Thursday, September 30, 2010
The NYT today is officially the gossipy mother of every Republican politician, with headlines such as “GAYNOR BUSY ON ’PHONE.; Talks the Whole Evening, Perhaps to Somebody in Rochester” and “Roosevelt Early to Bed.”
The prosecution of Oklahoma Governor Haskell for fraud in the purchase of federal lands is dropped abruptly. A recent circuit court ruling had created a statute of limitations of only three years, and this particular criminal enterprise began in 1902.
The New York Democratic convention has opened, under the firm control of Tammany Hall. “The convention session meant nothing. The real convention was in Mr. [Boss Charles] Murphy’s room at the Whitcomb”. While “Four hundred and fifty sad-eyed men [were] wondering whom they were to nominate for Governor of New York”, Murphy has yet to decide which of 14 possible candidates will run in the elections – which are just 5½ weeks away. NYC’s assassinated-but-not-dead-yet Mayor Gaynor, now almost recovered enough to return to work, is the only really popular choice and therefore Murphy’s, despite his independence from Tammany control, but he has said in a public letter that he definitely absolutely does not want it and would not accept the nomination.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Very much under Roosevelt’s direction (for example he, rather than the delegates as custom dictated, named committee members), the NY Republican convention nominates Henry L. Stimson (yes, the later secretary of war under Taft, secretary of state under Hoover and secretary of war again under FDR) for governor (you’ll recall that the popular Republican governor Charles Evans Hughes is heading for the Supreme Court in a few days). The NYT criticizes TR for “advocating direct nominations in the forenoon and dictating nominations in the afternoon”. They kind of have a point.
Headline of the Day -100: “King Had to Fall Down.” Italian King Victor Emmanuel was inspecting planes at an aerodrome when someone who didn’t see him started up a plane, which started towards the monarch. He and the Count of Milan had to throw themselves to the ground; the plane just cleared them.
The first debate between eMeg and former Governor Moonbeam took place at UC Davis (Motto: Come for the dachshund races, stay for the, er...) tonight.
Whitman says putting Brown in charge of the budget is “like putting Count Dracula in charge of the blood bank.” Which was an old, unfunny joke when Dracula was still alive (1431–1476).
Brown says “we’re all going to have to sacrifice.” Meaning college students and young people who won’t be able to afford to be college students because he’ll be increasing state university fees. “But I’d say those at the top, those at the commanding heights of our economy, should tuck in their belts first.” Tuck their belts into what? Does Jerry Brown not know how belts work?
Brown was asked if he’d run for president again: “if I were younger you know I would.” So he’s saying he’s too old to be president but not too old to be governor.
Brown went on and on (as old guys will do) about why it’d be good to have an old guy as governor: “If everybody in state service worked as long as I have, the pension system would be overfunded by 50 percent, OK, and work until 72. By the way, if you elect me governor, I will not collect until I’m 76. And by my second term, I’ll be 80. So I’m the best pension buy California has ever seen.” I believe that’s his new motto.
Brown says he’d be more effective than the last time he was governor because he’s married now: “I come home at night. I don’t try to close down the bars in Sacramento like I used to do when I was governor of California.” At his age, he closes down the early bird specials.
Brown: “I pledge to the people of this state I will faithfully carry out our law on executions and I’ll do it with compassion but I’ll do it with great fidelity to the rule of law.” “Compassionate” executions. Must be what they taught him at that Jesuit seminary.
By the way, as attorney general Brown is desperately trying to get an execution under his belt, or whatever he uses to hold up his pants, before the election, but a federal judge halted Thursday’s scheduled execution because he’s not convinced that the lethal injection chemicals wouldn’t allow the executee to feel great pain while being paralyzed so it wouldn’t show. And all of the state’s sodium thiopental reaches its expiration date Friday.
Whitman attacked him for appointing Rose Bird to the state supreme court and said: “Jerry has a long, 40-year record of being quite liberal on crime.” And he once shot a guy, just to watch him die.
Brown: “We can cut. They’re fooling around with a lot of fat.” Boy, that’s an image I did not need in my head.
Whitman: “No company should put a call center in Phoenix, Arizona, they should put it in Fresno or Stockton.” The, um, call-out to Fresno is because last week she said Fresno “looks like Detroit. It’s awful.” Which is something we can all agree on. I believe that’s actually the city motto.
Whitman on not voting for all those decades: “I apologize to everyone in California.”
Whitman: “I don’t think you can buy elections. I think Californians are too smart.” She means that unions can’t buy elections, not that ultra-rich dilettantes can’t buy elections.
Whitman: “This state is in an enormous mess.” I believe that’s actually the new state motto.
Posted by WIIIAI at 9/29/2010 12:13:00 AM
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
100,000 of “the better classes” have fled the cholera outbreak in Naples.
The NY Republican Party convention votes Roosevelt in as temporary chairman, defeating VP Sherman, overturning a decision made at an advance committee meeting in August, from which several members had stayed away because they were told nothing important was going to happen. But the indirect primaries spoke (how it worked was that New York Republicans voted for delegates to this convention; the convention will choose the candidates for governor, congress, etc; one of the planks Roosevelt wants is direct primaries, but the convention is still divided on that issue), and progressive delegates outnumber Old Guard ones (567-445 on the chairman vote). Therefore, in the NYT’s words, “the Old Guard turned its State Convention over to Theodore Roosevelt this afternoon, body, soul, and breeches.” Oh, it’s that sort of convention.
TR’s speech called for a “war against dishonesty.”
Monday, September 27, 2010
Oklahoma Gov. Charles Haskell (the new state’s first governor) is on trial for conspiracy to defraud the government in the sale of Creek Indian land, which he and his associates bought under false names for next to nothing.
The New York Republican convention opens tomorrow. TR is there, and Vice President Sherman, and everyone is in a spectacularly nasty mood. Fun.
