Monthly Archives: September 2011

The speech that got Obama elected

Remember this guy? (12:30 in is particularly interesting right now)

OMG, I’d forgotten John Edwards was the Veep candidate! Not our finest moment.

Can we kill our own just because they’re bad guys?

I guess we killed an important terrorist yesterday. Another clean, targeted hit. And we did it without invasion, always a good thing. Gotta tone down that invasion thing.

But there are concerns. AnWar al-Awlaki was a bad guy for sure. He was also an American citizen.

I just stumbled upon Spatial Orientation, a blog new to me and one I’ll visit again, where they’ve posted some commentary on the subject including a statement from Republican presidential candidate Gary Johnson and a post from professional liberal Glenn Greenwald, two fellows who are hardly ideological bedfellows but appear to be equally fond of the Constitution.

Johnson said that while he applauds vigilance in the WoT:

. . . we cannot allow the War on Terror to diminish our steadfast adherence to the notion of due process for American citizens.  The protections under the Constitution for those accused of crimes do not just apply to people we like — they apply to everyone, including a terrorist like al-Awlaki.  It is a question of due process for American citizens.

If we allow our fervor to eliminate terrorist threats to cause us to cut corners with the Constitution and the fundamental rights of American citizens, whether it be invasions of privacy or the killing of someone born on U.S. soil, I could argue that the terrorists will have ultimately won.

Greenwald added:

What’s most striking about this is not that the U.S. Government has seized and exercised exactly the power the Fifth Amendment was designed to bar . . . [but] that its citizens will not merely refrain from objecting, but will stand and cheer the U.S. Government’s new power to assassinate their fellow citizens, far from any battlefield, literally without a shred of due process from the U.S.

Awlaki has been linked to suspects in the 2009 Fort Hood, Texas shooting spree and the attempted Christmas bombing of a passenger jet, but he has neither been charged nor tried. It appears he was targeted because he preached jihad and recruited for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Like I said, a bad guy, but we have rules that say we can’t kill citizens because they don’t like the government.

(The killing was carried out by an unmanned drone,  another conversation we should be having.)

UPDATE: Johnson just appeared on FOX News. That’s an audience who need  a challenge to cherished beliefs. He did a good job.  The video is here.

Friday oldie

Another hit for Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. That back beat is just as strong as the vocals.

Still the best car commercial ever. Ever. Ever.

Data does Jean Luc

For Star Trek fans:

Christie isn’t running for President. Yet.

The first time I heard Gov. Christie (R-NJ) speak I was impressed and delighted to hear candor, something that’s been missing in our national life for decades, maybe longer. I don’t know much about his policy positions. My reaction was entirely to the man. (Yes, he can border on rude, but no one is perfect.)

Yesterday he gave a speech at the Reagan Library on domestic and foreign policy – anyone reading that as a political ‘signal’ could not be blamed. It occasioned wall to wall time on cable because our Washington press corps always loves them a ‘flip flopper’ so the prospect of the biggest fish flop of them all was downright arousing. Tingle up the leg kind of arousing. But it sounds like they’ll be left at the altar.

I didn’t hear the speech, just the Q&A folllowing it and I’m even more impressed. Continue reading

We’re still in great company I see

Got this at The Daily Dish:

In 2010, as far as I can tell, these five states executed the most people:

1. China (2000+)
2. Iran (252+)
3. North Korea (60+)
4. Yemen (53+)
5. USA (46)

The writer notes that capital punishment is banned outright in majority Catholic countries, so “perhaps it has more to do with a very particular brand of Protestant Christian theology. . . “

FL 13 is just bursting with pride

My very own congressman, Vern Buchanan (R), has made yet another ‘most corrupt’ list. And this time he’s Number Two! (Vern is often under investigation right here at home too.)

This from The Street, the investment newsletter:

2011’s Most Corrupt

  • Rep. Charles Bass (R-N.H.)
  • Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fl.)
  • Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.)
  • Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.)
  • Rep. Frank Guinta (R-N.H.)
  • Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.)
  • Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.V.)
  • Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.)
  • Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.)
  • Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Oh.)
  • Sen. David Vitter (R-La.)
  • Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.)
  • Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.

