Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hitchens comes through on torture.

I really, really dislike Christopher Hitchens most of the time, but in a recent "Hardball" debate on torture with right-wing talk show host Michael Smerconish Hitchens makes a very astute and salient point on the debate over torture:

Christ Matthews: Are you against the ticking bomb torture, where somebody has something to stop a Holocaust type situation of thousands getting killed. Would you torture that person?

Christopher Hitchens: The more seductive the excuse the more I'm opposed to it. The more tempting the alibi the more I think it needs to be examined. Because what people are asking for is one excuse to allow for a general imposition of a policy that would be illegal under any law... [gets cut off].

Watch it here:

Hitchens is right on the ball here. This is why I, personally, lost all respect for Alan Dershowitz when he came up with his idea for torture warrants shortly after the attacks of 9/11. Not only do I believe that torture is immoral under any real circumstances and should remain illegal under any and all laws and treaties, but it is very clear that the people arguing for torture under limited circumstances are doing so only because that's the best they think they could possibly get. And those who argue for limited "enhanced interrogation" techniques do so only because they realize most Americans would regard them as madmen if they argued for beatings, pulled fingernails, burns, acid, and even the kidnapping, torture and execution of family members as inducements to talk. Most policy makers are not as bold and brazen in expressing their contempt for the human rights of foreigners as Smerconsich. Smerconsisch broadcasts to an audience of mouth breathing right-wing fascists, but the elected officials who feel as he does depend upont the votes of a much wider audience and so must couch their language and guard their rhetoric. But rest assured: there are many elected officials who would galdy torture anyone who truly posed a threat to their power. Only public opinion and our laws prevent them from doing so.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Murder by proxy

The prime suspects in the murder of an Ecuadorean immigrant in Brooklyn this weekend are Lou Dobbs and Dr. James Dobson:

José and his brother Romel appear to have been misidentified as gay as they walked home, arms around each other, on a predawn morning in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. Romel managed to escape the three men who emerged from a passing car wielding a baseball bat and shouting anti-gay and anti-Latino epithets.

The never-ending lies of the neocons

The Huffington Post brings us this video of a segment on Chris Matthews' "Hardball" TV show in which Matthews revisits the rationale for the war in the context of a recent interview of Dick Cheney in which the V.P. declares that the Iraq invasion would have taken place even if we'd known the true state of Saddam Huseein's non-existent WMD programs. Matthews interviews author David Korn and prminent neo-conservative Frank Gaffney. In the segment, Gaffney makes the claim that thousands of American lives were likely saved by the invasion because we averted a plot by Saddam Hussein to ship perfume bottles filled with Sarin gas to Europe and the United States:

This perfume bottle terrorist conspiracy is a claim I had never heard before, and you'll notice that neither Matthews nor Korn addresses it directly. My suspicion is that they'd likely never heard this claim before, either and weren't prepared to address it. So I did a little web surfing to see if I could figure out what facts this claim is based on. And wouldn't you know it: the reason no one but Gaffney is touting the danger of this suppposed pre-invasion plot is that its existence is very, very dubious (at best). Indeed this supposed plot was brought to light by a single Iraqi ex-intelligence officer who provided, as proof, nothing more than a box of tear-gas greandes and a pair of grenade launchers. There is nothing else anywhere to back up this man's claims. The Website a tiny revolution examined Gaffney's dubious claims some time back:

....It's clear from the labs annex that this is the basis for Gaffney's claim that Saddam planned to "place the products of those lines into aerosol cans and perfume sprayers for shipment to the United States and Europe." But look carefully at what the labs annex says about this:
Future Plans To Produce CW Agent

ISG is unable to corroborate the sensitive reporting that the IIS was planning to produce nitrogen mustard, sulfur mustard, and Sarin, but assesses that if plans to produce chemical agent within the IIS existed, the M16 chemical preparation division would have been the group tasked with carrying them out.

A former Iraqi intelligence officer reported that the M16 chemical preparation division planned to produce and weaponize nitrogen mustard using CS rifle grenades. The source provided ISG with two grenade launchers and cases of CS grenades he claimed M16 officers were supposed to modify.

The same source later reported that the IIS had a plan to produce Sarin and sulfur mustard, which the IIS planned to distribute to the US and Europe. The source claimed that the director of M16, Nu'man Muhammad al-Tikriti, gave him a perfume-bottling machine that was to be used to help carry out this plan.

Both of these plans are extremely difficult to corroborate...

In other words, one unnamed Iraqi claimed that Iraq was going to do this at some point in the indefinite future. And the ISG didn't corroborate it.

Gaffney, then, continues with the same neo-con pattern of deception that dragged us into war based on very spotty, very poorly sourced and very dubious, sometimes verifiably false intelligence presented to the American people as indubitable, documented fact. Never mind that the idea of Hussein poisoning thousands of Americans and Europeans through perfume bottles filled with chemical weapons is preposterous on its face. Saddam's principal concern was his regime's and his own survival. Such a move would have been tantamount to a death wish which he did not possess.

For my part, I finally decided conclusively that the Bush Administration had nothing of any substance on Hussein and was actively lying to the American people about his capabilities when Bush Administration officials started promoting the preposterous theory that Saddam Hussein might attack the U.S. by rowing a boat to our shores and sending out little remote controlled aircraft filled with chemical weapons to spray our cities. It was just the sort of absurd scenario that you'd expect from a lame action movie franchise that's run completely out of plausible ideas and has resorted to absurd, jump-the-shark plot devices to squeeze a little more cash from the formula before it's put to rest for good. Gaffney's perfume bottle theory is much the same sort of fictional "threat" that's just laughable on its face.

The real enemy of the neo-cons, then? It was and remains truth.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Kid's got an arm on him!

And here's the now infamous video of the Iraqi journalist who decided that Bush's last visit to Iraq was also his last chance to try out for a pitching gig with the Texas Rangers:

I'll give it to him: he's got nice aim.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Teh gayz...

And if the negroes brought us the housing collapse, then surely the gays are responsible for the Automaker's woes, right? Blogger Ed Brayton brings us news that Michigan conservatives have a plan to save the auto industry by eliminating benefits for same-sex couples.

Indeed, an analysis by the best conservative minds in the industry reveals that eliminating such benefits would save GM $125,000,000 dollars! Except it won't:

After noting that the UAW has 460,000 members, [apackof2] writes:

I could not find much on the cost of providing these benefits however

A 2005 Hewitt Associates study revealed that a majority of employers experience a total benefits cost increase of less than 1 percent.

Several studies have shown that enrollment rates tend to be in the 1 percent to 2 percent range.

For Example:

2% of 446,000 is over 93,000

93,000 @ $395 for health care for active workers and $950 for retirees. Equals for active workers $36,735.000.00 and for retirees $88,350.000.00

Total $125,085.000.00

Eliminating same sex couple partner benefits is an over 25 million savings to GM.

So if we are going to talk about eliminating benefits for actual employees...

Actually, 2% of 460,000 is 8920. But why let a little simple math that the blogger, presumably, learned in the 4th grade stand in the way of a perfectly good ignorant rant?

Looks like we've found ourselves another victim of the home schooling movement.

(Hat tip: Patrick Appel, subbing for Andrew Sullivan)

I hate Joe Scarborough

I don't know why I do it to myself, but for some reason I have this habit of watching MSNBC's "Morning Joe" during breakfast. Probably just habit from when Don Imus was on. Imus, at least, could be entertaining at times, when he wasn't non-challantly tossing racial pejoratives around. Scarborough, on the other hand, is little more than a GOP hack with a penchant for naked dishonesty.

