Who's Being Presumptuous Now, McCain?

Rachel Maddow went off on the whole Presumptuous Obama meme (among other things) on her show today, and it's well worth listening to:

In her polemic, she criticizes the media for failing to fully scrutinize McCain's statements before perpetuating them as well as for not asking the basic question: "Why is it ok for McCain to unquestionably LIE about Barack Obama without making the story about why John McCain needs to lie?". While we've all grown accustomed to this Orwellian world in which we live now, I always like it when people put on the brakes and challenge the status quo the way Rachel has here. Beyond that, she calls out the "presumptuous" meme very specifically for its obvious underlying prejudice.

The facts of the matter are that Obama has been the one running the professional campaign (as he was during the primary), and McCain has been looking like a second-rate third party candidate in every single appearance he makes. But, for whatever reason, Obama's political deftness makes him look "presumptuous" while McCain's ads calling him "President" get a free pass. As Frank Rich noted recently, Obama's national security plans for Iraq and Iran were being co-opted worldwide while McCain was busy checking his cue cards for the price of milk in front of the cheese case at the grocery store. Obama is the one that drew a 200,000-person crowd for his speech in Germany while McCain is the one that called Vladimir Putin the President of Germany. Obama was the one making jumpshots for our troops in the Middle East while McCain was back home discussing the border between Iraq and Pakistan.

Ever since McCain's green screen speech went head-to-head with Obama's nomination acceptance speech, one of the two candidates has appeared presidential. And it is the one who's currently being called "presumptuous" by the Republic of Media. Part of the irony of Mark Halperin of Time Magazine's claim that the media's coverage has been "pro-Obama" is the fact that the data actually indicate that the media has been very anti-Obama. And part of the irony of the media's having been overwhelmingly more negative about Obama than they have been about McCain (72% to 57%) is the reality that Obama's campaign has been inordinately better--by any measure other than media manipulation--than John McCain's campaign has been. So, here we have a presidential campaign that has been almost inarguably superior to the other, a media that has been almost inarguably harsher on it, and a claim being perpetuated that the media is biased toward the campaign they've been harsher on (the SUPERIOR campaign!). Now, the candidate running the superior campaign is being called presumptuous...for being superior? Honestly, if this whole situation isn't an example of extreme prejudice, I don't know what is.

Or as Jon Stewart puts it:

The McCain train wreck...is absolutely right on schedule...The message that he's banking his campaign on now is this: The one thing that's more powerful than hope and change is pity.
Maybe the press is giving McCain the pity vote.

Nothing New byslag at 6:15 PM 5 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

And the Beat Goes On...

What a shock! This election is a referendum on...the Democrat:

HALPERIN: There’s been a little bit of the paradigm shift. I think that McCain web video might have had the same effect as the Saturday Night Live parody that…on the Clinton/Obama race. I think some reporters recognize going forward if we replicate the way the coverage has been, the imbalance, the unfair pro-Obama coverage going forward, it would do a disservice in the general election. This…whenever I go on TV and say, ‘this election is about a referendum on Obama, that’s the whole thing,’ those guys with the Cheetos on the end of their fingers…

BRZEZINSKI: [laughs] Exactly…

HALPERIN: …attack me and say, ‘that’s just some dodge, it’s about McCain too’. McCain deserves scrutiny and he’ll get some...
How many times are we going to hear that John McCain will eventually get some scrutiny? I remember Tim Russert making that very claim on the night Obama won the Democratic nomination. When was that again? Oh, that's right--two months ago. And when are we going to stop making the ridiculous claim that the reason this election is a referendum on Obama is that he's new? Whenever one political party does nothing but attack and the other political party does nothing but defend, the referendum is always on the party on defense. This is nothing new. The 2000 election was a referendum on Al Gore's personality and the Clinton administration (Yep, that government neophyte Al Gore sure had a lot to prove back then). The 2004 election was a referendum on John Kerry's personality and war record (Apparently, the Alabama Air National Guard just wasn't good enough for Kerry). Now, this election is a referendum on...imagine that...Obama's personality and well...social status (John McCain--the humble every man who wears $500 shoes and owns 7 houses). Hell. I'm on Obama's side, and even I'm mostly seeing this election as a referendum on him. That's not right.

This entire "referendum on ____________(D)" tradition will continue until a Democratic presidential candidate draws a line in the sand. At the beginning of this election, Obama claimed that he will not put up with attacks on his patriotism. What has he been doing lately? Putting up with attacks on his patriotism. Obama claimed that he will not put up with attacks on Michelle. What has he done? Put up with attacks on Michelle. Sure, he's stated that these attacks are not nice and beneath John McCain, etc, but really, is there anyone who didn't already know that? What people want to see him do is defend himself like he would defend this country. People (and by "people", I mean mostly me) don't know that they can trust someone who won't call out the B.S. for what it is. Not just mean or "dishonorable" but...let's just say it..."irrational" and "divorced from reality".

We gave Obama the benefit of the doubt with regard to Clinton's dishonest attacks because she was a Democrat, and we saw where he was coming from when he said that he didn't want to create intra-party divisions. So, he let her do it instead. Now, he's letting McCain's Republic of Media take him down. And he's apologizing for someone else's rap lyrics (Oh. Did we forget to remind you that Obama's black?). Nothing says "strong leader" like apologizing for something you didn't do.

Hello 2004. Nice to see you again.

UPDATE: Apparently, McCain is now being called by the Republic of Media "The Unhappy Warrior". Seriously. Apparently, "The Lying A--hole" was already trademarked.

UPDATE 2: Atrios officially wins the internets. If you don't get it, watch this:

Nothing New byslag at 2:33 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Just Words

Following up on WNG's suggestion that we rid ourselves of euphemisms during this presidential campaign, I propose we start with the following euphemisms:

  1. White Voters. Rule: No more using the term "white voters" when what we mean is "racist" or "ignorant" white voters. Rationale: Strangely enough, use of this euphemism comes off as racist...toward everyone.
  2. Regular People. Rule: No more using the term "regular people" when what we mean is "racist white" or "ignorant white" people. Rationale: See above rationale and then think about it for a moment.
  3. Women. Rule: No more using the term "women" when what we mean is "white women" or, more specifically, "old white women" or, even possibly, "racist white women". Rationale: See above and add "sexist".
  4. Old. Rule: No more using the term "old" when what we mean is "foolish", "irrational", "simplistic", "incompetent", "closed-minded", "incoherent", "out of touch"... Rationale: Old people don't like it. Trust me.
  5. Wise/Wisdom. Rule: No more using the terms "wise" or "wisdom" when what we mean is "old/age". Rationale: Wise people don't like it.
More words?

Nothing New byslag at 4:03 PM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

"College-Educated" Doesn't Necessarily Equal "Not Dumb"

I'm not sure what has changed, but for the last week or so, I've been enjoying listening to Race for the White House on Rachel Maddow's show more than I have in the past. I can't tell if the show's gotten funnier, Rachel's gotten stronger, or if last week's events have just left me in a slightly better mood, but there it is. For once, I'm not going to whine about it. However, what I am going to make fun of is Tony Blankley, the very serious right-winger on the show whose gravitas is evident through his mild British accent and his ability to confidently make very stern-sounding statements unsupported by any facts whatsoever. Here, he proves the important point that having a college education doesn't necessarily make a person less dumb. When arguing about the admittedly fact-free McCain ads and attacks, Blankley says:

Let me just make a quick point...I have two post-graduate degrees. These ads hit me pretty well. I don't think it's just uneducated people. I think these are powerful messages that a lot of people are going to pay attention to.[emphasis orig]
Keep in mind, he makes this statement after everyone has agreed that the recent attacks McCain's been making aren't founded in fact. So, essentially, Blankley is admitting that he's educated enough to know he's being lied to; he just doesn't care. Not only are facts (aka reality) not going to impact his feelings about Obama or McCain, but the fact that he's being lied to--straight out--about an issue he supposedly takes very seriously really doesn't bother him at all. In fact, it bothers him so little that he actually allows the lies to help form his perceptions. Now, to me, that's borderline sociopathic, but whatevs.

Nonetheless, bizarrely, that's not even the point about this clip that interests me most. The part that interests me the most precedes Blankley's statement, and it's about the people that John McCain is actually trying to convince with these patently false attacks:
Smerconish: But he's playing at such a base level...I think this a very calculated strategy to reach a certain segment of the electorate--non-college educated folks--let's call it out...who may buy into the notion that Barack Obama is responsible for high gas prices...and we look at it and we look at it and say, "Who's going to believe this? This doesn't pass the smell test." I'm telling you that they're playing to the states that you've identified, David, and the non-college educated electorate in those areas.

Harwood: David, I want to know if Smerc is saying those voters are dumb.

Smerconish: I'm saying that the McCain campaign thinks, "We can reach dumb voters with this kind of an ad"...
Here's the deal. We need to stop using euphemisms--such as "non-college educated"--to talk about dumb people, such as Tony Blankley. Besides being inaccurate (obviously), I think it's somewhat offensive. In my life, I know many, many college educated people--mostly PhDs. I also know a few non-college educated people. And you know what? The smartest ones--the ones least likely to fall for this kind of crap--are the non-college educated people. I'm not suggesting that Smerconish is entirely wrong here and that there isn't a strong correlation between lack of college education and willful ignorance. I'm saying that, by using the term "non-college educated", not only are we not including idiots like Tony Blankley in our assessment (ie, we're giving some college educated folks more credit than they deserve). But we're also demeaning those people who don't necessarily have a degree but are savvy and thoughtful enough to know and resent it when they're being lied to about issues that are important to them.

In other words, I like Harwood's term "dumb" better. But more accurately, to make sure we include Tony Blankley and others like him, we should maybe go with "willfully dumb" or "ignorant" and "willfully ignorant". Or...maybe that's not right either. Maybe "irrational" is the right word. As in, John McCain--the very serious-minded, highly experienced conservative--is going for the "irrational" vote. I think it works. What say you?

Nothing New byslag at 6:38 PM 8 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Truth or Consequences?

June 7th, John McCain reiterates his call for "the politics of civility" (Economist).

July 14th, John McCain impugns Obama's motives for wanting to withdraw troops from Iraq, saying Obama "would rather lose the war to win a political campaign." (WaPo)

July 26th
, John McCain endorses Iraqi-proposed timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq. (NYT)

July 27th
, John McCain releases an ad falsely claiming that Obama couldn't be bothered to make time for the troops during his trip (the same trip in which he was bothered to make time for the troops). (Carpetbagger)

July 28th
, John McCain says: "Senator Obama just views this war as another political issue with which he can change positions." (WaPo)

Apparently, in their haste to "report" Senator McCain's statements attacking Barack Obama, much of the press ignores the reality that said statements lack actual facts.

