Thursday, December 25, 2008

Round John Virgin

I wanted a screamer or a moaner, but I only got a sweater.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Our Little Prodigy

Here's Sebastian (aka "Sammy," son of Tony, son of Jude) rocking on the drums. Just turned four, this little thumper. Seriously, he's like the Tiger Woods of the drum set. He's been playing since he was a little kid.

Sammy on Drums

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bold Prediction:

Palin drops out of the race --possibly during tonight's debate-- and, to replace her, out walks (wait for it): Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Mark it, Dude. Extra credit if anybody throws a folding chair.

;-) !!!UPDATE!!! ;-)
Didn't happen. YET.

Favorite quote:

"We've let these other countries pollute more than America would even stand for ..."

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

I thought the October Surprise would be Osama Bin Laden's head on a stake, or Israel's U.S.-backed invasion of Iran, but that just shows that I allowed myself to be distracted by old battles.

Remember how the Patriot Act and the Iraq invasion were rushed through Congress, each under a grave and gathering threat? Well, now it looks like the entire U.S. economy may be delivered to one single man, Henry Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs.

Al Qaeda and the NeoCons seek the same path, though toward different ends. One is a foreign enemy, the other is domestic. For both, bankrupting the current U.S. system is required to make way for a replacement ideology. Bin Laden's approach is to repeat the fall of the Soviet Union; draw the U.S. into unsustainable military conflict. The NeoCons' route is to infiltrate and destroy from within, or at least reduce the treasury to the point that the government can be drowned in a bathtub. Next step: rationalize that all the New Deal social programs, including Social Security and the "alphabet soup of agencies" the FDIC, SEC, and FHA, plus the highway system and public schools -- all must go (i.e. be privatized) because there's no money to fund them.

It's depressing and debilitating, but I still think it's important to concentrate on electing Obama and unseating as many Republicans as possible, if only on the off chance they'll rally the People to fight for these institutions as they're challenged. And tomorrow morning instead of doing my job, I'm going to call my reps and try to direct their attention to the alternate ideas listed in this WaPo article.

In its present form, the economic "rescue" proposal gives Paulson completely unchecked power to spend unlimited money. (You thought there was a $700B limit? There isn't; it's $700B at a time.) It allows him to buy and sell crummy assets at any price he decides is OK. He can buy them for sixty cents on the dollar and sell them for twenty cents on the dollar. The decisions he makes will be non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion; that's non-reviewable even by any court of law or any administrative agency. No checks and balances. Where have we heard this song before?

So, the October surprise is that the Congress no longer controls the budget, and the presidency is irrelevant. The NeoCons don't need to keep the White House or the Congress because they've heisted the entire economy. To quote Oliver North: "neat idea."

Somebody tell a joke.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Is the Meadow on Fire?


I personally believe, Charlie, that U.S. Americans are able to preemptively, uh, some people out there in our nation don't hunt moose and, uh, I believe that our, uh, energy like such as in, uh, Russia and, uh, the Iraq and everywhere like such as, and I believe that we should, uh, 20% of our energy over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, should be able to attack Russia and should attack Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future. For our children. Charlie.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Knock Knock

Who's there?


Nine-Eleven who?

You said you'd never forget!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

All Your Bad Debt Are Belong To Us


The headlines say the US government "seized" Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and, if you bother to read the story, you find that We The People have adopted another budget catastrophe whose cost is on par with the US government's seizure of Iraq. It's quite a Fannie we've seized. But the government didn't actually seize the two companies; they're publicly-traded in good times, but only government-seized in bad. As soon as they're profitable again the shareholders will regain control. Maybe Fannie and Freddie will buy a big Thank You ad for the back of next year's Form 1040 Instruction booklet. This temporary seizure relationship is politely called a "conservatorship." It's fear-based socialism, like when your parents pay for your rehab and cover your bills and mow your lawn while you're in recovery because they're afraid you'll stab them in their sleep if they let you move back home.

