Monday, June 30, 2008


Okay, I know it's terribly expensive to hire actual human proofreaders, but I bet the American Family Association is wishing it had made the investment after this snafu. It seems some right-wing sites use Auto-Correct on Associated Press articles to weed out language they find unacceptable. I wonder what the AP thinks about this:
...the American Family Association’s OneNewsNow website takes the phenomenon [auto-correct] one step further with its AP articles. The far-right fundamentalist group replaces the word “gay” in the articles with the word “homosexual.” I’m not entirely sure why, but it seems to make the AFA happy. The group is, after all, pretty far out there.

The problem, of course, is that “gay” does not always mean what the AFA wants it to mean. My friend Kyle reported this morning that sprinter Tyson Gay won the 100 meters at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials over the weekend. The AFA ran the story, but only after the auto-correct had “fixed” the article.

That means — you guessed it — the track star was renamed “Tyson Homosexual.” The headline on the piece read, “Homosexual eases into 100 final at Olympic trials.”

The eagle eyes at the AFA have since fixed their "fix", but there is a screen capture here, along with some more examples of proofreading brilliance.

via Shakesville; cross-posted at If I Ran the Zoo

One of the main reasons I decided to support Barack Obama was because even early on it was immediately apparent that he was the kind of enormously deft politician (yes, he's one of those) we haven't seen in the Democratic party in a very long time. When was the last time you ever remember seeing rightwing pundits on the teevees extolling the poliskillz of a Democrat with such wide-eyed admiration and barely-contained jealousy? Little did I know at the time that he would also prove to be an exceptionally wise manager, putting together an organization underneath him that's as awesomely nimble as it is quietly ruthless. Take a look at what the Obama camp is doing in Florida and you'll see what I mean:
Don't let Steve Schale fool you, just because he looks like the kid who won the spelling bee, in wire-rimmed glasses and rumpled khakis. Or because Tallahassee is the biggest city he's ever lived in. Or because he lists Eagle Scout on his résumé.

Recently tapped to lead Democrat Barack Obama's presidential campaign in Florida, Schale may be the savviest Democratic operative in the state.

He helped his beleaguered party do something it hadn't done in more than 20 years: pick up a seat in the Florida House of Representatives. Under his steady hand, Democrats netted nine seats in the past two years.

Statewide, the latest polls show Obama with a slight edge over Republican John McCain, foreshadowing a knockdown, drag-out fight in the nation's largest battleground state. The Republican Party has already begun trying to undermine Obama among the state's Hispanic and Jewish voters, and it's easy to picture attack ads questioning his stated willingness to meet with hostile governments in Cuba and Iran.

Schale, 33, is a Southern gentleman who hasn't been in the trenches for very long. But he'll likely have more money, staff and volunteers at his disposal than McCain's team -- "the largest and most comprehensive organization that my side of the aisle has ever seen in Florida," he said. His allies warn: Don't let the nice-guy demeanor fool you.

"Steve does best when people take him for granted," said former state Rep. Doug Wiles of Jacksonville, who gave Schale his first job in politics. "I would never want to be on the other side of him in a campaign. He's very competitive, very focused and very driven."

Democrats slightly outnumber Republicans in Florida, but the state has voted only twice for the Democrat in a presidential race since 1976. Partly to blame: clumsy coordination with the presidential campaigns and a second-rate operation of turning out voters and absentee ballots. The man who ran John Kerry's 2004 campaign was chief of staff to New Jersey Sen. Jon Corzine and had never run a race in Florida.

In contrast, Schale is the resident scholar of the Florida Democratic Party. A Southerner from North Florida, Schale has spent his entire career helping Democratic candidates, from a sixth-generation farmer outside of Gainesville to a retired firefighter in Little Havana, run against the Republican tide.

Call Schale up in the middle of the night and no doubt he could rattle off voting trends in Okaloosa County.
Make no mistake about it, the Obama team is going to constantly keep the Republicans on their toes. Welcome to ballet school, wingnuts.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Unholy Shit

I don't think stevem is a gardener, but I am, in my modest way and this has me scared herbless.

From Firedoglake:
In today's Observer, Caroline Davies describes how this year British gardeners find their fruits and veggies are stunted, deformed, and dying. The culprit: Dow Chemical's persistent herbicide aminopyralid sprayed on grazing land or fodder. The herbicide stayed in the plants the cattle ate, stayed in the cattle (and horse) poop, stayed in the compost produced from the poop, and came out the other end of the process all ready to kill food crops and home gardens.

Problems with the herbicide emerged late last year, when some commercial potato growers reported damaged crops.


[T]he herbicide has now entered the food chain. Those affected are demanding an investigation and a ban on the product. They say they have been given no definitive answer as to whether other produce on their gardens and allotments is safe to eat.

It appears that the contamination came from grass treated 12 months ago. Experts say the grass was probably made into silage, then fed to cattle during the winter months. The herbicide remained present in the silage, passed through the animal and into manure that was later sold. Horses fed on hay that had been treated could also be a channel.

It can't happen here?

Well, the EPA has licensed aminopyralid in several products used in the US: Cleanwave, Milestone vm, Forefront r&p, and Milestone.

Too Busy To Hate?

No, you can't make this shit up. It really appeared under his byline. David Ignatius explains that "everyone wants" what the emperor-or-whatever-they-call-him of Dubai wants, which is that Obama and McCain take the imaginary debates to this imaginary city to show their imaginary grasp of world affairs.

Atrios puts it down to Ignatius's desire for an all expenses paid trip to Dubai, a place an ordinary person wouldn't go for graft, let alone just for a hotel room and some free toiletries. But I think its worse than that. Its so improbable that I don't see Ignatius wasting his ink on it. Lets face it, the entire thing is a boondoggle of absurd proportions and Ignatius has to have received a payoff up front. We'll know that when his next column proposes that "everyone is talking" about what "great idea" it would be if Obama and McCain would agree to debate on the St. Andrew's Golf Course, wearing Golfing pants, because everyone knows that "Golf is the sport that's too busy to hate" and we have all those golfing interests. And the next column? He'll propose that they sell the naming rights to the debate to Microsoft.

My personal favorite in this gagworthy essay is this remarkable line:

As much as any place in the Arab world, Dubai is a symbol of modernization and change. It's a bit over the top, to be sure, with an artificial ski resort, man-made islands in the shape of a palm tree and rococo hotels with make-believe canals and Arab castles. What's likable about Dubai is that, as a boomtown, it's a city that's "too busy to hate," as was said a generation ago of Atlanta.

What? See, when people are kept busy by capitalism and disney they are "too busy to hate" so presumably all those other countries where they have free time to hate, or to fire mortars at occupation forces, or attack the allies or whatever? Its because they are just plain lazy and under-occupied. If only they had good jobs and rococo hotels and stuff in Iraq, or an autocrat to make them show up at those jobs and clean those hotels, there'd be no insurgency at all. The Iraq war, the enmity of the Arab states towards Israel, is really just a failure of capitalism and the resulting discontent, not an expression of it.


SY HERSH SPEAKS... listen:
Clandestine operations against Iran are not new. United States Special Operations Forces have been conducting cross-border operations from southern Iraq, with Presidential authorization, since last year. These have included seizing members of Al Quds, the commando arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and taking them to Iraq for interrogation, and the pursuit of “high-value targets” in the President’s war on terror, who may be captured or killed. But the scale and the scope of the operations in Iran, which involve the Central Intelligence Agency and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), have now been significantly expanded, according to the current and former officials. Many of these activities are not specified in the new Finding, and some congressional leaders have had serious questions about their nature.


Although some legislators were troubled by aspects of the Finding, and “there was a significant amount of high-level discussion” about it, according to the source familiar with it, the funding for the escalation was approved. In other words, some members of the Democratic leadership--Congress has been under Democratic control since the 2006 elections--were willing, in secret, to go along with the Administration in expanding covert activities directed at Iran, while the Party’s presumptive candidate for President, Barack Obama, has said that he favors direct talks and diplomacy.
Read it all. But I wouldn't be concerned. It's not like Hersh got anything right about Iraq.

Yesterday I gave a fund-raiser for Barack Obama. I called it "Something Old for Something New" even though I'm way too old to believe that. I posted it on the web site and leafleted my street and sent out e-invites to some friends. Years of giving children's parties have given me a lot of experience running parties--its important that there be something for everyone to do and important that there be some kind of goody bag. This party was its own thing to do, since everyone brought something, and its own built in goody bag, since everyone got to take something away.