This morning, for instance, Scarborough took Paul Krugman to task for believing that the current economic crisis is an indictment of capitalism. Problem is, Paul Krugman has never claimed that the current crisis is an indictment of Capitalism, nor did Scarbourgh provide any citation or reference any writings in which Krugman is supposed to have levelled such a charge. Indeed, Scarbrourgh's claim is absurd on the face of it, considering that Krugman is Nobel prizewinning theorist of capitalism whose work has contributed tremendously to his fellow economists' understanding of the mechanisms by which international capitalist markets operate. But never mind all that. Krugman is a Democrat and an academic, and so he simply must be a Marxist.

When that glowing bit of dishonestly was done, Scarborough went on to blame the current economic crisis on regulations that forced banks to make mortgage loans to people who could not afford them. This is fast becoming the favorite Right-wing canard meant to absolve both the Bush administration, greedy lenders and unwise de-regulation for their just responsibility for creating this mess and it doesn't take a PhD to understand why: it allows them to blame liberals and blacks for the mortgage crisis. But it's also a piece of dishonesty so craven and so absurd you wonder why they even bother with it. Might as well blame Haitian Vooodoo priests for the crisis. After all, the Community Reinvestment Act to which Republicans like Scarborough are alluding was a piece of legislation passed during the Carter administration 30 years ago. The bad mortgages that caused the collapse of the housing sector were mostly written in the past eight years, many of them in the past five and at least half of them were made by entities that were not subject to the Community Reinvestment Act in the first place.

The mortgage crisis was a bubble, fueled by the absurd boosterism of people like Allan Greenspan, who should have known better, and by speculators who derived huge profits from exploiting unsustainable market conditions, the true nature of which had been obscured by the securitization of all that problem debt and the criminal negligence of co-conspirator bond rating agencies that seem to have granted AAA status to said securities by tossing chicken bones up in the air and seeing how they arranged themselves when they fell. There's nothing in the CRA that demanded the Fed Chairman extol the virtues of variable rate, reverse amortization, pick and pay, balooon rate mortgages. There's nothing in the CRA that demanded investment firms turn those mortgages into investment vehicles. There's nothing in the CRA that demanded mortgage lending agencies offer loans to un-creditworthy buyers that featured low teaser rates, which in some cases actually added to the principal, and which inevitably adjusted to unsustainable levels some five years down the line.

What the CRA does, however, is offer a convenient scapegoat to Republican politicians who have never given up on the "Southern" strategy of race-baiting and the stoking of white resentment that has served them so well in the past. Blame the negroes and the bleeding heart Yankees who love them. Hey, it's worked so far.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Is The GOP Now A Suicide Cult?

As Republican legislators make a final push to deny the U.S. auto industry a loan package that the industry claims as essential to its survival, you've got to wonder: has the GOP thought this one through? Are they aware that they may be setting themselves up to be known from here on out as the party that killed GM and by extension Cadillac, Chevrolet and such an iconic symbol of America as the Corvette? Because General Motors will surely be the first to fall. And if the interconnectedness of the U.S. auto industry and parts manufacturers is as extensive and symbiotic a relationship as we've been led to believe, and the failure of GM also brings down Ford, are the Republicans prepared to accept the taint that comes with being known as the reason you can't buy a new Mustang any more? When NASCAR features vehicles wearing Toyota, Honda and Nissan badges spinning around an oval track surrounded by mostly empty seats, does the GOP really want to be known as the party that brought us to that point?

There has been a great deal of talk about the GOP's social conservatism turning it into a purely Southern political party, one that caters to the Bible belt (think: real America) at the expense of the rest of the nation, and in so doing sacrifices the Presidency and any hope governing the nation as a whole. But if the GOP manages to kill the U.S. auto sector (which is mostly established in the North) and in so doing benefits foreign manufacturers that have largely set up shop in the business friendly right-to-work states of the South, Northern skeptics will also see an economic regionalism at play and further cement the idea that the GOP has completely disowned Lincoln and become the party of Jefferson Davis.

The GOP has always done a very effective job of presenting itself as the more-patriotic-than-thou guardian of the nation's greatness and unique character. Are they really prepared to take credit for turning the U.S.A. into little more than a maquiladora for Japanese corporate giants?

The GOP is playing with fire, here. I'm not sure if the party realizes just how badly it can burn itself as a result.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

And Vitter knows ass.

Just as you don't argue for your innocence by comparing yourself to Richard Nixon, you don't stand before the Senate blabbering the word "ass" if you're an admitted client to New Orleans prostitutes.

Corruption in Illinois

So what's the best way to argue for your own innocence when you're the subject of a Federal corruption probe and allegations that you tried to sell a U.S. Senate appointment to the highest bidder? Well, if you're Rod Blagojevich the answer is simple: try to win over the public's sympathies by comparing yourself to poor old Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal:

We've all known that crooks are stupid, but up till now I'd at least have assumed a crooked politician had to be a little less stupid than this.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

This Day in History

December 7, 1941: The nation of Japan launches a preemptive war of choice against the United States of America. Turned out to be a bad idea.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Dept. of worse than you thought

Now a message from the Department of it's Worse Than You Thought:

1 in 10 American mortgages are in trouble. That's a truly frightening statistic.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Almost sorry (but not quite)

Even though I despise almost all of what the Republicans in government have stood for over the past few decades, George W. Bush's recent interview with ABC's Charlie Gibson almost makes me feel sorry for them. That's because the interview reveals the same cocksure imbecile who is congenitally incapable of self-doubt, self-reflection or introspection, who refuses to admit any mistakes or take responsibility for any of his administration's failings. When asked by Gibson to explain the results of the presidential election, Bush first chalks Obama's victory up to the American people's reticence to see a single party in power for three consecutive terms (nevermind that his father presided over just such an administration) and then, when asked whether the election was a repudiation of his presidency, Bush once again lays the blame at the doorsteps of others, insisting that the election was a repudiation, not of him, personally, but of Republicans generally. You can watch the video here. The relevant exchange occurs around the 2:00 minute mark.

Were I a Republican this statement would have me pulling my hair out and screaming at the television. That's because there can be little doubt that on one very important level Bush is the ultimate cause of the electoral disaster that has befallen his party. He is, after all, the captain of the ship. And handed a $200 billion surplus on January 20, 2001, he managed to turn it into an accumulated $6 trillion of added debt by 2008. Handed the sympathy and solidarity of the whole civilized world on September 11, 2001 Bush managed to turn these sentiments into cries of revulsion within a few short years with his administration's embrace of pre-emptive war, torture, secret prisons and extra-judicial detention and punishment. He continually boasted that his administration had taken the steps necessary to prevent a terrorist catastrophe on our home soil, and then proved it was all bluster when an incompetent federal bureaucracy and emaciated National Guard took days to get their act together and start helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Had that been a nuclear device that savaged New Orleans rather than a hurricane, would the Administration's response have been any less incompetent? It's hard to make the case. And finally, an administration that insisted from day one that the recipe for robust economic growth was a simple as slashing taxes and gutting regulation and letting the markets work their magic, is leaving our nation more indebted than at any time in our history and the world on the brink of a global depression.

But I'm not a Republican. I don't have any skin in that particular blame game. So I can stand back and see that as angry as the GOP partisans are about Bush's blame-the-GOP attitude (and boy are they angry), they themselves must take their share of responsibility for the disaster of the past 8 years. I mean, it's not like there was a surplus of Republicans who opposed the Bush tax cuts that helped mire the nation in debt (and which proved once again, for the 100th time that Arthur Laffer and David Stockman's silly economic theories were a recipe for ballooning deficits and crushing debt, and not the revenue windfall they promised). It's not like the GOP showed a modicum of spending restraint as they lavished taxpayer money on hundred million dollar bridges to nowhere and other such lavish pork barrel projects. Yes, Bush never vetoed a GOP crafted budget, choosing instead to wield the presidential nuclear option to nobly strike down a congressional attempt to promote more stem-cell research. Mollifying Ted Haggard's minions was far more important a venture than putting the nation's financial house in order. But GOP criticisms of this fact reek too much of "stop us before we spend again" hypocrisy.

