Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Corner is filled with idiots

Jay Nordlinger writes:
The guy’s supposed to be super-bright, and I suppose he is. But he keeps making one gaffe after another. The latest: “What they’re going to try to do is make you scared of me. You know, he’s not patriotic enough, he’s got a funny name, he doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.” Um, there’s actually only one president on the dollar bill. If Quayle had said that . . .

One more thing: Obama is saying – pretty explicitly – that, if you’re against him, you’re a racist. (You’re saying, “He doesn’t look like all those other presidents.”) Will no one call him on it?
First of all, it should be pointed out that there are actually many "dollar bills"--the one dollar bill, the five dollar bill, the ten dollar bill, etc.

But, more importantly, I can't believe that even Jay Nordlinger is so stupid that he can't tell the difference between saying jerks are going to try to make you nervous about my race and saying you're a racist if you don't support me. Obama isn't playing the race card, he's warning people about it.

Monday, July 28, 2008


A newly-devout, fundamentalist Muslim channels right-wing bloggers when Obama tries to help a Chicago woman get her children back from the Palestinian territories.
"F- - - Washington, f- - - Obama and f- - - you."
While the man clearly seems to be a bad guy, I give him points for being more concise and eloquent than the likes of BlackFive, Floppy Asses and others, while putting across a similar depth and coherence in his argument.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Resolved: Republicans think you're dumb

Recently, Barack Obama made the entirely uncontroversial point that American kids, in order to be more competitive globally, should be learning other languages. Conservatives, of course, crapped themselves. I won't link to the myriad idiotic complaints by the righties, but the Carpetbagger Report and Smintheus of DailyKos have a few.

I do want to especially highlight John Derbyshire, however, who wrote that "The cold fact is that absent exceptional circumstances — the most common of which is, total immersion at a receptive age — not many human beings can learn another language."

Does Derbyshire just believe, then, that Americans are stupid compared to Europeans? After all, half of Europeans are fully bilingual.

Smintheus says this is a sign that Republicans have become "Know-Nothing Republicans." I think he* has it wrong, though. These people are actually "Think-You-Know-Nothing Republicans." They think their constituents are too stupid to see through their petty charades. They think that you--like their standard-bearer, John McCain--don't know how to use "a Google."

Because if you didn't know how to do that, you wouldn't be able to find Senate Resolution 28, from 2005. That resolution, put forward and passed unanimously when the Senate was controlled by Republicans, said this (pdf link):

Designating the year 2005 as the ‘‘Year of Foreign
Language Study’’.

Whereas according to the 2000 decennial census of the population, 9.3 percent of Americans speak both their native language and another language fluently;

Whereas according to the European Commission Directorate General for Education and Culture, 52.7 percent of Europeans speak both their native language and another
language fluently;

Whereas the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 names foreign language study as part of a core curriculum that includes English, mathematics, science,
civics, economics, arts, history, and geography;

Whereas according to the Joint Center for International Language, foreign language study increases a student’s cognitive and critical thinking abilities;

Whereas according to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, foreign language study increases a student’s ability to compare and contrast cultural concepts;

Whereas according to a 1992 report by the College Entrance Examination Board, students with 4 or more years in foreign language study scored higher on the verbal section of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) than students who did not;

Whereas the Higher Education Act of 1965 labels foreign language study as vital to secure the future economic welfare of the United States in a growing international

Whereas the Higher Education Act of 1965 recommends encouraging businesses and foreign language study programs to work in a mutually productive relationship
which benefits the Nation’s future economic interest;

Whereas according to the Centers for International Business Education and Research program, foreign language study provides the ability both to gain a comprehensive understanding of and to interact with the cultures of United States trading partners, and thus establishes a solid foundation for successful economic relationships;

Whereas Report 107–592 of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives concludes that American multinational corporations and nongovernmental organizations do not have the people with the foreign language abilities and cultural exposure that are needed;

Whereas the 2001 Hart-Rudman Report on National Security in the 21st Century names foreign language study and requisite knowledge in languages as vital for the Federal Government to meet 21st century security challenges properly and effectively;

Whereas the American intelligence community stresses that individuals with proper foreign language expertise are greatly needed to work on important national security
and foreign policy issues, especially in light of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001;

Whereas a 1998 study conducted by the National Foreign Language Center concludes that inadequate resources existed for the development, publication, distribution, and teaching of critical foreign languages (such as Arabic, Vietnamese, and Thai) because of low student enrollment in the United States; and

Whereas a shortfall of experts in foreign languages has seriously hampered information gathering and analysis within the American intelligence community as demonstrated by the 2000 Cox Commission noting shortfalls in Chinese proficiency, and the National Intelligence Council citing deficiencies in Central Eurasian, East Asian, and Middle Eastern languages: Now, therefore, be it

1 Resolved, That—
2 (1) it is the sense of the Senate that foreign
3 language study makes important contributions to a
4 student’s cognitive development, our national econ-
5 omy, and our national security;

1 (2) the Senate—
2 (A) designates the year 2005 as the ‘‘Year
3 of Foreign Language Study’’, during which for-
4 eign language study is promoted and expanded
5 in elementary schools, secondary schools, insti-
6 tutions of higher learning, businesses, and gov-
7 ernment programs; and
8 (B) requests that the President issue a
9 proclamation calling upon the people of the
10 United States to—
11 (i) encourage and support initiatives
12 to promote and expand the study of for-
13 eign languages; and
14 (ii) observe the ‘‘Year of Foreign Lan-
15 guage Study’’ with appropriate ceremonies,
16 programs, and other activities.
In other words, Republican senators unanimously believed that learning foreign languages was vital for our national security, our children's cognitive abilities and our economic competitiveness three years ago, but today not so much.

