Saturday, May 31, 2008


Yesterday, a gentleman named Thane Rosenbaum took to the pages of The Wall Street Journal to tell us the following:

The President Has Kept Us Safe

With President Bush-bashing still a national pastime, it's notable how much international terrorism has been forgotten, and how little credit the president has received for keeping Americans safe....

Bush's vigilance is why we haven't all been blown to smithereens since 9/11? Gosh, there's an assertion I haven't heard before. Oh, wait, yes I have -- from Bush in 2006, and from Bush again earlier this year, and from Dick Cheney, and from Lynne Cheney, and fron online Bush flack after online Bush flack, and that's just a partial list. Golly, you don't suppose the folks in Bushland or thje GOPand its satellites actually recruit people to say this, do you? Nahhh, I'm sure it's all utterly spontaneous.

And I'm sure it's just a coincidence that -- like so many other defenders of Bush who've turned up on the Journal op-ed page and in other friendly precincts on the president's behalf, Rosenbaum just so happens not to be a GOP partisan!

This is a difficult issue for me. I didn't vote for President Bush -- twice.

He's probably a Democrat! Just like Dick Morris! And Joe Lieberman! And Tammy Bruce!

Rosenbaum writes:

...Yet I live in Manhattan and I was present on Sept. 11, 2001 -- admittedly 100 blocks from the murder scene, but I was here, trembling along with the rest of America. Remember those days?

Yeah, I remember them.

Everyone on 9/12 and thereafter -- here in New York City and in cities across America -- was quite certain that the next terrorist strike was imminent.

Actually, no, we weren't. We certainly thought it was possible. But we just didn't know.

...Sarin and anthrax -- the nerve gas and poison, respectively -- entered our national vocabulary.

Er, sarin entered our vocabulary in 1995, after it was used in attacks on the Tokyo subway. And anthrax entered our vocabulary because -- while Bush was allegedly keeping us safer -- people were actually killed by it, just after 9/11. And we still haven't found the culprit or culprits.

Venturing into subways and pizza shops became a game of psychological Russian roulette -- with an Islamic twist. Macy's and Zabar's seemed like inevitable strategic targets. Our fears were no longer isolated to skyscrapers -- from now, all aspects of daily life would evoke terror.

Dude, you were afraid to go get some pizza after 9/11? I feel for you. My nerves were jangled, but it never occurred to me that people who'd attacked massive projections of Western power and wealth -- the World Trade Center, the Pentagon -- were gunning for people ordering slices from Ray's. And I didn't stop going to Zabar's, either. In fact, I saw people strolling through the Rockefeller Center plaza the night NBC received an anthrax letter, right at 30 Rock. So some people were a tad less fearful than you.

We would come to familiarize ourselves with the color-coded scale of threat conditions issued by the Department of Homeland Security. (Was it safe to go out on orange, or did we have to wait until yellow?)

We -- meaning everyone I knew -- would come to mock these color codes mercilessly. (As I understand it, it's been "orange" in New York nonstop since 9/11. The fact that I don't even know shows you how little I care -- and I doubt most New Yorkers know either.)

I could go on, but why bother? It's an old argument. I think Al Qaeda basically overshot by launching a massive attack -- of course there was going to be a response after 9/11. We were the proverbial frog in the pot of water, and AQ stupidly decided not turn up the heat gradually, so inevitably we jumped out. And, yes, some of our response was effective, though the biggest chunk of our response -- Iraq -- was an utter waste.

Generally, I think Al Qaeda suffers from a methodological flaw -- a fondness for the big and the melodramatic. I suspect we could have been the targets of small but horrifying attacks, but AQ can't resist the temptation to go huge. So far, that's fortunate for us -- what AQ wants to do is hard.

I don't give the Bushies an F or an A on this score. My grade is a C+. Some of it's working. A lot isn't.

Friday, May 30, 2008


Can't right-wing pundits and bloggers at least pretend that they're not following marching orders (probably Blackberried over from to hammer away at certain phrases? Especially when the phrases have, outside of Wingnuttia, exactly zero resonance?

Here's a clue for you all, especially Malkin and Fund: People paid attention to Dan Quayle's many, many gaffes (not just "potatoe") because Quayle seemed lazy, incurious, and stupid. Barack Obama, by contrast, is obviously not a glazed-eyed legacy demanding a gentleman's C for next to no work. We can see he's sharp-witted. So his slips of the tongue have less impact -- and what are called errors traceable to inexperience are generally statements Obama is quite willing to defend, thoughtfully and intelligently.

Oh, what the hell -- keep trying to score points with this line. Why should I try to prevent you from wasting your time?

(Sources: WSJ; Malkin; Standard; Limbaugh; TigerHawk.)

A lot of people have been going to and seeing that, based on the most recent state polls, Hillary Clinton wins more electoral votes against John McCain than Barack Obama. I've been arguing that that's true for a simple reason: Barack Obama is being attacked far more -- by two campaigns -- than Hillary Clinton is.

Now here's some hard evidence to support that assertion. Nate at has tallied up press-release attacks since September:

I looked at the press releases from five sources: the Clinton campaign, the Obama campaign, the McCain campaign, the RNC, and the DNC, and counted the number of times that McCain, Clinton or Obama was mentioned in the headline of the press release. (For Obama press releases, which tend to have vague headlines like "Barack Obama Statement on Iran", I also counted hits in the press release abstract). Then I sorted the hits by the month of the campaign from September onward....

Here are the numbers in tabular form. The higher the bar, the more hits the candidate received:

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Hillary Clinton looks like a stronger candidate against John McCain because she isn't being attacked by her opponents. And that would not be the case -- to say the least -- if she somehow managed to get the nomination.

Nate's numbers do show that Clinton is attacking McCain fairly regularly now, and has started to curtail her attacks on Obama. The numbers also show that the Obama campaign doesn't do a lot of attacking in press releases (I agree with Nate that this may be a mistake, though I think Obama's been getting in a lot of digs in speeches).

One way to read this is to say that Hillary's more of a meanie as a candidate. I don't want to get into that argument right now -- what concerns me is the false notion that Clinton's poll numbers now are what they'd be if the Republicans unloaded both barrels on her. That's precisely what would happen if she were the nominee, and it's already happening to Obama.

I've said a couple of times lately that it looks as if Rupert Murdoch's New York Post is pulling its punches against Obama, and now here's confirmation that Murdoch -- unlike, apparenrtly, Bill and Hillary Clinton a large number of their supporters -- thinks Obama's chances are good in November:

...The biggest news may have been the News Corp. chairman's hints that he sees Sen. Obama as having a good chance of winning the November election. Noting that respect for politicians and Washington DC is at an "all time low," Murdoch described Obama as a "rock star" and "fantastic," saying his Republican opponent John McCain is "unpredictable" and "doesn't know much about the economy." While he is a "patriot" and a "decent guy ... he doesn't know much about organizing a campaign it would seem."

Murdoch added that he wasn't backing anyone, saying he wants to know more about Obama's plans and the people around him. But he said he was involved in the New York Post's decision to endorse Obama in New York’s Democratic primarily earlier this year.

A major issue in the election will be the economy. The "average American today is really hurting financially and that bodes well for" Obama, he said....

It does give me pause that Obama's admired by Rupert Murdoch. But, of course, we don't have anyone on the Democratic side anymore who hasn't been praised by Murdoch, although Murdoch's support for Hillary Clinton now seems a distant memory. And I'm not sure if there really is any real admiration there, or just an attempt to get in good with what he sees as the inevitable new regime.

