Archive for April, 2008

Snapshots of relevance, Part III

Apr 30, 2008 in Barack Obama, Election crap

Hating Newsweek’s cover this week, but the essay within demolishes the madness about “elitism,” both through historical examples of presidents past who served the people fine while having some aristocratic airs, namely FDR, and Obama’s own personal history:

He was raised by a single parent, his mother, who lived on food stamps for a time. He graduated from an Ivy League college—Columbia—but worked as a low-paid community organizer in Chicago. After Harvard Law, he turned down the high-pay, high-prestige jobs in corporate-law firms to work in a small civil-rights firm, mostly on voting-rights cases. He talks about his experiences helping the poor in the shadows of shuttered steel plants in Chicago. “Politics didn’t lead me to working folks,” he says, “working folks led me to politics.” His wife, Michelle, is more emphatic. “I am a product of a working-class background,” she says. “I am one of those folks who grew up in that struggle. That is the lens through which I see the world.” (A close read of her Princeton thesis suggests where her heart lay even after four years in the Ivy League: the paper is a paean to staying in touch with her black working-class roots.) “So,” Michelle recently told a high-school audience in Evansville, Ind., “when people talk about this elitist stuff, I say, ‘You couldn’t possibly know anything about me’.”

Obama’s chief campaign adviser, David Axelrod, bridles at the elitist charge: “In terms of his personal habits, this is a guy who is an ESPN sports fanatic, who plays basketball for relaxation. When he’s out and about, he’s more solicitous of the people around him, the people on the street and the kitchen workers and the police officers than almost any politician I have known. Anybody who advances the argument that he’s an elitist simply doesn’t know the guy. It’s generally the elite who advance the argument.”

Bingo.

-jb

The non-liberal media, part MCLVII

Apr 30, 2008 in Uncategorized

I know, I know, Keith Olbermann was allowed to express his opinions (unlike Phil Donahue who got canceled despite having excellent ratings) and thus MSNBC became the socialist flagship the Communist News Network could only dream of being…this can’t possibly be true:

It seems that Arianna Huffington has run up against the impenetrable wall that is Tim Russert’s ego. Huffington, who is currently on tour for her new book Right Is Wrong: How The Lunatic Fringe Hijacked America, Shredded The Constitution, and Made Us All Less Safe, will be appearing on CNN, ABC, and CBS. She had been booked on Morning Joe and Countdown with Keith Olbermann as well, but those bookings were suddenly and inexplicably cancelled.

NBC confirmed that Huffington wouldn’t be booked on any NBC-affiliated show to promote her book, but refused to explain why. Huffington’s people say that this is Tim Russert’s doing, that Russert is out for revenge because Huffington called him a “conventional wisdom zombie” in her book and devoted seven pages to faulting Russert for allowing his Meet the Press guests to go unchallenged (not to mention HuffPo’s RussertWatch).

Russert, one of the most obstinate fat cats of the Beltway, likes to dish it out (to Democrats) but sure can’t take it, can he? He is to question as he sees fit and not be questioned!

-jb

Snapshots of relevance, Part II

Apr 30, 2008 in Economy, Election crap

Who’s the fiscal conservative here?

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

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

By the numbers, Bill Clinton was one of the most fiscally conservative presidents of the last half century. Both Democratic candidates are more fiscally conservative and more responsible with taxpayer money, than John McCain, who is happy to add $5.7 trillion more to the national credit card.

Why? Because today’s GOP is George W. Bush’s GOP trying to sell themselves with Ronald Reagan’s soundbites. But the two no longer intersect. They have utterly embraced Bush/Cheney’s complete disregard for financial responsibility, and gleefully believe they are avoiding tax dollar waste as long as they can charge it off. Yes, it’s insane, stupid, and reckless, but so it goes when you have a cult of personality around a team of idiots and schemers, and a not-so-principled candidate irrevocably hitched to them.

-jb

UPDATE: It’s Bush, stupid!

43 percent of respondents are concerned about the 71-year-old John McCain’s close ties to George Bush.

36 percent have concerns about Clinton’s political opportunism, and 27 percent are concerned about Bill Clinton being back in the White House.

34 percent have problems with Obama’s “bitter” remarks and 32 percent give a damn about Jeremiah Wright.

McCain can’t disown Bush. That’s why he’s still getting beat by either Democrat in most match-ups. Democrats must unite soon and stand up against the past 8 years.

Snapshots of relevance, Part I

Apr 30, 2008 in Uncategorized

Bob Cesca:

If the corporate media had been as diligent about watchdogging President Bush as they have been about watchdogging Reverend Wright, it’s very likely we wouldn’t have invaded Iraq.

If the corporate media had spent as much time exposing the obvious flaws and grotesque inequalities of Reaganomics throughout the last 30 years as they’ve spent on Wright, we wouldn’t necessarily be staring into the maw of another depression.

If the corporate media were as diligent about debunking the lies surrounding Iran’s so-called nuclear program as they’ve been about Wright, there wouldn’t be such a sense of inevitability in terms of attacking — or entirely obliterating — Iran.

So what is the very serious corporate media, the only industry that is explicitly protected by the Constitution, doing to remedy their failures of the recent past? Rather than watchdogging the Bush administration and Senator McCain on Iraq, Iran, the economy and all the rest of it — areas in which Senator McCain is laughably wrong and dangerously inconsistent — what are we seeing instead?

All three major cable news networks are wasting valuable air time on Senator Obama’s former pastor. Why? Is the story newsworthy? Sure. Is wall-to-wall Wright coverage more important than Iraq or gas prices or the climate crisis? No way. But Reverend Wright is a scary, shouting black man and scary shouting black men equal ratings-sweet-ratings.

It’s not as if those in the media can possibly have avoided explanations of their fundamental dysfunction. Being functional simply isn’t their priority, and pontificating about “what people want to hear” without being challenged on it is cheaper and easier than being real journalists.

-jb

ANWR: The solution to all of our energy problems.

Apr 29, 2008 in Energy

In a not-no-stunning display of poor leadership, President Bush has once again recommended that drilling of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the solution to our current energy woes. Iowa Liberal has tackled this issue as have many others. At the very least, rational leadership would accept the simple fact that policies based upon keeping the cars running at all costs are doomed to failure as demand has simply exceeded supply with no possibility for reversal. Rational leadership would start looking at making other arrangements that aren’t completely dependent upon cheap and plentiful liquid hydrocarbons which are disappearing faster than even a pessimist like myself would have imagined. Politicians who lead people into believing that drilling ANWR is a solution are selling false hope.

-mg

Hmmm…Wright, Sharpton angry about fading from relevance?

Apr 29, 2008 in Uncategorized

Sullivan targets what has evidently soured Wright on Obama, and thus made it possible for Obama to sever their ties for good?

“I think that is part of Jeremiah Wright’s view of Obama as well (as Sharpton’s): he will never forgive him for winning so many white votes, and breaking the pattern and ideology of victimhood and marginalization that forged Wright’s identity.”

Out with the old, in with the new, in thought as well as deed. Obama was right not to throw Wright under the bus just because Clinton and the Republicans were freaked out by a few soundbites.

Funnily enough, virtually anybody who wasn’t a slobbering partisan hack or a Beltway zomboid could easily tell that Obama didn’t share Wright’s more flamboyant humdingers. Yet who foresaw Wright refusing to be preached to?

The student has become the master, and the master has refused to relent. Obama had already made the break from such old-school banter in forging his own philosophy, but as we saw, many whites recoiled at him even being associated with such a person.

I’m not sure I enjoy Sullivan’s tone entirely. When we live in a world where police stop filling unarmed black people with fifty bullets, more scorn can be heaped upon the Sharptons and the Wrights. They aren’t entirely wrong. Racism is still alive, and thumping along at a still unforgiveable pace in this country, and somebody should be pointing the finger. Blacks are victimized and marginalized still, and most of Obama’s opponents are all too happy to forget it. Listening to the rightwing radio yesterday, all I heard was the outrage that black people weren’t more thankful for how good they get it in this country. How could Obama sit in that pew and listen to an angry black man!?!?

Because a lot of black people are fucking angry, and they’re not wrong. Yet there are angry white people incensed that they even have to hear the thoughts of such blacks. Yeah, there’s something wrong there.