Bet you didn’t know this

NYC Police Chief: NYPD Could Take Down An Airplane If Necessary


Maru takes-off on his own schedule thankyouverymuch

Maru, captured on the runway by Dependable Renegade, contemplating his next move.

Waste not, want not? Nah, Grandma had it wrong. Silly Grandma.

We’re a short sighted people, just asking for trouble. And it will come. Oh, it will come.

Oil companies have begun extracting oil from shale fields now. Doing it the responsible way is, however, expensive. Profit is god in our f-r-e-e-d-o-m  market, so any other considerations are for sissies. The Times reports from North Dakota:

Flames of wasted natural gas light up the prairie

. . .  the deliberate burning of natural gas by oil companies rushing to extract oil from the Bakken shale field and take advantage of the high price of crude. The gas bubbles up alongside the far more valuable oil, and with less economic incentive to capture it, the drillers treat the gas as waste and simply burn it.

Every day, more than 100 million cubic feet of natural gas is flared this way — enough energy to heat half a million homes for a day.

And look, this is way cool: we’re like Nigeria and Iran!

All told, 30 percent of the natural gas produced in North Dakota is burned as waste. No other major domestic oil field currently flares close to that much, though the practice is still common in countries like Russia, Nigeria and Iran.    

But take comfort, we’re “not as bad as Kazakhstan” . . .

. . . but this is not what you would expect a civilized, efficient society to do: to flare off a perfectly good product just because it’s expensive to bring to market,” said Michael E. Webber.

Anyway, those companies can always count on us to go to war somewhere if we need more. Just not on their dime.

Atrios proves again that a few well chosen words work just as well

There’s a wee flaw in designing an economy which requires people to spend a huge amount of money to purchase and maintain a giant metal box in order to be able to drive to minimum wage jobs.


Let the party begin

Charles Pierce, one of the snarkiest and funniest political observers in the land, has a permanent blog home at last! Visit The Politics Blog at Esquire for his delightful take on almost anything.

Here’s some delicious from today:

Newt, you see, is a man of ideas, and one of his ideas is that he is a  historical figure already. Rarely do you see a man visibly carving himself in  marble before your eyes.

Now that’s some wordsmithing.

Social Security retirment age is not 65

Fer Elvis’ sake! I can’t bear it any more.

What we hear: the eligibility age for full Social Security benefits is 65. Why, we all know that; it’s SS 101. And we also know that based on that, one of the popular ‘solutions’ to our non-existent SS problem is “raise the age to 67.”

FACT: The age for full benefits hasn’t been 65 since 2005.  At that point, based on the 30-year formula worked out by Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill and passed into law by Congress, the age began adjusting upward by two month increments each year, beginning in 2005. By 2016, the age will be 67. By law. Passed 28 yeas ago.

We need to get the word to our press and our legislators. Before they hunker down to write legislation, they really need to know this:

The social security age is not 65 any more.

Alec Baldwin? How much pain can Perry handle?

h/t Mac



Pew and Gallup show similar poll results – but check the headlines

Please fact check me. I may have slipped a gear.

This, yes, this is from The Weekly Standard. The author, yes, the author is William Kristol, the man who discovered Sarah Palin during a cruise to Alaska and promoted her to the Republican Party, who didn’t see the grifter – they saw salvation. Suckers.

THE WEEKLY STANDARD’s official reaction to last night’s Republican presidential debate: Yikes.

. . . The e-mails flooding into our inbox during the evening were less guarded. Early on, we received this missive from a bright young conservative: “I’m watching my first GOP debate…and WE SOUND LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!” . . .

But in a week in which markets collapsed, Solyndra exploded, our Middle East policy was in meltdown, the Iranian nuclear threat became more urgent, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff fingered our “ally” Pakistan as a sponsor of terror against American forces in Afghanistan—none of the candidates really seemed up to the moment, either politically or substantively. In the midst of a crisis, we’re getting . . .  a somewhat subpar version of politics as usual . . .

