Thursday, July 31, 2008

Flat out lie:

Rick Davis on Obama (during interview with Andrea Mitchell):
DAVIS: "He’s on the front cover of every tabloid."
And this exchange: (emp add)
MITCHELL: But, let me ask you about this quote. You said, only celebrities like Barack Obama-there’s that “C” word again-go to the gym three times a day, demand Met-Rx chocolate roasted-peanut protein bars and bottles of hard to find organic brew-Black Forest Berry Honest Tea and worry about the price of arugula.
So, is that your campaign ... That he is sort of out of the mainstream, elite ...

DAVIS: ... these are all things that Barack Obama has as part of his daily routine. And so, look, there’s nothing more personal than a presidential campaign. [W]e’re not the ones who report things. Those come out of news reports by folks like you, you know, who make a regular habit of talking about the every detail of our candidate’s livesboth John McCain’s and Barack Obama’s.
Okay then. Let's talk about McCain having an adulterous affair before divorcing his injured wife.


Wat an ugly couple of weeks:

Let's see, what has McCain (or his campaign) asserted recently:
  1. That Obama would lose a war in order to get elected president.
  2. That Obama gave wounded troops the cold shoulder.
  3. That during his tour of Iraq Obama was goofing around playing basketball instead of meeting with the troops.
  4. That Obama is a vapid celebrity like Paris Hilton.
  5. That Obama is an elitist who eats "chocolate roasted-peanut protein bars" and drinks fancy-schmancy iced tea.
  6. That Obama is playing the race card, just like Johnnie Cochran.
That's pretty intense. In any event, item 1 on the list should have been a campaign killer (and it was said by McCain himself four times). To have the candidate of one major party accuse the other candidate of choosing to lose a war in order to get elected is basically a charge of treason.


Message from McCain campaign:
The NYT ... said that when McCain campaign manager Rick Davis said “Barack Obama has played the race card, and he played it from the bottom of the deck,” he "conjur(ed) up another loaded racial image. The phrase dealing the race card 'from the bottom of the deck' entered the national lexicon during the O.J. Simpson saga. Robert Shapiro, one of Mr. Simpson’s lawyers, famously declared of himself, Johnny Cochran and the rest of the Simpson defense team, 'Not only did we play the race card, we dealt it from the bottom of the deck.'"
Cochran defended O.J. Simpson, a black man who murdered a white woman!




From the WSJ:
The Bush Administration has ignited a furor with a proposed definition of pregnancy that has the effect of classifying some of the most widely used methods of contraception as abortion.

A draft regulation, still being revised and debated, treats most birth-control pills and intrauterine devices as abortion because they can work by preventing fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus. ...

If the draft regulation were to prompt some insurance companies to drop coverage for prescription birth control, "that would be fantastic," said Tom McClusky, a strategist with the conservative Family Research Council. ...

With its expansive definitions, the draft bolsters a key goal of the religious right: to give single-cell fertilized eggs full rights by defining them as legal people -- or, as some activists put it, "the tiniest boys and girls."
Also this:
Dozens of Congressional Democrats -- including presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama -- have signed letters of protest blistering the proposal. His Republican rival, Sen. John McCain, declined to comment.
A key mission for the press is to get McCain to comment on this.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

On the airwaves:

In a longish post about McCain's untruthful attacks on Obama, The Moderate Voice's head honcho, Joe Gandelman, writes:
Since July 1 I have been on a drive through 3 states, sometime driving 650 miles in a single day. I have listened to a lot of talk radio and many of the conservative radio shows are wall-to-wall medleys of anti-Obama riffs that mirror McCain or GOP strategy. ...

Nowhere can you note the glaring failure of progressive talk radio more than on a drive like this. With the exception of picking up a few hours of progressive talker Ed Schultz, all talk shows on the stations are conservative ones, all basically putting out the same message.
That's a big disadvantage for Obama and Democrats. It's the result of deregulation, changes in broadcast standards (nixing equal time and fairness), and media consolidation - at least as far as AM radio is concerned. Those trends started under Reagan when Mark Fowler was in charge of the FCC ("The television is just another appliance - it's a toaster with pictures.").

BTW, The Moderate Voice is a mixed bag of commentary, not always favorable to Obama or liberals, and is a good measure of how independents (and ostensibly neutral observers) react to political news.


Anonymous Liberal on McCain, shoes, and Obama as the "elitist":

A good scenario posited.

Ends with:
As I never tire of pointing out, there is a pronounced maturity gap between the way Republicans and Democrats run campaigns. It's like watching a team of 5th graders debate a team of college students, endlessly, year after year.


Apparently the Pope and Nelson Mandela were excluded from consideration:

From TPM: (emp add)
On a conference call with reporters just now, McCain campaign manager dug in and defended the new McCain ad deriding Obama as "the biggest celebrity in the world" and comparing him to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

"What we decided to do was find the top three international celebrities in the world," Davis said. "And from our estimations, Britney and Paris came in second and third. From our perspective, we have in this ad the three biggest celebrities in the world."
Even the National Review notes that the Pope is a bigger draw:
Kathryn Jean Lopez

I read that Obama had 200,000 people at his rally today. The pope has him beat — my friends at The National Catholic Register tell me "nearly 300,000" went to see B16 last weekend in Australia.


Country First?

That's in the picture that accompanies the New York Times story, McCain Goes Negative, Worrying Some in G.O.P.
What's the implication here? That Obama has divided loyalties (or worse)? That McCain is unique in that he'd put U.S. interests ahead of those of other countries? What?

