Saturday, May 3, 2008


Lorenzo: the Flying French Man

h/t Andrew Sullivan

More horse stuff from alatebo in France.

Sufei Saturday

Bad Boys of Beijing. Sorry, I'm addicted.

What Happened? Lincoln Chaffee's Take

It started with the tax cuts, according to former Sen. Lincoln Chaffee, who switched parties to become a Democrat, lost re-election in Rhode Island, and has a new book out.
He supports Barack Obama.
Compelling reading, disturbing insight, fairly short.

To me, the tax cut was a stalking horse. The Cheney-Bush strategy behind the cut was to set the tone—to preempt the Congress not just on taxes but on every issue. It would tame any future resistance to a radical agenda by serving up this politically irresistible prize: lawmakers could go home and say they had voted to cut taxes. The White House was out to neuter Congress, and the minute Congress rolled over for the cuts, it set the stage for one-branch rule in America and all the consequences we live with today. The two aggressive personalities at the top of the executive branch had tested the Congress and had found it lacking. A coequal branch of government? In their wisdom, the Founders had given us power to respond when events demand that we check and balance an unwise president. I looked around in the Senate and saw few who had the courage to wield that vital power.

Also, Arcana Saturday

University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
From the Digital Scriptorum at Columbia University. Surf through highlights here.

Frogs 'N Toads Saturday

Why not? Look and listen.

P.S. Please congratulate me. This is the first time I have managed to embed an audio clip. It's actually quite simple, but it took awhile to find the simple instructions.

Doin' The Math

I don't do it, Josh Marshall at TPM does. Hillary and Barack don't have time to go after McCain, so others are picking up the slack.

I'd also forgotten that back in September, when President Bush first rolled out the Korea model of the permanent occupation of Iraq which Sen. McCain (R) has now embraced as his platform, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office did a study of what a 50 year 'Korea model' presence in Iraq would cost.

The study was done with highly conservative estimates, figuring a much smaller contingent of troops, and basically all the best case scenario numbers, including everything being basically chill over there like McCain says it'll be.

They came up with an additional $2 trillion over 50 years.

Now, an interesting point of comparison is the projected shortfall in the Social Security budget, which is on the contrary tabulated on highly pessimistic assumption. That number over 75 years is projected at $4.7 trillion.

Now I hasten to add, again, that the Iraq numbers are highly optimistic and the Social Security ones highly pessimistic. If we do a simple back of the envelope calculation we get the 75 year cost of Iraq would be $3 trillion.

And remember that the Social Security number is the one that is supposed make the country curl up, collapsed in upon itself and supernova.

Hillary, Racism, Sexism, Feminism

A little analysis from Betsy Reed, executive editor at The Nation.
She hits the high points, even though I have to say that from early on, I still remember Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s misogynistic sarcasm toward Hillary (note we haven't heard a word from him since, though) and some Hillary surrogate's statement that Obama supporters just wanted to have a black best friend.
"More than any single thing, that moment with Bill Clinton in South Carolina represents the rupture that was coming," says Harris-Lacewell. The moment occurred in late January, when the former President compared Obama's landslide win, in which he received a major boost from African-American voters, to Jesse Jackson's victories there in 1984 and 1988. Because the former President offered the comparison unprompted, in response to a question that had nothing to do with Jackson or race, the statement was widely read as chalking up Obama's win to his blackness alone and thus attempting to marginalize him as a doomed minority candidate with limited appeal. Obama was now "the black candidate," in the words of one Clinton strategist quoted by the AP.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Women's Voices Women Vote Fri. Update

Diarist at Daily Kos has the latest on the voter suppression, Clinton ties story from NPR.
Short, worth a read.
Most interesting to me was the sidebar story from a reporter from the Center for Investigative Journalism looking at the conflict-of-interest in members of the board like Maggie Williams, Hillary's new campaign manager, getting contracts with the group.
And then there's the executive director's husband, whose firm got $700,000.
Just bad. Just stink.
* Women's Voices Women Vote Update

* Women's Voices Women Vote NOT!

