Saturday, February 28, 2009

From the "Since you asked" file.

DougJ at Balloon Juice ponders Republicans and wonders...
Republicans once called themselves the party of Lincoln. Then they began to use opposition to Civil Rights as a staple of their “southern strategy”. They once described themselves as defenders of freedom. Then they started supporting wiretapping and the suspension of habeas corpus rights. They once called themselves pro-business. Now they laugh at American companies that face bankruptcy.

What’s left, other than hatefulness and the occasional reference to Edmund Burke?
Since you asked, this…

…only this.

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From the "Me too" file.

President Obama...
...I know these steps won’t sit well with the special interests and lobbyists who are invested in the old way of doing business, and I know they’re gearing up for a fight as we speak. My message to them is this:

So am I.
And you too, I hope.

The bigger the prize, the tougher the fight.

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Somos el barco…

somos el mar, yo navego en ti, tu navegas en mi. Or, as Oliver says...
Your neighbor’s mortgage is your problem. America is not a Katrina-style you’re on your own nation. That abandoned house down the street and the millions like it will become an incubator for crime and ruin, and then your house will lose value and our society will be the worse off for it.
The idea,attributed to Benjamin Franklin, that if we don't all hang together we'll all hang separately is as old as the republic and as true as ever.

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As unusual...

...a random ten.
Buckwheat Zydeco - Put It In The Pocket
James Blood Ulmer - Love Dance Rag
Marshall Tucker Band - Virginia
Ian & Sylvia - House Of Cards
Big Wu - Dancing With Lulu
Carl Perkins - Blue Suede Shoes
Mike Bloomfield - J.P. Morgan
Bill Staines - Spirit Song
Blind Willie Johnson - God Moves On The Water
Colleen Coadic - There's A Hole

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Friday, February 27, 2009

A modest proposal…

…from Gordon.
One thing - these are not pictures of 'war dead'. They are photos of highly sanitized flag-draped aluminum containers that contain corpses or parts of corpses.

I have a suggestion. Put helmet cams on Army medics and Navy medical corpsmen. Little lipstick cams with a real-time satellite uplink. Raw footage available 24/7.

See what they see and hear what they hear...

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Dying elephant edition...
Jindal Admits Katrina Story Was False
Told ya'.
Senator calls Obama 'world's best salesman of socialism'
But isn't selling the quintessential capitalist occupation?
Joe the Plumber suggests some members of Congress should be shot.
I suggest that (not) Joe the (not) Plumber be shut. Tight.

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From the "That's a fact, Jack" file.

The only thing that talking about a post-racial society does is prevents us from talking about real issues. Like a racist society.

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From the "Since you asked" file.

Former Bush speechwriter David Frum has a question for his fellow Republicans…
"Could we possibly act more inadequate to the challenge? More futile? More brain dead?"
Since you asked, no.

But keep trying.

Hat tip to Steve Benen.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Yes, but…

Lots of chatter about Patrick Ruffini's frustration with his party's direction…
If you want to get a sense of how unserious and ungrounded most Americans think the Republican Party is, look no further than how conservatives elevate Joe the Plumber as a spokesman. The movement has become so gimmick-driven that Wurzelbacher will be a conservative hero long after people have forgotten what his legitimate policy beef with Obama was.
Ruffini's frustration with the conservative canonization of (not) Joe the (not) Plumber is understandable, but the problem isn't really with how unserious and ungrounded Americans think the Republicans are. The problem is that the Republicans are truly, and increasingly, unserious and ungrounded.

So much so, in fact, that Republicans like Ruffini continue to feed the notion that Sam Wurzelbacher actually had a "legitimate policy beef" with Obama. Nothing erodes legitimacy like lies, and Wurzelbacher's "beef" involved lies about who he was, what he planned to do and how Obama's proposals might affect him.

In other words, to become a Republican spokesman all he did, all he had to do, was lie.

Because that's what they do. That's all they've got.

