Saturday, October 31, 2009

If Tom Harkin is sure….

"[Lieberman] still wants to be a part of the Democratic Party although he is a registered independent," Harkin said. "He wants to caucus with us and, of course, he enjoys his chairmanship of the [Homeland Security] committee because of the indulgence of the Democratic Caucus. So, I'm sure all of those things will cross his mind before the final vote."
...I'm, well, encouraged.

Hat tip to Josh Marshall.

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Thought of the day.

greg at The Talent Show…
I think the country would be in much better shape if more Americans realized Republicans have traded conservatism for anarchism.

I think.

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"I have trouble listening to what [Cheney]
says sometimes because of the blood that drips from
his teeth while he's talking."

Rep. Alan Grayson

Photo snagged at Demeur.

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Back in time...

...for a random ten.
Cheap Trick - I Want You To Want Me
Willie Nelson - Heartland
The Beatles - Baby It's You
Linda Ronstadt - Tracks Of My Tears
Alison Krauss - 9 To 5
The Dubliners - Lord Of The Dance
The Swinging Medallions - Double Shot Of My Baby's Love
The Beau Brummels - Laugh, Laugh
Billy Joe Shaver - Georgia On A Fast Train
Tommy Tucker - High Heel Sneakers

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Live from Upper Left World Headquarters!

Our telephonic hiatus is over!

Time to catch up a bit...

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Thursday, October 29, 2009


Logging in from the internet cafe down the road while we take a brief hiatus from phone service at Upper Left World Headquarters (yep, things have been that dire.) My fifteen free minutes with a cup of coffee is running out, but on Shoreline City Council, I'm voting for:
Position 1: Keith McGlashan

Position 2: Will Hall

Position 3: Shari Tracey

Position 4: Chris Roberts
My brilliant rationale for each of these choices will have to wait. Oh, yeah, and Debi Ehrlichman for school board.

Oops, the timer...see ya! Put that ballot in the mail!

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Exercising the Franchise (Home, Sweet Home Edition Part 1)

Before I comment on the candidates for Shoreline City Council, a few words about my town an its politics.

As a general rule, I've got little to no use for the notion of "non-partisan" elections. The candidates in any election, regardless of their ballot identification (or lack thereof) are, as in the King County Executive race, partisans, and the lack of party ID on the ballot robs voters of useful information about their general approach to governance that that information can provide. At the county level, it provides cover for conservative politicians. There is not corresponding advantage to counter that lack of information.

In one party towns like Shoreline, though, it has some marginal value as a way to forward two viable candidates to the general election ballot. In my town, "viable" is a synonym for "Democratic" when party ID is involved. After all, this city hasn't elected a Republican running on the ticket since Patty Murray made her move from the school board to the state Senate during the previous century. We've had a few contentious primaries, but nary a significant general election on a partisan basis for a long time.

Since our city was incorporated we've put a few closet Republicans on the City Council via non-partisan elections, but even those have tended to be of a type that Washingtonians know as "Dan Evans Republicans" and that our national politics once featured under the general heading "Rockefeller Republicans." Those moderate to liberal R's are long gone from the national scene, but there are still a few scattered about here. While they cling to their Republican identity out of tradition and nostalgia, they're often cross ballot voters who frequently show up on Democratic endorsement lists. That's not much of an issue this year, though. Of the eight candidates vying for the four open council positions this year, six have told me eye to eye that they are, in fact, Democrats, and a seventh is running with the local Democratic Party endorsement, meaning she's told the 32nd District Endorsement Committee and membership that she's a Democrat.

Those November contests are somewhat problematic for partisans like myself, since one of the basic parameters I usually rely on to make general election decisions is absent. It also sets up something of a civil war between local Democrats that can spill over when it's time to regroup around candidates in partisan elections. The battle lines seem to be drawn largely between the membership of the 32nd District Democrats organization and Democrats who are, by choice or de facto exclusion, not members. That de facto exclusion seems to be centered less around traditional Democratic issues and values and more around adherence to the agenda of the local Chamber of Commerce, which has been adopted by the organization to a degree that many local Democrats (including myself) are not very comfortable with (my discomfort began the night I asked aloud why a cooler at a Democratic victory party was full of stuff on the AFL-CIO Do Not Patronize list and was shushed lest some of the conservative Chamber members present take offence at my defense of organized labor. It was just the first of several similar experiences.)

That background is the setting for some of the most interesting and contentious races on my personal ballot. I'm a past chair of the 32nd and have represented the organization on the State and County Central Committees, so dissenting from their endorsements isn't something I take lightly. On the other hand, I've been away for awhile, unable to participate in the regular business of the organization because of work and family commitments, and its taken on a somewhat different shape and character during my absence than it had during my years of regular participation and leadership. Commenting on these races is somewhat problematic for me, since I have friends and allies on both sides of the divide, but over the next day or two I'm going to give it my best shot while trying to give the least offence.

Wish me luck. I hope you'll find it interesting wherever you are.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

If you're not local...

...enough to care what I have to say about Shoreline city elections (and that's most all of you, I'd imagine) and you live in Washington, it's time to mark that ballot and get it in the mail. I'll cover the very local to me stuff when I can wrap my head around it, but the state ballot measures, King County Executive and Port Commission races are too important to all of us for most of y'all to delay any longer.

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So long, Joe.

Senator Lieberman announces he will retire at the end of his current term.

Not in so many words, and not necessarily voluntarily, but it sounds like retirement to me.

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Chart of the day.

Via PZ Meyers...
God wants you to click it bigger.

Though, it should be noted, a good many boring, generic Jews f*cking love bacon, too.

