Friday, August 29, 2008


Maverick or impulsive?

If this ABC report is to be believed, McCain's choice may have been a bit impulsive. Apparently he really wanted Lieberman, but his campaign decided last Sunday that it wasn't feasible.
The next day, McCain studied the three men at the top of his shortlist: Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge. All had different strengths and negatives, but McCain was not satisfied. None of them had what McCain believed he needed to do -- and would have done -- with Lieberman.

McCain wanted to shake up the ticket.

Pawlenty was too safe. Ridge was pro-choice without the novelty Lieberman would have offered. Romney was too much of an asshole. So he met with Palin once.


I don't want to sound too cliche, but it becomes an issue of temperment and judgment. This woman could end up the leader of the free world in a heartbeat, or lack thereof. And he met with her once.


38 million heard Obama last night

More than the opening ceremony for the Olympics. That's 12 million more than the previous record for a convention speech set two nights earlier by Hillary Clinton. Obama was in the living rooms of a quarter of the nation's households.

Now the question is whether Palin's speech will outdo McCain's next week.

Addendum: Obama's Gallup Tracking Poll bounce - does not factor in last night. He should break 50 in tomorrow's numbers. The question is whether Palin's selection will pull it back down on Sunday.

The text of Obama's speech.

Second addendum: Paul Begala asks "Is McCain out of his mind?"

Third addendum: "Sarah Palin was my mayor."

Fourth addendum: Apparently Palin altered her Wikipedia entry with haste.

Photo comes from this Kos post.

Fifth addendum: Well, she's getting her vetting. Apparently she was against McCain before she was for him.

And like her running mate, she's fibbing about her earmarks spending stand.


CNBC is reporting Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as McCain's VP

Certainly "out of the box" if true. CNN is reporting that it won't be Pawlenty. Romney appears to be out as well, which shouldn't be a surprise as he basically called McCain a liar during the campaign.

Wonkette had written Palin off earlier in the year due to the governor's pregnancy. The photo comes from Wonkette.

I should also say that none of the other networks is reporting anything other than speculation due to the plain from Alaska to Dayton. But it seems a good bet.

Addendum: Well, it's confirmed. And I have to say that she's McCain's best choice. It's a double play for both the Republican base and PUMA types. It does kind of take the experience thing off the table, but Obama's probably going to beat that rap anyway. Plus, she's in an organization called "Feminists for Life," which means you have a conservative woman who's not afraid of the "F" word who can possibly reframe the whole debate on abortion - especially since she recently gave birth to a down syndrome child, a condition which has been cited as a rationale for abortion. The risk is that it brings abortion to the forefront and could galvanize some of the female Clinton voters for Obama.

She's younger than Obama and the immediate effect is to boot Obama's speech out of the news coverage and bring some excitement to the convention. If Pawlenty had been chosen the press would have been yawning. If Romney had been chosen the press would have focused on the animosity.

The concern is that Biden will blow her out of the water in foreign policy in the debates, but already that works in her favor. All she has to do is hold her own and she wins the push due to the "expectations game." And since the debates are tightly controlled in format, all she has to do is prepare well with canned answers and she's "beaten expectations."

A smart move. Could win it for McCain. Maybe.

Second Addendum: Apparently she does have a little baggage. About two dozen telephone calls were made from her office attempting to get her ex-brother-in-law fired as a state trooper. She claims she knew nothing about them. There is an investigation as to whether she fired Alaska's Public Safety Commissioner because he wouldn't fire the trooper. Her sister and the ex are in a serious custody fight.

I would assume the McCain people feel that one can be wrapped up tight.

Third addendum: I should mention that I think the selection is a positive moment for women in politics. The Republicans just broke a barrier. And it's a gutsy move by McCain (although he had to do something) which moves the Republican Party a few inches into the 20th Century. It could create a minor backlash as there are still some conservatives who believe a woman should not be working, certainly not as VP, while she has five children. I'm glad McCain bucked that element.

Fourth addendum: Not all conservatives are happy. From the National Review:
Can anyone say with a straight face that Palin would have gotten picked if she were a man?
They asked it. Not me.

Fifth addendum: Romney and Pawlenty aren't happy.

Sixth addendum: Somebody just pointed out that come November someone from either Hawaii or Alaska will be elected to the White House. That's another first.

And expect the following clip to get a lot of play, as well as McCain's joke about why Chelsea Clinton is so ugly (the answer being that Janet Reno is the father).

Obama's response to the pick:
"We send our congratulations to Governor Sarah Palin and her family on her designation as the republican nominee for Vice President. It is yet another encouraging sign that old barriers are falling in our politics. While we obviously have differences over how best to lead this country forward Governor Palin is an admirable person and will add a compelling new voice to this campaign."
There's some chatter on CNN that this was a last minute decision. Apparently Palin's staff wasn't even notified until late last night. Pawlenty may have been the pick until Obama's exceptional speech of last night which might have stolen the narrative going into the convention. Basically, McCain chose to roll the dice. Pawlenty was apparently expecting the nomination.

Here's a local news story on Troopergate. It looks like the buzz-cut aide was caught in a lie.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Night Four

Well, it appears Obama did what he had to do.

Pat Buchanan on the speech: "This is the finest convention speech, I've ever heard!..... It wasn't a liberal speech, it was a unifying speech."

More later.

By the way, thank you to anyone who called it to my show. Some great calls tonight.

Addendum: Remarkable comments from Pat Buchanan, which blow me away as much as the speech itself. One thing about Buchanan, who has great grudging respect for his political opponents (I almost thought he was rooting for Hillary Clinton this season), he acknowledges their moments with grace. His militancy has tempered over the years.

From David Gergen:
If Obama becomes president, I think we will look back and say that this was one of the turning points. As a political speech it was a masterpiece.
Second addendum: Dissecting that "bounce" in the Gallup Tracking Poll, which is based on a three day average, these are the daily figures. So despite what the media was reporting yesterday, the bounce began from the first moment of the convention.

August 20: O 45 M 43
August 21: O 45 M 44
August 22: O 45 M 45
August 23: O 45 M 46
August 24: O 45 M 44
August 25: O 42 M 48
August 26: O 48 M 40 (post-Michelle)
August 27: O 54 M 38 (post-Hillary)

This doesn't include the impact of tonight, nor even last night. I suspect the dip over the weekend reflects the disappointment of Clinton supporters with the Biden choice. But if you googled the question as late as this morning, you would have found a slew of stories about the failure of Obama to bounce from the convention. Is the MSM biased, or just stupid?

Third addendum: Alleged liberal Fox News commentator Juan Williams, who has been riding the Democrats all week, rips Obama's speech. Then in a twist, conservative Bill Kristol praises it. Ironies abound.

Fourth addendum: Obama's ground game is in high gear.
Barack Obama's campaign hasn't advertised this a great deal this week, but the campaign's "Action Wire" has been waging large-scale campaigns against critics. That includes tens of thousands of e-mails to television stations running Harold Simmons' Bill Ayers ad, and to their advertisers — including a list of major automobile and telecommunications companies.

And tonight, the campaign launched a more specific campaign: an effort to disrupt the appearance by a writer for National Review, Stanley Kurtz, on a Chicago radio program. Kurtz has been writing about Obama's relationship with Bill Ayers, and has suggested that papers housed at the University of Illinois at Chicago would reveal new details of that relationship.

