Archive for August, 2008

Question Of The Day

From MEC at Mercury Rising:

George W. Bush criticized the Chinese government for rounding up dissenters to prevent unseemly displays during the Olympic Games:

“America stands in firm opposition to China’s detention of political dissidents, human rights advocates and religious activists,” Bush will declare in the marquee speech of his three-nation Asia trip. “We speak out for a free press, freedom of assembly and labor rights — not to antagonize China’s leaders, but because trusting its people with greater freedom is the only way for China to develop its full potential.”

Is anybody going to ask him what he thinks about the police doing the exact same kind of pre-emptive strike against possible protesters in Minneapolis and St. Paul?

Well, that depends.  When you say “anybody,” do you mean media, Democrats, or filthy hippie bloggers?  My answers would be, respectively, Hell No, Possibly But Not Probably, and Hell Yes.

The answer will be something along the lines of, “We do not round up activists; the police were just using enhanced making-sure-everything-is-okay techniques.”

August 31st, 2008 at 10:31pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Blogosphere,Bush,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Elections,Media,Republicans,Wankers

Damn Interesting Fun With Microbes

Not sure how many of you read Damn Interesting (currently in reruns due to some book-writing-related program activities), but it is, well, exactly what it says: A compendium of obscure and fascinating information.

F’rinstance, did you know that 2.5 billion years ago, the Earth was almost fatally poisoned and frozen by an “oxygen catastrophe,” when cyanobacteria flooded the oceans and atmosphere with oxygen, which was poisonous to almost every lifeform on the planet, and which broke down the methane that was keeping temperatures above freezing?

The planet only pulled out of its deadly stall when the surviving bacteria started metabolizing oxygen into carbon dioxide, which replaced methane as the atmosphere’s greenhouse insulation.

(Which begs the question: What if there had been no cyanobacteria?  How would life have evolved in iron-rich seas and methane air?)

Or that there’s a sub-freezing (but still liquid) lake two miles underneath the Antarctic ice, which may or may not contain micro-organisms that have never been seen before?  Drilling was halted to prevent contamination from the surface world, as well as a possible deadly geyser of pressurized water.  The Russians are currently contemplating the use of a phallic drillbot to check it out.

Bizarre, fascinating stuff.

August 31st, 2008 at 08:12pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Blogosphere,Coolness,Environment,Science,Weirdness

So That’s Why Norquist Loves Palin

Fresh off her defense of her hubby, Sugar Momma comes to Sarah Palin’s rescue:

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know what Democrats are saying. It’s a desperate choice. She’s just not ready to serve as commander-in-chief.

C. MCCAIN: No, no, no. I completely disagree, and I know my husband does, too. She is heavily experienced in what she has done.

She was — she started out like everybody else — a member of the PTA, small government at home, then a mayor, now the governor. She comes with the kind of experience behind her. And also, I might add, a son who is about to deploy to Iraq….

You know, she — the experience that she comes from is with what she’s done in the government.

And, also, remember, Alaska is the closest part of our continent to Russia. So it’s not as if she doesn’t understand what’s at stake here.

No wonder Norquist is such a fan: Palin has experience running a government small enough to drown in a bathtub.

August 31st, 2008 at 06:58pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,McCain,Palin,Politics,Republicans

John McCain Doesn’t Care About Vets

I’d call it unbelievable, but it isn’t, really:

The McCain campaign has gone to great lengths to present the selection of Sarah Palin as one made after a careful, meticulous vetting process. But evidence continues to suggest that the Arizona Republican made his VP choice with surprising haste.

On Saturday, a Democrat tasked with opposition research contacted the Huffington Post with this piece of information: as of this weekend, the McCain campaign had not gone through old newspaper articles from the Valley Frontiersman, Palin’s hometown newspaper.

How does he know? The paper’s (massive) archives are not online. And when he went to research past content, he was told he was the first to inquire.

“No one else had requested access before,” said the source. “It’s unbelievable. We were the only people to do that, which means the McCain camp didn’t.”


If true, the failure of the Arizona Republican to access the newspaper clippings becomes another in a growing list of revelations that calls into question just how and why he made his decision to choose Palin. A rudimentary clip search, such as this, is presidential politics 101 as campaigns not only look for the majority of background information on any high-level appointee, but also try to prepare themselves from future attacks.

It has been previously reported that the McCain campaign did not contact Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan, who Palin pushed to have fired after he refused to remove her sister’s former husband from the state’s police force. That controversy, an investigation of which will be made public in late October, could cause major headaches for Palin in the days leading up to the election.

In addition, the former Republican House Speaker of Alaska, Gail Phillips, admitted to reporters that she was shocked by McCain’s choice of Palin, as “his advance team didn’t come to Alaska to check her out.”

I think the only serious vetting Palin received was ideological.  If she’s good enough for the religious right, she’s good enough for the totally independent-minded, not-at-all-beholden-to-anybody Maverick McCain.

1 comment August 31st, 2008 at 05:55pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,McCain,Palin,Politics

Juxtaposition Of The Week

Tristan Snell at OpenLeft:

Who chose Palin?

Well, it certainly wasn’t John McCain.

