Sunday, November 30, 2008

just a reminder about torture

A former Army interrogator who successfully turned "hard cases" in Iraq writes today about his experience.

He and his team did not torture people. They used a methodology "based on building rapport with suspects, showing cultural understanding and using good old-fashioned brainpower to tease out information."

Some of the people, the pseudonymous Matthew Alexander said, were convinced they would be tortured, and when they weren't, decided to cooperate because they realized what they had heard about Americans wasn't accurate.

Except for the ones that WERE torturing prisoners in Iraq.

"Torture and abuse are against my moral fabric. The cliche still bears repeating: Such outrages are inconsistent with American principles. And then there's the pragmatic side: Torture and abuse cost American lives."


Friday, November 28, 2008

and today's theme is: obama

Occasionally themes spring to mind when I sit down in front of the keyboard. Today as we recover from too much turkey, booze, football, and family, I think the theme is a calming, soothing one: Obama.

Joe Biden didn't mean that foreigners would do things explicitly to challenge Obama, but that things would arise that would be a challenge to the new President, just as the US spy plane collision with the Chinese military aircraft did even before September 11. Pakistan and India will be a challenge, witness the terror attacks in Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay.

Kathleen Parker has a surprisingly cogent article about how the personal style of Barack Obama - being a "weapon of mass attraction" - is a good one for the country and the world. It certainly stands in blessed contrast to the exaggerated uber-macho swagger of current de facto president George W. "Why Wait Till January 20 to Quit?" Bush.

Meanwhile, others are cashing in on the good Obama name. Don't you wish you'd gone long on Obama memorabilia about 12 months ago?

And a reporter with the terribly appropriate name for an article like this ("Hendrix", but not Jimi) writes an amusing article about how various Obamas in the DC area have become minor league celebrities. None of them are related to Barack Obama, apparently. In fact, they are mostly from the godforsaken African nation of Equatorial Guinea, home to most of the world's Obamas apparently, except for a few from Kenya and Japan. As one woman said, at least know when people hear her name they don't think "Osama." Despite Repubican political advertising.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

things to be thankful for on this thanksgiving day

I'm not going to do a schmaltzy list of things about how I still have my hair or a great family or just won the lottery.

I'm thankful for one thing: this is the LAST Thanksgiving that we will have with George W. Bush as our de facto President.

That just about covers it. As of January 20, Bush is gone. ANYBODY would be a big improvement (well, anybody this side of Dick Cheney or David Addington or Don Rumsfeld or somebody like that). But a smart guy like Barack Obama will be a particularly big improvement.

David Broder writes that this is a good time to have a smart person as President. I only disagree to the extent that I think ANY time, ALL times are good times to have a smart President. Yeah, I agree that quantifying intelligence is hard. Being an intellectual for example clearly does not automatically equate to intelligence. We only have to look at Georgetown professor Douglas Feith, the "dumbest fucking guy on the planet" (thank you, Tommy Franks) as a recent example from this de facto Administration.

There is such a thing as political intelligence. Once upon a time, I thought Bush might have that. But the ham-fisted way in which he handled his attempt to privatize Social Security more than anything made me reconsider that. He has a certain low cunning, and a willingness to commit any foul necessary to win. But political intelligence extends to an ability to govern, to forge alliances in power to get your way.

Let's face it, if September 11 hadn't unfurled the way it did, Bush would have not accomplished one thing. Only 9/11 gave him the ability to cow Democrats (and some Republicans) into supporting his unitary executive and police-state-in-waiting, not to mention his absurdly naive project to remake the Middle East by invading Iraq.

So no, Bush didn't even bring political intelligence into the White House.

And now, as Barack Obama prepares to clean up after Bush (who is clearly just phoning it in right now, an abject abdication of responsibility in the midst of a major financial/economic crisis is the final proof of his selfishness and inadequacy; Poppy cannot be proud), we can give thanks that at least Bush will be gone, and we can hope that Obama is up to the task.


a new meaning to "black friday"

People jokingly call the Friday after Thanksgiving "Black Friday" because it is the busiest shopping day and the unofficial kick-off to the Christmas shopping season.

But this year, stores are worried it might be a "Black Friday" like the day the stock market crashed however many hundreds of points in 1987. A day where expectations are not met, a day where the tills do not ring quite as much as the stores would hope. A day where consumer fears may be reflected in a worse-than-usual Christmas retail season...


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

torture investigations

Former Justice Department high-level lawyer Jack Goldsmith suggests we not have any more torture investigations beyond the ones underway.

One reason Goldsmith gives for recommending such forbearance is it would make lawyers too cautious in giving advice: "Second-guessing lawyers' wartime decisions under threat of criminal and ethical sanctions may sound like a good idea to those who believe those lawyers went too far in the fearful days after Sept. 11, 2001. But the greater danger now is that lawyers will become excessively cautious in giving advice and will substitute predictions of political palatability for careful legal judgment."


There are few things as clear to any non-Bush lawyer than the fact that torture was illegal under American law, under the military's rules, and under our treaty obligations. The Justice Department lawyers like John Yoo were in fact substituting "predictions of political palatability for careful legal judgment." They KNEW that Dick Cheney and probably George W. Bush WANTED them to find legal justification for indulging in the "dark side" stuff Cheney so fervently advocated. They knew because they'd been told so.

Deciding to forgo torture investigations will just as clearly send the signal that lawyers can make even the most tortured (pardon the pun but it's the right word) legal argument to twist their way into a legal finding that they believe will satisfy their bosses. Just like John Yoo and David Addington did.

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about those food stamps

Wow - we have 30 million people in the United States on food stamps. That's 10% of us. Seems like a lot for the richest country in the world but hey, after a quarter-century of Republican-style economics what do you expect. The rich have done well and as for the poor - well let me just say I'm surprised we still have poverty relief programs adequate enough to get food stamps to 30 million people.

Economists like the food stamp program because it puts cash into the economy. Maybe helping some people be less hungry is a good thing about it, too.


Monday, November 24, 2008

so long, normalcy

Interesting little piece about the life of the Obamas and how it's all gonna change. I feel sorry for the daughters - just as I felt sorry for the Bush twins. It's tough on kids, living in the White House with your dad as President. Just a very odd existence.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

spend, baby, spend

President-Elect Barack Obama, obviously heedful of the threat of deflation, is proposing a big economic stimulus package, focusing in infrastructure and energy.

We need it. You know things are bad when inveterate optimist Tom Friedman writes, I go into restaurants these days, look around at the tables often still crowded with young people, and I have this urge to go from table to table and say: “You don’t know me, but I have to tell you that you shouldn’t be here. You should be saving your money. You should be home eating tuna fish. This financial crisis is so far from over. We are just at the end of the beginning. Please, wrap up that steak in a doggy bag and go home.”

