General Wes Clark is Fired Up and Ready to Go!

Since Obama's busy waffling like an old-skool Democrat (patriotism speech, notwithstanding), we can all now get behind Wes Clark and, as atrios puts it, form a "mancrush" on him when he says stuff like this:

John McCain is running his campaign on his experience and how his experience would benefit him and our nation as President. That experience shows courage and commitment to our country - but it doesn't include executive experience wrestling with national policy or go-to-war decisions. And in this area his judgment has been flawed - he not only supported going into a war we didn't have to fight in Iraq, but has time and again undervalued other, non-military elements of national power that must be used effectively to protect America But as an American and former military officer I will not back down if I believe someone doesn't have sound judgment when it comes to our nation's most critical issues.
Hey-A Democrat that doesn't back down at the first sign of controversy! Is it even scientifically possible?

Needless to say, Wes Clark is getting hit pretty hard for making what should be a blatantly obvious and innocuous comment. Consequently, the folks at put up a petition to stand behind him.

Help get Clark's back:!

And don't make him angry:

Nothing New byslag at 9:42 PM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Republicans Play Up Sexism in Obama's Campaign Staff Pay

CNS News attacks Obama for having more men than women on its payroll and putting the men in higher paying positions.  As expected, rightwingers are out in force calling this hypocrisy-squared on Obama's part.  And while I confess that I always want to see more women in high-paid positions in all fields, I can't help but marvel at the obvious problem with this characterization.  If you actually go to CNS' data breakdown, you see how McCain hires a ton of interns (making just under $6,500/year!), and on average, McCain's female interns are paid less than their male interns.  The upshot

By one measure, however, women did do better in Obama’s office than in McCain’s. When the average salary was calculated for all people on the office payroll, including interns, Clinton paid women an average of $51,948, Obama paid women an average of $48,729, and McCain paid women an average of $47,898. (Clinton’s and Obama’s average salaries are relatively unaffected by adding the interns because Obama employed only one intern, while Clinton employed none. McCain, by contrast, employed 23 interns during the period, including 15 men and 8 women.)
So, that "one measure" in which women did better in Obama's office than in McCain's?  They got paid more, on average.  I'm sure the women in Obama's office are really pissed off about that.

Nothing New byslag at 5:42 PM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Barack Obama says: "The Center...Myyyy 'The Center'!"

There's been a lot of talk about Obama's move to "the center" recently. Much of it has revolved around the political necessity of doing so. Like many people with actual principles, I think that's crap. We liberals put the Quotes of Irony around "the center" because, in spite of our elitist over-education, we have never been able to locate this place called "The Center" on a map. "The Center" is actually "The City" in the satirically-minded The Tick comic/cartoon. It's no place that's supposed to represent all places. Which means that even trying to just get there is pointless, because you'll never be able to find it. You'll just keep going and going and going until you realize that you're completely lost. And in spite of what the media claims, nobody actually lives there. Because there is no there there.

In other words, "the center" is all about framing. The establishment media love talking about "the center" because it means less work for them. They can just trace an imaginary line between the one extremist Republican standpoint and one of the many less extremist Democratic standpoints, then casually point news consumers to an imaginary point in the center of that line, and call it a day. Republicans love talking about "the center" because they can all just hang out together on the far, far right, let the media do its center-loving job and know that, no matter where the imaginary center is found, it will be a lot closer to them than it is to people like me. If the Democrats hung together on the far, far left, this would naturally negate the Republicans' center advantage, but they don't. In the name of diversity, Democrats don't hang anywhere together but, instead, let their members go wherever the mood strikes them--preferably toward "the center" after the media tells them where that is. Then, they let the people who are supposedly living in "the center" call them unprincipled and weak. This is called politics.

Using this strategy, Democrats fight Republicans like The Tick fights crime--often succeeding in spite of themselves. They simultaneously decry the incompetence of the Republicans in power while bending over backwards trying to prove that they themselves are no liberal Democrats. They talk about how Republicans are no fans of the worker and then extol the virtues of reaching across the aisle to work with them. The inconsistencies of this position are easily discerned on a gut level, if not easily intellectualized. So, whenever Democrats do happen to get something done to advance a worker's agenda, the average person still isn't quite sure whether they did so out of principle or out of expediency. To continue with The Tick analogy, did they use their keen insight and sense of purpose to sniff out the Idea Men's plans and prevent them from blowing up The City's dam, or did they just hear about it on the news and happen to show up barely in time? These are the kinds of questions rational voters--even liberal ones--ask themselves about Democrats.

The latest attack on Obama's bi-partisan bona fides exemplifies this problem for Democrats. Obama has worked with Republicans on securing loose nuclear weapons and helping to make government more transparent. But apparently, that's not deemed "politically courageous" enough. So, what does Obama do? Move to "the center" by giving Republicans what they want on FISA. Well, that'll show 'em. Maybe if Obama does more to help Republicans destroy the economy, lie us into war, hate on teh gayz and teh womynz, and torture some more people, he'll be "politically courageous" enough to be president. Of course, we already have a president who's that "politically courageous", so maybe we should re-think our strategery a little. Maybe when asked whether or not we've been brave enough to go out on a limb by defying the evil Democratic Party, we should actually ask which positions held by the evil Democratic Party are in need of defiance. One time Obama defied the evil Democratic Party was before we invaded Iraq. Of course, at the time, he was defying Republicans too, but apparently, defying both parties isn't "politically courageous" enough.

In summary, every time Obama is asked when he's gone out on a limb to work with Republicans, he should remind people that he's done what he thought was right but that Republicans, by and large, suck. That the notion of "the center" is a creation of Republicans and the media--both of whom, by and large, suck. That, sometimes, just because something is labeled "liberal" that doesn't mean it is, or if it is, that doesn't necessarily mean it's bad. And that, periodically, Democrats do the right thing because it's the right thing and not because they were too politically incompetent to do anything else. And it would also be cool if he would sometimes remind us to "honk if you love justice!" Just cuz that would be funny:

For more about the insipidity of "The Center", here's Greenwald and Digby to start.
And for more The Tick, here's the beginning:

UPDATE: Obama camp disses Gen Wes Clarke for pointing out the obvious fact that getting shot at doesn't necessarily mean you're qualified to be President:

"As he's said many times before, Senator Obama honors and respects Senator McCain's service, and of course he rejects yesterday's statement by General Clark," said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton.

Run, chicken, run! Run to nowhere and see where you find yourself. Or as Josh Marshall says:
But if it really is a fear of getting things focused on McCain's war record or experience it really is the kind of mistake Democrats habitually make. Take a look. McCain's entire campaign is about his time as a POW and the claim that his war service makes him uniquely qualified to be the country's commander-in-chief. They're pushing the fact that he's been on the national stage for four decades, whereas Obama's only been there for four years. That is almost the entirety of his campaign. So it's out there. It's already a key focus of this campaign.

John McCain's claim to experience, based in large part on his military service, is a key issue in this campaign. Ignoring it doesn't make it go away.

"The Center" sure looks like weak knees from here.

Nothing New byslag at 8:08 AM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Other People's Genius: Buried Alive Edition

In honor of the President potentially having legal authority to order someone to be buried alive, here are some of the stories I've been burying lately:

* John Cole wonders why the media ignores the House's torture inquisition:

What is surprising is that there is not more about this in the media. In fact, on the cable channels, there is nothing. Compare that to Rev. Wright’s Jackass tour at the NPR. One guy mocks the media, and we get our collective freak on for months. Addington and Yoo’s hands are all over much of the odious crap from this administration, come in and show thorough contempt for congress, and the media yawns.
Would this be for the same reason that the teevee news media almost completely ignores FISA? If so, I'm going with "laws schmaws" as the most likely response from our intrepid blown-dry news anchors.

* Juan Cole (a different kind of Cole) reminds us that there's a war going on:
Big bombs in Mosul and in Karma, al-Anbar.

Questions are being raised about whether the Iraqi army can hold Mosul.

DPA reports that two major bombings in Sunni Arab areas of Iraq on Thursday killed over 40 persons and left over 70 wounded.
Apparently, someone forgot to tell the Iraqis that the surge is working.

* Joe Sudbay at AMERICAblog reminds us that there's another war going on:
In Afghanistan, June is "deadliest month for foreign soldiers"
If my history serves me, we went to war in Afghanistan directly because of the 9/11 attacks. But, then Bush forgot about Afghanistan to launch the war against Iraq, which had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks.
According to Joe, just forgetting about a war doesn't make it go away. Who knew?

* The Daily Show would probably call this video of N Korea blowing up one of their nuclear reactors your moment of zen:

Now, I don't want to name names, but it seems that this video is evidence that a certain President of the United States has been busy doing some serious appeasing lately.

Happy other people's genius Friday!

Nothing New byslag at 3:51 PM 1 dispenses karmic justice! (or just comments here)

Color of Change has been doing some really great work. One initiative they have going is a petition responding to Fox News' blatant recurring use of racism:

Right now, Fox News is trying to paint Barack Obama as foreign, un-American, suspicious, and scary. They're trying to send Americans the message that our country's first viable Black candidate for President is not "one of us."

I've joined on to's campaign to push back on Fox, publicly demanding they stop their race-baiting and fear mongering. If that doesn't work, then we'll go to their advertisers and the FCC. I wanted to invite you to sign on as well.

It takes only a moment:

(h/t BryAnn)

They've also been working with Blue America PAC (Digby, FDL, Greenwald, etc) on running ads against the Democrats' FISA capitulation:
I've just been hearing about them recently, but apparently, Color of Change was initiated shortly after Hurricane Katrina to "strengthen Black America's political voice. Our goal is to empower our members—Black Americans and our allies—to make government more responsive to the concerns of Black Americans and to bring about positive political and social change for everyone."

Sounds good to me.

Nothing New byslag at 8:56 AM 5 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

FISA: The Left's Symbolic Issue

A couple of months ago, I mercilessly mocked David Brooks for referring to Obama's mildly controversial acquaintances as "symbolic issues". Why do I find Brooks' description so hilarious? Because anyone who picks up a book from time to time knows that symbolic meaning is in the eye of the beholder. Example: David Brooks wears eyeglasses; I see his glasses as a symbol of his shortsightedness. What does my interpretation of David Brooks' glasses actually indicate? Well, it indicates at least two things: 1. I probably don't wear glasses; otherwise, I most likely wouldn't think of them as being symbolic of anything (other than sheer genius, of course). 2. Due to my ideological differences with David Brooks, I am pre-disposed to consider him shortsighted; the wearing of glasses can have a variety of symbolic meanings, so my own pre-disposition toward him is likely to be a major determining factor.