The interesting thing, to me, is that Murdoch is a smart guy, and yet he's not buying the notion that Obama is a fatally flawed candidate. I wish he'd have a chat about that with the large chunk of the Democratic Party that's convinced Obama is doomed.


(See also: Mark Mellman's op-ed in yesterday's New York Times, in which he ran down the numbers on Democratic support from the white working class and noted that Obama, compared to other recent Democrats, is doing just fine.)

Thursday, May 29, 2008


...was this bit of utter bollocks from A.J. Strata at the Strata-Sphere:

Sorry Dems - No Recession, Just Slow Growth

Life is not working out well for the Democrats who need to sow the seeds of doom and gloom in order to gain or hold power. They need to create the image of a battered and beaten America under Bush before the reality hits Americans that the Dems are the ones battered and beaten - and who lied to them.

If the Iraq and Afghan wars go well this summer - which all indications are they will - then the Dem fallback plan has been to moan about the economy. Working in their favor (primarily because they have let the energy crisis worsen by not passing any new policies in their defunct Congress) is the energy costs, which are hitting the pocket books of folks hard. Also in the favor is the real-estate price bubble correction currently playing out. Food prices are also up. But the best thing for the dems would be a recession, then they could really swoon about the evil GOP and Bush.

Sadly for them there is no recession coming to America anytime soon. In fact, if oil prices began to moderate again (which they very will could) and the real estate market finished making its corrections (which it will) then there could be an economic explosion as the pressures on the economy are released.

That would really hurt the dems, who now run on America's failure as the only hope for their own gains in political power.

Wow. Just wow.

Yes, it's quite likely that voters will pay absolutely no attention to $4-a-gallon gas, home prices falling at the fastest pace in 20 years, or, say, the 20% price increase on all Dow Chemical's products (including Dove soap, Pampers, and all Procter & Gamble products), because what they really care about isn't their own financial pain, but whether the current conditions meet economists' definition of the word "recession." I mean, isn't that how you feel? Don't you pore over the numbers every quarter and say, "Who cares if I personally am one paycheck away from the poorhouse -- thanks to strong demand for luxury goods and services, GDP growth persists! And that's really all that matters! As long as we don't have two consecutive quarters of negative growth, who cares if I have to skip meals and take only half the recommended dose of the prescription medicine that keeps me alive!"

And no, you weren't hallucinating. He really said this:

there could be an economic explosion as the pressures on the economy are released.

Yes, really -- between now and November! Prosperity is just around the corner! Every time it rains, it rains pennies from heaven!


The Project for Excellence in Journalism has released a new study of campaign media coverage, and the Internet right is being predictably self-righteous. NewsBusters says:

Left-leaning Journalism Group Admits McCain Gets Worse Media Treatment

Ed Morrissey of Hot Air says,

Study shows media treats McCain negatively, Obama and Clinton kindly

That's true -- with some big caveats.

From January 1, just before the Iowa caucuses, through March 9, following the Texas and Ohio contests, the height of the primary season, the dominant personal narratives in the media about Obama and Clinton were almost identical in tone, and were both twice as positive as negative...

On the Republican side, John McCain, the candidate who quickly clinched his party’s nomination, has had a harder time controlling his message in the press. Fully 57% of the narratives studied about him were critical in nature, though a look back through 2007 reveals the storyline about the Republican nominee has steadily improved with time.

As an explanation for the positive coverage of Democrats, the first thing to notice is the cutoff date of the survey -- March 9. Things had only begun getting really ugly on the Democratic side by then; as we're told in the survey, the press mostly took its cue from the campaigns themselves. When the Democratic race started to feature more attacks, Obama's coverage became more negative:

The year started off with pro-Obama assertions representing 77% of the narratives studied about him. But by early March that figure had dropped to 53%, a 24-point decline.

As for McCain, what was the basic message of the negative coverage he received? That he wasn't conservative enough -- a message that "liberal media" bashers like Morrissey and NewsBusters don't want to admit came from the right itself.

Overall, from January 1 through March 9, 2008, the coverage of [McCain's] master narrative was 57% negative versus 43% positive.

Within that battle, one criticism has proved particularly persistent. Claims that he is not a reliable conservative and may alienate the conservative core of the party accounted for fully half of all threads studied during this time (and 88% of the all negative threads).

Basically, the negative stories about McCain tracked the Limbaughnista right's increasing hysteria about McCain in an almost linear fashion, peaking just at the time when they were shrieking and howling the loudest that a McCain primary victory would be the end of the GOP (and thus civilization) as we know it:

Through mid-February, McCain continued to lose control of the personal narrative, despite his electoral success. During this period, negative messages reached the highest level of any candidate during this study (65% negative). Despite strong wins on Super Tuesday, which cemented his lead and led to a Romney withdraw (February 7), the battle for positive personal coverage proved elusive.

Questions about McCain’s conservative credentials shot to nearly two-thirds (62%) of the personal assertions about the GOP candidate during this time.

McCain supporters amped up their defense and managed to double the presence of rebuttals to this charge (12% versus 6% in the previous time period). That still meant that doubts about McCain’s conservatism outweighed defenses of it by roughly five to one.

Nevertheless, McCain had "a roughly 50-50 split between positive and negative personal narratives from February 18 -- March 9." That's when Obama's positive coverage dropped to 53%.

Not a huge difference.

So once the other GOP candidates started dropping out of the race and the Republican Party started to focus on winning the general election, the press started being nicer to McCain -- roughly as nice as it was being to Barack Obama.

And now that the right's grumbling about McCain has effectively stopped, I suspect the numbers for the rest of March, April, and May -- not to mention the rest of the year -- are going to look very, very different.

Jason Zengerle of The New Republic is watching the Bushite reaction to Scott McClellan's memoir. (Karl Rove says it "doesn't sound like Scott," while Ari Fleischer, in an astonishing coincidence, says, "There are just parts of here that don't sound like Scott McClellan" -- heck, you'd almost think they coordinate these things!) Zengerle is "wondering if Rove and other Bush defenders are trying to insinuate that McClellan is the victim of his liberal editor or ghostwriter or something." As Zengerle notes, we have this from NewsBusters (emphasis in the original):

McClellan's Publisher a Liberal: Advances Soros & Slams Limbaugh

Peter Osnos, who wrote Wednesday that he "worked very closely" with Scott McClellan on McClellan's new book published by PublicAffairs which Osnos founded, is a liberal whose publishing house is affiliated with the far-left The Nation magazine and the publisher of The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. PublicAffairs has a roster of authors who are nearly all liberals and/or liberal-leaning mainstream media figures, including six books by far-left bank-roller George Soros....

And, yeah, Osnos's list of political authors has a lot of Democrats and liberals.

With a couple of notable exceptions (emphasis mine):

Peter Osnos is the Founder and Editor-at-Large of PublicAffairs books. Previously, he was Publisher of Random House's Times Books Division from 1991 to 1996 and before that was a Vice President and Associate Publisher of the Random House imprint. Authors he has worked with include President Bill Clinton, former President Jimmy Carter, Rosalyn Carter, Nancy Reagan, former Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill, Boris Yeltsin, Paul Volcker, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Donald Trump, Clark Clifford, Sam Donaldson, Morley Safer, Peggy Noonan, Molly Ivins, Stanley Karnow, Jim Lehrer, William Novak, Vassily Aksyonov, and journalists from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, and The Economist.

In fact, I have a copy of Noonan's What I Saw at the Revolution right here, and on page viii she says, "Great thanks go to my editor, Peter Osnos, who helped find the book within the manuscript."

Nancy. Peggy. Pretty solid conservatives, right? And their books were pretty right-wing, too. If Osnos turned McClellan into a liberal zombie using our secret voodoo brainwashing techniques, why not those two?