On an unrelated note, the "liberal media" is biased...toward mistakenly thinking it's "liberal".

Nothing New byslag at 12:27 PM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Marxist Musings

I'm mildly bemused by this recent Sadly, No! post:

A couple of days ago, Jesse Taylor got a piece of something when he associated Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism with the outraged gabbling and honking that we’ve been hearing from the right wing in regard to the popularity of Barack Obama. Obama is, we have been hearing, too popular. His Messianistic campaign of so-called ‘hope’ is nothing short of a personality cult. The closest political cognate to Barack Obama is Adolf Hitler.1
The reason for my bemusement is can be summed up in two words: no. duh. Or as I said back in January:
We don't need any tea leaves to tell us what methods Republicans are going to use in their attempt to take him out. Jon Swift has humorously laid out a version for us in some detail. In reality, they started their Obama-is-a-Muslim whispering campaign many moons ago. This whisper is all they need to keep their 30% happy. Now, they're sending that tool, Jonah Goldbrick, out to try to connect liberalism to fascism by reducing liberalism down to a gooey homogeneous "unity" mass with a little sprinkling of organically grown totalitarianism on top (and they wonder why we accuse them of projecting). Toss in David Brooks' hint that Obama's "unity" virtue is less "classical" and more Islamic-al, and you've got yourself a full-on Islamic Fascist in the White House (complete with his own week-long celebration) post election day.

David Brooks and the other neocon uni-tards in the media are going to provide the path for them to get their argument out of the 30% crazy land mass and moved toward the middle. They'll start by continuing to drip this "fascist liberal unification" concoction into every ounce of their rhetoric. And when you bring up the reality that everyone runs on bridging divisions, you'll get, "GW Bush, Uniter, Not a Divider? Clearly, you're a crazy revisionist historian." They'll keep throwing in a few "Osama (oh, I mean, Obama)'s" here and there along with some "Hussein"s just to keep their 30% on message. Then, the neocon media middlemen will start using every possible Obama hiccup to withdraw whatever faux support they claimed to have mustered for Obama during the campaign. Many of these "hiccups" will look to the rest of us like rational progressive leadership...
I really have no comment here other than to point out how utterly, tragically predictable Republicans can be. Really. It makes me sad for them. This entire presidential campaign can be boiled down to a single faux contretemps:
Democrats: McCain's economic, national security, and health care "strategies" are utterly nonsensical. His plan for education is non-existent. And he doesn't appear to be all that bright.
Republicans: Oh yeah. Well...Yo mama is a Marxist!
Or as John Cole explains:
You see, with the modern right-wing, what you do, and what you say, and how you vote are irrelevant. What really matters is the true meaning that only they can derive by taking something you said out of context, distorting it, and then adding some convoluted malicious intent. Then they repeat it over and over and over again.
And John should know. Given that he was one of them. But there's hope in the fact that people like John do eventually make it out alive. There's also hope in the fact that, in this election, Republicans were expecting, as per tradition, the Democratic nominee to run screaming from any hint of controversy on any of these areas. But that's not happening in Obama's case. He willingly gave a huge speech in Germany, of all places, and he even talked about uniting Christians and Jews and (gasp!) Muslims during said speech. It's almost as if he's baiting the Republican hatemongers rather than the other way around. He knows there's no hiding, so might as well show them all for the reprobate they are. That's the good news. The bad news? We still have three months left until the election.

Nothing New byslag at 4:49 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

In Germany, Obama Tosses Bloggers Some Love


When we stand for the human rights of the dissident in Burma, the blogger in Iran, or the voter in Zimbabwe...
From what I can tell, Obama's talking about this guy:
Amir Farshad Ebrahimi, Iranian journalist and blogger living in Germany, was detained in Turkey for the last two days.

Ebrahimi was arrested at the request of Iranian authorities yesterday when he got off a flight from Germany at an Istanbul airport.

According to Ebrahimi, an Iranian intelligence officer who identified himself as Mohammad Taghi Esfahani presented an official document to the Turkish police, demanding that Ebrahimi be immediately deported to Iran.

Because of the intervention of an US diplomat and international NGOs, Ebrahimi was released at noon on Friday. He took a plane back to Berlin, Germany, and arrived there in the afternoon.

I found this reference by Obama particularly interesting because, of all the things he could have talked about, he chose to mention a "blogger". Based on what I've read, Mr. Ebrahimi could easily be described as a "journalist" or a "writer" for those interested in masking their associations with the great unwashed. But nope. Obama goes ahead and uses the dreaded b-word. My guess is there are two reasons for this mention:
  1. He knows we're pissed at him and he wants to soften our ire.
  2. He wants to remind people that he's a person of the 21st century unlike his opponent.
Sounds like Joe Scarborough needs to send Obama a bag of Cheetos*.

*Does anyone actually eat these bags of chemical-laden neon cardboard anymore? If so, I strongly recommend a switch to Barbara's Cheese Puffs. They're highly addictive.

Nothing New byslag at 3:01 PM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Compare and Contrast: Obama and McCain Go to Germany

Obama goes to Germany:

McCain goes to Germany:

We report. You decide.

Nothing New byslag at 8:20 AM 4 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Friday Other People's Cat Blogging


(via Crooks and Liars)

Nothing New byslag at 8:14 AM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

More McCain, Please

So, John McCain complains that the media is obsessed with Barack Obama:

It's pretty obvious that the media has a bizarre fascination with Barack Obama.
Who am I to disagree?:
I'll admit it. I find John McCain excruciatingly boring. Not just dull or spiritless, mind you. Boring--straight up. I'm only saying this now as a way of explaining why I don't talk about him much. Or ever, really. And to some extent, I can empathize with the Republic of Media for not talking about him much either. Or ever, really. However, in our defense, McCain doesn't exactly have a whole lot going for him. His intelligence? Questionable. His wit? Morbidly banal. His capacity for development? Ummm...he's both OLD and CONSERVATIVE...he might as well have been petrified in amber back in 1972...
So (and this will probably be one of the few times I say this), I'm on John McCain's side on this one. The media should definitely cover him more.

Starting with this:
So McCain is going to NOLA tomorrow to do an event to tout off-shore oil drilling, flying out to a rig on a helicopter, trying to be all Jack Bauer the oil man. His agenda: demonstrate how easy, safe, and important more offshore drilling is.

But there's a problem: today, on the eve of this stunt, there was a huge oil spill in NOLA...
But, wait a second. I thought oil didn't spill!?!

One possible benefit of a McCain presidency: He can make an environmental disaster...hilarious. Sorry, Louisianans.

UPDATE: It would also be cool if the press could report on this too:
The major Sunni sheik who John McCain said was protected by the surge and subsequently helped lead the Anbar Awakening, was actually assassinated by an al-Qaeda led group in midst of the surge.
I hope this isn't the part of our program in which the bottom has officially fallen out of the McCain campaign, and he magically reinvigorates it to come back and win. Cuz that would suck. I'm just glad that Obama is so much better than all of the GOP losers he was up against before. Combined.

Nothing New byslag at 2:37 PM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

John McCain: I Don't See How We Can

from JedReport.

In other news: Barack Obama represents 60% of the American people and an important ally. According to our esteemed press, this makes him just like Still President "Don't forget Poland" Bush.

Nothing New byslag at 2:11 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

A Gift

for WNG.

I'm not a drinker, so I'll take her word for it.

Nothing New byslag at 11:28 AM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Ante Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc*

Honestly, this is a big, big, big deal, so I'm surprised more people aren't blogging about it right now:

John McCain, in response to a question from CBS anchor Katie Couric, demonstrated bizarre confusion about the basics of the U.S. surge policy in Iraq. McCain got the basic timeline and history of the surge backwards, insisting that the surge prompted the Anbar Awakening, which is the opposite of reality.
The Anbar Awakening was starting well before the surge was being discussed.
Or, as Olbermann put it:

McCain: I don’t know how you respond to something that is as– such a false depiction of what actually happened. Colonel McFarlane [phonetic] was contacted by one of the major Sunni sheiks. Because of the surge we were able to go out and protect that sheik and others. And it began the Anbar awakening. I mean, that’s just a matter of history.
You'd think that if McCain were going to know a lot about anything, it would be history. Sadly, however, geography, history, psychology...not his strong suits. Good thing his POW experience makes him qualified to be President! Otherwise, McCain's world would be getting very complicated.

*=I wish I could take credit for this title, but sadly, credit goes to Political Animal commenter, rea, who is clearly a comedic genius. If you don't get the title, watch West Wing's "Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc" episode, and then, note that "ante" is Latin for "before".

Update: JedReport, as always, has more video.

Nothing New byslag at 6:50 AM 5 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Can our Nation Survive so much Stupid?

So, I was kind of listening to media people off all stripes (Barbara Starr, Andrea Mitchell, etc, etc) today express their shock and dismay at Obama's "confidence" in saying he will pull troops out of Iraq even though their Saint General Petraeus may not wanna, and it made me desperately want to punch somebody in the face. Apparently, the media still believes that Time of War=Time of Military Dictatorship. No matter how many times Obama explained what the Commander-in-Chief's job was, and how it was bigger and more complex than that of Saint Petraeus, they just couldn't grasp the concept: "But, but, but....Petraeus says....!". So, rather than punching somebody in the face, I figure I'll just re-post something that I wrote back in March when Barbara Starr claimed that, by saying they'll withdraw troops, Democrats are ignoring "reality":

First, who determines when "the job is done"? Who sets the mission? Who nominates the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs? Last I heard, the President does those things. And if Barack Obama came in tomorrow and said "hey guys, we're refining our mission..." is he then denying "reality"? No. He's being the President. That's his job. And while his job is to listen to advice from his trustworthy advisers, he's still the Commander-in-Chief (or as Bush likes to call himself, "the Decider"). For the benefit of Barbara Starr--Pentagon mouthpiece correspondent--here's an easy-to-follow chain of command diagram: The People-->The President-->Secretary of Defense...That's what the rest of us call "reality".
Here's the deal people. Our job, as AMERICANS, isn't to sit back and let the military tell us that they'll take care of us. Our job is to pay attention, make our intentions and desires clear, and do what we can do to make those intentions and desires a reality. And when Americans want out of a war that the military wants to stay in, it's the President's job to negotiate the wants of the American people, the local military needs, and the more global strategic issues that compete with those two constituencies. Obama must have made this very point like a thousand times today, and either members of the media have the "confidence" to disagree with the presidential candidate's definition of the President's job or they're just too stupid (and I mean really, really too stupid) to understand the entire concept. If they disagree, they should actually raise the questions that they have rather than passive-aggressively implying that Obama saying he will do his job as Commander-in-Chief amounts to little more than being arrogant"confident". If they're too stupid, well...I'm thinking an org chart may be the next logical step.

