Monday, June 30, 2008
And I find it bizarre that Mike Allen's sources claim that Mitt Romney is "squeaky clean, and fully vetted by the national media." Romney has more baggage than Chicago Midway's lower level; it's just that none of it bespeaks corruption. It stretches credulity to argue that the Crazy Train's VP committee would pick Romney, a candidate who proved vulnerable to every anti-Republican narrative ever devised, from being a classic chickenhawk to a closet authoritarian to the Great Pandering Social Conservative Flip-Flopper of the Ages.
Friday, June 27, 2008
I'm actually pretty excited about this movie.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
You are wrong. Here's an example of why you are wrong: I am awesome. These are the ways in which I am awesome. The things that make me awesome are obvious and commonsense, and everyone could be as awesome as me if they weren't so stupid. You would agree with me if you weren't stupid, too.
Characterizing sex offenders as monsters, Gov. Bobby Jindal signed legislation Wednesday that would force convicted rapists and others to undergo chemical castration.
“I am glad we have taken such strong measures in Louisiana to put a stop to these monsters’ brutal acts,” the governor said in a prepared statement.
I don't care if this can be done via drugs instead of a scalpel. How on earth does disfigurement and sterilization not qualify as cruel and unusual punishment?
Then again, I guess it's all relative. Is it that much less cruel and unusual to put someone to death? Or for that matter, to condemn them to being repeatedly anally raped?
Yeah, this is a serious ad, and yeah, this is about John Cornyn's intellectual caliber. Who wouldn't want to have a "brew or two" with the Bad Ass Christian Cowboy Senator? Especially the one who kinda looks like John Lithgow?
For those of you who don't remember the esteemed Senator from
He also had a classic exchange with Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin after the revelations of the Bush Administration's warrantless wiretapping. Cornyn says to Feingold:
"None of your civil liberties matter much after you're dead."
"Give me liberty or give me death."
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Rehashing and justifying all the reasons why Clintonistas think they got screwed by the media/the party/Republicans/"them" doesn't do anything but delay the decomposition of sour grapes. Yes, we know that the media didn't treat Clinton fairly (at least between the inevitability period of 2007 and the Saturday Night Live sketch in February or March); are there any Clinton supporters alive who didn't already know that our national discourse in misogynist (that's not to say, of course, that it isn't also racist)? "Dean screwed us out of Florida and Michigan," on the other hand, is not even a rational argument and whenever a Clintonista apologist writes about it as if it is, it just makes them look like they're nursing a grudge as well.
Conversely, writing big articles about how they'll get over it and fall in line (even if true) is also not helpful. It sounds patronizing. Just let them grieve, for God's sake.
While locavores list numerous reasons for eating local -- including freshness, taste and boosting regional economies -- one primary argument is protection of the environment. Long-distance food transport sucks up more fossil fuels, says the Farmers Market Web site, and unleashes more carbon dioxide onto our planet.
That does sound dire. But what if conventional distributors make up for the long journeys by driving big trucks packed with produce? Let's say a distributor travels 1,000 miles and carries 1,000 apples to market, while 10 local farmers each drive a pickup 100 miles and carry 100 apples each. The local farmers log fewer food miles but cover the same total distance -- and use a comparable amount of fossil fuels -- for the same amount of food.
It appears to me that Kwok's hypothesis here relies entirely upon the assumption that per mile a distributor's barge and 18-wheeler generates the same amount of carbon emissions as a farmer's pickup, which is inconceivable to me. In other words, 1000 miles is 1000 miles, whether traversed by a Ford or a Peterbilt.
Is my logic solid or am I missing something?
What do you see as the gravest long-term threat to the U.S. economy?
Obama: If we don’t get a handle on our energy policy, it is possible that the kinds of trends we’ve seen over the last year will just continue. Demand is clearly outstripping supply. It’s not a problem we can drill our way out of. It can be a drag on our economy for a very long time unless we take steps to innovate and invest in the research and development that’s required to find alternative fuels. I think it’s very important for the federal government to have a role in that process.
McCain: Well, I would think that the absolute gravest threat is the struggle that we’re in against Islamic extremism, which can affect, if they prevail, our very existence. Another successful attack on the United States of America could have devastating consequences. You’ve been a supporter of climate-change legislation that would essentially impose a penalty on the use of fossil fuel.
Wow. Now that's what I call "contrast!"
Can I just highlight the fact that McCain just told you that if you don't vote for him the terrorists might just blow up AMERICA!?
Monday, June 23, 2008
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Once you internalize the fact that banks and credit card companies no longer look out for your best interests, but are instead trying to swindle you, the way you look at debt and loans changes. You react to them less like your friends and parents do, and more like your grandparents did!
"He was corrupt," said a family friend who once employed him.
"He always lied," said a fellow Burger King worker.
And records reveal that when Alwan fled to Germany, one step ahead of the Iraq Justice Ministry, an arrest warrant had been issued alleging that he sold filched camera equipment on the Baghdad black market.
Alwan didn't share all his secrets. He didn't disclose that he had been fired at least twice for dishonesty, or that he fled Iraq to avoid arrest. But he did tell some whoppers that should have raised warnings about his credibility.
He claimed, for example, that the son of his former boss, Basil Latif, secretly headed a vast weapons of mass destruction procurement and smuggling scheme from England. British investigators found, however, that Latif's son was a 16-year-old exchange student, not a criminal mastermind.
In early 2002, a year before the war, he told co-workers at the Burger King that he spied for Iraqi intelligence and would report any fellow Iraqi worker who criticized Hussein's regime.