OF INTEREST: The story included this observation:
Dan Schnur, who worked on Mr. McCain’s 2000 campaign and is the director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California, said the McCain campaign seemed to be drawing on lessons from watching the Democratic primary fight between Mr. Obama and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“It wasn’t until the last weeks of the primary that Clinton and her campaign really took the gloves off on Obama, and as it happens it was too little, too late,” he said. “Obama is at his best when he talks from the mountaintop, and Clinton showed that the best hope for an opponent is to pull him back down to earth.
That calls into question whether or not it's helpful in a primary campaign for candidates to go all out trying to find a weaknesses in each other's armor.


That National Journal ranking of Obama as "most liberal":

Was junk, as Josh Patashnik of The New Republic explains. Unfortunately, it's taken hold and has even been mentioned by liberal pundits, from time to time.

They say Obama is more liberal than Bernie Sanders, which allows McCain to wonder if Obama might be a socialist. The National Journal has no integrity in this matter. But just as in 2004 when it said Kerry was the most liberal senator, they generate "facts" via flawed methodology that help Republicans.

But hey, they're respected in the beltway (PBS' Washington Week with Gwen Ifill and National Journal).


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Matt Bors on Iraq TimeLineTableHorizons:

Pretty good.


Q & A:

Adam Nagourney asks:
Why is Obama not improving in the polls?
Because he's black*.
* - at least in political terms.

It's not the reason for everyone, but for a pretty big segment out there, it's a factor. It's human nature.



Guess the source of this wisdom:
[Cats] can get annoyed if you stroke him/her too much. Cats can attack dogs, and cats are faster than dogs. Cats are the best hunters, no wonder, they have the best sense of smell, sight and hearing ever, and are really silent. They can run very fast, and if there was a dog after them, cats can do things dogs can't. A cat can climb trees, whereas dogs don't have claws that sharp. Cats know how to escape dogs, and sometimes even scare them off. To escape, they just walk on the fences, climb the trees until they are at their catflap. The dog is probably in the way, so the cat launches himself/herself off the fence, jumps onto the dog, and into the catflap. Mine does anyway. To scare them off, cats have very sharp 'fangs', and their claws beat all!
Source: [ ]

Insipred by this post.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Shorter Richard Cohen:
I'm the house liberal at the Washington Post who is on board with the Republican agenda (higher taxes for the middle class and fewer benefits), and I'm so in love with McCain that I consider his policy reversals an example of skillful pandering, yet look askance when Obama shifts positions.
UPDATE: TNR slams Cohen. (Weird. The URL ends with "/richard-cohen-s-reign-of-terror.aspx", but that's nowhere in the text or title.)



The U.S. budget deficit will widen to a record of about $490 billion next year, an administration official said, leaving a deep budget hole that will constrain the next president’s tax and spending plans.
That's the Unified Budged deficit, which includes surpluses from Social Security (of about $150 billion/year). The real budget for what the government is doing is the General Fund, and that deficit is somewhere between $600 billion and $700 billion.



The reason McCain is attacking Obama with "He's against the troops" charges like:
  • Not visiting troops in Landstuhl Regional Medical Center
  • Playing basketball "instead of" hanging out with the troops
  • Voting against select funding for military programs
And doing it in a dishonest way, and in harsh terms, is this:
Because of McCain's time as a POW, he cannot be attacked in a similar manner. McCain is unassailable in this particular area.
Even if there is evidence that McCain has an inconsistent record on veterans benefits, the Iraq War in general, or his less-than-stellar career in the Navy, the Obama campaign cannot attack like McCain has. The Obama campaign can only react to McCain's charges. Playing political defense is never the preferred option, but that's all Obama can do in this case.

McCain is safely ensconced in a machine gun nest labeled "POW" and from that vantage can fire all manner of scurrilous charges at Obama. He has already done that, and will continue to do so.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

We're leading:

From Bush's radio address:
America is leading the cause of human rights. Over the past seven years, we've spoken out against human rights abuses by tyrannical regimes like those in Iran and Syria, Cuba, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. We've spoken candidly about human rights with nations with whom America has good relations, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia and China.
Other than authorizing and practicing torture, we're "leading the cause of human rights".


Saturday, July 26, 2008

When Obama was a kid:

Via Digby, there is an email circulating (and visible at Sadly No!) that lists various people that have been killed as a result of Obama. It's basically insane (and clearly invented). But one entry deserves examination:
DARSANO RAHARDJO - Childhood classmate of Barack Obama when he attended a madrassa in Indonesia. Was found with his head cut off in a Jakarta alley way in 1970. Many children at the school attributed Rahardjo’s murder to the young Barack Obama. It was likely done as an initiation ritual, since Islam demands that a boy spill another’s blood before the age of ten to prove their loyalty to Allah.
Obama was born in August 1961, which would make him either eight or nine years old in 1970. Such a child wouldn't have the strength to cut someone's head off. It's impossible.


McCain did it four times this week:

22 JULY CBS Interview:
Senator Obama has indicated by his failure to acknowledge the success of the surge, that he would rather lose a war than lose a campaign.
22 JULY Rochester, New Hampshire:
I had the courage and the judgment to say I would rather lose a political campaign than lose a war. It seems to me that Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign.
24 JULY Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania:
“I would rather lose a campaign than lose a war,” he said, later adding “Apparently Sen. Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a campaign."
24 JULY Columbus, Ohio:
... I believe that by his failure to acknowledge the success of the surge — much less his opposition to it — shows that he would rather lose a war than a political campaign.

... I will repeat my statement again, that he would rather lose a war than lose a campaign. Because anyone who fails to acknowledge that the surge has worked, who has consistently opposed it, consistently never sat down and had a briefing with General Petraeus, our commander there, would rather lose a war than a political campaign.


Oh, is that what it means?