Its a tough time of year for the kinds of people we know because everyone is either running from children's event to children's event, away on the weekends, or at weddings and things that eat up every hour of the weekend. Still, we got 22 donating couples. Each couple or single brought one thing they had loved but wanted to get rid of--a vase, a picture, a piece of jewlery, some fancy cushions, a set of cooking magazines--and donated 20.08 or whatever they wanted to to the campaign. We had punch and snacks for a couple of hours, they filled out their donor cards and some filled out volunteer cards as well, and then everyone got to choose one item from the table full of strange things. We kept Obama campaign pictures from the Scout Tufankjian web site running in a loop on a tv in one room, I had the volunteer stuff out, and I kept my own exhortations to a minimum and just reminded people that this is going to be a hard, bloody, campaign and we are going to need a lot of money and volunteer effort to fight it.

We raised 1,150 some dollars in two hours for the Obama campaign (I haven't quite figured it out yet because some people donated directly on the web site, some by cash and check). More importantly, everyone had a blast, came out for the campaign, and I had a chance to recruit other people into doing something for the campaign. It was so much fun that some people have said they would like to throw a similar party. Its pretty easy to do, really, so if you like to throw parties I highly recommend it.


Maureen Dowd, in need of repairing what little is left of her reputation, seeks out one of the few people in the little town of Unity who is more petulant and small-minded than she is:
Carmella Lewis, with her Hillary T-shirt and Hillary placard, came all the way from Denver to make sure there would be plenty of ambiguity, duality and ferocity in Unity.

Just as Hillary was testing out the unfamiliar familiarity “Barack and me” Friday and talking about “his grace and his grit,” Carmella began loudly booing and waving her sign.

“We want Hillary!” screamed the 57-year-old retired ad saleswoman and Clinton delegate.

“It’s over, lady!” yelled some Obama supporters a few yards away.

Standing between the Sharks and the Jets, David Axelrod took pity on an older friend of Carmella’s who was suffering from aridity in the Unity humidity. The chief Obama strategist fetched a glass of water and brought it to the woman, who was wearing five Hillary buttons.

This amenity did not stop the disunity. Carmella and her friends continued to cry, “Nobama!” “We love you, Hillary!” and “We need Hillary!” as Barack Obama sat onstage on a stool behind his former rival, his finger studiously at his lips.

Carmella was not impressed with all the kissing, laughing and whispering that Hill and Bam were diligently doing for the cameras, so that the moment could produce, as Obama press aide Robert Gibbs put it on “Larry King Live,” “a great picture.”

When it was Obama’s turn to speak, Carmella announced loudly, “I wish I had ear plugs.” Then, as Obama tried to ingratiate himself with the Hillary partisans in the crowd by saying that because of the New York senator, his daughters “can take for granted that women can do anything that the boys can do and do it better and do it in heels,” Carmella put her fingers in her ears.

As Obama tried to curry favor with Hillary, looking over at her sensible, sturdy shoes and marveling, “I still don’t know how she does it in heels,” Carmella tore up a tissue and stuffed it in her ears.

When Obama pandered with a line about how he wouldn’t “perpetuate a system in which women are paid less for the same work as men,” she put her hands over her tissue-stuffed ears.

“Maybe she’d like what she heard if she listened,” sighed Axelrod.

When Obama talked about moving beyond “all the petty bickering,” as Hillary robo-nodded at his side and CNN’s Candy Crowley applied pre-broadcast lipstick above her, Carmella glared at people applauding.

I am PUMA, I wish I could hear myself roar.

(Somewhat cross-posted at this dump)


Aimai points out in the comments that there's a very high likelihood that Dowd's dateline on this is bogus and that she was nowhere near Unity. I've poked around but haven't been able to call it one way or another. In addition, Molly Ivors has a slightly different take on this editorial. To be fair (yeah, I know, we're talking about MoDo here), she certainly wasn't the only person in the media who spotlighted Carmella's buffoonery. Unlike Ivors, I don't see these hardcore PUMAs climbing on the bus eventually (I mean, this woman flew in from Denver to plug up her ears with tissues). I hope I'm wrong, but as I've pointed out elsewhere, I think their numbers are wildly exaggerated and hopefully this media feeding frenzy will dry up soon.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

This is Wrong

Crooks and Liars posts this instructive "how not to respond" transcript of David Gregory asking one of Obama's Advisor's whether Bush shouldn't be given credit for "no attacks" on the US. Here's the transcript:

Gregory: “Hello, Susan. While we are talking about the prospect of nuclear terrorism, which is what is behind the concerns of North Korea and Iran. I have a broader question for you and really for Senator Obama. Why is it, does he believe that America has not been attacked in this country by terrorists since 9/11? And does George W. Bush, President Bush deserve credit for that?”

Rice: “I think what we have to acknowledge, David, that we haven’t been attacked but we are nonetheless less safe as a sequence of the policies of this administration has pursued. Our standing in the world is at an all-time low. Al Qaeda is more dangerous now in Afghanistan and Pakistan than it has been. Our intelligence community is warning they are reconstituting and more deadly to U.S. forces than Iraq.”

Crooks and Liars picks off the easy point which is to say that:

Of course, Gregory is incorrect, there HAS been a deadly terrorist attack in the U.S. since 9/11 — the anthrax attacks that killed 5 Americans ring a bell to you? It’s interesting that so many seem to forget this factoid. Speaking of anthrax and Bush failures, you’ll be happy to learn that $5.8 million of your tax dollars were just awarded to Steven Hatfill in his lawsuit against the Bush Justice Department. Hatfill is an Army scientist who was deemed a “Person of Interest” in the anthrax attacks, but was eventually ruled out as a suspect in the Bush administration’s botched investigation. Hatfill’s lawyer placed partial blame on the media for not questioning the Bush administration’s motives in targeting him and for reporting leaked disinformation they could not substantiate.
But even that doesn't go far enough because the correct response is:

"The US, its citizens, its soldiers, and its interests are being attacked every day in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world. We lost X number of soldiers last month in Iraq, we lost X number of troops in Afghanistan. Our Allies lost civilians in the bombing attacks in Spain and our allies in Britain and our citizens in this country have lost priceless civil and constitutional protections against government abuse. Short sighted and foolish international policies on loose nukes and other weapons of mass destruction have made the US itself less safe over the long term. If President Bush just wanted to make sure that he looked good to the home audience he played a good game over the last seven years but safer? No, we aren't safer. Not when we count all the people the President has put in harm's way, all our national and international interests, or our historic rights as American citizens."

cross posted at If I Ran The Zoo
SHHHHHHHHHHH...Hope, is the thing with Feathers...pass it on while SteveM. is busy.

From a Diarist at DailyKos who was at the Unity NH Rally:

It took awhile for everyone to file in, so we discussed politics and Obama with some people sitting nearby. One Woman had driven ten hours from Canada to be here. One man had just so happened to volunteer for the campaign a week ago, and was happy to work here today. An African American woman was very happy that this event was taking Place. She had voted for Clinton in the primaries, but loved Obama as well, so this was an amazing event for her.

There was a Clinton supporter carrying around a sign saying "The Democratic Party is a House Divided," upsetting some people. I watched her carefully during the speeches, and afterwards she tore up the sign and asked where to volunteer.

Old, Angry, But Very Much In Control--of his tax cuts.

Last week, the Center for American Progress Action Fund released a new report by Michael Ettlinger estimating that under McCain's tax plan, he and his wife, Cindy, would save $373,429. That's nearly $400,000 -- per year, not over the course of their lifetimes. (Under Barack Obama's plan, the McCains would save less than $6,000. The Obamas would save nearly $50,000 under McCain's plan, and slightly more than $6,000 under Obama's plan own plan.)

By the standards the media applied to Edwards, the fact that McCain supports tax policies that would save him and his wife nearly $400,000 a year -- and require massive cuts to public services to pay for those tax breaks -- should surely be news. Unlike the media's focus on Edwards' wealth, which did nothing to help voters understand the substance of his proposals, McCain's potential savings under his tax plan actually would help illustrate how much the wealthy would benefit from the plan.

h/t Media Matters and Atrios

cross posted at If I Ran The Zoo

Friday, June 27, 2008


I wanted to post a bit more today, but I had huge amounts of work to finish up because i'm taking a week off. I'll be away from the blog (maybe I'll pop in once or twice), but there'll be guest bloggers galore (I hope). See you after the holiday....


Oh, Remain Calm is back, and is restored to the real blogroll. Go check it out.

