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Tuesday, 30 September 2008


To my astonishment, Attorney General Mukasey actually appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the firing of US Attorneys by the administration, in the wake of the release of the Inspector General's report on the 18-month long investigation of the matter. You'd think this would be a major news story, but of course, the press corps just weren't interested. Oh, and the Senate thought the occasion of Pete Domenici's farewell address to the Senate after his outrageously partisan contribution to this corruption would be a good time to praise his bipartisanship.

1649 BST

The money tree

Kaptur! "Sounds Like Insider Trading To Me!" I love this woman. I took a quick run around Blogtopia to see what else had been said yesterday, and it turns out to have been a pretty big news day, but let's get the bailout stuff out of the way first:

Hm, interested parties (by which I mean: Malefactors of Great Wealth) got a privileged briefing in which it was confirmed that Congress doesn't really need to do something "by Monday" (that is, yesterday) or the entire world would be in meltdown by Friday. This is stuff that should have been said in a press briefing and publicly-released documents, but they don't like the public to know what's going on, and you can see why.

So, apparently the vote on the deal failed, according to Atrios, because the crybabies are back - that is, the Republicans were miffed because Pelosi hurt their feelings, and therefore they decided not to bother to "help" the country during this totally-urgent-we're-all-gonna-die emergency.

Personally, I'm not bothered by this - a bill crafted by Paulson and amended with "bipartisanship" in mind is not going to be the bill we want, and unlike Krugman and DeLong, I really wasn't prepared to settle for it. Like DeLong, however, I do think the Swedish plan has a great deal more to recommend it, and Meteor Blades is quite right in saying that it's about time the Democrats started listening to him on that subject - and also to Roubini, Galbraith, Dean Baker, and so on. What the Democrats need to do now is present a good plan and argue strongly for it, rather than cowering in terror of Republicans' reactions. If it doesn't pass, they can campaign on it, and it's better than having a bad bill pass. I'm completely opposed to setting a precedent of letting a lot of people whose hands are already very dirty be the people who decide who gets the money and giving it to their pals who created this mess. Punish the malefactors, protect the American people.

Oh, yeah, and impeach Bush for making an end-run around Congress and pumping $620 billion into the financial system without their consent.

14:01 BST

By the numbers

Chart of U.S. Unemployment

Shadow Government Statistics shows what the real economic numbers would look like if they were still calculated the way they used to be. This is the one to show them when they talk about how much better today's unemployment rate is than it was under Carter.

Prophylactic Measures: "There appears to be a consensus among the economists - the Hanky Panky is the financial equivalent of unsafe sex, indiscriminantly spreading way too many vital fluids with no way to track what was inserted where and with what devices. The only certainty is that the taxpayer is going to be thoroughly screwed, and not in a good way." (via)

FiveThirtyEight evaluates Why Voters Thought Obama Won and projects some very positive figures for the election. Scroll down that entire left column and see that they're betting on some states now that were looking like they'd been lost, including Indiana and Nevada, as well as Florida. Hope for any of the Plains/Big Sky states does seem to be out of the picture, now, though. (via)

Just for the record, I had no idea what anyone else said when I wrote the bulk of my reaction to the first presidential debate, and only as I was finishing it did I look at other sites to get a broader impression of what people were saying. I did feel, without being told, that McCain was trying to play the older-and-wiser game on Obama, and it doesn't surprise me at all that people who are in Obama's age-group or younger would have found it offensive. (People who were older might have thought it was deserved and that Obama is just a young whipper-snapper, I suppose.) I might have found it odd to see a debater in a one-on-one debate never make eye-contact with his opponent, though I can't say without having reacted in real time (after everyone else has commented on it is not really the same thing). So I think maybe Bob Somerby is going a bit overboard on his castigation of Duncan for not having said certain things at the time; after all, I didn't actually use the word "condescending", but I did describe the same thing, and no one had told me I was supposed to think it. However, Somerby is right that a lot of these media people have let an interest in Obama drive a wedge between themselves and their previous affection for John McCain. But then, so has John McCain, whose lying and pandering and general creepiness has made them feel impure for having ever said so many nice things about his integrity and all. (Even so, they never let go of his wonderful POW-ness, and continue to carry his storyline about all the reformist stuff he supposedly did in between being corrupt before and being stinky now.) Somerby is also right that talking about stylistic matters and trivia is indeed what these people have always done, and it would be better if we had a press corps that concentrated more on the issues and the impact that the respective sets of policies on offer would have on the American people. It doesn't bother me that Somerby is criticizing the press corps for it, but it also doesn't bother me that bloggers are talking about how creepy McCain seemed. Seems. Because he is. He's a creep who worked hard to get us into this mess, and he doesn't deserve our respect.

00:23 BST

Monday, 29 September 2008

One hand is tied to the tightrope walker, the other is in his pants

Terrorism in 'the Heartland': "On Friday, September 26, the end of a week in which thousands of copies of Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West -- the fear-mongering, anti-Muslim documentary being distributed by the millions in swing states via DVDs inserted in major newspapers and through the U.S. mail -- were distributed by mail in Ohio, a "chemical irritant" was sprayed through a window of the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton, where 300 people were gathered for a Ramadan prayer service. The room that the chemical was sprayed into was the room where babies and children were being kept while their mothers were engaged in prayers. This, apparently, is what the scare tactic political campaigning of John McCain's supporters has led to -- Americans perpetrating a terrorist attack against innocent children on American soil." (Hat-tip to Anna.)

Glenn Greenwald interviewed Murray Waas on his radio show, introduced this way: "My guest on Salon Radio today is journalist Murray Waas. He has two separate new articles in The Atlantic released today which contain potentially enormous revelations about the illegal Bush NSA spying program -- this one, which details new evidence strongly suggesting that it was President Bush who, in March of 2004, ordered Alberto Gonzales to go to the hospital room of an extremely sick John Ashcroft in order to extract the authorization for Bush's surveillance program that the rest of the DOJ refused to provide -- and this one, which provides new evidence that Gonzales fabricated fraudulent notes of a meeting with key members of Congress to give cover to Bush's decision to order the illegal surveillance program to continue, and that Bush himself may have played a role in the creation of those notes. "

Remember how we armed the Mujahadin in Afghanistan? Are we doing something like that again near Chechnya?

Warren Zevon's first Letterman appearance, via Biomes Blog, where I also learned about the website where you can check whether that page that won't load is down for everyone or just you.

The Grateful Dead

12:36 BST

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Tumbling out of the Clown Car

Ian Welsh was saying earlier that Congress had reached a bail bailout deal that's "90% of the suck you were expecting." In an impressive bit of haggling, Paulson beat himself down to $150bn, but Congress gave him a counter-offer of $350bn. Also, no change in the bankruptcy laws. Did it get any better after I hid in front of the TV? Also: Why Does McCain Blink So Much?

Apparently, it's not just poor black people who are all to blame for the financial meltdown, but Teh Gay. This whole idea that attempts to ensure that minority would-be home-buyers were not refused mortgages for which they were qualified is the "cause" of mortgagers giving people loans they didn't qualify for is now the life-preserver the wingers are holding onto. I would so love to see someone really go to town on this on television. (via)

Since all this has happened in other countries before, let's apply a little science and see what worked and what didn't: "Purchase of toxic assets instead made - in most cases in which it was used - the fiscal cost of the crisis much higher and expensive."

Atrios explains more Republican lies about the impact of "private accounts" on the Social Security Trust Fund, and why it's true that, as Obama said, "If my opponent had his way, the millions of Floridians who rely on it would've had their Social Security tied up in the stock market this week. Millions would have watched as the market tumbled and their nest egg disappeared before their eyes."

Tony Benn, after speaking at the Newbury Corn Exchange: "Newbury is a Conservative area but there were no critical questions. It is strange, but for the first time in my life I think the public are to the left of a Labour government. They don't want war, they don't want things privatised, they don't want students saddled with debt, they don't want pensioners on a means test and they're worried about civil liberties." Actually, I looked that article up because I saw the amusing bit at the end quoted in The Week, but I enjoyed reading the whole thing.

Do you think Marc Maron will ever get used to the fact of webcams? Just watching him stare into your screen is the comic relief while Sam explains that the Republicans have totally screwed us.

23:51 BST

It's a good day for gardening

Diane tells me that the McCain campaign is furious over an article in the NYT that says: "A lifelong gambler, Mr. McCain takes risks, both on and off the craps table. He was throwing dice that night not long after his failed 2000 presidential bid, in which he was skewered by the Republican Party's evangelical base, opponents of gambling. Mr. McCain was betting at a casino he oversaw as a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, and he was doing so with the lobbyist who represents that casino, according to three associates of Mr. McCain."

I was once asked to come for an interview (via an agency) by a potential employer who had seen my CV and knew I didn't have the required experience for the job. He was an American who was disappointed by what he viewed as an inferior work ethic among the natives, and he needed someone with experience in corporate law. My agency said he wanted to interview me despite my lack of qualification, and since I was hungry for a good-paying gig, I went to see if I could charm my way in. He kept me there for a ridiculously long time trying to tease out from me some hint that I really, secretly, knew enough to do the job (and get all the delicious perks that came with it), because he really wanted to hire an American and apparently liked me the more he talked to me, but I'm just not a Republican, so I told him the truth: I'm happy to learn new things and I'm not a complete moron, but if you want someone who can hit the ground running in corporate law, it ain't me. (Also: Why McCain turned on his base.)

Sam Seder's live report from the Bailout meeting (Thanks, Anna), and the mortgage/banking meltdown explained by stick figures. Man, I'm glad those stick figures are still around to explain this stuff. (Thanks to Alan.)

I'm as pissed off as Cory Doctorow is about this crap, but I do not believe for a single minute that the Conservative Party won't keep all the horrible things Labour has been doing, many of which are the things they always tried to do anyway. The only reason they're complaining about this stuff now is that they always complain about Labour, but that doesn't mean they don't revert to type when they're in power. I do wish a successful campaign by the LibDems was feasible, though.

Jed Bartlett meets Barack Obama.

13:54 BST

The madness never stops

Passionata White Nights half cup braBra of the Week

Julia responds to McCain: "At any rate, if you were with the people who made this mess on nine out of ten votes, it really doesn't matter if you did it in such a way that they still don't like you. Inability to work and play well with others is not a selling point. " And, again, my commenters weigh in with more information and opinion, including the fact that Bob Somerby is a better source than I am about how the talking heads turned around on a dime about the way Gore cleaned Bush's clock in 2000.

The media is virtually ignoring the fact that McCain has a history of taking bribes and now he refuses to release his wife's tax records, he's married to a woman whose father served time for his "wealth-creating" activities (should we start calling her "Meadow"?) (shouldn't we start calling her "Meadow"?), and he's an old man with a history of cancer (and late-stage cancer treatments!) who refuses to release his medical records - and the GOP are still whining that they're too hard on him. (BTW, he crashed five planes!)

It's true, Joe said it more economically than I did, and said it earlier.

I've thought often in the last few years about Richard Nixon's madman theory, and Will Bunch is thinking about it, too. Only it must be said that McCain might actually be a madman.

I'm always fascinated by the way Republicans can be so tolerant of people they appear to hate.

Bust Out - the Republican approach to governance

One story I didn't get around to posting about was the fact that Troy Davis got a stay from the US Supreme Court just a couple of hours before he was scheduled to be executed. Only the day before, it appeared that that wouldn't happen because the hearing was scheduled for a week later, but apparently even the Supremes were a bit embarrassed to go along with killing a guy against whom there was no evidence. On the other hand, someone no problem producing a headline that ignored the reasoning behind the reprieve.

Message From Tommy Smothers At The 60th Annual Emmy Awards on great writing, free speech, and truth.

Another party heard from. I can't actually disagree with anything Gonzales said, there.

00:44 BST

Saturday, 27 September 2008

"Just standing in the rain, talking to myself."

Paul Newman has died of cancer at 83, and the papers are full of long stories. The Guardian has a nice photo with their story, The Times calls him a superstar, and here's the Telegraph, and the BBC's slideshow.

The LAT site's photogallery has a picture of him from four years ago where he still looked better than most guys ever do.

He was way too old for me, of course, so for a long time the appeal was lost on me. I mostly caught his movies on TV in black and white on Saturday afternoons when I was bored and there was nothing else to watch. That was before Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid became popular girl-porn. And then I think I read an interview with Gore Vidal where he talked about hanging out with Newman and Woodward in Hollywood, and they sounded really cool. The more I knew about Newman, the better I liked him.

Larry Harnisch reposted his entry from January celebrating the 50th anniversary of Newman and Woodward's marriage, with some nice pictures of the two of them together.

A bigger photogallery at the WaPo, and I liked this last paragraph from the obit:

Newman continued to act in recent years, notably as the stage manager in a 2002 Broadway revival of Thornton Wilder's "Our Town," but he was certain acting was not his whole life. He said that over the toilet bowl in his office bathroom he hung a letter from a fan -- of his tomato sauce. The letter ends: "My girlfriend mentioned that you were a movie star and I would be interested to know what you have made. If you act as well as you cook, your movies should be worth watching."
A short scene from Cool Hand Luke. And here's Butch.

16:58 BST

Why I feel like a vampire bit me

OK, I listened to the debate on the radio, with commentary from people who were watching it on TV. (I did not hear every word of it, since reality intruded from time to time and also the radio breaks were hard and sometimes came while a candidate was talking. I hope this means that the stuff I wished I was hearing was said when I didn't hear it.)

A lot of it was predictable - John McCain doing the "I'm your wise, folksy grandfather who is much more sensible than you young hot-heads" routine and lying like a rug was unsurprising.

Obama was good when he persistently rebutted McCain's lies about him by stating facts and saying, "- and Senator McCain knows this," helping to stress the point that McCain was lying.

McCain repeatedly said Obama didn't understand stuff, and Obama should have echoed it back even more strongly, but he wasn't that strong. He did say, "That's not true," when McCain was lying, except the times when he didn't. McCain was closer to the mike, the radio people said, which might explain why it was easier for Sidney to talk over Obama than the reverse. (Note for Obama team next time: Adjust the mike.)

I was frustrated listening because I really felt Obama was pulling his punches while McBush had no problem making outrageously false claims. It sounded like McCain was deliberately slandering Obama in an attempt to piss him off (he sounded smirky to me, and the radio people said he was smirking), and Obama responded with aplomb and graciousness as if he wasn't talking to an out-and-out liar. That may seem classy, but it allowed McCain to walk away with un-earned credibility. It's as if the Obama camp simply wasn't prepared for dealing with a Republican lying through his teeth.

I also felt like Obama let McCain get away with diverting the economic discussion to right-wing anti-tax talking points instead of how McCain's and Gramm's (and the Republicans') fetish for deregulated "free-markets" had created our present economic quagmire.

However, I just about lost the will to live when they were talking about the surge. Since Obama bought into the whole lie about how the surge had worked, he was helpless. McCain just quoted Obama as saying the surge had worked beyond our wildest expectations even though he'd opposed it.

Then he pressed Obama to say that he'd changed his mind about whether there should have been a surge. When Obama wouldn't, McCain compared Obama's apparently stubborn refusal to support the right thing with Bush's similar behavior.

It was a breathtakingly clever bit of manipulation that Obama walked right into by playing along with the out-and-out lie that the surge had done anything to advance any goal other than escalated troop presence and PR for the Permanent Campaign.

It would have been completely avoidable if the Democrats had stuck to the facts on this issue from the beginning: The Anbar Awakening preceded the Surge and had nothing to do with it - it had to do with the fact that we've been paying The Enemy not to attack us. Dems should have been screaming about this, but it's a bit late to introduce this kind of new information on the fly. And the stated purpose of the Surge was that it was supposed to reduce violence so we could leave, but we show no sign of thinking of leaving; ergo, the surge has failed. Period.

McCain said a lot about how he helped the troops while Obama didn't support them. Obama countered fairly weakly, I thought. This is something Democrats as a whole have been pretty sickly on. McCain's attitude toward our troops has been horrible all the way down the line, and that goes back to the aftermath of Vietnam. He should be repeatedly called on it and never, ever permitted to get away with pretending to be a champion of our military personnel. Allowing him to get up in front of God and everyone to claim his loyalty and steadfastness in aiding POWs/MIAs then, and supporting our troops now, is just outrageous negligence on the Democrats' part. Obama should have had a whole mantra ready to drum hard about how many times McCain has resisted supporting our troops. When he did address the point, he made it sound so casual that it was probably lost on anyone who didn't already know the details.

McCain also reiterated the whole casting of the occupation as a war we must win rather than go home in defeat. Since the only definition of "win" we've ever been given sounds exactly like "never leave", it would have been good if that question had been put to him. It is claimed that we will leave when things are stable and peaceful, but we haven't been told how we get rid of that tiny little problem of how peace can't break out as long as we are there making war on them.

The radio people, who were Democrats like David Bender and Ron Reagan, seemed confident that Obama looked more presidential, that McCain looked shifty (for a number of reasons, such as that he never once made eye-contact with either Obama or the camera - "he wouldn't look the American people in the eye"), and that Obama won it. I thought it felt more like a draw, but obviously the visuals were making a significant difference, since the reports so far seem to show uncommitted/undecided/independent target groups declaring Obama the winner. I have the impression (on very little research, so far) that the press also leaned toward Obama last night, but we all know how that can change once the RNC gets their talking points out.

