September 30, 2008

George Will awakens from coma

Sarah Palin is "obviously not qualified to be President," the conservative columnist remarked yesterday, describing her interview on CBS Evening News with Katie Couric as a "disaster."
Where has George Will been for the last month.

Palin has not chosen to be gay

Katie Couric: And when it comes to establishing your worldview, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this, to stay informed and to understand the world.

Sarah Palin: I've read most of them again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media, coming ...

Couric: Like what ones specifically I'm curious that you ...

Palin: Um, all of 'em, any of 'em that um have, have been in front of me over all these years, um ...

Couric: Can you name a few?

Palin: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news. Alaska isn't a foreign country where it's kinda suggested it seems like, 'Wow, how could you keep in touch with what the rest of Washington, D.C. may be thinking and doing when you live up there in Alaska?' Believe me, Alaska is like a microcosm of America.
I don't get it. The prospective first in line to the U.S. presidency, with an undergraduate degree in journalism, can't — or won't — name a single publication that she reads, or has read?

And then rambles away about Washington, D.C. and Alaska, as if that has anything to do with the question.

If she can't, then that is simply astonishing. Nay, disturbing. And if she won't, then why not? "All of 'em ... most of 'em ... any of 'em ... [the ones that] have been in front of me ..."

What? Which? Who?

Aside from the John Birch Society's official organ, that is.

September 29, 2008

Eric Cantor can't be serious

Members of the United States House of Representatives voted against a bill because of a speech somebody made? Wouldn't the text of the bill be different than the content of the speech? So were they voting against the bill, or against the speech?

Why were they even listening to the speech? That bill is more than 100 pages long but only a few hours old. Were they listening to the speech when they should have been using that time to read and reread the bill, to make sure they understood it? And considering its implications, many of which are not immediately evident?

But no, they had to loaf around listening to somebody deliver a speech, which hurt their feelings. According to Eric Cantor.

Bluegrass music to my ears

It seems that Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell is in a spot of trouble. McConnell famously launched a suit in federal court against the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (a.k.a. McCain-Feingold) before the ink was dry on President Bush's signature.

He lost, mostly, in one of the ugliest decisions in U.S. Supreme Court history. If I recall correctly, the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist of Shorewood, WI, in announcing the opinions, said he hadn't previously known there were that many judges on the Court.

Mitch McConnell's Democratic opponent, Bruce Lunsford, according to the good Senator's campaign manager, is "little more than an egotistical and greedy man." You stay classy, Mitch McConnell.

Gotcha citizen journalism

Katie Couric for President.

No different than what Obama said.

John McCain's comedy hour

"This bill failed because Barack Obama and
the Democrats put politics ahead of country."
— McCain campaign statement

"Now is not the time to fix the blame."
— John McCain, one hour later
Who's running that operation, anyway?

Short memory too

Details emerge of Couric outtakes
Of concern to John McCain's campaign is a remaining and still-undisclosed clip from Sarah Palin's interview with Katie Couric last week that has the political world buzzing.

A Palin aide revealed that it came in response to a question about Supreme Court decisions. After noting Roe v. Wade, Palin was apparently unable to discuss any major court cases. There was no verbal fumbling with this particular question as there was with some others, the aide said, but rather silence.
Forgot all about Exxon v. Baker already?

Funderburk Nation

Fort Mill [SC, Pop. 9400] Mayor Danny Funderburk says he was "just curious" when he forwarded a chain e-mail suggesting Democratic Presidential Candidate Barack Obama is the biblical antichrist. "I was just curious if there was any validity to it,” Funderburk said in a telephone interview. "I was trying to get documentation if there was any scripture to back it up."
Town official seeks correct exegesis on internets.

(Via Wonkette.)

There is no "the antichrist" in the Bible. There are "many," and they were all reportedly wandering around 1700 years ago. Shouldn't this clown be aware of that already? Even I know there is no such thing.

Just curious. Right. And there's a bridge in Ketchikan for sale.

The Pantagruel of Policy

A tip of the cheesehead (and six touchdown passes) to the estimable Thomas J., who discovered a spokesperson for Senator Joe Biden describing AK Gov. Sarah Palin as an "undefeated leviathan of forensics" in advance of the pair's debate this Thursday.

Submerging the bar

A McCain flack is already complaining about Thursday's debate, compelling proof that McCain adviser Senator Phil Gramm was at least partially correct about his "nation of whiners."

The true farce and disgrace

Conservatives — especially Arizona Senator John McCain — have been flailing about helplessly over a small point, dredged up from one of the Democratic primary debates, involving potential diplomatic talks between the United States and Iran.

Lately, it's come to involve Henry Kissinger, thanks to a September 15 conference among five former Secretaries of State, all of whom contradicted several foreign policy observations emanating from McCain and his painfully addled running soulmate, Sarah Palin.

While McCain should know better, Palin has only given evidence that she's never even thought about international relations before and her pronouncements would be irrelevant but for her placement in line for the U.S. presidency, a questionable judgment made by John McCain.

Since Barack Obama indicated that he would be open to diplomatic talks with a number of America's "enemies," he was criticized by Hillary Clinton and more recently by McCain and his supporters.

Other than for a cheap but unsupportable political shot, it isn't clear why, especially given the opinions of the former Secretaries of State. As for Kissinger, he attempted to backpedal away from his own remarks for the benefit of his "friend, John McCain," but to no avail.

The long and short of it is that the McCainiacs are very mistaken, if not in their own attitude toward engaging hostile states, which is a matter of perspective, but most certainly in their vain attempts to tar Barack Obama as lacking understanding and/or being naive.

Marc Ambinder has pulled together all of the relevant Kissinger remarks here. So has Christopher Hitchens — and then some — who wonders why either candidate is appealing to an "old blunderer and war criminal" in the first place.

But at least Senator Obama got it right, while McCain has the condescending gall to accuse Obama of "not understanding."

September 28, 2008

Those terrible lizards again

Here's testimony from another guy:
Soon after Sarah Palin was elected mayor of the foothill town of Wasilla, Alaska, she startled a local music teacher by insisting in casual conversation that men and dinosaurs coexisted on an Earth created 6,000 years ago — about 65 million years after scientists say most dinosaurs became extinct — the teacher said.
Fundamentalist beliefs.

To be fair (if that's the right word), this shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anyone. Lots of people share in that crackpot idiocy. It's just not a real positive indicator of critical thinking skills, which is something folks might value in an executive department leader.

I only hope it gets brought up on Thursday night.

More McPalin comedy.

Operation Enduring Apologetics

Marquette University law professor Rick Esenberg, by way of attempting a defense to Senator John McCain's allegedly superior foreign policy mastery, writes:
McCain underscored his advantage by chiding Obama for his statement that he would invade Afghanistan.
Obviously even Canada invaded Afghanistan nearly seven years ago and the subject of "invasion" was one of its next door neighbors, Pakistan. But Esenberg does point out one of the sillier occasions during Friday's "debate" between McCain and Barack Obama.

"You don't say that out loud," advised McCain, responding to Obama's suggestion that American forces would chase al-Qaeda leaders over the border into Pakistan if necessary.

Why not? This isn't exactly Geraldo Rivera diagramming specific troop movements in the sand for the benefit of Fox News viewers worldwide. It's a statement of general intent, and one that's been made by both President Bush and his 90% BFF John McCain.

There are complications in the tribal regions along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and it's practically a matter of common knowledge that local security forces are at least sympathetic to — if not protective of — the hardliners operating there.

McCain himself has said many times that he would follow Osama bin Laden & Co. "to the Gates of Hell." Would the non-cooperation of local militias and Pakistani intelligence services along the Roads to Hell prevent the relentlessly hawkish John McCain from doing so?

Of course not.

It's reminiscent of the conservative outrage over the New York Times's startling revelations that the U.S. government was listening in to overseas satellite phones, as if some military secrets had been disclosed. If you can operate a satellite phone, you're aware of the potential to be intercepted, much like a DirectTV subscriber praying against rain fade during the two-minute warning.

