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»  April 29, 2008


Souljah: Topic for discussion: Is Rev. Jeremiah Wright Barack Obama's Sister Souljah or is he Obama's Lani Guinier?


»  April 28, 2008

What the...?  

Great Great Grandpa Hairy:

Edward Uriah Plant

A photo of my earliest verifiable ancestor on the Plant family side: Edward Uriah Plant, born in 1851 in Cork, Ireland, raised in London, and an emigrant to Canada in the 1880s.



Hugo Chavez, Stop Attacking Yourself!: From NPR's top-of-the-hour newscast this morning at 8am Pacific, correspondent Frank Browning reports from Paris on efforts to negotiate the release of Ingrid Bettancourt, who's been held for six years by Colombian rebels.

[French Foreign Minister Bernard] Kouchner faces one of the trickiest challenges since becoming France's chief diplomat. Bettancourt is only one of many political figures held by the FARC, while the FARC has many of its operatives held in the jails of Colombia's government.

Earlier efforts by Colombian President Hugo Chavez to free hostages held by the FARC ended after the FARC's chief negotiator was killed in a raid by Colombian forces in Ecuador.

I know that people have accused Chavez of wanting to become president-for-life, I hadn't realized that he'd already taken over a country other than Venezuela!



Frenchycare: I'd take something like this over Sen. Wyden's unwieldy "Care You Keep" plan any day.


»  April 24, 2008


What's Important to John McCain: The question of the day is: "What does John McCain think of rebuilding New Orleans?" And the answer is, uhhh, he still isn't really sure, even after more than two-and-a-half years.

Through the miracles of the Internets, we can travel back in time and see what kinds of public pronouncements McCain's made in the past about The City That the Corps of Engineers Drowned. On 16 September 2005, a couple of weeks after the storm and the failure of the levees, Congress was debating a disaster relief bill that equalled five or six months' spending in Iraq. McCain was among the many Republicans concerned about busting the budget:

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, said he believed that providing rapid and extensive help overrode the need to cut spending elsewhere. "I think we have to understand that we have a devastation that has to be taken care of," Mr. Reid said. "And I'm not into finding where we can cut yet."

That mindset is troubling to other lawmakers who fear that in addition to a reborn Gulf Coast, something else will rise from the storm: record federal deficits.

"We know this is a huge bill," said Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona. "We don't want to lay it on future generations."

No, we wouldn't want to have to spend money to stay in New Orleans for 100 or 1,000 years or anything.

The next day, after President Bush's had said that rebuilding the Gulf Coast would "cost whatever it costs," McCain was quoted as being among those who wished he'd been a bit more moderate in tone:

Even before the hurricane struck, budget analysts on Capitol Hill were bracing for rising deficits as a result of financial burdens including the war in Iraq and the Medicare prescription drug benefit program. On Friday, Congressional deficit hawks said they were pleased by the president's call for efforts to compensate for the burgeoning cost of the storm recovery, though they would have preferred that he had included it in his New Orleans speech.

"I think there are plenty of places to go to work, starting with Congressional earmarks," said Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, referring to pet projects lawmakers place in bills like the transportation measure, which included a $250 million bridge to a small Alaskan island that has 50 residents.

Not, of course, anything in Iraq.

Then, a week later, he again fretted that alll this relief would cost too much, and put a hurt on the all-important Iraq war:

As Mr. Bush spoke in downtown Washington, some of his aides and members of Congress were speculating that the cost of responding to Hurricane Katrina would almost certainly affect the war in Iraq.

Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who has been critical of the administration's war policy, emerged Tuesday from a meeting with administration officials saying that the White House had not been specific about how it would offset the costs of the federal storm relief.

But inside the administration, a senior diplomat involved in the Iraq effort, who would not allow his name to be used because of the sensitivity of the subject, said that it was hard for him to imagine "Congress spending more on rebuilding schools in Iraq before they rebuild schools in New Orleans."

