April 30, 2008

Heh. Tony and Dave Barry on the "economic stimulus" plan

It is funny because it is so true:
"Q. What is the purpose of this payment?

A. The plan is that you will use the money to purchase a high-definition TV set, thus stimulating the economy.

Q. But isn't that stimulating the economy of China?

A. Shut up."

The "angry black man"

This Jeremiah Wright business has annoyed me to no end. Mary sent me this blog that places Wright in the Jonah tradition and it is a thoughtful explanation that keeps Wright understandable within the black church experience.

But last night, against my better judgement, I watched Newt Gingrich on the Daily Show. What a moron. And when discussing Wright and Obama, he said exactly what some of my conservative friends have also suggested--that Wright's hateful rhetoric and Obama's friendship with him for 20 years means that we "really don't know what Obama believes."

Right. Of course, John McCain sought out the idiot moron Hagee and then renounced (line-item renouncing, as I said the other day) bits that he didn't like while maintaining the idiot moron's endorsement. Imagine if Obama did that? And still no conservative will suggest that McCain's acceptance of Parsley ("kill all the Muslims") or Hagee ("Catholic church is a whore and God drowned NOLA to get the gays") raises any question about what McCain actually believes or stands for.


I am starting to believe it is the specter of racism. One of the very positive outcomes of the Civil Rights movement was the marginalization of open racism. The Klan and their counterparts were pushed further to the margins of society and membership in those horrible groups appropriately shamed.

So now, with a prominent black man running for President, open racism is really off the table. Conservatives who are troubled by his race can't say that directly, but have to find another way to criticize him. The funniest was that Obama is an elitist, which struck me as incredibly funny in the context of American race relations. Easier, I think to suggest that he is a closet Muslim, though I hope that is relegated to the most uniformed.

But then comes Jeremiah Wright and a good way out. Hard to criticize Obama when he is so damn smart, articulate, thoughtful, etc. But when you have an "angry black man" behind him, all of a sudden, a useful tool. After all, even conservatives believe that race relations in this country have sucked--how could Obama not be angry? But being angry is the worst thing a black man can be. Can't acknowledge that anger or you become dangerous. John McCain can embrace his anger. That is "passion" in a white politician. But Obama cannot.

And when he refuses to be angry, people just impose Jeremiah Wright in his place. Voila--one angry black man and an excuse not to vote for him. But one that allows them to claim it has nothing to do with Obama's skin color.


April 28, 2008

More Obama and Wright

Thanks for the nice thoughts yesterday. Perhaps I am a bit of a moody personality, but I am doing fine today. I finished planting the garden yesterday and have been relatively productive today. Still avoiding grading, but that is no sign of depression!

I was just about to post another rant about the ridiculous media event that keeps playing the Wright "God Damn America" clip when the former pastor went to the National Press Club. The media response is still ridiculous, especially when you compare the criticism or analysis of Hagee and Parsley. For example, while there has been at least some questioning of Hagee's ridiculous theology, there has been nearly none on Parsley.

And when Wright went on Bill Moyers, as we have discussed several times, his responses were thoughtful and even prophetic. But on Monday it became clear that he had no concern about how his views or beliefs were hurting Obama. In fact, it appears there is some resentment or something there where the Reverend may not even support Obama. I don't know. But his defense of Louis Farakhan and other statements about Zionism were clearly over the line. And on purpose. He has to know that this will cause Obama problems.

Or perhaps he did it to give Obama another chance to repudiate him. I don't know. But repudiate him he did:
"Sen. Barack Obama Tuesday said he was outraged by comments made by his former Pastor Jeremiah Wright.

'I am outraged by the comments that were made and saddened by the spectacle that we saw yesterday,' Obama told reporters at a news conference."
I always thought that Obama was right to not attack the man before. But now, he had to do something.


Another example of how far we have fallen and how quickly, came in this story about a former Prosecutor who just testified for Hamdan at Gitmo:
Davis told Navy Capt. Keith J. Allred, who presided over the hearing, that top Pentagon officials, including Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon R. England, made it clear to him that charging some of the highest-profile detainees before elections this year could have "strategic political value."

Davis said he wants to wait until the cases -- and the military commissions system -- have a more solid legal footing. He also said that Defense Department general counsel William J. Haynes II, who announced his retirement in February, once bristled at the suggestion that some defendants could be acquitted, an outcome that Davis said would give the process added legitimacy.

"He said, 'We can't have acquittals,' " Davis said under questioning from Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brian Mizer, the military counsel who represents Hamdan. " 'We've been holding these guys for years. How can we explain acquittals? We have to have convictions.' "

Davis also decried as unethical a decision by top military officials to allow the use of evidence obtained by coercive interrogation techniques. He said Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Hartmann, the legal adviser to the top military official overseeing the commissions process, was improperly willing to use evidence derived from waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning. "To allow or direct a prosecutor to come into the courtroom and offer evidence they felt was torture, it puts a prosecutor in an ethical bind," Davis testified. But he said Hartmann replied that "everything was fair game -- let the judge sort it out."
The triple play here. Using the justice system exclusively for political leverage, gaming the system to insure convictions, and then using evidence obtained through torture. If you had told me Americans would do this with the full support of the President and Vice President, I would have thought you were crazy just a few years ago. Now, I believe this man.


Speaking of bad trends:
One of the darkest developments of many dark developments in the Bush years has been the slow ascent of Christianism as a core value of the military. The promotion of Christianists throughout the armed services, the insistence by the president that no public institution be regarded as a place where religion should be silent, clear discrimination against Jews and atheists in military educational institutions: the possibility of a secular military dedicated to defending all Americans regardless of their faith or lack of it has been called into question under the current administration. The resilience of the ban on gays - while the military has granted a record number of waivers to criminals - can only be understood if one sees the US military as an increasingly religious institution at this point, and not a rational secular one. The latest story of an atheist soldier being threatened by superiors is believable in this context.
The story is a chilling one--if true--where a superior officer threatens to bar soldiers from re-enlistment or even bring charges against them for discussing atheism. They were further told by the officer that they were betraying their country and the founding fathers.

Sully finds a commenter at Volokh's blog who defends this attack on atheism and refers to the American military as a "Christian army." We can hope that this commenter is an outlier, but with the administration in power, who the hell knows. Historical ignorance is rampant.

Ok, back to work.


I have been a little morose lately and am not even sure why. Spring has always been a little hard on me for reasons I really can't quite identify. Perhaps it is the uptick in allergy symptoms, or the warmer days and nights. In some cases, it brings back memories of last year. I still miss my dog Alafair a lot lately.

Most of my mood is probably more about fatigue and stress. (Let's just hope that some jackass doesn't pop into the comments and tell me that since I accept the science of evolution, I can't feel sad or stressed because those are just biological responses). The project I spent the last few months working on was a job application that ended up just not working out. It was worth a shot, and I certainly don't regret going through the process, but in the end, it just wasn't going to happen in a way that was good for SOF and myself. And as much as I am at peace with that, the last few months have just worn me out.

I will be fine. We are working on our vegetable garden and trying to get our yard in shape. That is fun and fills me with a sense of anticipation for the warmer weather--something I can often find myself dreading if I am not careful. But I am always happier when I accept the weather (or any of the millions of things outside my control) rather than fighting them. Duh. Pretty obvious, but I find it harder than that to maintain. I often think about the plaque my mother made for me years ago with the serenity prayer on it. Good advice, that.