... But wait -- what am I saying?

Nancy Reagan has challenged Bush on stem-cell research!

And Noonan thinks Bush and the GOP are pathetic losers now!


Can no one stop the sinister advance of all-powerful liberal mind control?

To Darla from Bellingham, Washington, a Rush Limbaugh caller, McClellan is the former -- a henchman of bin Laden:

RUSH: We'll start with Darla in Bellingham, Washington. Hi, Darla, nice to have you here.

CALLER: Hi, Rush. I tell you, I'm so... I'm so... I can hardly talk. I am so upset about this Scott McClellan book. I -- I have children and grandchildren that I have to try to protect in our great nation. And here for a buck, for payback, I don't care what it is. He can't wait 'til the president's out of office? We have to do things, and, of course, he has more credence because he's known, quote, unquote, the president longer than many so he comes out with this trashy crap in this book that gives to the haters of this country, the terrorists of the world. If it makes our news media wonder if the president's going to comment on it while he's trying to give a speech to a graduating class then, oh, it must be that important, well, if they say it and it emboldens them -- and it always does embolden them -- well, does it make the country safer? Where is the patriotism in this country? I can certainly say it. We have lost our soul. Scott, you're a citizen of the country first. If it's payback to the president, fine. Is it payback to me? Is it payback to my family, too? Do you have to make the buck first? (voice breaking)....

CALLER: We're on a slippery slope right now, and if we don't get, if the people in this country don't get their heads screwed on straight, and I would advise -- I know this sounds melodramatic, and I don't care. Look into the eyes of your children and your grandchildren every day and make the conscious decision, "Do I want to live under tyranny, do I want to live under the great freedoms of this nation -- or not?" ...

We had them on the run -- all of Al Qaeda was thisclose to surrendering en masse -- and then an advance copy of McClellan's book reached Osama's cave ... and now he and his evil minions have the will to fight on. Thanks a lot, Scotty.

Rush, however, wants to be sure that Darla understands that this is also part of the liberofascist pro-polar bear conspiracy:

RUSH: Why do we have to have hatred for the country as well as hatred for the president? Liberalism. Liberalism is the greatest threat the country, as we have known it, faces....

RUSH: ... You don't have to look at McClellan. Look at the failure of the war on poverty. Look at the failure of Medicare. Look at the failure of Medicaid. Look at the failure of AFDC. Look at the failure of the Great Society. Everything the liberals do fails. And they try to say, "Well, don't judge us on our results. Judge us on our great big hearts and our good intentions." Everything they do they destroy! This global warming business, you want to talk about an encroachment on freedom. Try this. This is a story from the UK. It's in the Daily Mail. "Every adult should be forced to use a carbon ration card when they pay for petrol, airline tickets, or household energy, say members of parliament." Now, we, Darla, have just had polls last week from UK citizens who are fed up with these new taxes to stop greenhouse gases and the carbon footprint. They are paying through the nose already, and they haven't noticed any improvement in the environment and the naysayers and the scaremongers are still saying, "We gotta do more! We haven't done enough!" They recognize what all this is. It's just a hoax to raise taxes....

So is McClellan a terrorist-enabler or the tool of polar-bear-hugging, freedom-hating tax-lovers? I'm so confused! Well, it's all one huge conspiracy, and Rush and Darla are both right, and they end their call with a big hug:

...RUSH: You know what, I love your passion, and we're going to have the reaction to your call -- I've been checking just subject lines in the e-mails here while we've been speaking -- and people are standing up out there cheering you.

CALLER: Oh, I'm so glad.

RUSH: They are, because most people feel alone. I mean I'm sure you look at whatever -- the McClellan book incident or the latest Republican to cave and join the Democrats or whatever -- and you look around, and you feel like, "Gosh, am I isolated? Am I the only one sane in this country?" And you have to have faith that there are far more than -- and I think you understand this because you said so. There are far more than you that understand this.

...RUSH: [The liberals] are trying to redefine patriotism to equal what they are doing to George W. Bush and what they are doing to the country. Their patriotism is built on the foundation that this country is a fraud, that this country is oriented toward evil and that this country needs to be brought down to size.... This presidential campaign on the Democrat side is a great example. They're illustrating for us exactly who they are and what they are and you've nailed 'em. And don't think you're the only one out there that has been able to put this together on our own. I'm glad you called, Darla. It's really great. I'm a little long here. In fact, I'm way long. I have just blown the programming format to smithereens but that's because of how good you were.

So McClellan is an agent of the Islamomuslonazis and it's all because liberals hate America, as evidenced by a British carbon-tax proposal. Glad they straightened all that out for us.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


ESPM has fired Mark Madden, a Pittsburgh sports-talk radio host, for making a Ted Kennedy assassination joke:

Mark Madden, who made his reputation with bold, outlandish attacks on famous people, has been permanently removed from the air by ESPN.

...At the opening of his show last Wednesday, Madden said this about Sen. Kennedy, who days earlier had been diagnosed with brain cancer:

"I'm very disappointed to hear that Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts is near death because of a brain tumor. I always hoped Senator Kennedy would live long enough to be assassinated.

"I wonder if he got a card from the Kopechnes." ...

Still employed, by contrast, is right-wing radio frother Michael Savage, who played a Dead Kennedys song on the air while reporting on the senator's cancer diagnosis. Also let off with nothing more than an apology is Fox News analyst Liz Trotta, who recently said on the air,

"And now we have what some are reading as a suggestion that somebody knock off Osama, uh Obama. Well, both, if we could."

Madden had rubbed a lot of people the wrong way for a while:

"The sad part is he had a following," said one long-time Pittsburgh newspaper reporter. "He's wished death on people before, even said on the air he hoped their planes crashed. He's told listeners he had sex with their wives. There was some talk about him being fired last December, but they put him on a short leash and told him this stuff had to stop. But this one was pretty bad, the worst of anything he's ever said."

But, er, Michael Savage, in particular, has also tiptoed over the line of good taste a time or three, yet, last time I looked, his place in radio was not in jeopardy.

I guess if you're an infantile pottymouth who wishes death on your enemies, you'd better stick with political discourse, and stay away from talking about something serious -- like sports.

Lanny Davis yesterday at the Huffington Post:

The follow[ing] are four things that the Obama campaign couldn't resist doing to anger Clinton supporters....

3. Couldn't resist waiting to win [a] majority of all delegates to announce Jim Johnson as VP search committee head -- the first candidate in my memory ever to do so while his chief opponent is still fighting for [the] nomination....

Bill Clinton, My Life (New York: Knopf, 2004), pp. 409-410 (emphasis added):

During the rest of May, a series of primary victories added to my delegate total.... Meanwhile, I campaigned in California, hoping to complete my fight for the nomination in Jerry Brown's home state. I called for federal aid to make our schools safer and for an all-out effort to turn back the tide of AIDS in America. And I began the search for a vice-presidential nominee. I entrusted the vetting process to Warren Christopher....

In the comments to an earlier post, DonBoy pointed me to this:

Dunkin' Donuts yanks Rachael Ray ad

Does Dunkin' Donuts really think its customers could mistake Rachael Ray for a terrorist sympathizer? The Canton-based company has abruptly canceled an ad in which the domestic diva wears a scarf that looks like a keffiyeh, a traditional headdress worn by Arab men.

Some observers, including ultra-conservative Fox News commentator Michelle Malkin, were so incensed by the ad that there was even talk of a Dunkin' Donuts boycott.

"The keffiyeh, for the clueless, is the traditional scarf of Arab men that has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad," Malkin yowls in her syndicated column.

