Sunday, August 31, 2008

Let's Pretend
That Crazy Story Burning Up The Intertubes


I Will Not Only Not Link To

Will Only Discuss Obliquely

So, let's pretend that some monumentally weird and outlandish allegations about a candidate for very high office suddenly surfaced on the intertubes. Suppose also that the candidate in question was the candidate of a party that had acted so badly and governed so ineptly and campaigned so dirtily for so much of the last decade that even many sane and level-headed people were beside themselves with anger and fully righteous indignation. But suppose that the alleged actions in question were really, literally, actually and factually so flat-out nutty, so completely freakish, so thoroughgoingly loony that the antecedent likelihood that they were true was very, very, very, veeeeeeeery low. Now. Under such circumstances it seems that common human decency would demand that questions about the allegations in question should be treated delicately and judiciously unless some fairly substantial evidence as to their truth should should arise. Among other things, it seems fairly clear that everyone (for example, certain folks at dKos) should avoid any assertions that said allegations are true, especially on the basis of nothing more substantive than the casual inspection of a few pictures.

Although, as some (for example, people at The Atlantic) have noted, it is our obligation to pursue the truth in this matter, let me suggest the following principle:

The more bizarre the allegations, the more proof one needs before making them public.

The allegations in question are awfully darned weird, and the proof being offered in support of them is pretty darned weak. So it seems like the reasonable thing to do is for everybody to throttle back and stand by until the people who are in a position to actually investigate the matter have come up with something more like a prima facie case.

I'm not trying to block the road of inquiry, I'm just suggesting that, in cases like this, there is a human cost associated with even asking questions publicly--and the intertubes are terribly, terribly public. Therefore it seems that any investigation and discussion of such allegations should remain discreet in the early stages, until stronger evidence emerges.

Furthermore, on a prudential note, it is probably worth noting that, if the allegations turn out to be false--as they probably will--this whole thing will end up helping elect people who should absolutely, positively not be elected. There is absolutely nothing to be gained by splashing these charges all over the place in these preliminary forms, and there is much to be lost. Even just raising the question has a strategic cost in addition to a moral cost.

The election is two months away. There is plenty of time to look into this matter if it's warranted. There is absolutely no reason to splash this stuff all over the web before anyone knows anything really substantive about it.

[Update: the nutty, scurrilous rumor to which I refer in this post is distinct from the now-confirmed rumors of Palin's daughter's pregnancy. But, with luck, that revelation will put the other, nuttier rumor to rest. So lets all just forget about it, shall we?]

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ham Sandwich McCain's Actual Choice for Veep

John McCain has revealed that his apparent choice of Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential running-mate was, as many observers predicted, a carefully-staged hoax. "Yeah, right," McCain campaign manager Rick Davis said of Palin, laughing with reporters. "As if! What do we look like, a bunch of complete lackwits? You guys will believe anything."

McCain's actual running mate will be a ham sandwich.

The sandwich, said by analysts to be "a little light on the ham," has never held any public office and is incapable of speech or rational thought. It is thought that the choice will solidify McCain's credentials as a "maverick."

"John McCain makes decisions with his gut," said Davis. "That's what Americans like, right?"

Some Democrats questioned whether a sandwich was qualified to be the Vice President of the United States, let alone President if anything should happen to McCain, 72.

Republican spokesmen fired back that any attempt to criticize the sandwich in any way would constitute a display of bigotry.

"Sandwiches are as American as apple pie," said McCain spokesman Brian Rogers, "and it's just like the Democrats to attack them, and, by implication, our entire American way of life, and, by further extension, the very human act of eating, and, by even further extension, life itself, and, by extensive extension, the very concept of existence, both for human beings, and indeed, for the entire universe and, perhaps, even alternative universes."

He suggested that Democrats would probably favor some more "Middle-Eastern-sounding food," such as "kabobs or tacos or something."

GOP surrogates soon fanned out to cable news networks to sing the praises of the sandwich.

"This is a bold and visionary choice by John McCain," said Republican commentator William Bennett, appearing on CNN. "The trade in pork and pork products is absolutely central to America's military might and economic development in the 21st century. There is simply no better choice for Vice President, and, in fact, any objective observer must question why there is nothing made of pork--nor, in fact, anything that is consumable in any way--on the Democratic ticket."

Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Joe Biden gave the McCain camp cautious praise for its choice. "Well, at least it wasn't Mitt Romeny," he said. "I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief about that."

[Update! Thanks to the Mystic, who informs us in comments that the ham sandwich was, in fact, already in the early stages of gearing up for a Senate campaign. Interestingly, this actually gives the sandwich more national experience than Palin has.]

[Quasi-update: Thanks for all the e-mails and links (e.g. Kleiman, Ezra, Andrew Sullivan)...tho, I gotta say, I still think 3pm was funnier... But what do I know?]

[Extra Special Update: As Pete notes in comments, McCain has responded to criticism of his choice by noting that he was a POW, and for many years had no ham sandwiches nor, in fact, any sandwiches of any kind whatsoever.]

[Super Extra Special Update: Palin supporters are responding with disappointment, noting that, if Palin were partially made of bread, then she would have just as much foreign policy experience as the ham sandwich, if she were also partially made of ham.]
Prior Commitment And Addressing Basic Questions In A Cool Hour
With Comments on National Experience vs. Executive Experience

So, I harp on this a lot in person, and I've harped on it a bit here in the past:

One good technique for increasing the degree of objectivity in one's decision-making is to decide on issues ahead of time, in a cool hour. We can't, of course, foresee all issues we'll have to decide upon ahead of time, though. So it pays to think about certain basic issues ahead of time and take steps to develop (flexible, fallibilistic) positions on those issues.

