Sunday, August 31, 2008

Where were they when....

Today, John McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin, swooped down on Jackson, MS, to check on the evacuation of people from the Gulf Coast ahead of Hurricane Gustav. As Will Thomas notes, this visit was of no use to the evacuees or those who are helping them; indeed, it put a load on local and state officials who had to make provision for the candidates, their staffs, Secret Service Details, press, etc., etc.

Of course, three years after Katrina, Republicans can be forgiven for a certain paranoia about Gustav, especially on what was supposed to be the first day of their national convention. (Almost all events have been canceled, in view of the hurricane, although it will hit nowhere near the Twin Cities.)

So, where was the Senator from Arizona on the day that Katrina made landfall? He was in Phoenix, with a friend:

The official White House caption for this photo reads, "President George W. Bush joins Arizona Senator John McCain for a small celebration of McCain's 69th birthday Monday, Aug. 29, 2005, after the President's arrival at Luke Air Force Base, near Phoenix."

Life imitates art, or at least televsion

Doesn't Sarah Palin remind you of someone?

Is she not doing a bad Gilda Radner skit?

Remember, the original Saturday Night Live cast was dubbed "The Not-Ready-for-Prime-Time Players."

Friday, August 29, 2008

One man's journey

A friend I met in the Obama campaign sent the following account of the journey that brought him to this point in our history. He has graciously permitted me to quote him:

Joe Biden quotes Robert Frost in Biden's (now best selling) book, Promises to Keep On Life and Politics:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

Nancy and I spent the last four days (as I am sure most of you did) watching the gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Democratic National Convention in Denver. (We discovered the first day that by watching the whole convention on C-SPAN we were sparred the commercial interruptions and the irrelevant commentators, and got to see every speech and hear all the music and spot friends in the crowd--nothing like actually being there, but the next best thing). We capped the convention last night, of course, by being swept away with the most riveting political speech of our lifetime. We both feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for living in this country at this time, and being able to participate in the most historic election for change in our lifetime.

So many thoughts and emotions came up for us, far too many to relate in this brief space. But some of the more salient bear noting, especially those that reminded me most poignantly of my own journey to this place of new-found hopefulness.

I grew up in a somewhat segregated small town in Central Indiana in the 1940's and 1950's, where African -Americans could go to public schools and participate in athletics, but could not swim in the local public pool, eat at the local drugstore lunch counter, or even try out for cheerleader. Racial epithets and covert prejudice were common, and some neighboring towns were widely known to be off-limits to Blacks after dark. I was extremely fortunate, however, to have had tolerant and accepting parents, and enough open-minded adults in the community that I felt I could and did develop some life-long friendships and attachments to several of my Black classmates (all of whom went on to impressive careers as lawyers,or school teachers, or ministers,or community leaders, etc).

I joined a fraternity while in college that had, it turned out, a national, de facto prohibition against admitting Blacks. None of the fraternities in my college accepted Blacks, and unfortunately few Blacks chose to attend my college.

I spent almost four years after college in the US Navy, almost all of it in Georgia and Virginia in the early sixties. I was introduced to Southern segregationist politics in Athens, Georgia in 1962 when the last of the long-time racist governors, Marvin Griffin, finally lost out to a "moderate" Democrat in the primary. Lemuel Penn, a noted Washington, DC Black educator , was assassinated by Klan nightriders in Athens shortly before I moved there, and the University of Georgia was first integrated when I was there in Athens. I lived in Norfolk, Virginia for two years, just after the schools were desegregated. I lived in rural Virginia for a year where the schools had just been desegregated but not the school buses. I was an officer on an aircraft carrier that had a special enlisted corps (stewards) that waited on officers and was made up solely of Blacks and Filipinos.

When I took my first (and only) law firm job in 1969, I learned that I would be joining an incoming class that had the first Black lawyer in the firm's then 120 year history (he later became with me a partner, a State Senator in Connecticut, president of the National Council of Christians and Jews, and remains one of my best friends .He was a delegate this week to the Convention, too)Happily, my firm has since taken leadership roles over the years to advance the opportunities for lawyers and staff of all colors and gender, so that now I think I can safely say that diversity is the norm, not the exception for us.

I set this brief history out to simply remind myself of how far we have come in this country (and in my own life) in the struggle to achieve racial justice. And to remind myself that Barack Obama, and hundreds of the delegates to the Denver Convention this week, had to overcome in their lives much of the prejudice and discrimination I just described. But we also were repeatedly reminded this week of how many miles we still have to go before we sleep, not only to achieve racial justice, but social, economic, and gender justice as well.