The campaign e-mailed Chicago supporters who had signed up for the Obama Action Wire with detailed instructions including the station's telephone number and the show's extension, as well as a research file on Kurtz, which seems to prove that he's a conservative, which isn't in dispute. The file cites a couple of his more controversial pieces, notably his much-maligned claim that same-sex unions have undermined marriage in Scandinavia.

"Tell WGN that by providing Kurtz with airtime, they are legitimizing baseless attacks from a smear-merchant and lowering the standards of political discourse," says the email, which picks up a form of pressure on the press pioneered by conservative talk radio hosts and activists in the 1990s, and since adopted by Media Matters and other liberal groups.
I don't know what the hell Obama's been doing for the past month, but it appears he's found a way to rumble and play lofty at the same time - a groove of brilliance reflected in tonight's speech despite the centrist overtures I found annoying.


Measure T in court

Today's Time Standard has the story.
Two companies filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Francisco Wednesday, challenging the constitutionality of Measure T, a county ordinance banning corporate election donations, an attorney said.

The lawsuit argues the ballot measure, passed by voters in 2006, violates the political free speech rights of corporations by banning their donations in local elections.

”The county's donation restriction runs the First Amendment through a shredder,” said Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Damien Schiff. “The Constitution guarantees open and vibrant political debate, with all sides and all points of view allowed into the fray. The county's ordinance is an outrageous assault on these free speech rights, because it targets a class of employers to be shut out of the political process.”

Under Measure T, if a corporation has any employees or shareholders living outside of the county, the business is banned from donating to campaigns relating to local ballot measures or candidates for local office, attorneys said.

The lawsuit was filed by Pacific Legal Foundation attorneys on behalf of Mercer-Fraser Co., an asphalt paving and heavy construction business based in Eureka, and O & M Industries, an Arcata-based manufacturer focused on steel fabrication and heat, ventilation and air conditioning systems.

I broke with my fellow local progressives on this issue when it was up for vote, but the proponents claim that this measure was specifically crafted to withstand Constitutional challenge based upon the reasoning of past cases, and speaking strictly in legal terms, the plaintiffs may have a uphill climb. I may have some more to say about this later.


KMUD program note

I will be on KMUD tonight from 7 to 9 p.m. to comment on the convention in between tonight's important speeches. Obama is slated to talk at 8:00 p.m. We'll discuss it and maybe take some phone calls if there's time afterwards.

I will also be on for McCain's acceptance speech next Thursday.


Pipe Jam at the Community Park

Show: MCC presents 2nd annual Pipe Jam
Date: 09-06-2008
Where: Southern Humboldt Community Park
Price: $22 members/teens, $25 general

Details: Music by Fishbone, End of June, and more TBA. Pro Skate Demos by Frank Hirratta, Ryan Johnson, Gershon Mosely and more. Music, Food, Beer/Wine after dark. Gates open at noon, music till 11:00pm. $22 members/teens, $25 general, $10 children 5-12, children under 5 free. Proceeds benefit the So Hum Skate Ramp and MCC.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Night three

Obama officially nominated. I don't know what the final tally was, but I'll dig everything up later. It sounds like the Clinton delegates went quietly.

Bill Clinton just finished and they're playing the old Fleetwood Mac song which was the theme of his 92 campaign. On Fox Rove is already whining about the "exaggerations." From the beginning of the week he hasn't been able to conjure up even grudging compliments for anyone who has spoken. He doesn't even smile.

On CNN Carville is of course ready to canonize Clinton. Haven't been over to MSNBC yet.

More later.

Oh! KMUD has asked me to comment on air as they play the convention live from seven to nine tomorrow night. I'll be doing the same for McCain's acceptance next week. More as it evolves.


Addendum: I've got the kids tonight as my wife went to a much needed movie, so I haven't really been able to play close attention. But McCain dropped a bit of news tonight. Apparently he has chosen his VP candidate and will announce it tomorrow night after Obama's speech.

Lots of speculation, but this blogger found this ad on Youtube.

Biden's son Beau is introducing him now.

Second addendum: Biden spoke to me tonight. He said "Eric, I am not a weenie." Lots of "John McCain's my friend but..." talk tonight from Biden, Kerry, and others. He didn't just attack McCain, but he attacked McCain's judgment, which may be a turning point in Obama's strategy. That's not just attacking him on policy, but attacking his qualification to be president. Obama hasn't done that yet. The only one who has done this since the campaigns began is Mitt Romney.

Funny thing is, Rachel Maddow thinks Biden went easy on McCain. I think they were setting up a framework.

The PUMA moment fizzled. The media really overplayed the disgruntled Hillary supporter story.

Meanwhile, if you remember, religious right icon James Dobson and his followers have been praying for rain on Obama's outdoor speech tomorrow night. Well, the forecast is for good weather for Obama. But the prayers may have backfired as the Republicans may be splitting the television screen next week with Hurricane Gustav.

By the way, the "praying for rain" link above takes you to a blog which seriously suggests that Obama may be the anti-Christ.
Barack Obama may be the Antichrist, he has risen up out of no where, he mesmerizes crowds, people are gathering in huge numbers, he is likely becoming the next President of the United States. Do not look only to what I say, but look to your Bibles, to passages in John, Daniel, and Revelations.
You read it here first. The Beast of Revelations is on its way. Is Hillary therefor the Whore of Babylon?

The Beast comes from Photobucket.

Third addendum: According to this McCain campaign rep, there are no uninsured Americans. You have to read this to believe it.
But the numbers are misleading, said John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a right-leaning Dallas-based think tank. Mr. Goodman, who helped craft Sen. John McCain's health care policy, said anyone with access to an emergency room effectively has insurance, albeit the government acts as the payer of last resort. (Hospital emergency rooms by law cannot turn away a patient in need of immediate care.)

"So I have a solution. And it will cost not one thin dime," Mr. Goodman said. "The next president of the United States should sign an executive order requiring the Census Bureau to cease and desist from describing any American – even illegal aliens – as uninsured. Instead, the bureau should categorize people according to the likely source of payment should they need care.

"So, there you have it. Voila! Problem solved."

Reminds me of the old proposal to declare those receiving unemployment as employed for purposes of unemployment statistics, therefor eliminating unemployment.

Fourth addendum: The woman at the top is Tammy Duckworth who lost her legs in Iraq. The photo is from USA Today.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Richard Salzman's "occasional weblog"

Only a few posts so far, focusing on ATT's new contract imposing a waiver of court actions from its customers. You would have to rely on arbitration, and thus a pool of arbitrators conscious of the fact that they won't be chosen by ATT should they rule too often against the business - one of my objections to arbitration clauses.

Should be an interesting read as it develops. I'll put it up in my links later.


Convention night two

Well, I've been playing board games with the kids while trying to listen to the speeches and talking head babble. Let me try to catch up.


Give CNN credit. After Warner gave his somewhat intellectual and lackluster speech probably calculated to win him the Senate seat in Virginia all three cable news networks broke off into babble. None of them expected much news from a talk on energy policy from Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, but somebody was paying attention at CNN and they broke from the babble and celeb watching to cover what was a very articulate, charismatic and lively speech from a pol I'd never heard of until tonight. In a very midwestern wry manner he used some wit to explain the facts of life about oil, that we consume 25 percent of the world's oil and hold 3 percent of the reserves, and couldn't even come close to covering our needs with offshore and onshore drilling "even in every backyard of McCain's that he doesn't know about."

It was the first speech I saw that got into detailed specifics of policy, which is probably why the networks weren't covering it. But he brought up the bills McCain voted against for alternative energy source promotion, and made it very clear to anyone listening that drilling is no panacea, and that "the most important barrel is the one we don't use."