Near the end of a column in which she bemoans the seeming listlessness of John McCain's presidential campaign, Peggy Noonan says this:

...there is a sense about his campaign that ... John McCain has already got what he wanted, he got what he needed, which was to be top dog in the Republican Party.... He doesn't need the presidency. He got what he wanted. So now he can coast. This is, in the deepest way, unserious. JFK had to have the presidency -- he wanted that thing. Nixon had to have it too, and Reagan had to have it to institute his new way. Clinton had to have it -- it was his destiny, the thing he'd wanted since he was a teenager.

The last person I can think of who gave off the vibe that he didn't have to have it was Bob Dole. Who didn't get it. And who had a similar lack of engagement in terms of policy, and philosophy, and meaning....

Er ... George W. Bush? Wasn't a central part of the master narrative in 2000 that Bush -- gratifyingly -- didn't have a lot of ambition, in contrast to that appallingly ambitious Al Gore? Wasn't that what every journalist believed about him?

Here's a 2007 recollection by the king of conventional wisdom, Mark Halperin, as quoted by Bob Somerby:

When George W. Bush ran in 2000, many voters liked his straightforward, uncomplicated mean-what-I-say-and-say-what-I-mean certainty. He came across as a man of principle who did not lust for the White House....

Here's a bit of hagiography that appears on the Web site of the city of Midland, Texas:

...Bush showed a quiet confidence as a candidate for President in 2000. It was only his fourth run for office, so in some ways he was still a political rookie. But the presidency was simply another goal, not his life's ambition....

Hell, this was considered such an effective card to play that Bush even put it in his speech at the 2000 Republican convention:

...For me, gaining this office is not the ambition of a lifetime, but it is the opportunity of a lifetime, and I will make the most of it....


Somerby reminds us that McCain's ambition hasn't always been so hard to discern. He cites a 2000 Nicholas Kristof column:

Mr. McCain let the scope of his ambitions slip out again in fall 1970, when he was in Vietnam and four of the prisoners of war were put together in a cell. They spent a couple of weeks talking nonstop, and the conversation soon touched on their dreams...

"We asked John what he wanted to be -- chief of naval operations?" recalled Richard A. Stratton, one of those present. "He said, no, the best job in the Navy is commander in chief of the Pacific forces, because then you're chief warrior. But he said that what he really wanted to be was president.

"With him, it's no flash in the pan, no sudden dream," Mr. Stratton said. "He's been thinking of this for a long time."

Maybe Peggy can't see the ongoing ambition because he doesn't invite her to the barbecues.

In today's column, David Brooks praises the kids -- a bold new generation of untethered, independent right-wing kids! -- whose writing is going to save conservatism:

Among the many dark tidings for American conservatism, there is one genuine bright spot. Over the past five years, a group of young and unpredictable rightward-leaning writers has emerged on the scene.

... most of these writers did not rise through the official channels of the conservative or libertarian establishments. By and large, they didn't do the internships or take part in the young leader programs that were designed to replenish "the movement."

...There are dozens of writers I could put in this group, but I'd certainly mention Yuval Levin, Daniel Larison, Will Wilkinson, Julian Sanchez, James Poulos, Megan McArdle, Matt Continetti and, though he's a tad older, Ramesh Ponnuru.

Ross Douthat and my former assistant, Reihan Salam, are two of the most promising....

Yup, that's right -- these kids aren't connected to the righty Establishment ... oh, except, I guess, for the one who was an assistant to David Brooks.

Oh, and one or two others.

Like Matt Continetti:

... Doubleday editor-at-large Adam Bellow came up with the idea [for Continetti's first book] shortly after the Presidential election in 2004. ... he needed to find someone to write it. So he did what any media-savvy individual in search of fresh, right-leaning blood would do: He telephoned The Weekly Standard's editor, Bill Kristol.

Mr. Kristol suggested one of his own reporters, Matthew Continetti, 25, for the gig....

Mr. Bellow, who in the past has edited such conservative writers as Dinesh D'Souza and Wendy Shalit, helped his lucky new scribe hammer out a proposal, which Mr. Kristol and others reviewed....

Before Mr. Continetti found himself completing his first book, he was treading a path through a system that connects such ideologically aligned dots as Mr. Bellow, Mr. Kristol and himself....

Mr. Continetti ...was awarded a 2002 summer internship at the
National Review through the Collegiate Network, a division of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute that was founded by Irving Kristol and William Simon Sr. in 1979, which directs money into American colleges to fight what it characterizes as liberal bias on campuses....

The network also funds yearlong fellowships, of which Mr. Continetti was a recipient upon graduation. He spent his year at
The Weekly Standard as a fellow under Fred Barnes and received a stipend of approximately $28,000 from the network; when it was over, the magazine hired him full time....

And now there’s the book deal. Mr. Bellow said that he was taught a "whole generational theory of publishing" by his mentor at the Free Press, Erwin Glikes, who had hired him based on a recommendation from Irving Kristol (who was an acquaintance of his father, Saul Bellow). The theory consisted of finding the best of the younger generation and giving them book contracts....

Ross Douthat? Former editor of the right-wing campus paper The Harvard Salient, which was also funded by the Collegiate Network.

Yuval Levin?

Yuval Levin is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. In 2005 and 2006, he was a member of the White House domestic policy staff.... Trained in political science at American University and the University of Chicago, he is considered by many a bioconservative and a Straussian, in the mold of his mentor, Leon Kass.

Will Wilkinson?

... Currently he is a research fellow at the Cato Institute... Previously, he was Academic Coordinator of the Social Change Project and the Global Prosperity Initiative at The Mercatus Center at George Mason University and before that he ran the Social Change Workshop for Graduate Students for The Institute for Humane Studies.

(The Mercatus Center "is a market-oriented research, education, and outreach think tank ... founded by Rich Fink, former president of the Koch Foundations, which funds a network of market-oriented think tanks and advocacy groups." The Institute for Humane Studies "acts as a libertarian talent scout, identifying, developing, and supporting the brightest young libertarians it can find who are intent on a leveraged scholarly, or intellectual, career path.... The Institute receives funding from a number of large libertarian and right-wing foundations, including the Sarah Scaife Foundation, the Koch Family Foundations, Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation and the Carthage Foundation.")

Ramesh Ponnuru?

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review.... He has been a fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs in London and a media fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.

(For info on the Institute of Economic Affairs and Hoover Institution, go here and here.)

Yup -- real bootstrappers, these kids.


By the way, I'm amused that James Poulos is on Brooks's list. He's not as well connected -- but he's the guy who, a few years ago, told us that society is being irreparably harmed by "zany" typefaces and deliberate misspellings ("kidz") on items aimed at children. If he's the future of conservatism, conservatism is doomed.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Here's the problem: America didn't care all that much two and half years ago when John Yoo refused to deny that the president has the legal right to crush a child's testicles...

Cassel: If the President deems that he's got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person's child, there is no law that can stop him?
Yoo: No treaty.
Cassel: Also no law by Congress. That is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo.
Yoo: I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that.

So it's hard to imagine America caring now, when Yoo again refuses to rule out the legality of torture ordered by the president.

CONYERS: Could the President order a suspect buried alive?

YOO: Uh, Mr. Chairman, I don't think I've ever given advice that the President could order someone buried alive...

CONYERS: I didn't ask you if you ever gave him advice. I asked you thought the President could order a suspect buried alive.

YOO: Well Chairman, my view right now is that I don't think a President -- no American President would ever have to order that or feel it necessary to order that.

CONYERS: I think we understand the games that are being played.

Here's the thing. If, in reaction to 9/11 and the earlier history of the United States, you say "God damn America," you'll be a pariah. If you call the victims of 9/11 "little Eichmanns," you'll be a pariah. No surprise there. And I'm not defending Jeremiah Wright or Ward Churchill -- far from it. But all they were doing was describing the world as they saw it, however offensively. They weren't enabling brutality on the part of those with the power to brutalize, as Yoo did when he worked in the Bush administration. And yet he's no pariah.

We can ask Yoo this question a hundred different ways. He's always going to articulate the same philosophy, because he knows that most of America figures it's fine as long as it only happens to them. As long as most of us don't see ourselves as part of them, John Yoo will have a very pleasant life.

I don't know how to change the way most Americans look at this. Asking John Yoo about ever more grotesque tortures isn't going to do it, as long as Americans think that that is fine because it doesn't happen to us.

The Supreme Court just struck down the D.C. gun ban, and a McCain blogger conference call used the ruling to discuss ... Barack Obama and Iraq.

Here's the message: Obama will change his position on anything -- which is bad! But he hasn't changed his position on Iraq -- which is bad!