From a news article, Body Language: What McCain and Obama Reveal:
Body movement analysts say that McCain represents stability in how he stands firmly and holds onto the sides of a podium.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Where did ABC go for a "typical" reaction to Obama's tour?

On World News Tonight, following a segment on Obama's speech in Berlin, there was a story about how the trip was playing back in the U.S.A.

Where did the reporter go? To Mansfield, Ohio.

Mansfield is represented by Jim Jordan (R) of Ohio's 4th district. In an open election, Jordan was first elected in 2006, defeating Democrat Rick Siferd 60% to 40% in a rough year for Republicans. In prior elections, a Republican incumbent would get close to 70% of the vote.


Right wing message: Obama is scary and makes you afraid.

A couple of days ago, the conservative pair, Floyd and Mary Beth Brown, wrote: (emp add)
Poll Shows Americans Afraid of Obama as Commander-in-Chief

On the night of January 20, 2009, a new commander-in-chief will leave the inaugural podium, parade, and festivities for the Oval Office. A national security staff ready with the latest “threat briefing” will join him there. On his desk, they will place a thick binder of reports, each focusing on real or emerging threats to our national security. In the quiet of the Oval Office -- in the presence of these stern-faced, deadly serious briefers and advisers -- Barack H. Obama, should he be the next president, will come face-to-face with reality.

Americans are afraid of this scenario, Barack H. Obama as commander-in-chief. The New York Times and CBS News released a poll this week; in it, Americans answered detailed questions about this possibility.

The poll’s answers shocked the strategists at the Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago. An intensive international travel schedule for Obama and a refocus of the campaign’s message on defense and foreign policy speaks to this fear.

The poll says Americans consider him lacking in the abilities necessary to run the armed services. Conversely, the polls show John McCain blows Obama out of the water as a good commander-in-chief. Forty-six percent of respondents thought McCain would very likely “be effective” as commander-in-chief, as opposed to only 24 percent saying the same of Obama. In fact, 36 percent think it is “not likely” Obama will be effective in the position.

The poll made no mention of being "afraid". The poll did not show Americans Afraid of Obama as Commander- in-Chief.

And to compliment that nonsense, Fox News Channel conducted a poll which contained this question: (emp add)
Have you heard any of your friends and neighbors say there is something about Barack Obama that scares them?
Yes 49%
No 50%

Have you heard any of your friends and neighbors say there is something about John McCain that scares them?
Yes 36%
No 62%

Some people believe Barack Obama, despite his professed Christianity, is secretly a Muslim. Others say that is just a rumor and Obama really is a Christian as he says, and point out he's attended a Christian church for years. What do you believe -- is Obama a Muslim or a Christian?
Muslim 10%
Christian 57%
Nice touch, using "some people believe" and "others say" to allow any garbage rumor to get into the public consciousness.



Over at TPM we read:
The Justice Department in 2002 told the CIA that its interrogators would be safe from prosecution for violations of anti-torture laws if they believed "in good faith" that harsh techniques used to break the will of prisoners, including waterboarding, would not cause "prolonged mental harm."
If rough treatment of prisoners does not cause "prolonged mental harm", that doesn't mean it's not torture.

But the Justice Department wanted to redefine torture so that virtually anything goes. And it did.

"no prolonged mental harm" is an irrelevant criteria.

Also this:
The newly released but heavily censored memo approved the CIA's harsh interrogation techniques method by method, but warned that if the circumstances changed, interrogators could be running afoul of anti-torture laws.
So much for the "bad apples" excuse. Torture techniques were vetted and approved at the highest levels.


Heeere's Johnny!

Does that new McCain poster remind you of anything?



Wednesday, July 23, 2008

McCain repeats his earlier charge:

This time in Wilkes-Barre, PA.

Speaking at a town hall meeting Wednesday morning in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., the Arizona senator talked up his candidacy and highlighted the differences between himself and Barack Obama. ...

He ... criticized Obama for saying the troop surge in Iraq wasn't working – saying Obama would rather lose the war in order to win a campaign.
McCain's statement was broadcast in the news summary portion of PBS' News Hour (realaudio) but not reported by the networks. Or much anywhere else, apparently.

So, despite Joe Klein saying that McCain's remarks were "scurrilous", the candidate will continue to charge Obama with treason.

Karl Rove is clearly in charge.


"security theater"

Is a (welcome) entry in Wikipedia.

The first Wikipedia page for security theater was created on December 5, 2004 - so it's not new. But the term deserves wider use, like that in a run-of-the-mill sports story at Salon (about the Yankees preventing fans from bringing in sun block to protect against a terrorist attack).


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Remember this quote:

John McCain:
"It seems to me that Senator Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign."
UPDATE: Observations over at The Moderate Voice, and Joe Klein.



Looks like McCain's goading Obama into visiting Iraq was a big mistake.


Something to keep track of:

From the Washington Times (yes):
Grassley won't be GOP delegate

Evangelical Christians in Iowa, dominant in the state's Republican Party, have denied Sen. Charles E. Grassley his request for a place on the state's delegation to this summer's Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.

Mr. Grassley may attend the party's Sept. 1-4 nominating convention in St. Paul, but not as a voting delegate. ...

"The Republican Party of Iowa is moving significantly to the right on social issues," the just-ousted Iowa Republican National Committee member Steve Roberts told The Washington Times. ...

Other party officials said money for the party is drying up because of past mismanagement and current religious dominance, which has turned traditional Republican politics upside down.

"It's pretty well controlled now by the Christian Alliance," Mr. Roberts said. "If somebody came to me and wanted to be a delegate to the national party convention, I used to say, 'Talk to the state party chairman or to Grassley.' Now it's very simple. You go to the Christian Alliance, and they determine who is a delegate, and you have to do exactly as they say."