In fact, Sam the Liar's the perfect Republican spokesman.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

More of this, please.

CQ Politics...
Some of the first steps Obama has taken as president, along with several of his early appointments, suggest that he actually is rejecting some of Bush’s most expansive executive power claims, experts say, particularly on national security and secrecy.

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Chart of the day.

Via Matt Yglesias

(Yep, you can click it bigger.)

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The other speech.

BarbinMD makes the call, and it's a foul...
Seriously, if you're going to go down the road of using the worst disaster in Louisiana's history to score cheap political points, at least don't lie about it.
Of course, Jindal's a Republican so lies come pretty naturally. It's all they've got. It's what they do. It's why...

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The Speech.

Joe Sudbay sums it up nicely...
That was a President.
Yes, it was. A President the likes of which we haven't seen for a long time, like lots of y'all have never seen. Or, as David Gergen suggests, like none of us have ever seen…

The first half of the speech was FDR fighting for the New Deal. The second half was Lyndon Johnson fighting for the Great Society and we have never seen those two presidents rolled together in quite this way before.
It's been a long time coming.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009


At last...
Hilda Solis was confirmed this afternoon as the new Labor Secretary in a vote of 80 to 17.
Now we have a Secretary of Labor who's also a Secretary for labor.

Any official word on Gary yet?

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Monday, February 23, 2009

She says…

…it's "all over the internet," but I heard it first from SamGrace
(Former Governor of the real Washington) Gary Locke will be
Obama’s (next) pick for the Secretary of Commerce gig
.It may have taken a couple tries, but it sounds like President Obama's got this one right. Gary's a longtime political friend and ally, but I confess to some frustration with him during his time in the Governor's mansion. I got to know him as a capable and effective State Representative for one of the most liberal and diverse districts in the State, and always hoped he'd use the enormous political capital he garnered as Governor to push a more aggressive agenda as our state's chief executive.

There's no denying the success of his tenure, though, both politically and economically. Washington State farmers and manufacturers remember his governorship as a time of new markets opening to new products. His efforts on behalf of our agricultural interests, in particular, helped him make political inroads east of the Cascade Curtain that are still producing benefits to our Party, and created new jobs (good union jobs, mostly) on the docks and ships that are so critical to our economy. Commerce? I think Gary's always spelled it with a capital "C."

There should be no bar to confirmation here. Gary's not the kind of guy who's left a trail of uncrossed 't's behind himself. He's such an Eagle Scout that he actually is an Eagle Scout.

Congrat's Gary.

And to America, too. We're sending you a good one.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

From the "War drags on" file.

Latest confirmed casualties in Iraq, via Chad Shue
Spc. Darrell L. Fernandez, 25, of Truth or Consequences, NM died Jan. 31 in Kirkuk, Iraq.
Spc. James M. Dorsey, 23, of Beardstown, IL died Feb. 8 in Kamaliyah, Iraq.
Spc. Christopher P. Sweet, 28, of Kahului, HI died Feb. 6 in Kirkush, Iraq.
Lt. Col. Garnet R. Derby, 44, of Missoula, MT died Feb. 9 in Mosul, Iraq.
Sgt. Joshua A. Ward, 30, of Scottsville, KY died Feb. 9 in Mosul, Iraq.
Pfc. Albert R. Jex, 23, of Phoenix, AZ died Feb. 9 in Mosul, Iraq.
Pfc. Jonathan R. Roberge, 22, of Leominster, MA died Feb. 9 in Mosul, Iraq.
Cpl. Stephen S. Thompson, 23, of Tulsa, OK died Feb. 14 in Baghdad, Iraq.
Staff Sgt. Sean D. Diamond, 41, of Dublin, CA died Feb. 15 in As Salam, Iraq.
PFC Cwislyn K. Walter, 19, of Honolulu, HI died Feb. 19 in Kuwait City, Kuwait.
4247 altogether.


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It's time for...

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

And again...

