Friday, July 31, 2009

Quote of the day.

Henry Louis Gates...
"When he's not arresting you, Sergeant Crowley is a really likable guy."

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From the "…half of 'em are dumber than that" file.

Streak helps fill it up with some notes on a recent poll...
"Fifty-six percent of respondents said that they were not willing to pay more in taxes in order to reduce the deficit, and nearly as many said they were not willing for the government to provide fewer services in areas such as health care, education and defense spending."
Ok, then. 56% of 'em are dumber than that.

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From the "Kill people, break things" file.

(CNN) -- The U.S. military did major damage to the site of one of the wonders of the ancient world while converting it into a base, the United Nations said in a new report.

The site of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon was converted into Camp Alpha shortly after the United States invaded Iraq in 2003.
With, of course, the best of intentions...
A military official said she had not seen the U.N. report, but added that one of the reasons troops set up a base at the site was to safeguard it.
Wait, I think I've heard this song before...

Tell you all a story from across the sea
'Bout a little town they call Ben Tre
Set on a river bank, peaceful as you please
Till it got caught between two ideologies…

With so much change everywhere you turn, I suppose it's a bit reassuring that the infantry's preservationist impulses remain pretty much the same.

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The right way in Iraq is out.

Colonel Timothy Reese, one of those 'commanders in the field' the politicians like to defer to on matters of deployment...
We too ought to declare victory and bring our combat forces home. Due to our tendency to look after the tactical details and miss the proverbial forest for the trees, this critically important strategic realization is in danger of being missed.

It applies elsewhere, as well.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

From the "Speak for yourself" file.

Via Political Wire...
Political adviser Karl Rove and other high-ranking figures in the Bush White House played a greater role than previously understood in the firing of federal prosecutors almost three years ago, according to e-mails obtained by the Washington Post...
Maybe greater than the Washington Post "understood," but I don't think I'm the only one who figured Rove was central to the prosecutor scandal all along. Nice to see the documentation beginning to appear, though.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What's happening here.

I figure it could hit 120 in the kitchen tonight, but the patio should be perfect.

Hat tip to Andrew.

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From the "Good News" file.

Via Washblog
On Sunday, Washington became the 20th state in recent years to ease voting restrictions for individuals with criminal convictions.
"We're number 20!" isn't the most inspiring state cheer, I suppose, but it's good news just the same.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

From the "…half of 'em are dumber than that" file.

Via Paul Krugman...
At a recent town-hall meeting in suburban Simpsonville, a man stood up and told Rep. Robert Inglis (R-S.C.) to "keep your government hands off my Medicare."

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Quote of the day.

Senator George Voinovich (R-OH) via Neil Sinhababu...
“We got too many Jim DeMints (R-S.C.) and Tom Coburns (R-Ok.). It’s the southerners. They get on TV and go 'errrr, errrrr.' People hear them and say, ‘These people, they’re southerners. The party’s being taken over by southerners. What they hell they got to do with Ohio?’”
Poor babies.

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From the "Quick study" file.

Via McClatchy's Wounded Warriors blog...
Minnesota newly-arrived Senator Frankin's first legislation, the Service Dogs For Veterans Act, has passed the Senate.
Al Franken - so effective it's not funny.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Worth repeating.

What people – especially on the right – fail to notice, regularly, is that a good portion of dissatisfaction with congress comes from many in the electorate believing it isn’t being progressive enough and not from some misplaced teabaggery.
OK, maybe it's more refuse to notice than fail, and I'm not sure the left isn't as guilty as the right, but it's still a point not made enough.

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Real, per Digby

I'm an open-minded guy, but that's just warped.

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From the "I wish I'd written that" file..

Frank Rich on Cronkite...
If he was the most trusted man in America, it wasn’t because he was a nice guy with an authoritative voice and a lived-in face. It wasn’t because he “loved a good story” or that he removed his glasses when a president died. It was because at a time of epic corruption in the most powerful precincts in Washington, Cronkite was not at the salons and not in the tank.
Lots more. Good stuff.

Hat tip to Gordon.

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

It's time for...

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Okay, then...

...the random ten. Off the ipod...
Storyville - Good Day For The Blues
Bill Miller - Geronimo's Cadillac
Kinky Friedman - Sold American
Roger Miller - Chug A Lug
The Grateful Dead - Deal
The Gibson Brothers - Ophelia
Nancy Griffith & Emmylou Harris - Across The Great Divide
Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys - Stay A Little Longer
Wylie & The Wild West - Hooked On Honkytonk
Jerry Jeff Walker - Old Five And Dimers Like Me

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Friday, July 24, 2009

On stupidity.

