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»  January 31, 2008


Senryū Eight. Blame It On Rio:

Hitler dances on
Paper-maché Jews
At the Copacabana

Judge bans Holocaust float, 'Hitler' in Rio's carnival

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) — A Rio judge Thursday banned a float depicting Holocaust victims and an Adolf Hitler costume due to take part in this weekend's carnival parade, saying they trivialized Nazi atrocities.

The carnival "cannot be used as a tool in the cult of hate or for any form of racism ... or for the banalization of barbaric events," judge Juliana Kalichszteim said, upholding a complaint by the city's Jewish community.

The Unidos do Viradouro samba school, one of 12 competing in the parades to take place Sunday and Monday night, had planned to enter the float and a dancer dressed as Hitler as part of its theme protesting horrifying human actions.

Its creative director, Paulo Barros, had insisted the morbid float -- which depicts skeletal figures piled on top of each other -- was a "very respectful" reminder of the Holocaust and a warning that it should "never be repeated."



»  January 30, 2008


A War We Should Have Won: In an open letter from October 2007 now featured on the home page of the Democratic Leadership Council, Chairman Harold Ford of the DLC and Kansas Governor Kathleen Sibelius of the Democratic Governors Association define the issues they believe the Democratic presidential candidates need to address and how they should deal with them.

In the introduction of the letter, Sibelius and Ford lay out the challenges facing the next administration, including this one:

We are engaged in what has become a civil war in Iraq -- a war we either should have won, or never have fought.
If you want proof of intellectual bankruptcy at the DLC and the Democratic party leadership, there it is. Just over three months ago -- even after learning all we have about the lies that led the US into war, the hundreds of thousands of dead, and the millions of refugees, the destruction of Fallujah and much of the rest of the country -- the bright lights at the DLC still think the war could have been "won."

Not that there was any justification for going to war in Iraq in the first place, of course.



Senryū Seven. The South:

It rhymes because it's
The South

"I wish there was somebody worth voting for," said Buford Moss, a retired Union Carbide worker sitting at the back table of Bucky's Family Restaurant here, with a group of regulars, in a county seat that — as the home of the 11th president, James K. Polk — is one of the ancestral homelands of Jacksonian Democracy.

"The Democrats have left the working people," Mr. Moss said.

"We have nobody representing us," he continued, adding that he was "sad to say" he had voted previously for Mr. Bush. He was considering sitting out this election altogether. "Anyone but Obama-Osama," he said, chuckling at a designation that met with mirthful approval at the table.



Cheat Mode Active!: Someone finally returned the second disk in the fourth season of The Wire to Netflix, so I could go ahead and watch the third and fourth disks that I'd jumped ahead of the waitlisted disk (I have to invent a term for that technique). Then, in the middle of a little mini-marathon of episodes (specifically, "Corner Boys"), there's this reference to some long-ago thing in my past.


»  January 29, 2008


Danger UXB2IED: Danger UXB2IED Jonathan Schwarz at A Tiny Revolution links to Tom Engelhardt's long article on air war tactics in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the use of air munitions to explode buried bombs and weapons caches. According to a photoessay in Foreign Affairs a year ago, 20% of Iraqis live within a mile of an area covered with unexploded munitions.

I wonder if you could use the explosive material from unexploded bombs to make, you know, an IED or something.



The Groundhog Cometh: As anyone in Oregon who's ever given their email address to the Democratic Party of Multnomah County knows, they're having their Dick Celsi Awards Dinner this Saturday. But did you know that there's a prominent national Democrat who's going to be in town that day who's not mentioned on the program?

It's odd, because DLC chairman Harold Ford, Jr. could probably make dinner at 5:30. He's speaking at Reed College at 2pm to kick off their Black History Month events (as I mentioned earlier this month).

It seems unlikely that Mr. Ford would fly all the way out here for a speech at a small --- though admittedly prestigious -- college and not take care of some other sort of political business, particularly when the state's got an election on this year for a potentially vulnerable Senate seat (not that he was particularly good at winning Senate seats).

Do you suppose he might be meeting up with some local politicians and candidates? Either at the dinner or behind the scenes? Will he meet up with the Senate candidates? Just one or the other?



Senryū Six. Santayana: Putting my motto into action:

Germans seem to know
Those who do not learn
From history are stupid


»  January 28, 2008


The Center Is Never Wrong :

Most of the comments I've seen about Markos Moulitsas's interview at Radar Online last year have had to do with his claim that "Bill Clinton destroyed the Democratic Party". I'm down with that.

Where he's completely off base though is this:

You can lose with all your convictions intact and that's great—now we have George Bush with hundreds of thousands dead in Iraq because of the left's insistence, via Ralph Nader, on putting purity above practicality.
Is it ever not the left's fault in the minds of these Johnny-come-lately Democrats? Right, it was the left that made Al Gore too stupid to take down someone like George Bush in the campaign. It was the left that made Al Gore pick Joe Lieberman as his running mate.

Poor the candidates. Always beholden to the whims of the left. People used to blame the length of the Vietnam War on the large demonstrations that enraged people in the '60s and '70s. Well, we haven't exactly had anything equivalent going on, but the Iraq War's still lasted five years and it's not ending anytime soon, so I think that excuse is just about used up.



