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We are all POWs now

[ 41 ] August 25, 2008 |

I see no reason why John McCain should accrue all the rhetorical gain from the years he spent in Hanoi, cleansing humanity’s sins not living in a house. That’s why, when the new semester begins in a week or so, I’ll be taking every opportunity to remind students and colleagues that because John McCain was a prisoner of war, their complaints and criticisms will not be taken seriously. When students, for example, wonder why their papers have not been marked in their usual, borderline-timely fashion, I’ll explain that like John McCain — who was once a POW — I did not have a pen handy, and I was probably thinking about more important things. Or when colleagues wonder how I could have “forgotten” to attend yet another faculty senate meeting to help ratify decisions that have already been made by our natural and bureaucratic superiors, I will remind them that John McCain once missed five years of meetings when he was being held captive in Hanoi. I also hope to use John McCain’s POW status to relieve me of cat-litter-scooping duties as well as the burden of paying for my own drinks, and to immunize me against the usual accusations of slothfulness and general moral dissipation. I suppose if I were running for some kind of public office, this might constitute a decent campaign strategy.

The Price You Pay For Forgetting The Mute Button Is Your Friend

[ 14 ] August 25, 2008 |

In my defense, I was engaged in Real Work and had the Devil Rays/Sox game on in the background, so I needed the sound. But as bad as seeing the Rays lose after a beyond-farcical call when A.J. Pierzynski elbowing Willy Aybar resulted in an interference call…on Aybar, hearing the Pale Hose’s uber-hack announcers try to rationalize the whole thing was much worse.

Admittedly, I may have been upset because the Mets somehow managed to lose by giving up — in the same inning, I swear! — the first post-Clinton administration homer for both Brad Asumus and Darrin Erstad. Do you know what the odds of that are? It’s in the billions! It couldn’t happen, wouldn’t happen! Did you not see you were being set up after the second hit?

Ummmm . . .

[ 33 ] August 25, 2008 |

. . . what was that?

The GOP Glass Ceiling

[ 13 ] August 24, 2008 |

I suppose the latest Kristol/PUMA meme is so obviously disingenuous it’s barely worth responding to, but for the record.

Joe Biden, Drug Warrior

[ 35 ] August 24, 2008 |

Radley Balko points out that Biden’s voting record on drug issues in particular and civil liberties in general is quite bad. (Edit: As a couple of commentators have noted, Biden’s overall civil liberties record isn’t as bad as Balko is making it out to be).

FWIW I think on average too much attention gets paid to VP picks (this rule contains an exception for nominating one of Satan’s actual minions). Still there are a lot of things about the Biden pick that are troublesome. Yglesias notes that Biden’s Iraq vote seems to have been based on the rather strange theory that an Iraq war skeptic could influence the process in a positive way by supporting the Bush administration’s push for maximum latitude in going to war.

Further thoughts: What really bugs me about the Biden pick is that he voted for the war, and picking him inevitably blurs the message of what a gigantic mistake that was. It also reinforces the myth that it was “political suicide” to vote against the war in 2002. In fact more than half of the Democratic members of Congress voted against the war, including a solid minority of senators, and of course far from being political suicide, there’s no real doubt Clinton would be the nominee if she had simply done the right thing at the time. As Scott pointed out yesterday, the Beltway wisdom on Iraq remains so twisted that having voted for the war makes Biden more acceptable in the eyes of the Villagers.

Bird Men of Bosnia

[ 8 ] August 23, 2008 |

If anyone doubted the necessity of a War on (Some Species of Pigeons Who Smuggle Some Kinds of) Drugs, this should settle the hash, so to speak:

Bosnian police have impounded a pigeon after discovering prisoners used it to smuggle drugs into one of the country’s highest security jails, an official said Thursday.

“The guards suspected the animal might be involved in drug smuggling once they noticed four prisoners visibly intoxicated shortly after the pigeon landed on a prison window,” Zenica prison official Josip Pojavnik told AFP.

All four inmates had tested positive for heroin, said Pojavnik, adding disciplinary proceedings had been launched against the inmates.

The drugs, he added, had probably been stuffed into tiny bags attached to the legs of the carrier pigeon, which one of the prisoners had previously been allowed to keep as a pet in his cell.