"Popularized by Yasser Arafat and a regular adornment of Muslim terrorists appearing in beheading and hostage-taking videos, the apparel has been mainstreamed by both ignorant and not-so-ignorant fashion designers, celebrities, and left-wing icons."

The company at first pooh-poohed the complaints, claiming the black-and-white wrap was not a keffiyeh. But the right-wing drumbeat on the blogosphere continued and by yesterday, Dunkin' Donuts decided it’d be easier just to yank the ad....


Now, you elitist cosmopolitan liberal cynics will laugh -- but remember what happened the last time we ignored a warning like this about a "celebrity" wearing a keffiyeh (otherwise known as "the scarf of death").

Back in 2005, Mark Finkelstein of NewsBusters cautioned that Matt Lauer of the Today show appeared to be "wearing a Palestinian support scarf" on one broadcast.

That warning was ignored.

Since then -- as we all know -- Lauer has masterminded more than 75 hijackings, IED detonations, and suicide attacks in America. He is believed responsible for the deaths of nearly 600 innocent civilians.

All because liberals sneered.

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Thank God great patriots like Michelle Makin are willing to do their part to save us from further atrocities.

+ =

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Here's #3 of Lanny Davis's "Four Things the Obama Campaign Couldn't Resist Doing To Anger Clinton Supporters," at the Huffington Post:

Couldn't resist waiting to win majority of all delegates to announce Jim Johnson as VP search committee head -- the first candidate in my memory ever to do so while his chief opponent is still fighting for nomination -- and winning in last primary in crucial border state by 36 points (Kentucky).

What's the rush?

Hey, Lanny, you want Obama to wait until your candidate drops out of the race to start the process of picking a VP? Are you crazy? He'd have to wait until the week of the damn convention.

We know she's not going to drop out after June 3. We know that, even if she gets everything she's asking for on Florida and Michigan and still can't win over enough superdelegates to clinch the nomination, she's going to find some reason to hang on, some series of nits to pick, through June, through July, into August -- hey, you never know about those assassins, right? It's not going to end. It's never going to end. I'm half convinced she'll take it past the convention. I'm fully convinced she'll take it to the convention. She'll try to find legal holes in the selecting of pledged delegates, she'll work to pry away superdelegates ... all summer. What, is Obama supposed to pick his running mate in the fifteen minutes while the balloons fall after he hits the magic number in the roll call?

Stop whining, Lanny. Your candidate leaves the front-runner no choice.

John McCain ultimately distanced himself from whack-job preacher John Hagee after it was revealed that Hagee had said the Holocaust was part of a divine plan, but his pal Joe Lieberman is doing nothing of the sort -- he plans to address Hagee's national summit in July.

Cheryl Rofer, guest-blogging at The Washington Monthly, says,

If you want to petition Joe not to go, you can sign up here.

Why the hell would we want to do that? I'm thrilled that he's going. Once you're a media pet like Lieberman, it's almost impossible to go so far over the line that you risk pariah status, but Lieberman is getting close, and if he keeps this up, maybe -- finally -- people who don't read lefty blogs will start to see that he's not the poor mild-mannered misunderstood menschy centrist he wants you to think he is.

I think there's a real possibility that he'll go too far. His trajectory is starting to look a bit like Ann Coulter's -- every criticism generates an even greater desire to provoke, and no apology is ever forthcoming.

The problem is, when you're provoking at this level of public scrutiny (i.e., if you're more mainstream than, say, Michael Savage), you eventually find yourself, like Coulter, regularly testing the limits, and eventually you go over the edge, with the mainstream press watching, because you're just in a unilateral rhetorical arms race. Coulter went over the edge when she started fag-baiting heterosexual Democratic politicians while declaring Jews "incomplete" Christians (along with attacking 9/11 widows and embracing McCarthy); Lieberman, I think, is just going to keep backing Hagee (and probably other Christian Zionists) ever more publicly while making increasingly strident McCarthyite attacks on Democrats until, by November, I expect to see him in the editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal or on a Sunday talk show saying flatly, "Yes, I do think Barack Obama hates his country and would like to see it destroyed." His buddies in the media, like Coulter's, will continue to see him as not having gone too far, but it will be increasingly clear, particularly to Senate colleagues, that he's gone too far.

Or maybe he'll just keep ratcheting it up and get away with it. We'll see.


Meanwhile, on a sillier note, I want to point out an NPR story I heard over the weekend. It was built on an odd premise: sound clips of various well-known personalities were played, and listeners were asked to provide fanciful descriptions of the voices. One voice was Joe Lieberman's.

Here are the listeners' characterizations of Lieberman's voice:

A flat tire on a Segway

A soggy brown paper bag

A turtle standing on a stack of telephone books

A grease stain on a new silk blouse

Max White [the father character on the TV show Alf] reprimanding Alf for trying to eat the family cat, Lucky

The straining engine of a previously owned Yugo

An exhausted math teacher who needs to explain what a square is for the Nth time

A person suggesting we form another committee to look into a "mission statement" after a two-hour meeting

The fine, boring, important print in your insurance policy

Ben Stein being smothered with a pillow by Ralph Nader

A dog's squeak toy after the squeak has been removed

The cowardly lion's petite weaselly, older brother

A discarded banana peel

Like Gumby and Pokey were his speech therapists

But I'm sure they mean it all in the nicest possible way, Joe. Actually, no, I'm guessing they don't.

Every right-wing blogger in the English-speaking world has now mocked Barack Obama for claiming that his uncle helped liberate Auschwitz as a member of Patton's Third Army. Har har har! That's a complete rewrite of World War II history! Patton's Third Army didn't liberate Auschwitz! The Red Russkies liberate Auschwitz! Maybe Obama's uncle was a commie! Har har har!

No, Patton's Third Army didn't liberate Auschwitz.

Patton's Third Army liberated Buchenwald.

I guess that gaffe makes Obama unfit to be president.

A few hours ago, I posted the above, hastily, in response to right-wingers' charges that Barack Obama rewrote history in his Memorial Day speech. I had my facts wrong (I was confusing Obama's grandfather, who served with Patton's Third Army but apparently was not part of the liberation of Buchenwald, and Obama's uncle).

But it looks as if the right-wingers who attacked Obama were -- surprise! -- making a mountain out of a molehill (and, in fact, a part of Buchenwald was what Obama was referring to).

Politico's Ben Smith has started to clear the matter up:

Earlier, the Republican National Committee pounced on Obama's improbable statement that an uncle had served in the unit that liberated Auschwitz.

In fact, campaign spokesman Bill Burton says, his great uncle was a member of the 89th Infantry Division that liberated the Ohrduf camp, part of Buchenwald and, according to the Holocaust Museum, the first concentration camp liberated by U.S. troops.

The soldier in question, Burton said, is Obama's grandmother's brother, who's still alive....

THIS PART OF MY ORIGINAL POST STILL STANDS UP: By the way, I think it's safe to say that every single right-wing blogger who's slammed Obama for this worships Ronald Reagan, who claimed he had photographed the Nazi death camps even though he was never overseas during the war.

CNN yesterday:

Former President Bill Clinton said that Democrats were more likely to lose in November if Hillary Clinton is not the nominee....

Clinton ... suggested some were trying to "cover up" Sen. Clinton's chances of winning in key states that Democrats will have to win in the general election.

" 'Oh, this is so terrible: The people they want her. Oh, this is so terrible: She is winning the general election, and he is not. Oh my goodness, we have to cover this up.' " ...

And yes, according to, she's doing better against McCain than Obama is right now, though Obama's beating McCain, too.

Hmmm ... you don't suppose one reason for her lead is the fact that all recent Republican comments about the Clintons have sounded like this, do you?

