.
So, since Barack Obama's ample ears are just not enough to close that gap, here's something the Republicans can actually do for the country: Cough up some more ridiculous posers who are willing, nay, eager to sacrifice their dignity before Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, and Stephen Colbert.
Click image for full G.B. Trudeau cartoon.
Ditzy weather babes are so 1974, but even so Sarah Palin has much better prospects in the green room than in the White House. Everything else from the 1970s has come back retro (except, thankfully, for striped pants). Why not the first toe-hold of vapid media? Palin is perfect for this age of hype and bullshit.
My old college roommates haven't lost their brilliance in the past nearly thirty years.
B. said, "I was disappointed by all the headlines about racial barriers overcome. We voted for the smart guy with the judgement and insight to have a chance to solve the problems we face."
"Yeah, and that's a huge barrier to overcome, too."
Update (11/24): Another classmate nails it. No, I didn't know him.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
I thought it was below zero, at least for Yale. Even Irish whiskey in a plastic water bottle couldn't keep my fingers and toes from going numb. Our seats weren't as good as Ted Kennedy's...
Almost forgot: The Yalies couldn't see my T-shirt through all the other layers - Duhbya looking goofy, over the caption "Blame Yale".
But they know.
We can make the Minnesota recount better.
For every challenged ballot, there's no reason not to put a photo of the challenged ballot and the challenge itself on line. Let the people see. Let the people judge for themselves
Democratizing the evidence would convince everyone (nearly) of the legitimacy of the election, and that's something we could use.
Update (11/23): Minnesota Public Radio has a few challenged ballots on display. There are a few close calls, but there are some embarrassing challenges for both sides (e.g. ballot 2 on day 1 by Franken and ballots 1 and 8 on day 1 by Coleman).
Friday, November 21, 2008
No, not that nasty smell in my study due to a dead mouse in the walls. That whiff I can cover up with a scented candle - until I decide that's worse.
The influence? Someone who has actually posted on this blog (probably) is on CNN's list for Secretary of Commerce. Guess I won't be hearing from "goolsbee" any more. Of course, after that foofaraw about NAFTA and the Canadians early in the campaign, I'm skeptical, so maybe he will be back here.
Please don't leave me to the tender mercies of the wingnuts!
The only reason to sympathize with Michael Mukasey is ill health, and of course I wish him a speedy recovery.
"The attorney general is conscious, conversant and alert," said Carr. "His vital statistics are strong and he is in good spirits."(Vital statistics? Does he look good in a bathing suit?)
What I do not wish is for him to continue to abuse America with defenses of torture, the execrable Federalist Society, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, and the rest of the Bushists. CNN, of course, gives us the bullshit story Mukasey testilied to during his confirmation, without noticing that subsequent events have proven it to be bullshit.
The Senate extends unemployment benefits. That'll help Ted Stevens pay for his appeal. You can't eat applause, you know.
Seriously, unemployment pay is exactly the sort of bailout that will definitely help the economy. It's a countercyclical Keynesian economic stimulus that will put dollars in the pockets of people who will spend them, instead of hoarding them for fire sale acquisitions, as Paulson and the Bushists have allowed banks to do.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
If restoring America's commercial branding after the Bushist debasement is the highest ambition the media talks about, we've clearly lost sight of what's really important in our national conversation.
How about this: Obama is trying to restore America to our most sacred founding ideals? Would that not be mercantile enough?
Put money in the purse.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Much of the commentary on the proposed automaker bailout has focused on the injustice of bailing them out. Conservatives have blathered about autoworkers making $70 an hour. Liberals have pointed out how badly managed American auto companies are, how they doubled down on gas guzzlers at a time when cheap oil obviously could not go on for much longer.
If you don't think that was obvious, particularly if you think it's still not obvious, here's rhetorical question: Do you really think the Chinese and the Indians are going to stick with bicycles just so you can tootle down the block in your Hummer for a half gallon of organic milk?
Commentary about justice, including my own, misses the point. The decision whether or not to bail out the automakers is, like all the previous bailout decisions, about national self-interest. Would spending the money repay us in the long run? Would the bankruptcy of these companies contribute more to the bankruptcy of our entire economy than the cost of saving them? That's what GM wants Congress to think:
"It's about saving the US economy from a catastrophic collapse," GM chairman Rick Wagoner told the Senate Banking Committee.Even though it's short money compared to what we've already done, I'm not convinced, especially not under the management of the Bushists. I might consider a bridge loan to get us to Jan. 20 and a competent, much less crony capitalist administration.
