Monday, September 29, 2008

It's Better to Keep One's Mouth Closed and Be Thought an Idiot...

Okay, so I just browsed through the brand new Newsweek.

Howard Fineman has a brief piece on the upcoming VP debate. In it, he asked the folks who prepped the last two veep candidates for their debates for some friendly advice.

Republican Stewart Stevens, who advised The Dark Lord in 2004, had this to say to Ms. Palin.

Her goal should be to not make news. And that means when Biden attacks, or the moderator's questions are detailed, she should not respond at length. Instead, she should focus on her personality.

Time to complete that maxim: "...than to open it and remove all doubt."

Wow. This man is specifically advising her not to talk about anything of substance. Because, of course, she can't. These people have officially given up on this albatross.

Round 1: Foreign Policy (and The Economy)

Okay, so it's been a few days and I haven't yet commented on the first debate. Well, here goes.

What we have come to call a "debate" in the past several presidential elections is really nothing of the sort. It starts by the moderator asking a question and then, after the contestants offer their oh-so-sincere thanks to the moderator and the hosting institution, they give their stump speech and then take five seconds to acknowledge the actual question without actually answering it. Then when they get asked the first question that they don't like, they go back and answer the previous one. And nobody ever gets to say "Hey, Contestant #2, BULLSHIT!"

So, they changed that this year. Finally, they'll get to address one another and actually, you know, debate. I was really looking forward to seeing how this would shake out.

So they begin in old school "debate" mode and after the first round, Jim Lehrer starts pestering them to start scrapping. He reminded me of the kid in high school that always tried to start a fight between two other people. ("Hey, Brown, are you gonna let Gorecki do that to you?" [Brown responds.] "Hey, Gorecki, are you gonna let Brown do that to you?" [Fight ensues.]) They did finally engage, somewhat. But, as many have noted before, McCain never once looked at Obama. Obama, after the original prompt, directed comments equally to the audience, in the forum and at home, and to McCain. McCain directed all of his responses to Lehrer, as if Lehrer could help him make the annoying smart black man stop talking sense if he bugged him about it enough. It was really creepy after a while. It was like he was wishing him away.

Well, he didn't go away. And no matter how many times he said that Obama "doesn't understand" something, the discussion moved over to Obama, who displayed just how much he did understand. And McCain got testier and testier as the night wore on and he didn't get through to poor Jim Lehrer. (I thought that Lehrer, by the way, was excellent. After the initial egging on, the debate was about the candidates and not the moderator. Like a good umpire, they're doing their job best when you don't notice it.)

My favorite moment was when he told McCain flat-out that he was wrong about Iraq from the get-go. I wish he did more of that, but what he did was a refreshing change from the downright wimpiness of Kerry and Gore, who were trying not to lose more than they were trying to win. Obama also counterpunched well. When McCain warned about Obama "threatening" other countries (i.e. Pakistan), Obama mentioned McCain singing about bombing Iran. He should mention this much more often and more forcefully. And when McCain said something that wasn't true, he immediately said "That's not true" rather than politely wait his turn.

It was by no means a slam dunk for Obama. It was more or less a tie. But this was supposed to be McCain's forte, deservedly so or not (and I think not). So if you took the points on this one, you came out ahead. And it looks like Obama was reaping the benefit of this in the post-debate polls.

McCain is not an idiot. But he is an impulsive and cranky old man and that's exactly what he sounded like. Obama sounded like the bright, calm, in-control guy. One might say "presidential", even. After weeks of McCain throwing Hail Mary after Hail Mary, not to mention eight years of The Idiot and The Dark Lord not listening to anything they didn't want to hear, a little bit of reflection and reason is just what we need.

I hope we get it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Holy Shit, She Just Gets Dumber Every Day

No wonder they've been keeping her from the media. She's a fucking moron. Watch this.

