July 31, 2008

What is the point to all of this crap?

Behold the frenzy based on one unverified, second-hand quote from one columnist....

Is this the result of McCain trying to work the refs and whining that the old man isn't getting enough coverage? So the press has to grasp at any ridiculous tid bit and try to take it seriously in order to avoid seeming "partisan" towards Obama? Is this all they have to work with on Obama?

McCain should thank his lucky stars that the press largely doesn't fixate on his mutliple flip-flop-flips and stunning mistakes, but yet there they are, every single day, seemingly trying to come up with yet another way to come across as some cranky, bitter, jealous old man who's pissed off that some wipper-snapper is actually more popular.

It's over. I think McCain has morphed into Bob Dole.

Think about it. Two elderly Republicans who'd been jumping at the presidency and failing for decades, they finally find their "in", get the nomination largely on the idea that it's simply their turn, they both are horrible campaigners, their policy ideas are unpopular at best, and mainly consist of continuing to do whatever benefits the most wealthy in the country, and screw the rest of you, they both think that all they need to do is say, "Hey, I'm a wounded war vet." and they'll win the election. Neither of them has/had a coherant reason for being president, or any clear message or vision of where they wanted to take the country.

And both revealed themselves to be cranky, bitter, old white guys with nothing to offer except carping about the young guy and trying to spread slime about them.

At least Dole had a genuine sense of humor that didn't betray an underlying callousness and mean-spiritedness like McCain.

But it's beginning to look like Dole all over again. Only McCain might do worse if he and his campaign can't find anything else to do but spout far-fetched and downright goofy bitches about the guy who offers a new course.

Sen. McCain, the Viagra ad people are on line two.

July 29, 2008

Davenport native is now McCain's closest advisor

I belatedly got around to reading a recent Newsweek magazine and came upon a piece by Howard Fineman about John McCain's closest advisor, Mark Salter. Salter's name is familiar to me as the source of several particularly venomous and dishonest statements which attack and attempt to demean Barack Obama.

Much chatter on blogs of both political leanings have suggested that Salter would be McCain's Cheney, running the country while Grandpa gets in his naps.

The piece reveals that no one is closer to McCain than Salter, except perhaps his wife, having devoted two decades to McCain's career, so it was a bit of a shock to find that Salter was born and raised right here in the Quads, a fact that has apparently has escaped the local press.

Mark Salter calls himself a "friend" to the presumptive GOP nominee, but that doesn't do their relationship justice. He's McCain's speechwriter, former Senate chief of staff, coauthor, biographer and closest adviser; amid the campaign's recent internal tensions, Salter's place at McCain's side has never been questioned. ("The only person closer to McCain is his wife," says former senator Warren Rudman, a longtime friend to both men.) McCain and Salter are stylistically similar and share a world view: they like to operate in intimate settings, with a loyal band of brothers, a clear enemy in sight and an almost joyful fatalism in the face of long odds. Which is a good thing, since they're up against an opponent, Barack Obama, who so far seems more deft, organized, popular and blessed by destiny.

Salter, 53, comes by his love of grit and combat honestly. He grew up in modest circumstances in Davenport, Iowa, the son of a traveling salesman and a teacher. His father had been an Army hero in Korea. Educated in Roman Catholic parochial schools, Salter became rebellious (a streak shared as a youth by the man who would become his boss). He skipped college to work on Iowa railroads and sing in a rock band. After four years, his love of literature and history drew him to local night-school classes and then to Georgetown University. He gravitated to politics and got a job writing speeches for the iciest of cold-war warriors, U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick. At the 1988 GOP convention in New Orleans, a chance meeting with Torie Clarke, McCain's press secretary at the time, turned into a late-night drinking trip to a Cajun juke joint in a dicey part of town. She invited him to write speeches for McCain.

Quite an impressive resume, to be sure. If only he hadn't ended up on the wrong side of history this time around. But hey, even if McCain tanks, there's still that summer home Salter was able to buy on the coast of Maine with the book royalties from writing McCain's popular autobiography, "Faith of My Fathers", for which he got an unusual 50/50 split of the profits.

The Wall Street Journal has a piece here on Salter's attack-dog role in the campaign and describes Salter thusly:
McCain Chief of Staff Mark Salter has been with the candidate the longest of the five senior advisers on the campaign. He has been the senator's speechwriter, top adviser and confidant for two decades. He co-authored Sen. McCain's two memoirs, and is the chief creator, shaper and enforcer of the politician's image.

Salter (left) on campaign plane with McCain and super-lobbyist and McCain campaign honcho Charlie Black (unless McCain has dropped Black since then... can't remember.)

Photo below from Newsweek. Salter is on the left. Below that is shot from New York Times. (click photos to enlarge)

Does anyone know Mark Salter or remember him from his days in the Quads? This Jake Tapper piece in Salon reveals that his father's name was Peter Salter.

July 24, 2008

McCain vs. reality

If you can't dazzle them with briliance, baffle 'em with B.S., or so the saying goes.

Apparently this is the essential tenet of the McCain campaign. Really, what else can they do? Argue for more of the same? Good luck.

Sen. John McCain appears bound to come out of this race with his reputation much lower than when it began. His so-called "straight-talk", if it was in the past, has become nothing but inartful and stumbling attempts to fast talk his way out of his repeated mistakes and attempts to deceive American voters.

It's painfully clear though his near daily whoppers and mistakes, and through the fact that even his newly re-jiggered campaign seems as desperate and out-there as ever, that McCain may go on to make the Bob Dole campaign of '96 look brilliant by comparison.

The latest from Mr. "Straight Talk" himself is the effort to treat us like morons and try to conflate and confuse the "surge" to mean essentially everything that's ever happened for the better in Iraq.

McCain has tried to say it happened before it actually did, then that it didn't, and then in a breathtaking exhibition of sheer double-talk, tried to suggest that there was actually a "surge" before the "surge".