That is something I keep trying to remind myself about the election as well. I voted in the OK primary, and have contributed money to Obama's campaign. I can do no more than that. Getting anxious about the election doesn't actually accomplish much.

Don't get me wrong. I will still rant about this stuff. That is part of how I work through this anxiety and frustration and helplessness. But I work to not let it get me down.


April 26, 2008

I think I would take Jeremiah Wright any day

Read the transcript of his interview with Bill Moyers.

And by contrast, read what John Hagee says still about Katrina and the gays.

You tell me which is more of a problem? The one that has a candidate still taking his endorsement and trying to "line-item" distance himself? Or the one that Obama was forced to reject?

And let me say another thing. I used to watch John Hagee and Rod Parsley on television. I am not sure why, but I did. I found them horrible and yet interesting at the same time. So, I am familiar with their work, and at least for Hagee, he has only Bible training. He has been in religious school after religious school--and not theology. But read the Jeremiah Wright interview and just see how much more educated this man is. Not only is he smarter, but he actually understands theology and history and culture. I would bet that John Hagee would not even get some of the references.

And that, in some ways, is one of the more troubling differences between the two. You may disagree with some of Jeremiah Wright's conclusions, but he is not just some angry black man raised in conspiracy theories. He is a well-educated and thoughtful man. John Hagee, on the other hand, represents the worst of the anti-intellectual wing of the conservatives. He reads the Bible and that is all that is needed (except, of course, to sell his books pushing for war with Iran).

I will take Reverend Wright any day.

April 25, 2008

Role of government

In an interesting piece on FEMA and John McCain comes a very good articulation of the right wing approach to government, and its open hostility toward all things government and all civil servants:
That's the right-wing approach to government management, applied to virtually every domestic agency throughout the Bush years: politicize, privatize, devolve, and cut.
It is irresponsible policy and about time that the adult Republicans that I know--the ones who know better--stand up to that wing of the Republican party. Government cannot and will not solve all our problems. But it isn't our enemy either, and there are things that government can do well.

I can't say it any better


The transcript isn't up yet, but on Hardball last night, Chris Matthews' roundtable (consisting of Tucker Carlson, Margaret Carlson, and Michelle Bernard) concluded that the Bill Moyers interview of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright was very, very bad for Obama. (And they hadn't even seen the whole thing!) Matthews, in his inimitably clueless way, called the Wright 'flap' 'Obama's Iraq,' as if sending hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians to their deaths was comparable.

The political panel concluded that Wright had dug a 'deeper hole' for Obama and had in fact 'thrown Obama under the bus' when he said, as Kate quoted below, that Obama had said what he had to say as a politician, and that he would say what he has to say as a pastor, and everyone hates politicians. Because people might have otherwise forgotten that Obama is a politician."

Just pure stupidity.

Friday morning rant

Well, we shall see. Right now it is just a series of annoyances.

First idiot? How about Rush Limbaugh? Evidently, the drug using idiot is hoping there will be massive riots in Denver at the Democratic convention.
Several callers called in to the radio show to denounce Limbaugh's comments, when he later stated, "I am not inspiring or inciting riots, I am dreaming of riots in Denver."
Limbaugh said with massive riots in Denver, which he called "Operation Chaos," the people on the far left would look bad.
I know he is an idiot, but imagine how much America would freak out if Reverend Wright had said these things? The right gets away with a lot in this country. (Crooks and Liars has a rough transcript of a caller who took Rushbo to task for calling for violence. He ends up calling her the racist and a "mush mind," and says his main goal is to put liberals out of business.)


Speaking of Reverend Wright, he continues to be rehabilitated, while John McCain's less sane, less honorable version continues to make the right look hateful and stupid. Yeah, that's right, John Hagee reiterated that Katrina was God's poorly aimed way of stopping a homosexual parade. Of course, he didn't say "poorly aimed." But evidently God takes a shotgun approach to sin and to make sure he hit New Orleans, also took out the coastal regions of Mississippi and the rest of Louisiana. That is just how much God hates the gays, according to this braying idiot. Yet, it is Obama who has to answer for his spiritual advisor.


Ok, a little more idiocy (perhaps this post should be renamed). I have ranted on this for sometime, but the conservative insistence that we fun only abstinence education makes me angry. Since it doesn't work very well, it exposes those kids to more unwanted pregnancies and sexual diseases when they break their abstinence pledge. Turns out, some conservatives don't care and/or simply ignore evidence that they are funding bad policy:
"Republicans said even if some abstinence-only programs do not work, others do, and it would be wrong to end the funding.

Rep. John Duncan, a Tennessee Republican, said that it seems 'rather elitist' that people with academic degrees in health think they know better than parents what type of sex education is appropriate. 'I don't think it's something we should abandon,' he said of abstinence-only funding.

Charles Keckler of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said the Bush administration believes abstinence education programs send the healthiest message."
Sure. What is more important? The message or the outcome? And the message here is that we would rather kids catch an STD than tell them about ways to prevent it beyond abstinence?


Speaking of more idiocy, Sally Kern qualifies, I think, and also speaking of unintended consequences, Sarah points to a story where a company might not relocate to OKC because of such hateful statements. Well, that will show them, right Sally?


John Ashcroft is a bit of a cipher. I remember his appointment as AG sending a shiver down my spine that Bush was clearly not interested in moderation. After he stepped down, I watched him babble about torture on the Daily Show and felt bad that he was once our AG. Then we learn that Ashcroft was mildly reasonable on wiretapping and the world makes a little less sense.

Well, the babbling torture defender is back. A very interesting story about Ashcroft visiting a very liberal and hostile campus (good for him) and how badly some of the students acted toward him (bad for them). But when a reasonable student (at least by her account) challenges Ashcroft on torture, he comes unhinged.

I have a lawyer friend who says that these people did not commit war crimes and that talking about war crimes is stupid. I am not sure I agree, but in any case, it appears to me that people like John Ashcroft are very nervous about that potential.

April 23, 2008

The Penn Primary, a Green Bible, and Dobson and torture

And a few other things. First, Hillary's 10 point win in Pennsylvania is likely to keep her in the race, but I, for one, hope that Oklahoma's Brad Henry's SuperDelegate endorsement of Obama is just the beginning of the deluge. Come on, Supers, you know you want to vote Obama, and the longer you wait, the more you help McCain.

Second, and about damn time, Ethics Daily announced a website resource called The Green Bible where they plan to warehouse information about environmental stewardship. This is exactly the kind of leadership the evangelical community has needed for a long time.

One of those links, however, caught my eye, and I am not sure how I missed it. The 7th of this month, Robert Parham noted that James Dobson was angry at John McCain for more than his support for stem cell research. The great mob boss of the evangelical right is also angry because McCain is concerned about global warming and wants to shut down Gitmo and stop American torture.
McCain spoke last week during to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council on Foreign Policy, and reiterated his support for governmental intervention in the global warming debate, proposed shutting down Guantanamo, blamed the U.S military for torturing prisoners of war and promised to pander to our European allies before defending America's interests around the world
Sigh. It just warms your heart, doesn't it? The founder of Focus on the Family doesn't mind torture.

I wish this shocked me, but of course, it does not.

April 22, 2008

Seriously? How dumb are these people?

Small Church's Obama Sign Causes Big Controversy - Greenville News Story - WYFF Greenville:
"Pastor Roger Byrd said that he just wanted to get people thinking. So last Thursday, he put a new message on the sign at the Jonesville Church of God.