1776: According to my little counter above, it's been 1776 days since the invasion of Iraq.



Kicking It Up a Notch On the Campaign Trail: GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is calling out GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney over whether fried chicken should be eaten with the skin on (Huckabee) or off (Romney), which bring to mind another political rivalry over "proper" food ettiquette which I've mentioned before in passing but which has also been noted by the folks at Emeril Lagasse's place:

Question: In 1930, Governor Huey Long began extolling the virtues of a popular Southern food, calling it "the noblest dish the mind of man has yet conceived." He also gave explicit directions on how the dish was to be eaten. By the following year, his pronouncements had generated a national debate, with Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt of New York taking an opposing view. What was the food in question, and how did Long and Roosevelt differ over how it should be eaten?

Answer: The food was potlikker, the liquid left in the pan from cooking turnip greens or collards. Long proclaimed that it should be eaten with cornpone, which should be dipped in the potlikker. Crumbling the pone into a bowl of potlikker was strictly taboo. Roosevelt, on the other hand, preferred to crumble his cornpone into the potlikker.


What the...?  

Senryū Five. The Season: I suppose this could nominally be called a haiku, since does mention a season...

Cold and flu season
Pay no attention to the
Worldwide pile of birds



A Different State of the Union : Don't want to wait for the State of the Union speech tonight? Want to get to the drinking earlier than 9pm Eastern? Well, I can help.

A couple of years back, Stan Ridgway, the lead singer for the 1980s band Wall of Voodoo ("Mexican Radio") and his wife Pietra Wexstun put out an album called Barbeque Babylon, under their alternate band name: Drywall.

The CD has a hidden bonus track Stan composed, which is built from the 2003 SotU -- with a little bit of a beat and just a few edits to make the meaning more clear. You can go to Stan's Download page and grab it for free (look for the second entry on the page, "hidden bonus track # 16") or you can just click here and listen for five minutes and get it all over with.


What the...?  

The Plantagenets: From City News Notes and Queries (Reprinted from the "Manchester City News") (1885), my great-great-great-great grandfather may make an appearance.

The late Mr. Shirley was in the habit of saying that the descendents of the Plantagenets must now be look for among the humbler classes of Englishment named Plant; and the Times, in reviewing a book on geneaology some time ago, said that a turnpike collector of that name in Buckinghamshire had derived in lineal descent from the royal family in the Plantagenet lines. Some hundred and fifty years ago [c. 1735] there was a William Plant living at Winsford, in this county (Cheshire), who also claimed a royal ancestry. In 1829 his grandson, Uriah Plant, published a curious volume of "the principal events" in his own life; a book rarely met with in these days, for it was of no public interest, although noticeable as having been printed at Middlewich.
We can only be thankful Middlewich printed it.

Five years earlier there's this from the Stockport Advertiser Notes and Queries (10 November 1883):

In an old document now before me, I see the name of William Plant, of Winsford, in Cheshire, who also claimed a royal ancestry; and he had a son, Samuel Plant, who lived a hundred years ago at a place called Lach-Dennis, near Northwich, but who afterwards removed to Wincham. His fifth son, Urian Plant, published in 1829 a curious volume of "The Principal Events" in his own life; a book rarely met with in these days, for it was of no public interest, although noticeable as having been printed at Middlewich.
By an odd coincidence, we stayed overnight in Stockport before flying out of Manchester airport last October. Either the same person was writing and recycling responses to inquiries or we've got a 120-year-old case of plagarism on our hands (the earlier Stockport response begins with the bit about "Mr. Shirley" verbatim).

At least someone found it useful. From Jonathan Rose's The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes (2001):

Uriah Plant (b. 1786), a wheelwright's son, affirmed that "My uncertainty about the truth of religion not only increased my sense of its importance ... but gave me a habit of thinking, a love of reading, and a desire after knowledge." As an office boy and bookkeeper in Leicester he organized a discussion group devoted to religion and, over six years, spent "only" £21 10s. 9d. on books, mostly second-hand. He fearlessly read across the spectrum of theological opinion, including The Age of Reason, and opposed the suppression of antireligious literature. Later he joined the Wesleyan Methodists without completely accepting their dogma, noting that Wesley in "The Witness of the Spirit" was rather more liberal than some of his followers.


»  January 27, 2008


Senryū Four. An Old Joke:

News of improvement
Greatly exaggerated
Franco is still dead

[Edited from the original because I miscounted syllables. That's what I get for posting at 1:30am after drinking with friends. -DP]


»  January 26, 2008


Senryū Three. Motto: Speaking of slogans...

"Don't tread on me"
Is so much better than
"Do not sit on a thistle."

Nor did it help when The Times of London cynically sponsored a British motto-writing contest for its readers.

The readers' suggestions included "Dipso, Fatso, Bingo, Asbo, Tesco" (Asbo stands for "anti-social behavior order," a law-enforcement tool, while Tesco is a ubiquitous supermarket chain); "Once Mighty Empire, Slightly Used"; "At Least We're Not French"; and "We Apologize for the Inconvenience." The winner, favored by 20.9 percent of the readers, was "No Motto Please, We're British."


In the House of Lords, there was a surreal debate on the nonmotto, even after Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, an official in the Ministry of Justice, said flatly that there were no plans to have one.