At least that's what we're told here:

The McCain campaign shows once again that they have honed the rapid-response instincts in the campaign by quickly arranging a conference call for the media on the Heller decision and gun control within an hour of the decision. Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) and senior policy adviser Randy Scheunemann spoke about the decision and what it means, as well as how Barack Obama's reversal on Heller affects the race.

... Brownback expressed amazement at Obama's flip-flop on the DC gun ban today, calling it either "an incredible flip-flop or incredible inexperience".

...He also warned that the next flip-flop will probably be on Iraq. Brownback notes that he himself didn't support the surge, but acknowledged his error and John McCain’s wisdom when it succeeded. Why can't the Democrats do that? Obama talks bipartisanship, but his actions don't match his words.

... Obama, Scheunemann says, has established that he holds no position that he won't change for political opportunism. ... Obama was wrong on the surge and wanted firm timetables for withdrawal, and the McCain campaign figures that another flip-flop may be coming....

Translation: Why can't Obama be an evil, spineless, opportunistic flip-flopper on Iraq? What the hell is his problem?


(An Obama spokesman said last year that Obama thought the D.C. gun ban was constitutional. He's since been saying he thinks the Second Amendment gives individuals the right to carry guns, which is what the Supreme Court said today.)

This response to the Supreme Court's decision to ban capital punishment for child rape is apparently enough to inoculate Barack Obama. I'm somewhat surprised:

Obama's non-Dukakis answer

Michael Dukakis, Obama is not.

On the death penalty today, Obama sidestepped a potential political land mine. Opponents could have had something recent and tangible to tag him anew as a hard-left liberal had he answered any differently than he did on the issue.

When asked about the Supreme Court ruling against the use of the death penalty in instances of child rape today at a news conference in Chicago, Obama answered, "I disagree with the decision. I have said repeatedly that I think that the death penalty should be applied in very narrow circumstances for most egregious of crimes. I think that the rape of a small child, six or eight years old is a heinous crime, and if a state makes a decision that under narrow, limited, well-defined circumstances, the death penalty is at least potentially applicable. That does not violate our constitution."

He continued, "Had the Supreme Court said, 'We want to constrain ability of states to do this to make sure that it's done in a careful and appropriate way,' that would've been one thing, but it basically had a blanket prohibition and I disagree with that decision." ...

I was afraid that the many qualifications in his statement would get him brandy as a wussy, legalistic liberal, especially in contrast to John McCain's response, as quoted in The New York Times:

Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, said, "That there is a judge anywhere in America who does not believe that the rape of a child represents the most heinous of crimes, which is deserving of the most serious of punishments, is profoundly disturbing." He called the decision "an assault on law enforcement's efforts to punish these heinous felons for the most despicable crime."

But so far no one seems to be pouncing on Obama. I guess it's enough that he disagrees with the decision, and that he's not categorically opposed to capital punishment, as Dukakis was. But I'm pleasantly surprised that he's getting away with the tone of this statement, with its utter absence of macho posturing -- I'm not sure Kerry or Gore or Dukakis would have. Maybe the folks who run the right-wing noise machine have fallen so much for their own rhetoric that they don't have a ready reaction to an Obama statement that's to the right of their stereotype.


I'm not a big fan of the death penalty, but I do think this decision gets the notion of "evolving standards of decency" quite wrong -- I don't have any sense that this country finds the death penalty for child rape abhorrent. I think there's still a chance that the McCain campaign will take advantage of this, citing Justice Kennedy's phrase "our own independent judgment" (which I think is going to become notorious on the right) and railing against "out-of-control judges" (never mind the fact that three of the five judges in this majority were appointed by Republican presidents). And (see at the Times story) I think this is odd:

Justice Kennedy also said that capital punishment for child rape presented specific problems, including ... the fact that the crime often occurs within families. Families might be inclined to "shield the perpetrator from discovery" when the penalty is death, he said, leading to an increase in the problem of underreporting these crimes.

Death penalty fans have a belief, contradicted by all evidence, that capital punishment has magical powers of deterrence, and now here's a decision overturning some death penalties that agrees with that fallacy. It seems to me that a lot of families already shield child molesters, out of fear that any punishment at all will be meted out -- they don't want the molester jailed or even just removed from the home, seeing that as more disruptive to the family than the sexual abuse (which is hidden from sight and easy to be in denial about). There might be valid reasons to oppose the death penalty for child rape, but this isn't one of them.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Here's the problem: The era of the original 007 films had the coolest movie music and the coolest movie opening titles ever, and when you do an attack ad in which you parody those things (surprisingly effectively), it just makes the guy you're attacking look cool. That might not be true in every case, but it's certainly true in the case of Obama, because he already looks like a cool guy from that era, a fact this ad reinforces.

It also doesn't help that you can barely hear the supposedly damning Obama soundbites over the music.

Grade: B+ (for Obama's campaign), F (for McCain's).

Ralphie has now decided he's qualified to give Barack Obama blackness lessons:

Nader: Obama 'talking white'

Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader accused Sen. Barack Obama, the presumed Democratic Party nominee, of downplaying poverty issues, trying to "talk white" and appealing to "white guilt" during his run for the White House....

"He wants to show that he is not a threatening ... another politically threatening African-American politician," Nader said. "He wants to appeal to white guilt. You appeal to white guilt not by coming on as black is beautiful, black is powerful. Basically he's coming on as someone who is not going to threaten the white power structure, whether it's corporate or whether it's simply oligarchic. And they love it. Whites just eat it up."

Ralph, of course, has a deep and profound connection to the African-American community, as we saw repeatedly in his 2000 campaign:

Wow, that's some bill. If melanin were dynamite, there wouldn't be enough on that stage to blow Michael Moore's baseball cap off. And that's including the only living black person on most Hacky Sack players' iPods, Ben Harper.

More from Ralph:

"... I haven't heard him have a strong crackdown on economic exploitation in the ghettos. Payday loans, predatory lending, asbestos, lead. What's keeping him from doing that? Is it because he wants to talk white? He doesn't want to appear like Jesse Jackson? We'll see all that play out in the next few months and if he gets elected afterwards."

Hmm, let's see:

Barack Obama wants crackdown on predatory lending

Obama is No Fan of Payday Loans

EPA Accepts Obama Proposal to Eliminate Lead Paint from Schools, Childcare Facilities

And he's so afraid of talking about asbestos that he writes a length in his first book about working on an asbestos-removal campaign, to the point that he's been accused of taking too much credit for the effort.

As for Nader's own campaign site?

References to payday loans: zero.
References to predatory lending: zero.
References to asbestos: zero.

(Yeah, there's one reference to lead paint, on a page featuring a photo of a white child.)

So Ralph's the pot calling the kettle ... er, never mind.


UPDATE: What kind of idiot would praise this? Cg.Eye, from somewhere in Hillary or Death Land:

(And confidential to Mr. Nader: Thanks for looking at the man behind the curtain.)

Confidential to Mr./Ms. Cg.Eye: It's called Google. Use it. See above.


UPDATE RE CG.EYE: In comments, Leah from Corrente says:

Just wanted you to know that the post in question by cg.eye is the result of our open commenting and posting policy; we're taking steps to correct the errors of fact, by Nader, and repeated by the poster and some of the commentaters.

So noted.

Maureen Dowd, of all people, thinks it's wrong for Karl Rove to call Barack Obama an elitist:

...This was Rove's take on Obama to Republicans at the Capitol Hill Club Monday, according to Christianne Klein of ABC News:

"Even if you never met him, you know this guy. He's the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by."

Actually, that sounds more like W.

The cheap populism is really rich coming from Karl Rove. When was the last time he kicked back with a corncob pipe to watch professional wrestling?

Rove is trying to spin his myths, as he used to do with such devastating effect, but it won't work this time. The absurd spectacle of rich white conservatives trying to paint Obama as a watercress sandwich with the crust cut off seems ugly and fake....

Dowd's outrage actually seems genuine. But don't worry -- she's just letting her hatred for the Bushies trump her hatred for Democratic girly-men, and it's probably temporary. And she actually points Rove in the direction of ways he might demonize Obama with more impact:

...Obama can be aloof and dismissive at times, and he's certainly self-regarding, carrying the aura of the Ivy faculty club. But isn't that better than the aura of the country clubs that tried to keep out blacks? It's ironic, and maybe inevitable, that the first African-American nominee comes across as a prince of privilege....

He might be smoking, but it would be at a cafe, hunched over a New York Times, an Atlantic magazine, his MacBook and some organic fruit-flavored tea, listening to Bob Dylan’s "Blood on the Tracks" on his iPod....

