May 31, 2008

Clinton campaign becomes nothing but pathetic and destructive

I'm sorry.

I've tried very hard to be fair. The press has been effectively cowed and muzzled by the constant whining and complaining from the Clinton camp, so they continue with this bizarre otherworldly pretense that Clinton somehow has a legitimate claim, even as they change by the hour and become ever more ludicrous and convoluted.

Remember when the started saying that this prolonged race would hopelessly divide the Democrats into factions which would never reconcile? I thought that was ludicrous. I myself would never be so extreme that I'd not be able to gladly support either Hillary or Obama, however it came out.

Guess what? I was wrong. I wouldn't vote for Hillary Clinton for dogcatcher, and will have a very hard time ever respecting her again.

I loved Hillary. I defended her and was outraged at the way the right mounted a campaign to demonize both she and her husband using tactics not seen since the 1800's, so insane and over-the-top as to defy belief that they actually had the sheer nerve and lack of character to do it.

When the campaign began shaping up, I argued with friends that felt Hillary would be disaster for the party that I thought she'd be a good nominee, and I believed it.

When it came to Obama vs. Clinton, I was firmly on the fence for quite some time. It was only a while after Iowa that I began to feel that Obama was going to be the nominee for a variety of reasons, and wrote a post here saying so unequivocally. And this was far before the other Dem candidates began dropping out or that Obama had anything resembling a lead.

I didn't have a problem with Clinton continuing her campaign, and though I winced at some of the tactics she used against Obama, I kept trying to be fair-minded and believe that was just politics and that of course, she had every right to contest the race as hard as she could.

But there came a moment when things entered the twilight zone.

Have any of you had that moment with the Clinton campaign? When was it for you?

For me it happened in two (or maybe three) steps.

The first was when she started just getting creepy in her tactics against Obama. There wasn't just one instance which put me off her, but several. The one example that particularly turned me against her was her responding, "As far as I know." to being asked whether Obama was a Christian. Right about there was the first time I found out that I couldn't maintain my neutrality about this contest.

She was simply confirming, strongly, the rap against her and her husband that they'd do literally anything to get elected. She and her campaign took a decided turn to the slimy and dishonest, and of course, Bill was out there making even more odious comments. It wasn't that she was saying negative things against Obama, it was HOW she and Bill were doing it that I couldn't stomach.

Then came the la-la land phase where it became all but dead-certain that she simply could not win the nomination by any means commonly accepted here on this planet.

Then the ugliness and truly disturbing air of desperation and aura of tragic desperation set in.

Some pundits began noting the facts and began to (correctly) speak as if Clinton was all but doomed to loose to Obama. This of course spawned a massive campaign by Clinton and her surrogates to play the victim and suggest that the media en masse were unfairly "counting her out". This marked the resurgence of Clinton playing the victim card as she has so often in the past (with a large degree of truth, and success, I might add.)

But it's past time to state what the pundits and press are too afraid to say, and that is that the Clinton campaign, in addition to being long ago incapable of winning, is, in the service of NOTHING other than their egos and belief they are entitled to the presidency, doing grave damage to both the Democratic party and Barack Obama's prospects in November.

But now all the howls of unfairness and victim-ness were ringing hollow. It was transparently obvious that she was now plunging into a zone where reality would no longer do. The truth was telling her and everyone else that she'd blown it.

Through fatal blunders early on in her campaign, notably having assumed she was the anointed one and relying on the fatal assumption that she'd be crowned the nominee on Super Tuesday, thus having no strategy for a campaign beyond that, infighting between campaign principles, reckless squandering of campaign funds, and other blunders and mistakes that will no doubt be endlessly dissected in the years ahead.

But blunder she did, and for the last month or so as it's become clear that she can not win, her campaign seems to be actually trying the argument, as spokesman Howard Wolfson did recently, that she's won the campaign.... if you don't count the first month or two of it. Well, sorry you stumbled out of the gate Hillary, but there aren't any do-overs in this game.

As mad as it is, she truly seems to be trying to make that case. She's won the contest (if you don't count the first half), and so, believing that proves that she's actually the more popular candidate and the best able to win in November, she's set about trying to throw every rule out the window along with reality.

Yes, we're all sorry you were caught asleep at the switch. Yes, it seems plausible that had your campaign not relied on a grossly overpaid, sweaty, obese Washington insider to begin with, AND your opponent Obama hadn't run such a superior campaign and, (this next bit is critical, but never part of any discussion) if Obama wasn't preferred as a candidate by at least as many voters as support you, yeah, you may have been the nominee.

But it doesn't work like that. And the simple fact that Clinton refuses to acknowledge that is why she has crossed over from the dubious to the very ugly.

And while the press, intimidated into pretending Clinton is acting in any way sane, continues to treat her Quixotic campaign as if it makes sense (Clinton simply can NOT win this, but she continues to campaign, not that there's anything wrong with that. And this, as the Clinton campaign tells us, what a great scrappy fighter she is......)

But today's meeting of the Democratic Rules & Bylaws Committee and in particular the statement from Clinton's hit man Harold Ickes when Hillary didn't get ALL of the Michigan delegates (in a race where Obama's name wasn't even on the ballot), and how he menacing announced that he'd been authorized by Hillary to challenge their ruling all the way to the convention, did what I never would have believed was possible; made me see the Clinton's and the Clinton campaign as every bit as venal, selfish, craven, and ugly as their critics have always maintained.

The motion which passed, thankfully, gave Clinton 69 delegates to 59 for Obama, with each delegates vote counting a 1/2 vote.

Note: Watch the historic and truly dramatic vote process on C-Span here. The section regarding apportioning Michigans delegates including Ickes preposterous statement begins just past the 32 minute mark of the clip.

After the statement of Tom Hynes, a member from Illinois, another committee member, Everett Ward from North Carolina, gives perhaps the best statement of the day in responding to Ickes divisive statement a few minutes later at around the 43 minute mark. (complete with Hillary supporters continually interupting. When someone finally tells them to shut up, one of them yelled back, "YOU shut up!", exemplifying the level of dignity they brought to the process. The fact that the Clinton campaign actually bussed in these absolutely ridiculous and disruptive goons is only another reason to believe they're lost grip with reality.)

C-Span will also rebroadcast the highlights of the meeting later tonight, and I highly recommend making the effort to watch.

It made me not have even a shred of sympathy for Clinton or her campaign, but it made me, let's say, passionately dislike them both.

These power-mad freaks are literally willing to tear the party apart, turning it to warring camps who will never unite, and in doing so is actively and consciously doing substantial harm to the prospect of electing a Democratic president.

This is not only ugly and disgusting when viewed from a personal perspective, showing as it does just how literally insane she must be in refusing to accept reality, even as it continues to do grave damage to the party which has supported her for decades, but it's past the time to call this what it is.... insane.

We are witnessing a woman and her campaign and a portion of her supporters literally losing their marbles before our very eyes.

And through all of this, the unanswered question remains, WHY??!! What does Hillary want from all this strife and division? What is it that she feels is worth literally blowing up the party?

I think the answer to that will prove to be so ugly that Hillary Clinton will have through her choices in this election, utterly destroyed both her image and her legacy in history.

She's blown it. Clinton is now like a Kamikaze pilot in WWII, like some pathetic person who can't come to grips with the fact they've lost and it's over, but worse. She not only won't deal with it, she insists that everyone else pretend along with her. And perhaps worst of all, it now seems apparent that she JUST DOESN'T CARE what the consequences are.

For Hillary Clinton, NOTHING is more important than her getting what she wants, which is her hands on power. She realizes she could have had it if she hadn't blown it in the beginning, she thinks she's owed it, this totally destroys her carefully plotted path to the White House, and she's gone stark, raving, mad.

Whatever Hillary Clinton gets out of this mad campaign, it can't possibly be worth the damage she's done and what it will leave behind in its wake.

May 30, 2008

News of Kennedy's malignant cancer brings out that zany Republican humor.

One could be forgiven for wondering if being a zealous right wing Republican is synonymous with being the very most vile sort of sub-human when they provide a constant parade of instances which illuminate their sense of humanity, decency, and fairness.

Upon the news that Sen. Edward Kennedy was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, the Republican right reacted with their famous Christian charity.

One sport talk show, uh... person, Mark Madden seized the opportunity to give his right wing fans a good laugh by saying,
"I'm very disappointed to hear that Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts is near death because of a brain tumor," Madden said during the opening of his popular afternoon drive time show from 3-7 p.m. "I always hoped Sen. Kennedy would live long enough to be assassinated. I wonder if he got a card from the Kopechnes."

This guy's show was broadcast on an ESPN owned radio show in Pittsburg. It took them nearly a week to finally get around to firing him. He was their big ratings leader.

Not to be outdone, talk show host Michael Wiener (who changed his name to Savage) thought it would be cute to play a song by the punk band "The Dead Kennedy's" and an audio montage consisting of clips of Kennedy singing a song in Spanish and newsers reporting on Kennedy's diagnosis, along with Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Kindergarten Cop" saying, "It's not a tumor."

Weiner/Savage goes on to suggest that Kennedy's brain tumor has made him insane for decades and also played a clip of Sen. Robert Byrd's emotional tribute to Kennedy on the Senate floor and then called him, "a walking psycho."