I'm inclined to agree with Arianna Huffington, who saw it as more of a Rorschach test and unlikely to change many minds, and who referred to a bit I missed:

The worst blow to reality came when the candidates took on the question of whether we are safer now than we were on 9/11. Both men agreed that, although there is still work to be done, we are, in fact, safer than we were. A low point: Obama pointing to improved airport security.

In truth, we are not safer. The Taliban is resurgent, al Qaeda is resurgent, Osama is still on the loose, Iran has increased its influence and has a burgeoning nuclear program, North Korea has joined the nuclear club, our ports are still porous, our chemical plants still poorly guarded, our railways and roadways vulnerable, and our standing in the world has been greatly diminished. But, hey, we now have to take off our sneakers at the airport and can only bring on board three ounces of conditioner.

And airport personnel are free to confiscate some of your most valued possessions, for that matter. I hardly call that "safer".

Strangely, it's Nora Ephron whose feelings were more like my own:

I was, by the way, the least pessimistic person in the room where we watched the debate, a room full of blue-state pinkos, and our hearts had collectively sunk as we watched Obama miss opportunity after opportunity to score a knockout punch -- as the men in the room tended to put it.


Anyway, as I say, the impression that McCain had won lasted about a minute, when we began flipping through the stations expecting all our fears to be validated by the dozens of commentators ready to offer their views. To our amazement, the only overlap between our room and the pundits were the boxing references. Obama had won. Even the people who thought McCain had won more rounds than Obama thought Obama had won. McCain had been patronizing. He'd referred to Pakistan as a failed state, which turned out to be untrue. Even Charles Krauthammer thought Obama had done fine. A focus group of undecided voters in Nevada on the Fox Channel (Fox!) had responded more positively to Obama than to McCain.

That, of course, is worth more than knock-out punches. In 2000, I watched Gore wipe the floor with Bush during the first debate, but (with the exception of Chris Matthews, who momentarily spoke the truth), all the pundits wanted to talk about was how magnificent Bush was for managing to string a few whole sentences together - and by the next morning (by which time Matthews had forgotten his earlier evaluation) and for the rest of the week, all I heard was about how Gore had sighed and "misstated" (and not a word about Bush's outrageous lies and inability to defend his own policies). In 2004, Bush looked like he'd had a stroke and literally - and I literally mean "literally" - drooled on the lectern, and Kerry told the truth while Bush babbled (and what was that thing on his back?), and again the talking heads described some other debate.

So if this time the press wants to be lean toward the Democrat rather than jump down his throat and make haggis out of him, well, I suppose I can't complain, although it's not as if they are likely to ever treat McCain the way they treated Carter, Dukakis, Gore, and Kerry.

Anyway, this morning the BBC said McCain won.

15:27 BST

Friday, 26 September 2008

Whirling, transient nodes of thought

My first job in banking was in a swaps department. I didn't know anything about this stuff at the time, so it had to be explained to me. My response was, "That's legal?" The whole banking crisis is like that - stuff that shouldn't be (and mostly wasn't, previously) legal happened. Joe Kennedy once said, as he was making his money, that what he was doing shouldn't be legal, but he was going to take advantage of it while it was. Then he was chosen to write the regulations to make it illegal, and he did a good job that served us well. I'll tell you for free that the guys who have been doing that lately make Joe Kennedy look like a saint for actually believing there should be such restrictions, even while he was making money off of their absence. The guys we have now think they have a moral right to keep doing what they're doing until the country is nothing but an empty husk. Anyway, Lambert has what is probably as clear an explanation as you're going to get. (Although this isn't bad, either.)

I have always wanted to ask the Villagers to explain in detail what they mean by "partisanship" and how they think it can be cured. Who is being partisan? How can we make them stop? Although I know that these people really just repeat this crap because they hang around with Republicans who need to use it as a charge to beat up Democrats for disagreeing with their utterly outrageous demands so that no one will pay attention to Democrats who point out that they are outrageous demands, I really want to force people to explain these terms and watch them squirm while they try to find some non-partisan way to demonstrate that "both sides are guilty" &etc. It would have been amusing to get, for example, Doris Kearns Goodwin on the hot seat for that, but a funny thing has happened: she's starting to think post-partisanship might not work. Only problem is, we remember where she was coming from. And Digby has steam coming out of her ears. I mean, DKG would have known all this already if she'd been listening to us noisy liberal bloggers.

The Right Abandons the Field - Really, they're all over the map with this, and not coping well with the revelation (which they still don't appear to have absorbed) that conservative policies caused this mess. And then there's Greg Mankiw: "Nonetheless, one has to be at least a bit skeptical about the idea that government policymakers gambling with other people's money are better at judging the value of complex financial instruments than are private investors gambling with their own."

Jesurgislac reminds us that it's been Five years since Fred Clark began his fine series demonstrating that the Left Behind books are "evil, anti-Christian crap." And it's taken this long to complete one of them. (I'd say it's not surprising considering the kind of people who actually love these books, but ya gotta know how to talk to these people.) Also: ID Cards Don't Work.

On the other hand, this looks better.

Hedley Lamar plans.

18:20 BST

Is this the price for having learned how not to cry?

Krugman isn't pleased with the inconveniently dynamic drama in the Madness on Pennsylvania Avenue. I just see more of the same, with the Democrats having failed by not starting high enough in their negotiations because, as usual, they don't get how to haggle.

You don't even talk about "limiting" CEO salaries and compensations, you talk about firing and heavily fining every single person at any level of management responsibility and investigating them for fraud. You don't talk about giving Paulson any kind of authority, you talk about impeaching any government official who played any role in facilitating any of this mess. You don't even talk about saving "the firms", you talk about nationalizing or dissolving them with all assets going back into the US Treasury. (I'll throw in a return to the 90% top marginal rate, too. Like I say, it's the absence of sufficiently confiscatory taxes that helped get us into this mess.)

You don't discuss new regulations, you talk about restoring every restriction they've been removing since Reagan entered office.

You talk like the plans offered by people like James K. Galbraith & William K. Black and Bernie Sanders and Nouriel Roubini are tepid half-measures that simply do not go far enough.

Anything Paulson and the White House and the Republicans and Blue Dogs offer should be treated with all-out derision, and conservatives should be told in no uncertain terms that there is no negotiating table for handing a bunch of irresponsible Malefactors of Great Wealth even more of our money to play with until they finally figure out how to make an offer that's not so laughable.

How the really big number was chosen.

A better solution.

"Doctor My Eyes"

12:06 BST

People are talking

Atrios has been posting so fast in the course of the day that the earlier posts have already fallen off the front page, and there's a lot of good stuff you should pay attention to (like I say, he's very good at connecting the dots with that economical style of his), so check out the archive page to see it all. The gist seems to be that there is or isn't a deal and that in all likelihood the Bush Dogs will get together with the Republicans to give the wingers what they want and we're all even more screwed than we already were, even though there's been an extraordinary groundswell of opposition from the public to the idea of taking our money to give to rich people who belong in jail and should be fined every penny they've made in the last eight years at minimum. (John Cole has some advice for the Democrats.)

I note that one of the links on that page goes to Maron v Seder - check out the promo videos. I thought "Fallen Masters" was particularly nice and should be put on heavy rotation on TV stations immediately, but "At the Office Part 1" is absolutely classically Sam and Marc (although I'd kinda gotten used to seeing Maron in his bathrobe in the kitchen).

Cursor, of course, also has a slew of links on everything that's been going on - go check them out, and also show them some love.

Why McCain doesn't want to debate on television.

Wanda Sykes tells Leno what she thinks.

Watch the trailer, and sign up to download Michael Moore's new movie, Slacker Uprising, for free.

Another way to keep legitimate voters from registering, and 50 ways to get your employees to quit, (via).

02:30 BST

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Talk of the town

Julia has been at the Clinton Global Initiative Summit and has a report on McCain's speech that may very well be the best you will see or hear. Go read it.

My commenters are really smart, go read them, too.

17:17 BST

Coffee? How about a bottle of port?

In last night's news, the McCain Panic seemed to trump most things, as he bailed out of the presidential debate and announced he was temporarily suspending his campaign so he could pretend he was being "above partisan politics". This seems to be at least in part a ploy to create "grounds" for a claim that Obama is refusing to put his country above his campaign, which falls a bit flat since the Obama camp had already reached out to McCain and announced that they'd agreed to make a joint statement - and then McCain made an independent statement and started whining that Obama was being partisan. Because he's, you know, "suspended his campaign" so he could, oh, do something really big and stressful, like, um, take a few minutes to vote if anything ever comes to the floor.

Atrios: "Did We Say $700 Billion? We Meant... $1.2 trillion!" And Krugman's evaluation: "My sneaking suspicion is that they started with a determination to throw money at the financial industry, and everything else is just an excuse." Rachel Maddow has a pretty clear picture of what's happened: They let the 6-year-olds oversee the candy and now they want more candy, and Reich agrees we're watching the result of a sugar-high.

One thing Republican policies are good for is taking decent marriages, turning them into miserable marriages, and then making you stay in them.

John Oliver describes just what it looks like in his discussion with Jon Stewart of George Walker Bush's legacy: "We all know he'll never be ranked as the best president. But he could still, if he works hard enough..." "Be the worst?" "The last."" Also, Jon's interview with President Bill, Part 1 and Part 2. (It worries me, though, that Stewart slipped and referred to Palin as "the vice president". I realize it's hard to believe, but her title is, "governor".)

You know, as regular op-ed columnists for The Washington Post go, E.J. Dionne is pretty good, and certainly a more astute and honest observer than most of them, but you gotta wonder when he writes stuff like this: "The bottom line: The McCain campaign just doesn't want anyone to call them out on anything. It hopes to intimidate reporters and discredit those who try to give an honest account of the campaign. As Joe Klein noted on his blog, Schmidt's theory must be that "if he complains enough about press bias, we mainstream sorts will cower, cringe and try to seek false equivalences between the two campaigns." Here's hoping that there is great resistance to cowering and cringing." Right, cause they've been so good at resisting it for the last 30 years.

15:28 BST

Windows to the world

The were just waiting for a distraction: "In non-financial crisis news, the long predicted alliance of telecoms and entertainment titans have joined up to fight for infinite copyright, unlimited spying powers on your computer by private companies AND against net neutrality. This time, the coalition is called Arts+Labs (though I am going to call it the Hot Soup coalition for reasons that will become clear), and it includes members AT&T, Cisco, Viacom, NBC Universal and the Songwriters Guild of America (SGA), and Microsoft." Right now Google appears to be the hero of this story. (via)

For the record, when I went to Memeorandum last night to see what was happening, this was the top story, the thing the wingers really wanted to talk about.

This is why we have confiscatory taxes on the rich, and another reason why they are a good thing. (The taxes, not the rich.)

Tristero found a weird little factoid about how the betting is going on the presidential futures market. And Maha says : "More weird news, although I'm not surprised. Pew Research says 57 percent of the public favors the Wall Street bailout. On the other hand, the latest Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll says 55 percent of the public is opposed to the Wall Street bailout."

Hm, I wouldn't have thought that there were any shared principles for Obama and McCain to make a joint statement about.

Sweden had this problem once, and didn't do it Paulson's way. And now they out-perform the United States on pretty much every measure. But then, so do the Nordic countries generally - because, "Von Hayek was wrong. In strong and vibrant democracies, a generous social-welfare state is not a road to serfdom but rather to fairness, economic equality and international competitiveness."

There's a point - shouldn't Man United have new logos on their jerseys?

Bush is still so Not exactly FDR embarrassing. Oh, and Bush speaks to the nation.

The good news is: Cheney doesn't seem to have the muscle that he once had.

Past as Prologue

04:06 BST

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Is it "le deluge" or "la deluge"?

I can't find my original link (?) now (could be dead for all I know), but I linked to this story about three years ago and underplayed it because it gave me instant nightmares. It wasn't that it came as a surprise, it was just the surprise of seeing it from such a source. I see it's going around again - I guess I'm not the only person who's had that sitting in their head since 2005 - that three years ago "Never Been Wrong Robertson" predicted "utter global collapse" within ten years.

Billmon, "Things Become More Serious [...] The problem, of course, is that our creditors are already into us for a cool $13 trillion (about 90% of US GDP) and have shown a growing reluctance to lend us more (by using their export earnings to purchase US Treasury bonds and other dollar-denominated assets) as the crisis has worsened."

Explain to you Congressbeing what Dr. Black said.

Jon Stewart reviews.

19:48 BST

There are more links than I can keep up with

Kevin Drum posted the chart at left last year, just in case you needed another data point. And thanks to JHB for providing the link to the full version of the graph below. And for pointing to one quick way to save $97 billion in wasteful spending.

Sign Senator Bernie's petition!

A uniter at last - Bush has finally brought us together, and we all agree that things are not getting better - it's post-partisan!

Wooo! Here's what Kaptur said about the AIG buy - why didn't I find out about this sooner? (Look, and example!) (And some text of what she said in the more recent video, for those who can't watch YouTube.)

Barbara Ehrenreich: "GREED - and its crafty sibling, speculation - are the designated culprits for the financial crisis. But another, much admired, habit of mind should get its share of the blame: the delusional optimism of mainstream, all-American, positive thinking."

Campbell Brown says it's sexist to treat a moose-shootin' Alaskan like a hothouse flower.

Look, it's all very well to talk about listening to both sides of an issue, but if "both sides" were "slavery" vs. "not slavery", you might balk, hm? Do you think a presidential candidate's entourage ought to include someone who's pro-slavery? Well, hey, it works that way for other issues, too - like, say, virulent anti-gay loonies.

18:33 BST

Now, that ain't workin'

In Bailout Furor, Wall Street Pay Becomes a Target: "The stratospheric pay packages of Wall Street executives have become a lightning rod issue as Congress shapes a $700 billion bailout for financial firms. Proposals circulating on Capitol Hill vary, but they all would impose some limits or approval authority on salaries of executives whose firms seek help." I'm told the full graph, as it appears in the paper NYT, shows the long period of stability that preceded the sharp rise shown in the web version.

I can't tell you what a pleasure it was for me to see Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) tell us what's been going on - "Let's play Wall Street Bailout" - and offer an alternative game, right on the floor of the House. Thanks to the commenter who tipped me off, saying, "Do you love this woman, or what!? Why isn't she running for pres?" You might want to call and thank her (and if you're in Ohio's 9th, make a point of it when you call.)

Chris Bowers wonders if there isn't something funny about the suddenness of this recognition of 'crisis'. Marcy Wheeler looks at the possible answer: "Bush Mouthpiece Admits: They've Been Sitting on this Plan." And Krugman, "Getting real - and letting the cat out of the bag".

I meant to post this link from Stirling Newberry days ago: "Let us speak of rights and reason. Of rights we have to begin from the final humiliation against a free people a proposal to grant dictatorial powers to an outgoing administration. In effect, the ability to hide all of the financial wrong doing of the last 8 years. However, what is important now is a solution. What we need now, is reason in action, as we already have reason to act."

And Scarecrow, "Obama: The Bailout Just Ate Universal Health Care, Energy Policy, College . . ."

Lots of Roubini and Roubini and Roubini: "In my column in the FT yesterday I described the unraveling and demise of the shadow banking system that started with non-bank mortgage lenders, SIVs and conduits, major independent monoline broker dealers and money market funds. I then argued that the next leg of this unraveling would be hedge funds and private equity firms and their reckless LBOs: "The next stage will be a run on thousands of highly leveraged hedge funds. After a brief lock-up period, investors in such funds can redeem their investments on a quarterly basis; thus a bank-like run on hedge funds is highly possible. Hundreds of smaller, younger funds that have taken excessive risks with high leverage and are poorly managed may collapse. A massive shake-out of the bloated hedge fund industry is likely in the next two years." And indeed, faster than I can type it, this run on part of the hedge fund industry has already started."


I'm still trying to figure out why all these thieves aren't worried.

Dire Staits

13:07 BST

Monday, 22 September 2008

Your everlasting summer, you can see it fading fast

Hm, two interesting headlines in the NYT: "A Scrappy Fighter, McCain Honed His Debating Style in and Out of Politics"
"Obama Carries Uneven Record as Debater to First Contest With McCain"

Why's that interesting? Because they're lowering expectations for Obama, just as the did for Bush eight years ago, so that by the time the first debate was over everyone was marvelling at how well Bush did merely because he managed to speak mostly in English. Of course, it was true then that Bush was no debater (as anyone who has watched him in debates knew a long time ago - he depends entirely on press spin and silence to come out alive after these things), and Obama shows a lot of weakness at the form, and McCain is more practiced at it. We'll see how this works out.

BTD points out that Bernanke's opening statement to the Senate Banking Committee hearing sounds like an an excuse to accept the Paulson plan: "At this juncture, in light of the fast-moving developments in financial markets, it is essential to deal with the crisis at hand. Certainly, the shortcomings and weaknesses of our financial markets and regulatory system must be addressed if we are to avoid a repetition of what has transpired in our financial markets over the past year. However, the development of a comprehensive proposal for reform would require careful and extensive analysis that would be difficult to compress into a short legislative timeframe now available." I would hope someone would be smart enough to point out that that's just fine because no one is proposing a comprehensive plan, they're proposing to do something about what's going on right now, which the Paulson plan does not do.

I'll link to Memeorandum so I don't have to link to McArdle, but I just want to say that it's no good telling me how smart you are about how scary everything's been for the last week if you title your post, "How close was the financial system to melting down?" You know, like it's all over now and we can all relax.