Here's the challenge. Watch this report from "Countdown", in particular the clip of McCain trying to "clarify" his remarks (as he so aptly stands in front of a wall of cheese.) and then explain to me just what this "straight talk" means.

Really, just how sad is the McCain campaign when they're forced to resort to arguing endlessly over whether someone supported something that even Grandpa Munster seems hard pressed to even identify. To quote the pitifully delivered catch phrase from McCain's greatest speech, "That's not change we can believe in. (strained chuckle, wooden grin.)" (By the way, this vid still cracks me up, watching right wing commentators left stunned after the speech.)

Feel free to leave your thoughts on this, particularly if you actually think you can make a case that McCain has any clue what the hell he's talking about.

THIS is the guy that's supposed to be such an "expert" on war and foreign policy? He makes it up as he goes along!

After watching McCain's tortured answer in the clip above, I can't help wondering if he took lessons from this famous orator.

July 23, 2008

Katrina at the marina

Moline's Marina was hit dramatically by Monday's winds, tearing the canopy completely off the row of slips which berthed the largest yachts in the harbor and draping it over boats in the next dock and the harbor office. The winds tore 3 more canopies off some smaller slips on the north east end of the marina and deposited them over a fence and into the adjacent parking lot, one wrapping itself around a light pole, leaving the area looking like it had been hit by a mini-Katrina.

And again, if you're in the Pat Robertson/Falwell/Hagee camp, believing that God uses weather events to punish those he doesn't like, you'll have to explain why God hates rich people so much that he'd damage the slips holding the largest boats and spare the smaller ones. Why does God hate very wealthy people? And why would God, who of course is a Republican, do damage to the yachts of the wealthy, (and white ones to boot!) whom God favors and as we all know, are possessed of high moral values??

I bet one of those yachts was owned by a gay. That must be it.

But the bright side is that they now have that excuse they've been waiting for to buy a bigger boat.

Click pictures to enlarge

The canopy was torn off one row of slips and landed against the sterns of the next row. Quite the mess. The city of Moline and it's citizens will now have to pay for the clean up it's assumed since it's now city property.

Note that the metal wasn't torn off, but rather the entire canopy, wood spars and all, were just ripped out. The inflatable dingy didn't fare too well either. But it's still afloat.

A large hunk was deposited over the marina maintenance building and a Cherokee parked next to the building.

The large canopy used to cover these boats. Note in the foreground the blue angle irons that hold the remains of the spars. One is snapped off and the other broken and knocked over. And the pot of geraniums in the lower right is still sitting there as if nothing had happened. I noted that a house less than 300 ft away had a Cubs flag in a holder by their front door, and it didn't get blown off or broken. An omen?

The entire dock had been pulled sideways collapsing the first slip (which was presumably unoccupied) Remains of the spars and torn up planks remain. The boats show no visible damage, probably due to the fact that the canopies were pulled up and off without hitting them. If you look closely (click to enlarge) you'll see a couple of guys sitting calmly on the "Dolphin", the boat at the end of the dock. They were the only people there, even several hours after the storm had passed.

The storm didn't leave the boats lined up too well after it tried to turn the dock into a parasail.

This boat managed to wedge itself firmly sideways in it's slip, pushing out the docks on either side.

The covers to three smaller slips blew off, over a fence, and wrapped itself around this light pole, carrying with it remnants of a boat's power line.

Pieces of the canopies were strewn to the east of the marina.

Tree vs. cars redux

Here's a few more shots of the mangled cars at the apartment house off 60th street in Moline after a tree crew had begun uncovering them.

Shots from just after it happened are found a couple posts under this here.

Remember, click on the pictures to see them better.

This little red truck got considerably little-er.

The tree shoved these two cars together and mashed 'em up good. Two really nice cars too. A fairly rare supercharged Buick Riviera in nice shape, and a shiny Acura 3.5 RL. What a shame. Ouch!

One resident I spoke to owned a brand new 2008 Scion sedan which was parked to the right of the Acura and suffered a couple dents and a broken window. He was taking it remarkably well though, for having a tree fall on his brand new car. When I mentioned this, he looked on the bright side, at least his car was still drivable and able to be repaired, not totaled like the others.

The Acura's insurance adjuster (peeking in the passenger door) was there to inspect the car after it was uncovered. The 20-something guy who owned it was there too, looking understandably traumatized. About the only thing he could salvage was a little GPS unit holder that stuck on the dash. But at least his insurance guy was quick to assess the damage. Now how long until the check arrives?

This is (or was) a Honda. That's about all I could tell. Looks like they won't have to bother sending this one through the machine that flattens scrap cars.

This was what it looked like driving down 60th street to John Deere Road shortly after the storm. It was fairly typical of a lot of roads with trees and power lines fallen into the roadway and debris everywhere.

Share your stories and what damage you saw or experienced.


MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell, apparently excited to be asking a question of Barack Obama at a press conference in Jordan yesterday. Wonder if Andrea's husband, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan will accuse her of "irrational exuberance."

I know it's not that cold in the desert in Jordan.

And you, the guy next to her, what are you lookin' at?

As always, clicking on picture takes you to a larger version.

Downed power poles along 41st street near MHS

News Channel Dope offers these stills from a video shot while driving past several downed power poles on 41st street in Moline just east of Moline High school. (the video was too large to upload... maybe if I break it up I can post later.)

Several power lines were draped across the street and there was a strong odor of oil, likely coming from ruptured transformers lying in the street. The area was closed to traffic shortly after this clip was shot (with a regular camera) at around 7:00 a.m. Monday.

July 22, 2008

A bit breezy

Hey! A new low-rider!

I'm sure this Chevy can haul a lot of lumber... but this is taking things a bit too far.

For more images of the crushed cars after crews had cut away most of the limbs, see post above.


Dope Manor was without flowing electrons for 33 hours and 5 minutes, due to the rather breezy conditions early Monday morning. Power just went back on about 10 minutes ago, and it's nice to be reconnected to the wider world again, and to not have to strategize about where to score the next round of ice to preserve the lucky refugees from the fridge.

