Thursday, July 31, 2008

Liberal Torturers? We can but dream!

From a commenter at Baloon Juice responding to another commenters fervent wish that Sean Hannity should be forced to face Bill Clinton, Barney Frank, or Rachel Maddow in an "unmoderated discussion."


"have a little unmoderated discussion?"

That is either the most subtle euphemism ever in the history of political hate speech, or an illustration of the essential difference between teh Left and teh Right.

Somebody on teh Left really, really hates somebody, and the worst they want to do is to strap them down and make them listen to reason

Oh NOES! ! !
Oh think of the humanity !

We all know what teh Right fantasizes about.

ThatLeftTurnInABQ Says:

we need a new term for this insidious form of torture:


That’s when you strap somebody down and pour facts into their ears until they think they’re drownd-ing.


This I like:

This is the payoff for Obama's 'post-partisan' positioning: the ability to throw McCain's snotty little gibes right back at him, as part of the 'old politics' (a politics, apparently, that existed before the invention of color--that's how old it is). Of course, linking McCain to the Bush-era politics of fear and smear also strengthens the link to Bush's wildly unpopular policies (as the ad makes explicit). Also, they use the word 'old' a lot of times, which has got to hurt.

Meanwhile, former McCain adviser John Weaver (whom Josh Marshall describes as "McCain's inner-Reformer, inner-Dem") really doesn't like McCain's ads:

The ad's premise, he said, is "childish."

"John's been a celebrity ever since he was shot down," Weaver said. "Whatever that means. And I recall Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush going overseas and all those waving American flags."
I don't know for sure that Obama's strategy will succeed in deflecting these attacks...but I'm happy that, unlike the last Democratic nominee, he at least has a strategy.

Self-Made Man

Shorter David Ignatius: "In these troubled times, look for solace in McCain's good book."

Fuck Me, No, Wait, On Second Thought Fuck You, Jake Tapper

There's a lot of racist xenophobic crap out there. But not only has McCain not peddled any of it, he's condemned it.

Back in February, McCain apologized for some questionable comments made by a local radio host. In April, he condemned the North Carolina Republican Party's ad featuring images of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

With one possible exception, I've never seen McCain or those under his control playing the race card or making fun of Obama's name -- or even mentioning Obama's full name, for that matter!


(The one exception was in March when McCain suspended a low-level campaign staffer for sending out to a small group of friends a link to a video that attempts to tie Obama not only to Wright but to the black power movement, rappers Public Enemy and Malcolm X.)

While I have no doubt there will be a bunch more racist, xenophobic, and other ignorant drek coming our way courtesy of the Internet and perhaps the occasional cable news network, it's important to determine where it's coming from. Is it from a specific campaign or party? A third-party group? A third-party group with direct ties to establishment figures? This all matters.

I've seen racism in campaigns before -- I've seen it against Obama in this campaign (more from Democrats than Republicans, at this point, I might add) and I've seen it against McCain in South Carolina in 2000, when his adopted Bangladeshi daughter Bridget was alleged, by the charming friends and allies of then-Gov. George W. Bush, to have been a McCain love-child with an African-American woman.

What I have not seen is it come from McCain or his campaign in such a way to merit the language Obama used today. Pretty inflammatory.

Remember we used to say Bush and Cheney would have to eat a live baby, or Wilfrid Brimley, in the oval office before the Press would admit that they were evil? Well, apparently the new standard for McCain's campaign is "if McCain doesn't dress up in blackface and a dress and scream lawdy lawdy lawdy I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin no country!" he's not running a racist campaign. All those "and I approved these messages" don't count. And neither do the messages. Because its not images and innuendo that matter its whether John McCain or his staff say something in front of Jake Tapper.

Despite the testimony of his own lying eyes during the 2000 campaign when there was apparently enough free floating racism in a campaign run by Karl Rove for the dreaded racism bomb to be used against the Honorable John McCain himself Jake sees no evidence that there is any of this "drek" in another campaign run by Karl Rove in 2008 because its all on the internet and therefore not really "real" or something.

As a Hobby I keep an eye on Mallard Fillmore and I can tell you he's been running a long campaign to innoculate the Republicans against charges of racism but noting carefully that black people and democrats always charge racism for every little thing, and that he has tied this directly to Obama by presenting as fact an imaginary *Obama* campaign that rests solely on accusing the Republicans of "making fun of the black guy with the funny name." I knew then that there would be some press guy stupid enough to fall for the "high bar equivalency test" [also known as the "but saddam was worse!"] line that goes "McCain's no racist because he didn't actually say "Obama, what a fucking traitorous funny muslim name" So Congratulations Jake Tapper, dupe of the fucking year.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Real John McCain is Actually Already Standing Up

Like a lot of people I've come to really respect and like John Cole at Baloon Juice, at least since he barfed up the koolaid and came on over to the sunny side of the street, but today he posted this:

I know all the bobbleheads are talking about Pawlenty or Crist for McCain as VP, but for some reason I still think he is going to pick Huckabee. I think people are radically underestimating how important it is for McCain to be surrounded by people he likes. Part of the reason his campaign has gone off the rails is because he feels comfortable with a bunch of people who are really leading him astray. For whatever reasons, McCain has become quite comfortable with the fetid bilge that is the right-wing Rove retreads, and that is why his campaign has gone off the rails:

Which leads me to pose this zen koan "what is the sound of the man on the bus when he's talking and no one is listening? To put it in a longer, more ranting form:

I just don't get the continued insistence that the campaign John McCain is running isn't the campaign John McCain *wants to run.* Is John McCain not actually the candidate in charge of his own campaign? If he's "comfortable with the rovians" doesn't that mean hes, well, comfortable with the rovians? If he's down in the fetid bilge don't we have to assume he wants to be there? Sure, he doesn't want to *lose* by running a bad campaign. But apparently he wants to win by running *this* campaign, with all its dishonesties, meannesses, cheap shots and racism. That's actually the campaign he's running, and only by some odd leap of the imagination--John McCain, prisoner of fate? John McCain, bewildered old codger?--can we argue or assume its not exactly the campaign he wants to run. What does it take to grasp that there is a central connection between John McCain, bluff hearty happy warrior on the straight talk express and John McCain bitter old crank on the down low white guy rulz and gay/black/islamofascists drulz bus? And that central point of connection is John McCain himself.


This Has Been Pissing Me Off

In his "Deep Thought" Section Atrios notes what has been keeping me up all night:

Deep Thought

McCain knows how to win wars. He said so himself.

But you know, that just isn't good enough. I'd pay 1000.00 quatloos to Senator McCain if he can just tell me exactly WHICH WARS HE HAS WON?*

*Mere participation or imprisonment in the Boer, the Crimea, the Civil, or the Hundred Years or the Peloponnesian Wars will not count as an official "win" but will be noted for the history books.

Best Comments Evah h/t Lawyers Guns and Money

New voter demographic cohorts from Mark Penn?

syndactylous ankyloglossiacs for obama!

we're here, we're web-toed, we're tongue-tied, get used to it.

Gravatar What's the difference between a "wired worker" and an "office-park dad"?

Freebased No-Doz?

Wednesday Wildflowerblogging

Harvest Brodiaea
Harvest Brodiaea (Brodiaea elegans), on the slabs southeast of Florence Lake, John Muir Wilderness.

Gads, I must use this Power Only For Good

I guess Joe Klein found out that I was going to pull a Sophia Loren on him at the next summer party and say "Some need alcohol for courage, I am not one of them," while tossing my drink in his face, kicking him in the shins, and handing him a white feather. Damn. Still--Welcome Joe!

In early 2003, during my first weeks as a Time Magazine columnist, I wrote a handful of skeptical columns about the coming war in Iraq, including this one about Israel's security as a hidden casus belli. Then, with the troops in place and the war about to begin, I said something stupid on Tim Russert's cable TV show--reluctantly saying ok, we should proceed with the attack. It was the only statement I made in favor of the war and I quickly came to my senses--but that's no excuse. We have lost more than 4000 Americans, tens of thousands have come home grievously injured, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed and wounded, and we are weaker, palpably and morally, as a result.

I am not going to make the same mistake twice. I don't think a war with Iran is coming, thank God, but this time I am not going to pull any punches. My voice isn't very important in the grand scheme of things, but I'm going to do my job--and that means letting you know exactly where I stand and what I believe. I believe there are a small group of Jewish neoconservatives who are pushing for war with Iran because they believe it is in America's long-term interests and because they believe Israel's existence is at stake. They are wrong and recent history tells us they are dangerous. They are also bullies and I'm not going to be intimidated by them. (Just between us,though, Joe, that's usually said just before you roll over and allow yourself to be intimidated.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Weekly quotes have reached the seventies.

Dead Man Talking

No Bathroom Breaks for Wounded Vets? From Steve Benen:

I shudder to think what the reaction might be if Barack Obama tried to pull a stunt like this one.

Vice President Cheney’s invitation to address wounded combat veterans next month has been yanked because the group felt his security demands were Draconian and unreasonable.

The veep had planned to speak to the Disabled American Veterans at 8:30 a.m. at its August convention in Las Vegas.

His staff insisted the sick vets be sequestered for two hours before Cheney’s arrival and couldn’t leave until he’d finished talking, officials confirmed.


“Word got back to us … that this would be a prerequisite,” said the veterans executive director, David Gorman, who noted the meeting hall doesn’t have any rest rooms. “We told them it just wasn’t acceptable.”

David Autry, another Disabled American Veterans official, said Cheney’s demands would be “a huge imposition on our delegates.”

That certainly seems to be the case. Some of the veterans were severely wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan, and many more are elderly veterans who “left pieces of themselves on foreign battlefields since World War II.” Getting to an early-morning event two hours beforehand, and getting stuck in a room they can’t leave, isn’t much of an option.

Once inside, the vets “could not leave the meeting room, and the bathrooms are outside,” Autry added."

Benen points out that these rules are even more stringent than those imposed when the President himself speaks. Is Cheney really a more likely target of terrorist activity than Bush? Or just more paranoid and self important? This gets back to something I posted on a short lived diary at Kos the other day--the scariest comparison for McCain isn't McCain/Bush but McCain/Cheney. Both men are old--so old that they would ordinarily have retired and been fishing and shooting friends in the face full time by now. Is that a good thing, or a bad thing? Bush's handlers always tried to spin Bush and Cheney's disinterest in the future and in polls as a kind of sturdy independence, a morality that overrode mere considerations of political popularity. But of course it was the exact opposite. In a democracy, popularity is or ought to be a measure of how well the President's plans jump with what the people actually want. A President who doesn't care what the people want is an autocrat, not a democrat or a republican.

