Thursday, January 31, 2008

Religious people do not murder the innocent, redux

Something I intended to write two posts back, but it went right out of my head: Bush said that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq aren’t religious conflicts because religious people don’t murder the innocent. Of course Pervez Kambakhsh, that journalist whose death sentence was just backed by the Afghan Senate, which, er, is supposed to be on our side in the “ideological struggle between those of us who love freedom and human rights and human dignity, and those who want to impose their dark vision on how people should live their lives,” isn’t innocent: he’s guilty of blasphemy. So that’s okay then.

Democratic Debate: Hillary would be on anyone’s shortlist


Sitting next to each other, Barack and Hillary look like the anchors of the local 11:00 news.

Audience members included Meathead, Josh Lyman, Annie Hall, Ugly Betty, Stevie Wonder, Pierce Brosnan, Leonardo diCaprio....

Obama says he was friends with Hillary before the campaign, and will be after the campaign. But now, I believe that implies, he’s gonna eviscerate her.

Hillary: “Just by looking at us, you can tell we are not more of the same.” And then we open our mouths... (Later: actually, this was the dullest debate yet, and seriously deficient as blog fodder. Some of that in a good way, as when they were genuinely discussing differences in their health insurance plans, but mostly they know that neither of them is changing many minds before Tuesday, and are looking beyond it to the general election.)

Obama says he brings up Hillary’s flip–flopping on illegal immigrants getting driver’s licenses only to show how difficult the issue is.

Hillary on her Iraq war vote: “coercive diplomacy” is cool, she likes “coercive diplomacy,” uses it on Bill all the time, but “what no one could have fully appreciated...” Who is she, all of a sudden, Condi? “ how obsessed this president was with this particular mission”. Blitzer asks if she’s saying that she was naive in trusting Bush and the crowd, possibly led by Diane Keaton, boos loudly.

Speaking of presidents on a mission, Hillary, when asked how she’d “control” Bill when they were back in the White House when she sure can’t do it on the campaign trail, gave out one of those guffaws, possibly at the thought of Bill, naked, tied up, with a hood over his head, thinking he’s in for some kinky sex, but actually on his way to Guantanamo. Or maybe to that “Lost” island. Then says she doesn’t want the campaign to be about Bill but the issues.

Barack, would you make Hillary your running mate? Astonishingly, he refuses to answer the inane question. He does say that Hillary would be “on anyone’s short list”. Isn’t that cute, it’s nine months before the election and he’s already drawing up death lists.

Thank goodness they didn’t abandon a value system that they believe is universal

McCain’s website not only trumpets his endorsement by The Arnold, but also endorsements by several of what McCain calls “distinguished members of the Vietnamese-American community” (a member of the California State Assembly, members of the Garden Grove and Westminster city councils, and a no doubt distinguished member of the Midway City Sanitary District). At least, he calls them “distinguished members of the Vietnamese-American community” in public – now. In 2000, he commented, “I hated the gooks. I will hate them as long as I live.”

Bush gave a speech today at something called the Nevada Policy Research Institute.

He told them that “The world in which we live is a dangerous world, but a world full of great opportunity.” Dangerous opportunity.

We’re facing, he said, an “ideological struggle of people who use asymmetrical warfare.” It’s not a religious conflict, he insisted. “And I’ll tell you why: because one of the tactics, and the main tactic of those enemies of freedom, is to murder the innocent to achieve their objectives. Religious people do not murder the innocent.” Religious people do not murder the innocent. I’m telling you, the principle on which this country is run is government of the people who slept through history class, by the people who slept through history class, and for the people who slept through history class.

IN OTHER WORDS: “The fundamental question is whether or not democracy can take hold. In other words, the security situation is improving, and therefore will there be efforts by the Iraqi people to seize the moment?”