Yes, she makes what seems to be a sincere declaration that all that Ivy League elitism is OK:

...Rove's mythmaking about Obama won't fly. If he means that Obama has brains, what's wrong with that? If he means that Obama is successful, what's wrong with that? If he means that Obama has education and intellectual sophistication, what's wrong with that?...

But clearly she's long thought there is something wrong with that. Let's go back to Dowd in April, just before the Pennsylvania primary:

...Obama comes across less like a candidate in Pennsylvania than an anthropologist in Borneo.

His mother got her Ph.D. in anthropology, studying the culture of Indonesia. And as Obama has courted white, blue-collar voters in "Deer Hunter" and "Rocky" country, he has often appeared to be observing the odd habits of the colorful locals, resisting as the natives try to fatten him up like a foie gras goose, sampling Pennsylvania beer in a sports bar with his tie tight, awkwardly accepting bowling shoes as a gift from Bob Casey, examining the cheese and salami at the Italian Market here as intriguing ethnic artifacts, purchasing Utz Cheese Balls at a ShopRite in East Norriton and quizzing the women working in a chocolate factory about whether they could possibly really like the sugary doodads....

And in March:

...Obama's multiculturalism is a selling point with many Democrats. But his impassioned egghead advisers have made his campaign seem not only out of his control, but effete and vaguely foreign -- the same unflattering light that doomed Michael Dukakis and John Kerry....

I said yesterday that Rove's "country club" remark clashed with the right's attempt to portray Obama as a sinister non-Christian foreigner. The mythical scary Moo-slime is unkempt -- Saddam in the hidey-hole or KSM looking like a slob. Scary Muslims wear robes and long beards; their ideology is medieval; yadda yadda yadda. Your brain gets whiplash going from that to an effete guy drinking a martini.

I don't want to give wingnuts any more advice, but I can't help noticing that the critiques Dowd is still throwing at Obama would actually dovetail better with the scary-foreign-Muslim archetype than Rove's remarks do. A guy in a cafe? Smoking and poring over a computer? In a college town? That could be a terrorist! Or the 21st-century equivalent of a Cold War commie or 1920s anarchist! Who might not even have been born in this country!

But if there's a message-discipline problem among Obama's antagonists -- and don't worry, Dowd will go back to being one sooner or later, trust me -- I'm not complaining. Let them struggle to figure out how to trash him, and may their attempts to reprogram our reptile brains continue to clash.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I won't exactly surprise you if I tell you that the point of the latest Ralph Peters column in the New York Post is to persuade the reader that liberals and Democrats are morally depraved and want all Americans to die. Now, there may be a few words in the column -- an "and," possibly a "the" -- that actually bear a passing resemblance to objective reality, but there isn't much. Even the caption under the accompanying photo sets up a straw man.

That photo is of Osama bin Laden. The caption reads: Bin Laden: Not going to be rehabilitated. See, the point of the column is to argue that Democrats and liberals think -- and, implicitly, Barack Obama thinks -- that bin Laden can do a few years in the joint and come out a new man. Um, did you ever think that? Me either. But Peters and the Post want readers to think that's what we think.

The text of the column is worse:


June 24, 2008 -- THE first beneficiary of Barack Obama's promise to expand health-care access could be Osama bin Laden.

The senator would rather see Osama captured, not killed, then put into our federal system for trial.

This is a lie. Obama advocates military action against bin Laden, even across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, a stance which gave right-wingers the vapors a few months ago. With regard to bin Laden and other al-Qaeda members, Obama frequently talks of steps needed to "take them out." That's not expressing a preference for capture.

That means the terror master would get better medical treatment -- for free -- than many Post readers can afford.

Is that really what Americans want? To spend millions of dollars protecting a captive bin Laden and millions more treating his kidney problems?

That's a lot of stupid in a short stretch of words. First of all, Obama's ultimate health-care goal is universal coverage coverage for all Americans. Second, if we do capture bin Laden alive, given the fact that he reportedly has chronic kidney disease, do we not treat this disease? Keep reading -- Peters himself says that would be immoral. But that won't stop Peters from demagoguing the issue -- he's going to attack Obama and any of the rest of us who believe precisely the same thing.

...Recent events should have made it clear -- again -- that captive terrorists are overwhelmingly a liability. The meager intelligence we get interrogating them is rarely commensurate with the array of financial, moral and legal costs involved in keeping them locked up.

Good grief. I wish the right would get its talking points straight -- I thought the whole point of Guantanamo and black sites and waterboarding and so on was that we live in a permanent ticking-bomb moment and every detainee carries secrets that, if revealed, can prevent attacks that are a millionbilliongazillion times worse than 9/11. Now Peters tells us that these guys don't know jack?

...A few weeks ago, a well-planned terrorist assault on a prison in Kandahar, Afghanistan, freed dozens of Taliban midlevel managers and perhaps 200 terrorist foot soldiers.

What benefit had we gained by taking these butchers prisoner instead of killing them on the battlefield? They merely lived to fight another day.

Oh, OK, I've got it -- we simply have to stop this not-killing of all enemy combatants. That's been our problem! Not killing them! Whose idea was that? Whose idea was a less-than-100% kill rate of the enemy? It simply has to stop!

...To be clear: I do not advocate executing prisoners. We should treat any terrorist we capture rigorously, but with basic decency.

...Once a terrorist raises his hands in surrender, we must honor the pertinent conventions.

Wuss. Liberal.

By the way,, the "pertinent convention" says prisoners "shall, if their state of health so requires, receive medical attention and hospital treatment to the same extent as the nationals of the State concerned." If we wouldn't let Charles Manson die of a treatable illness, the same goes for bin Laden.

But it is my belief that our conventional military and special-operations efforts should emphasize killing terrorists on the battlefield or in their lairs -- conditions where it is entirely legal to do so.

Waiting for me to object?

But the left-wing arguments against killing those who do all they can to kill us are simply wrong.

Um, where is it being argued that our troops should refrain from killing terrorists or combatants? Got any links, Ralph?

...And killing terrorists doesn't put us on a "slippery slope."

Oh, yeah, right -- Those guys.

...The greatest left-wing fallacy in the War on Terror is the conviction that protecting the rights of terrorists is more important than protecting the rights of the innocent.

Hunh? More important? Who the hell says this?

...There is nothing heroic or noble about defending a fanatical mass murderer's "rights." The nobility lies in protecting the masses of innocent human beings who obey the law....

Well, OK, there it is: To Ralph Peters, this is an either/or choice. I don't think it's either/or. And I don't know anyone on my side who does, either.

Peters actually doesn't mention Barack Obama in the text of his article -- but it runs under a headline that damns Obama, and I'm sure Peters has no problem with that.

For the record, Obama believes the death penalty is justified in the case of bin Laden and other terrorists. If there are trials, he just wants them not to be conducted in kangaroo courts.

You can read David Brooks's latest column if you like, but here's the gist -- there's really not much more to it than this:

The Bush Paradox

Let's go back and consider how the world looked in the winter of 2006-2007. Iraq was in free fall....

Expert and elite opinion swung behind the Baker-Hamilton report....

In these circumstances, it’s amazing that George Bush decided on the surge. And looking back, one thing is clear: Every personal trait that led Bush to make a hash of the first years of the war led him to make a successful decision when it came to this crucial call [the surge].

... Bush, who made such bad calls early in the war, made a courageous and astute decision in 2006....

Is the surge working better than anything else Bush has tried? Yeah, sure. Is it surprising that Bush stumbled on a course of action that actually didn't make things worse? Not necessarily.

Bush decided on the surge the way he decides on everything -- he wanted (a) something that would piss off people who disagreed with him and (b) someone who would do the hard part for him, i.e., assessing evidence and thinking. For years, he satisfied himself on point (a) by insisting that the original plan (or non-plan) was going swimmingly and that only the liars in the lie-beral media thought we weren't winning; he satisfied point (b), at least in part, by agreeing with Rumsfeld that there were enough troops, because Rumsfeld certainly seemed like a guy who spent all his waking hours assessing evidence and thinking, or at least he made it his life's work to persuade everyone that that was what he did all day.

Then it began dawning on Bush in '06 that his party was in for a thumpin' at the polls. And so Rumsfeld had to go. Now what would piss off Bush's enemies? And who would do Bush's thinking for him?

That's how we got the exaltation of David Petraeus; that's how we got the surge. Bush just so happened to find a screw-you policy advanced by Doctor of Thinkology who wasn't a total fraud. It's as if a guy who actually answers spam e-mails happened to send his Social Security number to someone who really did turn out to be from a legitimate bank that had money for him -- it doesn't validate the principle that this is generally a very, very bad approach.

