Sunday, August 31, 2008

Birds of a feather


Steve Benen writes that
The Anchorage Daily News' Gregg Erickson [has] noticed that the Alaskan Republican takes a decidedly Bush-like attitude towards matters of government: "[Palin] tends to oversimplify complex issues ... It is clear that she has not paid much attention to the nitty-gritty unglamorous work of government, of gaining consensus, and making difficult compromises. She seems to be of the view that politics should be all rather simple. That often appeals to the wider public, but frustrates those who see themselves as laboring in the less glamorous parts of the vineyard."
My God. If this doesn't describe another female Republican governor (who happens to be from a New England state) to a "T," I don't know what does.



Our feckless leader spoke earlier today regarding the upcoming problems in Louisiana and, among other things, assured his fellow citizens that he
will not be traveling to Louisiana tomorrow because I do not want my visit to impede in any way the response of our emergency personnel. [Is he actually admitting that his presence was an impediment in 2005?]

... the people of the Gulf Coast [have] made it through great challenges in the past and they're going to make it through this one, as well. In the meantime, all those preparing for this storm are in our thoughts and our prayers from me and Laura and our whole nation.
This sure does sound like the empty promises that were made to Louisianans three years ago—to say nothing of the comparable promises made to New Yorkers in 2001 and many others too numerous to count. (The people who'll soon be affected by drastic changes in their lives can't be altogether satisfied with the spiritual consolations that the Rev. Mr. Feckless is offering.)

If one thinks about it, though, this is working out pretty well for President AWOL (and that cognomen sure has a new meaning): Gorgeous George won't be in St. Paul to embarrass the Republicans, and he won't be in Louisiana to embarrass himself.

Question of the day


With the question of whether the Republicans will actually convene in St. Paul problematic, will she of the go-go boots become the VP candidate without a murmur?

That possible outcome could be a real problem for the McCainiacs.

UPDATE — Hilzoy has more.

Frank Rich again states the bloody obvious


In discussing Obama's Thursday night speech (which now seems to have been delivered quite a while ago, the Republicans may or may not be pleased to know), Frank Rich opines,
No major Obama speech — each breathlessly hyped in advance as do-or-die and as the “the most important of his career” — has been a disaster; most have been triples or home runs, if not grand slams. What is most surprising is how astonished the press still is at each Groundhog Day’s replay of the identical outcome. Indeed, the disconnect between the reality of this campaign and how it is perceived and presented by the mainstream media is now a major part of the year’s story. The press dysfunction is itself a window into the unstable dynamics of Election 2008.

Rhymes with witches


MoDo strikes again with a screed anent the governor of Alaska.

Since her act is a little old, Ms. Dowd is obviously glad to have the chance to attack some fresh meat.

UPDATE — When I first read MoDo's column, I truly thought she'd made up the oh-so-precious names of the Palin progeny. Alas, Mrs. Monocle points out that I was wrong.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The latest from MInnesota


Glenn Greenwald reports:
Last night, members of the St. Paul police department and the Ramsey County sheriff's department handcuffed, photographed and detained dozens of people meeting at a public venue to plan a demonstration, charging them with no crime other than "fire code violations," and early this morning, the Sheriff's department sent teams of officers into at least four Minneapolis area homes where suspected protesters were staying ...

[A] lawyer from the National Lawyer's Guild who was detained and put in handcuffs, explain[ed] that [one of] the surrounded house[s] is one where various journalists are staying. Additionally, a photojournalist with Democracy Now was detained at that house as well. So, both journalists and lawyers—in addition to protesters—have been detained and arrested even though not a single violent or criminal act has occurred.
If this is the type of democracy the Republicans want to export to Iraq, it's problematic as to how this is appreciably different from what was going on prior to March, 2003.

I've long felt that Republicans were envious of the Daley Show staged in Chicago in 1968. With this inauspicious start to the St. Paul convention, perhaps the brown shirts can show 'em how it's really done in another Midwestern city.

Senator Septuagenarian's Albatross


The more the blogosphere investigates the governor of Alaska, the more she looks to be a gargantuan liability to the aspirations of the PRERPREN. As Steve Benen points out, the
running mate [is] in the middle of an ethics scandal in which there's strong evidence that the governor told obvious untruths.
Of course, this scandalous background is par for the course for Republicans, and I may have been right the first time: that there really are no (scandal-plagued) Republicans left, and Senator Septuagenarian chose one who he mistakenly thought was squeaky clean (if only because she's had little chance to do anything untoward).

With the Republicans' national convention only days away, this could get quite interesting.