Prof. Esenberg and all the other GOP neocon apologists love it when John McCain gets to tough-talking but when Barack Obama does, he's "naive." It's quite the glaring double standard.

Speaking of Pakistan, foreign policy adept John McCain called it a "failed state" prior to the ascension to power of General Pervez Musharraf in 1999. Yet in 1999, wasn't McCain the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee? Surely he must have had some concerns about a "failed state" in possession of nuclear weapons.

September 27, 2008

Don't talk to Commies


John McCain's five-o'clock shadow ...

... will be the GOP nominee's muttering under his breath what sounds like "Horseshit ... horseshit" during last night's debate.*

But seriously, the Republican champion Fox News Network loves to roll out the Rasmussen Reports polls when all the others are showing the clear trends toward Barack Obama:

Obama 50% McCain 44%

And those numbers are from before the debate.

* Why do they call these things "debates" anyway. They aren't.

Henry Kissinger, ever the diplomat

It seems to me that one of the more significant episodes in last night's debate was John McCain struggling to tar — unsuccessfully — Barack Obama as a foreign policy naïf with respect to diplomatic relations, specifically with Iran.

Afterwards, Henry Kissinger tossed this out:
Senator McCain is right. I would not recommend the next President of the United States engage in talks with Iran at the Presidential level. My views on this issue are entirely compatible with the views of my friend Senator John McCain.
That's nice, but they're also "entirely compatible" with Obama's.

But that's not the point. Senator McCain's premises are that 1) Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is an irrational nutcase and 2) President Obama wants to sit down with and legitimize this irrational nutcase.

First of all, the president of the United States is not going to sit down with Ahmadinejad. If the president sat down with any Iranian leader, it would be Ali Khamenei, the U.S. president's political counterpart. But McCain never said anything about Ali Khamenei.

And Obama never said anything about any particular political figures at all. Obama's point is that the Bush administration's position, that Iran must meet several U.S. objectives — "preconditions" — before the U.S. will even begin talks, is counterproductive, especially when those very objectives would be the subject of the talks.

Much like the often articulated veiled threat of military force, that of "not ruling out any options," Obama is simply not prepared to rule out talks with Iran if, as he said, they would contribute to the enhanced security of America. That's the bottom line, after all, and one of the most important roles of the U.S. chief executive.

Obama's understanding is considerably broader than McCain's, or at least as it was on display last night. Russia and China, for instance, also have interests with Iran, and U.S. interests are tied up with all three. Simply ignoring — or demonizing, as the Palin/McCain ticket is bent on doing — one of those players is self-defeating.

All McCain has done is picked out a foreign leader, Ahmadinejad, who has said a number of really idiotic things to enliven his fanbase, and attempted to couple him with Obama. It's a cheap tactic, unworthy of a statesman, and completely misrepresents Obama's stated views.

As a matter of fact, in one respect, McCain is playing the same fearmongering games as is Ahmadinejad himself. Some folks might buy it, but I don't. And that's just one of the many reasons why McCain's performance last night was singularly unimpressive.

September 26, 2008

Dripping with condescension

I lost track of how many times John McCain said, "Senator Obama just doesn't understand." But not once did McCain prove it, and indeed Barack Obama proved it wrong time after time after time.

Pure condescension from John McCain. Very unpresidential and a losing debating strategy (or tactic, if you will). Unless you can prove it, which McCain couldn't do. Just saying it doesn't cut it.

A president doesn't need to be 72 years old, nor have spent 27 years in the Senate, as "Miss Congeniality" or otherwise. That constant claim, "Obama just doesn't understand," will be the theme of the imminent deconstruction of tonight's debate.

Because it's false and because McCain had little else to offer in the face of Obama's obvious, thoughtful grasp of foreign policy from the broad strokes to the specifics.

That claim and McCain's consistent misrepresentation of Obama's views. Meanwhile Obama was the antithesis of condescending. He was gracious, polite, and firm. Statesmanlike. McCain had to "win" tonight's debate. He didn't even come close to a "draw."

The Republican spin will be mighty entertaining. And desperate.

As an aside, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a clown. He's a convenient neocon demon, but he's a clown. Anybody who believes he would commit national suicide by dropping a bomb on Israel needs their head examined. And threatening to bomb Iran in the meantime, which both McCain and his running mate have done, is idiotic.

That is precisely the response that delights Ahmadinejad. He's a performer and a provocateur, but he's nobody's fool.

Jobs created in the trade sector

Hard to argue with ol' Cafferty.

Transcript: [unintelligible].

Howzabout a flowchart.

Gableman a conference no-show

Recently installed Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman failed to "reach out" to State public defenders on the first day of their annual conference in Milwaukee yesterday, but he was certainly there in spirit.

Gableman, who received his mandate from roughly 9.5% of the electorate while losing the county where he had been district attorney, told the Journal-Sentinel last month he "hoped to meet" with members of the criminal defense bar at the conference.

But while Gableman was nowhere to be found during such seminar presentations as "Update on the Confrontation Clause," his grim countenance hovered over an open forum devoted to discussing — inter alia — the princely sum of $40 an hour private attorneys are allowed to bill the State for representing indigent clients.

That fee, established by statute and unchanged since hi-test gasoline was less than $1.50 a gallon, is frequently the subject of the Wisconsin State Public Defender's budget requests. However, promising to increase it is often not a winning election issue for legislators for some reason.

And, as at least one lawyer remarked yesterday, it clearly doesn't help when a successful candidate for the Supreme Court bases practically his entire campaign on demonizing the role of the public defender which, like freedom of speech and religion, is guaranteed to penniless criminal defendants by the United States Constitution.

Despite this, the full-time public defenders continue in their efforts and private attorneys zealously guard the constitutional rights of less fortunate Wisconsin citizens for a comparative pittance.

Gableman still has several more $40 hours remaining to "reach out" to the public defenders, as the annual conference concludes today.

September 25, 2008

Palin pastor's peculiar pecuniary proposal

It's high time that we have top Christian businessmen, businesswomen, bankers, you know, who are men and women of integrity running the economics of our nations. That's what we are waiting for. That's part and parcel of transformation. If you look at the — you know — if you look at the Israelites, that's how they work. And that's how they are, even today.
Via Andrew Sullivan.

Curses! It's those dastardly Elders of Zion again.

Florida Flashback: Jews For Buchanan.

Why yes, yes it is.

We know that many cultural elites have a hard time embracing religion, but is it too much to ask that they at least show some manners when discussing subjects [such as witchcraft] which most Americans hold dear? — Wild Bill Donohue
Witchcraft: A sad reality resulting in scores of deaths.

Screamin' Jay HawkinsLittle Demon


That’s why I say I, like every American I’m speaking with, we're ill about this position that we have been put in, where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out.

But ultimately, what the bail-out does is help those who are concerned about the health care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy.

Helping ... oh! ... it’s got to be all about job creation too, shoring up our economy, and putting it back on the right track.

So health care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans.

And trade, we have got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive scary thing, but one in five jobs created in the trade sector today. We’ve got to look at that as more opportunity. All of those things under the umbrella of job creation.

Supposedly a serious candidate for the vice presidency
This is just flat-out embarrassing.

What I'd like to know is, in which sector were those other four out of five jobs created. But at least Sarah Palin understands that reducing taxes has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief.

The accidental populist

For months, John McCain has been trying to goad Barack Obama into attending his "town hall" meetings, events where McCain wanders around fielding softballs bunted by tiny gaggles of partisan yokels. (Sample question: "How do we stop The Bitch?")

Obviously Obama has several far better things to do, such as run his own presidential campaign, and has rightfully laughed off McCain's silly ploy.

Now, literally on the eve of the first of three nationally televised presidential debates with only a month remaining until the next quadrennial general election, McCain claims he is "suspending" his campaign, a move that is nothing except more campaigning.

Facing tanking poll numbers and a running mate continuously revealed as a clueless, hapless novice despite his campaign's best efforts to shield her from scrutiny — including a hijacking-by-lawyer of a State's legislative process — this is by far McCain's most cynical maneuver yet.

