Monthly Archives: August 2010

Eighty three point four

While the nation once again settles in for another day of blaming the current president for the wars we’ve been engaged in for (respectively) nine years and seven and a half years,  for the perfectly fine economy he mucked up and for his failure as prophet (he promised unemployment wouldn’t go over 7%, 8%, 9%, take-your-pick) . . . here is something I know. I know that Iraq is Obama’s fault because he’s a Democrat and Iraq was their fault – or so said Dan Senor on Chris Mathews‘ tonight – and he got away with it. (Senor was the PR flack for Paul Bremmer when he was emperor of Iraq).

But about that economy thing. This is a chart that I created some time ago for another post in which I was referring to the far right column, a percentage increase in debt – by president. As I said then, taking any one of these line items alone would mean nothing. But over this period of nearly 70 years, the pattern is clear. And damning.

This time, I ask that you look at the number in the first column after Barack Obama’s name. Just look at it. It is the number he gets to start with. So look again at that number. The starting number. And weep. Obama’s economy my ass.

UPDATE: A commenter thinks the chart above explains nothing and asks ‘where are the jobs?’.  So maybe these graphs will help him see where the jobs went. GOP loses jobs, DEMS have to get them back. Old story.

Earl is comin’ for the gays

See, God talks to me through my back teeth, right here.

God keeps having to send hurricanes to the U.S. to punish us for not stoning our gays to death – this time it’s Cape Hatteras again. Who knew they were such sinners?

Now, THAT was a show

Thomas over at Middle of the Freakin’ Road was soliciting song titles for road trips today and I suggested this one. I’d nearly forgotten about it. Bowie and Jagger together at Live Aid doing Dancin’ in the Street. One for the ages. (and it has me thinking about Queen too . . . )

Drop in and make suggestions if you’re so inclined.

Surprise, surprise and still we’re at war

Another example (see below) of how badly our press behaves. How the memes spread and an inference by a partisan party quickly becomes a spreading news story. Case in point: 3:17pm, I am tired of the paperwork under which I’ve been buried today; I turn on tv for a distraction. Here’s what MSNBC is telling me:

The NY Post has said that ‘some tenants’ of the big bad Imam Rauf are calling him a slumlord because he hasn’t gotten rid of the bed bugs in their building. (For those of you who don’t follow such trivia, the City of New York is fighting a city-wide infestation of bed bugs.) So Rupert Murdoch’s NY Post (also the originator of the terrorist mosque story) prints a non-story and MSNBC dutifully reports it as “The NY Post is saying that someone (unnamed) is saying . . . ” Take it from there. It’ll be all over the media tonight.

This is how the Fourth Estate drives the nation into a gutter of irrelevance while seeking to entertain itself and titillate its audience. They are teh suck.

Although, I kind of understand – after all, it’s really hard work to report that today is the 326th day of the ninth year of the war in Afghanistan.

Calling Mr. Bush, calling Mr. Bush

Dear President Bush:

I don’t like you. Never did. One reason is because you so deliberately played the dumbfuck regular guy when the cameras were on, as though that were a remotely appropriate image for the leader of the free world. Of course, you never were that dumb but you also weren’t well versed in history or philosophy which leaders should be. And that got us into a lot of trouble.

However, you did one thing right. After 9/11 you immediately saw the danger in pissing off a billion Muslims. Arab Muslims, Persian Muslims, American Muslims, Malaysian Muslims, Indonesian Muslims, Chinese Muslims, Indian Muslims . . . you got the point Mr. Bush. So you stepped up and spoke out in order to dampen primitive instincts which always rise up when an enemy is needed.

For some weeks now, it’s been time for you to speak out again. You haven’t (and now I have another reason not to like you). The leaders of your own party are playing footsie with very dangerous and simmering sentiments. They don’t say a word because they are cynical and opportunistic. But you’re retired now, never running for office again, and you owe us one. Step up and do the right thing.

WaPo: Editors? Bah humbug.