But, since that story is all about big numbers that nobody can even imagine, let's talk about little missing Caylee's awful mother instead. I heard that she relied on her parents to watch little Caylee while she'd be out drinking and fucking. Can you believe the nerve? Really, I blame the parents.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Goodnight, Gracie!


Well that didn't take long. The Republican ticket of Burns and Allen is already in hot water.

Turns out Alaska Governor Palin is under investigation for abuse of power. Oh, and don't worry: it's unseemly!

The story goes, she fired Alaska's Public Safety Commissioner because he refused to fire a State Trooper she wanted axed.
What's that? You want to know why she wanted the State Trooper axed? Well, because he was in a bitter child custody battle at the time with the Governor's sister, Molly. Family's gotta come first!

She could even face impeachment over the matter. Who's doing the vetting over there at the McCain campaign?

Oh well, if he has to drop Palin from the ticket he can still go with Harriet Myers.

Well, well, Gracie, that's pretty shocking! In light of this potential scandal, do you think McCain will keep Palin?

Why George, if McCain keeps palin' he's likely to disappear altogether!


Roister doister, it's been a busy weekend for Governor Palin! I can't keep up, but here's a screenshot:

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Vulgar Exclamation!

I'm clicking around during the Convention (nice job, drummer for Will.I.Am and John Legend!) and I see this tag:

McCain's Prickly TIME Interview

It was a weird interview on McCain's (wife's) plane where he behaved really strangely. Couple highlights:

[Your] campaign today is more disciplined, more traditional, more aggressive. From your point of view, why the change?
I will do as much as we possibly can do to provide as much access to the press as possible.

But beyond the press, sir, just in terms of ...
I think we're running a fine campaign, and this is where we are.

Do you miss the old way of doing it?
I don't know what you're talking about.

Really? Come on, Senator.
I'll provide as much access as possible ...

In 2000, after the primaries, you went back to South Carolina to talk about what you felt was a mistake you had made on the Confederate flag. Is there anything so far about this campaign that you wish you could take back or you might revisit when it's over?
[Does not answer.]

Do I know you? [Says with a laugh.]
[Long pause.] I'm very happy with the way our campaign has been conducted, and I am very pleased and humbled to have the nomination of the Republican Party.

You do acknowledge there was a change in the campaign, in the way you had run the campaign?
[Shakes his head.]

You don't acknowledge that? O.K., when your aides came to you and you decided, having been attacked by Barack Obama, to run some of those ads, was there a debate?
The campaign responded as planned.

So OK. Then I find this article from the BBC:


This is alarming. Take your time -- go read the article. McCain's top, A-number-one foreign policy advisor -- a guy named Randall Scheunemann -- is a paid lobbyist to McCain on behalf of the country of Georgia. You already know that, right? Today, though, check this: Putin is saying that the U.S. worked with Georgia to provoke the Russians into a conflict in order to impact the U.S. election. He's saying the U.S. trained Georgian troops, both in Georgia and in Iraq, then flew the Iraq-based Georgian troops on U.S. planes back to Georgia during the Russian invasion, and provided U.S. boots on the ground to actually participate in the combat. This is a very grave charge and it's got a real ring of truth to it.

Remember during the height of the Russo-Georgian conflict, the Georgian president was calling on John McCain to "move from words to deeds"? I remember wondering why he was calling out McCain instead of Bush. Did he really expect a candidate for president to be able to send troops and, even if he could, why would he want to go to war with Russia just for Georgia? But now I think McCain's man Scheunemann must have promised Georgia that McCain would fly in and make a big deal out of it if/when Russia responded to Georgia's provocation, and Georgia would get South Ossetia back in the process. Georgia would also have an indebted friend in the White House if McCain won the presidency.

Did you read the article? You didn't? OK, at least read this quote from Putin:

"We have serious reasons to believe that American citizens were right at the heart of the military action," Putin said.