Suddenly McCain, who has missed 412 of the last 643 Senate votes — 100 more missed votes than Tim Johnson of South Dakota, who was out with a brain hemorrhage for eight months — wants you to believe that Congress can't function without him.

In fact that belief is so manifestly ridiculous, the only person who's buying it is Joe Lieberman, a former Democrat who received a standing ovation at a slightly larger gaggle of partisan yokels called the Republican National Convention.

That was also where Sarah Palin, the governor of a State containing fewer people than Winnipeg, Manitoba, delivered her "masterwork" of a prepared stump speech. Since then, Palin has mouthed the exact same series of cornball quips and outright falsehoods to her sudden fans, 99% of whom had never heard of her before last month.

And also since then, Palin was carefully released from her protective cocoon precisely thrice: once for a brief luv-a-fair with a desperately fawning Sean Hannity, once for an embarrassing encounter with Charles Gibson, and yesterday for an appearance with Katie Couric so horrifyingly cringe-inducing that McCain is evidently prepared to do anything to avoid placing her in an extemporaneous situation even with a notorious "gaffe machine," Senator Joe Biden.

McCain had already attempted to jerry-rig the rules of the October 2 debate with Biden so that Palin would only be subjected to regurgitating a set of index cards prepared by her harried coaches. That didn't work, although McCain did obtain some concessions.

Now, by attempting to reschedule tomorrow's debate to October 2 and putting off the vice-presidential version indefinitely, McCain is effectively owning up to the brazen farce that is his running soulmate, an individual so inept she can't even be trusted to fill in for her prospective executive department boss on a late night comedy talk show (much to the amusement/dismay of its host).

John McCain is but one of 100 Senators, and but one of 535 members of Congress. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives have already been working on legislation meant to address the current economic "crisis" since McCain was out declaring that same economy's "fundamentals are strong." He's also had 27 years to do something about it previously, but fought tooth and nail against regulating corporate excess at every opportunity.

Now he wants us to believe he can descend from the Washington, D.C. clouds like the Second Coming, the reincarnation of Fightin' Bob La Follette but with eight more houses and 12 more SUVs and a beer heiress in tow bedecked with $280,000 worth of precious jewels.

To single-handedly save the economy, something even John McCain admits he knows very little about. Who's buying this, apart from McCain's toady, Joe Lieberman? Nobody, that's who.

September 24, 2008

John McCain's non-rebuttal

The McCain campaign has issued an amusing attempt at flaccid rebuttal to a report that appeared in the New York Times yesterday.

Read carefully:
As has been previously reported, Mr. Davis separated from his consulting firm, Davis Manafort, in 2006. As has been previously reported, Mr. Davis has seen no income from Davis Manafort since 2006. Zero. Mr. Davis has received no salary or compensation since 2006. Mr. Davis has received no profit or partner distributions from that firm on any basis — weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, semi-annual or annual — since 2006. Again, zero. Neither has Mr. Davis received any equity in the firm based on profits derived since his financial separation from Davis Manafort in 2006.
Yes, we know that, and the Times never suggested otherwise.

What the Times (and Newsweek) did report, however, is that Rick Davis's company had been receiving a monthly $15,000 stipend — that Davis himself "negotiated" — right up until last month.

The McCain camp has not denied any of that, and it's pretty clear that Davis Manafort has been receiving the payments based solely on Rick Davis's close association with John McCain, candidate for president. Davis himself admits that he did nothing else in support of their receipt. And nobody in their right mind believes these were charitable donations made with no expectations of some result.

That Davis has since separated himself from his own company and its equity on paper in the meantime is not particularly relevant. Unless Davis is not planning on reuniting himself with his own firm and its equity at some point in the future, the McCain campaign's objections to the Times' reporting are considerably less than potent.

The hundreds of thousands of accumulated greenbacks are sitting there waiting for Rick Davis just as soon as he resumes his association with Davis Manafort. It was John McCain who decided to make this an issue in the first place, continued on with it by daring reporters to look deeper, and now he's reaping his own rewards.

This is a campaign in serious disarray, reduced to sophomoric feuding with a single newspaper and photo ops with Irish pop stars.

A compelling argument

The Journal-Sentinel reports on a two-hour Milwaukee Public Schools hearing last night on the question of extending employee benefits beyond spouses to include domestic partners.

The hearing, which was open to the public, attracted about 60 people, equally divided between supporters and opponents. The supporters spoke of civil rights and equal protection of the law, and attracting the best teachers with competitive remuneration.

The detractors? They condemned the idea as an abomination in the eyes of God. One even played the Rick Santorum man-on-dog card.

A committee nevertheless voted 3-2 to move ahead with the abominating, one more godless step toward the End Times and the complete destruction of Western civilization as we know it.

One of the two votes was cast by Charlene Hardin, whose presence at a board-funded conference junket to Philadelphia in July consisted of turning up at the eleventh hour to fill plastic bags with cookies and snacks and complain "loudly" that all the free zoo passes were gone.

Mike Mathias explains that the hearing was preceded with a righteous call to arms broadcast by some community organizers from Milwaukee's local fundamentalist Christian radio station, WVCY.

It's true, they do tend to get rather excited by the gays.

September 23, 2008

McCain campaign will get sleazier

Reports London's Financial Times.

And in equally astonishing news, Clay Aiken is gay.

NYT vets Rick Davis. Again.

One of the giant mortgage companies at the heart of the credit crisis paid $15,000 a month from the end of 2005 through last month to a firm owned by Senator John McCain’s campaign manager.

Freddie Mac’s roughly $500,000 in payments to [Rick] Davis & Manafort began immediately after Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae in late 2005 disbanded an advocacy coalition that they had set up and hired Mr. Davis to run.

On Sunday, Mr. McCain said that his campaign manager "has had nothing to do with it since [2005], and I’ll be glad to have his record examined by anybody who wants to look at it."
Seems as though somebody took him up on that offer.

Poor John McCain. He decided to try and make an issue out of Barack Obama's alleged connections to the failed mortgage outfits and, as Jeremiah Wright would say, "the chickens have come home to roost."

That's cash paid to a firm that Rick Davis owns, for doing nothing other than having a close connection with McCain, cash paid by a firm that taxpayers (read: voters) are now being asked to bail out.

Pop star Bono to enhance Palin's credibility

Photos good, questions bad.

This candidacy is such an obvious farce it's amazing that anyone actually takes it seriously. What are they thinking?

And what is the McCain campaign afraid of? This surely never would have happened with Christie Todd Whitman.

BREAKING: Hamid Karzai was not wearing his famed Karakul cap, which is fashioned from the downy skins of aborted lamb fetuses.

September 20, 2008

Palin pipeline or pipe dream?

Here are some more reasons why Sarah Palin's 1700-mile natural gas pipeline may never get built. Indigenous peoples and their lawyers:
Liz Logan, chief of a First Nations umbrella group in British Columbia, told NEWSWEEK that TransCanada, the company Palin's administration selected to pursue the project, has "very much downplayed the extent of the legal difficulties they face in Canada." One of Canada's top pipeline experts, Professor Andre Plourde of the University of Alberta, agrees that the seven-year timetable proposed by Palin's lawyers for sorting out First Nations claims is "optimistic indeed."
Well of course TransCanada downplayed the legal difficulties. It stands to make off with a whole hockey sock full of government greenbacks: $500 million of them. And who says legal difficulties are bad, anyway? Legal difficulties are good — for lawyers.
In an interview with NEWSWEEK, Patrick Galvin, Palin's revenue commissioner, conceded that "there are risks associated with this project … Nobody has said that this project is absolutely going to happen, guaranteed."
What, then, was this supposed to mean:
I fought to bring about the largest private-sector infrastructure project in North American history. And when that deal was struck, we began a nearly forty billion dollar natural gas pipeline.
If it might never get built, how could it have already begun?

Fortunately the GOP fixers have negotiated some special debate rules for Sarah Palin, so she might not have to answer that question.

