Saturday, March 22, 2008


Just when you think the Far Right can't get any crazier, here's Pat Buchanan on the Rev. Wright imbrolgia:

First, America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known.
Shorter Pat Buchanan: So slavery was really a good thing, because it got you here.

Kind of hard on the generations that actually lived as slaves, though, don't you think?

Clinton Derangement Syndrome, Left Edition

Apparently CDS affects your reading skills. Camp Obama (by which I mean the candidate's adherents in the Internet EchoChamber) are in a tizzy over these remarks by Bill Clinton:

It'd be a great thing if we had an election where you had two people who love this country, who were devoted to the interest of the country and people could actually ask themselves who is right on these issues instead of all this other stuff which always seems to intrude on our politics.
CampO has taken this to mean Bill was saying that his wife and Senator McCain are patriotic, and that, by omission, Barack Obama is not.

Anyone not afflicted by CDS would read this as a wistful hope that one could hold an election (between any two candidates) and assume that they both, you know, gave a shit about the country and focus on their different solutions to problems facing us. But no. It's all about dissing The Chosen One.

How is this any different from hearing Obama's comment about his grandmother being a 'typical white person' and assuming, as the crazies at Fox and Friends do, that he's making racist comments about his own grandmother?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sexism versus Racism

Kevin discovers that people are less likely to vote for a generic woman than a generic black and says "But this poll certainly suggests that racism is alive and well in America, and that misogyny is even aliver and weller," and wonders why.

It's easy, Kevin. We have successfully stigmatized public expression of racist sentiments. But misogynistic expression - "Senator Clinton, iron my shirts" - is merely cutely naughty.

Can you picture a college prankster suggesting Senator Obama carry his bags?

Baby steps...

From today's WaPo story about Bush's irrational optimism vis Iraq:

In one disputed portion of his address, Bush resurrected assertions that Osama bin Laden and his followers have played a central role in the Iraqi conflict. Bush suggested that a backlash among local Sunni Muslims to the group calling itself al-Qaeda in Iraq amounted to "the first large-scale Arab uprising against Osama bin Laden, his grim ideology and his terror network."

Many terrorism experts say there are few operational contacts between bin Laden's group and its Iraqi namesake, and they note that the group was formed only after the U.S. invasion in March 2003. Al-Qaeda in Iraq is also considered a relatively small player in the constellation of insurgent forces battling U.S. and Iraqi forces, according to military, terrorism and intelligence experts.

Of course this is on page two of the story online, but, ever looking for the pony in the pile of manure, I point out that at least it's there. In earlier times, Bush would have been permitted to concatenate any enemies he wanted to, to create whatever impression - usually 'fear' - he wished.


From WaPo, via Kevin:

One man went into a Glen Burnie, Md., Toyota dealership to buy a car, only to be told that a name check revealed he was on a U.S. Treasury Department watchlist of suspected terrorists and drug dealers. He had to be "checked for tattoos," he said, to make sure he wasn't the suspect.
Checked for tattoos to buy a car???

Polls show Amerians smart!

CNN: "More than 7 out of 10 Americans think government spending on the war in Iraq is partly responsible for the economic troubles in the United States, according to results of a recent poll."

For the weirdly sad 28% who think the two are unrelated, a thought problem.... If your waterheater breaks and floods your house and you have to pay to buy a new one AND clean up your house, that's a lot of money you don't have when you need to, say, buy stuff.

Now isn't that easy? And no math!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Just FYI

What else I've been doing.

Poor Florida

Here's what CNN's Candy Crowley said about what the party thinking is about the Florida mess:

I think one of the things is, if you listen to the party leaders, many of them at this point are saying, no matter what happens, we cannot seat delegates from Florida and Michigan that change the results in a way that turn them over.

So, in other words, if they go into this convention -- which I think is highly unlikely -- and we still don't have a nominee, I think they will find some way to work this out. But if -- let's say they go to the convention in Denver, there still isn't a nominee, there's just no way they are going to seat Florida and Michigan in a way that would change the results by -- from whoever is leading.

Did you get that? Florida and Michigan will only count if one candidate is so far ahead either way that they won't make any difference.

Will someone explain to me the difference between that and not seating the delegates at all? If you stick to 'the rules' and don't seat them at all, at least you have the cover of consistency. But only allowing the delegates in if they don't matter?