Steve Benen talks about the Obama-McCain "enthusiasm gap":

...A couple of weeks ago, an NBC/WSJ poll found that most of Obama's supporters are motivated by their support for him. Fewer than 40% of McCain voters could say the same. The Journal's pollster noted, "It is not that these voters aren't for McCain." What’s lacking is "the enthusiasm, the passion, the energy" of the other side.

The problem for the GOP persists.

A new USA Today/Gallup poll has Obama leading McCain among likely voters by six points, 50%-44%.

But the most revealing numbers in the survey were the ones measuring voter enthusiasm: 61% of Democrats said they were more enthusiastic than usual about voting in this year’s election, while just 35% of Republicans said that.

(Stories on the USA Today/Gallup poll are here and here.)

The level of enthusiasm might be important, but I want a different question asked as well, one pollsters never ask: How important do you think that you candidate wins in November?

I think a lot of Republicans, especially the hardcore base, will hold their noses while voting for McCain -- but the harcore types are precisely the ones who are likely to believe that if Obama is elected, all guns will be confiscated, the national anthem will be changed to "The Internationale," and Americans will soon required to pray to Mecca five times a day.

I'd like some sense of how many voters on each side think we absolutely can't afford to elect the other guy. Please, someone, poll that.

Monday, June 23, 2008


I really should ignore this nonsense -- by rising to the bait and helping to spread it, I'm doing just what the GOP wants -- but, well, here's Jake Tapper reporting on Karl Rove's latest attempt to create a meme:

ABC News' Christianne Klein reports that at a breakfast with Republican insiders at the Capitol Hill Club this morning, former White House senior aide Karl Rove referred to Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, as "coolly arrogant."

"Even if you never met him, you know this guy," Rove said, per Christianne Klein. "He's the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by." ...

This isn't just bizarrely offensive, for a reason so obvious even Tapper grasps it:

Interesting that Mr. Rove would use a country club metaphor to describe the first major party African-American presidential candidate, whom I'm sure wouldn't be admitted into many country clubs that members of the Capitol Hill Club frequent.

It directly conflicts, at the reptile-brain level, with the other meme Obama's enemies are trying to spead: that he's a secret Muslim, a scary brown non-Western foreigner, a one-man vanguard army of "them."

Maybe this is why Rove proclaimed a few months ago that Republicans shouldn't stress Obama's middle name. It wasn't that Rove disapproved of trying to make Obama seem distasteful to certain voters -- it was that he didn't want other people's way of making Obama seem distasteful to interfere with his way of making Obama seem distasteful.

Maybe I was right all along -- maybe, in a way, the Republicans really did nominate Rudy Giuliani:

Fortune magazine has parallel interviews about the economy with John McCain and Barack Obama in the current issue, and the PR email they sent me highlights their answers to this question:

What do you see as the gravest long-term threat to the U.S. economy?

...McCain: Well, I would think that the absolute gravest threat is the struggle that we're in against Islamic extremism, which can affect, if they prevail, our very existence. Another successful attack on the United States of America could have devastating consequences.

It's as if McCain is trying to become a parody of himself here. Is his answer to
every question "Islamic extremism"? ...

A noun and verb, and 9/11? Yes, indeed.


The exasperated reaction above comes from Kevin Drum. He goes on to say:

And while Fortune's readership undoubtedly skews conservative, does McCain really think they're going to buy this?

I don't know, but the Fortune editor who wrote up the interview seems to buy it. The emphasis below is mine:

...[McCain] starts by deftly turning the economy into a national security issue -- and why not? On national security McCain wins. We saw how that might play out early in the campaign, when one good scare, one timely reminder of the chaos lurking in the world, probably saved McCain in New Hampshire, a state he had to win to save his candidacy - this according to McCain's chief strategist, Charlie Black. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December was an "unfortunate event," says Black. "But his knowledge and ability to talk about it reemphasized that this is the guy who's ready to be Commander-in-Chief. And it helped us." As would, Black concedes with startling candor after we raise the issue, another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. "Certainly it would be a big advantage to him," says Black.

And before economics is actually discussed, the Fortune piece gives us a couple of blasts of utterly gratuitous testosterone, for which I'm sure the McCain camp is quite grateful:

...We didn't have to spend a lot of time with McCain on the campaign trail to discover what really gets his mojo working. Let's just say it's not his plan to reform the unemployment-insurance system. There he was at an airport rally in Stockton, Calif., shouting out to his loyal pals in the Rolling Thunder veterans group who had parked their Harleys behind the stage: "Go ahead and start your engines for a second! Go right ahead!" And earlier that week in Chicago, addressing the other NRA -- the National Restaurant Association -- departing from his prepared remarks to accuse Obama of making light of the threat posed by Iran's leadership. "They are the chief sponsors of Shiah extremists in Iraq," he decried, his voice rising, "and their President has called Israel" -- and here he paused for one beat -- "a stinking corpse!"

On such occasions McCain conveys passion, commitment to a cause, a sure sense of who he is and why he's running for President, and above all a strong connection to his audience....

After that, who cares about the damn recession? Let's chest-bump! Whoo - whoo - whoo!

No, really, just testing.


Oh, it's delightful watching shameless chickenhawk William Kristol attack the new MoveOn ad from two contradictory directions at once, and then try to brazen out the sheer illogic of his position:

You know the ad. You can watch it here, through Kristol quotes the complete text:

...The ad is simple. A mother speaks as she holds her baby boy:

"Hi, John McCain. This is Alex. And he's my first. So far his talents include trying any new food and chasing after our dog. That, and making my heart pound every time I look at him. And so, John McCain, when you say you would stay in Iraq for 100 years, were you counting on Alex? Because if you were, you can't have him." ...

Then he says this:

... it is surely relevant to point out that the United States has an all-volunteer Army. Alex won't be drafted, and his mommy can't enlist him. He can decide when he's an adult whether he wants to serve. And, of course, McCain supports the volunteer army....

But a few paragraphs later, he says this:

...So, why, I wondered after first seeing the MoveOn ad, did I find it so ... creepy?

I was having trouble putting my fin[g]er on just why until I came across a post by a mother of a soldier recently deployed in Iraq, at the Web site

Here's what the mother of an actual soldier has to say about the remarks of the mother of the prospective non-soldier in the ad:

"Does that mean that she wants other people's sons to keep the wolves at bay so that her son can live a life of complete narcissism? What is it she thinks happens in the world? ... Someone has to stand between our society and danger. If not my son, then who? If not little Alex then someone else will have to stand and deliver. Someone's son, somewhere."

This is the sober truth. Unless we enter a world without enemies and without war, we will need young men and women willing to risk their lives for our nation. And we're not entering any such world....

So which is it, Billy Boy? Is it every free American's inalienable right to serve or not serve, or are you a selfish little narcissistic liberal latte-swilling hippie if you don't serve?

How does Billy Boy resolve this contradiction? By pretending to concede the virtues of free choice -- and then throwing a wild, utterly unsubstantiated McCarthyite charge at exercisers of that choice:

We do, however, live in a free country with a volunteer army. In the United States, individuals can choose to serve in the military or not. The choice not to serve should carry no taint, nor should it be viewed with the least prejudice. If Alex chooses to pursue other opportunities, he won't be criticized by John McCain or anyone else.

But that's not at all the message of the MoveOn ad.

The MoveOn ad is unapologetic in its selfishness, and barely disguised in its disdain for those who have chosen to serve -- and its contempt for those parents who might be proud of sons and daughters who are serving. The ad boldly embraces a vision of a selfish and infantilized America, suggesting that military service and sacrifice are unnecessary and deplorable relics of the past.

And the sole responsibility of others.

Where the hell does it suggest that? Where the hell does it in any way impugn those who make the choice to fight, in Iraq or anywhere else?

But Kristol knows it doesn't, just as he knows that saying you don't want your son to participate in one futile, pointless war doesn't mean you're categorically opposed to patriotic sacrifice (and just as he knows he has some nerve to question the patriotism of those who exercise the choice not to volunteer in wartime when he, of course, dodged a wartime draft). He can't reconcile his contradictory points, so he just wildly libels those who exercise the choice he's just told you "should carry no taint, nor should it be viewed with the least prejudice," and he hopes you won't notice. What a contemptible human being he is.

Hey, did you bid?

It's anyone's guess how high the bidding will go this year when the chance to have lunch with investor Warren Buffett is put up for sale.

