30 November 2008

S' long, Woolies (the denuding of the High Street)

I remember Woolworth’s five & dime from my childhood; they pretty much vanished from my geographic region by the 1980s, and they pretty much vanished period in the 1990s.

The United Kingdom has remained one of the last bastions of the Woolworth shop (the UK Woolworth group broke away from the US-based group in the early 1980s). "Woolies" is a consistent presence on the UK High Street, offering everything from magazines and “pic & mix” sweets to plastic goods and children’s clothing at fairly inexpensive prices.

However, due to the economic crisis, Woolies went into administration on Wednesday. Although the stores will remain open over the holiday season, unless the chain can find a buyer, 815 stores will close and tens of thousands of employees will be out of work.

Other major British retailers entering administration: PC World, MFI, and Curry's join Woolworth's. Ilva and Roseby's died in September. This means that my family's seaside town will feature a significant increase in empty High Street storefronts and deserted box stores lurking on street corners. Sadly, a significant portion of the community works in these shops, so an already depressed area will grow ever more so.

(Aside: fond memories of the ever-reliable Woolies. I bought both my last vinyl single and my last cassette single at a UK Woolworths).

Investigate First

Aryn Baker at Time looks at the risks of blaming Pakistan before a detailed investigation into the Mumbai attacks occurs.

29 November 2008

It’s That Time of Year

Who is included on Google’s “People in the News” column?

Santa Claus


“Political Advertisement”

In 1984, New York artists Antoni Muntadas and Marshall Reese started a video project, titled Presidential Advertisement, for which they’ve gathered together political commercials from the past fifty years. They re-edit their project every four years, adding fresh ads to reflect the zeitgeist and technological innovations. Muntadas and Reese’s video is now 75 minutes long (15 minutes longer than the election-2000 version). The New Yorker recently featured a column on the project, and writer John Seabrook writes,
Watching “Political Advertisement” in its entirety is a powerful but disorienting experience. Time hurtles forward with each Presidential election, but there is no clear progress on the fundamental issues. Jobs, better schools, tax relief, help for small businesses, change, peace through strength, and out-of-touch Washington insiders ebb and flow in importance. It’s morning again in America in 1984, with the Reagan ads, but soon it’s nighttime, with the darkening sky of a 1992 Ross Perot spot on the national debt. (Seabrook)

Because the ads are presented chronologically and sans commentary, the film highlights how presidential campaign rhetoric remains, essentially, unchanged. While this isn’t entirely surprising (as Seabrook suggests, political ads do shape our political discourse), it’s rather saddening to realize that for 52 years, politicians have spoken of addressing and resolving the same problems. Of course, many of these issues have been about for much longer than 52 years, but to have them presented on film underscores something akin to cultural wheel spinning. And yet…we continue to have faith in presidential candidates who do little more than echo previous candidates. What’s that word? Hope?

A Century of Levi-Strauss

Not the denim company, but the anthropologist. Claude Levi-Strauss, whose studies of myth (and a few other things) heavily influenced the social sciences and the humanities in the 20th century, turned 100 yesterday.

Motor Mouth Zawahiri

Today, Ayman al-Zahawiri announced that Al Qaeda essentially gets credit for the current financial crisis. At least we can stop blaming all those unscrupulous financial institutions and consumers living beyond their means, eh?

This follows on some similarly silly commentary; last week, al-Zahawiri claimed that Obama is nothing more than a “house negro.” The international community pretty well laughed at the man’s rhetoric, which prompted petulant Al Qaeda members to complain about the media’s pro-Obama bias.

If nothing else, the boasting over the economic mess and encouragement of racial divisions suggests that we’re looking at an anxious (and peevish) group.

Dawud Walid, an executive director for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) wrote a thoughtful letter to The Detroit News on al-Zawahiri's nonsense.

Mumbai's Battle: It’s Over

According to The International Herald Tribune, the three day siege has concluded. And more fingers point towards the LeT's responsibility. Consequentially, Pakistan is doing its best to stave off more regional instability:
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said India and Pakistan should join hands to defeat a common enemy, and urged New Delhi not to play politics over the attacks in Mumbai, Reuters reported.

"Do not bring politics into this issue," he told reporters in the Indian town of Ajmer during a four-day visit to India. "This is a collective issue. We are facing a common enemy and we should join hands to defeat the enemy."

President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan called Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India to say he was "appalled and shocked" by the attacks, Reuters reported. "Nonstate actors wanted to force upon the governments their own agenda, but they must not be allowed to succeed," he said.
Read the rest here.

28 November 2008

Mumbai Terrorists Had Getaway Plan

I’ve been wondering about the Mumbai terrorists’ not committing suicide--taking hostages and engaging in shootouts with security forces rather than blow themselves up suggests that killing themselves wasn’t part of their agreement, which is rather strange if, as alleged, the terrorists included members of LeT’s “suicide squad.”

Well apparently the men were assured no suicide was necessary: they had a getaway plan. The Times of India reports that a captured terrorist claims that,

the group had planned to sail out [of Mumbai] on Thursday. Their recruiters had even charted out the return route for them and stored it on the GPS device which they had used to navigate their way to the Mumbai shoreline..

This suggests that the terrorists were willing to undertake a mission which they knew would be very risky, but not necessarily suicidal.

Sources said that the bait of safe return must have been used by the recruiters to convince the wavering among the group to join the audacious plot against Mumbai. (ToI)

So belief in The Cause is no longer sufficient to prompt young men to kill themselves afet sacrificing countless innocents? Does a heavenly reward for self-murder no longer seem guaranteed for the recruited?

This is telling.

"Black Friday" Indeed.

Upon a Wal-Mart’s 5:00 am opening, desperate shoppers, in competition for a limited supply of cheap goods, tore doors from their hinges. Their rush into the store killed one man, a Wal-Mart worker, and injured several others.

Further, “eager shoppers streamed past emergency crews as they worked furiously to save the worker's life” (AP).

This bloody stampede is metaphoric in so many sad ways.

Added: Apparently, the "experts" have declared "fear and greed may fuel retail stampedes." Gee--you think?

Pakistani Group Behind Mumbai Attacks?

According to the Times of India, security forces have captured several Pakistani men:

Police and central security personnel have arrested at least three Pakistanis including Ajmal Amir Kamal, a resident of Faridkot near Multan in Pakistan's Punjab province. All the three belong to the suicide squad of Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Update: The Times of India now writes that '[i]n all, nine terrorists were killed while one was captured alive in "Operation Tornado" executed by the NSG alongwith the army and naval commandos and Maharashtra police." The AP reports that the captured man's name is Mohammad Ajmal Qasam. The police allege that he is a Pakistan national and affiliated with groups in that country.

Lashkar-e-Taibab is based in Pakistan and aims to end Indian rule in Kashmir. However, there is no confirmation as yet if the Pakistan group is responsible for the Mumbai carnage. There remains a significant amount of uncertainty--and rumormongering--about the attackers. Pakistan has questioned reports of its citizens' involvement, as "India [has] in the past blamed Pakistan for terrorist attacks but subsequent probes [have] shown they were carried out by 'internal groups.'" Further, according to a Times article published late Thursday, Pakistan has released an official denial:

"Pakistan played no role in the Mumbai attacks," [Pakistan's] Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar said as investigators in Maharashtra suggested that Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba could be involved in the unprecedented strike.

