Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ho-ho-homeopath joke

I know a homeopath-- he was very down, very depressed.

He tried to commit suicide with a massive underdose.
It seems like it must be an old joke but I first heard it today (and adapted it a bit) from Graeme Garden on the The Unbelievable Truth Christmas special.

Please note that I do not wish any homeopaths to take their own lives.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fantasies of the Onion Staff

From recent issues of The Onion
President Bush is resting comfortably in Bethesda Naval Hospital.

More to come, probably, until President Dumbass Disaster is gone.

And, as a salute to The Onion's clairvoyance, a piece from 2001 about Bush's first inauguration, the amazingly prescient Bush: 'Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over'

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Zero-Down Mortgages: In the 2004 GOP Platform

Philip Klinker at PolySigh has a great find.
I see from various points of the blogosphere that the real reason for the financial meltdown is the push for more home loans in poor and minority communities, using impractical instruments like zero-down mortgages. Well, if that's the case, then the electorate should punish the party that had this in it's 2004 platform: [PDF]

Ownership should not be the preserve of the wealthy or the privileged. . . . [We] believe in the power of ownership to create better lives, we want more people to own a home. . . .

Homeownership is central to the American dream, and [we] want to make it a reality for everyone. That starts with access to capital for entrepreneurs and access to credit for consumers. Both have improved immensely in the past four years, resulting in record levels of homeownership. For the first time, more than half of all minorities own their home.

We support the . . . goal of increasing the number of minority homeowners by at least 5.5 million families by the end of the decade. Since . . . 2002, an additional 1.6 million minorities have become homeowners. The Self-Help Homeownership Opportunities Program helps low-income families purchase a home. The most significant barrier to homeownership is the down payment. We support efforts to reduce that barrier, like the American Dream
Downpayment Act and Zero Downpayment Mortgages.

I heard Orrin Hatch blame Bill Cinton for the current market mess. Well, read that and weep, Orrin. A hell of a lot of taxpayers and (ex-)home-owners sure are weeping now, thanks to the GOP.

Edited 9/11/2012 to change the dead link to the 2004 GOP platform and point it to a live one at archive.org: http://web.archive.org/web/20080216000618/http://www.gop.com/images/2004platform.pdf

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mexico, Venezuela, Spain.... What's the difference?

They're all in Latin America, so they all speak Latin, right?

Who gives an interview to a foreign reporter without knowing the name of the top couple leaders there?


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Foreign Policy at the Local Level

Preemptive thievery during the Republican convention. The thief stole according to the victim's principles:

Asked by the interviewer how America would pay for a military confrontation with Iran, he said the U.S. should take the country's resources.

"We should plant a flag. Take the oil, take the money....."

She took him at his word: knocked him out with a mickey, swiped $120,000 worth of valuables, and planted the flag of "Gabriel Nathan Schwartz is an idiot" on his nekkid winky.

Also, why does a single 29-year old man have expensive earrings and a necklace in his hotel room?

UPDATE: Wonkette has much more and better snark, and includes a video of an interview with Gabriel Nathan Schwartz. The video really is vile. He is the face of today's Republican party: "Lower taxes and more wars," blind belligerance, and nasty nasty whoring behind closed doors.

What a douchebag is Gabriel Schwartz.

Douthat,: Self-confessed Liar

Andrew Sullivan notes that Ross Douthat thinks outright lying is fine. This makes Douthat what people know as "a liar," and everything else he says is now, by his own admission, suspect.

Funny how these supposedly high-minded "Grand New Party" writers reveal themselves as the same old type of Republican hack. Makes it pretty apparent that the thesis of Grand New Party isn't really an idea for the Republican Party to change paths, but just to "win elections and govern the country in accordance with whatever goals led you into the arena in the first place...."

Goals which, if it's expedient, you should lie about in order to sucker the rubes to vote for you, so you can still serve the plutocrats.

I suppose every Douthat comment can now be addressed with "Is that a lie? If it's not, it really wouldn't matter to you though, right?"

Brooks Reads Books! He's an Elitist!

David Brooks writes slitheringly about what a bad leader Sarah Palin could be, but backhands and backtracks through the whole enterprise.

He casts the Palin pick as an argument about elites versus "common-sense folks," while referring to "summered in Tuscany," "repertoire," "utopian," "egalitarianism," the "Federalist Papers" (do they sell those papers at WalMart?), and those who apparently sneer at "Wal-Mart."

And after all that Brooks seems to approach, but never firmly arrive at the view that picking Sarah Palin as potentially the 45th President of the United States is not the best idea in the history of the republic. I take away from Brooks that educated people disagree (using arguments that Sarah Palin has shown no evidence of understanding) about whether Sarah Palin has the capacity to effectively lead the country beginning in 2009.

But David Brooks, an educated elite writing for educated elites in elevated prose, won't write a declarative sentence stating whether he believes she's capable or not.

A plutocrat like Brooks won't even say what he really thinks. How amazing that he's just another Republican hack rather than someone concerned about the governance and the future of this great nation.

I'm pretty certain I've shopped at WalMart more than David Brooks. I've even bought vienna sausages at Walmart--vastly more than I'd guess David Brooks has.

As a vienna sausage buying Walmart shopper and therefore (according to Brooks' shorthand), not an elitist, I can authentically state emphatically that I think Sarah Palin would be a terrible head of state.

And I can write that in prose much unlike Brooks' fumbling, elite prose. Like this: "If Sarah Palin becomes President next year, it would be a disaster for the United States."

David Brooks - Why Experience Matters

Still, he's better than William Kristol. Thanks, New York Times for employing people who will not tell us what they really think lest it hurt the Republican chances in November.

Also, watch and wait for Brooks to swing 180 degrees and become an enthusiastic Palin suppoter if she manages to get through a debate without televised projectile vomiting.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Irrelevant Image

Queen Elizabeth I on a pogo stick!

Simon Munnery in Stewart Lee's   Late But Live  at Edinburgh, 2008.

Serious Republican Thinkers

Reihan Salam (writer, with Douthat, of "Grand New Party"), reveals that the Grand Old Party is really what they want--but maybe with a telegenic new face.

I'm not surprised. I've heard a few interviews with both guys and it's obvious that, underneath that tissue of pseudo-depth is a vast sea of hackery.

This is the "serious" wing of the Republican Party noise machine.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Politics In Depth

i just ran across quite a good blog that's not well known. Gerry Canavan.

This image alone should elevate him to the pantheon: Gerry Canavan: American Politics (in chart form)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Edgar Wright — A Bit More Interesting

Edgar Wright -- director and co-writer of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, talks at length with Elvis Mitchell of KCRW's The Treatment, about the surpassingly entertaining TV comedy from the UK, Spaced.

Edgar Wright — The Treatment -- KCRW

Simon Pegg, Jessica Stevenson-Hynes, and Edgar Wright will be making great things for years to come. Hear about it here.


Since I helped the Alaska government with server problems last week, I figured I'd post an update about the Richter divorce papers:

Alaskans fed up as press floods area -Vogel

Vogel is probably right that the Richter papers weren't what the National Enquirer was speaking of.

I'll grant him that.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Alaska Records of Palins' Ex-business Partner

For some reason, after Andrew Sullivan posted that Sarah and Todd Palin's former business partner had filed an emergency motion to seal the divorce records, the alaska courts website he linked to went down.

As a public service, I'll mirror that information here. First a screenshot of the page (whatever navigational and decorative images on the page didn't load), then as a paste of the text content.

For John McCain, who says he's interested in "transparency in government," you're welcome.
Click above image to enlarge. Text is pasted below. Captured Fri, Sep 05, 2008, around noon EST.