Nothing New byslag at 3:16 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Everybody Loves Rachel

Because Rachel Maddow is teh awesome:

Maddow, a Rhodes Scholar, has been a frequent stand-in for Keith Olbermann on Countdown of late—a change that's been met with open arms. "She's a lot more pleasant to work with than Keith, I'll tell you that much," says a current Olbermann staffer. Network brass seem to be taking note—she soon may have her own show. "She's funny, smart, hard-working, entertaining, and has no ego," continues the staffer. "How rare a combination is that?" Even a female producer at CNN, where Maddow made frequent appearances before signing an exclusive contract with MSNBC, is impressed. "Rachel's really, I just love her," she says. "Maybe if something has come of Hillary Clinton's run, it's that a woman in a male-dominated industry can be taken a little bit more fucking seriously."
Keith O, not so much:
In a recent profile of Olbermann in the New Yorker, Peter Boyle recalls that he could be so "overbearing" that Suzy Kolber, a former colleague of his at ESPN, would sometimes "lock herself in the bathroom and cry."...
While I don't really care about the cult of personality aspect of these individuals, I do generally prefer it when people treat others with decency and respect. For me, however, the bright spot in the Radar article is that it reminds me that the "liberal media" finally has two liberals in it. On the downside, meritocracy is dead:
Fox News talking head Sean Hannity...has just signed a joint distribution radio deal with ABC Networks and Premiere Radio Networks that will pay him around $100 million over five years, not including revenue he generates from a profit-sharing scheme. Premiere also recently signed Rush Limbaugh to an eight-year, $400 million deal.

Nothing New byslag at 9:57 PM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Context Clues

This post, infuriatingly titled "Bush's Third Term," by Ana Marie Cox "bothers me":

This bothers me:
Logan: "Do you have any doubts?"

Obama: "Never."

Sure, I'm no political reporter being paid to follow the candidates around and whatnot, but seriously, why do I know that Obama couldn't have been serious about this and Cox didn't? It's impossible for me to believe anyone would have heard a word the man has said over the last year or so and not have known he didn't mean this. Don't get me wrong, Obama has said and done a lot of things that have made me ask "WTF?!?"; nonetheless, this one doesn't even pass the sniff test. Obama may be lacking in a lot of areas, but self-reflection isn't one of them. Not only that, he's clearly the type of person who doesn't enjoy having his intelligence insulted, so instead of saying, "Of course I have doubts; I'm not a complete moron," he's more likely to respond sarcastically. And if Ana Marie were so bothered by this remark, why didn't she just click on the little teevee player (handily available right next to the transcript), scroll to the end of the interview, and watch him grin--and Logan laugh--right after he said this?

Really...it's about using context clues. But then again, maybe if you pick up all your context clues from John McCain's campaign statements, you're more prone to making these silly errors in judgment.

Nothing New byslag at 8:00 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Riding Through Obama Country

Having been forced to grow up in the most soporifically barren suburbia in all the land, I must admit that I love it when Atrios and Big Think Tank Matt do their tag-team take-downs of the burbs. However, MFP and I recently rode our bicycles out to one of the bedroom communities north of the city for a bit of weekend adventure (or as we put it at the time, "We're goin' up north to put the worrrrrrd to the streets."), and at one point, I was impressed by the natural serenity of some of the areas we found ourselves in. Unlike the burbs I grew up in, the ones we were riding through were spotted with little pockets of wilderness that I, for one, would have loved to explore as a youngster. And while parts of the city are also fairly wooded, it's nigh impossible here to escape the sounds of traffic that can detract from the outdoor experience--unlike in the suburban areas. That said, often, riding through the burbs can be a little disheartening for a bleeding heart liberal elitist around an election year.

Strangely enough, though, the lack of McCain campaign signs on private lawns so-far this year has been a little shocking. Neighborhood after neighborhood, weed-whacked lawn after weed-whacked lawn, nary a sign was found. In place of McSame-hood, it seems that suburbia has magically turned itself into Obama Country. I didn't get any pics--being sur la velo and all--but I think we counted six or seven Obama signs. No McCain. This being just the beginning of the election for most people, I'm sure the situation will change. But, as of now, the anecdotal signs are looking surprisingly good. We'll have to have more weekend adventures later in the year just to collect some longitudinal data (and to see more bald eagles, marshlands, and quaint little towns), but it would be nice if, for at least one year, the land of suburbia suddenly became likable.

Nothing New byslag at 6:23 PM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Woe is Me, NYT

The New York Times rejects John McCain's editorial, telling him:

“Let me suggest an approach,” [NYT Editor David Shipley] wrote. “The Obama piece worked for me because it offered new information (it appeared before his speech); while Senator Obama discussed Senator McCain, he also went into detail about his own plans. It would be terrific to have an article from Senator McCain that mirrors Senator Obama's piece.”
John McCain is understandably upset by his inability to write a decent editorial:
McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said Monday the Arizona senator's position will not change based on the "demands of the New York Times."
Not quite sure what that means, exactly. But because we, at Some of Nothing, strongly encourage the dispensing of karmic justice by a variety of means--writing editorials, volunteering, yelling obscenities at random passers-by, hand signals, etc--we feel it's incumbent upon us to offer John McCain a helping hand in this situation.

First, we must empathize with John McCain a bit here. Having recently dispensed some karmic justice on behalf of General Wesley Clark, we, like Senator McCain, felt that our letter's reception was...lackluster. Unlike Mr. McCain, however, we received no response from our brief, incogent email to the offending television networks. Not even a "Thank you for your email showing us how incredibly worthless our commentary really is and how we can't even tie our shoes without first checking in with Matt Drudge because we're a bunch of mindless, vapid sheeple whose only goal in life is to bask in the glint off of GW's John McCain's sunglasses while kicking back with him at his ranch in Crawford one of his seven houses," nothing. But, still, we empathize with the brutal rejection that John McCain has received and encourage him to take NYT's response as encouragement to continue working on his logic skills, spelling, and grammar, in order to finally achieve the karmic justice he feels is deserved. Sometimes, lackluster is just a starting point.

Secondly, we want to remind John McCain that, happily, when the New York Times closes a door, Matt Drudge opens a window. That's right. John McCain should take heart that, even though the NYT declares his editorial unfit to print, Republicans won't take this blatant display of meritocracy lying down. Drudge has absolutely no problem with the fact that McCain's "My Plan for Iraq" editorial actually contains no plan for Iraq. Instead, Drudge recognizes the comfortable reality that a plan tends to be full of tedious details that Republicans only pretend to care about during an election year. So, while we encourage John McCain to continue his quest for karmic justice in the New York Times, he may eventually come to recognize it as a quixotic enterprise. In which case, there's no shame in John McCain's admitting defeat victory and allowing Matt Drudge to dispense karmic justice on his behalf. Sometimes, standards are for suckers.

In the end, John McCain's campaign is no stranger to incompetence, so we're sure that he will bounce back from this minor setback. Heck, he may even get some more money out of it. Nonetheless, the dispensing of karmic justice is a worthy goal and is not to be undertaken lightly. Mr. McCain would do well to keep trying to push through that ability barrier and use all of tools at his disposal--scary words, oblique invectives, pens, pencils, etc--in the process. And if all else fails, he should simply declare victory, accuse his adversaries of admitting defeat, and call it a plan. Sometimes, losing is for winners.

Nothing New byslag at 2:59 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

McCain's World

From the Huffington Post:

Asked by Diane Sawyer whether the "the situation in Afghanistan in precarious and urgent," McCain responded: "I think it's serious. . . . It's a serious situation, but there's a lot of things we need to do. We have a lot of work to do and I'm afraid it's a very hard struggle, particularly given the situation on the Iraq/Pakistan border."

Apparently, sometimes the facts that "experience" teaches you are wrong.

Nothing New byslag at 12:35 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Boutique Oil

Naomi Klein nails it:

(from Democracy Now!)

NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah. Well, it’s really striking, because in all of these discussions—and we heard this just now from President Bush—it was, we need to drill offshore to get away from our dependence on foreign oil, and there is still an overwhelming perception that most of the oil in the United States is coming from countries like Saudi Arabia. There has been, since the invasion of Iraq—and this is the period where the price of oil has skyrocketed—this has already changed. The number one supplier of oil to the United States is not Saudi Arabia, it’s not Mexico—it’s Canada.

And it has all of the elements that these new initiatives that are being proposed—offshore, ANWR, shale—possess. It’s close. It is an absolutely secure source of oil for the United States, and the reason for that is because locked into the North American Free Trade Agreement, locked into NAFTA, is a clause that we Canadians are really not very pleased with, which actually makes it illegal, impossible, under NAFTA, for Canada to turn off the tap, even if we face an oil crisis and are not able to supply oil for our citizens. We have to keep supplying the United States. So it’s a legally binding agreement that this tap will stay open. So Canada is now the number one supplier.

And the other that it holds in common is that it’s ecologically devastating, what’s going on in Canada, because the majority of this new oil coming to the United States is coming from the Alberta tar sands, which are often called the “oil sands.” We call them the “tar sands,” because it’s a more accurate description. And this is another oil industry talking point, to get you to stop calling it the “tar sands” and start calling it the “oil sands.”

But essentially, the oil in Alberta is very linked to the high price of oil, which is to say that when oil was at $30 a barrel, the tar sands, this huge oil deposit, was not counted as part of the global oil reserves. And the reason for that is that it was so expensive to process this very, very thick tar-like substance into liquid oil. It costs between $25 and $30 a barrel, so it just didn’t make sense to count it as part of the global oil reserves, because who was going to make the investment required if they were obviously not going to get a return on their investment? So once the Iraq war started and the price of oil started skyrocketing, oil was discovered in Canada. Everyone knew it was there, but it became part of the global oil reserves. More than that, it is now counted as the largest oil deposit in the world. These are the tar sands.

And, you know, I would argue that this oil should be left in the ground. Environmentalists are calling for a moratorium on the tar sands, because it takes three times the amount of fossil fuels, of burning fossil fuels, to process one barrel of oil from the tar sands as it does to process the kind of oil that they have in Iraq, for instance, which is already in liquid form.