But if Sharpton, Wright, et al. can’t find leeway in their own outlook for somebody like Barack, who bridges the divide and looks for compromise, then he has no choice but to stand up to them as well. It might seem like he’ll end up with everybody against him at that rate, but no…

…oh no. In with the new.

-jb

Bill Moyers with Reverend Wright

Apr 29, 2008 in Culture, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Uncategorized

Parts two and three below the fold.

(more…)

My oil!

Apr 29, 2008 in Economy, Energy, Peak Oil, Uncategorized

Omigod!

As oil prices soared to record levels in recent years, basic economics suggested that consumption would fall and supplies would rise as producers drilled for more oil.

But as prices flirt with $120 a barrel, many energy experts are becoming worried that neither seems to be happening. Higher prices have done little to suppress global demand or attract new production, and the resulting mismatch has sent oil prices ever higher.

That has translated into more pain at the pump, with gasoline setting a fresh record of $3.60 a gallon nationwide on Monday. Experts expect prices above $4 a gallon this summer, and one analyst recently predicted that gasoline could reach $7 in the next four years.

No way!

In the United States and through much of the developed world, the higher fuel prices have led drivers to reduce their consumption, and gasoline demand is expected to drop this year. But that drop will be more than offset by the rise in energy demand from developing countries. In the next two decades, demand is projected to jump by 35 percent, and developing countries will consume more oil than industrialized countries.

C’mon, why they wanna do that? Only Americans really need cars!

The outlook for oil supplies “signals a period of unprecedented scarcity,” Jeff Rubin, an analyst at CIBC World Markets, said last week. Oil prices might exceed $200 a barrel by 2012, he said, a level that would very likely mean $7-a-gallon gasoline in the United States.

Some regions are simply running out of reserves. Norway’s production has slumped by 25 percent since its peak in 2001, and in Britain, output has dropped 43 percent in eight years. Production from the giant Prudhoe Bay field in Alaska has dropped by 65 percent from its peak two decades ago.

Shhh…teh oil is 4evah eff U don make teh oil angry witchoo!

“It’s a crunch,” said J. Robinson West, chairman of PFC Energy, an energy consulting firm in Washington. “The world is not running out of oil, but rather it’s running out of oil production capacity.”

That’s right, man, you go, dude! The world is NOT RUNNING OUT OF OIL! We’re just having a harder time figuring out how to get it, but the world is NOT RUNNING OUT OF OIL! If we could just drill some MORE, we’d be okay because THE OIL WILL ALWAYS BE THERE!

Lookee here, watch me with this calculator…if I decide that the world will need 15 million barrels a day from Saudi Arabia, I just multiply that by 100% and that’s what Saudi Arabia will be able to produce.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, is completing a $50 billion plan to increase capacity to 12.5 million barrels a day, but it signaled recently that it would not go beyond that. That means Saudi Arabia could fall short of the 15 million barrels a day that most experts had expected it to produce in the long run.

Not 100%? Who will give me 100% so my calculator will work right? OPEC give me 100%?

OPEC’s 13 members plan to spend $150 billion to expand their capacity by five million barrels a day by 2012. But OPEC will need to pump 60 million barrels a day by 2030, up from around 36 million barrels a day today, to meet the projected growth in demand. Analysts say that without Iran and Iraq — where nearly 30 years of wars and sanctions have crippled oil production — reaching that level will be impossible.

Fine, OPEC is retarded anyway. Somebody else give me 100% Maybe 1000%?

But the International Energy Agency estimates that current investments will be insufficient to replace declining oil production. The energy agency said it would take $5.4 trillion by 2030 to raise global output. Otherwise, it warned that a crisis before 2015 involving “an abrupt run-up in prices” could not be ruled out.

Pfft! Everybody is retarded.

-jb

p.s. If only there were some way we could spend about $400 billion to power the whole nation on solar by 2050

More wishful thinking on the liquid hydrocarbon front.

Apr 28, 2008 in Energy, Peak Oil

Those Brazilian oil fields that were supposed to stave off our collective day of reckoning have a lot in common with most of the other off-shore petroleum deposits that are supposed to allow us to keep commuting to work in Ford F350 extended cab pickups. They’re almost physically impossible to get to making them prohibitively expensive to exploit:

April 28 (Bloomberg) — Brazil’s plan to become one of the world’s biggest oil exporters hinges on exploiting crude 6 miles below the ocean surface in deposits so hot they can melt the metal used to carry uranium to nuclear plants.

Tapping what may be the biggest oil finds in the Western Hemisphere in three decades will require equipment that can withstand 18,000 pounds per square inch of pressure, enough to crush a pickup truck, pipes that can carry oil at temperatures above 500 degrees Fahrenheit (260 Celsius) and drill bits that can penetrate layers of salt more than one mile thick.

Much like the “Jack” discoveries made a few years ago, nobody is even venturing a guess as to how much each barrel of oil extracted would have to cost in order to make such a venture profitable. If you guessed “a helluva lot” then you’re probably close. Rest assured, though, that when we get to that point we’re going to have more to worry about than the cost of driving our Ford Expedition to the Denny’s buffet.

-mg

Obama on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.

Apr 27, 2008 in Barack Obama, Uncategorized

-mg

This isn’t an establishment clause issue.

Apr 27, 2008 in Clueless Conservatives, Religion, Uncategorized

Charles Grassley (R-IA) has a beef with churches that openly engage in political endorsements yet simultaneously enjoy tax exempt status. For his sins, Grassley gets tagged with the old, reliable, right-wing chestnut; the “elitist” label.

On Sunday Wead continued to press those same charges, arguing that “you cannot say there is not a legitimate scriptural rationale for these [Word of Faith] doctrines, they’re there in the Bible. If the Constitution allows freedom of religion, people who believe these doctrines and interpret them the way they choose to interpret them, have a right to believe that. And there shouldn’t be elitists who seize power in government to stop them from believing them. We’ve always had elitists like that who try to protect us dumb people, because we’re so dumb and we’re so stupid.” That’s a classic ruse used by the televangelists. They have long argued that, because Pentecostalism originated as a religious movement of the poor and uneducated, any criticism of its religious expression and worship style must stem from the disdain of mainline Protestants and evangelicals who engage in the theological equivalent of sipping lattes and driving Volvos.

Furthermore, this is not a case of the government dictating or imposing doctrine. It’s a situation involving a religious institution taking advantage of it’s special stature so that it can line the pockets of those who operate it which, of course, is nothing new in the strange realm of prosperity theology. But when a church starts endorsing candidates or political parties it needs to be prepared to answer some hard questions and at least be able to argue in favor of their status as a charitable organization without having to resort to Limbaugh-style rebuttals.

-mg

Race, age, income, blah blah blah…gonna drink me some moonshine til the primaries go away!

Apr 24, 2008 in Barack Obama, Clintonitis, Election crap, Politics, Racism

What’s really going on here? Andrew Sullivan says that we’re seeing a subtle weighing of the scales, where the old-timey dynamics come into play: White women trump black men in the pecking order.

I don’t believe that racism explains all of it at all. To my mind, the kind of tactics deployed against someone like Obama were deployed against Kerry and Gore and Clinton. Class and gender and age also weighed in the balance. And the fear of another Carter has motivated some. But the insane hysteria over Wright, the racist incidents in Pennsylvania that are only now being aired fully, the “Hussein” and “Muslim” memes, the sense of white entitlement that is so embedded in the Clintons that they don’t even fully see it: you have to be blind not to see the impact of race. Imagine if John Edwards had achieved what Obama has achieved. Imagine if he had won more delegates, votes and states than Clinton. Would Clinton have ever offered him the veep slot? Of course, race has affected this campaign, if only because the white entitlement that infuses the Clintons is invisible to most.

A reader of his pipes in:

The greatest dogwhistle of the Obama campaign so far is his ability to lay out this urgency to our generation. Viewed in this light, the only thing Obama has to tell me about yesterday’s election is that Pennsylanvia has the second oldest population in the country. After hearing that fact, I get it. He was never going to win.