They couldn't decide if he was dangerous or crazy.
"During breaks, he told stories about what a big man he was in Baghdad," said Hamza Hamad Rashid, who remembered an odd scene with the pudgy Alwan in his too-tight Burger King uniform praising Hussein in the home of der Whopper. "But he always lied. We never believed anything he said."
Another Iraqi friend, Ghazwan Adnan, remembers laughing when he applied for a job at a local Princess Garden Chinese Restaurant and discovered Alwan washing dishes in the back while claiming to be "a big deal" in Iraq. "How could America believe such a person?"
This guy was a primary source for George W. Bush's prewar WMD claims. Remember the mobile weapons labs in Colin Powell's UN presentation? All Curveball.
Early in the primary campaign, way back before Obama caught on and started raking in the donations, he implied that he'd be willing to take public financing if the Republican nominee agreed, if airtime was provided free, and if they could get the 527's to stay out of the election.
On the one hand, he should never have said this, but I think he didn't realize the universality of his own appeal (an odd weakness for a guy running for president). The GOP will hit him for backing out after McCain called his bluff (after all, McCain's staring down the barrel of a massive funding disadvantage at the very moment that a boatload of swing states come into play), and that's fine. You can't fault the guy for failing to foresee that he would be the beneficiary of hundreds of millions of dollars in grassroots money, but he should have been more careful about agreeing to forego potential advantages down the stretch.
On the other hand, I'm glad he opted out for 2 reasons. One, the whole problem with candidates not taking public financing is that it then leaves them open to being unduly influenced by big business as opposed to "the people." Obama has circumvented this issue by adopting especially stringent standards on accepting lobbyist money, making his campaign one funded largely by small donors, that is, us, "the people." And why would we want to curtail that?
The other reason is more pragmatic: why cede advantages you gained by perfectly fair means? For the last 20 years Democrats have been swamped in the polls by Republican money, money that was traded for lobbyist influence and that the GOP never once agreed to forego for the sake of a corporate money-free election. The favorite party of MBNA, Blackwater, and Enron would still get its corporate cash and use it to smear Obama in a publicly financed campaign, only in that case it would happen courtesy of PACs and 527s and the RNC, and only a fool would give up the legitimate, grassroots cash that allows him to compete with that. Working class people are cutting him those checks specifically for that purpose.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Since when did "winning by 4" translate into "coasting?"
Candidates hit their stride and staff get replaced. It happens all the time. McCain stumbled out of the gate but the race has only just begun.
In August 2000, Bush was up by over 15 points. He ended up losing the popular vote by half a point.
Just so we're clear, John McCain wasn't just a supporter of privatizing Social Security, he went out and campaigned with George W. Bush to win support for the idea. And now that the idea is universally unpopular, he's lying about it.
Monday, June 16, 2008
In a properly functioning heterosexual household, the chores are naturally divided for maximum efficiency: the woman does the cooking and the cleaning, and the man does all the heavy football-watching.
But in my household, we're both watching football while the kitchen goes un-mopped. At commercial breaks, we stare at each other puzzled: Who's going to bring us another beer? Who's going to make us more guacamole (the good kind of fat)? (1)
Meanwhile, our health is suffering. Neither of us can boil a pot of water, so we're ordering pizza and take-out Chinese with frightening regularity.
As further proof, we hear our female-female counterparts have mopped the kitchen so much that they've worn through the linoleum.
That's right - even holidays are so aligned as to show the absurdity of gay relationships. You might think that a bunch of days picked out for celebration - some arbitrary, some not - wouldn't affect the definition of relationships. Think again!
First, there are no "To my husband" cards that include pictures of half-naked men. At most, they may include pictures of half-naked women. He doesn't want to see that. I don't want to see that. Hell, outside of a few movies, I've never seen that at all. The industry is simply not prepared to muddy the waters of gender expectations.
Second, and more importantly: between the two of us, we manage to forget every single birthday, anniversary, and holiday in the calendar. And that includes our own. Clearly, homosexual relationships are a threat to the economic sustainability of the greeting card industry.
In a healthy heterosexual relationship, the man asserts his dominance in the household by granting his woman the use of his last name.(2) But in a homosexual relationship, without the clearly-defined power structures in place, how can we decide who gets to take whose name?
Our society is simply not equipped to deal with the amount of confusion that the name game causes. If we keep our names separate, no one will realize that we're a couple. But if we take the same last name, how will we answer the telephone operator who asks to speak to "Mr. So-and-So"?
"Which one?" I answer.
"The head of the household, please."
"Which one?" I answer.
"Which one?" I answer.
Simply put, the convenience of our social assumptions will be dangerous undermined.
And don't even get me started on the "Who gets to be called `Dad'?" issue.
In a normal heterosexual relationship, laundry is a cinch. Usually, the woman can get it all done in a few hours with no confusion.
But my partner is roughly the same height as I am, and while it may be easy to sort through shirts and pants, one undeniable fact has presented itself: sorting through underwear and socks is a disaster. We end up with a pile of unmatched socks, not knowing whose are whose, and eventually give up and toss them all into one drawer.
I haven't worn a matching pair of socks in over three years.
If the good God had wanted people of the same sex to marry, he'd have created laundry baskets with separate compartments. The gender-neutral clothes hamper speaks volumes about reality's well-known heterosexual bias.
More and more cars come with this kind of interior flexibility, which allows many families to drop down one size category and still get the same practicality. Most appealing are a dozen or so crossovers, like the Saturn Outlook, Toyota Highlander, and Mazda CX-9, that can haul nearly as many people as a minivan or big SUV, but in a tidier package.