Why Todd Palin will not testify

Because, according to one of the numerous Palin-McCain campaign lawyers emergency-airlifted into the State of Alaska, Todd Palin "no longer believes the Legislature's investigation is legitimate."

So what? And who made him Chief Magistrate?

Better known by the alias

Michael Horne is always thinking.

September 19, 2008

Palin Yahoo! hacker is pals with The Hoff

Ah, the internets.

Where are the retractions?

The other day, conservative blogger and low rent AM radio squawker "Special" Ed Morrissey boldly asserted:
Barack Obama went to Iraq and interfered with the diplomatic efforts of the elected United States government, in a war zone no less, by telling the Iraqis to stop negotiating with the President.
Quite a serious charge, yes? Predictably, the usual inseparable pack of credulous right-wing blowhards picked up and ran with the claim, which originated in the lubricious pages of the New York Post.

In fact, among the cast of characters who put it to use was John McCain's own senior foreign policy adviser, Randy Scheunemann.

There's only one little problem: Except for the first five words, it's utterly and demonstrably false.

ABC's Jake Tapper sorts it out here, and asks
why the McCain campaign was so willing to give credence to such a questionable story with such tremendous international implications without first talking to Republicans present at Obama’s meeting with [Iraqi P.M. Nouri] al-Maliki, who back Obama’s version of the meeting and completely dismiss the Post column as untrue.
That's a damn good question.

You know, the molecules

Oil and coal? Of course, it’s a fungible commodity and they don’t flag, you know, the molecules, where it’s going and where it’s not. But in the sense of the Congress today, they know that there are very, very hungry domestic markets that need that oil first. So, I believe that what Congress is going to do, also, is not to allow the export bans to such a degree that it’s Americans that get stuck to holding the bag without the energy source that is produced here, pumped here. It’s got to flow into our domestic markets first. — Sarah Palin
Energy. She knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America. — John McCain
Like I said, parody is superfluous.

A moment of McCainian hubris

Conservative Republicans, who most of the time derive great pleasure from distrusting and castigating the "mainstream media," occasionally find it convenient to depend heavily on it.

For example, a John McCain campaign spot refers to former Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines as advising Barack Obama on "mortgage and housing policy. Shocking." "Bad advice. Bad instincts," the ad concludes. "Not ready to lead."

John McCain relies for these tidbits on an item in the Washington Post. This is news — to both Obama and Raines.

In fact, Raines had sent an e-mail message to Carly Fiorina, who really is a McCain adviser — or was until she was unceremoniously "disappeared" — that read, "I am not an adviser to the Obama campaign. Frank."

Turns out Franklin Raines once took a "couple of calls from someone" with the Obama campaign, and this offhand remark during a photo shoot made him into an official Obama economic adviser for the purposes of a puff-profile in the paper's "Style" section.

Which was close enough to truth for John McCain's "good instincts."

September 18, 2008

God damn Mama Jane

This fruitcake makes Jeremiah Wright look like Immanuel Kant.

When He Returns

McCain Will Defeat Evil, Greed

Yet Obama is the one with messianic tendencies. Please.

GOP ticket presides over record inflation

Of the facts, that is. Again with the pipeline: "I got agreements through competition to build a nearly $40 billion natural gas pipeline," according to Sarah Palin yesterday. There are no such agreements, there was one bidder, and that bidder's estimate was $26 billion.

The dead pitbull bounce

The latest NYT/CBS News poll gives evidence that America has regained its senses, having caught a whiff of the Palin-McCain roadshow, a burlesque that has rendered parody superfluous.

Moments ago, the breathless "Friends" of Fox and Friends touted Alaska governor Sarah Palin's having "taken a question" at an event yesterday. More than two weeks after Palin was cynically plucked from cryogenic obscurity, it's actually big news that Palin has "taken a question" — from the Fox and friendly Republican faithful.

The question concerned Palin's demonstrated ineptitude in foreign affairs. “If you want specifics with specific policy or countries, go ahead and you can ask me, you can even play ’stump the candidate’ if you want to," came the reply.

Needless to say, it didn't happen. A bit later, however, Spanish reporters got to play it with John McCain, who got stumped badly, by proving either he doesn't know who the prime minister of that country is, or else he's still pissed off at the Spaniards for suffering one of the worst terrorist attacks in European history.

The NYT/CBS News poll shows the overall national figures returned from whence they stood pre-party conventions, along with some other unsurprising results. To wit, that "Palin’s selection has, to date, helped Mr. McCain only among Republican base voters" and marked "concern about Ms. Palin’s qualifications to be president."

It also demonstrates that a large majority of Americans are hip to McCain's cynical chicanery: "75 percent said they thought Mr. McCain had picked Ms. Palin more to help him win the election than because he thought that she was well qualified to be president."

And, perhaps most importantly, that McCain is "widely viewed as a 'typical Republican' who would continue or expand President Bush’s policies." McCain, a member of Congress for nearly 27 years including the chairmanship of some its most powerful finance committees, is now trundling around the country claiming that he is best suited to fix the very crisis he and his top economic advisors helped create.

De-re-de-regulation, or something.

Furthermore, the oft-repeated Republican trope that Palin is to win the support of "white women" is a farce, despite the best efforts of non-elite members of the Rothschild family of international bankers.

Meanwhile back in Seward's Folly, whose governor conducts official business from a Yahoo! e-mail account, teams of Republican lawyers were airlifted in to block an abuse of power investigation with which but scant weeks ago Sarah Palin had pledged to fully cooperate.

Goodbye to all that.

In a remarkable repudiation of federalism, a constitutional principle to which McCain has repeatedly expressed undying devotion, attorneys representing his presidential campaign have taken control of a bipartisan State legislative inquiry, and McCain's fixers actually have the gall to blame the legislature's conduct on Barack Obama.

And some of the lawyers were supplied by an outfit affiliated with Colorado religulous nut James "Satan Drives a Porsche" Dobson.

Americans are not as dumb as McCain spinmeister Tucker Bounds seems to be counting on, and the Palin-McCain carnival will most likely continue to prove how wrong he and the rest of them are.

September 17, 2008

Château Effete de Rothschild

Considerable levity was obtained (again) thanks to someone called Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, a bigtime Palin-McCain supporter.

Didn't much care for Barack Obama. "He radiates elitism," as she told the Times of London earlier. Lady Lynn did prefer the apparently less radiant Sir Evelyn Robert Adrian de Rothschild, the second husband* who, at age 77, is 23 years her senior.

Among Sir Evelyn's accomplishments:
Born into great wealth, Evelyn de Rothschild became one of England's most eligible bachelors, spending his youth traveling, socializing, driving exotic sports cars, enjoying thoroughbred horse racing, and playing polo.
The Rothschilds may not own as many homes as John McCain, but that one of them is Ascott House in Buckinghamshire, which is decorated with oil paintings by Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough, counts for at least three Phoenix condominiums.

* The first husband took to dating Ann Coulter.

In what respect, Mikheil?

During her interview with ABC's Charles Gibson, vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin described Moscow's action against its onetime subsidiary state Georgia last month as "unprovoked."

She went on to suggest that had the former Soviet republic been a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization at the time, America would have "perhaps" found itself at war with Russia.

Fortunately for the Alaskan governor, Gibson changed the subject before Palin could address exactly what the potentially disastrous implications of such a conflict and its escalation might be.

Senator John McCain, who hopes to ride the coattails of Sarah Palin's own extravagantly outsized ambitions to the U.S. presidency, unequivocally supported Georgia's leader, Mikheil Saakashvili, pronouncing then, "We're all Georgians today."

Comes now a lengthy report in the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel revealing the spectacular naïveté of both Republican candidates' irresponsible politicking along with their ill-informed saber-rattling.
According to this [NATO] intelligence information, the Georgians amassed roughly 12,000 troops on the border with South Ossetia on the morning of Aug. 7.

At 10:35 p.m. on Aug. 7, less than an hour before Russian tanks entered the Roki Tunnel, according to Saakashvili, Georgian forces began their artillery assault on Tskhinvali.