Fainting Goats

I've seen this about three times but in case you haven't. It was on the mommapostcards site, so in case your momma didn't share, here it is.

Mother's Day Is May 11

Wonder what I'll get. Maybe another not trip to the art museum. Or maybe not the zoo.
Anyway, postcardsfromyomomma is going to be a book.
Fun read.

McCain On Iraq

There are two ads up and running with the 100 years quote and according to one follow-up poll, they're having an effect. I've suggested giving a few bucks to the Democratic National Committee and for their efforts to counter McCain while his prospective Democratic opponent, whoever that may be, is still in the primary battle.
In the meantime, both the Republican National Committee and McCain himself have complained that the ads are misleading. They're not. There's no need to be so foolish as to accuse McCain of advocating "war" or "fighting" in Iraq. His own words resonate, as videos down further on this page show.
But I wanted to add this:
McCain wants to stay in Iraq until no more Americans are getting killed, no matter how long it takes and how many Americans get killed achieving that goal—that is, the goal of not getting any more Americans killed. And once that goal is achieved, we'll stay.

from Rick Hertzberg of the New Yorker in January. He was there, he heard it all.
Hat tip Josh Marshall at TPM for reminding us all again.

An Honor

One of the things on my to-do list is to get to the down-and-dirty game of maximizing hits for my blog. But so far, I've just procrastinated.
I have learned, however, that it's good to be cited by other blogs. I don't know if it's happened before, but here's one.
Just cool, that's all. I think all she did was plug in WVWV to Google blogs and find me. Still.

FISA As Of Today

Glenn Greenwald of has bulldogged the telecom immunity issue from the beginning, along with and McJoan at Daily Kos.
Today, he picks up the behind-the-scenes games going on in the House to get a bill despite the obvious disinterest of the people and the stalwart performance of many of the Blue Dogs whose re-election is threatened by Republicans in swing districts.
Money quote:
(Steny)Hoyer's motives, then, appear to be two-pronged: (1) he and the House Democratic leadership simply want to grant amnesty to telecoms -- they favor it -- because they do not want the lawsuits relating to illegal spying to proceed to resolution; and (2) they are deferring to the tiny number of Blue Dogs who favor amnesty and warrantless eavesdropping.

In the interest of more and better Democrats, Act Blue is taking contributions towards an ad campaign to run in Dino (Dem in name only) Chris Carney's Pennsylvania district not unlike the R's who targeted the vulnerable House Dems who stood firm against telecom immunity.

Remember, the whole issue about the lawsuits against the telecoms is that discovery in those suits is the only way at this point we are likely to learn just how extensively the administration was involved in illegal spying on Americans, and just how far up the chain it went.
The administration is not going to hand this stuff over without them.

Lesson: Primary politics isn't the only thing going on right now.

Hillary Clinton on O'Reilly

I don't have to be fair, but I surprisingly find myself deciding to anyway. This is a TPM video created from two nights of interview.
If I were one of O'Reilly's regulars, I would think "she's not so bad. I might disagree, but she's actually likable and funny and holds her own (although he's entirely soft here, not the usual O'Reilly)." 5 min.
They won't vote for her, though.

Medical Marijuana News O' Teh Day

I haven't heard a story like this before. Both Swedish and UW turned him down because he smoked for pain, which is legal in Washington state. I'd like to see a reporter go a little farther with this story, was their federal funding in jeopardy if they okayed the liver transplant?
In my experience, it's the feds who mess with this stuff, but maybe the medical committees are just jerks.
In any case, he died.

SEATTLE -- A musician who was denied a liver transplant because he used marijuana with medical approval under Washington state law to ease the symptoms of advanced hepatitis C died Thursday.

The death of Timothy Garon, 56, at Bailey-Boushay House, an intensive care nursing center was confirmed to The Associated Press by his lawyer, Douglas Hiatt, and Alisha Mark, a spokeswoman for Virginia Mason Medical Center, which operates Bailey-Boushay.