Almost too easy:

From McCain's announcement of his choice of Palin as his running mate.

As the head of Alaska's National Guard and as the mother of a soldier herself Gov. Palin understands what it takes to lead our nation and she understands the importance of supporting our troops.

Think she's ever led troops in battle?

Let's not forget

Today is John McCain's birthday! He's 72 years old. And I do mean old.

So, from one old guy to another:

Republicans change position on major issue, now favor affirmative action!

Does anyone think that McCain would have chosen Sarah Palin if she were a man? I didn't think so.

Talkingpointsmemo had a screen shot from, showing McCain and Palin behind a podium emblazoned with the slogan "Country First."

If McCain were really putting the country first, is she the person he would have chosen to take over as President if he dies or becomes incapacitated in office?

Even before being named...

...there's a scandal about Gov. Sarah Palin (R.AK). (TONE regrets the earlier mis-spelling of her name.)

Before it fades away in the 24-hour news cycle

This country of ours has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military on Earth, but that's not what makes us strong. Our universities and our culture are the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores.

Instead, it is that American spirit -- that American promise -- that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend.

That promise is our greatest inheritance. It's a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night, and a promise that you make to yours -- a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to travel west; a promise that led workers to picket lines, and women to reach for the ballot.

And it is that promise that forty five years ago today, brought Americans from every corner of this land to stand together on a Mall in Washington, before Lincoln's Memorial, and hear a young preacher from Georgia speak of his dream.

"The men and women who gathered there could've heard many things. They could've heard words of anger and discord. They could've been told to succumb to the fear and frustration of so many dreams deferred.

But what the people heard instead -- people of every creed and color, from every walk of life -- is that in America, our destiny is inextricably linked. That together, our dreams can be one.

'We cannot walk alone,' the preacher cried. 'And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.'

America, we cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be done. Not with so many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for. Not with an economy to fix and cities to rebuild and farms to save. Not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend. America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone. At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise -- that American promise -- and in the words of Scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.
Barack Obama,
Denver, CO
August 28, 2008

And the loser is.....

Apparently both Mitt (the Great Flip-Flopper) Romney and Tim (the Man Who Vetoed Money to Repair Roads and Bridges Before the Minneapolis Bridge Collapse) Pawlenty are out of the Republican Veepstakes. Last-minute reports are that it will be the governor of Alaska, Sarah Pallin.

Credit to my law partner, Kevin Powers, who has been predicting her for a while. (Could he have a pipeline to McCain? Hmmm. I'll have to check on that.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Stevie Wonder just sang Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm yours) for Barack and Michelle.

This being the Old New Englander, we still favor Happy Days are Here Again as the Democratic anthem.

Or the great American song, This Land is Your Land.

But if we're going to R&B, it ought to be Ain't No Mountain High Enough.


From a Dallas Morning News interview with John Goodman, who, according to the paper "helped craft Sen. John McCain's health care policy." After noting that those who must use the emergency room are, in effect, insured by the government, Goodman said,

I have a solution. And it will cost not one thin dime. The next president of the United States should sign an executive order requiring the Census Bureau to cease and desist from describing any American – even illegal aliens – as uninsured. Instead, the bureau should categorize people according to the likely source of payment should they need care.

So, there you have it. Voila! Problem solved.

I guess that passes for thinking among the GOPhers.

By the way, the Morning News headline for the article containing Goodman's comments was "Texas still leads nation in rate of uninsured residents."

Update: The McCain campaign denies that Goodman was an advisor.

Another great line

Bill Richardson:
John McCain may pay hundreds of dollars for his shoes, but we'll pay for his flip-flops.

Man of honor?

There's a theme that recurs in your books and your speeches, both about putting country first but also about honor. I wonder if you could define honor for us?

Read it in my books.

I've read your books.

No, I'm not going to define it.

But honor in politics?

I defined it in five books. Read my books.

John McCain in an interview with Time.

Hmm. Could it be that his mind was a little fuzzy?

Seriously, read the whole interview. John McCain has turned into the Manchurian candidate. He's clearly under the thumb of handlers who don't want to show the old--and we hope, the true McCain. Too bad for them, and him, because that guy might have a shot. When the American people see the new guy, he's going to get buried.