AMY GOODMAN: So you dramatically increase emissions.

NAOMI KLEIN: It’s why Canada has become a climate renegade, along with the United States, because our emissions are increasing because of the tar sands, because it is so carbon-intensive and water-intensive—which is another issue—to do this very, very dirty processing of this tar-like substance into liquid form. So the argument is that it should actually be left alone.

But the other argument that we see is that even with this huge boom going on in Canada—and this is the reason why our economy is actually doing better than the US economy, because of the tar sands—is that it in no way has affected the price of oil. So, here you have a paradigm to look at of what is being proposed right now with ANWR, what’s being proposed with offshore, what’s being proposed with shale. We can see it right now in Canada. And as this huge boom is taking place, the price of oil has gone up month after month after month, and it has had absolutely no effect on the price at the pump.
The fact that Democrats haven't found a good way to communicate these facts astounds me. Embedded in all this nonsense about decreasing gas prices by extracting oil from shale is one simple irony: in order for it to be cost-effective for companies to process this kind of oil, the price of oil needs to be high. That is, because processing this oil is so much more labor and resource-intensive, it also costs more to produce. And if it costs more to produce, it costs more to purchase. In other words, it's boutique oil. And when you start factoring boutique oil into your overall oil supply, your overall oil costs go up as well. That Democrats aren't stressing this point more makes me wonder if they're actually serious about resisting the wholesale privatization of our natural resources. I don't know why I would doubt them...

Nothing New byslag at 11:07 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)


All this pale puffy privilege in one place makes me want to puke.

h/t Greenwald

(yes, I'm still pissed)

Nothing New byslag at 10:31 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)


When I included allergies in my very abridged list of stupid things, I was thinking about them in the abstract. It's stupid for my body to waste energy battling environmental irritants because it leaves me without the necessary internal resources to fight off more serious threats to my immune system. It wears me down. But since I've been suffering from hay fever all this week, I'm even more annoyed at the waste of external resources--allergy pills, tissues, water and soap for washing my hands every time I blow my nose, etc. A drain on my finances as well as on the materials that go into creating those items (although a boost to the economy, so GW should be happy about my suffering).

I'm now thinking the war in Iraq has been one long allergy attack. So maybe once I figure out how to get my white blood cells to understand that their mission will never be accomplished, I will know how to get Bush's dead-enders to understand the same thing.

Nothing New byslag at 8:46 AM 4 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Obama Gets Closer to Getting Back on My Good Side

Obama understands the foreign policy strategy America needs to take:

At some point, a judgment must be made. Iraq is not going to be a perfect place, and we don't have unlimited resources to try to make it one. We are not going to kill every al Qaeda sympathizer, eliminate every trace of Iranian influence, or stand up a flawless democracy before we leave - General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker acknowledged this to me when they testified last April. That is why the accusation of surrender is false rhetoric used to justify a failed policy. In fact, true success in Iraq - victory in Iraq - will not take place in a surrender ceremony where an enemy lays down their arms. True success will take place when we leave Iraq to a government that is taking responsibility for its future - a government that prevents sectarian conflict, and ensures that the al Qaeda threat which has been beaten back by our troops does not reemerge. That is an achievable goal if we pursue a comprehensive plan to press the Iraqis stand up.

To achieve that success, I will give our military a new mission on my first day in office: ending this war. Let me be clear: we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in. We can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 - one year after Iraqi Security Forces will be prepared to stand up; two years from now, and more than seven years after the war began. After this redeployment, we'll keep a residual force to perform specific missions in Iraq: targeting any remnants of al Qaeda; protecting our service members and diplomats; and training and supporting Iraq's Security Forces, so long as the Iraqis make political progress.

We will make tactical adjustments as we implement this strategy - that is what any responsible Commander-in-Chief must do. As I have consistently said, I will consult with commanders on the ground and the Iraqi government. We will redeploy from secure areas first and volatile areas later. We will commit $2 billion to a meaningful international effort to support the more than 4 million displaced Iraqis. We will forge a new coalition to support Iraq's future - one that includes all of Iraq's neighbors, and also the United Nations, the World Bank, and the European Union - because we all have a stake in stability. And we will make it clear that the United States seeks no permanent bases in Iraq.

This is the future that Iraqis want. This is the future that the American people want. And this is what our common interests demand. Both America and Iraq will be more secure when the terrorist in Anbar is taken out by the Iraqi Army, and the criminal in Baghdad fears Iraqi Police, not just coalition forces. Both America and Iraq will succeed when every Arab government has an embassy open in Baghdad, and the child in Basra benefits from services provided by Iraqi dinars, not American tax dollars...
Obama goes on to discuss the need to change our Pakistan policy and take on Bin Laden directly, secure and reduce nuclear weapons, end our dependence on foreign oil, and rebuild alliances. He got very specific and detailed during this speech--in how we, as a nation, would deal with Iran, how we would work on non-proliferation, how we would work toward green energy, including an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050 (personally, I think we can do better if we really get serious). But at the same time, the speech was broad, explaining how we need to look at national security in a more holistic fashion. As Greg Sargent said:
Now that Barack Obama has just wrapped up his big Iraq speech, it's worth noting how big a gamble he's taken at key moments during this race -- by insisting on elevating the discussion to a higher plane than the ordinary tit-for-tat of campaigns.

When Obama was under fire for Reverend Wright, Obama gave a speech in which he asked his audience to think bigger, to rise above the narrow, gaffe-driven debate about Wright and have a real and meaningful discussion about the larger social and historical forces at play.

In other words...genius. If only he'd vote as well as he talked, maybe he'd stay on my good side.

TPM offers a handy back-to-back comparison of Obama v. McCain on national security. McCain sums his strategy up nicely:
Success breeds success. Failure breeds failure. I know how to win wars. I know how to win wars.
That's very convincing. Methinks Tony Robbins may end up as Secretary of Defense in a McCain administration. On a related note, I heard a typical neocon on Race for the White House today talk about how McCain is going to win this election by bringing the specifics that Obama lacks. Clearly, he hadn't bothered to listen to either of these speeches. Rachel Maddow tried to correct him but, as always, she was too nice.

How can I go from being optimistic to hating the entire world in a single post? It's a mystery.

Nothing New byslag at 7:52 PM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Trust Joss: Mr. Whedon is Dr. Horrible (in a good way)

I remember when the movie Serenity came out. Many of my friends and I were big Firefly fans, so we were simultaneously excited and afeared to see how the show would fare in a more cinematic context. Lacking mental white-out technology, I, for one, couldn't bear the thought of one of my few beloved teevee shows being bastardized by a big screen debacle. Then, when the typically hyper-actionalized preview came out, it did little to assuage my fears. But luckily, a friend of mine got into a reviewers' screening of the film and was able to report back: "trust Joss" was his recommendation. And he was right.

For some reason, "trust" must be a difficult concept for me to grasp, because when I heard the concept for Dr. Horrible, my innate skepticism re-emerged, albeit in a less visceral form. In his interview with Prodigeek, Joss described the venture as:

[T]he story of Dr. Horrible, a low-rent super villain trying to make his way in the world, being evil, defeat his nemesis, Captain Hammer, who beats him up on a weekly basis, and work up the courage to talk to the prettiest girl walking around. It basically follows his travails. It’s about 40 minutes, in three acts, and was designed to be just your typical internet, superhero musical.
An "internet, superhero musical" featuring a "low-rent super villain" sounds--on its face--more than a little...um...silly? And since I've long ceased to indulge in the old-skool tube on a regular basis (save for periodic doses of The Daily Show on the web and BSG at a friend's), I've been laboring under the assumption that I may have lost my silly bone (or, at least, that my silly bone had succumbed to a mild form of osteoporosis). But after viewing Act I of Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog this morning, I can only repeat my friend's very wise words to anyone else out there who may share my cynical attitude: trust Joss (and drink milk regularly).

Watching the first scene in which Dr. Horrible (Neil Patrick Harris) is vlogging about his super villainous hopes and fears, I am immediately reminded of what I've always liked about Joss' storytelling--he perpetually defies convention. Forcing us to immediately identify and sympathize with the villain by bestowing on him many of his audience's geekiest qualities, Joss reminds us that villains aren't always purely defined by their mischievous laughs--which they practice often--or their propensity toward malfeasance--which they sometimes fail at. In fact, like a typical geek, Dr. Horrible seems desperate to connect with the world at the same time he's trying to overhaul it. He's got some big ideas, a perpetual optimism that he can achieve them, and a distinct distaste for anyone who tries to undermine his plans. In other words, he's an idealist with control issues. That sounds like every geek (or artist) I've ever known.

Paradoxically, the hero, Captain Hammer(?-I honestly can't even remember his name), played by Nathan Fillion, is extremely traditional--a symbol of the "status quo", perpetually undermining the villain's plans to radically change the world. We don't get much insight into Mr. Hammer in the first act, but Dr. Horrible describes him as a "corporate tool". He's stylish with his shiny hair and skin-tight t-shirt and has a unique ability to be both jerky and captivating to the ladies (or lady--singular--in this case). He's flat, unimaginative, and smug. That sounds like every frat boy (or "suit") I've ever known.

Clearly, these two are each other's born nemeses. Whether or not acts 2 and 3 bear out the dichotomous character attributes defined in act 1 remains to be seen. But given the singing, the setting and the--what I would call--Tick-like spoofing of the superhero cartoon genre, I'm guessing that anything could happen from here on out. Will the frat boy become more dynamic? Will the geek get the girl? Maybe the villain will end up besting the hero in a game of Battleship. No matter what, I'm trusting that Joss' big ideas, perpetual optimism, and dislike of the status quo will surely make things interesting.

PS Full disclosure: Joss Whedon was the very first recipient of Some of Nothing's Sexy Brain award, so I'm probably biased. Also, I'm glad that Joss is using the interwebs to work out his residual writer's strike issues.

Nothing New byslag at 3:14 PM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Variations on a Theme: The Bush-McCain Energy Independence Strategery

In prose:

To hear Bush touting Western oil shale as the answer to $4 per gallon gasoline, as he did again yesterday in the Rose Garden, you would think it was 1908 . . . or 1920 . . . or 1945 . . . or 1974. Every couple of decades over the past century, the immense reserves of the oily rock under Colorado and Utah reemerge as the great hope for our energy future.
The governors of Wyoming and Colorado, communities and editorial boards across the West agree that the administration's headlong rush is a terrible idea. Even energy companies, including Chevron, have said we need to proceed more cautiously on oil shale. With more than 30,000 acres of public land at their disposal to conduct research, development and demonstration projects (in addition to 200,000 undeveloped acres of private oil shale lands they own in Colorado and Utah), they already have more land than they can develop in the foreseeable future.