It reads: 'Obama, Osama, hmm, are they brothers?'"

Sigh. Amazing that these people get to vote, drive cars, and carry weapons. Worse, of course, is his assumption that if Obama were a Muslim, that would make him the same as bin Laden.

April 21, 2008

Oh Sweet Jesus!

And I am sorry for posting this, but the need for a masculine Jesus just won't go away:
And while his ministry is not to men in particular, Mark Driscoll, pastor of Seattle's Mars Hill Church, nevertheless desires greater testosterone in contemporary Christianity. In Driscoll's opinion, the church has produced "a bunch of nice, soft, tender, chickified church boys. … Sixty percent of Christians are chicks," he explains, "and the forty percent that are dudes are still sort of chicks."
Nope, calling men "sort of chicks" isn't offensive, nor intended to shame the men and the women at the same time. Not at all.
The aspect of church that men find least appealing is its conception of Jesus. Driscoll put this bluntly in his sermon "Death by Love" at the 2006 Resurgence theology conference (available at TheResurgence.com). According to Driscoll, "real men" avoid the church because it projects a "Richard Simmons, hippie, queer Christ" that "is no one to live for [and] is no one to die for." Driscoll explains, "Jesus was not a long-haired … effeminate-looking dude"; rather, he had "callused hands and big biceps." This is the sort of Christ men are drawn to—what Driscoll calls "Ultimate Fighting Jesus."
Always nice when you can combine more misogyny with a little gay bashing along the way.
Driscoll comes closest to imagining Jesus as the model of maleness when he argues that "latte-sipping Cabriolet drivers" do not represent biblical masculinity, because "real men"—like Jesus, Paul, and John the Baptist— are "dudes: heterosexual, win-a-fight, punch-you-in-the-nose dudes." In other words, because Jesus is not a "limp-wristed, dress-wearing hippie," the men created in his image are not sissified church boys; they are aggressive, assertive, and nonverbal.
Because to truly be a Christian man means I need to be willing to punch people in the mouth.


April 20, 2008

Still the torture president

Top Bush aides pushed for Guantanamo torture | World news | The Guardian

Larry Wilkerson, a former army officer and chief of staff to Colin Powell, US secretary of state at the time, told the Guardian: "I do know that Rumsfeld had neutralised the chairman [Myers] in many significant ways.

"The secretary did this by cutting [Myers] out of important communications, meetings, deliberations and plans.

"At the end of the day, however, Dick Myers was not a very powerful chairman in the first place, one reason Rumsfeld recommended him for the job".

He added: "Haynes, Feith, Yoo, Bybee, Gonzalez and - at the apex - Addington, should never travel outside the US, except perhaps to Saudi Arabia and Israel. They broke the law; they violated their professional ethical code. In future, some government may build the case necessary to prosecute them in a foreign court, or in an international court."

Troubling report about military propaganda under this administration

I am still reading this report from the NYT about this administration's use of retired officers to promote their agenda, but it is worth reading. It is also worth noting how much this sounds like a Clinton policy.

But however we see it, it seems to me that we need to have a serious discussion about the role of media in our culture. If I were President, I would advocate more attention to some kind of independent funding for news, or at least a requirement that every "news" organization had to return to some idea of the public good instead of measuring their news output just as another revenue stream.

Yeah, I am not holding my breath either. And no one should fear a President Streak anytime, well, ever.


Yesterday was largely a day spent trying to clean up the backyard and catch up on a little sleep. But during a visit to the grocery store, I had a funny exchange with the young woman sacker. She kept looking at me, and finally said, "you know, you look a little like Johnny Depp." The checker then chimed in and said, "oh, I see it too."

I asked if that was a compliment, and they assured me it was, but that it might mean I need to grow a goatee and mustache. That won't happen, btw, but if you are wondering, evidently, this is what Streak looks like....

Well, maybe not....

April 19, 2008


As my friend Anglican noted, this has been a rough week. Not terrible, mind you. I just spent the better part of the last two months working on something that just didn't pan out. And more than likely for the best, but it is still a bit disheartening when it falls apart. I found myself just completely worn out at the end of the week and trying to get back into some focus. I already feel much better. Still tired, and still have a lot to do, but better.

That is, of course, until I read the news. :) Anglican also sent me this great video of a priest standing up to a Fox reporter about Jeremiah Wright. Interesting about Wright to be sure, and a strong defense of the man, but the most telling thing for me was the absolute total lack of objectivity by the Fox reporter. Not even close and not even trying. For him, Wright is unAmerican and a bigot and hate monger, and that is it. There is no alternative, and that is where he starts the questions. Pretty much par for the course from Fox reporters, from what I have seen. Or from ABC's Charlie Gibson at the last debate when he framed the question as if supply side economics is established truth. Sigh.

Speaking of sighs, Hillary Clinton is back on the attack, or more accurately, still on the attack. And that would be great if she were attacking John McCain. But of course, she is attacking Obama and his supporters. She has a right to do that, but unfortunately, it appears that she is willing to destroy Obama even if it means losing in the fall. Personally, I think if we could get her to drop out of the race she cannot win, then the polling data that shows Obama and McCain in a dead heat would change dramatically. McCain is a train wreck candidate and the more exposure he gets, the more we will see that. But Hillary believes the Presidency is hers--that she is entitled to it. So much so, that she is willing to cozy up with Richard Mellon Scaife and emulate the very same partisan attacks that the right used against her husband. So much so, that she is now bashing the core activists of the Democratic party. She was overheard bashing MoveOn.org's members as radicals who opposed Afghanistan and now crash caucuses to undermine her. Hilzoy is not happy and notes:
"To say this about her opponents is just wrong. But to say it about the activist base of her party -- about the people who are motivated enough to show up for caucuses and participate in the electoral process -- is insane. Hillary Clinton is running for the nomination of the Democratic Party. She is trying to represent us. If she thinks that people like publius, who caucused in Texas, is worthy of contempt, or that the stunning increase in Democratic voter participation this year is not a cause for joy but a sign that the dirty f*cking hippies have taken over, why doesn't she just become a Republican? She's certainly talking like one."
My friends and I have noted that just three months ago, we were fine with who ever won the Democratic primary. Now, I wince every time I see the Clintons on television.


April 18, 2008

More trouble for Hillary

Theda Skocpol on Hillary's "screw them" statement:
"But what is clear in both in my memory and my notes is that there was extensive, hard-nosed discussion about why masses of voters did not support Clinton or trust government or base their choices on economic as opposed to what people saw as peripheral life-style concerns. Hillary Clinton was among the most cold-blooded analysts in attendance. She spoke of ordinary voters as if they were a species apart, and showed interest only in the political usefulness of their choices -- usefulness to the Clinton administration, that is.

I vividly remember at the time finding it impressive that Bill Clinton (NOT Hillary Clinton) showed real empathy for the ordinary people whose motives and supposedly misguided choices were under analysis. Ironically, just as Barber reported, Bill Clinton was the one who combined analysis and empathy, much as Obama himself did in his full San Francisco remarks."

It is particularly despicable of them to criticize Obama for the sort of observation/analysis that was routine in and around the 1990s Clinton White House. And I cannot help but feel there is a psychological edge of pure envy in Bill Clinton's attacks: Obama is empathetic and charismatic as well as smart, just like Bill was back then, in those so much better days!