SITTING DOWN WITH ELECTED: “It is vital for this generation to assume the responsibilities of peace and take the lead, so that when we look back 30 to 40 years from now people will say, thank goodness America didn’t lose faith with liberty. Thank goodness they didn’t abandon a value system that they believe is universal. And I believe an American President will be sitting down with elected from the Middle East saying the same thing to audiences in Nevada that I said about Prime Minister Koizumi.”

Wherein I find myself in complete agreement with Sean McCormack

Human Rights Watch has issued a report saying that the US & EU of accepting the pretense of countries such as Pakistan, Kenya, Russia, Thailand to be democracies simply because they have held some form of elections. Responded State Dept spokesmodel Sean McCormack: “In terms of the United States and this administration speaking up in defence of, and advocating for, and putting its effort behind its rhetoric, I don’t think there’s any question about where we stand in terms of promotion of democracy.” No, there really isn’t any question.

A judge in Rio de Janeiro has banned a samba group’s float, with heaps of mannequins representing the Holocaust, from Carnivale.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Republican Debate: You can’t have a president who sees a whole bunch of America as invisible


5:06 McCain: “Let’s have some straight talk...” Oh, let’s.

Speaking of catch-phrases, with Giuliani out of the race we need never hear “The Terrorists’ War on Us” again.

Huckabee thinks Congress has been betraying Reagan’s principles by increasing the deficit. Does Huckles remember the 1980s?

Huckabee: “It’s not gonna get better unless we have some serious leadership in Washington that says that we’re going to have to start having policies that touch the people not just at the top but the people at the bottom.” Well, that’s just kinky.

Defending his record as governor against McCain, Romney says several times that “facts are stubborn things.” Given that they’re in the Reagan (snicker) Library – and that’s actually it’s official name, the Reagan (snicker) Library – shouldn’t he repeat the Great Communicator’s phrase “facts are stupid things”?

Huckabee, wistfully, wishes that Rush Limbaugh loved him as much as he loves Rush.

Romney: they don’t call it America warming, they call it global warming.

Huckles thinks people will spend the stimulus plan’s tax rebates on “shoes that they probably don’t even need” (in Arkansas, shoes are considered a luxury item), and that shoe will probably come from China.

McCain: “When a town on Norway is somehow affected by the housing situation in the United States of America, we’ve gotten ourselves into a very interesting dilemma.” Says a mortgage should be one page long and in big letters at the bottom say “I understand this document.”

McCain: “I’m tired of borrowing money from China.” As Samuel Johnson said, when you’re tired of borrowing money from China, you’re tired of life.

McCain repeatedly refuses to answer whether he would still vote for his own 2006 immigration plan, saying it wouldn’t come up for a vote now.

Romney: “It’s important that we, as Republicans, stay in the house that Reagan built.” Absolutely: someone nail the doors shut.

By the way, the major advertiser on CNN for this debate: the coal industry.

There was much back and forth over whether Romney last April was advocating a timetable for withdrawal of troops from Iraq when he said, “Well, there’s no question that the president and Prime Minister al-Maliki have to have a series of timetables and milestones that they speak about, but those shouldn’t be for public pronouncement. You don’t want the enemy to understand how long they have to wait in the weeds until you’re going to be gone.” McCain has been attacking this, not for the idea of a secret timetable being monumentally silly, but for suggesting that there might actually be a time when we leave Iraq. McC: “If we weren’t leaving, how could the enemy lay in the weeds?” He also repeats, over and over and over, that timetables was a “buzzword” for withdrawal. Romney says the Washington Post “gave you three Pinocchios” for making that claim.

The Huck hopes we won’t be in Iraq for 100 years like McCain says we should be, but “we need to leave with victory, and we need to leave with honor.”

Huckles says if we leave prematurely, “It will erupt in a completely destabilized environment into which that vacuum is exactly the kind of situation that al Qaeda can build a strong base.” Put “in other words” at the start of that sentence, and it’s an almost classic Bushism.

McCain is still touting the judgement that led him to say that Rumsfeld was incompetent. Way to set a high standard.

Romney says that people prefer governors as presidents rather than senators because “They’re actually leading something.”

