Friday, December 28, 2007

What Do Politicians Do When They Aren’t Talking?

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I’ve been meaning to post this piece that I wrote shortly after witnessing the Democratic candidates in person during Yearly Kos, but other things kept pushing it to the back burner. Since we are now down to the wire, I’m going to pare it down to the three top tier candidates and post it:

One of the most fascinating things about seeing the Presidential Leadership Forum in person was the opportunity to watch the body language and demeanor of the candidates, particularly when they were not answering questions. Since the format of this event involved questions for individual candidates, and the other candidates were not expected to respond, I found it interesting to see what they did with themselves when they knew they were off the hook with regard to answering a particular question.

Normally, while watching a televised debate, one would primarily see the body language of the person on camera, so I decided to focus on the others to see what impressions I would get that might be different from the image projected by the candidates when they were “on the spot.”

Before I do, however, I should point out that I have no formal training in evaluating body language, so my thoughts are simply those of a curious observer, interested in seeing another side of the candidates. I also recognize that body language, like speech and policy positions, can be coached, so there is no guarantee that what I observed was any sort of window to understanding anything profound about the candidates.

Nevertheless, the impressions I got were somewhat different from those normally projected by the individual when he or she was on the spot. Here are the notes I made regarding the three top tier candidates:

Obama – He was the only one who consistently directed his answers toward the person who asked it rather than talk directly to the audience. When others were talking, he looked at them, often with a reflective pose and occasionally furrowed brow. Frequently, he would lean back and cross his legs like he was relaxing in his living room, but always with chin in hand, constantly seeming to process what he was hearing.

Clinton – Always seemed to have a slight smile, oddly even when being criticized by the other candidates or when asked a challenging question from the audience. She sat back while listening, and leaned forward while speaking, but sometimes didn’t seem to be talking to the crowd so much as to an imaginary audience of poll subjects, or so I remember thinking at the time.

Edwards – Showed the greatest contrast between his speaking and non-speaking personas. Although he was one of the most passionate orators during his turn to speak, when others were talking he sat fixed with a somewhat pained expression, in a position much like the Lincoln Memorial, as if waiting for his turn to rise up on cue like the animatronic star of the Country Bear Jamboree.

I don’t know what this all means, but I do recall that I arrived feeling equally supportive of the candidacy of Obama and Edwards, and highly skeptical of Clinton. I left the event with a completely unchanged impression of Clinton, a slightly better impression of Obama, and a slightly worse impression of Edwards.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Securing the “Manly-Man” Vote!

Which one of these men looks the strongest, most confident and, shall we say, most “Presidential,” and which one looks like a phony baloney, doofus politician trying to pander to the NRA crowd for votes?

Is it this guy:

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Or this guy:

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Funny how we don’t see the traditional media jumping all over Mike Huckabee for staging a “manly-man” photo op, like they did for weeks with John Kerry, even when it's crystal clear why Huckabee's running around looking like this:

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The really scary thing is that, apparently, Huckabee's aim isn't what's exaggerated about this picture!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Gulp! Choke! My Words Taste Even Worse Than a Fruitcake!

Less than a week ago, I posted this about Bill Clinton’s criticism of Barack Obama:
I would prefer my surgery be done by a plumber who is honest and bright enough to rely on the careful assistance of experts to help him . . . than from a former surgeon’s wife who says she’ll rely on her experience!
Unfortunately, I fear Obama might not be such a good judge of who is a suitable expert!

I can only hope that Obama actually knows better, and that although he figured dropping Arnold’s name might earn him a few independent votes in the pre-California primaries, he will drop Arnold from his list of “respectable” Republicans well before Super Tuesday!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Mike Huckabee is a “Good Guy” like Chuck Norris is a “Good Actor!”

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Now that Mike Huckabee is surging in the polls on the strength of a tiny shred of likeability notably absent from any of the other GOP frontrunners, he’s decided he needs to pull together a crack team that is ready to take his “good guy” message to the people.

He’s already got Chuck Norris at his side to neutralize the pull of Oprah, should he face Barack Obama in the General Election!

And now, he’s got a new National Campaign Chairman. That’s right - the same Ed Rollins who is behind the sleazy California ballot initiative to steal electoral votes, whose operatives have been caught using a “bait and switch” scheme to get petition signatures from people thinking they are fighting children’s cancer!

Yeah, Mike Huckabee’s a real good guy!

Friday, December 21, 2007

What do George Bush and Sarah Connor Have in Common?

I copied this image some time ago, in the hope that I would eventually have a good opportunity to use it.

Looks like I don’t have to wait any longer, as the Bush Administration just denied California’s attempt to establish it’s own tougher fuel efficiency standards, prompting Arnold Schwarzenegger to threaten a lawsuit against the Federal Government.

Apparently, George Bush doesn't think the risk of drought from reduced snowpack and of rampant wildfires are “compelling” reasons to allow California to push for a stronger, quicker, response against global climate change!

To which I can only say:

"Go on, Arnold. Sarah Connor may be long gone, but you can still be the Terminator!"

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Who Goes to the Hospital for “Flu Like Symptoms?”

Howie Klein suggests that Rudy Giuliani’s trip to the hospital might turn into a case of the runner who suddenly pulls a hamstring after realizing he can’t win the race!

Or maybe he just ate too much “fwuitcake!”

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Memo to Bill Clinton: A Vote For Any Candidate is Like “Rolling the Dice!”

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In a recent interview with Charlie Rose, Bill Clinton let loose on Barack Obama, among other things claiming that a vote for Obama is like “rolling the dice” because he lacks Hillary’s “experience,” and then continuing with some even more ridiculous comparisons.

I hate to break it to you, Mr. President, but that’s the nature of voting for any candidate based on campaign promises. For all we know, a vote for Hillary Clinton as an “agent of change” may be no more effective than were votes for George W. Bush as a “compassionate conservative!”

When you cast a vote, you can only hope (and believe, I suppose) that your candidate will actually try to do what he or she promised. And I don’t just mean looking like they are trying, while secretly planning or actually enabling the opposite outcome. I mean actually trying to walk the talk that got them elected! Otherwise, your vote is just a losing roll of the dice!

And if you really think a vote for Obama is like "asking a plumber to perform surgery," let me remind you that your wife is not, by any account, a “surgeon” when it comes to the Presidency. In fact, I would prefer my surgery be done by a plumber who is honest and bright enough to rely on the careful assistance of experts to help him . . . than from a former surgeon’s wife who says she’ll rely on her experience!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Honesty, Not Defensiveness, Can Be the Great Disarmer For Obama!

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This insightful piece, by M.J. Rosenberg at TPM Cafe, hints at the one unassailable strength that Barack Obama would have in his Presidential run:
Anyone who thinks that Billy Shaheen's Obama slur was a blunder, rather than a calculated piece of the politics of personal destruction, should note that Mark Penn repeated it hours after Sen. Clinton apologized.

Penn got this right out of the Rove play book. Just as Rove took John Kerry's greatest asset -- his military record -- and lied it into a negative, so Penn takes Obama's -- his biography -- and tries to do the same.

The difference is that the tactic won't work with Obama. The patrician Kerry did not know how to deal with guttersnipe attacks. He was so utterly unused to them.