That's because, once again, they're station wagons! Am I really the only person noticing this? Did Sap replace my vitamins with crazy pills?
Let's go over this again. Here are the
The Toyota Highlander:
And the Mazda CX-9:
Now let's take one more look at the control group:
No resemblance? Really?
Look, station wagons were fine cars, I've got nothing agin' 'em, but let's stop kidding ourselves. If you really need to call your station wagon something else to feel better about the size of your tailpipe, methinks the car isn't the problem.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Specifically, his special comment on Hillary Clinton's RFK remark, and his placement of Katy Couric atop his "worst person in the world" list had draw some pretty harsh rebukes, and deservedly so.
James Poniewozik wrote of Olbermann:
Even if we concede his argument--that Clinton was at best callously and at worst intentionally suggesting she should stay in the race because Obama might be killed--every time he turns up the volume to 11 like this lately, he sounds like just another of the cable gasbags he used to be a corrective to.
How did we go from naming Rupert Murdoch the "Worst Person in the World" to adding America's sweetheart Katie Couric to that list? Ah, right: Because Keith Olbermann's popular segment is as much a place to criticize world leaders guilty of human rights violations as it is for him to defend his own. And thanks to Couric aiming some "anonymous" critical comments at the NBC family, there she is, Keith's No. 1 target.So its certainly clear that Keith O' had some splaining to do, and needed to treat his own special comments with a slightly higher degree of reverence. It was, after all, his special comments against Bush that rocketed him to stardom in the first place.
There's no doubt he's got some ego about him, but he's also very very talented on-camera. His logic is typically solid, and he's pretty fearless with what he throws out there. This combination of attributes certainly lead the segment and its creator into a minefield of self-indulgence and false-outrage/false-righteousness that could sweep their own relevance right out to sea. Olbermann has to be very diligent in objectively analyzing whether or not a special comment is warranted before going on the air with it.
I think the general coverage of the Clinton RFK statement was clearly bored media hype, and it was not really worthy of the time that it took up in its media cycles. Sure, it was a bad example choice (and a repeated one), but the premise that Clinton was calling for an Obama assassination is stupid on its face and even dumber when you get into the details of reality. Clinton is a hard-edged political gladiator, but she's also a human being and deserves a little leeway and a little respect. Olbermann would have been fine if he had amended his special comment to a smaller line-item in his countdown and then just let the thing pass so that he could cover the actual news.
I've personally been a big Olbermann fan for a while, but I was certainly being put off by that specific special comment because I hate hate hate hate hate hate the false outrage that spins all over cable news, and I was saddened by Olbermann's apparent willingness to join those ranks.
Then we got this:
A clinic on how to execute the special comment from the man who started it all. Understated, relevant, well-researched, and flat out fearless. That's what we need more of Keith.
I'd much prefer to have seen this SC about "context" outside of the context of Olbermann's recent gaffes, but then I'm just glad things like this hit our air (and our internets) in the first place.
If I were Olbermann's producer I'd tell him "do more like that one, but do fewer overall"
Friday, June 13, 2008
The Military Commissions Act of 2006 was -- and remains -- one of the great stains on our national political character. It was passed by a substantial majority in the Senate (65-34) with the support of every single Senate Republican (except Chafee) and 12 Senate Democrats. No filibuster was even attempted. It passed by a similar margin in the House, where 34 Democrats joined 219 Republicans to enact it. One of the most extraordinary quotes of the post-9/11 era came from GOP Sen. Arlen Specter, who said at the time that that the Military Commissions Act -- because it explicitly barred federal courts from hearing habeas corpus petitions brought by Guantanamo detainees -- "sets back basic rights by some 900 years" and was "patently unconstitutional on its face" -- and Specter then proceeded to vote for it.
The greatest victim of the 9/11 attack has been our core, defining constitutional liberties. Of all the powers seized by this administration in the name of keeping us Safe, the power to imprison people indefinitely with no charges and no real process is the most pernicious.
Passage of the Military Commissions Act was spearheaded by John McCain, who was anointed by cowardly Senate Democrats to speak for them and negotiate with the White House. Once McCain blessed the Military Commissions Act, its passage was assured. Barack Obama voted against it, and once its passage appeared certain, Obama offered an amendment to limit it to five years. That amendment failed, rendering the MCA the law of the land without any time limits.
It never ceases to amaze me that these so-called "small government" conservatives only wag their fingers at "big government" when it tries to help poor people. When it comes to taking away the rights and power of individuals, on the other hand, no encroachment on popular sovereignty or the rule of law, no lurch toward authoritarianism, is too far for the modern Right. Their objections to government power are purely capitalistic, without a shred of concern for democratic principles. In fact, where such democratic principles are concerned, the Right opposes them.
Thus, the true moniker for the American successors of Strauss and Buckley: police state conservatives.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Development of the region's wind resources will also create an economic bonus similar to the boom the three largest wind farms in America have created around Sweetwater in Nolan County. While other towns in West Texas struggle with plummeting house prices and job losses, Sweetwater is in the midst of a construction explosion. Two new companies opened in the past month, one servicing the blades of the county's 2,000 turbines, another renting out cranes used in erecting new turbines. Tax revenues from the wind energy companies are bringing jobs, new roads and houses, and renovating local schools and hospitals there.
But...but...how will they be able to balance the economy against the environment?
It [spelling "soldier"] is too hard because of the "d." There's no "d" in it."
Yeah, you could use a dictionary, but here's the thing: do they even sell hardcore dictionaries anymore?