But boy, is this a bad time to have a lame-duck president, especially one like de facto President George W. Bush, who appears disinterested in actually trying to do much of anything.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

qualifications for federal jobs, republican style

Today's theme is what the Republican Party sees as qualifications for different kinds of federal jobs. We'll start at the Cabinet level. If the leaks (which I suspect are intentional) are accurate, Tim Geithner, president of the New York Federal Reserve, will be nominated to be Barack Obama's Secretary of the Treasury.

Geithner, just 47, brings finance experience to the job. Heading up the New York Fed is hard-core economics and finance, skills that will be useful at Treasury as we try to survive the Great Financial Melt-Down. For example, Geithner joined Treasury in 1988 and while there, worked on the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s.

But, sayeth the Post, "others" wonder whether Geithner can inspire confidence. The only "other" quoted was former Reagan chief of staff Ken Duberstein, who said "Tim at 47 looks 32, and you need to have in these compelling times gray hair and gravitas."

Wow we're boned. Is it to late to change my vote? I mean, John McCain has WAY more gray hair than Barack Obama, and probably gravitas too, whatever that is.

Seriously, gray hair is more important than actual knowledge for the job? Maybe we can do a Ronald Reagan-in-reverse on Geithner, and put some Bizarro World Grecian Formula on his hair to gray him up a bit, and send him to the plastic surgeons for an anti-Botox treatment, or a wrinkle transplant or something.

Meanwhile, Republican political appointees, probably as much out of fear of trying to find a job in this shitty economic climate (even shittier for a former Bush staffer I'd guess), are continuing to burrow in, claiming permanent civil service jobs regardless of the thinness of their resumes. Today the Post highlights a few instances where these types are getting what look like to be serious scientific type jobs.

Not to pick on anybody in particular, but one example is a guy called Todd Harding who is a political appointee at Energy. Harding, who at age 30 presumably has less gray hair or gravitas than Tim Geithner so it's a good thing he's not going to Treasury, is going to work on space-based science including meteorology at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Harding's academic qualifications? A bachelors degree in government from Centre College, which despite the spelling is in Kentucky not Canada.

Wouldn't a degree in something like physics or weather forecasting be better? Nah. Qualifications are for DEMOCRATS. Harding's KEY qualification was earned at Centre, where he was the head of the College Republicans. In the de facto Bush Administration, that's enough. And compared to the home-schooled theocons who graduated from Regent University law school and ended up at the Department of Justice, Harding looks positively OVERQUALIFIED.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

the "d" word

Most casual observers aren't familiar with the term "deflation," unless they are thinking about letting the air out of the neighbor's tires for blocking the driveway. Deflation isn't a good thing, despite the immediate impulse to see a drop in prices that way. In fact, deflation is very much like letting the air out of the tires for the entire economy.

Why? If you expect prices on a new washing machine to be cheaper in three months, you'll probably put off buying one for a while, right? Same with a house, or a car, or any other purchase that you don't need right now. And that slows the economy badly. Investors become reluctant to put money into a business if they have to pay for equipment and all at today's prices to sell their product or services at tomorrow's lower prices. Employers become reluctant to hire people at today's wages knowing that their earnings will drop.

Really, it's a pretty crappy situation to be in. This is one very big reason to go big and bold with a fiscal stimulus. And it has to be the federal government. Most states (including the big one, California) have foolishly hobbled themselves with laws and constitutional amendments requiring them to have balanced budgets. So when the economy slows and government revenue slows, state spending ALSO slows at PRECISELY the time when you want MORE spending to spur economic activity. So Congress and President-Elect Obama - think big. Spend. Dealing with large deficits is a pain, but compared to inflation it's a walk in the park. Because you know what? If we have deflation the current huge deficits, left to us by the de facto Bush Administration that has achieved little but lining the pockets of the wealthy, become even LARGER in real terms anyway.

Oh, and to revisit the question of financial markets (Citigroup? Oh please don't fall over.), by way of remembering how interconnected all this is, the consequences of a collapse by General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler wouldn't "merely" cost us millions of jobs at a bad time. It would also hurt the financial markets. Lots of institutional investors like pension funds hold lots and lots of bonds in these companies...


good news from congress

I'm surprised that Henry Waxman's challenge to John Dingell to chair the House Energy and Commerce Committee succeeded. Surprised, but very very pleased. Waxman is a sharp operator, a smart guy, and he gets it that American energy policy should go farther than just protecting our right to drive big gas-guzzling SUVs that Detroit produces.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

wal-mart going green?

Wal-Mart has signed a deal to buy wind-generated electricity in Texas for use in its stores.

Wal-Mart only does things that it thinks will help its bottom line. So this is interesting. We could help wind and other non-fossil-fuel based energies become cost-competitive by putting a price on the damage caused by carbon emissions...

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pardon the pardon

Eric Holder had a good reputation as Deputy Attorney General under Bill Clinton. He looks like a solid choice (if he is in fact Obama's pick) to head up the Department of Justice.

And Republicans - and even the Washington Post editorial board - seem to want to make a big deal out of Holder's role in Bill Clinton's infamous pardon of Marc Rich. Senator Chuck Grassley said in a statement that Holder's selection is "going to be much more controversial than a new administration ought to try to put forth." The Post editors write that "Mr. Holder must be questioned again about his failure to block that unconscionable pardon."

Look, Holder himself has admitted that failing to oppose it was a mistake. But the fault wasn't his. It was Bill Clinton's. The Rich pardon was unforgivable. It reeked.

But ultimately, it was legal. The President has that power granted in the Constitution. And Rich went straight to the White House to seek it.

I'd rather see Grassley and the Post editors look into actions of our recent attorney generals, John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales, to look into their roles in whitewashing torture and their roles in converting the Department of Justice into an arm of the Republican National Committee by firing prosecutors who don't show sufficient zeal in prosecuting Democrats like Don Sigelman for the crime of threatening Republican politicians with electoral defeat.


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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

cars, cars, cars

A sign of the times - cars from Japan are piling up at Long Beach's port because the dealers have no room for them. Detroit's woes aren't just that they don't make the cars that people want - it's that people are also buying many fewer cars now than even a few months ago, and even the Toyotas of the world are feeling it.


a turncoat and thiefs

Well the Democrats wimped out on Joe Lieberman, who crowed over the fact that even the resolution didn't disapprove of his support for John McCain. I'm all for reconciliation, and thought that Barack Obama meeting with John McCain was a good thing to do. I'm even OK with appointing suitable Republicans to the Obama Administration. But I still think putting a guy in charge of a committee who campaigned openly and notoriously against the Democrats' presidential candidate is wimpy and stupid.