All African-American men are used to them, especially one who made it to Harvard Law, the US Senate and a Presidential candidacy despite his race, his name, and his exotic heritage.
Rosenberg’s conclusion is that there will be more attacks:
So get ready. The worst people in America are going to use Barack Obama's race and his personal struggle against him. They are going to try to transform his unique assets into negatives.
But Obama has what none of the other candidates in either party can match: an seeming ability to be open and honest about who he is and where he came from that will, any time he uses it to disarm an attack, remind voters of all the things they hate about other politicians in general, and the Republicans of the Bush II Era in particular.

Whenever opponents try to attack his personal history, Obama can simply respond that “he has learned a lot of valuable lessons from those struggles, and they have made him appreciate the person that he is today.”

He won’t even have to mention the plentiful denials of personal history, including sexual identity and corruption, on the other side of the aisle, for voters to be reminded of them!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Top Ten List – Not Licensed to Kill Waterboard Edition.

In yet another reminder that there is no IQ requirement for membership in the United States Senate, Missouri’s James Kit Bond apparently thinks waterboarding is like swimming the backstroke!

While it amazes me the lengths Republicans will go to make light of their propensity for illegal, and often violent, behavior, there are still a few excuses they haven’t tried. Yet!

So with that in mind, here’s my:

Top Ten List of Excuses Republicans Haven’t Tried Yet Regarding Waterboarding:

10. It’s just a warmer version of snowboarding!

9. It’s just like dumping Gatorade on a winning football coach!

8. We thought we were using flax seed oil!

7. It’s a little known fact that this Administration wanted to delay waterboarding until after the 2004 elections, but Congress wanted something they could be deceived about!

6. We were just trying to counteract the dehydrating effect of severe beatings!

5. Freedom needs waterboarding, just as waterboarding needs freedom!

4. It’s just like a form of baptism - falling somewhere between sprinkling holy water and total immersion!

3. The American people don’t seem to mind watching the Wicked Witch get doused in The Wizard of Oz . . . because they understand that innocent munchkin lives are at stake!

2. Bill Clinton was known to pour water himself, right in the Oval Office!

And the top excuse Republicans haven’t tried yet regarding waterboarding:

1. We have a wet stance!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Romney Quote of the Day

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Reiterating a recurring theme from his campaign, I’ve paraphrased this from today’s GOP debate when asked what is more important, electing a fiscal conservative or a social conservative:
We need to bring together fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, and defense conservatives - the three legs of the Republican stool!
My suggested response from the Democrats would be the following:
We need to rid ourselves of foreign policy failure, domestic and economic failure, and constitutional failure – the three floaters of the Republican stool!
OK, so I wasn’t the first person to think of it, and as long as Romney continues his “stool fixation,” I doubt I’ll be the last!

But here’s one you won’t find anywhere else (warning - timed release punchline):
Is Mitt Romney’s campaign call for returning to a “three-legged Republican stool” a backhanded swipe at Hillary Clinton in favor of him (or any of the other GOP candidates) in the White House?
OK, maybe a barely perceptible punchline!

And here's Mitt, talking about his stool:

This isn't mocking, either. It was uploaded to YouTube directly from the Romney campaign!

New Huckabee Ad


Monday, December 10, 2007

Scooter Ends His Quest for the Holy Grail!

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When Scooter Libby’s sentence was commuted by his co-conspirator the President, he immediately filed an appeal and strongly re-asserted his innocence. Seemingly, he was going to fight to the bitter end in order to advance a PR agenda clear his good name.

Apparently, Libby’s quest for the holy grail of redemption has ended.
“We remain firmly convinced of Mr. Libby's innocence," attorney Theodore Wells said Monday. "However, the realities were, that after five years of government service by Mr. Libby and several years of defending against this case, the burden on Mr. Libby and his young family of continuing to pursue his complete vindication are too great to ask them to bear."
OK, so now that “complete vindication” is out, what about the less noble goal of “illusionary legal vindication?”
The decision to withdraw his appeal means Libby will remain a convicted felon. President Bush could wipe away the conviction with a full pardon, something he has refused to rule out. Wells said Monday that he has not spoken to the White House about a pardon and does not know what Bush will do.
Regardless of the somewhat meaningless nature of a potential pardon toward Libby’s long-term reputation, it seems clear that Libby did stand a much better chance of achieving “complete vindication” than, say, O.J. Simpson had of “catching his former wife’s killer!

And Scooter will surely receive enough in hush money conservative think tank salary that he won’t have to associate with sleazy Las Vegas characters dealing in “Presidential memorabilia” in order to support his imperialism golf habit.

In fact, the noted smut peddler author could even supplement his retirement income by writing a confession fictitious memoir.

Perhaps he could call the work, “If I Leaked It!”

Update: Rumor has it that Scooter may have to choose a different title, as this one’s already earmarked for Judith Regan’s new book about urinary incontinence in the Giuliani mayoral administration!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Romney Just Got My Vote!

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Not my vote for President, but my unofficial vote for the person I want to be the Republican nominee in the general election.

For a long time, I’ve been leaning toward Giuliani as the guy any Democratic candidate would easily be able to reduce to rubble - by emphasizing his slimy past and calling him on his many transgressions. But now I’ve changed my mind!

Half-Mitt Romney’s recent speech, presumably to make Republican voters comfortable with his Mormonism, has convinced me beyond all doubt that this is the guy I want to see debating a Democrat.

This is the guy I trust most to make a fool of himself every time he opens his mouth. In his speech, he uttered yet another memorably idiotic line:
Freedom requires religion, just as religion requires freedom.
Freedom requires religion?

Kind of like “national service” requires “helping Dad win elections?”

Instead of making voters comfortable with the idea of Romney as the first Mormon President, Dim-Mitt Romney is a constant reminder of why America should be uncomfortable with the idea of Romney as the first second Moron President!

I would greatly enjoy seeing how much of his own personal fortune Mitt-Less Romney would continue to blow in another year of campaigning, before he is eventually crushed and sent back to his former career of “raping and pillaging” the American business world.

And of course there’s my favorite line from Romney’s speech, which coincidently occurred right at the moment the above image was taken:
President Bush may be stronger than a rock, but now America needs a President who can beat paper!
(For any Romney supporters who might read this, I made that part up!)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Lying Makes You Thirsty!

Just finished watching today's press briefing with White House Spokesmodel Dana Perino. On the press' mind - the destruction of the CIA interrogation tapes and the President's knowledge of the events.

Here are the first couple of questions:

Q Thanks. On these CIA videotapes, did either the President or Vice President or Condoleezza Rice, when she was National Security Advisor, or Steve Hadley, see them before they were destroyed?

MS. PERINO: I spoke to the President, and so I will have to defer on the others. But I spoke to the President this morning about this. He has no recollection of being made aware of the tapes or their destruction before yesterday. He was briefed by General Hayden yesterday morning. And as to the others, I'll have to -- I'll refer you to the Vice President's office and I'll see if I can get the others.

Q Was there any White House involvement in approving or commenting upon their destruction?

MS. PERINO: As I said, the President has no recollection knowing about the tapes or about their destruction, and so I can't answer the follow-up.