Heavens to Betsy. What if they'd been forced to pull out of Iraq to pay for the reconstruction of New Orleans?



Waffling Wu: LoadedOrygun points to Willamette Week's story about First District Congressman David Wu endorsing Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama that also mentions he might change his mind if his district voted heavily in favor of Sen. Hillary Clinton.

It's funny, because he was just quoted this morning in an NPR story on superdelegates:

Still, some superdelegates prefer being holdouts. Oregon House Democrat David Wu, whose state holds its primary May 20, says he'd just as soon see Clinton and Obama keep battling for votes, including his.

"I will decide at a reasonable time," Wu said. "I have very little intention of stretching it out till the convention, but I just have not had a reason to declare up till now."

I guess the "reasonable time" was sometime between yesterday when the NPR interview was presumably conducted and today.



Little Wonder: I had some doubts about Sen. Ron Wyden's Healthy Americans Act when it was first proposed and when an ad came out that seemed as if it vastly overpromised any likely benefits it had, I was even more skeptical.

People kept telling me that it had support from a dozen senators (of both parties!) as if that was some major endorsement. Then, yesterday, I saw this story in The Hill:

Congressional Democrats are backing away from healthcare reform promises made by their two presidential candidates, saying that even if their party controls the White House and Congress, sweeping change will be difficult.

. . .

Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), a member of Senate Democratic leadership and a key Hillary Clinton ally who also sits on the Finance Committee, said he is "not sure we have the big plan on healthcare."

"Healthcare I feel strongly about, but I am not sure that we're ready for a major national healthcare plan," Schumer said.

Schumer said he would focus "on prevention above all and cost cutting until we can get a national healthcare plan."

Wondering if Schumer or Sen. Jay Rockefeller (quoted with similar comments in the article) were among the senators signed on to Wyden's bill, I found out that at least they weren't double-dealing by supporting a major health care overhaul and simultaneously saying there was no way to do it. No, here's the list of thirteen senators supporting the bill (twelve plus Wyden) with the Democrats in bold.

  • Sen. Ron Wyden [D, OR]
  • Sen. Lamar Alexander [R, TN]
  • Sen. Robert Bennett [R, UT]
  • Sen. Thomas Carper [D, DE]
  • Sen. Norm Coleman [R, MN]
  • Sen. Michael Crapo [R, ID]
  • Sen. Charles Grassley [R, IA]
  • Sen. Judd Gregg [R, NH]
  • Sen. Mary Landrieu [D, LA]
  • Sen. Joseph Lieberman [I, CT]
  • Sen. Trent Lott [R, MS]
  • Sen. Bill Nelson [D, FL]
  • Sen. Debbie Ann Stabenow [D, MI]

None of the three presidential candidates (all senators). Joe Lieberman. Norm Coleman. Trent Lott. LAMAR! Only four of Wyden's supporters are Democrats, and those aren't exactly the rootinest, tootinest names in the Senate: Carper, Landrieu, Bill Nelson, Stabenow. Does someone want to explain to me what about this bill makes it credible as a piece of progressive legislation?


»  April 23, 2008


3,338 Days: No, it's not a new Morgan Spurlock show (although I'm eager to see the latest season of 30 Days and his movie).

Three thousand, three hundred and thirty-eight days is the length of time the Soviet Union occupied Afghanistan. From their invasion on 27 December 1979 to the day the Red Army limped out on 15 February 1989, just over nine years of extremely ugly warfare took place. A million Afghans died, several millions were displaced, more than a million were disabled. The damage to Afghanistan's infrastructure was profound. The Soviets claimed they lost about 14,000 troops, although outside estimates claim up to three times that.

By the time the next president of the United States has been sworn in, we will have occupied Afghanistan for 2,662 days. The length of the US/NATO occupation of that country will match the time the Soviets were there on 27 November 2010, a little more than a year and a half into the new administration. I can't see Clinton, McCain, or Obama getting us out of there by the end of 2010, can you?