In case you were wondering, a "hardcore" dictionary is a bound paper one, as opposed to an online dictionary which, apparently, is utterly useless for checking spelling.
But don't worry, people, one of the dudes tries to out-ditz the blonde:
People have been speaking English for thousands of years!
Mr. Stewart... Mr. Stewart, you are being paged...
How did the men of Sodom propose to know Lot's houseguests? If you'd asked someone from the early 19th century to define sodomy, he would have imagined not a penitentiary-shower scenario but a whole array of "damnable conduct" that applied equally to men and men, men and women, and men and animals. (Among the most common sodomy convictions of the 1800s, writes Eskridge, was "bestiality with barnyard animals and the occasional ferret.") The notion of punishing homosexuals as a class was literally inconceivable, for the word "homosexual" had not yet entered the English language and the implicit aim of sodomy laws was to punish all non-procreative sexual acts, regardless of who performed them.
In case you were wondering, the banner at the top of the vendor website implies that the monkey's mouth is not open; that is its lips.
Sure, you could argue that it's only "the fringe" that has anything to do with this doll and other such filth (though is it really that much more offensive than the FOX News line? Is FOX News "fringe?"), but that doesn't matter because it proves a point about the common distinction people claim to make between dignified black people and "n****rs." To these people and everyone they represent, at the end of the day the Obamas will never be middle class enough or educated enough or intelligent enough or wealthy enough to become innocuous. They can never adopt the white manner of speaking completely enough, have enough white friends, or have enough white blood in their linage. Barack Obama may be precisely the kind of man that they could point to and say, "see, here's a black man that's rejected all that's depraved about black culture and made something of himself!," and Michelle may perfectly fit the bill for the poor black woman who "pulled herself up by her bootstraps," but when the chips are down and it's time to account, to these people they're just a couple of n****rs like everyone else on the South Side.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
In his new book, The Real McCain, Cliff Schecter, a journalist and frequent contributor at the Huffington Post related perhaps the most disturbing of McCain's tirades. During his 2000 White House bid, the Senator was joined on the campaign trail by his wife, Cindy, his aides, and three journalists who spoke to Schecter on condition of anonymity, but independently confirmed each other's accounts of the incident. Cindy McCain playfully ran her fingers through the Senator's hair and teased, "You're getting a little thin up there." McCain reddened and fired back, "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollup, you cunt." After he'd cooled down, McCain apologized, saying he'd had a long day.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Liberal porn, basically.
Hopefully he mixes it up a little more later.
MacCALLUM: And Barack Obama, taking a break from the campaign trail over the weekend. He played a little bit of golf, we're told, he took Michelle out for dinner, and helped his 7-year-old daughter's slumber party, which is always a sleepless night for any parent that's been through that. But one weekend activity is getting some buzz on the blogs.
Griff Jenkins is a blogger at Griffnotes.com and a Fox News correspondent. What? Put the picture back up again, you guys.
MacCALLUM: What's wrong with -- what's wrong with him? He's going for a ride on his bike.
JENKINS: Well, here's what no one's said yet, and Anita just asked me: Where is he going? And I was thinking, maybe to get a pocket protector for his nerd pencils. What is that?
Now, take a look at this choad. Seriously, this guy tried to clown Barack:
Dude, give it a rest. We all know that if you and Barack were in school together, you would be the one constantly approaching him during lunch and between classes, being all, "Hey, there's my man, B-Rock! What's up, dawg?" and giving him awkward
Calling the coolest guy to hit the political scene since Kennedy a nerd just makes you look jealous and petty. Why don't you just go back to your World of Warcraft guild forum and leave the politics to the adults.
Monday, June 09, 2008
The selling point of Mr. Obama’s vision of change is not doctrinaire liberalism or Bush-bashing but an inclusiveness that he believes can start to relieve Washington’s gridlock much as it animated his campaign. Some of that inclusiveness is racial, ethnic and generational, in the casual, what’s-the-big-deal manner of post-boomer Americans already swimming in our country’s rapidly expanding demographic pool. Some of it is post-partisan: he acknowledges that Republicans, Ronald Reagan included, can have ideas.
Opponents who dismiss this as wussy naïveté do so at their own risk. They at once call attention to the expiring shelf life of their own Clinton-Bush-vintage panaceas and lull themselves into underestimating Mr. Obama’s political killer instincts.
Mr. Obama’s deep-rooted worldliness — in philosophy as well as itinerant background — is his other crucial departure from the McCain template. As more and more Americans feel the pain of spiraling gas prices and lost jobs, they are also coming to recognize, as Mr. Obama does, that the globally reviled American image forged by an endless war in Iraq and its accompanying torture scandals is inflicting economic as well as foreign-policy havoc.
Six out of 10 Americans do want their president to talk to Iran’s president, according to the most-recent Gallup poll. Americans are sick of a national identity defined by arrogant saber-rattling abroad and manipulative fear-mongering at home. Mr. Obama closed his speech on Tuesday by telling Americans they “don’t deserve” another election “that’s governed by fear.” Of the three candidates, he was the only one who did not mention 9/11 that night.
This is pretty good. Rich gets a purchase on something about Obama's message I hadn't quite been able to put into words: the emphasis on inclusivity. The refusal to fight the old, tired battles of the '60's is part of that.
Then he turns on the Crazy Train:
...Mr. McCain is so far proving an exceptionally clumsy candidate prone to accentuating everything that’s out-of-touch about his American vision.
Mr. McCain’s speech in a New Orleans suburb on Tuesday night spawned a cottage industry of ridicule, even among Republicans. The halting delivery, sickly green backdrop and spastic, inappropriate smiles, presumably mandated by some consultant hoping to mask his anger, left the impression that Mr. McCain isn’t yet ready for prime-time radio.
