September 30, 2008

Lurkers Should Comment More

I've just been informed that there is a certain someone who regularly reads our blog. An important someone. We're proud of the bloggingness that we do here, and we like it when readers (lurkers) become commenters. It keeps the blog interesting. So, with that in mind, I'd like to encourage Governor Palin to comment here. We're friendly. We like debate. Don't keep silent.

(What? She said she reads all sources. We're a source.)

(This stuff really does just start to get off to crazy land. She's either a blithering idiot or she'll pull the greatest sandbagging on Biden in the history of sandbagging.)

Posted by baltar at 10:15 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

I do not like him here or there...

I do not like him anywhere.

Posted by binky at 10:05 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Couric Is Pathetic

She's not a dumb woman. Surely she knows what's at issue isn't whether or not Palin would use a morning-after pill but whether she'd obstruct the rights of other women to use them. And how in the hell does she let Palin get away with saying she'd never put a woman in jail for having an abortion and at the same time let Palin say that abortions should be banned, even in cases of rape and incest. It's not the kind of coddling Palin would get from the NRO crowd, but this is a softball interview, as was that bit with McCain and Palin yesterday. If Couric doesn't have a reputation for "deference" yet, she's working hard to build one judging by this.

Posted by armand at 09:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Banned Books Week

It's here. Go. Read.

Posted by binky at 09:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Got plans for Halloween?

There's always this:

March of 1000 Skeletons!

Want to participate in this year's March of 1000 Skeletons? Place your order for your admission, costume, t-shirt, and torch package at the Flaming Lips official online store here.

Here's a few things you should know before purchasing your bundle:

2008 Death March branded skeleton costumes come in 2 sizes: Standard and Large. Each bundle comes with a torch and 2008 March of 1000 Skeletons event t-shirt.

Every skeleton will be carrying a torch with real fire. Anyone in the parade must be 18. Anyone in the parade must sign a waiver. [ed. note: no DUH!]

A person must have the ability to march in the parade for up to 2 hours.

If I wasn't already headed to the Hold Steady/DBT in Nashville, I'd be there.

Posted by binky at 07:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

"the Fed's balance sheet is about to explode"

Anyone care to translate that for me? It sounds bad.

Posted by armand at 01:51 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Day After 9/29/08 - And a Simpler, Better Plan

Jacflash will have seen it already, but this is definitely a fun way to look at yesterday (at least for fans of Fight Club).

And Blodgett/Hussman's solution to this does appear a better way to go:

A better approach would be for the government to provide capital directly, in the form of a "super-bond," in an amount no greater than the debt to bondholders. The "super-bond" would be subordinate to customer liabilities, so it could be counted as capital for the purpose of capital requirements, and would be seen by customers as a legitimate cushion of protection.

However, in the event of bankruptcy, it would have a senior claim in front of both stockholders and even senior bondholders. Do that, and you've actually got a mechanism to protect the financial system while at the same time protecting customers and taxpayers. Ideally, the super-bond accrues a relatively high rate of interest so that financials have an incentive to shift to private financing as soon as possible, but you would also defer the interest until the bank meets a minimal level of profitability to make sure that the financing doesn't strain the institution's liquidity.

And as far as why the bill failed yesterday, Bush, Boehner, and for that matter McCain, couldn't round up more than 1/3 of the Republicans in the House to vote for the thing. As for what that says about their leadership of their party, you be the judge.

Posted by armand at 09:26 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 29, 2008

Ugly Betty - Season 2

So last week I finished watching season 2 of Ugly Betty, just in time for the season 3 premiere. And I've got to say that while I still like the show, season 2 was, in most ways, inferior to season 1. Some of the series' moves just didn't work. The Amanda storyline went nowhere, and played into the writers' unfortunate tendency to change the character into someone who's dumber than a box of hair. The Christina storyline was woefully underdeveloped. And if you blinked you might've missed Alexis entirely. They seemed to have no idea what to do with her. Similarly, while I love the concept of introducing Illeana Douglas into the show, she was terribly underutilized. Replacing the rotating Fashion TV correspondents with Alec Mapa was a misfire (he just isn't very funny), and I'm afraid I missed the point of some of taking some of the leitmotifs to such extremes. I mean was there anyone vaguely connected to the series who wasn't engaged in some sort of baby or parental relationship issue? Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Betty became a whining bore. Oh poor Betty with her great job and loving family and two attractive men who are madly in love with her. If I knew her in real life I'd have avoided her every day - or perhaps gone after her with a foam bat. At this point in the show I can barely stand her as she continually makes her life 20 times harder than it needs to be.

So if that's the case, why do I still watch? Well, I am a sucker for art design, music and the overall environment of a show - and Betty's still one of the best things on tv on those fronts (look no farther than last week's premiere which opened with the B-52s and closed with dancing to "American Girl"). Of course the fashion is fun. In season 2 they did a particularly great job outfitting Marc, and of course Wilhelmina and Alexis are always worth seeing on that front. Marc and Wilhelmina are wonderful comic villains (the latter especially, she's excellent). And of course I'm a sucker for witticisms and Ugly Betty still features some of the funniest lines on tv. The best of last season? Almost certainly Amanda's lines in "Baby Bump" - her string of observations and questions at a party she didn't realize was a baby shower were laugh-out-loud funny.

So on the whole I think it's fallen from its season 1 glory. But it's still got plenty of pluses, and as long as Wilhelmina, Marc and Amanda (now seemingly finally back to her former form) are on television I'll be interested in watching them.

Posted by armand at 10:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Revisiting LBJ's Daisy Ad in Illinois-18

I get the idea, but I don't know that she quite pulls it off.

Posted by armand at 10:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

One More Strike Against Bipartisanship

It's grossly overrated as a general matter, and today we've seen one more reason why. Working across party lines, especially between parties that don't trust each other, throws all sorts of uncertainty into the system, and creates more veto points in the system. And it goes without saying that uncertainty is something markets don't like, and something that makes accomplishing many things more difficult.

For a broader examination of systemic, institutional effects beyond today's single case, look at Leblang and Satyanath's 2006 piece in International Organization that shows divided government increases the likelihood of currency crises.

Posted by armand at 03:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Palin: Has an Israeli Flag, but Doesn't Seem to Know What Hamas Is

Yglesias notes that predictable oddity, reacting to this Jeffrey Goldberg post noting that her answer is less distressing than the fact that she doesn't seem to understand the question. I think that "Dan Quayle was Metternich in comparison" line is all too accurate.

Posted by armand at 01:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Debating the Bailout in the House

Over at The Great Orange Satan Kagro X is keeping a tally of who in the House talking about the bailout, coming out either in support or opposition to it. Using who the "nay" votes are as a cue reinforces my inclination that voting for this is the proper thing to do, no matter how distasteful and problematic it is.

Btw, am I the only one who's confused by the press continuing to call this a $700 billion bailout vote? Isn't it now the case that it's a (at most) $350 billion vote, and that there'd have to be a second vote on money beyond that? I could be confused, but that's what the news summaries I've seen suggest.

Posted by armand at 01:25 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

No, It's Not the Fault of Blacks and Hispanics

Of course no one outside the far right thinks it is. I mean, c'mon - Do people really think that racial minorities control the US economy? Do people really think bankers are knocking each other out of the way to make loans to illegal immigrants? Some how, some way, this idea has bubbled up on the far right (hmmm, wonder why - eh, no, I don't). So for those of you out there who insist on saying the financial crisis comes down to those folks and subprime loans, please keep in mind that the vast majority of those loans are made to white people.

Posted by armand at 11:41 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Bailout Bill and 2012 Politics

It will indeed be interesting to look carefully at the list of people who vote against the bailout bill.

Posted by armand at 09:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 28, 2008

56 Points and a Career High 6 TD Passes for Favre

I'd say that so far the Jets' acquisition of the former Green Bay QB is working out well.

Posted by armand at 05:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Curlin Breaks Cigar's Record

The son of Smart Strike won the Jockey Club Gold Cup (again) yesterday. That takes his lifetime earnings over $10 million and he's now the leading money earner ever, in terms of winnings, among horses based in North America.

Posted by armand at 10:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


So I spent the bulk of tonight with a group of friends, dining on a variety of tasty treats and taking in most of the first season of Weeds. That's quite a good show. But why did they drop Justin Chatwin after the opening episode? That seems like a waste.