Smintheus could be right, I guess. They'd have to be stupid to think people are so stupid.

* I have no idea about Smintheus' gender, but assumed only a man would take as his pseudonym one of the more interesting secondary names of the god Apollo.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Where has Cheri DelBrocco been all my life?

She wrote this yesterday:
Imagine, for one moment, that it had been Barack Obama instead of John McCain who had cheated on his wife by having multiple affairs. Suppose it was Barack Obama who had married his mistress, a younger heiress of a billion dollar beer empire only a month after the ink was dry on the divorce papers. Pretend it was Michelle Obama instead of Cindy McCain who had been so addicted to painkillers that she stole money from her own charity and had been investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The vilifications, smears, and berating from conservatives would be louder than a 747 takeoff. The castigating and crucifixions by the Limbaughs and O'Reillys of the world would never end. Faux piety and bellicosity from the pumped up blowhards in the religious right would flow harder than the flooding waters of the Mississippi.
You must read the whole thing.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Bushier every day

Remember the bad old days of the 2004 campaign, when Bushies were kicking people out of supposedly public events and even arresting them for the t-shirts they wore? Remember when even the bumper stickers on the car you drove to a Bush event might get you "forcibly removed"? Remember any of this?
* In August 2004, John Prather, a mild-mannered math professor at Ohio University, was removed by security from a presidential event on public property because he wore a shirt that featured John Kerry.

* On July 4, 2004, Nicole and Jeff Rank were arrested at a Bush event in West Virginia for wearing T-shirts that criticized the president. (About the same time the Ranks were being taken away in handcuffs, Bush was reminding the audience, "On this 4th of July, we confirm our love of freedom, the freedom for people to speak their minds." The irony was rich.)

* In August 2004, campaign workers removed a family from a presidential event in Michigan because Barbara Miller, a 50-year-old chemist, carried in a rolled-up T-shirt emblazoned with a pro-choice slogan. (She wasn't even wearing it.) Miller later said, "I just wanted to see my president," and brought the extra shirt in case she got cold.

* In July 2004, Jayson Nelson, a county supervisor in Appleton, Wis., was thrown out of a presidential event because of a Kerry T-shirt. An event staffer saw the shirt, snatched the VIP ticket, and called for police. "Look at his shirt! Look at his shirt!" Nelson recalled the woman telling the Ashwaubenon Public Safety officer who answered the call. Nelson said the officer told him, "You gotta go," and sternly directed him to a Secret Service contingent that spent seven or eight minutes checking him over before ejecting him from the property.

* In October 2004, three Oregon schoolteachers were removed from a Bush event and threatened with arrest for wearing t-shirts that said, "Protect Our Civil Liberties."
In fact, in a court case that cost the Secret Service $80,000, it was discovered that the Bushies had created a manual which suggested ways to block protesters from attending events.

So it is with little surprise that I note McCain has found another area in which he agrees with Bush. He won't let anyone express their opinion near his (supposedly) public town hall events. You'll see it below, but do note that, by using Bushie tactics and chasing a 61-year-old librarian from his event, McCain staffers are proving what we've known all along: McCain=Bush.

I agree with Marc Thiessen

Bush's chief speechwriter and former Helms staffer March Thiessen wrote this in the Washington Post today:
What his critics could not appreciate is that, by the time he left office, Jesse Helms had become a mainstream conservative. And it was not because Helms had moved toward the mainstream -- it was because the mainstream moved toward him.
It's good to see a Republican verify my observation that the Republican Party has just gotten worse and worse over time.

Thank God every move toward the nutty right makes the party smaller and smaller.

Thursday, July 03, 2008


B-List celebrity wants you to listen to his views about how you shouldn't listen to celebrities (especially, it seems, those celebrities who make better movies and more money than he does).

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

I agree with Rush Limbaugh

In the lengthy New York Times Magazine story marking his 20th anniversary on the radio, Limbaugh discusses his fellow righties and this stood out.
At dinner the night before, Bill O’Reilly’s name came up, and Limbaugh expressed his opinion of the Fox cable king. He hadn’t been sure at the time that he wanted it on the record. But on second thought, “somebody’s got to say it,” he told me. “The man is Ted Baxter.”
I completely agree, but, um, Rush? It would be funnier if someone else hadn't said it first.

And many times after that.

Keith Olbermann, ladies and gentlemen.