Docket Search

3PA-07-01581CI In the Matter of: Richter, Scott Alan and Richter, Deborah Marie

Search Criteria
Docket Desc.
Begin Date Sort
End Date Ascending
Search Results 21 Docket(s) found matching search criteria.
Docket Date Docket Text Amount Amount Due Images

09/04/2008 Order Denying Motion Case Motion #3: Motion to Make Case File Confidential 0.00 0.00

09/03/2008 Motion to Make Case File Confidential Attorney: Pro per (0100001) Scott Alan Richter (Petitioner); Case Motion #3 0.00 0.00
09/03/2008 Motion for Expedited Consideration of: Motion to Make Case File Confidential Attorney: Pro per (0100001) Case Motion #2 0.00 0.00
05/19/2008 Notice to Employer Re: Children's Medical Insurance Deborah Marie Richter (Co-Petitioner); 0.00 0.00

05/19/2008 Cust/Spprt/Visit Modified. Case Closed. (no motion link) 0.00 0.00

05/19/2008 Order Granting Stipulation Case Motion #1: Standard Motion 0.00 0.00
04/03/2008 Stipulated Agreement for Child Support and Parenting Agreement Attorney: Pro per (0100001) Case Motion #1 0.00 0.00

04/03/2008 Case Reopened 0.00 0.00

09/18/2007 Child Support Order 0.00 0.00

09/18/2007 Decree of Dissolution Granted 0.00 0.00

09/18/2007 Shared Custody Child Support Calculation 0.00 0.00

09/18/2007 Amendment of Agreement 0.00 0.00

09/18/2007 Hearing Result: Hearing Held The following event: Dissolution Hearing w/Children scheduled for 09/18/2007 at 3:20 pm has been resulted as follows: Result: Hearing Held Judge: Zwink, David L Location: Palmer Courthouse 0.00 0.00

08/14/2007 Civil Deficiency Memo mailed re: agreement re retirement benefits and last quarterly statements of same; specifics of shared custody agreement. 0.00 0.00

08/14/2007 Hearing Set Event: Dissolution Hearing w/Children Date: 09/18/2007 Time: 3:20 pm Judge: Zwink, David L Location: Palmer Courthouse Result: Hearing Held 0.00 0.00

08/02/2007 Affidavit/Scheduling of Hearing Scott Alan Richter (Petitioner); 0.00 0.00

07/24/2007 Certificate of Completion of Viewing "Listen to the Children" Video Scott Alan Richter (Petitioner); Deborah Marie Richter (Co-Petitioner); 0.00 0.00

07/24/2007 Information Sheet 0.00 0.00

07/24/2007 VS401 Certificate of Absolute Divorce or Dissolution 0.00 0.00

07/24/2007 Proposed Child Support Order Submitted Prior to Hearing 0.00 0.00

07/24/2007 Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (With Children) Receipt: 268635 Date: 07/24/2007 150.00 0.00

Reformer with Results

John McCain George Bush is running as a refomer!

Yay, four more years of fake Republican "reform."

Ongoing Investigation

Wonder why McCain Campaign Steve (Rove's Student) Schmidt is saying he'll take no more questions on the failure that is the Palin vetting process?

It's probably because he refuses to comment on an ongoing investigation.

Vetting ususally takes place before you pick someone. McCain shoots first, thinks later.

And that's how he'd run the USA.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Imagine Inside the McCain Campaign

With all the pressure McCain is under thanks to his criminally poor vetting of his VP pick and the subsequent media demands for information and answers, let's take a moment to feel for the poor McCain staffers who are now having to put up with McCain's volcanic temper and nastiness:

Wonkette: Meet President McNasty

Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of people: the total assholes trying to prop up another total asshole.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


I get the feeling that McCain's VP pick may be come known as Sara "SHOCKING REVELATIONS!" Palin. I'm pretty sure that more baffling stuff is to come out about her and her circle.

I hope we get her rollout continually punctuated by such things, so she can't really settle in.

Because I think in speeches and debates she's going to do well (by the media standard of "exceeding expectations"). She's a former sports newsreader so she knows how to use a telePrompter, which McCain can't manage. Her speeches at rallies have been perfectly serviceable. The speech they write for her, despite having to deal with significant obstacles, will probably be pretty good. Also, she may throw out some curveballs at the media that will garner her sympathy. Evidently she really can play the victim well, and she's become a victim.

She's evidently smart and capable as a modern (i.e. substance-free) political figure. And the Republicans believe the campaign "is not about issues."

So let's not deride her capabilities in that regard. Let's just hope that all the craziness sitting on the permafrost up there manages to slide into the press down here.

For more background on Palin's time in Wasilla and her characteristics in general, you currently can't do much better than this writeup done by a Wasilla resident in the comments to this Washington Independent story. All the craziness and power-hungriness and demands of fealty are there. But also pay attention to here personal characteristics-- she'll be media-friendly for low-information voters.

Dear friends,

So many people have asked me about what I know about Sarah Palin in the
last 2 days that I decided to write something up . . .

Basically, Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton have only 2 things in
common: their gender and their good looks. :)

You have my permission to forward this to your friends/email contacts
with my name and email address attached, but please do not post it on
any websites, as there are too many kooks out there . . .



I am a resident of Wasilla, Alaska. I have known Sarah since 1992.
Everyone here knows Sarah, so it is nothing special to say we are on a
first-name basis. Our children have attended the same schools. Her
father was my child's favorite substitute teacher. I also am on a
first name basis with her parents and mother-in-law. I attended more
City Council meetings during her administration than about 99% of the
residents of the city.

She is enormously popular; in every way she’s like the most popular
girl in middle school. Even men who think she is a poor choice and
won't vote for her can't quit smiling when talking about her because
she is a "babe".

It is astonishing and almost scary how well she can keep a secret. She
kept her most recent pregnancy a secret from her children and parents
for seven months.

She is "pro-life". She recently gave birth to a Down's syndrome baby.
There is no cover-up involved, here; Trig is her baby.

She is energetic and hardworking. She regularly worked out at the gym.

She is savvy. She doesn't take positions; she just "puts things out
there" and if they prove to be popular, then she takes credit.

Her husband works a union job on the North Slope for BP and is a
champion snowmobile racer. Todd Palin’s kind of job is highly
sought-after because of the schedule and high pay. He arranges his
work schedule so he can fish for salmon in Bristol Bay for a month or
so in summer, but by no stretch of the imagination is fishing their
major source of income. Nor has her life-style ever been anything
like that of native Alaskans.

Sarah and her whole family are avid hunters.

She's smart.

Her experience is as mayor of a city with a population of about 5,000
(at the time), and less than 2 years as governor of a state with about
670,000 residents.

During her mayoral administration most of the actual work of running
this small city was turned over to an administrator. She had been
pushed to hire this administrator by party power-brokers after she had
gotten herself into some trouble over precipitous firings which had
given rise to a recall campaign.

Sarah campaigned in Wasilla as a “fiscal conservative”. During her 6
years as Mayor, she increased general government expenditures by over
33%. During those same 6 years the amount of taxes collected by the
City increased by 38%. This was during a period of low inflation
(1996-2002). She reduced progressive property taxes and increased a
regressive sales tax which taxed even food. The tax cuts that she
promoted benefited large corporate property owners way more than they
benefited residents.

The huge increases in tax revenues during her mayoral administration
weren’t enough to fund everything on her wish list though, borrowed
money was needed, too. She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it
with indebtedness of over $22 million. What did Mayor Palin encourage
the voters to borrow money for? Was it the infrastructure that she said
she supported? The sewage treatment plant that the city lacked? or a
new library? No. $1m for a park. $15m-plus for construction of a
multi-use sports complex which she rushed through to build on a piece
of property that the City didn’t even have clear title to, that was
still in litigation 7 yrs later--to the delight of the lawyers
involved! The sports complex itself is a nice addition to the
community but a huge money pit, not the profit-generator she claimed it
would be. She also supported bonds for $5.5m for road projects that
could have been done in 5-7 yrs without any borrowing.

While Mayor, City Hall was extensively remodeled and her office
redecorated more than once.

These are small numbers, but Wasilla is a very small city.

As an oil producer, the high price of oil has created a budget surplus
in Alaska. Rather than invest this surplus in technology that will
make us energy independent and increase efficiency, as Governor she
proposed distribution of this surplus to every individual in the state.