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Eight more reasons…

…that the right way in Afghanistan is out.
KABUL (AP) -- Eight American troops were killed in two separate bomb attacks Tuesday in southern Afghanistan, making October the deadliest month of the war for U.S. forces since the 2001 invasion to oust the Taliban.

Making it bigger won't make it better.

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Opting in to "Opt-out."

I'm not too troubled by an opt-out compromise, for a variety of reasons. Neither is jnfr, who points out one of the best...
"... the politics of it are beautiful. Let the Republicans go home and tell their voters that they can't have health care for ideological reasons. I dare them to."
I double-dog dare 'em.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Dear Political Wire…

…if your header begins "Gingrich Will Decide…", you're writing the wrong post.

Unless, of course, he's deciding when to turn himself in.

And didn't you mean "Disgraced Former Speaker Gingrich..."?


Upper Left

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That explains everything.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009


Hat tip to Natch'.

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Good question.

Tom Harper wonders...
And who exactly still listens to the GOP weekly address? Does their audience include ANYBODY whose parents aren’t first cousins???

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It's time for...

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Dawg Day!

And this time I mean day. Seems like forever since we've played at 12:30 in Husky Stadium. It's clear and cold - perfect football weather. And it's the Ducks. Get out there and clip their wings, boys. They're between you and a bowl bid.
Ouch. Hope we get back on track against Slick Rick and his boys in blue next week. I'm afraid that's hope, though, and not expect...

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From the "Winning hearts and minds" file.

Reuters - Four Afghan civilians, including two children and a woman, were killed by U.S. forces in southern Kandahar city Saturday, a police official said.

The wrong people get killed in every war, of course. That's one of the reasons that war should be the very last resort in problem solving, engaged in only the most desperate circumstances.

And another reason the the right way in Afghanistan is out.

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Ten from my ipod...

...randomly, of course.
Robert Parker - Barefootin'
Sam & Dave - I Thank You
The Dimensions - She's Boss
George Hamilton IV - Abilene
Commander Cody - Hot Rod Lincoln
Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys - Stay A Little Longer
The Manhattan Transfer - Tuxedo Junction
Roger Miller - Kansas City Star
Ron Sunshine - Coffee & Reefer
Don & The Goodtimes - Louie Louie

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Quote of the day.

Vice President Biden on the recent attacks by former Vice President Cheney…
“Who cares?”
Certainly not I.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Six years ago today…

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Here We Go!

With a thirty-some year track record as a Democratic Party consultant, candidate and activist, there's no way I'm going to claim to be 'fair and balanced.' Nope, Upper Left will be proudly partisan. I was born and raised in a New Deal Democratic home, and time came to choose a candidate on my own, I got Clean For Gene back in 1968. In 1972, I came home from Vietnam and went to work for George McGovern. In the intervening years, I've worked with and for dozens of Democrats running for everything from small town city councils to POTUS. Now I've got a spot to spout off what I think I've learned and what I think is right and wrong on the current political scene. I hope to offer a regional focus, too, from my vantage point in the suburbs of Seattle (close enough to town to proudly claim Jim McDermott as my personal Congresscritter). Now I just have to figure out the functional side of this thing...
8163 posts and 316,240 visitors later, I'm still figuring this out. I'm bound to get the hang of it one of these days.

Thanks to everyone who's come along for the ride.

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Exercising the Franchise, Part 5.

At the top of the back of my ballot are two contested races for the Seattle Port Commission, and the choices are pretty clear cut.

For Position 3 my choice (and the choice of the King County Democrats, the King County Labor Council, Governor Gregiore, County Council members Dow Constantine and Bob Ferguson, my own personal Congressman and many others) is Rob Holland. He's extraordinarily well qualified for the Commission having worked with and around the Port for nearly two decades. If he were half as experienced and capable, he'd be a good choice.

His opponent, David Doud, is a conservative activist who brings little more than ideology to the position. He's been running one of the nastiest smear campaigns of the year (perhaps the nastiest, but it's getting hot and heavy in my local city council contests, too. More on that to come.) This is a chance to reward a great candidate and punish bad behavior.

The choice isn't quite as clear in Position 4. Seattle Monorail owner Tom Albro brings strong business experience and some impressive endorsements to the race. He leans a little hard on the "not a career politician, nor a pawn of special interests" angle for my taste (experience tells me that candidates who make too much of not being a pawn often end up being pawned by those very interests), but there's no doubt we could do worse.

We can do better, though, too. My choice is career longshoreman and former legislator Max Vekich. Max knows the Port from the inside out, and his commitment to the Port as a driver for local employment is unparalleled. He brings understanding, integrity, and energy to the race, and he'll deliver the same on the Commission.

Rob Holland and Max Vekich for Port Commission.

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Democrats In Disarray!!!

Or not...
A new CNN/Opinion Research poll finds the Republican Party's favorable rating is at lowest level in at least a decade. Just 36% of those questioned say they have a favorable opinion of the GOP, with 54% viewing the party negatively.
In contrast, 53% have a positive opinion of the Democratic Party, with 41% holding an unfavorable view.
So much for rumors of our death...

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So long…

…and thanks for all the pies.

Milton "Soupy Sales" Supman

As another fan wrote, "It was Soupy who inspired my generation to anarchy." Yes, it was, and we loved him for it.

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Exercising the Franchise, Part 4.

There are five more races on the front page of my ballot, four of which are uncontested - King County Sheriff, King County Council, Court of Appeals Judge and Port of Seattle Commissioner Position 1. I'll mark the ballot for my Council Member, Bob Ferguson, in hope that his finish is strong enough to deter future challenges, but I'll be part of the under vote for the rest.