But the substance was even worse than the theatrics. Incredibly, Mr. McCain attacked Mr. Obama for being insufficiently bipartisan while speaking to the most conspicuously partisan audience you can assemble in today’s America: a small, nearly all-white crowd that seconded his attack lines with boorish choruses of boos. On TV, the audience came across as a country-club membership riled by a change in the Sunday brunch menu.
Equally curious was Mr. McCain’s decision to stage this event in Louisiana, a state that is truly safe for the G.O.P. and that he’d last visited less than six weeks earlier. Perhaps he did so because Louisiana’s governor, the 36-year-old Indian-American Bobby Jindal, is the only highly placed nonwhite Republican he could find to lend his campaign an ersatz dash of diversity and youth.
Or perhaps he thought that if he once more returned to the scene of President Bush’s Katrina crime to (belatedly) slam that federal failure, it would fool voters into forgetting his cheerleading for Mr. Bush’s Iraq obsession and economic policies. This time it proved a levee too far. The day after his speech Mr. McCain was caught on the stump misstating and exaggerating his own do-little record after Katrina. Soon the Internet was alight with documentation of what he actually did on the day the hurricane hit land: a let-us-eat-cake photo op with Mr. Bush celebrating his birthday in Arizona.
Welcome to the general election, Senator McCain.
Apparently, some people need it more than others.
I found this story at Yahoo!'s finance area listing 12 "necessities" you can live without. Either the rich and wannabe rich classes are much dumber with their cash than I thought (a distinct possibility) or this story was just intended as a sort of Get Rich Slowly For Complete Ruttin' Fools.
I mean c'mon, people, who considers a weekly manicure to be a necessity? Or, for that matter, lawn service? Or hired pet walkers?
Sunday, June 08, 2008
First off, it's Obama speaking in an unscripted manner. There are no teleprompters, there was no speech prepared.
Second, its a clear and candid look at how Obama deals with a staff. One can watch this little talk and clearly picture him having these same conversations with colleagues in his cabinet or with fellow democrats in congress.
Third, it's a very human side of him. He's confident but still funny. He's motivational, but not in a broad sweeping way - more in a serious, intimate way. He's a real guy, but also potentially a really important guy.
The foresight to record this conversation is genius. The decision to post it to the internet is both genius and courageous. McCain can't post vids like this, and all the money in the world won't change that little fact.
1)He supported the surge, Obama opposed it, and the surge worked.
2)He wants to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, Obama wants to repeal them.
I'd like to address the first point in this post.
It's true that McCain did support the surge, as a lone voice among the detractors. It's also true that Obama vocally opposed it.
The point of contention that I have in the premise is that the surge actually worked.
McCain will point to the falling number of US casualties since the surge, and especially in recent weeks. The problem with measuring the success of the surge in US casualties lies in the fact that US casualties can be completely controlled based on marching orders from commanders on the ground. If they tell their soldiers to stay out of dangerous areas, then casualties will go down. I have not looked for any evidence that this is the case, but in the court of public opinion it's likely to be far too nuanced a point to hold sway regardless. It also fails to measure overall casualties, which of course are the truest measure of the level of violence in a region. Those numbers declined in Baghdad since the surge but increased outside of Baghdad overall, yielding an average of around 2,500 people killed in Iraq per month.
Those numbers are all relatively difficult to source and numbers give Americans tired-head anyway.
A better metric would be to look objectively and see if the surge met its stated goal of reducing the levels of violence low enough to conduct the diplomatic business that had not been getting done. For that we can ask the Iraqi parliament what they think of our whole Iraq plan.
DANA ROHRABACHER: Maybe if you could just...if it's possible to answer with a yes or no, would you have preferred that the United States not have conducted the military operations it did in order to rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein? Would you have preferred that we not do that now, in retrospect...okay...
KHALAF al-ULAYYAN, Member of the Iraqi Parliament: We would prefer if it didn't happen because this led to the destruction of the country.
ROHRABACHER: So you would have preferred the United States not to have gone in and got rid of Saddam Hussein?
al-ULAYYAN: The United States got rid of one person, but they brought hundreds of persons who are worse than Saddam Hussein.
ROHRABACHER: That's a fair answer.
al-ULAYYAN: And, unfortunately, now Iran is going into Iraq, and this is under the umbrella of the American occupation of Iraq.
well, that's surely just one rogue parliamentarian. Its not as though he represents the majority of Iraqi viewpoints. I mean hey, I've John freaking Cornyn as a rep right? Why don't we see what the actual majority thinks...
So what you'll see is that unless we come up with a plan to set a specific timetable for withdrawl, the Iraqi parliament won't ratify any agreements to allow the US to continue its occupation.
I don't see this state of affairs as anything that McCain wants to trumpet. Obama opposed the war at its inception, and argued that the surge was not going to bring matters to an end here. According to the Iraqi parliament, he was right.
The majority of Iraq’s elected representatives are now on record opposing the proposed U.S.-Iraq security agreement -- which means this agreement will not be endorsed by Iraq’s legislative body as required by their constitution
We, the undersigned members of the council, wish to confirm your concerns that any international agreement that is not ratified by the Iraqi legislative power is considered unconstitutional and illegal, in accordance with the current rulings and laws of the Iraqi Republic. Furthermore, any treaty, agreement or “executive agreement” that is signed between Iraq and the United States will not be legal and will not enter the stage of implementation without first being ratified by the Council of Representatives, in accordance with Article 61 of Section Four of the Iraqi constitution, which gives the Iraqi government’s legislative power, represented by the Council of Representatives, the exclusive right to ratify international treaties and agreements.