In this time of record state revenues and budget surpluses, she
recommended that the state borrow/bond for road projects, even while
she proposed distribution of surplus state revenues: spend today's
surplus, borrow for needs.

She’s not very tolerant of divergent opinions or open to outside ideas
or compromise. As Mayor, she fought ideas that weren’t generated by
her or her staff. Ideas weren’t evaluated on their merits, but on the
basis of who proposed them.

While Sarah was Mayor of Wasilla she tried to fire our highly respected
City Librarian because the Librarian refused to consider removing from
the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents
rallied to the defense of the City Librarian and against Palin's
attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew
her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the
Librarian are on her enemies list to this day.

Sarah complained about the “old boy’s club” when she first ran for
Mayor, so what did she bring Wasilla? A new set of "old boys". Palin
fired most of the experienced staff she inherited. At the City and as
Governor she hired or elevated new, inexperienced, obscure people,
creating a staff totally dependent on her for their jobs and eternally
grateful and fiercely loyal--loyal to the point of abusing their power
to further her personal agenda, as she has acknowledged happened in the
case of pressuring the State’s top cop (see below).

As Mayor, Sarah fired Wasilla’s Police Chief because he “intimidated”
her, she told the press. As Governor, her recent firing of Alaska's top
cop has the ring of familiarity about it. He served at her pleasure
and she had every legal right to fire him, but it's pretty clear that
an important factor in her decision to fire him was because he wouldn't
fire her sister's ex-husband, a State Trooper. Under investigation
for abuse of power, she has had to admit that more than 2 dozen
contacts were made between her staff and family to the person that she
later fired, pressuring him to fire her ex-brother-in-law. She tried to
replace the man she fired with a man who she knew had been reprimanded
for sexual harassment; when this caused a public furor, she withdrew
her support.

She has bitten the hand of every person who extended theirs to her in
help. The City Council person who personally escorted her around town
introducing her to voters when she first ran for Wasilla City Council
became one of her first targets when she was later elected Mayor. She
abruptly fired her loyal City Administrator; even people who didn’t
like the guy were stunned by this ruthlessness.

Fear of retribution has kept all of these people from saying anything
publicly about her.

When then-Governor Murkowski was handing out political plums, Sarah got
the best, Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission: one
of the few jobs not in Juneau and one of the best paid. She had no
background in oil & gas issues. Within months of scoring this great
job which paid $122,400/yr, she was complaining in the press about the
high salary. I was told that she hated that job: the commute, the
structured hours, the work. Sarah became aware that a member of this
Commission (who was also the State Chair of the Republican Party)
engaged in unethical behavior on the job. In a gutsy move which some
undoubtedly cautioned her could be political suicide, Sarah solved all
her problems in one fell swoop: got out of the job she hated and
garnered gobs of media attention as the patron saint of ethics and as a
gutsy fighter against the “old boys’ club” when she dramatically quit,
exposing this man’s ethics violations (for which he was fined).

As Mayor, she had her hand stuck out as far as anyone for pork from
Senator Ted Stevens. Lately, she has castigated his pork-barrel
politics and publicly humiliated him. She only opposed the “bridge to
nowhere” after it became clear that it would be unwise not to.

As Governor, she gave the Legislature no direction and budget
guidelines, then made a big grandstand display of line-item vetoing
projects, calling them pork. Public outcry and further legislative
action restored most of these projects--which had been vetoed simply
because she was not aware of their importance--but with the unobservant
she had gained a reputation as “anti-pork”.

She is solidly Republican: no political maverick. The State party
leaders hate her because she has bit them in the back and humiliated
them. Other members of the party object to her self-description as a
fiscal conservative.

Around Wasilla there are people who went to high school with Sarah.
They call her “Sarah Barracuda” because of her unbridled ambition and
predatory ruthlessness. Before she became so powerful, very ugly
stories circulated around town about shenanigans she pulled to be made
point guard on the high school basketball team. When Sarah's
mother-in-law, a highly respected member of the community and
experienced manager, ran for Mayor, Sarah refused to endorse her.

As Governor, she stepped outside of the box and put together of package
of legislation known as “AGIA” that forced the oil companies to march
to the beat of her drum.

Like most Alaskans, she favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge. She has questioned if the loss of sea ice is linked to
global warming. She campaigned “as a private citizen” against a state
initiaitive that would have either a) protected salmon streams from
pollution from mines, or b) tied up in the courts all mining in the
state (depending on who you listen to). She has pushed the State’s
lawsuit against the Dept. of the Interior’s decision to list polar
bears as threatened species.

McCain is the oldest person to ever run for President; Sarah will be a
heartbeat away from being President.

There has to be literally millions of Americans who are more
knowledgeable and experienced than she.

However, there’s a lot of people who have underestimated her and are
regretting it.

•“Hockey mom”: true for a few years
•“PTA mom”: true years ago when her first-born was in elementary
school, not since
•“NRA supporter”: absolutely true
•social conservative: mixed. Opposes gay marriage, BUT vetoed a bill
that would have denied benefits to employees in same-sex relationships
(said she did this because it was unconsitutional).
•pro-creationism: mixed. Supports it, BUT did nothing as Governor to
promote it.
•“Pro-life”: mixed. Knowingly gave birth to a Down’s syndrome baby
BUT declined to call a special legislative session on some pro-life
•“Experienced”: Some high schools have more students than Wasilla has
residents. Many cities have more residents than the state of Alaska.
No legislative experience other than City Council. Little hands-on
supervisory or managerial experience; needed help of a city
administrator to run town of about 5,000.
•political maverick: not at all
•gutsy: absolutely!
•open & transparent: ??? Good at keeping secrets. Not good at
explaining actions.
•has a developed philosophy of public policy: no
•”a Greenie”: no. Turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores
and disconnected parking lots. Is pro-drilling off-shore and in ANWR.
•fiscal conservative: not by my definition!
•pro-infrastructure: No. Promoted a sports complex and park in a city
without a sewage treatment plant or storm drainage system. Built
streets to early 20th century standards.
•pro-tax relief: Lowered taxes for businesses, increased tax burden on
•pro-small government: No. Oversaw greatest expansion of city
government in Wasilla’s history.
•pro-labor/pro-union. No. Just because her husband works union
doesn’t make her pro-labor. I have seen nothing to support any claim
that she is pro-labor/pro-union.


First, I have long believed in the importance of being an informed
voter. I am a voter registrar. For 10 years I put on student voting
programs in the schools. If you google my name (Anne Kilkenny +
Alaska), you will find references to my participation in local
government, education, and PTA/parent organizations.

Secondly, I've always operated in the belief that "Bad things happen
when good people stay silent". Few people know as much as I do because
few have gone to as many City Council meetings.

Third, I am just a housewife. I don't have a job she can bump me out
of. I don't belong to any organization that she can hurt. But, I am no
fool; she is immensely popular here, and it is likely that this will
cost me somehow in the future: that’s life.

Fourth, she has hated me since back in 1996, when I was one of the 100
or so people who rallied to support the City Librarian against Sarah's
attempt at censorship.

Fifth, I looked around and realized that everybody else was afraid to
say anything because they were somehow vulnerable.

I am not a statistician. I developed the numbers for the increase in
spending & taxation 2 years ago (when Palin was running for Governor)
from information supplied to me by the Finance Director of the City of
Wasilla, and I can't recall exactly what I adjusted for: did I adjust
for inflation? for population increases? Right now, it is impossible
for a private person to get any info out of City Hall--they are
swamped. So I can't verify my numbers.

You may have noticed that there are various numbers circulating for the
population of Wasilla, ranging from my "about 5,000", up to 9,000. The
day Palin’s selection was announced a city official told me that the
current population is about 7,000. The official 2000 census count was
5,460. I have used about 5,000 because Palin was Mayor from 1996 to
2002, and the city was growing rapidly in the mid-90’s.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Evidence of Idiocy

Michael Tomasky
In 2006, the Alaska state branch of the right-wing Eagle Forum asked gubernatorial candidate Sarah Palin if she was offended by the inclusion of the phrase "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance:

"Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its [sic] good enough for me and I'll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance."
As Tomasky notes, the Pledge wasn't written until the late 19th Century (by a Socalist, no less) and "under God" wasn't added until the mid-20th Century.