... "Whatever else you might say about them [the Clintons], they have contributed to substantive dialogue and policy," says Mary Matalin, a Clinton-era Republican strategist. "Hats off to them substantively.

"They're really kind of giants in this world." ...

Nawww ... Hillary Clinton's good showing in the polls right now couldn't possibly have anything to do with the fact that Republicans aren't attacking her and her husband right now, could it? (See also: Kristol, William, "Hillary Gets No Respect," New York Times, April 28, 2008; Limbaugh, Rush, Operation Chaos, ongoing performance-art installation, 2008). The treatment of Senator Clinton by the Republicans right now couldn't possibly just be a temporary ruse to sustain Democratic discord, could it? I'm sure it isn't that -- I'm sure it's perfectly sincere. I'm sure Republicans would talk about her exactly the same way if she became the nominee, because they've really developed a profound admiration for her and her husband. I'm sure the campaign would be conducted with more of the same words of respect. In fact, Republicans might just concede, right? They'd just sing her praises from now through November, because they love the Clintons, right?

Yeah, that's the way it is.

John Hinderaker at Power Line:

...Memorial Day honors those who have died in our nation's military service. Is it possible that Obama does not know this? Sometimes the things that come out of his mouth defy understanding.

What was really offensive about Obama's New Mexico appearance, however, was what followed his very brief, but generally appropriate, tribute to America's war dead. He continued with a town hall-style question and answer period that cast veterans in the only role with which the Democrats are comfortable--victims--and sought to politicize the holiday....

So, if I understand this correctly, the dead in war aren't victims, and it's patriotic to talk about them on Memorial Day, but those who were raped while serving or who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder for other reasons or who can't afford to better their lives upon returning from overseas because of an inadequate GI Bill -- all of whom Obama talked about in his Q&A -- are victims, and it's unpatriotic to mention them on Memorial Day.

Obviously, of course, for Bush end-timers like Hinderaker, the difference is that dead troops are silent and don't talk back, and silence is the only acceptable response to the doughty deeds of King Bush other than lavish praise.

Here's Hinderaker's conclusion:

All in all, a shameful performance. President Bush, meanwhile, gave a moving Memorial Day speech--not a partisan stemwinder--at Arlington National Cemetery. You can read his speech, and watch a video of it, here. The contrast is not, to put it politely, favorable to Obama.

As Thers notes, the man the president has endorsed, John McCain, followed up his Memorial Day speech with a partisan political attack on Obama's patriotism, in an AP interview. As for Bush himself, he often abstains from making partisan attacks himself not because he opposes them but because he has people to do these things for him, and, in fact, he had his press secretary do his dirty work for him -- she slammed a New York Times editorial on the GI Bill.

All that, for Hinderaker, respects the troops, for a simple reason -- it doesn't question the utter perfection of the Bush administration's pursuit of foreign policy.

Monday, May 26, 2008


dnA, Tom, and Bulworth for holding down the fort. I'll be back for real tomorrow.

A few months ago, Paul Krugman admonished Obama supporters, accusing them (without empirical evidence) of being full of vitriolic hatred towards Mrs. Clinton. In the same paragraph, he implicitly compared Obama to Bush (could there be a more...vitriolic comparison for a Democrat?).

Krugman was incensed that some Obama supporters might not support Clinton in the fall:

I won’t try for fake evenhandedness here: most of the venom I see is coming from supporters of Mr. Obama, who want their hero or nobody. I’m not the first to point out that the Obama campaign seems dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality. We’ve already had that from the Bush administration — remember Operation Flight Suit? We really don’t want to go there again.

What’s particularly saddening is the way many Obama supporters seem happy with the application of “Clinton rules” — the term a number of observers use for the way pundits and some news organizations treat any action or statement by the Clintons, no matter how innocuous, as proof of evil intent.

Of course, shortly afterward, the empirical evidence available pointed to the exact opposite phenomenon. And the phrase "Clinton Rules," rather than referring to the double standard set by the press when it covers the Clintons, became more descriptive of the Clinton's effort to change the metric every time they were losing.

Krugman embraces these "Clinton Rules" with abandon. Notice the difference between the way he greets the feelings of Clinton supporters who are reluctant to switch to Mr. Obama:

Mrs. Clinton needs to do her part: she needs to be careful not to act as a spoiler during what’s left of the primary, she needs to bow out gracefully if, as seems almost certain, Mr. Obama receives the nod, and she needs to campaign strongly for the nominee once the convention is over. She has said she’ll do that, and there’s no reason to believe that she doesn’t mean it.

But mainly it’s up to Mr. Obama to deliver the unity he has always promised — starting with his own party.


The only reason I can see for Obama supporters to oppose seating Florida is that it might let Mrs. Clinton claim that she received a majority of the popular vote. But which is more important — denying Mrs. Clinton bragging rights, or possibly forfeiting the general election?

What about offering Mrs. Clinton the vice presidency? If I were Mr. Obama, I’d do it. Adding Mrs. Clinton to the ticket — or at least making the offer — might help heal the wounds of an ugly primary fight.

>Here’s the point: the nightmare Mr. Obama and his supporters should fear is that in an election year in which everything favors the Democrats, he will nonetheless manage to lose. He needs to do everything he can to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Krugman mocked Obama supporters earlier in the year as cultists, no better than Chris Matthews and G. Gordon Liddy worshipping the sock in Bush's flight suit--full of "venom" for wanting "their hero or nobody". He has no such harsh words for Clinton supporters now that the nomination is within Obama's grasp. All he offers is a threat. "Offer Clinton the Veep slot, or else," Krugman warns, or Clinton Democrats might not support the nominee who best represents their interests.

Who exactly, is dwelling in Nixonland now?

The truth of the matter is Hillary Clinton has recieved grotesque the hands of the press, not the Obama campaign. Conversely, Obama has recieved grotesque treatment at the hands of the Clintons, from Bob Johnson to Geraldine Ferraro to Stephanie Tubbs-Jones lauding Obama's "native dress" on television. Clinton supporters seem as incensed by her loss as they are at Obama's graciousness in response to Clinton's attacks, they wish, desperately, that he behaved in the same manner she has, because then it would provide some excuse for their continued animosity.

But he hasn't, and so Krugman and others spend a great deal of ink and pixels trying to blame phantom "Obama supporters" for this and that slight against Hillary, when in fact the press is to blame. And then they demand "restitution" in the form of the Veep slot.

If I were Obama, I'd say forget it.


You can bet that if this same joke were made about Bush, conservative bloggers would be screaming high treason and demanding that the offending individual be publicly executed.

This kind of commentary really has no place in a respectable news organization. And you can be sure the media won't come down as hard on Liz Trotta, one of their own, as they did on Hillary Clinton.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


In the kicker of this New York Times piece about the Puerto Rico primary is another, relatively unexplored (underexplored?) dimension of race in America:

As in other recent primaries, race may also end up playing a role in determining how people vote. But here, Mr. Obama’s “bi-racial” identity is perceived as working to his advantage, not as an obstacle to be overcome.

“On the mainland, Obama is black, but not in Puerto Rico,” said Juan Manuel Garcia Passalacqua, the island’s most distinguished political commentator. “Here he is a mulatto, and this is a mulatto society. People here are perfectly prepared to vote for someone who looks like them for president of the United States.”

A few things struck me about this. Number one, race isn't an "obstacle," racism is an obstacle. The problem isn't that Obama is black, the problem is that some folks have a problem with the fact that Obama is black.

Two, are we at the point where we can stop pretending Obama is winning just because he's black?