Doin' a heck of a job ...


Having visited New Orleans a year and a half ago and seeing that the city still had a long way to go to recover from Katrina, I can't imagine what another hit like Gustav might do to the city.

Of course, such meteorological chaos might be good news for the Republicans.

If it fits ...


For those who ask Mrs. Monocle consistently, "You drive a what?" here's a very positive review of her car from today's Courant.

Sarah Who??????, cont'd


I haven't seen anyone compare this episode to the attempt to put the execrable sycophant Harriet Miers on the SCOTUS (Pardon me. Now I have.), but this is certainly reminiscent, what with all the "best possible candidate" nonsense.

Joe Conason comments.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sarah Who??????



Either Senator Septuagenarian has completely lost it, or there really are no Republicans left. Of course, he might be trying to reach out to those who're upset that HRC isn't on the Democratic ticket. (See Steve Benen for an update on this notion.)

At any rate, with Alaska, and Palin herself, in the midst of some serious scandals, this is a pick that really astounds me.

And what do the McCainiacs do now about all those attacks on Obama regarding his lack of foreign policy experience?

Everybody's blogging on this (literally) incredible choice, but Alex Koppelman's post is as good a place as anywhere to start ruminating on this astonishing turn of events.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The most important speech of his life


If I had a nickel for every time I heard a media airhead solemnly intone today that Obama's speech tonight at INVESCO Field is TMISOHL, I would've been able to buy lunch.

The truth of the matter is that he'll be preaching to the choir, so no one will think poorly of him in that venue, and Rush and the other morons will think it's pablum no matter what he says.

It's obvious that the most important speech of Obama's life—including this evening—was delivered 49 months ago.

18 and out


I still can't believe that the NFL's current champions are the New York Giants. Perhaps I should be more accurate: I can't believe that the New England Patriots aren't the NFL's reigning champs. As a typical New England fan (I use the term to mean fans from New England), I'm pretty down on the Pats this year. I see that one "expert" ranks them the second-best team in the NFL, but I'll be surprised to see them in the Super Bowl this year. They're all getting a bit long in the tooth, and the Sisyphean season they had last year surely must've frustrated them. It certainly did me.

My concern—The bottom line


In a paragraph, Roger D. Hodge has pretty much encapsulated where the US is today, and why I fear so much for its future. The fact that more than 40% of the American populace apparently wants this hideous situation to continue is hardly reassuring.

The honorable Senator Septuagenarian


Read all about him here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The other party's upcoming choice


From Thomas Schaller at
The thought of a McCain-Lieberman ticket is nauseating. On the other hand, I can think of at least two upsides:

One, listening to Lieberman speak is about as pleasing as shaving with a cheese grater—those nasally, drawn out words; the heavy dollop of condescension; his terrible use of non-verbals. (On this last: Does he not have the phoniest fist-pump-in-the-air of any politician ever?) Lieberman speaking on Wednesday night of the Republican convention could damage McCain, especially if Joe goes Zell Miller.

Second, watching Lieberman lose again in a bid to become a heartbeat away—well, that would be delicious.

And they're off!


Apparently the Democratic National Convention began last evening. Like the Olympics, I can't get too excited about it, thinking that it's an exercise whose time has come and gone. (Or, as Kevin Drum says, "I've heard all (or most) of it before, I'm hyper-aware that it's all heavily staged and that every word is designed for a particular purpose, etc. etc. Because of this, to me personally, political speeches seem like specimens, not things that I myself have any genuine connection to.") At any rate, I find reading about it to be ever so much more entertaining than actually viewing it, and with every blogger and his uncle in Denver, there's no shortage of written reaction.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Hmmmm ...


Headline: Police probe possible plot to kill Obama; two arrested, one with sniper rifle

This is either just so much applesauce or will turn out to be the story of the Denver convention.

What was that definition of "sovereignty" again?


Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki toughened his language, reiterating earlier Iraqi demands for a fixed date for the withdrawal of American troops.
However, in their latest exhibition of nation changing, the Bushies will have none of it.
The Bush administration has consistently emphasized that the agreement — needed to legalize the presence of American forces after the United Nations mandate expires at the end of this year — is still in draft form.

“These discussions continue, as we have not yet finalized an agreement,” a White House spokesman, Tony Fratto, said ... “We’re optimistic that Iraq and the U.S. can reach a mutual agreement on flexible goals for U.S. troops to continue to return on success, based on conditions on the ground, and allow Iraqi forces to provide security for a sovereign Iraq.”
I'd love to be able to think that this is amusing, and indeed it would be if US troops weren't dying in vain while the Bushies draw a line in the sand.