SOME of you (grrrrrrrr) may have been lucky enough to have never lost power. So to those folks, it seems like no biggie. But this is the longest I've gone without power in about, well, several decades, and I can tell you, it sucks. Bad.

It's boring as hell, which is probably the worst aspect, and then there's trying to save food, hunt for ice, and repeatedly flipping on light switches when you enter darkened rooms (you're in the dark to begin with) and then feeling like an idiot. for doing it AGAIN. Arrrrgh! I think I did it about 10 times. Did any of you beat that?

I have a lot of pictures, as I ended up going out and about shortly after the storm ended. I had no clue as to the severity of the storm or how widespread the power outage was, and was just curious to see how many people were without power, thinking it was probably only the neighborhood.

The further I drove, the more it became apparent this wasn't an ordinary thunderstorm. A tree had fallen across a busy street, limbs and clusters of leaves everywhere, and then power poles and lines down and draped across roads.

Then reports started to trickle in through the car radio. 94 mph peak gusts recorded at the airport, Milan hit hard, John Deere Rd closed due to power lines down and laying across the road, and the Moline Marina having several of the slip roofs ripped off and scattered around like pieces of aluminum foil.

I have a LOT of pictures and a video clip or two.

For starters though, a few shots of the parking lot of a small apartment complex on the east side of 60th Street in Moline just south of 34th Avenue.

An enormous old oak, which turns out to have been hollow as can be, toppled over directly across a line of 6 cars, as if intending to do maximum damage.

If you're a fundy and think like Pat Robertson or Rev. Hagee and think God controls the weather according to whether he's pissed at people or not, then this apartment complex must have been a pit of depravity and sin. But somehow I doubt it.

You literally had to hunt for the cars among all the limbs and leaves.

The tree was big. (click to enlarge)

There's a Honda in there.

And this was a nice Acura...until the tree decided to come in through the back window and out the side.

This area was particularly hard hit, all along 34th avenue and to the south to John Deere Rd. from about 41st street over to Black Hawk College.

This was the scene directly next door to the crushed vehicles.

More stuff later after I get things put back together around here, including shots of the marina, a clip of the multiple power poles down across 41st street just east of Moline High School, and various scenes from the aftermath.

In the meantime, share your experiences with the storm. How long was your power out? (and if it's still out, I guess you wouldn't be reading this.) How did you while away the hours without any modern conveniences or the flow of drivel from the tube? What damage did you experience, if any?

July 17, 2008

Really, do we want a president who knows the difference between countries that do or do not exist?


Caught by Nooncat, bank clerk breaks out of cone of silence on secret bank accounts in Lichtenstein and fingers wealthy tax dodgers, triggers investigation to include the bank McCain's chief financial policy advisor lobbys for.

Poor Grandpa McCain. People are now getting on his case simply because he is in the habit of not only making stupendous and disturbing blunders when he speaks, but makes the same mistakes repeatedly, even after they're pointed out.

Of course, the guy who professes to be a foreign policy "expert" clearly didn't know the difference between the two factions warring in Iraq. (Sure, lots of people don't know the differences between Sunni and Shia, but are these people running for president as a seasoned expert on the situation?)

He got them all mixed up several times to boot. Not really conducive to confidence.

He's bollixed up several other things that even casual observers or marginally well-informed people realize are dead wrong.

His latest? Continually referring to a country which hasn't existed for about 10 years, Czechoslovakia. (Those paying attention may recall that it peacefully split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia 15 years ago after the fall of the Soviet Union, which McCain has also referred to as if it still existed.)

Some cynics might take all this as evidence that McCain either A. Doesn't really know what the hell is going on, but just tries to pretend he does. Or B. McCain's brain is turning into Swiss cheese, or as one surrogate put it, he's having some "senior moments".

Now I'm sure that McCain is just as well-versed in foreign policy as the myth his campaign tries to enforce. It's just that he's not so hot on things that have happened in say, the last 35 years.

McCain, when asked, revealed that he still doesn't know how to get on "the internets". He has staffers do it for him.

Word is that they'll soon introduce him to CB radios and then work from there.

I have every confidence he'll get it eventually. Maybe by the time he's 97. Which isn't that far off, my friends.

Even his top surrogates are acting a bit odd.

Carly Fiorina, the perfectly coiffed disgraced and fired former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, was on "Meet the Press" last week.

She was asked about McCain's long-time pal, Phil "Deputy Dawg" Gramm, former Texas senator turned lobbyist for gigantic Swiss financial concern UBS Warburg, a company who collaborated with the Nazis and which the FBI is investigating for costing the U.S. billions in taxes by providing tax evasion schemes to wealthy Americans.

Gramm by all accounts was the prime shaker responsible for pushing massive deregulation in the financial sector which allowed the mortgage crisis to occur. As you know by now, Deputy Dawg, sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars himself, lectured us peons, telling us all that the dire financial threats we face is, in fact, all in our heads, and we should just shut up about it.

Since McCain has admitted that he really doesn't "get" economics and would rely on advisers, and that Gramm is his sole economic advisor, this reveals the "let them eat cake" philosophy we'd get in a McCain administration. This doesn't play too well in Peoria. (or anywhere else.)

So Fiorina, in her carefully crafted low tones (what is it with these creepy people who talk so softly? Cheney, McCain, Fiorina? When they start that soft, fake reassuring tone, you know they're lying.) attempted to dismiss this story by condescendingly reminding moderator Tom Brokaw that "the people" really don't care or even listen to surrogates of the candidates, they're more concerned with what the candidates themselves have to say.

Brokaw, to his credit, immediately reminded Ms. Fiorina that she herself was a campaign surrogate, and that he hoped people would listen to what she had to say.

And this is the woman that they trot out as their best surrogate?

Ever get the creeping suspicion that the goal of the McCain campaign really ought to be just to keep it from being too large a blow-out in November?