Here's a relevant basic issue we really ought to develop some kind of collective wisdom on ahead of time: which, if either, is really more important for a president: national experience or executive experience.

Now, as it turns out, I do have a position on this. Unfortunately, it isn't worth much because it was developed fairly unreflectively. I've always been inclined to think that national experience was more important than executive experience. Accordingly, I've had a tendency to prefer Senators to Governors. But, that may just be because Senatorial voting records give us evidence that is more relevant to evaluating what someone will be like as a president. (A well-known strategic disadvantage for Senators...but an advantage from the perspective of those who are interested in making a reasonable decision.) That kind of preference is only marginally relevant here.

Thing is, having had neither national experience nor executive experience (nor, in fact, any political experience at all), my hunches here are pretty worthless. But this is probably an issue that we could answer if we were really interested in doing so. There are people who have had both kinds of experience, and who could say informative things about the question.

Needless to say, few people are really interested in finding the truth at a time like this, though. In a cool hour, we might be able to do it. Now, it's all about the spin and rationalization. But in a cool hour, it's very difficult to get people interested in such questions.

One of the most notorious failures along these lines of recent years, incidentally, came during the recount debacle of 2000. One central issue--should hand-counts be used when the margin of victory fell below a certain percentage?--had been extensively addressed and conclusively answered ahead of time. The uncontroversial answer is yes. Machine counts are approximations that can replace hand-counts for most elections, in which the margin of victory is generally sufficiently large to make the approximations sufficiently precise. But the margin of victory in Florida in 2000 fell below this threshold; machine counts were of little use under such conditions. Everyone involved realized this, including the voting-machine manufacturers and George W. Bush. There is absolutely no doubt about it: hand-counts should have been conducted, and that was the decision all the principals had made ahead of time, in a cool hour. Although on most ways of re-counting, Bush would still have won, the Bush campaign did not realize that at the time, and, so, deployed a number of sophistical arguments to convince the public that hand-counts were less accurate than machine counts. This was a lie, but it worked. Consequently, there is a very strong sense in which the election of 2000 was not legitimate, even though it may very well have produced the same result that a legitimate election would have produced.

So prior commitment in a cool hour won't solve all problems--in particular, it won't help if we reject such commitments when they are politically inconvenient. But it's a useful tool, and can help us be more objective in many cases.

Friday, August 29, 2008


Uhhh.... this for real?

Is this is some kind of weird, complicated bit of misdirection in order to make Mitt Romney seem kind of o.k. when he's revealed as the actual veep candidate during the convention?

I mean, this is just crazy, right? Can McCain possibly be serious? I have to say, I'm just baffled. Though I've become furious with McCain since his campaign turned dirty, I had a fair amount of respect for him before that. I may disagree with the guy, but I have to say, I never expected a decision like this. On the face of it, it seems to be downright loony. I know he was in a bind, veep-wise...but this choice seems to be completely irresponsible. It would be irresponsible if McCain were fifty-two...but at seventy-two...

I'm incredulous.
Blowing the McSame Veep Predictions.

Shows what I know. I got both the when and the who wrong.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Obama's Speech: Flat Out Amazing

I'm at a loss for words.

This man is just unbelievable.
Gore--My Favorite Speech So Far

Man, it may not have had the rhetorical brilliance of Clinton's speech, nor the fiery passion of Kerry's...but I really like and respect Al Gore, and his was, I believe, my favorite speech so far.

Imagine...if it hadn't been for the butterfly ballot, he would have been president, and it would all be different. We would, most importantly, never have invaded Iraq. The debacle of the Bush presidency would never have happened.

So close. So very, very close.
Various Random Convention Thoughts

[To be fascinatingly updated periodically]

The Dems have some rockin' tunes alright, as you know if you've been watching it on C-SPAN, tho probably can't tell from the networks. The GOP will, no doubt, try to appeal to the youth with, e.g., the Macarena. The Dems also will obviously have better movies. That Spielberg movie was really, really great. Whatever else you might say about us, we've got the best musicians and movie guys. I mean, who do the Republicans have? Leni Riefenstahl?

Susan Eisenhower makes a good point that others haven't exactly made: Obama has the right temperament to be president.

Putting Barney Smith before Smith Barney...excellent!!! You go, Barney Smith!

Prediction: McCain's Veep--When and Who?

When: tonight, to try to steal Obama's thunder.

Who: Tom Ridge.

Yep, I know I'm in the minority here. But that's my guess. Just want to go on record with it. The smart money is, apparently, on Romney...but Romney is a complete tool, and a thorough-going moron. Ridge helps McSame get centrists and Pennsylvania. Romney might actually lose part of his base for him--my guess is that many hard-core wingnuts just won't be able to bring themselves to vote for a Mormon.
If Republicans Were Half As Good At Governing As They Are At Making Vicious Ads...

...then they'd be a force to be reckoned with.

Sadly, of course, they aren't even close. But they sure can make a mean-ass ad...though, in this case, several dopey Democratic candidates (including, alas, Chris Dodd) help them out, as we all knew they would. There's no going back from "I have a lifetime of experience...McCain has a lifetime of experience...Obama has a speech he gave in 2002." Once that's out there, it's poisonous enough to be there pretty much for good.

