Saturday, April 12, 2008

Obama Comes Back Fighting


Yesterday a reporter released audiotape of remarks by Barack Obama at a fundraiser in California in which he said

"But the truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there's not evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

Both McCain and Hillary Clinton jumped on Obama. McCain said the remarks showed Obama was "out of touch" with American voters. Clinton said he was being condescending.

Here's how Obama responded. (Sorry for the terrible audio; I've included the transcript below.)

“When I go around and I talk to people there is frustration and there is anger and there is bitterness. And what’s worse is when people are expressing their anger then politicians try to say what are you angry about? This just happened – I want to make a point here today.

“I was in San Francisco talking to a group at a fundraiser and somebody asked how’re you going to get votes in Pennsylvania? What’s going on there? We hear that’s its hard for some working class people to get behind your campaign. I said, “Well look, they’re frustrated and for good reason. Because for the last 25 years they’ve seen jobs shipped overseas. They’ve seen their economies collapse. They have lost their jobs. They have lost their pensions. They have lost their healthcare.

“And for 25, 30 years Democrats and Republicans have come before them and said we’re going to make your community better. We’re going to make it right and nothing ever happens. And of course they’re bitter. Of course they’re frustrated. You would be too. In fact many of you are. Because the same thing has happened here in Indiana. The same thing happened across the border in Decatur. The same thing has happened all across the country. Nobody is looking out for you. Nobody is thinking about you. And so people end up- they don’t vote on economic issues because they don’t expect anybody’s going to help them. So people end up, you know, voting on issues like guns, and are they going to have the right to bear arms. They vote on issues like gay marriage. And they take refuge in their faith and their community and their families and things they can count on. But they don’t believe they can count on Washington. 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.”

While his initial statement was inartfully phrased, that's going to happen to everyone who spends 18 hours a day talking. (Only a Democrat would be attacked this way. McCain has confused Sunni and Shia repeatedly in the past few weeks, with barely a mention in the media.) I'm happy to see Obama fighting back and fighting back immediately. I remember 2004 when the Republicans would throw out some ridiculous argument against Kerry, and it would sit there, being repeated over and over and over in the media, for hours and then days, before the Kerry campaign, lumbering like a battleship changing course, finally deigned to answer the charge. And they were always too late to stop the bleeding.

When is Hillary Clinton going to stop campaigning against Obama and start campaigning against McCain? This is why I wish she'd drop out of the race. Democrats always relish in beating up each other. Beating the Republicans is my goal here.

Friday, April 11, 2008

McCain Flips His Housing Stance

March 26, 2008: McCain warns against hasty mortgage bailout

April 11, 2008: McCain reverses himself on mortgage position

These two headlines from the International Herald Tribune tell most of the story. The rest of the story is that McCain's mortgage bailout plan is all smoke and mirrors. His plan is limited to those he calls "deserving homeowners"; almost all of whom are already covered by the existing federal program:

So to be clear, McCain thinks that millions of Americans are going to lose their homes, and all but a few hundred thousand are just getting what they deserve. Specifically, he's prepared to step forward and help only those who:

-Took out a subprime loan after 2005

-Can prove they were "creditworthy" at the time

-Are unable to pay that subprime loan

-But could pay a 30-year fixed rate loan

Of course, pretty much all those folks already qualify for assistance under the existing FHASecure program.

So it's like a double backflip with extra difficulty. McCain is maneuvering by changing his position entirely on the surface -- without changing his position at all, in reality.

That's John McCain McSame McBush, who'd also be happy to see American troops in Iraq for the next 100 years. Your Republican party candidate to replace the Master of Disaster, George W. Clusterfuck, the man McCain has supported wholeheartedly for the past 8 years.

Around the Blogroll

flickr: SI Neg. 92-96. Date: 1992...Snake motif pottery. ..Credit: Laurie Minor-Penland (Smithsonian Institution)

A few matters I've been meaning to write about:

(1) I've been looking at pottery on the internet lots lately, and found a great post on Emily Murphy's Pottery Blog listing 63 blogs that she reads. 63! Eventually I need to add a category of pottery blogs to my blogroll, but not today as taxes loom.

(2) Alas, the best women's soccer blog, USA Women's Soccer, is no more. That's good news for the blogger, however, as she's been hired by the new Women's Professional Soccer League and will be maintaining the WPS website.

(3) Don to Earth is back! Still not updating a lot, but I love the world's oldest blogger's take.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Go Directly to the Dock at the Hague

ABC reports that war criminals Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, George Tenet and John Ashcroft discussed and approved of specific methods of torturing prisoners during meetings in the White House situation room. And though the reporters do not mention him, I have no doubt that the Master of Disaster himself, the psychopath-in-chief George W. Clusterfuck was right in there with them, gleefully discussing violating the most fundamental of human rights, the right not to be tortured.