Steely Dan on The Old Grey Whistle Test

16:33 BST

Not enough coffee in the whole world

For those of you who didn't click through to Teresa's recent post, "Melanoma and narcissism, I want to highlight one of the quotes she uses that should help focus your mind, from Maggie Jochild's Group News Blog post, "John McCain: Dead Man Walking?"

Last week, when I got the letter from Robert Greenwald talking about John McCain's refusal to release his medical records to fair scrutiny, the fact that there are 1,000 pages of them (I create medical records for a living, 1,000 pages is EXTREME), and the news that he has had malignant melanoma, deep primaries with removal of lymph nodes, my immediate thought was "Then he's dying." If he were to be elected, he'd have an almost 2 out of 3 chance of having a recurrence if he doesn't have one already. This is not the kind of cancer you count on escaping from. This is not Stage II, as it has been reported: Stage II by definition does not have lymph node involvement. By definition, it must be either Stage III or Stage IV.
And the right-wingers are complaining that it's some kind of crime that a newsmagazine put an unretouched, posed portrait of this man on their cover and he looked, you know, like he was no spring chicken. He's a dying man and, frankly, I thought they made him look pretty good under the circumstances. And this ambitious bastard wanted to be president so much that he threw everything overboard, sucked up to Bush for several years, and then gave the religious right their very own next president in a loony, vindictive, nasty, wholly dishonest psychopath like Sarah Palin, whose vision of executive privilege tops even Bush and Cheney's and includes what Teresa calls "privilege by marriage" for her husband, who now thinks even he is entitled to ignore subpoenas. A Palin presidency is a quite serious threat, and the press are treating it as a side issue. They really, really shouldn't be.

CBS did an outrageously misleading segment supposedly explaining how McCain's and Obama's tax plans would affect taxpayers. FAIR is on the case, and asks you to contact CBS to complain.

Meanwhile, the McCain camp's whining about how the press is mean to them generates even more contempt from the press.

Bush's approval rating is now so spectacularly low that "you could probably impeach him and nobody would notice." (Let's hope the Democrats notice.)

Interesting ride over the 24 hours. Here's "Seven Simple Reasons To Oppose The Bailout" - that is, the Paulson Plan. And Rachel talked to Krugman. Via Calculated Risk, which also discusses The Plan. And then here's the Dodd plan, which goes some way to making things look better (Krugman liked it), both via Atrios, who also tips us to Matt Stoller's piece rounding up reactions from Democrats to Paulson's plan. And then Paulson appeared to be making some concessions, only then he didn't, and Paul Krugman talks to David Gregory.

Josh Marshall: "I think Kos, Digby and Kilgore have this about right. The Republican/McCain plan is to get the Democrats to bail out the GOP's Wall Street friends and then run against them for doing it."

Why taxes are good

14:24 BST

I didn't look up the Zombies song...

Tell them no.

Scarecrow says: "The most important condition to put on any bailout proposal is to impose a tax surcharge on the incomes of the wealthiest Americans to pay the bailout's cost." (via) Some of you may remember that I told you a while back that the rich use more of your tax money than you do, which is another reason they should pay more taxes than you do. But Scarecrow is right that taxing their own screw-ups is a great way to encourage them to learn not to screw up so much.

What every decent citizen of the United States needs to know (via).

That "retroactive immunity" thing is working out so well for the telecom scam that they want to try it out on the financial institutions, too. "So, what that means is that even the foolish "executive compensation" talking point is a mask over the ulcer: The real issue is executive jail time."

Natasha doing her linky thing with "700,000,000,000 in Unmarked Blogs".

Something makes me think that eRobin is getting bitter.

Law and Order - because some crimes are just too serious to overlook. (Also: Seeking Volunteers of America.)

JHB is down in my comments having fun with Tom Friedman. Really, Friedman is just so embarrassing....

I think you ought to vote in this PBS poll.

...because I was watching The Rock and Roll Years, 1968

20:48 BST

Blue Monday

"McCain Secretly Plans Tax On The Middle Class says The Hill." It would be nice if the media spent a little more time talking about this, don't you think?

The Brad Blog: "The unbelievable is still happening in Palm Beach Co Florida. The county counted, re-counted by machine all previously machine counted ballots and recounted by hand all under and over voted ballots. The recounts showed that thousands of ballots were suddenly missing from the original count totals. A search was carried on by elections officials, police and fire personnel. That search found all of the missing ballots plus more. Now, under orders from the courts, a new recount is underway. The machine recount has added votes for both candidates from the original count, 227 ballots more than election officials reported were cast during the primary and 29 more ballots than officials said they had in their possession after the search and ballot count. Supervisor of Elections Arthur Anderson didn't show up for the search or the re-recount that is still going on today and will probably"

Brad DeLong on the disillusioned dreamers of free markets: "Note that the Princes of Wall Street themselves are not opposed to what the Federal Reserve and the Treasury and the congress doing--anything, anything at all that promises to raise asset prices is something that each of the Princes of Wall Street would trade at least one of their organs of generation for. But those who speak for the Princes of Wall Street--well, they really believed that the Princes earned their fortunes by virtue of their virtue--their intelligence, their nerve, their skill, and their willingness to run great risks for great rewards. The idea that there is a public safety net to catch the Princes when they all fall off the tightrope at once--that they are not actually rugged Randite individualists running great risks--that they are people in the right place at the right time with enough low animal cunning to cover themselves with glue and then step outside at 57th and Park or on Canary Wharf as the money blows by so that a bunch of the money sticks to them--well, this strikes those who speak for the Princes of Wall Street on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal or in Investors' Business Daily as a betrayal of the moral order."

Mark Thoma at Economist's View, "Who Should Pay for the Bailout? [...] But not everyone did better. Workers, in real terms, did not get a share of the profits from the boom, their wages stagnated over this time period. So why should they pay for the bailout? This is nothing more than The Little Red Hen run backwards, they ate the bread first and now the hen is asking "Who will help me pay for the bread?" It shouldn't be those who weren't allowed to sit at the table. So I would increase taxes progressively, and I would do it in proportion to the changes in the distribution of income over this time period. And I like this a little better than Luigi Zingales' solution for precisely that reason, it puts the burden directly on those who benefited from the boom." (Via Notional Slurry, where there's a whole lot more links on this subject.)

You should probably read Driftglass to get the full flavor of the thing. (Thanks to D.)

Fats Domino

13:49 BST

A few more things

Short-selling for dummies. Also: Yes, they can - and do.

Woodward's secret, coming soon to a neighborhood near you. (Not sure passing bills makes any difference, though.)

Digby on how the press has no credibility, and Dday says the Mississippi Supreme Court actually says there's a limit to how much voter-suppression the Republicans can do in the state.

"An Open Letter to All Republicans From a Former Religious Right Activist: We have met the enemy and he is us! When Islamists tried to destroy our country by flying planes into the Pentagon and the World Trade Towers, we rightly called them terrorists. When the Republicans in the Congress and the White House set about destroying our country, our standing in the world, our military and our economy, but much more effectively, you called them statesmen."

Sample some new Jackson Browne.

Thereminists for Obama button, (via).

I just want to say from the bottom of my heart that I despise whatever e-mail application you are using that adds spurious punctuation to the URLs you send me. It means you've sent me a dead address. It means I have to dick around with it instead of just clicking on it as I could do if you'd just sent the naked URL or at least used proper brackets around it. It's stupid. Why is it doing this? Make it stop.

00:51 BST

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Things to read

Writing that earlier post was really depressing, and I had to wash out my brain out for hours afterwards. I seem to have to do that a lot more often lately.

My thanks, as always, to D. Potter, this time for finding Teresa Nielsen Hayden's 13 December 2000 Usenet post:

The Republicans' use of fraud and force has been shocking. Let's go beyond that shock for the moment. What's truly troubling is that their tactics have been so blatant -- for example, the organized mob attack on the vote counting operation in Miami by a gang of out-of-state Republican operatives, including known staff members employed by highly placed officials. They didn't bother to conduct that as a covert operation. They didn't even hide the cashflow that paid for it.

Such an approach is not sustainable long-term under our present system of law and government. But there's no use in seizing power just long enough to get inaugurated if all you do is spend the next four years pinned down in a hopeless tangle of legal actions and political countermeasures. Therefore, we have to assume that they are planning to consolidate their power shortly after Bush is inaugurated.

If you're not following me: This is the equivalent of that moment in the plot where the guy who's being held captive by the bad guys realizes they're planning to kill him because they're letting him see their faces and hear their names spoken. They're not worried about the consequences.

The Republicans are not worried about the consequences of their blatant abuses. The logical conclusion is that once they've consolidated their power, things are going to get a lot worse. [More.]

They never made a secret it of it. They told you. No one was listening. (And here is something more recent from Teresa, on the current campaign weirdness.)

Lambert says Arthur is wrong and that there are solutions - like paying attention to Roubini might bring. Certain, there are things that ought to be done, and I'm all for paying attention to Roubini, and to Bernie, too. It's just that I don't expect to happen. I mean, look who's in charge:

They've even stuck a general-welfare argument up from their odd foxhole/clubhouse redoubt and waved it about tentatively: "If we don't use the money of ordinary taxpayers to bail out our wealthiest institutions and investors rightthisminute "the entire world financial system will grind to a halt causing massive economic trauma for everyone and you don't want that, do you?" This amounts to an argument by the very wealthiest and their allies in government that bailing out the wealthiest with the money of the rest of us is for our own good. I suppose it's possible to sincerely hold this view. But nobody can make it except sheepishly, and it is a spectacularly self-interested claim.
(Thoreau also poses the interesting question of whether there is 7 trillion dimes' worth of difference.

There's a rumor that some Democrats are really angry.

At least McCain's bad week was able to bring some amusement to the news.

"Conservatism dies of massive cash overdose."

22:56 BST

Something's wrong

I keep trying to envision what I would do if I were God and could just, y'know, fix things. I mean, without changing all physical law or anything. Just redistribute a lot of wealth and say, 'What part of 'Thou shalt not steal' didn't you understand?" (Maybe I'd add a few words to remind people that it wasn't the abortionists and queers and uppity women who got Jesus so pissed off that he turned over tables in the temple, it was usurers.) And I'm still at a loss.

But I'd certainly take away all that money from all those people who have been getting rich by bleeding the rest of us dry. There shouldn't be any billionaires, dammit. There shouldn't be people sitting pretty whose "work" consists mainly of going for drinks or golf with other people who wear watches worth more than the average full-time worker's annual salary.

I'd physically move some people around, of course. I'd remove a lot of pot dealers and hookers from jails, for one thing, and replace them with a number of political operatives and "businessmen" whose names you already know, along with quite a few you never heard of, who are the architects of what we have seen. (I think their former residences would also make nice homes for all those people they kidnapped from New Orleans and put in toxic trailers - don't you?) And then I'd move all their money back to the ordinary humans whose misfortunes they engineered to make themselves rich (that'd be pretty much everyone else). In that event, you'd be amazed at how many "too big to fail" institutions could fail without it bothering the rest of us.

Of course, that isn't going to happen. A few words from around the blogosphere, starting with my own commenters:


Yeah, a $700B slush fund could really do wonders for Republicans' prospects this November.

It is breathtaking in its arrogance: proposing to transfer the power of the purse from Congress to the Executive. If we had real courts and a Congress with historical memory, I would think it had no chance of enactment. I've written to my delegation.

I just read the sexy Three Page Trillion Dollar Slush Fund Proposal. It's so hot it doesn't even have a code name. Whew. It's one big slush fund. Who doesn't like war-sized slush funds? It's clearly a National Security issue so it's naturally a Star Wars size black budget op. That's the way they roll.

Paulson's proposal is not reasonable policy, given the size of the sums/people/agencies involved and the fox in hen house issues. No. But I don't mind that's it's just three pages. (And you don't need three pages just to outline a MIB-sized slush fund.) The Dems should propose a two page bill that provides $699 billion in relief directly to families. Smaller, cheaper, better, and just two pages.

David Bell:
If they want the taxpayer to bail out the financial industry, perhaps the executives should STFU when their tax bill is increased.

And that doesn't have to involve crazy 90% tax rates.

The way some of these financial institutions have been carrying on, shouldn't RICO apply?

Why, yes, David, if it should apply to anyone, it should certainly apply to the biggest gang of thieves and vandals in history.


With all deference to the good professor, I think Krugman should be asking not "why [is this] supposed to work" but rather, what is it that Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke are actually trying to accomplish. My answer to that question would be that our easy money Fed Chairman and our Goldman Sachs minted Treasury Secretary are trying to stampede the Congress into putting the budgetary authority for the United States government on a course to be taken over by the International Monetary Fund in the near future.

The IMF, those are the folks who are always about belt tightening when it comes to wasteful social programs; social programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. We are on the verge of the ultimate triumph for "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise [now the Apex] of Disaster Capitalism."

$29 billion at risk to underwrite the JPMorgan Chase takeover of Bear Stearns, $75 billion for AIG, now another $700 billion for playahs to be named later; we'd better leave all this high finance to the experts for a few more rounds. There is opportunity in crisis and don't our modern day titans of capitalism know it.

It won't be the fault of Florida or Ohio voting machines. It looks like a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate are going to pass this baby lickety-split. (With only sixty votes in the Senate required for absurdity to pass, no reason for any of us to think there will be any hold up there.)


Phoenix woman suggests some things to do today, including reading " Robert Reich explaining why there's no reason any taxpayer money should be spent on this - especially money offered up without any oversight," and, of course, calling your Congresscritter. (It's not that I expect to be able to talk sense to people who are actually thinking seriously of giving Bush and Paulson what they want, it's just that I've always felt a moral obligation to try. I know a decade or so on the internet may have made you wonder if it's possible to change people's minds, but my experience is that, yes, you can. Not always. Not even most of the time. But it does happen.)

A musical interlude from Steely Dan is in order. There's a rumor that the real reason you can't open windows in office buildings anymore is to avoid traders jumping out of windows like they are said to have done last time.

So, anyway, Mike Whitney looks at our full-spectrum breakdown and sees people Grasping at Straws:

The problems cannot be resolved by shifting the debts of the banks onto the taxpayer. That's an illusion. By adding another $1 or $2 trillion dollars to the National Debt, Paulson is just ensuring that interest rates will go up, real estate will crash, unemployment will soar, and foreign central banks will abandon the dollar. In truth, there is no fix for a deleveraging market anymore than there is a fix for gravity. The belief that massive debts and insolvency can be erased by increasing liquidity just shows a fundamental misunderstanding of economics. That's why Henry Paulson is the worst possible person to be orchestrating the so called rescue project. Paulson comes from a business culture which rewards deception, personal acquisitiveness, and extreme risk-taking. Paulson is to finance capitalism what Rumsfeld is to military strategy. His leadership, and the congress' pathetic abdication of responsibility, assures disaster. Besides, why should the taxpayers be happy that the stocks of Morgan Stanley, Washington Mutual and Goldman Sachs surged on the news that there would be a government bailout yesterday? These banks are essentially bankrupt and their business models are broken. Keeping insolvent banks on life support is not a rescue plan; it's insanity.
Gods, is he right about Paulson, who has said that not rewarding the thieves by letting them keep all the money is a poison pill to any plan - a curious approach, you might think.
A poison pill? The executives who drove their banks into insolvency won't let the government save their banks if it means they have to give up multi-million dollar golden parachutes? After they've been paying themselves millions a year for the sheer incompetence necessary to bankrupt their companies? Did we step through the mirror and I didn't notice?

I can only read this as Paulson saying that Republicans will stop any bill that reigns in executive compensation in exchange for a bailout. I cannot think of words sufficient to describe my contempt at the greed, selfishness and sheer hubris being displayed by Paulson, Republicans and the bankers who believe they can dictate that not only should Congress hand over 700 billion dollars, but it should do so with no meaningful conditions.

Don't leave out those Democrats who are responding to this with anything other than outrage and derision.

Or, as Arthur Silber put it:

There Is No Fix

That's the truth that almost no one will face about the economic unraveling: There is no fix. This is the fundamental reason I say that, with regard to their publicly proclaimed aims, no one knows what they're doing. They can't know what they're doing -- because, while everyone insists they are trying to "fix it," there is nothing to be done. And yet, everyone in Washington is desperately trying to "fix it" -- that is, they are attempting to avoid the inevitable consequences of an economy that has significantly and for a long time gone completely off the tracks. Many actions by many players must lead to certain results now. To rebuild on a solid foundation, the results must play out -- and they will play out, no matter what stop-gap measures are adopted -- and then and only then, a new structure can be erected.

Larisa Alexandrovna says, "Welcome to the final stages of the coup...." Uh huh. I've been wishing all morning I could find that link to Teresa Nielsen Hayden's 2000 Usenet post in rec.arts.sf.fandom explaining exactly what she saw when Republican Congressional aides went to Miami to stage a riot to prevent votes from being counted. This was an astonishingly brazen act performed without ski masks by people who were obviously part of a machine that did not expect ever to have to give up power. It's ramifications were larger than even we imagined. Yes, we knew we were looking at a heist, and it was obviously not just another stolen election, but I don't think anyone realized it would, or could, go this far.

Mr. Sideshow, without even reading any of that stuff, just mused from the kitchen while making his lunch:

One final, monstrous smash-and-grab raid on the treasury before they leave office.
Yes, I think so. They're not worried about the country.

Much more here and here and here. The only good news is that people are actually talking about this instead of about some missing white woman or whatever has taken Nancy Grace's fancy this week.

Like I say, you really should make the effort, if only to say you tried. Meanwhile, keep an eye on Eschaton, where Duncan (and others) will continue to help you connect the dots.