The war in Afghanistan drained the Soviet Union, which was already overextended in its committments to spread the revolution. In Afghanistan, it couldn't even manage to maintain the Communist government on its own border.

And just about three years after they finally pulled back from Afghanistan, the Soviet Union collapsed. Phffft. The Supreme Soviet dissolved itself the day after Christmas 1991, one day short of the twelfth anniversary of the invasion.

For us, that would be 6 October 2013.



Obama & Fitch:


This is a still from Barack Obama's Tuesday night post-Pennsylvania speech, he was speaking in Evansville, Indiana.

I'm not sure whether it was just some Obama fan groupthink, a well-executed guerrilla marketing campaign, or a product placement plan, but take a look at the three guys standing behind Obama. You've got a guy on the left in a black tee with the word "Fitch" running vertically, a gray tee with "A & F," and a dark tee reading "A. Fitch." They're all shirts branded for preppie-porn clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch.

Now, personally, I don't really buy into the whole "Obama's an elitist" craziness, but really, someone's got to have some say about who's standing behind the candidate for something like a nationally-televised speech after one of the most closely-watched primaries of the season, and having something that looks like a coordinated group pushing $30 tee shirts...well....


»  April 22, 2008

What the...?  

Bike-O-Mat: According to STREETSBLOG, where I saw this video (via First Draft), this automated bicycle garage in Tokyo costs about $1 (¥100) for a single use and ¥1,800 for a monthly pass. It has space for 9,400 bicycles.

Recumbents, hi-wheelers, trailers, and others might not fit very well.


»  April 17, 2008


ABC Poll Shows Voters Had Different Priorities: In remarks to Greg Sargent about the questions asked at ABC's Democratic primary candidate debate the other day, co-moderator George Stephanopoulos is quoted as saying:

"We decided to focus at the top on the issues that had been at the center of the debate since the last debate. Everything we brought up in that front section had not come up since the last debate. And they all focused on the same theme -- which candidate would be a stronger Democratic candidate in Novembber." [sic]

"This is the core question for the campaigns, and a lot of Democratic voters right now. That's why we decided to lead with it."

Interestingly enough, that's at some variance with what ABC's own poll reported today, based on data collected between April 10th and 13th.

The poll — embargoed until more than 24 hours after the debate but certainly available to Stephanopoulos and Charlie Gibson — asked right up front what voters through was "the single most important issue in your choice for president."

Was it the candidates' pastors?

Was it the candidates' flag pins?

Was it vague associations they had with former '60s radicals?

No. 41% of the respondents said that the most important issue in their choice for president was the economy and jobs. That's up from 11% last September.

The war in Iraq was a distant second, at 18% (down from 35%).

Health: 7% (down from 13%). Terrorism, government ethics, illegal immigration, they all came in as the top choice of 4-5% of the respondents.

Maybe the hour Gibson and Stephanopoulos spent talking about Bittergate and Bosnia fit into the 7% Other category, but it's hard to weigh that time against the 59% of the people — from ABC's own poll — who thought the economy and Iraq were the most important issues in their presidential choice.

It makes you wonder if perhaps Charlie and George are out-of-touch elitists.


»  April 16, 2008


NBC Peddles the Pope, Pushes Iraq Off the Air:

Here's the list of topics from the broadcast of NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, for 15 April 2008:

  • Welcome to Nightly News
  • Pope confronts child sex abuse scandals
  • Inflation causes more wallet woes
  • McCain's new math
  • The mothers' side of the story
  • Did Texas oficials go too far?
  • Will Delta and NWA fuel more merger fervor?
  • Remembering Bob Curry
  • 'God's Rottweiler': Pope Benedict XVI
  • Saved by salsa dancing

Notice anything missing?

If you go to the NBC web site, you can see a report titled "Deadly day in Iraq" about the car bomb that killed more than 40 Iraqis (and the other four bombings in Iraq yesterday) that made it the deadliest day in months.

But you won't see that on the TV. At least not at NBC.