No, the GOP stood proudly by their man to the last, finally abandoning Bush at the 11th hour, when the rank and file voters came to the conclusion that the only hope they stood of retaining the White house was by repudiating the past 8 years and choosing as presidential nominee the one gadfly on the right who had on occasion criticized his president and his party: John McCain.

But it was far too little, far too late. And so as Republicans ramp up their poisonous rhetoric and start villifying the man who has occupied the White house over the past 8 years for his incompetence and hypocrisy, they would do well to look in the mirror. For the splinter that they have noticed in Bush's eye is very much eclipsed by the log that has fallen into their own. Bush could never have done as much damage to the nation as he did without the scaremongering, the hateful hypocrisy and the overt complicity of the GOP congressmen and senators who enabled him throughout the eight long years of his disastrous presidency. Through its members' selfishness and greed; their short sightedness and stupidity, the Republican party could not have damaged this country more than it already has if each of its members had strapped explosives to his chest and exploded them in shopping malls, movie theaters, businesses and airplanes throughout the nation. Osama Bin Ladin's overt hatred of America has got nothing on the Republican party's sick and twisted "love of country." Indeed, the GOP seems to "love" America in much the same way a pedophile "loves" his step kids. And I think it goes without saying that we Americans can all do without that brand of "love" for quite some time to come, thank you very much.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Words to ponder...

"What you turn down can be a gift to someone else. There is enough to go around."

-Actor John Travolta, on the roles he regrets having turned down.

Monday, November 24, 2008

It's going to get worse before it gets better

If the U.S. economy affects you in any way (and how could it not) then this article on the still collapsing housing market should send a chill down your spine. I was especially stricken by the following statistic:

Of the homes that did find buyers in October, nearly half were the result of a sale after a foreclosure.

Any way you slice it, that's pretty grim. I'd hate to be trying to sell a house right now.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Hearty Congrats!

A hearty Patriot's congratulations go out to John Lennon, who as of a couple of days ago is no longer roasting in Hell.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Enough with the bad news!

Good stuff happens, too, from time to time.

It's snowing outside my window as I type, by the way. And it's beautiful.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dept. of Injustices

The Bush Administration is urging a federal court to toss a lawsuit brought by Amish farmers who are concerned that state mandated RFID tags on their cattle are the Mark of the Beast.

It's hard not to have a soft spot for the Amish. After all, who has not at some point or another dreamed of leaving the complexities of modern life behind for the wholesome simplicity of a, 17th century agrarian lifestyle? And yet, we mustn't lose sight of the fact that we are, in our imaginations, returning to a era in which old widows were routinely burned for witchcraft, and most ailments were treated with leeches applied by a man who played a double role as the town's physician and barber. Maybe we'd be better off imagining ourselves as peaceful hobbits, tilling soil in Middle Earth.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Saving Detroit

I'm going to make a confession right now that's a little, perhaps, risqué for a liberal blogger: I love cars. That's right, I love driving them, I love looking at them, I love reading about them. At the height of the media's pro-war boosterism in the run-up to the Iraq invasion, I was so disgusted with CNN and MSNBC (no need to mention Fox) that I often instead turned my attention to the Speed Channel and watched outrageous monster trucks crushing lesser prey under the weight of their massive tires. It was a mental sanity break from news about a nation gone insane.

So now, with the heads of Detroit's big three automakers on their knees in Washington begging for a handout in order to assure their continued survival, I thought I'd play armchair legislator and offer my prescription for what it's going to take to save the U.S. auto industry. Because I simply cannot imagine the nation without a domestic automotive industry which accounts for a significant portion of our industrial production. It would be disastrous if we lost it. So it must be saved, though not in its current incarnation. The auto industry needs massive restructuring if it is to survive well into the 21st century.

One of Detroit's biggest problems, it seems to me, is the proliferation of brands. Most of the Japanese automakers have only two or three. They generally have a luxury division: Acura, Lexus, Infinity and a non-luxury brand Honda, Toyota, Nissan. Toyota ads a youth brand named Scion. Why in the world General Motors needs Chevrolet, Buick, Pontiac, GMC, Saturn, Hummer, Saab and Cadillac brands is beyond me. Why Dodge and Chrysler are different brands ia also a mystery (Jeep as a separate brand makes a little more sense). And just what the point of Ford's Mercury division is, I've never quite understood. It's basically little more than a trim level for Ford products, like their Eddie Bauer edition explorers.

My modest proposal, then is twofold. The first is to consolidate all the automakers into one, the United States Automotive Group. Saving the auto industry is going to take piles of cash, and with the massive federal debt we've got (thanks Reagan and Bush!) we simply can't afford to bail out and nurse along (possibly for decades) three separate companies that haven't yet figured out how to make cars suitable for the current market.

The next step is deciding which products and product lines survive from the three companies. I propose the following:

1) Luxury Division

Like the Asian automakers, the US auto industry should be divided into a Luxury division and a non-luxury division. Once that's done, deciding what cars fall into the luxury division is very simple: Cadillacs. Cadillac makes the only American Luxury car worthy of the name. Lincoln should be put out to pasture. Of all the Cadillac lineup two models deserve to survive:

a) The CTS and variants - this model group will compete with Lexus, Infinity and the BMW 3 series for customers.

b) The Cadillac DTS and variants - this model group competes with Mercedes and the BMW 5 and 7 series cars.

c) Separately, The Corvette survives as a luxury sports car.

2) Non-luxury division

This is a little more difficult picking, so let's start with the simplest decision first.

a) All truck divisions/brands die except for the Ford F-Series trucks.

b) The Ford Fusion and the Chevy Malibu survive as worthy family sedans.

c) The Ford Escape survives as a small SUV in both regular and Hybrid trim. USA auto develops a version with third-row seating.

d) The Chrysler 300 surives (temporarily) as a large family sedan and a police varint is developed to replace the aging Ford Crown Victoria.

e) The Dodge Grand Caravan survives as America's minivan

f) The Jeep Wrangler survives as a niche vehicle/brand.

g) All large SUVs die. If a large SUV is needed as a niche vehicle (towing, etc.) it is developed as a variant of the Ford F series truck platform.

3) Economy/Youth division

a) The Ford Focus survives as America's small, cheap, realiable economy car.

b) The Ford Mustang survives to feed the appetites of the Fast&Furious/Tuner crowd. However, it is retooled to be a bit smaller and lighter. A 4 cylinder version is developed that gets 20/28 MPG (perhaps with a turbo option) and the 6 cylinder version is retained. The 8 cylinder Mustang is dropped alltogether. A Mustang that is geared (and priced) to the Honda Civic Si/Scion TC/Mazdaspeed3 crowd would have one huge advanatge over its rivals: rear wheel drive.

In concert with this reorganization, Detroit needs to march full speed ahead with Hybrid development, especially the promising Chevy Volt. As soon as it becomes feasible the consolidated U.S. auto industry needs to introduce Hybrid variants of as many of its models as feasible, first as conventionl hybrids, and then, as model evolution progresses, as extended range electrics like the Volt.

Finally, the government needs to nurture the growth and development of Tesla Motors, the all-electric vehicle concern, with an eye toward eventually turning it into a second U.S. automotive company/Domestic competitor to the United Staes Automotive coporation.

Those are my thoughts, at any rate. They may be hairbrained. They are almost certainly overly simplistic. But I suspect something close to what I've drawn out must come to pass, or the country will a) lose its domestic auto industry all together or b) bankrupt itself trying to save it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Abandon Hope

David Brooks writes a charming piece in today's New York Times. It's titled "The Formerly Middle Class" but might as well have been titled "Take a bottle of sleeping pills, wash it down with a gin & tonic, and call me in the morning." The gist of this curious article is this: things are going to get bad over the next couple years... really, really bad, and oh, by the way, did you know that if you slit your wrists while lying in a warm bathtub you sorta just drift away and don't feel anything?

