September 30, 2008

Pity not Palin

I admit that as I've seen Governor Palin flailing for answers when being interviewed by Katie Couric I've cringed. I'm not alone, as the links in this Salon article by Rebecca Traister point out. But Traister has a clear-eyed view of this:

Sarah Palin is no wilting flower. She is a politician who took the national stage and sneered at the work of community activists. She boldly tries to pass off incuriosity and lassitude as regular-people qualities, thereby doing a disservice to all those Americans who also work two jobs and do not come from families that hand out passports and backpacking trips, yet still manage to pick up a paper and read about their government and seek out experience and knowledge.

When you stage a train wreck of this magnitude -- trying to pass one underqualified chick off as another highly qualified chick with the lame hope that no one will notice -- well, then, I don't feel bad for you.

When you treat women as your toys, as gullible and insensate pawns in your Big Fat Presidential Bid -- or in Palin's case, in your Big Fat Chance to Be the First Woman Vice President Thanks to All the Cracks Hillary Put in the Ceiling -- I don't feel bad for you.

Traister expands on the other parts of my feelings about her VP bid: that she went into it with her eyes wide-open (remember she told Charlie Gibson she didn't blink when Senator McCain asked her to run), and she doesn't deserve any pity. Neither does McCain.

Reap what you sow and all that.

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September 29, 2008


The House has (for now) voted down the proposed bailout plan.

It astonishes me that Republicans are getting away with bashing Wall Street as the root of all evil after licking its boots ever since Ronald Reagan took office.

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September 28, 2008


Weather was a national obsession and had been for centuries. Countless men, including some of the most prominent of their times, kept daily track of the weather and often for decades on end. Thomas Jefferson kept a lifelong weather journal and on July 4, 1776, despite certain other pressing matters, noted the temperature in Philadelphia to be a lovely 76 degrees.

From Isaac's Storm, written by Erik Larson in 1999, several years before he wrote The Devil in the White City. The storm in question is the deadliest one ever to hit the United States, the one which destroyed Galveston in 1900.

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New York stadium closings

I haven't spent more than four days of my life in NYC, so it's not surprising that I have no memory of Yankee Stadium, which is due to be torn down this winter. I actually did attend a game at Shea Stadium, also closing this year. The game I saw was in 1965, when we went to the New York World's Fair. Even though I saw Koufax beat the Mets, my bigger memory of the Fair is probably seeing the Aston-Martin used in the James Bond film "Goldfinger."

Anyway, it's the end of a baseball era in NYC today, so goodbye to both of those concrete edifices.

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iTunes question

Has anyone else discovered that after downloading iTunes the background colors for the library have gone berserk? In list format my background is an awful magenta and the sidebar is dark green. It doesn't seem to matter whether the new enhancement Genius is turned on or off.

Does anyone know how to turn iTunes for Windows backgrounds on and off? All I want are the nice plain gray shades back!

Update: Aha! Google is your friend. Here's the fix. Right-click your Windows XP background, select Properties, click the Settings tab, and set it to Highest (32-bit). Then click Apply and click Yes when warned that your desktop has been reconfigured; otherwise it will revert to your prior settings in 30 seconds.

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September 27, 2008

Is this bailout needed?

Yes, says Bruce Bartlett.

When you make a bank deposit, you're essentially lending your money to the bank, which relends it in mortgages, to businesses and for other purposes. It makes a profit on the spread between what it pays depositors and what it receives on commercial loans.

Thus, there's an inherent mismatch between a bank's assets and its liabilities - it can't cash in all its assets quickly, even though it is in theory obliged to pay most liabilities on demand.

So, even if depositors were willing to take checks instead of currency for their deposits, they couldn't all be paid if there were a bank run. It would take a considerable amount of time for any bank to call in its loans or sell them to raise the funds necessary to pay off every depositor.

If a bank finds itself in such a situation and has to sell a lot of its assets quickly, any potential buyer will certainly offer much less than the assets are worth: When you have someone over a barrel, you can pretty much name your own price.

That "fire sale" situation will drive down the value of those assets - increasing the risk of bankruptcy even when a bank has been managed responsibly.