In recent weeks, religious activists replaced Mr. Roberts as the national Republican committeeman and also replaced the national committeewoman with pro-life advocates who also oppose gay marriage. ...

Political observers in Iowa saw the move against Mr. Grassley as retribution for his having tangled with evangelical pastors in his state. He initiated a Senate Finance Committee investigation of six televangelists for conspicuous personal spending.
It this spreads, it'll be the death of the Republican party (at least for several years - maybe a decade).

The Christian Alliance is not the same thing as the Christian Alliance for Progress ( The latter is anti-war and pro-gay rights.

The group mentioned in the story is the Iowa Christian Alliance ( Lots of great stuff, including this from the page on economic issues: (emp add)
Dick Armey And IDT Tell Iowans That Discounts On Your Taxes, And Optional, Personal Social Security Accounts Make You Better Off, And Winning The War Against Terrorists A Certainty

Former US House Majority Leader, Dick Armey, came to Des Moines on September 19th as guest speaker for Iowans for Discounted Taxes ...

Armey’s main message was that Americans have a higher standard of living than anyone else because we have more freedom to produce and be successful. So Americans are willing to pay the price to send armies anywhere to defend our freedom.

Unfortunately, it’s just the opposite in many countries, like France, where the standard of living is so much lower that they do not have the will to defend themselves because the costs look like another tax that will further reduce their standard of living. ...

... younger Americans, like members of every other great nation, historically, will be worn out by taxes until they won’t care who governs them. Then we will have no armies to defend us, not unlike the Europeans. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We have the time to make the changes. Iowans simply have to demand them from everyone running for office, especially presidential candidates. ...

The terrorists know this and are counting on our government and all the politicians to wear us out.
That story, at the top of the webpage is dated. It's from 2005 and by someone from IDT (Iowans for Discounted Taxes). But still, it shows the kind of thinking going on over there.


Monday, July 21, 2008

John Derbyshire on Maliki:
We should tell Maliki, loudly and in public, that he owes his job to us, and that further prosecution of our military operations in his country will be conducted with regard only to U.S. interests, as determined in consensus by our established domestic political processes. And if he doesn't like that, he can go to hell.
That'll stop Malili from foolishness like agreeing with Obama!



Via Pandagon via Atrios is a post at Atlas Shrugs that goes into incredible detail about Obama's birth certificate. Overlays, heat maps, kerning - no pixel was ignored in the analysis. If you can summarize it in a sentence or two, please post a comment here.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Answer to Kevin Drum's question:

In remarks following Maliki's Spiegel interview where he said he's in general agreement with Obama's 16-month withdrawal plan, Kevin Drum writes:
So does the press decide that this means Obama has shown good judgment and good instincts in foreign affairs?

Here' how the story was played on ABC's World News Tonight this Sunday: [McCain-friendly elements in bold]
Barack Obama will be making his way to Iraq, for talks with commanders of the war he spoke against and the surge he said wouldn't work. ABC's Terry McCarthy is in Baghdad tomight.
David, the next big issue for Senator Obama after Afghanistan is Iraq, which he's also scheduled to visit on this trip. At the top of his agenda, how soon can U.S. withdraw troops from Iraq.

On the campaign trail back in the U.S. Obama has been saying he want's to draw down most troops in sixteen months. Briefly this weekend Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki appeared to agree with Obama's time frame in an interview he gave to a German magazine. But yesterday his office said he had been misquoted. He said he did not want to get involved in U.S. politics.

The U.S. military opposes a fixed timetable. Today Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs said:
"The consequences could be very dangerous if troops left too quickly."
Interestingly, many Iraqis agree.
I prefer the Americans leave gradually [said this man]. It should depend on the situation.
A timetable for withdrawal, fine with Iraqis, as long as it's flexible.
I think it's a good idea but it should be a timetable agreed by the Iraqis, taking into consideration what's going on on the ground.
Obama's trip to Iraq is intended to give him exactly that, an idea of what's going on on the ground. David.
Terry McCarthy in Baghdad tonight. Terry, thank you.
[confirming mp3 here]

ABC served up several pro-McCain and skeptical-Obama narratives:
  • Obama going over to discuss "the surge he said wouldn't work".
  • Maliki briefly appeared to agree with Obama, but that was an apparent illusion since later his office said Maliki had been mistranslated.
  • No mention that the "mistranslation" claim came from CentCom [And Mark Kleiman has thoughts about that.]
  • No mention that Speigel stands by its story.
  • Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, quote in opposition to Obama's basic stance ("consequences could be very dangerous").
  • No poll of Iraqis, but instead, a random guy on the street used as a prop to support the claim that "many Iraqis" want the U.S. to leave gradually. [Of course in a country of 20 million you can find "many Iraqis" supporting any policy you can think of.]
  • The "flexible", "ground situation" criteria, which is a McCain talking point, echoed by the reporter and one Iraqi politician.
Quite a package.


Your response sir?

Obama penned an Op-Ed about Iraq policy that contained:
We can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months.
In a follow up news story, we learn that Michael O'Hanlon was "livid":
Michael E. O'Hanlon, a Democratic defense analyst at the Brookings Institution who has been an outspoken supporter of the war in Iraq, said he could not believe that Obama would put such a definitive timeline into print before a trip to Iraq, where he is to consult with Iraqi leaders and U.S. commanders.

"To say you're going to get out on a certain schedule -- regardless of what the Iraqis do, regardless of what our enemies do, regardless of what is happening on the ground -- is the height of absurdity," said O'Hanlon, who described himself as "livid." "I'm not going to go to the next level of invective and say he shouldn't be president. I'll leave that to someone else."
But now Maliki says he's in favor of Obama's plan:
"U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes."
So what does O'Hanlon say now?