The Earl of Mar and Kellie then suggested that the British could use the Scottish motto "Nemo me impune lacessit," which he translated from the Latin as "Do not sit on a thistle." (Actually, it means "no one attacks me with impunity.")


»  January 25, 2008


You Don't Need a Slogan: From Curtis J. Austin's highly-recommended (by me) Up Against the Wall: Violence in the Making and Unmaking of the Black Panther Party on the introduction of the phrase "black power":

He [Martin Luther King, Jr.] told [Stokely] Carmichael, who became a national leader of the new movement, after the latter complained about being lambasted in the press over the phrase's implications, that the difference in the mainstream treatment of him and the young firebrand was "simple." Referring to the expression black power, King gently explained to Carmichael that, "Maybe I just don't talk about it." One-time King lieutenant Andrew Young explained that the reverend believed that "if you go around claiming power, the whole society turns on you and crushes you." According to Young, King believed that had been the reason why Jews and Catholics, both powerful entities in American society, "denied" they had any real power. Young concluded of King that "it was not black power that he was against, it was the slogan Black Power, because he said, 'If you really have power you don't need a slogan.'"


What the...?  

Senryū Two. Stay Demented:

Music is often
Funnier than you think
The Doctor is in.

January 2008


Paideia event: Dr. Demento

Dr. Demento returns to Reed with lecture and music presentations:

January 25: Musical Comedy in the 21st Century
Funny music is flourishing under the radar, and Dr. Demento is not just talking about Weird Al. We listen to and watch some of the most hilarious and creative examples of recent years.


»  January 24, 2008


Senryū One. Kucinich:

Dennis is out
Into what hole can I
Now put my money?



It's Time to Get America Back On Track: Out and about just now, NPR was reporting that Dennis Kucinich is ending his quixotic bid for the White House, with a formal announcement tomorrow. That leaves only one option for me.


What the...?  

Fortunes From the Cookies: Cleaning off the desk and ran across these amongst the receipts.

You have a charming way with words and should write a book.
I don't know about "charming", but when did fortunes pick up this nagging tone? I know, I know, I need to get one of them done.
An admirer is concealing his affection for you.
Good. I hope it stays concealed. I mean, unless he's got publishing connections....


»  January 23, 2008


False Memory Syndrome: I wrote a comment at Blue Oregon about the Liz Kimmerly/Progressive Democrats of America/Steve Novick flap that apparently annoyed Kari Chisholm:

Posted by: darrelplant | Jan 22, 2008 10:58:43 PM

Between this kind of crap, the sporadic red-baiting that Kari seems to have no problem with, and Blue Oregon's lust over the past couple of years for a sales tax, I might as well just read a GOP blog.

Kari responded -- but about the sales tax, not the red-baiting -- and I tried to post a further response which may or may not make it through the BO comment spam filter.
Kari writes:
I haven't the foggiest clue what you're talking about when you say BlueOregon has a lust for a sales tax. BlueOregon itself, of course, has no opinions. It's just a bunch of files on a server. Maye you're talking about the broader community that hands out here 'round the water cooler. (Personally, I hate the sales tax. But maybe that's just the point - I definitely don't control what people say here.)
Kari, are you claiming that you don't even control what you say here? That seems preposterous.
  1. On 19 December 2007, Jeff Alworth posted "Time for a Sales Tax?" in which he repeated the false claim that a sales tax isn't necessarily regressive. He pointed to the Oregon Economics blog as an authority on that (following up, of course, on Rep. Scott Bruun's op-ed). I was able to provide actual non-theoretical data showing that not only are sales taxes regressive, but that they aren't even a stabilizing influence on the revenue stream.
  2. On 21 October 2007, "Let's talk about taxes" was posted, discussing Ted Kulongoski's and Kurt Schrader's mentions of a sales tax. In this discussion, you were at least somewhat understanding of the problems of a sales tax, but continued to try to find ways to make it palatable, despite your burning hatred.
  3. "Create sales tax and reduce income taxes?" was posted on 1 February 2007 without editorial comment. Far from saying that you hated the idea, Kari, you wrote "I'm not sure about this one. Will have to dig in and think about it."
  4. On 11 May 2006, "Tax Reform" mentioned an Oregonian op-ed calling for a sales tax (in conjunction with cuts in out "very high" income tax). Your first comment, Kari, was to defend the proposal's per capita credit that you claimed would have a progressive effect. Again, there's no evidence in that or further comments of your "hate" for a sales tax.
  5. An unsigned post on 12 April 2006 titled "Time for a Sales Tax?" calls Oregon a state "where not having a sales tax is a cultural value" before it mentions Ben Westlund and Ted Kulongoski's support for it. Jeff very vigorously defended the concept of a sales tax on that discussion and you tried to split the difference between Kulongoski's "consumption tax" and a sales tax.
In mitigation, there have been a couple of Chuck Sheketoff posts (for instance, the one disputing item 1) but there are many, many other comments and several other posts I didn't include here in which you and Jeff stick up for the idea of a sales tax. I don't have the time to dig them up this morning, but I could get around to it later. In discussions, I can't remember either of you ever taking the opposite position. So I guess by "Blue Oregon" I'm referring to you and Jeff -- you know, two of the three names listed as "Editors" on the right side of the page. I didn't mistake a "bunch of files on a server" as Blue Oregon, they're just there as evidence that your "hate" for a sales tax is apparently the weakest form of hate known to humankind.