Fratto's statement that all of this is being done to keep Iraq a sovereign nation is ironic in the extreme. It's very much like the Vietnam era rationale of "We had to destroy the village to save it." Here, it's we have to occupy the nation so that it can retain its sovereignty. I'm kind of missing the logic therein.

Joe Vengeance


Whew! Talk about a jeremiad. One can't get much more vitriolic than this.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

He's changed so much


Well, here's another change that sneaked up on me while I was in the Berkshires: Kevin Drum is no longer at Washington Monthly's blog, "Political Animal." He's moved to the Mother Jones site.

The heavy lifting at Political Animal is now being done by none other than the Carpetbagger himself, Steve Benen, whose latest post echoes what I said about the POW issue this morning.

Anyway, adjust your bookmarks.

UPDATE — Link to the right has been updated.

The other shoe


Obviously, the McCainiacs' negative pitch during the campaign will be the "Obama is (black) scum" mantra, but the positive pitch will center around the "He spent 5+ years in the Hanoi Hilton, so he must be presidential material" message.

Maureen Dowd sees this as already occurring, and Katie Couric recently got a taste of it as well.

Personally, I've always thought that Wesley Clark was right: that being a former POW doesn't ipso facto create a commander-in-chief. Nevertheless, since this is obviously Senator Septuagenarian's story, and he's sticking to it, we have this illogical and smarmy theme to look forward to for the next 2½ months.



Is this really an idea whose time has come?

Zài Jiàn (and good riddance)


While the closing ceremony at the Olympics will no doubt allude to the wonderful hosts the Chinese have been for the last two weeks, the world has seen just what a closed and, indeed, paranoiac society the nation is. It seems appropriate that the games end concomitant with an episode having to do with the imprisonment of American protesters.

Reporters Without Borders has condemned the Chinese for
police and their civilian auxiliaries repeatedly prevent[ing] journalists from covering demonstrations or investigating subjects which the government regards as sensitive.

"As we feared, the Beijing Olympic games have been a period conducive to arrests, convictions, censorship, surveillance and harassment of more than 100 journalists, bloggers and dissidents," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said.

"This repression will be remembered as one of the defining characteristics of the Beijing games. The International Olympic Committee will have to accept much of responsibility for this failure. We think it is vital that the IOC’s members should draw the necessary conclusions in their choice of a president to succeed Jacques Rogge when his term of office is up in a year’s time."
Australian reporters, too, have seen through the masquerade that China has unsuccessfully tried to foist upon the world.

Meanwhile, all the tough talkers can do is express their disappointment that "China had not used the Olympics 'to demonstrate greater tolerance and openness.'" Ho hum.

By God, the US won the most medals of any nation at the games, and that's what's really important, isn't it? The country certainly doesn't want to delve into any of the icky details of the games when it can shriek "U-S-A! U-S-A!" over the sounds of totalitarianism.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

(At least) Seven Houses


With all the hubbub surrounding Obama's choice of Joe Biden today as his running mate, the news regarding Senator Septuagenarian's memory lapse anent the number of houses he and his sugar mommy own has kind of been forgotten. My suspicion is that this situation will pass and that the Dems will be all over this. Indeed, Obama has already indicated
"If you don't know how many houses you have, then it's not surprising that you might think the economy is fundamentally strong," he said. "But if you're like me and you've got one house - or you were like the millions of people who are struggling right now to keep up with their mortgage so that they don't lose their home - you might have a different perspective."
But there's obviously more to the episode than just an economic element. Indeed, as Newsweek's Andrew Romano puts it,
[T]he most important aspect of "seven houses" episode--the reason it matters more than the $5 million mess--is subtextual. The key is that phrase "out-of-touch." While Obama and Co. are openly attributing McCain's "out-of-touchness" to his wealth, it's not hard to imagine the Republican nominee's inability to keep track of his real estate holdings will subconsciously strike some voters as having to do with another, more penetrating personal attribute: his age. After all, the implicit contrast here is not between the candidate's bank accounts; Obama himself raked in more than $4 million last year. It's between their grasp of seemingly obvious realities. When nearly four in ten voters say they're concerned that you're too old to be president, being seen as "out of touch" has the potential to do even more damage than it did to John Kerry in 2004. At 60, the windsurfing wonder with an heiress wife and and handful of homes was merely "rich." I suspect that voters don't (and won't) see McCain--a former POW who lived through years of excruciating torture--primarily as a man of privilege. But they already think he's old. And in case you're wondering whether Team Obama is aware of the "senility" connotation, look no further than today's insta-ad. It says "asked how many houses he has, McCain lost track. He couldn't remember." That's a bit more loaded than "McCain wasn't sure."
God knows I certainly think this is among the most important issues of the campaign, and I've got to think that the PRERPREN will exhibit more of this kind of "forgetting" as the campaign progresses. The debates, especially, could show a real contrast between the quick-witted Obama and the obviously slower Arizona senator.