Now, of course, if the things in question had been said honestly and for good reason, that would be one thing--but as we know, they were said for political effect, in order to win an election. Such charges need not be true, nor even well-supported...they need only be vaguely plausible.

It's hard for me to be objective about this, but this ad, like several of McCain's other recent attack ads, seem brutally effective to me--not, of course, effective because true, but, rather, effective because almost artistically brutal.

This is campaigning as marketing--no regard for the truth whatsoever, it's just about the sale. It's hard to pick out what angers me most about the Republicans over the last decade+, but this sort of thing would have to be high on the list.

But, ignoring the moral dimensions and just focusing on the tactical ones, I fear that these ads might really work. And, even if the Dems were to get half as vicious in response, I doubt that they could get away with it.

So I guess you could say that I'm a bit concerned.

The thing is, rational people can, of course, be concerned about the experience issue with Obama. Hell, I'd certainly like it if he had another ten years under his belt...though that would always be good, for anybody. But when it comes down to a mean-ass, dumb-ass, pretty-much-always-wrong-about-everything, bad-judgment, hot-headed, can't-tell-Sunnis-from-Shia George W. Bush clone vs. an intelligent, knowledgeable guy with extremely good judgment...well, I'll take the latter any day, even if I wish he had a tad more experience. Hell, I wish the other guy were less mean, less of a dumbass, wrong less often, had better judgment, were less hot-headed, could tell Sunnis from Shia, and were less like George W. Bush...

But you can't have everything--so you've got to take the better of the available options.

And in this case, the choice seems pretty damn clear.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tammy Duckworth--Yet Another Excellent Speech On Day 3

Man, I'm sure the news networks aren't carrying this, but she's giving a top-notch speech.

And, I mean: a female Asian Blackhawk pilot giving Bush hell for misusing the military after 9/11--jeez!

She's just great.

Again: too bad only C-SPAN nerds are seeing a great deal of the best stuff.
Kerry Hits It Out Of The Park

Wow. All of a sudden, it's a different convention.

I think Kerry did an astounding job. He counterpunched the living $#!+ out of McCain, IMHO.

That's exactly what the we need to do--go right at 'em for questioning the Dems' patriotism, and keep pointing out that Obama has repeatedly been right while McCain has been wrong.

Great, great speech.
You Go, Beth Robinson from Virginia

Wow, she was awesome--she had to follow Bill Clinton, and she didn't flinch. Excellent job, Beth Robinson from Virginia!

And such a cutie!

Lots of good stuff today. This convention is looking up.
Big Dog Brings It, Rocks House

HOLY CRAP! I forgot how good that guy is. He's a genius at that stuff. He's an amazing speaker, but he just couldn't do it without his mastery of policy. And I couldn't identify a single wasted word.

Man. If we had two Bill Clintons, this would be a completely different convention. But, heck, one of him might have done it.

Seriously. That guy can like use the force or something.
McCain is a Liar

In case you hadn't noticed.

Yet another dishonest ad from the McCain Campaign, this one called "Tiny."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

3 pm

[Camera pans down on a house, in the middle of the afternoon.]

It’s 3pm, and there's a phone ringing in the White House.

[camera pans to the Oval Office, the President's desk, the phone, still ringing...]

But John McCain is safe and asleep.

[Shot of McCain snoring away in his Sleep Number bed--or maybe in his easy chair--while the world goes on around him. [Perhaps Matlock is on the teevee].]

Something is happening in the world
your vote will decide whether or not someone is awake to answer that call

[Shot of Barack Obama, shirtsleeves rolled up, answering a phone.]

Someone who is knowledgeable, intelligent, and possessed of good judgment.
Someone who was right about Afghanistan, right about the Iraq war, and right about a time-table for withdrawal.

Someone who is awake.

[another shot of McCain sleeping. He snorts a little. There may be some drool. The phone rings, and rings...]

Its 3pm, and John McCain is safe and asleep.

But don't you want someone answering that phone?
Tough, Legitimate Criticism vs. Irrational Viciousness

Look, I've written a lot about the tough position the Dems find themselves in. They've got to say something like:

We need to get beyond the radical partisanship practiced by the Republicans.

They will, of course, be accused of being radical partisans themselves, but anyone who is at all knowledgeable and honest about the last two decades of American politics knows that that's bullshit. The Republicans have been the locus of radical, irrational partisanship for most of my lifetime.

It's o.k. to get tough with the people who are ruining your country, just as it's o.k. to punch the local bully in the nose.

I'm not saying that the Dems should get vicious...but for chrissake, we've got a rogue administration shredding the Constitution, starting unjust wars, letting those who attack us escape unharmed, spitting on our most sacred principles, building an imperial presidency and destroying our moral authority in the world...and the Dems can't find anything negative to say about them???

Jesus, what a disaster.

Come on, Hillary. We're counting on you here...
Is Clinton Gonna Let 'Em Have It?

Um...gettin' a little nervous here folks...

Are the Dems keeping their powder dry in order to let HRC blow Bush 43.1 out of the water?

"Our Common Ground Is Sacred Ground"

I don't have anything much to say about Warner's speech, but that line is absolutely beautiful. Truer words were never spoken.
"A Clown Rules Your Country"

Amen brother Chris, amen.