A secondary problem can then develop - because other banks hold similar assets. When one bank starts unloading at fire-sale prices, this drives down the market price - imposing losses on everyone holding such assets.

Under mark-to-market accounting rules, banks must recognize these losses immediately - even when their intention is to hold a bond or mortgage to maturity and (likely) be paid the full face value of the asset.

What prevents this house of cards from falling is confidence: People don't feel compelled to hold all their money in cash under their mattress and the system functions smoothly.

But, should confidence be shaken, the risks are very great indeed.

There are, of course, policies in place today that didn't exist in 1929 that make another Great Depression unlikely. (The most important is federal deposit insurance for the vast bulk of deposits.) But there is still a great danger that, if the financial sector becomes overloaded with assets falling in value, it could lead to a long period of economic stagnation, such as that suffered by Japan in the 1990s.

One reason for this is that Federal Reserve policy becomes impotent when the financial system simply can't distribute changes in the money supply throughout the economy.

We're seeing evidence of this already, as interest rates on Treasury securities fall to very low levels. When this happens, we have what economists call a "liquidity trap" - and it means that the Fed is incapable of stopping a deflation once it gets started.

Bottom line: We're closer to the precipice than Congress or most of the public understands. Our entire economic system really is at stake - and those treating the bailout plan as just another government spending program are seriously wrong.

Failure of this plan risks another Great Depression. Really.

You can see the fear in Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's eyes and in those of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. But they dare not say how critical the situation is - lest it shake confidence and make matters worse.

This is not to say that the administration's plan is the best we could do. But now is not the time to come up with something better. There is no time. The program can be revised later, when the emergency is past. For now, everyone should hold their noses and vote "yes" on the bailout.

If that doesn't scare you, I don't know what will.

Via Brad DeLong.

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Fallows on Debate #1

James Fallows may have the best take on last night's events in Oxford, MS.

Side note: I read somewhere that the debate took place almost exactly 46 years after the then-chancellor of Ole Miss denied James Meredith entry to the school. I imagine that symbolism was considered when debate sites were being discussed.

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Debate #1

My impressions: Obama was cool, collected, and polite. McCain was grouchy, contemptuous and condescending. McCain was also factually challenged in spots.

Since optics are often more important than content (regrettable but true. Al Gore sighed!), I'd say Obama won the bout on points.

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September 26, 2008

The 82nd Airborne he's not

Senator McCain parachuted into the negotiations for the bailout bill, blew up the deal, and then decided that his work was done and he could in good conscience go off and debate.

So what kind of bill does he back? One which removes even more regulations on capital.

He's certainly proving that he doesn't really understand economics.

What the hell does he think is going on here? The financial industry, in part because it was unregulated, began selling credit instruments which made no economic sense but generated millions if not billions of fees, and he wants to reduce regulation further?

A lack of understanding doesn't cover it; McCain is certifiably an idiot.

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September 25, 2008

Yabba Dabba Doo!

The Dodgers win the pennant! The Dodgers win the pennant!

Without throwing a pitch tonight, no less. By virtue of the Cardinals' defeat of the Diamondbacks this afternoon, the Dodgers are going to the playoffs this season. Who are they gonna play? Undecided.

the Dodgers still have three possible opponents for the Division Series scheduled to start on Wednesday. If the Milwaukee Brewers win the Wild Card, the Dodgers will play the East winner, either New York or Philadelphia. If Milwaukee doesn't win the Wild Card, the Dodgers will play the Cubs.

Doesn't matter.

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September 24, 2008

Mortgages lead to perdition

Well, actually, mortgage securitization leads to perdition.

Via Digby comes a link to a précis of the economic meltdown so far. I'm not gonna cut and paste because it's too good to trim. Read the whole thing. Don't show it to McCain; he might suddenly understand the situation, which might then improve his chances in November. We can't have that.

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September 23, 2008

No, sir, you didn't say that

Paul Krugman writes:

Daniel Davies, in one of the great blog posts of this era, laid down a key principle:

Good ideas do not need lots of lies told about them in order to gain public acceptance.

He was talking about the selling of the Iraq war, but it applies more generally.

Krugman then accuses Hank Paulson (SecTreas) of doing just that today in a Senate hearing (the link has video).