Posted by armand at 01:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 27, 2008

Earmarks My Ass

McCain seems to believe that if we eliminate all the earmarks, we'll save just tons of money. This is incorrect:

Earmark Chart

Earmarks are generally bad. I'm happy to do away with them. Eliminating them, however, isn't going to solve anything.

(NOTE: Source: the fuckin' OMB. Don't tell me they have a liberal bias.)

Posted by baltar at 08:42 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Word of the Day


Posted by binky at 12:56 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 26, 2008

Crashing through your windshield of love

Getting ready for the debates tonight, where the bloodless crew will assemble with friends to document the atrocities. Or try to, unless we have to start drinking massively.

To prepare, I am watching the Flaming Lips from last year's Bonnaroo. Filling up on happy warm fuzzies. Yup. That'll help.

Posted by binky at 06:33 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Counting the Votes: Iraq's New Election Law

It's neither an open list system nor a closed list system.

Posted by armand at 05:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Joe Manchin and DuPont Get the Appeal They Wanted

I mean really, why be bound like a little thing like a specific constitutional provision? The governor, DuPont, and apparently Hoppy get the appeal they think is merited. Only Justice Davis voted against granting the appeal (keep in mind Justice Albright is on leave from the Court at the moment due to health issues - so at the moment there's another justice, appointed by Spike Maynard, voting in his place).

Posted by armand at 03:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Turkey Bombs Iraqi Sites (Already Attacked by Iran)

Since a different military clash in South Asia is getting more press, I thought I'd note this one.

Turkish warplanes crossed the border into northern Iraqi airspace to bomb 16 Kurdish rebel sites, a spokesman for Turkey' s military said Friday. There were no reports of any deaths in the air attacks, which occurred late Thursday night ... Ahmed Deniz, a spokesman for Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, told wire services the airstrikes targeted areas that already were largely abandoned, owing to earlier attacks from neighboring Iran.
Posted by armand at 01:23 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

McCain: Bipartisan or Antipartisan/Me-Me-Me-Me-Me?

This week's "campaign suspension" and trip to the White House (a non-political trip to the White House?) isn't the first time John McCain has reminded me of Bart Simpson during his terrible twos (chanting "I am so great, I am so great" while marching around beating pots and pans). But there's a bit of different spin on it now in that he's now, ostensibly, the leader of his party, and was jetting down to Washington (home of his supposed day job) to bring about some major policy change. In his own words, he said he thought it was a time for bipartisanship, and clearly he felt he needed to be there to lead that bipartisanship (or at least to preen for the cameras and tell the press DC press corps that was what he was doing).

Which leads me to think about any history he has at achieving such a thing on any policy, much less a $700 billion bailout of the financial industry. He's been in Congress for over a quarter century, but his substantive accomplishments there are famously slight. And to the degree he has them, well, have they been the result of him leading the Congress in a bipartisan way? Sure, on a couple things like McCain-Feingold he was willing to support proposals also supported by Democrats. But on such measures where he "worked across the aisle" he did so without much Republican backing at all. To the extent he has a "bipartisan" record has he ever really successfully bridged the partisan gap? Or is it that once in a blue moon he'll happily vote with the Democrats when it suits his own purposes? I'm trying to think of any issue on which he brought the parties together. Is there one? Maybe some of the POW/MIA stuff, or normalizing ties with Vietnam, or some of his regulations on pro sports? Has he ever actually brought about bipartisanship beyond personally siding with Democrats on one of his own pet projects?

Posted by armand at 09:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Taxing Overtly Political Churches

I know there will be a lot of pressure not to make them pay taxes, but if they are going to play it that way and break the existing rules, shouldn't they lose their protections?

Posted by armand at 09:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 25, 2008

Off to Oxford?

So does anyone want to go on the record with their prediction for tomorrow night? Will John McCain take part the first debate? Will he send Sarah Palin? Will he stay in DC and play craps with Joe Lieberman? Is this, as was proposed on 538, part of an elaborate ploy to get higher ratings tomorrow night?

Posted by armand at 11:34 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Palin on Russia, Alaska and Her Foreign Policy Experience

I'm speechless - and think she'd have been better off if she'd been speechless too.

Posted by armand at 03:21 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Palin Talks to Reporters!

Though of course she won't answer all their questions (2 of 5), and the answers she gives make her sound as substantive as a marshmallow.

Posted by armand at 01:45 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Bill Clinton Plays Chris Crocker to McCain's Britney Spears

Oh puh-leeze.

Posted by armand at 01:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sarah Silverman for The Great Schlep


Posted by armand at 11:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 24, 2008

Pakistan's Leadership Was Supposed to Be at the Marriott

Well the bombing in Islamabad just gets more disturbing. It was the biggest bomb to go off in Pakistan in several years. Dozens were killed. It was clearly aimed at international guests in the country. On a personal note, that's a place one of my best friends has stayed a couple times. And to top it all off, apparently if the night had gone according to plan the government of Pakistan was supposed to have been inside the building.

Posted by armand at 11:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

McCain Only Up 50-46 in West Virginia?

That's where things stand according to the latest Time poll.

Posted by armand at 04:34 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Do, Dump or Marry: The Men of Steel Edition

Since I know kikimonster is looking for distractions, I present JA's latest edition of Do, Dump or Marry. So who's it going to be out of Dean Cain, Brandon Routh and Tom Welling?

Posted by armand at 04:15 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Campbell Brown Calls Out McCain's Sexist Treatment of Sarah Palin

"Allow her to face down those pesky reporters. ... you are not showing her the respect she deserves."

Posted by armand at 09:55 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 23, 2008

"Greatest health care in the world"

With infection rates that are decidedly less than great. And apparently, we are too poor to take measures to keep up with the rest of the developed world:

While the role of clothing in the spread of infection hasn't been well studied, some hospitals in Denmark and Europe have adopted wide-ranging infection-control practices that include provisions for the clothing that health care workers wear both in and out of the hospital. Workers of both sexes must change into hospital-provided scrubs when they arrive at work and even wear sanitized plastic shoes, also provided by the hospital. At the end of the day, they change back into their street clothes to go home.

The focus on hand washing, sterilization, screening and clothing control appears to have worked: in Denmark, fewer than 1 percent of staph infections involve resistant strains of the bacteria, while in the United States, the numbers have surged to 50 percent in some hospitals.

But American hospitals operate on tight budgets and can't afford to provide clothes and shoes to every worker. In addition, many hospitals don't have the extra space for laundry facilities.

It still galls me that during a hospitalization my mom had, that the hospital told her that really she should hire her own nurse to take care of her during her stay in the hospital, since they didn't have enough to go around.

Posted by binky at 10:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Yankees Won't Make the Post-Season

So let's review. Every year Joe Torre was managing the team (1996-2007), they made the post-season. This year? No. Torre now manages the Dodgers. Are they likely to make the post-season? They are not in yet, but currently they lead the West. As someone who is traditionally not a fan of the Yankees, I'd just like to take a moment to thank them for, in essence, firing Torre.

Posted by armand at 10:51 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Debunking Frank's "What's The Matter With Kansas"

It is nice when political science can be applied to politics, and it's important to debunk popular arguments that appear to lack much of an empirical foundation.

Posted by armand at 10:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Armand's Favorite Dress from the 2008 Emmys

Because Bloodless hasn't had enough light and fun posts of late, fyi, I vote for this one. I like her earrings too.

Posted by armand at 09:09 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Team McCain - Peace in the Middle East? No Way!

From the team which, as Sully notes, seems to clearly want the US to go to war with Iran:

A McCain administration would discourage Israeli-Syrian peace talks and refrain from actively engaging in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Hmmm - why does McCain want to control Israel's foreign policy? They shouldn't be allowed to negotiate with Syria if they want to? Apparently not.

Posted by armand at 05:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Rush - Obama is an Arab!

Ummm, no he's not. Does Rush think all colored people look alike or something? Or could Rush once again be spreading a lie intended to make Obama appear dangerous? Somehow I'm guessing it's the latter.