Dr. Brad Roter, the physician who authorized Garon to smoke pot to alleviate for nausea and abdominal pain and to stimulate his appetite, said he did not know it would be such a hurdle if Garon were to need a transplant.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Whew, At Long Last

something to make us laugh. Leave it to the Brits, hat tip Andrew Sullivan. 2 min.


From the AP:

After three decades of keeping mum, Barbara Walters is disclosing a past affair with married U.S. Senator Edward Brooke, whom she remembers as "exciting" and "brilliant."
Appearing on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" scheduled to air Tuesday, Walters shares details of her relationship with Brooke that lasted several years in the 1970s, according to a transcript of the show provided to The Associated Press.

A moderate Republican from Massachusetts who took office in 1967, Brooke was the first African-American to be popularly elected to the Senate. Both he and Walters knew that public knowledge of their affair could have ruined his career as well as hers, Walters says.

Campaign 2008

Everything you need to know in 7 1/2 minutes. If I'd known this was coming, I could have been gardening. Or napping. Fun to watch.

Feminism Personified

It has always been my contention, cynical though it may seem, that incompetent and corrupt women should have the same opportunities as incompetent and corrupt men. It can be argued that there are many fine examples in the current Bush administration, but Lurita Doan, recently and belatedly fired as head of the General Services Administration, is the ready example.
She politicized the department by actively endorsing efforts by federal employees to elect Republicans and she also apparently gave one of her friends a nice little contract.
It really was a little contract, less than $100,000 as I recall. Sometimes the corrupt women just fail the imagination test.
This is longish at six minutes, but hold on for the very last frames.


Once again, McJoan at Daily Kos is on top of the telecom immunity issue, this time about the emails and other documents that were exchanged between the telecoms and the administration as they tried to push the measure through the Senate.
Meanwhile Steny Hoyer apparently is working behind the scenes to persuade the Blue Dog Dems in the House to go along with immunity, rumored to be emerging as an amendment to a supplemental budget bill. Ah, democracy.
The fight ain't over, folks.

Money quote:
If one thing in the whole amnesty debate wasn't already clear, this information absolutely crystallizes it. This fight has nothing to do with national security. It has everything to do with megacorporations breaking the law and doing everything in their power to get away with it--including getting advice from the Department of Justice about how to do so!

Women's Voices Women Vote UPDATE

This follow-up from Daily Kos: (ignore what look like links in the following, I'm too lazy to go through and manually remove them, but they're in the original linked above, if you want to go that far.)

The basic problem is this: when you call people who are registered to vote and give them the impression that they are not, then compound the error by making such calls at a time when there's nothing the voter can do about it, you're going to lead to a lot of registered voters who believe they're unable to vote. Whether the result of deliberate design or massive negligence on the part of WVWV and/or its vendors in terms of the timing of the calls and the determination of who would be called, the end result is something which rightly raised suspicions about the intent of this program.

I understand that some have defended WVWV by arguing that post-primary deadline is actually the most successful time to register voters, but not when you're consistently confusing voters and angering state elections boards while doing so. Given the complaints, this should have been fixed or ended long before now.

Honestly, I don't think WVWV has gone far enough to fix the mess they've made. A press release and withholding some of the mailing isn't enough. I believe they're obligated to go through the list of every NC resident/residence they called and determine who is eligible to vote. They should explain to those voters that they were reached in error and should show up and vote on May 6. They should call back the unregistered voters and inform them that one-stop absentee registration and voting is still available until Saturday. And they should explain who they are, and how WVWV can be reached if there's any questions.

[When an Obama campaign vendor accidentally called thousands of Washington state voters with the wrong caucus date, they re-called all of them -- at their own expense.]

Big errors require big solutions, and I believe steps like these could confirm the good faith which so many of us had in WVWV's work.

I should mention that the North Carolina Attorney General is now investigating. Most interesting news out of this so far is that the executive director is married to the vendor that got more than $700,000 in business out of this outfit last year.