Unfortunately, however, the symbolism of David Brooks' glasses doesn't say much, if anything, about David Brooks. Just like Obama's mildly controversial acquaintances don't say much, if anything, about Obama. To people who aren't big fans of Obama, his acquaintances are either symbols of his hidden Marxo-Fascist agenda or symbols of his political cravenness (depending on their mood, I guess). To people who do like Obama, his acquaintances are symbols of his openness to diversity of opinion (or whatever; honestly, we don't really care). Notice how quiet the right wing is about the symbolism of an avowed Communist announcing his support for John McCain (Symbolism? What's that?). But in spite of the inherent subjectivity of symbols, our human tendency to seek and recognize patterns reinforces our desire to seek and interpret abstractions to reinforce said patterns. Meaning we [heart] symbols. A lot.

Like Glenn Greenwald and many others, I am inclined to see Obama's support for the Democrats' FISA capitulation as a symbol of the failures I see in the Democratic Party, en masse. Obama claims he wants to "change the mindset" that got us into the Iraq War. Well, we on the left see this FISA capitulation as a symbol of the mindset that got us into the Iraq War (or, as Greenwald calls this mindset, "The New Republic Syndrome"):

The number one problem facing the Democratic Party is that, as events of the last week demonstrate, it continues to be plagued by The New Republic Syndrome, one of the most fatal political afflictions that exist. In 2002 and 2003, The New Republic was one of the leading crusaders for an attack on Iraq, railing against what it called "the intellectual incoherence of the liberal war critics." In a February 2003 Editorial, they decreed that "the United States must disarm Iraq by force" and declared war opponents guilty of "abject pacifism."
Also in 2004, The New Republic endorsed Joe Lieberman for the Democratic nomination for President, using its endorsement to attack Howard Dean and his liberal supporters as suffering from "an old Democratic affliction: an excessive faith in multilateralism and an insufficient faith in the moral potential of U.S. power" and said that Dean supporters were "dangerously out of touch with a country that feels threatened by terrorism, not Donald Rumsfeld."
Despite those forced mea culpas and reversals, TNR never actually learns. Today -- in a post bearing the very sensible and Serious title: "Keeping FISA in Perspective" -- TNR is here, via Josh Patashnik, to tell you that there's nothing truly disturbing about the FISA bill that is about to pass...
To make matters worse, Obama's newly found FISA stance is now being discussed as a symbol of strength rather than weakness because it means he's got the audacity to stand up to the all-powerful dirty hippie civil libertarian lobby:
All of the decades-old, conventional Beltway mythologies are trotted out here to praise Obama. Democrats move to the "center" by embracing hard-core right-wing policies. Democrats will look "weak" unless they turn themselves into Republican clones on national security. A President becomes "strong" when he tramples on the Constitution and the rule of law in the name of keeping us safe. Democrats must embrace the Right and repudiate the base of their own party, and they must support Dick Cheney's policies while "standing up to the ACLU."
Nothing says "change of mindset" like disregarding the people who you've always disregarded, right? We, on the (what I might call "moderate") left, have seen a pattern here. And it's one that we don't like very much.

Nonetheless, because sometimes a FISA bill is just a FISA bill, and symbolism is inherently subjective in nature, I am inclined to look to other--more concrete--sources of outrage about this issue. Luckily, there are plenty of negative consequences to be found:
There were, however, a few sour notes during the proceedings. Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) complained that the bill "actually permits the government to perform mass, untargeted surveillance of any and all conversations believed to be coming into and out of the United States, without any individualized finding, and without a requirement that wrongdoing is believed to be involved at all." Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH): "these blanket wiretaps make it impossible to know whose calls are being intercepted by the National Security Agency." Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) invoked the specter of past intelligence abuses, such as the wiretapping of Martin Luther King and the FBI's controversial COINTELPRO operation—an argument Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) dismissed by conceding the political abuse of surveillance powers in the past but asserting that "those days are behind us." (The latter development coinciding, as chance would have it, with the passage of legislation prohibiting warrantless wiretaps.) Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) warned that the compromise legislation would "redefine the Fourth Amendment, and thus the fundamental relationship between the government and its people" by licensing "a fishing expedition approach to intelligence collection."
"Untargeted surveillance", "blanket wiretaps", "fishing expedition"...none of that really works for leftists, in general. Even if we were willing to concede that a blanket wiretap is sometimes just a blanket wiretap, it still doesn't sound good. And in our darker moments, we are pre-disposed to interpret these things as symbols of a police state. As symbols of a possible hidden "Marxo-Fascist" (minus the "Marxo") agenda, if you will. Maybe even as symbols of political cravenness (depending on our mood, I guess). If only we had people like David Brooks around to ask more questions about these "symbolic issues". I guess he's too busy digging through Obama's garbage looking for his "I [heart] Chairman Mao" pin to bother.

NOTE: The entire time the "liberal" media were beating up on Obama for his reversal on campaign finance, left blogistan was beating up on Obama for his reversal on FISA. What does that symbolize?

Also, thanks to xkcd for using the Creative Commons (non-commercial) copy left license, thereby allowing me to bastardize xkcd's Stand Back (Science) design.

UPDATE: FISA delayed and FISA's worse than you think. This means more action needed.

Nothing New byslag at 4:35 AM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Ralph Nader: The Archie Bunker of American Politics

Ralph Nader recently criticized Barack Obama for not running for his version of Black President of the United States:

"There's only one thing different about Barack Obama when it comes to being a Democratic presidential candidate. He's half African-American," Nader said. "Whether that will make any difference, I don't know. I haven't heard him have a strong crackdown on economic exploitation in the ghettos. Payday loans, predatory lending, asbestos, lead. What's keeping him from doing that? Is it because he wants to talk white? He doesn't want to appear like Jesse Jackson? We'll see all that play out in the next few months and if he gets elected afterwards."
"I mean, first of all, the number one thing that a black American politician aspiring to the presidency should be is to candidly describe the plight of the poor, especially in the inner cities and the rural areas, and have a very detailed platform about how the poor is going to be defended by the law, is going to be protected by the law, and is going to be liberated by the law," Nader said. "Haven't heard a thing."
Apparently, Ralph is qualified to tell Americans how to run for Black President. In that spirit, I've made my own list of issues that every old white male American politician aspiring to the presidency needs to take on:
  1. Early Bird Specials: The next old white male president needs to address the fact that early bird specials are not offered at every single diner across the country. Honestly, there oughta be a law.
  2. Those Pesky Freeways: Why are the lanes so narrow? Why do the young people drive so fast in them? The next old white male president really should tend to these concerns. Also, it would be nice if vehicle turn signals made a loud beeping sound after they've been on for about two minutes or so.
  3. Kids: The next old white male president needs to make the kids call more often.
  4. Grandkids: The next old white male president needs to make the grandkids talk louder and enunciate more slowly.
  5. Neighbors' Kids: The next old white male president needs to make "Get off my lawn!" signs freely available. And also put SWAT teams in every neighborhood whose only purpose is to make the neighbors' kids turn their music down--immediately.
  6. Medications, Aches and Pains, Gland Problems: The next old white male president needs to set up a phone bank staffed with people who are eager to spend hours listening to callers' complaints about medications, aches and pains, and glandular concerns.
  7. Viagra: We need more of this.
What's keeping Ralph from addressing these old white male issues? Is it because he doesn't want to talk old white male? He doesn't want to appear like Archie Bunker? We'll see all that play out in the next few months and if he gets elected afterwards.

Nothing New byslag at 7:04 PM 8 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

The Moment Marc Ambinder Officially Became a Joke

So, I was just now listening to Rachel Maddow laugh uproariously at the fact that Richard Mellon Scaife's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review equated Obama's lead in the polls with Dukakis-level failure. Then, I clicked over to Marc Ambinder's blog only to see, "We're getting into Dukakis-Bush'-88 territory here...". When did Scaife purchase the Atlantic? Of course, there's this little detail: "(Reader CH notes: "The major difference between '88 and '08 is that the outgoing Republican president in '88 was nowhere near a 23% approval rating.")." Silly facts...they just get in the way of a good story.

And the joke only gets funnier with this ridiculous poll that Ambinder posted:
I wonder if the questions in this poll are representative of those Marc would have asked before we invaded Iraq:

Are you in favor of invading Iraq, or are you opposed to invading because you're a terrorist-loving hippie?
Just curious.

Nothing New byslag at 6:50 PM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Why I Read Fiction

One of the things I like most about fiction is that, whenever I start to feel like I'm living in a uniquely farcical time or place, I invariably pick up a fiction book from a totally different time or place that captures similarly farcical themes or scenarios. Par exemple, my favorite PG Wodehouse book, Psmith in the City, elucidates a familiar rationale for why an ignorant, belligerent conservative might win an election (in this situation, said conservative is a bank manager):

Also it had been discovered, on the eve of the poll, that the bank manager's opponent, in his youth, had been educated at a school in Germany, and had subsequently spent two years at Heidelberg University. These damaging revelations were having a marked effect on the warm-hearted patriots of Kenningford, who were now referring to the candidate in thick but earnest tones as 'the German Spy'.
Sound familiar? OK. We know that destructively paranoid nationalism is nothing new, but seriously...Late 19th century Britain meets early 21st century America. I wonder if they required flag lapel pins too.

(Thanks to Project Gutenberg for providing the text of this quote.)

Nothing New byslag at 5:00 PM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Karl Rove and Glass Country Clubs

Via Steve Benen:

ABC News’ Christianne Klein reports that at a breakfast with Republican insiders at the Capitol Hill Club this morning, former White House senior aide Karl Rove referred to Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, as “coolly arrogant.”

“Even if you never met him, you know this guy,” Rove said, per Christianne Klein. “He’s the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by.”
Ummm...Mr. Rove...Many of us liberal elitists have never been to a country club. Consequently, we do not, in fact, "know this guy". Since you seem to be a country club expert, what other Obama characteristics should we look out for that indicate that he belongs in your club? Also, when did your club finally start allowing African-Americans? Just curious.

Nothing New byslag at 7:26 PM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

FISA: The Mullet of Compromises

An hour out of my weekend was spent in finally getting the long-overdue summer haircut. I generally dislike taking the time to get my haircut for a variety of reasons, one of which being the fact that I hate smelling the products they put in my hair for the rest of the day. Nonetheless, whenever I do get my hair cut, I generally try to get a little more out of the time by chatting up the haircut person and learning more about his/her business. In this case, the lady was telling me about how a big part of her job is trying to mediate between competing priorities of an individual client. She said that people often come in wanting her to give them hair that's dark-but-light or short-but-long, and as a professional, she uses her skills to try to achieve a reasonable compromise. And apparently, not all compromises are created equal.

A compromise that haircutters employ to get people like me into their chairs more often is to use less smelly hair products. The way they deal with the dark-but-light issue has traditionally been by adding highlights. And generally, these compromises are seen as being successful. However, I think we're all familiar with the traditional short-but-long compromise of the mullet. And as any mullet Google search will prove, the mullet is generally seen as successful. So, what does this all go to show? Compromise can sometimes make us all look really, really stupid.