McCain only met Palin once, six months ago.  Unlike every other major party VP nominee in recent memory, Palin did not meet McCain for a final interview before her selection.  A few weeks ago, she wasn’t in the running at all.  The scandals and unorthodoxies involving Palin — she flip-flopped on the Bridge to Nowhere and even raised sales taxes on her small town to pay for an overpriced boondoggle — show that the McCain campaign didn’t vet her.  The McCains and Palins looked visibly awkward together, not even speaking as they went their separate ways on a brief shopping trip in Ohio yesterday.  McCain is on record as saying he wanted a running mate with whom he had a strong personal relationship — and who was ready to be president.

This was clearly not his pick.  So again: Who chose Palin?

Was it Dick Cheney?  Or Karl Rove?  Or maybe James Dobson?

Southern Baptist evangelical leader Richard Land, on CBS: Who’s on the list of people mentioned for VP that you think would most excite Southern Baptists and other members of the conservative faith community?

Richard Land: Probably Governor Palin of Alaska, because she’s a person of strong faith. She just had her fifth child, a Downs Syndrome child. And there’s a wonderful quote that she gave about her baby, and the fact that she would never, ever consider having an abortion just because her child had Downs Syndrome. She’s strongly pro-life.

She’s a virtual lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. She would ring so many bells. And I just think it would help with independents because she’s a woman. She’s a reform Governor. I think that, from what I hear, that would be the choice that would probably ring the most bells, along with Mike Huckabee, of course, who’s a Southern Baptist.


Circling back to Tristan:

1.  We place the focus on McCain rather than Palin.  Paul Rosenberg is right; the emphasis must be on his decision rather than on her personally.  As other have said, attacking her too directly is a trap: it could make us look hostile to women or elitist.

2.  We undermine McCain’s argument that he’s an independent maverick.  He emphasizes his willingness to depart from the GOP establishment, and yet that establishment — Rove? Cheney? — chose his running mate.  It is the logical conclusion and most egregious example of McCain’s decline from straight-talking centrist to sycophantic conservative, willing to do anything to win over Bush loyalists and Republican insiders.  And it shows that McCain would truly represent a third term for Dick Cheney and Karl Rove.

3.  We also rebut the cental theme of McCain’s campaign.  Country First?  Really?  When you’re willing to place a severely underqualified person with zero foreign policy or national security experience a heartbeat away from the presidency in order to satisfy your political patrons, are you really putting country first?  When you yourself are 72?  And you’ve staked your entire candidacy on promoting American strength?  Really?

4.  Even more fundamentally, we call into question McCain’s control and leadership over his own campaign.  If he can’t control his campaign, how could he control an administration?  Who will be making the decisions in a McCain White House — Rove and Cheney?  Is McCain his own man?  Or is he just a puppet?  The new Time piece on McCain already suggests that he’s being increasingly controlled by his advisors and consultants, no longer allowed to speak off the cuff or be open with reporters — leading him to be prickly and gruff.  So raising these questions could lead to a wave of media stories on McCain’s weakness and frustration at being controlled.   Similar stories about Kerry and Gore were devastating to their images and thus to their campaigns.

The Palin pick won McCain some initial good press, and it has raised some concerns among progressives.  But it has revealed a huge weakness in McCain’s candidacy — and if we take advantage of it, intelligently, it could be a tremendous gift.

McCain claims to be a maverick, but he caves in to the religious right just like he caved in to the Bush administration.  Not impressive, and the very real prospect of an inexperienced religious fanatic with a history of abusing executive power in the White House is flat-out terrifying.

(h/t Teddy Partridge for the Dick Land interview)

August 31st, 2008 at 05:02pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,McCain,Palin,Politics,Religion,Republicans

What Might Have Been

It’s kind of a shame that the Republicans didn’t end up with a Romney/Palin ticket, if for no other reason than that it would tickle me to have Track, Trig, and Tagg all on the same stage together.

August 31st, 2008 at 04:20pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,Palin,Romney

Rant Of The Month (Decade?)

This is truly a thing of beauty:

I’ve been reading about Mrs. Palin. My head didn’t explode until I read this:

She’s a hit [Mona Charen]
I’m getting tons of mail like this:

Sarah is real!!! What a fabulous contrast with Obama, who is not real. Sarah is from America. Obama is not.

If it was meant to bait me, well nom nom nom, I am eating the bait. I now officially hate these weasel fucks. And that’s saying something.


That smelly little excrescence above, that’s it in a nutshell. These are the people I want gone. Not just out of the White House, off the national stage. I want them out of the country, put on boats and sent to the southern ocean to circle the pole until they break up in the ice and drown. Mona Charen, daughter of privilege, who went from Livingston, N.J. to Barnard to the White House to the Capital Gang to the Corner, approvingly quoting an anonymous turd-juggler calling Sarah Palin “from America” and Barack Obama not from America. [Enter: Ghost of Ashley Morris] Fuck you, you fucking fucks. [Exit: Ghost] You are un-American. You don’t deserve to live in this country. You are simply too much, dare I say, of an elitist.

Since the ascendancy of Ronald Reagan, these people have been the self-appointed arbiters of Who Gets to be American. For nearly 30 years, they’ve sat in their well-paid jobs typing with their soft little hands, making the world safe for themselves. They are liars and hypocrites of the worst sort: Divorce is OK for Peggy Noonan, bad for you. Working mothers named Phyllis Schlafly or Mary Matalin or Mona Charen are good, but your job takes you away from your precious children just so you can be fulfilled, you selfish bitch. Homosexuals who want to live together under a legal contract will destroy marriage, but homosexuals married to opposite-sex partners (Hi, Mrs. Craig!) won’t. Bill “Double-down” Bennett repackages Aesop’s fables as “The Book of Virtues” and gambles his royalty checks in casino VIP rooms, but that’s OK.