Vegetable O' Teh Day

You don't want to know this. I don't either. But we have to open big and swallow hard.
In testimony yesterday before the Senate Judiciary Committee the former top classification official at the Department of Justice said the classification process that still keeps legal memos on torture secret showed either profound ignorance or deep contempt for the rules.
Guess which one I choose.
But tha-a-at's not all, folks.
He also disclosed that there are apparently secret, private laws passed by the White House that no one knows about and no one needs to know about under this administration's view.
Yep, that's right.
Mr. Elwood acknowledged that the administration believed that the president could ignore or modify existing executive orders that he or other presidents have issued without disclosing the new interpretation.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I Wrote A Letter Today

to NBC Nightly News, hosted by Brian Williams. The anger was just piling up too high.

It is bad enough that NBC has yet to report or respond to the New York
Times' revelations concerning the undisclosed conflict of interest of your so-called military advisors.
But then Brian Williams decided to pimp Peggy Noonan's inane column
questioning Barack Obama's patriotism.
Now, you have decided not to offer Arianna Huffington a forum for her new book, presumably because it critiques Tim Russert and other media
inside-the-beltway know-nothings.
It's time you folks began to recognize that this is the new internet world
and millions of your viewers and your advertisers' customers are watching carefully.
We expect to be informed fully and evenly about the news of the day. If you
cannot, will not, provide that, we can easily decide to pull the plug or switch the channel, and I plan to do so and tell everyone I know, including those who read my blog, to avoid NBC whenever possible.
Your market is shrinking, and you cannot expect to make it all up with
reality shows. We want real reality. We have options.

Now I learn that apparently Brian Williams felt forced to respond to blog commenters besieging him about the Noonan thing and the network's decision to ignore the NYT story about its military analysts.
Glenn Greenwald takes a close, detailed look at just how conflicted GE-owned NBC is and, by implication, Williams.
Here's a snippet:
Just consider what is going on here. The core credibility of war reporting by Brian Williams and NBC News has been severely undermined by a major NYT expose. That story involves likely illegal behavior by the Pentagon, in which NBC News appears to have been complicit, resulting in the deceitful presentation of highly biased and conflicted individuals as "independent" news analysts. Yet they refuse to tell their viewers about any of this, and refuse to address any of the questions that have been raised.

Lesson: Don't ever underestimate the degree to which the so-called mainstream media is compromised by its corporate controllers and connections.
P.S. NPR, by the way, also had a military analyst under contract and cited by the NYT story. They seem fairly sure he was not as compromised as suggested by the story, but have in response created a set of pretty strict guidelines for the use of "sources," including disclosing to listeners the source's ties to outside organizations and causes.
This is Journalism 101, something many news organizations have been consistently lax about in recent times.
Who's good at this, there must be some good, right? As far as I know, McClatchy does it righter than most. There are really good people in other organizations, but overall, the organizations themselves are not reliably consistent. The NYT itself took a hard look at its own past use of some of these military advisors as op-ed writers.

MoveOn's McCain Ad

Takes up the Iraq War theme playing out in the Democratic National Committee's ad and will air in Iowa and New Mexico where Bush III is campaigning while the Dem candidates continue the primary battle.

This is small donor funded. You can send 'em some love here.

Better Than Online Dogs Story

TROUBLED WA Opposition leader Troy Buswell has broken down in tears at a press conference and admitted he sniffed the chair of a female Liberal Party staffer.

With tears in his eyes, Mr Buswell had to compose himself before telling the media in Mandurah this morning that his behaviour had been unacceptable.

In Australia, the Liberal Party is politically conservative.

Also, this:
As revealed by The Sunday Times, Mr Buswell crawled around on his hands and knees in front of a former Liberal staffer before she left the job late in 2005.

In a separate incident, he lifted her chair and started sniffing it after she had sat in it in his parliamentary office.