Last, a few meta-comments:
- As usual, the conservative viewpoint is viscerally anti-union, and it gets its facts wrong. Autoworkers don't make $70 an hour. They average $28 per hour, or $56,000 per year if there are no furloughs and no overtime hours. The $70 per hour number includes the overhang from retired workers. Most of that is health care and would come off the companies' balance sheets if the U.S. had single payer health care.
- Government intervention in the marketplace can work, can improve our lives. The Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act are good examples, even though they did not use efficient mechanisms that most economists, probably rightly, prefer. Both attempted to remove from profitability the exploitation of a common resource through price externalities. No, this isn't a non sequitur. If only the federal government had enacted stricter CAFE regulations, GM, Chrysler, and Ford wouldn't be in as deep a hole as they are now.
- The upshot: Industry lobbyists are never focused on the long run, or the carmakers and the UAW wouldn't have opposed single payer and CAFE the way they have. Don't listen to them!
Wagoner said the loans were essential to provide a bridge that can get the automakers safely across "the financial chasm before us," and promised "we will repay the taxpayers' faith many times over."it's bullshit. He can't possibly know this.
Update (11/24): Here's the straight info. Propagation of the lie continues unabated, of course.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Put yourself in Alaska's position. When would you vote in favor of a convicted felon?
No, never is not the answer I'm looking for. There are worse choices than a felon, though not often. Edwin Edwards, whatever the state of his rap sheet at the time of election, was better than the repellent racist David Duke.
Alaska has now made its choice not to re-elect a convicted felon. By a hair over one percent. A hundred and forty-seven thousand Alaskans thought that patronage hack and convicted felon Ted Stevens should be re-elected because at least he wasn't a Democrat, and you know they'll bring the end of ... what, exactly?
Of course, I wouldn't expect the felon to acknowledge defeat any more than he has acknowledged his convictions.
For all us boys and girls keeping score at home, that's 58-40. Is Joe Lieberman in Georgia yet?
The idiot Senate Democrats let the fox back into the chicken coop, without even an insincere apology. My party needs a few people that everyone knows you can't fuck with without paying a steep price. Instead, the weak Reid caucus tells the world: Screw us again; we like it.
Monday, November 17, 2008
If Joe Lieberman is serious about making nice with actual honest Democrats, why isn't he in Georgia with Jim Martin demanding to know why John McCain has completely flip-flopped on the dishonor of Saxby Chambliss? Or is holy scolding only for us on the left of the aisle?
Duhbya's White House blithely ignored the Presidential Records Act, but Obama will have to give up his BlackBerry to comply:
But before he arrives at the White House, he will probably be forced to sign off. In addition to concerns about e-mail security, he faces the Presidential Records Act, which puts his correspondence in the official record and ultimately up for public review, and the threat of subpoenas.I don't buy it. As long as his friends know that their correspondence is going to be an open book in five to twelve years after the end of the administration or could be subpoenaed, and as long as Obama refrains from classified discussions, the only reason for him to give up his back channel is that it's a time sink. He seems disciplined enough to me to handle that.
Can we please at least pretend that law can work in ways that make sense?
Phil Gramm is the perfect face of late 20th century Republicanism - arrogant, mean, stupid, self-important, and devoid of all doubts. When faced with proof of his own turpitude, he blames everyone else.
Over the years, he has urged that food stamps be cut because “all our poor people are fat,” said it was hard for him “to feel sorry” for Social Security recipients and, as the economy soured last summer, called America “a nation of whiners.”He has a Ph.D. in economics, but it only provides him with factoids by which to rationalize his obviously failed laissez-faire ideology. And, yeah, he's from Texas. What are they putting in the water down there?
Fortunately, the 20th century is good and over.
When did CBS last want to engage a liberal commentator to oversee an investigation into a story that liberals objected to? Has that ever happened?
It's a business. Public image is its most important concern in any story. You can't count on the big media for the truth when their money needs a whitewash.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Handy cow chip on his shoulder as usual, Jeff Jacoby touts Sarah Palin, thereby confirming everything negative I already thought about her.
He also calls Camille Paglia a Democrat, which if Paglia ever claimed it was a lie. And Jacoby knows it's a lie, but he thinks he can get away with it since Salon publishes her.
Paglia is a complete loon, although she can frame a grammatical sentence, even if usually her sentences have no referent in reality, just like someone else who's not quite so grammatical.