Watch CBS Videos Online

Now tell me, TELL ME with a straight face that you will vote for the McCain/Palin ticket. I will laugh at you. I will laugh and laugh and laugh.

Then I will cry. I mourn for my country.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

PYSBRIoM: Harold Meyerson

The Wall Street bailout currently being discussed in (i.e. ramrodded through) congress is unbelievably gross. The biggest red flag, discounting (if such a thing is possible) the $700 billion price tag, is the proposed provision that no decisions made by the Treasury Secretary would be reviewable by any court or agency. This is about as blatantly unconstitutional as it gets. Which hasn't stopped it from being inserted into other sham laws like the Military Commissions Act. ("Hey, dad! Can I have the keys to the car? And, uh, $700 billion?" "What are you going to do with it?" "None of your business." "Oh, okay." "Yoink!")

But another gigantic problem with the proposal is the idea that we should be forking over gazillions of dollars to the people who screwed up in the first place but that we should not have any stake in any profits once (if) the market's strength returns.

Which brings me to American Prospect executive editor and Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson. He's smart and cogent and he's top notch on economic issues. His piece today in the W-Post runs through exactly why this is such a bad idea and questions why we should be socializing Wall Street's debts but explicitly not socializing its profits.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Health "Care" in America

I am sick of people complaining about our health care system. Here's why. We do not have a health care "system" in this country. We have a health care industry. I'll be happy to complain about that and you're welcome to join me.

One of the dumbest concepts that anyone has ever come up with is that we are all health care "consumers" and wish to be treated as such. The people who pimp for this misbegotten notion are generally the people in the health care industry itself or those in Washington who get a lot of money from this industry. Which means, basically, everyone except maybe Dennis Kucinich.

When things are crummy and you're looking for someone to blame, by all means don't point a finger at the fact that you spent three weeks on the phone with seventeen different people to find out that you're completely covered for everything that didn't happen to you but not the thing that did happen. And then next week when the other thing happens to you you'll find out that you were covered for that, except for the long list of exceptions, at least one of which applies to you.

And don't point the finger at the fact that somebody had to be paid to be on the phone with you for three weeks. And to file the reports. And to review your case to make sure that they denied every goddamn penny that they could. Which is usually most of it.

No, the problem appears to be that we don't have enough "choice". We like choice. Who doesn't?

We spend a gargantuan amount of money in this country for fairly average health care. And that's only for those who actually receive it. We won't get started on those who don't. But even those who do get nothing but aggravation. We always end up paying a lot for services, even after we've paid our monthly premiums, our co-pays, our deductibles and god knows what else. I swear, insurance is the biggest legal racket this country has ever seen.

Read this pile of crap from John McCain. He blows a whole pile of words talking about how health care needs to improve but he never once mentions the reason it costs so much. It's not complicated. It's administrative costs. Cut out the middleman and everything costs less. Cut out the heartless bastards whose sole purpose it is to deny treatment and things will cost less and we will be healthier and happier. Let doctors spend more time being doctors and less time figuring out what's covered and what isn't and what forms they have to fill out and they'll be able to service us all better.

Or, if you're McCain, we should do this.

"Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation."
Ha ha! That's awesome. $700 billion to bail out Wall Street, please. But even freer markets for health care. What could go wrong? This alone should disqualify this man from being president.

We're about to spend a gazillion dollars to socialize Wall Street's debts (but never its profits) but once anybody suggests that single-payer health care is the way to go we hear howls of protest that we're turning into the Soviet Union on a stick and we simply cannot have that. Europe is bad, don't you know that? They're all, like, happy over there and stuff. We're Americans! Personal responsibility! The government can't run anything!

We have socialized fire protection, socialized police protection, socialized roads and a socialized military. We don't shop for an army. And we don't shop for cops when we're getting mugged. We just expect one to show up. We don't give a rat's petoot who it is as long as they've got a badge and a can of whoop-ass. So why on earth should we be expected to shop for something like health care? I'll tell ya. So someone can make a buck. Or a trillion.