Aside: Again, I ask: why didn’t these men kill themselves—especially if they’re members of a suicide squad? Was there a niggle about the surety of heavenly reward?


Royal Institute of International Affairs, wonders if we’ve entered the era of “celebrity terrorism.” The anonymous Mumbai attackers have, essentially, taken over international media. Top quote:

Welcome to the age of celebrity terrorism. The invitation to the world's D-list malcontents reads as follows: no matter how corrupt your moral sense, how contorted your view of the world, how vapid and inarticulate your ideas, how talentless you are and how exaggerated your grievance; an obsessive audience will watch your every move and turn you into what you most want to be, just before your death.

One thing: why have they taken hostages rather than kill themselves? That's the usual terrorist method, isn't it?

Aside: When the news broadcasts aired CCTV photos of some of the attackers—young men in western dress, with their rucksacks and weapons—they brought school shooters (Columbine, VA Tech) to mind. I hadn't really considered school attacks as "terrorist" in the past, but Cornish’s article, I think, reinforces the link. You feel tormented, anguished, so you grab a gun to avenge your pain on innocents and to get your slice of notoriety.

Old One Ball

Ron Rosenbaum breaks down an unending urban legend and questions our near-obsession with Hitler's sex life--and how "experts" (and others) offer up Hitler's sexual preferences and abilities as reasons for his derangement. Read “Everything You Need To Know About Hitler's ‘Missing’ Testicle.”

27 November 2008

27 November, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving Day.

Aside: Jon Swift exhorts us to celebrate “the true meaning of Thanksgiving” before liberals eradicate the holiday.

26 November 2008



In a dream
I flew across the blue ink heavens,
Through the air
Passing Broome red underneath as
Garuda crossing the Indian Ocean
To India.

As the sun rose
And unsettled the grey mist on the Ganges
I sat in a boat
With rhythmic creaking oars
To the slap thud of washing clothes
On stony steps,
To the ringing bell of funeral pyres
Vultures flapping, rose petals following
In the wake of burning dead

And on into the fumed traffic
Crimson-saried women flying in the air
Scooter taxis with alto horns
Rushing through crowds and sacred cows.
Computers flashing
In canyons of glass and stone
White smoke curling, incense
Floating like the women bathing,
Combing jet black hair
While the Ganges ran down their shoulders

And in the dark of the fiery furnace
Men and women slept where they worked
Making black iron for bread.
Sweet smells of Madras
The rushing Calcutta streets
Moon shadows on flute tunes
In the temple
The four-clap beat and the hum of the drum
Dusty men sleeping on stone
And balancing women with baskets of rubble.

Rolling camels in Rajasthan
Two-humped shadows in the slipping sand
A thousand mirrored fragments
Held in the palm of my hand,
Like infinity
`And eternity in an hour'

--Michael Hyde

24 November 2008

“His Confident Smile and Kind Eyes. . .

Are an inspiration to us all.”

Seriously, the script for the Obama commemorative plate advert is hysterical. It simply oozes cheese.

Sadly, the phrase above has worked its way into household talk; e.g., “your confident smile and kind eyes inspire me to have another slice of pie.”

“His Confident Smile and Kind Eyes. . .

Are an inspiration to us all.”

Seriously, the script for the Obama commemorative plate advert is hysterical. It simply oozes cheese.

Sadly, the phrase above has worked its way into household talk; e.g., “your confident smile and kind eyes inspire me to have another slice of pie.”

22 November 2008

42 Years On, Lennon Forgiven

In 1966, John Lennon declared that The Beatles were “bigger than Jesus.” Rather than explicate the comment (why add to forty two years’ worth of explication?), let’s just note that it set off a firestorm among many Christian communities. Some eventually let go of it, but for others it’s taken 42 years.

Today, in an article celebrating Lennon and the Beatles, the semi-official Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, has forgiven the late Mr. Lennon.

A Good Sign for Higher Ed?

As with the rest of the nation, things are tough for public higher ed institutions. Spending cuts are increasing, which means that, in most cases, students suffer from overcrowded classes, insufficient class sections, inadequate resources, and so on. But there's some good news.

Earlier this week, Florida Governor Charlie Crist opted to raise the cost of in-state tuition to help cover expenses at Florida's colleges and universities (Florida's residential tuition rates have typically been set by the state legislature). Today the New York Times reports that "several of the highest-paid [university] presidents said that they would give back part of their pay or forgo their raises." Although these folks have helped generate a bit more cash for higher ed, problems remain: with the job market as it is, many folks will be heading to community colleges or four year institutions to enhance their employability. However, with the credit industry as it is, how will those folks pay for their education? Time to hear more from Obama on his plans for higher education.

Added 01/06/09: Apparently, things aren't looking so strong for the academic community. The job market is down by at least 25% according to this blogger.

Thanks, Jonathan Martin

Reading Jonathan Martin’s blog at Politico has been one of my more pleasant daily rituals, but, alas, he’s taken the “Change” meme to heart and has brought his blog to a close.


SNL's FauxBama Stays

One of the more compelling questions since the election, right up there with "should Hilary become Secretary of State?" and "should Summers' Harvard remarks disqualify from becoming Treasury Secretary?," has been "who should portray Obama on Saturday Night Live?

Fred Armisen has given it the old college try, critics argue, but, well, he kind of sucks at it. Rumors have flown that Lorne Michaels is on the lookout for a replacement Obama player. Hold!
NBC is loyal and declares that Armisen shall continue his work as fake Obama.

There you go.

On Whining About the Obama Vetting Process

People are complaining that Obama’s vetting process is too tough? Too bad.

Yes, it’s been the most rigorous cabinet compilation in history. In addition to the requisite FBI background check, Obama’s people are, “requiring prospective candidates to complete a seven-page questionnaire that requires the disclosure of nearly every last private detail. In addition to the obvious questions involving past criminal history, candidates are asked about personal diaries, past blog posts, and the financial entanglements of extended family members” (CNN).

Yes, it’s rather invasive (as David Gergen asserts), but it’s also wise. We’re talking about government employees and it’s wise to discover any questionable material prior to giving them a high profile job. Any financial conflicts of interest? Is the professional history complete and credible? Any predilection for abusing official powers for sex or money? Any history of exploiting immigrant labor? Any habits of visiting prostitutes or posting on Craig's List? Better to find out now rather than later--perhaps in the headlines of a national broadsheet or the front page of the Drudge Report.

Not A Cuddly Toy

"Yang Yang was so cute and I just wanted to cuddle him. I didn't expect he would attack" (CNN)
So said a 20 year old college student, who, forgetting that pandas are actually animals and not animatronic stuffed toys, climbed into the panda enclosure at a Chinese zoo.
Yang Yang bit the student over his arms and legs. The student has undergone surgery and will be fine.
Apparently, Yang Yang has been involved in this kind of event before. In 2006, he bit a “drunk tourist who broke into his enclosure and tried to hug him while he was asleep. The tourist retaliated by biting the bear in the back (CNN).