Under the rules of their own religions, they will certainly go to hell. Before, that, I hope most sincerely that they are taken to the Hague in shackles and paraded in front of the world as the monstrosities that they are. I think the fact that each of these church-going hypocrites approved of torture proves that there is no God, for if there was a God, surely she would have struck each of them down by now.

ABCNews: Top Bush Advisors Approved 'Enhanced Interrogation'
Detailed Discussions Were Held About Techniques to Use on al Qaeda Suspects

ABC cited a top official as saying that Ashcroft asked aloud after one meeting: "Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly."

Reuters: Top Bush aides approved interrogation tactics: report

"Highly placed sources said a handful of top advisers signed off on how the CIA would interrogate top al Qaeda suspects -- whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding," ABC reported.

In addition to Rice, the principals at the time included Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft, the report said.

The Sisyphean War in Iraq

Q: How do you get to 100 years in Iraq?

A: Six months at a time.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

We Love Lists

#1: "Dead Parrot", Monty Python, 1969 The 50 Greatest Comedy Sketches of All Time

hat tip to BoingBoing

#12: "The Racial Draft" Chappelle's Show

If Woody Allen's monologue qualified as a sketch, I'd add "The Moose" (1965) to the list. The Berkowitzes! The moose is furious!

McCain Still Delusional About Iraq

Remember McCain's "stroll" through a Baghdad market? When he dared to say it was safe to go to the market, when he went there with 100 armed men and 5 combat helicopters?

He's still nuts. He gave a speech on Iraq yesterday extolling the progress of the surge.

Coverage of the speech was interrupted by news reports of bombings of the Green Zone in Baghdad.

Keith Olbermann parses the speech & McCain's delusions:

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Obama Has All The Best Videos

Obama's Everywhere:

The Real John McCain

A nasty, cruel man.

Two examples:


In 1998, at a Republican Party fundraiser, McCain told this joke:

"Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly?
Because her father is Janet Reno."

At the time, Chelsea Clinton was 13 years old.


Reported in Cliff Schecter's new book, The Real McCain (via firedoglake):

In his 1992 Senate bid, McCain was joined on the campaign trail by his wife, Cindy, as well as campaign aide Doug Cole and consultant Wes Gullett. At one point, Cindy playfully twirled McCain's hair and said, "You're getting a little thin up there." McCain's face reddened, and he responded, "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt." McCain's excuse was that it had been a long day.

And those are things he felt comfortable saying in public.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Bush Finally Wins Something

History News Network: HNN Poll: 61% of Historians Rate the Bush Presidency Worst

Women's Final Set

NYTimes: Candice Wiggins (11), the ebullient guard who was named national player of the year by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, delivered 25 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists for Stanford.
Photo: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Stanford will play Tennessee for the national championship on Tuesday night. Ice v. Ace, that is, Candice Wiggins of Stanford, the Wade Trophy player of the year winner, v. Candace Parker of Tennessee, AP Player of the Year. And for the fourth year in a row, both coaches in the final are women. No male coach has gotten his team into the final since Geno did it last with Taurasi in 2004. (This isn't an issue in the men's game as men's basketball is still segregated by gender on the coaching side.)

Stanford did a great job on Connecticut (box score), in an exciting and watchable semi last night. (Except for the ever-annoying announcers, the self-important Doris Roberts and half-dead Mike Patrick. Anyone else, please, ESPN.) Connecticut didn't get much from its frontcourt (Hunter 0, McClaren 2, Charles 9, Houston 10) and that was that. Stanford played an outstanding game, got assists on over 75% of its baskets (28 baskets, 20 assists), outrebounded Connecticut 43-37, and shot lights out down the stretch. Wiggins had 25 points and 13 rebounds from the guard position.

The second game was a dreary affair of missed shots and free throws (box score). The end was exciting, but a great final 10 seconds didn't make up for the tediousness of the whole game. The leading scorers were Parker for Tennessee (who shot 6 for 27 from the floor) and Fowles for LSU (a blistering 10 for 24). Ugly.

I'll be rooting for Stanford to knock Tennessee off its perch as national champions.

Harvey Araton, NYTImes: At Peace With Memory of Father’s Fall

Harvey Araton, NYTimes: The Top 10 Reasons to Cover the Women’s Final Four

Baby Heads

Reuters: Visitors look at a sculpture by Spanish artist Antonio Lopez Garcia in front of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts April 1, 2008, ahead of an exhibition of the artist's work that opens April13. Titled "Day and Night", the bronze sculptures of two babies' heads are modeled after the artist's grandchildren and weigh 1.65 tons each.