»  January 22, 2008


Ferret Love: Twenty-odd years ago back when I was a young man working at Himber's book warehouse in Eugene unpacking box after box of everything from Gödel, Escher, Bach to Sweet Valley High: Double Love, I picked up the habit of reading the back cover copy of nearly everything that I touched, just to inform myself about what was on the market. I had a particular fondness for the copy on romance novels, and when I found a particularly good one, I'd save it for a dramatic reading to my co-workers, which usually got a laugh.

After I moved to Portland and had worked at Powell's for a while, I ended up in charge of stocking the popular fiction section. I called it the "swastika and bodice" section, because about half of what I stocked was thrillers of some sort, which tended to have visual referents to the Communists or the Nazis on the cover, or they were romance titles. I continued my practice of reading out the covers, and at one point made the suggestion that this could be turned into some sort of event.

Other, more-highly-placed people than myself (I didn't even do the ordering for the section, which was itself looked down upon because it was, well "popular" fiction) did the organizing, but on the next Valentines Day, there was a packed crowd in the Anne Hughes Coffee Room, where several actresses from the community -- and one guy, me -- read passages from a variety of bizarre and sultry novels.

None of them, however, had anything about ferrets in them, so far as I'm aware.


What the...?  

At the Movies: Barbara's comment at the end of Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: "I don't suppose there'll be any of those humorous outtakes during the credits."


»  January 21, 2008


The War On MLK Day 2008:

I could reprint my original post on The War On MLK Day, as usual, or I could just recommend you read The Rude Pundit (like you already haven't if you're getting this far down in the blogobarrel).


»  January 18, 2008


Common Sense: Harvey J. Kaye, author of Thomas Paine and the Promise of America, on Bill Moyers Journal:

HARVEY J. KAYE: And what-- and something happened in the Seventies. The liberals and radicals divided themselves, okay? It was breaking up post '68. I mean, this is my generation we're talking about. Conservatives were utterly worried that the vast progressive cohorts were going to create some singular movement. Meanwhile, liberal and leftists are falling apart. They're going at each other like cats and dogs. And liberal politicians watching the rise of the new right pulled back. They run scared. We saw it with, I mean, Carter was the first of the conservative Democrats to my mind.

The Clinton years. I mean, Clinton gave people hope when he ran. He talked about change. What did we get? We got a Democratic party or at least we got a Democratic administration that put more of its political capital into getting NAFTA passed which was a Republican initiative than they did to pass the national health care. So, one can imagine that Americans themselves are wondering, wait a minute. Why do I need-- why do I need to lean liberal and democratic? I mean, what's going on here?


And I ask myself, why amongst the Democratic cohorts say in the Congress and in the Senate we're not seeing people come forth and saying, okay. We may not be able to get a time table for withdrawal from Iraq. Let's get a time table for national health care. Let's ask our Congress, congressional comrades, the Republicans, are they willing to support national health care? We don't even have to lay out a plan. We just want to have a time table for how we're going to go about doing it. I ask myself why we don't hear Democratic candidates say, "We're Americans. We have nothing to be afraid of with immigration. In fact, why not a new deal on immigration? Why aren't we investing heavily in incorporating, if you like, people don't like to use this word, on assimilating all these new immigrants. Why do we view them as a threat? Why are we afraid of the very people who remind us of what we're about?


»  January 17, 2008


Making Gates Happy: From an NPR "Morning Edition" interview with Defense Secretary Robert Gates:

Well, given that, do you assume, just for planning purposes that the administration that follows you will pursue roughly the same policy in Iraq?

Well, first I would say I don't do politics – [chuckles] – and I certainly will not be here after Jan. 20, 2009. But I was heartened in the debate among the Democratic candidates a few weeks ago, that when asked if they would commit to having all U.S. troops out of Iraq by the end of their first term, the leading candidates all declined to make that commitment.


»  January 15, 2008


Question for the Debate: My question for the Las Vegas Democratic Party debate tonight, just in case NBC wins its appeal of the ruling forcing Rep. Dennis Kucinich's inclusion:

Do you agree with NBC's decision to exclude Dennis Kucinich from the debate tonight based on his showing in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primaries, taking into consideration that he was excluded from the debates immediately preceding each of those events and that the results of the polls in New Hampshire have shown they're not 100% accurate in predicting levels of support?


»  January 14, 2008


Here's the Plan. We Get the Warhead and We Hold the World Ransom for: One. Million. Dollars.:

It's been over four and a half years since New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman compared the need to go to war in Iraq with oral rape in an interview on "Charlie Rose", with Chuck sitting and and lapping up the pearls of wisdom dripping from Tom's mouth, but there's ever so much more in the hour-long interview that strips the curtain from the naked psyche of Friedman.

Take, for instance, this glorious thirty seconds or so, near the end of the interview (beginning at 51:10, if you think you can stomach it). Transcript is mine.

THOMAS FRIEDMAN: I was in Cairo while the war was going on. The American Embassy asked me if I would have a tea one afternoon in Fishawi's Coffee Shop where uh, um, Naguib Mahfouz used to hang out in the Khan el Khalili market, with a group of opposition --

CHARLIE ROSE: The famous Egyptian novelist.