Here we go again with the "no recollection" answers. She did not deny that the President was given the information or that he even viewed the tapes - just that he told her that he can't remember - hmm! I guess unless some evidence, that hasn't been destroyed, comes to light to jog his memory!

I think today was Perino's "What Happened" moment. Can't wait for her to hit the book circuit in a couple of years - when she will finally reveal that she was given things to say that were "not true".

The entire press conference was incredibly somber. It was easy to tell that Perino did not want to be there, did not believe what she was saying and knew that the reporters did not believe any of it either.

But my favorite part was as Perino ended the conference, left the podium, turned and said - "I am so thirsty"?

I guess lying does that to you!

Olbermann, Bush and the Iran NIE

If you haven't seen Olberman's latest special comment - here it is.
Nailed it again!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Why I Prefer Judgment Over Experience: Hillary Clinton, Meet Joe Gibbs!

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As I watch the Hillary Clinton campaign step up their negative rhetoric toward Barack Obama, in response to Obama’s challenges to her “inevitability” as the Democratic nominee, I like this characterization of the contrast by the Wall Street Journal:
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have taken off their gloves. In one corner stands the champion of experience, with the best executive coach in the free world at her side and a dog-eared playbook of strategies that have won in the past. Standing in the opposite corner is a young contender, fairly new at the game, underweight and probably overmatched, but a natural, as they say. Mr. Obama and his handlers are putting their money on his judgment, disdaining the experience card as a stale rerun of earlier campaigns.
The point was driven home recently during a short trip to a Nevada casino for a weekend of (small-time) football betting, when I lost a bet in a game that ended as described by the Los Angeles Times:
The grief of the Washington Redskins was on full display, in front of 85,000 fans waving their No. 21 towels (in memory of murdered player, Sean Taylor), but their emotions were shattered when Ryan Lindell kicked a 36-yard field goal with four seconds left to give the Buffalo Bills a 17-16 victory.

Lindell made a 51-yard attempt that didn't count because the Redskins (5-7) called timeout just as the ball was snapped. Coach Joe Gibbs then tried the same tactic again, but consecutive timeouts aren't allowed when attempting to freeze the kicker. The resulting 15-yard penalty gave Lindell an easier kick and helped the Bills improve to 6-6.
That would be the very experienced Joe Gibbs, whose resume as an NFL coach is clearly beyond what Hillary Clinton claims as her qualifications to be President, as described in his official website biography:
During Joe Gibbs' first tenure with the Redskins, from 1981-1992, he led them to eight playoff appearances, four NFC championships, and three Super Bowl titles. He was known for his hard work and extremely long hours.

In 1996 he was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, with a record of 124 wins and 60 losses and a post season record of 16 wins and five loses. His winning percentage of .683 was behind only the legendary Vince Lombardi and John Madden.
He’s been back coaching the Redskins since 2004. And to be fair, Gibbs has surely built his career by using better judgment than he displayed at the end of the Bills game (although perhaps he's now showing the effects of breathing too many NASCAR gas fumes!) To top it off, he was coaching the game under emotional, pressure-filled, stressful conditions after Taylor’s death.

But, according to Hillary, isn’t “experience,” supposed to be the thing that allows one to perform effectively in the sometimes emotional, pressure-filled, stressful conditions of being President?

And if “experience” didn’t prevent Joe Gibbs from using poor judgment under the stress of an emotional game, how can we expect Hillary Clinton’s “experience” to prevent her from using poor judgment under the stress of being President?

Or the stress of an emotional campaign?

Friday, November 30, 2007

The GOP Candidates: In a Sentence.

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I decided to subject myself to the full two hours of Wednesday’s CNN GOP debate, mainly because I thought there might be some entertainment value in the YouTube format. In that regard, it did not disappoint. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the likes of Romney and Giuliani pissing all over each other, as they fumbled questions from a combination of right wing loonies and stealthy liberals trying to highlight the absurdly hateful hypocrisy that is today’s Republican Party!

Aside from the entertainment value, however, I didn’t really learn much about the candidates. Perhaps, a few existing impressions were confirmed. All told, I can probably sum it all up for each candidate in a single sentence:

Tom Tancredo – So obsessed that he thinks Chinese toys are illegal aliens!

Mike Huckabee – The only GOP candidate with acting ability worthy of admiration from Chuck Norris!

Mitt Roney – Clearly doesn’t deserve a second “M” when mentioning his name, or his religion!

Rudy Giuliani – Verbally, he attacks like a pit bull (but with slightly less flying saliva!)

John McCain –Likes to scold like a repressed nun, but if someone beats him and becomes President, he’ll be first in line for a hug!

Fred Thompson – Talks like the giant hundred-year-old grouper that lives in the lake!

Ron Paul – Can a doctor prescribe, and then stop taking, his own meds?

Duncan Hunter – Has a mind like a steel border fence: Nothing enters!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Rudy and the Threats

Rudy a lot has been said and written today about your apparent "taxpayer" sponsored affair. Your response to the question at the CNN/Youtube debate wasn't exactly a denial of the facts. You said it was not true - but then went on to say that - how the security detail was expensed - was not your responsibility - and as far as you knew it was all done "appropriately".

Way to pass the buck - Mr. "I know how to run a city" - Mr. "I know how to lead in a crisis" - Mr. "9/11"!

Well Rudy you have a crisis now - show us what you're made of!

The part of your initial answer to the debate question that peaked my interest was your reference to threats that required this enhanced security. I would like to hear more about them. Please elaborate. Did you need protection from the mob? From terrorists? Or from your children - pissed at you because you and your security posse were cheating on their mother in the Hamptons!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

So Much for That Idea!

I was in line at the grocery store yesterday when I saw the newest cover of The Economist (Yes, I shop at the rare grocery that isn’t completely filled with tabloids!) At first, I thought to myself, “No wonder the U.S. economy is in the toilet; The magazine that America turns to for serious economic commentary is willing to engage in what looks like a blatant act of Presidential Legacy Fluffing TM!”

Turns out the story was more of a challenge to the President than an effort to build him into a legitimate leader. Basically, it was a call to use a rare opportunity to redeem himself for a laundry list of failures, so I can’t hold anything against the magazine.

But jeez! Talk about failing to meet a challenge! Not only is Bush not the man to bring the leaders of Israel and Palestine toward lasting peace, he can’t even pronounce their names!

If you haven’t seen it, check out the video of his embarrassing effort to introduce “Ehud Ul-mult and Ma-hoom-mud Abbas” (that would be Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas, by the way!)

Unbelievable! Even Rudy Giuliani introducing Nicolas Sarkozy and Sammy Sosa would be an improvement over this guy!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Rove: "I’m Still a Genius!"

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I finally read Karl Rove’s first column for Newsweek magazine. It’s written as a how-to guide to beating Hillary Clinton, but I think it’s really the first step in Rove’s desperate attempt to reclaim his status as “genius” despite the monumental failure of his political "brother," George Bush. Here’s a quote (with my emphasis):
Every presidential election is about change and the future, not the past. So show them who you are in a way that gives the American people hope, optimism and insight. That's the best antidote to the low approval rates of the Republican president. Those numbers will not help the GOP candidate . . . .
First of all, if every presidential election is about change, why was the last presidential election about "how Bush had all the right policies and Kerry didn’t?"