The contested race is for King County Assessor. There are five names on the ballot, three of which merit consideration from Democratic voters. Lloyd Hara, former Seattle City Treasurer and Port Commissioner, is a likely favorite and a good Democrat. Former Deputy Assessor Bob Rosenberger has snagged the endorsement of my local Democratic Party organization and most every Democratic office holder that isn't in the Hara camp.

I won't make a case against either Hara or Rosenberger, and the office of Assessor will be in good hands should either of them win, but I'm voting for Gene Lux. I came to know Gene when I worked for the State House while he was carving out a reputation as a champion of working folks. I got to know him better when I was President of the Young Democrats of Washington and he was one of our strongest supporters and benefactors. He went on to the State Senate and has experience on a wide range of boards and commissions. Gene Lux has been serving the people in one capacity or another for a long time. He's never sold out. He's never sold us out. He's got my vote.

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Well, when you put it that way…

…no, we don't.
These litmus-test issues need to be put aside, just as we don't ask our dentist their political views before they work on our teeth.
Yep, that's Susan Hutchison doing her standard duck and cover. As Kathleen says, though...
I think I would ask my dentist a lot of questions if she oversaw my local jails and sheriffs, health and environmental services and public transit. Wouldn’t you?
Yes, I would.

Dow. Now.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Exercising the Franchise, Part 3.

Next up is the first race affected by King County's new "non-partisan" ballot. Of course, a non-partisan ballot doesn't mean that the candidates are not partisans. Dow Constantine wears his Democratic partisanship on his sleeve, understandable given the typically Democratic local electorate and, frankly, unavoidable give his history as a Democratic Party official and legislator at the state and county levels.

Susan Hutchison, on the other hand, is less forthright. She bobs and weaves, dissembles and lies like, well, like a Republican. That, despite her constant protestations, is exactly what she is, of course. No, she's not a registered Republican, but I'm not a registered Democrat, either. Not having partisan registration in our state, though, doesn't mean we don't have parties. Party identification in Washington is demonstrated in other ways. Financial contributions, for instance, like the thousands of dollars she's contributed exclusively to Republican candidates and causes, are one way to signal partisanship. Running for partisan political office, something Hutchison has considered and explored, is another. She certainly left no question about her partisanship in the minds of the Republican activists and financiers that she courted when she contemplated challenging Maria Cantwell.

Her obfuscation now, along with her lingering celebrity from her days as a TV news reader, an anticipated light off-year turnout and her abject refusal to answer any question that might reveal her partisan stripes have combined to make this race much closer than it should be here in Clinton/Gore/Kerry/Obama country.

Vote for Dow. Do it now.

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One more pitch…

…before I close down the Upper Left Begathon. The rent's still overdue, but the lights and phone are on, so here I still am. The Brilliant and Beautiful Bride of Upper Left has closed a deal or two and has some hot ones in the hopper, so there's definitely light at the end of the tunnel, but my last paycheck was decimated by draws, so there's still a need for a short-term boost in the bank balance. I've said it all before. If you appreciate my efforts here and are in a position to help, here's that PayPal link one more time.

And one more time, more thanks than I can express, both for the generosity of those who have given and the supportive mail and comments from those who can't. And, as always, thanks to every one of you for being here.

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Hard to say…

…because Dick "Dick" Cheney is a notorious liar, but if this is so...
"The new strategy they embraced in March, with a focus on counterinsurgency and an increase in the numbers of troops, bears a striking resemblance to the strategy we passed to them."
…I can't think of a better reason for revisiting that strategy. In fact, if it's so, it's just another reason that the right way in Afghanistan is out.

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Exercising the Franchise, Part 2.

As promised, my take on the King County Charter amendments on this year's ballot. Vote for 'em. The County Charter seems to need amendment every time the Council sneezes and is probably overdue for another complete rewrite, but meantime it's left to the voters to do the housekeeping that the Councils activity requires. Most of 'em are clerical in nature, removing obsolete language and provisions. The most substantive of the bunch strengthens public protection of public lands. Vote yes on all four.

Next up, County Executive.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Susan Hutchison is a liar.
...and a Republican.

But I repeat myself.

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Exercising the Franchise, Part 1.

I'm going to take this in chunks over the next couple few days. Here's how I'm voting this year, starting with the two statewide measures on the ballot. I'd say the two at the top of the ballot, but here in King County, the ballot designers decided that the best place for the top of the ticket would be tucked away at the bottom of a column of instructions. The perennial frustration with Records and Elections goes on.

At any rate, I found Initiative 1033, Tim Eyman's latest attempt to make a buck for himself while inflicting suffering on the rest of us. Of course, I voted no. I'm pretty much a knee jerk no vote on any initiative, and Eyman's no small part of the reason why. The process has been so debased that it needs to be scrapped. It's a relic of the 19th century that we can no longer afford in the 21st.

Of course, 1033 is awful on its own, as almost every attempt to manage the budget by ballot turns out to be. There are plenty of details on that here. Poke around a bit, find that sucker on the page and vote it down.

On the other hand, I'm voting for Referendum 71 in order to sustain the Legislature's passage of ESSB 5688, the so-called "everything but marriage" domestic partnership bill. I'd be happier if all the effort being expended on behalf of R-71 was for an "actually marriage" bill, but we can't let bigotry have a victory on this one. The new law is something better than a half measure - call it the 90% solution - and it's probably the best we can get out of Olympia for the time being, so two cheers and a vote for are in order.

Next up, the King County Charter Amendments. I bet you're on the edge of your seat...

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Good question.