Here’s a perfect example of the casual use of equivalency in today’s media. Chris Cilizza, a columnist at the Washington Post and a regular on MSNBC, writes about Saturday’s Beckapalooza. He says no one really knows how many attended, saying:

You do know it's all about me, don't you?

“Estimates on the size of the rally have varied widely. According to one commissioned by CBS News, 87,000 people attended the event. Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin (R), who also spoke at the event, told a reporter afterward that she thought more than 100,000 people had attended.  Beck said that the crowd was between 300,000 and 650,000, and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), speaking at her own event after the rally, said that no fewer than 1 million people had been in attendance’

From CBS in their own report: “The company based the attendance on aerial pictures it took over the rally, which stretched from in front of the Lincoln Memorial along the Reflecting Pool to the Washington Monument. . . . gave its estimate a margin of error of 9,000, meaning between 78,000 and 96,000 people attended the rally. The photos used to make the estimate were taken at noon Saturday, which is when the company estimated was the rally’s high point.

So what we learned from Chris Cilizza this morning (and passed as perfectly good reporting by the Post’s ‘editors’) is this: crowd size guesses pulled from the a**es of the sponsors carry the same weight as  those arrived at by outside professionals hired by a news organization. Okay.

So, let’s just review. Estimates by Beck et al, as seen by Cilizza, worthy of reporting (at least they weren’t colluding – obviously), were:

Palin – 100,000

Beck – 300,000 – 650,000 (lottsa wiggle room in this one – either one thing or double that one thing. Somewhere in there.)

Bachman –  1 million by jeebus

Our government does not work any more

There have been a number of fine articles and columns recently examining the increasingly dysfunctional U.S. Senate. (see also Eric Alterman’s really important essay for a look at how the executive branch is doing.)

Norm Orenstein of the American Enterprise Institute (that’s the thoughtful conservative think tank, unlike Heritage which is entirely ideological) has an op-ed today in Times. (Yes, I am still reading the editorial page.) It is definitely worth a read. From it:

“Filibusters aren’t just more numerous; they’re more mundane, too. Consider an earlier bill to extend unemployment benefits, passed in late 2009. It faced two filibusters — despite bipartisan backing and its eventual passage by a 98-0 margin. A bill that should have zipped through in a few days took four weeks, including seven days of floor debate. Or take the nomination of Judge Barbara Milano Keenan to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit: she, too, faced a filibuster, even though she was later confirmed 99 to 0.”

This is quite remarkable. And entirely irrational.

Now, it is on to A Face in The Crowd. And by the way, Beck’s DC side show has every movement person of color on the stage. None in the audience of course cuz all two dozen of them are on the stage. An Indian too. Also I thought I saw a Pakistani.

Bob Herbert is the goods

Long time NY Times op-ed columnist Bob Herbert (he’s been there forever, but resists the trappings of stardom) departs from his usual measured tone today and goes after Glenn Beck. He says a lot of obvious and sensible things, as  is his wont. This line, especially, sings:

“He makes you want to take a shower.”

You’re not in Mayberry anymore Glenn

A few nights ago, I recorded A Face in the Crowd  so that tomorrow I could – if I wish – watch the real Lonesome Rhodes self-immolate while the cheap imitation ascends his coronation throne and gives his sermon on the mount down in DC. And then, if we’re all a little luckier than we’ve been lately,  someone might arrange to leave Mr. Beck’s mic on.

Katrina bonus oldie

While over at youtube reminiscing this morning, I found this. The man loved his city.

Friday oldie

This one was from the 50’s but was still getting a lot of play in 1960 and ’61. It has stayed with me because my then-best friend lived on a Blueberry Hill in Connecticut. And we listened to this over and over and over.

Fats Domino is just the right oldie  on this fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. I remember how worried everyone was that week, when he couldn’t be located. And when he did emerge from his house into a boat, it was an event. A welcome one.

Oh just shut up

They sure do elect  some fine 17th century fellows over in Louisiana.