On the corner of 3rd Avenue and 137th Street in NYC, a recently released mental patient, “wearing a black slouch hat bound around with a tasseled cord of gilt braid,” ordered some little boys to “fall in.” They did and so began a parade that grew continually, more boys joining it as it marched up the street. A cop commanded the leader to follow him to the police station. “Only if my regiment follows me,” he said, and so they did, though when they arrived at the station house, the killjoy cop dispersed the regiment.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Not that it matters, since Blair and Brown have made Labour unelectable for a generation, but the Labour leadership contest took place today at the Labour Party conference. To the disappointment of every British headline writer, Ed Balls was eliminated in the third round of voting, but Ed Miliband was finally able to vanquish his older brother David, who was ahead of him in votes in each of the first three rounds. Awkward!
This blog predicted David Miliband’s failure two years ago when he was photographed with a banana.
Ed Miliband is 40, has only been in Parliament five years. Like many European politicians, he is not married to his partner, with whom he has a child. When do you suppose that will be possible in puritan America?
(Update: results added, in purple. Will add exact numbers when available.)
Prop. 19. Legalizes marijuana for those 21 and older. Well, you’re either in favor of legalization or you aren’t, and if you consider marijuana more harmless than, say, tequila, and legalization a good way to bring revenue to state and local governments, redirect police and prison resources to real criminals, and strike at the power of the cartels and gangs, then Prop. 19 is a start. That said, implementation will be a mess, not only because pot will still be illegal at the federal level but also because Prop. 19 won’t really kill the illegal drug trade: people under 21 will still be buying, and the local governments that have put so many obstacles in the path of medical marijuana certainly won’t be more welcoming to recreational use, which means they either won’t permit commercial production and distribution or they’ll put such high taxes on it that people will continue going to the same old dealers.
The No ballot pamphlet argument suggests that 19 will increase car accidents because it sets no standards for determining when someone is driving under the influence of marijuana. Hey, district attorneys who wrote that argument, I’m pretty sure those would be exactly the same standards as we use right now.
Vote yes on 19, dudes, and stock up on some munchies.
Loses (54%), because the olds out-voted the yoots. It'll be interesting to see if this is one of those social issues that trends permissive over time, like gay marriage, or if people will always get wary of the demon weed when they get older.
Props. 20 & 27. Redistricting. Again. And we have competing “evil twin” props.
Prop. 20 would give the job of drawing Congressional districts to the citizens’ commission created by Prop. 11 in 2008. I was against that one at the time because it created an insanely convoluted system to select a bunch of anonymous, unaccountable individuals to perform one of the most vital tasks in our democracy and for having quotas based on political party, thus “enshrin[ing] the two parties at the heart of the redistricting process... trying to pre-determine the outcomes of elections.” Click here for my 2008 argument against Prop. 11, which applies doubly to this extension of its reach. The commission is still in the process of being selected by state auditors, using who knows what criteria, so it’s too early to say what sort of a job they’ll do, although we do know that most of the volunteers were white.
The requirement that districts not break up “communities of interest,” which is defined as “shared interests... common to an urban area, a rural area, an industrial area, or an agricultural area, and those common to areas in which the people share similar living standards, use the same transportation facilities, have similar work opportunities,” would ensure that this all winds up in the courts, since class-segregated Congressional districts arguably violate the 14th Amendment even if class didn’t function as a proxy for race, which it does.
No on 20.
Wins easily (61.5%).
Prop. 21. An $18 surcharge on non-commercial vehicles to support state parks and beaches; free admission to parks for the owners of those vehicles. On principle, I dislike hypothecated taxes, where a tax on one thing is dedicated to some unrelated purpose. The appropriate car tax and the appropriate budget for state parks are unrelated to each other and should be decided by – don’t laugh – the Legislature. Such decisions are kind of what they’re there for (in case you were wondering what they’re there for)(I know I was). Moreover, heavy users of the parks should not be subsidized, eliminating higher admission charges during peak times would create over-crowding, and state services should be supported by the progressive income tax so that the rich pay their fair share. Please lobby your legislators to do that, but vote no on 21.
Loses big time (57.8%). Not a good year to be asking voters to reach into their pockets.
Prop. 22 bans the state government “borrowing” money from local governments and transportation projects. The No argument suggests alarmingly that this would cause schools to close and then burn down because all the fire departments would be closed, or something like that, because the budget process is so messed up it can’t function without stealing from local governments. Fix the broken budget process; don’t bankrupt the cities. Yes on 22.
Prop. 23 suspends air pollution and greenhouse gas laws when the state unemployment rate is over 5.5%. So Valero and Tesoro, the primary funders of this prop (which paid that young women who tried to get me to sign the petition for this prop by claiming it did the exact opposite), wants to close down its California refineries and import dirtier gasoline made in states with less stringent air pollution laws. It’s about the most greedy corporate-backed proposition I’ve seen since... that PG&E one in June. It would make pollution worse and do nothing to decrease unemployment. (Note to the Calif. secretary of state: the Yes argument shouldn’t have been allowed to use the false term “global warming tax.”) Vote No. And boycott Valero.
No, 61%. Valero et al thought they could convince people environmental regs cost them their jobs, the people just saw greedy polluters.
Prop. 24 changes the way large multi-state businesses are taxed, closing recently created loopholes. Yes.
Loses big, 58.5%. Voters see a confusing technical prop, they vote no on general principles.
Prop. 25 changes the current 2/3 vote required in the Legislature to pass a budget to a simple majority. But retains 2/3 for taxes, which I guess is the only way this thing could get passed, but which would therefore be only a partial fix for the broken budgetary system, leaving it hostage to a minority, which would still be encouraged in their obstructionism. Still, I would have supported it as a half-way measure, but they just had to add that childish faux-populist bit taking away the pay and travel & living expenses of every legislator each day the budget is late. That is precisely the same thing, morally speaking, as offering legislators a bribe in a brown paper bag in a parking garage: it is an economic incentive to vote a certain way. Any politician this would work on is not worthy of holding public office. It would put a coercive weapon in the hands of obstructionist wealthy legislators to use against any of their brethren who might actually need their pay. Do we really want to drive out of politics everyone who isn’t a multi-millionaire? I would love to change the 2/3 provision, but the pay-docking provision is a deal-breaker. No.
Yes, by a healthy margin (54.8%), which rather surprises me, especially with all the lying about it really being about raising taxes.