They’ll snicker behind their hands at the funny names black people give their kids but think Track and Trig and Willow are fine names for, er, white children. Palin, from the 49th state, is “from America,” and Obama, from the 50th, isn’t. Palin hunts and fishes in exurban Anchorage — good. Obama works in inner-city Chicago — bad. They’re too self-deluded to see the truth before their eyes, that they’re both “America,” an America that can support and elevate people from such divergent backgrounds, who make such different choices. But they can’t see that, because only people who make choices they approve of get to be Americans.

You might say they don’t matter, these little foot soldiers. Yes, they do. They matter now more than ever, because they’re the amplifiers. They’re the bloggers and other chatterers who pick up the talking points and talk them to death.

Read the whole thing.  It’s just perfect.  My God, but I’m sick of always hearing about how Republicans and conservatives are Real Americans, and Democrats and progressives are elitist traitors who hate America.

And why is it that the people who supposedly love America so much have nothing but contempt for the Constitution, which is practically the very definition of America?

(h/t Julia)

August 31st, 2008 at 03:24pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Blogosphere,Coolness,Elections,McCain,Media,Obama,Palin,Politics,Quotes,Republicans

Republicans In Disarray!

Well, looky here – a senior editor of the Weekly Standard bashes the Republicans on the op-ed pages of the NYT:

Republicans this year faced a special difficulty, of course. Every American who’s not a Republican can’t stand them, a complication that robbed the platform writers of several traditional techniques.

The premise of most party platforms is that while this is the greatest country the world has ever seen whose most wonderful days lie just ahead, it’s headed straight for hell. Our only chance, therefore, is if you read these 50 boring pages and do exactly as we say.

Blame is easy to apportion: If your party holds the White House but not Congress, you blame Congress for the country’s precarious position. If you hold Congress you blame the White House.

But what if, for most of the previous eight years, you’ve held both the White House and Congress, and things are still a mess?

The draft platform’s answer is ingenious: Blame Republicans, too, just the way everybody else does.

This isn’t made explicit, but the meaning is clear. The writers distinguish between the grossly incompetent and corrupt Republican officeholders in Washington who created the mess and the terrifically thoughtful and luminous “grassroots Republicans” who sent the corrupt Republican officeholders to Washington in the first place. (We are to assume, needless to say, that John McCain and Sarah Palin are as grassrooted as Republicans can be.)

“The American people believe Washington is broken … and for good reason,” the draft concedes, without conceding too much. Special interests rule, expediency triumphs, congressmen are indicted. No need to mention any names.

Instead, the platform goes on, “As grassroots Republicans, we demand a return to our party’s core principles.” Such a revival, the platform implies, will fix just about everything.

That places the document on more familiar footing, and in the traditional manner it becomes a series of bold proposals, made all the bolder by the knowledge that, with the party safely slumped in a comfortable minority in both houses of Congress, there’s no chance they’ll be acted upon for the foreseeable future, no matter who the president is. “Core principles” are much easier to “return to” when they’re strictly hypothetical.

THIS freedom gives the document a freewheeling, devil-may-care flavor. Sometimes it even struts.

“Republicans,” the platform says, “will attack wasteful Washington spending immediately,” even though they can’t. They can’t impose anything on anybody, either, but nevertheless “we will impose an immediate moratorium on the earmarking system.”

Powerlessness opens up a limitless future. It has the fierce urgency of not right now.

It is vitally, existentially important for Republicans and conservatives to convince America that the Bush administration and its compliant Congress were not true conservatives, that everything that went wrong was a betrayal of modern American conservatism rather than its bitter fruit.

But the fact remains, that these “grassroots Republicans” are, in fact, the exact same people who gave the Bush administration a free hand to flush the American Constitution, economy, prestige, and military might right down the toilet of history.  I see no reason to expect them to behave any differently a second time around.

2 comments August 31st, 2008 at 01:59pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Elections,McCain,Media,Politics,Republicans

Presidential Campaign Etiquette

Now, admittedly, I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure that repeatedly checking out your running mate’s ass is bad form.

The nervous swallowing and fidgeting with the wedding ring are also nice touches, as is the way McCain clumsily advances on her at the end while she edges nervously away.

It gives a whole new meaning to his claim that he saw Palin as “a partner and a soulmate” the first time they met, doesn’t it?  I wonder if McCain fidgeted with his wedding ring before he started chasing Cindy around the table those many years ago…

3 comments August 31st, 2008 at 12:52pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,McCain,Monday Media Blogging,Palin,Republicans,Sexism,Weirdness

Sarah Palin Vs. Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin on the Bridge To Nowhere, 2006:

5. Would you continue state funding for the proposed Knik Arm and Gravina Island bridges?

Yes. I would like to see Alaska’s infrastructure projects built sooner rather than later. The window is now–while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist.

Sarah Palin on the Bridge To Nowhere, 2007:

Despite the work of our congressional delegation, we are about $329 million short of full funding for the bridge project, and it’s clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island. Much of the public’s attitude toward Alaska bridges is based on inaccurate portrayals of the projects here. But we need to focus on what we can do, rather than fight over what has happened.

Sarah Palin on the Bridge To Nowhere, 2008:

…I championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. In fact, I told Congress — I told Congress, “Thanks, but no thanks,” on that bridge to nowhere.