And Elvis help me, but it seems that young William, son of the more famous Irving, agrees with me. I’ve said (tooting horn! tooting horn!) from the first day that Perry would crash and burn.

. . . no front-runner in a presidential field has ever, we imagine, had as weak a showing as Rick Perry. It was close to a disqualifying two hours for him.


Friday oldie. And this time Don, it really is Friday

Paul Anka wrote and recorded this but I can’t find a decent version on youtube. Anka’s recording was the hit but here’s The Lettermen doing it.


Shocker: Bachmann never accepted bioethicist’s HPV vaccine bet


Yesterday was the deadline for Michele Bachmann to accept University of Pennsylvania bioethicist Arthur Caplan’s challenge to produce a single person who’s developed “mental retardation” from Gardasil. Caplan offered to donate $10,000 to a charity of her choice if she could just locate the mystery woman whose daughter became disabled after being vaccinated for HPV. Bachmann never responded, probably because she’s been plugging her ears and humming to herself to prevent scientific facts from seeping in. Caplan says he’s still glad he made the bet because, “Politicians shouldn’t get away with hearsay. We need to hold candidates responsible for their sources.”


Ted Haggard Appearing on Celebrity Wife Swap . . .

Well that’s unsettling. But there’s more.

. . . with Gary Busey

On the surface, it might seem like an unlikely pairing, but there are several surprising parallels between Busey and Haggard.  Busey is a born-again Christian and active minister with Promise Keepers, and Haggard has returned to the ministry as pastor of St. James, a new nondenominational Christian church in Colorado Springs.Haggard resigned from the New Life Church in disgrace in 2006, amid revelations that he had had a drug-fueled sexual relationship with a gay male former escort. He recently admitted to GQ that “probably, if I were 21 in this society, I would identify myself as a bisexual,” though he has denied since the scandal that he is gay.

Haggard is also slated to make a cameo as himself in a Christian sex comedy promoting abstinence, called The Waiting Game, assuming the movie can scrape together the funding.

Who knew!

Here’s what I learned from Mitt Romney tonight:

We are a patriotic people. Americans put their hands over their hearts during the playing of their national anthem. No other people on earth do that.

Someone ought to have told Nelson Mandela when they played his national anthem at the Olympics that he was disrespecting our traditions.

Friday Oldie: yup, even Wayne Newton

This song, for reasons I can’t discern from the here and now, was a great favorite in a bar I frequented in the early ’60’s, called The Village Corner, the corner being Bleeker Street and West Broadway.  My friends and I played it over and over; either it’s really not a bad song or the power of fond reminiscence is strong. But I will caution you not to seek a video version (and there are many). Nobody really needs to see that.

UPDATE: Don tells me it’s Thursday. So it goes – there will be a bonus tomorrow.

The Weekly Standard discovers that graphic design is out to get us. Again.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen periodic outbreaks of hysteria amongst our right wing brethren as they keep identifying secret Muslim messaging hidden inside logos and building shapes. Usually these subversive graphics are connected to our Muslim Kenyan president. Like here from the intellectual giants at Free Republic.

Here we go again. The Weekly Standard (how ya’ doin’ Fred Barnes? Cut back on the caffeine yet?) has found an anti-Israel ‘message’ within a graphic on the home page  of the Palestinian Observer Mission, where a small square on a map of the world serves to outline the entire Middle East. That provoked this headline.

Palestinian Logo Suggests Elimination of Israel

This graphic, according to them, doesn’t acknowledge that Israel is not Arab. Or something. Scared yet?

Don’t forget. Some republican luminaries are talking tonight.

From Orlando, tonight at 9:00 pm on FOX News.  Remember to  put the children to bed and hide all weapons. Then you can pop the popcorn.

What are you doing tonight? Troy Davis will be dying. Right on schedule.

In front of the Georgia State House

The State of Georgia will finish off Troy Davis tonight. The Pope asked nicely and so did a former President and former FBI Director Louis Free,  a large number of former Federal prosecutors and Justice Department lawyers and, um, Europe. But.