Mittens says one of his two great regrets in life (he doesn’t say what the other one is) is that he didn’t serve in the military, which he’d “love” to have done. I’m sure everyone who did go to Vietnam just “loved” it.

Curiously enough, it’s one of McCain’s two great regrets in life that he wasn’t a Mormon missionary in the south of France. I see a wacky Disney switcheroo movie in the offing.

COMPETITION: What might the other great regret in Romney’s life be? Polygamy jokes will be disallowed as too easy. Let me start you off: He always wished he could be a real boy.

Romney says that Lincoln wasn’t a military expert either, and he turned out all right. Twitt: Lincoln was a captain in the Illinois militia.

Huckleberry: “You can’t have a president who sees a whole bunch of America as invisible.”

Would Reagan endorse you? Mittens: yes. McCain: yes. Paul: probably, because he was in favor of the gold standard too. Huckabee: Well, I would endorse Reagan. “Reagan was something more than just a policy wonk.” Yes, yes he was.

There are signs that our economy are slowing

Video of the day, from the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing you’ve probably already heard about but perhaps haven’t seen (TPM, from which I’ve taken the video, has the transcript), of Biden gently getting Attorney General Mukasey to clarify that he really does mean that his “conscience” isn’t “shocked” by water-boarding or by extension any other form of torture, unless the method is disproportionate to the information being sought: “the heinousness of doing it, the cruelty of doing it, balanced against the value.” Biden being Biden, he made his point perfectly but then didn’t just stop talking.

I think we all need to take a deep breath and look at Margaret, who is 10 days old.

Today, Bush came all the way to California to tell us, “You know, California is a really important state for our country”. It’s nice to be appreciated.

He took along our esteemed governator to a helicopter factory: “The company was started in the kitchen, and now he’s got the Terminator coming by to herald the success.”

Mostly he talked about the importance of ratifying the free-trade agreements: “And when you’re more likely to sell a helicopter to Panama, it means you’re more likely to keep work, that’s what that means.” And he pretended that the only reason “some” people oppose the treaty with Colombia is that they don’t believe in the principle of free trade – “Some say trade hurts our economy” – as opposed to, for instance, the rather large number of unsolved murders of trade unionists.

IN OTHER WORDS: “Well, we’ve negotiated free trade agreements. In other words, we sat down with countries and said, let’s get a free trade agreement in place.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “Fourth quarter growth slowed to .6 percent. In other words, there are signs that our economy are slowing.”

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Heart and soul

McCain says of big ol’ loser Giuliani, that he “invested his heart and soul in this primary, and conducted himself with all the qualities of the exceptional American leader he truly is.” Well no wonder Rudy lost, if his investment was that small.

I don’t care how cheap a shot that was, it was satisfying.

No, I wanted the big flags

After his event at a “faith-based” project (see previous post), Bush had a meeting and a dinner with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and combatant commanders. He may have confused the two: “And our military is compassionate, as well. I’m looking forward to the stories from our commanders who will share with us the great compassion of our soldiers, whether it’s to provide relief from a disaster, or to help some child recognize the beauty of going to school.”

The London Times points us to a profanity-laden press release issued by the Romney campaign earlier this month. The profanities (all purportedly uttered by John McCain) include, and I quote, “F*ck you!”, “chickens---”, “a**hole,” “f*cking jerk,” and “Clinton.” Shocking!

Here’s a picture from a Potty-Mouth McCain “town hall meeting” in Florida Sunday that I haven’t found an excuse to use:

You know what they say: the bigger the flag...

There was the notion that somehow that there needed to be a clear separation of church and state

Today Bush visited something called the Jericho Program, an Episcopalian program that works with ex-prisoners, or, as Bush kept calling them, souls: “There’s no more important goal than to help good souls become -- come back to our society as productive citizens.”