Cheney is the epitome of the politician without a constituency, the indifferent technocrat and autocrat who owes his allegiance not to the people but to himself. Cheney went into the VP slot with the stated understanding that he would never run for President or compete with Bush in any way by appealing to the people or to the party. What did we get for it? An activist VP who never cared about either the fate of his party or the country after his stint in the White House is finished. He's got no political future, and so his actions have been unconstrained by calculations of long term effects, popularity, legality, or morality. The lesson I take away from Cheney's terms in office is--never elect a dead man walking. He's got nothing to lose. McCain is similarly situated. This is the last stop, for him. What does he care about your kids education? the environment? America's laws? the popularity of his political programs. None of these will affect him in a few years. As for McCain's personal history and long term goals--can anyone point to any other than self aggrandizement? At the very minimum he has shown that he wasn't interested in even the smallest of lasting monuments offered to ordinary people like a single faithful marital relationship or strong bonds with all his children.

McCain Won't Feel Their Pain

The Boston Globe is reporting today that 40,000 Massachusetts College students will not be able to take out loans for their college educations this year--that includes people who were already in College and had previously received loans who are just now being notified that they will not be funded for this coming year.

The Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority yesterday said it will not be able to provide student loans this fall for the first time in its 26-year history, leaving more than 40,000 families without an important source of tuition funds just weeks before college classes begin.

The nonprofit lending authority, which last school year provided $510 million in loans, said it has been unable to secure funding to provide private student loans due to the ongoing turmoil in the nation's credit markets. The agency had already disclosed in April that it would no longer offer federally backed student loans.


This is a death knell for the middle class in this country--plus a huge boost in the number of people looking for work in a tight job market in the fall. By my counting, if the Obama people take note, that is 40,000 potential angry Obama voters plus their parents for a round figure of 120,000 energized, angry, potential democratic voters. Its a clear way of showing how Bush's massive economic malfeasance is actively screwing up the lives of our children and our neighbors. This is a direct consequence of the crash of the housing market, the upheavals in the credit market, and the lax regulatory history of the last eight years. And McCain and his campaign of "shut the fuck up you whiners" have zero plan to deal with it. But this is something that reaches right down into the heart of every American family with children--no loans means no college means no white collar jobs for their kids.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Random Flickr-Blogging: img_2206

Random Flickr-blogging explained. (Join the fun!)

Click on the images to see this week's entries so far, from:

Ben Varkentine at a dragon dancing with the Buddha

Generik at The Generik Brand

George at I'm Not One To Blog, But...

Anthony Cartouche at Yazoo Street Scandal

Jamelle at The United States of Jamerica

shiltone at The King's Stilts

SAP at thoughts from an empty head

Other Shoe Dropping

McCain's going to end up dropping out of the race entirely. That's my prediction. But even if he doesn't he's going down hard. He had a suspicious mole removed from his face, according to Reuters. And as Atrios points out McCain thinks he can pass this off as a special kind of public service announcement reminding people who are worried about their insurance status, their jobs, and their out of pocket payments to go to Dermatologists they probably don't have access to? Nobody who wants to vote for McCain is going to switch to Obama because McCain is old, sick, and likely to die in office. But a lot of people who think they would vote for McCain are simply going to stay home in a fury and refuse to vote at all for the nearly dead guy who has pissed them off by being such a lousy, degrading, sad sack of a candidate.


Now This is What We're Talking About

dday at Hullabaloo points out that citizen's arrests are the exact opposite of shunning, which a lot of us have been advocating for people like John Yoo if no one will prosecute them. But the end result is the same--running and hiding for the rest of your life? Its actually a pretty good substitute for a public war trial in terms of social angst.

Former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld fled France today fearing arrest over charges of "ordering and authorizing" torture of detainees at both the American-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and the U.S. military's detainment facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, unconfirmed reports coming from Paris suggest.

U.S. embassy officials whisked Rumsfeld away yesterday from a breakfast meeting in Paris organized by the Foreign Policy magazine after human rights groups filed a criminal complaint against the man who spearheaded President George W. Bush's "war on terror" for six years.

Under international law, authorities in France are obliged to open an investigation when a complaint is made while the alleged torturer is on French soil.

According to activists in France, who greeted Rumsfeld, shouting "murderer" and "war criminal" at the breakfast meeting venue, U.S. embassy officials remained tight-lipped about the former defense secretary's whereabouts citing "security reasons".

Anti-torture protesters in France believe that the defense secretary fled over the open border to Germany, where a war crimes case against Rumsfeld was dismissed by a federal court. But activists point out that under the Schengen agreement that ended border checkpoints across a large part of the European Union, French law enforcement agents are allowed to cross the border into Germany in pursuit of a fleeing fugitive.

"Rumsfeld must be feeling how Saddam Hussein felt when U.S. forces were hunting him down," activist Tanguy Richard said. "He may never end up being hanged like his old friend, but he must learn that in the civilized world, war crime doesn't pay."