»  April 15, 2008


Free Ride: Whatever happened to Colin Powell's Pottery Barn Rule: "You break it, you buy it"?

Iraq's Financial Free Ride May End

WASHINGTON (AP) — Iraq's financial free ride may be over. After five years, Republicans and Democrats seem to have found common ground on at least one aspect of the war. From the fiercest war foes to the most steadfast Bush supporters, they are looking at Iraq's surging oil income and saying Baghdad should start picking up the tab, particularly for rebuilding hospitals, roads, power lines and the rest of the shattered country.

"I think the American people are growing weary not only of the war, but they are looking at why Baghdad can't pay more of these costs. And the answer is they can," says Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

Ben Nelson, of course, was one of the bright lights who voted to invade Iraq in the first place.
Nelson, a Democrat, is drafting legislation with Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Democrat Evan Bayh of Indiana that would restrict future reconstruction dollars to loans instead of grants.
So were Susan Collins and Evan Bayh.
Likewise, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said he wants to add a provision to a defense policy bill that would force the Iraqi government to spend its own surplus in oil revenues to rebuild the country before U.S. dollars are spent.

These senators, who are well-known war skeptics, could find allies in lawmakers who support President Bush's current Iraq policies. In hearings last week, Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates whether Baghdad should start paying some U.S. combat costs, and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., raised the possibility that an anticipated Iraqi budget surplus this year could be used to help Afghanistan, whose $700 million in annual revenue represents a small fraction of Iraq's $46.8 billion budget.

Levin voted against the Iraq AUMF, but calling Nelson and Collins "skeptics" is sort of like calling "surge" advocate Michael O'Hanlon a skeptic.
American troops in Iraq are buying fuel on the open market at $3.23 a gallon and spending some $153 million a month, according to a recent report by The Associated Press.

Collins says the Iraqis should cover those costs.

"It's really difficult for Americans who are struggling with the high cost of the energy to see us paying for fuel costs in a country that has the second-largest oil reserves" and a burgeoning budget surplus, she said.

So, we invade a country for no reason (or on trumped-up reasons, take your pick), blow its fragile infrastructure to smithereens, let people suffer with little electricity ("the energy") or running water and streets full of sewage for five years, then we expect them to pay for the damage we unleashed. Oh, and we're going to charge them for the costs of occupying their country which we're not going to leave any time soon (and when 79% of Iraqis in a recent poll answered "not much" or "none" when asked how about their confidence level in US forces), and we might even skim some off to pay for this other little war we've got going on in an entirely unrelated country.

That should make everyone happy.


»  April 14, 2008


Who Lost Vietnam?:

New Yorker writer Steve Coll's been making the rounds (including The Daily Show) promoting his newest book on the bin Laden family, but I've been reading his previous book, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001, and noted one item from its early pages a while back that I wanted to circle around to.

Coll doesn't place much faith in former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski's 1998 claim that he forsaw bringing down the Soviet Union by ensnaring them in "the Afghan Trap." But he does reproduce portions of the memos Brzezinski sent to President Jimmy Carterat the time, including one from the day the Soviets sent combat troops into Afghanistan, 26 December 1979.

Brzezinski has been credited a lot by Democrats following foreign policy, apparently because he wasn't gung-ho on the Iraq war and because he's backing Barack Obama.

What caught my eye about this particular memo wasn't anything to do with Afghanistan, the Soviet Union, or anything directly related to the situation he addressed, however. It was how he compared the situation of the mujahedeen vs. the Soviet military to a previous war.

D. The Soviets are likely to act decisively, unlike the U.S., which pursued in Vietnam a policy of inoculating the enemy. As a consequence, the Soviets might be able to assert themselves effectively, and [in] world politics nothing succeeds like success, whatever the moral aspects.
If, by "inoculating the enemy" you mean dropping more tonnage of bombs on North Vietnam than were used throughout World War II, that it. What's appalling — but not surprising — to me is that Brzezinski still thought the Vietnam war could have been "won" in 1979, as his time as National Security Advisor was coming to an end. Here was a guy with access to as much military and intelligence information as anyone — supposedly an expert in his field — and his view after more than a decade, with as many as 600,000 troops deployed, nearly 60,000 dead Americans and a couple of million dead Vietnamese (not to mention Laotians and Cambodians) was that we just hadn't worked hard enough or been "decisive."

