Sunday, August 31, 2008

Enquiring Minds Want To Know

[UPDATE]: 17-year-old Bristol Palin is five months pregnant. Family values, yada yada.

Cripes, did anyone on the McCain campaign vet this woman? Anyone? Imagine if this were the daughter of the Democratic candidate. The pearl clutching. The gasps. The Jamie Lynn Spears-style outrage. You know it's true.


Oh, my. The folks at Gawker have come up with the most hilarious graphic to go with the latest internet rumor:
For the record, folks like Andrew Sullivan have been all over this story since Friday.

While it sounds ridiculous at first blush, there is some corroborating evidence: for instance, the notion that Palin was apparently able to keep her pregnancy hidden, not only from the public but even from her closest staff, suspends belief. The fact that her daughter was supposedly absent from school for 5 months because of mono is a little ... convenient.

But it's all too sleazy and demeaning for someone like me to dirty my pretty little mind worrying about. Let's get the National Enquirer on the story, like the way they were all over John Edwards' love child.

It would be irresponsible not to. After all, the public has a right to know.


Oh for God’s sake. It seems Cindy McCain got the latest talking point and claims Sarah Palin does too! have foreign policy experience, since Russia borders on Alaska.

We heard this same claim on Friday from Fox News. As I said last week, George W. Bush made the same ridiculous claim back in 2000 because Texas shares a border with Mexico.

That worked out so well for us.

(Yes, that’s a sarcarsm alert). And George W. Bush had six years as Texas’ governor; Palin has been Alaska’s governor for all of two.

Apparently the Kool-Aid drinkers have spent the weekend desperately trying to prop up this lightweight. They say Palin has “more executive experience than Obama and Biden combined.”


Yeah, and you can add McCain to that list, too. But two years as governor of Alaska ain’t much to crow about in the experience department. There’s just no way her tenure as mayor of the 6,700-population podunk town of Wasilla, Alaska, prepared her for the kinds of issues the nation at large faces. Cripes, even the podunk Kentucky town where my husband is from is bigger than that.

This entire argument is insulting. Someone needs to say it, and I guess it will be me. Do not even try to compare Sarah Palin's experience with Barack Obama's, or I will smack you down.

Barack Obama taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago for 12 years. He was an Illinois State Senator for eight years and a U.S. Senator for nearly three. He has degrees from Columbia and Harvard Law School. Palin has a communications degree from the University of Idaho?

Please. The attempt to elevate this novice to national politics before she’s been tried and tested isn’t just offensive, it’s dangerous.

It’s clear she was picked for her religion and her genitalia. As a woman, and a Christian, I find that offensives.

As an American, I’m horrified that the GOP doesn’t take these matters more seriously. Competence matters. Just ask “Brownie.”

Friday, August 29, 2008

Feel Good Fridays

Having done two political posts already today, I'm not sure this entirely qualifies for a politics-free Feelgood Friday ... especially since I'm quite certain Sarah Palin has a starring role in this video. But FWIW:

Wrong Again

Just one month ago our mainstream media had all but scratched Sarah Palin off the Veep list because of ethical questions raised when she allegedly tried to get her sister's husband fired while the couple was embroiled in a bitter divorce. When the state's Public Safety Commissioner refused, so the story goes, Palin fired him instead. The Washington Post’s blog on July 31 had this:
McCain-Palin ticket hits Alaska iceberg

Palin has some awesome popularity ratings with Alaskan voters, something above 80 percent.

But now Palin is also caught up in a probe of her official conduct that probably nixes whatever long-shot chance she had to be on the McCain ticket. After all, she's only been a governor for two years.

Questions have arisen over whether Palin used her office to try and fire her ex brother-in-law from a state trooper's position. Palin asserts the charge is untrue but the Alaska Senate this week approved the hiring of an independent investigator to look into the charges.

Oh well, so much for that.

According to Bloomberg News, the investigation of Palin is still active:

Aug. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's appeal as a corruption-fighting outsider may be undercut by a legislative probe of her conduct in a personnel case.


The Alaska Legislature voted last month to investigate allegations that Palin dismissed the state's public safety commissioner after the commissioner resisted pressure to fire a state trooper involved in a contentious divorce from Palin's sister.

The legislature has hired a former district attorney to investigate the case and asked him to issue a report by Oct. 31 - - just before the Nov. 4 general election, state Senator Hollis French said in an interview.

Palin fired the public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, on July 11. Several days later, Monegan said he had been pressured by members of Palin's administration and family to fire state trooper Mike Wooten, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

Well, with the report due four days before the presidential election, three guesses what it’s going to say. Compared to doctoring Bush's National Guard records, this fix should be easy.

Alaska Is Next To Russia?

Fox News informs us that Sarah Palin does too have foreign policy experience because Alaska is next to Russia!

OMG. Remember this?
And there was something undeniably unusual about the governor turning to the arena of international affairs as he sought to regain his balance.

But his advisers said that the speech was scheduled weeks ago, and they noted that unlike several of his previous addresses on international affairs, this one allowed him to claim some firsthand knowledge of the subject, given that Texas and Mexico share a border.

Yes, it really is more of the same, no?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Horses Mouth

John McCain thinks Iraq is "a peaceful and stable country now.” Seriously. Follow the link and listen to the clip yourself.

Let’s take a look at this ”peaceful and stable country,” shall we?
It's been two days since Rania Ibrahim, 15, was detained by Iraqi Security Forces when they discovered the explosive packed vest around her chest in the northern city of Baqouba.

At first she told police that she had no idea where the vest came from, the next day she told me her husband's relatives gave it to her but she didn't want to die, she didn't know what the vest was.

Today her story changes yet again. She tells us that her husband told her about the beauty of death, convinced her that paradise awaited her if she killed herself and others for the cause of Al Qaida in Iraq.

Teenage suicide bombers are a sign of a peaceful, stable country?

Here’s a story from August 26:

BAGHDAD — A bomb killed at least 25 people in an attack on a group of Iraqi police recruits outside a police station in northern Diyala Province on Tuesday, Iraqi security officials said.

Here’s one from August 15:

Iraq bombing kills 15

BAGHDAD -- A suicide bomber killed 15 people Sunday night, including at least six U.S.-backed Sunni Arab fighters, near a crowded outdoor market in east Baghdad, security officials and local leaders said.

I know, I’m cherry-picking the bad news. There’s been good news, too. Like the one about the world’s biggest Ferris Wheel coming to Iraq. Some folks wonder how it will turn without electricity:

I can not describe the pain of my heart when I read the news. I even can not my feelings now. I wish I can cry. I wish I had power to do something, to change this ill reality. We don't have power in our houses and our great officials plan to build the biggest Ferris wheel.

Yesterday was one more hot and moist day of August. We don't have an air conditioner in our house because we don't have enough power. I can buy four but they will be not more than a decoration. We use the air cooler which is not really effective but it's better than nothing. I spent the day at home. My two years old son was crying all the time because the poor child can not stand the hot weather. I tried to keep him always near the air cooler but its never enough. My son is only one child. We have hundreds of thousands all over Iraq.

Instead of building new power plants, our government is planning to waste our money by doing useless projects. With the beginning of 2008, The PM said that 2008 would be the year of building and reconstruction. It looks that the rebuilding of our government means only changing the pavements and planting few flowers here and there.

That’s some peaceful, stable country you have there, Senator McCain.

American Morans, V.2

Jean Mosley of Madison, TN, thinks Nashville needs a law to make people "stop speaking Mexican."

I have a deal for Ms. Mosley. Why don’t you learn to speak English first? Then we can talk about what language all the people who weren’t born in this country speak.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008


The roll call vote from the floor of the Democratic National Convention brought tears to my eyes. This whole phony "Hillary vs Obama" nonsense has been such a media fabrication from the get-go.

Hillary Clinton's forceful action toward a unified Democratic Party was awesome.

And that nattering nabob known as Pat Buchanan, who just whined how he "wanted a real roll call vote?"

Fuck you.