A lot of statistical games are going on, but the striking differences between the voters over 40 versus the under-40 crowd encompasses a lot of subdivisions. Hillary isn’t just a woman, she’s a boomer, so she gets not only the older more racist voters, but the narcissistic boomers who can’t yet imagine they aren’t the center of the universe. In most states that hasn’t saved her, but it’s frequently created a demographic lump that won’t budge for Obama, and Pennsylvania was just one of them (Iowa, proudly, was not. When will the rest of the nation learn to listen to Iowans who aren’t named Steve King?) Had it been a Super Tuesday state, it would have gotten lost in the mix. Hillary’s had much bigger wins, and Obama’s had many more bigger wins. It’s a strange symptom of our news cycle that every new race is SO IMPORTANT because Hillary’s camp says it is. Is North Carolina important? Unlikely. And with Obama highly favored to win Indiana, Indiana isn’t so important either. Unless Hillary wins it, then it’s tha most important state EVAH!

I guess one could derive all sorts of lessons from Pennsylvania, it’s such a muddled mix…a 9.2 point lead, straddling the line between underwhelming win and double-digit victory…an interminable and stupid length of time until the next primary, when this one will be forgotten except that it gave Hillary license to keep torturing us with her slow loss, hoping somebody’ll just give her the nomination to shut her up…Obama’s need to step up his game fighting gossipy tabloidish junk that has nothing to do with the presidency…

…I mean, honestly. What is crap like Jeremiah Wright and whoever Obama shook hands with? Some image deal? And we’re listening to this after 8 years displaying to the world a President who’d be the loudmouthed guy at the end of the bar sloshed on Budweiser working at the chicken feed plant if it weren’t for his rich daddy? Apparently having a retard as President is okay, but we can’t tolerate one who doesn’t wear his flag pin because he thinks patriotism is something that deserves more than being worn on one’s sleeve!

America has from now until November to grow the hell up, consolidate support behind Obama and give him a nice 5-10 point lead over John McCain. While Republican hacktaculars like Sharon, Dana Pico, and Brian Pickrell are quaking in their boots (and let us not forget the Republican arm-wringing that went on before Bill Clinton won in 1992), in 2012 Barack Obama can run for re-election and we can simply say, “See? He didn’t enslave the white race!

In the meantime, I’m considering taking up a new hobby, preferably something that involves gin or vodka every night.

-jb

Another public service announcement.

Apr 24, 2008 in Uncategorized

Reminding you that George W. Bush and the GOP decided after 9/11 to lie about why we were attacked and have done so ever since.

This probably means we should stop trusting them with the keys to the car any longer, but reality is just so out-of-style nowadays.

-jb

PSA.

Apr 24, 2008 in Uncategorized

Due to a recent spate of link spam we will be holding comments with more than one link in moderation until the onslaught subsides.

-mg

Only an idiot couldn’t understand McCain!

Apr 24, 2008 in Uncategorized

Ah, how violated McCain has been, mean old Obama misconstruing his comments to suggest he wants to stay in Iraq 100 years…only an idiot or a misanthrope could misinterpret his very clear meaning!

Sharon, as vile as ever, clears it up!

I truly cannot believe that anyone with an I.Q. over 70 thinks that McCain’s comments meant he wanted to stay in Iraq till there were no Americans killed.

Well, here’s Real Clear Politics:

Conservatives have since shot back, claiming that McCain’s comments have been willfully misrepresented. They’re right. Senator McCain clearly said that the 100 year deployment was fine provided the U.S. was not taking casualties. He was not, pace Obama and Clinton, declaring his desire for a century of combat. He was clearly positioning America’s involvement in Iraq in the context of a country that had become a peaceful American ally. “We’ve been in Japan for 60 years. We’ve been in South Korea for 50 years or so,” McCain said at the time.

Erm, okay. It’s getting so…clear. McCain can’t possibly intend to stay in Iraq until there were no Americans getting killed, but if we magically got to a point where Americans weren’t getting killed, we could stay? So if Americans keep getting killed, at some point we will just pick up and leave? Argh, Sharon’s advanced thinking has confused my puny mind! Maybe she can tell us what she really means:

The truth is–you know, the truth you dislike so much–staying in Iraq is precisely what will be necessary until the Iraqi situation is stable. What is stable? I’d say a functioning government, equipped and trained military, and a general acceptance of democracy and reform. That may actually take 100 years, but, unlike you, I’m more concerned with leaving that section of the world better off than it has been in the past.

Oh, so Obama and everybody other sane person on the planet who isn’t a hacktacular Republican got it right: McCain and the GOP are perfectly willing to keep it up for 100 years, 10,000 years, a million years, UNTIL THE JOB IS DONE!

But that wasn’t what McCain was saying! Get it yet?

Man, those guys are having fun putting on a tough show while Hillary does her best to ruin Democrats’ chances in November, but they ain’t gonna be able to take the heat when things get fired up and Obama, leading the unified Democrats, makes the full-court press.

-jb

UPDATE: Sharon throws in the towel:

Here’s some advice for you. Go home. Read what McCain said. Use some common sense, say, look at history and the way America has dealt with its conflicts. Then come back and try to make more stupid arguments about McCain’s statements biting him on the ass.

Yeah, when your argument is, “Uh, look at history!” you should note the draft up your arse, because you aren’t wearing pants anymore.

Hillary Clinton, accept your grim fate.

Apr 23, 2008 in Barack Obama, Clintonitis, Election crap, Hillary Clinton

Delegate count from the PA primary:

Clinton: 52
Obama: 46

Total delegates for each so far:

Clinton: 1,556
Obama: 1,694

And it’s not just the delegate count that clearly spells Hillary’s fate. The popular vote tells the exact same story. It is to be expected that regardless of the margin, the Clinton camp will trumpet tonights win of Hillary’s home state as a devastating defeat. The cable news outlets will play along because the continuation of the Democratic Party candidate selection process affords them a few more weeks of lazy horse-race narration. But at what cost?

Mrs. Clinton did not get the big win in Pennsylvania that she needed to challenge the calculus of the Democratic race. It is true that Senator Barack Obama outspent her 2-to-1. But Mrs. Clinton and her advisers should mainly blame themselves, because, as the political operatives say, they went heavily negative and ended up squandering a good part of what was once a 20-point lead.

On the eve of this crucial primary, Mrs. Clinton became the first Democratic candidate to wave the bloody shirt of 9/11. A Clinton television ad — torn right from Karl Rove’s playbook — evoked the 1929 stock market crash, Pearl Harbor, the Cuban missile crisis, the cold war and the 9/11 attacks, complete with video of Osama bin Laden. “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen,” the narrator intoned.

The pattern has become all too familiar. Clinton is the presumed winner in the upcoming caucus/primary because of wide early margins amongst all demographics. The Obama campaign moves in, organizes, and the gap rapidly narrows leading to either a win or a close second despite the Clinton campaigns repeated willingness to immediately go negative. In contest after contest, Clinton has blown huge margins yet we’re supposed to believe that come November she will not repeat the same performance when facing John McCain? And after putting up with months of the type of abuse from his Democratic rival (the nature of which my eight-year-old niece would be ashamed of) we’re supposed to believe that a knock-kneed Obama, when facing a Republican slime-machine that the Clinton campaign has shown no hesitation in aping, will be too overcome by Rovian shock-and-awe to mount an effective campaign? We already know how the Republican Party is going to attack Obama because we’ve seen it from the Clinton campaign. Obama’s performance in handling Clinton’s slash-and-burn tactics should be more than enough evidence that he’s got what it takes to face a light-weight like John McCain head-on.

I do not want to see Hillary Clinton on television after the November elections explaining that regardless of the fact that she lost the delegate count and the popular vote she is still the best candidate (just like she is doing right now). I would much rather place my bets on a battle-hardened Obama candidacy with a track-record of effective campaigning and driven by a fierce work-ethic.

-mg

“This is going to be a two month war.”*

Apr 22, 2008 in Clueless Conservatives, Iraq

I watched this on C-Span when it was originally aired in 2005. It’s a televised debate between Daniel Ellsberg and William Kristol. The subject is Iraq. The intellectual divide between these two is even more obvious now than it was when I first saw it. In short, Kristol gets his ass handed to him in a high hat. Looking back, is there anything he was correct about?

-mg

*At around twenty-three minutes check out the look on Ellsberg’s face when Kristol makes this claim.

Race and gender issues in the ’08 election.

Apr 22, 2008 in Barack Obama, Clintonitis, Election crap, Racism, Women

These are some unlucky times.