Coincidentally, on the same day the electoral officials of Alaska said that Mark Begich had defeated disgraced convict Senator Ted Stevens. Good riddance Ted.

And also from Alaska, some guy called Charles Schultz (NOT the creator of "Peanuts") got really drunk and accidentally stole a car. No comment on precisely what Schultz's relationship might be with the top organized crime body in Alaska, the state's Republican Congressional delegation.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

that burrowing sound

True to form, the de facto Bush Administration doesn't want to go quietly into the night and let that flaming radical socialist Barack Obama overturn all the nifty progress the Bushies have made on environmental protection. Specifically, giving protection to their friends in big business from environmental regulation.

So the EPA has been busy converting so-called Schedule C jobs - political positions - into career jobs and filling them with enemies of the environment. And it isn't just the EPA, other agencies are doing the same in an attempt to protect Bush policies and regulations from beyond the grave.

"Burrowing" - changing from political to career at the end of an administration to be able to keep your cushy government job - isn't new. Is the scale different this time?

We'll be sure it is if they convert the Deputy Administrator job at the EPA to a career position and appoint Dick Cheney to it.

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Monday, November 17, 2008


Are we there yet? Well, the National Association of Business Economists thinks so. They see the economy dropping significantly, by 2.6% this quarter and 1.3% in the first three months of 2009.
UPS appears to agree - the shippers aren't issuing a holiday season peak package forecast because "these are unusual times for the U.S. economy".
Ain't that the truth.
So I have to admit that maybe the idea of letting Detroit go bust isn't such a wise one because of everything else that's happening in the economy.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

no email?

I guess I hadn't realized that de facto President George W. Bush had to stop emailing when he took over. And now Barack Obama faces that challenge when he assumes office.

Yeah, I understand the security issues I guess. But he can't even email "Sox!" to his friends when the White Sox win? Seems harsh.

They say the Presidency isolates its holders. Here's another way it does so.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

think big

Paul Krugman says we're in the zone where you have to be bold and take risks. 'Cause otherwise the outcome is pretty well known - a long recession with high unemployment. Worry about deficits later, when the economy is back on track.

Hey, there's a reason retail sales are dropping like a rock - down again for October, the fourth straight monthly slide.

Friday, November 14, 2008

intolerance and idiocy in response to the election of barack obama, in two verses


The first verse is the song of hypocrisy being sung by a Catholic priest in South Carolina name of Scott Newman. Seems the good Father Newman is warning his parishioners that if they take Holy Communion after having voted for Barack Obama, their souls are at risk of eternal damnation, because such a vote "constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil." You know, because Obama is pro-choice. Or as Newman would probably put it, pro-baby-killing.

Newman claims this isn't partisan. Funny, how many Catholic priests or bishops have you heard threatening to excommunicate people for voting for pro-choice Republicans like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Tom Ridge or Arlen Spector? None.

Why the hell is the Catholic leadership so hung up on this one issue? If Candidate A supported rape, worshiping graven idols, and giving cocaine to children but opposed abortion, would he or she automatically get the nod over a sane candidate who was pro-choice?

Their claims to nonpartisanship are bullshit. These conservative elements within the Catholic Church are bound and determined to support conservative Republicans. Abortion is their litmus test, but they are happy with their other stances, like being opposed to sex education in school, gay rights, and all the rest.

And Damn Fools

The second verse is a chorus of hate. Read this depressing compilation from Editor & Publisher of various news stories about people reacting to the election of Barack Obama in frankly offensive and racist ways.

Look, the upside down flag doesn't bug me. I felt like flying my flag upside down when de facto President George W. Bush was selected in 2000. Not because I'm anti-white.

But you can't explain away things like burning crosses in the front yard of a mixed-race couple who had an Obama sign out front.

People are idiots. But John McCain and even more Sarah Palin deserve some of the "credit" for these attitudes, with their nasty, innuendo-ridden campaign that left doubt in people's minds that Obama, clearly black, might also be Muslim (not that there is anything wrong with that, Colin Powell reminded us) and a terrorist. Hey, after whipping up the close-minded, the ignorant, the racist, and the stupid, you don't expect them to just accept this, do you?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

weirdo religion bugging utah town

So some strange religious sect that practices in Utah has ended up with a case before the Supreme Court. No, I don't mean the Jesus Christ Church of Latter Day Saints - hey, they run Utah!

Nope, the town of Pleasant Grove, near Salt Lake City, is trying to fend off the attempts of a little-known religion known as Summum (founded 1973) to donate and have displayed the Seven Aphorisms of Summum. But the trouble is, Pleasant Grove has already accepted a gift of the Ten Commandments from the Mormon Church, and displays it in a public park.

So the case is before the Supreme Court. Who knows how it'll turn out.

Not that the content of the Aphorisms will necessarily weigh on the Supreme Court, but I thought as a public service I'd copy the Aphorisms here. So we all know what's at stake.

Summum is mind, thought; the universe is a mental creation.

2. As above, so below; as below, so above.

3. Nothing rests; everything moves; everything vibrates.

4. Everything is dual; everything has an opposing point; everything has its pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same; opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree; extremes bond; all truths are but partial truths; all paradoxes may be reconciled.

5. Everything flows out and in; everything has its season; all things rise and fall; the pendulum swing expresses itself in everything; the measure of the swing to the right is the measure of the swing to the left; rhythm compensates.

6. Every cause has its effect; every effect has its cause; everything happens according to Law; Chance is just a name for Law not recognized; there are many fields of causation, but nothing escapes the Law of Destiny.

7. Gender is in everything; everything has its masculine and feminine principles; Gender manifests on all levels.

Umm, yeah, that's a little odd. Especially the stuff about a pendulum. And gender (is this a grammar point?) I'm surprised the 8th Aphorism isn't "To everything turn turn turn, there is a season turn turn turn." Or would that be "vibrate vibrate vibrate"?

But that's the problem when you take gifts from religions for public display. You have to worry that OTHER religions will come in with gifts.

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so you wanna job in the obama administration?

So you want to work in the incoming administration of Barack Obama. Well, there are two simple steps.

First, identify the job you want. Not EVERYBODY can be Secretary of State. The Plum Book will give you some idea of what jobs will be available. There are THOUSANDS! And hey, this doesn't even include jobs in the Office of the Vice President!

But the hard part is filling out the questionnaire that is being presented to all would-be Obamacans (Obamistas? Obamians? What is the equivalent to Bushie or Clintonista?). You can find it here. A few sample questions (some paraphrased to make shorter) for the curious...