Strange Notions Of Public Service

The always wonderful Attaturk points us to this delightful piece of asshattery from the steadily declining David Brooks. Brooks has clearly jumped the shark and is showing signs of blathering senility in this interview where he discusses John McCain’s “Estate-Gate”:
NORRIS: David, how much does this hurt John McCain, particularly as so many Americans are losing the one home that they have in the foreclosure crisis?

Mr. BROOKS: I’d say medium. You know, we’ve got a vast oversupply of houses. And if Cindy McCain is using her money to soak up some of that oversupply and build up the price, I think that’s a notable public service and we should all buy multiple homes.

This actually explains a lot. For one thing, it tells us why conservatives are so miserably inept at leading the government. They have no fucking clue what “public service” means.

Remember how Mitt Romney’s sons bravely served their country by working on their father’s presidential campaign?

Remember when President Bush told us to stick it to the terrorists by going shopping?

Remember how Senator Rick Santorum told us to serve our country by putting a yellow ribbon on our cars?

”What I'm asking all of you tonight is not to put on a uniform. Put on a bumper sticker. Is it that much to ask? Is it that much to ask to step up and serve your country?"

Yes indeed. Conservatives do have a very twisted view of “service” these days. That World War II idea of sacrificing your nylons and rationing your sugar and gasoline is so old-fashioned!

Of course, we can't really blame them. It seems for so many of these folks, the idea of service is an alien one because frankly they've had everything handed to them all their life and they wouldn't know how to "serve" if their life depended on it.

Here’s a clue: if it’s too easy and money is involved, you’re not doing it right.

Meanwhile, Back At The War

While everyone is busy focusing on the Democratic Convention and our presidential horserace war wages on:
U.S. Killed 90, Including 60 Children, in Afghan Village, U.N. Finds

KABUL, Afghanistan — A United Nations human rights team has found “convincing evidence” that 90 civilians — among them 60 children — were killed in airstrikes on a village in western Afghanistan on Friday, according to the United Nations mission in Kabul.

If the assertion proves to be correct, this would almost certainly be the deadliest case of civilian casualties caused by any United States military operation in Afghanistan since 2001.

The United Nations statement adds pressure to the United States military, which maintains that 25 militants and 5 civilians were killed in the airstrikes, but has ordered an investigation after Afghan officials reported the higher civilian death toll.

The United Nations team visited the scene and interviewed survivors and local officials and elders, getting a name, age and gender of each person reported killed. The team reported that 15 people had been wounded in the airstrikes.

The numbers closely match those given by a government commission sent from Kabul to investigate the bombing, which put the total dead at up to 95.

Mohammad Iqbal Safi, the head of the parliamentary defense committee and a member of the government commission, said the 60 children were 3 months old to 16 years old, all killed as they slept. “It was a heartbreaking scene,” he said.

The U.S. military said five civillians were killed? The Afghans say 95 and the United Nations, 90.


That's some fancy new math.

Once upon a time, such incidents would spark outrage, maybe even a little soul searching, among Americans. Now, we can’t even be bothered to pay attention. We’d rather focus on the people in the funny hats at the convention hall.

Shame on us.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Did An Election Ploy Fumble?

English First fails on a legal technicality ... for now:
In a letter to the Davidson Country [sic] Election Commission, the Metro director of law stated that the English Only charter amendment proposal cannot appear on the November ballot because of a legal technicality.

Metro Director of Law Sue Cain said in her letter that the English Only proposal would not clear the charter required two-year waiting period for charter amendment referendums.

Awww. So we have to wait until 2010 to vote on this? OMG! How will the GOP rally their true believers to the polls this November, with a dud like McCain on the ticket?

Never fear. As I alerted folks in this post, 2010 is the really big election year anyway, on account of the Census-required redistricting. Whoever is in power in 2010 will determine congressional districts for the next generation.

It’s always good for Republicans.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Sinclair Broadcasting: They’re Baaaack

Who said conservatives don’t believe in recycling? Just like in 2004 we have conservatives labeling the Democratic presidential candidate as “elitist” and "unpatriotic." Just like in 2004 we have Jerome Corsi concocting bizarre lies about the Democratic presidential candidate and writing a book about it. And just like in 2004 we have Sinclair Broadcasting abusing the public airwaves to spread right-wing smears against the Democratic nominee.

Politico has the goods:
Sen. Barack Obama has launched an all-out effort to block a Republican billionaire’s efforts to tie him to domestic and foreign terrorists in a wave of negative television ads.

Obama’s campaign has written the Department of Justice demanding a criminal investigation of the “American Issues Project,” the vehicle through which Dallas investor Harold Simmons is financing the advertisements. The Obama campaign — and tens of thousands of supporters — also is pressuring television networks and affiliates to reject the ads. The effort has met with some success: CNN and Fox News are not airing the attacks.


One large group of network affiliates, the Sinclair Broadcast Group – which aired an documentary attacking John Kerry in 2004 — has been running the ads, Obama aides said. The campaign has launched a special effort to pressure Sinclair.

“Obama supporters have now sent more than 93,000 e-mails to the Sinclair stations that have decided to run the ad,” said Obama’s spokesman Tommy Vietor. “Other stations that follow Sinclair’s lead should expect a similar response from people who don’t want the political discourse cheapened with these false, negative attacks.”


Its financier, Simmons, who made his first fortune in chain pharmacies, was a major donor to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the group that damaged Kerry in 2004 by questioning his patriotism.

I have to say, this is the first I’ve heard of this ad or a letter-writing campaign targeting Sinclair. But it was completely, 100% predictable. I was wondering when this particular confluence of crap was going to rear its ugly head. Who wants to bet there will be a "Stolen Honor”-style biopic ready for broadcast on Sinclair stations two weeks before election day?

Wake Up America has posted the ad for anyone who wants to see it. It’s pretty dang sleazy, if you ask me. It fabricates a “relationship” between Obama and Weather Underground member William Ayers, which the Washington Post debunks.

It’s SOP that conservatives will wade neck-deep in the mud to win elections, attacking Democrats’ patriotism and labeling us with their favorite slurs: anti-American, eltist, DFH, slacker, welfare queen, terrorist, you name it. We knew this was coming.

What’s truly reprehensible is that a corporation like Sinclair will misuse the public airwaves to spread lies and deception to further a political agenda. That’s a violation of public trust.

I am so waiting for the day when we can yank these clowns' license.

You Say Messiah Like It’s A Bad Thing

The folks at Pandagon point us to NRO’s latest Obama-mocking. Apparently someone thinks the backdrop at the Pepsi Center looks too reminiscent of a church manger scene for this crowd, so of course Obama must be mocked for comparing himself to the Messiah.

We've heard this whole “Messiah” thing from trolls for the past month or so; it's the new talking point that the right is using. They seem to feel they can get traction with it, so expect to see a lot more "Messiah-bashing" as the campaign wears on. Jesse Taylor at Pandagon writes:
I guarantee you this is the histrionic attack that comes out of the convention - Obama’s step over the line from media Messianism to literal Messianism.  God help him if he’s seen anywhere near a loaf of bread. 

Indeed. That was the message that came out of Obama’s overseas trip: he’s too popular. It’s a little scary. People might follow him over a cliff, or something!

I'm trying hard to remember any president that didn't have a bigger Messiah complex than George W. Bush.

Nothing says "Savior" better than hawking car magnets that look like this:

Or printing pictures like this:

Or even THIS:

It never fails. When the right attacks, they do so using an image or label they've co-opted for themselves successfully, then twisting it into something ugly. This was as predictable as the 2004 attacks on John Kerry's war service.

The best way to counter such smears? Point your fingers at them and laugh, people. It's really all so childish.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Coming To A Pharmacy Near You

Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Just as I predicted back in October, there’s a move by three area Christian colleges to churn out hundreds of “Christian worldview” pharmacists.

Just as Regent University was founded to churn out God’s legal team, we’ve got Union, Lipscomb and Belmont ready to pop out morning after pill-opposing, Gardasil-hating, birth-control-is-the-same-as-abortion-believing pharmacists. The fundamentalist Christian worldview is not one shared by the majority of Americans, but by hook or by crook they will impose their belief system on you. Whether you agree with it or not.

Don’t for a moment think this won’t be very, very bad for women’s health. In a state like Tennessee, which is predominantly rural, there simply is not the plethora of pharmacy choices that one finds in urban areas. Come to think of it, with increasing corporatization, urban areas are losing out in that respect, too. Competition used to be a hallmark of the free market economy, but not anymore. Everything is Wal-mart and Walgreen’s these days.

Don’t even start that “free hand of the market” crap with me. That’s a fantasy that Ayn Rand sold on a bunch of idealists too naive to realize they were being pressed into the service of Acme Holdings, Inc. In the global economy, there is no free hand of the market, there’s a jackboot ready to kick citizens into submission. When one corporation has grown into the world’s largest retailer and America’s largest private employer, the notion of any “free hand of the market” is an adolescent fantasy.

And don’t for a moment underestimate what this means for us politically.

Because sure as the GOP used anti-choice and anti-gay-marriage state amendments to flog their base to the polls every four years, we’re going to start seeing “conscience clause” legislation work its way through the state legislatures. You can count on it. I used to wonder what this crowd would do once they'd played out flag-waving, abortion, and gay-bashing. But the truth is, they'll never run out of issues. There's always going to be one more issue that appeals to the lizard brain of the American mind.

Just in time for mid-terms in 2010. Why is that important? Because 2010 is a census year, which determines each state’s Congressional seats:
Federal law requires the Clerk of the House to notify each state government of its entitled number of seats no later than January 25 of the year immediately following the census. After seats have been reapportioned, each state determines the boundaries of Congressional districts—geographical areas within the state of approximately equal population—in a process called redistricting.

Yes, elections do have consequences--even in off-years.

There is no “Christian worldview” of the law, and there is no “Christian worldview” of the pharmacy. The only “worldview” is in the hands of the consumer. If you think birth control equals murder, then don’t use it. If you don’t think you can in good conscience dispense birth control, or morning after pills, or anything else, then find another line of work. There’s no “opt-out” option here. There aren’t too many vegans working at the butcher shop at Kroger, are there? See any Scientologists working as psychotherapists? How about Mormons working at beer distributorships?

To the fundamentalist Christians I say: you cannot force your beliefs on other people. To the Republican Party I say: You cannot keep manipulating your way into a Republican majority. These issues are deeply interconnected to me. And to both groups I say: this will backfire on you, miserably.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

IOKIYAR: Veepstakes Edition

I love it when conservatives start throwing the labels around. There’s something so terribly hypocritical about it.

Now with the announcement that Joe Biden is Barack Obama’s running mate we have a lovely new label being tossed about by the right: insider.

OMG. Someone alert the media. Yes, after 35 years in the Senate, Joe Biden is a Washington insider!!!! We’re doooooomed!!!!!

Please. So John McCain was first elected to office in 1982, but he’s not a Washington insider? Meanwhile, Barack Obama is too inexperienced to be president?

Okie dokie. This ranks up there with the “Barack is a scary Muslim with a crazy Christian pastor” meme for convenient contradictions. Whatever it takes to slam the opposition, right?


(h/t, Kleinheider) .

So It's Biden

And CNN is repeating that "articulate and bright" statement. It's 7 am.


Now CNN is running the McCain campaign's "response" ad to the Biden announcement. It's nice that the McCain campaign doesn't actually have to pay for any advertising, since it will run as a news story. At some point management at these news channels will realize they're cannibalizing themselves by running campaign ads as news stories. Something about why buy the cow when the milk is free?

But I digress.

I'm still mulling this decision. I know Biden will not please the netroots crowd, with his support for the war and also the bankruptcy bill. Those Hillary holdouts will no doubt stamp their feet and shout that they're voting for McCain now. This argument still makes no sense to me--you think that will teach the Democratic Party a lesson or something? What are you, five years old? Grow up.

Biden is a Roman Catholic and while I don't have a problem with that, we should be prepared for another round of Catholic League types denying him communion. That's a given. Biden is a tough talker, so I would hope that those smears from the right will get some kind of immediate response. I don't mind that he's considered something of a loose cannon--that stuff's all just partisan spinning, and you can't beat the gaffes that McCain has given us so far.

No one on the left seriously thought Obama would pick Dennis Kucinich to be his running mate, so I think we were all prepared for a choice not geared for our needs.

Friday, August 22, 2008

IOKIYAR ... On Steroids!

It was only a matter of time before the partisans at Fox News came up with this one:
Fox News: “Is Obama Bashing ‘American Dream’ By Bashing McCain’s 7 Homes?”

On Fox News’ Your World, host Neil Cavuto defended John McCain’s inability to recall the number of homes he owns by attacking critics who have sought to highlight McCain’s failure. He opened the segment by asking, “Well, instead of slamming McCain, is Obama really bashing the American Dream?”

Dude, you’re on the side that keeps bashing the American Dream, with your “elitist” slurs and attacks on Obama’s education. And I don’t know about you, but the guy raised by a single mother who attended school on a scholarship is more representative of the American Dream to me than the one who dumped his wife for a wealthy heiress. But I guess it depends on what you mean by “dream.”

I’ve always been amazed at the chutzpah of conservatives to attack their opponents for being what they themselves are to the 100th degree. Look, we aren’t voting for dog catcher here. This is the president of the United States. If he isn’t smarter, better looking, better educated, more well traveled, more experienced, wealthier and better connected than me, why the heck would I want him in the highest office of the land? Average Joe cannot do this job. It takes someone spectacular.

Come on, people. This stupidity has got to stop.

This Is Not Elitist

Or out of touch. Or country club. Or resembling a celebrity in any way. How dare you even think such a thing. After all, He's a POW:
Price: $12,000,000
Bedrooms: 9
Bathrooms: 8
Garage: -
Square Feet: 14,000
Lot Size: -

Former home of Sen John & Cindy McCain. Situated on over 2.5 acres. Totally remodeled in Old World style complete w/7 bedrooms in main house & 6 bedrooms in guest houses. Hardwood & travertine floors throughout. Master suite has huge walk-in w/private cantera stone patio w/spa and fplc. Gourmet kitchen has travertine floors, granite counters, comercial SS apliances w/large catering room/butlers pantry off kitchen. 2 guest houses. His/her dressing cabana. Finest entertaining backyard in the Valley - 3 ramadas (2 w/full bar set-up), BBQ, play house, cantera stone decking, pavillion, spa and large lap/play pool. 7 car detached garage...

That BBQ comes in handy to keep the press in your corner: "Just another grandpa at the grill," after all.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Being A POW Means Never Having To Say You're Sorry


Addressing these rumors, it's worth remembering that multi-millionaire Mitt Romney (who is not a POW), owns at least three houses:
Unlike the two of them, Romney has a privileged pedigree, having grown up in tony Bloomfield Hills, Mich., as the son of a former governor and chairman of American Motors. After leaving home, Romney attended Harvard law and business schools, and quickly earned millions of dollars as a venture capitalist. He has three homes, a colonial in Belmont, Mass., that has a tennis court, a lakeside house in Wolfeboro, N.H., with a boat house and stables, and a wood-beamed ski house in Deer Valley, Utah.

In the upside-down world of IOKIYAR, this will not be a problem for the Republican candidate. He will never, ever be portrayed as elitist, "country club," out of touch, or any of those things we know the self-starting community organizer from Chicago to be.



As I noted in this post, John McCain’s campaign is now trotting out his POW stint as a magic Band-Aid® to fix all sorts of verbal snafus.

Today’s fixer: his “memory lapse” over the number of homes he and Cindy own:

The McCain campaign is road-testing a new argument in responding to Obama's criticism of his number-of-houses gaffe, an approach the McCain camp has never tried before: The houses gaffe doesn't matter because ... he was a POW!