If it is true, then
  1. the Republicans, including both McCain and the Bush administration, actually started a war between two sovereign countries solely to manipulate the American electorate. Does it get any more cynical?
  2. yes, it could get more cynical. Because Putin's Russia responded so much more strongly than Georgia (and, allegedly, the U.S. Republicans) expected, Georgia got crushed and McCain didn't have a chance to step in and show American voters his strong yet diplomatic side. Therefore
  3. my grave concern is that those same Rovian Republicans will try again -- this time with something more manageable, like a terrorist attack within the U.S..
  4. if there is an attack in the U.S., it's easy to imagine the Bush administration taking some pretty drastic measures in response to the catastrophic emergency.

Convention Just Got Better Than The Olympics

I know Bill Clinton reads a lot, but I had no idea he reads my blog. His speech last night did many of the things that Hillary's failed to do. In particular, he referred to Barack Obama the man, not Obama the agenda.

Just an aside: I noticed during Bill's speech that Hillary, Michelle, Jill Biden and even Mama Biden all wore blue dresses last night. And I thought, "Well
that's a strong show of support for Bill." It reminded me of my brother's post the other day about how Jackie Robinson's teammates all wore his number as a show of solidarity. Blue dresses for Bill. Funny.

Anyway, he gave a great speech and he wore a very expensive tie that wasn't orange. So. I don't know. I just couldn't help thinking as I listened that Bill's main objective was just to give a better speech than Hillary. But I can't really prove that. Favorite line:

"People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power."

Now, Beau Biden? That was a heartfelt introduction of his Dad. I was crying (I love you, Dad!). Just watch it, that's all.

Joe Biden also did a great job. At one point, though, he told about how his mother made him go back outside and at least bloody the nose of a bully who'd attacked him so he'd be able to walk down the street after that. Great American stuff! Except, I thought, that's probably the same thing the Iraqi insurgents tell one another while they're placing their IEDs along the road, and we're the bully. Anyway, he sold it.

Also, since the Fourth Amendment and Habeus Corpus still haven't been seen or heard from at the Democratic National Convinfomercial, I'll go ahead and mention them here:

Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Writ of Habeus Corpus
(Latin: [We command] that you have the body) is the name of a legal action, or writ, through which a person can seek relief from unlawful detention of himself or another person. The writ of habeus corpus has historically --since the 12th century-- been an import
ant instrument for the safeguarding of individual freedom against arbitrary state action. Also known as "The Great Writ," it's a summons with the force of a court order addressed to the custodian (such as a prison official) demanding that a prisoner be brought before the court, together with proof of the custodian's authority, so the court can decide whether the prisoner is being legally held or, if not, that the person should be released.

Now, the FIRST Amendment has been seen, but it was bleeding in a gutter trying to wash the pepper spray from its eyes. Here's that old favorite amendment for anybody who'd like to sing along:

First Amendment to the US Constitution
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or of the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

And for dessert, why not? My personal favorite:


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

More Substance Abuse


Oh, Fox. Someday your overt propaganda will all be subtle, and we'll so miss these screen shots. This is the kind of thing that explains why somebody stuck a dollar bill in a Faux News vj's bra during a live segment from the DNC. Enjoy:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Convention Needs More Beach Volleyball.

Here are my thoughts on the Hillary speech: I found it tepid.

I thought Hillary should have shown John McCain's "Passed Over" ad claiming that Clinton backers had been betrayed by Obama -- she should have grabbed a stool and a water bottle and watched it on the jumbo-tron with the audience. Then she should have stood back at the podium shaking her head (her signature move) and said, "What a load of crap. Aren't you a little tired of this cheap manipulation? This is like Monica trying to win Bill by telling me he's a cheater." That would have made some headlines. Why don't they listen to me?