If our state wanted a bridge, I said we’d build it ourselves.

Yes, she was for it before she was against it.

Sarah Palin on Hillary Clinton, 2007:

She said she felt kind of bad she couldn’t support a woman, but she didn’t like Clinton’s whining.

Sarah Palin on Hillary Clinton, 2008:

I can’t begin this great effort without honoring the achievements of Geraldine Ferraro, back in 1984, and, of course, Senator Hillary Clinton who did show determination and grace in her presidential campaign.

I think Governor Palin will fit right in.

August 30th, 2008 at 07:52pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Clinton,Corruption/Cronyism,Elections,Palin,Politics,Quotes,Republicans

Sugar Momma Sticks Up For McCain

So not only is Cindy the source of all McCain’s money, now she’s fighting his battles, too:

For nearly two weeks, Democrats have repeatedly hit Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., for saying he is unaware of how many houses he owns, calling the presumptive Republican presidential nominee out of touch with everyday Americans.  In his acceptance speech at the Democratic convention on Thursday, Democratic nominee Barack Obama turned up the heat on McCain, saying he “doesn’t know” about the lives of middle-class Americans.

“I’m offended by Barack Obama saying that about my husband,” said McCain’s wife Cindy.
When asked if Obama went too far in his criticism of McCain, Cindy responded, “I do. I do. I really do.”

McCain also said [the] beer… distributorship her father built, which is the source of much her family’s wealth, typifies the American Dream.

“My father had nothing. He and my mother sold everything they had to raise $10,000,” she said. “I’m proud of what my dad and my mother did and what they built and left me.  And I intend to carry their legacy as long as I can.”

You know, I don’t really see how Cindy’s dad working his way up from nothing means that Cindy’s husband knows what economic hardship is like.

(h/t Bradrocket)

1 comment August 30th, 2008 at 04:49pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,McCain,Politics,Republicans

Book Of The Week

“American Wife,” by Curtis Sittenfeld:

The “American wife” of Sittenfeld’s new novel, conspicuously modeled after the life of Laura Bush as recorded in Ann Gerhart’s biography “The Perfect Wife: The Life and Choices of Laura Bush” (2004), is a fictitious first lady named Alice Blackwell, née Lindgren, a Wisconsin-born former grade school teacher and librarian who comes belatedly to realize, in middle age, at the height of the Iraq war that her aggressively militant president-husband has initiated and stubbornly continues to defend, that she has compromised her youthful liberal ideals: “I lead a life in opposition to itself.”


An idealistic grammar-school librarian of 31 when she is introduced to Charlie Blackwell and finds herself vigorously courted by him — as, she will later learn, “marriage material for a rising star of the Republican Party” — Alice is initially overwhelmed by the crude, bullying, overbearing wealthy Blackwell clan into which it seems to be her destiny to marry: “It came to me so naturally, such a casual reaction — I hate it here,” Alice thinks miserably as a houseguest at her fiancé’s family’s summer home in northern Wisconsin, a kind of nightmare boot camp where outsiders like Alice are initiated into the Blackwells’ tight-knit, fiercely loyal way of life. The mystery of Alice’s life — as it is the prevailing mystery of Laura Bush’s life, seen from the outside — is the wife’s seemingly unquestioned allegiance to a husband with values very different from her own, if not in mockery of her own. From the start, though attracted to Charlie Blackwell as a genial, charming presence, Alice also recognizes him as “churlish,” a “spoiled lightweight,” “undeniably handsome, but . . . cocky in a way I didn’t like,” shallow, egotistical, “some sort of dimwit,” an “aspiring politician from a smug and ribald family, . . . a man who basically . . . did not hold a job” and who will demand of her an unswerving devotion to his efforts: “Alice, loyalty is everything to my family. There’s nothing more important. Someone insults a Blackwell, and that’s it. . . . I don’t try to convince people. I cut them off.”

Here in embryo is the right-wing Republican’s chilling partisan-political strategy, which is repellant to Alice even as — seemingly helplessly, with a female sort of acquiescence in her fate — she acknowledges feeling a “sprawling, enormous happiness” with him that sweeps all rational doubts aside: Charlie “was all breeziness and good cheer; when I was talking to him, the world did not seem like such a complicated place.” Yet more pointedly, as the first lady thinks well into the president’s second term: Charlie “always reminds me . . . of an actor going onstage, an insurance salesman or perhaps the owner of the hardware store who landed the starring role in the community-theater production of ‘The Music Man.’ Oh, how I want to protect him! Oh, the outlandishness of our lives, familiar now and routine, but still so deeply strange. ‘I love you, too,’ I say.”

Though “American Wife” is respectful of the first lady, its portrait of the president is rather more mixed, cartoonish: chilling, too, in its combination of steely indifference to opposing political viewpoints and crude frat-boy humor: ” ‘See, that’s what makes America great — room for all kinds of opposing viewpoints,’ ” Charlie says to Alice. She continues: “I can tell Charlie’s grinning, then I hear an unmistakable noise, a bubbly blurt of sound, and I know he’s just broken wind. Though I’ve told him it’s inconsiderate, I think he does it as much as possible in front of his agents. He’ll say, ‘They think it’s hilarious when the leader of the free world toots his own horn!’ ”


If there is an American gothic tale secreted within “American Wife,” it’s one of unconscionable, even criminal behavior cloaked in the reassuring tones of the domestic; political tragedy reduced to the terms of situation comedy, in this way nullified, erased. How to take Charlie Blackwell seriously as a purveyor of evil? We can’t, not as we see him through his wife’s indulgent eyes smiling “as he does when he’s broken wind particularly loudly, as if he’s half sheepish and half pleased with himself.” The ideal American wife can only retreat into a kind of female solace of opacity: “For now I will say nothing; amid the glaring exposure, there must remain secrets that are mine alone.”