First Brooks wants us to disabuse ourselves of the romantic notion that tough economic times make us better people. In fact, they turn us all into conniving, deceitful snake-oil salesmen:

The Great Depression was not only a time of F.D.R.’s optimism and escapist movies, it was also a time of apocalyptic forebodings and collectivist movements that crushed individual rights. The recession of the 1970s produced a cynicism that has never really gone away. The share of students who admitted to cheating jumped from 34 percent in 1969 to 60 percent a decade later. More than a quarter of all employees said the goods they produced were so shoddily made that they wouldn’t buy them for themselves.
And if you thought the looming recession/depression was going to make us all folksy and family oriented like in the Waltons, you're wrong. Americans don't live in families any more since we're all divorced and sharing the kids on weekends and alternating vacations. Except now we'll have to move back in with our ex's and be at each others throats even though the divorce was final three years ago. It'll be like Little House on the Prairie meets Huis Clos with Daddy and his husband Mack sharing one huge quilt-covered bed with Mommy and her wife Suzette and three psychologically damaged kids:
In times of recession, people spend more time at home. But this will be the first steep recession since the revolution in household formation. Nesting amongst an extended family rich in social capital is very different from nesting in a one-person household that is isolated from family and community bonds. People in the lower middle class have much higher divorce rates and many fewer community ties. For them, cocooning is more likely to be a perilous psychological spiral.
What's worse, all the pretty young ladies will dress like the Amish to cover up their nakedness and pornography will be dominated by aging and overweight English nannies:
Recessions breed pessimism. That’s why birthrates tend to drop and suicide rates tend to rise. That’s why hemlines go down. Tamar Lewin of The New York Times reported on studies that show that the women selected to be Playboy Playmates of the Year tend to look more mature during recessions — older, heavier, more reassuring — though I have not verified this personally.
'course you haven't David, 'course you haven't.

Then, after nearly 800 words of gloom and doom, the editors, without further comment, added the following epigraph:
Bob Herbert is off today.
Ah, that explains it. With Herbert off, it fell on you, didn't it Brooks, to pen a column so depressing you want to just call in sick, draw the shades and crawl back into bed?

Monday, November 17, 2008

CNN's disgraceful "balance."

So I tuned into CNN this morning on the way to the gym, and caught the beginning of a rather absurd piece they were running on the new strategy, on the part of conservative talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, to jump the gun and blame Barack Obama for the nation's miserable economic state. What I found most appaling about the piece was that they treated it as legitimate issue for debate. Forget the fact that Obama has not even taken office yet, forget the fact that the GOP has been running the economy into the ground over the past 8 years, too distracted by their ridiculous war in Iraq to notice that the bottom was about to fall out of the housing market. Instead, CNN decided to take a look at the question of whether Obama's proposed tax increase (whic, by the way, he has said he may put off depending on economic necessity) is keeping investors out of the stock market. Now this proposition is absurd enough as it is, but even more absurd was the way CNN deiced to tackle the issue. Rather than calling an economist into the studio to assess the argument, they instead invited a left leaning talk show host and a right-leaning talk show host to "debate" the issue.

If there's any question in your mind as to whether the mainstream media is going to give Obama a fair shake over the next few years, or whether they are going to bend over backwards to please Republican sensibilities in the name of "balance," then disabuse yourself of that notion. If CNN is going to give legitimacy to such an idiotic talking point as "Barack Obama is responisble for the economic crisis we're in" then we know the answer already. There is no statement so absurd, no manufactured scandal so transparently artificial, no lie so outrageous that the mainstream media won't treat it as a serious subject over which honest people can have a legitimate disagreement.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Palin circa 1996

Andrew Sullivan, who despises Sarah Palin the way a bored housewife despises the villain on her favorite soap opera brings us a doozie: the earliest reported sighting of Sarah Palin, as reported in the Anchorage Daily News.

Diogenes in the marketplce

It's said that the Pre-socratic philosopher Diogenes of of Sinope spent his days wandering through Athens carrying a lantern, in broad daylight . When strangers inquired as to his purpose he woud reply that he was searching in vain for an "honest man." His response was invariably met with ridicule.

Financial analyst Peter Schiff can be thought of as a modern day Diogenes, warning the financial talking heads that the impending collapse of the housing bubble would be devastating to our economy and the markets, and all the while being met with ridicule and scorn. Watch this clip, and marvel as those who ridicule him (including Reagan economic adviser and godfather of supply-side economics Arthur Laffer and Ben Stein, among others) heartily recommend that viewers buy up stocks that today are worthless and invest in financial sectors that have been devastated by the bubble's burst.

If you've ever wondered how investment bubbles get their start, and how they sustain themselves, this clip is a good first start toward answering that question (I would also recommend reading Galbraith's The Great Crash, for more examples from previous centuries.)

(Hat Tip: Andrew Sullivan)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Obama Recession?

If there is any doubt as to the intellectual bankruptcy and bad faith of the Right-wing commentariat, let those doubts be laid to rest by the fact that two full months before the 44th President of the United States even takes the oath of office, Rush Limbaugh is already referring to the current economic crisis as the "Barack Obama Recession." The mouth-breathing Right, it seems, is so impatient to begin finding fault with our next president, even where no such fault exists, that such matters as plausibility and causality are of only minor concern. But hold on, you say: Barack Obama has not taken office yet, nor even filled the vast majority of positions in his cabinet, including his team of economic advisors. How can he be at fault? No problem. Clearly the markets, which would otherwise be booming thanks to the wise economic stewarship of the GOP over the past 8 years, have become spooked by Obama's inexplicable decision to don a green tie yesterday, when it's obvious he should have worn yellow. Ergo, this entirely avoidable recession is also, entirely Obama's recession.

That Rush Limbaugh should be so dishonest as to attribute the current economic malaise to Obama is not particularly surprising to anyone who's followed his career for any length of time. That his listeners are stupid enough to accept the argument is, alas, also unsurprising. Remember, this is the party of Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber --Palin, whose vast expertise in climate science has led her to question the human origins of global warming, and who may, or may not, know that Africa is a continent and not a country; and Joe who spends sleepless nights dreaming up implausible scenarios under which Obama's tax plan (a plan that objectively benefits him) might cost him money, who rails against income redistribution while on welfare, and who's entire understanding of socialist doctrine derives from looking up the word "Socialism" in Webster's dictionary. Limbaugh and his listeners remind me of the Monty Python sketch in which a man pays a service to have an argument. The details of the argument are unimportant. He just wants a good argument. Likewise, Limbaugh's listeners tune into his show to hear the man heap abuse upon left of center politicians. The plausibility of Limbaugh's arguments are less important. That's why "the markets have become spooked by Obama's economic plans" works so well for Limbaugh. It's an argument that, no matter how preposterous it seems in context, is not easily disproven. And so it will do. It also has the benefit of fitting neatly into his listeners biases and predispositions, where Democratic policies are always bad for business while Republican policies are always good for business. No further elucidation or proof is necessary.

Limbaugh is an extreme example, of course, but he merely makes plain what other Right-wing commentators are a little better at hiding. He may have jumped the gun by weeks, but rest assured, the remainder of the Right-wing pack will be jumping the gun in short order. They may find the discipline to wait until the innauguration, but as soon as that happens you can bet they'll all be talking about the "Obama recession" and his "failed Iraq and Afghanistan policy." The last 8 years will have vanished from their collective consciousness, and like Pol Pot after a purge, they will declare 2009 to be "year zero" in their new calendar of hatred and lies.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It's a new day...