He was there to talk about the importance of the government funding such religious groups (I’m not clear if the Jericho Programs gets such funding) and the importance in general of religion, the practice of which, as we know, had been banned by the Clinton Administration: “When I came into office, the nation’s traditions of religious freedom and equal opportunity were facing unnecessary obstacles. ... There was the notion that somehow that there needed to be a clear separation of church and state”.

IN OTHER UNHOLY WORDS: “Unfortunately, in some instances where there was an interface with government, people were told that in order to interface you have to take the cross off the wall, or take down the Star of David. In other words, you had to abandon the very principle by which you existed in the first place.”

EFFECTIVENESS: “If a program was effective because they were willing to recognize a higher power, if a program was effective because people responded because they felt a call from a higher power, than to deny the higher power really reduced the effectiveness of the program.”

LORD LOVE A DUCK: “That’s, after all, one of the key tenets of faith: Love a neighbor like you’d be -- like to love -- be loved yourself.”

“As you might remember, I drank too much at one time in my life.” And if you do remember, or have some of those missing police records, you might tell him about it, because his twenties and thirties are kind of a blur.

(Update: the WaPo reports that when one of the men told Bush that more mentoring and counseling programs were needed in west Baltimore, Bush, who probably isn’t a big viewer of The Wire, told him, “There are programs like that all over the city; they are called churches,” then started in piously about “the notion that there is a higher power that will help people change their thinking.” The man agreed that there is a higher power. The WaPo writes, “‘Step One, right?’ Bush said, alluding to Alcoholics Anonymous’s second step.”)

Monday, January 28, 2008

State of the Union Address: Spreading the hope of freedom (in 357 days)


6:08 Bush just waggled his eyebrows

and winked

at Congress. Which I’m sure makes them feel special and tingly all over.

I didn’t catch which members of the Cabinet and Congress are staying away to carry on the work of government should there be a terrorist attack or Cheney get hold of an Uzi. (Update: it was Dirk Kempthorne. Had anything of that nature happened, it would have been President Dirk Kempthorne.) (Let me repeat that: President Dirk Kempthorne.) Also, I believe Atrios is sitting this one out in case every blogger’s head explodes.

Both Bush twins, however, are there for the first time. Should there be a terrorist attack or Cheney get hold of an Uzi, the genetic line would be extinguished.

6:12 Bush says the economy is going through uncertainty, and Cheney’s head suddenly jerks.

6:12 Boehner: this is an intervention: you are spending too much time in the tanning salon.

6:13 He says that some people wouldn’t object to paying higher taxes, and “The IRS accepts checks and money orders.” Also, the blood of the innocent and the howls of the damned.

6:15 “American families have to balance their budgets, so should their government.” Wait, I’m supposed to be balancing my budget? Uh oh.

6:22 He wants to “liberate children trapped in failing schools”. PS 23 and Martin Luther King Jr High School: the new axis of evil.

6:24 If we don’t pass the free trade agreement with Colombia, we will “embolden the purveyors of false populism in our hemisphere.” Meaning Hugo Chavez, of course, although ABC’s cameras went amusingly to John Kerry.

6:27 Greenhouse agreements will only work if every country on the planet signs and none gets a “free ride.” Especially on public transportation, which he mysteriously left out of his half-hearted laundry list of measures to reduce global warming.

6:34 “We’ve seen wedding guests in blood-soaked finery staggering from a hotel in Jordan”. Of course, the US has soaked more than our share of finery, bombing or shooting up weddings on several occasions in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
(Update: Eli at LeftI is all over this one too.)

6:37 We are “spreading the hope of freedom.” Afghanistan is now “a young democracy where boys and girls are going to school.” Um, right.

6:44 Al Qaida is on the run in Iraq. Just like last year and the year before that and the year before that. A lot of running, is what I’m saying.

It’s hard to find anything to say about this, it’s all very stale. “Return on success,” other bits of leftover rhetoric.

6:46 He asks Congress to fully fund the troops. ABC zooms right in on some guy who’s yawning, sitting next to a woman in uniform.

6:49 A failed Iraq would embolden the extremists. That’s the second use of “embolden.”

