Thursday, July 31, 2008

Since you asked…

The Nation:
Is the low road all McCain has left?
Since you asked, no.

Well, not "left," anyway. What else, really, did he ever have? Is anyone actually surprised by this?

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That's it, huh?

"All I can say is that we are proud of that commercial."
Actually, I guess it does say it all.

Worst candidate and campaign.


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Is it possible? Can it be?

McCain campaign aims even lower...
Oh yes. Oh yes indeed.

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Good questions.

Rhetorical, of course, but good just the same. Obama
“Given the seriousness of the issues, you’d think we could have a serious debate, but so far, all we’ve been hearing about is Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. I mean, I do have to ask my opponent, is that the best you can come up with? Is that really what this election is about? Is that what is worthy of the American people?”

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From the "Damned if you do" file.

Business Week...
What the McCain campaign doesn’t want people to know, according to one GOP strategist I spoke with over the weekend, is that they had an ad script ready to go if Obama had visited the wounded troops saying that Obama was...wait for it...using wounded troops as campaign props. So, no matter which way Obama turned, McCain had an Obama bashing ad ready to launch.
Hat tip to Kos.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008


…from smintheus at Dkos.
The Associated Press desperately needs to find a new Washington Bureau chief.
Urgently, even.

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From the "Majorities matter" file.

Via The Gavel...
In his first year as Chairman of the House Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee in 2007, Congressman Edwards authored a historic increase of $11.8 billion in veterans’ health care and benefits, the largest increase in veterans funding in the 77-year history of the Veterans Administration (VA).
Of course, there were years of Republican neglect to make up for. As usual, cleaning up Republican messes took the courage and capabilities of a Democrat.

Majorities matter.

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Wild Barry Obama…

…in Springfield, MO.
"The family legend is that Wild Bill Hickok, he's a distant cousin of mine," Obama said, noting an 1865 duel that happened in this town. "We're going to research that cause I'm ready to duel John McCain on taxes. Right now, right here. I'm a quick draw."
Damn he's good.

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All purpose McCain.

Straight talk via The Carpetbagger Report...
“I don’t know what we’re talking about.”
Well, he's got the issues covered. While I'm at it, here's the bottom line in headlines...
McCain Charge Against Obama Lacks Evidence
Whatcha' think? Worst campaign ever? Or worst candidate?

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Oh frabjous day!

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Ted Stevens, the longest-serving Republican senator and a figure in Alaska politics since before statehood, has been indicted on seven counts of falsely reporting hundreds of thousands of dollars in services he received from a company that helped renovate his home.
Despite concern I've seen expressed that this might open the door to an untainted opponent for Democrat Mark Begicha, I can only see this as a good thing. I expect Stevens to bull his way through the August primary while persisting in his increasingly hollow cries of innocence, and expect the according benefits to accrue to Begicha in November, but electoral considerations pale next to those of sound governance and accountability.

The immediate effect of the indictment is to remove Stevens from his role as Ranking Member of the Appropriations Committee. Anything that diminishes Stevens' role in the appropriations process is a good thing.

It's a good thing, too, when one of the poster boys for the Republican culture of corruption that held sway for too long is called to account. As flagrant in his abuse of power as he has been unorthodox in his manipulation of federal appropriations, Stevens isn't simply one of the bad guys, he's one of the worst.

Taking him down, even just a notch for now? Yep, a good thing.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Like, whatever.

McCain: "Oh, well, look. Anything is a good timetable that is dictated by conditions on the ground. Anything is good."
Anything. Sixteen months. Sixteen years. A century. It's all good.

He only wants to stay until he wants to leave.

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Ed Kilgore:
...I understand that Congress' steadily plummeting approval ratings this year have been a source of endless consolation to Republicans. But the idea that excessive liberal activism on the part of Democrats in Congress (the planted axiom of Kristol's argument) is a big reason for public discontent has significantly less evidence to support it than the dubious belief of some progressives that the failure to cut off war funding, block FISA, or impeach Bush, is the problem.
And there's the rub: Congress' abysmal approval rating are something of a statistical anomaly, produced by Democratic unhappiness with too little progress against Bush, Republicans unhappy with Democratic control, and many weak partisans and independents simply registering unhappiness with "Washington" and with the general direction of the country. With Democrats almost certain to increase their margins in both Houses, it's hard to imagine why the same voters determining that result would be excited about canceling its effect by voting for a presidential candidate promising to deadlock Congress even more than Bush has, or to move it back towards its pre-2006 direction.
What he said.

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Yes, they are.

Nick Beaudrot:
The McCain campaign is lying to the American public and the press and hoping that journalists will be too stupid to notice...
…and the scary part is I give 'em about a 50-50 chance of getting away with it.

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Me neither.

Steve Benen
I don’t think the war’s over.
It's not a question of whether there's a war, but of which war, and whose wars they are. That's the problem with the "conditions on the ground" talk we hear. Among the conditions on the ground is the war caused by the presence of an occupying army. We can stop that war any time we like. There's another war, taking place on both military and political levels, that's ongoing but will likely intensify in our absence. That's a hard truth. Things in Iraq may well get very much worse before they get very much better, and there's likely nothing short of endless occupation we can do about that. We can't just wait out the conflicting forces. They live there. They have no where else to go.

Of course, even if we try to outlast the potential for post-occupation conflict, there will be at least two low intensity wars - a nationalist fight against occupation and a civil war between conflicting religious, ethnic and political interests looking for power, or a share of power, in a post-occupation Iraq.

Withdrawal won't be peace. It's a necessary first step, though.