In conjunction with the Warner speech, boring as most of it was, where Warner criticized Bush for failing to make any requests of the American people post-911 (playing into Obama's Kennedy "yes we can" theme). The message, made in primetime - a conscious effort at conservation must be part of any comprehensive energy plan.

Eventually, Fox caught on (probably had somebody monitoring CNN), but MSNBC completely missed the boat. It had some of that "raw meat" Carville had been looking for (he got some from Casey as well). And as Fox broke off from the speech, Brit Hume felt compelled to counter with the argument that we don't have alternative energy technology sufficiently developed to make it part of an energy plan - kind of hypocritical given the arguments for offshore drilling increases are based on increased supplies years down the road.

Okay, Hillary's up. Be back later.


Well, it was a good speech. Probably the most important part was where she attempted to shame as selfish her PUMA supporters, asking them whether they were working just for her, or for the Iraq war veteran who needed help, etc. CNN went to one PUMA delegate afterwards, who was in tears and pledged that she won't vote for McCain, but isn't sure she's going to vote at all in November.

Upon completion of the speech I immediately switched from CNN to Fox. They aren't making any pretenses tonight. They had a panel of five right wingers. Kondracke and Krystal immediately criticized the speech for not specifically stating that Obama would make a good commander in chief. Lo and behold, two minutes later McCain released a press statement saying the very same thing. (Carville is laughing it off on CNN as I type). The blond woman on the panel from Fortune Magazine said something about the speech being great for Clinton's political future. Then Fred Barnes criticized it for being too feminist (this date being the 88th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment).

Oh, and by the way, the McCain ad with Hillary Clinton's quotes played on the first commercial break following her speech. It's hard for me to imagine that voters will be impressed with that, but then again, it's been hard for me to imagine a lot of tactics which have worked in the past. McCain's campaign, as expressed through their press statement, the timing of the ad, and their panel on Fox, seems petty to me. Again, like the negativity coming immediately following the Biden announcement, I've never seen anything like it. Not even in 1988.

Another kudos point for CNN. She mentioned the Democratic Party leader in Arkansas being killed and the death of the Congresswoman, and CNN immediately shot the camera up at Bill Clinton with whom the surviving family members in the seats by him. Neither MSNBC nor Fox apparently had the background info to know to do that.

More a little bit later.


Back to Schweizer for a minute. I think I may have been watching a future president. He may have been to this convention what Obama was four years ago.


Gergen and Carl Bernstein just agreed that whatever the Republicans say she didn't say and needed to be said will be said tomorrow, or the next day. Clinton will attend the acceptance speech Thursday night.


Addendum: Just to add my two cents, I did think the Democrats missed an opportunity tonight. They should have had Bill and Michelle sitting next to each other.

Found the clip I was looking for:

I haven't spent the past 35 years in the trenches advocating for children, campaigning for universal health care, helping parents balance work and family, and fighting for women's rights at home and around the world . . . to see another Republican in the White House squander the promise of our country and the hopes of our people.

And you haven't worked so hard over the last 18 months, or endured the last eight years, to suffer through more failed leadership.

No way. No how. No McCain.

Maybe I'm reading into it, but doesn't it seem like she's scolding the PUMA's like they were irresponsible kids?


Second addendum: I think Sebelius, while maybe a little more quiet, was a little more witty.
John McCain's version: There's no place like home...or a home...or a home...or a home...or a home...

Third addendum: ABC's tribute to Clinton's hairdos of the past. Kind of underscores a few points.


Fourth addendum: Kennedy's speech last night was given while he was in pain from kidney stones.


Rachel Maddow and Pat Buchanan debate McCain's POW defense

Addendum: A Wapo story on Rachel Maddow via a kos blog post. And yes, it does mention her sexual preference.

Second addendum: A great MYDD post on "why Rachel Maddow scares them."

Monday, August 25, 2008


Open thread for the geeks (like me) watching the convention

Ted Kennedy spoke. Didn't say much, but just the rise from the near-dead triumph of being there, speaking strongly, and longer than his alloted 4 minutes, was nice to watch even for my jaded self. He looks older than he did six months ago, but he didn't look ready to move on.


The Denver mayor, can't remember his name, made an interesting point about the spirit of the west and "rugged individualism," saying that there were more barn raisings in the west than shoot-outs, and that the land was not really settled and established by trappers and gunfighters, but rather by the wagon trains which required organization and collaboration, from the scouting parties to the cooking wagons - they wouldn't have made it alone. Hence, the history of the west is not about individualism, but cooperation and community.


The Aurora police followed up by the Feds may have broken up an assassination attempt today. Hard to know how organized it was, or whether those involved were competent enough to represent a real threat. Doesn't appear that they had much of a plan, and from the way they got caught I almost wonder if they wanted to get caught. Still, it has to rattle some Obama family nerves.


I'll update as anything interesting happens. If anything interesting happens. It does appear that the rumors of Clinton delegate disruptions on the floor were hyped up by the media. AP is reporting that some sort of deal has been struck about how to handle the roll-call votes following the nominations. Someone of Clinton's choosing will make a nominating speech on her behalf. It's supposed to be Kumbaya by the end of Wednesday night.

Looks like Hillary hardcore Rep. Debbie Schultz has made the transition to Obama. She says that Clinton's delegates will be towing the line.

Good for Obama. Bad for TV.


McCain on Leno - played the POW card again when asked about the houses. Pat Buchanan thinks the whole thing was scripted. It appears that will be his crutch throughout the campaign.


7:23 - If Wolf Blitzer is annoying you as much as he's annoying me, switch to MSNBC. They've got some decent talking heads over there.


7:56 - Well. Michelle did her job. It's going to be twice as hard to attack her. Not impossible. But harder.

Obama is appearing by video, waving to his wife and kids. Great political theater. Yeah, it's scripted. But very well scripted.

Olberman: "Case closed."

Matthews: "She's no longer 'the other.'"


8:16 - Well, MSNBC is singing Michelle's praises. CNN is saying she "saved the night," but harping on the lack of substance from the other speakers. Fox, ironically, is giving the convention better reviews than CNN, and Fred Barnes referred to Michelle as a "smart liberal" who rather than talking about how bad the country is, talks about the country as great and making it better. Nobody I've seen on Fox felt like they could diminish what she said. That's called a "home run."

But nobody's really attacked McCain or Bush tonight, which apparently drove Carville nuts. I expect the attacks will come tomorrow.


8:37 - Well, Karl Rove did it. He attached her as "cold" and called it an "impersonal stump speech. " Even Brit Hume cocked his head at Rove and asked "Really?"


Okay, Fox has recovered. Laura Ingraham is tearing into her for not kissing up to Hillary Clinton more, saying that the "cracks in the glass ceiling" is demeaning to the 18 million voters. Then Greta S. asked "well, isn't that her husband's job?" Ingraham responded, "well that's another point. Why is she speaking to the convention anyway?" Then she goes on to talk about how much money Michelle makes and what an elitist she is.


Estrich glossed over Michelle's speech and slammed the Democrats for not attacking McCain enough tonight. She then says that older women won't be moved by Michelle's speech. Doesn't explain why.

Okay, I've had enough. I'm switching back to one of the other networks.


8:49 - A 4th suspect has been arrested in connection with an alleged plot to shoot and kill Obama from "a high vantage point sited at 750 yards."


9:29 - I've just been watching four Republicans commenting on the night on the Larry King Show. Nothing really surprised me after the Fox memes, but what got to me was how grim and humorless the four were. I expect it from Mike Reagan, but I'd thought better of Ben Stein.