Friday, July 18, 2008

Will wonders never cease?

DOW up 500 points in the last two days. That's 4.7%. Surely, this proves that all worries about the economy are overblown and that Bush, Paulson, and Bernanke - with their various statements this week - have saved the day.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Revisiting the New Yorker cover:

First, Tom Toles's cartoon:
Second, Dick Polman's essay on the topic, The New Yorker's misfire


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Really, what can you say about this?

Karl Rove denies political ties taint Fox News role
Former White House aide Karl Rove denied on Monday that his close ties with Republican politics and John McCain's presidential campaign undermine his credibility as an election analyst for the Fox News Channel.

Appearing at a gathering of television critics in Beverly Hills, Rove and network executive John Moody brushed aside suggestions that Rove's continued involvement in the presidential race, informal or not, might pose a conflict in his capacity as a Fox News contributor. ...

Asked whether Rove was on "the honor system" regarding his contacts with top McCain campaign operatives such as Steve Schmidt, Moody replied: "He's always on the honor system. All of our employees are."

"We get most of our information about the McCain campaign from our correspondents," Moody added. "I don't think Karl would cross an ethical line like that."

Rove also dismissed the notion that his refusal to answer congressional subpoenas to testify in a probe of the Bush administration's firing of federal prosecutors amounted to too much political baggage for a network news analyst to carry.
Anybody who thinks Rove is giving dispassionate evaluations of the races is kidding themselves. But then, viewers of Fox News Channel know that they don't want reality, but a "news" outfit that gives them what they'd like to believe. And it probably makes them feel better until the election returns roll in.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

That New Yorker cover of Barack and Michelle Obama:


That's the kind of thing the folks at the New Yorker would do, since they're (on average) economically insulated from hard times and live in places where they don't chafe under restrictive social laws (e.g. abortion). So who cares about amplifying the most outrageous charges made by the far right? Better to be hip than care a whit about the impact on Obama's political fortunes.

The Obama campaign quickly condemned the rendering. Spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement: “The New Yorker may think, as one of their staff explained to us, that their cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature Senator Obama's right-wing critics have tried to create. But most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree."

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds quickly e-mailed: “We completely agree with the Obama campaign, it’s tasteless and offensive.” ...

Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post said Sunday on his CNN media show “Reliable Sources” that the cover is arguably “incendiary.” “I talked to the editor of The New Yorker, David Remnick, who tells me this is a satire, that they are making fun of all the rumors,” Kurtz added.
There are rumors of Joe Lieberman being an agent for Israel. When can we look forward to a cover that makes fun of that?   Is the McCain Manchurian Candidate cover set for next week?

Letter to Sullivan:
Here's what's going to happen. Fox News is going to have a whole day where they talk about nothing but this and repeatedly show the image just like they did with Wright. Then Limbaugh will be saying "Well look, these liberals can make drawing like this and we call it harmless satire, so why did they give me so much grief when I played the song Obama the Magic Negro on my show. It's liberal hypocrisy I tell you!".
Michelle Obama is depicted as an Afro-coiffed blaxiploitation heroine with a rifle, Obama is depicted as a Muslim, an American flag is burning in the Oval Office fireplace and above the fireplace? A portrait of Osama bin Laden.

They should seriously consider pulping the cover, because they are likely to lose a lot of their left-wing readership.

Also, can we expect “ironic” covers with McCain being tortured? Or maybe Bush drinking up a storm? Or perhaps an ironic and anti-Semitic cover of Joe Lieberman? Or would someone on staff have put a stop to that?
Also this:
... no Upper East Side liberal -- no matter how superior they feel their intellect is -- should assume that just because they're mocking such ridiculousness, the illustration won't feed into the same beast in emails and other media. It's a recruitment poster for the right-wing.

"This is as offensive a caricature as any magazine could publish," says a high-profile Obama supporter, "and I suspect that other Obama supporters like me are also thinking about not subscribing to or buying a magazine that trafficks in such trash."

[With this right-wing comment. emp add]

Whatever their original intentions, whatever their motivation, whether ironical or not, this caricature hits the proverbial nail on its proverbial head. No single illustration could more perfectly convey the legitimate -- I repeat, legitimate -- fears and concerns that so many of us have about the prospects of an Obama Presidency. An Islamophile and a racist. What a great prospect for America's future.
UPDATE: Next week's cover has just been leaked. Here it is:
As the New Yorker helpfully explained:
The cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature that believers in Jewish international banking conspiracies have tried to create.
UPDATE 2: From The American Conservative magazine:
Almost everyone except for the people who work at The New Yorker seems to have grasped that, whether intended as satire or not, the effect of the cover image is disastrous for the Obama campaign. The timing might have been worse, but not by much, since Obama is getting ready to go on his trip out of the country. The image is the most complete expression of the inexplicable desire of Obama supporters to “help” the candidate by portraying him in what are actually the most unflattering and politically damaging ways possible while simultaneously believing that they are pre-emptively defending and praising the things they are describing. This cover image is slightly different, in that it is trying to undermine the worst attacks by revealing them to be nonsensical caricatures, but nonetheless the artist seems incapable of imagining that there are many voters, particularly those who don’t know that much about Obama, who will see this image flashed on their television screens or attached to chain e-mails and think, “I knew there was something about that Obama I didn’t like, and now I see what it is!” ...

In an era of instant, mass communication, the image will be, indeed already has been, circulated widely and will gradually lose whatever “ironic” edge it once had. That the image derived from a New Yorker cover and was intended for an audience of high-information, predominantly left-leaning voters who already support Obama will be irrelevant or will add to the “credibility” of what the image conveys. Then the word will go forth in forwarded emails everywhere: “Even The New Yorker thinks Obama is a secret Muslim, etc…”
UPDATE 3: David Remnick, the clueless editor of the New Yorker sez: (emp add)
... people always read things the way they're going to read them. In this case ... some people have misinterpreted it very quickly ...