What did Paulson say that caused Mr. Krugman to be so accusatory?

We gave you a simple, three-page legislative outline and I thought it would have been presumptuous for us on that outline to come up with an oversight mechanism. That’s the role of Congress, that’s something we’re going to work on together. So if any of you felt that I didn’t believe that we needed oversight: I believe we need oversight. We need oversight.

Er, Mr. Secretary, that's not at all what your proposal said.

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September 22, 2008

And how was your day?

Annoyance can be defined as having enough change for only thirty minutes for a parking meter downtown near the Federal building. It can be further defined as then waiting an hour-and-a-half in the IRS office to speak to an agent at one of its windows. It can finally be defined as waiting only two minutes to get the printout you need once you are able to ask an agent for it.

Fortunately, further annoyance was avoided by returning to my car and finding no ticket under the windshield wiper, despite having overstayed my meter by forty-five minutes.

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September 21, 2008

Consensus emerges

But will Congress listen?

Here's a roundup of economists who say the bailout plan as currently written is a lousy horrid deal for taxpayers.

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September 20, 2008

Will Obama raise my taxes?

Go fill out three boxes on this widget to find out. The calculations are done using data from the non-partisan Tax Policy Center.

Via Ezra Klein.

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Any Congressman who agrees to the text of this proposed plan no longer deserves to hold office. Time to get on your phones, people.

There's a lot wrong here. As Krugman says:

Treasury needs to explain why this is supposed to work — not try to panic Congress into giving it a blank check. Otherwise, no deal.

The most egregious part of it to me?

    Sec. 8. Review.

  • Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

No thank you. If Congress gets stampeded into this they might as well admit their branch of government is useless and should be disbanded.

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Flip, flop, fizzle

Via Paul Krugman's blog, Senator McCain wrote in the current issue (!) (.pdf) of "Contingencies," which is a monthly magazine published by the American Academy of Actuaries:

Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.

So deregulation was highly desirable one or two months ago when he wrote the article, but after this week he's railing against deregulation and its proponents (Senator, have you met your adviser Phil Gramm? Senator Gramm, meet Senator McCain).

Senator McCain has drunk deep of the free-market ideological waters, I'm afraid; The market will solve everything! Except when it's expedient for him to say otherwise.

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September 19, 2008

Effective? You be the judge

Defenders of Wildlife has just released this ad:

That ought to tug at a few heartstrings.

Via Digby.

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Bad debt

Twenty-something years ago I was made responsible for the billing and collection activities of my employer. At the time we had about $600,000 of bills outstanding to our customers. Some of those bills were over a year old, and the odds of collecting on any of them was virtually nil. So I sat down with my boss right after Christmas (we were on a January-December accounting year), studied the list of outstanding accounts receivable 90-days-old and over, and began selecting accounts to be written off as uncollectible. The offsetting account we charged those dollars to was called "Bad Debts."

This act was an admission on our part that our salespeople had sold services to people who either never could or never would pay for those services. (Before you ask, of course no salesperson was ever chastised about qualifying a lead; silly you for thinking of it.) No rational person would ever have thought about taking on the collection of those accounts; most of the people whose name was on those accounts could rightly argue it was nothing more than a continual running of the monthly membership dues meter long past the time when they'd stopped using our facilities.

So when I learn that the Bush Administration is suggesting that you and I be the buyers of hundreds of billions of dollars of bankers' bad debts, I'm skeptical that you and I are ever gonna get any return on this deal.

It may or may not be the right thing to do for the poor schmoe who can't pay his ARM after his monthly payment has doubled, but don't try to sell me the idea that we're gonna get any return on it.

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September 18, 2008

Don't believe the Internet, v. 9.1

I'm supposed to put my green waste out for pickup on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of each month, according to that .pdf map.


I did that on September 4 and nobody showed up. I did it again today and nobody has shown up. I called the refuse collection people and was told "No, collection days for your street are the 2nd and 4th Friday of each month."

So much for their website.

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September 17, 2008

Palin = Natasha?

Oh, dear.

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Voting survey

I got an e-mail yesterday from some students at NYU asking if I'd post a link to a survey they're doing, trying to learn why people vote the way they do. They ask that the post be kept comment-free in order to avoid newer survey participants' attitudes being swayed by the responses of those who've already taken it.