Now, my main criticism so far is that ridiculously gaudy stage. I looks like a pinball machine.


The war on arugula

I did previously crack a joke about arugula and lattes, but I swear I didn't make this Kos post. I think the poster is right, with Starbucks now found in every nook and cranny in the country it's hard to sell the latte as a symbol of elitism. Caviar is passe, and refers more to an economic elitism than a cultural elitism - something the Republicans definitely don't want to evoke this year. Same with saffron, which anyway finds its way into Americana cuisine despite it's heavy cost. And attacking sushi might generate some racial tension.

But arugula? It's just a plant. What's elitist about it? I'm told that it's actually much more widely available in Iowa shopping markets than California. It's grown there. The Olive Garden and Applebee's serve it. It's spicy lettuce. What's the bfd?

Maybe the arugula farmers need some PR. According to O Chef the leaf became "our national salad green" in the 1990s (when the Clintons were in office - huh). That was right about the time that salsa replaced ketchup as the number one selling condiment, so maybe the popularity triggered a new round of culture wars. However, my spellcheck program is underlining it, so it's definitely not in the Americana lexicon as far as Firefox is concerned.

Okay, I think I've tracked the arugula assault down to this controversy, such as it is.

Maybe the right should go after white truffles instead. Or feta cheese.

The arugula leaves come from Photobucket.

Addendum: Found this recipe for arugula and citrus vinaigrette at

* 1/3 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
* 1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
* 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
* salt to taste
* 6 ounces arugula - rinsed, dried and torn
* 1 pear, cored and sliced
* 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1. In a jar with a tight fitting lid, combine grapefruit juice, orange juice, olive oil, and salt. Shake vigorously.

2. In a salad bowl, combine arugula, pear, and red pepper. Drizzle dressing over salad, and toss to coat. Serve immediately.


Not quite Sam Cooke

Not quite LBJ's flower girl, nor Reagan's Indian vs. Bear either. But it's probably the best ad of the season so far, which isn't saying much.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


"Obama please don't suck"


Times Standard v. Eureka Reporter

The rivalry has found it's way to court. Heraldo has some details and there's a very long thread with some very interesting posts.

Addendum: Ouch! I've discussed the Bay Guardian lawsuit against the SF Weekly in the past, but I lost track of the story. The Bay Guardian won a verdict of 15.6 million dollars!

Of course, in that case the SF Weekly execs were actually on record as saying they wanted to put the Bay Guardian out of business, and sold ads at a loss of 25 million over 12 years to accomplish the same.


Maureen Dowd on the POW card

Obviously this is a very tricky issue for Democrats. For someone who claims to be reticent about talking up his Vietnam service, he's going to the well on this early and often. We discussed it to some degree on my radio show last Thursday night, and we've already seen what happened to Wes Clark for even suggesting that the experience doesn't qualify McCain for leadership of the western world.

Dowd takes it head on. She's already the dragon lady to many people who's already pissed just about everybody off at some point, and her iconoclasm is her stock and trade anyway. Here are some excerpts from her column:
My mom did not approve of men who cheated on their wives. She called them “long-tailed rats.”

During the 2000 race, she listened to news reports about John McCain confessing to dalliances that caused his first marriage to fall apart after he came back from his stint as a P.O.W. in Vietnam.

I figured, given her stringent moral standards, that her great affection for McCain would be dimmed.

“So,” I asked her, “what do you think of that?”

“A man who lives in a box for five years can do whatever he wants,” she replied matter-of-factly.

I was startled, but it brought home to me what a powerful get-out-of-jail-free card McCain had earned by not getting out of jail free.


So it’s hard to believe that John McCain is now in danger of exceeding his credit limit on the equivalent of an American Express black card. His campaign is cheapening his greatest strength — and making a mockery of his already dubious claim that he’s reticent to talk about his P.O.W. experience — by flashing the P.O.W. card to rebut any criticism, no matter how unrelated. The captivity is already amply displayed in posters and TV advertisements.

She goes on to list the issues for which the card has been played: infidelity to his first wife; his offering up of his present wife to bikers for a topless dancing contest; his lack of memory about the number of homes he owns; allegations that he cheated at the Faith Forum by listening to the questions ahead of time; and as an explanation for his music preference for Abba.

As I argued Thursday night, he can only go to that well so many times. He'll get a lot of slack, but he's resorting to the card on topics which are wholly unrelated, and gradually making the case that maybe while we should feel badly for him and recognize his sufferings as a contribution to country, maybe the very same experience actually disqualifies him from arguably the most stressful job on the planet. He's making it an issue.

The column was brought to my attention by this Kos blogger (I've been spending a lot of time there today). Biden took a swipe at him yesterday.

McCain's response? “I spent some years without a kitchen table, without a chair..."

Subtle. I guess Biden should be shamed. Right? Because any attack on McCain is an attack on his service, and a cheap shot because he suffered severely for five years.

Is voting against him in bad taste as well? Maybe we should just skip the election.

Or maybe this will wear thin. McCain doesn't think so. As "reticent" as he is, he's going to be releasing a new ad.
They will be prepared to show McCain's "home" in Hanoi by using images of his cell. They claim they have not overused the POW element and insist they have "underused it."


Whitewashing Olympian biography

This blogger at Daily Kos brought my attention to this story. He accuses NBC of censorship.
For those of you who watched the Olympics last night, you saw one of the great upsets - Australian Matthew Mitcham winning the gold medal in the men's 10 metre platform. He won on his last dive, defeating the favored Chinese contestant, and preventing the host nation from sweeping all 8 metals in diving.

It was an emotional moment - Mitcham collapsed in tears when he realized he had won.

But in an Olympics where personal struggle and biographical background was a rule, NBC made a decision to not tell Mitcham's history-making detail. And their decision is shameful.

The blogger cites the Sydney Morning Herald's coverage:

From teenage retirement to Royal Easter Show high-diver to gay icon to gold Olympic medallist, Matthew Mitcham's journey to success has been an amazing roller-coaster.

Mitcham's pulled off a stunning final dive in the 10 metre platform, scoring an incredible four perfect 10s, to steal the gold off favourite Chinese diver Luxin Zhou. Mitcham finished with 537.95 points.

It was a massive upset, defeating the premier and form Chinese divers Liang Huo and Luxin Zhou in front of a fierce home crowd.

Mitcham, 20, battled depression, retired in his teenage years after physical and emotional burn-out, then just nine months later resumed his sport in 2007. Last night, his triumphant return to the sport was crowned with gold.

The blogger is wrong about this gentleman being the first, although it might be a temporal issue. Greg Louganis, who won medals for America in the 1980s, came out in 1994 (and lost almost all of his corporate sponsorship). The rumors had been out for years, and Wheaties had already decided against putting him on the box stating that there weren't adequate indications of "heroism," despite the fact that Louganis had cracked his head open on the platform during a dive and continued to participate anyway, going on to win the gold medal with the very same dive which had caused his injury.

According to Outsports, most of the media is as silent on who this person is as NBC, including the New York Times. The LA Times did better.

Photo comes from Photobucket.

Addendum: Here's a link to the medal ceremony. The guy's enjoying himself.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Fox News

So I went to soccer jamboree in Fortuna today, and an afternoon birthday party. I missed the live broadcast of the rally. I got back to Sohum in the late afternoon and spent a couple of hours flipping between the three cable news networks. For about half the time I watched Fox and I really got a feel for profound difference in coverage between Fox and the other stations.