This cover ... uses the language of political satire and cartooning, not of reporting and essays, and sometimes not everyone likes that or gets what's intended.
UPDATE 4: Some defenders of the cartoon say that it won't change anybody's preference. That is probably correct (at least for the short term, and for a limited number of people), but what it has a good shot at doing fairly well is inhibit people from switching their preference to Obama. That's where it's most potent. Keeping those wavering and still-uncertain-about-Obama, from gravitating towards him.

UPDATE 5: The reason for this post isn't the cartoon per se. It could run on the Weekly Standard and not be as bothersome. The amazing thing here is that the New Yorker is, presumably, on Obama's side. Yet their blinkered outlook allows them to produce something that's definitely going to hurt him politically.

UPDATE 6: If the cartoon wanted to have a chance at being seen as satire, it could have portrayed Michelle and Barack as uncomfortable or out-of-place in their garb. But it doesn't. The facial expressions and body language are those of people that support Black Panther style politics or anti-American Jihadism - to the extent that such things are discernable.

UPDATE 7: Big review and commentary at The Moderate Voice.

UPDATE THE LAST: Atrios: (emp add)
... whatever the merits of the New Yorker it's more "elite chattering classes of New York" than "good liberal." Not quite the same thing, even if there's some overlap. ...

The New Yorker cover could have worked if had made more clear who it was satirizing (Fox news, the Republican party, Rush Limbaugh, whatever), or by being clever enough to provide the actual funny. As it is it's just a reflection of the Right's view of Obama, but there's nothing clever or funny about it.


To hell with global warming concerns, just burn stuff:

Bush on Friday:
... one way to deal with supply problems is to increase supply here in America. And one of the things we just went through was a briefing from Secretary Bodman and Secretary Kempthorne about the vast potential of crude oil reserves on offshore lands, as well as in Alaska, as well as in the oil shale in the western part of our country. And yet the Democratic leaders of Congress have consistently blocked opening up these lands for exploration.
Those were part of Bush's brief remarks on the current state of the economy - which is hurting because of high oil prices. he made no mention of alternate energy sources. There was some talk about how extracting oil is less polluting than in years past, but the essence of Bush's remarks are that he's promoting burning of hydrocarbons - and dismissing any other course of action over the long haul..

It's hard to know what's going on in Bush's mind (and maybe Cheney's is the more relevant), but reading between the lines, it appears that Bush has totally accepted the claims of the global warming skeptics. Bush is a Limbaugh dittohead in that regard. In a way, it makes sense. If you don't believe global warming is real then you don't have to (a) worry about it, or (b) work hard to deal with it. Bush doesn't like to be bothered with problems, and he hates work, so his (personal) denying global warming makes sense, even if he has to say otherwise on occasion.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Is John McCain up to the job?

There's been some talk about McCain being bad on the stump, technologically illiterate, mistaken on basic facts (Iraq, economy), and frequently nonplussed when asked about his positions.

Some have explained this as being the result of McCain having an easy time winning elections in Arizona, and he's therefore rusty on the campaign trail. Some are saying it's because he's old and unprepared for a 21st Century campaign (as are others, e.g. Bill Clinton). Some are saying that's he's more interested in military issues and never studied hard on other policy areas.


Or maybe it's simply that John McCain isn't up to the job of president. That he doesn't have the sharpness of mind or knowledge of facts to tackle critical policy areas. These days, mere professions of good intentions are not enough. Some basic competence is needed, and McCain isn't convincing on that score.

There is a good chance that an emerging theme this year will be McCain's dependence on advisors and his inability to hold his own in a substantial discussion on the issues.


It's not just you. Finance boys say CPI is a joke:

From Bloomberg: (emp add)
TIPS Flunk Inflation Test as Fuel, Food Overtake CPI

July 7 (Bloomberg) -- Treasury Inflation Protected Securities aren't living up to their name for bond investors who say they can't trust the way the U.S. government calculates the rising cost of consumer goods.

Morgan Stanley, the second-biggest securities firm, and FTN Financial, a unit of Tennessee's largest bank, are telling clients to pare holdings of TIPS, whose principal amount rises with the Labor Department's consumer price index. Morgan Stanley says derivatives tied to inflation expectations are a better bet, while FTN recommends corporate and agency bonds because the index doesn't reflect the actual rate of U.S. inflation. ...

"The consumer price index underestimates inflation," said Jeremy Wolfson, who oversees $8.5 billion as chief investment officer at the City of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Pension Fund. ...

... Thomas Atteberry, a partner at Los Angeles-based First Pacific Advisors, who manages $3.5 billion in bonds [said] "CPI understates what's really going on in the economy from an inflation standpoint" ...

William Fleckenstein, president of Fleckenstein Capital Inc. in Seattle and co-author of ``Greenspan's Bubbles: The Age of Ignorance at the Federal Reserve,'' [said] "One reason why I've never owned TIPS is because I knew the CPI was a cheat" ...

Criticisms of the CPI center on the practice of understating price increases to account for quality improvements in goods like cars and computers. The government also changes the basket of goods it uses to calculate CPI, replacing more expensive products with cheaper ones.


Friday, July 11, 2008

Mark Halperin's keen insight:

In Time's The Page, dedicated to evaluating this week's action vis-a-vis Obama and McCain, Mark Halperin scores a win for McCain.

He had four categories for grading:
  • Public Image
  • Iraq
  • Economy
  • Arrival of the Cavalry [campaign nuts and bolts + finance]
McCain/Republicans win on all except The Economy, which is given a tie.