John Cole ponders the great debate...
Do the men who write for ABC’s the Note have sex with barnyard animals, as some suggest?

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Charles Lemos...
It's hard to take an article posted on the World Net Daily seriously but the fact that its author is Pat Buchanan lends it a measure of importance.

I mean, Pat Buchanan's the kind of guy who writes for World Net Daily. How important can he be? Yeah, he's cable's favorite fascist comic relief and all, but that's about all he's got and what's so important about that?

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A quick voter alert…

I'll be posting my ballot choices soon, but f you're an early King County voter and just can't sit around waiting for my full and profound guidance, take a close look at your ballot and be sure you've voted against Initiative 1033. You wouldn't be the first to miss it way down there in the corner...

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Dare I ask…

…again? Oh, heck, why not. I don't really have a fundraising goal more specific than "more," and the problems persist, but I'm very gratified by the response to my recent appeals. You, at least some of you, really like me. All I need is a temporary hand in making the landlord a fan, too, and the way to his heart is pretty simple, as you can imagine.

I think I've said everything there is to be said about our situation here, and my appreciation of you out there, but for those who only check in periodically, I thought I'd add yet another PayPal link. If that's not your cup of tea, there's an email link in the sidebar. If you prefer a postal alternative, give me a holler.

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Chart of the day.

Via Darryl

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Good question...

…from Col Pat Lang.
Does the Times now believe that armed resistance to a government, any government is by definition "terrorism?"
And furthermore...
By that standard was George Washington a terrorist? Were the Machabees terrorists? How about Simon Bolivar, was he a terrorist? Was Emilio Aguinaldo a terrorist?
Are the Baluchis? Really?

That's not rhetorical. I'm about as non-authoritative about Iranian political and religious factions as you'll find. It's not hard to imagine that a group that's a religious, cultural, geographic and language minority has a legitimate grievance or two with an authoritarian fundamentalist regime.

Of course, there's a counter-argument to be made along the lines of "So what?" Sure, insurgents and revolutionaries use terror. What else, in many cases, do they have? Terror is, by these terms, simply a tactic, to be used for good or ill, and shouldn't be considered a pejorative at all absent context. I confess that I'm pretty sympathetic to this notion.

Yep, good question. Got me thinkin'...

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Dawgs lost, the Hawks lost...

...even my fantasy team took it's first defeat this week. Compound that with 11 hours on duty at the perfect tavern, and I hit the door feeling pretty weary tonight. Right now, though, I feel pretty good.

I fired up the 'puter to check on the totality of my fantasy defeat (my opponent started Brady this week. I suck.) and found a PayPal reciept and a request for my snail address in my email. Damn, that feels good.

I won't say it's not the money - I really need the money - but it's not only that. Not by a long shot. It's enourmously gratifying that there's a community of readers that extends from coast to coast (thought there's a notable Northwest concentration) who value what I do here enough to reward it with some of their hard-earned.

The financial crisis at Upper Left World Headquarters hasn't been completely averted, so if you can join in by pitching in, here's the PayPal link again, or email me for the postal alternative.

And thanks again to all y'all who've been so generous. I thought it was humbling to ask, but it's even more so to recieve.

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It's time for...

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Once I built a…

…blog. You're looking at it. Some of y'all have been looking at it for years. If you've been around for awhile, you know that while I've frequently asked you to donate to someone somewhere, I've rarely asked you to send anything my way. But times are tight. Tight for lots of us, most of us, I suppose. Tighter for me than for some right now, as I've explained.

If what I do here has any value to you as entertainment, information or the perfect example of everything that's wrong with America, I mean any value at all, and you're in any position to do so at all, I hope you'll click this PayPal link or email me for a snail address and make your appreciation for that value tangible. If any of my blogging pals feel inclined to provide your readers with a pointer this way, that would be great, too.

For those of you who've already responded with donations, thanks so much. That's a bill, maybe two, off my mind. Of course, there's still that whole rent thing…

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Shorter Rush.

By Steve M., who reads the Wall Street Journal so you don't have to…
McNabb and Obama got where they are because whites graded them on a curve out of racial guilt -- which I'm saying in a purely non-racist way!

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"Well, not this time."

The President calls out the insurance company and their obstructionist allies…
Every time we get close to passing reform, the insurance companies produce these phony studies as a prescription and say, "Take one of these, and call us in a decade." Well, not this time.
That's not his only target. He puts a big serving of responsibility on the Congressional plate, too, urging...
...every member of Congress to stand against the power plays and political ploys – and to stand up on behalf the American people who sent us to Washington to do their business.
Sic 'em, Barry!

Hat tip to our pal on the Penninsula, Tom Harper.

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Beat the Devils! (erm, not.)

It's not hard to understand why the Huskies are underdawgs on the road. It's been a long time since they've won a game away from Montlake. Time to turn that around tonight. I'm not about to jinx things with a prediction this week. All your getting from me is a hearty WOOF!
Postgame Grumble: A lousy football game in pretty much every respect, particularly the outcome. Next up, Oregon. Whoa. I mean WOOF!

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Tune time.

Ten. Randomly.
Nanci Griffith - White Freightliner
Slade - Mama We're All Crazee Now
Herman's Hermits - I'm Into Something Good
Susannah McCorkle - If I Only Had A Heart
The Lovin' Spoonful - Lovin' You
David Gans & Eric Rawlins - Crazy, Crazy, Crazy
Dana Lyons - Swimmin' In The Big
Aztec Camera - Jump
The Dynamics - I'll Be Standing There
Hoyt Axton - Flash Of Fire

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Friday, October 16, 2009

From the Department of Redundancy Department.