Just ask the Democrats in the US House of Representatives whose recent "compromise" on the FISA bill continues to, as Glenn Greenwald points out, make them look weak, corrupt, and stupid:

The very idea that Democrats would lose elections if they didn't support this bill is false on numerous levels. They could have easily removed the issue simply by voting to extend the PAA orders for 6-9 months. More importantly, Karl Rove's central strategy in the 2006 midterm election was to use FISA and torture to depict the Democrats as being Weak on Terrorism, and the Democrats crushed the Republicans and took over both houses of Congress. Pelosi's claim that they support extremist Bush policies in order to avoid election losses in "swing districts" is dubious in the extreme -- an excuse to feed to Democratic voters to justify their complicity in these matters.

But whether true or false, this "justification" is precisely why I believe so fervently that the only option we have to battle against continuous assaults on core constitutional and civil liberties is to target the very seats that the Democratic leadership constantly points to in order to justify their behavior. What the Democratic leadership is saying is quite clear: we will continue to trample on the Constitution and support endless expansions of the surveillance state because that is how we'll win in swing districts and expand our Congressional majority (Hunter at Daily Kos -- "one leftist blogger" who spews rage "on the Internet" -- has one of the clearest statements on why this bill is so abominable). The only objective of Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer is to have a 50-seat majority rather than a 35-seat majority, and if enabling the Bush administration's lawbreaking and demolishing core constitutional protections can assist somewhat with that goal, then that it what they will do. That's what they are saying all but explicitly here.
In other words, the FISA amendment truly is the mullet of compromises.

For entertainment purposes only:

Nothing New byslag at 11:02 AM 5 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Couldn't he Just Sleep with an Intern?

Thinking back to when Jon Stewart wondered aloud how Barack Obama would disappoint us:

Sen. Barack Obama's campaign released a statement Friday afternoon saying that while Obama opposes amnesty for telecom firms that spied on Americans, he will support the House compromise legislation.
Disappointed is much too nice of a word for what I'm feeling right now.

UPDATE: Greg Sargent on Obama's utter schmuckosity:
Here's what's so dispiriting about it. One of the riveting things about Barack Obama's candidacy is that since the outset of the campaign he's seemed absolutely dead serious about changing the way foreign policy is discussed and argued about in this country.

Time and again, in his debates with Hillary, and now with John McCain, his whole debate posture on national security issues was centered on the idea that he could challenge and change what it means to talk "tough." His candidacy has long seemed to embody a conviction that Democrats can win arguments with Republicans about national security -- that if Dems stick to a set of core principles, and forcefully argue for them without blinking, they can and will persuade people that, simply put, they are right and Republicans are wrong

....And this time, he abandoned that premise.

And there's Atrios on Obama's wankosity.

Personally, I hate to see Obama give into fear like this. What was that word he used to use a lot? Audacity. Yeah...What happened to that stuff?

Nothing New byslag at 7:50 PM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Other People's Genius: Rebuttals Edition

The last couple of days have seen a lot of political trash-talking over campaign finance, Osama Bin Forgotten-(Except-During-An-Election-Year), Michelle Obama's "reintroduction", FISA capitulation. Rather than take the time and effort to put forth cohesive/intelligent arguments about these issues myself, this Other People's Genius is dedicated to the arguments put forth by others (some more cohesive/intelligent than others).

* First, the Anonymous Liberal takes on the whole freak-out over the thought of Osama Bin Laden being treated like any other mass-murderer by our justice system:

First, of course Bin Laden would get habeas rights if he were held at Guantanamo. Since when do rights vary based on your name? But more importantly, why should anyone find it troubling that Osama would have such a right? If he sought to petition a court, it would result in the easiest and most predictable judicial decision ever. Habeas corpus just means that you have the opportunity to challenge the lawfulness of your detention. The evidence against Bin Laden is overwhelming. He would have the right to challenge his detention, but he would lose, quickly and decisively...
Personally, I take comfort in the fact that the United States tries to be governed by the rule of law. I used to think that Republicans liked laws too. Apparently, not so.

* Cindy McCain has been out and about trashing Michelle Obama. In what may be considered a tangential rebuttal, here's what one of my favoritest people ever, Ross Perot, has to say about John and Cindy McCain:
After he [John McCain] came home, he walked with a limp, she [Carol McCain, John's first wife] walked with a limp. So he threw her over for a poster girl with big money from Arizona [Cindy McCain, his current wife] and the rest is history...
While I don't generally go in for attacking/making assumptions about people's personal lives, any time Ross Perot talks, I listen. On a personal note, I still count the time I persuaded my mother to vote for Ross Perot instead of George HW Bush as my greatest political accomplishment. Even though I was too young to vote at the time, I knew that Perot was my kind of crazy (in many ways).

* Liz Sodoti at the AP (who I still won't link to) says that Obama "chose winning over his word" when he decided to opt out of public campaign finance after all. Mark Halperin calls Liz Sodoti and the AP "objective". JedReport reminds us of this video of "Objective" Liz presenting McCain with his favorite treat:

Of course, this was at the same event in which the head of the AP called Obama "Osama". Apparently, the word "objective" is a bit subjective. (also, Digby has some harsh words about Liz's claim that this election is an "authenticity contest", which are worth checking out.)

* Finally, I would be remiss in this post if I failed to take the opportunity to rebut a couple of my own statements. First, in yesterday's post, I used Obama's support for pro-wiretap blue dog Georgia Representative John Barrow to claim that "Obama hasn't learned his Lieberman lesson". Digby's a little more generous than I am:
Obama wants to redraw the electoral map and thinks there might be a chance in Georgia. I'm sure that's why he's doing this, even though it's the longest of long shots. I think it's our year, but you can't take anything for granted, so I understand they are single mindedly focused on getting to 270 and have decided they need to make a right turn to do it. It's the predictable (and probably smart) move. I just don't think playing this particular incumbent protection game is worth it unless there's a really good chance of winning in that state. Guys like Barrow are toxic and will pay you back by voting against you when you need them most. It's how they do business.
That's kind of a rebuttal, right? Plus, there's the fact that Obama and McCain are essentially tied in Georgia to help explain the campaign's single-minded focus.

Second, also in yesterday's post, I said that the Democrats' capitulation on FISA "only really proves that there is no cohesive left wing of the Democratic Party". Of course, there are Democrats in both the House (Dennis Kucinich and Robert Wexler) and Senate (Patrick Leahy and Russ Feingold) who oppose the FISA agreement. Plus, there's the whole left blogophere all crowded together around this one issue:
If only any of that actually meant something to the powers in the mainstream teevee news bureaus.

Happy Other People's Genius Friday!

Nothing New byslag at 7:36 AM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Stupid Things

1. unopenable packaging
2. allergies
3. the average CEO
4. flashing deflector lights
5. polyester socks
6. partial hydrogenation
7. television pundits
8. cigarettes
9. Microsoft products
10. wannabe Microsoft products
11. arbitrary grammar rules

Just because.

Nothing New byslag at 10:06 PM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Is Obama Democrat-Light?

First, I have to say that I appreciate Obama's habeas corpus position. I like how he's fighting back against McCain's fear-based campaign tactics. And I am glad to see a high-profile Democrat finally throw this administration's failures back in its face on a regular basis. With that said, I'm right there with Glenn Greenwald in his scathing attack on Obama's support for a pro-wiretap blue-dog Democratic incumbent, John Barrow:

The Atlanta Constitution-Journal reported yesterday that Barack Obama -- who has been claiming to be so emphatically opposed to warrantless eavesdropping and telecom amnesty, to say nothing of the Iraq War -- taped a radio endorsement this week for Rep. Barrow, with the specific intent to help him defeat Regina Thomas in the Democratic primary (h/t sysprog)
By all accounts, Regina Thomas is much more progressive than Barrow. Of course, this means that Obama hasn't learned his Lieberman lesson, which is disappointing as hell because we want a President who can be taught--for a change. But beyond that:
Making matters much worse here, Obama -- who has removed himself almost completely from the pending eavesdropping and telecom amnesty debate -- recorded this ad for Barrow on the eve of that bill's passage, all in order to keep in power a key Democratic supporter of this FISA/amnesty bill. Yet telecom amnesty is not merely a side issue but is one of the purest expressions of what Obama claims so vigorously to oppose in Washington.
Of course, all of this is happening at a time when the McCain camp is calling Obama "a typical politician":
Today, Barack Obama has revealed himself to be just another typical politician who will do and say whatever is most expedient for Barack Obama...The true test of a candidate for President is whether he will stand on principle and keep his word to the American people...
McCain's accusation is the result of Obama's decision to refuse public financing for his campaign, a decision with which I agree. Nonetheless, Obama's reputation is being damaged two-fold by his failure to stand up against the FISA "compromise". First, to liberals, he looks like someone who says one thing and does another (aka typical politician). Second, one line of attack that McCain is using is that Obama hasn't taken "political risks" when legislating. Well, the fact is that Nancy Pelosi and other mainstream Democrats are lined up behind this "compromise". And once again, Obama fails to take the political risk of defying/leading them. In other words, his mediocre behavior on this issue makes him look weak. And that's what a typical Democratic politician looks like these days.

That said, the entire FISA affair only really proves that there is no cohesive left wing of the Democratic Party (shocker!) and that all this talk of "reaching across the aisle" means nothing more than doing whatever Republicans want. It also means that real liberals are still fighting for a voice in mainstream political discourse, which is governed by the notion that being a "maverick" means not always being a complete f'ing "terrorist fist jab" lunatic. That's called asymmetry.

Can we please not have an "anybody but the white guy" election this time around? Pretty please? Needless to say, this was not the best day for Barack Obama to ask me for money. Maybe we should elect Michelle instead.

UPDATE: Rather than wallow in despair and frustration, I called Obama's campaign headquarters at 866-675-2008 (pressing 6 for "other questions") and spoke with Tyler, a campaign representative. He said that he's been getting calls all day on the issue, and I told him that I felt that Senator Obama was in a unique position to show some leadership here and guide the House and Senate to a more appropriate decision. He said that he would pass my message (and all the others) along. Please call if you think there should be a penalty for illegal wiretapping!

UPDATE 2: If you were thinking of donating to Obama's campaign today, might I suggest donating to the PAC v Retroactive Immunity instead? We need to make it clear that lack of leadership will not be rewarded.

Nothing New byslag at 11:18 AM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

By Request 2: Feminists for Obama

Again from the Shameless Commerce division: After multiple fails (have I mentioned that I hate copyright?), we finally have a Feminists for Obama design. This one's currently available on stickers, mugs, shirts, etc. To purchase, click on the design. Or if you have questions/suggestions, let me know!

Added bonus: Fabulous feminist Eleanor Roosevelt chats with JFK about the creation of the Peace Corps

(thanks to wng for the video inspiration! and thanks to af for the design inspiration!)

Nothing New byslag at 9:55 AM 8 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

By Request: I Am Aware of All Internet Traditions Shirt

From the Shameless Commerce division: By request, here's an "I am aware of all internet traditions" shirt. Complete with Spock eyes (trying to hide from the Star Trek copyright Nazis). If you want one, just click on the shirt to go to All shirt sizes are unisex.