Best line of the day

So far, at least.

A reader: "Lieberman is now seen as George Bush without the intellectual complexity."

It's early yet, but it would take a real talent to top that one.

One picture is worth....

Billboard being put up around the Twin Cities for next week:

The zinger that might have been

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Obama's people edited this line out of Dennis Kucinich's convention speech yesterday:

"They're asking for another four years -- in a just world, they'd get 10 to 20."


Give credit where credit is due; that seems to be our new motto. I've never been a big fan of Bill Clinton, but last night's speech was terrific. I just hope he means it when he says he's willing to get out on the campaign trail for Obama.

To begin with, if I were Obama, I'd ask Bill to travel to the Twin Cities next week, along with Joe Biden, to bring some reality to the Republican fantasy that will unfold there.

And what would you think of Bill Clinton as ambassador to the UN?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Credit where credit is due

As regular readers will recall, this page was very critical of Hillary Clinton during the primary campaign. Let us acknowledge, then, that she has been a good soldier for the Democrats and the Obama campaign, crowned by her motion to nominate him by acclamation.

Let's also pay tribute to her ability to keep the fervent loyalty of her supporters. There are many who do not like Sen. Clinton, but she has built a cadre of people--not all of them women--who would walk through fire for her. Not many politicians can claim such a cadre.

A true test of character?

When I was canvassing for Obama before the New Hampshire primary, I ran into a number of independents who said they were intending to or thinking of voting in the Republican primary. Whenever I thought it not too awkward, I'd try to nudge them toward McCain as the best of the GOPhers.

Which makes me especially distressed that ambition seems to have stripped John McCain of all sense of decency and propriety, not to mention accuracy. The latest evidence of this is the way that McCain has twisted and distorted Barack Obama's words about Iran. TPM covers it very well here, so I won't repeat the details.

There are a lot of people who are after Barack to call McCain out for his distortions. A better tactic would be for him challenge McCain out what lies beneath the pattern of distortions that we are seeing. "Why is John McCain unwilling to have a serious debate on the challenges that face this nation? Why is he afraid to face what I really say? Why does he feel compelled to distort my remarks? Is it because he knows that he can't respond fairly and honestly to the ideas that I have put forward?"

Two New York stories

Think you've got problems? You'll shed a tear when you read about this family.

And I suspect you'll shed a different kind of tear when you learn about Sister Lucita Cangemi.

Two New York--and American--stories.

Happy Days Are Here Again

The MSM are pushing the disunion-angst theme at the Democratic convention. Viz. this from today's NYT.

I fear that when Barack Obama walks out on stage tomorrow night, it will be to some pulsing post-modern beat. Maybe I'm showing my age (why stop now?), but to me the theme of this even, and the Democratic Party, should be

Monday, August 25, 2008

As if things weren't bad enough

MSNBC reports that Bush is sending Dick Cheney to Georgia, and that John McCain is also dispatching his wife to the same place.

As an old Georgian expression has it, "Oy, gevalt!"

Musical interlude

Now, for your listening pleasure, the latest from the Obama campaign. Take a look here.

Practice makes perfect

Unless it doesn't.

McCain's people are running this ad using as his spokesperson...Hillary Clinton!

(Guess all those people who told Hillary she was acting as a stalking horse for the Repubs were right.)

We can expect a lot more of this from McCain's people, trying to counter McCain's age with references to Obama's (relative) inexperience. (For those who may not remember, Obama has more experience in elective office than a number of estimable presidents: Lincoln, TR, Wilson, and FDR come to mind. Not to mention the Republican hero, Eisenhower.

The real response to the McCain argument was given by my high school French teacher, Mary Jane Hogan. She used to tell us that the adage "Practice makes perfect," is wrong. Perfect practice makes perfect, she would say. If you practice it wrong, you just get worse. So, if you keep arguing for the wrong policies, as McCain has, you'll stay on the wrong road if you get into office.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A house is a house is a house

John McCain doesn't know how many houses he owns.

Then again, it's not clear that anyone else does, either. His staff says four. Newsweek reported last summer that he and Cindy own seven. A group called Progressive Accountability says the number if 10. And counting?

What does this tell us? That McCain is a rich guy who may be out of touch with most Americans? (Remember that he is the son and grandson of admirals and grew up on military bases around the world--not as a rich kid, but one with the privileges that accrue to the children of officers in a closed society that is in many ways cut off from the civilian US, even on bases in this country.)