It is immoral for corporations to make millions on (denying) health care. The health care industry deserves to die a swift death. It can't happen a moment too soon.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I Said PLEASE Pass the Popcorn

So, if you don't know already, there's a blog over on Word Press to which I contribute called Please Pass the Popcorn. It's about movies (duh). I had originally intended to plop some of my movie thoughts here at the Den but once this site popped up I decided it would be more fun to use that forum and share with some other cinephiles. The site's been live for several weeks now and lots of fine folks contribute, including Mrs. Chili and Kizz. My contributions so far have been posts on Truffaut's "Day for Night" and Wendell B. Harris' "Chameleon Street".

But the real news is that Saintseester, one of our other contributors, will be running a contest over there next week. Like contests? Like movies? Like the potential for free stuff? Check it out here. Go have some fun for a change.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Subpoenas! Huh! What Are They Good For?

You know the answer.

Okay, I'll say it. Absolutely NOTHIN'! (Say it again.)

So here we have Alaska First Dude Todd Palin deciding that, oh, he doesn't feel like answering a legislative subpoena. Why? He doesn't feel like the investigation is "legitimate". Oh. Well, I'll remember that the next time I'm subpoenaed.

This is a power that I didn't realize private citizens had. Don't like what authorities are doing? Just tell 'em it's not legitimate. The next time I get arrested I'll just tell the cops that. Then I'll go off and enjoy all of that nice liquor that I got from knocking over Sully's Package Store in my jacked Ford Explorer. After I wipe the blood off of my baseball bat. Hey, it's my choice as to which statutes can be enforced on me. I know what's legitimate and what isn't.

Of course, the gov herself has ordered the other dozen folks from her administration not to comply with subpoenas too. Just last month these people had nothing to hide and said they'd comply fully. Now? Well, the McCain campaign's lawyers dropped in. Including one whose job is to prosecute terrorists. At least it was until he picked up the far more important task of stonewalling an investigation into abuse of power in order to make sure that the truth doesn't come out until at least some time after November 4th.

If you or I just decided to ignore a subpoena, guess where we'd be now. Here's a hint. Is Karl Rove there? Is Harriet Miers there? Is Joshua Bolten there? Will Todd Palin go there? Guess.

Every day more stuff comes out about Palin and her retinue that show her to be even more Bush-like than McCain. Abuse of power. Cronyism. Secrecy, including using private e-mail addresses for official business. Incuriousness and gut calls rather than sound analysis. Religious fundamentalism. Suppression of dissent. Ignoring science. Loyalty (way) before competence. Now ignoring subpoenas. Sound familiar, anyone?

Read this (I'm not asking; I'm telling. Read it!) and tell me if she sounds like an "outsider" who's going to change Washington or if we're watching history repeat itself. The similarities are stunning.

Remember when the Republicans were the Rule of Law party? Nah. That's for suckers. Got a problem with us? Whaddaya gonna do about it? Nothing? Thought so. Now watch this drive.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dumb Letters: Potheads Destroy Seattle with Cannabis-Derived Superpowers

If you recall my original post on Dumb Letters to the Editor, I firmly believe that newspapers occasionally publish letters that they just think are hilarious. If you don't believe me, here's one from today's Boston Globe. I'm not kidding. They published this.

I WOULD like to throw my whole-hearted support behind Adrian Walker in his crusade against marijuana. Marijuana is much more dangerous than people realize.

For example, recent government studies have shown that marijuana users are able to uproot and demolish entire city blocks when they're high.

More than 100,000 potheads celebrated Hempfest in Seattle last month. Has anyone heard from Seattle since then?

The truth is, the potheads destroyed the entire city. Marijuana has reduced Seattle to a pile of rubble, and the media are covering it up.

Just ask Adrian Walker. He knows the truth, and he's not afraid to tell it.

Pasadena, Calif.