Part I is all about Professional Background. For example,

1) Please furnish copies of all resumes and biographical statements issued by you or any other entity at your discretion or with your consent in the past ten years.

I told you you shouldn't have claimed to have won the 2002 World Series of Poker on that grad school application.

And questions about how your honey earns his or her money, too. Damn inconvenient, you self-sacrificing penurious public servant, that you husband/wife/sibling/dog took that cushy $400,000 a year job lobbying for the child porn and landmine lobby.

Oh, and be sure to answer THIS question, 8) Briefly describe the most controversial matters you have been involved in during the course of your career. Sorry, the great Who Makes the God-Damn Coffee In the Morning controversy of 2002 at your old law firm doesn't trump that little matter where you were representing cigarette companies and lung cancer victims at the same time. In the same case.

Part II - Publications, Writings & Speeches

First, if you've written any books, articles, columns or papers, you gotta provide a copy - oh, and recordings of any speeches, too. Nobody said applying for a job with the Obama Administration would be cheap or easy! They want that diary too. I suggest you fly THAT bad boy down to a safe deposit box in the Caymans, pronto. That entry about you, the Finnegan Twins, and an amorous dolphin will be difficult to explain away. Especially to the parents of the Twins, and the staff of Sea World.

Part III - Relationships & Affiliations (But not "associations," that word has been ruined by Sarah Palin)

15) List all corporations that your or the spouse ever had any significant role with (ie, above the rank of receptionist).

17) Have you or your spouse at any time belonged to any membership organization ... that as a matter of policy or practice, denied or restricted membership or affiliation based on sex, race, disability, ethnic background, religion or sexual orientation during the past ten years.

Now don't you wish you'd passed on that golf club membership? I mean, this IS the Administration of an African-American President we're talking about - not a Republican. But NO, you couldn't bear to play on the municipal course.

Part IV - Financial Information

Paraphrased... we want everything on you, forever. Think of this as getting a mortgage, only 45 times worse. Sweetheart loans from companies you were supposed to be regulating or providing oversight for are a particularly bad look. As are gifts from Russian oil companies.

Part V - Tax Information

You DID pay all your taxes, right? Well let's see ALL the returns for you, your spouse or partner, your adult children, your infant children, your dogs, and your businesses since 2005. (Hey, that's relatively easy. I stopped cheating on my taxes in 2003.)

Part VI - Legal and Administrative Proceedings

42) Please list any lawsuits you or your spouse have brought as a plaintiff or which were brought against you or your spouse as a defendant or a third party, or in which you or your spouse have testified at trial or in deposition.

Lawsuits brought on behalf of the unemployed, the poor and the dispossessed, or to further environmental protection are good and should be at the top of the stack. Establish a positive mood before putting in that unpleasant little court case where you were sued for dumping 15 pounds of dog feces on the porch of the neighbor who wouldn't keep their damn cat out of your tomato patch.

46) Have any members of your family or close social or business associates (William Ayers excluded) been arrested for or charged with a crime? (Little traffic things don't count. Vehicular manslaughter should probably be mentioned here.)

Arrests and convictions for protesting the Iraq War are acceptable. Arrests for spiking trees, not so much.

Part VII is completely given over to "Domestic Help." Zoe Baird need not apply. It is easiest if you never had maids, nannies, or even better yet, no children, siblings, or parents.

Part VIII - Miscellaneous

58) Please provide the URL address of any websites that feature you in either a personal or professional capacity (e.g., FaceBook, My Space, etc).

And just think, at the time uploading to your My Space page that photo of you chugging tequilas with two topless Mexican prostitutes in Tijuana seemed to be SUCH a good idea.

And finally, the last question:

63) Please provide any other information, including information about other members of your family, that could suggest a conflict of interest or be a possible source of embarrassment to you, your family, or the President-Elect.

This is where you need to fess up that you dated both Cheney daughters, one pre-op, one post-op.

But I'd keep that ride on the UFO under your hat, if I were you. Good luck, job applicant!


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

thanks, fox

Harold Myerson pens a fan letter to Roger Ailes and the boys and cloned blondes at Fox News.

Somehow, I think he may not be sincere...

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

how do you solve a problem like detroit?

Barack Obama has asked de facto President George W. Bush to support a rescue plan for General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler, which are doing quite poorly. Analysts peg GM's future stock price at zero, and Daimler Benz, which owns about 20% of Chrysler, has priced that at zero value as well.

Again, the question - will a rescue make any fundamental difference to Detroit? Or will it just put the day of reckoning off for a few years?

Allan Sloan noted Detroit has a powerful hold over Washington - in addition to current employees, many of which will lose their job one way or another, lots of retirees rely on GM, Ford, and Chrysler for pensions and healthcare coverage. So it's tough to just say no...

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Monday, November 10, 2008

stimulus or deflation

Paul Krugman urges Barack Obama to go for it with a real stimulus package - something the New Deal really wasn't, because of countering tax hikes and cuts in spending elsewhere.

Or, writes Robert Samuelson, we may face deflation. Sounds neat? It isn't. Deflation during the Great Depression was a pernicious dampener on the economy. Ask the Japanese, who experienced it themselves in the 1990s. Thanks to Greenspan and Bernanke persistently cutting the prime rate following the dot-com crash, it is at such low levels (1%) now that spurring the economy with further tax cuts isn't feasible any more. Again, something the Japanese experienced.

So - spend, baby, spend. Hopefully on useful things. Hey, there's a bridge in Minneapolis that could use help. And a bunch more like that one... And you could put a big bet down on energy research...

Yes, deficits do matter. But this isn't the time to cut them. The government can't afford to take cash OUT of the economy right now.

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

couple of comments from george will

Today's George Will column started off to me like it was going into apology for the GOP mode. But it shifted and he made a couple of good comments.

About Sarah Palin and the rush of some conservative Republicans to make her the leader for 2012, Will acidly notes that they are "confusing pugnacity with a political philosophy". Never a fan of Palin, Will castigated them for a "vice presidential choice based on chromosomes" and complains that they want to enter "the Democrats' terrain of identity politics."

Moving on to the President-Elect, Will said Barack Obama seemed to recognize what faces him, including the fact that many Americans did not vote for him (true of all Presidents, Will noted). And will finished by praising Obama's "agreeably subdued" Grant Park victory speech as "a prospective commander in chief finding his voice."


before you bail out detroit, ask yourself...

The question when it comes to whether or not the taxpayer should bail out General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler: will an infusion of cash now be repaid later, both in cash and in terms of keeping these companies as viable competitors in the automobile industry?

If yes (which was in retrospect the case for Chrysler in 1979), then a bailout might be worth it. If no, then don't throw good money after bad.