Richard Allen Smith at VetVoice...
Karl Rove is Still a Liar
Indeed. Always was. Always will be.

Afghanistan this time, but it's always something.

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Yes, you can.

Ted Turner, via DougJ...
You know, if you economize and don’t buy new airplanes or long-range jets, or that sort of thing, you can get by on a billion or two.
You can, of course, get by on substantially less, but there's a limit, and as I've mentioned, we've just about reached it here at Upper Left World Headquarters, so I'm in the midst of a rare beg-a-thon.

If you appreciate my efforts here and have a couple of shekels to spare, I'd sure appreciate it. I promise not to piss it away on a long-range jet.

PayPal or email for a postal address.


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Obamanist indoctrination.

The President talks to school kids again...
Now, just from meeting the young people here today I can tell that there are so many bright, smart, promising students here. But, you know, there are a lot of distractions out there. A lot of you think, well, you know, I don't want to study -- I'm just going to play basketball. Or, I don't want to study, I'm going to be a rap star.

I want all of you to know that the most important thing you can do for yourselves and for your community and for your country is to work hard in school and to treat each other with respect -- and treat yourself with respect. Because I'm confident that if you all work very hard, then there's no reason why you can't be a doctor or a lawyer. There's no reason why you can't be the Secretary of Education or a principal of a school. There's no reason why you can't be a congressman or a senator -- maybe you can be the President of the United States.
The perennial bromide of "work hard, stay in school and you can do anything" has never had a more authoritative voice. Creating a platform for that voice is one of the important things we accomplished last year that we often forget to celebrate in the shadow of "big" issues.

Well said, Mr. President. Thank you.

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Dear Washington Post…

…if your headline begins "Obama Criticized…", well, that's not really news, is it?


Upper Left.

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Confidential to Meghan…

…OK, I won't.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Once again...

...who'da thunk it? Afghanistan vet Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis...
"Many experts in and from Afghanistan warn that our presence over the past eight years has already hardened a meaningful percentage of the population into viewing the United States as an army of occupation which should be opposed and resisted."
Damn ingrates. I say leave 'em alone, that'll show 'em.

Yeah, that's the ticket...

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Time marches on…

…and when you spend as much of that time on something as I've spent on this blog over the last few years, it's inevitable that you start to wonder if it's time worth spending. Well, it certainly is to me, and it's particularly gratifying when your comments and emails tell me that it has value to you, too.

It's also gratifying when those of you who can choose to recognize that value with a donation, and, as I've said, those donations are particularly gratifying right now as we face some serious challenges in our household finances. There are some details down below, but there's a PayPal link right here, so if you can, please do.

Either way, as always, thanks for being here.

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From the "Civics 101" file.

Garrison Keillor, via Missouri Mule...
Conservatism is a powerful strain in American life that ordinarily passes as common sense. Save for a rainy day. Don't foul the nest. Don't burn your bridges. Don't sacrifice the future for short-term profit. But when it contradicts itself and becomes weighted down with bigotry and cynicism, then it doesn't hold water anymore.
Of course, the small 'c' conservatism that Keillor's talking about is more a matter of temperament than ideology. Prudence, modesty, restraint - these are all characteristics that are perfectly compatible with ideological liberalism, characteristics, in fact, displayed at some level by virtually everyone who hews to a liberal ideology. If fact, aggressiveness, bombast and short-sightedness, seemingly the antithesis of the temperamental conservatism, seem to be primary characteristics of contemporary ideological Conservatism.

That distinction, temperament vs. ideology, is a source of semantic confusion that. I believe underlies the reason so many Americans self-identify as conservative when polled, yet fundamentally liberal programs like Social Security or fundamentally liberal policies like a public health care option remain so popular. Similarly, many people will say they are conservatives because of their support for a free market, without understanding at all that a free market economy is an innovation of liberal government, and a far cry from the monopoly capitalism that lies at the end of the Conservative rainbow.

It's a semantic distinction, but it cannot be dismissed as "just semantics." In this case, semantics matter, and the confusion is emblematic of a failure of civic education in the United States. It's pretty hard for people to self-govern if they don't understand their government, where it came from and who the opposition to that government - our government - really is.

(The rest of the Keillor peice is well worth a look, too.)

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From the "Who'da thunk it?" file.

WASHINGTON -- A recent U.S. intelligence assessment has raised the estimated number of full-time Taliban-led insurgents fighting in Afghanistan to at least 25,000, underscoring how the crisis has worsened even as the U.S. and its allies have beefed up their military forces, a U.S. official said Thursday.

The U.S. official, who requested anonymity because the assessment is classified, said the estimate represented an increase of at least 5,000 fighters, or 25 percent, over what an estimate found last year.
Wow, it seems to be turning out that our occupation has inspired resistance, and as the occupation becomes longer and larger the resistance becomes larger and more aggressive. Who'da thunk it?

Of course, this could be one of those 8th dimensional chess deals. If we just keep escalating the occupation large enough and long enough, eventually we might achieve the elusive goal of a united Afghanistan - against us.

Could the right way in Afghanistan be all the way in?


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And counting…

The NYT...
Combined with tallies based on hospital sources and media reports since the beginning of the war and an in-depth review of available evidence by the AP, the figures showed that more than 110,600 Iraqis had died in violence since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion and up through early 2009.
This, I suppose, is what "success looks" like.


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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Frank Zapper...

…by the late, great Jack Kirby.

Hat tip to Gordon for something fun worth sharing.

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Abject update.

Things are a smidgen better around here than yesterday, partly in thanks to some help from y'all, by which I mean THANKS. The crisis isn't completely averted, though, so if you can, click here. Again, I hate to ask. I'd rather be in a position to send something to The General, and if you've already dropped your blogger support budget on Fran, well, you did the right thing.