So why is the president hurrying to sell leases for commercial oil shale development in the West's great landscapes? A fire sale will not lower gas prices. It will not accelerate the development of commercial oil shale technologies.

In verse:
Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed
A poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed,
Then one day he was shootin at some food,
And up through the ground came a bubblin' crude.

Oil that is, black gold, Texas tea.

Well the first thing you know ol' Jed's a millionaire,
Kinfolk said Jed move away from there
Said Californy is the place you ought to be
So they loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly.

Hills, that is.
Swimmin pools, movie stars.

The Beverly Hillbillies!

In black and white:

And because I know you'd go looking for it if I didn't post it here:

The End.

Nothing New byslag at 8:35 AM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

I Don't Get it

I've been told many times in my life that I have "no sense of humor". And already this week, I'm reminded of why that is.

First, Melissa McEwan at Shakesville suggests that I'm supposed to be offended by this incident:

Toward the end of a 10-minute standup routine at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Chicago, the 50-year-old star of "The Bernie Mac Show" joked about menopause, sexual infidelity and promiscuity, and used occasional crude language.

"My little nephew came to me and he said, 'Uncle, what's the difference between a hypothetical question and a realistic question?'" Mac said. "I said, I don't know, but I said, 'Go upstairs and ask your mother if she'd make love to the mailman for $50,000.'"

As the joke continued, the punchline evoked an angry response from at least one person in the audience, who said it was offensive to women.
And being the humorless feminist that I am, I can honestly say that I would probably be offended by this instead of amused by it if, in fact, I understood why others would find it amusing in the first place. But, sadly, I just don't see what this joke is going for. Like pretty much every joke I ever heard on the show, Everybody Loves Raymond, I just assume that its humor is lost on me because it may or may not be satirizing some element of our culture with which I'm not overly familiar. Consequently, instead of having the pleasure of being either amused or offended, I end up being puzzled. I don't get it.

Nonetheless, apparently, the more offensive part of the evening occurred later when Obama tried to diffuse the situation with this:
"We can't afford to be divided by race. We can't afford to be divided by region or by class and we can't afford to be divided by gender, which by the way, that means, Bernie, you've got to clean up your act next time," Obama said. "This is a family affair. By the way, I'm just messing with you, man."
Now, in all fairness, I get why this statement by Obama is offensive--or, as Melissa McEwan put it, is "a disgrace". I mean if you're going to put the effort into publicly chastising someone while trying to avoid making the situation uncomfortable for everyone, you can certainly do better than "I'm just messing with you, man." Some suggestions off the top:
  • Bernie's jokes are so bad you might think he's trying to compete with Congress to see who can get a lower approval rating.
  • You all thought Bernie's jokes were bad? You should have seen my vote on FISA.
  • Sounds like Bernie wants to get "thrown under the bus"...Literally.
Of course, one reason for the difference between Obama's choice of responses and mine is that he's a politician, and I'm...not. Therefore, he feels the need to devise a pallid, self-contradictory response implying that he gets why Bernie's jokes were bad without really stating his displeasure outright.

The second joke I don't get today is the much-discussed cover of the New Yorker, which illustrates some of the right's most infamous Obama-bashing symbolic issues. Maybe atrios has "no sense of humor" too because he goes through the effort of explaining why the cover is unamusing to him:
Since it's the controversy of the day, let me make my views more clear. It obviously was an attempt at satire, but it fails. It represents the basic stuff that you get from the Right about Obama, but it neither mocks nor exaggerates them. It's a sad state of affairs that conservatives are hard to satirize or parody because they're so insane, but that's where we are. The only context is that it's on the cover of the New Yorker and Everybody Knows That They're Good Liberals So It's Satire. But, look, whatever the merits of the New Yorker it's more "elite chattering classes of New York" than "good liberal." Not quite the same thing, even if there's some overlap.
Atrios goes on to say that, if the New Yorker had implicated one or more of the symbolic issues purveyors from the right anywhere in its so-called satire, it might have been funny. Because the satire would have had an actual referent rather than just an implied one. But they didn't do that. They chickened out and settled for the implication rather than the actual statement. So, as the cover stands, I'm going to have to go on record, for like the gazillionth time in my life, and say, "I don't get it".

While I don't find it amusing or offensive, I find it mildly irritating that the cover will be used to help perpetuate the racist, xenophobic symbolic issues-mongering from the right without actually calling them out on it. For that same reason, I also find Bernie Mac's joke and Obama's weak response to it mildly iritating because it gives the Hillary of Arc supporters from the left yet another cudgel with which they can gleefully beat Obama and his supporters about the head for being a bunch of sexists. Maybe it's this persistent mild irritation with people who--instead of taking bold, passionate (and funny) stands against problems--are meekly perpetuating them that has caused me to lose my sense of humor. Who knows? I just don't get why liberals fail to understand that the thing that always gets them into trouble isn't the apparently sexist joke or the apparently racist, xenophobic satire. Instead, it's their inability to willfully make people uncomfortable by standing up and saying, "Dude. That's just not funny".

Nothing New byslag at 10:13 AM 14 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Other People's Genius: "Well...That's Something" Edition

So, last night, MFP called me from the car on his way home from work. He said he was calling me from his cell phone while driving, in spite of the fact that doing so was--as he put it--a "second-class violation", because he was so late (ahem...9pm!) and that he was speeding, in spite of the fact that it was "a first-class violation", because he was excited to get home to see me. Seconds later, I hear the sound of a short siren blast and a "Doh! Gotta go. *click*" About five minutes later the phone rings again, and I pick up only to hear him yelling "You'll never take me aliiiiive, Copperrrrr!!!" into it. I laugh and ask him if he got a ticket. He said no--just a quick siren warning from an unmarked police car. I told him that was nice, and he said that's true, but even if he got one, he would have been happy to pay it because he would have deserved it. I thought to myself that a lot of people would have cursed their bad luck if they had gotten a ticket and that this attitude is one of the things I love most about MFP...he understands karmic justice. When he's willfully doing something wrong, he expects--rather than resents--karmic punishment. When he doesn't get it, he's pleasantly surprised and tries to do better next time. I think this sense of justice (rather than privilege or entitlement) results in him being a generally happy person, which makes me happy too.

So, in the spirit of unexpectedly happy outcomes, here's today's Other People's Genius "Well...That's Something" Edition.

* Ars Technica notes that Comcast got some karmic justice from the FCC today:

Remember how Comcast this week told us that 1) the FCC's "Internet policy statement" (PDF) had no legal force and 2) that the agency might not have the authority to enact such rules even if it wanted to? Those theories will soon be put to the test, as Republican FCC Chairman Kevin Martin now says he wants to rule against Comcast in the dispute over the company's P2P upload throttling. Score one huge, precedent-setting win for net neutrality backers.

Martin broke the news Thursday evening by way of [the AP], telling them that "the Commission has adopted a set of principles that protects consumers' access to the Internet. We found that Comcast's actions in this instance violated our principles."
A win for net neutrality! Well...that's something.

* Atrios ironically points out that the Obama campaign is actually standing up against some falsehoods coming from the McCain campaign:
Due to his military service 40 years ago, it's unpossible that John McCain would make stuff up and how dare Barack Obama suggest otherwise.
A strong comeback after the Wes Clark fiasco. Well...that's something.

* Crooks and Liars and Wonkette inform us that an anti-gay, McCain-loving Republican, Troy King, may have been recently caught having gay sex:
Wonkette: This may come as a shock, but a prominent anti-homosexual Republican attorney general has apparently been caught having homosexual sex intercourse with his homosexual gay male assistant. Bonus: The dude’s wife caught him, in their bed. This is the rumor that the AG’s office has officially denied, so now of course everybody is spilling the sordid details.

[...]King,[...]the State Chairman of John McCain’s Alabama campaign, joined a number of Attorneys General who supported the GOP presidential candidate this past spring and the following is a quote from King on John McCain’s campaign website:

Alabama is a state where actions definitely speak louder than words,” said King. “More than just talk, John McCain’s strong record of support for state rights, and his devotion to the conservative principles of protecting life and the institution of marriage make him the right leader for Alabama.”

Wanton homophobes getting outed by their wives and John McCain getting laughed at in the process? Well...that's something.

It's true that some of these victories are more victorious than others, but hey--we work with what we've got. Happy other people's genius Friday!

UPDATE: More unexpected happy outcomes:

* According to Law.com, CREW may be on its way toward getting access to White House visitor records:
A federal appeals court on Friday set back the White House's efforts to keep the names of its visitors secret.

The three-member panel of judges threw out the government's appeal in the case in which a watchdog group is trying to find out how often prominent religious conservatives visited the White House and Vice President Dick Cheney's residence.

Despite the ruling against the White House, the decision does not necessarily mean that visitor logs will be subject to public disclosure.

The White House can still raise a variety of legal arguments in an attempt to keep the identities of White House visitors secret.
People (not Congress) fighting for at least some Bush Administration accountability. Well...that's something.

* Sam Seder's filling in for Mike Malloy right now. Well...that's something.

Nothing New byslag at 1:57 PM 6 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

You Know What'd Be Great?

When the media wants to discuss whether or not Barack Obama is betraying his liberal values or losing favor with his liberal base or actually taking a liberal position in the first place, it'd be great, just great, if, for once, they would simply ASK A F%CKING LIBERAL!

Just sayin.

Nothing New byslag at 11:25 AM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)


He doesn't look like someone who wants to tap my phone, enslave me, and force me to speak Spanish.

Clearly, he must be an America-hating, terrorist-loving Marxo-fascist who's just really good at keeping a secret. It's the only rational explanation.

In other words, I'll stop beating up on Barack Obama for a little while. He's got enough people doing that already. I'm starting to feel kind of sorry for him.

Nothing New byslag at 11:05 PM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Will John McCain Be His Own October Surprise?

I'll admit it. I find John McCain excruciatingly boring. Not just dull or spiritless, mind you. Boring--straight up. I'm only saying this now as a way of explaining why I don't talk about him much. Or ever, really. And to some extent, I can empathize with the Republic of Media for not talking about him much either. Or ever, really. However, in our defense, McCain doesn't exactly have a whole lot going for him. His intelligence? Questionable. His wit? Morbidly banal. His capacity for development? Ummm...he's both OLD and CONSERVATIVE...he might as well have been petrified in amber back in 1972. So, by spending many words discussing John McCain's utterly lackluster qualities, I might as well be telling Some of Nothing readers, "You think my writing style is snooze-worthy? Here's a boring old white dude to go with it. And don't forget to recommend this blog to your friends!".