Prop. 26. State fees would require a 2/3 vote in the Legislature, and local ones would require 2/3 in a referendum. Evidently some people think California doesn’t have enough gridlock in the Legislature now, that the budget process runs just too smoothly, so let’s require a 2/3 vote to, for example, raise entrance fees at state parks or increase restaurant inspection fees to keep up with costs, and let’s require expensive local elections on charging fees to businesses that sell alcohol. Mostly, though, this is really about the fees paid by businesses to pay for, for example, cleaning up pollution or oil spills they cause (Chevron is the largest funder of the pro-26 campaign). Those businesses hope that if they yell TAX TAX TAX loud enough, voters will be scared that there’s a conspiracy to subject them to “hidden taxes” if 26 isn’t passed. No on 26, another step in making California completely ungovernable.
Yes, 52.6%. When they saw which way the wind was blowing on 23, the oil companies switched their money into promoting this one, with commercials that were at the very least deceptive. We'll come to regret this (while at the same time somehow absolving ourselves of all responsibility for having voted for it)
Prop. 27. Redistricting. If both 27 and 20 win, only the one with the most votes goes into effect. 27 repeals 2008’s Prop. 11, abolishing the citizens’ commission, making the Legislature again responsible for drawing up districts for all offices, and putting the maps up to the voters.
The authors decided to go all budget-populist and laughably call 27 the “Financial Accountability in Redistricting (FAIR!) Act,” focusing on 27’s least important provision, which restricts the money spent on the redistricting process to $2.5 million, which 1) saves a couple million dollars, big deal, 2) is too little for a fairly complex enterprise, 3) will be more than made up for by the cost of putting the maps on the ballot.
Okay, I hate the Prop. 11 citizens commission and want it killed, but I have some major problems with 27: 1) That $2.5m limit. 2) Districts are supposed to be contiguous and not divide cities or those darned “communities of interest” (here not defined at all), but are also supposed to contain precisely the same number of voters, literally deviating by no more than 1 voter, which is silly. 3) It’s pretty much up to the Legislature (I checked the prop’s language) whether there will be separate referenda for the congressional, state senate, assembly and board of equalization districts or whether it’ll be just one combined referendum. Since the referendum is the only check on gerrymandering by the Legislature, this is not a minor detail. 4) There is nothing in the prop about what happens if the voters reject a map. 5) I can’t tell when the referendum(s) are supposed to be held, but I’m assuming it would have to be in November 2011, a low-turnout off-year election, to be ready in time for 2012.
I’m conflicted. I would like the ill-conceived citizens’ commission abolished, but this is a pretty flawed alternative. On balance I’ll probably vote yes on 27, but I won’t be very happy about it.
No, 59.7%. No one trusts legislators to draw their own districts, and the whole thing felt like a sneaky trick.
Comments, questions, rebuttals, praise, ill-informed abuse, mockery of the California initiative process, and votes on which prop is the most cynical abuse of the process are welcome in comments.
Posted by WIIIAI at 9/25/2010 12:32:00 PM
Military censors pictures of American soldiers (the ones about to be court-martialed for the sport-killing of Afghans) posing with dead Afghans, holding up their heads. A colonel seems to think it would have a “negative impact on the reputation of the armed forces.”
Posted by WIIIAI at 9/25/2010 12:21:00 AM
Nicaragua’s Estrada government (that’s the general, who is now president, not his brother, who was president for a few days last month; there were I believe 2 different presidents in between) sticks a bunch of the opposition Liberals on a ship bound for Panama.
TR will be in St Louis at the time of an air meet, but declined an offer to go up in a plane, suggesting that he might be accused of sensation-seeking.
In an interview, Woodrow Wilson accuses the Republicans of using the tariff “less and less as a means of protection – more and more as a means of patronage,” behind which trusts have conspired to raise prices.
Headline of the Day -100: “Will Take Cow to Taft.” The person who will take the cow to Taft is Jim Torrey, an 8th (!) cousin of Taft’s, and the cow is named Pauline Wayne, who will replace the Taft family’s late, lamented pet cow Mooley.
Friday, September 24, 2010
The Republican Party leadership assembled, as is traditional, at the Tart Lumber Company (“Everything to Build Anything”), to solemnly issue a Pledge to America. It is as unserious a political document as has ever been put forth by a major political party at a major lumber company “Supplying Northern Virginia builders with quality lumber building materials and hardware since 1951”) in American history.
It begins by denying the legitimacy of the American government. It’s worth quoting at length:
In a self-governing society, the only bulwark against the power of the state is the consent of the governed, and regarding the policies of the current government, the governed do not consent. An unchecked executive, a compliant legislature, and an overreaching judiciary have combined to thwart the will of the people and overturn their votes and their values, striking down long-standing laws and institutions and scorning the deepest beliefs of the American people. An arrogant and out-of-touch government of self-appointed elites makes decisions, issues mandates, and enacts laws without accepting or requesting the input of the many.
That paragraph accusing the majority party of being a dictatorship is followed in the very next sentence by a complaint about “a polarizing political environment”.
Was there a coup that didn’t make it into the papers, when those elites “self-appointed” themselves, possibly while we were all distracted by the World Cup? If the R’s can state as a fact that the elected (but unchecked) executive and the elected (but compliant) legislature are thwarting the will of the people, they must have some means of determining the will of the people that’s superior to democratic elections, and I can’t wait to hear what that is. Magic 8 Ball? Sarah Palin’s Twitter feed? If elections are now discredited as a means of ascertaining the will of the people, why should an election won by the R’s be accorded any greater legitimacy?
OH, I THINK IT CAN: “The need for urgent action to repair our economy and reclaim our government for the people cannot be overstated.”
They pledge to honor the “original intent” of the Constitution, especially the 10th Amendment.
PRIVATE? YOU MEAN THE MASONS, DON’T YOU? “We pledge to honor families, traditional marriage, life, and the private and faith-based organizations that form the core of our American values.”
WHISPER? OH, YOU’VE GOT THE VOLUME ON THE TV YOU’RE WATCHING FOX NEWS ON SET AT 2 AGAIN, DON’T YOU? “Voices in and out of government whisper that our standing as the world’s leader of democracy and economic growth is ending.”
CHENEY SECRET ENERGY TASK FORCE, RING ANY BELLS? “What’s worse, the most important decisions are made behind closed doors, where a flurry of backroom deals has supplanted the will of the people.”