Not to say that any of the coverage was particularly insightful or brilliant, but on CNN and MSNBC I repeatedly saw clips from Biden's speech followed by talking head analysis of mixed levels of value. In the at minimum 45 minutes of Fox viewing I saw no clips of Biden's speech - not one. I would say about 25 percent of the time was spent on McCain's theme of Biden's former slights about Obama's experience when Biden was running for president. ALL of the rest of the time was spent discussing how much the choice pissed off Clinton supporters, bringing in whatever Democrats they could find to support the meme (Susan Estrich, a former Clinton campaign representative I didn't recognize, etc.) with alleged journalist Geraldo Rivera saying he was "pissed" that Clinton was passed over.

Putting politics aside, are there any conservatives here who truly believe that Fox is anything other than an Republican front effort? Seriously. You don't have to post your names. Do you really believe it's "fair and balanced?" I've watched Fox for years now, and I've never been a fan. But it's not even that it's biased. It appears to be an integral part of the RNC ground game, right down to the campaign strategy. Fox isn't a 527, so it can as a matter of law coordinate with the campaign.

It's amazing watching the Republican spokespeople interviewed on all three networks. They all express deep indignation at the fact that Clinton wasn't even vetted. I hope Hillary Clinton is truly touched by all this Republican compassion and concern for her feelings. Maybe she'll express her gratitude on Tuesday evening.

On the failure to vet, this is from the NYT:
Hillary Rodham Clinton, who ran so closely to Obama in the primary, was never seriously considered, said two officials involved with the search. She asked not to be vetted unless she was going to be picked, the two officials said, speaking on a condition of anonymity to describe the private discussions.
Addendum: Here's the croc tears ad from McCain. Any doubt that the exact same footage would have been trotted out had Clinton been chosen? Duh.

It's a pretty safe bet that McCain won't choose Mitt Romney, who called McCain a liar on several occasions for claiming that Romney supported timetables for withdrawal.


It's Joe

MSNBC is reporting that McCain is already going negative, within moments of the announcement. I'm trying to remember if that's happened in the past. To my memory most campaigns have waited a day or so, especially so close to the convention.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Comparing the tax plans

Daily Kos just brought my attention to this WaPo article, which contains the graphic below.

Click on the image to enlarge. Then pass it around. That is, if you support Obama.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


All Things Reconsidered program note

Tonight I'll be talking presidential campaign politics. All of my regular co-hosts are out of town. I may have someone to yammer with me, but otherwise if you don't call in I'll be conducting my own on-air filibuster for the whole hour (I'm bringing water just in case). That's at 7:00 p.m. on KMUD.

We (or I) will be discussing Veepstakes, the ground Obama has lost in recent weeks, the potential impact of third party candidates, etc.

Addendum: It turns out that the McCains own 12 houses.


How many houses does John McCain own? He'll get back to you.

Obama's people are hitting hard on this one, and on McCain's comment last weekend defining a "rich" person as someone who makes 5 million a year. Presumably if you bring in a mere 4 million you're a working stiff.

It's probably Obama's best tack. Better I think than Andrew Sullivan's attack yesterday. Granted, it's not an attack on McCain personally, but the subtlety is liable to be missed by most. It's an attack on the Bush/McCain torture policy, and it's a clever argument. I just don't think anyone should go there. Even if it's not sanctioned by Obama, and it probably isn't, it's the type of tack which could hurt him anyway. Sullivan argues that under Bush's definition of torture, McCain wasn't tortured as a POW. Playing with fire. We saw what happened to General Wes Clark for saying that being shot down in combat does not qualify one to be president. General Clark did not denigrate McCain's military service in any way, but the media just isn't that astute.

Meanwhile, all indications are to Joe Biden as VP. But all indications have often been wrong. Nothing is slipping out of the Obama camp yet.

And Corsi's book is getting slammed by a handful of conservatives.

Addendum: It's hard to believe McCain pulled this stunt, but apparently he's got a weapon and he's ready to use it. From Talking Points Memo:

The McCain campaign is road-testing a new argument in responding to Obama's criticism of his number-of-houses gaffe, an approach the McCain camp has never tried before: The houses gaffe doesn't matter because ... he was a POW!

"This is a guy who lived in one house for five and a half years -- in prison," spokesman Brian Rogers told the Washington Post.

For those of you who haven't kept track, the McCain campaign just recently cited McCain's POW years in explaining away the Miss Buffalo Chip gaffe, and in dealing with the allegation that he broke the rules and listened in on Barack Obama during the Rick Warren forum.

Also, Rogers made sure to play the anti-intellectual card: "In terms of who's an elitist, I think people have made a judgment that John McCain is not an arugula-eating, pointy headed professor-type based on his life story."

So is this going to be the response from here on in any time McCain runs into some criticism?

Second addendum: McCain's bad day.

Third addendum: McCain's hitting back, and just before the Democratic Convention where the Democrats will literally be lining up to take McCain down. It's going to get ugly.

This one's precious.
McCain strategists hope that Obama's brass knuckles punch doesn't work. "Americans don't like this class warfare stuff," the official said. They aspire to be rich, the official said. They don't aspire to eat arugala or hang out with celebrities.
Newsflash: Americans do respond to class politics when there's a major recession and certain companies are making record profits. And by the way, the arugala remark is "class warfare" at its most vulgar.

And why are they picking on arugala? Pick on lattes!

Fourth addendum: Time has two GOP sources who say McCain has settled on Mitt Romney for VP.

Obama, meanwhile, says he's made his decision, but he's mum. It'll be announced on Saturday morning probably. The talking heads are saying Biden.

Why is Obama waiting? A suggestion from the Fix, blame McCain:
One other interesting side note about the housing story: If Obama's campaign had planned to roll out their vice presidential pick at any point today, that announcement is likely to be put on hold. Why? The campaign believes the story about McCain's many houses is political gold and they won't want to step on it with a veep announcement that would immediately change the day's storyline.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Johanna the spoiler?

I recently heard an interesting twist of analysis of the Second District race from Estelle's camp. The spin goes as follows. The June election was weighted conservative. Low turnout. Come November, we'll be in a hot presidential race. High turnout. More Democrats. Estelle is the only Democrat.

So more voters expand the whole pie to Estelle's benefit, and Joanna, whose name won't be on the ballot itself, draws Fortuna votes away from Clif. Estelle does so well in a heavier turnout outlying areas and draws a few more in Fortuna, she slips by both of them.

It sounded better when explained to me, and I'm probably missing a step in the logic. But even with a higher turnout, I just don't see the math. Estelle is actually going to lose some of her June support from those who absolutely don't want Johanna to win. Clif went toe to toe with Roger - in Roger's strongholds. And he did it with the least amount of money, and with local punditry writing him off early on (including rumors of a privately commissioned poll in which Clif was "not even a factor"). Something about his campaign quietly resonated. I'll be writing more about that in the near future.

Anyway, time to kick things off again. How about some early scenario predictions? Will the presidential race cavalry carry Estelle to the finish? Will she lose significant numbers of Sohum votes to Clif? Can a write-in candidacy win this race?


Feds moving forward on three of the forfeiture actions

The Times Standard has a few details. Not many.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Rachel Maddow gets her own show

Keith Olberman reports and preempts the questions.
Let me answer the key questions in advance:

1) No, she will not be serving as a VeeJay introducing music clips or cartoons.

2) No, I don't think we have the name of the show chosen yet. She wanted to use "Countdown With Keith Olbermann" and I said, that's where I draw the line.