Regarding the most substantive issue of the evening, I hated the pant suit (who likes a pant suit?) but I liked the necklace. Hey, how come the women of cable news have stopped wearing necklaces now? Notice that? It's curious. Michelle Obama's beautiful outfits last night and tonight were a striking contrast to Hillary, who seemed to be purposely emphasizing her frumpiness and her ... orangeness. I really cringed at her line about the "sisterhood of the travelling pant suit." What's with all the little insider gal-pal talk? Maggie Thatcher would never have done that. And Obama's not all, "where my niggas at -- what-what?"

She took a couple of pointed but collegial jabs at McCain, but she didn't say anything positive about her candidate's character. She didn't say he's a nice guy or funny or that his kids are cute or that he talks good or anything remotely personal. I thought that was a little bit of cold broth, right there.

Finally, I thought she should have mentioned Ted Kennedy as a hero and promised to emulate him. With that framing, she could have outlined each of her favorite initiatives, followed by "let's make sure over the next four years that President Obama hears plenty from us about getting that one handled."

Oh, and you know what would be really nice? If somebody would step up to the mic and mention torture, civil liberties, even our occupation of Iraq for pete's sake. No, it's been all nice, nice, "We're no threat! We're not leftists! We're just like you. Just good moms and sisters and midwesterners and corporate whores." So far, this convention has been like a birthday party for a retarded princess.

By the way, here's a great video of convention Democrats calling the cops on liberal journalists with full media passes just for asking their names as they walk into a super-secret soiree thrown for them by now-immune AT&T.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Megan Calls the Cops On Our Yard Gnome

This morning Jude's cell phone rang at about 3:15. It woke me up, but it was in the other room so I ignored it. "If somebody's dead," I thought, "they'll still be dead at sunrise." But then my cell phone rang. I wasn't out of bed quick enough to answer, but that call did get me vertical to go listen to the message. It was Megan, next door.

"I heard a loud bang over there and I can see some guy in your yard," she said.

Bravely, boldly, I peeked through an eensy weensy crack in our living room curtain. I could see a supine body in the yard, its bare feet twitching, and on the porch I could see an ammo belt with about 50 bullets. I thought, "Is this guy shot?" Fortunately I didn't have to learn whether I had enough nerve to go out and check on him myself, because a police cruiser pulled up and shone his spotlight on the guy. I'd say he was about 28, blondish, and dressed to party with some loud Loverboy tunes and a whole lot of Miller High Life.

I went out onto the porch and said, "Officer, there's some ammo up here on the porch."

"I think that's probably Mr. Hardcore's belt," he answered, indicating the splendor on the grass, "since it goes so well with his boots."

The guy was a rocker, still wearing his rocker gear from a night of hard drinking. I'm no CSI officer, but the perp left a pretty clear trail of destruction marking his recent activity. He'd apparently decided to take a little napsky on our porch bench; he'd begun to disrobe there, knocked over Jude's planter and beat a hasty retreat to the yard, where our lush lawn was too inviting to pass up. Off came his black and chrome boots, his badass jean jacket, his badass black bandanna with skull pattern, and down goes Lightweight Larry.

The cop roused him with, "Hey! Hey, do you know where you are?"

"No. Yes. I'm right here. None of your business. I can do whatever."

"Is that why you knocked over this guy's plant pot? Put your hands behind you."

"But not your plant pot. Not yours."

The cop actually apologized to me for my trouble as he loaded Drunky Dan's effects into the trunk. I felt like a real taxpayer. I picked a wallet up from the walkway and handed it to the officer, wishing I had some muffins or something to give him. He opened the wallet and took a look. "He's from out of state. Probably a student -- school's starting." Then, to the guy in the backseat, he said, "Welcome to Oregon! Have you seen our drunk tank?" and off they went. You say no to drugs, kids.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Oh my God!

This morning at about 05:00 Jude jerked awake, just like in the movies. "I've got to call my Mom," she said.