Problem is, the answer is probably "maybe"...


barack obama, intellectual-american

Of course the biggest focus on Barack Obama has been that he is the first African American to win election to the Presidency. But Nicholas Kristof points out correctly that Obama is also the first openly intellectual American to even win a major party Presidential nomination since Adlai Stevenson back in the 1950s.

Writes Kristof, Maybe, just maybe, the result will be a step away from the anti-intellectualism that has long been a strain in American life. Smart and educated leadership is no panacea, but we’ve seen recently that the converse — a White House that scorns expertise and shrugs at nuance — doesn’t get very far either.

I hope so. No, you don't need a PhD or university teaching experience to be a good politician or policy maker, not at all. But this whole practice of pretending to be dumb - which de facto President George W. Bush has honed to a fine art - is so annoying. Look, who do YOU want to be in charge of making decisions about the economy or national security or the environment that could be life or death for us or for our children and grandchildren - Joe the Plumber? Or somebody who is smarter than the average bear?

Fact is, most of the major party Presidential candidates this year were pretty smart people (Tom Tancredo possibly excepted). It's just too bad they have to play dumb.

And I imagine the Obama Administation will have fewer graduates from Regent University than the current bunch. That, too, will be a step up in intellectual capacity.


Saturday, November 08, 2008

fire joe lieberman

Joe Lieberman doesn't want to give up his chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. Harry Reid is even offering to let him keep a chair, of a less important committee.

But Joe doesn't want to go.

Poor Joe. He's so misunderstood. Gosh, all he did was OPENLY CAMPAIGN AGAINST HIS PARTY'S NOMINEE FOR THE PRESIDENCY AND FOR THE OTHER GUY. And state openly that (to paraphrase slightly), a vote for Barack Obama was a vote for the destruction of the United States and Israel and the hideous death for us all.

Look, Joe Lieberman wasn't John McCain's only friend among Senate Democrats. But none of those friends campaigned against their party's leader, however sympathetic they may have been to McCain.

So as I said last June, if I were the Senate Dems, now that they have more than 51 seats, I'd fire Joe Lieberman. Kick him out of the Democratic caucus. Let Joe hang out with Republicans like Sam Brownback and David Vitter and James Inhofe. That is the company he has chosen to keep in campaign for the other party.


boycott utah?

Supporters of gay marriage (like me) are unhappy about the passage of Proposition 8 in California, and in particular are bitter about the active role of the Mormon church in supporting that ban. So John Aravosis at is proposing a boycott of Utah.

Not everybody in Utah is a Mormon - and even more to the point, not all Mormons agree with the attitude of the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (which apparently provided 80%(!) of the money donated to the Yes (ban) campaign) against gay marriage . So I guess I'd come down against a blanket boycott.

But a boycott of top donors to Prop 8? That sounds like a fine idea. Make 'em pay.

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Friday, November 07, 2008

something rotten in alaska?

No I'm not referring to Sarah Palin or her fancy New York wardrobe, or the dead moose on her back porch. I'm referring to the fact that Ted Stevens and Don Young won re-election in the face of polls that had them far, far behind their Democratic challengers, Mark Begich and Ethan Berkowitz. Begich was up by 22% - that's "twenty-two". And Berkowitz had led in every poll since May.

And isn't it curious that if you believe the current numbers, turnout in Alaska was way, way down from 2004. From 66% to 54%. A trend matched in precisely no other state during an election that grabbed the attention of Americans. And despite the fact that turnout in the Alaskan primaries was UP 12%. And despite the fact that there was a crucial Senate race.

Oh and despite the fact that there was a friggin' ALASKAN on the national ticket of one of the two major parties.

The boys at, bending over backwards for an explanation that doesn't involve the word "fraud", speculate that Alaskan Democrats may have become complacent because of the big lead the challengers had over Young & Stevens, plus knowing by 4:00 local time that Barack Obama wouldn't need Alaska's votes.

A question to any Alaskans out there: did turnout look like it was up or down from 2004?

World-famous Alaska blogger Mudflats thinks she might smell something: So I invite you to hop on board the Conspiracy Theory Express with me for a moment, because it’s pulling out of the station here in Alaska, ready to take you on a five minute tour.

Some numbers courtesy of Mudflats (but read the whole thing, there is lots more):

As these strange numbers rolled in at Election Central, I was there watching. Here’s how it fell out over time.

With 36% of the precincts reporting:
61.76% for McCain
35.64% for Obama

With 81.3% reporting
61.54% for McCain
35.69% for Obama

With 96.1% reporting
61.29% for McCain
35.96% for Obama

Alaska, like many states, has blue areas and red areas. The Mat-Su Valley, home of Sarah Palin is very very red. Anchorage? Blue. The Kenai Peninsula? Red. Juneau? Blue. You get the idea. When I, and my fellow progressive celebrants watched the first numbers come in, we thought, “That must be the Valley”, because the latest polls actually had the presidential race neck and neck with Obama only 2.7 points behind. We kept waiting for the progressive areas of the state to kick in, but they never did. No fluctuations one way or the other more than .3%. And George Bush won the 2004 election her by a margin of…..61-35.


the transition underway

Rahm Emmanuel accepted the offer and will be Barack Obama's chief of staff. More on him here. I think it's a hell of a good choice.

More names circulating, some of which are almost certain to go nowhere fast. Somehow I don't see John Kerry as Secretary of State.

Oh, one thought - just how much of the economy will the de facto Bush Administration have brought into government ownership by January 20? How can Obama be a socialist if everything is nationalized already?


Thursday, November 06, 2008

responding to joel in green lake

Joel in Green Lake has kindly commented on my post about the decency, or lack thereof, in George W. Bush. Now, Joel's blogger profile includes no way to contact him, so I'll do so here, in the same tone of high-minded debate Joel shows, just in case (unlikely as it is) Joel decides to visit this website again.

Don Q Blogger...what an 'armchair general' you sound like. Since this brought you off your 'post-election buzz', I can only conclude you are likely a product of the 60's or the off-spring of same. If that's all you can come up with to say about GWB's decency, I know you're just another 'Bush-hater' with no real argument to make nor any solutions for issues facing our country. Just another big mouthed wannabe.

Well I'm not a product of the '60s. Sorry, Joel! And really, neither are my parents. They were too square, really. Besides my dad was busy with his thirty-year career in the military and serving his country in Vietnam.

I could say more, much more, about de facto President George W. Bush's decency. But honestly, I think that condoning and even encouraging torture is enough to stain anybody's reputation for decency. Not to mention the other things Bush and his administration have done such as politicizing the Department of Justice to support partisan ends, weakening our constitutional rights and liberties, and taking our country into war by lying to us, and not even ensuring that our soldiers had adequate body armor and other equipment.