3) No, the format isn't set, though there have been a lot of discussions out there and they have all centered on how to best allow her to both give her laser-quality insights while soliciting the opinions of others.

4) Yes, I had something to do with it.

5) Yes, you had something to do with it.

6) Yes, this is why I never really responded to any of the 41,754 comments that all pretty much read "And get Rachel her own show, nitwit."

7) No, I'm not sure it will replay later in the evening but I bloody well hope so.

8) Yes, I did like the description of her in The Nation: "Everything about her radiates competence and a deft, bright careerism."

9) Billy Loes. A teammate of Hodges in 1950, an opponent of Adcock in 1954, an opponent of Colavito in 1959, a teammate of Mays in 1961.

10) No, this actually happened pretty quickly. Less than five months between first paid appearance and own show is pretty fast. I believe I still hold the MSNBC record: I came back to guest host for three days in 2003 and 39 days later I had a contract to do the 8 PM show. With people as talented like Rachel, getting it locked down quickly is a good thing.

11) No, I have no idea who will start guest hosting Countdown. Took me five years to find her.

Why didn't I think of this! She can't be the guest host any more! I knew I'd forgotten something!

12) No, there will not be pie. Well, you may bring your own pie, but I can't be bothered with pie now! I have to go find another guest host. Dammit.
I find Maddow to be one of the few refreshing voices in Talking Head Land. I really hope a replay of her show, or any news show, replaces those lame and depressing documentaries about the prisons.

I wonder if this means she'll cancel her Air America show. On the other hand, O'Reilly and Hannity do both.

Photo comes from photobucket.

Addendum: Wow! She's replacing Dan Abrams! I'm glad she's getting her own show, but I like Abrams' show too. Well, I guess that's life on the food chain.

She's a lesbian by the way. That's an important part of her story.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Press release from Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters


Tree Sitters Descend When New Owners Humboldt Redwood Co. Deliver Message Directly to Them

Eureka, CA-Community residents and forest activists from the redwood region and far beyond Humboldt County in Northern California, were relieved and elated as news spread of an unprecented commitment by Humboldt Redwood Company (HRC) owners of what was Maxxam/PL land to spare the Nanning Creek and Fern Gully ancient groves where tree-sits have been keeping chain saws at bay. The message was delivered directly to tree-sitters and included a commitment to further protect from future cutting all old growth 250 years old or more.

"Old Growth now included in old PL timber harvest plans will be taken out of those plans", said HRC president and chief forester, Mike Jani, in an interview with KMUD radio in Garberville last week. This in itself is a significant change from company CEO Sandy Dean's position of just two months ago, when he stated, on KMUD and in the San Francisco Chronicle on Aug. 29, that HRC would be finishing up the former owners' harvest plans and that it would "take time" to switch over to the new forestry methods.

Equally stunning was the manner chosen by forester Jani to convey the message, delivering it directly to the forest defender tree sitters themselves. He hiked in to Nanning Creek and the Fern Gully treesit in Freshwater, near Eureka. Activists have been treesitting in these areas to protect old growth for the past three years. Both the Nanning and Fern Gully THP's are due to expire in late fall of 2008.

Approaching the ancient tree called "Spooner" in Nanning Creek near Rio Dell, Genai called to the sitters to let them know it was safe for them to come down. Safe for whom, the sitters wanted to know, themselves, or the tree? After receiving assurances that no harm would come to either, the sitters descended to dialog with the forester. They expressed deep gratitude to the company for sparing these and other such irreplaceable trees left standing on lands recently acquired by HRC when Maxxam/PL's long bankruptcy case was settled. The activists said they believe that if the terms of No logging of old growth, No clearcuts, No herbicides are followed there would be no need for treesits.

Jani praised the tree sitters for their perseverance and dedication to the cause, telling them the trees are still standing because of their actions. The trees were then unmarked and "no cut" tape was strung around the groves. A small amount of strictly limited second growth may be logged near the Nanning Creek grove, but otherwise, "it will never be a THP again", said Jani.

HRC has also upgraded the marbled murreltt habitat at Fern Gully to a higher category of protection, from PL.'s previous level 'C' to level 'A'. The Fern Gully grove is near Freshwater, the site of multiple tree sits and fierce protests against PL's attempts to cut ancient trees in 2003.

"It feels a bit surreal", said local teacher, long time activist and tree sit supporter, Jeannette Jungers, in response to the news. "Mike Jani and the company deserve our heartfelt thanks, for adopting a more sustainable, respectful, and we hope, restorative kind of forestry". Regarding Jani's kind words for the tree sitters, Jungers said: " It feels like going from being considered an environmental terrorist to being a hero in one fell swoop!" Hermes, a forest activist who had spent a year defending old growth in Freshwater he was momentarily speechless when told the news, adding " This has to be one of the happiest days in my life".

Some important questions remain: for example, the accelerated harvest of the last two decades under Maxxam management has left PL holdings depleted and streams ravaged. After Maxxam's takeover in 1985, the cut soared to nearly 300% of replacement inventory, sparking the most massive forest protest campaign to 'Save the Old Growth' and apply sustainable forest practices ever seen in the country to date.

"When MRC/HRC CEO Sandy Dean says HRC is going to cut 30% less than PL did, that could still be too much", said Naomi Wagner, another long term North Coast resident, activist and forest watcher . "What we need to look at is rate of harvest compared to their forest inventory.

"We'll be keeping an eye on them", said a Fern Gully treesitter, "to make sure they don't clearcut under the guise of 'variable retention' or 'group selection' (intensive forestry methods), or start spraying herbicides". He also added a hope that other companies, like Green Diamond (formerly Simpson timber) and Sierra Pacific Company (SPI), whose practices are still largely ecologically damaging would follow the example of a move to better practices.

Mendocino county resident and activist Mary Korte said she celebrated the preservation of old growth anywhere, but she mourned the loss of the old-growth in Mendocino county, where the same Fisher family that owns HRC runs Mendocino Redwood Co.

"Time will tell if the company will keep its promises--if so, it will be a new day for forestry in Humboldt county, and truly, an end to the timber wars as we knew them", declared Jungers' "What a relief!"

Photos of Jani's visit to the tree-sits can be found at http://www.forestde 2008/08/13/ mike-jani- promises- that-fern- gully-and- nanning-creek- tree-villages- are-saved/


Karen Pickett Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters 2530 San Pablo Ave. Berkeley, California 94702 510-548-3113 bach@HeadwatersPres

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Wiggins wiggout aftermath

The Times Standard has some follow-up to the story, best summarized by Hank. Youtube is becoming a key political factor in American politics. The video, so far watched by over 30 thousand (and usually there's more than one posting on Youtube, so the viewership could be larger) attracting attention from at least one national blog (thanx to Hank for the link, although I think your eyes will veer towards the rather risque American Apparel ad before reaching the article), and the good Reverend is apparently milking the victim theme for all it's worth.

To be sure, I have no idea what got Wiggins dander up about what he was saying. I was actually falling asleep listening to the guy before she interjected. And kudos to the chair's excellent reflexes in smoothing it over. If there was some undercurrent agenda based on some ongoing exchange between the Reverend (as his subsequent kvetching would suggest) and members of whatever committee that was, then she owes the public more of an explanation.

Wiggins was clearly inappropriate, but I don't remember the same level of outrage when VP Cheney cussed Senator Pat Leahy out on the Senate floor some time back. The media narrative was along the lines of "he's plain talking and that's why America loves him." Maybe the difference has to do with the out-of-the-blue impression, but maybe there's also a double-standard at play?