The Dems are blowing this so bad that the talking heads have to put their digs in for 'em.

Jeez, man. IMHO, this convention is about as big a dud so far as it could possibly be. I mean, I would have never guessed that it could be this bad. Michelle Obama was good, and Casey was good just now...I'll bet Kucinich was good, but they didn't show him.

So far, the best speech I've seen was given by a Republican, Jim Leach--but they didn't show that one either.

If things don't turn around pretty soon, I'm going to get really depressed.

C'mon, Warner...shake things up.
The Round Mound of Rationality

Holy cats, is Charles Barkley making more sense than anybody else on th' teevee or WHAT????

The talking heads could learn a thing or two from Sir Chuck...
Barack Obama, Nihilist?

Did Pat Buchanan just say that Obama "believes in nothing"?


This may be even less plausible than Rove's Michelle Obama doesn't love America "sufficiently enough."
Behold, The Master Race

Gosh, it really is hard to believe that these guys couldn't pull off a political assassination, isn't it? Even with the "mobile meth lab" working for 'em...

Thank God all these white supremacists are witless, inbred incompetents.
Turdblossom: Michelle Obama Did Not Show "Adequate Enough" Love For America
'Democrats Hate America': True by Definition

So, apparently Karl "Turdblossom" Rove went on America's fair and balanced network last night to say that Michelle Obama had not shown "adequate enough" [sic] love for her country. (I think what he probably meant was that she didn't show acceptable levels of adequate sufficient satisfactory enough levels of love levels enough for her country. Enough.)

Now, to those of you who actually watched the speech last night, this might seem surprising. You might think that, if anything, the levels of America-love displayed were a little over the top. Perhaps almost unseemly. In fact, it kinda seemed like Obama--and several other speakers last night--wanted to, ya know, make out with America. Seriously. I'm pretty sure Kennedy was giving us the sex look.

Yeah, baby.

We've still got it.

So how, you might wonder, can even T-Blossom say this with a straight face?

This question betrays the fact that you are treating the question "does Michelle Obama (or any Democrat) love her country?" as an empirical question--that is, roughly, as a question that is to be answered by observation and evidence.

Silly you.

You should realize by now that Mr. Blossom and company do not think that "Michelle Obama loves her country" is an empirical claim at all. They hold that it is something like an analytic or definitional or conceptual truth that:

(L) for any x, if x is a Democrat, then x does not love x's country.

Such claims are not to be investigated by observation any more than, say:

(T) for any x, if x is a triangle, then x has three angles.

If you understand what a triangle is, then you understand that they all have three angles; and if you understand what a Democrat is, you understand that they all hate America. That's just what it is to be a triangle...and that's just what it is to be a Democrat.

See, it's kind of like:

(R) For any x, if x is a Republican, then x is a two-fisted war hero


(D) For any x, if x is a Democrat, then x is a draft-dodging wimp.

On Turdy's view, (R) and (D) are necessary truths. Of course, someone might think that he's found counterexamples to (R) and (D)--but such claims can be safely dismissed, just as any claim that someone has found a four-sided triangle can be safely dismissed. So, sure, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, etc., etc. might seem like clear counterexamples to (R), just as John Kerry, Jim Webb, Wes Clark etc., etc., etc. might seem like clear counterexamples to (D). But, you see, since (D) is a necessary truth, empirical evidence is irrelevant. Just as we can, if we understand what triangles are, be certain that we'll never find one with four angles, we can be sure that, if we understand what Democrats are, we'll never find one that is a war hero. If we ever suspect that we've found a counterexample, we can be sure that it's merely illusory.

And, of course, it's the same with (L) and Democrats who seem to love their country. No matter what they say, no matter what they do, no matter what empirical evidence might be available to us, we can be apodictically certain that they do not love America. Therefore we can be certain--by definition--that Michelle Obama does not love America.

U.S. Out of Hawaii!

So, if you're passionate about ending the U.S. "Occupation" of Hawaii (among other places), looks like the group Recreate 68 is for you! Ditto if you just have a fascination with morons, fruitloops and intellectual lightweights.

Recreate 68 is, apparently, at least one of the forces behind the riots/demonstrations in Denver that are leading not only to lots of pepper-sprayings and arrests, but also to some of the great poetry of Western civilization, e.g.:

"Cops here. Bombs there. U.S. out of everywhere."

(everywhere, no less!)


"Speech is free. Let them be."

(But why not: 2, 4, 6, 8, what sh!t can we instigate? Or Hey, hey, ho, ho, rational discourse's got to go?)

Then there's the
entirely unpoetic and, in fact, rather inexplicable:

"Who screams? We scream."


Now, everybody knows that there are more than a few fascistic cops around, and it's hard to tell what's really going on in Denver. But given the mindlessness of Recreate 68's et. al.'s rhetoric, my guess is that they share at least part of the responsibility for all this.

But look, if we're going to go in the direction they recommend, we've got to wonder why we stop with Hawaii. I mean, why not "U.S. out of Iowa!"? Or "end the occupation of Vermont!"?

And, um, as for Iraq, I'm wondering whether anyone has informed these folks that we basically have a timetable for withdrawal. One would think this'd take a bit of wind out of their sails...but I guess it didn't.

But, seriously, it doesn't take a Ph.D. in political science to see that all these folks are really doing is helping to guarantee that the GOP occupation of the White House continues for at least four more years.
DemCon, Night 1

I muted most of it while reading Peirce's Lectures on Pragmatism--a strategy I can heartily recommend.