If there's still something rattling around the bottom of your change jar, though, I'd sure appreciate your consideration, so here's that PayPal link again, or email me for the postal location of Upper Left World Headquarters.

In any event, as always, thanks for being here.

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From the "Déjà vu all over again" file.

Insurers now Obama’s top foe on health bill
Wow, I'm sure no one saw that coming.

Crossfile this one under "Duh headline of the day."

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Let's be clear…

…the reason that Rush Limbaugh shouldn't, and doubtless won't, be an NFL team owner isn't because he's "controversial" or conservative. The NFL, particularly at the ownership level, is chock full of conservative Republicans, and the league is no stranger to controversy at any level.

The reason that Rush Limbaugh shouldn't, and doubtless won't, be an NFL team owner is that he's made overtly racist remarks about an active, effective and highly regarded player in the NFL. That's enough.

More than, even.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Quote of the day.

Joe Rospars of Blue State Digital on the RNC's opening day SNAFUs, via driiftglass
"You know your web program is in trouble when your site can't even handle the traffic bump from people making fun of your web program."

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Dear CNN….

If your headline begins "Liz Cheney gets serious…", you're writing the wrong story.

Unless of course, the next words are "...about therapy."


Upper Left

More: John Cole wonders...
Aren’t there people who actually know things who you could talk to…?
Good question.

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An abject plea.

There's good news and bad news here at Upper Left World Headquarters. The good news is that after a year long search, the Brilliant and Beautiful Bride of Upper Left has found a new job. The down side of that news, though, is that it's a commission only gig and, while we have good reason to anticipate great her eventual great success, in the short term it means the end of the unemployment checks that have kept us hovering around the 'struggling to get by' line for the last year.

I haven't done much blegging around here during the nearly six years I've been blogging, and haven't been all that successful on my rare attempts, but it's crunch time at ULWH. I'm not talking about the need for a new laptop (I don't even have an old one) or a trip to some party gala or blogger convention. There's a real need, right now, for money for things like rent, food and the light bill. My personal paychecks just won't cover it all, and now there are two broken cars in the driveway with no immediate prospects of paying repair bills.

I'd like to think - actually, I truly believe - that I've provided something of value in terms of information and entertainment around here in the last few years. If you think so, this would be a dandy time to hit that the PayPal button. I know times are tough for lots of folks these days, but anything at all, even five bucks, would mean a lot to us.

I hate doing this. I hate putting my household business out on the street, as it were, but the alternative might be coming home and finding my furniture on the street, or the house cold and dark. If it wasn't really at that point, I wouldn't ask for your help.

Thanks, as always, for reading Upper Left, and thanks especially if you're in a position to help out.

(If PayPal just isn't your thing for whatever reason, email me and I'll send you a snail address.)

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…just maybe, a reporter's paraphrase of comment related without context or attribution isn't actually what "The White House" says.

While I'm as addicted to instant gratification as the average American, it's also possible that it's not entirely fair to pass final judgment on what President Obama's done until he's done doing stuff. LGBT issues are important to me, too, generally as a citizen and personally as a parent, and I too am frustrated by the pace of progress. That doesn't mean, though, that progress hasn't been made, isn't being made today or won't be made during the remaining 80% or so remaining of Obama's first term of office.

Patience can be difficult, especially when delay can be harmful, but maybe, just maybe, it's a bit premature to schedule the firing squad.

Just sayin'…

(Nice to know I'm not alone on this. What Booman says, mostly.)

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Mad Kane explains…

Ode To Party-First Republicans (Limerick)

By Madeleine Begun Kane

When the Prez wins a prize, wingnuts sneer.
When we lose the Olympics, they cheer.
“Country first,” they once said.
Seems that sentiment’s dead.
If Barack killed bin Laden, they’d jeer.

…another reason why…

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It's time for...

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

How 'bout them Dawgs?

Washington defeats Arizona 36-33 in a game whose finish proves that anything's possible in a game played with an oblong ball. What can I say...

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Pop quiz…

…from Greg Laden.

As an exercise in self appraisal, try this. Of the following individuals, which ones can you identify as to what country they are affiliated with, what they may have done to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (they all were), or what job they had?
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Albert Lutuli, Albert Schweitzer, Alfonso García Robles, Alfred Hermann Fried, Al Gore, Alva Myrdal, Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov, Aristide Briand, Arthur Henderson, Auguste Marie François Beernaert, Aung San Suu Kyi, Austen Chamberlain, Bertha von Suttner, Betty Williams, Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, Carlos Saavedra Lamas, Carl von Ossietzky, Cecil of Chelwood, Charles Albert Gobat, Charles Gates Dawes, Christian Lous Lange, Cordell Hull, Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjöld, David Trimble, Desmond Mpilo Tutu, Eisaku Sato, Élie Ducommun, Elie Wiesel, Elihu Root, Emily Greene Balch, Ernesto Teodoro Moneta, Ferdinand Buisson, Frank B. Kellogg, Frederik Willem de Klerk, Fredrik Bajer, Fridtjof Nansen, Friends Service Council, George Catlett Marshall, Georges Pire, Grameen Bank, Gustav Stresemann, Henri La Fontaine, Henry A. Kissinger, Hjalmar Branting, Jane Addams, Jean Henry Dunant, Jimmy Carter, Jody Williams, John Hume, John, Lord Boyd-Orr of Brechin, John Raleigh Mott, Joseph Rotblat, José Ramos-Horta, Kim Dae Jung, Klas Pontus Arnoldson, Kofi Annan, Lars Olof Jonathan (Nathan) Söderblom, League of Red Cross societies, Lech Wałęsa, Lê Ðuc Tho, Léon Jouhaux, Léon Victor Auguste Bourgeois, Lester Bowles Pearson, Linus Carl Pauling, Louis Renault, Ludwig Quidde, Mairead Corrigan, Martin Luther King, Jr., Martti Ahtisaari, Médecins Sans Frontières, Menachem Begin, Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, Mohamed Anwar Al-Sadat, Mohamed ElBaradei, Mother Teresa, Muhammad Yunus, Nelson Mandela, Nicholas Murray Butler, Norman E. Borlaug, Óscar Arias Sánchez, Paul-Henri-Benjamin d'Estournelles de Constant, Philip J. Noel-Baker, Ralph Bunche, René Cassin, Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Seán MacBride, Shimon Peres, Shirin Ebadi, Sir Norman Angell (Ralph Lane), Tenzin Gyatso, Theodore Roosevelt, Tobias Michael Carel Asser, Wangari Muta Maathai, William Randal Cremer, Willy Brandt, Woodrow Wilson, Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin.
Seriously. Read through that list. The people who awarded this prize can explain who each of these individuals is and why they were given the Nobel. Chance are, as a moderately to very well educated American, you can barely identify one in ten of these individuals. So please consider the possibility that you have, as many of us do, too narrow a perspective to be shooting your mouth off about what kind of job the Oslo committee did.
The simple fact is that virtually no one whining about whether Obama "deserves" the NPP, or whether it has come prematurely, has, at best, a very limited notion of who the previous recipients were, what they were recognized for, whether their goals were actually achieved or when in their careers they received the prize.

The Nobel Committee's authority to determine who, why and when to award the Peace Prize is absolute. You may disagree with them if you wish, but their selection is, by definition, the right choice at the right time. The rest of us may be entitled to our opinions, however ill-informed, but we don't have a vote.

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Without reason...

...but with plenty of rhymes. A random ten...
Nina Simone - I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free
Stan Rogers - Rolling Down To Old Maui
Groove Armada - Tuning In
Strawberry Alarm Clock - Incense And Peppermints
Suzi Quatro - Can The Can
Mott The Hoople - Roll Away The Stone
Emily Lord - Saying Goodbye
Percy Sledge - When A Man Loves A Woman
Sam & Dave - I Thank You
Ferlin Husky - Freightliner Fever

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Friday, October 09, 2009

Quote of the day.

Malia Obama, greeting her father with the day's top stories…
"Daddy, you won the Nobel Peace Prize, and it is Bo's birthday!"
Happy birthday, Bo!

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Hell yeah!

Spencer gets it...
The issue is not Barack Obama. It’s what the president represents internationally: a symbol of an America that is willing, once again, to drive the international system forward, together, toward the humane positive-sum goals of peace and disarmament. The fact that Obama hasn’t gotten the planet there misses the point entirely. It’s that he’s beginning, slowly, to take the world again down the path.
Real Americans are pleased and proud today, of our nation and of the President who represents us on the world stage.

Congratulations, President Obama! Congratulations, America!

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Good news.

The Sacramento Bee
In the March poll, Brown was the preference of 26 percent of Democratic primary voters when matched against Newsom and five other potential candidates.

Now, the former governor and Oakland mayor has support from 47 percent while Newsom wins 27 percent support in a poll question offering only those two Democratic choices.
Even better...
The Field Poll found Brown easily beating any of the three GOP candidates among all registered voters, with Newsom winning by a smaller margin.
I'm an unabashed Jerry Brown fan. During my exile in LA, I voted for him for governor (twice) and US Senator. I was a Brown delegate to the 1992 DNC. I've admired from afar his comeback trail from CA state party chair to Mayor of Oakland to Attorney General, his third statewide office.

It seems the time is ripe for the return of the state's premiere progressive visionary to the governor's office. After all, as a feature at his website reminds us, the first time he became governor, he followed an actor.

Run, Jerry, run!

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

From the "Me too" file.

Dr. Dean on "opt-out" public option proposals in the Senate...
"If this is what it takes to get 60 votes I say go for it."
Me too. Again, I don't expect to get much personal benefit out of any of the proposals likely to come out of Congress. If I'm to be forced, though, to make a contribution to an insurance company for a minimal plan rendered inaccessible to me by co-pays and deductibles, I'd prefer to make that contribution to a public entity. Since I'm reasonably confident that Washington would be an opt-in state, that option should be available to me.

It's politically important to get some kind of insurance reform package done this year, but universal health insurance is only an incremental step on the path to a universal health care. If insurance reform is unevenly or imperfectly implemented, that incrementalism carries the blessing of impermanence. The opt-out plans I've heard about seem like about 2/3 of a loaf, and I've been expecting no more than a half all along.

So, yeah, me too. For now.

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Map of the day.

Via The Gavel...

We don't need a public option to compete with the free market, we need a public option to create a free market.

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Good question…

…from dday.
"If Al Qaeda is so desperate to find a safe haven, why haven't they returned to Afghanistan now, when the Taliban controls large swaths of the country?"
Some good points, too…
...the Taliban was ejected from the country the last time they gave Al Qaeda safe harbor and wouldn't appear likely to do so again, and that this Taliban is a home-grown movement with little influence from foreign fighters, and that the whole idea of "safe havens" in a world where terror attacks have been planned from inside Spain, Germany, Britain and even the United States is a false one.
Al Qaeda will never be what it was in Afghanistan. That's a battle we've won, and yet another reason that the right way in Afghanistan is out.

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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Now that you mention it...