Ok, this woman's candidacy could be pretty funny. She's a doofus.

Though in all likelihood the press will never ask questions to establish her general knowledge of US history, civics, and general knowledge.

If the press is true to form, we will probably get through this campaign without knowing if she can enumerate the rights in the Bill of Rights, or what the Alien and Sedition Acts were, or the Missouri Compromise, or the difference between SALT and SALT II, or what the Warsaw Pact was or anything that a President should know. I'd say she'll do ok in debates if they're vague and airy with little knowledge required. Get ready to scream at your TV screens, I suppose.

Palin Press Conference Pool

When will Sarah Palin give her first solo press conference, open to large national media reporters, lasting more than 20 minutes?

I'm thinking: Never unless some scandal erupts.

Straight talk!

Related: can anyone point to anything that indicates she's thought seriously about any issues other than abortion and Alaska-specific topics?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Forget Experience, How About Mere Knowledge?

It's laughable to make the argument that Palin has national security experience.

But what about mere knowledge? Starting with the easy (how many continents are there?) and moving to the more difficult (What are the prime exports of Brazil? Who was Kamal Attaturk? What's the difference between SALT and SALT II?) and beyond. Name the three major ethnic groups in Iraq and their religious breakdown. Name three minor ethnic groups there.

What kind of knowledge does she have of the world?

Palin: Did McCain Run Out of Time?

I heard tonight on NPR that McCain made his decision on Palin the day before the announcement.

Then there's this:
ABC's Jan Crawford Greenburg reports: It wasn't until Sunday night that John McCain, after meeting with his four top advisers, finally decided he could not tap independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut to be his running mate. One adviser, tasked with taking the temperature of the conservative base, had strongly made the case to McCain that it would be a disaster for the party and that the base would revolt. McCain concluded he could not go that route. The next day, McCain studied the three men at the top of his shortlist: Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge. All had different strengths and negatives, but McCain was not satisfied. None of them had what McCain believed he needed to do -- and would have done -- with Lieberman.
So on Sunday he excluded Lieberman due to the venomous reaction of his base. Then on Monday -- four days before the announcement -- he excluded all the other frontrunners.

He had basically Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to vet her long distance ("So, over the next few days ... lawyers reviewed her vetting information.") and work on messaging, rollout, etc.

That's three days to vet a VP candidate, though she had been "in the mix" and presumably her vetting info was on file.

I just wonder if McCain, harried by aides and friends who all had different opinions about the merits of Pawlenty, Romney, and others, decided basically "screw it" and tossed out weeks of vetting and prep work.

From this timeline, I'd wager he ran out of time and had to make a pick too quickly. It's the opposite of a considered, deliberate approach. It's a total trainwreck leading to a rushed decision at the last minute.

In short, it's a disaster of executive decisionmaking.

By contrast, Obama took quite a deliberative app;roach and decided early in the week before his Saturday announcement of Biden. There was no drama.

Of course, Palin could turn out to be a foreign policy savant with a photographic recall of every line in the Federal Budget.

More than likely, she looks good on TV and can read a speech capably thanks to being a sports tele-reporter.

I have a feeling there will be shoes dropping quite a bit in the next few weeks. Like this whopper:

Palin, who portrays herself as a fiscal conservative, racked up nearly $20 million in long-term debt as mayor of the tiny town of Wasilla — that amounts to $3,000 per resident. She argues that the debt was needed to fund improvements.

Fiscal conservatism? Well, it's Republicanism, no doubt.

Friday, August 29, 2008

McCain: Drill Here, Drill Now, Drill Palin

For the irony-impaired, the title is a reference to McCain's dog-whistling approach to this appointment. Watch the video of their interaction at the announcement -- I sure got a creepy vibe from it. And, as Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review wrote: "Tokenism. Can anyone say with a straight face that Palin would have gotten picked if she were a man?"

Yes, McCain's calculation is pretty much that cynical. The McCain campaign really is a "war room masquerading as a campaign."

Thanks to Instaputz for the image, and yes it's really her.

For further illustration, Jed has a video of some of what I'm talking about.

Battle of the Narrators

I didn't think I'll ever enjoy David Straithairn more than Robert Duvall, but this week and next will give at least one comparison where I will.

[I've always liked Strathairn, he's a great actor. But Duvall has been one of my favorite actors for many years.]

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

Message to Convention Delegates

If someone asks you about Barack Obama, go on about how great he is.

If someone asks you a process question involving Bill or Hillary Clinton, please say a nice word about them and bash John McCain until the reporter takes the microphone away.

If they ask about the Clintons again, bash John McCain from a different angle.

The Clintons aren't running: talk about the candidates: Obama (positively) and McCain (negatively).

Saturday, August 16, 2008

What I learned at Rick Warren's Place

John McCain can precisely define the moment when life begins, but can't define "rich."

The right to privacy is "one of the most fundamental and basic rights," but he may want to run it by his favorite justices such as Scalia and Alito.

The US won the Cold War "without firing a shot," but McCain was held captive during the Vietnam War, which was part of the Cold War and, of course, a shooting war.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Way-Pre-Debate Takeaway

The thing I took away from this long James Fallows piece about the Presidential primary debates this cycle is what the coverage of the Obama-McCain debates will be like.

Obama will perform very well and will appear to be a very smart grounded adult with well thought-out policy positions. But some tiny meaningless issue will be blown up by the TV gabbers into a "moment that crystallizes his flaws as a candidate" and be repeated endlessly.

It will be obvious to all media types that McCain often doesn't know what the hell he's talking about. But even if he has feces streaming down his leg he will be shitting "authentically" and sages will note that "at least it's brown, not green!"

He will have "exceeded expectations."

And grading John McCain on the curve will continue apace.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

McCain: Feel the Excitement!

[Click image for larger version.]

I know you think this photo has been everywhere. But, really, it hasn't been here yet.

Want to know why McCain is trying to fool people into thinking it's a bad thing that Obama is popular? Because, on his own, McCain gets crowds like this.

Via Americablog.

Georgia, not the US one.

All you really need to read about the Georgia / South Ossetia conflict, from War Nerd:

South Ossetia, The War of My Dreams

Some snippets, but read the whole thing:
The fretting and fussing and sky-is-falling crap about this war is going to die down fast, and the bottom line will be simple: the Georgians overplayed their hand and got slapped, and we caught a little of the follow-through, which is what happens when you waste your best troops—and Georgia’s, for that matter—on a dumb war in the wrong place. We detatched Kosovo from a Russian ally; they detached South Ossetia from an American ally. It’s a pawn exchange, if that. If it signals anything bigger, it’s the fact that the US is weaker than it was ten years ago and Russia is much, much stronger than it was in Yeltsin’s time. But anybody with sense knew all that already.

Many more good points about how the Georgians learned all the wrong lessons from Bush and the neocons.

And, his distillation:
There are three basic facts to keep in mind about the smokin’ little war in Ossetia:

1. The Georgians started it.
2. They lost.
3. What a beautiful little war!

Of course, his point 3 is ironic. You have to read the whole thing. You will likely learn some things and laugh a bit, too.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Well-Known John McCain

I keep hearing from media folks and cable gabbers that "the American Public knows John McCain."

Well there are things I know about every previous presidential candidate that I didn't know about McCain without looking. So I'd say the American public doesn't know McCain as well as the media thinks we do.

For instance: How many childrend does John McCain have?

John McCain has seven children. Wow, I didn't know that about John McCain, and I know that fact about every other presidential candidate in my lifetime.

2 stepchildren: His first wife, Carol, had two kids which he adopted when they married. Then they had another child in 1966.

Total so far, three.

McCain and his second wife, Cindy, adopted a Bangladeshi child, and had four biological children.

Seven total: 2 stepkids, one adopted, and four biological children.