Tip: If a 6 ½ foot fence separates you from an animal, there’s a reason.

21 November 2008

Cancer: Still Here

Throughout his tenure, President Bush has reduced funding for cancer research regularly.

I know times are hard--very hard--but please consider donating to The American Cancer Society.

Thank you.

Obama to Nominate Clinton for Sec of State After Thanksgiving

Politico hears that sources close to President-Elect Obama confirm that he will nominate Senator Hillary Clinton as his administration's Secretary of State. The official announcement will come after Thanksgiving.

20 November 2008

A Fresh Faux Pas for Sarah Palin?

After pardoning a Wasilla turkey, per Thanksgiving tradition, Governor Sarah Palin participated in an interview with the not-so-pleasant backdrop of bloody in-progress turkey slaughter. Nice, eh?

Apparently, the interviewer asked Palin if she minded being filmed in front of the turkey-cones-of-death, and Palin replied “no worries.”

Does this reveal something sinister about Palin? No. It does, however, suggest that she doesn’t really think about how her media appearances play out. It's a curious, albeit gruesome, reminder that we've seen this kind of ineptness before (but McCain's people got the blame for that).

Here’s video, but and here's a caution: it’s pretty dang grisly.

(admission: I was going to post this as "Palin's Fowl Faux Pas," but nah.)

Scrooge and Marley? Not Fannie and Freddie

No Scrooge Mae or Marley Mac here.

Fannie and Freddie have halted foreclosures and evictions for the holiday season.

God bless 'em.

(Fear not; goodwill never overstays its welcome. Foreclosures and evictions shall begin anew as the year turns. Unless, of course, you're a financial institution or, apparently, the self-deluded head of an automaker. Then you get some leeway).


In all honesty, I'm typically not so drawn to stories about Republican Party battles/ideology, but geez—all this Conservative drama is fascinating.

Ramesh Ponnuru, a senior editor for National Review, has a fresh article in Time, “Rebooting the Right.”

Ponnuru claims that the Republican Party is “not descending into civil war. That would be too tidy. What is unfolding instead is an overlapping series of Republican civil wars, each with its own theme.” Additionally, he asserts that, “[w]hen a party suffers the kind of beating the Republicans have taken in the past two elections, the public has not rejected one of its factions. It has rejected the party as a whole.” Ouch.

Read his fine analysis here.

Utah’s Republican Governor, John Hunstman, seems to agree with Ponnuru. He's told Politico that, well, the party pretty much better get its act together and welcome the 21st century pronto.

“If we’re going to survive as a party, we need to focus on the environment,” Huntsman said. “There’s a fundamental tone deafness with our party when it comes to the environment. ... The last place we can be as a party is be viewed as the anti-science party. That’s not a model for the future.”

[moreover. . .]

He also was critical of the Bush administration’s foreign policy, and advocated for a more multilateral approach. He attributed the Republicans’ recent political struggles to the lack of an “organizing principle” to drive voters to the party — something the Cold War accomplished for decades.

And he argued the war on terror can’t fill that role.

“The war on terror can’t be the organizing principle of the Republican party,” he said. (Politico)

Lord knows they've tried to make the "war on terror" an organizing principle, but people didn't buy into it for very long (in 2004, yes. But 9/11 was still an open wound). The lack of an organizing principle manifested itself solidly in the McCain campaign as it veered from tactic to tactic rather than articulating a considered, coherent "theme," if you will.

At least Rahm Emanuel is playing nice by encouraging the GOP to submit ideas to the Obama administration. Today he met with Mitch McConnell, Eric Cantor, and Mike Pence. Further, according to The Crypt, he has “spoken to almost two dozen Republicans in the last two weeks to tell them that the new administration is serious about bipartisan cooperation” (Politico).

Some good news for GOPers, then.


"Merry Autumn"
It's all a farce,—these tales they tell
About the breezes sighing,
And moans astir o'er field and dell,
Because the year is dying.

Such principles are most absurd,—
I care not who first taught 'em;
There's nothing known to beast or bird
To make a solemn autumn.

In solemn times, when grief holds sway
With countenance distressing,
You'll note the more of black and gray
Will then be used in dressing.

Now purple tints are all around;
The sky is blue and mellow;
And e'en the grasses turn the ground
From modest green to yellow.

The seed burrs all with laughter crack
On featherweed and jimson;
And leaves that should be dressed in black
Are all decked out in crimson.

A butterfly goes winging by;
A singing bird comes after;
And Nature, all from earth to sky,
Is bubbling o'er with laughter.

The ripples wimple on the rills,
Like sparkling little lasses;
The sunlight runs along the hills,
And laughs among the grasses.

The earth is just so full of fun
It really can't contain it;
And streams of mirth so freely run
The heavens seem to rain it.

Don't talk to me of solemn days
In autumn's time of splendor,
Because the sun shows fewer rays,
And these grow slant and slender.

Why, it's the climax of the year,—
The highest time of living!—
Till naturally its bursting cheer
Just melts into thanksgiving.
--Paul Laurence Dunbar (1893)
[Sorry--I couldn't get the spacing right on this. Beginning with line two, every other line should be indented one space].

Gordon-Reed's Hemings History Wins National Book Award

Annette Gordon-Reed's The Hemingses of Monticello, a “prodigiously researched” history of Sally Hemings and her children, who were most likely fathered by Thomas Jefferson, has received the 2008 National Book Award for nonfiction.

Between this and the Obama win, I suspect that, somewhere, Paulie Abeles is seething. Or weeping.

Blog Toy

Go to Typealizer, enter a blog address, and receive an analysis of that blog.

Apparently, MP&GS falls under the category of “The Mechanics,” which Typealizer describes as:

The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generelly prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts.

The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters.

The analysis includes a breakdown of “parts of the brain that were dominant during [blog] writing."

I’m hesitant to proclaim accuracy (apparently I’m unemotional and lacking idealism), but it’s not a bad way to waste time whilst waiting for something to print/download/whatever.

19 November 2008

The FEC Goes PUMA Huntin'

Some residual pain for the "never say die" Clinton supporters.

The FEC is sending letters to PUMA pac's Darragh Murphy. It seems she’s neglected to file the “report of receipts and expenditures as required by the Federal Election Campaign Act.”

Uh oh.

The letter, available online at the FEC’s site, is dated 03 November, 2008. You can go to the FEC to review the letter, but you can review the letter and some fine supplementary commentary here.

h/t Kevin K

House GOP Opts for Conservative Leadership

You’d think that its losses in 2006 and 2008—losses brought about by the public’s dissatisfaction with the government’s role in the Terry Schiavo case, Katrina/Rita, corruption, the war(s), etc.--would have provided some food for thought. But, ah, no.