Like I told people at the time of his endorsement, I suppose Obama needs the foreign policy cred, but I hope he takes any advice from the man with a big grain of salt.


»  April 12, 2008


Everything I Need to Know I Learned From The Addams Family: The DVR's hard drive is on the fritz, so looking for something to watch late last night I tuned into TV Land's "The Addams Family" festival for an hour or so.

Three things were realized (or driven home to me in the last case) while watching an episode from near the end of the first season: "Uncle Fester's Toupee":

  1. Comedian Norm Macdonald's delivery style owes an incredible amount to John Astin's portrayal of Gomez Addams.
  2. The next time someone tries to make points off of Barack Obama's bowling skills, he ought to have a clip from this episode of Gomez bowling handy. Gomez knocks down one pin in his first ball, then knocks it back up with his second. Crappy bowler, but an affable fellow.
  3. I'm a lot closer in age to Jackie Coogan as Uncle Fester than I am to Astin playing Gomez. Deep sigh.


»  April 11, 2008

What the...?  

It's Gotta Happen:

The Hindenberg in Flight

The Hindenberg Certainty Principle
If it's big, it's got a Nazi symbol on it, and it's filled with flammable gas, it's certain to blow up.


»  April 10, 2008


Inaction: A major criticism levelled against Oregon Democratic senatorial primary candidate Steve Novick by supporters of one of his opponents, state Speaker of the House Jeff Merkley is that Novick is critical of other Democrats (by which they mostly mean Merkley). Indeed, Merkley himself raised the issue of Novick's criticism of Democrats as recently as last week.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Democratic Senate hopefuls Jeff Merkley and Steve Novick clashed over tax policy, party loyalty and some nasty campaigning during a debate Friday at the City Club of Portland.


On Friday, Merkley tweaked Novick for unflattering comments he'd made about Democratic presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Merkley's current television commercial starts out with the words: "Tired of his party's inaction, Jeff Merkley led Democrats back to power."

I wonder how flattering Oregon Democratic leaders find that portrayal in the Merkley-approved ad, or if perhaps the whole issue's been overstated by the Merkley campaign for months.


»  April 9, 2008


The Poor Will Be With Us Always: Chuck Sheketoff of the Oregon Center for Public Policy posted a piece at Blue Oregon on how the gap between the top wage earners and the bottom wage earners has widened in the US over the past two decades, based on a national study from the Economic Policy Institute and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Now I know why this commenter thinks I'm some sort of radical leftist socialist bent on destroying the Democratic party.

I've become more inured to these kinds of statistics over the years. The poor vastly outnumber the rich. They could vote and change this overnight if they wanted to. But by supporting Republicans, they clearly show they don't. They're far more concerned with "getting into heaven" by exhibiting hatred for gays, feminists, atheists, Muslims (many who themselves hate gays, feminists, and atheists), Mexicans, and all sorts of other scapegoats of the day.

The American poor have made their own bed. Let them lie in it.

If it's a Democratic party made up of people who think like that, then I say the sooner the better for the destroying.



The Science Debate 2008 Invitation, Round 2:

Dear Candidate,

The weekly PBS television broadcasts NOW on PBS and NOVA, the PBS science series, along with Public Television Stations KOPB (Portland, OR), WNET (New York) and WGBH (Boston), together with Science Debate 2008, representing the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Council on Competitiveness would like to invite you to participate in

Is America Losing its Competitive Edge?  A Presidential Debate on the role of Science in America's Future,

a nationally televised event currently being planned for Portland State University, Portland, Oregon on the evening of Friday, May 2, May 9, or May 16.