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McCain may not know much about economics…

…of any kind, but economists of every stripe seem to have figured him out.
ABC News has learned that two former administration officials for President George W. Bush will appear with Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, at an economic meeting today, having signed up to be Obama economic advisers.

Bush administration veterans former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and former Securities and Exchange Commissioner William Donaldson will join former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, and more traditionally Democratic economic advisers such as former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, billionaire liberal Warren Buffett, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, and SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger.
Nice catch.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

And then there were 70.

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And now...

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Good question…

…from Matt Yglesias.
Does McCain speak for McCain?

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What're they gonna do?

Leave him at home? US News...
McCain advisers are already working to improve his own visuals and believe they can match Obama in stagecraft eventually.
Keeping him off camera could solve the visuals quickly. It certainly counts as a necessary first step. Some things take more time. They should have that "stagecraft" thing nailed down by, oh, next March or so, for instance.

Hat tip to DemFromCT.

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Hammer. Nail.

BANG! Steve Benen...
It’s as if the McCain campaign is premised on the hope that voters aren’t paying any attention.
Best explanation for their serial incompetence I've heard.

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…random alright.
Stan Getz & JJ Johnson - My Funny Valentine
Woody Guthrie - Pastures Of Plenty
The Blasters - One Bad Stud
Doc Watson - Anniversary Blues Yodel (Blues Yodel No. 7)
Carl Douglas - Kung Fu Fighting
Keb' Mo' & Rory Block - Ain't Nothin' Like The Real Thing
John Hartford - No Expectations
Nanci Griffith & Carolyn Hester - Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound
Mambo - Conga
The Clarks - No Matter What

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Friday, July 25, 2008

From the "Winning hearts and minds" file…

AP - The U.S. military said Friday that bullets fired by American soldiers killed the 14-year-old son of the chief editor of a U.S.-sponsored newspaper during a gunbattle this week.
'Killed' is 'part of a broader counterinsurgency strategy,' too.

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Good question.

Wally Edge at PolitickerWA
How many more Republican events for Dino Rossi will put up yellow tape to keep out everybody except for the pre-screened true believers, even in a public park?
Apparently Dino not only decides what's worth talking about, but who's worth talking to. Karl must be proud.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Separated at birth?

The General sez so...


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A consumer report.

Got an order from the Bumperactive folks. The Washington for Obama sticker looks real nice on the bumper of Suzy Su, the Brilliant and Beautiful Bride of Upper Left's Outback…

I was tempted to slap on the California sticker, which is even prettier in person, but in the end, this is the one that got mounted on my pick-em-up…

Quality stuff, delivered promptly. They're PayPal friendly, too. I have to mention the miniature bonus stickers that are on the backing sheets for the big stuff. They're enough fun that it makes me want to order again just to see what new surprises might be in store. If you're bumpers are bare, check 'em out.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It all depends…

…on what you mean by "normal," I suppose. Senator McSame
"The people of Iraq, and I've been there, are now leading normal lives."
Most of us, though, probably wouldn't mean this…
(Reuters) - Following are security developments in Iraq at 1730 GMT (6:30 p.m. British time) on Monday.

MOSUL - A suicide car bomber killed two private security contractors serving as bodyguards to members of the Kurdish Democratic Party in an attack on their convoy in Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said in a statement. The nationalities of the contractors were not revealed. The blast also wounded eight civilians nearby.

MOSUL - Gunmen killed two people when they opened fire on their vehicle in southeastern Mosul, police said.

MOSUL - Gunmen killed two brothers and their cousin in a drive-by shooting in northern Mosul on Sunday, police said.

BAGHDAD - A parked car bomb killed one person and wounded four others on Sunday in Alawi district, central Baghdad, police said.

MOSUL - One body was found with gunshot wounds to the head in western Mosul, police said.

FALLUJA - Five people were wounded by two roadside bombs exploding within minutes of each other on different streets in central Falluja, 50 km (30 miles) west of Baghdad, police said.
Apparently his guides glossed right over the whole people and things blowing up part of the tour while he was there.

In other developments, John McCain is seven days older than he was just a week ago...

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…to pal o' Upper Left, and my own personal guru on all things statistical, Darryl, who's been expressing Hominid Views for three years now.

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Tuesday night tunes…

…at the perfect tavern. One player, twelve strings, three sets.
Guitars, Cadillacs
It's A Big Old Goofy World
Nashville Cats
Help Me Make It Through The Night
The Wanderer
Jamaica Farewell
One Too Many Mornings
Pack Up Your Sorrows

Pancho And Lefty
Just A Little
He Went To Paris
Brokedown Palace
Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues
Front Porch Song
Night Rider's Lament
Racing In The Street
Poor Little Fool
Mercy, Mercy, Mercy

Gentle On My Mind
Forty Five Years
Faces And Places
God Will
Heartaches By The Number
You Ain't Goin' Nowhere
This Land Is Your Land

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Eyman's new initiative?

Andrew tells you everything you need to know...
Initiative 985 is guaranteed to make everyone's commute worse. Yours, mine, John Doe's, and Jane Q. Public's.
Keep track. Fight back.

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Or not.

Sometimes a rumor is just a rumor...
Prince of Darkness tells Fox News Channel: His report about McCain announcing his running mate this week may have been “a dodge” by the campaign to grab some headlines from Obama.
Novak thinks getting tricked by his high level sources is “pretty reprehensible.” So, I suppose, was passing on the uncorroborated, unattributed tale.

It was fun for a minute, though.

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A disappointing endorsement.