Apparently, the GOP’s leaders haven’t been paying attention to the electorate. It’s not Ronald Reagan’s base anymore. Alan I. Abramowitz, a professor of political science at Emory) has published a survey detailing the general voting population’s demographics; he concludes that “[a]s a result of changes in American society, today's electorate is very different from the electorate of twenty, thirty, or forty years ago” (Abramowitz). It seems that the GOP base (especially the Conservative base) of White, married Christians is dissolving. Members of this group “now make up less than half of all voters in the United States and less than one fifth of voters under the age of 30” (Abramowitz). And you know, there’s no indication that these numbers will increase.

So what is the GOP to do? There seem to be two options. One is to try to appeal to the people who don’t identify as White, married Christians. Unfortunately, those folks are moderate to liberal:

[i]n 2006, according to data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, 57 percent of these voters supported a woman's right to choose an abortion under any circumstances, 66 percent opposed a constitutional amendment to prohibit gay marriage, and 71 percent favored a single-payer health care system. Any attempt by Republican leaders to significantly increase their party's support among voters who are not married white Christians would therefore require changes in some of the party's longstanding policy commitments -- changes that would clearly upset a large segment of the current Republican base. (Abramowitz)

So what do Republican House members opt for? Tacking further to the right.

Today, House Republicans chose for its leadership several of the more conservative members of its caucus.

They’re planning to focus on fiscal Conservatism, which many people might happily go along with (unless, perhaps, they have some worries about further deregulations, cuts to Medicaid/Medicare, concerns that the government might not help out in critical situations [e.g., Katrina] etc. Despite this declared focus, it’s worth wondering if they’ll also remain determined to pursuing a socially conservative agenda. My guess is, well, "duh."

So here's the new lineup:

John Boehner (OH) remains Minority Leader.
Eric Cantor
(VA) becomes Minority Whip
Mike Pence (IN) becomes Conference Chairman
Democratic House members have their leadership to-do tomorrow.

David Frum, Post-NRO

As he leaves NRO, David Frum unveils his plans for a new website, NewMajority.com, which will debut shortly after the inauguration. Frum says the site will feature a variety of opinions, and they won’t be simply Conservative or Republican; as Frum explains, “they - and people like them - are the people conservatives and Republicans need.” He elaborates further:

Over the past three years, I have been engaged in some intense rethinking of my own conservatism. My fundamental political principles remain the same as ever: free markets, American leadership in the world, and intense attachment to inherited moral and cultural traditions. Yet I cannot be blind to the evidence that we have seen free markets produce some damaging and dangerous results in recent years. Or that the foreign policy I supported has not yielded the success I would have wished to see. Or that traditions must evolve if they are to endure. There are new princip[l]es too that must be included in a majority conservatism: environmental protection as a core value and an unwavering insistence upon competence and integrity in government. (Frum)

Frum's site offers the potential for being an invigorating forum; let's hope it works out for him.

HRC as SOS Within The Week? Some Think So. . .

Politico’s Mike Allen, who has a pretty good track record on these things, asserts that Hillary Clinton will probably be named as Secretary of State within the week—before Thanksgiving Day. Bill Clinton has decided to facilitate things and cooperate with the Obama people’s vetting and desisting from activities that might conflict with his wife’s work:

a friend [of the Clintons] says: “There’ll be some changes. There’ll be things that he did in the past that he won’t do now. He’s open to looking at what the Obama people think make sense. The Obama people will say, ‘Here’s what we’re comfortable with you doing.’ And President Clinton will look at it and most likely, say, ‘OK, I can do that.’ Like her, he wants the best for this country. My read of the situation is that he’s open to working something out – that everybody’s happy. It doesn’t feel to me like that’s going to be terribly difficult.” (qtd. in Allen).

So after a week of hemming and hawing. . . .there it is.

Complicating the Story of Cilivization?

This is way too cool.
German archeologist Klaus Schmidt has discovered an ancient (and I do mean ancient) temple in Turkey.

The temple, called Gobekli Tepe, is 11,000 years old. Eleven thousand. This monument was created 6,000 years before Stonehenge and, what, seven thousand years before the Pyramids?

It’s mind boggling-ly old.

The thing is, folks have known about this place for yonks. They just assumed it was a medieval cemetery.

The Smithsonian has an article on the place here.

18 November 2008

Senator Stevens and Filibusters

Senator Ted Stevens showed up at the Senate today (which kind of surprises me, what with being a convicted felon and all, but I suppose the man has to see his term through to the end. At least until he heads to the hoosgow). There’s no word if he wore his Incredible Hulk tie or not.

Today is Stevens’ birthday, and the Senate decided to postpone a hearing on whether to expel him from the GOP caucus, but it’s only postponed for a few days and, according to Jim DeMint (R-SC), “it's clear there are sufficient votes to pass the resolution" (MSNBC).

Right now, it looks as though Stevens won’t be returning to the Senate. Although ballot counting continues in Alaska, Stevens’s Democratic opponent, Mark Begich, is leading by some 2,000 votes.

Alaskan officials anticipate that all votes will be counted between 5 and 6 PDT today.

If Begich wins, that puts Democrats dangerously close to the filibuster-proof number of 60-seat majority (they’re at 57 right now). And with Lieberman (I-CT) having saved his Homeland Security chairmanship today, we might expect that he’ll continue to caucus with the Dems. Add to this Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and, well, that looks like 60 to me. Truthfully, I'm not so sure this is a good thing. I'm suspicious of one-party rule (really--how ofen does it turn out well?).

Even so, I'd love to see Al Franken win in Minnesota (although it seems unlikely).

Update: Stevens has lost his bid for re-election.

"The Year of the Woman"? Not So Much. . . .

Amanda Fortini at New York Magazine has considered how, rather than breaking misogynist stereotypes, Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin (and the media's treatment of them) might have reinforced sexist perceptions of women. Read "The Bitch and the Ditz" here.

17 November 2008

"No!" (poetry)


No sun--no moon!
No morn--no noon!
No dawn--no dusk--no proper time of day--
No sky--no earthly view--
No distance looking blue--
No road--no street--no "t'other side this way"--
No end to any Row--
No indications where the Crescents go--
No top to any steeple--
No recognitions of familiar people--
No courtesies for showing 'em--
No knowing 'em!
No traveling at all--no locomotion--
No inkling of the way--no notion--
"No go" by land or ocean--
No mail--no post--
No news from any foreign coast--
No Park, no Ring, no afternoon gentility--
No company--no nobility--
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member--
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds--

--Thomas Hood, 1844

13 November 2008

P. J. O'Rourke on the GOP

Just passing this along:
In a column titled "We Blew It," P. J. O'Rourke runs down the GOP's positions on various issues (including social conservatism and economic matters) that have led, in his opinion, to the Conservatives' recent political misfortunes. It's a biting, incisive piece, so give it a read.

12 November 2008

From TV Land to the Louvre

Awww, Wally—this is great.

Tony Dow, who played The Beav’s older brother, Wally Cleaver, in that classic of Cold War Americana, Leave it to Beaver, will soon have a sculpture on display at the Louvre.

Dow’s piece is a bronze, abstract figure of a woman holding a shield; it’s titled “Unarmed Warrior.” The work is one of three by American artists selected for the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts exhibition.

Pretty keen, no? Congrats, Wal....um...Mr. Dow.