Likewise, we wish to inform you that the majority of Iraqi representatives strongly reject any military-security, economic, commercial, agricultural, investment or political agreement with the United States that is not linked to clear mechanisms that obligate the occupying American military forces to fully withdraw from Iraq, in accordance with a declared timetable and without leaving behind any military bases, soldiers or hired fighters.
A raging fire that authorities say was intentionally set ripped through parts of the Texas Governor's Mansion early today, severely damaging parts of the historic building that has served as the home of the state's top official for more than a century.
No injuries were reported.
State officials said during a news conference this morning that they have launched a massive investigation to find the person responsible for setting the 1:45 a.m. fire and that a team of national experts from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has been dispatched to Austin to assist them.
"We're going to come get the person responsible for causing this damage," State Fire Marshal Paul Maldonado said.
Tragic. The Governor's Mansion is 150 years old, and was built by Abner Cook, the architect who adapted Greek Revival style to the city of Austin and its environs. Sam Houston himself lived in that mansion.
UPDATE: Here are photos courtesy of the Statesman. Oy, this hurts.
Much better than I expected and than was portrayed from the clips I saw on the news. Those clips, interestingly, had me convinced that her speech was overly Hillary-centric and ungenerous toward Barack, that she had nothing to say about the qualities of Barack Obama the candidate and that her exhortations to vote for him, where they existed at all, were perfunctory. That is not the case. Sure, there's a fair bit about herself and her campaign, but it doesn't come off as indulgent, and frankly it would be silly to begrudge her a victory lap after her accomplishments.
After all, it's fairly likely that she came much closer to defeating Barack Obama than John McCain ever will.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Frankly, it looks to me like she tried to hold on and was rebuffed by the party and her supporters. She asked her supporters in her speech on Tuesday to go to her website and send her their opinion, and my guess is that she didn't get the response she was expecting. That page, by the way, led straight to a form for contributing money to her campaign, which sort of gives away her expectations.
Then yesterday party leaders made it crystal f**king clear what they thought of continuing the race. Of course, we all know what Howard Dean had to say, but he was far from the only one who put in their 2 cents. Here's the real leader of the party, Nancy Pelosi:
It's pretty exciting, a great expansion of participation from young people, from women, from minorities, people in minority communities. And now we have a nominee, and that's pretty exciting. The campaign of Sen. Clinton is one that will go down in the history books as a great one for our country, breaking what I call the marble ceiling, what they call the glass ceiling. Glass is easy compared to the ceiling that she broke. And I couldn't be prouder of her eloquence, her knowledge, her judgment, the stamina that it took to have this campaign. And so I salute her and all of her supporters.
Nancy is more tactful than Howard, but the tone is unmistakable.
Many of her own prominent supporters, like Hilary Rosen and Charlie Rangel, were far less charitable in their opinions of her decision not to concede. According to The Guardian UK, she had a conference call with 22 party leaders who were her supporters yesterday afternoon, and it doesn't sound like it went well, with Rangel visibly angry at her. Rangel, in an interview that day to ABC News:
“Unless she has some good reasons-- which I can’t think of-- I really think we ought to get on with endorsements (of Obama) and dealing with what we have to deal with… so we can move forward,” Rangel said.
Hilary Rosen (in a piece titled: "I am not a bargaining chip. I am a Democrat"):
As hard and as painful as it might have been, she should have conceded, congratulated, endorsed and committed to Barack Obama. Therefore the next 48 hours are now as important to the future reputation of Hillary Clinton as the last year and a half have been.
Looks to me like she grossly overplayed her hand on Tuesday. You may remember that, in her speech that night after Barack clinched the nomination, she focused on how "I want the nearly 18 million Americans who voted for me to be respected, to be heard and no longer to be invisible." My guess is that the party leadership caught her implication (namely, the threat to give her supporters a grudge to carry into November if Obama doesn't give her the Veep slot) and, shall we say, made it clear that such action would not be acceptable.
In fact, Roger Simon and others yesterday said that they think she irreparably damaged her chances of getting on the ticket with that stunt, and the more I think about it, the more I'm inclined to believe them. Hillary is a solid choice for Veep, with her connections and ability to shepherd legislation through Congress and her support among women and Latinos. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people caught her subtle attempt at extorting the spot on the ticket from Obama, even if they only caught it subconsciously, and now it may make him look weak if he gives it to her even if he does so for perfectly legitimate reasons. There is only one way out of this mess that doesn't damage the party's chances in November, and that is the complete, full-throated and unconditional endorsement of Hillary Clinton a month or more before he ultimately chooses somebody else to be his running mate.
Which is exactly what Barack is going to get on Saturday.
Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman finds himself in a curious position. He was tried, convicted and sentenced on corruption charges brought by a U.S. Attorney whose husband happened to be advising Siegelman’s political opponent. In the meantime, spectacular public charges leveled by Republicans against figures in their own party have turned the tables on the prosecutors, who are now increasingly fighting a rear-guard action attempting to save their careers. Under intense Congressional pressure, the Justice Department acknowledges that its Office of Professional Responsibility has started multiple investigations into accusations of ethics lapses and illegal conduct leveled at the prosecutors and investigators they directed.
Evidence of the involvement of former senior Presidential Advisor Karl Rove continues to mount, and Rove’s denials become more strangely qualified as time progresses.