Intriguing… and creepy.  Sittenfeld has clearly been paying attention.

August 30th, 2008 at 12:46pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Books,Bush

Friday Quote & Orangutan Blogging

This week’s quote is from the Roy Scheider helicopter movie Blue Thunder:

I think morals are good for ya – I love morals. And the moral of this story is, if you’re walking on eggs – don’t hop.

And, of course, there’ll be other people’s orangutans…

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August 29th, 2008 at 05:51pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Cuteness,Friday Quote & Cat Blogging,La Jolla/San Diego,Photoblogging

The Trouble With Tibbles

Veep – that’s where I’m a Viking!

Jonathan Singer compares McCain’s new running mate with another distinguished Republican veep:

It has been forty years since someone as inexperienced as Sarah Palin has been put on a national ticket, and surprisingly enough there are some real similarities between Palin and her unprepared predecessor, Spiro T. Agnew, who also had been governor less than two years at the time Richard Nixon picked him to be his number two and who also had a corruption problem lingering in the background that would end up causing his running mate problems.

Prior to being sworn in as the Governor of Alaska a mere 19 months ago, Palin served as the mayor and a city councilor of the small city of Wasilla, which according to 2005 census estimates had a population of 8,471. This hardly rounds out the type of resume traditionally seen in vice presidential candidates — and indeed is one of the two thinnest resumes of any major party vice presidential nominee since 1936, the only other nominee to match her level of inexperience being Agnew, who had also only served two years as Governor (though of the significantly larger state of Maryland) by the time he was sworn in as Vice President in January 1969.

Better yet, she had her chief of staff pushing to get her ex-brother-in-law fired:

Gov. Sarah Palin on Wednesday revealed an audio recording that shows an aide pressuring the Public Safety Department to fire a state trooper embroiled in a custody battle with her sister.

Palin, who has previously said her administration didn’t exert pressure to get rid of trooper Mike Wooten, also disclosed that members of her staff had made about two dozen contacts with public safety officials about the trooper.


The majority of the calls came from Palin’s chief of staff at the time, Mike Tibbles, according to information gathered by the state attorney general’s office. Attorney General Talis Colberg and Palin’s husband, Todd, also contacted Monegan about the trooper.

Inexperienced and corrupt!  Hell, if there were rumors that she was a Muslim, the Republicans wouldn’t have anything to throw at Obama.

On the plus side, she sounds very qualified to do what Republicans do best: Abuse government power for their own gratification.

August 29th, 2008 at 11:50am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Elections,McCain,Palin,Politics,Republicans

With Us On Everything Except The War

Pachacutec calls them on it:

We’ve been hearing from the Senate leadership since 2006 that Joe Lieberman is “with us on everything but the war.” We asked Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin to offer an example a piece of critical legislation the Senate had passed with Joe Lieberman’s assistance. The role of the Majority Whip is to count caucus votes and enforce party voting discipline.

Senator Durbin pointedly declined to answer the question and characterized it as illegitimate, ultimately putting his hand in front of the camera and asking me to account for my whereabouts and clothing as of three o’clock yesterday afternoon, as an example of – from his perspective – putting someone on the spot unfairly.

I’m not so sure he’s used to answering questions from people who do … journalism.

Putting him on the spot unfairly?  If Lieberman is with us on everything except the war, then all Durbin had to do is think of one vote about something other than the war.  Surely he should be able to do that in his sleep, right?

I mean, unless it’s total bullshit, of course.

August 28th, 2008 at 10:17pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Blogosphere,Democrats,Iraq,Lieberman,Politics,Republicans,Wankers,War

So Many Wankers, So Little Time…

Probably not the same guy…

I’m not sure he can top today’s WOTD, but McCain’s healthcare adviser is pretty damn bad:

John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, thinks the numbers put out by the Census highlighting Texas’ [health insurance] plight are “misleading:”

But the numbers are misleading, said John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a right-leaning Dallas-based think tank. Mr. Goodman, who helped craft Sen. John McCain’s health care policy, said anyone with access to an emergency room effectively has insurance, albeit the government acts as the payer of last resort. (Hospital emergency rooms by law cannot turn away a patient in need of immediate care.)

“So I have a solution. And it will cost not one thin dime,” Mr. Goodman said. “The next president of the United States should sign an executive order requiring the Census Bureau to cease and desist from describing any American – even illegal aliens – as uninsured. Instead, the bureau should categorize people according to the likely source of payment should they need care.

“So, there you have it. Voila! Problem solved.”

That’s right. John Goodman’s solution to the health care crisis in America is to change the definition of “uninsured” so that magically, everyone is insured.

Brilliant!  Everyone can get free healthcare… once it’s too late to help.  Either that, or the threshold for visiting the ER gets so low that people start dropping like flies in overcrowded waiting rooms.

Goodman’s phony solution is a textbook example of the Republican power-of-words, we-create-our-own-reality strategy of solving problems by defining them away.  Just like how the Bush administration’s “eliminated” illegal torture, detentions, and wiretapping by bullying Congress into making them legal, or toyed with the idea of reclassifying fast food work as “manufacturing,” or when the Reagan administration famously tried to turn school cafeteria ketchup into a vegetable.