Also previously unknown to me, John McCain has four grandchildren.

How come, if he's "so well known," I didn't have those facts at my fingertips about basic biographical information?

Because his image may be known, but many basic facts about McCain aren't well known.

So stop telling us that "well-known" falsehood, media-drones.

McCain Trawls and Trolls the Gutter.

John McCain 2008 - John McCain for President: "Spread The Word

Help spread the word about John McCain on news and blog sites. Your efforts to help get the message out about John McCain's policies and plan for the future is one of the most valuable things you can do for this campaign. You know why John McCain should be the next President of the United States and we need you to tell others why."

McCain zombies will rule the web comments!

I still think "Country Club First" should get me a few McCain points. McCain? MCCAIN?

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Paris and Cindy: Data Points

It's odd that McCain would raise Paris Hilton as a campaign issue, since Paris actually reminds me of Cindy McCain.

Paris Hilton is 27 years old now.
Cindy was 26 years old in 1980 when McCain (then aged 44) married Cindy.

Paris Hilton: is a wealthy heiress
Cindy McCain: is a wealthy heiress

I admit I don't know enough about Paris Hilton to know if she's had a drug problem and a related federal investigation and punishment. But Cindy did.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

McCain: Country Club First

For Country Clubbers at McCain's store:

McCain Divot Tool: $25
McCain Golf Balls: $10

Country Club policies:

Tax breaks for millionaires.
Giveaways to oil companies
His health plan will destroy employer-provided health insurance and replace it with huge out-of-pocket payments for patients.
He wants to privatize Social Security and thinks it is an "absolute disgrace."

Country Club lifestyle:
He wears $520 Ferragamo Italian calfskin loafers!
He owns ten homes valued at $13,823,269.
He married an heiress (who he began dating before divorcing his first wife after she was disabled).

John McCain: Country Club First!

Prop Comics of Politics

Prop comics of Politics: Republicans:

This tire gauge ploy from them, it's prop comedy, just like the purple heart band-aid. Both just props to extend some ridicule.

This takes me into some territory I've been thinking about and may actually suss sometime: Republican humor (Limbaugh, O'Rourke, and McCain) is almost totally mere ridicule. It's only funny if you already buy into the joke -- if you believe the ridiculed object is worthy of ridicule (Think about ridiculing some people, institutions, or deities who aren't considered worthy of ridicule--fill in the blank).

All humor includes ridicule, but I'm thinking one reason there aren't more standard-issue comedy shows featuring right-wingers is that ridicule wears thin. The Daily Show uses derision a lot, but it derides a broad swath of media life (including, especially recently, Obama), and it features all sorts of staples of humor beyond ridicule.

I'll think about this some more.

In the meantime, I'll insert Doug and Dinsdale Piranha below.

Where I Prove I'm More American than Democrat

Some Republican people seem to think I'd prefer electoral outcomes that favor Democrats over those that favor America. Below I spotlight two election winners from today that, while they may complicate Democratic wins in November, are still good for America though they make Republican wins more likely.

1) Phil Kline, panty-sniffer, loses big. What's the matter with Kansas?

2) Brock Oliva, even more idiotic (funny how much his gibberish is like McCain's) than the generic Republican dullard, loses.

Both losses make Democratic pickups less likely in November. Still, I am glad for these outcomes. They're both wretched as public servants.

I'm an American Patriot first, a Democrat second. Proven.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Talking Richard Cohen Blues # 199,323

I just heard that peurile dolt, Richard Cohen, on Hardball. The discussion was about McCain saying that payroll taxes "are on the table," despite McCain often having said he will not raise taxes.

Cohen said that it shows that occasionally McCain will tell the truth.

By that token, then the .001 per cent of the time that McCain says he may raise taxes is the truth. The 99.999 percent of the time he says the exact opposite, he's telling untruths.

It's a binary choice: raise taxes or don't raise taxes. There's no fudging it. Cohen thinks that McCain us almost always telling falsehoods: and he admires him for very occasoinally not outright lying like he does the almost all the time he talks about taxes.

If Cohen loves McCain's maverickyness so much, shouldn't the Washington Post get a liberal to replace him?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Compare and Contrast

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

In March, on his whirlwind visit to Israel, Republican presidential nominee John McCain, one of whose primary strengths is said to be his intimate grasp of foreign affairs, chose to bring along Sen. Joe Lieberman to the interview our diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon and I conducted with him, looked to Lieberman several times for reassurance on his answers and seemed a little flummoxed by a question relating to the nuances of settlement construction.

On Wednesday evening, toward the end of his packed one-day visit here, Barack Obama, the Democratic senator who is leading the race for the White House and who lacks long years of foreign policy involvement, spoke to The Jerusalem Post with only a single aide in his King David Hotel room, and that aide's sole contribution to the conversation was to suggest that the candidate and I switch seats so that our photographer would get better lighting for his pictures.

Several of Obama's Middle East advisers - including former Clinton special envoy Dennis Ross and ex-ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer - were hovering in the vicinity. But Obama, who was making only his second visit to Israel, knew precisely what he wanted to say about the most intricate issues confronting and concerning Israel, and expressed himself clearly, even stridently on key subjects.

Of course, McCain's aides actually get quite pissy about interview lighting and stage management.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Good/Bad News

Good news: BBC America is airing Spaced, a spectacularly funny and inventive comedy that introduced me to Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright (creators of the great movies Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz), as well as Jessica Hynes (nee Stevenson), Nick Frost, and fine character actors Julia Deakin and Mark Heap.

Spaced is essentially a buddy sitcom (with the main buddies being a young man and woman -- Platonic roomates -- played by Pegg and Stevenson/Hynes), but it doesn't look like any other sitcom, though Arrested Development swiped some of the antic filming style. The writing is both strongly character-based and joke-laden (smartly so) and the filmic style is packed with clever direction and endless cinematic allusions and parodies. It definitely repays attention.

Bad news: generally it's airing late night/early morning on BBC America. DVR it!

Good news: The DVDs are soon to be available in the US. Ideal gifts for the astute cinephile, or great rentals from Netflix.

Spaced is just the sort of tv show that would have a kickass fan site.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Adamn Nagourney: Pompous Dickhead

"I've never had an experience like this, with this campaign or others. I thought they crossed the line. If you have a problem with a story I write, call me first. I'm a big boy. I can handle it. But they never called. They attacked me like I'm a political opponent."

Adam Nagourney of the NY Times

Nagourney, you wrote a piece called "Poll Finds Obama Isn't Closing Divide on Race" for the public at large. It's in the NYT and gets picked up by dozens of smaller outlets around the country. Millions of people could read it or part of it.

It was a really hackish piece, and had to be rebutted to the public at large to whom it was addressed. If instead the Obama campaign contacted you to talk about it sotto voce, would you write a piece the next day saying "My piece yesterday was totally wrongheaded and awful. I take it all back." Of course you wouldn't have--and even if you had, your initial turd would still be in the punchbowl.

Unfortunately, your idiocy had to be addressed after it had gotten out into the mediastream. If you were writing in your diary, then they could correct you personally. But instead they had to correct the broad and idiotic misimpression you created.

I don't understand this foolishness. Does he expect to make mistakes via a huge megaphone and only have those mistakes corrected to him personally behind closed doors, so the lies just sit out there?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

There Will Be Blood

Shorter Washington Post Editorial Page:
It's not a war for oil, hippy. It's a war for oil company profits, and we'll lie about self-evident facts to continue it.

This is from one of the nation's formerly great newspapers. Man, this country is so fucked.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Matrix vs. Metamucil

From Ben Smith's Blog: The day in images - Politico.com

Thanks to a commenter there for the headline.


uggabugga points to a horribly slanted (anti-Obama) report from ABC News.

The only two Iraqis they showed were not only supporting the Bush-McCain line, but did it in the PR-gobbledy speak currently popular with Bush and McCain.

One of them said "...taking into consideration what's going on on the ground," which is a focus group tested line from the Republicans. Funny how those things make their way to the Baghdad Green Zone.

