«  July 2008  |   Main   |  September 2008  »

»  August 30, 2008


Laying On Your Head: Tommy Smothers, in Chicago a week before Election Day 1972, via Bruce Miroff's The Liberals' Moment: The McGovern Insurgency and the Identity Crisis of the Democratic Party, p. 115:

I was wondering what happened to the passion that we all had a long time ago and how we felt so outraged and incredulous [at] things going down ... When you get six years of Johnson followed by four years of Nixon, you've got ten years of laying on your head, and now if Jesus Christ was running on the Democratic ticket, you'd say he was full of shit too.



My Friend : Some things that shouldn't have been said at the Democratic National Committee Convention last week:

Joe Biden:

John McCain is my friend.
Hillary Clinton:
Now, John McCain is my colleague and my friend.
John Kerry:
I have known and been friends with John McCain for almost 22 years.
There was no need for anyone to proclaim their everlasting friendship with John McCain at the convention to nominate his opponent. Why push this out at every opportunity? The man's a disaster waiting to happen to the country, and the most recent Democratic presidential candidate, the person who almost won this year's nomination, and the current vice-presidential nominee are all driven to express their abiding ties to McCain? Sure, they complained about his policies, too, but this kind of chummy relationship goes just too far.

Can anyone remember John F. Kennedy or Lyndon Johnson talking about being pals with Richard Nixon? Or Johnson and Hubert Humphrey saying what a good buddy Barry Goldwater was?


»  August 29, 2008


AI-EEEEEEE!!!: Stephanie tweeted about this from the DNC convention the other day. It's a generator for very realistic-sounding comments for the BBC's "Have Your Say" call-in program, named the Twat-O-Tron.


»  August 26, 2008


World of Hurt: From one of Tom Tomorrow's Democratic convention posts for the New Haven Advocate:

Speaking of speeches, there was a line in Michelle Obama's speech that also showed up in Nancy Pelosi's, and these things don't happen by accident: "Barack Obama will end the war in Iraq *responsibly.* And I can't help but suspect that within that one word qualifier lies a world of hurt.


»  August 24, 2008


Kicking Around: Kari Chisolm at Blue Oregon:

Is there a veep pick that Obama could reasonably made that would have made you Nattering Nabobs of Naderism happy enough to get on the Obama train 100%?
Sycophancy is what Kari's advocating here, folks.

Thoughtful support isn't what Kari wants. It's slavish boosterism and adulation.

Why the hell would I "get on the Obama train 100%"? I've never been on anybody's train 100% (or 1000%). I don't even support myself 100%; I know too many of my own flaws.

And the choice of language cues is truly priceless. Next thing you know, we'll be hearing about "peace with honor" in Iraq.


»  August 23, 2008


Bad At Math: Apart from the many, many other reasons (can you say "Iraq"?) I would have hoped Barack Obama would pick someone other than Joe Biden as his running mate, the guy's just a walking, talking gaffe-machine. And unlike John McCain, whose penchant for sticking his hoof in his mouth is only barely beginning to penetrate the media, Biden's rep for misstatement is decades old.

Here's just one small piece of an article from 1987:

The tape, which was made available by C-SPAN in response to a reporter's request, showed a testy exchange in response to a question about his law school record from a man identified only as "Frank." Mr. Biden looked at his questioner and said: "I think I have a much higher I.Q. than you do."

He then went on to say that he "went to law school on a full academic scholarship - the only one in my class to have a full academic scholarship," Mr. Biden said. He also said that he "ended up in the top half" of his class and won a prize in an international moot court competition. In college, Mr. Biden said in the appearance, he was "the outstanding student in the political science department" and "graduated with three degrees from college."

Comments on Assertions

In his statement today, Mr. Biden, who attended the Syracuse College of Law and graduated 76th in a class of 85, acknowledged: "I did not graduate in the top half of my class at law school and my recollection of this was inacurate." As for receiving three degrees, Mr. Biden said: "I graduated from the University of Delaware with a double major in history and political science. My reference to degrees at the Claremont event was intended to refer to these majors - I said 'three' and should have said 'two.' " Mr. Biden received a single B.A. in history and political science.

"With regard to my being the outstanding student in the political science department," the statement went on. "My name was put up for that award by David Ingersoll, who is still at the University of Delaware."

In the Sunday interview, Mr. Biden said of his claim that he went to school on full academic scholarship: "My recollection is - and I'd have to confirm this - but I don't recall paying any money to go to law school." Newsweek said Mr. Biden had gone to Syracuse "on half scholarship based on financial need."