FRIEDMAN: -- journalists. So I met with these opposition journalists and they were all going on and on about um, uh, how bad this war was. And I finally, y'know, said to them: "Look. Maybe we're going to totally blow it. Maybe we in the United States will make the biggest mess in the Middle East. But what if we don't? What if," I said to them [brings index finger to lips], "by the year -- let's pick a number: 2005 -- Iraq holds a free and fair election. Jimmy Carter comes over and says this was a free and fair election. Wait a minute! Who else is holding an election in 2005? Egypt's holding an election in 2005! [ROSE smiles with delight at the story so far.] Now do you think Hosni Mubarak, the president of Egypt could hold an election any less free and fair in Cairo in 2005 if in Baghdad there is a free and fair election? I don't think so."

So that's why what goes on in Baghdad is so important.

2005, eh? Well, we'll just see about that, Mr. Friedman!

The famous "Suck. On. This." sequence starts at 5:00. Lots of stuff in-between.

[The alternate title for this post was: "Pissed-Off Egyptian Journalists: 1, Tom Friedman: 0" because they got it right, but then they have to live with the results of Friedman's disaster and Friedman gets another book contract.]


»  January 13, 2008

What the...?  

And They Say There's No Great Art in Portland:

Wrapped Building

Every couple of years, the Oregonian dredges up some relatively recent transplant to Oregon to write an op-ed bemoaning the weather, the laid-back atmosphere, the general lack of culture, the scarcity of ultra-expensive lofts, etc. Well, the latter two items have been taken care of, with the new condo development designed by Christo across from the Lone Fir Cemetery on Morrison Street.



Recount the Debate: The New Hampshire election wrap-up thread at Blue Oregon has devolved into a discussion of the allegations of voting fraud levelled by people who think that the fact that Barack Obama was predicted to win the Democratic primary by a good margin in the pre-election polling and ended up a couple of percentage points behind Hillary Clinton in the actual election means that there was some hanky-panky going on in the Diebold boxes.

Conspiracy theorists are calling for a recount, as is Dennis Kucinich, who's doing it for -- I think -- a different reason, although I don't have any inside info.

Kucinich was excluded from the ABC-sponsored New Hampshire debate on the Saturday before the election even though he scored higher than the included Bill Richardson in ABC's own poll, because he didn't make at least a fourth-place finish in Iowa or meet a minimum of 5% in a national poll. (He's also been disinvited from the NBC debate on 15 January in Las Vegas less than two days after receiving a formal invite.)

Then, of couse, sometime in the three days between the debates and the election, everything changed. At least for Obama.

As for the recount, I doubt it would make a whit of difference. Kucinich himself says he has no expectation that a recount "will significantly affect the number of votes that were cast on my behalf" but that it would help put the rumors to rest.

Now, I don't work for the Kucinich campaign in any capacity (I suspect that I probably got more on unemployment than I could working for the campaign in any capacity) but I have a little theory about why Kucinich might be making this little stand on vote accountability.

I think he's pretty sure Obama isn't going to call for a recount. For one thing Obama has nothing real to gain from a recount since he got the same number of delegates in New Hampshire as Clinton, and the vote would have to be waaaay off in order to gain another convention delegate. Or lose a convention delegate if the count went the other way.

The thing is, if there's no recount, there has to be an admission that the polls are inaccurate enough that three days before the election everyone assumed Obama was a sure winner even though he ended up in very close second.

I think what we'll see from the Kucinich camp is a questioning of the method by which he was excluded form the final debate in the first primary state (where he had done a lot of campaigning), based as it was on polls that have now been proven fallible by the election. He won't make the case that he would have been the winner, but he'll probably ask whether the polls can accurately gauge his level of support and how that criteria can be used to exclude him from the debates if they can't even get the winner correct. Arguably, being in the debate might have done something to his numbers in the election, either way.

At least, that's how I'd frame the argument if it was me.


»  January 11, 2008


Petrodollars: Mary Rocco sent this BlimpTV piece. Beats my "Hurricane Katrina/New Orleans" commemorative plate all to heck.



The Threat Defined Down: Inspired by a comment from someone calling themselves "CranialRectalLoopback" (January 11, 2008 12:25 PM) on a Talking Points Memo article about the Iranian speedboat "situation" earlier this week, some modified remarks from the White House. From President Bush abd Russian President Putin Participate in Press Availability:

Q Have you discussed proliferation of speedboats, and what are the results of your talks?

PRESIDENT BUSH: We sure have. We talked about our concerns about Iran developing a speedboat, or Iran having the capacity to make a speedboat, and we talked about North Korea. And the results of our talks are that we agree that we've got to work together to send a common message to both that there is a better way forward for these leaders.

From Remarks by the Vice President and Mrs. Cheney at a Town Hall Meeting:
We've already imposed unilateral economic sanctions ourselves. But the next step, in effect, cutting off trade for them with the outside world would be, obviously, a pretty heavy blow. And we'd like to try to resolve it peacefully, diplomatically if we can. We think that's preferable. But nobody is very interested in having an Iran sitting in its location where it does under this government equipped with speedboats. So it's a priority for us. I say, we're trying to work it diplomatically. And that obviously would be a priority for us in the second term. (Applause.)
From President Bush Addresses the 89th Annual National Convention of the American Legion:
I want our fellow citizens to consider what would happen if these forces of radicalism and extremism are allowed to drive us out of the Middle East. The region would be dramatically transformed in a way that could imperil the civilized world. Extremists of all strains would be emboldened by the knowledge that they forced America to retreat. Terrorists could have more safe havens to conduct attacks on Americans and our friends and allies. Iran could conclude that we were weak -- and could not stop them from gaining speedboats. And once Iran had speedboats, it would set off a speedboat race in the region.