Holy crap. An entire American city destroyed and nobody did anything about it. That never happens. I've scoured the web and I can't find any references to Seattle even losing a coffee shop. What on earth is this person talking about? Can anyone point me towards even a molehill that this person may have made a mountain out of? A pile of rubble! No wonder the economy is tanking.

Most of the people that I've seen who were stoned couldn't be bothered to take out the trash, let alone destroy a city. This person has obviously never smoked pot, or even known anyone else who has.

And what government studies are we talking about here? I can see a sequel to "The Incredible Hulk" where they substitute reefer for gamma rays and everybody hulks out and starts tearing up the joint. But only because they can't find any Cheetos.

Has anyone heard from Seattle lately? I hadn't thought about that. They hadn't called since at least mid-June, but I figured it was because they were on vacation or something. So I checked it out. Apparently, they're mired in the cellar of the AL West. Their management has done what 100,000 raging potheads could not. Poor poor Seattle.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Richard Wright

Someone sent me an e-mail the other day with the subject "Pink Floyd Founder Dead" and I thought, "Oh man, what happened to Roger Waters?"

Nope. It was keyboardist Richard Wright, not to be confused with the author of "Native Son".

It's always interesting when someone who is considered a minor part of a creative endeavor passes on. It makes you stop to consider what that person's contribution was and how the group would have been different without it.

One of my all time favorite pieces of music is "Us and Them" from "Dark Side of the Moon". If you don't know it already, I feel bad for you for not having it as part of your life. Although I envy you for not being able to hear it for the first time. I first heard it when I was a kid and Floyd was all over what would eventually be called "classic rock" radio. I bought the record (yes, record) and proceeded to experience it in the way it was meant to be experienced, with headphones, lying on your back, in the dark. Wow.

Wright co-wrote "Us and Them" with Waters and damn, it's just gorgeous. Wright plays both organ and grand piano on the song. It moves along at a pace that is as stately as Ravel's "Bolero", and with similar undulations, but climaxes in a very different way before segueing directly into "Any Colour You Like" (which then segues into "Brain Damage" and "Eclipse"), forming one 16-minute long chunk of stoner heaven. Although I managed to enjoy it just fine without any controlled substances. (Those came later.)

"Us and Them" manages to be both sleepy and forceful at the same time. It lulls you into a nice pillowy unhurried place before launching you into a chorus that manages to be bombastic without pulling you out of the mood that the song originally created. Like the best Lennon-McCartney songs, where you can tell who wrote what part, the Wright verse alternates with the clearly Waters-orchestrated and themed chorus. Then Wright brings you back down with an understated piano solo on top of the song's base of his organ and Nick Mason's lethargic drums.

Wright made other key contributions to Pink Floyd, including his work on "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" from "Wish You Were Here". But if he had done nothing but "Us and Them" that would have been quite sufficient for me.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

David Foster Wallace

So this man has shuffled off this mortal coil. His choice, apparently.

I only read one book by Mr. Wallace, several years ago, but it was the big one, "Infinite Jest". It's a 1000+-page satire of consumer culture, government, tennis and anything else that happened to be dropping into Wallace's head for a visit during its composition.

I spent a good month-and-a-half getting through it. For the intrepid reader (and man, you really need to be) it's dense, light, rewarding, frustrating, serious, stupid, highbrow, lowbrow, delightful and infuriating. Parts of it are among the funniest things I've ever read. Other parts left me scratching my head in bewilderment. Still other parts left me wanting to heave the book out of my window. Which I would have done except for two things, 1) the book is so huge it undoubtedly would have brained anyone unfortunate enough to be wandering down Henry Street at the time, and 2) it was a library book and I didn't want to pay for it, especially after it frustrated me so.

If you like things linear and/or clear, stay far far away. The book is heavily endnoted, with the endnotes ranging from one-liners seemingly intended to say "Made ya look!" to multi-page digressions seemingly intended to make you carry two separate bookmarks, which I did.