Having said that, however, I remember too well the demented performance of the country's 40th president at the first presidential debate in 1984 and the fact that he still got elected by a landslide.

UPDATE — Steve Benen comments on the age issue.

The Latest Polls


View it and weep.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The parties that create protest zones


I find virtually everything about the Olympics abhorrent, the fact that the IOC tacitly sanctions situations like this probably most so.
Two Beijing women in their late 70s have been sentenced to a year of administrative detention after applying to protest in the Chinese capital's Olympic protest zones ... This month, they visited Beijing police five times to apply to hold a demonstration in one of the officially sanctioned protest areas established for the Olympic Games, but instead of being granted that right, on Aug. 17 they were ordered to serve one year of "reeducation-through-labor."
So, people can protest in Beijing—the protest zones are all set up for them—but only with permission, and if they ask for permission, they'll be sent to a labor camp.

I mention this because this is only one step away from what the Democrats have planned in Denver next week.

Senator Sanctimony


The Boston Globe this morning dovetails yesterday's announcement that Senator Sanctimony will speak at the Republicans' National Convention on September 1 with his "position of extraordinary power in the presidential campaign, simultaneously courted and detested by members of both political parties." His decision was no doubt made with the ideal of bipartisanship in mind.

My loathing of the man cannot be gauged.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008



It seems like every time I turn on CNN, Senator Septuagenarian has a microphone in his hand and is talking to some vacuous group about his plans to do who knows what. At any rate, the prize catch of yesterday was his tired speech to the VFW in—appropriately enough—Orlando wherein he opined that
he and Obama both want to bring home American troops from the Iraq war, but "the great difference is that I intend to win it first."
Needless to say, he didn't indicate how such a victory would come to pass, nor even what it would look like, but it got the inevitable applause from the airheads.

Meanwhile, in another example of meaningless assertions, the Russian expert, Condoleezza Rice continues to fulminate at the Russians, stating
that the "Russians are losing their credibility" and that Moscow will pay a price for its actions in Georgia. She declined to elaborate.
Someone sure looks like she's losing her credibility, but I'm not sure it's the Russians.

UPDATE — Every time I think I've heard it all, the Bushies do something even more incredible, viz., Condi's bizarre (her word) statement that "military power [is] not the way to deal in the 21st century." This, of course, from one of the leading apologists of one of the greatest military snafus the US has ever been involved in.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Pleasure Reading


Having the usual wonderful time in the Berkshires. While here, these Sunday columns by Frank Rich and MoDo caught my eye.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tell me what is wrong


I see that
Singer Jackson Browne is suing US Republican presidential candidate John McCain for using one of his songs without permission.
The song, "Running on Empty," includes the refrain:

Running on - running on empty
Running on - running blind
Running on - running into the sun
But I'm running behind

To be sure, this pretty much encapsulates Senator Septuagenarian's state of mind and campaign, but I'm still glad that Mr. Browne has called him on his unsanctioned use of it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

That clinches it


I am now absolutely convinced that Connecticut's junior senator suffers from chronic GM2-gangliosidosis.



I fell asleep with the Sox trailing, 16-14, but it sure was an—ahem—interesting ball game last evening.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Obama's VP announcement


Call me a Luddite, but, having just received a breathless e-mail from Obama campaign manager David Plouffe concerning the upcoming electronic VP announcement, I find the whole thing a bit bizarre.

Say it isn't so


Here's another example where, if one waits long enough, a study will come out to justify any kind of behavior:
The first national estimate of its kind bolsters the argument that you can be hefty but still healthy, or at least healthier than has been believed.
I don't care: Those tubbies still look like slobs.

More tough talk


Ho hum. The leader of the free world states that the Russian invasion of Georgia is "unacceptable." Of course, he has no plan—his standard modus operandi—as to what to do if Russia doesn't desist from its hideous action.

Meanwhile, the wingnuts are in heat over this, insisting that we bomb the bejesus out of Russia for this violation of democratic ideals within its borders. It's exactly this kind of situation that makes the possible election of one who's clearly off his rocker so disconcerting.