Spirt, "It's Nature's Way, live. (Album track)

15:35 BST

And the race is on

Fauve by Fantasie - India underwired balconette braBra of the Week

Charges Dropped Against Democracy Now! Journalists - Investigation Needed: "The St. Paul City Attorney's office announced Friday it will not prosecute Democracy Now! journalists Amy Goodman, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman also issued a statement Friday that 'the city will decline to prosecute misdemeanor charges for presence at an unlawful assembly for journalists arrested during the Republican National Convention.'" They should sue the cops for busting them and interfering with their work in the first place.

Turns out that undecided voters are leaning toward Obama the more they know about Palin.

It's funny how much Robin Toner and Adam Nagourney left out of their article reviewing Thursday's New York Times/CBS News poll.

MahaBarb found a bunch of interesting stuff, particularly "an article written by John McCain and published in the current issue of the journal of the American Academy of Actuaries: 'Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.'" Awesome. She also says the right-o-sphere doesn't seem to want to talk much about the economic meltdown and is currently much more concerned with important issues such as that Charlie Rangel and Sandra Bernhard said something nasty about Sarah Palin, and also liberals hate God. And I reminder of how a "real" president speaks to the nation about a financial crisis."

A linky post of some random rants over at The American Street.

02:04 BST

It was fun for a while

William Greider in The Nation on the historic swindle: "Financial-market wise guys, who had been seized with fear, are suddenly drunk with hope. They are rallying explosively because they think they have successfully stampeded Washington into accepting the Wall Street Journal solution to the crisis: dump it all on the taxpayers. That is the meaning of the massive bailout Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has shopped around Congress. It would relieve the major banks and investment firms of their mountainous rotten assets and make the public swallow their losses--many hundreds of billions, maybe much more. What's not to like if you are a financial titan threatened with extinction?" (Thanks to Simbaud for the tip.)

Krugman: "And there's no quid pro quo here - nothing that gives taxpayers a stake in the upside, nothing that ensures that the money is used to stabilize the system rather than reward the undeserving."

Extending the 'Financial 9-11' Metaphor - Yep, everyone saw it coming and no one who was in a position to do so did anything to stop it.

The AIG takeover isn't just a matter of shoring up some financial institution, you know, it's the perfect platform for global economic terrorism.

Note to Atrios: They got a different set of talking points from the White House Friday that they didn't have on Monday. That's the only thing that changed. (And yes, the point people are ignoring is that there's pretty much no There there - people gambled and lost. That means they threw their money away. What they're trying to sell is the contents of an empty pocket.)

I say we should let Bernie Sanders handle things. Via Cheflovesbeer, who also tells me that John McCain says Washington is broken, and he helped break it.

Lawrence Lindsey is in The Weekly Standard assuring everyone that it isn't 1929: "So even if we have a depression, there won't be any Hoovervilles or soup lines. There may be a massive increase in demands for public assistance and rental housing, but this is hardship, not the privations of the 1930s." There are already tent cities and soup lines, chump.

"More Than This"

00:26 BST

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Assorted linkage

I got mail from Daniel Ellsberg saying Wexler needs support in his re-election campaign because they're going after him for his campaign to hold impeachment hearings.

I just love it when conservatives tell us what liberals say and think: "Palin is the ultimate small-town renegade rising from the frontier to do battle with the corrupt establishment. Her followers take pride in the way she has aroused fear, hatred and panic in the minds of the liberal elite. The feminists declare that she's not a real woman because she doesn't hew to their rigid categories. People who've never been in a Wal-Mart think she is parochial because she has never summered in Tuscany." Yeah, Tuscany. David Brooks is such a putz. But at least his powers of strawmannery are being used in service of leading up to a simple truth: That Sarah Palin, like George Walker Bush, lacks the skills and prudence that come from experience and are necessary to the hard work of presidentin'. However, he's saying it in The New York Times, which makes him just another "liberal elitist".

Bob Herbert on McCain's Radical Agenda for America's healthcare system: taking away employer-based insurance plans, so it will be more expensive and unreliable than it already is.

Greenwald on The Bush/McCain/Palin contempt for subpoenas and the rule of law.

The other day Michael Scherer earned himself a Wanker of the Day* award from Atrios for writing a stupid piece at Time in which he "debunked" something that was never said, resulting in this headline at County Fair: "Dodgy Journalism: Time's Michael Scherer debates strawman, loses ". Now Scherer has responded, and the headline at CF is, "Michael Scherer debates Michael Scherer, loses".

I think Oliver Willis called it: "How does one predict the future? There are many methods, some involving entrails and spells, others use crystal balls. My method is to predict the future by doing the exact opposite of what Hugh Hewitt says."

Hillary Clinton on how to deal with the crisis.

I have been reminded that this week's events also confirm (again) that Libertarianism Makes You Stupid.

And, hell, while we're at it, "What Is Conservatism and What Is Wrong with It?"

Muppets Take Washington?

14:32 BST

Friday, 19 September 2008

I just don't know

Atrios pulled a headline off of CNN: "BUSH ADMINISTRATION WANTS TAXPAYERS TO ASSUME BANKS' BAD DEBT". Refreshingly straightforward, anyway.

I don't know, I'm having trouble writing more about this at the moment. There's still that part of me that keeps hoping I'll wake up from this bad dream before it reaches this point. Here's some other people joining the fray:

Dan at Pruning Shears on The Republicans' Disdain For Democracy, with a little help from Janeane Garofalo.

John Cole: "I do not ever want to hear another damned word about the free market. I don't want to hear another thing about letting the market regulate itself. I don't want to hear about the free flow of capital. I don't want to hear about government getting out of our lives. None of it. From superfunds to super-bailouts, I am tired of other people getting rich being irresponsible and then being told I have to pay to clean it up. I didn't read one punitive aspect of this new plan. Not one punishment for the people who did this."

Chet Scoville: "Thing is, the "free market" as it's usually spoken of is a myth. Contracts, corporations, money, products, services, buying, selling, trading did not descend from Heaven, and do not exist in nature. They are highly artificial creations, and require a huge and intricate set of policies, public structures, and regulations to exist in the first place. There's really no question about that, or at least there shouldn't be." Via Bearcastle Blog: "But still it all has to be packaged up for consumption by the consumers, and so we get lots of lip-service about "market forces" and "supply and demand" and "free markets" and "competition" and "shakeouts" and etc. It bears repeating: none of these are "facts" from the "science" of economics, they're all different names for pyramid schemes created by big business and their Republican marionettes."

If you see Steny Hoyer, smack him for me. Oh, all right, smack Paulson, too. (And some healthcare stuff, too.)

OMG, I forgot Talk Like A Pirate Day! Hm, come to think of it, I've been listening to Republicans talk like pirates for long enough already....

23:02 BST

The program

Every time I post a link to an article about how the Republicans are always worse for the economy than Democrats, people seem surprised to learn this fact. I've been pushing this since I started blogging, which is why I was so pleased back in 2002 when Dwight Meredith started doing his series on his old P.L.A. blog comparing the relative economic performance of Republicans and Democrats - so pleased that I decided it should all be aggregated on a single page.

I understand why people don't think much about this - we're always being told that the Republicans are "fiscally responsible" and good for business and so on, and we're also encouraged to think that our own experience is isolated and that out there in the rest of the world things really are better under the Republicans. Sure, it was easier for you to find a job in the '60s or the '90s, but the corporate media is always there to tell you that things are really fine with the Republicans in charge. Totting up the numbers takes a lot of research and time, and it's only recently that it's become relatively easy to do all that research on the internet instead of spending hours, days, even weeks, sniffing dust in libraries. Even so, it's still dry, time-consuming work.

But we repeat it for a while in our small numbers, and sooner or later more and more people are looking at the numbers and remembering that, by the gods, things really are better under Democrats!

The Republicans always have a lot of "responsible"-sounding reasons why they are better for the economy, but honestly, they are lies. The Republicans don't want to help "families", they don't want to help you avoid moral hazard, they don't want you to do your best and try to achieve, they don't care whether their policies hurt you.

Their end game isn't to make you a harder-working and better person, it's to avoid having to show you any respect. They don't respect you and they don't want to have to pretend they do. They want you to show them deference and they know you won't do that if you feel like a free person in a free society who doesn't have to take crap from some petty tyrant who thinks you should feel honored to kiss his ring. Republicans are pissed off because it's so hard to get good help these days - help that knows they are just the help, that knows their place, that uses the servants' entrance and calls them "sir" and doesn't question them. A strong middle-class - that is, a secure workforce - gets bolshy and tells abusive employers to bugger off, and the ruling class doesn't like that.

Which is why Alan Greenspan, secure himself in the knowledge that Ronald Reagan et al. had already severely weakened the middle-class to the point where they could actually say this stuff out loud, publicly stated that he regarded it as his job to increase economic insecurity. Your economic insecurity.

Liberal economic policies do what Republicans claim they want to do for you - to make your own money and efforts work for you. For example, having the government coordinate a program that uses some percentage of our earnings to give us an unemployment insurance program is more efficient, more stable, and far, far less expensive, than forcing us to look independently for commercial unemployment insurance. It also has knock-on effects that benefit you - even if you, personally, never need to collect on that insurance, and know that means someone who was unsuccessful will probably get the best use of the taxes you paid for that insurance, that makes your own success more likely. It helps to stabilize the economy as a whole, it spreads the wealth through the community bloodstream and keeps it flowing in a more healthy fashion.

Programs like Social Security and Medicare don't just help old people, they also help their children, whose own futures don't get sucked away by having to take care of aging parents (both physically and economically) - parents who might otherwise have to live with you if you don't want the misery (or at least shame) of having them sleep on grates. Parents who might become a burden on your marriage, on your finances (forget sending the kids to college), and an impediment to all of your hopes to give your kids a better life.

In other words, these "wasteful" liberal programs make it more likely that you will be successful and can pursue life, liberty, and happiness a little more hopefully - and they save you money. You would never be able to afford these things if you had to spend that same money yourself on the commercial market.

And you wouldn't save it anyway, because employers aren't going to suddenly start giving you more money. Your take-home pay (after payroll taxes) is $50,000 a year? Fine - now that there are no more payroll taxes, you can live on that - we can pay you $50,000 a year and you now have the "freedom" to figure out how to spend it. Oh, you refuse? Well, I'm sure we can hire newer, younger staff who will find a way....

And what the oligarchs never want you to think about is that heavily taxing the rich - especially things like estate taxes - also make the economy richer, improve your opportunities, increase the likelihood of innovation, and all that other good stuff that America is supposed to be especially good at. Because without estate taxes, wealthy families can keep accumulating wealth for their unproductive offspring and keep that money out of the economy, making them stronger and you proportionately weaker, until the vast majority of people are little more than serfs and slaves working for a tiny number of Malefactors of Great Wealth. Money is like blood in the economy's body, and if it doesn't circulate - if it all accumulates at the top - the body withers while the head becomes stuffed up and bloated, and neither part functions very well.

Now, I'm not saying Democrats have been blameless in allowing the Tories to take over - hell, some of them are Tories themselves. But the Republicans have always been "the party of business" - by which they mean big, bloated business, and not family-farm-and-local-shop business. And the more successful they've been, the more completely they control anything that could get in the way of big, bloated business taking away what you've worked hard for, including your family farm and local shop.

As a person whose memory has always been spotty in the best of times, I'm surprised that I remember watching these patterns so much better than most people do. But I'm hoping you'll all remember it, now that others are talking about it, and repeat it, and spread the knowledge, before they finish closing all the libraries and taking the internet away from us and deleting that knowledge once and for all.

15:24 BST

But I refuse to let you go

Charles alerts me that Patrick Leahy doesn't believe the lone nut theory: "The chairman of the of Senate Judiciary Committee said Wednesday he does not believe that Dr. Bruce Ivins acted alone in the deadly 2001 anthrax attacks. Sen. Patrick Leahy was one of the targets of the lethal anthrax-laced letters that killed five and sickened 17 in fall 2001." Whoever the culprit is, he/they also tried to assassinate Tom Daschle. (Also: "Newsweek commits journalism regarding Bolivia! One of their staff actually interviewed someone who is (a) not a member of the Bush regime, and (b) knows something.")

It's always nice to see someone besides me say it: "The sad thing is that few of these people will acknowledge that they simply got played, and instead want to cast McCain as a character in a play about a man's tragic downfall. He was always an unprincipled hack, but for a very long time his political fortunes were the result of his understanding of and willingness to cater to the desires of elite Villagers. Now he has a different target."

My commenters dispute that Alan Greenspan is really the author of our troubles, and ascribe more blame to Phil Gramm - and to Ronald Reagan. (They're also talking about the problems at Ford.)

I totally love the punch-line to this article about how a typical Republican was the victim of a typical Republican crime.

RIP: Norman Whitfield, 67, will live forever - "I Heard It Through the Grapevine", "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone", "Cloud Nine", "Ain't Too Proud to Beg", "Beauty's Only Skin Deep", "Just My Imagination", "Too Busy Thinking About My Baby", and that one I truly wish you'd all gone to school on before you really needed to know it seven years ago, "War". (Live version here.)

I hope you all appreciate the effort it took to compile those song links, you bastards.

13:36 BST

Open windows

So, the US embassy in Yeman was car-bombed yesterday, and not a lot of people seem to have noticed. "The attack, which included an assault by heavily armed fighters and a car bomb, and left 16 people dead (including six of the attackers) is part of a long-standing pattern of incidents targeting the West and its allies, although no Americans were among Wednesday's dead." Oh, I see....

Dday considers Fourthbranch Cheney's relationship to the Constitution.

Even after he is told twice, McBush can't tell the difference between Zapatero and Zapata, and probably doesn't know Spain isn't in Latin America, either.

I found this link in Eschaton comments somewhere, titled as, "Old White Republican Endorses Young Black Guy."

Michael Hirsh blames Greenspan.

George Saunders should run for vice president. He's clearly qualified.

I believe it was ProfW who recommended Stan Getz and Kenny Barron doing "People Time", so I went to YouTube and looked it up, and it's truly fine. In fact, I think I'll listen to it again right now.

Q: What do the 9/11 terrorists have in common with John McCain???
A: None of them ever learned to land correctly.

00:07 BST

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Thin ice

The biggest bail-out: "The world's major central banks banded together on Thursday to inject as much as $180 billion into money markets in a bid to stave off the growing global financial crisis. Yes, the entire western world is trying to prop us up.

Atrios: "Assuming no buyer shows up, market wisdom suggests the strong likelihood that some upcoming Friday, at about 8PM EST, the FDIC will quietly add it to their failed bank list. And then the FDIC will probably need to be bailed out." That's the one I've been waiting to hear. FDIC - Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation - is the one that insures the money you have in your savings account.

A a simple economic fact is that tax cuts for the rich represent tax hikes for the rest of us, and that means more of our money that used to be paid on services for us goes to projects that do little aside from enriching the wealthy further. The Republican program actually costs you money, and you don't get much for your money, either.

Asian markets also grappling with economic weirdness. Actually, my main interest in this article is the fact that the Grauniad hires people who don't know about that "line-spacing" thing. Someone go beat them up for me.

The Rude One says that John McCain is just that creepy guy you didn't go on a date with. But you know what kind of trouble that guy can cause.

Here's a decent ad from the Dems going after Norm Coleman for supporting Bush's war. Coleman, as you know, is being challenged for his Senate seat by Al Franken. (I am also informed that Sarah Palin is "familiar with energy".)

Obama says he has a plan for the economy in a two-minute ad.

Edsall says the momentum is shifting back to Obama as more voters see McSame as unlikely to bring change and more likely to continue or expand the Bush policies everybody hates. Maybe because people have suddenly been forced to talk about those issues. Even the corporate media can't pretend that nothing is happening to the economy.

Echidne is talking about Bitch magazine here, but it goes beyond that. The corporate media has pushed to drive up the postal costs of small magazines, and it's hurting all of them. And they don't have sugar daddies that are willing to throw millions of dollars away on losing propositions the way the right-wing rags do. I don't know why liberal/Democratic donors continue to ignore this issue, but there's been all-out war on every aspect of non-right-wing/non-corporate media, and of course it's hurting leftish/liberal publications.

Believing is believing.

13:51 BST

So much to do, there's plenty on the farm

21 years ago, McCain was the champion of deregulation, and continued to be even though his deregs caused a major banking meltdown and scandal (and he got busted for accepting bribes) - all the way up until a day or so ago when he was embarrassed yet again for trying to pretend it's all good. (Also: Kevin has a little project he would like your help with.)

It was just like a push-poll except for the ways that it wasn't.

Chris Edelson thinks the media's disenchantment with McCain is hurting him, but Bob Somerby says they're still doing what they always do, and Eric Boehlert says the media have made themselves irrelevant. Oh, and Josh Orton also says they're doing what they always do.

Believe it or not, there were actually bipartisan efforts in the House in 2005 to pass a bill that would have gone some way toward preventing the current banking disaster, actually led by a Republican who enlisted Barney Frank's help and got a bill passed - but the Senate and the White House were just not interested, and now that Republican is pissed off at having the blame for the mess laid at the door of "Congress".

"This is Your Nation on White Privilege."

"Working Harder for Less Mocks the American Dream."

I think Dahlia Lithwick is going all "A Modest Proposal" on us, here, but I'm not quite sure. (Thanks to Daryl McCullough for the tip.)

"I'll Sleep When I'm Dead"

00:32 BST

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

They used to tell me I was building a dream

It could have been prevented - but not the GOP way. And how's your money market fund doing?