"This is a guy who lived in one house for five and a half years -- in prison," spokesman Brian Rogers told the Washington Post.
For those of you who haven't kept track, the McCain campaign just recently cited McCain's POW years in explaining away the Miss Buffalo Chip gaffe, and in dealing with the allegation that he broke the rules and listened in on Barack Obama during the Rick Warren forum.

I’m sorry John McCain was a POW, really. If I’d been allowed to vote back then, I wouldn’t have supported any politician who sent our troops to Vietnam. Too bad I was only six.

But it doesn’t give you a pass on pimping your wife for a wet T-shirt contest, and it doesn’t explain why you defaulted on your property taxes in La Jolla. And no, it doesn’t automatically qualify you for the White House, either.

Geez, he’s getting a bad as Mr. 9-11.

(h/t, Atrios)

Will We Stay Or Will We Go Now?

Funny how words that were forbidden in the last presidential campaign are being tossed about like rose petals now. For instance:

Republicans, 2005:
KWAME HOLMAN: Meanwhile, a parallel debate developed over the issue of getting out of Iraq. Senate Democrats call for President Bush to provide dates for troop withdrawal was rejected by Republicans who argued establishing a time line would have negative consequences.

SEN. BILL FRIST: Some have referred to this as the cut and run provision; that is, pick an arbitrary time line and get out of Iraq regardless of what is happening on the ground.

Republicans, August 2008:

BAGHDAD (AP) — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Thursday that U.S. and Iraqi officials agree that timetables should be set for a U.S. troop withdrawal, but conceded that nailing down a broader pact on future relations is difficult.

President Bush, November 2005:

But Mr. Bush refused again to set a timetable for a U.S. withdrawal, saying conditions in Iraq will dictate when American forces can come home. He said setting a deadline to pull out is "not a plan for victory."

John McCain, July 2008:

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Sen. John McCain could support a 16-month timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, he told CNN's Larry King Monday night.

President Bush, April 2007:

Speaking in the Midwest state of Michigan Friday, Mr. Bush again criticized opposition Democrats for calling for a timetable for troop withdrawal, saying it undercuts U.S. forces at a time when there are signs of progress.
Bush Administration, July 2008:
WASHINGTON —  The United States and Iraq have agreed to seek "a general time horizon" for deeper reductions in American combat troops in Iraq despite President Bush's once-inflexible opposition to talking about deadlines and timetables.

I realize the Administration will claim we can now use such no-no words as “timetables” and “withdrawal” because of the success of the Glorious SurgeTM, but let’s not forget that Iraq’s sovereignty was a big issue stalling this security pact just two months ago. I’ve also long been of the belief that as soon as U.S. troops leave Iraq--whenever that may be--we’ll see a return of sectarian violence. For one thing, there are still troubling signs of deep sectarian division in Iraq. I’m not sure you can call the surge a success if the gains evaporate as soon as we leave.

But of course, that’s why we have all those private contractors, right? A ratio of 1:1, in fact. So even when U.S. troops do leave Iraq, will all of those Blackwater and DynCorp employees be left behind? Is it still really a withdrawal if 190,000 Americans are still there, ensuring our interests are served?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

English First’s Tainted Money Trail


The Tennessean is on top of the story. Kudos to Michael Cass. Apologies for any mean thing I ever said about the Tennessean.


Our local media is finally getting some answers on who is funding Eric Crafton’s English First amendment. Apparently nearly $20,000 and legal assistance came from a national group called ProEnglish, which is part of a larger group called U.S. Inc. Their founder, John Tanton, is on ProEnglish’s board of directors. The Tennessean identified Tanton as “a Michigan eye surgeon” who “also founded the Federation for American Immigration Reform” (FAIR).

Isn't that nice.

Well, I did a little Googling of my own, and found (rather easily, I might add) that the Southern Poverty Law Center lists FAIR as a hate group.

And there’s more. Lots more: here’s what the SPLC has to say about Tanton, FAIR and U.S. Inc.:
For decades, John Tanton has operated a nativist empire out of his U.S. Inc. foundation's headquarters in Petoskey, Mich. Even as he simultaneously runs his own hate group — The Social Contract Press, listed for many years by the Southern Poverty Law Center because of its anti-Latino and white supremacist writings — Tanton has remained the house intellectual for FAIR. In fact, U.S. Inc. bankrolls much of FAIR's lobbying activity and, at least until 2005, Tanton ran its Research and Publications Committee, the group that fashions and then disseminates FAIR's position papers. In its 2004 annual report, FAIR highlighted its own main ideologue, singing Tanton's praises for "visionary qualities that have not waned one bit."

But what, exactly, is Tanton's vision?

As long ago as 1988, when a series of internal 1986 documents known as the WITAN memos were leaked to the press, Tanton's bigoted attitudes have been known. In the memos, written to colleagues on the staff of FAIR, Tanton warned of a coming "Latin onslaught" and worried that high Latino birth rates would lead "the present majority to hand over its political power to a group that is simply more fertile." Tanton repeatedly demeaned Latinos in the memos, asking whether they would "bring with them the tradition of the mordida [bribe], the lack of involvement in public affairs" and also questioning Latinos' "educability."

Echoing his 19th-century nativist forebears who feared Catholic immigrants from Italy and Ireland, Tanton has often attacked Catholics in terms not so different from those used by the Klan and the Know-Nothing Party of the 1840s. In the WITAN memos, for instance, he worried that Latino immigrants would endanger the separation of church and state and undermine support for public schooling. Never one to miss a threatening and fertile Catholic, Tanton even reminded his colleagues, "Keep in mind that many of the Vietnamese coming in are also Catholic."

The leaked memos caused an uproar. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Walter Cronkite quit the board of a group Tanton headed, U.S. English, after the memos became public in 1988. U.S. English Executive Director Linda Chavez — a former Reagan Administration official and, later, a conservative commentator — also left, calling Tanton's views "anti-Hispanic, anti-Catholic and not excusable."

You can read one of Tanton's race-bating WITAN memos here.

According to the SPLC, Mr. Tanton is a one-man, anti-immigrant empire. The list of 13 groups Tanton has founded or funded includes U.S. Inc., U.S. English, NumbersUSA, Pro English, and The Social Contract Press. Several of these groups are avowed hate groups.

John Tanton is a shady character, to be sure. Look what American Progress dug up:

The Tanton-owned Social Contract Press publishes the views of white nationalists such as John Vinson, including a gem about how God prefers racial separation. Tanton also publishes Camp of the Saints, a racist screed that uses fiction to warn white Europeans about an impending invasion of immigrants from India who will overrun the government, kidnap white women and make them into prostitutes.

If members of the mainstream press did their homework, they'd discover that it is pretty easy to get to the bottom of Tanton's network. Dig just a little deeper and they would find what the Southern Poverty Law Center reports—that Tanton received large sums of early money for FAIR from the Pioneer Fund, possibly the last remaining funder of eugenics in the country.

You remember eugenics; it's best-known proponents were the Nazis who tried to demonstrate the power of this pseudo-science by executing millions of Jews, disabled people, and others who did not meet their views of racial purity. A visit to the Pioneer Fund's website is a walk back in time, and not a pleasant one. It contains biographies of board members and grant recipient scholars who support such ideas as black people having smaller brains than people of European or Asian descent, and women being genetically predisposed to have lower IQs than men.

If members of the mainstream press did their homework, we’d all have ponies and ride to ice cream castles in the sky.

Sorry, but come on, people. This stuff isn’t hard.

Every right wing bigot has to have his slush fund for spreading hate, and it’s no surprise to learn that Richard Mellon Scaife is a big Tanton supporter

Tanton's most important funding source for the last two decades may well have been the Scaife family, heirs to the Mellon Bank fortune.

Richard Mellon Scaife, a reclusive figure, has been instrumental in establishing right-wing organizations like the Heritage Foundation and supporting causes like the "Arkansas Project," an effort to dig up dirt on President Clinton.

Scaife family foundations, including those controlled by Scaife's sister, Cordelia May Scaife, provided some $1.4 million to FAIR from 1986-2000.

These foundations, along with private trusts controlled by Scaife family members, have also provided millions of dollars to other anti-immigration groups.