Cue O'Reilly: The "War on Christmas," 2008

Not that Bill O'Reilly would have ever seen a cease fire in this battle created to inflame the "culture war" and to increase his ratings. Anyway, the AP reports that:
Ads proclaiming, "Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness' sake," will appear on Washington, D.C., buses starting next week and running through December. The American Humanist Association unveiled the provocative $40,000 holiday ad campaign Tuesday.
Here we go. It's not even Thanksgiving and we've heard the first salvo in 2008's Xmas war.

Nevermind that the ad's aim is to make "agnostics, atheists, and other types of non-theists" feel a little less isolated during the holiday season; you know the "keep Christ in Christmas" folks won't take this one lying down.

On "Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story"

In brief.

Last night, PBS’s Frontline featured the documentary Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story. This biography of one of the more notorious operatives in American politics presented Atwater (boogie man/boogeyman) as a blues-lovin’, geetar playin,’ good guy. On the other, he was a brutal tactician, a master of the dirty trick who produced some of the nastiest win-or-die campaign tactics that continue to be rolled out every campaign year. Push-polls? Politicians painted as effete, quiche-eatin,’ possibly mentally unsound Commie elitists with anti-American spouses? You betcha.

Atwater was also a master at race-baiting (e.g., Willie Horton): because crying “n*****” no longer worked, you have to get more “abstract” to work the “Southern Strategy.”

At 40, Lee Atwater died of cancer. At the end, he rejected his political strategies as being bad for America. He wrote in Life Magazine:

It took a deadly illness to put me eye to eye with that truth [the need for brotherhood and family], but it is a truth that the country, caught up in its ruthless ambitions and moral decay, can learn on my dime. I don't know who will lead us through the '90s, but they must be made to speak to this spiritual vacuum at the heart of American society, this tumor of the soul. (qtd. in Wikipedia's Atwater entry)

It’s pretty much conventional wisdom to say that Karl Rove was an Atwater protogee, and that Tucker Eskew (who celebrates Atwater in the film) and Steve Schmidt of the McCain campaign are Rove's protogees. They certainly drew on the Atwater playbook in their campaign against Obama. The problem is—those plays didn’t work. Will Atwater's influence begin to dissipate? I'm thinking no, not yet anyway. But, because this year’s application of the Atwater rules failed so soundly, we might be seeing that tumor starting to shrink a bit.

For a serious, thoughtful look at the origins of our contemporary political climate, the film offers rich material. So if you're a junkie and haven't seen it--see it (it's got to be landing at Netflix soon, so get it on your queue).

Aside: I don't know why, but I was surprised to discover that Atwater and George W. Bush were good friends. Go figure.

Kevin at Rumproast drew my attention to the film with his review last month. you can also take a look at the Washington Post’s film review here.

10 November 2008

Another Freakin' Poem

What can I say? Something about the weather (a damp grey gloom), and this parody of the "Cuckoo Song" just sums it up for me:

“Ancient Music”

Winter is icumen in,
Lhude sing Goddamm,
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ramm!
Sing: Goddamm.
Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,
An ague hath my ham.
Damm you; Sing: Goddamm.
Goddamm, Goddamm, 'tis why I am, Goddamm,
So 'gainst the winter's balm.
Sing goddamm, damm, sing goddamm,
Sing goddamm, sing goddamm, DAMM.

--Ezra Pound, 1915

Yup. That about sums it up.

09 November 2008

A Four Year Presidential Campaign Ahead?

Here's a cart-before-the horse story for you.

Before the Republican Party has even taken serious time to consider its future direction--to start rebuilding their party--we've got people talking up potential candidates for 2012's Republican ticket. According to Jonathan Martin's story at Politico, the names being bandied about include Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindal; Robert Novak and "other longtime Republicans around Washington" see Newt Gingrich in the running.

And we thought a two year presidential campaign was bad.

Kristof : "The War on Brains"

This morning's New York Times offers up an op-ed column by Nicholas Kristof that discusses our contemporary tendency to dismiss intellectuals. The cultural disdain for "too" deep thought prompts intellectuals to disguise their abilities to avoid being identified as a curious and complex thinker, and for others to reject any inclination to thoughtful complexity altogether. Of our presidents, he writes:

Perhaps John Kennedy was the last president who was unapologetic about his intellect and about luring the best minds to his cabinet. More recently, we’ve had some smart and well-educated presidents who scrambled to hide it. Richard Nixon was a self-loathing intellectual, and Bill Clinton camouflaged a fulgent brain behind folksy Arkansas aphorisms about hogs.

As for President Bush, he adopted anti-intellectualism as administration policy, repeatedly rejecting expertise (from Middle East experts, climate scientists and reproductive health specialists). Mr. Bush is smart in the sense of remembering facts and faces, yet I can’t think of anybody I’ve ever interviewed who appeared so uninterested in ideas.
The view that gut feelings or instinct trumps critical thinking has been about for a while, but when has it become acceptable for a president to rely on such nebulous factors to make critical decisions? Why the large-scale suspicion against people who aim to examine varying sides of an issue before arriving at a conclusion? It's Puzzling. Are we, as a nation, so frightened of complexity that we hesitate to trust it?

Mark Lilla at the Wall Street Journal (found via Sullivan) suggests that anti-intellectualism took hold about 25 years ago, when Conservative thinkers adopted Lionel Trilling's statements on the "adversary culture of intellectuals," which Lilla presents as "the left-leaning press and university establishment" of the 1970s and early 1980s. Ironically, it was Conservative intellectuals, such as Irving Kristol, who employed Trilling's phrase as they embraced populism in the mid-80s, and it caught on. Folksy "common sense" was to be trusted. Now populism has overridden Conservative thought. Lilla argues that, following the 1980s,

there grew up a new generation of conservative writers who cultivated none of their elders' intellectual virtues -- indeed, who saw themselves as counter-intellectuals. Most are well-educated and many have attended Ivy League universities [. . . .] But their function within the conservative movement is no longer to educate and ennoble a populist political tendency, it is to defend that tendency against the supposedly monolithic and uniformly hostile educated classes. They mock the advice of Nobel Prize-winning economists and praise the financial acumen of plumbers and builders. They ridicule ambassadors and diplomats while promoting jingoistic journalists who have never lived abroad and speak no foreign languages. And with the rise of shock radio and television, they have found a large, popular audience that eagerly absorbs their contempt for intellectual elites. They hoped to shape that audience, but the truth is that their audience has now shaped them.

Food for thought.
With Obama, an intellectual president, we might begin to acquire a different view of intellectuals (this, of course, depends on how Obama performs as president). If so, we'll likely see a reaction within the Conservative movement to reinvigorate or reinvent its intellectual tradition and aim to "educate and ennoble" rather than jerk knees.

07 November 2008

More Hulme

“The Embankment”
(The fantasia of a fallen gentleman on a cold, bitter night.)

Once, in finesse of fiddles found I ecstasy,
In the flash of gold heels on the hard pavement.
Now see I
That warmth's the very stuff of poesy.
Oh, God, make small
The old star-eaten blanket of the sky,
That I may fold it round me and in comfort lie.