The NEA/WEA endorsement of Dave Reichert seems, on the surface, to be a payback for the Sheriff's pre-election shift on their legislative agenda. After compiling a 50% record by the NEA's measure in 2005-2006, he was awarded an A grade in 2007, voting in favor of 9 of the NEA's 13 targeted votes. And yes, an A for 69% does sound like either serious grade inflation since my undergraduate days or a distressfully weak curve.

Of course, judging a member of Congress like Reichert by his final passage votes is problematic in the first place. As Daniel Kirdorffer's exhaustive analysis of Reichert's legislative history on six key votes (including three the NEA credits him for getting right) demonstrates, Reichert is given license to follow the political wind on final passage time and again in return for his reliable efforts to weaken progressive legislation in committee and participate in Republican procedural obstructionism.

It's worth noting the issues where Reichert and the NEA diverge, too. They're not inconsequential. They include Medicare and Head Start funding, organizing and collective bargaining rights and merit pay. Part of the NEA has always been a little uncomfortable with the "labor union" tag, but they represent teachers across the nation as a collective bargaining unit and they have a history of pitched organizing battles with rivals like the AFT (AFL-CIO). How they grant their highest grade to a Congressman with a record of opposition to basic rights to organize and bargain collectively is something of a mystery.

Likewise the Head Start issue. Though Reichert bravely lined up with 380 other members of the House to vote for final passage of H.R. 1429, his efforts to weaken the legislation went beyond the committee room and onto the House floor itself - as the NEA's own legislative ratings show. As on so many issues, he's a friend of education when it doesn't count.

Of course, there's a larger context in which Reichert's record can be viewed, one that's relevant to the NEA's role as the collective bargaining agent for so many teachers in so many places. There's the 54% rating from the AFL-CIO in 2007, up from 23% in 2006, another impending election comeback. Here in my local school district, teachers work side by side with support staff represented by the Service Employees International Union. Reichert's made some gains there, going from a 0% record in 2005 to 52% in 2007. Again, nothing seems to focus Reichert's attention like an impending hanging election.

To their credit, neither the AFL-CIO nor the SEIU have been fooled by these latter-day kind-of conversions. They're both firmly in the Darcy Burner camp (along with the American Federation of Teachers.) The NEA/WEA may be hedging their bets, rewarding Reichert's marginal improvement with an endorsement in hopes of future favors if he should squeak through in November, knowing that a Burner victory will insure a progressive pro-education voice and vote regardless of their actions. It's a somewhat shameful explanation (can you spell 'betrayal,' brothers and sisters?) but about the only honest one save unforgivable ignorance.

Hat tip to Project Vote Smart for the issue ratings.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Fresh from the toaster.

Robert Novak via Political Wire
"Sources close to Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign are suggesting he will reveal the name of his vice presidential selection this week while Sen. Barack Obama is getting the headlines on his foreign trip."
The VP choice is about the highest card a campaign can play in the game of steal the headline. Obama's trip, with the accompanying Maliki announcement, must have shaken the McCain camp to the foundations for this notion to be taken seriously enough to be passed around even as a trial baloon.

There are a lot of big Obama moments to come - his own veep announcement, the convention and who knows what reactions to what breaking events or evolving issues. If McCain's ready to use up his best response now, Obama could own the pace and content of the traditional media message from now to November.

Senator McSame? Toast, I tell ya'.

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Worth repeating.

Steve Benen chronicles "...McCain’s obvious incoherence on his signature issue."
* McCain continues to believe Czechoslovakia is still a country.
* McCain has been confused about the difference between Sudan and Somalia.
* McCain has been confused about whether he wants more U.S. troops in Afghanistan, more NATO troops in Afghanistan, or both.
* McCain has been confused about how many U.S. troops are in Iraq.
* McCain has been confused about whether the U.S. can maintain a long-term presence in Iraq.
* McCain has been confused about the source of violence in Iraq.
* McCain has been confused about Iran’s relationship with al Qaeda.
* McCain has been confused about the difference between Sunni and Shi’ia.
* McCain has been confused about Gen. Petraeus’ responsibilities in Iraq.
* McCain has been confused about what transpired during the Maliki government’s recent offensive in Basra.
* McCain has been confused about Gen. Petraeus’ ability to travel around Baghdad “in a non-armed Humvee.”
* McCain has been so confused about Iraq, in November 2006, he couldn’t even do a live interview about the war without reading prepared notes on national television.
* McCain has been confused about his vote on the Kyl-Lieberman amendment on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
Links and more at The Carpetbagger Report.

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From the "Winning hearts and minds" file.

Democracy Now! headline, via am1090...
US Forces Kill Son of Iraqi Governor
Any wonder they'd prefer we depart?

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Ya' know…

…handling the "situation on the Iraq-Pakistan border" is probably the kind of job the old dude is up to. Maybe we could send him there...

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Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn.

Shrill is the new black. Howard Fineman...
If you're in this White House, you want another Republican administration to follow. You don't want a Democratic administration coming in there while the evidence is still fresh, so to speak.
New majorities and a functional Justice Department? Could be fun.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

One down…

Via Political Wire...
"Citing a lack of interest, the Nevada Republican Party has called off its state convention and will instead pick its delegates to the national convention by private conference call."
…49 to go.

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And now...


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Seven things... can never, ever, ever say on teevee, via driftglass
1. Joe Lieberman was and is a lying, warmongering weasel.
2. They don't hate us for our freedom.
3. Our democracy is a gutshot mess, and the GOP is holding gun.
4. The prime directive of our media is to scare us, flatter us and lobotomize us into giving our money to corporations in exchange for crap that makes us sick.
5. A disturbingly large number of our fellow citizens are jaw-droppingly stupid and/or intractably bigoted.
6. Genuine Christianity's worst enemies are Conservative Evangelical Fundamentalist Christians.
7. You can be a good American or you can be a good Republican, but you can no longer be both.
Truth. The obscenity for the aughties.