They say they have a plan to “create jobs, end economic uncertainty... end the attack on free enterprise”. Did no one tell them that the essence of the free enterprise system is economic uncertainty?
They will stop job-killing policies and the job-killing agenda, job-killing tax increases, the job-killing health care plan, and job-killing mandates. They really like the adjective “job-killing,” is what I’m saying.
They also really like the adjective “common-sense,” as in “We must put common-sense limits on the growth of government”. Of course decisions on the growth of government are entirely political decisions, there is no such thing as a “common-sense” size of government. The phrase “common-sense” is intended to put their ideological positions beyond discussion.
THAT’S A BIG IF: “If we’ve learned anything over the last two years, it’s that we cannot spend our way to prosperity.” Unless we buy winning lottery tickets, of course.
Some details: Freeze net hiring of “non-security” federal employees; permanently end bailouts; end taxpayer funding of abortion forever; keep prisoners in Guantanamo forever. Every bill will “contain a citation of Constitutional authority,” and be put up on the web three days before Congress votes. Small businesses can deduct 20% of their income. A congressional vote on any regulation affecting more than $100m in economic activity. Kill Fannie & Freddie. End stimulus spending immediately (which would leave many projects half-finished, Kevin Drum points out).
PRIDE AND DIGNITY? HAVE THESE PEOPLE EVER ACTUALLY HADA JOB? “for our workforce, there is no substitute for the pride and dignity that comes with an honest day’s work and a steady paycheck.”
ALSO, “WHERE’S THE REMOTE?”: “The trillion-dollar ‘stimulus’ spending bill has made ‘where are the jobs?’ a national rallying cry”. That’s a really odd rally.
JUST LIKE GEORGE CLOONEY: “Washington’s out-of-control spending spree needs no introduction.”
THEY PROMISED WHAT NOW? “Instead of putting the brakes on Washington’s spending habits as they promised, President Obama and Democratic Leaders have...”
A FACT-BASED CONVERSATION: “We will have a responsible, fact-based conversation with the American people about the scale of the fiscal challenges we face, and the urgent action that is required to deal with them.” Will have, future tense, because as everyone points out, they aren’t willing to name a single program (except TARP) that they plan to cut.
DAMN THE ‘60s! “Earlier this year, House Republicans launched the YouCut initiative to combat the permissive culture of runaway spending in Congress.” I just love that use of the word permissive.
THE ONE THING THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WANTED: “The American people wanted one thing out of health care reform: lower costs, which President Obama and Democrats in Washington promised, but did not deliver.” Just one thing, lower costs. Not access for the uninsured, not coverage of pre-existing conditions, certainly not single fucking payer.
AND YET THE MINORITY ALWAYS SEEMS TO WIN: “The House of Representatives continues to move further away from its roots as a deliberative body, toward a centralized power structure where the majority does whatever it needs to win at all costs.”
“We will launch a prolonged campaign to transfer power back to the people and ensure they have a say in what goes on in the Congress.” This prolonged campaign will evidently involve... wait for it... a web site. Power... transferred.
They will fight extending Miranda Rights to foreign terrorists.
Missile defense, because, oo, Iran, scary. Sanctions on Iran, which “has declared its determination to acquire a nuclear capability”. That is a true but wilfully misleading statement, which 90% of people will read as saying that Iran has declared a determination to acquire nuclear weapons.
We will “establish operational control” of the border, whatever that means, “and prohibit the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture from interfering with Border Patrol enforcement activities on federal lands.” I’m not sure what that means, but I’m going to guess it means that the border fence can violate environmental laws.
A LITTLE SOMETHING FOR JAN BREWER: “We will reaffirm the authority of state and local law enforcement to assist in the enforcement of all federal immigration laws.”
YES, BECAUSE REPUBLICANS WOULD NEVER DO THAT: “We will fight efforts to use a national crisis for political gain.”
The Japanese government denies that there was any plot to assassinate the emperor. But a bunch of anarchists have been arrested with bomb-making equipment.
A charter has been applied for for an institute to be established in Athens, Georgia to train young African-Americans in the culinary and domestic arts. It will be called The Black Mammy Memorial Institute.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Henry Neil, Secretary of the National Probation League, says that “if the right hand of fellowship were extended to burglars instead of the kick and threat, the world would be better, the penitentiaries would be emptied in a short time, and there would be no need of lock and key, bolt and bar.” So he’s had all the locks removed from his house, calling them “relics of a barbarous age.” The Times does not give his address (in Illinois, where he later became a judge).
Little Dorrit has died, or at any rate a Mrs. G. M. Hayman, whose family claims that Dickens based the character on her. They also say her brother, a cheerful cripple, was Tiny Tim.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Japan leaks the discovery of a socialist plot to assassinate Emperor Mutsuhito. The plotters will be sentenced to death by a special secret court. Supposedly, this is the only such plot in the last 2,500 years.
US ambassador to Turkey Oscar Straus has dropped plans to visit Russia, evidently because he was unwilling to accept the special passport necessary for him to visit St Petersburg because he is Jewish.
William Randolph Hearst responds to Mayor Gaynor’s accusations that attacks on him in Hearst’s papers resulted in his assassination. Hearst says the shooting must have affected Gaynor’s mind and regrets that “his experience did not abate his evil temper or his lying tongue.” Hearst goes on to make various insinuations about the corrupt forces allegedly behind the campaign to elect Gaynor governor. He ends politely, “I personally will not take advantage of your columns to criticize Mayor Gaynor politically, first because of his illness, and second, because his mental, as well as his moral condition, has eliminated him from political consideration.”
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Taft and TR met a couple of days ago, and talked amiably about whatever. Now TR is denying White House spin that he asked for the meeting, rather than Taft.
For a nice change of pace, some Italians are lynched in Tampa.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Netanyahu wouldn’t extend the settlement “freeze” for something as small as keeping Middle East peace talks going. But he would do it in exchange for the release of the spy Jonathan Pollard.
Obama held a “town hall” “discussion” in D.C. for CNBC.
HE’S THE REMINDERER: “But the thing I’ve just got to remind people of is the fact that it took us a decade to get into the problem that we’re in right now.”