Seriously, how can Jim Nance not know that the call of illegal forward pass (which, frankly, I didn't see) on the final play of the Pittsburgh-San Diego game ends the play? Nance makes his living doing this. You'd think they might trouble himself to learn the rules of the game he's announcing. What about the confused head linesman? The refs aren't full-time, but they make good money.
We live in an age when knowledge is not highly valued. Entertainment is better. The truck will feed Nance the rest.
The truth is of course that the review at the end was about one thing: sports betting. Did Pittsburgh cover the spread? Without the freak and now nullified TD, no.
Update: I'm sorry I was an asshole with this. I've since heard that the play is supposed to go forward. Even if I had been right, I was massively uncharitable about something that is clearly a source of much doubt and confusion, so I apologize to Jim Nance and the refs, regardless.
Humility is a virtue to be reminded of every now and then.
Joe, make your choice. That's what you did for McCain. Make your new choice now. Which caucus do you want to be in? Do you want to sit next to Jon Kyl? Your seniority lapsed when you went out on your own.
Harry, it's going to be 58-42 without Lieberman. The path to 60 runs through Maine (and other places), not Connecticut. Let Joe make his choice, no strings. Of course, you'll want to string him along until Georgia reelects Chambliss, the invidious jerk.
If Rudy Giuliani has read Rudyard Kipling lately, his own self-imputed manliness may have fooled him - and CNN - into believing that he still has Presidential prospects.
In fact, Giuliani was adamantly rejected by the Republican Party, long before the normal people in America had a chance to pile on. The more people saw of Giuliani, the less they liked him, and these were Republican base voters, not exactly the most discerning witnesses to history in an America that couldn't really give a shit about any history that's not transparently mythic.
Giuliani is a has-been who clings to his press operation. For some reason, CNN has yet to figure that out. And here I thought the reason Ted Turner started CNN was to give America something besides New York.
Get these damn lame duck Republicans off my TV screen. They lost. They are out of power. They are virtually irrelevant. They have no ideas, as proven by the last eight years and fully portended by the decade or more before that. No good ideas, anyway.
Let them sit at home on Sunday mornings, thinking instead of bloviating for the wingnuts.
Seriously, is there a rule on television that one single Democrat is the limit?
(Yes, I am poaching on Atrios's longtime theme.)
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Rick Davis extends an olive branch to the Sarah Palin in 2012 faction of Republicans. Of course, the peace offering is pure bullshit: They failed to manage properly the $150,000 expenditure on her clothing.
Look, no one else ever in the history of American politics needed heavy management to make this work. Palin didn't prepare, and the Republicans threw money at it because they knew the fundamental appeal of their VP pick was her appearance, and they needed to package her as well as they could.
And all she brought to Arizona was a fleece top and a pair of skanky sweatpants.
California Prop 8 passed narrowly on the basis of lies. You don't have to believe me. There it is above in living color.
- Prop 8 = Religious Freedom as long as you choose our religious view
- Prop 8 = Less Government if by less you mean more prohibitions
- Prop 8 = Free Speech which was never in question
Even more outrageous: The proponents made their appeal through the conservative churches, but now they want to go back to their media immunity from criticism.
Sorry, thumpers, ain't happenin'. Religion is welcome in the public square, but you'll have to take your lumps like the rest of us. You want to venture outside the sacred? You'll get the profane, too.
Friday, November 14, 2008
With Duhbya still in charge, the United States is deeply at risk, yet Bushists are complaining about Obama filling the leadership vacuum:
"He is immediately muscling his way into power," complains former Bush speechwriter David Frum. "Barack Obama said at his first press conference that the US has only one president at a time. He didn't say who that president was."Stop whining you stupid git. Don't pretend you're so fond of self-service colonoscopy that you can't tell what Obama was saying - and did say. If your guy hadn't screwed the pooch in every possible way, he would still have enough of a reservoir of good will to perform his lame duck caretaker role for eleven weeks. But Duhbya is a total, disastrous loss, and it's a blessing that Obama has the sense to step in symbolically before he can step in in reality. The alternative is for all of us together to step even further into the deepest shit the Republicans can extrude.
These Republicans are like the 12-year-old neighborhood dipshit who throws rocks at you and your friends and then runs home to mommy for protection. Nothing's ever his fault, but you are always somehow at fault for being such an inviting target.
Even if they had figured out how to get the blood out, those stupid stains are impossible to treat. Cripes, they didn't even have the wit to hide the bloodstains and to tell the clerk that one's wife needed to get stains out, much less to burn the stained clothing. These losers are a lot more than a few bricks shy of a load.
Just you wait, there's going to be a sexual abuse aspect of this case or at least involuntary imprisonment. That should get the charge upgraded to murder one.