...a random ten.
Bob Seger - Love The One You're With
Black 47 - American Wake
Flight Of Mavis - Tops Of The Pops
Marshall Tucker Band - Bob Away My Blues
Jessi Colter - The Canyon
Cannibal & The Headhunters - Land Of 1000 Dances
Big Wu - Puerto Rico
Ian & Sylvia - Molly And Tenbrooks
The Bobbleheads - Bedozzler
Bing Crosby - In The Cool, Cool, Cool Of The Evening

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Enough of this, please.

Democracy Now via am1090...
...the top US commander in Afghanistan says at least 60,000 American troops will remain there for at least three to four years. General David McKiernan also says at least 10,000 additional US troops will be needed on top of the 17,000 ordered by President Obama this week.
Three to four years? McKiernan says? Sorry, General, but the time for withdrawal is above your pay grade. It's time for President Obama to put an end to the Bush/Rumsfeld capitulation to the general officer corps and restore the principle of civilian control of the military. The idea that generals should set, rather than follow, policy is alien to Constitutional government. Generals truly worthy of their stars understand that.

What, exactly, are additional troops, or any troops, needed for? The creation of a united democratic republic in Afghanistan? Conceding, without conviction, the notion that such a thing can be done, it's unimaginable that it could be done in three or four years with tens of thousands of troops.

General McKiernan has been dealt a bad hand, no doubt. Hostile terrain, a population which views our presence on a range of suspicion to hostility, multiple enemies on multiple fronts, an impossibly weak and corrupt "ally" and a mission worthy of Hans Christian Andersen. It's a mission that clearly can't be achieved with the resources he has, it is a mission he has been ordered to pursue, and to pursue it it's understandable that he would request more resources.

It's time to change his orders. The right way in Afghanistan is out.

If General McKiernan can't accept that, it's time to change his career.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

More of this, please.

WASHINGTON — For his first annual budget next week, President Obama has banned four accounting gimmicks that President George W. Bush used to make deficit projections look smaller.
"Accounting gimmicks" is just a nice way to say "lies about the budget." Glad to see that's over.

Keep the truth coming, Mr. President. Maybe some can't take it, but all of us need it.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

I just want to say...

...that political cartoons should make you go "heh," "hmm" or "ha."

They should never make you go "ugh!"

Like Fixer, I won't show or link the damn thing in question, but if you're online you can hardly avoid it. We are all reduced a bit as a result.

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Michael Steele's marketing plan…


Appreciative apologies to kickstand.

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It's like déjà vu all over again.

Joseph L. Galloway, who has reason to remember...
To put it bluntly, Afghanistan today has the smell of South Vietnam in early 1965, just as the U.S. began ramping up for a war that would last a decade and cost the lives of more than 58,000 Americans and as many as 2 million Vietnamese before it ended in our defeat.
Another cost was to the legacy of Lyndon Johnson. l continue to rank him as the greatest American president of my lifetime, which has now spanned a dozen presidencies, but despite his monumental achievements in civil rights, protection of public lands, consumer protection, health care, education and the eradication of poverty on which I base that ranking, his decision to escalate American involvement in Vietnam is the overshadowing consideration that makes mine a minority view, even - or perhaps especially - among Democrats and other liberals.

LBJ's loss of stature has had a corresponding cost for the causes and programs he championed as well. Retreat in areas where Johnson had advanced was made easier by the sense that because of a failed war, Johnson's was a failed presidency in other respects as well. That culminated in Bill Clinton's decision to order surrender in the War On Poverty more definitively than even Ronald Reagan was able to, a surrender that has been followed by, unsurprisingly, increased poverty in America.

My hopes for President Obama are as high as my regard for President Johnson. It's distressing that the perils they face should be so parallel. I hope that their decisions prove different.

The right way in Afghanistan is out.

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From Andrew at the NPI Advocate
Barack Obama's inauguration did not magically solve any of the massive problems facing our country. It merely marked the moment in time when someone who is actually interested in fixing them was put in charge.