YEAH THE QUICK FIX THING, LET’S DO THAT: “So there are a lot of plans in place that can make improvement, but it’s slow and steady, as opposed to the kind of quick fix that I think a lot of people would like to see.”
A lot of the questions were about why he hated rich people so much, including one poor woman who had to eat hot dogs and beans to keep her children in private school, and a hedge fund manager who says Wall Street feels like “we’ve been whacked with a stick” by Obama. Half of America didn’t hear any of the rest of the broadcast, just daydreaming happily about Obama whacking a hedge fund manager with a stick. The CNBC guy actually asked if Obama thought that “working for profit is morally inferior to the kind of work you used to do as a community organizer.” Obama says he doesn’t think that, although he so does think that.
GETTING YOUR FOOT IN THE DOOR WHILE YOU’RE TREADING WATER: “Now, as I said before, what we saw happening during 2001 to the time I took office was wages actually declining for middle-class families, people treading water, young people having more trouble getting their foot in the door in terms of businesses.”
IS IT THAT DREAM ABOUT YOU WHACKING A HEDGE FUND MANAGER WITH A STICK? “So if we’re doing all those things, I am confident that the American Dream will continue for the next generation.” And then, pfft.
On the tea party movement: “I think that America has a noble tradition of being healthily skeptical about government. That’s in our DNA, right? I mean, we came in because the folks over on the other side of the Atlantic had been oppressing folks without giving them representation.” Should a black man in America, even one whose ancestors didn’t come over in shackles, be propagating that particular origin story (although people whose ancestors were kept in chains for generations by the legal system might also be said to have a healthy scepticism about government in their DNA)?
WHAT THE CHALLENGE FOR THE TEA PARTY MOVEMENT IS (FINDING A PLACE THAT RENTS OUT FIFES AND DRUMS?): “And so the challenge, I think, for the Tea Party movement is to identify specifically what would you do. It’s not enough just to say, get control of spending. I think it’s important for you to say, I’m willing to cut veterans’ benefits, or I’m willing to cut Medicare or Social Security benefits, or I’m willing to see these taxes go up.”
TELL THAT TO SEN. TOM COBURN: “But you know what, the truth is everybody here probably thinks it’s a pretty good idea that we regulate the food industry, for example, so we don’t get E. coli and salmonella.”
OH GOOD, IT’S ALWAYS GOOD THAT ALL STUPID VIOLENT OPTIONS ARE ON THE TABLE: “We don’t think that a war between Israel and Iran, or military options would be the ideal way to solve this problem. But we are keeping all our options on the table.”
BILL AYRES? REV. WRIGHT? YOUR SECRET MUSLIM PAYMASTERS? “Now, I stay up every night and I wake up every morning thinking about the people who sent me into this job.”
SO WE’RE TOTALLY BONED, IS WHAT YOU’RE SAYING: “I have put forward proposals that are going to require bipartisan cooperation in order for us to get government spending under control.”
And then he went to Philadelphia and bought not one, but two Philly cheese steak sandwiches. The economy is saved!
Posted by WIIIAI at 9/20/2010 08:01:00 PM
Christine O’Donnell says of her having “dabbled into” witchcraft, “How many of you didn’t hang out with questionable folks in high school?”
Reached for comment, sheepish-looking former members of the Moorestown (NJ) High School coven said, “Ditto.”
Posted by WIIIAI at 9/20/2010 05:02:00 PM
Woodrow Wilson will confine his campaigning to a single speech in each county in New Jersey.
NYC Mayor William Jay Gaynor, in a letter to this sister which she gave to the NY Evening Post, accuses the opposition press (i.e., the Hearst press) of being responsible for his assassination by lying about what he said when he refused to ban movies of the Johnson-Jeffries fight (although he’s been avoiding reading or hearing anything about the shooting, and doesn’t even know the name of his assassin). The letter gives an extraordinarily detailed account of the sensations of being shot in the throat.
The cholera epidemic in Naples is over, according to the best scientific measure of the time: the blood of St. Januarius liquefied “in the presence of a great multitude.”
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Today -100: September 18, 1910: Of floggings, nations of madmen, and typical politics in Texas and Illinois
The NYT editorializes against public floggings (a deputy marshal recently refused to permit the flogging in Alaska of 4 Japanese convicted of illegal fishing). Flogging is still used in Delaware against tramps, confidence men, thieves, highwaymen and disorderly persons. I guess that was before Delaware became the hq of all those credit card companies.
Famous British psychiatrist Forbes Winslow (who once offered to catch Jack the Ripper but Scotland Yard said no thanks) says in his memoirs that insanity is rising and “By a simple arithmetical calculation can be shown the exact year when there will be more insane persons in the world than sane. We in England are gradually approaching, with the decadence of our youth, a near proximity to a nation of madmen.” Did no one think to ask him what the “exact year when there will be more insane persons in the world than sane” was? That seems like important information to have.
Judicial temperament, Texas style: one candidate for the office of judge of Guadalupe County shoots a rival candidate.
The Illinois primaries were marked by a great deal of vote-buying (quel surprise), but it seems that while selling one’s vote is illegal in the state, bribing a voter is not.
Friday, September 17, 2010
The NYT welcomes the nomination of Woodrow Wilson, seeing it as another sign of the reformism that is originating at the state level. States are “proving their independence and self-sustaining powers. And they are shaming the slanderer [that would be Teddy Roosevelt] who has walked up and down this land proclaiming their weakness and his all-sufficient powers to rescue them from perdition.”
The cholera epidemic in Russia has caused 83,613 deaths so far.
The US is building a 1,000-mile barbed wire fence along the border with Mexico. The NYT says there should be one along the Canadian border as well, to prevent all the smuggling generated by Taft’s tariffs.
F.P. Greve and wife Elsie, German nationals who live in NYC, were arrested as “suspicious persons” in Pittsburg because she was wearing men’s clothing (I think that just means trousers) and smoking while strolling down 5th Avenue. They were later released (after threatening to call the German ambassador) and issued a letter saying that they were all right and that she was wearing the clothes only to keep up with her husband’s walking speed.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
The pope is visiting the UK, which he says is under the control of “atheist extremism” and “aggressive forms of secularism”, just like the Nazis, and he met the Queen of the Godless. And the Duke of Edinburgh, who probably exchanged wog jokes with him.