The intelligence agencies conclude that the Russian army did not begin firing until 7:30 a.m. on Aug. 8 [and] did not begin marching through the Roki Tunnel until roughly 11 a.m. This sequence of events is now seen as evidence that Moscow did not act offensively, but merely reacted.
As noted previously, Saakashvili's escapade was in the works long before August 7, according to his former defense minister.

And there's quite a bit more to it than that, obviously, as evidenced by Der Spiegel's rightfully inquisitive headline:

Sarah Palin also mentioned that she'd once spoken to Mikheil Saakashvili on the telephone. She may have yet to meet a foreign leader — apart from a day trip to visit the Premier of Yukon — but it's certainly beginning to appear that she's already been duped by one. And so has John McCain, from the looks of it.

Which is not real encouraging on either of their behalfs.

No Eucharist for you

Conservative Republican law professor Douglas Kmiec, on being publicly snubbed by his own Church for the grievous sin of expressing support for Barack Obama:
Right there in that moment every Catholic good deed and good thought and good wish of love of neighbor that I once had seemed inconsequential and insufficient. Like a child feeling unfairly disciplined, but disciplined nonetheless, I pleaded with empty hand outstretched: "I think you're making a mistake, Father." His red complexion redder now, betraying righteous anger. His stretched hand over the top of the Ciborium, the container for the consecrated bread as if I was going to grab a handful and make a run for it, and then the pronouncement: "No, you are the one who made the mistake."
The Day I Was Denied Communion.

See also Emily Mills's tale of the Verona, WI music director fired from the Catholic Church simply because he happens to be gay.

Fiorina gets a golden muzzle

Top John McCain economic adviser Carly Fiorina was banished to the penalty box yesterday after insisting to reporters that neither her boy nor his small town protégé is fit to run a corporation even a fraction of the size of the federal executive department.

Meanwhile, both McCain and running soulmate Sarah Palin blamed Monday's 500 point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Fiorina, who three years ago received $45 million and the contents of her desk drawers in a cardboard box to get her to stop showing up for work at Hewlett-Packard.

Earlier, Ms. Fiorina had been offended by two comediennes impersonating two female politicians, saying it was "sexist."

September 16, 2008

What in the world is Sullivan talking about

Obama tries to silence his critics. This is a disgraceful attempt to intimidate journalists trying to get at facts and air them. There is nothing to fear from journalists asking questions or raising issues that campaigns should be eager to engage and refute if necessary.
Huh? Silence? Intimidate?
There is nothing to fear from callers to AM radio shows asking questions or raising issues that "journalists" [sic] should be eager to engage and refute if necessary.
There, fixed.

Engaging and refuting is all they were trying to do. Andrew Sullivan is all mixed up from reading those crazy internets libertarians. Also, if I see "oil pipeline" one more time I'm just going to scream.

John McCain invented the abacus

Don't they know RIM is a Canadian company?

Free speech under assault!!!!11

AK nut-right radio squawker suspended without pay
Last week Eddie Burke, host of a conservative daily talk show in Anchorage, called rally organizers Charla Sterne and Ilona Bessenyey "socialist, baby-killing maggots," read their phone numbers on the air and encouraged listeners to call them. The women said their voice mail quickly filled with angry, profane messages, some of them threatening.
Those wacky, madcap values voters! Always with the japes.

Quite the little jamboree they had up there anyway.

Because you can't get here from there

Before her election as governor, Palin opposed the idea of routing the pipeline through Canada, a version of which her predecessor, Frank Murkowski, had advocated. Instead she pushed for what she and other proponents called an "all-Alaska" pipeline — one that would go to the Alaskan port city of Valdez, from which the gas could be shipped to market [after being liquefied].

She even appeared in advertisements endorsing the all-Alaska option, and on the wall of her gubernatorial campaign headquarters in 2006 was a sign saying, "Canada my ass, it’s Alaska’s gas."
That didn't last long.

Less than meets the eyeCQ Politics

"This was a terrible blunder." — Walter J. Hickel

Sarah Paluxy man tracks

Here's an entertaining profile at of one Howard Bess, a retired Baptist minister from the Mat-Su Valley of Alaska and author of a book called Pastor, I Am Gay. Of note:
I pushed [Sarah Palin] on the earth's creation, whether it was really less than 7,000 years old and whether dinosaurs and humans walked the earth at the same time. And she said yes, she'd seen images somewhere of dinosaur fossils with human footprints in them.
Yes, we've all seen them. They're a fraud. So much of a fraud that only the wildest of young earth creationists even mention them.

Why does Charlie Sykes hate free speech?

Milwaukee medium wave buffoon Charlie Sykes is beside himself that supporters of Barack Obama would dare to call in to a Chicago call-in radio show and challenge a notorious right-wing dissembler, David Freddoso.

OBAMA'S SPEECH THUGS STRIKE AGAIN, bellows Sykes. What's that all about? Apparently advance news of David Freddoso's appearance elicited this outrageous "Obama Action Wire":
Call into the "Extension 720" show with Milt Rosenberg tonight, September 15th, between 9:00 and 11:00 p.m. at (312) 591-7200.

Be honest, but be civil.

Be persistent. It may take a few attempts to get through to the show. Just keep trying. Your call is important.

Use the talking points below to help you speak confidently and concisely.
So what? In America, it's called "free speech." When people lie, you counter them. And 720 kHz is on a public portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, not incidentally.

But Charlie Sykes would obviously prefer the lies and the smears to stand unchallenged. Besides, Rosenberg could always do what Sykes does with callers who dissent from his nonsense — hang up on them.
Freddoso's embarrassing excuse for a critique has received virtually no critical attention, thanks to the right-wing press promoting it and the compliant mainstream outlets. A fawning story in the Politico called Freddoso's book "serious" and "a fact-based critique." According to the Politico, it occupies "a small island in the often-shrill sea of criticism of Obama." In reality, Freddoso's book is one more example of that polluted sea of criticism, filled with numerous factual errors, unproven innuendo, guilt by association attacks, and lunatic conspiracy theories that would be laughable if not for the seriousness of these false accusations.
David Freddoso's Hatchet Job.

"Leave David Freddoso alone!" wept Charlie Sykes.

September 15, 2008

Definitely not your father's GOP

h/t gnarlytrombone.

Bridges to nowhere

Remember Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's "masterwork" of a speech to the True Believers™ at the Republican National Convention?
Alluding to [Barack] Obama's stated willingness to personally meet with Iranian leaders as president, Palin charged, "Terrorist states are seeking nuclear weapons without delay; he wants to meet them without preconditions."

Her words were greeted by a chorus of appreciative laughter.
Hilarious! Meanwhile, back on Planet Earth ...
Five former secretaries of state, gathering to give their best advice to the next president, agreed Monday that the United States should talk to Iran.

The Bush administration has dragged its feet on even minimal contact with Iran under hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a course the five former secretaries of state implicitly criticized.
Which was Obama's point, I believe.

Then there was Palin's remark to ABC's Charles Gibson that America mustn't "second guess" Israel's exercising military options against Iran. Take it away, Warren Christopher et al:
Nor did [the five former secretaries of state] suggest the United States should keep its distance out of concern for Israel, which Ahmadinejad has said "one day will be wiped off the map."

"The military options are very poor," Christopher said. "And we have to tell the Israelis that."
As for Sarah Palin's claim that Russia's recent adventure in Georgia was "unprovoked":
It was "foolhardy," [Colin Powell] said, for Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili to "light a match" with a military operation in South Ossetia to forcibly reassert its authority over the breakaway region.
So what experience does Sarah Palin have in the field of national security to offset the foregoing daftness?

Sez John McCain: "Energy. She knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America."

But just the other day Palin claimed that Alaska supplies "nearly 20%" of U.S. domestic energy. Whoops. Not even close. Sorry about that, Chief. Would you believe a childhood love of cows?

September 14, 2008

About that "unprovoked attack"

Both Republican presidential candidates, campaigning on their foreign affairs expertise, characterized Russia's August military response against the former Georgian S.S.R. as "unprovoked."