--T. E. Hulme, 1909

Rumor Central: Obama, Emanuel, and Conflicting Conspiracies

Ben Smith headlines an item “Internet Rumor Meltdown,”in which a reader explains that a relative believes:

1) President-Elect Obama is a “closet Muslim”
2) President-Elect Obama’s white House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, “is a
top Mossad double agent.”


06 November 2008


A touch of cold in the Autumn night --
I walked abroad,
And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge
Like a red-faced farmer.
I did not stop to speak, but nodded,
And round about were the wistful stars
With white faces like town children.

--T E Hulme, 1909

05 November 2008

It's Finally Over.

The 44th President of the United States of America

Finally. It's over.

A few thoughts:
Senator McCain's speech was exceedingly gracious.
(This past week has seen McCain return to form--the "old" McCain of humor, good sense, and not a little energy. I've missed this McCain, and I hope that, as Donna Brazile suggested, that President-Elect Obama offers Senator McCain a cabinet position ).

President-Elect Obama's speech was...well, an Obama speech. I watched the results and the speeches in a crowded, noisy tavern. Many people were in tears. A young Asian-American man collapsed, weeping, in a chair beside me (okay--it was a tavern, and he might have imbibed in a few microbrews).

People bought champagne. They shouted. They applauded. They sang.

I've never seen, never experienced anything resembling this.

Perhaps more later.

Nearly 24 hours after CNN called the election for Barack Hussein Obama, Jr., it's hit me fully: we, the people--not the lobbyists, the special interests, or the political elites, but the people of the United States of America--have made history. It wasn't decided for us, we were the "deciders." Not only have we elected a biracial man to our highest office for the first time (and what can be more indicative of America's oneness than a biracial person?), but we have rejected the 1960s' lingering culture wars. A man who is actually post-Cold War. Post-Vietnam. Post "free love" and , post-politics of the Civil Rights Era. (thanks to a reader who alerted me to some vagueness about the preceding statement. It is pretty loose--my own damned fault for trying to rush on through. I intend to revise it after I get some sleep, but these might help clarify for the moment: Matt Bai’s “Post-Race: Is Obama the End of Black Politics?” and Leonard Pitts’ “Unity, Hope Must Conquer Division, Hate”).

It's Gen X's time, baby.

Aside: The world's reaction here.

04 November 2008

Just Vote. Then Party.

Did the former.

For the latter, I’m heading to watch the returns with microbrews, onion rings (and similarly nutritional items), pals, and, chances are, an excited bar full of folks.

Happy election day!

Dixville Notch Goes for Obama

It's a tradition that the New Hampshire village of Dixville Notch holds its elections (primary and general) at midnight of the polling day.

In 2008, it broke for a Democratic candidate for the first time since 1968: Obama 15, McCain 6.

03 November 2008

Penn Jillette on Bob Barr

Jillette's appeared in a video endorsing Libertarian candidate Bob Barr, and he sat down to talk with Reason's David Weigel. Read the interview it in its entirety here, but here's a snippet:
Jillette: Bob Barr is good guy. His conversion, I believe, is sincere. I believe all of that. But once in a while you want that Obama factor, of a guy who grabs your heart, like a rock star. Barr doesn’t do that for me like [Harry] Browne did. Still, you know, there’s no trait we should celebrate more than changing one’s mind.

I do wish Barr had been more in agreement with me on sex and drugs. That always bothered me a bit. I’m for gay rights, boring monogamous rights, but I’m also for two guys fucking on the floor of my office. I don’t think Barr is. Although I don’t do drugs I’m ok with shooting heroin, and I don’t think he is. Someone smarter than me—I want to say it was P.J. O’Rourke—said if you’re going to go with a Republican or a Democrat, the person isn’t important. If you go with a Libertarian, you go with a nut, because if we do win somehow the first 16 years of Libertarian rule will be spent at the barricades, just rolling back stuff. (Jillette qtd. in Weigel).
You don't expect Mr. Jillette to be less than perfectly blunt, do you? After all, his Showtime series is titled (and targets) Bullshit. The show is well worth your time--unless you're highly invested in sacred cows (and easily offended).

“Toot” Dunham, 1922-2008

Senator Obama’s grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, passed today at age 86.

Condolences to the Senator, his sister Maya, Mrs. Dunham’s brother, and their families.

Things I Spotted Today

The day before General Election 2008"

In a coffee shop (not Starbucks), counter servers asked each and every customer “get your ballot in”?

Saw some possible illegality going on: someone posted numerous fliers endorsing a local candidate all over restrooms in a state-owned building (I’m positive “them in charge” were unaware—the institution's president has endorsed above candidate’s opposition).

Saw several university employees sporting campaign buttons while on-the-job.

People are wound up; they're invested in this election.

Another Endorsement for BHO

Sullivan's Obama endorsement here.

Politico: Top Ten Campaign Season Videos

Loads of similar lists are appearing all over; here's Politico's. "Yes We Can" tops it.

More Campaign "Joe"

Starbucks will be nice to you if you vote tomorrow. From the company’s website:

It will work like this: After you vote Tuesday (11/4), head to your local US Starbucks and we’ll give you a FREE tall (12 oz) cup of brewed coffee at no charge (limit one per customer). If you live in an area without voting proof, then we'll use the honor system.

There you go.

Pitts: "Unity, Hope Must Conquer Division, Hate"

Take a minute to read Leonard Pitts's column. It's an evocative meditation on this election cycle and the possible end (at least a draw down) of the 1960s culture war that never ended.
Pitts writes,
when I consider the four presidential campaigns preceeding this one, it's hard not to regard them as an extended debate over that era. Those campaigns, after all, turned largely on questions of drug use, feminism, Vietnam, draft dodging, anti-war protests and other issues Richard Nixon or Hubert Humphrey would have found instantly recognizable.

I'm reminded how a young man told me a few years ago that he loathed Bill Clinton because the former president was -- and I quote -- ''a hippie.'' I was floored. Love Clinton or loathe him, that is, putting it mildly, an unlikely description of a man who spent the hippie era as a Rhodes Scholar and Yale University student of law.

But it makes sense if you buy the premise that we have been re-litigating the '60s here, seeking a balance of values between the freedom some of us won and the ''good old days'' others of us lost, between the whispered promise of change and the shouted, strident threat.

Indeed, if you buy the premise, then John McCain's recent attempts to conflate Obama with William Ayers are hardly surprising.

Whatever you think of the '60s, though, one thing is undeniable: They tore us apart, ripped American society to pieces and threw those pieces in the air so they rained down like confetti, falling into new configurations, nothing where it used to be. It was an angry time, those who found stability -- identity -- in the old configurations fighting those intoxicated by the possibilities of the new.

Which is why some regarded the presidential candidacy of Robert F. Kennedy with such ineffable hope. His was a promise to reconcile the shredded pieces, to make them -- make us -- whole again. Then he walked through that hotel kitchen, and we lost everything that might have been.

Forty years later, we are still angry, still sifting through confetti pieces, trying to find a way to make them whole. And here comes Barack Obama wanting to be president.