Boston Globe: A slow, steady hand
A methodical Spanish painter has his first major US show at the MFA

The Media's False Narrative on McCain

Two peas in the media pod

Glenn Greenwald, HuffPo: Great American Hypocrites: McCain's Old Packaging

An excerpt from Greenwald's new book, Great American Hypocrites: Toppling the Myths of Republican Politics. Think about this when you hear the media say, reflexively, the buzzwords they have adopted to help brand McCain: maverick, iconoclast, foreign policy credentials, convictions, truthteller, etc.

The press's veneration of McCain as "a different type of Republican" has echoes of how George Bush was built into an iconic hero. In 2000, we were inundated with claims that Bush was a departure from the hard-core, Gingrichian right-wing Republican. Bush was no mere conservative, but a "compassionate conservative," someone who, exactly like McCain, combined the most admirable virtues of the conservative man with a streak of idiosyncratic independence that rendered him substantially different -- better -- than the standard right-wing Republican.

And exactly like the media's hero worship of McCain now, Bush in 2000 was presented as the sole figure capable of healing our partisan rift. He was a "uniter, not a divider," who venerated solutions above partisan bickering. Bush would reach across the aisle, recruit Democrats to his side, and just as he changed the tenor of politics in Texas, so, too, would he bridge the partisan divide in Washington after eight long years of Clintonian divisiveness.

Here is how then-RNC chairman Jim Nicholson put it during his 2000 Convention speech: "My friends, this is going to be a different kind of convention for a different kind of Republican." Bush spokesman Ray Sullivan mouthed a similar line during the campaign: "Gov. Bush has shown time and time again that he is a different kind of Republican."

Replace "McCain" in 2008 with "Bush" in 2000, and the cliché-ridden script has barely changed. Both then and now, the GOP nominee, despite a virtually unbroken record of standard conservative orthodoxy, is depicted as far too honorable and independent to be considered an ordinary politician, let alone a standard conservative partisan. Both the 2000 Bush and the 2008 McCain were mavericks -- inspiring, honest figures who transcend partisan warfare and piously float far above the muck of traditional politics.

Indeed, the central praise typically heaped by journalists on McCain -- that no matter what one thinks of his views, he always says what he thinks, because he is a man of real conviction -- is exactly the marketing package in which George Bush was wrapped
, particularly when he ran for reelection. Just compare McCain's media reputation as a plain-spoken, truth-telling maverick with the crown jewel of George Bush's 2004 GOP Convention acceptance speech:

THE PRESIDENT: In the last four years, you and I have come to know each other. Even when we don't agree, at least you know what I believe and where I stand.

The depiction of McCain as a truth-telling, apolitical maverick is just about as accurate as previous similar depictions of Bush were. On virtually every policy issue of significance, McCain's positions -- not his rhetoric but his actual positions -- ultimately transform into those held by the dominant right-wing faction of the Republican Party and, even more so, are identical to the positions that shaped and defined the failed Bush presidency.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Pat Buchanan, Equal Opportunity Hatemonger


February 26, 1996 Contact: Steven Rendall

In the flap over Larry Pratt and other unsavory characters associated with the Patrick Buchanan campaign, journalists typically framed the question: Is Buchanan linked to extremists and bigots? But there is a more basic question journalists should ask: Is Patrick Buchanan himself an extremist and bigot?

Here is a sampling of Buchanan's views.

I just chose one paragraph (of many) per hated group from the original, well-documented article.


On race relations in the late 1940s and early 1950s: "There were no politics to polarize us then, to magnify every slight. The 'negroes' of Washington had their public schools, restaurants, bars, movie houses, playgrounds and churches; and we had ours." (Right from the Beginning,
Buchanan's 1988 autobiography, p. 131)


"If we had to take a million immigrants in, say Zulus, next year, or Englishmen, and put them up in Virginia, what group would be easier to assimilate and would cause less problems for the people of Virginia?" ("This Week With David Brinkley," 1/8/91)


Buchanan was vehement in pushing President Reagan -- despite protests -- to visit Germany's Bitburg cemetery, where Nazi SS troops were buried. At a White House meeting, Buchanan reportedly reminded Jewish leaders that they were "Americans first" -- and repeatedly scrawled the phrase "Succumbing to the pressure of the Jews" in his notebook. Buchanan was credited with crafting Ronald Reagan's line that the SS troops buried at Bitburg were "victims just as surely as the victims in the concentration camps." (New York Times, 5/16/85; New Republic, 1/22/96)


On AIDS, Buchanan wrote in 1983: "The poor homosexuals -- they have declared war upon nature, and now nature is extracting an awful retribution (AIDS)." (Los Angeles Times, 11/28/86) Later that year, he demanded that New York City Ed Koch and New York Gov. Mario Cuomo cancel the Gay Pride Parade or else "be held personally responsible for the spread of the AIDS plague." "With 80,000 dead of AIDS, our promiscuous homosexuals appear literally hell-bent on Satanism and suicide," Buchanan wrote in 1990 (syndicated column, 10/17/90). In the 1992 campaign, he declared: AIDS is nature's retribution for violating the laws of nature." (Seattle Times, 7/31/93)


"The real liberators of American women were not the feminist noise-makers, they were the automobile, the supermarket, the shopping center, the dishwasher, the asher-dryer, the freezer." (Right from the Beginning, p. 149)


In a January, 1991 column, Buchanan suggested that "quasi-dictatorial rule" might be the solution to the problems of big municipalities and the federal fiscal crisis: "If the people are corrupt, the more democracy, the worse the government." (Washington Times, 1/9/91) He has written disparagingly of the "one man, one vote Earl Warren system."

I just don't understand why such an evil, vituperative person has a prominent position on MSNBC. (MSNBC is owned by GE, my brain answers.)

Media Massage of McCain Continues

100 Year Video

The foul odor of media-in-the-can-for-McCain and the Rethugs hangs over the 2008 campaign. McCain sez: It's fine with me if we're in Iraq for 100 years. The media sez: He didn't say that!

The Washington Post charges Democrats are "distorting" McCain by saying, well, that he said what he said. The New York Times says Democrats are misharacterizing and distorting McCain, by saying, well, that he said what he said. Again, the facts the media is trying so hard to ignore: McCain said he'd be fine if we stayed in Iraq for 100 years. After all, he said (you can watch it here on YouTube),

QUESTIONER: Yes, please. President Bush has talked about our --

McCAIN: Please, please, please start over.

QUESTIONER: President Bush has talked about our staying in Iraq for 50 years --

McCAIN: Maybe a hundred.

QUESTIONER: Is that -- is that --

McCAIN: We've been in South Korea -- we've been in Japan for 60 years. We've been in South Korea for 50 years or so. That'd be fine with me as long as Americans --

QUESTIONER: So that's your policy?

McCAIN: -- As long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed, then it's fine with me.
I hope it would be fine with you if we maintain a presence in a very volatile part of the world where Al Qaeda is training, recruiting, and equipping and motivating people every single day.

But no, the media cries: He didn't really mean it! Stop picking on our Johnny Boy! They want so badly for their pal John McCain, McSame, McLame, McBush, etc., to take them on BBQs at his "cabin" (read, rich man's estate) in Sedona for the next four years.

Media Matters: When McCain cries foul, the media are eager to agree

And what other zombie lies has the media been feeding us? The bowling prowess, or lack thereof, of Barack Obama is a very significant story, according to graduates of the country's finest schools of journalism. Glenn Greenwald sums it up:

In the past two weeks, the following events transpired. A Department of Justice memo, authored by John Yoo, was released which authorized torture and presidential lawbreaking. It was revealed that the Bush administration declared the Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights to be inapplicable to "domestic military operations" within the U.S. The U.S. Attorney General appears to have fabricated a key event leading to the 9/11 attacks and made patently false statements about surveillance laws and related lawsuits. Barack Obama went bowling in Pennsylvania and had a low score.

Here are the number of times, according to NEXIS, that various topics have been mentioned in the media over the past thirty days:

"Yoo and torture" - 102

"Mukasey and 9/11" -- 73

"Yoo and Fourth Amendment" -- 16

"Obama and bowling" -- 1,043

"Obama and Wright" -- More than 3,000 (too many to be counted)

"Obama and patriotism" - 1,607

"Clinton and Lewinsky" -- 1,079

And as Eric Boehlert documents, even Iraq -- that little five-year U.S. occupation with no end in sight -- has been virtually written out of the media narrative in favor of mindless, stupid, vapid chatter of the type referenced above. "The Clintons are Rich!!!!" will undoubtedly soon be at the top of this heap within a matter of a day or two.

As I write this, "Clinton Tax Returns" google search returns 4,320 news results. "yoo torture" returns 172 results. "mukasey 9/11" 45 results.

The media is dead. Long live the servile, corrupt and shameless corporate media.

As Stephen Colbert said:

But, listen, let's review the rules. Here's how it works: the president makes decisions. He's the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put 'em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know - fiction!

Replace "president" with "McCain" and you have the current behavior of the media.