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Red State Recipe

Every year my wife enters her food and textile creations with the County Fair (this year she took a blue ribbon on almost everything she entered, and my son got a red ribbon for his brownies). A few years ago I started submitting a few of my own desserts. I've won a ribbon here and there, but never a blue!

One year I entered my best pie - sour cream banana. They didn't get it. No ribbon. That same year Joe Hiney entered his apple custard pie, also winning no ribbon. Being guys, we had to find an excuse. Our first was that we were discriminated against as men, a theory dashed upon the rocks of our poor sportsmanship as it turns out the judging is done blind. Maybe our masculinity shone through the food, but instead we switched to an even more condescending theory. The judges being from Ferndale (actually, we had no idea where they were from) just didn't get our sophisticated blue state recipes. Basically, we were discriminated against as liberals. That's what we concluded anyway. So this year I set out to prove the theory.

I entered oatmeal butterscotch cookies stealing the recipe Cindy McCain stole from Hershey's (erroneously believed by many to have been stolen from Rachael Ray, but McCain stole a chicken recipe from her, not cookies). I wanted to test my red state theory, and what can be more red state than a Republican recipe stolen from a company in the red, um, well, almost red state of Pennsylvania?

So I called up the recipe and on my way home earlier in the week I stopped at the Co-op in Eureka to do my shopping. I guess there's no hippie brand of butterscotch chips (wouldn't have been authentically red state anyway as I thought about it) so I had to stop at Raye's. Unfortunately, they had Nestle's, not Hershey's (perhaps that was my undoing). Later that night I whipped up the cookies. I altered the recipe slightly because there was about a quarter cup of chips left after measuring them out and I didn't have anything else to do with them (perhaps that was my undoing).

The cookies were way too sweet for my (blue state) taste, perfect for my innate blue condescension. Even downing them with a latte didn't work (actually, I just made that up. Blue as I am, I don't really like lattes). So I cheerfully submitted them, confident that Cindy/Hershey's would deliver for me. But alas, no ribbon. So went my cookies, and my theory about the judges.

There is hope for the salvaging of my condescending ways however. Maybe it was Cindy M. who failed me. What if Cindy McCain is a closet blue state cook? She did lift the chicken recipe from Rachael Ray, who's apparel aesthetic is not just blue, but "terror chic." Never mind that my cookies were too sweet. Maybe it was a blue state kind of too much sweet, like egg nog lattes, or, flan drenched in syrup or something. I'll have to develop this theory and concoct some sort of test next year.

And no actually, it can't be an issue of my execution! I took two semesters of home economics in Jr. high school and I watch Iron Chef regularly. I should know what I'm doing.

Cookie photo comes from photobucket.


Zenia fires

Ed has some striking photos.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Appellate Court overturns Tooby decision

Times Standard coverage.

The decision (pdf)

I won't be commenting as I have have clients involved.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Reggae Riding this weekend

Click on the image to enlarge.


What is KEET's problem? (update - it's not KEET's problem)

This morning my daughter wanted to watch Sesame Street. We had audio, but no video. It seems like this happens often to KEET, mostly during the children's programming. I've never seen it happen to other PBS stations, yet it happens to KEET regularly. Are they so short on funds they can't fix whatever the problem is? It's been happening on a periodic basis for years.

Maybe they ought to hold a special fund raiser to address the problem.

Addendum: Okay, my whining got some attention from KEET and they believe it may be a problem with the cable converter (from digital to analog) which needs to be reset when the problem happens.

Apologies to KEET and I or one of the other 300 cable customers should contact them the next time it happens.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008



That's the cost of Operation Southern Sweep according to the Eureka Reporter, which obtained the information via the languishing Freedom of Information Act. That is, that's the cost to the California DOJ. I'm not sure that includes any costs of prior and subsequent investigation and it doesn't include the costs to the federal agencies involved. According to the report the IRS is refusing to comply stating that they are exempt because disclosure would “reveal law enforcement techniques, procedures and guidelines protected” by the exceptions to the FOIA. Oh, and they claim to have lost the records anyway.

Credit the ER. They're going to appeal the refusal.

Meanwhile, the FBI appears to be giving the ER a bureaucratic runaround. The ER is in the process of submitting requests to the DEA and Post Office.

Still no arrests, though forfeiture actions have been taken.


Alan Colmes has a spine

I casually dismissed a suggestion made by a friend of mine that John Edwards' affair might hurt McCain more than Obama, but this clip has changed my mind. McCain didn't want infidelity of public officials coming out at all this election cycle and here's why.

First, let me say that I think Colmes gets a bad rap from progressives who want their talking heads to act like the Hannitys and O'Reillys of the world. Colmes has a soft-sell approach which gets the point across even if it doesn't satisfy those who are looking for zingers and overpowering obnoxiousness to match the right. But in this clip, Colmes asserts himself, takes the the hypocrisy by the throat and refuses to let it go. The question of the day appears to be whether you can trust someone's oath of office when he can't honor his oath of marriage. Colmes wouldn't let Hannity interrupt him and forced three right wingers to come up with the dumbest defenses of McCain's infidelity (he suffered as a prisoner in Vietnam, it's been vetted, it was 30 years ago).

The timing is awkward for McCain as it appears he may have obtained his marriage license to Cindy before he was officially divorced to his first wife, technically making him a polygamist.


Meanwhile, Republicans for Obama may be adding Gen. Colin Powell to it's list.


Addendum: Rush Limbaugh on why John Edwards committed adultery:
We know -- we've been told that Elizabeth Edwards is smarter than John Edwards. That's part of the puff pieces on them that we've seen. Ergo, if Elizabeth Edwards is smarter than John Edwards, is it likely that she thinks she knows better than he does what his speeches ought to contain and what kind of things he ought to be doing strategy-wise in the campaign? If she is smarter than he is, could it have been her decision to keep going with the campaign? In other words, could it be that she doesn't shut up? Now, that's as far as I'm going to go.


I'm sorry, my friends, I just -- I can't. It just seems to me that Edwards might be attracted to a woman whose mouth did something other than talk.
He's very proud of that.

Second addendum: More election news. This ad is getting lots of blog play, but there's a move to put it on television in some battleground states.

Meanwhile, Jackson Browne is suing McCain for unlicensed use of his song.


Open season on liberals in the south?

An unemployed gunman opened up on the Arkansas Democratic Party Chair Bill Gwatney, who is reported to be in critical condition. He was at the Democratic Party HQ when it happened.

This is on the heels of a similar event in Tennessee.

Should southern liberals start packing? Yes, that's a double entendre.

Addendum: you know, none of the people whose books were found in the Knoxville killer's home has bothered to comment on that incident in any way. But maybe some of their quotes need sunlight. No, I don't believe it should be prohibited by law. But if liberals talked like this, there'd be hell to pay.

From MYDD:
Rush Limbaugh: "I tell people don't kill all the liberals. Leave enough so we can have two on every campus -- living fossils -- so we will never forget what these people stood for."

Stop the ACLU [post since removed]:

Rope + Tree + ACLU Lawyer = Pinata

Ann Coulter: "We need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens' creme brulee. ... That's just a joke, for you in the media."

Melanie Morgan: "A great deal of good could be done by arresting Bill Keller having him lined up against the wall and shot."

Lee Rogers: "[T]he day will come when unpleasant things are going to happen to a bunch of stupid liberals and it's going to be very amusing to watch."