In her dream, she and her Mom were talking on the phone like they always do and, suddenly, Wilma said, "Oh my God!" and the phone went dead.

"I think she might be in trouble. People laugh at me but I've had this happen before."

I didn't laugh. Even though it's ridiculous.

"It sounded like maybe somebody had broken into her house. It might be happening right now." So, at 05:05, she called Wilma, who answered (which I'm surprised to report considering she doesn't wear her hearing aids to bed). Jude told her the dream and wandered out of the bedroom. I could hear her telling Wilma to check the locks and I could hear Jude checking our locks. They always talk for a long time. I went back to sleep.

Around 06:00, Jude came back in the bedroom and said, "Well, that's figured out!"

"We were talking about dreams in general and how, sometimes, people in your dreams actually represent other people, or a specific feeling or fear. And we were talking about recurring dreams and nightmares and I mentioned that one that I had for about fifteen years. She didn't know what I was talking about. I said, 'Well, I may never have told you because it involves Aunt Maxie and Mike [Jude's brother]. I probably didn't want to upset you.'"

"Tell it to me fast honey, the cell phone's beeping that my battery's dying."

"OK. I'm just a little girl. Mike and Aunt Max are babysitting me and I do something that makes them very angry. It's night time. They put me in the back seat of Mike's big old Ford and we drive out to this corn field. We get out of the car there in the dark and I can see there's a hole in the ground, already dug. They put me down into the hole, and they bury me alive."

"Oh my God!" Wilma said. And then the phone went dead.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Like, Urgent

We don’t trust the veterinary company where we've been taking Jackson. We signed him up for the annual cat care plan they sell you as if it’s insurance, though they steer well clear of that word. It’s about $300 a year, but oh! what you get. Thousands and thousands of dollars in savings for the tests and tune-ups he simply must have annually, quarterly, monthly; whatever the vets' fiscal calendar requires. The whole clinic is twenty-year-old girls who wear pajamas to work and speak with no punctuation. You pay that money, and they call and leave you messages: “This is Banfield Pet Hospital calling about Jackson it’s time for his physical and dental exam day after tomorrow all day we look forward to seeing Jackson.” So we take him in and, guess what? There’s something wrong with him. Every time. And it’s causing him pain. And we’d better jump right on it. Right now. Today. He’s in pain. Just like real estate agents, vets have a profit motive that is at cross purposes, I feel, strongly, with their oath.

This afternoon, after Jackson had been there a few hours, the receptionist called and she liked Jude that he, like, needed two teeth pulled. Like, right now. $147 (not $150). Jude said we can’t afford it. (We can – don’t worry, Mom.) So fifteen minutes later the actual vet called back and explained that Jackson is likely in great pain. Jude said we’ll get it handled as soon as possible. Then, two hours later, the same vet called again. Bad news. Jackson has diabetes, no doubt about it. He needs a special diet and insulin shots right away.

Like, suffering

So Lucy at work told me we should call her vet and get a second opinion. “Dr. Dillon’s wonderful,” she said. Dr. Dillon returned Jude’s call tonight at about 8:00 and they talked for 45 minutes. The second opinion will cost $200. OK, whatever – we really want to know if he’s at death’s door or not. Jude makes the appointment and they set up a new patient record in the vetabase.

“And what’s your kitty’s name?” Dr. Dillon asks.


“And does Jackson have the same last name as you?”

Jude takes the phone from her ear and looks at it, holding it the way Captain Kirk holds his communicator. “His last name is Bon Jovi,” she says into it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Straight Talk

Straight up, I denounce this. Please forward the link to everybody you know so they can denounce it too. But they should keep in mind it is true. A bunch of reporters were there when John McCain called his wife a cunt.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

It's Funny, But It's Not

This morning on the news I heard a guy say that the current bank failures we're experiencing are collateral damage from the all the people who’ve defaulted on their home loans.