The Timing Couldn't Be Better: From CBS News

President Bush said Friday that he would return to the Mideast in May to mark ally Israel's 60th anniversary and to continue pushing for a peace pact between Israel and the Palestinians, an indication that Bush intends to put a personal stamp on peacemaking efforts that could crown his final year in office.
Yes, that pretty much does put his "personal stamp" on it.



Abrakabramowitz!: In a "Post Politics Hour" online discussion the morning of the New Hampshire primary, Washington Post White House reporter Michael Abramowitz was asked a question about the amount of time media organizations spend handicapping the politcal horserace as opposed to discussions of candidate positions on issues: <

b>Anonymous: I am saddened by the fact that the media are focusing attention so much on personalities and who-is-ahead-this-minute in the primary races that we are hearing so little about the candidates¿ positions. Obama is described as inspiring, but what are his beliefs/positions? I do not know. Huckabee is described as affable, and his gaffes make news, and when he says he wants to get rid of the IRS he gets applause, but I have not read his explanation of the increased sales tax he wants to replace the income tax (I have seen estimates of the new sales tax needing to be as high as 50 percent to offset lost revenue, but the absolutely staggering impact of such a sales tax increase is not the subject of any analysis I have seen). Wait, Hillary may have cried -- now that is important.

washingtonpost.com: Criticism Aside, 'FairTax' Boosts Huckabee Campaign (Post, Dec. 28)

Michael Abramowitz: This is a traditional and, in my view, fair criticism of the way the media covers elections. We do write about the candidates' positions and their biographies, but much less than we do about the process of the race. We still have 10 months to go to election day, however, and I am sure the nominees of both parties will be vetted properly by the news media and others. I certainly hope so!

Now, I was under the impression that sometime between now and "election day" in ten months there were these things called "primaries" and "caucuses", then "conventions", in which the parties selected the nominees who would appear as the representatives of their party on the general election ballot. It seems like Abramowitz is saying that all that boring issues stuff isn't needed before, say, Super Duper Tuesday -- less than a month off -- when some 40% of the delagates to each party will be selected.

Wouldn't it be a good idea to give voters the chance to hear the issues of all of the potential nominees and vet them before the convention? I sure hope so!


»  January 10, 2008


Edwards Swiftboats Kerry: 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry came out and endorsed Barack Obama and people are buzzing about a falling out after the 2004 election caused by his vice presidential choice John Edwards's unsuccessful attempt to convince Kerry to contest the Ohio election results.

Of course, there's another theory, which is that the falling out resulted from earlier events, which The New York Times reported in a November story about how Kerry and Edwards didn't always get along:

And there was the overshadowing issue of Iraq, a debate that brought out everything Mr. Edwards found most maddening about Mr. Kerry.

Both men had voted for the 2002 resolution authorizing President Bush to go to war with Iraq; Mr. Edwards had sponsored it with Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut. In 2004, they found themselves in an impossible position: antiwar Democrats were pushing Mr. Kerry to say he would pull out troops, while Republicans were calling him a flip-flopper whenever he tried to attack Mr. Bush on the war.

Mr. Kerry had increasing doubts about the war. But Mr. Edwards argued that they should not renounce their votes — they had to show conviction and consistency.

Mr. Kerry yielded to his running mate after Mr. Bush issued a challenge in early August: would Mr. Kerry still vote the same way, knowing now that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction? Mr. Kerry told reporters he would have voted the same, but done everything else about the war differently.

The Republicans delighted in another flip-flop. Six weeks later, Mr. Kerry gave a speech at New York University declaring that he would not have voted for the war, calling it a “profound diversion” from the real threat, Osama bin Laden. Mr. Edwards had argued against the speech in a conference call into the early morning hours. While Mr. Kerry was hailed for showing resolve, the campaign never fully recovered from the accusation that the Democratic presidential candidate — unlike Mr. Bush — did not know what he stood for.

The same article mentions Edwards's reluctance to play the attack dog for the ticket (in addition to Kerry's refusal to contest Ohio). The "yielding" mentioned in the article took place in early August. Attack ads from the Swiftboat Veterans and POWs for Truth began in the middle of the month. From the same article:
At the Democratic convention in late July, Mr. Kerry’s advisers encouraged Mr. Edwards to reprise his theme of the primaries, a pledge to bridge the gap between two Americas, one rich, one struggling. Preaching "the politics of hope," Mr. Edwards mocked the negative campaigning the Republicans were sure to deliver: "Don’t you just hate it?"

But the convention was barely over when the attacks began, starting with the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth accusing Mr. Kerry of lying about his military record. Kerry aides complained that Mr. Edwards would resist or try to tone down language when they asked him to deliver negative lines — "pundit lines," as one of Mr. Edwards’s aides scoffed. He argued it was more important to talk about what the Democrats would do differently rather than what the Republicans had done wrong.