Posted by armand at 02:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Rank the Coen Brothers

Want to fight about something other than politics? How about this? If you were going to rank all the Coens' movies, how would you do it? I still haven't seen 'em all, including the new one. But personally my top 5 would be: 1) Barton Fink, 2) Fargo, 3) No Country for Old Men, 4) The Hudsucker Proxy, and 5) The Man Who Wasn't There.

Posted by armand at 02:13 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Biden: Predictably Off-Message

Ugh. And this is on top of his comments about AIG (which Obama had to personally, publicly criticize him for) and the Obama campaign's ad pointing out that McCain is an old man disconnected from much of our modern world. Unlike Palin he's likely at least competent to serve as president - but he's a walking gaffe. I guess that proves Obama isn't all-politics-all-the-time or whatever-it-takes-to-win. But it's ugly and annoying - especially in a tight campaign.

Posted by armand at 02:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 22, 2008

A couple of things nicked from Sully

First, he links to a piece suggesting that if people turn to atheism, they'll become more superstitious than Christians. Without more detail on the stats, what it looks like the stats really show is that there are a lot of idiots, both Christian and atheists, who believe in a lot of nonsense. They cite a figure that says that 10% of atheists pray every week, which makes me think what on earth was their sampling pool?

Second, more on the issue of showing deference to the Palins:

He did step in when KTUU-TV, the dominant broadcast station in Alaska, aired a segment describing the many personnel complaints the Palins had brought against Wooten. Todd Palin called to complain. The segment's producer, John Herbst, later resigned after he was reprimanded for failing to treat elected officials with "respect."

In Soviet Alaska, government votes you out!

Posted by binky at 09:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Campaign song of 2008

The Righteous Path:

And for my money, the song that best captures the economic anxieties and aspirations voters are feeling now - and the song of the 2008 cycle - is "The Righteous Path" by the Drive-By Truckers. Take a look at the pitch-perfect opening lyrics:

I got a brand-new car that drinks a bunch of gas
I got a house in a neighborhood that's fading fast...
I got a beautiful wife and three tow-headed kids
I got a couple of big secrets I'd kill to keep hid
I don't know God but I fear his wrath
I'm trying to keep focused on the righteous path

In just the first two lines, the song seems to anticipate $4 gasoline and the subprime housing crisis, even though it was recorded in 2007 and released on the album "Brighter Than Creation's Dark," this January. With accurate artistic forecasting like this, I'd trade these drunken country punks for a boatload of bickering economists.

Hat tip to DBT themselves, because yes, I am a fangirl on their mailing list.

Posted by binky at 07:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Emmys, 2008

I was watching True Blood (it's still bad, and probably even worse for those who read the books - though I've grown to like the lead vampire), but if you are interested in what happened at the Emmys last night, Nathaniel's live-blogging of the event can be found here. I don't even know what Damages is, but I'm always in favor of giving awards to Glenn Close and Zeljko Ivanek. I have almost the same reaction to Dianne Wiest's win (the only difference is I know what In Treatment is). Alec Baldwin's win was well-deserved (I absolutely love him on 30 Rock). And I guess at some point I'll have to watch John Adams, though I find him one of the most over-rated of the framers.

Posted by armand at 10:59 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

McCain Wants Andrew Cuomo at the SEC?

This is a bizarre idea - but it came right out of McCain's mouth, unprompted. A campaign staffed by lobbyists, Sarah Palin, Andrew Cuomo, likely Phil Gramm ... it's looking like the personnel running a McCain government would run the gamut from disturbing to truly frightening.

Posted by armand at 09:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 20, 2008

Fibby McLiarsons

ABC is onto the news that it might not have been insubordination after all when Monegan went to Washington.

UPDATE: Visuals from Alaska.

Posted by binky at 02:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Barack By God Obama

Get yours Here. A 50 state plus PR and DC project.

Via Boing Boing

Posted by binky at 12:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 19, 2008

Calls to Alaska government offices being routed to McCain campaign?

Poor Alaska.

Posted by binky at 11:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 18, 2008

Todd Palin Refuses to Testify

Seriously, how in the world can someone vote for McCain-Palin in light of this?

Posted by armand at 11:34 PM | Comments (66) | TrackBack


Ahoy maties, lest ye be forgettin' the 19th of September is Talk Like A Pirate Day!

Posted by binky at 10:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Help a social scientist out

Via Balloon Juice a survey about political beliefs and information.

Posted by binky at 09:09 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Parked on Chestnut St.

Walking home a little while ago I walked by what I presume is the most expensive car I've seen in a long time, a Mercedes-Benz SLR. But oddly enough I didn't do a double-take over the car (though it's quite impressive). I did a double-take over the license plate. Who in this state gets a plate with a single-digit number on it?

Posted by armand at 04:38 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Going from Bad to Worse....

T-Bills traded at negative interest rates for a while this morning. Isn't this the equivalent of "I'll give you $50 today for $48 dollars in three months."? That can't be good for financial stability.

Where is the bottom of this?

Posted by baltar at 10:09 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

September 17, 2008

?Idiota o senil?

So I tagged this under Latin America for fun, or maybe in solidarity with McCain, who has a little trouble remembering who are his friends and who are his enemies, and what continent they are from:

We wanted to give you an update on the post below where we described Sen. McCain's latest gaffe in which he seemed to suggest that he might not be willing to meet with Spanish Prime Minster Zapatero because he is among those world leaders who want to harm America.

The story is already getting picked up pretty quickly in the Spanish press. And the way it's being interpreted in the Spanish press is that McCain got confused about the fact that Spain is a country in Europe, rather than a rogue state in Latin America.

Zapatero, Zapata, Sandino... all the same.


Posted by binky at 10:17 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Kmiec on Being Denied Communion Because He Supports Obama

At least he later received an apology - but a harrowing experience nonetheless.

Posted by armand at 01:02 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Robert Downey Jr.'s Top 10 Performances

Since I know we love all things Downey, fyi, there's a debate raging at The Movie Blog. I don't know how I'd ever rank those, but since I've always thought he was robbed of the 1992 Best Actor Oscar (a position on which few used to agree with me) I guess I'd be inclined to say he was "best" in Chaplin. But if you wanted to make a case for him in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Tropic Thunder, Natural Born Killers, or Zodiac, I wouldn't disagree. Heck I loved him in Two Girls and a Guy - Soapdish, even - so as this is a case of separating the perfect from the very good I can't get too invested in a ranking.

Posted by armand at 10:26 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

White Privilege

A reminder of why we accept questionable competence in national leaders, and why it took over two centuries for a major political party to nominate a non-white man for the presidency.

Posted by armand at 08:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The US House Approves Some Offshore Drilling

Details. Sounds like a reasonable compromise to me, though I'll confess to not being an expert on this.

The US House approved an energy bill last night that would allow offshore drilling as close as 50 miles from the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, but a last-minute provision added at the insistence of Massachusetts members would prohibit oil and gas drilling around Georges Bank, saving New England's premier commercial fishing grounds from potential harm.

The legislation also promotes investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency, paid for by eliminating tax exemptions for oil companies and increasing their royalty payments, and it authorizes more funding for heating assistance for low-income people ...

But with the ban set to expire at the end of this month and the November elections approaching, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shifted her stance, proposing legislation that would allow drilling as close as 100 miles from shore, and with a state's permission, as close as 50 miles from shore ...

But House minority leader John Boehner called the bill "a hoax on the American people," saying it "won't do a damn thing about energy" because the vast majority of known offshore oil is within 50 miles of shore and would therefore still be off-limits and because it would not promote the development of nuclear plants or coal-to-liquids technologies.

More details. It's clear why Big Oil and President Bush wouldn't like this plan.

Posted by armand at 07:56 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 16, 2008

The suspense is over...

For those who were waiting to see how the McCain campaign handled Troopergate:

McCain campaign spokesman Ed O'Callaghan said, "I think it's fair to say that the governor is not going to cooperate with that investigation so long as it remained tainted and run by partisan individuals who have a predetermined conclusion," referring to a comment by French this month that the case could produce criminal charges or an "October Surprise" for the GOP ticket.

Oooh, Obama operatives. That's like foreign spies or something. I also like the way this little tidbit came out in the middle of the night. Straight talk express indeed. I hope Sully doesn't stroke out.

I wonder what this is going to do to Palin's mcuh vaunted popularity in Alaska.