"History Lesson: Wall Street, Economy Do Better Under Democrats" It's not even close.

The biggest Bridge to Nowhere: "The Federal Reserve is negotiating a $85-90 billion secured bridge loan for American International Group Inc., according to a report on CNBC."

Bullwinkle assassinated.

"Brother Can You Spare a Dime?"

12:07 BST

A bunch of links

When it comes to being open-minded, I'd like to draw the line at trusting the views of people who have shown themselves to be consistently wrong.

There's some reveling in the misfortune of others over at The Poor Man Institute after a typical Republican jerk has a typical Republican jerk's encounter with crime.

Jim Macdonald explains McCain's healthcare plan: "Make it more expensive, make it riskier, and for some people, make it nonexistent." And Teresa and friends ruminate on how we got here.

I know we don't think McCain and Palin are qualified to run a business, but then, Neither do their surrogates. (I guess they'd have to, for example, have to learn about non-discrimination laws, but that's not the kind of thing you ask contestants in a beauty pageant.)

Hm, it sounds like someone was really embarrassed about all that "explanation" that McCain's computer illiteracy was the result of his being a POW.

DHS contractor threatens woman with arrest for wearing "lesbian.com" tee on federal property: "Security guards contracted by the DHS threw a woman out of a Social Security office in Van Nuys for wearing a t-shirt that read "lesbian.com." He claimed that "The Rules and Regulations Governing Conduct on Federal Property" gave him the right to throw her out for wearing a t-shirt with the word "lesbian" on it."

How Sidney McSame will solve our problems.

We're Gonna Party Like It's 1789 - I wonder, do you think these people know that much history? Because they sure don't act like they think anyone will get mad or anything.

Gary Farber's got the alternative election news covered. (I see that Wonder Woman says Sarah Palin is the anti-Wonder Woman.)

Why not take the Black Commentator survey? And while you're there, you might want to help out with their fundraising drive.

I rather enjoyed this Hovis ad.

01:22 BST

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Three strikes

McCain and health insurance - he wants it to be even worse for you. And the Obama team should be constantly reminding people that McCain himself has three different taxpayer-funded health insurance policies, through his membership in Congress, from the VA, and from Medicare. Even if his wife dumped him and the citizens of Arizona kicked him out, he'd still have all of those for the rest of his life, on your dime.

Candidate McCain Violates U.S. Naval Academy Honor Code: "During the Republican convention in St. Paul, Fred Thompson offered a folksy if bizarre recounting of John McCain's rebellious days at the United States Naval Academy. But while McCain's bottom-of-his-class record there was "loaded with demerits," Thompson assured Americans, "he never violated the honor code." That may or may not have been true about John McCain's days at Annapolis. But there can be no doubt that with his avalanche of lies, distortions and smears, candidate John McCain is violating that code today."

Ruth talks about how, McShame to the contrary, the fundamentals are not sound, and Krugman talks to Olbermann about that economic stuff McCain doesn't know. (And Diane has an update on one of Aafia Siddiqui's missing children.)

20:56 BST

I have a headache the size of Montana

Well, this is a sad day. I put in my first little stat-counter on 3 December 2001, a couple of weeks after I started this weblog, but now they've done a re-vamp (not, I hasten to add, a lethal one like the recent SiteMeter disaster), and they say the old one won't be supported anymore, but if you install the new one it starts from zero. Although I'm less than satisfied with the accuracy of eXTReMe's tracker, it has its uses, and I'm used to having their little logo up at the top, so I'm going to go along with them and use the new tracker on current pages (but I'm not going to go through every single page I've ever posted to change to the new one). FYI, the best tracker on this page is StatCounter, which is invisible (even in the free version), and therefore doesn't mess up the page when their site is messed up or being upgraded because it doesn't have to look for the graphic.

I just knew we hadn't heard the last of that waffles thing. (Just for the record, I can't connect with guys who pay a lot of attention to Joe Biden's shirt cuffs.)

I see Atrios had the same reaction that Mr. Sideshow had to that worrying thing about the Fed suspending rules against banks robbing their depositors in order try "to help finance their investment banking subsidiaries to allow them to fund activities normally funded in the repo market on a temporary basis until January 30 2009." He says, "Perhaps it is mattress time." I confess to having thought this myself.

Libby found some Notable quotes on Palin that highlight just how Bushian she is, and also notes that Without her, McCain is nothing.

MahaBarb notes that Tom Friedman himself is beginning to question the conervative/Republican approach to business and development, and the media overall has been a lot more willing to express skepticism of Palin and McCain. (Not that this changes the fact that their overarching narratives serve McCain-Palin's chances in the fall.) Also: More on the scary economy.

Shooting the Moon.

Cripes, how did this happen?


15:27 BST

Monday, 15 September 2008

Everything under the sun is in tune

After Republican Phil Gramm ruined our economy, John McCain chose him as his economic advisor. But they'll swear the rotten economy is all the Democrats' fault.

Thers explains why Sarah Palin is a fiscal conservative (and you're not), and John Cole brings back a favorite cartoon to illustrate how to identify a fiscal conservative.

At TalkLeft, Jeralyn says San Francisco voters will be able to vote on decriminalization of prostitution. Like Jeralyn, I favor the proposal, which actually offers the opportunity to increase the safety of sex workers. (The argument that it might attract pimps is pretty thin when pimps are actually a much more common factor where prostitution is illegal than where it's been decriminalized.) TChris says Troy Davis' petition for clemency has been rejected, even though there is no evidence to suggest he might be guilty. The state of Georgia, unsurprisingly, appears to subscribe to the belief that it's better to murder an innocent man than admit an error. And BTD recalls what the Justices said in Roe v. Wade.

Tom Toles on a bridge to somewhere.

The words of George Walker Bush. And his victory.

Congratulations to George Takei and Brian Altman on their wedding. I think it's sweet that Walter Koenig was best man, and Nichelle Nichols was their matron of honor.

No, I didn't realize that Richard Wright had died, but it's always a good time for another a Pink Floyd track.

23:08 BST

New car, caviar, four star daydream

Krugman is worried about Financial Russian Roulette: "Will the U.S. financial system collapse today, or maybe over the next few days? I don't think so - but I'm nowhere near certain. You see, Lehman Brothers, a major investment bank, is apparently about to go under. And nobody knows what will happen next." And it's not just Krugman, not at all. Why, almost everyone is freaking out at this point. And Obama knows where to point the finger. So, naturally, McSame shill Donald Luskin is saying they're all a bunch of pessimistic whiners and the economy is no problem. Pay no attention to that oncoming train behind the curtain....

Mr. Sideshow got worried by one line in that FT article, and funcity said he's right and this means "the final nail in Glass-Steagall's coffin." You might want to read up on Glass-Steagall, which was passed specifically to prevent another Republican Great Depression, and started being repealed piece-by-piece in 1980. So, we're left holding the bag.

It's almost funny, but if you think about it, the McCains and Palins offer every negative stereotype about blacks between them.

Thanks to Bruce F. for alerting me to Stan Goff's "Open Letter to Christian US Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan". "America is now Rome. You are Rome's army of occupation. To the Roman soldier, when Jesus passed down the dusty byways of his occupied land, he appeared no more or less than a random Iraqi or Afghan appears to you. What do you look like to them?"

How J. Sidney McBush courts women. Republicans are really good at tokenism, which is their own brand of "affirmative action" - throw in a minority, any minority, and never mind whether they have the stuff for the job. In fact, it works in their favor to hire people of inferior qualification, because then you can point to them and say, "See? We have to hire these people who can't do the job because there aren't any qualified blacks/women/etc." I ain't sayin' Democrats don't have their own brand of tokenism, but at least they know there are qualified blacks and women - there are miles of difference between Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas. But, in fairness to Lyndon, Marshall was never just a token: He'd earned his place on the Supreme Court, as no movement conservative ever will.

Obama ad hits back at McCain's problem with the truth. "It seems deception is all he has left."

Pink Floyd live at Pulse

16:24 BST

The Listening President

Check out Gellman in the WaPo about the kind of event that posed a real crisis for Cheney:

It was an awkward question. Potenza, the NSA's acting general counsel, and Brenner, its inspector general, were supposed to be the ones who kept their agency on the straight and narrow. That's what Cheney and their boss, Lt. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, told doubters among the very few people who knew what was going on. Cheney, who chaired briefings for select members of Congress, said repeatedly that the NSA's top law and ethics officers -- career public servants -- approved and supervised the surveillance program.

That was not exactly true, not without one of those silent asterisks that secretly flip a sentence on its tail. Every 45 days, after Justice Department review, Bush renewed his military order for warrantless eavesdropping. Brenner and Potenza told Hayden that the agency was entitled to rely on those orders [4]. The United States was at war with al-Qaeda, intelligence-gathering is inherent in war, and the Constitution appoints the president commander in chief.

But they had not been asked to give their own written assessments of the legality of domestic espionage. They based their answer in part on the attorney general's certification of the "form and legality" of the president's orders. Yet neither man had been allowed to see the program's codeword-classified legal analyses [5], which were prepared by John C. Yoo, Addington's close ally in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel. Now they wanted to read Yoo's opinions for themselves [6]

So Cheney sent Addington to tell them the score, and the score was:
"The president doesn't want this! [1] You are not going to see the opinions. You are out . . . of . . . your . . . lane!"
Of course, we already know that Bush always finds a way to fire anyone who doesn't agree with him. He says he "listens" to his generals, but those are the ones he hasn't fired when they said what he didn't want to hear. I've always taken it for granted that Petreaus figured out the lay of the land and learned to say only what Bush wanted to hear, which is why he's a great military hero who can't be disparaged, while the ones who stood up and did their jobs are slimed and ruined. But the ones he keeps around - they throw away their honor for him and then they get to carry the can. These two guys were supposed to be responsible for Bush's illegal behavior without even seeing the material they were supposed to have approved. Trying to take that responsibility got them a face full of David Addington's spittle.
"This is none of your business!" Addington exploded.
Sometimes I wonder whether we should always put "Bush" in quotes for these kinds of things, since, although they have presidential authorization, such as it is, they all come straight from Cheney's office and it's unclear that he has any idea what they actually say, other than, "You can do whatever you want."

13:37 BST

I'm doing things that haven't got a name yet

So now Maureen Dowd wants substance? Please. Why not write about substance where it actually is Maureen? Oh, wait, I can vaguely remember how she reacted to substance... said it was boring. (Mind you, if the Obama campaign sent us links to videos of Obama being wonky, we might talk about it.)

Oh, and McCain is lying about Obama and immigration reform in Spanish, too.

Everybody is pointing to Calculated Risk and scaring me. But it's like when you've been seeing that light at the end of the tunnel getting closer and closer way too fast and knowing it's an oncoming train but no one's paying attention, or they're trying to tell you it's just the end of the tunnel, and then suddenly you can see the glint of steel and people start going, "Oh my god! It's an oncoming train!"

Thers explains the Bush Doctrine.

Why I might not respect their sincerely held beliefs.

I wonder how much they paid someone to totally ruin something that worked. For dog's sake, if you don't need Flash, don't use it.

Thanks to Indistinct Union for alerting me to another exciting Bible translation.

I want my toast to say, "Impeach!"

It's a Wild Tyme.

02:52 BST

Sunday, 14 September 2008

There's no place like home

Pavillion contour braI'm just off the road back from Wales, so thanks to my commenters for supplying lots of links to catch me up. We apologize for the delay in posting the Bra of the Week.

First things first: Get better, Teresa.

Ken Silverstein on Why facts don't matter to McCain and Palin.

What's OK if you're a Republican, but not if you're a Democrat.

Bob Herbert says, "She's Not Ready." You know, I would have thought it'd be obvious that you'd want someone to be president had actually spent some time figuring out what the job was, first. God alive, even with my crappy memory I remember that the Bush Doctrine basically amounts to "Bomb the Bejeezus Out of Them Before They Have a Chance to Think About Bombing You." Surely everyone knows that.

Yes, I was too late to see the video from the SNL sketch described and posted here from the YouTube clip, but fortunately After Ellen has the goods, along with additional info, such as: "ABC News reports that aboard the Jet Blue plane carrying Palin and the press last night, there were 'howls of laughter from the sizeable press corps' when the Palin-Clinton skit aired, 'but, from the front of the plane, silence' even though 'the flight attendants assured us Palin and her entourage were watching.'"

Memos like this are good if you are going to force your surrogates to study them and then get them on TV where they can get the facts out and call the McCain team a liar. Having them on blogs is nearly pointless unless all those Dem operatives are going to finally get clued-up and start reading blogs.

More of that good, old-fashioned, deciding to let people die in the storm.

This Week in Tyranny, Dan covers the GOP's voter suppression efforts across the land. (Oh, Dan, the answer to your question is: Erroneously. The URL for the comment automatically came up when I posted it, but I was supposed to have remembered that and given the address for the actual post.)

Welcome to Your New Job!

21:05 BST

Saturday, 13 September 2008

What goes on in that place in the dark?

It's only very recently that it occurred to me that with my dark hair and olive complexion, some idiot from ICE might actually bug me for proof that I'm an American citizen. But these days when I'm back home, I'm carrying my passport anyway, and, most of all, I'm middle class. But what if I weren't?

Mark Adams' quick Palin links.

Mary reads the writings of a rich liberal.

Fred Clark on that weird old rumor about Proctor & Gamble, attempted debunking, and False witnesses: "I used to believe that maybe some people were that stupid. They were acting that stupid, so I went along. I believed that the people I was sending that dossier to were merely innocent dupes. But in truth they were neither innocent nor dupes. The category of innocent dupe does not apply here. No one could be honestly misled by such a story. The only way to have been misled by it is dishonestly -- which is to say deliberately, willingly and willfully. They are claiming to believe a foolish thing, but they are not guilty of foolishness. They are guilty of malice. They are just plain guilty."

Charles Dodgson thinks Obama should make it about the fact that Cindy McCain's earrings are worth more than your house.

I've actually always wanted to smack anyone who claims that it's necessary for a Democrat to run around sounding like a Republican when running for office in a "conservative" district. This is bollocks for the simple, obvious reason that if the people in that district want a Republican, they can bloody well vote for one and they don't need a fake one. Which means you have to give them something else to vote for. And anyway, why are you running if you're not going to be any different from your opponent? But, you know, even though everyone has known for 60 years that when people are offered a choice between a Republican and a Republican, they vote for the Republican, they are still doing it and they are still going to screw the pooch by doing so. Idiots.


Weather report: Light posting is predicted for this weekend.

11:01 BST

A few links

With the GOP, everything is an opportunity to reduce the voting rolls - like, say, foreclosure notices.

People used to say, "You can't make this stuff up." And yet, they make up this weird stuff - like the idea that McCain can't use the internet because he was a POW.

In which "liberals" who are attacking Palin for not staying home with the kids turn out to be Dr. Laura.

E.J. Dionne says McCain is running a filthy campaign but Obama needs to punch harder to get the truth out about issues, and he needs to shape up his electoral vote strategy.

Barbara Boxer does a pretty good job talking to Tweety about lipstick.

Cardiff Castle made of cheese (story)

02:42 BST

Friday, 12 September 2008

Flee from me, keepers of the gloom

The voting machines that failed in DC, creating an extremely unlikely number of write-in votes, were not Diebold machines, but were made by Sequoia Voting Systems. They have a record of frequent failure, and are easily hacked by anyone who knows how to do it - such as, for example, the far-right movement Republicans who own most of the voting machines in America. According to the WaPo:

"It was determined that one defective cartridge caused vote totals to be duplicated into multiple races on the summary report issued by our office. The Board immediately caught and addressed this error, as is reflected in the last unofficial results report issued on Election Night," Murphy said in the statement.

He refused to answer questions from reporters, and no members of the election board appeared.

Industry specialists questioned the board's explanation.

Really! The explanation makes no sense. I still haven't seen any articles that mention who the mysterious write-in votes were for. (And I wish Brad would do something about the fact that his pages load very, very slowly, and that the link to his print page doesn't work as a link to take my readers to the print page, but only back to the original, slow-loading page. Brad, there are still people on dial-up, you know.) Also, more evidence that the GOP is a bunch of far-right loons.

"Living In the Shadow of the Bomb Thrower: Tuesday marked the ten year anniversary of Independent Counsel (IC) Kenneth Starr sending the report of his investigation to the House. The deafening silence on the occasion speaks volumes. Why haven't Republicans marked it with great ceremony and made sure everyone had the chance to recognize their heroic defense of the Rule Of Law? Going to such great lengths and taking such extreme measures to attempt to rein in the rampant criminality of the Clinton administration had to have been a truly selfless act of public service, no?"

Krugman knows from lying Republicans, but even he is stunned by the current Blizzard of Lies: "Why do the McCain people think they can get away with this stuff? Well, they're probably counting on the common practice in the news media of being "balanced" at all costs. You know how it goes: If a politician says that black is white, the news report doesn't say that he's wrong, it reports that "some Democrats say" that he's wrong. Or a grotesque lie from one side is paired with a trivial misstatement from the other, conveying the impression that both sides are equally dirty." And what is past is prologue.

The 1900 Storm

"The Rain Song" live at Earl's Court.

18:38 BST

Just what we needed

Charles reports, "Bolivia, Venezuela cut diplomatic ties with US: The Russians have landed long-range bombers in Venezuela and may soon be doing joint naval exercises. and both Bolivia and Venezuela have cut diplomatic ties over US meddling. Bolivia accuses the US of supporting separatists that have blocked highways, blown up a pipeline, and shut down the export of natural gas, thereby shutting off revenues to the central government. Chavez says he has new evidence of the US participating in a coup plot against him." Blowing up pipelines? Hm, that sounds like ... um, what's that word? It's right on the tip of my tongue... Oh, yeah, "terrorism"! Boy, this administration sure knows how to bring the hypocrisy, not to mention make friends.

Oh, look, the Republicans are trying to stir up a generation war over Social Security again. They tried it before, but it didn't work because those "selfish" Baby-Boomers didn't hate their parents enough to want them to be put out on ice floes. But hey, Republicans have spent decades lying about the post-war Baby-Boom generation and trying to convince everyone to hate Boomers, so now they're going to tell you that, despite the fact that Boomers have paid more into Social Security than any other generation, Boomers will "selfishly" want to collect Social Security when they retire and it's all because they are just so mean and selfish that after working and paying in for their entire working lives they - gasp! - don't want to sleep on grates! How dare they!!!?!?!?!?!

Kevin Drum says McCain was sleazy before a "cabal of ruthless advisors" joined his campaign - he likes doing it. He also notes that even Michael Kinsley has had enough, and even Joe Klein is calling BS on the idea that it's Obama, and not McCain, who wants to raise your taxes. (And Quddity says they're not the only ones. And could even Tweety be off the bus? But the last to know is...James Carville.)

Palin is apparently itching for a war with Russia. Oh, boy.

I see via Down With Tyranny that George Will thought 9/11 would be a good day to attack the idea that firemen get pensions.

Sarah Palin, Voice of God

Once again, this just proves that importing fire from France is - it's madness, I tell you! Madness!

The Cars

11:21 BST

Thursday, 11 September 2008

More and more

Lance Mannion says, "Sarah Palin's lies are John McCain's lies. [...] She is his running mate. She is his choice. She is his responsibility. All criticism of her needs to be tied to him. She is the living proof that John McCain, Maverick, Reformer, Straight-talker, is a fraud. " (Thanks to Julia for the tip.)

Another outstanding false equivalence from your "liberal" media - it's the NYT, but Farber recognizes Naked David Broder when he sees it.

Jane Smiley on Palin In Purdah: "So, the McCain campaign has decided to make Sarah Palin off limits. Can't talk to her. Can't talk about her. Can't let any audience infer anything about her. You must uphold her honor at all times, or the McCain campaign will rush to her defense and attack and punish you. What does this sound like?"

I still haven't had a chance to look at many of these clips, but I remember when we were all horrified that the tone of Air America was being lowered by the presence of Michael Isikoff and Jonathan Alter, who were possibly the worst of Rachel's regular guests - and now I wonder if they won't turn out to be as good as it gets. Did I miss the Reickoff appearance? (On the other hand, Atrios points out that Alter is better on Rachel's show than he is anywhere else, which can't be bad.)

17:37 BST

Your pig is gonna fly

Thers figures something's up when even the WaPo editorial casts a glaring eye on Team McSame's antics. I certainly can't argue with their analysis: "IT'S HARD to think of a presidential campaign with a wider chasm between the seriousness of the issues confronting the country and the triviality, so far anyway, of the political discourse." Of course, they can't restrain themselves from pretending that it's all a departure from some better McCain they knew earlier: "John McCain is a serious man who promised to wage a serious campaign. Win or lose, will he be able to look back on this one with pride? Right now, it's hard to see how." No, you jerks! McCain is a life-long screw-up and an opportunistic creep who has been trading on the fact that he managed to crash his (fifth) plane in enemy territory and spend the rest of the war as what we now call a captured "enemy combatant" - right up until he got busted in a bribery scandal and then burnished his image by hanging out with a decent Democrat to make everyone forget what a creep he is. Then he got even creepier and you want to pretend he was "a serious man". Serious about what? Just trying to get what he hasn't earned, as far as I can see. (Meanwhile, Roy tells us how the dead brains are playing this one.)

Brilliant Jill asks, "If she's tough enough to be president, why treat her like a fragile flower?" With, irresistibly, a little help from Tex Avery.

Joe Scarborough Explains How The "Liberal" MSNBC Works (actually, that could just as easily refer to the whole of the corporate media), and Tom Tomorrow follows-up.

I dunno, Stranger thinks Stephanie Cutter provided a good come-back, here, but I think it's a shame she didn't remember that McCain had used the "lipstick on a pig" thing on Hillary Clinton ages ago.

Remember September 10th.

"As Time Goes By"

14:10 BST

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

What we said

The Rude One wants Obama to stomp the hell out 'em and, absolutely, use the word "lie". Hm, if this quote from the Caucus Blog is an indicator, maybe he's getting the message: "Enough!" Mr. Obama said, interrupting a speech on education to address the latest controversy in the heated presidential campaign. "I don't care what they say about me, but I love this country too much to let them take over another election with lies and phony outrage and swift boat politics. Enough is enough."

Ruth gives credit to the news people who have been exposing the McCain/Palin lies (although she suggested to me that what this is about is to punish them for refusing to give them interviews), but as Digby points out, they're still getting McCain's message out.

Southern Beale discovers that Andrew Sullivan has had more scales peeled from his eyes - and what he sees is that John McCain is not a man of integrity at all, but instead one who has thrown away this opportunity to "transcend politics" and drag them further into the gutter than ever, instead.

Vietnam Veterans Against McCain - They weren't impressed by how he blocked efforts to find out what happened to POWs and MIAs in Vietnam. And DFA has an ad about how another POW sees McCain that they'd like to put on the air.

Or are we all just chumps?

Yes, this McCain biography from The Daily Show. (Thanks, Karen.)

Oh, look an Election Day Advent Calendar. Unfortunately, it's the paper kind you have to buy.

Awhile back, someone was kind enough to provide me this link in comments and I forgot to make note of who it was. It's me speaking in Newcastle in 2006 (a trip I mentioned to you at the time) about what being anti-pornography means to me. I originally didn't link to it because it started with the bit where I was doing a schtick of saying "Um" a lot and making a lot of faces and it kinda freaked me out because it didn't come through without the faces, but they seem to have taken that bit down and it sounds a little more articulate, now. (I can't help the feeling that someone may have suggested that what they'd done was a bit dishonest.) They seem to have double-posted one section, though, so you have to read the transcript to see what else I said. However, the person who transcribed it made a few uncomfortable mistakes, so there are a few places where I appear to be saying the opposite of what I actually said, so it would have been helpful to have the sound (The comment thread is illuminating; those are women who do not want to learn a thing. Well, for that matter, I guess you can expect that from a site called Dead Men Don't Rape.) BTW, I don't know how to download those Flash thingies, so if you know how, your advice would be welcomed.

23:31 BST

Hot blogging

Special thanks to Roy Edroso for this smack-down of Megan McArdle's sleazy suggestion that it's "coastal" liberals who can't identify with the concerns of "someone with a thick southern accent who likes NASCAR and attends a bible church":

Brushing aside this taunt from a child of privilege, let me first give a little personal background: my family never had any money. My father died when I was two. My mother lived on government subsidies, as were available before people like McArdle took such things away, and whatever extra income she could get from factory and restaurant jobs. I had the good fortune to receive scholarships -- again, in an era before McArdles slapped them out of the common people's hands -- that, along with my own labors and my mother's, put me through college.

Not everyone who works at a desk started that way. As a young adult I worked as a busboy, a waiter, a factory hand, and a messenger dispatcher. I'm not talking about a season after college -- I mean for years. I got my first writing job more than a decade after I graduated. Not everyone gets fast-tracked out of college to the Atlantic.

Those programs Roy is talking about are exactly why Americans still had the opportunity to "pull themselves up by their own bootstraps" back in the days when we had real upward mobility - before, as Roy says, the McArdles put a stop to it. Conservatives want us to believe that it "saves us money" and allows us to "keep more of what we worked hard for" to keep us poor.

I look away from Hullabaloo for a minute and when I come back I discover that Digby, Dday, and Tristero have been absolutely on fire on Why The Media Game Is Rigged, the construction of a hissy fit, the attack on sex education, the Republican "commitment" to feminism, and Atrios' Law. There's no way I can just pull out a few quotes - this is great stuff explaining the way the Republicans operate - and the media and the Democrats let them - and I absolutely recommend that you go to the page and read everything. Not to be missed.

And via that last link from Digby, Josh Marshall does the business: "Winning and losing is never fully in one's control -- not in politics or in life. What is always within our control is how we fight and bear up under pressure. It's easy to get twisted up in your head about strategy and message and optics. But what is already apparent is that John McCain is running the sleaziest, most dishonest and race-baiting campaign of our lifetimes. So let's stop being shocked and awed by every new example of it. It is undignified. What can we do? We've got a dangerously reckless contender for the presidency and a vice presidential candidate who distinguished herself by abuse of office even on the comparatively small political stage of Alaska. They've both embraced a level of dishonesty that disqualifies them for high office. Democrats owe it to the country to make clear who these people are. No apologies or excuses. If Democrats can say at the end of this campaign that they made clear exactly how and why these two are unfit for high office they can be satisfied they served their country." I do think I'll vomit if I hear one more demand for an "apology" from these lying scum. They don't apologize, and we should make clear that they say and do what they do because they have no moral compunction about doing it. The point is to put it together for all to see that they are lying scum and that this is (a) part of their entire ideology and (b) necessary for them to do because if they told the truth about what their ideology and policies really mean, they wouldn't simply lose elections - they'd be lucky if the worst that happened to them was that they only ended up in jail.

18:10 BST

Pig finds acorn

We must have turned some kind of corner when even Mark Halperin is embarrassed by the way the media is being suckered by McSame's team into playing up the McShame campaign's attacks on Obama for using the "lipstick on a pig" line to refer to the Bush-retread policies McBush supports:

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, listen, you can say all you want, John McCain said this about Hillary's health care proposal. But it was still foolish for Barack Obama to say because every night is precious for him, Anderson, in terms of getting his message out.

This is one night lost on your program where his message got muffled by this silliness over lipstick on a pig.

COOPER: Mark, you're shaking your head.

MARK HALPERIN, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Stop the madness. I think, with all due respect to the program's focus on, listen to David just said. I think this is the press just absolutely playing into the McCain campaign's crocodile tears.

COOPER: Crocodile tears.


COOPER: They knew exactly what it is.

HALPERIN: They knew exactly what he was saying. It's an expression. And this is a victory for the McCain campaign in the sense that every day they can make this a pig fight in the mud. It's good for them because it's reducing Barack Obama's message even more.

But I think this is a low point in the day and one of the low days of our collective coverage of this campaign. To spend even a minute on this expression, I think, is amazing and outrageous.

COOPER: Let's move on.

And, of course, Anderson Cooper did not want to talk about how it was the press and not Obama that deserved the criticism.

15:23 BST

"Just gimme that crowd!"

Chris Floyd: "It is now evident that the Pentagon claims were a lie. There was no investigation at the scene by American forces. No American official has even spoken to the villagers. All of the documentary evidence -- including photos, videos, the eyewitness testimony of Afghan officials and NGO staffers closely associated with the American presence in Afghanistan, and the presence of dozens of fresh, genuine graves -- points overwhelmingly to the truth of the initial report: On the night August 22, American bombs killed approximately 90 people sleeping in their homes in the village of Azizabad, a village where the Taliban had no presence." (Also: Joe Biden promises Fox News that they won't punish the White House criminals.)

Marc Ambinder says that Team Obama has suddenly realized the virtue of 527s. Oh, sure, now you get it. (via)

Tom Brokaw makes lame excuses in his response to FAIR's criticisms for his "warning" to Democrats to be careful about criticizing John Sidney POW.

Atrios: "I don't know if what goes on at NBC is influenced more by Tom Brokaw's golfing buddies or GE's desire for government contracts, but it's long been obvious that there's more going on than a simple quest for ratings and advertising dollars at MSNBC."

The odds are against us: "As pointed out extensively yesterday, the executive branch did not do what it is there for, which is to carry out the laws. Now it wants to insist other laws would do the trick, and does not own up to causing the crisis we're in by refusal to do its duty. Anyone following the situation from a position of minimal consciousness knows that the 'trickle down' theory the war criminals cling to has been shot down, definitively, on record."

Note to Echidne: You're right to be suspicious. What he doesn't say is that this thing comes around every few years, some guy "proves" that sex roles are blah blah blah, then a bunch of other people point out that there are problems with this conclusion, etc.

The Freeway Blogger announces the West Coast Tour.

Somebody find me the link for that Daily Show segment with Sidney's biography of heroically crashing his planes. 'Bout time someone said it.

No, I still haven't had time to watch clips from Rachel's TV Machine show, so I can't offer an opinion. But I don't expect it will be the Rachel I remember from before she started hanging out with a bad crowd.

"Special To Me"

01:10 BST

Tuesday, 09 September 2008

Wrong weather for al fresco dining

Thank you, Bob Herbert, for "Hold Your Heads Up"! "Ignorance must really be bliss. How else, over so many years, could the G.O.P. get away with ridiculing all things liberal? [...] It would take volumes to adequately cover the enhancements to the quality of American lives and the greatness of American society that have been wrought by people whose politics were unabashedly liberal. It is a track record that deserves to be celebrated, not ridiculed or scorned." (via)

This new Obama ad actually uses the phrase "politicians lying about their records". That's an interesting advance from "misspoke". Looks like a good ad, to me, as well - clear and straightforward.

Via Under the Lobsterscope I see that Juan Cole is in Salon putting the right question in front of what is becoming such a popular answer: "What's the difference between Palin and Muslim fundamentalists? Lipstick." And he would know.

D. Aristophanes at Sadly, No! has extracted the only worthwhile sentence fragment from yesterday's David Brooks column: "The Republicans are intellectually unfit to govern right now." The Brooks column itself is kind of, well, hilarious, in that weirdly in-denial way Brooks has of simultaneously admitting that the Republicans are crap while at the same time trying to pretend this somehow suggests something bad about the Democrats. And, typically for a Villager, one thing that doesn't figure in his calculations is what would actually be a good choice for the American public. Apparently, he wants Obama to attack Bill Maher. (Thanks to Anna for the tip.)

Down in comments, Chicago Dyke is taking issue with Krugman, pointing out that for many Americans, there are no "assets" to deflate, and the cost of living has already jumped to the crunch point on transport, energy bills, and our daily bread.

17:42 BST

Leftover links

Paul Krugman, who now turns out to be a fan of another of my favorite TV shows, reckons the Fed's takeover of Fanny and Freddie is a (mostly) good thing, but the plunge in asset values overall is still a larger problem: "But Sunday's action needs to be seen in a larger context - that of the attempt by the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department to contain the fallout from the ongoing financial crisis. And that's a fight the feds seem to be losing." Oh, yeah, and when things got bad, Bush wouldn't let them do things that would help the economy.

On my television network, the RNC convention event that would have been played on a loop by all of my political presenters would have been the bit of the Tennessee roll call vote where Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey proudly announced, "Tennessee casts 55 votes for George S. McCain."

One part of Sarah Palin's speech at the RNC frightened community organizers: "The quote from Dickens, A Christmas Carol, comes to mind: "Are there no workhouses; are there no prisons?". This was Scrooge's response to "community organizers" seeking donation for the poor. Last night community organizers were equated with irresponsibility and radicalism by Gov. Palin in her speech. "

Thanks to CMike for alerting me to the episode of This American Life on how the American Psychiatric Association decided in 1973 that homosexuality was no longer a mental illness. (Listen here.) [Which reminds me, the link I have for the This American Life story on Al Gore not claiming he discovered Love Canal seems to have died when they reorganized their pages. Simple searches on the new pages aren't finding it, but since other stories from that period are on the site, I gotta believe it's there somewhere. Can someone who is better at this find it for me?]

12:16 BST

Monday, 08 September 2008

Here's to the land you've torn out the heart of

Cookie Jill has a nice quote from Barbara Boxer on Fightin' John McCain: "In the 16 years that we have served together in the Senate, I have seen John McCain fight. I have seen him fight against raising the federal minimum wage 14 times. I have seen him fight against making sure that women earn equal pay for equal work. I have seen him fight against a women's right to choose [...] against helping families gain access to birth control against Social Security... And I saw him fight against the new GI Bill of Rights until it became politically untenable for him to do so. John McCain voted with President Bush 95 percent of the time in 2007 and 100 percent of the time in 2008 -- that's no maverick."

Matt Yglesias reminds us that the public does care if the press convinces them that a candidate is a liar - but the only candidates they call liars are the ones that aren't liars. (via)

Say it again: Torture is immoral. That anyone who has been subjected to it - and who continues to hate those who did it to him - can now be a party to torturing others, says nothing good about him.

You know, I bet the Afghans aren't grateful to us, either.

The General is dismayed to find that the executive director of the Forerunner International Ministries has altered his blog post asking people to pray for the early demise, if he is elected, of John McCain - and of course, the General written a letter. (Also: Austin Cline on Republicans and democratic policies: No You Can't.)

"Just go to the Emergency Room."

Ooooh, they really didn't know what they were getting with Russell Brand, did they? This is a guy who even makes Jonathan Ross do takes.

Being and Bloginess has changed its name, and also instructs us that when the line drops during your phone conversation, the new rule is that whoever initiated the call makes the call-back.

It just occurred to me that "Sarah Palin" scans much better than "George Bush" or "John McCain" in "Here's to the State of Mississippi"/"Richard Nixon."