Not exactly, according to somebody who might know:
Irakly Okruashvili, a close ally of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili who served as defense minister from 2004 to 2006, said he and the president worked together on military plans to invade South Ossetia and a second breakaway region on the Black Sea coast, Abkhazia.

"Abkhazia was our strategic priority, but we drew up military plans in 2005 for taking both Abkhazia and South Ossetia as well," Okruashvili said.


September 13, 2008

Racing stripe on a turd

I was only half-joking over a rationalization intended to present Sarah Palin as the "sole occupier in the field of lipstick imagery and metaphor," but apparently a local Republican politician is dead serious about it.

"Right now we think Sarah owns the name of lipstick," said a State Senator from the posh Milwaukee North Shore suburb of River Hills who owns the names of Alberta and Darling.

Meanwhile The View's Joy Behar and Barbara Walters forced John McCain to finally admit that when he described "putting lipstick on a pig," he wasn't talking about Senator Hillary Clinton, he was only making reference to her health care proposals.

No double standard there, nope. Not at all.

"Senator Obama chooses his words very carefully, okay? He shouldn't have said it," McCain admonished The View's hosts.

Actually it's McCain and his sleazy campaign managers who choose Obama's words carefully, exercises in cherry picking, quote mining, and deliberate distortion that would make a creationist blush.

Here's a round-up of McCain's most recent lies and falsehoods.

The Straight Talkin' McCain followed up his visit to The View with one to teevee chef Rachael Ray, who his own defenders have accused of supporting Palestinian terrorists.

September 12, 2008

Palin's perfectly perfect!

Milwaukee's leading apologist for Sarah Palin, law professor Rick Esenberg, sizes up the candidate's glaring unfamiliarity with any version of the so-called "Bush Doctrine." He makes an admirably chivalrous attempt at rescuing her from a faux pas especially shocking, given the position her outsized ambition is seeking.

Prof. Esenberg claims that ABC's Charles Gibson, who conducted an interview with Palin broadcast yesterday, was "owned."
One of things that I try to do as a law professor is break down generalizations into their comprehensible parts. Palin's request that he do so was perfectly reasonable.

But [Gibson] wouldn't do it because he wanted — just knew he could — [to] show her up. So much for intellectual subtlety. So she restated the question in a way that was, given his refusal to tell her what he meant, perfectly accurate and perfectly favorable to her side of the debate.
No, not hardly. She didn't ask Gibson to break anything into any parts; she didn't have a clue what Gibson was even referring to.

She effectively demonstrated that she had never heard a U.S. president's surname connected to the word "doctrine" at all, as I suspect most high schoolers have.

When Gibson asked for her observations on the Bush Doctrine, Palin was clearly stumped, and wondered whether by Bush Doctrine Gibson meant George W. Bush's "worldview."

So the issue isn't whether Palin was familiar with some version of a Bush Doctrine, as Esenberg purports to argue, although she proved convincingly that she had no idea what any such version might be, let alone having anything resembling an opinion of same.

The point is that Palin was so obviously baffled by the very existence of presidential foreign policy "doctrines" at all. As in, Monroe, Eisenhower, Reagan, etc. They aren't personal "worldviews."

Ronald Reagan's personal worldview was informed by horoscopes, prayer, and Hal Lindsey-style Armageddon, but thankfully those things played no part in any Reagan Doctrine. We hope.

Now we have the Esenberg Doctrine: Defend the indefensible, and shoot the journalist while you're at it.

With a straight face, even

Interviewer: What experience does [Sarah Palin] have in the field of national security?

John McCain: Energy. She knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America.

Following the Palin pipeline

The New York Times ran a fairly substantial article yesterday on the proposed natural gas pipeline between Prudhoe Bay, AK and southern Alberta, the gist of which is that Sarah Palin massively overstated the current status of the project during her "masterwork" of a speech to the Republican faithful at their national convention.

That in itself is not surprising, as Gov. Palin has a demonstrated penchant for overstatement, exaggeration, and untruth.

A more significant aspect of the story is the second thoughts some Republican legislators in Alaska seem to be having for the process by which the State went about selecting the successful licensee, TransCanada Corp. of Calgary.

As I mentioned earlier, and the Times article isn't clear about, TransCanada was the only bidder. That appears to be at least one Alaska legislator's concern:
Lyda Green, a Republican and president of the State Senate, voted for Ms. Palin’s Alaska Gasline Inducement Act [AGIA] but said that in the interim, it has not “shown itself to be open and competitive, and it is a very expensive risk.”

“I regret the vote now,” she said last week.
In other words, the AGIA had the effect of excluding every potential bidder except for TransCanada.

While four other firms submitted applications, all were rejected for nonconformances with the AGIA. Two others declined to submit applications at all, and the oil companies that actually own the mining leases on the gas submitted alternate proposals which the Palin administration also rejected out of hand.

Therefore Alaska didn't even have one other bid with which to compare to TransCanada's on equal terms. That's an odd way of doing business, and most purchasing agents might revisit the terms of the request for bids to try and find some way to include more players in order to evaluate them on more closely competitive grounds.

Especially for a project of this size; that is, a massive one.

Now it turns out that one of Palin's top team members is a former lobbyist for Foothills Pipeline, Ltd., a subsidiary of TransCanada.

But, as the Times story suggests, a politician looks good running around shouting about standing up to "Big Oil." Except in this case, "Big Oil" is still very much in the game and Alaska may end up forking out $500 million without getting one stick of pipe in the ground.

And all of this, we are told, is the centerpiece of Gov. Palin's "executive experience." The Palin Doctrine, as it were.

Or, as the Report on Business puts it this morning, in discussing the project's Canadian hurdles, "The beauty of this from her point of view as a politician on the campaign trail in 2008 is that it could be years before anyone knows for sure."

September 11, 2008

Nine one one oh one

Alongside millions of others, I spent the morning of September 11, 2001, watching the teevee in equal parts horror and disbelief. CBS News was perhaps the first network to broadcast unedited amateur video and audio of the planes hitting the World Trade Center.

It was the first — and likely the last — time I'd heard someone yell “Jesus fucking Christ!” on network television. That pretty much summed up my initial reaction as well.

In the afternoon I had fortuitous occasion to be in a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee political science class called “Conduct of American Foreign Affairs” taught by Prof. Steven B. Redd. It was both timely and extremely helpful in terms of putting the morning's events in larger perspective.

While Prof. Redd was — and presumably still is — an unapologetic conservative Republican, I don't recall any attempt on his part to equate the views of the immediate suspect, Osama bin Laden, with the positions of the political left or Democratic leaders in Congress.

Nor were there any intimations of placing the blame for the bloodthirsty, murderous attacks at the feet of “Pagans, Gays, and the ACLU,” as the late, unlamented Jerry Falwell and the not-yet-late but otherwise similarly unlamented Pat Robertson did.

But he did do an exemplary job at facilitating fruitful discussion.

Every once in awhile we need to be reminded that there are thoughtful and even scholarly conservative Republicans, as opposed to the contingent of reactionary dimwits that populates the blogosphere and wake up every morning to go and genuflect before what Michelle Malkin commands them to be outraged about today.

Prof. Redd was so fair minded, in fact, that he awarded me a 96 for a paper arguing in favor of U.S. ratification of the Rome Treaty establishing the International Criminal Court, compared and contrasted with President Bush's Executive Order of November 13, 2001, which authorized the creation of military tribunals to hear cases against suspected al-Qaeda members.

It was a position, I suspect, in diametric opposition to his own.

I believe I lost the four remaining points mostly for formatting errors, although Prof. Redd did mildly chastise me for referring to Bush's power to institute the tribunals as “newly minted.”

I don't remember whether I subsequently defended myself over the use of the expression, which was partly facetious and mostly a response to the administration's attempt to equate the present tribunals with those established by the F. Roosevelt presidency.

Because, from a strictly constitutional perspective, Roosevelt's executive power was enhanced by a formal declaration of war by Congress, whereas the current administration's is not.