We will broadcast even if only one candidate confirms, and we will publicize who confirmed first, so this could be a major win for your candidate with these communities both nationally and in Oregon, whose economy is dominated by the tech industry and whose largest employer is Intel, whose Chairman is one of the supporters of this initiative.

The moderator for the event will be David Brancaccio, the host of NOW on PBS, with a panel of internationally recognized scientists selected by the organizers, Science Debate 2008. 

The idea for A President Debate on the role of Science in America’s Future is a national, non-partisan discussion endorsed by most of the American science, academic, medical and technology communities, Including thousands of major business leaders, university presidents, Nobel laureates, scientists, and journalists. Please visit here for a detailed list.

This is not a science quiz; it is intended as a serious policy debate about several major issues Americans are concerned with that fall along this theme, including climate change, economic competitiveness in the new global knowledge economy, energy security and sustainability, health and medicine, science education, and other related issues.  We will give all confirmed candidates a copy of the anticipated questions five days in advance so that you may prepare.  These are some of the most important challenges the next president is going to be facing, and we would hope that your candidate has plans for tackling them already.  The voters are highly interested to see what they are, and how your candidate differs, or does not differ, from the others.

Please feel free to have your staff contact me if you are interested in exploring the logistics of this further.

Best Regards,

Shawn Lawrence Otto

On behalf of the Steering Committee and the Signers of Science Debate 2008


»  April 8, 2008


Plan B From Science Debate 2008:

Science Debate 2008 Blogger Coalition

The various presidential campaigns have been unresponsive to the invitations by the coalition of groups attempting to lure them into a debate on the place of science in America, despite them apparently being willing to talk ad nauseum about their religious affiliations and views.

Since time's running out before the Pennsylvania primaries, organizers have floated the possibility that Oregon could be a potential venue.

Posted: Thursday, April 03, 2008 6:52 PM by Alan Boyle

A presidential campaign debate over sci-tech issues in Pennsylvania is looking less and less likely, but the activists behind Science Debate 2008 have a Plan B: If the candidates don't show up for this month's date in Philadelphia, organizers say the debate could still take place in early May during Oregon's vote-by-mail primary.


On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton's campaign has been noncommittal, while Barack Obama's campaign took a pass, Otto said.


Meanwhile, on the GOP side, presumptive nominee John McCain's campaign has not responded to the Science Debate invitation, Otto said.

If the candidates pass up the Pennsylvania opening, Science Debate 2008 will shift its focus to Oregon, Otto said. Portland State University is being lined up as the proposed venue. Otto said the media partners in the effort would be "Nova," the venerable public-TV science program; and "Now," a more recent public-affairs series on PBS. A panel of scientists and engineers would be asking the questions, with "Now" host David Brancaccio serving as moderator, Otto said.

This is post number 1,000 on this blog.


»  April 7, 2008

What the...?  

Bridging the Vehicle Gap:

Plant Family Vehicles

My parents' 1969 Ford F150 pickup on the one side and our new 2008 smart fortwo cabriolet on the other.



2,400: It's been two thousand four hundred days since 11 September 2001.



This Is a Full Service Blog: Blue Oregon editor Jeff Alworth seems to have a fascination with libertarian OSU economics prof Patrick Emerson. Back in December, they were together on the trail of a sales tax (as I chronicled here, here, here, and here), and now Emerson has begun to whine about how he has to spend literally minutes a month waiting for attendants at Oregon's gas stations. I suppose he'll be complaining about having to pay a deposit on bottles next.

Surprisingly, for someone who's supposed to be versed in the black arts of economics, he seems to be under the impression that gas prices would go down if the stations did away with attendents. Since AAA says that the average price of gasoline in self-service Vancouver is roughly the same price as it is here in Portland, and that gas in Ontario is actually fifteen cents cheaper than it is in Spokane, I'm not convinced.

Anyway, he's running a poll on full-service vs. self-service gasoline at The Oregon Economics Blog. Do me a favor and go vote in his poll to maintain Oregon's status (along with New Jersey) as a full-service state.