And why would anyone need an "antidote" for a great president? At this point, Rove is clearly detaching from the Bush policies because they no longer make him look like such a genius. Eventually, I fully expect Rove to embrace the idea that his true “genius” was not discovering a great president, but getting an idiot elected twice!

Rove continues:
The American people want their president to be authentic. And against a Democrat who calculates almost everything, including her accent and laugh, being seen as someone who says what he believes in a direct way will help.
Here, Rove reveals his own formula for getting the idiot Bush elected: calculate almost everything, including his accent and laugh, to be seen as someone who says what he believes!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Is it Too Early for a New Year's Prediction Karl Rove?

When I first read that Newsweek had hired Karl Rove as a contributor to their increasing irrelevant weekly magazine - I was, to put it mildly, "outraged". Once again - here was a perfect example of the corporate media selling their soul to the devil.

But upon further review and after reading "Turdblossom's" first effort - it is only a matter of time before it becomes painfully clear just how ordinary Mr. Rove really is. Somehow he was able to convince just about everyone that he possessed the gifts of intellect, strategy and skill never before seen in american politics. The "mainstream" media pundits routinely gave him credit for one political miracle after another. He was a chess master, artfully maneuvering the pieces, while no one else even new what game they were playing. And he did it all merely by never saying anything in public or on the record.

Sure he would leak some classified information once and a while. And yes, he would occasionally speak at some far right neocon gathering. But Karl never had to explain his ingenious strategy and he never had to answer to anyone. By simply not speaking - the Karl Rove's myth mushroomed to biblical proportions.

But mushroom no more!

My first New Year's prediction: Karl Rove's job at Newsweek will finally pull back the curtain on this "Wizard". Sure he put on a good show - but what will be revealed is the scared little man just hoping that no one will find out how ordinary he really is. And, while he suggests in his first column that the Republican presidential candidates should move away from "this unpopular Republican President" - I predict it will be Rove himself standing alone and unprotected - no longer hidden by his curtain of secrecy.

Thank you Newsweek in advance!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Watching Reality TV = Crossing the Picket Line!

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As I watched a recent segment of Countdown with Keith Olbermann trumpeting the impending return of American Idol, it occurred to me that anyone who is willing to stand in solidarity (at least in spirit) with the striking writers should probably take this opportunity to wean themselves from any “addiction” they may have to reality TV!

Remember, the development of the current genre that includes Idol, Survivor, Dancing with the Stars, The Amazing Race, and many others, developed as a way to keep programming available to maintain network profits without the services of striking writers!

If you claim to support the talents of the writers who bring you quality entertainment (or at least crap you like!) over network executives (who would force you to watch a test pattern between commercials if they could figure out how to get it to hypnotize you into buying the shit they are selling!), then any time you feel the urge to tune in to your favorite reality show, crack a book or talk to a family member instead!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Life Outside Bush’s Bubble

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Looks like the usually lucrative post-administration speaking circuit isn’t going to be too kind to war criminals and torture enablers!

Here’s Gonzo during a speech at the University of Florida.

(Note to self for future business venture: Open a store selling orange jumpsuits and black hoods near the campus of Southern Methodist University right before the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library!)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Is That Bush’s Hand Up His You Know What?

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Day after day, on issue after issue, Mitch McConnell can be consistently counted upon to flap his mouth, spouting anything the Bush administration wants him to say. In fact, it’s almost as if they have some kind of control over his actions and can make him move his mouth at will.

Here’s Howie Klein with the complete rundown on the lead Republican obstructionist running interference for Bush’s policies against a Congress supposedly elected to provide some actual oversight.

Not surprising! In today’s Republican Party, I guess you can say there are two types of puppets. There are the hand puppets, like Mitch McConnell, who can be made to say anything at any time with absolute control. And then there are the marionettes, like Larry Craig, who can be manipulated by pulling the right strings, but are a bit wild and often prone to inopportune and uncontrollable toe tapping!

Juicy Robert Novak Rumor

I just heard from an acquaintance that his coworker's - 3rd cousin's - ex boyfriend - heard an incredibly juicy rumor about Robert Novak. However, I'm not going to reveal what I have learned out of respect for citizen journalism and bloggers everywhere.

But I can say that it involves a gerbil, a giant vat of jello and a mule.

But that is all I can say.............. because I take my position as a progressive blogger very seriously and I wouldn't want to risk my stellar reputation by spreading rumors. Even one that my acquaintances coworker's 3rd cousin's ex boyfriend was pretty sure about.

Mr. Novak - You are a disgrace to journalism. You have no credibility and you are ugly! Those are facts - not just a rumor. And you quote me on that!

Friday, November 16, 2007


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It’s a little known fact, for inherently obvious reasons, that I’m a notoriously bad self-promoter when it comes to my blogging. I rarely solicit links, directly through blogroll requests, or indirectly through strategic commenting. I usually opt not to cross-post on the more heavily trafficked group blogs, mostly because I don’t want to try to fit the expected mold of other writers there. I haven’t bothered to learn a lot of the newer technologies that help increase exposure across the web.

When I attended the Yearly Kos Convention last summer, I was motivated enough to make up business cards to give out, but then ended up coming home with almost all of them, because I simply forgot to give them out despite many opportunities, including several conversations with moderately influential bloggers.

Hell, I go many months at a time without even checking the Sitemeter to see who, if anyone, is stopping by. If not for the occasional comment, I’d basically be writing the things I want to read and can’t find elsewhere, purely for my own amusement!

Occasionally, I even joke sarcastically about Left-Over’s lack of readership, such as in the following excerpt from this post from a couple of weeks ago:
If you are one of those other nations Dick Cheney says the United States is joining with, what would frighten you the most:

Iran having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon?

Or Dick Cheney having control of a whole bunch of actual nuclear weapons?

Any of our many international readers care to weigh in on that question?
Of course, the really strange thing about sending your thoughts out into the world is that you never know when you might catch someone’s attention and/or imagination.

After months of ignoring the Sitemeter, I happened to take a look yesterday, only to find that not only do we have international readers, one of them had actually taken one of my posts and translated it into German. Well, at least I hope it was translated! For all the German I know, my writing might have been completely ripped to shreds, and my only possible rebuttal would be to call my German critic a “weiner dog!” Or, if that wasn’t enough, I could respond assertively to an imaginary sneeze!

After looking at the site, however, I’m a little confused as to why my post was translated into German, as it does not appear to be a politically oriented site. Oh well! I’m going to take the "Condoleeza Rice" approach to resume building and just say my blog “has been enthusiastically translated into other languages!”

In addition to the odd German translation, I also found from the Sitemeter that I had been quoted and linked by one of my favorite writers at Firedoglake, T-Rex. That was a pleasant surprise and a first for me as well!

So I guess I’m not just writing for, as Karl Rove recently put it, my own “personal release!” But frankly, that’s still the main reason! It’s either that or have permanent steam coming out of my ears whenever I see what they are doing to my country!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

If You’re a Californian, and You’re Stupid, Say “Aye” to Ed Rollins!