6:52 Iran (which he’s been accusing in rather vague terms of being behind everything we don’t like throughout the Middle East) should “come clean about your [he refers to it in the second person] nuclear intentions and past actions”.

6:56 “America opposes genocide in Sudan.” In case anyone was, you know, asking.

6:57 The US is leading the fight against “global hunger.” Which I think is when you really want a globe for dinner, with maybe a Triptik for dessert.

He never actually said what the state of the union is, although he did say if we did blah blah blah the state of the union will remain strong.

Well that was an hour well spent.

The State of the Union is...

Three hours before kick off, we are now taking bets on what Bush will declare the State of the Union to be:

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A bit of an overreach

Huckabee went from talk show to talk show this morning, trying to explain that what he really meant when he said in the last debate that Iraq might still have had WMDs was that Iraq might still have had WMDs. He admitted “I don’t have any evidence,” but the guy who doesn’t believe in evolution hardly requires any evidence to suggest that they might be in Syria or “some remote area of Jordan.” “But simply saying — we didn’t find them so therefore they didn’t exist — is a bit of an overreach.” He added that “My point was, Saddam Hussein bragged that he had them. We know that he in the past had used them. So there have been weapons of mass destruction. ... They didn’t exist when we got into Iraq, but that didn’t mean they never were there.” Oh, don’t you try to get out of this with your clever verb tenses, mister.

He added that Bush “didn’t lie to us. ... I support that the president did what he believed was necessary. ... But to second guess the president now, I think, is really not a very prudent thing to do. It doesn’t make us feel any better.” Define “us,” Mike. He likened such second-guessing to Monday-morning-quarterbacking, saying “But when you’re out there on the game, and guys that are weighing 320 pounds are rushing at you, you know, you have to make split-second decisions. And sometimes they’re not always perfect.” Of course there may not have been any 320-pound guys, or they may have been in Syria or some remote area of Jordan...

By the way, this week he’s said that he’s afraid of 320-pound football players and of Chuck Norris kicking him in the head. Also cheese, he has an unnatural fear of cheese. My point is: for him, fear is as an acceptable excuse for bad decision-making, which just doesn’t bode all that well for his own decision-making process (plus, of course, the decision to invade Iraq was not made in a split-second).

He concluded, “I think what we’ve got to do is to say, let’s make the best of what we have in Iraq.” Yeah, let’s do that.

Elsewhere, Romney said that McCain is “trying desperately to change the topic from the economy and trying to get back to Iraq.” Indeed, McCain told Tim Russert,
I believe that most Republicans’ first priority is the threat of radical Islamic extremism. Now, I know the concerns about the economy...

MR. RUSSERT: More than the economy?

SEN. McCAIN: More than the economy at the end of the day.
And he told a campaign rally, “There’s going to be other wars.” Oh good, something to look forward to, then.

McCain’s campaign promises: pizza and the draft.

Yes, we can

I’m perfectly content with Obama’s wanting to run as a “candidate who happens to be black” rather than as a “black candidate,” but... the crowds at his victory rally were evidently chanting “Race doesn’t matter!” Er, guys, hello? It kinda does. Still. Sorry.

They were also chanting “Yes, we can!” a rather perfectly emblematic motto for Obama because it is a message of optimism and hope that we can do, er, something that it never quite gets around to specifying.

The Clinton people, who do think that race matters, if only because so few African-Americans in SC voted for her, are quietly briefing reporters that Obama only won because there was such a high turnout among black voters, as if that were some sort of dirty trick.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Actually, I think I do understand the stock market better now

I seem to have no interesting words of my own tonight. I know! Let’s steal other people’s.

Armando Iannucci explains the stock market’s doings:
Last week, they instantly panicked because they thought things couldn’t possibly get any worse, which, in turn, made things 10 times worse and so caused them all to panic again.

Some of them are now panicking that how they may panic in the future will affect share values even more and that the only way to prevent this is by panicking so much now that it pre-empts future panic.