Arresting a prominent Harvard professor for calling cops names on his own property in Cambridge? Probably stupid.

Saying anything at all during a presidential press conference that offers any credibility to the inference that you think cops are stupid? Kinda stupid.

Waiting for meaningful Republican support for meaningful healthcare reform? Pretty stupid.

Worrying very much about any of this when it's 80 something and sunny outside in Seattle? Stupid, stupider, stupidest.

See ya' after the sun goes down...

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Thursday, July 23, 2009


An entry for the "Don't Panic" file from Nate Silver...
The Democrats could find themselves in a better position after the August recess or they could find themselves in a worse one -- how's that for a bold prediction! But liberals' doom-and-gloom, conservatives' glee, and the media's nearsighted reporting are all equally uncalled for.
It's true about health care, the subject du jour, and about a bunch of other things as well. I know we've all been starving for a little progress for a long time, but sometimes it's best to wait until the soup is done. I'm not nuts about the pace of the Senate myself, but what I hear Harry Reid saying, regardless of what he said, is that he doesn't have the votes for a bill that would pass muster with the House and the executive, and I don't think it's Republican votes that are at the root of the problem.

Savor the smell. It's cooking.

That's good.

But it's not soup yet.

That's…well, patience is said to be a virtue.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

From the "Since you asked…" file.

Dave Johnson wonders
Should We Bring Back The 90% Top Tax Rate?
Since you asked, sure.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez!

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Documents obtained by AP show Palin may have violated ethics rules with legal defense fund.
Hat tip to Atrios and an appreciative nod to John McCain for the gift that keeps on giving.

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Post-partisan? Past-partisan? King County Executive candidate Susan Hutchinson isn't saying much about the subject, but at Majority Rules, Steve Zemke does the math...
Since 2003 Susan Hutchison has contributed some $13,525 to Republican candidates, Republican Party organizations and conservative causes according to public campaign fiance records.
And to Democrats? Zilch, natch.

Some folks argue that a Republican ID is fatal in a county-wide election. I'm not one of 'em, but the basic dishonesty behind the effort to disguise something that's a matter of fairly extensive public record? That might be the death stroke.

What is it about being a Republican you are ashamed of, Susan?

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Monday, July 20, 2009

So far...

U.S. suffers deadliest month in Afghanistan
…and there's close to a couple weeks left.


The right way in Afghanistan is out.

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From the "Small Blessings" file.

RNC Chair Michael Steele, via Brad DeLong...
"I don't do policy."
You may, if it's your practice, want to toss a thankful word or two to the deity of your affections. Think about tossing in a line or two hoping he never will while you're at it.

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Put down your drink…

…for your screen's sake, and go read Andy Borowitz.

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From the "Civics 101" file.

The basic notion is fairly widespread, but to snag an example from thin air, as it were, CNN's John King (h/t Fixer) sums it up pretty well…
You know, we had an election in November. What we thought we got was united government, a Democrat in the White House, a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate. Instead it seems that we just have a different kind of divided government. You have a Democratic President that's fighting with wings of his own party in congress, including, this is from Democracy for America.
Sadly, the "we" that King is speaking for here is a pretty big group of folks. Sad because it demonstrates so well the widespread ignorance about the government created by the U.S. Constitution. Parliamentary governments already existed when the founders established the world's first constitutional democratic republic. The differences between our nation's government and those which preceded it were well considered and deliberate. The lack of constitutional provision for political parties was well considered and deliberate.

It was never intended that there be a government united along partisan lines in the United States of America. Our constitutional separation of powers depends on a measure of division between the executive and legislative branches of government, with the apolitical (in the sense that they are not directly responsible to a general electorate) branch established as the referee of such conflicts as might arise from the intentionally inherent tension. Each branch was granted areas of authority, some exclusive, some shared, some competing, some, on occasion, conflicting.

The inherent divisions go even deeper. While parliamentary governments may have bicameral legislatures, the so-called upper houses are often largely ceremonial chambers for nobility and elder statesman, with heavily circumscribed policy authority. The United States Senate was designed to be stronger, with it's own exclusive areas of authority and its necessary assent in the actions of the larger House of Representatives. Of course, the power of the purse is reserved to the presumably more representative and accountable members of the House. That alone, the ability of the lower house to economically strangle any initiative by the Executive or the Senate, creates the real nuclear option in American government and is, again, a point of division by design. (The only Speaker in my memory to have pushed that button was Newt Gingrich, and it didn't work out so well for him, but the button's still there. The House can close the public purse to any or everything.)