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I was going to limit the title to “California Democrats” before realizing this was completely unnecessary, even though I’m really only targeting the majority who plan on voting to put a Democrat in the White House in 2008.

Apparently, the scheme to steal a large chunk of California’s electoral votes for the Republicans is now back, full steam ahead! Here’s a recent appeal from Ed Rollins for support for the newly re-packaged “California Counts” initiative posted on the conservative FlashReport blog.

According to his biography, Rollins is a former amateur boxing champion turned GOP political strategist. After reading his arguments in favor of this initiative, I can attest to the fact that he certainly thinks and writes like a boxer! Actually, there is something particularly fitting about the juxtaposition of the phrase “boxer turned GOP political strategist,” but I’ll leave that for another post!

I already did an extensive analysis of the arguments against this ridiculous measure, which included a breakdown of how the actual math affects the vast majority of California voters (as an aside, the post also includes my all time favorite accompanying image).

So here, I will just present a few Rollins gems followed by my comments:
Dear FlashReport Reader:

As you know as well as anyone, for the last several elections, no Presidential candidates of either party made an effort in California. They took our money but they did not use it to tell California voters about how they could best serve our great state or our great nation.
And they made a great effort to serve other states exactly how? With Swift Boat ads and threats that terrorists will kill us if we don’t vote Republican? No thanks, I’ll let them spend the money pestering other states!
Over 5.5 million votes were cast by Californians that HAD NO IMPACT ON THE OUTCOME OF THE 2004 ELECTION. In no other state did either candidate receive more votes than those cast in California. Furthermore, over $240 million was given by Californians and it was used to address issues in battleground states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida not California!
Um, the “issues” being addressed in those battleground states, if I recall correctly, were that many votes had no impact on the outcome of the 2004 election, thanks to Republicans spending money to keep them from counting, and Democrats spending money fighting to count them!
This initiative is NOT about helping any one party or candidate and it is not about changing the system our founding fathers created for the success of our democracy. It simply makes sure that every vote cast in our state counts in the Electoral College.
What about Democrats living in Orange County whose votes won’t count if their district’s electoral vote goes to a Republican? Why don’t we just give every registered voter in the country their own electoral vote! That would be a lot of people who would have to attend the Electoral College on the voters’ behalf, and there may not be enough “non-voters” willing to do it, so we might have to hire some illegal immigrants!
For instance, in 1988, Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis received 4.7million California votes but received ZERO electoral delegates from California. And in 2004, Republican nominee George Bush received over 5 1/2 million votes of Californians, but received ZERO electoral delegates from California.??? It has been over 30 years since presidential candidates have actively sought the votes of Californians. Without this reform initiative, they will take us for granted again in 2008.
OK! I’m convinced! I just can’t go on with the thought of being taken for granted by Michael Dukakis for another 20 years! Where do I sign the petition?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Top Ten Reasons Why Liberal Bloggers are More Vitriolic than Conservatives!

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Think Progress explains how Karl Rove attacked liberal bloggers yesterday, and boy howdy, am I feeling the sting right about now!
“The Web has given angry and vitriolic people more of a voice in public discourse,” said Mr. Rove, who served as one of President Bush’s top strategists until he resigned this past summer, and is a noted technology nut.

“People in the past who have been on the nutty fringe of political life, who were more or less voiceless, have now been given an inexpensive and easily accessible soapbox, a blog,” Mr. Rove said during a speech about politics and the Web at the Willard InterContinental, a hotel just blocks from his former place of employment.

“I’m a fan of many blogs. I visit them frequently and I learn a lot from them,” Mr. Rove said. “But there also blogs written by angry kooks.”

He also claimed that liberals use more “bad words,” comparing sites like DailyKos and Democratic Underground to Townhall and FreeRepublic. The “netroots often argue from anger rather than reason, and too often, their object is personal release, not political persuasion,” said Rove.
In response to Rove’s tirade against bloggers like me, I’ve put together my own list of the top ten reasons why liberal bloggers are more vitriolic than conservatives:

10. Most profanity learned after the fourth grade reading level!

9. Conservative angry kooks all too busy with their radio and TV shows!

8. No opportunities to let it out on the floor of the U.S. Senate!

7. More passion comes from actual beliefs than from Richard Mellon Scaife’s checkbook!

6. Some scientists say it’s just a natural cyclical rise in vitriol, not caused by human liberal bloggers!

5. Official Republican talking points pre-screened for swear words!

4. Conservatives just resting between Clinton presidencies!

3. Need to seem dangerous enough to keep Bill O’Reilly from “coming to your house!”

2. Bungled response to 9/11 changed everything!

And the top reason why liberal bloggers are more vitriolic than conservatives:

1. Conservatives prefer to get their “personal release” in public restrooms!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Torture is the Best We Can Hope For!

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In defending their votes for Michael Mukasey - an otherwise seemingly respectable man who somehow deliberately refuses to label waterboarding as illegal torture - Diane Feinstein and Chuck Schumer have made a clear statement about the standards to which they hold our country:

From Feinstein:
First and foremost, Michael Mukasey is not Alberto Gonzales.
From Schumer:
Under this administration, (the) nominee will certainly never share our views on issues like torture and wiretapping.

When an administration, so political, so out of touch with the realities of governing and so contemptuous of the rule of law is in charge, we are never left with an ideal choice. Judge Mukasey is not my ideal choice. However, Judge Mukasey, whose integrity and independence is respected even by those who oppose him, is far better than anyone could expect from this administration.
In other words:
We should give President Bush everything he wants, because he could want something worse!
So tell me, Senators Feinstein and Schumer:

What could be worse than losing your rights of habeas corpus with a President who can declare you an enemy combatant and waterboard torture you without fear of prosecution, and who would like to give legal immunity from murder to the private mercenary army on his payroll?

Yeah, I suppose Feinstein and Schumer could be commended for providing enough oversight to protect the country from the equivalent of a President Jeffrey Dahmer, or a President John Wayne Gacy. So far, George Bush hasn’t been allowed to cook and eat his enemies and store their bones under the White House!

Nice job, Senators!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

If Chauncey Gardiner Had Been An Warmonger!

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In the 1979 movie, Being There, Peter Sellers plays a mentally-retarded gardener whose simple-minded platitudes about gardening, combined with behaviors learned from watching television, are so mistaken for homespun wisdom that he ends up being considered as a Presidential candidate.

Substitute brush cutting for gardening, and Neocon warnings about terrorism for television, and you pretty much have George W. Bush! Like Sellers’ character, Bush has the ability to live his life based on a few simple sayings that he applies to every situation. Among the simple life rules he appears to follow are:

• Jesus loves me and wants me to be rich
• Stand by those who say I’m great
• I’m the decider
• No taxes.

There are a few others, but certainly no more than his remaining countable digits (and probably even with his shoes on!)

Lately, the “No taxes” idea seems to be the one he’s applying to the SCHIP debate, as he staked out his most recent position:
"If they keep passing this legislation, I will keep vetoing it," Bush vowed, saying the latest version is even more expensive than the first, which he vetoed October 3.
"I'm going to use my veto pen to prevent" Congress from raising taxes, the president promised.
He later enforced his desire to keep things simple, with the demand that Congress send him single-issue legislation:
"There are now reports that Congressional leaders may be considering combining the Veterans and Department of Defense appropriations bills, and then add a bloated labor, health and education spending bill to both of them," he said.