July 16, 2008

Inside Dope International

Despite the constant comments from various haters out there who seem to enjoy telling me how no one reads the blog anymore, it appears that it does get noticed by a few.

Take France 24, a mega news site similar to CNN (only better) covering international news and affairs based in Paris, France.

Out of hundreds of thousands of blogs and comments on the New Yorker Obama cover story, they picked The Inside Dope's to feature in their piece on the issue.

Not the biggest deal in the world, but I'm appropriately humbled.

And not only that, but Sophie, the author, was kind enough to ask if she could use part of the post before hand. Gotta love those French.

This isn't the first time TID has been linked to and quoted internationally, but it's nice to be noticed in Paris.

So to my little haters out there, on behalf of the rest of us, SUCK IT. And I mean that only in the best way.

July 14, 2008

Stuck on Stupid

I always vacillate on these stories, wondering whether to even give them any further attention when they're already getting attention 388,277 times what they deserve to begin with.

But this strikes me as so emblematic of just how dumb, just how silly, and just how incestuous and lazy our press corp truly is.

First of all, as you've no doubt seen about a mungogingdillion times already, the New Yorker magazine, a magazine known for it's wry and satiric covers, hit the stands with this.

THIS is what the entire press decided was BIG NEWS. That alone is pretty pathetic.

When I saw it for the first time,(of about 82) I thought it was very clever. I got a laugh out of it, it was funny and made a great point. I loved it. I still do.

It's very clever, I particularly got a kick out of how the artist perfectly captured the tilt to Michelle's head as she gave Barack the "terrorist fist jab", and it only got funnier as you noticed all the elements, the AK-47 draped over Michelle's shoulder, the portrait of bin Laden, the turban, the combat boots, and the little flag crackling in the fireplace. Funny stuff, and finally something that puts all the right wing insanity firmly where it belongs; in the comedy category.

The whole thing is perfect, to my mind, and effectively skewers and exposes the bone-headed, over-the-top craziness that the right has labored mightily to spread about the Obamas.

Then began the onslaught of stupidity and trademark phony outrage oozing out of my TV.

The cover, most said, was insulting, not funny, offensive, even racist. (!?)

Huh? What are these people smoking? I mean, even accounting for different tastes, how could they look at this and NOT GET IT??

The mere fact that the New Yorker has had to repeatedly explain to people that this is SATIRE, and that it purposely depicts something ridiculous and preposterous as a means of mocking and demeaning those who either believe or continue to spread such ridiculous and preposterous notions about the Obamas, is pathetic.

Just how stupid are we anyway? Do we really NEED to have anyone explain to us, as if we're just dirt stupid, that this is meant as satire? Apparently the pundits think we do.

And even then, many choose to take the offended path, expounding about how it's "tasteless", "crude", "offensive", and so on in the now familiar language of fake outrage that's been so overused as to have nearly lost all meaning.

How could anyone such as Chris Matthews actually get all upset about this cover? He tried to do the outrage thing, but his guests, being sane, pointed out that it's just satire and he had to cool his sputter a bit.

But then he uncorked the argument that really sent me around the bend. He tried to argue, as others have as well, that the cover is irresponsible and offensive for this reason: That there's still a large number of people out there who polling shows still believe some of the crap that the cover was specifically lampooning, namely that Obama is a secret Muslim, Michelle is some 60's radical, blah, blah, bleech.

The argument goes that you shouldn't put out a cover like this because it might just reinforce the smack-your-head ignorance of those fine folks who are so mind-bendingly gullible that they'd believe any of the ludicrous crap addressed in the cover.

What a colossally stupid and ignorant argument, and on so many levels.

First of all, just how many of these fine people who are so ignorant and backwards that they still believe Obama's a Muslim and the rest of the lies... READ THE DAMN NEW YORKER MAGAZINE???!!!!! For that matter, how many of them have ever HEARD of it?

Answer: ZERO... none. Zip.

How many of these folks (who we'll refer to as troglodytes or "trogs" for the sake of brevity.) would have seen this cover if these story-starved wretches in the press hadn't piled onto it like a starving dog on a porterhouse steak?

Answer: See above.

So we have Matthews et.al. arguing, while showing the cover approximately every 3.5 seconds, that the NEW YORKER is to blame because some idiots might take it, not as satirizing the ridiculous falsehoods about Obama and his wife, but as confirmation of them.

There was Matthews, showing the cover over and over dozens of times to an audience hundreds of thousands of times larger than the magazine's circulation could ever hope to reach, jumping on the magazine for spreading the image. Anyone see a problem there?

Consider this: If the trogs Matthews and others are so concerned about already believe such garbage, how in the hell is a relatively small circulation magazine's cover going to change that?

The answer is painfully obvious, it couldn't. Unless of course TV media spread it around 24 hours a day and devote hundreds of hours of airtime to it. This irony is lost on these pundits apparently. I guess none of them had the spare nanosecond it would have taken to figure this out.

Then there's the fact that the New Yorker caters primarily to very literate and "intellectual" readers, "sophisticated" people, so to speak, primarily urban. They already support Obama. They "get" the satire. (except those so painfully liberal their eagerness to be offended has snuffed out their sense of humor and irony.)

So this condemnation rings more than hollow. It's ridiculous.

This isn't like the USA Today printed the thing on their front page, for God's sake.

The entire matter is SO dumb and SO overblown that I'm convinced it's just evidence of media incest. The pundits like The New Yorker, and they know that hyping the story will only drive sales and amount to millions of dollars worth of free advertising for the magazine. Plus it's media gossip. They can't resist.

This (funny) cartoon cover doesn't even begin to approach anything offensive enough to warrant the coverage it's gotten. The only reasons I could conceive of for why the press went nuts over this is that it's the summer doldrums in the news business. Not a lot of juicy stories out there. Gotta grab whatever floats by.