But wait, the wankery doesn’t end there!  It sounds like this charming Goodman fellow is probably a fan of today’s WOTD:

Here is the variation in life expectancy among ethnic and racial groups in the United States and as you can see, it’s all over the map. […] but doctors just don’t control our over eating, over smoking, and shoot outs in the hood.

Fascinating.  Apparently the neverending gang wars that all minorities participate in contribute just as much to their mortality rates as substandard healthcare.  Not that Republicans would be interested in doing anything about that either, other than locking up anyone who even looks like they might be wearing gang colors.

August 28th, 2008 at 07:36pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,Healthcare,McCain,Politics,Racism,Republicans,Wankers

Wanker Of The Day

WorldNetDaily’s Craig Smith, who has apparently never seen Barack Obama or George W. Bush in action:

…Barack Obama will be our first hip-hop president.

I can only imagine how the world will embrace the leader of the free world when he introduces other foreign leaders with, “give it up for my man Vladimir.” Giving “props” for joining us in a treaty. Or the first lady Michelle talking about “my man” the “daddy of my babies” when referring to the president. That should go over well everywhere from 10 Downing Street right on down to the streets of the Middle East.

The use of ghetto slang during the primaries and even today may be a clear indication just how the Obamas intend to “roll” if given the privileged seat in the Oval Office. Of course, having no sense of decorum and awe is nothing new to Democrats. Bill Clinton did a masterful job of disgracing the office, and I expect no less from Obama if given the chance.

But he will be so fly!

I can see it now. Air Force One decked out with “22s” and spinners. Maybe even a set of hydraulics. Watching the hip-hop president in the Oval Office with his baseball cap on backward coping a gansta lean in the big chair. Should be really pimp, don’t you think? Cool man, real cool. Instead of giving away presidential cuff links to guests, as is the custom, he will offer “bling bling.”

Wow. That wasn’t racist or insane at all, was it? What campaign has Smith been watching for the past year? What presidency has he been watching for the last seven? Did he miss Dubya giving a most unwelcome backrub to the president of Germany, or interrupting and swearing at the PM of Great Britain with his mouth full and addressing him as “Yo, Blair”? There has never been a president with less gravitas or respect for the office.

Meanwhile, Obama is running gracious, eloquent and dignified rings around John McCain. But I guess because he’s a black man, he automatically fits into every right-wing ghetto stereotype, and is simply keeping his “true” nature under wraps until it’s too late.

But even if all Smith’s racist madness (which I’m sure will be explained away as “satire”) were true, I bet the world community would still prefer to deal with a “gangsta” than a war criminal.

August 28th, 2008 at 11:49am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Elections,Media,Obama,Politics,Racism,Republicans,Wankers

Xenophobic Jerome Corsi Enabler Accosts Michelle Malkin

Hmm, Alex Jones, Alex Jones, where have I heard that name before…  Ah, here we go:

On August 4, author Jerome Corsi, appeared on the syndicated radio program The Alex Jones Show — the host of which is described on his website as “considered by many to be the grandfather of what has come to be known as the 9/11 Truth Movement” — to promote his book The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality (Threshold Editions, August 2008). During the interview, Corsi baselessly claimed that as a child, “Obama got Islamic instruction, and it wasn’t mainstream Islamic instruction,” after which host Alex Jones asserted that “we should not have anybody as president who — both their parents aren’t Americans,” saying “this allows infiltration.” After further discussing family members of Obama’s who are Muslim, Jones asserted of Obama: “He is a ringer, folks. He’s meant to take a dive for John McCain. So this is nonpartisan. The facts are in. He will be destroyed in this election.”

…Which makes it even more ironic that his biggest beef with Malkin is that she wrote a book advocating the imprisonment of Muslim-Americans in internment camps.  Needless to say, the right-wing bloggers are saying that Jones is a leftist.  I guess this is what happens when they can’t get any actual progressives to attack them.

Am I the only one who thinks Jones & Malkin deserve each other?

(h/t Gavin)

1 comment August 28th, 2008 at 07:08am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Blogosphere,Politics,Racism,Republicans,Wankers

Happy Birthday, Minifig!

The little yellow Lego dude is now old enough to lie about his age.

On August 25, 1978, the Lego minifigure was born. This was a hugely important transition for Lego. For many years they sold sets allowing builders to create cars or buildings, but something was missing — a human element. The minifig gave them that humanity, and very quickly it became an iconic symbol of the company second only to the brick itself.

The first minifigs had yellow skin and fixed, pleasant expressions. It was not until 1989 that this changed, with a pirates set debuting figures with eye patches, hook hands and peg legs. 1997 saw the minifig’s official entry into the digital realm, starring in the videogame Panic on Lego Island. It was not until 1998 that minifigs with realistic skin tones were released, in conjunction with a new line of sports figures. As of 2004, all licensed products featured minifigs with natural coloration.


Gizmodo’s contest involves celebrating the minifig by making movies:

To mark the 30th Anniversary of the minifig, Gizmodo is celebrating a video contest with Lego. The objective: to create a movie in honor of the minifig. The short could be made using any technique you want as long as it’s creative and fun. The prizes? Huge ones. First, the most amazing vintage sets ever: the Galaxy Explorer and the Yellow Castle — needless to say, the value of these sets, which are new in their original boxes, goes off the charts. The third prize will be a special set designed by Lego owner Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, plus there will also be smaller vintage space and town sets, a whole bunch of the new vintage minifigure series, and some newer sets for the runner-ups. Yes, a whole brickload of incredible stuff.