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What about The Children!®?

Of 808,000 parents deployed since Sept. 11, 2001, according to Pentagon data, more than 212,000 have been away twice. About 103,000 have gone three or more times.

Really. What about them?

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A word of advice, Senator…

Obama visits war zone, seeking facts from military
You want facts, talk to the grunts.

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Ya' think?

An anonymous McCain "campaign official," on the Maliki endorsement of the Obama withdrawl plan…
"The military says 'conditions based' and Maliki said 'conditions based' yesterday in the joint statement with Bush. Regardless, voters care about [the] military, not about Iraqi leaders."
Do you believe that? Do they really believe that?

Put it to the average American - the Iraqis want us out, but the generals want to stay until, well, until they want to leave. What should we do?

What d'ya think they'd say?

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The Question.

It's a good 'un. Obama spokesman Hari Sevugan
"The question for John McCain isn't whether Phil Gramm will continue as chairman of his campaign, but whether he will continue to keep the economic plan that Gramm authored and that represents a continuation of the polices that have failed American families for the last eight years."
I'm thinking new letterhead, same old plan.

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And then...

...the ramdom ten.
Santana - Spanish Castle Magic
Dar Williams - I Won't Be Your Yoko Ono
Sonny & Cher - The Beat Goes On
Willie Nelson - Medley: Funny How The Time Slips Away>Crazy>Nightlife
The Byrds - You Ain't Goin' Nowhere
Dan Bern - Jerusalem
Wilson Pickett - Mustang Sally
Sonia Dada - Don't Go (Giving Your Love Away)
Steve Earle - Sweet Little '66
David Gans - Return Of The Grievous Angel

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Dino Rossi doesn't care about you.

He doesn't care about what you care about, either. While filming this Sunday's Up Front show for KING 5 TV, the Seattle Times David Postman asked Rossi…
...why he refuses to answer questions about issues he says aren’t part of his campaign. Here’s part of what he said:
I only have so much time to talk to the voters in the state of Washington. ... This is my campaign. I’ll talk about the issues I want to. When people have the guts enough to run for office they can actually talk about whatever issues they want to talk about.
What a remarkable statement. Evasion. Confession. Accusation. It's all there.

Out loud. On camera.


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Dateline Austin.

Goldy's at the Netroots Nation convention...
Perhaps the biggest surprise for those who don’t know squat about the liberal blogosphere might be that while 20-year-old slackers in bathrobes are in short supply here at Netroots Nation, veterans and military personnel are out in full force. At last night’s keynote, Gen. Wes Clark called out various groups one by one to stand up and be acknowledged… teachers, medical professionals, candidates, first responders, social workers, etc…. but by far the largest group in attendance were the veterans, and it was for them that the crowd reserved its loudest and longest round of applause.
Thanks for that. Not a bit surprised. This old soldier returns the salute from afar...

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Friday Mars blogging.

Some days I wish I was there...


Well, certainly not "a little bit."

Q: But you flip-flop a little bit too.

McCain: No, I didn’t.
A lot, actually.

Hat tip to the inimitable Mr. Benen.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Money makes the map.

WASHINGTON — Barack Obama raised $52 million in June, a sum that far outpaced the fundraising of Republican rival John McCain and promised a wideranging Democratic campaign that will reach into states that previous Democratic candidates had considered unwinnable.
The Obama/DNC COH is $92 million, v. the McCain/RNC's total of $95 million, but with Obama freed from the constraints of public financing and raising money at about double the McCain clip, this may be the last quarter that Republicans can claim an advantage. The DNC itself took in over $22 million in June, as the end of the primary campaign has people looking at needs beyond Presidential candidates.

With some $328 million already raised, Obama has broken all records and established a new campaign finance paradigm. Bush set the old record last cycle with a finance strategy that involved getting dozens of people to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars. Obama has taken the lead with a strategy that involves getting millions of people to give something. The job ahead is to translate that success into a new organizing paradigm that brings a Democratic campaign to new ground, crossing not only geographic borders, but borders of class, race, faith and ideology.

In other financial news, Goldy has the goods on WA-8…
Darcy Burner has outraised incumbent Dave Reichert for a fifth quarter in a row, hauling in $585,000 over the April to June period compared to Reichert’s $347,000. Burner now has $1.25 million cash on hand compared to Reichert’s $916,000.
It should go without saying (but it obviously won't) that both Obama and Burner can be found on the Upper Left ActBlue page.

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From the "Saved for a slow news day" file…

…an amusement courtesy of Meteor Blades.
Samuel Johnson famously wrote in 1775 that "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." In The Devil’s Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce made the appropriate correction: "With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit that it is the first."

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008


The Rude Pundit on the Preznit's press conference...
Helen Thomas must have wished she was dead so she could roll in her grave.

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Obama on Larry King…
...all you can do is just tell the truth and trust in the American people that, over time, they’re going to know what the truth is.
…that and organize like hell. A couple hundred million dollars wouldn't hurt, either.

Still, nice to hear those words from the next President of the United States. I admit that this year has already produce some evidence that we're a better country than I had hoped to believe.

Hat tip to The Carpetbagger Report.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tuesday night tunes.