Over and out. I am going to try to find a way to preserve in amber my better memories and feelings about the Clintons, so as not to lose altogether the sense of admiration I once felt, but can no longer.

This is pretty funny

And also sad.
Obsidian Wings: The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858 (Slight Return): "STEPHANOPOULOS: I’m sorry to interrupt, but do you think Mr. Douglas loves America as much you do?

LINCOLN: Sure I do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But who loves America more?

LINCOLN: I’d prefer to get on with my opening statement George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: If your love for America were eight apples, how many apples would Senator Douglas’s love be?

LINCOLN: Eight."
Read the whole thing.

April 17, 2008

On patriotism

From Upper Left
"Who loves America? Jeremiah Wright loved it enough that while Dick Cheney was getting his string of five deferments, Wright voluntarily gave up his student deferment, left college and joined the United States Marine Corps. Wright was valedictorian of his class in Corpsman School. When asked about the sacrifices he'd made, Wright said he was inspired by the words of John Kennedy that he should 'ask what he could do for his country.'

And he did that at a time where there were many restaurants in this country that wouldn't serve him food, hotels where he could not get a room, neighborhoods where he could not hope to live, and whole states where he could not obtain justice. That, damn it, is how much Jeremiah Wright loves this country. What Stephanopoulos asked isn't fair, because there are very few people who have expressed their love for America as clearly as Reverend Wright, especially when America -- then and now -- rarely seems to appreciate their dedication."

An open letter to Charlie Gibson and George Stephanapoulos

And it is a good one:
You implied throughout the broadcast that you wanted to reflect the concerns of voters in Pennsylvania. Well, I'm a Pennsylvanian voter, and so are my neighbors and most of my friends and co-workers. You asked virtually nothing that reflected our everyday issues -- trying to fill our gas tanks and save for college at the same time, our crumbling bridges and inadequate mass transit, or the root causes of crime here in Philadelphia. In fact, there almost isn't enough space -- and this is cyberspace, where room is unlimited -- to list all the things you could have asked about but did not, from health care to climate change to alternative energy to our policy toward China to the deterioration of Afghanistan to veterans' benefits to improving education. You ignored virtually everything that just happened in what most historians agree is one of the worst presidencies in American history, including the condoning of torture and the trashing of the Constitution, although to be fair you also ignored the policy concerns of people on the right, like immigration issues.

You asked about gun control -- phrased to try for a "gotcha" in a state where that's such a divisive issue -- but not about what we really care about, which is how to reduce crime. You pressed and pressed on those capital gains taxes, but Senators Clinton and Obama were forced to bring up the housing crisis on their own initiative.

Instead, you wasted more than half of the debate -- a full hour -- on tabloid trivia that for the most part wasn't even that interesting, because most of it was infertile ground that has already been covered again and again and again. I'm not saying that Rev. Wright and Bosnia sniper fire and "bitter" were never newsworthy -- I myself wrote about all of these for the Philadelphia Daily News or my Attytood blog, back when they were more relevant -- but the questions were stale yet clearly intended to gin up controversy (they didn't, by the way, other than the controversy over you.) The final questions of that section, asking Obama whether he thought Rev. Wright "loved America" and then suggesting that Obama himself is somehow a hater of the American flag, or worse, were flat-out repulsive.

Are you even thinking when simply echo some of the vilest talking points from far-right talk radio? What are actually getting at -- do you honestly believe that someone with a solid track record as a lawmaker in a Heartland state which elected him to the U.S. Senate, who is now seeking to make some positive American history as our first black president, is somehow un-American, or unpatriotic? Does that even make any sense? Question his policies, or question his leadership. because that is your job as a journalist. But don't insult our intelligence by questioning his patriotism.
An amazing list of issues never raised. I have suggested (almost tongue-in-cheek) that while campaign finance reform may be unworkable, perhaps we could work on some debate reform where we force the candidates to answer real questions about their job. The fact that Obama's lapel pin is still a subject for, well, anyone, is ludicrous.

April 16, 2008


One book from the 90s suggests that Hillary Clinton had a much different take on Southern working class whites In 1995:
"In January 1995, as the Clintons were licking their wounds from the 1994 congressional elections, a debate emerged at a retreat at Camp David. Should the administration make overtures to working class white southerners who had all but forsaken the Democratic Party? The then-first lady took a less than inclusive approach.

'Screw 'em,' she told her husband. 'You don't owe them a thing, Bill. They're doing nothing for you; you don't have to do anything for them.'"

Even more interesting and oddly making Bill look good (in my mind) is his followup:
I know how you feel. I understand Hillary's sense of outrage. It makes me mad too. Sure, we lost our base in the South; our boys voted for Gingrich. But let me tell you something. I know these boys. I grew up with them. Hardworking, poor, white boys, who feel left out, feel that our reforms always come at their expense. Think about it, every progressive advance our country has made since the Civil War has been on their backs. They're the ones asked to pay the price of progress. Now, we are the party of progress, but let me tell you, until we find a way to include these boys in our programs, until we stop making them pay the whole price of liberty for others, we are never going to unite our party, never really going to have change that sticks.
Of course, that last one sounds remarkably like Obama, and is what Hillary 2008 would call elitist and patronizing.

One of Sully's readers on elitism

The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

My background: I'm an educated centrist, and as it were, gun-owner and sometime duck hunter.
On the 'elitist' debate: I've been amused to see the likes of Bill Kristol, Roger Kimball and Rich Lowry and other conservative commentators so incredibly desperate in their efforts to convince people like me that we're being looked down upon by Obama -- a black guy raised by a single mom who worked as an organizer among the poor of Chicago, etc. etc.
I personally don't feel in the least that Obama is an elitist. Rather, I feel the elitists are those highly educated, inside-the-beltway weenies like Kristol, the bow-tie wearing Kimball, the UVA grad and prepster Lowry who are tripping over themselves to tell me how offended I ought to feel when I know damn well I'm not offended. Id be shocked if Roger Kimball, Lowry or God knows Bill Kristol know the first thing about hunting ducks, or if they could survive ten minutes in a cold duck blind before dawn, the artery-clogging breakfast that follows or the round of beer and whiskey drinking that goes on the night before.

In my opinion, listening to these folks go on and on about how offended I should be makes me feel a hell of a lot more condescended to than hearing some single throw-away line at a fundraiser. Obama said his thing once; these wankers won't shut up. It's as if they think I'm too stupid to figure things out for myself, so they can't miss an opportunity to tell me how I've been slighted. Well sorry, weenies -- I just don't feel slighted, and that's because I'll be damned if I'm going to pick a president based on a stupid gaffe when there is a war going on and when the economy is going in the shitter. These guys must really think I'm a moron.
It is funny to see wealthy, elitist Republicans chiding a guy who grew up with his single mom. Of course, this is from the same people who said that Bush was a war hero and John Kerry a draft dodging hippie.

April 15, 2008

On some things, we have made some progress...

I hope. Here is a sexist commercial from the past courtesy of Boing Boing.

