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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Teflon man 

Once again, Lance Mannion nails it:
Obama managed to create the perception in the Media that he had already won the nomination long before he was even close to winning the nomination and that Clinton in continuing to campaign as if she still had a chance was being a vindictive and egomaniacal spoilsport.
With the help of a Clinton-hating Press Corps, he was able to scare Party leaders into thinking that letting the campaign go on was destroying the party and somehow thwarting the will of the people. He was able to scare enough of the right people into thinking that if they let the nomination be decided by a floor fight they'd be dooming the Party's chances in the fall.
Then, and again I don't think he had to work hard at this, he was able to convince his supporters that if the supers did decide the nomination in Clinton's favor or if she won it in a floor fight at the convention, they would have been robbed! He was able to make party leaders worry that in fact they would be robbing his supporters.
And, amazingly, what was once egregriously unfair, that the super-delegates would decide the nomination, has now become the right and only thing to do.
All of this was self-serving and self-interested and ambitious on Obama's part, all of it was tinged with hypocrisy and double-dealing, and none of it was unfair or constituted cheating or is in any way reprehensible because all of it is just in the nature of politics.
In this campaign, Obama and his team turned out to be the better politicians than Clinton and hers.
That's why he's going to be the nominee and that's why I'm so hopeful that he will win in November.
I think he'll prove to be the better politician than John McCain.
Those of you who wish to think that he won through the pure force of his goodness and the righteousness of his cause and that his beating Hillary was a case of goodness and light triumphing over evil are perfectly free to do so. The rest of us know better. Obama's just another politician with a sharp eye on the main chance, same as Clinton, and that's what we're counting on come November.
Last week I knocked the Clinton-haters off the blogroll. This week, the prospective McCain voters like Donna Darko and Tennessee Geurrilla Women are coming off for the duration. I just can't read any more about "if Hillary doesn't win then we'll vote McCain" -- a profoundly stupid thing to do, or to threaten to do.

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Dog-blogging 


Here are our two dogs -- who obviously think the bed belongs to them.

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Conspiracy theories 



Dave Johnson alerts us to the top 10 conspiracy theories of the religious right. Here's some of the best:
- Al Gore working secretly with global warming folks to take over the Unites States [and would that it was true!]
- Hillary Clinton working secretly with Janet Reno to form a lesbian plot to destroy Christianity
-the United Nations placing secret codes on the back of national highway signs to reveal the locations of believers so the new world order could persecute them.
-the Holocaust was really a big conspiracy hoax and most of the Jews who were supposed to be killed in Europe were actually walking around in New York City [this is an old one]
- Lucifer was behind the Supreme Court ruling in Topeka, Kansas regarding school integration.
- on the back of a 1993 box of Kix Cereal was a map teaching children about how the U.N. will divide up the United States
I have sometimes thought that the attraction of conspiracy theories, at the core, is the hope that somebody, whether the UN or the phone commpany, is actually in charge. It may be too frightening for some people to think that all of the craziness and chaos of the world is actually just random accidents - we are complusive about searching for patterns, aren't we?

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Friday, May 30, 2008

How to respond to a right-wing smear 

Best Bitch Slap EVAR:
"Please crawl back under the rock you came out from."

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

White trash 

This is why Obama should have laughed off Rev Wright.
Hillary would have.
She would have just snorted "That's a minister for you, always preaching hellfire and damnation. Of course I'm not responsible for anything a minister says!"
But Obama didn't do that. He accepted the Republican frame that he was tied at the hip to the preacher in his church. He took it all seriously.
So now here we go again -- this time with a white guy, a Father Michael Pfleger, who belted out a mean-spirited, ugly, gratituous anti-Hillary skreed last Sunday at good old Trinity United:
. . . We must be honest enough to expose white entitlement and supremacy wherever it raises its head.
I said before I don’t want this to be political because, you know, I’m very unpolitical (mocking tone, huge laughter).
…When Hillary was crying (gesturing tears, uproarious laughter from audience)–and people said that was put on–I really don’t believe it was put on.
I really believe that she just always thought ‘This is mine’ (laughter, hoots). ‘I’m Bill’s wife. I’m WHITE. And this is mine. And I jus’ gotta get up. And step into the plate. And then out of nowhere came, ‘Hey, I’m Barack Obama.’ And she said: ‘Oh, damn!’ WHERE DID YOU COME FROM? (Crowd going nuts, Pfleger screaming). I’M WHITE! I’M ENTITLED! THERE’S A BLACK MAN STEALING MY SHOW. (SOBS!) SHE WASN’T THE ONLY ONE CRYING! THERE WAS A WHOLE LOTTA WHITE PEOPLE CRYING!
Obama can't laugh this off now, that ship has sailed.
So Obama has now released the usual deeply disappointed statement, and Pfleger has issued the usual blame-the-victim non-apology apology:
I regret the words I chose on Sunday. These words are inconsistent with Senator Obama's life and message, and I am deeply sorry if they offended Senator Clinton or anyone else who saw them.
Gee, don't overdo it, eh?
No doubt we'll be seeing this video again and again.
And every time white Americans see it the subtext will be, Obama thinks you are white trash. Not exactly the message he wanted his campaign or candidacy to promote.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"Haven't you been busy" 

From the CBC:
Couillard talked about having tea with the prime minister's wife and meeting U.S. President George W. Bush at a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.
She said Bush approached Bernier and her in a corridor and, glancing at her, jovially told Bernier, 'Well, well, well, haven't you been busy.'
Nice to see the high moral tone that Bush has brought back to government. At least he didn't leap at her and start rubbing her shoulders.
And Alison is calling it Cleavage-gate:


But remember, it's not the sex, oh no, not at all...