PREMISE1: The bank lends money to the people, against the value of a house

PREMISE2: The people default on the loan

PREMISE3: Same time, the value of the house drops below the outstanding balance on the defaulted loan

CONCLUSION: The bank's failure is collateral damage

Get it? Get it?!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Call Your Senators About Spying and Retroactive Immunity

From Glenn Greenwald today:

Blue America has created -- and today unveils -- a superb new tool for contacting key Senators to urge them to vote against the FISA bill and/or to vote for pending amendments to improve the bill (if any of those amendments pass, a key benefit will be that the bill then must return to the House or be reconciled, rather than going straight to the White House for signing):

This first tool allows you to directly contact Senators to tell them to stand up for the rule of law and vote in favor of the Dodd-Feingold-Leahy amendment. (That's S.A.5064 to H.R. 6304 which will come up for a vote on July 8th, 2008.) Not only will this tool help you phone your Senators -- including connecting your call -- but it also gives us the ability to track positions on FISA given your input on what you ascertain during your conversations.
You can read about how to use it here.

The USA Is Not Just a Place

Every year around Independence Day I like to re-read the Declaration of Independence. It's pretty good! These last few years the name "George" has kind of jumped off the screen for me, but here's the passage that really grabbed me this time:

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Most of the Declaration of Independence is a list of charges against King George. Jefferson and the other signers knew they had to make the case for independence from England, but I also think they knew they were laying down markers for future citizens. Since then, the geographic boundaries of the United States have expanded and the Constitution has been amended because Things Change. And, granted, from its inception the US has mistreated people and misbehaved. But if I ask you to sum up the United States in one word, what would you choose? Up until the Bush administration, and even now, most people around the world would choose a positive word. That's changing, though, and we'd better right our course or we'll be nothing but a piece of land.

Reading the Declaration of Independence during the Bush administration always causes me to sketch my own list of charges:

Ignoring pre-9/11 warnings;
Unjust, illegal war and occupation with inadequate troop protections and terrible planning;
Spying on Americans without warrants;
Cronyism/corruption, including no-bid war contracts to the VP's own company and politicizing the judiciary;
Unprecedented secrecy in a government that should be of, by, and for the People;
Fiscal mayhem;
Tax cuts to the wealthiest during a time of war and record deficits;
US ports remain inadequately protected to this day;
Fascist blurring of Corporate, Religious and Government interests
Use of troops as political backdrops;
Forcing troops to be redeployed over and over rather than drafting the general public;
Blaming troops for institutionalized torture;
oh yeah: Torture;
Hiding prisoners from the Red Cross;
Gutting of environmental protections (often by making them voluntary);
Claiming the right to unchecked Executive powers during times of war, combined with a no-exit, no-endgame, endless War on Terror with undefinable parameters.

Why, those bastards!

Anyway, Happy Fourth. Keep your thumbs off those cherry bombs!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Call Your Senators, Call Your Congresspeople

If you're not familiar with the FISA issue, this Glenn Greenwald post is a good place to start. It's actually a criticism of Keith Olbermann for failing to denounce Barrack Obama's new, mealy-mouthed position on the bill and, by extension, on the Fourth Amendment. For your convenience, here's the text of that Amendment:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

I've been writing every day to Senator "Change We Can Believe In" Obama, and to Senator "Ready to Lead on Day One" Clinton, and to my own reps in the House and Senate. I'm told emails are good, calls are better, letters and faxes (because they occupy physical space in their offices) are best. When I call, I always say:

1. My name and city/state. I'm calling to ask X's position on the heinous new FISA bill. (Remember, it's already passed the House -- the Senate is taking it up on July 8.)

2. I'm concerned that the bill retroactively immunizes telecom companies who may have assisted the Bush administration in illegally spying on me and other Americans.

Usually I'm told that the Senator/Congressperson hasn't reviewed the specifics of the bill because they're still being discussed. I answer: "Regardless of the specifics of the bill, what's her position generally on retroactive immunity? Is she against, generally, warrantless spying? Is she speaking out about it? Will she vote against any bill that contains these?"