23:27 BST

On with the show

More stories of how McCain can't control his temper. You know, most people in real jobs would be fired for behaving this way. (Also: Unsurprisingly, Palin's church is into Pray Away the Gay.)

Stung by criticisms that Keith Olbermann is too liberal, MSNBC declares Keith and Tweety will not anchor the political coverage, but David Gregory, a reliable repeater of RNC talking points, will do it himself. Atrios has a good description of Olbermann's so-called liberalism: "I'll just add, for the hundredth time, that Keith Olbermann's expressed 'liberalism' is almost entirely limited to a dislike and distrust of the Bush administration, a view shared by 70% of the public, and a concern for civil liberties and executive power abuse. On top of that he has a somewhat liberal 'sensibility,' but his show covers little of the broader 'liberal agenda.' But he makes Tom Brokaw uncomfortable so, you know." So the Republicans aren't happy with a news anchor who doesn't disagree with 70% of the public, and NBC accommodates them with someone who treats weirdo right-wing Republican hackery as if it makes sense. (John Cole was prescient, but that wasn't hard.) You could call them on (212) 664-4444 or fax them on (212) 664-4426 to tell them this is outrageous right-wing bias on their part, of course. But there are other reasons why they won't pay attention. (Write or phone anyway, just because.)

Susie observes another clever bit of politics by the Dems when they decide to let the Republicans off the hook over SCHIP, and calls it "Brilliant" - adding, "They really don't understand the concept of showmanship, do they?"

The Trap, or how we were all liberated.

In Scotland, it's not uncommon to walk up to a counter and ask for a pizza and see them deep-fry it. They also do deep-fried Mars Bars, I'm told. But they got nothin' on Texas.

16:37 BST

She is the girl of his dreams

Eric Boehlert is gratifyingly scathing about the press coverage of the Denver DNC and their excuses for its failure: "Question for Abramson: Who pre-selected that "soap opera" narrative? Answer: The press. What actual proof did the press have to support it? Almost none. (Hillary Clinton had already publicly, and formally, endorsed Obama months prior to the convention.) I suspect if a truth serum poll could have been conducted in Denver to find out how many professional pol watchers within the press corps actually thought that Bill or Hillary Clinton would refuse to "embrace" Obama at the convention, the answer would have been zero. But how many within the press pretended for days that that was a possibility? Almost all of them."

I always enjoy watching the self-described libertarians of the blogosphere trying to convince themselves that right-wing repressive loonies are actually libertarian-ish (presumably because they have guns and are in the pocket of some big corporate constituency). Just the fact that they would ask the question about Palin shows where their hearts really lie. (And Paul Campos wonders if McCain has made a fatal mistake.)

Meet the stupidest guy in Congress. Maybe even the stupidest guy in the history of Congress.

Sarah Palin is not a hockey mom - she's a hockey player. (And Sam Seder says: "Todd Palin's former business partner- yes, the one the Natl. Enquirer claims had an affair with Sarah Palin, just filed an emergency motion to seal his divorce records...")

Steve Benen fact-checks the fact-check at the WaPo that treats a true statement by Biden and an outright lie by Palin as equally "questionable" statements.

Digby says those working-class voters aren't really all that impressed with Palin, 'cause It's The Economy Dillweed.

Seattle Dan did his book report on The U.S. Constitution. (Includes video of an interview with Dahlia Lithwick.)

How Sarah Palin Got Chosen As VP

I needed this song today.

12:39 BST

Sunday, 07 September 2008

Assorted stuff

Bruce Lisker has been in jail for a quarter of a century for a murder he probably didn't commit. And then a good cop named Gavin looked into the case and found the case against him wasn't credible. When he was told to stay away from it, he went to the papers - and he got fired. So he's suing, and Lisker is still going through the process of trying to get out of jail. Justice in America.

Dan continues to go through Jayne Mayer's The Dark Side finding more little details, and many other things, This Week in Tyranny.

Jeez, even Chris Wallace isn't buying Palin's "reformer" schtick (but the media still loves her).

Molly Ivors is less than thrilled when Joe Biden provides another angle for the derangement of Maureen Dowd.

If it's good enough for the USA, it's good enough for Europe: "British citizens could be convicted in their absence by foreign courts for traffic, credit card or other criminal offences under plans approved in principle by the European Parliament." (Thanks to Rich for the tip.)

Back in the '90s, David Tennant was in a TV show called Taking Over the Asylum - six episodes on the BBC. Now that they've sorted out the music rights it's available (in the UK) on DVD. And of course, there are clips on YouTube.

I didn't know this footage existed, either, but thanks to Anna for providing this addition to our Keith Moon memorial: The High Numbers at the Railway Hotel, 1964.

22:55 BST

More media

NYT "Public Editor" Clark Hoyt has been fielding attacks on the paper for attempting to take a look at Palin's background. Hoyt (who is definitely no Debbie Howell) has been willing to come down hard on the paper in the past when they deserved it, so his straightforward defense of them this time is worth taking on board:

In our instant-news and celebrity- obsessed culture, Palin went from Sarah Who to conservative rock star in less than a week. In less than two months, she could be elected vice president to serve under the oldest president, at 72, ever elected to a first term, and one with a history of recurring melanoma. Intense, independent scrutiny by The Times and the rest of the news media of Palin's background, character and record was inevitable and right.

And, yes, it was inevitable, and right to a more limited degree, that her family would come under the spotlight, too. As Bill Keller, The Times's executive editor, said, "Senator McCain presented Mrs. Palin's experience as a mother as one of her qualifications for the job."

It was also predictable that party professionals would object vigorously to stories that might undermine the image they were trying to project of Palin as an accomplished governor successfully juggling her "hockey mom" family duties while fighting corruption in Alaska.

Fair enough, I think. Hoyt says they were also hit hard for questioning McCain's judgment in choosing a woman who had not been sufficiently vetted, and he stands by that, too, although he acknowledges that the stories had some errors. (I would argue that Palin's close association with a secessionist group is still significant, especially since she says she flew back to Alaska from Texas after her water broke because her husband didn't want their child to be born a Texan. I think he didn't want their child to be born a mere American rather than an Alaskan. And I think she was nuts to go along with it - as nuts as her husband.)
The drip-drip-drip of these stories seems like partisanship to Palin's partisans. But they fill out the picture of who she is, and they represent a free press doing its job, investigating a candidate who might one day be the leader of the Free World.
The cable and broadcast media has tended to be more friendly toward Palin and it's having an effect on the polls. So is the fact that Palin and other Republicans feel free to attack Democrats and the Democratic candidate while the Dems can't seem to offer a solid criticism without first explaining that Sidney is a great guy and a war hero - and the negative campaigning is working, with the Democrats' help. Asked the bald question of whether they like negative campaigning, voters say they don't, but it has its effect all the same. As Glenn says:
But the idea that Americans instinctively recoil from negativity or that there will be some sort of backlash against Republicans generally and Palin specifically because of how "negative" their convention speeches were is pure fantasy. Cultural tribalism and personality attacks of those sort work, especially when they're not aggressively engaged.

Every four years, the GOP unleashes unrestrained personality attacks on Democrats and exploits cultural resentments. Every four years, Democrats tell themselves that such attacks don't work and are counter-productive. And every four years, that belief is disproven. These "character" issues end up mattering largely because Democrats, in election after election, allow wars over "character" to be waged in a largely one-sided fashion.

On the other hand, here's Biden making a good show talking about the issues. (But, you know, enough about what great guy Sidney is!)

In other news, Lindsay Beyerstein: "During my stints at the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, I developed a theory about the relationship between party affiliation and alcohol: Democrats and Republicans drink the same amount, Republicans just drink faster." (And Avi Sternberg gets into the details of Republican drinking: "The ones who stay out the latest and come back the drunkest, I notice, are the Huckabee folks, the party's rural conservatives. They believe in Jesus, in the hard-bitten way of the true alcoholic.") Thanks to Charles for the tip.

14:42 BST

Keith Moon died for somebody's sins (but not mine)

DKNY Lavish Lace cut and sew underwire braBra of the Week

It's been a long couple of days and I can barely keep my eyes open, so this is gonna be a quick cruise of whatever interesting windows I've got open.

Jane Hamsher: "Say what you will, the angry broads who refused to vote for anyone until they were appeased managed to do what the blogosphere couldn't -- they brought their issues front and center in this campaign, and to the victor go the spoils. Those who signed themselves over early can look forward to being Sistah Souljah'd as the campaign goes forward, but with the female vote in play the Republicans coughed up Palin as a VP candidate and the Obama campaign is now taking a stronger pro-choice stance in swing states than we've ever heard a Democratic presidential candidate dare before."

Seven witnesses are refusing to testify in the Palin Troopergate investigation. Seems circumstances have changed since the investigation was opened.... Did I mention that she's corrupt scum, and thinks very much the same way as the present administration about how public servants should throw out their mission and values for the "executive's agenda"?

Joe Biden took a hammer to the complete lack of concern with real issues that the RNC gave us, thus proving that his powers can be used for Good, but only after helping the Democrats write McShame's campaign commercials for him on what a great guy Sidney is and how brave and etc. he is. Makes him a bit of an attack kitten, and Dems need to do lots better.

It means you can't be a gay hero. (Not even if you spend five years in a box?)

"Substitute" (Thirty years! Man, time flies....)

00:42 BST

Saturday, 06 September 2008

Stop the presses

One of the most amazing things about the Washington press corps is how little they seem to know about the two subjects they pretend to be most expert on - the political strategies of the parties, and The Media itself: "If Jay Carney is going to point to election results to assess the success of the GOP's assault on the media, he can't simply cherry-pick the elections the Republicans lost; they've been doing this every election cycle for 40 years."

¡El Gato Negro! is unimpressed with Gail Collins' performance as "hectoring p.r. mom for the GOP".

At Crooks and Liars, "Four More Neoconservative Years? David Sanger at the NY Times is one of those top-level reporters who often willingly carries water for the Bush administration - promulgating "unofficially official" leaks, for instance - in order to preserve his precious access. It appears that he's willing to do the same for the McCain campaign." And Kelly O'Donnell wants you to know that McCain has been "hesitant" to use POW past until now.

I suspect this video of being something that would fit here, but I can't seem to play it on my laptop and I keep forgetting about it when I go upstairs to my desktop. So maybe linking it here will remind me next time I'm at my actual desk. In the meantime, maybe you can tell me what's in it. (And I think what conservatives mean about reforming the Republican Party is really about putting down a new coat of paint, unless you mean the conservatives who mean get rid of the "moderates". They're trying to treat Palin as a fresh, uncorrupted face of the newly reformed RNC, when in fact she is typical of the last eight years - a spendthrift, right-wing repressive crackpot who is entirely corrupt.)

McCain can rely on endorsements from stock photos of all kinds.

Oh, yeah, Obama appeared on O'Reilly's show, and O'Reilly treated him a little differently than he treats his Republican guests.

Meanwhile, Keith Olbermann gets upset during live coverage of the RNC.

14:22 BST

American notes

From the Democracy NOW! site, a Call to Action on Behalf of DN! Journalists Facing Charges for Reporting on the Republican National Convention: "Today it is critical that you make your voice heard in the Ramsey County Attorney and St. Paul City Attorney offices. Demand that they drop all pending and current charges against journalists arrested while reporting on protests outside the Republican National Conventions." They have the contact details.

Congresswoman Mary Fallin (OK 5th) spoke at the RNC before a backdrop image of the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building. Creepy.

Mark Adams' Crayon electoral vote map, and the Electoral-vote.com map. The latter looks much more optimistic than the former.

David Williams interviewed about his book, Bitterly Divided: The South's Inner Civil War: "In late 1860 and early 1861, there were a series of votes on the secession question in all the slave states, and the overwhelming majority voted against it. It was only in the Deep South, from South Carolina to Texas, that there was much support for secession, and even there it was deeply divided. In Georgia, a slight majority of voters were against secession." (via)

Note to Bill Wolfram: Richard Mellon Scaife was born in 1932. (Via Shakesville, via Onyx Link.)

Paul Krugman also sees Nixonland in the the current RNC strategy. (Note: It was much easier when they just used to call us "Jews".)

01:56 BST

Friday, 05 September 2008

I apologize for having so many links about the RNC

Liverpool invaded by 50-foot robo-spider. (Thanks to Moshe.)

So if you are someone who avoids getting into government databases, that might just make the government want to get a closer look at you.

Scott Horton has had a look at the Inspector General's report on Gonzales, and it's pretty obvious Gonzales is a liar (No!), but no one seems to be interested in doing anything about it: "John Conyers, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, had the right word for the Justice Department's response: "shocking." Conyers demanded that the Justice Department explain, yet again, why it will not take enforcement action against its senior-most officer. But perhaps Justice is merely awaiting the last play-the Inspector General's report on the U.S. Attorneys' case that should be out any day now."

Who Would Jesus Deport? McCain did a blatant flip-flop on the whole immigration thing, too, and nobody wanted to mention Bush or the Republican Party at the Republican convention. (I think Pickles was the only one to mention Afghanistan.) Which is almost funny.

Anyway, No one liked McCain's speech.

What needs to be said is that Palin is a liar and a far-right loony. Yes, the thing about hopping on a plane rather than rushing to a hospital when her water broke is just plain weird, but she's a liar and a right-wing fruitcake.

I can't imagine how it happened. The networks had Democrats and Republicans playing talking heads during the DNC (which they talked over a lot of), and then they had Republicans and Republicans during the RNC, and the cable channels also covered more of the RNC.

Sarah's Trigonetry - Rick Perlstein says it's right out of Nixonland - and Paul Campos thinks so, too. (Did I mention that she's a liar?)

The General says, "We're at war, And that means that sometimes you have to dig up innocent victims and serve them up as red meat to the hysterical hoards who can only be motivated by the most craven appeals to their bigotry." (BTW, The General is having a fundraiser - help out if you can.)

Why does John McCain hate America?

23:31 BST

Let the old world make believe it's blind and deaf and dumb

"The end of an eerie: There was something iconic about it. The brave young man who unfurled a banner, "McCain votes against veterans." The brave young woman in pink hustled out of the hall. And the chants of "USA! USA!" designed to silence those deviations of opinion. "

Tomasky says McCain's speech was so bad it must've been some kind of plot: "Upon reflection, I think maybe I've got it. Given that hating on the media has been such an incessant theme of this convention, I now suspect that the speech was intentionally awful, in order that it generate negative reviews in the press the better to fire up the base against the press. I really can't think of another explanation." I listened to a lot of it and what I heard was the typical Republican attempt to pretend an interest in basic liberal values like being able to get a job and get a good education for your kids and build a family and a future - all things that the rest of his favored policies are beating the hell out of. Oh, and did you know he was a POW?

Tristero sums it all up, and says with some urgency: "Surely the Democrats have some major announcement today to remove the spotlight that's been shining on the viscous mass of white ooze that infested St. Paul. The couldn't be so stupid as not to have planned a major rebuttal to the lies, distortion, and stupidity on display this past week. We're gonna hear about something big from Barack today. Right? RIGHT????"

Eric Alterman, recommending his own Nation piece about Denver (found here, but I resisted that musical reference): "There's a lot about David Broder in that column, and I imagine it's the first time he's ever been compared to the mighty Allman Brothers Band (though not, I promise, in a good way). I'm reminded that about 20 years ago I interviewed Broder for my first book on punditry and I told him I thought it was silly to devote so much attention to the fact of whether a candidate could give a decent convention speech or not. I mean how important was that to governing effectively and or even honestly. He argued that because George H.W. Bush had focused attention on the contras, this meant he would never sell them out and this was the kind of signal you could read into such speeches. In fact, Bush sold them out rather quickly. And I happened to be in the room when some of Bill Clinton's acceptance speech was being drafted in 1992 -- something Broder's never done -- and I wanted to tell him that nobody gives a s**t about the things he and his ever so serious reporter friends think is important. These speeches are about winning elections, period. After the election, it's a brand new day all around. So if someone turns out to be able to give a speech that has been written by other people, that means they might have a decent future as an actor, nothing more, the "dean" notwithstanding." (And read the post below it, too, about the demise of a right-wing fake newspaper. And below that one, David Gregory is still a schmuck.)

"The final night of the convention led to confrontations between police and protesters. At least 396 people were arrested, an official said this morning.

But nothing can change the Shape of Things To Come. (Complete with odd fact.) (OMG there's a live Ramones version!) "How old are you?" "24." "That's old."

16:20 BST


Premeditated crimes:

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Taxpayers should be off the hook for any damages stemming from claims of police misconduct related to the Republican National Convention under a first-of-its-kind agreement.

The deal required the Republican Party's host committee to buy insurance covering up to $10 million in damages and unlimited legal costs for law enforcement officials accused of brutality, violating civil rights and other misconduct.

Think about that - the Republicans wanted them to commit such violations, and were willing to pay for the privilege.

(Thanks to Mark Kernes for the tip.)

02:30 BST

Full of the crazy

The McCain campaign has been complaining that "liberal bloggers" have been suggesting that Palin's son was really her grandson - and it turns out that those liberal bloggers are named Andrew Sullivan. Teresa weighs in: "What I'm about to say won't come as news to anyone, but I'll say it all the same: the far right is a whining bunch of sissies who can't stand up to one little breath of a suggestion of a hundredth of the abuse they habitually dish out. This goes a long way toward explaining why nobody likes them and they can't get laid for free."