The perfect tavern was closed last Tuesday night, so I actually had time to practice a new song or two. I was solo for most of the night, but our most frequent, if slightly irregular, piano player appeared as I was getting ready to pack up, so I stuck it out for a few more. Here's what happened...
Guitars, Cadillacs
Jamaica Farewell
Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues
God Will
Down To Seeds And Stems
I Like Beer
Grievous Angel
Porch Song
Roll Over Beethoven>Rock And Roll Music
Black Diamond Strings


Grandpa Was A Carpenter
The Alamo
Christmastime In Washington
No Ash Will Burn
Runaround Sue
Love The One You're With>4+20>LTOYW
I Ain't Got No Home
This Land Is Your Land


It's A Big Old Goofy World
Illegal Smile
You Ain't Goin' Nowhere
Pancho And Lefty
One Too Many Mornings
Up On The Roof>Under The Boardwalk
Poor Little Fool
Happy Trails

With piano

Mercy, Mercy, Mercy
Love Me Like A Rock
A Pirate Looks At 40

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Baseless boast of the day.

Senator McSame...
"I know how to win wars."
That's the kind of thinking (or lack thereof) that gets GIs killed for no good reason. Eight years of it is more than enough - almost 5,000 lives more.

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Safe to say...

…that if Don Glickstein's rant at Crosscut is "The Progressive Case" against my own personal Congressman, there isn't one.

Accusing McDermott of being a stubborn advocate for universal health care, as opposed to the universal health insurance systems Glickstein favors (a favor returned for paychecks as the one-time - or is it sometime - spokesman for Group Health) may be a case against McD, but it's not the progressive one. Neither is a repetition of the Rovian smears McDermott faced for being right about Iraq.

The tape trial? It wasn't Jim McDermott who "decided it was a First Amendment issue." It was a United States District Court Judge. First Amendment protections shielded him from any criminal prosecution, since he had committed no crime. The Republicans, fronted by John Boehner, were reduced to hounding McDermott through the appeals court on the grounds that he had behaved not criminally, but discourteously when he revealed the uncontested fact that the Republican leadership was engaged in a conspiracy to violate the terms of a settlement involving previous unethical behavior. In other words, Boehner sought damages for harm caused by the truth. If there's a common complaint among progressives about the Democratic Congress, it's that there's insufficient spine among them. McDermott's dogged fight on behalf of basic civil liberties and against the Republican culture of corruption properly belongs in the "progressive case for" column.

Likewise the fact that McDermott has a broad international outlook, with a special regard for the world's poorest regions. I think I'm about as progressive as the next guy, and I just can't see anything wrong with that. Neither, of course, does Glickstein. His real complaint is that while Jim may get all that cash and attention for far off Africa, he doesn't dip deeply in the pork barrel for the home folks. The debate over pork barrel politics is an easy one to distort by simplification, and I don't know that there's a definitive progressive line on the subject. Some - apparently many - of us understand that we have a strong Democratic delegation from Washington - soon, we trust, to become even stronger. While it's every Congressmember's duty to be mindful of the genuine needs of their homefolk as they vote, a Congress in which every member's primary interest is wringing the public sponge dry on behalf of local projects wouldn't produce a particularly progressive outcome. In a delegation such as ours, there is room for a Member who directs our attention to a larger view of the world, and of our own community's place in it. Think what you may about the extensive travel McDermott has engaged in to pursue his agenda of relief for the world's poor, but GovTrack reports that he's managed to be present and voting in the House 95% of the time since 1993. I think we're getting our money's worth there.

Of course, McDermott's agenda isn't entirely internationalist. Glickstein seems dismissive of McDermott's role as Chair of the Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support. First, Congressmembers without some measure of clout don't get onto the House Ways and Means Committee, and members of the Committee without a special measure of clout don't get sub-committee chairmanships. Though Glickstein is probably right that "On some issues, he simply refuses to compromise his principles," that doesn't seem to have damaged him among his colleagues to the degree that they haven't put him in the position to affect the lives of families, the health of children, the health and welfare of every one of us. When Hong Tran offers a quotation like "he doesn't do enough to help poor people," she's simply revealing that, like many McDermott critics, she doesn't have any idea what he does.

In fact, it may be a fair critique, rather than criticism, to say that behind that gregarious Irish pol persona that Jim projects, there lies a work horse, not a show horse. Of course, it would be difficult to measure how many critical human services projects have been passed because Chairman McDermott made sure they were scheduled, heard and voted on. If he were to blow his horn every time something significant to the lives of people living right here in the 7th District passed out of his sub-committee, the racket would surely be considered unseemly. There is credit due, though, to McDermott for every bill passed, every dollar authorized - credit which he seldom claims and is less often given. How many of his critics are aware, for instance, that the recent extension of unemployment benefits - a progressive cause cause célèbre - which was passed and signed was the product of legislation not only from McDermott's committee, but in his name. (Do you really think, by the way, that the House leadership would let a member without clout carry that ball?)

Glickstein's charges of conflict of interest offer interest, but lack conflict. Apparently Jim's got some money tucked away in interests that he's had occasion to vote against. "Why the heck do you have money in Peabody?" would be a good question to put to the Congressman. Peabody Energy is hardly a friend of the environment, after all, and McDermott has a sterling record on environmental issues. That's interesting, but if there's a conflict involved, it would sound like McD vs. his own pocketbook. All that's offered is insinuation, which hardly seems like a notably progressive approach to me.

In conclusion Glickstein goes all MoDo on us and declares McDermott "impotent." Once more, for the record. There's no such thing as an "impotent" Ways and Means Sub-Committee Chair. To pretend otherwise is to be somewhat less than, as progressives like to say, reality based.

The progressive case against Jim McDermott? As Gertrude Stein observed of Oakland, there's no there there.