Black Eyed Peas frontman was the genius behind "Yes we can," the hymn-like musical tribute to Barack Obama that became an anthem of sorts for the campaign and which did a better job of conveying our hopes and fears for the dream we dared dream than we ourselves were perhaps able to. I know it made me weep a little, every time I listened to it and watched the video. Now that Obama has won the presidency, returns with a musical victory celebration titled "It's a new day." The song is a bit thin; it feels lighter than cotton candy, in all honesty, but it's got a very catchy melody and is eminently hummable. And you know what? After the emotionally intense and soul sapping experience that was the campaign, this is exactly what we need right now. So enjoy, Obamanicas. You earned it!

Partial Truths, Partial Lies

What's missing from Abigail and Steven Thernstrom's Wall Street Journal OP Ed piece about how the Obama victory proves that "the myth of racist white voters was destroyed by this year's presidential election." ("Racial Gerrymandering Is Unnecessary") You have to poke and pry and pick at the article before you notice it:

So what happened to all those "racists" or "rednecks" that John Murtha spoke of so recently? If there had been that many of them, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Virginia and Florida would have gone the other way, and we would have a President-elect McCain today. Racism is the Sherlock Holmes dog that did not bark in the night.

Consider Iowa, with only a miniscule African-American population. The 5% of voters who said race was the most important factor in their choice of whom to vote for backed Mr. Obama 54% to 45%. Or consider Minnesota and Wisconsin, also overwhelmingly white, where Mr. Obama's lead was 18% and 21% respectively among the 5% to 7% of voters who made race their highest priority.

But wait, you ask yourself... where's the deep South? Sure, the writers mention Virginia, a border state with a large, affluent, well educated population of D.C. commuters. But why no mention of South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama? Maybe that's because, as this New York Times piece demonstrates, racial prejudice is alive and well in the deep South, where only 1 in 10 white voters polled for Obama.
Here in Alabama, where Mr. McCain won 60.4 percent of the vote in his best Southern showing, he had the support of nearly 9 in 10 whites, according to exit polls, a figure comparable to other Southern states. Alabama analysts pointed to the persistence of traditional white Southern attitudes on race as the deciding factor in Mr. McCain’s strong margin. Mr. Obama won in Jefferson County, which includes the city of Birmingham, and in the Black Belt, but he made few inroads elsewhere.
You can see results of Exit Polls by visiting CNN's exit poll database. Selecting state by state you see, for instance, that just 10% of white Alabamans voted for Obama. Mississippi was a tad better, with 11% favoring Obama. Lousiana saw 14% of White voters favoring Obama. Contrast this with a state like Vermont, where 68% of whites voted for Obama and it's difficult to not see a difference in racial attitudes in play. Sure, Alabama is much more conservative than Vermont, but it's not a much more conservative than Utah (Utah went 63/34 for McCain, whereas Alabama went 60/40) and in Utah 31% of whites voted for Obama.

One of the big mistakes to take away from Obama's election is the notion that we've entered some sort of post-racial golden age in America. That's simply not the case. There are tremendous regional variations in racial attitudes, and in some parts of the country, racist attitudes seem as deeply ingrained as ever. There is still much work to be done to ensure there is equality of treatment among the races in this country, that a black man who fills out a job application is considered in the same light and by the same criteria as a white candidate.

But there is a ray of hope. Attitudes are changing. Even in Alabama white youth are more likely to vote for a black presidential candidate than their fathers. Sure it's not by much: 13% vs. 9%, but it's a start. And in Mississippi, fully 18% of of Whites aged 18-29 went for Obama, almost double the 10% of voters aged 45-64 who did.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Daily Show

Been busy today, so haven't been able to post much. Nonetheless, I do recommend the New York Times article on the Daily Show comedy writing team. Included are links to some of the Daily Show's best clips from the recent election coverage. Amusing Monday afternoon reading if you have a spare moment.

Friday, November 7, 2008


Oh man is it satisfying, reading the right-wing crybabies getting all apoplectic over Barack Obama's election.

Civil War in the GOP

Are your ready for the Republican Civil war:

By Maeve Reston and Seema Mehta
5:34 PM PST, November 6, 2008
Reporting from Phoenix -- Sarah Palin left the national stage Wednesday, but the controversy over her role on the ticket flared as aides to John McCain disclosed new details about her expensive wardrobe purchases and revealed that a Republican Party lawyer would be dispatched to Alaska to inventory and retrieve the clothes still in her possession.

...and are you as excited to see it play out as I am?

So the GOP is sending lawyers to strip Sarah Palin of all her fancy new clothes? That's pretty cold. I'm no fan of Palin, but let's face it: she was the county fair queen with the pretty face that them big city lawyers in expensive suits plucked off her daddy's farm with the promise of stardom and fame. She was never ready for the spotlight they put her under, and when she failed to deliver on their grandiose, ill-conceived schemes, they unceremoniously dumped her at the Greyhound station, bought her a ticket back to her farm, a ham sandwich for the ride, and took back all her fancy clothes.

I have a feeling things are going to get nasty, real nasty at the next GOP Thanksgiving family reunion.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The GOP Power Couple

If you want to gauge just what a pathetic joke of a party the GOP has turned itself into, then watch the video clip two posts below this one where Fox News anchor Carl Cameron discusses Sarah Palin's geographic illiteracy. Then watch the video clip immediately below this commentary in which "Joe the plumber" reveals that his entire accumulated knowledge of Marxist doctrine was derived by looking up the word "Socialism" in Websters Dictionary. Observe how the man who decries the redistribution of wealth justifies having spent a period of his life collecting welfare benefits. And marvel at the thought: these two individuals are currently the most popular figures in the Republican party. The GOP base is enormously excited and wants America to be governed and guided by these two individuals. It boggles the mind. It is, quite frankly, a frightening thought. (Video via Crooks and Liars)

Proposition 8

I haven't said much about the success of Proposition 8 in California, mostly because I haven't wanted to spoil the buzz of the Obama election. However, I do now want to give my opinion on the matter.

Personally, I find it chilling and frightening that under the statutes governing the California ballot initiative process, a small group of motivated citizens can strip constitutionally guaranteed rights that are enjoyed by another group of citizens. That this can be done by a simple majority vote borders on the criminal. I have long been weary of these sorts of "direct democracy" mechanisms aimed at bypassing professional legislators. It gives a tremendous amount of power to wealthy individuals and organizations that pay to gather signatures and spend millions of dollars on misleading advertisements promoting their measure and demonizing opponents. Presumably we elect legislators to do this sort of work for us because the average citizen has neither the time nor inclination to adequately study up on proposed statutes and carefully consider all their ramifications. It is bad enough when ballot measures lead to tax policies that cripple the state's educational system, but when such measures are used to forcibly impose second-class citizenship upon a group of people, they become unconscionable instruments of oppression, facilitating the tyranny of the majority in just the fashion that constitutions with their 2/3 vote amendment processes were meant to guard against.

In the meantime, enjoy this ad:

You can't make this stuff up...

You thought it was bad? You're wrong. It was worse, far, far worse. Now, in watching the media conduct the post-mortem on the McCain campaign we're learning some truly terrifying facts about Sarah Palin. Perhaps the most stunning testament to the Alaska Governor's unsuitability for the position to which she had been appointed are the recent revelations of her geographical illiteracy. According to Fox News reporter Karl Cameron, Palin was unaware of such basic facts as which countries are covered under the North American Free Trade Agreement and, more stunningly, that Africa is a continent comprising many countries, as opposed to a single country of itself. Now that's just jaw dropping ignorance right there, and the fact that this claim is being revealed on Fox News should put a damper on any charges of unfair treatment by liberal reporters.