The complicated plot (minor spoiler alert) never really resolves itself, leaving you screaming at Wallace for putting you through all of the reading and the footnoting and the thinking and not even giving you the courtesy of a proper climax. Or loving him for it, if that's your thing.

Unlike "Ulysses", another insanely complicated book, I never felt the need to read it again. I got a lot more out of "Ulysses" the second time around. The first time was confusing, the second was less so and the brilliance really started to seep in. (Can't wait for Round 3!) One spin through "Infinite Jest" was quite enough for me. And probably more than enough for anyone.

Friday, September 12, 2008

This Woman (Still) Knows Nothing

Well, Charlie Gibson wasn't quite the pushover that we were afraid of. And I'm not sure if this is going to change anyone's mind. But here is the interview between ABC's Charlie Gibson and Sarah Palin.

As previously noted, the Kaplan test prep people definitely drilled her head full of talking points. But I heard nothing from her that I haven't heard a hundred times from GWB. She didn't answer some questions. She answered others with the same response she gave to the previous question.

And the best part? She had no idea what the Bush Doctrine was. The goddam Bush Doctrine! That's like a prospective Yankees manager not knowing who Derek Jeter is. It's about two-thirds of the way in to the video clip. She filibusters a bit. And Charlie tries real hard not to give her a hint. Finally, he breaks down and explains it to her. It's embarrasing.

Snippets from the pieces that will be broadcast later are up there too. She's not a complete blithering idiot like GWB. (Although she seems to have the exact same opinions as he does. Change? Sure, yeah.) She's just somebody who has no real education in world, or even national, affairs. If she spent 20 years in government she may possibly be a reasonable choice. Assuming she actually learned anything. But so far, she hasn't.

This is a woefully unprepared human being. John McCain and the Republican Party should be ashamed of themselves for playing this sick joke on us.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

It's an Insult to Pigs, Really

Hooray! Another idiotic diversion.

So Obama uses a common figure of speech to describe McCain's attempts at spinning the same old stuff as "change" and, of course, the McCain camp howls with (entirely fake) outrage.

Has anyone here really never heard or used the phrase "putting lipstick on a pig"? The McCainiacs and the Palinsane will scream that this was directed at her. Well, let's just assume for a second that it was. It's pretty tame when compared to some of the crap that they've been spewing abut Obama. Get over it. Even if he was callng Palin a pig, which he wasn't, I'd have him apologize to pigs, who are smart, clean and friendly animals.

But stop for a second and actually consider the analogy. The pig in this case is not Palin but McCain or, perhaps, the last eight years. Palin herself is the lipstick, not the pig. It makes perfect sense, really. She defines herself by her lipstick. And that lipstick is being applied to the pig that is the McCain campaign. It's actually an accurate, almost perfect analogy given a clever twist.

But we'll have to listen to them hemming and hawing about how he owes Palin an apology. And we'll spend another week not talking about the abysmal Bush administration record and how McCain's plans for "change" are purely cosmetic.

What the Meaning of "Is" Is

Here's a prediction.

So Ms. Pit Bull With Lipstick is still lying about her supposed opposition to the "Bridge to Nowhere", long after it's been publicly proven to be a big fat pile of moose crap. So what will happen if she's ever called on it? I'll tell ya.

In her speeches, note that she does not say "I was always against this wasteful project." Or anything like that. What she says is, "I told congress 'Thanks but no thanks for that bridge to nowhere.'". Note the construction.

She can make the legal case that this is not a lie. Here's how. First she said "thanks." (When? When the money was offered for the project.) Then she said "no, thanks". (When? When it turned out that the money wasn't enough.) So, while the "thanks but no thanks" line is meant to mislead and declare objection from the beginning, it can be defended (if it's ever pressed) by saying it's legally accurate.