Pelosi: Craptacular. Simply godawful. Possibly a Republican mole...(think about it--it would explain a lot...) Truly terrible, as usual. Will somebody please do something about this woman? She is just terrible beyond belief.

Kennedy: Jebus H. Christmas, you Democrats really are clueless, aren't you? We're talking about the fate of the free world here, and you spend like an hour on the Kennedy biopic. Now hear this: fawning over Ted Kennedy is not, I repeat NOT, the way to capture the hearts and minds of middle America. Sure, Kennedy has had a rough time of it, and I can understand the urge to get weepy about him and give him some highly public props... But all sorts of people do all sorts of good work in their lives and go through all sorts of hard times, and don't get big, glitzy congratulatory etc. etc. The thing to do here would have been to throttle back a bit. You don't put Ted Kennedy front-and-center when you are trying to sway the middle. Heck, I'm mostly a liberal, and I have what you'd call extremely mixed feelings about Senator Kennedy.

Though I hear he gave Bush some hell, which is good. But I'd muted it by then and gone back to reading.

Michelle O: Well, I may have an overly-sensitive saccharine-detector, but it was a little much for me. I've got no problem with genuine displays of emotion...and there's no denying that the story of M.O.'s dad was very, very moving. And the story about Barack asking her out, and the ice cream and everything was really great. But it was all so canned that I found myself looking away and wanting to mute it a good bit of the time. It seemed so clearly fine-tuned to combat the wingnut smears that it was a little embarrassing, I thought. I mean: family, faith, family, faith, hard work, see-we're-just-like-you, GOD BLESS AMERICA!. It'd have been really great, I think, if she'd throttled back a bit and been less automatic.

But, see, when you're up against the Republican noise machine, you can't leave much room for spontaneity. And that's one of the ways they get you--they make you self-conscious about anything you say or do that might be twisted back against you.

This speech was just a battle in a rhetorical war, so what I thought is pretty much irrelevant. If it worked to defuse the Republican smears, then it's a success. So keep your fingers crossed.

Monday, August 25, 2008


No, no Rachel, it isn't. It isn't "post-rational," it's irrational. Or, you might say that it's arational, though that wouldn't be exactly right. But one thing it pretty clearly isn't is post-rational. Though, since it isn't at all clear WTF it would mean to say that something was post-rational, I guess there's a little vagueness-based wiggle room.

Look, lots of trouble is caused because people like the sounds of certain words, and so can't resist saying them, even if they don't know what they mean, or (worse) even if the words don't mean what the speaker wants them to mean. Witness 'deconstruction.'

Maddow's pretty damn good, I think, for a talking head, and she just dropped a bomb by revealing that the woman in the I-was-for-Hillary-and-now-I'm-for-McSame ad thought that McCain was pro-choice. But, despite the viral nature of 'post-rational' among the talking heads, it's not an apt term in this context--if, indeed, it ever is.
Nancy Pelosi: One of the Few People Who Could Make Me Into a Republican

Is it just me?

I mean, if you know you're a bad speaker, and you know that the fate of the election may hinge on what happens at the convention, and if you know that the first prime-time speech of the first night will help set the tone for the convention...and if you know that America's future largely depends on what happens at this convention...

...don't you think you'd let somebody else give the speech?

Well, don't you????

Seriously...the best she could come up with was "Barack Obama is right...and John McCain is wrong?" Jebus!

At least it was short. Thank the gods for small favors.

[Oh, and don't forget: "John McCain has experience...OF BEING WRONG!"

Why not: "John McCain has experience...FOR ME TO POOP ON!"?


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Denver: Lefty Morons + Fox News = Boon for McCain

Via Greenwald, we get this at YouTube.

As I may have mentioned before, liberals should never forget that the far-ish left is just as crazy as the far-ish right. They just happen to be small and powerless in the U.S.--lucky for us. But go very far in either direction on the political spectrum, and you hit illiberal blockheads.

Now, these lefties look to be mostly kids playing at being radicals--though, of course, it's hard to tell. Because they want to put on a little piece of street theater and play at being all grown up and political 'n' stuff, they provide Fox News with some potent ammunition for scaring middle America. Lots of profanity, lots of bird-flipping, and at least a little shoving...though the Faux News crew seems to be seeking it out and welcoming it, unsurprisingly.

Nice job, jackasses.

This little clip alone should get a few tens of thousands of votes for McCain, especially after it's posted by the Freepers and sent around in those viral e-mails of which your uncle Buford is so fond.

On a moderately humorous side note, the Fox news guy seems to think that refusing to answer his lame questions is tantamount to denying the right to free speech.

As I've said several times before, if dipshits like these protesters were even semi-serious about whatever it is they are yawping about, they'd get rid of their little designer anarchist t-shirts, their bandana masks, their face paint and giant puppets and conduct themselves in a way that would attract middle America instead of repelling it. Like anti-World Bank protesters, these idiots are more interested in expressing their inner lackwit than they are in accomplishing anything. What they've accomplished--if, indeed, they've accomplished anything at all--is to marginally strengthen the already-rampant right wing in America.

This was, of course, an entirely foreseeable consequence of their actions. But, since they seem to, collectively, have the IQ of a dirt clod, I suppose we shouldn't be surprised that they either didn't foresee the eminently foreseeable or didn't care about it.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Yeah, man!