Idiots and morons

No, not the Bush admin, though they do qualify, but rather our press corps. Sadly, No! is "about to lose it" after reading Chris Cillizza's take on the Obama stupidity.
Critical mass has been reached. “Bitter” and “cling” will forever be tied to Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) in the same way that “Tuzla” and “the laugh” will always evoke Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) when a political junkie thinks of the 2008 Democratic race.
Brad, at Sadly, No! responds:
Goddammit, I hate our press corps. I have never in my life seen a such a large collection of catty, shallow and gossipy pieces of garbage. Instead of, say, talking about health care, gas prices, inflation, the Iraq war or the environment, these useless gasbags waste our time finding the most idiotic and petty anecdotes to spread around, all while dutifully handing John Effing McCain boxes of donuts. Do I really give a rat’s ass about how Hillary Clinton laughs? Are you serious?"
That is the nature of our press corps. Stupid, and ridiculously following the inconsequential and trivial rather than the substantive. Can Obama bowl? Is he "black enough?"


Jon Stewart had a great take on the whole "bitter" issue last night, and really pointed out how silly and destructive this political fear of "elitism" has become. Fear of elitism, according to Hillary, cost both John Kerry and Al Gore the presidency. And I think she is right. Think how many people voted for Bush because he seemed a "regular guy." Give me a break. As Jon said last night, "hey, if you don't think you are better than us, what the f*ck are you doing?" I know a lot of people who are very nice people, who I like personally, who I drink beer or coffee with. But none of them are qualified to lead our country.

Seriously, anyone who votes for the next President because they think the candidate is just like everyone else in the country--is AN IDIOT! How about we choose our leaders based on their ability and try to elevate the "best and the brightest" and then watch them like a hawk? Instead of electing the mentally challenged and giving them carte blanche. Talk about monumentally stupid.

I will say this about Bush. Clinton's (both of them) over the last few months have more than excused everyone who voted for Bush in 2000. They are insufferable and I now remember just how tired of them I was at the time, and how frustrated I was with the constant spinning and politicizing of so many issues.

But 2004 is a different issue. And we are paying the cost of this monumental stupidity. Deregulated industry and economy. Actually, Bush doesn't deregulate, he just appoints more monumentally stupid people to oversee critical areas like the housing market or aviation safety or mine safety and makes sure that no actual oversight occurs. But however you count it, in year 8 of his presidency, we are in 2 wars with no end in sight; 3 trillion dollars in debt and no end in sight; our social safety net shattered; our regulatory agencies gutted; our Justice Department packed with Pat Robertson clones, etc.

And our idiot press corps cares more about one phrase in a speech than all of that.

April 14, 2008

Congressman apologizes, still doesn't seem to get the point

TPM Election Central | Talking Points Memo |: "'My poor choice of words is regrettable and was in no way meant to impugn you or your integrity,' Davis wrote in a letter that was delivered to Obama's Senate office. 'I offer my sincere apology to you and ask for your forgiveness.'"
Congressman, your offense was more than "impugning his integrity," and you should know that.

No, race is not a problem any more, no sir!

And certainly not in the Republican party.
Talking Points Memo | Hmmmm: "Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY) on Obama: 'I'm going to tell you something: That boy's finger does not need to be on the button. He could not make a decision in that simulation that related to a nuclear threat to this country.'"

Holy Shit! In 2008, a Republican congressman refers to an African American US Senator as "boy."

The Torture President

I know this is nothing new on this blog, but it is still amazing how involved this President has been in the torture of others. As many have noted, it was rather shocking last week to find that the President's top advisors met in the White House in meetings chaired by Condi Rice, and attended by Cheney, Powell, Ashcroft and others to discuss individual torture techniques and to approve them. Shocking enough, that, but then Bush admitted to Marth Raddatz that he not only knew of the meetings and what went on in them, he approved.
"Anthony Lewis writes in the New York Review of Books (subscription required): 'In these last weeks of turbulent events, the single most significant has not been the financial crisis, not the fall of a governor, not the passing of the fifth year of the war without end in Iraq. It has been an American president's formal blessing of the use of torture.

'That was what President Bush did in early March when he vetoed legislation prohibiting the use of brutal methods of interrogation by American intelligence agents. His action was quickly overtaken by other news. But in its redefinition of American values--of the American character--it had profound implications.

'I grew up believing that Americans did not torture prisoners, as Hitler's and Stalin's agents did. There were rogue episodes of American brutality, but to make torture a national policy? Unthinkable.

'No one should be in any doubt that torture was what President Bush had in mind. No one should be fooled by Orwellian talk of 'enhanced interrogation techniques.' . . .

'George W. Bush can seek his God's mercy for trying to legitimize torture by Americans. But here on earth he cannot escape judgment. For me he will always be the Torture President.'"
I agree. He will always be that in my mind as well.

Monday morning annoyances

First, let me say that I am really annoyed by the Clinton, Rove and McCain response to Obama's speech last week where the Illinois senator suggested that small town America was "bitter" because of lost opportunities and declining jobs. Hillary Clinton jumped on it as "elitist," but had no such objection when Obama noted that "fire was hot" and "gravity makes things fall." Ok, I made that last part up, but it might as well be true. Obama spoke the truth, and Hillary knows that. As many have noted, her husband said the same essential thing back in 1991. Sure, Obama most likely misspoke or could have stated it better. He isn't perfect. But the response from the Clintons to act in Rovian style is disheartening.


Saw this story over at Mainstream Baptist. I have not been a Southern Baptist now for many, many years, but my past affiliation seems hard to completely drop. Even after the organization turned into a clapping factory for George W. Bush and to this day, as far as I know, has yet to take a stance against the administration's torture policy. Oh, and then there was the year they demanded that women get back to beings submissive... and the year they invited Condi Rice to speak and cheered loudly at news of a dead terrorist....

But Ethics Daily has this bit on how Richard Land (once of the worst comb-over in American history) was criticizing the new Baptist organization of being partisan. How dare they, he asked, when the SBC is clearly the most partisan, most whore-like for the GOP? Ok, he didn't actually ask that, but he might as well have. The new baptist organization (which I am not joining either, mind you) has not taken a political stance, but has invited a lot of Democrats to speak. They invited people like Huckabee as well, but I think inviting Democrats to speak is the original sin. I still remember hearing people ask (honestly) if there was such a thing as a "Christian democrat." And in 1998, Land said that the denomination wanted a close relationship with the GOP:
''The go-along, get-along strategy is dead,'' Land told the New York Times discussing the GOP in 1998. ''No more engagement," he said. "We want a wedding ring. We want a ceremony. We want a consummation of the marriage.''
I think someone who wanted the SBC to become a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican party is in any position to criticize any other religious organization for "politicizing religion."


Interesting side note from the same piece was a discussion Land had about the SBC and poverty. He claims that the SBC gives nearly 75 cents of every dollar to alleviating suffering. Ethics Daily suggests that those numbers are not exactly right:
While 72.79 percent of the current Cooperative Program budget--the name for the SBC's unified giving plan--does go to world mission ministries, just $8 million of nearly $290 million received by the International Mission Board in 2006-2007 was designated for hunger and relief. The North American Mission Board spent $1.2 million on disaster relief out of a budget of $125 million.

April 12, 2008

This is a good thing

In two ways. First, renaming a peak called "Squaw Peak" seems a good thing, in this day and age, and way too late. And then the person they chose to honor.
"A federal agency with dominion over such things has renamed it Piestewa Peak, in honor of Lori Piestewa, who became the first Native American woman to die in combat as a member of the U.S. military when she was killed in Iraq in 2003."
Piestewa was killed in the same hostile action where Jessica Lynch was captured. All of the attention was lavished on the white girl capitve, and ignored the service and sacrifice of Piestewa. Ignored, that is, except by Lynch who referred to Lori Piestewa as the true hero of that day, and later named her daughter in memory of Lori.