In Atlanta, the Court of Appeals, after issuing a series of increasingly irritated orders challenging the conduct of the trial judge, ordered Siegelman’s release from prison, remarking that his appeal had substantial prospects for success. This is particularly remarkable because the court ruled on the basis of the trial record itself, whereas the most dramatic evidence of misconduct and abuse was only unearthed after Siegelman went to prison. The disclosures link the prosecution team to illegal witness coaching and to the suppression of vital exculpatory evidence.
Siegelman’s appeal on the merits is proceeding with historically unprecedented support. Fifty-four former attorneys general have submitted a brief amicus curiæ in the case calling for the conviction to be thrown out.
I've been skeptical of all this Siegelman hoopla for some time. I mean, sure the prosecution was totally politically motivated and directed by the president's campaign strategist, and yes it's of a piece with the US Attorney purge, but at the end of the day a jury convicted this guy, right?
Apparently, maybe not. If this judge does overturn the conviction and Don Siegelman is shown to have been wrongly prosecuted for the second time, this is going to turn into a nightmare for the Republicans.
Imagine: Karl Rove directing the Justice Dept. to conduct a trumped up, politically-motivated prosecution of a popular Democratic governor and getting him convicted by withholding evidence and coaching witnesses.
WASHINGTON— A long-awaited Senate Select Intelligence Committee report made public Thursday concludes that President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney made public statements to promote an invasion of Iraq that they knew at the time were not supported by available intelligence.
A companion report found that a special office set up by then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld undertook "sensitive intelligence activities" that were inappropriate "without the knowledge of the Intelligence Community or the State Department."
“There is no question we all relied on flawed intelligence. But, there is a fundamental difference between relying on incorrect intelligence and deliberately painting a picture to the American people that you know is not fully accurate," Rockefeller said in a statement.
Among the reports conclusions:
* Claims by President Bush that Iraq and al Qaida had a partnership "were not substantiated by the intelligence."
* The president and vice president misrepresented what was known about Iraq’s chemical weapons capabiliies.
* Rumsfeld misrepresented what the intelligence community knew when he said Iraq's weapons productions facilities were buried deeply underground.
* Cheney's claim that the intelligence community had confirmed that lead Sept. 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta had met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in 2001 was not true.
Frankly, I have nothing more to say about this.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
This is not difficult, and it's rather surprising that nobody is saying it: Obama had one major opening to join the primary, and that was that Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and everybody else (besides Kucinich) voted for the war. Aside from fairly minor differences in health care plans, that was really the only thing he could hold over Clinton and Edwards as a reason why he'd make a better president, and certainly the only position on which he could base an insurgent presidential campaign.
Nor are people exactly split on the war. As of the most recent poll, the number of Americans who believe that going to war with Iraq was "the wrong thing to do" stands at a whopping 62%, almost double the number of people who answered that it was the right thing. As Matthew Yglesias put it:
"...it's inconceivable to me that Obama's campaign could have gotten off the ground had Clinton spent 2002 and 2003 as a lonely liberal voice speaking out against the war, then spent 2005 and 2006 being completely vindicated in her judgment. It's not just that Obama wouldn't have beaten her, he wouldn't have run at all -- it would have been preposterous. She would have faced a from-the-right challenge in the primary that would have gotten some attention but never posed any real threat.
But Clinton's error on the war opened up serious doubts about her substantive and political judgment about one of the highest-profile issues of the moment. In many ways it's a testament to how brilliant her campaign was all throughout 2007 and 2008 that they never allowed the war issue to bury her, considering that an overwhelming majority of Democratic primary voters think she made a mistake. "
The war vote as Achilles' Heel also has irresistible narrative allure. I think there's very little doubt in most people's minds that Hillary Clinton voted to authorize war with Iraq not because she honestly believed it was the right thing to do, but because she believed she would have to if she ever wanted to be president. She's hardly alone in this; it's widely suspected that both John Kerry and John Edwards believed, and did, likewise.
And yet that one vote foiled the presidential ambitions of all three.
How big of a douchebag is David Brooks?
He's such a big douchebag that he tries to criticize Barack Obama as not being an oh-so-regular guy (just like the tortoise shell spectacled and pink necktied drip Brooks is, of course) by saying:
[H]e doesn‘t seem like a guy who can go into an Applebee‘s salad bar and people think he fits in naturally there.
Only problem? David Brooks has apparently never stepped out of the limo and actually gone into an Applebees. Because they don't have salad bars.
When do you think any of these major media pundits will notice that bad things happen when they try to flash their "regular guy" credentials? Is there any profession with such pervasive delusions of austerity?
If elected president, Senator John McCain would reserve the right to run his own warrantless wiretapping program against Americans, based on the theory that the president's wartime powers trump federal criminal statutes and court oversight, according to a statement released by his campaign Monday.
McCain's new tack towards the Bush administration's theory of executive power comes some 10 days after a McCain surrogate stated, incorrectly it seems, that the senator wanted hearings into telecom companies' cooperation with President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program, before he'd support giving those companies retroactive legal immunity.
McCain's new position plainly contradicts statements he made in a December 20, 2007 interview with the Boston Globe where he implicitly criticized Bush's five-year secret end-run around the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
What a maverick. I wonder, will pundits in our liberal media characterize this as a "flip flop" or ask if his foreign policy views are "serious?" Then again, perhaps this statement was pre-empted by the worst prebuttal speech ever.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Here's what the real story is tonight:
Over the course of this campaign Barak Obama has proven himself to be several things:
-A tough negotiator
and most of all
The man can just jack up a crowd. Last night I was up at 11:00 yelling my head off at the TV because the little Penguins had just flat out stolen the Stanley Cup from the hated Red Wings. Loved that. Tonight I was up at 9:00, cheering at the TV again - only this time because the world was hearing the Barak Obama that I've grown to admire and respect over the last several months.