There's more cover. Because of course, even after saying "no thanks" to the bridge, she kept the money, which is why she is careful to include "for that bridge to nowhere" in her stump line. So thanks for the money but no thanks for the bridge. Sophistry at its finest.

Bullshit? Of course. But what do you expect?

Mark my words. It will be defended this way.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

This Is Why They Don't Let Her Speak to the Media

Sunday morning. A time to sleep late, read the newspaper and enjoy some politicians making the rounds of the Sunday "news" programs. Here's what we had this week:
  • ABC's "This Week" - Barack Obama
  • NBC's "Meet the Press" - Joe Biden
  • CBS's "Face the Nation" - John McCain
Notice anything missing? Me too. They didn't even let her speak to Fox, for crying out loud. Undoubtedly the Kaplan SAT test prep people are currently cramming her head with bits of information that she can spew out to make it sound like she's reasonably knowledgeable. Until then, no dice.

So for now she only gets to speak in controlled environments, with no threat of some pesky invasive journalist asking her an actual question. Apparently, this isn't enough. In front of a campaign crowd in Colorado Springs, she said this about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: "[They have] gotten too big and too expensive for the taxpayers."

Yeah! You tell 'em, Sarah. But wait. Aren't Fannie and Freddie private enterprises? Here's how much they cost American taxpayers: $0.00. Nothing. That's in the past, of course. The bailout that we're about to embark on is going to cost us quite a bit. A little bit of the evil regulation that the Repubs despise so much may have spared us the cost and effort.

This woman does not know what she's talking about. And I'm certain that her cluelessness is not restricted to matters economic. Of course, neither was GWB's 8 years ago. And that didn't stop us from giving him enough votes to allow the Supreme Court to hand him the presidency. I'd like to have faith that we won't get fooled again. But I don't.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Still Figuring This Thing Out

I've adjusted some of the settings on this here blog-type thing. Previously, those of you who did not have Google IDs could not post comments. This has been rectified. Now any old moron can post comments. Sleep easy, dear readers.

And check out that adorable little cartoon MAB I added. Way better-looking than real life.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Is That All You People Can Talk About?

It was Fear and Loathing Night at the RNC yesterday. I couldn't even bring myself to tune in when I saw the lineup (Giuliani, Romney, Palin). But I caught the aftermath and, of course, read transcripts and heard/saw the money lines.

This is going to come as no surprise to anyone who's been paying attention for the last, oh, 40 years or so. But I'll say it anyway. Republicans are really assholes.

God, I hate to generalize like that. I know some Republicans/conservatives who are decent enough people. But the level of derision from the people speaking last night was just unbearable. I know you're supposed to treat your opposition like, well, the opposition. But the Dems made their case based on policy, not ad hominem attacks. They made the point over and over, and speaker by speaker, that they admired John McCain for his service to the country but they thought he was wrong and would just continue the policies of the Bush administration. Which, you may have heard, are quite unpopular.

The Republicans did nothing to contradict that claim. I'm guessing it's because they have every intention of continuing these policies and would rather avoid the subject altogether. So rather than actually talk about the failed and unpopular policies that they support, they fall back on their old themes: 1) We are the real Americans and we will protect you from those horrible other people in this dangerous world and 2) Democrats are total fags.

The speeches were almost entirely devoid of substance. And often just mind-boggling in their nonsensicality. Mitt Romney claimed that we need to take back Washington from the liberals. The liberals? Really? Like Dennis Kucinich runs the place? Let's see, Bush and Cheney, the two most right-wing executives we've had since, well, ever, have been in charge for the past eight years. 7 of our 9 Supreme Court justices were appointed by Republicans. And until just last year, the Republicans controlled congress too. (And by the way, since they lost control of it, the Dems have done nothing to challenge them, which is the real reason they're so unpopular too.)

So what the hell is the "Washington establishment" that these people are running against? "Elect us! It'll be a refreshing change!" The "change" and "maverick" memes are not only meaningless, they're entirely backwards. But say something often enough and loud enough...