With the anti-Clinton 9/11 docudrama, that ridiculous Hannity-driven anti-Obama "debate" which consisted of about 45-minutes of policy-free ad hominem questioning, and the importance of Mark "I Love Rush Limbaugh" Halperin as their political director, ABC has become Fox Light.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Zombie Disraeli

Zombie Disraeli sets off John Holbo at Crooked Timber:
"What Brooks is arguing for is for Rockefeller Republicanism. The idea that you are ok with the New Deal, but you want a mean and flinty old man from New England to guard the money to pay for the largesse. But the Republicans just spend the last 40 years hunting that lot to extinction, starting with Goldwater in ‘64. But there is really no way to advocate Rockefeller Republicanism without admitting that ‘mistakes have been made’ – just as there is no way the Republicans can be the party of civil rights without admitting that ‘mistakes have been made’. Admitting you have a problem is obviously not enough. But it is a necessary first step."

It's well worth reading the whole of that long post, but I particularly enjoyed that section.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Fournier Analysis

Why has AP coverage of Obama been more than usually anti-Democrat this season? Here's a hint.

I've long been under the impression thatFournier is French for Prostitute.

Too bad the AP is taken over by right-wing sycophants this election season.

Friday, July 11, 2008

McCain: Adulterer and Bigamist

The LA Times reports thatMcCain got his marriage license to Cindy before he divorced his first wife. Funny, he told it differently in his biography.

Two wives at once: maybe he'll be more comfortable with Mormon Romney that I suspected.

Also, he committed adultery, which is breaking one of the Ten Commandments. Maybe when he said he would follow Osama to the gates of Hell that's because McCain knew that the old flyboy was going to end up there anyway.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

McCain: A Pensioner Against Pensions!

McCain thinks the way Social Security is funded is a "disgrace," since current workers pay for retirees.

He's been taking Navy retirement / disability checks for decades: those are paid by taxing current workers. He's not even taxed on them. Does he think that's a disgrace too?

I don't begrudge him disability at all--but he apparently begrudges Social Security for everyone else.

And more McCain economic absurdity from Kevin Drum and from the irreplacable Hilzoy.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

McCain Wishes He Had Bush's Silver Tongue

McCain isn't Bush: he's worse in many ways. Here, however, we'll only focus on how his brain fails his vocal cords.

Remember, the speaker is Mark Salter, who is on McCain's payroll and a true believer:
“[He] doesn’t ever want to be something that he is not,” Mr. Salter said, including trying to pass himself off as a larger-than-life figure on stage. “There’s nothing in there about him that wants to be rarefied.”

"Mr. Salter bemoans the current environment, in which, he said, “the press creates the expectation that you better not stumble on a word, or tell a joke that Mr. Rogers wouldn’t tell, or you’re going to be in trouble.”"
To the contrary, Mr. Salter: McCain's only chance is the current media environment, which overlooks his gaffes, befuddlement, and failure to grasp issues in favor of restating "HE'S A HERO!" as often and as unquestioningly as possible.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Florida Prenup

Florida bachelor-governor Charlie Crist, engaged at age 51 to Carole Rome. Rome owns a Halloween costume company.

I'm sure it specializes in beards.

[Hat tip to uggabugga]

Thursday, July 03, 2008

McCain and Craps: Elite and Old

Private high-stakes Vegas craps tables for McCain? That shows that McCain really is out of touch and from a different America than anyone I know.

It's not only that I don't even know the rules for craps while I play occasional friendly low-stakes games of poker.

But I associate craps with really old guys, and old movies. Practically the only times I see people playing craps is from movies or photos made before I was born.

Except when I see pictures of McCain at the craps table.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Dowd Mind

Maureen Dowd comes in for some deserved criticism from the NYT public editor, as noted by Talking Points Memo.

Dowd's response shows she really can't grapple with the critique of her.
"From the time I began writing about politics," Dowd said, "I have always played with gender stereotypes and mined them and twisted them to force the reader to be conscious of how differently we view the sexes." Now, she said, "you are asking me to treat Hillary differently than I've treated the male candidates all these years, with kid gloves."
No, you idiot. The problem with Dowd is that she inflates her own psychodramas and psychosexual issues onto the national stage--and generally to diminish Democrats. Digby has a typically excellent review. And Daily Howler, which has been accurately assessing Dowd for years, adds some important points.

I'll step back even further to point out the larger problem with our media. Much of the so-called "political" media who almost never deal with policy or politics or the objective state of the nation and the world. Most evident from Chris Matthews, Maureen Dowd, even this recent Kurt Andersen piece, these people reduce the politics of the United States to their own psyches and then tell a narrative that is unrecognizable outside their own ids.

It's even worse than horse-race reporting or political coverage as theater reviewing: it's cheap pop-self-psychologizing treated as some sort of contribution to the national discourse.

And the people who do it are often so psychologically damaged that they twist politics into the shape of their ugly unresolved personal issues.

Maureen Dowd has serious issues with men (and women), she likes to bash Democrats, and this shit floods out in her columns.

A lesser-known piece about Dowd, which includes an illuminating anecdote, is at G-Spot . For those who have read it,there's more: Kathy G has posted an update.

So, Dowd, just so you know, contra your complaints, many men have been complaining about how you reflexively bash Democratic male candidates with the same standard-issue Republican gender crap. You've been doing that for years and it has nothing to do with Hillary.

Please stop. You're hurting America and killing a great paper.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Addled Offal

Great News!

BBC 7 has begun airing Count Arthur Strong's Radio Show!, and you can hear it over the internet at the link above.

Currently it's Episode one of six, with successive episodes appearing every Thursday. I believe, from the description, that this is the first episode of series one (there have been 3 series so far, with another radio series due late this year or early next).

I really like Ed Reardon's Week, but I think I may like the good Count even more, making him perhaps the funniest comic creation on radio.

I also can't wait to see his show Count Arthur Strong: The Musical? Since I'm in the US, I'll probably have to wait for the DVD release, due sometime this summer I believe.

More Count Arthur Strong:

Official site

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tragicomic Quote of the Day

Roy Edroso:

If Obama gets shot, I expect the Roberts Commission will rule that he was resisting arrest.

That wouldn't surprise me.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Clinton Republicans for McCain

Well, well....look who purchased and registered the domain ClintonsForMcCain.com. The Republican National Committee!

WHOIS domain registration information for clintonsformccain.com

Services from Network Solutions:
Republican National Committee
310 First Street SE
Washington, DC 20003


Administrative Contact , Technical Contact :
Republican National Committee
310 First Street SE
Washington, DC 20003
Phone: 202-863-8500
Fax: 202-863-8851

Record expires on 15-May-2010
Record created on 15-May-2008
Database last updated on 15-May-2008

Domain servers in listed order: Manage DNS


Current Registrar: NETWORK SOLUTIONS, LLC.
IP Address: (ARIN & RIPE IP search)
IP Location: -(-)
Lock Status: clientTransferProhibited
DMOZ no listings
Y! Directory: see listings
Data as of: 14-Jun-2005

They registered it on 15 May, which is 2 days after the West Virginia Dem.

The RNC may seem feeble now. Just remember: while Republicans can't govern or run a war, they sure can smear their political opponents. Get ready for a shitstorm from these creeps.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Not Old Age. Bad Experience.

It's not his age, it's that his experience is horrible.

Steven Suh has a great post up about what's wrong with McCain.

McCain would be just as clueless if he was 30 years younger. He'd be just as much of a jerk - he has been just as much of a jerk - no matter what age he's been. He was whoring himself out to lobbyists and corrupt businesses long before he reached the age at which it's ok to make fun of him. John McCain didn't live up to his own rhetoric decades ago. He has not only reversed himself on issues, he's done so on issues that supposedly define him as a human being, not just a politician: torture and detainee treatment, civil liberties, the power of the Executive Branch, proper American foreign policy, immigration - to call what he's done "flip-flopping" would be a grevious deception, because the truth of the matter is that he's a moral coward, a liar, a convictionless freak of America's dangerous right wing who, if anything, will actually make matters worse for this country than George W. Bush has.

That's John McCain, that's been John McCain, and it will always be John McCain. His age has nothing to do with it; therefore it should have nothing to do with us.

I, for one, won't be dumping on McCain's age. He'd be a terrible president at any age.

Good Matt

Matthew Yglesias has a string of posts tonight that seem spot-on (and often funny) to me. And even the comment threads are pretty good, if you ignore my contributions and a few others.

(Re the comment threads: I guess the Clinton trolls were in a sub-basement at Baruch College and the McCain trolls were in Kenner Louisiana.)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Brand Momentum

I keep hearing people, such as Pat Buchanan right now on MSNBC, wondering: why Obama can't run away from Clinton?

It's really easy now to overlook how much, for identified Democrats, "Clinton" is practically synonymous with "pretty successful and popular Democratic President." For instance, three Clintons (Hillary, Bill, and Chelsea) were petting every puppy and painting every porch in South Dakota and Puerto Rico. They could blanket those places with Clintonisma.

The Appalachia problem may be a real one, but let's not forget that Obama was running into the headwind of the biggest Democratic brand in decades. Brands don't usually evaporate in an instant.

Recall this time?
Among key findings: Clinton's lead among African-Americans has widened by 9 percentage points, to 62%-34%.

That was October 2007, just eight months ago. Obama leveraged a great ground game in Iowa. The Clintons pissed off black voters.

But, even yet, they haven't totally destroyed their brand. But they left just enough room for another brand to emerge. Soon, he'll have the Democratic landscape to himself and he'll move on to build his own brand into something bigger, I'm sure.

McCain's Sexist Gambit

I see that JedReport has picked up on McCain's Chelsea Clinton joke, told when Chelsea was 17:
Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly?
Because her father is Janet Reno.

Sexist about a girl and about an older woman with Parkinson's: it's a twofer of sexism!

But don't forget about McCains sweet nothings to his wife, as reported in Cliff Schecter's book The Real McCain.

As reported in Raw Story:
Three reporters from Arizona, on the condition of anonymity, also let me in on another incident involving McCain's intemperateness. In his 1992 Senate bid, McCain was joined on the campaign trail by his wife, Cindy, as well as campaign aide Doug Cole and consultant Wes Gullett. At one point, Cindy playfully twirled McCain's hair and said, "You're getting a little thin up there." McCain's face reddened, and he responded, "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt." McCain's excuse was that it had been a long day. If elected president of the United States, McCain would have many long days.

With those two stories, opposition to abortion (but being ok with extracting stem cells, which aren't in a female body), being a flyboy from the sixties and a "hail-fellow-well-met" of the old-boy network, he's certainly thoroughly sexist.

Friday, May 30, 2008

McCain Campaign: Ignore McCain

Two things McCain's campaign wants you to know.

1) Don't expect McCain to know whether an event is in the past, present or future. And it's a good thing that he isn't clear on time and tenses.

2) However, anyone Obama has ever met in his life speaks for Obama. Ignore what Obama actually says and pay attention to random person X who has some reputed connection with Obama.

Will this work? With our media, it just may.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Bush met with Rolling Thunder this past Sunday. The greeting on the lawn of the White House lasted about 4 minutes. That was just enough time for Oaf-In-Chief Bush to demonstrate again how he loves to manhandle lesser humans (to him, nearly everyone else in the world). Even those with shrapnel wounds.
Bush thanked Muller with a hard-but-friendly slap to the shoulder.

Muller winced. Nerve damage from a shrapnel wound gives him a ton of pain whenever his shoulder is touched. He even wears metal spikes on his jacket to remind people not to grab him there.

“I do that every year, don’t I?” Bush said.

Muller nodded. “Yes.”

It's minor but telling: I'm sure Bush would be livid if people manhandled him the way he routinely does others.

Fortunately for him he managed not to collect any war wounds himself.

Video here

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Someone Else's Civil War

John McCain: "I will never surrender in Iraq."

What would it mean to "surrender" in someone else's civil war?

He's showing the same great judgment as when he decided it was a great idea to tie up our military with a war in Iraq to fight people who weren't even there.

John McCain: Wrong early, wrong often, wrong for as long as you'll let him be wrong.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Phoenix Rises from the Asses

Phoenix Arizona shows its support for the McCain/Bush!

A Tuesday fundraiser headlined by President Bush for U.S. Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign is being moved out of the Phoenix Convention Center.

Sources familiar with the situation said the Bush-McCain event was not selling enough tickets to fill the Convention Center space, and that there were concerns about more anti-war protesters showing up outside the venue than attending the fundraiser inside.

Has McCain already drained every penny from every wealthy Arizona resident that he's not married to?

And it's moving from a convention center to private residences. Rumor has it they're having a hard time filling a studio apartment.

And McCain is so fiercely independent from Bush that he farms out his answers to Bush's in-house flacks:
The McCain campaign referred questions on the fundraiser change to the White House press office.
That's nice: campaign work for another candidate on the taxpayer dime. Classy.

Nice Sticker, guys. Excellent

Protective Coloration

The McCain campaign materializes. From Chris Bowers, McCain's protective coloration:
This all comes from a candidate who, back in November, had the word "conservative" appear on his website 291 times, while only using the word "bipartisan" 33 times. A few months earlier, McCain led all Republican candidates in the use of the word "conservative" on his website. Suddenly, he has shifted from being the great conservative champion to the cool, hip, progressive.
Bower's post is a few days old (read the whole, relatively short, thing, with the striking list of new McCain website entries) but I'm sure it's only the beginning.

But let's all remember: McCain isn't Bush--he's only 95% Bush. And of the remaining 5 percent, 3 percent is worse than Bush. It's scientifically proven!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Woody Words

Someone has transcribed the entire Woody Allen - Standup Comic 1964 - 1968. When I first purchased it, it was a 2 LP set, alas. Extremely funny stuff here. For instance:

Wanted to flash this watch, I flash it all the time. It's my antique pocket watch, and it makes me look British, and I need that for my analysis. It is a georgeous gold pocket watch, however, and I'm proud of it. My grandfather, on his deathbed, sold me this watch.

My grandfather was a very insignificant man. At his funeral, his hearse followed the other cars.

It's worth hearing it delivered--some of my favorite standup comedy ever. Buy or borrow a copy!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

No, not "Off Message"

Sid Blumenthal is not Off Message with this hogwash.

He's on message for the "Obama must lose in November so Hillary can take her rightful throne" crowd.

Just like when he was pimping smears from the VRWC to slime Obama, he is on message now.

It's just that the Democratic message differs greatly from the Clintonista message, and Sid is only nominally a Democrat.

Sid is a company guy for Clinton, Inc. He's not freelancing when he's trying to destroy the Democratic nominee.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Old Joke Riddle Reenacted

Q: What's the newest Olympic event?

A: Javelin Catching

With the added bonus quote:
"One of the first things that came to my mind was, 'Good thing we brought a second javelin,'" Miles' coach, Richard Vance, said Monday.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Some Crowd

Click the above cropped snippet for a panoramic image from the crowd at the Portland Obama rally today (75,000 people!). There's even an Obama Armada of boats assembled listening from the river, and throngs seeming to enjoy the great weather and the next President of the United States.

[HT: Link to the original panoramic picture taken and posted by coolhandlucas in this DailyKos thread.]

Edit: The image link is changed because the image host wasn't working.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

McCain - Gambling with the U.S.

McCain Gambling

Apparently John McCain repeatedly goes on gambling binges, playing craps for hours at a time. He's also very superstitious.

How much money has he lost gambling in Las Vegas and elsewhere?

I wonder if he'd be in the gambler's poorhouse if his wife weren't giving him a gambling allowance.

UPDATE: The Jed Report has more information on McCain's friend Wes Gullet, who would roll craps with him in Vegas for 14-hour stretches. And who is a lobbyist. And a lobbyist whose clients benefitted from land-swap legislation McCain initially opposed. But, after Gullet's lobbying, McCain changed his position on the land-swap.