It sounded interesting, so I thought I'd post the link.

Here's their suggested blurb:

A research team from the Psychology Department at New York University, headed by Professor Yaacov Trope and supported by the National Science Foundation, is investigating the cognitive causes of voting behavior, political preferences, and candidate evaluations throughout the course of the 2008 U.S. Presidential election. This stage of the study focuses on the information people use to inform evaluations during the last few weeks before the election. They seek respondents of all political leanings from all over the country (and from the rest of the world) to complete a 15-minute questionnaire, the responses to which will be completely anonymous...

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Flop, flip, who'll notice?

McCain: Against regulation until he was for it.

But have you fired Phil Gramm (again), since he was the principal proponent of keeping derivatives regulation-free all the while he was in the Senate?

Not so much.

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September 16, 2008

A writer dies

I guess I'm a Philistine, but when David Foster Wallace committed suicide the other day I went right on by the news, because I had never heard of him. A lot of other people had, however, and were genuinely surprised and saddened by his death. If you want to sample a selection of his work, The New Republic dug around online and has come up with a list of articles with links to them.

I have now skimmed the 11-page article he wrote in 2000 about Senator McCain for Rolling Stone, and there's no question he could report a story.

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Health Care

There have been several good articles comparing the two Presidential candidates' health care policy proposals over the past couple of days, and Steve Benen at Washington Monthly has links to them conveniently located in one place.

If your employer pays for your health insurance, McCain's plan taxes that subsidy as your personal income; he then wants to issue you a tax credit to try to make up for it.

Aside from the Rube Goldberg aspect of this (Tax it! Give it back!), what it really means is that more employers will decline to offer health insurance as a perk and employees will be thrown into the more expensive individual plan market. Insurance companies will then cherry-pick healthy individuals, and the less-healthy will become uninsured.

Read those articles.

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September 15, 2008

I'm a fundamental and I'm not strong

Today Senator McCain said:

"My opponents may disagree, but those fundamentals – the American worker, the innovation, the entrepreneurship, the small business – are the fundamentals of America and I think they are strong,"

Care to look at my IRA balances or my tax returns for the past seven years under Republican rule, Senator?

I'm a small business owner, and I feel pretty damned weak in comparison to those banks whose executives are getting golden parachutes while their firms are taken over by the Federal Reserve and Treasury.

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September 14, 2008

SNL does Palin, starring Tina Fey

In case you went to bed before SNL started last night.

If you can't see the video for some reason, the NYT's Caucus blog recaps it.

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Here's "The View" segment grilling McCain

In case you've missed it, here's a link with commentary from the NYT and Huffington Post.

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September 13, 2008

It is just like high school!

You know how we've seen cronyism and political favoritism from the Bush Administration ("heckuva job, Brownie!) and how McCain and Palin call themselves reformers?

Not so much.

The Wasilla High School yearbook archive now doubles as a veritable directory of state government. Ms. Palin appointed Mr. Bitney, her former junior high school band-mate, as her legislative director and chose another classmate, Joe Austerman, to manage the economic development office for $82,908 a year. Mr. Austerman had established an Alaska franchise for Mailboxes Etc.

At that, he might be better qualified than this lady:

. . .when there was a vacancy at the top of the State Division of Agriculture, she appointed a high school classmate, Franci Havemeister, to the $95,000-a-year directorship. A former real estate agent, Ms. Havemeister cited her childhood love of cows as one of her qualifications for running the roughly $2 million agency.

Exactly the kind of competence and good government we need after eight years of Bush, I'd say.

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New host, propagation may take a day or two

I'm switching to Hosting Matters, so the blog may go dim for a day or so.

As Christopher Robin's sign said, Bizy Backson.

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September 11, 2008

Debate question

The 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were successful.

The intent of the terrorists who attacked those buildings was, by definition, to terrorize. In that they succeeded, probably beyond Osama bin Laden's wildest dreams. The United States government has, over time, created a $44B agency devoted to saving the population from a recurrence of what has been, so far, a one-off tragedy. Despite numerous claims of successes against what's been billed as an existential threat to the country, the most obvious effect of those successes has been to desensitize Americans to intrusions on their privacy via warrantless wiretapping, shoe and liquid removal at airport security checkpoints, an ineffective war against the terrorists in Afghanistan and a completely unnecessary and tragic one in Iraq, and a colossal loss of goodwill toward America in the world as a whole.