Of course there are hundreds of critically important stories out there, but they'd require work to report. So let's all get excited and try to manufacture some controversy where there's little to none. They've been doing this on nearly a daily basis.

They're all far too concerned about the ins and outs of the publishing/media world, and so to them this is juicy gossip indeed.

"Oooooooooo. Look at that cover! If you squint your brain real hard, you can see controversy! See??!! I'm going to pronounce this offensive because that will make me appear sensitive (and it's the safest thing to do. When in doubt, feign outrage.) and because if I say it's perfectly harmless, there's a chance that maybe it really IS offensive and I'll get condemned and bloggers will say nasty things about me."

Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, double ultra dumbness.

Here's a weird notion, apparently to the pundits. The New Yorker magazine apparently chooses it's content based on it's readers. Imagine that!! It publishes stories and articles, and yes, covers, aimed at people who actually READ THE MAGAZINE.

If it weren't for the 24/7 media freakout, do you imagine there would be any regular readers of the New Yorker who actually WOULDN'T get the blatant in-your-face satire, and not know exactly what it was satirizing?

But the pundits, howling in outrage, demand that the New Yorker (and others it's presumed) now base their editorial decisions based on the chance that every bone-head in the country might see it (with of course the pundits help) and not publish anything that the very dumbest among us may not understand. Brilliant.

To me, the idea that a magazine or writer or news program or whatever should be expected to pull back on any story, idea, picture, or program that may conceivably offend some group or another is deeply wrong.

If there's any "offense" to be legitimately taken from this tale, it's the suggestion that somehow the New Yorker should have spiked the cover because of the risk some cracker in Bugtussle, KY who thinks the Obamas are some forin radiculs might get more stupid notions in his or her head. They're already there! (and of course, Cletus and the missus subscribe to the New Yorker, natch.)

There's already an army of pundits roaming the earth out there, ready at the drop of a hat to spin like their lives depended on it (well, their fat checks do.) and lie, lie, twist, lie, twist, distort, invent, imagine, embellish, pervert, and "interpret" the truth and reality in order to mislead the public on behalf of their benefactors.

But now these same spinners are condemning the New Yorker because their cover could be "interpreted" the wrong way. It's enough to make your head hurt.

And there's an offensive and arrogant attitude contained in Matthews and other's stupid argument against this cover. Their argument reveals that they believe the American people, by and large, are so God-awful STUPID and ignorant that merely being exposed to this cartoon (like they would have if not for this massive coverage.) might cause them to believe the very hogwash the cover is mocking.

I can't say that I'm 100% sure that many Trog-Americans aren't pretty much just that dumb, ignorant, and chock full of lies, dumb fear, bigotry, and right wing slander and propaganda.

The American people made the election so close in 2000 that it allowed Bush, Inc. to steal the White House, and their lies and deceit helped him squeeze back in in 2004, with the help of millions of Americans. Just those facts alone serves as confirmation enough that the average American wouldn't know the truth if it bit him or her in the ass. (and it's not all his or her fault, seeing as they're fed nothing but garbage and trivial distractions by the media day in and day out. There's already millions of people who've realized they can better rely on foreign press sources to get actual information about our government and politics.)

So there you have it. The New Yorker Obama cover is "offensive". Why?

Americans are too dumb to handle a BLATANTLY satirical cover, these handsomely paid wise men and women opine. (as are many pundits apparently.) They can't be trusted to "get" even the most broad and obvious satire, and are actually so painfully and achingly ignorant that they might have their political views erroneously shaped by this CARTOON cover. (On a magazine they not only would otherwise have never seen, but have probably have never heard of.)

So.... the New Yorker should have never printed it, being as they must consider the most ignorant of ignorant readers every time they go to print and not risk them being too stupid to "get it".

Yep. And there's been vastly more print and more airtime devoted to this "story" than anything in Iraq or Afghanistan, anything about where the candidates for president want to take the country, or anything else occurring in the world.

Because the pundits are stupid, or short of that, think YOU'RE very stupid indeed.

And the worst part of this story? The Obama campaign FED RIGHT INTO THIS, by issuing a statement which aped the outrage angle, completely ignoring the blatant satire and humor of it all and the fact that the cover was actually helpful to Obama's cause, not harmful.

Now by issuing an official statement calling it offensive and tasteless, they are in essence doing this: Calling anything that refutes and mocks the idea that Obama is a terrorist loving, flag-burning Muslim and his wife a militant radical, "offensive".

By condemning the cartoon, or pretending not to see the clear point contained in it, the Obama campaign has given validity to the very propaganda that they so need to stamp out.

Pretend for a moment you're a Trog. (and if my right wing stalker is reading this, you don't have to pretend.) You see this uproar, see the cover, and then hear that Obama has come out and been indignant and offended and condemned the cartoon.

To your mind, it's as if he's simply pissed that it came too close to the truth!

If there were no truth to the ludicrous notions depicted in the cover, (there isn't.) then wouldn't it have been more rational to laugh along with it, to acknowledge the satire, acknowledge the fact that these notions are out there about Obama, and issue some mild statement saying that while the image depicting a Muslim as loving bin Laden and burning the flag is offensive, that the cover serves as an apt reminder of just what ridiculous lengths the right has gone to promote such falsehoods and just how laughable they are.

Obama has acknowledged that he's confronting these smears and that certain people still believe them. Why then, did he pass up a perfect chance to magnify them and expose them as laughable falsehoods?

This would have been a PERFECT opportunity to dispel the myths by LAUGHING at them. They deserve to be laughed at, and with this elevated to the head of every newscast and on every pundits lips, what better chance to elevate these notions and those who continue to try to spread them as the jokes they deserve to be?

They completely passed up a golden opportunity. A bad call by the Obama campaign in my judgement, and one which only made them appear overly sensitive, almost defensive, about the truly laughable rumors that they supposedly want to eliminate.

This cover is a service to the Obama campaign, and they respond by dumping on it.