Can someone explain why Saxby Chambliss appeals to Georgians? Is his blowhard conservatism enough to overcome the fact that he's clearly a son of a bitch? Y'know, he may be an SOB, but he's our SOB.
What he did to Max Cleland with the eventual approval of Georgia voters in 2002 continues to keep me in a slow burn. Keeping oneself safe from the draft is apparently only unforgivable in a Democrat.
But even in a guy named Saxby? Republicans would cast doubt on the manhood and even sexual orientation of any Democrat so unfortunate as to have parents effete enough to name him Saxby.
I have real doubts about our ability to win this run-off election, which leaves us at 59 in the Senate. (Yes, I think we're going to win both Alaska and Minnesota.)
I've defended ACORN against the scurrilous Republican assaults, but this is something I'm going to have to wait and see about. If a million dollars is missing, the board you appoint to get to the bottom of it had better not be a whitewash.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
It is essential for America as a force for good to take a long, hard look at the evil the Bushists have done in our name. The investigation will hurt, but, like surgery for cancer, it has to be done for our ideals to survive.
If Duhbya's pre-emptive stroke is to issue a blanket pardon, I only hope naively that we can learn to prevent that the next time:
[W]e should also prohibit the President from pardoning or commuting the sentence of any member of his (or her) administration who was high enough to be confirmed by Congress or who is yet a potential witness to an investigation of a confirmed appointee. Accountability! It's a bitch, baby. Again, too late for the Bushist crime syndicate, but we should at least learn the right lessons from the mugging they've given us.
Of course I shouldn't judge people based on their appearance, at least not those aspects out of their control, but I can still see why this guy needs a racist ideology to tell him how great he is.
Mark Potok, though, gets the KKK right:
"Really, it's a pathetic collection of losers and thugs," Potok said. "Even across the radical right most people look down their nose at the Klan these days."
So. Election day voters, who should have known that Ted Stevens had seven felony convictions under his belt, were more likely to vote for him than early and absentee voters. I guess his bullshit denial that he had been convicted of anything (pending appeal) worked.
Now I understand how Alaska could elect Sarah Palin. It probably is better for one's sanity to think of politics as entertainment. Not however better for one's government...
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Seventy percent of white Americans did not dream of this new day. Seventy percent of white Americans do not share Martin Luther King's dream. Seventy percent of white Americans mystify me.
I guess they don't want to admit what an unlikely and unexpected achievement Barack Obama's election is. Then they'd have to admit the history of racism that we are trying to throw off. That's the more flattering explanation, anyway.
You can see them in big media comments sections everywhere propounding epochally stupid thoughts about how Obama isn't really black. He's half-white, you see. One drop rule? Never heard of it. Yet there they are in racist denial.
Maybe in a few years the 28% of white Americans that I belong to will grow as reasonable people in the 70% realize how stupid their answer to this question was.
Duhbya still lies like this:
"They had a sign that said 'Mission Accomplished.' It was a sign aimed at the sailors on the ship, but it conveyed a broader knowledge. To some it said, well, Bush thinks the war in Iraq is over, when I didn't think that. But nonetheless, it conveyed the wrong message.""They" were the members of his own advance team. They set up the camera angles so that the banner was unmistakable. They wrote the speech that didn't make any such distinction.
... a red and blue Nebraska, where the second Congressional district is poised to give its electoral vote to Obama!
(The New York Times describes the EV allocation that Nebraska uses, though inaccurately. Nebraska, like Maine, gives its two Senatorial EVs to the statewide winner and the votes of each of its Congressional districts to the winner in each district. The word proportional doesn't begin to show that.)
What I liked best from the story:
“You can either get instant results or quality results,” [Douglas County’s elections commissioner, Dave Phipps] said this week. “We’re going with quality every time.”Sounds like a Democrat, but he's not. Maybe there's hope for the Republicans yet.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
... my grandfather, age 21 and a lieutenant in training at Ft. Benning, Georgia, wept. Not for joy. Not for the false promise of missed glory.
The war for Europe was not finished, he feared, and further events of the twentieth century proved him right, even if those events could not prove any hypothetical remedy he might have had in mind.
My other grandfather fought in WWII. Instead of being late, he came home early with a Bronze Star to compensate for shrapnel, some of which is now buried with him.
He told me many years later that there were two people, both Americans, he would still kill - the jeep driver who took one look at him bloody and wounded and left him to die by the side of the road in France, and the 4F back home who laughed at him in 1945 when he instinctively rolled out of his car as a light plane flew over.