A quote, via Sullivan:

"I refuse to sit back like we did in 2000 and 2004. This administration is the worst administration in American foreign policy in modern history — maybe ever. ... Every single thing they’ve touched has been a near-disaster."

Amen, brother Biden. I think McSame is about to get a rhetorical knuckle sandwich or two...

Friday, August 22, 2008

McCain Plays the Rezko Card;
Time to Bring Out the Keating Five?

McCain's Rezko ad, via Sully.

This is the kind of problem I was worried about when I said Obama should focus on McCain's nastiness.

Thing is, the GOP, as an organization, is extremely mean-spirited and a little bit insane. And, if you've ever been in a confrontation with someone who's extremely mean-spirited and a little bit insane, you know that they can be expected to raise the stakes at almost every point. Now we've got the Rezko BS on the national table, along with the Ayers business.

I guess my first reaction is: now that McCain has indicated that he'll stop at nothing to win, it's time to bring out the Keating Five.

Even though McCain was cleared of legal wrongdoing, the committee, you'll recall, ruled that McCain had exercised "bad judgment." And, I think, that should be one of Obama's main themes from here on out:

McCain: bad judgment in the Keating Five scandal, bad judgment on the economy, bad judgment on the war. John McCain: bad judgment.

I hate this crap, but I reckon you have to fight fire with fire. And this approach has the virtue of being true, or at least probably so.

Funny how quickly McCain went from Mr. Virtuous to just another Morris-Rovian piece of crap, isn't it? McCain's "housing problem" is a legitimate target--but he responds with more character assassination...on the heels of his challenges to O's patriotism.

Unfortunately, McCain's got way worse skeletons in his closet that the Dems simply can't rattle--e.g. dumping his first wife when she was disfigured, and calling his current wife a...very bad name.

We've learned a lot about McCain in the past month or so, and none of it has been pretty.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Playing the Ayers Card

Andrew Sullivan acts rather surprised that some conservative group has now openly played the Ayers card in an advertisement. First, I can't believe anyone is surprised by this. Second, yes, it's despicable. Third, no, it doesn't seem accurate to call Ayers a "friend" of Obama's...though I have to say, if it were me, I wouldn't even speak to the guy. Fourth: yes, I think this ad will work. In fact, I think there's a decent chance that a few months from now we'll look back on this as the swift boat ad of 2008.
U.S. and Iraq Agree On Withdrawal Timetable
Yet Again: Obama Was Right, McBush was Wrong

Wow. Very excellent news.

Though I this defeatism, or objectively pro-terrorist, or appeasement or putting politics over country or what? I mean, I remember that agreeing on a timetable is bad, and if you advocate it you have bad, horrible, Democratic judgment...but I'm a little hazy on the details...
Striking Back: What Obama Must Not Do

Everyone can now see that McCain has elected to run a nasty campaign, and pretty much everyone agrees that Obama has to strike back.

But what, IMHO, Obama cannot do is get as nasty as McCain. First, Democratic voters are more easily turned off by that sort of thing. But, perhaps more importantly, striking back in nasty ways will allow the McCain camp to say, in essence: see, he's no different. Typically what happens in these cases is that the Republican runs a vicious campaign, the Democrat strikes back with a little nastiness, and then people conclude that they're both the same. Even a fairly small bit of nastiness can do the trick, so it has to be avoided.

That's why I suggested earlier that the retaliation take the form of statements and ads that focus on McCain's viciousness itself instead of going after something else about him. That's one thing that it would be very hard to turn around on Obama.

These Morris-Rove tactics are despicable in part because one of the things they are designed to do is to depress turnout, and they do this, in effect, but undermining people's faith in democracy. They also help to convince people that all politicians are crap and crooks. But, of course, it's the crappy politician who gains by convincing people that all politicians are crap. My first, dim political memories are of Nixon, and I remember my father and grandparents reciting this like a mantra: they all do it, he just got caught. But of course they don't all do it or anything like it. But that's what Nixon and his political heirs would like you to believe, in case you ever start thinking that there might be some honest and admirable politicians out there. Sure, this will undermine our faith in democracy, but that's a small price to pay to win an election, right?

At any rate: don't fall for the trap, Obama folks! Strike back against the slander, not against any other juicy targets of opportunity.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

John McCain is an Ass

I can't believe I used to admire this guy.

McCain today: (very close paraphrase) No rational person can deny that the surge worked.

False, of course. Even the Joint Chiefs estimated that the surge only had a 1 in 4 chance of working. And, of course, we're in no way sure that it did work. McCain argues, post hoc ergo propter hoc, that the surge is responsible for the decrease in violence, but that's an entirely unproven hypothesis. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a respectable hypothesis--but to say that no rational person can deny it is unmitigated bullshit.

And, again: even if this counts as a small strike against Obama's judgment, it's nothing compared to McCain's support of the war. The war was unjustified, clearly unjustified, and of great consequence, ergo McCain's support of it was a major error in judgment. The surge was a long shot, the effects of which are not entirely clear, and so it cannot form the basis of any significant argument against Obama's judgment.