Truly stupid, inexplicable, and a blown opportunity by the Obama campaign in my opinion. But when you're in the middle of a stupid storm, maybe it's hard to avoid getting wet.

July 13, 2008

A clear trend of cluelessness

From Paul Krugman's blog at the New York Times:
Dean Baker points us to John McCain saying that
"Americans have got to understand that we are paying present-day retirees with the taxes paid by young workers in America today. And that’s a disgrace. It’s an absolute disgrace, and it’s got to be fixed."
As Dean correctly points out,

Of course present-day retirees have always been paid their benefits from the taxes paid by current workers. That has been true from Social Security’s inception.
I’d guess that there are three things going on here.

First, McCain has no idea how Social Security works. That may sound hard to believe, but not to anyone who has spent any time in or around the federal government. Politicians, by and large, get where they are mainly by looking and sounding good; this may or may not go along with any actual understanding of governing.

Second, McCain lives in the Washington bubble; and as I wrote a while back,
Inside the Beltway, doomsaying about Social Security — declaring that the program as we know it can’t survive the onslaught of retiring baby boomers — is regarded as a sort of badge of seriousness, a way of showing how statesmanlike and tough-minded you are.

Finally, McCain has surrounded himself with people who hate Social Security. They probably tell him that it’s a doomed Ponzi scheme, and he believes them.

July 10, 2008

If I didn't know the result, it would be funny

Should we cut this guy some slack? Leave him alone? Give him some respect? Feel sorry for him?

Well.... Hell no.

If it wasn't for thousands and thousands killed and maimed, and many more around the world and in this country impacted negatively for generations to come from his actions in office, the guy would be hilarious.

But check this out, and then tell yourself this is the guy the Republicans thought was selected by God, and who scared the Democrats into giving him literally every single thing he wanted for 7 years, including only this week.

Catching up

Been caught up around the Manor and haven't done much posting lately.

Partly this is due to the surreal nature of most of the campaign coverage lately. When things are slow, the media beast still must be fed, which results in them seizing on the most ridiculous things and inventing conflict out of thin air at times.

So without ado, here's a quick skim of a few things that struck me as actually important within the past week or two. You have permission to leave your comments about any or all of them.

- McCain doesn't work weekends. It was revealed that McCain had done a sum total of exactly ONE campaign event on the weekends the entire campaign. Ready on Day One... as long as it's not a Friday afternoon, Saturday, or Sunday.

- McCain tries to paint Obama as a "flip-flopper" who can't be trusted, when McCain actually pulled the ultimate flip flop, voting against HIS OWN immigration bill. This was rarely mentioned.

- McCain campaign shake up. McCain, the "maverick" brings in more Rove protegees and vets from the Bush White House to try to steady his completely rudderless campaign.

Rumors go forth for one news cycle that McCain might even bring in his former campaign manager Mike Murphy. This scared me for a while, as Murphy really knows his stuff and is not a Bush Republican, but a practical guy who would no doubt make McCain a much tougher candidate to beat.

So it was with great relief that I heard it reported that the Rove boys on the campaign nixed that idea.

- Obama caves on FISA bill. This is inexplicable, other than a gross pander to try to show he's no "liberal" and give him some immunity from being painted as "weak on defense" somehow. This is the same motivation that has caused the Dems to essentially agree to every last thing Bush has asked for, and has done immeasurable damage to our country, our security, our economy, our long term economic health, our reputation, and most importantly, done real harm to our constitutional rights.
Really inexcusable and indefensible.

- McCain reveals inner ugliness with "jokes". First it was "bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran", now some utterly vicious remark about cigarette imports to Iran...."Maybe that'll kill 'em" (creepy chuckle) This isn't a joke, as to be a joke, something has to be funny. And the fact that McCain both thinks it's funny, and thinks other people will find it funny too is a good glimpse into his very ugly mindset.

This sort of thing is very stupid on another level as well, as we don't need another idiot leader who's prone to saying stuff which only inflames hatred against us and reveals them to be crude and bloodthirsty.

I'm sure the Iranian citizens, utterly innocent, are glad to hear this creep make a crack inferring that anything that kills them would be a good thing. This guy doesn't deserve to be within 5 miles of the White House.

- McCain campaign ad comes out and tells Americans, "Don't hope for a better life." What an uplifting message! Don't even think you have a prayer buster. As Joe Scarborough put it months ago, the McCain message is, "Less jobs, more war". How can he lose? Don't hope for a better life. Vote for McCain, and he'll provide one for you by continuing the exact policy positions and endless war that's done such wonders for the country so far. Great stuff.

Talk about hopeless.

- McCain ad tries to tie Obama "hope" and "change" to "the summer of love". Can you spell desperation boys and girls?

- Bush comes out and gives himself and McCain credit for G.I. Bill that both fought against.

- Republicans and McCain blasts Obama for vote for FISA bill... when McCain was too cowardly to even cast his vote. McCain has been absent for every controversial vote since the campaign began, yet he criticizes Obama for his vote every time.

- Iraqis: "GET OUT!" McCain was asked directly during on of the debates what we'd do if the Iraqis asked us to leave their country. He's on the record saying that if the Iraqis wanted us to leave, we'd have no choice but to leave, unless it some sort of radical government was the ones making the demand. Both the Iraqi president and foreign minister gave clear and unmistakable statements recently saying that any agreement for continuing relationships between the U.S. and Iraq must include a timetable for U.S. withdrawal at the very least.

The Iraqis don't want us there. A vast majority of Americans don't want us there.

John McCain desperately wants us there for a century or more.

The tag line from McCain's latest ad just might be the only "straight talk" you'll get: Don't hope for a better life, vote for one.

I think to most people, that clearly means voting for Obama.

July 8, 2008

Who's the hypocrite when it comes to campaign finance?

John McCain and many in the press have recently been doing the mock outrage thing about Barack Obama deciding against going the publicly financed campaign route, suggesting that makes him hypocritical. (Despite the fact that being able to raise most of his money from small donors without government contributions would seem to achieve the goal of removing big money influence, but that requires a moments thought... too much to ask.)