I am tired this morning and glad it is Saturday. I need to do some grading but don't want to. So there.

I have been busy with a project. I might say more about that later. But it means that I am not as up on the news as I have been. I only noted that Dick Cheney was in Grand Junction, Colorado to raise money for a Senate candidate. It is hard to imagine the place where Cheney is remotely popular. After all, his approval ratings hover in the low 20s.

And the guy he is fundraising for? TPM notes that he is from the Abramoff mode and seems to think that sweatshops and forced abortion might be a good model, to say nothing about slave labor:
"When Republican Senate candidate Bob Schaffer freely offered earlier this week that the Northern Mariana Islands, notorious for human rights abuses and sweatshops, were a great model for a nationwide guest worker program, it seemed to be coming out of the blue. But a look at Schaffer's time in the House (where he represented Colorado's 4th District from 1997 through 2003) shows that he was one of the most reliable allies for the islands, which were represented for most of that time by lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

The Denver Post reported today on a trip Schaffer took to the islands in August of 1999. The trip was nominally funded by the Traditional Values Coalition, though like all the other junkets to the islands, it was really organized by Abramoff."
Seriously. Can the Republican party nominate anyone who doesn't with one hand quote the bible and with the other advocate the worst human behavior?


But this made me smile.

From Boing Boing, the coolest spoon and bowl set I have ever seen.


April 11, 2008

Are the Olympics relevant?

Honestly, I don't know. Though I end up watching some of the games, I have lost a great deal of interest. The games seem to have lost much meaning. On the athletic front, they were the rarified air where obscure sports specialists practiced their craft or even mainstream competitors got to play at a international level. But now? Tennis players compete in international competitions every day. And each year, we are given some "sport" like snowboarding or motocross bikes or trampoline.

But the great olympic moments of the past have been deeply connected to the cold war, and when that ended, the games degenerated into just another sporting event. Worse, they degenerated into a huge orgy of consumption and advertising, complete with idiot coverage that injects "drama" into every moment. Well, every moment about American athletes. Who can forget the "rivalry" between the American and Australian swim teams? Yawn.

But this year is different. Because of China's horrible human rights record, people around the world are protesting even the movement of the olympic torch. I don't recall the torch being news before. (Note, China responds to complaints about human rights from the US by pointing to Iraq and Guantanamo.) Some are angry about the protests, like this writer from the Dakotas:
"But the Olympics shouldn’t be about politics. The games should offer a chance to put all of those worries and troubles aside, if only for a few weeks every four years.

President Bush feels the same way. A spokesman last week said “the president’s position about the Olympics has been that this is not a political event, but a chance for athletes to compete at the top of their class.”"
Of course, citing the President ALWAYS helps strengthen an argument, but the underlying sentiment is simply ridiculous. The Olympics have always been about politics, and even importantly so. Without the Cold War, the "miracle on ice" was just another hockey game. Watching Paris erupt over the flame brought out conflicted feelings. One was a sense of complicity, that my government has become rather blase about repression of human rights and so connected to China's economy that we cannot really speak our minds and values. The other was a sense of interest for the first time--that the Olympics were once again going to make people (perhaps) more important than the Pepsi sponsorship.

The President could not be more wrong (again). This is a perfect time and place to talk about politics.

April 10, 2008

Ah, religion and stupidity.

Sorry, but that was the first thing that came to mind when I saw that Mike Huckabee intends to form another religious right political organization. I can almost see the motto now: "because truth has a well known liberal bias." Huckabee promises first to fight evolution on every front and then to turn his attention to gravity believers. "After all, gravity is unprovable as well. If God wants to raise people off the ground, he can do so despite what science has to say."

Ok, I mad all of that up--except Huckabee forming this new organization. My second thought, of course, was "wow, that is what this country really needs. Another religious right organization. We are so much better off because of the 25 we have now."


Had lunch today with Anglican (no, he doesn't make me think of religion and idiocy) and while waiting for him read letters to the editor on the Sally Kern issue. You remember that she received some flack for comparing homosexuality to cancer and said "I honestly think it’s the biggest threat even, that our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam, which I think is a big threat, OK.” She also suggested that Christianity is the favored religion in our country by design--even though the constitution doesn't pick and choose.

What struck me about the responses was the common refrain that I have grown to really dislike from conservative Christians. It goes something like this: "your problem isn't with Sally Kern, it is with God. All she did was quote the Bible."

Never mind that I object to that being a trump card. As I have said on more than a few occasions, with all due respect, I don't need a Bible verse to tell me that racism is evil or that women are equal.

But what bothers me even more about that refrain or retort, is that it is patently disingenuous and really dishonest. If all Sally Kern said was that she believed that homosexuality was immoral, she would be within some boundaries of reasonable people reading the Bible (and basing their moral stance there). But she said compared it to a physical cancer and said it was more dangerous than Islam. (Not "radical Islam," mind you, but Islam, period. So she is a religious bigot as well). But even if we overlooked the anti-muslim speech, when her defenders invoke the Bible and "God's word" to defend her, they are clearly not being honest. Unless there are verses about Islam and the "homosexual agenda" in the Bible.

No, Mr. and Mrs. Bible Thumper, our problem is not with God. It is with how you interpret her and pretend the Creator shares your personal beliefs. I would respect you a lot more if you didn't hide behind the Bible and blame your bigotry on God. Stand up and admit that you are afraid of homosexuality and you don't know one way or another how the Creator of the Universe stands on the issue. Because you don't.


The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan: "'In a move that's sure to be seen as controversial, Hillary has contacted the NCAA Board of Directors to argue that Memphis is actually better qualified to be National Champion.

Ms. Clinton stated that Memphis, while losing the game, had actually shown more ability to act like a National Champion on Day One. She argued that Memphis had passed every test during the game, including scoring more points than Kansas for 38 minutes. For 38 minutes they had shown the experience necessary to be National Champion. 'Just because some team comes along in the last minute and scores more points than the other guy doesn't mean they're necessarily able to be National Champion on Day One,'' - DPolitico.

April 9, 2008

As if I wasn't in bad enough mood

I read this great synopsis of Pat Robertson's sleaze. He is just one reason I distrust Christians who claim to know what God thinks about anything. In this case, surprise, surprise, God always agrees with Pat and wanted him to be very rich and powerful.

All I can say is that if true, God went from seeking leaders like Moses to trolling for the absolute scum of the earth.

Somehow I don't think that is the case, but try telling that to all the millions who either turn to the idiot for advice or send him money.

Your favorite book(s)?

My earlier snarky post on the Bible as America's favorite book elicited some great responses from Anglican and Jessika, and actually spurred me to think a little more about it. To a certain degree, I suspect that Jessika is correct, that a great many people choose the Bible because they think it makes them sound righteous. But it could also be, as Anglican notes, that people don't actually read much and so can only think of a few. Perhaps I am too hard on them. But in compiling my own list, I must say that the Bible is no where to be found. I respect the wisdom and lessons, but would have to say that it is not my favorite read. Sorry.

Part of the problem is the vague idea of "favorite book." Favorite what kind? In fiction, my tastes run from thoroughly enjoying what my brother calls "plane trash" or quick reads by Robert Parker or David Baldacci. I also love the Stephen Hunter "sniper series." For a little more serious fare, I love the James Lee Burke "Dave Robicheaux" series and think they are among the best detective fiction ever written. I also think Jon Krakauer's books are fantastic. For slightly better fiction, Michael Malone's "Cuddy and Justin" series are really smart and thoughtful. I reread them often.