The Gizmodo challenge is a partnership with the Lego Group and you can download logos from their promotional site to put in your videos. There are also fun stuff like trivia and games, plus a fantastic 3-D version of the above video, if you got the specs.

Pretty cool.  I wish I could make movies, but still photography is pretty much my creative limit.

August 27th, 2008 at 06:20pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness

Quote Of The Month

That’s my Senator!

Bob Casey had the best line of the entire presidential campaign:

John McCain votes with Bush 95% of the time.  That’s not a maverick – that’s a sidekick!

Exactly.  McCain is not moderate or independent, he’s not some kind of courageous renegade against Republican orthodoxy.  He is just as much in thrall to the corporate, neocon, and fundamentalist elements of the GOP that have done so much damage to this country over the last eight years.

If there is any one quote that strikes at the heart of McCain’s appeal, that needs to be repeated and spread around until it sticks in every voter’s brain, this is the one.

August 27th, 2008 at 11:27am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Democrats,Elections,McCain,Politics,Quotes

Wanker Of The Day

Ron Fournier.

Yep, he’s at it again.  News flash for Ron: Primary opponents say negative stuff about each other because they’re competing for the nomination.

I have this sneaking suspicion that if Romney and/or Huckabee delivers a unity speech at the Republican National Convention, Phonier Fournier will rave about how he healed the party and brought everyone together.

Prove me wrong, Ron.  Show us that you’re not the mindlessly pro-Republican hack you appear to be.  Besides, maybe a little honest political analysis would convince some newspapers to keep paying for your sorry ass.

August 27th, 2008 at 07:12am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Clinton,Elections,McCain,Media,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

Inexplicable Applause Line Of The Day

Barbara Boxer at the Democratic National Convention, saying that when it comes to Senate votes, 60 is the new 50.

“Hooray, we can’t get anything done!  Yippee!!!”

Maybe she meant that they were going to have 60 seats after this election, but that’s not how I heard it…

1 comment August 26th, 2008 at 07:38pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Elections,Politics

California Hotel Photoblogging

Just a couple photos from the hotel in La Jolla:
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Ceci n’est pas une pipe.

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Not entirely sure what this is a warning for, but it sure is terrifying.

August 26th, 2008 at 11:15am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: La Jolla/San Diego,Photoblogging

John McCain Is A Caring Nurturer

Jesus’ General has put all the pieces together, and revealed John McCain for the compassionate, stand-up guy he truly is:

Remember that incident when Sen. McCain called his wife a cunt? I’ve had a very hard time justifying it to people. Indeed, my attempts to do so usually end with me getting kicked in the grenades so hard I vomit.

Well, last week, I heard something on CNN that should help me explain that incident a little better. It was one of those things where the anchor gives one of their star reporters a few minutes to regurgitate a campaign’s latest talking points, raw, unedited, and without the clutter of analysis. In this case the reporter, John King, related a rather heartwarming story about Sen. McCain’s relationship with his old Naval Academy roommate, Frank Gamboa.

Gamboa was one of the first Mexican-Americans allowed to attend the Naval Academy. Being the first isn’t easy and he became the target of some pretty vicious race-inspired hazing. Sen. McCain was one of his most enthusiastic persecutors, calling him “Mex” and giving him a very hard time. But he did so out of love, later explaining that he was simply preparing Gamboa for the racial discrimination he’d face as an officer in the fleet.

I’d like to think that’s the same reasoning he employed when he called his wife a cunt. He was simply toughening her up for the hardship she’d face as a beer heiress and wife of a US Senator.

So you see, calling her a cunt wasn’t the the act of uncontrolled misogynistic rage it appeared to be; it was an expression of the kind of love and respect a man should have for his wife.

The same holds true for all the “Obama is after our white women” ads the McCain campaign has been running. He’s simply helping Barack Obama prepare for all the racial bigotry he’ll face for the rest of his career.

What a relief!  It’s good to know that even if our candidate loses, we’ll still end up with a president who cares deeply about racial and sexual equality and common decency.  He’s like a teacher, really, the way he helps people come to grips with the adversity they’ll face in life.

August 26th, 2008 at 07:15am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,Racism,Republicans,Sexism

PUMA Power!

I had not realized just how dodgy the supposedly pro-Hillary PUMA (“Party Unity, My Ass!”) people were, or just how many branches of them there were until I saw this handy rundown. If there were any doubt in my mind that they were all Republican phonies, it’s pretty much gone now.

Fortunately, they’re also a bunch of pathetic incompetent losers who can’t even keep their own lies straight.

(h/t Gavin)

August 25th, 2008 at 08:25pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

B&W Inanimate San Diego Zoo Photoblogging

Hey, it’s not all animals.
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The ceiling of a little rest alcove with benches, if I recall correctly.

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Some bolty things, I don’t remember the context at all.

August 25th, 2008 at 05:51pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: La Jolla/San Diego,Photoblogging

My Liberal Media

Headline in today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Liberals a sideshow in Denver. And it just goes downhill from there…

The liberal — at least the variant most commonly found in late-20th-Century America, the one who would regulate business, support broad racial, ethnic, sexual and religious tolerance and expand government programs, and, yes, taxes, to help the poor — seems to be something of an endangered species here at the Democratic National Convention.