The terrorists succeeded in panicking governments in this country; they also succeeded in panicking the media. They did not entirely succeed in panicking the population; most of us have gone on living our lives without much conscious change in our habits or lifestyles. The biggest effect of those attacks was that they allowed cynical politicians to use them to aggregate more and more authority in the name of "protection." It's not that different from racketeering, when you think about it. "Give up some of these civil liberties so we can protect you better," they say, and too many of us have said, "Oh, sure, I'm not using them anyway." It reminds me of the old joke about the guy selling elephant fences in Omaha. "They protect your yard from rampaging elephants," he says. "But there are no elephants here," you say. "See," he says, "they work!"

Paul Campos has written a very good essay about this as well.

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September 10, 2008

I did not have sex with that oil company!

Oh yeah?

In three reports delivered to Congress on Wednesday, the department’s inspector general, Earl E. Devaney, found wrongdoing by a dozen current and former employees of the Minerals Management Service, which collects about $10 billion in royalties annually and is one of the government’s largest sources of revenue other than taxes.

“A culture of ethical failure” pervades the agency, Mr. Devaney wrote in a cover memo.


The report alleges that eight officials in the royalty program accepted gifts from energy companies whose value exceeded limits set by ethics rules — including golf, ski and paintball outings; meals and drinks; and tickets to a Toby Keith concert, a Houston Texans football game and a Colorado Rockies baseball game.

The investigation also concluded that several of the officials “frequently consumed alcohol at industry functions, had used cocaine and marijuana, and had sexual relationships with oil and gas company representatives.”

Bush, September 23, 2000, campaigning in Florida:

We can do better in Washington D.C. We can have new leadership in Washington D.C., leadership that will lift this country's spirits and raise our sights. George P. knows what thousands of other youngsters know, that just because the White House has let us done[sic] in the past, that doesn't mean it's going to happen in the future. George P. joins us in a campaign that's going to restore honor and dignity to the White House.

How's that honor and dignity thing doing, Mr. President?

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False savings

A particle collider was turned on last night in Switzerland, and the earth wasn't swallowed up by a black hole.

Lest we forget, the United States government planned a supercollider for Texas back in the 1980s-1990s. Due to parochial thinking (Pork! For my state!), the first Bush Administration neglected to persuade foreign governments to help fund the thing, and so we sank $2 billion into it and then let it die. In retrospect, the projected cost of $8.25 billion doesn't look too bad for something which would have done basic science, particularly when the new collider in Geneva is reported to have cost -- $8 billion.

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September 09, 2008

Paliin at the Bridge

Trust the local papers to get the story straight.

When John McCain introduced Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate Friday, her reputation as a tough-minded budget-cutter was front and center.

"I told Congress, thanks but no thanks on that bridge to nowhere," Palin told the cheering McCain crowd, referring to Ketchikan's Gravina Island bridge.

But Palin was for the Bridge to Nowhere before she was against it.

The Alaska governor campaigned in 2006 on a build-the-bridge platform, telling Ketchikan residents she felt their pain when politicians called them "nowhere." They're still feeling pain today in Ketchikan, over Palin's subsequent decision to use the bridge funds for other projects -- and over the timing of her announcement, which they say came in a pre-dawn press release that seemed aimed at national news deadlines.

"I think that's when the campaign for national office began," said Ketchikan Mayor Bob Weinstein on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Weinstein noted, the state is continuing to build a road on Gravina Island to an empty beach where the bridge would have gone -- because federal money for the access road, unlike the bridge money, would have otherwise been returned to the federal government.

Despite numerous accounts of her "for it before she was against it" stance on the Bridge to Nowhere, she continues to say she said "Thanks, but no thanks."

Repeat the Big Lie often enough and people will increasingly believe it.

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September 08, 2008

Current reading list

I went to the library today and picked up Ron Suskind's The Way of the World, Ted Sorenson's Counselor, and Ron Perlstein's Nixonland.