Favorite history book? There are many that impress me. William Cronon's Nature's Metropolis and Gordon Wood's Creation of the American Republic still rank as two of the most impressive books I have ever read. Richard White's book on the Columbia river, Paul Boyer's When Time Shall Be No More, Stephen Prothero's American Jesus and the oft mentioned Mark Noll Scandal of the Evangelical Mind are on the short list. Tony Horowitz's Confederates in the Attic and Susan Faludi's Stiffed are also high on my list.

Over the years, the books that have probably changed me the most were those like Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea, Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird (I did read that several times) and Alex Haley's Autobiography of Malcolm X. Those all challenged me at some fundamental level.

So, what are your favorite books? And why?

Before I forget, a great post on better sleep

Lifehacker Top 10: Top 10 Ways to Sleep Smarter and Better

Bible is America's favorite book--yay!

I am going to have to call bullshit on this one. Seriously? I am not doubting that a good many Americans read the Bible, but it is their favorite book? Do they love the lesser respected version that says that torture is cool? Or the one that urges believers to support warfare and ignore the poor and the environment?

Let's just say I am cynical about this. Of course, it doesn't help America's case when their next favorite book list includes "Gone with the Wind" and "The Da Vinci Code." At least Harper Lee made the list.

April 8, 2008

Just annoying

Sarah notes two stories where AmeriChristians attack atheists as either dangerous or, in the mind of one church sign, nonexistent. These people make Christianity look really, really, really bad.
Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) interrupted atheist activist Rob Sherman during his testimony Wednesday afternoon before the House State Government Administration Committee in Springfield and told him, “What you have to spew and spread is extremely dangerous . . . it’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists!

“This is the Land of Lincoln where people believe in God,” Davis said. “Get out of that seat . . . You have no right to be here! We believe in something. You believe in destroying! You believe in destroying what this state was built upon.”

April 7, 2008

One reason we are a torture nation

Because the right, as exemplified by a Weekly Standard Editor thinks it is just fine, in a blog post entitled "Torture Yoo Can Believe In." Clever and witty, because Torture is a point of humor for them, not concern:
I haven't really been following this issue, mostly because I'm pretty sure that whatever the government is doing to these terrorists wouldn't 'shock my conscience.' Like my man Scalia says, sometimes you're going to have to take these terrorists and 'smack them in the face.' But, some folks are more easily shocked than I am, and they are in full moral outrage mode this morning with the release of a 2003 memo by John Yoo (now a professor at Berkeley!) approving 'harsh interrogation techniques.' Oh, the humanity!"

Translation: "Whatever my conservative government does in my name is fine, and I won't worry that they might have tortured innocent Iraqis and turned them into terrorists, because we are righteous and good, even when we dunk detainees in freezing water."

No wonder Bush hasn't fretted the public opinion consequences of torture. His base loves it, and if anything, wants more of it.


Interesting read on the rise of neoconservatism

This book review suggests that we can blame individual neocons like Wolfowitz and Perle all we want, but we will have to acknowledge that the roots lie in the American public's penchant for a good v. evil world where America, of course, is purely good. Not addressing that issue, the writer suggests, will not help us stop the next neocon war.

April 6, 2008

A must read on torture

From Vanity Fair, this expose of how our administration gave The Green Light to torture.

Sands suggests that the people involved are in real danger of war crimes if they ever step outside the country. What is more, they might be further undone by the very Military Commissions act intended to protect them. And it seems very, very, very clear that our government tortured detainees in our name.
Mohammed al-Qahtani is among the first six detainees scheduled to go on trial for complicity in the 9/11 attacks; the Bush administration has announced that it will seek the death penalty. Last month, President Bush vetoed a bill that would have outlawed the use by the C.I.A. of the techniques set out in the Haynes Memo and used on al-Qahtani. Whatever he may have done, Mohammed al-Qahtani was entitled to the protections afforded by international law, including Geneva and the torture convention. His interrogation violated those conventions. There can be no doubt that he was treated cruelly and degraded, that the standards of Common Article 3 were violated, and that his treatment amounts to a war crime. If he suffered the degree of severe mental distress prohibited by the torture convention, then his treatment crosses the line into outright torture. These acts resulted from a policy decision made right at the top, not simply from ground-level requests in Guantánamo, and they were supported by legal advice from the president’s own circle.
Those responsible for the interrogation of Detainee 063 face a real risk of investigation if they set foot outside the United States. Article 4 of the torture convention criminalizes “complicity” or “participation” in torture, and the same principle governs violations of Common Article 3.
It would be wrong to consider the prospect of legal jeopardy unlikely. I remember sitting in the House of Lords during the landmark Pinochet case, back in 1999—in which a prosecutor was seeking the extradition to Spain of the former Chilean head of state for torture and other international crimes—and being told by one of his key advisers that they had never expected the torture convention to lead to the former president of Chile’s loss of legal immunity. In my efforts to get to the heart of this story, and its possible consequences, I visited a judge and a prosecutor in a major European city, and guided them through all the materials pertaining to the Guantánamo case. The judge and prosecutor were particularly struck by the immunity from prosecution provided by the Military Commissions Act. “That is very stupid,” said the prosecutor, explaining that it would make it much easier for investigators outside the United States to argue that possible war crimes would never be addressed by the justice system in the home country—one of the trip wires enabling foreign courts to intervene. For some of those involved in the Guantánamo decisions, prudence may well dictate a more cautious approach to international travel. And for some the future may hold a tap on the shoulder.
“It’s a matter of time,” the judge observed. “These things take time.” As I gathered my papers, he looked up and said, “And then something unexpected happens, when one of these lawyers travels to the wrong place.”

April 5, 2008

Hmm. The voters should be respected in one, but not the other?

Hillary Clinton Asks Obama Pledged Delegates In North Dakota To Switch:
Sen. Hillary Clinton made a blunt appeal to North Dakota delegates to switch their support to her, despite the fact that Sen. Barack Obama handily defeated her in the state's caucus in February.

As for Michigan and Florida?
Some say their votes should be ignored and the popular vote in Michigan and Florida should be discounted. Well, I have a different view," Clinton said at a rally here. "The popular vote in Florida and Michigan has already been counted. It was determined by election results, it was certified by election officials in each state, it's been officially tallied by the secretary of state in each state, and the question is whether those 2.3 million Democrats will be honored and their delegates seated by the Democratic party."
The vote should be honored unless it goes against Hillary?

Not impressive.

Saturday morning--Friday afternoon scare turns out well

This week was exhausting for both of us, and I think we are both glad to welcome a weekend. Yesterday proved to be even more stressful, when our dog Abbie got out of the backyard for at least 20 minutes. One of our neighbors down the street saw me as I was frantically looking for her and offered to help. As I was returning to the house to take the car looking for her, he found her under a bush across the busy street. I can't thank him enough for finding her.

We think the meter reader for the gas company left the gate open. I have watched them over the years do this. They come in one way, read the meter, and then climb over the fence to get into the neighbor's yard--usually with no regard either for the gate or for the fence. And I must say, the gas company has had the absolutely worst customer phone service over the years, and yesterday was no exception. She was churlish and hardly helpful. I have no real good faith that the gas company will tell their meter readers anything at all. We may move to reading that meter ourselves, and still allow the electric company to read. In contrast with the gas company, the electric people were very helpful and even apologetic for an incident they had not caused.