Update: Hell, this was a big part of January 2007's Olbermann/O'Reilly rap fight. Remember?

Update: TV Barn's Aaron Barnhart caught this before I did. He's so quick (he must live on the Kansas side).

What candidate has Michael Shear been watching?

You know, I'm done thinking the press should do a good job of reporting the news, but is it too much to ask them to at least pay attention to it? Today a commenter on a Washington Post online chat asked Post reporter Michael Shear why it was such a big deal for Wesley Clark to point out that being tortured doesn't necessarily qualify one for the presidency. Pay attention to Shear's response:
What's the big whoop?: It's not like McCain rose to the level of general or something. He's a vet -- we get it. But simply being a vet, as laudable as it is, doesn't really tell you much about someone's qualifications for being commander in chief. If McCain is going to play the "I was tortured" card every five minutes as a justification for electing him president, then he shouldn't throw a hissy fit anytime anyone asks to know more about his military experience.

Michael D. Shear: I'm not sure that's quite fair. It's true that he was not a general. But McCain rarely talks about his time as a POW (though others sometimes do on his behalf.) And his campaign would argue that his experience in the military prepared him for a career in the Senate that was often at the center of the debates over military policy.

But his military record is certainly a fair target of scrutiny and as a reporter, I'd certainly like to make sure that all of the records are open to the public.
First of all, McCain has not released all of his records, and as a reporter you might expect Shear to actually, you know, fucking report that.

But the thing that gets stuck in my craw is Shear's claim that "McCain rarely talks about his time as a POW (though others sometimes do on his behalf.)"

What the fuck? Then where did these ads come from?

Or this ad or this one and he's pulled the most directly on point ad from the web, in which he says, point blank, "I was shot down over Vietnam and spent five years as a POW."

Then there are the speeches.

June 23, 2006:
When I was a prisoner-of-war, the Vietnamese went to great lengths to restrict the news from home to the statements and activities of prominent opponents to the war. They wanted us to believe that America had forgotten us.
June 18, 2007:
For several years I was a prisoner of war in the enemy's capital, Hanoi.
July 18, 2007:
If America stands for anything, it stands for the freedom to follow our own minds and hearts, to determine our own relationship with God. I did not realize just how precious this freedom is until it was taken away. As some in this audience may know, I spent several years as a prisoner of war, a time when all my freedoms were rescinded.
March 31, 2008:
During the Vietnam War, he commanded all U.S. forces in the Pacific, at the top of a chain of command that included, near the bottom, his son, a naval aviator on Yankee Station in the Tonkin Gulf, and later a prisoner of war in Hanoi.
April 3, 2008:
Persevering with others for a common goal is not only more satisfying in the end, but teaches you something about life you might not have known before, and can influence your direction in ways your own fortitude never could. I once thought I was man enough for almost any confrontation. In prison, I discovered I was not. I tried to use every personal resource I had to confound my captors, and it wasn't enough in the end.
June 28, 2008:
When I was in prison in Vietnam, I like other of my fellow POWs, was offered early release by my captors. Most of us refused because we were bound to our code of conduct, which said those who had been captured the earliest had to be released the soonest.
Some have gone so far as to call the Hanoi Hilton McCain's "trump card." Bloomberg's Edwin Chen wrote in May:
Whether he's deflecting criticism over his health-care plan or mocking a tribute to the Woodstock music festival, Senator John McCain has a trump card: the Hanoi Hilton.

That's the nickname for the site where he spent 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, a past that McCain regularly recalls on the campaign trail to fend off policy attacks, score political points and give voters a glimpse of his sentimental side. He campaigns with squadrons of POWs and made a video to mark the 35th anniversary of his release from prison.

When Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former Senator John Edwards, rebuked McCain's medical-care proposal and noted that he'd always enjoyed government health benefits, McCain responded that he knows what it's like to get inadequate care -- ``from another government.'' During an October debate, while knocking a Hillary Clinton plan to help fund a museum celebrating Woodstock, McCain said he missed the 1969 festival because he was ``tied up at the time.'' Even his rivals applauded.
And it's not just the press who makes this claim, either. Yesterday, McCain himself said he's reluctant to talk about being a POW:
McCain became visibly angry when I asked him to explain how his Vietnam experience prepared him for the Presidency.

"Please," he said, recoiling back in his seat in distaste at the very question.

McCain allies Sen. Lindsey Graham stepped in to rescue him. Graham expressed admiration for McCain’s stance on the treatment of detainees in US custody.

"That to me is a classic example of how his military experience helped him shape public policy in a way no other senator could have done,’’ Graham said.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, also traveling on the trip, expressed admiration for McCain’s wartime service as well.

McCain then collected himself and apologized for his initial reaction.

"I kind of reacted the way I did because I have a reluctance to talk about my experiences," he said, noting that he has huge admiration for the "heroes" who served with him in the POW camp and said the experience taught him to love the U.S. because he missed it so much.

"I am always reluctant to talk about these things," McCain said.
Now I've said before that I respect John McCain's strength under torture, but to suggest that he's "reluctant" to talk about that time in his life is just simply false.