It’s unlucky that after 232 years of white male presidents, a political party is forced to choose between a woman or a black man for their first presidential mold-breaking nominee. In a just world we would have had many female presidents and presidents of all races by now. This is not a just world, and our nation has been afflicted with irrational prejudices since before its inception that we have long struggled to shed. Could an atheist Asian-American woman run the country? Of course, to new heights even. Could she get elected? The odds are currently impossible.

Our current female candidate has gotten to her position largely on the coattails of her husband and shamelessly crass triangulating plastic politics. Our current black candidate rose to the top through powerful virtues few presidents have been lucky enough to possess, and has faced an onslaught of racially tinged attacks from every direction (amazingly, much of it from the campaign of the female candidate). It is progress that they are here, but as prevalent are the signs that we haven’t quite gotten “there” yet.

I feel that given the choice between a female candidate and a black male candidate, one must turn the question to their merits and leave the identity politics behind. Either one would be a historic president breaking a centuries-old pattern of injustice, paving the way for future candidates. Either one benefits the other’s cause, because our nation will now recognize that things need not remain the way they were. If we can elect a female president, then we can also elect a non-white one, and vice versa.

Sadly, this idea has not caught on. Some have simply gravitated to the candidate most like them, understandably since that’s what people do. However, some have chosen to take sides and argue that gender trumps race or vice versa. This conflict was avoidable, yet we did not swerve away. (more…)

Pastor Roger Byrd, you might be a jackass moron!

Apr 22, 2008 in Barack Obama

This is a shepherd of men?

The sign in front of a small church in a small town is causing a big controversy in Jonesville, S.C.

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?”

Byrd said that the message wasn’t meant to be racial or political.

“It’s simply to cause people to realize and to see what possibly could happen if we were to get someone in there that does not believe in Jesus Christ,” he said.

When asked if he believes that Barack Obama is Muslim, Byrd said, “I don’t know. See it asks a question: Are they brothers? In other words, is he Muslim ? I don’t know. He says he’s not. I hope he’s not. But I don’t know. And it’s just something to try to stir people’s minds. It was never intended to hurt feelings or to offend anybody.”

Or a depraved liar, take your pick. Today’s rightwingers have effectively blurred the lines between lying and stupidity so you can never quite pin them down. I mean, they say they’re not lying, they say they’re not stupid, but I don’t know! I hope they’re not. I’m not trying to hurt feelings or offend anybody, but I just don’t know! The stuff that comes out of their mouths isn’t true, and it’s incredibly stupid, but is that who they are? Or are they just ruthlessly cynical manipulators? For sure, the congregation supports the pastor:

Despite some criticism, Byrd says that the message will stay on the sign. He took the issue before his congregation Sunday night, and they decided unanimously to keep it.

One thing is for sure, this question is about as much of a mind-stirrer as, “Moon: Made of green cheese, hmmm?”

-jb

The future of war criminals in the US.

Apr 21, 2008 in Uncategorized

“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.”

And they’ll retire comfortably in the US. Well, Gonzalez is having a hard time finding employment, I hear, but somebody’ll look out for him as long as he remains a loyal stooge. It is to our shame that America will not only harbor, but probably continue heaping awards and honors upon these war criminals. We are better than such black-blooded scourges, and we should prove it and actually act that way. Such is impossible in any Republican administration, as every single Republican hack will gladly stain the flag by wrapping it around such men and turn the word “heroes” into Newspeak as they apply it to them. Medals of Honor for all! If only Dick Cheney could be king!

-jb

By Their Fruits Shall Ye Know Them

Apr 20, 2008 in Uncategorized

You know, for people who claim to dislike government control of free enterprise – for people, that is, who claim to be conservative – the Bush admin sure doesn’t seem to mind liberal usage of Soviet-style propaganda tactics. Any excuses about this (predictable ones: “it’s to counter the liberal media”; “there’s no law that says the government can’t do this”) are pathetic exercises in missing the point; if you approve of this stuff, there can be no question about it – there isn’t a conservative bone in your body. You’re all right with the government presenting op-ed as news, and, more importantly, with people who’ve never served telling decorated generals how to describe the situation on the ground when they talk to the press. You are, in short, a very hardline statist if you can tolerate this from your government.

I suspect that there are, however, many people who’re happy to be Soviets, just as long as they get to keep playing the my-side-vs.-your-side game as vociferously as their free armchair time will allow. To them I say: hail, comrades, well met
– brave men fought and died to prevent your preferred form of government from replacing American democracy, but I guess we lost that one, eh?

-TT

Nail on Head

Apr 19, 2008 in Uncategorized

It will fall on deaf ears, but it’s worth hearing anyway.

-TT

Strange Bedfellows

Apr 18, 2008 in Disappointing Dems

Man, I ain’t hatin’ or nothin’, but it’d be nice if either of the remaining Democratic candidates for President were as enlightened as a Ford appointee. You know? It’d just be nice, is all.

-TT

The political establishment finds unity in a time of danger.

Apr 18, 2008 in Barack Obama, Election crap

The battle lines are drawn, says Andrew Sullivan:

Last night (at the debate) was not Obama’s finest hour. But when you look back and see what he has already accomplished by the manner and content and care of his campaign, he is obviously on the right side. Key elements of the MSM establishment, the political establishment and the ideological right and cynical left know how big a threat he is to them. That’s why Hannity can join forces with Stephanopoulos and Clinton can channel Rove. Because in this issue, they are all on the same side.

They’ll call the candidate funded by the people elitist, they’ll portray the biracial man who tries to bring blacks and whites together as a Black Panther, they’ll call a champion of America’s greatness unpatriotic. They’ll do it because they think you’re stupid, not because they believe it. And then they’ll tell you Obama thinks you’re stupid.

The wagons are circling. Do we give up?

-jb

Not so fast!

Apr 16, 2008 in Britpop, Morrissey

Mozzer made it into TMZ (which is ten times better than Perez Hilton’s shabby site, IMO). And he didn’t go to STK.

-mg

How To Tell If You’re Too Partisan

Apr 16, 2008 in Uncategorized

Regular readers know that Thomas Tallis is not really fully on board the Obama Express. He will be happy to vote for Obama in the general, but he does not think that Obama represents some magnificent new unheard-of direction in politics or anything. He is just a better-than-average Democrat, is Thomas Tallis’s opinion. But that said: what the hell just happened on ABC? Both Stephanopolous and Gibson lobbed softballs at Clinton all night while holding Obama’s feet to the fire. It was shamelessly bad journalism, though I guess if you’re the kind of person who likes “great TV” then you might have dug it.

Thomas Tallis, he did not dig it. Thomas Tallis found himself wishing his preferred candidate, Hillary Clinton, would have thrown Obama a life preserver. Because the Jeremiah Wright stuff was bogus and she knew it; because the “elitist” stuff was bogus and she knew it; because it was clear that the narrative ABC News wanted to push was “Obama’s on the ropes,” and they were willing to stack the deck to get that narrative across.

However, Obama partisans would do well to note that HRC did not do the decent thing – the thing that our natural impulse to help our fellow traveler tells us to do: help a guy who’s under fire. No: seeing a guy who was down, she piled on. Whether you like it or not, that’s how you win votes – the ugly, dirty way. “Raising the tone” is a very nice idea indeed, but in a general election held in the broader arena of the wretched, worthless, profoundly undemocratic two-party system, it’s fatal. What we saw tonight is a tiny fraction of what lies in wait for Obama against McCain – conditions in which he will look neither fleet or foot nor sure of speech, but cornered, frustrated and flustered. And what we also saw is how HRC would cruise to victory if she were to get the nom nom nom; she has the killer instinct. You cannot survive in national politics without it.

None of this is going to matter much; neither ABC nor the Clinton campaign will be able to persuade the superdelegates to give them what at least one of them knows she wants. And Thomas Tallis, he still doesn’t think McCain could beat Thomas Tallis, let alone Obama, in the general. Nobody likes McCain. Even his supporters are depressed about him. But tonight’s debate was a peek into the summer and fall, when there will be a concentrated and largely successful attempt to strip Obama of the aura of invincibility. The first step toward countering this will be to back away from the high-minded rhetoric and get down in the dirt, which is the natural habitat of electoral politics in a two-party system.

-TT

That was easy!

Apr 15, 2008 in Culture

Question:

Are Ice Road Truckers and Ax Men as good as Deadliest Catch?

Answer:

No.