The next day Wiener attempted to play the martyr because his classy act was being criticized.
His poor health does not excuse him from what he has done to our nation, and so, now, the Soros-run media sets on Michael Savage for daring to disclose the truth about Ted Kennedy's legacy." Savage added: "Just as in a Soviet show trial, Michael Savage is now being persecuted for refusing to take the party line that the great lion of the left must be praised -- all praise, all praise."

Savage/Weiner upped the ante and went on an unhinged diatribe about how Kennedy had destroyed America in which he uttered this revealing rant:
Who is the real Ted Kennedy? The real Ted Kennedy? Well, the leftist media in this nation has erupted in praise of Ted Kennedy. Democrats praise him. Republicans praise him. Liberals praise him. Conservatives praise him. But simply because a man has a serious health problem, does that mean that all criticism must stop? Permanently, his legacy must be rewritten? Does a man who spent his entire political life destroying the fundamental tenets of American morality become miraculously rehabilitated, simply because he entered the hospital? Do so-called conservatives stop being conservative because of a medical diagnosis?

Indeed. Just because someone who has served the country for decades and improved the lives of millions of people is facing a terminal illness, does that mean that conservatives have to stop being conservatives?

Weiner/Savage's meaning here is crystal clear. Just because human decency dictates that you not attack a person in this situation doesn't mean that rank assholes have to stop being rank assholes.

C'mon fellow rabid Republicans, he argues, just because someone is fighting for their lives after a remarkable career in the Senate is no reason to suddenly stop being the loathsome indecent half-mad hate-mongers we've always been!

What a fun bunch.

Thank goodness not all Republicans are that bad, and many are just as disgusted with these vile types as anyone else. Millions are finally seeing the light.

To paraphrase the famous logical observation, all Republicans are NOT disgusting, miserable, ignorant, racist, half-mad, misanthropic, hate-mongers, but most disgusting, miserable, ignorant, racist, half-mad, misanthropic, hate-mongers ARE Republicans.

As these awful human beings realize they're being relegated back into the rat hole they crawled out of with the emergence of Republican political domination, they'll become increasingly frantic, frustrated, and desperate as they literally and figuratively go down with the Republican ship.

The thought that there might come a day when this sort of hate and bile is no longer financially profitable, and companies are not rewarded for promoting it is reason enough to look forward to a new and better day in this country.

May 29, 2008

When the Greatest Generation meets your average right wing blogger

Roger Ailes (not THAT Roger Ailes), long a favorite blogger, succinctly refers to this story as "The Greatest Generation meets the Fighting Keyboarders.

The Fighting Keyboarders (or the 101st Fighting Keyboard Brigade) is the apt name given to right wing bloggers, many of enlistment age, who gave (and continue to give) lusty support to the invasion of Iraq, cheering on the carnage, and loudly jeered and attacked anyone who actually pointed out what a collossal cluster-f*** it was and is.

Of course, they never enlisted themselves to say, maybe support the war effort in the manner they felt all the miority and other enlistees should. One young Republican on TV to bash those who weren't sufficiently enthusiastic about the war was famously called out by Chris Matthews, I believe.

The hapless "hero" stammered with a straight face that no, he hadn't enlisted and Matthews then got him to admit that he had no desire to. Why? Because, as he put it, he was doing his part in the "war" by fighting the ideological battle from the comfort of his living room. America salutes you, Skippy.

Anyway, the "Sadly, No" blog gives an account of a couple of these troglodytes who live to be the next nerd to expose some imagined liberal misdeed, as when the brave Republican keyboarders went to truly bizarre lengths in the matter of the forged documents featured by CBS in a piece about Bush having skipped out on his National Guard duty.

They endlessly analysed in literally microscopic detail the kerning and typefaces used by IBM Selectric typewriters of the period involved to show that some of the documents referred to were faked. (of course, this didn't alter the fact that the information in the documents was true or that Bush was indeed, AWOL from his National Guard unit.)

This incident eventually brought down Dan Rather and embarassed CBS news, and was hailed as a great victory by the Fighting Keyboarders. (Again, never mind that the forgeries didn't affect the facts of the case in any way, shape, or form.)

Cut to a few days ago. The latest absolutely insane bit of trivia to get these guys rubbing their pasty thighs in excitement involves Barack Obama's recently saying that his great-uncle helped liberate a concentration camp in WWII.

The wing-nuts immediately set in to feverish research on Barack Obama's claim, intent on finding a comma out of place and being the next wing-nut hero.

Imagine their orgiastic glee when they found out that Obama's great-uncle's unit did NOT liberate Auschwitz! They were besides themselves, Obama was lying, they shouted from the rooftops! They'd done it! This would surely topple Obama's chances at a political career. Ruin him!

And indeed, they were correct. Sort of. Obama's great-uncle liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp... not Auschwitz, thus proving conclusively their premise that in matters of great importance, Obama just can't be trusted. (rolling eyes)

But this phony triumph just egged a few Keyboard Kommandos onward, feverish in their quest to reveal some similar earth-shattering bombshell. (These are the sort that fantasize about gaining favor from the authority figures they worship by digging up dirt on opponents. They like to pretend they're really big oppo researchers who will be hailed as heroes to wing-nuts everwhere. When that's their fondest fantasy... I think that pretty much tells it all. No doubt in my mind they would have been willing and proud brownshirts in the late 30s.)

"Sadly, No" explains what happened next.

And I can not stop laughing.

Greatest Generation indeed.

And if you've got the stomach for it, go read the Sweetness & Light post and the comments to it.

It really provides a stark introduction into their mindset.

But don't say I didn't warn you. It might just ruin your faith in mankind.

Republican Christians, contradiction in terms?

Very interesting.

May 28, 2008

Press flack commits honesty; White House "Sad", "Shocked"

Scott McClellan, former press secretary and privy to the daily goings on in the Bush White House, has committed the unpardonable sin (unlike perjury and obstruction of justice, which will get you pardoned) of speaking the truth.

And in this case, it's only a confirmation of what nearly the entire population of the world already knew, that Bush has fatal character flaws, that the White House ran an concerted campaign to manipulate the facts and draw us into an unnecessary war. (and that Rove, Bush, and Cheney were up to their necks in criminal actions around the Valerie Plame affair.)

Of course, as always, this brings on an enevitible massive campaign to attack, smear, demean, and acribe any sort of negative motive to the person daring to tell the truth as they saw it, never mind that it dove-tails perfectly with what all the evidence shows anyway. But the smears and attacks from the Republicans have been going on all day today and will no doubt become more coordinated and wide-spread as the days go by in what will inevitably be a futile attempt to deny the obvious, that McClellan is telling the truth.

Like every sleaze-bag politician, large or small, who's revealed to be stupid, corrupt, or criminal, the first thing they do is try to suggest the truth-teller is "disgruntled" in hopes that somehow that is reason enough to not believe the facts.

Never mind in fact, that the very politicians doing the attacking engage in lying in retalitation against perceived enemies on nearly a daily basis. When it comes to hypocrisy, these pols are masters.

This is goofy to begin with. First of all, how would they know if the person is "disgruntled"? They might be as gruntled as all get out. Secondly, if someone is pissed off about their treatment at a job, does that automatically mean that he or she isn't capable of telling things absolutely honestly?

This attack is based on the fact that, even if every word is true, if someone says it because they're pissed off at the subject, it therefore should be dismissed entirely. Completely false of course, but it's all they've got. This of course te House began immediately.

Of course, you'll rarely hear anyone deny the facts of the book, just personal attacks on McClellan and trying to attack his motives.

Then there's the cheapest and easiest and most boringly common attack, that he's just "doing it for the money". That cheap and lazy shot always comes with the territory.

McClellans predecesor Ari Fleisher advanced the argument that if McClellan didn't like repeatedly lying to the press and public, then he shouldn't have taken the job as White House press secretary to begin with. Following this lead, Republican flacks are saying that if things were as bad as McClellan reveals, then why didn't he quit?

This is rather stupid, as clearly McClellan didn't know at the time that much of what he was sent out to say were blatant, pre-meditated lies.

When a guy like McClellan, who was by many accounts over his head when he was thrust into the role of press secretary during a very dicey period of the Bush administration upon the resignation of the utterly slimy Ari Fleisher, he's most likely paddling as fast as he can just to keep up and deal with his duties. I'm not sure it would occur to him to suddenly quit right when the administration needed him most.

And if he had done that, these flying monkeys would be the first to blast him as disloyal and a traitor for doing so.

They also seem fond of saying that it's terrible for any White House employee to ever tell the truth after their stint there. It's just not done, they say, and really is a sign of bad character. No one's ever done that before, I've heard said more than once.

Well, I thought, what about little George Stephanopolis, who penned a tell-all book complete with revelations about the Clinton White House almost a minute after he left the White House? And since, he's cashed in on his former position to make literally hundreds of millions of dollars. Guess some flacks have a short memory.

One right wing hack said McClellan's book "makes me sick". Yeah, I'm sure honesty would do that for these sorts of folks. It's like kryptonite to them. The truth is their biggest fear, and they must be quaking in their boots at the thought that more of it may be forthcoming.