"Congress should pass each bill one at a time in a fiscally responsible manner," he said. Bush also urged Congress to send him a "clean defense appropriations bill and a war supplemental bill."
At this point, the Democrats should use Bush’s expectation of simplicity to their advantage, by saying the following:

Look, if we can’t afford to provide the medical care necessary to keep kids healthy long enough to pay off the debt for the Iraq war, then we have no choice but to “pay as we go!” Then, they should chop up the elements of funding the war and send them to the President one by one, each with an associated tax that will cover the cost in a fiscally responsible manner that won’t burden the kids whose health care we can’t afford.

Send him legislation that includes the estimated cost for Haliburton, along with a “Halliburton Tax,” and another with the estimated cost for Blackwater, along with a “Blackwater Tax.” They should send him legislation approving funds for a phased troop withdrawal, without a tax (since removal of troops will spare future generations the cost of extended military activity, so they will have it to pay for health care) , but include another separate bill for any costs associated with an ongoing military presence in Iraq, along with a “War tax.”

Then, sit back and let Bush be the Decider!

(hat tip to Swopa for reminding me of one of my favorite movies right at the time I was looking for an opening for this post)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Ballad of Dick Cheney’s America

I recently had the opportunity to see a live performance by The Tiger Lillies, whose song, “The Crack of Doom,” is performed in the video above. They were quite brilliantly strange, and as I listened to them sing this song, all I could think of was Dick Cheney’s twisted view of the world and what it has done to the country.

They later evoked the entire Republican party when they sang “Hamster!” (click through and select "listen to this song" if you aren't easily offended!)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Jane Harman to Blogoshere: “Got a Better Idea?”

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Obviously George W. Bush isn’t the only petulant, childish, simpleton running around the Capitol these days. In fact, he might not be any worse that what the Democrats have to offer! The following exchange recently took place on Daily Kos, beginning when Drational criticized some of the Democrats pushing hardest to accede to Bush’s demand for retroactive immunity for the Telecom industry, including Jane Harman (D-Capitulation).
Jane Harman was removed from her position on the HPSCI after the Congressional changes in November 2006, yet according to a WaPo article today, she is engineering a Democratic capitulation on retroactive immunity behind closed doors:
And as Democratic leaders push their own legislation to rein in the wiretapping program, Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) has been quietly exploring avenues of compromise with Rep. Peter Hoekstra (Mich.), the ranking Republican on the House intelligence committee. Centrist Democrats hope those talks can dovetail with the Senate intelligence committee's own bipartisan measure on surveillance of suspected terrorists.
Harman then responded with her own post on Daily Kos that included the following classy rebuttal:
What rubbish! For those like me who insist that the President’s domestic surveillance program must comply fully with the Constitution and the 4th Amendment, the only way for Congress to get there is with a veto-proof majority. That's why I'm working with Republicans. Got a better idea?
Naturally, this led Kagro X to not only rip her logic to shreds (including the highlight below), but opened the floodgate for hundreds of comments, many of which contained better ideas and a better understanding of how the whole “constitutional democracy” thing is supposed to work! (my emphasis)
In fact Rep. Harman appears to conclude that the Constitution will from this point forward forever be hostage to the necessity of a veto-proof majority in both houses of Congress, because that's what it will take to overcome the newly-minted version of the president's "inherent powers" that he has been permitted to accrue. The president can authorize anything he wants to, in the name of "national security," and the Congress will only be able to stop him by passing a law that says he's wrong, and overcoming his veto of it.
How can it be that the average pseudonymous progressive blogger or commenter (not that I consider Kagro X "average," by the way!) seems to have a better grasp of how the government is supposed to work than many of the people elected to run our country? And can we please, please, please replace Jane Harman with someone who “has a better idea?”

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Which is More Frightening?

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George Bush recently made the following, highly disturbing, statement:
"We've got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel," he said. "So I've told people that, if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon."
Dick Cheney followed a few days later, with this one:
“The Iranian regime needs to know that if it stays on its present course, the international community is prepared to impose serious consequences,” Mr. Cheney said, without specifying what those might be. “The United States joins other nations in sending a clear message: We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.”
This leads me to wonder!

If you are one of those other nations Dick Cheney says the United States is joining with, what would frighten you the most:

Iran having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon?

Or Dick Cheney having control of a whole bunch of actual nuclear weapons?

Any of our many international readers care to weigh in on that question?

Friday, October 26, 2007

If Elected, Hillary to “Give Back” Executive Power?

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Sometimes you hear something you just can’t believe, no matter how much you want to believe it:
I think I'm going to have to review everything they've done, because I've been on the receiving end of that," she said. Ms Clinton stated it was "absolutely" conceivable that, as president, she would give up executive powers in the name of constitutional principle.
I guess that’s why her recent actions seem to be enabling a “surge” of executive power – so she can eventually follow Bush’s lead by reducing executive power to “pre-surge levels” and taking credit for a reduction that really isn’t?

Just a wild-arsed guess!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Happy Islamo (Fear-Mongering-to-Promote-American) Fascism Awareness Week!

After reading and hearing Josh Marshall’s commentary on this latest goofball effort to “rock the nation with the biggest conservative campus protest ever,” I noticed there was an affiliated noontime event at San Francisco State University, featuring former TV weatherman and current right-wing talker, Brian Sussman. Wondering how, exactly, the guy known for calling Barack Obama a “Halfrican” would provide a “wake up call” for the students at SFSU, I decided to jump on MUNI and go see for myself.

I arrived a bit late to find that there was an admission charge for non-students, so I chose not to contribute to what was essentially a fundraiser for the College Republicans - particularly since I would be compelled to join what appeared to be well more than half of the audience standing in silent protest with their backs to the speaker.

Undoubtedly, those willing to pay attention to Sussman’s speech heard enough to keep them scared shitless, and convinced that the best thing America can do to improve the lot of the poor, oppressed Muslim women is to start bombing Iran! Of course, all of the Muslim women I saw in attendance appeared to have proudly taken their place as part of the protest in back of the room!

As I sat on a bench near the entrance to the hall, eating a plate of Filipino food I had purchased from a table in front of the multicultural student activity center, I did get to watch a couple of guys enter the hall looking like the quintessential College Republican dorks they obviously were. I guess somebody had to show up to provide token applause to simulate the sound of students being rocked with a wake up call!

(You’ll have to settle for this visual approximation from the archives, as the light was too poor to get a decent shot with my Treo!)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Rare Chance to Spar with a Conservative Critic!

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It’s been a while since I got to debate with a genuine conservative commenter on this site, so I can’t pass up the chance to make sure his (anonymous) voice “sees the light of day,” along with a few points in response. Here is the completely unedited comment (to my post on Al Gore):
So what is your DU name? You sound like enough of a moonbat to be from Democratic Underground. Ypu want Gore to run AGAIN? You really do like the public ridicule of backing a loser like AlGore. Yeah I know this will never see the light of day. You libs always either moderate every single word of anyone that disagrees with you or edit their post in a lame attempt to make them look silly. Oh well, Democrats are not known for being very tolerant to other beliefs anyway.
OK. Here goes:

• Al Gore is 3-0 in presidential elections where he was on the ticket, so I didn’t have to edit your reference to him as a “loser” to make you look silly!