An OJ moment

While I'm a Hillary-supporter (I just don't think Obama has either the toughness to win the general or the experience for the job), I'm not one of those who thinks he should be excoriated for what his preacher says. How many birth-control-using Catholics sit in church every week without feeling the need to rear up and denounce their priest? How many Christians listen to a gay-bashing sermon who don't agree with it, but stick with the church because they're more invested in the church than in that particular preacher.

America is having one of those OJ moments, when whites discover what many blacks say and think when we're not around. What, we're shocked that their American experience isn't as wonderful as ours is? Grow up.

That said, it's not clear to me that all white Americans are ready to hear what black Americans have to say. In which case America's OJ moment may be Obama's Macaca Moment. Alas.

This explains so much...

Why lies work:

Consider, for starters, this paradox of social psychology, a problem for myth busters everywhere: repeating a claim, even if only to refute it, increases its apparent truthfulness. In 2003, the psychologist Ian Skurnik and several of his colleagues asked senior citizens to sit through a computer presentation of a series of health warnings that were randomly identified as either true or false — for example, “Aspirin destroys tooth enamel” (true) or “Corn chips contain twice as much fat as potato chips” (false). A few days later, they quizzed the seniors on what they had learned.

The psychologists expected that seniors would mistakenly remember some false statements as true. What was remarkable, though, was which claims they most often got wrong — the ones they had been exposed to multiple times. In other words, the more that researchers had stressed that a given warning was false, the more likely seniors were to eventually come to believe it was true. (College students in the study did not make the same mistakes.)

To understand this turnabout, says Norbert Schwarz, a psychologist at the University of Michigan who worked with Skurnik on the study, it helps to know how our brains suss out truth from fiction. To determine the veracity of a given statement, we often look to society’s collective assessment of it. But it is difficult to measure social consensus very precisely, and our brains rely, instead, upon a sensation of familiarity with an idea. You use a rule of thumb: if something seems familiar, you must have heard it before, and if you’ve heard it before, it must be true.

The rule obviously invites many opportunities for error. The seniors in Skurnik’s study couldn’t remember the context in which they had heard the health claims (research shows that we are quick to forget “negation tags,” like whether something is said to be false or a lie), so they relied, instead, on a vague sense of familiarity, which steered them astray. Repetition, psychologists have shown, easily tricks us. Kimberlee Weaver of Virginia Tech recently found that if one person tells you that something is true many times, you are likely to conclude that the opinion is widely held, even if no one else said a thing about it.

It all starts to make sense now, everything from the War in Iraq to Rush Limbaugh.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Paul just now notices



One measure of how crazy people on at least one side of the Democratic nomination struggle have become: I’ve gotten a number of complaints that the end of my last — entirely non-political — column, “hope is not a plan,” was a swipe at Obama.

Um, guys, it’s a phrase military types use; I started using it a lot when Iraq went pear-shaped. In fact, if you Google it, the first entry that comes up is a book about the Iraq war.

I’m sorry to say that a large part of the progressive movement seems to have lost its sanity.

Pod people. That's the only possible explanation.

What she said

Filed under 'Shut up and listen for one goddam minute, would you?' comes this from Susan Estrich - The White Elephant in the Room:

Walter Mondale picked her [Geraldine Ferraro] over Michael Dukakis (yes, he was the other choice) in 1984, because he wanted to shuffle the deck, change the dynamic, bring excitement and a sense of making history to what was already seen as a long-shot effort to unseat the very popular incumbent, Ronald Reagan.

In other words, he picked her because she was a woman. Gerald wouldn't have gotten it. Is there something wrong with that?

That doesn't mean she didn't deserve it. It doesn't mean she wasn't qualified. It just means gender matters. In her case, unlike every election before or since, it mattered in a way that resulted in a qualified woman getting the nod instead of a qualified man. And I don't think it's sexist to say that.

Geraldine Ferraro is many things -- outspoken, spontaneous, sometimes outrageous, but always courageous, loyal and loving. I adore her. But that's not my point. One thing she isn't -- I know this, and I think Barack Obama does, as well -- is racist.

