Archive for August 31st, 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:

CBSNews.com: 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.

Hmm.

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RN5xbWtNSU

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


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