No, partisan zealot that I am, I don't expect the government to march in lock step to a party line simply because the party that supports Constitutional governance is in control of the political branches. In fact, because the Democratic Party is dominant in Washington D.C. at this time, I expect and applaud the fact that these divisions are appearing. I like Speaker Pelosi best when she aggressively defends the prerogatives of the House, and am most dismayed by Majority Leader Reid when he less assertive in defense of the authority of a Senate majority.

The separate branches should reflect the different interests of their varied constituencies. While the founders had hoped that the factions of their days might not harden into the parties of the present era, it is the Democratic Party that seeks to most closely realize that founding ideal by offering a political home to a broad cross-section of ideologies. As Democrats, we only require that those ideologies do not conflict with the central principle of a government conducted along Constitutional lines - a government, that is, of laws, rather than of men.

Men and women of varying ideologies representing various constituencies should reflect divisions, regardless of party affiliations. It's in the Constitution. The fact that every American hasn't learned this by the eighth grade, let alone by the time they become national broadcasters, is one of the more serious threats to our republic.

This concludes today's lesson.

(Fixer, by the way, takes this in another direction, leading to a post about corporate ownership of the machinery of government, root, branch and regardless of party. That's another of the more serious threats to our republic, and I commend his observations to you.)

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

It's time for...

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

The random ten...

...Boys Night Out edition. Given the source files, an all male lineup suprises me a bit. The odds would seem powerfully against it. All good stuff, though...
Don Gibson - Blue Blue Day
Lyle Lovett - Farther Down The Line
Todd Snider - Talkin' Seattle Grunge Rock Blues
John Hiatt - Crossing Muddy Waters
Fred Neil - Other Side To This Life
Joe Tuner & His Blues Kings - Shake, Rattle And Roll
Peter Rowan - Ruby Ridge
John Hartford - Gentle On My Mind
David Gans - Waltzing Across Texas
Ray Charles - Hit The Road Jack

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Friday, July 17, 2009

And that's the way it was...

...just because he said so. Just home from work to hear the news of Walter Cronkite's death at 92. I can't really describe the phenomenon that was Walter Cronkite at the peak of his power to someone who wasn't there to observe and experience it. There's no individual, indeed, there's no instituttion in American live today that commands the air of authority that Cronkite carried for so long. America trusted him, and he fulfilled that trust with integrity on and off the air.

Rest in peace, Uncle Walter.

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From the "Since you asked…" file.

Professor Krugman inquires
The American economy remains in dire straits, with one worker in six unemployed or underemployed. Yet Goldman Sachs just reported record quarterly profits — and it's preparing to hand out huge bonuses, comparable to what it was paying before the crisis. What does this contrast tell us?
Since you asked, it tells us, or me, at least, that if it's jobless, it isn't a "recovery," the fortunes of financial manipulators notwithstanding.

Krugman's own answers are pretty good, too.

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…it's not over.
3 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

From the "Strange Bedfellows" file...

Orrin Hatch on Chris Dodd, via Political Wire
"Now, I want to compliment Chris, because when Sen. Kennedy has suffered from his illness, they asked Chris to chair this. And to come right in without staff and to be able do the job that he's done, I'm really impressed. Of course, I always have been; Chris is one of the better Senators here. And I know that Ted felt that this would be in good hands with him."
Cross-filed to "Credit where it's due," because while Senator Hatch is often right only in the sense modified by "far," he's correct about this.

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...I only got this one, snagged from 'Natch, because The Quarterback is three now and Grandpa Shaun's had a pretty big dose of Dora the last few months...

If the wise Latina's Dora , my money's on her over most any white male I know, not excepting myself. Whatever the question, the answer's somewhere in her backpack, I'm sure.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

They want to have their cake…

…and hate it too. Dan Nowicki at the AZ/DC Blog...
Kyl maintains this year's stimulus law isn't working as advertised and argues that taxpayers shouldn't have to stay on the hook for money that hasn't been spent or won't be spent until years from now.

On Monday, four Obama Cabinet secretaries sent letters to Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer asking if she, too, wanted to shut off the spigot of federal stimulus cash.

“I believe the stimulus has been very effective in creating job opportunities throughout the country,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood wrote to Brewer. “However, if you prefer to forfeit the money we are making available to the state, as Senator Kyl suggests, please let me know.”