Appearing before the Republican Women of Bossier with Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) cast the November elections as a choice between godlessness and Christianity. He also called bipartisanship impossible.

“We have two competing world views here and there is no way that we can reach across the aisle — one is going to have to win,” Fleming said.

We are either going to go down the socialist road and become like western Europe and create, I guess really a godless society, an atheist society. Or we’re going to continue down the other pathway where we believe in freedom of speech, individual liberties and that we remain a Christian nation. So we’re going to have to win that battle, we’re going to have to solve that argument before we can once again reach across and work together on things.”

In August! In Florida!

We’ve had so much rain – four days pretty much non-stop – and so little sun this week, temperatures dropped to the point where last night it was much cooler outside than it was inside. So I ran around and opened all the windows and sliders, turned the AC off  (in August! in Florida!) and slept in a house full of fresh air and a lively little breeze.  Short-lived, but joyful. The house is closed up again; things were a little tacky this morning but what the hell. It was so worth it. A beautiful night.

The pool is near to overflowing and the water is approaching c-o-l-d. In August! In Florida!

That said, the sun is out for a while, the thermometer is moving back up and the deep summer doldrums seem to be upon me . . . feeling quite unbloggy. So lite posting until my mood alters.

Meanwhile consider this – as the body count goes up – today is the 322nd day of the ninth year of the war in Afghanistan.

Florida Results

We are always interesting!

In yesterday’s primaries, Republican voters turned out in much higher numbers than Democrats which was pretty much expected, but the numbers are quite remarkable. What that means for the general election – particularly for hte national offices – is very hard to judge. Primary elections pull heavily from the party bases, the most involved and motivated voters.

House of Representative (my district) – only a Dem primary as the Rep incumbent had no opponent. James Golden, a lovely man who doesn’t stand a chance against the wealthy and entrenched incumbent Vern Buchanan, won the primary. He’ll lose the election. He beat my neighbor Rick Eaton, a native and an environmental activist.

U.S. Senate Dem primary: Kendrick Meek, former Congressman, knocked out Jeff Greene, billionaire businessman, with a strong 57% vs. 31%. Greene spent tens of millions. Didn’t help.

US Senate GOP primary: Marco Rubio, tea party favorite (although he’s been distancing himself in preparation for the general) got almost 85% of the vote. Aside from his tea party affiliation, he’s also from the Miami/Dade metro area, is of Cuban ancestry and speaks Spanish – population in his home county was as big a deal as tea party. He beat a few no-names.

Ultimately this will be a race between Rubio and Governor Charlie Crist, newly Independent. Charlie didn’t have a primary so he comes into this relatively unbloodied. And he, like Sink, is very popular.


Florida Governor GOP primary: Rick Scott (felon billionaire) beat Bill McCullom, current Attorney General with long career of public service. Scott got 46.4% and McCullom had 43.4%. Too bad. Money did it.

Florida Governor Dem primary: Alex Sink, current FL State Treasurer beat Brian Moore with 77% of the vote. Looking stong for the general.

Florida Attorney General Dem primary: Two terrific candidates. Dan Gelber won over Dave Aronberg.

Florida Attorney General GOP primary: Pam Bondi won over two State officials.

On to November.

I made no provisions for this possibility

What’s a liberal to do when John Boehner (deliciously named “The Tan Man” by Ed Schultz) says something I agree with? Even more? What to do when John Boehner says something that Paul Krugman (a.k.a. the ‘shrill one’) has been saying for 18 months? A puzzlement.

Is anyone surprised by this?

Protests, Rhetoric Feed Jihadists’ Fire

“Islamic radicals are seizing on protests against a planned Islamic community center near Manhattan’s Ground Zero and anti-Muslim rhetoric elsewhere as a propaganda opportunity and are stepping up anti-U.S. chatter and threats on their websites.”

It’s all at the Wall Street Journal, here.