Maybe Biden thought that 76th out of 85 was in the "top half." His degrees weren't in math or anything. Maybe McCain can turn that whole 894th of a class of 899 at the Naval Academy into something more positive.


»  August 11, 2008


Spy Trackdown:

spy trackdown

I was totally unfamiliar with the Spy Gear series of games and toys from Wild Planet, but apparently it's been around for a decade.

Now, thanks to a long — if very sporadic — association with the wonderful people at Seattle board game developer Forrest-Pruzan Creative, I can claim a very small part of the Spy Gear world, having worked on some prototyping for the new Spy Trackdown game. I can hardly wait to play it.


»  August 8, 2008


Did Einstürzende Neubauten Play At the Berlin Rally?: You heard the story about how John McCain's campaign went after Barack Obama because he didn't visit wounded soldiers in Germany during his campaign swing last month, then the allegations that McCain's people were ready with the charge that he had been using the troops as props if he had gone to visit them. "Oh, no!" they cried, "We would never do that!"

Well, here's an example of how they would.

Currently, McCain is blathering on about how much of a "celebrity" Barack Obama is. All McCain's people are talking about how he draws huge crowds because he's such a "rock star." Not that there's anything there, of course.

But two short months ago, when Obama drew a crowd of more than 70,000 people to Tom McCall Waterfront Park here in Portland, the storyline from McCain's supporters was quite the opposite. This is what Robert Knight at the conservative Media Research Center's Newsbusters site said:

From CNN to the New York Times, the media hyped Barack Obama's Portland, Oregon rally on Sunday, some comparing him to a rock star.

Unmentioned in national reporting was the fact that Obama was preceded by a rare, 45-minute free concert by actual rock stars The Decemberists. The Portland-based band has drawn rave reviews from Rolling Stone magazine, which gave their 2005 album Picaresque four and a half stars (out of five), and another four and a half stars for 2007's The Crane Wife.

How many of the people showed up to hear Obama, and how many to hear the band?

Just over two months later, and the same site's running a poorly-executed parody cover of Tiger Beat with Obama as the main squeeze. And, pereant qui ante nos nostra dixerunt, I see as I'm finishing this post that The Guardian's Oliver Burkeman already wrote this piece, along with the information that the band that played in Berlin was Reamonn. He also notes that NewsMax and others were still trying to make the case that the only reason 200,000 people came out to see Obama there was to hear some free pop-rock, while the McCain people are pushing the opposite line.


»  August 7, 2008

What the...?  

Nothing New:

Jeep Renegade vs. smart crossblade

Who says innovation is dead in the Detroit auto industry?

Oh wait, that would be me.

On the top is the Jeep Renegade, a concept car introduced this week at the Detroit Auto Show.

Below that is the smart crossblade, which was produced in a limited edition run of 2,000 beginning back in 2001. One was offered for sale (at $40,000) on eBay last month, but apparently you couldn't drive it anywhere. Legally.



All Hail The Rude Pundit: Several years ago, I had the good luck to get a link from Atrios, and as an exceedingly low-level blogger, I knew that anyone else in the same position would be interested in what sort of short-term spike in readership you get from that kind of thing. So it would be remiss of me to not mention how yesterday's plug from The Rude Pundit affected page views.

Back in the spring of 2005, the Atrios link to my parody TIME covers (which was the entirety of his post and which are still the most-viewed items on my site) brought in more than 7,500 readers in the first 30 hours. Over roughly the same period of time, as an update to The Rude Pundit's already-posted article on McCain at Sturgis, about 1,100, which I won't be sneezing at.

Thanks to both of them for the support and the years of poking through the internet, dredging up chunks of interest and occasionally palming off some of my stuff.


»  August 6, 2008

What the...?  

Burned Cello:

Burned cello

A rental house around the corner burned down the other day. Two alarms, a big blaze at 12:30 in the morning, embers flying down the block. There but for the love of God and a candle on the wooden deck go I, you think.

One of the guys in the house was apparently a bit of a musician; as I was walking by on my way to the store yesterday night, I saw the back of what looked like a large guitar propped up against the stairs then, on the return trip I saw something I'd missed from the direction I was walking: one cello, heavily singed.

Back in grade school — in those long-ago days of music enrichment programs — I was assigned to play the viola. But my little birth defect made holding and fingering a viola exceedingly difficult, so they switched me to cello. All I can say is, seeing the burned cello made me sad, even though lugging a cello a mile and a half home after school was a lot more work than carring the viola.