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For Your Eyes Only 

Now everybody is asking why Bernier could have mislaid those secret papers for so many week without anybody noticing. It's simple. His long-suffering staff never actually gave this clown any secret papers -- they just stamped EYES ONLY on government press releases, knowing he wouldn't read them anyway.
Jason Cherniak sums up the real scandal about the Maxime Bernier affair -- that he wasn't fired long ago for all the screw-ups in his ministeral performance:
The Liberals demanded that Maxime Bernier be fired for a long list of reasons:
- suggesting to reporters that Kandahar Governor Asdullah Khalid be replaced. He was quickly forced to retract those comments and acknowledge that Afghanistan, as a sovereign country, must make its own decisions;
- his mishandling of the case of Brenda Martin, a Canadian left stranded in a in Mexican prison for two years;
- his failure to take a leadership role (or indeed any role) in the international effort to ban the production and use of cluster munitions;
- his abandonment of key foreign affairs files to other ministers - Afghan detainees (Peter MacKay), death row inmates abroad (Stockwell Day), the proposed sale of the Radarsat 2 satellite system (Jim Prentice), the Brenda Martin case (Helena Guergis), a summit of foreign affairs ministers of Arctic nations in Greenland (Gary Lunn); and,
- his failure to respond to any of the recent international crises in Pakistan, Kenya, Sri Lanka or Zimbabwe.
These were all good reasons. But, apparently, they were all well within the expectations of Prime Minister Stephen Harper from a minister of foreign affairs. Instead, Maxime Bernier was forced out because he left top-secret documents with his girlfriend who had connections to the Hell's Angels.
The Liberals saw this coming. They have been demanding that Mr. Harper look into the relationship between Mr. Bernier and his companion for some time now. They understood that while ministers are obviously allowed to have private lives, they also need to be smart in who they spend their time with.
But he wasn't smart about anything else. So it's not surprising.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Shorter 

Shorter Scottie McClellan:
I'm shocked, SHOCKED, that Bush was such a liar!
You know, its amazing.
Us lefties have been saying for eight years that the Bush administration is full of liars, that they lie all the time, that they would rather lie than tell the truth.
And now numerous reasonably-intelligent people who worked inside the Bush administration are reporting how surprised and upset they are to find out that they were being lied to all along.
What on earth did they think was happening?
Over at Balloon Juice, Tim F. talks about the how the later the memoir-writers leave it, the more tattered their reputations will get:
It’s like a game of musical chairs where every seat has a rusty tack on it.

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You say you've never heard of Fred Astaire? 

Boing Boing introduces this video mash, Fred Astaire dancing to Michael Jackson:


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Here come de judge 

Ross at The Gazetteer reports that the Insite safe injection site has been saved. Thanks, Ross, for letting me know about this sensible judge's order:
Mr. Justice Ian Pitfield of the B.C. Supreme Court granted users and staff at the popular but controversial facility known as Insite a permanent constitutional exemption from prosecution under federal drug laws.
. . . The fate of the facility in the heart of Vancouver's drug-ravaged Downtown Eastside had been up in the air over fears that federal Health Minister Tony Clement would withdraw its legal exemption at the end of June.
. . . [Justice Pitfield] rejected arguments from the federal lawyers that drug use was a matter of individual choice and it was up to the government whether addicts at Insite should be immune from prosecution.
“Society cannot condone addiction, but in the face of its presence, it cannot fail to manage it, hopefully with ultimate success reflected in the cure of the addicted individual and abstinence,” Judge Pitfield said.
“Simply stated, I cannot agree with Canada's submission that an addict must feed his addiction in an unsafe environment when a safe environment that may lead to rehabilitation is the alternative.”
. . . Once an individual is addicted to injection drugs, they are no longer using them for recreation, Judge Pitfield said. Their addiction becomes an illness that needs treatment.
He compared their plight to alcoholics and those hooked on cigarettes, problems recognized by society even though the substances are legal.
“Society neither condemns the individual who chooses to drink or smoke to excess, nor deprives that individual of a range of health care services,” Judge Pitfield reasoned.
“I cannot see any rational or logical reason why the approach should be different when dealing with the addiction to narcotics.”
Absolutely. I wonder if Harper will dare to appeal this to the Supreme Court?

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

New links 

I added some new links to the old blogroll, and switched some others around. Check them out.
It was relatively easy to revise this time -- I deleted bloggers who went ballistic over Hillary's clumsy statement on Friday. Anyone who hates Hillary so much that they could think she would promote assassination is infected with Rush Limbaugh's Vince Foster Syndrome and is off my reading list for now.

UPDATE: Ootpoot, as requested, your links are back, and better than ever. Look right...

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Great line of the day 

In the Comments to Tristero's post about gay marriage, Niko explains how straight people are affected:
How does the marriage of 2 people of the same gender you never met hurt YOUR marriage?
Well, shucks!
That works just like:
When a sea-cucumber down 347 feet in the north Pacific ocean rolls over 35-degrees to its left side...A car in South Dakota won't start.
Just like that.
Easy explanation, clearly understood by ALL Conservatives.

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Overturning the rock 

When you overturn a rock, worms writhe and leggety black things scuttle out.
Glenn Greenwald overturns the telecommunication company lobby records and lots of politicians writhe and scuttle.
The US wiretapping telecom scandal was never really a democrat vs republican issue, but rather a case of money trying to bury the truth about US wiretapping.
Truth has won a few battles, but money may still win the war.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Bambi vs Godzilla? 