Posted by binky at 06:06 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 15, 2008

Lt. General Odom, RIP

I didn't realize he had died. It's a pity. He was always thoughtful and worth reading, and regardless of who wins 50 days from now he'd have been worth hearing as US military and foreign operations move to a different path.

Posted by armand at 11:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Marijuana Arrests Hit Another All-Time High

From the files of enormous wastes of public resources that breed a contempt for the law ... That's just a staggering number. And the graph is interesting. The giant spikes in arrests during the Nixon and Clinton administrations, and the steady increase under Bush of late, remind us that this is a topic on which both political parties have had a disasterous record.

Posted by armand at 11:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Choice Facing Israel's Incoming Prime Minister

The Kadima Party will choose a new leader in only a couple of days. If the polls are right it appears that Israel will once again have a female prime minister. But once in that position (presuming she wins) Tzipi Livni is going to face a hard choice - throw giant buckets of cash at the ultra-orthodox religious parties to keep them in the government, or face new national elections, elections in which her party would be expected to win fewer seats in parliament than it has now.

Posted by armand at 10:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Richard Wright

Baltar emailed me the news earlier today. I couldn't really think about it until now, and I find myself disproportionately sad. I know Syd was the first to die, but the Pink Floyd I loved was the one that came after Syd, and Roger Wright was a huge part of that. So really, for me, this is the first time one of the members of my favorite band of all time has passed away.

Space Cowboy links to David Gilmour's statement:

In the welter of arguments about who or what was Pink Floyd, Rick's enormous input was frequently forgotten.

He was gentle, unassuming and private but his soulful voice and playing were vital, magical components of our most recognised Pink Floyd sound.

And the video from this version is shit, but you can really hear Wright's parts (fifteen years earlier than the one above):

Posted by binky at 09:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

This is why personal behavior and beliefs matter to public policy

From Shakesville:

So, Alaska has a pretty serious sexual assault and domestic violence program.

How serious? "Alaska leads the nation in reported forcible rapes per capita, according to the FBI, with a rate two and a half times the national average—a ranking it has held for many years."

How serious? "The rate of Alaskan women being killed by a partner is 1.5 times the national average. … Alaska has 6 times the national average of reported child sexual assault."

How serious? "74.7% [of Alaskans] have experienced or know someone who has experienced domestic violence or sexual assault."

How serious? So serious that the state has had to pass a specific law to require that "all assaults involving strangulation or suffocation will be prosecuted as felonies" because many cases were being tried as misdemeanors. Ya know, because strangulation is, like, so run of the mill shit.


So why is it, do you think, that "Despite the governor's pro-family image, public safety experts and advocates for women and children struggled when asked to explain how Palin's leadership has helped address the crisis" and why is it that "an ambitious, multi-million-dollar initiative to seriously tackle sex crimes in the state" was put on hold in July by Palin's office?

It all leads back to Troopergate. Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan was the chief proponent and champion of the initiative—and, within days of the project being shelved, he was fired after declining to re-open an old investigation against State Trooper Mike Wooten, who was at the time immersed in a bitter divorce and custody battle with Palin's sister Molly McCann.

Posted by binky at 08:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Oh, the liberal bias! The crazy feminism!


Under Armand's post below, I commented about wacky hijinks that ensued when two - count 'em! two! - college republican papers were once published at my alma mater, and left a link to the "liberal" Alligator. And thus I learn that the Alligator is not immune to the stupidity that strikes so many college papers:

I think most women want to be thrown around a little. Some want to be thrown around a lot. Guys, for the love of God, stop being so hesitant! There is nothing worse than when a guy, instead of smacking a girl's butt with purpose, does that wimpy half-tap thing. It's just painful, and not in the good way. So here are some do's and don't's [sic] of reclaiming your manhood between the sheets.

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The Dubai Ziggurat


Posted by armand at 04:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

WVU's College Republicans Start Their Own "News"paper

Someone might want to introduce these people to the world of logic. If the purpose of their endeavor is to promote a certain agenda, I'm curious to know how they plan to cover that and other matters in an "unbiased" way.

Posted by armand at 10:44 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

US Newspaper Spread "Obsession" in Swing States

I'm not sure that this is appropriate behavior for supposed news organizations, no matter how hard up for cash they are. Maybe if they fact-checked it - but something tells me they didn't.

Posted by armand at 08:34 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 14, 2008

Locking in Bill Stewart

Umm, why did our university just do this? 6 years? Look, last year's bowl win was nice and everything. Hey, it was great. But in his last outing he lost to East Carolina by 3 touchdowns. Yes, East Carolina by 3 touchdowns. And our once-famed offense scored 3 points. Yes, 3. Against East Carolina. So, is this really the best time to sign him to a long-term deal?

Posted by armand at 10:57 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Amadeo Giannini

So I see Bank of America is going to buy Merrill. This reminds me of something I don't quite understand about our understanding of US socioeconomic history. How exactly is it that the name of Amadeo Giannini has largely been forgotten? You'd really think there would have been a movie or miniseries made about him by now.

Posted by armand at 10:30 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

David Foster Wallace, RIP

So last night I ended up watching Gonzo (I'd give it a slight thumbs up) with some friends, after which one of them started talking about the topic of writers and artists and suicide. Kind of creepy to hear that last night and see this in today's paper. Obviously he wasn't to all tastes (our friend at Texas is definitely not a fan), and I'd say his work was uneven. But whose isn't? When he was on, he wrote some highly entertaining pieces. "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again" remains one of my favorite stories.

Posted by armand at 04:09 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Palin (Fey) & Clinton (Poehler) on SNL

Highly amusing, and all too true.

Posted by armand at 03:27 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Note to McCain Campaign

This is called "vetting" (here and here). You might want to try it out sometime.

(This doesn't mean the stories are correct in their negative review of Palin's tenure as mayor and governor. However, if you vet people correctly, you discover the facts that might be interpreted as negative, and prepare arguments against them. Thus, when newspapers show up to do stories - like these- you can respond and not look like idiots. In the case of these two stories, the McCain campaign had no response of any relevance, which makes the stories look worse. What moron thought that not vetting a Vice-Presidential candidate was a good idea?)

Posted by baltar at 08:24 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 13, 2008

Highly Offensive

That's what this is, evidently, to someone who lives on my block.

This week I received from the city a notice that I was in violation of city code for "excessive weeds" and "obstructed sidewalk." Look again at the distressing weeds obstructing the sidewalk. I'll wait. Find them yet? Yeah, I couldn't either.

Apparently someone has complained. Neighborhood intel suggests that it was the neighbor up one house (in the picture, the one with the flag on the porch). I have written about this neighbor before. There are many things I could say about this fine citizen, especially his problems with dumping his yard waste into the street/my driveway and his failure to retrieve dog feces (both violations of city ordinance), but what I am left with is the thought that some people really don't have enough to do.

Posted by binky at 04:28 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

The Army Sold the Big Red 1 to Sears?

Ummm, what? This seems wrong.

Posted by armand at 03:38 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Crafts for Winter

After a couple of really busy years in which there was no time for home improvements or crafts - or housecleaning for that matter - things have returned to what my mom would call a "dull roar" around Casa de Binky. This means cleaning up, throwing out, and lining up the new projects.

I've got a pile of stuff in my living room that is waiting to be donated/freecycled, and even more already went out to the trash (including the guest bed that the helpful kitties worked hard to "make smell like us" after an extended house guest departed. I also sorted through years of filed bills and old journal articles that I had printed off in the days before online access, recycling a dozen boxes of office papers and shredding several more of the bills and old checks.

The cat pee bed resided in my "studio" where at one point I kept my pottery wheel in an ill-advised attempt to convince myself that one did not need water on the same floor where one threw pots, but recently was the repository of a lot of junk in piles masquerading as "someday I'll get to" projects. Instead of getting a new bed, I got a five dollar spread to throw over the plywood base and a few square sitting cushions (like this but plain) to put on top. In an instant the platform converts to a crafting surface with the addition of a cutting mat. I've got an old 1950s chrome and formica table kind of like this that holds the sewing machine, and a waist high table with a bar stool for beading and fiddly work. Plus there is room for my mom's old love seat - with a chenille throw, of course - and a small coffee table that I trashpicked liberated helped recycle for sitting back to sip tea and do needle-work.

There is also, now, a hook on the door and the cats are no longer allowed free access to conduct their "fragrant" business.