And, of course, I'd be remiss to not include the Spock "I know all about computers" companion shirt.
Let me know if you have any questions/suggestions!

Nothing New byslag at 9:32 AM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

I am Aware of All Internet Traditions

UPDATE AGAIN: Internet Tradition Awareness Index.
UPDATE: This one's for John Cole too.
This one's for John Cole.

Nothing New byslag at 7:05 PM 6 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

The Obama I Love

Obama gave two significant speeches in Michigan recently. One was essentially a "get to know me" speech after Al Gore's endorsement. The other was a speech on "Renewing American Competitiveness" in the global economy. And it was the latter that reminded me of what I love about Obama. I must not measure "rhetorical flair" as well as Matthew Yglesias because I found the speech captivating. Sensational. Drool-worthy.
What do you think?

Energy, education, technology....yum!

Nothing New byslag at 4:37 PM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Temporary Insanity

All this talk about gay couples in California finally getting to marry is actually making me slightly less cynical about the institution of marriage.

Don't'll pass.

Nothing New byslag at 8:15 PM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

No Penalty for Lying to and Terrorizing People?

Bush now says he's going to actually put some effort into finding Bin Laden:

President George W Bush has enlisted British special forces in a final attempt to capture Osama Bin Laden before he leaves the White House.

Defence and intelligence sources in Washington and London confirmed that a renewed hunt was on for the leader of the September 11 attacks. “If he [Bush] can say he has killed Saddam Hussein and captured Bin Laden, he can claim to have left the world a safer place,” said a US intelligence source.
If this report is true and Bush has, as many have surmised, been allowing Osama bin Laden to roam free all this time in order to use him as a political tool, he could not possibly be a more loathsome creature. And while, personally, I have always found Bush thoroughly detestable, I can't help but wonder when this cynical use of fear for political purposes will finally backfire on Republicans.

The reason I'm pondering this now is that I spoke to the wife of my Republican father on Father's Day and reticently broached the topic of presidential politics. During the conversation, she said that all they hear about Barack Obama is that he was a scary Muslim. Being a relatively sane person, she made this statement in a somewhat dismissive tone. Of course, I told her that was absurd, and she acknowledged that the rumor was a little far-fetched. But because her personal investment in politics is minimal, she's probably not going to bother discussing the reality of the situation with my father (who's less relatively sane).

That said, because I know my father hasn't gone completely senile, I know that he doesn't really, truly believe the rumor either. He doesn't need to. All he needs is a minimal excuse to vote for the old-white-military-guy who's-ok-even-if-he-doesn't-hate-the-Mexicans-nearly-enough*, and that excuse might as well be fear of the black dude. Which made me wonder: How long can people accept being lied to and terrorized before they start to resent it? I mean, my father--someone who fancies himself a big, tough man--is willingly going along with a lie that, on some level, he knows is actually intended to make him afraid. And the person he's voting for is the one who's enabling the lie and fear. If nothing else, why doesn't that just piss him off?

I don't get it.

*=Yes, my father has said some things that have been so offensive to me that I probably should have shunned him for eternity just like Obama should have shunned Jeremiah Wright. But here in the real world, things are complicated.

Nothing New byslag at 11:21 AM 1 dispenses karmic justice! (or just comments here)

It's Go Time!: Why Does Cindy McCain Stay with her America-Hating Husband?

Via JedReport, John McCain says "it's tough" to be proud of his country in some respects:

Now, we know that John McCain hates America. But what we don't know is why Cindy McCain did not reject/denounce her anti-American husband after he made a statement that was clearly so incredibly offensive to her:

I mean, why didn't she just get up and walk out of that marriage? When will Cindy McCain finally denounce/reject John McCain? Inquiring minds want to know!

See more "It's Go Time!"s.

Nothing New byslag at 10:37 AM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

It's Beat Up On Obama Time!

Obama has taken enough of a beating these days for non-issues (Republicans call these "symbolic issues") that I think it's time to inject some balance into the discourse by beating up on him for some actual issues. When John Edwards was in the race, I had a few choice words to say about Obama. And aside from calling Krugman "rational" I don't regret any of them. However, now that I understand the arc of his primary campaign strategy and have watched his message evolve after Edwards dropped out, I am going to be a little more lenient on his decision-making this time around. Nonetheless, the inevitable can of whoop ass must be opened now and, most likely, in the future as well.

My first criticism of Obama is a bit of a throwback. Back in the day, I talked about how Obama would sporadically have flashes of brilliance and inevitably retreat toward mediocrity. Or as I said in January (it seems so long ago):

Now, I've watched Obama on and off for some time since he ran (or, more accurately, walked) against Alan Keyes in Illinois. I'd heard him speak a couple of times and was inspired by his appearance at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. But as his voting record evolved in the Senate, I grew disappointed in his lack of progressivism. David Sirota wrote:
Despite his anti-war positions as a candidate in 2004, Obama's second vote as a U.S. Senator was in support of confirming Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State. He also voted to confirm John Negroponte as Director of National Intelligence, despite Negroponte's involvement in Iran-Contra and other situations that clearly raise questions about his ethics and discretion. Obama also voted for a bill to limit citizens rights to seek legal redress against abusive corporations. During the bankruptcy debate, he helped vote down a Democratic amendment to cap the abusive interest rates credit card companies could charge. And now, Obama cast a key procedural vote in support of President Bush's right-wing judges.
I agreed with Sirota and determined that Obama wasn't living up to my expectations for leadership. Consequently, Obama slowly fell off my radar as he devolved in my opinion.
Of course, those judges that Obama helped confirm were Alito and Roberts who recently voted against restoring habeas corpus, among their plethora of infractions. I was also disappointed in Obama's lack of support for Ned Lamont, whose campaign I delved deep to donate to because he was within striking distance of unseating our current McCainiac menace, Joseph Benedict Lieberman (you owe me 50 bucks, Obama!). And while the leadership concerns I had then were assuaged somewhat by--among other things--the incredibly gutsy speech on race he gave during the primary, it will take more evidence of audacity in Obama to make me completely comfortable.

True, you may consider my bringing up old grievances now that Obama has clinched the nomination as being analogous to marrying someone only to spend the entire honeymoon complaining about how they leave the cap off the toothpaste. And there might be some of that here. But as went the beginning of his primary campaign, in which Obama got all mediocre on us, so goes the beginning of his general election campaign. As Thomas Edsall says:
Barack Obama faces the difficult task of shifting his message away from the primary electorate to general election voters, while avoiding angering the more liberal primary voters who gave him the presidential nomination.

Obama appears at the close of this week to have overcome one of his first hurdles -- a furor among labor and activist leaders over his choice of a campaign director of economic policy.

On another potentially dangerous front -- building a general election foreign policy team -- there is less danger of hostile reaction to the integration of Hillary Clinton advisers into the Obama organization.
Yes, indeed, Obama faces the difficult task of abandoning the values he espoused during the primary--the ones that got all those invaluable energetic, motivated young liberals (remember them?) involved in his campaign--for new values that will appeal to people whose voting behaviors are about as stable as Britney Spears. And while I can forgive Obama for Jason Furman, thanks in part to Paul Krugman (just kidding about that "rational" crack, Krugman), I'm deeply skeptical of Hillary's foreign policy team. The Cold War is over, and some of us would like it to stay that way.

Beyond these general policy concerns/complaints/grumblings, there are the campaign's procedural problems. For instance, I'm fairly confident that the Jim Johnson story was blown out of proportion, but seriously, why didn't Obama learn from McCain's housecleaning fiasco? He doesn't have the time that McCain had to make these mistakes, so it would be helpful if he could just let McCain make them for him. Also, right now, I have to wonder whether or not Obama is going to crazy town:
Reaching out to the faith community is a priority for Barack Obama and will be a priority under an Obama Administration. This is one of several meetings he will have over the coming months with religious leaders.
Yeah. Because the "faith community" has been so freakin' ignored for the last seven years that we were almost starting to think that they ran only the Executive and Legislative Branches rather than the entire government. I understand that being President means you have to be President of everyone, but at some point, crazy town should have to fend for itself for a while. Then again, as long as Obama doesn't give a speech at Bob Jones "University", he's still better than McCain in that respect.

OK. Now that I've gotten all that out (and since I can't remember what else I had in mind to gripe about), I have to say that Obama has a real opportunity this election. It's a challenge having so many people expect so much from one person--or, rather, one group of people--but I know that, if anyone can live up to the challenge right now, it's Obama. He proved it with his speech on race and with his determination to not take PAC or lobbyist money this election. Understanding that what we, as a country, need most right now is confidence in our government again is the first, biggest step. Now, all he has to do is be unflaggingly brilliant all the time. That shouldn't be so hard.

Can I just say that my real reason for writing this post is that its title reminds me of this:

That's a lot of words for one stupid dancing banana.

Nothing New byslag at 9:31 PM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Other People's Genius: Primary Transition Edition

I wasn't going to post anymore on the primaries anytime soon, but some issues that erupted during the primaries are still relevant for the general election.

* First, not enough people know Obama's legislative record (still!). Droogie6655321 at Dkos presents a great run-down of some of Obama's legislative record, including my favorite of all his bills:

Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006

This act of Congress, introduced by Senators Obama and Coburn, required the full disclosure of all entities or organizations receiving federal funds in FY2007.

Despite a "secret hold" on this bill by Senators Ted Stevens and Robert Byrd, the act passed into law and was signed by President Bush. The act had 43 cosponsors, including John McCain.

The act created this Web site, which provides citizens with valuable information about government-funded programs.

You just can't beat a bill that results in the creation of a web site. Seriously, droogie's run-down is a quick, easy must-read to get yourself educated on Obama's record.

* Second, A Whole New G posted a letter written by Tim Wise (an academic/activist) to Hillary supporters claiming to vote McCain this fall:

...When I say your whiteness is showing this is what I mean: You claim that your opposition to Obama is an act of gender solidarity, in that women (and their male allies) need to stand up for women in the face of the sexist mistreatment of Clinton by the press. On this latter point--the one about the importance of standing up to the media for its often venal misogyny--you couldn't be more correct. As the father of two young girls who will have to contend with the poison of patriarchy all their lives, or at least until such time as that system of oppression is eradicated, I will be the first to join the boycott of, or demonstration on, whatever media outlet you choose to make that point. But on the first part of the above equation--the part where you insist voting against Obama is about gender solidarity--you are, for lack of a better way to put it, completely full of crap. And what's worse is that at some level I suspect you know it. Voting against Senator Obama is not about gender solidarity. It is an act of white racial bonding, and it is grotesque.

If it were gender solidarity you sought, you would by definition join with your black and brown sisters come November, and do what you know good and well they are going to do, in overwhelming numbers, which is vote for Barack Obama. But no. You are threatening to vote not like other women--you know, the ones who aren't white like you and most of your friends--but rather, like white men! Needless to say it is high irony, bordering on the outright farcical, to believe that electorally bonding with white men, so as to elect McCain, is a rational strategy for promoting feminism and challenging patriarchy. You are not thinking and acting as women, but as white people. So here's the first question: What the hell is that about?...