Sometimes I'm told that the Senator/Congressperson hasn't released a position yet. So I ask: "Why not?"

And sometimes they'll throw out some distraction like, "I do know the Senator voted in favor of cloture ..." which only means he voted to stop debate; to block a fillibuster. If you follow that, fine -- pursue it. If you don't, go back to your point. "If he wants my vote, and my respect, he should go find a microphone and use his position to protect the Constitution. Where's he at on that?" etc., etc.

Sometimes I'll even ask the person who answers the phone what his/her position is on the matter. They're all policy wonks, so it's wicked hard for them to spit out, "I like illegal spying and retroactive immunity."

Obama said he'll support the heinous FISA bill, but that he'll try to stop the retroactive telecom immunity part of it. The trouble with that is that, at least when he said it last week, it was all for show. The Senate Majority Leader had crafted a doomed amendment just so Obama and others could say they tried to block the immunity. So the bottom line is the same: will the Senator vote against any bill containing retroactive telecom immunity, yes or no?

Here's a July 1 message from Senator Russ Feingold. He's kick-ass. He and Senator Chris Dodd have been leading the opposition to the current FISA bill:

Senator Chris Dodd also has a thing you can sign to become a Citizen Co-Sponsor of the Dodd/Feingold amendment to stop Retroactive Immunity.

Monday, May 19, 2008

75,000 – Sea of People Seeks Sea Change

CNN's story mentioning Senator Obama's activities in Oregon over the weekend was decidedly understated (see paragraph 18). "Obama made low-key campaign stops this weekend, hitting a street festival in Keizer and stopping for ice cream in Eugene." Oh, and by the way Barack Obama --the black guy shown in the photos below-- also held a quick meet-up with some supporters at Waterfront Park in Portland.

Later CNN, on Campbell Brown's terrible show, used the rally story as a teaser throughout the hour. When they finally covered it, the angle was what a clever bit of stagecraft this was on the part of the Obama campaign. They said the Obama staffers shrewdly created a buzz by getting the word out that this would be the last chance to see the candidate before the Oregon primary (which was vote-by-mail and ended Tuesday, two days after the Sunday rally). Getting the word out -- shrewd. "Then!" said CNN, "Then on Thursday those clever stagecrafters put out the word that Michelle Obama would also be at the rally, potentially capturing some Hillary supporters." -?!? So, according to CNN this wasn't 75,000 people who wanted to show just how committed and excited they were. No, these rubes were being manipulated by a clever bit of Obama staffer stagecraft. Sorry Atlanta, but Keith is right: CNN blows.

Imagine John McCain is having a big, outdoor rally in your town. Would a thousand people go? Two thousand? Actually, it's hard to imagine it would happen at all. When McCain was in Portland a couple of weeks ago there were no free-to-the-public events and a paid ticket would set you back $1,000 to $33,100.

The Portland Obama rally was the largest to-date in the 15-month campaign, dwarfing his previous record crowd of 35,000 (nice try, Philly!). Portland police say we had 60K people inside Waterfront Park plus 15K all around the park perimeter, on the surrounding bridges, and down kayaking in the Willamette River. To Portland's great credit the thing was amazingly well-managed, with waits of about an hour to get in despite the TSA pat-down, and pretty easy traffic. And afterward the place wasn't covered in garbage -- it looked as if it had been vacuumed.

Incidentally, these photos are also useful if you want to picture how many troops we have in Iraq -- just double the size of this crowd. If you want to include the mercenaries, quadruple it.

In other news, I heard that Bill and Chelsea Clinton had breakfast just a few hours before and a half a mile away from the Obama rally at our favorite breakfast spot, Mother's Cafe and Bistro. What a shame the poor man can never order waffles! I hope they had a nice time doing whatever else they did on Sunday.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Let's Play VP Speculation!