Last but not least, this is a reminder that we are living in a society where skin tone often matters almost as much, if not as much, as race itself. As wonderful as it is that PR can look at Obama and see themselves, it reminds you they wouldn't feel the same way about someone who was darker or didn't have a white parent.


Hi, Steve here. Yes, I'm still on vacation until Monday night, but I was just appalled by the story about Hillary Clinton's Barack Obama assassination scenario. I see from a quick look at Memeorandum that many bloggers have appropriately expressed outrage. I just want to make two points.

First, I see that she said essentially the same thing in March. I'm not really in a good position right now to dig up a link, but I want to point out that this was around the time I was reading comments in the press from African-American voters, particularly older ones, who were wary of voting for Obama because they assumed there was a good chance he'd be killed if he got too far. Senator Clinton has a different reason for saying this now, but if she said this in March, I have to assume she was, at least in part, encouraging black voters not to vote for Obama for this reason. She was trying to reinforce those fears. That's reprehensible.

The other point I want to make is that her argument now -- that she has to stay in the race in case Obama is literally incapacitated -- makes absolutely no sense. I said this a few days ago in reference to a possible Obama scandal, and I'll say it again in reference to this: Why does she have to continue running in order to be the person who assumes the mantle if he can't? As the obvious first runner-up, wouldn't she have remained the obvious first choice to take his place even if she'd dropped out last week, or last month, or the month before?

By her logic, if Bill Clinton, running unopposed for his party's nomination, had died in June 1996, the Democratic Party would not be allowed to field a substitute candidate --not even the new president of the United States, Al Gore -- because the substitute candidate would have to be a person who was, at the moment of the front-runner's death, actively running against the front-runner.

By her logic, if John McCain were to pass away next month, the Republicans would not be allowed to turn to Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee -- they would have to give the nomination to Ron Paul, in defiance of the wishes of the vast majority of the party, because he's the only candidate apart from McCain who hasn't fully dropped out of the race.

Apart from being an obnoxious and tasteless invocation of a nightmare scenario, what Clinton says is absurd on its face.


And now back to your regularly scheduled guest bloggers.
Aimai derives some well-earned Schadenfreude from reports that McCain had to cancel a fundraiser in his home state because too few people bought tickets. The best part: they were afraid the attendees would be outnumbered by protestors.

Kind of a stark contrast, isn't it?

Which reminds me of something I wrote a couple of months ago:
Elections in Gringolandia aren't about issues, they're about superstition: every contest is between the Lucky and the Doomed. People want to associate themselves with good fortune, and distance themselves from bad. Accordingly, there is no word more toxic in American politics than 'loser'.

McCain could be fit for the part. He lost to Bush in 2000, and was so peeved that he talked about joining the Democrats (see 'Crazy John', 'Cranky Old John'). In 2008, in a field of generally acknowledged losers, he came from behind to be the least loser of the bunch...and still couldn't seal the deal, denied majorities even after he was the presumptive nominee.
It's easy to overstate the impact of perception in politics; if the stone doesn't have weight, the sweeper won't get it into the house. Still: coming after a series of bad-news cycles for McCain (pro-tyranny lobbyists, the Hagee/Parsley two-step, and restless nativists), this story has got to hurt.

More like this, please.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The McCain Rules of Political Discourse

I think it's very clear who Hamas wants to be the next president of the United States.
There are many issues that lend themselves to partisan posturing, but giving our veterans the chance to go to college should not be one of them.
Or, to put it more succinctly: IOKIYJMcC.

[Cross-posted at If I Ran the Zoo]
What does it say that Al Jazeera treats Americans with more dignity, respect and love than our own broadcast media? There's no condescension, no voyeurism in this report on the economic conditions in Dayton. Even stylistically, there's no cardboard narrator condensing weeks or months of a job search into a soundbite; the story is told entirely in the words of those living it. I'm well aware of Al Jazeera's bias and perspective; this piece definitely lacks balance. But it has something our media often doesn't: a respect for the people whose stories it aims to tell.

Joe Biden Op-Ed

The former candidate layeth the smacketh down:

On Wednesday, Joe Lieberman wrote on this page that the Democratic Party he and I grew up in has drifted far from the foreign policy espoused by Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John Kennedy.

In fact, it is the policies that President George W. Bush has pursued, and that John McCain would continue, that are divorced from that great tradition – and from the legacy of Republican presidents like Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Sen. Lieberman is right: 9/11 was a pivotal moment. History will judge Mr. Bush's reaction less for the mistakes he made than for the opportunities he squandered.

The president had a historic opportunity to unite Americans and the world in common cause. Instead – by exploiting the politics of fear, instigating an optional war in Iraq before finishing a necessary war in Afghanistan, and instituting policies on torture, detainees and domestic surveillance that fly in the face of our values and interests – Mr. Bush divided Americans from each other and from the world.

At the heart of this failure is an obsession with the "war on terrorism" that ignores larger forces shaping the world: the emergence of China, India, Russia and Europe; the spread of lethal weapons and dangerous diseases; uncertain supplies of energy, food and water; the persistence of poverty; ethnic animosities and state failures; a rapidly warming planet; the challenge to nation states from above and below.

Instead, Mr. Bush has turned a small number of radical groups that hate America into a 10-foot tall existential monster that dictates every move we make.

The intersection of al Qaeda with the world's most lethal weapons is a deadly serious problem. Al Qaeda must be destroyed. But to compare terrorism with an all-encompassing ideology like communism and fascism is evidence of profound confusion.

Terrorism is a means, not an end, and very different groups and countries are using it toward very different goals. Messrs. Bush and McCain lump together, as a single threat, extremist groups and states more at odds with each other than with us: Sunnis and Shiites, Persians and Arabs, Iraq and Iran, al Qaeda and Shiite militias. If they can't identify the enemy or describe the war we're fighting, it's difficult to see how we will win.

The results speak for themselves.

On George Bush's watch, Iran, not freedom, has been on the march: Iran is much closer to the bomb; its influence in Iraq is expanding; its terrorist proxy Hezbollah is ascendant in Lebanon and that country is on the brink of civil war.

Beyond Iran, al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan – the people who actually attacked us on 9/11 – are stronger now than at any time since 9/11. Radical recruitment is on the rise. Hamas controls Gaza and launches rockets at Israel every day. Some 140,000 American troops remain stuck in Iraq with no end in sight.

Because of the policies Mr. Bush has pursued and Mr. McCain would continue, the entire Middle East is more dangerous. The United States and our allies, including Israel, are less secure.

The election in November is a vital opportunity for America to start anew. That will require more than a great soldier. It will require a wise leader.

Here, the controversy over engaging Iran is especially instructive.

Last week, John McCain was very clear. He ruled out talking to Iran. He said that Barack Obama was "naïve and inexperienced" for advocating engagement; "What is it he wants to talk about?" he asked.

Well, for a start, Iran's nuclear program, its support for Shiite militias in Iraq, and its patronage of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.

Beyond bluster, how would Mr. McCain actually deal with these dangers? You either talk, you maintain the status quo, or you go to war. If Mr. McCain has ruled out talking, we're stuck with an ineffectual policy or military strikes that could quickly spiral out of control.

Sen. Obama is right that the U.S. should be willing to engage Iran on its nuclear program without "preconditions" – i.e. without insisting that Iran first freeze the program, which is the very subject of any negotiations. He has been clear that he would not become personally involved until the necessary preparations had been made and unless he was convinced his engagement would advance our interests.

President Nixon didn't demand that China end military support to the Vietnamese killing Americans before meeting with Mao. President Reagan didn't insist that the Soviets freeze their nuclear arsenal before sitting down with Mikhail Gorbachev.