But this news, shocking as it is, isn't necessarily the most outrageous. Take a look at Bill O'Reilly's reaction to these revelations and ask yourself: has the Republican party "gotten it" yet? Or are they still a danger to themselves and others? The fact that O'Reilly brushes aside these revelations of supreme ignorance by pronouncing them easily correctable through tutoring very much suggests the latter. O'Reilly is a leader of the conservative movement, and the fact that he and others are so eager to overlook the Alaska Governor's rank unsuitability for the position in order to advance their political agenda gives ample testament to their demagoguery as well as the danger that they and their opportunistic anti-intellectualism pose to the nation. The GOP simply cannot be allowed to govern this nation again.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A River of Tears

The significance of this moment in American history cannot be overstated. Arranged below area series of video clips of commentators, politicians, statesmen and ordinary people, weeping for joy at the proclamation that Barack Obama had won the presidency of the United States of America. A theme that reappears when African Americans recount the significance of this moment is the joy of being able to look their young children in the eye and, for the first time, be able to honestly tell them that as American citizens, they can be anything they want, even President of the United States of America, as long as they set their mind to it and work hard enough for it.

(Warning: you're going to want to get out a hankie for these)

Sherri Shephard on The View:

Colin Powell tears up:

Jesse Jackson. He's always been one of America's most inspiring public speakers, but the tears he sheds in this video possess a transcendent eloquence that soars beyond even his best oratory:

A Youtube titled "tears for Obama"

This next one is a bit different. It's Comedy Central's Colbert/Stewart coverage of the election. Colbert, of course, each night on his show assumes the persona of a right-wing blowhard culture-warrior in the mode of Bill O'Reilly. Watch then, as John Stewart announces the election of Barack Obama. Colbert tries to stay in character, but keeps taking off his glasses to dry his eyes. It's quite remarkable:

Here's what Huffingtonpost commenter huffyobsessed had to say about the above clip:

"I was in the audience at the show, and trust me, it was real. after the show went off air, both john and stephen went to their wives in the audiences and had very emotional hugs and kisses with their wives. it was very moving and the audience was going wild."

Here's a bit more from the AP:

But comedy eventually subsided to the magnitude of the election results. After the broadcast - held in front of a raucous and partisan crowd - the cast exchanged hugs and Colbert and Stewart both went to the audience to embrace their wives.

In a brief interview after the broadcast backstage, Colbert was still rattled.

"I've never had this feeling before, which is: Things went well on Election Night," said Colbert, whose political views are not his character's. "I'm a little stunned. I don't know what to do with my happiness. I'm still afraid someone's going to take it away."

For many of us Stewart and Colbert at times seemed like the only island of sanity in the 8 year sea of madness that was the Bush administration. They helped us make it through. Their tears are our tears, their joy is our joy.


Lest my only reaction to the election results be a long, rambling post chastizing the GOP for the 8 years of mismanagement that resulted in their own self-immolation, let's have something positive to say! It's been difficult listening to Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'" over the past 8 years, given that everything seemed bleak and dreary and any faint promise of hope seemed distant, more distant than the eye could see. Now that there's a real chance for progress, I can listen to the song again without a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat.

It's springtime, people... let idealism once again flourish!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Republicans: Ten Reasons Why You Deserved to Lose

So you're a faithful Republican who's just woken up Wednesday morning to the most terrifying news possible. It's like "Red Dawn" but for real. And worst of all, it did not come about through a foreign invasion, but rather the American people voted the enemy right into office! How could this happen? In America? In our lifetimes?

Well, if you're one of the 8% of Americans who, in a recent poll, thought that the country was going in the "right direction," then let me explain it to you in a way that you can understand. Grab a cup of hot cocoa, pull up a chair, and pay attention to how it was that Republicans destroyed their own party and nearly destroyed the country that we all love in the bargain. Let me explain why it is that, in the opinion of many good Americans, real Americans from real America, you deserved to lose, and should never again be trusted with any meaningful degree of power if this nation hopes to survive another 225 years.

10) The National Debt: From our nation's founding, in 1776 to the year 2001, The United States of America managed to accumulate about $5 trillion dollars of public debt. From 2001 to 2008, with a Republican president wielding a veto pen in the Whitehouse, and the GOP in control of both houses of congress, the national debt doubled in size to some $10 trillion. You read that correctly: it took only eight years of Republican stewardship to double 225 years of accumulated government debt. When Bill Clinton handed over the presidency to George Bush in 2001, the U.S. was running a $200 plus billion surplus and was on target to pay off the entire national debt by the year 2012. GOP partisans continue to insist that the surplus was not Bill Clinton's legacy, but rather, a tribute to the fiscal conservatism of the Republican congress. But when Republicans finally got hold of all three branches of government, they quickly put the lie to the myth of GOP fiscal conservatism by slashing taxes and enacting spending priorities that led to an explosive growth in Federal outlays. With the national debt at an all-time high, only a blind partisan can continue to deny that it was, indeed, the Democratic president, who brought a sound fiscal hand to the U.S. government in the 1990s, not Newt Gingrich's GOP.

9) Osama Bin Ladin: On September 11, 2001, 19 members of the Al Qaeda, a terrorist organization headed by Osama Bin Ladin, successfully carried out the single most gruesome, brutal and criminal terrorist attack on the United States of America in all of her history as a nation, resulting in the loss of nearly 3000 innocent lives. On September 11, 2008 Osama Bin Ladin was still a free man, hiding in the hills of Pakistan, and he remains a free man to this day. Republican President George W. Bush has been commander in Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces that entire time. And during that period, well over 4000 young American soldiers have died fighting a $600,000,000,000.00 war that, regardless of whether you were for it or against it, was objectively not aimed at bringing Bin Ladin to justice. He is a scarlet letter, forever burned in your chest, a symbol of your bluster and unforgivable ineptitude. Should Bin Ladin die a free man, of natural causes, it will be your shame to bear forever.

8) Paul Krugman: In October of 2008, Princeton Economist and G.W. Bush gadfly Paul Krugman was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics. Even most partisan conservative commenters tended to agree that the prize was well deserved. This one, clearly, isn't Bush or the GOP's fault. I present it simply as further proof that God hates Republicans right now, for what you've done to our country.

7) Sarah Palin vs. Katie Couric: Katie Couric is not known for being a particularly tough interviewer. Perhaps that is why nothing appears to have harmed Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin's image with the American people more than her disastrous CBS interview with America's spunky sweetheart anchorgirl. GOP partisans insist that Palin was caught off guard by a series of unfair "gotcha" questions, but when you can't even get a base hit off a softball question such as "what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read... to stay informed and understand the world?" then it's painfully obvious that you're not ready for prime-time, heck, you're not even ready for the Buggs Bunny/Road Runner hour. The fact that Palin (along with a semi-literate unlicensed plumber named "Joe") is currently the most popular Republican in the country among the GOP faithful shows what a long, tough slog you've got ahead for yourselves. She's your cross to bear GOPers, and yours is now officially the party of prideful ignorance; suck it up.

6) Mitt Romney: He's handsome, articulate, successful and a family man of strong religious convictions who is still married to his first wife. He rescued the 2002 winter Olympics and brought universal health coverage, GOP style, to the citizens Massachusetts, and he's largely scandal-free... in short, he's everything the GOP could ask for in a future presidential candidate, except that he's also a Mormon. And if there's one hallmark of your party, it's intolerance. So Mitt Romney will never be your party's nominee. Sorry.

5) Creationism: It's a collection of unscientific fairy tales that ask us to accept such absurdities as a 6000 year old age for our planet, a global flood, and starlight from distant galaxies and long dead stars that was created "en route." But every time you see Ben Stein and Ann Coulter paying lip service to this bit of pseudo-scientific stupidity, and every time you watch another moronic TV documentary detailing an expedition to Mt. Ararat in search of Noah's Ark you realize that keeping the GOP base happy means sealing a huge chunk of your intellect, integrity and dignity in a formaldehyde jar and locking it up "for the duration" (see Sarah Palin, above).