Nonetheless, I got to thinking today that, while one might think being boring would be a big disadvantage to McCain's electoral prospects, I'm starting to wonder if it's not actually his secret weapon. Some examples:

  1. We've spent days (weeks?) raking Obama over the coals for his FISA vote, yet the old white dude he's running against didn't even bother to show up for the vote and nary a peep.
  2. John McCain calls Social Security "a disgrace." Response: "John who?" Besides, Obama's busy destroying the entire country of Germany.
  3. John McCain thinks that solving our economics problems is as easy as winning the War in Iraq. Maybe after 5 more years in Iraq, people will actually start to talk about what a stupid idea that was. Besides, Obama doesn't even try to dig us completely out of our gazillion dollar debt within four years, and that's just crazy talk!
  4. McCain wants to solve our country's mental health problems by drilling for oil. No surprise there--fossils rely on fossil fuels--it makes them feel needed. Besides, what's most important is the question of whether or not the ladies really dig Obama.
  5. McCain's economics mentor claims that we're all just whining about a recession that's all in our heads. Yeah...but Jesse Jackson!!!
At this rate, by the time October rolls around, Barack Obama is going to be just another boring young black dude running for President. Then, John McCain will come out into the world appearing all shiny and new. And all the people who know nothing about him will look up and think to themselves, "We need a change."

UPDATE: John Cole has more stuff that the media didn't bother paying attention to this week.

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

Or There's That Other Perspective

Andrew Sullivan writes a post that pretty much exemplifies everything I don't get about conservatives:

A few things have unsettled me these past couple of weeks about the Obama campaign. It is not the small adjustments to previously-held positions - FISA, the Second Amendment, Iraq. It's a sense that Obama's ample self-regard is lapsing into hubris. The signs of this are pretty trivial on the surface, but they are troubling nonetheless.

That simulated faux-presidential seal was both tacky, silly and presumptive - a small version of "Mission Accomplished" Obama could well do without. The decision to give his acceptance speech in a stadium, rather than the traditional convention hall is also an unnecessary over-reach. The night will be freighted enough with history; it needs no new drama to set it apart. And the drama of the first black man accepting the nomination - with Obama's rhetorical brilliance - will be more than enough for impact. Lastly, I was gob-smacked by the Obamas' decision to include their children in a soft-focus TV interview...[emphasis mine]
Shorter version: "Constitution? Pfffft. Who cares about that? Obama let his kids be on the teevee!!!"

Even when they're on my side (kinda, sorta, not really), conservatives fixate on stuff I couldn't care less about--otherwise known as symbolic issues. Yes, there really is a "red America" and a "blue America". Let's just hope a tenuous truce can be arranged.

UPDATE: For what it's worth context-wise, I volunteer for 826, and 826 puts kids on the teevee all the time. We even make them talk to big crowds--live:

Don't tell the symbolic issues police.

Nothing New byslag at 2:39 PM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Joss Whedon Captures Democratic Wussery on Film

I almost wrote a post yesterday about how the Democrats in Congress were the most pathetic weaklings in all of weaklingville, but I stopped myself. And I'm glad I did. Why am I glad I stopped myself?

Is it because Democrats stopped themselves, at the last minute, from looking like pathetic weaklings? Nope.

Is it because Democrats promised to stop themselves from continuing to look like pathetic weaklings in the future? Nope.

Is it because, while the Democrats look like pathetic weaklings, the Republicans look like even more pathetic weaklings, so why should I single out the Democrats? Nope.

Is it because there is evidence that the pathetic weaklingness of the Democrats is really just a cover for them being nice people and that, one day, the people they are nice to will start being nice back, thereby making their perceived pathetic weaklingness worthwhile? Nope.

So, why am I glad that I stopped myself from writing about the Democrats' extreme pathetic weaklingosity yesterday? Well, because yesterday, I didn't have the tools to show exactly how pathetic Democrats look. But today, with the help of the Zeppo episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 3, ScreenRecord 2 for Mac, and Soundflower for Mac, I do.

So, here's Joss Whedon's Xander behaving just like the Democrats in Congress who are simply incapable of bringing themselves to stand up to our dimwitted bully of a 29% approval-rating President no matter how much power they have:
Having new ways to mock people/dispense karmic justice is fun! This is just a straight partial-scene translation from DVD to Quicktime (probably a copyright violation to boot), but any suggestions for good video editing tips and resources are welcome.

Nothing New byslag at 10:48 AM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Independence Day Passion Meets Morning After Ambivalence

My favorite aspect of the Obama campaign--the aspect that did the most to get me interested in Obama, in fact--is its ability to get new, traditionally underrepresented, people involved in politics. In fact, looking back at one of my many posts dissing Obama, I wrote this:

Obama, on the other hand, has quite a bit of flash. He's gotten by on a lot of happy talk and some appropriation of Edwards' policy proposals. His campaign floats around on a wad of cash and good publicity. Some say Obama is poetic, which has its own element of flash. Plus, he's all shiny and new. So, given my extreme bias against flash, all these qualities add up to some serious skepticism that is not easily overcome.

With that said, Obama's impact on voter turnout is one that cannot be ignored. Since a big part of leadership involves inspiring participation, I can't help but wonder if my bias against flash is keeping me from seeing what's truly valuable in Obama...[emphasis added]
Since Obama made mobilizing new voters a foundational element of his general election strategy, it's no wonder that his campaign has some originality and virility to it. However, one element of this voter mobilization strategy I didn't anticipate was the fact that it enabled someone like me--someone who vehemently disagrees with Obama's decision to support the FISA bill--to be involved with his campaign without really being involved with his campaign. That is, on July 4th, MFP and I celebrated Independence Day by enthusiastically joining in Obama's GOTV efforts, and together, we registered or updated the information for about 20+ voters. And happily, I am able to reconcile my conscience to this--in spite of my serious disagreement with Obama's decision--because, like my interest in protecting the Constitution, my interest in registering new voters started before Obama became the Democratic presidential nominee and will continue after Obama leaves the White House. So, in this case, MFP and I just used Obama's campaign to make registering voters easier on ourselves. A relationship of convenience, if you will.

(And because I hold a grudge, I chose not to wear any of my Obama shirts, but instead, wore this shirt:
with "no warrant=no wiretap" printed on the back.)

Of course, the true ambivalence comes the day after July 4th when the Obama campaign starts calling, and we wonder just how seriously we're going to take this relationship. After some deliberation, I've decided that this relationship is probably going to be just casual. Mostly because, after generously assuming Obama's stance on FISA was for political expediency (why be the last to die in a losing battle?), I read this:
“One of the things you find as you go through this campaign, everyone becomes so cynical about politics,” Mr. Obama said. There is an “assumption that your must be doing everything for political reasons.”

Voters should understand, he said, that they rarely will find themselves in 100 percent agreement with him. “But don’t assume that’s because I’m just doing it for “political reasons, he said.

“That just means we disagree,” he said.
Honestly, all this time I thought Obama was stuck between a rock and a hard place on FISA. I figured that he knew it was a mistake but couldn't get out of it in time. But to find out that he thinks it's the right thing to do...that's a real problem for me. Reading that Obama actually agrees with the contents of the FISA bill enough to vote for it is like finding out that someone I've been dating for a while is anti-choice. These are irreconcilable differences we're talking about here. Sure, we can still go out from time-to-time and have a few laughs. That benefits us both. But under no circumstances could it ever get truly serious. I have my self-respect, after all...and my conscience. That is to say that we just can't keep having this fight.

Observations from the GOTV trail:
1. I keep being disappointed at how little people actually know about the world and how little they want to know. It's one thing to be ignorant. It's another to be willfully ignorant. It's probable that the apathetically ignorant ones just stand out in my mind more than the others, but still...a bummer.
2. Europeans, Asians, etc seem to LOVE Obama. They can't vote in the US but they seem to wish they could just to be able to vote for him. Honestly, it would be cool to see some Americans get that excited about the election. Of course, I'm sure the ones who are showing up at a US Independence Day celebration aren't representative of general populations, but nonetheless, I know I can't think of a world leader outside of the US that I'm overly enthusiastic about. Not one.
3. I've said it before, and I'll keep saying it...the way we casually dole out felonies in this country is almost beyond parody. They've become normal parts of some social groups, and I can't believe people don't see this as a tremendous problem. Maybe if we just allow telecom companies to wantonly break the law, that will make up for it. At least the CEOs will retain their rights to vote. Just thinking about this disparity makes me mad about the FISA bill all over again...

Nothing New byslag at 7:37 AM 8 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Wes Clark Turns That Frown Upside Down for Darcy Burner

I always like how people can take the essence of a failure and turn it around to make it into something useful. In this case, it's a twofer. First, Wes Clark probably got a lot of email from Democrats telling him how watching Obama practically run for the hills when the Republic of Media went after Clark so biliously was...well...discouraging. Second, Democrat Darcy Burner's home is essentially gone after a fire. This is a tragedy that has not only cost Darcy her home but could cost her an election. So, Clark turns that frown upside by using our own sentiments, "Politics is tough. So when one of our own is down, we have to have their back," to get us to stick by Darcy Burner in her time of need. Donating through this Wes Clark page is like getting to dispense karmic justice on behalf of both Clark and Burner at once. Not bad.

We, in the Some of Nothing household, have already donated to Darcy after this incident. We like her Responsible Plan to End the Iraq War, and her stance on FISA, and her "More and Better Democrats" angle, and her chances to oust a Bush-loving Republican, and, and, and... The Kos liked the xml shirt she was wearing during the tragedy (see her picture below).

Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle

Last Tuesday, Darcy Burner, Congressional
candidate in Washington's 8th district, had her home burn down.
Darcy needs to focus on her family -- but that means she
can't fundraise.
Every dollar that we raise for Darcy
gives her a little extra time to take care of her
family. Show Darcy that we've got her back --
click here to donate to her

Politics is tough. So when one of our own is down, we have to have their back.

Last Tuesday morning, Darcy Burner, Congressional candidate in Washington's 8th district, had her home burn down. Darcy's 5-year-old son was awakened by the fire alarm in his room. He woke up his parents, and thankfully, the family escaped safely. However, Darcy's home was completely destroyed.

At this difficult time, Darcy needs to focus on her family as they work to get their lives back in order. That's what she should be doing -- what any of us would do after a similar tragedy.