Other foundations that have supported the Tanton network include:

• The McConnell Foundation, whose president, Scott McConnell, is on both FAIR and the Center for Immigration Studies' boards;
• The Shea Foundation, which also funds the Council of Conservative Citizens; and
• The Weeden, Salisbury, Smith Richardson, Blair and Sikes foundations.

There’s more than enough here to cause alarm. I wonder if those thousands of citizens who signed their name to Nashville’s English First petition realize they just gave their name and address to a hate group network who will probably hit them up for funds and support for their future battle against the “savages.”

Thanks a lot, Eric Crafton. Look what slipped in when you opened the barn door. Is this really the kind of people Nashville needs to be doing business with? At least now we know why Crafton was so secretive about his money source.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Memo To Ron Paul Supporters

You can take your signs back now.

Sorry for the double post earlier. I am still unable to see my blog except for the current post, and am unable to see comments. I only have this problem at home; everything is fine if I use the WiFi somewhere else. If anyone knows anything about the internet, let me know. My ISP says they aren't having any server troubles.


Monday, August 18, 2008

John McCain, Fairy Tale Candidate

And by “fairy tale” I do mean in the “I can’t distinguish fact from fiction” sense.

Apparently John McCain told two compelling stories at Saddleback Church over the weekend, both of which are seriously lacking in the credibility department.

First there’s the infamous "cross in the dirt at Christmas” story, which McCain never mentioned in his autobiography or indeed ever before--until this campaign, that is. Some even suggest the story was cribbed from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who unfortunately died last week and therefore cannot weigh in on the issue.

In another instance, McCain repeats a hoax circulated by right-wing bloggers last winter about Al Qaeda using two mentally disabled women as suicide bombers. It doesn’t seem to have happened that way, but hey: it feels true, right?

All of which goes to show that when it comes to saying and doing anything--anything--to get elected, McCain has no shame. He’ll even lie about his faith, to one of the country’s most influential pastors.

And don’t even ask about this whole ”cone of silence” nonsense. Seriously, don’t ask: according to McCain’s spokesperson, questions like that are out of line on account of McCain being a former prisoner of war and all. So I guess we aren’t allowed to question his integrity on anything, ever: not about making up the cross in the sand story, not the Keating Five affair , not whether he cheated on wife Carol with Cindy, not how he helped Cindy evade felony drug charges. Guess he gets a pass.

And I have this to say to Pastor Rick Warren. I have been defending this event all across the blogosphere. I've been telling people it's just a means of allowing the candidates to address a specific constituency, just as they address any other group of voters. But you tilted the scales, buddy. You gave one side an advantage by not ensuring McCain was in the green room before the whole thing began. So maybe folks were right. Maybe there’s a reason we shouldn’t let church folks inexperienced in the cut-throat ways of presidential politics be put in charge of these things.

McCain fabricated a couple of doozies at Saddleback that show him to be the worst sort of hypocrite. One story was carefully crafted to tug the heart-strings of Christian voters; the other, to tug at the trigger fingers of warhawks. Will either group learn the truth of these tales? Will any of us?

Of course not. John McCain was a prisoner of war. How dare we even ask.

More Cat Blogging

Poor Quinn. The pants I made for him last week aren't preventing him from self-mutilating his belly, as he keeps wriggling his way out. This morning he had licked and chewed his belly bloody. So I gave up and went to Target and bought him a onesie. So far, so good.

Moses, bless his heart, is being supportive.

In the meantime, I still seem to be having some kind of internet issues. I can't access my own blog from home, though I can from someone else's WiFi. I'm still trying to figure it out but in the meantime, I'm hoping some cat pics will do. If you comment here, I won't see it until I resolve these issues. So be good to each other.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Hating On Haloscan

I think Haloscan is messed up again, which explains why my blog is so slow loading and comments are unavailable. This is the last straw, as far as I'm concerned. If I can figure out how to de-install Haloscan and use Blogger for my commenting I think I will.

Why I Can’t Watch The Olympics

No, it has nothing to do with Darfur, or China’s human rights record, or their treatment of Buddhist monks in TIbet.

I simply can’t stay up that late. And I’m trying, trust me. I fell asleep, remote control in hand, trying to catch Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson Thursday night. Somewhere between the vault and uneven bars I succumbed. I think it was around 11 pm.

It really kind of ticks me off. It’s a freaking school night, for crying out loud! NBC: why did I have to watch an hour of swimming preliminaries? I could care less about preliminaries. Unless you’re an avid follower of the sport, or something really unusual happens, no one cares about preliminaries.

So, prime time is filled with coverage of preliminary heats that no one cares about, while big-viewership events like women’s gymnastics are on at midnight. What idiot at NBC thought that was a good idea?

And yes, apparently all of this is NBC’s fault. In a story about Michael Phelps in today’s New York Times, I learned this:
For the first time, the Olympic finals have been contested between 10 a.m. and noon instead of at night. NBC, which owns the broadcasting rights to the Games in the United States, wanted it that way so that Phelps’s pursuit of Spitz could be shown in prime time.

Oh, wow. So it really is all about American TV viewers? Great. I want to see Phelps win his medals, too. But I’m interested in some other events, as well. And frankly, I’m not so much of an enthusiast that I have to see it live.

I remember the whole broadcast-time thing being an issue when the summer games were held in South Korea and Australia, too. And it seems to me that the traditional way of broadcasting the games just doesn’t work anymore. There needs to be some kind of on-demand thing offered, where folks can subscribe to those events they care about watching. At least tell us what time these events come on so we can set the TiVo, for crying out loud.

NBC is holding on to its Olympics broadcast rights with both hands, but the result is that I’m watching less Olympics coverage than ever before. I really don’t care about volleyball or preliminary heats in swimming and track and field. I’m never told exactly when those events I do want to see will be broadcast. So we end up flipping around the channels, watching other stuff and only by the luck of the draw catching an event of interest. It’s frustrating and at this point I’m ready to give up.

I’ll just read about it in the paper the next day.

Friday, August 15, 2008

What A Difference 2 Months Makes

Back in June I wrote about gas hitting hit $3.98/gallon.

Today I filled up at that same station for $3.59/gallon. The sad thing is, I feel like I’m getting a bargain.

Mission accomplished, indeed.

Kids Say The Darnedest Things

Like, for instance, telling Bill O'Reilly he's full of shit. From the mouths of babes:

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Summer Foot Blogging

This one's for the Atriots and my mari d'hiver.

Saying No To Sean Hannity

I’ve never agreed with his politics, but I’ve always appreciated how Christian singer Michael W. Smith gives back to the community via his Rocketown teen club and other charitable efforts. To my knowledge he’s always kept his politics out of his charitable work, so this surprised and disappointed me:
Fox News’ resident bomb-thrower will be in town for the Rally for Rocketown, a fundraiser for Michael W. Smith’s teen outreach center. Loved by conservatives, loathed by liberals, Hannity is sure to be at his incendiary best, especially since the event coincides with the Obama-McCain debate at Belmont.

The talk-show host will speak and take questions from the audience. Bonus round for the financially blessed: “Table hosts and sponsors will be invited to meet Hannity and have a photo during a private VIP reception prior to the luncheon,” according to the announcement. Smith and “special guests” will also perform.

Ick. I don’t see the point of holding a fundraiser for a non-profit by featuring a divisive, controversial, partisan character like Sean Hannity. Way to bring the community together for your cause .... or not.

Hannity lies about liberals regularly , has used his show to spread character smears against Barack Obama, John Kerry and other prominent Democrats (whatever happened to that 9th commandment?), and his book was on the reading list of Knoxville church shooter Jim Adkisson. By its fruits, indeed.

This is the guy you’re trotting out to raise money for a Christian teen outreach center? No thanks. Count me out.

Sorry Smitty, you've just gone down a notch in my estimation.

Still Dropping

According to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report, gas prices are still dropping. The national average for regular unleaded is $3.77, down from a high of $4.11 a month ago. However, locally I’ve seen prices at $3.67 around town.