[O]ver the next four nights, Democratic Party centrists rather than liberals will dominate the convention’s prime-time speaking spots, with speeches from governors and senators from the mountain states of Colorado, Arizona and Montana. — whose combined electoral votes are being targeted by the Obama campaign as a key to victory in November.

The convention’s keynote speaker tomorrow night is Mark Warner, the former Virginia governor and current U.S. Senate candidate, an early supporter of the Iraq war who worked well with Republicans while governor and is not considered a liberal.

Perhaps even more tellingly, another speaker that night is U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, whose father, the Gov. Bob Casey — a staunch abortion opponent — was not even permitted to address the convention in 1992.


Liberalism, like any ideology, has waxed and waned as a force in American political life over the years, but its most recent decline has been more than 40 years in the making, noted Thomas Sugrue, a professor of history and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 split apart an already fractured coalition of New Deal liberals — black and white Americans both — a coalition forged in working class cities like Detroit but one that had struggled with unresolved issues of racial identity and politics over the years.

Today, that split between working class whites and blacks remains — just look at the vote in Pennsylvania and other states full of conservative white Democrats, he said.

Liberalism, however, may not even be a factor in voter distrust of Mr. Obama, who is perceived less as a libereal than as an out-of-touch elitist who can’t relate to the ordinary American voter, Mr. Sugrue said.


[E]ven as Democrats have captured gubernatorial and Senate offices in Virginia and in Western states like Colorado, Montana and elsewhere, “you could argue that a shift to Democrats doesn’t mean a shift to liberalism,” said Dan Myers, a longtime political reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer who is now a host and producer at National Public Radio’s Denver station, KCFR.


“Is the Democratic party shifting from being the party of Ted Kennedy to Jim Webb, from liberal lions like Sen. Carl Levin to moderates like Evan Bayh of Indiana?” asked Mr. Sugrue. “In some ways, that’s the contest that’s going to play out this year and in the next few years.

“The John Testers of Montana, the Mark Warners of Virginia, these are the folks we used to call ‘Blue Dog Democrats,’ the ones from the right wing of the Democratic party. Today, some might argue they’re the future of it.”

It’s always irritating to see these Liberalism In Decline stories in the media, but it’s even more irritating to realize that they’re a fairly accurate description… of the Democratic Party.  As for Americans in general, I’m pretty sure that after eight years of seeing the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of modern conservatism at work, most of them are more than ready to go in the opposite direction, especially if it means universal healthcare and genuinely serious foreign policy.

Unfortunately, the Democrats continue to insist on using, “You know, the Republicans have a point” as their starting position, which is absolutely the last thing they should be saying after the Republicans have so decisively proven that they have no idea what they’re talking about.  I fear that they will pay the price at the polls, and we will pay the price everywhere else.

And yet, they never figure out why they lose.  It’s one of the many things the Democrats and Republicans have in common – they attribute all their failures to not being conservative enough.

August 25th, 2008 at 11:34am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Elections,Media,Obama,Pittsburgh/PA,Politics,Wankers

Monday Media Blogging – Muppet Culture Edition

Beaker sings Ode To Joy.

It goes about as wrong as you’d expect…

Beaker sings the Habanera from Carmen, with help from the Swedish Chef and Animal.

It’s the rose that makes this genius.

5 comments August 25th, 2008 at 06:51am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Monday Media Blogging

David Ignatius, Reporting From Earth-Three

Anyone here remember Earth-Three? The one where the Justice League Of America is evil, and Lex Luthor is the only superhero?  I think that must be where Ignatius is living these days – there, or Bizarro World.

By being as tough and unyielding as their GOP rivals, they won back control of Congress….

The titles — Pelosi’s “Know Your Power” and Reid’s “The Good Fight” — sound almost pugilistic. They reveal the mind-set that has made these leaders such effective partisan brawlers.

Pelosi and Reid are each throwbacks to the muscular Democratic Party of several generations ago….

These old-fashioned Democrats don’t just oppose Republicans; they actively dislike them….

Pelosi and Reid rose to leadership positions during the hyper-partisan years of Republican control of Congress, and it shows. They are the people who refused to be Swift-boated, DeLay-ed or otherwise crushed by the Republican attack machine. They attacked back and were as vengeful as the Republicans….

Obama (unlike Reid and Pelosi) is not someone you’d want at your side in a bar fight.

Wow.  You know, if Social Security weren’t “facing bankruptcy” in Iggy’s universe, I would totally want to move there.

(Also, if my understanding of a “generation” is correct, Ignatius is apparently referring to the bare-knuckled Democratic Party of the late 18th or early 19th century.)

1 comment August 24th, 2008 at 02:50pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Elections,Media,Politics,Wankers

Juxtaposition Of The Day

From AP Republican shill Ron Fournier’s hit piece on Obama’s selection of Joe Biden:

Biden is anything but a change agent, having been in office longer than half of all Americans have been alive. Longer than McCain.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Ron Fournier has covered national politics for The Associated Press for nearly 20 years.

Insiders are bad… except when they’re the media.

Hey, it’s a good thing Obama didn’t choose Galactus, or Fournier would be harping on Obama’s lack of confidence in his ability to devour worlds.

3 comments August 23rd, 2008 at 05:17pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Biden,Media,Obama,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

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