What the...?  

To Hell With Chihuly: You want a piece of exceptional glass sculpture? Barbara found this old airport runway light bulb at a thrift store for millions of times less than what one of those garish, all-too-ubiquitous tentacled things would cost. It sits on top of an old 1930s refrigerator in a cradle handcrafted from a rubberized clothes hanger, in front of the Wall of Cats.

The Anti-Chihuly Sculpture

Speaking of the Wall of Cats, when Barbara brought home the frames, I made this little arrangement. Art is where you find it.

Wall of Frames


»  April 1, 2008


From the "Nobody Could Have Predicted" Department: Steve Coll, in Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001, referencing a news item about President Muhammed Najibullah, the last leader of the Communist regime, just before Kabul fell to the mujahedeen in early 1992, from the International Herald Tribune:

"We have a common task—Afghanistan, the U.S.A., and the civilized world—to launch a joint struggle against fundamentalism," Najibullah told reporters in his palace office as the mujahedin closed to within rocketing distance. "If fundamentalism comes to Afghanistan, war will continue for many years. Afghanistan will turn into a center of world smuggling for narcotic drugs. Afghanistan will be turned into a center for terrorism."




Out of the frying pan of Philadelphia (for Eschacon) and into the fire of Michigan (for Perrincon). It's been a grueling day, as you might expect, for the hard-core "Perrin-oids" (as we devoted followers of Dennis Perrin are called). Below is a picture typical of the group, as we sit, exchanging barbs, smacking our heads against the wall in frustration at the stupidity of the fools we seemingly have to suffer this election season. Is it only April?


I can't tell you exactly how many of us there were, but it felt crowded in there.



Eschacon in Crappy Pictures:

Eschacon is sooo last weekend, and I'm probably the last person who was there who will have anything to post, but then I'm possibly too single-track to write posts and pay attention at the same time. Heck, I don't even like to take notes. But here are a few photos, starting with the requisite panels, in the order of the day.

Having an Impact

Eschacon: Having an Impact
Digby, Jane Hamsher, NTodd, Atrios

Comedy and Political Critique

Eschacon: Comedy and Political Critique
watertiger, Trex, The Rude Pundit, Ted Rall, Thers

Creating Constitutional Accountability

Eschacon: Creating Constitutional Accountability
Scott Horton, Kagro X, Eric Johnson (Chief of Staff, Rep. Robert Wexler), Bob Fertik

Media Bias

Eschacon: Media Bias
Will Bunch, Eric Boehlert, Susie Madrak, Athenae, Spocko, Douglas K. Smith

DFH Economics

Eschacon: DFH Economics
Paul Krugman, Atrios, Echide of the Snakes

I don't think I have much to add to the accounts of the panels. There was some decent liveblogging from Sinfonian. I was rather pleased to spend most of the day sharing a table with Spocko, his wife, and Athenae, among others, and to have gotten in the first question (on one of my favorite topics, fact-checking editorials and opinion pieces) during the Media Bias panel.

Just a few other photos to share. The Rude Pundit, in full tilt mode during the Saturday party:

Eschacon: The Rude Pundit Performs

Jane Hamsher, blogging during The Rude Pundit's performance:

Eschacon: Jane Hamsher Blogging

And the photo I emailed to Jane of the Rude Pundit's doll that she told me she wasn't going to use in her post.

Eschacon: The Doll


What the...?  

Wall Art: When we were staying in a (relatively) budget motel outside of Birmingham last fall, we were struck by the entertaining choice of wall art, which varied a bit from the bland variety you usually run across in a motel. The photo on the left, from the wall of our bedroom, is a fairly representative example.

On the other hand, when I checked into a nationally-known motel brand's location near the Pentagon Sunday night, I found a portrait of George Washington and a copy of the Declaration of Independence next to the bed.

Wall Art From the Britannia Stockport HotelWall Art From the Best Western Pentagon