Interesting to read the British New Statesman magazine analysis about why Hillary is losing -- they seem to be surprised that Obama is actually a ruthless competitor:
Hillary Clinton (along with her husband) is being universally depicted as a loathsome racist and negative campaigner, not so much because of anything she has said or done, but because the overwhelmingly pro-Obama media - consciously or unconsciously - are following the agenda of Senator Barack Obama and his chief strategist, David Axelrod, to tear to pieces the first serious female US presidential candidate in history.
"What's particularly saddening," says Paul Krugman, professor of economics and international affairs at Princeton and a rare dissenting voice from the left as a columnist in the New York Times, "is the way many Obama supporters seem happy with the . . . way pundits and some news organisations treat any action or statement by the Clintons, no matter how innocuous, as proof of evil intent." Despite widespread reporting to the contrary, Krugman believes that most of the "venom" in the campaign "is coming from supporters of Obama".
This actually explains something I had noticed for months -- I kept reading Hillary supporters saying they would happily vote for Obama if Hillary lost, while Obama supporters were characterizing her as the evil spawn of Satan.
The article explains why this happened, though it dives a little too far down the rabbit hole:
But Obama himself prepared the ground by making the first gratuitous personal attack of the campaign during the televised Congressional Black Caucus Institute debate in South Carolina on 21 January, although virtually every follower of the media coverage now assumes that it was Clinton who started the negative attacks. Following routine political sniping from her about supposedly admiring comments Obama had made about Ronald Reagan, Obama suddenly turned on Clinton and stared intimidatingly at her. "While I was working in the streets," he scolded her, ". . . you were a corporate lawyer sitting on the board of Wal-Mart." Then, cleverly linking her inextricably in the public consciousness with her husband, he added: "I can't tell who I'm running against sometimes."
One of his female staff then distributed a confidential memo to carefully selected journalists which alleged that a vaguely clumsy comment Hillary Clinton had made about Martin Luther King ("Dr King's dream began to be realised when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964") and a reference her husband had made in passing to Nelson Mandela ("I've been blessed in my life to know some of the greatest figures of the last hundred years . . . but if I had to pick one person whom I know would never blink, who would never turn back, who would make great decisions . . . I would pick Hillary") were deliberate racial taunts.
Another female staffer, Candice Tolliver - whose job it is to promote Obama to African Americans - then weighed in publicly, claiming that "a cross-section of voters are alarmed at the tenor of some of these statements" and saying: "Folks are beginning to wonder: Is this an isolated situation, or is there something bigger behind all of this?" That was game, set and match: the Clintons were racists, an impression sealed when Bill Clinton later compared Obama's victory in South Carolina to those of Jesse Jackson in 1984 and 1988 (even though Jackson himself, an Obama supporter, subsequently declared Clinton's remarks to be entirely inoffensive).
This anecdote reminded me a bit of the Cheney bait-and-switch, when Cheney would feed stories to the New York Times, then describe how the Bush administration policies were justified because of the stories in the New York Times.
But that unpleasant comparison aside, to me this mainly goes to prove that Obama vs. Hillary wasn't exactly the Bambi vs Godzilla match that the media seemed to think it was.
Now, Hillary has done herself no favours at all, pulling stunts like the 3 am phone call ad ["Hi, is Bill there?"] instead of apologizing for her Iraq War vote -- those misjudgments were all her own, not Obama's fault in the least. But this article reassures me that maybe Obama knows perfectly well there are no rules in a knife fight. He won't win the presidency unless he is prepared to fight for it.
The article continues
Obama and Axelrod have achieved their objectives: to belittle Hillary Clinton and to manoeuvre the ever-pliant media into depicting every political criticism she makes against Obama as racist in intent.
The danger is that, in their headlong rush to stop the first major female candidate (aka "Hildebeast" and "Hitlery") from becoming president, the punditocracy may have landed the Democrats with perhaps the least qualified presidential nominee ever. But that creeping realisation has probably come too late, and many of the Democratic super-delegates now fear there would be widespread outrage and increased racial tension if they thwart the first biracial presidential hopeful in US history.
But will Obama live up to the hype? That, I fear, may not happen: he is a deeply flawed candidate.
Oh, really? Well, he seems to be doing just fine against the originally unstoppable Clintons.
Personally, as I have said before, I am sad to see Hillary losing, mainly because I have been afraid that Obama couldn't win a presidential election
But in a perverse way, this article actually made me feel a little more confident that Obama has what it takes to win.
Hey, has anybody noticed how many stories you are reading these days about McCain's bad temper? And his flip flops. And how old he is?
Gee, I wonder why.

UPDATE: Regarding the latest flap, I pretty much agree with this -- read the comments, too.

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Setting the bar low 

Brodie out, Giorno in:
As chief of staff to Harris until 2002, Guy Giorno became known as the 'intellectual heart' of the premier's office.
Oh, Ontario will be so impressed with this move -- apparently there wasn't much competition for either the "intellectual" or "heart" aspects in Mike Harris's office, was there?

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"The sheriff is a ...." 



Chet alerts us to this New Republic article by John Judis which basically says Obama is winning the Democratic nomination because he is black and therefore "historic":
. . . having realized that Obama was going to be a genuine rival for the nomination, she and her campaign decided to go negative on him. They did the usual thing politicians do to each other: They ran attack ads taking his words somewhat out of context . . . But there a was difference between her doing this to Obama and McCain's doing it to Romney--a difference that eluded Clinton, her husband, and her campaign staff. . . . Obama, too, was, and is, history--the first viable African-American presidential candidate. Yes, Hillary Clinton was the first viable female candidate, but it is still different.