Col. Pat Lang...
McChrystal was summoned from England to a 25 minute meeting with the president aboard Air Force 1. He showed up in field uniform? He owns a set of Greens (Class A uniform). He wore it in London to the IISS meeting. The man does not seem to know his place.
I'd been a little disturbed by the photos of McChrystal on the President's plane myself, but attributed it to my general dislike of the contemporary cammo uniforms. I prided myself on being a strack soldier back in the day. I had my fatigues pegged the week I got out of basic training and had my own tw's tailored because I couldn't get my G.I. khakis altered to my satisfaction. Jungle fatigues were more problematic - the cargo pockets made it hard to get them pegged like regular olive drabs, but there was a ready solution - more starch.

Today's fatigue uniform is a puffy, baggy mess. If you starched and pressed them as crisp as the uniforms we wore way back when, they'd be covered with molten blobs of velcro. The institutionalization of sloppiness is just one of the things I hate about what they've done to my Army.

But Col. Lang makes a good point that may have affected my irritation with the photos as well. Imagine the reaction if President Obama had conducted the meeting in jeans and a tee-shirt. It seems disrespectful, if not insubordinate, to select a fatigue uniform for a meeting with the Commander In Chief.

It seems particularly so given the typically wrinkled, always baggy uniforms of today.

/end curmudgeon

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Monday, October 05, 2009

8 more reasons…

…that the right way in Afghanistan is out.
8 U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan

Eight U.S. service members and two members of the Afghan National Security Force were killed Saturday in a battle with militants at two security outposts in eastern Afghanistan, officials said. The attack is the deadliest for U.S. troops in Afghanistan since July 13, 2008.
The war in Afghanistan is either almost over or barely begun. We have that choice. What goal justifies the loss of these 8 lives? What goal would justify the loss of hundreds, perhaps thousands, more?

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Sunday, October 04, 2009

It's time for...

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Saturday, October 03, 2009


Not at all, we're told. For instance, in Vietnam we were concerned that arms we supplied to militias, police and the ARVN might fall into the hands of the Viet Cong insurgency. In fact, it was reported that some members of the militias, police and even the ARVN were actually agents of the insurgency. In Afghanistan, on the other hand…

KABUL – An Afghan policeman on patrol with U.S. soldiers opened fire on the Americans, killing two of them before fleeing, officials said Saturday, raising questions about discipline in the ranks of the Afghan forces and possible infiltration by insurgents.
Never mind.

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Anniversary congratulations…

…to the Obamas. Seventeen years is a good start, but if the Brilliant and Beautiful Bride of Upper Left and I are examples, the best is yet to come.

For you, for us, and for America, I think.

Hat tip to Oliver for finding the perfect pic for the ocassion.

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From the "Since you asked…" file.

Skippy inquires
if you're on twitter (and who isn't?)…
Since you asked, me. I don't tweet. I don't text, either, or im. I blog.

If you, on the other hand, are a tweeter, you should certainly tweet john boehner @gopleader, and tell him you're an American who supports the public option, with the tag "#sickofit".

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Dawg day afternoon.

Once again, the Huskies beat the spread against a favored opponent, this time on the road in one of college football's most fabled temples, but a loss is a loss and the Irish deserve credit for their hard fought overtime win, spread or not.

The Washington line will have to get bigger and stronger on both sides of the ball before they can count on winning games like this. Still, winning four out of the next seven will make them bowl eligible a year after an 0-12 season. That's something, and it's still something I believe can (and hope will) happen.

So go Dawgs, and get 'em next week!

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90% Cowboy-free!

Kind of a one of a kind random ten around here...
Glen Yarbrough - San Francisco Bay Blues
Elvis Costello - Just A Memory
Big Sandy & The Fly-Rite Trio - Steady Baby
Sam & Dave - I Thank You
Paul K. & The Weathermen - Liar's Prayer
War - Low Rider
Stew - Punk Rock T-Shirt Melting
Cherry Poppin' Daddies - Here Comes The Snake
Johnny Paycheck - The Outlaw Prayer
Squirrel Nut Zippers - Good Enough For Grandpa

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Friday, October 02, 2009

Quote of the day.

Drake University political scientist Dennis Goldford, on wingnut antipathy to President Obama…
"If they knew what brand of toothpaste he uses, they'd be against it."

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Of course, one party's catastrophe…

…could be a nation's salvation. Former McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt on the electoral prospects for Ms. Palin...
"I think that she has talents, but my honest view is that she would not be a winning candidate for the Republican candidate in 2012, and in fact, were she to be the nominee, we would have a catastrophic election result."
Palin '12. Go for it!

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Thursday, October 01, 2009


Billy Bob, via Michael Hood at BlatherWatch...
When CBS news pixie Katie Couric stumped Glenn Beck with the question, "What do you mean by white culture?" Beck should have held up a picture of his audience at Safeco Field.

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Chart of the day.

Via the Speaker...

Bigger? Sure, click away!

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From the "Top things you should read today" file.

Top Things you Think You Know about Iran that are not True
According to Dr. Cole, who knows about these things.

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"Fox lies…"

…and Jesse Lee tells the truth at the White House Blog.

By the way, I don't think I've used this space to congratulate Jesse on the White House job. Institutional blogging is a tough gig, and frankly, not many do it well. No one does it better than Jesse. I've followed his path from the D-trip to the Speaker's office and now to Pennsylvania Avenue, and wherever he goes, a blog worth a bookmark appears.

The President's lucky to have him. They all were. We all are.

Belated congrats, Jesse.

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The Five Words You Can't Say On TeeVee…

…says driftglass.
He says more here.

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