Today, we honor men and now women like this. Every one of them has a story as important as my grandfathers. We honor them for the sacrifices they make in our name. We do this whether or not we honor the political leaders who put them in harm's way.
And the volunteers in today's military who are not yet lucky enough to be veterans? They too are making tremendous and inadequately appreciated sacrifices.
While you're on this topic, go and read Tom Levenson's thoughts.
If Republicans really want "to erase any remnant of the Bush legacy," it should be easy for them to push forward impeachment, even at this late date. Make Nancy Pelosi take a stand!
It is remarkable to hear Newt Gingrich posing for the cameras as a moderate member of the loyal opposition:
“I think the party should be very selective,” he said. “We’ve had an election. The new president and his family should be in our prayers. We should give every indication that we will work with him when we can. But we should be comfortable disagreeing with him when we have to.”The key words, though, are "give every indication". For Newt, this is about appearance, not reality.
Sarah Palin was a broadcast journalism major? No wonder it took nearly as many colleges for her to get her degree as John McCain has houses.
"Don't let me miss the open door. Show me where the open door is and even if it's cracked up a little bit, maybe I'll just plow right on through that and maybe prematurely plow through it, but don't let me miss an open door. And if there is an open door in '12 or four years later, and if it is something that is going to be good for my family, for my state, for my nation, an opportunity for me, then I'll plow through that door," Palin said in an interview with Fox News Monday.The gleeful misanthrope in me hopes that the Republicans nominate her in 2012. Then I remember "The Butterfly Effect", and my responsible side shudders. Don't step off the path!
Norm Coleman, like Duhbya before him, is visibly willing to ignore what voters want in order to win an election. Essentially, they want the rule to be that Republicans take all statistical ties.
These Republicans don't give the slightest shit about legitimacy or the consent of the governed. This departure from the American democratic consensus is still shocking to me.
A margin of 206 votes among 2.4 million cast is without a doubt not definitive. If we've learned anything from the past decade of election controversies, it's that we do not have voting technology or human organizations that are capable of a low enough error rate to measure at a precision of one vote in 10,000.
The worst feature of our vote-counting systems is that we don't test them at all thoroughly. Every election should include post-vote audits. Some of these audits should recount every ballot. At least then we would know how inaccurate our elections might be.
That would be a good thing for a democracy to know.
Monday, November 10, 2008
The Republicans have their eyes on the money - billions for their friends and fellow crony capitalists.
"It's just like after September 11. Back then no one wanted to be seen as not patriotic, and now no one wants to be seen as not doing all they can to save the financial system," said Lee A. Sheppard, a tax attorney who is a contributing editor at the trade publication Tax Analysts. "We're left now with congressional Democrats that have spines like overcooked spaghetti. So who is going to stop the Treasury secretary from doing whatever he wants?"In a just world, Congress would immediately impeach Henry Paulson.
We don't live in a just world. We live in a world where Bushists do whatever they damn well please and dare anyone to stop them. And, by the way, this is what Republicans mean by bipartisanship.
(h/t Barry Ritholtz)
Harry, tell Joe Lieberman he can start rebuilding his Democratic cred by keeping his mouth shut and voting with you until 2010. Otherwise, he can go kiss Mitch McConnell's tobacco-stained ass.
Oh, and change the filibuster rule to 55. Put McConnell in the position of needing to win support across the aisle instead of simply saying nyet to everything.
At every moment, remind the Republicans that they are the ones who screwed collegiality. But don't let them screw you, too.
An administration that the voters have resoundingly rejected plans to make policy over the next ten weeks. Just as it was with the Clinton Administration, even though I agreed with many of those policies, this is a bad feature of our long latency between election and power.
In a slower world, it worked. In a world where honorable people on both sides observed the results of elections, it worked. Everyone understood that we had a caretaker government.
We no longer live in that world. We instead live with Republicans for whom time-honored but extra-legal norms (redistricting once per decade, comity in the Senate instead of 60 votes to do anything, accuracy trumping speed in vote-counting, limits on executive power, etc.) are so much frippery to be discarded. Some conservatives!
Consequently, we need, as we previously recognized in the Twentieth Amendment, to move forward Inauguration Day. How about the Tuesday before Thanksgiving? That would certainly be appropriate this year, even if this is way too late for 2008.
While we're at this, no more lame duck sessions of Congress! Election the first Tuesday in November, oath of office on New Inauguration Day.