Bill O'Reilly: They ought to hang this Soros guy.
The list doesn't even touch on the volume, and they didn't even get to Michael Savage.

Second addendum: Bill Gwatney is dead.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


We don't need an EIR. We have Jesus!

Talking Points Memo has this remarkable quote from Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.
"[Pelosi] is committed to her global warming fanaticism to the point where she has said that she's just trying to save the planet," Bachmann told the right-wing news site OneNewsNow. "We all know that someone did that over 2,000 years ago, they saved the planet -- we didn't need Nancy Pelosi to do that."
It was Jesus who single-handedly passed CERCLA and the Air Quality Act and overrode the vetos. He obviously had some seniority on the Ways and Means Committee.

TPM also notes her biological opinion that there is no wildlife at ANWR. She also believes that the Democrats want to raise the price of gasoline to force everybody into inner city ghettos.


Media predictability quiz

When you go to your Yahoo page and see a headline like this:
The Chinese and U.S. women's gymnastics teams battle it out for Olympic glory. » Find out who won
Without hitting the link, can you tell who won?

Addendum: Borowitz - an American swimmer was sent home because he's boring.

Monday, August 11, 2008


"Freedom Fetish" - left or right?

Some months ago on another forum I received the following message from a right wing friend of mine - a very articulate and dynamic individual who sometimes comes here to post. We debate a whole gamut of topics, but they tend to revolve around an ongoing discussion as to whether freedom/liberty meet more opposition from the left or right. We on the left love to argue that the conservative would keep the government out of your wallet but invite it into your bedroom. The right looks to hate speech codes and demonstrations aimed at silencing conservative speakers on college campuses deemed reactionary or racist. Leftists have called for censorship of Mark Twain for overt racism. Right wingers call for banning of, well, everything from Where the Wild Things Are to Judy Blume. This gentleman and I have argued the issue in much detail, and ultimately whether the concept of freedom in inherent in free market ideology or whether authoritarianism exists independent of any particular economic framework.

In that context, I received the following message.
Funny, a leftist professor friend of mine sent me this. Hey Eric? If
they weren't enemies and the Left wasn't against the idea itself, the
Left wouldn't attack freedom as a "fetish".

This is an admission that you're not involved in some "complicated
relationship" with freedom: it's just not in your interest.
The problem is, he didn't read his leftist professor's link very carefully. Maybe he should have suspected something given the source. It happens to the best of us. My response:
Jim, did you even read that piece? First of all, it was an argument for freedom. Secondly, the context of the term "freedom fetishist" was a designation given to "libertarians" who want to keep the government out of the bedroom. Hello Jim! That's your side.

But just in case he was mixing things up, I decided to google the term. I noticed also that the phrase wasn't hyperlinked. It cooked up 9 hits, including your friend's article. All 9 hits are to professed libertarians embracing the term in defiance of some force of political correctness which has labeled them as such. The problem is, there is no such reference from anybody on the left, pc or otherwise.

So then I looked up "freedom fetish." It all began with this WSJ op ed piece, a very well thought essay on the limitations of the libertarian philosophy. The title arose from this paragraph.
On the one hand, libertarians make a fetish of freedom; it is their totalizing goal. On the other hand, libertarians depend on the family--an institution that, in crucial respects, is unfree--to produce the sort of people best suited to life in a free-market system (not to mention future members of their own movement). The complex, dynamic economy that libertarians have done so much to expand needs highly advanced human capital--that is, individuals of great moral, cognitive and emotional sophistication. Reams of social-science research prove that these qualities are best produced in traditional families with married parents."
Oh, by the way. The article first appeared in Commentary. The author, Kay Hymowitz, is a conservative.

So maybe somewhere the left does say that equality and freedom are enemies. But that's not what you found. Your "freedom is fetish" meme? Again, that's your side, not mine.
I've encountered atheist conservatives who basically argue that if you removed some of the religious authoritarianism from the equation, conservatism would be left with a libertarian slant. True to a certain extent, but not all secular conservatives are libertarian. At its core, conservatism is premised on the "prejudice" proposed by Edmund Burke, a quasi-ecological view of society which holds that the organic nature of enduring institutions mandates their perpetuity for the sake of order and the health of the society. The rules and mores of society which seem anachronistic and arbitrary to the "age of reason" premised liberals have evolved with society and become so integral that their sudden removal or undermining can cause serious upheaval and even the unraveling of social order in which the weak are protected. Even my friend, who says it's leftists who hate freedom, laments the loss of stigma to control behavior. The problem is that stigma carries power and is carried by power and often requires government backing, in the form of blue laws or some sort of moral code enforced by sanctions, since we obviously can't be trusted with pure reason. Life would be "nasty, brutish, and short." So goes the argument.

I would agree certainly that rational minds can hold this view. But it is, by definition, authoritarian as opposed to libertarian. It makes sense that a conservative would call a libertarian a "freedom fetishist."

Tomorrow night, if I get the chance, I'll take inventory of left and right wing expressions of authoritarianism and libertarianism to continue the discussion. I suppose we should consider whether Stalinist Communism, in practice the most authoritarian left wing ideology, is so by nature of components of the ideology itself, or by the circumstances it inevitably brings about (such as a "vanguard party" with no checks or balances other than the "force of history").

Saturday, August 09, 2008


Tense Olympic moment?

I was just glancing over the medal results for this day (actually, tomorrow's results - it's tomorrow in China) and wondered if there happened an awkward moment. In the women's 10m air pistol contest Wenjun Guo of China took the gold. As she accepted the medal, she would have stood between two athletes of currently warring countries. Natalia Paderina of Russia took the silver. Nino Salukvadze of Georgia took the bronze. I'm sure the women know each other and probably like each other, but I wonder how the conflict impacted their post contest behavior towards each other. Even if they didn't want to make it personal, they'd probably have to be very cautious how they're seen back home.

In another time they would have been teammates. In 1988 she represented the Soviet Union. I'm having trouble accessing her Olympics profile page.

Meanwhile, Soviet jets reportedly attacked a Georgian oil pipeline.

I once read that the Soviet water polo team faced Hungary shortly after the invasion of the 1950s and the water turned red from the blood. I haven't seen any photos so I wonder if it was an exaggeration.

Addendum: I was right. It was a tense moment, but not between the women. Appearances for back home appears to have been the last on their minds. From Reuters:
Georgia's Nino Salukvadze, who almost left the Games earlier on Sunday with her 35-member team over a conflict with Russia at home, took bronze. After putting down her pistol on her final shot, she wiped tears from her eyes.

Russia's Paderina, who had led after the qualifying round, might have been rattled when there was no applause as she was introduced to the crowd of 2,000 spectators. There had been warm applause for the other finalists and loud cheering for Guo.

Salukvadze took the bronze medal after moving up from fourth place after qualifying.

Salukvadze, who won a silver medal in this event for the Soviet Union in 1988, had remained calm throughout the final and overtook Munkzul Tsogbadrah of Mongolia in the final to get on the podium.

She congratulated the winner and then she and Paderina shook hands and embraced.

There's more in the story through the link. So far I haven't located any photos of the medal ceremony.

Second addendum: Found one on the official Olympics site.

Third addendum: There was also this random tragedy casting a pall on the Olympics.

But Phelps took a gold, and the US swept the medals in fencing, of all sports.


Joe Lieberman being vetted for McCain VP

Some saw this coming.

Probably won't happen though, not unless Lieberman dumps the pro-choice position.

Meanwhile, Obama is making a serious play for Nevada with this ad.

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