-mg

Brian Pickrell is still the stupidest man on the web.

Apr 15, 2008 in Clueless Conservatives, Iraq

It’s refreshing to note that some things never change. Sunshine, birds singing, the fine structure constant

On the other hand, some things never change, and they make you puke in your mouth. Case in point, Iowa’s village idiot, Brian Pickrell. After being caught red-handed lying and changing his blog’s name, and doing everything he can to keep dissenters off his site, he dares link to us again. Surprise, surprise, the material is so fucking stupid it burns like the trans-dimensional spiderwebs in Stephen King’s The Mist. Ace movie, btw, if you can get over the initial round of terrible special effects.

See, recently, main man Mike G put up a single sentence post noting that suicides among current and ex-military folks accounted for one-fifth of all suicides in 2005. The only comment was the title, “This is just awful.” Nothing else.

Cue Rightwing Detective Brian Pickrell, who uses his amazing skills of deduction to conclude that not many of the suicide victims were veterans of the current Iraq war/occupation. Why is that relevant? Because, “Now, if you read that (article) and thought, like the hippies did, that this is connected to the Iraq War, you’re wrong.”

Again, the original post said nothing about Iraq. You can see we’re dealing with a real rocket-scientist here.

But this is interesting:

One age group stood out. Veterans aged 20 through 24, those who have served during the war on terror. They had the highest suicide rate among all veterans, estimated between two and four times higher than civilians the same age. (The suicide rate for non-veterans is 8.3 per 100,000, while the rate for veterans was found to be between 22.9 and 31.9 per 100,000.)

No, Brian never bothered looking up how hard suicide was hitting Iraq veterans. Naw, he had to devolve into a rather ironic rant, featuring this genius line:

They care (about the troops) so much, you know, that they have to lie about them being depressed and suicidal.

Indeed. You know that feeling you get when you try to correct a kid’s math, and you say, “No, 12 minus 3 isn’t 8,” and they say, “Yes, it is!” looking at you like you’re stupid?

This is every day one attempts to deal with Brian Pickrell.

You have to waste time peeling back his misinformation, which is far worse than trying to teach somebody who simply doesn’t know. You have to reinforce obvious things most people know, things Brian-types have driven out of their heads, like how Vietnam veterans weren’t given such hot treatment either. The high suicide rates of ex-military give just as much cause for concern as current military. Real concern, not sucking Petraeus’ schlong, or giving the appropriate amount of lip service to the troops so Brian can feel brave about sending them off to get blown up for his fat fighting keyboardist ass. People who do care about those in the military presumably don’t want them descending into such misery they end their lives early, but Brian only sees a prime opportunity to make some stupid partisan point. Whatever happens to the soldiers after they come back ain’t his goddamn problem. With friends like him, soldiers don’t need enemies, but they’ll be guaranteed an endless supply, with nobody around to care if they do happen to make it back.

Brian Pickrell is still the stupidest man on the web. Not merely an idiot, he’s somebody convinced he’s equipped with knowledge, without any of the tools to gauge his limitations. And you know what Clint Eastwood said

-jb

In post-production for sure.

Apr 15, 2008 in Clueless Conservatives, Uncategorized

Who wants to hazard a guess as to when we see the first “Obama Is A Dirty Fucking Hippie” ad? Remember this classic from yester-year?

And I see that frequent commenter Dana is unsurprisingly happy to play alongside the very wealthy Hillary Clinton in trying to disingenuously exaggerate this “issue” into something it isn’t; an indictment of rural values along class lines.

-mg

Pennsylvania must get on teh listen ferrealzzzzyo

Apr 15, 2008 in Uncategorized

Securing the under-35 crowd…just in case.

-jb

Exercises in journalistic tunnel-vision.

Apr 14, 2008 in Uncategorized

Headline: Obama angers midwest voters with guns and religion remark

Now go read the article and see if you can find anything about what midwest voters think. You get one politician and references to a “media firestorm.”

I’m just trying to avoid telling myself, “Talk all you want, you know in fifty years you’re going to see the exact same shit.” Oh, yes, we can make a difference, bloggers! Cuz we’ve been hounding the press for several years now, and they keep pulling the same shenanigans or inventing new ways to be disingenuous and deceitful, but they’ll have to listen SOMEDAY!!! Real journalism is just around the corner, really. It has to be…aaaahrg!

The editors regret to inform you that JB was no longer able to continue writing this post due to massive cerebral hemorrhage coupled with complete coronary failure. He should be fine by evening.

More Please

Apr 14, 2008 in Uncategorized

Fantastic interview with Obama, largely on the subject of what the gay community* might expect from his administration. I’d love to be less cynical – I do believe that he means every word he says, mind – but if I know my Democrats (and I do!), the first constituency who’ll be asked to understand “the realities of politics in Washington,” etc., will be this one. Selling out special interests is usually a palate-cleanser before you get around to the serious business of selling out the base.

Still, my native cynicism isn’t what I’m posting about – I’m genuinely taken with Obama’s willingness to engage on this stuff; since it’s exactly the stuff religious conservatives like run through the noise machine, it’s brave of the dude to speak his mind. The votes he’ll gain by doing so don’t offset the flak he’ll take if the word “transgender” inspires the crazies for a news-cycle or two. I got a few well-chosen sayings of Jesus the Christ about removing the beam in your own eye before you try to remove the splinter from mine for such people – anybody needs chapter & verse knows where to find me!

*I know – LGBTQQ is where we’re at in terms of inclusive language now. And I’m down with that politically. I just have an allergy to substantive abbreviations once they start worming their way into sentences. Sue me: when push comes to shove, sentences are my first love.

-TT

Countdown to Verbosity

Apr 14, 2008 in Uncategorized

Joan Walsh with some interesting observations, and within hours of the piece going up, the open field of the comments thread blooms with fragrant Protest-Too-Much. (Thanks so much, ladies & gentlemen, I do metaphor consultations at a very reasonable rate, we’re in the Yellow Pages.) If I know my Obama supporters, they’ll be too hot with rage by the time they’ve finished the first page of the article to notice that Walsh isn’t the world’s biggest Clinton fan. Actual Clinton fans are few and far between, because there isn’t a whole lot to like about Clinton as a candidate. (What she’s like as a person really shouldn’t be of interest to smart voters – we elect politicians, not buddies – but that’s a very old problem with voting, the “that’s the person I like” fallacy.)

It has so far been pretty pointless to try talking about this stuff with Obama partisans, because they have the zeal of the convert, and the article addresses that. It’s hard to calm down when you’re certain you’re right, and that’s even valid to a point – nothing wrong with enthusiasm, and it sucks to have people tell you that your enthusiasm is turning them off; as adolescents learning to date in high school, we often learn this the hard way. Still, one tries as many approaches as possible, because it’s an important point, and the phenomenon Walsh is describing isn’t good for the left or the Democratic party. (Those of us who have always disliked the Democratic party and have exactly no hope of anybody suddenly turning it into a good thing therefore can’t help but feel a little glee about the whole matter. Sorry.) My guess with this is that the fall-back will be “there’s not any hard data, it’s just a ‘feeling’” attack – as if a person’s impressions weren’t valid, and as if support for any candidate didn’t eventually boil down to “based on what I hear from him, I get the feeling he’ll do a good job.” (The popular way of deploying this particular attack is to take it to the most extreme point imaginable – “so if it’s my ‘impression’ that Clinton has nine tails and breathes sulfuric acid, I guess that’s valid, ’cause it’s my impression, right? Hey, your rules!” – and yo, if you’re comfortable with that kind of reasoning, then enjoy your Santorum/Limbaugh 2012 candidacy: those dudes are real fond of that furthest-possible-permutation tactic.) Most of us do know the difference between a psychotic “impression” and what Walsh & others are talking about in this article, though, and have often experienced the phenomenon of having had our impressions confirmed.

Again, I know this is a pointless thing to raise. Obama supporters get so angry at the prospect of 1) not supporting Obama and 2) actually possibly supporting Clinton, with no matter how many expressed reservations, that they stop listening quickly. Still. A few things are worth noting.