I don't think she in any way meant to put Obama down by pointing to his race as an essential element of his appeal. It is an essential element of his appeal. That doesn't mean he's the affirmative action candidate. It doesn't mean he's unqualified or undeserving. Recognizing that race matters is exactly what critical race theorists have been arguing for years to those who have claimed that we can or should be colorblind. Impossible, they've said all along. Is it now racist to recognize that they're right?

We need to be able to talk about race without forcing whoever brings it up to resign from whatever honorary position they may hold. It's the white elephant in the room that you're not supposed to acknowledge, but at which everyone stares, as it grows larger due to the forced silence. Guess what? There's a white elephant in the room. Or, to be politically correct, an elephant of some color, which we will not mention. A large, colorless elephant. Is it better if we leave it at that?

And at the rate the left-est part of the blogosphere is going, it will be a red elephant in November.

Report from the 51st state

CNN's Kyra Phillips is in Iraq, apparently as part of a Happy-Fifth-Birthday-Iraq-War! thing CNN has going on. Anyway, she interviews some soldiers about the US election. No, not American soldiers, Iraqi soldiers. Let's listen in:

PHILLIPS (on camera): Is there a certain candidate in the U.S. that you're following?

AHMED MANSOUR, 6th DIVISION, ENGINEER (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): The truth is, I pay attention to the Democratic Party, even more, Hillary Clinton.


MANSOUR: Because I like her personality. Because she's new. In America, you need something new, a new female president. We saw and lived under the Republican Party, under Bush. We would like to see what the Democrats have to offer.


ALAA AHMED, INFANTRY, E.O.D. (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Elections in the USA are directly connected to the future of Iraq and the pulling of U.S. forces from Iraq. Democracy in Iraq is new. We don't know much about it. We need practice. Our stability is not easy to fix.

PHILLIPS: Do you have a favorite candidate?

AHMED: Obama.


AHMED: He's practical and he loves to serve his country.

Oh, and:
PHILLIPS: Well, Tom, just to be perfectly clear here, I did ask them, are you following any of the Republican candidates? Do you want to talk about John McCain?

Within that whole group, not one wanted a Republican in the U.S. presidential seat. They were all for a Democrat. They were all for that type of change, because, they said, looking we're living a Republican war. I thought it was interesting.

There you have it. The people speak.

An Interesting Read

In the Village Voice:

Hillary and the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy
The strange case of conservative pundits and their love for Barack Obama

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Florida Mess

The majority opinion on seating the Florida delegation seems to be "they knew the rules and they broke them", so no seats for them. Many people even feel that a revote would be unfair; inconsistent messages equals bad parenting, or something.

What I'm not hearing in the media or the blogosphere is the fact that moving the Florida primary got tacked onto a larger election reform bill, the major component of which was getting rid of the paper-less touchscreen voting machines that have become the subject of mistrust.

"Black Box Voting"? "Diebold?" "Hackable votes?" Any of this ringing a bell? Does anyone remember the hysteria of four years ago at the prospect of stealable elections? Because no one seems terribly worried about hackable voting machines in this cycle... I wonder why?

In any event, blaming the Democratic wing of the Florida legislature for voting for the bill is kind of cruel. How kind would the blogosphere have been to them if they had voted against a ballot that leaves a paper trail? I can hear the epithets now.

I'm baaaaack

So I left off blogging for a while to go do other things (Proxima was lovely, thanks), and I come back to find the left side of the blogosphere has gone stark staring mad. (See below.)

Apparently parts of the Obama camp have become so thuggish online that Pro-Clinton writers have left DailyKOS en masse. One wonders how the Obama supporters square their behavior with their Chosen One's received message?

So I'm back, to comment on the insanity. Stay tuned.

Jumping the Shark

Okay, I haven't been blogging here for a while, but that doesn't mean I'm not still reading the blogs. And today the weirdness out there just got to be too much. For instance, these separate stories from Americablog:

Hillary urging donors to blackmail DNC into stealing the election for her

I'm really getting sick of Hillary's crap. Fighting tough is welcome. Fighting dirty is not. I liked Hillary. Joe and I reached out to her campaign to help them two years ago. Now, I'm starting to wonder if even a small portion of the past vilification of the Clintons wasn't justified.


Obama quells the media frenzy over the words of his pastor

In a calm and measured way, Obama addressed the media's new found frenzy over Rev. Wright

John. Dude. What happened?