The online bidding begins at $25,000 on Sunday evening. A year ago, two investors paid $650,100 for the chance to have lunch with the chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

The auction benefits the Glide Foundation, which provides social services to the poor and homeless in San Francisco....

The 2006 lunch went for $620,100. That's one lunch. This man -- who's a Democrat -- is worshipped as a god.

Every other prominent Democrat in America can be turned into a pathetic, ineffectual, effete, hermaphroditic laughingstock in the public's eyes, given the right combination of circumstances and deployment of the usual character-assassination talking points. Not Buffett. He's staggeringly rich, and he's said to be ordinary and commonsensical. Therefore, he's a real man.

Clearly he's never had an interest in doing it, and I'm not saying I'd want him to, but if Buffett would run for president -- or, say, vice president with Barack Obama, whom he very much admires (he likes Hillary Clinton, too), I believe Democrats would be guaranteed victory. We'd certainly get some relief from the usual attacks on Democrats.

Obama gets grief for being a "messiah," yet no one thinks it's unseemly that Buffett is called "the Oracle of Omaha." He's incredibly rich but not creepily exotic like George Soros or those Hollywood richies. So he's exalted.

Just run the SOB four years from now if Obama doesn't win -- I don't care how old he is. He'll win.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Atrios wrote this yesterday:

As I've written before, Democrats will regret embracing the expansion of executive power because a President Obama will find his administration undone by an "abuse of power" scandal. All of those powers which were necessary to prevent the instant destruction of the country will instantly become impeachable offenses. If you can't imagine how such a pivot can take place then you haven't been paying attention.

Well, yes and no. Yes, it's quite easy to imagine that Republicans would accuse President Obama of abuse of power for doing pretty much what Bush has done as Republicans cheered -- or for not doing nearly as much in the realm of executive power. But they'll do that to Obama whether or not he and other Democrats fight on FISA. There's no connection whatsoever -- they'll do it no matter what. In any event, Democrats aren't "embracing the expansion of executive power" so much as backing away from a fight. But their attitude toward executive power is irrelevant to what will happen to Obama or whoever the next Democratic president is. The next Democratic president will be accused of abuse of power -- and, probably, of failure to abuse power (e.g., failure to torture evildoers) simultaneously. What Dems do or fail to do right now will have no impact on this.

Clark Hoyt, the public editor of The New York Times, examines charges that his paper was sexist in its coverage of Hillary Clinton during the Democratic nomination contest. He concludes that the paper didn't do a bad job -- except every few days when Maureen Dowd's embarrassment of a column appeared:

...I think a fair reading suggests that The Times did a reasonably good job in its news articles. But Dowd's columns about Clinton's campaign were so loaded with language painting her as a 50-foot woman with a suffocating embrace, a conniving film noir dame and a victim dependent on her husband that they could easily have been listed in that Times article on sexism, right along with the comments of Chris Matthews, Mike Barnicle, Tucker Carlson or, for that matter, Kristol, who made the Hall of Shame for a comment on Fox News, not for his Times work....

Over the course of the campaign, I received complaints that Times coverage of Clinton included too much emphasis on her appearance, too many stereotypical words that appeared to put her down and dismiss a woman's potential for leadership and too many snide references to her as cold or unlikable. When I pressed for details, the subject often boiled down to Dowd....

Dowd is shocked, shocked. And miffed -- this kind of criticism is unprecedented, she says!

..."I've been twisting gender stereotypes around for 24 years," Dowd responded. She said nobody had objected to her use of similar images about men over seven presidential campaigns...

And she's right -- nobody has ever criticized her gender stereotyping of men.

Oh, except Bob Somerby:

...Let's start, once again, with her sick, endless need to "feminize" Barack Obama.

Not that there's anything new about this. It has now been almost nine years since Dowd told the world that "Al Gore is so feminized...he's practically lactating." (That was June 16, 1999 -- the day of Gore's formal announcement.) It has been almost five years since she helped dub John Edwards "the Breck Girl." (June 8, 2003. After that, she called him "the Breck Girl" in five other columns.) It has been almost a year since she wrote a column headlined, "Obama, Legally Blonde?" (February 14, 2007. One week later, he was "Scarlett O'Hara.") And of course, she has kicked the stuffing out of endless Dem wives, for the nastiest, stupidest reasons you could conjure. In Dowd's world, Major Dem Men are constantly girls -- and Major Dem Women are most often men....

And Atrios:

Dear Maureen [Dowd] and Camille [Paglia]

Okay, we get it. Democrats are all women except female Democrats who are men. You can stop writing now.

And Media Matters and Columbia Journalism Review and Mother Jones and Molly Ivors and Taylor Marsh and me two days ago and you, probably, and lots and lots of other people.

But it's all news to Maureen Dowd, who's apparently as much the "Bubble Girl" as the oblivious George W. Bush is "Bubble Boy." Yes, she insists this is the first she's heard of such criticism. And it's not fair!

..."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." ...

I don't know about Hoyt, but Atrios (see above) nails it, and the rest of us are asking you to add at least a second joke to your one-joke act.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


... I understand why he's caving on FISA, which is that he doesn't see it the way Greg Sargent at Talking Points Memo sees it:

... he's seemed absolutely dead serious about changing the way foreign policy is discussed and argued about in this country.

Time and again, in his debates with Hillary, and now with John McCain, his whole debate posture on national security issues was centered on the idea that he could challenge and change what it means to talk "tough."

...if there were ever anything that would have tested his operating premise throughout this campaign -- that you can win arguments with Republicans about national security -- it was this legislation....

Well, he's picking his battles, and he clearly thinks this wasn't one on which he wanted to test this operating premise. I don't know if this mean he'll cave every time the rubber meets the road or if it just means that he'll be infuriatingly timid 20% of the time or 50% of the time when we want him to stick his neck or whatever -- but he thinks this is not a hill to die on, and that's bad news, but there it is.

Greg says this:

...His candidacy has long seemed to embody a conviction that Democrats can win arguments with Republicans about national security -- that if Dems stick to a set of core principles, and forcefully argue for them without blinking, they can and will persuade people that, simply put, they are right and Republicans are wrong....

Well, yes and no. As I see it, the conviction his candidacy embodies is that he can make a certain number of arguments that conventional wisdom tells us are deemed "soft" and, defying the CW, defend those assertions forcefully and defiantly. But he clearly thinks there's a limit to what you can defend all at once in bucking the CW. Give him credit for having stuck his neck out quite a bit -- on talking to demonized world leaders, on habeas for detainees, and, hell, even on withdrawing from Iraq, which right-wing concern trolls have recently been telling us is a position he's going to have to walk back from after he visits Iraq and sees the awesome success of our awesome surge.

He's taking risks. He thinks he can't afford to take this one. It's maddening, but I can't tell you that, politically, he's wrong. And still, on balance, he's working hard to change "acceptable" opinion on foreign policy, even if this is a profound letdown.

Friday, June 20, 2008


You paid Representative Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan to spew this twaddle ("Speaking Democrat: A Primer") on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives:

"'Government' means 'socialism'"? Dude -- you work for the freaking government. Don't like government? Private sector's that way. Leave your resume at the desk -- we'll call you.

And yes, it's all like that. Imagine a medium-market Limbaugh wannabe after ritual zombification, with all the animal magnetism of Eliot Spitzer putting on his sock garters, and you've basically got it.


Fun facts about Congressman McCotter:

In December 2005, McCotter joined with several other Congressmen to form the Second Amendments, a bipartisan rock and country band set to play for United States troops stationed overseas over the Holiday season. He plays lead guitar. In June of 2006, the band played for President Bush's Picnic on the White House lawn, where Bush was quoted calling McCotter "That rock and roll dude" ....

Rock and roll animal.

McCotter is regular guest on the Dennis Miller Radio Show, where the host refers to him as "young Thad" and frequently comments that he "likes the cut of his jib."

Than which there is no higher praise.

And Thad has a prose style that's uniquely his own:

...No starker episode exhibits our anile need for a moral hospice before we slither into the dust bin of history than the one playing out before Americans' astonished eyes. Legacy building with the urgency of a dying Pharaoh staring at an unfinished Sphinx, George Walker Bush is bent upon being the first U.S. President to attend a foreign nation's Olympics. The nation in question is communist China, the shock troops of which are presently bludgeoning Tibetan Monks as if they were orange bathrobed baby seals. (One shudders at the prospect this Tibetan repression is the Chi-coms' sedulous sally into Olympic demonstration sports.)