This reminds me that back in April when gas prices started climbing into the stratosphere, local conservative yakker Steve Gill said it was the Democrats’ fault.

Well, bless his heart.

So, now that gas prices are falling, do Democrats get the credit? Since they were in charge back in May when Congress voted to stop adding to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, over Republicans’ objections?
Estimates of the impact of suspending the deposits varied. Some economists predicted the impact would be negligible, while Speaker Nancy Pelosi, citing others who have studied the issue, said prices could drop 5 to 24 cents a gallon.

But Representative Joe L. Barton of Texas, the senior Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee, said the measure was meaningless. “If all the members of the House would go out onto the steps and clap our hands three times and say, ‘Down prices, down prices,’ that would have as much impact as passing this bill,” he said.

Heh. But gas prices are dropping. No new oil wells have been drilled. ANWAR is still a wildlife refuge.

So suck on it Congressman Barton. And you can take Rep. Michelle Bachman with you, since she thinks ANWAR is the “most perfect place on earth” to drill for oil.

Maybe she needs to check out the Middle East?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

There He Goes Again

Via Wonkette, enquiring minds want to know: Was Bush falling down drunk at the Olympics?

Let's get the National Enquirer on the story! After all, they've covered the boozing Bush story before. Since they are now the must trusted name in news, I say it would be irresponsible for the major networks NOT to cover it!

I Got Yer Tiny Cat Pants Right Here

Okay, maybe not so tiny. Maybe ... kinda portly.

For the record, we are not the kind of people who get our jollies out of dressing up our pets (Christmas elf costumes notwithstanding). However, Quinnie has a severe skin rash that has defied diagnosis (and cost a fortune, I might add).

We've finally resorted to a veterinary dermatologist, who can't see him until October.

So for the next eight weeks, until we can get the belly rash issue solved, we had to do something to keep him from licking himself bloody.

We think he's taking it rather well, all things considered.

I See Your Fantaticism And Raise You One Zealotry With A Side Of Biblical Illiteracy

Rep. Michelle Bachman, R-Wingnuttia, takes the right-wing habit of cherry-picking Bible passages to score political points to new levels of idiocy:
GOP Rep. To Environmentalists: Jesus Already Saved The Planet

"[Pelosi] is committed to her global warming fanaticism to the point where she has said that she's just trying to save the planet," Bachmann told the right-wing news site OneNewsNow. "We all know that someone did that over 2,000 years ago, they saved the planet -- we didn't need Nancy Pelosi to do that."

Oooh, saving the planet--bad! There goes the premise of every Hollywood blockbuster of the past 30 years.

By Bachman's logic, why search for a cure for cancer, or AIDs, or any other disease, since Jesus already saved us all 2,000 years ago? Why fight starvation, since those kids with the swollen bellies in Africa were saved 2,000 years ago?

Why--dare I ask it--fight abortion, since those “unborn babies” you’re constantly yammering about were already saved 2,000 years ago?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

NRA Member Of The Week

Some people are just too stupid to be allowed to own guns. Like, this guy:
Wild West City owner pleads not guilty in shooting stunt that left actor paralyzed

by Joe Moszczynski/The Star-Ledger
Monday August 11, 2008, 4:22 PM

The owner of the Wild West City theme park pleaded not guilty today to charges in connection with a shooting during a staged gunfight that left a cowboy actor paralyzed.

Michael Stabile, 59, pleaded not guilty in Superior Court in Newton to 13 charges that include violations of New Jersey firearms laws; aggravated assault; tampering with evidence; hindering apprehension; and violating a law intended to protect the public safety.

The charges stem from the shooting of Scott Harris, 39, during a performance of the "Sundance Skit" at Wild West City in Byram on July 7, 2006, when a bullet struck Harris in the forehead and caused severe brain damage.

The shooter, then a 17-year-old fellow cowboy actor, accidentally loaded a .22-caliber revolver owned by the theme park with real bullets instead of blanks while running late for the shootout skit.

And who thought it was a smart idea to keep the real bullets anywhere near the blanks?


Monday, August 11, 2008

Didn't We Win That War?

Because the other two wars they dragged us into are going so swimmingly, guess who thinks it’s a good idea to go to war with Russia? You guessed it: the usual suspects!
Bill Kristol: [Georgia] has had the third-largest military presence — about 2,000 troops — fighting along with U.S. soldiers and marines in Iraq. For this reason alone, we owe Georgia a serious effort to defend its sovereignty. Surely we cannot simply stand by as an autocratic aggressor gobbles up part of — and perhaps destabilizes all of — a friendly democratic nation.

But wait ... a war with Russia? Really? Didn’t we win that war already?

It’s A Church AND A Movie Marketing Tool

This article reminded me of one of the things I find so reprehensible about the modern evangelical/mega-church movement:
“Today, Christian filmmakers can count on a very savvy pastoral community that’s looking to highlight films like these to their congregations,” says Doug Phillips, founder of the Christian Filmmakers Academy and the 5-year-old San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival.

And it’s just not the Christian message these pastors are endorsing. Phillips said the technological revolution, with the rise of digital, has made it possible to produce quality films at a reasonable price. So reasonable that Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., was able to make “Facing the Lions” for just $100,000 — thanks in large part to its amateur cast. The movie about a small-town football coach who finds hope through a renewed faith in God went on to make more than $10 million.

Alex Kendrick, an associate pastor at Sherwood Baptist who directed the film and played the coach, will unveil his latest movie next month. “Fireproof” is another inspirational Christian movie about a firefighter who saves his struggling marriage by following a 40-day “Love Dare” journal.

You know, I really have a thing about churches that funnel so much time, energy and resources into message carriers like Hollywood movies instead of, you know, actually helping people in need.

It just strikes me as such a vanity-indulging effort for those involved. I’m sure they would argue that this is just a modern way of fulfilling the “Great Commission”. Fair enough. But there’s so much cultural baggage attached to Hollywood film-making. It’s glamorous, there’s a lot of money involved, and it’s definitely an ego-stroking environment. It really doesn’t seem conducive to walking humbly. Most of all, I have to wonder who it's really designed to serve.

I get that there are a lot of ways of serving God and living out one's faith. I understand the whole point of 1 Corinthians about the body of Christ. And I have no problem with people of faith who actually work in the arts and media wanting to express their worldview through the creative process; that's what art is all about.

But for a church to put its treasure into such an endeavor while telling itself that this is mission work -- feh. And those churches that shamelessly hawk Hollywood product at their congregations, using the pulpit as a marketing tool -- double feh. That's just not right.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sign Of The Apocalypse #52

Ben Stein and I actually agree on something:
The sad truth of the last two two-term Republican presidents is that their economic premise, the key part of their economic game plan, simply has not done what it’s supposed to do.

That is, cutting taxes, especially on upper-income Americans, does not generate so much economic activity that it replaces all the lost I.R.S. take and then some. At least those have been the results so far.

Trickle-down is an enduring conservative fantasy but it doesn’t exist. Tax-cuts are a dishonest economic policy because conservatives are also all about increasing defense spending and growing the government, despite what they will tell you. As Stein notes, you can’t have both:

Mr. McCain wants to extend many of President Bush’s income tax cuts and to reduce taxes on corporations. But the facts of life are that we have a large budget deficit, even though some other nations have even larger deficits as percentages of gross domestic product. We have to pay interest on it. As a people and a nation, we owe this money in large part to foreigners — and that can have political implications. The facts of life are that federal spending is almost all untouchable: the military, Social Security, Medicare, interest on the debt, pensions. The discretionary part is tiny.

Every category of federal spending is likely to grow. This means that if we don’t raise taxes, if we keep doing what we’re doing, the immense deficits and debt will not go away — and will probably grow.

The question is simply this: Do we want to step up to the plate like responsible people — I hate to say this, but the last responsible people who actually did this were named Bill and Bob (Clinton and Rubin) — and shoulder our responsibilities? Or do we just kick the can down the road a bit and leave the mess for our children and their children?