But while the fossil is out casting Obama as a hypocrite, he's busily figuring out ways to go up to and perhaps over the line, potentially violating the very laws he enacted to prevent corruption, in finding new and dubious ways to channel unlimited big buck donations into the McCain campaign.

While McCain is crying crocodile tears, his minions are busy mopping up big dough from big money influences. The story will continue to be that Obama has a huge money advantage, but you don't know the rest of the story.

This piece from a Newsweek.com blog 'splains it. McCain '08, the say anything express.
Last week, we wrote that despite the vast disparity between John McCain's and Barack Obama's overall fundraising total this cycle--$120 million to $287 million at last count--the Republican stands a surprisingly good chance of keeping up with his rival in the general election. One reason was the RNC. (Republican National Committee)

When you combine McCain's individual war chest with his party's bankroll, it turns out the Republican nominee has about $90 million currently burning a hole in his pocket, while Obama and the DNC weigh in at a relatively paltry $47 million, or half as much. And even though McCain has agreed to an $84.1 spending limit by accepting public funds--a decision he likes to portray as a principled stand against the corrupting influence of money on politics--at least double that sum will be dropped on his behalf before Election Day thanks to loopholes in the law that allow outside groups to effectively skirt such limits with largely unregulated "soft money" contributions.

First up: the RNC. On Sunday, OnMessage Inc., a Virginia-based company with Republican ties, rolled out a series of pro-McCain, anti-Obama television ads in the battleground states of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The energy-centric campaign--a $3 million RNC buy set to air over 10 days--is a perfect example of how, when it comes to spending, the distinction between McCain and the RNC is pretty much irrelevant. While McCain is "pushing his own party to face climate change," says the ad's announcer, "Barack Obama... just says no to lower gas taxes... no to nuclear... and no to more production." This is exactly the same (misleading) message McCain's campaign delivered in a spot released online late last month. But because McCain "had nothing do with the [new] ads," and the RNC merely funded the spots--it apparently didn't consult on content--they're subject to neither the candidate's $84.1 million spending limit nor the $20 million cap on what the party can spend in coordination with the campaign. In other words, the RNC can invest unlimited sums of money in commercials like this.

Given that GOP donors can each contribute $28,500 to the national party--or about $25,000 more than Dems can give directly to Obama--expect to see plenty more On Message-style spots before Election Day. After all, it's not like they're going to sound any different from the ads McCain would air if he could afford to.

Meanwhile, McCain campaign is stepping around federal spending limits by funneling cash through the state and national party machinery--and potentially benefiting from donations to a non-RNC organization that could boost his chances in key states.

As the Wall Street Journal reported last Thursday, the Republican Governors' Association, a GOP group unrestrained by federal spending limits because it's designed to elect governors, is now "marketing itself as a home for contributions of unlimited size to help Sen. McCain." "While using [such] a fund... to boost a national candidacy would seem to cross legal restrictions against federal electioneering," as the New York Times wrote this morning,* so far the benefits for McCain seem to outweigh the risks.

Currently, Team McCain is soliciting checks of up to $70,100 from each donor--$28,500 for the RNC, $40,000 for a quartet of state parties and $2,300 for the candidate himself. But if the Governors' Association actually works on a local level to boost McCain's bid,* even that ceiling on individual contributions--which is already high enough to ensure that the senator's publicly-financed campaign will raise about half of its money from private sources--would be shattered.

Finally, the well-funded but completely unregulated outside groups known as 527s are beginning to shell out on McCain's behalf. The operatives who bankrolled the Swift Boat attack ads against Sen. John Kerry four years ago are investing in the governors’ kitty. The National Rifle Association plans to spend about $40 million on this year’s presidential campaign, with $15 million of that devoted to portraying Obama as a threat to voters' Second Amendment rights. And just this morning the Christian Defense Coalition launched a new campaign called "Barack Obama: The Abortion President" designed to blunt Obama's attempts to make inroads with evangelicals. All of which boost McCain--without depleting his war chest.

The irony here, of course, is that it was McCain who co-sponsored the 2002 law meant to curtail the influence of wealth on presidential politics by limiting direct donations to the campaigns. Now he's the one's doing everything imaginable to circumvent the very caps he fought to create. We don't begrudge the senator his acrobatics. With Obama anticipated to raise between $200 and $300 million for the general election--much of it from his network of 1.5 (mostly small-sum) donors--it's the only way the Arizonan can stay competitive. But let's hope whoever's elected in November figures out a better way of keeping cold, hard cash from dominating our politics. That way we won't have to deal with these shenanigans again in 2012.

Making this story even more complex is the fact that Bush has left several positions on the Federal Campaign Commission unfilled. What this means is that it's unable to function. So there's no one there to investigate, sanction, or punish McCain for violating the very laws he wrote. Neat trick, eh?

July 6, 2008

Sky art

No, this isn't some strange nebula in a galaxy far, far away, but a rather interesting shot from the Bettendorf fireworks display, which was great as always. Click to view larger.

Rather than plop a bunch of pictures in this post, I tried creating an album online and threw a few up there.

Obviously a lot is lost when you see them at small size, but here's a preview. A double click on the slide show will open up the gallery. Once there you can enlarge the pictures (look for the size icons in the upper right) and play them as a larger slide show if you wish.

Let me know how it works for you.

And as a bonus, here's some video of the Grand Finale.... it was quite impressive. (Turn it up loud for full effect.)

Through the looking glass

If you ever doubted that the media in this country can and does utterly distort and literally make stuff up, this will prove it.

Bear in mind that these are the reactions, by supposedly unbiased reporters, not commentators, to this:

Bob Scheiffer reacted in a manner which clearly was meant to impugn Barack Obama in comparison to John McCain, saying,

"I just gotta say, Barack Obama has not had any of those experiences either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down, I mean...."