4) The Housing Bubble: It's been brewing for the greater part of a decade. Why couldn't the bubble have waited another 6 months to burst? Then you could have blamed the whole thing on Obama. You could have insisted that the markets got spooked by his tax plans or something (forget that whole unregulated credit-default-swap nonsense). And you'd probably have fooled a lot of people, too (see Creationism, Palin above). But it didn't. The market collapsed on your watch, and in a panicked state, you undertook the largest taxpayer funded bailout of private industry in American history. Pundits are facetiously saying that we've become a "socialist" nation now, under Bush. Even Alan Greenspan, a dogmatic Objectivist and erstwhile free-market absolutist, has recanted and proclaimed much of his view of the way in which market function as incorrect. So again: this collapse could have gone down on Obama's watch, but it didn't, because... well... God hates you and wants the blame to fall squarely where it belongs.

3) Larry Craig, Mark Foley, David Vitter, Bob Ney, Duke Cunningham, Ted Stevens, etc.: Your boys just can't seem to keep their peckers in their pants or their hands out of the cookie jar. You curse the day you ever heard the name Jack Abramoff. And with corrupt hacks like Tom Delay and Alberto Gonzales actively subverting the democratic mechanisms of our judicial system and our government for partisan political purposes, you appear frighteningly fascistic at times, too.

2) Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, Robert Novak: All these years you Republicans have assured the American People that it's those shifty-eyed Democrats who put personal power over love of country, but when it finally came time for a presidential administration to settle a political score by unmasking the identity of a covert CIA operative working to keep the country safe from black-market nuclear proliferation, it was Republicans who pulled the trigger. And all your pathetic splitting of hairs as to whether Valerie Wilson was still, technically, under Non Official Cover (a spy, risking her life for her country) only made the American people scratch their heads and wonder: so, just when is it OK to start unmasking our covert operatives in the name of political score settling? Maybe if we'd found WMDs in Iraq you could have tried to insist that you were merely unmasking a disloyal American. But everything her husband Joe Wilson said about the administration and it's ill guided march to war after non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction would eventually prove to be true. Oh yeah, and about those WMDs... well, let's just leave those for another day.

1) Barack Obama: he's the logical antidote to 8 long years of unconscionably awful, disastrous, incoherent, inept, corrupt, hypocritical, inexcusably incompetent Republican control of all branches of government, from the judicial (conservatives enjoy a 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court, let us not forget) to the legislative (6 full years of GOP control of both houses of congress) to the executive (the worst president in history). Ask any African American if they thought they'd ever see the day a black man became President, and to a person they'll tell you they did not. That is because they never believed that the nation would be subjected to Republican governance so God awful that a sizable number of racist Southern rednecks, bigoted white-collar "Reagan Democrats" and blue-blood country club Republicans would temporarily set aside their myopic, tribalistic instincts and vote for a Harvard Educated black Democrat, no matter how qualified, no matter how genial, no matter how idealistic and earnest, over a white, all American war hero Republican. What's worse for you is that a whole generation of young idealistic Americans who do not see the world through the destructive and divisive racial lens that your party has been exploiting to win elections since the early 70s have rejected your divisive rhetoric and embraced the idea of a truly post-racial future for our politics. These young voters represent the future political direction of our country, and by large margins, you have alienated and even disgusted them.

So there you have it: ten reasons why, not only should you not be surprised that you lost these elections, but why your party should also probably do us all a favor and just go crawl off in a corner somewhere and go gently into that good night.


Popular poll aggregator website gives John McCain just a 1.9% chance of winning the elections today. That's the lowest I've seen it.

(UPDATE: Shortly after I posted this, the probability of a McCain victory dropped to 1.1%)

Rovemap to Election '08

For what it's worth, Karl Rove has Obama stomping all over McCain in this election. We'll see how it goes. I voted this morning at 7:00, just as the polls opened. There were plenty of people in line, though apparently it got less crowded within the hour.

Monday, November 3, 2008

McCain/Palin's Awful Supporters Part II

A few choice postings by Free Republic commenters remarking on the death, today, of Barack Obama's grandmother:

Nice timing. That’ll pick up a few sympathy votes for sure.
posted on Monday, November 03, 2008 4:57:13 PM by PeterFinn

Cancer patients usually pass away from a planned terminal sedation.
This may be the first politically timed terminal sedation ever, though.
posted on Monday, November 03, 2008 4:59:53 PM by counterpunch

A PUMA in my office said she died last week and that this is a set up.
posted on Monday, November 03, 2008 5:02:25 PM by Frantzie

Did he have power of attorney over her? Did he decide to stop any kind of life support?
posted on Monday, November 03, 2008 5:02:49 PM by nikos1121

Will Barack deliver a “Win one for the Tooter” speech?
posted on Monday, November 03, 2008 5:03:04 PM by Nonperson

Wow, just before the 6:00 news. How convenient
posted on Monday, November 03, 2008 5:04:49 PM by NYC Republican

from another discussion on the same news:

She was swindled into raising someone else’s child. I do not believe that hussein is half white.
posted on Monday, November 03, 2008 4:51:05 PM by US_MilitaryRules

In other news more inportant to me. I have a hang nail that hurts.
posted on Monday, November 03, 2008 5:03:13 PM by MichiganRed08

from a third discussion:

Murdered? It’s not murder when it’s for the chosen one. The dems will blame it on lack of universal health care and get a double bang for the buck. Obama will forgive her racism and find another family member to use and throw under the bus.

obama and his mindless followers planned her machine to be turned off as sure as the clocks changed Sunday.

As if modern medicine could not have kept her alive until after election day. Sick people we are dealing with.
posted on Monday, November 03, 2008 5:06:19 PM by soycd

Wonder what secrets she carried to her grave?
posted on Monday, November 03, 2008 5:07:20 PM by wolfcreek

Very sad. I believe Mrs. Dunham - had she been healthy - would have - should have been called upon to testify before a Senate committee on the specifics of her grandson’s birth.

Barack was right. Granny DID NOT live to see election day. Gee. He sure called THAT one. Wonder how he knew???
posted on Monday, November 03, 2008 5:10:13 PM by Responsibility2nd

I’m not going along with it. This is a time when you need to be generating hatred and anger for the enemy. Not sympathy and empathy. Perfectly timed to subdue you when you are all needed at your peak. I don’t go for these threads, but hey, that’s just me. This is a distraction. 5,000 grandma’s died today - only one makes it on this site and gets hearts bleeding. These people do NOT mean you any good will and if elected they will use the full power at their disposal to oppress your beliefs and freedoms.
posted on Monday, November 03, 2008 5:17:15 PM by FTL
Stay classy, people. You don't want anything to do with these merchants of hatred.

A Sad Comment

I haven't got much sympathy for Sen. Ted Stevens, but I do have to evince a degree of sympathy for anyone who has to appear before a jury of his peers, or at least a jury containing this juror:

A juror dismissed from the trial of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) after she told the judge her father had died in California admitted in court today that her excuse had been a lie: She actually left town to attend a horse race.

Hinnant told reporters outside the courthouse that she believed Stevens was guilty "like all the other" politicians, but refused to say whether she would have voted to convict him.

The right to defend yourself before an impartial jury of your peers is one of the essential checks on government power and tyranny. It is a shame that so many of our citizens take that right so lightly.

McCain/Palin's Awful Supporters

In case you need a little more prodding to convince yourself to pull the lever for Obama on Tuesday, here's one reason to do the right thing: You don't want to be in any way associated with McCain/Palin and their awful supporters. Click the videos below to see some examples of McCain/Palin supporters at their worst.