But in Darcy's case, that means she can't fundraise, she can't campaign. And in an election as important and close as hers will be, every day she's off the campaign trail puts her at a disadvantage. She needs our help.

Every dollar that we raise for Darcy gives her a little extra time to take care of her family. So let's step up and show Darcy that we've got her back. Contribute to Darcy's campaign today!


Darcy is in a tight race and represents one of our best pickup opportunities in the House. She's going to be an advocate to bring our troops home from Iraq. She's going to stand strong to fight warrantless wiretapping and protect the Constitution.

We can't let this tragedy stop us from adding Darcy's voice to Congress. Though Darcy says she lost "just stuff," she needs time with her family now.

Help me give Darcy the time she needs. Every donation provides Darcy with more time to put down the phone for fundraising and focus on her family. Contribute to Darcy's campaign today!


One of the keys to our success over the years is that we stick together. We take care of each other. I am so proud to have supporters like you in the Clark community.

Thank you for everything.

Wes Clark

P.S. I've heard from many of you over the past week, and I can't thank you enough for your support. Now help me support Darcy by contributing to her campaign today!

Nothing New byslag at 12:46 PM 4 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Obama Needs to Expand his "Fight the Smears" Efforts to the Republic of Media

Phoenix Woman at FDL says this:

Even after the Obama campaign and bloggers like John Cole presented instance after instance showing that Barack Obama's recent Montana comments on his Iraq policy are what he's been saying all along, the GOP/Media Complex still clings to the talking points handed it by the McCain campaign and the RNC's Alex Conant, and desperately so. They're now having to establish bogus second-order arguments to prop up the original nonsense they were spewing. (When John Kerry goes on Face the Nation to point out the myriad times John Sidney McCain III has does flip-flops and 180-degree changes of position, Bob Schieffer gets all huffy and whines: “Are you attacking John McCain’s integrity?” This from the guy who befriended George W. Bush when Bush made his brother Tom the ambassador to Australia and later Japan.)

Meanwhile, John McCain rewards especially obedient "reporters" with VIP seating on his campaign airplane, and that will never get anywhere near the amount of media play as the aforementioned Iraq lie they continue to push...
Next, I read this at WaPo:
BARACK OBAMA has taken a small but important step toward adjusting his outdated position on Iraq to the military and strategic realities of the war he may inherit. Sadly, he seems to be finding that the strident and rigid posture he struck during the primary campaign -- during which he promised to withdraw all combat forces in 16 months -- is inhibiting what looks like a worthy, necessary attempt to create the room for maneuver he will need to capably manage the war if he becomes president. [emphasis mine]
Oh! How much I would love it if Obama had ever taken a more "strident and rigid posture" on Iraq! But "sadly", it just ain't so. What is so is the reality that facts don't matter to these people; logic doesn't matter to these people; even "the Google" doesn't matter to these people. But honestly, after the last seven years of war 'reporting', watching the Republic of Media now go and on about how Obama is finally becoming more "realistic" and "responsible" in his Iraq plan is actually kind of cute. It's like watching a bunch of second-graders explain to their parents how important it is for them to save their money for a rainy day and eat their vegetables. Doesn't it just make you want to pat them on their heads, thank them for the sage advice, and put them down for a nap?

UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald offers more facts (the "realistic" and "responsible" kind) that the media chooses to ignore when what they want/think is actually the opposite of the facts.

Nothing New byslag at 11:10 AM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

It's Just Like Riding a Bike

I think I stopped enjoying riding my bicycle around the time "bike" started to be commonly used as a gerund. In my formative years, I would bicycle to the store, to a friend's house, even to the mountains for a hike. But I would never ever "go biking". And while I wouldn't disparage the activity in all circumstances, I can honestly say that, for me, the bicycle has always been a means to an end and not the end itself. That said, not wanting to "go biking" never translated into a dislike of riding a bicycle. At least, not until two important innovations took over the bicycle scene.
1. The Bike Helmet:
Honestly, I don't mind that the helmet looks stupid. Having found no practical way to avoid looking stupid the rest of the time, I see no reason to start being concerned about it over something that will also keep me safer. But while the stupid doesn't bother me, many of the bike helmet's other attributes do. Mostly, I hate the way it feels. While my bike helmet, by all accounts, appears to be incredibly average in size and weight as far as bike helmets go, I might as well strap an unabridged dictionary to my skull for how heavy it actually feels when I'm wearing it. Between that and the chinstrap being a normalized form of strangulation, the helmet is a major impediment to my enjoyment of the bicycle.

2. This Guy (and all guys like this guy):
Put someone in spandex and he thinks he has super powers. That's the only way I can explain the cult cyclist that insists on ruining my Sunday bike ride with his stupid little bike bell and his flashing bike headlamp. The city in which I live has a variety of nice trails for walking/bicycling/roller blading to wherever one may want to go. Nonetheless, part of me thinks we'd do better if we segregated our trails. One for amateur walkers/bicyclers/roller bladers. The other for those that come from the Chuck Norris School of Recreating. This guy (and all guys like this guy) would be on the other trail.

From what I understand, these two hindrances of my bike riding enjoyment are "uniquely American". I remember traveling in Europe many years ago, watching people in Amsterdam riding bicycles in their suits and ties or in their spiked collars and leather jackets. They weren't doing anything special. They were just going to where they needed to go. Helmet and spandex-free. And in talking to bike shop owners here, I sense a growing interest in seeing the bicycle move back out of the subculture and into the mainstream culture. Now that--because of high gas prices--cities are encouraging cycling as an alternative to driving, maybe it will. But unfortunately, this clash of sub and mainstream cultures will most likely result in other, deadlier, kinds of clashes along the way. We'll see.

It will never happen, but it would be kind of cool to see the bicycle become a primary mode of transportation in the US. The air would be cleaner, roads would be cheaper to maintain and there would be fewer of them, and our energy problems would be minimal. Plus, fewer people would own cars, so we wouldn't need all that space for garages and giant parking lots. And on rare occasions, for fun and adventure, people would borrow or rent a car just to "go driving". At that point, I think I'd start to enjoy riding the bicycle again. Because it would be just a thing people did to get around--not having to compete so much with cars or eXtreme bicycle heroes. Helmet and spandex-free.

Nothing New byslag at 8:25 AM 9 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Sometimes the Republic of Media Breaks My Brain

So, the people who want out of the Iraq war the most are going to be supporters of Barack Obama, right? So, Barack Obama's supporters are going to be the ones who would be most concerned and knowledgeable about his stated intentions to get out of Iraq right? So, why is it Republicans and the media--and not Obama supporters, as far as I can tell--who are claiming that Obama has altered his stance on the war? I don't think it's changed. No one I've read today thinks it's changed. Wouldn't we be the ones who would know if it's changed since we're the ones most concerned about his position here? Shouldn't the media actually be asking the anti-war people whether or not they see a change in his position? Oh I forgot. We don't let the anti-war people talk to the media. We let Republicans complain about Obama's supposed shift in his Iraq position to the media on behalf of the anti-war people. How nice of them to hold Obama's feet to the fire for us like this!

When will our politics start to have some relationship with reality? Really, any relationship will do.

PS What part of, "We need to be as careful in getting out as we were careless in getting in," do people not understand? Seriously. Brain=broken.

UPDATE: Digby offers something more substantial than "brain=broken" on this subject. She's a better person than I am.

Nothing New byslag at 9:48 PM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Bush v. America: If he loved it, he'd leave it

Independence Day: 1-20-09

Bush Tours America To Survey Damage Caused By His Disastrous Presidency

Nothing New byslag at 9:29 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

In Which I'm Glad to Be Wrong

Yesterday, I said that the left has zero influence outside of left blogistan:

I actually don't mind so much that Obama is distancing himself from the left for political gain. What I do mind is the fact that doing so only buys him distance from the left and not so much political gain. In case no one's noticed lately, the left has pretty much zero influence in the media and elsewhere. Most of the time, we can be safely assured that what happens in the progressive blogosphere stays in the progressive blogosphere. Not only that, but in the case of FISA, Obama distanced himself from both the left and the right--liberals and libertarians. That's like gaining zero-squared political ground since no one listens to libertarians either.
Today, in the New York Times, I read that left blogistan is being represented in the New York Times:
In recent days, more than 7,000 Obama supporters have organized on a social networking site on Mr. Obama’s own campaign Web site. They are calling on Mr. Obama to reverse his decision to endorse legislation supported by President Bush to expand the government’s domestic spying powers while also providing legal protection to the telecommunication companies that worked with the National Security Agency’s domestic wiretapping program after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Many of them have seen the issue of granting immunity to the telecommunications companies as a test of principle in their opposition to Mr. Bush’s surveillance program.

“I don’t think there has been another instance where, in meaningful numbers, his supporters have opposed him like this,” said Glenn Greenwald, a Salon.com writer who opposes Mr. Obama’s new position. “For him to suddenly turn around and endorse this proposal is really a betrayal of what so many of his supporters believed he believed in.”

Jane Hamsher, a liberal blogger who also opposes immunity for the phone companies, said she had been flooded with messages from Obama supporters frustrated with his new stance.

“The opposition to Obama’s position among his supporters is very widespread,” said Ms. Hamsher, founder of the Web site firedoglake.com. “His promise to filibuster earlier in the year, and the decision to switch on that is seen as a real character problem. I know people who are really very big Obama supporters are very disillusioned.”
So, thanks to Glenn Greenwald, Jane Hamsher, Markos Moulitsas, and the folks who set up the FISA group at mybarackobama.com, I am proven wrong. Not only did I read about the dissent from the left in the NYT, I heard about it on the radio. And just reading and hearing out in the world beyond the blogosphere that there is actual opposition to the Democrats' FISA capitulation appeases me on the issue to some extent (NYT appeasers!). Why? Because even if FISA passes (which it better not), I feel like there will be some political gain from our loss. As weird as that sounds, it annoys me that John McCain gets to run around pretending to be all mavericky just because he sometimes lets people believe that the giant amorphous mass of right wing wackos doesn't completely own him. And because the giant amorphous mass of wackos on the left doesn't often have a voice in the world, Obama gets labeled "the most liberal senator" and every move to the right goes almost unrecognized. In other words, I'm happy when Obama gets to publicly diss the left rather privately diss the left.