This is what passes for stress in my life

I like four television dramas. Only four. They are all on at the same time. But if I stay up till 2:30 a.m. for the encores, I can see them all. I shall stay up until 2:30 a.m. And it will be worth it to see: Masterpiece Mystery: Inspector Lewis; Rubicon; Mad Men; The Glades.

Make that five. Louie.

UPDATE: Got a DVR upon counsel of commenters. It is a fine thing indeed.

What, me worry?

While our Muslim, Kenyan president is daring to vacation with his so-called ‘family’ at that communist den in Nantucket Sound, Bill at Under the Lobsterscope reminds us:

“BTW, by this time in George W Bush’s Administration, GWB had taken 115 days off. Obama has taken 48, counting this week’s trip to Martha’s Vineyard.”

The Ground Zero Mosque Hysteria

When unbloggy, I ‘borrow’ . . . I’ve even lifted part of the headline from the post by my friend The Arborist.

The most-important-thing-in-the-world, sayeth the free press

Lifted directly, shamelessly and in its entirety from The Backchannel Blog, some food for thought.  

Well, the world is going to hell in a hand basket, the economy is in the dumps, we’re in two wars, so what does the President decide to do?  GO ON VACATION!  And not just any vacation.  They’re going to Martha’s Vineyard, that bastion of snobby, effete, elite liberals.  This is another sign that he is a socialist Muslim born in Kenya.    


The Bush compound in Kennebunkport

Or perhaps the problem is that the Obama’s don’t have a vacation home.  FDR had Warm Springs,  Truman had Key West, JFK had  Hyannis Port, LBJ had his ranch, Nixon had San Clemente, Ford had Vail, Carter had his peanut farm in Georgia, Reagan had his ranch in Santa Barbara, Bush 41 a retreat in Kennebunkport, and Bush 43 his “ranch” in Crawford.  The only two presidents in recent history who didn’t have a vacation home are Clinton and Obama.   

Studies have shown that successful people all take time to recharge their batteries.  To those of the chattering class that are offended that the President is taking a little time off from the most stressful job in the world, I’d suggest it’s time for you to take a vacation.  

And may I add that if a vacation were not enough to prove him unworthy of the presidency, that he doesn’t go to Church ought to finish it. This failing actually made the network news (ABC) last night. Shame, shame, shame on them for being snookered again. And shame, shame, shame on the White House for putting out that “the President, however, prays every day – to Jesus”. Jeebus save us.  

Oh, and Reagan  didn’t go to church.

Friday night oldie

This is the only one of Bobby Vinton’s songs I ever liked. But I liked it a lot.

And it’s because they don’t even know how

The Daily Show’s writers are far better reporters than the ones at CBS.

Or NBC. Or ABC. Or CNN. Or MSNBC. Or Fox. Or PBS.

(Go watch the first eight minutes of the 10-19 show when they put it up. )

Thank you PBS, thank you!

If I used every superlative at my disposal, I don’t think I could adequately describe what I was privileged to see last night. PBS broadcast the Lincoln Center production of South Pacific – live, with the original cast. The show, which opened about two years ago is about to finish its run. It won nearly every award there is. I never thought I’d have an opportunity to see it. But I did.

Thank you public television. Thank you the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. I’m richer today for having seen this last night. (And thank you Steve for insisting I watch.)

Back to ‘who we are’

From the AP, via Huffington Post – I think this article is as thorough and fair a summary of the NY mosque controversy as I’ve seen to date.

“The center’s location, in a former Burlington Coat Factory store, is already used by the cleric for worship, drawing a spillover from the imam’s former main place for prayers, the al-Farah mosque. That mosque, at 245 West Broadway, is about a dozen blocks north of the World Trade Center grounds. Another, the Manhattan Mosque, stands five blocks from the northeast corner of the World Trade Center site.”

That says to me that the locality objection is made up and has no merit.