It's too bad that McCain has descended into the depths of Rovianism. I hope this despicable bullshit will fail this time. Though it succeeded in 2000 and 2004, so I'm not as optimistic as I'd like to be.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

GOP BS Of The Day: On Taking Our Eye Off The Ball In Afghanistan, Judgment, And Questioning Obama's Patriotism

So as I'm sure you realize, the GOP is up to its old tricks, and the smears and sophistries are coming hot and heavy. Here're some tidbits from just one short CNN interview with Tom Ridge just now:

1. Obama called out McCain on attacks against his (Obama's) patriotism at a talk at the VFW today. Ridge's response? To paraphrase:

Oo0h, we're not questioning Obama's patriorism, nosiree Bob. Obama's got to learn that questioning his policies is not the same as questioning his patriotism. If he had more experience, he might realize that.

Utter bullshit, of course. It's clear that the new McCain strategy is to question Obama's patriotism, and then make him out to be delusional and thin-skinned when he responds. What unbelievable assh*les.

Of course, McCain is questioning Obama's patriotism, e.g. by asserting that he'd prefer to win an election and lose a war. Such a person would be an unpatriotic person, ergo to (falsely, of course) portray Obama as such a person is ipso facto to question his patriotism. This is not a criticism of Obama's policies, this is a scurrilous personal attack against him.

2. Wolf Blitzer, paraphrase:
But it's true, isn't it, that we took our eye off the ball in Afghanistan and let OBL get away, by moving troops to Iraq?

Ridge, close paraphrase:
Sure, we moved a lot of troops away, but I dare you to tell our brave fighting men in Afghanistan that they took their eyes off the ball!

Purer sophistry you'll never find. What Blitzer said--and what is true--is that we, the United States, took our eye off the ball. In this context, of course, this means that the Bush administration took its eye off the ball. Which, of course, it did. It let OBL get away by transferring troops to its war of choice. Ridge tries to switch the blame to the troops and confuse the criticism by trying to confuse the administration took its eye off the ball with the troops took their eyes off the ball. Unable to meet the criticism honestly--for, of course, the criticism is sound--they opt for obfuscation, and attempt to turn criticisms of them into criticisms of the troops.

This is in the same vein as their most despicable argument of recent times: if the war is unjustified, then our troops have died in vain. Ergo, anyone who suggests that the war was unjustified is saying that the troops died in vain. You're not saying our troops died in vain are ya, commie?)


3. One of their new talking points involves trying to appropriate one of Obama's strengths. As Obama has pointed out in the past, while McCain may have more experience, he (Obama) has better judgment. He clearly saw why we should not go into Iraq, and articulated the points forcefully while McCain vociferously supported this worst strategic blunder in American history. McCain may have been for the surge, but he's for every escalation of force, so this hardly counts. Obama seems fairly clearly to be the one with superior judgment. McCain & co. are trying to steal that point and make it theirs by focusing on the single case of the surge. Obama simply cannot let him get away with that.

The McCain camp has gone nasty--very, very nasty. And I think that Obama has to hit back hard. The best way? My guess is: mix every attack with an attack on McCain's nastiness. E.g.:

My opponent cannot win on the issues, and he knows that. He is losing, and he is desperate. He is afraid to let you know the truth about me and my positions because, when people know the truth, they overwhelmingly support me over him. He's losing on the facts, so he has turned to smears. He wants to substitute a frightening fictional Obama for the genuine article in your mind. To that end, he makes up stories to frighten your vote out of you. He doesn't want you to know the facts, doesn't want you to know the truth, doesn't want you to understand where he really stands, and where I do. He doesn't trust his own positions, doesn't trust democracy, and doesn't trust you. John McCain is in many ways an honorable human being, but he is running a dishonorable campaign based on the basest of lies. I urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to react against this campaign of lies. Demand that John McCain run a truthful campaign. A vote for such a campaign of slanderous falsehoods is a vote for what is worst in American politics. Unlike Senator McCain, I think that we should be emphasizing what is best about our politics rather than what is worst. I hope that you will join me in that endeavor.

Something like that.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"Not Every...Violation Of The Law Is A Crime"


It really is astonishing, isn't it? We're dealing with some very dangerous and dishonest people here.

And they are going to get away with it all.

Monday, August 11, 2008

What If Clinton Had Done It?
Volleyball/Georgia Edition

Statisticasaurus Rex asks the question:

"Can you imagine what the Republicans would have said if Clinton had been cavorting with bikini-wearing young women while Russia invaded Georgia?"

Yes I can. Impeachment proceedings would already be underway.

So, I was just wondering... Is it appeasement to let Russia get away with this aggressive action? I mean, just a few months ago, many conservatives, McCainiacs and Bush dead-enders were operating with a radically expansive definition of 'appeasement' such that even talking to Iran or Korea was--somehow--appeasement. That inconvenient definition has, apparently, recently been dropped, of course. But...what do you call letting Russia get away with beating up on its recalcitrantly independent neighbors? Not that I'm advocating any particular course of action...I'm just asking what you call it. Wonder whether we'll now be asked to accept a radically narrow definition of 'appeasement'...
The Georgian Crisis

I've been resisting writing this, but: is it just me, or is anyone else concerned about the fact that a thoroughly incompetent--not to mention unintelligent and uninformed--president will be piloting our response to the Georgian crisis?

I don't want to use this as an opportunity to make a political point...but, see: IT MATTERS WHO YOU ELECT TO THE PRESIDENCY. Things will not always go right. And if things go badly wrong, you want someone who is at least reasonably intelligent, knowledgeable and competent.

And, um, not to belabor a favorite point of mine, but: so much for Bush's ability to look into people's souls.I mean, really? How hard is it to tell that Putin is evil?