Chet and Bob Somerby and lambert and others are criticising this article for its explicit sexism.
But I want to note something I find even more disturbing about this article.
Implicit in it is the idea that Obama's candidacy is enough -- that making Obama the Democratic nominee would give America an egalitarian stamp of approval, demonstrable proof that America isn't racist anymore, no siree, but of course actually electing him is unnecessary, in fact unthinkable, oh no, that would go too far.
Judis writes about Obama as though he is an historical artifact:

Race is the deepest and oldest and most bitter conflict in American history--the cause of our great Civil War and of the upheavals of the 1950s and '60s. And if some voters didn't appreciate the potential breakthrough that Obama's candidacy represented, many in the Democratic primaries and caucuses did--and so did the members of the media and Obama's fellow politicians. And as Clinton began treating Obama as just another politician, they recoiled and threw their support to him.
It is a subtle message, but clear -- that Americans can all feel like they're struck some kind of blow for equaity just by supporting Obama's candidacy, with no need to actually elect him as President
In fact, Judis explicity lets everyone off the hook with the blithe statement that to win in November Obama would have to "capture enough of these white working class voters" -- and of course those no-account "working class" types wouldn't be worrying about proving themselves not to be racist so they can just go ahead and discriminate, that's OK and its all Obama's fault if he can't get their votes ....
In fact, the implicit attitude toward Obama in this article reminds me of Samuel Johnson's attitude about women preachers:

"Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all."
Just as the sexism displayed by many in the media and by many pundits and bloggers has sickened me over the last couple of months, so also will the racism we are already seeing, particularly from people like Judis who don't think they are racists at all.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Reality check 

Ian Welsh comments about the risk that Obama is taking in pushing way the bloggers and the so-called Second Tier campaign groups:
. . . Obama had best win, because he's telling a lot of people (not just bloggers) "I don't need your help". And when you look at state rather than national polls, y'know what, he's currently losing to McCain. When you tell people to shove it, you don't need their help, failure is not an option.
Say what you will about Clinton, but I don't know anyone who thinks she'd be choking off money to independent small-d groups, or freezing out constituencies she doesn't control. The blogosphere went mostly Obama, but Clinton kept her outreach.
*shrug* I'll support Obama, of course, and tell folks to vote for him, and so on. So will every other prog-blog, even the hard-core Clintonistas. But he'd better win or he won't have a lot of friends to cushion him in his fall from grace.
What will the Obama campaign do to get people like Ian Welsh onside?
And Avedon Carol and Lance Mannion and James Wolcott and Bob Somersby and Lambert and Paul Krugman and, I think, Digby,and all of the other hundreds of thousands of people who heard Obama's speeches and decided to support Hillary, or at least who kept saying they could support either?
These people aren't going to leap onto the bandwagon. They don't see Obama as the Second Coming and, having been burned in 2004 by the shut-up-and-don't-criticize-Kerry meme, they will speak up this time if they think Obama is handling some issue badly. I hope someone in his campaign will be reading what they say -- they could prove to be Obama's most important reality check

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Little Saddams 

The priceless part of this story is that the US military is just creating a bunch of neighbourhood Saddam Husseins, and they don't even seem to realise it:
. . . doing business with the gunmen, whom the U.S. military has dubbed Sons of Iraq, is like striking a deal with Tony Soprano, according to the soldiers who walk the battle-blighted streets, where sewage collects in malodorous pools.
"Most of them kind of operate like dons in their areas," said 2nd Lt. Forrest Pierce, a platoon leader with the 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment. They shake down local businessmen for protection money, seize rivals for links to the insurgency and are always angling for more men, more territory and more power.
For U.S. soldiers on the beat, it means navigating a complex world of shifting allegiances, half-truths and betrayals.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Wow -- just wow 

75,000 Rally in Portland for Obama:



And here are some of the comments at the Washington Post blog:
I am 47 years old and have never been so excited about a presidential race. Obama brings vision, change, and a love of America with all it has to offer from his one in a million perspective. I truly believe that we are looking at not only history in the making but at the next president of the United States

Holy cow!! I watched the rally on CNN and they didnt span the crowd once. Well, it doesnt change anything I bet, the American people can see through the media smoke screen. Go BO our moment is now

The crowds at Obama rallies are truly impressive--people from all walks of life, all demographic groups. He is a leader who inspires us to be a better, more united nation. Most politicians talk about what they want to do when they are elected-- he talks about what we the people will do together with his leadership. Obama really can transform the electoral map-- moving beyond the slice and dice politics of the past couple of decades.

This guy almost have more power than the president. If he runs the country the way he has run his campaign, America will be a force respected around the world again.
Oh, I hope Hillary is wrong -- I guess I'm afraid she's right but oh how I hope she is wrong. I hope Obama is the kind of leader that America deserves to have.

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Wingnut Creed 

The Editors at Poor Man on Tweety's argument with the right-winger who kept screeching "he's an appeaser" about Obama, without actually knowing what that meant at all:
It’s all like this. Everything is just like this. Some blank young person who has memorized a 5″x7″ index card of focus group-approved phrases, yelling, yelling, yelling over everyone. And you can say what you want, and be as right as you want, but he’s going to keep yelling, and yelling, and yelling until you get sick of it, and at the end of the day everybody knows that Barack Obama goes to secret Muslim church. Everything is like this. An election won’t fix it. This rules the world.
When I had wingnuts infesting my comments, I observed they would just keep parroting the same phrases over and over, regardless of context or relevance.
I guess its easier than thinking.