Doug Giles alert

Do these guys not even read their own sites? Sadly, No! has fallen down on the Doug "that's crazy talk" Giles front and I've missed their snarkalicious take on his special brand of religious, highly sexualized, and utterly unique fake "with it" lingo. In this essay he tries to rehabilitate the word "classy" to cover a variety of acts like not spitting when you talk to elders and tackling shoplifters in parking lots while flinging a substantial amount of spittle himself in just the first paragraphs ("our girls are getting their ovens removed when they’re 15!" Ovens? Like, Kenner Easy Bake Ovens? What strange new liberal crime is this? But no, even worse, he thinks you can take a phrase like "bun in the oven" and simply abstract the word oven and use it for "uterus." How buggin' authentic street slang is that!) t Amanda at Pandagon takes a stab and its well worth the read. Still, you really have to force yourself over to Town Hall to grasp just how stupid Doug Giles is. He positions his rage against the sexual machine:

As you well know, our toady media has made being a whore all the rage for our young daughters. They’re pushing our kids—on multiple cultural fronts—to be “empowered” sexual beastesses, and this is in spite of the plague-like spike in STDs which are saddling our kids.

Yep, who cares if our girls are getting their ovens removed when they’re 15 for fooling around, keep selling them sex, dammit! Throw rubbers at ‘em! It’ll never happen to them, even though according to the CDC 0ne in four teenage girls right now have some form of STD funk coursing through their system.

Right Next to this sexy, disheveled, boy magnet of an advertisement for conservative t shirts:

This Bears Repeating

Obama is no empty suit. From the Jerusalem Post via Steve Benen:

Two months ago in the Oval Office, President George W. Bush, coming to the end of a two-term presidency and presumably as expert on Israeli-Palestinian policy as he is ever going to be, was accompanied by a team of no fewer than five advisers and spokespeople during a 40-minute interview with this writer and three other Israeli journalists.

In March, on his whirlwind visit to Israel, Republican presidential nominee John McCain, one of whose primary strengths is said to be his intimate grasp of foreign affairs, chose to bring along Sen. Joe Lieberman to the interview our diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon and I conducted with him, looked to Lieberman several times for reassurance on his answers and seemed a little flummoxed by a question relating to the nuances of settlement construction. On Wednesday evening, toward the end of his packed one-day visit here, Barack Obama, the Democratic senator who is leading the race for the White House and who lacks long years of foreign policy involvement, spoke to The Jerusalem Post room, and that aide's sole contribution to the conversation was to suggest that the candidate and I switch seats so that our photographer would get better lighting for his pictures.

Maybe he won't be able, or want to, do everything a progressive ever dreamed a president could do. But *damn* he's going to be a refreshing change from the absolutely abysmal idiots we've had in the oval office under the Republicans.


Monday Review: Mad Men Season 2 Premiere

Mad Men, Season 2, Episode 1: For Those Who Think Young 9/10It's Valentine's Day, 1962 and we catch up with the characters last seen Thanksgiving of 1960. Don Draper resists change and reads poetry; Harry's wife is pregnant and Pete's is not. Peggy is a successful if put-upon copywriter, and Betty's lack of sexual fulfillment begins to leak out inappropriately.

This has been Hell Week at Basket of Kisses. My weekly news roundup feature was daily. It was impossible to keep up. So last night, we had a Laptops-and-Martinis season premiere party at my sister's, and I am tired and fascinated.


For a viewer new to the series, the characters were introduced in almost rapid-fire fashion, many at the height of emotional expression, but I cannot say if the introductions were intriguing or confusing. For me, the groundwork for a fascinating season 2 was laid, but as a standalone epiosde, it was unsatisfying. I never felt that way about any season 1 episode, each of which was a movie in miniature.

Still, there is plenty to latch onto. Don lives in a space of sorrow and contemplation, while virulently resisting change at the office. Betty longs for sexual fulfilment, giving her husband a sexy Valentine's surprise, but real connection is unavailable for her. She is becoming interested in observing those who misbehave, and makes you wonder how long she will keep herself from misbehaving. She views herself as old, past "all that," but she is frustrated and full of longing. Horseback riding as a new hobby is symbolism not lost on me. Meanwhile she reconfirms her commitment to making sure her daughter has an eating disorder ASAP.

Peggy is the subject of gossip and conjecture. Thin again, the office wags wonder if she had a secret pregnancy, and only Pete seems clueless. But her writing is excellent, and the intensity of her mentoring relationship with Don is riveting.

Trudy weeps for the pregnancy that isn't happening. Those of us who saw season 1 know that Pete doesn't shoot blanks. Why is Trudy so delicate (other than that marriage to Pete cannot be good for one's self esteem)? Was there a miscarriage?

All in all, an excellent establishing-the-season episode, but I'd have preferred something more self-contained.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Random Flickr-Blogging: The Number is 2206

Random Flickr-blogging explained. As always, everyone is welcome to join in the fun; just post links to your entries in the comment thread.

It would be nice to get lots of entries this week, because RF-B will then go on a short hiatus, perhaps to return on a different schedule. If you have any ideas about that, please let us know.

Sunday Sierrablogging

Lake 9900
Lake 9900 in Red Rock Basin, John Muir Wilderness.

I'm back in the frontcountry, but it'll likely be a bit before I post much of anything--I have 7 days' worth of 'news' to absorb.