The scandal follows an admission by the Liberal leader earlier this year that he had snapped open the bra of a Labor staffer.

Deputy Liberal leader Kim Hames was today standing by Mr Buswell, describing him as a "rough diamond with a robust sense of humour''.

Hat tip: kos

Women's Voices, Women's Vote. NOT!

So, uh, it sounds good, right? A multi-million dollar non-profit devoted to getting single women to register and vote. They're one of the lowest voting groups in the population, probably the lowest voting.
And their board consists of a lot Democratic good guys, a young black law student from Howard University, former Bill Clinton chief of staff John Podesta, now CEO of the Center for American Integrity (Integrity!). Oh, yeah, Maggie Williams, Hillary's newly named campaign manager, also a black woman, is on their leadership council. Some other guy from Talk Left, etc.
But as it turns out, the group is the machine behind what appears to be the current flurry of voter suppressing robo calls happening in North Carolina preceding Tuesday's primary election.
A guy calls a voter, tells him or her a voter registration packet is in the mail, and that it must be signed and returned before they can vote.
Except it's too late for voter registration, and many of those receiving calls are already registered. And a large number of them are...wait for it...wait for it...African American voters.
Needless to say, confused voters are flooding election offices with calls and complaints.
Some can claim this was just an inept, poorly managed but good faith effort based on bad voters lists. But this is the eleventh state where WVWV has pulled similar stunts.
It's being documented here in perhaps the best election related investigative piece I've seen so far this season, and it's a non-profit that's done the legwork, not a major news organization, although I hope they'll hop on this bandwagon.
Do I think this is a pro-Hillary effort? Yes, I do. Will anyone ever be able to prove it? Probably not.
But ever since the choice flyers went out before the New Hampshire primary from Hillary supporters challenging and misrepresenting Obama's record, I've been disgusted with HRC. Many of the female elected officials who signed that flyer later disowned it, saying they had been misled by the campaign.
And you may remember, Obama was favored in the polls to win New Hampshire. Those flyers went out really late, the female turnout and vote for Hillary was huge, and she won.
I've been disgusted before, but I haven't been this angry since New Hampshire.
Women's Voices, Women's Vote indeed.
The HRC campaign is stepping all over my issues to win, and I'm pissed.

Obama Picks Vice President

Monday, April 28, 2008

Scott Horton at Harper's

On the very day I decided to add Horton to my short political blogroll (over there on the right), he announced he wasn't going to blog anymore. I believed him.
Apparently there was a change of plans.
Tonight, avoiding at all costs the lure of volumes of paperwork, I checked out the link. He's still blogging.
I had just begun reading Horton regularly, drawn by his ability to boil it all down for a layperson like myself with none of the (sometimes admirable, but nevertheless often tedious) partisan irateness of Glenn Greenwald at Salon.
Horton's background is impressive and his expertise daunting. He's a lawyer with firsthand — meaning working — cred on torture, illegal detention, war crimes and the DOJ fiasco.
You can check it all out here.

Enough Of Politics For Today

Because You Asked about the Line Between Prose
and Poetry

by Howard Nemerov

Sparrows were feeding in a freezing drizzle
That while you watched turned to pieces of snow
Riding a gradient invisible
From silver aslant to random, white, and slow.

There came a moment that you couldn’t tell.
And then they clearly flew instead of fell.

From Sentences by Howard Nemerov, published by the University of Chicago Press. Copyright © 1980 by Howard Nemerov. Reprinted with the permission of Margaret Nemerov. All rights reserved.

Food Crisis Petition

I trust these people, but I can't remember why. Somewhere in the way back, I checked them out.
Anyway, if this is what they say we need to do, I'm doing it.
At the very least.

Headline O' Teh Day

Life Lesson: Don't Buy Dogs Online From Africa

From my favorite — read only — local paper. Comments are pretty good, too.

No Stopping Gas Prices?