Reminds me of another gas company story. A few years ago, they replaced our meter and had to dig up part of the yard. In fairness, they did little damage to the yard, and it was more of an inconvenience than problem. But then they came and reconnected the gas and we did a quick check inside to see if the stove and water heater worked. 20 minutes later, however, I tried to take a shower only to find cold water. I called, and they said that since it had been working when the guy left, I would have to pay for a relighting visit. I believe I stuttered at that point and pointed out they had just dug up my back yard. Yes, she agreed, but then added, "but we aren't charging you for that."



We are shopping for a new camera, btw, and wonder if anyone has some suggestions. We like Canon, and are looking for a digital camera with 7 or so mp that is small and easy to carry around.


Couple of news items caught my eye. The first, is just a sad reminder of unintended consequences. I wonder if the conservative Christians who supported this war from the beginning realize that the war has made Iraq completely unsafe for Christians. Despite the horrors of Saddam, Christians were not persecuted under his rule. Now, Christian leaders are being killed. I hear very little from the conservative Christian segment about this.


I have had several conversations about the press lately and am still amazed that so many conservatives just accept blindly the charge that the media is liberal. In one recent conversation, I kept pointing out the blind support from the media when the war was unfolding, and they seemed to agree with that, but somehow that didn't count now that the media was critical. And being critical, it seems, means reporting bad news from the war. That makes them liberal, I guess, and reminds me of Stephen Colbert's great line, "The truth has a well-known liberal bias."

A good take on this is from Greg Mitchell, who here relates his conversation with Bill Moyers from 5 years ago. His criticism of the media and the public is still timely.
"MOYERS: What do you think is stake for democracy and how we journalists cover this war?

MITCHELL: Edward R. Murrow had a quote on his wall in his office from Thoreau in which he said something like, 'To speak the truth, you need two people. One to speak it and one to hear it.' And I think that sums up the relationship not only between the military and the press but the press and the American people. You know, the press often is reporting factual matters. And the public sometimes turns away from it. We entered this war, with upwards of half the people in the country believing that Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attack."

April 4, 2008

Yoo didn't even tell Ashcroft

Administration Asserted a Terror Exception on Search and Seizure - washingtonpost.com: "Retired Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when the memo was written, said that he never saw the document authorizing harsh military interrogations and that its narrow definition of torture is 'absolutely ludicrous.'

'I frankly don't know anyone in the military who bought into that as a good definition of when you cross the line,' Myers said this week. 'In the end, you want to do the right thing. I worry most about reciprocity, how other countries will treat us.'

Neither the attorney general at the time, John D. Ashcroft, nor his deputy, Larry D. Thompson, were aware of the 81-page memo when it was written and sent to the Pentagon in March 2003, according to several former senior department officials. The Pentagon was told in December 2003 to disregard the legal advice in the memo after Justice Department lawyers raised objections.

The memo was written by John C. Yoo, then a deputy in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, who also wrote or co-wrote many of the key legal opinions that asserted an expansive view of presidential power in the Bush administration's early years. Now a California law professor, Yoo has defended his work as a 'near boilerplate' defense of presidential prerogatives and said subsequent criticism has been motivated by politics."

I knew it!

Daily caffeine "protects brain"

April 3, 2008

Wow, abstinence only really doesn't work--and other news

And as we have discussed, it is worse than not effective:
"A recent survey that found some Florida teens believe drinking a cap of bleach will prevent HIV and a shot of Mountain Dew will stop pregnancy has prompted lawmakers to push for an overhaul of sex education in the state.
The survey showed that Florida teens also believe that smoking marijuana will prevent a person from getting pregnant.
State lawmakers said the myths are spreading because of Florida's abstinence-only sex education, Local 6 reported.
They are proposing a bill that would require a more comprehensive approach, the report said.
It would still require teaching abstinence but students would also learn about condoms and other methods of birth control and disease prevention."
Sure glad that faith based sex ed has kids thinking about DRINKING BLEACH!


Oh, and I am guessing that some of these people are also included in this group of Missouri Baptists who think that the Confederate flag is godly.


Oh, the Bush admin seems to never find the bottom. Now this report from NPR says that our Justice department fired a very qualified attorney because she was gay. Her performance evals were always at the top, but this justice department fired her anyway. Of course, competence could easily be a problem for people who thought Gonzo was qualified to be AG.


And this guy has a radio show:
"[Y]ou have to understand the mindset of a lot of these feminists and women. They think they're owed this — just like Obama supporters think they're owed this. These women have paid their dues. They've been married two or three times; they've had two or three abortions; they've done everything that feminism asked them to do. They have cut men out of their lives; they have devoted themselves to causes and careers. And this — the candidacy of Hillary Clinton — is the culmination of all of these women's efforts. And if it gets stolen from them [by] a rookie, radical black guy who can't tell the time of day, they are going to be so miffed," - Rush Limbaugh.
Monumentally stupid keeps coming to mind this week.


But all is not lost. Fafnir explains "why we fight:"
Nothing less will stop the monster in the closet from allying with the boogeyman under the bed to form a sinister new Axis of Spooky
To gently massage foreign dictatorships into stable liberal democracies through the subtle and delicate eastern art of acubombing
All the older presidents an senators were all hangin out in the boys room an lookin cool an smokin cigarettes an passin around faulty pre-war intelligence an we just hadda invade
In solemn memory of that hypothetically terrible day when Saddam Hussein sent pretend terrorists to attack fictional buildings with weapons of mass imagination
We dared them, and then they double-dared us, and then we triple-dog-dared them, and if we say uncle now all the mullahs'll know we're chicken!
You wanna be president, you gotta pop at least one third-world country before you're parta the gang
If we stopped randomly blowing people up now, someone might think something's wrong with us.

More McCain as "maverick" nonsense

Crooks and Liars: Race For The White House: Scarborough Doesn’t Need No Stinkin’ Facts To Know McCain Is A MaverickAnd I love Rachel Maddow. Stands up to Joe here very well:
JS: He refused to tell Tim Russert that he made a mistake voting against—he was one of two Republicans that voted against Bush’s tax cuts. Conservatives will tell you that two things that Bush did right…

RM: And then he changed his mind about them, Joe.

JS: No, he hasn’t changed his mind.

RM: He says he wants them to be permanent now…

JS: He told Tim Russert on Meet the Press in New Hampshire when his life…political life was on the line that he made the right call. He was glad he voted against them.

RM: And now he wants them to be made permanent. He is…He’s pandering to the right and it defies the media happy talk that they like about John McCain…

JS: Okay …whatever…

RM: …but how else to do you explain going after the John Hagee endorsement, going after the Rod Parsley endorsement…

JS: Okay…You know what? Let’s see, let’s see…the Democrats…

RM:…changing his mind on torture, changing his mind on the tax cuts…

JS: Rachel… Good lord…

April 2, 2008

Who is as dumb as Sally Kern?

The SBC who flooded to OK to show support for someone so monumentally stupid that she thinks my gay friends are a bigger threat than terrorism. One further who says that this is a free speech issue.


Is it wrong to want to send this group money?

Check it out. The perfect legacy for this administration.


Torture Memo--it is ok when we do it

Hard to read about John Yoo's horrible legal justification for torture and not think that is the upshot--torture is fine if we do it overseas, and as long as it is not done with "malice or sadism." Anything done to protect the country from an attack is ok in that logic.

And I, as a liberal, am the relative moralist.