So what did they say?
The pope told the British press that pedophilia, which he did so much to cover up, is an illness which robs people of their free will. So that’s all right then. He said that his priority is to help the victims (not the priests, victims though they are of this horrible free-will-robbing illness) recover and “rediscover too their faith in the message of Christ.” Don’t know why he thinks they lost it; they weren’t the ones raping children, they were the children being raped.
Posted by WIIIAI at 9/16/2010 06:48:00 PM
Woodrow Wilson, accepting the Democratic nomination for governor of New Jersey (offered by a party convention; no primaries in NJ), emphasizes that “I did not seek this nomination. It has come to me absolutely unsolicited” and that he has made no pledges or promises and is a “free candidate.”
Pres. Taft’s daughter Helen drops out of Bryn Mawr. No reason is given, but I can reveal that the reason is that her mother (also named Helen) had a stroke; I don’t believe the public knew of this. In a couple of years she’ll go back to Bryn Mawr to finish her BA, earn a doctorate in history at Yale, return to Bryn Mawr as a professor, eventually becoming head of the history department and dean.
The NYT claims that Taft has told friends, “I am not thinking of 1912; in fact, I don’t know that I care for a renomination. From the way things are drifting it may be that no Republican can be elected, save possibly one.” No points for guessing who that might be.
A letter is going around, supposedly written by Taft’s secretary, saying that while in the past Taft withheld patronage (post office and customs jobs, that sort of thing) from Republican insurgents in Congress in an attempt to coerce their votes for his legislative aims, the success of the insurgents in primaries and conventions has led him to reverse himself and he will in future grant patronage to all Republican congresscritters of whatever faction.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
The Zeppelin VI. explodes on the ground in Germany after 34 passenger trips. Injuries among the ground crew but no fatalities. Still, oh the humanity, eh? It was capable of reaching speeds up to 38 mph. I’ve lost track of how many dirigible accidents have been reported this year, but it’s a lot.
Portugal expels Jesuits (I’m unclear on whether this is all Jesuits in the country, or just one monastery.)
Mrs. Alice Stebbins Wells,
a former settlement worker, gets a new job: first policewoman in L.A. (and near as anyone can tell, the US). “I suppose my chief concern will be with young girls venturing into unsafe places,” Officer Wells said. She had a male officer as a “chaperon” and no gun.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Opening Sentence of a News Article of the Day: “Any event featuring Jacob Zuma, virginity tests and more than 25,000 bare-breasted maidens dancing for a polygamous king is unlikely to pass entirely without incident.”
Goodwill Zwelithini, the aforementioned polygamous king of the Zulus, “condemned ‘rogue’ virginity testers” and complained about pictures of the virginity-test-a-palooza showing up on the internet: “I was shocked when I received these pictures on my website. I have no doubt these pictures are going to be used to attack this solemn culture of ours. This is a very important tradition and culture and needs to be conducted with dignity and respect without abusing and violating the dignity and privacy of the maidens.” Because nothing says dignity and privacy like mass public inspection of genitalia.
Posted by WIIIAI at 9/14/2010 06:19:00 PM
The Republicans want a chance to vote to make the Bush tax cuts permanent for all Americans, not just the non-rich. I say give it to them. Two bills. First up, a bill extending the tax cut for those earning over $250,000, then one for the rest. Everyone’s happy. If the R’s want to vote against the 2nd bill after the 1st one fails, let ‘em.
Posted by WIIIAI at 9/14/2010 12:48:00 PM
The NYT is not happy at all with the divided state of the Republican Party and blames Teddy Roosevelt, who “has detached a great part of the Republicans from their old faith and their old leaders, he has filled their minds and hearts with a romantic, unreasoning, unquestioning faith in himself and in what he preaches.” The Times harkens back nostalgically to the good ol’ days of unreasoning, unquestioning party loyalty.
In the New York primaries, women suffragists acting as poll-observers in NYC were arrested, were promptly released by magistrates, and returned to their posts.
The story refers to a “Democratic polling place.” Evidently the parties voted separately. Quite possibly the primaries were organized by the parties, not the state.
Headline of the Day -100: “Ear in a Bottle as a Death Threat.” Labor conflicts were so much more... colorful... back then.
Monday, September 13, 2010
The White House website reports on a phone call:
The President called Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey just as the 2010 FIBA World Basketball Championship final game between the United States and Turkey was getting underway in Istanbul. The President congratulated the Prime Minister on the fact that Turkey has hosted an outstanding tournament. The President said he is rooting for the American team but that whoever wins both teams have played great basketball. The President also acknowledged the vibrancy of Turkey’s democracy as reflected in the turnout for the referendum that took place across Turkey today.What a stimulating conversationalist (well, monologist, since Erdogan doesn’t seem to have gotten in a word edgewise) Obama is.
Posted by WIIIAI at 9/13/2010 01:53:00 PM
Arizona may not after all be going Republican out of sheer gratitude for being given statehood, as Taft had assumed would happen. Dems win a majority of delegates (at least 36 out of 52) to the Constitutional Convention, pledging to include powers of initiative and referendum and recall, direct primaries and popular election of US senators.
For some reason Maine had its elections yesterday rather than in November. Democrats also sweep the Maine elections (governor, both houses of the Legislature, congresscritters), which is widely thought to be one of the signs of the apocalypse. Some of this is the result of the Rooseveltian revolt against the Republican Old Guard, some of it a reaction to the state government’s imposition of prohibition on localities that didn’t want it. The new governor-elect, Frederick Plaisted, is the son of Harris Plaisted, the last Democratic governor (1881-3). The new Legislature will elect the state’s first Dem senator since 1863 – and New England’s first since the late 1870s.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Tennessee Governor Malcolm Patterson, in political trouble since pardoning the murderer of a former US senator (and 151 other murderers as well), decides not to run for re-election, with a large section of his Democratic Party threatening to go for a Republican – any Republican – rather than continue to be embarrassed by him. His announcement comes rather close to the general election.
In its fight with France’s public schools, the Vatican has decreed that first communion for French children will take place at age 7, i.e., before the school system has time to do its secularizing work. French Catholics are resisting doing it that early.