So tomorrow, if you see anyone soiling themselves on the Stock Exchange trading floor, it’s actually quite strategic and they’re probably being asked to do it by a man on the other end of a phone in Japan.
WaPo Style Invitational contest for slogans for countries. A rather mixed bag, but here are the good ones:
Burkina Faso: Not Your Father’s Upper Volta

Canada: Home of the Almighty Dollar

Denmark: Oh, So Nothing’s Rotten in YOUR Country?

Germany: It Is Not Necessary to Have a Humorous Slogan

Germany: Genocide Free Since 1945!

Greenland: Site of the 2060 Summer Olympics

India: For More Information Press 1

Iran: World’s Largest Non-American Theocracy

Myanmar: We Liked “Burma” Better Too, but These Guys Have Guns

Qatar: Wish U Were Here

United States: War Is Peace

Friday, January 25, 2008

People would say, uh-oh, I’m losing value

Bush interview with USA Today, um, today.

Says the State of the Union Address “will make it clear I’m going to sprint to the finish.” In fact, he’ll deliver the speech while sprinting around the House Chamber. He hasn’t decided yet if he’ll be using the Rocky theme music or the Chariots of Fire theme music.

“We’re a generous nation when it comes to hunger.”

YES, I’VE OFTEN SAID THAT MYSELF: “And therefore one of the concerns has been there has been a wealth effect - people would say, uh-oh, I’m losing value, and therefore I’m not going to be an active consumer.”

A PIECE OF UNCERTAINTY: “One of the uncertain - a piece of uncertainty is whether or not someone’s taxes are going to go up.”

WHIPPING UP THE POPULOUS: “And I fully understand that you can whip up populous sentiment against trade”

IN OTHER WORDS: “In other words, we’re more accepting of people’s products in our country and, yet, when we try to sell ours into theirs, they face a higher barrier to entry.”

YAY! OPPORTUNITIES! “You really look at the world - you’ve got Iraq, Iran, Middle Eastern peace opportunities, North Korea, Sudan, Burma. This is a world that is full of opportunities to spread freedom and hope and opportunity.”

THAT BRUSH WON’T CLEAR ITSELF: “And when it’s all said and done, I will have finished it with all my soul and all my might, and will go do something different.”

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Republican debate: Just because you didn’t find every Easter egg didn’t mean that it wasn’t planted

Florida debate. No transcript that I can find.

McCain denies having said that he still needs (at age 72) to be educated on economics. Which he did say. Claims he is “well-versed on economics”.

Ron Paul says that we are literally spending ourselves into oblivion. Brian Williams a couple of minutes later says that American banks are turning to foreign investors literally to stay afloat. If I hear the word literally misused one more time my head will figuratively explode.

Sorry. Pet peeve.

McCain brings up the “bridge to nowhere” over and over.

The Huck says that just because we didn’t find WMDs in Iraq “doesn’t mean they weren’t there. Just because you didn’t find every Easter egg didn’t mean that it wasn’t planted.” Although sooner or later those Easter eggs, like Bush’s justifications for the war, do start to rot.

The Huckster is allowed to get away with claiming that his proposed “fair tax” is 23% rather than 30%. He also says that more money you earn, the more the IRS and the government want from you. No one came forth to defend the principle of progressivity, of those able to pay more paying more.

Romney (in a blue suit with a blue tie against a blue background which over the course of the evening he seemed to melt into) (why does the suit look so much darker in all these pictures?) says that all the great progress in Iraq did not come from “General Hillary Clinton.” Which sounds like barely disguised sexism, but not in a way you could quite pin down, so he’ll get away with it.

McCain says the D’s would “raise the white flag” in Iraq, says it was totally worth every single dead American soldier.

The Huck, in a question to Romney about gun control, refers to “so-called assault weapons.” Romney promises never to support gun control legislation again.

Mittens flat out refuses to say how much of his fortune he’s putting into the race.