What is With These Guys?

Joe Klein, from his lofty perch as a press god, has assured us that McCain is going to run an honorable campaign because he believes that McCain is "uncomfortable" with the generally dishonorable nature of politics and he thinks that McCain's campaign is going to be a reflection of the real McCain and not an amalgamation of rovian admin staff and their goals for power. Josh Marshall politely calls Klein on this fantasy--that McCain is in this race for policy, for example, and not for power--by pointing out that by any measure the campaign McCain is already running, in the present tense, is already dishonorable. Happy to get noticed, Klein argues that people who think the campaign is already occuring are wrong. It has yet to happen. And the things that we see every day are balanced, not schizophrenic. In a little blog post called "Its a Mixed Bag" Klein argues that it is still too early to figure out what kind of campaign a 72 year old career politician is waging:

McCain gives you something to admire and loathe almost every day. He did some terrific things this week on his anti-poverty tour: He gave a lovely tribute to Congressman John Lewis in Selma, he called out Bush's Hurricane Katrina non-performance in New Orleans. (Of course, he also voted against the Katrina relief funds.) The very fact that a Republican would take such a tour is significant--but his willingness to go into the muck on Hamas and Obama's "friendship"--or whatever it is--with the American terrorist Bill Ayres is gutter crap.

Most of us, looking at the things that Klein balances, wouldn't see any balance at all. Just because you put two things on either side of a scale doesn't make them equal. In fact, that's why we say "weighed and found wanting." How do you weigh "a lovely tribute to Congressman John Lewis" against an actual vote "against the Katrina relief funds?" It can be done, in the same way that you can weigh a cloud against an anvil. The scales don't balance. Why can't Klein admit that?

Furthermore, we are talking about the week that was, and not the weeks that might have been. Klein, apparently, has been dozing or else the blog post was written last week since the example he notes of "crap" is *Bill Ayres, the american terrorist* a bit of vomit from which the McCain camp itself has already moved on. The particular bits of dishonorable behavior that are on the table this week are barely noted. For example, McCain's entire shtick at this point can barely be comprehended as political and not personal. His policy prescriptions for the middle east have already been rejected by Bush, Obama, and Maliki rather publicly. All that is left, apparently, for McCain's presidential plans is an endless series of fake "radio addresses" (mp3 recordings that the campaign is releasing as radio addresses and hoping for free publicity. No doubt this was a clever choice after their wax tablets melted in transit) explaining that he was right about the surge. Oddly, the surge was supposed to be over sometime ago. The remaining troops in Iraq, now a higher number than before, must simply be called the occupation. But no doubt we must wait, like Joe Klein, for next week's radio address to find out how this is all supposed to come out. And if Obama won't fess up to having been wrong, John McCain will have to demonstrate his determination never to back down from an innuendo and will simply give the same address over and over again until he does. I hope someone explains to him that he can simply forward the same addres to the press and doesn't have to stop his campaign barnstorming to stand in front of the oversized mike again reading the same script.

If Klein can tell us what McCain's actual presidency would look like I'd be very surprised. Because as far as the McCain campaign is concerned McCain's presidential plans stop as soon as McCain's campaign has run out of Obama attack points. The main issue, as someone actually covering the news might have noticed, is that McCain's entire campaign consists of simply attempting to discredit Obama and the Democrats as patriots and even as respectable political actors. Nothing new here but Klein apparently *hasn't even noticed* that Mr. Hate's Politics and its compromises has eagerly embraced the most classic political strategy of all time: my opponent is an evil com simp terrorist gayboy.

Which is it? Is McCain an honorable man who recognizes that his opponents, the Democrats and Obama, also have a claim to being honorable citizens or not? It can't be that McCain believes that Obama's not being able to visit *some* troops on his visits overseas means that Obama doesn't respect, or wish well, to our troops. It can't be because you'd have to be insane to actually believe that and McCain isn't insane. Instead, he's just an dirty political fighter, in the mold of Nixon and Rove, who is willing to say anything to get over on the stupidest, angriest, least informed and most racist part of the electorate--Bush's base. But to Klein the question of who McCain is as a politician is still out:

So the jury's still out on what kind of campaign McCain runs. I hope my colleagues in the press will call him out everytime he succumbs to sludge tendencies. I certainly plan to do that.

I don't get it. If McCain isn't running his own campaign then who is? If he is running it, what about it would look different if the honorable John McCain--the one who isn't in a fantasy world in which he is the only patriotic public servant--was in charge? All of McCain's advertising and public appearances are about how evil Obama is as a person, and by extension how evil and deluded his Democratic supporters are. If that is thoughtful, honest, policy in Klein's eyes I'd hate to see what was dishonorable mud slinging. Oh, I'm sorry, "sludge tendencies" which are to campaign dirt what "dormative tendencies" are to sleep.

Bush Ab-Fab!

Shorter David Broder: "I can confirm that Bush's carpet matches his drapes."

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Compare and Contrast


A written prayer that Barack Obama left this week in the cracks of the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site, asks God to guide him and guard his family, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

"Lord _ Protect my family and me," reads the note published in the Maariv daily. "Forgive me my sins, and help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will."