He're the entirety of Halperin on Public Image:
Barack Obama's apparent move to the center on a range of issues has Republicans and many commentators questioning his credibility and integrity. If he loses in November, this will be remembered as a turning point in the race - just as the launch of the Swift Boat ads against John Kerry marked the beginning of the end of his presidential bid in 2004.
Republicans questioning Obama's integrity? Say it ain't so!

As to this week's moves by Obama being compared in any way to the organized Swift Boat attacks on Kerry, well, let's just say that's ridiculous.

As to McCain's stumblebum performance this week, Halperin has absolutely nothing to say.

Here's Halperin on Economy:
After a week in which both candidates presented their policies and attacked the other guy's record and ideas, neither McCain nor Obama has broken out as the leader on this issue. For a question that should give a huge advantage to the Deomcrats, the answere still sound like "yada, yada, yada" - on both sides.
Halperin must be extremely bored, or inattentive. This week has been a mess for McCain (see this Weekly Standard entry). McCain's economic advisor Phil Gramm hasn't been in the news for several days for nothing ("mental recession"). And to say the economic talk is "yada, yada, yada" when the reality is that both candidates have reiterated their basic - and wildly different - policy positions, shows how out of touch Halperin is, or maybe he's enraptured with a particular Seinfeld episode.


Fafblog! has awoken from its slumbers:

With a couple of posts this week.


Liberals and immigration:

There is a very interesting article at Salon by Michael Lind, Jesse Helms is not dead, which basically says the former Confederacy was essentially a third-world entity - politically and economically - in the early 20th century (if not also before), run by a small white elite, and deeply anti-progressive.

Of interest is this comment, made in reaction to a passing mention by Lind about about cheap immigrant labor:
As a libertarian with progressive tendencies who hangs out mostly with people who would classify themselves as "liberals", I see a paradoxical attitude toward immigration in their beliefs. On the one hand they give a great deal of vocal support to unions and on the other hand label as a "racist" anyone who points out that the tide of illegal immigrants undercuts the value of labor for native-born American citizens.


E. J. Dionne Jr. goes after Brad DeLong's "free trade is good" argument:

Brad DeLong, who many mistake for a liberal, loves free trade. Says it's great because it helps people in other countries. But wait! Dionne has just penned an op-ed where he tackles various capitalist orthodoxies:
Regulation is the problem and deregulation is the solution. The distribution of income and wealth doesn't matter. Providing incentives for the investors of capital to "grow the pie" is the only policy that counts. Free trade produces well-distributed economic growth, and any dissent from this orthodoxy is "protectionism."
On free trade specifically, he quotes Barney Frank:
Frank also calls for new thinking on the impact of free trade. He argues it can no longer be denied that globalization "is a contributor to the stagnation of wages and it has produced large pools of highly mobile capital." Mobile capital and the threat of moving a plant abroad give employers a huge advantage in negotiations with employees. "If you're dealing with someone and you can pick up and leave and he can't, you have the advantage."

"Free trade has increased wealth, but it's been monopolized by a very small number of people," Frank said. The coming debate will focus not on shutting globalization down but rather on managing its effects with an eye toward the interests of "the most vulnerable people in the country."
Whoa!   How can that be? It's true that free trade has advantaged employers, reduced the power of labor, held down wages, and made a few people rich. But DeLong says free trade is great, so the facts must be ignored. Especially by a highly-paid university professor safely ensconced at Berkeley who enjoys cheap consumer goods, or something. C'mon Brad, admit you are wrong! Admit it!


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Bipartisan is:

when a majority of both parties support a bill.

The FISA bill passed in the Senata today is not bipartisan. A minority of Democrats supported it in both chambers of Congress.

That's not bipartisan.


Chart of the day:
Democrats: 32 for stripping immunity, 16 against, 1 not voting (Kennedy, almost surely for stripping immunity).
Republicans: 0 for stripping immunity, 48 against, 1 not voting (McCain, almost surely against stripping immunity).
Lieberman against.

In the Senate, more Democrats are against immunity. In the House, more Democrats were against the bill as a whole. Yet the leadership in both chambers pushes forward a bill that is supported by all Republicans except one: Tim Johnson of Illinois).

Who are Pelosi and Reid working for?


McCain campaign talking point:
Or maybe not. Check out this week's Troubletown.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Remember this during any Social Security debate:

In a comment to Yglesias' post about McCain and Social Security (and replying to two commentors), Bloix wrote:
The easiest way to steal something is to pursuade its owner that it's not worth anything.
That's what Bush did in 2005. It's what McCain is hinting at.


Monday, July 07, 2008

The future of white collar jobs:

Dean Baker wrote, in a piece critical of a New York Times story:
The Shortage of Low-Paid Journalists

There are not enough well-qualified journalists willing to work for $8 an hour. We know this because there are very few (if any) experienced journalists working for this wage. The New York Times and other newspapers deal with this shortage by paying journalists considerably more than $8 an hour.

By contrast, the NYT tells us that many employers want to relax laws penalizing them for hiring undocumented workers because "they grappled, even in an economic downturn, with shortages of low-wage labor."

In a market economy, the response to shortages is higher prices, or in this case higher wages. While it is understandable that employers do not want to pay higher wages, just like most of us do not want to pay higher gas prices, that is the way a market works. If they cannot afford to pay higher wages, then in a market economy, they go out of business, just as tens of millions of inefficient businesses have gone out of business as the economy has grown over the last century.

It would be helpful if the NYT would apply some basic economics to its discussion of this economic issue.
Baker is saying that when there is a shortage of low-wage labor, like a shortage of low-wage journalists, then employers have to pay more - and sympathy for businesses facing such a shortage is unwarranted in a market economy.