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And he says it…

Bush says Congress stopping offshore oil it's a bad thing.

Can anyone still think a Democratic Congress doesn't matter?

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Monday, July 14, 2008

The New Yorker cover?

Fixer speaks for me...
They have a right to print anything they want. It's still America ... mostly. That said, it's not funny and it's not thought-provoking. Satire? Maybe but it's a reach. It's certainly in bad taste. Big deal. The Rethugs have done worse.

There are bigger things to worry about than a magazine trying to drum up readership.
OK, you're allowed a few minutes to hope the issue dies on the shelves (everybody who wants it has downloaded the cover by now.)

Then back to work. There's still a war, and an election, and a recession, and...

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Senator Reid...
"Perhaps taking tough stands on important issues is not part of Senator McCain's campaign strategy. Perhaps he's just too busy on the campaign trail to do his day job."
Probably, even.

(Senator McSame hasn't cast a Senate vote since April 8.)

Hat tip to DiAnne at the NPI blog.

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By the way…

…there's still a war.
A couple of 'em, in fact…

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Quote of the day.

The next President of the United States...
On my first day in office, I would give the military a new mission: ending this war.

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I keep meaning to…

…pull together a Headlines piece, because I really want to use this one...
U.S. exports bras, bull semen to Iran
Kinda deserves its own space, though, doncha think?

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I'm not sure what it means exactly…

…(hardly unusual with MoDo's analogies) but it should make Aravosis happy…
Barack Obama may make it to the Rose Garden, but he’ll still be an orchid.

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And now...


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Good question…

...from Robert Oak at The Economic Populist.
How did the concept of protecting the United States economy and national interest end up being a dirty word?

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Howling Wolf - Smokestack Lightning
Mikey Spice - We're In This Love Together
DJ Johnson - Poster Girl
Jimmy Buffett - Hey Good Lookin'
Michael Franks - Popsicle Toes
Curtis Mayfield - We're A Winner
Chad & Jeremy - For Lovin' Me
Mambo - Ginny's Place
Mose Allison - Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me
Gil Scott-Heron - The Bottle
(Hiya Deej!)

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From the "Imagine that" file.

First Read...
“Imagine if Al Gore or John Kerry had changed the facts of a story they told forever in order to appeal to whatever swing state they were speaking in?”
In McSame's case, of course, there's no imagination required.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Straight talk…

expressly about birth control v. Viagra.
McCain: I certainly do not want to discuss that issue.

Q: But apparently you’ve voted against

McCain: I don’t know what I voted -
Toast, I tell you, toast.

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Go team!

NJ's Blogmeter...
We had never seen liberal bloggers attack John McCain quite so forcefully -- and on so many different topics -- as they did this week.
Let's have another one just like the other one!

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Friday Mars blogging.

The way things are going, maybe we'll have polar dust storms someday, too. (There's a larger view right behind the click.)

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

That old ennui.

Is there really anyone left who cares what Jesse Jackson thinks about anything? He had his time, and in his time he had his supporters - myself among them - but now?

Really, who cares?

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

He said what?

What he said
"Americans have got to understand that we are paying present-day retirees with the taxes paid by young workers in America today. And that's a disgrace. It's an absolute disgrace, and it's got to be fixed."
What he meant...
“McCain is saying, again, that the problem with Social Security is that Social Security is Social Security, instead of something else.”
What he is...

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Maybe he is The One...

Hat tip to Howie.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

What he said.

Steve M. on FISA...
Snark aside, the big problem is that the public isn't with us on this; on Iraq, on Katrina, on the economy, on Terri Schiavo, the vast majority of America is on our side -- but on dirty, nasty things done in the shadows in the name of security, Americans are still at the wrong end of the learning curve. I'm not sure the 120 days before a presidential election are the right time for a cram course, and that's what I think Obama is thinking, too; it's regrettable, but I don't blame him.
And this, too, from Jeralyn...
Obama's FISA stance was predictable months ago. He has always been a compromiser. It's why he wasn't my first or second choice for the the Democratic nomination. I don't want a President who reaches out to Republicans when he should be fighting them.

Nonetheless, as between a President who reaches out to Republicans and one who is a Republican, the one who merely reaches out is preferable.
I wish this was the first or last thing I think Barack Obama is wrong about, but I'm conscious that I'm not a typical American - or even Democratic - voter. If issues like FISA were at the top or most folks agenda, Chris Dodd would be pondering potential running mates about now.

That doesn't mean we should shut up about the attack on our 4th Amendment freedoms, but as we try to educate our fellow citizens, we should be looking for more effective vehicles than attacking our nominee.

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From the "Me too" file.

Iraq wants U.S. withdrawal deadline
Me too.

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Snark of the day.

Anonymous Liberal

...McCain's chief of staff had this to say:
“John doesn’t ever want to be something that he is not,” Mr. Salter said, including trying to pass himself off as a larger-than-life figure on stage.
That's a good thing, because McCain seems to have a hard enough time passing himself off as alive.

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Monday, July 07, 2008


Hat tip to Lee.


From the "Since you asked" file.

Kathryn Jean Lopez, via Kos...
A totally crazy Saturday-morning thought: Wouldn't George W. Bush make an awesome high-school government teacher?
Since you asked, no.

I'll concede, though, that it's "totally crazy."

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First they came for…

…the librarians.

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Fun facts.

Via the WaPo...
The current GOP platform is a 100-page document, and all but nine pages mention Bush's name.
He broke it. They bought it.

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A few words on flip-floppery...

...from John Maynard Keynes.
"When the facts change, I change my opinion. What do you do, sir?"