As for the formatting errors, I ascribe them to the fact that the paper was due only a couple of days after Bush's Executive Order appeared, and its issuance necessitated a drastic reorganization and rewrite of the material I had assembled to that point. There was a good deal of the proverbial midnight oil burnt, as I recall (a gallon of it was a lot cheaper then, too).

In retrospect I probably should have been awarded those remaining four points, because several of the military tribunals' constitutional infirmities that I described in my paper have since been recognized by a number of federal courts, including the highest one.

The moral of the story is that it didn't matter, in those days, whether you were a conservative Republican or a raving Trotskyite lobbying for aspects of world government. One of the effects of 9/11 was that it united Americans to a common purpose.

Indeed, it brought about a remarkable confluence of sympathetic international opinion toward the United States of America, including from the French and possibly even from Canadians.

And those days, of course, are long gone, thanks in large part to the Bush administration's “Conduct of American Foreign Affairs.”

Nevertheless, the memories of this day are not so easily shaken.

September 10, 2008

More McCain dishonesty

This item is by one of the journalists misleadingly cherry-picked for John McCain's sleazy television ad, "Education."
The ad itself doesn't bother explaining how the candidates differ on school vouchers, the subject of my column. Instead, it insults our intelligence by expecting us to believe that Obama thinks kindergarteners should be taught how to use condoms before they're taught to read.

This commercial doesn't tell us much about Obama. But it sure provides an education about McCain. has more.

"Serious distortions" — NYT

Today's John McCain is not the one I used to admire.

John McCain: "Above the fray"

Marquette University law professor Rick Esenberg, at the conclusion of a comic rationalization designed to portray Sarah Palin as the sole occupier in the field of lipstick imagery and metaphor, confidently pronounces: "And all the while, John McCain remains above the fray."

Is that so.

If by "above the fray" he means baldly lying about Barack Obama as favoring "comprehensive sex education" for kindergarteners, a bogus trope exhumed and recycled from Alan Keyes's abysmal failure of a 2004 Senate campaign, then I guess that counts as "above the fray."

Here's some information on the "Age Appropriate Sex Education Grant Program," the latest — as in, most legible — version of a State bill that Barack Obama, while an Illinois senator, deliberated on (neither sponsored nor, as John McCain's "approved message" falsely puts it, "accomplished") in committee, including a link to the full text of the proposed legislation.

For example:
Requires all instruction to be age appropriate

Requires teaching that abstinence is the only sure way to avoid pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted diseases

Allows for local control — local schools and other community groups still decide what they teach while this program gives them more choices

Arms youth with information on how to avoid unwanted verbal, physical and sexual advances, and in addition, on how not to make those advances
Horrifying, yes?

The last point, in fact, was Obama's main concern with the kindergarten set, and most definitely not that they would be treated to "comprehensive sex education," as he explained several years ago.

Indeed, the same concerns addressed in comic books distributed to the Cub Scouts. Is John McCain going to lie about them next?

Above the fray? Not quite. More like headlong into the gutter.

More selective, phony outrage

Right-wing bloggers can be a pretty pathetic, grasping bunch.

Barack Obama:
John McCain says he’s about change, too — except for economic policy, health care policy, tax policy, education policy, foreign policy and Karl Rove-style politics. That’s just calling the same thing something different. You can put lipstick on a pig; it’s still a pig.
The "pig" obviously being — to anyone with adequate cognitive functions, at least — the aforementioned policies and the "lipstick" John McCain's recent and sudden alleged devotion to "change."

Have John McCain and his faux-outraged supporters never heard this ancient, hackneyed expression before? They should have:
When asked about Mrs. Clinton [after] his speech, [McCain] said her proposal was "eerily" similar to the plan she came up with in 1993, when she headed a health care reorganization effort during her husband’s administration. "I think they put some lipstick on a pig," he said, "but it’s still a pig."
Anybody accuse John McCain of referring to Mrs. Clinton herself?

Didn't think so.

September 9, 2008

Welcome back, Leon Young

To Wisconsin's 16th Assembly District (a.k.a. "home").
The Recess Supervisor celebrates.
MySpace friends fail in Ass. bid.
Fake democrats beaten like gongs.

No more Laphroaig and Cohibas for you

Mr Kim is absent from military paradeBBC

Sarah Palin Truth Squad to the rescue!

Margaret Farrow, a notorious Republican lobbyist and sometime lieutenant governor of Wisconsin, has been appointed by John McCain to the local branch of his Sarah Palin "Truth Squad," supposedly intended to counter "attacks" against McCain's veep choice and soulmate, reports the AP.

Margaret Farrow is also a former member in dubious standing of a Judge Mike Gableman "Truth Squad," which plied its disingenuous trade across the State earlier this year.

While Farrow has some experience with political attacks, having perpetrated a considerable number of them herself, whether she'll satisfy the "Truth" component is an open question.

Among the special versions of "Truth" that Margaret Farrow championed was this claim, dated February 1, 2008:
Louis Butler provided the deciding vote to overturn a sexual predator decision by a circuit court, resulting in the release of the predator into Milwaukee County.
More on that at this link and also at this one.

Richard A. Brown, the predator in question, was at that time and remains to this day safely ensconced in a Wisconsin Department of Corrections supervised living facility in Winnebago County.

That leaves the Sarah Palin "Squad," at least.

UPDATE: The freshly minted Sarah Palin "Truth Squad" swings immediately into robust action, inadvertently excoriating candidate John McCain for comparing Senator Hillary Clinton to a pig.

Conceived in liberty

So the Catholic Bishop of Madison, WI, Robert C. Morlino, is disturbed by something Senator Joe Biden said the other day:
"Any human being — regardless of his faith, his religious practice or having no faith — any human being can reason to the fact that human life from conception unto natural death is sacred," [Morlino] argued. "Biology — not faith, not philosophy, not any kind of theology — biology tells us, science [says], that at the moment of conception there exists a unique individual of the human species."
First of all, it's just slightly presumptuous — and a lot wrong — to claim that a human being "having no faith" will reason to the fact that all human life is "sacred," which is an adjective heavily larded with unproven and/or unprovable religious assumptions.

Secondly, I'm not aware that the study of biology makes any use of the term "conception." As far as I know, biologists refer to "fertilization," which is a process and not a moment, although there are obviously a series of moments inherent in any process.

Frankly, I don't see what the fuss is about. Biden is simply saying that he doesn't consider it prudent to enforce his personal religious views via the coercive power of government. It's not terribly interesting to me whether or not Morlino believes Biden is a good Catholic.

Hierarchical and fancy dress code considerations aside, it would be likewise every bit as unremarkable if Joe Biden believed Robert Morlino wasn't a good Catholic. And it's more than a little ironic that by virtue of Senator Biden's remarks, Bishop Morlino accuses him of violating the separation of church and state.

I hardly think Biden was or is acting as an official spokesperson for the Catholic Church in the United States Congress and in fact his expressed desire to differentiate between his personal religious opinions and his duties as a lawmaker is a respectable one.

That's at least the spirit of separation which, if not sacred, is certainly worth attending to and preserving.

Fundamentalisms observed

The most noxious belief that [Alaska Governor Sarah] Palin shares with Muslim fundamentalists is her conviction that faith is not a private affair of individuals but rather a moral imperative that believers should import into statecraft wherever they have the opportunity to do so. That is the point of her pledge to shape the judiciary. Such a theocratic impulse is incompatible with the Founding Fathers' commitment to tolerance and democracy, which is why they forbade the government to "establish" or officially support any particular religion or denomination.
Strong stuff from Prof. Juan Cole.

Cellphone anointing

"We just started going crazy." (YouTube, 9:59)

I'll say.

September 8, 2008

You stay moronic, Sykes

Milwaukee's ridiculous medium wave jackanapes Charlie Sykes notices a Ben Smith item at — labeling it "Barry leaves 'em laughing about that uppity broad" — which inspires the following self-righteous admonitions: "YOU STAY CLASSY, BARRY. Why dont [sic] you just come out and call her ... a bitter clinger?"

So, what was Barack Obama's outrageous sin? Why, he paid tribute to John McCain's running soulmate, Sarah Palin, as a "Mother, governor, moose shooter" to reportedly comic effect at a campaign stop.