McCain shot back on Tuesday: “I strongly support the comments of Senator Kyl and call on the administration to retract its threat against the citizens of Arizona."
Let's see, Kyl says "Don't spend it." LaHood asks the Governor "Whattaya think?" McCain calls the question a threat.

Of course, there was no threat in the administration's question, just a question. The Governor, of course, opted to keep the cash. That means one of two things is true - either the stimulus money is doing some good, meaning Kyl and McCain are lying, or the Republican leadership of Arizona is unanimously standing behind pouring taxpayer's money down a sinkhole, at least as long as the sinkhole in question is in Arizona.

Or, perhaps, the Republican leadership of Arizona is simply hypocritical.

Yeah, I know. That's redundant.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Born July 14, 1912…

Woody Guthrie Archive

"Come back, Woody Guthrie
Come back to us now.
Raise your eyes from paradise
And try to rise somehow.
If you run into Jesus,
Maybe he can help you out.
Come back, Woody Guthrie, to us now."

Steve Earle

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Pleasant? Sure...

...but not so surprising. Via Political Wire...
Sen. Chris Dodd's (D-CT) re-election effort "brought in more than $1.2 million in the second quarter of 2009, topping his first quarter fundraising total and outraising all other candidates in the race," the Hartford Courant reports.
The fact that he's raising this kind of money in the wake of some early ugliness in the polls is evidence of a rally that I expect will be reflected in future surveys.

Better that pleasant, really. It's great news for Senator Dodd and that's good news to me.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

It's time for...

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Tell your schoolboard...

There are, of course, shirts and such.

Hat tip to PZ Myers.

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Hammer, nail…

BANG! Debra at Big Brass Blog...
Schwarzenegger is California's version of hurricane Katrina.

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Ten again...

...from the ipod this time...
Jimmy Buffett - Six String Music
Kinky Friedman - Sold American
Jim's Big Ego - In A Bar
Don Gibson - Blue Blue Day
Dan Bern - Kurt
Roger Miller - Engine Engine #9
The Lovin' Spoonful - Nashville Cats
Sam Bush - Eight More Miles To Louisville
Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys - Stay A Little Longer
John Lennon - Stand By Me

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Friday, July 10, 2009

'Cuz if you feel my thigh...'re gonna go up high… David Brooks...
I sat next to a Republican senator once at dinner and he had his hand on my inner thigh the whole time. I was like, ehh, get me out of here.
One is left to wonder why he didn't just get himself out of there.

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Jed Lewison
There's lies, there's damned lies, and then there's Fox "News."

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I'll type very slowly…

…so everyone can understand. If it's "jobless", it's not a "recovery."

Not no how. Not no way.

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Chart of the day.

Via Tengrain...

The usual click drill works.

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From the "Do as we say…" file.

Via Juan Cole
As a result of the likelihood that torture will be applied to them, the US military is declining after all to turn 26,000 Iraqi prisoners in its prisons in Iraq over to the Iraqi government.

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From the "Just the facts" file.

Because info is ammo. Via the AFL-CIO blog...
Profits at the 10 largest public ally traded health insurance companies rose 428 percent between 2000 and 2007.

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

From the "Sad but true" file.

Broder, via DougJ...
Palin, the most colorful and charismatic figure to pop up in the GOP since Ronald Reagan...
Yeah, but ouch.

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

I mean, who needs Sarah…

…when there's a Boehner boner just laying there?
When U.S. House Minority Leader John Boehner told a newscaster Sunday that not a single stimulus-funded road contract in his home state of Ohio had been let, he was wrong.

The Ohio Department of Transportation has OK'd 52 stimulus-funded road and bridge projects at a cost of nearly $84 million.... An ODOT spokesman called Boehner's statement "disappointing."

And Scott Varner noted that ODOT had just OK'd six more stimulus road projects which will cost about $43 million.
Can he even find Ohio on a map anymore?

Hat tip to Steve Benen.

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OK, just one more...

Almost Ex-Governor Palin is ready for her closeup...

Sparkling white tee - Check.
Clean, dry waders - Check.
Makeup - Check.
Coiffure - Check.
Manicure - Artfully concealed.

Oh yea, she's working the hell outta that fish camp.

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I can't help it.

I hate to seem so 'all Sarah, all the time,' but I'm compelled to speak out again, because this time the attacks truly have gone a step to far.