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BFF? Not so much 

I see what skdadl means -- while the New York Times is burying the news about the Saudi-US deal about "civilian nuclear technology" -- whatever that is -- other non-US media are headlining it - VOA News - Bush in Saudi Arabia for Nuclear Deal.
I also noted this illuminating paragraph about US- Saudi relations now, as said by John Alterman from the Center for Strategic and International Studies:
'This relationship has been unalterably changed partly by the events of September 11, partly by what's happened in Iraq, partly by a Saudi sense that the United States isn't nearly as competent as they thought,' said Alterman. 'And while there is no alternative to the United States, there is suddenly a need to hedge against U.S. incompetence. That changes the whole way these meetings go, and it changes what happens when the U.S. president says I really need you to do this.'
Hmmm - the rest of the world is taking steps to protect itself from US incompetence -- so who is actually holding who's hand now?


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Great line of the day 

Tom Englehart writes Welcome to the Age of Homeland Insecurity:
. . . Osama bin Laden and his scattering of followers may be credited for goading the fundamentalist leaders of the United States into using the power in their grasp so ... stupidly and profligately as to send the planet's "sole superpower" into decline. Above all, bin Laden and his crew of fanatics will have ensured one thing: that the real security problems of our age were ignored in Washington until far too late in favor of mad dreams and dark phantoms.
Via.

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Hillary fights on -- and makes points 

Hillary says -- its the map, not the math.
"I believe I will win; I believe my opponent could win."
Just like the Canadian popular vote doesn't matter in our first-past-the-post constituency system, so also the US popular vote doesn't matter either, its the electoral votes.
Here are the latest electoral vote maps.





Here's some state-by-state analysis.
Now, I don't believe that women will stay home, however disappointed they may be if Hillary is not nominated -- Hillary has said she will work her heart out for Obama and I believe her.
And its a long time until November, and maybe Obama can inspire enough new voters in those red sttes to turn them blue -- provided they actually turn out and provided all the GOP voter repression laws actually allow their votes to count.
But even Cokie Roberts makes sense.

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You can't pick your battles, only your side 

Federal Judge Rules That Students Can’t Be Barred From Expressing Support for Gay People:
“Standing up to my school was really hard to do, but I’m so happy that I did because the First Amendment is a big deal to everyone,” said Heather Gillman, a junior at Ponce de Leon High School and the plaintiff in the case . . .
According to students, problems began in September of 2007 when a lesbian student tried to report to school officials that she was being harassed by other students because she is a lesbian.
Instead of addressing the harassment, students say the school responded with intimidation, censorship, and suspensions . . .
Ponce de Leon High School’s principal David Davis admitted under oath that he had banned students from wearing any clothing or symbols supporting equal rights for gay people. Davis also testified that he believed rainbows were “sexually suggestive” and would make students unable to study because they’d be picturing gay sex acts in their mind. The principal went on to admit that while censoring rainbows and gay pride messages he allowed students to wear other symbols many find controversial, such as the Confederate flag.
Another example of the unsought battles that turn ordinary people into heroes.
These 16-year-old students didn't want to be adversaries with their school administrators, but once the battle was thrust upon them, they didn't back down. As I have said before, "You don't get to pick your battles, you only get to pick your side":

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Great line of the day 

Alison quotes Police psychologist Mike Webster:
I am embarrassed to be associated with organizations that Taser sick old men in hospital beds and confused immigrants arriving to the country. Frankly I find it embarrassing.

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Disneyland? Forget it. 

This is very frightening
After being turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, he was taken to the Pamunkey Regional Jail in Hanover, Va., where he ended up in a barracks with 75 other men, including asylum-seekers who told him they had been waiting a year. . .
Luis Paoli, a lawyer hired by the Coopers, said there was no limit on detention while waiting for an asylum interview. But even after officials agreed the asylum issue had been a mistake, Mr. Salerno was not released.
“Now an innocent European, who has never broken any laws, committed any crimes, or overstayed his visa, is being held in a county jail,” Ms. Cooper wrote in an e-mail message to The New York Times last Wednesday, prompting a reporter’s inquiries.
Less than 24 hours later, immigration officials intervened and arranged to deliver Mr. Salerno to Dulles, where last Friday he flew to Rome.
But I guess injustice is OK as long as it happens to brown people:
“We have a lot of government people here and lobbyists and lawyers and very educated, very savvy Washingtonians,” said Jim Cooper, Ms. Cooper’s father, a businessman, describing the reaction in his neighborhood, the Wessynton subdivision of Alexandria. “They were pretty shocked that the government could do this sort of thing, because it doesn’t happen that often, except to people you never hear about, like Haitians and Guatemalans.”
Will people like this ever elect Barak Obama as president, knowing that he would put a stop to this kind of BS?

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Shorter 

Shorter Harper:
Welcome to Hurbris North

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Ancient history 

Anything that happened to your parents is history. If it happened to your grandparents, its ancient history. And if it happened to your great-grandparents, its palaeolithic.
Glenn Greenwald writes about John McCain's Vietnam-based view of war:
John McCain is the ultimate embodiment of America's hoary, Vietnam era 'stabbed-in-the-back' myth. We should fight wars with massive bombing campaigns and unleashed force, unconstrained by excessive concerns over 'collateral damage' and unimpeded by domestic questioning. That's how we could have (and should have) 'won' in Vietnam and how we'll 'win' in Iraq.
What McCain hasn't realized is that, to anyone under 40, Vietnam is history. To anyone under 20, its ancient history. By trying to re-fight this war, he's just demonstrating just how old he really is.
America hated Vietnam because they were sucked into fighting it. They hate the Iraq War because they were tricked into fighting it. In both cases the public was right, not wrong -- both these wars were criminal acts, illegal in international law, and the American people were right to be disgusted with what their government was doing.
Politicians like McCain and Bush prattle on about how they just love democracy, but when the public makes a judgment they don't agree with, it never seems to cause them to question their own position. Instead they just write off the public as stupid or cowardly or both.