Or is the guy losing his memory, perhaps?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Watch out for falling sky

A new Zogby poll has McCain leading Obama by five points nationally! Not only that, but more Americans trust McC on the economy than trust Barack.

Uh, huh.

You may choose to believe that more Americans trust McCain than Obama on the economy. You are also free to believe in the tooth fairy. The one is as likely as the other.

Could we be so lucky?

As to have John McCain pick Joe Lieberman as his running mate?

Please, please, please......

A friend suggests the perfect bumper sticker for the pair:


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Now HERE's a surprise

or maybe not. Thanks to Taegan Goddard's Political Wire for this one:

According to a study by the Center for Responsive Politics, Obama has out-raised McCain among troops deployed abroad, six to one!

Now, the sample size--based on campaign-finance reports--is small, but indicative. The troops, after all, know which side their bread is buttered on, and they know what really counts.

Wonder if the MSM will pick this one up. I bet the answer is no: it doesn't fit their model of the campaign.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Another view

of the roots of the Georgian crisis, by Anatol Lieven, of the New America Foundation. You might be surprised that I agree with most of what he writes, in view of my earlier comments. However, I don't think three's really a conflict. I don't defend what the Georgians did in going into South Ossetia; clearly it was going to provoke a strong Russian reaction. That doesn't justify a full-scale invasion of Georgia, however.

Georgia on my mind

The Russian attack on Georgia is an obvious revival of Czarist imperialism. More properly, Russian imperialism; the Soviets were little different from either the Czars or the present republic.

Less obvious is a parallel between Georgia and Czechoslovakia, a theme being played by the Georgians themselves, who suggest that if the West will not stand up to Russian imperialism in their country, the other nations on the fringe of the old Soviet borders are doomed. There is a good deal of cynicism in this, but also truth; if the Russians manage to topple the elected (and recently re-elected) government of Georgia, how safe can the Baltic nations or even Ukraine feel? All have large Russian minorities (which were greatly augmented during the Soviet years, as part of a policy to dilute the power of hereditary claims on such lands), such as the ones being used by the Russians in South Ossetia and the other Georgia's other break-away region, Abkhazia.

The Georgians, encouraged by loud protestations of friendship and alliance from the West--particularly by our own George W.--overstepped by moving into South Ossetia last week. Or maybe not. It's been suggested that a collision with Russian interests was inevitable, and that the Georgians knew they'd lose militarily but hoped to arouse the West to protect them against serious future threats. That's a high-risk strategy, but when you are the pro-western president of a small nation on the border of Russia, it may be the best you can hope for.

According to The New York Times, the Russian offensive has now reached into Georgia itself, outside the borders of the separatist enclaves. That presents the West with a real challenge; whether the Georgian simile between that small nation and the Czechs at the time of Munich was valid or not, it looks legitimate today.

So, what can the West do?

Given Russia's oil and gas wealth, and Western Europe's dependence on supplies from it, economic sanctions are likely to be laughed at. Nor can we expect any of our important NATO allies to do anything to annoy the Russians. (Not even the Poles, with their hereditary hatred of Russia.) The French, Germans and Italians, who won't even engage the Taliban in Afghanistan in a meaningful way, are not likely to flex military muscles or do anything else that might antagonize the Bear.

The American debacle in Iraq is, of course, a contributing factor here; we are so spread out and weakened that the Russians were undoubtedly encouraged to believe that we will do nothing but bluster at their ambitions. (They may prove correct in that assessment.) One of the few beneficial effects of our ineffectual adventuring, however, has been to place American forces not too far from Georgia. There are steps that we could take to make the Russians pause and that might encourage a diplomatic end to the crisis. They would first raise the temperature a great deal, but Putin--the man who still controls Russia, from all appearances--seems to be like my uncle Harold, about whom we used to say that you had to hit him upside the head with a 2 x 4 to get his attention.

The 2 x 4 might include:

--Shipping surface-to-air missiles to Georgia. Shoulder-fired missiles took a great
toll on Soviet aircraft in Afghanistan.
--Move elements of the Sixth Fleet from the Mediterranean into the Black Sea.
--Move a carrier task group to the Eastern Med, off Turkey, where it could
potentially provide air support to the Georgians. (We would not have to announce
that; Russian intelligence would undoubtedly pick it up.)
--Send American aircraft to Georgia and park them ostentatiously around Georgian
airfields, to deter further Russian airstrikes there. Some of them could be A-10
Warthog ground-attack aircraft (tank-busters) as a pointed warning against further
ground incursions

As I say, these steps would be serious and would increase tension to a very high level. They would have to be accompanied by insistence that a diplomatic solution is absolutely necessary. But I fear that we have few other options except defeat for our declared allies in Georgia, and for other democracies along the rim of the old Soviet Union. That is where George W. Bush's policies have left us.