Already a slew of books have been published by various Bush flacks, with nearly all of them devoted to trying to cover their own asses for their roles in the utter disaster of this administration. At least McClellan accepts responsibility for his deeds and seems to have written this book for more laudible motives. As he puts it, he did it simply so that the American people can have the truth, something which of course brands him as some sort of freakish monster among the Bush crowd.

In what appears to be an effort to get right with God, McClellan repeats what has been stated here for years, namely,
History appears poised to confirm what most Americans today have decided — that the decision to invade Iraq was a serious strategic blunder. No one, including me, can know with absolute certainty how the war will be viewed decades from now when we can more fully understand its impact. What I do know is that war should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary.

Waging an unnecessary war is a grave mistake. But in reflecting on all that happened during the Bush administration, I’ve come to believe that an even more fundamental mistake was made — a decision to turn away from candor and honesty when those qualities were most needed.

Most of our elected leaders in Washington, Republicans and Democrats alike, are good and decent people. Yet too many of them today have made a practice of shunning truth and the high level of openness and forthrightness required to discover it. Most of it is not willful or conscious. Rather it is part of the modern Washington game that has become the accepted norm.

As I explain in this book, Washington has become the home of the permanent campaign, a game of endless politicking based on the manipulation of shades of truth, partial truths, twisting of the truth, and spin. Governing has become an appendage of politics rather than the other way around, with electoral victory and the control of power as the sole measures of success. That means shaping the narrative before it shapes you. Candor and honesty are pushed to the side in the battle to win the latest news cycle.

Of course, deception in politics is nothing new. What’s new is the degree to which it now permeates our national political discourse.

On the "liberal press" as "complicit enablers":
"In the fall of 2002, Bush and his White house were engaging in a carefully-orchestrated campaign to shape and manipulate sources of public approval to our advantage. We'd done much the same on other issues--tax cuts and education--to great success. But war with Iraq was different. Beyond the irreversible human costs and substantial financial price, the decision to go to war and the way we went about selling it would ultimately lead to increased polarization and intensified partisan warfare. Our lack of candor and honesty in making the case for war would later provoke a partisan response from our opponents that, in its own way, further distorted and obscured a more nuanced reality. Another cycle of deception would cloud the public's ability to see larger, underlying important truths that are critical to understand in order to avoid the same problems in the future.

"And through it all, the media would serve as complicit enablers. Their primary focus would be on covering the campaign to sell the war, rather than aggressively questioning the rationale for war or pursuing the truth behind it… the media would neglect their watchdog role, focusing less on truth and accuracy and more on whether the campaign was succeeding. Was the president winning or losing the argument? How were Democrats responding? What were the electoral implications? What did the polls say? And the truth--about the actual nature of the threat posed by Saddam, the right way to confront it, and the possible risks of military conflict--would get largely left behind…"

McClellan writes that while he thinks most reporters are personally liberal, the "vast majority--including those in the White House press corps--are honest, fair-minded and professional" when it comes to letting their political biases impact their coverage.

"If anything, the national press corps was probably too deferential to the White House and to the administration in regard to the most important decision facing the nation during my years in Washington, the choice over whether to go to war in Iraq. The collapse of the administration's rationales for war, which became apparent months after our invasion, should have never come as such a surprise. The public should have been made much more aware, before the fact, of the uncertainties, doubts, and caveats that underlay the intelligence about the regime of Saddam hussein. The administration did little to convey those nuances to the people, the press should have picked up the slack but largely failed to do so because their focus was elsewhere--on covering the march to war, instead of the necessity of war.

"In this case, the 'liberal media' didn't live up to its reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served."

Scott McClellan, former key cog in the Bush deception machine, now trying to balance his moral books and avoid a ticket to hell. Thank goodness that when removed from the atmosphere of the Bush crowd, some people actually have the ability to regenerate their sense of honesty and morality.

May 26, 2008

Intro to intros

The Inside Dope Kollege of Musical Knowledge (r) would like to introduce you to introductions, otherwise known as intros.

These little things are often key to a song's success, and certainly it's memorability. They say that first impressions are key, well, I guess the same is true with a song.

There are many intros that have become immortal in their own right and instantly recognizable. I'd guess just about anyone can name that tune from listening to either this... or this famous intro from a certain aging rock band, probably within a couple notes.

I grabbed a few examples of intros out of the massive Inside Dope vault to explore this topic a bit further. They're probably not the best examples, but they'll do nicely.

A simple, memorable guitar hook is always popular. Here's another example in addition to the two previous.

But occasionally, even the drummer gets some, as in this intro which starts out sounding like a nitro dragster at the line, then the light turns green.

I'd wager there's been thousands of speeding tickets handed out to people listening to that tune full blast. (really, how could you possibly go the speed limit?)

Counting out the song by riffing on muted guitar strings seems popular as well, as in this example.

In this category there's this famous example, definitely one of the classic intros of all time.

Misdirection is also popular, where usually one instrument will start off on an entirely different sort of music or feel, then gradually, or suddenly, break into the song itself. This can be a very artful form of intro.

I'm sure there's better examples, but here's one.

Oftentimes musicians will decide to keep it interesting by adding a different twist or flavor to a well-known or overplayed tune by means of a new intro. This of course usually employs misdirection, thus keeping the audience baffled until the last moment when they finally recognize the tune. Audiences seem to go wild at the moment they realize it's an old favorite.

In the following example (the one that got me going on this weird topic) the band seems to come up with a different intro each time they play the song, which is interesting in itself.

But when I heard this version, I was struck by just what an interesting intro it really is, playing with and distorting a light classical tune, and the payoff chords are big and powerful. (you may have to turn this one (way) up a bit.)

Then there's the intro that defies explanation. These are almost routinely interesting, and this is probably the best example I'm aware of in recent years. A great 70's retro secret agent TV theme thing going on. (bonus points if you can figure out what the hell the guy is saying in the looped sample. The best I could figure still makes no sense. Not that it has to. OH, and you might want to turn the volume back down before this clip or risk having your ears bleed.)

And finally to my personal grand-daddy of them all. This is certainly not one of the most famous intros, in fact, I doubt any reader's even heard it before.

In creating a new intro for a very familiar song, it results in a very effective misdirection.

From the simple notes on the Fender Rhodes to the horn arrangement that's a thing of beauty, this one does it for me.

I love this intro so much I could listen to it over and over dozens of times at a sitting... and I have. I simply can't hear it without immediately starting it again and listening to the intro again, the louder the better.

Turn it way up. Here's the Steely Dan Orchestra and my favorite intro (for now) recorded live from the sound board at Poplar Creek a few years back. (by the way, Steely Dan will be at the Chicago Theatre July 15)

I'm not sure I've ever heard two notes on a snare drum have as much impact as when Dennis Chambers jump starts the groove. And the sheer precision of all the musicians (which included the late, great Cornelius Bumpus on tenor), is amazing.

I wanted to keep the song a mystery and let you guess it, but the intro is so effective at misdirection that it really offers no clues as to the song it leads into. Sorry about the give-a-way, but really, do you think you would have ever guessed the song?

Any readers that feel they're up on their music, or have a little time to kill, are welcome to take a stab at naming the tunes that go with the intros above. Some are gimmes, but others may be not so obvious.

And of course, I'd like to hear any songs you feel should be included in the pantheon of great, memorable, and/or distinctive song intros.

For this you'll be given 1.5 hours credit which is transferable to any fake college or university of your choice.

Memorial Day

Today is the day Americans are supposed to... I don't know, think ... about our veterans and those who have given their lives, their limbs, and in many cases, their sanity for the cause of fighting those whom their government tells them is our enemy.

These brave men and women sign up knowing that they will be expected to do whatever is asked of them, wherever, and whenever, and that they may well die in the process.

There's is not to ask why they're doing what they're doing, or killing who they're killing, destroying what they destroy, or building or hauling, or guarding what they're building or hauling or guarding. That's not their jobs.

Asking why and if it's worth it is our jobs, and until recently, we've done a piss poor job of it.

In that respect, we've all failed this recent crop of veterans and troops in the field.

We should not be proud of what we allowed this administration to send them into.

But we should be beyond proud that there are, and have been, literally millions of ordinary Americans willing to go anywhere, and do whatever they're told to do in the face of great danger and hardship, and putting their loved ones through terrible stress as well.

In remembering all of those who have served, we should remind ourselves that we fail these men and women when we stand by and allow them to be used in a reckless and ill-conceived way and under false pretenses. We can only vow to not let it happen again.

May 25, 2008

The power of positive lunacy

Ya gotta love Terry McAuliffe. Or do you?

Terry McAuliffe, for those who aren't already familiar with him, is essentially the Clinton's chief fund-raiser, with a reputation as one of the best cash-grabbers around. He's also a former head of the DNC, and wrote a book last year ("What a Party!") in which he detailed a confrontation with Michigan Sen. Carl Levin over Michigan's moving their primary ahead of the party imposed limits.

Here's the passage from Terry's book:
"You won't deny us seats at the convention," [Levin] said.

"Carl, take it to the bank," I said. "They will not get a credential. The closest they'll get to Boston will be watching it on television. I will not let you break this entire nominating process for one state. The rules are the rules. If you want to call my bluff, Carl, you go ahead and do it."

Of course now McAuliffe is out arguing passionately that, among other things, it would be a travesty if the Michigan (and Florida) delegations aren't seated.