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

The mom song 

YouTube - The Mom Song Sung to William Tell Overture: \


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Come the revolution? 

I knew there was something euuhhh! with Matt Stoller's Obama Magic post and Chris Bowers' Obama Transformation post and then dday's Obama Nation post but the best I could think of was "Haven't I heard this tune before, about mandates and faith-based politics?"
There's been some pushback here and, indirectly, here, but nobody's listening to Hillary-bloggers just now.
Avedon has a sinking feeling that just won't stop sinking about:
...all the people trying to find ways to feel good about the way the progressive movement is being made irrelevant
and points us to Ioz:
...[Bowers] makes the error of any good Bolshevik foot soldier: he presumes that the revolution is designed to benefit people like him.

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News that wasn't 

This week we've have non-news from Iraq -- the captured-Iranian-weapons-in-Iraq that weren't and the the captured-Leader-of-Al-Quaeda-In-Iraq who wasn't.
But here's something real, from Iraq Today:
Iraqi boy cleans up his home in southern Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, May 11, 2008. US troops fired at the house with a shoulder rocket launcher during an apparent search mission in the area. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
Cervantes writes:
This is yet another of those incidents that is only reported in a photo caption. One wonders how often U.S. forces do this sort of thing, that we never hear about.
Oh, and Happy Mothers Day to the family that used to live there.

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Great line of the day 

The Editors writes about whether torture memo writer John Yoo should be investigated at Berkley:
...A matter of little consequence to the average American: whether Prof. Yoo picks up his paycheck from Berkeley or Liberty University, or whatever Home for Temporarily Inconvenienced Wingnuts would happily scoop him up. But probably a matter of consequence to the administration, who - unless they want to rebrand their university as Liberty West Coast Satellite Campus - might not want their most recognizable faculty member having as his primary field of expertise “concocting legal sophistries to undermine the foundational values of western civilization.” Perhaps also of concern to alumni, who might feel less inclined to cut large checks to their alma mater if their Golden Bears sweatshirts started inviting questions about whether they played home games at Abu Ghraib (football fans can be very cruel). The student body might have an interest in this matter, as would, I imagine, faculty and staff at other UC campuses, and even the taxpayers of California, who might wonder if they wanted to be so openly associated with a person who scuttled around the dark corners of an administration whose human rights record invited comparisons to the Soviet Union - asserting, for example, that the President had the right to crush the testicles of children in order to compel or punish their parents. So it could matter to more people than you might think whether Prof. Yoo gets to practice his craft in decent society, or whether he has to join the other crackpots and undesirables in the shadow reality of wingnut academia, where Jesus rides a dinosaur and the Moonies pick up the tab and the vast liberal fascist secularist conspiracy doesn’t give a fuck what utter bullshit you get up to so long as you stay down in your fucking hole. The thing about the Universe is that it likes to align itself harmoniously. I suspect there’s a way of putting things in order here.
Emphasis mine.

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The "harm reduction strategy" is actually reducing harm 

Is the Conservative government's drug war ideology worth the death of one drug addict a year? I guess we'll find out soon.
The Gazetteer alerts us to the likely closure of Vancouver's safe injection site, called InSite, because the federal conservatives just can't allow such a progressive approach to dealing with drug addicts.
Nope, illegal drug users should have to shoot up by themselves in dirty alleys, like they've always done. Its the Conservative way.
The government's report on InSite says they have dealt with hundreds of overdoses and haven't lost anyone. The report also indicated that statistical analysis of overdose deaths demonstrated the safe injection site likely saved the life of one drug addict a year.
So that will be the cost of closing the site. But it's pretty clear that Health minister Tony Clements is gearing up to toe the party line against the "harm reduction" strategy represented by projects like InSite -- conservatives have been trashing the harm reduction approach for years with no evidence.
In his National Post interview Clement said:
....the government's new drug strategy is focused on stopping drug use, rather than just ensuring it occurs in a safer way.
"Our harm reduction is accomplished through enforcement, our harm reduction is accomplished through prevention, our harm reduction is accomplished through treatment," said Mr. Clement.
"The best way to reduce harm is to get addicts off drugs and to provide the supports for that addict."
Well, well, quel suprise -- that's exactly what the drug injection centre does.
In the government report, buried in the tables at the end, there's a fascinating little nugget:
Among a sample of 1031 service users recruited between Dec '03 and March '05,185 (18%) reported that they began a detoxification program during a follow-up period with a median duration of 344 days. More rapid entry into detoxification programs was associated with at least weekly use of the service and contact with the facilities addiction counsellors (Wood et al., 2006c). Further analysis using retrospective and prospective database linkages with local detoxification services and residential programs indicated that the opening of INSITE was associated with a 30% increase in detoxification service use and a subsequent increase in rates of initiation of long-term addiction treatment and a decreased injecting at INSITE (Wood et al., 2007)
In other words, the InSite drug injection service has resulted in a signficant increase in the number of drug users trying to get off drugs -- at least I think a 30 per cent increase in detox admissions is pretty darn significant. This is exactly what the safe injection site was supposed to do.
Isn't that what Harper and Clement want?

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Harped! 