Sounds awesome, right? Especially when I describe the window that is nestled into the dormers, which has a lovely view of the sunset over the neighborhood, which is clearly visible from the loveseat and the sitting area/cutting platform. Except for the fact that my house doesn't have a/c and this darling space is in the attic, where it is about 95 degrees on a good day. This means planning for winter projects.

The first up is one that appeals to my recycling impulse - the rag rug (I'm planning to use a combination of these two patterns/techniques). In the Great Throwing Out of Ought Eight, anything that looked wearable has been put in the charity pile. Then there was the vast pile of old t-shirts: ratty, holey and stained. Many of them were, or had once been, white. Gross, and bland. So I got some RIT dye and boiled up some shirts in red, blue and green. Once they were dyed, they had to be cut into thin loops as per the instructions above. Should you attempt this, I highly recommend not using scissors because after about two shirts you will want to quit. Which is the point I hied myself to the local quilter shop and bought a deee-luxe rotary cutter.

Voila! seemingly endless loops of colorful, soft fabric, waiting to be joined and wound into a giant ball. All over the kitchen table. I'm thinking that it will be at least a month before it is cool enough to sit up there and crochet, and more than that to have a cozy cup of tea. But even though my tomatoes are still green on the vine, I'm getting ready for the snow.

Posted by binky at 03:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 12, 2008

Pakistan, the Taliban, and India

Some big-picture points to keep in mind when you think about the future of the US presence in Afghanistan and the nature of our ties to Pakistan.

Posted by armand at 07:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ike, Oil Refineries, and the 2008 Campaign

Obviously Ike is going to be a terrible storm. It looks like people are sure to die tonight, and the damage to Galveston could be devastating. Something else for us to keep an eye on though is how this will affect oil prices. Most of Texas's big refineries are in areas that will be hit hard by this hurricane - places like Baytown, Texas City, Beaumont, Port Arthur and within Harris County itself. And for that matter, two of Louisiana's larger refineries are close too (in Lake Charles and Westlake). I don't know enough about these facilities to hazard a guess about whether or not they'll be damaged by the storm. But if they are that'll likely mean higher prices at the pump, and it may aid the"drill, baby, drill" political agenda". Again, this isn't meant to equate those effects with the deaths that are likely going to happen tonight, or what this is going to do to people's lives and livelihoods in Texas. But Ike could have an effect on the course of national politics as well.

Posted by armand at 12:58 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Maybe America Watched The Wrong Interview...

ABC got the numbers and the interview, but this guy might have had the more important interview. Don't know when it was from, but it has to have been recent.

(Moved below the fold because it would play automatically.)

McCain looks confused by actual tough questions from a local yokel.

Posted by baltar at 11:46 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The Palin-Gibson Interview: Round 1

She knowingly lies right to your face, again and again, even when she probably knows there's proof to catch her in the lie. She just doesn't care, doesn't feel a need to defend herself, or to be honest with the country.

And she, who could be president of the United States in a little more than four months doesn't even know what the Bush Doctrine is. Can you imagine what the response would've been if Dan Quayle had answered (or failed to answer) a question like that? That represents a truly staggering lack of knowledge about foreign policy.

But what was the coverage of the interview on NPR this morning? They had their expert reporters on (one of whom they share with FoxNews), and they basically said, well, she can handle being interviewed. It was as substance-free as most any other "news" coverage, and makes me question yet again (for something like the 85,731st time) why non-right-wingers think NPR is any better than any other news outlet.

UPDATE: The Fallows post Moon notes in the comments.

What Sarah Palin revealed is that she has not been interested enough in world affairs to become minimally conversant with the issues. Many people in our great land might have difficulty defining the "Bush Doctrine" exactly. But not to recognize the name, as obviously was the case for Palin, indicates not a failure of last-minute cramming but a lack of attention to any foreign-policy discussion whatsoever in the last seven years.

What kind of presidential candidate names such a person Vice President, especially while US troops are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Posted by armand at 10:07 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 11, 2008

McCain: Dangerously Out of Touch on Energy Issues

Why don't people burst out laughing when the Republican nominee for the presidency says stuff like this?

She knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America

Suuuure she does Sen. McCain. And if that wasn't enough he repeated the nonsense that being in georgraphic proximity to Russia makes one an expert on foreign policy. Hmmm. I live next door to an artist. I guess any day now I'm going to be getting calls from Chelsea galleries wanting to exhibit my work.

John McCain - dangerously out of touch, or a sad, manipulative little man who'll say literally anything if it'll get him into the White House (and show no respect whatsoever for the American people in the process)? Both?

Posted by armand at 03:59 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Snake Eyes?

So JA has a post up in honor of Brian De Palma's birthday. The man has made some great films. Whether lurid and off-kilter or serious he's shown flashed of genius. At one time or another I've loved Carrie, Carlito's Way, The Untouchables, Blow Out, Dressed to Kill, Mission: Impossible, Casualties of War and Scarface (well, maybe loved is the wrong word to use for that last one, but it was pretty amazing). And even in some of his lesser works parts of 'em off stand out (like the bits of Body Double and The Black Dahlia he mentions - well, at least as regards Fiona Shaw). But while he's made some great and fun movies, the man's been prolific and made a lot of lousy ones too. So the question is - should I watch Snake Eyes? Every time I've ever asked anyone who's seen it the answer hasn't been no - it's been Nooooooooo!!!!! But remembering just how good he could be, well, I wish it was better than it apparently is.

Posted by armand at 02:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

So It Wasn't Osama Bin Laden or Saddam Hussein

There really are no words for this. I mean I've come to expect most anything to come out of the mouths of Bush administration mouthpieces, but given what they've done while scaring the country to death about Osama and Saddam ... well, I'm pretty much speechless. I'm rather surprised the press corps even bothers with showing up at the White House press ofice any more.

Posted by armand at 12:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

McCain's Lobbyists

Neato! A one-stop shop for the money and connections behind John McCain's lobbyists, errr, advisors. And it's got cute graphics.

Posted by armand at 12:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 10, 2008

The Trailer for The Soloist

On the one hand I love Robert Downey, Jr. On the other hand I hate this kind of movie. And that it's directed by the director of Atonement has me even more worried about being able to sit through it. Still, it is a Downey movie so I presume I'll see it eventually.

Posted by armand at 10:34 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Ugly Betty Season 2, Disc 1

So it is the time of year when the dvds of last year's tv series are released. So I've spent a chunk of the week, getting back into the world of one of my favorite shows, Ugly Betty. And so far I'm pleased. Clearly that show did not lose its zing in the second season. They brought in some great guest/recurring actors, including Illeana Douglas, Victor Garber ("I never pun"), John Cho, and Freddy Rodriguez. I quite like Rebecca Romijn playing Alex in Alexis's body. Vanessa Williams is great fun, and Michael Urie is flat-out terrific. Last season Becki Newton was my favorite, and her timing remains top-notch, but for the opening four episodes Marc is just amazing - his lines, delivery, clothes (such clothes!), and pratfalls are all super. All of the best scenes on this disc involve his character (interacting with Wilhelmina, Amanda, or Justin). And whether he's mocking, supporting, or plotting he's got some great lines - "Ambitious suck-ups! I mean - interns!", "Can I spoon too?", "Don't get me wrong, mad props on the e-vil". Though I suppose the show's best lines might be Wilhelmina's orders/advice to him. Things like - "I was a simple girl with an evil plan", "I took lemons and I made a lemon martini", and "off the floor Mark - no, your instincts were right, fall again".

Posted by armand at 09:59 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Oh, For The Love of God...

CNN is advertising that they will have Chuck Norris on tonight to talk about politics.

Presumably tomorrow they'll have on Colin Powell to discuss professional bass-fishing, and Friday will feature James Carville to discuss how the new IPod will influence Apple's stock price (actually, Carville will talk endlessly about anything, so that might happen).

In all seriousness, unfortunately, they're promoting the Chuck Norris segment by saying that Norris has "a roundhouse kick to the head with the Democrat's name on it." It just gets worse and worse.