He objected to anything more than the most generic attacks on the Bush administration. After weeks of battering by the Swift boat group, he called only for the president to "stop these ads." When Mr. Cheney said voting for the Democrats would invite a terror attack, Mr. Edwards called it "un-American."

Now, if it was me, I might not want to endorse the guy I'd let talk me into staying the course on Iraq while I was trying to win an election. Particularly if that guy renounced the Iraq war himself a year later. It's an old story. George McGovern actually voted for Gerald Ford and Bob Dole over Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale, four years after Carter had been involved with efforts to thwart what should have been a settled nomination at the 1972 Democratic convention (although he says it was because he knew Ford better).

Personally, I'm still waiting to hear an answer to my question for Edwards.



Groundhog Day: My alma mater is observing Black History Month -- in this year where one of the presidential nominees may very well be a bit darker-skinned than anyone behind the desk in the Oval Office in all of American history -- with events celebrating "Politics Activism Art". They've got Mary Frances Berry, who served on the US Commission on Civil Rights through the Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Reagan years. They've got artist/activist Faith Ringgold.

But they're kicking it off on Groundhog Day (okay, that's always during Black History Month) with a lecture featuring Harold Ford, Jr. Harold Ford, Jr.? The head of the DLC, Harold Ford, Jr.?

It's a joke that practically writes itself.


What the...?  


Oregon State Capitol on Wikipedia Home Page

2,169,030 articles on Wikipedia and the Oregon State Capitol is "Today's featured article".


»  January 8, 2008


Email to Wolf Blitzer:

I'm curious why, when you have Madeleine Albright, the former Secretary of State and one of the top Democratic voices on foreign affairs, on The Situation Room to talk about whether Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton is more experienced in national defense matters, you didn't ask her why she thought Clinton voted against the majority of Democrats in Congress to support the war in Iraq, and why Albright herself thought it was a good idea, given that everything the administration said about the imminent threat Saddam posed was false, just like the people who voted against the AUMF (and the UN weapons inspectors) said they were. Can you enlighten me?



Kucinich and Moyers:

Dennis Kucinich on Bill Moyers' Journal:

He's campaigning with Aragorn today.


»  January 7, 2008



North Vietnamese T-54 crashing through the gates of the Independence Palace in Saigon

Wow. It's been a long time since I saw "The Beverley Hillbillies", but I thought I'd seen more or less all of them as a kid in reruns in the afternoons. This is TV.com's summary of episode 174(!) from season 6, called "Greetings From the President" which aired on 11 October 1967, which I surely don't remember.

Just as the Clampetts are preparing to go home to the hills, Jethro receives a draft notice from the President. The women go ahead without them, and Jethro gets a few uniforms from the movie studio, one of a Prussian Field Marshall and one for General Patton. Jethro buys a tank and hopes for a crew, employing Drysdale as it in a Prussian Field Marshall uniform. While in Griffith Park, the park ranger reports what he saw, and two cops come down to investigate. During target practice, one of the cops, Charley, questions Drysdale, realizing he was the man who was the reason he was captured during WWII. An upset Jethro arrives at the mansion, and Jed asks if he will take him to the Sheriff’s office because Drysdale needs bail money and money to repay Charley, or else he may get shot.
Bring on the funny! The day after it aired, Secretary of State Dean Rusk said Congressional proposals to exit Vietnam would "subject this country to mortal danger."


»  January 6, 2008


Nixon Was Bad:

McGovern Campaign Button Collection
available from Dakota Wesleyan University

It may seem like an obvious statement, but it's actually just a fragment of the subtitle in Senator George McGovern's Washington Post op-ed today, advocating the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

I believe we have a chance to heal the wounds the nation has suffered in the opening decade of the 21st century. This recovery may take a generation and will depend on the election of a series of rational presidents and Congresses. At age 85, I won't be around to witness the completion of the difficult rebuilding of our sorely damaged country, but I'd like to hold on long enough to see the healing begin.

There has never been a day in my adult life when I would not have sacrificed that life to save the United States from genuine danger, such as the ones we faced when I served as a bomber pilot in World War II. We must be a great nation because from time to time, we make gigantic blunders, but so far, we have survived and recovered.

Believe on, George. Believe on. (h/t Atrios)


»  January 5, 2008


The Drunk Joke Always Slays: A comment from yours truly at a Daily Kos diary about Elizabeth Edwards's appearance with Chris Matthews, where he complained about trial lawyers (quote is approximate but accurate overall):

PA (15+ / 0-)

Chris: "Ya canneven finna -- hic -- finna bartenner in Pennsylvannia annymor cuzzu the trial -- hic -- liars. Did annywun ever tell you you hadda priddy face?"

I think there will be a staggering loss of human life out of all proportion to the stakes involved... Sen. George McGovern, March 1965

by darrelplant on Fri Jan 04, 2008 at 03:50:26 PM PST


»  January 4, 2008


Unity Über Alles: As Dennis Perrin notes, Democrats can't seem to get enough of Barack Obama's Iowa victory speech.

We have been a nation adrift too long. We have been without leadership too long. We have had divided and deadlocked government too long. We have been governed by veto too long. We have suffered enough at the hands of a tired and worn-out administration without new ideas, without youth or vitality, without vision and without the confidence of the American people. There is a fear that our best years are behind us. But I say to you that our nation’s best is still ahead.