Countdown has a regular feature called "Bushed" which gathers up all of the Bush adminstration scandals. Now Galloping Beaver's Boris pulls all the Harper outrages together for us -- I guess you could say we're Harped:
1. Attacks on the very institutions that support democracy and public safety in this country. Elections Canada, CNSC, etc.
2. Legal attempts to neuter the Official Opposition outside of parliamentary means.
3. Attempts the legally enshrining the consolidation of immigration control into the PMO.
4. Attempts empowering the PMO with regulation of cultural expression.
5. Directing populist, inflamatory, and fundamentally dishonest accusations of anti-Semitism at the Opposition.
6. A party with a membership linked to all manor of extreme religious and social conservative groups.
7. Public Safety Minister. Title, proto-Orwellian.
8. Public Safety Minister with past associations with far-right fascists.
9. Attempts at rigid information control.
10. Message control in extremis. Firing of any civil servant that could potential counter party propaganda.
11. Party styles itself as party of the armed forces.
12. Pursues policies that put the armed forces at centre stage.
13. Frames debate over foreign policy in nationalist, militarist terms.
14. etc.
Well, as least there is one thing that people are laughing about -- the $100 a month Harper daycare benefit.

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Friday, May 09, 2008

Great post of the day 

Lance Mannion talks about what he wants to see happen by 2016:

....Look at what FDR did and look at what he did wrong and look at all he wasn't able to do.
Now tell me.
What did you think President Hillary Clinton was going to be able to do?
What do you think President Barack Obama will manage to accomplish?
I'll tell you what. I won't be satisfied but I will be glad (and amazed) if at the end of eight years these things are done:
The war in Iraq is over.
We have a federal regulatory system that doesn't let tainted meat into the supermarkets and allow poisoned toys to wind up in the hands of our children.
Our Justice Department is a department of justice and no longer the legal legbreakers for the Republican Party.
We have at least one more even moderately liberal judge on the Supreme Court.
We have something close to affordable, universal health insurance.
We have made some strides towards reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and slowing global climate change.
. . . more than it matters which one is in the White House, Clinton or Obama, it matters who is in running the show in Congress. . . . We don't need a great sailor at the helm.
Just a captain who can follow his own nose and a crew willing to put their backs into it.
We're the crew.

The only thing Mannion missed that half the crew wants the boat to sink.

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Great line of the day 

I can agree with all of Egalia's statement:
She is the women's candidate. She represents us. She is opening doors for us. In the short span of her historic presidential campaign, Hillary Rodham Clinton has taken a lifetime of venomous misogyny and she has taken it for all of us. If she has not reawakened the long dormant feminist movement, no one can. If she wins, we win.
Except for the very last sentence:
If she loses, we lose.
Nope, not even close. Hillary Clinton is an admirable woman and a fine candidate, and I am sad to see her going down to defeat. But women have lost before and will lose again and there is no larger defeat here. It's not "women" who are losing the nomination, its just Hillary.
Still, I know how Egalia feels -- I remember when Flora MacDonald lost ...

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Her turn 

Yeah, I figured it would be her turn next. Oh, well, maybe she can go on Oprah or Ellen or Jon Stewart or something and talk about her cookie recipies.
UPDATE: I am being derisive of the American media here, not of Michelle Obama, who is an extremely impressive person.
Hey, if Barak Obama gets elected president, maybe Michelle will run for Senate in 2016 and then for President herself in 2024!
DOUBLE UPDATE: And they're after his dog, too.

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Stupid questions 

Sask politician quits as premier's legislative secretary after sexist comment
Mike Chisholm of the Saskatchewan Party quit that position Thursday after referring to NDP member Deb Higgins as "dumb bitch" during debate in committee. ..."I'm certainly sorry that I said it. I'm sorry that I even thought it and I apologized to the member and I apologized to the house. I don't know why I said it."
Then he offers his own explanation:
"I guess I'm just human."
Nope, it's because you're an asshole.


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Donut Nazi 

Remind me never to go to Tim Horton's in London, Ontario:
Lilliman, who said she had aspired to become a supervisor, was fired by what Tim Hortons head office called an overzealous manager after giving away [a Timbit] - retail value 16 cents - to the infant on Tuesday.
The three-year employee, who makes $9.05 an hour and pays $750 a month in rent, was called into a backroom the next day and made to sign termination papers that read 'terminated for giving baby product without paying,' she said.
But it sounds like there are some nice people in London anyway.
As she left the store in tears, a stranger handed her $40, saying someone had once done him the same favour when he was fired from a job, Lilliman said.

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There are no rules in a knife fight 

See, this is what worries me about Obama -- could he possibly be so stupid as to give up his enormous fundraising advantage with individual donors, just so he can get a few style points from election reformers?
Yes, apparently -- Obama Floated Idea Of Voluntarily Capping Donations.
In an election campaign, there are no points for style.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Lists 

I could have given you a short list of the things that I don't like about Hillary Clinton and about Barak Obama. But at the top of Obama's list would be some of his supporters. This seems to be a fairly common observation among the Hillary-bloggers.

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Nuts 

So today John Bolton says that starting an illegal preemptive war of choice against Iran "is really the most prudent thing to do" and it would teach the Iranians a lesson.
I'll just bet it would.
As Josh Marshall says, just another example of John Bolton's keen strategic thinking. In Bolton's world, bombs apparently don't deliver ordinance or death anymore, they just deliver messages.
So, of course, does the phone. And without causing any pictures like this:


Iran is pretty direct about sending its own war messages, thank you very much. Like the message in this Robert X. Cringely story:
. . [while in Teheran in 1986 for another story, Cringely] decided to go see the [Iraq-Iran] war since I had been in Beirut and Angola, but had never seen trench warfare, which is what I was told they had going in Iran. So I took a taxi to the front, introduced myself to the local commander, who had gone, as I recall, to Iowa State, and spent a couple days waiting for the impending human wave attack. That attack was to be conducted primarily with 11-and 12-year-old boys as troops, nearly all of them unarmed. There were several thousand kids and their job was to rise out of the trench, praising Allah, run across No Man's Land, be killed by the Iraqi machine gunners, then go directly to Paradise, do not pass GO, do not collect 200 dinars. And that's exactly what happened in a battle lasting less than 10 minutes. None of the kids fired a shot or made it all the way to the other side. And when I asked the purpose of this exercise, I was told it was to demoralize the cowardly Iraqi soldiers.
It was the most horrific event I have ever seen, and I once covered a cholera epidemic in Bangladesh that killed 40,000 people.
Waiting those two nights for the attack was surreal. Some kids acted as though nothing was wrong while others cried and puked. But when the time came to praise Allah and enter Paradise, not a single boy tried to stay behind.
Now put this in a current context. What effective limit is there to the number of Islamic kids willing to blow themselves to bits? There is no limit, which means that a Bush Doctrine can't really stand in that part of the world.
And Bolton thinks they'll get all fluttery about a US bombing raid?
I don't know how badly the Iraqi soldiers were demoralized after this incident -- the Iran-Iraq war continued another three years and Saddam didn't care -- but I can't believe that most soldiers wouldn't be completely devastated at being told to make war on children.
Oh...yeah...

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Today's Nelson Moment 


Ha. Ha.
[Conservative MP and former Heritage minister]Oda spent nearly $17,000 on limo rides in her party's first 15 months in office, according to receipts obtained by the NDP ...about half of that amount was never proactively included in publicly disclosed ministerial travel and hospitality expenses.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

You know what's going to happen next 

Hillary may have ecked out a win in Indiana but she needed a big win to show momentum and she didn't get it.
Her speech sounded like a concession speech.
So say she announces tomorrow or the next day that she is pulling out. We can just predict what will happen next -- remember all of Obama negatives which Hillary supporters were supposed to be racist for even mentioning? Well, after a one-day honeymoon, suddenly all of this stuff will be just so terribly important as the poor poor voters struggle to evaluate Obama's character, so it wil be just so terribly legitimate for the media to cover it, not racist at all, and it will be wall-to-wall Obama Swift Boat time, everything from Obambi to flag pins to secret Muslim to why does Obama hate Israel? to will Joe Lunchbucket vote for someone who can't bowl? to how cosy is he with Chicago land developers to -- wait for it -- this pastor named Wright.
I hope Obama learned a little from Hillary and just laughs in their face.

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Monday, May 05, 2008

It's not a bug, it's a feature 

A reader at Talking Points Memo describes what I like about Hillary's campaign:
By being a 'fighter' and playing to the lowest kind of populism (and wow do we hate it), Hillary is showing that if she were somehow to get nominated, she'll run exactly the kind of stay-on-the-offensive campaign that will force mistakes from McCain and make it more likely that she'll win in November. She's also making it clear that Obama will never run that kind of campaign.. . . Obama, by contrast, will run a high-minded campaign and may well win on merit. And he'll always be on the defensive. As I said, I favor him Obama a wide margin. But I favor a Democrat over a Republican by an even wider margin.
The upshot: I'll happily support Hillary if she 'steals' the nomination. . . . It's not about fighting back. It's about taking the first shot. She won't let them get their Swift Boats in the water to start with. . . . yes, it'll be very very ugly, cue the 'Unity12' theme music and hand-wringing by the delicate. But I think we're in for ugly no matter what, because they're not going to stop. We may as well engage or get used to losing.

The longer Hillary stays in, the more chance she has to win the nomination. And the more I see about how poorly Obama is handling things -- could he do anything stupider than not coming out in support of lower gas prices? -- I am less confident that he could win a general election.
I don't care how many economists have opined against lower gas prices -- Hillary knows exactly how many economists have ever been elected President.
Obama doesn't seem to get it -- he's running for office, not chairing a graduate tax seminar.
I used to think that Americans hated Republicans so much the Dems could run a turnip and it would win.
But I'm not so confident now. The Republicans are absolutely desperate to win this election, because if they don't they're all going to jail. The Democratic margin is going to have to be overwhelming to withstand the Republican push-back. I'm not sure Obama can do it. But Hillary can.

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Great line of the day 

From Lance Mannion:
The Working Class includes the 56 year old master electrician making sixty grand a year who can rewire your house blindfolded and who served in Vietnam and whose first vote for President was for George McGovern.
The High Information Creative Class includes the 23 year old C-student junior high school math teacher making twenty-five thousand a year who's working one chapter ahead of his students in the text book and who met his current girlfriend at his mega-church and of course they're both saving it until marriage.
We live in an interesting country.

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First of the season 

Guess what I just saw?

And it snowed a week ago!
(h/t)
Oh, maybe it was just a mayfly, a really little mayfly...

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Saturday, May 03, 2008

Obama supporters are creeping me out 

Read the comments on this post.
There's something sick about people who are chortling over the death of a horse just because she was Hillary Clinton's pick in the Kentucky Derby. Is Obama sure he actually wants 'supporters' like this?
And then there's pansygate and pastorgate. What is the matter with these people?

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Sam I am 



Meet Sam, our new dog.
He had to leave his original owners because they were moving to a place which did not allow pets. So we were lucky to get him a month ago. We've been working to help Sam lose weight, though he is a top-notch counter surfer and garbage guzzler, so the weight loss campaign is likely to take a little longer than we thought.
But he is a sweet and snuggly dog, too -we've never had a dog who loves to snuggle as much as Sam does.
He and Chillou, our other Lab, get along just fine -- now that Sam is running more, he and Chillou are playing together.
And now I have also learned about Black Dog Syndrome -- I guess animal shelters have great difficulty getting people to adopt black dogs, particularly larger black lab crosses like Sam. So if you can adopt a dog, make it a black one.

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