Bush's Note
Or, Wait, I think it was this:


QOTD: Sadly, No Morals Edition

John Dean on yesterday's House Judiciary Committee hearing, "Executive Power and Its Constitutional Limitations":

Sadly, it seems possible that today’s Republicans -- unlike Wiggins and the other Nixon apologists who changed their minds when confronted with proven presidential lies -- have no moral lines that they will draw.
Via Froomkin.

Friday, July 25, 2008

East Coast Friday Random Ten

Gillian Welch, "The Devil Had a Hold of Me" Hell Among the Yearlings
Antony & The Johnsons, "What Can I Do?" I Am a Bird Now
The Flaming Lips, "Feeling Yourself Disintegrate" The Soft Bulletin
The Magnetic Fields, "Let's Pretend We're Bunny Rabbits" 69 Love Songs, Vol. 1
Lucinda Williams, "I Asked For Water He Gave Me Gasoline" Lucinda Williams
Damien Jurado, "Cigarette Rope" The Trees
Low, "Sunflower" Things We Lost in the Fire
Sebadoh, "Together or Alone" Bakesale
Yo La Tengo, "Griselda" Fakebook
Juana Molina, "El Zorzal" Segundo

Bonus: John Parish (w/PJ Harvey), "The Florida Recount" How Animals Move

A pretty pretty pretty pretty pretty good list for me today, as Larry David might say. What is iTunes offering you today? Obsess in comments.

Flueven Hueven Farfegnugen

Shorter David Brooks: "Optimism without bluster is just...optimism."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Well Ok Then

Mosely Gets Off...but not in an unusual way. The judge finds nothing to see here:

"I see no genuine basis at all for the suggestion that the participants mocked the victims of the Holocaust."

The "bondage, beating and domination" that did take place was "typical of S&M behaviour", he said.

I Love the Cheese

I love that McCain's explanation of why the "surge" is really everything that happened before the troops got there is shot in front of the sliced, processed cheese section in the grocery store. Its such a great photo op for him.

For once I'm sorry we don't get TV

And even sorrier that the sound isn't working on my computer. I want to hear Obama's speech, not just look at silent footage. I hate to say it but I'm really getting excited about our candidate.


Michael Savage isn't really a Conservative! He Just Plays One On the Radio!

Remember when I said that Savage was going to step on a lot of conservative toes with his "autistic kids just need an angry, bitter, abusive father so they can grow up to be conservative radio hosts" shtick? Well, they are handling their anger in their own dignified, conservative, way--projection and denial. John Pitney over at NRO says

Conservatives need to speak out against Savage. Many news stories label him as “conservative” or “right-wing,” which may prompt some people to think that we agree with him. Savage has a long history of disgusting comments, which has led David Klinghoffer to speculate that his act is a giant liberal put-on, a “lefty’s cartoon mental picture of a ranting right-wing caveman.”

Why should Pitney be beggging conservatives to speak out against Savage? Because Pitney has an autistic child and he needs and wants federal, tax payer funded, assistance for his child. And Lo and behold it turns out that when the government does good things, for good people like himself, Pitney, who makes a living selling articles about conservative politics and government, just loves him some big government spending.

Patriot Act

So John McCain made his big art-house debut here yesterday morning. He attracted about a half-full house in the 1,800-seat venue that both Bush and Kerry jammed full in 2004. A blogger for one of our local papers sets the tone of the gathering:

A funny thing took place about 25 minutes ago as the crowd was filing into the Kirby Center. Two young women - who are apparently going to sing the national anthem and God Bless America - were on stage to perform a microphone check. One of the young ladies began singing the first few words of the national anthem and members of the crowd began to stand. Those who knew it was a microphone check stayed in their seats, drawing evil stares from a few of those who were standing. The same thing happened when the other lady began singing God Bless America.

Welcome to downtown Appalachia, folks, where the men is men, the ladies ladies and you better goddam well stand up for your nation when you might possibly be expected to.

In other coverage of the event, the Philly Inquirer reports that John McCain made some news:
The Republican candidate, who was making his fourth visit to Pennsylvania in the last six weeks, also said that as president he would open to instituting something akin to "question time" - as practiced in the British House of Commons.

In Britain, the prime minister periodically engages in a spirited back-and-forth with legislators from his own party and the opposition.

"I think it'd be fun," McCain said, who raised the idea himself. "Anything that gets more Americans interested and involved in the process - I like it."
McCain then slipped out a side door to avoid the protesters he'd had kept out of this "Straight Talk Town Hall."

Oh Come On

What is with these guys? can't they even pretend to care?

Rep. Hunter won’t visit Chadian refugees if he can’t hunt wildebeest.»

Rep. Duncan Hunter’s (R-CA) staff recently contacted the U.S. embassy in Chad to see whether he could visit the country and distribute food at a refugee camp. He said he wanted to hunt wildebeest and then distribute the meat to the refugees. The embassy, however, wasn’t too happy with this idea — especially because there are no wildebeest in Chad:

ngorongoro_wildebeest.jpg — Post welcomes Congressman Hunter’s interest in food assistance to Darfur refugees in Chad. Given the significant quantities of U.S. food aid programmed for distribution to these refugees through the World Food Program (WFP), Embassy Ndjamena would encourage the Congressman to time his visit to coincide with an already scheduled food distribution.