Note: Tim Russert wrote a book about his dad "Big Russ", and rode the hell out of it to burnish his image as an "average guy" (who makes millions a year and has a mansion on Nantucket with the other media elites like Matthews, etc.)

I know I've seen at least one previous guest on Meet the Press invoke "Big Russ" in an attempt to soften Timmy up. Apparently McAuliffe thought he'd go there, and go it one better, with cringe-worthy results.

As you watch bear in mind that "Big Russ" is very much alive.

May 23, 2008

Thank God for Hitler

...or at least that's the message Sen. John McCain's pal Rev. John Hagee believes.

Hagee thinks that Hitler was Heaven sent, that God put Hitler on earth, caused him to try to exterminate the Jews, thus driving them to Israel so that everything would fit together and make Hagee's vision of the apocalypse all make sense. To the extent that he's been of use in Hagee's full-tilt swindle of hundreds of thousands of religious dupes, Hitler been berry berry good to Hagee's bank account.

In one of his many, shall we say, creative, interpretations of the Bible, Hagee drones that some obscure passage proves that God herself sent none other than that nutty Austrian, Adolf Hitler to "hunt" the Jews and get them to create the state of Israel.

And of course, as in all his bizarre preaching, this fits neatly into Hagee's brand of doomsday Christianity, serving to back up his warped vision of the Apocalypse/Rapture. This requires he and his many followers to be nearly maniacal supporters of Israel and nuclear war with Iran.

Not out of Christian kindness and the belief that all religions should get along. Nooooooo. It's so the Jews can play their little part in the grand Apocalypse, thus helping these "christians" to get sucked up into Heaven like so many plastic canisters at a celestial bank drive-up.

Of course, they don't believe the Jews themselves will make it, as they don't believe that Judaism is a valid religion, and they're certainly not getting into Heaven, unless of course they all convert at the last second. Jews who don't convert to Christianity will roast in Hell along with the rest of us in Hagee's view.

But he exhorts us to support those nice Jews, even if it means we have to engage in nuclear war with Iran. Frankly, he doesn't care what happens to anyone or any nation, as long as it all fits his particular idea of what is called for in his version of the "last days."

Think this little slice of insanity will be played every two minutes for three or four solid days as was Rev. Wright's inflammatory remarks? Don't count on it.

But at least old Sen. John "Get off my lawn!" McCain had the sense to FINALLY throw Hagee under the proverbial bus.

Of course merely referring to Catholicism as "the Great Whore" isn't enough to have McCain reject you. No. McCain was cool with that. It's been known now for months that Hagee has made such statements. Good old "maverick" McCain still hung tough with "agent of intolerance" Hagee after that was well known, no problem there.

But apparently linking God and Hitler was offensive enough to get McCain to do something, even if he was clearly pissed and annoyed at having to do so, enough to take a cheap shot at Obama, who had nothing to do with it whatsoever.

Then Hagee pulled the old, "You can't fire me, I quit." gambit and "un-endorsed" McCain almost simultaneously.

Sen. McCain had courted Hagee assiduously for months, even making a special trip to appear next to and proudly and heartily accept Hagee's ringing endorsement.

And his courtship of Mr Hagee is also well documented. Addressing his Christians United for Israel Church last year, he thanked the pastor for his "spiritual guidance to politicians like me", saying that "it's hard to do the Lord's work in the city of Satan". That would be Washington DC, of course.

But true to form, when finally forced to disavow this lunatic, McCain only got nasty and surly and tried to take a slap at Obama by saying that he didn't attend Hagee's church for 20 years, as Obama had Wright's.

No, but Obama never called Wright his "spiritual guide" either. Nor did he make a huge effort to get and enthusiastically accept Wright's endorsement for political purposes.

This of course, is only the start of the obvious lies and distorted non-sense that will likely make up nearly the entirety of McCain's campaign. After all, what's he going to argue? The war? The economy? Health care? HA! Nope, low, nasty, ad hominem cheap shots while avoiding the issue at hand will be the order of the day.

In Obama's remarks about McCain's affinity for whack-job preachers, Obama said it would be ridiculous to try to suggest that McCain shared Hagee's bizaro world views. For those who might not recognize it, that's a politician being honest and honorable.

But McCain by contrast, couldn't resist taking cheap shots at Obama and continuing to desperately try to tie Obama to Wright in the old "Hey! Look over there!" tactic so popular with the right every time they get exposed. (it only took them what, 6 years to almost stop blaming Clinton for their every failure.)

Frankly, between Obama being guilty of simply appreciating and enjoying the community of an entire church who's preacher said some controversial things a handful of times out of literally thousands of sermons, and McCain purposely, actively, seeking out someone's explicit endorsement for political purposes, (while apparently attending no church whatsoever regularly) is an argument McCain shouldn't want to start.

Obama didn't seek out Wright's endorsement. As a matter of fact, he distanced himself from Wright from the beginning of the campaign. Obama never sought to use Wright as some sort of political feather in his cap, courting those who were close adherants of Wright, but McCain certainly endorsed a nut-job like Hagee by actively seeking to be associated with him and his followers for political purposes.

For all the hot air over Wright, McCain clearly loses the battle of the preachers.

And McCain has still another lovely preacher who wholeheartedly endorses him, Rev. Rod Parsley.

McCain calls Rev. Parsley "one of the truly great leaders of America, a moral compass and spiritual guide."

But Rev. Rod has some, er, peculiar views as well.

Reluctantly, McCain finally had to cut old Rev. Rod loose as well, but again, not until several weeks had passed where this guy's reckless, insane, and hateful ideas were known.

Then there's the completely over-blown mean-spirited tantrum McCain threw in response to Obama merely questioning why a war-hero like himself wouldn't support a G.I. Bill. (Which passed the Senate with the help of Republicans by a veto-proof 75-22 margin.)

Where was McCain? Too busy out doing fund-raisers in California. He skipped out on the vote, such a maverick that he couldn't even be there to cast his "nay" vote.

Obama wondered aloud why McCain wouldn't help support the troops with this much needed measure, which extends to current vets much of the benefits which were given to WWII era vets, such as a college education after 3 years of military service.

"I respect Sen. John McCain's service to our country," Obama said on the Senate floor this morning. "He is one of those heroes of which I speak. But I can't understand why he would line up behind the president in opposition to this GI Bill. I can't believe why he believes it is too generous to our veterans. I could not disagree with him and the president more on this issue."

McCain flew into a rage at the mere thought that this whipper-snapper would dare question him on ANYTHING, and, rather than answering for his truly bizarre stance against the G.I. Bill or explaining why he opposes it, resorted to truly ugly personal attacks on Obama, suggesting that because Obama didn't serve in uniform, he therefore has absolutely zero right to wonder why McCain the war hero refuses to support the G.I. Bill that Obama and nearly every other Senator supports.

A blogger on the Houston Chronicle site laid out McCain's nasty tantrum of a response and added his own dead-on comments:
"It is typical, but no less offensive that Senator Obama uses the Senate floor to take cheap shots at an opponent and easy advantage of an issue he has less than zero understanding of. Let me say first in response to Senator Obama, running for President is different than serving as President. The office comes with responsibilities so serious that the occupant can't always take the politically easy route without hurting the country he is sworn to defend. Unlike Senator Obama, my admiration, respect and deep gratitude for America's veterans is something more than a convenient campaign pledge. I think I have earned the right to make that claim."

First of all Sen. McCain, how do you know the difference between running for president and serving as president? Have you been president before? Then, talk about cheap shots, McCain makes the usual Republican slam that Democrats are anti-military. Same old, same old.

More from the press release:

"I take a backseat to no one in my affection, respect and devotion to veterans. And I will not accept from Senator Obama, who did not feel it was his responsibility to serve our country in uniform, any lectures on my regard for those who did."

Let’s beat that dead horse again, John. If you didn’t serve in the military, you can’t comment on military matters. Yawn. By the way, I don’t recall Sen. McCain making those same remarks about those in the Bush administration who were so gung-ho about going to war in Iraq. Maybe I missed something.

McCain then went on to describe the differences in benefits proposed by Sen. Webb and those he would prefer. In a nutshell, McCain would not like to see the benefits be so "generous" as to lessen the re-enlistment of our soldiers, what he calls "retention." I don’t know about you, but I don’t think it is possible to be too generous to the men and women who have served so valiantly in Iraq. They deserve everything they get, and more.

Sen. Lindsay Graham, who played his usual Charlie McCarthy to McCain’s Edgar Bergen, said the same thing about the bill hurting re-enlistment rates. Don’t these vets know we have many more wars to fight, how dare they want to leave the military and go to college. How selfish can they be (sarcasm intended).

McCain’s press release closed with this:

"Perhaps, if Senator Obama would take the time and trouble to understand this issue he would learn to debate an honest disagreement respectfully. But, as he always does, he prefers impugning the motives of his opponent, and exploiting a thoughtful difference of opinion to advance his own ambitions. If that is how he would behave as President, the country would regret his election."

No Senator, I believe the election the country would regret would be yours.

I would only add that McCain trying to attack Obama for "taking easy advantage" of the issue and "taking the politically easy route" and dismisses Obama's support for a G.I.Bill as "convenient campaign pledge".