The work of remaking America is not complete. And it never will be. There will always be a need for progressive activism.
The election outcome was excellent but not adequate. We've still got work to do, and we've got to do the work.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Obama signs most 'sweeping' stimulus bill in US history
This too...
Obama unveils mortgage plan to help up to 9 million
This? Not so much...
Obama orders 17,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan
The "right way" in Afghanistan is out.

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Link of the day.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

In the tradition...

...of Tokyo Rose, Lord Haw Haw and Hanoi Hannah...

Hat tip to Gordon.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

From the "Elections have consequences" file.

Richard Holbrooke, US envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan...
"It is absolutely clear that Iran plays an important role in Afghanistan. They have a legitimate role to play in this region, as do all of Afghanistan's neighbors."

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From the "Since you asked" file.

Michael Hood at Blatherwatch, on the talk radio mystery du jour...
The question is: when this is finally settled, will there anyone left who still cares what Randi Rhodes does or where she does it?
Since you asked, no.

Well, maybe her creditors.

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Good for what ails ya'…

Hat tip and a heartfelt Heh™ to eriposte.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

And now...

...for the 52nd time...

That wraps up a year of LBJ. New series next week. Guess who...


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Selectively random songs…

…for Valentine's Day. The first ten GAS love songs in from my jazz directory…
Erin Boehme - Let's Do It
Jacqui Naylor - Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight
Lisa Bell - That Old Black Magic
Jimmy Scott - You Don't Know What Love Is
Sarah Vaughn - He's My Guy
Patricia Barber - I Fall In Love Too Easily
Sara Gazerek - Cheek To Cheek
Nina Simone - I Put A Spell On You
Billie Holiday - One For My Baby
Blossom Dearie - Someone To Watch Over Me

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Good question…

…from Brian Beutler.
Why is Donna Brazile on the teevee offering her opinions on the safety of air travel?
Better question. Why is Donna Brazile on the teeve at all?

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Friday, February 13, 2009

21 years ago today... best friend became the Brilliant and Beautiful Bride of Upper Left. I thought I was madly in love with her that day, but over two decades later I find that I'm still learning what "madly in love with" means, and she's the best teacher imaginable.

Talk to y'all later. This day's for Sal.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A "Me two-fer".

President Obama...'s a little hard for me to take criticism from folks about this recovery package after they've presided over a doubling of the national debt...
Me too.
...I'm not sure they have a lot of credibility when it comes to fiscal responsibility."
Me neither.
(Actually, I am sure. They don't. And I'm sure he knows that, too.)

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From the "Elections have consequences" file.

Chill, baby, chill...
President Obama is shelving a plan announced in the final days of the Bush administration to open much of the U.S. coast to oil drilling, including 130 million acres off California's coast from Mendocino to San Diego.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Consider the possibility…

…that he knows what he's doing, because it looks like he's winning...
...74% say Obama is doing enough to cooperate with Republicans, while just 39% say the Republicans are doing enough to cooperate with him.
Hat tip to Political Wire.

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Monday, February 09, 2009

From the "Don't panic" file.

Will Marshall, president of the Progressive Policy Institute, counsels calm...
...Obama is keeping faith with the people who elected him. He’s also maneuvering the Republicans into a position where they appear as dogmatic, lock-step partisans –and politically impotent to boot, since they can’t block a big stimulus bill from passing. And let’s face it: While the president has tried to foster a new spirit of comity and cooperation, the stimulus plans make very few concessions to GOP demands when you look at the big picture.
It seems a bit much to criticize the provisions of the stimulus/recovery/jobs bill until it's actually written, which will happen in conference. President Obama seems open to restoring some of the House priorities, but at the expense of something, no doubt, since $838 billion seems to be the magic number that gets 60 in the Senate.