Yeah...what the hell is that about?

* Third, the Atlantic offers a story on what they term "Obama's Money Machine":
...Obama is a gifted politician by anyone’s measure, but what distinguishes him from earlier insurgents is his ability to fully harness the excitement that his candidacy has created, in votes and in dollars. Three forces had to come together for this to happen: the effect of campaign-finance laws in broadening the number and types of people who fund the political process; the emergence of Northern California as one of the biggest sources of Democratic money; and the recognition by a few Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and venture capitalists that the technology and business practices they had developed in their day jobs could have a transformative effect on national politics...
Hey...I hear that "machine" is actually made up of people. While once again, voters are treated as commodities by the press, this story actually does give some insight into Obama's success.

Happy Other People's Genius Friday!

Nothing New byslag at 5:48 PM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Sap You Can Totally Believe In

From lots o' places:

Barack Obama Explains the Meaning of Life

June 12, 2008 2:43 PM

At a town hall meeting in Kaukauna, Wisc., Thursday afternoon, amidst questions about health care and the economy, a young man said he had a question for Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, and Obama should "please be as intellectual or spiritual as you would like."

"Well this is a lot of pressure," Obama said to laugher.

"My question is: what does life mean to you?" the young man asked.

"Oh goodness," Obama said, a bit taken aback. "What does life mean to me?"

He stammered a bit as he contemplated the enormity of the query.

"Well, uh, I, uh…"

The crowd of 2,500 supporters at Kaukauna High School * laughed with apparent sympathy.

"I don't know where to start on a question like that," Obama said. "Let me just say a couple things. Right now what I think about most is my daughters who are 10 and 7," he said, referring to his daughters Malia and Sasha. "And not that I'm biased but they are perfect in all ways."

To the young man who asked the question, Obama said, "when I was your age, I thought life was all about me. And how do make my way in the world and how do I become successful and how do I get the things that I want. And right now life for me revolves around those two girls. And I think about what kind of a place am I leaving them."

And with that, came the able pivot.

"Michelle and I have been incredibly blessed," Obama said. "As long as God's looking over, my girls are going to be OK." They go to "great schools, will be able to afford college, are in good health and will be well cared for if they ever get sick.

But the country and the world they're living in, Obama said, needs work.

"Are they living in a county where there’s a huge gap between a few who are wealthy and a whole bunch of people who are struggling every day?" Obama asked. "Are they living in a county that is still divided by race?

"Are they living in a country where because they’re girls they don’t have as much opportunity as boys do?

"Are they living in a country where we are hated around the world because we don’t cooperate with other countries as effectively as we should? Are they living in a country where they are threatened by terrorism and a nuclear explosion could happen in a major American city? Are they living in a country in which because of a lack of sensible energy we are not only ransoming our future, but we’re also threatening the very livelihood of the planet?"

Obama continued, "what life means to me is that every day I wake up trying to figure out how can I secure their futures and the futures of all children, ...How can I make sure that we are giving a planet and a country to them that is better than the one we got? And, you know ,so I guess what I’ve discovered is that life doesn’t count for much unless you’re somehow giving yourself to something larger to yourself. And that’s part of my Christian faith. It’s also part of the reason I am running for president of the United States."


That's what life means to him. In case you were wondering.

While I wish Obama would lay off the God stuff (divisions), I have to say that his response to this question is incredibly touching. And I'm posting it now to balance a few "WTF Obama?" posts I've got on the horizon. You've been warned.

Nothing New byslag at 9:57 AM 5 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Does John McCain Realize That Cameras Record Things?

Courtesy of Jed Report:

Seriously. You really have to wonder.

Nothing New byslag at 9:49 PM 4 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

It's Go Time!: Why Does Michelle Malkin Hate America?

Via Atrios and from Salon, Fox "News" displayed this while bashing Michelle Obama:
And personally, I've had it. Guess what, Fux EwesTM, we're not taking your sexist, racist, jingoistic crap anymore! Michelle Obama is not "Obama's Baby Mama". Nor is she anti-American or elitist or anyone's whore. She's a mother, a wife, a lawyer, and soon-to-be First Lady of this country. And if you want to take her comments out of context and mold them to fit your own ridiculous narratives, that's fine. We'll play that game.

On November 24, 2007, Michelle Malkin--the jackass Fox brought in to question Michelle Obama's patriotism--called America a "tin foil hat nation". Personally, I find this kind of America-bashing quite shocking! Is this really the way you see our wonderful, glorious country, Michelle Malkin? Why do you hate America, Malkin? Why? Why? Tell us why!

Also, on November 27, 2005, Michelle Malkin talked about a "movie to make America proud." A movie? We don't need no stinking movie to "make America proud". America's already proud, Michelle! Why do you hate our country, Michelle Malkin? Why? Why? Are you a Hollywood elitist, Malkin? Are you? Is that what makes our country proud...Hollywood?!? Shame on you, Michelle Malkin! Shame on you!




OK. I feel better now. Needless to say...It's go time!

PS I'm too lazy to find any more examples of Michelle Malkin's anti-Americanism. But if anyone else feels so inclined, please let us know what you uncover about her devious unAmerican underbelly. Also, I'm curious to know if she has granite countertops.

Nothing New byslag at 9:38 AM 5 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Obama v. McCain: Elitist Tax Plans by the Numbers

From CNN (h/t Shanna):

Here's how the average tax bill could change in 2009 if either John McCain's or Barack Obama's tax proposals were fully in place.

Income Avg. tax bill Avg. tax bill
Over $2.9M -$269,364 +$701,885
$603K and up -$45,361 +$115,974
$227K-$603K -$7,871 +$12
$161K-$227K -$4,380 -$2,789
$112K-$161K -$2,614 -$2,204
$66K-$112K -$1,009 -$1,290
$38K-$66K -$319 -$1,042
$19K-$38K -$113 -$892
Under $19K -$19 -$567

Summary: Obama is such an elitist that he wants to raise taxes for rich people while significantly cutting them for middle class and poor people. John McCain is such a man of the people that he thinks "middle class" means having an income of $227K-$603K/year.

$200 McCain flag lapel pin anyone?

That said, John Edwards is still my favorite when it comes to economic justice. Now that Obama has the nomination, I'll look forward to asking why he can't be more like his brother Edwards on issues, such as these.

Nothing New byslag at 3:59 PM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Because Hillary's Supporters Persist in Making Me Crazy

Not a day goes by in which I don't hear or read that if Obama chose a female running mate who isn't Hillary Clinton, it would be "an insult to women". In order to truly grasp how infinitely stupid this argument is, let's go ahead and create a mock interview between Obama and his would-be female Vice-President, Jane Doe:

Obama: You know, Jane Doe, you're exceptionally well-qualified for this position, and I know that you and I would work really well together. And I'd love to put you on the ticket with me, but...

Doe: But....?

Obama: But you're a woman.

Doe: So.

Obama: I can't put a woman on the ticket unless it's Hillary Clinton.

Doe: Are you saying that if I were a man, you would put me on the ticket?

Obama: Without a doubt. But it's not as bad as it sounds. The reason I can't have a female Vice-President is that Hillary Clinton's supporters would protest. You see, Hillary has become a feminist icon, and her supporters say it would be an "insult to women" if I chose a woman that's not her for Vice-President.

Doe: Soooo...Let me get this straight...It is an "insult to women" for you to choose a woman who is not Hillary Clinton to be Vice-President. But it is not an "insult to women" for her supporters to assume that Hillary Clinton is the only woman in the entire United States who is capable of being Vice-President?

Obama: You got it.

Doe: And this is all because of feminism?

Obama: See. This is why I'd want you on my ticket. You're very quick to grasp these complex issues.

Doe: So, you're going to pick Hillary then?

Obama: Nope. Hillary and I wouldn't really be a good fit, and the country would suffer for it. It's going to have to be a man this time around.

Doe: How original.
[The End]

Great work, team! Way to fight the Man! Just between us, though, I wouldn't feel insulted if Obama chose a female Vice-President.

Nothing New byslag at 12:22 AM 9 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Abortion is the New Gay Marriage

Once again, the Republicans have a relative failure for a presidential candidate. So how are they going to get their sheepbase out to vote this election? trying to take away my rights, of course! (As if you even had to ask.) Actually, this year, it's the women in Colorado who are getting the rare opportunity to vote themselves into third-class citizendom:

DENVER (AP) — A proposed state constitutional amendment defining a fertilized human egg as a person was certified Thursday for the November ballot, moving Colorado a step closer to an election battle over abortion rights.

Secretary of State Mike Coffman said backers of the proposal turned in an estimated 103,000 valid signatures, far more than the 76,000 required.
Don't they know that if the law allows eggs to be people, next people will start marrying their chickens? Where's Man-on-dog Santorum when you need him?

Nothing New byslag at 10:10 PM 5 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Hillary's Speech: Profound Ambivalence to the End

I've held off on posting about Hillary's concession speech, because honestly, I wasn't sure how I felt about it. She's received rave reviews from many others, but for me, the proof was going to be in the polls. And happily, the polls are up for Obama, so as far as I'm concerned, she did a pretty good job.
That said, there was one part of her speech, in particular, that really, really rubbed me the wrong way. (I know, I should just let it go, but I need to put this thought somewhere and here's as good a place as any.) The part in question was when she said:

Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it's got about 18 million cracks in it.
As an Obama supporter who has a vested interest in gender equality, I take issue with the idea that I was part of "the man". One of the 86 gazillion (as long as we're making up numbers, might as well go big) holding that glass ceiling together by keeping poor Hillary Clinton--and women everywhere--down. I had thousands of reasons for my choice for president, and gender wasn't one. In reality, the fact that Hillary was a woman actually made it harder for me to not support her at first. While it's true that to argue that sexism wasn't an issue in this campaign would be absurd, for Hillary to blame sexism for her loss of this election is even more absurd. It may sound petty at this point, but these little things annoy me. From my point of view, gender inequality is a critical issue in this country--not a political tool.

I understand the frustration this woman from NARAL felt when she switched her support from Hillary to Barack after watching Hillary disingenuously use reproductive rights as a political tool:

Otherwise, it really was a good concession speech.

Nothing New byslag at 11:24 PM 6 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Obama Pwns teh Interwebs

The Guardian reports that Obama is "recruiting senior staff to a new unit which will combat virulent rumour campaigns on the internet that threaten to cost him votes in the presidential election against John McCain." As I've said before*, this task force is definitely the right way to go. Whatever the Obama campaign can do to bring some transparency to this election will be invaluable toward keeping it clean.