No one will argue that the coming contest between he and McCain is going to be contentious, tightly fought, and ideologically weird. Demographics, swing states, issues, and gaffes will all be unpredictable and will all yield surprising skews one way or the other. But with all of the uncertainty in the air, if Obama continues to present himself with this much eloquence, charisma, and political prowess he's going to win and he's going to win big.
The coming debates are going to be great to watch. Given the last few election results I personally have a pretty high level of disdain for the American voting public, (and it is entirely possible that we'll screw this one up too) but for now lets sit back and enjoy the fact that our window may just be cracking open one more time.
The floodgates open and Obama has clinched the nomination.
Meanwhile, John McCain gives a smarmy prebuttal in New Orleans where he lambasted Barack for comparing McCain to President Bush. Anybody remember what John McCain was doing last time New Orleans was in the news?
Here's John McCain on August 29, 2005:
Here's New Orleans, August 29, 2005:
“Okay, umm…first of all, I think we covered the Hagee story as much, umm…the Reverend Wright situation injected itself into the news cycle for sure, but having said that, don’t you think that there is a difference or is there not, especially given the fact that he resigned from his church.”
I like that. The newsies covered the Hagee story, but not the Wright story; it injected itself into the cycle! The nerve of that story! Here was Scarborough and Brzezinski just minding their own business, doing their fair and objective jobs when along comes this story and forces itself onto the screen. And what were the poor reporters to do? The damage was done; the story had already decided it was going to force them to give it (he? she?) 4 months of constant airtime.
It's a hard world for newsies, always trying to be all objective and balanced but ultimately being victimized by rogue stories.
Monday, June 02, 2008
Then I considered that a couple of my coworkers ride their bikes to work. That also would save me money and emissions (at least, after the initial trip across town to Target and $200 investment), and it would provide health benefits to boot. Even better, I discovered that it would only take me 5 or 10 more minutes to get to work on a bike than in my car, because the bike can cut across parts of campus that I currently have to drive around. Sure, I could get sweaty on the way, but I have my own office; I can close the door, change, and throw on some deodorant, or even go to the bathroom to wash my face. Meanwhile, I get a refreshing bike ride in the morning that (one hopes) would leave me more alert when I get to work. What's not to like?
I picked up a cheap bike at Target on Saturday, along with a helmet, air pump, spare tube, lock and chain, and back LED blinking light. There are other things I want as well, like a water bottle holder, front headlamp, and saddlebags for grocery trips, but I figure I'll wait and see how this works out before I go spending even more money to accessorize (the trip was already topping $250). Now for what it's worth, I've heard people on bicyclist forums talk about how you shouldn't waste your money on a cheap bike, but these are diehard types who inevitably insist on these forums that someone just starting out go spend $600 on a bicycle.
Read my lips, bike Nazis:
NA. GA. HAPPN.
So I get up this morning about an hour before my usual time, partly because I want to make sure I have time to get everything ready while in my bleary morning haze, partly because I didn't know how long the ride would take, and partly because I was nervous, and I wake up early when I'm nervous. I fill a backpack with a change of clothes for the gym after work and the bike lock (I forgot the spare tube), shove the helmet onto my gargantual cranium and strap it to both of my chins, pull the bike out of the garage, and clumsily wind my way through the alley and onto the street. At first it's going pretty well, though I can't get my bike to switch to 3rd gear (not sure what's going on there), when I get almost a mile down the road and my chain slips off the sprockets as I'm switching gears.
My first minor heart attack of the morning.
Luckily, I manage to get the chain back on without too much trouble and get started again. I'm actually enjoying this: the cool wind, the view (northern Indiana really is lovely in the summertime, and part of my trip runs along a river), the hills. The hills. And the pretty steep hill. Surprisingly steep hill. The where the hell did this come from? hill. And Oh sweet Christ, how steep is this motherf**ker?! Everything looks kind of blue. And I'm seeing spots.
My second minor heart attack.
Eventually I did reach the summit, and over the next couple of minutes my face returned to a normal color and I regained my vision of the full color spectrum. Before I knew it, I was at the library and chaining my bike up.
Total time: 25 minutes. Normal driving time (including walk from car to office door): 15-20 minutes. Not bad.
Guess who else never served in the military, even after graduating from college: Bill Kristol.
*in point of fact, Barack worked at Business International Corporation and New York Public Interest Research Group, jobs that he left to go become a community organizer. Kristol, rather than openly admitting that these 2 years were spent in mundane work and thus are not relevant to Obama's discussion of service, instead merely states: "Leave aside the fact that two years elapsed between Obama’s graduation from Columbia in 1983 and his heading off to Chicago in 1985..." which insinuates he spent that time doing something that contradicts his message when, in fact, he did not. Twice in this column Kristol withholds information from the reader in order to open up space in the narrative to launch an attack: once here not disclosing what Obama did for 2 years so he can issues sinister innuendos about it, and in the next sentence where he states that $14k in inflation-adjusted dollars is "about what we pay entry-level editorial assistants today at The Weekly Standard" instead of attaching the dollar number to it that gives away the game. It demeans the New York Times to have someone deploying such grossly dishonest rhetorical legerdemain on their op-ed page.
Diana Christensen: Hi. I'm Diana Christensen, a racist lackey of the imperialist ruling circles.
Laureen Hobbs: I'm Laureen Hobbs, a badass commie nigger.