(Oh, and a couple of hours ago CNN "debunked" some "myths" about Palin. They noted that an internet myth was that Palin had wanted to teach creationism in Alaskan schools. They debunked the myth by showing that Palin didn't want to teach creationism, she wanted to teach evolution AND creationism! See, she's a balanced, not-crazy person! She wanted to teach both! That's reasonable! Who could object to that! I objected, loudly and out-loud, to this "debunking" and everyone in the office I was in looked at me strangely. I can't really go out in public much these days.)

Posted by baltar at 05:51 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Admiral Mullen on Afghanistan - We're Not Winning

And "we're running out of time".

Posted by armand at 04:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Something I Don't Understand

I get sticking to McSame as a campaign theme, and think it will pay benefits in November. But why isn't Obama running ads 24/7 in FL, VA, MI, CO and NV touting his tax cuts and comparing them to what McCain is offerring? These things are very popular. It's definitely substantive in the way the press defines the term. It's a win in terms of a "comparison" ad. And yet the people at large know little about the plan. At the very least putting that on for 2 weeks would make the press corps aware of it and focus on it a bit. Why aren't they highlighting this more?

UPDATE: Yes, this, exactly. That's what the campaign needs to do more effectively. And I think the tax cut is a central part, maybe the central part, of an effective "solutions" campaign narrative.

Posted by armand at 11:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 09, 2008

A Good First Effort

The 20 Questions We Would Ask Sarah Palin

It's a pretty good list. I might skip some of the more factual questions ("Who leads China and India?") in favor of more questions about policy (if you are only limited to 20 make them count; asking factual questions seems more a way to deliberately trip her up). Still, I'd like to see McCain and Obama answer those.

Posted by baltar at 03:44 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

September 08, 2008

A Woman Shows All During a Fracas at a Local Restaurant ... Sources Say

Once again Ezra is wise. Until the media acknowledges they are part of the campaign they can't cover it effectively. And since they can't acknowledge that we get lousy campaign coverage. Reporting on the campaign minus the media is "willfully obtuse".

Posted by armand at 11:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

With friends pastors like this...

Not that I think this pick was ever about picking up independents and Clinton supporters. This ought to turn out the base though.

McGraw says Palin's Pentecostal roots may be being downplayed for a reason: "I think there may be issues of belief that could be misunderstood or played upon by people that don't know."


Palin's former pastor says he has no doubt her religious beliefs will influence her decision making when it comes to government policy.


Palin now attends the Wasilla Bible Church. She was there on August 17, just days before entering the national spotlight. David Brickner, the founder of Jews for Jesus, was a speaker. He told congregants that terrorist attacks on Israel were God's "judgment" of Jews who haven't embraced Christianity. Brickner said, "Judgment is very real and we see it played out on the pages of the newspapers and on the television. When a Palestinian from East Jerusalem took a bulldozer and went plowing through a score of cars, killing numbers of people. Judgment -- you can't miss it."


Pastor Ed Kalnin, the senior pastor of Palin's former Pentecostal church, has also come under fire for his comments. In 2004, he told church members if they voted for John Kerry for president, they wouldn't get into heaven. He told them, "I question your salvation."

Not that being associated with a fringe-ity-fringe pastor is a problem for anyone.

Posted by binky at 10:28 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

My vote was chosen out of love

And of course, it was for The Flaming Lips.

Posted by binky at 10:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The McCain Media Strikes Again

MSNBC is removing Keith O and Chris Matthews from the anchor's chairs of their election coverage. And ABC's Charlie Gibson agrees to interview Sarah Palin over multiple days. You know, so she can get notes between questions, or easily call off the whole interview if she doesn't like where his questions are going.

Posted by armand at 08:48 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 07, 2008

Making Lemonade

Tbogg's use of the Hold Steady takes my mind off of all the nonsense and reminds me that in the next month or so I am not only going to see the Hold Steady three times, but also the Drive By Truckers and Matthew Sweet. Awesome.

Posted by binky at 04:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Could McCain Be Any More of a Celebrity Among the East-Coast Elite?

Imagine that asked in my best Chandler Bing voice.

It's hard to imagine anyone who better represents the Washington elite than McCain. He fits that bill in so many ways. And I learned a new one from Halperin today (yes, it's a day in which Halperin added a fact to the political diaolgue - who knew such things happened?). As of today Sen. John Sidney McCain III has been on Face the Nation 65 times. Yes, you read that right, 65 times, on just one of the Sunday talk shows. And while I knew he was far and away the favorite guest of the Sunday tv pundits over the last decade, it turns out that their chummy little chats with him before a national audience happen so frequently that he's actually been on Face the Nation more often than any other guest in the entire run of the show. And the show has been on for 54 years. Yes, it's 7 years older than Sen. Obama, and 10 years older than Gov. Palin, and McCain's been on it more than any other guest during the entire run of the show. With a record like that the assertion that he's not a signature feature of the ensconced Washington elite is, well, bizarre.

Posted by armand at 12:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 06, 2008

Gov. Palin - Hiding Out for 2 Weeks?

As a theoretical matter I agree with Sullivan. In a democracy it should not be acceptable for a major politician to hide from the press - especially in the weeks preceding a national election. It shows a contempt for the public. It was wrong when Ollie North was doing it during his Senate run in 1994. It was wrong when Bill Clinton did it for about a year in the wake of the Lewinsky scandal. But it's that level wrongness cubed in this case because the American people really don't have much of a clue who she is. So it's no surprise that Sullivan and company would be flabbergasted at the notion that this woman could be the most powerful political leader on Earth in 4 months, and yet only 1 person had a say in putting her in that position, and she (and McCain) is doing what she can to make sure that the American people don't know who she is. That behavior is indictative of a staggering contempt for the notion of democracy. But of course this is the party of the Bush administration, so maybe we shouldn't be surprised.

That said, I'll be quite surprised if that actually comes to pass. The lies in her introductory speeches are going to get more press. So will her questionable record as mayor and governor. And when that happens, and it will be going on this week, I would think the McCain campaign would want her front and center, smiling and telling stories and going on the attack. If she's hiding in the face of negative coverage, that's not going to go over well. But if she's out there, calling all the revelations about her failures "politics", and then launching into another story about snowmobile racing or her children, and hitting on how she's relatable, that should take the edge off the coverage.

Posted by armand at 11:42 PM | Comments (33) | TrackBack

Just like snowflake babies

The GOP steals "rescues" flags from the democrats.

Posted by binky at 06:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

About that Obama sign

The one in my yard? It's been stolen. Along with all the other Obama signs on my block.

Posted by binky at 06:08 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

A valid question

Who are these people?

In light of the incident in Quebec in which police agents were caught by actual peaceful protestors trying to incite crowd violence, some people are curious.

The question is asked:

I cannot help but remember some people I knew in college, one of whom turned out to be an informant and provocateur who infiltrated antiwar and other related groups. I thought of it again, sharply, when I read this LiveJournal post about a past event. I look at that photograph, where the "protesters" being detained and the officers ostensibly arresting them have matching footwear, and I read that no charges were pressed against the "protesters," even though they were the ones committing acts of vandalism, and I cannot help but think "provocateurs.' Which brings me to the question I started with: Who are these people?

Seriously. We have a lot of people who can look at photos and figure this stuff out. Supposedly the pro-surveillance folks are doing it to us. Let's put our heads together and figure out who really broke stuff at the demonstration, and then let's find out if they're really regular protesters, idiots with a taste for vandalism and no political savvy, or provocateurs. Let's find out if they even get charged.

Let's find out who these people are.

Yes, let's do.

Posted by binky at 05:46 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Weekend Link Dump

It's not pretty folks.

"Sambo beat the bitch". Apparently, "that's just Alaska".

Driving while Hispanic:

On Aug. 12 Denver county passed an ordinance that allows authorities to confiscate a car if the driver doesn't have a driver's license, or if authorities suspect that he or she is undocumented.

From the GOS... Rudy on Obama:

...he's never run a city, never run a state, never run a business. He's never had to lead people in crisis.

and Rudy on McCain during the primaries:

...has never run a city, never run a state, never run a government. He has never been responsible as a mayor for the safety and security of millions of people...

Rudy on everything else.

Covering up rape and murder with "suicides" in the U.S Armed Forces.

Great art videos on the web.

Hat tips to various sources that I lost track of while assembling this, including Shakesville and Feministing's always thorough weekly roundups.