C'mon folks, you know as well as I that Sarah knows there's no "...department of law there in the White House…". "Department of law" is, as every Alaskan schoolboy knows, just folksy shorthand for "Department of smarty pants ivy leaguers who think they know so much but can't even gut a fish."

Please kids, play fair.

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Monday, July 06, 2009

Flag of the day.

The Flag of Equal Marriage...

"an evolving protest flag for equal marriage rights in the United States," whose stars "represent the states that actively perform same-sex marriages."

Hat tip to Studio 360 via David Schmader at Slog.


Let the games begin!

Via The General...

He's got shirts and stuff here.

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Sunday, July 05, 2009

From the "Faint Praise" file.

Josh Marshall...
...I think there’s a small chance there’s no specific scandal and that Palin is just very mentally unstable.
Actually, having an elected official with that degree of mental instability seems specifically scandalous to me, although many Republicans doubtless disagree.

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It's time for...

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Saturday, July 04, 2009

Good question.

Check that. Excellent question. Avedon asks...
"If you are worried about costs, why don't you support single-payer, which will save hundreds of billions of dollars?"
Yeah, why not? Because the 'socialism' thing, well, they're going to use that anyway. Like Avedon, I'm not much interested in promoting a public option, mainly because it seems to lend legitimacy to the existence of a private option, which belongs in the 'part of the problem' column. The main part.

As it stands, any health care solution coming out of this Congress, while perhaps marginally better than nothing at all for some, will remain woefully inadequate for many.

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And then...

...a random ten.
Lyle Lovett - Farther Down The Line
Dwight Yoakam - Honky Tonk Man
That Dog In Egypt - Hunter Thompson
Frank Sinatra - Ring-A-Ding Ding!
Joe Turner & His Blues Kings - Shake, Rattle & Roll
Wylie & The Wild West - Hooked On Honky Tonk
Slim Harpo - I'm A King Bee
Mollie O'Brien - Brown Eyed Handsome Man
Jerry Jeff Walker - L.A. Freeway
James McMurtry & The Heartless Bastards - I'm Not From Here

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Hey you!

Yeah, Moosegirl, you. Under the bus
Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — daughter of Frank Murkowski, who was defeated by Sarah Palin in the 2006 Republican gubernatorial primary — released a statement Friday after the governor announced her decision to leave office by the end of the month. Full text:
“I am deeply disappointed that the Governor has decided to abandon the State and her constituents before her term has concluded.”
"...abandon..." I don't imagine that word's in there by accident. Alaska's Republicans have their script now, and the almost former Governor's been cast as the villian. I'm assuming at least one of the scandal stories is true, because there's really no way this works out to her political advantage. America is looking north and laughing it's ass off, Governor. Goodbye and good riddance.

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Quote of the day.

“This proves once again that the lesson of history is that we don’t learn the lessons of history.”
Terence Doherty on China's grim economic future (though it's easy to find broader application.
Hat tip to ballgame at Cogitamus.

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A war story.

I don't tell a lot of 'em here, but this one's become a Fourth of July tradition. First posted in 2004, I've run it here every year since because, well, I still can't think of a better way to say Happy 4th. Once again, here 'tis ...
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 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.
The plans change from year to year. No parade again this year, but I'll be firing up the big patio grill at the perfect tavern for an afternoon of beer, burgers and bluegrass. If you're anywhere near, well, y'all come. I restrung the 12 string this week, so my George M. Cohan medley should ring right out. Wherever or however, have yourself a great day. There are a few thousand more folks missing the celebration this year, and we owe them, too.

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Friday, July 03, 2009


Crystal. Steve M. on Caribou Barbie...
She doesn't just talk in soundbites, she clearly thinks in soundbites.


Thursday, July 02, 2009

Chart of the day.

Via Brad DeLong

Sure, click it!

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If you think the system is working…

…ask someone who isn't...
The American economy shed 467,000 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate rose to 9.5 percent from 9.4 percent, the Labor Department reported on Thursday. Job losses were widespread among the construction, manufacturing and business and professional services sectors.
Shouldn't be too hard to find one.

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

It's over.

To the President of the Senate of the United States:

This is to certify that on the fourth day of November, 2008, Al Franken was duly chosen by the qualified electors of the State of Minnesota a Senator from said State to represent said State in the Senate of the United States for the term of six years, beginning on the 3rd day of January, 2009.

Witness: His excellency our governor Tim Pawlenty, and our seal hereto affixed at Saint Paul, Minnesota this 30th day of June, in the year of our Lord 2009.

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