I wonder where in the world Obama came up with that.

Most likely the Republican Party's own official biographical video, broadcast to several million viewers from its own national convention in St. Paul last week, whose own dramatic narration begins: "Mother, moose hunter, maverick. Mayor, governor, maverick."

It's okay if you're a Republican, as the saying goes.

Meanwhile, it was a Republican congressman from Georgia, Lynn Westmoreland, who really did refer to the Obamas as "uppity."

Needless to say, Charlie Sykes did not see fit to disgorge his signature fatuous bilge in that instance.

Apparently he didn't get cc'd on the hypocrisy memo.

Thanks and yes thanks

Today, when Palin says "I told Congress, 'Thanks, but no thanks,' on that Bridge to Nowhere," it implies Congress said, "Here’s a check for that bridge" and she responded, "No thanks, that's wasteful spending; here's your money back."

That's not what happened. Fact is, Alaska took the bridge money, and then just spent it on other projects.

Long before Palin killed the project, Congress washed its hands of the bridge. In the transportation spending bill that included money for the Ketchikan bridge, Congress deleted the wording that would have directed money for the project, though it left the money in place so Alaska officials could decide which transportation projects to spend it on.
Why does the McCain campaign insist on repeating this complete nonsense? I just heard it again, moments ago, in a teevee spot: "I'm John McCain, and I approved this message.

Maybe Obama is right, they really do think people are that stupid.

And a knob end

Anyone who thinks the LHC* will destroy the world is a twat.
* Large Hadron Collider.

Apologies to Ricky Gervais.

More CERN: Lawsuit to forestall Apocalypse.

Sykesistrata by Aristophanes

Enjoy some random idiocy from Milwaukee's own squawking medium wave biped, Charlie Sykes. Notice that in the comments immediately following the list of "banned books," not one person is buying it.

About that pipeline

Today's Washington Post contains an editorial dealing with the proposed 1700-mile natural gas pipeline between Prudhoe Bay, AK and Calgary, Alberta, and concludes:
It is also a sign that Ms. Palin's outflanking of the oil companies injected some competition and urgency into a process that was previously stalled.
That may be, but on the question of competition, it's worth noting that not only was TransCanada the one successful bidder for the license to begin surveying* the proposed route — and receive $500 million in government money — it was the only bidder, period.

The Alaska legislature came up with the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA), which is essentially a set of commercial and technical specifications, and TransCanada was the only company whose proposal was seriously considered, as TransCanada's proposal was the only one deemed initially in compliance with the AGIA.

So there weren't any commensurate bids with which to compare to TransCanada's, at least according to the terms of the AGIA.

Meanwhile, BP/ConocoPhillips is moving ahead with its own similar plans, because it isn't bound by the terms of the AGIA, and figures it can get by without the government investment. In fact it prefers to get by without the construction subsidies, from the sound of things.

So maybe the referenced competition is between the good old free market and government economic interference, with BP/ConocoPhillips representing the invisible hand while Gov. Palin's Alaska financially supports the foreign corporation.

* With help from Aero-Metric, a Sheboygan, WI firm.

Enjoy it while you can

Some GOP analysts fret that [Sarah Palin's] popularity has nowhere to go but down, as moderate women become more familiar with her staunch anti-abortion stance. And some are concerned that the conservative evangelicals who make up the party’s base — so jazzed by Palin’s selection — could sink back into a funk when they remember that Palin was just an appetizer while McCain remains the main course.
Seven things to watch.

"Jazzed" isn't the word I'd use — more like "line danced." Nevertheless, it's worth recalling that Barack Obama's running mate, Joe Biden, was immediately dismissed by Republicans because folks only vote for the "top of the ticket" in presidential elections.

Fortunately, we've since been instructed on hypocrisy.

Wasn't this Obama's idea?

The missile launch in North Waziristan comes amid a wave of stepped-up attacks by U.S. forces in Pakistan's border areas near Afghanistan. The strike Monday marked the fifth cross-border incursion by U.S. forces in about a week.
Meanwhile, John McCain searches for imaginary "Gates of Hell"

September 7, 2008

How to run a national election

Call it on September 7, hold the vote on October 14, and dissolve the legislature in the meantime so the candidates can devote themselves exclusively to campaigning for a grand total of five weeks.

By October 15, approaching 20 million ballots (more than three times that in Florida 2000) will have been cast and counted by hand and the electioneering will be over for another three or four years.

Harper could use a few more seats.

September 6, 2008

How do you measure extremism

The New York Times reports on Sarah Palin's church:
Adele Morgan, who has known Ms. Palin since the third grade, said the Palins moved to the nondenominational Wasilla Bible Church in 2002, in part because its ministry is less "extreme" than Pentecostal churches like the Assemblies of God.
"Extremism" is defined by the speaker in terms of standard Pentecostal fare like glossolalia, miracle healings, and how high in the air the congregants wave their palms during musical interludes.

But a featured sermonizer at Wasilla Bible Church just last month was a gentleman by the name of David Brickner, who "described terrorist attacks on Israelis as God's 'judgment of unbelief' of Jews who haven't embraced Christianity."

Maybe she has an idiosyncratic view of extremism.

September 5, 2008

Actual responsibilities. Plus costs. Plus fees.

WASILLA, Alaska — The biggest project that Sarah Palin undertook as mayor of this small town was an indoor sports complex, where locals played hockey, soccer, and basketball, especially during the long, dark Alaskan winters.

The only catch was that the city began building roads and installing utilities for the project before it had unchallenged title to the land. The misstep led to years of litigation and at least $1.3 million in extra costs for a small municipality with a small budget. What was to be Ms. Palin's legacy has turned into a financial mess that continues to plague Wasilla.

Last year, [an] arbitrator ordered the city to pay $836,378 for the 80-acre parcel, far more than the $126,000 Wasilla originally thought it would pay for a piece of land 65 acres larger. The arbitrator also determined that the city owed [a competing prospective buyer] $336,000 in interest. Wasilla's legal bill since [a more recent] eminent domain action has come to roughly $250,000 so far, according to [Tom] Klinkner, the city attorney.
Palin's hockey rinkWall Street Journal

Plus escape clauses.

Also, here is a very interesting report from the Canadian press on Gov. Palin's natural gas pipeline, the one she proudly touted during her "masterwork" of a speech at the RNC Wednesday evening:
Alaska must resolve a $30-billion battle that pits Ms. Palin against energy giants BP PLC and ConocoPhillips Inc., two pillars of [Alaska's] economy. Calgary-based TransCanada Corp., Canada's largest pipeline company, is caught in the middle, enjoying legislative and some financial support from the State to build the 2,670-kilometre-long line that would ship four billion cubic feet of gas a day beginning in 2018.

But TransCanada is up against a rival pipeline project [dubbed 'Denali'] that would be built by BP and Conoco, the very oil companies TransCanada needs as its customers. Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest corporation, potentially holds the power to crown a winner by virtue of its sizeable gas production, but it has not yet picked a side.

It is a political poker game, and even though all the major parties say they are willing to work with one another, there is a plethora of ways they could stonewall the process.
The power poker chipFinancial Post

Seems it's not quite the done deal Sarah Palin presented it as, because there's no way there's going to be two 1700-mile, 48-inch diameter pipelines built.

At least TransCanada's posterior is well protected, however. In the still-possible event its current agreement is scuttled, the State of Alaska will reimburse its expenditures to that date plus a 200% mark-up, yet another contractual aspect of God's will.

It's little wonder that John McCain doesn't want her near any reporters; they might make an untoward attempt at vetting her.

Area talent in the news

I agree with [Milwaukee area "shock jock" Mark] Belling. By the time you're 74 years old, you're just too grizzled and old to be effective at anything. Seventy-somethings are just bitter about the fact that they're old, and they need to be put in their place! How dare these old people try and re-live the memories of their glory days, which are so far behind them they probably can't even remember them!!! Yes, old people are horrible.
Kyle Broflovski
Local nut-right squawker finds a listener