He has an economic plan, sure. He has a healthcare plan, yes. He has a promise to end the war in Iraq, fine.

Those are important matters, certainly. But when I look at this guy and reflect on the hate I see in my country, the lack of purpose I see in my country, the division and fear I see in my country, those concerns feel distinctly secondary.

You know what I hope Barack Obama is? I hope he is reconciliation -- the end of the 1960s at long last. And the beginning of something new.

As someone born in the 1960s and raised in its aftermath, I agree with Mr. Pitts. And once again, we arrive back at "the intangibles"--hope, promise, and opportunity. These elements don't substitute for policy, but they complement policy and offer us a chance to re-envision ourselves--to leave the events of 40 years ago, and its resulting polarization, behind.

02 November 2008

McCain & Obama: Their Positions, Side-by-Side

The Detroit Free Press has a handy-dandy voter's guide: a chart comparing where McCain and Obama stand on key issues. Check it out if you're still unclear about policy differences (for example, tax cuts and clean coal).

Plumbing the Depths

I’ve not really commented on the "Joe the Plumber" newsiness because a) he had every right to question Obama, b) McCain had every right to draw on “Joe” and Obama’s meeting, and c) the media had no right to expose “Joe’s” private information on such a wide scale.
“Joe the Plumber” (Samuel. J. Wurzelbacher) has embraced his status as public citizen. He's appeared regularly on television to expound on his political views, which means, unfortunately, that he’s gone from symbolizing the plight of blue-collar Americans to symbolizing the “Obama is anti-Semitic and un-American” paranoia that’s out there (with a dash of racism thrown in).

First of all, in a telephone interview with CBS News he said that Obama "‘tap dance[d] ... almost as good as Sammy Davis Jr.’ in their conversation.” (qtd. in Weiner). Rather a loaded comparison, but okay. Maybe it was a "whoops!"

Secondly, when he endorsed Senator McCain, he eagerly agreed to a bystander’s assertion that an Obama presidency would result in the death of Israel. The next day, Wurzelbacher appeared on Fox News with Shepard Smith, and:
[f]or five painful live-on-Fox minutes [. . .] Mr. Smith repeatedly asked Mr. Wurzelbacher what evidence he had to back up that charge. Mr. Wurzelbacher refused to answer. He said it was up to Mr. Smith’s viewers to figure out why he, Joe the Plumber, thought Mr. Obama was a menace to Israel.

Looking incredulous, Mr. Smith gave up. He read a statement from the McCain campaign praising the plumber’s “penetrating and clear analysis.”

Then Mr. Smith said: “I just want to make this 100 percent perfectly clear. Barack Obama has said repeatedly and demonstrated repeatedly that Israel will always be a friend of the United States no matter what happens once he becomes president of the United States. His words.”

“The rest of it,” he said, “man, it just gets frightening sometimes.” (qtd. in NYT).
Finally, Mr. Wurzelbacher has returned to the “Obama is a traitor” meme so recently exploited by Governor Palin (and some excited crowds). He claimed on Fox News today that “people shouldn't vote for Obama because he doubts Obama's ‘loyalty to America’ (see video at TPM):

"McCain has fought and bled for our country, loves our country," said Joe Wurzelbacher, aka "Joe the Plumber," who has campaigned throughout Ohio with and on behalf of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. "There's too many questions with Barack Obama and his loyalty to our country. And I question that greatly."

Fox News' Neil Cavuto tried to clarify: "You're not doubting that he's a good American. Or you are?"

"His ideology is completely different from what democracy stands for," said Wurzelbacher (qtd. in Tapper).

So much for “penetrating and clear analysis”by Senator McCain's "role model."

Just a few weeks ago Senator McCain was negating this kind of rhetoric when espoused by supporters in his town halls (a rhetoric that probably contributed to his decision to discontinue the town hall format). It’s unfortunate that McCain’s representative for “the everyman,” someone who, as Josh Marshall asserts, is now a “McCain campaign surrogate,” has chosen to revisit this line of character assassination to present Barack Obama as a "traitor."

Chuck Todd's Election Guide

An election-night preview by NBC's political director: "Decoding Election Day, State-by-State"

Jonathan Curley on the Intangibles

Jonathan Curley, a banker from North Carolina, voted for George H.W. Bush twice and George W. Bush once. He’s a middle aged white man, and his son is in the military. Curley says that if Obama wins, “I'm definitely going to get a bigger tax bill” (CSM).
At his wife’s suggestion, Curley spent a Saturday canvassing for Senator Obama. He’s written about his experiences at the Christian Science Monitor. His conclusion? Of his experiment in political participation, he says “I don't know what [canvassing is] going to do for the Obama campaign, but it's doing a lot for me.” He writes,

I learned in just those three hours [of canvassing] that this election is not about what we think of as the "big things."
It's not about taxes. I'm pretty sure mine are going to go up no matter who is elected.
It's not about foreign policy. I think we'll figure out a way to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan no matter which party controls the White House, mostly because the people who live there don't want us there anymore.
I don't see either of the candidates as having all the answers.
I've learned that this election is about the heart of America. It's about the young people who are losing hope and the old people who have been forgotten. It's about those who have worked all their lives and never fully realized the promise of America, but see that promise for their grandchildren in Barack Obama. The poor see a chance, when they often have few. I saw hope in the eyes and faces in those doorways. (CSM)
Hope, opportunity, and promise: intangibles that could be the true value of this election. Do take a look at Mr. Curley's story--it's a welcome piece in these last few days of bitter politicking (e.g., a woman refusing Halloween candy to children whose parents support Obama).

Will the Dems Control All? Not Gonna Happen

Yes, the GOP has been vocalizing concerns about Democrats controlling the White House and Capitol Hill for a bit now. Most recently, this:

In a weekend fundraising letter, John McCain says giving the Obama-Biden Democrats free rein could turn the country "from the land of opportunity into the land of government handouts."

Republican candidates in general argue that this is a time when checks and balances are most needed. They say giving Democrats the White House and Congress would mean unfettered freedom to raise taxes and expand government.

Of course, Republicans weren't voicing many complaints when they controlled the House and Senate during President Bush's first term. In all, 34 presidents have done business at some point with a Congress controlled by his own party. (The Guardian)

There's no doubt that the Democrats will pick up several seats in the House and Senate this Tuesday, but a filibuster-proof majority? Nope. Even Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who heads up the Senate Democratic campaign committee sees a majority as highly unlikely because "many of the 11 contested Senate races where Republicans are vulnerable are traditionally Republican. None are traditionally Democratic" (Reuters).

There might be a consensus to "throw the bums out," but we all know that typically means all the "other" bums, not the ones from our districts.

A Barrage of Last Minute, Dirty Tricks

Deborah Hastings's article for AP offers the lowdown on last minute attempts to discourage, mislead, or intimidate voters. This example is among the worst:
In New Mexico two Hispanic women filed a lawsuit last week claiming they were harassed by a private investigator working for a Republican lawyer who came to their homes and threatened to call immigration authorities, even though they are U.S. citizens.