• Not only am I not a member of Democratic Underground, I’m not even a Democrat. I rarely visit DU, and I have never posted or commented there.

• I’m completely agnostic on Gore’s potential candidacy. I’ll vote for him against any of the current GOP loonies (and without plugging my nose like I would for Hillary), but even if Gore threw his hat in the ring, I might not vote for him in the Democratic primary (which my State allows for voters without a political party) – particularly if Obama ever decides to start drinking what Chris Dodd’s been drinking!

• I completely agree with you that “libs” are not very tolerant of those who believe in discriminating against gays, brown people, non-Christians, and children who can’t afford health insurance!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

I Don’t Know if Gore Will Ever Enter the Race, But . . .

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I’ve just got to make this preemptive strike anyway, particularly considering that he is now currently leading a Democracy For America “Pulse Poll” as a write-in candidate.

Remember the lunkheads who brought us this evil bit of deception?

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Yeah, that was back in the “good old days,” when the worst thing about Al’s choice of running mates was that his name sounded like “Loserman!”

Well, if Al Gore does somehow end up as the Democratic nominee, you can bet that the same right-wing nut jobs will be looking for a way to slime Gore once again. It may be a more difficult task this time, but they will certainly seize on anything they can use to try to make him look bad.

If Al’s name rhymed with “Betray-Us,” you can bet someone would take the childish, name-calling approach to the new Nobel laureate, but I’m guessing they would again wait for him to name his running mate, who could quite likely end up being Barack Obama.

In fact, there’s already an organization formed to push the pairing as “The Dream Team,” as they sell T-shirts, buttons and bumper stickers promoting a Gore-Obama ticket. If their efforts prove to be prophetic, I can only guess what the anti-Gore psychotics will come up with to try to convince their weak-minded colleagues to fear a Gore presidency.

So I’m going to get there first:

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If I end up seeing anyone trying to make a buck selling this logo, they are liable to get a little visit from Left-Over Security! That’s right. To borrow another phrase from Bill O’Reilly, try to slime the Dream Team with a mean-spirited, ugly lie like this logo, and Left-Over’s legal team will be “comin’ to your house! WE’RE COMIN’ TO YOUR HOUSE!!”

Disclaimer: I am actually aware of the fact that I probably can’t copyright a political slogan. However, if you do end up seeing some article about how “Joe Wing-Nut” came up with such a clever slogan (shown above) that it’s selling like hotcakes at church bazaars, Klan meetings, and corporate boardrooms, please send the author my way, so I can at least prove that these idiots are as predictable as, well, Republican incompetence!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Best Daily Trivia Fun Fact Ever!

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Two nights ago, I rented and watched the movie, Death of a President, which tells the fictional story of a future assassination of GWB, and what might happen in its aftermath. It is a fascinating movie that I highly recommend. Focused primarily on the events before and after the shooting, the film is brilliantly edited to be extremely realistic without being gratuitous.

Also, it was not lost on me, as I watched the beginning of the movie, that the hypothetical date of the movie’s namesake event was today, October, 19, 2007!

I wonder if that made it into a Presidential Daily Briefing!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Republicans Hate the Sick Kids! OK, Now What?

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Conservatives like to say that the United States has the best trained military in the world. I won’t argue with that characterization, and I will certainly say that they are much better trained to deal with their predicament in Iraq - than America’s sick, uninsured kids are in dealing with their afflictions!

So, the Republicans (and 2 Dems) chose to stand behind Bush’s veto of SCHIP, heading off health insurance for a large number of lower income children, all because our Jackass-in-Chief thinks it’s too expensive to provide the sick, untrained kids with the support they need to be safe!

Clearly, then, our highly trained military can deal with any inconvenience caused by Congress heading off any funding not directly related to bringing them home from Iraq! At least as well as the sick kids Bush and the Republicans were so eager to keep from having health care, right?

At this point, Congress should simply refuse to provide any more funding without an immediate phased withdrawal, and any time Bush whines that “the Democrats don’t want to provide the money needed to keep our troops safe,” Democrats should simply ask him this question:

Who is better able to handle a necessary restriction of funding: our highly trained military, or the sick kids you just cut off from being able to get health care?

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Also posted at Daily Kos

Monday, October 15, 2007

Scariest Halloween Decoration Ever!

My neighbor just decorated for Halloween.
If this doesn't scare you - Nothing will!

Who Do You Choose to Honor?

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In the small town where I live, citizens got together and pooled a large number of small donations in order to put up a bronze statue of a local accordion player who founded a popular festival that still continues over 10 years after his death. The Festival, and the man we honored for starting it, both epitomize an eclectic, fun-loving, warm and humorous nature that, in many ways, defines the character of our town.

This is just one small, personal, example of how a decision to honor someone can speak volumes about what you stand for as a community or an organization. There are many others I could chronicle, but that is not my intention here.

The profound importance of choosing someone worthy of honor is a reason that I’m fascinated, and a little shocked, by the decision of Southern Methodist University to host the George W. Bush Presidential Library. Apparently, progress on the library is moving quickly, with the aid of some high profile Bush promoters apologists.

This is an institution of higher learning, with a stated commitment to “freedom of inquiry,” choosing to honor a President who not only doesn’t believe in science, but promotes policies detrimental to scientific knowledge and scientific research.

This is an institution touting a “focus on leadership,” choosing to honor a President who knowingly lied to start a war that has resulted in thousands of needless deaths of both American troops and Iraqi citizens, and who actively labeled those who questioned his policies as unpatriotic.

This is an institution with an open policy on “human rights,” choosing to honor a President who has deliberately eroded civil rights for Americans, and sanctioned the systematic abuse of others, in violation of some of the founding principles of our nation, and of international laws.

I didn’t really know much about SMU before – only that they were located somewhere near Dallas, TX, that their sports teams compete in the Conference USA, and that their mascot is a Mustang.

Now that I see who they are choosing to honor, I think I know how I will think of them in the future:

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Image of accordion player from Michael Amsler of the North Bay Bohemian (formerly The Independent.)

Image of SMU Tee from my demented imagination (and perhaps soon to the Left-Over On-Line Store near you, or not.)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Some Media Expert!

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For a guy who makes his living as a so-called “media critic,” Howard Kurtz seems a bit of a dunce when it comes to using the media to promote his new book, The Reality Show, which is billed as “a freewheeling, intimate account of life atop the media pyramid.”

When he appeared on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Kurtz trotted out a laughably simple-minded attempt at praising the major network news organizations for their gallant efforts (after about four years of complicit cheerleading) to buck political pressure and show the violence actually occurring in Iraq!