This from a guy who proposed a "gas tax holiday" that was so irresponsible and costly that there was not one economist in the country who supported it? Scolding Obama for supposedly making a "convenient campaign pledge"?

McCain does exhibit a sense of humor, though all too often it reveals his truly mean streak. But recently I thought he was pretty funny when a late-night talk show host asked him if he knew what his Secret Service code name was. McCain replied, "Probably "Jerk"."

I think by the end of this campaign, the entire country might end up referring to him that way.

A dose of reality

You really owe it to yourself to read Sen. Biden's editorial in the WSJ in response to Joe Lieberman's previous piece there.
On Wednesday, Joe Lieberman wrote on this page that the Democratic Party he and I grew up in has drifted far from the foreign policy espoused by Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John Kennedy.

In fact, it is the policies that President George W. Bush has pursued, and that John McCain would continue, that are divorced from that great tradition – and from the legacy of Republican presidents like Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Sen. Lieberman is right: 9/11 was a pivotal moment. History will judge Mr. Bush's reaction less for the mistakes he made than for the opportunities he squandered.


At the heart of this failure is an obsession with the "war on terrorism" that ignores larger forces shaping the world: the emergence of China, India, Russia and Europe; the spread of lethal weapons and dangerous diseases; uncertain supplies of energy, food and water; the persistence of poverty; ethnic animosities and state failures; a rapidly warming planet; the challenge to nation states from above and below.

Instead, Mr. Bush has turned a small number of radical groups that hate America into a 10-foot tall existential monster that dictates every move we make.

Someone PLEASE get the hook

I'm wide open. Someone, anyone, please please please explain to me ANY logic that can be used with a straight face to explain why Hillary Clinton is still tilting at windmills and chasing ghosts?

Can anyone venture an opinion as to how, by any stretch of the imagination, it still makes sense for Hillary to continue this doomed race?

Her thinking out loud and revealing that she's seriously thought of the prospect of Barack Obama being assassinated as her big break shows me that she's just... not right.

What the hell is going on? Doesn't she have to drop out or risk becoming an utter disgrace?

This is a transcript of Clinton's remarks to the editorial board of the Argus-Leader of Sioux Falls, S.D.

This is the most important job in the world. It’s the toughest job in the world. You should be willing to campaign for every vote. You should be willing to debate anytime, anywhere. I think it’s an interesting juxtaposition where we find ourselves and you know, I have been willing to do all of that during the entire process and people have been trying to push me out of this ever since Iowa and I find it...

EB: Why? Why?

I don’t know I don’t know I find it curious because it is unprecedented in history. I don’t understand it and between my opponent and his camp and some in the media, there has been this urgency to end this and you know historically that makes no sense, so I find it a bit of a mystery.

EB: You don’t buy the party unity argument?

I don’t, because again, I’ve been around long enough. You know my husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere around the middle of June

EB: June

We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. Um you know I just I don’t understand it. There’s lots of speculation about why it is.

Listen, it's going to be terribly sad when Hillary has to bow out.

Won't someone please stop her from making it tragic as well?

May 16, 2008

What do you expect?

Reporters asked Davis to diagnose [the Republican] party.

"Well, this is the floor," Davis said, stomping on the concrete beneath him. "And we're underneath the floor." Without strong medicine, he said, Republicans will lose 25 seats in November. "We're the airplane flying into the mountain."

"The Republican brand is in the trash can...if we were dog food, they would take us off the shelf."

- Rep. Tom Davis, former GOP House leader

And then there's this:
A new poll suggests that President Bush is the most unpopular president in modern American history.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Thursday indicates that 71 percent of the American public disapprove of how Bush is handling his job as president.

"No president has ever had a higher disapproval rating in any CNN or Gallup Poll; in fact, this is the first time that any president's disapproval rating has cracked the 70 percent mark," said Keating Holland, CNN's polling director.

Nixon at his lowest never achieved that distinction.

Well, wud'ja expect? It's not like we didn't try to get you to open your eyes.

When you support, defend, and excuse gross incompetence, fool-hardy and failed right wing ideology-based policy, and have supported, defended, and excused a president whose idea of personal sacrifice in solidarity with the thousands of grieving families facing life without their loved ones because they were riddled with shrapnel or otherwise slaughtered while following Bush's orders, is to........ give up his golf game and seriously act like that pretty much makes it even on the sacrifice front. (and then lie about when he quit playing on top of it.)

What, seriously, did you expect? That the American people would forever be content to swallow all the bullshit and ask for more? That you could keep them in a state of perpetual fear and ignorance? That they'd never figure out what some of us have realized for years and years?

That this country is lead by a party of crooks, liars, and incompetents who don't care for our soldiers, don't care about anyone that makes less than a million or so a year and is willing to give a slice of it to them, and couldn't care less about stuff like the Bill of Rights or the Constitution, treaties, and "quaint" stuff like that if it gets in the way of their lust for power and control.

Overshadowed by John Edwards' endorsement of Obama (along with NARAL and the United Steel Workers) was something that is causing Republicans to do something they've avoided for 8 years at least, namely, face the facts. (of course, all the Repubs who've already up and quit to land in cushy lobbying jobs like Trent Lott were ahead of the curve.)

One fact that has their bowels tied in knots is that another Democrat won election in a district that had been solidly Republican for decades, the third in a row.

First a Dem handily took away Denny "The Neckless Wonder" Hastert's seat in Illinois, then damn if another Dem didn't win a seat in a redder than red district in Louisiana, and by gum, just the other day, a Dem won a solid Republican seat in Mississippi.

What's going on there boys? All this talk about race and how Obama can't get the vote down south and so on? Why in the last two elections in the deep south, the Republicans thought it was real smart to try to hammer the Dem candidate by associating them with Obama.

Dang if they didn't get elected anyway. Go figure.


I figure you'd be soiling yourself too if you were a Republican. Let's face it, the only arrow in their quiver is to go ugly, go negative, make shit up and try like hell to play on people's ignorance, racism, and irrational fears. The politics of divide and conquer.

They've been playing that note so long (with a lot of success) that they just don't have a Plan B.

So when their ol' reliable is shown to have no effect, almost as if these Dems have some sort of kryptonite shield that bullshit attacks bounce off of, why, these ol' boys are gettin' plenty nervous.

If they can't count on their true base, morons, then they know the jig is up. It's their worst nightmare.... that people have finally figured out that the Republican emperor has no clothes.

Even in the solid south, light bulbs are going off in people's heads at the sad, rather frightening realization that, yes, they really ARE just as bad as that nagging voice in your conscience has been trying to tell you all these years.

You've seen it, you've heard it, but somehow O'Reilly and Limbaugh and Hannity kept convincing you not to believe your lying eyes. Well, believe 'em.

It's hell when people realize you've been lying to their faces and playing them for fools for years. Not pretty.

Republicans themselves estimating they'll lose 25 seats in the house alone? I think it will be more than that. I'd bet on it.

Gee, it must suck to be a Republican who's thumped their chests and mocked and ridiculed all the people who were right about this war and this administration. It was only yesterday these sorts of brownshirts were screaming "un-American" and accusing anyone who pointed out what a lying scam artist Bush was or who dared call attention to the fact that the war was a scam based on outright lies of "hating America" or "hating the troops".

Do you really feel good about being such scuzzy, pompous, uninformed dupes now that the lies you choose to cherish and defend, the very lies that people like myself and others you so lazily choose to pigeon-hole as "the radical left" or other similarly ridiculous and utterly false labels have been proven to be right all along?

I'm going to enjoy watching this house of fraud called the Republican party disintegrate. Couldn't happen to a better bunch of folks. I wonder if I'll be able to resist the temptation to behave as arrogantly and ignorantly cock-sure of myself as they have all these years? I suppose only towards those who, like those die-hard Japanese soldiers holed up in caves on tiny Pacific Islands who kept fighting WWII long after it was over, try to continue to defend the indefensible.

I only feel bad for those sincere Republicans who never fell for the rancorous and poisonous hate-based ideology and rhetoric, the slime-ball politics of fear and division of the bastardized union of neo-con loons and "Christian" right charlatans who have destroyed the party and left the world much worse off for their having ever gotten near positions of power.

I might even make it to the Mark just to hear Sheryl Crow sing the words that have never been more true or more fitting for this country.... "A change.... will do you good."

May 14, 2008

All good

Maybe our democracy will make it afterall. This is one encouraging sign.
Surveillance. Rendition. Torture.

By many measures, the Bush administration has been bad for civil liberties.

Yet the past seven years have been particularly good for the American Civil Liberties Union. National membership in the organization, which fights for freedom of speech and religion, equal protection, due process and privacy, has doubled since Bush took office in 2001 - an extraordinary spurt of growth for the 88-year-old institution.

Newton had it right, for every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction.

May 11, 2008

Well, ya can't argue with that..

When Hillary Clinton declared recently that she's got "a broader base", I found myself thinking, "Well, ya got that right!".

Then I felt a tinge of guilt, but it went away.

And I'll feel sincerely sorry for her when she eventually bows out as well.

If anyone was born to campaign, it's the Clintons. And Hillary has had the near-tragic fortune to have gotten better and better on the stump as her chances of actually winning grew smaller and smaller.

I don't like her statements and the tactics she's employed, but then again, she's backed against the wall and faced with either blasting away with both barrels or watching it all slip away.