In our country, you can’t be found guilty if there’s reasonable doubt, but you can be executed.

UPDATE: 7:21 Sara Totonchi of the Southern Center for Human Rights confirms the prison has temporarily delayed the execution while awaiting word from the U.S. Supreme Court on whether they can proceed with the execution tonight.

FINAL UPDATE: 10:57 State Attorney Generals office notifies MacPhail’s mother Anneliese “[Davis] is on the gurney, the needle is in.”

h/t Atlanta Journal Constitution

Fry and Laurie say gay and the next thing you know . . .

The word gay used to be a lovely word . . . A LOVELY WORD.

Congressional leadership: not a clue

The 'gang' of four

David Frum was George W. Bush’s speechwriter mostly on economic issues. (He probably should have stayed in his comfort zone because he also authored the phrase ‘axis of evil’ about which enough said.)

Lately, he’s become a frequent critic of the rhetoric of not only the Tea Party but of Republicans in Congress. To wit: John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Eric Cantor and John Kyl, the Republican leadership in Congress, wrote a letter yesterday to Ben Bernanke.


I’m not shocked by much any more, but I am shocked by this: the leaders of one of the great parties in Congress calling on the Federal Reserve to tighten money in the throes of the most prolonged downturn since the Great Depression.

One line in the letter caught my eye as summing up the unreality of the Republican leaders’ position:

“We have serious concerns that further intervention by the Federal Reserve could exacerbate current problems or further harm the U.S. economy. Such steps may erode the already weakened U.S. dollar or promote more borrowing by overleveraged consumers.”

Are they serious? We are living through the most rapid deleveraging of the American consumer since the 1930s.

. . . if you’ve convinced yourself that Obama is the Second Coming of Malcolm X, Trotsky, and the all-conquering Caliph Omar all in one, then perhaps capsizing the US economy and plunging your fellow-citizens deeper into misery will seem a price worth paying to rid the country of him.

But on any realistic assessment of the problems faced by Americans – and not just would-be Republican office-holders – [the problem] is the recession, not the presidency.

Elizabeth Warren: pay it forward. Duh.

Here’s the woman making sense, as only she can. Dear Elvis, I wish I could vote for her. Her election is not a given, even in Massachusetts, but at a time when it’s all about the economy, there’s no one out there with her credentials. And there’s no one out there with her skill at talking to those problems in an uncomplicated and direct way. Powerful combination.

She has another unique tool to use: after years of testifying before Congress, often to very hostile questions, Warren is remarkably adept at defending her positions. That will help. The media will be hard pressed to find her stumbling or saying dumb things.  Here’s the video. I picked up the transcript  here.

I hear all this, you know, “Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever.”—No! There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody.

You built a factory out there—good for you! But I want to be clear.

  • You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for.
  • You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate.
  • You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.
  • You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize
    everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did.

Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or [had] great idea—God bless. Keep a big hunk of it.

But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.

Argue me that.

Can’t be too careful.

Howard Keel starred in the movie

We are such wusses.

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – A western Pennsylvania school district has decided not to stage a Tony Award-winning musical about a Muslim street poet after members of the community complained about the play on the heels of the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

The Tribune Democrat of Johnstown reports Richland School District had planned to stage “Kismet” in February but Superintendent Thomas Fleming says it was scrapped to avoid controversy.

Fleming tells the newspaper that sensitivity is understandable in part because one of the hijacked planes crashed in nearby Shanksville.

Music director Scott Miller tells The Tribune-Democrat the district last performed “Kismet” in 1983.

Miller says the play has no inappropriate content but he and other members of the performing arts committee decided to switch to “Oklahoma!” after hearing complaints.

“Kismet” won the Tony for best musical in 1954.

Paul Simon at ground zero

I missed this. At the 9/11 Memorial ceremonies, Paul Simon played The Sounds of Silence. I find it very moving.

Simon was born, raised and lives in Manhattan. The grief is still carved into his face.