Posted by binky at 03:50 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Governors As Running Mates

Here's a piece of US political trivia I didn't know - in the last 60 years how many governors have been vice presidential nominees on major party tickets? 2. Spiro Agnew and Sarah Palin. I didn't realize it was that uncommon.

Posted by armand at 03:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 05, 2008

We Are Giving Georgia $1 Billion?

I think the Armchair Generalist has a good description of how we apparently choose to dole out foreign aid (your money) these days.

Call the State Department now to get more details on this limited-time event. Dial 1-800-XXX-XXXX, press "1" for requests to join the "coalition of the willing" in Iraq. Press "2" if you have evidence of existing Iraqi WMDs. Press "3" if you are a leader of a country with WMDs and you wish to be invaded. Press "4" if you are interested in conducting military attacks against Russia and its interests. This contest is not valid after January 20, 2009.
Posted by armand at 01:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Vanderbilt Leads SEC Football

Okay, so it's only week two, and only 2 teams have even played in a conference game - but how often do Vanderbilt fans get to see positive headlines? Congratulations to them.

Posted by armand at 11:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 04, 2008

Uh, Are You Sure?

Dick Cheney, being kept as far away from the Republican National Convention as is humanly possibly, has stated (publicly) that Georgia should join NATO:

TBILISI, Georgia - Vice President Dick Cheney flew here on Thursday to deliver a forceful American pledge to rebuild Georgia and its economy, to preserve its sovereignty and its territory and to bring it into the NATO alliance in defiance of Russia.


"I assured the president as well of my country's strong commitment to Georgia's territorial integrity," Mr. Cheney said after meeting with Mr. Saakashvili, without aides, for more than an hour, twice the scheduled time. "Georgia has that right, just as it has the right to build stronger ties to friends in Europe and across the Atlantic."

This doesn't seem like a great idea, and even if it is a great idea, now doesn't seem like the time to discuss it publicly. Exactly what US policy goal is being furthered by letting Georgia into NATO? I can see the democracy angle, but NATO isn't about democracy (or, at least, wasn't and hasn't really been since the end of the Cold War). Do we really want to tie ourselves to an unstable state in an unstable region? While we're at "war" with Islamic Extremism? I understand the motive here (public statements stand as metaphorical tripwires, telling Russia that we'll back Georgia), but since we can't really follow through on this (unofficial) commitment, is this the sanest policy?

Posted by baltar at 09:26 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Rob Andrews (D-NJ) Is a Weasel

Just sayin'. I hope that the thumping octogenarian Sen. Lautenberg gave him in the Senate primary kills him off as a statewide candidate for good.

Posted by armand at 06:11 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Why Does Sarah Palin Hate Community Organizers?

If there comes a day when Sarah Palin drifts out of her no-questions cocoon and actually deigns to talk to the press, someone should really asks her what it is about this form of community service that she thought was so worthy of ridicule. I'd really like to know.

So here is what Giuliani and Palin didn't know: Obama was working for a group of churches that were concerned about their parishioners, many of whom had been laid off when the steel mills closed on the south side of Chicago. They hired Obama to help those stunned people recover and get the services they needed - job training, help with housing and so forth - from the local government. It was, dare I say it, the Lord's work - the sort of mission Jesus preached (as opposed to the war in Iraq, which Palin described as a "task from God.")
Posted by armand at 04:46 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 03, 2008

Armand on the Republican Convention - Palin's Night

So I watched Rudy and Palin. My thoughts:

1) Quite a diverse crowd there, eh? On tv it truly looks like a white business people and their spouses (and parents) party. 2) I'm wondering if Giuliani was so awful to help Palin look better. No, I suppose not. He never was able to deliver a speech in a way other than off-timed, snarling, self-congratulatory, and aren't I clever and smart and the toughest thing ever. But really, that was totally a speech for the room. I doubt the party attracted a single independent voter with that. 3) As to Palin's delivery - great. As to Palin's substance ... was there substance? Maybe I missed that.

At this point it's abundantly clear that the Republican campaign is about 3 things: McCain's biography, Palin's biography, and lies, distortions and outright fantasies about the Democrats' positions. I imagine the DNC has already post a long, long list of things Palin said that were flatly untrue. And no, I don't include the lies she told about herself (at this point she's taunting the media to call her out at greater length on the Bridge to Nowhere lies). Now, true, the strengths of McCain's biography and the strengths of Palin's biography directly contradict each other. He is Mr. War. No matter what Mitt Romney says, he's Mr. East Coast Elite through-and-through. Whereas she's the small-town hockey mom, supposedly bucking the system (though again she's just daring the media to call her out on the degree to which that's true). So to the extent the Republicans are running on biographies and little else, adding her biography to the ticket just might help them, and she told what may well be an appealing story tonight.

Though I've got to say it is funny to hear Republicans jump up and down and rally their support to their candidate, primarily over bravery exhibited in Vietnam back before I was born. Because you know if that's how they really thought we should choose our president, you'd think the whole convention hall would have voted for John F. Kerry four years ago.

UPDATE: The Obama campaign responds.

UPDATE 2: I also find it humorous, predictable and sad that the party that was all over tv this week decrying sexism in the coverage of Palin threw a party in which several delegates were walking around the floor sporting buttons saying things like I'm Voting for the Hot Chick.

UPDATE 3: I think Fallows is pretty much on target here. Though I wonder if fact-checking the speech will really matter to voters, or if they will remember remember we've had a Republican president for the last 7+ years. Those cuts against it might prove true, but they might not.

Posted by armand at 11:31 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

The Perky

It burns.

Posted by binky at 10:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


This film, the first feature by documentary film maker Raoul Peck, will likely appeal to those interested in African history, the post-colonial era, or nefarious dealing by the West to keep "The South" in its place - happily abetted by certain political actors in The South. It's about the rise and quick fall of Congo's first prime minister after independence. I'd give it 3 stars out of 5. It's largely well-made and well-acted. The strikes against it? Well, big conflict scenes (say, riots) could be handled better, and it has a bit of a Hallmark Hall of Fame, sentimental quality to it. But in the grand scheme of possible faults those don't rank terribly high, and on the whole it's a good movie.

Posted by armand at 08:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Key Dates in History: The Battle of Ain Jalut

748 years ago today, the Mamluks defeated the Mongols. One can play all out many interesting "what if" scenarios about other possible alternative histories that might have occurred if the Mongols hadn't been stopped.

Posted by armand at 04:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Palin Slashed Funding for Homes for Teenage Mothers

She's one compassionate conservative.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee who revealed Monday that her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant, earlier this year used her line-item veto to slash funding for a state program benefiting teen mothers in need of a place to live.

UPDATE: Check Moon's link below - this piece may be inaccurate.

Posted by armand at 10:15 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

She's Visited Two Countries and Refueled in a Third

Nice line.

Posted by armand at 08:49 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 02, 2008

Intelligence Leaders Suspended for Illegal Wiretaps

No, not here sillies. Brazil:

Brazilian intelligence chiefs have been suspended from duty amid allegations that their agency tapped the phones of top officials, politicians and judges.


"The rule of law has been broken, the credibility of our democratic institutions has been damaged," said Senator Jose Agripino of the DEM Party.

Posted by binky at 09:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What's Going On In Richland County?

I know politicians win elections by being tough on crime, but what's the sheriff going to do with this? He does know he's fighting crime around Columbia, SC and not in Colombia, right? I guess it's only a matter of time until the county pays for a few old A-10 Thunderbolts too. He's going to need close air support for that thing after all.

Posted by armand at 07:42 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Bloodying the nose of democracy: Link Dump on the RNC Protests

There are several stories within the general view of the ineptitude of the coordinated "security" forces outside the RNC. One is about the harassment and abuse of the press. Another the apparent inability of the authorities to discern the difference between lawful exercise of citizen rights and violent criminality. Yet another is the abuse of the warrant system and para-military antics to create a climate of fear.

REP. KEITH ELLISON: Well, you know, that's what I'm trying to find out right now. I mean, before, quite frankly, I was perfectly content to allow the police to do the work they were doing, and I'm just going to go do the work I do. But now, I do have a new - an urgent curiosity to find out what the plan is. When are massive uses of force going to be deployed? What circumstances will trigger them? Have we looked - have we recognized the fact that we can actually cause more trouble than what would otherwise happen, when we bring forth this massive use of force as we saw on the tape? And so, I'm concerned about it. I think overreaction is as bad as under-reaction, and what I saw on that tape was pretty disturbing.