I'm sure that a part of the Clintons are frustrated beyond measure by the restraint they have to show in deference to the likely nominee.

I know they both want to see a Democrat win, and I also suspect that if this were a general election rather than a primary, they'd be employing a scorched earth policy that would likely leave Obama so bruised, battered, exhausted and confused that he'd be toast.

The fact that they have to pull their punches while watching their chances slip down the tubes has got to be a fate worse than death to two people so super-humanly devoted to winning elections, and with super-human amounts of stamina, drive, and always committed to keep fighting tooth, fang, and claw until someone (always them, so far) emerges the winner.

I realized recently that if Hillary goes down, it would be the first defeat for either Clinton since Bill lost his second bid for Arkansas governor (which he won again the next election.)

There's got to be a part of Hillary deep down that wants to show her husband what she can do as President. Maybe to get back at him in a way... maybe just from having to sit by most of the time while her husband was President, and having everything she tried to do as first lady dumped on and dismissed, and failing herself at the politics of health care reform.

I'm sure she's got a laundry list of things that she's carried around ever since that gives her an incredible inner drive to get back in the White House and do it right this time.... to REALLY put her stamp on things and accomplish goals that she (and the majority of Americans) believe are badly needed.

I have no doubt that she's driven by firmly held goals she wants to accomplish which she feels would help the country, and help the majority of its citizens, rather than the plutocracy, which have helped themselves without restraint for far too long now.

She's done OK at articulating those goals, but I'm sure that we don't know the half of it. Both Clinton's are devoted policy wonks, happy to plunge into the often arcane nuts and bolts of various programs and how to fund them, etc.

I have no doubt that Hillary would be excellent at domestic policy. In that respect, I'd be happy were she to be vice-president, though it appears that chance is zero to none.

If Clinton finally bows out, and it appears that she'll have to sooner or later, even if it's two minutes after Obama clinches the nomination, there will be a huge degree of sadness from many, including myself, that this valiant woman, possessing so much intelligence, energy, vision, and talent, capable of doing much good for this country and her people, will not get to realize the dreams she's clearly been working toward for several decades of her life.

It's never enjoyable to see someone get so maddeningly close to such a lofty and difficult goal, only to fall short by relative inches.

Despite the goofy polls which have gotten the pundits in a tizzy showing that Obama supporters won't support Hillary and Hillary supporters won't support Obama if either emerges the nominee, and even more goofy, the large number who supposedly say they'd vote for McCain rather than the other Democrat, I have no fear.

First, while it's amply demonstrated on a daily basis that yes, Americans ARE just that ignorant, short-sighted, shallow, and plain stupid, I still refuse to believe that any significant number of voters who supported Hillary, even passionately, would be so smack-ya-in-the-forehead stupid as to actually vote for McCain out of spite or sour grapes.

As I said, people are very, VERY dumb, but seriously, that would take the cake.

What kind of person could possibly support Hillary or Obama and their policy positions (pro life, anti-war, for universal health care, and on and on) and then decide to vote for someone who's the polar opposite simply because Hillary didn't get the nomination?

When you step back, the difference between Hillary and Obama is almost negligible as far as policy matters. If the political spectrum were a football field, Hillary and Obama would be between the 10 and 20 yard lines and McCain down the field and somewhere in the opposite end zone. There's a hell of a lot of difference between the clearly failed and destructive policies that McCain clings to and a return to sound, practical, policies that serve the people who pay for it all rather than the top 1%.

Assuming the people responding to these polls are even marginally rational in their decisions, (by no means assured.) that leaves only one ugly conclusion, that if these people actually would vote for McCain rather than Obama, given how far from Hillary McCain is positioned, the only possible reason must be ugly, irrational, flat-out racism. And that may explain Hillary's recent comments and their attempt to tout her strength with "hard working white voters".

(As to the issue of Hillary's recent statement regarding her strength with white voters, I don't think she was being racist in the slightest, as some try to suggest. I DO, however, think she knew exactly what she was doing, namely driving a wedge of race into the matter, and she isn't above cynically exploiting it (or anything else for that matter)).

Let's see, where was I? Oh yeah, I'm supremely confident that the much hyped splintering of Democrats and more importantly, independents and "Obamacans", won't happen on nearly the scale breathless Republicans and pundits suggest.

I think there will be an overwhelming outpouring of good feelings towards Hillary when she concedes, for all the reasons above, and the fact that there's NO ONE who can ignore just how tough, how tenacious, how hard she's battled and never given up and never given in, and frankly, for the reasons so many like her, that she's at heart a decent human being who truly has devoted her life to making life better for millions of people. All the cynical and calculating, phony and pandering moves she's made will be forgotten and forgiven nearly instantly.

The moment she makes a speech in which she extols Obama and her commitment to doing everything in her power to help him get elected, and the moment they appear on stage together and hold each other's hand above their heads, there's going to be such a rush of excitement and electricity that nothing will stop it.

That moment, that image, the new face, full of the promise of a new way of politics as we know it, and the devoted and worthy opponent who fought so valiantly and so hard, the face of the "old", an icon of the political history of this generation, embracing the new.

I'm telling you, McCain won't have a prayer, and they'll know it. And since they can't even compete on issues or policy, they'll uncork one of the most disgusting and slimy gutter politics campaigns ever seen.

And the public will get sick of it and it will blow up in their faces, and Obama will cruise to victory and Democrats will pick up large majorities in both houses.

It's a new day coming.

Republicans, we've got a few hundred tons of your "Get over it"'s to throw back in your faces. Turns out we're about to "get over it", just hope it's not too late to save the democracy.

Just like clockwork: Republican Family Values case #499277

Goodfella Vito Fosella, you may remember him from his frothing indignation and condemnation of President Bill Clinton for having such low moral character, shows he's a normal Republican liar and raging hypocrite.

Maybe in the future, I could save time and just report the sanctimonious figures in the Republican party who AREN'T some sort of adulterer, homosexual, pervert, predator, sexual deviant, or other sort of degenerate.

Looking back, I think we might have begun to wonder why it was that although Fossella has been in Congress for more than 10 years, he did not seem to have a Washington address. Really, that’s a little long to crash with friends.

Fossella has embarked on a series of mea culpas, beginning with a drunken driving incident that set the whole crisis in motion. “As a parent, I know that taking even one drink of alcohol before getting behind the wheel of a car is wrong,” he said. This was actually one of those nonapology apologies, since “taking even one drink” does not have much relationship to attaining a blood-alcohol level twice the legal limit.

His adventures began last week with a White House party to celebrate the New York Giants’ Super Bowl victory. (Although that triumph feels as if it occurred six years ago, the Bush administration was a little slow in taking note.) The congressman continued partying. He was arrested in Alexandria, Va., around midnight after going through a red light and failing the recite-the-alphabet test. (Fossella appeared to have trouble deciding exactly where “H” goes.)

He told the police officer that he was on his way to take his daughter to the hospital, which did not seem like a good plan from the daughter’s perspective. Then he summoned a friend, in the form of Laura Fay, a retired Air Force officer who plunked down $2,500 to spring the man who, we would discover, was the father of her child and a familiar sight to the neighbors of her nearby home.

Not only a sanctimonious and phony hypocrite and adulterer, but stupid to boot.

May 8, 2008

Squirrels will make you nuts

Have you ever had squirrels in your garage?

Don't have squirrels in your garage.

I finally got a chance to get out and mow the yard today. A fine day; cool, sunny, and with a bit of a breeze. I'd been dreading doing it, but now I looked forward to it.

First I should mention that my mower has never failed to start after a few easy pulls... ever. Even the first try after a long winter. And I don't drain the tank every season or get new gas in the spring. Maybe I've just been lucky. But it's roared to life like a champ every single time for more years than I can remember.

So I go out and move a few things to get it out of the garage and stoop down to raise the garage door. It goes up about a foot and a half and clunk... it stops dead.

What the hell? I try to put it back down again so I can look through the windows and try to see what's hanging it up. But it only goes down about 6 inches! I pull it up, it stops dead. I push it down, it runs into something else.

Truly, it has never been asked more earnestly, what the hell??

So I raise it up until it stops again and pause to assess the situation.

I finally get down on my hands and knees on the concrete (in shorts, naturally) and try to smush myself under the gap and crank my neck around to see if there's anything up near the ceiling stopping the door.

I can't see anything obvious, so I push in a little more and then spy the problem.

The pull cord, the little thing that allows you to disengage the door from the electric door opener if you need to raise the door manually, has somehow been looped around the track on the ceiling, not once, but twice.

The sliding shuttle that the door opener chain attaches to to raise the door would only go back along the track so far before the cord would cinch tight around it and stop it dead.

Well, that explains the why, but how? How the hell did that cord get looped around there? Twice! It's hanging in the middle of the ceiling, for God's sake, with nothing around to climb to it.

But obviously I had to get all the way inside in order to un-mess it up. (somehow)

So in I crawl, my back scraping along the bottom of the door, only to notice that I'm crawling on my hands and bare knees through a mixture of charcoal briquettes and broken shards of glass.

Now short of burning coals, I highly recommend this mix for filthiness, pain, and minor flesh wounds if you're really looking for something to crawl over. To demonstrate their undying devotion, some may say they'd gladly crawl over such things on their hands and knees for the one they love. Me? I get to do it to open a garage door.