“But he’s made provocative statements about America, too, calling it an “accessory” to the 9/11 attacks and attributing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children to the U.S.-led sanctions in the years before the invasion. In a July 2005 speech at the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Center in Adelaide, Australia, Rauf said, according to the center’s transcript: “We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al-Qaida has on its hands of innocent non-Muslims.” While calling terrorism unjustified, he said the U.S. has supported authoritarian regimes with heinous human rights records”

I would add that countless Christian and Jewish clergy as well as the Dahli Lama and others have said the very same things. The Pope loudly condemned the US invasion of Iraq.

I don’t care much about religion, I don’t feel one way or another about this imam, I have no doubt that millions of Americans are sincere in their objections (not Gingrich though). For me, this is about only one thing and that is the American tradition of inclusion and tolerance about which we brag to the rest of the world – and rightly so. We often don’t do it right at first, but we always get there. And we never stop trying to get there.

Long day

But as I head to the slumber quarters, I wonder why this is not a bigger story on the intertubes?

Last full U.S. combat brigade leaves Iraq

Noodle this

“If terrorists ‘hate us because of our freedoms,’ then failing to respect those freedoms amounts to appeasement, right? … That makes Bill Kristol the Neville Chamberlain of this debate.”

Annonymous Liberal via Washington Monthy (can’t link Anon Lib; his smart comment came via some newfangled thing called the Twitter.)

More rain, more mudslides coming

We are very fortunate. Below, a satellite image from yesterday of the Swat Valley in Pakistan. 20 Million people are affected (and this is right next door to Afghanistan).

Pakistan floods map

It’s who we are

Blog friend Dave posted an interesting essay in June which I just came across while perusing his blog (my favored morning occupation while sipping my coffee after the swim – a blog a day keeps the narcissism away). His post was about the right’s misplaced celebration of the Founders  as unerring. Thinking of  today’s un-American kerfuffle about the Muslim center in lower Manhattan (I don’t use the term Ground Zero and I don’t know why. Must be the New Yorker in me.), I liked this bit :

Benjamin Franklin wrote in his essay “Tolerance”: “If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practiced it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England blamed persecution in the Romish church, but practiced it upon the Puritans. These found it wrong in the Bishops, but fell into the same practice themselves both here [England] and in New England (America).”

We have always been the inspiring example to the rest of the world of what a tolerant society looks like – hundreds of millions have striven to be like us. I don’t ever want to see that – the best in us – go away. But many apparently do.

Harry Reid can kiss my crock pot

But that may not be fair to the crock pot, an essential tool when the cook gets lazy.

The Majoritiy Leader of the United States Senate is joining the likes of Newt Gingrich in his disdain for the Bill of Rights.

The whole sad story

. . . of how the media empire of our Australian tycoon Rupert Murdoch  once again has carried a story from the fringes of the blogshpere to the front pages, beginnng with the NY Post and then broadcast through Fox News. It’s a shabby and disgraceful journey, and it’s timelined by reporter Justin Elliot at Salon. I gave up trying to excerpt, so here it is in its entirety.

How the “ground zero mosque” fear mongering began

A group of progressive Muslim-Americans plans to build an Islamic community center two and a half blocks from ground zero in lower Manhattan. They have had a mosque in the same neighborhood for many years. There’s another mosque two blocks away from the site. City officials support the project. Muslims have been praying at the Pentagon, the other building hit on Sept. 11, for many years. In short, there is no good reason that the Cordoba House project should have been a major national news story, let alone controversy. And yet it has become just that, dominating the political conversation for weeks and prompting such a backlash that, according to a new poll, nearly 7 in 10 Americans now say they oppose the project. How did the Cordoba House become so toxic, so fast?

 In a story last week, the New York Times, which framed the project in a largely positive, noncontroversial light last December, argued that it was cursed from the start by “public relations missteps.” But this isn’t accurate. To a remarkable extent, a Salon review of the origins of the story found, the controversy was kicked up and driven by Pamela Geller, a right-wing, viciously anti-Muslim, conspiracy-mongering blogger, whose sinister portrayal of the project was embraced by Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post.