A more detailed critique of his arguments is found here, but I want to highlight a story he told at the end of the interview (with my emphasis to simulate his tone of voice):
Here‘s another quick example for you; CBS‘s Lara Logan, who just won an Emmy, in fact, for her tough coverage in Iraq; she was asked by her CBS boss ifs she could find some lighter stories or some more positive stories from Iraq. She was actually asked to do a piece on whether female soldiers were keeping cyber-pets online. She emailed back saying, I would rather stick needles in my eyes than spend one second of my time on that story.
You can watch the full interview below, or simply take my word that he really thought he wowed Keith’s viewers with his dramatic punch line! OK, it was a good story. I’m not sure he proved much with it, but it was a good story – certainly one that most “non-media-insiders” wouldn’t have heard, and I figured, with six books to his credit, he’s probably got a million of ‘em!.

Howard Kurtz’ new book
Howard Kurtz’ new book

So later that evening, I’m watching The Daily Show, and who turns up as a guest but Howard Kurtz? He gives a similar argument about the network news media to a skeptical John Stewart, before quickly changing the subject at the end so he can finish with a dramatic flourish that will close the deal on anyone wondering if they should run out and buy his book.

You can watch that flourish below, or simply take my word that it was the same exact Lara Logan story, practically verbatim and with the same practiced vocal inflection, that he told Keith Olbermann just a few hours earlier!

Now here’s my question: If you are presenting yourself as the Ultimate Media Insider, wouldn’t you be expected to know that many of the same people who watch Countdown would be tuning in the The Daily Show, so if you are making the rounds, you won’t get the same bang for your buck with the same “get a load of this” punch line?

Instead of looking like an “in-the-know” expert, Kurtz ended up looking like the guy who memorizes a single joke and then tells it to everyone he meets for the rest of his life no matter how many times they may have heard it . . . from him!

Any bets on whether he included the same story in his book?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Party of Closeted Homophobes

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Last week I suggested that the Democrats should put the Republicans on the spot over the Larry Craig situation by forcing them to vote on the issue of discrimination against (suspected) gay Republicans. It seemed like a perfect opportunity to both highlight Republican hypocrisy and show that the Democrats are willing to act with the empathy they accuse Republicans of lacking - toward a very confused and disturbed man!

Consequently, it was nice to see Howie Klein thinking along similar lines in this overview of the whole closeted homophobe scene that has become an enduring image of the Republican Party leading up to the 2008 elections.

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Republican Wives Club

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Is it just me, or do the spouses of all three leading Democratic candidates seem smarter and more articulate than any of the actual leading Republican candidates? And do the spouses of the four main Republican candidates seem pretty much relegated to being seen and not heard?

While the Democratic spouses are substantially engaged in the respective campaigns, we rarely hear a peep out of Cindy McCain or Ann Romney (though both were involved enough to contribute their favorite recipes to their husbands’ campaign websites!)

Meanwhile, Fred Thompson’s website barely even mentions he has a wife, named Jeri – with an “I,” but not with her own biography. Apparently, she was simply born as Fred Thompson’s wife!

And Rudy Giuliani’s wife (Number 3), aside from interrupting his campaign speeches with calls to Rudy’s cell phone, seems to be kept as far from the actual campaign as possible, perhaps because of a reputation that led her to be called “The Princess Bride” in this article from Vanity Fair. As for her background, the article notes:
It seemed that she had gone to Pennsylvania State nursing school, as The New York Times once reported, but she had not. She completed two years of nursing school, but left hospital work before a year was up.
Not surprisingly, that doesn’t stop Giuliani from puffing up her credentials on his campaign website:
In 2006, Mrs. Giuliani was awarded New York University College of Nursing ™ “Humanitarian Award” in recognition of using her nursing identity for humanitarian work and charitable endeavors as well as for being a powerful voice that enhances the visibility of nursing and elevates the profession.
Sounds like Rudy thinks Mrs. Giuliani’s “nursing identity” is something akin to Clark Kent’s “reporter identity!”

I suppose, in some ways, mate selection can be seen as a metaphor for the difference between a Democratic and Republican administration. With a Democratic administration, you get people with intellect providing competent and articulate counsel to the President. With a Republican administration, you get people who may look good in a photo op, but serve only to stroke the President’s ego (or something!)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Larry Craig: Still Guilty, Still in the Senate, and Still “Not Gay!”

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Apparently, Larry Craig is willing to take his chances that Mitch McConnell doesn’t really want an ethics investigation into the secret hidden sex lives of Republicans!

With his guilty plea to “disorderly conduct” upheld, Craig finds himself in the situation that as long as the Senate doesn’t investigate him, he really can’t be found any more guilty, and he probably can’t be any more embarrassed. So why not try to stick it out?

The Democrats should be so happy to have Craig remain as the current poster boy for Republican hypocrisy that they should, just for fun, propose legislation that would make harassing calls for resignation and job discrimination by removal from key committees based on suspected sexual orientation, qualify as hate crimes.

Of course, Larry Craig would probably vote against it!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Mitt Romney Is His Own (Not So) Secret Admirer!

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Apparently, a nice head of hair and a strong jawline aren’t as much of a campaign asset as a fat wallet when it comes to the Mitt Romney campaign! To quote T-Bogg:
Romney has discovered that Republicans don't understand the finer points of tithing and so he is dipping into his private stash to keep up the illusion, much like sending himself flowers at work, that he is desirable.
I’ve long been fascinated with the way the mega-wealthy and mega-successful Romney always seems like kind of a putz, showing no noticeable intellect or genuine charm that would explain his rapid rise up the economic ladder; and which, in turn, has enabled him to buy his way onto the political ladder!

However, I think I understand now, after reading the amazing book, “Fooled by Randomness,” which could have included Romney on its cover! The opening sentence by one reviewer captures my epiphany about Romney:
In Fooled by Randomness, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a professional trader and mathematics professor, examines what randomness means in business and in life and why human beings are so prone to mistake dumb luck for consummate skill.
In a particularly interesting observation, Taleb describes how people who consistently mistake their own good fortune for skill, while riding a wave of fortuitous circumstances and claiming credit for randomly occurring trends, tend to become prone to careless mistakes that, when fortunes change, cause them to “blow up” spectacularly!

“Burning” millions of his personal fortune on a hopeless Presidential run might not qualify as a complete blow up, but if Taleb’s theory holds, Romney is likely to attribute the loss to “bad luck,” rather than the fact that most voters don’t think he knows his ass from a hole in the ground! And, therefore, an even bigger Romney "blow up" will remain a good long-term bet!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Did James Inhofe Use the Same Loophole as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

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In his recent appearance before students at Columbia University, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad drew much laughter for his announcement that there are no gays in Iran.

My first reaction, on hearing of Ahmadinejad’s statement, was to think back to the day when Oklahoma Senator James “Global Warming is a Hoax” Inhofe made a similar boast about "the entire recorded history of his family" on the floor of the United States Senate.

Now, from the UK Guardian, we find out how it is that Ahmadinejad can make such a statement. Apparently, in addition to the fact that homosexuality is punishable by death, Iran has widespread tolerance for transsexuals, leading many gays to seek gender reassignment surgery in order to fit their leader’s characterization of the country as “having no gays.”

So I couldn’t help but to revisit the family of Senator Inhofe, and wonder if he and Ahmadinejad were using the same rhetorical trick. I’ll let you decide, based on this photo I was able to dig up from a recent Inhofe Family Reunion:

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(click to enlarge)