And Rudy Giuliani, who I've never liked, has managed to make me like him even less. You have no idea what an accomplishment this is. Apparently, he's outraged that in four days at the DNC they never mentioned 9/11. Shocking! (They did mention getting Osama bin Laden, but they didn't use the actual words "9" or "11" so it doesn't count.) Well, so far at the RNC, I haven't yet heard the words "Abu Ghraib" or "Guantanamo" or "Halliburton". Or "Kerik", for that matter.

Republicans of this nature generally have no problem hating on the people that thy are supposed to represent when it suits them to do so. (GWB mentioned McCain being able to fight "the angry left". Well, guess what? We're angry for good reason. And so is the middle. And it's because of you, you stupid fuckhead.) But Giuliani has consistently railed against his own city while on the campaign trail. It's been positively gross.

Rudy, I'm sorry that the city that gave you 8 years to pad your resume (and your wallet) is filled with effete snobs who aren't sufficiently paranoid and, apparently, hate their country. We'll be happy if you never set foot here again. And get out of Minnesota too, you skeevy narcissistic bastard. You're polluting that place. If you want to see Americans who really hate their country, go to Alaska. I think you'll find some people there who fit the bill. Oh, and Palin's husband is one of them. Possibly her too.

We the People of the angry left don't hate our country. We hate what you people have done to it. And it looks like you have no intention of stopping.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Don't They Ever Check the Mike?

This is funny. It's Mike Murphy, formerly of the McCain campaign, and Peggy Noonan, Republican apologist for the Wall Street Journal. The mike was live. Oops!

Yowza. Favorite line from Peggy: "It's over!"

Think About the Baby

Ya know, everyone is all jumpy about Bristol Palin's bump and how Sarah should be concerning herself with her family issues instead of running for VP.

Well, Bristol is 17, almost an adult and certainly old enough to be left alone (and boy, was she!). As someone once said, "I'm already pregnant. What other shenanigans can I get into?"

Why is no one talking about the fact that she has a special-needs infant at home? If you had a 4-month-old baby with Down syndrome, would you be doing this? This is for men as well as women, but mostly women. Family values, anyone?

Pop Quiz

Q: What do the following items have in common?





A: They're all impulse buys!

John McCain spent months working his way through the big ol' Washington Wal-Mart of VP Picks and he had his pal Joe Lieberman sitting in his shopping cart playfully dangling his toes out the side. Then he got to the checkout and tossed in Sarah Palin.

And a Snickers.

McCain had met Palin exactly once before last week. He doesn't even know her, people. The man had already decided on a VP and then was railroaded by the Christian right into picking this woman. This is judgment? This is leadership? She wasn't even vetted and he didn't even pick her. Someone else did.

What should we do this week, President McCain? Oh, I don't know. What's that thing? Let's bomb the crap out of it. Consequences? We'll worry about that later.

Those Mentos sure looked good before we ate the whole pack.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Riot of My Own

The lovely and peaceful city of St. Paul has basically turned into Tiananmen Square. And I'm not talking about during the Olympics. This is not getting a lot of play right now, what with all the vagina talk. And I'm sure the MSM don't want to rain on the GOP's parade any more than Gustav has. (Although Gustav did give them a great excuse to not have the two most unpopular incumbent executives speak at the convention. Gracias, Gustav.)

Not only has St. Paul become militarized in an effort to intimidate existing protesters, but the stormtroopers have actually invaded people's houses, held them at gunpoint, and searched and confiscated laptops and posters from people WHO HADN'T EVEN PROTESTED YET. Not only had they not committed any unlawful acts, but in most cases they weren't even planning anything other than blocking traffic. And sometimes, not even that. Welcome to Minority Report. How did they do it? Spying, of course. They planted feds in protest groups so they'd know which houses to bust. First Amendment, my peaceably assembling butt.