And by the way, a promise: If Barack Obama endorses torture, I will immediately shred him in this forum as I have Bush and his administration. Torture is wrong, whether implemented by a Republican or a Democratic president. And it doesn't work. And it dehumanizes us. And it creates enemies.

For my part, I'm not happy with some of what GWB has presided over but I'd happily and gratefully shake his hand any day, if I ever got the chance. I know, I sound like a 'sore loser'. Trouble is, I think in reality we are all losers now.

I'm guessing Joel thinks we are all losers because of the victory of Obama. I have high hopes for Obama, but I don't know how he will be. I do know, however, that we can't take four more years of Bush-like "leadership". The first thing to do when you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging. I think the American electorate has done that.

Your problem (probably the way you were raised, poor victim) is that I highly doubt you have any concept of what 'decency' is. You've lived in a society benefitting from the decency 'capital' contributed by others. Perhas you will some day long for that decency, as our country continues it's spiraling descent into chaos. Good luck, dumbass.

Now Joel, surely name-calling isn't a mark of decency, is it? Neither is questioning how I was raised, right? Joel probably thinks I'm some welfare queen living in some big city somewhere, enjoying the redistributed fruits of Joel's labor while doing drugs and watching ESPN. Oh Joel, you are quite wrong. And in any case, I think poor Joel is getting his concepts confused. I happen to be a big fan of capitalism. It ain't perfect, but it has a lot going for it. But capital isn't "decent." It's just money.

As for our country spiraling into chaos, I think the election of Obama is a step to counter that spiral.

Thanks for stopping by Joel! :)


and now it begins

Well, the easy stuff is over for Barack Obama. Time to announce a transition team (already done!), make decisions for Cabinet and other government appointments, read intelligence briefings, and get ready for the Obama Administration's debut on January 20.

Al Kamen kicks around a few possible names - Tom Daschle for one, an early Obama supporter, has probably earned himself a Washington encore in the Cabinet.

It's too early to know what an Obama Adminstration will be like but I agree with Dan Balz - the way the Obama campaign was run should offer some cues to his Administratin. If Rahm Emanuel accepts, that's a clear cue that Obama won't be indulging in fuzzy-headed feelgoodism. Emanual is a ball buster, smart, disciplined, prone to snarling, with experience from the Clinton Administration. In other words, he'd be one hell of a chief of staff. Hope he comes on board.


perhaps the first critical personnel decision for barack obama

Barack Obama made one personnel announcement at his victory speech in Chicago the other night.

He promised to buy a puppy for daughters Malia and Sasha.

President-Elect Obama, if I may be so bold as to make a suggestion: get a mutt. A cute, lovable, needy mixed-breed mutt from a dog pound somewhere. From a pound so you rescue some poor dog from the needle. A mixed-breed because they are so much healthier physically and mentally than over-bred show dogs.

Your daughters will thank you.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

charles blow

Eloquent words from the New York Times' Charles Blow.

And yes, I was one that wept. In a good way.

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there is no decency in george w. bush

I'm sorry Michael Gerson but you just brought me off of my post-election buzz. You cannot write about the decency of de facto President George W. Bush without explaining to me how a "decent" man can authorize the use of torture in the name of the people of the United States of America.

Soviets torture. Nazis torture.

Americans should not torture. We are better than that.*

George W. Bush has to answer for that, at a bare minimum.

*Never mind the proven ineffectiveness of torture. Even the hard-ass Israeli security forces have come to that realization.

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so long, mccain

I finally had the chance to see John McCain's concession speech. It was good. His notes about Theodore Roosevelt having Booker T. Washington dine at the White House, and now Obama's victory, were very good, as was his line describing Obama as "my President".

what could have been...

Reading about Mark Warner's victory in the Virginia Senate race, I saw a photo of Warner, Governor Tim Kaine, and Senator Jim Webb watching the returns. Webb of course defeated George Allen in 2006 largely because Allen called that young volunteer of South Asian descent "macaca". Before his defeat, he had been seen as a possible front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination for 2008.

Probably just as well Allen lost to Webb. Can you imagine him calling Barack Obama "macaca" during a debate?

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requiem for a northeastern republican

Christopher Shays, Republican Congressman from Connecticut, was defeated.

Shays' fate was sealed largely by the sort of people he associates with. Republicans. Once upon a time, Republicans were in good odor in the Northeast. But as the Party of Lincoln slowly devolved to the Party of Reagan and, even worse, to become the Party of Helms and Gingrich and DeLay, the Party of Fox News and Torture, the Party of Scare Tactics, voters in the Northeast found it harder and harder to vote for Republicans, even decent ones like Christopher Shays.

So although I am delighted by Barack Obama's victory and by the Democrats' gains in the House and Senate, I am also a little disappointed at Shays' defeat and the extinction for now of moderate northeastern Republicans on the national level. But the GOP will have to change to become competitive in that part of the country again.


barack obama wins! some thoughts on the elections

A few observations, mostly of the emotional gut variety. Questions about the challenges facing President-elect Barack Obama and the nation can wait a little while longer.

On election night I had to attend an election watching event with a mixed crowd - Republicans and Democrats and other. Not how I would have liked to watch the results but it was an invitation I couldn't turn down. So I spent the night chatting civilly with different people. When CNN called Ohio for Obama (after calling Pennsylvania with 0% of the vote counted...), I knew that was it - John McCain and Sarah Palin couldn't win without flipping a major Kerry '04 state, and there was no prospect of that. I only allowed myself a smile. When the polls closed on the West Coast and the networks called California and the election for Obama, everybody applauded - nicely. I clapped a few times and allowed myself a smile, hardly able to believe that Barack Obama had pulled it off and that Sarah Palin would not be measuring the White House for moose-fur drapes.

Shortly after, I was able to leave as the party broke up. I went to my car, and in the privacy of my car - finally alone - I really let my guard down and allowed myself to really FEEL the victory for Obama.

I didn't quite weep but it was close.

I allowed myself to hope that with the impending end of the de facto Bush Administration, and the beginning of an Obama Administration (I can finally type that), some of the things that have gone so terribly wrong (state-approved torture in the name of you and me and the rest of the American people, for one) over the past eight years can be reversed.

I'm not black, but yes one of the things that swept over me was the realization that we had elected a black President. That is an awesome thing. I read accounts of old black Americans, old enough to remember literacy tests designed to keep them from voting, realizing that we were on the verge of electing a black American to the highest office of the land. It has happened, and that is a wondrous thing.