And if we do raise taxes, should people who are barely getting by pay them or should people who are getting by very nicely pay them?

Good question.

It’s nice to see someone from the conservative world step up and be an adult, doing some honest truth-talking instead of telling us what we want to hear.

Ben Stein is right. You cannot “starve the beast.” All you can do is pass the bill along to the next generation. That’s been the policy of Bush II. But it is neither sound economic policy nor responsible.

And now McCain is touting more of the same?


Friday, August 8, 2008

Tyson Plant Revises Holiday Plan AGAIN

After catching flack from the Muslim-haters in outter wingnuttia for changing its holiday policy to accommodate Muslim workers, the Tyson plant in Shelbyville, TN, has changed its policy yet again.

ThinkProgress calls this a "cave” to the wackadoodles and forces of darkness. But this actually looks more like a reasonable holiday plan to me:
[M]any anti-immigrant groups and right-wing bloggers called for a boycott of Tyson, saying the contract betrayed an important American holiday and was an improper concession to Islam.

In a news release on Friday, Tyson said it had asked the union to revise the plant’s contract and restore Labor Day as a paid holiday because some Shelbyville employees had expressed concern about the contract’s provisions.

The revised contract again makes Labor Day a paid holiday but also keeps Id al-Fitr (pronounced eed-al-FIT-tr) — which marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting — as a paid holiday for those who want it.

So those who want to take off Labor Day can, and those who want to take off the Muslim holiday can. So what’s the problem?

Of course the Malkin-tents are going to claim another victory, but hey, look at it this way: we liberals can snicker at them for defending a holiday with communist/socialist origins founded by the evil labor unions.



They finally beat it out of him.

Am I disappointed? Yes, a little--as with Bill Clinton and Gary Hart, I just want to ask: What the hell were you thinking? When you're in the media spotlight, it might be a good idea to at least try to make your personal life above reproach. Edwards was not out of the media spotlight in 2006, far from it; he was laying the groundwork for a 2008 presidential campaign. So no, this wasn't smart.

But who am I to judge? I'm not one of those people who is shocked at news of marital infidelity. This certainly isn't the first time a man cheated on his wife, or cheated on his wife when she had cancer. In the grand scheme of things, this one is pretty tame: there were no high-class hookers, gay sex, diaper fetishes or cross-dressing. It's all rather pedestrian. Maybe we can do better next time, spice it up a little, 'mmkay?

It's all very interesting to me. John Kennedy had his affair with Marilyn Monroe, George HW Bush had his longterm romance with Jennifer Fitzgerald, and the press politely ignored it all. But that was a different era. Times have changed, I get that.

I do have to question the media's double standard. It seems Democrats are always held to a higher standard of moral rectitude, even though Republicans are supposedly the "moral values party." David Vitter can prance around with hookers in a diaper, Larry Craig can plead guilty to soliciting sex in a public bathroom, and both men keep their Senate seats and the world continues to turn.

Remember Vicki Iseman? Boy, that story sure disappeared in a hurry.

Go figure. Guess it's just one of those things.

22 Days & Counting


And still more news:
Oil sinks more than $4 as dollar rallies

NEW YORK ( -- Oil prices tumbled Friday as the dollar rallied strongly against slumping foreign currencies and concerns about a Turkish supply disruption were eased.

Light, sweet crude for September delivery lost $4.03 to $115.99 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Wow. From "a record high of $147.27 hit set July 11" to today. Tell me, which new oil fields opened up in the past month? Which oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico were built in the past four weeks? How many wildlife refuges were opened to drilling?

All of which proves the point that offshore oil drilling and opening ANWAR won't do a damn thing to lower gas and oil prices here at home. Conservation and controlling rampant speculation will.


Gas prices still dropping like a rock:

Gas prices fall: 22 days and counting

The national average price for a gallon of gas slips to $3.836. Only 10 states are above $4 a gallon.

NEW YORK ( -- Retail gasoline prices fell, on average, more than a penny overnight, extending declines for the 22nd straight day, a survey of gas station credit card swipes showed Friday.

The national average price for a gallon of regular gas fell to $3.836 from $3.849 the previous day. That's down nearly 7% from the record high of $4.114 that gas prices hit on July 16.

Gas prices have eased substantially in recent weeks amid signs that global demand for petroleum products is slowing.

Isn’t that amazing. Who could have anticipated ...?

Here in Nashville I saw $3.69 at a Pilot station earlier this week. That’s a 40-cent drop from the high of $4.09/gallon back in July. Funny none of the stories about that Republican kabuki theater on offshore oil drilling bothers to mention that.

Hey! Rep. Roy Blunt! Yeah, I’m talking to you! Guess we didn’t have to lift that offshore drilling ban after all!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sign Of The Apocalypse #51

Coney Island amusement park has opened a waterboarding “attraction”:
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A man with a black hood pours water on the face of a prisoner in an orange jumpsuit strapped to a table: no, it's not Guantanamo Bay naval base, but New York's Coney Island amusement park.

The scene using robotic dolls is an installation built by artist Steve Powers to criticize waterboarding, a simulated drowning technique the United States has admitted using on terrorism suspects, but that rights group say is torture.

"Waterboard Thrill Ride" beckons a sign along with cartoon character "SpongeBob SquarePants" who appears tied down and exclaiming: "It don't Gitmo better!"

The public can peek through window bars and feed a dollar into the slot to bring the robotic dolls into action, one more attraction in the beachfront amusement park in the New York neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Dude, this is all so, so wrong. It trivializes a serious issue and frankly I'm not sure turning torture into an amusement park attraction is a sign of progress.

Just sayin' ....

The Jokes Just Write Themselves

Via Attaturk comes word that John McCain’s Straight Talk Express crashed into a van on a Miami street. The van, a Ford Windstar, has since been dubbed the “Reality Express.”

McCain was not on board, though Sen. Joe Lieberman was. No one was injured in either vehicle.

You can check out the damage for yourself here.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Bring On The Tabloid Trash

Since we're suddenly paying attention to this stuff, here are some other tabloid stories which for some reason we ignored:

And Yet, Gas Prices Are Dropping

Amid all the discussion about energy policy in the last few days, one fact has been overlooked by virtually every single media outlet save CNN: Gas prices are dropping.

Today’s AAA Fuel Gauge Report puts the national average at $3.86/gallon for regular. Three weeks ago it was $4.11/gallon. That’s a 25-cent drop in just three weeks.

What happened? Did we open ANWAR to drilling? Build some new oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico? Have we drilled one new well or built one new refinery in the past three weeks?


How can that be! To listen to Big Oil’s supporters, the only way we can lower gas prices is to drill more at home. You know, this kinda pokes a hole in Newt Gingrich’s ”Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less” balloon. Because we’re paying less and we haven’t drilled one new drop.


Bob Herbert put his finger on it in yesterday’s column:
In addition to the obvious need for more fuel-efficient vehicles, we should be demanding more efficiencies from utilities across the country; we should be requiring (as Senator Schumer has been pointing out) that states revamp their commercial and building codes; and we should be trying to weatherize homes from one coast to the other, including the homes of families without enough money to make such improvements themselves.

And, of course, there are the everyday good energy deeds that would help make a world of difference: car-pooling; taking public transportation when possible; using more efficient lighting; dropping the thermostat a couple of degrees; buying more efficient appliances; unplugging appliances that aren’t in use, and so on.

Prompted by high gas prices, Americans have already implemented these “everyday good energy deeds.” And it’s one of the main factors leading to this 25-cent drop in gas prices in just three weeks.

Look what we did without even trying, without even thinking about it. Imagine if we did think about it. Imagine if we decided to go after this “low hanging fruit in our economy”--the huge amounts of energy we’re just throwing away on a daily basis because of inefficient power plants, low-fuel economy automobiles, and the like.

No one is really talking about this, and there’s a reason. tapped into it with last week’s excellent article, "Why we never need to build another polluting power plant”:

Suppose I paid you for every pound of pollution you generated and punished you for every pound you reduced. You would probably spend most of your time trying to figure out how to generate more pollution. And suppose that if you generated enough pollution, I had to pay you to build a new plant, no matter what the cost, and no matter how much cheaper it might be to not pollute in the first place.