I won't get into it too deeply because Glenn Greenwald has it covered with lots of reports, commentary and links, including video and audio here, here and here. Check it out. Really. This is more important than Sarah Palin's pregnant daughter. It's horrifying to see this happen in the Land of the Free (TM).

There were arrests made in Denver at the DNC, but nothing like this. The city was not turned into a pre-emptive combat zone. The level of aggression in Minnesota, one of the nicest places I've ever been to, is astounding. Watch this woman with a flower get blasted with pepper spray. And here's journalist Amy Goodman getting arrested. She was charged with "conspiracy to riot". (They'll be going after Sly Stone next.) This is like the RNC in NYC four years ago when protesters could be held, and were held, for 72 hours without being charged. 72 hours. Convention over by then. How convenient. Off you go then. Buh-bye. That's happening here too. But this is much much worse. Nobody's home was broken into in New York. This is not freedom. This is a disgrace.

She's Pro-Life

Here's a photo of VP candidate Sarah Palin displaying her firmly pro-life credentials.

She is setting a fine example for her daughter by lecturing this presumably pro-choice caribou on the evils of killing innocent life.

Just kidding! Yeah, she murdered this formerly sentient being with a rifle. We're all real proud.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Vote Vagina!

So the McCain camp did a bangup job of stealing the news cycle from Obama and his sturdy acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention by picking Sarah Palin as his running mate. Now that the dust has settled a bit, let's talk about the pick not just on its commercial exploitation merits but on who the lady is and what the pick says about McCain, his party, and the people that this is supposed to attract.

First off, although I wrote about the pick with some admiration in my last post, this was based solely on how it managed to control the media narrative. As far as Palin as an actual candidate, she's a bit of a joke. As many have noted before me, she completely undercuts the McCain campaign's argument against Obama that he doesn't have enough experience. And any McCain VP will really need it. You may have noticed, or you may have been reminded, but he's a bit long in the tooth and, healthwise, he's not exactly Jack LaLanne.

Palin is not only 100% anti-choice (a term I hate, although I hate both pro-choice and pro-life; who's against either choice or life?), she's for drilling in ANWR and anywhere else she can, and she believes we should be teaching creationism in our schools. James Dobson of Focus on the Family is thrilled with her. This should tell you everything you need to know.

But policy aside, it is blatantly, patently, painfully obvious to anyone with even a marginally functioning noggin that she was picked because she's a woman. You don't need me to tell you this. There will undoubtedly be some who will vote McCain's way solely because of this pick. There's a word for these people and it isn't "feminist". It's "gullible". As Kizz noted in comments to my last post, "the only reason the GOP thinks she's a good pick is because they think women are stupid enough to vote because someone has a vagina instead of because the person has a brain." Not much I can add to that. This is not a gift to you, women. It's an insult.

But unfortunately, as bald as this tactic is, they will undoubtedly gain more than they lose from it. For every Kizz out there, there is a Kimberly Myers. In a recent NYT article, Ms. Myers, a former Clinton supporter, said, “I think it’s absolutely fantastic...She’s actually broken the glass ceiling.” Ah, yes. So Hillary does all of the work and then this person comes in to eat the doughnuts and gets credit from Ms. Myers for being used as a political stunt. Memo to Ms. Myers: This particular ceiling has already been broken. And it was a stunt then too. Congratulations. You've officially been had.

There may not actually be a Kimberly Myers for every Kizz out there. But there doesn't need to be. There only needs to be one for every 5 or 10 Kizzes. That's enough. The Kizzes of the world weren't going to vote for McCain anyway, so he couldn't care less about them. He'll take what he can get and not concern himself with being labeled a rank opportunist.

The GOP rails against identity politics when it's used by others. But when it suits their purposes they have no problem using it. They've done it many times before. This is only the most glaring example of it. It's unbelievably cynical. But they wouldn't do it if they didn't think it would work. And if you criticize them, well, I guess you just don't want that glass ceiling broken.