Lest you think there's not enough time for the inevitable recounts, there should be real and explicit provision for a real caretaker government. But the truth is that hand recounts can easily be accomplished in that period - if you really try. And it's certainly time for strict Federal election standards. The patchwork of bullshit we have now is laughably ridiculous. I'm embarrassed to live in a first world country with such third world voting practices.
As long as we're reforming the political process, we should also prohibit the President from pardoning or commuting the sentence of any member of his (or her) administration who was high enough to be confirmed by Congress or who is yet a potential witness to an investigation of a confirmed appointee. Accountability! It's a bitch, baby. Again, too late for the Bushist crime syndicate, but we should at least learn the right lessons from the mugging they've given us.
Update (11/21): Paul Krugman's take on the policy vacuum under the lame duck Bushists.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Barack Obama should concentrate on three things in the first 100 days of his first term - the economy, the economy, and the economy.
Of course, many other policy aspects of the mess that faces him bear on the economy - health care certainly, Iraq of course, and energy. Education matters, too, in the long run, but even longer than more drilling would take to stabilize the oil market.
In keeping with this needed stress on the economic health of America, I'm offering a new feature at top right with a blog list of economics sites. I expect to keep adding to and subtracting from it as time - and hopefully the crisis - passes.
One interesting site that didn't have a feed for the blog list: Nouriel Roubini's home page. Roubini had been predicting economic catastrophe for a long time, and facts have caught up with him.
Remember the VP buzz that our media spent at least half the summer on, feeding us planted stories filled with bullshit all along?
Now there's Cabinet buzz. It's similarly filled with bullshit.
What are the purposes of this type of buzz?
- The media get to print a compost pile full of stories that don't require much effort or get in the way of hitting the nearest watering hole.
- People who want positions use the buzz their PR people generate to put their names in play.
- The incoming administration gets to compliment people it has no intention of appointing - Gates, probably.
- The administration gets the vetting started (but this is a really minor effect, since it would require the press to, you know, actually investigate something).
Title: "No honeymoon for Obama"
Whether there's a similar memo or not, the RNC has already exposed its immediate goal. Hint: It's not to help the country with its economic crisis.
The RNC's immediate goal is, as it always is, purely political. They want to pin the Democrats down under a hail of sniper fire, to keep them from doing what they were elected to do.
Just ask yourself: When those yammerheads were in power, how bipartisan were they? I will really be happy when John Boehner can't get anyone in the press to write down, much less print, his oily, insincere, bullshit quotes.
At every step, the Democrats will be more bipartisan, though the word bipartisan no longer means including the other party's backstabbers, say, Joe Lieberman or Zell Miller.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
He said this:
Attending an event with Mr. McCain in York, Pa., in August, Mr. Lieberman said the race was “between one candidate, John McCain, who has always put the country first, worked across party lines to get things done, and one candidate who has not.”My magnanimity is waning. I have nothing against the horse Joe rode in on. Joe, on the other hand, ...
A lot of people are kissing ass now. They think one little pruny-lipped peck is enough. In reality, they owe some serious and continuing open-mouthed smooching, so much that it really looks as though they like it. Joe? I don't even want to be as crude as to say what he has to do.
Eric Fehrnstrom waxes nostalgic for the gatekeeping of big media. What he really misses is outlets he can bully and bullshit. He used to know the game. Now he's just another punk.
What matters in the new media age is reputation. Readers who want to judge the credibility of what they read have to remember the names of writers - or their consistent pseudonyms. The publisher is no longer paramount.
After all, the Boston Globe published Fehrnstrom, and, as many of the commenters point out, his credibility is low, approaching zero.
After the polls closed on Tuesday, a friend and local legislative candidate called me to get the results from my town. I didn't have them yet, but I told her my guess: Narrow loss in one precinct and slightly larger win in the other, adding up to a narrow win for her here.
Fifteen minutes later, I had unofficial results, and I had been spot on. What a rush to have my finger on the pulse! (Or is that my pulse noticing when I'm given the finger?)
Predicting the Electoral College, I had the benefit of reams of polling, well explicated in many places, especially at fivethirtyeight.com. Buoyed by Nate Silver's confidence there, I put my marker down at 353-185. Of course, it is true that I suffered for days after with flopsweat and fear of dark deeds. It's also true that I titled my prediction "Wild-ass guess."
True, I'm proud that, with Missouri still out, the only state I missed was Indiana going for Obama. If Mizzou eventually votes for McCain, I'll be 50 of 51, though anyone who knows the word 'predict' should be able to call D.C. for the Democrat well in advance. In fact, let me be the first to declare that Obama wins D.C. in 2012.