The problem of transparency might be the greatest paradox of the internet. In one respect, the internet brings us sites like wikileaks and opensecrets, whose entire purpose is to increase transparency in our society. In fact, the governmental transparency bill that both Obama and McCain worked on is my favorite Obama legislation. However, the flip side of the internet is that the sources for much of this information often remain obscured. And since we regularly use source as one method of filtering and validating information, the value of all this newly available information becomes suspect. Which raises the question, does the sheer quantity of information available on the internet make up for its dubious quality? Is our society actually more transparent, or is it just differently transparent?

Honestly, I haven't figured out the answer yet.

* Can I just say how exciting it is to watch a Democratic campaign do what I think it should do, for once? My next wish is that, when Obama campaigns in more conservative states (hooray for the 50 state strategy!), he avoids trying to sound like a Republican. That is, I'd like him to be able to communicate his more liberal values in a way that makes them palatable to conservatives rather than conservatizing the values themselves. Fingers crossed!

Nothing New byslag at 6:56 PM 4 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Things I Didn't Know Until I Went to John McCain's Website

JedReport has posted some excellent rebuttals of Little Green Fanatics' claims of anti-semitism on Obama's website.

In that spirit, I would like to share some things that I have learned by spending a little time on John McCain's website today.

1. Hillary Clinton is chanting "si si [sic] pueda", which actually means "I want the keys, I want the keys...", which is the "same thing" that Barack Obama is chanting in South Carolina. (This must be some kinda Eastern thing that I just don't understand.):

2. Apparently, both Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama are "b-tch" lawyers, a fact which clearly means that John McCain will win:

3. Aunt Jemimah is Obama's aunt, and he puts her syrup on his waffles:
4. By calling someone out for playing the race card, you are actually the one playing the race card...Just like Reverend Wright:

5. If we elect a woman or an "AA", we are going to open up a "whole can of worms with problems":

6. I, and other Obamabots, eat "Oreo" cookies and drink KoolAid:

Plus, Hillary kills people:

Posted at 8:44PM on 1/18/08 by JBStephens
Anybody who has Hillary as a VP needs to be very, very careful. If I were an insurance salesman, I would not sell that person a life insurance policy, if you know what I mean!
may make us kill ourselves:
Posted at 3:30AM on 9/15/07 by BradMarston
If we are not careful, MITT happens. If we are suicidal Hillary happens.
and is a she-devil:
Posted at 10:31PM on 2/2/08 by SouthernSpirit
HELLO DAVE, Senator McCain is an honorable and forgiving man. I admire him and respect him. However, I’m a mere mortal who would like nothing better than to “Taz” the “she-devil” off her pedestal. Tomorrow – NY
In the end, the most important lesson I've learned from spending time on McCain's website is that KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!

UPDATE: More fun on this topic from Americablog and Comments from Left Field. Apparently, the racist, misogynist, anti-semitic waters run deep in McCain country.

Nothing New byslag at 11:48 AM 4 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Obama Wins the Coveted Sci-Fi Geek Vote

For what it's worth, both Mark Hamill and George Lucas have joined the Obama for President rebellion. In his explanation, Lucas said:

"We have a hero in the making back in the United States today because we have a new candidate for president of the United States, Barack Obama," Lucas said when asked who his childhood heroes were.

Obama, "for all of us that have dreams and hope, is a hero," Lucas said.
John McCain refuses to hear the news of Lucas' endorsement of Obama:

Nothing New byslag at 1:41 PM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Speaking of Liars...

I sometimes get comments on this blog from right wingers reviling Barack Obama for supposedly making a comment that they perceive to be a lie. Now, I'm all fine and good with calling out people for making overtly incorrect statements, should they actually do so. But when the same right wingers go on to extol the virtues of Still President Bush, I honestly can't say that I truly understand where they're coming from. Let's look at Friday's WaPo article about the lead up to the Iraq War for example:

President Bush and top administration officials repeatedly exaggerated what they knew about Iraq's weapons and its ties to terrorist groups as the White House pressed its case for war against Iraq, the Senate intelligence committee said yesterday in a long-awaited report.

While most of the administration's prewar claims about Iraq reflected now-discredited U.S. intelligence reports, the White House crossed a line by conveying certainty about the threat that Saddam Hussein posed to the United States, according to the report, approved over the objections of most of the committee's Republican members.

"In making the case for war, the administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when it was unsubstantiated, contradicted or even nonexistent," Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), the committee chairman, said at a news conference. "As a result, the American people were led to believe that the threat from Iraq was much greater than actually existed."

I haven't posted on this Senate Intelligence committee report until now simply for the reason that it basically confirms old news. No one's surprised that Still President Bush was jonesing for war from day one and wasn't entirely forthcoming with facts as a result. Hell, back in 2006, people were posting Zork ripoffs about what was already an old joke by that time:

Iraqi Invasion: A Text Misadventure
Revision 88 / Serial number 54892

Oval Office
You are standing inside a White House, having just been elected to the presidency of the United States. You knew Scalia would pull through for you.

There is a large desk here, along with a few chairs and couches. The presidential seal is in the middle of the room and there is a full-length mirror upon the wall.

What do you want to do now?

You are not able to do that, yet.

Self-reflection is not your strong suit.

It's not that kind of seal.[...]

But at some point, we need to move beyond the "I told you so"s to figure out what we're going to do to fix the problem that we've created. I mean, these little deceptions are all fun and games until somebody (or A LOT of somebodies) gets killed; nonetheless, some questions remain. First, how do we get people to actually recognize what is and isn't a lie and how different lies can have vastly different effects? Second, how do we get Bush-lovers to actually look in the mirror? Upon reflection, maybe those are the same question.

Nothing New byslag at 10:45 AM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

We Have to Win

Obama gave an awesome speech to his staff and volunteers after clinching the nomination. At one point, he started talking about people who had lost their jobs and about towns that were dying from loss of industry and said:

When you see those things, you really do get this enormous sense of obligation. We really don't have an option now. When we were at the beginning of this thing in Iowa. If I had lost Iowa, you know, it would have been ok. One of the other Democrats would have emerged, and they would have carried the banner, and we would have joined their campaign. And we would have moved forward, and the country would move in a better direction. But because we won, we now have no choice. We have to win. We have to win...Understand that we're going to have to work twice as hard...Now, if we screw this up, all those people that I met who really need help, they're not going to get help...Now, everybody's counting on you. Not just me.

(h/t stillonline)

Obama does a great job re-rallying the troops in this video. Inspiring, humble, and real. Juxtaposing, in my mind, the speech he gave in this video with some others I've heard from him reminds me of an argument I used to have with a former co-worker and still good friend. He and I would regularly debate a variety of issues ranging from technology, to academia, to business. And one issue that we kept landing on (for a variety of reasons) was the true meaning of leadership. The position my friend took was that real leadership was almost a form of celebrity. That the ability to lead was a manifestation of the ability to inspire with big ideas, big words, and a big personality. My position was more that humility and depth were where leadership ability emanated from. There are people I know who, from their sheer generosity of mind and their utter lack of ego, can inspire endless loyalty and devotion. Their expectations of others may be high, but their expectations of themselves are much higher. And the thing that drives them isn't a quest for glory but a quest for goodness.

Normally, these two concepts of leadership appear mutually exclusive. Charisma, style, and grandiosity vs. subtlety, self-consciousness, and modesty. Or even, to some extent, emphasis on the individual vs. emphasis on the collective. And while my friend and I never came to a formal conclusion in our debate, at one point, we settled on a tenuous truce. We decided that leadership can be situational. In some organizations you need the celebrity and in others you need the heavy-lifter, and that was ok. Never had we discussed the possibility that one individual can be both those things. That one person can be both gregarious and unassuming, as the situation demands. Both charming and assiduous. Both generous and restrained. Maybe my friend and I lacked imagination.

Nothing New byslag at 10:32 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Michelle Obama "Whitey" Tape, "Terrorist Fist Jab" Saturday

The online controversy around a supposed video showing Michelle Obama ranting about "whitey" has been...well...tedious.

Luckily, John Cole has finally tracked down the tape for all to see. As he said, it's "not that shocking":

Neocons are now claiming that this "scandal" is bad for Barack Obama because people are willing to believe that a video exists. In other words, it's bad for Barack Obama that people can believe that neocons are slimy enough to take words out of context, put them together into a video, and use said video to proclaim that the black folks are, as always, out to get them (you know, typical "victimology 101"). And in reality, I agree that it's bad for Barack Obama that neocons are that stupid, mean, and easily frightened. But then, it's bad for the rest of us as well since we have to share a country with them and all.

For more fun and games, a Faux News moron had something unusual to say about the bump/pound/dap that Michelle initiated before Obama's speech on Tuesday (via atrios):

It is bad for Barack Obama that people are willing to believe that a video exists of he and Michelle making "a terrorist fist jab". In other words, it is bad for Barack Obama that neocons are slimy enough to take a moment of video, postulate absurdly ridiculous intent, and use said video to proclaim that the black folks are, as always, terrorists out to get them (you know, typical "victimology 101"). And in reality, I do think it's bad for Barack Obama that neocons are that stupid, mean, and easily frightened. But then, it's bad for the rest of us as well since we have to share a country with them and all.

But I repeat myself.

Honestly, there are times when I have very mixed feelings about my country. Somebody bring me a flag lapel pin! Stat!

Nothing New byslag at 4:49 PM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Other People's Genius: Endless Primary Edition

* First, Karen Tumulty at Time Magazine reflects on "How Obama Did It":

How did he do it? How did Obama become the first Democratic insurgent in a generation or more to knock off the party's Establishment front-runner? Facing an operation as formidable as Clinton's, Obama says in an interview, "was liberating ... What I'd felt was that we could try some things in a different way and build an organization that reflected my personality and what I thought the country was looking for. We didn't have to unlearn a bunch of bad habits."
By contrast, the Clinton campaign, which started out with superior resources and the mantle of inevitability, was a top-down operation in which decision-making rested with a small coterie of longtime aides. Her state organizers often got mixed signals from the headquarters near Washington. Decisions from Hillaryland often came too late for her field organization to execute. Obama's bottom-up philosophy also helps explain why he was able to sweep the organization-heavy caucus states, which were so crucial to building up his insurmountable lead in pledged delegates. What was not appreciated by many at the time: while Clinton spent heavily in every state she contested, Obama's approach saved money. Says Dean-campaign veteran Trippi: "His volunteers were organizing his caucus victories for free."
For being such a "naive and inexperienced" person, Obama's got some wicked leadership and management skilz.

* Michelle Goldberg at TNR says what we've all been thinking about femi-Clintonism:
This psychic wound is not Obama's fault, but it is his problem. Establishment feminism has not done itself proud using its noble struggle for social justice as an alibi for political hardball. But it represents women whose frustration and sense of unfairness are deeply felt, and those feelings need to be addressed.
Clinton and her feminist supporters, though, also have work to do, because their rhetoric of disenfranchisement has become destructive--witness the chants, during Clinton's speech on the night Obama won the nomination, urging her to continue on to the convention. It would be the grimmest irony imaginable if feminist irredentism helped elect a candidate as anti-feminist as John McCain. In recent weeks, Clinton has fashioned herself as a standard-bearer for women's rights. Ultimately, her work on behalf of Obama will show whether she means it.
I wish more people could separate out these issues.