Monday, August 11, 2008



Apropos of nothing, here are two videos I like for entirely different reasons. The first is hilarious in a pathetic way, and the second is one of the coolest performances I've ever seen in a movie.

The Olympics


I make it a point every four years to try to avoid both watching any of the Olympics and paying any attention to the games.

A story like this is one reason why.

Too exotic


Now that Cokie Roberts is almost 65, it should be time for her to consider retirement. Certainly her recent comments about Barack Obama and Hawaii indicate she's losing it, but being the issue of Louisiana politicians, she's always been genetically suspect.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Say goodbye, John


Under the aegis of "it could've been worse:" At least he's not the PREDPREN. What a cock-up that would've created.

God, what a setback for the party and for the Edwards family.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Curiouser and Curiouser


Just back from a few rainy days at Cape Cod where the Massachusetts papers are filled with this story.

For those who like their stories strange but true, this can't miss.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Hey, look at this


No less a blogger than Alex Koppelman is using the cognomen I created for the junior senator from the Constitution State. (Not that Koppelman realizes it, of course.)

Cum hoc, ergo propter hoc


The latest Gallup Poll
show[s] Obama with 45 percent support; McCain at 44 percentage points. With the margin of error on the poll +/- 2 percentage points, the two are in a statistical dead heat.

Obama led McCain by nine points on July 26th, when he returned from his much-hyped overseas trip.
Needless to say, this is a discouraging development not least because we can now expect to see more hideous campaign commercials from the twisted minds of Senator Sanctimony and his lackeys. If, in fact, Obama lost his big lead immediately after last week's spate of racist ads, the Republicans will be sure to believe it came about as a result of those ads.

My depression regarding this apparent inevitability knows no bounds.

And, somewhat related to the above, I'm currently listening to Lewis Black's, memoir, Nothing's Sacred. I'm finding that many of the sentiments he expresses are quite similar to mine—and, I assume, to many still-liberal-and-proud-of-it Americans who grew up in the 1960s. At any rate, if one wants to see what makes me tick more than forty years after I graduated from high school, one could do worse than peruse Black's book.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Mighty mouse, cont'd


On an extremely slow news day, the Times can't help but editorialize about the exercise chemical noted below.

Saturday, August 02, 2008



Given that I believe in the complete and unrestricted access to information, I've been following the Olympic Internet debacle with a certain amount of interest. The situation may have been taken care of (with little thanks to the indolent IOC), but the resolution may only be temporary.

I'm shocked—shocked!—that the CCP reneged on its promise to allow free access to the Internet after being told in 2000 that it would have to allow such access in order to be awarded the games.

The Chinese technical oligarchs certainly haven't been averse to receiving information from any of a number of sources in the past.

Friday, August 01, 2008

This 'n' That


Gadding about the New York Times this morning ...

Re the NCLBA: The House is currently looking to reform said act, but the Times opines that the bill
looks very much like a stealth attempt to gut the national school accountability effort [since it] would permit the states to ignore the parts of the law that require them to pursue corrective actions at failing schools. That would encourage lassitude in states and districts that have already dragged their feet for too long. It would sap the energy of states that have shown clear progress since the law was passed and are eager to move forward. Once stopped, the reform effort could take years to get moving again.
Anyway, the Times notes that
Civil rights groups have begun a welcome attack on a House bill that would temporarily exempt the states from the all-important accountability requirements in the No Child Left Behind Act ... Recent events suggest that the civil rights establishment generally is ready to break with the teachers’ unions and take an independent stand on education reform.
I'm not sure the law is necessarily beneficial to minorities—seeing Hartford's and Bridgeport's high schools identified as deficient year after year doesn't seem helpful to me. Be that as it may, if civil rights organizations see the law as aiding their cause, I may have to reconsider my feelings on the subject.

Re the plutocracy:
Exxon Mobil reported the best quarterly profit ever for a corporation on Thursday, beating its own record ...

The company’s income for the second quarter rose 14 percent, to $11.68 billion, compared to the same period a year ago. That beat the previous record of $11.66 billion set by Exxon in the last three months of 2007.

Exxon’s profits were nearly $90,000 a minute over the quarter.
I don't think commentary is necessary on this rapacity.

Finally, the paper reports on a possible magic bullet couch potatoes have been longing for:
Researchers at the Salk Institute in San Diego reported that they had found two drugs that did wonders for the athletic endurance of couch potato mice. One drug, known as Aicar, increased the mice’s endurance on a treadmill by 44 percent after just four weeks of treatment ...

[The drug] tricks the muscles into thinking they have been working out furiously.
Working out by remote control: It's certainly a concept most Americans would love.