How about Virginia's Jim Webb for Vice POTUS? He was Assistant Secretary of Defense, then Secretary of the Navy under Reagan -- Reagan! He's the Republican-turned-Democrat who squeaked past incumbent Republican Senator George "Macaca" Allen in the 2006 election to switch the Senate majority from the Republicans to the Democrats. So he's a crossover guy who slapped down a racist bully and took his job. To me, he symbolizes the message voters tried to send in 2006.

Secretary of the Navy's not enough military credibility for you? OK: he graduated from the Naval Academy and went straight to Viet Nam as a 2nd Lieutenent Marine, where he earned a Navy Cross, a Silver Star, couple of Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts. Oh, and his son served with the Marines in the occupation of Iraq.

So he's a badass moderate who's held a Cabinet position with the Department of Defense, switched parties during Bush, and represents the will of voters to move away from racist, codeword, phony cowboy guys. Also, he's technically from the south.

To all you NASCAR Dads: He's clearly not afraid to use -- and he knows how to use -- the military.

To all you Soccer Moms: He's got, very literally, skin in the game.

Downside: he has very little Congressional experience so although his resume is very long he, unlike LBJ or (hate to say it) Cheney, probably isn't a master at making deals and pushing legislation through. Joe Biden's your man for that, or Chris Dodd. Even so, I'm saying:

Obama-Webb 2008.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Get. That. Dirt off your shoulder.

Do you know that Jay-Z song, "Dirt Off Your Shoulder"?

Well, this was brilliant. Yesterday was the day after the uber-craptacular ABC Clinton v Obama "debate" in Philadelphia where substance reigned a dream and trifling pettiness -- infantile bullshit about nothing, nothing, nothing of any importance -- was trotted out and "debated." Instead of coming out the next day and whining about it, Obama literally brushed it off.

Classy, right? But if you're a member of the 18-35 demographic (or if you're plagued, as I am, with arrested development) you're also likely to recognize this as a distinct nod to your society -- a society you may not have believed anybody knew about outside the shaking windows of your pimped out gangsta Honda CRV. Now, I know that "brush it off" is a well-known turn of phrase, and that's probably why most of the audience responded so well to it. That Jay-Z song, though, turned brushing dirt off your shoulder into a dance move, and anybody who knows the video (and that's a lot of voters) would be tempted to get up and dance with Barack when he did this. You think I'm kidding, don't you. I can tell you think this whole post is about boosting my shtreet cred. Maybe so. But let's take another look at that slo-mo:

To put this in perspective for people my age who actually act like it, Obama's bit of youth pandering was similar to Reagan's failed effort to connect to pop culture by invoking Springsteen's "Born In The USA," except Obama got the context right.

The point of the song is that one should stay cool under pressure. The point of Obama's gesture is that he's smoove like that.

Now, here's another piece of video sponsored by Schoolhouse ROC and the letter O:

Thursday, April 3, 2008


At Safeway this morning I'm confronted with this little gem: if my cashier fails to ask me for a donation to Easter Seals -- a handout -- then I win **free water**. As if being asked to give money is a customer service. "Don't worry, folks! Our team of checkers will definitely put you in an uncomfortable position during your visit. We guarantee* it."

*Guarantee backed by the planet's most plentiful resource.

So I put my iPod earbuds in as I go through the line and I avoid any eye contact with my cashier. I have my music up so loud that others can hear it bzipping out of the little earbuds. I try to look angry. Sure enough, my cashier fails to ask me for a donation. I pull out the earbuds and I say, "You didn't ask me to donate! I get free water!" She gives me the look I deserve, I suppose, and she hands me a warm bottle of water.

She says, "Would you like to donate to Easter Seals?"

"No," I answer, opening my water bottle.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Morning Plagiarism

Statistics are meaningless. If they were at all true, both shoelaces would break at the same time.