That was a swipe at Obama, inferring that because Obama hadn't done those things, he wasn't as qualified as McCain. So Clark responded...

"Well I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification for being president." before going on to clarify why he feels Obama has better judgement, etc.

This is clearly no outrage. It's clearly not any knock on McCain's service. (Clark SPECIFICALLY stated that he honors McCain's service and considers him a hero.)

It was simply a retort to someone suggesting that someone who flies a fighter and gets shot down is somehow more qualified to be president. They're not, necessarily, and Clark simply said so.

Josh Marshall at TPM put together a little montage to show the sheer insanity that erupted over this in the media. See if you can believe just how wrong they got it, distorting his simple statement beyond all recognition.

(Also note how, when a guy from a veterans organization tries to bring things back to reality, Laura Ingraham and her pal literally shout him down, like children plugging their ears and going "Nyaaaahhhaahhhh nyah nyah I can't hear you!" in order to avoid even having to hear the truth. They have their minds wide shut and they're damn sure not going to let anyone mess things up with the truth. Standard operating proceedure for many in the right wing media.)

Let's see, "Swiftboating" from some blockhead on CNN, "ridiculing McCain's military service", "petty and small like the man himself" from the mulitiple felon and all around twerp, Oliver North, "attacking the war record of an American Hero" from has-been congressman turned right wing b-list broadcaster what's his name, the ditz Kellyanne (who's married to one of the "elves" involved in promoting the Clinton impeachment) saying she's amazed that, "a four star general is saying that being shot at is not military service." (!) Inventing that our of thin air so that she can revert to the tedious tactic that wing-nuts go to again and again and again, and that is to try to drag "the troops" into it and cynically use them for their political purposes. "What does that say to the troops?? That their service is meaningless??" she whines.

Yeah, Kellyanne, that's what they think if they're stupid enough to swallow your twisted logic. (good lord!)

And perhaps the most truly outrageous of all, Karl "Smear Merchant" Rove, actually saying Clark's statement was "outrageous" and actually saying "shame on him.", as if Rove has EVER been capable of feeling shame. (yeah, right.) This from a guy who blew the cover of a covert CIA agent for political pay back, a guy who's fame is built on a career spent smearing people and spreading horrible lies about them with impunity. A liar's liar, pretending to be "outraged" at someone telling the truth. (Well, in Rove's world, maybe that IS an outrage.)

Just get a load of this gang, then reflect what they're doing to the Americans who hear and listen to them. Is it any wonder that right wingers seem to have only the slimmest grasp of reality?

These people aren't only liars and hypocrites and cynical manipulators of otherwise good and honest citizens, they're actively working to tear down and disinform the American people. They're professional liars, and by that I mean that they're far worse than the average garden variety political liar which has always been with us.

They actively make the American people DUMBER, and they have zero problem with knowingly lying to them as they rake in the millions for doing so.

As long as these types operate, and as long as the press is held in the hands of a few corporations, and the top media figures are in the same social circles as those in government, going to the same parties, living in the same exclusive neighborhoods, their children going to the same private schools, their careers and success depending on each other, with many moving between government and media and back again, even marrying each other, with all the decisions on whats news and what's not being in the hands of a few hundred millionaires on the east coast, then the public will never have straight information and will never know what's really going on, as this group will never turn on someone they regularly socialize with and depend on as sources.

The media is no longer a watchdog, it's a partner in power and propaganda. And that's not putting it too strongly. They'll churn out an endless river of trivial crap about celebrities or reality shows or the latest kidnapped blonde, but don't look for anything that looks too close to anything involving big money or powerful figures in government, or what's really going on while endless hours of air time are squandered on petty B.S. like this Clark flap, because it ain't gonna happen.

I say throw the bums out.

July 4, 2008

Ah, the wonders of potassium nitrate, some charcoal, and a dash of sulfur

Those happen to be the primary ingredients in gunpowder.... and more importantly this time of year, fireworks. (along with a handful of other chemicals (metal salts) to produce the colors.)

On the 3rd, I ventured out with a long-time associate of the female persuasion to check out the fireworks in Milan's Camden park. I've heard that this display is the best in the area, and had never seen it, so I was looking forward to seeing what the buzz was about.

But upon getting within a mile or so of the park on the beltway and seeing it lined on both shoulders with cars as far as the eye could see, then seeing that Rt. 67 was jammed with cars as well, my companion gave up on Milan in fears of the world class traffic jam that we'd be in afterwards, and headed for Rock Island's riverfront to take in the show from Davenport's LeClaire park.

We took a spin through the soon to be extinct riverboat casino, enjoying the boat rocking beneath our feet and burning up some money in short order. (I hadn't been in a casino in about 5 years. I don't plan to go for at least that long again. Next time, I'll just pull a wad out of my wallet and set it on fire. It's quicker, though you don't get to enjoy the ambiance of being surrounded by all the other ultimate losers.)

Got out and stood along the flood wall east of Modern Woodmen and it was a perfect spot for viewing. The night was ideal as well.

While waiting, we were admiring the ducks frolicking around the stern of one of the casino boats, when we were treated to a couple of them, er... um... wrestling. Never know when the mood will strike I suppose. The male had the upper hand, or wing, as the case may be, and seemed to be attempting to drown the female and doing quite well at it too as they bumped along the rusty hull while the female struggled mightily to get her beak above water for a split second every now and then.

But he eventually let her up. (And it's assumed, told her he'd give her a call.)

Good clean duck fun I guess. And we won't be running out of ducks anytime soon.

It was balmy QC summer evening looking like, well, like this. (In the spirit of the 4th, if you wanna blow something up... just click on the pictures.)

And it ended up looking like this...

But in between there was a lot of this...

The one above reminded me of an sea anemone or sea urchin.

Then the Grand Finale. They blowed 'em up. Blowed em' up real good.

Tonight, Bettendorf??

In your opinion, who puts on the best fireworks display in the area?