 Here’s a timeline of how it all happened:

 Dec. 8, 2009: The Times publishes a lengthy front-page look at the Cordoba project. “We want to push back against the extremists,” Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the lead organizer, is quoted as saying. Two Jewish leaders and two city officials, including the mayor’s office, say they support the idea, as does the mother of a man killed on 9/11. An FBI spokesman says the imam has worked with the bureau. Besides a few third-tier right-wing blogs, including Pamela Geller’s Atlas Shrugs site, no one much notices the Times story.

  • Dec. 21, 2009: Conservative media personality Laura Ingraham interviews Abdul Rauf’s wife, Daisy Khan, while guest-hosting “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox. In hindsight, the segment is remarkable for its cordiality. “I can’t find many people who really have a problem with it,” Ingraham says of the Cordoba project, adding at the end of the interview, “I like what you’re trying to do.”
  • (This segment also includes onscreen the first use that we’ve seen of the misnomer “ground zero mosque.”) After the segment — and despite the front-page Times story — there were no news articles on the mosque for five and a half months, according to a search of the Nexis newspaper archive.
  • May 6, 2010: After a unanimous vote by a New York City community board committee to approve the project, the AP runs a story. It quotes relatives of 9/11 victims (called by the reporter), who offer differing opinions. The New York Post, meanwhile, runs a story under the inaccurate headline, “Panel Approves ‘WTC’ Mosque.” Geller is less subtle, titling her post that day, “Monster Mosque Pushes Ahead in Shadow of World Trade Center Islamic Death and Destruction.” She writes on her Atlas Shrugs blog, “This is Islamic domination and expansionism. The location is no accident. Just as Al-Aqsa was built on top of the Temple in Jerusalem.” (To get an idea of where Geller is coming from, she once suggested that Malcolm X was Obama’s real father. Seriously.)
  • May 7, 2010: Geller’s group, Stop Islamization of America (SIOA), launches “Campaign Offensive: Stop the 911 Mosque!” (SIOA ‘s associate director is Robert Spencer, who makes his living writing and speaking about the evils of Islam.) Geller posts the names and contact information for the mayor and members of the community board, encouraging people to write. The board chair later reports getting “hundreds and hundreds” of calls and e-mails from around the world.
  • May 8, 2010: Geller announces SIOA’s first protest against what she calls the “911 monster mosque” for May 29. She and Spencer and several other members of the professional anti-Islam industry will attend. (She also says that the protest will mark the dark day of “May 29, 1453, [when] the Ottoman forces led by the Sultan Mehmet II broke through the Byzantine defenses against the Muslim siege of Constantinople.” The outrage-peddling New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser argues in a note at the end of her column a couple of days later that “there are better places to put a mosque.”
  • May 13, 2010: Peyser follows up with an entire column devoted to “Mosque Madness at Ground Zero.” This is a significant moment in the development of the “ground zero mosque” narrative: It’s the first newspaper article that frames the project as inherently wrong and suspect, in the way that Geller has been framing it for months. Peyser in fact quotes Geller at length and promotes the anti-mosque protest of Stop Islamization of America, which Peyser describes as a “human-rights group.” Peyser also reports — falsely — that Cordoba House’s opening date will be Sept. 11, 2011.

 Lots of opinion makers on the right read the Post, so it’s not surprising that, starting that very day, the mosque story spread through the conservative — and then mainstream — media like fire through dry grass. Geller appeared on Sean Hannity’s radio show. The Washington Examiner ran an outraged column about honoring the 9/11 dead. So did Investor’s Business Daily. Smelling blood, the Post assigned news reporters to cover the ins and outs of the Cordoba House development daily. Fox News, the Post’s television sibling, went all out.

 Within a month, Rudy Giuliani had called the mosque a “desecration.” Within another month, Sarah Palin had tweeted her famous “peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate” tweet. Peter King and Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty followed suit — with political reporters and television news programs dutifully covering “both sides” of the controversy.

 Geller had succeeded beyond her wildest dreams.