It feels great to be right with so little effort, and that, I think, is the attraction. It's why big media spends so much time gazing into crystal balls instead of reporting actual events which have already happened. Not only do they spend time predicting and outlining what a prediction will mean when it comes true, they also argue about each other's predictions, as if they could settle the question inside the half hour.
Looking into the future is a mook's game. Despite movies like Déjà Vu and Minority Report, it's not possible to know what's going to happen for sure. We'd be much better served by the media if they would concentrate on what is instead of what might be tomorrow.
In response to the allegations that she was ill-prepared for interviews and debate, Randy Scheunemann, an aide assigned to Palin, called her "brilliant" and said she has a "photographic memory."If Sarah Palin has a photographic memory, then her eyes have been closed a lot.
The claim that is more plausible despite being anonymous:
One source involved in preparing Palin for interviews and the vice-presidential debate told CNN "she had not paid attention to a single policy debate that's gone on in this country for 10 years."Lily Ledbetter? Wasn't she on "The Beverly Hillbillies"?
Friday, November 7, 2008
Never mind that Tony Perkins got inside the beast's belly by doing more self-service (and self-serving) colonoscopy. He sees the Republican coalition the way I do:
"What has made the conservative movement strong is when you have social conservatives, fiscal conservatives and foreign policy conservatives working together," he said.Yep, fundies, wealthies, and bullies. Perkins puts his own group first even though it's clear that the wealthies own the Republican Party and steer it.
Perkins, of course, believes a whole heavenly host of things that are bullshit. For example:
"Moderates never beat conservatives. We've seen that in past elections," he said.I guess a primary is not an election. Go figure. And, of course, John McCain is only a moderate if you're a frothing, quivering wingnut. But that's their story, and they're sticking to it.
They're just ignoring all the moderate Democrats who've beaten wingnuts. But by their definition, all Dems are lunatic socialists, and they can't see any differences after their decades-long one-size-fits-all vilification.
Eliot Spitzer is not going to have to sit in Rikers or even in Danbury, but David Vitter still sits in the U.S. Senate.
I gotta admit I would have been curious to see whether Spitzer's prison tats looked like Ashley Alexandra Dupré's. I'm sure the media would have been all over that story. If only...
Then they could have run all that art again.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Duhbya used to say that elections have consequences. Now the phrase is all over the left blogosphere.
I'm ready to apply it to Joe Lieberman. If Harry Reid is not, time for a new Senate Majority Leader. (Hillary?)
Holy Joe made his choice. He repeatedly reaffirmed his choice. He made it visibly and publicly and very loudly. We all heard it. It's not as though he didn't know.
Here's what I would offer: Back-bencher with last choice of committee assignments and no committee chairs or subcommittee chairs. No capacity for mischief. You want to be a member of the majority caucus? That's the deal, revocable any time we get tired of your bullshit. Take it or leave it.
Believe me, that deal is way too magnanimous.
... not if you nominate another John McCain type...Rush Limbaugh pointedly refuses to look in the mirror, I would guess, but I can't be sure, since the radio's seek function had had enough of his gasbag bullshit. And not a moment too soon...
Wingnut radio, like discredited wingnuts everywhere, is unifying behind the excuse that John McCain wasn't conservative enough. They were and still are ready to double down on all the policies that got us where we are today, and that should give the lie forever to most everything they say.
You can understand why they might hold such venal views. After all, the plutocrats' recovery of the early Duhbya years did them really well, especially with their tax cut bonuses, while in seven years it never really managed to trickle much lower than a few pennies for the upper middle class. Now, they're going to have to pony up their share of all the debacles wrought by their boy Duhbya. Yeah, that's going to leave a mark.
Jack Cafferty tries to find a question to ask that won't get so many damn reader comments: What will you miss about Duhbya?
Even his punctuality got annoying after eight long years. I kept hoping he wouldn't show up at all. Now, if only he'd leave early!
Of course, Jack still gets a lot of comments, even though the Republican partisans are mostly lying low. There's a firm consensus that snark is the proper response to this question, with strong currents of sympathy for Jon Stewart and Frank Caliendo (of FrankTV). Personally, I think those guys are talented enough do fine even if Caliendo has to figure out how to make his ears more prominent. It's guys like me who may have more trouble with the bursting of the tremendous bubble that currently exists in the snark market.
Of the comments I read, my favorite is:
I will miss hoping that he would be held accountable for his actions and ultimately impeached!So this is a shout-out to Teasha in Florida, who posted that.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
... and hope that someone counts your vote.