I was listening to David Bender talk about the idea that, when lefties take issue with our candidate, we should keep it quiet. We should present a united front against John McCain and suffer the slings and arrows of Obama's bad decisions silently and privately amongst ourselves. While I see the value in pumping up the unity angle, I think it's more important for everyone to see that people on the left actually do hold views that contradict some of Obama's decisions. Sometimes a lot of people. That way, Obama can hold us out as the wackos that he can rebel against (did I just say that?) and be all mavericky in his own right. Not that I would advocate this strategy as a regular course of action, mind you. It's just ok to do every now and again--in situations that aren't important and don't involve the 4th Amendment, obviously.

UPDATE: If you decide to join the mybarackobama FISA group here (as I did yesterday), I strongly recommend signing up for the digest version--not individual emails. Unless your inbox is incredibly lonely, that is.

Nothing New byslag at 6:36 PM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Yo Mama Got a Discount on Her Home Loan

The WaPo engages in some pretty well-unsubstantiated "symbolic issues" mongering by implying that corruption may have played a part in the Obamas' home loan:

The freshman Democratic senator received a discount. He locked in an interest rate of 5.625 percent on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, below the average for such loans at the time in Chicago. The loan was unusually large, known in banker lingo as a "super super jumbo." Obama paid no origination fee or discount points, as some consumers do to reduce their interest rates.

Compared with the average terms offered at the time in Chicago, Obama's rate could have saved him more than $300 per month.
Nate, at 538, offers a pretty good take-down of WaPo's fact-deprived innuendo:
So Obama's rate was 30 basis points better than the average. However, the amount of the loan and the nature of the property are not the only factors that determine a mortgage rate. Another major consideration is the creditworthiness of the borrower. According to current rate quotes from myFICO.com, a borrower with very good credit can expect a mortgage rate about 30 basis points better than someone with pretty good credit, and a borrower with excellent credit can expect about a 50 basis point discount.

Unless the Washington Post has access to Obama's FICO score -- and unless it has rented an apartment to him, it probably doesn't -- it is missing a pretty important piece of information on what Obama's mortgage rate ought to have been. What was Obama's FICO score? I don't know, but considering that...

* Obama had just gotten a $2.27 million book deal from Random House -- about $1 million more than the value of the mortgage.
* The Obamas each had exceptionally secure jobs that paid them a combined annual salary of about $500,000 per year.
* The Obamas had just sold their condo, on which they had realized a $137,500 profit.
* The Obamas were prominent public figures whose political futures depended in part on maintaining a reputation for responsibility and trustworthiness.
* The Obamas are known to be relatively thrifty and have no credit card debt but substantial savings....
But what are petty details to a "journalist" these days? And in case there was any doubt as to the true purpose of this WaPo article, the name "Tony Rezko" is tossed in right at the end there...no relation.

To be fair, maybe the WaPo is trying to up their flagging subscription rates by becoming yet another neocon tabloid journal. Of course, one could argue that they might increase their readership more quickly by becoming better at their jobs--not worse. And if they want to criticize Obama for something, let it be for something substantial. I'm keeping a list in case they're interested.

Nothing New byslag at 10:02 AM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Damned Chinese Imports

Apparently, the US's free trade agreements extend to torture techniques:

WASHINGTON — The military trainers who came to Guantánamo Bay in December 2002 based an entire interrogation class on a chart showing the effects of “coercive management techniques” for possible use on prisoners, including “sleep deprivation,” “prolonged constraint,” and “exposure.”

What the trainers did not say, and may not have known, was that their chart had been copied verbatim from a 1957 Air Force study of Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to obtain confessions, many of them false, from American prisoners. [emphasis mine]
U-S-A! U-S-A!...

Sometimes you just feel like you're living in a Lewis-Carroll-Washowski-Brothers-George-Orwell movie. When Alice Met Neorwell?

Nothing New byslag at 11:18 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Things I Get Excited About: Obama Moves to "The Center" Edition

* Obama fails to take lead on FISA and campaigns for FISA-loving bluedog in the process. How many times can I talk about this stupid, jerky move? How many will it take?

* Obama fails to tear down Bush's "bridge" between church and state and instead expands his faith-based initiatives program. This only bothers me if my church of pugilism is excluded from public funding. Well, that, and if this is the only bridge that survives the Bush regime.

* Obama fails to stand behind Wesley Clark, a Four-Star General whose service gets attacked by the McCain camp after he doesn't really attack McCain's service. How many times can I talk about this incident of Obama failing to stand up against lies being told about one of his own? It depends. How many presidential elections can the Democrats lose in an 8-year period?

Nothing New byslag at 10:34 PM 4 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Things I Can't Get Excited About: Obama Moves to "The Center" Edition

I know it's been a while since I've done a Things I Can't Get Excited About, but there's a reason. The reason is that I don't like blogging about things I can't get excited about. Nonetheless, for the record, it must be done. Let the ennui about Obama moving to "the center" begin!

*Obama disses public campaign financing. Apparently, all those Republican 527s he said would be coming after him don't exist. Oh wait. Yeah they do.

* Obama disses child rapists and kinda, sorta [hearts] guns. Ditto, man. I could get outraged if it were the other way around, though.

* Obama disses MoveOn. They're big boys and girls. They can take it.

* Obama disses the flag-burning hippies. They're big boys and girls. They can take it.

Personally, I don't see any of these issues as signs of significant movement to "the center". But some people do. I fail to understand why.

Nothing New byslag at 9:59 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Karmic Justice on Behalf of Wes Clark

I'm with Brandon Freidman:

The bottom line is this: If Democrats tuck tail and run from Republicans in this instance, we run the risk of ceding authority on military issues to John McCain for the rest of the campaign. Whether you like Clark or not, everyone has an interest in defending him vigorously in this case. We cannot allow the Right and the media to get away with trashing the first guy to come out in prime time to slam McCain’s military "expertise." If our organizations don’t defend Clark as being right in this case, we give in to the idea that Republicans are the parents in terms of national defense, and Democrats are the children--something those on the Right will be more than happy to reinforce.

This idea that we can’t question someone’s expertise on military matters simply because they served could very easily become the next "whoever is against the war is unpatriotic" mantra. And that’s not something I’m prepared to accept.
So, after signing the VoteVets petition, I sent this email to MSNBC:
Every time I hear on your programs that General Clark is "attacking" McCain's military service, I have to laugh. Your characterization is absurd. Simply pointing out the fact that serving in a war doesn't necessarily make a person Commander-in-Chief material is clearly not attacking the war service. My father served in Vietnam and earned the Purple Heart and a lifetime of disability. And while he's a decent man who served his country honorably, I wouldn't trust him within a thousand feet of the presidency. Do you see the distinction?
I generally don't like to personalize this stuff, but sometimes, I'm too lazy to do otherwise. Also, a belated congrats to Vote Vets for getting the new GI Bill passed! In spite of a lack of vote (!) from Senator John McCain. But don't worry, John, no one's attacking your military service. Just your public service. Do you see the distinction?

Nothing New byslag at 11:47 AM 4 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

A Battle of Wills

MFP and I keep getting donation request emails from the Obama campaign. For the last couple of weeks, we have been either ignoring them or sending replies indicating a certain level of dissatisfaction. From where we stand, reward comes after good behavior. Of course, we both desperately want Obama to win, so to some extent, every donation request email received is a test of wills. Can we hold out until Obama actually earns our monetary support again? It's a challenge, but I'm pretty sure we'll be able to bring ourselves to spend those minor ducats elsewhere on something fancy--like a socially responsible Roth IRA or something.

Glad to see Markos agrees:

It looks like Obama is gun-shy after sticking by Jeremiah Wright. Now, he can't move quickly enough to denounce his own allies. So he's cross at Wes Clark, and he's mighty cross at MoveOn as well! Who else will he be cross with as he kicks off "Operation Piss Off the People Supporting and Bankrolling His Campaign In Order To Prove He Hates the Dirty Fucking Hippies". Now that the primary is over, he can turn his back on the people that brought him.

I was going to max out to him today, given I haven't given Obama a dime yet (focusing on congressional candidates). But I changed my mind. He wants to send the message that he doesn't need us, all the power to him. Message received. I'll spend that $2,300 somewhere else.
I actually don't mind so much that Obama is distancing himself from the left for political gain. What I do mind is the fact that doing so only buys him distance from the left and not so much political gain. In case no one's noticed lately, the left has pretty much zero influence in the media and elsewhere. Most of the time, we can be safely assured that what happens in the progressive blogosphere stays in the progressive blogosphere. Not only that, but in the case of FISA, Obama distanced himself from both the left and the right--liberals and libertarians. That's like gaining zero-squared political ground since no one listens to libertarians either. But what he has earned himself is a monetary penalty. That, and whatever moral superiority he feels by proving to himself that he doesn't need grassroots efforts after all. Maybe that will help.

UPDATE: What Booman said.

Nothing New byslag at 10:07 AM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

The Tao of Puke-ilism

So, I was at the church of pugilism this weekend jumping rope, jumping jacks, and jumping around when, after the third or fourth round, I suddenly felt searing stomach cramps. Somewhere between wanting to faint and feeling the urge to take all of my insides out with a spoon, I managed to stumble over to the bench for a breather. While I've been winded at the gym before, this particular feeling was definitely new--and not at all good. My pugilism instructor came over to check me out and give me some advice on how to get through it. She said that engaging the muscles that were cramping would be the best relief, and when I was mentally alert enough to take her advice, I found she was right.

Getting back into the circuit, I eventually ended up at the round in which we were supposed to lay horizontally on our stomachs on a piece of equipment and fold forward to pick up weights. Imagining myself in this position while still feeling a bit nauseous, I balked. I mentioned to my instructor that I was worried that, if I were to get in that position, my insides would indeed make their way to the outside. Her response: "If you puke, you puke. It wouldn't be the first time someone puked in this gym, and it probably won't be the last."

In the end, my instructor was quite right. Not just because my upchuck fears were unfounded and that I was able to complete the round with my insides still inside. But because even if I hadn't been able to keep them in, so what? Whenever we're afraid of something, we often ask ourselves, "What's the worst that can happen?", in order to quell our fears and move forward. While sometimes that question is useful for me, I must admit that it doesn't always help me give the proper weight to the actual potential consequences at hand. So, in spite of its crude overtones, using puke as a metaphor in some daunting situations may be a better remedy for getting over them. Puking is embarrassing and feels gross, but often no loss of limb or life is involved. It just feels awful for a while and eventually goes away. This is the case with most situations that keep us from challenging ourselves.

Consequently, the next time I find myself dithering in the face of opposition, I'm simply going to recall the kind, yet uncompromisingly matter-of-fact, voice of my pugilism instructor saying, "If you puke, you puke." And even if I do, so what? It's happened before and will probably happen again.

Nothing New byslag at 8:06 AM 6 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

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