»  August 5, 2008


My Buddy Went to Sturgis and All He Got Was a Racist T-Shirt: Some years back, one of the guys I shared an office with was an attendee at the Sturgis biker rally in August, where this year John McCain spoke and suggested his wife might participate in the (sometimes topless and/or bottomless) Miss Buffalo Chip pageant. My friend was a solidly middle-class graphic designer who had a nice Harley, and he and a couple of buddies headed out there several times while we worked together.

One of the years he came back with a t-shirt that was just blatantly racist. It was a fairly well-done piece of t-shirt design, but the words on the shirt were hard to ignore, and I told him so. He didn't wear the shirt into the office any more.

But I doubt that things have changed there much in the past decade. So I have to wonder if McCain's visit to the land of a thousand (and probably many more) racist t-shirts will go unnoticed.

UPDATE: Thanks to The Rude One for the link. Could the campaign media covering the McCain visit possibly have missed the racist materials available at Sturgis? Perhaps, like my friend, they just thought it was all in good fun.



Faking It: From Ron Suskind's new book, The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism

By then [late 2003], the White House had finally thought of a way to use [former Iraqi intelligence chief Tahir Jalil] Habbush. ... The White House had concocted a fake letter from Habbush to Saddam, backdated to July 1, 2001. It said that 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta had actually trained for his mission in Iraq — thus showing, finally that there was an operational link between Saddam and al Qaeda.... The letter also mentioned suspicious shipments to Iraq from Niger set up with al Qaeda’s assistance. The idea was to take the letter to Habbush and have him transcribe it in his own neat handwriting on a piece of Iraqi government stationery, to make it look legitimate. CIA would then take the finished product to Baghdad and have someone release it to the media.
C'mon, couldn't they do any better than faking letters from a guy named HABBUSH? That's not even trying.


»  August 4, 2008

What the...?  

I Thought You Were Dead:

Ernest Borgnine as 'Cabbie' in a special edition of 'Escape From New York'

Ernest Borgnine, interviewed about his new autobiography:

Q. What is your current hobby?

A. My wife bought me a Smart Car. It's the passion of my life right now and I'm having a ball with it. I've had it up to 85 miles per hour just to see how fast it would go and it wound up pretty good. They've got plenty of room inside, but they're for two people. I went to Italy to make a picture and I saw this little car and said I just gotta have one. Man, they're just the loveliest things you've ever seen and they run on three and a half cylinders and eight gallons of gasoline and they go! They take off and get you where you want to go very easily and very quickly and as nicely as any big car would do.

What we need is a Borgnine/Redman mashup.


»  August 2, 2008

What the...?  

Run My Block: What is Redman doing with my smart car?

Warning: hip-hop videos may contain some foul language. Via ProHipHop


»  August 1, 2008


Remember That Harass Is Two Words: Discussing today's AP story about letters from then-legislative staffer (and now state representative) Debbie Boone complaining about current state treasurer candidate Ben Westlund a decade ago, Kari Chisholm at Blue Oregon writes:

One thing I do know: Rep. Debbie Boone has endorsed Ben Westlund.
The article mentions three incidents from the letter, more than Westlund admitted to back in 2006 when the issue first came to light:
The letter, written by Boone and dated June 30, 1997, describes separate incidents that year in which Westlund, then a Republican House member, touched her hip, grabbed her upper leg and, at legislative party, "reached up my skirt and rubbed my leg."

"I lowered my voice and said to him directly that he should knock it off," Boone said in her letter to the Oregon House chief clerk's office.

The version in the print edition of the Oregonian has more detail than the online story:
The first incident occurred when Westlund touched her hip. "When I responded with a shocked response, he told me to remember that the term 'harass' has two words while looking at me with a challenging stare," she wrote.
Back when a rumor about this first surfaced in a comment at Blue Oregon it was poo-poohed as insubstantial. At the time, Boone and Westlund portrayed what went on as simply an "inappropriate hug", and a follow-up post by "blueoregon admin" called it "much ado about nothing," treating it as an "unsupported claim" and "silly."

Well, it doesn't look so silly now.

And despite what Boone says about Westlund being a friend now, it's highly unlikely that Westlund's behavior with her was an isolated incident. Westlund was nearly 50 years old at the time he was sticking his hand up Boone's skirt. Most guys don't suddenly turn into dicks in middle age. Most of the time, they've been dicks all their lives. How many other Debbie Boone's are there? Is it likely that they've all forgiven and endorsed Westlund?

What's really crazy about this is that Boone's letter has Westlund making a pun about her ass just two years after Bob Packwood — then a member of the same party in the same state as Westlund — was forced to resign from the US Senate because of charges of sexual harassment. Not too bright.