Good luck, President-elect Obama.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

all over but the shouting, i hope

Well, the voting, assuming no lawsuits, hanging chads, computer glitches, or dastardly deeds intervene, will be over today... We should know who will win.

Meanwhile, what a lousy time win or lose for Barack Obama, with his grandmother Madelyn Dunham dieing in Hawaii. It was sad watching that video of Obama at a rally in North Carolina, talking about her. Nods to John McCain for a classy statement. Too bad it stands out as a classy moment in an otherwise nasty McCain/Republican campaign.

So let's just hope that whatever the decision, it is a clean one. No fouls, no cheating, no hanging chads. My head says "Obama" but my gut has been disappointed before.


Monday, November 03, 2008

palin-picked commission exonerates palin, saying palin's failure to control palin's spouse todd palin isn't palin's fault

And now, the healing can begin.


bill o'reilly DEFENDS barack obama

Former SNL comedian Victoria Jackson thinks Barack Obama is a communist because like Fidel Castro, Obama's photo is on all the magazines and he's on all the TV stations. (Never mind that Fidel actually controls Cuba's media, and Obama as far as I can tell doesn't control ANY US media.)

And Bill O'Reilly has to defend Obama against the communist charge! Hilarious.

Maybe Victoria Jackson wasn't acting when she played those dim-bulbed characters.

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one way for mccain to win

From Greg Palast, John McCain can still win thanks to ongoing Republican efforts to suppress the vote.

Cribbed from here - go read the whole thing, but snips below.

How to Steal an Election in Five Easy Steps

Step One: The "Dumpster" Vote - Purge Voters, Provisional Ballots

Ten million voters purged? What the hell is going on here? Why are we removing millions from the voter rolls?

The answer is the GOP's secret weapon, the Help America Vote Act, signed by George Bush in 2002. When Bush tells us he's going to help us vote, look out. But Democrats didn't. They signed on to the GOP bill, believing this "reform" law would prevent "another Florida." Instead, "Help America Vote" Floridated the entire nation.


Now, here are the facts about provisionals: they don't get counted. And there are lots of them. The great unreported story of the 2004 election was that there were more than three million voters shunted to provisional ballots. Over a million (1,090,000) were never counted, just chucked in the dumpster. That's what caused Kerry to lose New Mexico, Iowa and Ohio. This time, because of Help America Vote and a Republican campaign to challenge voters, the number of provisionals will rise, as will rejections.

Step Two: "Verification" (and Elimination) of New Voters

For the first time in US history, new voters will face special new obstacles to voting. When we say "new" voters, let's be clear - we mean Obama voters. A Wall Street Journal poll shows new voters prefer Obama by an eye-popping three to one (69 percent to 20 percent).

So, the Republican game plan is simple: don't let new voters vote.

Step Three: New ID Laws

Step Four: Spoiling Ballots

Your chad gets hung. The touch screen doesn't like your touch. Or, your paper ballot had that extra mark that made the machine spit out your ballot like day-old beer with a cigarette floating in it.

Step Five: Rejecting Mail-In Ballots

You've mailed in your ballot. Last time around, over half a million mail-in ballots were junked: everything from postage due to not liking your signature to a circle checked, not filled in. Mailing in a ballot is playing Russian roulette with it. About a tenth get junked.

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the perils of living in a battleground state

People in states like Virginia and North Carolina are learning the hard way what it's been like to be a voter in places like Ohio and Florida these past couple of presidential elections. Lots of calls, from robots and from real people. People banging on your door. Incessant television advertisements for Barack Obama and John McCain - with some for people like Elizabeth Dole and Mark Warner for Senate and who knows for Congress also blaring from the boob tube.

This article is about Ohio, though. I know people in Ohio who say that as bad as 2000 and 2004 were, this has been worse. Courage, Buckeyes - the phone calls will end within 48 hours, and the television ad buys can return to spots for snowblowers and Applebees.

One thing that would really peeve me would be getting political robo-calls on my cell phone. Hey, that's not just a pain in my butt, that's also costing me MONEY. Senator Feinstein and Representative Lofgren have introduced a law banning robocalls to cell phones. I think that's fair - it's one thing to listen to McObama blather on your TV, but not on a phone call that costs YOU money.

Oh and one other point. The idea of a Sarah Palin presidential campaign in 2012 - whether as an incumbent VP, worse yet an incumbent PRESIDENT, or as a mavericky hockey mom "drill, baby, drill" outsider challenging Washington, fills me with horror and loathing. But I also don't want to hear any talk about Hillary Clinton's options. At least, not until after this week's results are in.


an ugly hail mary

On Sunday it's third and 15 for John McCain, on his own 30 and needing a touchdown to win. So it's natural they go for the hail Mary pass, the long one into the endzone.

It's just unfortunate the Pennsylvania Republicans decided to play the intentional face-masking equivalent, a TV ad featuring the god-damn Reverend Jeremiah Wright on Sunday Night Football. I'm a bit surprised. This was allegedly the one place John McCain didn't want to go, and the ad buy is allegedly unauthorized. Right. But still, if you're gonna use this, why wait so late?

Still it might help. Pennsylvania doesn't have early voting so nobody has cast their ballot yet, so undecided or weakly pro-Obama voters have time to change their mind. And some right-wing PAC is going to run it nationally on Monday.

This Washington Post article talks about both campaigns staying negative till the very end. It talks about the Wright ad, and one featuring a recording of Hillary Clinton dissing Barack Obama, from the primaries. That Clinton one doesn't bother me - using primary opponents' words against the party nominee is an old and relatively honorable tactic. But the article mentions Obama citing the similarities between McCain policies and those of de facto presidents George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, and aired Dick Cheney's stupid on-tape endorsement of McCain. So that's not negative - that's factual. Hell, some candidates embrace the previous administration of the same party and actively want their endorsement (I wish Gore had done that more in 2000). So that's a lame basis for the Post to conclude that the McCain and Obama campaigns were both negative.


Sunday, November 02, 2008

mccain shatters a barrier

John McCain has convincingly broken through a barrier - the "I go to bed after Matlock ends at 9:30" barrier for people aged 70 and over.

Proof - he did it on live TV, Saturday Night Live.

Other Americans of Age will applaud McCain's move. Said Daisy McGillicuddy, 76, of Independence, Missouri, "This just proves we can stay awake if we .... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz"


Saturday, November 01, 2008

samuel l. jackson on prop 8

I'm not a California resident, and I'm not gay. But Proposition 8 is a hateful piece of anti-gay spite.

On Andrew Sullivan's site, a powerful advertisement against hate and intolerance, voiced by Samuel L. Jackson. (One more reason to like him!)


more radical foreigners endorse obama

Well, not really quite that radical. But the pro-business British newsweekly* The Economist has issued its endorsement, and given it to Barack Obama over John McCain.