I'd be rather concerned about all of this even if we had a competent president. As it stands, I'm downright worried.
Behold, FOTUS

Here you have it, [fixed!] fellow bewilderees: the Fratboy-in-Chief.

Am I opposed to cavorting with bikini-clad girls? No, I am not. In fact, I'm on record as being all for it. Am I anti-fun? Nuh-uh...nuh-uh...a thousand times nuh-uh. You can ask anybody.

But know what I'm especially for? The POTUS retaining at least a modicum of decorum. Just a wee bit. Just a smidge. Try to not act like a drunken asshat on Spring Break--that's all I'm asking here.

See, if he were minimally honest and competent, a few rather less frat-rattish moments like these would be humanizing and endearing. But when one is a complete piece of crap who has completely botched the most important job in the world in a way that will screw things up throughout the world for years to come...then, see, stuff like this is no longer funny. Then it's just nauseating and angrifying.

And, see, hitting around a volleyball is one thing. This kind of crap while Georgia burns...well, words really do fail me.

President Flounder, everybody...the FOTUS. Our representative to the world.

[Update: 'nuther FOTUS shot.]
NRO: Russia Invades Georgia Because of...Obama

Caught by Andrew Sullivan.

These people really are just about insane, aren't they? As Sullivan notes, if Obama does win, he will, of course, be blamed for every unhappy event that takes place while he is in office...and, as we can see, for at least some that occur before he is even elected. Personally, I'm waiting to see how the invasion of Iraq is Obama's fault.

It's funny how McCarthy et. al., however, hold Bush responsible for nothing whatsoever, no matter how direct his responsibility.

Everybody is susceptible to employing double standards from time to time, but American conservatives have some kind of double standard warp drive or something. It's a kind of inconsistency that would constitute insanity if they really weren't capable of doing any better. In fact, they're just rabidly partisan and exceedingly intellectually dishonest. They could do better than this, they just don't care to. So it's not a genuine incapacity, it's willful irrationality.

So they're not really crazy. They're just @$$h*!es.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Reading: Jane Mayer, The Dark Side

You think you're p!ssed off and alarmed now? Go read The Dark Side. It is, I'd say, fairly close to being a part of your patriotic duty. If you somehow aren't already convinced that the Bush administration is very, very dangerous, you're in for a rude awakening. I hate to sound like One Of Those People, but this administration is very, very dangerous, and, seemingly, diametrically opposed to a fair number of essential American principles. Not a surprise, you might say...but the depth and detail of Mayer's account will be enlightening and alarming to even the most avid news junkie. This is, I'd say, the best book on the Bush administration I have read.

Seriously, read it...and sooner than later.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Demonizing Obama, Part 2

Here's the actual ad at Crooked Timber. After actually seeing it, I have to say, I am now believe that the McCain camp is intentionally pushing the psychotic Obama-as-Antichrist smear.

The most damning evidence comes at the end, when it says something like "He may be The One, but is he ready to lead?" (The ad itself, incidentally, is titled "The One.") But, of course, that doesn't really make any sense on the face of it. First, it's more than a little peculiar to refer to someone as "the one," even to suggest that he might not be said one. But, more importantly, if x is the one, then presumably x is, in fact, ready to lead (as a commenter at CT also points out). To say that someone is the one in the context of an election is to say something like he's the one for the job, i.e., he's the one that ought to be elected.

But, as it turns out, "The One" is fundy code for "the Antichrist." So the peculiar sentence--"he may be The One, but is he ready to lead?"--is actually a (to use the lingo) fundy "dog whistle"--a phrase that is carefully chosen to resonate with fundamentalists, but go undetected by regular folks. The translation is: "Obama may be the Antichrist, but is he ready to lead?" That sentence is far from unproblematic, but that's unimportant in this context. The point of a sentence like that is not to make a rational argument, but to fan the flames of religious lunacy.

One shouldn't make judgments like this lightly, and I certainly remain open to correction on this point...but on the fact of it--or, rather, just below the face--this seems to be the most nefarious ad in American political history.
Demonizing Obama, More-Or-Less Literally
How To Out-Do "Clinton Is A Murderer"

O.k., so how do the wingnuts follow up their anti-Bill-Clinton campaign? I mean, before Clinton was even elected, they were asserting--and, worse, actually believing--that he was a drug-runner, a rapist, and even a murderer.

I mean, what's left after you've gone there?

Well, as it turns out, there is someplace left. Apparently the new line: Obama is (literally) the anti-Christ.

And, it seems, a new McCain ad may employ images associated with the "Left Behind" series of novels to advance this claim...though ones initial guess about this has to be that there's some kind of misunderstanding. Unscrupulous as the McCain campaign seems to have become, I simply don't believe this bit.

One could say all sorts of things about this, but who's got the time? I mean, are sane conservatives ever going to stand up to their insane faction?

And are conservatives ever going to try to get even a little bit of perspective on the world? Recognizing, for example, that al Qaeda is not more dangerous than the Soviet Union, Ronald Reagan was not Thomas Jefferson, Bill Clinton was not an evil radical leftist, George Bush is not "Churchillian"...and Obama--disagree with him though one might--is not a supernatural monster sent to destroy the world??????

Conservatives seem baffled by the fact that liberals think they're stupid...but, really, in the face of stuff like this, can you blame us? This kind of lunacy is really just off the charts.