Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Palin misses again

The Massachusetts Environmental Police had to shoot a bull moose in rut (no, not this fellow) this morning to keep it from endangering commuters. This bunch of liberals didn't even need Sarah Palin for her one proven ability.

Too bad about the moose though. But there's nothing we hate more than someone or something messing with our traffic.

Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.

Eternal verities

Even in a parallel universe, some things are inescapable. Aieee!

Click image for full Tom Tomorrow/Salon cartoon.

Me, too

McCain says, "Me, too," about Obama's FDIC insurance increase. McCNN leads with McCain.


So, why is $250,000 of FDIC deposit insurance an obvious idea? CNN doesn't bother to say, but the goal is to prevent a bank run. We're already in a deeply dry credit market. A run could not only kill banks that are basically healthy, it could also tighten credit even further as more and more people and institutions flee risk into cash or T-bills, where they are no longer loanable to stimulate business activity.

Better late than never

The Presidential election will determine whether this investigation ever goes anywhere. If McCain wins, why would his AG provide resources or back-up to Nora Dannehy.

For now, Mukasey's just trying to get his reputation back at a time when it's too late to hurt the Bushists. That's not all that's too late.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Lalalala, I'm not listening

They'd rather be dumb than intellectual.

Republicans say the complaints are coming from "intellectual" conservatives -- not Main Street Republicans, who they insist love the "hockey mom," from Alaska, as Palin describes herself.
Truth is, though, it's too late. Not to worry, they're stuck with Palin. So no one will be smearing them this cycle by calling them intellectuals.

Update (9/30): If this post isn't meaty enough (and, honestly, it is a little thin), take a look here or here. Even better, start Halloween a month early with "Spooky".

Update (10/4): Joe Conason disses the dumbing down.

Mean Nancy hurt their feelings

That mean Nancy Pelosi lauded her caucus for defending Main St. from the predations of Wall St. This made Republicans pout, so they voted against the bailout, says John Boehner. Waaah! You'd think they'd be ashamed to admit what a bunch of children they are (no slur intended against the majority of children, who are much more stalwart).

Already, I have heard colleagues channelling this bullshit, blaming the Democrats for not passing the bill, when 60% of them voted for it and only 30% of Republicans. While angrily blaming the Democrats, they were incensed that the Democrats would care about who got the blame! It's boggling to me how people who let the GOP manipulate them like this fail to notice it.

Was this a good bill? No. In point of fact, it sucked. The only rationale I've read that made it worth passing is Paul Krugman's: It was needed, and it was the best that the perennially irresponsible Republicans would permit.

As just punishment, the Democrats should now put forward a good bill (Krugman beats me to this, though without repeating his definition) and let it be voted on party lines. A good bill would have:

  • a lower price tag, doled out in relatively small chunks
  • real standards for pricing of bad paper
  • mandated equity stakes for us citizens, the recapitalizers, mixed with temporary socialization of failed financial institutions
  • punitive, confiscatory, regurgitative taxes on those who profited from this bubble
Then let Duhbya veto it.

Update: Barney Frank noticed the bullshit coming from the ever-oily John Boehner.

Update (9/30): For all the people in comments who are incensed with the Democrats, check out how two-faced, irresponsible, and focused only on politics the Republicans are. They were telling the Democrats they had a deal, but they were busy before the so-called deal failed planning to screw the Dems. Republicans, dishonest to the core. (h/t Americablog via Eschaton)

Update: Michelle Bachman defends her fellow Republicans against Boehner's slur on their toughness:
We are not babies, sucking our thumbs," Bachmann said.
No? In any case, they are just plain sucking.


I'm hesitant, too, hesitant to call Bill Clinton a great man. In fact, I'd go one step further and say that he is not a great man. That's just not a status I give automatically to Presidents. I don't even think Clinton was a great President, just a good one.

Look at the men who have held that office during my lifetime, and there's really only one great man - Eisenhower, and I wasn't yet three when his Presidency ended. Besides that, Ike's greatness was made in the ETO, not in Washington. JFK might have been great, too, but we have to dream of Camelot instead of remembering it.

This means I superficially agree with Bill that Obama is not a great man. Not yet. I think he could be, though I think he more likely will be successful President without attaining greatness.

I think Obama is a good man, and I've seen with my own eyes and heard with my own ears that he's a smart man. I suspect that he has far more self-possession and self-control than Clinton, despite some similarities in their backgrounds (single mother, absent father, life on the margins of poverty), and maybe that's part of what galls Clinton. If Clinton had had what Obama has, maybe he could have been a great man.

McCain is not a great man, either. He was heroic thirty-five years ago, though I'm always wary when a pall of myth is cast over human frailty. After all, he did break under torture, too (as all eventually do). He is a human, not some demigod of resistance. For another, people who are willing to torture you are clearly willing to lie to you. There's no reason to credit the North Vietnamese offer of early release to McCain. More likely, they were trying a softer psy-op to divide him from his fellow POWs. He and his buddies would have seen this before, they would have been trained about it, and they would have been obliged to resist it.

But really, it's transparently obvious that Clinton would rather be passive-aggressive like this to try to get Hillary another shot in 2012 before she ages out of eligibility. He's back to triangulation, and it's pretty ugly.


If it's coming out of Tucker Bounds's mouth, it's a lie:

"John McCain repeatedly pointed to Sen. Obama's vote in favor of higher taxes on families making just $42,000 a year, and his proposal for $860 billion in lavish new government spending which is a crushing burden on middle class families and the Main Street economy," spokesman Tucker Bounds said in a statement Saturday.
He might possibly slip and tell the truth by accident, but he'd never repeat the truth. The Republican message machine is about repetition, not about accuracy. Using the well-honed techniques of advertising and tobacco industry denial, they judge their attack lines only be effectiveness, not by something so retro and hoary as being true.

So, when Obama attacks McCain's middle class cred, they don't merely parry. They counter. Like Feyd-Rautha, with poison on the blade.

Democrats are really poor at this. They parry with a sound reasoned argument and think they've won. Innocents!

Every time Tucker Bounds or another of the professional liars who speak for Republicans says something like what's above, Democrats at least must counterattack against the credibility of the whole Republican message, something along these lines:
Tucker repeats yet again a proven lie about Obama's tax plan, which raises taxes on people making more than $200,000 a year. What he and the Republicans will never tell you is that the one person making $42,000 who'll see a tax increase is a teenager with a BMW whose trust fund billionaire daddy is trying to use to launder his capital gains. Republicans will never tell you the whole truth about this. Can you trust them about anything else?
Democrats should have been explicitly attacking the core credibility of Republicans for thirty years. The Republican Party message is founded on three true things:
  • lower taxes for the wealthy
  • gun rights
  • personal responsibility for non-wealthy knocked-up women and girls
Even the last is close to a lie. Republicans would really rather retain Roe v. Wade as a perpetual burr under the fundie saddle. That's why they've moved so slowly to actually overturn it. Keeping that burr in place is why they have started to push even more extreme views that would prohibit most forms of birth control.

The rest of the Republican platform requires consistent deception of the voters, especially the part about tax cuts for the middle class that consist entirely of leftovers from the tables of the wealthy. That's why Tucky and his ilk prosper and the rest of us don't.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Republicans don't demand a lot of their Presidential candidates. They're looking for a figurehead, a national daddy or mommy to blow them a kiss. They're even o.k. with a shadowy apparat of operatives running the President, just as long as the animatronics don't show. Toto, get away from that curtain.

In normal times, Sarah Palin would have been perfect - and the reaction of the die-hards shows that she still is for the base. Hits her mark. Looks good. Down to earth in a Stepford kind of way. Not too smart.

The part about not being too smart is part of the Republican job description for President, which is predicated on riding wave after wave of advisers to do the thinking for you. Not being too smart is an advantage. Knowing stuff that "ordinary" people don't know (the ones who can't tell that the Republicans are patronizing them) is as dangerous to popularity as making an A in 7th grade math, especially if that means you know trickonom-- trigamonetry-- angles and stuff. If you know stuff, you may have to explain your thoughts, and the Republicans know that Americans want entertainment, not explanations.

Palin would have been perfect ten years ago. No one would have cared that she's already confirmed the Peter Principle by reaching the level of her incompetence as governor of Alaska. No one would have cared that she has so far proven to be less trainable than Dan Quayle even to give foolishly simplistic answers that succeed at staying on a sound-bite message.

Ten years ago was before Duhbya screwed it up for really dumb people everywhere. Even the political Rip Van Winkles who sleep for four years between elections - even lapdog political journalists - have been enlightened like the slowest Grasshopper thumped in the head in a Zen koan. Electing someone too dumb for the job can have really, really bad consequences. Even Republicans want to hurry home to daddy in the form of Ronald Reagan, because by god he could read a cue card with the best of them.

Why am I being so mean to Palin?

First, I saw the Tina Fey send-up of Palin's latest mind-blowing disinterview with Katie Couric. Hysterical! What a send-up of Palin's irresistible tendency to descend into a gibberish of phrases so disconnected that you might expect to find them if you spilled your Magnetic Poetry kit into the garbage dispose-all.

Then, I watched the actual answer from St. Sarah of 600 miles from Russia.


I already liked Tina Fey, just from the commercial where she ran back and forth putting out fires. Now I find out that she hardly even deserves a writing credit for her skit. She does however deserve kudos for having the judgement to let the unsatirizable Palin absurdities speak for themselves.

It doesn't take a genius to run a good government. FDR was famously dubbed a second-rate intellect by Oliver Wendell Holmes, who nonetheless appreciated his first-rate temperament. But it does take someone with something serious on the ball. Sarah Palin ain't got it, and it looks as though she never will.

Tina Fey on the other hand? She's got brains and judgement. I'd vote for her.

(Thanks, Tom!)

C-SPAN blues

My DVR recording of the debate carried the helpful crawl to tell me now that C-SPAN's coverage had been moved to C-SPAN2, so I guess I'm SOL. No, I didn't feel like listening to throwaway speeches from the House of Representatives. There's only so much praise across the aisle for retiring long-time Republicans that I can stand, and that's measured in nanoseconds.

Ah, hell, probably all the insight into the performance has already been said somewhere. But I've been holding off reading from the great soup of punditry so that I could write something fresh for me and uncolored by all the other commentary.

So, on this rainy Sunday when the Pats have a bye and the Red Sox are locked in a scoreless and meaningless duel with the Yankees, when my tennis club is booked solid, when the dog didn't even want a walk, I'm listening to a little John Mayall. (Yeah, the laws must change one day, but not that CD.)

I'm not a big fan of debates anyway. They're not aimed at me; they're aimed at the muddled and unanalytical middle, at people who don't know enough or think hard enough to need anything approaching information or argument that would be useful to a political junkie like me.

Usually a general election Presidential debate has me cringing at both contestants. The Republican spews a fog of atomized bullshit in a spray so fine you'd think it came out of a snow-making machine, and I guess that's not far off the truth. The Democrat tries to reduce his positions to the sort of Splenda-sweetened sound bites that appeal to the lowest common denominator. Since I fancy 75% cacao dark chocolate, treacly sweetness makes me say, "Yuck!"

Much of the trouble in our politics stems from the need of both sides to appeal to the worst, dumbest voters of all, the ones who start as clean slates for the debates. The bases on both ends are locked up, and the left and right are fighting over voters who are marginal in several senses. They only vote in Presidential elections, they get their news if any from the most pandering TV outlets, they can't remember who did what last year, much less ten years ago (unless it involved a soap opera), and they believe all sorts of myths that would be demonstrably untrue if you could actually demonstrate anything to them that differed from the opinions they have been filled with by rote repetition, starting with their parents but culminating in their becoming perfect foils for advertising of every kind.

This marginal middle won't notice if their decision process, such as it is, results yet again in the choice of yet another image-driven establishment bullshitter. Rational actors would re-examine how they decided and think about changing. These people are more likely to "remember" that they voted for the guy they actually voted against.

So, debates often devolve into pandering contests. I don't mean that the politicians can pander to small audiences. What they can to, though, is pander to the short attention span and lack of depth of citizens who meet the very minimum standard of social engagement and vote once every four years.

But you go to the election with the citizens you have, not the ones you wish you had.

And, hey, I'm actually guardedly optimistic about November 2008. Given the McCain-Palin ticket's dismal and transparently manipulative performance over the past two weeks, even voters who choose based on tie color are noticing that the Republicans are full of bullshit. Still, while that's better, it's not even up to half a loaf.

Obama and Biden really should be twenty points ahead.


John McCain and the rest of the Republican screw-ups are really getting stung by cartoonists and comics. Once you become the object of universal ridicule, it's pretty hard to get up off the mat. Go to the Boston Globe's cartoon roundup - of the thirty-eight cartoons, not one is a real stinker, and easily thirty are worth a belly laugh. In this time of promiscuous LOLs, you may think I'm exaggerating or taking mind-altering substances, but go see for yourself.

I'd feel bad for Tina Fey since Sarah Palin is going to vanish back into well-deserved obscurity, but Fey is plenty talented enough to keep right on prospering. Maybe in sixty years her obit will say that she played an important role is saving America from its own stupidest instincts. Dana Carvey won't even be able to say that.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

David Vitter watch, day 443

Every time Eliot Spitzer is in the news for screwing his brains out, I wonder why David Vitter is not in the news for consorting with call girls, too. He was a two-time two-timer, besides.

I also wonder what their wives are doing still married to them.

Disclaimer not enough

At the bottom of Ruben Navarrette's useless apologia for John McCain's nakedly political ploy to make himself the story, McCNN disclaims:

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.
I'm sorry, if you had a liberal writing commentaries about which you made the same disclaimer, you could make that stick. But given that you're consistently printing many more conservative viewpoints than liberal ones, those opinions are your responsibility.

And Navarrette repeatedly proves himself to be a Kool-Aid-drinking dipshit.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Reporters notice

What's this? The truth? Where did that come from?

CNN has a couple of people who don't simply plug in to the McCain campaign spin. Rebecca Sinderbrand is one of them, and she shows how McCain's non-suspension suspension is obvious bullshit.

It's amazing how beneficial it is to actually keep your eyes open. Hell, even Adam Nagourney and Elisabeth Bumiller manage, after a fashion, to notice that McCain is posturing, even if they have to throw in a couple of darts at Obama in the name of false equivalence.


Krugman nails it again:

[O]ne non-rank-and-file Republican, Senator John McCain, is apparently playing spoiler. Earlier this week, while refusing to say whether he supported the Paulson plan, he claimed not to have had a chance to read it; the plan is all of three pages long. Then he inserted himself into the delicate negotiations over the Congressional plan, insisting on a White House meeting at which he reportedly said little — but during which consensus collapsed.
If you need convincing that all of this matters, see this. The key point left open is:
... placing everyone who depends on credit under strain.
The bursting of the housing bubble has strongly deflated housing prices. The deleveraging of financial institutions and the parallel flight of credit to T bills is how deflation spreads throughout the economy.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Nifty number 80

Anyone who can make Bill Belichick choke up is someone special. What Troy Brown did was anything asked of him. I admired him most as he aged and adjusted to it with intelligence, versatility, and grit.

Debate bail bondsmen

McCain to Congressional Republicans:

"Please, puh-leez, do not make a deal. I really, really don't want my bail revoked. Mississippi wants me, but I can't go back there."

Which is exactly why McCain's craven introduction of Presidential politics into the credit crisis was the opposite of everything he claimed it was.

Lowering expectations

Any two-year-old who has learned to poop in a toilet can tell that McCain's suspension is not only bullshit but is pure political calculation.

McCain will show up to the debate, but his spinners will plead that the dog ate his homework if he's not ready for anything but the typical stock bumpersticker phrases. He'll say he's been spending all his time on the economy.

Barack should be ready to retort that he knows this debate was meant to be about foreign policy but that he's willing to talk about the economy off the cuff and without preparation (heh heh). And then he should smoke McCain's ignoramus ass about the credit meltdown and everything else.

That could close the deal.

I also found this pretty funny in a laugh or cry kind of way.

But Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, called McCain's decision to suspend his campaign the "greatest single act of responsibility ever taken by a [Republican] presidential candidate."
There. Fixed. Trust Newtie to be clueless and over the top about responsibility.

Palin and foreign affairs

"You are a verry gorgeous woman, but in my country a woman with a voice as verry annoying as yours would keep verry quiet. Can I give you a leetle squeeze?"

Funny how being patronized by a foreign leader is a good thing. Not her fault, of course.

Things we couldn't get away with

Republicans are used to setting one set of rules for themselves and another for the rest of us. Prevail upon a subpoenaed witness not to appear? Fine for them. Obstruction of justice for us.

There are probably a few McCain staffers who ought to avoid returning to Alaska until they can put in a fix.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Indelibly stained

McCNN reports this story in the passive voice to avoid saying that McCain pulled a bait and switch on Obama. But at least they reported the story.

McCain's clear motive was to gain political advantage, not to put country first. More and more, it's clear that McCain wants to be the Thane of Cawdor by any means necessary.

That stain will never come out.

Desperate times

McCain's suspension of his campaign is insincere bullshit. Its sole intent is to benefit him politically by:

  • Freezing the status quo to stop Obama's rise in the polls
  • Seizing the news cycle for photo ops (and they're all free!)
  • Giving him the chance to pretend to ride to the rescue as if a Wall St. bailout were San Juan Hill
  • Evading a debate for which he could never be sufficiently prepared (though in the mean time he'll try)
I'm sure as I can be that the last is what provoked him to do something. If the fumbling, bumbling, stumbling McCain is seen on a platform next to the brilliant, knowledgeable, and often eloquent Obama, the stark contrast will be undeniable. Since even Fox "News" has Obama up six points (warning: link blows up Firefox 2), another five-point shift would be the death of McCain's campaign anyway.

Obama should say, "McCain is welcome to suspend his campaign if he can't manage to advance more than one effort concurrently, but is that really what we need in a President?"

Or maybe Harry Reid has already done better:
"If there were ever a time for both candidates to hold a debate before the American people about this serious challenge, it is now," he added.
Update: Obama takes the best of both (at the same CNN link)!
"It's my belief that this is exactly the time when the American people need to hear from the person [who] will be the next president," Obama said. "It is going to be part of the president's job to deal with more than one thing at once. It's more important than ever to present ourselves to the American people."
Update: I really should have been much snarkier about this, now that I think about it. Here are some possibilities:
  • McCain: I haven't finished my homework, so I'd better pull the fire alarm.
  • Granddad needs his nap.
Please feel free to compete in comments for best McCain no-debate snark.

Fairness in the fourth paragraph

Shouldn't fairness always be the lead? Instead, McCNN stretches for a false equivalence under the headline "Biden not holding press conferences, either". Four paragraphs in, Alexander Marquardt gets around to this:

To be fair, the famously talkative Biden has given 89 national and local interviews, according to the campaign. Palin, in contrast, has granted just a handful, including one to People Magazine.
After that, Marquardt is, incredibly, back to slamming Biden for "lack of access."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Monkey business

Follow me, said John McCain.

On Sunday, in an interview with CNBC and The New York Times, Mr. McCain responded to a question about Mr. Davis’s role in the advocacy group through 2005 by saying that his campaign manager “has had nothing to do with it since, and I’ll be glad to have his record examined by anybody who wants to look at it.”
McCain must have forgotten Gary Hart's campaign self-immolation twenty years ago.
One of the giant mortgage companies at the heart of the credit crisis paid $15,000 a month from the end of 2005 through last month to a firm owned by Senator John McCain’s campaign manager, according to two people with direct knowledge of the arrangement.
They said they did not recall Mr. Davis’s doing much substantive work for the company in return for the money, other than speak to a political action committee of high-ranking employees in October 2006 on the approaching midterm Congressional elections.
Exactly the kind of payday for who you know, not what you know, that looks to normal non-Washington people totally like bribery.

The cherry on top of the bullshit sundae: McCain has been flaying Obama for ties to the river of dirty debt.

Party of one

Following in the footsteps of Joe Lieberman, Dianne Wilkerson! Dianne, you could have held this seat forever with only a minimum of attention. Unfortunately, that was too much to ask.

You do know that if you run this sticker campaign and lose - and that's by far and away the most likely outcome - your political career is over. Incumbency is powerful, no doubt. Your survival this far is testament to that. But you might be better off to get your house in order, make a little money, and try a comeback in two years.

Or not. What do I know?

One principle left

John McCain once bucked his party's doctrine. No more. He couldn't win the nomination that way.

John McCain once bucked the "agents of intolerance." No more. He couldn't rally the base that way.

John McCain once opposed torture. No more. He couldn't suck up to the Bushists that way.

John McCain once took a dim view of war. No more. He couldn't be a Republican without advocating more force, more often.

John McCain once advocated deregulating just about everything. No more. He can't win as the doctrinaire Republican he has become, so he's pivoting away even from things he has believed for his entire political career.

The only remaining constant in John McCain's program is me, me, me. He says he's for country first, but he really only puts himself first.

Rand-y Ron

Ron Paul is at least consistent. Consistently crazy, but consistent. Faced with a financial crisis that has resulted from insufficient regulation and oversight of the financial markets, Paul identifies the problem as too much regulation and oversight. That's what his Randian ideology tells him must be at fault, never mind the actual empirical history.

Complaint against herself

This McCNN story is so vaguely written that I have to read between the lines to understand it. You should read it, too, and make up your own mind.

My interpretation: Palin operatives in the Alaska state government have put together a parallel "investigation" out of the State Personnel Board, and that's the only thing she's cooperating with.

Yep, bingo, here's the story clearly - and incredibly - stated:

Meanwhile, the state Personnel Board has also hired an investigator to look into the issue, after Palin filed a complaint against herself and said that was the proper body to do the investigation.

The board hired Anchorage attorney Tim Petumenos, and while fighting the Legislature's inquiry, the McCain-Palin campaign says the governor will cooperate only with the Personnel Board investigation.
McCNN could not have screwed this up so badly without editorial help. Someone ought to be fired.


... doesn't come cheap. If I'm providing it, I want equity.

What Paulson and the Bushists may actually intend by offering Congress their poison pill of a bill: Either they get a $700 billion slush fund to bail out Republican businesses, or they pin the blame on Democrats for the whole deregulatory debacle because in this one week, the didn't act fast enough, meekly enough, nor deferentially enough.

When fact-checking is really bullshit

McCNN tries to tell us that Obama is misleading us by holding McCain responsible for his own positions, using his own words. (h/t Paul Krugman)

Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.
In context, it's clear that McCain is specifically citing the deregulation of banking in one aspect as a good example of how he would deal with the cost of health care, which he identifies as the most important problem to solve. He continues:
You should be able to buy your insurance from any willing provider—the state bureaucracies are no better than national ones.
Yeah, there's a man who thinks a regulated marketplace is best!

This earlier statement is more definitive:
We do not believe in ... the use of state power to mandate care, coverage, or costs.
Uh, sounds like deregulation to me. Sure enough, the rest of McCain's position paper is filled with childlike faith in the market and vague nostrums that maybe, just maybe the tooth fairy will leave under our pillows. Along with a note on good stationery telling us how free and wonderful we are.

And, meanwhile, McCain will cut off at the knees any state experiments that might show a different way, all in obeisance to a free market that by definition leaves people behind.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Lies, damned lies, and claims of lies

When Democrats claim that Republicans lie, they say what the lies are. When Sarah Palin claims the Democrats lie about her, she doesn't think we need any petty details about what they actually said that wasn't true.

This is known in discerning circles as rank composting bullshit.

But McCNN pretends that Obama's putting Bristol Palin's inconvenient troth off limits is relevant to the story, when in fact it's a non sequitur.

Weathering the storm

Obama may have weathered the storm. But it's not yet clear that America has.

At least the people are right about who can better handle the economy, and that's a glimmer of hope in a dim and cloudy time.

Standards of assertion

CNN and John King take sides. It's subtle when they do, but look who they believe.

Here's the Democratic concern:

For 2004, the county switched to touch-screen machines. There were no major issues here. But some local Democrats, including Rep. Robert Wexler, demanded changes because they said the touch-screen system might be vulnerable to fraud and did not, in their view, provide a reliable audit trail.
There are two claims in the Democratic rationale, and both are proven facts, despite King's pose of skepticism. Maybe there were no major problems in 2004, maybe not. No one could tell!

Then comes the Republican claim:
"We could have had nice, reliable computers counting and giving all of us an honest count," [Sid Dinerstein, the Palm Beach County Republican chairman,] said in an interview.
This is well-known to be bullshit. Garbage in, garbage out. You can add up the data as many times as you like and still get the same fraudulent total if the system was hacked. Yet King shows no skepticism toward this claim at all. Such noice computers!

Paper ballots are stable. It takes a lot of effort to dummy up a lot of fake ones. The evidence lives on. Bits, not so much.

Elections are serious business. Republicans want to "protect the vote" with ID measures that we already know will exclude legitimate voters. Democrats want a fair election that will exclude only fraud, and we're willing to take a little more time if needed to get it right. For Republicans, and maybe Florida Democrats, as in 2000, the deadline is what matters most.

It's mind-boggling.

Car talk

To all the Republicans who think it's stoopid to spend even a minute talking about John McCain's cars: You're right. It is stupid.

Welcome to the juvenile vacuousness of the national discourse that you guys created from all the Democratic tempests of the past twenty or more years. You earned it.

We kept begging you to get serious. You kept on with the pubescent crap. Have fun now that you're no longer in the cool crowd in middle school.

Go read a little Bob Somerby for the long term perspective. Who knows, he may even take a crack at this ridiculous story.

Even a stopped clock

McCain is right to be uncomfortable with the Bushist money pot. Hooray for that.

Of course, appointing Mitt Romney to the oversight board would be putting a fox in the hen house. Truth is, that's probably just a sop to Romney's ego, after McCain passed over him for Sarah Palin! But it's still a dumb idea.

Pigs more equal

I'm going on record. I'm against the Paulson bailout bill. (Yeah, big whoop!)

I don't care if Chuck Schumer is for it. He's been fooled before - anyone remember Michael Mukasey?

I've read the thin tissue of legalism that the bill frames. This bill won't fix the problem because it's not targeted at the problem. In fact, it's not targeted at anything. It's a $700 billion giveaway. To whom? That's not even stated, but given that the Bushists are in charge, it won't be spent to help you and me.

So what should the cowardly Congressional Democrats do? Pass a bill that includes reforms and oversight and dare Duhbya to veto it. But they're soft-headed dopes with no appetite for combat, even with the least popular President in recent memory.

Yeah, this is why American dominance is doomed. The smart people are chickenshit.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

More clueless reporting

Compare and contrast:

  • "The president can [fire the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission], ...," said CNN's Tom Foreman.
  • [W]hile the president nominates and the Senate confirms the SEC chair, a commissioner of an independent regulatory commission cannot be removed by the president.
The SEC is responsible for part of the credit crisis. In 2004, it allowed waaay too much leveraging of assets. But that was before Christopher Cox's appointment in 2005, which means he's only responsible for continuing bad policy.

Because you're so comfortable with lying

Douglas Holmes-Eakin now claims he was joking when he baldly asserted that John McCain is responsible for the BlackBerry. This is a transparent lie. Listen to Keith Olbermann's clip. Holtz-Eakin was lying when he claimed it, and now he's lying again.

He's a liar. But McCNN won't be so uncivil as to say so.

Not enough to worry about

Jimson weed? OK, it contains poisonous alkaloids that might give you a trip, albeit a bad one. If a public health warning was in order, a picture would have helped. But I used to have belladonna growing in my back yard, too. Never tried that either.

If you know where to look, you can find plenty of marijuana growing wild. My garden includes salvia. Smoke either for a buzz. The anti-pleasure crowd is trying to ban the latter.

Could we instead concern ourselves with the important problems that we have in great profusion and let people make their own decisions about harmless highs?

(Note: Nope, I'm not talking about opiates.)

Click image for full picture and more information at Cornell.

You had the gospel when you were shackled to a tree

He's a pretender, but not the good kind. If he likes Abba, he's probably never even heard of Chrissie Hynde.

Click image for full Mike Luckovich cartoon.

Heckuva a job

At least the adults are in charge.

Click image for full John Cole cartoon.

Ayn Randed, nearly branded

... and I only mouse left-handed. Oh, and I have a left on the basketball court, too.

Have I mentioned that Ayn Rand is more full of shit than shit itself?

Click image for full Signe Wilkinson cartoon.

Sound as a dollar

Bum steer?

Click image for full Steve Benson cartoon.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Another federal judge calls bullshit

The Bushist (really Cheneyite) legal fantasy that the Vice Presidency is a creature of Congress now has a preliminary injunction standing against it.

Some fun excerpts:

[B]oth Ms. O’Donnell’s Declarations and Defendants’ pleadings are bereft of any legal analysis demonstrating that Defendants’ interpretation is correct as a matter of law or any identification of legal authority that would allow Defendants to place limitations on the PRA’s statutory language.


Nor has Ms. O’Donnell offered any factual grounds on which the Court could determine that Plaintiffs’ allegations–that Defendants have misinterpreted the PRA–are unfounded.


Defendants were unwilling–in lieu of litigating Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction–to agree to preserve all records potentially at issue in this litigation, and to treat them as if they were covered by the PRA until a decision on the merits of Plaintiffs’ claims could be issued. Defendants were only willing to agree to a preservation order that tracked their narrowed interpretation of the PRA’s statutory language.


The American public, however, has a right to the preservation of all records encompassed by the
PRA’s statutory language.


[C]ounsel for Defendants argued that any preservation order need not bind all Defendants. As the Court noted during that conference call, however, Defendants have not established a factual record to support their counsel’s assertion. Defendants’ Opposition and Response likewise fail to provide factual support for defense counsel’s assertion. Accordingly, on the current record and based on the fact that Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint alleges that all Defendants have, in various ways, improperly interpreted the PRA’s statutory language, the Court must conclude that its preliminary injunction should, at this time, bind all Defendants to this action.

What about their packages?

How can CNN/Money report these Fannie Mae resignations without asking how much the four executives are taking out with them in severance? Shouldn't that be the first goddamn question that any cub reporter with half a brain would ask? Oh, right, it's an AP story.

I'm really dying for a media in which the first weed-out qualification is an extreme distaste for kissing ass. Because right now our journalists are waaay too polite any time they're not probing into blow jobs, prostitution, or wide stances.

(And, as you may have noticed, I'm feeling even less polite than usual today.)

Ducks come home to roost

Obama nails McCain:

"If my opponent had his way, the millions of Floridians who rely on it would've had their Social Security tied up in the stock market this week. Millions would've watched as the market tumbled and their nest egg disappeared before their eyes," he said.

"I know Sen. McCain is talking about a 'casino culture' on Wall Street -- but the fact is, he's the one who wants to gamble with your life savings and that is not going to happen when I'm president. When I'm president, we're not going to gamble with Social Security."

Please, Barack, don't let him get up off the canvas.

C'mon, just trust us

Don't remember that we've fucked up everything we've touched. Give us a $700 billion line of credit to spend as we see fit. Pleeze! We've only moved the line up 40% since yesterday.

No Congress worth a sou would give any Executive, much less this particular disaster of an Executive, this sort of unchecked, unsupervised, and expensive authority. I don't care if Henry Paulson leaves his balls as collateral.

Of course, our Congress is probably not worth a sou.

Quis custodiet

Who fact-checks the fact-checkers? O.K., I'll do it.

McCNN asks whether Obama is correct to say two things about McCain's position on abortion:

  • McCain says Roe v. Wade was a "flawed decision."
  • McCain is running on a platform with no exception for even rape or incest.
McCNN can't possibly deny the first. It's on McCain's web site. But McCNN says that the second is misleading because McCain doesn't agree with the Republican platform, the one he's running on. Of course, despite that, he picked Sarah Palin, who does agree with every jot and tittle of the platform's statements on abortion.

McCNN temporizes about what the platform actually says, calling Obama's claim an "extreme interpretation." Here is what the Republican platform actually says (on p. 52, the 59th page of the PDF):
[W]e assert the inherent dignity and sanctity of all human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.
If a fetus is a person entitled to all the protections of the person, the manner of conception is irrelevant. It's not Obama's interpretation that's extreme. It's the Republican platform's position - passed by the entire convention - that's extreme. (Consistent, but out there.)

Since McCain thinks Roe was badly decided, he pretty much has to think that Griswold v. Connecticut was also badly decided. That's the Supreme Court decision that recognized the right of married adults to contraceptives. Griswold was a critical citation of Roe.

Hmm, what does the Republican platform say about contraception?
  • Parents have rights over their children's access to contraceptives. Get those condoms back behind the pharmacist's counter! No mention of the age of consent (p. 38).
  • All abstinence all the time (p. 45) because it's 100% effective. Ha!
  • No school-based contraceptives or referrals to contraceptives (p. 45). Because their kids are not having sex. Yeah, sure.
Any guarantee of access to contraceptives? Uh, no.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Happy talk for whiners

CNN responds to the deep and dangerous financial crisis with bullshit happy talk.

(See also "Trillion-dollar transfer payment".)

Trillion-dollar transfer payment

Henry Paulson estimates the newest bailout to have a price tag as high as $500,000,000,000. Yup, half a trillion dollars. But, even with that staggering number, you have to remember how well the Bushists estimated the cost of the misadventure in Iraq. Larry Lindsey got fired for saying $200 billion, and that's a small fraction of what will be the total cost in the end.

We need to call this what it is: The government is going to spend perfectly good money (for now!) buying utter crap. It will be the most massive short-term transfer of wealth in the history of the world. Of course, since it's happening under the Republicans, it's a transfer from all of us - poor, rich, middle class - to the wealthy investor class and large businesses, with a few crumbs for everyone's 201k.

And get this: Paulson refuses to consider any reforms whatsoever!

Paulson rejected Democrats' calls to include tighter regulations, corporate reforms or limits on executive compensation as part of the measure, [Rep. Brad] Sherman [(D-CA)] said.
This necessary but unjust largesse should be paid for with openly confiscatory taxes on those whose profits led us to the edge of the precipice. The alternative is revolution.

Collective dementia

No one with a functioning brain should vote for John McCain. All he offers is bullshit and hoary old Republican remedies that are proven failures. Here's one that Paul Krugman picked up from a commenter:

Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.
Despite clear evidence that the Republican Party is completely untrustworthy to get the smallest thing right, here we are (not a permalink) almost tied (47% to 44%).

I think our society has passed the time when it was clear-eyed enough to enact solutions to its most urgent problems. We are in the decadent fall of the American empire, and it's probably too late even if Obama is elected to avoid the fate of the English and the French and the Romans, and the Greeks before us (among many others).

Namby-pamby fact checking

"It's o.k. You can say it. They know."

McCNN equivocates on the bald, undeniable fact that John McCain opposes any semblance of the legal right of women to sue for equal pay. Look, McCain himself said that the alleged danger of lawsuits was more important.

The fact is that McCain openly opposed rectifying the precedent of the egregiously unjust Ledbetter decision. This made him a completely orthodox Republican, not a maverick at all.

Faced just this once with Republican admission of their craven servitude to corporate desires (hey, just like their deregulation mania), McCNN doesn't even need to call bullshit. They could just say, yep, McCain acknowledges that it's true.

Instead, incredibly, McCNN concocts its own thin veneer of bullshit in a useless attempt to play it down the middle.

Liberals, calm in the face of danger

Stretching from this study to the author's conclusion that 30 to 40 percent of political leaning is inherited is a good way to rip a cerebral groin muscle.

All James Alford has really shown is that conservatives are Chicken Littles, and I told you that without a study three years ago. It's true that I don't have a Ph.D., and no one should take my word on anything just because I can type, but credibility of any kind can only be built incrementally over time. So here's a small increment.

Perfect Republican

Sarah Palin is everything a Republican mayor should be:

  • A hypocrite on low taxation as long as it's a regressive tax
  • A scofflaw if a legitimate claim hasn't worked through the courts to her liking
  • A hypocrite on debt for her pet project
  • An incompetent manager
  • Fiscally irresponsible
It's hard to grasp just how hugely unreasonable she is as a candidate for Vice President - until you think about the man and the party that picked her.

Political opportunity

After years of making political hay out of war, among a thousand other cynical ploys, it takes a breathtaking amount of sheer gall to say this:

The senator from Arizona also accused Obama of seeing the economic crisis as a "political opportunity."
Meanwhile, the turmoil in credit markets is making the vast amnesiac middle of American voters think, "Oh, right, the Republicans have screwed up the economy big time. Maybe we shouldn't give them another shot at doing even more looting."

Of course, next week, they'll remember what a weird name Barack Hussein Obama is and they'll discover that he's black to boot.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Out of sight, out of mind

The apparent al Qaeda attack on our embassy in Yemen is part of a series of attacks that I don't remember getting much attention.

The State Department ordered the departure of all non-emergency American staff from the embassy, along with their family members, in April, after attacks against the embassy and a residential compound. That order was lifted last month.

In March, three mortar rounds landed near the embassy, wounding Yemeni students at a nearby school and Yemeni government security personnel, the State Department said.
What's that again about no terrorism since 9/11? Sadly, the list of exceptions grows.

Laws, appropriations, who cares!

Picking up a theme seen around the liberal blogs, where does the Fed's authority to bail out all these financial institutions come from, obligating taxpayers to many billions in new debt that we already can't afford? When did Congress approve the takeover of Freddie and Fannie? When did Congress extend rescue authority to insurance companies? Or did it come from the Authorization to Use Military Force, the way every other power the government wants was allegedly ceded by the Legislative branch?

The roots of our democracy and our liberty are in law. Without law, we are already sliding into arbitrariness and government by personality.

I'm not arguing against strong measures in the financial markets, including some bailouts. I'm saying that there's a lawful way to do it, and of course the Bushists are not pursuing the messy, difficult business of actually framing a law that allows them to do these things legally. They just don't care.

The largest irony is yet to come. There will come a time again some distant day in the future when Republicans are well-regarded again. At that time, after the worthless assets have been paid off to their foolish investors, the GOPers will suddenly realize that it's creeping socialism for the government to actually hold the valuable assets, and they will stamp their feet and wail that those assets should be privatized in a fire sale to their cronies.

And they'll all get rich yet again.

Update: The Bushists didn't even brief Congress on the AIG bailout. Congress, we don' need no stinking Congress.

Republicans, meanwhile, are already setting up their complaints to cash out in the future.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Arrest them all

Another Republican executive claims to be above the law. Why should anyone be surprised?

If this has to be settled by serving arrest warrants with guns drawn, so be it. There have got to be consequences, or the flouting will continue.

Is there a downside?

The Democratic Senate isn't actually accomplishing anything with its slim majority. I say throw Lieberman out on his ass and let the Republicans have him. In 2009, with an expanded Democratic majority that can rewrite the filibuster rules, he can be a caucus of one and spend all his time bemoaning the lack of tripartisanship. The hell with him.

Window dressing

I heard a rumor last night that Sarah Palin's glasses are solely about style, that she doesn't need any refraction at all, that she only wears them to appear smarter. So, to avoid the media practice of extruding any happy bullshit rumor I hear, I googled '+palin +glasses' and got more than 900,000 hits. A search of news alone yielded 2600 hits. (Note: No confirmation of the rumor.)

McCNN reports that, oh, just everyone wants to be like Sarah. Or maybe to own a piece of toast with her image on it to match the virgin Mary in thermopane. The toast looks like a bank robber in a ski mask to me, but then I'm a goddamned liberal.

Pardon me, but we are really fucked as a nation if we're spending so much time on inconsequential trivialities such as these.

Covering the coverage

Since the media is only interesting in self-examination to the extent that Howard Kurtz practices it, which is to say in the prurient and titillated way that frat boys are interested in breast self-examination, most modern coverage of politics is more about covering us in bullshit than in uncovering us from bullshit.

Celebrity journalists defend themselves and their cohorts from any accountability, at least by going along with the bullshit, often by generating more. If they didn't, they wouldn't get admitted to the fraternal order of the vacuous that leads to ever more visible televised inanity.

Eric Boehlert, along with stalwarts Eric Alterman and Bob Somerby, has been diverting rivers into the fetid barns of the media for some time. I've echoed the themes of all three from time to time, for example here, here, and here.

In the last several years, all three have written important posts (and books). Yesterday's post from Boehlert is one of them. It's a deft encapsulation of the insane consequences for our politics of irresponsibility in journalism.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Winning beats the HELL out of losing

An obvious lesson from the Massachusetts primary today: Winning is fun, even in a primary.

The memory of losing so many elections to craven Republicans should motivate us to work as hard as we can to secure the future of America by denying John McCain four more years to screw things up.

We really, really need to get Obama into the White House.

Who you callin' stupid!

Ed Rollins is back to Republican image-only bullshit. According to Rollins, Charlie Gibson was condescending to ask Sarah Palin about the Bush Doctrine, where she infamously drew a blank.

What's really condescending is the emphasis that Republican political consultants and media hacks put on the airy fairy nothingness of manufactured political image. Rollins and most of the media think enough of us can be addled with stupidity that they can win without even addressing issues. They're calling us stupid, and many of us don't even notice.

Here's one of Rollins's contributions:

Nobody cares if Palin knows the Bush doctrine.
He wants to consign the Bushists to the dustbin of history. He wants you not to notice that the McCain-Palin ticket, on the issues, will continue virtually every important aspect of Bushism - the Bush Doctrine in foreign policy, war policy, tax policy biased in favor of wealth, corporate welfare, torture, Constitutional lawlessness (maybe the number one) especially the surveillance state, and I'm sure there are others I'm missing in my haste.

McCain and Palin together have many of the character and intellectual flaws that have made Duhbya so disastrous as President. Rollins wants us to re-up for four more years.

I guess ol' Ed is angling for a job.

Primary day

The polls are open in Massachusetts, and I need to go vote and hold signs for my candidates. Don't expect to see too much of me around here today, maybe a quick break in the morning and the afternoon.

There's going to be a victory party tonight, and I intend to be there.

Monday, September 15, 2008

It's our fault

How can CNN ignore price gouging as a source of price spikes! It's almost as if they're willfully closing their eyes. Instead, it's us nutty consumers who are to blame.

Relying on the dumbness of strangers

After welcoming the state trooper firing investigation just last week, Sarah Palin now says it's a partisan witch hunt. Never mind that the same guy is running it as was running it before McCain plucked her out of well-deserved obscurity. Now, she has found her excuse not to cooperate.

I'll give Palin this: She learns the Republican way with astonishing speed. She's not even elected, and she already thinks she's above the law.

Republicans lie. It's what they do to remain in power.

American media and voters let them. Ignorance truly must be bliss if so many people are opting for it.

If she were running from the scene of a mugging, we'd all conclude she was probably guilty. Instead, she's using her office to settle a personal score and then visibly covering it up. The right sanction is to assume that she is guilty as charged. If that's how the narrative went, she'd open right up.

Update (9/16): Here are all my Sarah Palin posts. Blogger tells me that there are 28 so far. Have fun!

One serious thing about Palin: You'll notice I didn't jump on the weird, outlandish rumors, like the one about Trig's parentage. I didn't publish the Photoshopped fake picture of her in a stars and stripes bikini toting a rifle, though I thought it was wicked funny when I got a copy. There was other even funnier stuff mocking the Palins. You can find it if you want, but I didn't publish it. The media should be so responsible!

I've been trying to find out who Palin is and what she represents. Despite her smile, it ain't a pretty picture.

Jerry Falwell with a pretty face

Sarah Palin is a culture warrior against the Enlightenment.

Meanwhile, the masters of the universe

... are in a pool of shit so deep that they're drowning in droves. There is no reason not to be deeply worried about the threat of another depression. Even Paul Krugman is worried, and he's usually a calming voice despite his harsh (and just) critiques of systemic financial shenanigans.

If a depression happens, the fault will lie squarely with those whose mania for deregulation led the smart guys to be able to hide risk in a wild and deceptive market. That includes almost all Republicans and most Democrats, especially those who turned to Wall St. for campaign contributions over the past thirty years.

The upshot: It's dangerous to go to bed with a service industry that has its eye on your wallet - in either direction. Problem is, everyone gets screwed.

If we do suffer a depression, America and our position in the world will never be the same. That may be true without one, but a depression would make it a certainty.

Learning from the Bushists

Run the government as your own private fief to fill with unqualified cronies. Check!

Refuse to cooperate with a lawful inquiry into your administration. Check!

Ignore subpoenas. Check!

Claim that the investigation is a partisan witch-hunt (despite support for it from Republicans in your own home town!). Check!

Try to run out the clock so that the voters don't have the information they need and deserve. Check!

Sarah Palin gets Bushism. If you've enjoyed the past eight years of unaccountability, McCain-Palin is your ticket.

Routine unbelievable Republican gall

There is no bullshit that a Republican spokesman will shy from. Here's a late example of up-is-down:

RNC spokesman Alex Conant called Hunter Biden's letter "another example of Obama's words not matching his actions."
Hunter Biden has stopped lobbying - like one or two but not even close to a majority of McCain's cronies. What the son of Joe Biden has done on Obama's behalf is exactly what Conant says Obama has not done.

If only one Republican anywhere would match his - or her - actions to words, now, that would be news.

Somewhere, Hillary Clinton is laughing

Cindy McCain thinks she has had it tough with the media. My heart bleeds for her.

Hillary is laughing at Cindy's lack of perspective, but her laugh is one of those mirthless, unsmiling laughs that we all do when something is painfully ridiculous, even though it's not funny in the least.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Rove knows bullshit

... so on this one subject ("McCain went 'too far' in ads"), I believe him. Though that alone gives me the willies.

Slow learners

American voters are that special needs kid in elementary school who keeps making the same mistake over and over again. The kid is sweet but easily manipulated by the class bully to do what the bully wants done. The bully doesn't spend any time actually helping the special needs kid. He uses people.

Of course, the Republicans are the bully. But the special needs American electorate never learns that practically everything the Republican say is either an out and out lie or bullshit puffery.

This story alone should be enough to swing the election to any yellow dog. Imagine the controversy if Hillary Clinton had fibbed about being under fire in Bosnia. Or just remember. American swing voters are incapable of this. They would think that I know all I need to know about England; after all, I changed planes at Heathrow once.

It's not that foreign travel is essential. It's that they are puffing up refueling stops into visits and next door visits to a trip into Iraq.

The Obama campaign -- which has increasingly accused the McCain campaign of deliberately lying in ads and on the stump -- was quick to highlight that story, along with a news report that explored whether the McCain campaign has been sending out wildly inflated crowd estimates.

The McCain team has twice pointed to law enforcement as the source for those estimates -- but the same officials denied to Bloomberg News that they had provided the numbers cited by the Republican nominee's campaign.

"The McCain campaign said Gov. Palin opposed the bridge to nowhere, but now we know she supported it," said Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor in a statement. "They said she didn't seek earmarks, but now we know she hired a lobbyist to get millions in pork for her town and her state. They said she visited Iraq, but today we learned that she only stopped at the border. Americans are starting to wonder, is there anything the McCain campaign isn't lying about?"

For that slow kid, here it is in a nutshell: You can't believe anything a Republican politician says.

Even the liberal media

More evidence that the media does indeed host political bias, though not of course the bias that conservatives raise to explain any story they don't like. If you need more, here it is.

(h/t Atrios)

Price of everything, value of nothing

I could be in the air right now. Southwest had a seat on the flight at 11:00, several in fact. I was there at 10:45, physically ready to make a miracle 20-minute connection despite a concourse change. Those seats were undoubtedly empty when the plane departed.

Instead, I'm sitting in BWI waiting for the 12:25 flight after a bad Starbucks mocha latté. Why am I still here?

The exchange at the counter went like this.

"Could I get on this flight?"

"Yes, I think so. Oh, you'd need an upgrade at some cost."

"How much?"

"Let's see. Seventy-six dollars."

"You know that makes no sense."

"Yes it does. You booked one-week advance purchase."

What I thought was that she had been working in the industry too long if she thought it made sense. The woman behind me, flying on a free ticket, was pleased to get a free upgrade, too. She was also amazed that I couldn't get on the physical plane.

Southwest shares a pricing model with most other airlines. Each seat is assigned a particular price, and when they're gone, they're gone. In essence, the Wanna Get Away seats are on priced as if they're on a different airplane. To get onto the ­Anytime airplane, I would have had to pony up another $76, and this particular 1:25 wasn't worth that much to me.

What's wrong with that? Southwest set the rules and their price for an exception, and I wasn't willing to buy one. The market worked!

As if. Those empty seats were wasting assets, and now they're wasted. There was value to be provided to me, and there was demand for it from me. Instead, Southwest derived zero marginal revenue.

Here's an idea. I'm offering it free, since I have no way to derive benefit from it.

Some canny, economically literate airline will enhance their bottom line with a cross promotion with eBay. They can set it up however they like - auctioning the seats as the clock winds down would best match eBay's business model. But shrinking the upgrade price automatically as time ticks down would be easier to implement. Say, 15 minutes before flight time, when absent tickets become stand-by tickets by rule, $20. Ten minutes, $15. Five minutes, $10.

For $20, I would have upgraded. I'd be better off. Southwest would be better off. The market missed this opportunity.

Sure, there are start-up costs. The eBay cross-promotion should cover those and provide a tidy profit, too. But business, which free market true believers generally account as rational, has to be smarter.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Media passive voice

An iron-clad rule of American media: Never, never, ever take responsibility for your impact on the coverage that you yourselves do:

Sen. Joe Biden faces a paradox: He offers the most unfiltered contact with the media of any of the big four. But he's the least likely to be covered.
Rachel Streitfeld at least "analyzes" the symptoms of the media's headlong rush to provide 24-hour Sarah Network News. What she doesn't do is any real analysis of why. Maybe it would be too depressing:
  • Entertainment values predominate in all spheres of media. This means that a pretty woman who doesn't have the depth to recognize "Bush Doctrine" gets more coverage than an older man who happens to have heavyweight Senate experience.
  • The excitement of the chase is the most important thrill factor of journalists.
  • Journalists care more about hype and being seen than anything else. Well, many of them, especially those on TV.
Most reporters started out wanting to report news. But most of them now report gossip, illustrate it, and call it news. And then they go and drink together and congratulate themselves about how tough-minded they are.

Or at least that's what it looks like. Maybe Streitfeld could make some calls and report a story.

Blizzard of bullshit

Paul Krugman nails it.

Of course, I could also call the McCain-Palin campaign a pig in a poke. Lipstick not required.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Taking it lying down

The fundamental problem of American media is that journalists don't really care any more whether you lie to them. They'll never identify any untruth, no matter how glaring, as a lie, not even my new favorite at McCNN, Rebecca Sinderbrand. And tomorrow, they'll be just as credulous or at least just as inhibited by convention or by editors as they were yesterday.

At the public trough

Sarah Palin is the gift that keeps on giving. The good qualities that the McCain campaign has claimed for her have been almost completely bullshit. Now, we find out that this so-called reformer was paying herself to eat out of her own refrigerator.

Maybe the reason she and John think Obama was calling her a lipsticked pig was that it's a little close to home, and she's hypersensitive to exposure of her true character.

And, no, it doesn't cut any ice with me whatsoever that she spent less on herself than her Republican predecessor.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hit squads

Bob Woodward tells us that the escalation in Iraq (known in marketing-speak as the surge) didn't have as much effect as the Sunni changes (marketing: Anbar Awakening) nor a previously unreleased program of assassination (thin marketing: secret killing). He also likens the assassination campaign to the Manhattan Project.

First, let me say that war is about killing. Targeting that killing is in fact better than not targeting it, so I have no problem in principle with assassination as a tool of war. (As a tool of statecraft? Another matter entirely.)

Assassination is not new. Fiction has been written and filmed about it, and maybe a little non-fiction, too. We used it in Vietnam, though less successfully than the Viet Cong.

That means that even though Woodward is keeping mum (he's a journalist who requires elite access, after all) about what exactly is new. But the stunning "Manhattan Project" label is a clue.

I think that this campaign must have involved massive technology, though not quite to the level of "Déjà Vu". My guess: Tons of electronic surveillance of every phone call, email, movement, and purchase of the Iraqis and massive NSA keyword searching and machine translation (since so many of our military speakers of Arabic were too gay to be welcome to help), followed by human translation of data-mined messages and fact bases.

In short, I'd guess that the military massively replicated what the Clinton administration had deployed in prototype against Osama bin Laden and the Bushists scaled up under John Poindexter and his Carnivore-building ilk to watch Americans. If so, it's quite a technical achievement, though it does call into question why we haven't cared enough to find bin Laden himself.

Update (9/3/11): I was a little bit off here but not much. See this new item for follow-up.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Elisabethan manners

Perhaps the most valuable print real estate in the world, and the New York Times fritters it away on the trivialities that Elisabeth Bumiller sees in the sexual politics of how John McCain hugs Sarah Palin (as if we can't see that for ourselves). Even p. A21 of tomorrow's paper, where this is promised to run in the dead tree edition, would be better used by blank gray emptiness.

Remember, an editorial committee permitted this. It's not as though Bumiller herself gets to allocate pages.

Psst - pass it on

McCNN says "Palin shoves Biden out of the spotlight". Oh, and they had nothing whatsoever to do with plastering the web with the smiling Sarah here, here, here, here, and here.

If bloggers will pledge to post pictures of beautiful people every day, would the media then be able to move on from seventeen pictures of Palin every damn day? They're not putting her lovely mug over every article because of her policies. So, I see your Sarah Palin, and raise you an Eva Longoria!

Click image for CCA ShareAlike 2.0 license.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


The difference between Duhbya and John McCain is one thin dime (or less). That's the change you would get from McCain, a different face and the same tired old discredited policies and politics. Is that what you want?

McCNN will not even try to sort out the bullshit for you. They'll take McCain at his word and not even ask him what credible change he thinks he can bring. When all they hear is arch-Republican "reform" of earmarks and reduction of spending on normal Americans, they'll then grant McCain the brand of change. And they'll let this Johnny-come-lately go first in their story.

Everyone who's paying the least bit of attention knows that McCain won't change much of anything. The press knows this. They're just not going to mention that critical fact.

"Everywhere I go, we've been talking about change, that's been the theme of this campaign," Obama told supporters Saturday in Terre Haute, Indiana. "And we must be on to something, because I notice now everyone's talking about change now."
If you want real change in foreign policy, management of the economy, and health care, Obama is your only choice. That McCain bullshit? It has been tried and found wanting.

Lesson for flacks

Don't stop talking when you got nuthin'. Distract, change the subject, attack the question.

It's a school for scoundrels.

I always wonder why other people don't get as outraged as I do at the obvious stinking smokescreen of smoldering bullshit that Tucker Bounds emits in volcanic volumes.

Good on Campbell Brown for, as someone I read yesterday says, committing journalism.

Teen pregnancy - IOKIYAR

Click image for full Matt Bors cartoon.

McCNN just not interested?

Somehow, Sarah Palin has the top spot at McCNN Politics for the third day in a row. How is that even possible for a 24-hour cable news network?

Since Obama has issued some stiff rejoinders to the RNC's routine of a hundred bad cops followed by one guy trying to be a good cop, there is a story large enough to bump her. Hell, a Democrat standing up for himself is practically unprecedented. To do so with good copy? Stop the presses:

“Suddenly [McCain’s] the change agent!” Obama laughed. “He says, “I’m going to tell those lobbyists that their days of running Washington are over.” Who’s he going to tell? Is he going to tell his campaign chairman who’s one of the biggest corporate lobbyists in Washington? Is he going to tell his campaign manager who was one of the biggest corporate lobbyists in Washington? Is he going to tell all the folks who are running his campaign who are the biggest corporate lobbyists in Washington?”

“Who is it that he’s going to tell that change is coming?” he added, “I mean come on, they must think you’re stupid!”


“I have to say, when John McCain says in his [acceptance] speech that he wants to reduce the rancor in Washington and I’m thinking, did you pay attention to the last two days of your convention?” Obama chuckled, “were you not watching? Did they not get the memo?”

“When it starts getting personal, when you start just focusing exclusively on trying to tear the other person down instead of what you are going to do on behalf of the American people to deal with this economy, then that’s not serving Democrats, that’s not serving Republicans, that’s not serving anybody.”

I have to say that I'm not impressed with Obama's press operation this week. They should be flinging press releases and photo ops against the Palin honeymoon as fast as their little fingers can type.

But maybe McCNN is just not interested.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Why liberals think Republicans harbor racists

Because they do.

“Just from what little I’ve seen of her and Mr. Obama, Sen. Obama, they’re a member of an elitist-class individual that thinks that they’re uppity,” Westmoreland said, according to the Capitol Hill Newspaper [sic] the Hill.
Anyone who buys the transparently lying claim that Lynn Westmoreland of west fucking Georgia doesn't realize exactly what 'uppity' means to racist white people among his constituency and, no doubt, his goddamn household should just hook up to the Republican matrix, 'cause man you're already taking the bullshit by IV.

Next thing you know he'll be claiming 'nigra' is neutral and 'colored' is a compliment.

What is this, 1954?

Was he drunk when he gave the quote at the top? Even if, the only honest thing he could say after would be: I was drunk and surrounded by people who didn't care, and so I let slip the racism I was trained in from birth.

Light posting for at least a week

I'd love to say that I'll be spending the next week working to elect Democrats to public office. After all, the Massachusetts primary is Sept. 16, and there are dear friend cards, phone calls, visibilities, etc. to organize and do.

Unfortunately, I'll just be working and travelling.

Much to the dismay of some conservative defenders of rank bullshit, however, I will be back.

Democratic coalition

It's always fun when Bill Maher and Paul Krugman agree:

Thus [Rudy] Giuliani asserted that Wasilla, Alaska, isn’t “flashy enough” for Mr. Obama, who never said any such thing. And [Sarah] Palin asserted that Democrats “look down” on small-town mayors — again, without any evidence.

What the G.O.P. is selling, in other words, is the pure politics of resentment; you’re supposed to vote Republican to stick it to an elite that thinks it’s better than you.

Republicans need to stop saying Barack Obama is an elitist, or looks down on rural people, and just admit you don't like him because of something he can't help, something that's a result of the way he was born. Admit it, you're not voting for him because he's smarter than you.
Not hard to sort out which quote is whose, is it? But read them both, and you'll see that Krugman gets in a lot of good, pithy slaps at the bullshit that pervades Republican talking points. Maher? Goes without saying.

Friday, September 5, 2008

A thousand points of blog

I'm sure a thousand other bloggers have slammed the Palin eBay airplane lie, but identifying bullshit is my stock in trade, so I'm going to pile on.

Is there anything these Republicans say that isn't bullshit? Anything?

They really believe that we're all simpletons. This Alaskan "reformer" sold the goddamn plane at a loss.

Update (9/6): Some further documentation of the bullshit... Here's a good quote:

If the point is to underscore Palin's frugality and willingness to reform an overly cozy, wasteful system, why not just say it:
She got rid of Frank Murkowski's toy.
Nope, they have to oversell it.

No can do

McCain can "fight", but he's a Republican, and Republicans to a man (or woman) one think that you can't fix the economy, which is by their definition perfect. You simply have to wait it out without whining. Easy for them to say - they're well-insulated from the economy's problems up where there's still no recession.

Media hero worship

Can we stop the hero-worship?

Nobody doubts he's a hero, as the many tributes throughout the convention were meant to highlight...
John McCain hasn't done anything heroic in the last thirty-five years. What he did in North Vietnam to resist the despicable war criminals who tortured him was tremendous. Yes, the communists broke him, but everyone breaks in time, and the way he broke was honorable.

I have no desire to swiftboat John McCain, although Duhbya showed in 2000 that it would be possible. But I'm not even close to that slimy.

Many other men suffered the same fate in hellish North Vietnamese prisons, and they're not entitled by it to the Presidency either. To our thanks and our respect and our honor and even our amazement, but not to the highest office in the land.

The grievous error of letting the media suck us into a Republican narrative centered on a manufactured image of personality has caused tremendous problems for the past three decades. Even the media and the Republican Party acknowledge that they have no plans other than more of the same, that they can only run on personal traits. Haven't we had enough of that fraud?

Bill Schneider hits many apt points, including this:
His answers seemed very much part of the past: cut spending, cut taxes.
Yet he is still summing up this way:
If voters are choosing between two men, they will probably choose McCain. If they're choosing between two policies, I think Obama has the edge: His are newer, smarter and fresher.
The only explanation I can venture as a guess: Schneider doesn't want to ruin his friendship with McCain. That would be journalistic malpractice if true. If not true, it's far too often true in our media.