Meanwhile, he's signed Ledbetter and the SCHIP expansion, ordered Guantanamo closed, reversed the Ashcroft era obstruction of FOIA and has ordered the Generals to create a timely withdrawal plan for Iraq. There are encouraging signs of a new level of caution over escalation in Afghanistan.

Did I mention that we don't torture anymore?

C'mon, folks. It's been a heckuva couple weeks, by any measure.

Or did you think that this would be easy?

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

And now...


Saturday, February 07, 2009

I think I've mentioned this before…

…but it bears repeating. Phoenix Woman confirms (with examples)...
Republicans lie about everything, big and small. They just do.
They do indeed.

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From the "Since you asked" file.

CitizenSteve wonders…
Do Republicans really want the U.S. to slide into an economic depression because they think that would improve their prospects in the 2010 election?
Since you asked, yep.

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Ten to get ready...

...go, cat, go.
Bird Mancini - Magic Flirtation
The Blue Dogs - Instant Armadillo Blues
Jessi Colter - You took Me By Surprise
Marshall Tucker Band - Take The Highway
Bill Black Trio - Raunchy
The Broken Prayers - Laurel Canyon
Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys - I Saw The Light
Rosanne Cash - I'm Only Dreaming
The Blasters - J.B. Lenoir Jam
Black 47 - Forty Deuce

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Quote of the day.

Dean Baker, in The American Prospect
Spending that is not stimulus is like cash that is not money.
Hat tip to The Gavel.

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The truth.

And nothing but. MissLaura...
This nomination is being held up because Solis is perceived as someone who will be on the side of working people if confirmed.
Free Hilda!

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

From the "Since you asked…" file.

John Aravosis inquires
So, yes, Joe and I could have posted a "call Congress now!" action about the stimulus package weeks ago, but who would we have had you call?
Since you asked, and I know this is a touchy subject when talking to D.C. residents, almost every American has a member of the House of Representatives and up to two Senators (offer not currently valid in Minnesota) to call their very own that they could, and should, call. Seems like a good place to start, anyway.
What would the message be?
Still asking? Still happy to oblige. The message would be to support any stimulus package endorsed by President Obama. That would be mine, anyway. If you don't like that one, choose another.

Either way, don't wait. Do something.

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From the "Me neither" file.

John Cole...
I really don’t understand how bipartisanship is ever going to work when one of the parties is insane.
Nor do I.

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The year the music died?

Esquire offers up a batch of cultural obits
Music, a series of ascending and descending tones, died today. The cause was Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience. After the death, a Chevrolet truck was driven to a levee, but the levee turned out to be dry, and several Southern men were seen consuming alcoholic beverages and discussing their mortality.

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Quote of the day.

WA State Senator Ed Murray, on limits to his proposal to expand domestic partnership rights...
People can denigrate gay and lesbian people today under our Bill of Rights. And they will still be able to denigrate gay and lesbian people under our Bill of Rights.
Yes, they can.

And having them out in the open can be helpful, because we can still call them hateful bigots and shun them.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

What's happening…

…via Bernie Horn...
The word on the street here in Washington is that the right is killing us with phone calls to Congress on the Obama economic recovery plan. One congressperson said the calls are running 100 to 1 against it.
What's at stake...
$142 billion for a middle-class tax cut
$47 billion to extend unemployment benefits
$16 billion to expand food stamps
$17 billion in one-time payments to low-income Americans
$26 billion to expand access to health care
$87 billion to help states pay for Medicaid
$24 billion to modernized health information technology
$46 billion to fix bridges and roads
$80 billion to improve public education
$19 billion for school construction
$14 billion to make college more affordable
$32 billion for clean energy
… for starters, and, of course, millions of jobs.

So, what can you do? You can…
…pick up the telephone and call 202-224-3121 (or use the toll-free service at 866-544-7573). Ask the Capitol operator to transfer you to one of your state’s U.S. senators. When you’re connected, say you’re calling to urge your senator to “support the Obama economic recovery plan and oppose all conservative amendments.” Call back and repeat for your other senator. Then contact everyone you know and urge them to do the same.
Did I say you can? Check that.