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Everything you need to know.

jnfr explains it all.
Barack Obama intends to bring the troops home from Iraq. John NcCain, on the other hand, wants to maintain a permanent military presence there. Everything else is details...
Beyond timelines, refinements and all the blah, blah, blah, that's all there is. Do you want it to end sooner or never?

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Monday Mercury blogging.


Hat tip to Petulant at Shakesville.

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

One of these things is not like the other.

Bush backs strong dollar policy
Weak dollar driving up prices

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From the "Ain't that America" file.

Hat tip to Len.

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…but still no cigar for the AP's Liz Sidoti. Regarding her pal John, she writes
McCain also doesn't seem to have a coherent message let alone much of a strategy...
It's not the way it "seems," Liz. It's the way it is. C'mon, just admit it.

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And now...


Saturday, July 05, 2008

The feeling, I assure you…

…is mutual. Senator McSame, via Fixer (my emphasis).
"Now we’ve got the cables. We’ve got talk radio. We’ve got the bloggers. I hate the bloggers. We’ve got all kinds of sources of information."

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Any takers yet?

My blog is worth $38,388.72.
How much is your blog worth?

Deep discounts for the right buyer.


As usual...

...the unusual - another random ten.
Clarence Bucaro - Light Me A Candle
The Temptations - The Way You Do The Things You Do
Russ Freeman & Shelly Manne - Blue Monk
David Gans - An American Family
The Clarks - Born Too Late
The Band - Chest Fever
Christine Kane - She Don't Like Roses
Grand Funk Railroad - Are You Ready
Bare Naked Ladies - Brian Wilson
David Bowie - Changes

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Friday, July 04, 2008

Hey, ya' know what today is?

It's Alternate Brain's 4th blogiversary!

Keeping a blog going that long is no small thing. Doing it as well as Fixer and Gordon do? Well, that's a big thing indeed. From an old soldier to his favorite Marine and Airman, thanks for all the news and views - and the smiles and chuckles that go along with 'em.

Looking forward to many more.

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R.I.P. R.I.H.

Jesse Helms, bigot.

No redeeming qualities. None.

May he rot in Hell.

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…dictates that I recycle this one. The Brilliant and Beautiful Bride of Upper Left thinks it's one of my best. Who am I to disagree?

From July 3, 2004...

I was a soldier once...

...and one of the lasting effects has been to make Independence Day a bit more meaningful to me. 33 years ago (37 now) today I was on a plane bound for the air base in Bien Hoa, Vietnam. We took off on July 3 and about 24 hours later, landed on July 5. That year, there was no Independence Day for me. The international date line swallowed the 4th of July whole.

A year later, I celebrated the 4th as a civilian for the first time in three years, and every year since, it's given me pause as I've reflected on that trans-Pacific voyage and the events that followed. I served at a time when the war was over for a lot of people - people who accepted Nixon's strategy of slow withdrawal. Thousands were coming home, after all. Still, many of us were still going over. We were the 'left overs,' the 'clean up crew.' We were the men John Kerry was speaking for in his famous Senate testimony, the ones who risked being among the last to die for a war that had by then been widely recognized as a mistake.

Today, the Brilliant and Beautiful Bride of Upper Left and I journeyed across the county to visit the traveling reproduction of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, commonly known as The Wall. As I walked along the panels carrying the 58,228 names of those who died in Vietnam, the black tablets grew larger, and at the very apex, filling three of the tallest panels, I found the names of those who died while I was in country. Hundreds and hundreds of names. Among them the name of one of my basic training sergeants. A case, I prayed, of mistaken identity, hoping, but not at all certain, that there must have been another Sgt. Luis Campos, and the gruff bear of a man that taught me to use a rifle with confidence and a bayonet with ferocity retired comfortably without facing another tour in Vietnam.

Whether he was my Sgt. Campos or not isn't so important, really. I was lucky. My battalion took losses, but my company came through unscathed. I saw bodies, but not of those I knew best, those I called friends. Still, each of the names on that wall, and especially on those three tall, silent panels, was more than a stranger. They were, they are, my brothers, every one.

I missed a 4th of July in 1971. They've missed every one since. Tomorrow, I'll put on a uniform and travel north to parade with a veteran's drill team in a small town celebration, and come home to burn some meat and drink some beer with my family. It's bound to be a good day. I have 58,228 reasons to celebrate, because they can't, and I owe them.

Happy 4th.
No wall this year, and no parade, but many more reasons to make the day memorable. Hope yours is a good one.

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That's why the lady is a…

…liar. Susan Collins, 1996…
"I have pledged that if I am elected I will only serve two terms regardless of whether a term limits constitutional amendment passes or not."
Susan Collins, 2002...
"I intend to serve only two terms as I indicated in the Sanfgord forum 6 years ago."
In 2008 you can help Tom Allen make an honest woman out of her at the Upper Left ActBlue page.

Hat tip to Todd Beeton.

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Friday Mars blogging.

No fireworks, no cookouts, but a little red, white and blue for the Red Planet.

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California dreaming.

The folks at Bumperactive are 17 states into their 50 Ways To Vote Obama project. I'm pretty happy with the Washington entry…

…but for the first time in years I kinda wish I was a Californian again…

Good stuff, and there's a nice kickback to the Obama campaign to boot.

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Thanks... the Younger Daughter Of Upper Left (aka The Princess) and her Prince Charming for as fine a Father's Day gift as I've ever had - and I've been a father a good long while now. I finally cashed it in today - a trip to Woodland Park Zoo with the Quarterback. The Brilliant and Beautiful Bride of Upper Left was along (appropriate since none of this - literally - would have been possible without her.)