And the more I peered into the gloom as my eyes adjusted to the dimness, I could see that squirrels had literally shredded, gnawed, and pretty much knocked down everything remotely possible, including a box containing some old cocktail glasses that were in there for God knows what reason, as well as having completely chewed through a bag of charcoal and spewed the black dusty nuggets all over.

Not only that, but I could hear the furry devils scurrying around the far end of the garage. Damn their tiny hides!

Here I am, wedging my way under the garage door with my ass sticking out, (Neighbors across the street were out doing yard work, naturally.) beginning to sweat and trying to pick my way through the glass and charcoal, trying to get my body all the way inside while keeping blood loss to an acceptable level.

I finally squeezed in and was able to gingerly stand up as the destructive little rodents continued to scurry around unseen, wreaking their havoc. I looked around to find something I could reach the little pull cord with in order to untangle it, and luckily (my only spot of luck) found an old broom. As I was about to begin, I looked straight ahead and found myself eye-to-eye with one of the brown devils. It looked to be an adolescent from it's size, and was no doubt affiliated with some squirrel gang by the looks of him.

I made some sort of ridiculous noise to try to frighten it away, but as if sensing just how nonthreatening and impotent I was, he (or she) just continued to look past me as if I wasn't there. I muttered a few inspired oaths and proceeded to un-loop the pull cord.

Clearly, the damn rodents had somehow managed to climb up on the garage door track suspended from the middle of the ceiling, (HOW??!!) and had PURPOSELY batted the cord around until it was looped twice around the track, thus ensuring (or so they thought) that I couldn't get in. Well, they obviously didn't know who they were messing with, damn it.

I HOPED that untangling the cord had solved the problem, but the way things were going....

I pulled on the door and it glided all the way open. (Whoo hoo!) Things were looking up for the moment. I’d conquered the squirrels at their own game. Flush with pride and relief, I could now mow the damn grass.

No sooner had I got the door opened than another of the furry rats from hell appeared no more than a couple feet to my left. "GET OUT OF HERE!" I shouted in a hoarse whisper (no use having the neighbors hear me apparently standing alone yelling at inanimate objects, right?)

The stupid thing was literally sitting at the doorway of the garage, one leap and he'd be outside. I made a move towards it to finally drive him out, and what did it do?

It twisted around and jumped down a tiny gap between something and the garage door track and RAN BACK INTO THE GARAGE!

I mean, he was out in the open FOUR INCHES from being out the door, and he decided to double back. What is WITH these things? Every critter from a gnat to a moose runs for freedom when startled. Not the squirrels in my garage. Ridiculously dumb rodents doing all they can to frustrate me. It's MY garage, damn it, not theirs.

Well, to hell with them, I'd have to deal with them later. (I can't wait to see how THAT turns out.)

So after picking up the pieces of Styrofoam cooler and boxes they'd chewed to bits and trying to pick up the bigger shards of all the broken glasses, I managed to pull the mower outside.

Now, at last, I can at least get the yard mowed. No stinking squirrels are going to stop me, damn it.

I pushed in the choke and gave the starter cord a few pulls, and nothing. Well, it must be out of gas. I went to take off the gas cap and noticed that the hard plastic cap looked like a damn beaver (as opposed to a beaver dam) had been going at it! It had all sorts of scrapes and something had gnawed it almost completely through!! What kind of maniacs are these damn squirrels?

I looked the mower over and saw that they'd also gnawed on just about every plastic bit they could. Why in the world they'd do that, I'll never know. It's not like it was soft plastic, and they'd obviously spent hours chewing the hell out of it. I couldn't believe it.

But at least they hadn't damaged anything on the mower to the point it wouldn't work.

Now where did I put that gas can? Oh, there it is.

I looked down, and had to blink a few times. There was my red plastic gas can... with two big holes chewed in it! Yes, boys and girls, the squirrels had CHEWED TWO LARGE HOLES IN A GAS CAN WITH GAS IN IT.

If any naturalists can explain that one to me, I'm all ears.

One thing seems certain, squirrels must get off on gas. Either that or the one who chewed into the gas can was the squirrel equivalent of wildcatter and they'll soon be zooming around in little squirrel SUVs.

The hole above is the larger one and is big enough for them to climb through, though it would no doubt mean certain death.

There's another hole on the other side in nearly the same place that's a little smaller. Why in the hell would they spend all that effort to chew two holes, and one that big, in a gas can? Wouldn't you think the fumes would have knocked the damn thing out before they got that far? Very strange.

At this point I'm beginning to feel like I'm in a bad movie. My knee is bleeding and my hands and knees are black from charcoal, I'm sweating, and sincerely wondering if this is all really happening of if someone is going to pop out with a video camera and announce it's all a big joke as the squirrels emerge grinning to be revealed as trained participants in the ruse.

At this stage I was pretty determined to get the damn grass mowed, since it was apparent that someone was REALLY trying to make it difficult and I tend to take that as a challenge.

So I began to pour gas into the mower's tank, and of course, the largest hole in the gas can was situated where the gas would pour out of it before it came out the spout.

No problem. I just tried to hold the palm of my hand over the ragged hole and pour carefully.

It worked. It worked in that much of the gas actually got into the tank. Of course, the rest drenched my hand and arm and pooled on the concrete. (I reminded myself that accidentally erupting in a fireball about then would really be pretty fitting, and to try not to do anything to help the comedy of errors along if I could avoid it.)

Now... at last, can I mow the damn grass? Never have I had to work so hard to be able to do work that I really hate to do.

So I opened the little gas valve on the gas line, pushed the choke in, and pulled.

And pulled.

And pulled.

And pulled.

Then stopped.

Then pulled again.

And again

And again... and well, you get the picture. I yanked the HELL out of the thing, and nothing. Not a sputter, not a belch, nothing.

Gas was fairly streaming out of the little gas valve, which I didn't like, but oh well. I'd live with it if it would just start like it ALWAYS has in the past.

But after a while of yanking like a madman, I realized that this year would be different (as if that wasn't already quite clear.)

I checked the spark plug wire, which I knew wasn't the problem, but couldn't think of anything else. It wasn't loose. I pulled out the choke in case it was flooded and pulled and pulled. Nope, no luck.

Maybe..... the spark plug had finally fouled? Could be. I sure didn't have any other bright ideas.

As luck (yes, there's a little luck in this) would have it, I'd bought a spark plug for the mower like about 8 years ago, and the truly miraculous part was, I still knew exactly where it was!

I fetched it and then went to grab my socket wrench set. I was almost positive it had a spark plug socket (a deeper socket to reach over the insulator on the plug).

I knew where that was too. Or I thought I did.

Long story longer, I spend a very long half hour searching for the damn socket set in several places and never did find it. So I dug out an array of unsuitable tools and hoped one would work. I had a little crescent wrench, channel lock pliers, and a pair of small vice grip pliers.

Again, I got a little lucky and was able to loosen the old plug with the channel locks, and man was it crudded up with gunk. Maybe I was on to something after all?
But then I noticed that the new plug didn't look like the old one, and was a different part number. But the new one said it was for small engines... Oh what the hell.

I put the new one in, even though I didn't have a gap tool to set the gap (and I had no clue what the gap was supposed to be anyway. Maybe the new one was set close enough.)

The new one went in easily and I snugged it up and then went to try to start it filled with the audacity of hope.

You can pretty much finish the story by now, can't you? I mean, of course it didn't start. Of course I stood there yanking on it as if it would roar to life on the 74th pull when it hadn't done anything on any of the previous 73.

I checked the engine a little closer to see if the squirrels had eaten through the spark plug wire, but couldn't detect any damage.

My only conclusion was that maybe the gas was bad? (the thought crossed my mind that the squirrels had probably thought it would be funny if they peed in it.)

But this means I have to somehow get the gas out of the (now full) tank, and I don't have any bright ideas on how to do that short of trying to siphon it. And I also haven't a clue what to do with it once I get it out. You can't just dump gas down the nearest drain, you can't take it back to the gas station, and you can't put it in a jar and store it, and it can't be good to just throw on the ground somewhere. What the hell do you do with it? With gas prices what they are, maybe I could give it to someone as a gift?

And so it goes. My grass is getting longer as we speak. The mower sits like a useless carcass. The squirrels are still in the garage no doubt, tearing to shreds everything they can get their little beaver-like teeth into, and I still have no clue why my mower won't start.

Maybe the squirrels ate the carburetor?

May 7, 2008

Time to break out the rest of the Crown Royal

Well, tonight we've come from behind, we've broken the tie, and, thanks to you, it's full speed onto the White House.

Uh, not so fast there Hill...

It's over. Done. Kaput.

Even though some pundits acted like they just couldn't bring themselves to say it, and some actually acted as though you still have a chance somehow, the fact remains that as of this morning, there is no possible way you can best Barack Obama in any of the reality based measures which humans use to select their choice of leaders.

And even though some pundits haven't figured it out yet, even if you were given all the Florida delegates and votes you say are due you, and even if, as you shamelessly demand, the votes and delegates from Michigan are awarded to you even though you ran a one person race there without Obama's name appearing on the ballot, for God's sake, YOU STILL COME UP SHORT.