– Embassy Ndjamena can make the necessary arrangements for the Congressman to observe a WFP food distribution, which will include U.S. food aid, in one of the refugee camps.

– Regarding the Congressman’s desire to hunt wildebeest and distribute the cured meat to refugees, wildebeest are not present in Chad.

– The GOC does not permit the hunting of large mammals.

Hunter was clearly more interested in hunting than helping refugees. He is now trying to arrange hunting expeditions in Kenya, Tanzania, and Southern Africa instead. Ironically, CNN recently reported that wildebeest between Kenya and Tanzania are “under threat from poachers.”

Candidate Profile

David Broder on the foreign trip: Obama is "articulate," "luck"-y and "style"-ish.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Jesus Christ...and I really mean that

Joe Klein Update: Still Vile

The world is a really small place, smaller than people can imagine. There's a better than even chance that I will be at a summer party with Joe Klein in August (I always miss him, its a big party and I'm dallying with John Waters so I don't have time to patrol and kick him in the ankle) but I do my bit by explaining, in painstaking detail to the hostess during the off season why she shouldn't have invited him. Its kind of deep in the weeds for the hostess because she's not american and it requires close reading of a rather pathetic and opaque oeuvre to figure out just why he is such an execrable person. But its getting a bit socially awkward to be the Joe Klein must go voice of doom at someone else's summer party so today I was pleased to find a link to him at TPM saying, laconically, McCain loses Joe Klein.

Would that it were so. After some criticism of the sainted aviator Klein returns to his vomit:

The reality is that neither Barack Obama nor Nouri al-Maliki nor most anybody else believes that the Iraq war can be "lost" at this point. The reality is that no matter who is elected President, we are looking at a residual U.S. force of 30-50,000 by 2011 (a year ahead of the previous schedule). The reality is that McCain should be proud that he helped salvage a disastrous situation by pushing the counterinsurgency plan. It's something to run on.


Its a fine point that a war that has already been lost can't *now* be lost again, I guess. But even worse is this strange line "whoever is elected President, we are looking at a residual U.S. force of 30,00-50,000 in 2011 (a year ahead of the previous schedule)." Whoever is elected president? Really? Can someone tell me where John McCain has laid out any clear plan for bringing the troops home and going down to a residual force before 2011? Because as I recall the only such discussion was a gauzy, vaseline smeared bit of pre-emptive nostalgia that said vaguely "It is 2013...and the troops are home." Not for nothing is John McCain known among the DFH as the John Lennon of the right--war is over, if you want it seems like the only actual Republican strategy under discussion.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

So late I almost missed Tuesday...

Trivia is here.

She's finally made it

Joan Vennocchi of the Globe finally wrote a column of such penetrating stupidity, vapidity, and sycophancy to the Republican line that she got a shout out from Instapundit:

UPDATE: Radio Equalizer notes that the Boston Globe published this column by Joan Venocchi: "The Audacity of Ego." So the NYT is more in the tank than the Globe?

Heh, indeedy. The Devil knows his own. But apparently doesn't know that the Times owns the Boston Globe. But I digress. That column was so hideous that it literally brought me to my knees with rage. Venocchi's no towering intellect at the best of times but this wholly airy piece of persiflage was more reminiscent of Mallard Fillmore phoning it in two weeks late than even her usual stuff. It was also straight out of the Maureen Dowd playbook. It begins thusly:

JUST LIKE the Obama girl, Obama has a crush on Obama.

Apparently we aren't going for "he's a boring old wonky wonk a la Mike Dukakis just look at the way he insists on having pages of policy on his web-site!" and instead we are going with Obambi. But is it possible she has failed to grasp that he is not, in fact, spending the weekend preening in front of the mirror but instead is , in fact, in Afghanistan and Iraq talking about the future of our two favorite wars, meeting the troops and world leaders, and talking policy? Apparently, yes, since:

Barack Obama always was a larger-than-life candidate with a healthy ego. Now he's turning into the A-Rod of politics. It's all about him.

And because its all about him he has forced--FORCED--the republicans to attack him personally rather than on the policy issues he is refusing to talk about. ( "He's giving his opponent something other than issues to attack him on: narcissism.") And, wait for it --I SAID WAIT FOR IT--because you know its coming, she can't believe the ego of a guy who would actually plan on giving an acceptance speech to a nominating convention!

A convention hall isn't good enough for the presumptive Democratic nominee. He plans to deliver his acceptance speech in the 75,000 seat stadium where the Denver Broncos play. Before a vote is cast, he's embarking on a foreign policy tour that will use cheering Europeans - and America's top news anchors - as extras in his campaign.
The egotistical bastard even has a campaign slogan "yes, we can" unlike all previous campaigners. I hear he's even put it on buttons and things to hand out to his "cult followers."

Even worse, Obama's ego is such that he identifies with another young, charismatic, handsome, presidential hopeful:

But when Obama looks into the mirror, he doesn't just see a president; he sees JFK.

And that is so wrong because although Michelle is like Jackie, and JFK actually also gave his acceptance speech in a stadium, JFK never had the ego to think he was Obama--so there! His modesty was such that he gave a speech in Germany *after* he was elected. And he never, ever, would have gone to Iraq. Case closed!