Funny a day with a two year old can make everything just a little bit better and brighter, even in a classic northwest summer drizzle. These days, anyway. Don't remember it exactly that way when my crew were two, but it is to remember that far back.

This scene, at the intersection of the bears and otters, produced the picture of the day...

Really a wonderful day (have I mentioned that my grandson is not only perfectly behaved but brilliant beyond his years? Consider it mentioned. And it's true... really, it is.)

Thanks again to the kids for the gift, the BBBUL for the company and the Quarterback for all the joy he brings to my world.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Dateline Fantasy Island.

They just keep making stuff up...
According to Tuesday's press pool report, Obama denied the boy, saying, "If I start that..." before trailing off and turning away. The interpretation from various news outlets insinuated that Obama was shying away from a greeting that was labeled a "terrorist fist jab" last month after Michelle Obama bumped fists with her husband on stage in St Paul.

Well, it turns out the fist bump refusal was much ado about nothing, and much to do about a child hoping for an indelible Obama marking on his hand.
Makes you wonder how much imaginary news gets by without inspection.

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Time is money…

…and vice versa.

Like everyone hereabouts, and a good many of y'all thereabouts, I was shocked by the news of the fire that destroyed Darcy Burner's home yesterday, and grateful that the family escaped without injury. Darcy's issued a statement and, unsurprisingly to those who know her, has encouraged gestures of financial support to be sent to animal shelters and firefighter's charities. Good causes, no doubt.

I'm sure she'll pardon me, though, if I prefer Goldy's plan...
Darcy needs to raise about $150,000 this July to keep pace with Dave Reichert and her own 2006 fundraising, and every day she takes off makes her campaign budget that much harder to hit. That’s about $5,000 a day.

And that’s why I’m joining with bloggers nationwide to ask our readers to contribute what they can today, to help give Darcy the breathing room she needs to tend to her own affairs without worrying about neglecting her campaign. Every $5,000 increment we raise represents a day that Darcy won’t have to dedicate to her own fundraising efforts. It is a gift more precious than money; it is a gift of time.

You can help buy Darcy some time at the Upper Left ActBlue page.

And yeah, I think the shirt is cool, too...


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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Trio tonight…

…eventually. Tuesday night tunes at the perfect tavern again. First set was solo, second set with another guitar and we closed the night with two guitars and piano. It went like this…

Up On The Roof>Under The Boardwalk
Christmastime In Washington
Hard Loving Loser
In The Jailhouse
Love's Gonna Live Here Again
Grandpa Was A Carpenter
Nightrider's Lament
Pack Up Your Sorrows
One Too Many Mornings

It's A Big Old Goofy World
Jamaica Farewell
She Belongs To Me
Poor Little Fool
Nightrider's Lament
Pack Up Your Sorrows
One Too Many Mornings
Kansas City>Sweet Home Chicago>Blue Suede Shoes

A Pirate Looks At 40
Mercy, Mercy, Mercy
Slip Sliding Away
Rainbows All Over Your Blues
Roll Over Beethoven>Rock And Roll Music>Johnny B. Goode
The Porch Song
This Land Is Your Land
Rambling 'Round>Goodnight Irene

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The brouhaha over the AP's bungled reporting of Obama's position on supporting religious charities reminded me of something I was puzzling over before the Clark affair disracted me. Reporting on the Supreme's DC gun decision, the AP's Liz Sidoti led with this...
John McCain welcomed a Supreme Court decision invalidating a District of Columbia handgun ban. Barack Obama sought to straddle the subject by saying he favors an individual's right to bear firearms as well as a government's right to regulate them.
Let's see, the Supreme Court ruled that there is an individual right to bear arms, but that the government has a right to regulate the exercise of that right. Obama, on the other hand, believes that there is an individual right to bear arms, but that the government has a right to regulate the exercise of that right.

"Straddle," Liz? I think the word you were looking for was "agreed."

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AP 0, Obama 2…

First Read...
The Obama campaign says the AP's first report this morning that Obama supports "their [faith-based organizations'] ability to hire and fire based on faith" is incorrect. In fact, Obama's plan, they say, would prevent organizations from discriminating based on faith.

Note: The second version of AP story says Obama would support "some ability to hire and fire based on faith." The change is of one word, from "their" to "some."

But the campaign says the second version is still inaccurate.
I'll trust the campaign on this one. Hotline has the transcript of Obama's remarks on federal support for programs sponsored by religious organizations or congregations. While there's no specific mention of hiring in the speech, Obama cites his background as a teacher of constitutional law and explicitly supports the separation doctrine at the outset, and does directly address proselytization and discrimination in the provision of service...
First, if you get a federal grant, you can’t use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can’t discriminate against them – or against the people you hire – on the basis of their religion. Second, federal dollars that go directly to churches, temples, and mosques can only be used on secular programs. And we’ll also ensure that taxpayer dollars only go to those programs that actually work.
He clearly envisions something very different than the Bushco™ brand of faith-based initiatives (Included in the specific proposals the speech outlines is the closure of Bush's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives in favor of a new council with a clean slate). Doesn't sound inclined to support discriminatory hiring to me. There's further assurance here (my emphasis)...
Every house of worship that wants to run an effective program and that’s willing to abide by our constitution – from the largest mega-churches and synagogues to the smallest store-front churches and mosques – can and will have access to the information and support they need to run that program.
Hard to see how you could abide by the constitution while using a religious test for hiring. Based on what Obama said, there's just nothing to support the AP's interpretation.

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