Up until now, the New York Times has had to "suffer" the consequences and pay their journalists "considerably more than $8 an hour". But maybe not for much longer.

In a run-of-the mill Reuters story, GM mulling thousands of job cuts, sale of brands: report, we read at the end:
(Reporting by Pratish Narayanan in Bangalore; Editing by Kim Coghill)
That's the kind of free-trade, borderless economy that will help American white-collar workers. It's what John McCain advocates. And also the devil-incarnate Brad DeLong. C'mon Brad, admit that free trade is bad for domestic workers. It's great for professors who like cheap consumer goods, but not for the rest of us. Admit it!


McCain has the solution!

Can't argue with this:
Republican presidential candidate John McCain acknowledged the steep drop in U.S. jobs and said he would help the economy by cutting taxes, encouraging free trade, building nuclear power plants and launching other initiatives.

He ... cited his plans to cut the estate tax ...

Employer contributions toward health insurance would be treated as income ...
[This will have the practical effect of reducing employer-based health coverage.]
Cutting taxes (overwhelimgly for the rich) will get money flowing through the economy again. Free trade will strengthen domestic labor, so much so that for the first time in three decades labor will be able to demand a cut of productivity gains. A national program of building nuclear power plants will end up a legacy for centuries.

Cut the estate tax? Bully!

And eliminating job-based health care will vanquish any pooling of risk or collective barganing power. Instead, everyone will purchase health insurance (if they can afford it) as an individual. We all know that when a small number of corporations face a diffuse, atomized customer base, that the corporations cower and conceed.

Look, if the public elect McCain based on what he's laid out, then they deserve what they get.


Saturday, July 05, 2008

Christopher Hitchens gets himself water-tortured:

A lot of folks are dismissing Hitchens' personal examination/experience of the procedure. But he deserves credit for doing it and then describing it in a clear, straightforward manner. He is a good writer, and that makes his narration of the procedure vivid and memorable.

UPDATE: On the local Los Angeles NBC news this Sunday, in a segment about doing's in the digital realm, there was an over-two-minute segment, largely taken from the video of Hitchen's ordeal at the Vanity Fair website that showed him getting water-tortured. The local news report ended with Hitchens' conclusion:
“I apply the Abraham Lincoln test for moral casuistry: “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.” Well, then, if water boarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture.”
That kind of exposure is what a big foot journalist can do, but seldom happens.


No bigot:

Jesse Helms, in the 1960's:
The Negro cannot count forever on the kind of restraint that's thus far left him free to clog the streets, disrupt traffic, and interfere with other men's rights."

"Crime rates and irresponsibility among Negroes are a fact of life which must be faced."
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell on Friday:
"Senator Helms certainly was no bigot."


Friday, July 04, 2008

Conservapedia on Barack Obama:

Great stuff: (emp add)
Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. (allegedly born in Honolulu, August 4, 1961) is the presumptive 2008 nominee of the Democratic Party for president. ...

Obama has declared himself to be a Christian, yet never replaced his Muslim name with a Christian one as many do, casting doubt on his politically self-serving claim. ...

He attended a Catholic elementary school for two years, followed by an Indonesian public school for two years. Media scrutiny in the light of Obama's campaign for President revealed that the Indonesia public school was not a madrassa, teaching Islam. However, clearly Obama would have taken days off of school in observance of Islamic holidays. ...

Daniel Pipes claims that Obama was raised a Muslim because he attended classes on the Koran while attending a Muslim school. ...


Thursday, July 03, 2008

Fox News Channel is a propaganda outfit:

Proof: FOX News Gets Ugly

Why anybody gives FNC the time of day (or appears on the network) is a mystery.


Charlie Crist is getting married:
Florida's most powerful bachelor is getting hitched.

Gov. Charlie Crist, single for nearly three decades, on Thursday morning became engaged to his girlfriend of nine months, Carole Rome.
Well, that settles that. I was beginning to think Crist was gay, not that there's anything wrong with that.

WHAT THE HELL: Some links by people amused by the whole affair 1 2 3 4

With this marriage, Charlie Crist can hop on board John McCain's Straight Talk Express.


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Wesley Clark - John McCain flap:

If the media want to push this, and the public accepts it, then this country deserves whatever it gets.

There is no point in arguing this issue. Arguing, in a sense, validates the pundits who are saying Clark insulted McCain. You want to do that? Fine. This blog won't.

There comes a time when you see that the opposition, of whatever stripe, is inpervious to facts and logic. Instead of arguing with conservatives or the media about Clark, why not instead argue with a Mormon about the reality of Joseph Smith translating the golden plates with the "Urim and Thummim" or a seer stone? It'll be about as productive.

Too many people in this country - actually throughout the world - have fixed attitudes that cannot be changed via argument. What does change them is a crisis (financial, medical, mortal) that destroys their life, or comes close to destroying it.

Looks as if the situation this nation is in, is not bad enough to get people to (a) reject bullshit campaign antics, and (b) focus on failed Republican policies and corrupt and incompetent governance.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008


Upon encountering stories like this, Denmark world's happiest country, survey finds, and reading:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Denmark, with its democracy, social equality and peaceful atmosphere, is the happiest country in the world, researchers said on Monday.

Zimbabwe, torn by political and social strife, is the least happy, while the world's richest nation, the United States, ranks 16th. ...

The survey, first done in 1981, has kept to two simple questions:
"Taking all things together, would you say you are very happy, rather happy, not very happy, not at all happy?" And, "All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole these days?
One wonders if the people surveyed included those in prison. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world (1% of the adult population in jail) and those people are decidely unhappy. Were they part of the survey? (Checking the source of the survey doesn't answer the question.)