Even George W. Bush – whose initial disengagement allowed dangers to proliferate – didn't demand that Libya relinquish its nuclear program, that North Korea give up its plutonium, or even that Iran stop aiding those attacking our soldiers in Iraq before authorizing talks.

The net effect of demanding preconditions that Iran rejects is this: We get no results and Iran gets closer to the bomb.

Equally unwise is the Bush-McCain fixation on regime change. The regime is abhorrent, but their logic defies comprehension: renounce the bomb – and when you do, we're still going to take you down. The result is that Iran accelerated its efforts to produce fissile material.

Instead of regime change, we should focus on conduct change. We should make it very clear to Iran what it risks in terms of isolation if it continues to pursue a dangerous nuclear program but also what it stands to gain if it does the right thing. That will require keeping our allies in Europe, as well as Russia and China, on the same page as we ratchet up pressure.

It also requires a much more sophisticated understanding than Mr. Bush or Mr. McCain seem to possess that by publicly engaging Iran – including through direct talks – we can exploit cracks within the ruling elite, and between Iran's rulers and its people, who are struggling economically and stifled politically.

Iran's people need to know that their government, not the U.S., is choosing confrontation over cooperation. Our allies and partners need to know that the U.S. will go the extra diplomatic mile – if we do, they are much more likely to stand with us if diplomacy fails and force proves necessary.

The Bush-McCain saber rattling is the most self-defeating policy imaginable. It achieves nothing. But it forces Iranians who despise the regime to rally behind their leaders. And it spurs instability in the Middle East, which adds to the price of oil, with the proceeds going right from American wallets into Tehran's pockets.

The worst nightmare for a regime that thrives on tension with America is an America ready, willing and able to engage. Since when has talking removed the word "no" from our vocabulary?

It's amazing how little faith George Bush, Joe Lieberman and John McCain have in themselves – and in America.

More of this please.

From their Wednesday edition. Why didn't they just put Nelson from the Simpsons on the cover?

Irrational Exuberance: Exhibit 3

Why I Will No Longer Support John McCain:
Put very simply: John McCain is a liar. He's a man without honor, without integrity, who could not have captured the Republican nomination had he run on making comprehensive immigration a top priority of his administration. Quite frankly, this is little different from George Bush, Sr. breaking his "Read my lips, no new taxes pledge," except that Bush's father was at least smart enough to wait until he got elected before letting all of his supporters know that he was lying to them.
This one is about immigration; apparently McCain was lying when he said he hated brown people just as much as any other Republican. Who knew?

The tensions were always there--between catering to crazy nativist assholes and getting more Hispanic votes, between sucking up to nutbag fundamentalists and winning the middle. The question was whether they would be papered over by McCain's cheerleaders in the Washington press corps. Ten years ago, I think the adulation of the McCain groupies who call themselves 'journalists' would have been enough to put him over the top; now, I think the alternate channels of information make it a lot more difficult for him to get away with it.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Irrational Exuberance

Is Steve gone? You sure? Okay, it's time for a little...shhhh...optimism.

Exhibit 1: McCain Throws Hagee Under the Bus.
The attacks on Pastor John Hagee are nothing more than an attempt at character assassination. Of course, it makes sense that the Left would want to find a way to seek revenge or a "pay back" for the Rev. Wright scandal....While we cannot control the Left's attempts to mischaracterize Hagee and McCain, we can expect John McCain to display more toughness than this.
When Hagee first surfaced, I thought McCain was in a lose/lose situation: hang on to Hagee and alienate moderates, or ditch Hagee and piss off the evangelical authoritarians. Then, when it died down, I thought maybe I was wrong. Now I think I was right.

Exhibit 2: McCain strategist also lobbied for dictators - Clients included Marcos, Zaire's Mobutu and Angola's Savimbi.
Longtime lobbyist Charles Black Jr. is John McCain's man in Washington, a political maestro who hopes to guide his friend, the senator from Arizona, to the presidency this November.

But for half a decade in the 1980s, Black was also Jonas Savimbi's man in the capital city. His lobbying firm received millions from the brutal Angolan guerrilla leader and took advantage of Black's contacts in Congress and the White House.
One quibble: doesn't 'guerrilla leader' really mean 'terrorist'? Let's not mince words here: McCain's right-hand guy was a lobbyist for terrorists.

But even without that correction, this is good stuff. Strictly lose/lose for McCain: keep the guy who lobbied for mass murderers, or lose the most competent and effective guy in the campaign.

There's another good McCain story in today's Chron; the title is weak ("Liberals seek to change McCain's image") but the content is good, including a lot of examples undermining the McCain image--and explaining that McCain's coziness with journalists is the reason he keeps getting a pass.

I don't want to make the mistake of underestimating McCain--it will be a difficult election--but it's clear the guy has some problems of his own. I don't know if we're approaching a tipping point in public perception of McCain, but it feels to me like it's at least possible.

Just don't tell Steve I said so.

[Cross-posted at If I Ran the Zoo]

Michael Calderone has this video of Geraldine Ferraro claiming black journalists, (and I assume she means black male journalists) of being surrogates for Obama and ignoring sexism on the trail.

Ta-Nehisi Coates
points to this Jezebel post noting that Bob Herbert devoted a whole column to the subject, but they didn't provide what I thought was the money quote:

Sexism in its myriad destructive forms permeates nearly every aspect of American life. For many men, it’s the true national pastime, much bigger than baseball or football.

I suppose it's safe to say that Geraldine Ferraro doesn't read Bob Herbert, probably because she thinks that he only got his job at the New York Times because he's black. And we know for a fact that Geraldine Ferraro really just doesn't like black men. And it's significant that asked to name an instance of sexism, all she could mention was conference calls with journalists that all candidates have.

But let's take a look at what some other black columnists have had to say.

Eugene Robinson acknowledge a sexist bias in the media against Hillary months ago. Roland Martin said "I’ve heard men blow off comments about Sen. Hillary Clinton that are clearly sexist, and we do well to recognize that." Earl Ofari Hutchinson has spent the past year shilling mercilessly for Hillary.

But you know what the key word in Ferraro's diatribe is? It's not even black, it's "all."

"All the black journalists".

There actually aren't very many of us in the news business, even in commentary, which seems to have a pretty low threshold for white Republican men. There are too many of us perhaps, for Geraldine Ferraro, who probably would have been hard pressed to name another black columnist.

What Ferraro is trying to do, and what Fox News is helping her do, is turn give "sexism" the subtextual meaning of "anti-white," much the way folks on the Right who attack department stores for maybe, possibly including Hannukah but more likely referring to New Years when they put up banners saying "Happy Holidays" get incensed about "anti-Semitism" when the target is Amiri Baraka. So now instead of calling the Obama campaign "racist" by which they mean anti-white, they can just call it sexist and we'll all know what it means.
Campaigning to NOT be the VP

With this sort of scorched earth policy, Hillary Clinton won't likely be considered for a seat on the SCOTUS either.
They Hate Us Because Of Our Freedoms

Anything wrong with this picture?

On Tuesday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told a Miami rally that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) sends "the worst possible signal to dictators" by his stated willingness to meet with leaders such as the Castro brothers in Cuba. In a White House speech yesterday, President Bush declared a "Day of Solidarity with Cuba," hosted relatives of Cuban political prisoners and announced he will open a small window in strict U.S. sanctions, allowing cellphones to be sent to the island.


The White House this year put a new gloss on the criticism of Fidel Castro and the expressions of support for the Cuban people that it traditionally issues on May 20, which is Cuba's independence day. Early this month, the administration declared a new "Solidarity Day" on May 21, establishing a Web site and an international petition drive calling for Cuban democracy.