Okay, it's the New York Sun and all, but name me anyone who's been truthful and/or right lately about it all. We have a president who can't bring himself to say the word recession, a GOP candidate who has the worst economic plan of the three according to an independent government analysis.
I didn't know Mexican supply had fallen off a cliff until I read this. It's short. And bitter. As are we all.
Oh yeah, lapel pins and Jermiah Wright. Don't forget what's important.
Morning rant over and out.


Mr. McCain’s plan would appear to result in the biggest jump in the deficit, independent analyses based on Congressional Budget Office figures suggest. A calculation done by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center in Washington found that his tax and budget plans, if enacted as proposed, would add at least $5.7 trillion to the national debt over the next decade.

Fiscal monitors say it is harder to compute the effect of the Democratic candidates’ measures because they are more intricate. They estimate that, even taking into account that there are some differences between the proposals by Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama the impact of either on the deficit would be less than one-third that of the McCain plan.


Interview with Jared Bernstein about his new book at Huffpo.

Remember this:

So McCain's real targets if he's serious about all of this are Social Security and Medicare.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Yak Penis, Yummm

Well, Andrew Sullivan linked to this Der Speigel treatment of a specialized Chinese restaurant today, why shouldn't I? File under oddments.
Sorry you have to follow the link, but Reuters doesn't allow photo grabbing.
Donkey penis served on a bed of lettuce: For Chinese guests, eating the sexual organs is not a test of courage, but rather a treatment for the libido.

McCain Will Lose

no matter who the Democratic nominee is.
Count on Frank Rich of the NYT to notice something no one else (not even the liberal blogs I read) seems to notice, AND TELL YOU.
I've believed all along that we'll have a Democrat in the White House next year despite all the damned punditry nonsense.
Money quote:
...few noticed that on this same day in Pennsylvania, 27 percent of Republican primary voters didn’t just tell pollsters they would defect from their party’s standard-bearer; they went to the polls, gas prices be damned, to vote against Mr. McCain. Though ignored by every channel I surfed, there actually was a G.O.P. primary on Tuesday, open only to registered Republicans. And while it was superfluous in determining that party’s nominee, 220,000 Pennsylvania Republicans (out of their total turnout of 807,000) were moved to cast ballots for Mike Huckabee or, more numerously, Ron Paul. That’s more voters than the margin (215,000) that separated Hillary Clinton and Mr. Obama.

Oh wait, there's this, heh:

The best deal for Mr. McCain would be for Mr. Bush to disappear into the witness protection program.

What A Woman: Photographic Evidence

Jill Freedman. Never heard of her. Her photos of NYC in the 70s are so Mean Streets it's hard to concentrate after the slideshow the NYT has up today.
Five years ago, Ms. Freedman returned to the city, homesick for what she described as "the smart talking and corned beef." She barely recognized the place. "When I saw that they had turned 42nd Street into Disneyland," she said, "I just stood there and wept." Presumably much more is out there to be captured by her Leica. "I'd like to find what's left," Ms. Freedman said.

Super Tuesday Redux: Beijing Edition

I can't get enough of Sufei. Sorry.

Somebody's Got To Run Against John McCain

Because the two Democrats are still running against each other, a situation that is likely to last until late June when suddenly all the superdelegates will decide, presumably for Obama, but who knows.
Anyway, the notoriously underfunded Democratic National Committee is now playing it's second ad against McCain. The first focused on his vague notions that somehow all is right with the economy, as he understands it, which he doesn't.
It was pretty good.
This one on Iraq is better. It must be because it's got the Republicans riled up, saying the DNC illegally colluded with the two Democratic campaigns on it. Why they would have to is beyond me, the point of the ad is a no-brainer point of weakness that got tons of media play and a lot of yelling and screaming from the R's.
So, McCain didn't actually say we'd be at war for 100 years, but he did say we'd be there until Americans were no longer being attacked. C'mon, guys, just do the logic.
Anyway, if you want to throw the DNC (headed by Howard Dean) a few bucks for this act of patriotism, go here.
Yeah, I did. I kicked in $25.