That's the bottom line. Under none of the myriad and every-changing ways you've tried to slice and dice and julienne the way you demand people choose their candidate, you CAN'T win. It's time to go back to your "just folks" mansion in Chappaqua.

Well, there IS one way left where you might pull it off. And that's if you can con, bribe, or otherwise threaten enough super-delegates to vote against the will of Democrats across the country and select you over Obama. End of story. Or at least it should be.

You might want to hunt up the rest of that Crown Royal that you downed in your "just folks" offensive.

I, on behalf of long-suffering Dems everywhere, issue this humble plea: won't someone PLEASE get the hook? It's time for Hillary to accept her parting gifts and walk off stage.

Speaking as a person who has had great admiration for Clinton for decades, but has seen that support and good-will all but vanish in the face of her patently phony and cloying performance as of late, I couldn't be happier with Tuesday's results in Indiana and North Carolina.

Needless to say, it was certainly disappointing to see Hillary squeak by Obama in Indiana solely on the basis of Republicans who crossed over to vote for her, either due to the fact she acts so much like Bush politically, or simply to mess with Democracy, since after all, that seems to be their favorite hobby these past 8 years.

I was disappointed to watch Hillary steadily, almost daily, do and say and propose things that revealed her as a phony, pandering, duplicitous, double-talking, and frankly, dishonest politician.

Some mistake this as her being a "fighter". Nah. It's just that she's willing to twist and/or spin things shamelessly and seems to have no line which she wouldn't cross in order to win.

While it's impossible for me to not feel some form of empathy for her doomed campaign as far as her personally, she couldn't bow out soon enough if she did it week ago.

Hillary is tenacious. She's a model of a person who sets her sights on a goal and pursues it with singular devotion and focus, who works three times as hard as the average human and who voluntarily invites microscopic inspection and public scrutiny and all the horrible unfair attacks and smears it invites.

For that, she still has my admiration... or perhaps rather it's awe, kind of like looking at some exotic animal that can do things far beyond the ability of humans. I do admire her drive, but that's tempered by the fact that I'm not sure what's behind that drive, a desire to fix everyone's problems, as she proclaims, or simply a lust for position and power or a chance to one-up her husband, who knows?

What I do know is that she clearly has shown herself as the type of politician, or rather a practicing precisely the sort of politics that has driven millions of Americans into strong support of Obama in the hopes that we can get away from it once and for all.

Hillary will say anything. She'll ape McCain by jumping onto the ridiculous and counter-productive "gas tax holiday" that anyone with a few firing brain cells can tell is nothing but a step backwards disguised as somehow addressing the concerns of "real" Americans, while putting tens of thousands out of work, neglecting maintenance and construction of crumbling infrastructure, and in the end benefiting individuals to the tune of a half tank of gas over the summer.

Thank goodness Obama had the wisdom to refuse to fall for this crap and called it the way it was. Watching Hillary's performance when George Stephanopolis asked if she could name one economist who supported her plan was enough to make George Bush blush. A more evasive and B.S. laced response couldn't be imagined.

She and her campaign later tried to suggest that economists don't know what they're talking about and that government has made policy decisions based on economists recommendations in the past that turned out poorly.

Sounds even stupider than Bush. "We don't need no steenkeen economists!"

And the recent concerted attempt to woo the very people who had attempted to destroy her and her husband without conscience for decades, spending hundreds of millions and blatantly lying about them in ways only the worst slime could dream is troubling and in a sense, unforgivable.

Sure, she's trying to woo moderates or independents that might be dumb enough to watch Fox News, but when Richard Mellon Scaiffe and Rupert Murdoch think you're just peachy and endorse you, anyone supporting Hillary had better stop and think.

There's been a clear attempt by various right wing figures who lead their right wing lemmings around by the nose to urge a campaign to support Hillary.

Gee, that must be because they feel she'd make the best president, right?

Or could it be that they think she'd be the easiest to beat?

And really, if either were true, isn't that a pretty good reason to reject Clinton?

Add to that the fact that she's gotten more campaign millions from big Oil, banking, insurance, and various other corporate coffers than even McCain, money which is from the very forces that have successfully prevented the very health care reforms and environmental and energy policies Clinton tells us she'll accomplish, and it's clear that Clinton is nothing but more of the same, just in a pants suit.

Sure, she'd be worlds better than any Republican, a vastly superior president than John McCain.

But if you desire any sort of change from the same old "leadership by bullshit" we've all suffered from for so long, then be glad when Clinton finally is hauled off the stage by several burly stage-hands kicking and screaming.

I just hope she stops campaigning after Obama is inaugurated.

With the revelation this morning that she'd loaned her campaign several more million, I imagine she'll be campaigning long enough to try to make that back at least.

As for the suggestions that she might be Obama's vice-president, I wouldn't have a problem with that. But I'd sure hate to be Obama's food taster.

May 4, 2008

A clear understanding of the Rev. Wright issue. Those stuck on stupid avert your eyes.

(Warning to Mowen. This piece has lots of words and contains rational thought. Leave now or you'll hurt yourself.)

Many of you have asked for some rational explanation for Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s transition from reasonable conversation to shocking anger at the National Press Club. A psychologist might pull back some of the layers and see this complicated man more clearly. But I’m not a psychologist.

Many black preachers I’ve known, scholarly, smart, and gentle in person, uncorked fire and brimstone in the pulpit. Of course, I’ve known many white preachers like that too. But where I grew up in the south before the civil rights movement, the pulpit was a safe place for black men to express anger for which they would have been punished anywhere else. A safe place for the fierce thunder of dignity denied, and justice delayed.

I think I would have been angry if my ancestors had been transported thousands of miles in the hellish hold of a slave ship, and sold at auction, humiliated, whipped, and lynched.

Of if my great-great grandfather had been but 3/5th of a person in a constitution that proclaimed, “We, the people”.

Or if my own parents had been subjected to the racial vitriol of Jim Crow, Strom Thurmond, Bull Connor, and Jesse Helms.

Even so, the anger of black preachers I’ve known and heard about and reported on was, for them, very personal and cathartic. That’s not how Jeremiah Wright came across in those sound bites or in his defiant performances this week.

What white America is hearing in his most inflammatory words is an attack on the America they cherish and that many of their sons have died for in battle – forgetting that black Americans have fought and died beside them and that Wright himself has a record of honored service in the Navy.

Hardly anyone took the “chickens come home to roost” remark to convey the message that intervention in the political battles of other nations is sure to bring retaliation in some form, which is not to justify the particular savagery of 9-11, but to understand that actions have consequences.

My friend Bernard Weisberger the historian, says, yes, people are understandably seething with indignation over Wright’s absurd charge that the United States deliberately brought an HIV epidemic into being. But it is a fact, he says, that within living memory, the U.S. Public Health Service conducted a study that deliberately deceived black men with syphilis into believing they were being treated, while actually letting them die for the sake of a scientific test.

Does this excuse Wright’s anger, his exaggerations or distortions? You’ll have to decide for yourself. At least it helps me to understand the “why” of it.

But in this multi-media age, the pulpit isn’t only available on Sunday mornings. There’s ‘round-the-clock media, the beast whose hunger is never satisfied, especially for the “fast food” with emotional content.

So the preacher starts with rational discussion, and after much prodding, throws more and more gasoline on the fire that will eventually consume everything it touches.

He had help. People who for their own reasons, set out to conflate the man in the pulpit, who wasn’t running for president, with the man in the pew, who was.

Behold, the double-standard.

John McCain sought out the endorsement of John Hagee, the war-mongering, Catholic-bashing Texas preacher, who said the people of New Orleans got what they deserved for their sins.

But no one suggests John McCain shares Hagee’s delusions, or thinks AIDS is God’s punishment for homosexuality.

Pat Robertson called for the assassination of a foreign head of state, and asked God to remove Supreme Court justices, yet he remains a force in the Republican religious right.

After 9-11, Jerry Falwell said the attack was God’s judgment on America for having been driven out our schools and the public square.

But when McCain goes after the endorsement of the preacher he once condemned as an “agent of intolerance”, the press gives him a pass.

John Stewart recently played a tape from the Nixon White House in which Billy Graham talks in the Oval Office about how he has friends who are Jewish, but he knows in his heart that they are, “undermining America”.

This is crazy.

And wrong.

White preachers are given leeway in politics that others aren’t. Which means it is all about race, isn’t it. Wright’s offensive opinions and inflammatory appearances are judged differently.

He doesn’t fire a shot in anger, put a noose around anyone’s neck, call for insurrection, or plant a bomb in a church with children in Sunday school.

What he does is speak his mind in a language and style that unsettles some people, and says some things so outlandish and ill-advised that he finally leaves Obama no choice but to end their friendship.

Politics often exposes us to the corroding acid of the politics of personal destruction. But I’ve never seen anything like this.

This wrenching break between pastor and parishioner – both men no doubt will carry the grief to their graves.

All the rest of us should hang our heads in shame for letting it come to this in America, where the gluttony of the non-stop media grinder consumes us all, and prevents an honest conversation on race.

It is the price we area paying for failing to heed the great historian Jacob Burckhardt who said, “Beware, the terrible simplifiers.”


-- Bill Moyers
"Bill Moyer's Journal" May 2, 2008