That's nearly 2,000 pages of reading about current affairs I have to finish within three weeks, and it doesn't count my birthday gift to Mom: Jane Mayer's The Dark Side.

Oh, and I finished Dorothy L. Sayers' first two books with Harriet Vane and Lord Peter Wimsey, so now I'm back to reading Gaudy Night, which I'd stopped until I could read the books in which Harriet first appeared.

By the way, all the Wimsey books are in print in mass market paperback.

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September 07, 2008


Being a baseball fan means you kinda expect these things, but over the past two weeks the Dodgers lost 8 straight games and looked to be completely out of the pennant race in the National League West. Just as their fans were becoming resigned to this, they promptly won 8 straight and are now in first place in the NL West by a game-and-a-half, defeating the team that was ahead of them, the Arizona Diamondbacks, three times this weekend.

Baseball is a funny game.

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September 06, 2008

Host needed

My long-time site host is getting out of the business, and she's given her customers a month to make alternative arrangements. I'm using 100MB of disk space for the current site, and I'm not taking anything down, so I need room for expansion. The current annual cost is $75.

I use Dotster to manage my two domains, and it offers me an annual plan of 5GB for $64, which sounds incredibly cheap. Trouble is, it's a big company in comparison to Small Packages, so I won't get the personalized service I've been accustomed to receiving.

Anybody got any recommendations?

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You Gotta Have Heart

The Republicans don't seem to understand or care about intellectual property rights. For the fifth time this year they've used either music or images without the artist's permission. The latest instance is their use of Heart's song "Barracuda," meant to be a play on Sarah Palin's high school nickname Sarah Barracuda, evidently given to her for her style of play on the basketball court. They played it at the close of their convention Thursday night, and the band is not happy about it.

Back in the 1970s two women leading a band and playing the instruments was a rarity. I always did like Heart and own "Dreamboat Annie," their first album. "Barracuda" is on the second album, "Little Queen."

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September 05, 2008

Drum has a new home but the same analysis

Sing it, Kevin!

McCain likes to present his past as past and his time in a prison camp as a transformative experience, but the fact is that his experience as a POW transformed nothing. In fact, it amplified his fundamental belief in his own self-righteousness, something he's used ever since as an unending justification for his worst impulses.

Read the rest.

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ABC on Troopergate

Out here the live coverage of the conventions superceded the national news shows due to our time zone, so I hadn't seen this. It's ABC's Brian Ross doing a 5-minute report on Palin's firing of the Public Safety Commissioner, allegedly because he refused to fire her former brother-in-law.

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Granted McCain had a tough act to follow after his running mate's gorge on red meat last night, but still. That was the dullest speech I've heard from a candidate in years.

Your thoughts?

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September 04, 2008

If there's a sharper wit around, point me to it

In case you missed it, here's Jon Stewart on Sarah Palin and the gender card:

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Compare and contrast

Pat Buchanan's infamous "cultural war" speech to the Republican National Convention in 1992:

My friends, this election is about much more than who gets what. It is about who we are. It is about what we believe. It is about what we stand for as Americans. There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we will one day be as was the Cold War itself. And in that struggle for the soul of America, Clinton & Clinton are on the other side, and George Bush is on our side. And so, we have to come home, and stand beside him.

Sarah Palin's VP Nomination acceptance speech this evening:

This is a man who can give an entire speech about the wars America is fighting, and never use the word "victory" except when he's talking about his own campaign. But when the cloud of rhetoric has passed ... when the roar of the crowd fades away ... when the stadium lights go out, and those Styrofoam Greek columns are hauled back to some studio lot - what exactly is our opponent's plan? What does he actually seek to accomplish, after he's done turning back the waters and healing the planet? The answer is to make government bigger ... take more of your money ... give you more orders from Washington ... and to reduce the strength of America in a dangerous world. America needs more energy ... our opponent is against producing it.

Victory in Iraq is finally in sight ... he wants to forfeit.

Terrorist states are seeking new-clear weapons without delay ... he wants to meet them without preconditions.

Al Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America ... he's worried that someone won't read them their rights? Government is too big ... he wants to grow it.

Congress spends too much ... he promises more.