There was a time in my life when a bird like this would have come in handy. Now, I’d be happy to discover a pigeon that’s capable of mowing my lawn.

I Knew Delaware Was a Slave State…

[ 33 ] August 23, 2008 |

…but when did it secede?

…if elected, Biden will be the first President or Vice President from Delaware. Has Delaware produced any other major party candidates for either office?

Wanker of the Cycle

[ 2 ] August 23, 2008 |

Ron Fournier. See also.

This is the Hot Soup wanker? Wow, that’s world class.

More (Against the New Target) Please

[ 15 ] August 23, 2008 |

As Ezra says, this probably sums up the case for Biden as well as anything:

In theory, his knowledge of foreign policy and refreshing willingness to take the fight to Republicans should be somewhat undermined by his vote on the war. But in the strange calculus of the Beltway media, being wrong about the war seems to give you more foreign policy credibility…

…Benen is also relieved. Cohn expresses happiness rather than relief here, as does Publius. Tomasky is less enthused; I think he overrates the extent to which Bayh would have put a lock on Indiana, and Bayh is worse in every other important respect. “Ready to govern from the start” is the bottom line for me.

Officially Biden?

[ 0 ] August 23, 2008 |

Obviously, one wants to be careful about such scoops — ask the previous Democratic running mate, Dick Gephardt — but apparently it will be Biden.

I guess I feel relief without happiness. Certainly, if the other runners-up were Kaine and Bayh, Biden has to be considered the best choice by a huge margin. If we must have someone who voted for the war, it would be nice to at least have that person be a pro-choice progressive of some accomplishment (and Biden was at least much more critical post-war than Bayh or Clinton.) On the other hand, I would have much preferred Sebelius, preferred Reed, and perhaps marginally preferred Clinton (unlike Rob, I’m not sure about Clark.) Still, it’s a decent choice. I am at least glad that Obama focused ability rather than chasing phantom political gains that never materialize.

Friday Cat Blogging

[ 0 ] August 23, 2008 |


Henry is on extraordinarily thin ice around here. Since we returned from vacation in early July, he’s been spraying the front door of our house every day [clarification: on the inside of the house], sometimes on multiple occasions. Though neutered at an appropriately young age, he’s gone through occasional marking phases his whole life; we’ve endured these patiently, cleaning up after him and — during a few longer periods — using artificial pheromones and even amitriptyline to chill his ass out. At fourteen years of age, it’s possible he’s simply losing his marbles. Or he might just have a thing for doors. Who knows? Physically, there appears to be nothing wrong with him, and our vet predicts he’ll live another five years.

If he doesn’t knock off the pissing, though, he might not make it until next week. I’m trying to find a new home for him, based on the absurd theory that he’s simply grown tired of living with two dogs, and three humans, and his sister. For some reason, though, my friends and colleagues are unwilling to adopt a cat with a history of drenching doors with urine. I can’t imagine dumping him at the humane society — a no-kill shelter, but still — and I couldn’t bring myself to snuff him for this. I’d wish for a stroke or aneurysm to knock him out quickly, but I’m sort of angling for one of those myself, and I don’t want to blow all my negative karma on a cat. My wife, meantime, suggests we lather him in fish oil before sending him off to meet the neighborhood bears.

If any LGM readers are capable of speaking telepathically to cats, please tell my boy to knock this off.

"The Liberal Hour"

[ 0 ] August 22, 2008 |

Rick Perlstein has a TAP article that’s worth a look. Its historical argument — that the experiences of FDR and LBJ show that progressive presidential agendas must be accomplished quickly and ruthlessly, before the saboteurs descend — is not exactly news, but it’s a history worth bearing in mind if Obama wins and (in what seems a near-certainty at this point) Democrats make big gains in Congress. Campaigning and governing are obviously different species of politics, but Perlstein is right — if Obama wins, extending the “right hand of fellowship” to Republicans would be catastrophic.

Perlstein also revisits one of the least-remembered episodes of the Carter administration — namely the hatchet job William Safire performed on him in mid-1977. For those of us who stand slack-jawed in amazement that the NY Times would offer work to William Kristol, the hiring of Safire in the mid-1970s was almost as inexcusable.