Friday, May 09, 2008


Atrios says a couple things I've been thinking myself.

The ability of the Clinton camp to inject ridiculous ideas into the mediastream has been amazing. It's a measure of the "look! shiny!" nature of the media as much as the Clinton spin room, but they've had success at it.

Also, Clinton lost the race. She lost it mainly in February. She and her advisers are to blame for that. HRC supporters should be pissed off at Mark Penn and Harold Ickes far more than at Obama.

Ovearching point: spin is no substitute for a good campaign. I think that may indicate some of her weaknesses overall.

Of course, all candidates have weaknesses, Obama included. But he's won this thing.

And I saw someone in that Atrios comment thread complaining about how Obama supporters attack Clinton. Well, look at Taylor Marsh's site, including the (probably disastrous) attempt to swamp superdelegates with email. I mainly hang out with the less insane parts of the blogosphere, but some of those Taylor Marsh commenters make Freepers look rational.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Lame and Dowd

Kevin Drum points to a post by Kathy G called My Maureen Dowd story

The whole post is excellent. I suppose the anecdote at the end is somewhat illuminating but it's hardly a surprise to anyone who reads Dowd.

But this is particularly rich:
But there's another problem with the opening sentence of the Dowd column. "I'm not bitter." Oh Maureen -- who the hell do you think you're kidding?

Hilarious! Yeah, sure, Maureen. Maureen Dowd without bitterness would be Andy Rooney.

The biggest sin of the mainstream media types like Dowd is self-importance without self-knowledge.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Clintons Join Vast Rightwing Conspiracy

The Clntons are now enjoying friendly relationships with, among others:

These make up a great chunk of the Vast Rightwing Conspiracy that tried to bring down the Clintons with allegations about Vince Foster's murder, Hillary's lesbianism, Clintons' thievery, murder, drug smuggling, and illegalities and malfeasance of all sorts.

Now Hillary is in bed with all these conspirators. Since she appears to think that they are credible sources, maybe all those things are worth revisiting now?

Or, more likely, are these just the smear merchants that Hillary needs on her side when she really wants to lie about another Democrat, while telling us how great John McCain is?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Phenomenal Rockbox

I listen to MP3s a lot. Some music ripped from CDs collected over many years, but more and more I play speech. Most often it's from the BBC, especially their splendid radio comedy programs, about which I've written previously. Generally I download the Real Media files and convert them to the portable MP3 form with a free version of Switch (highly recommended for ease of use and for never choking on any of the many format-to-format conversions I've thrown at it yet).

Also, for a truly funny speech podcast that requires no conversion to put on your MP3 player, don't forget The Bugle with John Oliver and Andy Zaltzman.

For several years my player was a Mobiblu Cube, in part because it is so miniscule and cute. But I recently found a very cheap refurbished Sandisk Sansa c250 (MP3 and FM radio, with 2 gigs internal memory and a slot for SD expansion card. I've filled that with a 1 gig card, for 3 gigs total space). I've never been in cult of the Apple so I wasn't attracted to iPod, especially since I want something smaller--both the Cube and the Sansa are quite small--but with a screen, which the the small iPod shuffle didn't have.

I've owned 5-6 MP3 portables over the years, and they all have limitations that make me like one model more for some features, and another for other features. The Sandisk, while laid out well and with most of the basic features, also lacked a few things I would like. It didn't have adjustable play speed, to play files quicker--a good thing with some speech programs; didn't show enough track information; wouldn't just play in sequence through a directory on the disc (it required playlists to sequence files, and I prefer just putting files I want in a folder and playing them in sequence from that); it wouldn't allow bookmarking. And there were more annoyances. It just wasn't configurable enough.

It's a shame, because most the hardware of MP3 players should allow for a lot more features than their software ever accesses -- for instance this Sansa doesn't have a clock setting, even though it's perfectly capable of keeping time and date.

Finally last night I got frustrated and decided to try something I read about a while back: Rockbox, a free, open source software / firmware package for an array of MP3 players (including various models from iRiver, iPod, Archos, Gigabeat, iAudio, as well as Sansa).

Sansa c250 with RockBox playing an MP3 -- note that it
displays the next track to be played below info on the current track.

Rockbox is astoundingly great. It's nearly infinitely configurable: I can set playback speed, play directories, bookmark multiple files, show more track information (and can create formatting to show whatever info I want in the playback screen); it has a clock and calendar, and voice-activated recording if your player is equipped. I believe it's capable of doing everything I have liked from each of my prior players, and far more.

It even has games (up to and including a port of Doom!). It offers a few applications (like calculator, stopwatch, metronome, and text editor)--though the lack of a keyboard makes some of these "gee-whiz" gadgets though they may work in a pinch. There's a music store's worth of bells and whistles. Some of them make a functional difference: for instance, if I weren't satisfied with the quality of playback on my player, Rockbox offers some pretty sophisticated tools for tweaking the sonic characteristics of the output. Other settings are merely cool, such as the vast array of cosmetic display options.

It installed with only a couple glitches (I used the automatic installer, which is still a bit clunky but fixable). It's been a breeze to use. Some of the more abstruse configurations--which I will never actually need but may try sometime-- require editing text files and using some odd syntax, but overall it's very easy to use if one has just a little technical experience.

If there are some things you'd like your MP3 player to do, chances are good that the hardware that will handle it but the software is holding it back. With Rockbox, you're likely to get more than you ever expected out of your player. And it's totally free, so it's like getting a new fancier player for nothing!

Here is a quick summary of some of the capabilities on various players: What is Rockbox? Why should I use it?

Back to politics at some point.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tina Fey Doesn't Quite Get It

Oliver Willis points to this back-and-forth with Tina Fey that shows she doesn't quite get it.

Like Oliver, I think Fey's 30 Rock is very funny, and Mean Girls was pretty good too. But she protests too much when elevating Saturday Night Live (SNL) and bashing The Daily Show (TDS).

I posted this comment at Oliver's site but wanted to memorialize it here by pasting it below.

Wow thanks for pointing that out, Oliver. Probably wouldn’t have seen it otherwise.

With SNL rising in public consciousness recently, I’ve thought a bit about the differences between SNL and TDS. (And merlallen, above, is right — SNL is rarely funny anymore and I’m not sure anyone really watches it out of anything other than habit.)

SNL, after a few lunatic first few seasons when it seemed they would try nearly anything, has retreated to standard lame sketches. Many are parodies of television shows, and many try to create a character and dessicate it into a catch phrase so that people are meant to assume it’s funny through sheer repetition.

In the Weekend Update segment on SNL, one gets the feeling that if they could make fat jokes, dick jokes, and jokes about the most superficial aspects of political figures, they would be fine with that.

TDS doesn’t deal so much with political figures as with a lampooning of the media. The absurdity usually springs from the disconnect between the issues being covered and the way our braindead media brings them to us. Also, a lot of TDS comedy relies on a fairly sophisticated understanding of what is going on with actual issues, whether in Congress, on the campaign trail, etc.

So, while SNL will have people impersonating actual media personalities (politicians like HRC and BHO, newspeople like Russert and Brian Williams), and generally doesn’t do delve much deeper than “See, he sounds like Russert! Funny, right?” TDL puts the media stereotypes (Generic Expert on Everything; reporter-who-is-parachuted-in, etc) to satirize the broader media culture. We swim in an entirely different media culture from the one that spawned SNL (3 broadcast channels PBS), but SNL seems to have the same take on comedy that settled in decades ago.

I’m sure TDL will wear thin someday, and sooner if they don’t adapt their take to new situations. But SNL already has worn thin and they’ve taken their comedy right back to the sad SNL years of the early eighties but refuse to die.

The main SNL political comedy writer, Jim Downey, is 55 years old. He’s been writing similar stuff for SNL, on-and-off, for 25-30 years. I doubt if he’s capable of developing a new approach to his material.

Also, Downey is conservative and a republican, but if he were funny that could be forgiven I guess.

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