A few quotes:

The Economist does not have a vote, but if it did, it would cast it for Mr Obama. We do so wholeheartedly: the Democratic candidate has clearly shown that he offers the better chance of restoring America’s self-confidence.


A spell in opposition seemed apt punishment for the incompetence, cronyism and extremism of the Bush presidency. Conservative America also needs to recover its vim. Somehow Ronald Reagan’s party of western individualism and limited government has ended up not just increasing the size of the state but turning it into a tool of southern-fried moralism.


Ironically, given that he first won over so many independents by speaking his mind, the case for Mr McCain comes down to a piece of artifice: vote for him on the assumption that he does not believe a word of what he has been saying. Once he reaches the White House, runs this argument, he will put Mrs Palin back in her box, throw away his unrealistic tax plan and begin negotiations with the Democratic Congress.


There is no getting around the fact that Mr Obama’s résumé is thin for the world’s biggest job. But the exceptionally assured way in which he has run his campaign is a considerable comfort. It is not just that he has more than held his own against Mr McCain in the debates. A man who started with no money and few supporters has out-thought, out-organised and outfought the two mightiest machines in American politics—the Clintons and the conservative right.

Political fire, far from rattling Mr Obama, seems to bring out the best in him: the furore about his (admittedly ghastly) preacher prompted one of the most thoughtful speeches of the campaign. On the financial crisis his performance has been as assured as Mr McCain’s has been febrile. He seems a quick learner and has built up an impressive team of advisers, drawing in seasoned hands like Paul Volcker, Robert Rubin and Larry Summers. Of course, Mr Obama will make mistakes; but this is a man who listens, learns and manages well.


In terms of painting a brighter future for America and the world, Mr Obama has produced the more compelling and detailed portrait. He has campaigned with more style, intelligence and discipline than his opponent. Whether he can fulfil his immense potential remains to be seen. But Mr Obama deserves the presidency.


*Yes, I know they call themselves a newspaper. But it only comes out once a week...


and the smears roll on

The latest is good. Associated Press picks up from Murdoch's Times of London a story about some aunt of Barack Obama's name of Zeituni Onyango apparnelty living illegally in Boston. Ooh, black Africans in America illegally! Call out the National Guard! No, call out DHS because she is probably the head of the Al Qaeda Boston cell! And the $260 that she donated to Obama PROVES Al Qaeda wants Obama to win! It's all so clear now! (Sorry, temporarily inhaled some Kool Aid powder, temporarily impaired my ability to think clearly. I don't know what sort of legs to expect. I hope it primarily appeals to those who loathe Obama anyway and were already in the McCain camp.)

Over at TPM Zachary Roth draws the lines for us. The Murdoch story links in to Drudge and Fox News and the rest of the US-based right-wing noise machine. And you know, it might be surprising to learn that the source for this last-hour leak is, gasp, somebody in the de facto Bush Administration! Who'd have thunk that the Bushies would stoop so low? (Speaking of Bushies, does Dick Cheney want John McCain to lose? Why else would Mr Radioactive 9% Popularity publicly embrace McCain at this time in the campaign?)

Josh Marshall editorializes about how low down and dirty in a particularly racist way the McCain campaign has been. He hopes an Obama victory is a repudiation of this. I hope so to.

But remember the only reason the GOP has been so overtly racist in this campaign is because the Democrats happened to nominate a black guy; that was the target so they took aim and began blasting away. If it had been Hillary, the sexism would've been out full force, not to mention each and every single Clinton-era smear, each and every bimbo ("Do you want Bill Clinton fucking black prostitutes in the White House AGAIN?" would have been one of their subtle lines), a new and expanded list of the dozens of people the Clintons have (allegedly) had assassinated over the years, Hillarycare (socialism! minus the racial element), the whole nine yards. If the Democrats had nominated Jesus Christ Himself, the Republicans would have charged socialism, immigration, and being soft on crime. Oh, and as a Palestinian, they would have probably come up with multiple connections between Christ and Hamas and Yasser Arafat...

(Meanwhile, I thank the Democrats' lucky stars that MY preferred candidate as of one year ago, white male populist and unfortunately cheater-on-his-cancer-struck-wife John Edwards, did not get the nomination...)

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the civil war, 2008

A parallel between the end of the 2008 Presidential campaign and the US Civil War, led (albeit on opposite sides) by a tall, odd-looking, previously not well known gentleman from Illinois called Abraham Barack Lincoln Obama, and a well-known former military guy turned cranky hothead called John Jefferson Davis McCain.

The fighting in the East has been focused largely in two states: Virginia, where Barack Obama has taken his campaign into enemy territory. Despite significant home field advantages (a state that hasn't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Keith Richards was young and the baseball A's still played in Kansas City), the Obama team has forced John McCain on the defensive with its intense forays into the state. If Obama wins in Virginia, McCain is in trouble. To put it mildly.

And then McCain has to hope his one major raid into enemy territory held by John Kerry in 2004 succeeds. McCain would have to win Pennsylvania. So he's been sending in an invasion force of out of state volunteers to see whether his side can pull out a surprise victory in (Gettysburg) Pennsylvania that would force England and France to recognize the Confederacy, I mean would (assuming he can hold most of the other states that de facto President George W. Bush, even more incompetent than Franklin Pierce or James Buchanan, won in 2004) let McCain eke out an electoral college victory.

And you thought I was going to say something nasty about McCain and race-baiting, didn't you? Well, he and Sarah Palin and the rest of the GOP campaign have been pretty egregious in their resort to nasty name calling, implications that we don't know "who Barack Obama is". Assertions that he is "disrespectful," which David Gergin, a Southerner, said was a well understood code word for being "uppity" - I'm sure Jefferson Davis would have understood that well. Repeatedly alleging thru surrogates Obama is a Muslim (and what's wrong with that anyway, asks Colin Powell correctly?) and all the rest of it. Oh, and he's a Socialist. And he isn't a plumber. And he probably lusts after white women in his heart. And he eats babies, alive.

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the seal of approval

Some guy called Ken Duberstein has said on CNN that he will vote for Barack Obama for President. Who's he? Some socialist Marxist liberal college professor neo-Nazi anti-Jewish anti-American redistributionist domestic terrorist bleeding heart black nationalist baby killing pedophiliac college professor from somewhere in UnReal America like Chicago or New York City or Arlington, Virginia or San Francisco?

No. Duberstein was President Ronald Reagan's chief of staff.

Sayeth Duberstein, "Well let's put it this way - I think Colin Powell's decision is in fact the good housekeeping seal of approval on Barack Obama."