Bob Somerby explains why your party loses: "Let's repeat what Fiorina said: "The Republican Party will not stand by while Gov. Palin is subjected to sexist attacks." Remove the limiting term there - "sexist." Thus adjusted, Fiorina's statement explains our electoral politics over the past twenty years. The Republican Party will not stand by while its candidates get attacked. The Democratic Party, and its major affiliates, have done just that. For years."

Bob Kuttner: "So now we understand what John McCain's handlers were up to: Intensify the culture wars, and once again use cultural symbols as substitutes for policies. In particular, use Hockey Mom Sarah Palin to change the subject from why regular Americans are hurting in the pocketbook to why Palin is a more regular American than Barack Obama. Will the Democrats change it back? Whether they do will decide the election."

Oh, but the media is working hard to help the Republicans out in this election, now that the game is truly on.

Meanwhile... John Stagliano interviewed on Reason TV. Stagliano is facing what could effectively be a life sentence for putting a trailer for one of his films on his website. (It could also be a death sentence if he gets the same kind of medical care we have been seeing from our prison system, lately.)

00:10 BST

Thursday, 04 September 2008

RNC notes

Diane liked Ellen Goodman's take on Palin, whose speech last night was pretty much what could be expected - competent delivery of a speech that was written by someone else (whose original version was written in the expectation that it would be delivered by a man), attacking Democrats and filled with the usual half-truths and complete lies. What else would it be? And the "liberal media" loved her.

Eric Alterman notes that in Lieberman's attempt to paint McSame as a Maverick who has fought his party on important issues, he may have suggested something he didn't mean to: "Um, reading between the lines, didn't Lieberman address the Republican convention -- shortly after the sitting Republican president -- and call the Republican Party a bunch of corrupt, cheating, tax-wasting do-nothings?"

Temper Tantrums: "As McCain adviser Rick Davis cynically announced this week, "This election is not about issues," but instead "about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates." In that case, Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney did John McCain no favors in providing the bookends for his biography this week at the Republican Convention. Because while Fred introduced America on Tuesday to the rebellious hellraiser that was the young John McCain, Mitt back in January documented that the volcanic McCain never outgrew his out-of-control temper tantrums in Washington."

Unsurprisingly, the Day 2 Nielsen ratings were lower for the RNC than they were for the DNC.

13:46 BST

Cheese and crackers

I apologize for the further delay, but someone offered me money to do some work in a hurry.

The verdict on Lieberman's speech seems to be that it had many negative qualities, not least the fact that he managed to be a lying piece of crap and yet be boring at the same time. Roger Ailes says it was "so sucktacular that it probably lost McCain votes." (Oh, yeah, the name is an anagram!)

Also useless, GWB and Hollywood Fred wowed the crowd at the RNC without ever using that word.

Palin's got her very own humdinger of a preacher. And I'm not quite sure how to describe this odd executive experience.

Radley Balko evaluates Obama's choice of the Senate's worst drug warrior as his runningmate.

For those who clicked through Skippy's post about Palin not being Miss Congeniality, Libby, too, noticed that the story seemed not to say so. So she went to the cache, and found the original version, now scrubbed.

I forgot to celebrate FDR's signing of Social Security legislation when the anniversary went by a couple of weeks ago, so here's a nice video - one you can send to anyone you know who might be thinking of voting for McCain. Chances are good that they'll be disgusted by McShame's position.

Pseudoscientific bollocks

00:07 BST

Wednesday, 03 September 2008

Blueberries and elderflower cordial

Apologies again for another tech day sans posting. While I try to get myself together, here are a few things you can check out:

Bill Scher says Phil Gramm is still conservative (and he's still advising McCain, too.) And Sara Robinson says that what we saw in Minnesota was police violence on a grand scale. And thanks to Jeff for alerting me to Athena Sword's diary on the Permibus seizure.

NY Times does it again: More 'Judy Miller' tapdancing (Pt3): "Last month, investigative journalist Joe Lauria joked that American journalists need five sources for something personally witnessed by the journalist. This is true for whistle-blowers, but there is a double-standard when it comes to official government sources. This kid-glove treatment of US officials is remarkable given the lies that we have been fed, particularly over the past seven years."

Buck Batard noticed that the lawyer Palin has hired worried in public that "Our concern is that Hollis French turns into Ken Starr and uses public money to pursue a political vendetta rather than truly pursue an honest inquiry into an alleged ethics issue."

New VoteVets ad. (See the others here.)

18:57 BST

From the notebook

So ABC actually did have someone looking at that Blue Dog party in Denver - and he got arrested for it, too! Via Skippy, who says they're checking out the RNC partying, too.

Fancy that - Palin raised taxes on Alaskans. And, wait - you mean she wasn't Miss Congeniality? But Paglia loves her. And a Photo Safari of Wasilla, Alaska from Mudflats, via Mercury Rising, where I also learned of Alberto Burglar.

More instances of your tax money used for slavery.

Savage Dragon endorses Barack Obama.

*sigh* I think this subject is one that requires too much subtlety for me to feel good about being so crudely paraphrased. The point is that charging someone with rape is in itself an ordeal, and if you're not likely to get a conviction, you really don't owe it to anyone to put yourself through it, despite what people in rape crisis centers might say - or want you to say.

Jon Chait, dry.

Recognize the materials? Explained here.

05:05 BST

Tuesday, 02 September 2008

Still there will be more

Nell at A Lovely Promise on Conventional clampdown:

I watched more of the Democratic convention than I've done since 1972, on the blessedly unfiltered C-SPAN. But I didn't see much coverage, online or off, of what was happening outside the hall in the streets. Before the Denver convention got going, we were given a look at the chilling warehouse (video) in which the security forces planned to hold people they arrested. But how many people ended up there, and what took place?
But then it was really stepped up for the RNC:
All of these tactics were already being deployed against the anti-corp-globalization protestors in 2000, especially in Miami and D.C. But since then, the "war on terra" has brought a massive buildup of paramilitary equipment, spying capabilities, and Fusion Centers that amplify the power of a podunk sheriff by uniting it with the federal arsenal. The war mentality has both multiplied the weapons at their disposal and normalized this kind of military operation on our city streets.

The counter-terror targets: us. We commit conspiracy to riot by planning to assemble. Sure, you might insist it will be peaceable, but the security forces' infiltrators have a different story to tell. And look: guys in masks smashing stuff, proving it's just like they say.

Josh Marshall say the investigation of Palin's abuse of power just got warmer: "In one of the stories yesterday about Palin's hiring of a lawyer -- which we now find out she's having the state of Alaska pay for -- I noted that her new counsel, Thomas Van Flein, asked the lead investigator in the case to turn over all witness statements and documents produced so far in the probe. That struck me not as a good-faith request but rather an effort to get into a fight over process and thus gum up the investigation until after the election. And sure enough, today's Anchorage Daily News provides plenty of evidence that that is what's happening in spades."

Union membership is going up, and not without good reason. It's about time.

22:31 BST

In the soup

At least Palin admitted that Iraq is a war for oil. She's so far to the right that that isn't even a problem for her.

I've been watching people talk about how we shouldn't pay attention to Palin (while doing lots of posts about Palin) and we should concentrate on Bush and McCain instead. Others say that the Palin pick is about McCain. All I know is that the reaction to Agnew was derision and it didn't stop him from becoming Vice President, and the reaction to Dan Quayle was derision and it didn't stop Quayle from becoming Vice President.

But each of those choices broadened the window for what was an "acceptable" political position for a Republican to hold. Dan Quayle in particular was a shocking choice, a John Bircher at a time when they were regarded as little better than the KKK in suits. (And his wife was even worse - she'd quit the John Birch Society because it was too far to the left for her tastes.) And Palin is an outspoken hard-righter. Commenting below, the exile presents this analysis:

I've figured out the Palin choice. You know how some football teams trade for the big star because they think they have a shot at the Super Bowl, while others pick young promising prospects in a "rebuilding year"? This is a rebuilding year. Palin is Dobson's choice-- she gets the fundies fired up again. She won't help win an election (sans Diebold that is), but having thousands of fired up fundie churches back with the party and ready to fight helps the Republicans' long term prospects of keeping its organization strong to undermine Obama in office and come back blazing in 2012.
And you know how Richard Viguerie has been moaning and wailing about how awful the Republicans have become and what a mess McCain is? Well, he's not moaning now; he's been ecstatic.

* * * * *

Video: Amy Goodman interviewed about her arrest, on Free Speech TV.

I saw this book in Atrios' Blogads: The Rise of the Fourth Reich: "While the United States helped defeat the Germans in World War II, we failed to defeat the Nazis. At the end of the war, ranking Nazis, along with their young and fanatical protegés, used the loot of Europe to create corporate front companies in many countries, including the United States of America. Utilizing their stolen wealth, men with Nazi backgrounds and mentalities wormed their way into corporate America, slowly buying up and consolidating companies into giant multinational conglomerates. Many thousands of other Nazis came to the United States under classified programs such as Project Paperclip. They brought with them miraculous weapon technology that helped win the space race but they also brought their insidious Nazi philosophy within our borders. This ideology based on the authoritarian premise that the end justifies the means - including unprovoked wars of aggression and curtailment of individual liberties - has gained an iron hold in the 'land of the free and the home of the brave.'" [Actually, I don't think any of that is necessary to explain why the people who are running things think they should be running everything.]

Abraham Lincoln, guest-posting at Corrente for the Labor Day post: "All that harms labor is treason to America. No line can be drawn between these two. If any man tells you he loves America, yet he hates labor, he is a liar. If a man tells you he trusts America, yet fears labor, he is a fool."

Giblets says, "The Following Things Are Fired," and Medium Lobster says it's a Gamechanger.

14:40 BST

Police State

Paul Campos: "Glenn Greenwald is doing yeoman's work regarding the use of state terror to quash the possibility of dissent at the RNC. Now admittedly to this point it's what might be called "soft terror:" no one is actually being shot, for instance. Instead, people are having their doors smashed down by SWAT teams armed with ludicrous search warrants, who then proceed neutralize the Vegan Threat to Democracy by holding teenagers at gunpoint while their residences are ransacked. Hardly anyone is being charged with anything, since there appears to be no evidence that anyone was planning to break the law. Meanwhile, despite the immediate proximity of hundreds if not thousands of journalists, all this remains invisible in the national media."

That was a couple of days ago. Glenn's first post on the subject, "Massive police raids on suspected protestors in Minneapolis"; his second post, "Federal government involved in raids on protesters". But his most recent post, "Scenes from St. Paul -- Democracy Now's Amy Goodman arrested", says:

Following up on this weekend's extreme raids on various homes, at least 250 people were arrested here today in St. Paul, Minnesota. Beginning last night, St. Paul was the most militarized I have ever seen an American city be, even more so than Manhattan in the week of 9/11 -- with troops of federal, state and local law enforcement agents marching around with riot gear, machine guns, and tear gas cannisters, shouting military chants and marching in military formations. Humvees and law enforcement officers with rifles were posted on various buildings and balconies. Numerous protesters and observers were tear gassed and injured. I'll have video of the day's events posted shortly.

Perhaps most extraordinarily, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now -- the radio and TV broadcaster who has been a working journalist for close to 20 years -- was arrested on the street and charged with "conspiracy to riot." Audio of her arrest, which truly shocked and angered the crowd of observers, is here. I just attended a Press Conference with St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Police Chief John M. Harrington and -- after they boasted of how "restrained" their police actions were -- asked about the journalists and lawyers who had been detained and/or arrested both today and over the weekend. They said they wouldn't give any information about journalists who had been arrested today, though they said they believed that "one journalist" had been, and that she "was seemingly a participant in the riots, not simply a non-participant." I'll have video of the Press Conference posted shortly.

As usual, Glenn has the updates.

And thanks to David W. for the pointer to this first-person account from someone who nearly got arrested just walking along, and this photograph of dangerous protesters and our friends the police.

(And here's the post from FDL I was going to link last night. The site seems to be functioning normally, now.)

13:32 BST

High crime report

I was all ready to link to the post at Firedoglake about Amy Goodman and others being arrested at the RepubliCon, but I had to reboot and then the site was down. So here's NTodd, and more links from YouTube and Technorati.

Dutch withdraw spy from Iran because of 'impending US attack': "According to reports in the newspaper De Telegraaf, the country's intelligence service, the AIVD, has stopped an espionage operation aimed at infiltration and sabotage of the weapons industry in Iran. 'The operation, described as extremely successful, was halted recently in connection with plans for an impending US air attack on Iran,' said the report. 'Targets would also be bombed which were connected with the Dutch espionage action.' 'Well placed' sources told the paper that a top agent had been recalled recently 'because the US was thought to be making a decision within weeks to attack Iran with unmanned aircraft'."

OK, if Palin was a member of a group that wants Alaska to secede from America, I think that makes her officially anti-American, don't you?

02:47 BST

Monday, 01 September 2008

There are many here among us who think that life is but a joke

I see that Ed Rendell has earned Atrios' coveted Wanker of the Day award for accepting abstinence-only funding for PA, as Mithras reports: "I was shocked to hear a radio report this morning that Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania has decided to accept funding for abstinence-only sex education from the Bush administration for programs in school districts that want them. Re-defining the word 'commitment', Rendell's spokesperson said that the governor remained committed to comprehensive sex education, but that certain communities, for moral reasons 'or what have you', want abstinence-only programs." I really wish people would point out that this program of forced ignorance can justly be called child abuse, and treat it accordingly. I don't think "communities" should have more rights than the kids whose lives they are messing up with this crap. Parents don't own their children's sexuality, and they shouldn't be allowed to twist it.

Jeralyn interviewed Katherine Spillar and Eleanor Smeal of Feminist Majority about why they support Barack Obama.

So, Texas Republicans are switching party so they can keep getting elected. Because if there's one thing the Democratic Party needs, it's even more corrupt right-wingers. Gah!

This election is just a monkey house, isn't it? "The Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has announced that her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant, in an announcement intended to knock down rumors by liberal bloggers that Palin faked her own pregnancy to cover up for her child."

On the Minneapolis Police State front: "National Lawyers Guild: What police seized was not 'weaponized' urine"

21:35 BST

Starting late

Sorry about the delay in posting, but there've been a few technical difficulties, in addition to someone from a newspaper wanting to talk to me because Helen Mirren apparently outraged some rape crisis center folks by saying she didn't think she should have gone to the police after being date-raped.

Paul Krugman says McCain shouldn't go to the disaster zone, and explains that the problems with what happened in the Katrina disaster were not caused by Bush's failure to turn up early for a photo-op, but by the essence of the modern Republican Party's governing philosophy. (But now it looks like some Republicans don't want to go to their own convention, either.)

Here's a little personal testimony about Palin from a woman who knows her and isn't terribly impressed with her Christian values, or her interest in serving the people of her town when she was its mayor.

Michael Kinsley doesn't think much of the "experience" argument - and says that the Palin choice proves the Republicans hypocrisy and dishonestly. But, c'mon, it was always pretty rich coming from the party that happily picked George Walker Bush for its nominee eight years ago, despite the fact that his entire experience in government involved a job that apparently only occurred a day or three a year and had - as they often told us whenever we pointed out what a mess Texas was in - very little power. The rest of his experience involved a lot of drunkenness and business failure. Experience is not what they've ever been interested in. In any case, as Hilzoy points out, it hardly matters when the real question what kind of decision-maker McCain is when he named Palin without ever vetting her.

MoDo's reaction to Palin can only be addressed by Molly Ivors. (And is it right for Frank Rich to say that "deus ex machina" is Greek?) HuffPo has a whole bunch of stuff if you can't get enough on the Palin story - including a story about how she was nearly recalled from her mayoral office after "firing the Police Chief and Library Director for not supporting her in her 1996 race for Mayor."

Ken Campbell, 1941-2008 - He was an sf fan and actor who had just finished his show at the Edinburgh Festival a few days ago. We extend our condolences to everyone in his communities, and to his friends at Fortean Times.

Ruth has been uploading her photos from London.

16:17 BST

When summer's gone, where will we be?

Down in comments, The Oracle reads the warrant for that raid on the homes of potential protesters - a reminder that the reason for the Molotov cocktail is that you really can make one from ordinary things you're likely to have in your kitchen already - and thus, any warrant to search for such ingredients is a warrant for every home in America. Like Dan says, it's been a particularly bad week in tyranny.

What the little dust-up with Russia and Georgia means for US foreign policy.

Nancy Nall has a fine rant after another dose of Mona Charon being In Touch With The Real America. (Thanks to Julia for the tip.)

Jim MacDonald's Katrina anniversary post takes us through the first week of watching the disaster unfold.

"Reviving the Constitution: Listen to a podcast of a conversation recorded on August 28th in Denver at the Central Presbyterian Church moderated by The Nation's John Nichols. Longtime Nation editor and publisher emeritus Victor Navasky, Rep. Robert Wexler and Rep. Keith Ellison discuss how the Democrats can best restore and maintain our Constitutional rights in the age of the war on terror." It's especially worth listening to Wexler talk about why, at first, he didn't support impeachment. I really think it's true that a lot of these people do believe that Americans are more worried about "partisanship" than we are about the price of not fighting back.

Greg Mitchell on what the Alaskan newspapers had to say about Palin as VP choice. And Jane Smiley on Palin. And georgia10 on the strange idea that what an area that's preparing for disaster needs is a visit from McCain and Palin.

The Republican Platform is bound for Mars.

"Summer's Almost Gone"

00:22 BST

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, September 2008

August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
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Is the media in denial?
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And, no, it's not named after the book or the movie. It's just another sideshow.

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