Just like Obama said in the last D debate that no one in all of America would refuse to vote for him because of his race, Mittens says no one in all of America would refuse to vote for him because of his religion. The Constitution says there shall be no religious tests, so it’s against the law for any voter to consider his Mormonism. Or something.

Romney says “the idea of Bill Clinton back in the White House with nothing to do is something I can’t imagine.” Which sounds like a barely disguised crack about Bill’s likin’ for the ladies, but not in a way you could quite pin down, so he’ll get away with it.

Mittens: Hillary takes her inspiration from the Europe of old (or possibly the Europe of Olde), Big Brother, Big Government...

Huckleberry says that he didn’t object when Chuck Norris said that McCain is too old to be president because Chuck can kick him in the head.

McCain says he’ll send Sylvester Stallone (who evidently just endorsed him, and has a new Rambo movie coming out) to beat up Chuck Norris. And by gum he’ll send Norman Schwarzkopf too.

McCain, in response to a question about his temper, which I think came from an email and not from the fact that McCain just threatened to send a 61-year old and a 73-year old to beat up a 67-year old, says temper what temper and claims to have lots of friends and adds that he admires the way Giuliani “led this country” after 9/11.

He’ll be gotten by a president

Bush tells Fox that it would be nice to capture Osama bin Laden “If we could find the cave he is in,” because “For the country, it’s a matter of closure in many ways for those who suffered under the attacks”. He says this closure will happen, you know, some day: “He’ll be gotten by a president.” Evidently Bush no longer thinks that he will getten have gottened begotten gottendamerung capturate bin Laden himself.

However, he says of bin Laden, “He’s isolated. He’s not out there leading any parades.” Yeah, George, imagine how that must feel.

Leading economic indicator

This morning, Bush announced an agreement on an economic stimulus package, which I believe entailed taking the Democrats’ lunch money and distributing it to the rich. This brings us to episode 3 of Everything You Need to Know About the Economy You Can Tell By the Expression on Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s Face.

Tom Toles

Click for larger.


This picture from the BBC website

is captioned, “In Lebanon, a protester holds up a piece of bread during a strike by agricultural and transport unions to protest against the rising cost of living.” Only in Lebanon could a strike by agricultural and transport unions to protest against the rising cost of living look quite so much like the Apocalypse.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Quiet normality

The Guardian says that the Afghan reporter sentenced to death was not the real target, that warlords were using the case to shut up his brother, who is also a journalist who has written about, among other things, warlords sexually abusing teenage boys. Given Afghanistan’s history, I’m not sure if blasphemy charges being used hypocritically by paedophile warlords isn’t an improvement over blasphemy charges being used sincerely by Taliban fanatics.

Olmert says of Israel’s blockade of Gaza: “Does anyone seriously think that our children will wet their beds at night in fear and be afraid to go out of the house and they [Palestinians in Gaza] will live in quiet normality?” Quiet. Normality. In Gaza. Prick.

Israel’s vicious collective punishment policy has once again made Hamas look like heroes, champions of the under-dog, and tricksters who out-witted the Israelis. The Israeli government is left sputtering that the Egyptians should help starve the Gazans into submission, while Abbas is left on the sidelines, impotent and irrelevant; once again an Israeli effort to isolate Hamas has instead succeeded in undermining Fatah.

We didn’t have a political discussion, we had a discussion on what’s best for America

An Afghan court has sentenced journalism student Sayad Parwez Kambaksh to death for blasphemy (after a rapid trial in which he had no lawyer) for downloading material about the role of women in Muslim societies. The re-Talibanization continues apace.

Speaking of re-Talibanization, Mike Huckabee compares “the seculars” to Nazis.

Bush met with a tammany of mayors today. “I’ve often said being mayor is a lot tougher than being President -- I don’t have to fill the potholes and empty the garbage.” I’ve tried to think of a joke about that without much success (the best being that if you think filling potholes is tougher than being president, you’re not doing it right). The problem is that I keep getting mental images of Bush emptying garbage and filling potholes, and I go to my happy place.