1. Many on the left have been feminists for many, many years, and some of us were fortunate to have our political beginnings in the latter struggle for equality – in the workplace, in the home, in the House and Senate. The importance of a woman’s candidacy for us can’t really be overstated. (It ought to go without saying that we construe womanhood as rather more than biology, and really, it does go without saying, but when people get argumentative one of the first things they want to break out is this idea that women are nothing more than the sum of their body parts.) We would rather not have a woman candidate whom we kinda despise, as is the case with most feminists and Clinton; Clinton, like her husband, has specialized in selling out her base, and is no friend of the right to choose. I personally would by now be firmly in the Obama camp had Obama’s supporters been able to hold their venom in check. But they haven’t; when called on it, they blame it on Clinton, arguing that they’re only “fighting back,” which is what men often say when when they’re attacking women. (“Hey, some women are bitches!”) A little introspection – a little of the nuance in which Obama himself tends to specialize – would have converted a fair number of Clinton voters.

2. It would be really awesome if Obama’s base took the lead on this. Obama himself addressed it at least once, and some of his supporters will angrily point that out if cornered. But it’s always only in response; there’s an opportunity in this question for self-examination, and for leadership. Are you a Democrat? Had you given much thought to the state of gender relations, and the status of women in America, until the question threatened to cost Barack Obama a vote or two? Can you understand that the spectacle of men expressing rage and hatred toward a woman as part of their rallying behind a man is as big a turnoff as the thinly veiled racism of the Clinton campaign’s “elitist” charge this weekend, which reeks of “that guy doesn’t know his place”? (Arguing “lots of women hate her, too!” doesn’t really solve that problem, by the way.) Do you think you do well to discount the hunger of American feminists who have watched the entire free world get past the hurdle of being governed by women; do you do well to counter that with “well, there’s also race” – to discount the passion of a large segment on the left for gender equality at last?

These would be better faced as rhetorical questions than as possible “oh yeah? well check this out!” opportunities, but if I know my online political thought, well: I personally have said all I really have to say on this question. I know that we’re mainly dudes here on IL, and our acculturated tendency is to respond by countering. That isn’t really a productive method with this. Walsh’s article is an opportunity for reflection. Not exactly holding my breath, but: well! One tries.

-TT

Revealing?

Apr 14, 2008 in Economy, Housing Bubble, Uncategorized

Huh?

On March 31, Fannie Mae sent out new guidelines to lenders aimed at walkaways and other foreclosure situations. Fannie will prohibit foreclosed borrowers from getting another mortgage through it for five years, unless there are “documented extenuating circumstances.” In those cases, the prohibition is three years.

Even after five years, borrowers with foreclosures in their files will have to put at least 10 percent down and need minimum FICO credit scores of 680.

Call me a fiscally irresponsible and naive librul but I thought ten percent down was the default standard if you planned on buying property and had half a brain.

And to think I spent the last five years trying to pay down my debt!

I could have run up those credit cards and let inflation take care of the balances!

-mg

One of the most underrated bands of the 90′s.

Apr 12, 2008 in Music, We'll post whatever we goddamned want to

Sometimes a band kicks out a masterpiece and then dissolves into nothing. Marion’s This World & Body is one of those cases. It was painful to pick one song, but this is a fair sample (then go watch more of their videos or find the album!):

-jb

SHOCKING NEWS: Cheap outrage from Clinton, McCain, Norquist!

Apr 12, 2008 in Barack Obama, Clintonitis, Election crap, The senility of John McCain

You decide: Politicians displaying genuine outrage on behalf of the people (who are so kind to remain silent), or willing to say anything for political advantage?

This is about the sickness of our modern political culture and its inability to be intellectually honest. Neither Clinton, McCain, nor-Quist believe what they’re saying. Three intelligent Washington veterans? Please. They simply recognize Obama’s words as something that can be easily misconstrued, so they leap to be the loudest one to do so. Via said action, they reveal their own contempt for the intelligence of the electorate, trying to punish Obama for, once again, talking to the public like they’re adults. And, in another indefensible move that should surprise nobody at this point, Hillary Clinton is actually sending out e-mails with soundbites from Republicans attacking Obama.

Obama’s strength, however, is that he doesn’t easily play this game, and keeps sticking to the truth:

So I made this statement– so, here’s what rich. Senator Clinton says ‘No, I don’t think that people are bitter in Pennsylvania. You know, I think Barack’s being condescending.’ John McCain says, ‘Oh, how could he say that? How could he say people are bitter? You know, he’s obviously out of touch with people.’

“Out of touch? Out of touch? I mean, John McCain–it took him three tries to finally figure out that the home foreclosure crisis was a problem and to come up with a plan for it, and he’s saying I’m out of touch? Senator Clinton voted for a credit card-sponsored bankruptcy bill that made it harder for people to get out of debt after taking money from the financial services companies, and she says I’m out of touch? No, I’m in touch. I know exactly what’s going on. I know what’s going on in Pennsylvania. I know what’s going on in Indiana. I know what’s going on in Illinois. People are fed-up. They’re angry and they’re frustrated and they’re bitter. And they want to see a change in Washington and that’s why I’m running for President of the United States of America.”

Jack Cafferty, displaying his usual common sense, notes a hint of self-defensiveness in the motives of Clinton and McCain:

And what Barack Obama was suggesting is not that the people of Pennsylvania are to blame for any of it. It’s that the jerks in Washington, D.C., as represented by the ten years of the Bushes and the Clintons and the McCains who have lied to and misled these people for all of this time while they shipped the jobs over seas and signed phony trade deals like NAFTA are to blame for the deteriorating economic conditions among America’s middle class. I mean, I’m a college dropout and I can read the damn thing and figure it out.

This is the kind of rotten bullshit that does turn people bitter about D.C. And when threatened, it coordinates its own defense with stunning rapidity and collaboration. Trust Clinton, McCain, and co. on this and you’ll deserve the knife you find jutting out of your back.

-jb

UPDATE: This sounds to me like a more authentic reaction:

I’m a white guy. I live in upstate NY. I make like 18k a year right now. I can you right now that Obama has a lot of heads nodding along with him on this, and most of don’t belong to his elitist supporters, or the elitist bloggers who make up the A-list of the blogosphere.

What Obama said is unvarnished truth. Its a truth many of us have waited our lives to hear a real politician say. THAT is what has the media so rabid to try and cast these comments as some devil’s screed. They know damn well that people are more likely to agree with them than disagree, and they’re woring over time to make people dismiss them automatically without ever thinking on them. That isn’t going to happen. 20 years of this shit is too long already.

This is just awful.

Apr 11, 2008 in Uncategorized

Current and former military personnel accounted for about 20 percent of U.S. suicides in 2005, according to a government study.

-mg

Beltway gangrene of the face, neck, head and chest area…

Apr 10, 2008 in Journamalism, Uncategorized

What’s wrong with journalists in Washington?

-jb

The cornucopia of Michael Gerson’s idiocy never endeth.

Apr 10, 2008 in Iraq

Presidential elections in times of war come down to strong vs. weak. McCain is “strong” no matter what mistakes he makes because he wants to keep fighting forever, and he’s John McCain. Even when Obama wants to do something “strong,” which also has the benefit of being intelligent and practical, it’s not strong because he’s Barack Obama.

…Obama promises to personally negotiate with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Iran’s destabilizing support and training of Shiite militias. What might seem a bold strategic maneuver from a Nixon or Kissinger smacks of dangerous naivete from a fourth-year senator.

Yeah, that dangerous naivete which would have kept us from going into Iraq in the first place.

Of course, Gerson was a Bush speechwriter who remains firm that Bush was the right choice in ’04. Strong and stupid is always better than using any degree of intelligence in fighting or ending a war. What’s important is that you swear your dick (or vagina) is so big you can keep fighting the war forever, even though you’re sticking the bill on the national credit card while the armed forces crumble.

Otherwise, Michael Gerson, who will certainly pay no personal price for endless war, might not be able to nestle his soft cheeks into his satin pillow comfortably enough.

-jb

UPDATE: Heh…here’s Gerson:

Second, Obama advocates a specific timetable for the withdrawal of American combat troops to pressure the Iraqi government to take its responsibilities more seriously…But it seems increasingly unfair to denigrate the efforts of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government, which has moved forward on 12 of 18 benchmarks set by Congress and has recently engaged Shiite militias in a fight the United States has been demanding.

Here’s what Maliki thinks:

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki disagreed with Petraeus’ proposal to delay further U.S. troop withdrawals, citing the growing capabilities of Iraq’s own security forces.