You must.

This information from a Carl merits front-paging…
Direct lines to the DC offices of the Upper Left Senators:

Cantwell: (202) 224-3441
Murray: (202) 224-2621
Keep those phones ringing, folks!

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

It's good to be B.A.D.

One more time to celebrate the official arrival of Blogroll Amnesty Day
Jimmy offers dispatches from beyond the Cascade Curtain at McCranium. For all y'all outlanders, that's the mountain divide that separates our politics in the upper left every bit as much as our geography. Jimmy's fighting the good fight in hostile territory, posting dispatches about local campaigns and the Tri-Cities' very own Drinking Liberally chapter between his takes on state and national news and issues. He's also one of the valiant souls who have put their body where their blog is by putting his name on a ballot. Definitely a good B.A.D. add.

N in Seattle has been tending Peace Tree Farm for six years now, almost an immeasurable span in blog years. He's not there every day, but you should be there every day he is. (And get well soon, buddy!)

Karlo's the host at Swerve Left. Not just another take on all the stuff we all have a take on (though there some first class examples of that, too), Karlo finds stuff, like the Universal World House, that I don't see anywhere else.

Steve Zemke was an activist's activist in these parts before blogs were an idea, and Majority Rules is an activists blog, covering what's happening, but focusing on what you can do about it. Whether it's protecting what's left of Seattle's once proudly dense tree canopy or what's left of our nation's democracy, Steve's got more than a diagnosis. He's got a prescription.

Dr. Streak is actually Streak's master, so I guess he didn't stop being a Master when he became a Doctor. Streak's Blog makes more sense than that, I promise. Doc's my go to guy when I need someone to make sense of the fundie right, or need a little historical perspective from an actual historian. A certified Pal O' Upper Left.
If you're a blogger reading this, remember, there's still time to be B.A.D.

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Monday, February 02, 2009

From the "Since you asked" file.

Andrew Sullivan, on the Michael Phelps bongtroversy…
When on earth are we going to grow up as a culture?
Since you asked, sometime in the late 25th century. Or so.

If we last.

But don't hold me to it.

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Blogroll Amnesty Day… a three-day long concert held in the woods of upstate New York. There, like-minded people get together, groove to music, do copious amounts of drugs and learn to live in a communistic setting of peace and sex…
…sez William K, Wolfrum.

Or maybe not. It's definitely worth another ride, though...
The Chinuk's Real Oregon Reality is brand spanking new, but he starts off strong by including Upper Left on his short list of "vital cascadian reads." There's some real promising writing there, too.

Fierce Planet is the blog home of jnfr, who I know from The Well. For those that don't know about The Well, casually quoting folks outside the conferences there without specific permission is a violation of a basic trust relationship that has made the place work for so long. Here in blogtopia (™ Skippy), though, casually lifting and linking is de rigueur, so it's nice having a way to share some of the best of a friend from elsewhere here, as I have from time to time. There's a lot more there, though, than I've put over here, so I encourage you to go.

Artistdogboy is another upper lefty, hailing from Vashon Island, and another regular source of insights worth sharing, so Upper Left regulars should recognize the name. Go get familiar with the blog.

SamGrace is A Very Political Woman, who I've only recently, and happily encountered. She does her research and offers background that gives some of her posts the feel of primers for Liberal Democrat 101, but there's always something to learn, or an angle to consider, for us hangers on in political junkie grad school, too. I'm sure you'll be seeing some of her stuff popping up around here soon.

I can only imagine that it's because much of Howard Martin's blogging has been done at candidate sites he's created that HowieInSeattle qualifies for this list. Howie's efforts on behalf of Howard Dean and Barack Obama were exemplary grassroots campaign blogs and his personal site is just as valuable.
By the way, bloggers, if you haven't tried this yet, it's big fun.

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And now...