Bush said, “We didn’t have a political discussion, we had a discussion on what’s best for America, particularly given the economic uncertainty we face.” Yeah, “uncertainty,” that’s what it has. Here’s another picture (from yesterday) of Treasury Secretary Paulson’s “uncertainty”:

But here’s my point, George: if the #1 politician in America considers “a political discussion” as being the opposite of “a discussion on what’s best for America,” you’re not doing it right.

This is what a discussion on what’s best for America looks like

The point of the discussion (on what’s best for America) was to enlist the mayors in the push to ratify free-trade deals with Colombia and other countries because “It certainly doesn’t make any sense to say in a country like Colombia, your goods can come in our way, but our goods can’t come your way -- being treated the same way.” No, it certainly doesn’t make any sense to say that, George. Maybe if we try it IN OTHER WORDS: “In other words, they’re not treating us the way we’re treating them.”

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What Fred did between naps today

Fred Thompson is plum tuckered out of the race. So sad. I had planned to use the words “plum tuckered out” many more times about His Fredness. He says, “I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort.” Having made this what now, Fred?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Democratic Debate: I can’t tell who I’m running against sometimes

I didn’t watch, just read the transcript (part 1, 2, 3), but I thought Obama came off whiny when he complained that Hillary and Bill were both attacking him and it wasn’t fair. “Well, I can’t tell who I’m running against sometimes.” Barry: Hillary’s the one with the pearls.

Later, he is asked if Bill Clinton was the first black president. Says he would “have to, you know, investigate more of Bill’s dancing abilities.” Hillary says that could be arranged. At least then Obama would probably be able to tell them apart.

Hillary later says, “I believe that this campaign is not about our spouses.” Yeah, but only because CNN didn’t allow the short guy with the hot spouse into the debate.

Obama notes that Hillary was a corporate lawyer on Wal-Mart’s board, she notes that he was lawyer for a slumlord.

Edwards rather neatly skewers Obama’s explanation for voting against a 30% limit on credit card interest:
EDWARDS: You voted against it because the limit was too high, is that what you just said?

OBAMA: That is exactly what I just said, John, because...

EDWARDS: So there’s no limit at all.
Obama explains that he voted “present” 130 times in the Illinois state senate because that’s how they do things in the Illinois state senate.

Hillary notes, “It is very difficult having a straight-up debate with you, because you never take responsibility for any vote, and that has been a pattern.” She kinda has a point, but she was taking quite a risk that he wouldn’t bring up her circumlocutions about her vote authorizing the Iraq war. Which he didn’t.

I think I’m actually with Obama on not making it mandatory to get for-profit health insurance, but his explanation kind of sucks: “every expert that’s looked at this has said there is not a single person out there who’s going to want health care who will not get it under my plan.”

Favorite exchange:
EDWARD: Let me be really clear about that. It’s amazing now that being the white male...

OBAMA: You’re feeling all defensive about it, John. It’s all right, man.

EDWARDS: ... is different.

Obama says he is a proud Christian. He says D’s should go after the evangelical vote: “And when you don’t show up, if you’re not going to church, then you’re not talking to church folk.” I’m pretty sure they’re allowed out of the church from time to time. Also: folk?

I had a line about “carny folk,” but I thought better of it.

Edwards asks Hillary to take a pledge not to employ any corporate lobbyists in the White House. She says she doesn’t know. But “I’m independent and tough enough to be able to deal with anybody.” Isn’t that a well-expressed answer? The wrong answer, of course, but well-expressed.

Edwards responds that “When somebody gives you millions and millions of dollars, I think they expect something. I don’t think they’re doing it for nothing.” She says that trial lawyers are giving him lots of money. He says, “And what they expect from me is they expect me to stand up for democracy, for the right to jury trial, for the right for little people to be heard in the courtroom.” Rarely has the moral high ground been lost so fast and so ludicrously. Also: little people?

Final question: who would Martin Luther King endorse? On this, everyone is in agreement: Fred Thompson. Obviously.