I think Republicans were all Born Under a Bad Sign. They're constantly persecuted by hordes of enemies; never mind that they make those enemies themselves.

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September 03, 2008

Back to the past

Watching and listening to these speeches, I'm struck that not one of these Republican luminaries wants to mention the Current Occupant and his eight-year tenure as President of the United States. They all want us to go back to when the world was young and Ronald Reagan was President. No mention of the intervening 20 years of prosperity (under Clinton) and stagnation (under GWB).

Funny, that.

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Light amusement

Number One still pains me, even though I didn't hear it live and wasn't quite a year old when it happened. The 10 Greatest Sports Calls Ever. With YouTube Links!

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The worst-case VP scenario

If there are further revelations about Governor Palin which make her continuing candidacy untenable, how would she be dropped from the ticket? Josh Green investigates. It's not as easy as you might think. Once nominated, McCain can't just say "Never mind."

I think she ought to bail. If anyone could use the tried and true "I want to spend more time with my family" claim and have it be believable, it's her. I doubt she will, though. I think McCain will have to throw her off the ticket, and I don't think he will. The howls from the fundamentalist right would be too loud, and the threat that they'd just stay home on November 4 would be all too feasible.

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September 02, 2008

More arrests of protesters at the RNC

Amy Goodman, respected journalist and host of Democracy Now, the public radio show out of Northern California was arrested earlier today in St. Paul, along with about 250 other protesters.

Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar have all been released from police custody in St. Paul following their illegal arrest by Minneapolis Police on Monday afternoon.

All three were violently manhandled by law enforcement officers. Abdel Kouddous was slammed against a wall and the ground, leaving his arms scraped and bloodied. He sustained other injuries to his chest and back. Salazar’s violent arrest by baton-wielding officers, during which she was slammed to the ground while yelling, “I’m Press! Press!,” resulted in her nose bleeding, as well as causing facial pain. Goodman’s arm was violently yanked by police as she was arrested.


Goodman was arrested while questioning police about the unlawful detention of Kouddous and Salazar who were arrested while they carried out their journalistic duties in covering street demonstrations at the Republican National Convention. Goodman’s crime appears to have been defending her colleagues and the freedom of the press.

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher told Democracy Now! that Kouddous and Salazar were arrested on suspicion of rioting, a felony. While the three have been released, they all still face charges stemming from their unlawful arrest. Kouddous and Salazar face pending charges of suspicion of felony riot, while Goodman has been officially charged with obstruction of a legal process and interference with a “peace officer.”

Glenn Greenwald has much more, including photographs of the police state which St. Paul is rapidly becoming.

Beginning last night, St. Paul was the most militarized I have ever seen an American city be, even more so than Manhattan in the week of 9/11 -- with troops of federal, state and local law enforcement agents marching around with riot gear, machine guns, and tear gas cannisters, shouting military chants and marching in military formations. Humvees and law enforcement officers with rifles were posted on various buildings and balconies. Numerous protesters and observers were tear gassed and injured. I'll have video of the day's events posted shortly.

The Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968 was deemed a police riot by the Walker Report to the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence. It began the same way; with militarized cops out in force. In light of what happened to Amy Goodman, here are some statistics from the Report:

Out of 300 newsmen assigned to cover the parks and streets of Chicago during convention week, more than 60 (about 20%) were involved in incidents resulting in injury to themselves, damage to their equipment, or their arrest. Sixty-three newsmen were physically attacked by police; in 13 of these instances, photographic or recording equipment was intentionally damaged.

It looks to me like the St. Paul cops are in danger of emulating their Chicago colleagues from 40 years ago.

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September 01, 2008

Choice or coercion?

Robert Farley at LGM picks up on a good point from Tapped's Ann Friedman:

I mean, John McCain and Sarah Palin don't believe women have a right to choose. It's absolutely absurd for the campaign to emphasize the fact that Bristol "made this decision," and then push for policies that take away that choice.

And that's all I have to say about Bristol Palin's pregnancy, other than to wish the 17-year-old kid good luck.

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Birthday greetings

"Four score and seven years..." No, no, that's not right. Wrong envelope.

Umpty-ump years ago Mom was born, and she celebrates that anniversary today.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

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