Francisco J. "Pepe" Hernandez, president of the Cuban American National Foundation, called Bush's announcement "absurd." He urged the president instead to lift restrictions that limit Cuban Americans to one visit to the island every three years and to no more than $1,200 they can send to relatives annually.

Although cellular phones are on the lengthy U.S. list of items not allowed to be sent to Cuba, Hernandez said his organization and many others regularly ship them there. "With all due respect" to Bush, he said, "you can't eat cellphones."

The new "Solidarity" Web site,, listed a scattering of events scheduled yesterday in several European and Latin American countries, and two related Facebook pages, which as of yesterday evening featured approximately 300 fans.

Isn't that precious? King George is going to bend the rules just this once and out of the goodness of his born-again heart, allow supposedly free Americans, finally, at least for a while, however long King George declares it doesn't threaten the US of A, or the usually reliable Republican votes of the Cuban Exile community in Miami, to send cell phones to a tiny, inpoverished island a few miles to the south of us.

And yeah, while we're lecturing Cuba on the need to become more democratic our government has been busy for decades enacting great long lists of things that free Americans CAN'T send to Cuban relatives, friends, or to poor Cubans generally, and determining how often supposedly free Americans can travel to Cuba, a country which poses absolutely no threat to us.

What a retarded policy. A retarded policy, by the way, supported by Bush, McCain and Hillary Clinton. But a retarded policy opposed by Obama. Just sayin'.

And, oh, the "solidarity" website is quite a gas, isn't it?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


I'll be away for the rest of the week and the weekend -- I'll be back Monday night or Tuesday. A couple of guest bloggers have said they'll show up -- if any of the usual gang missed the e-mail, hey, jump in anytime.

See you soon....

An odd experience I'm having lately is that even as I'm expressing exasperation at the Clinton campaign -- and feeling that I'm one of the awful "Blogger Boyz" who are being condemned as sexists for it -- I'm getting hits for a post I did last fall denouncing the Hillary nutcracker. I still think the nutcracker is disgusting, and yes, it's appalling how much overt, unabashed, unapologetic sexism is directed at Hillary Clinton.

But I think there's a perception out there that there simply isn't anything comparably racist -- no merchandise, no Photoshop "humor" -- directed against Barack Obama. When my nutcracker post is linked (for example, here), it's often by people who quote a recent denunciation of anti-Clinton sexism that reads in part:

Imagine this scenario:

...Across the country, racists openly ridicule Obama and his candidacy. In mainstream stores there are gag gifts playing on racist themes: maybe a (water)Melon Baller with Obama’s head on the handle, maybe a Barack Obama Shoeshine Set — you get the picture.... T-shirts say “Quit Running for President and Shine My Shoes!” Anybody who protests is branded a fool and a spoilsport....

Do people really think nothing like that is out there? Anywhere? That no one's making jokes like that? Anywhere?

If so, please explain all this:

(Click any image to enlarge. Yes, the shoeshine story references tap-dancing and Cadillacs.)

Obama is being asked to denounce sexism he and his campaign nothing to do with -- some jerk from a radio show holding up an "Iron My Shirt" sign, for instance. What's the limit for that? How obscure does something have to be before Obama no longer has a moral obligation to notice it and denounce it? And what's the Clinton campaign's corresponding responsibility? If something's only at Cafe Press or, is it part of the cultural landscape or isn't it? Is it worthy of denunciation or not?

(Sources: white women; PhatCow; Curious George; lawn jockey; driving; welfare; gangster; Afro; sculpture; shoeshine; watermelon.)

Right? Isn't it? As a person who was born in Havana, wouldn't you agree, Alex?

During yesterday's Democratic primary coverage, CNN senior analyst Jeff Toobin criticized a New York Times column that published a joke about Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) being a "white bitch." ... But CNN contributor Alex Castellanos, who is also an adviser to Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) campaign, disagreed, saying that some women deserve to be called a "bitch":

If I can disagree, I think you're dead wrong. She's dead wrong. And I think she thinks her problem is she's a woman. Her problem is she's Hillary Clinton. And some women, by the way, are named that and it's accurate.

In case it's not obvious, I'm being sarcastic here. What a jerk Castellanos is. Whatever disagreements I have with Hillary Clinton right now, I say this is beyond the pale.


AND: No, I don't actually believe it's OK to call Castellanos a spic. A jerk, a moron, an idiot, a boor -- yes.

I guess fact-checkers at National Review were told not to look at the first two sentences of Republican hack Michelle Malkin's article "Barack Obama, Gaffe Machine":

All it takes is one gaffe to taint a Republican for life. The political establishment never let Dan Quayle live down his fateful misspelling of "potatoe."

Really? He was a victim of one isolated slip-up?

For the truth, let's go to the wayback machine:

At the 1988 Republican National Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, George H. W. Bush called on Quayle to be his running mate in the general election....

Questions were raised about Quayle's use of family connections to get into the Indiana National Guard and thus avoid possible combat service in the Vietnam War....

Contributing greatly to the perception of Quayle's incompetence was his tendency to make public statements which were either self-contradictory ("We don't want to go back to tomorrow, we want to go forward"), logically redundant ("The future will be better tomorrow"), obvious ("For NASA, space is still a high priority"), geographically wrong ("I love California. I practically grew up in Phoenix."), fallacious ("It's time for the human race to enter the solar system"), or painfully confused and inappropriate, as when he addressed the United Negro College Fund, whose slogan is "A mind is a terrible thing to waste," Quayle said "You take the United Negro College Fund model that what a waste it is to lose one's mind or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is."

... Quayle was asked his thoughts on sending humans to Mars. His response was stunning for the number of errors he made in just a few short sentences. "Mars is essentially in the same orbit [as earth]....Mars is somewhat the same distance from the Sun, which is very important. We have seen pictures where there are canals, we believe, and water. If there is water, that means there is oxygen. If oxygen, that means we can breathe."

...On May 19, 1992, Quayle gave a speech to the Commonwealth Club of California on the subject of the Los Angeles riots.... In an aside, he cited the fictional title character in the television program Murphy Brown as an example of how popular culture contributes to this "poverty of values", saying: "[i]t doesn't help matters when primetime TV has Murphy Brown -- a character who supposedly epitomizes today's intelligent, highly paid, professional woman -- mocking the importance of fathers, by bearing a child alone, and calling it just another 'lifestyle choice.'" Quayle drew a firestorm of criticism....

That was before the "potatoe" gaffe.

A few more Snopes-verified quotes:

* "Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child."

* "Welcome to President Bush, Mrs. Bush, and my fellow astronauts."

* "The Holocaust was an obscene period in our nation's history. I mean in this century's history. But we all lived in this century. I didn't live in this century."

* "I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy -- but that could change."

* "One word sums up probably the responsibility of any vice president, and that one word is 'to be prepared.'"

* "Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things."

* "I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future."

* "We're going to have the best-educated American people in the world."

* "I stand by all the misstatements that I've made."

* "We have a firm commitment to NATO, we are a part of NATO. We have a firm commitment to Europe. We are a part of Europe."

* "We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur."

* "Quite frankly, teachers are the only profession that teach our children."

Oh, and don't forget my favorite:

"Hawaii has always been a very pivotal role in the Pacific. It is part of the United States that is an island that is right here."

Don't have a pity party for Dan Quayle, Michelle. He acquired his reputation as a dolt the old-fashioned way -- he earned it. And to argue that this Olympic-level doltishness is equivalent to, say, referring to Sioux Falls as Sioux City and immediately correcting oneself (one of the felonies in Malkin's Obama gaffe brief) is utterly preposterous.