Today is a turning point. Be a part of it.
See you at the victory parties. If I'm not too hung over, I'll resume regular posting tomorrow.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Today, twenty-four hours before the voting, the McCain campaign launches a new image for John as the affable happy warrior. It's too late. We already know that he becomes erratic under pressure.
Of course, Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times, happily types up the tripe without witnessing any of it. She had multiple sources, all inside the campaign's inner circle. So that has to be objective.
Why is it that the Times doesn't simply reserve a news hole for the McCain press release?
Sunday, November 2, 2008
I took an excursion to BlogNetNews today to see how influential I was last week (ha ha - don't believe it). Once again, not even a bridesmaid, not even Avis - third and holding.
Then I took a look at blog ratings and found myself in poor company. The junior freepers at New England Republican (no link) had a rating of 10 (highest), while I was rated 1 (lowest). There is no zero, and the amp doesn't go up to 11 even for those guys.
Our two wildly divergent blogs were the only ones rated this early in the week, which seemed unlikely to be coincidence. Those guys must be pleasuring themselves again. Yes, you can rate yourself at BNN, a process with about as much objectivity as dating services.
What the heck, I thought (yes, I do think, unlike certain people), I'll try a small experiment. So, I gave the opposite ratings and refreshed the page. Voilà! Both ratings became 5.50, the average of 10 and 1. There have only been two ratings, so you know how valuable they are.
Now, of course, there are four junior freepers at NER, so they can freep this poll better than I can all by my lonesome. The numerical kind is the only superiority they have, so I will generously accept that, instead of wasting time deleting cookies or changing IP addresses or whatever.
The upshot is this: If you see my rating at 2.8, (10 + 4) / 5, or theirs at 8.2, (40 + 1) /5, you'll know what's going on, and you can have a big laugh at them. Losers.
I suspect that BNN's influence ranking gives points for being rated at all, even down-rated. If so, I just helped them for this week. Of course, the four of them down-rating me helps me even more. If that's true, I'd call it just punishment.
Update (11/16): True again this week. I don't know why this cracks me up so much. Maybe it's because it mirrors how Republicans think about counting votes. Or maybe it's because it mirrors how Republicans think about perception and reality. Or maybe it's just that simple arithmetic keeps catching someone at an infantile trick. In any case, it's always good to have a laugh at their expense.
I guess all the American reporters are exhausted from covering McCain's bullshit, so CNN has brought in the reserves from the UK. My evidence:
... a haulage company car park.On this side of the pond, we call what you're talking about a trucking company parking lot. At least, I think that's what the reporter meant. (Two peoples separated by a common language...) Haulage? Is that even a word, not a creative back-formation? (Yes, says Merriam-Webster.)
This does resolve one long-standing puzzle. All those times I've criticized editing at CNN? Sorry, they don't do editing.
I will say this for the fresh perspective of Simon Hooper: He managed to find a person-in-the-street quote for every single one of McCain's favorite bullshit spin points, and they show that McCain's supporters can't be bothered with facts.
As for the main topic, whether McCain's going to keep fighting or concede the weekend before the election, please. He could sleep through the remaining two days at this point, or he could go moose-hunting with Sarah Palin, but he is going to cross the finish line. Staggering, true, but there was never any doubt that he would play out the string.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Can anyone give me a single good reason to interview a discredited has-been gasbag like Newt Gingrich on the subject of energy? One good reason? And, no, being a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute is a good reason not to interview him.
Guessing the number of electoral votes in the coming election is like guessing the number of jelly beans in a big glass jar at the county fair. Televised pundits do it in self-serious tones that suggest they get paid waaay too much. Bloggers have a lot more fun with guessing, for instance, this contest (now closed) at KnoxViews.
Since I was slipping in my own silly guess at the last minute, I was out of time to try to figure an advantageous guess in the contest, and I just said what I thought. Using the CNN electoral map calculator, here are the states and how I called them:
That's 353 for Obama and 185 for McCain. I awarded Obama all the big toss-ups - Florida (27), Ohio (20), and North Carolina (15), but I just couldn't see him taking Indiana (11) or Missouri (11) even though he may, and North Dakota (3) - are you kidding me? Even if McCain takes all six of these, he loses unless he turns around Pennsylvania (21) and another state.
The last is no doubt why Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight.com is so optimistic:
The mode of his simulations is about 380! This is so optimistic it scares the hell out of me.
I only realized this morning that my Obama total of 353 is one of Silver's model's most likely outcomes.
In any case, this looks like an election that's not close enough to even try to steal.