Conversationalist of the Day -100: NYT headline: “C.P. Taft in London. Declines to Talk about Anything but Natural Gas.” The president’s half-brother.
Friday, September 10, 2010
I made the mistake of setting the DVR to record this on a local channel, where it’s all Holy-shit-San-Bruno-Is-On-Fire all the time. And by the way, fuck PG&E.
DIGGING AND GROWING. WHY DOES EVERY PRESIDENT TALKING ABOUT THE ECONOMY SOUND LIKE CHANCE THE GARDENER? “I just want to talk a little bit about our continuing efforts to dig ourselves out of this recession and to grow our economy.”
SEE, IT’S A SIX-YEAR PLAN BECAUSE IF IT WERE A FIVE-YEAR PLAN WE’D ALL KNOW HE WAS FLAT OUT BEING A COMMUNIST AGAIN: “We also announced a six-year plan to rebuild America’s roads and railways and runways.”
PLENTY OF ISSUES, YES; PLENTY OF PEOPLE OF GOOD FAITH, NOT SO MUCH: “I realize there are plenty of issues in Washington where people of good faith simply disagree on principle.”
WHAT HE UNDERSTANDS: “I understand there’s an election coming up. But the American people didn’t send us here to think about our jobs.” We sent them there to think about Ground Zero Mosques, right?
NAME OF THE DAY: His new chair of the Council of Economic Advisers: Austan Goolsbee. Hi-larious.
“If the election is about the policies that are going to move us forward versus the policies that will get us back into a mess, then I think the Democrats will do very well.” He thinks there could be an election that’s about policies? That’s so adorable!
A DIFFERENT ECONOMIC PHILOSOPHY? IT’S SOCIALISM, ISN’T IT? “And I ran because I felt that we had to have a different economic philosophy in order to grow that middle class and grow our economy over the long term.”
ALSO DOPEY, GRUMPY, SLEEPY... “Now, for all the progress we’ve made, we’re not there yet. And that means that people are frustrated and that means people are angry.”
THAT’S NOT A TUNE, THAT’S A WHOLE FUCKING SYMPHONY: “what I’ve got is the Republicans holding middle-class tax relief hostage because they’re insisting we’ve got to give tax relief to millionaires and billionaires to the tune of about $100,000 per millionaire”.
“And if the Republican leadership is prepared to get serious about doing something for families that are hurting out there, I would love to talk to them.” He thinks the Republican leadership could be prepared to get serious about doing something for families that are hurting out there? Just SO fucking adorable!
NO, THE QUESTION IS, WHY NOT? “Why hold the middle class hostage in order to do something that most economists don’t think makes sense?”
WHAT REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS USUALLY AGREE ON: “usually, Republicans and Democrats agree on infrastructure.”
Asked why he won’t just name Elizabeth Warren to the consumer protection agency, he decided to keep her hanging a while longer and also to undercut her publicly with, well I’d say faint praise but there isn’t any actual praise in here at all: “She’s a dear friend of mine. She’s somebody I’ve known since I was in law school. And I have been in conversations with her. She is a tremendous advocate for this idea.”
WHAT ONE OF THE THINGS HE MOST ADMIRED ABOUT BUSH WAS: “One of the things that I most admired about President Bush was after 9/11, him being crystal-clear about the fact that we were not at war with Islam.” And crystal-clear about the US not torturing people. And crystal-clear about there being WMDs in Iraq. Bush was “crystal-clear” about a lot of shit, is what I’m saying. A lot of shit.
HE’S THE REMINDERER: “And I will do everything that I can as long as I am President of the United States to remind the American people that we are one nation under God, and we may call that God different names but we remain one nation.” Also, fuck you, atheists.
ARE YOU SURE YOU DON’T MEAN YOUR SECRET MUSLIM FAITH? “And as somebody who relies heavily on my Christian faith in my job, I understand the passions that religious faith can raise.” So subtle about slipping in the reference to being Christian. So subtle.
WHAT HE DOESN’T WANT ANYBODY OUT THERE THINKING: “And I don’t want anybody out there thinking that it’s [Middle East peace] going to be easy.
Asked about Terry Jones, he referred to him as “the individual down in Florida,” “this individual” and “one individual in Florida”. This could be because 1) he’s trying to emphasize that Jones has almost no followers, 2) he’s forgotten his name, 3) he can never remember which one is Terry Jones and which one is Michael Palin.
INDIAN HUTS, WITCHES, AND CROSSES ON BLACK PEOPLE’S LAWNS, MAYBE, BUT NOT SACRED TEXTS: “The idea that we would burn the sacred texts of someone else’s religion is contrary to what this country stands for.”
UNLESS BY ATTENTION YOU MEAN BEING CALLED OUT IN A PRESS CONFERENCE BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: “And although this may be one individual in Florida, part of my concern is to make sure that we don’t start having a whole bunch of folks all across the country think this is the way to get attention.”
WHAT HE’S CONSTANTLY THINKING ABOUT: “And so I am constantly thinking about how do we create ladders for communities and individuals to climb into the middle class.” Ladder factories?
See if you can guess what country Obama is referring to here: “It has a multiethnic population that mistrusts, oftentimes, each other. And it doesn’t have a tradition of a strong, central government.” If you guessed the United States, you were probably listening to the earlier part of the presser when he was begging for the Republicans to stop grinding our central government to a halt, but he’s actually talking about Afghanistan.
Asked about dealing with corrupt officials in Afghanistan (that is, officials in Afghanistan): “the only way that you are going to have a stable government over the long term is if the Afghan people feel that you’re looking out for them. And that means making sure that the tradition of corruption in the government is reduced.” Way to set goals.
“And we’ve made progress on some of those fronts. I mean, when it comes to corruption, I’ll just give you an example. Four years ago, 11 judges in the Afghan legal system were indicted for corruption. This year, 86 were indicted for corruption.” Well I know that reassures me. Doesn’t that reassure you?
AND BY “MADE COMPROMISES,” HE MEANS “PAID MASSIVE BRIBES TO”: “Are there going to be occasions where we look and see that some of our folks on the ground have made compromises with people who are known to have engaged in corruption?