Petraeus wants the U.S. to complete by the end of July the withdrawal of the 20,000 troops that were sent to Iraq last year, leaving about 140,000 in the country. Beyond that, the general proposed a 45-day evaluation period to be followed by an indefinite period of assessment before any further pullouts.

Al-Maliki, however, has said he disagrees with that decision.

The prime minister told Bush during a 20-minute telephone conversation on Wednesday that Iraqi security forces are capable of carrying out their duties and U.S. troops should be pulled out as the situation permits, according to a senior government adviser who sat in on the phone conversation.

Ah, but if we listen to the Iraqis when they tell us we’re free to go, we’re weak. Unless McCain does it, then it might be strong. But if it’s Obama, that shit is weak!

Of course, the Confederacy is dead, isn’t it?

Apr 09, 2008 in Iraq

It seems ridiculous, but maybe it’s a Freudian slip?

I can’t believe I am wasting 15 seconds of my life to type this, but having military bases in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina does not constitute a permanent occupation. Does RedState really believe that 140 years after the Civil War, American troops have a “peace time standing presence” in the American south?

What’s stopping violent revolt in the South? They’ve only been quelled because of an electoral voting block that has refused to give any non-Southern Democrat a chance, a block that non-Southern Republicans know to duly obey. Why? Because they’re still pissed about the Civil Rights Act of 1963. Because they’re still held in thrall of the Southern Baptist church. Because culture and elite profit always superseded the Constitution. What happens if they suddenly stop getting their way? At some point it must happen, and indeed since the advent of Howard Dean, Markos Moulitsas and the 50-state strategy, the red states have become increasingly purple. Could the failure of a political coup spanning 40+ years spur the radicalization of Confederate Flag-wearing secessionist elements?

Nah, but one thing’s for sure: There’s no defending McCain’s nitwit comments about spending 100-10,000 years in Iraq. Unless, of course, one actually does support staying over there that long, regardless of the levels of violence. Which pretty much is the position of the Republican base. Have we received a clarification telling us how many decades of violence would be the limit? Of course not. We can be in the exact same position 100 years from now, and John McCain’s rhetoric will remain just as applicable. “Honor, duty, it’ll be worse if we leave cuz I sez so, blah, blah, blah…” The Republican base is completely cool with it. They’re just pissed and scared because their actual position is untenable in the 2008 election. They have no choice but to lie desperately.

The implications of McCain’s comments just get worse every other way you look at it. If he believes an American army can ever occupy Iraq without sustaining casualties, then it’s further evidence of how little he really understands the dynamics of Iraq, and he’s just an old battle-horse who’s re-fighting Vietnam because he’s convinced that if maybe fifty-thousand more US troops and a few more million Indochinese were killed we would have “won.” And if one believes we could ever occupy Iraq as peacefully as we can have bases in South Korea or Germany, then, as TPM notes Rick Hertzberg saying in The New Yorker:

But what the context shows, I think, is that yanking that sound bite out of context isn’t really all that unfair. McCain’s wants to stay in Iraq until no more Americans are getting killed, no matter how long it takes and how many Americans get killed achieving that goal—that is, the goal of not getting any more Americans killed. And once that goal is achieved, we’ll stay.

And if the violence erupts again after another twenty years…back to square one. Unfortunately, “square one” suggests a “last” square, and there is none. McCain has no answer but an endlessly repeating loop, one that he won’t need to solve in his 4-8 years.

It took the country until around the time of “The Surge” to realize that George W. Bush had essentially given up on finding any way out of Iraq. Are we really going to elect a fresh (bit of a stretch applying this term to McCain) president who’s given up before setting foot in the Oval Office?

-jb

Macs blow.

Apr 09, 2008 in Uncategorized

Macs…they have few virus threats, few variations of hardware, yet 3 out of 4 that I encounter (and they’re everywhere I work…) have serious, debilitating problems. This one is uttering a high-pitched whine that threatens to induce hemorrhage in my cortex and randomly freezes every 1-30 minutes. I have a better blog post coming, but I’ll have to wait until I get to a PC to pull it off. BTW, my last PC, a box filled with cobbled-together parts, lasted me 6 years and still ran 90% of my programs while huffing along on Windows ME…

Yeah, Mac owners, I’ve heard about how wonderful it is for graphics applications…

And yet I know you’re an idiot if you don’t buy AppleCare for three years, and there’s no coincidence that it only lasts three years. I don’t buy Macs because I can’t afford to buy a new machine every 36 months. Using them for free is enough of a headache. Christ, my headache…

-jb

Problem? What problem?

Apr 09, 2008 in Uncategorized

Back when we were getting ready to invade Iraq in order to drive al-Qaeda out (though they weren’t actually there yet) and to locate and destroy weapons of mass destruction (which as it turned out were almost entirely imaginary), one of the more remarkable discoveries was that hawks cared a lot about the status of women in a free society. There was a fair amount of talk about how leftists were being dishonest, because women weren’t free in Iraq, and since the invasion/occupation/freedom-bringin’-mission was going to elevate Iraqi women, oughtn’t we support it on those grounds? This debate tactic is tired and old and fundamentally dishonest, but most leftists are too earnest not to fall for it; one rather hates to equate earnestness with stupidity, but, well. Anyhow.

Turns out Iraqi women had it better under Saddam than they do or will now that the country is…what? Freer? Better? Democratic? The other tired and old debate tactic neocons like to use when this comes up is to ask whether, if we support multiculturalism and self-determination for cultures not our own, we oughtn’t leave it up to individual countries to determine the state of gender relations in their own countries. The problem with this particular tired and old tactic is that, while it’s generally deployed in a dishonest spirit of shifting the debate, it’s also a fair question: which cultural behaviors, if any, are ours to call good or bad? It’s a hard discussion to have, especially since so many wingers go straight for the Ron Santorum angle as soon as we ask whether our own standards of right and wrong might be, well, specific to us and not universal: “relativism,” they like to say, Tourette’s-style, accusing the speaker of giving blanket permission to all behaviors and insisting that that’s the logical progression of any position other than “my way or the highway.”

As is the case with so many internet-age right-wing debate tactics, this one’s been effective. If you can bait your respondent into answering questions that don’t really pertain all day, you can table his questions permanently. And while we’re fruitlessly trying to point out that letting consenting adults marry whoever they want isn’t really conflatable with allowing people to just do anything they like no matter who it hurts, women in Iraq now stand rather at the mercy of the local militias who govern not only with our permission, but with our help, and via the generous aid of our tax dollars. Which is something to remind your Republican-voting friends when they complain that their own taxes are being spent in the service of “an agenda.”

-TT

The untimely departure of Mark Penn.

Apr 08, 2008 in Barack Obama, Clintonitis, Election crap

Virtually anybody who considers themselves at least a mild political junkie has noted the shenanigans of the vile chief strategist for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Mark Penn. A man covered in sores and pustules filled with the pus of Beltway poison, he is a walking epitaph on the tomb of humanity in America’s public sphere. He was even hated within the Clinton camp of grade-A phonies like Harold Ickes, despite being entirely akin to them in authenticity, if kicked up a notch. Nevertheless, being chief strategist his tenure outlasted any sensible measure of accountability:

He should have been fired after Super Tuesday, and fired after the 11 contests that followed. He should have been fired before Texas and Ohio, and fired twice after. Instead, he wasn’t fired until April 6th, two weeks before the Pennsylvania primary, when no change in strategy could possibly change the outcome.

Incompetence and cronyism leading to catastrophic failure…wow, after eight years of George W., Hillary is offering a breath of fresh air, isn’t she? I’m relieved to note that the Obama campaign is pointing out the logical conclusion here:

In the days and weeks ahead, the Barack Obama campaign is going to pose a simple question to the undecided voters and undeclared superdelegates who will decide the Democratic nomination for president: If Hillary Clinton can’t run a good primary campaign, how is she ever going to run a good campaign against the Republicans?

And while she says she is ready from Day One to be president, she is at something like Day 430 into being a presidential candidate and her campaign seems to be going from bad to worse to train wreck.

Is this a coincidence that Hillary is displaying some of Bush’s worst qualities, blundering forward at the urging of a tight circle of yes-men despite all sense or consequence? Of course, not. A clumsy triangulator, she has too long admired and envied the election victories of Bush and the GOP over the years, and has internalized the forces that Democrats should be opposing. It is no surprise that we see her here after grabbing onto flag-burning amendments, voting for the Iraq War, voting to rattle sabers against Iran and possibly enable further misguided adventures, applauding the surge, adopting W.’s policy on negotiating with enemies, sucking up lobbyist money, etc. Mangling Bill’s (former) political deftness, she has simply surrendered so often to Republicans that she has lost perspective of where the line is drawn. She has come to believe that Karl Rove style campaigning mixed with DLC corporatism is what can save the Democrats against the Republicans in November, but it is what threatens to destroy the party for another generation.

It is tempting to dream that Hillary might have been able to offer us something nobler had Penn been squeezed out months ago, but this is precisely what she has proven herself capable of here. No one else is to blame. And no free pass should be given for hiring such an individual up front. We should be able to expect better from such an experienced, battle-tested and vetted candidate, shouldn’t we? Or should we realize we’ve been getting snake oil poured down our throats the entire time?

-jb

UPDATE: A demotion rather than a departure. Just too much accountability to expect from the Clinton campaign, it seems.

24 Hour Party People.

Apr 07, 2008 in Uncategorized

Arguably one of the best pop songs ever.

-mg

Perspective.

Apr 07, 2008 in Economy, Housing Bubble

This NYT map puts things into perspective.

Though it may seem a bit abstract we should realize foreclosure to be the disintegration of abstract “wealth”. If a security is purchased under the assumption that it represents the benefit of future dividends then it has value. If that security loses market value (the amount someone is willing to pay for it) then all that hallucinated “wealth” evaporates and our economy shrinks.

-mg

The netroots sees what I see.

Apr 03, 2008 in Clintonitis

While the degree to which Democratic voters have excused Hillary’s morally bankrupt campaign has depressed me, it is rewarding to see that her unscrupulousness has essentially backfired, the race all but lost. Kos of Daily Kos sees the lack of principle and, as any liberal, progressive or libertarian socialist ought to, finds no good words for it.

Clinton’s campaign has one premise — victory at all costs. If that requires sundering the Democratic Party, so be it. She doesn’t care. Therefore, there is no logic that applies. The popular vote only matters if it favors her. The pledged delegate lead only matters if it favors her. Michigan and Florida only matter if it favors her. States only matters if they vote for her. Groups and communities in this country only matters if they supports her. Super delegates only matter if they cast their lot with her.

Clinton personifies the worst of the “with us, or against us”-type thinking that has gotten us in trouble with the rest of the world.

So we have a campaign that is losing by every metric imaginable. And now that campaign says that it doesn’t care if she’s losing by every metric imaginable. Her campaign will carry on regardless.

No one can say that Clinton doesn’t play to win. In some circumstances, that is admirable.

The only problem is that she already lost. At this point, this is just pathetic.

Notice the integration of Hillary’s fundamental surrender to Bush-style thinking into an explanation of her folly. Like Bush, there is no core there, just a faint spark of the original sense that she was here to “help people.” Unfortunately, she fell into the trap of thinking that whatever was good for her was good for the people. Neither objective has been satisfied, nor could they be through her solitary and extremely unlikely path to the nomination, Obama’s complete destruction. Hillary has brought this entirely upon herself, and no amount of whining in the world will change that.

-jb

Why buy the cow?

Apr 01, 2008 in Clueless Conservatives

No doubt most of you have read the news that the Department of Defense considered putting  pro-war bloggers on the payroll as hired propagandists.  But why would you pay the 101st Fighting Keyboarders to do something they’re already eager to do for free?

-mg

Get out your checkbooks.

Apr 01, 2008 in Economy, Housing Bubble

The Treasury announced that they (we) will be picking up the tab for any losses incurred by the Bear Stearns deal.

-mg

The mind of a Hillary Clinton supporter.

Apr 01, 2008 in Clintonitis, Election crap

From a letter to the editor in The Washington Post:

James Carville can be obnoxious on some issues, but with regard to Bill Richardson, he was right on the mark. If there really was a Judas 2,000 years ago, he could not have outdone Mr. Richardson. I previously had the highest regard for him, but he has become a world-class traitor. I would be furious if he were my state’s governor.

Bill Richardson, in supporting Barack Obama, outdid Judas, who turned in Jesus to be executed. Makes sense.

Meanwhile, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy [front page, March 29] should refrain from calls to anoint Sen. Barack Obama as the party’s savior and let those at the Democratic convention decide, if necessary, who will be the nominee.

Barack Obama wins by the number of states, delegates, and the popular vote. Hillary could only win by superdelegates going against that and choosing her. Naturally, Barack could only claim the nomination by anointment.

a·noint (-noint)
tr.v. a·noint·ed, a·noint·ing, a·noints
1. To apply oil, ointment, or a similar substance to.
2. To put oil on during a religious ceremony as a sign of sanctification or consecration.
3. To choose by or as if by divine intervention.

Oh, and Senator Leahy shouldn’t express his opinion, because this prevents those at the Democratic convention from deciding things. Well, maybe not directly, but just think, if he speaks, he may risk influencing the opinions of others! I can only wonder if the reader agrees that Nancy Pelosi shouldn’t be expressing her opinions either, as free speech can also influence other people to develop similar opinions.

My faith in Democratic voters dies a little bit every day this madness persists. One could call this letter the work of one lone freak, but please tell me, how is this substantially different from anything coming from the Clinton camp these days? Complete gibberish with one thematic consistency: Hillary rulez, shut up!!! Is it any stupider than Carville’s comments, or anything Harold Ickes says?

-jb

Counting the days until America gets it.

Apr 01, 2008 in Economy

As Mike said to me when I got drunk on Scotch for the first and last time (on Scotch, that is…) at the tender age of 19, “You puked all over the bathroom. You clean it up!” America is just starting to wake up and feel the crushing hangover, but the temptation to return to sleep still calls…

It’s no secret anymore that the consumer binge of the last eight years wasn’t done via increased income for most Americans, it was all done with the hot checks of easy credit. Why pay taxable interest on a loan for that fifty grand SUV when you can borrow on your house? Why just replace the countertops and the floor when you can take out a loan for seventy-five grand and gut the whole damn thing? Why just take an ordinary mortgage when you can get a couple of piggyback loans, knock the thing down, and build a big ugly box out of particle board and vinyl that extends to within 8′ of the property line and blocks the sun from your neighbor’s house but has a bigass chandelier overhanging the “bridal staircase”?

When I was a kid, my parents used to talk about the dream of going from a $25,000 house to a $30,000 house, the latter of which maybe had an extra bath and a pool in the backyard. They knew that such things were probably just a dream, out of financial range for people like them. People like my family drove Dodge Darts and Ford Falcons, while only rich people drove Cadillacs and Mercedes and BMWs.

Then the 1980′s came along, and people watched Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous on television and got this idea in their heads that they could have everything that rich people had, even if they had to go into hock up to their eyeballs to get it. You could drive a luxury car by leasing it. You could have that extra bathroom by taking out an equity loan. You could have the trappings of the rich — the bigass entry foyer with the chandelier, and the luxury cars and the multiple garages and the vacations in St. Barths — and the fact that the rich could buy this stuff out of ready cash while ordinary Americans had to go into hock to do it never occurred to people.

And so the debt culture was born. Creative forms of debt allowed ordinary Americans to kid themselves that they were gaining entry into “the club” — and now they too could look down on the poor and the “welfare queens”, because those above them on the economic ladder were opening the doors and saying, “Come on in! The free lobster buffet is straight ahead on the right.” Except that there was no free lobster buffet, and the debt culture was designed not to enrich the lives of the middle class, but to anesthetize it to what was really going on — a massive transfer of real wealth to the richest Americans, hidden by the debt being made available to the middle class.

And now the bills are coming due and Americans are only now realizing that the free lobster buffet is off limits to them. But instead of blaming the people who made the debt available and helped them get in over their heads, they’re still pointing their fingers down the economic ladder and preparing to elect another Republican president who will continue to screw them over seven ways to Sunday until there’s no more blood that can be wrung from the dry stone that used to be middle class life in America.

Another Republican president…who is also a doddering fool on economic issues. Self-admitted, nonetheless.

What do you do when you wake up from a hangover? If you’re the kind of person who tries to cure it by reaching for the booze again, then by all means, vote for McCain in November!

-jb