McCain, meanwhile, is absolutely altogether more restrained, thoughtful, and humble. He has no campaign slogans--oh, wait, he does ("change we can't believe in" and "an american president we've all been waiting for" I believe as well as "you are all a bunch of whiny sissies" and "stop slathering on the makeup you cunt.")

But McCain has one thing going for him: the appearance of modesty.

Oh, that's good, because I was afraid for a moment that we were going to talk about things that were not mere appearances.

Part of it is physical. McCain is stiff and awkward, the result of age and injuries from his years as a prisoner of war. That, too, is a contrast to Obama's sleek physique, the consequence of youth and a George W. Bush-like passion for working out. [Yes, she really tried to make a negative Bush/Obama equivalency there by insisting that working out made Bush the intellectual and moral slacker he is today]

How do we know McCain is humble--because he waited until he was running for president to have a self aggrandizing, romantic "autobiography" ghost written for himself at age 63:

McCain's humility comes through in his book, "Faith of my Fathers," which he wrote at age 63, after completing a career in the US Navy and moving onto politics.

Gosh, the guy's a regular Uriah Heep!

While Obama wrote a "more self reverential" (I think the words she means are "self referential" or "reflective" but let it go, we've got better fish to fry " "Dreams from My Father," after he was elected president of the Harvard Law Review."

Will the man's ego stop at nothing! How dare he allow himself to be elected president of the Harvard Law Review. How trivial and self absorbed of him. At his age McCain had already crashed four planes and been a prisoner of war. At Obama's current age McCain had already abandoned his first wife and family, married into vast wealth, and bought his first congressional seat. What has Obama done that merits any notice compared to that?

But with McCain, there's also the sense of a man who made mistakes in life and acknowledges them.
Venocchi insists on these parallelisms but doesn't have the nerve to flip them and acknowledge the other possibility. I mean, I'll cop to it, there are stark contrasts between the two men:

Obama's black, McCain's white. Obama's young, McCain's old. Obama's an egotist, so McCain must not have any ego at all. Of course Miss Mallard Fillmore doesn't fill in all the blanks correctly--McCain's a son of privilege whose father's family dominated his life; Obama's the son of a rejecting, abandoning father who was never there for him. McCain's mother always did everything society expected of her and remained at ease in her privileged surroundings; Obama's mother never did. McCain failed upwards through school and the military, unable to deviate from the family line. Obama is a self made man. McCain's family protected him from the consequences of his own behavior, Obama's family couldn't. Obama is faithfully married to the beautiful and dynamic young mother of his children. McCain is unfaithfully married to the drugged out, sad eyed, former barbie known as his own ex-mistress. Michelle shops at Target (while channeling Jackie!) while Cindy travels with her own stylist on her own private plane. I'll go one further because its going to come up at the Rick Warren Come to Jesus--Obama's a committed christian who accepted jeezus christ on a cracker in his life, personally. McCain, not so much. Obama sat in a church pew for twenty years listening to something. McCain did not. See, contrasts!

Venocchi's column wobbles from a pretense of first person observation (she's the reporter who stands in for those of us who don't bother to watch TV or read the books) to a vague "this stuff is out there" as she retails republican talking points, acknowledges how fake they are, but then worries on Obama's behalf (while chastising him for failing to prevent the rumors) that "voters" will take this stuff seriously. Well, if they are true--that is that Obama's "ego" is so huge its like some kind of dangerous blancmange from outer space ready to eat the country, surely the voters should take it seriously. But if its all manufactured, as she more or less admits with her quotes from Rush Limbaugh and McCain's surrogates, exactly why is she rooting for it to take hold as the correct narrative for the race?

Venocchi is exactly the kind of op ed writer who makes readers despair. Its not that she's a partisan--I'd welcome outright partisanship at this point--its that she's a concern troll who retails second hand campaign propaganda from the conservative side as reportorial insight into the actual candidates.

My Crass Duchess

The weekly film at our local art house cinema, the beautifully restored Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, will be pre-empted tomorrow. Rather than showing Jacques Rivette's Duchess of Langeais, the Kirby will host a John McCain "Straight Talk Town Hall."
I wanted to see the movie, but maybe I'll attend the really big show instead. After all, the plots of the two events actually track pretty closely together, as you can see from this lightly-edited Metacritic blurb on the film:

[The Republican Party] is the Duchess of Langeais, a married coquette who frequents the most extravagant balls in 1820s Paris [1980s and 90s Washington] during the Restoration [Reagan Revolution], when hypocrisy and vanity reign. From the moment of the handsome general [John McCain]'s first meeting with her, he realized it was true love. Flattered by his attentions, the alluring [The Republican Party] orchestrates a calculating game of seduction, but she repeatedly refuses [McCain]. Despite his sincere romantic declarations, [McCain]'s passion remains unfulfilled. When the humiliated [McCain] eventually seeks his revenge [think McCain-Feingold, etc.], [The Republican Party]'s love awakens. But it may well be too late for the star-crossed lovers.
But not to worry, audiences of either the film or the campaign. When French or Republicans get together, somebody's sure to get screwed.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Random Flickr-Blogging: img_3008

Random Flickr-blogging explained. (Join the fun!)

Click on the images to see this week's entries, from:

Generik at The Generik Brand

Anthony Cartouche at Yazoo Street Scandal

George at I'm Not One To Blog, But...

shiltone at The King's Stilts