From an account of several journalists being assaulted by police as they did their jobs while clearly identifying themselves: "There was a photographer right next to me who was also taken down pretty violently. He was screaming he was press, as well. He had credentials. He kept saying he was a photographer for the New York Post. And quite funnily, he said, "'For Christ’s sake, it's a Republican paper!" But that didn’t seem to matter. "

Arresting clearly identified journalists and with the added bonus of ripping off their credentials. Really, watch this interview, especially the part where she describes how the reporter went to the police to ask for help and ended up getting arrested, dragged on her face and bloodied.

Glenn Greenwald has been on this, and has one of the best summary comments:

Just as was true for the despicable home raids this weekend, there will be no shortage of people defending all of this (browse through the comment section here to see many such people). The fact that there were some criminals engaged in some destructive acts (who, needless to say, should have been arrested), apparently means that whatever the Police do both before and afterwards is justifiable (just as the existence of some Terrorists justifies whatever the Government does in many people's minds).

He's also got an embedded video where a member of the press tries to get an answer from the authorities about why police are marching, aggressively chanting slogans and behaving in intimidating ways towards the press and people on the streets. Unsurprisingly, there's no answer.

A retired police officer says:

But I can say that, in my opinion, the tactics being used by law enforcement in Minneapolis/St. Paul appear to be very heavy handed methods whose sole purpose appears to be to intimidate. I'm ashamed of the unprofessional conduct - but feel I must add that I have no knowledge of standards of professional conduct in states other than California.

I don't know who is running this show but it smells like the Feds have been taking lessons from the pre-Olympics Chinese to me. In the America that I policed, all of the Bill of Rights were protected, including the First Amendment right guaranteeing freedom of speech and assembly and the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unlawful search and seizure.

This video is almost funny, if it wasn't so sad. A couple is out touring and are overtaken by police forces who order them down (by loudspeaker) and arrest them for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The funny part is that the woman, obviously shocked that they are being targeted, says "but I have to have this bike back by seven!" Boring and uneventful... we just wanted to go to the concert.

Clearly the violent protesters are violent and doing violence. But:

Embedded with the anarchists: "To be sure, a handful certainly weren’t always peaceful or obeying the law. But there was also less than 40 of them in the entire group at many points, and when windows started to get smashed by a lone few, yells came out from the group such as, "What are you doing!? You idiot! How is that going to send a message?" Anarchy and mass chaos? Hardly."

Yet, if you look at the photographs of broken windows in the mainstream press, you'll notice that they ten (sic) to be tightly framed shots of single broken panes. The framing invites the inference that the protesters did a lot of damage but the composition obscures the fact that the broken windows are part of an otherwise unscathed street.

When the media make the anarchists the centerpiece of their coverage, they're exploiting the violent tactics they pretend to deplore. The press love sensational stories about depraved hippies and the anarchists love attention--it's a symbiotic relationship.

Here's a kid who it looks like was arrested, beaten and stomped on by police for being a cheeky (non-violent) 17-year-old.

Protesters can be inconvenient, obnoxious, noisy and obstreperous. So can democracy.

We're paying for this people. The people who work for us refused to identify themselves, seized identification and property from journalists with no record, and indiscriminately treated peaceful citizens, members of the press and legal observers with disrespect for their liberty and property.

Shine the light on it. Before they start arresting people for social dangerousness.

Posted by binky at 07:40 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

The Same

Nicely done:

Posted by binky at 06:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The real issue about Palin and "choice"

She is so against it, she even believes that a fourteen year old who was raped shouldn't be able to get an abortion.

That makes her the fringiest of the fringe.

p.s. Fringity fringe fringe!

Posted by binky at 06:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

So When Is the Right Going to Decry Un-American Todd Palin?

Following up on something Binky noted earlier - So the US of A isn't good enough for Mr. Palin? And maybe Governor Palin too?

Posted by armand at 04:18 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 01, 2008

These People Need To Be Fired Immediately

And their bosses need to be fired, and their budgets cut, and the culture that leads to this kind of vicious and unprovoked attack on a young woman needs to be rooted out. Outrageous. What cowards, craven, impotent thugs hiding behind the supposed anonymity of riot gear. So afraid, so disdainful, so un-American. Shame.


Posted by binky at 10:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Restricting the Free Market

Via Kevin Drum, I see that the Bush Administration has won it's legal battle to prevent a private cattle producer from testing 100% of their cows for mad cow disease (short blurb). The company wanted to certify their beef as 100% free of the disease so they could sell to Japan (which won't buy our beef, since the US beef herd is only spot-checked, which statistically means you could miss some), but now they can't do that (and they have to pay their lawyers - wanna guess if they'll be in business in a year?).

The Bush administration said "No" to this, arguing that it would damage the economic fortunes of the rest of the beef industry. Which beef would you buy - the safe stuff (slightly more expensive, since the tests costs money) or the untested stuff? We could let the free market sort it out. Isn't that what Republicans are supposed to believe?

I just can't muster any real outrage anymore.

Posted by baltar at 01:43 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

A $3 Billion Iraq-China Oil Contract

It's the first deal of its kind since the 2003 invasion.

Iraq and China signed a $3 billion deal this week to develop a large Iraqi oil field, the first major commercial oil contract here with a foreign company since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

The 20-year agreement calls for the state-owned China National Petroleum Corp. to begin producing 25,000 barrels of oil a day and gradually increase the output to 125,000 a day, said Asim Jihad, a spokesman for the Iraqi Oil Ministry.

The contract revamps a deal the Chinese company had reached with Saddam Hussein in 1997 to develop the Ahdab oil field in Wasit province, south of Baghdad near the border with Iran. Unlike that deal, which called for China to share in the revenue, the current contract is based on a fixed-fee structure.

Posted by armand at 12:19 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

McCain's Fundamentally Dishonest Campaign

Speaking of that Kinsley column, it's pretty good. In light of the Palin nomination, just how does McCain defend the last several months of his own words about Obama?

It's not about experience at all. It's about honesty. The question should be whether McCain - and all the other Republicans who have been going on for months about Obama's dangerous lack of foreign policy experience - ever meant a word of it.
Posted by armand at 09:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Barone (Author of "The Bible") on Palin and the Aleutians

I think that one thing that's often underestimated in terms of why national discourse, especially in the press, about national politics took such a right-leaning slant over the last few decades is the effect of The Almanac of American Politics. Pretty much every news bureau in Washington and New York has one, as of course do lots of political offices, and probably more than a few C-SPAN junkies around the nation. It's been described as "The Bible of American Politics". In the information age they are probably most useful as doorstops, but for years and years if you wanted information about a member of Congress at your finger tips, that was the book you picked up. And the book has a slant. Read the modifiers used to describe lefty members and right-wing members and you'll notice some differences (of the "extremist" vs. "principled" variety). This is not too shocking as for years and years it's been written and edited by uber-hack Michael Barone. Just how hackish is Barone? Well, get a load of this that he mentions in defending Palin's experience (noted in today's Michael Kinsley column):Alaska is the only state with a border with Russia. And it is the only state with territory, in the Aleutian Islands, occupied by the enemy in World War II.

Of course! Decades before she was born, islands in Alaska were invaded. Why didn't it occur to me earlier that she naturally picked up foreign policy experience from that fact? Why? Because I have a functioning brain. That this guy's been in charge of shaping opinions about members of Congress for decades (thank you National Journal!) makes it a little easier to understand the cluelessness and stilted perspective of some of the press corps.

Posted by armand at 08:54 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

How Many Other Hurricane Sites Has McCain Visited?

I think Benen's right to bring this up. McCain's been in politics for decades - has he ever before acted like he's acting now? Did he do it post-Katrina? After all 2005 saw 3 of the biggest hurricanes on record, and Rita and Wilma hit after Katrina. What was he doing then? On the face of it this just screams naked politics. Now he's certainly not the first politician to use a disaster for political gain - far from it. But I do wonder a bit if part of canceling tonight's Republican convention isn't simply image-making with the BIG added benefit of keeping George W. Bush as far away from him as possible - especially during storm season.

Posted by armand at 08:20 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack