Friday, October 31, 2008

The Jersey devil rocks

An interesting diversion from the Boss.

A frightening bit of logic on the possibility of bombing Iran

If we think the Bush administration has done its worst (Iraq, the economy, loss of civil liberties), then we might be rolling up the hose before the fire is out.

I ran across this frightening bit of analysis written by financial analyst David Fink, which postures that George Bush, and the members of his administration, have several good reasons for bombing Iran before an Obama administration, and a Democratic congress, can take office.

This too, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid, the reason that George Bush should have been impeached and driven from office.

Sealing the tomb with excrement

It's not bad enough that George Bush has dragged us into a futile, illegal, draining war. That he's stripped citizens of civil liberties. That he's enriched his cronies, and Wall Street executives while impoverishing the middle class, retirees and anyone who has been forced to tithe to the God of the free market through 401k plans. That he's alienated allies. That he's institutionalized secrecy, torture, legal abductions. That he's thumbed his nose at the Constitution.

Now, at the end of an administration that is as dark and rank as a gangrenous limb, he is pushing through executive regulations which will pollute Appalachian streams, fill the atmosphere with global warming pollutants, strip the ocean of sea life, and make water sources less safe to drink.

This, Nancy Pelosi, is the reason he should have been impeached and driven from office, because these regulations, will be very difficult for the next President, and the next Congress to undo. We will have to drag Bush's legacy of failure with us for decades like the stinking corpse of an unloved relative.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Vicevich found with his foot in his mouth

I haven't listened to right-wing hatemonger Jim Vicevich on WTIC-AM for months. Mostly it's because I don't allow myself to listen. Partly, it's because I haven't been in my car much over that time period.

But yesterday I was in my car and the radio was tuned to WTIC-AM.

And I was just about to switch the damn thing off because the blowhard host, and his blowhard guest from some wingnut blog called Powerline were jerking each other off about ACORN and how the Obama campaign has collected internet donations. The entire conversation was accusation with out substantiation. Typical.

Then a call came in. The caller introduced himself as a veteran. And as usual, Vicevich afforded him the deference he offers all people who have participated in military service.

I don't know the caller's exact words, but he said something like: "I'm a Vietnam veteran, and I just wanted to call and comment on what you had to say about homeless people being allowed to vote."

A few minutes earlier, the dimwitted host, and another caller went on and on about how allowing homeless people to vote would lead to massive voter fraud. In a mocking voice, the nitwit host did his imitiation of a homeless person saying something like, "My address? It's bench 939 in Central Park." And then the host and the caller laughed like hyenas.

So, the Vietnam vet was commenting on that exchange. He continued by saying something like: "I'm not an Obama supporter, but I don't see how you can be against homeless people voting. Lots of Vietnam vets are homeless. They live under bridges and in the woods, and they served this country. And I think they have the right to vote."

The lamebrained host said, "But...." and then there was a moment of what radio people call "dead air."

The host, whose tongue was suddenly as calcified as his intellect, changed the topic rapidly, but in that moment, that one moment, the host's hate, derision, predjudices, biases, and blindspots were suddenly distilled and exposed by the simple challenge of a Vietnam vet.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Party on Fountain

Party life at Wesleyan. I'm disappointed they didn't mention Pearl Street, or feature me shouting out the window: "Shut the fuck up."

H/T Aural Wes.

Who's a socialist, Sarah?

Gag order at Quinnipiac

Quinnipiac is a strangely common native American word that regularly falls out of the mouth's of pundit and newscasters during this election season.

Over the past 20 years, Quinnipiac University has reinvented itself from a sleepy second tier college to a respected school with major concentrations in law and communications.

But there must be something the school doesn't understand about the Constituition, and the New York Times calls them out on that lack of perspective today.

It seems Quinnipiac is trying to ban some student journalist from printing an independent newspaper on campus.

I wonder where their vaunted journalism professors are when this repression is going on? Where's the story in the "new" Hartford Courant? Where is the good sense of the administrators?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Not a friend of Angelo Mozilo, "or whatever his name is"

Senator Chris Dodd is attempting to face down his demons today, appearing twice on a local AM radio station, without conceding a single document about his mortgages received from Countrywide Financial as part of the controversial "friend of Angelo (Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo)" program.

Dodd has proclaimed his innocence, but for an experienced Senator who has run the Senate Banking Committee, it's a bit hard to accept that level of naiveté. If in fact he knows so little about his personal mortgage, I'm not sure I want him at the head of a legislative committee which controls and regulates those banks and mortgage companies.

What strikes me odd, in the "the lady doth protest too much, methinks" category, is a verbal cue I've heard Dodd use more than once when addressing his problems. He goes on and on about not being informed about the favoritism of the mortgage program he used, claims he only used mortgage brokers, explains that mortgages were at an all-time low and that refinancing was natural, then he says: "And I never dealt with Angelo Mozilo, or whatever his name is."

That "or whatever his name is" strikes me as disingenous. It's something a teenager might say if accused of hanging out with the wrong crowd of teenagers. He said it last week when confronted by reporters, and he said it this morning on WTIC-AM in an interview (he didn't say it later in the day in an interview with the same radio station on the Colin McEnroe show) with hosts who didn't seem inclined to question the preposterous premise that Dodd might not show preference for someone who "saved" him tens of thousands of dollars over the life of his mortgage.

Maybe it's just the schtick of a seasoned politician who thinks he's got a winning rhetorical device to demonstrate his innocence. Instead, he's perfected a verbal tic, polished it, and delivers it like a stage actor reading a bad script.

Where does fox shit come from? A fox asshole.

The laughable Megyn (clever spelling) Kelly, demonstrates her bias as she complains about being accused of bias.

Surprise. Senate republicans to welcome Creepy Joe™ with open arms

Let's see. He's spent six months bashing Barack Obama. He's spoken at their convention. He's embraced a novice vice-presidential candidate as if she were legitimate. He's pummeled his Democratic colleagues. He's led cheers for unending war.

So is it really news when the Senate Republicans declare that they'd love Lieberman to caucus with them?

It's easy to see Lieberman playing out the remainder of his Senate career (certainly no one can imagine that he'd be able to run in Connecticut in 2012), following his most base and comfortable instincts as a conservative, divisive, war hawk in the Republican nest.

Falling precipitously - not just the stock market, CT senatorial approval ratings

Both Chris Dodd, and Creepy Joe™ Lieberman have seen their approval ratings buffeted by their recent performances. Dodd's failure to address his problem of receiving favorable treatment by Countrywide Financial (excellent column by Rick Green on the topic) has made him a topic of derision at a time when average citizens are struggling as a result of a financial hemmorhage which Dodd's Senate banking committee failed to staunch.

Lieberman, well, this blog has noted his performance as Republican shill. But what's most surprising to me is that 40% of poll respondents still think he's doing a good job. A good job for Sarah Palin maybe, but not for residents of this state.

The Courant today also features a powerful op-ed (a rarity in the "new" Courant) by Charles Merlis, a retired West Hartford lawyer. Merlis suggests that a rapid re-regulation of the credit card industry would have a tremendously powerful effect on the financial crisis, and he encourages all candidates, or for that matter, any candidate, to take up the cause.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Uncle Jesus, Aunty Christ

I am truly embarrassed by my fellow Americans.

Here's what a British reporter, Ed Pilkington, stumbled upon while writing a story about Ethanol - the beast.

It must be hard to be both pro-war and pro-life at the same time and still look so perky that early in the morning

Margaret and Helen. Reputed to be real, life-long friends in Austin. And even if they're not, they're a great invention.

If only every 80 year old had Helen's perspective.

Roger, wilco, will vote

(Chicago Sun Times photo - Tweedy and Obama)

Obama's on the Wilco bandwagon, and vice versa.

You can get a free download of Wilco and Fleet Foxes doing Dylan's I Shall Be Released for pledging to vote, here.

And Wilco rocked for Obama.

Trick or treat, I'm James Kunstler

If I really want to scare people on all Hallow's Eve, I will go door to door as James Kunstler, a writer of particularly interesting books on the failure of urban design (Home From Nowhere), and the ways in which we might confront and cure those failures.

His blog, Clusterfuck Nation, is one of my favorites, and you'll find it over there to the left in my Link-Ola listing.

But it's getting very scary to read his last several posts. As a writer, he has the gift of projecting from what is actually happening, to what might just happen. His vision of the future is not for the faint-of-heart.

Kunstler has taken a long hard look at the dismal economic situation, and hypothesized hyperinflation, shanty towns, oil shortages, food hoarding and rationing and finally open rebellion.

This, for example, from his post, Easthampton Burning:

I have thought for some time that things could get dangerously out of hand in America, despite our exceptionalist notion that we are immune to the common plot-lines of history. For starters, inauguration night will seem more like Halloween, as those two little words fly in to haunt the new president. So, a large and looming question is: who will be appointed the next attorney general of the US (to replace the human sash-weight currently occupying the office), and how soon will the federal marshals be scouring the wainscoted hallways of Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, not to mention a thousand Greenwich, Connecticut, hedge fund boiler rooms, with man-sized nets?

The new president will have to be Franklin Roosevelt on steroids, with some Mahatma Gandhi and Florence Nightingale thrown in. My pet project of restoring the American passenger railroad system might seem pretty minor in the face of all this, but it's at least a place to start that will accomplish several things: allow people and things to get places without cars and trucks; put many thousands of people to work at many levels doing something of direct, practical value; and be a small step in rebuilding confidence that we are a society capable of accomplishing something.

And this from his frightening post, What Now?:

...let's say that we are witnessing the two stages of a tsunami. The current disappearance of wealth in the form of debts repudiated, bets welshed on, contracts canceled, and Lehman Brothers-style sob stories played out is like the withdrawal of the sea. The poor curious little monkey-humans stand on the beach transfixed by the strangeness of the event as the water recedes and the sea floor is exposed and all kinds of exotic creatures are seen thrashing in the mud, while the skeletons of historic wrecks are exposed to view, and a great stench of organic decay wafts toward the strand. Then comes the second stage, the tidal wave itself -- which in this case will be horrific monetary inflation -- roaring back over the mud flats toward the land mass, crashing over the beach, and ripping apart all the hotels and houses and infrastructure there while it drowns the poor curious monkey-humans who were too enthralled by the weird spectacle to make for higher ground. The killer tidal wave washes away all the things they have labored to build for decades, all their poignant little effects and chattels, and the survivors are left keening amidst the wreckage as the sea once again returns to normal in its eternal cradle.

I must say that in the stillness of a few early mornings, I've had my share of similar thoughts, and I can only hope that my amplified pessimism, and Kunstler's, is misplaced. In fact, I've never wished more that my lizard-brain, wake-me-in-the-middle-of-the-night, instincts are dead wrong.

So, boo, goddamit. The hedge fund hobgoblins of Wall Street aren't real, are they?

BTW, the New York Times business section had a good column by Gretchen Morgenstern about the failure of regulators to check the failure of financiers, and why we are entrusting any of them to perform any duties moving forward.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ok, wassup?

You remember this.

And now, there's this.

If he's such a good campaigner, why can't he deliver his own state?

Much was written yesterday about an interview Creepy Joe™ Lieberman did Friday in which he exclaimed about Bush-in-skirts Sarah Palin, "Thank God she's not going to have to be President from day one." In fact, if you read the interview in context, his "Thank God," clearly refers to the presumed health of his buddy John McCain.

What's more striking about the interview was his irritation when reporters asked him about McCain's negative campaigning. According to Hartford Courant reporters, he said:

"You guys are going down a road, you have contributed to the demeaning of our politics by this kind of focus," Lieberman said. "I mean, give me a break. Have any of you been out listening to me?"

That's Lieberman blaming the messenger for his own divisiveness.

Also, according to the Courant: "Lieberman said he has refrained from using a McCain campaign label for Obama's call for higher taxes on the wealthy — 'socialism.'"

Unfortunately, as noted in this blog a few days ago, that's simply not true. Lieberman stands on the same dais as everyone in the right-wing campaign who is furiously spewing McCarthyite claims of "socialism," "Marxism" and "Communism," in hopes of frightening a handful of American dimwits into believing that Obama is one of "them."

Here's what Lieberman himself said the other day in New Hampshire:

"I mean there's ways I suppose you can make the argument that there's some similarities between with what Senator Obama is talking about, a classic what used to be known as socialist theory. I just think you have to state it directly: Senator Obama wants to raise taxes and Senator McCain does not."

So much for his claims of innocence.

And if you want an indication of whom he's aligning himself with check these out.

From Sarah Palin:

From a right-wing Florida newscaster:

My question to Creepy Joe™ Lieberman is, why not come to your own home state and try to sling some of this shit? Afraid of how the crowds might react to ridiculous red-baiting?

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Courant will endorse Obama

My sources tell me that after two Bush endorsements, a couple for John Rowland, a post-Democratic Lieberman nod, TNOCPN (The Nation's Oldest Continually Published Newspaper) will endorse Barack Obama.

To do anything less would have been to abandon good sense, and hundreds of subscribers.

Joe sixpack, Joe the plumber and Creepy Joe™ the traitor

Just when you think Creepy Joe™ Lieberman has reached the zenith of his creepiness, he goes and says something even more outrageous.

Now he's calling Barack Obama a socialist:

"I mean there's ways I suppose you can make the argument that there's some similarities between with what Senator Obama is talking about, a classic what used to be known as socialist theory. I just think you have to state it directly: Senator Obama wants to raise taxes and Senator McCain does not."

If callback elections were allowed for senators, Lieberman wouldn't be doing any of this. Let's hope Democratic leaders can muster the backbone to invite him to leave the party permanenty.

How you say "double entendre' in Russian

Biden, nyet. Palin, da. H/T Andrew Sullivan.

The last coins of his reputation

In endorsing Barack Obama for President, the New York Times has issued a beautifully-written, strongly worded recommendation of Obama's strengths, and a lacerating repudiation of George Bush's failed presidency, and of John McCain's divisive, desperate campaign.

The Times goes so far as to remind us that they endorsed Clinton over Obama in the primary, but that:

Watching him being tested in the campaign has long since erased the reservations that led us to endorse Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primaries. He has drawn in legions of new voters with powerful messages of hope and possibility and calls for shared sacrifice and social responsibility.

As for McCain they also admit their error in endorsing him as the Republican candidate saying he "has spent the last coins of his reputation for principle and sound judgment to placate the limitless demands and narrow vision of the far-right wing."

As for his running mate, Bush-in-skirts Palin, her tone has only grown shriller as the campaign lurches from the gutter into the ditch.

In yesterday's kiss-ass interview with the ridiculously-biased hate-monger Sean Hannity, in which Hannity resurrects every already-disproven, already-discarded by any credible source, already-demonstrated-as-canard accusation, and forms them into softball questions, Palin shows herself as a hateful, ruthless, racist, vicious, unrepentant right-wing demagogue, and a simpleton who would stand side-by-side with Bush and push America over the precipice.

She spews code words in her infantile, small-town, adopted mid-country, mall-polished, sing-song, Betty Boop vocal style - socialism, welfare, elite, pro-American, terrorist, ACORN, judgment - only interrupting her sophomoric analysis of world matters to lie, again and again.

She's dangerous.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

O for O

Opie for Obama.

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Feeling the heat from a musical hotbed

I've loved music all my popular life, and I'm old enough to have lived through all sorts of musical geographical movements, from the hotbeds of folk in the Village and Harvard Square, through the Mersey-beat British invasion, through the California sound, the influence of Motown, Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans. I envied those who could hear the Replacements, the Jayhawks or Prince on any given night in Minneapolis (where an active music scene still rages). I consumed the rage of London punks, and the raw power of New York ruffians gathered at a small club in the Bowery. I ignored the influence of disco in every city where it sprung up like a fungus. But I adored the grunge of Seattle, the of Chicago and the cross-platform weirdness of Austin, and the anthems and jigs of Dublin and Camden. I've travelled regularly to the outback of Lafayette and Eunice Louisiana to get my fill of roots music that begins on the back porch.

And now I find I live across the freakin' street from the lava flow of one of the hottest musical spots in the world, Wesleyan University.

If you don't believe it, check out this month's Spin Magazine which features a cover story on MGMT, who got their start at Wesco, or read what they're reading this week in London when they pick up the musical inkie, NME.

And if that doesn't convince you, then check AuralWes regularly, where you'll find weekly listening for some of the hippest shows this side of Brooklyn. Or listen to WESU, where some of the musical freakiness begins.

How is it, that we don't have a single club on Main Street that acknowledges just how cool we are?

H/T to Wesleying for pointing all of this out.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Que sera, Sarah

A singalong. H/T to David Schulz.


Proud to say these are my friends - Dirk Powell, Christine Balfa, Corey Ledet, Zydeco Joe. Oui, on peut. Yes, we can.

Creepy Joe™ and the craven empty Democratic leaders

Glenn Greewald explains why Creepy Joe™ must go, and why the Democrats in Congress don't seem to be up to the task.

As if we here in Connecticut didn't know.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pretty good for a woman who won her first on-air job in a contest

Rachel Maddow's unapologetic intelligence, her fierce wit and her embrace of being normal have won her a quick and huge audience after less than two months of broadcasting. She's beating the dentures out of Larry King and giving Fox News a run for their money.

Best yet, she hasn't given up her digs in Northampton Mass, the town everyone in New England aspires to call home.

And the New York Times can't stop writing about her.

And now that I know she worked at WRSI, I know we must have mutual friends.

MC Yogi on hope

MC Yogi has combined hip hop with yoga. It seems to work.

And a British Conservative party, mayor of London, Boris Johnson, finds hope in Obama after a dismal eight years of Bush.

H/T to Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Dish for both.

Down to the crossroads

Many years ago while travelling South of Memphis, I stood at the famous crossroads of the Robert Johnson legend in which he sold his soul to the devil to become a genius blues player. That crossroads, of highways 61 and 49, in Clarksdale, is only one of two possible sites for that satanic meeting. The other is the crossroads of routes 1 and 8 in Rosedale Mississippi. Of course, it's all just legend, as is much of what's known of the short life of Robert Johnson. He died at 26 or 27 after travelling the country, making a reputation for himself as an incredible musician, and recording a very tiny but influential set of songs.

The legend continues, and is expanded in a compelling story of a newly-found photograph (on EBAY of all places), written by Frank Digiacomo and appearing in this month's Vanity Fair.

And now The New York Times calls out Dodd

The editorial board of the New York Times suggests Senator Dodd is being less than candid. What's he waiting for?

Message from the padded cell

At the Alfred E. Smith dinner, John McCain suggested that Keith Olbermann belonged in the rubber room of an insane asylum. Keith Olbermann, who has vowed to issue a special commentary every night until the election, has his own suggestion for John McCain.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Young musicians tackle political activism

It does my heart good to speak with young musicians who using their talent to make this a better world.

I spent an hour Friday standing at the Old State House in Hartford protesting Creepy Joe™ Lieberman's policies with State Radio. They played a packed show at the Webster that night.

Evan Greer is a Boston singer/songwriter who is part of a political/musical collective called Riot Folk. He's traveling the country performing protest songs, and putting on workshops. He stops at Wesleyan University tomorrow for both.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

One thing Carolyn Lumsden forgot to mention

In today's Hartford Courant, Editorial Page Editor, Carolyn Lumsden endeavors to explain why and how the Hartford Courant endorses candidates prior to elections.

Lumsden explains that examining candidates is a duty of journalists, as compelled by the founding document of our nation:

We do this because we are obliged to. It is our civic mission. Ours is the only industry singled out for protection by the Bill of Rights — "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press," says its very first amendment — because the Founders saw an unfettered press as crucial to an informed citizenry and a check on the powerful. With that privilege comes a duty to be more than an observer, especially at election time.

Noble and true. Lumsden goes on to explain more of the process - interviewing candidates, comparing notes with other editorial board members, conciously separating themselves from the news staff.

"Our department sits on the other side of the building from the news operation," Lumsden writes. As if the physical separation by a long hallway somehow resaaures us that editoral writers and newswriters never communicate on the thing they both write about - the news. And what would be the harm if news writers spoke with editorial writers anyway?

Personally, I'd find more reassurance in a declaration that editorial staff sequesters themselves from advertising staff, business staff, corporate offices and the publisher.

But unfortunately, that's not the case. I've heard from more than one Courant source that the endorsements of George Bush for president (Because you can't read that absurd endorsement on Courant archives for free, I include it in it's entireity below), and the late endoresements of John Rowland for governor, both came as a result of the publisher, using his single, powerful vote, to outweigh a majority of support by editorial board members for opposing candidates. And, in fact, the endorsement of Joe Lieberman over Ned Lamont is questionable for the same reasons.

In the end, the opinion, and hence endorsement, of the publisher, and the corporate office trumps anything the editorial board comes up with.

How does that influence our interpretation of Lumsden's explanation? It makes Courant endorsements easy to discount or to dismiss entirely.

The Absurd Hartford Courant Editorial Board 2004 Bush endorsement

As in many past elections, Americans are closely divided over who should be the next president. It's not a clear-cut case of one candidate being far superior to the other. Yet history is not made by those who stand on the sidelines and wring their hands. The people must choose on Nov. 2, and The Courant recommends George W. Bush over John F. Kerry.

A cataclysmic event occurred nine months into Mr. Bush's presidency -- the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 -- that changed America and reordered the criteria for judging who should be president.

In this age of global terrorism, Americans must have a resolute leader. President Bush is better prepared than his challenger to manage the security needs of the nation. His promise to prevent attacks on the United States by taking the fight to the enemy abroad is one of the main reasons we recommend Mr. Bush for a second term.

The strategy to oust the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and rebuild that country is working reasonably well, and Mr. Bush deserves credit for it, as he does for persuading Libya's Moammar Gadhafi to open his country for arms inspections.

There are cracks in Mr. Bush's record, as there are in any president's. His major justifications for the invasion of Iraq were based on bad intelligence, as it turned out, and he did not plan well enough for winning the peace.

Further, Mr. Bush has not been as prudent a steward of the nation's economy and environment as he should be.

That said, Mr. Bush's positive, decisive leadership qualities and the perilous times we live in are a good match. He is the candidate who can best protect the nation. The Democratic challenger's vague and conflicting prescriptions for energizing America and defusing the terrorist threat do not measure up.

Why Mr. Bush?

The president's confidence and idealism saw the nation through the dark days after 9/11. The commission that studied the failures leading to the attacks faulted the performance of the nation's intelligence agencies. Post-attack, however, Americans couldn't have asked more of the president. His strong, calm leadership soothed a shattered and uncertain people.

At home and abroad, Mr. Bush took immediate steps to shore up our defenses and put the terrorists to flight. Within a month, a U.S.- led coalition began a war that toppled the oppressive Taliban regime in Kabul and scattered al-Qaida into mountain caves. Mr. Bush strengthened a useful alliance with the Pakistani government of President Pervez Musharraf to fight the terrorist threat.

There is more work to be done to stabilize Afghanistan so that it no longer will be a haven for fanatics. But the unprecedented presidential election on Oct. 9, in which millions of women were among the voters, was a landmark affirmation of Mr. Bush's belief in rooting democracy in a part of the world that has never known its blessings.

Mr. Bush should have shown more patience before invading Iraq. Given more time, the continuing sanctions and the encouragement of homegrown Iraqi resistance, it might have been possible to drive Saddam Hussein from power with far less bloodshed and with a coalition as solid and committed as the one formed by President George H.W. Bush in the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Still, the dictator posed a threat to peace. Now he is gone and Iraq and the world are better off without him. And if the president's optimistic plans work out, some form of representative government for Iraqis is in the offing.

Mr. Bush has not been a one-dimensional president concerned only with security; nor has he been a leader content to press an agenda of small ideas. He has marshaled support in Congress for big -- some would say historic -- domestic initiatives.

The president's tax cuts have helped to stimulate growth and shake off the effects of a particularly persistent recession that began before he took office and was made worse by 9/11. The economy is growing at a decent rate and jobs are starting to come back. Tax relief was the right thing to do; it's too bad that the cuts are being jeopardized by reckless spending in Congress.

Mr. Bush rallied bipartisan support for the No Child Left Behind act that seeks to improve teaching and student performance and hold failing schools accountable. Washington needs to fully fund implementation of the law, as promised, and modify federal rules to give states flexibility to exempt certain students from tests. But make no mistake: This Bush initiative has the potential to transform public education.

Using Republican majorities in Congress, Mr. Bush succeeded in making more changes in Medicare than at any other time since the vital program was enacted 40 years ago. The changes are intended to stabilize the health care program for seniors and the disabled and give recipients a prescription drug benefit for the first time.

The drug benefit, which doesn't fully kick in until 2006, is confusing and requires more out-of-pocket expense than most supporters wanted. It doesn't allow the government to negotiate lower prices with the pharmaceutical companies and it bans the reimportation of U.S.-made drugs from Canada. In other words, it's far from perfect. But it's a start, to be fixed in later years. Mr. Bush should get credit for pushing through the first social entitlement in two generations.

The president can share credit with the likes of Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut for creating the Department of Homeland Security and for supporting key recommendations of the 9/11 commission. Mr. Bush at first opposed the department and the commission, but what's important is that he came around. There was no choice but to reorganize the federal government's security and protection agencies after the terrorist attacks. What we had wasn't working.

Add to this list Mr. Bush's continued commitment to diversity. As he did when he was governor of Texas, the president has appointed many accomplished members of racial and ethnic minority groups to top government jobs.

Why Not Mr. Kerry?

Democratic voters in primary and caucus states flocked to the junior senator from Massachusetts earlier this year after it appeared that former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, thought to be too radical and too anti-war to win in November, would grab the party's presidential nomination.

Yet then, as now, Mr. Kerry was seen by many of his supporters as only the lesser of two evils. In the Democratic primaries he was the anti-Dean. Now he is the "Not George Bush" candidate. That's not good enough.

For all of his impressive debating skills, intelligence and experience in the Senate, Mr. Kerry has run an uninspiring, vacillating campaign. In large measure, it has been negative and reactive. He has articulated no grand vision that tells Americans where he wants to take the country or how he would protect its people in a dangerous world.

On the one issue that most divides Americans -- the war in Iraq - - Mr. Kerry comes up muddled. This decorated veteran has taken almost every conceivable position on the conflict, to the dismay of both supporters and opponents. He thought Saddam Hussein posed a threat to the United States. He voted to authorize the use of force. Now he says he was misled and it was wrong of Mr. Bush to invade Iraq.

Mr. Kerry says he has a plan to win the peace and end the occupation. But it is an imitation of the plan implemented, although belatedly, by the White House. Train Iraqi security forces? Hold elections in January? Accelerate the rebuilding effort in Iraq? Seek more help from allies? That's what Mr. Kerry promises to do. That's what the Bush administration is trying to do.

Mr. Kerry's insistence that he can accomplish his four-point plan faster and better than Mr. Bush is not persuasive. Although Mr. Kerry may be a more sympathetic figure in Europe and other regions traditionally friendly to the United States, that doesn't mean he can talk foreign governments into committing troops and treasure to Iraq in the quantities needed to supplant Americans.

We agree with the Democratic nominee on some key issues. Like him, we favor abortion rights, gun control, strong environmental protection and the provision of health care coverage to the millions without it.

Yet opinions without the leadership ability to bring them to fruition matter little. Mr. Kerry has been in the Senate for 19 years and has passed few if any major pieces of legislation bearing his name. He is a loner. He has not developed a strong bipartisan network in the upper chamber. There's not much evidence to suggest that the Democratic nominee would as president have the clout and discipline needed to guide his agenda through a sharply divided Congress, regardless of its merits.

Further, it's doubtful that taxpayers could afford the cost of some of Mr. Kerry's ideas.

If There Are Four More Years

An endorsement of Mr. Bush in the Nov. 2 election does not mean that The Courant's editorial page is committed to support all of his actions if he wins a second term. This newspaper has criticized the administration's policies on some fronts and reserves the right to continue doing so if the president is given a new lease.

Here are some first-term weaknesses that need fixing. Mr. Bush must:

Rein in profligate spending by Congress. The president has not vetoed one appropriations bill in his first four years.

Make a priority of rebuilding relations with U.S. allies. There is strength in unity.

Correct the impression that civil liberties aren't important to him. Mr. Bush has seemed too willing to allow abuses of prisoners' rights, for example, in such places as Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Stop the rollback of tough environmental protection standards.

For the sake of uniting the country, say no to fundamentalists who want to impose their brand of theology on social issues. These crusades range from relentless attempts to restrict women's reproductive rights to opposing federal funding of promising embryonic stem cell research to fighting for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Those are yesterday's wars.

Overall, Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry have run credible campaigns, notwithstanding some of the outrageous accusations issuing lately from each camp. Each man is capable of being president.

We are rarely blessed with perfect choices on who should lead the nation. On balance, President Bush has compiled a record good enough to merit a second term. He has been an agent of change and a strong leader in a dangerous time.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The flames of ignorance themselves

Oh my. It's true, as PT Barnum said, "No one ever got rich overestimating the intelligence of the American public."

Fannning the flames of ignorance

Minnesota Republican representative Michelle Bachman appeared on Chris Matthews' Hardball show last night and revealed the view that people who don't agree with her can be considered "anti-American." She continued to repeat the lie that Barack Obama is a close associate of Bill Ayers. She repeated the lie that Ayers is unrepentant.

Here's what Ayers' colleagues say about him in a letter to the Chicago Tribune:

February 29, 2008

Chicago Tribune Editors:

We write to voice our support for our colleague, Bill Ayers, who was the target yesterday of Jonah Goldberg’s mean-spirited muckraking journalism. Goldberg asks why Bill Ayers is allowed to have a job as a college professor, despite his leftist views and political activities from some forty years ago? The answer is simple. Professor Ayers has degrees from University of Michigan and Columbia University’s Teachers College. Over the past twenty plus years he has earned the reputation of a cutting edge scholar of education, and made major contributions to our understanding of schools and the institutions impacting children. Ayers has authored, co-authored or edited 14 books and dozens of scholarly articles and book chapters, some of them award-winning. His books have received praise from the likes of Jonathan Kozol, Studs Turkel and Scott Turow. He has been invited to lecture around the country and internationally on pedagogy, curriculum, the politics of education, and the small schools strategy for educational excellence. He has served on numerous university and community-based committees. These professional accomplishments meet and exceed the threshold of what is required to teach at the University of Illinois (UIC). Moreover, the Academy does not exclude or persecute prolific and hard-working faculty for unpopular beliefs or controversial ideas. During the McCarthy era of the 1950s one could be fired simply for the hint of left of center views or association with people who held those views. Perhaps Mr. Goldberg is nostalgic for an earlier time. We are not.


Barbara Ransby, Associate Professor of African American Studies and History, UIC

Beth E. Richie, Professor of Criminology. Law and Justice and African American Studies, UIC

Lisa Yun Lee, Director, Jane Addams Hull House Museum at UIC

Here's what Ayers himself wrote in a letter to the New York Times:

September 15, 2001

To The Editors—

In July of this year Dinitia Smith asked my publisher if she might interview me for the New York Times on my forthcoming book, Fugitive Days. From the start she questioned me sharply about bombings, and each time I referred her to my memoir where I discussed the culture of violence we all live with in America, my growing anger in the 1960’s about the structures of racism and the escalating war, and the complex, sometimes extreme and despairing choices I made in those terrible times.

Smith’s angle is captured in the Times headline: “No regrets for a love of explosives” (September 11, 2001). She and I spoke a lot about regrets, about loss, about attempts to account for one’s life. I never said I had any love for explosives, and anyone who knows me found that headline sensationalistic nonsense. I said I had a thousand regrets, but no regrets for opposing the war with every ounce of my strength. I told her that in light of the indiscriminate murder of millions of Vietnamese, we showed remarkable restraint, and that while we tried to sound a piercing alarm in those years, in fact we didn’t do enough to stop the war.

Smith writes of me: “Even today, he ‘finds a certain eloquence to bombs, a poetry and a pattern from a safe distance,’ he writes.” This fragment seems to support her “love affair with bombs” thesis, but it is the opposite of what I wrote:

We’ll bomb them into the Stone Age, an unhinged American politician had intoned, echoing a gung-ho, shoot-from-the-hip general… each describing an American policy rarely spoken so plainly. Boom. Boom. Boom. Poor Viet Nam. Almost four times the destructive power Florida… How could we understand it? How could we take it in? Most important, what should we do about it? Bombs away. There is a certain eloquence to bombs, a poetry and a pattern from a safe distance. The rhythm of B-52s dropping bombs over Viet Nam, a deceptive calm at 40,000 feet as the doors ease open and millennial eggs are delivered on the green canopy below, the relentless thud of indiscriminate destruction and death without pause on the ground. Nothing subtle or syncopated. Not a happy rhythm. Three million Vietnamese lives were extinguished. Dig up Florida and throw it into the ocean. Annihilate Chicago or London or Bonn. Three million—each with a mother and a father, a distinct name, a mind and a body and a spirit, someone who knew him well or cared for her or counted on her for something or was annoyed or burdened or irritated by him; each knew something of joy or sadness or beauty or pain. Each was ripped out of this world, a little red dampness staining the earth, drying up, fading, and gone. Bodies torn apart, blown away, smudged out, lost forever.

I wrote about Vietnamese lives as a personal American responsibility, then, and the hypocrisy of claiming an American innocence as we constructed and stoked an intricate and hideous chamber of death in Asia. Clearly I wrote and spoke about the export of violence and the government’s love affair with bombs. Just as clearly Dinitia Smith was interested in her journalistic angle and not the truth. This is not a question of being misunderstood or “taken out of context,” but of deliberate distortion.

Some readers apparently responded to her piece, published on the same day as the vicious terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, by associating my book with them. This is absurd. My memoir is from start to finish a condemnation of terrorism, of the indiscriminate murder of human beings, whether driven by fanaticism or official policy. It begins literally in the shadow of Hiroshima and comes of age in the killing fields of Southeast Asia. My book criticizes the American obsession with a clean and distanced violence, and the culture of thoughtlessness and carelessness that results from it. We are now witnessing crimes against humanity in our own land on an unthinkable scale, and I fear that we might soon see innocent people in other parts of the world as well as in the U.S. dying and suffering in response.

All that we witnessed September 11—the awful carnage and pain, the heroism of ordinary people—may drive us mad with grief and anger, or it may open us to hope in new ways. Perhaps precisely because we have suffered we can embrace the suffering of others and gather the necessary wisdom to resist the impulse to lash out randomly. The lessons of the anti-war movements of the 1960s and 70s may be more urgent now than ever.

Bill Ayers Chicago, IL

The fact that we are being represented by mindless xenophobes like Bachman, who is putting spark to the dangerous bigotries that lay dormant like stored explosives in America, is the scariest thing.

Good for Chris Matthews for getting after her.

Friday, October 17, 2008

A curse on Creepy Joe™ from State Radio

(State Radio songwriter, vocalist and guitarist Chad Stokes greets fans who read about the protest on Facebook.)

Political rockers State Radio, from Boston, and on their Take the Country Back, tour stop at the Webster Theater in Hartford tonight. These political musical protesters released a razor sharp set of rock editorials on an album called Year of the Crow, this year.

On all their tour stops they make a point of organizing a political action of some sort, ranging from registering voters, knocking on doors for Barack Obama, and leading protests.

In Hartford, at noon, they gather a small group of fans to a few words of suggestion to our Senator, Creepy Joe™ Lieberman.

The three piece band, along with their road manager, and their roadie, helped write slogans on placards. They were shooed off of Constitution Plaza (imagine free speechers being chased from CONSTITUTION Plaza), by a security guard who told them they were on private property.

They reassembled across the street from the building in which Lieberman keeps an office, finished up their signs then flashed them for the noontime lunch crowd, and for passing traffic. Judging by the smiles, waves and horn beeps, many of those passing by agreed with their sentiments.

Ladies and gentlemen there are still two wars going on

Nothing funny about Cardinal Egan

(New York Times photo)

That guy in the funny robes sitting between John McCain and Barack Obama at last night's Alfred E. Smith dinner was Cardinal Edward Egan of New York, who you may remember for his tenure in the Bridgeport diocese where he was accused of allowing priests who abused children to remain in the ministry.

Forget about pallin' around with terrorists. Now each candidate is photographed exchanging giggles with a man who tacitly condoned child abuse.

The whole white tie and tails, roast with a complicit press corps rolling in the aisles is a bit much for me to wrap my head around. The financial markets are tanking, we're embroiled in two wars, candidates are spitting invective, and we get one-liners? No wonder the world's going to shit.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Who looks more presidential?

Creepy Joe™ pallin' around with terrorists

It turns out that McCain factotum, Creepy Joe™ Lieberman has his own terrorist baggage. In this case its serial bomber and convicted murderer Eduardo Arocena. In this case, the baggage has actually exploded. Arocena is an anti-Castro terrorist who has engaged in multiple bombing, including a failed airline bombing where a luggage bomb exploded early, on the tarmac, instead of in the luggage compartment of an airliner as intended.

Lieberman has been caught on tape promising Arocena's wife that he would plea the terrorists case for her.

As Bob Dylan said, "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."

Bill Ayers takes a back seat to Joe the Plumber

As promised McAngry raised the specter of 60's radicalism at the debate on Wednesday night, but McAngry didn't spend as much time on Bill Ayers as he did on Joe (Wurzelbacher) the Plumber.

The two assumptions we can make is that Joe the Plumber is a very wealthy plumber indeed if he makes enough money, annually in personal income, to have to pay taxes under Barack Obama's plan.

Much the worse for Bill Ayers, whose name appears on this page as a favorite link, and has since the right-wing press tried to brand Obama as a terrorist for associating with Ayers. The blog is worth reading. In fact, in his most recent post invites his critics to take the time to read the books Ayers has written on education.

But a previous post is even more enlightening. Framed in the format of one of those famous Nigerian emails you've received which promises to open the door to great riches for you, it lampoons the great financial bailout, which alas, has not worked. I don't know if Ayers wrote it, or he just recognized its genius, but it's certainly on tarket.

Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude. I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America.

My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s.

This transactin is 100% safe.
This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance.

My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction.

After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully Minister of Treasury Paulson

One can only presume he's got something to hide

Chris Dodd still won't release details on his preferred mortgage deal with Countrywide. An innocent man would have released the paperwork long ago. He's waiting for people to forget. But as the financial world crumble, much as a result of companies like Countrywide gaming the economic system with high-risk mortgages, people want to know why government watchdogs were asleep at the wheel.

Chris Dodd was Don Quixote -ing it in his presidential campaign while the financial industry he was supposed to be watching was destroying our financial security.

Unfortunately that makes two Connecticut Senators, who are proving to be untrustworthy.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Woebegone Creepy Joe™

Connecticut's beloved Creepy Joe™ Lieberman is sticking his nose where it doesn't belong, again.

This time defending Republican Senate Candidate Norm Coleman, whose lead in the Minnesota race against Al Franken, has evaporated. Maybe CJ™ can do for Coleman what he's done for John McCain.

Olbermann pleas for McCain to suspend campaign again

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The ballad of easy rider

You wouldn't necessarily glean it from the characters he portrays, and that's the sign of a great actor, but Dennis Hopper has been a conservative Republican for decades, supporting both of the Georges Bush.

Things have changed. And he's praying for an Obama win.

A voice of reason

Paul Krugman has won the Nobel prize for economics. His columns on the editorial page of the New York Times have always made more sense, and have been written with more conscience, than most of what's found on the Opinion pages of most newspapers.

Krugman has pummeled the Bush presidency, and castigated the runaway greed on Wall Street which precipitated our current crisis, when other opinionators were cheerleading both.

That being said, he won the Nobel for something completely different - his studies of international trade.

Well-deserved in any case.

Monday, October 13, 2008

From Alaska on a mission for god

As John McCain's candidacy is mired in the sludge it has been slinging, John McCain seems to want to stop fanning the flames of hatred and bigotry, and in fact, is reported to be feuding with his vice-presidential candidate, Bush-in-skirts Sarah Palin. Palin, for her part, feels the tilt of the sinking ship, and is clawing her way to a lifeboat.

Given the way her Alaskan church took control of many of the power positions in and around Wasila after she was elected mayor, one has to assume the Joan-of-Arc complex is at least a possibility. She wants the power of the state so she can dedicate it to the power of god.

Rats deserting a sinking ship

Remember, of course, that an Obama presidency will be good business for conservative pundits.

With apologies to that fascist Disney

H/T Colin McEnroe

Drill where?

Paul Nelson sent along a photo he took this weekend in Manchester, CT.

It raises a few questions:

There's oil in Manchester?

By "here" do you mean right where the truck is parked?

Or by "here" do you mean in the truck (if I had my portable hand drill, there might be a few new holes in that Dodge Ram.)

And what exactly do you mean by "drill?" Are you being metaphorical, and encouraging lovemaking, or are you asking the Army to conduct maneuvers?

Finally, does the driver understand irony? He's (she's?) driving a gas-guzzler and hauling something as inessential as an insulting campaign sign, and he wants us to despoil nature so he/she can continue down the road of ruin?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Lying for Jesus

As Sarah Palin denies emphatically, what has been specifically by investigators in the "troopergate" case, I'm beginning to think, more and more, that she has a Joan of Arc delusion. Appointed by God to do his work, and to take the rest of us into battle with her.

From the excellent Max Bluementhal:

And remarkably from Greta van Sustern:

H/T to Andrew Sullivan and the Daily Dish.

Some Maine solace

After a hectic week on the road, I looked forward to a long scheduled weekend in Maine to close up the family cabin, dismantle a decades-old left-leaning, and unused woodshed, the resulting incineration of the ruins, and a bit of Maine sanity.

I started the weekend by mowing half of a large field with a brush mower (my brother-in-law Mike had done the first half and was working on clearing a path throught the woods). Self-propelled, it dragged me through ditches and hedges, and after three hours, I felt like I had just participated in a cage fight. Still, wet with sweat, I was able to admire the Maine foliage in full gaudy, wintergreen berries - rubies in the brush, and witch hazel glowing gold.

While the shed in question leaned a bit, it was sturdier than it appeared (good old-fashioned Maine carpentry). It resisted the repeated blows of Nick and Connor, but finally succumbed. The multi-generational family of mice living inside were none to happy to see their winter home dismantled, but the resulting bonfire (permit required), was spectacular in the clear, cool Maine twilight.

Up early the next morning (this morning), I found the oceanside to be ten degrees warmer than the cabin in the woods. There's nothing more serene than an October ocean scape, but by later in the day, the unusually warm morning drew dozens to the beach, with a few brave kids splashing in the surf.

In the end, the long drive up and back did little to mitigate the travel weariness of the week, or the background worry about how the Asian markets would open, but the moments of quiet and the remove from the hubbub, provided temporary solace, at least.