"He was questioning her status, saying that he needed to see her papers and documents to show that she was a U.S. citizen and was a legitimate voter," said Guadalupe Bojorquez, speaking on behalf of her mother, Dora Escobedo, a 67-year-old Albuquerque resident who speaks only Spanish. "He totally, totally scared the heck out of her." (AP)

Particularly nasty. Of course, there's also the emails, the robocalls, and the usual fliers that seem to be official, and which aim to limit voter turnout (e.g., "to limit long lines, Republicans vote on Nov 2, Democrats on Nov 3," "anyone with a criminal record and who attempts to vote will be arrested").

These tricks will, most likely, only intensify over the next 48 hours. From Hastings's report:

Oh, there's plenty of time for things to get ugly," said Zachary Stalberg, president of The Committee of Seventy, a Philadelphia-based government watchdog group that is nonpartisan.

So there you go.

Extortion or Equality?

Consider the current fight over California's Proposition 8 ("yes" to eliminate same sex marriage, "no" to support same sex marriage), which seems to include an attempt to blackmail businesses that have donated funds to a California gay rights group:
Leaders of the campaign to outlaw same-sex marriage in California are warning businesses that have given money to the state's largest gay rights group they will be publicly identified as opponents of traditional unions unless they contribute to the gay marriage ban, too. (AP)
Pretty ugly, no?

Now read Andrew Sullivan's short essay, "Why Marriage Matters."

Pretty appealing, yes?

He's Going "Double Maverick"

Senator McCain's turn on Saturday Night Live was hysterical. The man's gift for comedy--his timing--is substantial. Watch these:
McCain and Palin (Fey) on QVC (McCain fine gold! awesome)
McCain considers going "double maverick" on Weekend Update

(aside: did audience members really have to "boo"McCain? Sure, it was only a few people, but still...good grief).

The SNL appearance turns out to have been timely. Earlier in the day Vice President Cheney endorsed Senator McCain; considering the Vice President's approval ratings, his support can hardly be a boon for Senator McCain. Does the Arizona Senator really want people to be reminded of his popularity with the Bush administration? Hardly.

Sure enough, Mr. Cheney's endorsement has already made its way into an Obama campaign ad.

Christian Science Monitor headline: "Obama's Got Powell, but McCain has Cheney." Kind of says it all, no?

"The Man for the Moment" by Hillary Clinton

Senator Clinton offers a fairly strong editorial in support of Barack Obama in The New York Daily News.

Wherever I travel around New York and the country campaigning for Obama and Biden and other Democratic candidates, I hear people asking "Who are you for?" But the more important question is, "Who is for you?"

Obama has proposed a tax cut for 95% of people earning a paycheck. He'll fight for equal pay for equal work. He'll protect Social Security. And Obama will promote policies that reflect the way parents are working and living today, including child care, long term care, and a stronger Family and Medical Leave Act.

Obama will invest new jobs in clean energy, manufacturing and infrastructure. And he'll fight for universal health care. I can't wait to stand on the South Lawn of the White House when President Obama signs into law health care for every American - no exception, no excuses.

There's nothing new here, but she does present a fairly strong case for the Illinois Senator.
Clinton's renewed call for Obama-support could neutralize the current crop of robocalls now playing in swing states, which consist of an Obama-critical clip from Senator Clinton during a primary season debate.

01 November 2008

Trick or Treat? What a Way to Help Your Candidate

This Halloween story is simply gobsmacking.

Shirley Nagel of Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich., handed out candy Friday only to those who shared her support for the Republican presidential candidate and his running mate Sarah Palin. Others were turned away empty-handed.

TV station WJBK says a sign outside Nagel's house warned: "No handouts for Obama supporters, liars, tricksters or kids of supporters."

Nagel calls Democrat Barack Obama "scary." When asked about children who were turned away empty-handed and crying, she said: "Oh well. Everybody has a choice." (AP)

I can understand her frustration with adults who support Barack Obama, but the kids? I'm seriously hoping that this is Nagel was just trying to prank the media, and that she's not truly this meanspirited.
h/t YTD

The Obamacons (A Partial List)

Some call them "Obamacons." Charles Krauthammer says they’re wet-fingered wimps who follow the wind. Others sneer at them as cocktail party elitists. Some address them as apostates. Whatever you choose to call them, a heady list of Republicans and Conservatives have chosen to endorse Senator Obama. Some of these folks are famous, some not so, but it’s fairly impressive lineup so far.

Here’s a partial list of "Obamacons." You might note how many have been associated with Ronald Reagan and his administration.

Wick Allison, former publisher for The National Review

Ken Adelman, All around foreign policy heavyweight.

Bruce Bartlett, domestic policy advisor to Ronald Reagan; treasury official for George H.W. Bush’s administration.

Fred Bramante, former member of John McCain’s New Hampshire Leadership Committee

Christopher Buckley

Nicholas P. Cafardi, Legal scholar (pro-life, staunchly Catholic)

Arne Carlson, Former Minnesota Governor

Lincoln Chafee, Senator for Rhode Island

Daniel Drezner, Libertarian/Conservative, Professor of political science at the University of Chicago.

Ken Duberstein, Ronald Reagan’s Chief of Staff.

Susan Eisenhower, Ike’s granddaughter and a business consultant

Charles Fried, Solicitor General of the USA under Ronald Reagan (and, until recently, McCain campaign advisor)

Francis Fukuyama, author of The End of History and the Last Man, advisor to the Reagan administration, and early member of PNAC,

Wayne Gilchrest, Maryland Congressman

C C Goldwater and Alison Goldwater Ross, granddaughters of Barry Goldwater

Lilibet Hagel, wife of Senator Chuck Hagel.

Jeffrey Hart, speechwriter for Nixon and Reagan, founder of The Dartmouth Review, and former reviewer for The National Review.

Christopher Hitchens (well, Hitch isn’t really a Conservative; I include him here as he’s been a full-throated supporter of President Bush and the War on Terror)

Linwood Holton, former Virginia governor (the first Republican governor since Reconstruction)

Larry Hunter, worked in Reagan White House; former chief economist at U.S. Chamber of Commerce ; helped write the Republican Contract with America/.

Douglas Kmiec, served as head of the Office of Legal Counsel (U.S. Assistant Attorney General) for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

David Kuo, former Special Assistant to President George W. Bush and Deputy Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

James Leach, former Iowa Congressman and House Banking Committee Chair

Charles McC. Mathias, Jr., former US Representative / Senator for Maryland

Scott McClellan

Scott McConnell, , editor of American Conservative.

Colin Powell, former Secretary of State

Larry Pressler, former Senator for North Dakota

Richard Riordan, for mayor of Los Angeles

Bill Ruckelshaus, official under Nixon and Regan administrations

Delbert Spurlock, Assistant Secretary to the Army under Ronald Reagan

Lowell Weicker, former Senator, Governor, for Connecticut

William Weld, former Massachusetts governor.

Jim Whitaker, Alaska legislator and mayor of Fairbanks North Star Borough

Ronald T. Wilcox, Professor of Business Administration at the University of Virginia

Others might be added as-and-when.

Studs Terkel, 1912-2008

"Take it easy, but take it."