Our country has lived through a time of torment. It is now a time for healing. We want to have faith again. We want to be proud again. We just want the truth again.

It is time for the people to run the government, and not the other way around.

It is the time to honor and strengthen our families and our neighborhoods and our diverse cultures and customs.

We need a Democratic President and a Congress to work in harmony for a change, with mutual respect for a change. And next year we are going to have that new leadership. You can depend on it!

It is time for America to move and to speak not with boasting and belligerence but with a quiet strength, to depend in world affairs not merely on the size of an arsenal but on the nobility of ideas, and to govern at home not by confusion and crisis but with grace and imagination and common sense.


It is time for us to take a new look at our own government, to strip away the secrecy, to expose the unwarranted pressure of lobbyists, to eliminate waste, to release our civil servants from bureaucratic chaos, to provide tough management, and always to remember that in any town or city the mayor, the governor, and the President represent exactly the same constituents.

Barack Obama? Or Jimmy Carter?

Speeches aren't enough. They're important in the election phase, but as with Kennedy and Carter, they aren't necessarily an indicator of how someone will actually govern or the kinds of policies they'll pursue.

I'd vote for Obama in a heartbeat over Clinton, but whoever takes over next year is going to have a tough job rolling back the 15 years of "legacy" the Republicans have piled up since they took the House in '94. It's going to take a lot of partisanship to do that, and I worry that -- as happened with Carter in the post-Watergate era -- that will go by the wayside and a few years down the road we'll end up with something equivalent to the Reagan Revolution.


»  January 3, 2008


For I Know That the Hypnotized Never Lie: Back in August, at Senator Ron Wyden's Town Hall on Iraq, I asked him if he trusted the Bush administration. To my face, he didn't explicitly say so, but he did imply it with his recitation of an old Russian phrase "Trust but verify".

Wyden's staff at the time tried to make the point to others that "On Iraq, Iran, and civil liberties, Sen. Wyden trusts Bush as far as he can throw Karl Rove."

But the impression, for me, is hard to shake even after five months and the beginnning of a new year. Because this letter arrived yesterday, in response to a note of mine about warrantless wiretapping to the senator's office.

December 12, 2007

Dear Mr. Plant:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the revelations that President Bush authorized various government agencies to spy on American citizens. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.

Like most Oregonians, I was stunned to hear the Administration admit that the President directed the National Security Agency (NSA to eavesdrop on Americans' phone calls without first getting a warrant. Although I am a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, this program's existence had been withheld from me for years.

It goes on like that.

You could construe that second paragraph as saying that Wyden was surprised to hear Bush publicly acknowledging the existence of the program that had been kept from Wyden for years, but even that doesn't seem all that unlikely to this Oregonian, when the government has defended interrogation methods considered torture by the Geneva Conventions, invaded Iraq without any real proof of WMDs, and screwed New Orleans over.

No, to me it sounds like an admission of shock over the administration's actions -- after years of duplicity and brazen violation of the Constitution -- from someone who still seems to be giving them the benefit of his trust.

What possible purpose does saying that he was "stunned" serve? Apart from making him look clueless when he's supposed to be the one providing oversight of the world's largest intelligence-gathering apparatus?

Take the stunning poll at Loaded Orygun.


»  January 2, 2008


Get Me the Hospital Rankings, Stat!: Joe Rojas-Burke wraps up his story on attempts by insurers to turn patients needing critical care for heart attacks and strokes into "thrift-minded consumers" with this quote: "Magnusson, the OHSU physician, said public reporting of quality rankings is likely to produce at least one fast result: 'Those places that don't score well will take steps to improve their performance and move up in ratings.'"

Another possibility is that hospitals will simply attempt to tweak the system to give the illusion of an improvement in performance and move up in the ratings, in the same way college rankings are manipulated. And what could be more fair than ratings compiled by a nonprofit (oddly enough, unnamed in the article) "joined" by "ten of Oregon's largest health insurers"?


»  January 1, 2008


Inside Charlie Wilson: Les AuCoin has an interesting take on his former defense appropriations committee-mate Charlie Wilson at Blue Oregon today.

A major point in AuCoin's tale is that WIlson "was a social and economic liberal who defied his Bible-thumping conservative district and its history of racial bigotry. He was a strong supporter of civil rights, minimum wage increases, Medicaid, and anti-poverty programs." He supported abortion rights, the ERA, and progressive economic issues.

But on the matter of foreign policy, he was a complete and total hawk, supporting Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza prior to his Afghan adventure. Like so many other Democrats, Wilson was more than willing to fight ideological battles with as many dollars and foreign lives as he could throw at it.


What the...?  

New Year, Square One:

No job, no skills, no money, no nothing
No nothing 'cause I want it for free [Dirt cheap!]
Want it for free, all that is coming to me
So I look real hard for somebody to blame [Someone to blame!]
Somebody to blame or an easy way out [Easy way out!]
An easy way out 'cause it ain't much fun [No fun!]
The place that starts with a square and ends with a one

What can you do? You get what's given to you
Square one, here I come, here I come square one
You get what's given to you
Square one, here I come, here I come square one

--The Hives, "Square One Here I Come"