Notwithstanding the Global Generation's remaining misanthropes' unsophisticated quibbling (i.e., me and mine), our Compassionate Conservative-in-Chief has eagerly RSVP'ed to the communist dictatorship's dramatic recreation of the Berlin Olympics. Given "The Decider's" resolve, hope dims we might disabuse his whimsy that watching a wobbling discus with the wanton butchers of Tiananmen Square can advance the sacred cause of human freedom....

Wow. Just wow. (And yes, he does still call them "Chi-coms.")

We know what Maureen Dowd was planning to put in every column she writes between now and November: Barry Obambi is a big girl, a fastidious priss who's easily dominated by she-men like Hillary Clinton and his own wife, arugula arugula arugula. Yeah, Dowd's shtick is tired, but her columns still show up regularly at or near the top of the "most e-mailed" list at the New York Times site.

Well, today David Brooks decided to try to out-Dowd Dowd, and right now it's his column that's the Times's most e-mailed, as well as the object of a hell of a lot more blog attention than his usual snooze-inducing sociological maunderings. What he's written today is a depiction of Obama as (in my words, not Brooks's) the anti-Obambi:

...Barack Obama is the most split-personality politician in the country today. On the one hand, there is Dr. Barack, the high-minded, Niebuhr-quoting speechifier who spent this past winter thrilling the Scarlett Johansson set and feeling the fierce urgency of now. But then on the other side, there's Fast Eddie Obama, the promise-breaking, tough-minded Chicago pol who'd throw you under the truck for votes.

This guy is the whole Chicago package: an idealistic, lakefront liberal fronting a sharp-elbowed machine operator....

There's not much to support charges of Machiavellianism (he ditched Jeremiah Wright after saying he wouldn't! he ditched public financing after saying he wouldn't!), but I don't care. If this Obama-as-badass notion seeps into supposedly serious political coverage (as Dowd's caricatures seem to do), it can really help neutralize the Obambi narrative, which is just the kind of thing that hobbles Democratic presidential candidates. Hell, Dowd herself might even decide that the senator is a biological male and his wife is a woman. (OK, I'm dreaming here.) Maybe that wouldn't be hugely significant, but if Brooks actually did generate a meme here, I think it's a good one for our side.

Damn that Hillary Clinton. If she'd just dropped out when the delegate math became inevitable, fearmongering like this could have begun months ago:

EXCLUSIVE: Hezbollah Poised to Strike?
Officials Say "Sleeper Cells" Activated in Canada

Intelligence agencies in the United States and Canada are warning of mounting signs that Hezbollah, backed by Iran, is poised to mount a terror attack against "Jewish targets" somewhere outside the Middle East.

Intelligence officials tell ABC News the group has activated suspected "sleeper cells" in Canada and key operatives have been tracked moving outside the group's Lebanon base to Canada, Europe and Africa.

Officials say Hezbollah is seeking revenge for the February assassination of Hezbollah's military commander, Imad Mugniyah, killed by a car bomb in Damascus, Syria....

This guy was killed in February. The Democrats were supposed to have their nominee picked by March 5. This Canada story was all ready to go. Why the hell couldn't Hill have dropped out then?

Oh, and we can finally get this up and running, too:

Israel carried out a major military exercise earlier this month that American officials say appeared to be a rehearsal for a potential bombing attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

...One Israeli goal, the Pentagon official said, was to practice flight tactics, aerial refueling and all other details of a possible strike against Iran's nuclear installations and its long-range conventional missiles.

A second, the official said, was to send a clear message to the United States and other countries that Israel was prepared to act militarily if diplomatic efforts to stop Iran from producing bomb-grade uranium continued to falter....

Change? We've got your change, Barack -- right here!

Thursday, June 19, 2008


If Barack Obama is elected president, the Larry Sinclair non-saga is never going to go away; it's going to lurk forever, like a herpes infection. It's going to be the ur-text, the basis of any narrative of Obama's unspeakable evil.

Joseph, the proprietor of Cannonfire -- who, I gather, regards it as a lefty blog, though it's basically All Obama Evil, All the Time -- took Sinclair's press conference very seriously:

So far, most bloggers have refused to acknowledge the fact that Sinclair did something rather extraordinary at his press conference: He named a confirmatory witness.

On November 6, 1999, I asked the limo driver -- whose name I now reveal for the first time -- Paramjit Multani, if he knew anyone who would like to socialize and show me Chicago.

Now, remember what allegedly happened that night, nearly nine years ago: Sinclair and Obama did cocaine and had sex. What do you remember about special nights like that? Larry remembers the name of his limo driver. Oh, those special memories....

Over at Cannonfire, Joseph says:

Do I now take Sinclair's charges seriously? No.

...Even so, I may have been premature to dismiss the man as
just a nutcase.

And hey, what do you do in response to someone whose words you consider the rantings of a nutcase? If you're Joseph, you obsess over them:

...I've found out a bit more about Paramjit Multani, the driver who allegedly hooked Sinclair up with Barack Obama.

...There is a taxi cab driver in Maryland by that name (this is the fellow I tried to reach), but he appears to be the wrong person.

Another Paramjit Multani was caught up in a particularly messy deportation proceeding, which lasted from 2000 to 2006. (He was accused of participating in a sham marriage.) The documentation created by that complex affair (see here) indicates that this Multani may indeed have been in Chicago in 1999. This Multani was sent back to India in 2006 (if I understand the document correctly).

At the press conference, Sinclair disclosed a document which showed that one Rashpal Multani owned the limo service in question. A pdf of this document is here. During the Q-and-A session, Sinclair indicated that the Multani he met moved to Tupelo, Missippi, not long ago. If so, then the fellow deported to India was a different man....

So the Chicago Paramjit Multani is not the Maryland Paramajit Multani is not the Tupelo Paramjit Multani ... or maybe two of them are the same, but neither of them, according to Larry, is Larry's driver ... or something like that.

Hey Joseph, good thing you don't find this guy credible, because I hate to think of how many dead ends you'd be following if you did think he was credible. (Ironically, ads at Cannonfire indicate that Joseph is, to his credit, very much an anti-"truther" when it comes to 9/11 conspiracy theories.)

Meanwhile, this nutjob thinks Sinclair might have been arrested on orders of George Soros, while a few Freepers really are turning Obama into the second coming of (their version of) Bill Clinton:


Larry Sinclair's expectancy can be measured in mere months.


He may commit Obamacide in jail.


At least he'll be able to compare notes with James MacDougal on the other side...

Me, I'm just alternately amused and horrified by the freak show.

By now, we thought the Republicans were going to be declaring that America had been stabbed in the back by liberals on Iraq, but Republicans aren't saying that (because they think the war is going swimmingly). But this New York Times editorial about offshore drilling reminds us that stab-in-the-back language is transferrable to domestic politics:

...A ... fiction, perpetrated by the oil companies and, to some extent, by misleading government figures, is that huge deposits of oil and gas on federal land have been closed off and industry has had one hand tied behind its back by environmentalists, Democrats and the offshore protections in place for 25 years.

The numbers suggest otherwise. Of the 36 billion barrels of oil believed to lie on federal land, mainly in the Rocky Mountain West and Alaska, almost two-thirds are accessible or will be after various land-use and environmental reviews. And of the 89 billion barrels of recoverable oil believed to lie offshore, the federal Mineral Management Service says fourth-fifths is open to industry, mostly in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaskan waters.

Clearly, the oil companies are not starved for resources. Further, they do not seem to be doing nearly as much as they could with the land to which they’ve already laid claim. Separate studies by the House Committee on Natural Resources and the Wilderness Society, a conservation group, show that roughly three-quarters of the 90 million-plus acres of federal land being leased by the oil companies onshore and off are not being used to produce energy. That is 68 million acres altogether, among them potentially highly productive leases in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska....

I appreciate the use of the phrase "one hand tied behind its back," given how frequently it's used by proponents of the stab-in-the-back theory of Vietnam.

But a right-wing idea doesn't have to be correct to be potent, especially in an election year. People such as Gail Collins may think that the public will see right through Republicans' calls for lifting restrictions on offshore drilling, but I can't help thinking about the people who said in 1988, "Oh, Bush won't get away with that Pledge of Allegiance stuff against Dukakis -- what the Duke is saying comes right from the state constitution!" If Barack Obama and congressional Democrats are going to stand firm in favor of current restrictions, I think they're going to have to do some careful pushback, explaining why in terms Joe Lunchpail can understand. Gas prices, especially if they hit $5 a gallon, really might be a bigger election-year issue than Iraq, and Democrats shouldn't underestimate the power of a pander.