There is, for example, the woman who refused Halloween candy to children who support Obama:

Then there's Ashley Todd, a Texan volunteer for the McCain campaign who manufactured an assault by a fictional black man in a race baiting attempt to sway the Pennsylvania vote:

And who can forget the racist old man at the McCain/Palin rally who waved around a Curious George doll with an Obama bumper sticker around its head, then sheepishly gave it away to a nearby child when he began to feel uncomfortable with the attention he was receiving:

And finally, there's the angry mob of McCain/Palin's misinformed, hate-filled supporters generally. Take a look at Miss Crazy Eyes, here, for instance. Where did the McCain campaign come up with her? Was she lifted stright out of a Japanese horror movie? Whetever the truth is, she'll probably end up haunting your nightmares for weeks to come, unexpectedly popping her head into your field of vision to inquire sarcastically: "When did you first learn of O-ba-ma? Exactly, sir!":

Seriously, you don't want to be in any way associated with any of these people.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Only Poll That Matters

There it was, a headline on the Huffington Post that promised to answer the one burning question that's on everyone's mind these days: "Who will win the election?" The title of the piece: "Bill Kristol Knocks the New York Times, Predicts McCain Will Win the Election." Now as anyone who has followed Kristol's recent career knows, Bill Kristol has not been wrong about anything recently (and by that, of course, I mean that Bill Kristol has been wrong about everything recently.) From the extent to which American troops would be greeted as liberators, to the ease with which we would create a Democratic government in Iraq, to the swiftness with which the vast majority of our troops would come home, Bill Kristol has been, not just wrong, but spectacularly wrong both on the symbolism as well as the substance of the matter. Indeed, you might say that wrongness is a quality that permeates his writings, that allows them to soar on fictional wings to the land of make-believe, it is a quailty that has become very much a hallmark of his work. So when the Huffington Post promised its readership a prediction of a McCain victory by Kristol, you might as well have just handed me a pair of tickets to the Obama innaugural ball. I was giddy.

But then I watched the video:

And now I'm of mixed emotions. You see, yes, it is true that Kristol predicts a McCain victory in this clip, but what's not clear is that he actually believes what he is saying. Indeed, there's a certain "I'm saying this because I have to" quality to the prediction that would seem to derive from the fact that he is, after all William Kristol, and can't possibly be expected to say anything other. What his demeanor seems to say, on the other hand, is that McCain and the GOP are headed toward a crushing blow and a staggering defeat, a cataclysm of a magnitude unseen since Krakatoa. And so to gauge the probability that this prediction is on the money (and by that I mean that it is spectacularly wrong, like all his other predictions) we would have to know whether Kristol was lying to us all those other times, or whether he knew all along that he was full of crap. Because in this clip, it's pretty obvious that he knows full well that he's spewing nonsense.

And so I'm back where I started. Spinning in my office chair, tossing darts at a big map of the world on the wall, and wondering whether the American people are going to hand victory to the man who most deserves it, or go with their baser instincts and vote their prejudices and fears.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Could McCain lose AZ?

A new poll has Obama running neck and neck with John McCain in Arizona, senator McCain's home state. If this is true then it seems to be one more sign that support for McCain is collapsing across the board. It may also be a sign of weakening support for the GOP throughout the Southwest. Makes you wonder: how long before Texas re-aligns? And at that point the GOP is lost, game over unless the party can radically rebrand itself.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fox drops all pretense.

Fox News runs a front page story titled "Obama Affinity to Marxists Dates Back to College Days." It reads like a McCain campaign press release, including guilt by association, out-of context quotes from Barack Obama's biography, and deliberate mischaracterizations of Obama's positions. Take this gem, for instance:

But the debate intensified Monday with the surfacing of a 2001 radio interview in which Obama lamented the Supreme Court's inability to enact "redistribution of wealth" -- a key tenet of socialism. On Tuesday, McCain said Obama aspires to become "Redistributionist-in-Chief."
This, of course, is a deliberate misrepresentation of what Obama actually said which was that:
...the supreme court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of basic issues of political and economic justice in this society and to that extent as radical as people try to characterize the warren court it wasnt that radical 40;30 it didnt break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the constituion at least as it has been interpreted and the warren court interpreted it generally in the same way that the constitution is a document of negative liberties 40:43 says what the states cant do to you says what the federal govt cant do to you but it doesnt say what the federal govt or state govt mst do on your behalf and that hasnt shifted and i think one of the tragedies of the civil rights movement was that 41:01 the civil rights movement becaem so court focused i think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and organizing activities 41:12 on the ground that are able to bring about the coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change 41:20 and in some ways we still suffer from that
In other words, Obama does not lament that the court never pursued redistribution or was unable to pursue redistribution of wealth. Rather he laments that the Civil Rights movement focused too many of its energies on a court that was not designed to advance the goals of social justice and redistribution of wealth. This distinction is essential, given that Conservatives love to push the notion of un-elected courts pursuing left wing agendas. Yet here, Obama is siding with those who deny such power was ever invested in the courts by the nation's founders.

The rest of the piece is just as ridiculous, featuring a picture of Karl Marx as well as "expert opinions" that are attributed to unnamed "analysts", as in this absurdity:
Obama has been widely criticized for choosing the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, an anti-American firebrand, as his pastor. Wright is a purveyor of black liberation theology, which analysts say is based in part on Marxist ideas.
Ultimately, the absurdity of the piece, mirrors the absurdity of this whole line of attack generally. Barack Obama is guilty of nothing more than espousing a progressive tax policy of startified tax brackets. If that is evidence of Marxist leanings, then the U.S. is already a Maxist country and one must accept the unavoidable conclusion that Marxism is the most effective political and economic system known to man and the one that grants him the most freedom.

Somehow I doubt that's what Obama's critics mean to say.

But the piece does prove one thing: the McCain campaign and its allies at Fox are getting desperate.

Your crazy neighbor endorses McCain

That bald dude who just a few weeks ago was an unlicensed plumber, a tax cheat, and an aficionado of right-wing talk radio has officially endorsed John McCain. And in a carefully argued assessment that sounds like it was probably arrived at over a couple of beers and a $20.00 stakes game of pool, proclaimed that Obama would be the "death of Israel." No, strike that. He didn't really proclaim it so, but rather, agreed with some random McCain supporter that it woud likely be so.

And this event, makes news, for some reason, while your insane neighbor with the broken down truck in his yard, impressive collection of semi-automatic weapons, and penchant for cookouts that involve a fire in a 55 gallon drum and does not merit a story when he makes the very same proclamation... hmmm, curious that.

Who wants it more?

How to slay a Fox

This is how you do an interview with Fox News. You make Fox the story, hammer them on their bias, and rile-up whichever one of the clone-army of blonde, Laura Ingraham wannabe newscasters, happens to be running the interview, so she gets all defensive and talking-pointy on you:

The cult of McCain?

And critics accuse the left of messianism in our enthusiasm for Barack Obama?

...the difference in moral stature between presidential candidates has rarely been as enormous as it is today--not (or not only) because Obama's is so small but because McCain's is so large. There is no single English word for McCain the hero, the moral entity. But in Hebrew he would be called a tsaddik--a man of such nobility and moral substance that he approaches holiness. If this assertion sounds crazy, that only shows how little we have thought about the issue.


"Who shall ascend the mountain of the Lord? Or who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart" (Psalm 24:3-4). Whether you like or dislike his politics, that is John McCain all over.

-David Gelernter, "Clean Hands and a Pure Heart" The Weekly Standard, 11/03/2008

(Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan)

Vote fraud? Not so fast.

National Review Online columnist Jim Geraghty has finally found that elusive proof that Democratic voters are voting illegally:

Now, unless A. Serwer thinks that there is actually a registered voter named "Duran Duran" in New Mexico, he ought to refrain from sputtering that those who disagree with him are 'racist' and 'paranoid.'

The person who is "Duran Duran" almost certainly voted under their real name, and thus got two votes in the primary.
Open and shut case, right? Except that a short time later Geraghty posts the following update:

UPDATE: I am floored by the fact that the white pages for Albuquereque, New Mexico has a listing for "Duran Duran." Mea culpa.

(Hat tip: Crooks and Liars)