* Jon Stewart gives us a relatively humorous primary overview:

Worth watching just to see Joe Scarborough being incredibly wrong (again).

Happy Other People's Genius Friday!

Nothing New byslag at 7:00 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Friday Zzzzzzzz Blogging

If my fur ball blogging thus far is remotely representative, it appears that all my cats do is sleep and play on computers.
I wonder where they get that from.

Nothing New byslag at 4:42 PM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Pat Buchanan Makes a Racist Comment...When Will We Learn?

Listening to the first hour of Rachel Maddow while doing some chores, I distinctly heard Pat Buchanan say that part of the reason Obama won the Democratic nomination was that he was an "articulate African-American" candidate. Now, I would guess that I've called Obama "articulate" at times (I'd have to go back and check) because I often apply that label to people, but in those times, I don't think I ever would have connected the ideas "African-American" and "articulate". True, Obama seems to mostly self-identify as African-American and people treat him as African-Amercian and, on Tuesday, he became the first African-American to achieve a major party presidential nomination. Yet there are often times when his blackness totally recedes from my immediate consciousness. Just like there are often times when I totally forget that Clinton is a white woman. Just like there are often times when I totally forget that McCain's an old white man. Nonetheless, just hearing Pat Buchanan put those words together was really jarring (and made me stop to write this post). As soon as I heard it, I thought to myself, "Dude...that 'articulate African-American' comment was racist."

Nothing surprising coming from Pat Buchanan, but I still wonder how many minority presidential candidates we're going to need to have before we learn to be more conscious of our words.


Nothing New byslag at 3:43 PM 5 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

The Real Question: Why Does Senator McCain Believe it's so Important to Run for Bush's Third Term?

In his speech on Tuesday, John McCain asked why Senator Obama believes it's so important to remind Americans that McCain is running for Bush's third term.
Or as Jed Report puts it:

Well, in the interest of helping one of our nation's most prominent (and confused) Republican senior citizens, here's my answer to Senator McCain: Because YOU ARE running for George W Bush's third term!

Or as Glenn Greenwald puts it:

On Wednesday, I documented John McCain's complete reversal of views -- in the last six months alone -- on FISA, warrantless eavesdropping and executive power. McCain's diametrically opposite views were contained in a questionnaire McCain completed for The Boston Globe last December (wherein he rejected many of the Bush/Cheney theories of presidential omnipotence and warrantless eavesdropping) and then a statement McCain issued this week to National Review (wherein he embraced those same theories in order to persuade the Right that he approves of and would continue Bush's lawless surveillance policies).
There are two critical conclusions highlighted by this episode: (1) whether McCain embraces the Bush/Cheney/Yoo theories of the omnipotent executive is, far and away, one of the most vital questions of the campaign, since the vast bulk of the radicalism and accompanying controversies of the last eight years -- from spying to detention to torture to extreme government secrecy -- arise out of those theories; despite that fact, those issues have been missing almost entirely from the media's coverage of the campaign -- until now; and (2) despite how central these issues have been, McCain is simply incapable of forming a coherent position on what he thinks about any of this, dramatically changing his answers almost from one day to the next depending on who is asking. This behavior, culminating in his embrace this week of the Bush/Cheney/Yoo theories, severely undermines the two attributes the media relentlessly uses to depict him -- his "moderate" ideology and his straight-talking, principled independence.
Or as my imaginary Tim Russert-McCain interview puts it:
Russert: Senator McCain--Today, the headline in the AP: "McCain Wins Bush's White House Embrace." Do you accept the support of President George W Bush?

McCain: I'm very honored and humbled.

Russert: Do you reject his support?

McCain: I just told you. I am eager for his endorsement.

Russert: You recently touted the idea of bombing Iran and the need for spending 100 years in Iraq. You do realize that George W Bush started the war in Iraq, don't you?
Or as Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow put it:

So, the real question is: Why, John McCain, why? Why do you insist on running for Bush's third term?

Nothing New byslag at 11:34 AM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

I Miss Sam Seder

Just sayin.

And no, Sam...I am the one with the power to see the future.

Air America sucks.


Nothing New byslag at 12:21 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Is Hillary Throwing Herself on the Feminist Sword

Hillary Clinton is now publicly using BET founder Bob Johnson to help negotiate a VP slot for her. One thing I've failed to understand throughout this primary is how, even until this point, so few people have really questioned Bob Johnson's place in a "feminist" campaign. As Tami said about Bob Johnson right after he defended Geraldine Ferraro's first horrendous statement:

Why would anyone listen to racial commentary from this man, who made his billions through promoting minstrelsy, and the objectification and denigration of women? BET remains a scourge on the black community and a hotbed of misogyny even years after Johnson's departure.
Which begs some questions: Now that Hillary has successfully seized the mantle of feminist icon, is she putting Johnson back in the spotlight in order to subtly remind everyone that, actually, she's not all that after all? Is this part of some magnanimous gesture to enable her ardent supporters to feel better about themselves for drifting away from their Joan of Arc? Is Hillary pushing Bob Johnson out as an open challenge to HuffPo writer Nina Burleigh to finally wonder aloud whether or not Hillary is "woman enough" to "repudiate the misogynistic undertone in rap music"? Or is this just another tone-deaf maneuver that only serves to remind us that Hillary and her supporters can be as sexist as they wanna be and still not be called out on it?

You gotta wonder.

Nothing New byslag at 5:19 PM 5 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Barack and Michelle Obama: Politics Meets Human Interest?

I don't think I've ever written a post about Barack Obama's personal life (or anyone's personal life beside my own, for that matter). But MFP and I noticed this little fist bump (or "dap") moment between Michelle and Barack Obama right before his speech last night, and we really appreciated it. While we didn't spend much time discussing it, I think I can speak for both of us when I suggest that the reason this moment was so sweet to us was that it signified equal partnership. Every relationship has its own language, and the simple realness of this moment says something meaningful about the Michelle-Barack dynamic. She's his touchstone at one of the most important and daunting moments of his life. And you know that, at those times in which the situation is reversed, he is hers. That's just the way it should be.

Go team!

Nothing New byslag at 3:49 PM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

John McCain, Putin, Germany, Nothing to See Here

President Putin of Germany...
Not sure what McCain was thinking here. But I do know that if Obama had made this mistake, right wing blogs would all get together and spend days blathering about how Obama doesn't know anything about foreign affairs and that because he's a Nazi appeaser, he thinks everyone's German, etc, etc. So, why don't liberals blow up little non-stories such as this quote to create McCain-Nazi-Fascist-Commi-Appeaser conspiracy theories?

Lack of forethought? Lack of imagination? Lack of infrastructure? Lack of interest?

I'm going with that last one.

(h/t Kerry So Very)

Nothing New byslag at 1:14 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Quit Whining

No doubt people are having some sullenly mixed feelings today after Barack's win and Hillary's lack of acknowledgment of Barack's win. As Steve Benen puts it:

In this sense, we’re in the midst of a vaguely surreal campaign dynamic. For nearly a year and a half, the biggest hurdle between Obama and the nomination was Hillary Clinton. Now that the race is over and Obama’s the nominee, his next biggest challenge is still Hillary Clinton.
Listening to Obama's speech last night, I know that I, myself, desperately wanted to feel the purity of the moment. For just one brief instance, I longed to tell myself that the trials and obstacles had all faded away and that hard work, talent, and ingenuity could, indeed, result in unqualified success. I wanted to believe that things were simple and straightforward and that just crossing the finish line ahead of everyone else would grant you some sort of amnesty from having to perpetually struggle to prove yourself and your value for just one day. But then I remembered that I don't live in a Disney film.

Listening to NPR on my way to the church of pugilism today (on a Wednesday!), I was frustrated by the fact that, yet again, Obama could not get a decent news cycle. I contemplated the disparity between what I heard in his speech last night and what I was listening to on the radio this morning. The McCain-Clinton team just keeps chugging along and nary a mention of Obama's brilliantly inspiring and historic victory speech: "What does Obama need to do to get Hillary; Hillary's supporters want her to keep going; Hillary can't fit a meeting with Obama into her very busy schedule." It was a shame.

During the first couple minutes of jumping rope during our warm-up, I was busily turning these thoughts over in my mind. And then, I skipped a beat in my rhythm and caught the rope on my foot, and it all made sense. Nobody's perfect; there is no unalloyed victory; and no matter how "in the zone" you are, there are always going to be outside forces working against you. I thought about this reality in relation to my own performance at the gym.

Every time I got frustrated by a problem I was having with my workout, I thought of all the people I know about--including Barack Obama--who are wonderfully smart, talented, and polished and who also have obstacles to overcome. And I remembered that, if people who are amazingly accomplished always have challenges, my own petty little stumbling blocks really shouldn't come as much of a surprise. So, instead of getting mad at myself for them or feeling like my entire performance was marred by them, I got over them. And, today, I decided that my challenges were going to be what made my workout worth the effort. If it were easy, there would be no point.

So, today, the challenges that Obama continues to face are what make his candidacy worth the effort. If it were easy, there would be no point. Let's quit whining.

Or as Batman reminds us:

What is the point of all those push-ups if you can't even lift a bloody log?

Nothing New byslag at 8:33 AM 4 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)


Obama is the presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee.

'nuff said.

UPDATE: The speeches from the three candidates tonight went in ascending order of bigness. From McCain to Clinton to Obama, it was clear the best, most encompassing and magnanimous speech was saved for last. Looking back after Obama finished speaking made McCain look terribly small and feeble. It was amazing.

UPDATE 2: Listening to Brian Williams fawn over a passage he read in John McCain's book made me wonder if he was going to need a moist towel afterward. This He-Man President image some of these people lust after is what has gotten us to where we are today. It's time that they save their private moments for home.

UPDATE 3: How Obama did it:

Obama's campaign mastered some of the most arcane rules in politics, and then used them to foil a front-runner who seemed to have every advantage — money, fame and a husband who had essentially run the Democratic Party for eight years as president.