AND BY “A WINK AND A NOD,” HE MEANS “PAID MASSIVE BRIBES TO”: “Let’s make sure that our efforts there are not seen as somehow giving a wink and a nod to corruption.”
On trials of alleged terrorists: “there are going to be circumstances where a military tribunal may be appropriate... there may be situations in which somebody was captured in theater, is now in Guantanamo. It’s very hard to piece together a chain of evidence that would meet some of the evidentiary standards that would be required in an Article III court. But we know that this person is guilty; there’s sufficient evidence to bring about a conviction.” Just not in a real court. But it’s okay because we “know” this person is guilty.
STILL TO THIS DAY: “Al Qaeda operatives still cite Guantanamo as a justification for attacks against the United States. Still to this day.” That might be because Guantanamo is still in the indefinite-detention-without-trial business. Still to this day.
What about capturing Osama bin Laden? “we have the best minds, the best intelligence officers, the best special forces, who are thinking about this day and night. And they will continue to think about it day and night as long as I’m president.” Because on his last day in office, we still won’t have captured bin Laden, is what he’s saying.
Finally, he made a fairly strong defense of the “Ground Zero Mosque.” “And what that means is that if you could build a church on a site, you could build a synagogue on a site, if you could build a Hindu temple on a site, then you should be able to build a mosque on the site.” In fact, you could build a church on top of a synagogue on top of a Hindu temple on top of a mosque on top of a Burlington Coat Factory.
“we’ve got millions of Muslim Americans, our fellow citizens, in this country. They’re going to school with our kids. They’re our neighbors. They’re our friends. They’re our coworkers. And when we start acting as if their religion is somehow offensive, what are we saying to them?”
Posted by WIIIAI at 9/10/2010 07:46:00 PM
Ill. State Rep. Lee O’Neil Browne is acquitted for his role in the bribery of the state legislature to elect William Lorimer to the US Senate. Oddly, Browne is a Democrat and Lorimer a Republican. This was Browne’s second trial; the first resulted in a hung jury and hints of jury tampering.
Thursday, September 09, 2010
Teddy Roosevelt bans Sen. William Lorimer, whose seat was purchased by bribery, from a banquet in his honor at the (Republican) Hamilton Club in Chicago. In his speech TR accuses the Illinois Legislature of “the foulest and basest corruption, and, therefore, of the most infamous treason to American institutions.” It’s funny because it’s true.
The US chargé d’affaires in Panama, Richard Marsh, threatens the Panama Assembly and government that if they “persistently refuse to accede to the clear wishes of the American Government” by, for example, the Assembly electing the candidate of its own choosing and not that of the United States to fill the remainder of the term of the late president, then the US “can only adopt such means to prevent such opposition in the future as occupation and annexation.” The NYT says this statement has “created a sensation” in Panama.
Since the NYT devotes only 55 words to this story, I might as well give it verbatim: “The lower House of the Texas Legislature to-day, by a vote of 51 to 34, instructed Senators and Congressmen to work for the repeal of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Federation Constitution, conferring franchise upon negroes.” Presumably they mean the 15th Amendment.
David Hacker, a NYC tailor, is building a dirigible which will run by perpetual motion. And a bicycle. A combination of bicycle and perpetual motion. The article’s end is priceless:
“I’m going to Washington first to call on President Taft, and any twenty persons [the airship’s capacity] who want to go with me will be welcome. After that I’m going to establish a transoceanic service with other ships like this first one.”
Hacker’s friends say he is a good tailor.
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
The 9th Circuit rules 6-5 that the Obama administration can keep victims of Bush’s extraordinary rendition and torture policies out of court by calling those policies “state secrets,” but the majority is pretty sure “that the government is not invoking the privilege to avoid embarrassment or to escape scrutiny of its recent controversial transfer and interrogation policies.” So that’s okay then.
Really, who would even have the nerve to impute that a government that kidnapped people and sent them to Morocco to be tortured was trying to avoid embarrassment or escape scrutiny?
The majority wept crocodile tears over the tough job it had: “This state requires us to address the difficult balance the state secrets doctrine strikes between fundamental principles of our liberty, including justice, transparency, accountability and national security.” And then they tossed out liberty, justice, transparency and accountability. Balance achieved.
By the way, to those smartypants who point out that there is no mention of a “state secrets doctrine” in the Constitution, that’s because it’s a state secret. Duh.
Posted by WIIIAI at 9/08/2010 08:31:00 PM
After anti-war protesters threw eggs and shoes at him in Dublin, Tony Blair cancels a second book-signing event so as not to “put our guests through the unpleasant consequences of the actions of demonstrators.” Still no second thoughts about putting Iraqis through the unpleasant consequences of his actions.
Posted by WIIIAI at 9/08/2010 01:13:00 PM
TR, in Wisconsin, criticizes a scheme by Republican Old Guardists to ignore the results of the (advisory) primaries and have the Legislature elect someone other than Robert La Follette to the US Senate.
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
Republicans sweep the elections for state offices in Vermont. Evidently they didn’t wait for November. But the Republican majority is only 2:1, which is considered a bad omen for Republicans nation-wide (“As goes Vermont...”). In other states, primaries are going on, and progressive/insurgent Republicans are generally trouncing Old Guard Republicans. The party convention in California rejects a plank endorsing Taft.
Monday, September 06, 2010
Pictures from that great almost-newspaper, The Daily Telegraph.
Yes, that is of course Jesus Christ on a telephone poll in Louisiana.
The Basque separatist group ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna) declares a ceasefire, but Spain says no thanks. This is what ETA declaring a ceasefire looks like.
Some Catholics in France are complaining that Muslims are “calmly taking possession of our churches with the complicity of the Catholic authorities.” By which they mean that one of the new gargoyles on a 12th-century cathedral in Lyons was made to resemble a foreman on the restoration project – who happens to be Muslim.
The record for “fastest furniture” was broken this weekend (but is there footage on YouTube? No there is not) by Perry Watkins and his nitrous-powered Queen Anne table with silver dinner service (113 mph).
Clive Williams, a retired electrical engineer in Henley-on-Thames, has discovered in his garden a carrot that looks exactly like Buzz Lightyear.
And here’s a Tom Toles cartoon.
Posted by WIIIAI at 9/06/2010 07:27:00 PM