Well, that's pretty much how we have run the U.S. electric grid for nearly a century. The more electricity a utility sells, the more money it makes. If it's able to boost electricity demand enough, the utility is allowed to build a new power plant with a guaranteed profit. The only way a typical utility can lose money is if demand drops. So the last thing most utilities want to do is seriously push strategies that save energy, strategies that do not pollute in the first place.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

You Want Us To Pray for WHAT?

Focus On The Family’s Stuart Shepard asks a question:

Would it be wrong to ask people to pray for “rain of Biblical proportions” to descend on Mile High Stadium to ruin Barack Obama’s acceptance speech?

Not just rain, he clarifies, but “abundant rain! Torrential rain! Urban and small stream flood advisory rain!”

Yes, Stuart. It would be wrong. But if that does happen, I recommend anyone flooded out of their homes send the bill to Focus on the Family.

Geeez these folks are sick.

Monday, August 4, 2008

KFC-Fallujah Hoax

I saw this video when it made the rounds last week. It shows U.S. troops, supposedly in Fallujah, ordering buckets of chicken in the city’s new Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise. Fox News saw it too, and turned it into a news story about how well things are going in Iraq--so well, in fact, that even war-torn Fallujah has embraced America’s fast food restaurants.

Well, hold the hot wings, soldier. It’s starting to look like it’s a hoax:
Last Thursday, Fox News ran a brief segment on a KFC restaurant opening in Fallujah before segueing into an interview with former CENTCOM Commander Tommy Franks, who was asked to comment on the presence of an American fast food restaurant in the notoriously violent Iraqi city. "Do they have a drive-thru window?" Steve Doocy asks. "They get in and get out. And, so far, they do it safely," answers Brian Kilmeade:

Now, call us cynical, but something about that segment seemed off -- oddly upbeat even. On Friday I put in a call to KFC headquarters to ask if the Fallujah chicken joint is the real deal. KFC told me they were looking into the matter. Today, Yum! Restaurants International spokesman Christophe Lecureuil wrote me back:
I understand you wanted some details about the store in Falluja that looks like a KFC. This store is not approved by KFC International and we have working with the US Military to warn the troops of this situation.

Not surprisingly, TPM goes on to report that “the story seems to have popped up two weeks ago in a report by a Marine public information officer.”

Of course.

Sean Hannity Has No Shame

I’ve heard of lying liars but this takes the cake. Sean Hannity and Swift Boat liar Jerome Corsi are spreading a new smear about Barack Obama, this one saying that Obama favors murdering children. It sounds crazy, but then nothing is too crazy for these hateful whackjobs.
From the August 1 edition of Fox News' Hannity's America:

HANNITY: You go through every position that he has --


HANNITY: -- as on the fringe of the left wing --

CORSI: Even --

HANNITY: -- on the fringe of the Democratic Party.

CORSI: Exactly, even extensively looking back at his record when he was in the state legislature in Illinois. His completely pro-abortion position, his --

HANNITY: Even if a child was born.

CORSI: Even if a child was born, he said the woman still had the right to kill the child in an abortion.

HANNITY: Unbelievable.

Yes, unbelievable is the word alright. Hannity and Corsi repeated this lie on Hannity & Colmes and Hannity’s radio show, just to make sure as many people as possible heard the news that Barack Obama favors murdering children.

And people question that someone ingesting a daily dose of this crap would take matters into their own hands and turn violent. It bears remembering that Hannity’s book was in the Knoxville UU shooter’s wingnut library.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Embarrassed By My Fellow Tennesseans

Not all of them, mind you. Just the ones who are venting some serious anti-Muslim spleen over the Tyson Plant in Shelbyville.

The plant’s management negotiated with the workers union to allow the largely-Muslim workforce to take off the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr instead of Labor Day. Everyone should be happy, except for the anti-Muslim wackadoodles who can’t seem to get over the fact that a) there are a lot of Muslims in Shelbyville, TN; and b) the plant’s management is actually doing something to make their Muslim workers happy instead of, I dunno, flogging them daily and forcing them to eat pork rinds.

Over the weekend Kleinheider did a round-up of some local bloggers’ opinions. Some of the saddest ones include this one from Michael Hurtt, headlined “This Is How It Starts”:
This is a frightening example of incrementalism, the process by which groups achieve partial means to an ultimate end. For those who believe that the current fight in the Middle East is religious in nature, this concession by Tyson brings us one step closer to accepting Sharia Law as the law of the land in the U.S.

First they came for Labor Day, and because I had to work at the mall on Labor Day I said nothing ....

The funniest thing is to watch “free marketers” struggle as their economic philosophy does battle with their bigotry. For example, Six Meat Buffet:

On one hand I’m torn. A private business should be able to give everyone 365 days off a year if they want. On the other hand, replacing Labor Day for a holiday to placate the most violent, intolerant, misogynistic religion on the planet may not be the greatest idea.

Why, what a shining example of tolerance you display in that comment, SMB! Thanks for making my point for me.

The fact that most of the Muslims working at the Tyson plant are refugees from a war-torn country seems entirely lost on most conservative voices. Several people have wondered how so many refugees ended up in Tennessee to begin with. You can thank the State Department and its Office of Refugee Resettlement for that.

One of the things I have always treasured about this country is that we are a safe haven, a beacon of hope, to those suffering in poverty and strife in other parts of the world. Not, apparently, in Tennessee.

This makes me very sad. And I can't help but think what a poor image this gives the world of Tennessee. We're already perceived as backwards, racist, uneducated and toothless hayseeds. Today, GoldnI highlights that media narrative which brought CNN to Copperhill, TN to find people who believe Barack Obama is a Muslim. She rightly points out you could find those people anywhere in this country. But a rural town in Tennessee is where CNN chose to go for its story. Gee, I wonder why.

So Tennessee gets another black eye. Our backwards image can't be good for business--who would want to move their corporate headquarters to a state like that? And it's something we constantly have to fight.


"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

I guess I missed the “except if you’re Muslim” line in that poem.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


Apparently I was a little premature in declaring my Wanker of the Weekend this morning. That honor surely goes to Amy Chozick, the Wall Street Journal “reporter” who started the whole “is Barack Obama too skinny to be president” meme last week. How did she come up with this story? The old fashioned way: the easy way.

There was no pounding the pavement, hitting up sources, or assembling and verifying facts for Chozick. Instead, she hit a Yahoo! message board, posted a “hey does anyone else think Obama is too skinny?” query, and when someone posted a snarky, sarcastic response, she bit.

The folks at Sadly, No! have the details:
Amy Chozick starts a thread:
Is Obama too skinny to be president?
15-Jul-08 06:04 pm

Does anyone out there think Barack Obama is too thin to be president? Anyone having a hard time relating to him and his “no excess body fat”? Please let me know. Thanks!

A reply is posted:

Re: Is Obama too skinny to be president?
15-Jul-08 10:21 pm

Yes I think He is to skinny to be President.Hillary has a potbelly and chuckybutt I’d of Voted for Her.I won’t vote for any beanpole guy.

Amy responds:

Re: Is Obama too skinny to be president? 16-Jul-08 09:12 am

Love your response and your username (onlinebeerbellygirl). Would you mind shooting me an email so I can ask you a few more quesitons? My email is [redacted] Thanks so much!
The entire rest of the brief thread consists of people saying that the question is stupid, and/or making fun of Chozick.

SN! links to the Google cache of the thread; you can read the whole sorry thing for yourself. I'm not sure that "onlinebeerbellygirl" ever responded to Amy, because the quote that ended up in her story was the"I won't vote for any beanpole guy" bit.

This is what passes for journalism at the Wall Street Journal under Rupert Murdoch? Posting threads on message boards and then reporting the inane responses as if they are the actual, legitimate opinion of American voters? Cripes.

Hey, does anyone think Obama is a space alien? Amy Chozick of the Wall Street Journal wants to know.