"Without a doubt, their understanding of the nominating process was one of the keys to their success," said Tad Devine, a Democratic strategist not aligned with either candidate. "They understood the nuances of it and approached it at a strategic level that the Clinton campaign did not."
This is kind of old information, but it is one of my favorite explanations of Obama's win. It makes me think of something the Bad News Bears or some other scruffy, scrappy underdog challenger would have done. And it's easy to forget now, but at the start of this campaign, Obama was the scruffy, scrappy underdog. Obama forsook the big state strategy that Clinton and almost every other candidate before him employed. And while it cost him Big State bragging rights, it got the job done. So, it's kind of nice to see the underdog win sometimes. Even when it's not the biggest, grandest finish he could have had.
Requisite offensive Bad News Bears clip:

Nothing New byslag at 6:03 PM 5 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

The Obama Speech Some are Afraid of

From dday at Hullabaloo:

On the June 2 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio program, while discussing Sen. Barack Obama's presidential candidacy, Rush Limbaugh asserted that the Democratic Party was "go[ing] with a veritable rookie whose only chance of winning is that he's black."
I think we can take a look at the 230-year record of African-Americans in the electoral arena and make a decent judgment on this one. But this is standard-issue Nixonland backlash stuff. "The blacks" get the jobs, the government handouts, the special treatment, and now they're being handed the Presidency. That's the particular view of the world that Limbaugh is endorsing here. The Republican Party, demoralized and frustrated, is hoping to rile up the country with an identity politics-based campaign intended to speak to white people as a captive, persecuted minority against the big, bad un-American black majority waiting to install themselves in the White House and send every Caucasian to a re-education camp. As Jesse Taylor (welcome back!) at Pandagon writes, by the end of this campaign...
Obama is going to become Blackazoid, the Nubian Avenger, here to right all the perceived wrongs black people illegitimately feel were heaped on them since we solved racism in 1963...
In other words, people are afraid that Barack Obama, elitist liberal presidential appeaser, will turn into this:

What's a Nubian?
Barack Obama: Christo-Muslim-Atheist-Marxo-Fascist-Appeasing-Nubian-Elitist. I would try to acronym-ize this, but I'm sure there will be more.

Nothing New byslag at 4:40 PM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Gas Prices, GM, and More UnAmerican Whining from Me

Via Atrios:

Responding to a consumer shift to more fuel-efficient vehicles, General Motors said Tuesday that it would stop making pickup trucks and big S.U.V.s at four North American assembly plants and would consider selling its Hummer brand.
So...GM--the poster child for bass-ackward design--would finally consider giving up its Hummer brand (aka, the apogee of GM's lack of design achievement)? And this is in response to a consumer shift resulting from high gas prices? Way to follow up your antiquated design sensibility with an antiquated business strategery, GM!

Of course, no one could have predicted the breach of the gas prices. Until Hurricane Katrina in 2005, that is:
"Without the hurricane we had perceived a bounce in U.S. oil inventory,' Englund said. "But if refineries are out of commission because of damage or flooding for an unspecified period of time, it will shock the entire system and I expect firms will hold back their production."

This could send oil, gasoline and heating oil prices soaring higher than their current record levels.
But apparently, Toyota (aka, the Prius people) did anticipate the breach--way back in 1993:
By the end of 1993 the development team had determined that higher oil prices and a growing middle class around the world would require the new car to be both roomy and fuel-efficient. Other than that, they were given no guidance. "I was trying to come up with the future direction of the company," says Watanabe, who headed corporate planning at the time. "I didn't have a very specific idea about the vehicle."
Nonetheless, GM is still laying people off and whingeing about their situation:
“From the start of our North American turnaround plan in 2005, I’ve said that our goal is not just to return G.M. to profitability, but to structure G.M. globally for sustained profitability and growth,” the chief executive, Rick Wagoner, said in a statement announcing the restructuring.

“Since the first of this year, however, U.S. economic and market conditions have become significantly more difficult,” he said. “Higher gasoline prices are changing consumer behavior, and they are significantly affecting the U.S. auto industry sales mix.”
Of course, GM's business problems are nothing new. But then again, neither are their excuses or regressive products and attitudes. I just think it would be nice if, instead of making outmoded products and subsequent excuses, American industry would start making progress again.

Nothing New byslag at 9:49 AM 4 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Stereotypes and their Badness

With all the categorizations--old/young, white/black/hispanic, male/female, etc/etc--being tossed about during this Democratic primary, it can sometimes be easy to forget that we, as individuals, are more than the sum of our parts. While there are benefits to it, stereotyping can be dangerous when we do it to others and can sometimes be deadly when we do it to ourselves. Case in point, yet another "why do girls suck at math" study:

It's widely recognized that, in the US at least, there's a gender gap in performance on tests of basic skills: boys tend to perform better at math, while girls get superior reading scores. It has been suggested that these gaps are the result of biological differences, as males tend to have better spatial reasoning skills and females better word recall. But a new study suggests that, when it comes to math, we can forget biology, as social equality seems to play a dominant role in test scores...
Of course, this ground-breaking study comes out about a year to the date after a previous study, which arrived at a similar conclusion:
A popular stereotype that boys are better at mathematics than girls undermines girls’ math performance because it causes worrying that erodes the mental resources needed for problem solving, new research at the University of Chicago shows.

The scholars found that the worrying undermines women’s working memory. Working memory is a short-term memory system involved in the control, regulation and active maintenance of limited information needed immediately to deal with problems at hand.

They also showed for the first time that this threat to performance caused by stereotyping can also hinder success in other academic areas because mental abilities do not immediately rebound after being compromised by mathematics anxiety.
So, we know that laboring under stereotypes makes girls bad at math. But we also know that laboring under stereotypes also makes African-Americans bad at words:
Steele and Aronson’s classic demonstration of stereotype threat emerged from a series of studies in the mid-1990s in which high-achieving African-American students at Stanford completed questions from the verbal Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) under conditions where they thought either that the test was measuring intelligence or that it was not a test of ability at all. Intriguingly, these participants’ performance was much worse when they were told that the test was a measure of intelligence. This slide, the researchers argued, occurred because “in situations where the stereotype is applicable, one is at risk of confirming it as a self-characterization, both to one’s self and to others who know the stereotype.”
Imagine, if you must, how hard it is for African-American girls in our US culture of stereotypes.

"What about Asian girls?", you ask. Depends:
Studies conducted at Harvard University in 1999 by Margaret Shih and her co-investigators provide particularly good demonstrations of this point. The participants in this research were Asian women. In different conditions of the studies they were required to focus on the fact either that they were women (who are stereotypically worse at math than men) or that they were Asian (stereotypically better at math than members of other ethnic groups). As in Beilock and her colleagues’ work, in the former case the women performed worse than they did when no group membership was made salient. Yet in the latter case they did better.
If Asian girls think about being Asian, they do better at math. If not, they do worse. Wow!

What about Native American girls? Are there any left? I can't even find a study.

Obviously, there are tons of stereotypes to go through, and I'm sure they would all have their unique little twists and unexpected consequences. The question still remains: What do we do to combat them? According to Scientific American Mind, there are a variety of solutions, but the best one may be:
[A]dvocate group-based opposition to the status quo through a strategy of social competition that involves engaging in active resistance. Here group members work together to challenge the legitimacy of the conditions (and associated stereotypes) that define them as inferior—trying to change the world that oppresses them rather than their reactions to the existing world. They work to counter the stereotypes that are tools of their repression with stereotypes that are tools of emancipation. This strategy was precisely what activists such as Steve Biko and Emmeline Pankhurst achieved through black consciousness and feminism, respectively. They challenged the legitimacy of those comparisons and stereotypes that defined their groups as inferior and replaced them with expressions of group pride. They were (as one supporter said of Pankhurst) “self-dedicated reshaper[s]of the world.” And the more their opponents invoked stereotypes against them, the more they acted collectively to contradict those stereotypes and reveal their claims to legitimacy as a lie.
In other words...revolt?...I like it!

Nothing New byslag at 1:58 PM 5 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Sunday Wii Blogging

This weekend has been all about Wii Super Mario Galaxy (along with being all about DNC stupidity, war, and isms--sex, race, pugil). If I were a good little Obamabot, I would be GOTVing right now, but instead, I'm blogging while MFP is traveling through galaxies racking up coins, star bits, and super stars.

Short review: So far, the best and most challenging part of the game is that it forces you to quickly adapt to ever-changing spacial relationships and perspectives. For instance, the gravity in a board can change in a second, so what used to be up has suddenly become down, and your game play needs to be modified accordingly. Surprisingly, having to modify your game play quickly like this can be a real mind-bender. That said, the puzzle element that made Mario 64 so challenging seems to have been dumbed down quite a bit in Mario Galaxy. So, finding all the stuff you need in order to move on to the next board actually requires less time and thought. In a way, this change of focus from more intellectual/sleuthing problems to more physical/spacial challenges actually makes sense in the context of Nintendo's shift to a gaming platform that relies more on physical movements than complex button combinations. Nonetheless, I, personally, get more gratification from figuring stuff out than I do from jumping at the exact right moment or skillfully navigating a treacherous environment. But that's probably just me.

Bonus: The only playing position officially sanctioned by the 2008 Wii-lympics committee:

Nothing New byslag at 3:30 PM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Hillary's Graceful Exit

Before heading off to the church of pugilism this morning, I saw this video of a Hillary supporter getting the boot from the DNC meeting:

My immediate reaction after seeing this video was, as might be expected, one of anger and resentment. MFP was privy to--and gladly participated in--more than a few of my sarcasm-asms as we were getting ready for the gym this morning. And had I time to post then, you would be reading a very different (and probably more exciting) post than you're reading now. But--as often happens at the church of pugilism--while moving in with my jab and out with my powerhand, I came to two realizations. One: spending a week doing little more than working on the computer and eating junk food apparently does nothing to improve my punching speed. And two: I'm not actually angry at Harriet Christian--"proud older American woman" of New York City. And while it's true that Harriet Christian was simply verbalizing what has become the entire essence of Clinton's campaign these days, I'm not even angry at Hillary Clinton. Instead, I honestly feel bad for them.

Now, before you think my brain has gone to the endorphins or the other way around, think about it for a moment. These women who see themselves as having fought gender inequality their entire lives are now coming to realize that their fight isn't what it used to be. Sure, they tell themselves that young whippersnappers, such as myself, don't understand what it's like to be discriminated against by gender or don't recognize sexism when we see it. They tell themselves that we don't know our history and would be surprised to find that women actually had to fight for the right to vote or for the reproductive rights that are being eroded away while we take them for granted. They tell themselves that we think we live in a post-feminist world and don't see that women often have to work twice as hard as men do in order to have the same opportunities and be treated with equal respect.

But deep down, these women know that it's not the fight for equality that has changed but, instead, it's the rules we're fighting with that have changed. Deep down, they know that young whippersnappers, such as myself, see gender inequality as having the exact same root cause as racial inequality. As being supported by the very institutional structures that they've unknowingly been apart of their entire lives. As sometimes even being buttressed and fortified by proud older American women, such as themselves. And deep down, these proud older American women are realizing that the equality they feel they've worked for their entire lives is now suddenly passing by without them. So, instead of being proud older American women, they've suddenly become proud old American women. And that's kind of sad.

In a way, I can't blame them for wanting to take the rights--for which they've worked so hard--away from young whippersnappers, such as myself, by campaigning and voting for John McCain. But I'll probably be glad to blame them if it works.

Nothing New byslag at 1:51 PM 6 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Good News!

We've won in Iraq!

Can we leave now? Before more of this happens? And while we're at it, can we stop doing this? Pretty please?

Time to go home.

Nothing New byslag at 12:10 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

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