Friday, August 08, 2008

What is it about these people?

First it was John McCain offering up his wife, Cindy, for a "beauty" contest that turned out to be "essentially a topless beauty pageant. And occasionally bottomless, too." Now, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, (R. MN), formerly known as The Man Who Vetoed Money That Would Have Repaired the I-35 Bridge Before it Collapsed, and now a top contender to be McC's VP nominee, is described this way in the NY Times:
As is his way, Gov. Tim Pawlenty made a self-deprecating aside on a local radio show this spring during the ceremonial start of the state’s beloved fishing season. He praised his wife’s willingness to fish with him and to watch hockey games, then added, “And I jokingly say, ‘Now, if I could only get her to have sex with me.’ ”
Self-deprecating is one way to describe it. I call it creepy.

What is it about these people? I mean, I never really believed that they were the party of values, but at least a little taste would be nice.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Flopping and flipping...

flipping and flopping.

John McCain admits that checking the pressure in your tires is a good idea: .“Obama said a couple of days ago says we all should inflate our tires. I don’t disagree with that. The American Automobile Association strongly recommends it.”

Well, OK, so maybe Barack was wrong when he said that McC and his crowd enjoy being ignorant.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

This is huge

Scientists at MIT take a giant step toward a practical means to efficiently split water into its constituents, which would permit hydrogen to become the equivalent of petroleum (and, I think, natural gas). Indeed, given that the Earth is 70 percent covered by water, and that combining hydrogen with oxygen (as in a fuel cell or an internal combustion engine) produces water again, coal, too, might be replaced.

I hasten to add that I don't really understand what this is all about; high-school chemistry was the only subject I flunked. But I think I know enough to realize that if this proves to be practical at scale, it is one of the most important developments since the splitting of the atom. And maybe before that.

A sad anniversary

Before we leave this day, let us note that, 63 years ago the US dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

The verdict is in

The suspense did not last long.

I am shocked! shocked!! to learn that CNN and Reuters report a guilty verdict in the Hamdan show trial. The surprise is that Reuters reports that he was actually acquitted of two of the charges.

Breaking news--Verdict at Guantanamo

A military jury has reached a verdict in the first "war-crimes" trial at Guantanamo Bay. Salim Hamdan, Osama bin Laden's former driver, has been on trial for allegedly aiding in al Qaeda's terror efforts.

The verdict is to be announced shortly.

I bet they find him guilty.

A new entry

Thanks to McCain's celebrity ad, there's a new entry in the Presidential race.

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


Here's something that will endear John McCain to Evangelicals and social conservatives.

So there he was campaigning at the huge annual motorcycle rally at Sturgis, SD, and someone told him about a beauty contest at a local joint called the Buffalo Chip. So what does McC do, but suggest that Cindy, his wife, enter:

Cute, if a little hokey right? Well.......

Here's a video of the Miss Buffalo Chip contest which, incidentally, they hold every night.

A reader at Talkingpointsmemo suggests that, "This amounts to John McCain volunteering his wife for a Girls Gone Wild video."

Remember the Republicans are the party of values.

Let us save you time

We're going to save you a lot of time and energy over the next three months, by removing the need to keep following the presidential campaigns. That's right, we're going to tell you now what will happen.

Here it is:

The campaign will be close into October, perhaps as late as about October 24th. Then Obama will begin to edge ahead--he'll have a relatively small lead before that, but the gap will begin to widen. In the last weekend before the voting, the media will be talking about whether McCain can close the gap, but that isn't going to happen. In the end, Obama will win it going away, and it won't really be close.

You heard it here, first.

(The foregoing is based on the assumption that there will be no major shockers between now and election day--that McCain doesn't have a heart attack or it come out that Obama underwent electroshock therapy, nor some really huge gaffe by one of the candidates or his close associates ("Rum, Romanism and rebellion"). If something like that happens, all bets are off.)

Now, don't you feel relieved to have all that free time for the next three months? We're always glad to help.